A Walk in the Woods in Blackford County

A Walk in the Woods in Blackford County

It’s time for another Explore Indiana adventure. This time, I grabbed my son (he’s a great travel partner) and we took off for Hartford City. Hartford City is the largest city in Blackford County. I have to admit, this adventure made me a little nervous as I couldn’t find much on the area online. Would this be my first “fail” in proving there is something to do wherever you are? As we made our way to Blackford, we drove by numerous cornfields and farmhouses. It was an absolutely beautiful day – low 80’s, blue skies and no humidity. I couldn’t ask for better exploring weather. As we tend to do, our first stop was downtown. The courthouse in Hartford City was beautiful in a very different way than most of the ones I’ve recently seen. This one was built in 1893 – 1895. It’s called a Richardsonian Romanesque style. To get a feel for the size, the clock tower is 165 feet – so it definitely towered over the rest of downtown. Sadly, this downtown area was pretty deserted. There weren’t really any shops and only one local restaurant that we could see. Many boarded-up buildings. It’s really too bad as the architecture of the buildings was beautiful – I imagine it was a lovely downtown square at one time. Just a block from the square is a very interesting building that houses the Old Blackford County Jail and a speakeasy. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we visited. Supposedly it’s haunted! If I’m passing back through I’ll make a point to stop if it’s open as it looked...
Las Vegas with Teens?

Las Vegas with Teens?

Thinking of taking your teens to Las Vegas? When I think of Las Vegas, I think of an adult vacation. We’ve been going to Vegas every summer for our annual “grown-up” trip without fail and have always promised the kids we would take them when they turn 21. So why on earth did we take them with us this summer? Would I do it again? What in the world did we do to entertain them? Why we chose to take our kids Last year around Christmas time, we discovered that my daughter’s all-time favorite band (Aerosmith) was going to be playing in Las Vegas. She immediately began a campaign to see them live. Her arguments were reasonable (it’s all I want for Christmas and my birthday; Steven Tyler is 71, who knows how much longer they are touring, it’s a super small venue so it’ll be a great show, etc.). As we also love Aerosmith, we decided to give in and booked a trip. I will say I had a lot of trepidation on this one – I’ve never thought of Las Vegas as a family-friendly location, although I do know many families who love it. We picked a summer date for the concert and then built the trip around it. Luckily for us, the new ParkMGM (old Monte Carlo) was doing some really amazing room deals, and that is the location of the theater, so we were able to snag a great rate on an excellent room. We were on our way … What to do with teens in Las Vegas Our normal Las Vegas trip consists of...
Why Local Breweries are the Best

Why Local Breweries are the Best

If you’ve followed me for any length of time (especially on Instagram), it’s pretty apparent that I’m a huge fan of local breweries. What’s funny is that aside from sours, I really don’t like beer … So what’s up with that? I’m sharing my top 5 reasons as to why I love local breweries and see if I can’t convince the other non-beer lovers out there to check them out too: The food. In general, I’ve found the food at local breweries to be top-notch. Many of them have the same philosophy with food as they do with beer – keep it local when possible and make it tasty. When the brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, they often offer food trucks, and who doesn’t enjoy a good food truck? The atmosphere. Comfortable seating, friendly bartenders and servers, plenty of board games to play. A few of my favorites even offer outdoor games like cornhole or comfy sofa areas when you just want to enjoy a drink and relax. If you are lucky, they brew the beer on site and you might get a chance to check out the process or learn a bit about their philosophy. The fun. It seems like there is something going on most nights. Trivia, Bingo, Open Mic nights, even craft nights – we’ve enjoyed all of these at several of our local breweries. I’m a fan of not just going out to dinner but doing dinner WITH entertainment. A local brewery will have that covered. The drinks. I’ve only been to one local brewery that didn’t offer something for the non-beer drinker. Many times...
BEST local coffee shops North of Indy

BEST local coffee shops North of Indy

Love coffee? Me too. In fact, one of my favorite lounging around shirts has the saying “Coffee ’til Cocktails” on the front. Pretty much sums it up for me! Although I do like Starbucks, what I really enjoy is checking out local coffee shops. We will even often add that to our vacation itineraries as an afternoon treat. So you can bet, I’ve explored all the coffee shops near me. Today I’m sharing my favorites located North of Indianapolis. Noble Coffee & Tea – this one is just a mile from my house and right downtown on the charming Noblesville square so it’s definitely a favorite. For years, I would take my kids there for “coffee shop day” before school started once a week so this place has lots of great memories for me. It has two rooms with plenty of seating for working or meeting with friends. My teen daughter and her friends love to hang out at this coffee shop and study for finals or summer school. Of course, the coffee is excellent AND they have Circle City Kombucha on tap. Yum! Indie Coffee Roasters – right on the edge of downtown Carmel, the vibe in this coffee shop is relaxing but a little edgy. The coffee is strong and bold which I love. The decor is a bit industrial and I’m a huge fan of the outside patio. It’s a little far for me for regular visits, but if I’m near Carmel I’ll definitely stop by! Della Leva – I found this coffee shop during a recent promotion of my 5-Day Add More Adventure to Your...
Dinner & a Movie – Small Town Style!

Dinner & a Movie – Small Town Style!

Is a movie and dinner your standard date night? Or a typical weekend outing for the family? We actually only do dinner and a movie a few times a year, but recently we decided to not just complete this common night out, but kick it up a notch by enjoying it in a nearby small town. Since I love old theaters (my current favorite is the Artcraft in Franklin), we decided it was time to introduce the kids to the Diana in Tipton, IN. Tipton is a small town of around 6,000 just 30 minutes north of Indianapolis. The Diana has been showing movies since 1926 and has been family owned the whole time. There is only one theater, but the shows change frequently. Typically the Diana will show one movie for a week or two, with two showings a night at 7 and 9:30. They are all first-run movies. The best way to discover what is playing is to call the theater or check out their Facebook page. We were lucky that Aladdin was showing the night we decided to go. It is a movie I had been wanting to see and although my family doesn’t all love going to the movies, they do all love adventures and since this wasn’t our normal local theater, they were in for the experience. Our goal was to hit the 7:00 show and have dinner before. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten it does take some time to drive up there, so it was a movie first and THEN dinner. Thank goodness the prices at the Diana are amazing. I was able to offer...
Take Your Dog

Take Your Dog

In the mood to spend a day exploring but only have a few free hours?  Why? Because there is no one to let the dog out.  Ever happened to you? We love our dog, but he does cramp our style. When there have been weeks where it seems like he has been alone too much – or we just find ourselves with a full free day and want to run around without having to stop back home mid-day, we find a way to bring him along. It’s a little more work but can definitely lead to a fun and different way to spend the day. Luckily there are many places these days that allow dogs.  I’ve had good luck at local restaurants and breweries or wineries with outdoor seating, parks of course; ice cream shops, coffee shops, farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and sometimes an outdoor tourist attraction (like a walking tour – self-guided or not). A few tips to make for an easy day: Call ahead to make sure your pup is allowed. Combine a variety of activities – some food, some walking, maybe just some hanging out Check the weather – nothing worse than a wet dog in the car! Be a good dog owner – bring along water and poop bags and pick up after your dog Ready for an example?  If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a fun day with your dog: The day must start with coffee, right?  Luckily most coffee and bagel shops are happy to have your dog join you. Once everyone is fully charged, a little walking seemed like...

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