Category Archives: Destination Details

prachuap kirikhan

A Weekend in Prachuap Kirikhan

prachuap kirikhan

This post is about a weekend away in the dreamy seaside town of Prachuap Kirikhan, a few hours south of Bangkok. Tucked away in picturesque Prachuap Bay, the small fishing town of Prachuap Kirikhan is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, with dramatic limestone outcrops framing an expanse of tranquil turquoise waters, punctuated only by colourful fishing boats bobbing on the waves.

Prachuap has yet to develop the dominant tourist industry of neighbouring town Hua Hin, and remains cheaper, more authentic and more true to Thai life. As such, while the town does rely on tourism, it is mainly from neighbouring cities like Bangkok, and it also has a strong local fishing industry which furnishes the many seafood restaurants along the front with fresh seafood.

Prachuap Kirikhan - Fresh fish at the night market

The first stop for many weekend visitors is the bustling night market that stretches along the prom after dark. There is no better way to acquaint yourself with the intimacies of local life than a leisurely stroll through this hive of activity. From puppies to massages, and beachwear to Thai delicacies, you can find a diversity of goods here that makes for an interesting and engaging introduction to the locality. I found it to be far more worthwhile than the much hyped night bazaar of Chiang Mai, which seemed to offer much of the same mass purveyed wares that could be found anywhere. The range of food available here offers a great opportunity to sit on the waterfront and enjoy an evening meal overlooking the waves.

The next morning, we decided to take a trip to the temple that was situated on a large hill overlooking the town. Overrun with macaques, the monkey temple Chong Khra Chok offers a challenging ascent up a monkey-infested hill to appreciate a supposedly magnificent view above the city. Not that I would be appreciating such a vista.

prachuap kirikhan - monkey temple

An early start was necessary to conquer the hill before the heat of the day made the climb intolerable, so we rolled into the carpark opposite at around seven am, past a group of monkeys loitering at the base of the hill awaiting their daily feed.

On parking the scooter, a kind and wizened old thai lady suggested we move it slightly so she might keep a watchful eye over it, gesturing to the gnawed cover of her own scooter as a warning!

After a few words in Thai, she then pressed a slingshot into my hands, miming the motion I would need to scare away any particularly territorial monkeys who might block our way.

So it was, flanked by soi dogs acting as stalwart security guards, and followed by a guide casting hunks of corn to distract and allow passage, we began the journey up to the monkey temple.

The stairs wound up the hill past curved temple roofs and through trees and undergrowth, around which swarmed tribes of macaques, preening, fighting, playing and protecting their young.

prachuap kirikhan - monkey

Our guide informed us that the monkeys were increasingly hungry towards the top, where a single solitary monk lives and feeds them once a day. As such, the monkeys relied on the guides who conveyed visitors up the hill to provide them with food.

Luckily the slingshot proved effective at startling any mischievous monkeys who ventured a little too close for comfort.

That was until we met a suspicious character, who the guide later informed us was a particularly fearless individual!

As we approached the stairs he sat motionless on the stone wall. Cleaning himself, preening, but watching our approach with eyes wide open.

A moment later we were too close, and suddenly he was prancing and snarling on the bannister, hissing and showing his teeth.  His body coiled like a spring, ready to hurl himself onto my shoulder and sink his teeth into my neck!

Confronted with this I backed away slowly until out of jumping range! And then retreated back to the guide who was feeding monkeys just down the stairway, crying ‘ban ban’ come come eat monkeys!

At this point the slingshot went firmly in the pocket.  Having witnessed a peaceful man walk past with only his sun umbrella for protection, I saw that walking peacefully was the way to go. An obvious lesson for most perhaps, but fear begets fear, and peaceful coexistence was my goal.

With this in mind I decided to have a go feeding the monkeys. The guide offered me a bag of pellets which I initially scattered on the floor, and then placed a few into my open hand for the curious monkeys to scoop out into their mouth. The monkeys swarmed around hungrily eating up the pellets.

prachuap kirikhan - monkeys

I could see the timidity in their eyes, the babyish, almost human concern. I was overwhelmed with a strong sense of kinship. I could feel the hunger in their eyes.

Suddenly, feeling a movement behind me, I became aware that the bag of food pellets i had clutched to my side was gone. A swooping monkey had taken the opportunity to relieve me of it.

Looking up, I noticed on my hand a small scratch was drawing blood, and I began to feel a little faint. Blood was rushing to my head, and I suddenly I needed desperately to sit down. At once the concern of being surrounded by strange mammals was replaced by a sense of utter loss of control. Dizzy and dry-mouthed, my head was swimming.

Sitting on the steps, I took a few moments to rest and gather my thoughts. A few deep breaths later, and after some reassurance by our guide in soft Thai tones, I felt ready to continue, but decided to retreat down the steps, leaving the temple for another day.

The monkey in question was blind in one eye. He had not intended to scratch me. He was hungry, unable to hunt effectively because of his disability, and his poorly aimed swipe was the result of desperation.

At the base of the hill vendors cleaned the small wound with alcohol and offered reassurance. ‘mai pen rai’ no worries! However, being a concerned, hypochondriac westerner, I wanted professional confirmation, and a hospital visit later that day subscribed me to a course of rabies vaccinations and an insight into the efficient medical facilities of Thailand.

Later that morning we visited Wat Aao Noi, a hillside cave overlooking a fishing cove, containing a huge statue of a reclining Buddha. At the foot of the hill stood a magnificent teak temple, aside a lake bristling with carp and catfish.

We ascended up a broken stairway to a mysterious cave. A hole in the hill occupied only by stray dogs and buddha statues.the silence was an extraordinary contrast to the forest humming with life outside.

After a tiring morning of exploration, it was necessary to recuperate, and a taste of familiar western food. Sitting on the seafront metres from the shore, Pizza Khiri Khan is a small pizza restaurant running out the bottom of the owners home, a charming and helpful proprietor.

prachuap pizza

We had visited the restaurant the evening before at closing time, and on seeing the disappointment in our faces when we realised food was no longer being served, agreed to open up early for an exclusive meal the following lunchtime.

This was a great opportunity to enjoy homemade pizza. And sitting on the verandah amongst the palms watching the waves, the setting was unbeatable.


Any visit to Prachuap is incomplete without a refreshing dip in the bay. Ao Manao is a sheltered beach set within an air force base to the south of the town.  Although signing in to a military checkpoint in flipflops and beachwear is quite novel and a little disconcerting, it means that the manicured grounds provide a majestic parkland setting to the white sands of the beach itself, which is fringed with fragrant pine trees providing shade.

The shallow waters of the bay stretch out into the distance providing a basin of water that is so warm to the touch on entering it feels like bathwater, gradually cooling as you tread further into the bay.

Infact they were so inviting I decided to paddle out into the centre of the bay, and was swimming away feeling blissfully free when I noticed my baggy swimming shorts had come loose, and before I knew it were adrift, rapidly sinking from sight into the increasingly murky waters.

prachuap kirikhan bay beach

A moments freedom, as warm and inviting as a baby in the womb, and then panic! My black shorts had sank out of sight, and no amount of scouring the sandy bottom with my feet was finding them.

An embarrassing predicament. I began to ponder the options in my mind. Cast away my dignity and crawl up the beach shielding my dignity with my hands, casing controversy on this sweetly serene beach!

Surely not. I would have to find a remote cove and crawl out, but what then without shorts! In an airbase! As my predicament became increasingly real a panic rose in my belly. As naked as a baby in the womb, i would soon have to crawl out, visible to the world in all my glory!

In my confusion I called out to my companion, who was swimming over on the other side of the bay. Refusing to believe me, she swam over, and by the grace of god happened to catch my drifting shorts in her doggy paddle!

After plenty enough excitement for one day, it was time to board the minivan back to Bangkok.

Kieran Smith

Landscape architect, and writer at SIM Tourist. Kieran hails from the English Midlands and specialises in travel and environmental issues.

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Bangkok City Tour: An Ultimate Guide

Bangkok is one of the busiest metropolitan cities in Asia. The high-rise buildings and magnificent temples create a perfect balance for the city landscape.

Your travels in Thailand won’t be completed without a Bangkok city tour. There are many stunning places where you can stroll around and explore the beauty of the Eastern City of Angels. Take some time for a sightseeing trip in Bangkok and discover the true Thai culture in every possible way.

Admire the spectacular temples

Thailand is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples known as Wat in Thai. There are more than 400 Wat’s spread throughout the city. Some of them are located in small alleys; others spotted right in between  Bangkok modern buildings.

When you enter the temple area, remember to dress according to the Buddhist tradition. For both women and men, the basic rule is to cover your shoulders and knees.

Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of Emerald Buddha is the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha is a statue of meditating Buddha in the style of Lanna school of the North, which was built in the 15th century. The temple is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace.

temple of emerald buddha

There is a robe that covers The Emerald Buddha. Every season, His Majesty The King changes the wrapper in an important ritual. The changing robe ceremony is held three times a year, which are in summer, winter and rainy season.

The temple of Emerald Buddha is located on a high platform, surrounded by holy buildings, statues and pagodas. His Majesty the King is the only person who is allowed to go near the Emerald Buddha.

Besides the temple itself, you can enjoy a mini model of Angkor Wat. When Cambodia was under Siamese control, this mini model represented the country’s victory.  Today, the model accounts for a history and celebration of the first centenary of the Royal city.

Wat Pho

Ever heard about the biggest reclining Buddha statue? Wat Pho is where the image lies. Wat Pho is located in only five mins walking distance from Grand Palace. Inside the temple, there is a Buddha statue that is 46 metres long! You might even find it difficult to take a picture of the whole statue with your phone.

wat pho


Besides the massive Buddha statue, Wat Pho is famous for its highly respected massage school. Professional Thai masseurs have been training here since 1955. If you are interested, make sure you add a short course in your Bangkok city tour itinerary.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun is one of the images on Thai currency, you can find it on the 10 Baht coin. Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn is located on the West side of the Chao Phraya River. The name is inspired by its beauty when you see the temple from across the river at sunset time.

wat arun

If you are coming from the Grand Palace or Wat Pho, you will need to cross the river to get here. The temple complex consists of white buildings, shrines and small temples.

Wat Arun central prang is the main attraction of the whole complex. It has a magnificent spire over 70 metres high, decorated with coloured glass and Chinese porcelain.

Wat Saket

Enjoy the incredible 360-degree view of Bangkok from one of the highest spots  in the city. Wat Saket or Golden Mount is a human-made hill crowned with a gold chedi. The chedi is 58 metres high. It takes about 300 steps to reach the top.

At the base of the temple, there is an unusual cemetery covered in vines and overgrown trees, which is a dumping ground for 60,000 plague victims. Approaching the top of the temple, a wall of bells and a panoramic Bangkok view welcome you.

All year round, the temple welcomes worshippers and hosts an annual temple fair during Loy Krathong every November. During this festival, there is a large bright-red cloth covering the golden chedi. A candlelit procession up to the top marks the opening of the one-week long temple fair. During this week, the temple is super crowded with hundred of worshippers and tourists.

Bangkok city tour via Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River adds a beauty charm to the city. It is a perfect place to escape from the traffic-clogged streets and bustling city vibes. The river offers a fresh perspective of Bangkok city and a great mixture of skyscrapers, temples and modern buildings.

bangkok river tour

Chao Phraya River is one of the transportation choices to get around. For tourists, it is a great option to commute because it offers lower costs than taxis and great views throughout the journey.

You can also enjoy a nice dinner on a cruise on Chao Phraya River. With a great view of Wat Arun in the background, lively entertainment and amazing Thai dishes, you’ll enjoy the most romantic moment in Bangkok.

Take a cooking course

Thai food has made a remarkable appearance around the world. It is made of  exotic ingredients that are mostly found in Southeast Asia. Some dishes even take hours to make!

There are hundreds of cooking courses around the city. You will learn how to pick the best ingredients, understand the appropriate cooking techniques and get to know how to cook it right.

Many places offer a one-day course, specifically designed for tourists who want to know the basic cooking skills. You will be able to show off your new skills to friends and family back home!

The top cooking schools in Bangkok are Chef Leez Thai Cooking Class, Sompong Thai Cooking Class and Cooking with Poo. All of these schools start their courses with a trip to a traditional market where you’ll learn to pick the best and freshest ingredients. Then you’ll have a cooking session guided  by a professional chef and tasting time!

The prices range from 1,000 to 2,500 Baht ($29 – $71) depending on the length and level of the courses.

Shop at the Weekend Market

Thailand is one of the best shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. Bangkok offers a wide selection of shopping spots from high-end streets, one-stop shopping malls to traditional and super cheap shopping markets.

If you are a first-timer in Bangkok, Chatuchak market is a great place to start. It is the biggest weekend market in Bangkok. Many locals and tourists come here to shop and eat.

Chatuchak market is massive. You can get lost here so make sure you take a map at the entrance.

people shopping at chatuchak market

Photo Courtesy: flickr

You can find anything here, from vintage and retro collections, Thai merchandises, handicrafts, clothes, sunglasses, accessories to secondhand books! There are street food vendors on every corner.

Why My Favourite Way to See Europe is Cruising

When it comes to traveling Europe, it’s safe to say I’ve done it all. I’ve visited Europe with a large tour group and explored Italy on my own backpacking tour when I was 20. So when my parents suggested getting the family together on a river cruise through Europe I agreed without hesitation. Was I worried I was going to be the only person under 35 on this cruise? Yes, but there was no way I was going to pass up another opportunity to visit Europe.

Before the trip, my family wasn’t sure which cruise company to go with. We had a lot of options and it was overwhelming to decide! There are many different cruise companies that operate in Europe. My dad ended up making the final decision with his eyes closed. He chose a river cruise called Scenic Cruises. I’ve never heard of this cruise line before this trip so I was excited for the new experience.

Traveling across Europe on a river cruise was different in many ways. Everything from the pace of the trip to the people you traveled with varied from my past travel experiences. The luxury river cruise my family chose to go on was everything you’d expect it to be when you first hear the words “luxury river cruise”: lavish suites, five-star guest experience and elegant, world-class excursions. My last Euro trip consisted of cheap eats and a constant go-go-go vibe; this river cruise couldn’t have been more opposite.

The first thing I noticed when I boarded the ship was the size: this was no 1000 plus guests ocean cruiser. With only 85 suites and a maximum head count of 169 guests, the ship I traveled on was designed with comfort and luxury in mind. It was an all-inclusive travel experience which meant I not only had free reign of the mini bar in my cabin but  my own personal butler (you have to see it to believe it). 

As a (relatively) young woman who’s had to make her own bed since the age of 10, I was thrilled to discover that for one glorious week, I wouldn’t have to worry about fluffing my pillows or finding spare change for laundry. On top of having your own butler, the cruise line offered nightly turndown service, complimentary laundry concierge as well as 24 hour room service. There were numerous restaurants available for dining as well as unlimited access to a gym, wellness centre, pool, panoramic lounge and sun deck (which lead me to put my guard down for one afternoon and go easy on the sunscreen- big mistake. Huge).

Obviously, I was over the moon with these discoveries; as seasoned cruisers, even my hard-to-please parents were impressed by the attention-to-detail. With a 1:3 crew to guest ratio, however, I shouldn’t have expected anything less than first class.

Perhaps the biggest difference I noticed between traveling on your own and via boat cruise is the touring schedule. With a river cruise, your travel itinerary is already organized and laid out for you. The daily routine in place aboard a cruise is that the boat will move at night and dock by breakfast. The daily land excursions alternate between half and full day and allow for little independent sightseeing, which I guess is the point for the majority of travelers aboard the cruise.

There is little time to go off on your own since the ship has a set schedule to dock and depart every night. Knowing what I do now, I can say it’s smart to do your research before choosing a cruise line.

Each cruise line will vary in style, itinerary and destination. The river cruise I experienced had every day of the trip organized and planned for guests- while I’ll admit it took a huge weight off my shoulders in terms of pre-cruise organization, the pre-arranged schedule did limit my ability to explore a city independently without another 15 people tagging along.

The land excursions, I have to say, are in a league of their own. Curated by the cruise line’s very own “journey designers,” I saw a part of Europe I couldn’t have possibly experienced backpacking on my own. While the attractions were similar, it was the extra attention-to-detail that made me become fully immersed in the country’s culture.

As an example, on day four of my cruise, I got to taste my way around a local market in Vienna, Austria but with an added twist- a local private chef was there to accompany fellow guests and teach us about the delicacies known to the region (there is a half finished note on my Iphone dating back to this excursion that reads, “How to make Bratwurst from scratch”). One of the highlights of my cruise though took place In Freudenberg, Germany. I had the most amazing day celebrating Oktoberfest with guests and locals alike-there was food, there was dancing and yup, there was a staggering amount of beer (beer everywhere!).

Celebrating a classic Bavarian tradition with a crowd that traveled from all over the world to experience it firsthand took a seemingly simple excursion to the next level. While we all took part in the excursion for different reasons- I came for the beer, my parents came for the bratwurst and Andrew from Australia simply wanted to get acquainted with his German roots- we all left with the same awesome memory.

After 15 days floating down the Rhine and Danube rivers, I have to say there’s something to putting your feet up and shelling out some extra cash (okay, a lot of cash) for someone else to do the hard work of planning a trip for you. That was my favourite part of taking the scenic route; if you ask my parents, they’ll reference “wine night” in Budapest, Hungary.

I personally think traveling around on a cruise is one of the best ways to go on a multi-country trip. Why? It’s easy, it’s relaxing and they make it oh-so-convenient. I will say that it’s not for everyone: if you’re an independent traveler or a club-goer, a luxury river cruise won’t give you what you’re looking for.

At 33, I was easily one of the youngest people aboard the ship; however, I wouldn’t write off a river cruise for that reason alone. I found the crowd to be interesting, educated and well traveled. Many were entrepreneurs with their own successful businesses (which would explain how they could afford the price tag). Again, this too, will vary from cruise to cruise.

In light of my early travel hesitations, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the river cruise. I am so grateful! I met some amazing people and I got to experience Budapest to Amsterdam all in one shot (thanks mom and dad!)

Lauren Martineau

Professional freelance blogger & writer, storyteller & adventuress. When Lauren's not typing 80 wpm, she's travelling and staying fit.

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6 Ways To Enjoy Your Time In Geneva

The second largest city in Switzerland, Geneva is a cosmopolitan center as at home with its deep dedication to the arts as it is with its focus on cutting edge science. A city with ancient Roman origins, Geneva fully embraces its modernity, offering visitors a refreshing range of sights to see and experiences to enjoy.

Wander Through Geneva’s Old Town

With cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, interesting boutiques and little museums, the Old Town is the bustling heart of the city and the perfect introduction to Geneva. The Cathédrale St-Pierre is the main architectural attraction, a medieval conglomeration of styles that features an impressive neoclassical front entrance. Visitors can tour the inside for free and enjoy the ornately painted ceilings and elaborately carved wood organ while listening for its nine bells to sound each quarter hour.

Go Straight to the Top

Stunning at night and even more spectacular during the day, the Salève cable car gives visitors a jaw-dropping, expansive view of the city, Mont Blanc, and Lake Geneva. The sparkling lights of Geneva are an enthralling sight at night; during the day, the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc in the distance are an iconic sight. The staging area for the cable car is also perfect for picnics and hiking, where visitors can enjoy the stunning view from the hilltops.


Celebrate the Arts and Sciences

There’s no shortage of museums in Geneva. The excellent Museum of Natural History maintains exhibits on dinosaurs, mammals, insects, birds and other creatures both local to Switzerland and the wider world. Art aficionados will enjoy perusing collections at the Museum of Art and History, highlighting collections from ancient Egypt to the modern era. For those who love physics, a visit to CERN, the world’s largest machine dedicated to colliding subatomic particles at high speeds, is in order. Visitors can enjoy exhibits dedicated to educating the public and can even attend a tour with prior notice.

Live Like a Local

If you’re lucky enough to visit Geneva during one of its famous events, you can mingle with the crowd and take in the whole spectacle. Three days in June are dedicated to the Fête de la Musique music festival, where there’s no genre too obscure to be found playing somewhere in the city. Over 40 stages feature live performances, and there’s also an endless array of stalls selling local delicacies. In August, the Fete de Geneve celebrates the city with fireworks shows and cultural exhibitions. In between festivals, head to one of the city’s green spaces on a weekend, like Parc de la Grange with its views over Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau fountain, to appreciate the beauty the way the Swiss do.

Be Sure to Sample the Local Cuisine

Switzerland is known for its delicious fondue, and there’s no shortage of places in Geneva where visitors can try authentic favorite dishes. The Paquis district is a great area to find little eateries dedicated to traditional Swiss cuisine. As a testament to French gastronomic influence in the region, you can also find little creperies selling both sweet and savory crepes. Just south of the Old Town area, Plaine de Plainpalais is a vibrant spot for nightlife, with many bars where you can try Swiss wines and beers.

Take Something Home With You

Chocolate, wine, watches and knives are all traditional Swiss souvenirs and things Switzerland is famous for. But much of the shopping in Geneva is dedicated to the fun and funky as well. The Rue du Marché district has a good range of shops selling all kinds of things, from electronics to toys and everything in between. Another fun area to window shop is Rue du Rhône for upscale items. Shops for signature Swiss chocolates are scattered all around the city, and in a pinch, some quality chocolates can also be found in the local supermarkets.

In the end, no matter what you choose to do with your time in Geneva, I am sure you will enjoy it. It’s a gem you just have to see while in Switzerland!

Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. He is currently living as an expat in Switzerland and you can find him blogging about his experiences at Expert World Travel.

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An Insider’s Guide to Southfield, MI

Next time you fly into Detroit, head over to Southfield to see everything the city has to offer. From golf courses to art galleries, there’s plenty to stay entertained all weekend. Just don’t let anyone else in on the secret so you’ll have the town to yourself.

golf course

Image via Flickr by Vignesh Anath

Beech Woods Golf Course

If you’re looking to improve your golf game, Beech Woods Golf Course is the place to go. There’s even a heated driving range to practice your swing before you get on the course. The pro shop will help with any equipment you may need, as well as club repairs.

Park West Gallery

Take a stroll through Park West Gallery to enjoy some of the finest art around. Local art is often displayed to show the beauty of Southfield through the artists’ eyes.  The artists themselves often make surprise appearances so you can compliment them on their art or ask what their inspiration was. Workshops are also held throughout the year to learn about the techniques the artists use in their work.

Beech Woods Recreation Center

If you have children who need to let some energy out, or you just need to release some energy, head to the Beech Woods Recreation Center. This gymnasium is over 17,000 square feet and includes three basketball courts, four volleyball courts, and a full health and fitness center. Classes such as karate, gymnastics, aerobics, and yoga are also held so there’s an activity for everyone.

Joseph Bourgon from Sommers Schwartz, P.C. is a local who loves exploring his city. He states:

“Some of my favorite things to do in Southfield include going to Star Theatres, seeing a Picasso at the Park West Gallery, and enjoying the city’s 30-plus miles of public trails. When I feel like relaxing I’m always sure to visit Burgh Historic Park, and when I’m looking for some exercise the Beech Woods Recreation Center is always a good choice. If I’m willing to spend 20 minutes in the car I’ll catch a Tiger’s game!”

Star Theatres Southfield

Sometimes there’s nothing better than catching a flick on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  That’s where the Star Theatres comes in with a variety of movies and low ticket prices. Grab your large bag of buttery popcorn and a Coke, and enjoy the show.

Carpenters Lake Nature Preserve

Head out to Carpenters Lake Nature Preserve to become one with nature when the city gets to be too much.  In the summer, the lake is full of fishermen trying their luck at catching sunfish, bass, and minnows among others. There’s plenty of trails to walk around to get in your exercise as well.


Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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4 Can’t-Miss Autumn Adventures in Spokane

Spokane, Washington is absolutely stunning in the fall.  

Though I’m a Seattleite now, the “Lilac City” will always be a second home for me, after living there for several years.  I loved being so close to nature, feeling the stark seasonal changes, and seeing new restaurants and shops open up as downtown grew. 

Every year when the days begin to shorten, I always get a bit nostalgic about my time there.   The heat loses its bite and the city is transformed into a canvas of bright colors as the trees prepare to drop their leaves.  For those of us not lucky enough to live there, it’s a beautiful place for a peaceful weekend away.

Here are some of my favorite autumn adventures to enjoy in Spokane.


Pavillion By Night by Matt Reinbold is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Marvel over the Victorian houses and bright colors of Browne’s Addition

If you’re visiting Spokane for a short trip, you’ll probably be staying in one of the downtown hotels.  Once you’ve dropped off your bags, a good place to stretch your legs is by walking to Browne’s Addition, which is widely known as one of the best neighborhoods in Spokane, and is just west of downtown.  Spend an hour or an afternoon strolling through its quiet streets, enjoying the stately homes and marveling at the bright colors of the trees lining the roads.  The sugar maples, which blaze in bright reds and oranges throughout the fall, are particularly vibrant.


EJ Roberts Mansion by Tracy Hunter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you have extra time, stop by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture on 1st avenue (which is having a Halloween party this year!), or lengthen your walk by heading north, crossing the Spokane River on a footbridge.  From there, head East on the Centennial Trial to loop through Riverfront Park, where you’ll see more dazzling colors, before heading back to downtown Spokane.

Go apple picking at Green Bluff

A fantastic way to spend one of Spokane’s brisk, sunny autumn days is a visit to the orchards.  Greenbluff excursions are a strong tradition in Spokane, and it was always the day trip I looked forward to the most in the fall.  After your morning coffee, pile into the car with friends and family to make the short drive out of town to the north.  After about 30 minutes you’ll find yourself on a plateau, surrounded by a collection of orchards and farms.  Reserve an afternoon to stroll through the trees, filling a bucket with crisp, bright apples.  There’s a reason Washington is famous for this fruit! In fact, more than 100 million boxes of apples (at 40 pounds each) are produced in the state each year. 


Apples by Shinya Suzuki is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Several Green Bluff orchards also have small presses where you can make a jug of sweet apple cider.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that! Just make sure to enjoy it over the next day or two, since there are no preservatives.  One way to use up that cider is to  try your hand at making a fancy fall cocktail

Taste seasonal beer from award-winning breweries

Though apples are Washington State’s most famous crop, did you know the Evergreen State also dominates the hop industry, producing around 70% of all hops grown in North America?


Beer Sampler by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Though cities like Seattle and Denver are well-known as craft beer havens, Spokane has been quietly been producing award-winning breweries.   There are plenty of good breweries around town, but No-Li Brewhouse on the river in the Logan Neighborhood, and Steam Plant Brewing downtown are great places to start. This time of year is particularly special, because “fresh hop” beers are in season, which is a must-try if you’ve never tasted them before.  

If beer’s not your thing, taste a “farm to table” craft liquor from DryFly Distilling or take a distilling class at Tinbender Craft Distillery

Take a scenic drive to Schweitzer and Lake Pend Orielle

When you think of the Rocky Mountains, what do you imagine?  It’s likely you thought of the wilds of Colorado, or perhaps Wyoming or Montana.  You might be surprised at how close Spokane is to the northern Rockies, which spill over into the narrow neck of neighboring Idaho.  Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a favorite skiing destination in the winter, but it’s also a gorgeous place to visit in the fall, and only about a 2-hour scenic drive.


Lake Pend Orielle at Sunset by Bjorn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Pack a picnic and make a detour to Farragut State Park, where you can explore Lake Pend Orielle or go on a hike.  Or, stop for lunch and window shopping in the quaint town of Sandpoint, located at the north end of the lake.  Shortly after leaving Sandpoint, you’ll begin the zig-zagging journey up the mountain, feeling the temperature cool as you climb.  When you reach the resort, stunning views of the mountain range reward you.  For adventurers who’d like an even better view, grab a chairlift ticket to the top of the mountain, where 360-degree views will take your breath away.  

Martha Burwell

Hola, Bonjour, Sabaidee! Having traveled the world, Martha Burwell is a writer and consultant based in Seattle who loves sharing stories about places she’s been. But her heart will always be in the Pacific Northwest, where she explores the nearby mountains on foot, by mountain bike, and by snowboard. Martha regularly writes for, and also consults on gender equity via and blogs about intersectional gender equity at

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An Insider’s Guide to Los Angeles, CA – Part 2

There’s so much to do in the city of Los Angeles that it deserves a second guide. Skip the crowds and check out these lesser known destinations next time you’re in town!

Los Angeles

Image via Pixabay

Go Wine Tasting

Not just a surfer’s town anymore, Malibu is also the place to go to visit the vineyards. Head into the hills to taste local wine and listen to live music on the weekends. Bring your own food for the ultimate spot for a picnic on a sunny day.

Explore a Space Shuttle

The California Science Center holds Endeavor, a real-life space shuttle. Walk around the massive shuttle in awe as you examine the outside of it. No visitors are allowed inside, but there’s plenty of exhibits to show you what life is like onboard. At least you can pretend you’re up in space.

Make a Visit to the Getty

This free museum highlights the best of European and American art, and has some impressive architect. Exhibits are constantly changing, so you’ll see something new each time you visit. The outdoors are stunning as well – you can walk through the beautiful gardens and end up with a panoramic view of Los Angeles.

Employment Attorney Mamta Ahluwalia of HKM loves coming here, stating:

“The Getty is one of my favorite places in L.A. I love how majestic it looks and how it watches over a twinkling and chaotic Los Angeles in all its smog and glory. It’s a great place for a warm summer evening if you want to peruse art, walk or lounge in the gardens, and get away from the city without leaving it.”

Camp Under the Stars

Sometimes you just need a break from the city and to get away from it all. Head to the Angeles National Forest for over 600,000 acres of forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. Pitch a tent for a weekend and enjoy hiking and relaxing while watching the stars. You’ll feel much more refreshed come Monday morning.

Visit an Orange Grove

Oranges groves used to be everywhere you looked in Los Angeles, but that’s no longer the case due to the recent development. Luckily, they’re still thriving in a few places. Head to the San Fernando Valley to see the real life orange groves and even pick a few at California State University.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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An Insider’s Guide to Bensenville, IL

The Illinois city of Bensenville is in a great location – far enough away from the city of Chicago to not be bothered, but close enough for a quick drive over to Lake Michigan. Check out a cheap movie at a small theater, or get active by testing out your ice skating skills. Either way, you’ll find plenty to do in Bensenville!


Image via Pixabay

Catch a Flick
The Bensenville Theater is a great place to see some of the latest movies when you need to be inside. It’s nice and cozy, with only two screens, and located right next to an ice cream shop. The theater is popular due to its old school prices – only $5 for adults even at night.

Visit the Planetarium
Space lovers will enjoy a visit to the Adler Planetarium.  With a focus on astronomy and astrophysics, you’ll want to dedicate at least half a day to visiting the building. There’s three theaters to watch various movies related to space movies, view antique scientific equipment, and check out extensive space exhibits. You’ll feel like you’re in another world after you leave the planetarium.

Swim in Lake Michigan
The lake is the place to be in the summer. Beat the heat and jump in the water to cool off. You can rent a jet ski or boat to take out for the day and explore more of the lake.

Dan Kaiser from Kaiser Law loves Bensenville in the summer, stating:

“As far as things to do goes, nothing beats a summertime visit to the Lake Michigan waterfront. Whether its bike ride from Belmont Harbor to the Planetarium, a Castaway’s lunch at North Ave. Beach or just dipping your toes before a Cubs game the lakefront is a simple, beautiful escape from big city stresses.”

Go Ice Skating
The Edge Ice Arena is the perfect place to go to year round. Whether it’s too hot or too cold outside, the temperature’s always the same on the ice to skate around. Those who want to improve their form can sign up for lessons on top of just attending the public skating.

Head to the Golf Course
To practice your swing, make your way to the White Pines Golf Club. This full-service golf club has two 18-hole courses to play on, and a bar and grill to talk about your game over lunch with your buddies. It’s even available to rent out for special occasions if you really want to impress your clients.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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An Insider’s Guide to Walla Walla, WA

Walla Walla has it all, from  wine to shopping to outdoor activities. The weather’s dry year round, so take advantage and head outdoors to practice your golf game or ride your bike around the area. When you’re done with that, visit one of the dozens of wineries to taste local wine.


Image via Pixabay

Check Out the Arts

Walk along the historic downtown area to see public art all throughout it. You can even download the Art Walla Public Art Walking Tour from the town’s main website to have a self-guided tour explaining what each piece of art is that you’re walking by. When you’re done, pop in one of the restaurants for lunch and a glass of wine.

Go Shopping

The downtown area has not only restaurants and wine tasting shops, but plenty of shopping to do. Many boutique shops line the streets including clothing, jewelry, and handmade craft shops. The area has a very laid-back feel, so take your time and get to know the local vendors who run the shops.

Bike Around the Valley

Walla Walla is rated as one of the top road cycling destinations in the nation. Beginners will love leisurely going through the paved trails and flat roads through the farmlands and enjoying the sights. More experienced bikers can head to the mountains to tackle the twists and turns of the steep, ascending hills.

Monte Willis of law firm Willis & Toews, PLLC loves taking his bike out in the area, stating:

“Bicycling is my favorite thing to do in Walla Walla.  Not only does Walla Walla have the Mill Creek Trail for riders of all levels and a network of mountain biking trails surrounding Bennington Lake, but it also provides access by miles of county maintained roads with relatively low traffic.  If you want an interval workout, ride north toward Waitsburg, Dayton or Prescott where you will ride through undulating wheat fields with views of the Blue Mountains.  Ride south toward Milton Freewater, Oregon over flatter terrain through wheat fields, vineyards and orchards; often with the wind at your back on the return trip.”

Go Wine Tasting
Probably the most well known activity to do in Walla Walla is go wine tasting. There’s so many places to go that it’s easiest to join one of the dozen different tour companies that offer to take you out for the day. You won’t have to worry about driving, and they’ll take you to some of the top wineries to talk to the owners and taste local wine.

Practice Your Swing
Located in southeastern Washington, the weather is usually dry and warm, making it a great place to play golf year round. Some of the state’s best golf courses are here, making it a truly special experience. There’s courses for beginners as well as the future Tiger Woods.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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An Insider’s Guide to Naperville, IL

Rated one of the most beautiful towns in the Midwest, there’s plenty to do in Naperville. Located southwest of Chicago, it’s loaded with outdoor activities such as swimming in the public pool to walking along the Riverwalk. History buffs will love exploring the city’s early settlement by seeing restored buildings in a town from the 19th century.


Image via Flickr

Learn History at Naper Settlement

History lovers will enjoy the 12 acre outdoor village that’s been converted into a village. Actors will join you in full costume to pretend you’re back in the 19th century. Be sure to listen to the stories they tell throughout the day to explain how settlers’ every day life was. You’ll even get the chance to see dozens of restored historic buildings from when the town was first settled.

Swim at Centennial Beach

This fenced four acres holds an outdoor pool open to the public which is popular during the warmer months. Parts of it are shallow enough for children to wade in, while the other end goes out to 15 feet deep for more advanced swimmers to practice their skills. If you’re not much of a swimmer, you can rent a paddleboard board  to still be out on the water.

Walk Along the Riverwalk

The top rated attraction in Naperville is walking along the DuPage River. A focal point of the community, it’s won national awards for being one of the most beautiful spots in the Midwest. Located downtown, there’s plenty of shopping to do in the area after your walk. Once you’ve worked up an appetite from shopping, you can hit one of the many restaurants in the area.

Local Mark Mathys loves to visit this area, stating:

“The Naperville Riverwalk is great for a picturesque stroll along the DuPage River. Brick walk-ways, covered bridges and fountains line the half mile that is along the downtown area. After you take in all that nature has to offer, you can shop at great boutique businesses or name brand stores. To top it all off, you can choose to eat at one of a dozen great restaurants or simply grab some ice-cream while you watch the ducks paddle by. One of the highlights of Naperville at any time of the year.”

See a Concert

The Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center boasts world-class acoustics in its stadium that sits over 600 people. The building is 13,000 square feet and meant to give the listener an intimate feel. All genres of music can be found playing here throughout the year.

Climb a Tower

The Millennium Carillon in Moser Tower is 16 stories high and has a 72 bell musical instrument. It’s one of only a few Grand Carillons around, and its 72 bells go up six full octaves. For a great view of the city, climb the steps to reach the top and see the skyline of Chicago on a sunny day.


Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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