Discovering the Hidden Charms of Indianapolis

Indiana’s state capital and largest city offers a world of sightseeing and dining options. As it’s home to the Indy 500 and multiple sports teams, that segment of tourism seems to get all of the attention. However, Indianapolis also has an up-and-coming food scene, and local breweries are popping up all around the region. As the birthplace of David Letterman, home to Frank Sinatra’s singing debut, and the site of the country’s best children’s museum, Indy is far more than it first seems. Here is a guide to Indianapolis and a look at this Midwestern city’s unique sights and flavors.

photo credit toledo589ad

Continue reading

Braving Espinazo del Diablo~ The Devil’s Backbone

Zacatecas became just a lovely memory as we headed towards the coast. Baja was beckoning but first, we simply needed to get down the mountain. Winter in Mexico’s highlands is cold. In spite of its reputation as a country of sunshine and beaches the colonial hill towns of Central Mexico drop to freezing during the winter months and we were craving needed sun and sand between our toes. But first, we needed to brave the Espinazo del Diablo.

DSCN7314

Continue reading

HOW TO SPEND A LONG WEEKEND IN CAMBRIDGE

Originally published by Mary at the Calculated Traveler on May 27, 2017

A trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a journey through history, art galleries, museums, and higher learning. Throw in some shopping and some good eats, and you have the perfect long weekend getaway.

GET EDUCATED AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Cambridge - Harvard University

Image via Flickr by Michael HicksNo trip to Cambridge is complete without a visit to Harvard University — the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Famous alumni of this prestigious university include John F. Kennedy, Barak Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. Tours, both guided and self-guided, are available. You can choose among a number of Cambridge hotels that will keep you close to the sights and attractions you enjoy.

Harvard Square Hotel is conveniently located three blocks from the University. With a hotel this close, you can pretend you’re an Ivy League student living on campus but without having to share a dorm room. While you are playing student, strolling through Harvard Yard, check out the rare books at Houghton Library, find some culture at the Harvard Art Museum, stop into the COOP for some Harvard U souvenirs, and grab a bite at Mr Bartley’s Burgers.

GET CREATIVE AT THE RAY AND MARIA STATA CENTER AT MIT

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Cambridge - Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT

Image via Flickr by Tony WebsterHome to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the contemporary, deconstructivist style of the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center contrast the traditional architecture of the buildings of Harvard. The unique exterior and interior design has received much criticism — positive and negative — so form your own opinion while you’re there. This isn’t the only place to find creativity on campus; MIT is home to some fabulous art galleries as well as many outdoor art installations to fill your Instagram feed.

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Cambridge - Kendall Square

Image via Flickr by SoeLinWhether staying in a historic or a contemporary hotel near MIT, you can be in the middle of all the action at hotels near Kendall Square. This 10-acre redevelopment includes restaurants, shopping, 2.5 acres of open space, an outdoor concert venue, a farmers market, and canoe/kayak rentals by the river. Where to eat? Why not pack a picnic or enjoy an outdoor patio meal?

HAVE A 3-D EXPERIENCE AT THE MIT MUSEUM

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Cambridge - Hologram Collection MIT Museum

Image via Flickr by A.M. KuchlingWelcoming over 130,000 visitors each year with a collection of over 1 million objects that explore the concept of idea-innovation-invention, the MIT Museum archives the history of the MIT and holds the largest collection of holograms in the world.

Should you wish to consider hotels near the MIT Museum, Le Meridien Cambridge-MIT is one example that’s a few blocks away, next to University Park Common. When it comes time to eat, I’ve heard great things about Craigie on Main, the James Beard award-winning French bistro run by Chef Tony Maws. Alongside its regular menu, Craigie on Main also offers five-course tasting menus as well as brunch on Sunday.

BOSTON IS ACROSS THE RIVER!

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Cambridge - Davis Square

Image via Flickr by spi516

Cambridge sights are plentiful, but Boston is across the Charles River should you wish to explore further. Davis Square is a great neighborhood to call your home away from home since it’s midway between both cities, and you can find a good variety of Davis Square Hotels.

I HOPE YOU’VE ENJOYED THIS WEEKEND GETAWAY THROUGH CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS! DID I MISS ANYTHING?

Featured Image (top) via Flickr by Tony Webster

Continue reading

Greek Islands – Where to Go and How to Get There

Anyone with the travel bug like us will love exploring new places. Today I want to introduce you to some of the Greek Islands in Southern Europe and, hopefully, inspire you to book your next holiday on one of them (or more!). With over 200 islands inhabited in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, it’s hard to discover which one is right for you as each one lends itself to a different type of vacation, so here is an overview of my top four.

greece-boat-lake

Continue reading

Of Masks and Mountains~ Taking time for Zacatecas

I paused to catch my breath, leaning forward to brace my hands on my knees. A small waterfall of sweat cascaded down my back as I sucked wind. Even after months spent living in the hills above 5000ft elevation, the mountainous city that is Zacatecas, set at just over 8000 ft,  was becoming my nemesis.

DSCN7212

Continue reading

New Years and New Plans

We left our stunning lakeside retreat at Lagos de Colon and headed for San Cristobal for Christmas. New Years called for new plans, but we had fallen in love with this city on the way south, and heading north found her no less magical. That is other than the fireworks Christmas Eve that went on for nearly seven hours straight.

DSCN6991

Continue reading

Trekking Northward with Trepidition

I craned my neck, searching for one last glimpse of Lake Atitlan, perhaps the most magical places I had ever been. Luckily, the drive out of the lake was greatly improved from our entry nearly three months earlier and soon my sights were focused on making the border.

DSCN6947

Continue reading

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte

Originally published by Andi of The Misadventures of Andi on April 28, 2017.

Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Hotel Planner. As always, all experiences and opinions are my own.

The South is steeped in history that spans much more than Southern belles, debutante balls, or Sunday barbecues with smoked meats and crawfish boils. In the past decade, there’s been a revival of the Old South with a new spin, particularly when it comes to the food scene.

Many local chefs are going back to their roots and celebrating Southern cuisine with long forgotten ingredients and menu items. These chefs are also evolving the culinary history of the South by drawing on newer immigrant cultures. It’s this mixing of the Old South with the new that makes a weekend in Charlotte a must.

Weekend in Charlotte

Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

Charlotte is smaller than a lot of other Southern cities, so it’s easier to navigate and enjoy in just a few days. Plus, she’s definitely one of the prettiest belles at the ball. In fact, she’s the queen.

Since a weekend isn’t a whole lot of time, I’m focusing on Uptown in the central part of the city. But you can find lots to do, see, eat and drink all over Charlotte. There are no rules to say you can’t do more!

A Weekend in Charlotte near the City Center/Uptown

Weekend in Charlotte

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

This section of Charlotte is densely packed with lots to do. I highly recommend doing as much walking as possible. Burn those calories while visiting a museum, doing a walking tour, or shopping. Then you won’t feel so guilty when you order dessert! Whether you decide to make your home base at a hotel near the city center or close to Discovery Place, you’ll find a plethora of possibilities.

North Carolina’s oldest art museum, the Mint Museum, is right at your doorstep. There are local and internationally renowned artists; Chihuly’s “Royal Blue Mint Chandelier,” and a focus on fine crafts such as glass, pottery, wood, and jewelry. Right next door, you’ll find the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s architecture is stunning, and it’s home to works from major artists like Picasso and Warhol. Plus, if your weekend starts on the first Friday of the month, you can catch one of two jazz shows.

Got the kids with you for your weekend in Charlotte? Don’t miss taking them to Discovery Place, an interactive museum for kids focused on science and technology. The museum also has a really cool Genghis Khan exhibit that is not to be missed. The museum is actually a whole lot of fun without the kids, too!

To get a thorough understanding of Southern life and culture, visit the Levine Museum of the New South. Afterward, you can check out the local food scene by exploring the Seventh Street Public Market. Shopping and eating in this famous market helps support the food culture of the Carolinas and promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans, and entrepreneurs. Here, you’re not just eating; you’re contributing, too.

I always enjoy walking tours when I’m visiting a new city, especially if they’re food tours. If you’re also fascinated by local food culture, I highly recommend a tour from Tour de Food or Feast Food Tours, two companies hosting culinary escapades in Uptown. Not only will you learn a thing or two, but you won’t go hungry, either.

Weekend in Charlotte Eating

Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

My picks for food in the Uptown area:

Breakfast and Brunch

  • Amelie’s French Bakery (380 S College St.): Enjoy a casual breakfast with delicious pastries and a damn good croissant.
  • The Asbury (235 N. Tryon St.): Don’t miss the deviled eggs with fried cornichons. This is a great spot for dinner, too.

Lunch

  • The King’s Kitchen (129 W. Trade St.): This spot serves farm-centric Southern comfort food, and every penny of profit goes to feed the poor.
  • Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 N College St.): This spot is home to very good salmon cakes.
  • Chili Man (101-139 S Tryon St.): Get the Life Changer from this food cart owned by Vic.
  • Papi Queso Streatery (6th/Tryon St.): Catch this food truck on Fridays and grab the signature grilled cheese sandwich.

Cocktails

  • 204 North Kitchen and Cocktails (204 N Tryon St.): Stop here for pre-dinner cocktails.

Dinner

  • Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen (150 N College St.): Don’t miss the duck dishes or the excellent mac and cheese.
  • Sea Level NC (129 E 5th St.): Dig into sustainable seafood and Carolina oysters in a classy atmosphere.
  • 5Church (127 N. Tryon St.): Try the Rosemary Gin Fizz at this hip steakhouse.
  • McNinch House (511 N. Church St.): Enjoy this formal dining restaurant with top-of-the-line service.

Dessert

  • Crave Dessert Bar (500 W 5th St. #120): Save room for dessert or an after dinner drink at this sweet spot.

Weekend Sports Trips

Weekend in Charlotte Bank of America Stadium

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

Charlotte is a big sports town. If you visit for a weekend to catch the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center, you’ll find plenty of hotels nearby and these great eats:

  • Sunflour Baking Company (2001 East Seventh Street): Amazing bagels and lox
  • Midwood Smokehouse’s (1401 Central Avenue): Carolina barbecue
  • Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 North College Street): Southern soul food and Lowcountry dishes

If you visit Charlotte for a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium, stay at a hotel nearby and fill up on these pre-game treats:

  • Price’s Chicken Coop (1614 Camden Road): Carry this institution’s signature take-out dish to the game with you.
  • Pinky’s Westside Grill (1600 West Morehead Street): Don’t miss the iconic White Trash Burger.
  • Seoul Food Meat Company (1400 South Church Street): Get your chicken wings Korean style.

Weekend in Charlotte for the Family

Weekend in Charlotte Charlotte Nature Museum

The butterfly garden at Discovery Place Nature. Image via Flickr by That Guy DouG.

A great spot to take the kids on a family weekend is Discovery Place Nature, formerly known as the Charlotte Nature Museum. It’s an oasis for children and adults to learn more about local wildlife. There’s a butterfly garden, hands-on animal experiences, and a nature trail to Freedom Park, where you can enjoy a family picnic.

Here are some family-friendly spots for food:

  • Duck Donuts (1710 Kenilworth Avenue): Don’t miss these donuts!
  • Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar (1626 East Boulevard): The kids will love the name, and you’ll love the burgers.
  • JJ’s Red Hots (1514 East Boulevard): Enjoy classic hotdogs in a retro environment.

Once everyone’s belly is full, make sure it’s only a short walk to the hotel to take a nap.

How’s that for options? The Queen City rules when it comes to an action-packed, food-filled weekend. How about you? Have you visited Charlotte? What would you add to my weekend plans?

About Andi Fisher

I’m a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. A marketing gal who gave up my job to travel around the United States in an RV with my hubby. I’m now settling into the Portland area where I’m looking for my next career adventure! I love to travel via my stomach. Eating, seeking out local artisans and features to share. I’ve got more than 26 years of experience in marketing focused on content, social media, and direct marketing and I’ve mentored many bloggers, old and new.

Learning Permaculture at Atitlan Organics on Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan draws you in. We forcibly drug ourselves away just before our visa expired, but numerous travelers we shared time with remain, unable to leave this spot so filled with magic and mystery.

DSCN6461

Continue reading