When you visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, winter blues melt away.
There's magic in the air in Key West.
In the United State's southernmost city, you'll find a tropical paradise at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Inside this tropical greenhouse beautiful little birds, two sassy flamingos, gorgeous jungle plants, and butterflies - hundreds and hundreds of them, representing about 50 to 60 species from around the world - are just waiting to say hello. Once you step inside, I feel confident that you'll agree with my assessment. It's pure magic.
Planning a budget trip to Hawaii? These are our favourite frugal and free things to do in Waikiki for $5 or less.
When Ryan and I took our first international trip together as a married couple, we went to Hawaii. While we had long dreamed of warm weather getaway, we hadn't exactly spent much time planning and saving for the trip. A combination of fortuitous factors meant that we snagged a last minute departure and a great hotel deal at the final hour - but we didn't have a lot of money to splurge on Hawaii's biggest temptations, like submarine rides, helicopter tours, and famous luaus. Instead, we put together a list of extremely frugal and free things to do in Waikiki, our main base. The result was an incredible week in a tropical paradise and a very affordable one as well.
My goal for this list was to limit costs at $5.00 per person or less and to concentrate primarily on the Honolulu neighbourhood of Waikiki but you will find great value at many price points across the state. Whether budget travel is a necessity for you or simply a preference, I think you'll love this affordable take on Hawaiian travel.
The best things to do in Kittery, Maine, for foodies, history lovers, shoppers, and more.
Coastal Maine has long been a favourite spring time destination for my family. I love shaking off the last days of winter and road tripping to the shore to soak in the gorgeous gardens (seriously, does everyone here have a green thumb?) and listen to the waves, and maybe search for a bit of beach glass. While there are no shortages of sweet spots to base ourselves, we've grown partial to one area in particular. There are so many things to do in Kittery Maine that we always find ourselves happily occupied for a long weekend and we usually start planning our next trip on the drive home!
On our most recent trip to Kittery, Ryan and I brought along our dog Oliver. Oliver is one discerning traveller and he loved every spot on our list! I bet you will too.
If you're in southern Montana, you'll want to check out Tippet Rise. Music, art, and outdoor adventure await at this incredible working ranch.
What do you call a piece of art that doubles as an impromptu concert venue and a scratching post for itchy cattle? Well, the artists call it The Domo and it’s one of 12 enormous sculptures on 12,000 acres of ranch land at Montana’s Tippet Rise Art Center.
Tippet Rise, not far from Billings, Montana, is a working ranch, an open-air sculpture park, a fantastic spot for hiking and biking and - most notably - a world-class classical music venue. The music barn (yes, barn!) has acoustics designed to mimic Mozart’s favourite concert halls and it may just be the finest intimate classical music venue in the world. Artistic ambitions extend to the spectacular sculptures, including The Domo, which welcomes human, animal, and musical interaction. And if that wasn’t enough, Tippet Rise is now one of Montana’s greenest destinations.
I was fortunate to visit in 2019. It was a rainy, windy day but the dramatic weather conditions only made my visit all the more atmospheric (if you'll pardon the pun...) I was also treated to a short performance in the Olivier Music Barn and enjoyed its wonderful warm acoustics first hand. You don't often see destinations that combine rugged outdoor fun, exquisite classical music, and commanding modern art in one package but after my visit, I can't imagine it any other way.
In 2022, four new sculptures will be calling Tippet Rise home and in-person music will be back after nearly three years. There's never been a more exciting time to visit! Here are the different ways you can explore this memorable destination.
Ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs are more accessible than you might think at the Big Island's Volcanoes National Park. This is what it was like hiking to see the Pu'u Loa site.
You may have come to Volcanoes National Park to satisfy the child within, to hunt down fiery lava and stalk ancient eruptions. But it’s your inner artist who will be squealing with glee if you’re fortunate enough to explore the legendary ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs at the Pu’u Loa site.
Roughly translated as “the hill of long life”, the archaeological site of Pu’u Loa contains over 23,000 petroglyph images, carved into lava bedrock and dating back centuries. With a keen eye, you’ll see a feathery cape, the billowing sail of a canoe, and the squiggly flash of a lizard. But even if your imagination is a bit rusty, you’ll have no problem deciphering many human forms. And there’s no way you can miss the thousands of ‘dimples’, little cups carved into the rock, which served as repositories for umbilical cords. With the promise of blessings and a long life for a new baby, it’s easy to see why ancient Hawaii families considered the Pu’u Loa such a precious spot.
My list of the best things to do in Ogunquit, Maine, includes lots of cozy, affordable microadventures - plus plenty of foodie fun.
There’s nothing like the sound of the waves, the smell of salt spray, and proverbial long walks on the beach to make you realize just how much you love oceanside travel. The tiny town of Ogunquit, home to less than 900 people, stands out as one of my favourite seaside escapes in southern Maine. I promise it will check every box on your cozy wish list, but this is no place to simply be idle. There are plenty of things to do in Ogunquit, Maine to fill a long weekend - or maybe even an entire week.
These are some of my absolute favourite places to stay, spots to eats, and things to do in the Ogunquit area.
In New York State, a tiny boat museum holds a century's worth of travel memories. This is the Lawson Center Boat Museum.
In a workaday village in western New York state, a tiny boat museum holds a century's worth of summer memories - memories that changed the face of travel for Canadians and Americans alike.
100 plus years ago, motorboats on Chautauqua Lake were fancy. VERY fancy. If you wanted to see and be seen along this vacation destination that's about halfway between Cleveland and Toronto, you'd cruise the lake on your very large, very expensive motorboat which, in actuality, was more like a mini-yacht than anything else. These boats were great for invoking a sense of old-school glamour but weren't exactly the most accessible of vehicles. That all changed with the Lawson Boat and Engine Company (a precursor of the better known L.S. Aero Marine organization), the driving force behind family-friendly motorboats that would revolutionize the area.
It doesn't sound like much at first. How much can a destination change simply by making pleasure boats a little bit smaller and a little bit more affordable? There's more to it than meets the eye, as I learned firsthand on my visit to the Lawson Center Boat Museum in Bemus Point, New York, situated in L.S. Aero Marine's former boat chandlery.
In Western Montana's "Gates of the Mountains" wilderness area, a rare rose keeps company with bats, birds, and legends.
At first glance, Kelseya Uniflora doesn’t look like much to get excited about, but botanists know better. These petite, low-lying pink and white blossoms don’t look anything like the classic roses you’d find at a flower shop. They’re quite the opposite, as their limited territory makes them one of the world’s rarest members of the Rosaceae (rose) family.
Finding them in nature is no easy task. The Kelseya Uniflora is fond of the volcanic and limestone cliffs of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Using the fine hairs on the underside of their branches, these tenacious little blooms can gain a foothold in small cracks on high cliffs. These rocks, which are so inhospitable to other plants, are Kelseya Uniflora’s ideal habitat. The tiny hairs gripping the rocks can also draw up moisture from small crevices. Once established, their semi-evergreen foliage forms mats of silvery green leaves that look like moss to novice horticulturists, such as myself. But up close, intricate leaf patterns are visible and the delicate tiny bright pink and white blossoms are lovely – that is, if you can find them.
These made in Montana cocktails showcase exactly why the Montana distillery scene is thriving. Plus: Glacier National Park's best hotels and restaurants where I tried them all!
What does it take to convince me to try the best spirits from the best distilleries in Montana? Admittedly, very little! During my recent trip to Western Montana however, I had a particular motivation behind my quest. I began my trip in the city of Billings, which is famous for its craft beer and walkable beer trail. That's great for Billings, but not so great for me as I'm not particularly keen on beer. But when I found out that Montana was a leading producer of spirits I knew I had found my niche. I'm not sure why it never dawned on me that vodka, gin, rye, and rum would all thrive here. After all, growing grain is one of the things that Montana does best! As I was to discover, they're pretty darn good at processing grain too - and turning it into delicious cocktails.
I soon learned that conducting "research" on the best spirits and cocktails in Western Montana isn't an easy task. There are A LOT of amazing made in Montana distillers, creators, and cocktail shakers! My current list is but a small sampling of the spirits and distilleries Montana has to offer, with my personal thoughts on the tasting rooms, the cocktails I sampled, the restaurants where I ate, and - when those restaurants were in National Park lodges - my notes on some of the best hotels near Glacier National Park.
It's my hope that this rundown of Western Montana's best local flavors will encourage you to visit and have your own "spirited" visit. Like me, I suspect you'll encounter more flavor, fun, and fanciness than you ever imagined.
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