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Going On A Road Trip From Dallas? Here Are Some Tips

road trip texas I10

Going around the United States is best done by car. There are so many things to see and places to visit that you can’t do with public or commercial transportation. One of the most splendid places to base your road trip in is Dallas, the third-largest city in the state of Texas. The city is a well-known transit hub and a captivating tourist destination in its own right. Dallas is also an excellent choice as a base due to its location and the countless options to get out on the road to explore the rest of the city, the state of Texas, and beyond. Having a vehicle to go around is just half the fun of traveling, preparations and planning make the other half. Read on for some tips to make your Dallas-based road trip an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Ditch the Car, Get an RV

No, it doesn’t mean abandoning or leaving your car for good. You only need to leave your car in your garage for a while and choose a vehicle better suited for long and laid-back road trips – an RV.  There are plenty of reasons why renting an RV in Dallas is an excellent idea. One is the condition and maintenance of the car. RV rentals make sure that their vehicles are roadworthy, well-maintained, and safe to drive for their customers. You are saved from the hassle of getting your car maintained and tuned up for the trip. Comfort is another compelling reason why you should rent or use an RV for road trips. RVs have spacious interiors, with some are even large enough to be temporary or permanent mobile homes. If you are planning to go on a road trip for several days and will be bringing a lot of stuff with you, the RV is the perfect vehicle to handle all your essential road trip stuff and even things you buy along the way. Rental RVs are also insured and 24/7 roadside assistance is either included or added as an affordable add-on, depending on the RV rental. Just the inclusion of insurance is enough to make you feel assured that the RV rental is also looking out for the safety of their customers. 

Plan Your Road Trip Itinerary

Before you embark on a road trip, you have to determine first the places and destinations you will be going to. You will also need to have a map or GPS to find the best routes to take. If you are going on a trip for a limited time, choose the shortest routes toward your destinations, the best time to hit the road before rush hours or traffic builds up, and pick the places where you might stopover to rest or sleep. If you have a long and flexible road trip schedule, choose routes where you can pass by multiple scenic or tourist spots. If you want to explore cities and towns up close, you can take the freeways to enjoy the urban sceneries and if you don’t mind some unplanned stopovers or detours. Whatever your planned itinerary is, whether it is a weekend trip or a long road trip, remember to put safety first and include the projected duration that you will be driving. Plot the locations where you will be stopping to rest or sleep. You need to rest for at least 15 minutes every two hours to revitalize your concentration and energy for driving, so circle out the probable areas where you might stop and rest. 

roadside coffee shop There can be a possibility that you may not be able to reach your plotted locations due to various reasons, so make it a point to have a backup plan or to decide quickly on alternative places to rest or stay for the night. Also, make sure to limit your total driving time to 8 hours and base your itinerary on that projected time. Stick to the planned schedule to ensure you stay alert on the entire trip and to avoid the risks associated with driving fatigue. It can be tempting to drive longer than 8 hours or drive without breaks, but reaching your destination safely is your top priority.    

It’s Okay to Start with a Short Road Trip

Nothing is embarrassing about calling a 65-mile drive from your base a road trip. There is no clear-cut or unspoken rule about what a road trip is or is not. While most people often think of road trips as long-distance travel by car, in a general sense, a road trip is essentially any leisurely travel or journey in your car. If it is your first time going on a road trip, you can start with a short journey to a familiar destination to build your confidence and get a hang of the road trip experience. 

Texas is a large state and its cities cover a large area. If you are basing your road trip in Dallas as a first-time road-tripper, you can choose the nearest cities or towns. Better yet, you don’t even have to leave the city and go on a road trip within it instead. As mentioned before, Dallas in itself is a superb tourist location and road trip destination. Whatever the purpose of your road trip is, Dallas has interesting places to visit and catch your fancy. If you like to get closer to nature, Dallas has various RV campgrounds and RV parks. Ray Roberts Lake State Park and Vineyards Campground are just some of the places where you can go to explore the wildlife and go biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, and much more. If you are looking for fun, excitement, and attractions, Six Flags Over Texas, Legoland Discovery Center, and Sea Life Aquarium are fantastic places to visit. If you are interested in fairs and local products, the State Fair of Texas gives an extra-large serving of what you are looking for. There are also arts and crafts, games, fundraising events, livestock exhibits, rides, and much more to discover at the fair.       

If you want to start venturing outside of Dallas but not far from it, there are plenty of towns and cities within a 20-mile radius. Grand Prairie, Duncanville, and Farmers Branch are some cities you can check out. Also, some of the nearest towns within this radius are Highland Park, Cockrell Hill, and Hutchins. If you are looking for the nearest major cities to Dallas, Arlington (20.5 miles) and Fort Worth (32.1 miles) are your best bets. If you have the weekend freed up for road tripping, you can check out these nearby towns and cities to have a great start with your road trip. As you build more confidence in taking a road trip, you can venture farther outside of Dallas to Austin, Houston, or El Paso or nearby cities within neighboring states, such as Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, Little Rock in Arkansas, New Orleans in Louisiana, or Albuquerque in New Mexico. After that, a wider expanse and more cities and states in the United States are waiting to be explored.New Mexico

Pack Sufficiently for the Trip

The topic of stuff to bring on a road trip can be subjective and best left to the preference of the traveler. However, one thing that can be agreed on is to have enough essential supplies to last through the whole trip. As a responsible driver, never go on a road trip without a driver’s license, car registration, and insurance. Other must-bring items should include an extra car key, a car manual, a flashlight, and AAA membership or roadside assistance contact numbers. Whether you are packing light or loaded, make sure that you have enough toiletries, toothbrushes, toothpaste, utensils, and zippered plastic bags to name a few. Snacks will also come in handy when hunger strikes while driving far from any convenience store. Make sure to replenish your supplies at the places you stop by before going back on the road.

The More the Merrier

You can go on a solo road trip or with your family, friends, best friend, or special someone. While some people prefer to travel places alone on their road trips, one cannot deny that a road trip is more fun and engaging when you have other people accompany you and share memorable moments of the journey with you. Festivals, rides, attractions, and other activities from the road trip are better enjoyed with more people. Photos and videos are livelier when there is someone other than you included in the snaps or clips. Best of all, having one or more companions helps make your road trip safer. You have someone who will remind you to take a break, take turns in driving, and keep you alert on the trip.

Dallas is a versatile location for starting a road trip. Geographically located in the middle part of the southern United States, the areas to go around from this city are almost endless. The city itself holds scenic treasures and attractions as a great starting point for your road trip. With the tips shared here and your quest for fun and adventure, you are well on your way to having an enjoyable road trip and more road adventures in the future.prada art store texas

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U.S. National Parks: Which Ones to Visit and Why

Grand Canyon Panorama

If you want to explore the national parks of the United States, you have plenty to choose from. There are currently 63 national parks in the country, all of which provide visitors with unique natural wonders to explore and many outdoor activities to enjoy. But the following four US national parks are arguably the best of all.

Glacier National Park

Located in northwestern Montana on the US and Canada border, Glacier National Park covers one million acres and boasts two mountain ranges, including subranges of the Rockies. It’s also home to more than 130 lakes and 1,000 different species of plants, as well as hundreds of animal species, including bighorn sheep, elks, mule deer, coyotes, and cougars, as well as two threatened species: the lynx and the grizzly bear. Glacier National Park is so-called because it contains remnants of glaciers from the ice age.

Cracker Lake

Grand Canyon National Park

Some world-famous places are a bit of a let-down when you see them in person because you’ll have already seen images of them again and again. Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But things work the other way around with the Grand Canyon. Seeing as the Arizona canyon is around 277 miles in length, 18 miles wide, and up to a mile deep, you simply cannot gauge the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon from photos and videos alone. Formed over millions of years via the Colorado River cutting through the rock, the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most incredible natural wonders on the planet. While the South Rim is the most popular area for sightseers, if you want to get away from the crowds, visit the North Rim, where you can walk more secluded trails and camp in the backwoods. There’s plenty to do in the Grand Canyon National Park beyond exploring the red-hue landscape. The top things to do in the Grand Canyon include taking a scenic train ride, rafting down the Colorado River, and taking an amazing helicopter tour over the canyon.which National Parks to visit

Yosemite National Park

If you’re looking for a true wilderness experience, the best US national park to visit is undoubtedly Yosemite in Northern California. The park, which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, is nearly 95% wilderness. Yosemite is world-famous for its beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and sequoia groves full of million-old trees. The national park covers 1,200 square miles, but most visitors stick within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley, where most of the tourist activities are available. If you enjoy rock climbing, you’ll especially enjoy what Yosemite National Park has to offer, but there are plenty of other exciting outdoor activities you can do, such as cycling and rafting, and skiing in the wintertime.

Yosemite

Yellowstone National Park

When Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, it became the first United States national park. In fact, it’s thought to be the very first national park on the planet. With its dramatic mountainous peaks, pristine lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and verdant forests, the park remains one of the most popular national parks in the world. There are even volatile geysers that launch steam without warning, such as the well-known Old Faithful geyser. In addition to the glorious landscape, the park contains an abundance of wildlife, including coyotes, Rocky Mountain wolves, Canadian lynxes, grizzly and black bears, cougars, and much more. The park, which is mostly located in northwest Wyoming but also extends into Montana and Idaho, is also home to the largest herd of bison in the United States. With more than 3,000 miles to explore at Yellowstone and such an abundance of things to see and do, this national park should most definitely be at the top of your list of US national parks to visit.

Bison in Yellowstone

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons. (1) Cracker Lake by Troy Smith; (2) Yellowstone National Park by Naoki Nakashima; (3) Bison in Yellowstone by Pedro Szekely

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The five new best things to do in NYC in 2021

Kusama at NYBG5

I’ve shared the five best NYC attractions for first-time visitors, but what if you’ve been to New York City several times already? In this article, I am featuring five new attractions that I think are worth visiting, including a new observation deck, a fabulous new park, and a couple of temporary pop-ups that you can experience only in 2021.

Here are five new attractions to see in NYC in 2021:

1 The Edge Observation Deck

The Edge is the newest observation deck in New York City, and it is a serious competition for the existing observation decks – the most iconic one, the Empire State Building; Top of the Rocks, and One World Observatory atop the Freedom Tower, which opened in 2015.things to do in NYC in 2021

What makes The Edge a true showstopper is its spectacular architecture: it is the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western hemisphere at a height of 1,130 feet, and  it extends about 80 feet beyond the side of the skyscraper it is attached to (30 Hudson Yards). The Edge opened for the first time just before New York City shut down because of COVID-19, and is finally able to welcome visitors again. You’ll find yourself 100 floors above the streets, and you can enjoy 360-degree views that none of the other observation decks can offer: the New York City skyline seen from the west side of Midtown Manhattan.

The observation deck also features an anxiety-inducing 225-square-foot triangular glass cutout in the floor, and the angled glass walls of the sleek space will impress everyone, no matter if you consider yourself an architecture geek or not. In total, there are 79 glass panels, each one 9-foot high, offering an uninterrupted view over the skyline and giving you the feeling that you are standing right on the edge – a thrilling experience for sure!

Know before you go: You have to book a timed ticket in advance – and I recommend booking your ticket well in advance, since tickets sell out. This goes especially for the time slots around sunset. You can book a skip-the-line ticket here.

2 Yayoi Kusama at the New York Botanical Gardens

Renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was supposed to have an art exhibit in the New York Botanical Gardens in 2020, but because of the global pandemic that brought the world to a halt last year, her long-awaited exhibit had to be postponed. A year delayed, it finally opened in April 2021, and it was definitely worth the wait.

The 92-year old artist, famous for her colorful, dotted sculptures and art installations (infinity rooms in particular), created Cosmic Nature specifically for the New York Botanical Gardens. You’ll find trees wrapped in white-dotted red fabric, over a thousand mirrored stainless steel balls in a lake, a sculpture installed over a reflective pond, and a yet to be opened Infinity Room. You will also see sculptures with names like I Want To Fly To The Universe and My Soul Blooms Forever. The sculptures are randomly scattered throughout the Botanical Gardens, so you’ll stumble across them every once in a while while wandering the grounds.Things to to in NYC in 2021

I felt like I got to kill two birds with one stone when I made my way up to the Bronx to visit “Cosmic Nature” – I got to see new sculptures by an artist I adore, and I got to re-visit the 250-acre Botanical Gardens, which I hadn’t been to in a while. And spring is always a lovely time for that because many flowers are in bloom.

Know before you go: Be aware that the ticket I booked – the KUSAMA All-Garden Pass Ticket – only includes admission to the Botanical Gardens and all the outdoor sculptures. If you want to see the indoor spaces and indoor sculptures, too, you will have to book the combined Gardens & Gallery Pass. Also note that an Infinity Mirrored Room will be added on August 3. Cosmic Nature is on view until 31 October 2021.Yayoi Kusama at NYBG

3 Little Island

Little Island is a new park in the Hudson River, built atop 132 pylons resembling tulips, which make up the structure of the park. The unique setup above the water conveys the impression that Little Island is actually floating in the river. The unique 2.4 acre park has a hilly topography which makes it appear bigger than it actually is, and when you walk up the stairs to the highest point, you can enjoy fantastic views over the Hudson River, New Jersey and Lower Manhattan from a unique vantage point.

The small park includes an amphitheater (holding 687 people) overlooking the Hudson River, offering performances throughout the summer months. There are performances six days per week – you can check the events calendar here. Attending a sunset performance on Little Island is definitely one of the best things to do in NYC in 2021.

If you get hungry, you can grab snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) at three food stalls in the park. Little Island is just around the corner from the Highline Park, so you can combine it with a visit to the Highline and Chelsea Market, or stroll down the Hudson River Greenway.

Know before you go: At the moment, you can visit the park without a ticket before noon, but after 12pm timed tickets are essential in order to avoid overcrowding. The park is open daily from 6am to 1am. You can get your free ticket here.things to do in NYC in 2021

4 The Green at Lincoln Center

The square outside the Lincoln Center, a performance venue on the Upper West Side, is usually a bland concrete space that is not known to be a cool hangout spot. But this has changed now – at least temporarily. The square, officially named Josie Robertson Plaza, was transformed into a large green space in May 2021 and is now called “The Green”.

The 14,000 sq feet plaza has been covered in artificial lawn and is supposed to be enjoyed by New Yorkers as a chillout area. Should you get hungry, there is an empanada stand and a gelato vendor, and in case you get bored, you can enjoy free books from a small library cabinet courtesy of the New York Library.

There are some chairs to sit in, but most people enjoy the “lawn” and lounge on the ground. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to catch one of the many pop-up events and performances that are happening on The Green throughout the summer. I should note, however, that if you’re looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, you may be better of in nearby Central Park, where it is easier to find a quiet corner away from noise and people. When I visited The Green on a sunny spring afternoon, it was packed with families and strollers and the noise level was quite high.

Know before you go: The Green will remain open until September 2021, open daily from 9am till midnight. No tickets needed.

Things to do in NYC in 2021

5 The Vessel

The Vessel is the centerpiece of a brand new neighborhood in Manhattan: Hudson Yards. The development was built over the West Side Yard, an industrial rail storage yard, and now houses several residential towers, a hotel, office buildings, a mall, and a performance venue. In the middle of it all sits the Vessel.

While the Vessel isn’t technically new (it opened in March 2019), it closed in January 2021 after three suicides off the structure in less than one year. It was unclear if the immersive sculpture, which is 150 feet tall and essentially a spiraling staircase with 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, would reopen. There are almost 2,500 steps and 80 landings – but no worries, you can take an elevator all the way to the top if the thought of climbing up 15 flights of stairs scares you (just be prepared to wait in line).The Vessel

The sculpture itself is pretty to look at from the outside – made from shiny copper-clad steel – but immersing yourself in the artwork, i.e. walking up the stairs and seeing it from various angles and heights on the inside is what makes this is a truly memorable experience. Beyond the views of the Vessel itself, climbing to the top also rewards with stunning vistas over parts of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

Know before you go: There is a limited number of free tickets available per day, after these run out, tickets are $10 per person. You have to book your time slot in advance, and you have to be with at least one other person to visit the Vessel (a new measure to prevent more suicides). You can reserve your tickets here.best things to do in NYC in 2021

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The five best tourist attractions in NYC

new york city skyline

Sightseeing in New York City can feel overwhelming – there are just too many things to do! Famous landmarks, tourist attractions, museums and galleries, parks and neighborhoods, and let’s not even get into the city’s food scene. You’d need months to explore the city properly, but let’s face it: Most of us just don’t have the time (or money!) to spend more than a few days in The Big Apple. If you only have a couple of days, what are the must-see tourist attractions in NYC that you cannot miss?NYC attractions Here are five NYC attractions that I think everyone traveling to New York should see – and the best part: most of them are completely free to visit!

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

The Statue Of Liberty is one of the most iconic monuments – not just in New York, but in all of the United States. The famous statue was gifted to the U.S. from the people of France, commemorating Franco-American friendship. When the statue was welcomed to its new permanent home on Liberty Island with a festive ceremony on 28 October 1886, it also celebrated 100 years of America’s independence.

The height from the ground to the tip of her torch is exactly 305 feet and one inch (92.99 meters), Lady Liberty has a 35-foot waistline, and an 879 shoe size! A highlight for many is to visit the statue’s crown, but be warned: to enjoy the epic views from one of the 25 windows inside the crown, you have to walk up 354 steps (that’s the equivalent to TWENTY stories in a building!). You also have to make a reservation way in advance, because tickets for the crown are limited and they sell out quickly.NYC tourist attractions

There are several ways to see the Statue Of Liberty: you can simply go past it on the Staten Island Ferry (which is free) or take a sightseeing cruise. To get up, close and personal with her, you will have to visit Liberty Island (the island on which the statue stands). The island can be reached via ferry from Manhattan, and there is only one company that runs these ferries and is allowed to dock at Liberty Island. The ferry boats all stop at Ellis Island as well, which is where you can visit the Immigration Museum, housed in the former immigration processing station. You can visit the islands with a guided tour or independently (just paying for the ferry). The advantage of a guided tour is that you get insightful commentary on both islands; and learning more about the fascinating history and other facts about the statue makes the visit more meaningful than just wandering around Liberty Island.

The tour I took included a 30-minute tour of the monuments in Battery Park (where the ferry leaves from), an hour on Liberty Island (including a small museum detailing the construction of the Statue) and as much time as we wanted on Ellis Island. The Immigration Museum is quite large and we spent well over an hour learning about how life in America began for the immigrants that arrived on Ellis Islands between 1892 and 1924, when Ellis Island was America’s largest and most active immigration station, processing over 12 million immigrants.

Cost: $49.99 for a guided tour including Liberty Island, Ellis Island and Battery Park.Statue Of Liberty Tour

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is another New York icon – and there’s no better way to truly appreciate this architectural marvel than to walk across it. Standing below the gigantic 278 feet (85 meters) tall Gothic Revival granite towers never fails to impress, and the elevated walkway made of wooden planks makes it easy to imagine how excited people must have been when the bridge opened back in 1883, after nearly 15 years of construction.

NYC Tourist Attractions

Back then, Brooklyn and New York were still separate cities, and the Brooklyn Bridge was the very first bridge to connect the two cities, enabling people to cross the East River on foot or by horse carriage. At the time of opening, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 meters). In total, the Brooklyn Bridge is 6,016 feet (1,834 meters) long, and the pedestrian walkway is about 1.1 miles (1.6 kilometers) long. It takes about 25 minutes to cross the bridge if you don’t stop for photos and walk at a brisk pace, but I suggest you plan in about 45 minutes for the walk so that you can enjoy the stunning vistas and take pictures of this architectural wonder.

On its opening day on 24 May 1883, over 150,300 pedestrians and 1,800 vehicles crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Initially, pedestrians had to pay one penny to cross. These days, around 100,000 cars, 4,000 cyclists and 10,000 pedestrians cross the bridge every day and is completely free to enter – no matter if you’re walking or driving across.

Tip: I recommend walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan, instead of starting in Manhattan, which is what most people do. That way you’ll get the incredible skyline view the entire time, and the Manhattan skyline is definitely more impressive than Brooklyn’s skyline. The closest subway stations to the pedestrian walkway access are High Street (on the A/C), Clark Street (on the 2/3) and Jay Street (on the F line). The pedestrian stairs are located at Washington Street and Prospect Street, right below the Brooklyn Bridge, at the northern corner of Cadman Plaza.

Cost: FREE!brooklyn bridge at night

Central Park

Central Park is one of the best-known city parks in the entire world, and no matter what time of year you’re visiting New York, a walk or bike ride through Central Park should be included in your itinerary. The park, which is the most visited urban park in the U.S., welcoming over 42 million visitors every year, spans 843 acres (3.41 km2). This makes it larger than the country of Monaco! You can spend hours in the park, which offers 58 miles (93 kilometers) of trails, seven bodies of water, and twenty-six baseball fields.NYC attractions

Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux did a fantastic job designing a park that manages to stay remarkably close to nature, incorporating plenty of natural rocks, lakes and ponds, entire forests, waterfalls, lots of green spaces and only one formal garden: Conservatory Garden.   

Tip: Some of the best places to visit in Central Park include Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond, Central Park Lake with the famous Bow Bridge, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, Bethesda Fountain and Bethesda Arcade, and Umpire Rock for great views of the Midtown skyscrapers south of the park.

Cost: FREE, or $10 for a 2-hour bike rental.central park

The Empire State Building

There are several observation decks in New York, but the Empire State Building is without a doubt the most famous one. It was built from 1930 to 1931, finished in less than 14 months, which was considered astonishingly fast at the time. The famous skyscraper is 1,250 feet (380 meters) tall, and if you count the spire and antenna, it measures an impressive 1,454 feet (443 meters). It was the tallest building in the world until it was surpassed in height by the World Trade Center in 1970. It has two observation decks: on the 86th and 102nd floors. It is still the 4th tallest building in New York City, and the 6th tallest in the U.S.. On a clear day, six states are visible from the observation decks: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Delaware.Empire State Building

Tip: If you’d like the Empire State Building to be featured in your New York skyline photos, you may prefer one of the other observation decks. You can read my detailed comparison of the observation decks of the Empire State Building, Top Of The Rocks and One World Observatory in this article: Empire State vs Top Of The Rock vs One World Observatory: What’s the best view of New York City?

Cost: Tickets start at $42NYC attractions

Times Square

Is Times Square touristy? Absolutely! But it is also one of the most famous squares in the world, and you have to see it at least once. Times Square is famous for a reason, after all, and it is hard not to be impressed by all the massive billboards, the lights, and the high rises surrounding the square. Did you know the buildings in Times Square are required by law to have a minimum amount of display lighting?times square new york340,000 people pass through Times Square every day, so if you don’t like crowds, I recommend visiting Times Square later in the evening, when most tourists have gone back to their hotels. If you want to experience Times Square with as few people as possible, head there in the early hours of the morning, just after sunrise, or very late at night – midnight or even later. The best place to take it all in are the Red Steps in Father Duffy Square, a small triangle between Broadway and 7th Ave, between 46th and 47th Streets. Sit down on the steps and marvel at the glitz, the bustle, and the chaos around you – it’s hard not to be awed by the unique energy Times Square has.

Tip: Stay away from all the touristy, mediocre food options in Times Square. For a quick snack, stop at Joe’s Pizza on Broadway (between 40th and 41st Streets), but for a full meal, head over to Hell’s Kitchen. There are plenty of good restaurants on 9th Avenue, between 42nd and 57th Streets.

Cost: FREE!times square billboards new york city

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Fun Ways To Spend Your Time During Your Girls’ Trip To Dallas

dallas

You haven’t done much of anything since the start of the pandemic except work, run a few errands, and lounge around the house. Now that more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccines and states have loosened restrictions, you’re ready to start enjoying life again. What better way to kickstart your summer than to round up your closest girlfriends and head to Dallas for a few days? 

Why Dallas, TX? 

Known as a great destination with something for everyone to enjoy, you guys are sure to have a blast in the capital of Texas. The city’s exciting history, diverse culture, bustling art scene, excellent food, and plenty of outdoor activities ranging from state fairs to music festivals make it the ideal place to reconnect with your friends and have a good time. Not to mention, it’s very budget-friendly compared to other major cities in the country.

What To Do in Dallas

If you’re planning a girl’s getaway to Dallas this summer, here are a few things you might consider exploring while you’re there. 

Grab A Few Drinks

After resting up from your flight into DFW, the best way to start your girl’s getaway is with a few drinks. Hotspots like Blue Goose or Gloria’s are well-known for their margaritas and tequila, but there’s no shortage of bars in Dallas’ diverse neighborhoods. Looking for the young adult hip scene? Check out McKinnley Avenue in Uptown. If you prefer something more laid back, Lower Greenville is the place to visit. 

Share A Meal 

Not interested in painting the town just yet? You can always meet the girls for some good grub and conversation. Whether you’re in the mood for Tex-Mex, barbecue, southern comfort foods, or excellent street food, Dallas has several restaurants to suit your tastebuds. There’s Elaine’s Kitchen which has excellent Jamaican cuisine. HG Supply Co is ideal if you’re into clean eating. If you happen to be planning a trip to Dallas this summer, you might be fortunate enough to attend the Taste of Dallas Food Festival for a variety of meal options.veggie tacos

Get A Makeover

There’s nothing like a makeover to reunite friends. You spend a few hours catching up on each other’s lives while you get the best treatment from some of Dallas’s best beauty and style professionals. You can find the perfect spots for manicures, pedicures, makeup, hair, and lash Dallas area that will give you the transformation of a lifetime. 

Go Shopping

What’s the best way to complete a new makeover? Go shopping for some trendy fashions. If you’re going to go anywhere in Dallas to shop, you must visit the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The area is packed with popular shopping centers like the Neiman and Marcus flagship store, North Park Center, Highland Park, and more. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes as the area has more places to shop per capita than any other city in the country. 

Explore The Arts

Now that you’re all dolled up, why not spend the day exploring Dallas’ art culture? Head downtown to the Dallas Art District and be amazed at the many museums, galleries, and exhibits spanning about 19 city blocks. You’ll find everything from contemporary pieces to outdoor exhibits to pop-up shops and graffiti walls. 

Get Outdoors

You can’t end your girl’s getaway in Dallas without spending some time outdoors. The city is home to some of the most beautiful parks in Texas. While Klyde Warren Park and White Rock Lake are the most popular outdoor spaces, there are several other parks, hiking trails, picnic areas, and more for you guys to take advantage of. 

You’ve been cooped up in the house doing the same thing for more than a year now. It’s time to get back out there and experience the things you’ve missed. Call the girls up and start planning a getaway to Dallas, Texas, this summer. As you can see from the list of activities above, there’s a ton of things for you guys to get into as you reconnect and have a good time.

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Why You Should Mess With Texas and Visit Marfa

Marfa Prada Store

When it comes to traveling to Texas, the sky’s the limit. It’s no wonder, because everything truly is bigger in Texas, including travel adventures. The Lone Star State offers endless opportunities for exploration and pleasurable delights. From sampling unique wines in Wimberley, horseback riding at the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, or “keeping it weird” in Austin…Texas is a full-on showdown destination that is sure to please every traveler’s appetite.

Texas is vast. It is multicultural. It dishes out jaw-dropping natural landscapes and equally impressive hotspots that serve up sass, style, and panache. So with all the expansive possibilities Texas presents, why would you want to visit a tiny town sporting a funky name like Marfa with a population of 1,800? There is no short answer to this question. That’s why this post lays out all the reasons to visit Marfa, Texas (and why you will love every minute of your trip there).

Getting the Lay of the Land in Marfa, Texas

Marfa enjoys sunny scenes and warm, arid conditions. It is situated atop the Chihuahuan Desert plateau in the Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas. Marfa is surrounded by the majestic Davis Mountains and breathtaking Big Bend National Park. The rustic, rocky terrain is peppered with prickly pear cactus and mesquite trees. The totality of the landscape is bold, stark, stunning, and thoroughly wild.the road to Marfa

Multicolored stone, arid breezes, and technicolor sunsets make Marfa a feast for the senses. But be warned, this is a deep desert country. It can get super-hot and dry, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen, lip balm, and vitamin C body cream because you’ll need it to stay moisturized while enjoying the exquisite desert scenery.

Like many tiny towns in Texas, Marfa started out as a watering hole for various commercial railways in the late 1800s. This sleepy little town was mostly cattle ranchers and tumbleweeds until, like a phoenix from the ashes, Marfa rose to reinvent itself into a magnet for artists, foodies, musicians, and celebrities.

Things to do in Marfa, Texas

Art: Today, Marfa is heralded for its thriving art scene. This is just one aspect among many that make Marfa ironic and quirky. In the middle of seemingly nowhere, the art scene in Marfa has attracted international attention and has been a host to celebrities such as Anthony Bordain, Natalie Portman, and Beyoncé Knowles. Marfa owes its artistic dustup to New York native, Donald Judd, a minimalist artist who was so inspired by the enchanting desert beauty of Marfa, he established a solid art community there in the 1970s. Since then, the quiet town has become a mecca to creatives and art enthusiasts around the world.   

Entertainment: From April to November, Marfa kicks up its heels to locals and tourists alike with colorful festivals featuring jam-tastic live music, scrumptious food, and incredible entertainment. Local bars such as the Lost Horse Saloon and Bar Saint George are also venues for eclectic live music, fantastic foodie delights, and bodacious boot-scootin fun.Marfa ArtLights: As if Marfa isn’t enchanting enough with its wild-west charm, sizzling art scene, and awe-inspiring views…it ups its game with a phenomenon known locally as the “Marfa Mystery Lights.”  These are random, eerie spheres of light that grace the desert landscape. Sightings of these spectral lights have been recorded as early as 1883 when a lone cowhand witnessed bedazzling, sparkling lights while herding his cattle home. Since then, there have been many sightings. But there is a caveat. Nobody knows when exactly the lights show up in Marfa. There is no distinct season or weather condition that conjures the illuminations, but that’s part of the intrigue!

Soaring: Get a bird’s eye view of Marfa while coasting cirrus-streaked skies in the seat of a glider! Marfa’s wind conditions and dry air is the perfect storm for gliding and soaring the scenery 2,000 feet in the air. If you’re not a big fan of heights or hanging out in high altitudes in a glider, that’s okay. Glide vicariously by visiting Marfa’s National Soaring Museum which is a goldmine of history and a treasured landmark for the town.

If you get a kick out of quirk and are looking for a walk on the idiosyncratic side of travel, then Marfa is sure to satisfy your taste for the eccentric. The polarizing contrast of the wild west frontier with the contemporary art scene is a merry mix sure to please. Whatever your travel fancy may be, Marfa will surely aim to quench your thirst for an authentically unique travel experience.visit Marfa

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Howe Caverns, New York: The Best Kept Spelunking Secret in the State

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico: A majestic cave experience

When most people think of New York, they may conjure up mental images of towering skyscrapers, bright city lights, or incessant horn-honking taxis. While New York City is certainly a bucket-list-worthy travel destination, there are plenty of other precious travel gems to pluck from the Empire State.

For example, a mere 138 miles from the Big Apple can lead you into a magical subterranean world of caverns, caves, and cool underground cavities just aching for you to explore. This unique and special hot spot known as Howe Caverns is one of the best-kept secrets in New York state and worthy of touring if you find yourself in the area. 

Howe Caverns

The Unusual Legend of the Discovery of Howe Caverns, New York

The distinctive and alluring charm of Howe Caverns begins with its discovery, which happened in 1842.  The caverns are beneath an expanse of land that belonged to a farmer and dairy cow owner by the name of Lester Howe.  Although he is credited for the discovery of the caves buried 156 feet below ground, it was his cow Millicent that deserves the credit for the find.

As the most popular legend goes, Lester Howe started observing peculiar behavior from his favorite cow Millicent and his other dairy cows during a sweltering hot streak of days. His cows began gathering upon a portion of the valley Lester owned east of the Cobleskill region. When he noticed his cows were consistently pasturing around this odd spot in the scorching heat, Lester and his wife Lucinda got curious and started to investigate.

While encroaching closer to the site where the cows convened, they detected a drastic drop in temperature. Apparently, the cows were migrating to this spot because the constant, cool 52-degree breezes wafting from the crevasse in the earth were like nature’s air conditioning for the overheated cows. Upon further investigation, Howe and his wife came upon the source of these cool air emissions that is now known as “Blowing Rock” which is the original opening to the cave.  From that day on, Howe’s curiosity motivated him to explore and uncover one of the most eye-popping caverns located in the Northeast.

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Need-to-Know Tips When Visiting Howe Caverns

Now that you know a bit about the legend of Howe Caverns in New York, let’s dive into ways you can truly enjoy this one-of-a-kind spelunking experience. Here are a few tips for relishing your trip to Schoharie County, NY, and explore all this destination has to offer.

Ways to Get There: As mentioned, Howe Caverns is a scant 138-mile jaunt by car from central NYC. However, why not consider a train ride for the trip? Let Amtrak railways do the driving for you so you can kick back and relax!  Simply pack your spelunking gear and sleep aid products and hitch a rustic, rhythmic train ride to your underground adventure at Howes Cave, New York.

What to Expect: When you roll up to the sprawling beauty of the Howe estate on Discovery Drive (how cool is that?!) you can expect to be met with expansive, emerald green views and bucolic scenes, and that’s just top-side! When you take your tour within the belly of the caverns, you will be dazzled by sunken treasures of gorgeous, statuesque stalactite formations and spacious 60-foot passageways within the caves. The calcite and stone figurations are deftly lit, featuring mind-blowing contortions carved into the subterranean scene. You will be awestruck by the underground majesty in your midst and captured by the beauty this cavernous experience holds for you and/or your family.

What to Do There: You owe it to yourself to take advantage of the variety of tours offered by the Howe Cavern estate. Indulge in the lantern tour in which you are submerged in a winding womb of underground rivers within the caverns illuminated only by the light of a lantern – just as Lester Howe did back in the 1800s!  This is a guided tour that is certain to enchant your vacation memories for years to come. Howe Caverns also offers other excursions such as walking tours, social events, and they even have an immersive escape room experience for the more entertainment-focused tourist.

Closing Thoughts About Howe Caverns as Your Next Best Travel Destination

While it’s true, spelunking (cave exploring) might not be everybody’s slice of pie, Howe Caverns is special in that it offers a user-friendly way to experience caves in a low-stress, magical way that will leave an impression on you and your travel companions for years to come.  Howe Caverns is sure to satiate your craving for a remarkable travel adventure that is off the beaten path in New York state.

Howe Cavern Lodge

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Howe Caverns by Scott Johnson; (2) Howe Caverns by Joe Pitha;Howe Caverns Lodge by Neil R

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Planning Your Visit to Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville Monticello

With most international travel still on hold unless deemed essential, many of us will be traveling closer to our backyards this summer. If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic area, one place you must check out in Charlottesville, Virginia. This idyllic small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains has so much to offer and see, so pack your hiking bag, your most relaxing essential oil blends for the car ride, and your taste for fine craft brews and local wines; and let’s plan a tranquil trip!

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Charlottesville is known for its beautiful scenery and Thomas Jefferson. So take in both of those with a guided tour of Monticello. You get an intimate view into the life of one of America’s most important founding fathers. Not to mention learning more about his many famous friends and other fellow presidents. Spring and Summer are by far the best times to visit Monticello to get a look at the property’s awe-inspiring grounds and gardens. Jefferson imported many species of trees and flowers to the area, and they are even available for purchase to bring home to your yard.

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Michie Tavern

Michie Tavern is just half a mile down the road from Monticello and has been since 1784. Lunch is served daily at the tavern from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Servers are dressed in period attire, making it the perfect footnote to your experience at Monticello. There’s also a grouping of four unique shops on the grounds that are perfect for finding that specific Virginia souvenir for you or a loved one.

Local Breweries & Wineries

Charlottesville, Virginia is home to dozens of craft breweries and wineries. They’re stapled hangouts for locals, and at most, you can always catch live music as well. The sun setting across the Blue Ridge Mountains as you enjoy expertly crafted beer is about as relaxing as you can get. Some notable wineries in the area are Pippin Hill Farm Vineyard, Well Hung Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, and Jefferson Vineyards. If breweries are more your speed, you have to check out Three Notch’d, Champion, Rockfish, or Starr Hill. Starr Hill is right off the historic Downtown Mall and a must-visit.Charlottesville Virginia

The Downtown Mall

Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall is one of the longest pedestrian malls in the United States at around eight blocks! In the summer, at the end of the mall by the amphitheater, it hosts Fridays After Five – a weekly concert series – and many locals can tell you all about watching The Dave Matthews Band perform there. The mall features over 120 shops and 30 restaurants, most of which feature outdoor cafes. You’re sure to find something for everyone down there! There’s also the newly renovated Paramount Theater and the historic Jefferson Theater. The charming brick walkway that extends the mall’s length is full of local vendors year-round and in the warmer months, all types of local artisans and performers. There’s convenient access to the Trolley, which can take you effortlessly to the grounds of the University of Virginia. 

University of Virginia

When Thomas Jefferson was seeking to reinvent higher education, he conceived of the University of Virginia. A school where students and teachers could learn from one another. The result was the Academical Village. When you visit the UVA grounds, you will see the famous “Lawn” where students and teachers lived in single rooms. The end of the lawn culminates in an architectural masterpiece – The Rotunda – a renowned library. You can take in more breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains suggestive of the yet discovered intellectual frontiers at the foot of the lawn. The grouping of shops and restaurants on the edge of the UVA grounds is known as The Corner, and you must explore the side streets, which are home to unique used bookstores and more cafes.

Antiquing at its Finest

Charlottesville is also home to many antique stores that can fit any budget. You can spend an entire weekend alone going to all of the antique stores in and around town. From luxury heirlooms to quirky vintage pieces, you can find them in Charlottesville. Some must-visits would be Oyster House Antiques, Patina Antiques, A & W, and of course Circa. 

Charlottesville VirginiaOne last thing about Charlottesville (and one of the best) is its proximity to several other destinations. So if you’re planning a road trip, it’s an hour away from historic Richmond, Virginia, two hours from Washington D.C., and only three hours away from Virginia Beach. It should be a destination that you book this summer if you’re traveling closer to home.

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. Monticello by Brent Wiese

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Six Amazing Places to Visit in Florida

Paradise

Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States – for good reason! The Sunshine State entices with over a thousand miles of coastline, hundreds of stunning beaches, incredible scenery ranging from tropical forests to the swamplands of the Everglades. In this article, I want to share some of the most amazing places to visit in Florida that are NOT Miami or Orlando or the Keys. I want to share a few places that are worth a visit but don’t as much attention as places like Hollywood or Fort Myers. If you want to visit Florida but don’t know where to go in Florida, this article is for you.

Four amazing places to visit in Florida

Destin

Destin is a city located in northwest Florida in the panhandle region, a strip of land roughly 200 miles long. The travel gurus at DestinFlorida.com tell us it’s famed for its white, sandy, Gulf of Mexico beaches that boast incredible beauty. There is also a large number of impressive golf courses, and the Destin Harbour Boardwalk – a bustling destination filled with bars, restaurants, shops, and other tourist attractions. Stunning nature trails make their way effortlessly through the dunes of Henderson Beach State Park located in the south, a place where the coastline is decorated with impressive pine and oak trees that offer local wildlife a much-loved home. 

The Big Kahuna water park is situated to the west, a place that offers fun for all the family. With over forty water attractions, you and the kids will always find something to throw yourself into. Not only this, the park offers several thrill rides and a miniature golf course. Destin’s seafront impresses with its emerald waters alongside incredible tourist attractions, filled with hungry fish – giving it the nickname “the world’s luckiest fishing village.”where to go in Florida

Daytona Beach 

If you’re into motorsport, then you’ve most definitely heard of the Daytona International Speedway & the Motorsports Hall of Fame. It’s one of the cities proudest attractions and is sure to give any petrol head goosebumps. Daytona isn’t all motorsport, though. 

Daytona Beach is famed for endless activities, adrenaline-fueled spectator sports, and incredible shopping culture. The beach spans 23 miles of uninterrupted, luscious golden sands for everyone to enjoy making it one of the best places to visit in Florida – not just for motorsport enthusiasts! Parts of the beach are reserved exclusively for beachgoers, whereas other areas are cordoned off for exclusive driving experiences. Something is going on all the time at Daytona Beach, which gives it the nickname “the festival capital of Florida.” Events include Daytona Blues Festival, the Summer Concert Series, and BikeWeek. 

best places to visit in Florida

The Palm Beaches 

Stacked with cash? Want to see how the other half live? Fancy seeing where some of your favorite TV shows are set? Look no further than Palm Beach. It’s realistically a playground for the rich, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have huge amounts of fun there too. It’s made from 15 unique districts, 47 miles of coastline, and 29 different beach parks. The pièce de résistance, however, is West Palm Beach – one of the most exclusive places in all of Florida. 

Famed for beautiful waterfront neighborhoods, incredible mansions, and luxury resorts, West Palm Beach is the place to go for your dose of indulgence. While in Palm Beach, you have to visit and explore Worth Avenue. A shopping mecca filled with designed stores and beautiful boutiques. Visit for an incredible shopping experience, a window shop extravaganza, or even a cup of coffee to watch the world go by. 

best places to visit in Florida

Fort Lauderdale 

For those that love water, Fort Lauderdale is the place to be. Dubbed “the Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale has over 300 miles of inland waterways connecting to the oceanfront. The calming canals meander through the city, giving it an experience like no other. The waterways are used as a way of life for travel and even business and should be explored (best by boat) if you’re stopping in Fort Lauderdale.

Get a water taxi to the mall or just enjoy a slow, peaceful, gondola ride. Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of coastline, the majority of which has the impressive title of “Blue Wave Certified,” meaning they are some of the cleanest in the State. Sea turtles are a common sight, which makes Fort Lauderdale one of the best places to visit in Florida for nature lovers. 

 

Florida is an incredible place, filled with impressive cities, towns, and quaint neighborhoods. The Gold Coast is a bonus for what the rest has to offer, but if you’re looking for some of the most beautiful, culture-defining beaches on the East Coast, then look no further than here. Some of the world’s most famous beaches are here, and you’re sure to have an incredible time no matter which you choose. Where first?  

where to go in Florida

Photo Credit: Daytona Beach bikes by Driver Photographer; West Palm Beach skyline by Kim Seng; Fort Lauderdale Beach by Daniel Dudek. Images used via Flickr.com’s Creative Commons Licensing.

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Four unusual places to visit in Montana

Montana

As the global pandemic 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! I want to introduce you to some of the best places to visit in Montana that you may not have heard of – places that aren’t National Parks or well-known towns. Read on for things to do in Montana that aren’t hiking in Glacier National Park or fishing in Flathead Lake.

Four unusual places to visit in Montana

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. Exploring ghost towns is a great thing to do in Montana for photographers and for people who aren’t into hiking.Montana adventure

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. Just off the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, (near Cardwell) where you can visit stunning caverns and enjoy ten miles of hiking trails.best places to visit in Montana

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

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 Buddhas 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. This is one of the best places to visit in Montana because you just wouldn’t expect anything like it in Big Sky Country!

You can visit the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas on your way from Missoula to Glacier National Park, it’s located off the U.S. 93 near Arlee. best places to visit in Montana

Glamping in Montana

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 (just over thirty minutes east of Missoula), offer a number of glamping accommodation styles and dozens of on-site activities and adventures in Montana for all energy levels. Glamping is very different from your regular camping trip – in fact, many glamping resorts offer gorgeous cabins and all-inclusive meals. From hiking and horseback riding to lake excursions and rappelling, experience the state’s most epic adventures all in one place. Glamping or camping is one of the things to do in Montana that you shouldn’t miss out on – it’s such an amazing experience to spend the night under these wide open star-filled skies.

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

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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