Travel stories, tips and suggestions for travel in North America

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The Top 6 Wineries to Visit in NYC

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

With more than eight million people living in New York City, you’d be hard pressed to find room to plant and cultivate a full-fledged vineyard. Fortunately, though, the concrete jungle is surrounded by greener pastures, where some experts have been able to grow those tasty grapes.

The next time you’re in New York City, set aside some time for a day trip outside of the metropolis to find the bona fide wineries New York City has to offer. We’re not talking about the exquisite wine bars you’re sure to find on the island, either: these are green, rolling vineyards with more to offer than just a delicious glass of wine.

Read on to find out where you’ll stop on your next Big Apple getaway.

Benmarl Winery

Benmarl Winery is widely known as America’s oldest vineyard, since its first grape vines were planted in 1848. Since then, the place has flourished and expanded to produce 15 varieties of wine, with many flavors inspired by the winery’s location in the Hudson River Valley. Speaking of which, you can take in some lush, green scenery while you sip amidst the valley’s rolling hills.

Martha Clara Vineyards

The Martha Clara Vineyard knows its clients might be coming in from New York City, so they’re prepared: groups shuttled in by bus, limo or car service can sign up for a group tasting once they arrive. And the flavors they sample won’t be disappointing: the winery has barreled everything from trendy rosé to super sweet Riesling.

Bashakill Vineyards

wine glass

The Hudson River Valley is clearly a hub for New York wineries, but developers have only scratched the surface of the area’s potential: 225,000 acres of land viable for wine-making, only 500 have been used so far.

Fortunately, Bashakill Vineyards has taken up shop — and taken advantage of the near-constant temperatures and high humidity in the Catskill Mountains. The winery can produce precisely aged pours because of this climate, and you’ll be glad to imbibe their tasty creations.

Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Most New Yorkers heed the call of the Hamptons each summer, but they do so to lay out on the area’s pristine, star-studded beaches. Your next trip should also include a visit to Wolffer Estate Vineyard, where Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are never in short supply. They pair these staples with smaller batches of specialty wines and ciders.

Oh, and, speaking of pairing: you can get the right charcuterie or cheese board to match your wine here, too. And, if you’d rather just sample the wine, they have tasting flights on the menu as well.

Orchard Hill Cider Mill

wine glass in a field

Mixing things up a bit, the Orchard Hill Cider Mill serves up hard ciders rather than wine. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking that cider is a one-flavor, one-size-fits-all beverage. Instead, Orchard Hill has multiple ciders on deck, including extra-dry and fizzy varieties. Much like Wolffer Estate Vineyard, they pair their pours with seasonal food, though they also incorporate their ciders into the ingredients list to create savory glazes, for example. Yum.

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard sites on Long Island, and its picturesque pastures full of horses do more than just produce wine. They also provide homes for the livestock at this half-winery, half-horse-rescue. They’re equally as serious about both pursuits, too, as they brought their vines directly to Long Island from France.

If you head to Baiting Hollow, you’re likely to be told how many of the pours take their names from horses who have been saved and rehabilitated there. You can also see the horses for yourself Thursday through Sunday, when the winery offers pony rides and live music to its guests.

It’s not the first, second or even the third thing that comes to mind when visiting New York, but the state’s winery reputation just keeps getting better and better. So, as you plan your trip to the Big Apple, don’t let a day trip outside of the city fall to the bottom of your list. Instead, experience all that New York’s wineries have to offer and add another unforgettable destination to your big trip. Cheers!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Romantic Culinary Travels in El Paso

El Paso is a city that manages to be both modern and sleek yet steeped in history and culture. Therefore, it’s an exciting destination for any traveler. It’s also an amazing place for couples to explore, with a variety of hotels in downtown El Paso to spark some romance while staying close to the action. What may be most surprising is what you’ll find when looking to add a little wining and dining to that spark. In fact, you’ll want to try several culinary experiences in El Paso if you’re looking for a little romance in this west Texas destination.

Journey Along The Wine Trail

Image via Flickr by uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs

Along the winding path of Highway 28, you’ll find an incredibly romantic setting as you make your way to one of the area’s most appreciated wine regions. Heading along the wine trail, you can hold hands and talk as you drive by stunning scenery, peaceful landscapes, and vineyards.

It’s here where you’ll also be able to spend some time as a couple as you visit El Paso’s only vineyard and winery, Zin Valle Vineyards, for a free wine tasting. You can also make a day of it and head over on a Sunday when live music is playing. Bring a blanket and some food and enjoy a picnic with whatever wine you both prefer.

Explore the Growing Brewery Scene

The beer culture in El Paso is rapidly growing, with more and more breweries opening. This scene offers the opportunity to explore El Paso in a unique way. There’s also a lot of fun and excitement to be had as a couple while exploring your palate and learning about the flavor profiles of beer.

You can keep date night within the heart of the city and head to El Paso Brewing Co. for a beer tasting, a snack, and a lesson in the area’s beer history. It’s a great place to enjoy each other’s company while learning something new and immersing yourselves in a part of the area’s culture, both past and present.

Indulge in Diverse Cuisines

While Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex may be what first comes to mind when thinking of food in El Paso, the city actually boasts a whole host of different restaurants. They offer a variety of dining experiences for couples looking to enjoy a romantic meal together.

If you want to ignite that spark over delicious food, you can find pretty much whatever you both want, from Mexican cuisine at L and J Cafe to American-style dishes at the Mesa Street Grille. With patio options, live music, or candlelit tables, you’ll be able to find the perfect setting for you both.

 

El Paso is definitely a romantic destination for couples. While there are tons of different things to do throughout the city, you’ll find exploring the culinary scene together a special experience. There’s nothing more romantic and sensual than feeding each other bites of a great meal across a table, staring into each other’s eyes while sipping wine, or laughing at the foam clinging to your upper lip as you savour a craft beer.

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10 Best Dates in Washington, D.C. That Aren’t Dinner & A Movie

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital, and for good reason: the city has a rich history and a lively, diverse culture to match. In other words, you’d be remiss to spend every single night out at dinner and a movie when there’s so much else to do.

Date Ideas To Spark Some Fun & Romance in Washington, D.C.

Need a little help planning your next out-of-the-box excursion? Here are 10 ideas for making your D.C. date something extra special:

Picnic in the Park

A picnic is a roundabout way of eating a meal on a date: you won’t be dining at a restaurant, but you can still whip up a meal to impress. On top of that, you’ll be able to go and grab a seat at any time you want without reservations. If that’s not enough incentive, the city has a lengthy list of gorgeous parks that would paint a picturesque backdrop to your picnic. It might even be more romantic to dine on a blanket beside the Potomac or under a cherry tree, right?

Monument Tour

Chances are, you’ve seen the majority of D.C.’s most famous monuments. But, when is the last time you went on a stroll to see them all in one fell swoop? You and your date can embark on a walking tour of the National Mall and check out the city’s most famous landmarks. Plus, all that time walking will give you two a chance to chat and really get to know one another.

Washington DC Monument

Arcade or Billiards Bar

Another dating rut to fall into is grabbing drinks over, and over, and over again. Instead, make your trip to the bar a bit more memorable by choosing a spot with tasty beverages and a memorable activity. A gaming bar like the city’s Atlas Arcade allows you to play retro video games while you imbibe. Or, you can hit up a billiards room and play pool, as well as darts, shuffleboard and arcade games, depending on the place you go.

Outdoor Movie

Okay, so this is technically still a movie date. But the fact that you and your date can grab a blanket, some snacks and sit under the stars while watching a movie makes it just a tad more special. scape the room by solving various puzzles, too, so you can find the one nearest to you or the screen showing the movie you most want to see. Offerings range from blockbusters, to 80s classics, to cartoons — the choice is yours.

Escape Room

Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it sounds. Places like Escape Artist DC give participants a full narrative, creating a world that has a puzzle to solve within it. You and your date will have to try and scape the room by solving various puzzles but it will be a fun challenge for you to complete together. Once you’re out, you’ll feel like you really earned a good cocktail, which will round out a seriously memorable evening.

Kayaking

The Potomac River you picnicked beside is the perfect place for a kayaking trip, too. You and your date can sign up for a guided tour, or simply rent a kayak or canoe together and start rowing. If you want to do something a little less challenging, you can also rent paddle boats in smaller bodies of water like the Tidal Basin, where you’ll have incredible views of the Jefferson Monument.

Washington DC Date ideas

Museum Hop

Washington is home to some of the nation’s best museums, and they cover a broad range of interests. In fact, allowing your date to choose the museum you’ll visit will give you an insight into his or her interests and personality. Will it be the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, or the International Spy Museum, where you can pick up an alias and try your best to live like an undercover? The choice is theirs.

Visit a Winery

You might be surprised to find out that there are some bona fide wineries within a stone’s throw of Washington, D.C. Many of them have open hours, tours and tastings, as well as activities like live music, movies and bocce ball on the vineyard lawn. Your date will be impressed as you whisk him or her off, though it would be best to grab a shuttle or taxi out to the winery so you can both imbibe.

Volunteer

The nation’s capital has endless opportunities for locals to get involved and make the city — and world — a better place. You and your date can brainstorm the causes you care most about and find a charity involved with your top choice. Then, sign up to fill grocery bags at a food bank, walk shelter dogs or help re-paint a local school. The few hours you spend doing good will make you feel pretty good about yourselves and each other.

Cook Together

Finally, you can always keep things casual and simple and still eat a hearty meal. Simply skip the fancy restaurant dinner and find a recipe online instead. You can work together to peel, chop, sauté and bake, producing a full meal as a team. Sometimes, a meal you make yourself tastes even better than what you buy in a restaurant, anyway — you should try that theory out and see.

Now, Make It A Date!

Chances are, at least one of these date ideas suits you and your significant other. So, cancel your dinner reservations and plan something out of the ordinary instead. You’ll both enjoy doing something different, but mixing things up will make you enjoy those special dinner-and-a-movie nights even more. To us, that sounds like a win-win.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Best Places To See A California Sunset In San Francisco

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Typically when people are planning a vacation, they think of fun activities to do during the day, like hiking or seeing museums. When you’re going to vacation on the west coast, however, it’s a great idea to plan ahead to see the sunset in a way you wouldn’t be able to at home. It’s one of the best things you can do, especially when you’re visiting San Francisco. Thankfully there are easy ways to incorporate the sunset into your next trip.

Unique Ways to Enjoy the California Sunset Next Time You’re In San Francisco

Here are some ideas for finding that perfect sunset spot while in San Francisco!

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

golden gate bridge sunset california

You already know that when you go to San Francisco that driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is going to be on your list of things to do. Why not drive across it and see the sunset at the same time? The international orange color of the towers will only accent the hues of the sunset, just make sure you keep an eye on the road! If you’d rather sit and watch, there are multiple places to gaze at the bridge where you’re sure to see the sunset from as well.

Outdoor Evening Performance

Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is also known for being a hub of local talent, so if you want a true experience of the city, you’ll want to catch a concert while you’re there. There are plenty of outdoor concert places where you’ll be able to see the sunset at the same time, and some of them are even free. Check the listings for the time you’ll be in town and take in every moment!

Bonfire on The Beach

sunset in san francisco california

Bonfire supplies are probably not among what you’ll pack in your suitcase, but you should definitely pick some up at the store once you get to wherever you’re staying in San Francisco. You’ll have access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, so why not be on one while the sun sets? This is a great option for both people who want something fun and casual to do, and people who want something romantic. As long as you read up on recreational fire regulations, you’ll be in for a great night.

Cocktail Cruise

While you’re at the ocean, look around for a fun cocktail cruise that will end your day on a great note without forcing you to reschedule your whole vacation. Cocktail cruises are usually no longer than a couple hours, but the key is to pick one that has the kind of entertainment you like that’ll see sights you want to explore. Some cruises are scheduled to end in a gorgeous sunset.

This is another great idea for people wanting casual or romantic sunset activity ideas. It’s popular to take a cocktail cruise with a bunch of your friends, because the atmosphere is so laid back. Still, it can give couples a private moment on a balcony that floats past stunning scenery, so why not give it a try? Especially if you get a cruise that focuses on ending with the sunset, you won’t even have to worry about timing your night. Let the cruise staff do that for you!

Hippie Hill

If you’re more of a laid back, easy going kind of person, Hippie Hill is definitely a place for you to try and catch the sunset. A gathering spot in Golden Gate Park since the 1960s, Hippie Hill provides a place where you can enjoy a range of sunset activities, like playing some fetch with your dog or holding a barbeque. With all of the ways you can enjoy the park, Hippie Hill is a great place to watch the sunset from, especially if you’re visiting with a group of friends.

 

Watching the sunset during a trip to San Francisco can easily make the top of the list of things you’re going to tell your friends about once you get back home. The key is to do some research and find the activity that fits your trip. Whether you’re looking for something fun or romantic, San Francisco will be able to offer something that fits your needs, all while basking in the orange glow of the sunset.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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Amazing Countryside Road Trips In The USA

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

When one day blurs into the next and your coffee sits cold on your desk, you long for country roads to reconnect to your inner self. At home, after a long day, you wind down by doing yoga, binge watching a T.V. show or enjoying a glass of wine.

You seek whatever simple pleasures you can find. There’s something about the way mountains, meadows and farms stretch out over vast landscapes that soothes the soul, how the world is wide with wonder.

Enjoy the Countryside by Traveling to These Places

Wind down by taking a road trip on those winding country roads to these rural places:

Lover’s Leap in Virginia

“Virginia is for Lovers,” says the road sign as you cross the border into the state. The roads write and coil slowly upward like something alive, as the foothills flirt with daring cliffs. With stunning views from high precipices, Lover’s Leap winds through Patrick Country, Virginia and is located in Meadows of Dan, close to the North Carolina border. A sad tale surrounds the site as two lovers — a settler and Chief’s daughter — chose to be together in death, much as did Romeo and Juliet.

Also located in Meadows of Dan are farms, craft shops and botanical gardens. Wonder down to Henriedda Crafters to enjoy nostalgic crafts and take a stroll through nature at Dehart Botanical Gardens.

You’ll find wineries nearby in Floyd, Virginia. Give the Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant and Villa Appalaccia Winery a try, which both feature live music and beautiful views.

Amish Country in Indiana

indiana countryside

For a return to simplicity, escape to Amish country in Indiana, where five locations make up the top ten settlements by Amish church districts: Allen County, Daviess County, Adams County, Elkhart and Lagrange Counties. The latter two make up the largest Amish settlement for the state. The settlements have Swiss roots, but there are differences in the communities, as some are more conservative and have various types of carriages due to slightly different practices.

In Elkhart county, visit Nappanee to try the delicious, traditional food at Threshers Dinner, where the threshers would gather every season to separate wheat grain from chaff. Stay at The Inn at Amish Acres, which is central to many of the area’s Amish attractions.

Kayaking and Whale Watching in Washington

You can’t get more picturesque than the small town of Port Townsend, Washington, especially if you physically need to be close to water at all times. At around 10,000 residents, this adorable town has a rich maritime history set on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula. Victorian homes and architecture dot the area, and residents and tourists alike enjoy kayaking and whale watching.

On rainy days, enjoy the rural pastime of antiquing, and listen to musicians play as you taste the wide selection of food: Try the seafood at Doc’s Marina Grill or the breakfast at Hudson Point Cafe.

From the daring cliffs of Lover’s Leap, to the simplicity of Amish Country and whale watching in an adorable marine town, let the countryside take you home in a way you haven’t been in a long time. Winding rural roads soothe the mind, body and soul, while teaching travelers the lessons of endurance, patience and simple joys.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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A Guide To Visiting New York CIty

New York City Travel Guide

New York City is the most popular destination in the world, and for good reason. With first-class entertainment options, world-famous landmarks, buzzing street activity and nightlife, it is an epicenter of culture, diversity and excitement. Your choices are seemingly endless when it comes to hotels, which means deciding which hotel to book can be a challenge, as options range from hostels to ultra-luxurious global chains. IHG® can help you find accommodations that cater to your wants and needs while you explore what makes NYC so unique.

New York City CityscapeImage via Flickr by hijanisch

Things to See

New York City is home to a multitude of world-renowned landmarks, so prioritizing your time during your visit is essential. For the ultimate sightseeing adventure, consider one of the hotels in Manhattan, home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial. Manhattan can easily fill your itinerary with must-dos, and a short boat ride across the harbor takes you to the Statue of Liberty. After a day of sightseeing, a stroll through Central Park is an excellent way to unwind.

Hotels in New York City

New York City hosts almost 55 million visitors each year and offers an incredible array of destinations and attractions to explore. Regardless of when you go, where you stay or what you do, there are plenty of hotels to fit your specific needs, and by booking through IHG, you are assured a great stay while you explore New York.

Where to Stay

When considering hotels in New York City, first choose your ideal borough, since each has its own character, advantages and charms. You may want to be closer to the multicultural cuisine of Queens or the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn. Midtown Manhattan is a prime location for visitors wanting to be within walking distance of Broadway plays or 5th Avenue shops, although they can be expensive. If you want to be in the middle of the action, look for a Times Square hotel location. Luckily, there are many reasonably priced hotels inside and outside of Manhattan, and getting around is easy.

How to Get to New York City

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three key airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which is only 15 miles from Manhattan. Those visiting the city by rail will enjoy the iconic Grand Central Terminal or Pennsylvania Station, the city’s two main railway stations. Travelers with shorter stays may find New York City hotels near major transportation hubs more convenient and more budget-friendly.
The thought of getting around the city can be intimidating for first-time visitors, but traveling throughout the city and its five boroughs is surprisingly easy, thanks to the extensive Metro subway system. Along with its low cost and vast network of routes, the Metro is an efficient way to explore the city. In addition, you can easily hail a cab for a direct route to your destination.

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24 Hours of Food in Orillia, Ontario

We love it when we stumble across a town or city that has an unexpected culinary scene. That’s exactly what happened when we recently visited Orillia, Ontario and found an abundance of incredible food at every turn. Though we could put together an extensive list of restaurants, we’re going to highlight a few restaurants that will get you through a day (or weekend) trip to Orillia and have you licking your chops long after you’ve left!

Breakfast: Shaws Maple Syrup Bush Pancake House

shaws maple syrup bush pancake house

If you’re in Orillia from February to April, you’ll probably not want to miss the chance to try some freshly made maple syrup from Shaws Maple Syrup Bush. Their pancake house is pretty much a perfect breakfast place in Orillia where you’ll find fluffy pancakes, delicious french toast, fresh pork sausages and maple syrup galore! We also tried some of the maple baked beans which we were told was a must – and we agreed!

Lunch: The Grape & Olive

The Grape & Olive Dinner

Though The Grape & Olive is a great restaurant any time of the day, it makes for a great lunch spot if you’re out and about in Orillia. They have a variety of menu options, great service and some dishes that will leave you satisfied and full, ready for whatever the rest of the afternoon holds for you. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there and, as a tip, if you like bread, you may want to ask for an extra order of theirs before you even start!

Dinner: Rustica Pizza & Vino

Rustica Pizza & Vino Dessert

Rustica Pizza & Vino has become one of our favourite restaurants, especially for pizza. The flavour profiles are phenomenal, the wood oven pizza is created to perfection and it has a great atmosphere. We’d pretty much recommend any of the pizzas on their menu and if you can, take a peek at how they make them – the extensive training to master the art and technique of creating such a delicious pizza is visible as they work. What’s great is that the rest of their menu is just as fantastic, whether you are ordering a salad, some arancini or dessert. While the photo above doesn’t show one of their pizzas, it does show their incredible culinary talent with these pieces of fried pizza dough, nutella and strawberries!

All of the above & late night: Casino Rama Resort

St Germain's Casino Rama Meal

Since Casino Rama Resort is an entertainment destination, you’ll find more than just one restaurant here and even if you’re not staying at the resort itself (Casino Rama has some incredible hotel rooms!) you can still stop by for some food at one of their eight dining options.

Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late-night meal, there’s pretty much something for everyone from their steakhouse to their pub. You’ll find a buffet with a huge assortment of food, a Chinese restaurant, a noodle house and more. We always find ourselves trying new dishes whenever we go and we’ve enjoyed every meal, no matter the time of day!

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A Winter Getaway in Orillia

Ontario’s Lake Country is a gorgeous area that, as the name suggests, has stunning landscapes of lakes and rivers and Orillia is one of the city’s in the area that not only has natural beauty but also cultural and historical finds as well. As it’s only a short drive from Toronto, it is an amazing destination to escape to – whether it be for the day, a weekend or even a week. It caters to locals and tourists alike with things to do and see for all four seasons making it a place you can return to again and again. Since Ontario has several months of winter weather, Orillia is a fantastic destination for a winter getaway – so, if you’re looking to head there in the colder months, we’ve put together a list of some of the amazing things you can do and see while there!

Maple Tree Tapping and Pancakes

maple sap samples orillia ontario

There’s really nothing like fresh maple syrup and whether you’re Canadian, or just visiting, you’ll appreciate the connection between maple trees, maple syrup and the country. You’ll definitely gain a larger appreciation while learning more about maple syrup production and luckily, there’s one must-see place in Orillia that will allow you to eat some amazing maple syrup AND learn about the whole process.

Shaws Maple Syrup Bush has been tapping maple trees since 1904 but there’s also so much more to do while there. We walked through the Maple tree bush with 4000 trees and saw the interconnected tubing that brings sap right to the processing area, saw the sap boiling area (there are times to view the boiling process) and, the tastiest part of the day, got a chance to enjoy recently produced maple syrup at their Pancake House! Here’s where you can try some fresh-made pancakes and french toast and several other maple-influenced items like maple baked beans and maple tea. It’s definitely a perfect breakfast in Orillia with a little something more!

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Horseshoe Valley Resort

Cross Country Skiing Horseshoe Valley Resort Orillia

There’s really nothing to do about winter and snow in Canada other than getting out and enjoying it and if that’s what you’re looking to do, Orillia has got you covered! There’s one place in particular that we enjoy because of the sheer number of options for outdoor fun in the winter – Horseshoe Resort. As the two of us are composed of a skier and an non-skier, hitting the snow in anything other than boots can be intimidating for the one half of us that is, shall we say, winter-sport challenged (hint: if you want to know who we’re talking about, take a look at the person on the RIGHT of the photo above…). Horseshoe Resort offered different activities for our comfort levels, amazing instructors and great ways to warm up after!

It was here that we first tried cross country skiing and snowshoeing and had an absolute blast. Downhill skiing is also available and while we were up for giving the slopes a whirl, the temptation of trying some of the other activities won out. Our instructor for cross country skiing was amazing and the trails for it and snowshoeing were a pretty sight with the white snow glistening. We also had the chance to go tubing which was not about skill but instead about pure fun! Warming up for lunch had us enjoying a great meal and heading back outside to sit by an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows.

Since they also have fat biking and snowmobiling, and we didn’t end up downhill skiing, it will definitely be somewhere for us to return to next time we’re in Orillia in the winter!

Explore Art & History

The Orillia Museum of Art & History Orillia

Though it may be considered a small town, Orillia has a cultural scene that shouldn’t be missed. From the Rama First Nations history, art and culture to the town’s own history and art scene, there’s something to be found if you’re looking.

We made a stop in to the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) and found some incredible talent along with some interesting tidbits of local history. OMAH is dedicated to showcasing local history and art as well as the artwork of surrounding areas. They have some incredibly interesting exhibitions that move through and we were fortunate to be able to be there for the 21st annual International Women’s Day exhibition with a theme of ‘renewal’.

History of the area is displayed in various artifacts and in the story of the building itself and these, combined with the stellar art, give a glimpse into the community of Orillia.

Exploring the Orillia Museum of Art & History is just one way to experience the arts and culture scene and a great way to spend some time out of the winter weather outside.

A Getaway at Casino Rama Resort

Casino Rama Resort Orillia, Ontario

Orillia is usually closely linked to Casino Rama Resort and is often what is first thought of by people from outside the area… and with good reason. The sprawling resort is more than just a casino, it’s an entertainment destination with so much more to do than just gaming and has been dubbed ‘The Great Indoors’.

It’s also a fantastic place for a winter getaway in Orillia – the spacious hotel rooms, multiple dining options, theatre that hosts amazing performers and the casino floor itself offer a multitude of activities and make for a perfect place to spend time while in Ontario’s Lake Country whether you plan to combine it with some outdoor fun or just stay inside the resort the entire time!

Imagine a cold winter day while inside the resort, swimming in the saltwater pool and taking some time in the sauna before heading in for a spa treatment. Whether you top that off with a fantastic meal and maybe a show is up to you, but either way, it’s a pretty fantastic plan for a day in the great indoors!

Tour The Phenomenal Culinary Scene

Rustica pizza and vino orillia, ontario

The food scene in Orillia may just blow you away. We know were were absolutely blown away by the meals we enjoyed while there. In truth, you could spend your entire winter getaway in Orillia hopping from restaurant to restaurant enjoying incredible food, but then you’d also be missing out on all the other things to do that we just mentioned!

If you’re already intrigued by the pancake breakfast at Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush, we’ve got a couple more recommendations to make sure your meals are covered while in Orillia – Rustica Pizza & Vino and The Grape & Olive.

Rustica Pizza & Vino not only serves ridiculously good wood oven pizza but also a variety of Italian dishes that are perfectly executed. We started off our meal with some arancini (rice balls) which were scrumptious and followed it up with some pizza – each option as good as the other but all of them out-of-this-world good. Seriously. We are planning to drive to Orillia again soon just to dine at Rustica. Their dessert solidified it for us – we had fried pizza dough with nutella and strawberries and we really don’t have to say much more than that, do we?

We quickly realized that The Grape & Olive would become one of our staple restaurants when visiting Orillia. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious and we had a fantastic dining experience overall. Though we ate off one of their featured menus, we took a look at their regular options and we’ve chosen a few dishes we’ll be ordering the next time – or we may even go as a group and check out the interactive dining that they have available where the chef will prepare your 3-course meal right in front of you!

 

No matter how long you plan to stay in Orillia, there’s no shortage of things to do and planning a winter getaway to the area gives you access to a whole host of activities to help you enjoy the cold weather and snow!

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Exploring Four Corners of Philadelphia

Philadelphia has been called the City of Brotherly Love and The City That Loves You Back, but even though its nicknames may change, the one thing that doesn’t is just how easy it is to fall in love with the city. No matter your interests or reasons for visiting, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re into history, food, sports, or the outdoors. All you have to do is check in to one of the IHG hotels near downtown Philadelphia that provides easy access to the major events and attractions, and you’ll be on your way to exploring an exciting city with many different experiences to offer!

Delve Into Rich History philadelphia city at night

Image via Flickr by cantbecool

In addition to being one of the largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia is also home to some of the nation’s most important history. Considered the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia has an abundance of historical sites that will satisfy any history buff’s needs.

If you’re looking to trace back to the country’s origins, Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, is a great place to start. Within Independence National Historical Park, you’ll also find the Liberty Bell and Franklin Court, which both offer more insight into American history.

Enjoy an Abundance of Pro Sports

Philadelphia is not only saturated in history, but it also has a competitive edge, as professional sports play a huge role throughout the city. When you visit, you’ll find teams playing at state-of-the-art stadiums and games you can attend throughout the year. Whether you like baseball, basketball, football, or hockey, Philadelphia is home to some of the most avid sports fans. Their enthusiasm will make your experience at the games that much more enjoyable.

Grab some tickets to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, or watch the Eagles score touchdowns at Lincoln Financial Field. If you prefer basketball, you’ll be cheering on the 76ers and, of course, the Flyers are the city’s choice for hockey teams.

Experience a Variety of Outdoor Fun

If you prefer to get active yourself, there are tons of outdoor activities to partake in while visiting Philadelphia. Biking, hiking, hot air balloon rides, golf courses, horseback riding, and boating are just some of what the city has to offer if you’re looking for some outdoor fun.

If you want to stay in the city’s core, a walk through John F. Kennedy Plaza, also called Love Park, provides urban views alongside greenery, sculptures, and water features. It’s here that you can watch life in downtown Philadelphia. Head to Peace Valley Park, and you’ll have more solitude and nature as you explore the various trails, enjoy a picnic, or go fishing on Lake Galena.

Explore the Authentic Culinary Scene

No matter how you spend your days exploring Philadelphia, you’ll inevitably find yourself looking for a place to enjoy a meal. Luckily, the city has an incredible culinary scene that caters to any palate or dietary need. Even more exciting are the many must-have dishes that originated in the city.

One of the most recognizable food icons is the Philly cheesesteak. Producing the right combination of roll, ribeye beef, and melted cheese is considered an art in the city.

Though the cheesesteak may be the more well-known sandwich associated with Philadelphia, the hoagie is actually the official sandwich of the city. You won’t want to miss your chance at trying the authentic Philly-style hoagie, complete with deli meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and dressing.

 

Whether you’re spending your time outdoors in the city or indoors watching a pro sports game, indulging in the vast history that surrounds you or dining on exquisite cuisine, Philadelphia is an amazing city to explore. It will leave you wanting to return again and again.

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6 Things To Do At Casino Rama Resort Beyond Gaming!

Though Casino Rama Resort offers an extensive gambling floor with over 2500 slot machines, including some of the latest technology, 100 table games and a room dedicated to poker, there’s a whole lot more to do beyond the casino once you are there. In fact, there’s an entire property offering many things to do whether you’re there for the day, a weekend or longer. “Casino” may be the first word in the name but the “resort” component shouldn’t be overlooked and after staying at Casino Rama Resort on two separate occasions and visiting the property for day trips several additional times, we’ve seen what a fantastic entertainment destination it is for visitors.

What To Do At Casino Rama Resort If You Aren’t Gambling

Please gamble responsibly. If you think you, or someone you know, may need help with a gambling problem, please visit the Responsible Gaming Council Site for more information & to find help if you are in Canada. In the USA? Visit the site for the National Council on Problem Gambling

With a location not far from the Toronto area, it’s definitely a fantastic option for a getaway or day trip, whether you’re headed to the casino area or not. To give you a better idea of all there is to do at Casino Rama off of the gambling floor, we’ve put together 6 things to do there that make it a destination in itself and a resort you’ll be excited to visit!

1. Watch A Show

Casino Rama Stage Entertainment Centre

There’s nothing that showcases Casino Rama Resort as an entertainment destination more than the 5000-seat entertainment centre where world-famous comedians, musicians and performers grace the stage. Whether you’re staying at the resort or just dropping in for a performance, watching a show is a great way to enjoy your time at Rama.

In fact, it’s an experience all on it’s own and we’ve had the chance to see several shows there between the two of us. From comedy acts by Russell Peters and Whoopi Goldberg to concerts by various artists from around the world, we’ve seen some incredible shows on their stage. What is especially great is that no matter where your seats are, you’ll find you have a fantastic view.

It’s definitely one of the parts of the resort that makes it stand out and is a huge draw when visiting the hotel, the casino and the area.

2. Enjoy Delicious Food

St Germain's Casino Rama Meal

With eight dining options, you definitely won’t be going hungry and each restaurant offers a different atmosphere and fare. It’s here that you can explore the culinary side of the resort and enjoy some truly great cuisine.

There’s St. Germain’s a steakhouse with absolutely phenomenal service and delicious, beautifully plated meal. They have superb cuts of meat, a variety of seafood and a dessert menu by an award winning pastry chef. It’s one of our favourites and we know we will always find a dining experience to remember.

There are also a variety of options for more casual dining like Simcoe Yard House, a sports bar and restaurant where we love to eat whenever we’re at Casino Rama. Their Ultimate Hot Dog – a half yard in size – is a fun and tasty meal to try. The Weir’s restaurant and Cedar are alternately open and also offer casual dining and a many menu options. For us, we tend to head to The Weir’s for breakfast and Cedar for a late night snack.

From the Noodle Bar to The Willow, serving Chinese cuisine, the Firestarter Lounge by the lobby to the Couchiching Court buffet, you’ll definitely not go hungry nor will you run out of options or variety.

The best part of it all? The food is exceptional at all of the restaurants so you really can’t go wrong with your choices!

3. Have A Spa Day

Casino Rama Spa

Casino Rama Resort has an entire oasis for anyone looking to get away and get pampered for a day… or longer! Their Balance in Life Spa offers massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and other treatments and it’s a great place for a little relaxation.

We both recently enjoyed a massage and can honestly say it was one of the best we’ve had. Though we went individually, there are packages for couples as well and we may just be looking into those the next time we go!

The other great thing is that even if you aren’t a hotel guest, spa guests have access to the pool and amenities and as you’ll see below, they’re pretty fantastic on their own!

4. Enjoy The Pool & Amenities

Casino Rama Pool

For guests of the hotel, there are additional amenities that are available. The pool area has long been a highlight for those we’ve talked to who have stayed at Casino Rama Resort. Their indoor salt water pool and hot tub are a draw for those looking to unwind during the day or get a few gentle laps in while feeling the incredible effects of the salt water on their skin. We especially love the patio connecting the pool to the outdoors. When the weather is nice, it’s a great place to go to dry off and enjoy some sun.

The eucalyptus steam room is also an amazing amenity and a great place to start before a spa session or after a workout in their adult-only fitness room.

It’s really a great space to spend some time while at the resort and a definite attraction for those who want to book a room and stay at the hotel.

5. Relax In Your Spacious Room

Casino Rama Hotel Room

The rooms at Casino Rama Resort are a destination on their own. They offer an inviting and spacious sanctuary with comfortable beds and a great sitting area with a large screen TV. It really is a fantastic place to relax and unwind, get cozy and spend some time.

The gas fireplace is a great touch in the cooler months and can add to the romance of the room if you’re there with a special someone.

No matter what you’re at Casino Rama for, you’ll want to spend some time in the room – ordering in room service, enjoying a bath in the Jacuzzi tub, watching some TV in the living space, and you may not want to leave at all!

6. Explore Rama First Nation Culture

Rama First Nations Casino Rama

Throughout the resort, you’ll notice architectural and artistic designs that illustrate Rama First Nation culture and history. There’s a lot to see and we’ve learned a lot by delving deeper into what the art and symbols mean and represent. Even the names of some of the resort’s features – like St. Germain’s – hold significance to the Rama First Nation peoples.

You can also stop into one of the shops and browse arts and crafts, gifts and clothing linked to Rama First Nation and beyond.

 

Casino Rama Resort really is an entertainment destination on its own and it only takes a short time there to realize there’s a whole lot to do and that there’s a reason why it’s called “The Great Indoors” – while they have a state-of-the-art casino floor that’s sure to impress, there’s a whole resort to explore and enjoy!

 

A huge thanks to SJ Consulting for the invitation & to Casino Rama Resort for hosting us. As always, all opinions are, and always will be, our own!