November 13, 2013

Take Us On a Tour

Two months ago I wrote about how I enjoy living like a local when I travel. Instead of following the same schedule, eating the same foods at the same chain restaurants, and sticking to only the tried and true tourist spots, I try to adapt as much as possible to my new environment. Actually, that is one of the nice things about RV travel: to be in unfamiliar places and try to figure out what makes a place tick.

Several readers commented that they enjoy showing visitors around their home town. Reader Mona, said, "when my pen pal of 40 years from England came to visit and I saw my local area through their eyes - the history, the attractions, the rolling river hills and trails. I gained a new appreciation for my "homeland."   Mona's experience is not at all unusual. Quite often someone will tell me they have never visited some of the sights that tourists pay good money to see.

Reader Linda added, "In my career as a postmaster in a small town, I  would have "tourists" come in and ask me advice for what there was to do in the local area that was interesting, historic, scenic or fun. It was flattering that they trusted my advice. But, also, it made you appreciate the beauty and interesting things where you live."

So, this discussion created the perfect premise for a good post: tell us what you would show someone who was visiting the area where you live. Where would you be sure to them? What is on your must-see list? What makes where you live special? This is your chance to blow you town's horn.


Small town or big city, famous sites or places off the beaten path....take us on a tour of your home.


To help get you started, I'd be sure to take Phoenix area visitors to:

1) Taliesin West. Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home for 20 years

2) South Mountain. The hiking and views of the city are spectacular

3) Scottsdale 5th Ave and Waterfront shopping area. Beautiful

4) Lunch at the Hyatt Gainey Resort. For my money, the prettiest of all the resorts in the area.

5) Desert Botanical Gardens. Would give you a new appreciation for the beauty of desert planting.

.....and, if enough time, Sedona and the Red Rocks. A sight that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime.

Rest assured that I will keep all the ideas and use them when Betty and I visit your hometown sometime on one of our RV trips. We have just started planning our 2 month trip next summer. Now is the perfect time to get us to take a side trip to you!


  1. Area sites that we would share with visitors are:
    1. Starve Hollow Recreation Area, Jackson-Washington State Forest, Brown Co State Park....beautiful trails, awesome views...especially with spring blooms and autumn leaf displays and God's creation of so many shades of green.
    2. Nashville, IN.....a quaint little town with cute shops to browse, artist galleries to explore, handmade items to check out and cute restaurants to taste local food.
    3. A scenic ride through the country going over the Devil's Backbone to Spring Mill State Park to eat at the Inn there....log cabin inn that is so relaxing with home cooking....a restored pioneer village from the 1800's that has staff that re-enact life in the early 1800's, a nature center, great picnic areas, camping and gorgeous the Gus Grissom Memorial with a space capsule and items that belonged to Mr Grissom.
    4. The longest covered bridge in the country at Medora IN....which has been restored and you can now walk across it.
    5. Local festivals...Ocktoberfest, Ft Vallonia Days, Watermelon Festival, Persimmon Festival
    6. Southern IN Center for the Arts....showcasing local artists and featuring works of John Mellencamp who grew up in the area and donated the building.
    7. Site of the first train robbery
    8. Architectural tour of Columbus, IN......premiere architecture...very unique
    9. Downtown Madison IN...quaint town with lots of river history, shoppes, B&B's, Lanier House, walking tour at times of historic homes.....old homes have been preserved beautifully.
    10. Huber's Family Farm....yummy food, winery, petting zoo, pick your own produce in season.
    Lots and lots more.....we tend to do outdoor things...but lots of unique shoppes, etc.

    1. What a tremendous list! Central Indiana just found its way onto our map for a future RV trip. These are exactly the kinds of places and things Betty and I enjoy.

      Thank you, Linda. This comment will be printed out and placed in our future trip file.

    2. Linda, you did a super job of pointing out Indiana spots. Being an almost lifelong Hoosier I had forgotten about most of them and one (Southern Indiana Center for the Arts) is on my soon to-do list as it is almost in my backyard.

      Thanks for reminding me that Indiana isn't that boring place that so many believe it to be.

  2. We're in a suburb of Atlanta and did this with an exchange student from S. Korea.

    1. Hike up Kennesaw Mountain plus they have a small museum to explore and a picnic area - all for free!
    2. Hike up the rock at Stone Mountain Park, have a picnic on the lawn and stay for the laser light show and fireworks - so much fun and very patriotic for only $10 car admission.
    3. Tour Atlanta History Museum which is relatively inexpensive and very interesting!
    4. GA Aquarium
    5. Coca Cola Museum
    6. High Museum of Art
    7. Walk around Centennial Olympic Park and Underground Atlanta for free.
    8. Sometimes you can get great ticket prices for shows at the Fox Theater. Arrive early to hear the pipe organ music and take pictures around the theatre.
    9. My daughter plays for GA Youth Symphony and tickets are only $5 per person and held at Kennesaw State University.
    10. If you are into trains, you can't miss the Southern Museum of Locomotive History.

    Atlanta has Atlanta City Passes that get you into many attractions including a lot of the above for a low rate. Visit GA!


    1. Excellent list, Rebekah. Even though I have a brother who has lived in the Atlanta area for over 20 years, I have done very few of the things on your list.

      And, yes, I like trains.

  3. I live near Charlottesville, Va. There are SO many things here to do.
    1. Monticello is probably the number one draw here, but Ashlawn ( home of James Monroe) is very near it and also, Michie Tavern.
    2. Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.
    3. Capitol building in Richmond.
    4. Williamsburg, Va
    5. Walton Museum in Schuyler, Va
    6. Tons of antique stores.
    7. Library at UVA and tour of UVA
    8. Woodrow Wilson's home in Staunton, Va.
    9. Massanutten Ski Resort and wintergreen Ski Resort
    10. Lots of small towns with old historic houses--Gordonsville, Orange, etc.
    11. River Road in Richmond--beautiful stately southern homes and Monument Avenue
    12. New Market Battlefield
    13. Tons of winerys
    Lots more, including a lot of festivals spring and fall.

    Ann M-- a faithful reader for several years who doesn't comment very often, but enjoys the comments from those who do!

    1. Virginia is very much on our want- to-visit list. Betty and I would like to visit several of the civil war battlegrounds in that part of the country, but I had not heard of New Market. That goes on the list.

      I appreciate your faithful readership, Ann, and so glad you added your ideas.

  4. My little town in Southeast Florida is two hours from Orlando, two hours from Miami, less than one hour from West Palm Beach and about three hours from Naples and the other side of Florida. The list of where I'd take you is endless, so plan to stay for at least two weeks.

    The famous Breakers Hotel brunch, the Flagler Museum, the Kravis Center, the City of Miami Ballet, Naples 5th Avenue, an airboat ride in the Everglades National Park, Mickey & Minnie, a drive down Jupiter Island, shelling on Captiva and Sanibel Island, the upper keys drive and dive, the Redlands markets and farms, local theater, Costume World Museum, a walk on Brickel Key, South Beach, and Coconut Grove, a stroll down Las Olas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fairchild Gardens, Villa Vizcaya, Historic Jaxson's Ice cream Parlor - I'm exhausted.

    Love this and will archive it for future reference. Anne's list is definitely going on my planner.

    1. The Keys are a part of Florida Betty and I love. The drive down to Key West, the boat trip to Fort Jefferson...we love it all. But, we have done very little exploring on the southeast coast of the state. We had a time share on condo near Sarasota for 20 years, so your area would be all new.

  5. Thank you, Suzanne, for the interest in my adopted state. I have lived in Mo, Tn, Fl and I'm from Ill originally, but, when I came to Va, I found my "heart" home. Love this state and have lived here for 22 years. So much history! BTW, your blog is one that has been on my list for several years!

    Ann M

  6. I moved to the South and love it but my heart belongs in Manhattan. 1) Harlem, Morningside Heights and the Upper Upper West Side. You can stay in the Aloft in Harlem (affordable and wonderful--if you're lucky your room will face the Apollo theater. The housing is gorgeous and no longer at all affordable. Restaurants are great. Morningside Heights has Columbia and Barnard--many cafes line the Avenues. Broadway @ 106th looks like a French Boulevard. 2) Hope you're wearing your best sneakers as we've already walked a few hilly miles and have many more to go. When I lived across from Central Park in the East Side I would cross the park and the UWS to get to Riverside Park. It's even nicer now with gardens, cafes, a wonderful pier, the Boat Basin where many people live permanently--and get food deliveries from all restaurants, and much music in summer.3) At 59th Street it turns into the Hudson River Park--planned gardens 4) In Chelsea we would stop to look at the Chelsea Pier, which is a sports center, and maybe take a ferry to Hoboken or Jersey City for the views. 5) Back at the park we'd walk to Battery Park City, a self contained city built on landfill--maybe not the smartest move but wonderful and filled with things to do. We could walk to the East Side and 6) South Street Seaport but that's just another Rouse production so we'd walk up to the northernmost fringes of Battery Park City to the World Financial Center which connects to the new Trade Center and memorial--nuff said 8) then back up to the West Village as everybody wants to see where Carrie Bradshaw lived. It's beautiful and filled with pricey boutiques, some of the last independent bookstores and cafes (9) we would take a few subways, and go to the Museum of Modern Art for art and great food. Then we would walk up to the Met because it is spectacular--and cross the park back to the UWS to see the Museum of Natural History which is so much better in real life than the movies. I guess this would take two days and I haven't even scratched the surface. just be prepared to walk, eat and fall in love with a city that's so different than the way it's portrayed. It's too pricey and I was tired of living like a grad student for life when my tiny apartment could command a small fortune. So I left. But yes I left my heart too....

    1. Pia....I need to get back to NYC. I used to go to Manhattan three-four times a year for business, but never had much free time. You make me want to visit, though not live there. Maybe I could be in the crowd in front of the Today studio some morning!

      It truly is an amazing city.

  7. Here's some places in Phoenix I like to take folks, that not everyone goes to:
    1) Arizona Water Fall on Indian School Road about 54th street
    2) Valley Ho Resort ZuZu restaurant
    3) Arizona State Capitol building rotunda
    4) Phoenix Mountain Preserve hiking trails

    1. Excellent list. I've done them all but the ZuZu restaurant.

  8. Wonderful idea Bob. I think we could all create a post using your idea. I love my "Oregon" home and want everyone to see what I enjoy...but then you know that don't you? What should I call it?


    1. You could fill several posts about Oregon: the Columbia River Gorge, Wine Country, the area around Bend and Sisters, hidden treasure in downtown Portland and could keep busy for weeks!

      How about an Oregonian looks at Tucson? The climates, terrain, lifestyles, weather.....the two are separated by much more than 1,400 miles!

  9. You should consider directing readers to: It's a new way of getting local knowledge into the hands of travelers

    1. I took a look, Doug. It could be helpful, but, readers, be aware you must sign in through a social media site and that may share more information than you are willing to do.

      If anyone has tried and used this site I'd love to know about your experiences.

  10. Bob, thanks for the travel tips. I've been to Sedona and to the botanical gardens. Now I gotta get me some lunch at the Hyatt Gainey Resort! As for my area ... well, the obvious trip at this time of year is to see the autumn colors in NY and New England. And it seems that most of our far-flung friends and relatives want to visit us when we're vacationing on Cape Cod ... don't want to be there in winter, but in summer and fall it's paradise!

    1. We do have dreams of a grand journey from Phoenix through the mid-Atlantic region, up to New England, and back through upstate New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, down to New Orleans, and home. All that will take is 4 months and $11,000. Otherwise.....we are good to go!

    2. Well, Bob, you have an open invitation to spend a night with us in one of our spare bedrooms (we have three now that the kids are gone), or else to park your RV in our driveway.

    3. We would have to pass quite close to Westchester so keep that driveway clear!

  11. You were just in San Luis Obispo County in Central California, but in case you didn't check out all these places, or if you'd been here longer, the following places in our county (& a little further away) are great to visit:
    First along the coast:
    1. California Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Monterey. Check out Cayucos (there's a marvelous pier and a great beach) Cambria (during October, they have a scarecrow festival & Moonstone Beach Drive is gorgeous,) see the elephant seals at San Simeon, visit Hearst Castle, visit a restored lighthouse, have a meal at the Ragged Point Inn, enjoy the Big Sur Coast, Carmel & Monterey, including the world-famous aquarium in Monterey.
    2. Just south of Morro Bay is Los Osos & Montana de Oro State Park with great hiking trails & ocean views.
    3. In South County, See Canyon, with its apples Avila Beach, great beach with piers & restored lighthouse, good restaurants; Pismo & Grover Beaches are also along this coast with great places to visit, to hike to relax. If you keep going to Santa Barbara County, of course, there are more wonderful places to see, including the Danish town of Solvang, Santa Barbara itself & the Santa Ynez valley, with its wine country.
    As you come back inland:
    4, San Lus Obispo, with its nicely preserved mission, a tourist/local friendly downtown & famous Madonna Inn. It also has a recently opened railroad museum as well as the California State Polytechnic University (locally known as Cal Poly.)
    5.Our North County area has much to do with wine, but there are other attractions as well. Sunset Magazine's large food & wine event has been held in Santa Margarita (which is a VERY small town) the last couple of years & you can also zip line there. Atascadero just turned 100 years old in 2013 & Paso Robles turns 125 next year. There are hiking trails everywhere; we have wildflowers in the spring & green hills changing to brown as the weather changes. Paso Robles was just named the International Wine Region of the Year. San Miguel the further north town in the county has another mission. There is much to enjoy here!

    1. We were in your neck of the woods for 8 days and did virtually nothing on this list. Next time I will run a post like this BEFORE we travel somewhere.

      Obviously, we will have to come back at some point for another week or two. What a lot to do!

  12. Where do I begin?? Philadelphia is definitely for the History buffs, which I am, but there is so much more! I'll start with the obvious...Independence Park, which includes the Hall, the Bell, and the Constitution Center.

    Old City, just north of Ind. Park, has Christ Church, the oldest continually operating church in the country, Ben Franklin's grave, Elphreth's Alley is the oldest continually residential street in the country, Art Gallery's abound in Old City.

    If you love Art, we got you covered! The Philadelphia Museum of Art is World renown!
    Now we also have The Barnes, which has the largest collection of Renoir's in the world, although poorly lit per Mr. Barnes instructions. He was beyond eccentric!

    We have become a foodie destination, too. So many great restaurants you can't hit them all. We have our own Iron Chef, Jose Garces, here who has several excellent places to eat. (He also bought the house we used to rent when we first moved into the city!) Nice guy...Excellent chef!

    Avenue of the Arts! It was Ed Rendell's vision to have our own 'Times Square', so they made it happen. We have The Academy of Music, The Kimmel Center, Suzanne Roberts Theater, The Wilma Theater, so much more! It begins at City Hall, which is a fascinating tour, as well!

    Philly is a very walkable city, but we do have decent transit, too. And great hotels.

    Sometime next year I'll tell you about Cape May. ;)

    1. Avenue of the Arts sounds worth a trip just by itself. Someday I'd like to come back and show Betty the town of Feasterville, where I spent the first 7 years of my life.

      We did visit the Independence Hall area about 6 years ago, a place all Americans should see in person (not just through the movie, National Treasure).

      I will be very interested in your Cape May posts and pictures. I haven't been there in 50 years. I imagine there are lots of changes!

    2. I think the best depiction of Independence Hall is in the movie '1776'. They filmed it right there. And it makes me laugh every time because of where Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. At the time he was looking for a quiet place to write...somewhere out of the way. It's 7th and Market! That was considered the 'burbs back then, I guess. Just 2 1/2 blocks from the Hall! LOL. And in the '50's some idiot tore it down and put up a hot dog stand! So around 1976, I think, they recreated it in the same spot. It's a tiny little place!

    3. Hot dogs...not Philly cheese steak?

  13. I am going to keep coming back here as we travel Great ideas! I live in Alberta, Canada and there is so much to see around here - tourist brochures abound - but last fall we discovered Abraham Lake - less than 2 hours from where I live and I had never travelled there!! Beautiful spot and highly recommended. Very accessible on the long drive from Lake Louise to Jasper but off the crazy, tourist beaten path.

    Local eateries in Calgary - Peter's Drive In for the BEST burgers in the world (and the biggest,most amazing milk shakes!)

    Also, very unknown to tourists, there is an amazing restaurant at SAIT Polytechnic where soon-to-be chefs practice their skills! Amazing food, great prices, and reservations required but you will not be disappointed. Highwood Dining Room. SAIT also has a small venue downtown Calgary for those who can't make it up the hill - check out their website - the food is phenomenal.

    River Cafe - located in Prince's Island Park in downtown Calgary - local restaurant who use their own home-grown produce and even have a small garden outside their restaurant. They also provide picnics in the park - I think. Worth checking out for local cuisine that is not all about the beef!

    Blues Can is a must see in old established Inglewood district - if you are a blues fan! No pub grub here - gritty blues atmosphere but the food is expertly prepared and delicious. We take our blues-fan guests here all the time. No reservations and evening performances require tickets but Saturday afternoon Open Mike is awesome and free! The Ironwood Grille is also awesome - a bit more upscale, take reservations and in the same awesome neighbourhood.

    Walkways/bike paths in Calgary are top rate and most converge on a river pathway as Calgary was established at the convergence of two rivers. Can be accessed from downtown (Prince's Island bike rentals available) but also you can connect through Inglewood and walk downtown - even could include a visit to the amazing Calgary Zoo (recently re-opened after our destructive June 2013 flood).

    Scotsman hill - during the great Calgary Stampede locals head over to this hill top to view the amazing nightly fireworks display. Free but access is controlled and you can expect to do some walking as there is no parking! Fireworks can be observed from other more accessible hills in the city but this one has history! Also during our Stamped (early July) the free events at Rope Square (Olympic Plaza) downtown in the mornings are the BEST part as far as I am concerned. The free pancake breakfasts are served to thousands of people over the 10 days but what I think is the most amazing part of this daily event is the First Nations dance - much like a opening dance display for a PowWow - you will never get closer to the dancers and their amazing, beaded costumes anywhere else other than an actual Pow Wow - awesome picture venue.

    I could go on and on - this is a entry gate to the famous Canadian Rocky Mountains but...maybe next post!

    1. You have given Betty and me plenty of reasons to take an RV trip across the border at some point. Thanks for the detailed ideas, Eileen.