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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10 Tips for Long Flights

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I love flying. Do you? (If you have flight anxiety, check out this post for ways to overcome that.)

I love the high energy of anticipation in airports, how quickly one can cross a country or an ocean and the sense of adventure that comes with rising into the air.

However, those treks from coast to coast across the US or reaching those international destinations might require hours of sitting on an airplane. To make these trips more enjoyable and less stressful, try these 10 tips for long flights.

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10 Tips for Long Flights

Long flights of 6 or more hours can not only cause physical fatigue, they may create mental stress and increase the risk for dehydration, upset your digestive system and interfere with sleep patterns.

I accept that exploring a new destination in a faraway place comes with a price, beyond the cost of the airline ticket. There are ways to ease the effects however. Try these 10 tips for long flights so that you arrive ready for your adventure.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most common effects from long flights is dehydration. While flying it’s very easy to become dehydrated due to the airplane cabin’s low humidity levels.

As a result, you feel thirsty and your mucous membranes in the nose, throat and sinuses dry out. A headache frequently accompanies dehydration along with dry lips and skin.

To counter dehydration, drink LOTS of water. Most people won’t. Why? They might have to use the restroom more. This is actually a bonus though, as getting up and moving frequently is another important tip.

Those little cups of water offered during the flight are not enough. Carry your own water canister and refill it frequently. Note: you must take an empty cannister through security however once through that checkpoint, you can fill your cannister and carry it onto the plane.

If you run out of water, ask the flight attendant for a refill.

Sleep as Much as Possible

Especially on red eye flights, that travel to international destinations at night, sleeping helps you arrive feeling more fresh and ready to go.

Many people, including me, find it difficult to sleep while airborne.

Bring an eye mask and earplugs to help shut out light and noise. Get comfortable with a neck pillow and blanket. Or play a movie you’ve seen many times, turn the volume down low and sleep through it.

Whenever you stir, drink water, walk to the restroom and then get comfy and try sleeping again.

10 Tips for Long Flights hydrate
!0 Tips for Long Flights – stay hydrated and get as much sleep as possible

Choose an Aisle Seat

If you get to choose your seat, pick the aisle seat. That location makes it easier to get up to stretch, go to the restroom and occasionally stretch your legs out. Just don’t leave your legs out in the aisle to prevent tripping another passenger or a flight attendant.

Bring a Book to Read

If sleeping is out of the question for you, bring a book you’ve been meaning to read. For fun, try a genre you wouldn’t normally consider. You can pick up paperback books at the airport or purchase one from your favorite shop and when finished with it, give it to someone at your return airport or leave it in a the restroom or on a table in a cafe for another passenger to pick up.

10 tips for long flights aisle
10 Tips for Long Flights – choose an aisle seat if possible

Avoid Sugar, Alcohol and Caffeine

Avoiding products with sugar helps to prevent a sugar rush and the tiredness that follows and for some, like me, sugar can cause restless legs.

And alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration. Drink water instead of wine or soda.

Bonus tip: flying creates digestive distress, also known as gassiness. To prevent discomfort and perhaps embarrassment, also avoid carbonated drinks, veggies like broccoli, red meat, apples and other high fiber foods, beans and fried foods.

Distract Yourself

If you can’t sleep and reading isn’t your thing, try watching a movie or series, listening to music, playing games or chatting with your seatmate, if that person is awake too and wants to engage.

My personal favorite activity while on long flights is movie watching. I enjoy browsing through the large selection of on flight films and catching up on movies I’ve missed. I like carrying my own earbuds with me but they are available on request.

10 tips for long flights chat
10 Tips for Long Flights – I enjoyed chatting with my seat mate on my trip to Dublin Ireland.

Walk and Stretch Frequently

It’s important to keep muscles limber by taking frequent walking and stretching breaks. Use your trips to the restroom as an opportunity to stretch out cramped leg muscles and also improve circulation and help prevent swelling in lower legs and ankles.

Wear Comfy Clothes

During long flights, wear the comfiest clothes possible. Doing so creates less restriction and improves circulation. This isn’t the time for tight jeans. Opt for loose fitting pants, layered shirts, light jacket and sneakers. The only exception might be if you are taking boots along on the trip, then wear those to save space in your carryon or luggage.

I like layering because it’s generally very cool in the cabin and I can add the lightweight jacket over two shirts or use it as a blanket.

10 tips for long flights comfy
10 Tips for Long Flights – dress in comfiest clothes possible

Try Compression Socks

If your legs or feet tend to swell during long flights, try compression socks. I tried these for the first time last December, flying to Edinburgh, and I loved them. My legs and feet didn’t swell and they were less restless. In fact, I wore them every day while walking in Edinburgh and they seemed to invigorate my legs.

Remove Shoes during Flight

Carry an extra pair of thick, woolen socks and put them on during the flight.

On my last international flight, I removed my boots after we reached cruising altitude and pulled on a pair of thick woolen socks over my compression socks. It raised my coziness level considerably.

And bonus, when I wear those socks now I’m instantly transported back to that overnight flight and the thrill of adventure.

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Charleston SC airport

 

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10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA

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The mountain town of Blue Ridge, in northern Georgia, boasts a population of 1,244 residents. However, this beautiful town lives BIG and offers visitors many fun opportunities and activities.

With more than 100,000 acres of Chattahoochee National Forest, 300 miles of hiking trails, 100 miles of streams and those gorgeous mountains, Blue Ridge is the perfect location for a long getaway weekend or a family vacation.

Check out 10 things to do in Blue Ridge GA, recognized by Southern Living Magazine as one of the South’s Best Mountain Towns, in 2022.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA title

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA

Whether you spend time outdoors, explore downtown Blue Ridge or get cozy at a local cabin, check out these fun ways to make the most of your visit.

Explore Downtown Blue Ridge

This charming small town was established in 1886 as a railroad stop. Visitors rode the train into Blue Ridge, ate a meal and then walked to the mineral springs. Because of those pure mineral springs, Blue Ridge became known as a health resort town.

Today visitors can walk along Main Street browsing through boutique shops, dining in cafes and watching the town’s resident roosters strut about.

The small town atmosphere inspires chats with friendly shop owners and local residents.  Download the Blue Ridge Historic Walking Tour HERE.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA explore downtown
10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA – explore the historic downtown

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

In the heart of downtown Blue Ridge sits the train depot. Enjoy a four hour rail excursion along Toccoa River from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. You can choose to ride in an authentic indoor rail car, an open air car or go premier class.

After arriving in McCaysville, travelers have two hours to explore the town and grab lunch before the return trek to Blue Ridge.

Check out the train schedule and purchase online tickets with this LINK.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA scenic rail
10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA – scenic railway

Enjoy a Thriving Art Community

Blue Ridge has a vibrant art community with galleries to visit, live music to listen to and a local theater.

The mission of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association is to provide ample opportunities in the art realm. They are devoted to bringing quality exhibits and events to the community.

Purchase theater tickers HERE. And for a fun summer experience, visit Swan Drive In for an outdoor movie.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA art vibes
Check out the art vibes in Blue Ridge! Pictured, 4 Elements Fine Art & Custom Framing

Haunted Blue Ridge Ghost Tour

Take a night time stroll through downtown Blue Ridge and learn the spooky tales associated with the area. Hear local legends and see haunted spots with a knowledgeable guide.

The tour last about 90 minutes and covers a mile, with frequent stops. Tickets must be purchased online prior to tour.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA haunts
10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA – ghost tour

Indoor Mini Golf Downtown

Located on Main Street in downtown Blue Ridge, 2nd Story Entertainment offers indoor family fun.

Play a full 18 hole mini golf course that weaves in and out of eight themed rooms in the 112 year old building that once housed a hotel. Included on the mini golf course are other games such as giant connect 4s, giant checkers and magnetic darts.

The venue also provides arcade games such as Air Hockey and Ms Pacman and snacks along with water and sodas.

2nd Story Entertainment
2nd Story Entertainment in downtown Blue Ridge

Stay in a Local Cabin

While in Blue Ridge, you simply must stay in a Southern Comfort Cabin! Although there are many activities to enjoy in the area, having a comfy cabin to return to at the end of the day provides a place to gather, share the fun from the day and relax.

Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals offers so many accommodation choices from forest views to lake views to mountain views. There’s a cabin for every budget and spaces for two people….or 10. One could never leave the cabin and feel content!

I stayed in the Breakaway Ridge Cabin with mountain views. You can learn more about this beautiful place HERE.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA cabin
10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA – stay in a Southern Comfort Cabin

Blue Ridge Lake

Blue Ridge Lake is a reservoir in Fannin County, nestled along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It encompasses 3,300 acres of water, rests approximately 1,686 feet above sea level, and has 65 miles of shoreline. The lake is fed by Toccoa River and is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The aquamarine waters make this lake one of the most picturesque in Georgia.  Blue Ridge Lake offers campsites, swimming, boating, picnic areas, a full service marina and rentals for all kinds of water activities. Explore the lake in a pontoon boat or rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard.

The Morganton Point Recreation Area is the perfect spot for swimming. There are restroom facilities here and concessions.

Blue Ridge Lake
Blue Ridge Lake

Hiking Trails

Nature enthusiasts will love the many hiking trails in the Blue Ridge area. Choose from trails around the lake, trails through the forest or trails to waterfalls.

Hike to the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge or sit near the Fall Creeks Falls after a fairly short trek through the forest. Or walk part of the Appalachian Trail.

Check out the top ten hiking trails HERE.

10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA hike
10 Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA – hike to the Fall Creek Falls

Visit Mercier Orchards

Located just outside of Blue Ridge, Mercier Orchards is a 4th generation owned and operated apple orchard. The orchards offer pick your own fruit times, tractor tours and scheduled activities.

Their huge on site building contains a cafe, a market with fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, a bakery and a huge assortment of apple products, kitchen ware and other goodies.

Discover all that this place offers, including the BEST fried pies, HERE.

Mercier Orchards
Mercier Orchards

Expedition Bigfoot Museum

We initially giggled about wanting to visit this museum and data collection site. However, we discovered the museum is a fascinating place to explore. We left firm believers in the existence of Bigfoot!

You can tour this museum in about an hour. Those with an interest in Bigfoot could easily spend more time there. The site is also a research facility and reporting center. The exhibits are science based and contain a great deal of evidence collected over the years from those who have had encounters. Truly, it was an eye opening experience for me.

It turns out that northern Georgia is a Bigfoot hotspot. Many have reported sightings and encounters in the area. With the thick forests and mountains, I can believe these elusive creatures exist.

Watch for a future feature post about this museum. You can check out hours of operation and get more info with this LINK.

Which Blue Ridge Activities Will You Experience?

As you can see, there are so many fun activities in the Blue Ridge area. And I didn’t list horseback riding, ziplining or visiting breweries and wineries.

I must go back, for the ghost tour. Fall is the perfect time for a train ride, to appreciate the colorful leaves on the trees. And how fun to see the town decorated for Christmas.

Which of the activities will you try first, when you visit Blue Ridge?

Posing with Bigfoots...Bigfeet??
Posing with Bigfoots….Bigfeet??

 

Pack along an excellent pair of hiking boots, like these! Click on image to order.

 

 

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Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin

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American essayist Philip Conners wrote,

“The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble—to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills.”

While I don’t live in the mountains, I recently got to enjoy the gift of time that Connors refers to. During my hosted stay, I appreciated the time to think…or not…to read or not…to sleep and cook my own food and take a walk in the deep forests surrounding Blue Ridge, Georgia.

My home for those days spent in the mountains provided the perfect space to fully savor my stay. Learn more about Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals HERE. And then discover my favorite things about Breakaway Ridge Cabin. Spoiler alert…staring at the shapes of the hills makes the list.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin

Greg and I stayed in the Breakaway Ridge Cabin, high atop a mountain just two miles from the charming town of Blue Ridge. We immediately fell in love with the area, the mountains AND the gorgeous cabin.

Following are my favorite things about Breakaway Ridge Cabin…the unexpected touches, the thoughtful inclusions, the great use of space.

Spacious Cabin

With five bedrooms, three bathrooms and two living areas, not including the incredible outdoor room, this cabin offers plenty of space to sprawl. Although it was just Greg and me on this trip, we appreciated the ability to choose different spaces to use, find a nook for solitude or enjoy the views from various vantage points.

With two  bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs plus a full kitchen, dining area and great room AND three bedrooms/sleeping areas downstairs with a bathroom, mini kitchen and second living area, this setup is ideal for a family or a group of friends.

We could easily envision our entire family joining us in this wonderful cabin.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin spacious
Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin – spacious

 

Spectacular Views

The view from Breakaway Ridge Cabin is incredibly beautiful. The back of the cabin faces a deep valley and tree shrouded mountains beyond. The outdoor room, the covered patio below, all the living areas and the bedrooms offer amazing views of those mountains.

And those views continually drew me, whether from the windows in my bedroom at sunrise or the rocking chairs on the back deck or the dual porch swings below. I never tired of watching the mountains and the play of light and shadow on them.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin view
Beautiful view

Full Kitchen for Meal Prep

I love accommodations with kitchens. Seven years ago I embraced a plant based lifestyle. Having a full kitchen to cook in allows me to create healthy meals and it saves money.

It’s also fun to try new restaurants when traveling so a good practice for me is to prepare my own meals for breakfast and supper and eat out for lunch, choosing places with vegan options.

The kitchen in Breakaway Ridge contained cookware, cutlery, glasses, mugs (for my hot tea!), plates, bakeware…everything needed to prepare meals. I shopped at home for groceries and toted them, since we drove to Blue Ridge. However, we visited nearby grocery stores TWICE for items we either forgot…or decided we needed.

Gas cooking stove
Gas cooking stove in full kitchen

Outdoor Room

When we arrived at Breakaway Ridge Cabin the first night, darkness was creeping up the mountain. We walked straight through the cabin and out onto the back deck to admire the view.

The outdoor room features comfy seating, a wood burning fireplace, a table and chairs for outdoor dining and two wooden rocking chairs tucked in their own alcove.

I LOVED this beautiful space and spent the most time out here, breathing in mountain air and relaxing or working remotely on my laptop. We built a small fire in the fireplace on our last night at the cabin and ate dinner watching the flames.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin outdoor room
Outdoor room was a favorite space for hanging out

Desk for Laptop

Although I didn’t sit at the desk in the great room, I did appreciate its existence. The desk made an ideal location for my laptop when not in use. With a handy outlet strip on the floor I could keep my laptop charged and ready for use. Also appreciated, wifi at the cabin. That wifi served the outdoor room as well making it easy to get work done quickly.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin desk
Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin – desk for laptop

Rocking Chairs

I’ve enjoyed the soothing, meditative experience of rocking in a rocking chair since my toddler days. With great delight, I frequently gravitated toward the two wooden rocking chairs on the cabin’s back deck, cup of hot tea in one hand, a book in the other.

Greg often started his day there, sitting quietly in one of the rocking chairs. reading or simply appreciating the view.

Greg enjoying one of the rocking chairs
Greg enjoying one of the rocking chairs.

Storage Space

When I travel, I like to unpack my carryon and put everything away. At home, I’m a “place for everything and everything in its place” person.

The cabin features an abundance of drawers, shelves and closet space for unpacking and put clothing and toiletries away. I like a neat, tidy space because for me, clutter brings with it chaotic energy.

In Breakaway Ridge, the HUGE closets upstairs offer plenty of hangers and shelving for clothes, jackets and shoes and for stashing luggage. The bathrooms not only have drawers for belongings but adequate shelving behind cabinet doors.

I found out of sight storage in the kitchen for all of the groceries I brought or purchased and although we didn’t need to use any of the downstairs space, there’s lots of storage available there too.

Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin storage
Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin – lots of storage

Washer and Dryer

One of the bedroom closets upstairs holds a full size washer and dryer. An ironing board and iron hang on the inside of the door.

It’s so convenient to wash clothes after a day exploring in the woods or to do up all the dirty laundry BEFORE heading home. (Don’t you dislike having to do laundry as soon as you arrive home?)

Washer and dryer
Convenient washer, dryer, ironing board and iron.

Porch Swings

I feel about swings, the way that I do about rocking chairs. It’s a peaceful way to relax, giving the body something to do while the mind dreams big dreams.

Breakaway Ridge not only offers a swing, it offers two! These porch style swings hang beneath the deck, at the edge of the covered patio, and provide stunning views across the valley.

Porch swings with a view
Porch swings with a view! Looking through the windows at the end of the second living area downstairs.

Play Cornhole

Downstairs, Breakaway Ridge keeps the fun going with a shuffleboard table, a poker/game table and shelves of jigsaw puzzles and an assortment of board games.

Outdoors, we found cornhole boards and happily challenged each other to a game. How incredible, with the trees stirring in the breeze and the sun chasing shadows across the mountains, to compete in a friendly game of cornhole.

Greg carried out snacks and tall glasses of water and after he beat me at cornhole, we sat in one of the swings as the sun set. It made the perfect finish to a fun, full day.

Cornhole game
Double the fun…cornhole game in the mountains.

Bonus Favorites

Truthfully, this list of favorites could go on and on. The hot tub on the patio, the Adirondack chairs grouped around a fire pit, the big screen tvs in each room (although we rarely turned them on, had it rained we could have watched a movie), the comfy beds…it was ALL perfect.

One other thing that I must mention was the ease of checking in and out. For this particular cabin, I received a code for the keypad on the door. When we checked out, I keyed in a special code that notified the staff of our departure. So simple. And I was so grateful for the convenience since we arrived late on our first night. We didn’t have to make arrangements to pick up a key.

Experience this place yourself by visiting the Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals website. Book the Breakaway Ridge Cabin or select another from their many options.

Plus, there’s still time to take advantage of the book three nights get a fourth night free Memorial Day Weekend special with this link.

So tell me…which of the above favorites appeals the most to you?

Favorite things about breakaway ridge cabin remote work
Favorite Things About Breakaway Ridge Cabin – an outdoor office with a view.

 

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CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO

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

I’ve experienced a couple of different escape rooms, where you must find clues and solve puzzles in a set amount of time to unlock the door. However, this weekend I participated in my first CluedUpp Games Event, a fun outdoor immersive adventure that took place in my city’s beautiful downtown area.

Read on to learn more about CluedUpp and my team’s experiences in the CSI Crime Scene Detective game in Joplin, MO.

CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO title meme

CluedUpp Games

Before I share the adventure, here’s a little bit about CluedUpp Games.

CluedUpp Games began in 2016, with a desire to move beyond traditional board games to interactive outdoor experiences. They started with downloadable paper-packs for towns across the UK. The next year they expanded into the mobile realm, creating virtual reality gaming events. They launched their game app in January of 2017, hosting 30 teams at the first event.

In 2018 CluedUpp went global with events in the US and Canada. And the following year the company included Europe, Asia and the Middle East in the fun. CluedUpp is now the world’s biggest geogaming company, hosting immersive events around the globe. They continue working tirelessly to bring players brand new mysteries and incredible outdoor experiences.

The company’s mission is bringing family members and friends together to enjoy the outdoors in shared adventures.

CluedUpp offers fun events in more than 1,200 locations in 55 countries worldwide. To date, over a million players have taken on the challenge and immersed themselves in a multi-award-winning CluedUpp event.

CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO app
CSI Crime Scene Detective App

How it Works

On the day of the event, which typically runs from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, teams compete to solve a mystery or crime. Using the app on a SmartPhone, teams explore their city’s streets looking for virtual clues, interviewing witnesses and solving challenges. All of these are done via the phone app, using the GPS system and an online map for guidance.

Piecing together the information and gathering important evidence, teams try to solve the mystery, with prizes awarded to the fastest team.

If you start the game early enough in the day, you can pause at any time, stop for lunch, grab a drink, or just take a break and then unpause the game to continue playing. Stay mindful however that the game ends at 5:00 pm whether you complete by then or not.

Up to six people, age 16 and up, can play together on a team. If you have more than six people simply create a second team and you can still work together. CluedUpp allows children to accompany adults, for free, and the family dog is even allowed to tag along.

The game typically takes 2 – 3 hours to complete. And on average players walk 2 – 4 miles while solving the mystery. You don’t need to reserve a start time. Just show up at the starting point. as stated in the welcome email, and start the app.

CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO group
Our CSI Crime Scene Detective team – Pinkerton Detective Agency. Finley was not into sitting still! Greg took the photo.

Pinkerton Detective Agency

My daughter Elissa purchased the tickets for this event and invited the rest of us to join her. Our team, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, included Elissa, grandson Dayan, daughter Adriel, her husband Nate, Greg and me. Finley was our littlest detective and she did wonderfully well during this experience.

Due to work, Elissa turned the leadership of the group over to me. Together we came up with a name…a nod to the famous Scottish detective agency…and set up a time for all of us to meet in downtown Joplin on Saturday. Spiva Park was designated as the starting point to begin the game.

Finley participated in her first Easter Egg Hunt Saturday morning and Elissa had a 1:00 pm appointment. So we chose 2:00 pm to begin, the latest possible starting time. We were all a bit nervous, being new to the event and knowing we only had three hours to solve the crime.

And a crime it was! Our mission: discover the mastermind behind a string a murders plus uncover the motive. Each of us downloaded the app the day before the event and listened to the briefing to get an overview of the case. Gathering in the park at 1:45, we started the apps on our phones and began.

CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO downtown
It was a gorgeous spring day in downtown Joplin for the CSI Crime Scene Detective virtual game.

Tips for Playing the Game

We had such a fun afternoon together, playing this immersive, interactive game. The weather was absolutely perfect…not too hot, not too cold, plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze. Finley rode in her stroller part of the time and walked with us the rest. And walk we did, all over a six block long by four block wide area. I logged 3.5 miles on my phone’s health app. We all wore comfortable clothes and shoes, smoothed on sunscreen, and brought caps or sunglasses to protect against glare and sunburn.

Here are some other things we learned, during our first time playing.

Helpful Tips

  • carry water and snacks and remember that you can pause the game, if desired, to take a break. Because we started the game so late, we did not take a break however we did carry water and enjoy healthy snacks as we walked.
  • make sure phones are fully charged. Mine was at 100% when we started but by the end, my phone dropped to 10%. Fortunately, you can allow another team member to assume leadership. That’s important because only the team leader inputs answers to riddles and puzzles although all team members contribute, read the interviews and investigation reports and vote on suspects, whether they are guilty or innocent.
  • the game is reading intensive. Assign someone to read all the info and someone else to take good notes. Daughter Adriel thought to bring a notebook and pen and served as our recorder.
  • allow everyone in the group to have input and toss around ideas. The more discussion the better!
  • stay mindful of other teams playing at the same time and in the same area. Speak quietly in your group so as not to give away information to others working on their own solutions.
  • in the case, there were three different crime scenes. We decided, after the fact, that visiting those places first cuts down on the amount of walking.
  • have fun. It’s a timed event. You can subtract time from your score by walking through specific locations and add time to your score as a penalty by asking for hints or incorrectly answering a riddle. However, enjoy the experience. We weren’t going for fastest team. We wanted to solve the crime.
  • take photos and submit them on the CluedUpp Facebook page assigned to your city. The game awards prizes for best costumes, if you want to dress up, best team name, best group photo, best little detective and best dog detective.
CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO church
CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO – we appreciated beautiful buildings in the downtown area

And the Result…

Keeping an eye on the time and knowing we needed to submit a guilty suspect and a motive for the crime by 5:00, we moved steadily through all the points of interest marked on the map, gathering info.

We found a shady place to sit, 2.5 hours after beginning play, to discuss our findings. After we all agreed on a suspect…the mastermind behind the murders…and the motivation for the crime, Elissa submitted our answers.

Our answers were correct! We solved the crime with half an hour to spare. Out of 72 groups playing in Joplin, our team came in 29th, based on correct answers and amount of time taken to solve the crime. We are happy with that.

And our Finley won best little detective for Joplin!

We all enjoyed playing this game. So much so, in fact, that we are looking at playing again this fall, in Springdale, Arkansas. A new Alice in Wonderland themed adventure awaits.

Have you heard of CluedUpp or played this outdoor adventure game? You can find a location hosting the event near you by clicking this LINK. If you enjoy solving mysteries, playing outdoors and working as a team, you’ll love this adventure!

CSI Crime Scene Detective Joplin MO finley
Best Little Detective

 

Dress the Part

 


 

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Funny Travel Stories

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Anyone who travels has them…funny stories of things that went a bit sideways or askew while on  a trip. While often these experiences are not especially funny while living them, later they make humorous tales to share over a meal with friends.

I hope this collection of funny travel stories, collected over a span of years, brings a chuckle, a smile or at the least, a recollection of a funny experience of your own.

Funny Travel Stories title meme

Little Sister Scores Some Tickets

When the kids were ages 10, 14 and 15 years old, they accompanied Greg and me on a business/vacation trip to LA. With a week to spend in sunny California, we carefully planned what sights to see, what parks to experience and how to best budget our time and resources.

Because the kids had been to Disney World in Florida a few years before, we opted out of Disney Land and chose instead to visit other attractions such as Universal Studios. The choice stung a bit though, as our hotel was RIGHT next door to Disney Land.

Every night, my youngest child, Adriel, wanted to soak in the hot tub. Whether it was the novelty of it or she genuinely appreciated that hot water, the practice became a nightly ritual. Her older brother and sister teased her for grabbing her towel and flip flops every night and joining a decidedly older crowd in the hot tub. I of course went with her.

Toward the end of the week, as Adriel and I settled into the hot tub, an older woman joined us. After chitchatting for a few minutes, she suddenly asked Ariel if she enjoyed Disney Land. Adriel explained we chose other parks instead. Turns out, the woman had tickets to the theme park that she did not use with her grandkids. She kindly offered them to us. We followed the woman to her room and gratefully accepted the tickets. Adriel took great delight in flip-flopping her way back to our room, and waving those tickets in her siblings’ faces.

We spent an entire day at Disney Land, one of the most fun experiences we had while in LA, thanks to Adriel!

A Kiss for Luciano

On my last night in Italy, our Globus Tour group prepared for a final meal together in Rome. I arrived downstairs to the lobby early, ahead of most of the group including my daughter and grandson. Fabiola, our lively, wonderful tour guide, directed my attention outside, to the big tour bus at the curb.

“Luciano is there. Why don’t you be first to go tell him goodbye,” Fabi suggested.

Ah, Luciano, our handsome, charming, very Italian bus driver, who spoke limited English but conveyed volumes with his smile and dark brown eyes.

I happily carried out a “thank you” card for him. He listened to me expressing gratitude for his skills as a bus driver, then smiled and nodded. Lightly touching one cheek, he said a single word in English. “Kiss?”

I know I blushed as I planted kisses on each of his cheeks and received his kisses in return. By this time, the rest of the group had arrived in the hotel lobby. In moments a long line formed, of ladies eager to give Luciano kisses!

Funny Travel Stories kiss
Funny Travel Stories – a kiss for Luciano

Scottish Pole Dancer

During the girls’ trip to the UK, in 2017, my mom, sisters, niece and I spent a long day exploring Edinburgh. We made excellent use of the hop on/hop off buses to get around the city.

As the day ended, we felt ready for a quick dinner, hot showers and a long night’s rest after a busy day. Except…we missed our hop off spot. The bus parked for the night, we us still on it. What to do?

We walked to where a group of guides stood, on Waverly Bridge. One of them, a cheerful looking older man named George, approached us to see if we needed help. After explaining our situation, he asked where our accommodations were in Edinburgh. His reaction surprised us. He laughed and motioned the other guides over. Hearing our predicament, they laughed too when George mentions where we are staying.

We don’t understand the laughter, however, the guide helps us by placing us on an empty bus and asking the driver to take us to our apartment. When the driver heard the address, he glances at us in amusement. Finally I ask what’s so funny.

In lieu of an answer, George grins and hops into the bus. Grabbing a pole nearby, typically used to steady standing riders, George hums a tune and spins gracefully around the pole, looking at us expectantly as he twirls. The other guides hoot and clap…and realization dawns. He’s pole dancing.

“Are we staying in Edinburgh’s red light district?” I ask. Yes, yes we are. George hops off the bus and twirls again for our amusement, then bows as the bus pulls away. Walking up to our apartment later, we take a good look at our surroundings, for the first time really. Our apartment is in the middle of strip clubs, lap dance parlors and adult shows. No wonder the guides laughed. We are amused too. (Read a longer version of this story HERE.)

My next trip to Edinburgh, I chose to stay in a different part of town!

Positivity Overload

After a wonderful 12 days spent in Italy, my daughter Elissa, grandson Dayan and I settled into our airline seats, exhausted and ready to return home. Five hours later, we still remained in those seats, on the tarmac at the Rome airport.

While Elissa’s seat was in a different section of the plane, Dayan and I sat side by side toward the back. Watching restless people and shortened tempers, I encouraged Dayan that all was well, we’d leave when we were supposed to and that if we didn’t fly out, it was because we weren’t meant to, even if we didn’t know why.

Elissa fell asleep and woke up, expecting to be in the air and well on our way. Dayan grew weary of sitting on a stuffy plane, listening to people complain. At last, after more than five hours, the pilot announced our flight canceled. We all exited the plane, the airline company giving everyone overnight accommodations at a nearby hotel.

As we walked to the hotel, Dayan darted ahead to walk with his mom, while I leisurely strolled along at my own pace. And no, we did not enjoy another night in Italy so much as we crashed in our hotel room, asleep before the sun went down.

We successfully flew out the next day. It was only after we were in the air that Dayan turned to me, a bit contritely, and shared that he left me to walk by myself because he simply could not handle any more of my positivity! I laughed and assured him it was okay. What followed was a wonderful conversation about having a positive life outlook, something Dayan took to heart. He is a go-with-the-flow traveler now, who has learned at age 22 to roll with what life brings, knowing there’s always a reason for everything that happens.

Funny Travel Stories positivity
Funny Travel Stories – positivity overload. This photo was taken at about hour two of a five+ hour hold on the tarmac before our flight canceled.

Boldly Going…Where No One Should Go

During a week long visit to the state of Kentucky, our family of five enjoyed several equine related events due to older daughter Elissa’s love of horses. She showed Arabians and Saddlebreds in horse shows all over the Midwest, including the large American Royal National Championship Horse show in Kansas City. During that prestigious show, we always enjoyed watching her…and actor William Shatner, best known perhaps for his role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek, showing his beautiful Saddlebreds.

We discovered, somehow, that Shatner owned a horse farm in Kentucky. So…we decided to visit it while in the state. I cringe now that we drove right up to the training barns on his property, totally uninvited. And I sincerely doubt that could happen now. However, we walked inside and found his trainer working with the horses. Rather than calling security…if there was such…or demanding that we leave, Donna Moore visited with us and allowed us to watch as she put one of the Shatner horses through his moves.

While a fun experience, I’m appalled today that we so boldly went where no one should go…without an invitation! (Forgive me, Captain Kirk!)

Wrong Way, Sister

My sister Debbie accompanied me on a 2019 trip to Scotland. Although we attended five days of Clan Maitland activities, we also built in five additional days of exploring Edinburgh on our own.

That’s when I discovered that my sister has NO sense of direction. Perhaps because of my many years as a realtor, I’ve learned to navigate by directions and instinct rather than landmarks or using “right” or “left”. I could mentally call up Edinburgh’s grid of streets in my head as we explored. Debbie, on the other hand, invariably headed out confidently…in the wrong direction…on our many explorations. It became a running joke during our stay in Edinburgh. Debbie striding out with purpose…in the exact opposite direction from our destination. Me waiting until she figured it out and turned to call back for directions.

Back in the US, after ten glorious days in Scotland, I watched as my sister walked to the ladies restroom in the New York airport. I was watching still as she exited the restroom, hesitated and then turned left and strode away from me down the wide hall. One more wrong way for Debbie…before we arrived home! (Read the longer version of this story HERE.)

Mom Doesn’t Have a Clue

On that girls’ UK trip, our group of five finished up in London, England. One attraction we all chose was The London Dungeon.

While this high quality experience, a cross between a walking tour and an amusement park ride, offers performers in period costumes portraying characters from London’s murky past, the highlight of the tour was my mom.

At the time of this trip, she was 77 years young. In spite of breaking a knee a few months before the trip, she kept up with all of us. Walking through the London Dungeon experience, we had enjoyed two photo opportunities.

In the first, the photographer put three of us in stocks, handed Mom and my niece axes and told us to play along. Mom didn’t catch exactly what he said, and the photo shows. While the rest of us are looking at the camera, Mom is gazing off to the side, axe in hand, totally lost.

In the second photo, with a green screen portraying the London fire behind us, four of us look horrified…or amused…while poor Mom is again staring off in another direction, trying to “find” the fire.

We didn’t realize how hysterically funny it all was, until we saw the photos at the end of the tour. We still laugh every time we see the photos or tell the story. Mom remains a good sport about it!

Funny Travel Stories dungeon
Funny Travel Stories – Mom doesn’t have a clue what’s happening!

Your Funny Travel Stories

I hope these humorous tales brought a smile to your face! At another time, I’ll share Funny Travel Stories Part 2, because I have more tales to tell.

What about you?

Do you have funny stories from your travels that you and your family still giggle over? I’d love to read them. Share one in the comments below.

Funny Travel Stories fire
Mom: “Where’s the fire??” I’m laughing right now…..

 

Fun Travel Items from Amazon:

 


 

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Ten Most Irish Cities in the US

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THIS POST IS A COLLABORATION WITH LAWNSTARTER. THEY PROVIDED THE STATS FROM THEIR Most Irish CITY RESEARCH AND I ADDED additional INFO ABOUT EACH CITY.

 

March celebrates National Irish American Heritage Month by honoring the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the US. Choosing March was intentional, to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th.

To add to the celebrations and fun, discover where the ten most Irish cities in the US are located and why they are at the top of the list.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US title meme

The Criteria for the Ten Most Irish Cities in the US

Lawnstarter compared the 200 largest US cities based on the following criteria:

  • the size of their Irish population
  • availability of Irish restaurants and pubs
  • number of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and other Irish cultural events
  • number of Irish cultural groups and organizations such as Irish dance schools, cultural centers and networking groups.

As the saying goes, “everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day”. And many of us, me included, do claim Irish ancestry. According to my AncestryDNA results, I am 9% Irish. Some cities have a large concentration of descendants from Irish ancestors. Check to see if your city made the list, based on the criteria above.

1. Boston, MA

Unsurprisingly, Boston ranks as the top Irish city in the US. Irish immigrants began arriving in Massachusetts during and after the potato famine in the 1840s.

Today slightly more than 20% of Boston’s population is made up of Irish Americans, making it the city with most concentrated Irish population. Irish American Bostonians celebrate big with an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. And the city boasts plenty of Irish inspired restaurants and pubs featuring Guinness.

Fun Fact: The influx of Irish immigrants resulted in the distinct Bostonian accent heard today.

2. Chicago, IL

Chicago is the fourth largest Irish city, population wise, and claims the second spot on the list due to holding the most Irish community events…143 of them. The McNutty School of Irish Dance also began in this city.

The Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago is a non-profit organization that offers programs featuring Irish dance, literature, heritage, music and cultural contributions to the US.

Fun Fact: The city dyes the Chicago River green for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. This year the river begins flowing green on Saturday March 12.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US chicago green river
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – green river in Chicago *Unsplash photo by Benjamin Rascoe

3. New York, NY

New York takes the third Irish city spot. They rank high for number of Irish restaurants and pubs.

And the city holds the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the nation. The six hour long parade features Irish dancers, pipers playing bagpipes and other performers marching down the street with more than 2 million spectators in attendance. They also host many other Irish celebrations.

Fun Fact: New York sponsors the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” Saint Patrick’s Day bar crawl.

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Coming in at #4, Pittsburg’s first Scots-Irish immigrants arrived in the 1700s with Catholic Irish arriving 100 years later. The potato famine brought thousands more, many of whom found work with the railroads. Today nearly 11% of the city’s population list Irish as their ancestors.

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh educates its members and the community about the Gaelic culture. It hosts lectures, classes, arts and crafts, music, drama and dance as well as social and athletic events to preserve the city’s Irish culture.

Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is one of only three cities in the US that boasts a chapter of the Knights of Equity. The club promotes traditional Irish dance and folk music.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US new york parade
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade *Unsplash photo by Johnny Cohen

5. Naperville, IL

Naperville ranks 5th with a high Irish population of about 14%. They host an annual family oriented Saint Patrick’s Day parade that celebrates Irish American heritage and culture.

West Suburban Irish is a non-profit organization headquartered here that promotes, nurtures and strengthens Irish culture in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Fun Fact: Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville serves up classic Irish fare. The West Suburban Irish calls this pub home, holding their meetings there once a month.

6. Philadelphia, PA

In Philadelphia, 12% of the city’s residents claim Irish heritage, with most of those living in the suburbs. Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn, was part Irish on his mother’s side. The Society of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick was founded in Philly in 1771.

Today the city boasts a large number of Irish pubs such as Isabella Barry’s Faithful Irishman and The Jolly Irishman. Philadelphia celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day big time with a parade and a bar crawl.

Fun Fact: The Philadelphia Fleadh is a one day Irish American festival held annually in May. It features local and international traditional Irish music plus dance, shopping, food, spirits and activities.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US philly fleadh
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Philadelphia Fleadh

7. Denver, CO

Leaving the East Coast and Midwest, we head to Denver, #7 on the top ten list. Irish immigrants headed west after the discovery of silver. When the silver boom ended, the Irish moved to Denver.

Today the Mile High City ranks high in Irish food and drink locations and hosts multiple Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Fun Fact: The famous unsinkable Molly Brown raised funds to build the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Denver. Through her legacy, the Molly Brown House, Colorado’s rich Irish heritage is preserved.

8. Spokane, WA

In Spokane, nearly 14% of the population lists Irish ancestry. Irish settlers arrived in the area in the mid 1800s, eager to claim land and take advantage of the many opportunities the northwest offered.

Spokane often plays host to Irish musicals and theater performances.

Fun Fact: Spokane is the sister city to Limerick, Ireland and encourages the appreciation of Irish and American cultures between the two communities,

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US denver molly brown house
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Denver’s Molly Brown House

9. Syracuse, NY

Irish immigrants came to the Syracuse area between 1778 and 1910. While some came from Ireland, others came from Canada and other countries they previously immigrated to. Currently 1/6 of the population claims Irish ancestry.

Syracuse hosts a yearly parade and an Irish Festival that features music, dance, folk songs, genealogy, culture and activities.

Fun Fact: Early Irish immigrants settles in a far west neighborhood called Tipperary Hill, named for County Tipperary in Ireland. It’s still proudly Irish today. The neighborhood has a traffic light from the 1920s with green at the top instead of red, as a strong identity with Ireland, the Emerald Isle.

10. Worchester, MA

Coming in at 10th place on the list, Worchester received its first Irish and Scottish immigrants in 1718. However it was the building of the Blackstone Canal, connecting Worchester with Providence, RI, that caused the growth of the Irish population. Between 1826 and 1828 1,000 Irish immigrants moved to Worchester to help construct the canal. Today nearly 1/3 of the small city’s residents still claim Irish ancestry,

The community offers several Irish pubs and on Saint Patrick’s Day, a parade and an Irish Festival.

Fun Fact: To mark the 150th anniversary of the Irish settlement in Worchester, the Irish American community erected a Celtic Cross on Worchester Common in 1977.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US celtic cross
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Celtic Cross in Worchester

Celebrating Irish American Ancestry

How many of these cities have you visited? On this list, I’ve visited Philadelphia and Denver. Boston and Chicago are on my Adventure List. I’d love to create a second list with some of these cities on it.

And I traveled to Dublin, Ireland in 2017 with four other family members. What a fun time connecting with my Irish roots there. It’s a beautiful country with a rich heritage.

Pop over to see LawnStarter’s study post HERE on Irish cities. They have other fun studies too such as Best Cities for Cat Lovers and Best Cities for Carless Weekend Trips.

LawnStarter is a startup company that makes lawn care easy, affordable and reliable. They have a blog for lawn care…and these fun studies.

How do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and your Irish ancestry?

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US dublin
The Temple Bar Area, Dublin Ireland

Add to your Irish celebrations with these Amazon finds:

 


 

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Origins of Common American Expressions

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Common expressions…we all use them. I grew up repeating phrases I heard my parents and grandparents say. I understood the gist of the meanings even if the strung together words seemed bizarre. Occasionally I wondered where such interesting expressions came from.

Have you?

Wonder no more. Check out the origins of common American expressions and see if your favorite made the list.

Origins of Common American Expressions title meme

Once in a Blue Moon

Meaning: something that happens rarely

Scientifically, a blue moon is the term for a second full moon that occurs during a single month. We typically have only one full moon every 30 days. About every 2.7 years, two full moons fall within the same month.

Although a similar phrase appeared in a book in the 19th century, the phrase as we use it today began later, around 1946, with a reference in the Maine Farmer’s Almanac.

Riding Shotgun

Meaning: riding in the front seat of a vehicle next to the driver

In the Old West, the person who sat next to the driver on a stagecoach frequently carried a shotgun to shoot any robbers who might attempt to stop the coach and steal from the occupants.

Today kids often shout out, “I call shotgun” as they race toward a car.

Origins of Common American Expressions riding shotgun
Origins of Common American Expressions – riding shotgun

Flying Off the Handle

Meaning: unpredictable or sudden anger

Before items were mass produced in factories, they were handmade. Some items might exhibit better craftsmanship than others. This expression comes from poorly made axes, crafted during the 1800s, that came apart too easily. The axe heads literally flew off their handles. Such an accident could induce surprise and anger!

Under the Weather

Meaning: not feeling well…feeling sick

Originally, sailors at sea used the expression “under the weather bow”, referring to the side of that ship that caught the brunt of wind during storms. To avoid feeling sick during rough seas, sailors bunkered down in their cabins…literally under the bad weather…and allowed the storms to pass.

Origins of Common American Expressions under the weather
Origins of Common American Expressions – under the weather

Close But No Cigar

Meaning: not quite winning or achieving success and therefore not getting the reward

Today carnival games hand out stuffed animals or trinkets as prizes for winning. However, in the late 19th century adults played most carnival games. Prizes included cigars. If someone almost won, but fell short they were “close, but no cigar”. By the 1930s the expression extended beyond fairgrounds to other types of near successes.

Bite the Bullet

Meaning: performing an unpleasant task or enduring a difficult situation

In the 1800s, patients literally bit down on a bullet to cope with the pain of surgery or medical procedures, without the benefit of receiving anesthesia.

Get Your Goat/Gets My Goat

Meaning: to irritate or annoy someone or become irritated or annoyed by someone

This expression originated at horseracing tracks. Jockeys placed goats in the stalls with their prize race horses to relax them. Competitors removed the goats of their rivals to spook their horses, hoping to win the race as a result.

Origins of Common American Expressions got your goat
Origins of Common American Expressions – get your goat

Pull Out All the Stops

Meaning: do everything possible to make something successful

This phrase originates from the musical instrument, the organ. When all the stops are pulled out, the organ plays loudly with a lot of different sounds all at once.

Cost an Arm and a Leg

Meaning: very expensive

This phrase originates from the 18th century. When famous people such as George Washington had their portraits painted, they did so without showing all of their limbs. The more limbs painted into the portrait, the more the painting cost.

I have to admit…this is my favorite origin!

Let the Cat Out of the Bag

Meaning: to accidently reveal a secret

During the 1700s, a common fraud involved secretly replacing more valuable pigs with less valuable cats and selling them in bags. When the cat was let out of the bag, the secret was revealed.

Do You Have a Favorite Common Expression?

Did you learn the origins of any of your favorite expressions? I love the study of words and origins. It’s a fun way to learn a bit of history as well.

Check out my other posts sharing common sayings from Scotland, England, Italy and Ireland.

Do you or your family commonly use an expression? Share it below.

Origins of Common American Expressions cat out of the bag
Origins of Common American Expressions – let the cat out of the bag

 

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Non Touristy Things to Do in London

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I love the exciting energy in London, England. It’s a beautiful and fascinating city to explore whether you are visiting for the first time…or tenth. For all the fun places to visit on a first visit, check out this POST.

If you are looking for things more off the beaten path, these non touristy things to do in London are perfect. Enjoy adding one of these places…or all of them…to your next London itinerary.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London tutle meme

Non Touristy Things to Do in London

London is a sprawling city containing 32 boroughs and home to more than 9 million people. There is always something going on in the city. When you want to get away from the crowds for a time, these places offer a peek into other beautiful or unique parts of London.

Explore Brick Lane

Brick Lane, in the borough of Tower Hamlets East London, was formerly known as Whitechapel Lane. Its current name comes from the brick and tile manufacturing that began there in the 15th century. The area drew immigrants from various countries over the centuries. Today it is the heart of the city’s Bangladeshi community in addition to offering vibrant street art, galleries, fashion and night clubs.

Enjoy the art, music, trendy shops and social life on Brick Lane. And check out the Backyard Market there. Open only on Saturdays, the market is a bustling place filled with various stalls offering vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, street food and more.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Brick Lane
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Brick Lane *photo by Robert Bye, Unsplash

View London from One New Change Rooftop

Want to appreciate gorgeous views of London, without paying a hefty fee to do so? Check out One New Change, a dining and shopping spot with a free rooftop deck.

Take the elevator to the top to enjoy those amazing views and the London skyline while capturing unforgettable photos.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London One New Change
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – One New Change *photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo, Unsplash

Walk Along Regent’s Canal

Regent’s Canal stretches from one end of London to the other. Walk along this beautiful hidden gem to escape the busyness of the city. Slip away from the noise. Stroll past fun locations such as Little Venice and Camden Market. Sit and people watch as joggers and walkers go by. Or enjoy a boat ride.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Regents Canal
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – walk along Regent’s Canal *photo by Daniil Korbut, Unsplash

Dine at Leadenhall Market

This covered market on Gracechurch Street dates back to the 14th century. Leadenhall sells fresh foods, flowers and many other wares.

A variety of shops occupy the impressive structure. Find a treasure or eat lunch here, where filming took place for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Due to its cobblestone floors and gorgeous, ornate ceilings, Leadenhall Market provided the backdrop for scenes near The Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in the film.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Leadenhall Market
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Leadenhall Market *photo by Kayla Koss, Unsplash

Explore The Hill Garden and Pergola

This is a fairytale place, built in the early 1900s, with views over nearby Hampstead Heath. Wander along the gorgeous terrace and enjoy the old Georgian arbor. There’s a faded beauty to this hidden treasure, with its overgrown plants and exotic flowers. Some even find Hill Garden and Pergola mysterious and a bit eerie, with its grandeur from the past. See how the energy there feels to you!

Non Touristy Things to Do in London The Hill Garden
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – The Garden Hill and Pergola *photo by Evgeny Klimenchenko, Unslash

Take a Dip at Hampstead Heath Park and Ponds

After The Hill Garden and Pergola, stop by Hampstead Health, with its park and bathing ponds. High up on a sandy ridge, the park provides a magical place to picnic while enjoying stunning views of London. Walk through the surrounding natural wonderland.

And if you feel like a dip, indulge in one of three ponds. There are three murky ponds to choose from: one for women, one for men and one for both. The park and ponds are favorites of local Londoners. Join them for a unique, authentic experience.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Hampstead Heath
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Hampstead Heath *photo by Amadeusz Misiak, Unsplash

Paddleboat at Battersea Park

Located in the borough of Wandsworth, 200 acre Battersea Park sits on the south side of the Thames River. This 150 year old park contains hidden gems such as a temple, an art gallery, a circular road perfect for walking or biking, a pagoda, fountains, beautiful trees and a picturesque lake. It’s the perfect place to unwind for a few hours. You can even ride on a swan paddleboat in the lake.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Battersea Park
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Battersea Park *photo by Ziqian Chai, Unsplash

Wander Through the Sherlock Holmes Museum

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, visit this museum. The fictitious sleuth is so connected to London that the city made the address 221B  Baker Street real. The building there duplicates Sherlock’s home with small artifact filled rooms and a narrow set of stairs.

The ground floor contains a lobby and gift shop. On the second floor is the room where Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes spent many hours together, solving crimes. And on the top floor are rooms that display crime scenes.

Check out the museum’s website for more info.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Sherlock Holmes Museum
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Sherlock Holmes Museum

Watch the Deer at Richmond Park

Richmond Park is a Royal Park and home to protected deer. There are acres of park to wander in, through grasslands and gardens and near waterways. Bring a picnic lunch or simply relax in nature. And while there, note the view of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. That unobstructed view is protected by law!

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Richmond Park
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Richmond Park *photo by Edson Rosas, Unsplash

Creep Along in Highgate Cemetery

While cemeteries may not be a typical place to visit, many contain fascinating architecture and nature paths to explore.

Highgate Cemetery in North London originally opened in 1839. The city needed more space to bury its dead. Due to its Victorian gothic architecture and elevated position overlooking the city, the cemetery became a desirable resting place for the wealthy upper class. After WWI, the cemetery fell into disrepair. The area became known for ghost stories and mysteries.

Today a group of charities oversee the upkeep of Highgate. It’s still atmospheric, if somewhat less creepy. Author Douglas Adams is buried here, along with Karl Marx. It’s a wonderful place to explore architectural features and narrow, overgrown paths through graves.

Non Touristy Things to Do in London Highgate Cemetery
Non Touristy Things to Do in London – Highgate Cemetery

Favorite Non Touristy Spot in London

Did you find a new place to explore in London? Which place would you visit first?

I look forward to another trip to London. I’ve seen many of the major tourist attractions. I look forward to getting to know the city at a deeper level by exploring more of her hidden treasures.

Click on the symbol below to order a map of London’s streets and boroughs.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

Create a Travel Medical Kit

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

Often when we travel, we do so with a sense of joyful abandonment. No rules, no schedules, no work to slow us down. It’s exhilarating. However,  that freedom from our “regular” life sometimes includes ditching our established health routines too.

I discovered quickly that maintaining my health while traveling is essential to my wellbeing. If I eat poorly, or stop the supplements, I can quickly feel bad. And that’s not the way I want to spend my trip…feeling bad or experiencing pain.

I carry specific health related items with me when I travel. And I only travel with a carry on, so I’ve pared down what I take with me to the most important to keep my health and energy at optimal levels.

Check out how to create a travel medical kit, personalized to your needs, that can see you through the days of travel.

Create a Travel Medical Kit title meme

Possible Items for a Travel Medical Kit

These are possibilities for creating your own kit. Important questions to ask yourself…

Am I traveling solo? Who is traveling with me? Are children traveling with me too?

Here is a broad list of possible items to consider for a travel medical kit:

  • pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, tension relief
  • sleep aids, eye mask, melatonin gummies
  • CBD products
  • essential oils
  • herbal supplements, multi-vitamin, Voke Superfoods
  • prescription meds
  • over the counter meds – sinus meds, allergy meds, UTI meds, decongestant, eyedrops, cough drops, cough relief, menstrual cramp relief, salves
  • sunscreen, sunburn relief
  • insect repellent, bug bite ointment, anti-itch ointment
  • bandaids, bandages
  • antibacterial ointments
  • hand sanitizer
  • sanitizing wipes
  • face masks
  • tweezers, small scissors, nail clippers
  • digital thermometer, blood pressure cuff, blood glucose monitor
  • antacids, heartburn relief, diarrhea meds, motion sickness tabs, upset stomach meds
  • rubbing alcohol, Witch Hazel, peroxide
  • cotton balls, cotton swabs
  • soothing lotions – eczema cream, diaper rash lotion, rash relief
Create a Travel Medical Kit voke
Create a Travel Medical Kit – Voke Superfoods tablets are one of my essentials for international travel

Create a Travel Medical Kit That Meets Your Needs

Of course, you probably don’t need to pack all of the above items. Choose what is most important to maintain your health. Everyone’s needs are different.

I travel light. Currently, I don’t take any prescription meds. A friend of mine, however, travels with two suitcases. One carries her clothing and the other, all of her meds and supplements. That’s what works best for her.

Depending on suitcase space and your health needs, choose the items that are essential. I don’t group my essentials together in a separate bag or container. Instead, I tuck items among my clothes, into shoes and alongside toiletries. Whether I’m traveling through Italy for 12 days or spending a long weekend somewhere, my essential health items go with me.

My Travel Medical Kit

Here are the items that I consider essential for my health and wellbeing. These items accompany me on all trips.

Pain Relief

I carry travel sized ibuprofen and acetaminophen in my purse. I occasionally have severe headaches. Years ago, my dentist gave me a valuable tip. For moderate to severe pain, take a combination of three ibuprofen and two acetaminophen. The combo works like a pain pill for me, but without the drowsiness or side effects.

And I love the Hilma products. They provide natural relief, for tight muscles or tension headaches. And the indoor/outdoor relief is wonderful for natural sinus congestion and allergen relief. Click links above to order Hilma.

Create a Travel Medical Kit Hilma
Create a Travel Medical Kit – Hilma Products

Supplements

  • Cat’s Claw
  • MSM
  • Magnesium
  • Comfort Guard
  • GLOW Complex

I take more supplements than these when at home. These though support joint and muscles health. After many years of chronic sciatica, I can still experience stiff, tight muscles in my legs, especially when walking for hours. The first four supplements listed above keep my legs working well and comfortable. The Comfort Guard is THE best supplement for reducing pain and inflammation. I love the combination of turmeric, ginger and boswellia.

And GLOW Complex is an amazing plant based collagen builder that also supplies a host of essential vitamins and minerals including B12, which is so important to keep my energy up.

Order Comfort Guard and GLOW in the links at end of post.

Over the Counter

  • Witch Hazel (carried in a small TSA approved bottle)
  • bandaids
  • antibiotic cream
  • Prid (a soothing drawing salve)
  • sunscreen
  • cotton balls and cotton swabs

Witch Hazel makes an ideal soother for scrapes, insect bites and cuts. Plus I use it for a toner after washing my face.

Prid is a drawing salve that I don’t like to be without. It relieves bug bites, spider bites, boils and ingrown hairs.

Protection

I’m fully vaccinated. Otherwise I wouldn’t be traveling at all. I still take cloth masks wherever I go, for the best protection. And in addition to social distancing and washing my hands frequently, I use SkinShield2, a protective antibacterial skin barrier lotion. A small amount of lotion kills germs, viruses and bacteria on contact and protects my hands for hours. Click link above to order yours.

Create a Travel Medical Kit - protection
Create a Travel Medical Kit – protection

Miscellaneous

  • peppermint tea bags
  • Incrediwear knee sleeve

My favorite tea goes with me. I tuck a few tea bags in my purse and more in my carry on. Peppermints soothes the whole digestive system and boosts spirits and mood.

The Incrediwear knee sleeve is a “just in case” item. Occasionally I twist my left knee and it reacts immediately with pain, swelling and inflammation.

Incrediwear products work by increasing blood flow to the injured joint, to reduce inflammation and swelling. They also relieve pain and accelerate recovery. Rather than using compression, Incrediwear products incorporate semiconductor elements within the fabric that release negative ions when stimulated by body heat. Read more about this amazing sleeve HERE.

What Will Go in Your Travel Medical Kit?

While it may look like a lot of items to carry, my essentials fit easily within my carry on and purse/backpack. I feel good knowing I have what I need to support my body and health during my travels.

What health items are essential for you? Do you have a standard set of items that go wherever you go? Share them in the comments!

Create a Travel Medical Kit

Want to Know How I Pack a Carry On?

Check out this post for my packing tips, to travel light.

Health Boosting Finds for Travel from Amazon:

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.