Portland Maine is a vibrant harbor town with a creative spirit and a gritty, working class past. Access to some of the freshest seafood on the East Coast( including Maine’s succulent lobster) and scores of small scale farms and artisan food producers has attracted a new wave of forward-thinking chefs eager to showcase some of Maine’s best culinary offerings. Recently named the “Foodiest small town in America” by none other than Bon Appetit magazine I knew I had to sample some of Portland’s goodies for myself but I was only stopping in the city for one day. Maine Foodie Tours to the rescue!
Acadia National Park is the crown jewel of America’s east coast and it’s rugged beauty attracts millions of visitors every year. Granite peaks give way to pine covered forests that transition into dramatic cliffs and rock strewn shores, the surrounding bays dotted with emerald green islands are the picture of tranquility. Bar Harbor, located on Mount Dessert Island in northeastern Maine, is a bustling tourist town that serves as the gateway for Acadia and can be quite crowded during the summer or whenever a cruise ship pulls into town but you’re never less than thirty minutes from finding solitude once you veer from the well worn tourist paths. The park occupies not only a good swath of Mount Desert Island but also parts of the nearby Schoodic Peninsula, and the more remote Baker Island and Isle de Haut. Mount Dessert Island served as a summer getaway for the well heeled in the mid 1800’s transforming the once sleepy island of farmers and fisherman into a popular tourist destination. Charles W. Eliot and George B. Dorr were instrumental in preservation efforts that eventually led to Acadia becoming the first national park east of the Mississippi River in 1919 and John D. Rockefeller Jr. helped created the park’s 45 mile carriage road system, originally designed to navigate parts of the island by horse drawn carriage that now serves as popular hiking and cycling trails.
Summertime in coastal Maine evokes images of searching for the perfect lobster roll, exploring tide pools along the rock strewn beaches and sailing among bays and summer isles. Verdant hills tumble into the deep blue of the Atlantic forming over 3,000 miles of rocky coastline and to properly experience it you must take to the water. On a gorgeous 75 degree day filled with sunshine and gentle breezes we made our way down to Camden’s postcard worthy harbor to sort out our seafaring options. Kayak? Not a great option for us this time with Steve’s mom in tow. Motorized catamaran? Eh, not feeling it. A four-sailed, beautifully restored historic schooner? Now we’re talking.
Kenai Fjords National Park features the best of Alaska’s natural beauty within its rugged expanse. Located at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula the park is crowned by the Harding Icefield which gives rise to 38 glaciers that carve out bowl-shaped, forested valleys on one side and slowly crash into the bays feeding the Gulf of Alaska on the other. You’ll need at least two days to get a taste of what this diverse area has to offer.
The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium is a unique addition to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Located a short drive from the popular Oceanfront resort area the Adventure Park is an aerial ropes course with over 170 platforms and a variety of of “elements” including bridges, obstacles and zip lines that offer up adventure with a bird’s eye view.
The independent spirit that exists in historic Alexandria, Virginia has inspired some of the nation’s top chefs and food purveyors. Strolling down the cobblestone streets I found myself tempted by the charming cafes and creative restaurants housed among 18th and 19th century architecture. Whether your looking for revolutionary dining or a meal rooted in tradition your taste buds are sure to be happy in Alexandria.
A weekend spent exploring the charming cobblestone streets of Alexandria, Virginia calls for an equally stylish hotel and Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria is the perfect compliment to Old Town’s independent spirit. Located near Market Square the Monaco is convenient for exploring Alexandria’s historic sights or the scores of independent boutiques, galleries and restaurants throughout Old Town. Entering the hotel transports you into the a world of whimsical style, the peacock hued lobby looks like the living room of your coolest bohemian friend and the plush green sofas create an inviting space to enjoy your morning coffee or the complimentary wine social. Being a Kimpton, the Hotel Monaco offers a lot of fun forward thinking services and amenities such as complimentary use of bikes, in room yoga mats and “dive-in” movie nights in their indoor heated pool.If you’re travelling with your four-legged friends the Monaco is pet friendly and even offers doggy happy hour where guests and locals can mingle with their canine companions. Unable to bring Fluffy this trip?The Monaco will provide you with a complimentary goldfish to keep you company.
I recently took a trip to Tampa to visit family and have some fun with my 8 year old niece. She loves animals and there is no shortage of wild life attractions throughout central Florida. I wanted something a little more up close and personal than some of the major theme parks so we decided to try out the Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. Located on the Green Swamp between Orlando and Tampa, this rural swath of Florida is known for farming, particularly strawberries and beef cattle. There are also large areas of protected land as the Green Swamp sits over the aquifer that provides central Florida with its fresh water.
After an unusually cold and snowy winter it was the end of February before we finally had some sun. A day trip would be the antidote to my cabin fever and the Outer Banks, being only a 90 minute drive away, would be a perfect destination. I love wildlife experiences and have traveled as far as Alaska and Costa Rica but only recently have I started to find out more about the fauna in my own backyard. With this in mind I went in search of the Outer Bank’s most famous residents, the wild horses. Known as “Banker Ponies”, these small shaggy horses have been a fixture on the islands for nearly 500 years. They’re thought to be descended from Spanish mustangs that survived shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Other theories posit that the horses were survivors of failed English settlements in North Carolina.
I don’t often travel for business but when a recent conference brought me to Atlanta I jumped at the chance to stay at the InterContinental. Located by a 5 minute walk to the MARTA in the upscale Buckhead area of Atlanta the InterContinental is convenient to some of Atlanta’s top restaurants and a quick train ride to downtown. After a seamless check in I headed upstairs to my corner suite. The spacious room was decorated in a tasteful palette of neutrals highlighted with pops of orange and the curtains revealed a great view of Georgia’s monolithic Stone Mountain.As you would expect in a hotel of this caliber the bedding was plush and luxurious. I liked the pillows so much I checked to see what brand they were so I could get some for home! The bathroom also didn’t disappoint with a huge soaking tub, glass steam shower, plenty of counter space and marble throughout.