Summertime is officially here and we all know what that means – vacation! Before slipping into 100% relaxation mode there a few things to consider, especially when traveling with little ones. Traveling with kids can be stressful, but with preparation you don’t have to wait until you reach your destination to enjoy family time!
Stock up on packing cubes and assign a different color to each child. This way you can use one suitcase for multiple kids, while still managing to keep their things separate. This makes for an easy grab ‘n go!
Stock up on dollar-section toys
Ever wonder what the dollar section at your local discount store is actually good for? Loading up on in-flight kids’ toys, that’s what. Sure you can pack your child’s favorites from home, but nothing can compare to the novelty of a *new toy.* Many parents have credited their sanity to this technique since it provides children with entertainment and keeps them on their best behavior. They’ll continually wonder what you’ll pull out of your bag next.
Pro tip: Try to avoid anything that can bounce, roll away or spill.
Create an ear-popping plan
Takeoff and landing are two points that can be both stressful and painful for kids. The change in pressure creates the need to pop your ears, which children have a harder time regulating. This can cause some major discomfort, but there are a few simple ways to alleviate this feeling. If your child is old enough, they can chew gum or suck on a hard candy. For younger kids, a bottle, pacifier or breastfeeding typically does the trick.
Involve your kiddos
While the majority of snacks, toys and other essentials should stick with you, there is nothing wrong with encouraging your child to take a little responsibility by carrying their own bag. Toting around a small backpack can be exciting for kids, because they have access to their favorite goodies. Plus, they’ll feel more like a “big kid.” We recommend stocking up their backpack with one or two toys, a snack, a sweatshirt, and if they’re a little bit older, a journal and disposable camera to inspire them to document the trip from their perspective.
Snacks, snacks, snacks!
Lots of ‘em! Make sure you follow this tip if nothing else. Low blood sugar can make for some cranky kids. And frankly, some pretty cranky adults, as well. Keep spirits high with proper nourishment, especially low-mess healthy snacks to avoid the sugar spike and crash. Make sure to consult this list of TSA-approved snacks.
Get the energy out beforehand
This may come as a surprise, but kids are extremely high energy. Shocker, right? All that energy can make it difficult for them to sit still for long periods of time. Instead of addressing the restlessness in flight, try dealing with it head on, before even boarding the plane.
By far the best parenting win I’ve witnessed at the airport was a husband and wife duo running a mini bootcamp for their three kids, while waiting at the gate. They challenged the kids to see who could do the most jumping jacks/high knees/push-ups/etc. Not only were the kids exhausted by the end, but it was pretty entertaining for onlookers as well.
Technology is your friend
While it’s common for parents to limit the amount of screen time their child consumes on a regular basis, a little distraction can be helpful while traveling to keep kids engaged. Many parents recommend saving the Ipad until later on in the trip as a reward for good behavior. It can also be a great life-saver once all of the other toys have been played with and snacks have been snacked upon.
Load all movies and wifi-free apps the night before, so that no internet is needed upon takeoff
Remember to charge all devices
Don’t forget headphones!
Hopefully, by following these tips and tricks your family can have some peace of mind when it comes to traveling. Now sit back, relax and we’ll take care of the rest. Vacation mode activated!
This morning (as I write this) I was scheduled to fly out of a Missouri airport other than COU. I ended up stuck in busy traffic, my GPS tried to take me to the wrong place, and I couldn’t find parking. This all added up to me being quite late for the flight I was supposed to be boarding. Fortunately I’m an experienced flyer, and I was able to tell myself that it would be okay even in the worst-case scenario of missing my flight.
If you’re not a particularly experienced flyer and/or have high anxiety about flying, you’re not alone. A fear of flying is one of the most common phobias in America.
While this fear is common and normal (though not always based in fact), there are things you can do to help. I often encounter clients who struggle with this and similar anxieties in Columbia, Mo., and surrounding areas. A bit of knowledge, combined with some self-soothing tools and practice exercises can make all the difference. Therapy can be helpful if needed. Keep reading for specific tips to help with overcoming a fear of flying.
1. Find what works quickly for your flying anxiety
When you’re dealing with a phobia or other situation that makes you highly anxious, your fight-flight-freeze system is being activated. It’s the part of your brain that’s trying to warn you and keep you safe. Sometimes it gets confused, though, and warns you at inappropriate times. It can also make things worse by increasing your panic. Here are a few tools that help the majority of my clients in the moment, for this and similar fears.
Accept a low to medium level of anxiety as normal. Sometimes a fear of anxiety causes you to get even more anxious. This feeling is there for a reason (to protect you) and it won’t last. Keeping this in mind can help. This can take you out of the cycle of being anxious because you’re anxious!
Use belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. This involves taking deep, very slow breaths. By slowing your breathing, you’re tricking your brain into thinking you’re calm and content. This helps decrease anxiety symptoms in the moment. It’s the most common technique used for phobias and helps take the edge off for many people. It worked for me earlier today while I was sitting in city traffic on the way to the airport.
Try grounding .This may be a bit ironic for this particular fear, but there l are many grounding exercises you can try. These generally involve becoming aware of your senses in the here and now. I most often use grounding stones to teach this concept. Here’s a link with guided instructions. You can also wiggle your toes in your shoes, or complete a body scan by noticing how you’re feeling in each muscle of your body. This helps you stay in the here and the now, and activates the calmer parts of your brain.
Extreme grounding. If you have trouble focusing on grounding and mindfulness exercises, you can try more extreme grounding measures, such as holding a small ice cube in your hand for a few seconds (don’t hold it so long it burns you), or chewing sour gum or spicy candy. When your senses are forced to engage with such a powerful force, it’s hard to focus on anything but that! This can snap you out of a panic.
Mindfulness apps . There are a couple of very effective mindfulness tools that help with anxiety, including Stop, Breathe, Think, and Calm which is very popular among my clients. Some of these even have specific meditations relating to flying.
2. Challenge your thoughts about flying
Anxiety, phobias and worries are fueled by our thoughts. Thoughts contribute to fears, and fears lead to behaviors.
For example, think of being a kid and being scared of the slide. The more you thought about how dangerous the slide was (thought), the more you would be afraid (feeling) and the more you would avoid it (behavior). Avoiding it would then reinforce your thoughts of danger.
Pretty soon, just someone mentioning the slide or having to look at it at recess would bring up an anxious response. This cycle would go on and on, sometimes getting even worse over time. What’s the solution? To change your thoughts and/or behavior (see below).
Think based in facts
Sometimes our thoughts are based in habit rather than facts. So check out the facts. Perhaps learning that it’s rare for kids to get hurt on the slide, that a lot of kids have a great time on the slide every day, and that no one you know has ever been hurt on a slide would help. Let’s try that with flying. Here are some facts to check out:
Traveling by plane is among the safest form of transportation, according to statistics from the the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). That’s right — not the most dangerous, but the safest! The old cliche that you’re more likely to get into a car accident than get injured on a plane is true.
In the extremely rare case you are in a plane accident then you are still unlikely to die in such an accident. Again according to NTSB, most plane accidents have survivors and fatalities are still rare.
Air travel is highly regulated, with an entire system designed to keep you safe. When’s the last time you got in your car and had to prove who you were or pass a last-minute inspection? Do your neighbors do that?
Also consider why you would ever fly in the first place. Are you saving time, exploring the world, seeing family, or growing in your career? Are these things important to you and consistent with your values? If the answer is yes, then is it worth it to travel by one of the safest means possible to help stay in line with what’s important in your life? Why else would you put yourself through this anxiety? I bet there’s a pretty good reason. Keep that in mind.
3. Try gradual exposure
Often, people who are dealing with phobias practice what’s called gradual exposure to overcome a fear of flying. This is where changing behavior comes in. This involves starting with lower levels of fears and moving up. In our slide metaphor, this might include starting with a baby slide, then gradually moving up the ladder to slightly taller slides, until the big slide doesn’t even feel scary anymore. Pretty soon you can barely remember why you were scared. You can do the same with flying.
This might start with watching airplanes on tv, meeting a friend at the airport but not flying yet, allowing yourself to think about flying, or starting with a very short flight. You would try these things gradually until flying itself isn’t so scary.
An important aspect of exposure I’ve seen with clients is called “white knuckling.” It’s when you force yourself to do the scary activity you’re afraid of, but you’re staying tense the whole time. This is part of that reinforcement cycle, where you’re sending the message to your body that this is indeed a dangerous situation, perpetuating your own fear response. If instead you’re able to be mindful of what’s happening, perhaps by using some of the calming techniques listed above, including just taking a breath and noticing your experience, you can overcome your fear much more quickly than you might expect. A qualified therapist can help you develop an appropriate exposure hierarchy for your particular challenges.
4. Consider and address alternative causes
Sometimes there might be an alternative cause of your fear, such as an underlying condition or related issue. Here’s a quick rundown of some of these and what to do.
It might not be so much the fear of flight itself bothering you, but rather being trapped on the plane or in a tight seating situation. Fortunately, the recommended treatment for this is very similar to any other phobia (we’d use the same techniques as above), and it might even be a bit easier to practice gradually exposing to your fears as there are a lot more tight spaces than there are available airplanes. A qualified therapist can help with this.
Fears about terrorism
Many people developed a new or increased fear of flying after 9/11, which is perfectly understandable. However, the statistics here are similar to what we’ve seen with flying in general. Being involved in a terror attack is extremely unlikely.
Fear of the airport itself, or the process of flying
If you think you’ll be fine once you get on the plane, it’s just everything leading up to it that makes you anxious, then knowledge is key. It can be a bit overwhelming to remember all of the rules about bags, liquids, passports, etc.Talk to a friend who’s flown recently and ask them every question on your mind. You can also check out these great air travel tips from the U.S. Department of Transportation (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-tips), and this local article from the Columbia Regional Airport (https://www.flycou.com/?page_id=1329). Flying locally will save quite a bit of time, parking fees and traffic stress. If you’re flying from another location, I’d suggest adding an extra hour after my recent experience, and remember the deep breaths.
5. Look for the perks
Fortunately, I was able to make my flight as the last passenger to board, and I’m finishing this post right now using the plane’s in-air WiFi. The shuttle driver, security officers, gate attendant and flight attendants have all been quite friendly and helpful this morning. Once you get the hang of it, traveling by plane can be quite fun. There are sometimes free movies, cool airport shops (even spas!) and the best views any non-astronaut can find.
Oh, sorry, I have to go now. They’re offering me my complimentary beverage and cookie.
Jennie Lannette, MSW, LCSW, is a local trauma and anxiety therapist and writer based in Columbia, Mo. You can contact her or get more anxiety tips through her practice website at The Counseling Palette (www.thecounselingpalette.com).
April 8, 2019: City authorized the Contractor to begin work.
April 9, 2019: Contractor installed traffic control devices and performed milling operations.
April 10, 2019 Look Ahead: Contractor will complete milling operations and begin layout for asphalt paving.
The project is proceeding as scheduled, weather looks good, the contractor is well mobilized and staffed. We have also updated our airline partners and the FAA.
UPDATED 4/11 8:30 a.m.
April 10, 2019: Contractor completed most milling and began placing asphalt “wedges”. Interim City Manager John Glascock announced at a REDI Board meeting the estimated cost of the project is between $400 and 500 thousand dollars. The FAA has tentatively agreed to fund 90% of the total cost.
April 11, 2019: Contractor will complete spot milling and begin the asphalt overlay and ancillary earthwork associated with the project.
The project is proceeding as scheduled.
Our customers and our community are the top priority for Columbia Regional Airport. Above all, we value the safety and comfort of our passengers. As such, we have chosen to close COU through April 15 in order to quickly resolve the issue of the runway crown that our partner pilots brought to our attention over the weekend. Although the crown is fully FAA compliant and required by law, we recognize that modifications will increase comfortability for our passengers and pilots and alleviate pilot safety concerns.
As airlines continue to cancel flights on a day-to-day basis, we urge scheduled passengers to reach out directly to their airline for any questions regarding flights and rebooking. ALL flights through April 15 are currently cancelled, and we encourage you to prepare accordingly. We recommend that you request for a Senior Customer Service Team Member when you reach out to the airlines to assist you.
United Airlines: 800-864-8331
American Airlines: 800-433-7300
We understand that cancellations present a number of challenges and frustrations to our passengers, and we sincerely apologize for that. We truly appreciate your understanding as we continue to take the necessary steps to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
Although runway 13-31A is fully FAA compliant, we are addressing pilot safety concerns by making modifications to the runway. The “crown” that caused the original issue is set to undergo modifications beginning today, April 9th, as we continue to work diligently with Burns & McDonnell as well as Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS). The crown is an FAA requirement to assist with water drainage off the runway. This crown can cause a bump to the aircraft upon landing or takeoff. In 2009, COU planned to address a number of infrastructure projects to ensure adequate infrastructure to meet the needs of a modern commercial fleet. A part of that plan was to replace the original crosswind runway to accommodate commercial air traffic, when the main runway (2-20), which is 50 years old, would need maintenance. In 2017 the secondary runway (13-31) was completely rebuilt in anticipation of the main runway maintenance project in 2019. While planning for the main runway maintenance project, we consulted many times with our partners, including the airlines, to inquire about any concerns. At that time, none mentioned the crown in the main runway, as being an issue. The crosswind runway has been used numerous times by the airlines since completion and had never raised any concerns. Our goal is to make minor modifications to that area which will allow for a smoother take-off and landing, while remaining in compliance with FAA regulations.
We will continue to provide you with up-to-date information, as we work diligently to resolve the issue and resume service at COU as soon as possible. Again, our sincerest apologies to our customers, whose travel has been impacted by our closure. We thank our partners in the community for their hard work and efforts regarding this matter and look forward to a resolution.
Each state in the U.S. has its own hidden treasures and unique places to visit. No matter where you’re headed, we’ve found some off-the-beaten-path attractions that you just can’t miss. Some are a little out there, some are insanely cool, and all of them are worth the trek.
This 148-foot-long natural rock bridge is just outside of the William Bankhead National Forest. Naturally formed over 200 million years ago, it’s the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies. An added bonus is the Native American carvings that are just a short walk from the bridge. It is believed to be of a Chief’s head, but no one knows for sure who the man depicted is.
Joe Minter has filled his lawn with art made of different items that he finds. This is his version of recycling, as he makes his sculptures out of things like old sports equipment and hubcaps. His art typically follows the theme of African-American history and is truly one of the most eclectic places in all of Alabama.
This beach in southeast Alaska has some of the best preserved Native American rock carvings scattered along its shore. These amazing formations are located about a mile outside of town and are estimated to be about 8,000 years old. Although there is no way to know the true meanings of the carvings, many guesses have been made as to what they are documenting.
This 13-mile-long glacier is located just south of downtown in the capital city. It is part of the Tongass National Forest, and it leads right to Mendenhall Lake. Mysteriously, the glacier gives off a unique blue color because of the way that it absorbs the light. Although it may look like it’s sitting still, it is actually moving at a “glacial” pace.
This unique attraction was built in the 1920s by George Phar Legler whose mission was to spread kindness, imagination and mental health. The winding paths, stone towers and walls, and hidden grottoes give a lot of opportunities for exploration. The Moon is hard to put into words and is a place that you have to see to understand. It is only open on the first Saturdays (free) and third Sundays ($5) of each month, so make sure to check the calendar before going.
Although the original purpose of the biosphere was to study how to maintain human life in space, it is now dedicated to the understanding of many different global scientific issues. This unique building is owned by the University of Arizona and gives tours daily.
Joseph Knoble Brewery, built in the 1850s, is the only known surviving mid-19th century brewery in the state of Arkansas. Not only is it on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is also a restaurant with a beer garden.
The USS Razorback is open for tours at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. It is the longest-serving submarine that still exists in the entire world, as it was active for 57 years during World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Contrary to popular belief, it is not named after Arkansas’s famous mascot, but it actually got its name from a whale species. It is just a happy coincidence.
This authentic Wild West ghost town once had a population of 10,000. After the gold-mining started to decline around 1915, people started moving away, with the last person moving away in 1943. The interiors of the buildings remain exactly as they were left. Some are even still stocked with different goods. Take a tour or explore the town on your own.
One of Forbes’s “10 Amazing Castles” was built in 1919 to be the home for famous newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Invites to the castle were sought after by Hollywood and political elite, and many famous names have walked through the halls of this beautiful piece of architecture. Hearst even had a private zoo and today, many animals, including zebras, still live on the property.
Located right on the 16th Street Mall is one of the most unusual art galleries in Denver. Two inflatable pink bunnies greet visitors into the contemporary art collection, established in 1988 by the Dikeou siblings, who are artists and art collectors. This free museum features pieces from over 30 international artists.
This attraction is for the bravest of adrenaline junkies. The giant swing will take you through Williams Canyon at 100 miles per hour. Located in the Cave of the Wind, this ride is not for the faint of heart.
Relive your childhood by taking a tour of the candy brand’s headquarters. There are lots of different PEZ themed exhibits, including a PEZ motorcycle and the world’s largest candy dispenser. You can even see the production area and learn how the candy is made and packaged.
Visit the place where “democracy was born” and walk the halls of Connecticut’s political history. The Old State House is also home to the Joseph Steward Museum of Curiosities, which is a collection of strange memorabilia, including a two-headed calf. The building has a reputation for being haunted and is the subject of an episode of Ghost Hunters, so check out the curiosities and watch out for ghosts!
This museum truly is a hidden “gem.” With lots of different rare and unusual minerals, the museum features skillfully carved gemstones and natural crystals. The museum began with Irene du Pont Sr.’s donated collection, and new finds are added each day.
This museum depicts the way of life for the Nanticoke Indian Tribe many, many years ago. Displays show different homemade tools, like arrowheads and axes. There is also lots of artwork, pottery and clothing on display. The museum even has a replica of the village that the Nanticoke lived in. Some of the artifacts date back to 8000 BC.
Reaching 100 feet high, Falling Waters is Florida’s highest waterfall. It falls into a giant sinkhole, and the final destination of the water is still unknown. There are walking trails that take you to other sinkholes, and one that even goes to a butterfly garden.
This state park is home to the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County – a lighthouse that was built in 1825. There are tours of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, along with a beautiful beach, ranked as one of the “Top 10 Beaches in America.” Complete with two Cuban restaurants, this is the perfect place for a day trip.
Built in 1980, a set of stones that show 10 “guidelines” in eight different languages stand tall in Georgia. This attraction is sometimes referred to as “American Stonehenge.” They have been the center of quite a few conspiracy theories, as no one actually knows the origin or true meaning behind the stones.
Allen Woodall, Jr. has put his lunchbox collection on display. He has thousands of different metal lunchboxes, and any of his duplicates are for sale. He also has other collections on display too, including Southern stoneware, model airplanes, and classic cars.
Scuba divers can explore the plane wreck just 3 miles out form the Hawaii Kai marina. A Captain on a mission from Pearl Harbor ran out of fuel in 1948. He made a perfect water landing, allowing the plane to sink to the bottom of the ocean with no damage. The Captain was rescued and is responsible for the perfect scuba dive location.
This pineapple attraction began simply as a fruit stand in 1950. Now, the Dole Plantation offers many different entertainment options, including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, Plantation Garden Tour, and the Pineapple Garden Maze. No trip to the plantation is complete without trying the world famous DoleWhip.
The Reserve not only covers 6.2 miles of the California National Historic Trail, but also boasts giant granite formations standing over 70 stories tall. It’s the perfect place for rock climbers. The Reserve is also home to Idaho’s only pinyon pine forest. There are lots of different activities for visitors, including camping, hiking, rock climbing and horseback riding.
This unique bed & breakfast is in a building made in the shape of a beagle. The rooms inside of “Sweet Willy” are dog themed and are every dog person’s dream. Conveniently, reservations for a room can be made on Airbnb, where the inn gets rave reviews.
This winery floats down the Mississippi River as you taste over 100 wines from all around the world. The Grafton Harbor has been nicknamed “The Key West of the Midwest,” so it definitely promises a good time.
Tours are available of this home that was inspired by the magic of the Egyptian pyramids. The six-story home is the largest 24-karat gold-plated object in North America. The home is guarded by a 50-foot statue of King Tut. The owners of the pyramid use five words to describe it: “Power, Gold, Mystery, Exotic, Impressive.”
This Indiana museum features 80 years of comics, toys, film and animation history. The Hall of Heroes is home to many rare items, 60,000 comic books, and 10,000 toys. It also displays quite a few original movie props, including Captain America’s shield from the first movie and Adam West’s personal Batman costume.
This mysterious optical illusion seems to defy gravity. It seems to pull objects at the bottom back up the hill. The best way to try this is with an object, like a basketball or can of soda, and be amazed as it starts to roll up the hill. However, if you are feeling extra risky, some people have tried parking at the bottom, putting their cars in neutral and watching as they get pulled back up the hill.
The home is the backdrop of the famous Grant Wood painting, American Gothic. Although it was a private residence, it now is available for tours. The neighboring visitor’s center contains an exhibit about the painting and provides similar outfits to those that the subjects of the painting are wearing so that visitors can have their photo taken.
Ever wanted to be on set of a magazine photo shoot? Well, this is pretty close. The Test Garden is not only the testing grounds for new plants for Better Homes and Gardens, but it is also the site where the majority of their garden photo shoots are taken. Visitors are free to roam on their own or can request a tour.
A Kansas artist, Erika Nelson, created a museum that is dedicated to iconic roadside attractions. She travels to the World’s Largest Things, takes a photo and creates a tiny replica to be added to her collection. Quite a few of the small versions have even been back to visit their larger counterparts, and those photos are also on display.
Liberal, KS has proclaimed itself the official home of Dorothy from the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz. You can take a tour led by guides dressed as Dorothy through a replica of the home from the movie as well as the Land of Oz. There is a 5,000 square foot exhibit and animated journey that takes you through the movie.
This museum is home to over 80 Corvettes from a wide span of time periods, including some special, one-of-a-kind models. The museum’s Hall of Fame honors people who have made significant contributions to the Corvette brand, like racers or general managers. Out back, there is a race track where a professional driver can take you on a ride in one of the Corvettes.
The State Park is most famous for the waterfall that is located there, sometimes referred to as “Little Niagra.” Cumberland Falls is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a moonbow is regularly visible. A moonbow is a rainbow that is produced by moonlight instead of by sunlight. The moonbows are best when there is a full moon, and the Kentucky Department of Parks regularly updates their schedule so visitors know when one will be visible.
This ancient Native American settlement was handbuilt well over 3,400 years ago. The stunning landscapes, 72-foot-tall mound and half-circles were once home to a couple of Native American tribes, but it was abandoned around 1100 B.C. with minimal human activity since. No one knows the true meaning behind the formations or why they were built.
There is a hiking trail right behind Town Hall in Harpswell, ME. It leads to a cliff overlook about 150 feet off the ground. That’s not the only place to see an amazing view, as the entire trail runs alongside Strawberry Creek. Along the trail, there are fairy houses which are little “homes” built out of all-natural materials. Visitors are invited to build their own for others to find.
This interesting roadside attraction celebrates the wild blueberry – one of just three fruits native to North America. The main attraction at the park is the giant blueberry-shaped building selling quirky souvenirs, blueberry jams and jellies, and the most popular items – scones and pies. There is also a wild blueberry themed mini golf course in the back.
Smith island, right in the Chesapeake Bay, is only accessible by boat. Catch a ferry out there to try the world’s best crab cake and homemade eight-layer Smith Island cake, the official dessert of Maryland. Although you can’t take your car with you, there are golf carts and bikes available for rental to explore the island.
Dan’s Rock sits at the top of Dan’s Mountain, which is 2,898 feet tall, making it one of the tallest points in Maryland. It’s a great spot for hikers and rock climbers, and at the very top, you can enjoy an amazing view of the Potomac River flowing into West Virginia.
This three-story, stained glass globe shows the world map as it was in 1935. It is the only place in the world where the surface of the earth is seen without distortion since you view it from the inside instead of the outside. Another phenomenon of the globe is its acoustics. Sometimes it is referred to as the “whispering gallery” because if you whisper something on one side of the globe, someone standing on the other side will be able to hear you loud and clear.
The Witch House used to be the home of Witch Trials Judge, Jonathan Corwin. It is the only structure still standing directly tied to the Witch Trials of 1692. Tours of the home incorporate history of the Witch Trials as well as information on seventeenth century architecture.
Marvin has been collecting vintage, coin-operated machines since the 1950s. In 1990, he decided to open up a museum. Most of the machines still work, so visitors are encouraged to bring coins with them in order to really enjoy all of the games and attractions.
In the small town of Kaleva (population 509), there sits a home constructed out of 60,000 bottles from a local bottling factory. Although it was originally built to be a family home, it is now a historical museum featuring items from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rumor has it that the word “pop,” which some people use in the place of “soda,” originated at this bottling factory, but who truly knows?
The ultimate mystery meat has its own museum in the same town its mother company is headquartered in. Interactive exhibits walk visitors through the history of the company and the development of the canned meat. You can even participate in working the assembly line that produces about 44,000 cans an hour.
The famous architect once had plans for an entire futuristic, utopian society that he wanted to build. Although, he never got to do that before his death in 1959, one piece of it did get built – a gas station in Minnesota. It’s built in a futuristic style, complete with a watchtower on top. The gas station is still open and is the perfect place for a fun fill-up.
Mississippi’s “Little Grand Canyon” lives up to its name with steep slopes of red clay, soil and sand. It’s a great place to hike and a nice little surprise that’s different from the rest of the geography of Mississippi.
Located at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, Small Town, Mississippi is a life-size replica of a 1920s crossroads town. The goal is to preserve a way of life that doesn’t exist anymore. In the town, there is a blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, schoolhouse, and many other different buildings and shops that depict what life used to be like.
The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis is home to both the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame. On top of that, the museum offers different exhibits that walk visitors through the history of the game. It features trophies, scorecards, chess sets and other important artifacts from some of the world’s most significant players.
A piece of the Berlin Wall stands on a small college campus in central Missouri. Westminster College was the site of Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946 and now, the National Churchill Museum. One year after the wall fell, his granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, proposed moving a piece of the wall to the site of the famous speech.
This valley is unique because it is one of the most biologically diverse areas in all of Montana. Because of its low elevation and high precipitation, it is classified as a rainforest – the only one in Montana. Although it is not home to many humans, it is home to lots of wildlife, including grizzly bears, lynx and mountain lions.
After most of the city burned down in 1904, Havre shopkeepers restarted their businesses in their basements. Eventually, a tunnel system was built to connect all of the shops, which became useful for smuggling liquor during Prohibition. You can take a tour of the town, most of which has been moved back above ground.
The chalk mine opened about 130 years ago and peaked in the 1920s. As chalk’s popularity declined, so did the need for the mine, so it is now open for the public to tour the 6,000 feet of tunnels. Bring a jacket because the mines sit at a cool 56 degrees all year long.
This museum, located inside the headquarters for USA Roller Sports, highlights people and artifacts that have made roller history. There are many different exhibits, including one on the evolution of roller skates. Different types of skating are covered in the exhibits, like roller hockey, speed skating and roller derby.
This unique museum is dedicated to iconic Las Vegas signs. Each one displayed is a national treasure of artistic and historical importance. Outside of the museum is the Neon Boneyard, which is an exhibition of giant neon signs. This part of the museum is only available through a guided tour.
Around 40 years ago, a geyser was created in a well-drilling-gone-wrong. Dissolved minerals began accumulating (and continue accumulate) to create the unique shape. Geothermal boiling water is constantly being sprayed from the top, and the vivid colors along the sides are caused by thermophilic algae.
The Redstone Rocket is a decommissioned missile now installed in the middle of a public park. This missile was the first to carry nuclear weapons and was used for many other military missions during the Cold War.
Formerly Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, this closed zoo turned public park is a nice place to spend a couple of hours. The animal cages are still standing, so visitors can see what a zoo would look like from the opposite perspective. There is also a miniature railroad, a 9/11 memorial, and an “Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe” model home. Benson’s Park was once home to the huge gorilla that once ran for President of the United States!
This unique brewery offers the option for visitors to make their own beer, wine or mead right on the premises. The process can take weeks, however, so this is the place to go to if you’re on a long-term visit or just a local looking for fun things to do. Even still, it’s a cool place to look through, especially if they have an event going on!
This museum was the home of Aaron Burr’s wife during the Revolutionary War (even though they didn’t actually get married until after the war). During times of fighting, the house acted as General George Washington’s headquarters for him and his team. After being passed through multiple owners and acting as a restaurant for a while, the house was given to the state of New Jersey. A trip to the museum will take you through over 250 years of American history.
Plaza Blanca’s white limestone rock formation is the subject of Georgia O’Keefe’s painting, “The White Place,” along with many other painting and photographs. This unique wonder is a great place to take a hike and also is a gorgeous view! Just don’t forget your good hiking shoes.
On this remote desert stands 400 stainless steel poles just over 20 feet tall to attract lightning. You shouldn’t visit during a storm, but the poles are beautiful during sunrise and sunset when they reflect a unique gold. It’s been said that standing right in the middle of Lightning Field is a “mind-altering” experience. Not many people can visit at once, so don’t forget to make reservations before you go.
Not your typical dream house, this truly unique place is hard to describe. A composer and artist worked together to create a place that would fully submerge visitors into a sound and light experience. Every move you make creates a sound while you’re simultaneously completely surrounded by neon pink light.
This tiny museum is easy to walk right by if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Housed in a freight elevator down an alley, this museum is dedicated to displaying the overlooked, dismissed or ignored.” One item they have is the shoe that was thrown at George W. Bush in Baghdad. Some exhibitions are World-Leader-Used-Tissues and Bread Clips or Occlupanid Taxonomy.
This appropriately-named waterfall is unknown to most people, so you definitely will not find a lot of tourists here. At the bottom is a swimming hole, and all of this is just an easy half-mile hike from the parking area.
This whimsical town was once a bustling oceanfront community. However, since the beach erodes at 14 feet a year, a lot of it has been destroyed. There are houses on stilts out in the water, but originally, they were built three blocks from the ocean. This little town is definitely a must-see before it all washes away.
The large International Peace Garden sits on the border between North Dakota and Canada. It was originally created to honor 200 years of peace between the U.S. and Canada. The garden features a Peace Chapel, a 9/11 memorial, a floral clock and floral flags, and much, much more.
The town of Jud, ND is truly a tiny town. With only 76 residents, you may be wondering why we’re recommending you check it out. Not only are there lots of neat, unique and historical buildings, but almost every flat surface in the town is covered by a mural. These paintings are definitely a sight to see.
When the same glacier that created the Great Lakes was moving through Ohio, rocks and debris that were caught in the ice cut into the limestone ground, creating the Grooves. The Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island are the largest and most accessible grooves in the world.
Have an adventure in the forest and stay in one of these treehouses or cabins for the night. All the lodging was built with sustainability in mind, using solar power and recycled materials. The business operates on a “Leave No Trace” model and asks that visitors do so as well.
The Great Salt Plains State Park is covered with leftover salt from when the ocean covered Oklahoma in prehistoric times. There is also a lake in the area, the Great Salt Plains Lake, that is half as salty as the ocean. There are lots of activities to do – swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and digging for crystals. Oklahoma is the only place in the world where the crystals are naturally hourglass shaped.
Started as a memorial for his wife, Chris started making sculptures out of bowling balls, which quickly gave him the nickname of “Bowling Ball Man.” All over his lawn are pieces of artwork and specialty bowling balls, like Scooby-Doo, Star Wars, NASCAR and many more.
This structure was built on the summit of McKenzie Pass out of lava stone. The observatory has holes in the walls that specifically frame the peaks of neighboring mountains to ensure the best view of them. On top of that, the lava stone gives the structure a very unique look.
The Oregon House of Mystery is a place full of strange things that no one – not even the tour guides – can explain. Crooked buildings, things rolling uphill, people randomly losing their balance and changing height all make for one interesting roadside attraction. Legend has it all these phenomenons are due to a paranormal presence on the land, but we guess you’ll just have to check it out for yourself to decide.
One of the most famous guitar brands – whose owners include Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Freedy Johnston – is open in Nazareth for free tours. The factory takes visitors through the 300 steps it takes to make the perfect guitar, and the museum tells the history of guitar-making from the first days of the instrument to the state-of-the-art process used today.
The Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous prison in the world, as it was the first “penitentiary” style prison. Meant to reform rather than punish, the design of the prison was revolutionary. Over 300 prisons worldwide have been modeled after Eastern State since its creation. Take a tour of the halls once occupied by famous criminals like “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.
During the Revolutionary War, this area housed many different military forts. Now, it’s been turned into a unique state park. There is a lighthouse with a museum attached, hiking trails, overlooks with amazing views and some of the best saltwater fishing in the area.
Despite the name, this is not a place where umbrellas are made or a museum all about the history of people getting rained on. In fact, it is marketplace that sells items from local and international craftspeople. From stained glass to handmade jewelry to instruments, the Umbrella Factory offers the most unique gifts.
This farm offers tours that are fun for the whole family. In the barn, you can hang out with the animals, bottle feed the cows, and make your own butter. There are different types of tours the farm offers, so make sure to call in advance before going.
The Hagood Mill is the perfect place to take a step back in time and truly experience history. Along with a fully functioning 1845 water-powered gristmill, there are also two restored log cabins, a cotton gin, and nature trails.
The world’s only Corn Palace features murals on the walls made out of colored corn. Each year, the murals come down, and new ones go up, using 13 different colors of corn. There are tours to show visitors the process that goes behind creating the giant masterpieces. Surprisingly, when The Corn Palace isn’t open to visitors, it’s used for proms, graduations and even basketball tournaments.
Close to Main Street in the heart of downtown Rapid City sits an alley dedicated to the freedom of expression. A public art project that began in 2005 attracts artists of all ages and encourages them to leave their mark (literally) on the walls. As you walk through, you’ll notice that the “art gallery” changes daily as more and more people paint over what was previously there.
In 1942, the federal government mysteriously purchased the land in Oak Ridge and created an entire community from scratch. Turns out, this was the first and largest of the three Manhattan Project sites used to develop the atomic bomb. The town was one giant secret – couldn’t be found on a map and billboards on roads leaving town read, “What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, what you leave here – let it stay here.” Now, it’s just like any other town – just with abandoned guard towers around the perimeter and a museum dedicated to the Manhattan Project.
Underneath the ground of Sweetwater is a giant lake. Hike through the caves, and at the very end take a boat ride around America’s Largest Underground Lake. There are also a few nature trails around the outside of the caves, so it’s a great geological adventure.
This interesting small town has quite the arts and culture scene. Artists have installed their work here, and many movies have used it as a filming location. Most famous of all, however, is probably the Marfa lights, which can be observed near US Route 67. No one can really explain where they come from, although many people have given theories – from paranormal activity to mirages from temperature changes, to simply reflections of car lights.
Cattail Falls is one of Texas’s best kept secrets! Not many people know about it and it can’t be found on any of the trail maps, but when you get to the end, you’ll understand why the long hike is totally worth it. The trail ends at a canyon with a beautiful waterfall, which some have described as a “rewarding oasis.”
These 22 ton concrete tunnels sit in the middle of the desert, with the purpose of “bringing the sky down to earth.” Holes are drilled in the sides to line up perfectly with the sunrise, sunset, and a few constellations. They are amazing all year long, but especially during summer and winter solstices.
During the winters in Midway, there is a giant castle made solely out of ice. Visitors are encouraged to explore the beautiful outside, rooms inside, and furniture all made of ice. Because frozen water is the only material used to build this masterpiece, it is only open during the winter season after its been rebuilt.
Ever wondered what happens to those delicious Ben and Jerry’s flavors after they’ve been retired from the shelves? Turns out, they are laid to rest in their very own cemetery, right behind their Vermont factory (which is open for tours daily). Each headstone has a clever little poem describing the taste, so pay your respects to your favorite flavors by dropping in for a quick visit.
In a society full of crazy and unusual museums, here’s one filled with perfectly familiar objects. Collections and exhibitions rotate through, and some past ones have included the full history of the safety pin, the match, and the toothbrush.
On a private farm in rural Virginia stand 43 giant busts of past American presidents. When Presidents Park, their previous home, closed in 2010, a Virginia man, Howard Hankins, couldn’t bear to see the sculptures destroyed, so he transferred all of the 22,000 pound heads to his property. Please note that the presidents do now live on private property, so visitors are not always allowed. Explore at your own risk (or just drive by)!
This building used to be the home of a historic medication company, owned by generations of one family, but was forced to close its doors during the Great Depression. Almost immediately, it was turned into a museum and most of the inside looks exactly as it did on the store’s last day of business. Over the years, products were sold to many famous war veterans, including George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
Not only does the opening to this cave look like the body of a rhinoceros, it was one! Back in ancient times, a volcano erupted, and unfortunately the rhino couldn’t escape. Lava cooled around the shape of the animal, creating a new cave. The outside is also a great place for hiking and rock climbing.
This art museum celebrates the most tacky and terrible pieces. Located inside Cafe Racer (which has the artery-clogging Wonder Weiner on the menu), the gallery features those black velvet paintings, paint-by-number pictures and paintings of dogs playing poker.
The Blenko Glass factory has been making hand-blown glass since 1893. The craft was passed down through the family ever since. Tours are offered of the manufacturing facility, where visitors can watch colorful glass being blown, see some historic pieces, and stroll through the shop which sells recently completed pieces.
In a tiny West Virginia town, population 59, there sits a traditional Swiss restaurant. The menu is full of secret Swiss family restaurants, giving it a super authentic feel. Visitors have said eating at this restaurant is truly a unique dining experience.
On top of Deer Shelter Rock sits a house built by Alex Jordan, Jr. who drew his inspiration from his father, Alex Jordan, Sr., and Frank Lloyd Wright. Since it first opened to the public in 1959, many structures have been added to make it into a community of tourist attractions. Not only is it home to the world’s largest indoor carousel, but there is also the “Infinity Room” which juts out 218 feet from the edge of rock – with no supports underneath!
Unlike the mirror of its name (see above), this landmark happened by chance. In an unfortunate accident, a 55-ton boulder came tumbling down a hill and crashed right into the house sitting at the bottom. Luckily, no one was injured in the accident, and instead of paying a fortune to have it removed, they opened the otherwise unremarkable house for tours.
Tim Kellogg, a true Wyoming cowboy, hand makes and sells chocolates daily. He sells specialized truffles, brownies and other sweet treats. A huge emphasis is placed on sustainability by using recycled materials, and the chocolatier only produces one bag of garbage a week. If you want to taste these candies, you’ll have to travel to Wyoming, as he doesn’t sell anywhere else so that he can ensure the quality of his chocolate.
Throughout history, the Oregon Trail has been one of the most widely used trails among western migrants. Due to such heavy use, some parts have been really worn down, causing wagons to get stuck. These ruts have been preserved, so visitors can actually see some of the abandoned wagons.
It’s the perfect time to start preparing for a fun winter out on the slopes – even if you’ve never been skiing before! With time and effort, you can learn to ski, no matter your age or athletic ability. Don’t wait until you’re already at that Colorado ski resort and all of your friends and family have already gone out to enjoy the snow. Here are a few ways you can start preparing now:
Get Everything You’ll Need
An artist can’t be an artist without the right tools. Same goes for skiing! Make sure to stock up on warm and waterproof clothing. The key is to dress in layers. Invest in some thick gloves and socks, and make sure that your arms and legs will be fully covered. You’ll definitely want to be comfortable and have a little extra padding in case of a fall. Most resorts will have an option for equipment rentals, which is the way to go if it’s your first time. You’ll want boots, skis and poles that fit your body perfectly. Last but not least, you can’t forget the snacks! Packing a bag of quick pick-me-ups is essential. You’ll want water, and snacks with lots of protein, like nuts.
Start an Exercise Routine
Believe it or not, it’s super important to have built up a little bit of muscle and endurance before you even step foot onto the slopes. It’s important to be fit and flexible and to focus on your legs when working out. Check out this exercise program to inspire yours before you s tart to ski. It breaks down everything you should do in the 6 weeks leading up to your trip.
Learn from a Professional
The most important thing you can do before skiing on your own is taking a lesson. The best way to learn is from the professionals, and conveniently, almost every ski resort offers time for you to learn from them. Not only will you feel more confident when you hit the slopes, but you’ll have learned all of the proper techniques to get yourself down the mountain.
Learn the Right Techniques
One tip to keep in mind while you’re getting the hang of skiing has to do with your feet. Most beginners want to let their feet lead their bodies, but this causes them to fall. Instead, remind yourself to keep your feet under you, so you’ll have more balance. And always keep your knees bent!
Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve had the cliche, “practice makes perfect,” preached to you since you were a toddler, but it’s true! The only way to continue getting better at skiing is to practice, practice, practice. Every chance you get, practice your skiing techniques, and you’ll see faster improvement.
Don’t Give Up!
The truth is that skiing is difficult. Don’t expect to master it right away. Even the pros had to put in years of practice. Don’t give up on yourself, and always remember that skiing should be fun! It’s okay to fall (and to laugh at yourself when you do)!
Chicago, the “Windy City,” is one of the top most visited cities in the nation. The third-most populous city in the United States is home to over 2.7 million residents and lots of things to do on a business trip or vacation.
Chicago has plenty of parks and places that you have to go to while you’re in town. Millennium Park is home to some of the city’s best art and architecture (including the famous Bean), gardens and landscapes, and free events and exhibitions. Navy Pier sits right on Lake Michigan and has all different restaurants, shops and attractions, like the Centennial Ferris Wheel. The Shedd Aquarium not only has amazing architecture and a global animal collection, but they also are leaders in animal and environmental care. Skydeck Chicago sits at the top of Willis Tower, and welcomes visitors out onto the “Ledge” where you can get a one of a kind view of the city of Chicago. The Tribune Tower is widely regarded as “the most beautiful building in the world,” because of its gorgeous architecture that includes actual pieces of other famous structures, including rock from the Alamo, the Colosseum and the Great Wall of China.
Of course, the city that invented the Twinkie is widely regarded as one of the best cities with the best food in the United States. With celebrity chefs, world-renowned restaurants and ethnic dining from all over the globe, Chicago is known for a variety of food. Most sought out is deep dish pizza, and the original can be found at Uno Pizzeria & Grill. Chicago is also known for its brunch scene, where there are plenty of restaurants to ensure that the most important meal of the day is skipped. The Chicago style hot dog was invented in – you guessed it – Chicago, and the best can be found at Portillo’s. With 26 Michelin ranked restaurants and 52 Bib Gourmand ranked restaurants, you definitely will not go hungry.
Sporting News has named Chicago the “Best Sports City” three separate times, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Chicago is one of only 10 US cities to have a sports team in all five of the major sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer). If you’re a baseball fan, catch a game at Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play, or at Guaranteed Rate Field, where the Chicago White Sox play. The Chicago Bears play football at Soldier Field, and the Chicago Fire plays soccer at Toyota Park. Both the Chicago Bulls, basketball, and the Chicago Blackhawks, hockey, play their games at United Center. Chicago also showcases female athletes with both the Chicago Sky, basketball, that plays at Allstate Arena and the Chicago Red Stars, soccer, that play at Toyota Park.
Chicago’s got museums for history, nature and culture all covered. The Field Museum of Natural History has over 30 permanent exhibitions full of biological and anthropological artifacts. The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world that aims to motivate and inspire every “inventive genius.” The Adler Planetarium has exhibits all about space and space exploration, with the mission of sparking excitement and curiosity.
Chicago is a city with a lot of history, and there are a variety of bus and boat tours to take you around to learn more. The Big Bus Chicago Tour takes you all over the city and allows you to hop on and hop off as you please. This is perfect for getting all around Chicago and exploring at your own pace. The Crime and Mob Bus Tour stops at famous crime scenes, takes you by famous landmarks and tells you all about different famous criminals and mobsters in Chicago, like Al Capone, the Chicago Mob and the Chicago Black Sox. The city of Chicago is known for its beautiful and innovative architecture, and the Chicago Architecture River Cruise shows you why the city’s buildings rank third in the world. The Chicago Segway Tour teaches you how to ride a segway and then takes you for a ride through some of Chicago’s most famous neighborhoods.
As one of the “12 Best Cities in the US to See Art,” Chicago is the place for every art lover. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the nation, and is home to a large number of famous paintings, including Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Pablo Picasso’s Old Guitarist and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The Chicago Theater is a famous landmark known for its beautiful architecture and the organ inside that has the ability to sound like an entire orchestra. In the Loop, there is the Chicago Picasso, a sculpture by Picasso himself, that has become a famous landmark, even though no one quite knows what it is supposed to be a sculpture of. Guesses range from a bird to an aardvark to an Afghan hound to the Egyptian deity Anubis, so check it out and try to guess for yourself. Chicago is also the birthplace of improvisational comedy, so it’s necessary to see a show while you’re in town. There are a variety of different comedy clubs all over town, but a few include The Second City, iOTheater and Laugh Factory.
From designer stores to outlet malls, Chicago has shopping for everyone. The most famous place to hit while in town is the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. With three malls and stores like Nike, Chanel and Nordstrom, you could spend your whole trip walking up and down this street. The Fashion Outlets are best if you like getting a bang for your buck. With shops from worldly designers to big department stores, you’ll be able to find deals everywhere you look.
You’ve got the most amazing vacation planned: lots of fun things to do, places to eat, and sights to see. The only thing that’s standing between you and your week of pure bliss is…a layover in Chicago. The seconds feel like they’re dragging by as you’re sitting at the gate, just waiting to board that plane. Instead of distracting yourself with social media or games on your phone, use these tips to make your layover fly (pun intended) by!
No matter what you’re craving, O’Hare has it. Each terminal has mouth-watering places to grab a quick meal. Check out Tortas Frontera (Terminals 1, 3 & 5), owned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless, for some delicious Mexican. It’sBon Appetit’s “best airport restaurant,” and the reason that a Chicago Tribune writer wants to get delayed at O’Hare. Another amazing option is the Wolfgang Puck Cafe (Terminal 5), owned by the celebrity chef, for pizza and sandwiches. There’s also La Tapenade (Terminals 1, 2 & 3), which features flavors from the Mediterranean, and Wow Bao (Terminal 5), known for its “hot Asian buns.” And, of course, a trip to Chicago (even if you never leave the airport) wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Garrett’s. Get the world-famous popcorn as a souvenir for someone or as a treat for yourself.
Sit Back & Relax
“Relaxation” may sound like the exact opposite of hanging out in an airport, so you might be surprised by all the amenities O’Hare has to offer. There’s a yoga room located just past security in Terminal 3. Mats are provided and monitors show popular yoga positions, so whether you’ve never done yoga before or you’re a professional, this is the perfect place to get away from the bustle of the airport. There are also spas if you’re in the mood for a less active type of relaxation. The Terminal Gateway Spa is in Terminals 1 & 3, and for a quicker service, the XpressSpa is in Terminal 5. If shopping for relaxation is more your style, there are amazing stores all over the airport.
For the Kids
If you’ve got the kiddos with you, don’t worry. There are plenty of cool things to keep their attention during your layover. The Kids on the Fly play area is located in Terminal 2, featuring interactive airplane and helicopter models. Kids can also check out a model control tower. There is also a Brachiosaurus skeleton replica on the upper level of Terminal 1. The dinosaur stands over 40 feet tall, and is an amazing sight for both kids and adults.
Chicago’s Public Art Program has decorated the airport with pieces from local and national artists, making a stroll around the terminals feel like a museum. One of the most popular pieces is the Sky’s the Limit neon light installation. This instagram-worthy spot is on the ceiling of the underground walkway between concourses B and C in Terminal 1. If you’re looking for something a little more active, check out the Hilton Athletic Club. There are day passes available for this gym that’s located in the hotel attached to the airport. Underground walkways are connected to Terminals 1, 2 & 3. After your workout, check out the aeroponic garden in Terminal 3. This type of gardening uses a nutrient solution to keep plants growing instead of soil. This specific garden not only grows produce that the airport restaurants use, it also doubles as a perfect spot to lounge before your flight.
We all know that a long layover is the worst, but with these tips, you can make the most of your time in the Chicago O’Hare airport. Got any more tips? We’d love to hear them!
Although Missouri might sound like just another fly-over state to you, it is home to loads of hidden treasures. It turns out that the perfect place for your next vacation might just be waiting for you in mid-Missouri. With cities like Columbia (“Athens of Missouri”), Jefferson City (2013’s “Most Beautiful Small Town in America”) and Lake of the Ozarks (“The Missouri Dragon”), there’s never a shortage of things to do.
It’s real. The Midwest is one of the most well-mannered places in the US, and Time’s “Mood Map” even ranked Missouri as “Friendly & Conventional”. There’s always someone holding the door open or smiling and saying “hi” as you walk by.
Lots of beer
Missouri should be nicknamed “Land of Beer”. With Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, and many local breweries in mid-Missouri, a beer lover would be in heaven. If you’re looking for a local brew in Columbia, there’s Logboat Brewing Co., Broadway Brewery, or even local favorite restaurant/pub/brewery, Flatbranch. If you’re in the mood for something a little more worldly, there’s the Craft Beer Cellar or the International Tap House. In Jefferson City, there’s Prison Brews, a local brewery and the only place to play a great game of bocce ball.
Speaking of sports, here in the midwest, tailgating is practically a sport of its own. People surround themselves with friends, cheeseburgers, and the beloved game of cornhole. The object isn’t just to make the mini bean bag into the hole, but also to have the most decorative cornhole set in the entire parking lot.
Locally sourced food
If eating green is your thing, mid-Missouri is your place. Restaurants all over the area only use locally sourced food from farmers’ markets to make their scrumptious signature dishes. In Columbia, at places like Cafe Berlin, Main Squeeze, Sycamore and many, many others, you can eat a delicious meal and know exactly where your food is coming from. Madison’s Cafe, Vitality Cafe and The Grand Cafe all get their goods from farmers in the Jefferson City area. Down at the Lake, The Duck and Paint Box Cafe are just a couple of examples of locally sourced restaurants.
True/False Film Fest
One of the biggest film festivals in the midwest happens right here in Columbia. The True/False Film Fest draws in huge crowds, debuts new documentaries, and features live music before every show. Who knows, you could even run into a few celebrities, as famous director Spike Lee made an appearance at last year’s event.
The ultimate college town
The SEC’s newest addition, the nation’s top-ranked school of journalism, the home of the Tigers. The University of Missouri, one of the most beautiful campuses in the Midwest, is right in the middle of Columbia. Walk down the same sidewalks that celebrities like Brad Pitt, Jon Hamm, and Sheryl Crow once did. The University of Missouri even invented the annual tradition of Homecoming. Each year, alumni and people that just like to celebrate come to Columbia during this time to see a huge parade, a decorated campus, and a fantastic game of football.
As the second all-women’s college in the nation, Stephens College prides itself on helping women get one step closer to achieving their dreams. With one of the top rated theater and fashion programs, there is always a show to catch and art to see.
With over 33 remote campuses nation-wide, Columbia College educates people from all over the world. A deep pride in academics and athletics and beautiful, historic buildings make the campus absolutely amazing to take a stroll through.
Show-Me State Games
According to ESPN, the Show-Me State Games are one of the 101 Things All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die. All year long, this non-profit organization puts on sporting events that Missourians and non-Missourians alike can participate in. With every sport represented, ranging from pickleball to judo to synchronized swimming, these events are a great time for people of all ages.
The art scene
The downtown skyline, the gorgeous landscapes and diversity of people makes Columbia full of endless inspiration for artists galore. As you walk downtown, you’ll pass art gallery after art gallery. Bluestem, Artlandish, and Orr Street Gallery are just a few places where local artists get to show if their work. And if you’re feeling crafty, stop by the Mud Room to put your own spin on some pottery.
The original state prison that was first opened in 1836 and decommissioned in 2004 now gives tours, showcasing 168 years of history. Walk the same halls as boxer Sonny Liston and James Earl Ray inside what used to be the largest prison in the US. There are also multiple ghost tours that are offered from guides that will outline strange occurrences from within the penitentiary’s walls.
This area would just be called the Ozarks without the giant lake that spans 92 miles from end to end. The body of water twists and turns so that from up above, it looks like a huge serpent (which is how the area got its nickname). With over 1150 miles of shoreline, 57,000 acres of water and 150 marinas, the lake provides itself to endless opportunities to boat, tube, water ski, swim and much, much more water fun.
No matter your experience level, the Lake of the Ozarks is every golfer’s dream. With 12 unique golf courses for a more experienced golfer and 11 mini golf courses for a more laid back player, there’s over 180 holes to play.
It’s not unusual to run into people that came to the Ozarks just for the shopping and not necessarily for the lake. The area has multiple outlet malls with big name brands, including the largest one in Missouri. Small and unique boutiques are sprinkled all over for people looking for a more hometown flare. The Lake of the Ozarks also has 57 antique stores, so it’s likely that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The Lake of the Ozarks is home to Missouri’s newest state park, Ha Ha Tonka. On the almost 2500 acres of land stands a mansion that was built in 1905 but partially burned down in 1942. In 1978, the state of Missouri opened this area up for visitors, including what remains of the giant castle. The historical area is visited by thousands of people each year, promising a gorgeous hike and an amazing view.
It’s no secret that Colorado is one of the top vacation destinations for families during the winter. It may snow quite a bit, but the high altitude, low humidity and large amount of sunny days (300 a year!) make for the perfect weather for outdoor winter activities. Between the mountains and the snow, there are endless opportunities to have some family fun.
Skiing at Keystone Resort
When you think winter activities in Colorado, the first thing that comes to mind is probably skiing. With 27 ski areas and more than 40,000 acres of skiable terrain, it’s the place to go if you want to hit the slopes. For a fun family vacation, Keystone is the place to go. If you book a two-night stay at the resort, kids that are 12 and under ski for free! That’s a sweet deal.
Not big into skiing? No problem! Colorado offers a wide variety of other winter activities, and Copper Mountain is the best place to go tubing. Hop on an inflated tube and whiz down the side of the mountain. Tubing is fun for all ages (as long as you’re 3 feet tall), and is sure to provide some laughs for the rest of the trip!
Hiking enthusiasts can still take in the beauty of the trails during the winter too. Snowshoeing is a great activity, and the Frisco Nordic Center has a bunch of different trails for people with all different levels of experience. There aren’t many things that are more beautiful than hiking through the snowy mountains of Colorado, and kids under 6 get to snowshoe for free!
Opens Nov. 18.
1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the West Line of the Bustang.
Snowmobiling in Winter Park
With 5 different snowmobiling trails, Winter Park is the place for both beginners and advanced riders. They also offer family tours, with a guide that teaches you how to ride, takes you to the best spots, and has kid-sized snowmobiles to ride!
The best hills for sledding in Denver are at Ruby Hill Park. Not only is it super fun for the sledders, but it also has one of the best views overlooking downtown Denver. The best part is that the park is free for everyone to come enjoy the slopes!
Opens in January.
Snow fun in Denver
When the snow starts falling, there’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned snowman. Denver is the perfect place to play in the snow. From snow angels to a snowball fight, you’ll find it in Colorado. Plus, there are a bunch of little cafes around to grab a hot chocolate when you need a break from the cold!
With all of these activities, your family won’t be able to wait until they get to spend another winter in Colorado!
From the outside, Denver may seem like just another big city that happens to be by some mountains. But, it turns out that Denver has quite the history and a bunch of interesting facts you probably didn’t know about.
Here we go –
Denver is home to the 10th largest downtown area in the United States.
At just over 26 miles long, Colfax Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Denver, is the longest continuous street in the country.
Denver is one of the sunniest states in the US, as they average 300 sunny days a year.
Louis Ballast, owner of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In, invented the cheeseburger in 1935. Thank you Louis!
Denver loves food, as the first Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noodles & Co and Smashburger were all opened there.
The city sits one mile above sea level, making golf balls, baseballs and footballs all fly 10% farther than normal. It also means that alcohol hits you about twice as fast. For real.
A city had never turned down hosting the Olympics until Denver did in 1976, and a city hasn’t since.
The first male cheerleader for the Denver Broncos was none other than Robin Williams, when he dressed up in the sparkly uniform and cheered for a game as a stunt for his TV show, Mork & Mindy. Nanu-Nanu!
Over 200 named mountain peaks are visible from the city of Denver.
Denver is home to over 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas.
The state capitol building’s dome is plated with real 24K gold.
The Denver International Airport is the largest in the country in terms of land area. In fact, four of the other largest airports in the country (Heartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) could all actually fit inside.
The Denver Mint is the single largest producer of coins in the entire world, as they produce over 40 million a day. A coin that was made there often has a D on the front.
Denver’s current mayor, Michael Hancock, was a Broncos mascot when he was 17.
Columbia Regional Airport is served by American Airlines and United Airlines providing reliable and convenient direct, non-stop flights from Columbia to Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare and Denver International Airports! From those international hubs, you can travel to hundreds of cities and dozens of countries around the world! !
Ever wonder if you're really saving money flying from St. Louis or Kansas City for those "lower" fares? Check here to see what the "real" cost of flying from STL or MCI is. Or just take our word for it - less stress, free parking, short TSA lines - yep, it's better flying from COU! And when you land, you're home!