Creep yourself out at the Ohio State Reformatory

Ohio State Reformatory

It may not look like it on the surface, but Mansfield, Ohio is a hub of activity. Paranormal activity, that is.  From the Bissman Building to Malabar Farm, many buildings and places in the area claim to be haunted, but none more than the historic Ohio State Reformatory.

Built and open for business, er…prisoners in 1886, this gothic like structure built by acclaimed architect Levi Scofield was built to strike fear in the heart of the young men that were lead through its gates. Originally used as an intermediate penitentiary that housed young first-time, non-violent offenders, the architecture was intended to intimidate the prisoners and cause them to be remorseful of the path they’d taken so they would be easier to rehabilitate. Eventually the prison began to house violent offenders, morphing into a maximum security prison before closing its doors for good in 1990.

Inside the Ohio State Reformatory

The imposing façade does nothing to deter visitors from flocking to the site today which is possibly the most visited attraction in Richland County other than Mid-Ohio Raceway (which is not haunted, by the way). Tours are offered most days, with self-guided and docent led tours available. I’ve been on both and found the docent led tour less creepy than the self-guided tour. I enjoyed learning about the history of the property, how it was nearly demolished and then purchased for $1 (no, that is not a typo) and became the filming site for the famed Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by famed author, Stephen King. I guess you could say the movie saved the prison, as the filming crews showed up on the very day the wrecking ball was set to strike. The movie has also boosted tourism in Mansfield, as fans descend on the area from across the country to view the filming locations that are views along the Shawshank Trail.

The Ohio State Reformatory has been seen in music videos, Hollywood movies and the much talked about, Ghost Hunters. Those with an affinity to all things creepy may enjoy spending the night entering the dank cells, slowly making their way through the dark passageways and cells.

The east cell block in the Ohio State Reformatory

The prison boasts a small museum with the Old Sparky, the original electric chair on display for all to marvel at. Surprisingly, the contraption was made by a prisoner on death row. I’m not sure that would pass as humane punishment these days. The prison also features the East Cell Block which is the world’s largest, free standing, steel cell block and The Hole, where unruly prisoners were sent.

Cells at the Ohio State Reformatory

Today visitors can tour just about every inch of the prison and while you can step inside the prison cells, just do me a favor and don’t slide the door closed behind you. Most of the keys have been misplaced and you may have a bit of a lengthy stay as you wait for a locksmith to come to your rescue. Did I mention the prison is creepy? Oh yeah, I think I did.

Visit www.mrps.org to plan your visit.

Why You Should Escape To Missouri This Fall

 

Why You Should Escape To Missouri This Fall
Imagine sipping wine as you look out over countryside splashed with reds and golds, or relaxing at a spa surrounded by wilderness colored by autumn’s paintbrush. A fall couple’s getaway to Missouri is the best way to rejuvenate after a long, hot summer. Wondering where to go? Let me share why you should escape to Missouri this fall.

Missouri has a number of great destinations, but here are two to consider for your fall getaway. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year so finding colorful escapes is a must!  Of course, ones that cater to a couples getaway move towards the top of the list of must visit places. Missouri wine country is a great choice because, well, wine and usually where there is wine there is going to be a great culinary scene. A lodge with an 18,000 square foot spa doesn’t sound too shabby either.

WHY YOU SHOULD ESCAPE TO MISSOURI THIS FALL

Wine Country
The rolling hills surrounding Ste. Genevieve explode with color each autumn, making your journey to each of the wineries along the Route du Vin wine trail even better. After taking a morning to explore the first permanent settlement in Missouri, you can find award-winning wine and beer at Charleville and unbeatable views and culinary options at Chaumette. Both of these wineries have on-site lodging for completing the romantic getaway. I’m very intrigued with the Ozarks Rain Experience and think I might need to experience it for myself.

Why You Should Escape To Missouri This Fall

A Resort on the Lake
Table Rock Lake, in the middle of the Ozarks, is an unbeatable destination for fall foliage. Throw in a stay at Big Cedar Lodge, and you’ll never want to leave! At this resort, you can choose from well appointed lodge rooms and romantic cabins, and there are many delicious dining options available as well. Round out your stay with a visit to the new, 18,000 square foot spa for a couple’s massage or the unique ‘Ozarks Rain Experience.’

Learn more about visiting Missouri this fall at VisitMO.com/fall

Reasons to visit Santa Barbara, CA this Spring

Santa Barbara

Spring is a great time to plan a vacation so why not slip on your flip-flops and head to Santa Barbara! Get ready to dance at the ocean-side concert in celebration of the Santa Barbara Arts and Craft Show 50th anniversary or get inspired and explore Santa Barbara’s natural beauty during Public Gardens Appreciation Month. Food and wine enthusiasts are in for a treat as Santa Barbara hosts two amazing culinary events in April and sports aficionados can join in to welcome back The Amgen Tour of California. The flowers are blooming and the sun is shining in Santa Barbara this spring, keep reading for more exciting news of this season.

2013 Spring Vintners' Festival at the Mission Santa Ines

The annual Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, held from April 23th - 26th, is a premier opportunity to attend a diversity of wine maker events. Taste wines from the more than 120 winery members at tasting room open houses, vineyard walks, and more. Also featured at the Vintners Spring Weekend is the Santa Barbara Wine Seminar, a fun and engaging discussion with six wine producers from Santa Barbara County held Saturday morning. SBVintnersWeekend.com

Julia-Child
In partnership with The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, Bacara Resort & Spa presents the 2nd annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend. This event showcases the distinct tastes, sights and sounds of the region while also bringing cutting-edge culinary talent from across the country. Taste, sip and learn about the best and latest in food this April 16th - 19th through panel discussions, cooking demonstrations and more. BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com

concert

From April through October, The Santa Barbara Bowl hosts concerts from major names of the music world every year. With great events in store for 2015, The Santa Barbara Bowl is kicking off this season with Grammy Nominated band Alt-J and special guest band Jungle. Keep an eye out for the rest of this year’s line-up, which has already confirmed pianist Diana Krall, and the lead singer for Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler. SBBowl.com

museum

Let local speakers guide you through Santa Barbara’s history and transformation while enjoying a glass of wine. Held at different tasting rooms throughout Santa Barbara, History Happy Hour is a new relaxed opportunity for those who want to learn more about Santa Barbara’s heritage in a fun and immersive setting. Learn while you sip and join the Santa Barbara Historical Museum in their second event of the series on March 5th at Jamie Slone Wines. SantaBarbaraMuseum.com

Arts & Crafts

Every Sunday, Santa Barbara’s artists present a mile-long collection of locally-crafted pieces under the palm trees along Cabrillo Boulevard. Established in 1965, The Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015! Visit Chase Palm Park on May 16th and 17th and dance to the music of Spencer the Gardener, a local band with a distinctively quirky and genre-bending style, to celebrate 50 years of local talent.  SBAACS.com

gardens

As part of National Public Gardens Day on May 8th, Santa Barbara celebrates Public Gardens Appreciation Month, a local festivity that encourages the community to discover the area’s wealth and diversity of gardens. Throughout the month of May, the public gardens of Santa Barbara invite locals and visitors to explore their extraordinary locations by offering a variety of discounts and special events such as, exhibits, lectures, tours and other activities. SBPublicGardens.com

yacht

After six successful years of chartering in the Virgin Islands, the Green Flash Luxury Catamaran is now available in Santa Barbara! Owned and operated by locals Captain Arthur and Chef Sherri McNary, it offers the ultimate sailing experience. Embark on an unforgettable adventure and step aboard the Green Flash to enjoy a high-end dinner inspired by local seasonal cuisine that perfectly complements the Santa Barbara ocean breezes. YachtGreenFlash.com

horseback riding santa barbara

Santa Barbara Beach Horseback Rides offers an unforgettable experience where novice and experienced horseback riders can enjoy the glorious vistas of Santa Barbara’s beachfront. Saddle up and tour the mountain bluffs overlooking the pacific coastline or travel along a secluded and peaceful beach. The sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore, combined with the scenery of a majestic sunset, make for the perfect horseback riding experience. SBBeachRides.com

santa barbara zoo

Santa Barbara visitors can’t get enough of baby Buttercup, a newly born Masai giraffe that theSanta Barbara Zoo welcomed during the winter. But, as if that wasn’t enough, a second long-necked arrival is expected this March! Masai giraffes are the tallest land mammal on earth and just over 100 of them exist in North America, which makes Buttercup’s and his soon-to-be playmate’s birth an extraordinary occurrence you don’t want to miss. SBZoo.org

Good Lion Santa Barbara

Inspired by an Ernest Hemingway short story, the Good Lion Cocktail Bar has opened next door to The Granada Theatre. Their innovative cocktails crafted with local seasonal ingredients, combined with weekly live music and Spanish style tapas makes the perfect place for a fun get-together. Visit the newest addition to Santa Barbara’s Historic Theater District and enjoy cocktails surrounded by the arts and culture of downtown Santa Barbara. GoodLionCocktails.com

Grapevine is the #1 destination for festivals in Texas!

Discover why Grapevine is the number one festival and events destination in Texas! Officially recognized as a World Festival & Events City by the International Festival & Events Association, Grapevine welcomed more than one and a half million visitors to the city’s festivals and special events in 2014. So, make your plans now to attend all of these exciting Grapevine events in 2015!

• Sweetheart Wine Trail, February 14 and 15: Romance the day away with someone special along the Sweetheart Wine Trail in Grapevine. Featuring three tastings and food samplings at each participating Grapevine winery tasting room, a souvenir wine glass and a bottle of premium Grapevine wine, this is a unique and festive way to celebrate Cupid’s arrow. www.GrapevineWineryTrail.com.

• Jazz Wine Trains, March 20 and 21: Raise a glass and ride the rails on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. This train experience is fun for guests ages 21 and up. One of the most popular annual springtime events in Grapevine, this one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience features live Jazz entertainment, a delicious boxed dinner, a souvenir wine glass and samplings of Grapevine wines. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/JazzWineTrains.

• 12th Annual Day Out with Thomas™, April 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19: Take a journey with Thomas the Tank Engine™ at the 12th Annual Day Out With Thomas on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Meet Sir Topham Hatt, the Controller of the Railway on the Island of Sodor, as you enjoy a train ride, storytelling, videos, temporary tattoos of Island of Sodor friends, and an Imagination Station with arts, crafts and more. The train ride is approximately 25 minutes. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/Thomas.

• 11th Annual ChocolateFest, April 24 and 25: Sweeten up your weekend at the 11th Annual ChocolateFest, benefiting Travelers Aid D/FW. On Friday, April 24, delicious delights await at An Evening of Chocolate and Wine at the all new location of Austin Ranch, 2009 Anderson Gibson Rd. (located near Grapevine Mills), 7 p.m. Guests must be 21 and above. On Saturday, April 25, sample an array of chocolate treats paired with beautiful works of art at A Day of Chocolate & Art at Austin Ranch from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. www.ChocolateFestGrapevine.org.

• Grapevine Farmers Market and Grapevine Market, April 9 – October 17: Experience shopping at the festive open-air European-style Grapevine Market for an eclectic array of items including handmade jewelry, distinctive home décor, quality antiques and more. Liberty Park, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eat healthy with delicious locally-grown produce and other products at The Grapevine Farmers Market. Located behind the Town Square Gazebo, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. www.FarmersMarketofGrapevine.com or www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com.

• 23rd Annual Blessing of the Vines and New Vintage Wine & Gallery Trail, April 11: For centuries, Old World grape growers marked the beginning of the growing season with the ceremonial Blessing of the Vines and this tradition continues in Grapevine. After the Blessing of the Vines, enjoy the New Vintage Wine & Gallery Trail, featuring tastings at each participating winery, food samplings and beautiful works of art at all of Grapevine’s art galleries. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/NewVintage.

• 14th Annual Spring Into Nash, April 18: Celebrate life on the farm like Grapevine’s earliest settlers. Held at Grapevine’s historic Nash Farm, the event features heritage toys, kitchen gardening, cotton planting, authentic heritage animal breeds, tractor-drawn wagon rides, field cultivation, wood carving demonstrations, jump rope making, cooking demonstrations on a wood burning stove and blacksmith demonstrations. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. www.NashFarm.org.

• 31st Annual Main Street Fest, May 15, 16 and 17: Tap into three full days of festival fun at Grapevine’s Main Street Fest – A Craft Brew Experience. Held along Main Street, guests will experience new and returning favorites at this event, with a special emphasis on craft brew tasting experiences. Events include craft brew tastings, pre-festival craft brew and dining experiences, live entertainment, KidCave, Carnival and Midway, Texas Wine Terrace, artisans and vendors, festival food and much more. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/MainStreetFest.

• 7th Annual SummerBlast, May 22 – September 4: Blast off with family-friendly summer fun in Grapevine, the perfect destination for the all ages. Some of the exciting activities include Summer Bash at Gaylord Texan Resort, Friday Night Fireworks Over Lake Grapevine, perfect poolside relaxation, shopping, wineries, dining and much more. Fireworks happen every Friday night at 9:30 p.m. over Lake Grapevine. And don’t miss the special 33rd Annual Fireworks Show on July 4th. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/Summer.

• 29th Annual GrapeFest®, September 17, 18, 19 and 20: GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest United States, celebrates the best of Texas wines, West Coast varietals and International offerings. This four-day family-friendly festival also features events such as the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, GrapeStomp, the Texas Wine Tribute, pre-event wine and food pairing dinners, the Champagne Terrace, KidsWorld, GrapeFest Golf Classic, GrapeFest Tennis Classic, ItalianCarFest, five stages of live entertainment and much more!
www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/GrapeFest.

• 15th Annual Fall Round-Up at Nash Farm, October 17: Celebrate fall on the farm at the 15th Annual Fall Round-Up at Nash Farm, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Activities include jump rope making, leather working, wood carving, blacksmith demonstrations, wood stove cooking demonstration, cotton picking, corn shelling and grinding, farm chores, heritage toys, kitchen gardening and corn shuck doll making. Free admission. www.NashFarm.org.

• 18th Annual Butterfly Flutterby, October 17: Flap your wings with the southern migration of the Monarch butterfly at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens. Guests help release more than 600 tagged butterflies during three scheduled releases throughout the event. Children and pets are invited to participate in the colorful Butterfly Parade and in the costume contest. Free admission. Activities also include plant sales, arts and crafts and more. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/Butterfly.

• Hallo-Wine Trail, October 24 and 25: Scare up some fun along Grapevine’s Hallo-Wine Trail! This spooktacular event features three tastings and food samplings at each participating Grapevine winery tasting room, a souvenir wine glass and a bottle of premium Grapevine wine. www.GrapevineWineryTrail.com

• Christmas Capital of Texas®, November 2015 – January 2016: Unwrap the magic of the season in Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas! Grapevine celebrates Christmas with more 1,400 events in 40-plus days and is the perfect place to celebrate with your family and friends this year. Millions of magical lights, enormous decorations, Christmas events and more perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas in Grapevine. Events include North Pole Express® November 27, 28 and 29; December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23) ICE! and Lone Star Christmas at Gaylord Texan Resort (November – January), Bass Pro Shop’s Santa’s Wonderland, Light Show Spectacular, Carol of Lights (November 23), Parade of Lights (December 3), Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge, Main Street LIVE’s Christmas Shows and classic Christmas movies at the Historic Palace Theatre, Christmas Wine Trains (December 10 and 17), after Christmas train rides and much more. www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/Christmas.

Many of Grapevine’s hotels offer special rates and packages during annual festival and events. For hotel information, tickets or more information regarding Grapevine’s festivals and events, please contact the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-457-6338 or 817-410-3185 or visit www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com.

Spend A Weekend In Detroit

detroit
I spent a couple days emerged in Detroit’s Motown music history and experienced a Detroit that is “catching the bounce”. I was a bit hesitant to vist at first. It has been a good five years since I’ve been in Detroit and my last visit wasn’t very impressive. However, I’ve been hearing tidbits here and there over the past year that Detroit was on the rise and should be on my radar for a visit.

After spending a couple days in Motown I have to say I’m really impressed with Detroit’s comeback; if ever there was a city that should be dubbed a Phoenix, it should probably be Detroit. From bankruptcy, high unemployment and crime sprees to a vibrant, cleaned upped city that people are proud to call home. I’m thrilled to share Detroit’s bounce back with you.
detroit

I kicked off my visit with lunch at The Majestic Theater. The Majestic Theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to 3 concert venues, 2 bars, the oldest operating bowling alley operating in the U.S., Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizzeria & Deli and the Majestic Cafe. After a tour of the Majestic I enjoyed a delicious meal at the cafe. Typically I only order seafood when I’m visiting a coastal destination, but I decided to live dangerously and ordered the Lobster Mac & Cheese. It was so very good! I also taste tested the brussel sprouts, sweet potato fries, and crab cakes. Nothing disappointed my taste buds. I have to make my way back to the Majestic for some concerts and bowling. It looked like too much fun.

detroit
The Motown Museum was up next. It opened in 1985 to preserve the history of Motown music and “tells the story of how a man’s vision turned into one of the largest, most successful record companies of all time and how the music captured the hearts of young people, not only in America, but across the globe.” (http://www.motownmuseum.org/about-the-museum/). All museum visits are by guided tour and lasts about 45 minutes. Our guide was young, enthusiastic, and very knowledge about the museum. She told great stories about Barry Gordy, who started Motown Music, and the artists that recorded in Studio A. Groups like the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Supremes, and Temptations all recorded in Studio A. The Motown history in Studio A is pretty stunning AND during the tour I stood and sang in the studio. It was pretty fantastic!

detroit

detroit

I topped off the Motown Museum experience by going to see Motown, The Musical at the Fisher Theater (gorgeous theater and worth a visit even if there isn’t a show). The production showcased almost all of the Motown hits and it’s easy to find yourself singing along. My Girl, which I sang in Studio A earlier in the day, was sung on stage that night. I love when things come full circle. Other favorites included Dancing in the Street, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Pie), I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Money (That’s What I Want), Stop In The Name Of Love and so many more. Of course, watching Motown, The Musical in Motown gives the musical an extra little kick.

detroit
The next morning it was a tour with Kim of Show Me Detroit Tours to see how Detroit is making its significant comeback. Clean streets, new businesses, community activities, festivals and more are now a vibrant part of downtown. The current hockey arena is going to be torn down and a new arena is being built near Comerica Park and Ford Field which will allow the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings to all be located in close proximity to each other for one giant sport complex. A street car is being installed along Woodward Ave (one of Detroit’s main streets) and will be a 3.3 mile circuitous route passing my some of Detroit’s hot spots.

detroit
No visit to the city would be complete without stepping inside the Guardian Building. This Art Deco building is a hidden treasure in the city and is jaw dropping beautiful on the inside. Multiple parks dot the waterfront and provide a great place to have a picnic or to relax.

detroit

After spending the morning exploring Detroit I stopped in at Bert’s in Eastern Market (a 6-block farmers market in operation since 1891) for lunch. Bert’s is tied to Motown music as well. Bert’s co-owner, Miller London, was the very first African American record salesman for Motown Records. Bert’s offers goo southern food and bbq.

detroit

Overall it was a fantastic trip through the city. If you are looking for a weekend getaway I really recommend a visit to Detroit. Learn more by visiting www.visitdetroit.com.

Welcome back Detroit, you make this Michigander proud.

Winter Fun in Petoskey, MI

Petoskey
When winter arrives in the Petoskey Area, it brings a vibe that’s full of energy, vitality and a zest for fun. It’s an uplifting feeling that covers our ski slopes, shopping districts and special events like a blanket of fresh snow. And it’s one more reason so many people call our area a Michigan treasure.

During the month of January there are a lot of fun activities so bundle up, get outside and have fun in Petoskey, MI!

Discover Michigan Skiing
Now through January 31
Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls,
Boyne Highlands Resort and Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs

Winter is a great time of year — if you get out and enjoy it. So why not learn how to ski and snowboard? Play in the snow with the pros at Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and Nub’s Nob, and bring your friends to have fun, too. January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month” in Michigan and this program offers beginners a great way to learn at an affordable rate. Call for information on discounted rates and to make reservations for this great offer from Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and Nub’s Nob.

Boyne Highlands SnowSports Academy
(231) 526-3056, boyne.com/boynehighlands or snowsports2@boynehighlands.com
Boyne Mountain SnowSports Academy
(231) 549-6056, boyne.com/boynemountain or snowsports1@boynemountain.com
Nub’s Nob Winter Sports School
(800) SKI-NUBS or nubsnob.com

Bay Harbor Ice & Spice Festival
Jan 16 – 17, 2015
Bay Harbor

At the Bay Harbor Ice & Spice Festival, you’ll see professional and amateur carving competitions where blocks of ice are turned into works of art. These are some pretty amazing masterpieces! Bay Harbor is one of the stops on the National Tournament of Champions for ice carving, and this event is sanctioned by the National Ice Carving Association. More than $12,000 in cash awards will be given away on Saturday. See if your favorite takes home the top prize!

Prizes will also be awarded at the Pro-Am Ice & Spice Chili Challenge, a chili cook-off hosted by the Bay Harbor Association. Taste the culinary creations in both professional and amateur divisions and vote for your favorite.

Also on the schedule is a “Find Frosty” contest for the kids, plus numerous other winter activities for the entire family. The event will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday evening in the Village. 231.439.2650

50th Annual Moose Jaw Safari
Jan 17, 2015
Harbor Springs

Join us as we celebrate fifty years of Moose Jaw excitement. There are a few different stories of how the Moose Jaw Safari got its name. The most popular tale told about the 1965 ride relays how the group left Harbor Springs and made it to Moose Jaw Road before turning back. It took several hours to get that far (approximately 20 miles) and the group had used up most of the spare plugs, belts and fuel. Most riders of today’s sleds have no idea how hard it was to go any distance at all on early sleds!

The Moose Jaw Safari starts at 8:30am. This year, the Naubinway Snowmobile Museum will be our special guest. Ride your vintage sled, and you won’t need a Trail Pass or Registration for this event. There’s plenty of room for truck and trailer parking. Take M119 to Harbor Springs and turn left on Hoyt Street. Come on out and ride, Sally, ride! This is an easy ride that will take 2 hours with 15-minute stops. We usually stop 3 times during the ride to visit and keep the group together. Ride our most scenic trails on the way to Larks Lake. The famous bean soup will be ready at noon. You can drive your car to the bean pot, and we have use of the Center Township Hall at Larks Lake. With or without snow, we will still meet at the bean pot for fiftieth anniversary festivities.

Stafford’s Wedding Show
Jan 18, 2015
Bay View

Come to Stafford’s Wedding Show from noon to 3pm and spend the afternoon planning your perfect day with a variety of vendors and wedding professionals. From photographers to bakeries, you can have all of your questions answered at Stafford’s Bay View Inn, one of four of Stafford’s beautiful reception site options. Come see all the latest in bridal trends and enter to win great prizes. Brides & grooms are admitted FREE! 800.258.1886

Boyne City Winterfest
Jan 24, 2015
Boyne City

There’s so much fun to be had in Boyne City. Starting at noon on Saturday, Winterfest brings games, music, a chili cook-off, fat bike races and cross-country skiing. Merchants are even opening their doors for an indoor sidewalk sale. Nearly everything in this family-friendly event is free. Activities are at Sunset Park, Old City Park and other locations throughout Boyne City. Visit the website for times and locations. Come have a blast at Winterfest! 231.582.6222

Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Epic Savings Event

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

If you have ever dreamed about booking a trip to Universal Orlando to experience the thrilling rides and family friendly atmosphere, then now is the time. What about Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley? Have you been dying to visit and take your first spin on the new Escape from Gringots ride? Throw caution to the wind and take a peak at the great deal begin offered at Universal Orlando’ Cabana Bay Beach Resort for the next 72 hours!

What is the Epic Savings Event?

For the next 72 hours, when you book a 3 night stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort you can score 2 free tickets to see the Blue Man Group. We saw this last year, and the boys still rave about it, it is a must see for sure!

How much do rooms cost at Cabana Bay Beach Resort? Right now, you can score a room at this amazing family friendly resort complete with a lazy river, bowling alley and two pools for only $99 per night!

Cabana Bay Lazy River

Check out the full details of the offer below!

Includes the following benefits:

  • Book a three-night on-site hotel stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort starting at $99 per night plus tax.
  • Receive two complimentary Blue Man Group tickets
  • Complimentary upgrade to a Family Suite
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • For more information or to book a stay, visit: www.universalorlando.com/EpicSavings

*Minimum 3-night stay, Sunday – Thursday only. For select travel dates from Nov. 4, 2014 to Feb. 12, 2015.Blockout dates apply Dec. 25 – Jan. 3, 2015.

What are you waiting for? If you’ve dreamed of a family trip to Universal Orlando, it will be hard to find a deal as good as this, but hurry, it only lasts for 72 hours!

A Visit to Indiana Caverns (spoiler alert- it involves an underground boat ride!)

Indiana Caverns
I remember visiting a cavern/cave system in Texas when I was in middle school, and although I can’t remember every detail, it left a curious mark on me. I was fascinated by the underground world, beautiful cave structures, and constant climate.

Fast forward to early fall of this year. When I received an invite to Corydon, Indiana, and read that underground caverns were on the itinerary, I was on board. My first stop was to Indiana Caverns the largest cave system in Indiana. At present day, there’s over 40 miles of the Brinkley Cave system and it’s growing compliments of the continuous excavation and research.

Indiana Caverns

The 80-minute tour shows visitors the amazing features of Indiana Caverns, including stalactites, stalagmites, and water sources. We walked by a waterfall, were shown animals indigenous to the cave system, and even took an underground boat ride. Yep, you read that correctly. The pontoon-style boat took us through parts of the cave system that would not be accessible unless we were in hip waders. given that the cave system maintains a constant temperature of 57 degrees year-round, water at that temperature is a bit too cold for me.

At one point, our knowledgeable tour guide cut all of the lights that give the cavern its only source of visibility and asked us all to remain silent for a few seconds to show what animals and even humans encountered when they entered the cave hundreds of years ago.

Indiana Caverns

Speaking of animals, Indiana Caverns does a fab job of showing off their amazing collection of animal bones dating from the Ice Age including Peccary and Bison. An ongoing excavation is finding more discoveries with each session and if you’re the inquisitive cave type, you can actually join in on a Paleo dig with scientists. The Paleo dig is a separate cost from general tour admission, but the thrill would definitely outweigh the cost if you’re a cavern fan like I am.

The Details

Indiana Caverns offers guided tours year round from 9am-5pm, seven days a week. Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, you’ve got 363 other days to choose from. Prices for visitors are $19 for adults, $10 for children 4-12. There are discounts for groups as well. Indiana Caverns is not handicap accessible but anyone that can walk up and down stairs with no issues will definitely enjoy the tour. I would happily return for a visit again and consider the underground boat ride a highlight of my autumn season.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Indiana Caverns for the purpose of giving you fine folks the scoop on my family’s fabulous time. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.

Karyn Locke is Trekaroo’s  Marketing and Social Media Guroo and newly-appointed Mid-America Guroo. A former military brat who caught the travel bug at a very early age, Karyn loves road tripping with her family and writing about her travels from small town Ohio at  Sand and Snow...and everywhere in between!

Baltimore’s Top “Haunted Coldspots”

pub crawl(c)http://wickedhistorybaltimore.com/

This is my favorite time of year. I love all the ghost walks, haunted pub crawls and fun family events that happen in October. There is so much happening in almost every U.S. city during the fall, but Baltimore looks like they are taking it up a notch with all the activities and “Haunted Coldspots”. If you’ve never been to Baltimore now is a great time to plan a visit.

Fell’s Point & Mount Vernon
Once the sun sets, visitors can explore the “unknown” by taking a haunted ghost walk or pub walk through the streets of historic Fell’s Point or Mount Vernon. Two of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods, both are home to dozens of haunted pubs, shops and residences.

The Admiral’s Ghost Tour & Reception
Guests staying at the Admiral Fell Inn won’t need to go too far to get a dose of the spirit world.   Considered one of the Top Ten Haunted Places in Baltimore, the hotel’s “The Admiral’s Ghost Tour & Reception” begins in the lobby and tours the seven historic buildings that make up The Admiral Fell Inn.

Baltimore Wicked History Tours
Now – November: Saturdays 5:00 pm

This is a Baltimore history tour like no other. Baltimore Wicked History Tours plumbs the depths of Baltimore’s underbelly. While crawling through some of the pubs and taverns in town, visitors will hear about times past when some struggled to survive and others thumbed their noses at authority. From speakeasies to underhanded villains to celebrated personalities who passed through these Baltimore streets, come down and hear tantalizing tales of a scandalous past.

Westminster Hall (c)http://www.westminsterhall.org/

Westminster Hall Burying Ground 
519 W. Fayette St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Ongoing
Westminster Hall is a beautiful historic building in downtown Baltimore. The Burying Grounds are the final resting place of many famous people, including the “Nevermore” famous Edgar Allan Poe and General James McHenry.

Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum
203 North Amity Street, Baltimore, MD
Weekends, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. through December 28, 2014

The refurbished National Historic Landmark, where Poe lived from 1833 to 1835 is open to visitors on a seasonal schedule or by appointment. Visitors can walk on the same floors, stairs and wander within the original plaster walls and woodwork that Edgar lived with.

Fell Family Crypt
1600 Shakespeare St., Baltimore, MD 21224Visit the final resting place of Fell’s Point founders, the Fell family. Learn about the beginnings of Fell’s Point and find out which member from the Fell family can be seen walking along Shakespeare Street toward the family’s grave site.

Fort McHenry (c)https://www.facebook.com/FtMcHenryNPS

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
2400 E. Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230
Ongoing: 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

With more than 200 years of history, Fort McHenry has its share of legends, such as secret tunnels, ghostly apparitions and strange noises. Explore the ramparts and learn the history of the fort through these exciting stories that blend history, folklore, the humorous and the unexplainable.

Maryland Zoo(c)http://instagram.com/marylandzoo

Family Fun Attractions:

For some family fun, Baltimore’s attractions are filled with thrilling and chilling events and activities including the Maryland Zoo’s ZooBOOO! with FREE trick-or-treating, costume contests, fun carnival games, crafts, and live entertainment; AVAM’s Free Fall Halloween Celebration including a hair-raising outdoor movie screening and lantern-making workshops; and the Maryland Science Center’s Spooky Science where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. Don’t miss out on the Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival in Patterson Park, where more than a dozen artists will create special floats and lanterns full of brilliant hues.

For a full list of happenings, visit http://baltimore.org/spirits.

Haunted Gettsyburg

Haunted Gettysburg

As the hot summer air eases into a cool fall breeze and the leaves begin to change color, everything in Gettysburg seems to intensify. October is the perfect time to visit the region … for more than just fall foliage and the apple harvest.

Visitors can feel the electricity in the air as Halloween edges closer and tales of the hauntings around town become more relevant. With over eight ghost tours, visitors have the chance to experience paranormal encounters they hadn’t bargained for.

With its tragic history as one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War, it’s no wonder many believe Gettysburg to be one of the most haunted places in the world. The historic town has been deemed everything from one of the top haunted spots in America to one of the spookiest places to spend the night. Many of the most famous sites in and around Gettysburg have been featured on television shows, such as the History Channel, A&E, the Travel Channel and Syfy.

Haunted Gettysburg

“Gettysburg is the place to be during this time of the year,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. “Visitors are looking for a way to get in the Halloween spirit while enjoying the change of season, and what better way than to spend a few days exploring Gettysburg.”

Every night, ghost tours walk the streets, as guides adorned in period clothing with lanterns tell stories about the people who once lived and fought here – and whose spirits are said to still linger. From the Belle of Baltimore on Culp’s Hill to the Blue Boy at Gettysburg College, there are hundreds of ghost stories to hear, and each guide has their own personal experiences to share. Every ghost tour company offers unique tours around the town –main streets, back alleys and inside some of these haunted buildings. Some companies even offer ghost hunts, where equipment is provided to visitors and they are lead to investigate some of Gettysburg’s haunted sites.

All haunted locations, such as the Sachs (Covered) Bridge, Farnsworth Inn House, Jennie Wade House, Cashtown Inn and the Dobbin House, are open to the public for both historical and haunted tours year-round. Visitors can spend the day learning the history of the sites, such as the tragic death of the only civilian casualty in the Battle of Gettysburg, Jennie Wade. But by night, be prepared to hear tales about how Jennie still haunts her sister’s home, and even spend the midnight hour in the museum’s cellar. Visitors tell stories of getting their hair yanked or the cellar doors rattling.

There is a reason visitors flock to Gettysburg and the surrounding area this time of the year; the fall foliage and crisp October air set the perfect scene for a ghost tour around the historic Civil War town during the spookiest month of the year.

Destination Gettysburg (formerly, the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau), the official destination marketing organization, markets Gettysburg – Adams County as a premier travel destination, producing a positive economic impact.

Read more of my Gettysburg experiences (including haunted experiences) here:

Visiting Gettysburg, PA

Best Place to Take A Ghost Tour