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Travel Today — Anchorage Inn, York, Maine

In early November we spent the weekend in York, Maine at the Anchorage Inn. This is a family-friendly hotel, with ocean views, and it truly offers something for everyone. We loved our stay in the Ocean Suites, but you cannot go wrong with any of the rooms at this hotel!

Here’s a quick guide to a weekend away at the Anchorage Inn:

  • Once you check in grab a coffee right in the lobby!
  • Grab dinner at the hotel’s restaurant — Sun & Surf Restaurant, right on the beach, directly across the street from the hotel — they have a great menu with many seafood options, as well as a beer menu and wine menu. (There’s also have a great kid’s menu with all the favorites). Check the seasonal menu before you head over!
  • Enjoy coffee and Sunday Brunch at the Sun & Surf Restaurant – they have such delicious food and coffee – we tried the egg breakfast and the pancakes – the kid’s pancake was made into an animal shape (I won’t ruin the surprise). The best part about Sun & Surf besides the food and drinks, are the beach views (and the view of the Nubble Lighthouse in the distance). Make sure to check the website (or call) for seasonal hours.
  • Take a walk/drive to the town center which includes an arcade and candlepin bowling, local shops, coffee shops and restaurants. Check for seasonal hours, but there is plenty to do when visiting during the offseason.

Highlights: Three onsite pools and an onsite fitness center, kid-friendly hotel, onsite restaurant, and a poolside café, and beautiful Ocean Suites (private parking and entrance, fitness room, concierge level with continental breakfast and happy hour, and rooms with a fireplace, balcony, and views of the ocean).

I highly recommend staying at the Anchorage Inn when you visiting York, Maine. We plan on going back during the summer, as well. This spot is great for family getaways and family reunions, a romantic weekend, or for a group of friends. It’s the perfect hotel to return to again and again — we are already planning our next getaway!

Travel Today — Kennebunkport, ME

Kennebunkport is one of our favorite spots in New England! We’ve been to KPT many times over the years, but we haven’t been back in a while (too long) — loved thinking back to our previous trips while putting together this travel guide. As with any other New England town it’s great to visit during the warmer months, and in the fall (for the foliage!), but some of the hotels are seasonal (including the Nonantum Resort), and some of the restaurants and shops are seasonal, as well. While there’s always more going on during the peak season, I recommend visiting Kennebunkport whenever you have the chance – during the off-season there are fewer crowds, less expensive room rates, and more parking!

Where to Stay

Nonantum Resort (closed mid-December through mid-April):

  • All hotel guests will receive a free breakfast buffet, but the restaurant is also open to the public. I highly recommend this breakfast buffet whether you’re staying at the Nonantum or another hotel in Kennebunkport — the food is delicious, and you’ll be able to look out at views of the beautiful hotel property!
  • Grab a drink or a meal at Heckman’s Pub (located right off of the lobby). Not only do they have a great cocktail menu, they also have a selection of local beers, as well as an extensive wine list.
  • Grab dinner at 95 Ocean
  • If you are visiting in the Fall you will want to take advantage of Nonantum’s Fall Dining Specials – (Mondays/Tuesdays – 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, 1 dessert – for $33.00), Wine Wednesday (50% off the purchase of a bottle of wine with your meal!), and Thursday Date Night (a meal for 2 for just $65.00).

Highlights: Kid-friendly resort, outdoor heated pool, on-site shop, Adirondack chairs overlooking the water, kid-friendly activities (including s’mores, crafts, and games), walking/quick shuttle ride to restaurants and shops, as well as plenty of on-site dining options.

Other options: The Boathouse, The Grand Hotel, The Kennebunkport Inn

Favorite Spots

Kittery Outlets – great shops just under 40 minutes from Kennebunkport. If you’re driving up from Boston it’s a good place to stop along the way.

Dock Square Coffee House is our go-to coffee shop in Kennebunkport – located right in Dock Square!

Alisson’s Restaurant was a recommendation from a friend years ago, and we’ve been eating lunch and dinner there ever since. Their menu has a lot of great options, and it’s one spot where we get our lobster rolls when we visit KPT. Also – it’s been in business for 40 years!

H.B. Provisions is a charming general store, located just across the street from The Grand Hotel – it’s a bit of a walk from some of the other hotels in KPT. You can start with a cup of coffee/tea and breakfast (I recommend the pancakes, but everything was so good), and then you can get snacks, a bottle of wine, and takeout to bring back to your hotel or A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌.

Walk up and down Ocean Ave. for local shops, art galleries, and restaurants. You can also hop in the car and take a drive up Ocean Ave. to see the beautiful homes and water views!

Other area attractions: Seashore Trolley Museum, Goose Rocks Beach

Restaurants to try: Salt & Honey, The Clam Shack (closed for the season), Mabel’s Lobster Claw, Earth at Hidden Pond, Rococo Artisan Ice Cream

Kennebunkport, Maine is 40 minutes from Portland, 30 minutes from York, 1.5 hours from Boston, and 5.5 hours from NYC. There are so many places to visit in Kennebunkport, but I just wanted to share some of our go-to spots with you. I would love to hear about some of your favorite spots in KPT!

 

Travel Today — St. Pete Beach, FL

Many of you know that St. Pete Beach, right along the Gulf of Mexico, is one of our favorite places to visit – we’ve been there so many times that it feels like a second home. It actually felt like a second home as soon as we arrived during our first visit. I would recommend flying into Tampa and renting a car, or getting a shuttle/car service to take you to Gulf Blvd. SPB is great for family vacations, family reunions, weddings, romantic getaways, and for getaways with friends. One of the best parts of any trip to SPB is watching the sunrise and sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Everything seems to stop when the sun sets — people will even get up from their dinner table to take it all in.

There are so many wonderful hotels and places to visit in this area, but here are some of my favorites:

Where to Stay

The Don CeSar

  • Breakfast at the St. Porch Café (I highly recommend the biscuits and the pancakes – the coffee is great too).
  • Lunch at the Beachcomber Bar & Grill (check their live music calendar!)
  • Small plates at Rowe Bar (I recommend the Caprese Salad and one of the flatbreads)
  • Dinner at Maritana Grille
  • Drinks at the lobby bar (the lobby is one of our favorite areas of The Don)
  • Ice cream at Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor

Highlights: Family-friend, pet-friendly, two outdoor pools, hotel shops (clothing, home decor, etc.), full service spa, fitness center, Camp CeSar — kid’s camp (we haven’t used it, but families seems to love this amenity), multiple dining options, self-parking, etc.

 TradeWinds Island Grand Resort

  • Grab a coffee or tea at Awakening’s, and a breakfast sandwich from The Deli both are located right downstairs in the hotel lobby.
  • Breakfast at Bermuda’s (there is something for everyone on their breakfast menu, including a buffet.)
  • Lunch at The Flying Bridge or Salty’s Tiki Bar (both have great burgers)
  • Lunch or dinner at Palm Court Italian Grill
  • Dinner at Rumfish Grill (located at the RumFish Beach Resort — walk or drive right over — it’s part of the TradeWinds property) – this restaurant has a 33,500 gallon aquarium! (I loved the Shrimp & Grits!)
  • Dinner at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
  • For a quick on-the-go lunch or snack head over to Pizza Hut Express or the Ice Cream Shoppe.

Highlights: Family-friendly, pet-friendly, multiple swimming pools across both properties, paddle boats (much more challenging than they appear!), fitness center, self-parking, shops with toiletries/clothing/beach essentials, mini golf, etc. 

Grand Plaza Beachfront

  • Breakfast at The Palm Room
  • Lunch or dinner at Bongo’s Bar & Grille (one of the first places we tried in SPB, and we try to go back when we are in the area) — great spot to grab a drink, while listening to live acoustic music, with your feet in the sand!

Highlights: pool (and use of the pools at the Beachcomber Resort), fitness center, small shop, etc. 

Other options: Hotel Zamora, The Postcard Inn, Alden Suites

Favorite Spots in St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille, and the surrounding areas:

Sandbar Bills (at the Bon-Aire Resort) for cheeseburgers — this was recommended by a local and the burger and views didn’t disappoint!)

Merry Pier if you enjoy fishing!

Galene’s Paradise for gifts, home decor, toys, and jewelry.

Sea Horse Restaurant always has a wait for breakfast so make sure to get there early! You can shop at Galene’s and walk up and down 8th Avenue while you wait (or you can take in the water views),

John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk has so many shops and restaurant options — it’s a great way to spend a few hours, and it’s just about 10 minutes from Gulf Blvd.

Corey Avenue Sunday Market runs from October to May — check the website and Instagram for special events!

Café Soleil is a great place to grab a cup of coffee or tea before heading out to 8th Avenue in Pass-a-Grill!

Grace Restaurant for dinner, drinks, and an amazing wine list (make sure to check for their weekly menu additions — you can look on their website or Instagram page).

Snapper’s Sea Grill is a great spot for dinner (the salad dressing is unique and delicious!)

Castile Restaurant   for tapas and drinks — located at The Hotel Zamora

Other area attractions: Tropicana Field for a baseball game or Amalie Arena for a hockey game, The Florida Aquarium(Tampa), shopping and dining in Sarasota (just under an hour away), The Dalí Museum  (located in downtown St. Petersburg), the St. Pete Pier,in St. Petersburg, is currently under construction, but check their site for updates.

 

St. Pete Beach, Florida is just about 20 minutes from downtown St. Petersburg, just about 35 minutes from Tampa and Clearwater, and close to 90 minutes to Orlando.  St. Petersburg has many shops and restaurants to explore, but we haven’t spent a lot of time in this area. If you are wondering where to go on your next vacation I highly recommend this area of Florida — there is truly something for everyone here. What are some of your favorite spots in St. Pete Beach?

Travel Today — Burlington, VT

We have family in Vermont so we’ve spent quite a bit of time in Burlington, as well as in the surrounding towns. This Travel Guide won’t focus on beer or winter sports — so keep that in mind when diving in. We’ve gone during the holidays when it is cold and snowy — it is a cozy time if you like to stay indoors, but it’s even better for those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding! Burlington is perfect for family getaways, a weekend away with friends and family, or for a romantic getaway. I love that you can visit Vermont in all seasons (and we have), and there is plenty to do both indoors and outdoors!

Where to Stay

Courtyard Burlington Harbor

  • Coffee and tea right in the lobby every morning (along with local newspapers), and plenty of places to sit and relax!
  • Grab breakfast at Bleu (delicious), and then head back over there for dinner and drinks in the evening.

Highlights: Kid-friendly, onsite gym and indoor pool, a small market with all the essentials, walking distance to restaurants, shops, and Church St., etc.

Other options: Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown (we also loved his hotel — it has many of the same amenities, and a great breakfast buffet — as part of the buffet you get freshly made omelettes and pancakes!), Hotel Vermont (located right next to the Courtyard.)

Favorite Spots

Bleu Northeast Seafood is located within the Courtyard Burlington Harbor — we ended up getting breakfast here all three days during our most recent trip to VT.  The restaurant does not have a kids’ menu, but they are kid-friendly, and we were able to create our own meal from the sides menu! By the third day the chef remembered us, and prepared it just right. Bleu VT had the most delicious pancakes with Vermont Maple Syrup — I would suggest stopping in even if you choose a different hotel!

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a great place for children of all ages to learn about animals, science, marine life, history, and nature, and also has a spot to take in the beautiful views of Lake Champlain. Keep in mind the gift shop is right by the front door — they have so many great gifts and souvenirs! We will definitely be back!

Crow Bookshop located right on Church St. is one of our go-to stops when we are in Burlington — it’s a good mix of new and used books, and they have a selection of books from local authors. This trip we also discovered Phoenix Books (Essex location) — we loved this store, and we will definitely be returning. They were closing up when we arrived, and they still gave us time to browse and purchase books!

Church Street Marketplace is a must-visit while in Burlington — local shops, restaurants, bookstores (including the UVM Bookstore), plenty of food carts, and Uncommon Grounds (stop in for a coffee or tea and walk up and down Church St.).

Lake Champlain Chocolates is the flagship store in Burlington — you can watch chocolate being made, sample the flavor of the day, and buy some of your favorite Lake Champlain sweets.

Mimmo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant is right in Essex, Vermont — if you’re looking for a good Italian meal with huge portions this is a great spot. They have a decent wine list, and the restaurant is a family-friendly option (it’s right across the parking lot from Phoenix Books!)

Other area attractions: Ben & Jerry’s (Waterbury), Shelburne Farm (Shelburne), Burlington Farmers Market

Restaurants to try: Farmhouse Tap & Grill (great date night spot, or a night out with friends/family– they make their own condiments!), Hen of the Wood , Honey Road (we didn’t eat here, but it was packed every single time we went by!), Windjammer  (one of our go-to restaurants — this is a good spot for larger groups, and people who like more basic options – including steak — and a great wine list. They have an upstairs area with a bar menu), Grazers Burgers (located in Williston), Vermont Tap House (located in Williston — go for the beer list and the warm pretzels!)

Burlington, Vermont is just over 3 hours away from Boston, 5.5 hours from New York City, and just over 2 hours from Montreal. There are so many places to visit in Burlington, but I wanted to share some of our go-to spots with all of you! Where are some of your favorite spots in Burlington?

Morning Commute

During my morning commute I saw a bumper sticker that said “What You Do Matters”. It resonated with me for a variety of reasons, and it was a good reminder as I work towards my personal and professional goals. As I think about why I started Travel and Write Today, and the direction it is taking, I start to question why I started it in the first place, and if I want to continue with it.  What is the purpose? What is the goal? I am still not quite sure where this will lead, but one thing that I do know is that what I do matters – what we all do matters. Whether your inspiring hundreds or just a few, whether your teaching others, providing travel options, or offering words of wisdom and beautiful photographs – it all matters. Keep doing what you’re doing.

The year ahead…

In thinking about the New Year ahead I am starting to focus on the content for this blog, and on my various writing projects – both fiction and nonfiction.  I am always continuing to work on my Instagram and Twitter content, but I plan to write more often on this page, as well. I want this blog to be a few different things – a space to write about my journey – as a writer, traveler, and just as a human being, and a place to share our favorite travel spots – where to go for the best coffee and made-to-order donuts, which restaurants are the best for kids or date nights, and which hotels are the best for families or romantic getaways. I think this blog can be all of this, and that is my goal over the next year. I would love for you all to learn a little more about me through my writing, and through our travels. Please continue to follow along as I work to make this blog into what I’d like it to be.

Change Can Be a Good Thing…

Along with wanting to be a writer, I had always wanted to be a teacher. I could visualize myself standing in front of the classroom, and I dreamed of one day having my name on the students’ schedules that they received over the summer.  I worked hard to achieve that goal, and taught for years, but it never felt right. It is difficult to be on a path, and then make a drastic change mid-course. What will people say? How will I explain? Sometimes we need to do what feels right regardless of the comments, judgments, and criticisms of others. Sometimes we are led down a path because it will bring us elsewhere.  What we thought was the destination is merely a pit-stop. Life takes us down different paths for a reason. I’ve always wanted to work in a profession/field where I believed my skills were being utilized, where I felt passionate about the mission and values of the organization, where I felt fulfilled, and most importantly, where I felt like I was respected and making a difference.  Work is such a large part of our lives – it should not just be a place where you do not dread coming in, but where you feel rewarded, respected, and valued – where you actually enjoy being there. My goal has been to maybe not love work (all the time), but to really, really like it. To feel like I am doing great work, while taking the time to pursue my passions through side projects.  Since I left teaching, years ago, I’ve made many changes in my professional life – I’ve taken many leaps of faith, trusted my instincts, and went into uncharted waters.  I felt calm each time I made a decision, which I believe means I made the right choices at the time.  I walked away from something I worked hard to attain, and decided to start again.

The same goes for starting Travel and Write Today — I don’t know where this path will lead, but it felt like the right decision to get started.

Goals

In thinking about goals and dreams, I start to think about my reasons for starting my Instagram page and this blog.  What am I hoping for…? I have many reasons for starting, but often get overwhelmed with how long it can take to reach a goal. I am not even sure where this will lead, and I am not even sure it matters – what truly matters is that I am doing something every day that brings me closer to my goals, focusing on one step at a time. There are many different paths I can see this taking, but for me in this moment, it is about sharing my experiences, recommendations, a few inspiring words, and photographs from places near and far. What’s important is that I am sharing the message that you need to stop putting things off, and you need to start doing the things you want to do today.  Maybe that’s more important than the outcome, maybe this should be the goal.

Finding Time

It’s important to me to do something I love every single day — whether it’s as simple as researching new spots in New England, reading a few chapters (or even pages) of a book, time with close friends, watching a few minutes of a favorite show, or writing my next blog post.  There are things that I easily find time for — morning coffee, family time, work related to my day job, thinking about our next getaway, finding beauty in my own backyard, and my Instagram page. The question is: How do you find time to fit in your passions and your hobbies? Do you wake up early before the sun rises? Do you stay up late into the night? I always want to make sure that I am listening to my own words about doing something today.

I like to get up early in the morning — hours before I need to be anywhere.  I will have a cup of coffee with a book or journal — I’ll also have my computer, to research and plan, and my blog page is always open and ready for the next post. This is when I spend the most time writing. I feel like my head is clear and the words flow; it’s before I need to look at the to-do list. I’m making the effort to write every single day — whenever I find the time, even if it is during my lunch break or just before going to bed. Like I’ve said in my previous post, if you want to be a writer you write.  You make the time.  The things that I am most passionate about, are also tied to my own personal and professional goals. I know that I need to always make the time to do the things I love — it’s that important.

When do you find the time to do the things you love today, whatever your something is…(doesn’t have to be traveling or writing)?

 

 

Planning Your Next Getaway

How do you decide where to go on your next vacation? What are the questions you ask and check-boxes you mark off while making your decision?

  • Does the hotel/city need to be family-friendly?
  • Are you looking for a romantic getaway?
  • Do you want to return to a favorite spot or would you prefer to explore a new destination?
  • Do you want to travel by car, plane, train, etc.?
  • Are you deciding based on activities/events or around restaurants and shopping? Or both?
  • Are you looking for a budget-friendly trip or an extravagant getaway?
  • Are you going with friends or family?
  • Are you scheduling your vacation around certain hotels or beaches?

One of the biggest factors for me when deciding where to go is if I want to return to a place I love, or explore a new town or city. There is something to be said about returning to a familiar location — you know your favorite coffee shops, the closest bookstores, and the best beaches, you know the restaurants serving the best brunch in town, and the ones that are delicious, but fly under the radar. There is a sense of home, peace, and comfort when you arrive, and you feel like you and this place are old friends.

There is also something exciting about driving into a new town, landing at an airport, or pulling into a train station in a place you’ve never been. You’re about to find your favorite spots, as you pore over travel books, and read and re-read restaurant reviews.  You’re about to become acquainted with new baristas and bartenders, and you’re steps away from falling in love with sunrises while visiting new beaches and parks. There are shops you haven’t stepped into yet, and restaurants cooking your soon-to-be favorite dinner and pouring a glass of red. Everything is new and exciting, and will eventually become old and familiar, and possibly another go-to spot when you’re planning your next vacation.

We like to alternate between visiting favorite spots, and going somewhere new, but eventually you find so many you love that it makes it hard to decide. Visiting new towns in the same state helps to bring something new and exciting to the comfortable and familiar — this can help make deciding a little easier. How do you decide between a place you love, and someplace you’ve never been?