When planning my birthday trip this year I was in search of a destination that would make for a short weekend getaway and offer great hiking and lots to see and do. After some research I landed on Gatlinburg, a mountain town in eastern Tennessee. Known as the Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it would also allow us the opportunity to check another national park off our bucket list. While this is a great road trip destination from many major cities, since we were limited on time we decided to fly into Knoxville and make the short hour drive to Gatlinburg.
It's pretty easy to see how Sedona earned its name as red rock country. Even just driving around the area you'll be blown away by the stunning red rock formations and spectacular landscape views. However, the best way to experience all Sedona has to offer is by hitting the trails. We recently visited for three days in January and were able to complete four different hikes - each one more jaw dropping than the next. Keep reading to discover my picks for can't miss hikes:
The mountains are calling and I must go! There is just something so refreshing about that cool mountain area. Asheville, North Carolina has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time and my husband and I finally had a chance to visit this fall. One of the main reasons I wanted to go was to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. This massive road weaves 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina with countless hikes, overlooks and amazing views the whole way. The parkway is also unique in that big trucks aren't allowed to drive it and the speed limit is 45 mph which allows you to really slow down and take in all the beauty around you.
I had honesty never heard of Hocking Hills State Park until a few months before we booked our trip. But a few Google searches later and I knew we had to check this Midwest gem off our travel bucket list. Located only 5 1/2 hours from Southwest Michigan, it made for the perfect anniversary road trip destination. It's also only about 50 minutes outside of Columbus so we decided to spend two days there before driving the rest of the way to Hocking Hills. Check out my foodie guide to Columbus, Ohio here - yum!
Hocking Hills has 7 different hiking areas - all of which are relatively short and moderate making it easy to visit multiple stops in one day. We stayed for two nights and it seemed like the perfect amount of time to explore it all. Keep reading for all the details you'll need to know to plan your own trip and a breakdown of how we spent each of our days.
Located only 30 minutes outside of Traverse City, Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses a 35 mile stretch along the Lake Michigan coast line. It is truly a can't-miss natural wonder when visiting Northern Michigan offering a range of landscapes including forests, beaches, and of course the star of the show - towering sand dune formations. While there are a few accommodations in the surrounding areas, area can easily be explored on a long day trip. You'll find a variety of hiking options here for all ages and fitness levels - each rewarding you with breathtaking views. I'm sharing 5 of my top Sleeping Bear Dune hikes below:
The days are shorter, the air is cooler, and that can only mean one thing…fall has arrived! Nature has begun its yearly transformation and will soon be ablaze in bright shades of red, orange and yellow. Fall colors in Southwest Michigan typically start to make an appearance in mid-October and peak around the end of the month. The best way to get up close and personal with nature’s beauty is by hiking one of the area’s many trails - each with their own unique landscape. Discover 6 of my favorite local trails - many of which are dog friendly!
Disclaimer: This post was originally published on Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of my favorite parts of living in Southwest Michigan is getting to experience all four seasons and the changes that come along with each. While summers along the lakeshore are hard to beat, there is really something so special about harvest time in the fall. As the air begins to get cooler, the days grow shorter and the leaves change to a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and oranges, it's time to plan your fall weekend getaway to Michigan's Great Southwest. Sip on a glass of cider and pick apples at a local orchard, hit the Makers trail as the smell of grapes begins to waft through the air, or hike over towering sand dunes surrounded by colorful trees on either side. Discover my favorite fall activities and start creating your own bucket list!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Southwest Michigan Tourist Council. The itinerary was created by me based on personal research and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Since becoming puppy parents to our mini golden doodle, Wrigley, our lives have been changed forever. He has been the sweetest addition to our family and brought us so much joy. As soon as we brought him home, I quickly realized that a lot of our plans were now based on whether our furry friend could come with us. We love to take him hiking, to breweries, to the beach and everywhere in between! But I have to admit, it's not always easy to find out which facilities allow dogs and it can involve a lot of research or calling around - especially if you're trying to travel somewhere you've never been before. So when I had the opportunity to team up with Traverse City Tourism and showcase all the pet-friendly attractions the city by the bay has to offer (trust me, there's a lot) I couldn't wait to start planning our itinerary. Find out more about how Wrigley and I spent three days in the Cherry Capital including our favorite wineries, restaurants, shopping and attractions.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Traverse City Tourism. The itinerary was created by me based on personal research and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Located only an hour and a half from downtown Denver, we knew we had to make a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park on our recent weekend getaway to the Mile High City. As much as I travel, I had never been to a National Park before and was excited to check this one off my list. And boy have I been missing out all these years! Rocky Mountain National Park was absolutely breathtaking - I've never seen anything like it before. We only had an afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the park so we tried to pack in as much adventure as possible in a short amount of time. After a delicious breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company, we hit the road for Estes Park and arrived around 10:30 a.m.
Roads in the park are busiest from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the summer months which boasted over 4.6 million visitors in 2018. Plan to arrive early or late to avoid crowds. Parking can also be hard to come by in certain areas of the park, with popular trailheads filling up as early as 6:30 a.m. We opted to park at the Estes Visitor Center (which has a garage and many free all day spots) and hop on the free shuttle bus. Although the bus is free, you'll still need to purchase a one day park pass ($25) in order to board the bus. Once you've got your confirmation email, be sure to screenshot it as service/wifi is limited when you get in the park. We took the Hiker Shuttle at the Visitor's Center up to the Park and Ride lot. There was open parking in this lot so you can try and drive up to this lot as well. From here we boarded a second bus to Bear Lake for our first hike of the day.
If there's one site you shouldn't miss when visiting Kauai, it's Waimea Canyon. Also called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, this monstrous landmark offers gorgeous deep red and bright green views and is a great way to spend the afternoon. Located on the west side of the island, it took us about 45 minutes to get to the start of Highway 550 from Kapa'a where the journey begins.
Be sure to gas up before you start driving as it's only one windy road up to the top without any gas stations. We also packed some snacks and ate lunch at the halfway point of our hike. The weather can vary greatly and most guides will tell you to try and get there early as it can get quite cloudy which really hinders the views. We didn't get to the start of the drive until about 9:30 a.m. and had a clear view for the majority of the day. But don't fear, in true Hawaii fashion at one point the whole canyon was covered in fog on the way back from our hike only to clear out in 20 minutes.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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