10 Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah

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10 Things to Do in salt lake city

I know that when you think vacation, Salt Lake City isn’t the first place that pops to mind, but if you are looking for a really family friendly atmosphere, you may want to give it another look.  Turns out, there are TONS of things to do in Salt Lake.  Everytime I go, I am struck by all of the fun things they have to entertain a family with kids of all ages.

skiing in park city utah

Here’s a couple of suggestions if you find yourself headed that way:

  1. Park City.  It’s just a short drive form SLC, and it is notorious for a reason.  In the winter, you can ski.  In the summer, you can enjoy hikes, local venues, and great food.  If shopping is your thing, they have a pretty big outlet mall.
  2. Temple Square.  LDS or not, Temple Sqaure is beautiful.  It has well-manicured lawns, and if religious history is your thing, you will find plenty of opportunities for it here.  The architecture alone is worth a quick stroll through the grounds.
  3. Cathedral of Madeline.  This is another beautiful church.  Inside, organ music is playing most of the day.
  4. Hogle Zoo.  If you are not from a large city that hosts a zoo, Hogle is a must-see.  They have lots of natural habitat exhibits, elephants, rhinos, giraffes…you know, all the cool animals.
  5. Discovery Gateway.  If you are traveling with younger kids, Discovery Gateway is a HUGE hands-on discovery museum.  You won’t have to worry about them  breaking anything here–everything is meant to be played with.
  6. Sugarhouse Park.  Sugarhouse is the kind of trendy place to live in SLC, and it also boasts a really cool park, with streams, a pond, running trails, and playgrounds.  Time it right, and you might be able to catch a farmer’s market or an outdoor show.
  7. Lagoon.  Okay, so this is actually outside of SLC in Farmington, but it is great amusement park.  It has several roller coasters, and best of all, they let you drag in a cooler to feed and water your kiddos.  On hot days, you can add the water park to your ticket.
  8.  Thanksgiving Point is just a short drive outside of SLC and offers tons of summer concerts and events.  If concerts aren’t your thing, you can just stroll the gardens for free.  They really are impressive.
  9. If you caught some of the World Cup fever recently, you should totally check out a Salt Lake Real game.  It’s their professional soccer team, and the games are rumored to be reaaalllly fun.
  10. Big Cottonwood Canyon.  This is an amazing place to hike, snowshoe, and enjoy family picnics.  The canyon is seriously soooo beautiful anytime of year.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



10 Things to Do in Memphis

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10 Things to Do in Memphis

Memphis is one of those iconic American cities.  It houses so much by way of music culture–and a few years ago on my St. Jude or Bust trip, I had a chance to really check it out.  If you ever get the chance to explore it, here are a couple of must-not-miss stops:

graceland

  1. Graceland.  Elvis is still alive and well in Memphis.  Everyday, hundreds of tourists line up to walk through Elvis’s home, known as Gracaeland.  The decor alone is worth the trip.  It’s a hoot.  Plus, you can see the letters/posters from thousands of still-devoted fans lined along the gates.   It’s craziness.
  2. Peabody Ducks.  The Peabody hotel is famous for their daily duck show.  Each day, you can watch the ducks parade around the very elegant lobby.  What more can I possibly say?  It’s Memphis, baby.Beale St, Memphis
  3. Beale Street.  It really doesn’t matter, Monday through Sunday Beale Street is hopping with live music and BBQ.
  4. Mud Island River Park.  this park is free, and you can take a stroll along the Mississippi River.
  5. Memphis Botanic Garden.  Um, hello, have we met?  Of course you know I am going to include a garden on my list of suggestions.
  6. Memphis Zoo.  This is a great stop if you have little ones.  It’s certainly not the biggest zoo ever, but they do have a Panda bear, which is rad.
  7. Elmwood Cemetery.  Okay, call me nuts, but I LOVE walking through cemeteries.  Memphis has soooo much history–it represents the good, bad, and ugly in our country.
  8. Memphis Rock and Soul Museum.  If you are a music fan, this is a must-stop museum
  9. Slave Haven – This is the former home of the Burlke family, turned small museum.  It was one of the stops for the underground railroad, and it is worth seeing.
  10. Woodruff-Fontaine House.  This is a mansion built in 1870 that is now open to the public as a museum.  It is fully furnished and has mannequins dressed in 1870′s garb, making it a pretty cool little tour.  Fair warning:  there is a doll display that borderlines on creepy.

Have any of you been to Memphis?  What is your favorite thing to do?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

The Catacombes – Paris, France

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bones catacombs paris

While in Paris last spring, The Girl and I made sure to stop at The Catacombes.   We ended up getting there about an hour before closing and barely made it in, but let me tell you Bob, I am glad we did.  It was eerily worth it.

catacombes paris france

The Catacombes are directly under the streets of Paris, in fact, to this day, they actually limit the structural possibilities above ground.  It’s the reason there aren’t really any tall buildings above the Catacombes–structurally, the ground could not withstand the weight load.

grave catacombes paris france

The Catacombes operated as a tomb in Paris beginning in 1786.  It actually began because the Cemetery of the Innocents had started to cause infection problems for the local citizens {that probably says a little something about the times, don’t you think?}.  The Council of State decided to close the Cemetery of the Innocents and move the remains.  At the time, it was decided that unused quarries {now the Catacombes} would make a suitable home for the remains.

In true French tradition, the moving of the remains began, but only by night and with the escort and blessing of priests.  From 1786-1788, they moved the bones in carts to their new resting place.  The Catacombes also began taking the remains of all the cemeteries in Paris in 1814.

Although many of the royals were reported to have visited the Catacombes to quell their curiosity, it didn’t really become a “tourist” destination until the early 19th century.

catacombes parisEven though the walls of bones were artfully stacked, it still seemed like something out of a horror movie.  It’s almost hard to believe that these were real people once.

But as with so many things in Europe, it’s part of history, and I’m glad we were able to see it.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

The Best Fall Road Trips

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The Best Fall Road Trips

I love the idea of road trips.  Packing everything into the car and taking off allows you to experience so much more of the country than a quick airplane flight.  Even when the road is littered with, well, ugliness, it kind of give you a new appreciation for the beauty in things when it is there.

This list of road trips is more of a bucket list than from experience.  It’s all the trips I would like to take…eventually.

  1. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Apparently in about the 3rd week of October the trees are a color that will leave you speechless.  Plus, with the water right there, the reflection adds to the whole experience.  Taking the drive from Washington D.C. to Harpers Ferry is supposed to give you the most bang for your buck.   Plus, once you are there, you might as check out Bolivar Heights, an old civil war battlefield.
  2. Twain’s Great River Road.  Mark Twain  made this adventure iconic and with good reason, the trip down the Mississippi to Hannibal, MO will provide a wall of color in the fall.  It’s a chance to see what inspired one of America’s greatest story tellers.  {Better re-read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer one more time before you go.}  In Hannibal, you can visit Twain’s childhood home.
  3. Coastal Maine.  Start in Portland and make your way up Route 1.  You’ll get to see the trees changing, the lighthouses, and maybe stop off at Cape Elizabeth for a FRESH lobster dinner.
  4. Vermont.  Who doesn’t want to be able to say, “Oh, you should see Vermont in the fall.”  It is legendary for a reason.  It boasts some of the most scenic fall foliage in the country.  The Green Mountain and Mad River Byways are supposed to be pretty spectacular.  Along the way, you can stop off at Cold Hollow Cider Mill and do some cider tasting.  It doesn’t get more fall than that.
  5. Lake Placid, NY.  Getting to experience the color in the Adirondacks {the largest wilderness region in the East U.S.} in the fall would not be the worst thing in the world.  The park is 6 million acres, so there is no shortage of scenic opportunities.  If you time it right, you can hit the Flaming Leaves Festival in Whiteface Mountain.
  6. The Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN.  So, I have to admit, on our St. Jude or Bust trip two summers ago, I had a change to see the foliage in the Smokey Mountains when is was green.  Even with just shades of green, it was spectacular.  I can only imagine what it would look like in the fall.  If you need a little break from the car, Cades Cove is a national park that offers hiking, tours of 19th century homesteads and horseback riding–all while your enveloped in the fall colors.
  7. Gunnison to Crested Butte, Colorado.  The East coast can’t get all of the fall road trip love.  This trip boasts the largest aspen groves in the country.  Your trip will end at Black Canyon National Park in Gunnison.  The canyons alone would be worth the trip.
  8. Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania.  If you are willing to travel about 3 miles on foot, the park boasts 22 waterfalls.  Most of the trees are over 200 years old, so the trees will be something to write home about {if people actually still wrote home, that is.}
  9. Eastern Sierras, CA.  If you start at Coleville and head to Lundy Lake, then continue on to June Lane Loop and Mono Lake.  Finally head through Mammoth Lakes and end in Rock Creek Canyon.  The whole trip will offer foliage from aspens, willows and cottonwoods.  If the lakes aren’t enough, in the fall, you’ll even get to see snow capped mountain peeks.  It will be a “bouquet of color.”  If you don’t mind a bit of a detour, you can stop at Bodie.  It’s the largest preserved ghost town in the West.
  10. The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, Taos, New Mexico.  Not only will the drive loop you from Taos through Eagle Next and Angel Fire, then back to Taos again, it will also offer tons of fall foliage and wildlife {elk, black bears, eagles}.  If you want to get out and stretch your legs, plan on a stop in Elizabethtown.  It’s an old gold mining Ghost Town.

Have any of YOU taken this trips?  Is it worth putting them on my bucket list?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Small Towns in America – Sturbridge, Massachusetts

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Sturbridge, Massachusetts

I was going through some pictures of The Girl {yes, nostalgia has set in} and came across some from our trip to Sturbridge, Massachusetts last winter.  I shared some pictures of the Sturbridge Village Living History Museum last year, but as I scrolled through all of the pictures, I realized I never told you how cool the whole  town was.

horse drawn sleigh Old Sturbridge Village New England Living History Museum

Sturbridge is a tiny little town.  It was first settled in 1729, but still only has about 7,800 residents.  The size totally adds to it’s charm, though.  It’s a totally picturesque village, it kind of reminded me of the movie, Funny Farm with Chevy Chase.  It’s so perfect.

Sturbridge PotteryI took pictures and we bought mugs at Sturbridge Pottery.  All of the pieces were unique, hand thrown, one of a kinders {Shakespeare made up words all of the time, so I’m pretty sure I can make up “kinders”}.  How often does that happen anymore?

publick house sturbridge massachusetts

We had lunch at the Publick House Historic Inn.  The Publick House is one of those quiet little Inn’s that would make an awesome weekend getaway if you lived in the area.  It was opened in 1771, and hosted notable guests like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin all the way to present day actors like John Travolta and Bill Murray.  The dining room serves classic “yankee” dishes.  We had probably the best pot roast and fish and chips on the planet.

If you don’t have time to stop for a full meal, do yourself a favor and at least stop at the Bake Shoppe.  Coffee, tea, and pastries.  Life does not get better, I promise.

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

I’m so glad I got to share this perfect town with The Girl.  Ah, life is bitter-sweet.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland

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10 Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in Dublin, but man-oh-man, there are some seriously cool things to do there.  It is an uh-mazing city, and you really HAVE to see it at least once in  your life.

Here’s some of my favorites:

  1. Stroll through the campus of Trinity College.  It is a BEAUTIFUL campus, and it makes me want to go back to school again.
  2. Hit the National Botanic Gardens.  You know I had to include at least one garden in this list.  These are soooo pretty, and there’s a coffee shop on site to boot.
  3. If possible, schedule your trip around St. Patrick’s Day.  I haven’t been during this time, but have always promised myself I would.  The parade is supposed to be legendary.
  4. Checkout Dublin Castle.    You can take a guided history tour of the castle and the apartments within it.  The apartments are still used to house visiting diplomats, etc.  They use the grounds and building to hold fancy schmancy functions too.
  5. Visit the Chester Beatty Library.  The library is both a library and art museum.  It houses several collections of manuscripts, rare books, and paintings.  It’s known for its eclectic collection of various religious works.
  6. Glasneven Cemetery Museum.  This cemetery and museum offers guided tours–complete with some pretty cool stories.  When you’re done, you can pop off for some lunch at the cafe.  {I know that makes it sound commercialized, but it really is a fascinating walk through history.}
  7. Take a Guinness Brewery Tour.  If nothing else, this tour will blow your mind at how much Guinness is brewed each year.
  8. Farmleigh House and Estate.  This is the former house of the Guinness Family.  It is a massive estate, and if you time it right, you can also enjoy a farmer’s market.
  9. Catch a Rugby game at Croke Park.  Game days are a HUGE deal in Dublin, so before you see the game, make sure to stop off at one of the local pubs to take in the full game day atmosphere.
  10. Hit Cake Cafe.  Ummm, obviously this would not be a full-blown Mavis approved list without a pastry hot spot.  This is a locals’ favorite.  The smell alone is worth stopping in, if you like fresh baked pies and cakes, that is.

Have you been to Dublin?  What are your must-sees?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Does Public Transportation Lead to Weight Loss?

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picture in london tube station

Every time I travel to major cities {London especially} and ditch the car in favor of public transportation or my own two feet {buses, subways, trains, bikes, walking, etc.}, I always clock tons of steps on my pedometer.  {Like this winter while walking in Paris, I clocked a solid 29,000 steps in just one day.}  Not only do the steps add up, but so does the weight loss.  It always baffles me that I can totally enjoy a pastry {or four} for breakfast, and still lose weight on vacations that require me to walk a bit more.

raspberry pistachio pastry

Apparently, I’m not alone, a recent article on treehugger, cited a study that found that in the UK, people who are “‘commuting by public or active transport modes was significantly and independently predictive of lower BMI for both men and women.’ Men who take transit are about seven pounds lighter; women, about 5.5 pound lighter.”  It’s actually kind of scary to think that we spend that much time in our cars, sitting on our backsides that it equates to a full 5-7 pound difference.  I totally believe it, though.  Travelling on public transport requires you to walk to central locations to get to the transportation, and it rarely drops you off right in the parking lot of your destination.  Driving my car requires me to walk to my garage, and then a couple hundred feet from the parking lot to the building of my destination.

omron pedometer

I personally would LOVE to trade in my car for a solid public transportation system.  I can read, knit, etc. while I commute, I get a little fresh air and exercise, and best of all, I can really cut down on my cussing, because other drivers are not my problem :) .

Have you noticed you lose weight on vacations where you trade in a car for tennis shoes?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Fee-Free National Parks Admission Days

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Mt.-Rainier-National-Park-waterfallYou know I love to travel, and while I’d hop a flight to London every month if I could swing it, there are so many cool places in the US I love exploring too. Some of our national parks top my list of awesome places to vacation to. I might not be much of a camper, but I love to hike. And I’ve seen some pretty amazing views while hiking through some of our national parks.

Did you know there are over 400 national parks in the US? Wowzas. Some of the best ones charge admission fees, so you’ll want to pay attention to the list of 2014 fee-free days below if you’re planning on visiting one of the fee-based national parks anytime soon:

Free National Park Admission Dates:

  • January 20- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 15-17- Presidents Day weekend
  • April 19-20- opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25- National Park Service Birthday
  • September 27- National Public Lands Day
  • November 11- Veterans Day

Other agencies participate in fee-free days as well. See the full list and participating agency below:

Dates Event Participating Agency
Jan. 20 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Feb. 15-17 President’s Day Weekend Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
April 19-20 National Park Week’s opening weekend National Park Service
June 14 National Get Outdoors Day U.S. Forest Service
Aug. 25 National Park Service’s 98th Birthday National Park Service
Sept. 27 National Public Lands Day Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Oct. 12 National Wildlife Refuge Day U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Nov. 8-11 Veteran’s Day Weekend Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day National Park Service

Mt. Rainier National Park vacations

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

7 Tips for Surviving a Red Eye Flight

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7 Tips for Surviving a Red Eye Flight

There’s no doubt about it, I love to travel, and when I do I actually prefer taking a red eye flight {gasp!}.

You can save time because it doesn’t cut into one of your vacation days…and obviously, you can save money.  Over the years, I’ve kind of mastered the red eye hangover.

Here’s 7 ways to survive a red eye, and still feel ready and refreshed for your vacation:

  1. I always pop a couple of ibuprofen right before take off so that I don’t get a headache from the airplane noise.  It is that whole ounce of prevention thing.
  2. Drink water or juice instead of soda or alcoholic beverages.  It’s not as fun, but believe me, your body with thank you for it.  Flying dehydrates you anyway, add poor quality sleep to the mix and you will feel like garbage.  It’s best to just avoid that altogether.
  3. Have your toothbrush handy and pop into the bathroom before you land.  That way, you don’t feel gross.  You can hit the ground running.
  4. Bring a jacket or a sweater.  If you get cold you can wear it, but a jacket/sweater = a pillow in my book.  You can wad it up and rest easy knowing you aren’t sharing drool with the last passenger from one of the shared airplane pillows.
  5. Get a window seat.  This is essential.  That way, you’ll have a wall to lean up against, and won’t have to rely on the guy that smells faintly of bologna sitting next to you. :)
  6. Dress for nappy time.  Yes, this is the time when sweats and comfy clothes are totally acceptable in public.  Being comfy will make sleeping sooooo much easier.
  7. Eat before you get on the plane.  Skip the in-flight $7 meal and try, if possible, to go straight to sleep.  This is about getting the most out of your sleep so you can enjoy your vacation.  It will also communicate silently to everyone around you that  you are not there to chit-chat.  It’s bedtime.

Do YOU take red eye flights?  What are your tips and tricks for surviving them?

~Mavis

See more of my travel tips HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

James Madison’s Montpelier

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James Madison Montpelier

I was going through some photos of our trip last to Virginia and realized I forgot to share our trip to Montpelier {James Madison’s estate}.  Since we went to Monticello and Mount Vernon last time we were back east, I thought I’d better keep up the themed history lesson and check it out.

James Madison Montpelier

Quick history lesson, in case you’ve forgotten everything you learned in sixth grade:  James Madison was our fourth president.  His estate is massive, to say the least, covering about 2700 acres.

James Madison s Montpelier Barn

First off, let me start by saying, Montpelier is a MANSION.  They call it the mansion, and it definitely lives up to its name–it has something like 22 rooms.

We toured the first floor, which had the drawing room and library.  The estate was sold several times after Madison’s death, so historians have been busily trying to recreate the interior of the mansion as it might have looked during his life.  Historians are also trying to acquire original artifacts, etc. of Madison’s.

James Madison Montpelier

The estate also has a garden, called the Annie duPont Garden.  During Madison’s life, he maintained {well, probably his slaves maintained it actually} a vegetable garden of 4 acres {I wonder how many pounds of food I could grow on 4 acres?!}.  The 2 acre Annie duPont Garden is a replica of the gardens that Madison and his wife Dolly would have had during their lives.

James Madison Montpelier Garden

About 500 yards from the house, is the original homestead site called Mount Pleasant.  Madison’s grandfather originally acquired the land {about 4000 acres at the time} and built a home he called Mount Pleasant.  Madison’s father later built the framework of Madison’s house, James and Dolly continued to add onto Montpelier in phases throughout their lives, creating the mansion it is today.

James Madisons Montpelier Cemetery

The Madison family cemetery where James is buried is also on the grounds.  Dolly moved to Washington D.C. after Jame’s death and was buried there.  She has since been moved back the Montpelier cemetery.

A couple hundred yards from that lies the slave cemetery.  Madison had slaves his whole life–they ran the plantation {mostly tobacco}, maintained the gardens and house, and did some blacksmithing.  Historians at the site are trying to uncover the lives, names, etc. of the slaves that lived at Montpelier so that their stories can also be part of the estate.

James Madisons Montpelier Horses

Their is an old growth forest that is open to the public for hiking.  It is almost completely undisturbed, so it looks just as it would have during Madison’s time.

James Madisons Montpelier Slave Housing

The South Yard and Stable Quarters are framework replicas of the slave quarters that have been unearthed by archaeologists.  They have found glass window remnants near the South Yard where domestic slaves {slaves who worked in the mansion} lived, indicates that they lived a much better life than those who worked with the horses or on the estate and lived in the stable quarters {with clay floors and horse equipment}.

Overall, the estate is pretty impressive.  How nice would it be to just be gifted an automatic 2000 acres?  Life has sure changed a bit since James Madison’s time, huh?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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