Things to Do in Gulf Shores, Alabama & the Florida Panhandle

Our 2021 Christmas Beach Vacation For the second year in a row, John and I took a Christmas trip to a beachy destination that I'd never been before. In 2020, it was coastal Georgia—St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island to be exact. It's a beautiful area with stunning beaches; however, being on the Atlantic Ocean, …

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Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: Two National Parks in Two Days

Is it possible or even practical to visit both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park in just two days? Yes. Absolutely it is. But let me amend that by saying I would only recommend attempting both parks in two days during off season months, like April, September, or October. Why? Far less traffic and people …

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Grotto Falls Hike and Brushy Mountain

Grotto Falls is pretty popular. First, it’s the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind. Bam. Instant appeal. Second, it’s a short hike. Only 1.4 miles from the Trillium Gap trailhead to the falls. Minimal effort for maximum beauty. Ironically, Grotto Falls’ popularity and the short trek to …

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Ramsey Cascades Trail: Smoky Mountain Waterfall Hike

Welp. I found my sweet spot. My hiking sweet spot, that is. And I don’t mean location. I’m talking distance. After nearly two months of life in Tennessee – hiking lotsa trails of various lengths – I’ve discovered that 8-mile hikes are juuuuuuust right, in that Goldie Locks-esque sort of way. Don’t get me wrong. …

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6 Reasons Why Chicago is My Favorite City

It started with a field trip in elementary school. Don’t remember which grade. Can’t say for certain what we visited. (Most likely that big ol’ Museum of Science and Industry.) What I do know? We took a bus to downtown Chicago and little girl me was IN AWE. Now, I’d been to Chicago as a …

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Best Beach in America: Siesta Key Beach

Once again, Sarasota's Siesta Beach claims top billing as the #1 beach in America – so say Dr. Beach and TripAdvisor users via the Travelers' Choice Awards. Having lived just 14 miles from Siesta, I feel justified in giving my honest and humble opinion of this ranking. Is Siesta my favorite beach? Truthfully, no—but not because I don’t …

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Blowing Rocks Preserve at Sunrise

The other night, I never went to bed. Instead, I went to Blowing Rocks. The first time I saw a photo of Blowing Rocks Preserve, I added it to my bucket list. And, funny thing. Once I did, I started noticing more and more Instagram photos of this rocky, limestone beach—many taken at dawn, given …

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Things (I Want) to Do in the Florida Keys

How soon can I go back to the Keys?? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since my inaugural trip two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve also compiled a special Florida Keys bucket list to help me plan my next visit to that southernmost paradise. It’s definitely doable, but highly ambitious, so I may need …

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A Weekend Itinerary for the Florida Keys

Can you believe it took me 3 ½ years of living in Florida to finally experience the Florida Keys?? And I call myself an adventurer. That’s messed up, right?! Messed up, but true. It took a visit from my sister (Danae) and brother-in-law (Jacob) to motivate me to cross the Keys off my bucket list. …

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