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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

 

Travel, United States

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

May 29, 2017
8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota
I am very excited by this guest post. When I ask for guest posts, most people suggest non-US locations and that is great, but I was excited to get one from a place in the US and from a place I haven’t been to myself.

Duluth, Minnesota is a picturesque city settled on the banks of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior. From foodies to adventurists, Duluth has an array of activities and things to do. Whether it be summer or winter, visitors never run out of ways to spend their time here but if you need a few ideas, here are 8 ways to spend your time around the city of Duluth, Minnesota.

1. Overlook Duluth at Enger Tower

Atop Enger hill overlooking the beautiful city of Duluth stands Enger Tower, an 80-foot, five-story observation tower built in 1939. Enger Tower was built in dedication to Bert Enger, a native of Norway who came here to be a furniture seller. When he died, over half of his estate was donated to the city of Duluth – this included the areas of Enger Park, the Tower, and golf course.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, MinnesotaThis picture is from Wikipedia

2. Wander Canal Park

Canal Park in Duluth is visitors’ one-stop shop for everything gifts, food, lodging, things to do, events, and more. The area sits upon the shore of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, and used to be a warehouse district, which has been converted into a variety of restaurants, hotels, cafés, and shops.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

A few of Canal Park’s attractions include the Aerial Lift Bridge, a lighthouse pier, and a 4.2-mile-long lake walk. Additionally, visitors interested in boats can watch vessels from all over the world enter the bay near Duluth, going under the iconic lift bridge.

3. Check out the Aerial Lift Bridge

The most famous landmark in all of Duluth, the Aerial Lift Bridge was finished being built in 1905, making it over 100 years old and the oldest landmark in the city. The length of the bridge spans 386 feet, has a clearance of 180 feet, and weighs over 900 tons. There’s only one other bridge in the world similar to the Aerial Lift Bridge, which is located in Rouen, France. The bridge is operated 24 hours a day and during the busy season in spring or summer, the bridge lifts an average of 26 times per day.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

4. Waterfall Hunting in Congdon Park

Located in the middle of Duluth, burrowed between residential neighborhoods, Congdon Park can be explored by avid hikers, casual walkers, and families in search of fun. When descending into the park, it feels as though you’re entering a different world; surrounded by billion-year-old red volcanic rock, lush greens, thick mosses, and pulsing waterfalls – hiking in Congdon Park is anything but boring.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

“There is no combination of stream and hillsides, woodland, waterfall and canyon in or near any other American city that is capable of development for beauty and utility comparing with that lying on both sides of Tischer Creek,” wrote landscape engineer A.U. Morrell of New York City.

5. Explore Gooseberry Falls State Park

Known as the gateway to the North Shore and Lake Superior, Gooseberry Falls State Park is an area filled with beautiful waterfalls, an array of hiking trails, flourishing wildlife, and stunning foliage. As visitors wander around the park, the thunderous rumble of the water plummeting into the rocky gorges from the three largest of the falls can be heard from all around.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

To make the most out of your visit, make sure to stop in the visitor’s center to read up on the history of the park, find park information, watch park videos, view interpretive displays, and more. Also, summer is the best time to visit – but head to the park early, as it gets extremely busy!

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

6. View Split Rock Lighthouse

Considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States, Split Rock Lighthouse was completed in 1910 and is a National Historic Landmark; a beacon in northern Minnesota. The wreckage of multiple ships spurred the building of the lighthouse, which explorers can read all about in the visitor’s center. And after reading about the history of the lighthouse, visitors can hike the trails throughout the state park and wander down to the shoreline of Lake Superior.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

7. Marvel the Views at Palisade Head

This remarkable area shouldn’t be passed up if you have a vehicle and some time while in Duluth, Minnesota. Palisade Head is filled with heart-stopping cliffs, jagged rocks, awe-inspiring sights of Lake Superior, and picture-worthy viewpoints. Just don’t get too excited taking pictures of Lake Superior – which looks like the ocean from up here – or you might lose your footing and go falling off the edge!

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

8. Tour the Glensheen Mansion

Operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth as a museum, the 39-room Glensheen Mansion and the 7.6-acre estate was built by Chester Congdon on the banks of Lake Superior between 1905 and 1908. The mansion is perhaps most known for the “incident” that happened in 1977; Glensheen was the site of the murders of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, on June 27. For many years, tour guides were forbidden from talking about and answering questions related to the murders, but now they will answer questions at the end of the tour and there’s a book about the murders available for purchase in the gift shop.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

So, there you have it: 8 things to do around Duluth, Minnesota. Let me know – have you ever heard of Duluth? Or have you ever been here?

This is a guest blog post written by Sophie Anderson, founder of The Wanderful Me travel blog. She’s a clumsy traveler tripping her way around the world in search of mouthwatering vegan food and wild adventures. If you want to see what she’s up to, check out her blog or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter

Driving, Museums, United States

My First Solo Trip Experience

March 10, 2015
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The Breakers Mansion in Newport, RI – Photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz, Flickr

I was telling a story to a friend the other day about my trip to Rhode Island and I realized half way through the telling, that this was my first entirely solo trip. Of course, I had been on planes by myself and done road trips home from college, but this trip I had planned entirely by myself.

In the Fall of 1999, I moved to New York City to do an internship at Saks Fifth Avenue. Much of my free time was spent exploring New York City, but for my birthday, I wanted to do something different. I looked at weekend trips from the city and discovered Newport, Rhode Island and the “summer homes” of New York’s rich. Of course, I am talking old rich. These are the homes of the Astor’s, the Vanderbilt’s and the like. Unfortunately, my fellow fashion friends didn’t want to go or could get time off work. I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me and I went by myself. Not only did I go on my first solo trip, I also spent my birthday alone for the first time.

I rented a car. This was an entirely new process to me as well.  I had the internet, so I was able to book it online. I had decided that renting a hybrid was most cost efficient as it cost more up front, but fuel would be less. The only thing was I had never been in a hybrid at this point. When I picked up the Toyota Prius, I had no idea how to start it! It was one of the first push button cars. I had to get the rental company to show me how!

The drive up to Rhode Island was great! It was late October and the leaves had changed. I also love to take long drives. I did this frequently in Texas as college was 6 hours away from my parents house.  I also hadn’t driven since I moved to New York City in September and was glad to be in a car.

When I was planning the trip, I knew I wanted to stay in a bed and breakfast not a hotel. My Mom has instilled a love of bed and breakfasts in me from a young age. Thanks Mom! I chose a historic home on the outskirts of Newport. It had lovely views of the water and I had a beautiful room with an attached bath.  To be honest, I don’t remember if the food was good, it was too long ago. However, I do remember the owners being there and telling great stories about the house and rooms.

I love historic homes and going to see massive historic homes was right up my alley.  The mansions were stunning. Looking back, I they remind me of the house in Downton Abbey although more gilded. I saw as many as I could in the two days I was there. I had lovely weather and you could walk from mansion to mansion.

Since it was my birthday, I wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner.  This was my rookie mistake, although I still tend to make this mistake. I didn’t have a reservation anywhere and when I did get one it was for 9pm! I never eat this late, but this time I didn’t care. The waiter was surprised I was by myself and even more surprised when I told him it was my birthday. I had ordered dessert and knowing that I wouldn’t want the whole restaurant to know it was my birthday and I was alone, they didn’t come out and sing but wrote Happy Birthday in chocolate on the plate!

While I didn’t give it much thought at the time, I did pretty good for my first solo trip. Not only did I pick a great place to visit and got there and back with no issues, I also learned I liked traveling by myself and that I could do it and that was probably the most important thing!

 Link to original photo – I usually like to use my own photos in posts, but all these photos are in print format back in Texas!
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