Presidential Themed Stops Around Cincinnati

Cincinnati has several locations around the city that honor previous Presidents. You can try to visit most of them in one day or make it your quest to find them over time. [Read more…]

A Former Top Secret Bunker Hidden in a Hotel for 30+ Years

A former top secret bunker hidden in a hotel for 30+ years On our way to Washington, D.C. on a family vacation, we took the longer, scenic route through the mountains. We discovered a beautiful resort along the way that had both history and mystery nestled in the hills of West Virginia. The Greenbrier Hotel, located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, started from the popularity of the sulphur springs that were discovered there in 1778.

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Holiday Scenes from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

 

Holiday Scenes from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill KY

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has been a popular tourist destination for generations of families. In fact, I remember visits to Shaker Village from my childhood. As an adult, I got to experience a visit with a fresh perspective and appreciation. One of the first things you will notice when you step on the property is how peaceful it is there. It looks like an old New England town with 34 of the 260 original structures still on the property. The road between the buildings was once the main road that took travelers to Lexington into the 1970’s. Shaker Village has become a recent Discovery Destination because of all of the hands on engagement opportunities available to visitors.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Holiday

Holiday Scenes from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill KY

So who were the Shakers?

The Shakers were America’s largest and best known 19th century communal society. A small group of them came to Central Kentucky in 1805, and on a small farm near Harrodsburg they started a community called Pleasant Hill. By 1823 it had grown to Shakers and 4500 acres.

I learned several interesting things about the Shakers during my visit. They were a celibate community which is why the community died out over time but they were not opposed to alcohol. At the peak of it’s day there were around 6,000 members. 3/4 of the kids in the community eventually left. They received an 8th grade education and a trade. The Shakers believed that their work was worship and were known for their quality craftsmanship. They were also known for their quality livestock, packaged seeds (which they invented) medicinal herbs, and brooms (they sold about 50,000 brooms a year).The name “Shaker” was a description of how they moved during their services. Their official name was “United Society of Believer’s in Christ’s 2nd Coming.” They were progressive for their time because they believed in gender and racial equality. They also avoided a lot of epidemics because they were so clean and lived on average 20-30 years longer.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill grounds

Make sure that you don’t leave the property without enjoying a meal. The farm to table restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have never tried the lemon pie, I would highly recommend it. They still use the original Shaker recipe and it’s unlike any lemon pie I’ve ever had before. It’s made with the entire lemon rind and has no seeds. While you are dining, take note of the pegs in every room. The Shakers were very practical in their simplicity and the pegs offered a lot of solutions for keeping areas clean and tidy. They could even adjust the light in a room by adjusting their candleholder up or down on the peg.

Shaker Village 17

Lemon pie at Shaker Village

dining at Shaker Village

While you are on the property, there are several buildings to explore. I encourage you to ask lots of questions when you encounter a historical reenactor. It is also a good idea to get a schedule of activities going on that day so that you don’t miss any of the hands on demonstrations, performances, or tours.

Shaker Village Building

Red Stockings at Shaker Village

ornament at Shaker Village

Christmas Tree at Shaker Village

Shaker Village 18

stairs at Shaker Village

winding staircase Shaker Village

window view Shaker Village

Shaker Village loom

Loom at Shaker Village

Seeds at Shaker Village

Brooms at Shaker Village

broom at Shaker Village

If you are looking for a unique gift to remember your visit, there are two areas on the property where you can purchase gifts.

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Shaker Village 21

Shaker Village 19

That afternoon we took a tour of the property by hayride. We enjoyed a Bourbon Mulled cider, gorgeous scenery, an education on communal farming, and a beautiful Kentucky sunset.

Drink at Shaker Village

drinks at Shaker Village

Drinks and hayrides Shaker Village

Barn at Shaker Village

Holiday Sleigh at Shaker Village

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Shaker Village grounds

street at Shaker Village

sleigh at Shaker Village

Shaker Village 16

Shaker Village Sleigh

Shaker Village 8

That evening we took a candlelight tour led by visitor engagement coordinator, Elsa Wachter. This experience gave us a unique perspective and the opportunity to ask as many questions as we could think of. She was a wealth of information and made the tour very interesting.

candletlight at Shaker Village

Candlelight tour Shaker Village

That evening, I stayed overnight on the third floor of the Trustees’ office which gave me a nice view of the other buildings. My room had a Keurig, private bathroom, and television. I decided to stay partially unplugged by keeping my tv turned off that evening. I really enjoyed the quiet. There are 72 overnight guest rooms throughout the village. If you have younger kids, you might want one of the options that is more private. There are some buildings where you could be the only guests.

window view at night Shaker Village

Guest room at Shaker Village

chair with a view Shaker Village

The following day, I took a few final views of the grounds before we departed.

horses at Shaker Village

Horse at fence Shaker Village

I was sad to leave this charming destination but I definitely want to come back again to try out some of their more unique adventures that Shaker Village offers like the GLOW Paddle. I really want to try their Paddle + Yoga Weekends too.  Shaker Village offers lots of opportunities to connect and explore for ages young and old year round. You can find out more for planning your visit to the 3,000 acre Shaker Village by visiting their website. 

Shaker Village 21

Shaker Village 20

Shaker Village 11

Shaker Village 13

Thanks to Kentucky Tourism and Shaker Village for hosting my visit. 

 

Why Englewood is One of Florida’s Best Kept Secrets

Why Englewood is One of Florida's Best Kept Secrets

My first visit to Englewood, Florida was a bit of a surprise. I would describe Englewood as one of Florida’s best kept secrets. It’s not your typical tourist destination because you don’t see a lot of attractions and tourists shops saturated in the area.

Englewood Florida

The atmosphere in this community is very laid back. The crowds are lighter which allows you to just enjoy nature and the local restaurants with great seafood nearby without really long lines. Englewood is located less than an hour’s drive from the Punta Gorda Airport, with inexpensive flights from Allegiant Airlines making it an affordable option for someone who would rather fly and rent a car than drive.

Explore Stump Pass Beach State Park 

Stump Pass Beach State Park Englewood Florida

Stump Pass Beach State Park is so peaceful and offers a unique landscape with trails and lots of tree stumps along the shoreline. You might notice several areas marked off on the beach that are designed to protect the sea turtle nests. If you get the opportunity to watch one hatch or return to the ocean, depending on the time of year that you visit, you will have the memory of a lifetime.

Stump Pass Beach State Park trail

There is a 1.3 mile hiking trail that will give you the opportunity to see lots of wildlife.

Stump Pass Beach State Park Englewood Florida

There are many types of birds in the state park and you also might see a few starfish, a manatee, dolphin, or a really big fish. I would suggest taking a SUP tour so that you know where and what to look for in and around the water.

Take a SUP Paddleboard and Snorkel Tour

I’m all about stepping outside of my comfort zone which is why this adventure was both exciting for me and also made me a little nervous. I’ve tried SUP before, but not in water located near the ocean.

Hooked on SUP Englewood Florida

The beauty of taking a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) tour with Hooked on SUP is that you can do whatever you are comfortable with. The gear was brought to us at Stump Pass Beach State Park.

Hooked on SUP Englewood Florida

My husband found certain positions on the board to be more comfortable than others due to an old football injury, but the impressive part was that he tried it for the 1st time and discovered what worked for him. He didn’t hesitate at all when it was time to snorkel, but this Midwest girl took a little longer to ease into the water. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, which is why it was important for me to do it.

Hooked on SUP Englewood Florida

My fears did not come to pass and I can now proudly say that I snorkeled in an area called “Rag Alley” which definitely made it sound more a little more edgy. It was the perfect way to experience the water and wildlife.

Hooked on SUP Englewood Florida

Where to Stay

Weston's wannaB Inn Englewood Florida

Weston’s wannaB Inn is a vintage gem located next door to Stump Pass Beach State Park. Now when I say next door, I mean next door. I could literally see the state park sign next to the parking lot of our motel. The beauty of that means that guests at Weston’s WannaB Inn get the spoiled feeling of having a beach pretty much to themselves.

Weston's wannaB Inn Englewood Florida

The rooms have a retro vibe with a mini kitchen and the views from your balcony that are fantastic. There are 2 heated pools, bikes available for rent, a private beach, and free wifi.

Weston's wannaB Inn Englewood Florida

Weston's wannaB Inn Englewood Florida

Weston's wannaB Inn Englewood Florida

Find the perfect beach souvenir

Sunset Englewood Florida

There are so many beautiful shells along the beach in Englewood. We were also told that you can find shark’s teeth. You could easily make an adventure out of finding the most unique seashell to take home with you to remember your wonderful visit.

Shells on the beach in Englewood Florida

Local Restaurants

If I were planning ahead, I would have gone to the local grocery store to gets lots of food during our visit….but I actually enjoy going out to eat when I visit a destination, which means that I’m not much of a cook when I’m away…so I’ll give you a few suggestions.

Enjoy a lively nightlight, a large outdoor seating area with outdoor music, ping pong, bean bag toss, and excellent fish tacos at Flounder’s Restaurant and Tiki Bar, try at Grouper Rocket (Fried grouper with melted swiss, thousand island dressing & cole slaw on grilled rye bread) and take advantage of happy hour at Lock ‘N Key Restaurant with a pull tab that could result in a full, half price or $.50 drink, and a special dinner with a great ambiance starting with the West Indian Conch Fritters appetizers that are a nod to the owner’s upbringing in St. Croix at Farlow’s on the Water.

Flounder’s Restaurant and Tiki Bar Englewood Florida

Flounder’s Restaurant and Tiki Bar Englewood Florida

Lock ‘N Key Restaurant Englewood Florida

Lock ‘N Key Restaurant Englewood Florida

Farlow’s on the Water Englewood Florida

Witness the Magic of Golden hour

westons-wannab-inn-6

I recommend waking up early to watch the sunrise at least once during your visit and make sure that you also make a point to watch each sunset. They are very unique and magical every. single. time. The clear, warm water on the Gulf side and beautiful beaches are hard to beat. I’m sharing this gem with you but don’t tell too many people, ok?

sunset-englewood-florida

Thanks again to Charlotte Harbor for hosting our visit. All opinions are my own. 

Why Englewood is One of Florida's Best Kept Secrets

5 Types of People Who Would Enjoy the Beyond the Bricks Tour

 

5 Types of People who would enjoy the Beyond the Bricks Tour

I had the opportunity to take the “Beyond the Bricks” tour presented by the guides for the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. While the building is under construction with renovations, you have the opportunity to learn to appreciate the fine points of the building like never before. The “Beyond the Bricks’ tour takes you on a 90 minute outdoor tour around Cincinnati Music Hall that will open your eyes to important details that can so be easily overlooked.

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A Behind the Scenes Tour of the Dent Schoolhouse

A Behind the Scenes Tour of the Dent Schoolhouse

I’m a wimp when it comes to scary things but I knew that I had to face my fears when I was given the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of the Dent Schoolhouse. Not only is the Dent Schoolhouse known as Cincinnati’s scariest haunted house, but it’s known for being one of the top haunted houses in the nation!

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The Best Way to See Little Havana

The Best Way to See Little Havana

When I visit an area for the first time, I want to know all of the places that are a MUST SEE or DO. Our family knew that we wanted to visit Little Havana in Miami but it was a bit intimidating because we didn’t know what to order or which places that were best to stop at.

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An Overnight in a Tepee at Sleeping Bear Retreat

An Overnight in a Tepee at Sleeping Bear Retreat

I love finding unique experiences and places. When I found out that Sleeping Bear Retreat in French Lick, Indiana had tepees to sleep in, I was really excited to share this adventure with my family.

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