Whale Watching in Virginia Beach

“Whale watching in Virginia Beach?”

The looks from my friends were incredulous as I told them about my experience whale watching a few years ago. Every winter, from December to March, several pods of humpback whales migrate from their summer homes of the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia and spend the winter months feeding in the rich waters where the Chesapeake Bay opens into the Atlantic Ocean. Whale sightings have been plentiful and frequent the past few years but despite this,  one of Virginia’s greatest winter experiences remains a secret even to many locals. On a clear but chilly January weekend I brought my friends down to the Virginia Aquarium for a winter wildlife boat trip so they could see the whales for themselves.

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A Winter Weekend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

“Four score and seven years ago……..”

This famous speech from Abraham Lincoln is the introduction to Gettysburg most of us get in elementary school. Lincoln’s speech and the events that inspired them also inspire many people to visit this area of southern Pennsylvania. With a year round population of only 7,000 people Gettysburg has a staggering 4 million visitors a year with the bulk of them coming in the spring and summer. Winter? Well, that’s another story. On a quick weekend trip in January we practically had Gettysburg to ourselves. No traffic clogging the bucolic country roads and no fighting the crowds at the monuments. A weekend is just long enough to get a taste of Gettysburg, with one day focused on Gettysburg’s past and one day focused on Gettysburg’s present.

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A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.com

A Day of Learning at Big Cat Rescue

Every year during the holidays we head south to Florida, to sunny Tampa where we get to celebrate Christmas with Steve’s family with palm trees and 80 degree weather replacing pine trees and snow. Of course one of my favorite parts of our yearly Florida trip is spending time with my niece Morgan, a super fun kid who is growing up far too fast for my liking. When it came time for our girls’ day adventure we had tons of options, after all Tampa is famous for its white sand beaches and theme parks. This year, our choice was completely up to Morgan and she had one place in mind-Big Cat Rescue.

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Where to Travel in 2017- Top Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite Destinations www.casualtravelist.com

Where to Travel in 2017- Top Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite Destinations

If you’re anything like me as soon as the fireworks and celebrations of New Year’s end the search for where to go in the coming year begins. I reached out to the travel blogging community for their suggestions on the top destinations for 2017 and the response was overwhelming. The 34 destinations on this year’s list span the globe; from Antarctica to the Azores, Fiji to Finland, Malawi to Mongolia these places will surely inspire your wanderlust. Without further ado, here is where to travel in 2017. Read More

The Casual Travelist Turns 3-Yet Another Year of Adventure Near and Afar

As we all celebrate the start of a new year January 1 also marks the anniversary of when I first hit publish here at the Casual Travelist. I started writing three years ago as part of the healing process after my Mom passed away from early-onset Alzheimer’s and every day I’m amazed and grateful for all of you that have chosen to stop by my little corner of the internet. The past three years have been filled with opportunities and adventures that I couldn’t have imagined when I started writing but what I cherish the most is all of the new friends, both in person and online, that I’ve made along the way. You guys really are the best.

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My Best Travel Moments of 2016

If you’re like me right about now you’re wondering just how the past year flew by so fast. I managed to make my goal of traveling at least once a month over the past year,all while working full time. Three countries, seven states and a whole lot of exploring Virginia provided a year’s worth of adventure. Without further ado, here are my best travel moments of 2016.

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15 Instagram Travel Accounts to Inspire Your Wanderlust

Unique Gifts for the Traveler on Your List www.casualtravelist.com

Unique Gifts for the Traveler on Your List

The holiday season has rolled around again and figuring out what to get the travel savvy jet-setter on your list can be a bit daunting. I’ve combed the internet to find gifts that will inspire your wanderlust, brighten up your home or make travel a bit easier.  My gift guide features gifts that are sure to delight any traveler in your life, but no one would blame you if you got a little something for yourself (because you certainly deserve it!).

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A few things I'm thankful for this year www.casualtravelist.com

A Few Things I’m Thankful For This Year

I can’t believe how fast 2016 has flown by, as I write this thoughts of turkey and pumpkin pie dance in my head and visions of Christmas sales flash across my TV screen. Tensions still run high from one of the most contentious election seasons in history, but despite the doom that pops up in my news feed there is a lot that’s good and right in the world. I choose to focus on the positive and this year has generally been a good one for me. Here are a few things I’m thankful for this year.

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I went to Mexico and Didn’t get Sick, Attacked or Kidnapped-Here’s What Happened Instead

When I was planning my recent trip to Mexico I was excited. It was my first trip to the country, and rather than head to a luxury resort I wanted this trip to be about the culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love a luxury resort as much as the next person (as you can see here and here), but the Mexico I wanted this time didn’t involve palapas or infinity pools. A few days at an immersive cooking school in the small mountain town of Tepoztlan, with mornings spent walking through town to the market to gather the ingredients for dinner that night all within view of dramatic limestone cliffs capped with the ruins of an Aztec pyramid; followed by the frenetic mix of modern and historic in Mexico City would be my introduction to Mexico. When I announced my travel plans to friends and family I was a bit taken aback, more than any other place I have visited I was deluged with warnings and questions about my safety.

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