green trees near lake
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Travel With Terri: USA 101

8 Ways to Experience Alaska

Alaska is one of the hottest destinations around these days. Road Trips and National Parks are the new buzz words in the travel industry. I think it’s safe to say that we are all going to be enjoying a lot more nooks and crannies of our country in these next few years as the travel and tourism industry dusts itself off and gets back on its feet. So, where do you even start? Well, when it comes to the ultimate American trip, I can think of no place better than Alaska!

glacier snow landscape mountains
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I always say it! When we are out traveling the world, don’t just look at it, do it! And Alaska is a paradise for those who like to join in and experience things first hand. Whether you choose to visit by cruise, RV rental, tour package, or in your own mini-van, Alaska has something for absolutely everyone! In fact, there are so many choices, you may not be able to get to all of them. So, grab the kids and Grandma! Check out this great list of 8 of the most family friendly activities that Alaska has to offer!

Animal watching in Denali National Park

Whether you know it as Denali or Mt. McKinley, this central point of Alaska and its surroundings never ceases to amaze! Once you are in the park, you can take on a hike on your own or jump on a school bus and enjoy a guided tour. Be prepared for a little ranger history and a few distant animals. If you’re lucky, you will get a chance to see the grand daddy of them all: the moose! This is definitely a trip to bring binoculars!

via GIPHY

Gold panning in the streams of Juneau

Step back in time and try your hand at a little gold panning in the shallows of the brisk streams that surround the area. Kids will love getting elbow deep as they search and scoop and dig for treasure. It’s a can’t miss!

via GIPHY

Whale watching in Glacier Bay National Park

While much of Alaska can be a bit overcast and gray, Glacier Bay sparkles! Learn about the glacier ice and catch a calving as the ice gives way to the water below. Watch the chunks of striped ice float by you and, if you are willing to get up early, you may run in to a pod of whales enjoying the morning light.

via GIPHY

Fishing in the waters off of Ketchikan

Whether you are a fresh water fisher or prefer the salt water, Alaska has something for everyone. I highly suggest a guide that will make the most of your time. Guides are also helpful in keeping you safe from uniquely Alaskan dangers like bars while you fly fish or whale bubble nets while you fish for salmon. Many guides also include the processing and shipping in their fees. Our salmon arrived perfectly packaged on our door step the day after we returned home. Brilliant!

via GIPHY

Salmon Bake in the woods

For an enchanting meal, try out a salmon bake. These outdoor venues nestle themselves in the woods and allows guests to get comfy around a campfire. We felt like little pixie fairies could show up at any time as we made s’mores. Watch out though, the squirrels are onto the marshmallows and may try to take one or two!

via GIPHY

Dog Sled Mushing and puppy hugging

Get ready to try out Alaska’s best sport! Dog Sledding! Having the chance to visit a dog sled camp is quite the treat. Most of the year, these amazing animal athletes are preparing for the Iditorad race. As a visitor, you can help out these furry friends by allowing them to pull you as they mush (you are a fraction of their winter haul). They are so excited when they know they are going to run! After that, socialize with the newest generation. They need to get to know lots of people in order to be successful on the race circuit. So, take a ride with the big dogs then go cuddle with the newest members of the pack- the puppies!.

via GIPHY

River Rafting on a glacial river

Zip up your dry suit and get ready for the thrill of a lifetime! Alaska has some of the best rapids going and they are picture perfect in the Summer months. The water is cold and the great rafting guides will take you through some of the most beautiful bush country Alaska has to offer. Be sure to ask about the expected rapids level so that you are comfortable with the activity level.

via GIPHY

Zip Lining in Talkeetna in Central Alaska

Talkeetna lies in central Alaska. This quirky town is a great day trip and has an excellent zip lining course. With a super family friendly attitude, you can spend the afternoon, zipping and repelling to your heart’s content. The finale of your course is a great over water run that will keep your heart racing! This is my mom taking on the long fly across! So much fun!

via GIPHY

Travel U for Kids

Travel U Library: Ancient Greece and Modern Italy

A doric column typical of ancient Greek architecture.
Photo by Josiah Lewis on Pexels.com

Thanks for joining us today for our Facebook Live Book Review . I truly love these particular books and hope you will too! Each of them contributes to make us all better global citizens. So, let’s dive in to 10 books about Italy and Greece for kids! Here are the Amazon links to all of today’s picks! Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

Italy ABC’s

An adorable tour through Italy’s icons awaits in this ABC book. Don’t expect the biggies like the Colloseum and the Duomo. Instead, the smaller gems like scooters and ziti take kids on a journey of the people and places that Italians connect with.

Mission Rome

Get ready! Get Set! Va! It’s time to earn as many points as you can while touring the eternal city. Use this handy book to study up before your trip and as a great activity while you are there. This series, written by a military family, has easy to follow rules and is just the thing parents need when things get a little overwhelming.

Rome City Trails

With more than 15 city trails to follow, you can learn everything from ancient times through modern daily living. City guides are published by Lonely Planet and are a great addition to help kids take a little ownership over trip plans and feel super included. Adults will enjoy many of the themes and kids will have fun tracking down the next place.

Cooking Rocks! 30 Minute Meals For Kids

What would Italy be without the food? I mean, really. If you are looking to help your picky eater expand their palette before your big adventure, may I suggest letting them choose a few easy recipes from Rachael Ray. With easy to follow directions, this book lets kids start to see what good ingredients are all about.

Ancient Wonders: Then and Now

Even as an adult, I sometimes have a difficult time looking at ancient ruins and getting a clear image in my mind of what it must have looked like. This Lonely Planet read is perfect for helping young minds wrap themselves around the giant piles of rocks that they are looking at. So helpful in both Rome and Athens.

Oh My Gods! Trilogy

If you’re going to Greece with kids, you’re going to need to brush up on the world’s first soap opera, Greek Mythology. And, oh my gods, those characters are up to all kinds of shenanigans! This set of books is a great reference guide to figure out the who’s who in this never ending drama. Having a good grasp on these stories can help young visitors relate to many sites and customs that they will come across. These look and explore books are just perfect for that.

The Greek News: Alexander Victorious!

Extra! Extra! Get the latest ancient headlines about all of your favorite Greeks! Alexander takes center stage here but there are plenty of other headlines that start to put together life from so long ago. It can be hard to understand ancient times, but books like this can be a wealth of information.

Z is for Zeus

From the famous ABC series, get ready for 26 stops through ancient Greece. Zeus was in charge of a lot of dramatic, moody people who all seemed to think they either knew better than everyone else or simply didn’t care how anybody else felt! From monsters to Trojan horses, this jam packed book will get you started on your Greek mythology journey.

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief

For older kids, although I’ve taught with this book as young as fourth grade, check out this epic adventure from Rick Riordan. Percy might just be another middle school fail but there are big forces at work around him. With Harry Potter like splendor (don’t rely on the movie here), Percy learns all about mythology as he discovers he is a demigod. One note of advice here: knowing the classic myths makes this adventure so much better. Consider dipping in to a few of those before reading chapter one.

Two Travel Bonus Books!

These are books that I bought while I was in Greece. Both are fantastic and I have used them in the classroom many times. The museum book is a great take on the actual construction while the Then and Now book is a more intricate look at ruins than the one listed above.

Building The New Acropolis Museum

Athens: Then and Now

Babcia and Yia Yia!, Travel With Terri: USA 101

South Carolina 101: Beaufort

Just 45 minutes off of I-95 sits little Beaufort in the low country of South Carolina. This southern charmer has all the small town vibes and plenty of historical features to make a perfect weekend getaway. Beaufort is locally known for plenty of things like good food and great artists but the one fact that will put the biggest smile on your face is that many scenes from Forest Gump were filmed in the area. This includes the big bridge over to Sea Island. Read on to find out our favorite picks (among many) to build your perfect weekend getaway!

via GIPHY

Downtown on Bay St.

Bay St. is the Main St. of this little town that is very proud to share the work of local artisans and talents of great kitchens. Park on either end and take stroll to check out great locally owned shops and galleries. Some of our favorites include:

  • Beaufort River Glass Company where you can find all kinds of glass art as well as plenty of low country prints and jewelry. Take a step inside and enjoy the recycled plastic bottle installation on the ceiling.
  • Rhett Gallery which has been in business and run by the same family of artists for 5 generations. This includes the man you’ll most likely find behind the counter, Thomas Rhett. If you are looking for great art representative of the local low country feel, this gallery is certainly for you! It will be hard to walk away without a little Rhett family treasure.
  • Beaufort Emporium has plenty of little finds and our absolute favorite was a table toward the back with books that are wrapped up. Choose one off the table, read the little summary on the label and then have a blind date with a new book! So fun!
  • McIntosh Books and Nevermore Books will both delight and inspire you to keep on reading. Featuring local celebrity author Pat Conroy of Prince of Tides fame, these book shops do a great job of keeping the good read alive.
  • Bay St. Outfitters connects visitors to the outdoors and has everything that you could need to enjoy all the low country has to offer.
  • Olive The Above greets you with plenty of artisanal olive oils and balsamic vinegars. With flavors like peach and balsamic and rosemary infused olive oil, there’s something for everyone from this female owned business.
  • Atelier Off Bay is the local artist’s collective. With 14 artists in residence it’s hard not to find that perfect piece that speaks to you.

Restaurants

Please note that these areas tend to be very very busy on Fridays and Saturdays as the influx of visitors spikes significantly over each weekend.

  • Q on Bay serves up plenty of main street menu items and has a back patio to enjoy the view and the live music. While the tables may need an updating but the pleasant service makes up for it.
  • Saltus Grill is by far our favorite pick for upscale dining. Every seasonal thing on the menu is well worth the order! Enjoy the atmosphere inside or outside.
  • Paninis in the old bank is perfect for a quick bite during the day. Look for simple lunch items and a look at the old bank building.

Outdoors

Hunting Island State Park

Look to the right as you come onto the island and check out Gay Shrimp Co. Forest Gump calls this area home. Everything from the shrimp boats to Vietnam were all done in this location. Be sure to take a walk along the pier and enjoy the nature center as well.

a man who s on the wooden boat
Photo by Daniel Anuar on Pexels.com

ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to see some local nature and to introduce yourself to the African American history of the low country.

Spanish Moss Trail: take advantage of the sunny weather and rent a few bikes from University Bikes or Low Country Bike Rentals to enjoy this trail that starts at the train depot and takes you either north or south to see a little more of this low country land.

Coastal Expeditions will get you out on the water whether you’d like to take a sunset cruise or charter a boat for the day. Located downtown on Bay St., it’s an easy process to set up a little fun on the bay.

Rainy Day Options

Every Second Counts Escape Room has plenty of escape room fun. Choose from any of the 5 themed rooms and try your luck at finding every clue in under 60 minutes. It’s a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon!

Beaufort History Museum learn a little about this area that was first found by old world explorers over 311 years ago. This amazing area has had its ups and downs and this little rainy day stop will tell you all about it! Check it out!

Lowcountry Produce Company

Be sure to stop in to this lovely establishment just north of town on Highway 21. It is, by far, the best breakfast in the area. While you are there check out all of the local fare ready for you to take home. It’s all canned in the back! Our fave? The sweet cucumber pickles will knock your socks off! So, go. Sit a spell! It’s totally worth it!

The Few, The Proud…

So, I can’t lie. I really never went to Beaufort because I thought it was a great travel destination. But don’t be deceived, I went there out of love! Beaufort’s next door neighbor is Parris Island. Home to the few and the proud. The United States Marines have been turning out recruits in this neck of the woods for over 100 years. And… you guessed it! My son is among their numbers.

The Parris Island Museum

Parris Island is open for visitors who would like to check out the museum and old fort ruins. Simply check in to the gate toward the right and ask for directions to the areas open for visiting.

Beaufort offers something for everyone and can be the perfect plan for a long lazy weekend to somewhere new! So, enjoy!