Summer’s not over yet!

School doesn’t start for another couple of weeks, so grab the family for a quick weekend getaway! New England is perfect for endless adventures and outdoor activities!

Maine, with miles of jagged coastline, offers popular destinations such as Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Portland, Camden, and Belfast.

Vermont, which is primarily forested, is best known for the Green Mountains and its 100 covered bridges.

New Hampshire’s main attractions include Mt. Washington, the White Mountains, and the quaint town of Portsmouth.

Massachusetts, steeped in history, attracts visitors to Boston, Cape Cod, Cape Ann, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Rhode Island is known for Newport and its remarkable mansions; Providence, and miles of sandy beaches.

Connecticut’s famed Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium are two of the state’s most popular destinations attracting curious visitors of all ages.

Be sure to stop into the local bookstore where you are to learn more about your destination!

I love San Francisco!

There are a lot of things to do in San Francisco. When I reflect on my visits to “The City by the Bay,” these are the things that make me smile.

Crossing the icon Golden Gate bridge on foot or bike is a must. Views of Alcatraz and the rolling waters of the Pacific Ocean below makes one feel very small. I also can’t help but reflect on what it took to build this magnificent bridge back in 1933. Once across the bridge, walking along the trail to Hendrik Point affords a lovely view and photo opt of the bridge set against San Francisco’s cityscape.

Next, a visit to Alcatraz is always fun and speaks to the (creepy) imagination! After a 20-minute ferry ride you’ll arrive on the island and can explore it at your own pace with an audio tour headset. This former prison held criminals “Scarface” Capone, “Machine Gun Kelly”, and the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” to name a few. If you decide to visit the island, be sure to buy tickets weeks in advance as they sell out quickly.

Cable Cars! Who doesn’t think of cable cars when they think of San Francisco? Holding on outside can be a thrilling way to see the city. There are three routes to choose from, each offering different city highlights. I found the turntables very interesting to watch as the cars are pushed and spun around manually to reverse their direction. And if you love riding cable cars then you’ll probably be interested in the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street. This museum showcases historic relics, and its deck overlooks huge engines and wheels that pulled the cables.

Got Chocolate!! When I think of San Francisco I am reminded of great big, decadent chocolate sundaes from Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Ghirardelli Square. Since 1849, Ghirardelli has had a presence in San Francisco and that makes the city’s chocolate lovers very happy. Take the Powell/Hyde cable car, which ascends steeply to Nob Hill and has stupendous vies of the Bay and returns conveniently at Ghirardelli Square!

Coit Tower – This tower that resembles a fire hose is perched at the top of Telegraph Hill and offers panoramic views of the city. But the really cool attraction to the tower is the Public Works Art Project’s fresco murals that line the inside of the first-floor rotunda. The murals reflect racial equality and political ideals. Viewing the murals is free but there is a nominal fee to take the elevator to the top of the tower.

                    

If you still have time after you’ve visited my favorite attractions, the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Wells Fargo Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, and Muir Woods are all very much worth consideration. The best time to visit San Francisco is from August to October when the temperatures are the warmest and the crowds are fewer, so get planning!

 

 

 

Discovering Boulder, Colorado

Last week I spent four fun-filled days in Boulder, Colorado. These were the highlights from that trip and the reasons why I grew to love Boulder.

After arriving in Denver and making the short, 35-minute trip to Boulder, I met up with my daughter, her husband, and their dog Moriah where we stopped for lunch at Riff’s on the Pearl Street Mall. While enjoying a deliciously unique lunch on their outdoor patio, I quickly noticed that at age 58, I was one of the older patrons on the mall. Boulder’s residence are noticeably youthful with a median age of 28 years. While this is mostly attributed to the presence of the University of Colorado, the area itself draws younger people to its many outdoor opportunities, fresh air, and mountain scenery. I learned that Boulder consistently ranks high for healthiest cities in the US and its people exercise more regularly than any other state with about 70% of its population owning bikes. I saw plenty of athletic clothing and not one suit!

Located on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, downtown Boulder is just 10 minutes from Chautauqua Park with hiking trails abundant with wildflowers that lead up to Flatirons 1 and 2, which are sedimentary stones tilted up on the foothills. After lunch, this is where we started the first hike of my trip – up to the backside and very tip of Flatiron 1. This strenuous but short hike afforded fantastic views of the city and Flatirons 2 and 3.

        

During my stay we also hiked Green Mountain, a hike also within the Chautauqua Park, and enjoyed views of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains; and nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park, where we watched dozens of brave rock climbers scale the mega-classic rock, The Bastille.

Boulder is known for its cycling and bike friendly paths. Having just finished a 50-mile Tour de Cure ride the previous week and feeling fully capable, we opted to rent bikes from University Bicycles and ride to Jamestown, a 45-mile scenic loop that started off with a rather long and steep hill. With plenty of gradients, the Boulder area is an ideal place for the serious cyclist to train and enjoy its diverse scenery, but I also noticed that the roads have wide shoulders and motorists are extremely courteous, which made cycling very enjoyable for the not as serious cyclist like me.

Boulder also offers an abundant number of excellent restaurants (The Sink and Hana Japanese Bistro in Louisville to name our favorites), museums, outdoor entertainment and music, and at the end of my stay I concluded that Boulder’s laid-back feel, outdoor attitude, scenery, and progressive culture was why I am charmed by this city by the mountains.

If you are considering visiting Boulder, stop by the Boulder Bookstore where they have a large local interest section and friendly staff who are more than happy to help you find your way around the city and its sights.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Kansas City, Missouri

Seven free things to do this summer in Kansas City, Missouri

There are many reasons to fall in love with Kansas City. It’s a town with a rich history, from Lewis & Clark’s exploration of the city’s rolling hills to towering bluffs to bloody Civil War battles. But more than its storied history, Kansas City is known for its beauty, diverse culture, breath-taking architecture, and best of hall its warm hospitable people. So, if you are planning a visit, here are free things to do in the city.

The Scout – Located in Penn Valley Park and overlooking downtown is an oversized bronze statue of a Sioux scout on horseback. Now the city’s mascot, the sculpture won a god Medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition in San Francisco.

Visit more than 200 fanciful fountains – Nicknamed the City of Fountains, be sure to visit the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in Country Club Plaza and the Children’s Fountain in Waterworks Park. The city also has an abundant number of heart felt memorials.

Kauffman Memorial Garden – Located in the heart of downtown, this tranquil garden features more than 7,000 plants, a Secret Garden, and several beautiful fountains.
Kansas City’s Money Museum – Visitors can view President Harry S. Truman’s personal coin collection, lift a 27-pound god bar, or see the area’s largest cash vault.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – The museum has an ever-expanding collection and is home to more than 34,500 pieces of art from ancient to contemporary art.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art – In addition to its permanent collection, the museum presents 8-12 temporary exhibitions a year.

Hallmark Visitors Center – This fascinating museum gives you a glimpse into the history of Hallmark and features a pop art exhibit and Christmas tree collection.

Although not free, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Harry Truman Presidential Library, American Jazz Museum, Legoland, National Airline History Museum, National WWI Museum and Memorial, and the Science Center are all very much worth a visit.

Discover Portsmouth, NH

Discover Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Along New Hampshire’s tiny, 18-mile coastline, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, is a unique seaport city, replete with stunning coastal beauty, authentic New England charm, and well-stepped in American history. A favorite destination for a New England getaway, here are just a few of the many places we suggest you make a point to visit.

Begin your visit with a stop at Discover Portsmouth on Middle Street, Portsmouth’s primary welcome center offering visitors guidance on local sites, attractions, and historical facts about the city, as well as a popular walking tour of the city. We suggest you make reservations as space is limited.

Next stop is Strawbery Banke Museum, an outdoor history museum comprised of 40 historical buildings dating back to the 17th century. Currently 10 are open to the public, and we suggest planning to spend 2-4 hours touring the grounds.

Prescott Park, a ten-acre urban green space, located across from Strawbery Bank, is your convenient next stop. This is the perfect spot to bring a picnic lunch and relax along the Piscataqua River.

Heading back into the center of town, stop by the Portsmouth Brewer for a refreshing beer on top, or if you prefer a sweet treat, Annabell’s on Merchant Street offers dozens of delicious ice cream flavors.

Portsmouth also offers wonderful shopping. If you are looking for a souvenir book we suggest stopping by River Run Bookstore, Tugboat Alley, or Vogel’s Hallmark Shop.

If you have more than just a day to spend in Portsmouth, then the Isles of Shoals is a must. Located 6 miles off the coast between Maine and New Hampshire, the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company offers daily trips to this unique cluster of islands. Visitors are welcome to tour the Star Island grounds and to make a stop at the hotel gift shop.

While these are our top locations to visit during your stay in Portsmouth, be sure to check out the historic homes in the city. They included the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, Governor John Langdon House, Oracle House, Wentworth-Gardner House, John Paul Jones House, and many more. To view a complete listing of the houses, go to: http://www.portsmouthhistorichouses.org/.

Enjoy discovering Portsmouth!

Columbus, Ohio

Looking for something to do during your visit to Columbus, Ohio?

Columbus, one of the fastest growing cities in the US, is a city that has been rejuvenated over recent years and there is plenty to do when visiting.

Tour the grandly restored Ohio Statehouse with its 29-foot-wide stained-glass skylight and many large- scale artworks. Be sure to stop by the Statehouse Museum Shop where you can pick up an Ohio themed gift.

Traveling along the downtown riverfront, the Scioto Mile includes 175 acres of parkland, fountains, and scenic overlooks along the Scioto River and is a number one choice for bicyclists and walkers in the springtime.

ProMusica’s Summer Music Series is a popular summer attraction on the grounds of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Guests bring picnic dinners and relax under the stars. The Conservatory itself spans 13 acres and consists of botanical biomes, lush gardens, and much more.

The Columbus Museum of Art offers a large collection of 19th-and 20th -century American and European art as well as the magnificent Patricia M. Jurgensen Sculpture Garden. Free on Sunday’s, this gem of a museum also offers work by Ohio artists.

And lastly, a visit to Columbus is not complete without a visit to the Topiary Park, the Center of Science and Industry, the Jack Nicklaus Museum, and the German Village neighborhood. The Book Loft, in German Village, has 32 rooms of books and is an ideal stop to gather information for your stay and to pick up a good read.

Enjoy your visit to Columbus!

Portland, Oregon

City of Roses!

Summer is just around the corner and the Portland Rose Festival is Portland’s way to celebrate! Beginning in late May and extending through mid-June, the Portland Rose Festival is a collection of roughly 60 events with the Grand Floral Parade being its cherished highlight.

The best of the best award-winning roses are on display each year at the Spring Rose Show. With more than 4000 blooms emanating their sweet fragrance, entrants are rose growers from the Pacific Northwest. Known as the City of Roses, Portland’s weather is ideal for rose growing.

The colorful Dragon Boat Race is another big attraction with as many as 96 teams from all over the world competing on the Willamette River. Many teams practice year-round in Taiwan-style dragon boats. It’s colorful and loads of fun to watch.

Go to https://www.travelportland.com/ for event details or stop by Powell’s Books or one of Barnes and Nobles two Portland locations for a copy of our book Portland, OR: A Photographic Portrait to help you plan your visit.

Indianapolis

If you’re a museum aficionado and interested in Indianapolis’ history, art, and culture then a visit to its many museums is worth consideration.

The Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District comprises two museums, three parks and 24 acres of monuments, statues, fountains, and sculptures. Included in the five-block district are the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, University Park, USS Indianapolis, American Legion Mall, Indiana War Memorial, Veterans’ Memorial Plaza, and the WWII Memorial. No other city in the US has dedicated as many acres honoring veterans and military conflicts.

Just a few of the other points of interest in Indianapolis include the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, which is filled with an amazing display of modern and historic art; The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Indiana State Museum.

Check out www.visitindy.com for more things to do and places to stay or stop by Twisted Sisters for a copy of our book, Indianapolis: A Photographic Portrait.

There’s a lot to see and do in Charlotte!

From Charlotte’s greenway system to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and Discovery Place Science, there is plenty to see and do in Charlotte. But, if you’re looking to be a bit more active and adventurous, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a wonderful place that offers world class whitewater rafting, mountain biking, zip lines, rope and obstacle courses, rock climbing and more. Open 365 days a year, it is fun for the whole family.

For most, the highlight of the center is its whitewater course, an Olympic training center with an artificial series of loops with controlled rapids of various degrees of challenge. Wild rides are led by highly experienced guides who control the intensity of each ride.

Plan to spend the entire day!

Reasons to Visit Los Angeles in the Spring

Crisp, clear skies and balmy weather attract visitors to Los Angeles in the springtime. It’s an especially enjoyable time to visit as you’ll experience discounts on flights and hotels and shorter lines at its top attractions.

Topping our list of places to visit in Los Angeles in March include the Getty Center, Museum of Natural History, Autry Museum of American West, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and of course Rodeo Drive, Sunset Strip, and a visit to Venice Beach.

Vroman’s Bookstore on Colorado Boulevard, UCLA Bookszone, and Los Angeles Tourism are great resources for helping you plan your trip.