Washington, DC – an afternoon visit

I had the opportunity to travel to DC for business, but didn’t want to take a 6 am flight departing flight on Monday, so I went a day early and visited Washington, DC.  Years ago I visited most of the museums which are fantastic, but this time I wanted to see something different and started by finding this interesting historical hotel with a roof top venue overlooking the city, near the river and within walking distance of the White House.

GEORGETOWN WATERFRONT PARK

I was surprised to find such an active waterfront on a Sunday afternoon in August at the Potomac River: boats, yachts, people kayaking, picnicking,  visiting restaurants and enjoying a gorgeous day.  The setting was perfect for relaxation and due to arriving early, my room wasn’t ready so I spent time exploring; the boardwalk was a nice place to be.

THE WATERGATE HOTEL

The hotel had a $200 million renovation in 2016 and features:  fine and casual dining, The Next Whiskey Bar, a rooftop bar and lounge with 360 degree views of the Georgetown Waterfront and the National Monument, spa and fitness center, indoor pool, plus meeting rooms.  Some photos I took during my stay.

Historically speaking the Watergate hotel was “the” place for models, actors, supreme court justices and congressmen and the architectural design caused a bit of turmoil as well given the traditional neoclassical design of most buildings in Washington, DC.  It original opened in 1967.  In 1972, President Nixon’s time, it became tied to the Watergate Scandel when men broke into the DNC headquarters located at the Watergate Office and they stayed in rooms from the Watergate Hotel.

THE RIVER

I decided to do the tourist thing and take a cruise to see various historical sites along the Potomac River from Washington DC to Alexandria, VA.

THE WHITE HOUSE

I walked to the White House and found an artistic party atmosphere just outside with watchful guards and police surrounding.

For an afternoon, there was plenty to do!

Green Bay Packers!

Traveling to Green Bay, Wisconsin wasn’t in my personal future travel plans, but this destination was all about my son! He has been an Aaron Rodgersfan every since he could talk about football, so much in fact that recently I over heard him working on his Spanish homework where he prepared an abbreviated bio in Spanish on Aaron Rodgers! Needless to say, as a mom, I knew this was a “must do” trip at some point in life over the years, but wanted to make sure he was old enough to really enjoy it.  So we planned it for November 2017: Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens (Even though Michael Oehr was no longer on the Raven’s team, we watched Blind Side so many times over the years so it seemed to be a good one to attend.) And unfortunately we bought our tickets before Aaron Rodgers’ injury, so he wasn’t playing in this game.

AIRPORT ARRIVAL

As soon as we arrived in Green Bay; there were Packers jerseys and jackets on fans it seemed everywhere:  people arriving from different flights, the rental car agency staff, and of course all over the airport you could buy Packers paraphernalia.  We rented a car and drove 2 hours to get to our hotel.  Booking one online, and never having been to Green Bay, I was hoping that the hotel would be okay!

THE HOTEL

We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Green Bay (Suamico, WI) and it definitely fit our needs, traveling with a 14 year old:  comfortable accommodations, a pool, nearby amenities.  The cookies and breakfast were enjoyed!  The hotel adjoins a retail center with a grocery store (it appeared) a bowling alley/sports bar: The Gutter and it was only 12 minutes from Lambeau field.  I see that they have a shuttle, but we drove to the game.

We arrived at the hotel and got ready for dinner.  I learned of this restaurant from Aaron Rodger’s Instagram account @aaronrodgers12, once he gave away tickets to the fan who could name his favorite restaurant in Green Bay, so we had to go there:  Chives Restaurant in Suamico, WI, the food was excellent and I probably never would have found this place on my own; it’s somewhat off the beaten path and a small restaurant. We enjoyed dinner that night!

GAME DAY- GREEN BAY PACKERS

Sometimes a picture…or a video is worth a thousand words! There is no better way to describe this experience!

LAMBEAU FIELD STORIES

Since this was our first visit, we were given some history about the stadium:  it was built in 1919 among cornfields, and everything we see today was built around it.  The original structure is the concrete structure with bleacher seats that remains today, then a steel and brick structure was built around it.  The Pro Shop is unbelievable in size, something I would have expected to see in New York, by scale.  It has everything for Packer Fans that you could imagine, we could have spent hours there honestly!  I’ve never seen so many people at a game; the attendance that day was around 78,000 people!

Even the bridge structure where we exited from the highway had Green Bay Packers logos  built into it and football scene/depictions in stone under the bridge.

Gradually the older buildings have been purchased by the Packers for additional parking.  There is a micro brewery adjacent to the stadium, the Lodge Kohler hotel (this would be the ultimate place to stay) and Bellin Health’s orthopedic center is adjacent to the stadium.  There was a new sledding hill for kids that was to open two weeks after we were there, it was grass at the time, but would soon be snow packed!

The homes across the street from Lambeau field have been purchased for “game day party centers” and a couple were recently torn down with new buildings built:  one was reported to be $1.5 million and the other $2 million, so quite a bit of continued investment is occurring.

It was a lively party everywhere we looked, such a fun day.  And it helped on that 28 degree day, that felt like 15 degrees to have bright sunshine!  So thankful for that!

We arrived at 10 am for a noon game, but we should have probably arrived at 8 am; the line to the newly opened Johnsonville Tailgate Village was too long for us.

After attending, I have to say that EVERY football fan should experience Green Bay; it was an incredible, like no other football game I ever attended; we want to go back!  Green Bay @packers fans are like none other!

Banner Elk, NC

An incredible find:  The Lodges at Eagles Nest , one I found on Instagram, believe it or not, and bookmarked the site back in the Spring of 2017, wanting to go there someday (eventually).  Little did I know that my daughter would have an interest in visiting the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this summer (June 2017) for college, so it didn’t take long to determine how we could add this stop along the way! It was 3 hours from UNC, and we were planning on driving so this was along the way,  highly recommended place to visit; I’d like to go back and stay longer!  If you haven’t been to the city of Banner Elk, North Carolina before, but you love log cabins, fresh water trout, streams and mountains…this needs to be on your travel list!

The drive through Tennessee heading to North Carolina was so scenic even on the highway, then once in the mountains, it was truly serene, surrounded by mountainside greenery, cool temps and we hit some fog too.

Of course we also had to make a stop in another favorite city: Nashville, Tennessee for a couple overnights on the way too and from and visited FGL House!

Here are some photos taken at the Lodges at Eagles Nest:

Banner Elk Lodge 1 (1)

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Early October in Breckenridge, CO

Seeing fall foliage in Colorado was finally a possibility this past September/Early October 2017!  The primary goal was hiking among some of my favorite trees with their white trunks and golden leaves: the Aspens.  This year, the timing worked out just right, thankfully.  I’ve been to Denver, Colorado Springs, Morrison, Eldorado Springs and Beaver Creek but this was a first trip to Breckenridge, Colorado; I absolutely loved it and will return!

Traveling is a favorite pastime of mine so I usually put quite a bit of effort into researching places before committing to going somewhere.   Sometimes the places don’t meet expectations, but other times, they end up even better than expected. This visit was one of those times, so I’m sharing what we did and hoping it’s helpful to you in planning a trip to Breckenridge, Colorado in the near future.  The lodging and location was the only  thing I researched, but what we did while we were there, just happened along the way, after talking with people and using the All Trails and  Bands in Town Apps.  I never like to be too structured, it’s more fun to “go with the flow.”

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed at the Grand Timber Lodge and loved everything about it! The location was excellent: we were within walking distance of Downtown Breck, with shops, restaurants, and live music entertainment!  Free Shuttles were also provided to the Downtown area and several nearby attractions.  The hiking trails could also be found within walking distance from the lodge (we didn’t use the car during our stay).  Speaking of the car, it was nice having a heated underground parking garage, especially when it snowed during our stay.  There was an onsite restaurantLodgepole Bar and Grill, multiple hot tubs and pools throughout the property, an onsite spa, game room, fresh baked cookies and complimentary coffee. We loved having operable windows in the suite we had for fresh air.

ENTERTAINMENT

Shops: You will find any outdoor clothing you could possibly need at the numerous shops in Breck.  We stopped by a family owned shop called Olive Fusion, and ended up ordering various flavored olive oils, shipping them home.  It is a cute family run store with nice items for gifts.

Nearby HikeBurro Trail in the Arapahoe National Forest:  we used Google Maps to get there, but once we got to the point where we were supposed to find the trail-head, we didn’t see it!  So we asked some nearby workers and found the trail-head just on the other side of the ski lift path and it was marked, just not extremely visible.  Along the hike were streams, tall pines and patches of Aspens; it was gorgeous.  We had plans to do more hiking during this visit, but it rained one day and snowed unexpectedly and we weren’t prepared for that, so on to plan B.

Food and Drinks:  There are so many interesting restaurants to visit in downtown Breckenridge,  with beautiful scenery, we didn’t stay long enough to visit very many, but the ones we did visit we enjoyed!

The Canten-Tap House and Tavern: This was a perfect first stop for us, of course we had to order the famous Colorado Moscow Mule along with an appetizer, but we had no idea the appetizer could feed about 6 people!  The Moscow Mule was served in a canteen mug, not the usual copper mug, and one was plenty! Maybe it was the elevation, but wow!

Kenosha Steakhouse:  This place was great with its over-sized outdoor deck, excellent food and entertaining staff who let us know where the locals go for entertainment.

Bangkok Happy Bowl Thai Bistro and Sushi was an excellent choice for dinner one night.

Broken Compass Brewery:  We took the shuttle from the Grand Timber Lodge; this was a nice way to end the late afternoon after a long hike.  We decided to try the beer flight, and it was hard to choose a favorite for me.  The laid back atmosphere with the garage door opened, music playing and filled with Patrons and their dogs was so relaxing.

Breckenridge Distillery:  This was a good way to spend a rainy day, we wished we would have paid attention to the hours the restaurant was open because they are known for excellent food, but the day we visited the restaurant was closed, so we sampled their featured vodka and bourbon. We were also able to take a free shuttle to this location which was great!

Columbine Cafe was what we craved after trudging through the newly fallen deep snow: a big hearty breakfast and this food definitely hit the spot!

Nightlife: Live music was our destination, and we certainly found it…EVERYWHERE!  Sometimes it’s hard to find live music, but that was not the situation in Breckenridge; it reminded me of Nashville!

The Historic Brown is a MUST if you like live music and a place with history!

Something I don’t see all the time, but in Breckenridge you might:  Moose Crossing the street in downtown

The Motherloaded Tavern was another fun place to visit for live music.

The Gold Pan Saloon had a late night DJ; there is something about the excitement of a new place on that first night that just gives me extra energy, and we certainly used up the energy here, shutting the place down and dancing.

Blue Stag Saloon was our last night out and such a cozy Colorado venue for drinks, dinner and live music!  While we were there, we were entertained by Michael Bauer, an excellent photographer and adventure seeker, who shared a crazy rafting story; check out his work on Facebook!

This was such a fun weekend trip, I’m ready to back right now!  We started out with beautiful fall vistas and ended with snowcovered landscaping!  By the way, often we are so excited about getting to our destination that we end up passing phenomenal sites along the way.  Between the Airport and Breckenridge, here are a couple of those places (and the reason we took a red eye flight back home!):

Dillon Lake

Grand Lake Colorado

A Mountainside Drive

Train passing through the Mountains along side a scenic overlook on the highway heading back to Denver.

Breckenridge is a highly recommended fun town to visit, even during “mud season” when we were there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to do in the Lou?

“The Lou” meaning: St. Louis, MO.

I’m a St. Louis native who doesn’t experience boredom because there are so may things to do!  Always having something fun on the calendar definitely keeps me motivated, so I’m continually looking for NEW things to do as well as keeping track of enjoyable annual events, and now I’m sharing them with you.  I intend to periodically update this post with Events and Activities as an evolving page, so if you check back at a later date, there will likely be new events added as time continues and I visit more places!

The types of Events and Activities you will find here are:  Comedy, Cultural Activities, Entertaining Kids, Fitness, Music, Neighborhoods, Outdoors,  Restaurants, Seasonal Events, Sports, Weekend Road Trip Ideas, Wineries based on places I’ve been, along with links to informational sites all centering around the St. Louis area.

Below each subject are website links to the venues or activities providing the most current information:

COMEDY

St. Louis Funny Bone, Playhouse @ WestportPeabody Opera House

St. Louis

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES/ART/HISTORY

Visit the Arch, St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, The Muny, The Rep St. Louis, The Fox Theatre, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Lemp Mansion, Demenil Mansion, Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour, Peabody Opera House

DIGITAL CAMERAENTERTAINING KIDS

Magic House, St. Louis Zoo, Grants Farm, Eckert’s, Incredible Pizza, Six Flags, St. Louis County Parks and Recreation, Purina Farms, City Museum, Ted Drewes, St. Louis Science Center, Swing Around Fun Town, Chesterfield Sports Fusion, Flying SpiderBounceU, Pole Position, Pump It UP, Skyzone, Chesterfield YMCA (summer camps), Steinberg Skating Rink,  Challenger Learning CenterGirl Scouts of Eastern MO, Shaw Nature Reserve, Dixie Stampede (Branson- 4hr drive),

FITNESS

Hiking, Battlegrounds Mud Run, Tough Mudder, Various Organized Runs, St. Patrick’s Day Run

LIVE MUSIC

Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village, Tin Roof St. Louis, Sky Music Lounge, The Pageant, Delmar Hall, Scottrade Center, The Blue Note (Columbia, MO), Old Rock House, Broadway Oyster Bar, Stovall’s (country music)Peabody Opera House

NEIGHBORHOODS

Soulard, Central West End, The Hill, The Loop, Clayton

OUTDOORS

Patio DiningThe Bull Float Trip (Annual Event), Meramec Caverns, Twin Rivers Landing Campgrounds,  St. Louis County Campgrounds
CieloRESTAURANTS

Outdoor/Patio Dining, New Restaurants Italian Restaurants,  Fireplace Dining, St. Louis Food and Drink Events, St. Louis Dining (Riverfront Times)

SEASONAL EVENTS

Mardis Gras in Soulard, St. Patrick’s Day Run and Parade, Purina Farms Easter Village and Haunted Hay loft, Fourth of July or Fall at Big Cedar Lodge, Historic Kimmswick Apple Butter and Christmas Festival, Lantern Festival, Winter Wonderland at Tillis Park, Historic St. Charles Christmas

Lemp Brewery Scarefest

Busch StadiumSPORTS

St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, St. Louis Blues Hockey, St. Louis Ambush SoccerMizzou College Football, Kansas City Chiefs Football

WEEKEND ROAD TRIP IDEAS

Kansas City, MO (approx. 3.5 hrs) Silver Dollar City Theme Park (approx 4 hrs),  Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO (approx 4 hours), Lake of the Ozarks (approx 2.5 hrs) , Springfield MO (approx. 3.5 hrs), Memphis TN (slightly over 4 hours), Nashville, TN (approx 5 hours), Chicago, IL (approx 5 hours)

Cedar Lake CellarsWINERIES

St. Charles area along 94:  Augusta Winery, Montelle Winery, Mt. Pleasant Winery, Chandler Hill Winery

Cedar Lake Cellars (about 45 from St. Louis)

Herman, MO – winery town (about 1 hour from St. Louis)

I hope you find this helpful and welcome any feedback or suggestions regarding places to visit! Happy Exploring!

 

 

Nashville “Secrets”

Nashville is one of my favorite cities to visit.  In the past year, I visited 3 times just for fun: my first ever visit to Nashville was a spontaneous road trip with girl friends following the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016, the second was with girl friends during the CMA Fest in June 2017 and the third was with my daughter sharing a glimpse of  the Nashville experience during a college road trip in June 2017. Each visit I experienced something different and will definitely be back again!  If you haven’t been to Nashville, I’ll share the highlights of our experiences and places you may want to visit the next time you’re in Nashville.

MUSIC

Music is the soul of Nashville: the foundation and almost 24/7 celebration, and definitely was the reason I was interested in visiting!  So if you love country music; Nashville is a must!  It seems live music is playing all day and all night long.  (Some tips: during the day, at least when I visited, under 21 year olds can visit to eat and see the music at various establishments, but in the evening, people need to be over 21 years old.  Also, there is no cover charge at the door to see the bands, but bring cash to donate to the bands performing, they usually have a collection area by the stage.)

BROADWAY

Some of the fun places we visited on Broadway were:  Tootsies, Tin Roof, Crazy Town, Honky Tonk CentralThe Stage:  all of these featured live bands, are multi-level (with multiple live bands) have food and beverages and were places I visited each time because they were so much fun.    I haven’t checked all of them, but Tootsies, Crazy Town and the Stage all have outdoor rooftop entertainment too; it’s so nice on a beautiful day or night!

DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE

If you are interested in music history, stop by the Country Music Hall of Fame, we were told most people spend about 3 hours visiting.  We had a short window of opportunity and made it through in about 45 minutes!

2017/2018 NEW PLACES

During the CMA Fest, we decided to check out (Florida Georgia Line’s) FGL’s new restaurant, but that was virtually impossible  to get in because the line was well over a block long, but we had much better success getting in later in the month traveling through Nashville.  Very cool place, also multi-level with a rooftop bar!

In 2018, when it opens, we plan to visit Blake Shelton’s new restaurant, Ole Red, which is just slightly down the street from FGL’s.  (Blake Shelton has another location which already opened in 2017 in his hometown of Tishomingo, OK)

THE DISTRICT

On my second trip, we ventured a little further east on Broadway and found this place; I love the tree lined streets and historic brick buildings!  My favorite place here was the Wildhorse Saloon.  We stopped in for lunch and happened to see Sandra Lynn performing, she was great and just recently launched “Hey California.”  There is also a great boot shop on this street, you can smell the leather as you walk by in the summer.  One evening we were able to catch Doug McCormick at the Wildhorse Saloon.

THE “SECRET”

The evening before we left for Nashville, I found an online article written about Sofar Sounds, this company was started by two men who loved music but preferred an intimate setting/venue experience, and since there aren’t that many out there, they created this concept.  I was intrigued by this and saw that there was a “secret concert” happening in Nashville during our visit, so of course I had to check it out! I signed up and paid for the event without knowing who we were going to see or where it was going to be (it ended up being at Warner Brothers Studio) , it was an excellent surprise experience!  We saw Morgan Evans, a “new” artist from Australia, and absolutely LOVED his music.  We all believe he is going to be a headlining artist very soon.  Ironically later this summer, while I was attending Kelsea Ballerini’s concert I found out she is the one he is engaged to and was speaking of when he talked about “this amazing girl” he met after moving to the US on that concert day in Nashville.  She happens to be another favorite Country Music artist of mine, so happy for them!

MUSIC ROW/ 19TH AND BROADWAY

This is another area that you should check out!

THE LISTENING ROOM

This venue has moved since June 2017, I know from following them on Instagram, but this was an excellent experience too. I found this place after checking out my BandsinTown app for bands playing that day, Brennin was recommended from other artists music I have downloaded on iTunes, so we went to see him at the Listening Room Cafe and, once again, I didn’t even know that Smithfield was going to be there, and was surprised again. I love their music and we heard a new one, co-written with Brennin:  GoneEmily West has the most amazing voice and such a humorous person, this was our first introduction to her.  The music and their discussion really made for a humorous and enjoyable night of entertainment with food and drinks in a small venue.  I’ll definitely visit the new location in the future!

I hope you find these tips helpful but if you are a Nashville regular, or live there, please let me know other places we should visit in the future!