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When we plan our long road trips, Kristin is always hoping for a chance to see some animals. She was super excited to learn that we’d be visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, during one of our road trips out west. We love a good aquarium, and Monterey Bay is one of the best in the country. This aquarium is right on the water, which makes a visit there all the better. It’s also on a road in town known as Cannery Row, an old sardine packing district. These details make Monterey Bay Aquarium a unique place to visit. Arriving at Monterey Bay Aquarium At the time of our visit, the aquarium was still operating on a reservation system due to reopening restrictions after Covid-19. We scheduled ahead of time to be sure to get an opening reservation so that we could explore some other attractions later in…

Yosemite Valley Lodge turned out to be the perfect place to relax on our trip. When planning our trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the first things we narrowed down was lodging. Since national park lodging can fill up early, it’s best to plan your trip a year out or more. And though I would’ve loved to stay at the flagship lodge, The Awahnee, it’s a little pricy. Since we were on a three-week road trip, we chose a more economical choice this time–Yosemite Valley Lodge. On this road trip, we’d already had several adventures that included four national parks–Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley. We’d also been to some great cities (and towns) in California–Lone Pine, Monterey, and San Francisco. Even after all those experiences, we still were awed by the sheer beauty of Yosemite. It’s like no other place we’ve seen. Arriving at Yosemite Valley…

Before we began planning a road trip that included a few days in Seattle, I’d never heard of San Juan Island. When I discussed our travel plans at work, a coworker suggested we add San Juan Island to our trip because her sister loved it so much. Well, my coworker’s sister was right! San Juan Island is an adorable place to visit with historic sites, whale-watching opportunities, and beautiful overlooks of the sea. Getting to San Juan Island From Seattle Since we didn’t initially plan to visit San Juan Island, we could only set aside one day for the side trip. To get to the island, you have to take a ferry or a plane.  We opted to go with the more popular and cost-effective option–taking the ferry from Anacortes. Since we’d never driven our car onto a ferry, this turned out to be an adventure unto itself. Anacortes, Washington,…

One spring day, my friend and I decided to make a day trip to Kansas City. Our two goals–The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and some delicious Kansas City barbecue. We set out in the morning from Joplin, Missouri, and we arrived in KC right in time for lunch. I’d never tried Gates Bar-B-Q, and my friend was game. It was on. Gates has several locations in the Kansas City metro area. I’d never seen the 18th and Vine Jazz District, so we punched the location nearest to that area into Google Maps. We walked around the historic area, vowing to return when we could really explore and visit the jazz museum.  In the meantime, the murals were lovely. Street art is such a cool addition to any city. After walking around the area, we were ready to eat. After a short drive, we arrived at the Brooklyn Avenue location. History…

If you’re driving along Route 66 in Oklahoma, be sure to put the historic Coleman Theater on your list of stops. We had the opportunity to tour this gorgeous theater last spring as part of a paranormal conference and ghost tour. The Coleman Theater still hosts shows and touring acts regularly, but if you’re in the area when nothing is scheduled, be sure to give them a call to see if you can arrange a tour. Or, if you’re lucky, if you stop by during typical business hours, you may just score a tour if someone is available. So don’t think you won’t be able to see the inside of this magnificent theater if you didn’t plan ahead. Check it out. And if you’re on the fence about whether you should stop during your Route 66 adventure. read on. You’ll discover why the Coleman Theater is a highlight of Route…

One of the best things about driving along Route 66 is stopping at all the quirky, historic stops along the way, and Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, fits this description perfectly. Who can resist the challenge of the place–finishing a 72-ounce steak and all the fixings in one hour and getting the meal for free? Turns out, we could resist, but that didn’t stop our family from stopping for lunch on a road trip out west. And let me tell you, the smaller steaks are delicious. Even if you’re not hungry, this place is worth a stop to check out the decor and roadside fun. The Big Texan Steak Ranch and Route 66 The original location of The Big Texan Steak Ranch opened in 1960 along Route 66. When I-40 opened, the location was moved, though it’s worth noting that I-40 mostly runs along Route 66, often parallel…

You may find this hard to believe, but the Lodge at Bryce Canyon is my favorite national park lodge. We’ve even stayed at Old Faithful Inn. On my birthday. While sleeping in Old Faithful Inn is one of my favorite travel experiences, there’s something special about the Lodge at Bryce Canyon. We didn’t stay in the main lodge; we had an adorable cabin a stroll away from the canyon’s edge. While we only stayed here one night, this experience will always hold a special place in my memories. One thing I’d like to mention early on in this post—make reservations early! When we booked Old Faithful Inn and Yosemite Valley Lodge, we made the reservation a year out. I know those are more popular, but don’t wait too long to book. It’s January as I write this post, and there are already dates in May and June without availability. Arriving…

I’ve been wanting to take the Brown Mansion Candlelit Christmas Tour at the Brown Mansion in Coffeyville, Kansas, for a few years now. This year, I got my chance. The Brown Mansion is a great place to visit any time of year, but it was extra magical at Christmastime. Still, if you aren’t in the area around Christmas, be sure to stop by and step back in time. Tours are available throughout the year, and I have done this tour a few times over the years. History of the Brown Mansion I spent some of my earliest years in Southeast Kansas as a young child. The Brown Mansion captured my imagination as a little girl. We’d drive into Coffeyville, and I’d see that enormous white house on the hill; it must’ve been built for royalty. Close. The Brown Mansion was built for a family that gets as close to royalty…

If you came of age in the 1990s and it’s along your route anyway, you stop at Kurt Cobain’s childhood home and the nearby memorial. You just do. On one of our summer road trips, we drove a segment of highway from Forks, Washington, to Astoria, Oregon, in a single day. When we realized we be going through Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain’s hometown, we thought to ourselves, why not? The house and small memorial park only take a few moments to see, and on a road trip like ours, you look for interesting places to stretch your legs. A Little About Aberdeen Aberdeen is a small town at the foot of the Olympic Peninsula. The main industry there is timber, and Kurt Cobain mentions this fact in the book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, saying that he wanted more from life. He wanted to create art, visual and…

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