Category Archives: United States

Afternoon Tea in Albuquerque New Mexico at St. James Tearoom

St. James Tea Room afternoon tea in Albuquerque New Mexico

Let’s face it, you’ve probably never thought of having afternoon tea in Albuquerque New Mexico. So you might be surprised that one of my favorite places for afternoon tea, St. James Tearoom, is located in Albuquerque. Albuquerque is home to lots of wonderful things like the breathtaking Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a rich and diverse culture, tasty chiles, a booming craft beer scene, and interesting art, but it isn’t really associated with images of folks partaking in afternoon tea. I have been to St. James Tearoom twice, once back in 2010 and again in 2016, and can say that even after having afternoon tea in locations around the world, this is still one of my favorites. We’ll share a bit about St. James Tearoom, how you can make your own reservation, what you can expect during your tea time, and the details of our own afternoon tea experience in Albuquerque. Basic Read the Rest…

A Guide to Attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta New Mexico hot air balloon festival

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air ballooning event in the world and is said to be the most photographed event on earth! Each October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hundreds of balloonists and thousands of tourists from around the world flock to the Land of Enchantment for a chance to witness nine days of spectacular hot air ballooning events. Events include the mass ascension of hundreds of balloons, a gas balloon race, balloon glows, balloon competitions, and more! This is a dazzling event of colorful beauty and one of my favorite festivals in the world. I have had the pleasure to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta both in 2009 when I was living and working in Albuquerque and then again in 2016, so this post has been significantly updated with information from both visits! Interested in attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta yourself? Read the Rest…

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado: History, Hauntings, & Whiskey

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado

The Stanley Hotel is best known for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s bestselling novel The Shining and the subsequent film starring Jack Nicholson as the slowly driven mad overseer. The Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park Colorado, the gateway to one of the most visited national parks in the United States: Rocky Mountain National Park. Set amidst the beautiful mountain scenery of Colorado, The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 as a grand summer resort that catered to wealthy travelers from the East Coast. The Stanley Hotel has a storied history that begins well before Stephen King stepped foot on the property, and the hotel once hosted guests like Molly Brown, John Philip Sousa, and Theodore Roosevelt. Today the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Visitors to Estes Park flock to the hotel to take Read the Rest…

Louisiana Plantations Guide: 12 River Road Plantations

Nottoway Plantation Louisiana Plantations River Road New Orleans Baton Rouge

We recently visited 12 Louisiana plantations along Louisiana’s River Road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Louisiana’s River Road parallels the east and west banks of the Mississippi River for about 70 miles (about 100 miles of actual road) through the Louisiana parishes of St. Charles, St. John, and St. James. Prior to the American Civil War, this river road was lined with approximately 350 antebellum plantation homes, from relatively simple farm houses to grand Versailles-like mansions. Many early Louisiana plantations grew rice, indigo, or tobacco, but by the mid-nineteenth century the majority were growing sugar cane, which became the most profitable cash crop in the state. Louisiana would become the most wealthy state in the country by the onset of the Civil War, made possible only by the forced hard labor of thousands of slaves who worked at these plantations. Not surprisingly, the Civil War and the end of slavery Read the Rest…

Oak Alley Plantation: Our Overnight Stay at a Louisiana Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation tour overnight New Orleans Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation is one of over a dozen Louisiana plantation homes open to the public that line the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In the mid-nineteenth century, over 300 plantations lined the river in this area, most of the plantations growing sugar cane which became the principal cash crop in this area by the early nineteenth century. Oak Alley Plantation is often considered the Grande Dame of the Great River Road with a lovely Greek Revival style main house and a number of dependencies built between 1837 to 1839. Oak Alley is no longer a working sugar cane plantation, but the original main house and a few other original buildings remain on the property as well as the famous 300-year-old alley of oaks that gives this plantation its name and photogenic fame. It is also famous for being shown in numerous TV shows and films, including Hush Hush Read the Rest…

Guide to Planning a Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 road trip

A Route 66 road trip is a driving adventure along what is probably the most famous road in the world. Historic Route 66 spans over 2,400 miles and crosses 8 states, starting in Chicago, Illinois and terminating at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. Given its “66” designation in 1926, it became a well-traveled highway, bringing together people from all walks of life. John Steinbeck would refer to Route 66 as “the mother road, the road of flight” for those trying to escape the Dust Bowl and ravages of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Later it would support a countless number of vacationing families from the Midwest heading to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. As more Americans took to the highway, a roadside culture would spring up along Route 66—motels, diners, gas stations, tourist attractions—to cater to a population that was increasingly mobile. Today it is that classic road Read the Rest…

Wedding at Sea: Our Cunard Queen Mary 2 Wedding

Cunard Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea cruise

I have been wanting to write a post about our Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea for a few months. In August, Laurence and I got married at sea aboard the Cunard Queen Mary 2 ship as we sailed from New York City to England. We had struggled for a few months to decide on a wedding location given that we have different nationalities, residences, and family and friends spread out across the world. We already wanted to do a transatlantic cruise aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2 as a way to get to the UK and once we booked this, we decided to also hold our wedding here. We were married by the ship’s captain, Captain Kevin Oprey, about halfway between the United States and England while sailing on the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a wonderful experience for us, but a wedding at sea is not for Read the Rest…

Planning a California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

JUCY RV campervan California Pacific Coast Highway 1 road trip

Driving along the California Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is perhaps one of the greatest road trips in the world. Over the past five years, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit many of the towns and city’s along the Golden Coast. But it was not until this past summer that we did the full road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles following Highway 1 coastal route the whole way. We did the road trip in style, driving a bright green-and-purple JUCY campervan! Along this famous route, you’ll drive through big metropolitan cities and tiny coastal towns, gliding by redwood forests, classic California beach towns, lighthouses, major wine regions, marine wildlife, Spanish colonial sights, outdoor adventure opportunities, state parks, and even Hearst Castle. Not to mention the wonderful scenic views that will have you pulling off for impromptu ogling and photo ops all along the Pacific Coast Highway! Read the Rest…

12 Ways to Find Ernest Hemingway in Key West Florida

Dry Tortugas Hemingway in Key West Florida

One of the most notable people to live in Key West was writer and avid traveler Ernest Hemingway, and as a visitor you can still find many traces of Hemingway in Key West. In April 1928, Hemingway and his wife Pauline Pfeiffer would come to Key West to pick up a car and while waiting for the delayed car to be delivered, Hemingway would explore the city and eventually fall in love and make Key West one of his homes. It would be during this time that Hemingway would fall in love with deep sea fishing, write several novels, welcome the birth of his sons Patrick (1928) and Gregory (1931), meet his third wife, and make many life long friends. Of course, it is impossible to recreate the Key West of Hemingway’s time, a much smaller and more isolated city during the Great Depression, but one can trace and recreate a bit of Read the Rest…

Visiting Amish Country Ohio: A Great Family Destination

visit amish country ohio

Amish Country Ohio is located in northeast-central Ohio and contains the largest community of Amish in the world. The Amish community is centered in Holmes County with over 40% of the county’s current population being comprised of Amish people. The area is generally referred to as Amish Country Ohio and is a great place for visitors to learn about the history and local traditions of the Amish and Mennonite peoples, purchase traditional Amish handicrafts, eat a lot of hearty Amish food, and enjoy the great pastoral scenery of this region. Visitors can easily find plenty of things to do to fill up a weekend itinerary, whether it is sampling locally made cheese and chocolates, marveling over the famous local wooden furniture, viewing the amazing Behalt cyclorama, petting giraffes, touring a traditional Amish farmhouse, taking a scenic countryside drive, or enjoying a local comedy theater performance. I was lucky to grow up near Read the Rest…

A Walking Tour with San Francisco Native Tours

Corona Heights view San Francisco Native Tours

San Francisco Native Tours is a new walking tour company in San Francisco that focuses on locally-led walks around this popular city. They strive to be different from many other walking tour companies by only hiring native guides who have grown up in the city, being actively involved in the local community, and keeping the group sizes small and friendly. Now, of course, there are dozens of walking tours companies in San Francisco and visitors have a large range of options. Although the large array of tour company choices can be overwhelming, it is great that there are options available to suit every taste and preference. We’ve taken a number of tours in the city over the years, and we’ll give you all the information you need to learn more about San Francisco Native Tours to find out if they are a good fit for you, and Laurence will provide Read the Rest…

Cambria California: Planning A Visit to This Central Coast Gem

Sunset Moonstone Beach Cambria California

Between Los Angeles and San Francisco lie many of my favorite oceanside spots in California, including the seaside town of Cambria. Cambria actually lies right smack in the middle of California’s two great cities, 240 miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco along the scenic Highway 1. Cambria has a lot to offer visitors, including great shopping, beaches, scenery, outdoor recreational activities, and excellent dining spots. It is also located a very short drive from the popular Hearst Castle and the elephant seal rookery near San Simeon. If you are planning a trip along California’s Central Coast, be sure to consider spending some time in Cambria. It is both a great weekend getaway for those of us living in California and a great stop for visitors wanting to explore the Central Coast. We’ll share our tips for planning your own trip to Cambria as well as our favorite spots in Read the Rest…

The Wilds: An African Safari Experience in Southeast Ohio

The Wilds is one of the largest conservation centers in North America, set on about 10,000 acres of land in Southeast Ohio. It is home to a number of rare and endangered animals from around the world, including cheetah, rhinos, camels, antelope, zebra, and giraffes, as well as a number of local native species. Visitors can not only do regular bus safaris to see the animals, but the Wilds also offers horseback safaris, fishing safaris, ziplining, a butterfly habitat, education programs, summer camps, and overnight lodging. This non-profit open-habitat safari park is a pretty amazing place given that this is reclaimed land which was strip mined for coal from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, which destroyed most of the natural wildlife and resources in this area. If you are in Ohio, this is definitely a place to consider adding to your itinerary. We’ll give you all the information you need Read the Rest…

A Weekend in Redding California: Romance, Local Culture, & Outdoor Adventures

Burney Falls weekend in Redding California Shasta Cascade

We recently spent a lovely three-day weekend in Redding California, which lies within the Shasta Cascade area that covers a large portion of northern California. Redding is an approximate 2.5 hour drive from Sacramento or 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco, a perfect distance for a weekend getaway. Redding and the surrounding area is definitely most known to travelers for its scenic natural wonders and the opportunity to engage in a multitude of outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, sailing, and biking. However we wanted to combine a healthy dose of outdoor activities and natural scenery with some local culture and romance. During the days, we hiked, explored caves and dams, visited museums, and gushed at majestic waterfalls, but in the evenings we dined well, gazed at romantic sunsets, and stayed in a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Keep reading for our tips on how to plan your own weekend in Redding and Read the Rest…

Avital Food Tours: Eating Our Way through North Beach San Francisco

Avital Food Tours North Beach San Francisco tour review

Taking a food tour in San Francisco is really a no brainer as San Francisco is a city full of culinary delights from artisan coffee to fresh caught seafood to old-fashioned ice cream. We didn’t hesitate when Avital Food Tours asked us to review one of their walking food tours. Currently, this small company offers food tours in several iconic San Francisco neighborhoods including the Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, North Beach, and Union Square. What is unique about the company is that not only do they take you to local culinary destinations and allow you to meet restaurant owners and chefs, but they also focus on providing participants with local history and little known local lore about the neighborhood. We’ll share our experience of eating our way through San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood and also provide readers with a chance to win 2 tickets to experience an Avital Food Tour of Read the Rest…