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101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 4 of 4

I’d rather pay for experiences than hoard a “rich deposit” of materialistic goods that will sit around most of the time collecting dust.  Yes, I need and want basic items to satisfy my likes, values, desires, habits and hobbies, but after a while a lot of possessions will start to control ones mind.  I’m wealthy but not rich.  Being wealthy is more rewarding and satisfying.

When Meridith Jumisko compiled the list of 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area for the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, I had to share.  There is a wealth of knowledge one will gain by experiencing these attractions and events that will not break the bank.  Shed the rich man mindset to become truly wealthy.

76. Create art in the Clay Studio at Lemon Street Gallery! Clay costs $3 per pound

77. Also see incredible art at Re:Vision Gallery, Pollard Gallery, Anderson Arts Center,Kenosha Art Association,Carthage College, and UW-Parkside! FREE

78. Enjoy a scenic bike ride on the Pike Bike Trail or the Kenosha County Bike Trail.FREE

Even the dogs enjoy the Kenosha Harbor Market. Photo by The Walking Traveler

79. Mikey’s features a new menu with gourmet Hot Dogs, create-your-own pizza, and more! Prices vary

80. Find your favorite childhood video game and try it out at Inner Child Comics & Collectibles. Many under $10 /FREE to try

81. Exhibitors bring samples, brochures, giveaways, and smiles to the I-94 Visitor Information Center for First Fridays.FREE

82. Pick up a homemade Bloody Mary mix or lemonade mix at Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pies, who offer more than pies and jams! $6.50/$8.50

83. Hike 4.2 miles of trails at KD Park. FREE

84. Checkmate! Play chess or checkers at the chess tables in Fox River Park; bring your own pieces. FREE

85. Take time to enjoy the distinctive wall murals, unique hand-painted storefront signs, and amazing historic architecture in Downtown Kenosha! FREE

86. Visit Abe! Library Park is home to an Abraham Lincoln statue, as well as the Kenosha County Soldiers’ Monument “Winged Victory”. FREE

87. Take a selfie by the red 1906 Pierhead Lighthouse.FREE

88. A slice of Kenosha nightlife can be found at Fusion, a Downtown performing arts venue. Some events FREE

89. At Scoops Ice Cream, ask for the Badger Brownie: two scoops of ice cream on a warm chocolate chunk brownie, with many toppings! $5.75

90. Aspiring young paleontologists will dig this: Dino Digs are held most Saturday andSunday afternoons at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. FREE

91. Bring the kids to the Field Station inside the Kenosha Public Museum, where they can explore the arts and sciences in this popular hands-on activity area. FREE

92. Labor Day weekend includes Cheese-A-Palooza (Sept 3-4), the Downtown Kenosha Classic Cruise-In Car Show (Sept 3), and the 14th Annual Car Show To Benefit Our Wounded Warriors (Sept 4). FREE for spectators

93. All ages enjoy getting artsy at Alpaca Art Pottery Painting. $7 studio fee plus the cost of your pottery ($3+)

Street Festivals are better when live music hits the air. Photo by The Walking Traveler

94. At NovelTea Bookstore, you can purchase 2 oz. packaged loose leaf tea in a variety of flavors. Most under $10; average price $7

95. Meet internationally-known cartoonists during the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning,Sept 15-17. FREE

96. Enjoy a picnic at Wolfenbuttel Park, next to Lake Michigan. FREE

97. Electric Streetcars are celebrated during Kenosha Streetcar Day on Sept 17!  $1 & under fare

98. You can’t go to Brat Stop without having the Famous Charcoal Grill Original Bratwurst served with chips! $6.99

99. You’ll find the Lilli Soapworks product line at A Summer’s Garden Florist. These soaps are handmade in Kenosha with shea butter. $5.50

100. Enjoy a delicious made-from-scratch soup in the outdoor Garden of Eatin’ at The Coffee Pot. $2-4

101. The famous “backroom” offers amazing savings at the Jockey Factory Store in Downtown Kenosha. Get a $10 off coupon in the FREE 2016 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide

Thank you again Meridith for your help over the past couple of years.

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 2 of 4

The sun is shining on this early Sunday morning here in Kenosha.  The air is chilly but the temperature is going to rise into the low 60’s…we’ll see.  A walk will be in order this afternoon.  Yesterday we had on and off snow and sun with temps in the 30’s.  Typical Midwest weather in April.  With the sun shining down upon this town, I’m going to jump right in and share part 2 of 101 Things To See And Do for $10 & Under in Kenosha, WI.  Thank you to the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for your continued cooperation.

Fountain outside the Kenosha Public Museum.
Fountain outside the Kenosha Public Museum.

26. At Mike’s Donuts & Chicken, enjoy oversized donuts with wild and unique toppings and fillings! $1-3

27. The get bEHIND the aRTS Studio Tour takes place April 24 in Kenosha. $5 suggested donation

28. Travel back to yesteryear aboard one of Kenosha’s seven authentic Electric Streetcars! $1 & under

29. Walk, bike, or drive through Kenosha’s four historic districts. FREE

30. Stroll through the Kenosha Sculpture Walk, which runs along the harbor and features nearly a dozen inspiring works of art. FREE

31. Gather your friends and enjoy Kenosha Craft Beer Week at PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. and more businesses, May 16-22. Prices vary

32. Golf nine holes for a deal after 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and after 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday atPetrifying Springs Golf Course and Brighton Dale Links. $10

33. Between May and September, Bristol 45 Diner hosts a car show on the first, third, and fifth Monday evenings of the month. FREE

34. Hold on to your kite! It’s the Outta Sight Kite Flight, June 4-5. FREE

35. Admission is free to Richard Bong State Recreation Area on June 5 for the Family Nature Faire. FREE

36. Enjoy free cheese samples, along with free photo ops (i.e. giant outdoor sign, Isabella the 60-year-old cow, the giant mouse) at Mars’ Cheese Castle. FREE

37. Go Fish! For Free! No fishing licenses are needed June 4-5 in Wisconsin during Summer Free Fishing Weekend!FREE 

The Kenosha Electric Streetcar takes visitors on a tour through dwontown Kenosha.
The Kenosha Electric Streetcar takes visitors on a tour through downtown Kenosha.

38. Splish! Splash! Fly down the 200-foot long water slide at Washington Park Pool or Anderson Park Pool. $5 & under

39. Pretend it’s the 1950s as car hops serve you at Big Star Drive-In and The Spot Drive-In! Prices vary

40. Outdoor Music At The Lake I: Enjoy the Kenosha Pops on Wednesday evenings at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell, mid-June to early August. FREE

41. Outdoor Music At The Lake II: Experience the Twilight Jazz Concert Series on the lawn of Anderson Arts Center – June 28; July 5, 19, 26; and Aug 30. FREE

42. Outdoor Music At The Lake III: Peanut Butter & Jam concerts happen twice every Thursday, July 7 – Aug 25.FREE

43. Outdoor Music At The Lake IV: Enjoy a variety of music during Tuesdays At The Shell, July 12 – Aug 30. FREE

44. Uke’s Harley-Davidson is Wisconsin’s oldest H-D dealership. Explore its roots at their on-site museum! FREE

45. Celebrate some of the finest Civil War soldiers of the Midwest – the famous Iron Brigade. June 11-12 isSalute to Freedom. FREE

46. Take the family out to breakfast on the farm! TheKenosha County Dairy Breakfast is June 18. $6 & under

47.See the largest suspension staircase in the state – inside Kemper Center’s Durkee Mansion (open for tours, April – October). FREE

48. Visit Linnea Bakery in Downtown Kenosha or at its new second location inside Southwest Library for Scandinavian treats! Prices Vary

49. Pause and reflect at the Veteran’s Memorial Fountain and Lone Soldier Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.FREE

50. On Saturday mornings, you can join the Bike Shop at Southport Rigging on its 26-mile Weekly Common Grounds Coffee Ride. FREE

Don’t forget to visit Kenosha, WI if you are driving along the Chi-Waukee corridor along I-94.

 

A Unique Castle in the U.S. Midwest

One thing a traveler won’t see is a moat surrounding this castle. The cool windy air blows the flags in a northerly direction as the ‘KEEP’ casts a shadow down on the entrance. Two black chains attached above and on either side of the main entryway curve down to meet the top of the drawbridge. As I approach the stone structure, the sliding glass doors open. The cold chill my body feels is immediately replaced with the warmth of being inside the Great Room.

Inside the walls of this fortress made of 20,227 concrete blocks, I do not find a King presiding over his people or knights donning their armor and shields ready to go into battle. There is no princess with her long hair and three-piece gown walking with her entourage to be found. Warming my hands in my pockets, I walk towards the ‘KEEP’. Lining the walls of the dominate feature of this castle are hundreds of bottles of wine standing at attention. “Well this would be fitting for a king,” I say to myself as bottles of the nectar of the gods stare me down.

The Mars Cheese Castle is located at I-94 and State 142. Due to its location right off the highway, many travelers along the interstate stop to fill their cheese orders and get their fix of all things cheese.
The Mars Cheese Castle is located at I-94 and State 142. Due to its location right off the highway, many travelers along the interstate stop to fill their cheese orders and get their fix of all things cheese.

A mysterious force tries to keep me trapped in this glorious room, but I find the strength to move on. Weaving through the displays on the floor, I enter the bakery where my nose picks up the scent of fresh bread. “Hmmm, wine and bread,” I say, “This is getting better and better.” After a few sniffs of the fresh aroma of this famous cheese bread, I turn around to continue my exploration inside the kingdom.

In the distance, a gathering is taking place in the barroom. Walking towards the revelry, I am feeling at ease and welcome. “I will head in there later,” I say softly to myself. In time, the festivities of the main gathering room will be calling me. Turning towards the front of the Great Room, it’s time to visit the area of the castle that places this historic landmark on the national map – the cheese room.

On their way back to Illinois, Rachel, Brooke and Lauren (left-right) pose with Isabella the Holstein cow.
On their way back to Illinois, Rachel, Brooke and Lauren (left-right) pose with Isabella the Holstein cow.

Standing at the entrance leading into the cheese and sausage deli is Isabella the Holstein cow. I will soon learn that she is adored and loved by all. Knowing this, I feel it is safe to say, Isabella is royalty. I tap her head and admire her posture while looking at the wooden barrel standing on end with a display of Tuxford & Tebbutt’s genuine mature Irish cheddar cheese. Picking up a toothpick, I stab the soft and creamy cube and place it in my mouth. Surveying the room, I see multiple barrels strategically in place displaying various cheeses ready to delight my palate.

With the toothpick lingering in my mouth I gaze around to see refrigeration cases stocked full of hundreds of varieties of cheeses. From mild cheddars to sharp provolone, cheeses in the shape of a glass of beer, a cow and a castle, I understand why The Mars Cheese Castle is a Wisconsin landmark.

Chi-Town: A Few of the Lesser Known Places

“Blog Post Type: Cities Less Traveled”

Chicago has many nicknames known throughout the world, all being embraced by the locals. “Second City” (the locals will say no way to being second except for the comedy troupe), “Chi-Town,” “Chicagoland” (inclusion of the suburbs), “Hog Butcher to the World,” and “The Windy City” (because of the weather, the World’s Fair of 1890, the rivalry with Cincinnati in the 1860’s and ’70’s, or the long-winded politicians? It’s up to you, the reader, to decide).

Downtown Chicago

Photo by travelbug via Trover.com

No matter the nickname, Chicagoans are hard-working, extremely passionate about their city, and very welcoming to everyone. Imagine a heartwarming welcome of relatives into your home – this is Chicago to the rest of the world. Many outsiders are familiar with Chicago’s sports teams, its skyscrapers, and geography along Lake Michigan. Deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches are masterpieces of the city’s food scene. Made up of 77 different neighborhoods, Chicago offers so much more than just these well-known foods and attractions. Here are some experiences locals would encourage travelers to engage in while in Chi-Town.

Street Scenes and Markets

Chicago is host to year-round cultural events, festivals, street markets, and street fairs. Famous among them are Taste of Chicago, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the annual green dying of the Chicago River, and the Chicago Blues Festival. These special events last no longer than a few days up to a week in any given year. For a year round festival celebration look no further than the Randolph Street Market.

West Loop

Photo by Erin… via Trover.com

This European style indoor-outdoor market is an umbrella host to the Indie Designer Market, Modern Vintage Chicago, Chicago Antique Market, and the Holiday Market. Dubbed “the mecca of cool,” “the best hot spot for antiquing,” and “the best Chicago venue for people watching,” the Randolph Street Market is the place to see and be seen in Chicago. If you want to shop, eat, drink, and browse on the last Saturday and Sunday of every month, you’ve come to the right place. Dozens of vendors, thousands of collectibles, live music, and some of Chicago’s finest food served all within a few blocks is a party worthy of attending.

Chicago is Picnic Friendly

The Osaka Garden (a short walk south of the Museum of Science and Industry), Lincoln Park Conservatory, Grant Park, and Chicago Lake Front Path are just a few places to enjoy a summer picnic. But if you are traveling to Chicago and will be spending time in the Loop, head over to Millennium Park. Pack a picnic basket full of your favorite goodies (don’t forget a bottle of wine and glasses), spread out a blanket, and enjoy free music at Pritzker Pavilion. After the sun goes down, music lovers are surrounded by lights from some of Chicago’s famous skyscrapers with the stars shining from above. There is no better place for a picnic in Chicago than here.

Pritzker Pavilion

Photo by Eagrick via Trover.com

Staying at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown offers easy access to all of Chicago’s attractions, both big and small. Whether bar hopping, museum trekking or restaurant crawling, staying in the heart of the financial district will put you in the center of one of the most diverse cities in the world.

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

 

Where The Locals Go – Leuven, Belgium

The next spotlight in my series is with my friend Sofie Couwenbergh who resides in the Belgium town of Leuven.  Leuven, the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium is known for two features travelers will enjoy – being a “student city” and having a lively bar scene.  Leuven has the bragging rights of having the “longest bar” in Europe where dozens can be found jammed in the center square.  This city has a rich beer culture, is known for its summer rock festivals, premiere orchestras and is home to the oldest Catholic university still in existence.  Sofie, if someone is traveling through this historic city and wanted to experience local spots: where do the locals go?

TWT: Every destination has a local hotspot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere? Why do locals go there?

SC: There are several, but for me it’s De Werf. De Werf is a tavern targeting a student audience, meaning it’s pretty cheap. That’s not all that’s great about it though. Every meal and even every drink is presented in an original way and the tavern has a large terrace where you can sit in the sun in summer or under heaters in winter.

TWT: Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her? What are some of the dishes you would recommend? How is the ambience?

SC: Well a typical dish all over Belgian is fries. Not just any kind of fries though, but fries from a proper “frietkot”, which is like a little shack (not a proper building) where they only sell fries and fried meats. If my friend is a beer drinker, she’d have to try Stella Artois. It’s the local beer of Leuven and you can even smell the brewery when you enter the city by train.

Leuven

TWT: Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations. Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work? Where can travelers go for these experiences?

SC: There are two places, depending on what you like. Art Center STuK features a lot of contemporary artists who are active in different fields: installations, performance art, theater… Museum M exhibits work from more established artists, both of bygone eras and of the modern age.

TWT: What are some of the more popular festivals in town? Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month? What time of the year do they take place? Where can travelers go to find out more information?

SC: Very popular are the Beleuvenissen, although I used to like them better before. Before they were held the first four Fridays of July and each Friday would be a different theme: folk, rock, tropical, pop… On each of those nights bands playing the music genre of that Friday would play all over the city and you could walk from stage to stage. Now, however, they’ve made the festival much more mainstream. It now takes place on three different dates in summer and the artists performing there are mostly Belgian artists you can see on every other festival in the country. It’s a real shame.

TWT: If travelers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?

SC: It depends on what you mean by “recreational”, as that’s quite a broad term. Just outside the city center, in Kessel-Lo, there’s a provincial domain with playing grounds, a pond, a petanque field and more. When the weather’s bad you can go to sports center Sportplaza where you can follow all kinds of group classes, go swimming or work out in gym.

Leuven

TWT: Many travelers pick destinations that offer voluntourism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities. What types of opportunities exist in your area?

SC: There’s not one big organization that comes to mind, but most of the cultural centers in Leuven do work with volunteers. Even some of the sport centers do. If you’re interested in volunteering or something alike, best thing you can do is search for organisations that are active in the field that interests you and just ask if you can lend them a hand.

TWT: I know travelers like certain forms of transportation. Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace. What is the best way for travelers to get around town?

SC: By foot or bike, really. With about 40,000 students as temporary citizens of Leuven, our small provincial town can get pretty crowded. The city also does whatever she can to keep cars out of the center and that center isn’t that big at all. You can easily walk to all the main sights or walk from one side of the main center to the other in about an hour.

TWT: For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travelers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors?

SC: We actually live right outside the city center, next to Heverlee Woods. This is a large forest where people come to walk their dog, go for a run or mountain bike. There’s not much to see as it really is just a forest with walking lanes, but that’s exactly what’s nice about it.

Leuven

TWT: Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch. Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?

SC: Depending on what kind of people you want to watch and what kind of bars you enjoy, the Grand Place (Grote Markt) and the Old Market (Oude Markt) are where you need to be. They’re located practically next to each other, so you can just move from one to the other as well. On the terraces of the bars at the Grand Place, most people will be 35+. The taverns are a bit more fancy and all offer both food and drinks. It’s a popular spot to go for dinner as well. The Old Market is where the students and younger people go. You’ll mostly find real bars here, or places that also offer food but don’t focus on dining. The Old Market offers a bigger variety in bars: from reggae over rock and Belgian music to pop and from dark bars where people only order beer and cola to trendy places where cocktails and wine go around.

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If you are traveling through the country, are on a budget and like the college scene while enjoying a quality beer, Leuven is the city for you.  You can experience the city in a few days, but the lively food and drink scene may keep you here a few weeks.  This is good because you will get to mingle with the locals which will enhance your traveling experience.

Sofie is a freelance writer and founder of the travel blog Wonderful Wanderings. After more than four years of working for the boss she quit her stable, full time job to create a career of her own and search for her place in this world. On that quest she explores her home country Belgium, where the roots of her old lifestyle lie, and compares her findings with what she finds around the world. That way she hopes to forge her own path and inspire others to do the same.

Where The Locals Go – Providence, Rhode Island

Today I welcome Tamara Gruber from Providence, Rhode Island.  Located at the head of the Narragansett Bay with The Providence River running through the center of the city, Providence, once known as the “Beehive of Industry” has in recent years rebranded itself as the “Creative Capital” due to the many institutions of higher learning and arts community.  Tamara, share with my readers – where do the locals go?TWT: Every destination has a local hot spot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere?  Why do locals go there?

TG: I’d have to say that Providence’s Downtown is where to be (and it was just named America’s #2 Downtown by Livability.com.) During Waterfire, which is an open air exhibit consisting of over 80 bonfires on the river running through the heart of downtown, thousands of locals and visitors alike gather to see street performers, listen to the haunting music, walk along the river front, enjoy jazz and salsa bands, sample local foods, and even do some fresh air ballroom dancing. While it is reminiscent of Venice with its candlebra-lit arched bridges and gondolas gliding through the river, there really is nothing like it. You just never know what you’ll find happening downtown. My nephew recently visited during a FirstWorks festival and we witnessed the Bandaloops “dancing” and twirling down the face of a eight story building while flashmobs, roller derby, and graffiti artists were performing elsewhere.

TWT: Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her?  What are some of the dishes you would recommend?  How is the ambiance?

TG: My favorite restaurant in Providence is Bacaro, which is an Italian restaurant and salumeria. It is a lively, two-story restaurant right on the Waterfront in an old, classic brick building in the historic part of town. Downstairs is the bar and deli case showcasing their cased meats and cheeses. Upstairs it is a little quieter with a view of the open kitchen and the river. The wood-grilled, paper thin-crusted Margherita pizza qualifies in the “best thing I ever ate” category but you really can’t go wrong with anything. In addition to the menu, they offer a wide selection of charcturie and hot and cold small plates, making it a perfect place for sharing with a group. I highly recommend the pork belly from the hot tapas menu and the Pasta con i funghi, which is a homemade tagliatelle pasta with mushrooms, butter and a truffle-egg on top. Delicious! For dessert, plan ahead and order the fruit crisp at the beginning of the meal because it takes 20 to 40 minutes to make.

TWT: Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations.  Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work?  Where can travelers go for these experiences? 

TG: Providence is the home of Rhode Island School of Design so you will have ample opportunity to see the very vibrant art scene. On the third Thursday of every month galleries across the city open their doors for a free “Gallery Night” event. You can also see thousands of pieces of fine art every day at the RISD museum. There are a variety of theater choices including Trinity Rep, the Gamm Theater, Providence Performing Arts Center (which hosts touring Broadway shows) and Vets Memorial, home to the RI Philharmonic Orchestra. For more live music, you can check out the schedule of Lupos Heartbreak Hotel or any number of other clubs in the area.

TWT: What are some of the more popular festivals in town?  Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month?  What time of the year do they take place?  Where can travelers go to find out more information?

TG: The most popular festival is certainly Waterfire, which takes place on various evenings (mostly weekends) from May to October. In addition, there is the FirstWorks Festival (which doesn’t take place at any regular times), and other neighborhood street fairs and festivals. For more information, travelers should look at goprovidence.com or Waterfire.org.

TWT: If travelers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?

TG: Providence offers an excellent bike path that goes along the East Bay down to Bristol, RI (home of the nation’s oldest 4th of July celebration) with excellent water views.  People also enjoy running or walking along the Blackstone Boulevard in Providence’s East Side, a two lane street with a greenway in the middle. Families might enjoy the playground at Lippitt Park or picking up some fresh produce at the Saturday Farmer’s Market located there. Nearby there is also rock climbing (indoor at RockSpot Gym or outdoor at Lincoln Woods), kayaking along the Blackstone River, or visiting one of the many beaches that give Rhode Island the name of Ocean State.

Caffe Dolce Vita
Caffe Dolce Vita

TWT: Many travelers pick destinations that offer voluntourism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities.  What types of opportunities exist in your area?

TG: Save the Bay is an organization geared to cleaning up the Narragansett Bay and shoreline. They offer volunteer opportunities for beach clean ups and also Seal Watch tours that educate people about the wildlife in the Bay.

TWT: I know travelers like certain forms of transportation.  Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace.   What is the best way for travelers to get around town? 

TG: Providence is a really easy city to get around. If you are up to a few hills, it is very walkable. In fact, it was named a Top 10 Most Walkable City by The Huffington Post. If you are coming from out of town, it is very easy to drive in the city and many restaurants offer valet parking. The Amtrak and MBTA trains come right into downtown Providence, which is then walkable to the local bus depot. Lyft, a car service startup, also just began operating in Providence. Finally, if you are flying into TF Green Airport or taking the train, there are Zipcars around the city if you needs wheels for just a short period of time.

TWT: For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travelers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors?

TG: My suggestion would  be to get out of downtown and visit Roger Williams Park, which is a 427-acre park in Providence that houses a zoo, natural history museum, botanical gardens, boathouse, carousel, and much more. If they want to go further afield, I would recommend biking either the East Bay Bikepath or the Blackstone Valley Bikeway. Lastly, I’d head to the beach, probably Charlestown State Beach after the crowds have gone and walk along the beach looking for driftwood.

TWT: Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch.  Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?

TG: Everywhere! Rhode Island was founded on principles of diversity and religious freedom. It is an up and coming city with strong racial, ethnic and social-economic diversity. Plus the addition of Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University adds that funky, college town feel to it. I’d check out the Providence Flea — a flea market that takes place on the grass near the river on South Water Street and is more artsy/craftsy/antiques than junk, one of the outdoor farmer’s markets, go to a Brown or Providence Bruins hockey game, take in a Pawtucket Red Sox game, walk around Providence Place Mall, or hang out in DePasquale Square on Federal Hill, Providence’s Little Italy.

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Claimed to be founded on seven hills, geographically compact and easily accessible by foot, travelers have an opportunity to experience Providence’s culture, arts and food scene all within a 20 mile radius.  With the downtown area being the main attraction that offers an abundance of waterfront activities to heightening your senses with its vibrant art scene, travelers will experience modern day Providence while walking through the richness of one of the oldest cities in the United States.

Tamara is a family travel blogger at We3Travel.com (link http://www.we3travel.com). A NJ-native, she moved from NYC to RI with her husband in 2002 and can’t believe they are still there!

You can contact Tony Toto a.k.a. The Walking Traveler at thewalkingtraveler@gmail.com

 

Where The Locals Go – Innsbruck, Austria

The next spotlight in my series is with Irene and Stefano from Innsbruck, Austria.  Located in the Inn Valley, Innsbruck is the capital city of the federal state of Tyrol and is internationally known for its winter sports.  If you are an adventurer who enjoys outdoor sports and recreation, Innsbruck has many opportunities for you to experience thrills of all sorts.  Where do the locals go in Innsbruck?

TWT: Every destination has a local hot spot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere?  Why do locals go there?

I & S: Innsbruck’s town centre is its hot spot! The old town and Maria-Theresien-Straße are closed for traffic and boast countless cafés and restaurants. The atmosphere is relaxed and it is a great place to enjoy the sun and a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

TWT: Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her?  What are some of the dishes you would recommend?  How is the ambiance? 

I & S: Innsbruck has an incredible number of traditional Tyrolean restaurants where you can enjoy authentic cuisine. Our recommendations for a rustic ambiance are the Kranebitterhof (on the outskirts of Innsbruck), Theresienbräu (in Maria-Theresien-Straße), which even brews its own beer, and the Tiroler Bauernkeller (in Meinhardstraße).

Must-try dishes include Schnitzel (breaded veal or pork butterfly cut), Gröstl (roasted potatoes with ham or meat) and Käsespätzle (dough “noodles” with cheese and roasted onions).

TWT: Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations.  Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work?  Where can travelers go for these experiences? 

I & S: We can recommend the (mostly alternative) concerts at the Treibhaus and the iconic Weekender club. High-quality theatre productions can be enjoyed at the Landestheater.

TWT: What are some of the more popular festivals in town?  Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month?  What time of the year do they take place?  Where can travelers go to find out more information?

I & S: Innsbruck hosts a series of sports events, including an annual ski jumping World Cup (January 4) – the atmosphere in the ski jumping stadium is amazing! We can also recommend the Golden Roof Challenge (in June) an athletics competition right in front of the famous Golden Roof in the old town. The Tanzsommer (summer months) brings world-class dance productions to Innsbruck. If you are visiting in December don’t miss the famous Christmas markets. More information can be found on the Innsbruck Tourism website (innsbruck.info).

TWT: If travelers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?

I & S: Innsbruck is THE destination for adventure travellers. Head up the mountains to ski, snowboard, hike or paraglide or get your adrenaline kick while river rafting or canyoning. If thermal baths are your thing, head to the Aqua Dome in Längenfeld (1 hour drive from Innsbruck). The popular Area 47 (half an hour drive) offers countless outdoor adventures in one spot.

Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck, Austria

TWT: Many travelers pick destinations that offer voluntourism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities.  What types of opportunities exist in your area?

I & S: The Tyrol region is very eco-friendly and unspoilt nature can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere. If you would like to explore the magnificent Austrian countryside, check out the Nature Watch programme.

TWT: I know travelers like certain forms of transportation.  Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace.   What is the best way for travelers to get around town? 

I & S: The best way to get around Innsbruck is by (rental) bicycle or bus. The town centre is very walkable and therefore best explored by foot, especially as the old town is a pedestrian zone.

TWT: For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travelers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors? 

I & S: The great outdoors start right in town! Just hop onto the cable railway, head up the Nordkette mountain range and enjoy breathtaking views. Other options include the Achensee lake region or a trip to the Stubai valley. The Hofgarten park in the town centre is also a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

TWT: Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch.  Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?

I & S: Just choose an outdoor table at any of the cafés in Maria-Theresien-Straße or Innsbruck’s scenic old town and enjoy!

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Surrounded by the Alps, Innsbruck is the economic and cultural center of western Austria.  Due to the feasibility and popularity of its location, Innsbruck is a high tourist location bringing in many visitors from around the world.  Whether you are going there for adventure or relaxing in the beauty of Mother Nature’s surroundings, Innsbruck will be sure to provide whatever suits your delight.

To learn more about Irene and Stefano, you can follow them on their blog:  Freelancers On The Road

You can contact Tony Toto a.k.a. The Walking Traveler at thewalkingtraveler@gmail.com

Where The Locals Go – Bangalore, India

Over the last 5 years I have connected with amazing people from all over the globe on my Facebook page and I am proud to call them friends.  I wanted to hear stories about their hometown.  We as travelers go to experience new cultures, foods and festivals while on the road.  It would take a lifetime, if not longer to experience every location and everything that destination has to offer.  This prompted me to start a series called “Where The Locals Go.”

The next interview in my series is Tanya Raj who lives in Bangalore, India.  Bangalore is the capital city of the Indian state Karnataka and is known as the “Garden City of India” due to its pleasant climate, greenery and many parks.  Located on the Deccan Plateau in the southeastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore offers an abundance of activities for travelers to experience.  What can travelers experience in Bangalore that the locals engage in?

TWT:  Every destination has a local hot spot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere? Why do locals go there?

TR:  Hands down this has to be the tri-area of Brigade Road, MG Road and Commercial Street.  These areas, in immediate vicinity to each other, are the shopping hub of Bangalore, where you can find shops selling antiques to High-Street brands.  The general atmosphere is kind of a dichotomy – chaotic yet vibrant.  Be it wedding shopping or casual everyday items, people flock here for good deals and bargaining.

TWT:  Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her? What are some of the dishes you would recommend? How is the ambience?

TR:  To experience the local food scene, I would take them to the Russell Market.  This is one of the oldest open air market that sells a plethora of farm fresh produces and on-the-go street food.  Try out the famous mouth-watering Shawarmas here.

For a more traditional meal, head over to MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Rooms) for a sumptuous meal of dosas and idils, dipped in sambar and coconut chutney.

TWT:  Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations. Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work? Where can travelers go for these experiences?

TR:  Bangalore is a great place to be for people with artistic inclinations.  Known as the cultural capital of India, this city is host to the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat – a state of the art college that offers long and short term courses along with exhibitions of traditional and international artists.

Ravindra Kalakshetra is another place to check out.  Built as a commemorative to Rabindranath Tagore, it hosts the works of many renowned artists from across the globe.  While in Bangalore, a must do is attending a play in one of the many theaters like Ranga Shankara and Jagriti.

TWT:  What are some of the more popular festivals in town? Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month? What time of the year do they take place? Where can travelers go to find out more information?

TR:  The two annual festivals of Bangalore that are celebrated with full pomp and show are – Bengaluru Habba and Bangalore Karaga Festival.

The Bengaluru Habba, a 10 day cultural event, is a melting pot of artists from across the state who showcase their talents at the various designated venues.  Celebrated in the months of chilly November-December, this festival attracts 2,000+ artists from the state of Karnataka along with 250+ artists from all over India.  The events held include music, dance, street theater, film festivals, sporting tournaments and the renowned vintage car rally!

The Bangalore Karaga is a religious festival held at the Dharmaraya Temple in the months of March-April.  This festival includes a chariot procession with performers dressed in ancient attire, that starts at midnight and ends with the break of the dawn.

TWT:  If travelers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?

TR:  For recreational activities within the city, travelers should visit Lalbagh.  This 240 acre park is home to approximately 1,000 exotic and endemic species of flora of the region.  The annual flower show along with the 3,000 million years old Lalbagh Rock, attracts numerous visitors all year round.

There are many historic attractions too that the visitors can explore, like Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, the 400 years old Big Banyan Tree, Bangalore Fort and Bangalore Palace.

Bangalore Palace
Bangalore Palace

TWT:  Many travelers pick destinations that offer volunteerism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities. What types of opportunities exist in your area?

TR:  The Karnataka Forest Department is in-charge of the maintenance and sustenance of the numerous forest reserves that surround the city.  Travelers looking for eco-tourism and volunteerism should pick destinations around Bangalore like the Bannerghatta National Park or Bandipur National Park among many more.  There are a lot conservation efforts for flora and fauna and visitors can look for opportunities in the sanctuaries and reserves around the city.  To find more information see this link: Karnataka Forest Department

TWT:  I know travelers like certain forms of transportation. Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace. What is the best way for travellers to get around town?

TR:  The best way to get from one place to another is by three-wheeler auto rickshaws (beware of the “one and a half”, “double meter” and “Rs. 20 extra” terms used by the drivers to fleece the passengers).  A metro rail link is under construction and at the moment connects a small section of the city.  Apart from these, state run Volvo buses are a cheaper and more comfortable option (although time consuming).  Taxis are also available on a pre-booking basis.

TWT:  For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travelers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors?

TR:  An hour’s drive from the city is the Nandi Hills, one of the best spots to get a bird’s eye view of the city and leave it all behind.  Along with a 1,000 year old temple located at the peak, visitors can also visit a small summer palace of Tipu Sultan here.  Apart from this, there are numerous hillocks around Bangalore known for trekking and climbing.

TWT:  Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch. Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?

TR:  To get a root level feel of the traditional and ancient culture of Bangalore, travelers should visit the residential area of Malleshwaram.  One of the oldest settlements of Bangalore, this area is still inhabited by the old time natives (unlike the rest of the city which has seen a tremendous growth in population from other states).  The lifestyle, culture and traditions here are still intact and this area is also home to the oldest temples, some dating back 7,000 years.

Apart from this, Bangalore is known as the Garden city of India and almost 55% of the city is covered with gardens and lakes.  Take a leisurely stroll along Cubbon Park – the largest green space in the city – or along Ulsoor Lake, to observe the surroundings and mingle with the locals.

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Travelers, if you don’t have an opportunity to stay in Bangalore for an extended period of time, Tanya has provided wonderful insights for you to engage in that will allow you to experience the people, culture and beauty of the “Garden City of India.”  History is well established in India and as you travel through Bangalore and the outlining region, let your mind relax to welcome in the mastery of her traditions.

To learn more about India and Tanya Raj, follow her on her blog: Wandering Ruminations

You can contact Tony Toto a.k.a. The Walking Traveler at thewalkingtraveler@gmail.com