by Sharm | Mar 6, 2018 | Cities, Travel & Resorts
Abilene, Kansas is mostly known for being the hometown of President Eisenhower, but this small town has plenty more to offer than just a visit to his historic home and library.
I know you are thinking, what in the heck is there to do in this middle of this nowhere Kansas town. I thought the same thing until I had the chance to spend a weekend in Abilene. It was absolutely charming and with only being a couple hours away from Wichita or Kansas City, makes it a fun getaway from life in the big city.
I had the chance to visit in early December and enjoyed the Night of Christmas Magic. I loved watching the hustle and bustle of the families enjoying activities and the children’s faces when santa arrived. It was wholesome and some what nostalgic. Something I think many cities are missing these days.
I also went on the Homes for the Holidays Tour, which features beautifully decorated historic homes. Abilene features many activities throughout the year, so there is a reason to visit every season! Keep reading to see what season you will want to plan your visit!
Starting with spring, visitors can enjoy watching or participating in the Eisenhower Marathon in early April. Awards are presented by members of the Eisenhower family at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home Visitors Center.
The Saturday of Easter weekend, Washington D.C. has the White House Easter Egg Roll and Abilene does too! Thousands of eggs are placed on the lawn of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home and children rush to find them.
Reitz & Rust Vintage Market & Vintage Camper Show. This event held in late April, features more than 200 vendors and dozens of vintage campers. It is labeled a must see event by Southern Living magazine.
Other spring activites include the Arts & Ales craft beer sampling and the Abilene Antique Fest.
In June, summer brings the opening of the Great Plains Theatre which was established in 1995. It is the only live professional theatre between Denver and Kansas City on I-70. The theatre features comedians, magicians, chart topping musicians and Pulitzer winning Broadway shows.
Celebrate Independence Day with an Old Fashioned 4th of July celebration. Activities include a variety of fun runs, pedal power tractor pull, sports tournaments, mud and sand volleyball, baby beauty contest, frog and turtle races, band performances and of course, a stellar fireworks display! Abilene is named one of Smithsonian Magazine’s “Top 20 Best Small Towns to Visit.”
The first weekend of August brings Central Kansas Free Fair and Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, which was named one of the Top 5 Medium-Sized Rodeos by PRCA.
October brings Heritage Days complete with historic reenactments, activities for kids, farm machinery demonstrations as more! It is also your last chance of the season to catch the Excursion Train. This 10-mile excursion train ride through the Smoky River Hill Valley features a 100 year old wooden coach dining car and other vintage equipment.
December brings the Annual Homes for the Holidays Tour, where you can tour a number historic beautifully decorated homes though out the town. Along with homes tour is the Night of Christmas magic, usually the first weekend in December and is fun for the whole family. Activities include Santa’s workshop, craft fair, lighted Christmas parade, games, lighting of the historic Union Pacific Depot and more.
For Valentines Day in February, couples can plan a romantic getaway and stay at one of Abilene’s quaint bed and breakfasts. The Victorian Inn allows you to step back in time while still having access to all 21st century conveniences. Or you can pamper yourself at the Windmill Inn which offers in room massages.
Year around visitors can enjoy the variety of museums, including the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Abilene is full of history and 21 structures in town are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Seelye Mansion.
The Dickinson County Heritage Center depicts life on the plains during the American pioneer movement and westward expansion periods. It also houses the Museum of Independent Technology which shows the telephone system history through exhibits of antique telephones. It also tells the story of The United Telephone Company, which is now Sprint, that was formed in Abilene by C. L. Brown in 1922.
Children and parents both will enjoy a ride on the original 1901 C.W. Parker Carousel which is located at the Heritage Center as well.
Abilene is also home to the worlds biggest spur!
If you are a foodie or just a tired traveler along I- 70 looking for a bite to eat, Abilene offers plenty of great choices. The Brookville Hotel which traces back to the 1870’s became famous for serving family style fried chicken dinners, which still continue to this day. Reservations are highly recommended.
Another hot spot in town is Three one one and is labeled the “Key West of the Midwest.” This spot is family owned by Chef John Shaft from Florida and gets rave reviews about his fish tacos.
Downtown Abilene offers quaint shops such as Cypress Bridge, where you can pick up a hand poured custom scented candle, home decor items, homemade potpourri, scented oils, bath and body products for him or her and more. RHV, is a little hardware store that will have anything you need including unique products tailored just for that area. Antique lovers will enjoy browsing the many antique stores and for the Chocoholics, a visit to the Russell Stover 10,000 sq. ft. outlet store is a must. Visitors can purchase ice cream delights, along with the many other types of candies and homemade chocolate delicacies.
Lodging includes quaint bed and breakfasts, hotels and campgrounds.
For more information on planning your trip, visit the Abilene visitors website. Photos are courtesy of Abilene visitor center and myself. I wish to thank the city of Abilene for hosting my visit.
For those who have visited Abilene, please feel free to comment below on your favorite thing about Abilene.
by Sharm | Nov 28, 2017 | Hotels, Spas, Travel, Travel & Resorts
If you are thinking about visiting the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana should be on your list. There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts including Excellence. We stayed at the Excellence resort a few months ago and are set to go back this spring. Below I have listed an overview of the property and all of the perks of the resort that we enjoyed.
Accommodations: Our room was a junior swim up suite that has it’s own beach bed just steps away from the pool. There are quite a few suite options that include mountain view, garden view, ocean view and ocean front. All suites range in price so it is the perfect place to stay as you can find one that fits your budget.
Food: With nine all-inclusive international dining options, one buffet restaurant and beach snack grill, you will not have to worry about getting hungry or hangry in my case. The food was quite good and elegant. It is not quite as gourmet inclusive as the El Dorado Casitas but we still very much enjoyed it.
Drink: You may get drunk, but you will not go thirsty. Unlimited alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are just a beck and call away wiith 24-hour room service and pool and beach waiter service. Or you can visit one of the 12 bars on the property! My favorite is the Piña Colada served oceanside in a fresh pineapple.
Activities: I was pretty content to just hang out in the beach bed or pool most of the day but I did manage a few workouts in the fully equipped fitness center. If you are not like me and want to get up and go, there are plenty of daily activities, snorkel gear and scuba lessons available. If you wish to venture off the resort, there are plenty of excursions including four wheeling, shopping in the local village, spelunking down the Caribbean’s longest underground cave, golf and more.
Entertainment: If you haven’t worn yourself out during the day and are still sober, there is nightly entertainment featuring a different theme show every night you can enjoy.
Spa: If laying out in the beach bed all day is not relaxing enough, you can pamper yourself at the Miilé Spa.The grounds of the spa are tranquil and tropical with a flock of flamingos lounging in the nearby lagoon.
There are plenty of treatments to choose from including massage, body wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures, salon services and more. I enjoyed a body scrub with a massage and it was heavenly!
Service: The entire staff is friendly and ready to serve you what ever your heart desires and being that it is all-inclusive all taxes and gratuities included.
Booking Specials: The prices are always changing but there is usually some type of special going on so just check out the Excellence Resort Website for information on rooms, pricing, amenities or any other questions you have.
As a traveler I enjoy researching and reading about people experiences on places we may visit so I hope this helps if that is what you are looking for. I need to be clear that I am not endorsing the resort nor was I compensated to write about this. This was a vacation we took and paid full price.
We very much enjoyed it and as I mentioned earlier already have a return trip booked. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions by commenting below or contacting me.
by Sharm | Jun 11, 2017 | Fitness, Health, Lifestyle & Technology
Staying fit while traveling can be tricky. Whether you are busy traveling due to summer and vacations or work takes you on the road, these handy tips from Sloane Davis of Pancakes and Push-Ups will help keep you on track.
HOW TO STAY FIT WHEN TRAVELING
By Sloane Davis
Trying to stay fit and healthy can be challenging when traveling. I always tell my clients that the goal should be to maintain, not gain while away. And while I am an advocate for living life and enjoying all that is has to offer, going on vacation shouldn’t become a free for all to throw in the towel when it comes to health and fitness.
A common question I receive from many prospective clients is “I am going on vacation soon. Should I wait to start the plan or start right away?” My answer is always this: There is never a “good” or “easy” time to start. You have to learn to live a healthy lifestyle which is what my plans aim to do. In other words, start the plan today. That way, when it does come time for vacation, you have the tools you need to maintain, not gain.
While you won’t track every food that goes into your mouth on vacation, subconsciously you are much more aware of how your meals should look and be balanced if you are following a plan prior to vacation. I can’t tell you how many clients come back to have not gained an ounce. THAT is WINNING!
Here are some tips to help you stay fit and healthy when traveling:
Drink a lot of water – Lots of walking, hours spent outside in the sun… traveling can be exhausting. The airplane ride alone will dehydrate you from the altitude. I love to take a reusable water bottle and fill it up after I pass through security to take on the plane with me. This ensures that I am drinking throughout the flight and don’t have to wait for the flight attendants to serve me. And when they do come to serve, take it! Drink all the water you can. You will feel so much better getting off the plane hydrated instead of tired, queasy, tight, and drained.
When you get to your destination, continue to drink water. Incorporate foods that also contain a lot of water such as lettuce, watermelon and cucumbers.
Stick to your normal routine as much as possible: Just because you are away doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and eat everything in sight. This goes especially for all inclusive resorts or a buffet. Just because you pay for something doesn’t mean you have to overdo it. Breakfast included in the hotel? Stick to an omelette, a piece of toast or oatmeal, some fresh fruit and one “treat.” You don’t need muffins, bacon, hash browns, pancakes AND french toast if you normally don’t eat that at home. That’s just being a glutton. Pick one savory food and enjoy it. Tomorrow is a new day and a few hours later you will be eating your next meal again.
Keep things in moderation: You don’t have to have everything in one day. Bread, alcohol, dessert all add up at one meal. All 3 along with your meal could mean your total daily allowance of calories or more. So pick one, and choose another the following day. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
If you tend to eat more at night, then keep your breakfast and lunch on the lighter side. If you know you are going to have a few cocktails for happy hour then moderate your intake during the day. It is all about balance.
Try to keep active: If you normally workout daily then try to go to the gym half the amount of days you are on vacation. Vacation is just that…a break, so don’t feel like you have to hit the gym at 7am each morning to feel good about yourself. Let go of some of the stress. Go for a walk, enjoy the outdoors and do something entirely different then you are used to.
If there is no gym and you do want to workout, pack resistance bands. They are super light and there are so many exercises that you can do with them (see my video on how here) . You could also incorporate some body weight exercises or plyometrics in your hotel room (see hotel room workout video here). Just 20 minutes a day will make you feel a whole lot better and most likely help you make better decisions throughout the day.
Have the willpower to stay on track: I know sometimes this is easier said then done, but I can guarantee that you will feel so much better coming home from a vacation knowing you enjoyed it yet didn’t gain a pound rather than coming home 5 pounds heavier only to have to work it back off. We all know how easy it is to put weight on and how difficult it is to take it off. Just a few minor tweaks each day while away can mean the world of difference.
You are stronger than you think. Choose your battles while you are away. Don’t cave into defeat. You can do it! Vacation is so much more than eating everything in sight. Take the time to enjoy those you spend it with, the scenery, and the culture it has to offer. The food is just a bonus, not the entire package.
Sloane Davis is a Certified Nutritionist and Personal Trainer who has helped thousands of people, both men and women, around the world get in to top shape both mentally and physically. Sloane has her undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University and became accredited through ISSA with her degree in Sports Nutrition and Personal Training. She works personally and online with thousands of clients around the US and globally.
She has been featured in People, Fitness Magazine, New Beauty Magazine, Apple News, The Daily Mail, Yahoo News, Westchester Magazine and Fox 5 Good Day New York.
by Sharm | Apr 23, 2017 | Cities, Food & Drink, Restaurants, Travel, Travel & Resorts
This Chicago dining guide for local fare just highlights some of my favorite spots. If you are serious foodie like me and are spending the day in Chicago, I recommend adding these to your list to check out while visiting. Most of these places fill up quickly so it is best to get your reservation in at least a few days ahead of time if not weeks before dining.
Click on the restaurants link for directions, hours and menu information
The Farmhouse Chicago, Stuffed French Toast
This locally owned cafe is located a few minutes from downtown but feels like an old rustic small town cafe you might find in the middle of Iowa. The decor will take you back to your Grandma’s childhood kitchen with antique furnishings and appliances placed throughout the space. Dishes are prepared using local and seasonal ingredients from area producers as well as the restaurants owners farm.
Must try: Stuffed French Toast with extra syrup
Lunch: Fronterra Grill
Frontera Grill Sopecitos Rancheros
Fronterra Grill owned by Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, is always on my list when visiting the windy city. The elevated Mexican fare is like non other. Rick is passionate about using produce and meats from local farms. The flavor combinations he uses in his dishes set Fronterra Grill apart from any other Mexican restaurants I have tried.
Must try: Sopecitos Rancheros
Snack: Garret’s Popcorn Shop
A visit to Chicago is not complete without a visit to the iconic Garrett’s Popcorn Shop. Once in the door the caramel corn aroma will have your mouth watering. I prefer the Almond Caramel Crisp, but the Garrett Mix that combines sweet Caramel Crisp with savory Cheese Corn is the most popular.
Must try: Garret’s Mix
Dinner: The Girl and The Goat
The Girl and The Goat
Get your reservation in early for The Girl and The Goat owned by celebrity chef Stephanie Izzard. The dishes are served family style, which make them ideal for sharing. Most come in the “small plate” format so it is ideal to go with a group to try a variety of things. The restaurant serves only dinner and opens at 4:30 pm. This makes a great spot if you are need of dining late as it does not close until 11 pm Sunday – Thursday and 12 am Friday and Saturday.
Must try: Chickpea Fritter
The Girl and The Goat, Chickpea Fritter
by Sharm | Mar 4, 2017 | Hotels, Travel & Resorts
A stay at the El Dorado Casitas Royale will sweep you away to paradise. Hubby and I vacationed there a few months ago and oh my was it heaven! I can’t really call this post a review as there was no compensation involved so I will refer to it as an experience. If you are looking into staying at the resort, I hope this experience will help you make your decision. Please feel free to reach out to me by commenting below or sending an email if you have any questions.
The El Dorado Casitas Royale is part of the Karisma Gourmet Inclusive line of resorts. The Gourmet Inclusive resorts take pride in the food served. Most fresh herbs, fruits and vegetable are grown on site to ensure freshness, quality and of course taste. There is tour available to visit the on-site green houses and gardens.
Locally sourced meats and fish are served when available and unique ingredients are imported from the country of origin. For instance in the Italian restaurant on the property, the ingredients used in the house-made pasta are imported in from Italy.
With so many restaurants to choose from it is best to stay a week so you can try them all. Not one of them dissapointed and each of them serve such artfully plated food that it can almost be to pretty to eat.
In addition, the resort has what I have called “Foodie Experiences” and must not be missed.
Foodie Experience one is the Fuentes Culinary Theater.
This live action cooking demonstration hosted by the Chef and Sommelier will ignite all of your senses with a 5 course dinner with wine parings.
Foodie Experience two is the Chefs Table.
Tucked away in the back of D’ Italia there is a private room awaiting to indulge your senses. You will interact one on one with the chef as he prepares a special and unique menu just for you.
The food at this meal was some of the best I have ever had and even made me a fan of goose liver. Who new it could be so good!
At one point there were three chefs preparing house-made sorbets and syrups to create a stunning masterpiece of a dessert.
Reservations must be made for all of the restaurants and experiences, so it is best to get with the concierge upon arrival and book all of your reservations for the duration of your stay. Here is a listing of all of the restaurants and descriptions of each.
Now to the accommodations. The resort is divided into two sections with the Casistas being a little more secluded. Access to personal concierge service is included when staying at the Casitas as well. It is a little farther to walk to some of the amenities such as fitness center and theater but having the selection of beach front beach beds was heavenly. There is also a golf cart type shuttle available to get you to and from if needed.
I cannot comment on other accommodations other than the room we had which was lovely. Upon arrival there was champagne chilling on the table.
The room was spacious and very accommodating.
The bathroom features an indoor and outdoor shower so that speeds up the process for two people getting ready at once.
Our room had a small private pool area along with seating for lounging.
Speaking of lounging, my favorite place was the beach front beach beds. It seemed my day consisted of hubby getting up early to grab us a bed while I did morning yoga overlooking the ocean. On the way back I would grab a protein shake made with fresh tropical fruit and lounge the morning away overlooking the ocean.
By the time lunch rolled around it was time for a tropical drink and then maybe a seaside nap. Before I knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner.
Now by all means, you do not have to be lazy like me if adventure is your thing. The resort offers plenty of activities, excursions and a tequila tasting featuring unique and local tequilas.
I was most pleased with our stay. All of the staff were courtesy and friendly. The grounds, rooms and venues were clean and well kept. After writing this and reliving it through the photos, I am ready to go back!