Where am I going today?

Where am I going today?

Red Carpet Inn Scottish Inns Master Hosts Inns Downtowner Inns Passport Inn

Get Packin'

Category: ‘Something For Everyone’

6 Great Apps for Traveling

Posted: May 31st, 2016 by

6 great apps for traveling

Traveling in unfamiliar places can be frustrating

Where’s the cheapest gas, the best food, free WiFi?

Load these FREE apps and the answers will be at your fingertips


Don’t leave home without this FREE App!

Gas prices can vary enormously by up to 20 cents a gallon or more.

The Gasbuddy App will find the cheapest gas price in the USA or Canada by city/zip or postal code.

Plus there’s a chance of winning $100 of gas every day!

Earn points for reporting gas prices and earn awards for posting gas prices



This FREE App is a visual guide to good food and where to find it.

Instead of reviewing restaurants, you can recommend dishes and see what foodspotters, friends and experts recommend wherever you go.

Unlike other restaurant apps, the Foodspotting App is about dishes, not just restaurants, you can find whatever you’re craving, from Dumplings and Dosas to Cronuts and Ramen Burgers.



Never feel like a stranger when traveling once you download this FREE App.

Foursquare is your ultimate city guide, in your pocket.

Find the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit — in any city in the world.

Access over 60 million short reviews from local experts.

You can also save places you want to go, so you never forget


touchnoteOnce Upon A Time, people sent postcards. This FREE App makes it so easy.

The Touchnote App allows you to use your photos to create and send REAL personalised postcards – the easiest way to share memories, and make someone’s day!

There is a small postal charge, but you can handle it all from your phone. So no more looking for a place to buy stamps.

You can even include a micro-sized Google Map of your whereabouts.

And you can also share your postcards on Facebook.

BonjournalCreating a Travel Journal with photos is simpler than you thought possible.

Bonjournal is a FREE App that is a simple way to record and share your travel adventures.

The app helps you easily collect all the beautiful moments, stories and pictures from your journey into a single narrative.

Making entries each day means no homework when your trip is over!


wifi finderThe FREE WIFi Finder App will help you find FREE WiFi hotspots in more than 50 countries around the world:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, United_States, Vietnam.

And you don’t need to be connected to the Internet to find the nearest hotspot — all the hotspots are stored locally on your device.

The Greatest Adventure Lies Ahead

J.R.R. Tolkien

Using these 6 great apps for traveling, means you can focus more on your Great Adventure,

rather than spending time looking for places to eat, visit, shop or fill the car up.

And you can make Grandma’s day by sending a postcard!

Don’t forget to sign up for an Inncentive Card and get a Good Night’s Sleep for Less

All these Apps are Free and available for iphones and Androids.

April Showers and Flowers

Posted: April 14th, 2016 by

The month of April is everything we are looking for after the winter.

Glorious bursts of colors as flowers gently open to the warm rays of the sun.

Travelling can be dull and boring, so brighten the experience by checking out nearby Botanical Gardens


Nashville, TN



Cheekwood Botanical Garden, not too far from the Scottish Inns Hotel located at 426 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN 37210

Ranked #9 in USA Today 10 Best Botanical Gardens and features 55 acres divided into a dozen themed areas including a Japanese Garden, an herb garden, two perennial gardens, a color garden, water garden, seasons garden and an award-winning wildflower garden. Sounds relaxing and peaceful, so different to the Interstate that you may be travelling on.


Pine Mountain GA

Travelling south of Atlanta along the I85 means you can take a break wandering around the Callaway Gardens.  The Callaway Azalea Bowl looks wonderful this time of the year.

calloway 1 calloway

This 40-acre garden is home to more than 3,000 native and hybrid azaleas, which explode into a colorful palette of pinks, reds, lavenders and whites each Spring. Additional plantings include 2,000 trees and shrubs that provide an array of foliage and blooms throughout the year. With wide walking paths that criss-cross the hillside gardens, the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl is a delightful spot for a leisurely stroll in any season. A gazebo overlooking Falls Creek Lake is an ideal resting spot from which to drink in the picture-postcard beauty.

Glencoe IL

Visiting Chicago IL and need a break? Then take time out and visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. 385 acres with 26 gardens and 4 natural areas that include Japanese gardens and an English walled garden. This beautiful site is ranked #8 in USA Today 10 Best Botanical Gardens and is well worth a visit. Just a few minutes drive from the Red Carpet Inn located at 3207 Buckley Rd. N Chicago, IL 60064


tumblr_n4fvzqzdRw1rgztpko1_400 Chicago-Botanic-Garden

There’s even a tram to take you on a tour if you want a rest from walking. The tram ride is 2.3 miles and runs  through the Japanese Garden, the McDonald Woods and alongside the Garden’s 81 acres of water.

Happy Travelling!

Tis’ The Season to be Shopping . . . Fa La La La La … La La La La

Posted: November 21st, 2013 by
What can be more festive than a holiday bedecked mall - flickr image by e e paul

What can be more festive than a holiday bedecked mall – flickr image by e e paul

Although statistically speaking, it has been said that approximately 71% of Americans will do their shopping online this year, for many it’s just not the holidays without a mall visit. After all, the jingling of bells, the hustle and bustle of people mingling and jostling bags and boxes, the aromas of holiday treats wafting from various food vendors, decorative store fronts with tinsel and twinkling lights, Santa’s here and there, and just the happy chaos that is reminiscent of the past that many of us have not forgotten is reason enough to at least abandon our online shopping for one or two store bought gifts.

So where are the most popular shopping places anyhow? While Travel and Leisure listed 32 of the most popular shopping malls during the holidays, we’ll spare you all the details and list the top 5, although you can learn more about this phenomena here

Number 1 Shopping Mall during the Holiday Season

Number 1 Shopping Mall during the Holiday Season

No. 1 Mall of America, Bloomington, MN
Annual Visitors: 40 million
Year Opened: 1992

With more than 400 shops and a nice blend of retail and entertainment (a roller coaster inside no less) it is no wonder the Mall of America is at the top of the list.

Is that a snowman we see outside of Aventura Mall in Miami, Florida?

Is that a snowman we see outside of Aventura Mall in Miami, Florida?

No. 2 Aventura Mall, Aventura, FL
Annual Visitors: 28 million
Year Opened: 1983

Oh my, what isn’t good about Aventura Mall? Its located in sunny Miami, Florida and hosts special events like the Chocolate Festival and the Great American Bake Sale, plus has the added advantage of Gulfstream Park thoroughbred horse racing and championship golf courses among other features in its enclave.

By the way, if you’re in need of a good night’s sleep after you shop til’ you drop, check us out.


FALL: It’s All About Falling Leaves and Festivals

Posted: October 2nd, 2013 by

Fall in Aspen, Colorado is evident by the stark white bark of the Birch Trees and their brilliant yellow leaves sprinkled with radiant reds.  Flickr photo by snowpeak

Fall in Aspen, Colorado is evident by the stark white bark of the Birch Trees and their brilliant yellow leaves sprinkled with radiant reds. Flickr photo by snowpeak

Every October the same phenomenon occurs when leaves of the quaking Aspen glow in various shades of yellow, and the Beech dazzles with golden bronze while the Birch tree’s’ bark’ is as captivating as its leaves of golden-yellow brillance. Probably the most favored trees in the fall for resplendent foliage are Maple and Oak trees. Japanese Maple trees are drenched in bronze, purple and red leaves come October, and then there is the Paper Bark Maple with its bright red leaves, or one of my favorites, the Sugar Maple with its explosion of orange foliage and the silver maple with its shimmering yellow leaves.

It Takes My Breath Away . . .

Posted: July 31st, 2013 by

We’ve all had an awe-struck sensation a time or two in our lives. Even viewing a single sunset or sunrise can cause us to mouth an exclamation of sorts, and in an instant the site takes our breath away.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

me-with-dancers1me-blue-bear1Every time I return home to Denver. It matters not if I am flying in or driving in, for as soon as I glimpse the panorama of the Rock Mountains as a back-drop to the Denver skyline I get a lump in my throat and have that awe-struck moment . . . .Denver is also a city that embraces the arts, so much so that no matter where you go you are visually impacted by the city’s love of art, and the beauty of this is that there is no cost to see sculptures that will make you smile (like the big blue bear) or stop you in your tracks for that second look (like the dancers).
New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Certainly nature’s vistas and breathtaking skylines can take one’s breath away. Check out this Youtube fan and video contributor with his top ten skyline choices at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbHq5crFsu8. You’ll also discover a boat load of other Youtube videos with even more great skyline photos as well.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Whether it is a sunset that causes you to pause and just drink in its beauty or the site of nature’s paintbrush in the Grand Canyon or red rock formations in places like Utah or Arizona, or the beauty of historic structures or mind-boggling wonder of buildings that seem to defy gravity, we all have our awe-struck moments. There is no time like the present to get out and enjoy the sites; after all, there is no cost ‘just to look’ . . .

What are your favorite sites to behold, and when was the last time you experienced them?
[polldaddy poll=7289516]

FREE is GOOD! Part 3 of a 3 part series

Posted: July 1st, 2013 by

Macy's 4th of July Parade flickr image by Joyce Andes

Macy’s 4th of July Parade
flickr image by Joyce Andes

Why not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our country? You might head over to Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for the Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert or simply watch the fireworks at the Philly 4th of July Jam.

If Philly is not on your mind, perhaps the beauty of the Smoky Mountains is calling your name – so head over to UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to hear live music by Kenny Mann and Liquid Pleasure, and a spectacular light up the sky fireworks display. You don’t want to miss the watermelon eating contest as well . . .

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Nashville “Music City” 4th of July celebration is a must attend event . . . “ If there’s one thing Nashville knows how to do, it’s throw a party.” . . . . “Get ready for a day full of FREE LIVE MUSIC (including The Band Perry), family fun and incredible fireworks in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee at the Lawn at Riverfront Park.”

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Why not “Spend the Fourth of July in the Nations Capital and celebrate with fireworks and festivals,” featuring an Independence Day parade with marching bands, patriotic floats; and then there’s the 90-minute music extravaganza with a “rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture” and live canon fire!

Want to learn more, look at the links at the end of the blog.


No doubt your town or city has something planned, so why not grill up those hamburgers and hotdogs, then head on down to the fireworks display where the echo of ooohs and ahhhs can be heard as we celebrate America’s birthday! For more details on these events check out these websites:

[polldaddy poll=7219383]

FREE is Good! (part 2 of a 3 part series)

Posted: June 11th, 2013 by

What’s the buzz about, you ask?

Coker Aboretum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wikemedia image

Coker Aboretum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wikemedia image

There are FREE tours on each 3rd Saturday at the North Carolina Botanical Garden located in one of the most beautiful University campuses in the nation: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This includes Coker Arboretum. June 23rd and June 29th both feature “Honey beehive and summer wildflowers and pollination tours,” where you will learn that “bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the world’s food and produce. You’ll also be treated (rain or shine) to a 60-minute long tour of the Display Gardens and get a close-up look at their new pollinator garden. For more information about events, check out http://ncbg.unc.edu/calendar/

A special footnote: Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the display gardens (inside fenced areas) but leashed dogs are allowed on the Piedmont Nature Trails.

Not into flora and fauna? Well, how about salty seas and sailors?

Wikimedia image is of the rotunda steps leading to Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy

Wikimedia image is of the rotunda steps leading to Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy

You’ll need a valid government ID (such as driver’s license or passport) to enter the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, but entry to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum is FREE. The museum has been housed in various locations at the Academy since it was founded in 1845. It underwent a complete renovation in 2007 and 2008, officially reopening in 2009. Some of the exhibits feature the story of the U.S. Navy, “the largest collection of seventeenth and eighteen-century ship models on public display in North America,” and virtual restoration of old ship models and the building of new ship models. You might want to visit this website to get additional information on exhibits and your visit to the U.S. Naval Academy’s Museum: http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org8_Visit.htm

USS Barry Display Ship, decommissioned November 1982 - Wikimedia image

USS Barry Display Ship, decommissioned November 1982 – Wikimedia image

USS Constitution Wikimedia image

USS Constitution
Wikimedia image

No matter if your interests are in tall ships, like the USS Constitution aka “Old Ironsides” the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world still afloat (docked in Boston Harbor), or more modern day sea vessels, like the decommissioned battleship USS Barry where History comes alive at the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yards in Washington DC. You can tour both for FREE, and by the way, if you can’t visit Boston any time soon, take a virtual tour of the USS Constitution. For more information and details, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/visitor_info.html
and http://www.hnsa.org/ships/barry.htm

Be sure to look for part 3 in this 3 part series where we will explore FREE 4th of July events.

Awe-Inspiring Tourism Sites: For the Nature-Lover in All of Us . . .

Posted: May 9th, 2013 by

I just recently read the latest issue of Vacations where they featured 12 awe-inspiring U.S. preserves. I have always enjoyed nature, as I’m sure many of our blog readers do, so I thought why not join in and feature some lesser know but equally ‘awe’ inspiring natural habitats that just might encourage you to load up the family and hit the road…

orange-chinned parakeet flickr sussexbirderWildwood Wildlife and Nature Center (aka Zoo of the Northwoods in Minocqua) is the 2nd largest zoo in Wisconsin, where you can get “up close and personal” while you have lunch at the all new Jambo Hut overlooking the Giraffe Serengeti habitat area, or with kiddies in hand you might want to have an interactive Budgie encounter where over 500 beautiful parakeets intermingle with the zoo’s guests. For those not into new-found feathered friends, you might want to bottle feed any number of animal bottle babies in their interactive petting zoo. Note: flickr photo of the two orange chinned parakeets is by sussexbirder

Perhaps one of the most unusual ‘animal type preserve’ is Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, where more than 1,000 exotic, wildlife and domestic animals call home, living side-by-side, as witnessed in these photos. The only way to do this sanctuary justice is to simply point you to their website.

Maybe you’re not into areas of confinement: if so, then the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway provides plenty of wide-open spaces, impressive any time of year, but more so in the Spring and Fall seasons when millions of migrating birds rest their wings and refuel at the Byway Wetlands. The region is filled with other species as well where you can find “burrowing owls to bobcats.”

The 77-mile Byway, including a stretch of the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas, connects two of the “world’s most significant wetlands” (Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge), and may very well change your vision of the Sunflower State.

Cheyenne Bottoms - photo by dr da wittCheyenne Bottoms is the largest interior marsh in the United States and one of the “most important shorebird migration stopover points in the Western Hemisphere where more than half of all shorebirds that migrate east of the Rockies pass through this 40,000-acre lowland” . . . and surely a favorite of ‘peepers’ also known as bird watchers.

It is said “there remain only a handful of natural places on this planet that display a vast, timeless, landscape,” places like the wetlands treasure, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Others include the Serengeti, the Everglades and the Amazon . . . all a wonder to behold.

bl tail jr wikimiAnother phenomenon that is part of this ecological wonder is the presence of the black tailed Jack Rabbit, where in Kansas it is a sport to hunt Jack Rabbits on horseback and with Greyhound dogs. These rabbits can run up to 40 mph and leap up to 25 feet in one bound. There are also bison, prairie dogs and the not so well known “magic muck” which sustains life for the many species that have a temporary or permanent home in the wetlands.

The beauty of nature is captivating, and we indeed are fortunate to have places such as the Zoo of the Northwoods, Noah’s Ark, and Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway. So, if touring Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, or ‘scoping’ out lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not on your list this year, perhaps Kansas, Wisconsin and Georgia are on your mind . . .

February . . . It’s All About Fenders and Foodies!

Posted: February 1st, 2013 by

I had meant for the title of this blog to be “February . . . it’s all about Feathers, Fenders and Foodies,” but alas, one of the two teams going to the Superbowl this year are not birds of a feather so to speak. Although honorable mention will be given to the Superbowl’s venue in the big easy – a touristy site if ever there was one, at the end of this blog.

Daytona 500 practice run

Daytona 500 practice run – Image from Wikimedia Commons

I’ve always thought of February as being a ho hum month, except for Valentines Day of course. If you’re one of those outdoorsy types; you know, snow bunny, skier, skater, angel wings maker, and are fortunate enough to live where snow flakes abound then you probably favor the month of February. For many others though this is the time of year when most days are dreary, some cold, possibly some snow and ice, but for the most part just blah! There are exceptions though, like sunny Florida, where tourism seems to shine even on a cloudy day.

Snowbirds have flocked to this coastal state for eons, escaping frigid temperatures in the northern climes, and automotive race fans, ever faithful to their sport, have been heading southward, since 1959, when the much anticipated DAYTONA-500, a major sports and tourist event has grown by leaps and bounds every year with more venues added pre and post race; so much so that you can virtually go from one event to another for the entire month.

A typical scene around South Beach - flickr image by Phillip Pessar

A typical scene around South Beach – flickr image by Phillip Pessar

It’s not just about roaring engines and sand and sea though; for instance, if you’re a “foodie” then the don’t-miss event is in South Florida (which precedes the Daytona 500 this year). The SOBEWFF (South Beach Wine & Food Festival) isn’t nearly as old as Daytona’s premier event, but with the presence of Food Network’s royalty; i.e., Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, and many other well known celebrity chefs, its’ ever-growing audience of foodies and Food Network coverage has made this a must attend tourist ‘food’ event.

By the way, while you are traveling along the highways and by-ways in the sunshine state, why not take a detour and visit some of these touristy sites:

Dolphin flickr image by Just Taken Pics

Dolphin flickr image by Just Taken Pics

• Fort Lauderdale – In the pink at Flamingo Gardens or Swim with the dolphins at Dolphin World
• Fort Myers – Take me out to the ball game at Boston Red Sox Spring Training
• Orlando – Mind blowing WonderWorks Orlando or Universal CityWalk
• St. Augustine – The original Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum or Black Raven a Pirate ship

. . . or try one of these two scenic routes. For more ideas, go to http://www.visitflorida.com/insiders/Off-the-Beaten-Path

• Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway and Tamiami Trail
Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway

Black bearFor those of you who won’t be taking a virtual tour of Florida, you may want to visit Florida’s lost tourist attractions to see what you may have missed long before foodies and fenders were the big thing in the sunshine state.

That is, unless your destination is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, located at 1500 Sugar Bowl Drive in New Orleans. Here fans will be treated to a football blow out ala 49’rs versus the Ravens, cool jazz, and all the Po-Boys, Gumbo, Craw Fish Etoufee, Jambalaya, Muffulettas and Beignets they can wash down with those famous Hurricane drinks from Pat O’Briens and other French Quarter eateries and establishments along “Rue Bourbon.”

We all know the month of February is a short month, so let’s make the most of it . . .

The greatest resource for travel to Florida is www.visitflorida.com and if you’re heading to the big easy,visit New Orleans tourism site.

Stretching Your Travel Dollar . . .

Posted: January 5th, 2013 by

It’s time to get down to leisure!  2013 was ushered in with some in trepidation, thanks to the political landscape over the past several months.  The news has been filled with impending disaster of the ‘fiscal cliff’, with many on edge with anticipation for the worst yet to come, halting any thought for the future, let alone planning a vacation.  Perhaps now is the time to be innovative when it comes to minimal to no discretionary income for a brief get-away, a weekend excursion, or an all out vacation.

This brings to mind my involvement with the USO while living in Germany.  One220px-Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_Commons of the many things USO does for its service members and their families is to provide economical recreational opportunities.  We lived in a very scenic area of Germany, less than a Berlin-zoodays drive to many popular attractions; such as Paris and the Eiffel Tower; Bavaria and its Black Forest;  Berlin and its famous zoo;  Belgium, home of the original French Fry and Luxembourg, a tiny country and home to several famous war memorials. 

Many may  not be familiar with the USO and its dependence on volunteers, and this my blog readers, is how some of my volunteers were able to venture into the French countryside, or tour a crumbling castle, or visit the famous art gallery ‘Le Louvre’ and so on.  Become a volunteer; drive a tour van, or earn a free seat on a tour. 

Today, there are numerous websites featuring volunteer opportunities tied to travel; however, they may not necessarily be FREE, but as the title says ‘Stretching Your Travel Dollar’, might just be the way to get out and go in 2013!

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity  - shown is Angkor Wat, a symbol of Cambodia

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity – shown is Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century, a symbol of Cambodia – wikimedia image

You might want to check out www.i-to-i.com/volunteering-and-sightseeing.html  where you can volunteer to work with wildlife, or put your carpentry skills to work.  Maybe you’re a born teacher, like working with children or love to teach sports.  How about helping to conserve the earth?  Health care, education, agriculture and construction are areas that need volunteers; and, in many cases these are in far-away lands, like Cambodia, where you can broaden your own horizon.

Don’t forget staying at home has its advantages too.  I searched: www.free-attractions.com and found some pretty cool things to see and do. 

Want to trek through history, going back to 1850; well you can do so at Oakland Oakland-cemeteryCemetery; Atlanta, Georgia’s oldest cemetery and a “supreme example of a Victorian cemetery.”  Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind is one of the famous buried here.  By the way, you can volunteer to work at Oakland Cemetery — a great opportunity for history buffs. 

And . . . for the nature lover, the next time you’re near New York’s Bronx Village, why not meander throughout the 250 ‘exquisite’ acres of the New York Botanical Garden; visit some of their 50 gardens, or stop by their landmark conservatory.  Nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss opportunity (note: there is an admission cost, but if you buy a New York pass you can visit over 70 top New York attractions – now that’s really stretching your travel dollar!  Prices vary based on the number of days and additional features you select.

Are you the adventurous type?  Did you know there are approximately 58 national parks in the U.S.?  In some cases there is no admission fee, while there may be minimal costs for touring in your car, or entering some areas as well as camping fees.  Visit www.nps.gov for more information.

beale street memphis by cwwycoff1If you’re a music lover, like I am, and need a little exercise, why not ramble up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana or on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee . . . and while it pays to pay to hear someone to play, you can still catch the strains of some mighty good blues and jazz drifting out of local nightclubs and record stores at no cost to you!

Why not share a FREEBIE with your fellow blog reader … let us know of some fun thing to do, or a great place to visit or see in 2013!