Category Archive: United States

Review: The Doctors House, Fort Casey Inn

When visitors head to , they typically think of Langley (at the south end) or Oak Harbor (the naval air station at the north end), but tucked away in the middle part of the island is Coupeville. Coupeville is the county seat, and with a population under 2,000 is a historic district within the federal Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The reserve includes farmlands, Fort Ebey State Park, Fort Casey State Park, beaches and shorelines, parks, trails, and 91 locations on the National Register of Historic Places. For a place to stay in keeping with the town’s historic significance, the Fort Casey Inn provides a modern take on officer housing from pre-World War I. The row of historic cottages date back to around 1909 when they served as Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters for the neighboring defense installation. They have been modernized to […]

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Tips for Planning Your Universal Orlando Vacation

I thought I was a pro when it came to visiting Universal Orlando. After all, I’d been to Halloween Horror Night last year and had been to Universal Hollywood just a few months ago. But with the ever-evolving attractions, hotels and restaurants, and now a waterpark, it sometimes feels like I’m at a brand new destination every time I go. That means my strategies and tips for visiting Universal Orlando Resort are evolving, too. Here are my tips for maximizing the fun, while minimizing vacation stress, when planning your Universal Orlando vacation. Select Your Dates to Visit Universal Orlando I’m a big fan of shoulder and off-season travel as it often means fewer people and better prices. Mid-September through October is probably my favorite time to visit – the weather is warm but not stifling and the crowds are manageable. If you’re […]

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100 Free (and Almost Free) Things to Do in Washington, DC

With all the attention on Washington D.C. during the presidential election cycle, it’s easy to think that the city is all about bickering between the various branches of government. In one of the United States’ most visited cities, there are plenty of attractions and things to do that are budget friendly – free or almost free – whether you politically lean left of right. This list should provide you enough ideas no matter what time of year you’re visiting. If you’re looking for something family friendly: Marvel at the National Zoo’s conservation efforts firsthand along the Asia Trail. Pay a visit to giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, as well as their offspring, Bao Bao and Bei Bei (the youngest cub). Be sure to take a peek at their tiny neighbors, the red pandas, too. Stare up at the […]

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Universal Orlando Resort: I’m So Excited

I am an unapologetic Universal fan, whether it’s Universal Orlando Resorts in Florida (I went there last year for Halloween Horror Nights), or Universal Studios Hollywood (I went there on a getaway last month with a family teenager). So you can imagine my enthusiasm when Universal Orlando Resorts asked me to join their Blog Squad, a year long ambassador program to discover and write about the theme parks (and a water park opening early next year), special events, world-class hotels and entertainment venues, shopping, food, and more. (You can read the announcement here.) This opportunity to discover more about Universal Orlando starts tomorrow! I’m excited to spend five days on site in the company of other bloggers, photographers, and videographers, many of whom I’ve not yet met. My stories of discovery and fun will come weeks and months down the road, […]

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Fall Travel Getaway Guide: Providence, Rhode Island

Fall is a wonderful time to plan a getaway. It’s shoulder, or value season, in many destination, and that usually means fewer people, better availability, and lower prices, while the weather is still reasonably good. Another day exploring Providence. A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on May 4, 2016 at 7:04am PDT It’s easy to think of Providence, Rhode Island, as just part of the massive Boston area, but it deserves consideration in its own right. This capital city is one of the oldest in the United States, and its own special flavors and culture. With a population of under 200,000, it is a big (not huge) city, yet still keeps a small town heart. Here’s my guide to a fall getaway in Providence. While some of these recommendations are good all year round, some are quintessentially fall. […]

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15 Ways to Experience the Real Hawaii

Hawaii. Our 50th state is comprised of 137 islands, although only six of them are typically vacation destinations. We tend to think of Hawaii as a fly-and-flop destination, we fly in, flop on the beach or by the pool, and spent our days relaxing in the sun, often with a drink in hand. After going there a number of times, you may want to venture off the beach and out of the bar. When it’s time for that, my recommendation is to take time to learn more about the story of Hawaii, the stories and histories of multiple cultures over hundreds of years. From the indigenous Hawaiian culture, which was the first to mālama ka ‘āina (“care for the land), to the Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Filipino, Okinawan and Puerto Rican citizens who began arriving in the mid-19th century to work on […]

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Getaway to Universal Studios Hollywood

Heading to Universal Studios Hollywood during summer vacation was a frightening idea. The crowds, the lines, the mass of humanity crowded together pushing and shoving! But summer was the only time I could schedule a getaway to celebrate the 13th birthday for a family member. I set out to find a way to make it work both for the new teenager and for me. Here’s what I did as well as tips and recommendations for your own trip. Note:  This article was written in collaboration with Expedia.com who asked me to share my personal getaway guide to Universal Studios.  Choosing Your Dates Summer is vacation time, so there are a lot more people at Universal, and my top recommendation for timing is to go off-season, during the week while kids are in school, and to avoid weekends and holiday seasons. That […]

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Weekend Getaway: Gig Harbor, Washington

The Pacific Northwest town of Gig Harbor, Washington, is located across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma and is about a 45-minute drive from Sea-Tac Airport. The town has taken its rich history of commercial fishing and boat building and turned its downtown area into a historic waterfront community that attracts visitors with its galleries, parks, public and private docks and marinas, shopping, and dining. It is also one of the many small towns that promote itself as the gateway to Olympic Peninsula. It’s easy to think of Gig Harbor as a summer destination, and it is a great one, but don’t overlook the value that can be found in the shoulder or offseason. Fall is a beautiful time in the area, sunny and crisp days, but the rainy season means fewer people and lower prices. Things to Do Enjoy a […]

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Where Else to Go Podcast: Heidi Siefkas Talks About Lihue, Kauai

In this episode, Heidi Siefkas talks about why she loves living on Kauai, and recommends things to do on the Lihue side of the island. Some of those recommendations include: Sunday Brunch at Gaylord’s Kauai Beer Company on Rice Street – Food Truck Night on Thursday Rob’s Good Times Grill on Rice Street Sunshine Market at Lihue Vidinha Stadium on Fridays Sunset at Lihue Lighthouse or Poipu Beach House Kayak to Kipu Kai (only one on the secluded beach seen in The Descendants) or Wailua River (kayak and hike to secret falls) Hike Nualolo Trail in Waimea Canyon + Picnic Sunset at Kalalau Lookout Surf lesson at Black Pot in Hanalei Bay and Barracuda for Tapas Rent bike and do Kapa’a bike path Take a listen. If you like what you hear, you can head over to iTunes and subscribe […]

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Wine, Wineries and Vineyards On California’s Central Coast

California is the nation’s largest wine producer and California’s Central Coast offers some of the best wine and most breathtaking scenery in the state. Many wineries are small, family-owned operations so travelers have the opportunity to meet with the actual winemaker or proprietor to learn about the history and culture of this area. From Ventura up to Monterey, the cities of California’s Central Coast are home to tasting rooms and artisanal wineries while the valleys are home to picturesque vineyards and wine estates. As always with travel on California’s Central Coast, the best way to explore is a California road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Ventura Region Commonly known as the gateway to California’s wine region, Ventura County boasts its own world-class wine experience with numerous boutique wineries crafted from California’s best grapes. The best way to experience these […]

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