Posted on

Best Camping Locations in the Orlando Area

Camping in Orlando

For those who love the outdoors, this is great news. While Orlando does have much to offer for outdoor lovers in the way of amusements, sunbathing, and water fun, there is a whole other side to this amazing city, and that other side is the camping locations. Let’s take a look at some of the best camping options in the city of Orlando and the surrounding area so that you can really get in touch with nature on a whole new level.

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Families, couples, and singles can have a truly unique camping experience when they visit the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort! Spend some time camping in this re-creation of an American Frontier, where you will enjoy the amenities that made Disney World famous in a different atmosphere. You’ll find 750 acres of campgrounds, in addition to recreational activities that include pony, wagon, and carriage rides, the Fort Wilderness Archery Experience, Campfire Sing-a-longs and much more. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert camper or if this is your first time ever on a camping trip, as this campsite caters to people of all levels. Rent a golf cart or ride a bike along the trails as you take in everything that is offered. Now, you can experience Disney World in a way you never imagined as you have the time of your life on this ultimate camping expedition!

Moss Park

At Moss Park, you’ll experience camping at it’s best. Located in the heart of Orange County, Florida, this campsite is great for families, couples, and small groups who want to see wildlife and the beauty of nature in one of the best environments in the entire Sunshine State! Have the best of both worlds as you enjoy the fun of the wilderness or choose to spend some time at the beach area that is located within the park. Go fishing or hiking, or spend some time singing around the campfire. The amenities are wonderful, accessible, and accommodating, ensuring that your camping trip goes as smoothly as possible. The atmosphere is peaceful, completely letting you enjoy everything that surrounds you. Partake in the Scandinavian sport of orienteering, something that you won’t find at many other places! Go kayaking on the lake, hiking along the trails, or enjoy some bird watching at one of the best-kept secrets of Orlando! Tent and RV camping are both available for convenience. Great for leisure and intermediate campers, this is a place you will surely want to come to time and again!

Winter Garden RV Resort

This is camping, Florida-style! Everyone from single people to large families or groups will enjoy coming to Winter Garden RV Resort, as there is so much to see, do, and enjoy. With over 350 sites, the grounds offer amenities such as swimming, games such as shuffleboard, and many other outdoor activities. Set up camp and get in tune with nature, as you will be surrounded by pine trees and wildlife in its natural habitat. Intermediate and expert campers will feel most comfortable here. There is no shortage of things to do at Winter Garden RV Resort, as you embark on a camping trip that you won’t soon forget.

Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday

Whether you choose to stay in a fully furnished deluxe cabin or set up a tent at one of the sites, you’ll want to soak up everything that Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday has to offer! As one of the best campsites in Central Florida, this Kampgrounds of America location appeals to everyone from children to adults. All levels of campers will feel right at home, as the campgrounds offer a castle-themed playground and jumping pad for the little ones, a pool, hot tub, and sauna, bike rentals, and more. Enjoy a game of horseshoes, and don’t forget to stop by the general store to pick up supplies for making s’mores by the fire! With plenty of recreation and welcoming surroundings, Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday will soon become one of your favorite places to enjoy the camping trip of a lifetime.

Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA

Another Kampgrounds of America location in Central Florida, Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA is a place where families, couples, and groups can create wonderful Florida memories! Amenities for campers of all levels include a pool, dog park, bike rentals, and much more. Meet new friends and bond with those you came to the campsite with as you participate in activities such as corn hole tournament boards, or gather at the playgrounds for some fun. You’ll see some of the most amazing wildlife that you could have ever imagined as you observe cardinals, raccoons, Eastern box turtles, and sandhill cranes. Keep an eye open for the turkeys, green tree frogs, and armadillos, and don’t forget to have the camera ready! Your camping adventure will be nothing short of amazing at Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA, thanks to the well-maintained grounds, fishing, boating, and overall wonderful outdoor nature experience. This campsite is truly relaxing and as friendly as can be! You and your group will have a personal experience at this location that is known for being a “slice of paradise”!
Now, you know exactly where to go when you want to experience Orlando from a different perspective! These wonderful campgrounds offer an experience like no other, as you step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and kick back in the true tranquility of nature. You’ll find peaceful, open spaces that allow you to enjoy Florida like never before. Enjoy your love for the great outdoors, taking in all of the scenic beauty that surrounds you at these hidden gems throughout Orlando and the surrounding area!

Posted on

4 Historic Haunts in the Hudson Valley, New York

Mohonk Mountain House in New York

But there’s another aspect of the Hudson Valley that’s worthy of intrigue. The colonial activity along the Hudson River valley dates back to the early 1600s; the area is steeped in history. Many original buildings still stand, dotting the Hudson River Valley with locations of intrigue, battle, history, and haunting.
Next time you visit the Big Apple, take the less-than-2-hour trip to the Hudson Valley to immerse yourself in some historic haunts in the Hudson Valley:

1. Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz, NY

The small college town of New Paltz, NY, has a laid-back vibe, a prominent arts scene, and one of the earliest colonial streets in America. It’s a strange feeling to leave the hustle and bustle of Main Street and walk a few blocks down to Huguenot Street, where majestic old sycamore and pine trees and old stone houses radiate history.
According to the Huguenot Historical Society, the settlement along this simple street in a small town actually had its roots in the early 1500s. During that time The Protestant Reformation, sparked by Martin Luther’s act of opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, had spread rapidly throughout Europe.
By the 17th century, French Huguenots were being mercilessly killed due to their religious beliefs. When Catholic King Louis XIII took the throne in 1610, the violence escalated. A group of Huguenots (including the Hasbroucks, LeFevres, and Deyos, many of whose descendants still live in New Paltz) decided to strike off to the New World to escape persecution.
By 1678, after a long journey overseas, the Huguenots took up residence along the Wallkill River, where seven of the original stone houses still stand. Every October, tours take place to highlight some of the historical (and reportedly haunted) features of the street. From Maria Deyo’s infamous murder spree to the apparent ghostly sightings of a young Huguenot woman who died of tuberculosis, Huguenot Street is rife with history, myth, and legend.

2. Bannerman’s Island in Beacon, NY

Bannerman Island Castle

People who take river cruises on the Hudson are often mystified by the crumbling ruins of what appears to be a Scottish Castle on a small, uninhabited island near Beacon, NY. Created by Frank Bannerman in the early 1900s, the building was built as a staggering homage to his cultural origins in Scotland.
Frank Bannerman, a former Union soldier in the American Civil War, was born in Scotland in 1851. When he eventually purchased the property on what’s now known as Bannerman Island, he designed the Scottish-style fortress as a way to store his huge collection of munitions. According to an article in Historic Hudson River Towns, Bannerman worked on the fortress for seventeen years, doing most of the architectural and engineering work himself. He made the fortress incredibly elaborate, which made it all the more tragic when a mysterious fire destroyed the buildings in 1969.
According to Jane Bannerman, the granddaughter-in-law of the fortress’s builder, Bannerman island used to be known as Pollepel Island and was considered haunted by local tribes. Most recently, the fortress was devastated by a fire that has made the historic site inaccessible to visitors except by boat. Seven years before the fire, Frank Bannerman’s grandson Charles issued a prophetic statement:
Time, the elements, and maybe even the goblins of the island will take their toll of some of the turrets and towers, and perhaps eventually the castle itself…
Also, visitors can’t set foot on the grounds, you can take an informative and scenic river cruise to pass by the crumbling Scottish castle on Bannerman Island.

3. Hoffman House, Kingston NY

Before Albany, the Hudson Valley town of Kingston held the distinction of the capital of New York. During the American Revolutionary War, Kingston became the prime target of a British attack, a fact in the biennial Burning of Kingston event.
After capturing New York City in October 1777, the British sailed up the Hudson River to target the prosperous colony at Kingston, landing at Kingston Point. The British marched along the Rondout River, burning houses as they went along. Though some locals fought back, the British quickly set the entire city alight, burning over 300 buildings to the ground.
Incredibly, the resilient city of Kingston soon bounced back and rebuilt. Now, visitors can visit the Stockade District where British soldiers indiscriminately burnt down houses. One of these is the Hoffman House, which along with the rest of the city was severely burnt in 1777.
Built in 1679, the Hoffman House is a typical example of Dutch colonial architecture. When it was restored in 1976, the new owners took care to use traditional materials—even using the house’s old nails in the restoration process. Now, it’s a restored tavern and restaurant where visitors can enjoy a pleasant meal inside one of the oldest houses in the third oldest settlement in New York.

Mohok Mountain House

4. Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz NY

Fifteen minutes outside of the same town that holds the stone houses of Historical Huguenot Street, the famous Mohonk Mountain House is nestled into the beautiful Shawangunk Ridge. In person, the hotel is incredible and eclectic. Built at different times with different architectural styles, you can feel the history on each floor of the hotel.
Originally built around Stokes Tavern, purchased by Albert K. Smiley in 1869, the Mountain House officially opened in 1870. Since then, it’s seen several rounds of renovation, growing from a ten-room inn on a lakefront to a sprawling—yet isolated—265-room resort in the Shawangunks. With towers, an ice skating rink, a massive pure-blue lake, and all the raw wonder of the surrounding forest and ridge, Mohonk is both a historical and natural retreat. To this day, it remains in the Smiley family through six generations of ownership.
Its age along with the castle-like feel have contributed to speculation that Mohonk is haunted. It is believed by some to be the inspiration for the massively haunted Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel The Shining. Mohonk Mountain house does indeed feel like something out of a storybook with its Victorian castle-like appearance, its giant hedge maze, and the now-unused carriage roads that used to bring horse-and-buggy travelers up to the mountain lodge on the lake.
Upstate New York is steeped in history and culture going back hundreds of years. From strange Scottish simulations to giant Victorian mountainside resorts, the gem of the Hudson Valley exists only 90 miles north of NYC. And it’s worth the trip.

Posted on

Don’t Leave Myrtle Beach Without Visiting These Places

Fun things to in Myrtle Beach

Let’s take a look at some of the places that you definitely do not want to leave Myrtle Beach without first visiting!

Myrtle Beach Family Golf

When you want to go beyond the beach and engage in an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, head over to Myrtle Beach Family Golf for a few hours of great fun. Here, you will find five miniature golf courses in themes that include Jungle Safari, Jurassic Golf, Dragon’s Lair, Shipwreck Island, and Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf. Fun characters add the special effects that are needed for a round of golf like you’ve never experienced before. You can head over to the driving range to fine-tune your golf skills or enjoy some time on any one of the courses.

Myrtle Beach Safari

The Myrtle Beach Safari is something that you won’t find just anywhere. Take the tour and see animals like Ramses the Cheetah, who moved to Myrtle Beach all the way from South Africa, Ahren the African Fish Eagle, who was rescued from Tanzania, Gibbons the Ape, who spent the first years of her life exploring the rainforest of Southeast Asia, and many more. You can even see tigers on your choice of a guided tour or safari. With over 130 animals to see, you can interact with many of them on this interactive experience. Come and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Myrtle Beach Water Sports

If you are feeling a little adventurous during your trip, consider checking out Myrtle Beach Water Sports. Family owned and operated for over 25 years, the owners go above and beyond to give everyone a personalized, memorable experience. You can try out jet skis, pontoon boats, a pirate cruise boat and more. Have some fun on the water while learning an activity that you’ve only dreamed of trying.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Have the time of your life as you stroll along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Here, you will find so many things to do that you may not know where to start. Ride the Myrtle Beach Sky Wheel for a view that you must see to believe. Visit I Love Sugar, a truly unique candy store where you can find things like giant gummy bears and candy sushi. You’ll see fireworks shows, carnivals, and much more. Enjoy year-round festivals, or just sit, relax, and take everything in for a while as you immerse yourself in everything the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk has to offer.

The Asher Theater

Catch a show while you are in town at The Asher Theater in Myrtle Beach. With fun events held all year-round, there is always something spectacular going on there. This quaint theater is inviting for everyone and is truly a warm, one-of-a-kind experience.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

At Ripley’s Aquarium, you can enjoy amazing experiences such as sleeping with sharks, and getting up close and personal with stingrays. There are several can’t miss exhibits including the Rainbow Rock Experience, the Living Gallery, and the Pearl Harbor Experience. You can take a Glass Bottom Boat Adventure and even catch a live show while you are there. Make sure to bring your camera, because photographs are certainly encouraged. You will have the time of your life as you see two levels of aquatic life like frogs and lizards, spotted eagle rays, horseshoe crabs, and many more.

Blueberry’s Grill

When you are on vacation, it is worthwhile to make sure mealtimes are just as fun as the rest of the trip. That is exactly what you will find at Blueberry’s Grill, as you enjoy unique, made to order menu items in a casual, modern environment. Find food that you cannot find anywhere else. The menu has offerings such as Chicken and Waffles with Sugar Pears, Bananas Foster French Toast, the Hey Blueberry Omelet, and much more.

Simply Southern Smokehouse

Eat like a true Southerner when you visit Simply Southern Smokehouse. Make sure you arrive good and hungry because this establishment offers an all you can eat food experience that you don’t want to miss out on. This no-fuss restaurant is known for excellent home cooking, with items that include Southern favorites like Chicken and Dumplings, Sausage and Onions, Pork Chops, and more. Or, you can choose from the Specials Menu, with meals like Baked Spaghetti and Meatloaf and Smoked Ham and Fried Gizards. Save room for dessert, because you’ll find plenty of that as well.

Pier House Restaurant

You’ll definitely want to enjoy some fresh and local seafood while you are in Myrtle Beach, and Pier House Restaurant is the perfect place to do just that. As the name suggests, you will have your meal overlooking the 2nd Avenue Pier and the amazing views. Have a cocktail at the open-air bar, or sit on the patio and take it all in. Choose from a selection of delicious offerings that include Seaside Spinach Dip, a Georgetown Grouper Reuben, a Fried Seafood Platter, and much more.

Daddio’s Ice Cream

When you want to cool off with a sweet treat after a busy day sunbathing or on the go, Daddio’s Ice Cream has just what you need. You’ll find some of the freshest homemade ice cream in town. Have desserts such as sundaes, banana splits, and milkshakes. With over 20 flavors to choose from, you’ll want to come back time and time again so you can sample everything that Daddio’s has to offer.
Be sure to keep in mind that you can go beyond the sand and water when you plan a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There are many activities for everyone, so explore the town and have the vacation of a lifetime!

Posted on

The World’s Top 5 Waterfalls for Adventurers and Romantics

Victoria Falls

Take waterfalls for example. These wonders are pure nature, but can also have the same emotional impact as the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s busiest cities. Depending on the nature surrounding it, they can attract adventurers and romantics alike.
Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure or serene natural beauty, here are the world’s top five waterfalls for you to visit.

1) Niagara Falls, Canada

This fall is famous for a reason. As the world’s second largest waterfall by volume, 7,000 cubic meters per second make their way from the top to the bottom. But the reason it ranks top on this list is a different one: sheer accessibility.
The Niagara Falls is right on the border between the United States and Canada. By most measures, the Canadian side is more impressive. But between the two of them, both sides offer a wide range of ways to experience the falling water masses.
Most visitors enjoy a boat trip on the famous Maid of the Mist, right to the bottom of the fall. The U.S. side offers the Cave of the Winds, a way to get close to the water by foot. Finally, a number of walkways on the Canadian side offer almost direct access to the falls that allow you to get close with this spectacular natural wonder.

Victoria Falls

2) Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Here, we have the only waterfall in the world even more massive than Niagara Falls. It is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every second, up to 40,000 cubic meters of water fall down a height of more than 300 feet. Even more impressive, the entirety of the fall line is a full mile long. “Impressive” doesn’t even begin to describe this sheer display of natural power.
While the official name comes from a British explorer, its native name The Smoke that Thunders perhaps describes it even better. The gorges are especially beautiful to visit during dusk and dawn when the rising and falling sun shines onto the falling water in gorgeous tones.

3) Sutherland Falls, New Zealand

That New Zealand is widely considered one of the world’s most beautiful countries in terms of nature should come as no surprise. Neither should the fact that it also happens to be home to one of earth’s most famous and beautiful waterfalls.
The Sutherland Falls are nothing like Niagara or Victoria. Only a thin strip of water falls down a large mountain amidst lush vegetation surrounding it. At more than 1,000 feet, it is one of the world’s highest waterfalls.
Make no mistake: Sutherland Falls is not easy to access. It’s a destination for adventurers, rather than romantics. But if you can brace the remote and challenging Milford hiking track, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful waterfalls you can imagine.

4) Angel Falls, Venezuela

Angel Falls

What can go wrong when visiting a natural attraction named after a heavenly creature? If Angel Falls is any indication, not much. As it turns out, visiting this destination is nothing short of supernatural.
If you thought 1,000 feet was impressive, how do you feel about the 3,200 feet uninterrupted fall in Venezuela? That number makes it the highest waterfall in the world. And the supernatural element doesn’t stop there.
Angel Falls is a waterfall that does not originate from a stream or river, but simply the water accumulated at the plateau of the mystical Auyán-tepui mountain from which it falls. Its local nickname, Mundo Perdido (Lost World), certainly rings true.

5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

We end the post with not just one, but a collection of waterfalls that form one of the most stunning lake districts in the world. The Plitvice National Park is home to no less than 16 individual lakes, all connected with waterfalls that are nothing short of gorgeous.
The tallest of the falls is ‘only’ 230 feet tall, and none of the is particularly wide. What makes this area so unique is how all of them work together to form a park that seems like it came straight out of a mystical fantasy novel.
In winter, the waterfalls accomplish a rare feat: they freeze and become even more beautiful. But the same mystical element remains throughout the year, as well. For the fans of nature and romantics among us, Plitvice National Park is a bucket list item to visit.
Each of these waterfalls is well worth a visit, for a variety of reasons. All offer exceptional natural beauty. While some impress through their sheer power, others almost seem delicate. Regardless of which you choose to visit, it will be a journey that you won’t soon forget.

Posted on

An Insider’s Guide to Summertime In Boulder, Colorado

Hiking in Boulder Colorado

From the first significant snowfall, folks begin arriving, from far and near, to enjoy the world-class ski slopes high in the Rocky Mountains. The stunning beauty of the snowy mountains along with the variety of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, compels several people to choose Colorado their winter vacation destination.
Colorado can be gorgeous in the summertime also. The little city of Boulder, Colorado—nestled along the eastern “front range” of the Rocky Mountains, at a modest altitude of 5,300 feet—is an absolutely glorious place to be from late-May through September.

Iconic Boulder Summertime Destinations

Walk the Pearl Street Mall

This four-block brick pedestrian mall will delight you with its fountains, street performers, and abundance of gorgeous flowers (tulips of every imaginable color; and other varieties later in the summer). Not to mention all the charming restaurants and small businesses that line it: a discerning shopper’s heaven! But really, simply strolling down the mall on a sunny summer afternoon has persuaded more than a few visitors to become permanent Boulder residents.

Take in a Bands On The Bricks performance

Every Wednesday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm, June through August, you can enjoy a couple hours of free music and dancing, beneath the Colorado sky. Bring a blanket to spread on the courthouse lawn, purchase a microbrew or margarita in the beer garden, and put on your dancing shoes. If you’re not in the mood to dance yourself, you can watch local street dancers do their thing.

Walk or bike the Boulder Creek path

This sweet 5.5-mile paved path is peacefully shared by walkers, bikers, joggers, and skaters. As its name implies, it runs parallel to the Boulder Creek. You can get onto it right downtown (e.g. near the Dushanbe Teahouse) and then travel west toward the mountains (and a bit beyond the Boulder city limit), or to the eastern parts of town. Both directions are beautiful. Additionally, you can raft the river itself—a great option, in particular, for super-hot days.

Enjoy Boulder Open-Space hiking

Much of the western edge of Boulder, Colorado is designated “Open-Space” that are intentionally kept free from commercial development. There are many great hiking trails around these designated areas, just a stone’s throw from central Boulder. Some of the best ones are:

  1. The trails emanating from centrally-located Chautauqua Park (onto Green Mountain or the Flatirons)
  2.  The more northern Mount Sanitas
  3.  The magical Shanahan Ridge trailhead—at the far southern end of the city—which links up with the spectacular Fern Gulch trail, which will take you to the summit of Bear Peak.

Visit the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

This might be the most beautiful teahouse you’ll ever see and it has a fun and inspiring history as well. It came in the mail, piece by piece, as a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe (the capital and largest city of Tajikistan). The hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels were all lovingly crafted by Tajikistan artisans. There’s a fountain in the middle of the teahouse, tables inside and out (with the Boulder Creek running nearby), and a bar counter from which you can order a cup of award-winning homemade chai. Whether you come just for tea, or to share a lunch or dinner with friends, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a place you cannot miss!

Boulder Restaurants & Colorado Cuisine

Sherpa’s Restaurant

With authentic Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine, Great momos (Tibetan stuffed dumplings) among other things, and delightful decor, Sherpa’s Restaurant is a must see. It is located just west and a block south of the Pearl Street Mall.

Sushi Zanmai

Visitors can find excellent Japanese food at Sushi Zanmai, with great happy hour prices for lunch (11:30 am – 2:00 pm) and dinner (5:00 pm – 6:30 pm). Right downtown, a block north of the Pearl Street Mall.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

This is the place in Boulder for awesome, elegant vegan and vegetarian fare, just a half-mile or so east of the Pearl Street Mall.

Boulder Farmer’s Market

For a sampling of authentic Colorado cuisine, check out the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon. It sits in front of the Dushanbe Teahouse and some of the native favorites that you’ll find there include:

  • Palisade peaches, and a variety of melons– The climate is perfect for producing luscious peaches and melons—not to be missed!
  • Trout or striped bass–caught fresh from one of Colorado’s many rivers
  • Roasted green chilis, and various hot sauces–The scent of roasting chilies is something you’ll encounter frequently in summertime Boulder. Elk, venison, bison or wild boar, in the form of steaks, sausage, or burgers. Wild game roam freely in the mountains and plains, and their meat is a Colorado delicacy.
  • Rack of lamb–Colorado is one of the nation’s leading producers of lamb, and it is known to be especially delicious.
  • High-end granola–Boulder is a mecca for endurance athletes as well as outdoor enthusiasts (campers, climbers, hikers, etc.). The high demand for high-quality granola means we have a vast variety to choose from. Yum!

Charming Boulder Bookstores

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe is great for poetry-lovers and literature buffs. This sweet bookstore is “on the hill” in the middle of the University of Colorado campus. It is a great place to have a cup of tea or coffee while reading some new or old favorite poems.

Lighthouse Bookstore

A staircase takes you from the busy Pearl Street Mall down into this basement hideaway, that features a great array of metaphysical and spiritual titles, along with an in-house psychic and tarot readings. Classic Boulder.

What To Do On A Rainy Day In Boulder

Take in a show at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory
If there happens to be a special multimedia show–in the observatory’s circular auditorium–you’re in for a real treat.
Enjoy a performance or art show at The Dairy Arts Center
The movie theater, array of galleries, and performance spaces provide inspiring options for art, dance, and theater lovers.
Music compliments of the Chautauqua Concert Series
Get tickets for a concert at the Chautauqua Auditorium or Community House: beautiful venues nestled at the base of the Flatirons.

Awesome Day Trips From Boulder

Brainard Lake Recreation Area
A 30-40 minute drive from Boulder, this recreation area features jaw-dropping gorgeous alpine lakes and high-mountain forested trails. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is open to hikers only during the summer months and is well worth the drive.
Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness
A half an hour drive through the stunningly-beautiful Boulder Canyon will place you in the quirky yet charming Nederland, which can easily be explored on foot. The Carousel of Happiness–with its beautiful hand-carved animals–is definitely worth a ride, or two.
Whether you’re just passing through, or enjoying a more extended visit, Boulder, Colorado in the summertime is sure to delight you!

Posted on

Top 8 Summer Music Festivals in the World

A music festival is a timeless way to see new places, spend time with your favorite people, and hear some great live music. A good festival, of course, is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a chaotic meshing of sounds, socializing, food, unique fashion statements, creative art forms, and merchandise. Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have become a rite of passage for young people and, increasingly, people of all ages. Best of all, there are amazing festivals in all corners of the globe. Let’s look at some of the top summer music festivals in the world.

1. Lollapalooza

Grant Park, Chicago, USA

Right in the heart of downtown, Chicago, Lollapalooza is an amazing festival that’s been running since 1991. It features eight stages and more than 170 bands, covering a wide range of styles. A festival in an urban setting can either be a perk or a drawback, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, you don’t have to drive into the wilderness and set up your campsite. You have all the city amenities within walking distance. Chicago is famous for its great food (especially pizza), bars, museums, and impressive skyline. On the other hand, escaping civilization is one of the features that draws you to festivals, you have plenty of other choices.
In addition to music, Lollapalooza has a mini-festival for kids, an art market, and plenty of merch. You can buy 4-day tickets for the entire festival or single-day tickets. There are also hotel packages. Children under 10 with an adult are admitted free (up to two kids per adult).

2. FYF Fest

Los Angeles, CA, USA

This annual 3-day festival is held at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. FYF Fest has been popular on the West Coast since 2004 and is known for its edgy atmosphere and diverse selection of music, including pop, rock, rap, electronic, hip-hop, and indie. It’s a good festival choice for those with eclectic tastes.

3. Tomorrowland

Boom, Belgium

Tomorrowland is a two-weekend festival that combines electronic music and the arts with a vision for a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable future. This festival began in 2005 and attracts an enthusiastic audience from all over the world. In some ways reminiscent of Burning Man in the U.S., Tomorrowland is full of futuristic visions, art installations, and its own “city,” DreamVille.
There are several options for accommodations, from As with most festivals, there are many tiers for ticket prices, depending on when you buy tickets, what you want to experience, and how long you stay. There are quite a few creative options, at various prices for lodging, including simple tents, tiny home-like structures to luxury “mansions.”

4. Hideout

Zrce Beach, Croatia

Hideout is a good choice if you want to get an early start to celebrating the summer. Set in a remote and pristine location on the Adriatic Sea with a view of mountains, this festival is famous for its boat rides, beach parties, and a wide selection of electronic music. As the name suggests, Hideout is a place where you can escape the everyday rut and experience an idyllic world for a few days.
This is also a great festival for adventurous travelers who enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, boating, and quad biking. Festival goers have a chance to island hop and explore beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.

5. Electric Zoo

 New York City, USA

Electric Zoo is an end-of-summer Labor Day festival held at Randall’s Island Park, a 480-acre urban park on the border of Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Established in 2009, Electric Zoo has been held all over the world. The original location, however, is New York. The 2018 theme is The 6th Boro, which reveals the ambitious attempt to make the festival a permanent part of the New York City (which has five official boroughs or counties) cultural scene.
Their past lineup included DJ Snake, Above & Beyond, Galantis, and Sasha & John Digweed. Check the website for early bird tickets.

6. Wireless Festival

London, UK

If you want to visit London this summer, you may want to schedule your trip to coincide with this festival, held at Finsbury Park. Now in its 13th year, Wireless has become one of the most popular music festivals in the UK. Since Wireless is an urban festival, you have to find your own accommodations. London, however, is an easy city to navigate. If you don’t want to spring for a costly hotel, there are plenty of hostels and reasonable Airbnb options.

7. Arise

 Loveland, Colorado, USA

The Arise Music Festival, approaching its 6th year, is a diverse event held at Sunset Ranch, a 350-acre organic farm in a scenic valley. In addition to music, Arise gives participants the chance to explore a variety of classes, workshops, and art installations. Many attendees are active in political and environmental causes. One of the requirements is that you “leave no trace” –i.e. clean up and leave the grounds as you found them.
Tickets for the 3-day festival include camping. Car camping is another option. There are also camping upgrades available if you want additional amenities.

8. Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux, Switzerland

The Montreux Jazz Festival, founded in 1967, is one of the most glamorous and popular jazz festivals in the world. The program typically includes rock, soul, and blues musicians as well as jazz greats. On the scenic shores of Lake Geneva, the setting is perfect for relaxation and boat rides as well as great music, parties, and socializing.
Montreux has a variety of venues to enjoy music and special events, such as the Auditorium Stravinski, known for its outstanding acoustics and the Montreux Jazz Club, where you can enjoy intimate performances by contemporary artists. Visit the website to find out program details. Past participants have included B.B. King, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and scores of other household names as well as new performers.
You can buy an all-music pass or attend one of the festival’s many free events such as jam sessions, concerts, and film screenings.

Music Festivals Make the Summer More Fun

A music festival can be the highlight of summer vacation. If it’s close to home, it can make for an awesome road trip. The above are some of the most exciting summer festivals in the world. Some festivals don’t announce their lineups until fairly late in the season. However, keep in mind that tickets often sell out fast. So, if you want to attend one of these festivals, it’s best to buy your tickets early!

Posted on

The Winter Events and Festivals Worth a Trip to Miami

Everyone knows Miami has enough gorgeous beaches and places of leisure to make it the perfect escape – especially if you’re looking to trade in wintry landscapes for the Floridian sunshine. But there’s more going on in Miami than sipping Mai Tais and gazing at legendary sunsets. With a flurry of festivals of all sizes and a diverse culture that gives Miami its character, choosing just one event to attend might be the most challenging part of planning a Miami getaway. Consider these winter festivals and events in Miami that act as the perfect complement to days spent soaking up the sun in South Beach.

 Art and Culture Festivals

Art Deco Weekend

The art scene in Miami really gets kicked up a notch after the new year, with a variety of energetic festivals taking center stage. At the renowned Art Deco Weekend in mid-January every year, locals and visitors experience a host of live events and shows spanning the posh Ocean Drive shopping district – all with the backdrop of the color-infused, vintage Miami architecture. Jazz demos, retro fashion shows, swanky soirees, classic car shows, and much more fill in the schedule of one of Miami’s longest-running festivals, as this one has been steadily building since it got started back in the mid-1970s.
Patrons are also only steps from some of Florida’s most famous beaches, making it easy to slip in a beach picnic or an ocean dip before heading to the next event. Both an educational outreach program and an event aimed at preserving the famous Art Deco architecture of the area, the Art Deco Weekend is one of the few winter festivals that can truly claim to have something for everyone.

Beaux Arts Festival

Not to be outdone, the Beaux Arts Festival on the University of Miami campus has also emerged as one of the must-see winter events in Miami for art lovers, drawing in artists from all over the world to participate. Designed in the 1950s to introduce young artists to the public, this festival has grown into a widespread celebration of inspiration and artistry. It is complete with a prestigious student showcase that is one of the leading competitions of its kind.
Guests peruse long lines of tents featuring local and international artists and participate in art workshops that are ideal for both families and couples alike. One of the centerpieces of the event, the Beaux Arts Ball, is a radiant costume party that keeps it fun with themes ranging from James Bond to Noah’s Ark.

South Miami Rotary Arts Festival

Also showcasing many of the best local artists in Miami, the South Miami Rotary Arts Festival in late-February is another great option for art aficionados of all experience levels. Held for more than 30 years, this festival takes over the area of South Miami on Sunset Drive (downtown Miami), proudly showing off a spread of artwork, live music, beer gardens, and more in front of the area’s many historic buildings and fine restaurants.

World-class Food Fests and Growing Beer Demos

Imagine tasting the creations of some of the world’s best chefs with your bare feet in the sands of Miami Beach. Held every February, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival brings in acclaimed chefs from all over the world to showcase a spectacular variety of cuisine. Sponsored by The Food Network, the renowned festival is not only a place to taste some of the most delicious flavors your tongue will ever meet, but it’s also a great place to learn the culinary arts no matter your cooking skill (or lack thereof).
Seminars, special dinners, and a variety of live events are spread out throughout five days, catering to both romantic couples and families. With its stunning backdrop overlooking the ocean, high likelihood of celebrity sightings, and new events that are always popping up on the schedule, the festival is easily one of the highlights every winter in Miami.
Another winter favorite, the Miami Beer Festival takes over Marlins Park one night every January, showing off a whirlwind of nectars from breweries around South Florida and beyond. Focusing on craft beers, this festival comes with live music and a line of the best food trucks in Miami, creating an unbelievable atmosphere right on the home field of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. For a youthful, energetic experience that shows off some of the best tastes of Miami, the up-and-coming Miami Beer Festival is always a good option.
Also, consider:
Near the beginning of March, the Miami Whiskey Mash celebrates the art of whiskey with flavors from all over the world, from Scotland and Ireland to the very best Japanese and American styles. A mellow infusion of jazz is the music of choice in a low-key event that has taken off in only a handful of years since its inception. Meanwhile, the International Chocolate Festival is a celebration of the cacao plant guaranteed to enliven your test buds. Held at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the chocolate fest features a series of lively demos from experts to go with some of the most mouth-watering chocolates you’ll ever find.

Boating and Heritage festivals

As one of the very best cities for boating in the U.S., Miami is a wonderland for boating enthusiasts and the natural home for an enormous boat festival that takes over the waters in mid-February. Held at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin, the Miami International Boat Show is where you can find any power boat imaginable, from slick and fast to the perfect vessels for a plodding pleasure cruise along the Biscayne Bay. Complete with delectable foods from local vendors and instructional seminars, the boat show is where you can check out some of the best boats in the world, learn a thing or two about the ins and outs of boating, or simply sip cocktails at the water’s edge overlooking the bay.
Another key event held at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin along with nearby Miamarina, the Strictly Sail Miami Boat Show is dedicated to celebrating the art of sailing. Also held in February, the show boasts top-of-the-line catamarans and a wide range of cutting-edge sailing gear, making it a must for anyone who loves to sail – or simply would love to get into it someday.

Redland Heritage Festival and Craft Fair

While sailing is a tradition that goes back a very long time in Miami, visitors also get a chance to see the roots of the region up close and personal at the Redland Heritage Festival and Craft Fair. A family-friendly event that has all kinds of events for kids of different ages, the festival is the perfect escape from the hustle-bustle of Miami and shows the pristine subtropical landscape of South Florida in vivid detail. Held at the rural Fruit and Spice Park about 20 minutes from downtown Miami, the Redland Heritage Festival has events like Everglades wildlife shows, pony rides, petting zoos, and more to keep you occupied as you wander the sprawling botanical garden. The park itself is also a sight to see on its own, as it has a staggering collection of fruit and spice trees brought over from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Although there are plenty of big events and festivals that take place every winter in Miami, don’t forget to keep an eye out for smaller fests that might give you a terrific close-up of the local culture. Neighborhoods like Little Havana, the Design District, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables are constantly hosting fun local events that remind everyone Miami is more than just an assortment of immaculate beaches. With its outstanding winter weather and a vast collection of annual events and festivals, Miami has more than enough to keep you occupied both day and night whatever your interests happen to be.

Posted on

Don’t Leave South New Jersey Without Doing These 8 Things

When people think of New Jersey, they think of the mountains to the north, the big cities in the middle, and the boardwalks on the shore. But what about southern New Jersey? If you’ve visited the northern or shore areas of the state, you’ll be surprised to find out just how different the southern section is. It’s almost like an entirely different state!
If you’re seeking a little adventure, lots of history, amazing local eateries, and some spooky haunts, then south Jersey is your travel destination. When you do visit the bottom of the garden state, make sure you don’t leave without doing these eight things.

1. Visit Historic Batsto Village

Batsto Village will make history lovers swoon. Founded in 1766, most of the once-prosperous glass-making town is still standing. An old grocer, outfitted with antique products (not for sale) sits near the enormous mansion. Tours are given at specified times each day, and while the visit is free there is a small fee for mansion tours.
There is a fully operational smithy, worker’s cabins, and an old sawmill that sits on a large river. Stop for a moment before crossing the old bridge to take in the breathtaking views of the lake, and be sure to visit the preservation museum to learn about the natural flora and fauna of the infamous Pine Barrens.

2. Eat at Ducktown Taverns

Situated on a corner in downtown Atlantic City you’ll see a giant green sign featuring a duck smoking a cigar. Below that sign is one of the best eateries in all of southern New Jersey. Despite being one of the only bars open 24/7 in AC, Ducktown promotes a very family-friendly atmosphere during the daytime. In fact, you’ll see most of the ACPD if you stick around long enough–it’s their favorite place to eat.
The menu is out of this world, and the service is terrific. The wait staff makes you feel right at home. If you’re feeling adventurous make sure you order the XXXMan Burger. It’s topped with cayenne peppers, jalapenos, hot sauce, and Swiss cheese. Or if you’re looking for something a little less intense, the seafood pizza is a local favorite.

3. Shop at Historic Smithville Village

If you want an authentic local experience during your visit, shopping at Historic Smithville is a must. Set up just like a quaint village of yesteryear “The Shoppes” feature dozens of small, locally-owned businesses. Taste some delicious local honey at The Honey Pot. Experience authentic international culture at A Taste of Italy and Out of Ireland.
Besides the shops, there is also an adorable train ride for children, plus a merry-go-round and old-fashioned arcade. You can even take brightly-colored paddle boats out on the river for affordable half-hour stints.

4. Pick Blueberries in Hammonton

Hammonton is the blueberry capital of the world, and the vast fields spreading out in every direction doesn’t have anyone wondering why. There are numerous opportunities to pick your own blueberries. Check out some of the local downtown bakeries for a number of sweet blueberry treats–made with local produce!
You could pack this adventure in with your visit to Batsto. The historic village is a short twenty-minute drive from Hammonton’s downtown.

5. Sunflowers in Petersburg

A short drive from Ocean City (“America’s Greatest Family Resort”) you’ll find one of many teeny-tiny towns that make up Upper Township, New Jersey. If you manage your visit during the summer or early fall, you have to stop and grab some sunflowers.
A farmer off the side of Old Tuckahoe Road in Petersburg grows an enormous field of giant sunflowers each year. For $5 you can take pictures with the field and the old truck sitting beside it. For only fifty cents you can grab yourself one of the most beautiful sunflowers you’ve ever seen.

6. Canoe Down The Tuckahoe River

If you’re already in little-known Upper Township, make it a day trip so you can canoe down the Tuckahoe River. The dark waters make up one of the only ‘black water’ rivers in the United States but don’t let the ominous sound deter you. The views along the 27+ miles are well worth the physical exertion.
Take your canoe under the old train bridge and past tiny floating islands that are only visible when the water is at it’s lowest. Travel through the Tuckahoe Preserve and alongside vast marsh inlets. Just make sure you bring bug spray because the mosquitos, gnats, and biting flies tend to be bad in summer.

7. Visit The First Zoo in NJ

Situated in Bridgeton is the Cohanzick Zoo. It’s the oldest zoo in the state, and it’s entirely free to visit. It isn’t particularly large, but even if the animals don’t make the trip worth it for you, the beautiful layout will. A stunning lake with gorgeous native flora takes center stage along unique decorations.
The animals you can expect to see during your visit include surprisingly friendly peacocks, an emu, tigers, and monkeys. Ducks run freely about the zoo and large pot belly pigs lounge in their pens.

8. Visit The Jersey Devil’s Birth Place

Southern New Jersey is rich in folklore and superstition, among which tales of the Jersey Devil dominate. No visit to southern Jersey would be complete without a visit to the birthplace of this epic legend. You could incorporate this into your trip to Smithville, as the two are less than twenty minutes apart.
The Jersey Devil is said to be the youngest child of the Leeds family. In a moment of desperation, Mother Leeds cried out that she hoped her thirteenth child would be a devil. The legend says that the child was, indeed, born a devil and remains to haunt the Pine Barrens to this day.
The road you’ll want to find is Jimmy Leeds, located in Leeds Point, New Jersey. The road itself is something to see. Maybe it’s the legend or the general reputation of the Pine Barrens (yes, this again) but the winding road is quite eerie.
These eight items will make your visit to southern New Jersey authentic, exciting, and one-of-a-kind. With a little something for everyone, there’s no reason not to go!

Posted on

Local’s Guide To Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia Whitewater Rafting Trips

Mountain peaks rise in the distance, silhouetted against a painted sunrise. The wilderness is broken up only by the highway you travel and an occasional cabin or store. No hustle and bustle. No overcrowded cityscape. No smog. Just a natural peace that reigns supreme over the land in front of you.
No, this isn’t some long-forgotten paradise in a country far, far away. It’s right here in the United States, closer than you think. If this sounds like the perfect start to your vacation, then you’ll feel right at home in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Friendly Locals & A Vast Wilderness

The license plates in West Virginia read “wild, wonderful,” and it’s such an accurate description of the majority of the state. Yes, there are some larger towns (like Charleston), but most of the state is full of barely-inhabited mountains.
The locals are incredibly friendly and eager to chat. Expect to spend half an hour speaking with the owners at every cute store you stop at—and there are plenty of those. West Virginians are incredibly proud of their state, and it is one place where tiny local shops thrive – they frequent these to support their neighbors.
There is a surprising amount of things to do and see for a state mostly overgrown with natural flora and fauna. Among these are thrill-seeking adventures, unique historic sites, a budding art district, and an array of unclassifiable adventures.
If you find yourself in West Virginia, make sure you see or do as many of the following as possible. But also remember to take time to relax! This state is perfect for relaxing, offering a picturesque idea of “the way things used to be.”

New River Gorge Bridge

One of the most photographed places in the entire state, the New River Gorge Bridge holds two distinct titles. It is the longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere and the third highest bridge in the United States.
The bridge was a project undertaken to help make the trek across the New River easier on commuters and travelers alike. It successfully transformed a 40-minute drive down steep mountain roads into a quick, 30-second drive across a beautiful steel bridge.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

This lunatic asylum was constructed during the late 1800s to house 250 people. During the 1950s, however, nearly two-and-a-half thousand people were being kept here. Conditions were unlivable. Tales of abuse, murder, and much more abounded before it closed in 1994.
Locals say the asylum is haunted and it has even been the subject of several ghost hunting television shows. If you want to test the rumors out for yourself, you can schedule a guided ghost tour through the asylum’s website.


Since the state is mountainous, with little flat land to speak of, it naturally boasts a significant number of breathtaking waterfalls. To experience the naturalistic beauty of West Virginia for yourself, hike out into the wilderness a bit and view some of the 200+ falls.
A few of the most popular waterfalls in the state include:
Blackwater Falls – located near Davis, WV in Blackwater Falls State Park
Lower Hill Creek Falls – located near Marlinton in Richwood County
Cathedral Falls – just a mile north of the Gauley Bridge
Sandstone Falls – located on the infamous New River

Covered Bridges

West Virginia is home to an incredible 17 quaint, historic covered bridges. Some of them—like the Philippi Covered Bridge in Barbour County—are important Civil war sites. That one is the site of the first land battle which ever took place during the Civil War. The same person who built that bridge in 1852 also built the Barrackville Covered Bridge in Marion County.
Another one of note is the Indian Creek Covered Bridge. It was built in 1904 by “master masons” who ranged from only 16 to 18 years old!

White Water Rafting on the New River

Seeking some adventure and thrills during your trip? Then you need to go white water rafting on the New River. It spans around 360 miles, with some areas gushing quickly and others meandering slowly. The adventure is also a fairly affordable one, with half-day trips starting at around $70 – lunch included!
Fun fact: The “New” River is actually one of the oldest rivers in America. It is also one of the most-frequented travel destinations in West Virginia.

The Tamarack

This unique destination is an art lover’s paradise. A sprawling building with a distinctly peaked red roof, The Tamarack is an exhibition of the finest pieces West Virginian artists have to offer. Every item available for purchase, food ready to eat, and shop owner are born-and-bred West Virginian.
The grounds themselves are a work of art, featuring sculptures and a meticulously designed landscape. The atmosphere is both inviting and awe-inspiring. You can find homemade wood carvings, soaps, candles, paintings, and anything else you could imagine.

Exhibition Coal Mine

West Virginia notable for its coal mining history, so a trip to the state would not be complete without a visit to the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley. Which also hosts an amazing dirt racing track if you want to spend the day in the town.
For a small fee of $22 ($12.50 for children), visitors can travel to the old underground coal mining tunnels with a former miner who shares what life was really like when working them. There is a museum, gift shop, and coal mining camp. For safety reasons, it only runs during the warmer months for the general public.
Your trip to wild, wonderful West Virginia just wouldn’t be complete without these amazing destinations—each as unique as the state itself. Whether it’s adventure, relaxation, or history that you’re looking for, the state has something to offer everyone. It is no wonder why West Virginians are so proud of their homeland.

Posted on

Asheville, North Carolina Travel Guide

Imagine waking up in a cabin to views of hazy blue mountains stretching before you. Cup of coffee or tea in hand, you stroll out to the porch and settle lazily into one of the rocking chairs and soak in the views. A gentle breeze wafts the scent of freshly-made biscuits towards you, which makes you wonder: Do we have any more of the blueberry preserves that we bought at the Mast General Store? Your day in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains stretches before you filled with potential. Perhaps you’ll hike to see a waterfall–you are, after all, in the Land of Waterfalls. Or maybe your day will include a more rigorous adventure to see Shining Rock or take your turn down Sliding Rock. Whatever you choose, you know you’ll enjoy more farm-to-table Southern food than you thought possible. You sigh contentedly and sip your coffee, knowing that the day’s adventures can wait five more minutes.asheville-mountains-man-dog-worldvia
Welcome to the North Carolina mountains, where settling into vacation mode is easy to do. From high-end shopping and arts in town to outdoorsy day-trips in Pisgah National Forest, a trip to the Asheville and the neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains holds promise for all types of travelers. Read on for our beginner’s guide to Asheville and the surrounding area.


Located two hours from Charlotte, nestled next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville is a beloved haven for foodies and artists alike. The downtown features public art at nearly every turn of the steep and twisty streets. Stroll the self-guided, 1.7 mile Asheville Urban Trail to find the Flat Iron Statue, Cat Walk, and other architectural wonders and sculptures. This map takes you through some of downtown’s best stores, including Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe, an independent bookstore that invites readers to go on a “blind date” with a book. The knowledgeable staff take their favorite latest reads, wrap the cover in brown paper, and provide keywords to help you choose.
Be sure to stop by the Mast General Store to find a locally-made souvenir and ply your pockets with old-timey candy from yesteryear before continuing on the walking tour. If you’re starting to get hungry, no worries: Asheville is home to dozens of award-winning restaurants, including Chai Pani, led by James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani. Try the okra fries for a Southern and Indian fusion take on French fries; the masala chaat is another crowd-pleasing appetizer. Don’t miss out on the chai–it’s perfectly sweetened and creamy–but grab it to go because there is still so much to do!
The tour continues to meander through town–and through Asheville’s history. Established in the late 1700’s, the town eventually became known as a vacation destination, in no small part due to the Biltmore Estate. The French Broad River flows near town, attracting outdoorsmen to fish its waters and swim the currents; the fresh mountain air was sought as a remedy for those suffering from long illnesses, bringing the wealthy who needed to convalesce to the area. The various stages of Asheville’s development can be seen in the architecture found around town, with Art Deco buildings neighboring soaring Neoclassical designs.

“America’s Castle”: The Biltmore Estate

Those who want to see history come to life will enjoy visiting “America’s Castle,” the Biltmore Estate. George Vanderbilt built the estate as a getaway retreat, and he opened it to friends and family in 1895. The ornately-decorated castle includes a library with 10,000 books, a 70-foot-tall ceilinged banquet hall, and original art by Renoir and Sargent. Winter visitors will want to see the property decorated for the holidays; the Biltmore staff stay true to the era’s styles, ushering you into Christmas holidays of years gone by. The grounds and winery are in stunning full-bloom starting in the spring and through the summer. Autumn’s burst of fall colors are stunning. The gardens, designed by the same landscape architect as New York’s Central Park Frederick Law Olmstead, are a delight for gardeners and photographers alike. Lastly, wine lovers will want to visit the winery for a complimentary tasting and enjoyable afternoon at the outdoor wine bar.

Hike in Pisgah National Forest

After town strolls and Biltmore tours, the outdoors beckons. Asheville is a quick drive to Pisgah National Forest, which covers 500,000 acres of land in Western North Carolina. While there are many options for how to spend a day in Pisgah, a perennial favorite is hiking Shining Rock. This ten-mile hike takes travelers along the Art Loeb trail towards a beacon of bright light: Shining Rock. The quartz-encrusted summit stands out amongst the lush green mountains surrounding it. Be sure to bring layers and be prepared to turn back in case of afternoon thunderstorms.

Brevard: The Land of Waterfallsasheville-waterfall-girl-worldvia

Nearby Brevard is an excellent hub for a day trip spent chasing waterfalls. Looking Glass Falls is a perennial favorite due to the many viewing areas and easy access to the base of the falls. Bring a picnic and enjoy the sound of the gushing water and views of the verdant landscapes. To escape the summer heat, consider a fun ride down the natural slip and slide: Sliding Rock. The waterfall cascades 50-60 degree water down a sloping boulder and into a natural pool.

Asheville’s Food Scene

After all the touring, hiking, and waterfall searching, it is time to dive into Asheville’s food scene. If you’re looking for Southern cuisine, try Tupelo Honey Cafe, Early Girl Eatery, or Biscuit Head. Breweries abound, with Highland Mountain Brewing, Wicked Weed, Green Man Brewing, and New Belgium Brewing just a few of the ones in town. Those looking for high-end restaurants might enjoy Curate, a tapas restaurant, or The Admiral for “eclectic, American fare.” Asheville is known for being vegetarian-friendly, and Rosetta’s Kitchen, Laughing Seed Cafe, and Plant prove the reputation true. Wherever you decide to dine, be sure to stop by French Broad Chocolate Lounge afterward for their award-winning truffles and chocolates.
Asheville is a year-round destination, with stunning spring blooms, long summer days, popping autumn colors, and cozy winter nights. Stay downtown at the Grove Park Inn for a classy stay, or consider renting a cabin in nearby Pisgah National Forest. Once you visit, you’ll want to return again and again.