Things to See and Do in Sunriver, Oregon

Friday July 16, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

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Take in a sunset at Sunriver, Oregon

Are you headed to Sunriver, Oregon? Sunriver Resort is where our son learned to walk. This family-friendly resort holds a special place in our heart. In fact, when I recommend other places to vacation, the family insists on returning to Sunriver. There are so many things to see and do in Sunriver, Oregon that you’ll want to come back for a second, or third visit.

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the top of Lava Butte.

If you are traveling with kids, or you simply like home made ice cream, you’ll want to visit Goody’s at the Sunriver Resort Village Mall.

Once you’ve had your sugar fix, head out to the Deschutes National Forest on a mountain bike or take a horseback ride.

For complete quiet, take a float on a canoe or kayak down the Deschutes River or Cascade Lakes.

If you come to Sunriver, get your picture taken next to Benham Falls. This is a flat, fairly easy bike ride with kids.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at the Grille at Crosswater, get the salmon.

Sunriver is my one stop shop for outdoor recreation.

Take a downhill mountain bike ride to Paulina Plunge outside of Sunriver, Oregon

Take a downhill mountain bike ride to Paulina Plunge outside of Sunriver, Oregon

Not a lot of money to spend on restaurant dining, head to the farmers’ market in Bend.

For a huge splurge, I go to the Grille at Crosswater.

Photo ops in Sunriver could be on a horse next to the Deschutes River, in a Glider soaring over the Cascade Mountains, or on the 12thhole at Crosswater.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Lava Butte or on horseback at Ramsey Ridge.

The most random thing about Sunriver Resort is the Wings and Wheels Antique Car and Airplane Festival.

In Sunriver, an active day outdoors involves biking, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, paddle-boarding, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, caving. The recreational opportunities are wide open.

My favorite walking route is the Benham Falls trail.

Sunriver’s best museum is the High Desert Museum.

For a night of dancing, go to your back porch and dance under the stars. Otherwise, you’ll have to head into Bend for live music with nightlife.

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read the Sunriver Scene.

Nancy D. Brown, horseback riding, Ramsey Ridge, Sunriver, Oregon

The best Sunriver views are reached on horseback from Ramsey Ridge

You can tell a lot about Central Oregon from visiting Sisters and watching the Sisters rodeo.

In the spring you should go skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor. Usually Bachelor has the best late season snow in the country.

In the summer you should take a white water rafting trip on the Deschutes.

In the fall you should hike the Deschutes river trail when the aspens are on fire.

In the winter you should go to Mt. Bachelor for dog sledding rides.

A hidden gem in Central Oregon is Fall River.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Bellatzza.

Just outside of Sunriver Resort you can visit Sparks lake and have a picnic.

The best way to see Sunriver is to ride bikes.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Ft. Funnigan.

Sunriver kayaks, stand up paddle boarding, deschutes river, nancy d. brown

Go standup paddle boarding or kayaking on Sunriver’s Deschutes River

What are your favorite things to do in Sunriver, Oregon?

Thanks to Sunriver Resort for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

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Best Things to See and Do in Ghent, Belgium

Friday July 9, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 0 Comments

canal boats along the Leie, river, ghent, belgium

Canal boats rest along the Leie – river, in Ghent, Belgium

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Belfry, St. Bavo’s Cathedral and “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” and St. Michaels’ Bridge.

When I crave Ghent cuisine, I turn to a table for two in a romantic restaurant or a group meal in a great setting.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at some of the many parks in Ghent. The town council would like even more greenery in the city. Near St. James’ Church, an entire street has been sacrificed to this effort. Bibliotheekstraat was grassed over to make the Baudelopark even bigger and more enjoyable.

After enjoying the classic or modern art in MSK or the SMAK, you can take in some fresh air in the Citadel Park. Children will enjoy the playground in the park. Visit the pond next to the waterfall before strolling back to the city centre via Sint-Pietersplein.

The modest Muinkpark, laid out in the English landscape style, is the last remnant of the 19th century Ghent zoo. The surrounding streets still bear the animal names who once resided there. Today, you will find their likeness engraved into the ten benches around the park.

In the 1930′s, a park in neo-baroque style was laid out here on the site of the former Zuidstation. Few people, including the citizens of Ghent, realize that the city of Ghent has a nature reserve. The Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen is a 230 hectar flood area that provides a migratory winter habitat for hundreds of birds. The reserve can be explored on three different walking routes. Check out the new visitors’ center – a model of sustainability.

For exotic greenery and an extensive collection of medicinal herbs, fit in a visit to the Plantentuin at Ghent University Botanical Garden.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Stropke Brasserie, get the Gentse Waterzooi, a soup with chicken.

Ghent is my one stop shop for mustard. Visit Tierenteyn-verlent “the best mustard in the world” according to the employees.

When I want to eat organic  for a good price, I go to Brasserie Pakhuis. For something different, try the Framboos Beer.

nancy d. brown, ghent, belgium, flanders, castle of the counts

Children and adults will enjoy visiting Ghent’s Castle of the Counts in Belgium

For a huge splurge, I go to Belga Queen.

Photo ops in Ghent  include the Castle of the Counts and The Belfry. The best vantage points are by walking to the top of St. Michael’s Bridge.

The most random thing about Ghent is the Ghent Festivities. This feast for the people sets the city a flame for 10 days. It opens with a parade and closes with the “day of the empty wallets.”  Events include the International Street theater Festival and the Puppet Buskers Festival, free musical performances on various stages in the center with more than 700 theater performances, exhibitions, guided tours and fireworks.

In Ghent an active day outdoors involves walking.

My favorite walking route is the “Nibbling Through Ghent” tour with stops at the Grand Meat Hall for Ganda ham, Daskalides Chocolatier, Kaas Meeka and a candy shop.

On my visit, professionals from the Los Angeles, California Getty Foundation were working to restore the individual panels of the “Adoration of the Lamb” at St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

For a night of dancing visit The Culture Club. On the Oude Beestenmarkt you’ll stumble across the trendy places to be and in the city center, the Make Up Club, Tijuana and Club Central for salsa dancing. Jazz lovers will enjoy The Hot Club of Ghent.

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read Weekup and “Zone 09″ also visit Gratis (if you can read Dutch) for what’s hot.

In the summer you should attend the Gent Jazz Festival and Jazz in the Park.

In the fall you should visit OdeGand. The International Flanders Festival Ghent opens with the festive OdeGand and a sparkling fireworks display. Also check out the International Film Festival Ghent where the World Soundtrack Awards are presented annually.

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Teenagers must see the Graffiti Street in Ghent, Belgium

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the World of Kina: the Garden and The World of Kina: the House.

Also visit the Castle of the Counts. Adults find the Gravensteen imposing. Indeed the Counts of Flanders built the castle to intimidate. For children, the castle is nothing less than breathtaking. The stories of knights and ladies may even come to life on a visit.

Make time for a visit to St. Peter’s Abbey Arts Centre where the virtual monk, Alison, guides you on a mysterious journey through the abbey.

If you have teenagers, you must visit the Graffiti street.

Where are your favorite things to do in Ghent, Belgium?

Thanks to Freya Sackx and the Ghent Tourist Office for assistance with this post. For information on Brussels and Belgium Visit Flanders. Visitors, check out the Brugge City Card for attraction discounts.

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

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Best Things to See and Do in New York

Friday July 2, 2010 at 12:12 AM | 0 Comments

statue of liberty, new york, nancy d. brown, "Lady Liberty" staten island ferry

Things to see and do in New York – take the Staten Island Ferry – see the Statue of Liberty

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to  Washington Square Park – rich with history, culture and life. At the heart of the Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is a gathering point for a diverse group of artists, musicians, students, New Yorkers and visitors.

I stayed at the Larchmont Hotel and the Washington Square Hotel, next to Washington Square Park, during my June visit to attend the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference. Of course, Central Park is also stop numero uno for visitors to New York.

When I crave New York cuisine, I turn to Johnny’s Pizza, Bleeker Street Pizza or Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn.

  • Grimaldi’s is famous for its brick-oven pizzas and so good that there is always a line around the block. It’s located right under the Brooklyn Bridge and is easily accessible by Water Taxi, Subway or car. In the summertime you can grab the Water Taxi to the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge Park, order some pizza and enjoy one of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline.

To escape work I go to Central park.Sitting on one of the park benches or – in the summertime – one of the lawns – is a perfect escape from work. Whether you want to soak up the sun or people-watch, Central park is the place to de-stress.

 

 

For complete quiet, I can hide away at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although it is one of the top visitor attractions in NYC, the MET has a lot of great areas within the museum to go and hide, relax and enjoy various art forms, masterpieces and sculptures. During the summer, the rooftop is the place to be with its annual outdoor exhibits.

If you come to New York, get your picture taken at Times Square. A popular area for visitors, one can have their picture taken with the bright lights and sky high advertisements in the background, or pose with a character, such as the Naked Cowboy, who frequents the area.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at  Peter Luger’s Steak House in Willamsburg, Brooklyn, get the Porterhouse for Two (just be sure to bring a friend!)

New York  is my one stop shop for adventure, culture, diversity and vibrancy. “I want to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.”

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to any local pizza joint. Blue 9 has delicious burgers that will only run you about $5. Sweet Spring Restaurant, located in Chinatown, is a small take-out restaurant that serves up Chinese appetizers. Nothing on the menu is more than $5.

For a huge splurge, I go to  Daniel on 60th Street and Park.Daniel, owned by chef Daniel Boulud, is elegant and delicious with seasonal French cuisine and a swanky bar/lounge.

Radio City, new york, things to see and do, nancy d. brown

New York City is the place for adventure, culture and diversity.

Photo ops in New York include:

-          Top of the Rock Observation Desk

-          Empire State Building Observation Desk

-          Central Park 

-          Times Square

-          Union Square

-          Brooklyn Bridge

The best vantage points are taken at Top of the Rock. At 70 stories up you can see a 360 degree view of Manhattan’s skyline.  The iconic Empire State Building is always a must-visit for an aerial view of NYC. From the 102nd Floor Observatory you can see for miles.

The most random thing about New York is the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.  It is essentially a celebration of summer and one of New York City’s quirkiest events. Coney Island becomes packed and the boardwalk becomes filled with mermaids and various sea-creatures.

In New York an active day outdoors involves walking. You can walk anywhere in New York, including the streets and bridges. Newly sectioned off bike lanes also have made NYC more bicycle friendly.

My favorite walking route is either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge. There is something special and unique on both side of both bridges.

Take the staten island ferry in New York to see the statue of liberty and New York city skyline

Best Things to See and Do is the Staten Island Ferry to see New York’s skyline

New York’s best museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

-          The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue, along “Museum Mile” – a stretch of 22 blocks that features 10 museums – and is surrounded by Central Park.

-          The newly renovated MoMA, located in Midtown, is an impressive space with its various floors, modern design and outdoor garden area.

For a night of dancing, go to  The Meatpacking District.

Katz’s Delicatessen is the spot for late night dining. It is one of the oldest delis in Manhattan. Located in the trendy Lower East Side, Katz’s is the perfect late-night spot. On weekends it’s open until 2:45am and on weekdays until roughly 10/11pm. 

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read NY Magazine, Time Out NY.

In the spring you should attend the Bronx Botanical Garden – filled with budding flowers and exhibits.

In the summer you should attend Summerstage – a series of free outdoor concerts in Central Park. Coney Island is worth a day for a fun filled adventure, circus-like experience. Bite on a Nathan’s hotdog while strolling the beach/boardwalk.

In the fall you should visit  Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

In the winter you should go shopping on Fifth Avenue and see all the festive lights Visit Rockefeller Center to see the annual Christmas tree lighting and for ice-skating.

New York street sign, travel writer Nancy d. Brown

There are plenty of things to see and do in New York City – honking is not one of them.

A hidden gem in New York is Governors Island - an outdoor sanctuary. The island was founded in the 1600′s by the Dutch and built for the exclusive use of Governors during the colonial times. The Island is now a popular outdoor destination for biking, outdoor exhibits, concerts, picnics, and tours of the colonial houses.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Balthazar. It’s a famous French café located in the heart of SoHo. You can sit, or take out. It’s a perfect place to gather some fuel for a day of shopping in SoHo.

Just outside of New York city you can visit City Island. It’s  the perfect day-trip. Located at the very tip of the Bronx, you can go the beach, take a swim in the Long Island Sound and eat local seafood at the Lobster Box.  

The best way to see New York is to walk or take the Hop on Hop off Bus. NYC is easy to walk; the Subway is also very easy and accessible throughout the five boroughs.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Brooklyn Bridge Park’s brand new Pier 6 Playground. One of the largest playgrounds in all five boroughs, the recently opened area is home to large rope swings, a sprinkler system, and mountains to climb. While at the park, you can also admire the views of lower Manhattan, the Hudson River, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What are your favorite things to do in New York City?

Thanks to Francisca Ovalle and NYC The Official Guide for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Thanks to these travel bloggers for their New York City Insider Tips;

Jennifer Miner and Kara Williams: The Vacation Gals

Sherry Ott: Otts World

Donna L. Hull: My Itchy Travel Feet

Wendy Perrin: Conde Nast Traveler magazine and Truth.Travel blog

Gary Arndt: Everything Everywhere

Sheila Scarborough: Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff

Tiffany Dowd: Tiffany Travels

Trisha Miller: Travel Writers Exchange

Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Mary Ann Grisham: Enchanted Travel

Johnny Jet: JohnnyJet.com

Jill Robinson: Jill Robinson.com