Donut Tour of Portland Oregon

When visiting a new city I like to take at least one tour while I’m there as you can learn about different things to see and do while on tours that you wouldn’t normally think about. Prior to visiting Portland Oregon this fall, I took a look at the tours that were offered and came across the Underground Donut Tour. Who doesn’t love donuts and in my mind when I thought of Portland, Voodoo Donuts was the first thing that came to my mind, so it sounded like the perfect tour for me!

Underground Donut Tour started over 6 years ago by a donut lover in Chicago. They have tours in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Nashville, Seattle and Portland. Each tour lasts approximately 2 hours long and visits 4 donut shops where you get to sample multiple different types of donuts at each location. On the Portland tour we sampled 15 different donuts, so you definitely will not finish the tour hungry, in fact you might leave with some take home samples you were too full to eat while on the tour, great for a snack later or breakfast the next morning.

Here is my experience on the tour and all the great things you can see in Portland along the way.

Donut Stop One – Sesame Donuts: Located at 1503 SW Park Avenue in downtown Portland, Sesame Donuts. was our meeting spot and first donut shop of the tour. This downtown location is one of a dozen Sesame Donut locations in the metro Portland area. The small local chain is family owned and started when the family moved to Portland from Los Angeles and bought a Dunkin Donuts shop outside of Portland in Raleigh Hills in 1987. Twelve year later, the former Dunkin Donuts became the independent Sesame Donuts. You might ask where the name came from, well it’s from their specialty donut, you guessed it, a sesame donut!

As someone who loves sesame bagels, I was quite intrigued to try the sesame Donut and it did not disappoint, it was different yet delicious, if I lived in the Portland area, I’m pretty sure this would be my go to donut! In addition to the sesame donut, we tried four other types of donuts at Sesame Donuts: apple cider, devil’s glaze, raspberry cream cheese and rose infused. All of them were delicious, although I definitely prefer my apple cider donuts warm and purchased at a farm, that’s just the New England girl in me.

The rose infused donut was pretty different and a must try in Portland which is known as the Rose City! Portland’s cool and damp climate is perfect for roses, so there is an abundance of roses growing in the area. This led to the Episcopal Church referring to Portland as the “City of Roses” when they held a convention there in 1888. The name seemed to stick and there are many activities revolving around roses in Portland including the Portland Rose Festival which kicks off summer at the end of May thru mid-June. Another popular attraction is the International Rose Test Garden where they experiment and grow different types of roses. This is definitely an interesting and beautiful place to visit in Portland.

SW Park Ave Portland Oregon

Sesame Donuts is located near the Portland State University (PSU) campus on SW Park Avenue. There is a beautiful park along SW Park Avenue that is a great spot to walk all year long but especially in the fall. Also nearby is the Portland Art Museum which is definitely worth a visit.

Portland Art Museum

Donut Stop Two – Coco Donuts: The longest walk of the tour was between stops one and two, a great way to work off the 5 samples we had at stop one and work up an appetite for the rest of the tour! When I was on the tour, it was pouring rain, so just a heads up, the tour does run rain or shine, come prepared with rain gear and definitely good shoes to keep your feet dry. One of the great things about the tour is that not only were donut samples included, but if you wanted a coffee, soda, juice or water, they will pay for that as well. A hot coffee was just what I wanted with my donuts on a rainy day.

Coco Donuts Uptown

Coco Donuts is another small local donut chain in the Portland area. On the tour we visited the Uptown location. Coco Donuts has been in business for over 11 years selling their 30 year old family recipe donuts. In 2013, they started roasting their own coffee and to this day, they are the only donut shop in Oregon that makes their own coffee and donuts.

We tried 4 different donuts at Coco Donuts: pumpkin spice, glazed old fashioned, strawberry mochi and lavender. They were all delicious, I was the most surprised with the lavender donut. I’m not much of a lavender fan, but the lavender flavor of this donut was not overpowering at all.

The Uptown neighborhood of Portland features Providence Park which is home to the Major League Soccer team Portland Timbers. There are also many good restaurants and breweries in the area, including Migration Brewing’s new rooftop tap house which features beautiful views of the city and nearby mountains.

Donut Stop Three – Nola Doughnuts: What do you get when a landscape architect, nurse and entrepreneur come together? Well in my opinion you get the best donut shop in the city of Portland, Nola Doughnuts. In a story of making lemons out of lemonade, in 2012 after some deaths in the family, former siblings from New Orleans were reunited in Portland and decided to open a donut shop that would remind them of their childhood in New Orleans. They currently have two shops open, one in the famous Pearl District of Portland and one about 20 minutes south of the city in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Nola Doughnuts

They offer classic brioche doughnuts, mini beignets (can’t have a New Orleans donut shop without beignets!) and signature la’ssants. We had three samples at this stop: lemon poppyseed donut, beignets with peach and cinnamon, and a glazed cream filled la’ssant. Their beignets are made to order and the peach and cinnamon combination was more delicious than it sounds. But the star of the show at this shop was the la’saant. A la’ssant is square doughnut and is similar to a cronut, the dough is handcrafted over three days, which is what makes it so worth it. It’s definitely something you can’t get anywhere else and worth the visit.

La’ssant at Nola Doughnuts

The Pearl District is one of the most up and coming neighborhoods of Portland. Located downtown it features many abandoned warehouses that have been transformed into restaurants, bars and shops. It’s a great neighborhood to spend some time in. Make sure to check out Deschutes Brewery and Public House. It’s a great place for lunch or dinner and to try some beer from this Central Oregon brewery.

One of the top things to visit in the Pearl District is Powell’s City of Books. It’s the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. With so many bookstores, both independent and chain, closing or struggling to survive in the age of reading on kindles and ipads, it’s great to see a successful bookstore still in business. Powell’s City of Books includes over 68,000 square feet and the building occupies an entire city block. There are 3,500 sections located in the store making it a great place to spend an hour or two on a rainy day.

Powell’s City of Books

Donut Stop Four – Voodoo Doughnut: The final stop on the tour was the most well known of donut shops in Portland, Voodoo Doughnut. The shop was opened in 2003 in the Old Town neighborhood of Portland by two friends. They sell both classic and unconventional doughnuts. The doughnuts come in some of the most interesting flavors and our sold in the famous pink box. It’s didn’t take long for Voodoo Doughnuts to become famous, they have been featured on many TV shows such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and even The Amazing Race. They have grown from that one shop in Old Town to nine locations in five states. More times than not, lines are out the door and around the block and people have even shown their love for Voodoo Doughnuts by getting married in the shop.

Voodoo Doughnut

The great thing about the Donut Tour, was being able to skip the line! We tried three different doughnuts at Voodoo: Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate frosted doughnut topped with oreos and peanut butter), Oh Captain My Captain (vanilla frosted doughnut topped with Cap’n Crunch cereal) and Bacon Maple Bar (maple frosted bar topped with bacon). As you can see, the donuts aren’t your typical flavors and they have some fun names as well.

Located in Old Town are some of the popular instagram locations in Portland. Directly across the street is the “Keep Portland Weird” sign and just a few blocks away is the Portland White Stag Sign. Definitely worth the photo op after enjoying your donuts.

Keep Portland Weird Sign
White Stag Sign

I highly recommend taking the tour on a Saturday morning if possible, just a few blocks from the final stop on the tour, Voodoo Doughnut, is the location of the Portland Saturday Market. Located in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, this arts and crafts market is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States. It opens in the spring and is held every Saturday til mid December. Even on a very rainy day, which isn’t uncommon in Portland, there were quite a few people at the market. I loved strolling thru and seeing what the local vendors were selling.

Portland Saturday Market

If the weather is nice, I definitely recommend taking a walk along the waterfront. It’s definitely a beautiful area, especially in the fall.

Portland Waterfront

If you are visiting Portland Oregon, I highly recommend the Underground Donut Tour. It’s a great way to try some donuts and also get a good overview of the different neighborhoods of the city. And the tour guides were very knowledgeable about donuts and the city of Portland and also made the tour a lot of fun.

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Chasing Waterfalls and Fall Foliage Along the Historic Columbia River Highway

When you think of great places to see the fall foliage in the United States, the New England states are probably the first places that come to most people’s minds. As someone who grew up and currently lives in New England, I definitely agree with this, but traveling has shown me there are so many other parts of the United States that are just as beautiful, if not even more beautiful during the fall. One of these places is the state of Oregon.

From the moment I got off the plane in Portland Oregon, I was so impressed with the vibrance of the fall colors. I just knew that when I ventured outside of the city of Portland, it would be even more beautiful and I was definitely right!

Fall view along the Historic Columbia River Highway

Less than a half hour from Downtown Portland, is the beginning of the Historic Columbia River Highway in Troutdale. The Historic Columbia River Highway travels 75 miles east thru the Columbia River Gorge to The Dalles. As a National Historic Landmark, the Historic Columbia River Highway was the first scenic highway planned in the United States and was constructed between 1913-1922. Driving along a section of this highway, I can confirm that it certainly is scenic. The fall foliage along this historic highway is absolutely stunning!

Historic Columbia River Highway

While a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway during the fall months is magical in itself, on the western end of the highway there is a 13 mile stretch referred to as “waterfall alley” and it really is the star of the show on this historic highway.

Latourell Falls

The best part of visiting “waterfall alley” is that many of the waterfalls are very easily accessible from the highway which makes them perfect for all ages and abilities to be able to enjoy. For those wanting more than just stopping and seeing a waterfall, there are hikes near the waterfalls for closer and different views of them.

Latourell Falls: Heading east from Portland, the first waterfall that you will come to is the 224 foot Latourell Falls. There are plenty of viewing options for Latourell Falls. If you aren’t much of a hiker or with young kids or older family members, there are great views right by the parking lot, as pictured above.

If you are looking for a hike, from the Latourell Falls Trailhead you can take the Latourell Falls Loop Hike. This 2 mile hike will take you to the upper falls and the lower portion as well. If you aren’t up for the entire loop, you could always do an out and back of the lower or upper portion. The lower portion wasn’t as steep as the upper portion if you are looking for something a little less strenuous, but the entire loop really isn’t difficult as you will only gain about 700 feet and this is mostly at the very beginning of the upper portion of the trail.

Shepperd’s Dell Falls: Next up is the often overlooked, Shepperd’s Dell Falls. This series of falls is 220 feet high with the lower accessible portion being 82 feet high. There is a very short .2 mile round trip trail to the falls from the parking lot.

The falls cascade thru a creek under the bridge to the other side of the road. While not as popular, it’s a pretty quick stop that is worth it in my opinion.

Shepperd’s Dell Falls

Bridal Veil Falls: I feel like there are a million waterfalls named, Bridal Veil Falls! Oregon’s Bridal Veil Falls are just as beautiful as it’s name sake in other states.

There are two trails located at the falls. The first is a .3 mile trail down to the falls. This mostly paved trail passes over a bridge to a viewing platform at the base of the falls.

There is also a half mile interpretive trail loop with many views of the river as well as signs that will teach you more about the history of the area. The views are absolutely stunning from the lookouts, even on a cloudy and rainy day. There are also picnic areas located along the interpretive trail, making for a great stop for lunch if the weather is nice.

Bridal Veil Falls

Wahkeena Falls: The next waterfall, Wahkeena Falls, has a rather small parking area, I had to drive by a couple of times before I found a parking spot. There is a trail from the next waterfall, Multnomah Falls, but it was closed for repairs when I was there. In fact the short trail to the viewing platform for Wahkeena Falls seemed to be closed as well. So I got just a little peak of the falls, guess I’ll have to go back to see it up close.

Multnomah Falls: The star of the show in “waterfall alley” has got to be Multnomah Falls. This famous waterfall is the most visited natural attraction in the Pacific Northwest and at 620 feet tall, it’s the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. This two tiered waterfall has a viewing platform at the bottom as well as viewing from the Benson Bridge in between the Upper and Lower Falls. Also located here is The Multnomah Falls Lodge which includes a visitors center, gift shop, snack bar and restaurant.

Multnomah Falls

Due to the popularity of these falls, you must pack your patience, it’s not unusual for there to be a backup of cars on the road waiting to get into the parking lot. Even late afternoon on a rainy late October day I waited a good half hour to get in the parking lot. During the summer months in 2021, they instituted a timed reservation system to visit these falls. Another option during the summer and on weekends in the fall is to take the waterfall trolley (more on that later) which includes access to Multnomah Falls without the timed reservation ticket.

The Multnomah Falls Trail is 2.4 miles roundtrip and will take you to the Benson Bridge in between the Upper and Lower falls and then to the viewing platform at the top of the upper falls. The portion of the trail past Benson Bridge to the top was closed for repairs when I was there in late October so check the website before you go for any closures. To the Benson Bridge it’s just a half mile roundtrip and the views are stunning from there.

Multnomah Falls from Benson Bridge

Oneonta Gorge and Tunnel: My next stop was to Oneonta Gorge. Here you can hike to see a few waterfalls located in this slot canyon. Sadly the trail to these waterfalls was also closed.

All of the trail closures are due to repairs needed due to the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017. The fire was started by a teenage boy who set off fireworks during a fire ban. Please respect the beautiful world we live in and heed all rules when it comes to fires and fireworks. We all saw how awful wildfires could get this summer from natural causes out of our control like lightning, we do not need to add to this by causing wildfires due to irresponsible campfires or fireworks.

Even without being able to see the waterfalls, Oneonta Gorge is definitely worth a stop, the area is beautiful and you can walk thru the Oneonta Tunnel, which was also ruined in the Eagle Creek Fire but recently reopened in spring of 2021.

Horsetail Falls: The final waterfall that you must see is the 176 foot Horsetail Falls. When the trail is open, you can actually hike to Horsetail Falls from Oneonta Gorge.

Horsetail Falls

The great thing about Horsetail Falls is they are right next to the highway. After a long day of driving and hiking in the rain, it was nice to just stop and enjoy the waterfall. if you are interested in a hike, the Horsetail Falls Loop is 2.3 miles roundtrip and will take you to another waterfall, Ponytail Falls. Ponytail falls are a great waterfall to check out as you can walk behind these falls, which is always a fun experience.

Horsetail Falls

Waterfall Trolley: As I mentioned above, parking and traffic can get bad, so during busy times like the summer, it may be best to take the Waterfall Trolley. The trolley is hop-on, hop-off and stops at the majority of the waterfalls. The parking is at the west part of the highway in Corbett. In 2021, the trolley ran Thursdays – Mondays during the summer and Saturdays and Sundays thru mid October. Check out the website for the full schedule and updated dates in future years.

Oregon leaves are huge!

One last side note, the one thing different from New England foliage and Oregon foliage has got to be the size of the leaves. I couldn’t get over how big they were, they were pretty much bigger than my head! I saw many people taking pictures holding the leaves in front of their face to show how large they are. Definitely don’t see leaves that size up in Vermont or New Hampshire!

If the Historic Columbia River Highway is on your bucket list, I highly recommend visiting in the fall. While beautiful all year long, in fall it truly shines!

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Ghost Tour at Virginia City’s Washoe Club

The great thing about traveling is it opens your eyes to the fact that there is history all over this world and with history comes the paranormal! History and ghost stories become intertwined telling the story of a location’s past.

Virginia City, Nevada is located northeast of the capital of Nevada, Carson City and southeast of Nevada’s third largest city, Reno. In the late 1800s, Virginia City became the the most important industrial center between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California due to the gold and silver mining in the city. The millions of dollars worth of gold and silver that miners pulled from the shafts beneath the city brought wealth to Virginia City. Mansions were built, furniture and fashion were imported from Europe and fine dining and and entertainment took over the city. All of this wealth was noticed by then president Abraham Lincoln, who made Nevada a territory in March of 1861 and then three years later it became an official state.

Visiting Virginia City today is like stepping back in time, from old time shops to historic saloons. One of the can’t miss stops in Virginia City is the Washoe Club.

In 1870, an exclusive bar, the Old Washoe Club (nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Club”) opened as a meeting place for the elite men of Virginia City. Some famous visitors to the Old Washoe Club were the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S Grant and writer Samuel Clemens (more widely known as Mark Twain). Did you know that it was while writing for the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise that Samuel Clemens first used the pen name Mark Twain?

What used to be an elite club, can now be visited by all as the oldest saloon in Virginia City as well as a Haunted Museum with ghost tours offered daily. As a town with so much history, there are many places that are considered haunted in Virginia City, but the Washoe Club has been known to have the most paranormal activity of any place in Virginia City as well as one of the most haunted places in the state of Nevada. The Washoe Club is considered so haunted that it was featured in the documentary that started the Travel Channel’s show, Ghost Adventures. It has since been featured on Ghost Adventures multiple times since then as well.

Millionaire’s Club

The ghost tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and covers three floors of the building. Not only has Ghost Adventures been to the Washoe Club multiple times, while I was on the tour, there were a few people who had been on the tour multiple times. They return because there have been paranormal sightings during tours. The tour guide (who was featured on Ghost Adventures) shared photos that other guests had taken during the tour that showed what appeared to be ghosts in the photos.

The building has been home to many deaths which may be the reason for so many ghost sightings there. First off, in the winter months when the ground was frozen, they used to store dead bodies in a room in the back of the building. This room became known as the crypt. Not hard to believe that ghosts of some of these bodies might have stuck around all these years later.

There have also been deaths that have occurred in the building. A bartender in the club committed suicide by a gunshot after hearing that his teenage son fell to his death in an abandoned mine shaft. There is also the lady, who’s ghost is often scene at the top of the spiral staircase, who people believe was a prostitute that was killed by a member of the Millionaires Club. Ghost sighting or not, the spiral staircase is definitely something worth seeing. Built in 1870, it’s the longest spiral staircase without a supporting pole.

Sprial Staircase

But probably the creepiest of sights in the Washoe Club is the Annabelle doll. It sits on a small rocking chair and has been known to move on it’s own. The doll belonged to a young girl who died in an explosion in the building, people believe that when the doll moves that it’s the young girl’s ghost playing with her favorite doll. Ghost or not, it’s definitely the scariest doll I’ve ever seen. Why are all dolls named Annabelle so scary?

Annabelle Doll

If the day time ghost tour isn’t scary enough for you, they also offer overnight ghost investigations. Imagine being locked down in this haunted building just like the team from Ghost Adventures! I’m not sure I’d be up for that especially with that creepy Annabelle doll in the building. Anyone willing to try the overnight investigation?

If you happen to be visiting Reno or Lake Tahoe, a day trip up to Virginia City is more than worth it. Not only is this ghost tour at the Old Washoe Club great, but there are definitely plenty of other things to see and do for the entire family. Walk around and check out the historic buildings and museums, take a mine tour, take a train ride, see a live shoot out performance, interact with the time period actors walking the street, check out the shops or have a drink in one of the many historic bars.

While in Virginia City make sure to be on the lookout for paranormal activity, you never know what you will experience in the haunted and historical town.

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Milwaukee : Long Weekend in the Brew City

One of the most underrated cities for a great long weekend visit has got to be Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It has always been on my bucket list of cities to visit in the US and after a recent Labor Day weekend trip there, I’m so happy that I finally made it there. I actually cannot believe it took me so long to get there and hope to visit again some time in the future. Important to note, Wisconsin winters are rough, pretty cold with quite a bit of snow, so I definitely recommend visiting late spring thru early fall for the best experience.

Milwaukee is located approximately 90 miles north of Chicago, Illinois. You could definitely include it as part of a trip to Chicago. In fact, while Milwaukee has it’s own airport, depending on where you are arriving from, it might be cheaper to just fly into Chicago instead. This is what I did for my trip as the flights from Boston were half the price to fly into Chicago and also direct. While I’m a big advocate of not renting cars in cities when I travel, it seemed easier to get around in Milwaukee with one, so having to drive up from Chicago wasn’t too big of a deal.

So what is there to see in this midwest US city? So much, from the riverwalk to the lakefront, there are historic districts, street art, breweries, lighthouses,food and sporting events. Definitely something for all ages and interest levels.

Milwaukee RiverWalk:

The heart of Milwaukee, the RiverWalk takes you along the Milwaukee River thru the different neighborhoods of the city. It’s similar to Chicago’s riverwalk but on a much smaller scale. Spamming over 20 blocks along over 3 miles the riverwalk connects three of the city’s neighborhoods: Downtown, Third Ward and Beerline B.

There are so many ways to enjoy the Milwaukee RiverWalk:

  • Go for a walk or run along the RiverWalk
  • Kayak on the Milwaukee River
  • Take a boat cruise on the Milwaukee River
  • Catch an outdoor concert in the park
  • Enjoy a meal or drink at an outdoor patio
  • Browse the outdoor art gallery, RiverSculpture, located along the RiverWalk
  • See the Bronz Fonz – honoring Fonzie from the popular TV show Happy Days which was set in Milwaukee. This is located downtown on the RiverWalk and a great photo op!

Historic Third Ward:

Located on the southern section of the Milwaukee RiverWalk is the Historic Third Ward District. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, this was the oldest commerce hub in Milwaukee. It has a long commerce history that was able to come back even after a devastating fire in 1892 which destroyed 16 blocks and took 30 years to reconstruct.

Historic Third Ward

Today, this former warehouse district has been revitalized as one of the most popular mixed-use neighborhoods of the city. In the district, you can find art galleries, shopping, restaurants and many festivals. The weekend I was there, a huge outdoor art market was being held, which was a great opportunity to check out some of the local creatives and their work.

Street art is becoming more and more popular in cities big and small across the world which makes every structure the perfect canvas! Milwaukee’s Third Ward has no shortage of street art, definitely something to check out while exploring the neighborhood.

There was even this cool tunnel that was covered in street art:

Milwaukee Public Market:

While there are many great restaurants in the Historic Third Ward, you must make sure to stop by the Milwaukee Public Market for a bite to eat while exploring the this neighborhood! Opening in 2005, the Milwaukee Public Market’s inspiration came from Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Featuring local vendors that sell prepared meals, produce, meats, seafood, cheeses and more, it’s a great way to support local small businesses.

There are so many great local vendors to grab lunch from, it can be hard to decide. I recommend walking around a few times and making note of the top vendors you want to check out. There is ample seating on the second floor of the market as well as seating outdoors.

So many vendors to choose from

Beer History and Tours:

Known as the Brew City, Milwaukee was once the Beer Capital of the World, so it’s no surprise that there is no shortage of breweries and beer history in Milwaukee. There are many tours that you can take including:

  • Miller Brewing Company – What beer drinker hasn’t had a Miller Lite in their lifetime? Located a few miles from downtown is the Miller Brewery offering tours daily (currently tours are suspended due to covid).
  • Pabst Brewing Company – Famous for Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Pabst may no longer brew it’s beer in Milwaukee, but it has a long history in the city dating back to 1848. The former location of the brewery and many of it’s buildings are still standing and they offer history tours at the former brewery. You can also take a tour of the Pabst family mansion. To learn more about these tours, check out my post on Pabst History in Milwaukee
  • Lakefront Brewery – located in the northern neighborhood of the RiverWalk, Beerline B, this brewery has been operating since 1987. The company was started by two brothers who used mostly used equipment at first, including a piece of equipment that was seen in the opening credits of the popular Laverne & Shirley TV show that they got from Schlitz Brewery. This piece of equipment can be seen on the tour. Their tour is a must, it’s rated as one of the top brewery tours in the country and is a lot of fun. The brewery includes a beer hall as well as outdoor seating along the river. Make sure to pair your beer with some cheese curds. Not only are they a must when visiting Wisconsin, but Lakefront Brewery makes some of the best cheese curds in all of Milwaukee!

If you walk along the Milwaukee RiverWalk south towards downtown from Lakefront Brewery, you will come to Schlitz Park. This is the former location of the Schlitz Brewery, which brewed Schlitz Beer, known as the “The Beer that made Milwaukee Famous”.

Milwaukee Lakefront:

While the Milwaukee River goes thru the heart of the city, the city also sits along one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. There are so many great things to do along the Lakefront:

  • Visit a museum – Both the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World are located along the lakefront.
  • Enjoy a summer day on the beach, like the popular Bradford Beach
  • Enjoy one of the many parks along the lake, popular parks include Lakeshore State Park and Veterans Park
  • Get out on the water – go sailing from Mckinley Marina
  • Take a walk, run or bike ride along the 3 mile long Milwaukee Lakefront Trail

North Point Lighthouse:

Located near Lake Michigan is North Point Lighthouse. In operation from 1855 thru 1994. The lighthouse stands 74 feet tall and the light was visible for 20 miles away. In 2007 the lighthouse was restored and opened as a museum. The lighthouse is currently closed due to water damage repairs being made, but it’s definitely worth visiting to take some photos of the outside and explore nearby Lake Park.

North Point Lighthouse

Attend a Sporting Event:

Milwaukee has some great professional sports teams. While in town make sure to check out a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game at American Family Field which is located just a few miles outside of the downtown area. Or attend a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game at Fiserv Forum located in downtown Milwaukee not far from the former Pabst Brewery.

With so much to see and do right in the Milwaukee, you probably won’t have much time to get out of the city if you are only there on a long weekend trip, but if you did have a little more time, I highly recommend checking out Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve . This hidden gem is located just a half hour north of Milwaukee but will make you feel like you are over a thousand miles south of Milwaukee. It’s the type of place that will make you truly appreciate how beautiful Lake Michigan is!

Milwaukee is very much underrated and would make the perfect spot for a quick long weekend getaway! Who’s ready to check this great city off their bucket list?

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The World’s Most Magical Celebration

50 Years ago on October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando Florida opened! Can you believe this magical place has been open for 50 years?

What started as a dream of Walt Disney who wanted a place that both young and old could enjoy together as a family has turned into one of the most popular vacation destinations in the entire world. Walt’s first park Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955. With the success of that park, he purchased a large amount of land in Florida in hopes of building a larger Disney Park. Sadly Walt Disney passed away in December 1966 but his brother Roy carried out his dream of the Florida park.

On Opening day, Walt Disney World consisted of just two hotels, The Contemporary and Polynesian hotels. Today there are over 25 hotels on Disney property. They opened with just the one park, Magic Kingdom which included less than 20 rides and attractions. With just one park, you could visit Disney Word for two days and enjoy each ride multiple times and spend the rest of your week exploring other things in Florida like the beach. There have since been 3 other theme parks opened and two water parks. You could probably spend a month inside the Walt Disney World Resort and still not be able to experience everything.

Opening Day October 1, 1971 (photo courtesy of my Walt Disney World book)

I have been coming to Walt Disney World for 42 years since I was 5 years old. It’s amazing just how much the parks have changed over the years. Some changes have been great, some make me sad since I get nostalgic for the past. Cinderella’s Castle has certainly evolved over the years.

While I get nostalgic for the classic white and blue castle, they have done a great job at sprucing it up for the 50th Anniversary celebration.

The celebration officially begins on October1, 2021 and will last for 18 months. There have already been plenty of 50th Anniversary touches added to the park leading up to October 1st. As seen above, Cinderella’s Castle is all decked out for the 50th. A new fireworks show, Enchantment which opens on October 1st. In the Magic Kingdom and in Disney’s shopping, dining and entertainment district, Disney Springs, you can find new 50th Anniversary merchandise for all ages.

Walt Disney World has also released The Vault which is a collection of vintage merchandise from the early years of the park. Get classic tshirts, a vintage park map and other memorabilia.

The Vault

There are plenty of 50th anniversary decorations throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort. From birthday cakes to sparkly 50th banners, you can’t miss all these beautiful displays of the celebration!

But the most impressive decorations to me where the Fab 50 Golden Character Statues. These beautiful statues are located in all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks, with at lease half them in the Magic Kingdom. While some of them are fairly easy to located in central areas of each theme park, there are a few you have to search for. I managed to find all but three, two of them I know where they are located but they had the area blocked off, but I still have yet to find Tink, she apparently is hidden in the trees. Next trip I’ll for sure find her! These statues are so beautiful and represent so many Disney characters from past and present movies.

Fab 50 Golden Character Statues

When you visit during the next 18 months, not only will you experience the excitement of the 50th Anniversary, there are also so many new attractions opening.

On October 1st, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot opens. This 4D trackless ride will shrink you down to Chef Remy’s size for a culinary adventure. This ride has been at Disneyland Paris for a number of years and it is such a fun ride, I can’t wait to ride it again at Epcot on my next trip.

Also at Epcot, Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind will open in 2022. And earlier this week, the new nighttime show, Harmonious opened. Make sure to get a spot front and center along the World Showcase lagoon to experience all this nighttime show has to offer.

Speaking of new nighttime spectaculars, Disney’s Happily Ever After had it’s last performance on September 29th and now there is a new nighttime spectacular in the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Enchantment. Enchantment will have a lot to live up to as Happily Ever After was one of Disney’s best nighttime shows in my opinion and evoked lots of emotions during it’s tenure since May 2017.

In March 2022, Disney’s Galactic Starcruiser will open. This totally immersive Star Wars hotel will put you right into the Star Wars universe. Reservations for this experience will include two nights in the hotel, 3 meals per day and admission into Disney’s Studios. It sounds like quite the once in a lifetime experience that also comes in a once in a lifetime price tag. Reservations open on October 28th.

Magic Band + will debut in 2022. These bands will bring you more than the typical park ticket, hotel room key and ability to pay for your purchases. Now the magic bands will be more interactive, with is lighting up along with the nighttime spectaculars and interacting with the Fab 50 Golden Character Statues.

With so much going on in the parks and with all the world has gone thru since March 2020, the next 18 months are the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World and take part in the celebrations. Contact your favorite Disney Travel Agent at Beyond the Miles Travel today, sue@beyondthemilestravel.com to book your 50th Anniversary Walt Disney World Trip. http://www.beyondthemilestravel.com.

Have a Magical Day!

Happy 50th Anniversary Walt Disney World, thank you for giving me the best memories over the past 42 years of my life. I hope every little kid has a chance to experience your magic like I did for the first time back when I was 5 years old.

My first Disney Trip

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Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Wisconsin may not be the place that comes to mind when you think of towering bluffs above tropical looking blue waters, but that is exactly what you will find at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve.

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is located about a half hour drive north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the town of Grafton. Located along the largest of the great lakes, Lake Michigan it features 100 foot tall bluffs along one mile of the lake’s shoreline. I could not get over how beautiful the water of the lake looked from the bluffs. I definitely did not feel like I was in the northern part of the United States, it looked much too tropical for that area! This 73 acre park overs many different hiking trails and scenic views for the entire family.

Lion’s Den Gorge Hiking Trails

Hiking: There are a few trails located in the Nature Preserve. The best part about the trails are that they are fairly easy with not too much elevation and some portions of the trail are on boardwalk which makes them accessible to all. The main trail is the Lion’s Den Trail which is just under 2 miles long. The trail will take you thru the woods, along boardwalks and regular trails.

The biggest highlight of the trail is that it goes along the bluff with multiple stopping points to take in the beautiful views of Lake Michigan. It’s amazing how blue the water is, at points I almost felt like I was looking out into water in the caribbean!

At the end of the trail, you will reach a set of stairs that will take you down to the beach below. Great spot for a relaxing stroll along the beach or if it’s a warm day, take a swim in the lake.

Other things to do at the Preserve:

  • Have a Picnic – There are picnic tables set up in the park or you could even bring a large blanket and have a picnic on the beach while relaxing on the shores of Lake Michigan.
  • Fishing – While down on the beach, don’t forget your fishing pole, Lake Michigan is a great place to fish specifically for trout.
  • Bird viewing – The high bluff makes for a great spot for bird viewing. In the area you can view birds such as loons and heron and in the spring and fall you may catch the raptor migration.
  • Flowers – I visited in September and there were so many beautiful flowers throughout the preserve, I can only imagine how many more there are in the prime flower season of spring.

If you are visiting the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend a half day trip to Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful parks I’ve visited. It’s hard to believe that prior to Ozaukee county purchasing the 73 acres in 2002, this land was privately owned. If I owned this land, I’m not sure I would want to share views like this:

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Pabst History in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is currently known as the “Brew City” and once known as the Beer Capital of the World. There are many well known beer brands that called Milwaukee home like Miller, Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst. Pabst Brewing has a long history in Milwaukee and you could easily dedicate a whole day to the history of the beer and family that made Pabst famous.

The Brewery District: The former site of the Pabst Brewery is one of the newest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Located in the northwestern part of the city, this area has been transformed into a sustainable, mixed use district which includes apartments, hotels and restaurants. The area is beautiful, they did a great job in adding some new modern buildings while keeping 16 of the historic buildings from the brewery. I don’t know about anyone else, but I always love seeing the contrast of the new and old buildings together in a city.

If you are looking to learn more about Pabst Beer, along the sidewalk in the Brewery District is a timeline of the history of Pabst Brewery.

Pabst history along the sidewalk

But if you have more time, I highly recommend heading to Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery for a fun and informative tour on the history of Pabst Beer.

Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery: Here you will find Best Place Coffee & Spirits for a little pick me or a beer that made Pabst famous, whichever you choose Make sure to check out the Vintage Gift Shop which not only sells Pabst items but items from all the beer brands that made Milwaukee famous like Schlitz, Blatz and Old Milwaukee. During the warmer months, they have live music in the courtyard. There are also banquet facilities in the historic brewery for weddings and other events. Throughout the entire place is Pabst memorabilia.

The highlight of Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery, is definitely the Beer History Tour. On this hour long tour, enjoy a free beer (preferably a Pabst Blue Ribbon, aka PBR) or soda, hear about the history of Pabst beer and Milwaukee beer history in general, see the Blue Ribbon Hall and the former corporate offices of Pabst Brewery.

Beer History Tour: The tour starts in Blue Ribbon Hall where you learn some history while enjoying your free beer or soda. Pabst was the first of the great beer brands to come out of Milwaukee when Jacob Best started Best Brewery in 1848. The name of the beer, Best Beer, what a great name, nothing like heading up to a bar and say give me the Best Beer! In the 1850’s Jacob’s son Phillip Best takes over running the company. In 1863, Phillip’s German son-in-law, who was a ship captain made a career move and became a partner in the company. His name, Frederick Pabst, the name sake of the famous Pabst beer!

A fact I learned during the tour was that Chicago used to be the beer capital, but then the Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871 and it helped the breweries in Milwaukee and soon after Milwaukee became the beer capital of the world. Even with Frederick Pabst as partner in the company, it remained Best Brewing Company until 1889 when the name of the company was changed to Pabst Brewing Company. Prior to the name change they were selling Best Select beer which had a blue ribbon around the neck of the bottle. So in 1889, Pabst Blue Ribbon (othewise known as PBR) was born.

Pabst Logo with B in the middle to honor Best Brewing Company

During prohibition, breweries were hit hard. Pabst did what it could to stay afloat, they did what any true Wisconsin company would do and switched from selling the state beverage to selling the state food, cheese! After prohibition ended they went back to selling beer and eventually their cheese operation was purchased by Kraft.

Pabst was the largest American owned brewery and was a great place to work with some wonderful benefits including a beer every 3 hours at work! Where can I send my resume for that job? 😉 In 1996, they abandoned their brewery in Milwaukee and are currently located in San Antonio, Texas.

There are still 16 buildings left in the Pabst Brewing complex and the tour takes you into what used to be the corporate offices of Pabst Brewing. You can see Frederick Pabst’s office and desk. There is plenty of old Pabst momentos in the former corporate offices and they are used as a location for weddings and other events today. It’s really a great historic spot for an event.

Then the tour goes down to the basement where there is a bar and where one of the many safes at Pabst Brewing was located. It’s another great spot that can be rented for smaller events.

Pabst Mansion: Now that you know who Frederick Pabst and his history, why not drive a little over a mile west and visit his mansion. Take a guided tour of this beautiful mansion that has been standing since 1892. The Pabst Mansion took two years to build and costs $254,000 to build, which was definitely quite the big amount of money in the 1890s.

The Pabst lived in the mansion until their deaths in 1904 and 1906. In 1908, their descendents sold the house to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee to be used as a residence for the archbishop. From beer to the church, the mansion has certainly had an eclectic past. It remained a residence for numerous archbishops for sixty seven years. Then in 1975, after almost getting torn down to build a parking lot for a hotel, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and became a museum.

Pabst Mansion

The guided tour was a great way to see the mansion and learn more about the Pabst family and personal lives. I found it interesting that the different rooms were done if different styles from different time periods, it definitely gave the house an eclectic feel.

There were so many interesting unique artifacts in the house, alot of which had to do with drinking. I guess that’s to be expected in a mansion owned by an owner of a brewery.

And one of my favorite things that I saw was the stained glass ceiling above the staircase.

The history of the Pabst family and their beer business was very interesting to me. It’s a huge part of the history of Milwaukee and helps to give you and idea of what made this city successful. Now I just need to find a job that gives me a free beer every three hours. 😂

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Day Trips From Boston By Train: Newburyport

Located 35 miles north of the city of Boston, is the coastal town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Located along the Merrimack River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Newburyport was once part of the town of Newbury and became an important fishing and trading port in the 1600s. Goods came into the US thru the port in Newbury from all over the world. The port was also well known for ship building.

In 1851, the port area split from the town of Newbury to form the town of Newburyport. At this time, mills were built which brought more industry and economic means to the city. After up and down economic years, the city has been revitalized while preserving the history of the city, which makes it a wonderful place for a day trip from Boston.

Getting to Newburyport: Newburyport is easily accessible by train. From North Station in downtown Boston, you can take the Newburyport line of the MBTA’s commuter rail to the very last stop, Newburyport. On the weekend, the train runs every couple of hours, with more frequent service on weekdays, especially during prime commute hours. Tickets cost $24.50 roundtrip. They often sell a $10 unlimited rides weekend pass which is a great deal to head to Newburyport for the day. Check the mbta website to see if this special is running and for the train schedule.

The train takes a little over an hour and the stop is 1.1 miles from downtown Newburyport. Getting to downtown from the train is very easy, the Clipper City Rail Trail makes the walk from the train to downtown an enjoyable and scenic walk.

Clipper City Rail Trail: Newburyport is known as the Clipper City due to the Clipper ships that were built there. The Clipper City Rail Trail was built to connect the train station with the harborwalk downtown. The trail is great for walkers, runners and bikers. Along the scenic trail, you will see works of art, sculptures, murals and signs with history of the railroad in Newburyport. If you’re hungry or thirsty on your way back to the train, right off the trail you will find Haley’s ice cream as well as Riverwalk Brewing Co., both places are definitely worth a stop.

Harborwalk and Waterfront Park: Once you reach downtown the Clipper City Rail Trail turns into the Harborwalk. This walkway spans the Merrimack River and had beautiful waterviews, the harbor, a boardwalk and the Waterfront Park. The park is home to music festivals, theater performances, exercise classes and is a great location for a summer wedding ceremony.

Boating and Fishing: A visit to a coastal town isn’t complete without some time on the water. Newburyport offers plenty of harbor cruises, river cruises and fishing trips for all ages. You can also charter a boat if you would like a more private experience on the water.

Custom House Maritime Museum: Newburyport is full of maritime history.

The port in Newbury wasn’t just known for the goods that were transported into the port but it was also where many ships were built. One of the famous ships built there was the U.S. Revenue Cutter Massachusetts which was built in 1791. This was the first cutter in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service which was put in place to enforce the collection of customs tonnage duties. In 1915, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service combined to form the U.S. Coast Guard. Newburyport is known as the birthplace of the Coast Guard due to it’s start in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service.

At the Custom House Maritime Museum, you can learn all about the history of the clipper ships and the US Coast Guard. The museum is located in the Custom House that has been in Newburyport since 1835.

Walking Tour of Newburyport: There is so much history in Newburyport and what better way to discover it than to take a walking tour of town. One of the more popular tours in town is Untapped History. Knowledgable tour guides will lead you on a 75 tour of Newburyport with 16 historic stops. The tour also includes drinks and appetizers.

Shopping in Newburyport: There is plenty of great shops to check out in Newburyport including a great antique shop that will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to your grandparents house. The shops downtown are located in some of the oldest and most historical buildings in town. The brick buildings and walkways will have you feeling like you have stepped back in time. From gift shops to galleries to clothing and apparel stores, there is something for everyone. The stores in Newburyport are a great way to support small business instead of the big chain stores.

Dining In Newburyport: Like the shops of Newburyport, you won’t find the big chain restaurants here, but you will find some absolutely amazing local, independent restaurants. The seafood restaurants are the stars of the show in this coastal community. While there are plenty of seafood restaurants, there are also many other cuisines to choose from such as Mexican, Italian, Indian and Japanese.

While I was in Newburyport I had lunch at Michael’s Harborside. They had great food and the atmosphere on the outdoor patio by the river was what we dream about all winter long in Massachusetts.

If you are like me and love checking out local coffee shops, make sure to visit The Coffee Factory and I highly recommend the Frozen Reese’s Coffee, it was probably the best coffee treat I’ve ever had!

Newuburyport is one of the many perfect day trips that you can take from Boston by train. If you are looking for another great day trip, check out my post on Manchester-by-the-Sea.

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Day Trips From Boston By Train: Manchester-by-the-Sea

As someone who lives in Boston and does not own a car, I’m always looking for great day trips that are accessible by train. One of my favorite day trips from Boston in the summer is Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Manchester-by-the-Sea is located approximately 30 miles north of the city of Boston on Cape Ann which also includes the nearby towns or Rockport, Gloucester and Essex. The town was incorporated in 1645 and was known as Manchester up until 1989 when it was renamed Manchester-by-the-Sea to avoid confusion with the largest city in neighboring NH which was also named Manchester. It served mainly as a fishing village for the first 200 years. After this time it became a summer home to many of the rich in Boston building summer cottages along the coastline.

Manchester-by-the-Sea may sound familiar to you and you are correct, it was the name of the hit movie from 2016 starring Michelle Williams and Boston native Casey Affleck. The movie was filmed in the town as well as the nearby towns on Cape Ann. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it but just be prepared for some tears, it’s definitely a sad story.

Getting to Manchester-by-the-Sea: Manchester-by-the-Sea is easily accessible by train. From North Station in downtown Boston, you can take the Rockport Line of the MBTA’s commuter rail to the Manchester stop. On the weekends, the train runs every couple of hours and runs more frequently on weekdays, especially during the prime commute hours. Tickets costs $21 round trip. They often sell a special $10 unlimited rides weekend pass. Check the website http://www.mbta.com to see if this special is running. Always check the website to see if there are any service alerts where they may be running shuttles instead of the train on the weekend.

The train takes just under an hour from Boston and lets you off right downtown within walking distance of plenty of things to see and do.

Singing Beach: Probably the top thing to do in Manchester-by-the-Sea during the summer months is to visit the beautiful Singing Beach. The walk from the train is just under a mile, starting by walking by the harbor and then up the tree lined Beach Street straight to the beach. It’s fairly easy to know which way to go, just follow the rest of the people departing the train. Singing Beach’s parking is limited to residents on weekend days in the summer, so the train is definitely the way to go to get to this stunning Cape Ann beach.

Once you arrive at the beach there is a $7 per person walk on fee (cards not accepted so make sure to bring cash). My favorite thing about this beach which makes the fee worth it is how much less crowded it is than other beaches in the area due to the limited parking. It’s definitely one of the quieter, more relaxing beaches near Boston.

The beach has a bathhouse which has been there since the 1920s and features a snack stand, restrooms and showers. The bathhouse is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Singing beach is a half mile long and features soft sand, beautiful water, rocky shores and nearby cliffs. Singing Beach got it’s name from the sound the sand makes when you walk on it, it’s almost as if it’s singing to you. I’m not sure it sounds like it’s singing, but it definitely makes a squeaking sound I haven’t heard at many other beaches. What causes this singing or squeaking? It has to do with the shape and size of the sand, the moisture level and the silica in the sand. It’s more common to hear it on dry sand. I’ll admit, I usually head up to this beach one or two times every summer and the only times I noticed the sound were the first time I visited and when I visited this summer, both times I was purposely listening for it. It is quite a phenomenon when you do hear it!

Other than the singing sand, it’s a great beach to relax or take a walk along the shore line.

Masconomo Park: Walking back into town from Singing Beach, you will pass this beautiful coastal park. It’s the great place to take a short walk along the water, check out the World War I Memorial, watch the boats come in and out of the harbor or have a picnic. And what perfect way to enjoy a summer afternoon than to enjoy some ice cream in the park. Located just across the street is Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream and it’s an absolute must when visiting Manchester-by-the-Sea!

Enjoy the Harbor: There is nothing more quaint than a New England harbor. I could sit there for hours watching the boats. If you want to get out on the water, check out Frayed Knot Sailing Charters to charter a boat or to take sailing lessons.

Manchester Harbor

Discover the History of Manchester: For a town that has been around since the 1600s, there’s a lot of history to see. The Manchester Historical Museum was established in 1886 and is located in the historic Trask House. The Trask House was the home of one of Manchester’s most prominent merchant ship captains in the 1800s. The museum houses historical artifacts and town records. The museum also offers self guided walking tours of town.

Some of the things you can see on the self guided walking tours include the First Parish Congregational Church which is listed in the National Register of Historical Places. Built in 1809, it served as Manchester’s fourth Meeting House.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library is across from the Trask House and has been open since 1887. Also along the walks are many historical homes from the 18th and 19th century.

Shopping and Eating in Manchester-by-the-sea: As with all towns to visit, Manchester-by-the-Sea offers great shopping and restaurants. From gift shops to antique shops to art galleries and the popular Manchester By The Book offering a large collection of books to buy and a great place to sell some of your old books.

There are also plenty of local restaurants downtown to choose from including Allie’s Beach Street Cafe, Calas and Bravo by the Sea.

With small town charm, history and a beautiful coast line, a day trip to Manchester-by-the-Sea is a must visit from Boston, especially in the summer months.

Singing Beach

Planning a trip to Boston and wanting to take some day trips outside the city, contact Beyond The Miles Travel so we can help with your planning.

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Running 50 States – Grand Teton Half Marathon in Wyoming

When deciding where to run a half marathon in Wyoming during my quest to run in all 50 states, I just knew it needed to be in the Jackson Hole area so I could make a vacation of it and visit the two nearby National Parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone while in the area.

I came across the Grand Teton Half Marathon which was part of the Vacation Races race series. Vacation Races started in 2012 and holds races ranging from 5Ks to ultra marathons on both road and trails in or near National Parks across the country. I had heard nothing but great things about thier races and knew I needed to try one. I’m not one for trail races and think running in all 50 states is enough of a challenge, so I don’t necessarily need a difficult race, so the fact the Grand Teton Half Marathon was rated as easy, made it the perfect choice for my Wyoming half marathon.

Grand Teton Half Marathon Views

Even though I wasn’t looking for a challenging course, I definitely was not completely opposed to a challenge, so I decided to take on the Moose Double Challenge. This involved running the 5K on the Friday night and then the Half Marathon on the Saturday morning.

When I signed up for the races, I was imagining the perfect cool running weather, but after snow in the area just a couple of weeks earlier, it ended up being a warm 80 degrees for the start of the 5K. Add in over 6,000 feet of elevation for someone that is used to running at sea level and it might as well have been 100 degrees and humid. It was a tough 5K even though it was a completely flat course that mostly went along a bike path. The one advantage to being a slow runner during covid though is that they start you in waves based on your anticipated finish time, so I was in one of the last groups to start, so the temperature was going down a bit towards the end of the 5K. And I was also able to see the first group start, which was fun.

5K Start

It was a great race though and a good warmup to get used to the elevation for the Half Marathon the next morning. Or so I thought….

The morning of the half marathon started early, I had to be on a shuttle from downtown Jackson Hole to the start at 4:30am. I won’t lie, walking from the hotel thru downtown to the shuttle in the dark early morning hours had me slightly worried about running into wildlife, especially bears. Things that go thru a city girl’s mind when in bear country! Luckily I walked out of the hotel with two other girls also running, safety in numbers!

The race did not start until 6am and due to the staggered start, my wave wasn’t set to start until 7am. Unlike the 5K where the slower runner’s late start had a slight advantage, for the half marathon it did not. It meant sitting around for 2 hours and then having to run more in the hot sun. Luckily they did start us a little earlier than 7am since a week earlier covid restrictions had been lifted because we thought it was over and we could go back to normal (ahh, remember the good old days of the beginning of summer when we thought we could safely be back to normal).

The race started out ok, but it didn’t take more than a couple of miles before the altitude started to bother me, the 5K definitely didn’t help get me used to the altitude nor did the run I did a week earlier in Idaho at over 4,000 feet. I’m pretty sure that I would definitely have an easier time running in 95 degrees and humidity than at the over 6000 feet altitude! Don’t be fooled by my forced smile in the photo below. Many, many rundisney races have taught me to be on the lookout for photographers and put on my ultra happy face, no matter how awful I feel!

As hard as the altitude was to run in, the views along the way more than made up for it. I must say the views in this race were as beautiful as my favorite race in terms of views, Maui Half Marathon. Every mile of the race was more beautiful than the next! I managed to run/walk up until mile 9 then I did nothing but walk the final four miles until the finish line where I forced myself to run. I luckily started talking with another girl at mile 9 and we walked together for two miles, that definitely helped to pass the time.

I probably have never been so happy to see a finish line as I was to see this one. And the finish line views were incredible! Definitely the most beautiful and scenic finish line I’ve ever run thru! They had some great signs leading up to the finish line ad a great photo op after the race with the Grand Teton Half Marathon sign.

After talking with other runners after the race, I definitely learned that even though the altitude was difficult in this race, it is definitely one of their easier races. Some of the trail races sound beyond challenging. There are quite a few people that run all of the races put on by vacation races. I talked to one man who was traveling thru the country running quite a few of the them this year. They even had another challenge called the Grand Quad where you run the 5K and Half Marathon at Grand Teton and the 5K and Half Marathon at Yellowstone the following week. Very impressive how many were in this challenge.

Even with the altitude, I highly recommend this race for your Wyoming race if you are working to run all 50 states. It was incredibly organized and well run, great course support and just a beautiful course! I’d love to get in a little better shape and run another race in the vacation race series, we’ll see, I’m definitely not getting any younger so races just seem to be getting more difficult on my body, but hey, there is always the 5K’s at some of the locations that I can certainly conquer!

Looking for more to do while in the area for the race, check out my posts on Grand Teton and Jackson Hole.

Need help planning your 50 states running travel, Beyond The Miles Travel is here to help. Contact us today.

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