Let me preface this list by letting you know that we are SCENERY people, not CITY people. So if you fall into that category of traveler, this list is for you.
1) The Wilderness of New Mexico.
Driving from Roswell, NM to Four Corners Monument was one of the most desolate and beautiful drives I have ever been on. I could spend a month exploring New Mexico! The natural scenery, mountains, hills, and plants are so different than they are here in the east. It's also the least populated stretch of land I have ever seen. Put the Land of Enchantment on your must-see list.
2) Gold Bluff's Beach
Hands down the absolute coolest place I have ever been. Drive miles through redwood trees and get deposited onto the beach. Camp right on the sand here, and see tons of wildlife too. There aren't that many spots to camp here, and it is primitive (with a pretty nice bathroom-sink and toilets only), which meant we had the beach to ourselves. The drive, the view, and really everything about this place was magic.
3) Petaluma, CA
A detour around traffic took us through Petaluma, CA and it was such a cool town! There was a great vibe there, as well as local art, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Bank (SO COOL!), and some excellent food trucks!
4) Oregon Welcome Center
You kind of expect welcome centers to be functional, but not necessarily beautiful. The Oregon Welcome Center along the coast coming up from California was such a beautiful and lovely place to rest, stretch our legs, collect some driftwood, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the continental US. Make sure you stop here if you're driving through the area!
5) Couer d' Alene, ID
We didn't actually stop here, and as far as I can tell, we didn't even get a photo! The drive through Idaho was unbelievably gorgeous--mountains, rivers, streams, trees, and all sorts of natural beauty surrounded us the entire way through. I would love to explore the whole state! I also can't wait to visit the Young Living Farm in St. Maries, ID which is very close to Couer D' Alene.
What places have you been that completely took you by surprise in a good way? Share them with me! I love a good surprise.
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The Grand Canyon is one of those places that conjures up mixed emotions. You've got the "It's just a hole in the ground" crowd, and then you've got the "WOW" crowd. We fall directly in the "WOW" crowd. It was 114 degrees when we were there, we walked a ton, climbed a bunch of steps and although we were direly thirsty and half of us were cramping up, I wouldn't trade it. Every once in a while, you get the privilege of being in a natural sanctuary, a place where you feel it's only appropriate to be silent, or possibly whisper a praise and you can stand there in awe for even just a moment. In my experience that's becoming increasingly rare, and I'm grateful for a moment just like that.:
Here are my top tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon:
1) Take water with you. Even when you get out of your car. We made a rookie mistake, and left our water in the car! It's the desert y'all. Take some water.
2) Plan to spend some time there. We only stopped at the first vantage point, even though there were many, We could have spent much longer there, but to be honest, we were wiped out from the heat (and our silly mistake mentioned above)
3) Even if you're going with your family, try to steal just a moment by yourself in this place. Take turns with the spouse holding onto the kid most likely to run towards a canyon, and sneak a moment in a place where peace echoes. And try not to feel like the moment was ruined when someone shouts ECHO (echo, echo...) into said canyon. And by someone, I mean your children. ;)
We've been curious about Roswell for a long time. I mean, who isn't? Possible alien crash landing? Area 51? And tell me y'all have watched the show Roswell... If not, add it to the list and binge watch it on Netflix ASAP!
We were super excited to visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico. This is mostly due to the fact that I watched the show Roswell and knew that I should definitely go there! I had to convince at least one of our children that NEW Mexico is in the United States and that people speak English here. The museum was full of information, pictures, and displays of aliens. It was a really fun place to visit. It's not a giant museum, all on one level, and we spent about an hour, hour and a half, there exploring and looking through. We did not read everything there, but enjoyed it just the same.
EXPERT TIP: Play the license plate game in the parking lot of the museum! There were people from so many states and different countries there. It was definitely an attraction!
While in Roswell, most of the Alien fun is located on one central street, so make sure to walk up and down and take pictures with all the alien storefronts, and drop in to get a couple souvenirs. There was also a cool gemstone store on the corner where we picked up a lodestone, and a couple other treasures. The kids really enjoyed that store and got to see some bio luminescent rocks there which was really fun.
We allotted about 3-4 hours in Roswell, and I think we stayed around 2.5-3 hours total. All in all, it was great to see in person, and I'm very glad it was on our list of places to stop. It was so fun to be able to celebrate Father's Day with my husband and children in a place that he has wanted to visit since he was a teenager. Would we ever go back? Maybe. While I feel like we got the gist of the town, there is always more to see, and New Mexico is a beautiful state. It's actually on the short list of places to make a second visit to, so it's very possible we could see our way through this quirky city again.
If you are passing through Amarillo make sure you take the time to go to The Cadillac
Ranch. It is the only thing we had time to do in Amarillo as we were passing through, and it was worth the extra hour we spent there. Here's how you do the Cadillac Ranch:
1) Take spray paint with you. You will be defacing property--but don't worry, it's encouraged! Read all about it on Wikipedia-everything I read there was helpful.
2) When you get there, pull off on the side of the road and go through the cattle gate there. Then walk on over to the cadillacs and make your statement and take some photos!
3) Don't be too attached to the mark you leave behind. Someone will paint over it within the hour, most likely.
4) If you have kids, definitely take them with you! Our kids had a blast and they will probably never forget getting to spray paint there. (Side note-you may want to wear old clothes in case spray paint happens to get everywhere. Lesson learned the hard way...)
5) Take lots and lots of pictures! You're going to want to look back and remember this. :)
When I was 6 years old, my parents took my sister and me on a road trip to Mount Rushmore that I have always held dear in my memories. We still laugh about Dad’s shoes getting stolen and his ugly boat shoes he wore for the rest of the trip. Not to mention seeing Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse (in it's beginning stages at that point!) and the Badlands. My husband and I have never regretted a trip we have taken so far, because we usually come out of the other side of it with memories to last a lifetime. We want to create some new memories with our own kiddos and knock some major items off the bucket list at the same time.
Soooooo..... We're going on a road trip!!! That's right, We're leaving the Hearth and moving our Caravan across this great country to see things we have never seen before!! We are so unbelievably excited. We have talked about taking a trip like this for years, but it seems that it's all coming together to happen this summer. Here, we're going to keep you in the loop step by step, and give you our best advice, tips, and tricks.
We're in the midst of Phase 1, which is the planning phase, there are several tools we are finding very valuable.
I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed and a little behind! We probably should have started planning months ago... But, hey, you live you learn! Only a couple weeks ago, our plan was to go to Mount Rushmore and back. We've expanded that just a tad... Now our trip is cross country and includes 19 different states, with more than 21 highlighted stops along the way. I think we might be insane to even attempt it, but we're going for it anyway! Kentucky to California, up the coast and back again !!
And one of the best parts is that we want to share our trip with you! We will be blogging all along the way, and sharing videos and photos across our social media channels!
Watch the trip as it unfolds here:
We can't WAIT to share the fun with you! Stick with us here on the blog to see how we're going to get it all accomplished. Check out our tentative schedule of stops. Do you have any suggestions of awesome things to do and see or places to eat? Please share them with us here in the comments! If you know anyone who may be interested in going along for this ride with us (through our blog, Unfortunately, Rosie,our van, will be packed solid,) share this blog post!
About 5 years ago my husband and I started traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee on the weekend of St. Patrick's Day for the St. Paddy's Day on Market Square event. It started on the spur of the moment when we decided we desperately needed to have a weekend away without the kids. We searched for Irish events and this one popped up in our search. Knoxville is around two hours away from our home, so it is a great weekend trip away. Since we started going, we have kept it up as a yearly tradition and we look forward to it every March.
St. John's Cathedral was a beautiful stop on our rainy walk around downtown Knoxville, TN. We weren't about to let a little rain stop us! We only take a trip away from the kids once or twice a year, so we make the most of our kid-free time, even if it means sloshy shoes for a while. The stained glass there is absolutely stunning, as well as the bright painted red door and gorgeous stonework, but the coolest part was the labyrinth. There was an open gate leading into the outdoor courtyard area between the church and what looked like a fellowship hall, and the bricked ground there is laid out in a labyrinth. We followed it to the center, which took us about 10-15 minutes! The winding path looks deceivingly short. I'd love to go for a service there sometime.
The Sunsphere is hard to miss. It has stood in the heart of downtown Knoxville since the World's Fair was held there in 1982. Now it's as iconic to the Knoxville skyline as the space needle is to Seattle and the Empire State Building is to New York City. Except it's in the friendly town of Knoxville, where true southern hospitality still exists, thank goodness. I highly recommend taking a walk around the sunsphere, taking a few goofy selfies with it, and strolling through the rest of World's Fair Park.
After visiting World's Fair Park, The Sunsphere, and St. John's Cathedral, make your way post-haste to the most adorable and awesome center of town ever: Market Square. It's essentially a town square, but way cooler. There are shops, restaurants, and bars all around featuring food and wares that will not disappoint. Stock and Barrel.. I can't think about their duck confit fries without drooling (but more about that in another post) , and Earth to Old City is filled with all sorts of amazing clothing, accessories, toys and housewares, including plenty of gear sporting the "Keep Knoxville Scruffy" motto, which is basically just the way people from Knoxville support their local community. Bliss and Bliss Home have original and gorgeous furnishings for your home and body, so be sure to check them out too. If all this wasn't enough, there are usually street performers offering up their talents to anyone who cares to stop and watch or listen and a stage to host local artists and events. You definitely don't want to miss this destination.
The Bridges. What can I say? Bridges aren't generally a destination, but these bridges are part of the landscape of downtown Knoxville and I couldn't wait to drive over them. They're only a block apart, so drive down Henley Street and back up Gay Street just to say you've done it. We parked and walked around Henley Street Bridge and took some great photos of both bridges. This was actually one of my very favorite things we did in Knoxville. The architecture and the beautiful (finally sunny!) weather made this a great outing.
As we walked all over downtown we saw tons of "street art" or "illegal destruction of property" depending on how you look at it. Personally, I find graffiti fascinating, so we took as many pictures as possible. I saw several of the same names decorating alleyways and there is some serious artistic talent emblazoned in the alleys and on the buildings of this city. And can we just talk about logistics? How do these graffiti artists get to the tops and sides of these building?! Do they take ladders with them? Isn't it hard to stay incognito when carting a ladder through the middle of the town at night? Also, if you are the artist Uh Panda, props.
In addition to all the illegal street art there are beautiful and interesting sculptures throughout the downtown area along with Krutch Park, a piece of property set aside and bequeathed to the City of Knoxville to be used as a quiet retreat. Since the Krutch family had strong ties to the artistic community the city has honored their bequest by using this property to display local sculptures and changes them out periodically so it's always fun to go back and see what has changed.
We usually hit the rowing man on our way back to the hotel after a night of eating and hanging out around downtown. Visiting The Rowing Man is basically the perfect way to end the night in Knoxville. After a drink (or two) at Preservation Pub and Scruffy City Hall, or a glass of wine at beautiful Uncorked, take a stroll back to your hotel, or if you're lucky enough, your beautiful downtown loft, but be sure to go by the rowing man. It's just not as much fun to walk home any other way.
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