Archive of ‘Travel’ category

4 Unique Places to See in South Dakota

This post is sponsored by Hot Springs, South Dakota and the South Dakota Department of Tourism, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

This summer I’m planning a pretty big road trip, one that goes through South Dakota. (More on that to come later!) I visited the Black Hills, The Badlands and Mount Rushmore with my parents when I was younger on our way to Colorado. It’s definitely something every American should try to see at least once. There is more to see in the area though, which is why these lesser-known tourist destinations are on my list to check out in Hot Springs, SD:

Wild Horse Sanctuaries

There are two wild horse sanctuaries you can visit and see horses roaming free in their natural habitat. Ever since I read Misty of Chincoteague at age 10, I’ve found it fascinating that even today horses run wild in the United States.

Mineral Water Health Spas

I’ve visited natural hot springs in the Colorado mountains as well as mineral spas in Switzerland and I can easily say that it’s one of my favorite vacation activities. The mineral water spas in Hot Springs, South Dakota are much closer to home and open year round.

Pioneer Museum

The area has a ton of history, so it’s fitting that there’s a pioneer museum. It would be of interest to anyone who liked my Pioneer Park post. While I’ve been to several pioneer museums as a child and for article research, I never tire of them!

 Wind Cave National Park

Here you can tour one of the longest caves in the world as well as hike through a National Park that has buffalo, elk, deer, coyotes, antelope!

If wild horses, mineral spas and pioneer museums aren’t your thing there are way more attractions to check out including a mammoth site and fossil museum. If you’ve been to the Hot Springs area, let me know what you think is the best place to check out.

All photos used with permission courtesy of the South Dakota Board of Tourism.

This Pioneer Town is Like Going Back in Time

Antique kitchenware in Pioneer Park

My latest article for Minnesota Parent magazine is one close to my heart because I based it on the camp I attended at age 7. It’s a historical park created to replicate 1880s pioneer life. While researching the article, I snapped a lot of the meticulously curated antique details. These previously unpublished photos show that when you visit Pioneer Park in Minnesota it’s exactly like stepping back into time–take a look:

Pioneer Park day camp

More than twenty years later, day camps for kids still happen every summer. The children cook and wash dishes in an authentic log cabin, even churning their own butter. And there’s a whole village waiting to be explored. Each of the buildings on the Pioneer Park campus showcases a different aspect of 19th-century life in the Midwest.

Visit Pioneer Park Minnesota

There’s a schoolhouse, barn, Finnish church, jail, and more. When you visit Pioneer Park in Minnesota in the summer, the buildings are open for tours. If you’re into the rustic farmhouse look, this is the real thing.

Antique hats

This shows the inside the millinery shop with hats, gloves and dresses in the store window.

Vintage millinery in pioneer park

Not everything is dresses and lace. The funeral parlor, doctor’s office and dentist’s office display some tools too creepy to photograph.

On the shelves of the General Store, not everything is quite from the right era. This bag of Snow White flour must have been from the 1930s at least, but it gives an overall picture of what the shops in the village must have been like during that period.

Vintage pantry on display in Pioneer Park

And there is even a blacksmith’s shop filled with horse shoes, wagon wheels and farming tools.

antique blacksmith's shop in Pioneer Park

There’s something just so fascinating about peeking into the past. To visit Minnesota Pioneer Park in Annandale, visit PioneerPark.org.

There are historical destinations like this one all around the United States. If you’ve visited one, let me know where. I think rustic places like this are beautiful and full of character. What do you think?

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

What is the Palace of Fine Arts?

This downtown San Francisco destination features a Greco-Roman style rotunda and colonnades on a peaceful pond. It was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition and is now used for concerts, events and as a public park.

This place is STUNNING. As soon as I saw a picture of it two years ago, I knew I had to go. Two trips to California went by before I was able to make it, and I’m so happy I finally did. I was in no way prepared for how magnificent it is in person. It was easy to imagine I was in Europe, it so reminded me of things I’d seen in Rome and Greece.

At sunset, the sun setting over the bay illuminated the rosy columns with gold light. The structure sits on the edge of a pond, and a walking path encircles it. Families brought bikes and scooters for the kids. It’s situated near the Golden Gate, Golden Gate Park, and the Disney Family Museum so it’s easy to swing by if you’re visiting the popular tourist destinations in San Francisco.

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

It’s a perfect place to take a stroll, and it’s free. We even got a free parking spot nearby. We were a little cold and hungry so we stayed for a half hour, long enough to take these pictures and enjoy the sights. Looking back I think we could have stayed longer. If it’s a warm day you could do a picnic here.

How to Take Photos at the Palace of Fine Arts

This is one of the most popular photo shoot destinations in the Bay Area. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we saw an engagement shoot, another fashion blogger, and a wedding shoot during the half hour we were there! That said, you’ll probably get other people in your frame. The inside of the rotunda is amazing, but make sure to check out the grounds surrounding it too for some other great shots.

What to Wear

Such a magnificent location called for a special outfit. When I found this dress at Nordstrom it instantly reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast, which was perfect because the new movie came out that weekend. I definitely wore this dress to the theater for the premiere.  (The dress also comes in black and a pattern, by the way.) I added a couple layers of tulle over it just for fun, but it also looks elegant without it.

If you saw the movie this weekend, what did you think?

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Best Gluten Free Treats in the Bay Area

Bay Area Gluten FreeI try to eat as little sugar as I can, but sometimes you just want a delicious treat! Eating gluten free means passing up many, many delicious treats. You have to look a little harder to find them, but gluten free goodies can be found in almost any city. The Bay Area has its share of gluten free delicacies, and these are my favorites.

1. Zest Bakery

I found this gem while searching for the elusive unicorn: the Gluten Free Donut. I found that and so much more at Zest Bakery in San Carlos. Everything in this place is gluten free, and some things are even dairy free, soy free or sugar free to boot. The prices were reasonable, and there was plenty of indoor and outdoor seating on a cute and quiet street. Parking was fairly easy too, even mid day on a weekend.

But let’s talk about what really matters–the quality of the gluten free baked goods! The muffins were indistinguishable from regular glutenous muffins, not an easy feat. The sandwich I bought was absolutely delicious and kept me energized for a day of sightseeing in downtown San Francisco. But most of all I want to rave about the bread–it was soft, fresh and not overly crumbly. The only disappointment at this place was the Oreo cookie, which I would skip. It wasn’t bad, but not on par with their other A-list goodies. If you are gluten free, you must try this place when you’re in the area.

2. Chantal Guillon

All macarons here are gluten free! Chantal Guillon has shops around the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Palo Alto. The hardest part is choosing which flavors you want. This is a best gluten free Bay Area destination for sure.

best gluten free bay area

3. Flour Chylde Bakery

This bakery has been around for twelve years making breads, desserts, cookies and pastries that are all gluten free. I haven’t been to their Novarto location, but I visited their booth at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market and sampled delicious cake. Their facility strives to be zero waste, which is a nice thing to support.

4. Sugarfina

A candy store for adults is the concept behind Sugarfina. Candies in little clear boxes labeled to show where around the globe the candy is sourced from are showcased around the store. The minimalist decor style is the main draw of this place, so stop in just to see the layout of the merchandise and snap an Insta-worthy pic or two. Oh, and free samples! Three locations to choose from in San Francisco, one in San Jose and more sprinkled around the U.S.

5. Timothy Adams

A picture perfect place for a first date or a friend date, this shop lured me in with its hot pink and blue decor and tempting counter full of truffles. The price is steep ($2.50 per chocolate) but the experience made it feel worth it. The truffles are smooth and memorable. Ask for your truffles to go or enjoy them in the cute dining room located at 539 Bryant Street, Palo Alto.

6. Ghiradelli

Fairly obvious, but what would a list about San Francisco be without Ghiradelli? Get a free chocolate square just for walking in the door. I’ve been to a store downtown and also Ghiradelli square. Both are fun but Ghiradelli square is a waterfront tourist destination with street musicians, shopping, and views of the Bay. There is a Ghiradelli chocolate souvenir shop and ice cream cafe there, but the actual chocolate factory is no longer onsite.

Have a favorite place you want to share? Make sure to contact me in the comments below.

A New Minneapolis Hotel + A Giveaway

I love saving money on travel, but what I don’t love is scouring the internet for hours to find the best deals. I just became a member of a rewards program that offers Members Only Rate Exclusive (MORE) – 10% off the best available price on hotel rooms within the brand. Which means saving more without scouring, thank goodness. Make sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win 30,000 rewards points of your own!

Club Carlson Perks

This program was ranked one of the top three hotel rewards programs by by U.S. News and World Reports for 2015-2016. One of the reasons is the program’s flexibility. You can use points not only for free hotel stays, but for other travel costs like TSA Pre-Check application fees, airline miles and more.

Radisson Red Opening in Downtown Minneapolis

I’m also excited to share that one of the Carlson hotel brands is opening a new hotel in downtown Minneapolis December 2016. It’s kiddie corner to the Old Spaghetti Factory which was a total staple of my college life, but I’m way more excited to check out the Radisson’s onsite kitchen + bar serving fresh, locally sourced, sustainable food inspired by global street fare. I like the trend of more hotels sourcing food from local farmers.

minneapolis travel itineraryI have some other suggestions for a Minneapolis travel itinerary. This hotel is steps away from the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum, and Gold Medal Park which are all right along the river and within walking distance to my favorite destination, the Stone Arch bridge (pictured above). So it’s going to be ideal for Twin Cities vacationers, but it’s also just a short cab ride or from the convention center and the University of Minnesota (pictured below). And if you’re wondering, yes, the hotel is pet friendly!university-of-minnesota-the-pink-paperdoll-blogGiveaway!

Congratulations giveaway winner Tracie Cooper, I hope you enjoy your 30,000 rewards points on a getaway somewhere you’ll love!

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