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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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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One Great Weekend:What to do in Mexico City www.casualtravelist.com

One Great Weekend: What to do in Mexico City

A heady mix of traditional cultures and cosmopolitan buzz, there is no doubt that Mexico City is having a moment. A rich indigenous and Spanish colonial history, a vibrant arts scene and one of the most exciting culinary scenes on the planet, the allure of Mexico City is endless. As one of the world’s largest cities, it’s nearly impossible to ever fully know Mexico City but you can certainly get a taste of the Mexican capital in two days time. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Mexico City. Read More

A Taste of Mexico with La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacations www.casualtravelist.com

A Taste of Mexico with La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacations

It’s no secret that I travel to eat, I find that food is one of the best ways to experience a destination. For my first trip to Mexico I wanted to immerse myself in it’s cuisine, from vibrant salsas to smokey moles and everything in between, I wanted to experience Mexico’s diverse food culture on a deeper level. This is what led me to La Villa Bonita, a hands-on cooking school and boutique hacienda in Central Mexico’s highlands.

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10 Things to Do in Hampton, Virginia

I have a confession to make- I often fall into the trap of feeling like I need to jet off to some far flung destination to truly feel like I’ve traveled neglecting some hidden gems that are literally right under my nose. So when a friend told me I needed to check out Hampton, a mere 30 minutes from my home in Virginia Beach, I was intrigued. What I found was an under-the-radar town that has played a pivotal role in American history, and will find any reason to throw a party along with some seriously good eats. An easy drive from both Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Hampton is an easy addition to any Coastal Virginia vacation. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Hampton, Virginia. Read More

Primland Resort- A Luxury Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

When it comes to travel I’m a woman of varied tastes. Sometimes I’m looking for a romantic getaway with Steve, complete with a beautiful room and spectacular views. Sometimes it’s all about outdoors adventure, whether it’s days spent hiking with stunning vistas as my reward or a leisurely morning exploring the woods on horseback. Sometimes I’m looking for a bit of pampering with an afternoon at the spa followed by a five star meal. Once in a great while I’m lucky to find all of this in one destination, with a stunning location deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. This is Primland Resort.

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The Brewhouse Inn and Suites-Modern Luxury with a Nod to Milwaukee's Past

The Brewhouse Inn and Suites-Modern Luxury with a Nod to Milwaukee’s Past

It’s no secret that Milwaukee has always been a beer town, so on a recent visit I couldn’t pass up staying at a hotel that started out at as a brewery. But this wasn’t just any brewery, this was the Pabst brewery, at one time the biggest brewery in the world; and this wasn’t just any hotel, it was the Brewhouse Inn and Suites which turned out to be one of the most unique city hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

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Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Fredericksburg has long drawn visitors for its history; as the boyhood home to George Washington and host to several Civil War battlefields where Southern grit and Northern ideals clashed. If history and antique shops are your thing there’s still plenty of that here but the past few years have brought a renewed energy to this small town. I’d been hearing a lot about Fredericksburg so on a recent weekend I paid a visit to see what all the buzz was about.

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