Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wisconsin: 101 Things to Do in Kenosha for $10 or less

FUN 101: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under (Many are FREE!)

SPRING/SUMMER 2018 Prices and other information reflected are accurate at the time of printing and subject to change. Prices do not include tax and gratuity.

1. Walk, bike, rollerblade, or just sit and relax along the Lake Michigan shore. The sunrises are stunning! FREE
2. Bring your pooch to play at one of four off-leash dog parks. FREE to $5 depending on park
3. View our Great Lake from the top of the 1866 Southport Lighthouse. It’s 72 steps to the top! $10 & under
4. Enjoy the Sculpture Walk, which runs along the harbor and features a dozen works of art. Look for the banjo-playing pig! FREE
5. More outdoor public art can be found throughout the area, including outside DeBerge’s Framing and Gallery and around Downtown Kenosha. FREE
6. Experience the 1950s as carhops serve you at Big Star Drive-In and The Spot Drive-In. Prices vary 7. Come play at Kenosha’s first inclusive, 100% accessible playground: the Dream Playground at Petzke Park. FREE
8. Root for the home team! The Kenosha Kingfish play baseball in the collegiate Northwoods League at historic Simmons Field. $8+
9. Enjoy Keyed Up Kenosha, a piano art walk project in Downtown Kenosha. Beginning June 9, you can stop by the decorated pianos and “tickle the ivories”. FREE
10. A fleet of seven Electric Streetcars travel through the Civic Center and Pearl Street Historic Districts, as well as along Lake Michigan. $1 & under
11. Kids can cool off at the splash pad by the lakefront. It’s located at HarborPark. FREE
12. Enjoy free cheese samples and one-of-a-kind photo ops at Mars Cheese Castle. FREE
13. Kenosha has five beaches along Lake Michigan! Stroll along the boardwalk on Simmons Island Beach. FREE
14. What do a Mimosa, Bloody Mary, Cinnamon Roll, and Irish Coffee have in common? Each is delicious and under $6 at Franks Diner!
15. On select weekends, Kemper Center’s Durkee Mansion is open for self-guided tours in the Third Avenue Historic District. FREE
16. Enjoy a “game of throws”! There are four disc golf locations: Fox River Park, Lincoln Park, Silver Lake Park, and UW-Parkside. FREE
17. The Wilmot Flea Market takes place on Sundays, April 15 – Oct 14 (excluding Aug 12 and 19) at the Kenosha County Fairgrounds. $2 & under
18. There are more than 130 miles of bike trails to explore in Kenosha County, including the Kenosha County Bike Trail and Pike Bike Trail. FREE
19. At Wine Knot, enjoy their Signature Red or White Sangria on the patio. $7
20. Now at a new location, enjoy a family outing to Alpaca Art Pottery Painting. $7 studio fee plus the cost of your pottery ($3+)
21. Each month, enjoy Second Saturday with sales, live entertainment, and family activities in Downtown Kenosha. Many FREE activities
22. Check out the get bEHIND the aRTS Studio Tour, April 27-29. The self-guided tour in two communities gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of artists’ innovative worlds! $5 & under
23. Golf in picturesque settings at Brighton Dale Links and Petrifying Springs Golf Course. Super Twilight rate $10 for 9 holes walking, Mon-Thurs after 5:30pm and Fri-Sun after 4pm
24. The Transparent Watercolor Society of America 42nd Annual National Juried Exhibition is at the Kenosha Public Museum, May 5 – Aug 5. FREE
25. At Jelly Belly Visitor Center, be a goalie in the Bean Blitz soccer game, blocking virtual Jelly Belly jelly beans. FREE

26. Visit Bristol 45 Diner for its cruise-in nights May through September (first, third, fifth Monday of the month). FREE
27. The Kenosha Lighthouse Studio at North Pier Lighthouse offers many events, including Chalk on the Walk for families on May 12. FREE
28. Experience the outdoor Kenosha HarborMarket on Saturdays, May 12 – Oct 13. Enjoy live music as you shop. FREE admission
29. Kenosha Craft Beer Week takes place at various locations May 12-20. Prices vary
30. Enjoy family-friendly, choreographed Aquanut Water Shows on Lake Mary, most Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 26 – Sept 1. FREE
31. Come see the new 100-foot long Giant Whale kite at the Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kennedy Park, June 2-3. FREE
32. Go Fish! Fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3. FREE
33. Treat your pooch to Doggie Frozen Yogurt at K9 Kibble. It’s available in multiple flavors, including Apple Juice & Cheddar. $1.85
34. Enjoy the Family Nature Faire and Fishing Clinic at Richard Bong State Recreation Area on June 3. FREE park entrance; $5 and under for some of the activities
35. Pick out any treat at Sugar Boxx, a shop that’s filled with over 100 varieties of frozen novelties (think ice cream treats)! $1.50+
36. The Washington Park Velodrome is the oldest operating track of its kind in the country. “Fill the Hill” and watch races on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday evenings! FREE
37. Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm hosts two popular summer events: Babies on the Farm, June 9-10, and Sweet Corn Fest, Aug 11-12. Nominal fee
38. Park once and enjoy the sights aboard the Lakefront Trolley, which travels from Pennoyer Park, through Downtown, and to Kemper Center. $1 & under
39. Try one of 13 different varieties of Panini sandwiches at the iconic Tenuta’s Delicatessen, grilled in-house and served up at the outdoor grill. $5.99
40. Enjoy Paddock Lake from the beach at Old Settlers Park. Entry fee on weekends (Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends): $10 & under per car
41. Bring the family for a fun morning on the farm! The Kenosha County Dairy Breakfast is at Spoerlein Farms on June 16. Nominal fee
42. On Friday evenings in the summer, enjoy Movies on the Mound at the Petrifying Springs Biergarten. FREE
43. The Kenosha Pops Concert Band performs each Wednesday evening at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell, June 13 – Aug 8. FREE
44. Live music by many Kenosha area musicians is the focus of Bloomin’ Bands June 15-16. FREE 45. June 21 is Food Folks & Spokes. This family-friendly festival includes the Tour of America’s Dairyland cycling races, food, entertainment, and more. FREE
46. Enjoy an evening of live music at Hawthorn Hollow’s outdoor amphitheater. June 22, July 13, and Aug 17 are the dates of the Pike River Benefit Concert Series. $10
47. Play a game of pickleball at Fox River Park. FREE
48. Along the Lake Michigan shore, the Twilight Jazz Free Concert Series happens at Anderson Arts Center on June 26, July 17, July 24, July 31, Aug 28. FREE
49. Enjoy the Library Park Historic District Walking Tour – held the second Saturday of each month, June through October. The Kenosha History Center presents this guided tour. $10
50. At Library Park, visit a plaque which marks the site of an Underground Railroad stop. FREE

51. Here’s a trio of patriotic events: Libertyfest (June 29-30), Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade (July 1), and Celebrate America (July 3-4). FREE
52. Enjoy family fun at Bristol Progress Days, July 13-15. FREE
53. Enjoy Lincoln Park Live concerts on select Wednesdays at the picturesque Lincoln Park. FREE 54. Tuesdays At The Shell concerts happen at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell each Tuesday, July 10 – Aug 28. FREE
55. Watch a model train deliver your Philly Cheese Steak at Choo Choo Charlie’s. $8.99
56. See the 360-degree movie “Seeing the Elephant” at the Civil War Museum, which is one of just three venues nationwide using 360-degree movie technology. $9 & under
57. Would you like some PBJ for lunch or dinner? The Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series serves up two concerts each Thursday, July 12 – Aug 30. FRE
58. This is Year 10 for Taste of Wisconsin™, which takes place July 27-29 on the Lake Michigan shore. FREE
59. The Colonial through Western Fur Trade era of the 1650s through 1850s will come alive on Simmons Island during Pike River Rendezvous, Aug 4-5. FREE
60. Celebrate the 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson at Uke’s Harley-Davidson, Wisconsin’s oldest H-D dealership. The celebration is Aug 28-Sept 3. FREE
61. You can’t go to Brat Stop without having the No. 1 Original Bratwurst served with chips. $6.99 62. Seniors (ages 60 & over) can enjoy the Kenosha YMCA for free on the third Tuesday of every month! FREE
63. The 98th Kenosha County Fair takes place Aug 15-19. The theme is: See “ewe” at the Fair! $10 & under
64. For a refreshing drink, take home lemonade concentrate from Elise Mae’s Bakery & Cannery. It’s made in-house from whole fruit. $10
65. Fly down the 200-foot-long water slide at Washington Park Pool or Anderson Park Pool. $5 & under
66. On Saturday mornings, join Southport Rigging on the 26-mile Common Grounds Coffee Ride. FREE
67. Enjoy an Alaskan Smoked Salmon Benny – outdoors in the Garden of Eatin’ – at The Coffee Pot. $9.75
68. Take a 2.3 mile walk around Lake Andrea. FREE
69. Over-the-top, loaded, giant Hurricane ice cream shakes can be enjoyed at Sandy’s Popper ($5.99). Also choose from many hand-crafted gourmet popcorn varieties under $4.
70. Have a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board? Experience the Lake Michigan Water Trail or Fox River Water Trail! FREE access
71. Stay cool with peppermint essential oils at House of Nutrition. $8.99+
72. Visit a mini expo! Local attractions and businesses bring giveaways, brochures, and samples to the I-94 Visitor Information Center for First Fridays. FREE
73. Shop for bargains at Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets, especially during the sidewalk sales. Prices vary
74. Among the many car shows taking place this summer is the Kenosha Classic Cruise-In on Sept 1 in Downtown Kenosha. FREE
75. All things cheese will be celebrated during Cheese-A-Palooza, Sept 1-2. FREE

76. Get your 10,000 steps in at Petrifying Springs Park, the oldest park in the Kenosha County park system. FREE
77. Take an inspiring gallery walk! Lemon Street Gallery, Left of the Lake Gallery, ArtWorks, and Re:Vision Gallery make up the Union Park Arts District. FREE
78. Also get your art on at places like Pollard Gallery, Anderson Arts Center, Kenosha Creative Space, and Kenosha Art Association. FREE
79. Travel back 231.4 million years ago at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. You’ll see the largest collection of meat-eating theropods in the U.S. FREE
80. Enjoy locally made, small batch craft beer and fun activities at PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co., R’Noggin Brewing Co., and Rustic Road Brewing Company. Prices vary
81. Find your favorite childhood video game and try it out at Inner Child Comics & Collectibles. Many under $10 / FREE to try
82. Bring a picnic lunch and swing in the flower garden overlooking Lake Michigan at Wolfenbuttel Park. FREE
83. At the Kenosha Public Museum, after you see the excavated-in-Kenosha County mammoths, stop at The Field Station for hands-on activities involving art, animals, and science. FREE
84. When at a Wisconsin supper club such as HobNob, one must enjoy a Brandy Old Fashioned! $7+ 85. For the golden anniversary of the AMX, the Kenosha History Center presents the exhibit AMX: A New and Bold Direction (through Sept). See two one-of-a-kind prototypes! FREE
86. Add to your fun at Bristol Woods Park: rent a GPS unit to locate Geocaches or a family-friendly Explorer Backpack at the on-site Pringle Nature Center. $5
87. Learn about Lake Michigan shipwrecks, as well as Kenosha’s lighthouse keepers, shipping history, and more at the seasonal Southport Light Station Museum. FREE
88. Silver Lake Park is home to 10 miles of year-round mountain bike trails that accommodate all levels of riders, from beginner to professional. FREE
89. Besides Kenosha HarborMarket, enjoy Farmer Markets at Pennoyer Park, Columbus Park, Lincoln Park, and Baker Park various days of the week. FREE admission
90. Treat yourself to a Single Scoop Hot Fudge Sundae at Scoops Ice Cream. $4.65
91. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you take the Metra train from Chicago to Kenosha. $10 Weekend Pass (unlimited rides on Saturday and Sunday)
92. Enjoy great live entertainment, a full bar, beer garden, and outdoor stage at Fusion, a Downtown performing arts venue. Some events FREE
93. Bring your skateboards, scooters, roller blades, or bikes to Anderson Park’s 11,000 square foot concrete skatepark. FREE
94. The whole family can participate in Monday Night Donut Bingo at Mike’s Donuts & Chicken. FREE
95. Hang out at Gateway Classic Cars on the last Saturday of every month for Cars & Coffee, a cruise-in. FREE
96. Take a picture with the Welcome to Wisconsin sign at the I-94 Visitor Information Center. FREE 97. Take a self-guided tour of the Alice Moody Chapin Arboretum and Phil Sanders Audubon Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary at Carthage College. FREE
98. Electric Streetcars are celebrated during Kenosha Streetcar Day on Sept 15. $1 & under fare
99. Pumpkin season begins Sept 22 at Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm. FREE to see the pumpkin displays
100. Mix and match a four-pack of your favorite cupcake flavors at Robin’s Nest Cakery. $8
101. Sure to be a sight to see, the Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers will host a weigh-off at the Sept 22 City of Kenosha Fall Festival. FREE

Monday, July 16, 2018

My Hotel Horror Story

This hotel horror story takes place in Brussels. I am an over-planner. I am always so careful about my choices. I do a lot of research. Which just goes to show that even with the best intentions and plans, things can still go wrong and this one went very wrong.

I am going to leave the hotel unnamed to protect, well it isn't to protect the innocent that's for sure, but let's just say this hotel is a grand dame in Brussels. As we walked into the lobby we had no idea that anything might be wrong. it is absolutely gorgeous, a belle epoch beauty.

As we were checking in I heard the woman who was checking us in ask the other man who was helping us in French "it is a non-smoking room isn't it", he just shrugged and went on with what he was doing. Of course, he had no idea that I am fluent in French.

With our room key in hand, we head toward the elevator. In this part of the lobby there is a beautiful old fashioned brass elevator, no that one was not for us, we headed farther into the hotel with our bellman. We went up several floors and the bellman opened our door. We walked in and gave him his tip. He went off with our two friends to their room. We walked over to look at the bathroom and noticed that the toilet was running. We giggled the handle but it wouldn't stop. We grabbed the bellman from the hall to see if he could help. He couldn't get it to stop either.

He called down to the desk and told them our problem. They told him to take us to another room, which he did. He had a master key so he could get us in. As soon as we entered this room I was hit by the stench of cigarette smoke and also saw the ashtray in the room. Oh no, I said we had a non-smoking room. He called down to the desk, this really annoyed me because they knew we were non-smoking.

Okay, they sent us off to a new room. We walked in and put down our suitcase yikes there was already a suitcase in the room, he had just let us into someone else's room. You guessed it, the bellman called the front desk again and off we went again. This was now room number four.

This room was okay. Not much to look at, the colors were garish and didn't match but the bathroom had been renovated and it was beautiful, it even had a bidet. Okay, we were pretty happy now. Later that evening when I was walking around the room in my stocking feet I found a damp spot on the floor. I figured they must have steam cleaned the carpeting.

We woke up at 7 a.m. to an unusual sound. Tap, tap, tap it took me a while to figure out where it was coming from. There was water dripping from our ceiling onto the floor, right about where I had felt the damp spot earlier. I called the front desk and told them that we had a water problem. About 10 minutes later a knock on our door and the plumber was there. "You have water?” he asked. I just pointed to the ceiling, the look on his face was comical "Oh" was all he said and then he left.

Five minutes later a knock on our door, it was the bellman we had to move to another room. We had to pack with no notice, grab our robes and toiletries and head down the hall. Enter room number five. It had stained drapes and wallpaper and a bathroom light that hummed every time we turned it on but that seemed like a small thing after everything else.

We met our friends and headed down for breakfast. One of our friends almost caused an international incident when he toasted raisin bread. They literally yelled at him, "You can only toast bread" evidently in Brussels raisin bread isn't toasting bread. Then our other friend tried to walk out of the breakfast room with a newspaper. The Maitre’d acted as if we had just stolen the Hope Diamond. Nope, you can't remove the newspaper.

The staff at this hotel had the worst attitude I have ever encountered. No one was ever nice or friendly. It was just awful.

When I got home I contacted the owner and was given a full credit for our stay and even for free this hotel cost too much. They offered me an additional free stay in a suite and I didn't take them up on it, once was quite enough for me. If ever there was a hotel that is surviving on past glories, it is this one.

To find out the name of the hotel, follow the link

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cruise Port Review: Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala

I am not even sure where to begin to describe this cruise port. Let me see!  Ugly. Worthless. Smelly. Forgettable. Worst ever. I am running out of adjectives.  I think you get my message. Actually, I should have gotten the message when I saw the options for excursions and the reviews of said excursions. The private excursions company that my cruise consolidator hooked me up with didn't even offer any. 

When you looked at the port, it is a port, an active port with containers, trucks and stinky fumes. Just what every cruiser is hoping for. 

Now in the distance, you can see some mountains and lots of greenery. But the only thing you can do at this port in the beating sun is to visit a metal building which houses local craftspeople. I am not someone who enjoys haggling and I refuse to be overcharged, a bad combination in this part of the world. 

We opted to stay on board. We did climb to the uppermost level of the ship to get what views were available to us but had we not stopped here, it would have not been any sort of loss in my opinion. 

I am still pretty stunned that they even took us here, Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala has nothing whatsoever to recommend itself to tourists. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Tennessee: Visiting Elvis' Graceland

If you are in the Memphis, Tenn. area, you must take the time to tour the most visited private home in the world. Graceland, on Elvis Presley Blvd. is the home that Elvis Presley purchased in the late 1950's and today it stands as a monument to the man known as "The King". If you plan on visiting Graceland, you need to plan ahead.

It is advisable to purchase your tickets online before you come. You have a choice of how much you want to see on your visit. The basic house tour was $38.75 for adults. You can save if you are a senior or if you have AAA or if you become an Elvis Insider. A variety of other options are also offered depending on how interested you are and how much you want to spend.

A large parking lot is located across the street from the mansion. Parking was $10 per vehicle and $15 for large vehicles. You then walk through the blue canopy into the main building where you pick up your tickets. You will have your purse checked, are handed a self-guided audio tour, have your photo taken and then have to climb onto a bus that will shuttle you across the street to the mansion.

If you are expecting something the size of Tara you will be disappointed. By today's standards, this is hardly big enough to even be called a mansion. It is smaller than most new home construction. You walk in through the front door and enter the foyer. On the stairs leading upstairs, there are three of Elvis' favorite guitars. The tour will not take you upstairs into the bedroom and private areas of the house. In life this was private and they have decided that it should remain so.

The formal living room is on the right and it is the first room you walk into. At the far end, you will see the grand piano. There are pictures on the wall and in many ways, it seems as if family members will be down soon to sit on the 15-foot white sofa. The decor looks as if it is still 1977, and the reality is, time has stood still here since the day Elvis died.

You are guided by your audio tour through the dining room, the pool room, the basement, the kitchen and the jungle room. It isn't a long tour and before you know it you are back outside and standing in the carport where Elvis parked some of his famous vehicles.

The tour continues to the office that his father Vernon kept in the rear of the house on to the trophy room where you will see his many awards, Grammys, platinum records and costumes he wore both during his performances on the stage and in the movies. There is a lot to see in this building and it is very interesting. On display are the clothes that both he and Priscilla wore on their wedding day as well as some of Lisa Marie's baby clothes.

While you are on the grounds you will see Lisa Marie's swing set which looks like any other swing set from the 1970's. It is no more elaborate than what any other little girl would have had in that time period.

The Racquetball court has been converted into a museum housing some of his later costumes and awards.

The last stop is the meditation garden and this is where Elvis is buried with his parents, twin brother and his grandmother. It is a very serene place and no one was talking much. The whole area was surrounded by flowers that are sent almost daily by adoring fans. Elvis has not been forgotten by the hordes who loved him in life.

For anyone who grew up in the era of Elvis, Graceland is a must visit. Even if you are too young to have known him in life, this is the story of a simple and good man from Mississippi who had a big talent. He shared much of what he received and was adored by many. He never forgot where he came from, which was Tupelo, Mississippi. From a poor working class family, Graceland became home to his parents as well as his grandmother.

His plane the Lisa Marie can be visited with a more extensive ticket as can his automobiles. Depending on how much you want to spend, how big a fan you are and how long you have you could really almost spend the day doing just this. Needless to say, there is a gift shop and you can purchase a mug, postcards, tee shirts and lots of other items. Even a cookbook with the all too famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich recipe.

It is expensive to visit Graceland but it is expensive to maintain a collection like this. If you are a fan, don't hesitate. It is not as luxurious as you may expect but it is much homier and you get a to know the real man as well as the rock and roll icon.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The joys of driving to and from Florida

On January 1, for the last three years, we have left home in Connecticut and headed west and then south to end up in Ocala, Fl. Most of our friends don't understand why we do this and even more so that we only drive 250  miles a day. We stop 4 nights on the way down and more on the way back.

Why don't we just drive it in two days or fly? First, there is not a convenient airport to Ocala and second, it would mean buying a car. Plus we are too old to drive it in two days, we would be exhausted and we wouldn't get to see anything.

Instead, we drive to somewhere in Pennsylvania, usually around Hazelton, there is a Fairfield Inn that we like with a Damon's Grill in the parking lot. This way we don't have to worry about where we are going to eat dinner.

Our second night is spent in Virginia, it may be Staunton, it could be Winchester or sometimes Harrisonburg. All of them have a lot to recommend them. We love the Museum of the Shenandoah in Winchester, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton and the prices in Harrisonburg. 

The third night is spent in the area around Lake Norman in either Davidson or Mooresville. Both of them have a lot to recommend them including comfortable accommodations and excellent restaurants. Davidson also has some fun shopping options. 

The fourth night on the road is always in Savannah. We stay in the same Fairfield Inn every time if a room is available again because of the restaurant in the parking lot, a Houlihans. 

On the way back home, I go a different way, we stick to I-95. We drive a little farther the first day to Bluffton, South Carolina. If it is a Sunday, we know where the Catholic Church is and we have stayed at both the Fairfield Inn and the Candlewood Suites. Candlewood Suites has a great restaurant in their parking lot, the Oakatie Ale House. 

The second night is somewhere in the vicinity of Wilson, NC. The determining factor is usually price. One year we chose Smithfield and discovered the Ava Gardiner Museum. 

Our third night in somewhere near Chantilly, Va. We have chosen a variety of destinations, again the price is the determining factor. This year we chose the Hyatt Place. We have stayed at Holiday Inn, Marriott and Fairfield Inn in the past. We spend several days here visiting our friends and also visiting historic houses in the neighborhood. 

This year was an exception, we drove straight up 75 into Georgia and visited the Jimmy Carter Historic Site and Andersonville. We spent the night in Americus at a Best Western Plus hotel.

We spent our second night on the road in Greensboro, NC at a Springhill Suites. Another year we spent several nights in Roanoke, Va so I could visit the sites there. 

We are pretty flexible about where we stay depending on what we plan to do in the area.

Now you have a better idea why I don't particularly find the option of flying to Florida all that appealing, there are so many interesting places to visit along the way. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Massachusetts: A spring visit to Naumkeag in Stockbridge

Stockbridge is located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and is a picture perfect place to enjoy any season of the year. It is no wonder that Joseph Choate, a successful attorney chose it for the location of his summer cottage, Naumkeag. He used the renowned architectural firm of Mckim, Mead & White to design the 44 room home. Naumkeag is the Gilded Age at its finest and yet, is very much a family home.

Joseph and his wife Caroline had the home built in 1887 and both came here for the summer (May-October)  until their deaths.  They actually celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary here which touched me profoundly since I was here celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.

For all their financial and marital success, tragedy seems to have haunted the Choates. Three of their 5 children died young and Mabel who inherited the house, never married or had children. Only youngest son Joseph provided them with grandchildren.

The house is not that easy to find and once you find it, look out for the large rock which is rather a hazard as you turn into the long driveway. Parking is down a serpentine driveway and that walk up is excessively steep. This is not for the faint of heart or weak of knees. A couple of parking spots are located right in front of the house and it may be possible to park here if you are handicapped but certainly, it would be a drop-off point for someone who is mobility challenged.

You purchase your tickets at the gift shop/welcome center. You can also pick up sandwiches or salads or a snack to eat out on the terrace. We did and enjoyed the company of an adorable chipmunk.

We arrived at 1 p.m. we could have taken a garden tour but we opted for the house tour at 1:30, house tours are done on the half hour.

Other buildings design by this firm, Rose Cliff in Newport, New York, and Boston Public Libraries, Hyde Park the Vanderbilt home, Hillstead Museum and Olin Library at Wesylan University in my hometown of Middletown, Conn.

The tour lasts the better part of an hour and you need to be mobile enough to climb the stairs since the tour does go upstairs. 

Be sure to allow time to tour the gardens. They are worth visiting on their own even without the house. I suggest that you also visit the house so that you can learn about the Choates, it makes the house and gardens make sense. 
The Blue Steps are one of the great attractions in the gardens. 

While this is a "cottage" it is more of a mansion but a mansion that you can picture yourself living in. The Choate children spent many enjoyable summers here and the house reflects that. 

The original gardens were created between 1888-1890 to designs from Nathan Barrett. Where the Chinese Garden is now located there were formal perennial beds.  In 1926, Mabel Choate with the help of Fletcher Steele created the Afternoon Garden. Thirty years of garden development followed finishing with the design of the Moon Gate in 1956. 

Naumkeag is protected and managed by The Trustees

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hotel Review: Red Lion Inn Stockbridge, Mass.

 The Red Lion Inn is exactly what you would picture the quintessential New England Inn would look like. Actually, it is picture perfect. A long front porch with rocking chairs for enjoying a cup of coffee, a good book or just people watching. It is no wonder that this is the place I chose to spend our 50th wedding anniversary.

I booked a king room and we were given a beautiful room at the end of a corridor on the third floor with a porch overlooking the pool area. It had flower boxes and chairs to sit and enjoy. Part of the porch also overlooked the street on the side of the inn but in the late afternoon, the traffic was tolerable.

Parking at the Inn is interesting and not necessarily in a good way. You can I suppose if you are really lucky to get one of the spots in front of the Inn. Unfortunately other than that for a first timer, it is challenging to figure out where to park. '

Traffic is heavy, you need to make a decision rather quickly and we ended up driving around the block twice before figuring out that there was a parking lot behind the buildings near where we thought the side entrance to the building was. As it turned out, we did very well, we were parked right next to the pool which is a great area to be in and we could see our car from the porch off our room.

Once you are inside, it is a maze of halls and it is evident that the building has been added on to over the years. It took me no time at all to figure out my way around and by the time we left, I was quite familiar with everything.

Coming in from the rear as we did, it is a long way from the front desk. You will pass a modern elevator and the dining room on your way to the check-in desk. When in doubt, just ask one of the friendly staff members for directions.

We checked in and then were escorted to the birdcage elevator for our trip up to the third floor. This is a charming way to be introduced to the hotel.

The room was lovely, sheer drapes at the corners of the four-poster, a lovely bay window with two chairs for reading, a fireplace and that porch, what more could we have asked for.
Two large bottles of Saratoga water were on the desk along with the place of chocolate covered strawberries that I had ordered. In addition, there was a happy anniversary note and a lovely dishtowel which was a total surprise.

Turndown service stopped by our room before we went down to dinner and dropped off two delicious chocolate mint patties.

On the third floor, we got the modern elevator in the library where there is also a rather antiquated computer. I didn’t mind, I had my laptop with me and Wi-Fi was strong and reliable. I will detail our dinner and breakfast in a food post but I will say, we were not displeased.

The room has its own thermostat so you are in control of the heat. The bed was very comfortable and I had a wonderful night’s sleep. The bathroom was roomy enough and met all of our needs. Plenty of towels and amenities were provided and the shower had excellent strength and plenty of hot water.

I have to admit, I fell in love with the Red Lion Inn. The room rates are not prohibitive and I thought that our package which included the 2 tickets to the botanical gardens was actually a good value. I can’t wait to come here again.