Travel stories, tips and suggestions from the United States of America

exploring outside disney and discovering orlando

Explore Outside Disney and Discover Orlando

Most people who visit Orlando make a beeline for Walt Disney World. While it’s a great place to spend a vacation, it won’t give you much insight into the city of Orlando itself. You’ll find that spending some time outside the kingdom of Mickey ears and beloved cartoon characters can be just as magical. It may even offer you exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation.

Since there are lots of choices for great IHG hotels near downtown Orlando, finding accommodations throughout the city won’t be a hard task. What will be difficult is narrowing down exactly what to do in a city filled with sights, sounds, food, and excitement. Here are some suggestions to help you see the real Orlando outside of Disney World.

Experience the City

orlando florida parkImage via Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik

There is so much to do in Orlando with something for almost anyone. A ride on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye will give you incredible views of the city with a bird’s-eye view of beautiful landscapes and landmarks.

Since any visit to Florida introduces thoughts of alligators, it would only make sense to check out Gatorland. Not only will you get to see the creatures up close, but you can also ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line over the marshes and habitats where they live!

You may not head to the Magic Kingdom, but you can cap off your trip with the Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour. Here, you can surround yourself with sweet goodness as you learn about the process of making chocolate.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Orlando is home to many natural landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities. Even in the heart of the city, you’ll find beautiful sights like Lake Eola Park. It’s a beautiful place to take a walk, watch swans swim by, or jump on a paddleboat and have some fun. You may want to try to get there on a Sunday, when the Orlando Farmers Market sells local produce, baked goods, and artwork.

If you’re looking for something more private, you can head to Harry P. Leu Gardens. Here, you can spend time walking along the winding paths of the 50 acres of gardens surrounded by flowers and plants from around the world.

A trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without exploring the outdoors. If you want to get a good look at all the natural beauty of the area, a hot air balloon ride would definitely give you a unique outdoor experience.

Embrace the Food Culture

Orlando has been building its reputation as a culinary destination. With so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s easy to see why. One of the more memorable restaurants is the Red Mug Diner. Great for any meal and open 24 hours a day, this spot offers some tasty classic Southern comfort foods, like fried chicken and waffles, along with regular diner fare.

Food and art often have blurred lines, and dining at Café Tu Tu Tango offers the experience of both. You’ll find some delicious small plates to share as local artists paint and display their works while you dine.

Another restaurant that’s worth fitting into your schedule is Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. The Florida location is great for a late-night meal before you lose yourself in Orlando nightlife.

 

Planning a trip to Orlando allows you to explore a city full of wonderful attractions, natural beauty, and incredible food. You don’t need to venture to Walt Disney World to capture excitement and adventure, but you’ll probably want to book another trip to the city since you’ll find that one trip to Orlando only scratches the surface.

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arlington adventure

Finding Adventure While Exploring Arlington, Texas

Arlington might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of visiting Texas, but with its growing popularity, it’s a city that you should know. However long of a visit you’re planning, there are fantastic IHG hotels near Six Flags Over Texas and other Arlington attractions, along with plenty to see and do.

You can explore Arlington through a large variety of experiences, but one of the most exciting ways to get to know the city is through a bit of adventure. If you’re looking for some fun in Arlington, Texas, here are some of the city’s most adventurous attractions.

Adrenaline Rush At Six Flags

six flags over texasImage via Flickr by Clintus McGintus

Arlington is home to both Six Flags Over Texas, the first of the Six Flags theme parks, and Six Flags Hurricane Park, one of a group of water parks. The rides and slides offer adrenaline and exhilaration, while the shows and restaurants boast plenty of entertainment. Combined, the parks have everything you’ll need for a thrilling time and some fun in the city.

Leisurely Day at River Legacy Park

When you visit River Legacy Park, you’ll find a quieter sort of adventure. Here, 1,300 acres of nature offer hiking and biking trails as well as green space for outdoor activities and picnics. It’s a favorite place for locals to enjoy the day, and it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area, whether you want to take it slow or increase your pace.

Urban Adventure With Segway Tours

When you visit Arlington, you’ll notice that it’s a rather large city with its fair share of natural landscapes and green space. One of the best ways to explore it is by signing up for some urban adventure like a Segway tour. You’ll find yourself gliding around to various attractions, seeing the city in a completely new way and at a faster pace.

Sports and Nature on Golf Courses

If there’s one thing that Arlington isn’t lacking, it’s golf courses. You’ll find gorgeous greens across Arlington, and these offer ample space for sports and leisure. With award-winning courses that combine the stunning nature with varying levels of golfing difficulty, you’re sure to find some adventure while you swing away.

Indoor Excitement With Ice Skating

When you visit the Parks Mall at Arlington you’ll find some fun waiting for you right inside. Ice at the Parks is an indoor ice skating rink and just one of the city’s great attractions. You can head over and have some fun before or after you shop or even join in on one of the many year-round events.

Whether you choose adrenaline-pumping excitement on a rollercoaster or some leisure time outdoors at River Legacy Park, Arlington has something for all adventure lovers. From indoors to outdoors, and from city streets to natural landscapes, there are tons of attractions to choose from in the city. All it takes is a bit of an adventurous spirit, and you’ll be sure to have some fun!

unique things to do in honolulu

Unique Things to Do in Honolulu You Won’t Want to Miss!

The capital of Hawaii is a mecca for tourists looking to enjoy sun, sand, and outdoor activities. Known for its famous coastal neighbourhood of Waikiki, Honolulu is a popular city on the island of Oahu, with a sprawling cityscape, great food, and stunning beaches. One key to enjoying the perfect blend of attractions and activities in Honolulu is finding the right accommodations. With so many hotels in Honolulu, you’ll want to pick one that gives you great access to the city but also allows opportunities to venture outside of the city.

After you’ve picked where to stay, it’s simply a matter of getting out and exploring. You may think you’re destined to visit Honolulu’s amazing attractions like Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, and Manoa Falls with hordes of other people, but a trip to the city gives you the chance to see and do so much. Here’s a list of five unique things to do in Honolulu if you truly want to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds.

Kukaoo Heiau Ruins: Exploring Ancient History

With its incredibly rich history, Hawaii is no stranger to ruins or artifacts. What makes the relatively unvisited Kukaoo (Kukui) Heiau ruins so unique is that they’re in the middle of an urban area and on the same property the historic Charles Montague Cooke Jr. House. You won’t find the ruins to be large or expansive, but they highlight the historical importance of Manoa Valley and the local people. The Manoa Heritage Center and the Kukaoo Heiau ruins make for a great stop to learn more about ancient life in Honolulu and see some pretty great views.

Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site: More Than Just Surfing

honolulu hawaiiImage via Flickr by katsuhiro7110

Though Hawaii is synonymous with surfing, you can also see a lot below the surface of the water that surrounds the islands. At the Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site, you’ll find a Vought F4 aircraft that sank after it experienced engine failure in 1948. The wreck itself is in perfect dive condition, due to the abundance of eel, octopus and puffer fish. Though the area around the wreckage is fairly flat and unencumbered, the site is for more advanced divers who can manage the currents. You’ll probably want to take some time practicing at other dive sites around the island first.

Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market: A Taste of the Island

Restaurants are always a gateway into local cuisine and culture, but you’ll miss a whole culinary world if you stick to the popular places to eat. The Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmers Market in Honolulu is a unique foodie destination with locally grown produce and flowers, along with meats and baked goods. It offers a taste of local life in Honolulu and a glimpse of the island’s cuisine.

San Souci Beach: Relaxation Away From the Crowds

Waikiki Beach is one of Honolulu’s most famous beaches, but it’s actually comprised of several sections that together create a long stretch of sand. You’re bound to find crowds in the more popular sections, but when you head to the eastern end, you’ll find a much quieter area. San Souci Beach is relatively peaceful and a good distance away from the tourist activity. The relatively calm waters allow for a variety of water sports and activities and make this the perfect spot to enjoy a unique beach experience in Honolulu.

Makiki Valley Loop Trail: Hiking With Scenic Views

There are many hiking trails around the city, but the Makiki Valley Loop Trail promises a unique experience, as it’s more popular among locals than it is with tourists. The loop itself is made up of three trails with varying levels of difficulty. The surrounding nature and views along the way will more than make up for the more tricky parts, though you’ll need solid hiking shoes, as the area is known to be wet more often than not.

 

Visiting Honolulu doesn’t have to mean that you’ll be stuck in the crowds. Whether your focus is on food, culture, nature, history, or a little of everything, you’ll find many things to do away from the top attractions and throngs of tourists. On land or in water, above or below the surface, all you need to find a different experience in Honolulu is to step outside your hotel room and have a sense of adventure!

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Beautiful Coastal Towns in Maine

7 of the Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Maine

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective
It’s easy to see that Maine has an incredibly beautiful coastline. It’s not as easy to decide which city along that coastline to visit. That’s because there are so many viable options where you’ll find great food, cozy inns and unforgettable scenery. It makes it difficult to choose just one of the beautiful towns in Maine.

Beautiful Towns in Maine To Visit

The following are just seven of the candidates to put on your short list before you decide where to take your next vacation.

Bar Harbor

bar harbor maine

Bar Harbor has more than just a beach. It sits at the base of Acadia National Park, which woos hikers with its granite peaks and bikers who want to ride down the old carriage roads.

The area trails can also take you to coastal overlooks, although you might want to hit up the sandy beaches, too.

Camden

Welcome to your next vacation spot, sailors. Camden, Maine, sits on Penobscot Bay, from which you and your sailing crew can take off and into the picturesque waters. It really is beautiful here: the locals even call it the “Jewel of the Coast.”

Speaking of locals, less than 5,000 people call Camden home. Clearly, that means you can expect a homey, cozy experience on your trip.

Kennebunkport

beautiful coastal towns in maine

Any presidential history buff will know that the Bush family has made Kennebunkport their go-to vacation spot: they have their very own holiday compound, which tourists sometimes go to see on their trips to the area.

Of course, a former President has to have good taste in locations for his vacations — who needs relaxation more than a former commander-in-chief? The slow-paced town will definitely ease you into a similar state of serenity, as will the quirky shops, museums and clams. If you need a bit more excitement, hop onto a lobster-trapping or dolphin-watching tour.

Cutler

Bird watching will get a whole lot cuter if you choose to book your trip to Cutler. That’s because the area is home to an adorable puffin community that takes to the water and perches on the coastline’s grey rocks. All members of your family will be charmed by the little guys, we promise.

Of course, there’s more to a holiday than just a bird-watching expedition. Cutler has its beautiful coastline and quaint lighthouse, of course, but it also comes with a promise of tourist trap-free shopping and dining. Really, there aren’t any souvenir shops in this tiny town.

Portland

portland maine beautiful towns in maine

Most coastal towns appeal to tourists in the summer, but not Portland: most locals will tell you that the best time to visit is fall, when the changing leaves paint the seaside in burnt oranges, fiery reds and golden yellows.

Of course, any season will show you the warm hospitality for which Portland is famous. The locals strive to be as friendly and welcoming to tourists as they are to each other, a vibe you won’t soon forget after you head home from your holiday.

Rockport

Here’s another of Maine’s coastal cities that’s rumored to be the most beautiful — even though it’s clearly impossible to decide. And, like many others on this list, it offers surf and turf, at least as far as activities go.

You can traipse through the Rockport Marine Park — or lie on the sandy beach there, of course. The Beech Hill Reserve offers stunning views, too. And then, there’s the bay, which is ripe for kayaking trips, which local tour companies lead.

Castine 

lighthouse in coastal maine

Castine is so beautiful that it’s been a destination for artists for decades. They come to paint a piece of that classic New England scenery — exactly what you seek on your trip, too. Along with like-a-painting views, you’ll find a bit of history at the Fort George and Fort Madison State Parks.

You can also check out a sandy-hued lighthouse, a local art gallery and, of course, an incredibly quaint Main Street.

 

You won’t find any hustle-and-bustle along the coast of Maine. You won’t find clubs or fancy restaurants or beach cabanas where you’re served fancy cocktails.

What you will find, no matter where you go, is a wealth of natural beauty. The beaches, parks, mountains and wildlife will be just as striking. And, with your loved ones along for the trip, you’ll realize you don’t need more than what’s right in front of you in any one of these seven towns.  


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 and 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 and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can follow her on Twitter and Pinterest!


 

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loneliest road in america guide to highway 50 in nevada

A Guide To Highway 50 in Nevada: The Loneliest Road in America

The barren desert. Sand, rock and cacti. Mountains of dirt and sand protruding along the horizon. An unending winding road into the distance.

We left the chaos and bright lights of Las Vegas behind and headed off into the Nevada desert. With clear blue skies and the sun streaming down, we wove our way along Nevada’s Highways.

Though arid scenery first greeted us, we soon found ourselves passing a small lake, at first completely out of place in this dry and barren landscape, the greenery of the vegetation surrounding it a stark contrast and a welcome visual beyond the reds and browns around us.

We’d soon realize that various colour, even green, isn’t as unusual of a sight in Nevada as we had initially thought. In fact, when we finally made our way up to Highway 50 and started our journey across the state, we discovered that the terrain of Nevada is quite varied, quite colourful and altogether breathtaking. We also learned throughout our travels, that there are many reasons you should travel Nevada, outside of just Las Vegas!

Stops To Make On Highway 50 in Nevada

Highway 50 Nevada sign

Highway 50 is part of US Route 50 and the section that is in Nevada is coined “The Loneliest Road in America”. It is a stretch of road between the eastern and western borders of the state and is definitely not the most common road taken for traversing Nevada or getting from any of the major cities in the United States to any of the larger cities in the state. But while it’s not the preferred route for getting places quickly, like the Interstate 80 would be, it is definitely one of the best options for a road trip in Nevada and for exploring the out-of-this-world sights to be seen throughout. If you’re looking to take a road trip in Nevada, Highway 50 is definitely one of the best routes to include – whether you travel it from start to finish, or find your way somewhere along it during your journey.

To get you planning, here is the route we recently took and some of the great stops along Nevada Route 50 that you should consider to help make The Loneliest Road in America just a little less… lonely! Though there’s a lot more to this stretch than what we saw, this itinerary makes for a great road trip or romantic getaway in Nevada.

To find accommodation options along the route or if you need more information on things to do along Highway 50 (as well as what there is to do and see while you are visiting Nevada) check out the Travel Nevada site!

Ely

Northern Nevada Railway Ely Steam Engine Train

Depending on which direction you are heading, Ely may be the first or last of the cities in Nevada off of Highway 50.  One of the larger cities you’ll stop at on this route, Ely is like many in the area – an old mining town – saturated in history and charm. It is also where you’ll find your way onto the old Nevada Northern Railway with a steam engine ride along the tracks that are over a century old and were an essential part of the early mining settlements to this area.

We had such a great time on this 90 minute ride that took us past old mining areas and more isolated landscape but what really captivated us and captured our imagination was the dialogue explaining what once was. We learned about the importance of this route in the past and the amount of history accumulated in a short distance. Bringing that history into the present as we rode on the train was one railway crossing in particular, where a man named Dale comes to stand and wave as each of the trains pass . In fact, he is so reliable and dedicated to being at that crossing that it is named after him – Dale’s crossing. The significance of this passageway exists even now.

If you’ve got some time to spend in the area or are looking for a quick detour, you’ll find an interesting museum just North of Ely. Taking Highway 93 off of Route 50, sits the small town of McGill and as you drive the streets, you will most likely pass a Rexall drugstore. Be warned though, if you jump out and head on in, you won’t be finding any first aid items or pain relievers here. Well, at least none that aren’t well passed their expiry date! The McGill Drugstore Museum will transport you back in time as you step through the doors and observe a store that has been left virtually untouched from the day it closed its doors in 1979. You’ll want to contact them first to schedule an appointment to ensure it is open and to get the full story behind Ely and this time capsule that has been left there.

Ely is also the closest accessible city on Highway 50 to the Great Basin National Park, a popular destination for nature and astronomy lovers. Due to the great air quality in the park – some of the best in the USA – night brings dark, clear skies that are perfect for stargazing. In fact, there is even an annual astronomy festival that offers 3 days and nights of guided instruction and telescope viewing.

In Ely, you’ll find historic hotels and museums and many natural attractions nearby in addition to the events and activities in the city. You’ll find things like county fairs, bathtub races, and farmer’s markets as well and experience a place that straddles the city life of the present with the small-town vibes of the past.

Eureka

Eureka Courtroom Judges chair

Calling itself “The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road in America, you’ll find that it’s a pretty accurate description. As of the last census, there were under 1000 people in Eureka and when you walk through the “downtown” or main area of the town, you definitely feel it – it is quiet, it is peaceful and it is most definitely friendly.

The pride the town takes in their past is obvious as we visited several old buildings that have been beautifully preserved and restored. It’s definitely worth it to take a tour of the opera house, old courthouse and the old Eureka Sentinel Building. The opera house, still in use today for community events and shows, has a remarkable history that can be seen from the 1924 stage curtain that replaced the original from 1880 which burned down. The ads on the backdrop still remain, the funds from which paid for the new curtain itself. Signatures of performers that have graced the stage are scrawled backstage along the walls and staircase. These tell their own story as dates from the early 1900s can be seen alongside more recent ones, a blend of new and old.

The courthouse is fascinating as well. Heading up the original wood staircases, we reached the courtroom, kept in pristine condition and making us feel like we’d stepped on set to some crime drama – huge velvet curtains draped on either side of the judge’s bench, the flag hanging prominently beside it, one could almost imagine the witness box filled, the judge’s gavel banging, the jury sitting to the side, attentive to the courtroom antics.

Another interesting stop in Eureka is the Old Sentinel Museum where you’ll find all manner of historical items and artefacts in what was the Sentinel Newspaper Building from 1879 to 1960. From the original printing presses and newspaper equipment on the main floor to the varied exhibits of life in Eureka when the town was just beginning.

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

View from Hickison Petroglyph Recreation area Nevada

Nevada is no stranger to petroglyphs as the state has not only numerous amounts of them, but also the oldest known finds in North America. Though Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area near Austin may not be the most extensive of sites for seeing petroglyphs, it is a great example of prehistoric rock art and is a site that allows a self-guided tour and some fantastic views.

We took our time along the trail, looking at the rocks with petroglyphs, working our way to great lookouts with views of mountains and more desert landscape and enjoyed the beauty of the area and the incredible history that was left, carved in stone, by those who once lived in the area.

If you do stop here, be sure to take a look for brochures at the information display at the entrance to the recreation area. These will help explain what you see as you walk along the trails.

Austin

Gourmet French Toast at Union Street Lodging Austin Nevada Breakfast

Though we’d be hard pressed to choose a favourite out of the stops we made along Highway 50, Austin would definitely be a serious contender.

With some of the best backyard views, Austin boasts mountain ranges, hot springs, historic sites and tons of small town charm. Here you’ll find bike trails and camping grounds, nearby caves and petroglyphs and even a castle, though uninhabited, that stands as an iconic image as you pass through the town.

We were there just one night in Austin and have already marked, underlined and highlighted it as a place we need to return to soon. The Union Street Lodging was the B&B we stayed at and, from the moment we arrived, it felt like a haven of relaxation and serenity. Learning about Austin and its history from the owners of the B&B and just enjoying the peaceful nature of the area, we settled in. That evening we enjoyed sitting outside and listening to the night sounds, void of the city noises to which we have become so accustomed. The following morning we woke up for breakfast and were served the most gourmet french toast breakfast we’ve ever seen – a double layer of french toast with cream cheese and strawberries in between, covered in more strawberries – it was delicious and a great way to start the day.

There’s definitely so much more to do in Austin than we had the chance to experience and we’d definitely recommend spending a few nights there while travelling the Loneliest Road in America. Hot springs are always a wonderful treat no matter where you are and with so much wildlife and natural beauty to see as you drive, you’d be able to make a whole day of it just exploring the scenery the area has to offer. Of course, there are also biking and hiking trails if you’re looking to get out of the car and stretch your legs a bit.

Strolling through the town, meeting people and learning about the history of Austin is also a great way to spend some time while there and for us, we’d love to head back and visit Stokes Castle – especially at sunset!

Sand Mountain

Sand Mountain in Nevada Hwy 50

What began as an exciting view – a sand dune in the distance, growing in size as we approached – turned into a truly moving and unexpected experience. Sand Mountain is one of the spectacular views off Highway 50 in Nevada and it only gets more impressive as you get closer to it.  Signs describe the area, the sand dune itself and the fact that it is a singing sand dune – the singing being the noises made as the sand shifts and slides – something that is unique and not found with every sand dune.

The area is obviously one of recreation – considered a popular off-roading site – we saw many OHV (off-highway vehicles) making their way around and up the dune. Though this seems to be the primary use of Sand Mountain, we encourage you to take the time to contact the local native community to learn some deeper history and meaning behind Sand Mountain.

For our visit, we spoke with Donna and Melissa from the local community (as well as the Great Basin Tour Company) who were able to provide some deep insight and some moving stories behind the significance of Sand Mountain to the native peoples of the area. With the loud engines of the OHVs roaring around us, interrupting our conversation at regular intervals, we learned that Sand Mountain no longer sings… it’s sand compressed by the weight of the tires and vehicles we were watching go by at that very moment.

Though you may not hear the mountain sing you’ll definitely feel it, especially if you get the chance to speak to those to whom the sand dune means the most. It’s by far a surprising and wonderful stop along the Loneliest Road in America.

Fallon

Frey Ranch Fallon Nevada mini wine barrel

If Ely feels big compared to the rest of the towns along Highway 50 in Nevada, than Fallon is enormous! With double the population, Fallon is a bustling town with a growing arts and culture, culinary and tourism scene. A stop here means you’ll have the option of immersing yourself in much of the elements of Nevada you’ve already seen along the way – nature and history – as well as art galleries and antique shops, theatres and recreational activities (like golf, roller skating and swimming) and some pretty phenomenal dining options with a couple farmer’s markets thrown in for good measure.

We ate lunch in Fallon at The Slanted Porch and were incredibly impressed by our meal. Farm-to-table ingredients meant everything used was fresh and the care and talent put into the dishes themselves was obvious. Buying local and creating inspired menu items based on the seasonal produce available helped make the culinary journey through the dishes that much more special. We ordered a slanted porch burger (because the way they treat and use their meat is spectacular) and a lamb, meatball sandwich (a special of the day) and were left wishing we were there longer to try more of the menu

You may be surprised, as we were, to find out that Fallon, Nevada is home to a successful vineyard and distillery, Frey Ranch, a family owned operation producing some great wines, gin, vodka and whiskey. It’s an interesting place to stop and tour, check out the tasting room and grab a bottle, or more, of your favourite spirit or wine!

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Cruise

If you’re driving along Highway 50 in Nevada, and have a chance to make your way as far west as Lake Tahoe, we highly recommend you take the time to stop and visit. Though there are lots of things to do, both in the summer and winter seasons, a boat cruise across the lake is a wonderful way to take in the scenery. We climbed aboard the MS Dixie II, part of Zephyr Cove Resort‘s fleet, and took a 90 minute cruise across the lake (to the California side and Emerald Bay). We enjoyed listening to the information provided, grabbing a meal on board as we went, and soaking up the beauty around us.

With cruises, beach activities and water equipment rentals, snowmobile rentals and skiing in the winter and other activities, like horseback riding, there’s lots to do in the area if you want to stay at an accommodation by the lake or drive yourself into the area.

A Little Extra Addition To Start, Or End, With!

Depending on where you’re coming from, making Reno or Las Vegas the start and end points of your trip is a great way to really see the diversity of the state – from big cities to small towns – and makes sense as either city are close enough to Highway 50 to make them accessible gateways.

Whether or not you add Las Vegas to your itinerary, you may want to consider tagging on a visit to Great Basin National Park. We had mentioned that it is close to Ely and while not on Highway 50, it is a great place to stop before starting out on The Loneliest Highway OR a great place to end after you’ve seen Ely and have finished your drive along the stretch of Highway 50.

If Vegas is on your itinerary, you can also make Great Basin National Park a stop on your way to, or from, Ely. We stopped there and took a tour through Lehman caves – a fascinating underground world of caves and cave systems we’d not yet explored. It is well worth it to visit, take a tour of the caves and explore the beautiful scenery of the National Park.

Become A Highway 50 Survivor!

In 1986, Highway 50 in Nevada was described as a stretch of road with nothing to see or do. Life Magazine suggested survival skills were needed in order to take on The Loneliest Road in America. Well, we don’t know what it was like 30 years ago, but our time on the road was filled with things to do and places to see – though it can be a pretty quiet and, yes, lonely route. With this decades-old reputation in mind, a ‘survival guide’ was created for travellers looking to take on Highway 50…

No matter where you start or finish along The Loneliest Road in America, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a Highway 50 Survival Guide and get the passport that’s inside stamped as you stop along the route! You can find more information from the Pony Express Territory website like what the Survival Guide entails and where you can go in each town to get your guide stamped!

Once you’ve collected stamps from 5 of the 8 locations, you can mail in the passport page and you’ll get an “I Survived” certificate!

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best burger joints in Las Vegas Pin

Where To Find The Best Burgers in Las Vegas

Naturally our quest for the best burgers continues in every destination we reach and Vegas, Nevada, home to a whole slew of restaurants, including burger joints, was no exception. With its vast array of celebrity chefs opening house along the strip and an ever-increasing focus on providing incredible culinary experiences, you’re bound to find a good burger around every corner. That makes the challenge even harder.

Best Burger Joints in Las Vegas

Where then do you go in Las Vegas to find that memorable burger? That sensational patty and bun experience that transcends the rest?

We’ve narrowed down the choices to three spectacular options both on and off the strip. Each offers a different style of burger and dining experience but each one will have you walking away thinking “wow”!

Hexx Kitchen + Bar

Burger at Hexx Kitchen + Bar Nevada

Located right on the strip at Paris Hotel, Hexx Kitchen + Bar is an adventure for the taste buds and though they have an entire menu of incredibly composed dishes, their Hexx Burger stands out not only for execution but also for their unique approach to the flavour profile of the burger itself.

As Hexx is also home to Hexx Chocolate + Confexxions, a chocolate factory and shop that produces some of the tastiest chocolates we’ve ever had (and their dark chocolate is a healthy option for chocolate lovers too!), it only makes sense that they extend that chocolate goodness over to their restaurant and they do this brilliantly with their Hexx Burger.

Though you’ll find some expected condiments on the beef patty – cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato – Hexx also adds fried onions and their own thousand island dressing and though the combination of these flavours and the perfect ratio of burger to bun and condiments makes it one tasty meal, what enhances this burger to extreme levels is the incorporation of white chocolate in the bun. The sweeter taste of the bun combined with the savoury of the rest of it creates a contrast to remember. Sweet and savoury, soft and crunchy, altogether delicious, the Hexx Burger is one of our favourite burgers and a must try if you’re on the strip in Vegas – especially as the restaurant is open 24 hours!

Bachi Burger

Shogun Burger at Bachi Burger Las Vegas

Though the current Bachi Burger locations are neither on the strip nor in downtown Las Vegas, the effort to get there from wherever you are is worth it… several times over. If Hexx is an adventure for the taste buds, Bachi Burger takes your taste buds on a fast ride through Asian flavours and sets you down gently in traditional American cuisine. The ultimate in culinary fusion, they’ve managed to create a whole list of burgers that are elevated from the classic to the brilliant with their combinations of toppings and ingredients.

Take their Shogun burger as an example. A thick Wagyu beef patty starts the collection of Japanese flavours and Asian ingredients as it is topped with grilled unagi, pan seared foie gras and miso butter. A beautifully poached Asian pear is also included which adds a layer of sweetness. The combination of it all, served between a thick and fresh bun will leave you savouring each vibrant bite.

Then there is their Bahn-Mi Burger. This time its a combination of angus beef, pork and shrimp formed into a patty that hosts a handful of Vietnamese-inspired toppings like pork pate, fresh herbs, and curry aioli with a side of pickled vegetables and nuoc mam sauce.

Though your mouth is probably watering just from the descriptions, nothing can quite do it justice until you experience the real thing and with several locations to choose from, there really is no excuse not to!

I Love Burgers

I Love Burgers The Patriot Burger Las Vegas

Sometimes classic is best and I Love Burgers is a prime example of taking a great thing and keeping it great. With two locations on either end of the strip, you’ll have the option of either one depending where you are when that burger craving hits!

Though they do have a variety of themed burgers and condiment combinations, what showcases their true talent for burger creation is their ability to make a good ol’ classic burger! The Patriot, advertised as the “All-American Burger”, is what you want to have at any BBQ or burger joint. Take that fresh bun and fill it with certified Angus beef then top that bad boy with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, cheese, ketchup, and mustard and you got what every burger restaurant should be able to create.

Of course, they make some delicious alternatives to the standard if you’re looking to be a bit more daring. Something like their Steak Burger is bound to satisfy both a burger craving as well as any steak dinner urges you may be having with their certified Angus beef patty covered in caramelized onions, bacon, white cheddar cheese and Worcester aioli. It’s a steak dinner on a bun and it’s pretty darn good!

You Probably Won’t Want To Stop At One!

With these three options, you really will have all your burger cravings satisfied while in Las Vegas. Not only that, you’ll experience some of the best dining the city has to offer while tasting a range of culinary styles. From gourmet to fusion to “all-American”, a burger can be made a variety of ways with a selection of different toppings but there’s one thing that must ring true no matter what that patty-condiment combination is comprised of – it must have you thinking about it well after you’ve left the restaurant! Try one, or all three, of these restaurants and you definitely won’t be forgetting the burger experience any time soon!

 

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bike trails in scottsdale arizona

Bike Trails That Will Leave You Speechless In Scottsdale, Arizona

By Denise Nelson

Just recently I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do, enjoy and see, so of course I had to see the landscapes and what the city had to offer a cyclist like myself. I took to the roads early in the morning to ride through the old-town Scottsdale, looking at the architecture of the buildings and the unique feeling this side of town could offer. It’s not only what the city has to offer in views but also the benefits of cycling that are always a good reason to get out and on that bike!

>Scottsdale has been recognized for its biker friendliness and recognized by the League of American Bicyclists at the gold level. It’s a clean way to get around and, in a bicycle-safe community, it provides safe transportation and accommodation to bikers. If you like to cycle with a canine, Scottsdale is the place to do it. They allow pets to come along on your travels… just as long as you pick up after them!

There are many options to choose from between paved or unpaved trails and even mountain trails. They range in distance, but they also offer a variety of views as you travel through different parts of Scottsdale and experience something new.

 The Stunning Views On Scottsdale’s Bike Trails

Echo Canyon Trail head at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona




As the sun rose higher in the sky, the weather was warming up and I decided to ride down the Scottsdale Greenbelt, which takes you down through Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake. In total, this trip is 14.5 miles (23 km) and worth it for every bit of scenery you see along the way (especially if you stop for a small detour to see Marguerite Lake.).

There are also two paved bike trail sets to choose from, or do both: the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails and the DC Ranch Paved Trails. I chose to do the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails since there were more of them and offered more visual stimulation.

McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails

There are many options for mountain bikers as well. We took to Tom’s Thumb, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and allows for beautiful mountain rock formations, desert landscape, plenty of desert wildlife on the trail and the vast blue sky above you.

On the mountain trail through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you can see a variety of mountains, hills, rocks, cacti, desert plants, desert landscape, wildlife and hikers. This trail is beautiful and leaves a lasting impression on you, especially when seen at sunset. The sunset in Scottsdale is this beautiful purple-red-orange scene that paints the desert beautiful colors. The picture you see while riding your bike through this desert at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other Bike Trails in Scottsdale, Arizona to Cycle

Arizona desert landscape, Phoenix,Scottsdale area.

Another trail to ride on would be the Indian Bend Wash Path. It is a beautiful, lush and green 22 mile (35.5 km) expanse with parks, waterways and greenery. What is great about this trail is the fact that there are tunnels and bridges that go over and under the roadways so you don’t have to take a break from the beautiful view while you ride.

I also recommend the South Mountain Trail. It’s a 16,000-acre park and offers tough, but interesting trails for multiple levels of bikers. I went on the Desert Classic trail, which is 9 miles (14.5km) with a beautiful view of the rich greenery and mountainous landscape offered only by the desert. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind views of the rock formations and steep cliffs.

Following South Mountain, I would also recommend the Browns Ranch Trails. It’s roughly 13 miles (21km) long. The wildlife you’ll see range from rabbits and squirrels to desert tortoises and snakes. Rock formations, natural landscaping and relaxed trails provide for an easy ride to enjoy a desert scene with a gorgeous view.

If you are more advanced in your riding you’ll want to check out Sunrise Trail. It’s a fairly new trail that is 10 miles (16km) long and very rugged and steep. The trail is very narrow so you need to watch for hikers and for your own safety as cacti grow close to the trails. It is also a single-track and has a steep elevation of 1,700 ft (518m).

Lastly for mountain biking, I would say to finish with the Whiskey Bottle Trail. It’s a short 3 mile (5km) trail that is for intermediate-advanced bike riders. The trail starts off easy but you gain a steep increase of 800 ft (244m) into a more rocky trail. There are tight curves and dangerous turns and terrain. Overall, this trail is a short, but rewarding, trail to bike on as it provides a beautiful view at the end, overlooking the vast desert with it’s beautiful rocks, scenery, and animals.

The Many Colours Of Cycling in Scottsdale

Serene iconic Arizona desert morning sunrise with enormous powerful sun on horizon line framed by Saguaro cactus - gorgeous lens flare.

Taking to the roads, there are plenty of street lanes for you to get to any place of business you’d like. Taking this route allows you to see the art on the above route of the Indian Bend Wash Path, get to bookstores, grocery stores and more, all while taking in the view of homes and the architecture styles of old and new homes built in Scottsdale.

If you don’t want to go alone, then you have the options of group rides! They welcome any type of rider, at any level, and they offer multiple time frames to fit your schedule. Each day of the week, they’ll take you on different trails, paths, and parks. This allows for a memorable experience while meeting new people with similar interests. Riding together allows for a deeper experience in a new place with the added personal connection while talking with other riders.

The amount of trails and scenery available in Scottsdale is amazing. There are so many trails and paths to explore that you could have a fantastic weeklong experience. A wonderful bonus to the trails and paths are the lakes, mountains, and parks that are available to bike riders.

If you ride early in the morning, you can see the sunrise cast its beautiful rays over colour across the vast desert. At night, the painting-like sunset casts that colour over the desert leaving it bathed in a beautiful nighttime glow.

Tips Before You Head Out On A Scottsdale Bike Trail

Overall, if you want to take on any of these trails, whether you are a beginner or an advanced biker, you need to make sure you are prepared and in shape for the trail you are planning to ride. Make sure your bike is comfortable and you have enough water and snacks to keep you safe on your ride. Always wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the weather and the trail type. Make sure to map your trail so you always stay on track and don’t get lost and make sure to take everything into consideration so you can have a great ride!

 


denise nelson profile picABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise is a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking around the world. She worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train & ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country & any activities they want to indulge in. She’s also a founder of MountainBikeEZ where you can learn about mountain bikes & mountain biking.


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5 Reasons To Travel The State of Nevada

There’s More To Nevada Than Las Vegas!

By Carolann 

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Nevada? Las Vegas? Gambling and bright lights? Stage shows and performers? Maybe you just think desert and barren land? What if I were to tell you that everything you’ve seen and heard about Las Vegas, all the TV and movie highlights or friends’ social media posts of crazy trips to the city, were actually giving you the barest speck of a glimpse into all that is the state of Nevada? That everything you thought you knew about visiting the area was about as substantial as the desert mirages you’d expect to find there?

Sure, there’s glitz and glamour, chaos and crazy times to be had when you visit Las Vegas. It’s a city that never sleeps (literally) and offers something for almost any traveller or tourist. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and yet in the eight (count them: EIGHT) prior trips I’ve made to Nevada, I hadn’t once stepped outside the bright lights of the Vegas Strip. In all those visits, with all I saw and did, I missed out on some of the most spectacular sights and some of the most incredible experiences imaginable.

5 Reasons to Travel the State of Nevada

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area Nevada

Nevada, from the busy streets of Vegas to the small towns and desert stretches, is by far one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. If I thought Vegas was the destination that would burrow its way under my skin and leave a lasting impression, I was wrong. It was the whole darn state that was waiting to make its way into my heart and memory.

Sure, there’s no place like Vegas and it’s a guaranteed good time but there is much more to Nevada than Las Vegas and these are just five of the things you won’t find while walking the strip which happen to be some of my favourite parts of the state.




Mind Blowing Landscapes

Cruising Lake Tahoe Nevada

If you expected arid desert to be a common theme in Nevada, you’d be correct, but the desert stretches of sand, rock and cacti, are speckled with greenery like the sage brush and Indian rice grass that grows wild and regularly across the state. The stark contrast between sand and shrubbery, rock and lakes, is a strong reminder of the beauty and power of nature. It may be hot. It may be dry. But life still thrives and creates some stunning views along with it!

You’ve got the mountain ranges and valleys that are absolutely spectacular and each unique in their own way offering some priceless photo opportunities. These give way to the bodies of water like Lake Mead, Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake that have become popular destinations all year round.

Kershaw-Ryan State Park Nevada

There’s pretty much something mind blowing to see around every bend of every highway. Turn off to Cathedral Gorge State Park and see one of the most fascinating natural phenomena in the slot canyons and spires that fill the area. Make another stop at Great Basin National Park and walk through geologic time in the Lehman cave system. Oh, and if you look in the distance, off Highway 50, you’ll see Sand Mountain, a beautiful sand dune that looks like a breaking wave frozen in time as if waiting for a surfer to come paddle up to it for a ride.

If you’re not looking to go too far off the beaten path, there’s the more popular sights like Red Rock Canyon and The Grand Canyon which, though well-known, are perfect examples of the sights that await if you travel outside the city limits.

Peace & Tranquility

Visiting Cathedral Gorge State Park Nevada

Sometimes you just need to escape the overload of the city and relax. Getting out of the populated areas and driving into the state, especially along Highway 50 which is also known as The Loneliest Road in America, will have you finding some peace and solitude. Here you’ll get in tune with all that nature just mentioned and have some time for reflection and thought.

It’s a pretty perfect place to take a road trip too. Though the stretches of road can be long from town to town, there is so much to see while you drive and you’ll definitely be staying alert and aware the whole time. There’s really no better place you’ll find to stay in the moment and unwind.

Nevada is a state made for reflection. Where else can you find such a striking disparity between the elements and such variation, yet convergence, of landscapes? Drive for a stretch and clear your mind or stay for a while in one of the small outlying towns and immerse yourself in the quieter, slower pace.

Small Town Charm

McGill Drugstore Museum Nevada

Speaking of small towns, each one you stop in while exploring Nevada will have you learning what the term “small town charm” really means. Scenic and quaint, welcoming and friendly, you’ll find yourself embraced by the people you talk to as you relax into the often traditional settings around you.

Here is where you’ll find those mom and pop shops that have long gone to the wayside in larger cities. You’ll find a place where everyone knows everyone, or can at least point you in the right direction, and where most people are interested in your story as much as they are excited to share their own.

We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Austin during our time in the state and found ourselves chatting into the night with the owners in their front yard as a campfire blazed. The only sounds were the creatures of the night, the breeze in the trees, the crackling of the wood in the fire and our voices as they carried into the dark around us. It was peaceful, it was charming and we had a great time getting to know the people who called this small town ‘home’.

Incredible History

Eureka Sentinel Newspaper Museum Nevada

The other great thing about small towns in Nevada is the history you’ll find there. There’s a strong connection to the past in many of the stops you can make throughout the state. Old buildings maintained or restored become gateways to times long ago and you’ll often find great pride in these places by the people who live in each town.

You’ll find an old courthouse in Pioche which is said to have cost (what would be the equivalent of) 1 million dollars to build from 1870 to 1937 and holds records, photos and artefacts from its prime when Pioche was a perfect example of the Wild West – lawless & corrupt.

Stopping in McGill will have you passing the McGill Drugstore Museum which ceased operating in 1979 and essentially remains as it did the day its doors were closed. Walking through the front door is like stepping back in time and even if you don’t remember some of the brands and products from the past, there’ll be some familiar names that are still around today!

Whether it is natural or human history the list is extensive: the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, Area 51, almost all of Eureka itself, the many Petroglyph areas throughout the state, the Lehman cave system, Cathedral Gorge and so many other stops throughout the whole of Nevada will have you glimpsing history in a variety of ways – geologic, natural, anthropological. It really is amazing how much history you can unearth throughout the state!

Food & Drink

Frey Ranch Distillery Fallon Nevada

It’s true Las Vegas has amazing food at pretty much every turn, but this isn’t unique to just the restaurants in that city. It’s safe to say that all of Nevada knows what it is doing with the food it is growing (yes growing), cooking and serving.

It seems as though no matter where you stop, the food you find will be pretty spectacular. We had some wonderful Southern home cooking and comfort food at a local restaurant in Caliente. It was rich and hearty but it was delicious and our first run in with chicken fried steak had us wanting more!

Our stay at the bed and breakfast ended with, well, breakfast in the morning which was the most gourmet French toast we’ve ever seen. We’re talking cream cheese and strawberries between two thick pieces of French toast, covered in more strawberries and glaze with whipped cream to top it off! Homemade and decadent, it was one memorable breakfast!

Moving to some of the larger towns, like Fallon will have you experiencing what can only be described as a culinary movement. Since its one of Nevada’s agricultural areas, there seems to be a focus on providing quality and fresh ingredients – whether grown locally or sourced by nearby California – in brilliantly prepared and plated dishes. We ate at The Slanted Porch while there and their farm-to-table menu, with a genuine appreciation and respect for the ingredients used, was something you’d expect to find in the upscale restaurants of larger cities.

And it doesn’t just stop at food. Fallon is also home to one of the wineries of Nevada – Churchill Vineyards. Not only do they produce wine, they also have Frey Ranch, a distillery that is creating some impressive spirits – from start to finish – right on the same property.

You definitely won’t be finding a shortage of good food and drink as you navigate your way through Nevada.

A Trip To Remember in Nevada

So if you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas, you may just want to extend it a bit and make some time to get outside the city and explore. Enjoy the beauty of Nevada, find some time to reflect, meet the locals and learn about the incredible history that can be found all over, and fill up on spectacular food you otherwise wouldn’t find without breaking the city limits and seeing all that Nevada has to offer. Believe me, while “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” what happens in Nevada will stay fondly in your memory long after you leave.

Want to explore Nevada? Find out more about the state and all the amazing things to do and see on the Travel Nevada site! Our experiences in Nevada wouldn’t have been possible without them!

 

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A guide to buffalo NY where to stay what to eat what to do

A Guide To Buffalo, NY – A City To Fall In Love With

Something incredible has happened in Buffalo. A resurgence of energy and a city-wide invigoration of its people. From the arts and culture scene to the food scene to the night life and outdoor activities available, Buffalo, New York has become one amazing destination to visit. We were fortunate to be able to spend several days exploring the city with Visit Buffalo Niagara and witnessing this fantastic renaissance that is well underway. It surprised us from the time we got out of our car on that first day, until we left. It is considered a place to catch a cheaper flight or do some cheap shopping for Canadians and a border city, for Americans and Canadians alike, when travelling in either direction. What we’ve discovered though, is that it has something to offer any type of traveller and can satisfy any type of getaway you are looking for… even if it’s just for a weekend! Here’s our guide to Buffalo with what you’ll need to do, see and eat during a visit to the city.

Best Places to Visit in Buffalo

So, if you’ve decided to spend a few nights (or more) in Buffalo, a city that surprised us every step of the way, we’ve put together a guide to show you some of the best the city has to offer visitors and have laid out places to visit in Buffalo from where to eat, what to do and where to stay – even if you’ve only got a short time, or a weekend, to explore!

The video below will give a good overview, but you’ll want to keep reading for more of the amazingness that is Buffalo, NY!

Where to Stay in Buffalo

Truly experiencing Buffalo means delving into its history and that extends to accommodations. If you’re looking to experience something unique, something that allows you to tap into the past while still experiencing comfort and quality, we’ve got the perfect place! Our top recommendation for where to stay in Buffalo is The Mansion on Delaware, a luxury boutique hotel right in downtown Buffalo, that combines the historic architecture visible in the city with luxury and world-class service.

In a great location, the Mansion on Delaware exemplifies the renaissance of Buffalo – this 1800s house has been reborn as a 4 diamond hotel – taking a symbol of the city’s past prosperity and restoring it to create a present day symbol of rebirth.

Where to stay in Buffalo New York Mansion on Delaware

We were first welcomed by the porticos as we walked up the front steps and through the doorsbut were immediately greeted by the warmth and intimacy of the interior. The staff however, took hospitality and service to another level. Friendly and courteous, our names were quickly learned and we were greeted with the same style of welcome every time we passed the reception desk.

 

The Butler Staff, available 24 hours, take the comfort and luxury of the accommodation up another notch with personalized service. Looking to make reservations or a booking, order a meal from an outside restaurant to the hotel or require transportation to a nearby spot in the city? The butlers will take care of you no matter the time.

Mansion on Delaware room where to stay in buffalo ny

The rooms are spacious and clean with added touches of comfort and thoughtfulness, lik
e welcome cookies and water. Our room boasted tall ceilings and large windows and the bathroom was also quite large. It is a remarkably romantic hotel in Buffalo but it is also a great place for any traveller looking for a luxurious escape in the heart of Buffalo.



Though you’ll want to explore the city, try some of the great restaurants we recommend and find some on your own, the complimentary continental breakfast at The Mansion on Delaware is a pretty perfect way to start your day. Freshly baked pastries, smoked salmon and charcuterie meats and cheese, fruit, cold cereals and more, are available to fuel up before you head out into the city and explore what to do in Buffalo and all the amazing places to visit.

Fun Places to Go in Buffalo

Are there really that many things to do in Buffalo? That was our first question as we crossed the border and entered a city we had previously only driven through. What we quickly learned was that there are a ridiculous amount of places to visit and things to do in Buffalo! Though you may not be able to fit them all in if you’re only visiting the city for a short time, it’s worth it to try and make your way to as may of these fun places to go in Buffalo as you can!

RiverWorks

Grain Elevators in Buffalo NY Riverworks

A newer local destination, Riverworks is a giant recreational complex on the waterfront in a repurposed industrial area that holds claim to the largest collection of grain elevators in the world. Approaching from the parking lot provides a deceiving view as once inside, the complex seems to extend unendingly with an ever increasing number of things to do. The patio bar that extends around the waterfront side of the building offers a beautiful view over the river as kayakers pass, some having rented from RiverWorks itself. heading further you’ll find a total of four bars, a restaurant, hockey rinks and a roller derby rink, just to name a few of the things currently built with more planned, including a fully functioning brewery. With an entertainment area to hold concerts and shows as well, it’s not only a fun place to visit, it’s also a great place to eat in Buffalo as you can grab some food and a drink and choose your seating, outside or in.

As an aside, if you happen to be driving by, or in the area, and you smell something delicious and sweet… it may just be the General Mills factory that’s there… is it Cheerios or Lucky Charms? You be the judge!

Canalside

fun places to visit in Buffalo Canalside

One of our favourite areas to spend some time in Buffalo is Canalside. The city has recently breathed new life into this area by creating a destination for locals and tourists alike to enjoy themselves, during any season of the year, and to congregate at a spot in the city that has huge historical importance. Buffalo’s height of industrial and economic times was due to its location and particularly, the junction of Lake Erie, the Niagara River and the Erie Canal where Canalside sits. Here you’ll find numerous Adirondack chairs to relax on by the water while activities like yoga, markets and concerts (in the summer) and skating, curling and ice biking (in the winter) take place around the area. There’s great parking options nearby and, if you happen to be around when it’s dark, a light show on the grain elevators across the way. It’s a great place to enjoy the activities of the day, rent kayaks and water bikes or ice bikes, charter a fishing boat, take a harbour cruise or explore America’s largest inland Naval park all in one spot.

If you’re hungry or need some refreshments, there are stands right on the canalside or a short walk across the way will get you to the popular 716 Food & Sport, a 2-story sports bar and restaurant with multiple television screens to watch the day’s games or a giant 30+ foot tall screen to capture the major event.

Larkin Square

Every city needs a gathering space and one of the primary public areas, and also one of the best places to visit, in Buffalo is Larkin Square. When thinking of the convergence of past and present in the city, this is definitely one area that comes to mind. Formerly the site of the Larkin Soap Company warehouses, a thriving business in Buffalo’s heyday, the area now boasts a public square with regular, free events for the public. Things like Food Truck Tuesdays area huge draw as dozens of trucks and music satisfy the large crowds that gather. Live at Larkin on Wednesdays pulls in local musicians and bands as they perform on the stage in the centre of the square. A few food trucks are also present for this event and parking is free in the area!

If you’re heading to Food Truck Tuesdays, we’d highly recommend Lloyd or Whole Hog Truck! We’ve also heard great things about Amy’s Truck though we’ve yet to try it! You can see our video of trying Lloyd Food Truck below!

Added to these regular summer features, are a host of other events and local establishments that are popping up all around such as Hydraulic Hearth, a restaurant and craft brewery right across the street from the square with great food and beverage options and a great spot to enjoy the activity from a short distance away.

This area promises to only grow as a top spot in the city with regular establishments and activities popping up all around. There’s even a free outdoor mini-golf course right next to Larkin Square that has remained un-vandalized and regularly used by the public and Larkin Square goers. Test your skills out here because it definitely isn’t an easy course!

Elevator Alley Kayak Tour

Fun things to do in BUffalo Elevator Alley Kayak Tour

Imagine grain elevators towering around you as you glide through the water in a kayak. Rowing your way down the Buffalo River through Elevator Alley as the silos around you provide a view that is the industrial equivalent to the limestone formations that are often seen in tropical climates. Elevator Alley Kayak Tour also provides some incredible commentary on the area and its history as you move from the grain elevators towards the Riverfront and Canalside and out further. We had one amazing time learning a great deal about the history and nature of the area and just enjoying being outside on the water. Though you can rent kayaks and other water equipment from them without taking a tour, we loved the added touch of having a guide and the fact that it started in the quiet and peaceful area of Elevator Alley rather than right in the centre of Canalside was an added bonus for us!

Allentown (Allen Street)

what to do in BUffalo NY Allentown

If you’re looking for a unique, hip and artistic place to experience Buffalo, Allentown is it. With street art, out of this world restaurants, a music scene and interesting finds (like a man who blows bubbles out of his window at the corner of a busy intersection – yes he exists!) it is a place for foodies, art lovers and history buffs alike. Walk through the area and discover street art or simply take in the historic and colourful houses that line the streets. Stop in for some live music of any kind, though blues and jazz are popular genres of this area, after grabbing a bite to eat at one of the numerous restaurants that will probably blow your mind – especially if you’re craving a burger and head into Allen Burger Venture!

Allentown is also only a hop, skip and a jump away from Mansion on Delaware, our previously recommended hotel for your stay in Buffalo. Close to so many amazing spots (and with a butler service to take you to the further destinations) you’ll be sure to really get a chance to experience Allentown while staying there!

Tour with Explore Buffalo

Explore Buffalo Walking Tours What to do in Buffalo

Explore Buffalo happens to provide a ton of tours – from bus tours to kayak tours (like Elevator Alley Kayak) to walking tours. For us, a walking tour was what we headed to them for! Taking an architecture tour of downtown Buffalo gave us a fascinating insight into the development of the city, not only through its buildings, but through it’s economic transitions and across the various periods of time. Our guide was impressively knowledgeable and it was fantastic to be able to explore the downtown core by foot, learning about buildings we normally would be overlooking and passing by, none the wiser as to their significance and importance to the city and its history.

It really is an amazing way to learn about, and see, the city and with tours like “Allentown Mob Tour” you can really have some fun with Buffalo and its past!

What To Do In Buffalo

If you’re looking to add some art & culture into your visit, the following are the places in the city that will offer that and more. Since nothing in Buffalo comes without a healthy dose of history, you’re bound to find it in abundance at all of these places as well! If you’ve only got a short time to hit up some arts and culture spots, these are definitely the places you’ll want to look into and some of the top attractions in Buffalo!

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex

What to do in Buffalo Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House

If you’re a fan of architecture, the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex will blow you away. If you’re not, the effect will probably be the same! A residential complex, built for Darwin D. Martin, of the Larkin Company (yep, the same one we mentioned before when discussing Larkin Square). Martin loved the architecture and vision of Frank Lloyd Wright and had commissioned him to build one of the warehouses for the company (though it is no longer standing). As a friendship developed during this project, and Martin’s love of Wright’s architectural philosophy grew, the idea for a complex for Martin and his family formed. What started as Martin’s desire for a compound for his entire family, became an architectural masterpiece far beyond the current architectural practices of the day.

The complex has since been abandoned, partially destroyed, inhabited, sold, repurchased and, now, undergoing reconstruction and restoration.

If you’re looking for a fascinating glimpse into architectural genius and into two individuals who are very much a part of Buffalo’s history, this is definitely a stop to make when exploring the city.

Richardson Olmsted Complex

Best places to visit in Buffalo RIchardson Olmsted Complex

Perhaps one of the most fascinating buildings we’ve ever seen, and definitely a must-visit in Buffalo, the Richardson Olmsted Complex is another piece of Buffalo’s past that is being repurposed for present day uses in a very different way. It was originally the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane and was a massive complex created by two popular architects. The 140-year old building is a National Historic Landmark and is a pretty impressive sight with its Gothic towers and expansive size.

Renovations are now underway in a significant part of the main building to transform it into a boutique hotel with an adjoining architecture centre for the public.

We were able to take one of the tours given through the building to see the progress and changes being made and witnessing the construction of what is to be a modern accommodation within the stunning, Gothic exterior is quite fascinating. It is definitely a unique experience and it will be incredible to see the end result as an abandoned complex is turned into an economically sustainable feature of the city.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is not only a great place to take in modern and contemporary art, it is also another important component to Buffalo’s history as it is one of the oldest public arts institutions in the United States. With permanent installations and changing exhibitions, you can glimpse collections and works from artists around the world as well as those who are local.

A stop in the AK Cafe is definitely a good idea if you’re getting hungry. Meals from here are as inspired as the artwork throughout the rest of the building.

Burchfield Penney Art Center

If you’re looking for local Buffalo art, Burchfield Penney Art Center is the place to go. Dedicated to not only the works of Charles E. Burchfield, the art centre showcases the work of artists from Western New York. Exhibitions change but the theme of the artists displayed is always the same and will often give you a glimpse into the nature, geography and history of Buffalo itself.

Where to Eat in Buffalo

Buffalo is a foodie wonderland. Seriously. There is an almost overwhelming amount of options for types of cuisine and establishments that offer amazing food. Here are our choices of top restaurants in Buffalo, whether you’ve got loads of time to explore or are only there for a few days!

Lloyd Taco Truck

Lloyd Taco Truck Buffalo NY Where to eat

We mentioned Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkin Square and we said that Lloyd Taco Truck is one to head to when you are there. What we didn’t say is that Lloyd Taco Truck can be found throughout the week at various spots around the city. We also didn’t say that it is one of the best food trucks we’ve found.

While our favourite is the Tricked Out Nachos, we were fairly blown away by their entire menu (because we pretty much tried it all) including their Mexican street corn, tacos and burritos. In fact, we love Lloyd so much, we make sure to stop in the city and find one of their trucks whenever we pass through.

SeaBar

A key clue that you’ve entered a foodie paradise is that they have at least one amazing sushi restaurant. SeaBar was our first meal in Buffalo and tipped us off from the start that we had entered a culinary city we weren’t expecting.

In the summertime, SeaBar restaurant offers outdoor seating but whether you’re sitting inside or out, the atmosphere is both casual yet chic. The menu, is anything but casual. There are some serious appetizers and entrees to go along with the sushi and sashimi options and when you get to the rolls, you know you’ve hit the jackpot, especially with their brilliant take on a Beef on Weck (a sandwich native to Buffalo that was new to us but something you can’t leave without trying!).

The fish is fresh, melt-in-your-mouth and the cuts are perfect. The rolls, a tasty combination of flavours in the absolute right proportions: from their original rolls like the beef on Weck to the more standard American rolls like the Spider Roll. We even chose the crab mango roll as our dessert because, well, why not?

Allen Burger Venture

Allen Burger Venture where to eat in BUffalo NY

Burgers. Another test of a true foodie destination. From just one visit to one burger joint – Allen Burger Venture – Buffalo far surpassed our expectations. It was so good, it is in the running for the best burger we’ve had… anywhere.

Perhaps it’s that their beef is grass-fed Angus, hormone and antibiotic free from verified humane and sustainable ranches. Perhaps it’s the side of hand-cut fries that are cooked perfectly. Or perhaps it is the unbelievable condiment options on their beef (and alternative, such as chicken, tuna, veggie, etc) burgers like caramelized onions, applewood bacon and cheddar or cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and their Triple D sauce (like Big Mac sauce!). Whatever it is, from the very first bite, we knew we had found a burger joint amongst burger joints.

Gabriel’s Gate

Here is where things get a little controversial. You’ll probably want to consult a local expert… though EVERY local you meet will consider themselves one on this issue. Buffalo wings. Or, as they call them in Buffalo: wings.

We were told of about a half-dozen different restaurants, from different ‘local experts’, that were supposedly THE place to get wings in the city. We didn’t try them all. We do plan to one day though. Until then, we can only offer our suggestions on the places we did try them and our first spot was Gabriel’s Gate. One of the local favourites, this lodge-style pub in Allentown offers some pretty good wings, if we say so ourselves, and can be ordered with increasingly spicy sauce options. The way to order them, most locals told us, is medium BBQ sauce with (and this is the most important thing) blue cheese dressing NOT ranch as is the default in most places.

Gene McCarthy’s

Beef on Weck. A sandwich we had never heard of before our first visit to Buffalo. It is said that the beef on Weck was created in Buffalo using a kummelweck (in German, it means caraway roll) which is a bun baked with caraway and salt on top that was also said to have originated in Buffalo. The roll was then used to create the beef on weck by creating a sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and horseradish.

If it sounds delicious it’s because it is and when we tried our first one at Gene McCarthy’s before our Elevator Alley Kayak Tour, we were hooked. This is definitely a place we’ll return to, to get our beef on weck fix and their wings were pretty darn good too!

An Irish pub with a cozy feel, it’s own beers and live music events, it’s another local favourite that is really a must visit no matter how long you have in the city!

Food Trucks!

Larkin Square things to do in Buffalo NY

You don’t have to wait for Food Truck Tuesdays in the summer to hit up a food truck in Buffalo. There are a large number of them in the downtown and surrounding areas and a simple search for the trucks and where they are will have you finding some unique culinary options. It’s a way to get out into the streets of the city, explore new areas or simply find yourself dining in an area you already know and enjoy!

Hydraulic Hearth 

Whether something is going on at Larkin Square or not, Hydraulic Hearth is a restaurant worth checking out. Delicious brick-oven pizzas, a unique variety of craft beers and a unique art installation in an old phone booth inside the restaurant make for a great dining experience.

With free parking and a warm atmosphere, it’s a great place to go any day of the week for some drinks or a meal. There are also several weekly and monthly events that pop up like Gospel brunches with live music and an all-you-can-eat buffet.

So Much Buffalo To See, So Little Time

Really and truly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all you can do, see and enjoy in Buffalo. We were able to tap into a city of incredible depths, fascinating history, inspiring revitalization and unforgettable food and we’re definitely not finished. If you get a chance to visit you not only won’t be disappointed, you’ll probably be like us… planning your next trip to Buffalo!

 

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Southernmost Point, Southernmost point continental USA, Southernmost Point Key West, Key West landmarks, Key West Attractions,

Daily Digital – The Southernmost Point

Southernmost Point, Southernmost point continental USA, Southernmost Point Key West, Key West landmarks, Key West Attractions,

Today’s Daily Digital is another flashback from our impromptu road-trip/vacation in Key West.  The Southernmost Point is a buoy grounded in cement and is mentioned on pretty much every map we saw of the island while we were there. If you are visiting the area and happen to be devoid of any map or sign pointing the way, this popular attraction is located on the corner of Whitehead St and South St.

As the above Key West landmark shows, Cuba is only 90 miles from the southernmost point of Key West, and the continental U.S.A. You only have to spend a short amount of time in Key West and this proximity becomes obvious as there is a very visible Cuban influence in Key West. The food, the architecture, the music and the coffee are all sprinkled with Cuban flavour and add to the feel of having somewhat escaped the USA to some tropical island.

We only visited this Key West attraction on the last day we were on the island. We hadn’t really made plans to see it but since it seemed like every other tourist made a point of stopping by, we figured we should do the same and check it off our list of things we’ve seen. There was a small line-up when we reached the buoy (it was offseason so there are probably much larger lines when tourism is at its peak) so we stood in line, waited our turn and snapped a quick photo as a reminder of how close we were to a culture and country, so distant from ours.