Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

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What an amazing experience, exploring Washington DC for the first time. The city surprised me in so many ways, and I wondered why I waited so long to visit. My grandson Dayan moved to DC last summer, for post graduate studies, and for work. Dayan living there prompted me to travel to DC so I could not only see my grandson but see the city through his eyes.

There are SO many fun things to do in Washington DC, and most of those activities are free.

Haven’t been to DC yet either? Use my experiences as a guide. Been to DC already? Share your favorite things to do in the city, in the comments.
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC pinnable title

List of Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

For reference, I spent four days and three nights in DC, at the fabulous citizenM Hotel located a couple of blocks from the National Mall. A nearby Metro station made getting around the city easy. And, DC is very walkable if you don’t mind walking a LOT. I’d suggest comfortable, sturdy walking shoes.

I experienced rain every day of my visit. That didn’t stop Dayan and me from exploring all day long with the help of rain jackets and an umbrella.

Here’s a list of fun things to do, while visiting the nation’s capital.

Tour The Capitol Building

The United States Capitol, typically called The Capitol or The Capitol Building, is the seat of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall, on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River. From The Capitol you can look west and see the Washington Memorial 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial, 2.2 miles away. These three structures line up on the National Mall.

The Capitol is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate. As the country and city grew, so did The Capitol. Building began in 1793 and the first congress met there in 1800. Currently the building contains over 1.5 million square feet, 600+ rooms and miles of corridors. The structure is crowned by the magnificent white dome and is an iconic symbol of the US and her people.

You can participate in a paid tour of The Capitol. Only visitors with advance tour reservations may enter the building. Check out tour info HERE.

Dayan and I toured The Capitol Building shortly after my arrival in DC. The 1 1/2 hour tour begins with a 30 minute film about the construction of The Capitol and its purpose. I felt SO moved during the film. It brought home to me the importance of this historic building and also of the city itself. It’s one place…for many people…for ALL people. Inscribed in the rotunda is the Latin phrase, “E Pluribus Unum”, from the many, one. One government, representing all.

We loved this fascinating tour and learned so much.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC dayan
I not only enjoyed the tour of The Capitol, I enjoyed watching my grandson’s delight.

Explore The National Mall

Nicknamed “America’s Front Yard”, the National Mall is where the country’s most iconic memorials, museums and statues are found. You can participate in guided tours of the Mall, or walk the area yourself. The space stretches from The Capitol Building to the Tidal Basin area beyond the Lincoln Memorial to the White House on the north side. It is flanked by the Smithsonian Museums.

A 5 mile loop around the Mall takes approximately an hour and a half to walk. You can easily spend days exploring in just this area, visiting memorials and museums.

Dayan and I wandered around this area on all four days, popping into museums and art galleries, to escape the rain, and visiting monuments and memorials. Seeing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, after reading about them and seeing photos of them my whole life, was an emotional experience for me.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC national mall
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – National Mall

Discover Monuments and Memorials

While exploring the National Mall, stop at the many, many monuments and memorials.

The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are the most well known however there are more than 100 structures in the area. These monuments and memorials honor America’s forefathers and heroes and tell stories about our history.

Places to visit include Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War I and World War II Memorials, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Albert Einstein Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, African American Civil War Memorial and DC War Memorial.

There are many other sites set up in memory of a person or group. Part of the fun is finding them.

The Lincoln Memorial
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Lincoln Memorial

Visit the Smithsonian Museums

DC can boast that it has the world’s largest museum complex!

Around and near the National Mall, 16 Smithsonian Museums offer exhibits that range from art to science to history. The National Zoo is included as a Smithsonian site as well. All Smithsonian Museums are, amazingly, free to enter. Some do require a timed entry. You can reserve your pass online.

Smithsonian Museums include:

  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Arts & Industries Building
  • Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
  • National Air & Space Museum
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Institute Castle
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of Asian Art
  • Smithsonian National Zoo
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Portrait Gallery & Smithsonian American Art
  • Smithsonian Gardens
  • National Postal Museum

Among the museums, the National Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaur bones, sea life exhibits and rock and mineral section, is the most popular. It ranked first, with almost a million visits in 2021, with the National Zoo a close second.

Dayan and I enjoyed visiting several of these museums, including Natural History, the Portrait Gallery, American Art and American History. We also visited the National Gallery of Art, which is not a Smithsonian Museum. However, it is worth a visit as well, for its amazing works of classic art.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Smithsonian Museums

Walk Through the United States Botanic Garden

In the middle of the city lies a beautiful garden. This is the United States Botanic Garden, established 200 years ago. It too is free to enter.

The US Botanic Garden offers uniquely beautiful exhibits that not only delight but inspire us to become better stewards of the plants on the earth.

You can wander through outdoor exhibits that include vegetable gardens, flower gardens, sculptures, fountains and seasonal displays.

Indoors, in the conservatories, stroll through world regions that include desert, tropical, subtropical and Jurassic. There’s a medicinal garden, orchids and endangered plants.

I love to visit botanical gardens in every city and country that I visit. This one was magical!

United States Botanic Garden
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – US Botanic Garden

Take a Photo of the White House

At the northern edge of the National Mall, on Pennsylvania Avenue, sits the beautiful White House. This magnificent structure has housed every US president, since John Adams in 1800.

Did you know that the White House is modeled on Leinster House in Dublin? Irish born architect James Hoban intentionally created the neoclassical structure based on the Irish Legislature building.

The West Wing was added in 1901, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Eight years later President William Taft added the Oval Office. And the East Wing was completed in 1946. The executive residence includes six stories, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

Tours of the White House are free, however, you must contact your representative to make a request. Submit requests at least 21 days in advance or up to 3 months before your visit. There are a limited number of visitors allowed.

I didn’t discover the 21 days in advance rule in time to request a tour. However, Dayan and I explored nearby Lafayette Square and took photos of the White House.

The White House
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – take a photo of the White House

Enjoy the Views from the Old Post Office Clock Tower

What a wonderful way to get a different perspective of the city!

The Old Post Office, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, is a National Historic Site. Completed in 1899, this post office replaced an earlier general post office building from 1839. The clock tower is the third tallest structure in DC.

It ceased existence as a post office in 1914 at the beginning of WWI. After avoiding demolition for many years, retail space, a food court and a roof skylight over a central atrium brought new life to the old structure. The building operated for four years as a luxury hotel before reopening this year as the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

The 315 foot high clock tower houses the “Bells of Congress” and on its observation level, offers panoramic views of the city. Entrance is free.

Dayan suggested this site, and I admit giddy relief when he told me there’s an elevator to the observation deck! The wind was brisk and cold but what amazing views over the city! The final photo in this post shows just how beautiful those views are.

Old Post Office Clock Tower
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – the Old Post Office Clock Tower

Walk Around the City

Besides the National Mall, there’s much to explore in the city, such as charming neighborhoods, museums like the International Spy Museum, historic spots like Ford’s Theatre, restaurants that specialize in brunch, cool coffee shops, gardens and stunning architecture.

In spite of the rain, I spent Monday afternoon walking in downtown DC, after one last lunch with my grandson. I “gwalked”…walked and gawked at the same time! DC is a gorgeous city, clean and friendly with lots of green space. I loved everything about it and simply enjoyed being there.

Ford Theatre
See what you can find, as you walk the city!

Take a Tour

There are many tours available in DC, from historic ones to memorial tours to ghost walks. The city offers bike tours, bus tours, walking tours or you can explore by moonlight in a trolley.

I spent the remainder of my last afternoon in DC on a 90 minute bus tour. It got me out of the chilly rain, which was quite heavy by then, and I appreciated the stories the tour guide shared. We stopped at the Lincoln Memorial and I snapped additional photos.

I love experiencing ghost tours in the cities I travel to. This time, however, Dayan and I created our own walking ghost tour, stopping at haunted locations in the city to take photos. Check out my post, Ghost Stories from Washington DC.

Take a tour of the city
Take a fun tour of the city.

Have you visited DC?

My four days in DC flew by! There’s so much to do and see that I need another trip there. I believe I could visit DC yearly and never run out of experiences to enjoy. Let these fun things to do in Washington DC give you a starting point.

Have you visited DC? What experiences did you most enjoy? Add to my list by posting your recommendations in the comments below!

View from the top
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – clock tower view

 

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citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On my recent trip to Washington DC, finding the right accommodations landed high on my list.

I’m drawn to unique, fun properties. Location is important of course, as I’m usually on foot. And eco-friendliness is a huge factor as well.

As I sorted through possibilities, one hotel stood out to me as it checked all my boxes. Location…perfect. Eco-friendliness…outstanding. And uniqueness…through the roof!

I’m excited to share citizenM Hotel with you, the Washington DC Capitol location.

citizenM Hotel title

The Story Behind citizenM Hotel

The citizenM hotel franchise opened its first hotel in Amsterdam, in 2008, with a big mission: to become the leading transformational hotel inspiring a new generation of modern travelers in the big cities in the world by offering an affordable luxury lifestyle.

They are a new breed of boutique hotel that disrupts the traditional models by eliminating the frustrations travelers shared and offering a luxury experience in central city locations for an affordable price.

This hybrid hotel isn’t just a place to sleep, but a place to work, relax, and play. It’s a place to meet like-minded people and get inspired. citizenM feels like home the moment you walk through the door with its free Wi-Fi, comfortable furniture, and an extremely comfy bed to crash in at the end of a long day exploring.

They call themselves the brand with attitude…playful, cheeky, fun, outrageous. It’s a hotel brand that connects to the young at heart, no matter the actual age. They are proudly colorful, confident and artsy. And the hotels encourage guests to gather outside the cozy rooms in bright common areas, work spaces and meeting rooms.

citizenM Name

According to citizenM, mobile citizens cross continents as easily as they cross streets. They appreciate more than chocolates on pillows. And they mix and match their choices from clothing styles to travel modes.

citizenM is named for these mobile citizens. Every decision they make for their hotels is based on the needs of these travelers.

Currently the company operates 20 hotels in Europe, Asia and the US, with 18 new hotels in development, globally.

citizenM Hotel gathering area
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – one of the inviting living rooms in my hotel

Why I Love citizenM

Washington DC offers two citizenM Hotels. I chose the Washington DC Capitol location, due to its proximity to the National Mall with its monuments and museums and the Metro system. Once I downloaded their cool and easy to use app, I made my reservation through it and looked forward to experiencing their uniqueness.

I was not disappointed!

Here’s what I love about citizenM, in no particular order.

Quick Contactless Check in

Using the app, I checked in as I arrived at the hotel, located at 550 School Street SW, Washington DC. I paid on the app too, as I walked into the lobby. From there I simply picked up an electronic key to my room and chatted for a moment with the friendly ambassador, available to offer aid and answer questions. Because I arrived hours before check in time, they kindly stowed my carry on so I could head out with my grandson to explore the city.

Check in is SO quick and easy. For those who do not have the app, computers are set up for self check in.

When I left I checked out online and dropped off my key.

Common Areas and 24/7 canteenM

Before going to my room, I wandered around downstairs. I loved the bright, inviting common areas, the table with a bank of computers and all the amazing art.

canteenM is a kitchen/cafe, open 24/7, for drinks and food. I could fill my water container here, eat breakfast from the buffet, grab a late night drink or snack or have a cup of tea.

cloudM is the rooftop bar, however, with the steady rain during the four days I visited DC, this open air space remained closed.

The mezzanine features meeting rooms and a gym.

citizenM Hotel mezzanine
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – meeting rooms, restrooms and gym on the mezzanine level, overlooking canteenM below

Green Hotel Practices

Eco-friendliness is SO crucial to me. citizenM is kind to the planet with a focus on building and operating healthier, greener hotels. They promote water conservation with water bottle filling stations on site, have a “no single use plastics” policy, provide on site recycling, contribute to local charities and organizations and offer choices on housekeeping.

I chose the option of no housekeeping in my room while I was there. I choose that option in every hotel I stay in. However, citizenM takes that choice one step farther. They donate $3 or 3 euros to charity, when a guest stays 2 or more nights and chooses the “no cleaning” option.

The LED lights automatically turn off when guests leave the room. A light automatically turns on at dusk, in my hotel at least, so that you never walk into a dark room. And all rooms have individually controlled heat/air so that only occupied rooms use energy.

They partner with the TooGoodToGo app to sell breakfast buffet leftovers that would otherwise go to waste.

Read more about citizenM green practices HERE.

canteenM
canteenM with the friendliest staff

The citizenM Room

All rooms at citizenM are the same, designed for one or two adults, with a single extra large king size bed.

This hotel likes to boast about their comfy beds…with the fluffiest pillows and snuggliest duvet comforters…and it’s true. I LOVE the big oversized bed, positioned next to the huge window for great city views. After a day of walking and exploring, it was pure bliss to crawl into that bed. I slept soundly and deeply.

Fun fact: my bed was sprinkled with red balloons when I arrived.

Under the bed storage bins provide ample room to stash gadgets, shoes, luggage or a laptop. There’s also a safe in one of the drawers.

Besides the comfiest bed, what else do I love about about the room?

iPad Controlled

This is fun. The whole room is controlled by an iPad. Lights, the window shades, the television and room temperature, all controlled via the iPad screen. There are mood lights in the sleek bathroom that change colors, lights that brighten or dim or lots of entertainment on the big screen tv on the wall at the foot of the bed.

You can also find traditional light switches on the wall.

I found the iPad easy to use and loved the convenience of changing lighting, tv channels and room temperature from the bed.

citizenM Hotel howdy
citizenM Hotel – a greeting from the iPad in the room

Recycling Bin in Room

The multifunctional counter with sink, storage, refrigerator and lighted vanity mirror also contained a recycling bin. That’s a first for me and I used it for paper disposal.

Multifunctional counter
Multifunctional counter that includes recycling bin

Sleek Bathroom

The room makes the absolute best use of space. The sink is outside the bathroom area while the shower and toilet are enclosed. The walls are opaque. There is a privacy curtain guests can use if desired, to separate the bed area from the bathroom.

You can change the lighting color over the shower, which offers nighttime and daytime shower gels/shampoo and an amazing shower head.

citizenM Hotel mood lighting
citizenM Hotel – mood lighting in the bathroom

Desk with Charging Stations

Next to the bed is a desk and chair. The iPad has a charging dock here plus there are built in charging plugs on the wall above the desk. It’s so convenient to plug in my phone at night.

Desk with charging stations
Desk with charging stations

Window Shades

The large window next to the bed offers wonderful city views. During the day, I could raise the shades to let light in. Or I could lower the thin shade that still allowed light to come into the room while providing privacy. And then there’s the room darkening shade, for sleeping.

Every morning, lying in bed, I’d use the iPad to raise the darkening shade and then the privacy shade and welcome in the new day. What a beautiful ritual that became.

citizenM Hotel shades
Good morning DC!

I’m a citizenM Fan

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol. Everything about this place enchanted me, including the cheerful, helpful staff.

And yeah, I know it won’t be everyone’s preference. citizenM is colorful, playful, bold, progressive, untraditional and outrageous. I believe it’s the hotel of the future, here now in the present. It’s a place where travelers feel understood and acknowledged and encouraged to keep following their hearts as they explore.

I appreciate everything that this hotel franchise offers and the changes they are making in the world.

I’m a citizenM fan, so much so that I’d love to visit ALL of their hotels around the globe. They happen to have hotels in most of the cities on my travel list.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. It’s fate. And it’s a big goal, to make this desire a reality.

Have you stayed in a citizenM Hotel? Which one? And if you haven’t, would you stay here? Ask me your questions.

Click this LINK to see citizenM Hotel locations and book a room.

Matching the lobby
Citizen Cindy, in the lobby and accidently matching the decor.

Watch for more posts from my time in DC. And check out this one on Haunted DC.

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Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

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My sister and her family are Halloween party planners, extraordinaire. They create the most amazing themed parties each year…when COVID (2020) or a move to a new house (2021) don’t cancel the highly anticipated event.

Check out the 2018 and 2019 Halloween Parties…more themed parties available by clicking links at the bottom of those two posts…and prepare to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, for a voyage into spookiness.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship title

The Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

This year’s theme included a backstory, cleverly posted as newspaper headlines on the walls. My niece Ashley makes full use of her incredible graphic design abilities.

Reading the headlines from various national newspapers reveal that the MS Antonia Graza never arrived at her destination, after embarking on her maiden voyage October 29, 1922. All on board, 600 passengers and 500 crew, are listed as missing. Initial rescue efforts fail to locate the Antonia Graza.

Eventual sightings of the vessel lead to recovery crews boarding the ship, which appears operational although no sign of the passengers or crew are reported. Rescue efforts halt when the recovery crews fail to return.

The Antonia Graza roams the seas for 100 years, all lives…including those of the rescue crews….presumed lost. In 2022, the Antonia Graza is sighted once again, cruising along on her original route in the North Atlantic.

We each received electronic invitations to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, if we dared!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship staircase
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – grand staircase

Tour the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

Come on a tour of the ghost ship with me. My sister Debbie and her family transformed the lower level of the house and the upstairs hallway and bathroom.

The attention to detail is perfect. Using estate sale and thrift shops finds, these creative souls go way beyond adding a few ship worthy decorations. They paper the walls, creating areas of exposed “brick”, add seaweed and cobwebs, add sound and light special effects, remove existing furniture, build false walls and prepare a spread of theme appropriate food. Lights flicker. Red alerts sound. Fog roils past the front door. In costume violinists perform a hauntingly beautiful song in the dining hall.

Guests arrive in costume, ranging from 1920s aristocrats to “dead” crew members to sharks to passengers who perished aboard the ship.

Have a look!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship buffet
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – buffet spread out over three rooms.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship dining
Ship dining room (in reality, this is the family room) for gathering with plates of food and drinks.
Ghost Violinists
Ghost violinists
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship elevator
Upstairs an elevator malfunction! I love the little touches, like numbers on the doors.
Upstairs bathroom
Upstairs bathroom
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship quiet moment
My sister Debbie enjoying a quiet moment in the ship lounge.
Ship clock
Ship clock

Antonia Graza Passengers and Crew

Here’s a peek at the creative costumes of those attending the party.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew, my sister and her family, hosts for the party.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sharks
Baby Shark with Mommy Shark and Daddy Shark
My brother and sister in law
My brother and sister in law.
Cousins photo
Adult cousins photo. The outdoor deck provided a great gathering spot.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship greg and roy
Greg and Roy. Perhaps they are members of the rescue crew.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sibling photo
Sibling photo – me, my brother and my sisters

Fun Evening

What an amazing voyage, aboard the Antonia Graza. I captured photos of most family members, however there were many more guests that came and went.

We all enjoyed the evening, the food, the music, the decorations and chatting in groups that formed, broke apart and reformed with new people.

I so appreciate all the hard work that goes into this annual event. I absolutely know that my sister and her family could create a successful business around their creativity and their love of Halloween. They currently do all of this for fun. And fun it is.

Does your family celebrate Halloween? If you had a Halloween party this year, what was your theme?

Me and my girls
Me with daughters and granddaughter, We missed my son and his family at the party!

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Dine and Dash

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Thank you to The Adventure Challenge, for sending me The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition Book for review purposes and to use for my Year of Adventure. All opinions are my own.

I seem to be on a food arc, with The Adventure Challenge activities! Last month I randomly chose Homegrown, and enjoyed a trip to the farmers market where I selected fresh produce for my evening meal.

This month, opening a page at random, closing my eyes and picking an activity, I chose adventure #34, Dine and Dash.

That title gave me a moment’s pause, as “dine and dash” is a form of theft in which a diner orders and consumes food at a restaurant and then leaves without paying for the meal. No worries! The Adventure Challenge does NOT encourage lawlessness.

Check out this month’s challenge and see what it was all about!

Dine and Dash title meme

The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition

The Adventure Challenge books contain scratch off adventures, suitable for adults, families and individuals. Each hardbound book contain 50 fun and unique challenges to experience with a partner, spouse, friends, family members or on your own.

The challenges encourage you to get off your phone and electrical devices and connect with each other…or more deeply with yourself. They are the perfect way to explore your city or the great outdoors, try something new, reconnect with your inner child or make new friends.

The keepsake book makes it easy to document the memories, with snapshots and a few words about the experience.

There’s a catch though. The challenges are hidden. You don’t know what the activity is, until you scratch it off. If you’ve followed me for very long, you KNOW I love playing games built around randomness. The Adventure Challenge books are like the games I play where I draw random slips of paper out of a jar and do the activity I select. There are no “do overs”, in those fun games I make up, or in The Adventure Challenge.

Dine and Dash

The instructions for Challenge #34:

“Tonight you dine like royalty! You’re gonna order an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert.

The only rule is, you can’t eat any of them from the same restaurant. Three different courses, three different restaurants, one tasty night.”

This activity is fun…and there’s no not paying for meals!

During one of my birthday celebrations this past year, I did a similar activity and enjoyed it. As one who eats plant based, choosing restaurants is the challenge, however I knew exactly which ones to visit for this activity.

Dining at three different restaurants takes time as well. The activity suggested allowing 2 – 3 hours. So Greg and I selected a late afternoon to begin the dine and dash challenge, allowing plenty of time to eat and drive.

Dine and Dash first course
Dine and Dash – first course at Panera.

Dining and Dashing

We started our dining and dashing at Panera.

First Course

Rather than appetizers, our first course consisted of an Asian salad for me and a bowl of soup for Greg, with water to drink. Knowing our next stop was for the main course, we both selected the half portion sizes for our first course.

A huge benefit of this activity is eating slowly and enjoying the food before hopping in the car and driving to the next restaurant. Dining and dashing doesn’t mean wolfing down food as quickly as possible. It’s an experience to linger over.

Second Course

We felt ready for the main course when we arrived at Cracker Barrel, located five miles away.

Here Greg ordered one piece of fish and veggies, while I dined on the Cracker Barrel vegetable plate. I selected four plain veggies…baked potato with no butter or sour cream, green beans, carrots and broccoli.

Again, we ate slowly, savoring the food. And knowing dessert was still to come, I elected to take half of my main course home.

Third Course

Dessert out is difficult for me. Not only do I eat plant based, but I try to avoid gluten and too much sugar. At home I can limit the amount of sugar and use gluten free flours.

My solution? Dairy Queen drive through.

Did you know that Dairy Queen sells a gluten free, vegan dilly bar? They do! The sugar content is higher than I like, however, the dilly bar uses coconut cream and it is gluten free.

Rather than eat inside Dairy Queen, we chose to pick up a box of six vegan Dilly Bars and took them home. We enjoyed the special treat at home a little later in the evening. And Greg gets the rest of the bars!

 

Dine and Dash second course
Dine and Dash – second course at Cracker Barrel

Adventure Challenges

Do these adventure challenges sound intriguing to you?

Challenge books are available in solo, family and couples editions. Each book contains 50 scratch off challenges. Check out the various books and the camera/book kits HERE. Use my code GOINGBEYOND to save 10% off of your order at checkout.

You can also purchase the camera HERE, from Amazon. The instamatic photos add to the fun, plus there’s a spot for them in the book as you document the challenges.

This Dine and Dash challenge proved fun…and all meals WERE paid for. I toted along the Adventure Challenge book and the instamatic camera, for photos.

And no, I didn’t do this challenge solo. And I adapted the activity a bit. However overall, I completed the activity and enjoyed the leisurely meal that stretched over three locations and a couple of hours.

I’m curious to see if the food theme continues when I choose another challenge next month!

Dine and Dash course three
Dine and Dash course three – vegan Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen

 

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Weekend Fun in Branson MO

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Branson, Missouri is a popular vacation destination, drawing visitors from around the world. In fact, it’s known as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World” due to the variety of live shows and events offered. And attractions such as Silver Dollar City and the Titanic Museum provide top notch entertainment.

I live in Joplin, Missouri, about a two hour drive from Branson. And although I’ve visited the city many times, I had yet to spend time in the charming downtown area.

Greg and I joined my sister Linda and brother in law Roy for weekend fun in Branson. Check out what we did!

Weekend Fun in Branson MO title meme

Branson Missouri

Located in the Ozark Mountains in Southwest Missouri, Branson is a unique community. The city offers a huge variety of activities, attractions, live shows and natural beauty.

Play golf on one of their many courses that range from par three to nature courses to championship, with skill levels suited for everyone. Visit a wide variety of restaurants, shops and museums.

And stay at accommodations that include hotels, Airbnbs, B&Bs, condos, cabins and luxury resorts.

It’s the perfect weekend getaway. Start planning your trip by visiting Explore Branson.

Linda and Roy spent five days enjoying Branson, staying in an Airbnb condo. Greg and I joined them for the weekend.

Weekend Fun in Branson MO
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – view from the condo balcony

Exploring Downtown Branson

While Greg and Roy played golf Saturday, Linda and I explored the historic downtown area.

As many times as I’ve visited Branson, this was a first for me. The Strip in Branson hosts many attractions and that’s where most of the live show venues are located. However, Downton Branson is a fun and charming destination of its own. The area includes many unique small shops and restaurants plus entertainment, outdoor activities, attractions and the fabulous Branson Landing.

It’s a very walkable area or you can ride the free Downtown Trolley called Sparky.

Linda and I found a free parking lot and walked. It was fun to explore the variety of shops…everything from energy infused jewelry stores to flea markets and gift shops to entertainment venues. We bought fudge for the guys. Wandered through cute shops, stopped by a dinosaur fossil store and enjoyed a girls’ lunch at MoMo Sushi and Grill.

We both found travel themed handbags at one shop and at another stop, I picked up a small vegan leather sling type purse that’s perfect to carry when I’m traveling.

And we enjoyed Dick’s 5 & 10, an old fashioned retail shop that’s been in Downtown Branson since 1961. The fun store boasts 250,000 items on the shelves and I believe that! We found all kinds of merchandise, some reminiscent of our childhood favorites. I bought a cute little tabletop framed quote that says “The best miles are the ones you walk”. It’s perfect for my travel shelf.

Weekend Fun in Branson MO downtown
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – historic downtown

Branson Landing

After wearing ourselves out walking and shopping in the August heat, we met up with the guys back at the condo. On the agenda for the evening…Anthems of Rock at King’s Castle Theatre on The Strip.

But first, the four of us walked in Branson Landing and ate dinner at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen there.

This 1.5 mile boardwalk along Taneycomo Lake offers shopping, dining and entertainment. Strolling down the boardwalk, Branson Landing feels like a cross between a high quality outdoor mall and a cute downtown. It’s a beautiful place to get outdoors, enjoy the activities, try a new restaurant and play.

Branson Landing offers events as well such as the weekly Farmers Market, concerts, the Grand Prix of Missouri Powerboat Nationals, Trick or Treating in October and a Winter Wonderlanding Season that begins in November.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is a spacious restaurant and gift shop that specializes in family style dining with classic Southern recipes. I appreciated the family style dining. The four of us shared a variety of main and side dishes.

Weekend Fun in Branson MO branson landing
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – strolling along Branson Landing
Weekend Fun in Branson MO train
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – you can catch a train in Branson Landing if you need a lift…although this ride isn’t free

Anthems of Rock

After dinner we arrived at King’s Castle Theatre for the Anthems of Rock live show. When they say about this show, “Get ready to rock!”, they mean it!

This biggest rock party in Branson showcases hits from some of the most famous bands including The Beatles Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Journey, Aerosmith, Meatloaf and Tina Turner.

It’s a high energy two hour performance by a cast of extremely talented singers, guitar players and dancers. They encourage the audience to sing and clap along.

We loved this show. If you grew up listening to rock music, you’ll appreciate every song. The performers keep the fast paced show interesting with props and costume changes. They seem to genuinely enjoy performing and interacting with each other and the audience.

And if you aren’t quite sure what that familiar song is, there are large screens behind the stage and in the corners of the auditorium that display the album cover, band and song.

I’d definitely recommend Anthems of Rock. Get more info and tickets HERE.

Weekend Fun in Branson MO anthems of rock
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – Anthems of Rock live show
Weekend Fun in Branson MO rock show
Weekend Fun in Branson MO – waiting for the rock show to begin. We enjoyed it.

Have you Explored Branson Missouri?

What a perfect getaway weekend! Branson offers so many choices and fun things to do. I loved exploring parts of the community I had not seen, trying a new restaurant and rocking out to favorite songs with an energetic audience.

I’d love to go back during the holidays to see Downtown Branson and Branson Landing decorated for Christmas and to catch another performance at King’s Castle.

Have you visited this beautiful city? Traveled to the past at Silver Dollar City or experienced the Titanic?

What are your favorite activities to enjoy while in Branson?

Weekend Fun in Branson MO quiet morning
Enjoying the view from the condo balcony

 

Exploring during the summer? You need these accessories from Amazon:

 


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More Funny Travel Stories

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Last April I shared my first Funny Travel Stories post. The humorous experiences were fun to recall as I typed them out. And, in the process, I realized that I had enough funny stories for at least one more post.

I hope you enjoy these tales from my travels and feel inspired to share your own.

Here they are…more funny travel stories.

More Funny Travel Stories title meme

Overpowered

On my first visit to Scotland, with my cousin Mindy and her son William, we stayed at Halcyon House in Edinburgh. This property felt more like a grand old house rather than a hotel. The friendly owners lived on site and offered guests a hearty breakfast every morning in the dining room.

On our first morning in the city, Mindy and I finished getting ready in the large room while William showered. I KNEW better than to plug my hair dryer into the socket. I packed an electrical adapter, however, in my excitement to explore Edinburgh, I plugged the dryer in and turned it on.

The hair dryer sounded strange, surging with power. Just as I thought “Oh no…” a loud POP occurred. The dryer stopped and the lights went out. William yelled as he tried to shower in total darkness. I yelled an apology back and then heard doors opening all along the upstairs hallway. Power went out on the whole floor, as everyone got ready for the day.

I felt so embarrassed! One of the owners, Matthew, thankfully brought a ladder up, fiddled with the circuit breakers and quickly restored power. William did not let me forget that incident and I never forgot to use an adapter again.

Two Doctor Whos

My grandson Dayan and I are both huge fans of the British television series, Doctor Who. What a wonderful experience to attend our first Comic Con in St Louis, with special guests David Tennent, the Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith, the Eleventh.

After Dayan’s photo op with the two doctors, it was my turn. Throwing an arm around each actor I squeezed them close and happily told them they were two of my favorite people. David quipped, “Two of your favorites? Why aren’t we your absolute favorites?” Matt joined in the conversation and we all laughed so much that we messed up the first photo. The photographer scolded us and told us to stop laughing and talking and to hold still….which only made us laugh more.

Later, after standing in line for a couple of hours to get David’s autograph, I  offered my condolences on the recent death of his father. I told him how proud I was that as a Scotsman, he represented the country well during his stint as the Doctor. David surprised me by reaching for my hand and giving it a squeeze. I walked away and then realized I never got a signature on my photo.

Turning around, David saw me and waved me back. In his thick Scottish brogue, said he wondered how long it would take for me to return. He signed the photo with a flourish and then said, “Now go…and behave yourself!” (You have to imagine the words spoken in a Scottish accent to get the full effect.) I’ll remember that day always!

More Funny Travel Stories doctors
More Funny Travel Stories – Dayan with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors

Knock First!

During the girls’ UK trip with my mother, two sisters and niece, we shared rooms to cut down on costs. And almost immediately we had to have a talk about respecting personal space after my mom nonchalantly walked into the bathroom while my sister Debbie was in there. Knock first, we suggested seriously, even though everyone except Debbie laughed about the incident. I thought it was funny too, until it happened to me.

In London, I shared a room with Mom and my sister Linda. While showering in the glass enclosed shower, my mother and/or Linda walked in on me not once…not twice…but three times. I think the last intrusion was deliberate, just to hear me yell “For the love of God…some privacy please!”

I locked the bathroom door after that.

Road to Nowhere

I appreciated having a rental car on my recent trip to the Charleston area. The Mitsubishi Mirage featured a large screen on the dash. When I plugged in my phone and pulled up the maps app, it displayed on that screen and Siri directed me from there, making navigating on the South Carolina sea islands and Charleston easier. It worked really well…until it didn’t.

On my departure day, I left the airbnb early, with the Charleston International Airport address loaded into the app and up on the screen. Siri directed me effortlessly through heavy morning traffic. However, as the screen showed about 10 minutes left until I reached the airport, something didn’t seem right. Looking around, I didn’t recognize this part of the city.

I trusted the GPS system though, following Siri as she directed me off of the expressway. I continued to trust as I turned into what looked like a neighborhood. Maybe this was a shortcut? Deeper into the neighborhood, I turned onto a street and Siri announced, “Destination on the right. Arrived.”

I stopped in front of an ordinary looking house, on an average street, in a typical suburban neighborhood. The man working in the yard turned to look at me and waved, a bit hesitantly. This was not the airport!

I nodded to the stranger, drove to the end of the street and re-entered the airport into the maps app. Fortunately, it was only 15 minutes away. I’ll never know what happened and why the map changed to a different location, mid-route. But I arrived at the airport with time to spare, turned in the car and caught my flight. Even if I don’t understand why, I believe everything happens for a reason.

Lucky Bird Poop

After exploring the medieval village of San Gimignano in Italy, my grandson, daughter and I sat on benches near the city gate with our tour group. As the tour bus pulled up, we all stood and gathered our belongings.

I felt something hit my shoulder and arm. Looking up, I spied a bird in the tree above me. Glancing back at my arm, I noticed bird poop.

I made a sound of disgust, however, to my surprise our tour guide Fabi and others in the group cheered and applauded. In Italy it’s a sign of good fortune when a bird poops on you. The next suggested action is to visit a casino.

People came by to rub my shoulder, transferring good luck to themselves. One dear woman offered me a package of wet wipes so I could clean off the poop. Bless her!

Read more Italian good luck traditions HERE.

More Funny Stories bird poop
More Funny Travel Stories – lucky bird poop in San Gimignano, Italy

Deja Vu

Traveling cross country with my family, I began to experience deja vu. This phenomenon is described as a feeling of already experiencing the present moment, of remembering something that can’t possibly be remembered.

Leaving Los Angeles, Joplin bound via a layover in Denver, the deja vu began at LAX airport. By the time we landed in Denver, that strange feeling was occurring almost continuously. Casting about for an explanation, I decided this must be the day that I die. I was seeing my life flash before my eyes through deja vu.

Boarding our plane for the last leg of the journey home, I experienced the strongest sense of remembering yet. The artistic design on the front cabin wall triggered it, as did the approaching severe thunderstorm. Our pilot announced that due to the storm, take off would be quick and rough. This was it. We were going to crash.

Only my older daughter sensed that something was going on with me. Her look of concern prompted me to pray like I’ve never prayed before. I asked for angels to surround the plane, placed protective energy around it and visualized us all flying safely above the storm and arriving back home. Closing my eyes, I did all I could to help that plane take off  and rise above the turbulence.

This story is more weird than funny. And it’s absolutely true. The deja vu stopped as soon as we cleared the storm and we did indeed arrive home without further incident.

Alligator!

I am not afraid of most animals. Even snakes and spiders are fascinating to me. However, I do not like alligators. They freak me out. During trips to Florida and South Carolina, I’ve observed them from afar and that’s the way I want it. On my recent trip back to South Carolina, I discovered it was mating season for these reptiles, which can make male alligators more aggressive. Oh, wonderful.

The beautiful airbnb I stayed at on Johns Island, with its pretty pool, is situated on a tropical property, lush with trees, plants and flowers. Aware that the island is surrounded by rivers and marshes, I hoped I would not have a close encounter with an alligator.

My first night at the airbnb, I ventured out after dark, barefoot and wearing a lightweight cotton dress. Lights strung up all over the property make it even more magical at night. Wandering down a path I suddenly froze. Something big thrashed in the shadowy underbrush and it seemed to be coming toward me. I immediately thought, “Alligator!” and ran back to the airbnb as fast as my bare feet could take me.

The next morning, talking to Neil, one of the hosts, I sheepishly mentioned my encounter the night before. I asked if alligators ever get into the pool. He laughed and shook his head. In all the years he’s lived on the island, he said, he’s never seen an alligator on the property. But he added, with a twinkle in his eyes, they do have armadillos who like to forage at night among the plants. He spotted one earlier that morning.

I ran from an armadillo…and what a relief.

I still didn’t wander too far from the house at night though, just in case.

Share Your Funny Stories

We all have embarrassing, funny or strange travel stories. These colorful adventures form part of the life tapestry, woven with threads from rich experiences.

I know I’ll have more funny travel stories to share as I continue to explore the world with an open heart and mind and the ability to laugh at situations and most importantly, at myself.

I’d love to hear one of your favorite funny stories. Share it in the comments below.

More Funny Travel Stories alligator
More Funny Travel Stories – alligator hiding in the shadows??

Travel essentials from Amazon:

 


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Homegrown

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to The Adventure Challenge, for sending me The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition Book for review purposes and to use for my Year of Adventure. All opinions are my own.

As summer declares itself in full force, all across the US and the northern hemisphere in fact, I considered whether I should carefully select an adventure challenge…or let the activity choose me. This current heat wave is breaking records, with no immediate end in sight. An outdoor activity could prove challenging indeed.

Ever one to play the random game, I let the adventure choose me. What a wonderful activity for summer…and this incredible heat. I laughed with the perfection of it.

This is Adventure Challenge #24, Homegrown.

Homegrown title meme

The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition

The Adventure Challenge books contain scratch off adventures, suitable for adults, families and individuals. Each hardbound book contain 50 fun and unique challenges to experience with a partner, spouse, friends, family members or on your own.

The challenges encourage you to get off your phone and electrical devices and connect with each other…or more deeply with yourself. They are the perfect way to explore your city or the great outdoors, try something new, reconnect with your inner child or make new friends.

The keepsake book makes it easy to document the memories, with snapshots and a few words about the experience.

There’s a catch though. The challenges are hidden. You don’t know what the activity is, until you scratch it off. If you’ve followed me for very long, you KNOW I love playing games built around randomness. The Adventure Challenge books are like the games I play where I draw random slips of paper out of a jar and do the activity I select. There are no “do overs”, in those fun games I make up, or in The Adventure Challenge.

Homegrown

My instructions for Challenge #24:

“Your hometown is unique. The local butcher shop, community garden or nearby farm could bring some of that uniqueness right to your table.

Today your challenge is to create a completely locally sourced meal featuring only local ingredients. Extra special and extra fresh!”

I adore this challenge activity. My community has local farmers markets that offer fresh produce…and other products…year around. In fact, I was just at the outdoor Webb City Farmers Market Saturday morning. This particular market sets up under a long open air pavilion every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. I happened to select this activity on Tuesday.

Off to the market I went, to pick out the ingredients for my evening meal. Since I am vegan, I intended to purchase a variety of fresh vegetables to create a homegrown meal with.

Homegrown farmers market
Homegrown – Webb City Farmers Market

Gathering Food

The Webb City Farmers Market opens from 4:00 – 7:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:00 – noon on Saturdays. I’ve visited this vibrant market for years. Besides fresh produce, shoppers can find many organic foods, crafts, plants, bakery items, soaps, herbs, spices, fresh flowers, food vendors, a variety of breads and, I’m happy to add, a vegan food vendor as well. A jar of her vegan dill ranch dressing sits in my refrigerator right now!

To complete this challenge, I focused on fresh, locally grown produce. I bought tomatoes last Saturday. During this trip, I purchased red skinned new potatoes, okra, green beans, carrots, onions, zucchini and yellow squash.

Homegrown veggies
Homegrown – my vegetable stash

Creating a Homegrown Meal

I wanted to use each of the fresh veggies in my meal so I settled on a simple vegetable hash for dinner.

A vegetable hash is so easy and delicious and, best of all, I can make it from whatever veggies I have on hand.

After washing and chopping the veggies, I heated a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Adding the chopped potatoes, onions and carrots first, I stir fried them over medium high heat until the potatoes and carrots were almost tender.

Next I added sliced okra, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash plus a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of cumin. I continued to stir fry the mixed veggies until tender, then added a small amount of water, covered the skillet and turned the heat to low. While the veggie mixture simmered, I sliced fresh tomatoes.

My homegrown meal of veggie hash and sliced garden tomatoes was so full of flavor. What a satisfying…and yummy…adventure challenge.

Homegrown veggie hash
Homegrown – veggie hash

Adventure Challenges

Do these adventure challenges sound fun to you? What about the amazing life lessons and/or synchronicities that accompany each one?

Challenge books are available in solo, family and couples editions. Each book contains 50 scratch off challenges. Check out the various books and the camera/book kits HERE. Use my code GOINGBEYOND to save 10% off of your order at checkout.

You can also purchase the camera HERE, from Amazon. The instamatic photos add to the fun, plus there’s a spot for them in the book as you document the challenges.

I enjoyed the trip to the farmers market, picking out vegetables and creating a meal from them at home. It truly was a farm to table experience. And, I have vegetables left for at least three more meals.

Do you have a farmers market or co-op in your area? What do you like to purchase there?

Homegrown adventure challenge 24
Homegrown – adventure challenge #24

 

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Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield

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I recently enjoyed an afternoon looking for art in downtown Springfield, MO. Check out my first post about the city’s Sculpture Walk HERE.

Springfield features sculptures in their beautiful downtown area, an exhibit that changes yearly. It’s fun to start at Park Central and walk the blocks surrounding it, looking for unique sculptures that tell interesting stories.

This is part two sharing some of the art that I discovered on my trip.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield title meme

Sculpture Walk Springfield

Sculpture Walk Springfield launched in April 2015 with 13 sculptures installed throughout the downtown area. This year the 2022 exhibit showcases 41 sculptures…29 temporary ones that will change out next year and 12 permanent installations.

Their vision: to create a museum without walls with access to all.

Their purpose: when placed outdoors, integrated in full public view with existing structures and landscapes, sculptures add to a city’s heritage, character, and sense of place and diversity; it adorns a city with distinction, adding to pride of place and a sense of identity. Public art rejuvenates public spaces by transforming them into destinations.  Sculpture Walk Springfield will play a major role in the economic rejuvenation of Springfield.

Their mission: to encourage the artistic transformation of Springfield through outdoor sculpture, thus enhancing our quality of life and promoting economic vitality.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield park central
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – start the hunt in Park Central

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield

Park Central Square is the place to start for the art hunt. There is free parking available nearby and a variety of shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs in the area for a meal or a refreshing drink.

You can visit the Sculpture Walk Facebook Page or the website HERE to download a map or you can park near Park Central Square in downtown Springfield and simply start walking. The sculptures are identified by a small plaque near each one, that lists the artist and a brief description of the inspiration for the art.

Here are more sculptures that we found.

Folded Weight I

Artist: Matthew Csernansky

Matthew’s art utilizes modern materials to capture the minimalistic shapes of nature that often get overlooked. He seeks to provide the viewer with a way to experience those natural shapes.

Folded Weight I  is meant to remind us of natural and man-made objects that awe us with their scale, weight, and presence. The shape is reminiscent of a piece of paper, folded into a new form. Folded Weight I represents shelter, a moment of rest and balance. It encourages reflection and meditation.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield folded weight
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – Folded Weight I

Agatha’s Contest

Artist: Timothy Pease

This is Timothy’s first public art piece. The nurses fighting on the frontlines against COVID provided inspiration for his art. The nurses tirelessly continue against the virus, never wavering in their desire to triumph in this contest.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield agatha's contest
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – Agatha’s Contest

Grandpa S

Artist: Matt Miller

Matt has created art for 12 years while also spending time in the classroom, teaching art to others. He enjoys a constant connection with this form of expression. 

This sculpture is inspired by his wife’s grandfather, who whittled slingshots out of sticks.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield grandpa s
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – Grandpa S

Never Too Far

Artist: Joe Duggar

Joe’s inspiration for this piece is feeling of separation from the ones we love and how a memory pulls those we miss to us again. This is his second work in the sculpture program.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield never too far
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – Never Too Far

Ozarks Jubilee Park

While looking for this year’s sculptures, Greg and I discovered other art pieces in the area. There is a massive cube-like sculpture in Park Central Square. And we found this intriguing piece in Ozarks Jubilee Park, a few blocks away.

The base is similar to those supporting the 2022-2023 Sculpture Walk pieces, leading me to believe this is an entry from a former exhibit, that became a permanent installation.

We had fun walking around this beautiful park, playing on the interactive musical pieces there.

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield ozarks jubilee park
Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield – Ozarks Jubilee Park

More Art to Discover

I’ve shared less than half of the sculptures from this year’s exhibit. Which means, I’ll return to Springfield Missouri soon, when temperatures are below the 100 degree mark, to find more sculptures.

I look forward to the discoveries and the opportunity to try out another new to me restaurant downtown.

Do you have a Sculpture Walk in your city…or a town near you?

Looking for Art in Downtown Springfield sky eleven
Pretty Sky Eleven in downtown Springfield is an apartment for students.

Springfield finds from Amazon:

 


 

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What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island SC

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Last fall I experienced my first bigger solo adventure in the Charleston, South Carolina area. I loved the experience and learned so much about traveling solo and discovered new things about myself as well.

When the invitation came to travel back to South Carolina and explore the sea islands just outside of Charleston, I happily accepted. There is, I found, a difference between staying in Charleston’s historic downtown area…and island life.

Here’s what I learned traveling solo on Johns Island.

What I Learned Traveling on Johns Island title meme

Johns Island South Carolina

Shortly after I returned home from Charleston, one of the owners of Sailor’s Rest Airbnb contacted me about hosting my stay at their wonderful property. Located on Johns Island, Sailor’s Rest is situated to offer unique experiences on the sea islands while being close enough to Charleston for further explorations there. I said a grateful “Yes!”

Johns Island is the largest of the South Carolina sea islands. Located about 11 miles from Charleston, Johns Island was named after Saint John Parish in Barbados, by the first English colonial setters who arrived from there. Before the settlers, nomadic Native American tribes, such as the Kiawah, hunted and fished there.

By the late 1600s, colonists developed plantations along the banks of the Stono River. The plantations relied on enslaved people to grow crops of indigo, prized for its rich blue dye. During the Revolutionary War a small force of British troops camped on the island, with the purpose of laying siege to Charleston. British troops successfully besieged the city in 1780. Occupation lasted until 1782.

During the Civil War the island was the site of the Battle of Bloody Bridge in 1864. During a three day siege, 2,000 southern troops held off 8,000 union soldiers. After the war the island experienced a time of change and redevelopment.

Today, Johns Island offers guests lush landscapes, fun attractions and laid back vibes.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island vibes
Island vibes at Sailor’s Rest on Johns Island.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island

Following are my six biggest “takeaways” from this solo trip.

Research Pays Off

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does extensive research before leaving on a trip. Perhaps because of traveling solo, I spend a great deal of time researching the area I’m visiting and familiarizing myself with it.

Studying maps of Johns Island and the other sea islands helped me visualize my travels and delivered my first surprises. I discovered two places I wanted to visit during my first trip to Charleston…Angel Oak Tree and Charleston Tea Garden…located within minutes of my accommodations.

Learning the roads and plotting out travel routes eased my slight anxiety about renting a car and driving in the area alone. I also developed a loose itinerary, with built in times for spontaneous explorations, so that I could make the most of my time on Johns Island.

All of this planning pays off when I arrive at my destination. I know where I am at all times, even though it’s a new to me area, and I know what I am doing so I don’t miss experiences that are important to me.

I knew from my research that a bamboo tunnel leads to the Sailor’s Rest property. When I drove through that tunnel I felt such a sense of excitement that I had arrived!

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island bamboo tunnel
What I learned traveling solo on Johns Island – the bamboo tunnel leads into Sailor’s Rest

A Car is Essential

When I flew to Charleston the first time, I took a cab from the airport to Meeting Street Inn downtown. From that location, I could walk to all the places I wanted to see, or take the city’s free hop on/hop off trolley.

Taxis and ride providers such as Uber don’t go to Johns Island, or at least not without very high fees. I knew this trip I’d need to rent a car to get around.

This is where I experienced the most personal growth during my solo trip. I’ve never rented a car on my own before…or driven from a major airport through a large busy city to an island. I admit to feeling some mild anxiety and also excitement over that adventure. I made rental car arrangements before the trip and picked the car up at the Charleston International Airport.

The Mitsubishi Mirage was perfect for my needs. I loved the large screen on the dash. When I plugged in my iPhone and pulled up the maps feature, it displayed on the screen, making it so much easier for me to navigate. And I spent very little on gas during the four days I drove the car, thanks to it being a hybrid.

A car truly is essential for getting around the islands or driving back into Charleston. I’m glad staying on the island forced me to do something I might not have otherwise. I think I strutted a bit walking back into the airport terminal, after handing the car keys over to the attendant. What a sense of accomplishment. And the next time I need to rent a car, it won’t be a big deal.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island rental car
What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island – a car is essential

Staying on the Island is the Best Way to Experience It

It is certainly possible to stay in Charleston and spend a day exploring the sea islands. However, I’m so glad I stayed on Johns Island for this trip. And while I did spend half a day in Charleston, I enjoyed the rest of my stay exploring what the island has to offer.

I highly recommend Sailor’s Rest Airbnb as the perfect accommodations for an island visit. You can read more about the features of Sailor’s Rest HERE. I loved having the whole property to myself. And I loved just as much knowing that the hosts live above the airbnb, in case I needed them or had questions. They showed me incredible kindness and graciously shared their story with me. Otherwise, they left me to enjoy the house, the beautiful grounds, the pool and the many amenities, in solitude.

Although I spent each day out exploring, I arrived back at Sailor’s Rest by late afternoon so that I could experience the property, swim, fix an evening meal and savor downtime. Island life invites reflection and practicing the art of doing nothing. There’s such a unique, slower paced vibe there and I happily aligned with it.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island arbor
What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island – align with the slower paced island lifestyle

It’s Okay to Join a Group

I adore solo travel. I’m naturally a solitary person and alone time is never lonely for me. However, I also discovered that it’s okay to connect with others and join a group, when necessary.

At the Charleston Tea Garden, on Wadmalaw Island, I highly recommend the factory tour and the trolley tour of the tea farm. I joined a large group of lively, talkative women…and a couple of men…for both tours. On the trolley, I sat next to a woman I did not know and got acquainted as we toured the property. These ladies laughed, a lot, and made me feel like part of the group. In fact, they even invited me to join them for lunch when we got back to the gift shop. I had other plans for lunch, but I thanked them and we all wished each other well on our adventures for the day.

And here’s the thing. I almost waited for another trolley tour rather than join that boisterous group. I’m glad though that I spent 45 fun minutes with them. Had I hesitated, I might have waited much longer to board another trolley. I bought one of the last seats available with the fun group… and the next trolley tour sold out immediately as more and more visitors arrived at the tea garden.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island group
What I learned traveling solo on Johns Island – it’s okay to go with a crowd

Adapt

Since I had a full kitchen at my disposal, I prepared breakfasts and suppers at the airbnb. That left lunches out, while exploring. Before the trip I picked cafés to try that offered vegan options.

And since I arrived on Johns Island late on Sunday afternoon, I selected a food market with a restaurant for carry out so I could take my meal to Sailor’s Rest.

Wouldn’t you know….the food market and restaurant wasn’t open on Sunday and every café that I selected was closed for lunch. For someone who does extensive research, I somehow didn’t check open times.

Adapting is an important part of solo travel. I carry a notebook full of my ideas and fortunately, I jotted down alternative places to eat. And you know what? They were so good. The food market in Freshfields Village not only provided groceries and my first carry out meal on the island, the trip there inspired me to return to explore the village more a couple of days later. And I enjoyed lunch there at Café Eugenia after I found that the other restaurant I’d selected on Johns Island only opens in the evening.

I revisited Brown Dog Deli in Charleston for an amazing vegan meal after I discovered my initial choice also only opens in the evening and my second choice did not have enough vegan options.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island cafe eugenia
Interior shot of Café Eugenia in Freshfields Village

Go With the Flow

Going with the flow is a crucial life lesson I learned years ago. And it is an important aspect of solo travel for me. Even with all the planning, unexpected things happen…like closed restaurants…or opportunities appear. Resistance not only takes me out of the high level energy flow, it can also flip me into disappointment or cause me to struggle. I don’t want either…in life or on my travels.

I found other wonderful places to eat lunch. And because the restaurant/food market I intended to stop at on my way to the airbnb was closed I needed to find another place to stock up on groceries and grab a quick meal. My host recommended Freshfields Village and I’m so glad she did. Going there Sunday afternoon led to the visit later in the week.

Additionally, going with the flow secured me an ideal parking spot in Charleston. Using Google Maps, I located a parking garage in the downtown area. However, arriving in the city I felt drawn to drive by Waterfront Park first. The sight of a cruise ship docked in the bay drew my attention. I didn’t see any cruise ships last September. As I slowly drove along the street toward that cruise ship, I literally found myself coming to a stop in front of a parking lot with an attendant motioning me in. It was cheaper than the downtown parking garage and the perfect starting point for my explorations.

What I Learned Traveling Solo on Johns Island cruise ship
What I learned traveling solo on Johns Island – go with the flow

What Are Your Takeaways from Your Last Trip?

Do you love traveling…and the experiences you have? What about the lessons you learn?

Every time I travel, I learn and experience something new. Solo travel ramps that up, as I also discover new things about myself and what I am capable of.

Each solo adventure inspires me to go again, to another place I’ve never been.

Share with me your takeaways from your most recent adventure.

What I Learned Traveling Solo

Travel Journals from Amazon:

 


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Sculpture Walk Springfield

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love when something fun and new comes unexpectedly into my awareness. Recently, scrolling through my feed on Facebook, my attention was caught by an announcement on a new-to-me page called Sculpture Walk Springfield.

Springfield, Missouri is an hour drive from my hometown of Joplin. I go there often on adventures, weekend get-aways and or just to enjoy a meal.

I felt excited about an art adventure in this charming and busy city. Reading for info, I realized this was a new installation in an ongoing exhibit that changes yearly.

On a beautiful spring day, Greg and I drove to Springfield to enjoy the Sculpture Walk and a wonderful lunch at a downtown restaurant. Check out some of my favorite sculptures from that trip.

Sculpture Walk Springfield title meme

What Is Sculpture Walk Springfield?

In 2013, Karen Schneider and Peg Carolla went to visit their respective daughters in two very different cities – Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Mexico City, Mexico – and returned with similar visions about what public art can do for a community. In Mexico City, Peg noticed giant cups painted by individual artists, lining a long boulevard. And in Sioux Falls, Karen took note of a program of changing sculptures in the town center.

Karen and Peg gathered a group of enthusiastic Springfield residents who carried the vision for such an art project in their own city.

Sculpture Walk Springfield launched in April 2015 with 13 sculptures installed throughout the downtown area. This year the 2022 exhibit showcases 41 sculptures…29 temporary ones that will change out next year and 12 permanent installations.

Vision, Mission and Purpose

Their vision: to create a museum without walls with access to all.

Their purpose: when placed outdoors, integrated in full public view with existing structures and landscapes, sculptures add to a city’s heritage, character, and sense of place and diversity; it adorns a city with distinction, adding to pride of place and a sense of identity. Public art rejuvenates public spaces by transforming them into destinations.  Sculpture Walk Springfield will play a major role in the economic rejuvenation of Springfield.

Their mission: to encourage the artistic transformation of Springfield through outdoor sculpture, thus enhancing our quality of life and promoting economic vitality.

Sculpture Walk Springfield downtown
Sculpture Walk Springfield – downtown street

Looking for Sculptures

You can visit the Facebook Page or the website HERE to download a map or you can park near Park Central Square in downtown Springfield and start walking. The sculptures are identified by a small plaque near each one, that lists the artist and a brief description of the inspiration for the art.

Park Central Square is a gorgeous place to call “home base” for the hunt. There is free parking available nearby and a variety of shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs in the area for a meal or a drink.

I downloaded a map onto my phone, in case we got “stuck”. However, the sculptures were not hard to find. It’s fun to stroll through the downtown area, enjoying the city and looking for these works of art. We located about half of the sculptures and saved the rest so we had another reason to return soon to Springfield.

The warm sunshiny day encouraged us to stop for lunch and lots of ice water at Civil Kitchen, located across from Park Central Square. This fun restaurant offers veggie choices such as their falafel and veg wrap and colossal onion rings. That wrap is amazing! I also enjoyed their flash fried kale.

Sculpture Walk Springfield civil kitchen
Sculpture Walk Springfield – good place for lunch, Civil Kitchen

Sculpture Walk Springfield Faves

Here are some of my favorite sculptures that we found on this first exploration. ALL of the sculptures are amazing though. You’ll want to find all of them.

Continuum

Artist: Nathan Pierce

Nathan believes that communication plays a fundamental role in our perceptions of the world we live in. His work deals with the conflicts of confinement and freedom and with exploring the catalyst between building or destroying communication. The relationship that his work has with the natural environment communicates with the viewer and helps activate the imagination and see the world differently.

(Pictured above in the Title Pin)

Call Now!

Artist: Mike Salisbury

Mike uses the abandoned payphone as a metaphor for connection and disconnection. His urban street sculpture invites interaction and reflects our culture in a time of change.

The juxtaposition of an outdated artifact surrounding a living tree causes the viewer to contemplate: “Is nature protected or imprisoned? Is this a triumph for the environment or a rite for our technology? Playful nostalgia or a worrisome premonition?”

You decide!

Sculpture Walk Springfield call now
Sculpture Walk Springfield – Call Now!

Guardian Creature

Artist: Derek Fitzpatrick

This playful sculpture is based off of a series of ceramic and metal sculptures that Derek made called creatures.

This one, the Guardian Creature, is meant to guard and protect people.

Sculpture Walk Springfield guardian creature
Sculpture Walk Springfield – Guardian Creature

Heart of the Matter

Artist: Larry Young

Larry drew inspiration from the EKG graph as it records the strength and timing of the heart’s activity. Especially in tough times, he says, we need our hearts to beat in strong, coordinated rhythm.

Two of Larry’s family members work in the health industry. He possesses a deep appreciation for what those in this field sacrifice and do to serve all in need.

Sculpture Walk Springfield heart of the matter
Sculpture Walk Springfield – Heart of the Matter

Say Cheese

Artist: Justin Deister

As a kid, did you hate for your food to touch, on your plate?

Justin says that’s where art began for him…managing food migration. His inspiration is the fun kids enjoy when they put cheese noodles on fork tines. It always makes him smile.

His sculpture makes me smile!

Sculpture Walk Springfield say cheese
Sculpture Walk Springfield – Say Cheese

Thinking of Solutions

Artist: Zachery Long

Zachery calls this sculpture a self portrait. He felt stuck on a problem. He is very solution oriented and found himself thinking on solutions in a robotic way. Processing ideas is how he hunts for solutions. This time, the solution was the process.

Sculpture Walk Springfield thinking of solutions
Sculpture Walk Springfield – Thinking of Solutions

What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding

Artist: James Douglas Cox

James wanted to make this sculpture for more than 20 years. He says with the division between people in the US the worst he’s seen in his lifetime, he figured this was as good a time as any to create it.

In James’ favorite version of Nick Lowe’s song What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding Nick says:

“As I walk this wicked world  searching for light in the darkness of insanity, I ask myself is all hope lost, is there only pain, hatred and misery/ And each time I feel like this inside there’s one thing I want to know.

What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding? What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?

And as I walk on through troubled times, my spirit gets so down hearted sometimes. Sometimes, so where are the strong? And who are the trusting? And where is harmony, sweet harmony? Cause each time I feel it slipping away, it just makes me want to cry.

What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding? What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?

Sculpture Walk Springfield whats so funny
Sculpture Walk Springfield – What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding

Visit Springfield MO and the Sculpture Walk

If you live in the Springfield, Branson or Joplin areas or you are passing through, take time to stop and walk in downtown Springfield. Visit a couple of the sculptures…or hunt for all of them. These works of art make you think, make you smile, make you feel.

I thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of strolling and looking, reading the plaques and thinking about the art.  Greg and I finished our time in Springfield with afternoon tea at Gilmore’s.

I’m so impressed and inspired by this Sculpture Walk. It’s a museum without walls indeed, on several different levels. And the hunt and find nature of it just adds to the experience.

I look forward to a return visit and discovering more sculptures tucked into downtown Springfield.

Sculpture Walk Springfield bunnies
These whimsical creatures are part of the What’s So Funny sculpture.

 

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