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As we traveled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons recently, we had the occasion to visit one of the remaining classic motor hotels (The Hatchet) that were so popular back in the 50’s and 60’s.  Just one night was enough to remind us why they were so great, and why in a number of cases, the new breed hotels just don’t measure up.

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Just a few advantages that come to mind immediately:

  • From your car to your bed – six seconds.
  • No waiting for elevators
  • No tipping the pushy bellman that insist on taking your bags
  • Forgot something in your car? Get it and back to the room – ten seconds.
  • No long walks down endless corridors

The Hatchet Resort – Moran, Wyoming

Built in 1954, this historic motor lodge retains much of its original charm with log cabin styling and convenient park-right-outside-your-door convenience. Fitting perfectly with the mountains in the distance, this is what you would expect to find here if you could roll back the calendar 60 years.

Luckily for guests, the new owners of the property have recently remodeled all the rooms and suites to include modern conveniences.  Expect abundant use of wood for wall paneling, ceilings and furniture. All rooms seem to be decorated with a distinct western or native American flair.

The location is perfect if you’ll be visiting the two neighboring National Parks.  Grand Teton is just minutes away and Yellowstone is only about an hour away.

We stayed in one of the corner suites (cabin 35) and were quite comfortable in this spacious unit. Oversized bed and pullout sofa dominated the room with open wooden ceiling beams and large windows looking out to the wildness. Occasionally one of their horses would wander by while grazing on the lawn surrounding the hotel.

The bathroom was very large with walk-in shower and waterfall shower head. Rustic ceramic floor tiles complemented the wood wainscot paneling.

Internet is an additional $3.00 charge and took quite a while to connect. Once I got online, it worked consistently the entire evening. I’ll never understand why hotels don’t just provide Internet as these days just about everyone expects it, and it’s irritating to have to pay extra for it.

After checking in and getting a nice shower, we wandered over to the Whetstone Grill for dinner.  Very friendly and accommodating staff and nice menu selections.  We each ordered one of the daily specials and were delighted with our selections (ribs and salmon.) I tried a local microbrew with my dinner and it was good as well.

In the morning, we were one of the last to leave – staying right up until 11 a.m.  We’d been away from home for a week and a half already and it felt good to just relax before we hit the road again.

Take a couple minutes to look around the gift shop next to the registration desk.  We found some great little souvenirs there.

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And since you’re in the neighborhood, consider Sheridan, WY as another stop.

Cheyenne, WY, although at the other end of the state, is also worth a visit.

Bring back the old motor hotel As we traveled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons recently, we had the occasion to visit one of the remaining classic motor hotels (The Hatchet) that were so popular back in the 50’s and 60’s. 

Since the Wild West Days, Cheyenne has grown up into a wonderfully diverse city.  Beautiful parks and modern conveniences still rub shoulders with historic buildings and a rich historic past. Depending on your attention to detail, this is easily a multiple-day destination.

Cheyenne Depot

Look up from anywhere in town and chances are you’ll see the pointed tower of the Cheyenne Depot.

In the main lobby area you’ll be able to buy your trolley tickets and pick up a number of good brochures. Here you’ll also find the entrance to the Cheyenne Depot Museum.

If you prefer to explore Cheyenne on your own, there’s a great brochure to look for called Downtown Cheyenne Historic Walking Tour. This will give you the option of three tours: .7, 1.3 or 1.9 miles in length.  You could also drive them if you have someone in the group who would rather not walk.

The brochure gives just a brief history and then talks about 79 historic sites to see.  Very well done and available for free from the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority.

Cheyenne Depot Museum

I had the chance to wander through the Cheyenne Depot Museum while waiting for the trolley tour to start.  Interesting collection of Union Pacific railway memorabilia as it relates to Cheyenne’s past as a real rail center.  I never realized how much some western towns depended on the railway for their development.

Upstairs is an extensive model railroading display, built from scratch, all done by one man – Mr. Harry S. Brunk.  The scenes depict a number of different towns and areas and are all done to honestly replicate what that town actually looked like during the railroad’s heyday. The work is incredibly detailed and beautifully done.

Children will probably need to be held by parents to see the displays as they are all mounted about 48” above the floor.  People in wheel chairs will probably just be able to see them. Downstairs there is a “train playroom” that younger children will enjoy. My grandson can play with train sets like this for hours on end.

Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley

Never having been to Cheyenne before, and only having one day to see it, we opted for the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley tour.  In 90 minutes, you’ll get to see the city’s highlight’s and top attractions. The tour is fully narrated and you can get on and off at a number of attractions. You can then get back on about 90 minutes later and continue on from where you left off.

Our particular tour was driven and narrated by a gal who tried a little too hard, projected her voice way too much, and was only marginally humorous. Not sure what age group she was trying to appeal to, but there weren’t a lot of laughs coming from anyone on the bus.

Also, if you are a photographer, you’ll want to get off the bus at the various stops to get any decent pictures. Most of the sights were either too close or too far away from the bus for any usable pictures while on the tour.

Those two things aside, the tour does take you to some sights you’ll want to explore and your trolley ticket gets you in free at the:

  • Cheyenne Depot Museum
  • Nelson Museum of the West
  • Wyoming State Museum
  • Wyoming State Capital
  • Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum
  • Historic Governors Mansion
  • F.E. Warren ICBM & Heritage Museum (that’s InterContinental Ballistic Missile for you kids) (not actually on the trolley tour – they can’t drive on base at this time.)

Not only that, when you are touring, you can get free audio tours to explain the museums on your own cellphone.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

If you prefer horse drawn vehicles to trains, then be sure to stop at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.  This is reportedly one of the largest collections of historic-horse drawn vehicles in the country.  Just try to picture traveling across country in one of these babies, doing maybe 6 m.p.h.  Yikes!

Nagle Warren Mansion

We only spent one night in the Nagle Warren Mansion and it wasn’t enough. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Cheyenne.

This was just an amazingly beautiful place, one where I wished I had hours to wander and take in all the architectural details.  I did do an indoor photo safari and got some great shots, but I would have loved to have had more time to focus on the details. Just extremely well done.

We stayed in the carriage house on the first floor (the Marie Pershing Room) in what is a completely handicapped accessible room with wide doors, walk or roll-in Roman shower plus a small soaking tub and easy access out to the side door. A power lift is available to lift a wheel chair up the three stairs to the dining room if you needed that.

I think the photos will speak for themselves in a lot of ways, but they can’t explain how quiet a setting this was.  Our room opened onto a little private garden where my wife enjoyed sitting and reading.  We had an appointment for the following morning, and if it weren’t for that, we would have stuck around until they kicked us out.

The breakfast was amazing, both in terms of menu and conversation.  Jim, the owner, joined us for a while and his pride in this place is very evident.  Everyone there that morning was in great spirits and we traded travel stories and ideas of places to visit nearby.

Internet and cable TV were welcome amenities in this historic mansion.  Really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

For more information to help planning a trip to Cheyenne, try these resources:

http://www.cheyenne.org/

http://www.cheyennecity.org/index.aspx?NID=2108

http://www.cheyennedepotmuseum.org/

http://www.wyomingtourism.org/

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And since you’re in the neighborhood, consider Sheridan, WY as another stop.

Experience the spirit of the Wild West in Cheyenne, WY #travel Since the Wild West Days, Cheyenne has grown up into a wonderfully diverse city.  Beautiful parks and modern conveniences still rub shoulders with historic buildings and a rich historic past.

Doing a Wild West road trip?  If so, consider adding Sheridan, WY as one of your stops along the way.  We did just that recently, stopping here between Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.  It’s perfectly located about half-way between.

Sheridan, WY

Our first matter of business was to grab some lunch as we left Yellowstone early without taking time for breakfast.  Luckily, we landed in Frackelton’s Fine Food & Spirits.  It was drizzling outside but quite warm and friendly inside.  Great staff made us feel quite at home and brought some great drinks while we perused the menu.

Hadn’t had corn beef for a while, so I opted for the Reuben.  Perfectly toasted bread and a good-sized serving of corn beef made a great sandwich.  The French Fries were outstanding as well.  Luckily the rain stopped by the time we finished, or I might have wanted to spend the afternoon there.

Frankleton’s, 55 N. Main St.; Sheridan, WY; 307.675.6055; https://www.facebook.com/Frackeltons

Luckily the clouds broke soon enough to keep an appointment I’d made with Out West Segways Tours, close by, also on Main Street.  This had been on my bucket list for too long and I was really anxious to master the art of riding a Segway.

Met Gina at their storefront and got an introductory riding lesson in their back room.  Literally, in 10 or 15 minutes, I felt like I had pretty good control and we were off, out into the city streets.

They offer a variety of tours in direction and in length, and tours go out three times a day: 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.

Sheridan should be better known for its beautiful bikeways.  They have over 13 miles of them, connecting some fabulous parks and points of interest. On a Segway, without even speeding, you can see twice as much in half the time.  It’s a truly wonderful way to sight-see.

I wanted to take pictures as I went, so I was curious as to whether I would have to dismount each time to hold my camera steady. Turns out I didn’t, the Segway would balance pretty still most of the time.

Gina led us to some great historic places as well as to see an interesting herd of buffalo and elk. I think the elk are shy, as they managed to hide the entire time we were there.  There were a whole herd of deer roaming free across the street however, doing their best to take the elk’s place.

Segway’s are now right up there as one of my favorite modes of transportation.

Out West Segway Tours; 117 N. Main St.; Sheridan WY;  307.675.1145; http://outwestsegwaytours.com/

After my Segway ride, it was time to watch somebody else ride, and we headed to the Fairgrounds for the Thursday night edition of the Sheridan Cowgirls Association Rodeo.  Free for all, come on out and pull up a bleacher seat.

Sheridan-1733

Hint:  When you pull into the Sheridan County Fairgrounds and you see the entire stands empty, don’t despair.  Pull around back – all the action is out there – not in the main ring.

The Cowgirls Association event is an all-night thing, continuing until the sun goes down.  There was pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, and much more.

Watching some of these young ladies ride and rope was pretty inspiring.  Watching some of the little kids (maybe 5 or 6 years old) ride was nothing short of amazing.  It was a fun time and the price was right.

Sheridan County Fairgrounds; 1753 Victoria St.; Sheridan, WY 82801; 307.672.2079; http://www.sherfair.com/

After what turned out to be a beautiful summer evening, we grabbed a quick sundae at GoodTimes Burger & Frozen Custard and then headed to our room at Holiday Inn Convention Center.

Super convenient location.  Right off the freeway and close to many fast food joints, this really worked well for us.

Being a convention center, the hotel had a much larger lobby than I expected and I really enjoy a big public space like that with the soothing sounds of the large waterfall going continuously.

Our room was spacious, clean and quiet as well.  We overlooked the lobby on the second floor. Internet worked well and had no connection issues like so many hotels.

Appreciated the hot coffee and hot water for tea in the lobby next to the reception desk.  A nice touch.

Our only regret was that we had to leave about 5 a.m. the following morning so we missed the breakfast service.  I had been told that it was outstanding. Maybe next time we’ll plan better.

Sheraton Holiday Inn; 1809 Sugarland Drive; Sheridan, WY 82801; 307.672.8931; http://www.ihg.com

Leaving early the next morning, we had missed the Farmers Market and a number of cute shops along Main Street. Sheridan, we didn’t allow enough time to visit you adequately; so, we’ll have to come back again.

Horsing around in Sheridan, WY #travel #Wyoming Doing a Wild West road trip?  If so, consider adding Sheridan, WY as one of your stops along the way. 

In the last article we discussed a number of fun activities to be enjoyed in northern County Donegal while you are traversing the Wild Atlantic Way, but we glossed over where to eat and sleep.  We’ll rectify that right now.

Rathmullan

Rathmullan House is a 4-star luxury hotel that has some of the most beautiful interior spaces. Wandering the first floor, each room has its own distinct design, but every room is just as grand as the one before.  The restaurant is also on the first floor and served a marvelous buffet of delicacies. The Potted Pork served in small white ramakins was to die for and they kept refreshing the supply as quickly as we devoured it.

Downstairs, they’ve recreated a pub-like atmosphere that is truly inviting.   A great bar with local micro-brews has turned into a popular neighborhood attraction.

Whether you’ve come for a relaxing massage, for the 15 meter indoor pool, or for the two mile beach, you can let your cares drift away in this idyllic location.

Dunfanaghy

Arnold’s Hotel started in 1922 and has grown to 30 rooms.  The family has continuously managed the hotel since its inception and the fourth generation is now beginning to become involved.  Situated across the street from the Killhoey beach (another Blue Flag Beach), the hotel has all sorts of recreational opportunities for guests. From surfing to cycling (e-bikes are available) to 18 holes of golf, it’s all nearby. They even have their own stables. (Read about riding on the beach and in the dunes.) Lunch here was a wonderful meal with some of the best brown bread in all of Ireland.

Downings

The Rossapenna Hotel & Golf Resort is where we met up with Grassroutes electric bikes for our ride along Atlantic Drive.  Beautifully set across from Sheephaven Bay, this is known for its golf courses.  Didn’t have the opportunity to play here, but according to their website:

“Golfers have been travelling to Rosapenna since the late 19th century when the Old Tom Morris links was ranked 3rd in the British Isles behind St.Andrews and Royal County Down. It was for this reason that great golfers of their time Harry Vardon, James Braid and Tom Ball holidayed in Rosapenna.

In 2003 Rosapenna Golf Resort opened it’s second course the Sandy Hills links designed by Pat Ruddy of European Club fame. In its relatively short lifetime Sandy Hills has been met with rave reviews and steadily climbed the rankings as it matures into one of Ireland’s finest modern links courses.”

rosapenna

The hotel rooms were spacious and quite, quite comfortable. My room overlooked Sheephaven Bay and although it was low tide, with the window open, you could still hear the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore.  I especially liked the dark wooden vanity below the huge bowl sink in the restroom.

The Varden Restaurant is where you’ll dine and the food was wonderful. Enjoyed both dinner and breakfast here before we left.

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Click here for the index of all Wild Atlantic Way articles in this series

Previous article in the Wild Atlantic Way series: Donegal part one

Next article in the Wild Atlantic Way series:  Southern County Donegal – part three

Why travel the Wild Atlantic Way? [Infographic]

Three amazing places to stay in northern County Donegal #travel #WildAtlanticWay In the last article we discussed a number of fun activities to be enjoyed in northern County Donegal…

Toughest, coldest, cooler on the block – Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler

We were heading out west for a 2-1/2 week road trip that would take us through much of Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska. 

Fall festivals, great wine & Indian tribal dances - ToDo Tuesday 8/27/14 edition

Fall festivals, great wine & Indian tribal dances – ToDo Tuesday 8/27/14 edition

Every few weeks, we scan our deluge of press releases and look for great travel opportunities, around Cleveland, around the country and around the world.  ToDo Tuesday’s wraps up some of the best reasons we’ve found this week to get off the couch, grab the camera and get outside to have some travel fun.  Hopefully we’ll maybe see you at one of these events.  If you’re coming, drop us a line.

Add…

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My other article detailed a number of attractions to enjoy while in Annapolis, and this one will keep you well fed, and housed in luxury.

If you’re hungry:

Naval Academy

While touring the Naval Academy, if the hungers hit, you’ve got a few choices. The Naval Academy Club offers fine dining at lunchtime for all visitors (Monday through Friday only.)  For more casual (family) dining, think about the Drydock Restaurant in the lower level of Dahlgren Hall.  Good looking pizza and a host of bar food will keep the family happy until the next meal.

Drydock, Restaurant; 103 Fullam Court; US Naval Academy; Annapolis, MD 20402; (410) 293-2873 ; http://www.usnabsd.com/naval-academy-dining/

Annapolis Ice Cream Company

I never had ice cream I could roll up on my spoon like this before.  A totally unique ice cream experience, but as much fun as that was, the taste was even better.  I had Salted Caramel that was out of this word. Butter Pecan with brown sugar and Raspberry Chocolate Chip also looked amazing.

Great place for kids.  They let them all decorate spoons and then display gazillions on their walls, all indexed and cataloged.

Annapolis Ice Cream Company; 196 Main St.; Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 293-2873; http://annapolisicecream.com/

The Boatyard Bar & Grill

The Boatyard has been a favorite in the Annapolis area since opening in 2001.  Whether you own a sailboat or just love watching them sail, you’ll feel right at home in this nautically inspired restaurant along restaurant row. Part restaurant and part nautical museum, you won’t run out of paintings and artifacts to admire while you eat.

From their Finley’s Fantabulous Fish Tacos to their amazing Smith Island cake (the official Maryland State dessert), you’ll find a huge menu to satisfy all appetites.

Boatyard Bar & Grill; 400 4th Street; Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 216-6206; http://www.boatyardbarandgrill.com/

Chick & Ruth’s Delly

Every morning at 8:30 a.m., owner Ted Levitt stops everything in this bustling Annapolis eatery. With Ted on the microphone, everyone stands and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. 60 seconds later, it’s back to breakfast. Oh, and their signature Seasoned Crab Omelets are huge and delicious. If that doesn’t fill you, try their 6 pound milk shake…seriously, it’s the largest milkshake in the world.

All their sandwiches are made on homemade rye.  Their seafood club sandwich comes with a jumbo lump crab cake and shrimp salad. Anything I saw looked awesome.

Chick & Ruth’s Delly; 165 Main Street; Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 269-6737; http://www.chickandruths.com/

Ready to relax?

Loews Annapolis Hotel

From the pillow top mattress to the luxurious terry bath robes, Loews Annapolis place speaks comfort. They’ve just completed a two-year renovation of the entire facility and you’d think this is a brand new building.  The rooms and lobbies are all in excellent shape.

My room (351) was spacious and well appointed.  The desk was a decent size (30×60) with good lighting, four desktop 110v outlets and one USB charging port. The room had an abundant Keurig coffee setup in addition to a mini fridge below the 48-inch+ flat-screen TV. (Bring your own Keurig K-cups. My only complaint was the coffee brand they supplied – Diedrich Coffee was really substandard to my taste buds.)

Deep wide dresser drawers supplemented some nice open shelving below the two night tables.

Mine was a king room and the bed was extremely comfortable (it keeps calling me and I’m doing the best I can to resist.)

The room is simply and tastefully done in a nautical palette of blues, ivories and tans. White crown mold accents the ceiling line and the walls are done in an attractive stucco finish. Wonderful black and white photos are matted and framed in the bedroom and bath.

The bathroom is very comfortable, yet extremely well appointed.  A bowed curtain rod with split curtains looks nice, but keeps all your shower water in the tub where it belongs. The bow in the rod makes a large bath feel even roomier. A Speakman shower head lets you concentrate the water flow to massage strength if you’ve got a sore back. A pull out, magnifying mirror lets you find those slight imperfections after shaving. Even though this was not a “handicapped” room, most seniors will enjoy the low step-in height when stepping into the tub.

Back in April when I visited, Loews Hotel chain was having a National Grilled Cheese Month feature at each of their hotels. Annapolis called their creation “It’s Better by the Bay” and it included jumbo lump crabmeat, crab dip, cheddar cheese, asparagus, apple bacon and was served on brioche.  It came with large fries and was marvelous.  Kudos to the chef at WEST, Bar and Grill.

Loews Hotel Annapolis

For those of you with dogs, remember that Loews loves pets.  Your dog will get their own water bowl at check in and there’s a dog exercise area just outside. On the last Friday of the month, check out their “Canines and Cocktails” events, with proceeds going to help various shelters and rescues.

While everyone seems to get out and jog in Annapolis, if you’re an inside exerciser, this place is for you. They have one of the best equipped exercise rooms I’ve ever seen at a hotel with multiple machines for all the popular routines.

Loews Annapolis Hotel; 126 West Street; Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 263-7777; http://www.loewshotels.com/Annapolis-Hotel

For more suggesgtions of things to do in Annapolis, click here.

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Seafood lovers rejoice in Annapolis, MD #travel My other article detailed a number of attractions to enjoy while in Annapolis, and this one will keep you well fed, and housed in luxury.

Quick – where is Pennsylvania’s seashore?  Trying to imagine Philadelphia with some waterfront property?  Nope – that’s just the Delaware River. As big as Pennsylvania is, the only seashore is right here in Erie, Pa.

Presque Isle State Park

In actuality, the longest strand makes up Presque Isle State Park  in Erie. There’s over 3,200 acres on this sandy peninsula and it’s used for all types of recreation.  Open year round, more than four million visitors used the park last year. That’s more than visited Yellowstone.

Presque Isle State Park

Riding the entire roadway loop around the peninsula means a trip of 13 miles, but there are a number of cut-through trails. Don’t be surprised to find dozens of bikers or runners, as there are innumerable races here each year.

Wandering the entire park, you’ll find a number of photo worthy stopping points, including the lighthouse, which has been shining its beacon for over 140 years. Actually there are two of them. There’s also the tall Perry Monument, paying respect to the heroic man and his crew who were the first to ever defeat and capture an entire English war ship convoy.

Houseboats

While it’s not a tourist attraction, there’s a fascinating houseboat community here, protected by Presque Isle’s peninsula.

Bring your running shoes, your bike, your volleyball, your fishing rod, your picnic basket, your bird-watching binoculars, your bathing suit and/or your boat.  There’s lots to do in this wonderfully protected bay created by this constantly changing peninsula.

The Presque Isle peninsula is constantly changing shape.

The Presque Isle peninsula is constantly changing shape.

ADA accessible restrooms, fishing areas, picnic tables and pavilions as well as parking areas can be found in numerous locations throughout the park.  Beach 7 also provides handicap access to the water’s edge.

Campers, there is no camping in Presque Isle State Park, but immediately outside the park area, you’ll find Sara’s Campground with over 100 sites, many right on the beach. Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World are located adjacent to the campground. There’s no lack of things to do in Erie.

Tom Ridge Environmental Center

Located just up the hill from the state park is the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC), a LEED certified, 65,000 square foot facility that will help you understand the topography, geology, flora and fauna of the area.  Wonderful exhibits cover a wealth of topics and are designed to be interactive.

As soon as you enter, check the movie schedule – they’ve got a number of good ones and you can arrange your stay around the show times. The 15 minute presentation in the Erie Insurance Orientation Theater is great for a quick overview of Presque Isle State Park.

Be sure to go up the elevator to the lookout tower with amazing views of the shoreline and the peninsula. Feeling energetic?  Walk down the 143 steps.

If possible, sign up for a guided tour, and you’ll be able to go into the private research labs where they study some of the strangest creatures found in the area.

trec-9380

While I’m not a big gift shop person, I’ve got to give kudos to the gift shop here.  Lots of nice things you’ll want to view and probably take home.

Getting hungry

On my last trip to Erie, I tried a couple new places that were definitely worth a repeat trip back.  For lunch we stopped at U Pick 6 Tap House in downtown Erie.  This cozy bar serves a great selection of beers on tap as well as a full menu of food items. They offer 22 different beers on tap as well as a beer engine.

I had an Italian ‘boli that was delicious.  Also check out their sandwiches, flatbreads and specialty pizzas. Dine inside or out, depending on the weather.

U Pick 6 Tap House, 333 State Street at the corner of 4th, suite 110 | (814)520-5419

For dinner, we pulled up out front of one of the historic downtown firehouses, built in 1908, which now houses The Pufferbelly.  When the firehouse was decommissioned in 1979, it sat vacant some time before the present owners lovingly restored it. It now bears testament to the brave bunch of men who protected this neighborhood for years.  Mementos and photos from years gone by cover the walls for a very interesting atmosphere.

But the food is the real star here.  You know you’ve come to the right place with your first mouthful of their heavenly appetizers. Big enough to share, we tried a couple different ones and they were all outstanding.

My main course was a honey-dill glazed salmon steak over a bed of fresh spinach, lightly tossed with a zesty dill dressing and accented with green apple and toasted almonds.

As good as the food is, you might want to save room for dessert – their dessert selections all sound amazing.  You’ll love everything about this place.  The staff and the food are as good as you’ll find anywhere.

The Pufferbelly; 414 French Street; Erie, PA 16511 | (814) 454-1557    

If sweets are your thing, there’s a family owned chocolatier that you’ll want to add to your itinerary. Pulako’s Chocolates. They’ve got three locations, one actually next door to The Pufferbelly and then their manufacturing facility and store is on Parade Street.

Founder George Pulakos started making chocolates in his home and pushed a cart around Philadelphia back in 1889. In 1903 he packed up and moved family and business to Erie, where eventually he opened his first store at 926 State Street.

 

Since then, four generations have continued making his specialty chocolates and have come up with some amazing new creations of their own.

Tours of the facility are available for groups. Each lasts about 25 minutes and ends with some sampling and time available for shopping.  It doesn’t get much sweeter than this.  Definitely worth a stop.

Pulakos Chocolates; 2530 Parade Street; Erie, PA 16503 | (814) 452-4026

Want more reasons to come to Erie, read about their great wineries. 

Erie, PA - where fun and food abounds #travel #VisitErie Quick – where is Pennsylvania’s seashore?  Trying to imagine Philadelphia with some waterfront property?  Nope – that’s just the Delaware River.

Going back a decade or so, I recall a rather dull drive through downtown Sandusky, Ohio.  On my latest visit, I couldn’t believe the change.  Cool looking buildings, nice parks, and great places to eat and to play. Nice going Sandusky – you’re definitely a hip place to visit once again.

Sandusky is only minutes from the world famous Cedar Point, but most park goers probably pass right by on their way to the park. Whoops, your bad.  You are missing a great place to visit with some cool attractions and some great restaurants, even a speakeasy.

You gotta visit

Dozens of buildings, even blocks of buildings have been restored and are currently filling with a host of new businesses.  As I walked with Jason Werling, chief photographer and director of multimedia for the Sandusky Register, he pointed out new businesses, one after another.  Sure, some old ones are still here, but the vibe is new and exciting once again.

Highlight of the visit was a trip to the Merry-Go-Round Museum where expert woodsmiths and painters painstakingly and lovingly restore some of these past relics to better than new condition.  Did you know there are three distinctly different kinds of merry-go-round horses? With a working carousel in the center of the museum, anyone who appreciates the memories of these fun rides is certain to love a slow wander around the dozens of pieces collected here.

You gotta eat and drink

Brand new back in June when I was there was the Small City Taphouse.  With a most impressive wall of taps, you can select from dozens of draft microbrews.  They also have wine for those who prefer the bigger bottles.  And, be sure to try their appetizers – just awesome.  They’ve taken what was rumored to be one of the worst building interiors and turned it into a lively place filled with locals.

We stopped for dinner later at the Zinc Brasserie.  No less lively, it’s a bit quieter here and the emphasis is on really great French-inspired food.  There’s a full bar, a great wine list and a couple dozen entrees to select from on the menu.  I had their version of surf and turf and it was amazing.  I’ll be back for sure.

Capping off the night, as the sun begins to set over Lake Erie, find your way to Volsted, maybe the city’s first legal speakeasy.  But you gotta know the code. Either go to their website www.volsteadbar.com or look at their front window for some green lights.  It they are illuminated, there are that many seats available.  If the lights are off, you’ll have to try back later.  But, do try back – it’s worth the visit.

The Volstead used to be Dorn Winery and later, the Green Door Brothel (but that’s another story.) Now, it’s a bar downstairs and home to Green Door Mediaworks, a PR firm upstairs. Drinks are hand crafted and there’s two pages to pick from.  They also have reds, whites and sparkling wines.  Once you’re in, you won’t leave thirsty.

You gotta play

You don’t head to this Lake Erie Shores and Islands’ part of the country without thinking about having some amusement/water park fun and there’s nothing like Cedar Point.  Acknowledged around the globe as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” you won’t find anything else even close to this amazing park.

With over 70 rides and their world-record roller coasters, this is the place to go for family fun activity. You can easily spend a day in the sun or you can find enough to do in the shade that every single person in your party is going to go home happy.  With over a mile of sandy beach, parasailing & water ski rentals, a marina and Soak City Waterpark – if water’s your thing, they’ve got you covered.  If you want to just wander and eat – three dozen food vendors will fill every last inch in your stomach.  Want to be entertained while you don’t move a muscle – there’s almost a dozen live entertainment venues. There’s a reason it’s been voted “Best Amusement Park in the World” for the past 16 years by Amusement Today readers.

You gotta sleep

There are two ways to spend the night at Cedar Point –with very different vibes.  Check them out on the website. Plus, there are three more places operated by Cedar Point, all within minutes of the park that include discounted tickets to the park.

I spent a night at Castaway Bay and was quite delighted with this combination hotel and indoor waterpark.  Perfect for families with kids, they can run all around and you’ll be happy to know they are somewhere within the same four walls where they started. With giant water tube slides and a huge wave pool, the water park is perfect for little ones or teens. Multiple food outlets within the facility mean you’d never have to leave.  Yet, the rooms are quiet and quite spacious.  It’s a great place to spend a night or a long weekend.

You gotta GO

Quit reading – make plans to get to Sandusky – now.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Sandusky shines again – it’s alive Going back a decade or so, I recall a rather dull drive through downtown Sandusky, Ohio.  On my latest visit, I couldn’t believe the change. 

There’s something to be said for being first – sort of akin to being best. Either is good but being both is great. Harrodsburg, KY can certainly lay claim to both.

Turns out that Harrodsburg was the first English settlement west of the Alleghenies when it was founded in 1774. It is also home to America’s largest restored Shaker village.  From the simple elegance of the Shaker architecture to the plethora of architectural examples in historic downtown Harrodsburg, I can honestly recommend it as a destination for anyone who appreciates great design.

Photographers, woodcrafters, & history buffs are going to find this place irresistible. The days we spent here were dreary, cold, cloudy, and rain was threatening most of the time…but my shutter finger never left my camera.  There was that much to photograph.

Fort Harrod

Completed a year after the town’s founding, Fort Harrod was instrumental in protecting Kentucky’s first inhabitants.  In 1927, today’s replica was opened to preserve the memory of this first western outpost.

Fort Harrod State Park

Cabins and blockhouses can be toured when the fort is open.  Buildings are complete with furnishings and tools actually used by the pioneers.  Small animals can be found in holding pens within the fort.

A park surrounds the fort with picnic areas and a gift shop.  Look for the (unofficial) largest Osage-orange tree in the nation in the park grounds.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

In 1805, a group of Shakers settled here, establishing an area they named Pleasant Hill.  As the group grew to almost 500 men, women and children in the 1820’s, they kept adding acreage until they reached more than 4,000 acres.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, the Shaker community entered a period of decline and now Shakers can only be found in New England.

Today, 3,000 of those acres are maintained and 34 of the buildings are operated as a 501 (c)(3) insuring preservation of this National Historic Landmark. While the Shakers designed their buildings and furnishings quite simply, the stairways are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere.  So graceful and so elegant, they are not to be missed.

Shaker Village stairways

Shaker Village operates a seed-to-table restaurant (The Trustee’s Office Dining Room) with a menu of homegrown selections that is just amazing and you can even spend the night if you are lucky enough to get a reservation at the Inn at Shaker Village. Whether you come for hours or days, this is a place you deserve to add to your must-do list.

Downtown Harrodsburg

While not necessarily showing signs of its rugged pioneer past, downtown Harrodsburg is a great place to wander and soak up all the various architectural styles of the last couple centuries.  From unique storefronts to quaint homes to the wealth of church architecture, there’s bound to be something that appeals to everyone.  Allow an hour just to wander the few blocks around downtown and read the historical plaques to appreciate the history of this area.

Catch a play at the Ragged Edge Community Theatre, check out the artwork at the Arts Council for Mercer County Studio Gallery, marvel at the huge farm implement sculpture in the County Library or drop in Dedman’s Drugstore/Kentucky Fudge for some refreshment. Or, a block over from Main Street is the Olde Bus Station, where a sign on the wall proclaims “Free Beer – tomorrow.”

Spend the night

If you’ve arrived in Harrodsburg by following the Bourbon Trail, you owe it to yourself to reserve a night or two at historic Beaumont Inn, Kentucky’s oldest family-operated country inn. Originally built as a prestigious girl’s boarding school in 1845, the family has been hosting guests here since 1918.  Now the fifth generation continues to offer the same fabulous service and food which has earned the inn national acclaim.

If you are a Bourbon aficionado, you should plan ahead to get a seat at the private, premium bourbon tasting events hosted by Dixon Dedman here at the Inn. Not only will you be able to taste some of the most famous, and expensive, of all the bourbons available, he will equip you with enough Bourbon tales to last a lifetime.  Most instructional and enjoyable!  If you’ve still got room for more, head downstairs later and order from over 75 different Bourbons available in the Old Owl Tavern or the Owl’s Nest Lounge.

Beaumont Inn

Rooms overlook their 33-acre park and are outfitted with beautiful antique furnishings.  Be ready for a great complimentary breakfast in the morning with their signature cornmeal batter cakes with brown sugar syrup. Before you leave, be sure to stroll through their lengthy, well-stocked, Kentucky-crafted gift shop for all sorts of treasures you never knew existed.

More information

For more information on Harrodsburg, contact Harrodsburg/Mercer County Tourist Commission at 800-355-9192.

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Harrodsburg – a must-see in Kentucky #travel #BourbonTrail There’s something to be said for being first – sort of akin to being best. Either is good but being both is great.