Best Picture Nominations 2024

 

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With the Oscars airing on March 10, 2024, it’s officially awards seasons! And for me, that means watching each of the nominated films before that magical night. I love watching these movies, which are typically very diverse. This year is no exception.

Here are the best picture nominations 2024, with a brief synopsis of each.

Best Picture Nominations 2024 title

Ten Best Picture Nominations

Ten amazing films are nominated this year. Three are foreign films. Four are based on true stories. All kept me engaged. Some made me laugh out loud. Some brought tears to my eyes. And one caused my blood pressure to raise!

Here they are, as usual, in the order that I watched them.

Barbie

Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 54 minutes

Screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Directed by Greta Gerwig. Nominated for 8 Oscars.

Stars Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon and America Ferrera.

Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful, perfect world of Barbieland. Barbie feels especially proud about the impact she’s surely had on young girls, showing them that they can be anything and go anywhere they desire. However, when they go to the real world, they discover the perils and joys of living among humans. And Barbie is discouraged to learn that her impact is not as great as she thought.

Fun fact: Barbie is 23% larger than everything in Barbieland to mimic the disproportionate scale that real Barbies and Barbie activity sets are produced in.

Barbie is streaming on MAX and available to rent on Prime HERE.

Best Picture Nominations 2024 Barbie
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – Barbie

Maestro

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 9 minutes

Screenplay by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer. Directed by Bradley Cooper. Nominated for 7 Oscars.

Stars Carrey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Sarah Silverman and Matt Bomer.

This film chronicles the lifelong love story of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre. The complex story spans 30 years as Leonard reaches great heights in his career all while his marriage and homelife struggles.

Fun fact: Bradley’s interest in Bernstein started with watching Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny cartoons and observing them conduct. He asked Santa for a baton when he was eight years old.

Maestro is steaming on Netflix.

Best Picture Nominations 2024 Maestro
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – Maestro

Poor Things

Rated R  Run Time: 2 hours 21 minutes

Screenplay by Tony McNamara, based on the novel by Alasdair Gray. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Nominated for 11 Oscars.

Stars Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe.

This fantasy tale is about the growth and evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by Frankenstein-like scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter. Hungry to discover the world, Bella runs away with slick lawyer Duncan Wedderburn, on an adventure across continents. (Warning: Bella has matured without prejudice or inhibitions. Therefore, there is a LOT of sexual content in the film.)

Fun fact: Mark Ruffalo felt he was too old to play the role of Duncan Wedderburn. He writes, “To play that character, to do all the physical comedy and the language, and to make the arc that he made, it was so crazy and so exciting. It’s one foot on a banana peel and the other in a grave.” Mark is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Poor Things is currently playing in theaters across the US.

Best Picture Nominations 2024 Poor Things
Poor Things

Oppenheimer

Rated R  Run time: 3 hours

Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, based on the book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. Directed by Christopher Nolan. Nominated for 13 Oscars.

Stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr,

This is the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his sometimes reluctant role in developing the atomic bomb. And it is the continued tale of his trial for supposed ties to communism while he struggles to come to terms with changing the history of the world.

Fun fact: Matt Damon was on a break from acting, as a promise to his wife, with one condition: if Christopher Nolan called, the break was off. Nolan offered Damon the role of Leslie Groves and the break went on hold.

Oppenheimer is available to rent on Prime HERE and has returned to theaters across the US.

Oppenheimer
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – Oppenheimer

American Fiction

Rated R  Run time: 1 hour 57 minutes

Screenplay by Cord Jefferson, based on the novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett. Directed by Cord Jefferson. Nominated for 5 Oscars.

Stars Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander and Sterling K. Brown.

Monk is an author, frustrated by culture’s obsession with reducing people to stereotypes. He is especially fed up with those who profit from Black entertainment that relies on tired tropes. To prove a point, he writes his own “black” book, under a pen name, and finds himself in the heart of hypocrisy when the book is a huge success.

Fun fact: most of the fictional book titles of the Literary Award finalists are the names of bands whose members were friends with Cord in middle school and high school.

American Fiction is playing in theaters across the US.

Best Picture Nominations 2024 American Fiction
American Fiction

Killers of the Flower Moon

Rated R  Run time: 3 hours 26 minutes

Screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese based on the book by David Grann. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Nominated for 10 Oscars.

Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons and John Lithgow.

When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma, on Osage Nation land, the Osage People become wealthy. The sudden wealth attracts oil companies, friends of the People and foes. Osage people begin to die mysteriously as violence, greed and conspiracy surround a family of four Osage sisters and their elderly mother.

Fun fact: the investigation into the happenings in Osage County was the first by the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), headed by J. Edgar Hoover.

Killers of the Flower Moon is steaming on Apple+ TV or available to buy on Prime HERE.

Killers of the Flower Moon
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – Killers of the Flower Moon

The Holdovers

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 13 minutes

Screenplay by David Hemingson. Directed by Alexander Payne. Nominated for 5 Oscars.

Stars Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa.

A cranky ancient history teacher, unliked by students and faculty, is chosen to remain on the campus of a boys’ school over the holidays with those unable to join their families. After a few days, only one holdover remains, a troubled young man whose good grades but bad behavior threatens him with expulsion. The teacher, the boy and a cook, who just lost her son in Vietnam, form an unlikely family for Christmas. Mishaps ensue along with the real journey of learning to understand each other…and themselves.

Fun fact: on the day the scene was shot of the boy calling home, the actor flubbed the take because he didn’t know how to use a rotary phone. It had not occurred to anyone that he had never used one before.

The Holdovers is streaming on Peacock or available to rent on Prime HERE.

Best Picture Nomination 2024 The Holdovers
The Holdovers

Anatomy of a Fall

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 31 minutes

Screenplay by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari. Directed by Justine Triet. Nominated for 5 Oscars. The language in this film is French with some English. English subtitles are available.

Stars Sandra Huller, Swann Arlaud and Milo Machado Graner.

A woman is suspected of her husband’s murder after he falls from an upper balcony in their home. The couple’s son, who is partially sighted, is the primary witness. The film follows the investigation and resulting trial and the straining of the relationship between mother and son.

Fun fact: an instrumental version of 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P, featuring Snoop Dogg, opens the film as the first character to appear is a dog named Snoop.

Anatomy of a Fall is available to rent on Prime HERE.

Anatomy of a Fall
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – Anatomy of a Fall

The Zone of Interest

Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Screenplay by Jonathan Glazer based on the book by Martin Amis. Directed by Jonathan Glazer. Nominated for 5 Oscars. This language in the film is primarily German, with English subtitles.

Stars Sandra Huller, Christian Friedel and Freya Kreutzkam.

Commandant Rudolf Hoss and his wife Hedwig build a dream life for themselves and their children in a spacious house with a lovely, extensive garden. The wall of their garden is shared with Auschwitz Concentration Camp, during the Holocaust. The film tightly focuses on the family and their seemingly idyllic life. Life…or rather death…within Auschwitz is never seen. However background noises of shouting, screams and gunshots remain constant throughout the movie as does the distant sight of smoke and fire pouring from the camp chimneys.

Fun fact: a much longer score was recorded for the film but the director decided to do without music for most of the movie, relying instead on the sounds of the off screen horrors occurring in Auschwitz.

The Zone of Interest is playing in theaters across the US. The indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema, made it available in my town.

The Zone of Interest
Best Picture Nominations 2024 – The Zone of Interest

Past Lives

Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Screenplay by Celine Song. Directed by Celine Song. Nominated for 2 Oscars. The language in this film is English and Korean, with English subtitles available.

Stars Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro.

Childhood friends Nora and Hae Sung are separated at age 12 when Nora and her family immigrate to Canada. Twelve years later, Hae Sung uses social media to track down his old friend, who now lives in New York City while he remains in Seoul. Although they share a strong connection still, the friends agree to stop talking to each other so that they can focus on their lives and careers. Another 12 years pass before Hae Sung finally makes the trip to NYC to meet Nora again. She is now married. They spend a week catching up and discussing fate, connection and love.

Fun fact: writer/director Celine Song kept the actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo separated as much as possible so that their scenes together, when they finally meet again in person, felt authentic.

Past Lives is available to rent on Prime HERE.

Best Picture Nominations 2924 Past Lives
Best Picture Nominations 2924 – Past Lives

My Prediction

What a selection of films. Barbie took me back to my childhood. I laughed the most during American Fiction, Poor Things and The Holdovers. And I teared up over scenes in Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon and Past Lives. Maestro, Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon and The Zone of Interest are all based on true stories.

And the Zone of Interest caused my blood pressure to spike. When I realized where the family lived I felt the telltale pressure build in my head. That was a first for me. My blood pressure eventually settled back down. I think it is an extremely important film to see. We must never forget what happened then and what can happen again unless we are vigilant.

The Holdovers turned out to be my favorite film. It is a feel good movie that shows personal growth among the main characters. That’s my favorite type of film.

However, I predict Oppenheimer will take home the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s a weighty, complex film, with excellent character development. Another possibility is Poor Things for its crazy outrageousness.

How many of these Best Picture nominated films have you seen? Which film do you predict will win?

 

 

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Solo Travel to Savannah

 

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Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful, historic city full of southern charm. It landed on my travel list immediately after my first trip to Charleston, as there are similarities between the two cities.

I enjoyed checking this destination off of my list last fall.

Have you wondered about solo travel to Savannah? Wonder no more! I have all the info about exploring this city on your own.

Solo Travel to Savannah title

Preparing for Solo Travel to Savannah

As with any solo adventure, begin with research.

What are the best areas to stay in? Does the city have a historical downtown? What activities are most important to you? What public transportation does the area have? Do you want to take any tours?

I started with a notebook and Google. In researching the best accommodations, I looked for a unique hotel in the historic district. A map, either online or a paper version, was valuable for pinpointing the accommodations and seeing what’s of interest in the area. I also read hotel reviews and blog posts by other solo travelers who have visited Savannah, to see what they recommend.

Hotel Indigo perfectly fit my needs. You can read about this fun hotel HERE.

Once I knew where I was staying, I made a list of activities I wanted to experience, tours I wanted to take part in and restaurants that offer vegan options. I booked three tours before I traveled. And carried my list of intended activities and restaurants to try with me.

Solo Travel to Savannah hotel indigo
Solo Travel to Savannah – Hotel Indigo was perfectly located

Safety Tips for Solo Travel to Savannah

Is Savannah safe for solo travelers…and especially female solo travelers?

The simple answer is yes! I found the city very safe and never felt afraid or uncomfortable, exploring on my own.

Use the following safety tips for your solo adventure to Savannah.

Know the City

Use the map to get familiar with the streets, squares and landmarks near your hotel. I took my fave illustrated map of Savannah with me. Although I had practically memorized it before I traveled, I still studied it every night as I planned the next day. Actually walking in the city helped me to clarify what I could see on the map.

I selected my hotel based on its location to River Street and the historic district. And I chose the restaurants based on their location to the hotel.

I took an Uber from the airport to the hotel. My driver asked if I was traveling alone or meeting someone in the city. When I shared I was a solo traveler he gave me some advice. “Stay within the historic district and DO NOT cross Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and you’ll be just fine.” And he was right. I was.

Solo Travel to Savannah river street
River Street was half a block from my Indigo Hotel.

Make Use of Public Transportation

My first day in Savannah, I rode the hop on/hop off trolleys. These tours are valuable for two reasons. They provide historical insights about Savannah and they give a wonderful overview of the city. The hop on/hop off trolleys cost a minimal amount. You can pay to ride for one day or up to three. One day is usually enough for me.

The rest of my stay in Savannah I explored on foot. Or, if time was tight and the distance I needed to cover was great, I rode the free trolley that Savannah provides. My illustrated map included these trolley routes. I also picked up a schedule from the visitor center.

I didn’t require a taxi or Uber while in Savannah, until my ride back to the airport. However, I’ve used these to get back to my accommodations after dark in other cities.

Solo Travel to Savannah hop on hop off trolley
Solo Travel to Savannah – making use of the trolleys

Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Get Where You are Going

Speaking of time, give yourself plenty to get to your activity, tour or restaurant, especially when walking.

I did a trial run, walking to the location for a night time ghost tour. I wanted to make sure I arrived on time to board the tour bus. But also, I wanted to be familiar with the route since I’d walk back to the hotel in the dark. Familiarity eases fear and reduces stress so note landmarks. And I arrived early for my lunch reservation at the Olde Pink House so that I could explore Reynolds Square and take photos without feeling rushed.

Solo Travel to Savannah olde pink house
I enjoyed lunch at the Olde Pink House.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings at All Times

Awareness is important. I’m not talking about paranoia here. Rather, use common sense and your other senses to stay aware of your location and what’s nearby and who is nearby.

Keep your head up as you explore, rather than head down with eyes on your phone, unless you are using GPS. Note landmarks and read street signs. Also, obey any signage that you see.

If something makes you nervous, move away from it. Carry a cross body bag with your phone tucked into it or an under the jacket security bag.

If you are out after dark, walk in well lit areas and join a group of people walking in the same direction, if possible.

My only after dark activity was the ghost tour. I familiarized myself with the location of the start and stop point, which was on River Street. I walked back to my hotel completely at ease. River Street is busy in the evenings so it is well lit with many restaurants and shops lining the street. Because it is 40 feet lower than Bay Street, where Indigo Hotel is located, it’s necessary to climb stairs to reach the upper street. Thankfully, on a trolley ride, the driver “just happened” to point out an outdoor elevator that goes between River and Bay Streets. It was well lit at night and kept me from having to climb steep stone steps in the dark.

Solo Travel to Savannah river street
Solo Travel to Savannah – River Street

Trust

For me, trust is a big part of solo travel. Thoughts are energy and what we think draws more of the same. I trust that all will go well and that I am safe. And I do not allow myself to give in to fear.

I have a couple of wonderful examples of how trust and following my intuition helped me in Savannah.

My first morning, as I walked to the Visitor’s Center to catch the hop on/hop off bus, I approached MLK Jr Boulevard. I remembered what my Uber driver said. Suddenly I felt I should turn left at the corner rather than walking on to the boulevard.

Immediately I spotted a kiosk for the hop on/hop off trolley! It was stop number three and it turns out it was located a block and a half from my hotel.

And on my last full day in the city, I enjoyed a long walking tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. The tour guide picked up guests at their hotels, which is a wonderful service. After the tour, I knew I wanted to see the last few Savannah squares on my list. I also knew those final three squares were far from my hotel. As the tour guide headed back into Savannah from the cemetery, he turned to me (I was riding in the front of the van with him) and asked if he could drop me off somewhere other than my hotel.

Wow! I felt so grateful. Tim dropped me off close to one of the squares and from there I easily found the other two AND had time for a leisurely walk down beautiful Jones Street.

Solo Travel to Savannah whitefield square
Whitefield Square was one of the last squares that I saw.

Don’t Hesitate to Go and Do

Just because you are traveling solo, don’t miss out on activities, tours and dining out. Go alone. It boosts confidence to set out alone, eat alone or join a group tour as a solo.

People talked to me on the hop on/hop off and the ghost tour and I talked to them. I got invited to join a table of ladies for a meal so I didn’t “have to eat alone”. I thanked them, assuring them that I enjoy dining alone.

A woman, or man, who dines alone or goes to movies and other activities alone can accomplish anything! Trust me. And go do the thing you want to do…alone.

Solo Travel to Savannah meal for one
Meal for one at the Olde Pink House.

Savannah is Safe for Solo Travel

If you are thinking of a solo trip to Savannah, I encourage you to go for it! Do your planning, follow the safety tips, trust that all is well and that you are capable and then, have fun. Go see what you want to see and do what you want to do.

Take lots of photos. And as with any travel, have a contact person at home that you stay in touch with, so your family knows you are doing well.

Do you have any questions about solo travel to Savannah? Ask in the comments below.

Solo Travel to Savannah

 

Vegan? Check out Vegan Eats in Savannah

 

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Word, Symbol and Song for 2024

 

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With this new year comes a major shift for me as I say “thank you for all you taught me” to 2023’s Year of Alignment and hello to a new word, symbol and song for 2024.

After more than 20 years of embracing a new “year of” on January 1, I’ve come to deeply appreciate both the process of receiving the word, symbol and song and also for how important these things are in guiding me the next 12 months.

This is Year of Openness. And I’m excited…and yes OPEN to what 2024 brings.

Word Symbol and Song for 2024 title

 

Year of Openness Theme

I read a book last year, during a time when alignment was at the top of my awareness. It’s called Outrageous Openness. I loved it and I’ve read it several times.

Last fall I felt drawn to the title, as a clue to this year’s theme. “Is it OUTRAGEOUS?” I asked over and over. Because, as I’ve shared many times, the word, symbol and song are given to me, rather than me selecting them. I pay attention to synchronicities and repetition for clues.

As much as I hoped my word for 2024 was Outrageous, it was not. No synchronicities or repetition confirmed that. Instead, I finally realized there was another word in the title. Perhaps it seemed too common of a word and I initially overlooked it. I asked, “Is it OPENNESS?” Yes. Yes. The confirmations came quickly and continuously.

Openness is defined as a trait that includes being open minded, creative and insightful. Open people tend toward variety and diversity, new experiences, curiosity and are often highly perceptive. I’ve already learned that openness is considered one of five core personality dimensions that drive behavior. I’m excited to learn more about that this year.

Word Symbol and Song for 2024 open
Word Symbol and Song for 2024 – exhibiting a state of openness

Year of Openness Symbol

In the last couple of years, as part of my daily practices, I often stand with my heart area open…head tipped back, arms raised and out to the side, shoulders back. I also adopted using American Sign Language for several affirmations and they also beautifully express a sense of openness.

My symbol for this year is a pair of hands, open with palms turned upward. They represent openness to give and receive, openness to let go and openness as well to invite in, openness to surrender to the flow of life.

Open hands also represent truth, kindness and generosity. They remind me that I am not clinging to anything or grasping tightly in fear or want. My symbol also serves as a reminder that my mind, heart, arms and life are open also.

Word Symbol and Song for 2024 open hands
Word Symbol and Song for 2024 – open hands

Year of Openness Song

As is typical, the song came to me last. I first heard my song via Amazon Music. I frequently let my Echo Dot select songs randomly, usually in a particular genre. “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield played most of the way through before it suddenly caught my attention. Did she just sing about living life with arms wide open?

I love Amazon Music because I can ask Alexa what song is playing. I looked up the lyrics and played the song again.

During the next week “Unwritten” played in my presence several times, popping up in unexpected places like my Instagram feed. I began to hum it unconsciously and wake up with it playing in my head. I knew this was THE song for 2024.

Listen to “Unwritten”:

My Year of Openness

Using my word, symbol and song for 2024 as guideposts, I look forward to navigating the year, open to all that comes to me.

I’ve already created a new vision board and added to my daily affirmations and mantras. I listen to my song at least once a day. And I am alert. When my word or symbol or song show up in my life it’s a tap on the shoulder to pay attention.

Today is a good example. These words caught my eyes:

Faith is a state of openness or trust. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead, they are holding tight, but the attitude of faith is to let go and become open to the truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

The word OPENNESS jumped out at me. I’ve read those words several times and I know there is a message there for me, a confirmation that I am journeying in the direction I’m supposed to journey in.

I am open…open to possibilities and opportunities, open to learning new things and growth, open to traveling to new destinations, open to helping others, open to give, open to receive in all ways.

I am living life with my mind, heart, arms and hands wide open.

Do you have a word for 2024?

Word Symbol and Song for 2024 travel

 

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The Vinchester Inn, Hermann Missouri

 

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After deciding when to visit Hermann, Missouri for the first time, my next step in planning this road trip was to find the right accommodations. As you might know, from reading my posts, I prefer a unique place to stay, something with a story connected to it, if possible.

I found it!

The Vinchester Inn, Hermann Missouri, not only provided an ideal place from which to explore the town, it has a lovely backstory. Hermann hosted a movie crew last December, for the filming of A Christmas Vintage, available to watch on Prime. This sweet inn could easily be the subject of a Hallmark Movie as well.

The Vinchester Inn title

The Vinchester Inn Details

This cozy inn, featuring 11 rooms and an event center, is located at 129 East 3rd Street in the heart of Hermann’s historic downtown. There is a parking lot behind the inn, with entrance into the main level. And parking is available on 3rd Street as well. Entrance from the street is on ground level with a flight of stairs to the main level above.

There are rooms available with king sized beds or two extra long full sized beds. Plus there is an accessible room with a queen bed. Three rooms come with a balconies that overlook 3rd Street.

Amenities include:

50” TV with DirectTV

Beekman 1802 bath amenities

Mini-fridge

Bistro table with chairs

In-room controlled heat and AC

Free Wi-Fi

Indoor, secure bike storage

Guest laundry

Filtered water (bottle filler in lobby)

Rooms are simple, clean, modern, and highly functional. While the inn has some of the most reasonable rates in town, the traditional hotel experience is elevated with plush linens and thoughtful details.

The Vinchester Inn exterior
The Vinchester Inn – 3rd Street entrance

The Vinchester Inn Story

In March 2018, sisters Hannah, Lindsey and Madison inherited the property from their dad, Rick Hessler.

According to the sisters, their dad Rick will always be the heart and soul of the inn. When he was innkeeper, Rick loved meeting and talking to new people, patronizing Hermann’s many pubs and wearing his lederhosen during Oktoberfest.

He designed and created his own original alpine-style hat many years ago, using a grey herringbone fedora, old twine and pheasant tail feathers. In honor of him and his love for Hermann, his daughters created replicas of his signature hat and started selling them around town. A new Hermann tradition was born. Guests can pick up a hat in the lobby to accompany them on winery tours. It is sure to add to the fun.

In 2021, Hannah and her husband Miles moved to Hermann to become the full time owners/operators of The Vinchester Inn. They can be spotted walking their pup, Nellie, or found at one of their other properties in town: The Schiller House – a Bed & Beverage House, The Fancy Pheasant General Store and Evergreen, a cocktail bar.

The Vinchester Inn hat
Rick’s hat and his photo, in the inn’s lobby.

What I Appreciate About The Vinchester Inn

Greg and I enjoyed a wonderful overnight stay in Hermann, at The Vinchester Inn. In no particular order, here’s what I appreciate about the inn.

Easy Check In and Check Out

We stayed at the inn midweek. I booked our room online through this LINK. Before arrival I received an emailed guide for our stay that contained everything we needed to know about checking in and checking out. I received a phone number in case I had any questions.

Texts before arrival provided more details about checking in.

The key to the room was in an envelope on the counter in the lobby. And when we checked out, we simply popped the key back in the envelope and dropped it into a box on the same counter.

Speaking of the lobby, there’s a nicely done coffee/tea bar there with a Keurig, an ice machine and a filtered water dispenser. These items are all complimentary. There’s also a selection of snacks and cold beverages in a refrigerator that are available for a small fee. The honor system is used. You drop the money into a box and take your items.

I made cups of hot tea for myself. And we filled our metal water containers a couple of times at the dispenser.

The Vinchester Inn lobby
Coffee, tea and distilled water available in the lobby of The Vinchester Inn.

Very Comfortable Room

Our double room with a balcony was so comfy and clean. The decor was simple yet cute, with framed photography featuring Hermann. The bed linens were luxurious and the bed wonderful to sink into at the end of a day of exploring the town. I don’t normally sleep well, the first night in a new location, but I did this night!

The tv is a SmartTV. I accessed my Prime Video account so that we could continue watching a British series we started at home.

The mini fridge was handy for keeping leftovers chilled. I also appreciated plugins next to the beds, for charging cell phones, and reading lights mounted over the beds.

And the bathroom was large and exceptionally clean, with a hair dryer, enough towels for two days and toiletries.

The Vinchester Inn room
Charming Vinchester Inn double room.
The Vinchester Inn bathroom
The Vinchester Inn bathroom. It also contains a tub with shower.

The Balcony

I loved the balcony with our room and made sure to book one of the rooms that had one. The weather was mild while we were there and it was fun to sit out on the balcony. In late afternoon, as the sun set and before we went to dinner, I lit the tabletop oil lamp and watched the dancing flame.

View two of the room.
View of room looking toward balcony door.
The Vinchester Inn balcony
Loved The Vinchester Inn balcony.

Bistro Table and Chairs

I enjoy having additional seating available, besides the bed. The balcony held a small table and two chairs. And a bistro table and twin chairs provided seating inside. Our room also contained an upholstered chair.

A hanging light in the corner, above the bistro table and chairs, made the area cozy.

Bistro table and chairs
Bistro table inside with two chairs.

Recycling Bins

I love an accommodation that employs eco friendly practices. The Vinchester Inn encourages recycling with bins placed conveniently outside the back entrance.

The Vinchester Inn recycling bins
Recycling bins at The Vinchester Inn.

I Highly Recommend The Vinchester Inn, Hermann Missouri

We enjoyed a wonderful stay at The Vinchester Inn. I look forward to a return visit to Hermann, hopefully next spring or perhaps for Oktoberfest. When we return, I’ll stay at The Vinchester Inn again.

If you visit this charming town, I highly recommend a stay at the inn. You won’t be disappointed!

For more info about The Vinchester Inn, click HERE. 

And for things to do in Hermann, check out this POST.

Vinchester Inn selfie
Enjoying the balcony

 

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Explore Charming Hermann MO

 

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

I just realized something this week. I’ve created a new travel tradition, staying in a different town or city every December. The last three years I’ve stayed in three different cities…Springfield, MO, Edinburgh, Scotland and now, Hermann, MO, enjoying the seasonal decor and holiday spirit in each destination.

Although I’ve visited the first two locations before, the third destination carried the thrill of being new to me.

Come explore charming Hermann MO with me and see why you will want to add this small town to your travel list.

Explore Charming Hermann MO title

Charming Hermann MO

Hermann is a small town tucked into the Missouri River Valley, in the heart of wine country. Known for its vineyards, wineries and breweries, this German town with red brick buildings and a variety of shops, restaurants and bars offers visitors plenty to do and see.

Hermann was founded in 1837 by Germans from Philadelphia, with the goal of creating the “heart of German America”. Here the founders hoped to continue traditional German culture and establish a self supporting community built upon farming, commerce and industry. The town is named after Hermann der Cherusker, a Germanic leader who defeated the Romans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.

The early settlers discovered that the area supported the growing of grapes and vineyards and wineries clustered around the town, as a result. The Prohibition shut down Hermann’s thriving wineries, however they revived in the 1960s.

Today Hermann has seven wineries in the area that produce one-third of Missouri’s wine. Designated in 1983, it is one of the first federally recognized American Viticultural Areas.

Explore Charming Hermann MO vineyard
Explore Charming Hermann MO – vineyard near the historic downtown area.

Explore Charming Hermann MO

You can spend a weekend in Hermann….or a week…and find plenty to explore in the area. I recently spent a couple of days there and look forward to a return visit.

Wineries and Breweries

The vineyards and wineries contribute to the town’s tourism, due to winery and brewery tours and tastings. Wineries to visit include Stone Hill Winery, the largest in Missouri, Hermannof Winery located on First Street in town and Adam Puchta Winery, the oldest continuously family owned winery in the US. It’s been owned and operated by the same family since 1855,

Local wines and brews are offered at Hermann restaurants, so it is easy to sample a variety.

And you can participate in the Hermann Wine Trail, riding trolleys to each of the wineries for wine tastings.

Explore Charming Hermann MO hermannof winery
The Hermannof Winery is in town, at the east end of First Street.

Restaurants and Cafes

For a small town, population 2185 in 2020, Hermann offers a wide variety of choices for meals. From cozy breakfast spots, like Ainsley’s Place to pubs such as the Corner Tavern to large restaurants like Tin Mill Restaurant you can find great food and drinks here.

Hermann is a very walkable town, with the historic district a five block by four block area. Greg and I parked our car at Vinchester Inn on Third Street and walked to nearby cafes and shops.

We enjoyed our first meal in town at 4th Street Pizza. Happily, they offer vegan options, from salads to pizza to pasta.

Explore Charming Hermann MO restaurants
Explore Charming Hermann MO – there are a variety of restaurants in town.

Walk the Town

My favorite activity in any town is to explore on foot. Hermann’s architecture and historic sites are so beautiful and interesting. On the historical tour that we took, we learned that the houses and buildings are made from brick because red clay is plentiful in the area. All the Colonial and Federal Style red brick buildings add continuity and great charm to the town.

From our comfortable inn (watch for an upcoming post on Vinchester Inn) we branched out, walking up and down the streets. For December, the weather was perfect. I enjoyed taking a LOT of photos and I loved the Christmas decor and lights throughout town.

Hermann boasts a variety of shops as well. We popped into several while we explored. My favorites on this trip: Blondie’s Toy Shop, Buy the Book Etc, Missouri’s Trading Post, Old Vine Kitchen Emporium, The Olive Branch and Ralph and Millies.

Explore Charming Hermann MO architecture
Beautiful example of the architecture in Hermann.
Explore Charming Hermann MO shops
Explore Charming Hermann MO – a cute shop on First Street with a “husband waiting area”.

Museum and Historic Tours

I always seek out a historic tour when I visit a destination for the first time. Hermann offers the Deutschheim State Historic Site Tour. One gets a glimpse of German life in the town in the mid 19th century and learns about the founding of Hermann with an extremely knowledgeable guide.

We started in the Julius Hundhausen 1890 house and then toured Pommer House, with its attached violin and piano shop, both built in 1840. And finished the two hour tour with the 1840s Strehly House with its attached winery and basement printing press. Hermann’s first German newspaper was published weekly here. Tours are offered daily from April – October and Thursday through Sunday, November – March.

Museums include the City of Hermann Caboose Museum, the Hermann Fire Company Museum and Historic Hermann Museum and German School. Most of the wineries and breweries offer tours of their facilities as well. And Hermann Farm’s mission is to educate the public on the significance of Missouri’s winemaking heritage.

Explore Charming Hermann MO tours
The Pommer House and garden.

Hermann Riverfront

Nestled along the Missouri River, Hermann relied on that wide, flowing river to survive during its early settlement years. Today the riverfront offers a place to picnic or play or sit in benches and watch the river roll by. There are public restrooms here and a covered pavilion with picnic tables.

Explore Charming Hermann MO riverfornt
Explore Charming Hermann MO – riverfront

A Christmas Vintage

Last year, actors and camera crews and directors descended on Hermann, to film a movie. The quaint town provided the perfect backdrop for the story that involves two competing winery families.

A Christmas Vintage released a couple of weeks ago, on Prime. I watched the movie before visiting Hermann and had fun walking around locating where scenes were shot. We enjoyed talking to the inhabitants of Hermann about the movie too. Many locals served as extras in the film and actual shops and restaurants were used.

The community theater is showing the movie this weekend. I would love to see it on a big screen.

If you can’t make it to Hermann now…watch A Christmas Vintage to see just how cute the town is.

Explore Charming Hermann MO movie
A Christmas Vintage was filmed in Hermann last year. it’s available to watch on Prime.

Festivals

Throughout the year, Hermann offers festivals that are fun for the locals and bring in visitors.

March

Wurstfest brings together professional meat processors from all over Missouri. Activities include amateur sausage making competitions, kraut making classes, German music and dancing and the famous wiener dog races.

April

For the Hermann Antique Show, antique dealers around the world gather to bring the best in country antiques.

May

Maifest is an old fashioned celebration of spring and Hermann’s German Heritage. Enjoy parades, music, singing, dancing and good food. Children play games and participate in Maypole dances while visitors explore beer gardens and the outdoor market.

June

The Hermann Garden Tour features private gardens. And the Hermann Plein Air Festival takes place this month as well.

July

Freedomfest celebrates the 4th with food booths, games, parades and music at the riverfront.

August

Experience the Missouri Bourbon Festival hosted by Copper Mule Distillery and the Hermann Blue Oval Rally to show off Model A Fords to Mustangs.

September

Hogshead Smokefest, an annual charity event, features an amateur BBQ competition.

October

Every weekend in October Hermann hosts Oktoberfest with German Heritage, good food and good beer, wine and music. The Arts & Crafts Festival takes place mid October as well. And at the end of the month is the Witches & Wine Festival.

November – December

And for the six weeks leading into Christmas, Hermann celebrates the season with German holiday traditions. a parade, Christmas markets, Carriage Rides and many other holiday events.

Explore Charming Hermann MO park
The Hofgarten where one of the Christmas Markets sets up on the weekends.

Have you heard of Hermann MO?

I think you will agree, Hermann MO is a fun town to explore. The peak season is March through the end of October with special holiday events in December. January and February is considered the off season, allowing the town to rest and prepare for a busy time ahead.

With all of the festivals, there’s something for everyone here. And in between those festivals, the town itself offers a beautiful setting for a weekend getaway.

Check out the Visit Hermann website and then let me know what you’d enjoy most in this charming little German town.

Explore Charming Hermann MO cask
Wine cask from the 1700s.

Enjoy Edinburgh in Winter and Springfield MO

 

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Hotel Indigo Savannah

 

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I first stayed at a Hotel Indigo on my first trip to Scotland. My cousins and I started our exploration of that country in Glasgow and we were all impressed and pleased with our accommodations.

When planning my recent trip to Savannah Georgia, I searched for accommodations in the historic district, within walking distance of River Street. When Hotel Indigo Savannah popped up, I knew I had found my place to stay. And, it was steps away from River Street and the riverfront.

Discover why I appreciate this hotel so much and see my favorite amenities.

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About Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo, a part of IHG Hotels & Resorts, is a chain of boutique hotels scattered around the world. Because this brand typically locates in neighborhoods at the heart of cities, Hotel Indigo offers lots of distinct personalities.

Hotel Indigo prefers to repurpose an existing local building, keeping the original architecture as much as possible while celebrating the stories and traditions of the people in the neighborhood.

You’ll find inclusive environments, art from local artists, ingredients sourced from local producers and events that partner with the community they are part of.

Rooms are comfortable, with plush bedding and elevated touches. Bathrooms are roomy with walk-in showers and well lit vanities and mirrors. They also offered community rooms for creativity, collaboration and celebration and bars and restaurants for gatherings over drinks or meals.

Complimentary wifi, 24 hour business centers and 24 hour fitness centers make a stay here perfect.

Hotel Indigo Savannah lobby
Hotel Indigo Savannah lobby

Hotel Indigo Savannah

Since each Hotel Indigo is unique, the one in Savannah looked very different from the one in Glasgow, although both offer comparable amenities.

Known to locals as the Grand Lady on the Bay, the Hotel Indigo Savannah building originally belonged to 19th century merchant Simon Guckenheimer. The warehouse stored dry goods and some of the South’s best products such as canned peaches and tobacco. During the 1940s and 50s, a grocery store and the city’s first coffeehouse occupied part of the first floor.

This charming boutique hotel is located in the heart of the historic district, on the corner of Bay and Barnard Streets. River Street and the river front are steps away along with City Market, Ellis Square and many restaurants, bars and shops. Learn more about the hotel HERE.

Hotel Indigo Savannah exterior
At night lights illuminate the artistic panels on the hotel.

My Favorite Hotel Indigo Savannah Amenities

I carefully research accommodations before I travel, so I had a good idea of what to expect at Hotel Indigo Savannah. I was not disappointed.

These are the amenities, in no particular order, that I especially appreciate about this hotel.

Location, Location, Location

As a long time realtor, I know the importance of location. And as a female solo traveler, who explores on foot, I knew I wanted a hotel located in Savannah’s historic district, close to the riverfront, restaurants and squares.

Hotel Indigo Savannah ticked all those boxes. The riverfront really is just across Bay Street. And I could easily walk to squares, restaurants, shops and stop number three for the hop on/hop off trolley and stops for Savannah’s free trolley system.

Using my Illustrated Savannah Map each evening, I planned out where I wanted to go the next day and did not have any issues at all getting around.

Hotel Indigo Savannah desk
Hotel Indigo Desk where I studied my map every evening.

Extremely Comfortable Room

I booked a premium double queen room that included a mini fridge and a coffee/hot tea maker.

Up on the 4th floor, I had a great view toward the riverfront. I found the bed super comfy and the room and bathroom pretty and most importantly, clean.

I only turned on the large screen tv twice. Interestingly, when I turned it on the second time there was a show on about…Savannah! Because I was there in October, the show highlighted Savannah’s haunted reputation.

The sink is located in the room across from the bathroom. I loved the lighted mirror. A hairdryer, ironing board and iron and toiletries are included. My first morning there I discovered that the hair dryer didn’t work. A call to the front desk resulted in a new hair dryer delivered to my door in minutes.

Hotel Indigo Savannah room
Very comfortable Hotel Indigo Savannah room.
Hotel Indigo Savannah bathroom
Walk in shower in the bathroom.
Hotel Indigo Savannah vanity
I loved the lighted mirror. At night I could turn it to nightlight.

Dog Friendly

Hotel Indigo Savannah is dog friendly, allowing pets to stay in the rooms.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a good thing or a bad thing, especially when I first walked into the lobby and saw MANY dogs with their humans.

However, I can happily say that I never heard a dog bark or shared an elevator with one even. Perhaps all guests with dogs are grouped on the same floor. In the lobby pup snacks are available along with fresh water.

Hotel Indigo Savannah dog friendly
Hotel Indigo Savannah welcomes guests AND their dogs.

Free Business Center

I didn’t fly with my laptop and it turned out I didn’t need it. However I was glad to know that Hotel Indigo Savannah provides a business space with computers if a guest needs one. That is such a convenience.

Hotel Indigo Savannah biz center
Convenient biz center off of the lobby.

Restaurant, Bar and Cozy Seating Areas

Hotel Indigo Savannah makes get togethers easy with its restaurant and bar, Five Oaks Taproom. Taking inspiration from the building’s days as a grocery store, the taproom’s booths resemble wooden crates.

They use locally sourced ingredients and drinks, serving only brews from Georgia. Beyond the taproom, attractive, comfortable chairs are grouped to encourage lively conversations or a place to enjoy a snack while reading a book.

Full confession. I stayed SO busy during my time in Savannah that I only took photos in this space before heading up to my room after full days. In the evenings, this space was alive with people enjoying drinks and meals.

Hotel Indigo Savannah seating area
Such a fun gathering place in Hotel Indigo Savannah.

Outdoor Gathering Area

You can take the fun outdoors at Hotel Indigo Savannah. Reached from the interior, this outdoor space holds high top tables and chairs. Surrounded by flowers and plants it is a great place to enjoy mild temperatures while having a drink.

Again, I never utilized this space, but I liked that it existed. Outside this area are benches for waiting for an Uber or a pick up from a tour guide. The attendant on duty always offered me free cold bottled water if I exited the building this way.

I also appreciated the water container in the lobby, for filled water bottles. And a small store right off of the lobby made it easy to grab bottled drinks, a snack or a toothbrush.

Outdoor space
Pretty outdoor space.

Have You Visited Savannah?

If you are planning a trip to Savannah, I highly recommend this unique hotel.

Checking in and out is a breeze. And the staff is helpful, attentive and quick to respond.

I look forward to a return stay at Hotel Indigo Savannah and discovering more of this brand’s locations in cities I want to visit.

Need help planning a trip to beautiful, historically rich Savannah? I’d love to arrange your travel. Fill out this form and I’ll be in touch!

More Posts About Savannah

Fun Things to Do in Savannah

Ghost Stories from Savannah

Vegan Eats in Savannah

 

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Fun Things to Do in Savannah

 

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Looking for a beautiful city to visit with a walkable historic district?

After visiting Charleston and enjoying my stay there, I added Savannah to my travel list. I’ve discovered that I love exploring cities with a lot of history and the colorful stories that contribute to that history. And if it’s easily walked, that’s even better, as I usually fly to my destinations and prefer not to rent a car.

Savannah did not disappoint. I spent four nights and parts of five days there as a solo traveler and created wonderful memories.

Check out these fun things to do in Savannah and plan your trip.

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Ride the Hop On Hop Off Trolley

There are ample historical tours to choose from in Savannah. However, my favorite way to get to know a new to me city is to ride the hop on hop off trolley, if there is one.

My first full day in Savannah began with hopping on the green and orange trolley at stop number three, which happened to be two blocks from my hotel.

The Savannah Hop On Hop Off Trolley offers a 90 minute narrated tour of the historic district, passing by 100 points of interest and making 15 stops. I made a complete circuit before beginning the “hopping off and back on” part.

It’s a great way to get an overview of the city and learn interesting facts and historical stories about Savannah. A trolley comes by about every 15 minutes so you can get back on the next one or explore for a while and catch a later trolley.

One or two day passes are available.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah tours
Fun things to do in Savannah – hop on hop off trolley tour

Ghost Tour

In addition to a historical tour, I enjoy a ghost tour too. You hear different stories on a ghost tour and learn about the darker events that shaped the community.

For atmosphere, I like to do night time ghost tours, although many companies offer daylight times as well for families.

In the most haunted city in the US, I chose to do the Savannah Ghosts & Gravestones Trolley Tour. It is informative and very entertaining. The tour lasts about 75 minutes and includes two stops: the Andrew Low House and River Street’s Perkins and Sons Ship Chandlery.

The guide boards the trolley in costume and shares stories with wonderful dramatic effect. Our guide, Helena, was both funny and dramatic.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah ghost tour
Fun things to do in Savannah – ghost tour

Find Savannah’s Squares

One of Savannah’s unique characteristics is that the city was designed around 24 squares. Today, 22 of those squares remain, spread in a grid across the historic district.

Each square is different. Some have monuments or statues at their centers, others water features and at least two offer gazebos to sit in. All contain shady live oaks, plants, flowers and benches to people watch from. Gorgeous old homes and buildings containing businesses, shops and cafes surround the squares.

I used this illustrated map of Savannah to navigate through the city, finding and photographing each square. The hop on hop off trolleys drive by many of them as well.

Watch for a future post about the Savannah squares and their unique stories.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah squares
Explore the 22 squares in Savannah. This is Crawford Square.

Forsyth Park

This 30 acre park, named for Georgia’s 33rd governor, is a beautiful spot to take a break from exploring.

The city’s most famous fountain is here, installed in 1858 and modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Benches surround the fountain and you’ll find artists, musicians, families and dog walkers clustered around it as well.

Further into the park are children’s playgrounds, a concert and event space and a fragrant garden for the blind. Continuing south the park opens up into large grassy areas for playing, napping or sunning. Basketball and tennis courts hug the southern edge while another strip hosts the Saturday Farmer’s Market. You can also find Brighter Day Natural Foods there and the Sentient Bean, serving coffee and delicious treats.

Forsyth Park is conveniently one of the trolley stops. Or you can walk there although it is about a 20 minute walk from River Street.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah forsyth park
Fun things to do in Savannah – Forsyth Park fountain

River Street

River Street is Savannah’s waterfront destination for fun, food and nightlife. It runs along the broad Savannah River with shops, art galleries, cafes, bars and hotels lining the opposite side.

Musicians play along the waterfront, Artists sell their work. People sit to watch the huge barges go by, loaded with colorful containers.

In the 1700s, Savannah’s port exported cotton from River Street. The huge cotton warehouses there were eventually converted into the hotels and shops that occupy those spaces now.

I spent my first evening in Savannah wandering along River Street. My first meal was at Olympia Cafe there. And my last walk before I left for the airport was along the waterfront, watching the sea gulls circle overhead and listening to the sounds of the river.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah river street
Stroll, dine, grab a drink, shop and have fun on River Street.

Savannah City Market

City Market is a four block area containing 19 restored warehouses. Those buildings house unique shops, art galleries, cafes and pubs. It’s a colorful spot to have a cup of tea and a scone or a pint of ale, purchase gifts for family back home or browse through art by local artists.

From morning wake up coffee to afternoon entertainment to dinner dates, City Market has lots to offer every day.

The trolley stops here, for easy access to all the fun.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah city market
Fun things to do in Savannah – City Market

Jones Street

One of my favorite activities in Savannah was exploring the city. Walking along cobblestone streets, sitting in the squares, looking at gorgeous houses and buildings, fills my soul with incredible joy.

While out walking, be sure to stroll along Jones Street, considered the most beautiful street in Savannah.

Stretching a mile long, in the center of the historic district, Jones Street is lined with houses and buildings constructed in the 1850s to 1880s. Live oaks shade the homes and overhang the wide street.

It’s an idyllic street to wander down, to really appreciate Savannah’s architecture.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah jones street
Wander down historic Jones Street, with camera ready.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Visiting this old cemetery is a must, while in Savannah. It’s filled with gothic monuments and statues, towering live oaks, and stately headstones. And of course, so much history.

Bonaventure Cemetery was formed from 70 acres of the original Bonaventure Plantation when cemeteries in the city neared capacity. It was designed as a traditional Victorian cemetery with grassy areas for families of the deceased to gather for picnics.

Many notable people of Savannah are buried here including musician and singer Johnny Mercer, little Gracie Watson who died as a child, Oscar Wilde and city officials.

Scenes were shot here for the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

I enjoyed the tour with Bonaventure Cemetery Walking Tour with Transportation. The cemetery lies outside the city, making it too far to walk there. This tour company provides pickup at your hotel, which was so convenient. Plus Tim, the owner and guide, is extremely knowledgeable about Bonaventure.

Fun Things to Do in Savannah bonaventure cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery is a must see.

More Fun Things to Do in Savannah

There are so many fun things to do in Savannah that I didn’t get to all of them.

Savannah has museums, historic houses open for tours such as the Mercer House, made famous in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil book and film, beautiful churches to peek inside of, river cruises, Tybee Island and many other points of interest. The variety of restaurants, pubs and shops is tremendous and every building, every park has a story and usually a ghost or two haunting it.

Savannah is a fascinating city that I will certainly return to, soon.

Have you explored Savannah? What was your favorite fun thing to do?

The Olde Pink House
The Olde Pink House, the oldest house in Savannah, now a restaurant.

 

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And as a travel agent, I make a small commission when you purchase a tour through my Viator links, also at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

 

American Horror Story Halloween Party

 

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My family enjoyed the annual family Halloween party on October 28. With a new theme, fresh costumes and lots of delicious food, the party was a huge success.

Take a look at the total house transformation for the American Horror Story Halloween Party…if you dare!

American Horror Story Halloween Party title

Meet the Hosts

This yearly party is created and hosted by my sister Debbie, niece Ashley, nephew in law Jon and their children.

This clever, resourceful and hard working bunch goes way beyond the typical Halloween party! Adhering to a new theme each year, Debbie, Ashley, Jon and kids transform their home, room by room. Furniture is stored away and personal items removed, to create a blank canvas for their work.

They build, repurpose and create all the decor from wall coverings to life sized mannequins to the smallest macabre details to create an authentic experience. They begin preparations early in the year, scouring estate sales and discount stores, procuring what they need. Using those items as a base, they add to them or remove pieces to shape their creations.

Additionally, the ample food buffet that they prepare matches the theme.

These family members put a LOT of time and effort and not a small amount of money into this party and it shows. I’ve said for years that they could make big bucks doing parties professionally. At this time, everything they do is for love and fun.

American Horror Story Halloween Party hosts
American Horror Story Halloween Party – hosts Ashley, Kaleb and Debbie
And Jon
And Jon! Other two adult children pictured in a costume photo later in the post.

2023 Party Theme

This year’s party theme was American Horror Story.

This anthology television series, which began in 2011, features different characters and locations that showcase varying aspects of horror. Each year  focuses on a different story. Created by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, the series has attracted big name stars over the years such as Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Emma Roberts, Zachary Quinto,  Wes Bentley and Dylan McDermott.

American Horror Story is currently in its 12th season. You can watch in on Hulu.

For the family Halloween party, guests were encouraged to dress as any character from any of the seasons, giving a wealth of possibilities! Our hosts decorated different rooms in their house, corresponding with the first five  seasons of the series.

As you see from the pinnable title photo, Freak Show decor welcomed guests into the home. Lights, music, fog and mannequins contributed to the creepy vibe!

Enter the American Horror Story Halloween Party…if you dare!

American Horror Story Halloween Party hallway
American Horror Story Halloween Party – even the hallway gets a makeover.

Season One – Murder House

Synopsis: Ben Harmon, his wife Vivien and their daughter Violet move across country to get a fresh start in life. They purchase and move into an old house with a dark, troubling past: the previous occupants were the victims of a murder/suicide.

In fact, many people were murdered within the house. The family experiences a series of horrific, twisted events through this first season.

The living room became the basement from Murder House. Note the incredible details!

American Horror Story - Murder House
American Horror Story Halloween Party – Season One Murder House
Guests in the Murder House
My nephew, niece in law and their daughter Lola in the Murder House.

Season Two – Asylum

Synopsis: Briarcliff, a former tuberculosis hospital, is now an insane asylum run by the Catholic Church. Sister Jude Martin is the day administrator to a host of seriously disturbed patients. There’s something sinister, something secret, going on in the asylum. The in house doctor treats patients during the night and disposes of their bodies immediately when they die.

The dining room transformed into the asylum rec room.

American Horror Story Halloween Party - asylum rec room
Season Two Asylum rec room. My mom getting comfy there.
The Barnes kids, in costume.
The Barnes kids, in costume, in the rec room.
Aubrey and London in the asylum rec room.
Aubrey and London in the asylum rec room.

Season Three – Coven

Synopsis: A young girl named Zoe discovers she possesses a genetic affliction tracing back to Salem, Massachusetts. She is sent to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a mysterious boarding school in New Orleans dedicated to protecting the remaining descendants from this unique bloodline.

The sunroom became a Louisiana swamp, where one of the series’ characters lives.

American Horror Story Halloween Party season three swamp
Season three swamp.
The Coven
The Coven includes me, my mom, niece, daughters and granddaughters.

Season Four – Freak Show

Co-joined twins Bette and Dot join a circus in Jupiter, Florida, after their mother’s shocking murder. Show owner Elsa Mars rents a farmer’s field and sets up tents for the show. The community does not welcome the troupe and few people attend the show, especially after a strange series of disappearances and murders by Twisty the Clown.

The family room/den morphed into a striped tent.

American Horror Story Halloween Party freakshow
American Horror Story Halloween Party – Freak Show tent
American Horror Story Halloween Party eating in the tent.
American Horror Story Halloween Party – Greg and Finley eating in the tent.

Season Five – Hotel

Synopsis: A pair of sisters from Sweden check into the mysterious Hotel Cortez, a place known for its many paranormal activities. While there they encounter a Los Angeles detective who is investigating the brutal murder of a couple in the hotel. This season ties in with Murder House and Coven.

The upstairs landing, hallway, a bathroom and two bedrooms became Hotel Cortez.

American Horror Story Halloween Party hotel room
American Horror Story Halloween Party – Hotel Cortez
Secret room at Hotel Cortez
Secret room at Hotel Cortez.

That’s a Wrap for This Year

We had such a fun afternoon and evening at the family Halloween party! As always, it was fun to tour the house to see this year’s amazing transformation and to chat with family and friends.

I don’t know what next year’s theme is yet…but I look forward to attending the party, in costume of course!

Did your family gather for a Halloween party this year?

Yearly tradition
A yearly tradition, the sibling photo with my brother and sisters.

Check out last year’s party!

Same house, different theme.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

 

Get an American Horror Story tee! Click image or this link.

 

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Ghost Stories from Savannah

 

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Savannah is a beautiful, fascinating, historic city in southern Georgia. Home to 22 squares, cobblestone streets and a bustling river front, Savannah is filled with southern charm and hospitality. It is also considered one of the most haunted cities in the US. Savannah claims so many haunted locations, in fact, that I had a difficult time narrowing my stories down to five.

Check out these ghost stories from Savannah. And discover the possible reasons for the city’s haunted reputation.

Ghost Stories from Savannah title

Why is Savannah so Haunted?

Savannah was Georgia’s first city and it has a long, and often somber, past. According to historians and paranormal researchers, the following reasons contribute to the high number of hauntings in Savannah.

Many catastrophic battles occurred in the area. From the Siege of Savannah in 1779 to Sherman’s capture of the city during the Civil War, battles left behind energetic residue and hundreds dead around the city.

Yellow Fever epidemics in the 1800s decimated the population in Savannah, leaving restless spirits clinging to their former homes.

Deadly fires swept through the city in 1796 and again in 1820, destroying almost 900 houses and buildings and resulting in many untimely deaths.

Savannah was heavily dependent upon slave labor and the port played a part in the horrific Atlantic slave trade.

And, Savannah has known its share of mysterious murders, from the death of Danny Hansford in the Mercer House to the controversial deaths of three sisters in a house near Taylor Square. Souls who met such unfair deaths often stay earth bound.

Now, five of Savannah’s most haunted locations.

Ghost Stories from Savannah moon river brewing company
Ghost Stories from Savannah – Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Today a place to grab a hand crafted beer or dine on excellent food, Moon River Brewing Company resides in what began as the first hotel in Savannah. Built in 1821, by Elazer Early, over the years the building also offered the first post office in the city, served as a warehouse for lumber and coal, housed the dying during Yellow Fever epidemics and eventually became a supply store with a printing press. It is estimated that hundreds of fever patients died on the upper floors of the building.

The building then sat empty until the mid 1990s, when it was renovated and turned into the brew pub. Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have shot episodes here, helping it to develop the reputation as the most haunted building in Savannah. Moon River Brewing Company boasts so many ghosts that I’ll take the building floor by floor, sharing some of the stories.

Moon River Brewing Company Basement

Toby is one of the most well known ghosts in the building and he prefers to haunt the basement. This ghost prowls the underground space and likes to brush up against people playing in the basement billiards room. Sometimes he gives more of a hard push! Patrons and staff report sudden cold spots in the basement, bottles falling off of shelves or flying across the room and being touched and then realizing no one is near.

Moon River Brewing Company Main Floor

A man named James Stark was shot and killed on this floor by Dr. Minus. His angry spirit makes bottles fly and he is deemed responsible for more violent acts such as grabbing, hitting and pushing people.

In the main floor dining area, guests report being touched when no one is around. Women complain about getting locked in stalls in the restroom or of feeling extreme cold there.

Moon River Brewing Company Top Floors

The top floors in the building are considered the most haunted. A full body apparition, known as the woman in white, appears here. She is referred to as Mrs. Johnson.

The third floor is the site of the yellow fever hospital. Many, many children died here of the disease. Workers and visitors report hearing children talking and playing on this floor or running up and down the halls. This floor is so haunted that construction workers do not like to work here. Some have complained of being pushed on the stairs. One said his wife was pushed so hard she fell all the way down the stairs. He quit that day.

There is also a dark energy that permeates the fourth floor, at the top of the building. More fever victims died here and perhaps their feelings of hopeless and despair remain behind.

Ghost Stories from Savannah kehoe house
Ghost Stories from Savannah – Kehoe House

Kehoe House

This Queen Ann mansion was built on Columbia Square in 1892 by William Kehoe. This enterprising Irishman made his fortune in iron and became one of Savannah’s most prominent businessmen. His home showcased his iron trade. Much of the exterior details are made of iron.

The Kehoes had ten children. It is reported that two of those children, twin boys, died in the house, possibly of yellow fever. Later the mansion became a funeral home and it was owned for a short time by football player Joe Namath. Today it is a popular bed and breakfast that does not hide the fact that it’s haunted.

Guests and staff report the sound of ghost children playing in the house. Several staff members tell of hearing a boy’s voice in an empty room, asking for someone to come play with him. A guest in the front sitting room heard a disembodied voice whisper in his ear as the room suddenly grew cold.

Other paranormal phenomenon  includes  the scent of perfumes from ages past wafting through hallways and bedrooms, lights flashing on and off, doors locking and unlocking, shadows flitting by and the doorbell ringing when no one is there. Guests also report feeling someone touch them, waking them from sleep. Others wake up feeling someone unseen sitting on the bed and noticing an indentation appear on the bed.

Ghost Stories from Savannah colonial park cemetery
Ghost Stories from Savannah – Colonial Park Cemetery

Colonial Park Cemetery

Called one of the most haunted locations in Savannah, locals nicknamed this cemetery Paranormal Central.

The oldest burial ground in Savannah, Colonial Park Cemetery opened in 1750 and within its six acres lie more than 10,000 bodies…not all of them at rest. Visitors walking past the cemetery at night report shadowy shapes and ghostly figures moving among the gravestones and a greenish mist hovering around vaults.

Visitors report strange or dark energy in the area. Before the cemetery began to close its gates at night, voodoo practitioners performed ceremonies there. And grave robbers disturbed graves to obtain human bones. Before it was outlawed in Savannah, duelists squared off on cemetery grounds and the surrounding area. Often the duels resulted in one or both men dying. All of these occurrences created low vibe energy that contribute to hauntings.

Ghost hunters using recorders pick up ghostly voices and sounds from within the cemetery, especially in the northeast corner.

Ghost Stories from Savannah sorrel weed house
Ghost Stories from Savannah – Sorrel-Weed House

Sorrel-Weed House

Located on the edge of Madison Square, the Sorrel-Weed House is stunning. Built in 1841 in the Greek Revival style, the house was constructed by Francis Sorrel and later passed to his son, Moxley.

When Francis’ first wife passed away he married her younger sister Matilda AND continued an ongoing affair with a young slave girl named Molly. Francis even moved Molly into special quarters he made in the carriage house.

When Matilda found out about Molly, she leapt to her death from the house’s second floor balcony. Two weeks later, Molly hung herself in the carriage house. There are many reported paranormal occurrences in this house.

Matilda and Molly haunt the house, appearing as dark shadows walking through rooms or caught as reflections in mirrors. Visitors report the sensation of nausea or chocking while on the property and others enter the house with a fully charged phone and leave with a dead battery. People claim to hear voices coming from the empty living room at the front of the house. The voices stop when anyone enters the room.

Another contributing factor to this location’s haunting is that the Siege of Savannah, a very bloody American Revolution battle, took place here leaving more than 1000 dead. Some believe there are fallen soldiers buried beneath the house. Passersby at night claim to hear the sounds of that long ago battle and feel a dark energy.

Ghost Stories from Savannah andrew low house
Ghost Stories from Savannah – Andrew Low House

Andrew Low House

Andrew Low built his house in 1848 for his wife and growing family. Unfortunately, his wife died just a year later, in childbirth. Andrew remarried three years later and remained in the house until his death.

William Low inherited the house and he and his wife Juliette lived there until she caught him with his mistress. After the divorce, Juliette kept the house and lived there until her death in 1927.

The ghosts of the Andrew Low House are considered the friendliest in Savannah.

Andrew loved his home and roams it still. He is often spotted in a rocking chair in his study, slowing rocking back and forth. Some visitors only see the chair rocking on its own. Staff members in the house have heard the sound of someone coming up the basement stairs and then continuing on throughout the house. Except, no one can be found.

Visitors sometimes see Juliette lying peacefully on the bed in the room where she died. And Tom, the faithful family butler, can be heard walking down the hall, checking doors and rooms. He is known to move items around or put furniture back where it once sat, when he was alive.

Guests to the house also report catching ghostly images reflected in mirrors.

Would You Visit Savannah?

With its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the US, would you visit Savannah?

For me, that was one of the draws to Savannah…the hauntings and the history. It is a beautiful old city, full of charming ambience and perhaps, characters from the past.

Don’t let that stop you from exploring all that Savannah has to offer. As a solo traveler, I did well there. And yes, I had a few ghostly encounters of my own. I’m an intuitive however, sensitive to spirit, experiencing unusual things wherever I go.

I know this…I will most definitely return to this city.

Andrew Low Study
Andrew Low Study

Check out the rest of this year’s ghost stories:

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

Bigfoot Stories from Blue Ridge GA

 

And, check out my favorite map of the Savannah Historic District. I used this fun map EVERY day while there.

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The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

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When a business related trip took me to Northwest Arkansas recently, I built in time to visit Peel Mansion and Museum, in Bentonville. I’ve wanted to see this grand old house for several years, however I usually stop by too late in the afternoon to get a tour.

This time, Greg and I squeaked in on the last available tour of the day. I’m so glad we did. This beautiful home has been faithfully renovated and restored, in a way that preserves the authenticity of the house’s past.

Not only was it fun to tour the house and gardens, taking photos as I went, it was also interesting to learn more about the family.

For spooky October, this is installment two, the ghosts of Peel Mansion.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion title

Peel Mansion History

Col. Samuel W. Peel built his mansion in 1875 and name it The Oaks, in honor of the many oak trees surrounding it. It is a two story stucco and brick masonry building, with a three story hip roof and a rectangular tower at the front of the house.

Samuel purchased the  180 acres in 1872, promising his wife Mary Emaline that he would build her a house that rivaled the ones she remembered from her childhood in Alabama. This Italianate style mansion, with its 14 rooms, fulfilled that promise. Eight unique fireplaces grace the home, each created as a work of art by John C Sheffield. Double front doors open to a covered veranda.

The ground level features a large entry with stairs that lead upward, a ladies’ parlor, designed by Mary as a place to receive guests, Samuel’s study, where he worked diligently on his business papers and a formal dining room. The kitchen is separate from the rest of the house, for safety reasons.

Upstairs there are bedrooms for the parents, daughters and sons, a sitting room and an extra room that over the years served as a nursery and later a sewing room.

A steep flight of stairs leads from the second floor to the attic.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion exterior
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – side view
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion dining room
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – dining room

The Peel Family

Samuel Peel was born in Arkansas in 1831. He was a lawyer, politician and jurist who served in the US House of Representatives from 1883 until 1893. When Arkansas seceded from the Union, he served in the Confederate Army, ultimately reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He married Mary Emaline Berry in 1853 and they had nine children, eight of which survived until adulthood.

Mary requested the addition of cellar rooms beneath her new home. During the Civil War, she saw houses burned to the ground, including her own home at that time. And she witnessed starvation among her neighbors and she and her children experienced hunger as well. As a result of those difficult times, her cellars were always filled with food from her huge garden, along with apples from the orchard. Mary was known as a generous woman who shared that abundance of food with others.

Mary died in 1906 and Samuel moved into a smaller house, shortly after. Over the years the home passed through several owners and began to decline. Eventually it sat empty and neglected and was under consideration for demolition when the Walton Family purchased it and restored the house, preserving its history.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion parents' bedroom
The parents’ bedroom upstairs
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion Bucky
Bucky the rocking horse was loved by four generations of Peel children. It has a permanent spot in the house.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

There are three ghosts associated with Peel Mansion. Staff, tour guides and visitors frequently report paranormal experiences.

The Ghost of Samuel Peel

It seems that at least a couple of the Peel family members liked the house so much that they chose to stay around.

Colonel Peel makes his presence known in various rooms throughout the house. Primarily, however, he is seen or heard in his study where he spent much of his time in life working, meeting with dignitaries or reading.

Samuel is seen as a shadowy figure prowling about the house or he is experienced through loud, unexplained sounds and footsteps.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion Samuel's study
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – Samuel’s Study

The Ghost of Minnie Bell Peel

The other family ghost is one of the daughters, Minnie Belle.

She is spotted in the house and described as a playful young woman wearing white. And she is quite musical. Minnie played the piano in Mary’s parlor for guests and also for her father, who especially enjoyed his daughter’s musical abilities.

Tour guides and visitors report hearing the piano playing in the empty room. However, if anyone enters the parlor while the piano is playing, the music stops abruptly.

Interestingly, the piano is known as a coffin piano. The top closes, creating a flat surface for a coffin to rest upon. Back in the Peels’ time, a loved one’s body was kept in the house after death, so that family and friends could visit and pay their respects to the deceased. The front parlor was the most common room for the dead to lie in, hence the piano that doubled as a table for a coffin.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion coffin piano
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – the piano in Mary’s parlor

The Ghost of Margery English

The English family purchased the Peel Mansion in the 1920s and moved into the home. The family included four children, two sons and two daughters…twins Margery and Elizabeth.

As a child, Margery fell ill. Eventually she suffered from a ruptured appendix. A local doctor and nurse attended her at home, performing surgery in her upstairs bedroom on a makeshift operating table. The infection from the appendix was so severe that the doctor gave Margery little hope of recovery and didn’t even close the incision. The nurse cared for the young girl until she passed away, 10 days later.

Margery’s body lay in her bedroom, covered with a sheet. And this is where the story gets strange. Five hours later, Elizabeth saw the sheet move and cried out for help. Margery, it turns out, was not dead. According to her account, she felt herself leave her body and move toward a bright light, however she was not allowed to go beyond that point and eventually returned to her body.

The Ghost Girl

Margery survived, grew up and married. She brought her husband to the home she grew up in, now owned by Lee Allen. Margery’s room, where she had surgery and died, was locked. Mr. Allen explained that the room was haunted by a little girl that cried and they didn’t use that space. Supposedly, the room remained locked for 40 years.

Staff and visitors hear a girl crying in that bedroom still. And some report experiencing a sudden drop in temperature in the room and feeling a sharp pinch on the arm by invisible fingers.

This story is an unusual one in that the girl died, but did not remain dead and yet there is a haunting associated with the room. Could it be the energy of extreme grief that permeates the room? And perhaps the crying comes from Margery’s twin sister.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion girls room
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – girls’ bedroom

My Experience in the Peel Mansion

I didn’t do any research on the house until after my tour. And I deliberately did not ask our tour guide about ghosts in the house.

As an intuitive, this is what I felt.

Mary’s parlor felt odd to me…like I was on alert and watchful eyes followed me. I did not hear the piano play however I felt drawn to it. My scalp tingled, which is my sign that benign spirits are present.

I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary in Samuel’s study.

Upstairs though, I felt a great heaviness as I walked into the girls’ bedroom. Greg and I were alone in this room, which houses a collection of vintage dolls. I don’t like dolls. But the heavy feeling didn’t come from them. The energy in this room made my scalp tingle even more and I could hear a faint clicking sound in the room…disturbingly like dolls eyes snapping open and closing.

Sadness permeated the room. Reading about Margery after the tour I thought of her illness, her near death experience, the grief of her family and then the girl’s year long recovery. Those strong emotions seem to linger in the room.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion gardens
The gardens surrounding the mansion are beautiful.

Visit Peel Mansion

If you are in Northwest Arkansas, stop by this beautiful, interesting home. Tours are free. Peel Mansion is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 until 3:00 with the last tour beginning at 2:30.

The property, which contains the house, a gift shop and botanical gardens, is located at 400 S Walton Boulevard, Bentonville, Arkansas. After your tour, visit the charming downtown square for lunch or dinner.

Have you visited a real haunted mansion before? Where was it located?

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

 

Check out last week’s spooky post:

Bigfoot Stories from Blue Ridge GA