Karen Dawkins

Family Travels on a Budget

I turned in my legal briefcase for a suitcase and haven't looked back! Through travel I learned that joy isn't in the destination, it's in the relationships.
The Outback: 180 miles of interesting
March 15, 2015
The Outback: any remote or sparsely populated region (not just in Australia). Most people think Australia when they hear the word... but you don't have to travel that far to see spectacular scenery, unusual creatures or expansive marshland. Tucked away in Southwest Louisiana, the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road offers 180 miles of quiet, natural beauty sure to capture the imagination of visitors young and old. You might not see kangaroos, wallabies and koalas here, but we think you'll love it just the same.
Mardi Gras: 5 lessons we all can learn
February 23, 2015
What's your first thought when you hear the words Mardi Gras? Do you think Bourbon Street? While that craziness might be what makes the national headlines each year, thatís not the whole story. I just got home from celebrating Mardi Gras in Louisiana, and the experience shattered my stereotypes! In fact, I think if we all adopted a little Mardi Gras culture, the world would be a far friendlier place! In no particular order, here are five lessons we all can learn from Mardi Gras.
Louisiana: More than beads and beignets
August 14, 2014
First, my deepest apologies to the State of Louisiana! I confess I never visited before, because... well, I stereotyped! I took New Orleans, with the French Quarter and bawdy Mardi Gras celebrations, and kind of (well, totally) ascribed it to the whole state. I realize now that I was wrong. And I've been missing out for years!
Main Street Days in Grapevine
April 22, 2014
Grapevine, Texas, a quintessential American town near Dallas, is kicking off summer with the 30th Annual Main Street Days from May 16-18 in the historic downtown area. The festival includes family friendly activities like the Grillin' Competition at the Town Square Gazebo, live music on stages throughout the venue, a Carnival Midway and shopping on Main Street.
Groundhog Day
January 26, 2014
Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is a BIG DEAL! According to tradition, the groundhog emerges from his burrow early in the morning of February 2nd to prognosticate about the end of winter. If he sees his shadow, he scurries back to his hole to hibernate for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, that means winter ends soon!
Christmas in Grapevine, Texas
December 9, 2013
Everything's bigger in Texas, including ice storms and Christmas celebrations! I had the opportunity to visit Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas, to see first-hand how they celebrate Christmas Texas-style. As an added bonus, I survived "Ice-maggedon" too! As of this writing, the greater Dallas area is still recovering from the ice storm... but Texans are hardy people. While last week's celebrations deferred headlines about Christmas to the weather, it's now time to CELEBRATE, Texas style!
3 Reasons to Visit Charlottesville
December 6, 2013
Virginia is home to many great vacation destinations from Williamsburg to Washington, from Virginia Beach to Shenandoah National Park. One of her greatest gems is Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beloved home of Thomas Jefferson. I've lived only three hours from Charlottesville for the past twelve years, but just made my first trip to this charming town. I definitely plan to return!
8 Minutes in Charlottesville
December 3, 2013
Eight minutes! Yep, 8 Minutes in Charlottesville is all you need to explore this fabulous college town rich with history, arts, entertainment and food. More on Charlottesville's award winning foodie traditions in a later post... for now, learn why all you need is 8 minutes in Charlottesville!
Haunted Tale: Woodstock Opera House
October 7, 2013
The Woodstock Opera House, built in 1889, originally housed the library, city council, court, and fire department for the city of Woodstock, Illinois. The Opera House sat above on the second floor. The Opera House was the hub of entertainment for McHenry County and the surrounding area. Besides traveling theater groups, it housed the local farmersí market and wrestling tournaments.
Volcano Falls Review
September 18, 2013
Adventure parks, the modern day arcade, offer video games, go-karts, miniature golf and lots of noise, chaos and cheap food. After all, they're geared for kids and teens. Generally, I try to avoid fun parks. They're so dirty and the food is not quite up to my foodie standards. But then, I visited Volcano Falls in Rockford, Illinois. I discovered that not all fun parks are created equal.
What's the Best Japanese Garden in the U.S.?
September 12, 2013
What's the most beautiful Japanese garden outside of Japan? Would you, like me, think that maybe thereís a gorgeous Japanese garden in Central Park? After all, they have a zoo! Or maybe in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco? It turns out that Central Park does not have a Japanese garden at all. And the Golden Gate Park is home to the oldest Japanese tea garden in the United States, but it is not considered the most beautiful. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful... it's just not the MOST beautiful. Stumped? The most beautiful Japanese garden outside of Japan is Anderson Gardens located in the unassuming city of Rockford in northern Illinois.
Hands-on at Discovery Center Museum
September 9, 2013
On a recent trip to Rockford, Illinois, the kind folks at the Discovery Center Museum provided me a fabulous tour of their TOP 10 children's museum. Unfortunately, the kids weren't with me. They would really have enjoyed it. But... since the kids weren't there, I got a chance to play!
Agritourism at Richardson Farm
August 28, 2013
Agritourism, a term coined in the late 1970s, involves agriculturally-based activities that bring visitors to a farm. It encompasses everything from roadside stands and pick-your-own farms to wine tasting, cheesemaking demonstrations, honey tasting, horseback riding and corn mazes. Agritourism connects the public to the rich heritage of America's Heartland.
Karen Dawkins
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