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Awesome Adventures for a Montana Getaway

Montana

As COVID-19 continues to impact our regular routines, travel has taken a backseat for many avid adventurers around the world. A sure cure for even the most severe wanderlust, a trip to Big Sky Country is meant for epic, yet socially distanced experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Here are the one-of-a-kind Montana adventures you don’t want to miss! 

Ghost Towns

Silver fever late in the 19th century established and later bankrupted several towns in Montana. Nicknamed the Treasure State, silver production in Montana fell second only to Colorado and drew a large population of single male miners. Today, the remains of this era stand as ghost towns for visitors to explore. Castle Town at its peak had a school, a jail, seven brothels, and several merchants and saloons for its 2,000 residents—one of whom was well-known frontierswoman Calamity Jane. Elkhorn ghost town is another abandoned silver mining locale that stands now as Montana’s smallest state park. Be sure to venture off the beaten path and explore these preserved relics from the silver rush.Bannack Montana Ghost Town_090

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Retrace the route that helped define and expand America by journeying along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail where it crosses through Montana. The 4,900-mile trail connects 16 states, from Illinois to Oregon, and several American Indian reservations. In Montana, the High Potential Historic Sites include Gates of the Mountains, Giant Spring, Rainbow Falls, the Great Falls, the Eye of the Needle formation and the Bozeman Pass.Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail - Discovery Hill

Garden of One Thousand Buddha

A Native American Reservation in the middle of Montana may be a surprising site for a Buddhist shrine, but that only adds to this statuary’s marvel. The Garden of One Thousand Buddha was established as an international center for peace in 2000. Spanning 750 feet, the statues are arranged in the formation of a wheel of dharma to represent the Noble Eightfold Path that encompasses the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. This site is a source of pride for the many volunteers who have assisted in its creation, and a serene sanctuary to all its visitors.Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

Glamping

Connect with Montana’s natural beauty and bountiful wildlife amidst a landscape of rustic elegance and impeccable comfort while glamping in Big Sky Country. Several premier Montana resorts, including the resort at Paws Up, offer a number of glamping accommodation styles and dozens of on-site activities and adventures for all energy levels. From hiking and horseback riding to lake excursions and rappelling, experience the state’s most epic adventures all in one place.  

With an unparalleled array of historical treasures and an undeniable spirit for adventure, Montana provides the perfect getaway for any thrill-seeking traveler. Book your stay at a Montana resort today and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!Big Sky Country - Central Wyoming

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr.com’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Montana Ghost Town by Patti McNeal; (2) Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail by BLMIdaho; (3) Garden of One Thousand Buddhas by Lorie Shaull; (4) Big Sky Country by kmanohar

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The Three Best Places To Buy A Vacation Home in Southern California

redondo beach california

Vacation homes have always been an excellent investment, but this year, when people weren’t able to travel the way they’re used to, vacation homes have become even more popular. Return on investment may not come as quickly as it would during normal times, when people plan getaways regularly, but on the plus side, having a vacation home now offers you a cozy hideaway when most of the world is shut for Americans. And now that many people are working remotely, why not relocate to the coast for a while and work from a dream home near the beach? In addition to being a vacation rental, many Americans who are tied to their current home base because of their job or other reasons also plan on using their vacation home to retire in – another reason why investing in a home in a sought-after location is well worth it.

California, and Southern California in particular, is a perfect spot for a vacation home, because it is and will always be popular with travelers from far away who want to soak up that sunny California lifestyle as well as local travelers who just want to enjoy the beach for a few days. For this reason, the vacation home market in Southern California is very competitive, and it is definitely not cheap, but when you do your research and you buy smart, your investment will pay off in the long run.

So what are the best places to buy a vacation home in Southern California?

newport beach california

1 Newport Beach

Newport Beach stands for the quintessential SoCal lifestyle with its beautiful 8-mile coastline, many healthy dining options, marine life galore, and the laid-back way of life Southern California is known for. The combination of surf vibes, luxury shopping, glamorous villas, dive-bars and historic cottages is what makes this small coastal town unique and what makes it attractive to vacationers from the U.S. and beyond.

Newport Beach real estate has always been sought after, because of the city’s excellent geographical features (right on the Pacific Coast Highway and the beach, and the city of Irvine just a short drive away) and its strong economy, which means home prices are quite steep, topping a million dollars more often than not. The city’s got the nickname “Millionaire’s Playground” for a reason! Because of the abundance of luxury homes, Newport Beach attracts many elite investors, which means you can expect high appreciation rates, i.e. a steady increase of the value of the investment property.. Commercial development in Newport Beach is strong, and in addition to wealthy retirees the city attracts young high-earning professionals who usually rent initially, which is why rental units are in demand. Investors can expect a solid return on rental units and vacation homes alike, and thanks to the sunny SoCal climate, many investors end up using the property as their retirement home at some point.newport beach california coffee

2 North County San Diego

North County is the northern part of San Diego County, and the coastal region of this area consists of six cities along the coast: Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, Solana Beach and Vista. North County San Diego is just south of Orange County, and the six quaint coastal cities in particular have become extremely popular over the last few decades, which means home prices have gone up considerably. Home prices in the coastal town average between $800,000 and $1,000,000. But the popularity of this region also means that return on investments for vacation homes is excellent here, and the diversity of he region combined with the laid-back California lifestyle attracts people from near and far. The proximity of San Diego (Downtown San Diego is about 30 minutes by car) and the attractions along the Pacific Coast Highway make North County San Diego a desired destination for property investors from all over the U.S.Road trip along the California coast #california #californiaroadtrip #californiaroadtrip2016 #socal #southerncalifornia #roadtrip #sanpedrocalifornia #californialove #roadtrip

3 Joshua Tree / Twentynine Palms

If you’re not a big fan of the ocean, look at Joshua Tree instead. The National Park, about two hours east of Los Angeles, has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and tourists as well as Angelenos flock to Joshua Tree to get away from the crowds and to enjoy the incredible natural beauty of the Mojave Desert for a few days. The average home price in Joshua Tree is $300,00, which means it is considerably cheaper than a house on the coast. If you are looking to land a real deal, look at Twentynine Palms, just fifteen minutes from Joshua Tree, but houses cost only half as much there. The National Park is only five minutes away, which means this vacation rental will be popular with hikers for sure, and tourism in the area is expected to still grow over the next few years. If your budget isn’t huge, this would be the perfect location to buy a vacation home in Southern California.West Hollywood

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Tips for a Miami Trip with Kids

Miami

Traveling is going to look very different this year for most families, as we’re still navigating during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many people are staying in the U.S. this year, and when they are traveling, they’re taking additional safety precautions such as wearing facial coverings.

Miami is one destination you might be considering, and if so, there are certain things to keep in mind if you are traveling as a family. Here is everything you need to know about navigating Miami with kids: what to do, how to get around, where to eat and where to stay.

Collage of Kobra Murals

Miami with Kids

Getting Around in Miami

If you’re driving to Miami, then you’ll use your car to get around. If not, you might want to rent a car, which makes getting around simpler than getting a taxi with kids. If you’re staying at a resort with a lot of onsite dining and entertainment options, you only need to think about how to get from the airport to the resort, and probably won’t need a rental car, unless you are planning a day trip out of the city.

A taxi from the airport to many areas of the city will cost around $50 each way. If you’re staying in an area like Miami Beach, you will be able to walk to restaurants and other attractions without having to pay for a rental car or an Uber.

There are trolleys that run in Miami, but with kids, this might not be the most reliable option because they tend to run late. It is a fun thing to do with kids though – just plan in some extra time.

There’s also the Metrorail that will take you to Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and South Miami for around $5 round trip.

Miami Trolley

Where to Stay in Miami

The area of Miami that most people think of first is Miami Beach, as well as South Beach. The beaches are beautiful and there are wonderful family-friendly resorts in this area like Loews Miami Beach. With that being said, you should also be aware that this area can get raucous and has a party vibe.

If you want the beach, but you want to be in a quieter area, you might think about heading to Key Biscayne.

A fabulous family-friendly hotel that’s in a more residential area is the Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables. Coral Gables has beautiful old homes, and the hotel itself is stunning architecturally. It also has one of the largest pools in the country.

If you want to splurge, there’s the Fisher Island Hotel & Resort which is located on a private island in Biscayne Bay. The hotel has plenty of amenities include multiple outdoor pools, 18 tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course. The rooms and suites are spacious and work well for families, and you can get a cottage with a kitchenette, which always comes in handy when traveling with kids.

If you want an urban environment, stay in downtown Miami. The Miami Kimpton EPIC is a good option, and most rooms have double beds. There are junior suites with pull-out sofa beds, too.

Loews Miami Beach

Where to Eat in Miami

If you can deal with sugar overload, for a fun restaurant think about the Sugar Factory on Ocean Drive. It’s a massive 3,000 square feet restaurant with a patio overlooking South Beach located inside the Hotel Victor, with an adjacent sweets store, as the name suggests.

The menu is extremely kid-friendly, and the focus is on the crazy drinks and deserts.

The Wharf is a venue on the Miami River and you’ll find different food pop-ups from local chefs. You can have a scenic lunch during the day, and in the evenings there’s often music and even dancing. Children can go to the Wharf until sundown on the weekends.

Joe’s Stone Crab is an icon in Miami since 1913. It’s very family-friendly and the seafood is wonderful and fresh because the owners of the restaurant have their own fisheries.

Miami Beach: Joe's Stone Crab - Florida Stone Crab

What to Do in Miami with kids

You won’t be bored in Miami, that’s certain. There are beaches, of course, but there’s more to the city than that if you’re traveling with kids.

If you rent a car, there are a number of Florida road trips you can take from Miami. A popular day trip is going to the Everglades. If you opt for that, you can take an airboat tour in Everglades National Park.

Other things to do with kids in Miami include:

    • For a cultural experience and delicious food, go to Little Havana. You can get authentic Cuban fare and stop for ice cream with flavors like coconut flan.
    • The Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach is popular for families. You can walk down the pedestrian street, and there’s a farmer’s market on the weekends.
    • The Seaquarium is located on Virginia Key and there is a 300,000-gallon tropical reef, as well as a pirate playground, sea turtles, sea lions, and flamingos.
    • The Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventure leaves from Downtown. You can take a boat ride of a 55-foot catamaran that goes at speeds up to 50 MPH. You might see South Beach, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and Fisher Island, depending on the specific tour you take.
    • Key Biscayne is quiet and beautiful. Crandon Park is a must-do with kids. This two-mile beach has calm water, you can rent a cabana, and there’s a beach playground. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is also on Key Biscayne, and you can climb to the top of the Cape Florida Lighthouse.
    • Coconut Grove features the CocoWalk outdoor shopping center, and there’s Peacock Park.
    • The Venetian Pool is in Coral Gables and it’s the most luxurious public pool you might ever see. It’s also the only pool on the National Register of Historic Places. It features Mediterranean architecture, a water cave, and a waterfall.
    • Also in Coral Gables is Matheson Hammock Park. The beach has no waves because it’s a human-made atoll pool, so it’s a good option even for young children. There’s a snack bar, and a restaurant made in coral at the park. There are also nature trails.

Green Iguana - Iguana iguana, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Coral Gables, Florida

Miami might not be the first place you think of for a vacation with your kids, but it can actually make a great option. There’s natural beauty, culture, energy, and fantastic food.

Photo Credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Kobra Mural by Arthur T. LaBar; (2) Miami Trolley by Phillip Pessar; (3) Loews Miami by Bob B. Brown; (4) Joe’s Stone Crab by Wally Gobetz; (5) Green Iguana in Coral Gables by Judy Gallagher

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Navigating Philly When Visiting

philadelphia brick houses

Philly has a lot to offer for tourists. You can easily spend a few days just visiting all the iconic sights like the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Statue, Independence Hall, Ben Franklin Museum, a trip to the waterfront, the Schuylkill River, to name some of the most famous ones.

Getting around Philly to visit the tourist attractions is fairly easy, and you have a lot of options. The first thing to decide is how to get around. On foot, bike, ride share or public transit. All are good options for visitors, and the place to do all of this is City Center.philadelphia theater

All of the main tourist attractions are in the center, and it has everything you need. Hotels, grocery stores, shopping, shopping, and more shopping, and then eating. The restaurants range from food carts (some of the best options) to fine dining.

One Big Grid

What makes navigating the city center so easy is that it’s just one big grid. Downtown is to the north and the Schuylkill River is on the west and to the east is the Delaware River. Inside that there are six districts: the Parkway Museum District, Rittenhouse District, Convention Center District, Washington Square District, Old City District, Historic Waterfront District.philadelphia belle steam boat

Philadelphia on Foot

An advantage of walking is that you get to experience more of the city. If you ride to each destination, you are missing out on some of the feel and charm the city has to offer.

In fact, Philadelphia has been listed as one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. of cities of more than 1 million people for years. In 2019 they were 4th with a Walk Score of 79. William Penn gets the credit for designing the city this way, and it makes it easy to navigate. Other than some potential hazards due to construction zones and distracted drivers, there’s not much to be worried about – you can comfortably explore Philly on foot.philly game square domino

From the Waterfront on the Delaware River, the streets going north and south are numbered 1st to 26th ending at the Schuylkill River, then there are named streets going east and west completing the almost perfect grid.

It’s a great system if you want to know where you are and to figure out where you want to be. So, get a map or a map app and start walking. Once you get out there, you’ll find colorful “Walk! Philadelphia” signs all around that will help you navigate around the districts, but my guess is, you soon won’t need them, but it’s nice to know they are there.

Philly by Bike

Not only is Philly walkable, it is also very bikeable with its 44+ miles of bike lanes, 300 miles of bike, and shared-use trails with another 350 miles planned. There are around 1300 e-Bikes available around the city with a great deal of those in Center City. Stations are located all around the center making it easy to find an e-Bike, rent the bike and return it.

You can also rent pedal bikes at spots all around the city center or you can bring your own. In any case, getting around the city on a bike is fairly easy. If you do bike, know that cycling on the sidewalks in the city center is not allowed (you didn’t hear it here, but it’s rarely enforced) so you’ll have to use the streets, but most of those have bike lanes making traveling fairly comfortable without too much accident risk.philadelphia street with flag

Philly by Uber and Lyft

There is almost no free parking anywhere in Philly and you most definitely will not want to drive. When your next stop is more than a mile away and your feet are getting tired you’re better off taking an Uber or a Lyft. In most cases, your ride will be with you in under 3 minutes. Take a look around – at lease 25% of the cars on the street in Philly are ride sharing vehicles.

Philly by PHLASH Downtown Loop

One of SEPTA’s bus routes is dedicated to helping those in the city center to get around fairly cheaply. It makes a loop from river to river down the center with plenty of stops. Individual rides are $2 a ride, but if you are going to ride more than twice, then get the day pass for $6 for some savings.philadelphia downtown

Philly by Public Transit

If you want to go outside of the city center, you can use SEPTA public transit. You can access the greater Philly system at various points downtown and use the buses, trolleys, or subways to get around the city.

As of May 2020, the cost of public transit in Philly is $2 a ride. The day pass for $6 is a good deal, but be aware that it is limited to 8 rides. The pass can be used on buses, trolleys, and subways.philadelphia streets

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What it’s like living in New York City during COVID-19

deserted brooklyn bridge

I live under the flight path of JFK Airport, and I am used to hearing the roaring noise of planes descending over Brooklyn as they are making their way to New York’s largest airport – usually every few minutes. Right now, however, I hear barely any planes, and what used to be a familiar sound now startles me every time it occurs. The sound of airplanes over New York City has become rare – which is something that I didn’t think was even possible.empty brooklyn streetEmpty street in Brooklyn

But that’s only one of the many changes that I’m experiencing in New York City right now, one of the many things I am getting used to as I am adjusting to what’s referred to as “the new normal” by the media. When I leave my apartment to go grocery shopping, I don’t double check anymore if I have my wallet and my lip balm – instead, I am checking if I have my face mask and my hand sanitizer. I didn’t even carry hand sanitizer on me on a daily basis until only a month ago. And the only reason I even own a small bottle of hand sanitizer is because a friend of mine happened to find a few bottles in her parents’ pantry (finally, their hoarding of pretty much everything for an “emergency” was paying off.). Because a month ago, it was absolutely impossible to find hand sanitizer anywhere in New York City.living in New York City during COVID-19On 10 March, a friend of mine arrived in New York; she was visiting from Europe. When she boarded her flight in Spain, she didn’t expect to be scrambling to get on a flight back to Europe just ten days later – cutting her 3-week U.S. trip considerably short. But when she arrived, New York City was still “open”. We were able to do some sightseeing, we had dinner at TimeOut Market, we climbed the Vessel, we walked the High Line. On 12 March, I took the subway after work to meet my friend to see a Broadway show when I got a text message that all Broadway theaters were closing until further notice – effective immediately. I was in disbelief. All Broadway theaters closed.. had that ever happened before? I knew what this meant: the city would shut down completely, it wouldn’t stop at the theaters.nyc shuttered galleryAnd within days, everything in New York City changed. In less than a week, the entire city had transformed: TimeOut Market closed two days after we ate there, the High Line closed, all the museums closed. Schools and universities closed. On 15 March it was announced that all restaurants would be closing on 17 March (with the option to stay open for take-out and delivery).living in New York City during COVID-19When I walked through my neighborhood the day after restaurants and bars closed, it already felt considerably emptier. New Yorkers were bracing themselves for a “shelter in place” order, which basically meant a lockdown of NYC. Most of the shops were already closed. Back then, New York City had “only” around 800 Coronavirus cases, and a handful deaths. A week later, New York City had 15,000 Coronavirus cases.

Now, four weeks later, walking through my neighborhood feels strange. New York has been on lockdown since 20 March. All the shops have their roll-down gates down, barely any people are outside. It is eerily quiet. I take a stroll around the neighborhood and see some people outside the few shops that are still open. They all have hand-drawn signs on their doors, stating how many people are allowed inside at a time. Some stores allow four people, others only two. Most people cover their mouths with face masks, while others use bandanas or scarves to cover their mouths and noses. Every once in a while, I see someone without a face mask.brooklyn store sign 2020 COVID-19While walking through this strange new world, I keep hearing sirens. They come and go, but they are recurring. A constant reminder of the fact that I am not walking through the movie set of a post-apocalyptic thriller, but that this is still very much New York City. A city that, sadly, has been hit harder than any other city in the world by COVID-19. Every time an ambulance passes me, I can’t help but think of the person inside the ambulance. A month after the “Shelter in place” order went into effect, New York City has just under 139,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases, and over 10,000 people have died. Over 10,000 people in my city have died from COVID-19  in less than a month – let that sink in for a moment.living in New York City during COVID-19It didn’t take very long for me to be personally affected by this virus: while my friend from Europe was still in town mid-March, someone close to me started feeling very ill. All the symptoms sounded like COVID-19, and she went straight to the doctor. There, they ruled out a number of flu strains, and told her that she probably has Coronavirus, but at the time, they didn’t have any tests to verify their suspicion. They told her to go home to self-quarantine for 14 days, since her symptoms weren’t severe enough for hospitalization.

Since I was still feeling well and was able to leave the house to pick up groceries, I became her personal delivery person, supplying her regularly with fresh produce and the occasional treat, to keep her spirits alive. Seeing her struggle through this disease, which took the typical course of first improving before symptoms worsening a week later, made me even more scared of the virus than I already was. A field hospital had been erected in Central Park to treat overflow Coronavirus patients  that hospitals had run out of room for, and a similar makeshift hospital had been set up inside the Javits Convention Center in Manhatten. My biggest fear was ending up in one of these field hospitals, so other than the occasional grocery haul I stayed away from people as possible, and I became so obsessed with washing my hands that my skin started to suffer.Thank you signsI thought I had seen the worst when I saw a person being taken out of an ambulance outside the local hospital one day, a person that looked to be in such a bad state that at first, I didn’t even know if they were alive. But then I saw the morgue trucks. What I saw first was a flower bouquet on the ground, and a big poster thanking the healthcare workers. I wondered why they’d left the flowers there, on the side of the road, when I noticed the humming coming from a truck right behind the sign. And that’s when it hit me. This was one of these morgue trucks in which they stored the bodies that they didn’t have room for inside the hospital’s morgue. I had a hard time breathing when I realized I was standing in front of a truck filled with corpses.Brooklyn COVID-19These images – the morgue trucks, the sick person on the stretcher, but also my sick friend who I’d see every week through the entrance glass door of her building, and whose face looked ashen, with hollow eyes – are images I cannot erase from my brain, and probably will never forget. The sound of sirens will always remind me of these dark times, and I am not the only one. “I feel their presence in my body as an ever-increasing tightness in my shoulders and neck. It is as though, around the clock, the city itself were wailing for its sick and dying.”, writes Lindsay Zoladz in her New York Times article about the ever-present sirens.living in New York City during COVID-19Going grocery shopping has turned from a routinely task into a wearying and sometimes nerve-wrecking undertaking (depending on how many people decide to shop that day, ie. how many people I come in contact with) that requires preparation and caution. Before I leave my house, I have to make sure that I have some wipes in my bag, my mask, hand sanitizer and gloves. Then I make my way to the grocery store on the bike, no matter if it is raining or hailing – I have only used the subway once since the “shelter at home” order went into effect, and that was when I did my first big quarantine shop. I wasn’t even supposed to be here in New York when the city started shutting down, so my fridge and my pantry were as deserted as the shelves in the supermarkets.NYC Covid-19 targetThat first shop was so big that I wasn’t able to haul it back home on a bike, which is why I took the subway for two stops. But I shouldn’t have been nervous about it: There were barely any people on the train. Every time I went out do my grocery shopping, the restrictions got tighter. First, they limited the amount of people inside the store, which is how I ended up in a line that went all the way down the block one time, thinking to myself in panic, “I am too close to too many people.” The next time I ventured outside for groceries, they had drawn lines on the sidewalk with chalk, marking the required six feet safety distance in between each person. These markers were also added inside the grocery store, so that when you get in line at the checkout, you keep your distance, as well.COVID-19 shopping NYCSince 16 April, masks have been mandatory when entering a grocery store. A day later, on 17 April, the governor announced that “New York on Pause”, which had initially been issued until 30 April, would be extended until 15 May – for now. That means a total of nearly nine weeks of New York City on pause. And to be honest, I don’t think that New York City will ease restrictions in mid-May – at least not to the extent that life in New York City as we know it will be possible.COVID-19 screenLast weekend I ventured into Manhattan for the first time since the lockdown started, and it was a bizarre experience. I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, which was deserted. It was a beautiful spring day, and normally, the bridge would’ve been packed with tourists. Chinatown felt like a ghost town. I only saw two restaurants that were open there, and I saw almost no people out on the street. I cycled up Broadway in SoHo, where you usually find hundreds of shoppers on any given day, but Broadway was empty. I passed only a few people who were taking their dog out for a walk or ran some errands. Some shops were boarded up completely, as if they were expecting looting and riots. This just added to the dystopian feel SoHo had.chinatown april 2020Chinatown feels like a ghost town

I rode my bike past Washington Square Park and Union Square, which, again, would’ve been busy on a sunny spring day. I missed the familiar sounds you usually hear in these places: singing buskers, chatter, laughter, the hip hop music that the dancers usually blast from small portable speakers. The only places that were busy were the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets, where people lined up outside. A few blocks further north, in Madison Square Park, a few people were sitting in the park, and there was a line in front of Eataly, but the little square right across the Flatiron Building was deserted.nyc grocery shop line covid-19The line outside a grocery store

Grand Central Terminal felt like a shadow of its former self. On a regular day, you’d see thousands of people rush through the Grand Concourse, on the way to or from their train. Now, all I could think was how strangely quiet it was. The only people in the station that day were people who wanted to take photos of the abandoned station. Instead of announcing train departures, the announcements that came through the speakers were all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.grand central terminal nyc during COVID-19Grand Central Terminal completely deserted

I walked over to Times Square, and 42nd Street was so empty that I could’ve walked in the middle of the street. Normally, this is one of the most congested streets in Manhattan. Experiencing the city “on mute” was heartbreaking. Not only the hustle and bustle of the city had disappeared, but also that pulsating energy that makes New York feel so unique. There’s usually a vibrancy in the air that makes me walk with a spring in my step, and it made me realize how much of New York’s energy comes from its busy street life. The hot dog vendors, the yelling of people, the traffic noise, even the honking of the cars.Times Square April 2020Silent New York is not the same. You don’t realize how much things like cafes, street kiosks, restaurants, bodegas, and street vendors contribute to the overall atmosphere of a city until they’re gone. Seeing the Broadway theaters shuttered was depressing – theaters, comedy clubs and other performance venues are such a big part of the social life in New York.Times Square without any tourists was something I never thought I’d see. Even when I walked through Times Square at 5.30am in a snowstorm a few years ago, there were more people around than now. I also never thought I’d say this: Times Square without any tourists feels kind of dull.Times Square NYC April 2020I’ll be the first one to admit that I curse the crowds every time I have to pass through Times Square on the way to something, but seeing it so empty changed the entire atmosphere. The ever so bustling area felt like a sleepy square. The only two things that were the same: The glitzy billboards which were still advertising clothes companies and streaming services, and the Naked Cowboy, who was entertaining the few people that were lingering in Times Square.street vendor selling face masksInstead of souvenirs, the street vendors are now selling hand sanitizer and face masks

What’s the most devastating about the city on lockdown is how many people’s livelihoods are affected or even destroyed by this pandemic. My heart breaks for all the owners of the small independent shops, the bodegas, the coffee shops and restaurants that contribute so much to the lively, social atmosphere of New York City. They are now struggling to pay the rent for their shops while they cannot use them, they had to lay off employees, and they may not even be able to reopen their businesses. Every week I read about restaurants that announce will not re-open, about people who were laid off and aren’t able to pay their rent and bills now. Over 40% of layoffs related to COVID-19 happened in the restaurant industry. In a city with a restaurant scene as thriving as New York City, the impact of the lockdown is absolutely devastating. Over half a million restaurant workers are out of work right now in New York State – and this number is still growing.boarded up shop soho nycLife in New York is never easy, even when the economy is doing great, a lot of people work harder than elsewhere to make ends meet. But now, with the city heading into a recession, piling up debt, life in New York will be even challenging, and it’ll take a long time for things to go back to normal. And what does that even mean, normal? Nobody even knows what the “post-COVID-19 normal” will look like. When will the theaters be able to re-open? When can we go to bars and restaurants again and will it be possible the same way it was pre-COVID-19? Will sports bars be ever as packed again for major sports events as they were before this pandemic? When will we be able to enjoy concerts again and watch a baseball game in Yankees Stadium? When will tourists return to New York?park slope shuttered storesAll large parades scheduled for June, including New York Pride, have been canceled. It was announced that public pools wouldn’t open at all in 2020. Beaches may not open this summer either. This summer will not be like any other summer, because most of the things that make New York in the summer so great will not be possible: enjoying beaches, rooftop bars, outdoor concerts and movies, having drinks in a backyard patio of a bar, strolling around flea markets and street fairs.living in New York City during COVID-19 The unemployment rate in NYC was at around 4.3 per cent before COVID-19: in the entire month of February, 137,391 people filed for unemployment in New York City. In the first week of the lockdown, 521,112 claims were filed. That’s more than three times the amount of claims the city usually sees in a month. Unemployment claims have now increased by 2,637%. During the financial crisis in 2008, the entire state of New York lost around 300,000 jobs. New York City alone has already lost more jobs than that. NY ToughThe Mayor of New York City is facing a projected $7.4 billion deficit in the city budget (mostly in lost tax revenue) and the economic impact of COVID-19 can be compared to the Great Depression. This deficit means that many city programs will be canceled, for example summer camp programs and the youth employment program which usually enrolls about 75,000 low-income students. social distancing brooklyn storeEven when this pandemic is over, New York City will struggle to get back to its former glorious self. But instead of with a depressing and gloomy outlook on post-COVID-19 New York City, I want to finish this article with this beautiful video and the optimistic words of New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo:

“And we’re going to get through it because we are New York, and because we’ve dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart. You have to be smart to make it in New York. And we are resourceful, and we are showing how resourceful we are. And because we are united, and when you are united, there is nothing you can’t do. And because we are New York tough. We are tough. You have to be tough. This place makes you tough. But it makes you tough in a good way. We’re going to make it because I love New York, and I love New York because New York loves you.

New York loves all of you. Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight. New York loves everyone. That’s why I love New York. It always has, it always will. And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.”

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Where To Stay In Brooklyn

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Ten years ago, people would still raise an eyebrows when you told them you were staying in Brooklyn on a trip to New York, but oh how things have changed! These days, it is almost cooler to stay in Brooklyn and NOT in Manhattan, and more and more people are seeking a more authentic New York experience that goes beyond the Midtown hotels that visitors usually stay in during their first visit to New York.

The thing with staying in Brooklyn is: this borough is massive! When you take a closer look at the map of Brooklyn, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, because there are so many neighborhoods (over 60!), and so many different places to stay.

While some people opt to stay in Brooklyn for the ‘cool factor’, others want to stay in Brooklyn simply because it’s cheaper than staying in Manhattan. If you are familiar with Manhattan hotel prices, you know what I’m talking about. More and more hotels have been opening in Brooklyn over the past few years, especially around the Brooklyn Bridge / Downtown Brooklyn area, as well as in the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood. The Williamsburg hotels are great if you’re looking for a splurge (check out some of my favorite hotels below) and want to base yourself in the most “happening” part of Brooklyn.

Your budget is definitely something that plays a crucial role when deciding where to stay in BrooklynIf you’re more of a frugal traveler, you’ll be happy to hear that Airbnb’s are still very affordable in Brooklyn – especially if you consider staying in a room instead of a full apartment (if you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, use my referral code to sign up and get up to $40 off your first booking). I am sharing some of the best neighborhoods to rent an Airbnb in Brooklyn below.

Remember that Brooklyn is larger than most of the major cities in the U.S. and Europe – larger than Barcelona, Boston, Dublin or Washington, D.C. Also remember that there are 70+ neighborhoods in Brooklyn, which means that even traveling within Brooklyn can easily take around one hour – and getting to Manhattan and the New York City’s other boroughs can even take longer. It’s important to know the layout of New York City when booking an Airbnb or hotel in Brooklyn to avoid getting frustrated with long commutes.

Where to stay in Brooklyn

The Airbnb map gives you a better idea of the layout of New York City, and also shows you how large Brooklyn is. My recommendation would be to stay as close to Manhattan as possible, especially if you are looking to spend a considerable amount of your time outside of Brooklyn. The further south you go in Brooklyn, the cheaper it gets, but that’s because the commute to Manhattan gets notably longer. You have to decide what’s more important to you: convenience and less time spent on public transportation / in Ubers, or a cheap place to stay.

The closest Brooklyn neighborhoods to Manhattan are:

    • Williamsburg
    • Greenpoint
    • Brooklyn Heights
    • Downtown Brooklyn
    • Dumbo

Dumbo Brooklyn Pebble Beach

These neighborhoods also have the best public transportation access to Manhattan, i.e. a direct subway connection (except Greenpoint).

Note: Neighborhoods south of Prospect Park and east of Prospect Park are quite far from Manhattan. Many Airbnb hosts boast in their description “20 mins from Manhattan” (by subway) but in reality that usually means just across the East River. To give you a few examples:

Bedford-Stuyvesant

This is a neighborhood you’ll definitely come across if you look for an Airbnb in Brooklyn, because Bed-Stuy, as the locals call it, is one of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn with the most Airbnb’s. They’re usually around the Utica Ave subway station (on the A / C lines).

  • Utica Ave to Fulton Street (first stop in Manhattan on the A Express Train): 15 mins
  • Utica Ave to Central Park: 40 mins
  • Utica Ave to Times Square: 35 mins

Bushwick

Bushwick is another neighborhood with lots of Airbnb’s, and while you’re quickly in Midtown with the M or L train, you’ll have to change trains in Manhattan to get to places of interest:

  • Myrtle-Wyckoff to Delancey Street (first stop in Manhattan on the M train): 15 mins
  • Myrtle-Wyckoff to 1 Ave (first stop in Manhattan on the L train): 20 mins
  • Myrtle-Wyckoff to Central Park: 40 mins
  • Myrtle-Wyckoff to Times Square: 35 mins

Bushwick
Flatbush / Kensington

A neighborhood south of Prospect Park, which has many inexpensive Airbnb’s. Here are the travel times to Manhattan:

  • Beverly Road to Fulton Street (first stop in Manhattan on the 2 / 5 Trains): 30 mins
  • Beverly Road to Canal Street (first stop in Manhattan on the Q Train): 25 mins
  • Beverly Road to Times Square (on the 2 train): 45 mins
  • Beverly Road to Central Park (on the 2 train): 55 mins

These are just a few examples to show you the actual travel times to some of the places of interest you may want to visit in Manhattan. Before booking an Airbnb in Brooklyn, I would recommend doing the following things:

Tips for booking an Airbnb in Brooklyn

1 Get in touch with the host and ask what the closest subway station is. Then use GoogleMaps to map out some of the routes you know for sure you’ll be taking. For example, if you want to see a Broadway show, how long will the ride back to your Airbnb be? Are you planning to visit Harlem or the Upper West Side, or places in other boroughs such as Queens or the Bronx? Map out how long the commute will be. Once you know how long these rides will be, decide if (possibly) long commutes are worth the cheap accommodation. I had visitors tell me that they wished they’d booked something closer to Manhattan because it was usually too far to go back to their place in between activities.

2 Read the reviews of previous guests. Guests usually mention in their review how long the commute to major sights is, and they will also mention other issues – if there were any. Airbnb’s in Brooklyn can be hit or miss. Unfortunately, there are quite a few not-so-great Airbnb’s listed, which is why it’s important to read recent reviews.

3 Research the neighborhood your Airbnb is in. Just a quick search on GoogleMaps to see if there are good restaurants nearby, a coffee shop, a supermarket.. that will give you an idea of what’s around your Airbnb. Bed-Stuy and Flatbush for example are huge neighborhoods – you want to make sure you have a few things nearby so that you don’t have to get on the subway or take an Uber every time you want to go out to eat or to shop at a grocery store.

Where to stay in Brooklyn: The best areas for Airbnb’s in Brooklyn

Williamsburg: This is the most popular neighborhood in Brooklyn, a young crowd, lots of restaurants, bars and nightlife in walking distance. You’re also just one stop away from Manhattan on the L (subway). There is a big WholeFoods supermarket on Bedford Ave, the main commercial street of the neighborhood, if you’d like to make some of your meals in your Airbnb, but there are also plenty of good restaurants and coffee shops nearby.williamsburg brooklyn

Greenpoint: Greenpoint is just north of Williamsburg, a charming neighborhood with a plethora of restaurants and cafes, beautiful architecture and a tranquil vibe. The only thing that’s not great about Greenpoint is the fact that there’s no direct connection to Manhattan. You have to take the G (subway) either south to Williamsburg and connect to the L, or north to Queens and connect to the E / M / 7 trains to get to Manhattan.

Park Slope: A beautiful historic district close to Prospect Park, popular with families. This neighborhood has many great places to eat and drink along the two main commercial drags, 5th Ave and 7th Ave. There are supermarkets nearby, and you have several subway connections to Manhattan: the 2/ 3 from Grand Army Plaza, the G / F from 7 Ave and 4 Ave, the R from Union Street.

Bushwick: A quirky neighborhood with lots of street art and a large artist community, but also home to a large Hispanic community. There are excellent places to eat, cool bars and some places to go out in Bushwick. This neighborhood is popular with a younger crowd and alternative travelers. It takes about 30 mins to get to places of interest in Manhattan, and there are two subway lines, the L and M (and the J / Z lines in South Bushwick).

Clinton Hill & Fort Greene: There are some great Airbnb’s in these two historic neighborhoods, where you find gorgeous Brownstone architecture and historic homes. There aren’t as many restaurants and bars as in Williamsburg, but still a decent number of very good eateries nearby. If you’re Airbnb is in Clinton Hill, you’ll be close to the G line (subway), which connects to the A train in Downtown Brooklyn to get you to Manhattan. If you’re staying in Fort Greene, you will be close to Atlantic Terminal, where lots of different subway lines go to Manhattan (the 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, Q, B, D) as well as a direct train to JFK Airport (the LIRR).where to stay in Brooklyn

Where to stay in Brooklyn: Airbnb vs Hotel

Airbnb’s are definitely cheaper than hotels in Brooklyn, especially if you’re only renting a room in somebody’s apartment – you can find rooms for as little as $50 a night.

With hotels, it’s similar to Airbnb’s: the closer to Manhattan, the more you’ll be paying for your stay.

The best hotels to stay at in Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn is the neighborhood in Brooklyn that has the most chain hotels, like:

Downtown Brooklyn is also close to a large number of subway lines and it is close to Manhattan.

The best (read: fanciest!) hotel in this part of Brooklyn is the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (rooms start at $249 per night), which has an exquisite rooftop pool and stunning views right over the Brooklyn Bridge and the Downtown Manhattan skyline.

Image via Booking.com

Budget Boutique Hotel in Brooklyn

A cheaper option in Downtown Brooklyn is the NU Hotel (rates start at US$164), as of now the only boutique hotel in that area. The NU Hotel has a great artsy vibe and features street art from local artists in the room.

Hotels in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: the trendiest area of Brooklyn

Most people who visit Brooklyn want to stay in Williamsburg, which is known as Brooklyn’s hipster neighborhood. Because of its popularity, many boutique hotels have opened in Williamsburg over the last few years, and if you love boutique hotels as much as I do, you’ll want to treat yourself to a stay at one of these five hotels – they’re all in a great location near the East River, just one stop on the subway or the ferry from Manhattan, and surrounded by dozens of fantastic bars, restaurants, cafes and shops.

The Williamsburg Hotel via Booking.com

Budget option in Williamsburg: The Pod

The Pod Brooklyn is located right in the heart of Williamsburg and Queen Pods start at only US$85! (Note that rates fluctuate drastically, depending on what season you’re visiting New York).

High-quality budget hotels in Brooklyn

Most of these hotels are a bit further away from Manhattan, but offer great value for money. Before booking any of them, I recommend putting the address into GoogleMaps and get directions to a place you’re planning to visit in Manhattan, so that you’ll get an idea of what your commute will be. For someone who plans on seeing a Broadway show, the 45-minute commute to the RL Hotel in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood might be too much of a hassle.

Here are the best Brooklyn budget hotels that are further away from Manhattan but that offer great value for money:

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Five Mistakes Travelers Make When Visiting Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon9

Antelope Canyon is a destination that has exploded in popularity over the past few years – and rightly so. This canyon in Arizona is, despite its rather small size, one of the most remarkable canyons in the entire United States. The increase in popularity and visitors means that more and more travelers are arriving at Antelope Canyon unprepared.  If you’re planning to visit Antelope Canyon, give this article a read to make sure you don’t make mistakes like…. 
antelope canyon

1 Not booking tickets in advance

Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in the American West. People come from all over the world to see the beautiful slot canyon, and many travelers feel that a trip to Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon is incomplete without a visit to Antelope Canyon. The problem with that is that the number of people that are allowed to enter Antelope Canyon has a daily cap. To ensure that you don’t get shut out on your trip to Antelope Canyon, it is extremely important to book your tickets in advance.  This will guarantee that you get access to the wonder and that you get to see it at the time you desire. We recommend booking your tickets as early as possible, particularly if you are going to visit Antelope Canyon over a holiday or the summer.  It is recommended to book direct with a local tour company, check out this list of Antelope Canyon tour operators.Antelope Canyon rockIf you end up visiting Antelope Canyon during a busy holiday and you didn’t plan ahead, some online travel agents have started listing tickets on their sites, beware as the reviews are mixed for these Antelope Canyon tickets sold via a third party.  Another option if you are shut out of Antelope Canyon tickets is to book a tour to Antelope Canyon, and the tour operator will provide the tickets for tours they lead to Antelope Canyon.Antelope Canyon

2 Not wearing the right shoes

Antelope Canyon is a hike—there is no getting around it. There is over a mile’s worth of walking and millions of grains of sand you will encounter along the way.  The right shoes are essential for a great tour. Open-toed shoes should be avoided. Wear something that can keep sand out and will help you navigate stairs.  Something comfortable and athletic is advised, but full-on hiking boots are not necessary. We like to wear trainers (tennis shoes, athletic shoes, sneakers—whatever you want to call them). These will keep you comfortable, safe, and the majority of the sand will stay in Antelope Canyon and out of your shoes!antelope canyon arizona

3 Not following the rules

Antelope Canyon tours are offered by a local tour operator.  These tour operators run tours with permission from the Navajo Nation Parks service.  The Navajo Nation Parks service has a set of rules that must be followed while inside Antelope Canyon. It is the job of the local tour company to make sure its guests follow these rules. Without tight control over their guests’ behavior, they risk losing their right to lead tours at Antelope Canyon.  For this reason, they can be very strict when it comes to rule enforcement. 

The two rules that guests most often come up against are that there are no bags are allowed, and no photos are allowed on the stairs.Antelope Canyon outside

We have witnessed hundreds of guests make a mad dash from the tour waiting room back to their cars to put their bags away before the tour begins. Slower ones don’t make it back in time and miss their tour. Despite the numerous and clear warnings at multiple stages before the tour starts, there are always a few people who think they will be the ones to get a bag into Antelope Canyon (or, more likely, they just didn’t pay attention to the signs along the way). Don’t risk missing your Antelope Canyon tour; don’t bring a bag with you.

Another rule that often trips up a visit to Lower Antelope Canyon is the “No Photos on the Stairs” rule. There are a few sets of stairs throughout the canyon, but guests are most likely to break this rule when they first enter. There are four flights of stairs when you first enter the canyon, all of which are a bit steep and require all of your attention and both of your hands.  The problem is that this is the first time guests enter Antelope Canyon, and it is gorgeous! And what is most people’s first reaction when they see something gorgeous? That’s right, they grab their phone to take a photo of it! The problem is: if you’re caught taking photos while you’re on the stairs, they will simply kick you out of the canyon! We tell our guests that it isn’t worth the risk.  Follow the rules, and focus on the stairs.Antelope Canyon Stairs

4 Not paying attention to time differences

Time zones are generally pretty easy to follow within the continental United States. There are four major time zones, and your phone automatically detects them and adjusts accordingly. There is one place where this strategy does not work, and that is northern Arizona. Let’s talk about why cell phones get tripped up on time in the region and what you can do about it.

Warning! The next three bullet points may make your head spin. If you want to know how to get the time right when visiting Antelope Canyon, skip these three bullet points and skip to “An Easy Fix” below.antelope canyon1

  • Arizona is located in the Mountain Time Zone, but unlike almost everywhere else in the United States, Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time. That means that while most Americans change their clocks in spring and fall, Arizona does not. Therefore, during the winter months, the time in Arizona is the same as the rest of Mountain Standard Time, Utah included.  During the rest of the year, the time in Arizona is the same as the Pacific Standard Time, Nevada included. Visitors who drive from Nevada or Utah can easily get tripped up by this situation. It doesn’t help that some very popular technology also get tripped up by the time zones.  Be careful using Google Maps. When driving from Nevada to Arizona in the summertime, it may show your arrival time as one hour later than your actual arrival time.
  • Antelope Canyon is located on the Navajo Nation. Unlike the rest of Arizona, the Navajo Nation does observe daylight savings time, meaning for half of the year, the time on the Navajo Nation is different from the rest of Antelope Canyon.  Fortunately for visitors, Antelope Canyon doesn’t observe Navajo Nation time, they observe Arizona time. This can still confuse your phone.  See “An Easy Fix” below to remedy this.
  • Antelope Canyon is located fewer than ten miles from the Utah border. When you are visit Antelope Canyon and the surrounding areas, it is not uncommon for your cell phone to ping a tower that is actually in Utah, which will change the time on your phone.

visit Antelope Canyon

An Easy Fix

There is an easy fix for the above problems. When entering Arizona, set your phone for a manual time switch and set the city to Phoenix—that’s it! Do this and you won’t have any time troubles while visiting Antelope Canyon.

5 Expecting to see light beams outside of light beam season

Before visiting Antelope Canyon, the iconic image that everyone thinks of is a beam of light shooting down through Antelope Canyon. It is natural that people hope to see this when booking a tour.  What many people don’t know is that the light beams aren’t as frequent as photos make it look; you must plan carefully if you want to see them.

To start, light beams are only visible between March and October. Any tour booked outside of these months won’t be able to see the light beams. Additionally, the light beams can only be seen from approximately 11 AM to 1 PM. Finally, the light beams can be seen best at Upper Antelope Canyon, it is important to know the difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. If it is light beams you are looking for, Upper Antelope Canyon is the one you want to choose.antelope canyon light

The biggest mistake people make is showing up in a month like November expecting to see the light beams. This isn’t going to happen, so it is best to be prepared.  The light beams may be overrated; we don’t recommend planning your entire trip to Antelope Canyon based on the chance of seeing a light beam.  The canyon itself is many magnitudes better than the light beams and looks beautiful year-round.antelope canyon entrance and exit

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Top hiking trails in Los Angeles for the hiker in you

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Hiking is one of the most fun activities to do in LA, allowing you to take in the stunning scenery around – and right within – the city. Whether you are someone who has been raised in the city or a traveler visiting LA for the first time, you should check out one of the many hiking trails in L.A. The hike doesn’t have to be overly strenuous or long: there are plenty of shorter hikes in L.A., too. Even if you’re not an avid hiker, trust me: you will enjoy every single of the hikes below – all of which are trails I consider to be the best hikes in Los Angeles. Get packing today and return with a backpack full of memories and adrenaline rushes.

Head out to the Hollywood Hills

Though this is a three-mile tame loop, which doesn’t sound like much, it’s the 1,821-foot elevation is that makes this hike quite challenging – especially for novice hikers.  The Wisdom Tree at the top should be your goal as it is said to be the only survivor of a 2007 wildfire. Check out the tree on its personal Instagram page. If you wish to extend the loop, climb further up to see the Hollywood Sign. The downhill journey is easy, and even though you’ll huff and puff your way up to the top, the views from the top are absolutely worth it. Don’t forget to pack water and sunscreen! Since there is no proper trailhead parking lot, you’ll have to park your car in the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood, ideally along along Lake Hollywood Drive. Don’t leave valuables in the car while you’re on the trail, especially if you want to head up to the Hollywood sign for sunset (in that case, make sure you pack a flashlight for the way down, or make sure your phone has enough battery). Luggage storage services in Los Angeles can be found easily, if needed.best hikes in Los Angeles

Malibu’s Grotto trail is fascinating

You must be wondering what gave this trail such a name. Well, it is the standing water that has done the honors. But there’s more – the surrounding geographical features are just as stunning, which is why the Malibu Grotto Trail is considered one of the best hikes in Los Angeles. There are tall boulders, some of the friendliest frogs, and shady nooks that complete the scenery. Though the hike is fairly easy, you can expect to get stained clothes by the end of it since you will be scrambling into the grotto, so don’t wear your fanciest hiking attire on this trail. If you are heading out with a car or bike, park at the Circle X ranch campground.

Take your dog to Wilacre Park

Are you a dog-lover? Are you traveling with your dog? Then why not go on a hike with your furry, woofy, paw-buddy? Wilacre Park at Studio City has a dog-friendly trail with moderate inclination. There will be a point when you reach the fork. Continue to the right for a quick hike, or turn left for a longer, more challenging and beautiful route. The local fauna is bound to leave you enchanted. Also good to know: the parking lot at the trail head is free!

And if you want to take your dog on more than just one hike – here are seven more scenic off-leash dog walks in Los Angeles.

Explore the less traversed Los Liones Canyon

Los Angeles can be overwhelming – the traffic, the smog, the noise.. If you are someone who is looking for some time away from people and want to get some solitude, then the Los Liones Canyon is the best hike in L.A. for you. It is one of the most stunning spots on the Westside where you can sit and sip coffee, enjoy a book, or walk and explore and vicinity. The trail isn’t very long – it stretches for approximately 1.5 miles and is perfect if you’re looking for a short pre-lunch hike. If you want a longer loop, then you can opt for the 7-miles Parker Mesa Overlook trail, which starts via the Los Liones Canyon trail but goes further into the Santa Monica Mountains. If you opt for the longer hike, don’t leave any valuables in your car. Luckily, luggage storage Los Angeles is never a hassle for anyone.

How about the rock pools at Malibu Creek State Park?

For some of the best hiking trails in LA, head to Malibu Creek State Park. There are a number of hikes here: the Cage Creek Trail, the Lookout Trail, the Cistern Trail and the most popular one: the Rock Pools Trail. The rock pools are easily accessible and make for a picturesque spot for photography lovers. Since this is one of the most popular spots for hiking in the area, you’ll definitely come across other hikers on the trails here. Diving into the creek is forbidden yet it is not uncommon to see people in the water here. This is a trail that is perfect for the entire family – kids will love it, too.

Read also: Five cities surrounding Los Angeles that you need to visit

Malibu Creek State Park

These hiking trails in L.A. have something for everyone: stunning ocean scenery, rugged forest tracks, and rocky canyons. There is no perfect age or time to go hiking – just do it. Some hiking essentials you always need to have: light backpacks, comfortable shoes and clothes, a water bottle, and some snacks.

Photo Credit: Images 3 and 5 used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (3) Los Liones Trail by Megan Rosenbloom; (5) Malibu Creek State Park by Melody
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Boggy Creek: Park Guide & Gruesome Legend

When we talk about Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, we are drawn to the city of Orlando in Florida, and when we talk of Florida, the Everglades or its vast swamplands. When talking about swamplands, we think about those fast airboats to go around. If you’re looking for a tourist attraction that combines both extraordinary adventure and hair-raising legend, look no further than Boggy Creek.

Where Is Boggy Creek Located?

Although commonly tagged as an Orlando attraction, it is actually located in the neighboring city of Kissimmee, Florida. Nevertheless, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in this part of the state. The inviting weather, the vast expanse of greenery and water combined and the festive mood of the place make Boggy Creek Airboat Rides a place tourists do not miss out visiting when they reach the state of Florida.

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What Are The Activities in Boggy Creek?

There is actually a lot to do at Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. They have different tour sets of activities for any part of the day, including day, sunset, night or private. The place is complete with amenities and a landscape that gives an authentic feel of the Florida landscape. The park also has restaurants and bars where you can have your fill of the mouthwatering barbecue and chug on your favorite beer, wine or soda while you await the activities that you have for the day.

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Airboat Rides

No trip to Boggy Creek park is complete without experiencing an airboat ride and getting front seat view of the authentic Florida landscape and natural outdoors. You are guaranteed a safe ride through the guidance of US Coast Guard Certified Master Captains. The park’s fleet of airboat provides many tours for visitors day and night, as they continuously dock and set out again with certified and friendly captains who will guide you and provide you useful information about the area. To keep up with the hype of the tour, you’ll need to bring with you a Boggy Creek airboat attraction guide. This way, you’ll always be in the know of the places that can be visited, areas that can be passed through, the location of restrooms and concession stands and the different wildlife in the area. The airboat captains would be more than willing to show you the beauty of nature and the spots where you get to alligators, turtles, birds and flora and fauna native to the Everglades.

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A plus to the airboat ride experience is being able to drive one yourself! Availing of the VIP package tour allows you to experience driving the airboat with the certified and experienced airboat captains. Just a short moment’s training on the controls and getting the feel of driving, the captain will let you take control of the boat and let it fly over the water. 

Native American Village

Get to know and be in touch with history and the original settlers of North America. Tourists can get to visit an authentic Native American home with genuine artifacts and hand-made creations. You’ll also get to observe some of the daily activities of Native Americans and develop a sense of respect and appreciation for their unique culture, heritage and contribution to society. Tourists will be amazed and appreciate the primitive way of living and demonstrations of how native tools such as spears, blowpipes, and bows are used and how “man’s first cooking technique” is shown. Learning history and culture don’t have to be all books and pictures. You can get the first-hand experience of these lessons at Boggy Creek.

Photo Swamp Shack

Want an Instagrammable souvenir from your Boggy Creek tour? Visit the Swamp Shack to try putting on the “Old Florida Outdoor Wear”, ranging from camo to overall. You’ll be the talk of your circle of friends as you give them a glimpse of old Florida through your photos. Share your selfie to show you appreciate what the old folks of Florida wore. Just pose with your old outfit around the shack and say cheese.

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The Legend of Boggy Creek – Fouke Monster

Although it shares the same name with the film, it should not be confused with the urban legend from Fouke, Arkansas. The Boggy Creek theme park in Orlando, Florida doesn’t have anything to do with the Arkansas monster. For the uninformed, The Boggy Creek or Fouke monster is Arkansas’ version of the Sasquatch legend.  

The Boggy Creek theme park is something you should include in your bucket list of places to visit in Florida. This is a place where adventure, nature, history, and culture all get rolled into one amazing tour. This is an ideal tour destination whether you’re a solo tourist, touring with friends or touring with your family. There are many activities to do and enjoy and the food and drinks just as equally exciting. Orlando, Florida should definitely be included in your vacation map.

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Photo Credit: All photos shared via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Boggy Creek by Ronald Woan; (2) Boggy Creek by Ronald Woan; (3) Boggy Creek Airboat by Ronald Woan; (4) Boggy Creek Sign by Romana Klee; (5) Monster Mart by Romana Klee

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48 Hours in Knoxville, Tennessee

greetings from Knoxville

When people think about traveling to Tennessee, Knoxville is usually not the first destination that comes to mind, and Knoxville is often overlooked in favor of more famous Nashville or Memphis. However, you may want to reconsider your travel plans next time you find yourself in the Volunteer State.

I just spent a few days in Knoxville and was surprised how many cool things to do I found in Tennessee’s third largest city. From whiskey to craft beer, hearty Southern cuisine to upscale dining, from street art to contemporary art, from historic architecture to local shops, from kayaking to hiking – there’s something for everyone in Knoxville.

If you have a couple of days to spare, spend two nights in Knoxville – and you’ll barely have enough time to get a little taste of everything the city has to offer. Read on for my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Knoxville – including where to eat in Knoxville, where to drink in Knoxville, where to shop in Knoxville, and what to do in Knoxville.Knoxville Tennessee

Day 1 (Friday)

3pm: Explore Downtown Knoxville

Start your explorations of Knoxville right in the heart of the city: the historic Market Square. This large, rectangular square was established in 1854 as a marketplace for local farmer and is now a pedestrian area with several independent shops and restaurants.

If you enjoy shopping, make sure to check out Earth to Old City, which has a fantastic selection of unique gifts, accessories, clothes, furniture and decorative items and Earthbound Trading, where you find clothes, jewelry, and some home goods like candles, soaps, glasses and artisanal body care products. Fizz is another shop right in Market Square that is worth a visit, a boutique selling women’s clothes and jewelry. If you happen to visit on a Wednesday or a Saturday, you can also visit the local farmers market and bring back local produce such as honey.Knoville Market Square

Continue your stroll to Charles Krutch Park, just south of Market Square, where you find a number of sculptures – almost like a sculpture garden. Every spring, many of the sculptures are replaced with new art installations, making this an interesting park to check out every time you visit Knoxville. From Charles Krutch Park, turn east towards Gay Street, the main street of Downtown Knoxville. In the mid-19th century, most of Knoxville’s commercial activity took place around here, and many historic buildings have been preserved.

Architecture lovers should take note of the Italianate-style Fidelity building (502 Gay Street), the historic Farragut Hotel (which now houses a Hyatt Place Hotel), the Tennessee Theatre (604 South Gay Street), the East Tennessee History Center (601 South Gay Street), the Bijou Theatre (803 South Gay Street), and the Neo-Classical building that used to house the Holston National Bank, built in 1913, which was the city’s tallest building for a long time (531 South Gay Street).knoxville Gay Street

For a sweet treat, stop at Cruze Farm, a beautiful ice cream shop modeled after an old-fashioned soda fountain. This shop is worth visiting for the creative ice cream flavors, such as blackberry topped with lemon cookies and cheesecake bites, and drizzled with honey. They also have a couple of dairy-free options. Just across the street, a little further north on Gay Street, you find The Phoenix Pharmacy, which is an actual old-fashioned soda fountain serving house-made ice creams, milkshakes, floats and sundaes and is more of a sit-down place than Cruze Farm. The Phoenix Pharmacy is in fact an independent pharmacy in the back of the soda fountain.

If you are a history buff, you’ll want to continue your stroll further south towards the Tennessee River. Just one block from Gay Street on E Hill Street you find the Blount Mansion, designed by William Blount, a signer of the United State Constitution, who was also the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory and who played a significant role in Tennessee becoming the sixteenth state. The mansion is also known to be the first frame house built west of the Appalachians, and one of the oldest houses in the Southern interior, dating back to 1792. Blount Mansion is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am – 5pm (March through December) and Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Guided tours run hourly, but note that during the winter months tours are by appointment only.Blount Mansion

Tip: If you are planning to tour more historic homes, consider buying the Historic Homes Of Knoxville Combo Ticket. For $25, you get admission to seven historic homes: Blount Mansion (1792), James White’s Fort (1786), Marble Springs (ca. 1797), Ramsey House (1797), Crescent Bend (1834), Mabry-Hazen House (1858), Westwood (1890).

If you prefer shopping to history, turn west on Union Avenue (south of Market Square) for some shopping: The Tree & Vine has an amazing assortment of olive oils and balsamic vinegar, spices, hot sauces and salsas, as well as kitchenware. The Casual Pint, right next door, is a craft beer market for beer lovers selling rare artisanal beers from small U.S. and global microbreweries, and Union Ave Books is a well-stocked independent bookshop. Coffee lovers should stop for a quick caffeine fix at Pearl on Union, right next door to Union Ave Books, which has amazing espresso creations, including Café Miel, a honey latte.Union Ave shops

6pm: Get on the whiskey trail

For an aperitif, head to Knoxville’s Old City. At the northern end of Gay Street, turn right on W Jackson Ave and you’ll find yourself in what used to be the industrial hub of the city. The former Jackson Freight Terminal (205 W Jackson Ave) is now home to PostModern Spirits. The distillery has a small bar where you can sample handcrafted whiskey, gin, vodka and a liqueur made from natural botanicals, grains and fruits while watching them being made right next door in a large depot.

PostModern Spirits is one of two distilleries in Knoxville that are part of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, a group of 26 distilleries across Tennessee. You can choose between tastings (they have whiskey, gin and amaretto flights) or classic cocktails. I had my eyes set on a whiskey flight, but ended up going for a cocktail from the seasonal gin cocktail menu, because every single one of the gin drinks sounded divine (and my strawberry gin cocktail did not disappoint!)Postmodern Distilling

7.30pm: Dinner – Burgers & Bourbon

For a hearty dinner, head back to Market Square. At Stock & Barrel, you can combine gourmet craft burgers (made with locally sourced ingredients) with bourbon. The whiskey menu is mind-boggling: in addition to Tennessee bourbon, you can choose from a large range of rye whiskeys, Japanese whiskeys, Irish whiskeys, and Scotch. Stock and Barrel Knoxville

For a more upscale dinner, I recommend J.C. Holdway, which focuses on farm-fresh Appalachian dishes with a unique twist by James Beard award-winning chef Joseph Lenn. The sophisticated dishes – many of which are made using a wood-fire grill – are creative and unique, and I loved the bright dining room with large windows. If you enjoy cooking, sit at the counter facing the open kitchen to watch the chefs – an added treat to a memorable meal. I recommend reserving a table.

JC Holdway
Buckwheat Risotto with Broccolino and Carrots

9pm: Live Music

Nashville and Memphis may be more famous for live music, but do yourself a favor and finish your evening with some live music – this is Tennessee after all! It is worth checking out a listing of live music events on the dates you’re visiting Knoxville, because there is live music seven nights a week, and many artists include Knoxville in their tour itinerary. I was lucky enough to catch Amy Ray live at the historic Bijou Theater, which was a great concert in a beautiful venue, but also check out this full list of live music venues in Knoxville and this Knoxville event calendar to see what is going on where.

For jazz, head to The Bistro at the Bijou, where you can listen to live jazz every evening Wednesday through Sunday while sipping on a handcrafted cocktail. This is one of things to do in Knoxville you shouldn’t miss.Knoxville Live music

If you want to skip live music, head to Peter Kern Library, a speakeasy bar accessed through a little alley next to The Casual Pint on Union Ave (the bar is located inside the Oliver Hotel). The library-themed bar has an exquisite cocktail menu that come in antique books with drinks named after literary characters such as Holly Golightly and Anne Shirley. I loved the intimate feel of the bar itself, which has a fireplace, cozy booths with comfortable couches and bookshelves filled with literary classics.Peter Kern Library

Day 2 (Saturday)

9am: Brunch

Head to The Bistro at the Bijou for a large breakfast in Knoxville’s oldest restaurant – there has been a dining establishment continuously since 1820 in this space, and the Bistro at the Bijou has been open since 1980. The menu combines classic brunch dishes and southern fare, and brunch cocktails are only $3.50.

Bistro at the bijou
Summer omelette with squash, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese at The Bistro At The Bijou

10am: Time for art!

Knoxville has some fantastic art, and the Knoxville Museum of Art, which is free, is the best place to start your artsy morning. The art museum is located on the western side of the World’s Fair Park, which is just southwest of Downtown Knoxville. It focuses mainly on regional Tennessean art and has a small section dedicated to contemporary art.Knoxville Museum Of Art

You can combine your visit of the Art Museum with a stroll through World’s Fair Park, which is where the World’s Fair took place in 1982. The only two structures remaining from the World’s Fair are the Sunsphere, a 266-feet tall tower that houses an observation deck and the amphitheater. The Sunsphere can be visited for free – take the elevator to the top and enjoy a 360-degree view over Knoxville. The park is also home to several fountains and lawns, making for a pleasant stroll.worlds fair park knoxville

Tip: If you happen to visit Knoxville on the first Friday of the month, I recommend checking out the Knoxville ArtWalk. It takes place on each first Friday of the month, and art galleries, artists studios and art collectives offer special evening hours, open houses and artist exhibits. You can find more information here.

12pm: Explore Knoxville’s Old City

From the World’s Fair Park, head back downtown. The northern part of Gay Street is part of Knoxville’s Art District, and there are a number of galleries here. Don’t miss the Emporium – Arts & Culture Alliance, a spacious arts space showcasing art and photography by local artists. The University Of Tennessee Art Gallery is worth a visit, as is Jack’s Of Knoxville, a small shop focusing on locally made items, such as prints, mugs and cards – great for gift shopping.Knoxville Old City

From here, head further north to the Old City, the part of town that became Knoxville’s industrial hub when the railroad arrived in 1850s. Many of the old factory buildings that were abandoned after the city’s significance as industrial center have been renovated and over the past couple of decades, revitalizing the Old City. Most buildings are now home to cafes, restaurants, independent shops, boutiques and art galleries and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Southern Terminal and Warehouse Historic District.

Take a stroll along W Jackson Drive, where you find galleries and shops, including Rala (112 W Jackson Ave), which is worth a stop for its unique gifts by local artists, and Awaken Coffee (125 W Jackson Ave), which has tasty coffee creations in an artsy setting. Turn right on S Central Street, where you’ll find more restaurants and shops. If you love beer, stop at Pretentious Beer Company to sample some of their craft brews, and to watch them blow beer glasses. Pretentious Beer pride themselves or being the only in the world where you can drink beer made in-house, out of glasses made in-house. But Pretentious Beer would be worth a visit for the names of the brews alone – you’ll find beers with names like ‘Embrace Joy, Dammit!’, ‘Masturdate’, ‘Pillowy Fluff Fluff’ and ‘Basic Beach’ on the menu here.pretentious beer company

1pm: Gas station lunch

If you are already hungry, I recommend having lunch in the Old City. There are a number of great restaurants around here, including OliBea (they focus on breakfast, but also have yummy bowls and tacos, and you can enjoy food from OliBea with your beer at Pretentious Beer next door) or Good Golly Tamale (they have different tamales, including several vegetarian and vegan options).

If you’re not hungry yet, continue your walk to North Knoxville. Walk north on Central Street all the way up to the Central Filling Station, a food truck park on the site of a former gas station. In addition to food trucks, there are games for kids and a large sitting area, and a bar that sells craft beers.central filling station

2pm: Craft Beer Crawl

Speaking of craft beer: there are two breweries right by Central Filling Station: Schulz Bräu, which is modeled off of a traditional beer garden, and Elkmont Exchange, which in addition to beer also has an extensive food menu. Both of these breweries are part of the Knoxville Ale Trail, which is why they make the ideal starting point for a beer crawl. There are around 20 breweries in Knoxville, and many of them are in walking distance of one another: perfect for a self-guided brewery tour.

The Knoxville Area Brewers Association developed a Knoxville Ale Trail Passport which you can get for free in any of the participating breweries and which also contains a map with all participating breweries. In each place you visit you can ask for your passport to be stamped and you can claim a reward at the end, depending on how many breweries you manage to visit: Four breweries get you a sticker, ten breweries a glass, and if you manage to visit all breweries, you’ll be rewarded with a T-shirt.balter beerworks

For a beer crawl, include the following breweries in your tour:

  • Schulz Bräu
  • Elkmont Exchange
  • Crafty Bastard Brewing
  • The Pretentious Beer Co
  • Balter Beerworks

These are all within walking distance from Downtown Knoxville. A little further away, but easy to reach in an Uber, are Abridged Beer Company, Alliance Brewing Company and Last Days Of Autumn.

Alternatively, you can just hop on a guided craft beer tour with Knox Brew Tours – this way, you’ll get to learn more about craft beer brewing and you also get to experience some of the further away breweries.Breweries Knoxville

Alternative afternoon: North Knoxville Antiques Shopping

If beer is not your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of things to do in Knoxville that don’t require downing beers, and North Knoxville will satisfy shoppers, and especially antique aficionados.

You can start your afternoon with a sweet treat at Wild Love Bakehouse, in “The Happy Holler” district. The bakery sells French pastries, biscuits, cookies and other pastries – and everything is incredibly tasty.

Right next door are Mid Mod Collective, a shop for mid-century modern furniture and accessories, and The Book Eddy, a great used book store. Walk further south along N Central Street, and you’ll pass several other stores worth peeking inside: Chance’s Antique & Auction, Magnolia Records, Chance’s Antiques, and Friends Antique & Collectibles.

If you are a fan of antiques, you will love all of these, and make sure to also stop at Time Warp Tea Room, amazing vintage biker club / restaurant filled with motorbike memorabilia and old motorbikes – a must-visit for any motorbike fan. Across the street from Time Warp Tea Room is the excellent Central Flats and Taps, a restaurant that specializes in flat breads and has, as the name suggests, plenty of beers on tap.North Knoxville Shopping

On the way back to Downtown Knoxville, don’t miss Old Gray Cemetery. Old Gray was established in 1850 and is known for its grand monuments, Celtic crosses, Victorian-era marble sculptures (often angels), obelisks, elaborate carvings on many of the grave markers and headstones. The cemetery was created during a time when it became more popular to create larger, park-like cemeteries, rather than simply placing headstones next to a church. There are weeping willow trees and oaks, making for a beautiful, peaceful atmosphere. Look out for the Horne Monument – an almost life-size Confederate soldier guarding the graves of two Confederate veterans.Old Gray Cemetery Knoxville

Saturday Evening Entertainment in Knoxville

For your evening entertainment, check out the This Weekend events section on the VisitKnoxville website to find the best events – there is always live music, or you could join a Paranormal Adventure Tour, join a sunset dinner cruise or, if you spent the afternoon brewery hopping, continue your craft brew tour.

For dinner, head to Kefi in the Old City for sophisticated Mediterranean food (with a focus on Greek food) or to Cru Bistro & Wine Bar on North Gay Street for a wide variety of wines and shareable small plates.

kefi knoxville
Kefi in Knoxville’s Old City

Day 3 (Sunday)

9am: Brunch

Head to Balter Beerworks for their scrumptious weekend brunch – they don’t only know how to make beer here, but Balter also serves a delicious brunch (some people say it’s the best brunch in all of Knoxville!). In addition to beer, they serve wine and cocktails. And did I mention $1 mimosas and a special $4 beer cocktail named “Baltering Mary”?balter beerworks knoxville

11am: Time to be active – Paddle, hike or zip across the woods

Knoxville has some great outdoors activities, and after eating and drinking your way around Knoxville, it is time to burn some calories.

SUP & Kayak: If you are a water enthusiast, rent a paddle board and do some stand-up paddling on the Tennessee River. I rented a board at Volunteer Landing Marina for $10 per hour, but Billy Lush Boards & Brew also rents paddle boards and kayaks (single kayaks / board are $20 per hour or $31 for two hours; tandem kayaks / canoes are $30 per hour or $41 for two hours). If you want to spend time out on the river with a larger group, consider renting a pontoon at Volunteer Boat Rentals – a half day rental (9.30am – 1.30pm or 2.30pm – 6.30pm) is $217.41; a full day is $272.03 and the boat fits up to ten people.Knoxville Outdoors

Hiking: Another great activity is the hike to Fort Dickerson Quarry. From Downtown Knoxville, this is just a 30 – 40 min. walk, and you can reward yourself with a dip in the turquoise water at the end (depending on the time of year you’re visiting). The hike is pretty year-round, offering scenic vistas over the quarry from a couple of viewpoints along the way.

The most extensive network of trails is a 10-min cab ride from Downtown Knoxville in the Ijams Nature Center. This Nature Center consists of forests, wetlands, an abandoned quarry, wildlife, and 40 miles of trails. No matter if you enjoy walking, kayaking, rock climbing or mountain biking: you will love Ijams.

Canopying: If you are an adventurous traveler, you will love Navitat Canopy Adventures, an obstacle course through the treetops. This is a fun challenge in a beautiful nature setting: you traverse ropes, balance over narrow elevated bridgeways (and some of them include a few hanging chunks of wood, to make it more difficult to get across), zipline between trees – all high up in the air. I thought a couple of hours here would be enough, but I could have easily spent all afternoon challenging myself to all six ample canopy adventure trails.Ijams nature center

1.30pm: Lunch south of the river

Before leaving Knoxville, there is time for one more great lunch. I suggest venturing down to the south side of the river, where you find a number of great eateries (and a couple of breweries, if you’re still thirsty!) along Sevier Street. SouthSide Garage has food trucks and a well-stocked bar with local craft beers, South Coast Pizza has divine pies in a rustic setting, Landing House serves Asian food (with a focus on Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes),

the landing house
Asian-style eggplant frites at The Landing House

Beer lovers will appreciate Alliance Brewing Company and Printshop Beer Company, as well as Hi-Wire Brewing, which just arrived from Asheville, NC.

For dessert, stop at Gelato Brothers, where you can indulge in flavors like lemon pie, mango or Belgium dark chocolate, or enjoy one of their unique coffee creations.

Where to stay in Knoxville

  • The Tennessean – Elegant 5-star hotel in World’s Fair Park, just west of Downtown Knoxville. Named ‘The top hotel in the South’ by Southern Living. Rooms start at $179 per night
  • The Oliver Hotel – Fabulous boutique hotel in a remodeled 1876 building; part of the Southern Living Hotel Collection. Rooms start at around $250 per night.
  • Hyatt Place – Located right on Gay Street in the heart of Knoxville. Great rooftop bar. Rooms start at $195 per night
  • Residence Inn by Marriott – In the center of town, one block from Gay Street. Large suites with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. Breakfast included in room rate. Rooms start at $178 per night
  • Courtyard by Marriott – Shared building with Residence Inn, one block from Gay Street. Courtyard offers less amenities and smaller rooms than Residence Inn, slightly cheaper. Rooms start at $168 per night
  • Holiday Inn – Solid budget choice, located right in World’s Fair Park. Rooms start at $145 per night
the tennessean
The Tennessean and World’s Fair Park

How To Get Around Knoxville

Both the Uber and the Lyft taxi apps operate in Knoxville, and I never had to wait long for a rideshare. But I opted for other modes of transportation more often than I requested a Lyft – because Knoxville also has bicycles and electronic scooters which make it easy to get around the city.

The Pace bicycles are the cheapest option, offering the first 30-minute ride for free and then only charging $1 for every half-hour ride. In half an hour, you can get pretty much anywhere in Knoxville. Download the Pace app and click on the map to find the closest bikes.

As for scooters, you can choose between two companies: Spin and VeoRide. I would’ve used either one – because in some locations I could only see Spin scooters, in others I spotted VeoRide scooters but no Spin scooters – but wasn’t able to take a Spin for a spin because I needed to upload a valid U.S. driver’s license to access the app, which I don’t have. To ride on a VeoRide scooter, a driver’s license wasn’t required.

The scooters are easy to unlock and use via each respective app, but be aware that they only work between 7am and 9pm, and that there are several ‘No Ride Zones’, where the scooters don’t work. Both companies charge $1 to unlock a scooter and $0.15 per minute during the ride.

You can download VeoRide here and Spin here.

If you enjoy walking, it is also possible to visit all of the places mentioned in this article on foot, except for the Ijams Nature Center, which may be a little far.spin scooters knoxvilleFor more ideas what to do in Knoxville, check out Visit Knoxville.com.

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