Blog Archives

You’ll Never Want to Leave: Opryland, Tennessee

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to check off a visit to a new state, so heading off to was something I was looking forward to. We packed our bags, grabbed a guidebook, and headed off for a long weekend at Opryland. Opryland once referred to the Opryland USA, a theme park beloved by locals, some of whom claim to this day that it is their all-time favorite. The theme park closed in 1997 and was demolished. Today the phrase Opryland refers to the larger geographical area that includes the Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Opry Mills shopping mall, and the Grand Ole Opry House. Our weekend at Opryland was a feast of music, food, and drink with a little relaxation thrown in. We had such a great time that we never wanted to leave. This is part […]

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18 Off the Beaten Path Places to Find Great Barbecue

As summer approaches, my mind turns to barbecue. For me, the thought of great barbecue brings to mind a plate of beef or pork that’s been slow cooked all day with a dry rub, then mounded on my plate with a spicy tomato-based sauce on the side. A few side dishes round out the meal, maybe corn on the cob, green beans, cole slaw, or a macaroni salad. Add is some iced tea or a cold beer and I’m in barbecue heaven. But the history and evolution of barbecue is far more complicated and includes techniques like smoking, roasting, baking, braising, and grilling beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. Seasonings may be as simple as salt and pepper or a more complicated blend or herbs and spices to make a dry rub. Sauces further define the type of barbecue, with fans […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Universal Orlando Resort

When I think about traveling in March and April, I immediately think of Spring Break and family travel. For many families in traditional school environments, school breaks are the only time the family can get away. While I generally tend to avoid travel during school breaks and the summer, there are occasions when there simply are no other choices. If you’re braving the crowds for your family vacation, we recommend spending time at Universal Orlando Resort. With two theme parks, one water park, CityWalk entertainment district, and on-site hotels that provide numerous park perks, once you check in you’ll never have to leave. And you’ll never want to leave either. This is another edition or our monthly themed feature talking about places we’ve stayed and never wanted to leave. This post, along with all the others in the series, may […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Pantai Inn, La Jolla

For much of the northern hemisphere, January is winter and with it, the cold – often brutally cold – rain, snow, and ice. January is also the time when, no matter where you live, people make plans for the new year. Whether it’s finding enough motivation to stick to resolutions, making a commitment to new habits, or re-setting your business or personal goals, January is a great time to burrow in. That’s what we did at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California, and we didn’t want to leave. This is the first of a year of monthly themed features talking about places we’ve stayed and never wanted to leave. This post, and the ones to follow each month, may contain affiliate links, sponsored travel, or paid product placement. We’ve hand-picked these destinations and products because we like them and we […]

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A Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Universal Orlando Resort

Holiday magic is a real thing. A feeling deep in your soul. A feeling that brightens your smile, lights up your eyes and has you humming along with the Christmas music. At Universal Orlando Resort, there’s a little extra special magic thrown in, thanks to the powers of Harry Potter and his friends along with the imagination of thousands of creative minds. As an ambassador for Universal Orlando Resort (that’s a photo of all of us above in our ugly Christmas sweaters), I was invited to a media preview for their holiday events and, boy, was I impressed. I think you will be as well – and while it’s not too late to make your plans, you’d better get hopping. Holiday festivities run through January 6th, 2018. Here are my five favorite magical holiday experiences at Universal Orlando Resort. Everybody […]

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Weekend Guide: Getaway to Langley, Washington

This weekend guide for your getaway to Langley, Washington, will help you plan your getaway, complete with where to stay, what to eat and drink, and what to do. Located on the south end of Whidbey Island overlooking the Saratoga Passage, Langley’s community of just over 1,000 people entice visitors with small town hospitality. With charming inns and cottages, seven wineries in the area, and a stunning natural environment, Langley is a perfect getaway destination for wine tasting, great food, and outdoor activity. This weekend guide to a getaway to Langley was written with the assistance and sponsorship of Whidbey Camano Tourism (their website is here) and its members. This guide contains affiliate links; clicking through for more information or to make a purchase may result in a small fee coming my way to help support the site. Getting There […]

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Five Fun Facts for Friday: Mall of America, Minnesota

The Mall of America is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017. About one billion people from around the world have visited the largest shopping and retail entertainment center in Bloomington, Minnesota since it opened. MOA features 520 stores featuring leading designer brands and no sales tax on clothing or shoes, the largest U.S. indoor theme park and many other leading family attractions, 50 restaurants, over 400 free annual events, two luxury on-site hotels and much more. MOA features 520 stores featuring leading designer brands and no sales tax on clothing or shoes, the largest U.S. indoor theme park and many other leading family attractions, 50 restaurants, over 400 free annual events, two luxury on-site hotels, miniature golf, indoor zip line, and much, much more. It’s no wonder MOA is a top tourist and vacation destination. With all of the amazing […]

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Splish Splash: A Review of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

Last month I attended the media preview as well as the Grand Opening of Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park – Volcano Bay. I was predisposed to love it, of course, as I’m a fan of most things UOR (that’s probably why they hired me to be part of the inaugural Blog Squad ambassador program). But, I was not expecting to find so many things to love about this third theme park in the UOR brand. This review is a result of my visit to the park on the media day (with only a few hundred people in attendance) as well as the more crowded opening day. TL/DR:  Just go, it’s amazing! For those who want to know more, here are the details. The story of Volcano Bay starts with the culture of the Waturi, a fictional tribe from […]

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5 Fun Facts for Friday: Irvine, California

Irvine, California, is located in the center of Orange County, just 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego. The center of the city is only seven miles from the . While its main activities were once missions, cattle grazing, and agriculture, today it’s the 8th largest city in the U.S. and is one of the nation’s largest planned urban communities. In 2017, Irvine has been named the 10th  “Best City to Live in America.” (Niche) and #3 on the list of  “10 Happiest Cities in the United States” (WalletHub). Yet, many travelers have still not heard of it directly, instead confusing it with neighboring Anaheim or lumping it together under the label of Orange County. John Wayne Airport (SNA) is located less than five minutes from the majority of Irvine’s hotels and is served by both […]

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5 Fun Facts for Friday: Anchorage, Alaska

My high school English teacher used to start class on Friday with 5 words or phrases written on the board.  He’d then regale us with information and history about the words or phrases, varying from tidbits about their etymology to the translation of foreign phrases to quotes and more.  He called it Five Fun Facts for Friday.  If we walked into class and there weren’t 5 words on the board, we’d start asking about that day’s five fun facts. Years later, and I do mean many years, I still remember this teacher and the way he made learning fun.  I’ve also noticed when I come across little tidbits of information that I often think of them in terms of five fun facts, so today I’m going to share some fun facts with you. While I’m not promising that I’ll have […]

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