The winds have begun to change and the chill in the air is getting a little more brisk. The colorful leaves that were hanging on have become a little more barren on the trees. What comes next is magical this time of year in our next destination for our December Midwest Travel Twitter Chat – Kansas City, Missouri.
From delicious BBQ to amazing museums, public art and championship-winning sports teams, Kansas City has a ton to offer its visitors.
And that’s the stuff that’s available year-round. In the wintertime, the holidays shine bright in the lights of the shopping centers like the Country Club Plaza and Zona Rosa to the very family friendly activities at Crown Center Mall. Check out how much more there is to shopping during the holiday season during our chat! It’s exciting to be talking about another destination that offers four seasons and a variety of experiences.
Travel With Sara and The Walking Tourists are excited to share the fun at our December Midwest Travel Chat using #MWTravel. Our featured destination will be Kansas City, MO. They are generously providing a few prizes to participants in the chat.
If you are a new Twitter Chat participant, here’s a step by step guide to follow on how to participate.
I have traveled through St. Louis several times and not stopped to explore the area. I recently had the chance to explore St. Louis with the North Iowa Bloggers, and we had the opportunity to go up in the Gateway Arch. It had been several years since I had went up in the capsule that seats five people, so I was ready to head up.
The Gateway Arch is a National Monument, which commemorates Thomas Jefferson and his role in opening the west in the United States of America. A fun fact: The Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the U.S. at 630 feet.
Something to take note of is the fact that your personal items can and will be searched before entering the Gateway Arch. One of our bloggers had mace in her purse and she had to dispose of it before entering. Make note: No firearms, knives, pepper spray, mace, or electronic weapons are allowed. Think of it like security at the airport and your entry will be smooth.
Inside there are two sets of trams. On our particular visit, there was one set running. During the summer, both are running and long lines do prevail. Our wait, the first week of November, was short and our visit was fun! Check out this view.
The area at the top is not large, but it does hold 160 people and there are 16 viewing windows on each side. Plan to spend a minimum of 45 minutes, on a quiet day, exploring the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. If you really want to get a good look out the windows, plan a little more time.
We explored and had a great time riding the tiny five person capsule to the top of the Gateway Arch. Once we were down, we checked out all the finds in the Gift Shop and headed on over to Ballpark Village, which is located next to Busch Stadium. We spent a couple hours enjoying appetizers and a few drinks before we headed back to St. Charles, Illinois. When we left the stadium area, we were greeted with this view.
A contrasted view from the daylight, but well worth the view. The Gateway Arch is a fun place to visit while in St. Louis and it’s also a great place to reflect on how the founders of our country traveled from east to west. Have you visited the Gateway Arch? If so… I’d love to hear about it!
* A thank you to the folks at the Gateway Arch for the ticket I received to visit. The opinions here are mine and nobody else’s.
Our adventure started in Clear Lake, Iowa and we spent two nights in St. Charles, Missouri at the Country Inn & Suites, after we landed at the Lambert- St. Louis International Airport.
We learned, through our travels, that the best way to get from the airport to St. Charles was to call the hotel. The Country Inn & Suites will call a local St. Charles cab to transport you from the airport to the hotel. By doing this, your cab fare will be approximately 1/2 price. We learned by not doing this upon our arrival.
I had visited St. Louis several times before, but I had never set foot in St. Charles, Missouri. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised, as St. Charles, Missouri was home to a Main Street unlike any other. From the historical store fronts to the people, this community had it all. And then there was the food. This was a Main Street where it would not take long to blow a diet in an hour. From the fudge to the cookies at Grandma’s Cookie shop, there was something to fill the appetite of everyone.
It’s quite evident that St. Charles, Missouri is proud of its heritage. The buildings have been preserved and the community is vibrant. Christmas Traditions is coming very soon to St. Charles and we were told by the Chamber of Commerce office and several locals that there is nothing like a traditional Christmas in St. Charles, Missouri. Christmas Traditions runs November 27- December 24. I was blown away by a fall visit, so I can only imagine how awesome this event is. Have you been?
And a view off of Main Street looked something like this!
And if you happen to live in St. Charles, Missouri, I would encourage you to hop on Air Choice One and visit Clear Lake, Iowa. Christmas By The Lake is December 5th, with festivities all weekend long. If you can’t visit this season, Clear Lake is open 365 days of the year and has something going on all the time. From the Kite Festival to an amazing 4th of July Celebration, known as the BEST in the midwest.The Mason City Municipal Airport is easy to fly in and out of. The Best Western Holiday Lodge in Clear Lake, Iowa also offers free transportation to and from the airport.
Stay tuned… we also explored St. Louis when we were in town.
*Thank you to the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event, Kinseth Hospitality for lodging and to Air Choice One for the transportation.
We often think of the beach as a place to sink our toes in the sand. Have you ever thought of cycling your way along the beach?
I recently had the opportunity to cycle along the beach, the Broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida. And you know what? It was a fun way to experience the beach and all it has to offer.
Sun and Fun Cycles offers a bicycle for everyone. Yes, you read that correct, a bicycle for everyone. Located just a little North of the amazing new Margaritaville in Hollywood Beach, this is a must experience. From high quality wheelchairs, to mobility scooters and bicycles of all shapes and sizes, Sun and Fun Cycles has you covered.
I had the joy of meeting, Maria, the owner of Sun and Fun Cycles and it’s evident that she wants everyone to experience the Broadwalk and the beach in Hollywood, Florida. She was not only passionate about her business, but all of Hollywood, Florida. I love traveling and meeting folks that are the energy behind their community. Maria was all that and more! She was excited and worked just like we travel writers do. What is not to love about this photo?
We had a fantastic day cycling with Maria and it was fun listening to her share the history of some of the businesses along the Broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida. It was a lot of fun pedaling with others along the Broadwalk, as we had several moments of laughter. Try riding a bicycle built for four? It’s really a fun time, you should try it!
I had never visited Hollywood, Florida and quite honestly I cannot wait to return. It’s located right between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. You will want to stay tuned… as I have much more to share on my visit to Hollywood, Florida. My biggest takeaway from the time I spent with Maria was that Hollywood is a great family destination and offers something for everyone. Have you visited Hollywood, Florida? If so, what did you do?
A thank you to Sun and Fun Cycles and Hollywood, Florida for hosting me for the day.
Cruising on the Carnival Sunshine brought a stop in St. Maarten, a port we had never visited. We had seen several photos of airplanes flying low on a beach and that was all we really knew about St. Maarten. The list of shore excursions was long, yet one stood out, the coastal hike. You may be asking why we would want to pay for a shore excursion that took a lot of work.This should answer your question.
Living in Iowa, we have cornfields and lots of flat ground. We do not have gorgeous views of the ocean on a daily basis. A coastal hike looked like a beautiful adventure, and let me assure you, it was all that and then some.
It was almost nine years ago that I had back surgery and was faced with the challenge of learning how to walk again. My neurosurgeon could not guarantee that I would be walking again. Most people do not know that I have foot drop, which means that my right foot does not function normally. I have learned how to walk very close to normal and continue to embrace all that life has to offer. Hiking has always been a love of mine, as it allows you to explore places that many people opt to never see. As many of you know, when I am told I cannot do something, I often prove others wrong. I cannot tell you how liberated I felt as I hiked along this magical coastline in St. Maarten.
I honestly believed that I would never be able to hike in another country and be surrounded with all this beauty. I will admit it, I shed a tear or two, as I strolled along the coast.
My husband and I have hiked many miles through Rocky Mountain National Park over the years, so I kind of knew what we were in for. This coastal hike had some ups and downs, but nothing like the ups and downs in Rocky Mountain National Park. The views along this coastal hike were absolutely stunning!
St. Maarten had so much to offer. I honestly cannot wait to go back. I know there was so much more to explore in this port. Cruising brings an opportunity to visit new countries and get a taste of what each country has to offer. Well, St. Maarten, you will see me again!
Have you explored St. Maarten? If so, I’d love to hear what you did and what your thoughts were of this beautiful country.
Galena is home to a picturesque setting unlike anywhere else in the Midwest. The Bestwestern Designer Inn & Suites is the ideal place to cozy up for your evenings while exploring this beautiful city of a little under 4,000 residents. Only 1/2 mile from Main Street, this is the closest hotel to downtown Galena.
What’s not to love about a space like this?
A nice, large hot tub to soak in after a day of strolling and exploring Galena is sure to be welcomed by anyone that stays here.There was an interior door to the room as well as a door to the outdoors that offered a small patio area.
A hot breakfast was served in the morning and a business center is also available. Many of you know that business centers are something that I check out at every property I stay at. This one was user friendly!
The Bestwestern Designer Inn & Suites, Galena is unique in the fact that it offers and indoor and an outdoor swimming pool. Thinking you want to swim outdoors, but not sure? Hope in on the inside and then swim outdoors through the door.
Photo Courtesy of Bestwestern Designer Inn & Suites
With several designer suites to choose from, you will find one to meet you and the needs of your family. It’s important to note that every unit has a refrigerator, hair dryer, coffee pot and microwave. This means there is no need to pack a hair dryer when you head to Galena and make the Bestwestern Designer Inn & Suites your base camp.
The historical sites as well as the food will keep you busy all day and then some! Need a little more encouragement to visit Galena? Check out this view!
The month of October is coming to a close and many of us are now starting to think about the holiday season and upcoming winter months. The Walking Tourists and I are excited to announce that our November Midwest travel chat will feature Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha is a culinary hot bed which features holiday activities that will leave you with your jaw dropping. The Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition in Omaha, as well as hundreds of poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens. Looking for a trip with your girlfriends? Omaha even has you covered in that department. Want to learn more? Join us, we’ve got the scoop on all the fun that Omaha has to offer!
Are you new to Twitter? Here’s a great step by step guide to follow on how to participate in a Twitter Chat.
And check out the prizes that you can win, just by joining in the chat and learning all about Omaha, Nebraska.
(2) Vouchers to see a Christmas Carol at the Omaha Community Playhouse and an Omaha Holiday Bulb.
(4) Passes to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium with 2 Omaha Mugs.
(2) “Walk on Bob” t-shirts and a Durham Family Pass
To be eligible to win prizes, you must:
Have at least one tweet in the Twitter Chat from 11 am- Noon (CST) /Noon- 1 PM (EST) on November 4, 2015.
We will see you on Twitter on November 4, 2015 at 11 am (CST)! Be sure to use the Hashtag #MWTravel.
A special thank you to Omaha, Nebraska for partnering with us to bring our readers another exciting #MWTravel chat! The Walking Tourists and I enjoy sharing what the Midwest has to offer and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
It’s no secret that I am a lover of cruising with Carnival Cruise Lines and the warm, sultry air that accompanies a Caribbean Cruise. Carnival Cruise Lines offers a nice variety of ships and itineraries to choose from. You will find a ship that easily meets your needs and more. Cruising is good for your soul and it’s a sure way to put yourself in check with nature.
Are you pondering the thought of taking a Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines? Here are three reasons why you should book that cruise today.
24/7 MAID SERVICE
Let’s face it. Life gets pretty crazy and it’s nice to have someone else make your bed and replenish the bathroom with clean, dry towels. Need ice in a bucket? Trust me, your friendly steward on board your Carnival Cruise ship will fill your bucket and return it with a smile.
The fact that you will never have to think about what is going to be served for breakfast, lunch or supper is reason number two! When cruising you will have zero responsibility when it comes to food prep and taking care of the dirty dishes. If you happen to be cruising on a ship that offers Guy’s Burgers, be sure to experience all it has to offer. Make note of the awesome fixings to top off your amazing burger!
NO SET SCHEDULE
The beauty of cruising is the fact that you get to choose your schedule. If you want to lay out on a lounge chair, go for it! If you want to eat, head to the Lido deck for a wide variety of food choices! Have a hankering for pizza at 2 am? Never fear, Carnival Cruise Lines has you covered with 24/7 pizza service! Want to read a book while sitting on a chair on your balcony, go for it!
Personally, I would suggest booking a cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. Jaime Dee is the best cruise director and she will guarantee that you have a great time on your cruise! When is the last time you were up close and personal with your cruise director?
What this boils down to, is the fact that cruising Carnival Cruise Lines offers zero personal responsibility for the cruiser. Someone else will pamper you and take care of the day to day things that you dread doing at home. Now, in regards to being responsible with time, that’s a whole new ball game. Stay on ship’s time and your cruise will be just fine! What are you waiting for? Book that Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines today, as you won’t regret it!
Decorah, Iowa is all about the food. From the farm to table concept to the farmer in the field, this community is a progressive community when it comes to farm to table meals. It all starts at the Oneota Food Coop. Here is where you will find before school cooking classes, yes, you read that right! How many communities offer cooking classes as a before school program? In my home area, none. The Oneota Food Coop receives much of its fresh produce from local growers, which in turn introduces kids to the farm to table concept.
We dined at La Rana and when my plate appeared, my jaw dropped!
This was as delicious as it looks. The green beans were extra fresh, crisp and crunchy. They were drizzled in garlic butter and partnered with the meat that I had, it was the ideal farm to table meal. The best part about this meal was the fact that I was able to meet the farmer that grew these green beans, the next day.
Meet Erik of Patchwork Green Farm. Erik grew the green beans that I had enjoyed for supper. I thought it was pretty neat to see where he grew what I had eaten the evening before. He and his family grow more than 200 varieties of annual vegetables on their five acres of annual vegetable garden production.
Erik of Patchwork Green Farm markets his produce to local restaurants and folks in Winneshiek County. We visited the Winneshiek Farmer’s Market in Decorah and we saw Erik on a busy Wednesday afternoon with his produce for sale at the market.
As with all farmer’s markets, depending on the season, is what you will find available for purchase. There are typically 40 vendors on site and it’s not uncommon to have a musician or two performing. Decorah, Iowa showed me that the farm to table concept is thriving and as far as I can see, this concept is only going to get bigger and better. I’d love to see other communities show the enthusiasm and embrace the farm to table concept, as Decorah has.
Stay tuned.. my visit to Decorah was a whirlwind tour and featured a lot of fun! From the world famous Whippy Dip to the historic Winneshiek Hotel, I’ve got more to share in the following weeks. I’m curious, how often do you frequent your local farmer’s market, if you have one?
*Thank you to Visit Decorah, Winneshiek County and Travel Iowa for organizing such a wonderful Fall fam/foodie tour of Decorah.
Decorah is located in North Eastern Iowa and is the perfect destination for families, especially in the Fall. Iowa is not traditionally known for apples, but let me tell you; the apple orchards and pumpkin patches are worth a visit in the Fall. Families of all ages will appreciate what Decorah has to offer.
Pinter’s Gardens and Pumpkins
Pinter’s, located West of Decorah on Highway 9, offers family activities for kids of all ages, as well as an abundant supply of pumpkins to choose from. If you are wanting that “different” pumpkin, this is your go to place.
Family activities include:
And for those that enjoy shopping and dining, Pinter’s has you covered! From fudge that is to drool for, to chicken croissant salad sandwiches, meal time is tasty at Pinter’s. Looking for that unique gift for someone? The gift shop has several fun gardening accessories as well as awesome home décor that will make the perfect gift.
The Fall 2015 schedule can be found here. Be sure to follow Pinter’s on Facebook, to stay up to date with what’s going on all year around. If you don’t have time to squeeze in a visit for Fall 2015, plan now to visit in 2016, as your kids will thank you.
Peake Orchards is located 319 North Line Drive, near Waukon, Iowa 52172. Peake Orchards (we are now talking apples) is a family owned orchard that began in 1979. You can find the good folks of Peake Orchards at the Local Farmer’s Market in Decorah on Saturdays from 8:00 – 11:00 am and then again on Wednesdays from 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Want to visit the orchard? I can guarantee you that a Fall drive in the Decorah area in October is one of the best drives you will find in the whole state of Iowa.The apple trees were full on the day I visited and I must say that those Honeycrisp apples are mighty fine!
The area is peppered with rolling hills and all the bright colors that Fall has to offer. The shop and orchard are open to guests on Saturdays from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sundays from Noon- 5:00 pm. And don’t be surprised if you find a pumpkin or two in their pumpkin patch. Peake Orchards is family friendly and a fun place to see how farmers are growing food that we put on our tables, day in and day out.
Here’s a little insight as to how the apples are sorted at Peake’s Orchard.
Decorah,Iowa is a great place to fall in love with all that Fall has to offer. Have you and your family explored Iowa this Fall? If not, I hope you are inspired to check out all that Decorah has to offer.
*Thank you to Visit Decorah, Winneshiek County and Travel Iowa for organizing such a wonderful Fall fam/foodie tour of Decorah.