Readers offer tips, tricks for favorite vacation spots
There are plenty of ways to travel and plenty of ways to get where you’re going these days. Talk to enough people and you’ll find travel and favorite destinations can differ wildly depending on the person. Some travelers are lovers of history and spend time meticulously planning and researching museums and historic places to visit. Others have photo albums of beach destinations and are most happy listening to the sound of waves crashing and feeling sand between their toes. For my family, visiting National Parks with our sons has proven time and again to be the most memorable. Not only is the scenery incredible, the outdoor activity options are endless.
Take a trip with me this month as In & Around readers weigh in on some of their favorite destinations.
– Sonia Duggan
We had wanted to have a destination wedding of just the two of us, and after discussing several places, we chose this beautiful, remote part of Montana (Whitefish). It would be a great base location for some day trips and
the weather in May was typically nice.
We try to go places neither one of us have been to before so we can explore it together
for the first time. We had heard about Whitefish from several friends and wanted to check it out for ourselves. We are more mountain people than beach people so this was right up our alley. It also was interesting that it was so close to Canada and to Glacier National Park. We love visiting National Parks.
On this trip to Whitefish, we went all out since it was our wedding and honeymoon. We stayed at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake. It was a gorgeous hotel right on the lake (the only place in town which is actually on the lake.)
We would go back in a heartbeat! The wedding trip got busy and we did not get to make it across the border to Canada. We would love to go back and do that. Plus, do a few more hiking excursions and exploring in the area. And swim! Besides a guided fishing trip we did not get to enjoy Whitefish Lake as much as we could have.
Recommendations for potential vacationers:
Go visit Glacier National Park. You must do the ‘Going to the Sun Road’ in Glacier. It is a very winding road up the mountain with the most spectacular views! We wanted to enjoy the views without driving so we did the Red Jammer Bus Tours. You can leave the driving to someone else and do nothing but enjoy the scenery in the open-air bus. Plus, take your own snacks and drinks.
Also while in Montana you must have the local berry, the Huckleberry. It is in everything from jams and jellies to pancake syrup, and even the local beer. We tried the Wild Huckleberry Beer at the Great Northern Brewery in downtown Whitefish and my husband still talks about it! Downtown Whitefish is a darling area full of shops, restaurants and things to do.
Montana is not as easy to get to as some of the other mountain states, but once you get there, the views make it all worthwhile! The people are friendly and don’t be surprised if you meet a lot of Texans there. We did and had one of our wedding pictures made with their Texas Flag. -Margaret and Greg Barnett, Lavon
Disney is Delightful
Our first trip to Disney World was in 2007. Since then we’ve taken 14 trips to Disney World; 3 to Disneyland; 1 visit to Aulani. Vacationing at Walt Disney World is a shared love in the Beeks family. Even now that our kids are teenagers, they still choose Disney as a preferred vacation destination.
It’s impossible to choose one trip over another as a favorite. We have a blast every time, and each has been our favorite in its own way. One particular experience does stand out, however. In the summer of 2015, my husband became sick with a stomach virus at the beginning of our vacation, so he was confined to the hotel room for most of the trip. He missed out on everything we had planned, but, in particular, we had fast passes to a new ride at Magic Kingdom, and he wasn’t able to use his. The last evening of our trip, we went to Magic Kingdom, and as we were checking availability of fast passes, a cast member complimented my husband’s shirt. He told her that at one time we all had one, but the kids had outgrown theirs. We then casually mentioned that my husband had been sick and had missed riding the new ride. The next thing we knew, she had given us a voucher for four new matching shirts of our choice. She also gave us access to unlimited fast passes for the rest of the night at Magic Kingdom, and since we were leaving at noon the next day, she arranged unlimited fast passes at EPCOT, our favorite park, for the next morning. The kindness and above and beyond service that we received on that trip made it extra magical.
To keep costs down, which has enabled us to go back year after year, we often stay at the value resorts. This suits our needs for sleeping and dining accommodations. Bus transportation to the parks runs every fifteen minutes at the value resorts, too, which is always convenient. On a quick trip, such as Halloween, or a long weekend, we sometimes splurged and stayed at a deluxe resort. Being within walking distance to the parks was the big perk for us by staying at the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, or Beach Club. When my husband and I go for long weekends just the two of us, we enjoy staying at Port Orleans, a moderate resort, which has a nice sit-down restaurant and a separate bar with live music. The Port Orleans resorts are also a quick boat ride to Disney Springs for shopping, dining, nightlife, and more.
No matter what the purpose of our trip, we always visit all the parks – some multiple times per trip, but at least once so that we can experience the nightly fireworks shows. When the kids were younger, we spent more time at Magic Kingdom. Now, EPCOT is our go-to. I definitely recommend visiting EPCOT in the fall for the Food and Wine Festival and in the spring for the Flower and Garden Festival.
Our experiences at Walt Disney World are always magical – that’s why we go so often and plan to move to Florida and become cast members in our retirement years! Depending on the purpose of our trip (family vacation, date weekend, Halloween party, Flower and Garden Festival, etc.), each one has been different, but staying on property is one thing that has never changed. Being in the Disney bubble – immersed in Disney culture throughout our entire stay – is a must for us and something we always recommend to our friends and family; it just adds to the magic! -Tammy and Eric Beeks, Parker
History comes alive
For a lover of history one of my favorite trips has to be Harper’s Ferry Historic District in West Virgina. We (wife/daughter) flew to Washington, D.C. and rented a car. Our circle trip included several states.
We visited a friend in Fredericksburg, VA and spent two days there. During that time we ate at Martha Washington’s house, visited Old Salem Church, Fredericksburg National Cemetery and more. We drove on the Skyline Drive in
Shenandoah National Park and we actually walked enough to say, “Hey, we walked on the Appalachian Trail.”
We also took a long northern drive on Blue Ridge parkway to Front Royal, took pictures of the deer at night then stopped at a motel for sleep. The next day we proceeded to Harper’s Ferry. We walked across the path of a railroad bridge and even visited the C&O Canal system and locks which was really interesting. Being a history buff, we visited the National History Park. From there, it was on to Gettysburg, PA to visit the battlefields and more museums.
One suggestion when traveling that direction is to not rush it. – Albert Khanek, Sachse
Non-commercial beach destination
My favorite trip is when we went to Edisto Beach, South Carolina. We have been there twice with our family. The first trip was by car. We drove through the southern states out to Savannah, Georgia and up the coast from there. The second time was by plane.
We went for a week and stayed in a condo, but I would like to go back and stay at the state park. The second time we visited we stopped first in Charlotte and spent a couple of days visiting area sights including Fort Sumter.
I love the fact that they (Edisto Beach) are trying to preserve the beach and not letting it become overly commercialized. It is a great place to take the family or just get a little bit of quiet time and slow down for a week.
There is a state park on the island that has its own beach plus there is a campground. Also in the state park is the Edisto Island Museum that features island and Civil War history. On the island there are hiking trails and marshlands. The beaches are great for beach combing. There is an abundance of sand dollars and seashells, and in May and October you can watch the sea turtles come ashore. -Lajuana Frederick, Nevada