What do a bonsai museum, cherry blossoms, and the National Herb Garden have in common? Visitors can find all three and much more at the fabulous U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. A true gem in the city, this 446 acre facility less than 15 minutes from the U.S. Capitol was established by Congress in 1927 as a facility to conduct research for the U.S. Department of Agriculture while also providing public education programs and serving as a public garden. While slightly off the main tourist path, the National Arboretum still draws over half a million visitors per year, and if you visit, you will understand why. It’s an easy drive from downtown DC, and there’s plenty of free parking in several lots found throughout the Arboretum. So here’s my 6 reasons to add a visit to the National Arboretum to your DC bucket list.
Spring is finally settling in around the country, and it’s the perfect time to plan a visit to a national park. Did you know that every year in April, the National Park Service designates a week as National Park Week? This year it runs April 21 through April 29, with a theme of Park Stars, inviting the public spend some time exploring the stories and sites that make the National Park System shine bright. Some of my favorite stars are the parks that preserve the history and cultural heritage of the United States, in a way that also offers an opportunity for family fun through interactive activities. With insight from fellow travel bloggers, read on to find out why these 5 historic east coast national parks are worth a visit. And be sure to mark your calendar for April 21, the next fee free day and also National Junior Ranger Day in the National Park system.
Looking for a weekend city getaway filled with southern charm, good food and plenty of outdoor activities? Then consider heading to Columbia, South Carolina, the state capital and home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. It’s the perfect mix of college town and vibrant city along with innovative restaurants serving up southern style favorites and classic restaurant fare. We recently spent the weekend in Columbia, and packed in tons of walking, eating and exploring around town. So if you are wondering how to spend a weekend in downtown Columbia, consider these 7 things to do.
Did you know that the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is often ranked as one of the top 20 museums in the world? In addition to this fabulous museum, the art scene in DC constantly amazes me, with world class art and cutting edge exhibits found on the National Mall and beyond. As part of of my resolution to “explore local” in 2018, I’m looking forward to spending more time visiting these national treasures. With free admission, it’s easy to pop in and out every few months and enjoy the latest exhibits, not to mention the unique shopping opportunities found in the museum gift shops. So come along as we take a walk through some of the free art museums that call DC home.
What do oysters, doughnuts, apple pies and grilled cheese have in common? They are just some of the delicious local flavors elevated to new heights in historic downtown Leesburg, Virginia. Located just over 40 miles west of Washington, DC, Leesburg is filled with a vibrant local restaurant scene, history, and unique shopping opportunities. From early morning to late night, there’s no shortage of delicious food and drinks in this small town that packs in big flavor! So come for a few hours or spend the day, but one thing’s for sure, you won’t leave hungry!
Are you ready to plan a road trip but don’t know where to begin? Taking a road trip vacation is something that most people will do at least once in their lifetime, but in today’s world, seems a bit more complicated. It wasn’t that long ago that you could just pile the kids into a car, pack some food, grab a few maps and go. While we all have visions of well-behaved kids singing family friendly songs in the back of the car while Mom & Dad cheerfully drive for hours, there are always the moments when you take the wrong turn, get stuck in a storm, or just want to jump out of the car for 5 minutes of alone time! A few years have passed since I first wrote 5 Tips for Planning Your Next Road Trip Adventure, and technology has certainly impacted the way we travel. So here’s 7 more tips that I hope you find helpful for your next road trip.
Travelers to Hawaii always face a tough question - which island should I visit? For us, it was a tough choice to decide how we wanted to spend our first family vacation in paradise. While we ended up with Maui being our primary destination, I knew we couldn’t travel all the way to Hawaii without spending a few days on iconic Oahu. Island hopping is relatively cheap and easy, but with five of us, a one way trip to Oahu on the last 3 days of our vacation seemed like the best option. We knew that Waikiki would be a bit crowded in early July, so we decided to stay in a vacation rental in laid back Kailua. The location, just 3 miles from a beautiful beach, gave us easy access to all the popular sites, and we found the highways to be pretty straightforward. It was an action packed few days, ending with fireworks on the beach in Kailua on the 4th of July. Check out some of our favorite spots that we enjoyed during our visit, and get inspired for your next trip to Hawaii!
The weather is turning colder and holiday music is in the air. If you are looking for festive fun, Washington, DC has so much to offer. With temperatures generally in the 40’s and 50’s and mostly sunny days, I think it’s perfect weather for some of the unique outdoor activities that happen during the month of December, like the Downtown Holiday Market. For those that prefer to be warm and cozy, there are also plenty of indoor options for holiday fun. I've offered a bit of both with these 6 ways to experience DC during the holidays.
Picture a series of pristine alpine lakes nestled between mountain peaks and jagged ridges. There’s a small slice of wilderness in the central Cascades of Washington known as the Enchantments, and hiking-in is the only way to access this area of astounding natural beauty. My husband Rick recently spent 6-days backpacking through the area with 3 other hiking buddies on an adventure that began and ended at the Snow Lake trailhead near Leavenworth. Although I’m not a backpacker, I’m really excited to share some of his pictures and stories from this special place.
Hawaii has always been on my travel bucket list. But with a family of five and the long distance from the DC area, there were many reasons to put off the trip. Several months ago, I realized that time for our family vacations together was dwindling, so my husband and I made the decision that this was going to be the summer of Hawaii! As I began searching for accommodations in late March, I quickly realized how popular Maui is during the summer, particularly near the 4th of July. To make it more difficult, many of the more affordable, larger accommodations were already booked. So I was excited when I came across Kihei Sands Condominiums, and now that we have returned from our trip, I have to say that it made for the perfect first vacation to Maui.