Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Exploring South Dakota’s Black Hills

Thanks to the South Dakota Department of Tourism for sponsoring this post. I’m excited to share part 1 of my recent cross-country road trip with you!

Leaving Home

Arriving at the Badlands as the sun turned the rock formations to gold was therapeutic, to end a long day’s journey with such a beautiful destination.

History of the Badlands

I picked up all the brochures about the Badlands because the history of the place is so interesting. The Lakota Sioux and the French settlers both called the place the Badlands in their respective languages. After driving through the flat expanse of South Dakota, to find this serene change in the cartography is stirring. It’s been described as otherworldly, and I have to agree. There’s plenty of history within the Black Hills region as a whole as well. The South Dakota Board of Tourism can help you plan a history-rich visit.

The following day we saw Mount Rushmore, which is a must see if you’re in the area, but there’s also so much more to the Black Hills region. Other destinations the area include Devils Tower and more. We had so much ground to cover on the journey we could only spend one night, but there was absolutely more to see so take your time in the Badlands region.

Dog Friendly Badlands, South Dakota

Bringing a dog? Perry was allowed on the trails with us, which isn’t the case at all National Parks. But keep pets leashed at all times! You can see the sign in the photo warning about rattlesnakes. I did observe a few places that looked like a place a rattlesnake would like to live. We were happy to find plenty of dog friendly choices for places to stay as well. This link has a dog friendly itinerary for the Black Hills and more info on places to stay.

Fourth of July in the Black Hills

If you want to do something incredibly memorable for Independence Day this year, I found out by peeking at the event calendar that the Black Hills Rodeo is held that weekend, complete with a fireworks show. It says that most of the little towns in the area have their own Fourth of July festivals, which sounds so quaintly full of Americana I want to drive right back for it!

Save money on National Parks entry fees

One of the appealing things about vacationing in the Black Hills is the amount of memorable activities to do on a budget. If Badlands National Park (where all these photos were taken) is on your itinerary, you can save with an annual pass. We bought the America the Beautiful pass at the park gate, because we knew that would be seeing more parks on the journey. If you’re traveling with an American citizen who is over 62, they qualify for a lifetime pass to all the National Parks for only $10, so make sure to take advantage of that! We met quite a few retired folks on the journey who had the senior pass. There are also free passes available for U.S. Military, individuals with disabilities and 4th grade students.

I’m definitely yearning to see more of the beautiful United States now. Stay tuned for more about my cross country trip.

Mermaids & Summer Plans

Announcing…

Recently I posted about South Dakota travel. There was a reason for that because….I’m going on a road trip this week, one that goes through South Dakota and ends up in Northern California! After my exploratory trip to the Bay Area in March that included presenting at the Tech Fashion Week Fashion Blogger event, I decided I liked it enough to go back for the summer.

I’m excited for what the adventure holds. I’m hoping for lots of farmer’s markets, trips around the Bay Area and starting a garden in a climate where the growing season in longer than two frost-free months a year. If you have a favorite spot in California, drop it in the comments. I hope to travel around a little bit while I’m there.

To celebrate my impending departure, here’s an outfit (if you can call it that) from my last trip to California and some FAQ.

Q: What are you doing there?

A: Well last trip, I went to Half Moon Bay dressed up as a mermaid  (that Halloween costume wasn’t going to re-wear itself) and got drone footage of it so I think the answer to that question is WHO KNOWS REALLY.  But the responsible answer is I’ll be working on my freelance writing and hopefully getting really incredibly inspired by redwood trees and the absence of mosquitoes. It’s all pretty much remote work anyway so not much will change except my zip code and my ability to afford things.

Q: Where are you living?

A: In the South Bay in a house that’s way too full, a bathroom that’s way too shared, a refrigerator that’s packed and I’m just adding to the problem. I did live in a sorority house for two years so I think it will be a lot like that, but with more discussions about start ups.

Follow my adventures on Instagram to see what I’m up to.

What are your summer plans? Let me know in the comments!

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.

What to Wear

>Summer road trip advice from a Midwesterner – here’s what you might want to pack.

1. Summer boots – good for adventuring. These come in three colors.

2. An embellished dress for looking good in your Instagram shots 😉 This one will look like it fits right in at the Pioneer Museum.

3. Cat’s eye sunglasses

4. Embellished denim jackets are everywhere now, and they’re so practical for keeping mosquitoes off!

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

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