Not everyone is up for a staycation right now. But for me, getting away even for a day, or two, or three, is a great boost to mental health during pandemic paralysis. Since it looks like it might be awhile until we can fly off to the Alps, or the Cote d’Azure or the Azores…a little sanity staycation is a perfect pandemic prescription.
We’ve decided to do several sanity staycations in the weeks and months ahead, visiting places within a few hours or a few days from home. Places reachable by car with low impact as far as crowds or contact with humans. Our first sanity staycation was to the beautiful Whidbey Island less than two hours from my home in Washington State where we have been on travel pause for two months.
First, traveling mid-week is a great way to avoid crowds. On Whidbey we felt like we were the only visitors, and that was okay with us. We rented a cottage on the grounds of the Quintessa, a wedding and events location. But on a Tuesday, we were the only guests and it felt really special to have it all to ourselves.
Whidbey is easy to get around by car. We’ve been here before so didn’t need to see everything, but if you haven’t visited before the cute shops especially in Langley and Coupeville are my favorites. If you are game there are also wine tasting rooms, distilleries and taprooms. Greenbank Farms will serve you wine and cheese and send you off with a delicious berry pie to take home – giving you a chance to savor your sanity staycation for a day or two more. Or pick up some world famous Penn Cove Oysters while here…the tiny sweet delicious mollusks are the best.
If you are an experienced cyclists it’s a great place to ride, but we left our bikes at home this time and opted for some easy hiking. We chose to do a really fun day hike in the Fort Ebey State Park, perfect for any fitness level and offering some really beautiful views. Exactly what my mental health was craving.
Although we didn’t have a reservation (highly recommended) we were able to slide in for an early dinner at the highly rated Prima Bistro in Langley. Both indoor and outdoor dining and a really great menu makes the Prima Bistro a top choice. If you want to social distance try to get a reservation off peak, although the restaurant was following all State of Washington distancing rules. On our second night we got take-out at the highly rated Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza. Excellent New York style pizza, in the Bayview area halfway between Langley and Freeland. We also made a quick stop for a treat at Coupeville’s Red Hen Bakery – killer cinnamon rolls, take out only.
A sanity staycation takes a bit of planning…don’t assume everything is open and running regular hours. For instance Joe’s is only open for take-out currently (July 2020).
Also very important is that you check the current schedule for the Washington State Ferries (unless you plan to arrive from the North over the Deception Pass Bridge). Currently due to reduced staffing Washington State Ferries are running at half capacity (July 2020). The Mukilteo to Clinton Ferry (closest from Seattle and King and Snohomish County and all points east) is usually a 2-3 boat wait unless you can travel during non-peak. Another option is the Port Townsend to Coupeville Ferry. If you are coming from points west and south ( Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason or Jefferson Counties) this is definitely the way to go. The great thing about this boat is you can make a reservation and be secured a spot on whatever sailing you want.
But that’s all part of the “fun” (she says tongue in cheek) during the time of Covid. Learning to live with new rules and guidelines will serve us all in the long run…and taking a mental health sanity staycation is a highly recommended way to feel better and wash away the blues – but only if you are comfortable being out. We plan to choose safe, quiet and unpopulated places to visit on upcoming sanity staycations.
Be safe. Be smart. And above all else, please be kind.
How to talk about my favorite things in Washington State? There is NO WAY I can list all the wonderful things about my home state of Washington. No doubt someone reading this blog will think I have left something out. And so I encourage everyone to comment at the end of this blog with additional FAVORITE things about Washington State.
I was born in Washington 60 years ago and I know a lot of great places in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. As we travel the world I often reminisce about Washington, comparing other places around the world to her. I’m looking forward to getting back there, and once again enjoying my favorite things in Washington State.
If you have never visited the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA you are missing out on something pretty special. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. I feel quite qualified to say that, having visited 110 countries myself. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, it has both a very green side (west of the Cascade Mountains) and a gold side (east of the mountains) and I love them equally. Raised on the west side but going to college and spending a great deal of time on the east side, I have learned to appreciate and admire the beauty and diversity of this spectacular little piece of paradise – Washington State.
Seattle – Washington’s largest city is cosmopolitan, delicious, cultural and ethnically diverse. It is the number one place to visit in Washington.
Spokane – One of my favorite cities in Washington and the largest city on the east side of the state, Spokane has grown from a sleepy agricultural town to a wonderfully diverse and interesting city.
Bellingham – Tucked in the Northwest corner of Washington State very near the Canadian border, Bellingham offers a waterfront location with wonderful history. Home to Western Washington University, the student life brings a mix of culture and dining to this medium size city.
Tacoma – the second largest city in the state, Tacoma has long battled a poor reputation. But today’s Tacoma is a far cry from that of yesteryear. A cleaned up downtown and port area, multiple first class museums and a great selection of parks and restaurants makes T-town one of my favorites.
Gig Harbor – I lived in Gig Harbor for 25 years and watched it grow. And despite the traffic I still love this maritime village that has the single most beautiful view in the entire state.
Sequim – Much like Gig Harbor but without the traffic, Sequim’s location overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in the shadow of the Olympic mountains makes its temperate climate perfect. Throw in the amazing lavender farms and bike trails there is a lot to love about this town.
Walla Walla – when I was growing up Walla Walla was just the town with the funny stuttering name. Today it is one of the premier wine regions in the world and has a wonderfully restored downtown.
Pullman – home to my alma mater Washington State University, Pullman is an upcoming destination even if you don’t say GO COUGS. Today’s Pullman has parks and trails and a much larger selection of dining and hotels than it did forty years ago when I was in school. And I love the weather.
Lena Lake – One of our favorite hikes in the Olympics, the hike to both Lower Lena and Upper Lena can be done by most hikers with minimal experience.
Mount Rainier – If you can catch Mount Rainier on a sunny day any hike will be enjoyable. A wide variety of hike options can be found in the Mount Rainier National Park. This summer I did the Summerland Trail for the first time. I loved it.
Crystal Mountain – hike up and ride the gondola down, or ride the gondola up and hike down…either way you will enjoy panoramic views of Rainier and on a good day, you can see four other volcanoes beyond.
Olympic Discovery Trail – I love this cycling trail and rode on it twice this past summer. The trail runs from Port Townsend all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However from Port Angeles west it is mostly on roads. Since we like to stay on trails, we usually start in Blyn and ride to Port Angeles and back, about 50 miles round trip.
Centennial Trail – Spokane has several cycling trails and one of our favorites is the Centennial Trail that winds its way from Spokane into Idaho and Coeur d’Alene.
Chehalis Western – I’ve spent hours and hours training for long rides on the Chehalis Western, located near Olympia. You can start and stop many places on this trail but if you ride the entire trail round trip it’s 90 miles.
Interurban/Burke Gilman – So many options with this very popular cycling and walking trail. We rode the Burke Gilman this year from Gas Works Park in Seattle to Woodinville (forty miles round trip). If you really want a long and amazing ride start the Interurban in Pacific (near Auburn) and connect in Seattle with the Burke Gilman to Woodinville. This round trip is about 90 miles.
Puget Sound – Western Washington’s beauty can be attributed to water, both that which falls from the sky and that which surrounds it as the Puget Sound. With several cities and towns perched on the Sound, access to it is plentiful, and it is certainly one of my favorite things in Washington State.
Lake Chelan – Washington’s favorite lake is found right in the middle of the state, the 55 mile long, 1500 feet deep natural lake of Chelan. Both a summer and winter playground, Washingtonians from the westside flock to Chelan in the summer.
Columbia River – Roll on Columbia still rings true, and visiting this amazing river that flows both south and west through the state offers a variety of recreational activities and history lessons along the way.
Pacific Ocean – spending time enjoying the crashing waves of Washington’s Pacific Coast is a must when visiting the state. My favorite places to access the Pacific Ocean are Neah Bay or Ozette in the far northwest part of the state or Kalaloch or Long Beach further south.
Green Lake – walking or cycling the 2.8 mile loop around Green Lake is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Greenlake is a wonderful little gem of a natural setting right in the heart of north Seattle…treasured by locals.
San Juan Islands – To really see how glorious the Puget Sound is, taking a ferry to one or more of the San Juan Islands and enjoying a few days island hopping is sublime.
Gig Harbor Gondola – if you visit tiny and scenic Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a gondola ride in the harbor in an authentic Italian gondola.
Snoqualmie Falls – Just about 40 min drive east of Seattle you will find the amazing Snoqualmie Falls….higher than Niagara. Depending on the time year Snoqualmie falls can be a slender and beautiful falls or a thunderous monster of a waterfall. Worth the drive and also if you are fit the hike to the bottom is breathtaking.
Tillicum Village – Visitors and locals should experience Tillicum Village at least once in their lifetime. The getting there is half the fun, but the food and authentic Native American entertainment is incredible.
Pike Place Market – known for the throwing fish, there is a lot more to enjoy a Seattle’s Pike Place Market, even if you don’t buy a thing it is a not-to-be-missed Seattle institution.
Geoduck Hunting – I went Geoducking for the first time this year on the Key Peninsula just west of Gig Harbor. If you have an opportunity, I highly recommend it. So much fun.
Oysters – take the Olympic Peninsula loop drive and stop for oyster at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Or if you can’t drive the loop, pick up fresh oyster or order oyster on the half shell…usually available in a month with an R. Some of the world’s finest oysters come from Washington State.
Dungeness Crab – If you grew up thinking Maryland Crab was crab you are in for a real shock when you eat Washington’s own world famous Dungeness Crab. Rich, buttery and delicious, Dungeness crab is best without any accoutrements…just eat it like nature intended.
Boehm’s Chocolates – still hand made daily in Issaquah Washington you can have a taste of old European Swiss Chocolate just like the old country. Boehm’s has locations in Issaquah, Poulsbo and Yakima.
Cafe Campagne – my favorite Seattle restaurant I go back to again and again with French food as good as any bistro in Paris.
Luna – just discovered this Spokane gem this summer and I will certainly be back. Possibly the best meal I had all summer.
Brix 25 – in my hometown of Gig Harbor, this little gem is always spot on. Try the Beef Bourgignon. You won’t be disappointed.
Tony’s Fillipis Pizza – growing up in Bremerton this was the place to get pizza, and still today Tony’s Fillipis Pizza is my favorite pizza anywhere in the world.
The Valley Cafe – tucked into an old drug store in Ellensburg Washington, I stop to eat here anytime I am in this Central Washington Rodeo town. And you should too.
The Pink Door – my second favorite Seattle restaurant (and just down the alley from my first) I try to visit in the summer and get a table on their deck. I have never had a bad meal at this iconic Seattle restaurant.
Black Cypress – Pullman isn’t known for fine dining, and yet, the Black Cypress is an absolute find, and a must dine when in the tiny college town of Pullman.
Wineries and Breweries
Washington has become an award wining wine producing state over the past several decades as well as one of the launching places for many now famous microbrews. Washingtonians are well-known to be entrepreneurial and creative (think Bill Boeing, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos) and this local trait shows in the wide variety of first rate wines and beers. Here is a list of my local favs;
Since I live in the state part of the year I don’t often stay in local resorts, but over the years I have had the opportunity to visit several. Most resorts here focus on the beauty of the natural surroundings as well as the farm and forage to table dining Washington offers. Here is list of my favorites;
Since one of the reasons people LOVE Washington so much is the beauty, finding the best views in the state is something visitors always are looking for. For me personally the list below offers amazing views, history and recreation from ocean beaches to mountain tops and everything in between. These are all great options that fit most, budgets, fitness levels and schedules;
Oh my goodness I have so many favorite things in Washington State! I know I have missed some things – I didn’t even touch on museums or tours. I could write an entire blog about festivals, art and music. But the things I have listed here are the things I have experienced and personally enjoy going back to again and again. My Washington from my point of view. Please add your favorites to the list in the comments below. Get out and enjoy surprising, diverse, beautiful, delicious and friendly Washington State. I sure have these past four months. Washington my home.
It’s a vast state, but one of my favorites. I’d like to spend more time here, and every time I visit I want to see more.
Montana. Often called the Big Sky Country or the Treasure State both nicknames reflect the vastness and beauty of the United States’ 41st state. Montana joined a wide group of new states in 1889, including my home state of Washington which became the 42nd state three days after Montana.
I’ve mentioned in my blogs before that I wish visitors to the USA would come to places like Montana, instead of Las Vegas or Orlando because in my opinion this is America. America the beautiful. Amber waves of grain. Purple mountains majesty. I love it here. And admittedly there are things about the USA I am not proud of, but the rugged beauty of places like Montana remind me how grateful I am to be an American.
Our recent trip was a short one, but an inspiring one. We drove from Spokane Washington on Interstate 90 to Bigfork. The drive takes about four hours from Spokane. You leave Interstate 90 at Saint Regis and head north on 93 to Bigfork. The drive is spectacular and the only way to visit Montana properly is with a car. The last hour of the drive takes you north with Flathead lake on your right. Beautiful views of this enormous lake and the mountains and forests beyond.
We have friends we were visiting in Bigfork and we wanted to spend a day in Glacier National Park, one of our favorites of the National Parks in the USA. The last time we visited Glacier we stayed three days in October. The park was quiet and we enjoyed having it nearly to ourselves. In July however it was very crowded with tourists from all of the USA and many from around the world.
The crowds kept us from finding parking at the first two places we wanted to hike, so we continued on to two other hikes, which we enjoyed. The park is big, but there is really only one road “The Going to the Sun Road” so at peak season it can be busy. There is talk of making Going to the Sun a shuttle road (like they do in Zion). During peak season you would leave your vehicle and take a shuttle.
There are shuttles available as well as the historic Red Bus Tours. We have not done this but it looks really fun and you get a guide who narrates history, geography and wildlife topics. Worth the money.
We really enjoyed our full day at Glacier with visits to Lake McDonald Lodge, Logan Pass, Deadwood Falls and Two Medicine.
We spent another day in Bigfork, which has grown a lot and offers a variety of restaurants, shops and galleries in what used to be a sleepy cowboy town. Very walkable and beautiful. We took a hike along the Swan River Nature Trail just up the hill from the old town and enjoyed the views from there.
We also drove to Lakeside on Flathead Lake, where families were swimming and sunning themselves in a lovely public park. The resort town offers many hotels and restaurants. We made a stop in Somers and visited the historic train station and ice house and learned some history of the region.
I’d like to go back next summer and head south and stop in Missoula, Butte and Bozeman…maybe go as far as Yellowstone. It’s a large state, worth the time it takes to see it, worth it whether you are from Montana or Morocco, Washington or Wales.
Big Sky Country. Purple Mountains Majesty. Montana.
Growing up on and frankly IN the Puget Sound, I’m very aware and appreciative of the unique, beautiful and delicious bounty this body of water provides. A true Washingtonian loves seafood of all kinds from clams to salmon, oysters to Dungeness crab. Don’t ever try to tell me East Coast crab is better. Delusional.
As you know if you follow this blog I eat just about anything, and I’m not afraid of seafood or shellfish. When I was a child we dug steamer clams right in my front yard. We traveled to Ocean Shores to dig razor clams every spring. And each summer we harvested dozens of Dungeness crabs from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
But for some reason, despite how delicious it is, I had never harvested geoduck, the giant, funny and phallic looking clam unique to this part of the world.
Until now. Thanks to our friends who invited us, along with several other couples to try our hand at geoducking during a recent extreme low-tide (Puget Sound experiences extreme low-tides in the summer creating a perfect opportunity to hunt the giant clam that usually bores into the sand in deep water.)
Geoducks can be found buried very deep in the sand, as much as four or more feet deep. At low tide, you can carefully walk around the beach and look for a tiny “mouth” sticking out of the sand, usually less than an inch. Depending on how long the geoduck’s neck is, the body of the beast will be found deep in the sand below where you spot the mouth. A geoduck neck can be four feet long. They can live more than 150 years.
Non-commercial harvesters will dig deep after spotting the mouth. Our friends used a large metal tube placed over where the mouth was found. Digging down inside the tube to locate the body of the geoduck, increasing the depth of the tube into the sand as you dig. Commercial geoduck harvesters have other methods (a very lucrative commercial market serves the Chinese insatiable appetite for geoduck). Read about it here.
As soon as you start digging the geoduck will pull its very long neck back down from the surface. But, despite what some people think, the geoduck cannot “run”. It can only retract the neck but its body will stay in place. Digging dip to find the body without hitting the body with the shovel makes for a delicate process. But the next part is neither delicate or graceful.
Lying on your stomach you must reach deep into the muck inside the hole and grasp the giant clam by the shell….not the neck or you might pull the neck off. Loosening the clam from the deep mud where it has embedded itself securely takes some strength (and a few choice words). With luck you will come up with a giant geoduck weighing anywhere from one pound to as much as four pounds!
The next step is to take lots of funny pictures of these decidedly phallic looking creatures and spend some time wondering about Mother Nature and her sense of humor.
Then it’s time to clean them. First rinse of all visible mud and sand. Next they need to be dipped in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This loosens the outer skin (sometimes referred to as the condom) around the neck. It’s not edible until that skin is removed. Next clean the guts and stomach and rinse again. See a video here.
Finally it’s time to eat. Our friends prepared an amazing geoduck sashimi with three dipping sauces. Eating the sweet and fresh as it gets delicacy couldn’t have been more delicious. Our efforts rewarded.
After our wonderful day on the beach with friends we brought home three good size geoducks. I prepared geoduck ceviche – a perfect way to serve the fresh uncooked, tender body meat. I highly recommend this recipe I found on Pinterest. I used Mango in place of Papaya and it was amazing. See it here.
Next I used my food processor to grind the necks (which are tougher and more chewy than the body). Grind in small batches so it doesn’t get too mushy. I used the ground meat to make geoduck fritters served with a delicious dipping sauce of siracha, mayo and lemon. I found a recipe for Conch fritters that I adapted easily. See the fritter recipe here.
Finally I put the rest of the ground geoduck in a freezer bag and put it in my freezer. A week later it was used in a delicious geoduck chowder. When making chowder with geoduck you can use about half the usual amount of meat ratio to potatoes and other ingredients. I used both clam juice and chicken stock as my base instead of just clam as mentioned in this recipe. It was delicious.
To harvest any shellfish in the Pacific Northwest you need to have a shellfish license. See the rules here. It’s important not to over harvest, so that these delicious Puget Sound creatures will be around for generations to come, just like they have been for generations in the past. The name geoduck is derived from a a local Native American word from the Lushootseed (Nisqually) people gʷídəq. Puget Sound Native American’s harvested local shellfish and seafood long before any of us were here.
Don’t fear the Geoduck despite it’s unusual look. Respect and enjoy this delicate, sweet, not fishy tasting and delicious giant clam of the Puget Sound.
Summer in Washington State – Fabulous!
Sincere thanks to Kameron Minch for many of these photos in this blog and to our friends Jeff and Dayl Minch for such a fun day.
Please pin or share our blog – we love you for it!
My Fab Fifties Life is enjoying a summer in Washington State, USA, where I was born and raised. As much as I love my life of full-time travel, coming home to familiar ground where my family is brings a sense of stability to our nomad world.
When we return to the USA most summers, my focus is always family, but we also get out at least once a week and play tourists in our own backyard. And that is what we did this past weekend in celebration of both Father’s Day and my husband’s birthday.
McMenamins Elks Lodge Tacoma
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest the blue-collar town of Tacoma always had a bit of a “smelly” reputation because of the pulp and paper mill that cast an odor over the town for several generations. Today however Tacoma has become a renaissance town, with gorgeous views, multiple incredible museums, beautiful parks, and delicious dining.
And the newest little gem to open in Tacoma is the McMenamins franchise masterpiece in the historic and beautifully restored Elks Temple in downtown Tacoma.
If you aren’t from around these parts you might not be familiar with the vision of Mike and Brian McMenamin, Oregon brothers who have built a legendary business of turning historic and dilapidated properties into spectacularly quirky and fun hotels, restaurants, breweries, distilleries,
Elks Lodge Pub & Restaurant
and event venues. For the past 20 years my husband and I, (on many occasions with our kids in tow), have made one of the dozens of McMenamins properties a destination weekend.
The latest addition to the McMenamins dynasty is the opening of the Tacoma Elks Temple after several years of extensive restoration. The building had sat abandoned for thirty-five years, and time, weather and graffiti all had taken a toll.
And yet, this is what McMenamins does best – breathe life into old structures all while digging deep into the silent history of a building to awaken both the known and unknown stories of the people and events that were there. The Elks Temple does just that.
Art everywhere you look
Built in 1916 for the Fraternal Order of Elks, the building was home to one of the nation’s largest Elks organizations until the 1960’s. It was then used as an event venue and, unlike the all-white Elks organization, the building welcomed anyone of any race and held many of the local African-American Rose Cotillion Balls for several years. But times changed and so did the building as it fell into disrepair for 33 years until the visionary McMenamins saw its potential.
We arrived in the afternoon on a very crowded Father’s Day and proceeded to taste our way through all of the properties five bars. Each bar named appropriately, decorated with fun and interesting relics including menu’s that reflect the individual personality of each bar. For instance in
Hand crafted beer and tapas at the Spanish Steps Bar
the Spanish Steps bar (named for Tacoma’s beautiful Spanish Steps that run along the south edge of the building) Tapas are featured on the menu, while in The Old Hangout, a throwback to Trader Vic’s style 1950’s Tiki Bar serves everything from Mai Tai to Singapore Sling, grilled Pineapple Sundae or Salt and Pepper Squid.u
True to the McMenamins model, guests must try to find the “hidden” bar called The Vault. We found it, actually cheated a little because someone was coming out…and I don’t think we would have found it otherwise. Cleverly disguised. That’s all I’m gonna say.
We had both dinner and breakfast in the Elks Pub and Restaurant where we enjoyed pizza, salad and soup for dinner with more McMenamin
The Old Hang Out Bar throwback to old style Tiki
hand-crafted beer. For breakfast I had an amazing Eggs Benedict that included artichoke hearts and spinach and included cheese jalapeño grits. Wow.
The Elks Lodge now has 45 rooms, each and every one named for a person or group of persons who had something to do with the building or the surrounding area. Everyone from Robert Cray (musician) to Bill Baarsma (former mayor) to Hattie Lund (no relation to me but a long-time Tacoma philanthropist) to the Puyallup Native American Tribe.
I have two small complaints about our visit. Our room which opened to
an atrium and did not have an outside window, was a bit stuffy and I wished for a window. If I return I’ll pay a little more for a room on the perimeter of the building. My other complaint is that although the wifi worked great throughout the building in bars and public spaces, it was non-existent in our room.
Rooms start around $140 per night. Food and beverage is very reasonably priced. If you come, allow plenty of time to just explore…it’s like a museum of both art and history as well as a wonderful place to people watch Tacoma’s eclectic and proud residents. So much fun. We will be back.
I just visited Scottsdale Arizona for the third time. I really love this little town because it has so much to offer; great weather, spectacular scenery, interesting history, great outdoor activities and delicious restaurants. In fact Scottsdale seems to have the highest concentration of dining options of just about anywhere I have every been…all of them delicious.
During my various visits to Scottsdale area I have created a short list of my favorite things to do while in Scottsdale Arizona. This list is certainly not complete, because the wide variety of activities ranges from visits to the Grand Canyon to Food Tours on a Segway, from gambling all night long to lounging by the pool all day. I myself am not a golfer, but certainly golf is one of the biggest things that draw visitors to this area. Scottsdale definitely has something for everyone.
As you plan your visit to the beautiful Scottsdale Arizona area, perhaps this list of what to do in Scottsdale Arizona – my fab favorite things, will be of use. I hope it is.
One thing I can always shop for is plants and garden related items and my visit to the stunning Desert Botanical Gardens gave me so much inspiration for bringing a wee bit of the Southwest into my Pacific Northwest Garden. I spent about two and half hours here one morning by myself enjoying the gorgeous gardens and the interesting interpretive signage about local flora & fauna as well as indigenous people. During my visit I walked more than three miles around the stunning gardens. Entry fee is $25 and worth every penny.
Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark nestled in the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, AZ. It is also the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin.
Wright’s beloved winter home and the bustling headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship, was established in 1937 and diligently handcrafted over many years into a world unto itself. Deeply connected to the desert from which it belongs.
Desert Botanical Gardens
Tickets are $25 and reservations are highly recommended. One of my favorite tours in all of the USA. Don’t miss it. Learn more at Taliesin West.
Climbing the dry and difficult trail to the top of Camelback Mountain is one of my favorite things to do in Scottsdale Arizona…but it’s not for everyone. You need to be in good physical condition and carry lots of water, but the effort is worth it. Pinnacle Peak is another great climb in the area or take a day trip (on your own or with a tour) to the Sonoran Desert for a spectacular hike where you can enjoy the desert scenery to the maximum.
Everything you can think of is available for nightlight in Scottsdale from casinos and concerts to comedy and festivals. Cowboy bars, upscale nightclubs, roof top bars and Bodegas are available all around Scottsdale. You can also find a variety of improv clubs, piano bars and dance clubs. Talking Stick is a popular casino with a famous rooftop bar.
With my high school friends last weekend in Scottsdale
These are just a handful of suggestions of what to do in Scottsdale Arizona – the always interesting Southwest USA town. Not as crazy as Las Vegas, and not as expensive either…Scottsdale offers a wonderful get-away with a warm and inviting climate most of the year.
Don’t forget your swimsuit!
Please show your love for My Fab Fifties Life and share or pin our blog. We thank you for your support!
We were so lucky to spend a few lovely days visiting friends in Charleston South Carolina. It’s a bonus when friends live in cities worth visiting and Charleston is definitely one of those. Charleston South Carolina oozes southern charm and hospitality – you just want to eat it up.
We had visited Charleston years ago, in fact about 27 years ago. Boy time does fly. And although the surrounding areas of Charleston proper including the town of Mount Pleasant where we were staying, have grown exponentially, historic Charleston has stayed much the same.
The oldest town in the American south, Charleston dates to 1718 and is named for King Charles II of England. Originally located north and founded in 1680 (location now known as Charles Town Landing), the town moved south to the strategic location where the confluence of the Wando and the Ashleigh Rivers meet Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
The city today (population of the greater Charleston area about 775,000) is well-known for its beauty, colonial history, hospitality, exceptional restaurants, and surrounding recreational opportunities.
We spent our short time in the area enjoying the company of our friends, and several sites around the region. We did not go out to Fort Sumter, because we did that long ago. Instead we walked more than eight miles all over historic Charleston. Although the horse-drawn carriages are fun, Charleston is a pedestrian friendly town. It’s perfect for walking; flat, safe and beautiful. On our walk we enjoyed the magnificent historic churches (Charleston is nicknamed the Holy City because it has so many church spires) and cemeteries. The colonial historic homes are enchanting, each so perfectly coiffed and dressed as if going to a ball. The week we were visiting was the peak of the jasmine bloom – literally millions of jasmine blossoms on nearly every beautiful home, perfumed the air for miles around. We visited Battery Park where the herons were nesting in the giant oak trees overlooking Charleston Harbor. Of course we stopped for photos at Rainbow Row, the original commercial district and now the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the USA. Our walk took us to The Pink House, the oldest stone building in Charleston dated 1674.
I really enjoyed the Historic Charleston Market, stretching for four blocks it has been a market of one sort or another since 1790 and operates in the beautiful and historic market hall. Today the market is almost all arts and crafts, showcasing the region’s blend of Southern US, English, French and West African cultures. My favorite was the spectacular handmade reed baskets known as Sweetgrass Baskets. Made still today in the traditional manner by the descendants of West Africans, the baskets are works of art and sell for hundreds of dollars.
Shem Creek Park north of historic Charleston, has a lovely park and nature preserve made for walking and enjoying the birds and beauty of the area. This is also where you can see all the shrimp boats and pick up some fresh shrimp for dinner, which we did! Another beautiful walk is out the former bridge to Sullivan’s Island. When the new bridge opened the old bridge found new purpose as a wonderful pedestrian park across the estuary and perfect for kayak launching, bird watching, fishing and picnicking.
Boone Hall Plantation is definitely worth a visit even with the $25 entrance fee. Boone Hall has been a working plantation for more than 350 years. Although the current main house is not original (dates to 1936), it is beautiful and keeps to the authentic time period. The row of brick slave cabins were really interesting, with each one focusing on interpretive information about the slave life. Local docents offer short talks about the plantation and slavery, and a half an hour storytelling and singing presentation by a local Gullah woman was first-rate. I am so glad we visited beautiful Boone Hall.
I could write another entire blog about the delicious food of this region…but I’ll just end the post today with a shout out to pimento cheese and pork rinds, cheeseburger with fried green tomato, BBQ Brisket and coleslaw, scallops with pesto and mushrooms and fresh-off-the-boat shrimp. It’s a delicious city, one of its many, many charms.
Charleston South Carolina, a perfect little package of southern charm tied pretty with a hospitality bow. Visit soon.
Please pin or share our blog to help us build our audience. Thank you!