It is hard for me to believe that 2017 is over. I feel like I just welcomed in the year and now its officially 2018! One thing that made the year go by so fast for me was rarely being home. When not doing a wedding, I enjoyed many wonderful wanderings. I got to experience some great adventures last year; some not far from my hometown. Here is my list of my top 10 places I visited or wandering moments from 2017.
10. Mifflinburg Christkindl Market
Starting off my list is a place close to home. If you are ever looking for a nice fun day activity to do around the holidays, I recommend heading down east of Sate College to the towns of Mifflinburg and Lewisburg. Both towns have that quaint, small town, movie feels to them; with lots of options for shopping, dining, and hiking. One particular highlight takes place in Mifflinburg every December, the Christkindl Market. Inspired by the Christmas markets in Germany, this is more than just an outdoor craft show. Grab some mulled wine and sip as you explore little sheds converted to various trade and craft people’s beautiful work. Stop by the live nativity, catch a choir concert, or stop by the stage for a magic show. Not to mention the abundance of delicious food options. If your looking for some Christmas magic, this is one festivity not to miss.
One of the vendors had this charming display of Santa Clauses.
9. Mini Golf, Myrtle Beach, SC
I love going to a beach. I love being near the water and all the activities a beach-side vacation town has to offer. One of my favorite beach time activities is mini golf. Luckily this summer we went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which is the Miniature Golf Capital of the World. One can’t go more than a couple of blocks without coming across a course. I got to try a few while in town for the week. None were bad but there were two that stood out. First is the Captain Hook’s mini golf. This is actually two courses, both with a fun Peter Pan theme. As you golf through the course you are greeted by characters from the story, as well as hearing passages from the book.
My second favorite is in North Myrtle Beach and is called Hawaiian Rumble. Modeled after one of my places on earth, Hawaii; it is the location where the Masters of Mini Golf is held every year. The place is complete with a volcano and each course has a sign with a Hawaiian word. For example, did you know Moana means ocean? Makes sense now why Disney chose that name for their movie.
A picture of the Hawaiian Rumble Golf Course.
8. Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, SC
I inherited from my mother a love of old houses with character; especially the southern plantation style homes. This particular house always caught my eye for two reasons. One is the home is featured in a television mini-series I loved growing up; The North and The South. It was also featured in a favorite movie, The Notebook. The other is the famous Avenue of the Oaks. This long dirty lane of old trees is iconic and also seen in The Notebook as well as Gone With the Wind.
Even though it may have been Hollywood that drove me here, the history of the house would have lured me in. The house is charming and the gardens pleasant; but the area I recommend spending most of your time is the slave quarters. Each of the homes in slavers row was set up with information about what life was like for the slaves, with personal accounts.
Above is a picture I took of the home with a couple of the famous trees in the foreground. For a stunning picture do a Google Search.
7. Seneca Lake Wine Tour, New York
One of my longer vacations this year was a week in the Finger Lake regions of New York. A quaint house my in-laws rented right on Seneca Lake, was a perfect spot to relax and do nothing for seven days. One thing we did do though, and I thoroughly enjoyed, was sampling some of the various wines the region has to offer. We rented a van one of the days to drive us around to the wineries of our choosing. You can read more of my favorite wineries on the blog post here.
Photo above courtesy of Pixabay.
6. Walking Among Dinosaurs, New York City
I have been to the Big Apple roughly six times in my life. A shame considering how wonderful a city this is for being so close to home. In fall of 2017 my husband and I visited again and I wanted to take in some culture. From my various trips, I had never once taken the time to visit any of the cities wonderful museums. I rectified that on this trip by visiting a few and one of them was the American Museum of Natural History. An expansive place filled with wonderful gems to explore, but the floor and exhibits I loved the most was the dinosaurs. Staring at these bones and fossils that are millions of years old made me feel like a young child again; in awe and wonder if the possibilities of life.
5. Downtown San Antonio, Texas
I visited the great state of Texas for my brother's wedding in November, and stayed at a hotel on downtown San Antonio. It was hard to pick just one attraction as a highlight, as the various locations combined together to create one memorable trip. Explore the historic Alamo, where you can learn more history of the area than just the infamous battle. Get a different perspective on the city from below as you stroll along the famous River Walk. Find some unique souvenirs to take home at the Historic Market Square. If your more into modern and hip neighborhood visit the Pearl District (be sure to stop by Bakery Lorraine for a macaroon). If you are looking for a day to get out into nature, stop by the Japanese Tea Gardens.
Photo of the Riverwalk from Pixabay.
4. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City Back to my NYC museum tour; this one may not be as world famous as some of the others in town, but is a must see (especially if you are a book lover). The building began as the private library for Piermont Morgan where he collected manuscripts, early printed books, and various other works of art. After his death his son, J.P. Morgan, turned the facility into a place for the public to visit. When I first walked in; the lobby was big, open, and felt very modern. I expected something grand and historical feeling. As I walked closer to the original structure, I got more of what I anticipated seeing. A historical building from a man who liked to showcase his wealth. Morgan's study was intimate, lavishly decorated, with deep tones in the fabrics and furniture. It screamed with all senses rich, powerful, and manly. The rotunda that is just outside the actual library has tall vaulted ceilings and sculptures. I felt as if I had stepped into some grand European church. The real showstopper is the library itself and I dare one not to gasp as you step inside this room for the first time. Three levels of wood carved bookcases, filled with literature, in every direction of the room. Ornate Tiffany styled windows allowed in some light. The ceilings are painted images that reminded of some of the grand castles I have only seen in the United Kingdom. Centered on the main wall was a stone fireplace and above it hung a hugely beautiful tapestry. I never wanted to leave that room, but am glad I did. The other exhibits in the museum offered me some of my first in person viewing of artworks by famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and Cezanne.
Tip: Go Friday evenings between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm where admission is free.
3. Fort Sumter, South Carolina
April 12, 1861 began the battle of the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil, the Civil War. The first shots were fired when the Confederate Army opened fired on this fort held by the Union on a small island just outside the city of Charleston. It is now a national monument controlled by the National Park Service. To get there you have to take a boat by Fort Sumter tours that departs from two places; downtown Charleston and across the harbor at Patriots Point. I left from the Patriots Point location. A short roughly 30 minute boat ride took me to what remains of the fort. Even though it is not as grand as it was when built; there is still plenty to see. The tour guides are knowledgeable with vivid stories that bring the history to life. Their is a museum on sight as well filled with more information; and its air conditioned if you happen to be there on a hot summer day. If history is not your thing, the views and peacefulness of the island make it worth the boat ride. The downside is, you only get about an hour to explore the grounds. Is not super big and doable, but I recommend focusing in on the parts you really want to see.
Quick picture I snapped of the cannon looking out over the water towards the ocean at Fort Sumter.
2. Rickett’s Glenn Waterfall Trail, Pennsylvania
By now its no secret I love hiking trails through the woods and find serenity looking at waterfalls. This PA state park offers the perfect waterfall trail to do both. Roughly 7 miles of beauteous forestry scenery awaits one on this trail that boasts 22 waterfalls along its path. Since I already did a blog post about this location, I wont bore you again. If you missed it, you can read my adventure here.
1. Solar Eclipse in South Carolina
In August of 2017 all the talk was of the solar eclipse. My husband and I had planned our Myrtle Beach trip that week for this reason. While the city of Myrtle Beach was not in the path of totality, we only had to drive a couple hours away to see it. My husband really wanted to see this and carefully mapped out an area we could go. It was more wooded and not really in a town. We ended up in some very back roads area, but found a nice place to pull off. It was the end of someone's private lane with plenty of open area and about 5 other groups of people were hanging out. We bought the special glasses so we could watch the progress of the moon as it crept across the sun. As the moment got close, I could feel the air get cooler, the sunlight didn't quite look the same, and then it happened. It is hard to describe those minutes where I could look with my naked eye at the sky in the middle of the day. A dark black circle blocked the sun but radiant a white glow. I felt as if I was looking at some out of a movie. It was a moment of awe as I realized that some of the best things in life are those that occur naturally. That is why this is the eclipse takes the number one spot.
Photo above courtesy of Pixabay.