Travel With Sara

An Adventure Around Every Corner

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Best Kept Secret Along I-55 In Missouri: Cape Girardeau

I recently spent an evening and part of a morning in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Have you explored this charming town in Missouri? Cape Girardeau is home to some of the most amazing murals that I have ever seen. Once we arrived on Main Street and headed towards the Mississippi River, I was taken back. The murals looked amazing! Standing near all of these murals made me more appreciative of our country and those that worked so hard for the freedoms that we have today. Cape Girardeau, Missouri is a little secret that is hidden off of I-55. Hop off of I-55 to explore Cape Girardeau, as your family will thank you!

 

Murals

 

The Missouri Wall of Fame features several successful people from Missouri. I had no idea that Walter Cronkite was from Missouri and I was also surprised to learn that Rush Limbaugh grew up in Cape Girardeau. A self guided tour is available where  you can see Rush Limbaugh’s school and childhood home. And most recently, the movie Gone Girl was filmed in Cape Girardeau. Stop into the CVB at 400 Broadway to pick up a brochure showcasing the areas Gone Girl was filmed.

 

Missouri Wall of Fame

My family and I stayed at The Drury Suites, right off of I-55. This happens to be the hotel that Ben Affleck stayed at while filming parts of Gone Girl.

Drury Suites

 

Our suite was decorated in wonderful earth tones and was warm and inviting. Two beds were in a separate area from the main area, which makes a great arrangement for families. Two tv’s were also a hit! There’s nothing like a place to call home for the night where you can kick your feet up and feel like it’s all yours.

 

Suite at Drury Suites

 

The high speed internet was reliable and worked great. We arrived later in the evening, but had we arrived before 7 p.m., we could have enjoyed a light supper, which often features macaroni cheese and the like. Fresh, hot popcorn is popped nightly in the dining room from 7-10 p.m., which we were able to enjoy. Fountain pop is also available to enjoy with your popcorn.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri is located on the Mississippi River and is surrounded by several parks. I have no doubt that you and your family could spend 3-4 days in Cape Girardeau and have an amazing time. I can’t wait to go back and explore. All I needed was a short period of time to get a glimpse of what this charming community has to offer and I’m ready to go back for a visit.

Want to learn more about Cape Girardeau? Join myself and The Walking Tourists as we introduce all of you to Cape Girardeau during our MidWest Travel Chat, which takes place on February 4, 2015 from 11 am- Noon on Twitter. The hashtag is #MWTravel. We would love to have you join us.

*A special thank you to the Cape Girardeau CVB for hosting my family and I at the Drury Suites.

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Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South With Tips On Getting Around The Strip

Hilton Garden Inn

 

I recently visited Las Vegas, Nevada and have to admit that I was skeptical as to the location of the hotel I had booked. I was attending an event at The Paris, which is located on The Strip in Las Vegas. This hotel had some excellent reviews, but I was still cautious. I can tell you that the reviews are real and this hotel was a great place to stay while in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The swimming pool and grounds were very inviting and tropical at The Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South.

pool in Vegas

 

I found the staff to be extremely helpful, as they were friendly and eager to provide service. There was a 21st Century exercise room on site, as well as a business center where you can print out boarding passes and the like.

A fresh, hot breakfast was available every morning featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and just about anything else you can imagine. There is free transportation to take you to/from the airport, as well as to Mandalay Bay; which is located on the South end of the Strip. Transportation leaves on the 1/2 hour, but it’s important to let the front desk know where you are headed. This way, the front desk person can alert the driver that he will have passengers on the 1/2 hour and where he will be going. It’s also important to remember to keep a couple dollar bills on hand, to tip your driver.

The free transportation to the Strip takes you to a parking area at Mandalay Bay and it’s important to take note that you will need to call for a return trip to your hotel. The bus will pick you up at a quarter after the hour, so plan your schedule around your pickup time. If you are headed further down the strip than Mandalay Bay, you can walk the Strip or take the free tram to Excalibur. To get to the free tram, go up the escalators, and follow the walkway along the shops and you will see signs to the free tram. It’s important to take note, these trams start at different times of the morning, depending on the traffic on the Strip. On one day, my particular event started at 9 a.m. and the tram did not start running until then. I ended up making the 30 minute walk to my destination, but it all worked out.

Sara New York New York

After a long day on the Strip I was ready to head back to call it a night at The Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South. A cozy, quiet room awaited me and I knew I also had reliable internet service, which is very important to me. If you want to be able to step away from the crazy, madness of the Las Vegas Strip, this hotel is great for you while staying in Las Vegas. With reliable free transportation to the Las Vegas Strip, this hotel is a winner with me!

*Note: I paid for my own lodging and this review represents my opinions and no one else’s.

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Four Spring Break Destinations: Tips To Make Your Spring Break The Best Ever

Spring Break is just around the corner. It’s not too early to make some final plans for your family, fun destination. I have four destinations, with a special tip for each destination, that will be sure to make your Spring Break destination the best ever.

  • Wilmington, North CarolinaWelcome To WilmingtonWilmington, North Carolina is home to beaches that your feet will fall in love with. Sunrise is different every day, so my best tip, would be to get up early and make sure you get to witness the colorful sun. Movie and tv enthusiasts will fall in love with Wilmington’s historical district. The Hollywood Location Walk Tour shares all the little “secrets” that Wilmington has to offer when it comes to your favorite television shows.
  • Alabama Gulf Shores Alabama Beach TreeOrange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama will welcome your family with open arms. The sand here is some of the finest you will find. I have spent time on the beaches in Grand Turk, and I am here to tell you; that the Alabama Gulf Coast offers a beach that is just as nice, and maybe even a little bit nicer. The best tip I can give you, is to eat at The Gulf and Lulu’s. They both offer great food and views that are unique to the area. Need a place to call home while visiting Alabama’s gorgeous coastline? I’d highly recommend Caribe The Resort.
  • Walt Disney World

Grand Floridian

  • If you love crowds and being where the is a lot of energy, I would suggest spending Spring Break at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The best tip that I can give you is to stay on a Walt Disney World property and take advantage of the early entry times and extended evening park hours. My boys have closed down the Magic Kingdom at 3:00 a.m. and have told me (I did not stay out that late) that they could walk right on several attractions.
  • Crown Reef Resort: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Myrtle BeachFamilies looking for an affordable beach vacation, will appreciate all that Crown Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach has to offer. Most of the units are equipped with full kitchens, which can be a huge money saver when traveling with a family.The best tip I can give you about this destination is the fact that once you check in, you will not have to leave the property. The beach, water park, and lazy river are available to all guests. There are vendors with activities for hire right along the beach, should you wish to para-sail, jet ski and the like.

Home to me is in the Mid-West, so it’s always been natural for our family to head somewhere warmer over Spring Break. I hope this list helps you find a destination that will meet your families needs when it comes to Spring Break. Most of all, make memories that your family will remember forever. A good rule to go by- if it’s simple, your kids will remember it for years.

 

 

 

 

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February MidWest Travel Chat Featuring Cape Girardeau , MO- #MWTravel

Visit Cape Event Photo

Photo Courtesy Of The Walking Tourists

 

We hope you will join us for our second  #MWTravel Twitter chat that will feature Cape Girardeau, MO. Located along the mighty Mississippi River banks in SE Missouri, Cape Girardeau offers great history and natural outdoor beauty.You can take a stroll downtown for antique shopping and yummy foodie finds or take a driving tour of sites seen in the movie “Gone Girl.”Join us to learn more about this, as well as some of the other great things to do in Cape Girardeau to match any fancy

Here’s how to participate:
Participants in this chat will have the opportunity to learn what Cape Girardeau, MO has to offer over the next few weeks and what happens all year long in this family, friendly river city located in southeastern Missouri. Are you new to twitter chats? Here’s a step by step guide on how to participate.

WHEN: February 4 11a-12 pm (CST)

WHO:  Hosts @walkingtourists @travelwithsara @visitcape

WHAT: Twitter Party  – Cape Girardeau, MO

HOW TO JOIN: Follow the hashtag #MWTravel

PRIZES: Visit Cape will be giving away a Gone Girl prize pack comprised of a Gone Girl DVD, Gone Girl book, copy of the Gone Girl driving tour and a Gone Girl postcard.

To be eligible, you must:
Have at least one tweet on the party from 11a-12 pm CST on February 4.

We will see you there!

 

 

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Transfer Tips From Orlando International Airport To The Carnival Sunshine In Port Canaveral

Cruising is something that I have grown to love and one of the first challenges is getting to and from the ship. We arrived at Orlando International Airport the evening before we were scheduled to sail out of Port Canaveral on the Carnival Sunshine.

Cruising Carnival Sunshine

 

I had traveled through Orlando International Airport a few months before our scheduled cruise and had taken note of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, which was located right outside of the security gate.

 

Hyatt at Night

 

We got off of our plane from Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport and went up a set of escalators check into our hotel. Our stay here was perfect! There was no chasing down hotel transportation for the night and then having to get up in the morning to catch a ride back to the airport, to catch our shuttle to take us to the Carnival Sunshine in Port Canaveral.

Morning arrived and we checked out of our hotel room and then went down to the large food court that was between the hotel and the area where we were to catch our shuttle to Port Canaveral. We had breakfast and then headed to the desk to check into our shuttle. There were signs all along the way.

 

Carnival Transfer Signs

 

The staff at the Carnival shuttle check in area was fast and efficient. If you lost or forgot to bring your luggage tags with you, the staff here is more than willing to provide you with those necessary luggage tags.

We arrived about an hour before our scheduled departure, which meant a little wait in a comfy chair. I would not recommend arriving anytime later than we did. Our shuttle bus did board early and once we boarded our shuttle, and a headcount was taken, we were on our way to Port Canaveral to cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand, as the shuttle bus drivers do provide great service.

 

Luggage and people boarding shuttle

 

Upon our arrival at the port, the bus driver made sure to unload our luggage before he gave everyone on the bus the AOK to get off. This made for a rather quick departure from the bus, as we got off, grabbed our luggage and headed to the official Carnival check in desk.

So, the next time you fly into Orlando International Airport, I’d highly recommend you stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, as it will easily save you a couple hours of stress. The folks at Carnival Cruise Lines will provide you safe, affordable transportation to and from Port Canaveral. So, tell me… who’s ready to cruise on the Carnival Sunshine? I am raising my hand high!

*Note: We paid for our hotel stay and our Carnival Cruise. The opinions here are mine and nobody else’s.

 

 

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Discover Blue Fields Bay, Jamaica: Luxury Resort In The Caribbean

I recently stumbled across a luxury resort in Jamaica. Have any of you heard of the Bluefields Bay, featuring seaside villas in Jamaica? The photos caught my eye and it’s fair to say that I am dreaming of a few nights stay at this luxurious resort in Jamaica. I dove in a little further and I learned that Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas is an all inclusive resort.

Bluefields Bay

 

One of the amenities that stood out with me is the fact that when you book a seven day stay, you have VIP transportation service from the airport to your villa. You are greeted as soon as you step off the plane by a representative from Bluefields Bay Villas and they will guide you to the VIP lounge where you will be connected with your driver. Have you ever added up all your transportation costs when you arrive at your destination? This service takes out a lot of worries and added costs.

How does your own personal gourmet chef sound? This sounds like a week of fantastic meals that I don’t have to prepare. When I travel I like to check out the local culture and food is high on my list. I enjoy eating anything that doesn’t come out of my own kitchen, which makes Bluefields Bay, Jamaica very appealing to me.

Do you travel with children or adults that need care? Bluefields Bay has you covered with onsite nanny service and adult day care services. And speaking of children, they do produce a lot of laundry. Laundry services are also included in your stay.

Kayaks, stand up paddle boards and snorkeling gear are also included.

Bluefields Bay Kayaking

 

Tennis anyone? The tennis courts have recently been resurfaced and are ready for tennis enthusiasts.

You are now probably asking, “Where is Bluefields Bay located?” Bluefields Bay is located south of Montego Bay and east of Negril, which means that Bluefields Bay is the perfect escape from commercialization, which often means, “tourist trap.” This resort appears to offer solitude and beauty unlike anything you will find around the Caribbean.

I’ve been following Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest to be inspired on a daily basis! I’d recommend you follow along to keep the beautiful Caribbean colors fresh in your mind.

Who loves this view as much as I do?

 

Bluefields Jamaica Hammock

 

The Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas offers an affordable, luxury vacation that I cannot stop dreaming of.

If you are planning a honeymoon, family vacation, extended family vacation or maybe even a corporate retreat, book your vacation today. If you have stayed at the Bluefields Bay Resort in Jamaica, I’d love to hear about your experience! Do you have additional questions? You can call and speak with a real person at 1-877-955-8993.  For now, I’ll be dreaming of a luxury vacation in Jamaica as I view the white snow drifts outside my windows at home in Iowa.

*I did not receive any compensation in any way shape or form for this post. The opinions are mine and the factual information is from the Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas Resort website. Thank you to Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas for sharing their photos.

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Plan Your One Day Visit To Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. While walking the streets in the evening, I could hear the ocean, which was a few blocks away and it was so quiet that I could have heard a pin drop nearby. The pace in Carmel-by-the-Sea was very relaxing and kind of like a step back in time with all of the amenities of the 21st Century. If you have one day to explore Carmel-by-the-Sea, I’ve got the perfect itinerary for you.

Get up bright and early after your cozy nights stay at the Hofsas House Hotel, as in before the sun comes up.

Hofsas House

 

Head south on Highway 1 and drive a few miles South of Big Sur. Then turn back North to return to Carmel-by-the-Sea. The views here are some of the most amazing you will ever see.

Sunrise Big Sur

 

The sun is at an angle that will leave you in awe the whole drive. Be sure to take advantage of the pull outs that are along this route. Early in the morning you will have most of the road to yourself. If time permits, stop at Point Lobos State National Reserve on your way back North.

Drive through Carmel-by-the-Sea and drive to Monterey. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get a glimpse into the sea life in the area and a whole lot of history.

Monterey Canning

Street parking is minimal, so your best parking option is to find a parking ramp. Spend 2-3 hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then head back towards Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the perfect time to drive the famous 17 Mile Drive.

17 Mile Drive

 

 The views here are stunning and you will more than likely here and/or see a few sea lions along this route.

Evening should be closing in and once you return, park your car at Hofsas House Hotel and use your feet to get you to Anton & Michel‘s for supper.

lamb

 

Here you can enjoy fine wine, a beautiful rack of lamb, served up with top notch service. Hungry for Bananas Foster? Here’s how it’s all put together.

You know what surprised me the most about Carmel-by-the-Sea? It was the fact that it was a very quiet community. The Hofsas House Hotel was the perfect place to call home while visiting. While in the actual town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, I never once drove my car. I walked everywhere. And you know what? Walk down to the ocean in the morning, and if you are lucky, you will have a view like this!

rainbow

 

*A special thank you to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting me for two nights.

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The Gulf In Orange Beach Offers The Best Burger On The Beach

Entrance to The Gulf Restaurant

 

It’s no secret that I love to dine outdoors while traveling. Living in the MidWest, our outdoor dining options are not that great. When I can have a view like this with awesome food, I’m on it! The really nice thing about this outdoor dining area was the choices of seating. If you wanted a sofa, there was one available. If you preferred a chair, that was another choice. There were several unique areas to sit in. If you wanted shade, it was also available. If you are an outdoor dining enthusiast, The Gulf in Orange Beach, Alabama is a must experience.

Seating at The Gulf Restaurant

 

The Gulf, located at 27500 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Alabama offers outdoor dining and a burger and friends that were out of this world. I ordered the Gulf Burger, which was recommended by a local, with fresh cut french fries, and it did not disappoint.

Burger at The Gulf

 

I drove by The Gulf in the evening and I can tell you that it would have been fun to dine here after dark. Granted, the views would not be as grand, but the ambience would be an experience in itself.

The menu at The Gulf was not overwhelming, just right, in my opinion. The Gulf Burger, friend grouper sandwich, grilled Mahi-Mahi, and the bbq beef tacos were all popular items coming out of the kitchen while I was eating my lunch.

The view here consisted of sugar fine sand, palm trees and the beautiful Gulf Shoreline of Alabama. There’s something to be said about eating a burger on the beach, definitely worth the experience. Be sure to check out the cute gift shop that is on site. They offered a nice variety of souvenir items, as well as home décor items that felt like the beach.

I stayed at the Caribe Resort, which was a short drive from The Gulf. I’d highly recommend a meal here when dining alone or with friends and family. The Gulf offered good food and an excellent experience!

The Gulf Dining View

 

*Thank you to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama for hosting me. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and nobody else’s. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.

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Check It Off The Bucket List: Ziplining In Alabama Gulf Shores

I recently had the opportunity to cross something off of my bucket list, ziplining! Once I had a good grip on my gear, I was ready to hit ziplining school and the towers.

Sara ziplining with helmet

 

Have you ever ziplined? Hummingbird Ziplines, Gulf Adventure Center at Gulf State Park is located in Gulf Shores, Alabama which offers spectacular views of Alabama’s beautiful shoreline. The Hummingbird Ziplines took me over land and sea, and it was a breath taking experience.

With seven towers and six ziplines over the length of one mile, this is an overall amazing experience.

Sara ziplining over water

 

At one point, you are 90 feet off the ground and you do get to zipline over a lot of water. The final zipline takes you side-by-side with someone from your party. On the tour that I was on, there was one other person besides myself, with two tour guides. Our guides told us that it’s not uncommon to have 10 people in a group, so you would be smart to plan a minimum of two hours into your ziplining experience.

This ziplining course does include stairs and a lot of them! If you struggle with stair climbing, this course would not be for you. One guide will help send you off the platform and another guide will receive you at the other platform. Safety is #1, as everyone participants have to complete ziplining school before climbing to the top of the first tower. As a first time zipliner, I was a little shaky off the first tower. I quickly found myself having a blast and hoping that the course would not come to an end.

Our guides were very informative and allowed us to take our time and were sure we were safe at all times.

Ziplining team

 

I also thought it was pretty cool that Hummingbird Ziplines is located in Gulf State Park, and a portion of the proceeds from Gulf Adventure Center go towards the park. If you love an adventure and want an amazing view of Alabama’s stunning coastline, this ziplining adventure needs to be on your list of things to do while visiting Alabama’s Gulf Shores. The helpful staff at Hummingbird Ziplines will roll out the red carpet and make sure you have a memorable experience!

Once you are done with your ziplining experience, I’d suggest a meal over at Lulu’s, as it’s not very far from Hummingbird Ziplines. Most importantly slow down while visiting this beautiful coast line, as you will find yourself connected with nature in a way you never thought was possible.

 

*Thank you to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama for hosting me. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and nobody else’s. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.

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MidWest Travel Chat: January 7, 2015 11 a.m.-noon (cst) Featuring Clear Lake, Iowa

The Walking Tourists and I are excited to share some exciting news with you! We have teamed up to bring a monthly Twitter Travel Chat to all of you. Our first one will be held on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 from 11:00 a.m.- noon (cst). Each month we will showcase a travel destination in the Midwest. Clear Lake, Iowa will be featured on January 7th!

Flying Kites Near Sea Wall

 

Here’s how to participate:

Use the Hashtag in your Tweets for this particular event: #ClearLakeIa

Follow @TravelWithSara @WalkingTourists and @VisitClearLake on Twitter.  

TweetChat is an easy way to follow along with the Twitter Chat. All you have to do is type in the hashtags #ClearLakeIa and #MWTravel to follow along.

Participants in this chat will have the opportunity to learn what Clear Lake, Iowa has to offer over the next few weeks and what happens all year long in this family, friendly lake community located in North Central Iowa.

Main Street Clear Lake

 

And the other cool thing, participants have the opportunity to win some really cool prizes! This list may grow a little bit, so stay tuned!

  • 2 people will win 1 Clear Lake, Iowa Beach Towel
  • 1 Clear Lake, Iowa tote bag filled with a Clear Lake Beach Towel, Tumbler and 6 Pack Cooler
  • GRAND PRIZE: 2 people will win 2 round trip airplane tickets to travel from the Mason City Airport (located in Clear Lake, Iowa) to Chicago and back through Air Choice One.
  • 1 book featuring the history of Clear Lake, Iowa
  • 2 Chicken Dinners to The Barrel Drive Inn Clear Lake, Iowa
  • 1 $50 Gift Certificate to The Red Geranium

From the Winter fun to one of the best 4th of July Celebrations in the MidWest, Clear Lake, Iowa has it all! Do you have questions about Clear Lake and what it has to offer? Bring them to the chat and we can help answer them!

*Winners will be notified during the Twitter Chat. Be sure to use the hashtag #ClearLakeIa during the chat so you can possibly win one of these fun prizes.