Travel, United States

West Texas Photo Essay

July 24, 2017

West Texas

Last weekend, I took a quick road trip with my Dad to Lubbock, Texas to visit a friend. On the way back, my Dad was patient enough to stop on the highway and make U-turns for me to take photos of the West Texas landscape. Dodging tumbleweeds and washing the red dirt off your car is usually the norm for a trip west, but an unusual amount of rain as brought desert plants into bloom and the red soil is hardly visible. I hope you enjoy this photo essay of the West Texas landscape.

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

Travel, United States

5 Great Things to do in Branson, Missouri

July 17, 2017

Branson, Missouri

Branson has been called the Vegas of the Midwest, but no gambling. However, it has so much to offer everyone. Here are five great things to do in Branson, Missouri.

1. Silver Dollar City

Branson, MissouriPhoto courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism

Going to Silver Dollar City was one of the highlights of going to Branson as a child even though I am not a big theme park rider. The park has more of a historic feel than most theme parks and has many things to do besides go on rides including Marvel Cave. My young nieces couldn’t wait to go when we were there.

2. Showboat Branson Belle

Branson, Missouri

Get dinner, a show and a cruise all rolled into one on a paddle boat. The paddle boat cruise takes you on a cruise around Table Rock Lake. Dinner is brought around while a host tells jokes and does magic tricks. Then you are given time to explore the decks. An announcement tells you when it is time to return to watch the show. Singing, dancing, and some of the best tap dancing I have ever seen were on display during the show. While the show goes on the boat turns and docks right back where you started.

Branson, Missouri

3. See a Show

This is where the Vegas comes in. There are so many shows in Branson, you make have to stay for months to see them all. Many of the acts from America’s Got Talent now are in shows in Branson. Many of the acts are singing acts, but there are also comedy and animal shows. Celebrities also sometimes have short stints in Branson.

4. Table Rock Lake

Branson, Missouri

While this is technically a reservoir and not a natural lake, it is large there are tons of things to do there. You can go boating, go fishing, rent a jet ski, parasail, kayak and there are campgrounds nearby if you enjoy camping. If camping isn’t your thing, there is a luxury hotel on the lake, Chateau on the Lake. It also has a spa!

5. See Butterflies

Branson, Missouri

This is how much I love the Butterfly Palace in Branson, I have mentioned it two weeks in a row. Butterfly Palace is a treat for both kids and adults. Wander through and observe butterflies eating and flying around and if you get lucky, they might land on you!

Have you been to Branson, Missouri? What is your favorite thing to see there?

Travel, United States

Butterfly Palace Photo Essay

July 10, 2017

Butterfly Palace

Every year, my family holds a family reunion and most years it is held in Branson, Missouri. Branson has tons of shows and other activities to do. My favorite thing is to go to the Butterfly Palace.  The facility does not breed butterflies. It just houses them and you are given strict instructions on how to behave and you are inspected on the way out to make sure the butterflies aren’t trying to escape. Hope you enjoy this butterfly photo essay.

Butterfly Palace

Butterly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

Butterfly Palace

 

North America, Travel, United States

Historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas

July 3, 2017

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs brings back memories of my childhood walking the streets with my parents and grandparents, eating saltwater taffy and a hotel cat. Over the weekend, I got to walk down those streets again.

The town of Eureka Springs is nestled in the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas. It has been a tourist destination since the before the town was founded in the 1880s. This was mainly due to the natural springs found in and around the town. Spa treatments are still a popular activity now.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Things to do

Shopping – Even I like shopping in Eureka Springs. In the past, there seemed to be more antique stores than there are now, but there are still some great stores. There are several clothing stores that sell a variety of things. On this trip, I picked up some jewelry, a linen dress, a kimono and a tank top. The prices are also a good range. If you love antiques, there are a few of those left. The kids will love the variety of candy stores, including one that makes saltwater taffy, Sweet Fudge’s Kitchen.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

Ghost Tours – The Basin Park Hotel is supposedly haunted and you can take a ghost tour in the evenings there. The Crescent Hotel, the large hotel on the top of the hill, also offers ghost tours. These tours are enhanced by the historic nature of the two hotels. The Crescent even has family friendly ghost tours at an earlier hour than the Basin.

Ride the Trolley – While technically this trolley is public transportation for getting around Eureka Springs, it is a great way to see the town without having to climb the hills. Which is really great if you are staying up the hill at the Crescent! There are several routes. My youngest niece begged to go on it, so it is a great activity to take the littlest traveler on.

Tour the Historic Houses and Buildings –  At Christmas Time in Eureka Springs, you can go on tours inside the Victorian houses. However, you can still walk around the rest of the year and admire them from the outside. Some of them have great gardens and some are perched in awkward ways above streets. The town has so many historical markers, I couldn’t read them all! You could probably spend a whole day doing just this.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Get a Spa Treatment – There are several spas in town. Some are just massage places, though. My recommendations would be the spas at either the Basin Park Hotel or the Crescent Hotel. The Basin Park Hotel Spa is an Aveda salon and is located on the second floor of the hotel. Walk-ins are welcome. The Crescent Hotel spa is called the New Moon Spa and is located on the garden level.

Look at Art – There is an art scene is this tiny town. There are many galleries to explore that include painting, sculpture, and metalworks. There is some public art as well. Look for the painted staircase. This trip I noticed a collection of gnomes have popped up. I was also told of a new sculpture park out near the train station and if you touch the sculptures, they make sounds!

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Where to stay

Crescent Hotel – Built in 1886, the Crescent Hotel has had a curious past and has served as a girls college, a fake cancer hospital and had a cat as Hotel Manager. They have lots of room options including suites and cottages. Many rooms have jacuzzi tubs. Keep in mind that it has been claimed as the most haunted hotel in America!

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Basin Park Hotel – This is the hotel my parents love to stay in. However, I would only stay there because it is in the center of town and has a balcony restaurant. The rooms are not updated and they have giant furniture in them, which made them feel small. The bathroom had been updated and was nice.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Rent a cottage or stay in a B&B – There are several Victorian cottages you can rent and several that are Bed and Breakfasts. My parents stayed in one a long time ago and they loved it. Many of these are on the trolley routes, so you don’t have to worry about driving into the center of town and paying for parking.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Getting There

Most people drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The only thing to note about the drive is that Eureka Springs is located in the Ozark Mountains and the roads are winding. Several members of my family get carsick when we are getting close to Eureka. You can fly to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on American Airlines, Delta, United and Allegiant Air and then rent a car. It is an hours drive to Eureka.

Have you been to Eureka Springs, Arkansas? Tell us your favorite thing there.

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