Category: TRAVEL NEWS

Everything You Need to Know


In September 2012, I found myself shaking in my shoes, carry-on backpack strapped to me, one-way ticket in hand, ready to board a plane that would take me to Bangkok. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and in the months and years that have followed, those butterflies are still there when I board a plane to a new place where I don’t know anyone and have no idea what could happen.

Almost 10 years on, I continue to find empowerment in solo travel – I’ve traveled to over 60 countries, mostly on my own, and have no plans on ever stopping.

Ready to do the same? I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to solo female travel to make it simple to navigate your fears, dreams, savings, plans, and everything in-between:

Commit to Your Decision to Travel Alone

Commit to yourself

Why are you taking a solo trip? For me, the decision was made after recognizing an overall dissatisfaction with life, despite a high-flying job, a beach-front apartment and a stable relationship. I had fears of failure and loneliness, but was determined to give it a shot.

I had to find a way to commit to my decision, and for me it was writing a blog post to let everybody, including my family, friends, acquaintances, and old co-workers, know that I quit my job and sold my stuff and packed up to leave. It was vulnerable and real, and a couple weeks later, I was on the plane.

That was 10 years ago, when solo female travel was nowhere near as common as now; today, 84% of solo travelers are women. My blog, which dedicates to solo female travel, receives 5 million visits annually. Take it from us – it’s one of the most empowering decision you can make for yourself. It will be scary, and at some point, lonely, but that’s also precisely the zone where greatness happens, and everyone deserves to feel that way.

Pick Your Travel Destination

iceland packing list thermals
In Iceland, one of the best solo travel destination in the world

You know that fire that ignites in your chest and the rush of butterflies you get when inspiration hits to travel somewhere new? Your imagination runs wild with all kinds of possibilities but honestly, how do you narrow the whole world down to one place?

My biggest tip for choosing your solo destination is to be honest and realistic. There’s a lot to think about: price, vibe, activities, weather, safety, and so on, but here are a few lists to help you out:

How to Prepare for a Solo Trip

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Let’s get down to business!

Now that you have decided where to go, it’s time to get to work. You may follow this fool-proof, step-by-step guide to plan a solo trip that I’ve used to plan over 100 trips around the world.

Planning a long-term solo trip? Here are my best tips that helped me prepare for a 6-month long solo trip around Southeast Asia:

I also highly recommend getting my solo travel guide book, Conquering Mountains, which has helped thousands of women realize their solo travel dreams!

What to Pack for Your Solo Trip?

Everything You Need to Know
Girls just wanna have fun (and look good doing it!)

If there’s one incredibly valuable thing I’ve done during 75% of my nomadic existence since 2012, it’s packing carry on only. Honestly, I’ve done it for years! It is one of the best decisions I made to never have to pay extra baggage fees, worry that the airline lost my bag, and wait for them to put it on the carousel. It also gave me freedom to hoof it when I had to, take cheaper motorbike taxis, and easily keep track of everything.

My biggest secrets for this were packing cubes (these have lasted almost 9 years of constant use) to compress my week and a half’s worth of clothes, and just buying cheap new stuff when I got tired of what I had and giving away the old. Sometimes I traded with fellow travelers as well or won the laundry lottery when the hostel accidentally gave back the wrong clothes. On that note, don’t bring anything you can’t live without or that can’t get dirty on your adventure.

Here are a few more of my favorite packing lists for different climates and trips:

Meeting Others as a Solo Female Traveler

Everything You Need to Know
Why not take a group trip as a solo female traveler?

My biggest fear of traveling solo wasn’t whether I’d be safe (although that certainly mattered too!), it was actually that I’d be lonely. I had no idea how many, if any, other girls were out there traveling alone and how easy it would be to meet people. It was actually SO MUCH easier than I thought, and it made me a more social and confident person as a result.

I learned a lot about how to connect with people, and this is how I approach the social aspect of solo female travel now:

  • Join a group activity as a solo female traveler. When arriving in a new city, my favorite thing to do is to join one of those free walking tour (your hostel will likely have recommendations) to get a first-hand experience of the area and meet other travelers.
  • Stay in places that are have high ratings for being social online, like hostels and backpackers accommodation. They usually have private rooms too if you’re not interested in dorms.
  • Connect with other solo female travelers on social apps and Facebook groups prior to your trip.

Even as an introvert, I find it easy to meet others as a solo traveler. Somehow, being alone in a foreign country seems to give me courage to approach others! That being said, there are days I spend completely by myself, which brings me to the next point:

How to Enjoy Being Alone

Everything You Need to Know
I used to fear solitude; now I crave for it

Don’t worry too much about the times when you are alone, because it will happen and that’s okay. It’s a gift to get you all to yourself. We are influenced by those who know us, usually without even realizing it – the sum of the 5 people we’re around the most. As social creatures it’s what we do!

But what about if you’re on your own? Then there’s nobody around to affect how you act, feel, and judge things. It’s all on you to define what you enjoy and what you want to do. That’s some powerful stuff, and every woman should get the chance to come up with her own identity, right?

Tips for Safety

mt rose hike winter

Being safe is a big consideration, and it’s probably also one of the biggest, if not the biggest concerns of your loved ones regarding your solo journey. Staying safe when you travel alone is not rocket science, though, and you can take certain precautions to have a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Focus on a few key factors:

  • Make up your own mind without anyone coercing you when it comes to anything you are doing or might not want to do.
  • If/when it feels wrong, stop and leave. You’re allowed to change your mind.
  • Listen to your intuition.
  • Know your surroundings – Read up on customs, the appropriate dress code, and dangers before you go
  • Do what you do at home to stay safe – Don’t get intoxicated on a night out alone, don’t walk dark city streets alone at night, don’t be flashy.

Want more tips? I asked 31 other solo female travelers how they stay safe on the road and this is what they said.

Embrace the Chance to Grow

Everything You Need to Know

I was really surprised to find that traveling on my own would be so beneficial to not just “finding myself,” but really, getting to know myself. I realized I’m brave, I can be quick on my feet, and that I wanted to be a writer and to follow that dream.

Traveling alone has so many benefits:

  • It makes you confident in yourself and your abilities. If you can travel the world alone, what can’t you do?
  • You tend to get better at problem solving because when there’s no sense in sulking and you can’t pass the buck, you become really good at making decisions.
  • Your become more outgoing because travelers are friendly people and they’re easy to talk to.
  • You grow so much, learning about yourself and the world (here are a few favorite spiritual reads of mine to help that along.)

Traveling solo triggered all kinds of growth for me, what could it do for you?

How to Take Your Own Photos as a Solo Female Traveler

rumah pohon, nusa penida
I take most of my travel photos, including this one

During my first year of solo travel, I was too self-conscious to take selfies and did not have the courage to ask for help from others. Then I went home and realized I had almost nothing to look back on, and decided to change that. After years of practice, I now take 99% of my own travel photos, make money out of travel photography and even launched a travel photography masterclass! Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you have to come back with a bunch of photos that don’t have you in them, or are super crappy because someone else took them who didn’t put in the effort. Here’s a detailed blog post on how to take beautiful travel photos of yourself.

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I hope this solo female travel guide has helped you to get started on your journey, though I know there are still a lot of details that you might be wondering about things like your resume, how to handle working on the road or a sabbatical, what exactly to say to your concerned friends and parents, and how to handle things like mail forwarding and immunizations.

I’ve covered it all in Conquering Mountains, How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, plus case studies and advice from dozens of other solo female travelers. It’s basically this guide on steroids. If you found the info helpful here, imagine 80 more pages of specific advice designed to get you from idea to action.

Happy travels, ladies, the world’s our oyster.

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11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico


This post was written by Emily Becker, who is a Mexico-based freelance writer for BMTM.

After living in Mexico for two years, I’ve been to my fair share of amazing beaches. With thousands of miles of coastline on the Pacific side, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, there’s plenty of variety here, too. There’s truly a beach in Mexico for everyone, ranging from the mega-tourism of Riviera Maya to the crashing waves of Oaxaca.

Here are my top picks for the absolute best beaches in Mexico, from north to south:

1. Isla Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur

Hey buddy!

On the lower half of the Baja California peninsula just a short boat trip away from La Paz is Isla Espíritu Santo. This island paradise is exactly the kind of place you dream of when you think of the perfect island destination. The island is uninhabited, so you can’t actually stay on it. You can visit the island during the day while staying in La Paz, though.

The radiant white sandy beaches and contrasting red rocks of the island are some of the many things that make this beach so beautiful. It’s also home to some exotic wildlife, which is what many people visit the island to see. In particular, there is an abundance of sea lions who live nearby. A snorkeling adventure like this one is the perfect way to see them.

  • Where to stay: Just like Balandra Beach, the best place to stay in order to visit Isla Espirítu Santo is La Paz. You’ll find loads of wonderful options there, like this super affordable loft Airbnb!
  • How to get there: The only way to get to the island is by boat with an authorized tour operator. The above-mentioned tour is a great option, but you can also find plenty of others in La Paz, such as Club Cantamar.

2. Balandra Beach, La Paz, Baja California Sur

Balandra Beach la paz

This is one of those places where I have to stop and ask myself Is this even real? Balandra Beach is so breathtaking that parts of it feel surreal to see in person. Between the pristine shallow waters on the soft white sand and the reddish rocky mountains in the background, this beach is one of the easiest to add to this list.

Balandra Beach is near the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur. Since the pandemic, authorities enforce a capacity limit at the beach, so you’ll have to get there early to have access. Since La Paz is a great place to find whale sharks from October to May, you’ll have a great view of breaching whales from Balandra during the season.

One of the best ways to soak up the beauty of Balandra Beach is to snorkel in its pristine waters and take a peek at the variety of glittering fish and other sea creatures. This tour includes a stop at Balandra and also passes by the lighthouse at San Rafaelito.

  • Where to stay: In La Paz, which is the closest to Balandra Beach where you can stay, Hotel Catedral is one of the best options you’ll find and has an amazing rooftop.
  • How to get there: To get to Balandra, you will need to have a vehicle or take a taxi. Another way to get there is to take a boat or jetski from a neighboring beach, such as Pichilingue. You can arrange for a boat to pick you back up a few hours after enjoying the beach and it should cost around 250 pesos (10.25 USD) per person, round trip.

3. Islas Marietas, Nayarit

Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico

Just off the coast of Sayulita in the state of Nayarit are the Marietas islands. These small uninhabited islands are home to sea caves, virgin beaches, and incredibly clear water, not to mention the famous Playa del Amor which is a hidden beach paradise.

There’s a rumor that Islas Marietas was once a bomb testing site, which is one particularly sinister explanation for the gaping hole you’ll find at Playa del Amor (aka “hidden beach”) which looks like a giant skylight above the beach.

This small group of islands is known for its biodiversity and incredible snorkeling around it. Wildmex offers half-day snorkel tours which is one of the best ways to enjoy everything the islands have to offer. This beach destination is truly one of the best in Mexico, so don’t miss out on a visit if you’re ever in the Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta area!

  • Where to stay: The best place to stay if you plan to visit Islas Marietas is Sayulita, which has a ton of great lodging options. Aurinko Bungalows has rooms around $70-80 USD per night and is a favorite among solo travelers.
  • How to get there: If flying into Puerto Vallarta airport, you can reach Sayulita by private car, public bus, or even Uber! From there, you’ll have to book a tour like this one or from a company in Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta.

4. Costa Careyes, Jalisco

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

Located on the rounded peninsula which makes up the southern part of Bay of Banderas, Costa Careyes is a lesser-known paradise with virgin beaches, thick forests, and tons of wildlife. Although developers are just beginning to put up luxury resorts in the surrounding Cabo Corrientes area, Costa Careyes has mostly avoided the mega construction of many other beach destinations.

Costa Careyes is home to rugged nature and small villages with little else along this part of the coast, making it the perfect beach destination for travelers who are looking for both an adventurous and peaceful experience. The time to visit is now, as plans to build more infrastructure and resorts are underway and will likely lead to a huge boom in tourism to the area.

The shining star of Costa Careyes is the Selva de Cuitzmala, which is right in Costa Careyes’ back yard. With the incredible ocean views paired with the picturesque jungle, this is one of the most idyllic places you’ll find in Jalisco and feels a world away from the craziness of Puerto Vallarta.

  • Where to stay: Airbnb has a ton of great selections for mid-priced accomodations, like this 1 bedroom casita with an ocean view. Another great option is this boutique villa which includes breakfast and has an airport shuttle from Puerto Vallarta.
  • How to get there: Costa Careyes is about a 3-hour drive from the airport in Puerto Vallarta or an 1-hour drive from the airport in Manzanillo. You can take a taxi from either of these airports for anywhere between $40USD and $200USD, or you can take public transport. If you decide to go with public transport, just ask where the parada de combis is and find the combi going to Costa Careyes. You can confirm with the driver that you will be stopping there.

5. Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

You may have heard of Acapulco in Guerrero, which is one of Mexico’s most famous–and in my opinion, overrated–beaches in the country. Skip the craziness of Acapulco and instead head a bit further north to Zihuatanejo. This laid back surf town has some killer waves and one of the most gorgeous beaches in Mexico; Playa Las Gatas.

There are four beaches in Zihuatanejo, the most remote and best one by far being Playa Las Gatas. The dreamy turquoise water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling and the chill atmosphere makes it the perfect place to get away from the stresses of life and fully relax. I can’t think of another place that has such a serene atmosphere like Playa Las Gatas.

The coast of Zihuatanejo has rocky cliffs, thick mangroves, and towering mountains in addition to the picturesque beaches. If the beauty of this part of Mexico wasn’t romantic enough, check out this horseback riding tour that would be the perfect date with your partner, or even solo!

  • Where to stay: If you are looking for luxury and serenity, look no further than La Casa Que Canta (“the house that sings,” in English). This place is absolutely gorgeous and rooms are around $300 per night.
  • How to get there: Getting to Zihuatanejo is fairly easy because it has an airport with daily flights coming in from Mexico City. To get to Playa Las Gatas, you can take a water taxi from the pier at Playa la Ropa in Zihuatanejo.

6. Mazunte, Oaxaca

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico
The “jacuzzi” swimming hole near Punta Cometa in Mazunte: perfect before sunset!

Oh, Mazunte. The rocky shores of Oaxaca offer a mix of cactus-speckled landscapes and soft sandy beaches that attract tons of surfers and barefoot hippies. I went to Mazunte for the first time earlier this year and fell in love immediately. Its chill atmosphere, delightful seafood, and crashing waves make for a relaxing and restorative beach experience.

Mazunte is known for its bohemian vibe and is a relatively small town. You can easily cover the entire town on foot with no need for transport once you get there. It’s a great place for a hike and a popular spot to watch the sunset is Punta Cometa, just a 30 minute walk away from town. From Punta Cometa, you can climb down a rocky trail to get to a secret spot called the jacuzzi, a popular bubbling swimming hole.

There are a lot of interesting things happening in Mazunte on any given day. From yoga classes to shamanic ceremonies and fire dances, you’ll find all kinds of esoteric and spiritual offerings. The best way to find out what’s going on there is to keep an eye out for flyers posted around town.

  • Where to stay: You get a lot of bang for your buck in Mazunte. For example, you can have this entire loft for just $45 a night! There are also plenty of hostels with dorms and private rooms available, but I’ve had great luck on Airbnb in Mazunte. The hospitality there is incredible!
  • How to get there: Mazunte is just an hour south of Puerto Escondido, which has the closest large airport. I recommend flying into Puerto Escondido and then taking a bus to Mazunte or renting a car. There are ADO buses, but the smaller combis leave quicker and are just as comfortable.

7. Huatulco, Oaxaca

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

Just south of Mazunte is Huatulco, which is about 20 miles of sandy beaches with nine bays total. In this large beach area, there are 36 different beaches to choose from and each one has its own character. It would be a disservice to the beauty of Huatulco to choose just one for this list, so I’m listing them all together with a few honorable mentions to my favorites: Playa Arrocito and Cacaluta.

The coast of Huatulco is known for its soft golden sand and rocky bluffs towering over the deep blue waters of the Pacific ocean. Playa Arrocito is a tranquil patch of sandy beach capped on both side by cliffs and is the perfect place to relax. You won’t see many people here and amenities are slim, so consider packing a picnic and bringing your own gear if you want to snorkel.

The same goes for Cacaluta, which is even more secluded. In fact, you have to hike through the jungle to get there! From Huatulco center, take a taxi to the entrance of Cacaluta (it should only cost about 60 pesos) and use the signs along the way to lead you to the beach, which is about a 30 minute hike. There are no restaurants or amenities at this beach so go prepared! The tranquility and possibility of having the beach to yourself make it worth it.

If you want to stick to the main beaches in Huatulco, you’ll still have a wonderful time. Check out this guided tour which will take you to 7 of the area’s famous bays!

  • Where to stay: Huatulco is home to plenty of big hotels and resorts, so I preferred Airbnb when I visited last year. There are many affordable options in the central area of Playa Santa Cruz, like this whole condo at just $60 per night.
  • How to get there: Huatulco has its own airport called Bahías de Huatulco International Airport, which you can fly into from Mexico City on a connecting flight. From there, you can take a quick taxi to your accommodation.

8. Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

If you’ve read our complete guide to Isla Holbox, you know that this is one of my favorite beaches in Mexico. It’s a dreamy, colorful, enchanting place that might be a bit touristy but it’s still a wonderful place to visit. Isla Holbox is a long skinny island off the coast of the Yucatán peninsula and has the ocean on one side and a salty lagoon on the other. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Mexico and one of the top places in the country to see whale sharks and bioluminescence.

Beyond the obvious stunning white sand beaches and wildlife sightings, Holbox has several cenotes nearby and even some awesome nature preserves. There are numerous tours available on the island that can take you out on the water or to different locations, such as Punta Cocos to see the bioluminescent water at night.

Isla Holbox may be booming with tourists most of the year, but it has maintained is local charm regardless. You’ll see that there are many events happening on the island on any given week and it’s particularly fun to visit during carnaval in February to see the iconic parade.

The calm, shallow waters on the beaches of Holbox make it the perfect place to kayak and paddle board.

  • Where to stay: For a luxurious stay, check out Villas Caracol which is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also has breakfast included and a swimming pool. A great budget friendly option is this cute rental unit on Airbnb that has a more authentic, local feel.
  • How to get there: To get to Isla Holbox, you can take a ferry from the port at Chiquilá. If you’re coming from the Cancún airport, you can either take a taxi there or an ADO bus. If you’re renting a car, there’s plenty of parking in Chiquilá and only costs about $4-5 per day to park.

9. Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

You’ll notice that Cancún didn’t make this list, which is no shade towards the Caribbean hotspot. Although the beaches in Cancún are some of the most visited in the whole country, you’re definitely missing out if you don’t venture to other places nearby, like Isla Mujeres. While Isla Mujeres is booming in popularity with more and more visitors each year, it’s not without reason that so many people want to experience its beauty.

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres is exactly the kind of beach you dream of in the dead of winter when you haven’t seen the sunshine in weeks. With its powdery-soft white sand, clear shallow waters, and island breezes, visiting this lovely island is like stepping into a postcard.

Even during peak season, Playa Norte is big enough to grab a quiet spot and relax the day away. Get there early in the morning to enjoy the tranquility before other beachgoers arrive. Isla Mujeres is a popular kitesurfing destination, so you will likely get to watch them as they fly in the distance.

  • Where to stay: A sweet thing about Isla Mujeres is that you can find affordable accommodation super close to the beach, like this entire condo for less than $50 per night.
  • How to get there: You can get to Isla Mujeres easily via ferry from Cancún’s Puerto Juarez Maritime Terminal, located just a few miles north of the Hotel Zone.

10. Xpu-ha, Quintana Roo

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

You’ve heard all about the beaches of Cancún, Tulum, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta. Have you heard about Xpu-ha, though? This idyllic beach is one of the Riviera Maya‘s best kept secrets and it’s one of the only beaches in the area that isn’t overrun with tourists during high season.

On any given day during any season, you’ll find locals chilling out on Xpu-ha beach and soaking in its beauty. The atmosphere at Xpu-ha is laid back and generally uncrowded, which is a far cry from the busy beaches elsewhere. The powdery soft sand with cyan colored water is great for a swim and there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel and dive there as well. Pair that with a couple fresh fish tacos and a cold beer for the perfect beachy afternoon. What more could a girl ask for?

  • Where to stay: There are plenty of delightful options on Airbnb for places that are just steps from the beach, like this adorable tiny house that is literally right on the shore.
  • How to get there: Xpu-ha is incredibly easy to get to from Cancún’s international airport. There are ADO buses that go from Cancún to Tulum, making a stop in Xpu-ha. You can also find taxis at the airport that can take you straight to your accommodation.

11. Mahahual, Quintana Roo

11 of the Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

Similar to Xpu-ha, Playa Mahahual is a small beach village that has mostly avoided the mega-tourism of the region. Seeing a trend yet? Sometimes the best beaches aren’t the ones with the fancy restaurants and bars right on them, and I tend to favor the ones that are frequented by locals and have a more chill vibe.

Mahahual is just north of Bacalar and is popular among divers because of its incredible reefs just off the shore. Before beach hotels began to pop up in Mahahual, it was a sleeping fishing village. In fact, most of the town has retained its original charm and the touristy area is relatively small.

  • Where to stay: If you want to stay right on the beach, it’s possible to do so affordably in Mahahual at Noah Beach Hotel & Suites. Rooms range between $100-200 USD per night.
  • How to get there: You can get to Mahahual from Cancún’s international airport, but it’s closer to Chetumal’s national airport. If you fly into Cancún, you can catch a bus to Mahahual from the ADO terminal.

There’s no wonder why there’s so much overlap in our most beautiful places in Mexico post and this one. The beaches throughout the country are remarkable and it totally makes sense that so many people flock to Mexico’s shores each year. And the variety! There are so many different kinds of beaches, each having their own flair.

How many of these beaches have you been to? While some of these are big tourist hotspots, many are actually hidden gems! Let us know which ones are your favorites.

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21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville


Nashville is the country music capital of the USA, and with a nickname like “the Music City,” you can expect to find a plethora of live music there, from bluegrass to rock to opera and everything in between. While this list of free things to do in Nashville certainly has its fair share of music, you may be surprised how many other wonderful things there are to do there without having to spend a dime.

Without further ado, here are the top 21 absolutely free things to do in Nashville:

21. Self-Guided Walking Tour

I’ll admit it, sometimes my favorite thing to do in a new city is simply walk around, taking everything in. I’ve gotten lost more times than I can admit because of this habit. If you are like me and love seeing a new place on foot, consider embarking on a self-guided walking tour.

There are plenty of different ones available from Nashville Sites, from civil rights sit-in tours to food tours, all free.

20. Honky Tonk Highway for Free Music

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

Nashville gets its nickname as the Music City not only because it is the birthplace of country music, but also because you can find live shows around nearly every corner in town. While many concerts are not free, the live music you’ll find on Honky Tonk Highway (Upper Broadway or Lower Broadway) often is!

Some venues that have live shows for free are: Honky Tonk Central, Whiskey Bent Saloon, Tootsies Orchid Lounge, AJ’s Good Time Bar, and Ole Red Nashville.

19. Concerts at Vanderbilt University

Looking for something other than country music to listen to? At Vanderbilt University, you can catch a free classical music or opera concert during the school year. Even if you’re a jazz, bluegrass, or country music fanatic, it could be nice to change it up and check out a different genre.

For a list of concerts, check out Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music event calendar.

18. Music in the Vines at Arrington Vineyards

Every Saturday and Sunday from April to October, Arrington Vineyards hosts free live jazz and bluegrass performances. The vineyard makes a gorgeous backdrop for the concerts, and many people bring their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy a picnic during the performances.

Keep an eye on Arrington Vineyards’ events calendar to see who is playing during your trip.

17. Annual CMA Music Festival

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

This yearly, four-day summer festival has free stages that are open to the public during the day. As it’s one of the city’s largest music festivals, there are plenty of options for free concerts.

For updates on next year’s CMA Music Festival, along with information on free stages, check out the CMA Fest’s website.

16. Live on the Green Music Festival

Each year in Public Square Park, Lightning 100 puts on a free outdoor concert series that features both local and national musicians. Although the festival is postponed for 2021, organizers plan to return for Labor Day weekend 2022, so stay tuned for updates here.

15. Music City Walk of Fame

In Walk of Fame Park, you will find the granite stars of famous musicians like Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and many more. Spend some time looking for your favorite artist any time of day, any day of the week. This is a must-stop in Nashville, as it’s one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.

14. Cooter’s Place Museum

If you are a Dukes of Hazzard fan, you know who Cooter is. I’ll admit that I was confused about this one, as I’m not too familiar with the fandom, and this museum is pretty niche. However, it is actually owned by the actor who plays Cooter, Ben Jones. Cooter’s Place Museum features costumes and other original artifacts from the TV show, including several of the vehicles used during filming.

The museum is always free to visit and is open Sunday to Thursday, 9am to 6pm and Friday to Saturday, 9am to 7pm.

13. Hatch Show Print

Have you ever wondered how famous concert posters are made? At Hatch Show Print, you can see the work of one of the oldest working letterpress shops in the US. The posters made here are the gold standard for letterpress prints and have a cool old-school flair.

The print shop, retail space, and gallery are all free to visit. Check the hours for each here.

12. Tennessee Agricultural Museum

For a deep dive into all things farming, head to the Tennessee Agricultural Museum. It contains over 3,000 artifacts, which take visitors on a journey to a time before electricity, when agriculture looked very different from what we see today. You’ll find two levels of exhibits, an heirloom garden, and historic cabins at this unique museum.

Admission is always free at the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, which you can visit Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.

11. Nashville Flea Market

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

The Nashville Flea Market is held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds every fourth weekend (with the exception of December when it’s the third weekend). It’s ranked in the top ten flea markets in the country due to its size and impressive diversity of vendors. It has an average of 2,000 booths and between 800 and 1,200 dealers and vendors from over 30 states. With a selection like that, who knows what kinds of treasures you will find! (This is also probably the coolest way to look for souvenirs, if you ask me!)

For a complete list of days and times for the flea market, check this calendar.

10. Tennessee State Museum

History buffs, this one’s for you! The Tennessee State Museum is full of historical artifacts, special exhibits, and a comprehensive look at the unique stories that shaped the trajectory of the state. The museum gives visitors a look into precolonial times and all the way up to the present day.

Admission to the Tennessee State Museum is always free. It is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Sunday, 1pm to 5pm.

9. Tennessee State Capitol Building Tours

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

The Tennessee State Capitol, where the state’s biggest decisions are made, first opened its doors in 1859 and has been in operation ever since. Being such a historic building, there is plenty to see and explore inside.

You can take a self-guided tour through the building Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. Guided tours are also available for free and last 45 minutes. You do not need a reservation and can begin the tour at 9am, 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, or 3pm at the first-floor information desk. Plan your visit here.

8. Centennial Park

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

This 132-acre green space is more than just a city park. It includes a one-mile walking trail, a replica of the Parthenon, Lake Watauga, an art center, several historic monuments that are worth checking out, and more. There is so much to do at Centennial Park that you could spend an entire day just exploring it.

This park is also the site of many summer events, such as Big Band Dances, which happen on specific Saturdays in the summer.

7. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

Next to the capitol building in downtown Nashville is Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, an 11-acre green space right in the heart of the city. Here you’ll find trails, along with a 200-foot granite map of Tennessee, an open-air atrium, and plenty of other notable landmarks.

6. John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

To get one of the best views of the Nashville skyline, head to the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River. This is one of the longest such bridges in the world and is easily recognizable because of its unique trusses. Take a walk around sunset to see vibrant colors reflect off the downtown buildings and river below.

5. Warner Parks

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

Although the Warner Parks aren’t technically within the city limits of Nashville, they’re only about 9 miles away from downtown and certainly worth a short trip out there. You’ll find over 60 miles of trails, plus picnic areas, a dog park, a low ropes course, and much more. With so many activities available, you could easily spend an entire day (or two!) at Warner Parks.

The parks are open from sunrise until 11pm year-round and host plenty of free events.

4. Midnite Jamboree Taping

Watching a live recording of Midnite Jamboree, one of Nashville’s longest-running radio shows, is a rite of passage. It’s taped on Saturday nights at 10pm in the Texas Troubadour Theatre (admission is free), and often hosts famous guests who you might not get to see free otherwise.

3. First Saturday Art Crawl

21 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Nashville

If you happen to be visiting Nashville around the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss out on the First Saturday Art Crawl through some of the city’s best galleries. The evening features the work of both local and international artists, in a wide variety of genres.

The First Saturday Art Crawl, from 6 to 9pm, is free. The schedule and map is here.

2. Savannah’s Candy Kitchen

Looking for the best handmade candy in the South? You’ll find it at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen! This vintage-style shop is a favorite of locals and has all the Southern charm that you would expect. Browse the colorful confections and take advantage of the free samples the store is known for.

1. Sheraton Nashville Downtown’s Glass Elevators

Bring out your inner child’s glee by riding the 28-story glass elevators at Sheraton Nashville Downtown. Sure, this might not be your typical tourist destination, but these elevators are tremendously fun to ride, and the lobby of the hotel is a sight to see on its own. Plus, the glitzy gold and glass hotel interior will have you feeling fancy, even if you aren’t staying there.

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16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan


With the word “haven” in its name, it’s no surprise that South Haven is as picturesque as it is. Located on the shores of serene Lake Michigan, it’s known for its gorgeous sunsets, delicious wine, abundant locally grown produce, and nature trails. If you’re looking for things to do in South Haven, this is your one-stop list for the absolute best outdoor adventures, landmarks, and much more:

Outdoor Adventures

16. Black River kayaking & paddleboarding

Just five minutes northeast of South Haven is an area with wild terrain and plenty of opportunities to connect with nature, one of them being kayaking or paddleboarding on Black River. Black River Cruises is a small, locally owned business dedicated to facilitating outdoor adventures on the river. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard by the hour and enjoy everything this gorgeous area has to offer.

15. Blue Water Boat Rentals

Renting a boat on Lake Michigan is easily one of the best ways to enjoy the water, especially in the summertime. With Blue Water Boat Rentals, you can choose between a speedboat, pontoon, dinghy boat, or jet-ski. Booking is easy; same-day reservations are available here. If you are traveling with friends, there is no better way to spend the day in South Haven than renting a boat and getting out on the lake.

14. Kal-Haven Trail State Park

Running for 33 miles between South Haven and Kalamazoo, the Kal-Haven Trail is a former railroad bed with a limestone surface. It’s a popular destination for those who love hiking and biking in the summer or cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. The trail passes through quaint towns and over picturesque bridges, with plenty of historical landmarks to see along the way.

13. Van Buren Trail & State Park

Linking South Haven with Hartford, this 14-mile trail is ideal for mountain biking. It runs through open farmland, dense forest, and blueberry fields, giving you awesome views the whole way. To access the trail from South Haven, you can park where the trail starts, in Van Buren State Park, which is on the shore of Lake Michigan and boasts a mile of sandy shoreline and high dune formations.

12. Rock ‘n’ Road bike rental

What better way to enjoy the trails in South Haven than by renting a bike? The folks at Rock ‘n’ Road Cycle have a variety of bikes at an affordable price. Choose between road bikes, tandem bikes, tag-alongs, and even electric bikes! This is another great local business with an excellent reputation that you can support!

11. Porter Legacy Dunes

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

As one of Michigan’s most unique and ecologically important landscapes, Porter Legacy Dunes is a must-visit spot when you go to South Haven. The 48-acre lakefront nature preserve is a hot spot for migratory birds and other freshwater-loving species. Because of its serene atmosphere, it’s ideal for visitors who are looking for a peaceful place to spend the day.

10. Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

Pilgrim Haven Natural Area features a pebbled beach on Lake Michigan, as well as a trickling creek and a lush beech-maple forest. This 27-acre natural area is home to many species of wildlife, including migratory birds and monarch butterflies. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy the beach, this is one of the best!

Museums, Landmarks, and Tours

9. Michigan Maritime Museum

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

This part of Michigan has a rich maritime culture, which Michigan Maritime Museum captures beautifully. Located on the waterfront, this museum has interactive, hands-on exhibits and even boats that you can board. It includes five separate structures, which have both permanent and rotating exhibits to enjoy.

Pay the Michigan Maritime Museum a visit for a unique and enriching lakeside experience.

8. Blue Coast Artists Cultural Tour

This unique tour is one of southwestern Michigan’s best cultural experiences, as it showcases the hard work of local artists and allows guests to get an up-close look at their work. The tour includes stops at nine different studios where artists do demonstrations. Plus, you can purchase original artwork directly from them. The Blue Coast Artists Cultural Tour is the perfect artistic getaway. See more info about this year’s fall tour here.

7. South Haven Lighthouse

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

This piece of living history is cared for by the Michigan Maritime Museum. The South Haven Lighthouse, also known as the South Haven South Pierhead Light, is still operational today and is one of South Haven’s most precious historical landmarks, as it’s been around since 1872.

6. The Bailey Museum & Gardens

Liberty Hyde Bailey was a renowned horticulturist who was born and grew up in South Haven. The museum is inside the Bailey family’s farmhouse, which is on 80 acres of farmland. The farmhouse itself is a beautiful representation of what life was like in the late 1800s, featuring Greek Revival clapboard architecture. On the property, you’ll find a well-kept garden and even some nature trails.

Food & Drink

5. Arclight Brewing Company

I’m sure you’ve heard of BYOB restaurants, but have you heard of BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) breweries? I hadn’t — until I came across Arclight Brewing Company. This unique taproom has a variety of locally made beers on tap. It serves snacks but also encourages guests to bring their own food or even order delivery from local restaurants. In fact, the taproom often hosts food trucks that serve hungry guests.

4. Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

If you love a good wine trail, you won’t want to pass up the chance to taste some local wines on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. Along it, you’ll find several wineries and tasting rooms, each with their own flair. Check out this map for your wine trail planning.

3. DeGrandchamp Farms

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

Walk into a blue and red paradise at DeGrandchamp Farms, which specializes in blueberries and cranberries. This is one of many farms in Michigan that has U-pick days, where you can pick your own berries, weigh them, and take them home. U-pick days vary from year to year but typically start in July and go through mid-August.

Not visiting during U-pick season? No worries! The farm has a variety of blueberry and cranberry products, including preserves, vinaigrettes, butters, and more.

2. Barden’s Farm Market

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

Don’t miss out an opportunity to enjoy some of South Haven’s best locally grown produce and handmade goods at the epic Barden’s Farm Market. This isn’t your average farm market, however. You’ll also find a prepared food counter, a bakery, a community farm, and a greenhouse. Go for the delicious treats but stay to take a look around and appreciate the community’s local farming efforts.

1. Overhiser Orchards

16 Amazing Things to Do in South Haven, Michigan

This family-run orchard has been providing the South Haven community and beyond with fresh fruits since 1863. It is one of the best places to pick your own fruit. Depending on the season, you’ll find sour cherries, plums, apples, pumpkins, and much more. Overhiser Orchards is a local favorite, and anybody from South Haven will tell you that you can’t leave town without visiting at least once.

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The Ten Best Places to Camp in Southern California


This guest post is by Monica Chapon, a California-based desert enthusiast:

California has it all: mountains, beaches, deserts, and everything in between.

California is one of the few locations on the planet that houses many different climates in close proximity. And no area of the state is quite as diverse as Southern California.

It is completely possible to visit the Pacific Ocean, snow-capped mountains, and the dry rugged desert all in a single day. Whatever climate you’re in the mood for, you can find it. For those who like camping, this means an endless variety of scenery to wake up to on any given day.

From beaches to deserts to mountains, here are the ten best places to camp in Southern California.

1. Alabama Hills National Scenic Area

Just amazing.

The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This visually stunning stretch of land features large smooth boulders haphazardly scattered in front of the snow-capped jagged peaks in the distance.

Alabama Hills is Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. For campers, this means free dispersed camping among the rocks and foothills.  Be aware, though: there are no outhouses or trash bins, nor is there any potable water. Bring your own breakfast or take a short drive to nearby Lone Pine for provisions. This entire area is a “pack it in, pack it out” location.

My favorite place to set up shop is in between the rounded rocks, which creates some privacy and some one-on-one time with nature. Campers can begin their morning with a sunrise hike or an epic photo op at Movie Road.

2. Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park, one of the best places to camp in Southern California, offers ocean views like this.

For beach lovers out there, this is easily one of the best places to camp in Southern California.

Leo Carrillo State Park sits just off of the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), in northern Malibu. Back country trails climb the hills behind the campgrounds, some short and easy and some long and difficult.

There are 130 campsites in the state park; they cost $45 per night, and many are shaded by towering sycamore trees. The grounds offer amenities like flush toilets, running water, and showers. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Leo Carrillo also offers a 1.5-mile stretch of beach right across the street that is great for swimming, surfing, and relaxing. My personal favorite features are the tide pools and coastal caves formed by the dramatic cliffs, and the secluded nature of this pocket beach.

3. White Tank Campground

White Tank Campground leads to this iconic Arch Rock in Joshua Tree.

Tucked inside of my all-time favorite Joshua Tree National Park sits the White Tank Campground. Nestled among the typical large granite boulders in the northern end of the park, all 15 campsites are first-come, first-served. This is easily one of the best places to camp, not just in Southern California but in the entire American Southwest.

A $15 fee must be prepaid at an entrance station. There is no water available for drinking or washing, so bring plenty! Note: The campground typically closes in the summer due to the excessive heat of the desert.

White Tank is one of my favorite spots for two reasons. First, the iconic Arch Rock hike originates from this very spot, so it’s easy to access at sunrise. Additionally, it’s located in one of the darkest sections of the park and so offers fabulous stargazing.

4. Pineknot Campground

Pineknot is tucked away in a densely forested area of the San Bernardino National Forest at Big Bear Lake. It’s a popular destination for those looking for a break from busy city life.

The campground has 48 sites with easy access to several scenic mountain trails. It’s equipped with fire rings, picnic tables, and bear boxes at each site to pack away food. Firewood is available for purchase. With flush toilets and drinking water provided, campers are set for a weekend in the woods. Campsites are $31 per night.

Big Bear Lake offers fun water activities, like canoeing and boating, and is a nice change of pace from the ocean views Southern California is famous for. The water can be cold, though, so it’s not the best place for swimming.

5. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

anza borrego

An hour and a half east of San Diego, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a hidden gem. It’s not the most well-known park to those coming from outside of California, but for me it’s another desert staple.

Unlike most places in California, camping at Anza-Borrego does not require planning six months in advance: campers can plan a spontaneous weekend getaway here and know that they can get a campsite! This is because Anza-Borrego offers free dispersed camping. And the park is massive, so it never feels crowded. In fact, I’ve rarely seen another camper around me.

Be aware, though: if you go the dispersed route, there are no amenities. Pack it in, pack it out. Be sure to bring more than enough water for drinking and washing.

This is another locale known for fantastic stargazing. If you’ve never seen the dark sky filled with thousands of glowing stars from the middle of the desert, add this to your bucket list.

6. South Fork Campground

This campground is situated on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest. It’s a hidden gem tucked between towering canyon walls. Shaded green hiking trails are plentiful in these mountains.

South Fork offers 21 spacious, first-come-first-served sites. Each comes equipped with a fire ring and a grill. There is no water available here, so plan ahead. Vault toilets are provided on-site.

This area has unfortunately experienced some closures due to the recent California wildfires, so be sure to check the status before making the drive.

7. Jumbo Rocks Campground

Sitting on the Jumbo Rocks at Joshua Tree.

Jumbo Rocks Campground, centrally located near many exhibits and trails, is another popular yet primitive spot in Joshua Tree National Park.

The enormous rocks were formed millions of years ago and have been smoothed into their unique shapes by the wind. Creatures like lizards, rattlesnakes, and scorpions can be found living among them.

There are 124 individual campsites, set on a flat, sandy surface, in between the boulders. Sites are only $20 per night. No water or showers are provided. Also, the town of Twentynine Palms is only 12 miles away, so food and water can easily be purchased outside the park.

Reservations are required from September to May. If you prefer to reserve a place in advance rather than leave it to chance, like at White Tank, then Jumbo Rocks might be for you.

8. Ricardo Campground

The stunning red cliffs near the Ricardo Campground, one of the best places to camp in Southern California.

One of my favorite under-the-radar spots for camping can be found between the dramatic cliffs of quiet Red Rock Canyon State Park, which offers some stunning hiking and camping that will remind you of the orange rocks of Arizona or Utah.

The Ricardo Campground has 50 primitive campsites with potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis only; no reservations are accepted. While I’ve never seen this campground fill up, I’d arrive early on holiday weekends to be safe.

Campsites cost $25 per night. Additional vehicles are $6 each. Self-registration and payment is required before setting up your camp.

I highly recommend this spot; it’s one of the best places for camping in Southern California, for sure!

9. Hole-in-the-Wall Campground

The rugged Mojave Desert floor.

The Mojave National Preserve is a vast but lesser-visited park in the California desert. With loads of Joshua trees, tall sand dunes, and rugged mountains, this is a great place to spend a weekend camping.

There are two designated campgrounds here, but my favorite is Hole-in-the-Wall. There are 35 campsites there, with facilities like pit toilets, potable water, fire rings, and picnic tables. Each site is first-come, first-served and costs $12 per night.

The reason I prefer Hole-In-the-Wall is twofold: First, it is lower in elevation and has better road access, so you can reach these sites without four-wheel drive. And second, I love the volcanic rock walls surrounding it.

10. Furnace Creek Campground

The Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley National Park is the most popular campsite in the park for a reason. It is centrally located, with relatively easy access to many of the highlights. The Golden Canyon badlands, Artist’s Palette, and the Badwater Basin salt flats, which are the lowest point in North America, are a short drive away.

Furnace Creek is the only campground in the park that accepts reservations in advance. Weekends and holidays can sell out, so plan your trip early, or consider weekdays instead. The 136 campsites have drinking water, picnic tables, and flush toilets. I recommend visiting over the winter months, as this can be one of the hottest places in California.

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Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It


Energy healing is the holistic practice of identifying and removing energetic blockages in the body. The goal is to allow the body to heal itself once these blockages are released. Did I lose you already? This definition alone has a lot to unpack, so I’m here to break it down for you with a complete guide on energy healing: what it is and where to find it.

Energy in the Body

The chakra points on the human body, by joandragonfly

Stemming from ancient philosophy originating in India, the concept of energy flow in the body involves seven energy centers, or chakras. They are (from bottom to top): the root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, and crown chakra.

Although the first mention of chakras was in an ancient Hindu text, the concept of these energy points in the body is a fundamental part of Chinese and Japanese medicine. Practices such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and reiki are all based on the principles of energy healing: tapping into these energy centers to allow the body to heal.

The Hard Science

Although energy-healing practices like the ones mentioned above tend to take on a spiritual capacity and therefore are discounted as “woo-woo” and not taken as seriously, energy healing is in fact supported by hard science.

You might remember from your high school physics class that all matter is made up of molecules that are in constant vibration. Yep, even hard objects that appear to be still are composed of millions of vibrating molecules. In fact, all that we are and everything around us is basically just “empty” space.

Not convinced? A 2015 Forbes article breaks down quantum physics perfectly, laying out the mind-blowing nature of the universe. Basically, if we scaled the nucleus of an atom to the size of peanut, the entire atom itself would be the size of a baseball field. All of that space between the nucleus and the outer edges of the atom is space, in constant vibration. If we were to eliminate the space, the entirety of the atomic material left over from earth’s human population would fit into a single sugar cube.

Quantum physics is a highly respected hard science. But what does it tell us? Everything we see in the physical world at the most fundamental level comes down to one thing: energy. The difference between the energy of our thoughts and intentions and physical objects is simply the rate at which the molecules of those things move. Thought molecules move extremely fast, while molecules in physical objects move extremely slowly.

With this in mind, those who came up with the chakra system were certainly onto something. Thousands of years ago, we were beginning to understand the key role that energy plays in everything around us, even without having the “hard” science to back it up.

Energy Healing as a Practice

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It
Wanaka, New Zealand

We don’t necessarily need to tie our energy healing practice to the chakra system or have profound knowledge of quantum physics to begin practicing energy healing. Many people feel intimidated by the abundance of information out there about energy healing and then become discouraged from implementing it.

There also exists a “this or that” mentality, wherein people often think that if they subscribe to energy healing, they should reject modern medicine altogether. On the flip side, those who are completely loyal to Western medicine tend to reject energy healing as a legitimate practice.

I don’t think we have to be 100% in favor of either. In fact, energy healing and Western medicine can work hand in hand. Implementing energy healing isn’t going to cause your meds to suddenly stop working, so why not give it a try?

You can begin your energy healing journey simply by taking up meditation as a daily practice. Even setting an intention every day to cleanse your energy as you take a shower is a great step. You might also start practicing yoga, or try visiting an energy healer. These are reiki practitioners, acupuncturists, reflexologists, and even massage therapists!

Benefits of Energy Healing

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It

According to the book The Body Keeps the Score, our physical and emotional bodies are intertwined, and trauma is stored in the physical body, often resulting in ailments or illness. We can understand this also by considering the physical manifestation of emotional trauma as an energy blockage. Depending on what emotional trauma we experience and how we carry it, we may have unexplained physical ailments.

Energy healers work to allow our mind and bodies to release the the energy blockages that occur when trauma is stored in the body. If you are willing to receive energy healing as a possible solution to whatever ailments you may have, the benefits are plentiful.

Energy healing in all its forms is painless and requires only an open mind and a willingness to let go. It can help optimize physical health, reduce stress, improve emotional well-being, and calm anxiety.

Every body and mind is different, so while some people have life-changing experiences after energy healing sessions, some walk away with little to no impact and may require repeat sessions and more time to heal.

Finding an Energy Healer

whitefish montana saltbox
What a unique experience!

I’m not here to tell anybody that they should quit their conventional health treatments and dive into energy healing as a cure-all. In fact, I would advise against it. Holistic practices, just like conventional treatments, work differently for different people.

If you are interested in giving energy healing a try, there are a couple ways to find a healer who can help you. Here are a few ideas for what to search for:

  • Reiki: Reiki practitioners work to allow energy to flow throughout the body and to release blockages. Healers use hand movements to do so, and might incorporate crystals to further perpetuate the flow of energy.
  • Acupuncture: By placing needles in different parts of the body, acupuncturists seek to direct the flow of energy throughout the body and balance this “qi.” Many who suffer from chronic pain find acupuncture helpful for their recovery.
  • Breathwork: Breathwork healers use breathing techniques to help stimulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and therefore allow the flow of energy throughout the body. This practice is especially helpful for those who live with anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
  • Sound healing: By using sound bowls, chimes, and other instruments, sound healers seek to move energy through the body by way of sound vibrations. These vibrations move through the air and help our own molecules vibrate more quickly, creating a sense of euphoria.

Finding an energy healer can be as simple as a quick google, but there are a few places in the world where these practices are more common and therefore it’s easier to find the type of energy healing you are looking for.

Top 5 Destinations for Energy Healing

In my experience as a breathwork practitioner, I have noticed that healers tend to congregate. Because of this, there are certain hubs for energy healing:

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It

Tucked in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlán is a body of water in a giant volcanic crater. The several small towns on the water’s edge are an ideal place to connect with nature and admire the lake. One town in particular is especially famous for its high concentration of energy healers: San Marcos La Laguna.

San Marcos is one of the smaller communities on the lake and is teeming with spiritually minded people and energy healers. There you’ll find yoga studios in what locals call “the yoga forest,” further into the mountainside. There are also several massage therapists, reiki healers, and acupuncturists who call San Marcos home.

In addition to its abundance of healers, Lake Atitlán is a known positive energy vortex and is a sacred place for the Mayan people. Keep this in mind if you visit. If you go to Lake Atitlán as a part of your own healing journey, remember to express gratitude and be kind to local people whose ancestors considered the lake one of the most sacred places on earth.

Contamination of the lake due to overtourism is a huge problem, so consider visiting during low season (January to April or September to November).

Sedona, Arizona

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It

This one is pretty obvious. Sedona is famous for its concentration of both energy healers and energy vortexes. Even while on one of the many beautiful hikes near Sedona, you might bump into people practicing energy healing, doing yoga, or meditating in nature.

Even if you aren’t convinced by the concept of energy vortexes (read more about them here!), there are plenty of awesome things to do in Sedona, and many of them involve getting outside and enjoying the gorgeous landscape. If that isn’t healing, I don’t know what is!

If you want to take a dive into energy healing in Sedona, this crystal sound bowl healing plus breathwork session is a great option.

Mount Shasta, California

Chakras 101: The Root Chakra

Native American groups have long-held beliefs about the energetic power of Mount Shasta, an active volcano in northern California. Ceremonies dedicated to the Creator are still held today.

For many visitors, this is one of the most peaceful and grounding places to visit. After all, it is believed to be the root chakra of the earth.

As such, Mount Shasta attracts energy healers from around the world who hope to harness the strong energy of the volcano to help others heal. The options for energy healing at Mount Shasta are plentiful, and there are several healing centers that house reiki healers, meditation teachers, and more.

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It

Another energy vortex, Lake Titicaca is believed to be the sacral chakra of the earth. The sacral chakra is ruled by the element water, so it makes sense that this massive lake is the earth’s sacral energy vortex.

Although the Peru side of the lake has a reputation for being super touristy, there are ample opportunities for energy healing. Retreats like this one are available, but you can also look for specific healing centers, like this one, which use meditation to help people connect with the energy of the lake.

Goa, India

Energy Healing: What It Is and Where to Find It

Head to Goa for one of the most comprehensive chakra healing experiences you could possibly have. Since India is the birthplace of the chakra system as we know it, there are thousands of retreat centers, yoga shalas (centers), and healing hubs throughout the country.

Goa attracts energy healers from all over the world who come to this quaint coastal state to tap into ancient knowledge and practices. It’s also a favorite location for yoga teacher trainings. Since yoga and energy healing overlap so much, you’ll likely find yoga teachers who also practice energy healing as a part of their offerings.

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13 of the Best National Parks in California


You may already know where California ranks on our top 15 most beautiful states in the USA. If so, you can guess why the Golden State ranks so high on our list.

California is home to 9 of the United States’ 63 national parks, plus a variety of other federally protected natural areas. Since it’s one of the largest states in the US and has such a long coastline, there is an incredible variety of natural landscapes to enjoy, especially at the best national parks in California.

While some of these sites listed below are not technically national parks, here are the 13 best national parks, recreation areas, and monuments in California, from north to south:

13. Redwood National & State Parks

The California coast is home to the coastal redwood tree, which is the tallest tree species in the world. Apart from these lovely giants, the Redwood National and State Parks have so much to offer: flowing rivers, vast prairies, and 40 miles of rugged coastline.

A scenic drive through the Redwoods is an excellent way to get acquainted with the area if you’re a first-timer. Howland Hill Road is a 10-mile route and has lots of short trails to stop and explore on foot while you drive through. Head to Klamath River Overlook for a spectacular ocean view — you might even be able to catch a glimpse of gray whales!

The Redwoods is the ideal place to camp, and you can choose between a site at a developed campground or backcountry camping. During high season in the summer, you must make a reservation at a developed campground to get a spot. If you want to go even more rugged, there are over 200 miles of hiking trails in the park, so you are sure to find the perfect secluded backcountry camping spot.

12. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Although this is the least-visited national park in California, Lassen Volcanic National Park’s gorgeous views and epic hikes do not disappoint. This is an excellent park for travelers who crave being in nature without bumping into other hikers, as Lassen’s trails tend to be uncrowded. Especially in the early mornings and evenings, there’s a chance you could be the only one out on the trails.

There are plenty of things to do at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Check out the glittering green Ridges Lakes by taking the one-mile hike to get there. You’ll also want to make sure to check out the alpine lakes, like pristine Lake Helen. The most famous feature of the park is the Lassen Peak hike, which is a 2.5-mile steep hike up — and worth every step.

You can find dispersed camping by taking road 29N22 into the surrounding forest. It is best to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as many of the roads are rocky and difficult to access without one. More campground information, along with reservation information, is available here.

11. King Range National Conservation Area

13 of the Best National Parks in California

Located along 35 miles of California’s coast and encompassing 68,000 acres of protected land, King Range National Conservation Area is one of the most underrated natural areas in California. Although it’s not technically a national park, it is part of the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s land.

This part of California’s coast is where mountains seem to jut out from the sea and is so rugged that no highways could be built there. For that reason, this area has the nickname of California’s Lost Coast. King Range was the nation’s first-ever national conservation area and attracts adventurous surfers, mountain bikers, and hikers.

Camping in King Range National Conservation Area requires a permit, which you can reserve here. Consider visiting this breathtaking site if you happen to be in the Mendocino area.

10. Point Reyes National Seashore

Connect with the Great Outdoors on this Solo NorCal Nature Road Trip

California’s beautiful beaches come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. From shorefront hangouts like Venice Beach to the seal-filled havens on the north shores, you’ll find a bit of everything here. If you’re looking for something more like the latter, Point Reyes National Seashore is the beach paradise for you.

Point Reyes is 37 miles north of San Francisco, but might as well be a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This peninsula has been under protection since 1962 to save it from residential development. As such, it’s one of the very few wild beaches left in California. Point Reyes National Seashore will make a great addition to your next NorCal road trip!

In this over 100-square-mile park, you’ll find sea cliffs teeming with wildlife, highlands with tule elk grazing, and some especially noteworthy gray whale watching from late December through the end of January (mid-January peak) and again from late February to mid-April (peak in mid-March).

The park has backcountry camping (although it is currently closed due to fires). There are also five campgrounds to choose from, all of which require reservations.

9. Golden Gate National Recreation Area

13 of the Best National Parks in California

On both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco lies the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is one of four national recreation areas in California. It borders Point Reyes to the north and is home to the Muir Woods National Monument, which has towering redwood trees and miles of hiking trails. It’s definitely a must-see while visiting the Northern California Coast.

This recreation area is a favorite among dog owners because of its proximity to the city and availability of specifically dog-friendly areas. It’s also one of the best places to get an awesome view of San Francisco Bay.

There are four campgrounds at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In the Marin Headlands, there are two that require a reservation. Rob Hill Campground on the Presidio is a crowd favorite; reservations can be made here.

8. Yosemite National Park

13 of the Best National Parks in California

This is possibly the most obvious listing, as it is the most-visited national park in California. You’ll find this massive park in central California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it has some of the United States’ most beautiful natural landscapes.

The most famous part of the park is the Yosemite Valley, which is home to Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitán, some of Yosemite’s most noteworthy attractions. You can also take Glacier Road or Tioga Road to get some awesome views of the valley from above.

High season at Yosemite is during the summer months, so if you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the winter. Here are Yosemite’s best winter hikes for some winter-wonderland hiking inspo!

Camping options are plentiful at Yosemite; a complete list of available campgrounds can be found here. You may have to make a reservation, so make sure to check your desired campground’s rules and requirements.

7. Devils Postpile National Monument

13 of the Best National Parks in California

This national monument in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is one of seven in California. The columnar basalt, which the monument is famous for, is a rare geological phenomenon worth stopping to see. Towers of rock stretch up to 60 feet tall and display impressive symmetry that seems too precise to be created by nature.

Devils Postpile is right next to the Pacific Crest Trail and therefore has a wealth of recreational activities nearby. Within the protected area, you’ll find the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls and eight miles of trails around the monument.

While there is no longer a campground within the park, there are five Forest Service campgrounds within the Reds Meadow Valley. Four out of the five are first-come, first-served.

6. Death Valley National Park

death valley national park in winter

Death Valley has some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in the world, let alone California. While many people see a name like “Death Valley” and run the other way, this otherworldly national park is a favorite among desert enthusiasts.

With expansive vistas and wide-open skies for stargazing, this desert park is the perfect place to find peace and quiet. Those entering the park from the California side will likely start at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, where golden hour is particularly stunning and the dunes are ideal for hiking. You also should not miss the Artist’s Palette, where you’ll find a colorful landscape formed by volcanic activity over the span of thousands of years. For more ideas on what to see in Death Valley, check out this 48-hour itinerary.

If you were iffy about just visiting Death Valley, camping there might sound like an even further stretch. However, this park is an incredible place to camp and connect with nature. With a few Death Valley–specific camping tips, it’s totally doable, even for beginner campers. Here you can find a map of all of the campgrounds.

5. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

13 of the Best National Parks in California
The General Grant Tree at Sequoia National Park

These two adjoining national parks are often mentioned together because many visitors choose to visit both of them in the same trip. This spectacular natural area is home to gigantic trees, plunging canyons, and the serene Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Popular attractions are abundant in these parks. Visit the world’s largest tree by volume, General Sherman Tree, which has a 36-foot diameter at its base. How’s that for the most amazing tree hug? You’ll find this giant tree and more in Sequoia’s Giant Forest region.

Kings Canyon is also known for its wilderness, which is superb for backpacking, as much of it isn’t accessible by car.

The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is a must-do drive. Expect the most beautiful views of the canyons and canopies along the route. Don’t miss the Crystal Cave either, which has picture-perfect marbling on its walls.

Camping at Sequoia and Kings Canyon is by reservation only during the summer. Plan ahead by reserving your campsite here. The most popular campgrounds are Lodgepole and Dorst, which require reservations all year round. Others may have first-come, first-served camping.

4. Pinnacles National Park

13 of the Best National Parks in California

Twenty-three million years ago, the eruption of multiple volcanoes created the unique landscape that we see today at Pinnacles National Park, just 80 miles southeast of San José. The volcanic soil creates the ideal conditions for a springtime wildflower superbloom. Check out poppies, fiesta flowers, lupines, and plenty of other flowers from the High Peaks Loop, Balconies Trail, and Juniper Canyon Trail.

You’ll also find canyons, caves, oak woodlands, and the iconic rock towers that the park is known for. The rocky landscape is excellent for a hiking adventure, and there are plenty of trails to explore.

Camping options include sites at Pinnacles Campground, which you can access from the east side of the park. There is only one official campground inside the park; you can make a reservation here.

3. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

13 of the Best National Parks in California

If you’ve been to Los Angeles, you’ve probably appreciated the gorgeous Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from afar. Its proximity to the huge metropolis makes it the perfect getaway if you need some TLC from nature. Once you get there, you won’t believe how close these rugged landscapes are to the city.

This public recreation area stretches inland from Santa Monica all the way up the coast until Oxnard. Here you can explore over 500 miles of trails and see the picturesque beaches of Malibu. Within the recreation area, don’t miss Solstice Canyon, the original Paramount Ranch, and Point Mugu State Park.

There is only one campground operated by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains: Circle X Ranch Group Campground. The downside is that it is a 10-person-minimum group camp. (Plus, the campground is currently closed. Stay tuned here for updates.) The other option is camping at either Topanga State Park or Point Mugu State Park.

2. Channel Islands National Park

13 of the Best National Parks in California

Off the southern coast of California is a chain of five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park. It is only accessible via boat or seaplane, and you can take a ferry there from Oxnard and Ventura. The most popular island to visit is Santa Cruz, which is also the largest of the five.

Being an island oasis, kayaking is a popular activity at Channel Islands National Park because much of the pristine sea environment would otherwise be inaccessible. Kayaking allows visitors to see the rocky cliffs of the island and is also the best opportunity for wildlife viewing. The unpredictable nature of sea kayaking makes it less than ideal for beginners, though. Read more about kayaking the Channel Islands here.

Since there are no services or lodges on the islands, camping is the only way to stay overnight there. Reservations are required for all campgrounds on the islands and can be made here. Scorpion Canyon Campground is a crowd favorite and is on Santa Cruz Island. Since the islands are so remote, you will have to bring all of your food and water with you.

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees in nevada

If you’re skeptical about intentionally wandering into the desert, this is the park to change your mind about this arid landscape. Joshua Tree National Park gets its name from its namesake yucca trees, which create unique shapes throughout the desert. You’ll also find plenty of species of cacti and other prickly plants.

Joshua Tree is quite remote, which is a draw for travelers looking for solitude. It’s only about 2.5 hours east of both Los Angeles and San Diego. The best time to visit is during spring and fall. Spring has mild temperatures ideal for hiking, with the added bonus of having some epic wildflower blooms. Fall also has mild temperatures and is the most popular time to visit, so campsites tend to book up quickly.

Some awesome hiking options in Joshua Tree include the easy Arch Rock Nature Trail, the mountainous 49 Palms Oasis Trail, and the Boy Scout Trail To Willow Hole Extended Route, which is great for backpackers. Beyond hiking, Joshua Tree is also a haven for rock climbers, so if you’re looking to climb in the desert, this is just the right place to do it.

Joshua Tree has the distinction of being an International Dark Sky Park, making it an epic place to camp and stargaze. It has 500 campsites, spread out among nine campgrounds across 1,235 square miles. Some campsites require a reservation while others are first-come, first-served. You can find a complete list here.

Even if you are only planning to visit the park for a day, staying overnight and camping under the stars is one of the best things to do in Joshua Tree.

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How to Plan a Trip in 7 Steps


Planning a solo trip can be a stressful experience, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Having planned literally hundreds of solo trips over the course of nine years, I have now mastered a failure-proof formula that makes sure I have a successful trip on which I don’t get scammed, save as much money as possible, and have a positive impact, not only on myself but also the places I visit.

Here are the 7 steps to plan a fabulous solo trip:

1. Pick Your Destination

I found this pagoda in Myanmar via Kayak Explore!

The world is your oyster! One of my favorite sources of inspiration is Instagram, where I save beautiful places that I want to go. Then I check it when planning a trip.

Kayak Explore is another great platform if you are open to visiting destinations that are under the radar. I used it to plan a monthlong trip to Myanmar a few years back, and ended up in unique locations across the country that I’d otherwise not have known of.

2. Climate, Seasons, and Holidays

tiu kelep

The next thing to consider is the weather, which you can easily find out by googling. There are often tables that show you what the rainfall and average temperature is like, to help you make an informed decision in terms of the best time to go.

I love traveling during shoulder seasons, when the weather is still great but there are far fewer people. I wouldn’t totally reject the idea of traveling during the off season, either. Southeast Asia, for example, offers lush jungles and lower prices, as well as room for serendipity, during rainy season. All it requires is a little bit of research to decide where you want to go and the activities you’d like to do. Note: In most parts of the world, that week between Christmas and New Year is pretty much the most expensive time to visit.

Make sure to research local holidays and plan your trip accordingly — the last thing you want is to land in Bali only to find out that it’s Nyepi, when the locals observe silence for a day, which means absolutely no business will be open. On the other hand, if you are interested in experiencing certain local celebrations, like the Lunar New Year in Vietnam, make sure to check the dates, as it varies every year. In short, you may find yourself wanting to avoid or build your trip around certain local holidays, so this is a crucial part of your research.

3. Budget and Time Frame

white sands national park
A month in New Mexico

The next things on the list are your budget and time frame. I’d suggest spending more time planning for a budgeted or short trip, but leaving room for serendipity for a longer trip.

When I first went to Southeast Asia by myself nine years ago, I arrived in Thailand with a one-way ticket and had nothing booked, not even my first night of accommodation. I was rich in time, not in money, so I had the luxury of traveling slowly, basing my moves on others’ recommendations.

Most people have a shorter time frame, so work that into your calculations in terms of how many places you want to visit (and how much it costs to get to them), how much are you willing to pay for accommodation, and of course, the activities you want to do. Try not to squeeze in too many back-to-back activities, because you’ll want to remain relatively flexible for life happening, i.e bad weather, canceled tours, and so on.

Most destinations offer free walking tours, so definitely make use of that. In fact, they are my favorite way to kickstart my visit to a new destination, as you can discover new spots that you might want to return to later, as well as meet other solo travelers.

4. Itinerary

death valley national park in winter
I have 46 (and counting) posts on California, my home state, on the blog

My biggest tip for building your trip itinerary is to find a travel blog. A personal blog written by somebody who has a lot of experience in a destination is possibly the best resource you can have, because you are going to get more personalized recommendations, honest feedback in terms of what’s cool and what’s not, and most likely a complete itinerary that will save you so much time.

Pinterest and Instagram are other great places to source things to do, both popular and off the beaten path. If you are into photography, you will find lots of inspiration! A tip for Instagram: you will get a lot of influencer posts on the location tab, but focus on the major reposting accounts, because they will lead you to the photographer who took the photo, and you will likely find a bunch of really good tips on the destination on their personal accounts.

5. Flights

How to Plan a Trip in 7 Steps
Do your homework!

Once your itinerary is built, you will know which airport you need to fly into (and depart from). There are a few ways to search for cheap flights. I love using Momondo, which allows you to input multiple legs of a journey and calculate the cheapest option with different airlines, and offers a least-CO2 option, which I really appreciate.

You can also go to Google Flights to gauge pricing based on your traveling dates. You may also enable the “track prices” function to get notified via email whenever the price fluctuates in one direction or another. If you have flexibility in your schedule, look into the date grid, in order to piece together the best possible round-trip flight and save money.

Another trick is to book in the country’s local language. While this doesn’t always work, it’s worth a try. I was able to book the exact same flight from Berlin, Germany, to Johannesburg, South Africa, for half the price, by booking on the German booking website. Talk about score!

6. Accommodation

rumah pohon, nusa penida

I find this a very exciting part of planning a trip: where to lay your head each night. Back in my backpacking days, it was all about finding the cheapest possible accommodation. But now that I have a little bit more of a budget to work with, I tend to mix in cool boutique hotels and unique Airbnbs, which often becomes an experience on its own.

Start with Google, which will aggregate a whole bunch of places at different price points. I also recommend Momondo, Booking.com, Expedia.com, and Agoda.com — but a lot of times, it’s better to just contact the property directly for cheaper prices.

On that note, I’d like to highlight the importance of considering locally owned accommodations, so that your money stays in the destination. Staying in foreign-owned, all-inclusive resorts often means that most of the money leaves the country. Be a responsible tourist and make sure that the locals actually benefit off of our visit. Spread the wealth around, so that people who run small businesses are able to make money as well — this is the crux of sustainable tourism.

7. Prepare for Landing

How to Plan a Trip in 7 Steps
Ready for a new adventure

Finally, make sure you are fully prepared for the day you land. Read up on the scams and annoyances so that you are set from the moment you arrive at the airport. For this, there are many message boards and travel blogs where people share their experiences and tips on transportation costs. This often-forgotten step only takes 10-15 minutes, and I never regretted doing this research for myself. You can’t always count on that airport Wi-Fi working, and unfortunately, you can’t be sure that people are trustworthy — on the contrary, it’s one of the best places to be a scammer, because so many people land in an airport without knowing what to expect.

I also try to get a local SIM card at the airport (unless during my research I find that they overcharge) and draw money out of the ATM there, so that I am already connected before I leave the airport. Having a confident start to your trip makes such a huge difference!

And there you have it! This is my favorite way to handle trip planning, and I repeat the process for each place that I want to go.

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22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan


If you haven’t been to Detroit yet, this is your sign to head to one of the coolest cities in the Midwest. Famous for its impressive historical contributions to music, industry, and architecture, the city is teeming with fantastic museums and an impressive art scene. Here are my top things to do there, with everything you need to start planning an epic trip to the Motor City:

Tours

22. Architecture tour

This 2.5-hour walking tour will take you through Detroit to learn about the city’s history, architecture, and variety of cultures. Stops include the Fisher Building, the Fox Theater, Belle Isle, and much more. Detroit’s important cultural history is highlighted during the tour, during which guides will give an in-depth look at the city’s most notable sites. This is perfect for first-time visitors and locals alike, because of how much neat information the guides share.

21. Ford Piquette Avenue tour

Have you ever wanted to take a closer look at the history of Ford Motors? This 90-minute tour is an awesome way to explore one of the first Ford factories ever created. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, an official US historic landmark, is the birthplace of the Model T car. This guided tour takes visitors around the plant and offers them a glimpse into how some of the first-ever cars were made.

20. Free walking tour

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Experience Factory offers free walking tours that take visitors on an adventure to some of the city’s most historically important neighborhoods, landmarks, and businesses. Local guides, including business owners and residents with their own unique stories and perspectives, give individualized narratives of their home city.

Outdoors

19. Belle Isle

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

This is one of the places on this list that you might consider setting aside an entire day to see. Belle Isle is a massive 982-acre island park home to a conservatory, aquarium, museum, nature center, and more. It’s a hugely popular place for locals to hang out and get some fresh air, not far from bustling downtown Detroit. You’ll see people having picnics and barbecues or just hanging out on the beach.

To learn more about Belle Isle and see what else there is to do there, head to the Belle Isle Conservancy’s website.

18. Dequindre Cut Greenway

Linking the Eastern Market with the East Riverfront, this two-mile urban recreational path is a great place to walk or bike. There are several neighborhoods between, so you can enjoy the changing scenery as you make your way along this pedestrian path. It’s a great place to catch a glimpse of Detroit’s best street art, as well!

17. Campus Martius Park

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

As one of the city’s most beloved parks, Campus Martius Park is a hub for cultural activities and has an excellent green space to enjoy. In the summer you’ll find food trucks, outdoor eateries, a mini beach, and possibly an outdoor festival. In the wintertime, the park hosts an ice skating rink, a giant Christmas tree, and an adorable Christmas market.

16. Detroit Riverfront

Over time, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has worked hard to reconstruct and rehabilitate the riverfront so residents and visitors can enjoy another green space. The path is just under six miles long and perfect for a jog or leisurely stroll.

Along the path, there is plenty of park space that often hosts yoga classes, outdoor concerts, and other events throughout the spring and summer months.

15. Detroit Princess Riverboat

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

From the vantage point of the Detroit Princess Riverboat, you can get the absolute best views of the Detroit skyline and spot some of the city’s most notable landmarks. There are several cruises available on this massive ship, so take a peek at the Princess Riverboat’s cruise schedule for ideas.

Museums and Landmarks

14. Detroit Institute of Arts

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

This 130-year-old museum is one of Detroit’s most beloved spaces. It houses over 65,000 works of art and has everything from classic pieces to modern and contemporary works. The Detroit Institute of Arts comprises over 100 galleries with one of the most diverse selections of art that you will find in the Midwest. Plan on spending at least a few hours looking around this massive space.

To visit the DIA, you currently must make a reservation, which you can do here.

13. Detroit Historical Museum

Being right next to the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum makes a great addition to your itinerary if you are a museum enthusiast. It offers visitors a unique perspective on how the city was established and a peek into its industrial past.

Currently the museum has an incredible Roaring ’20s exhibit called “Boom Town: Detroit in the 1920s,” which looks at one of the most impactful periods in the city’s vibrant history.

The Detroit Historical Museum is open Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. You can find more info here.

12. Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

It goes without saying that Henry Ford is one of Detroit’s biggest names, so you don’t want to miss a chance to learn more about his legacy at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Moreover, you can also learn about other amazing feats of engineering, from the Wright brothers to Rosa Parks and many others.

You can find more information about this unique museum here.

11. The Guardian Building

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

You won’t want to miss out on a chance to visit the Guardian Building, one of the most important Art Deco skyscrapers in the world, in the Financial District downtown. This National Historic Landmark has 36 floors and was completed in 1936.

Pure Detroit offers tours of the Guardian Building, among others. Although tours are still postponed, the company hopes to start them again soon.

10. Detroit Masonic Temple

This architectural gem is the largest building of its kind and one of Detroit’s most stand-out landmarks. George Mason and Company finished the building’s construction in 1926, and for many years it was used as a meeting place for the Freemasons. The Detroit Masonic Temple is enormous, with three theater spaces, a shrine building, a chapel, a 17,500-foot drill hall, and more.

You can catch a tour of the building on the first and third Sundays in July and August at 3pm or the first and third Fridays in July and August at 7pm. If you aren’t around at that time, you can also check out the calendar of events for more opportunities to visit.

9. The Belt

22 Spectacular Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

“The Belt” area gets its name because it was once the heart of Detroit’s garment district. It’s is now an alley full of public art and murals from local, national, and international artists. This space was made possible by the Library Street Collective‘s efforts to create more opportunities for artists to engage with the public through their work.

8. Motown Museum

You absolutely cannot visit Detroit without going to the Motown Museum. As one of the only museums in the world dedicated entirely to Motown’s musical and cultural history, it is known as the beating heart of the Motown legacy.

The museum is located in the original headquarters and recording studio for Motown Records, making the building itself an amazing historical site. Here you’ll be able to appreciate the accomplishments of the label’s giants, and get a glimpse into where the magic of Detroit’s most notable music scene began.

The Motown Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. Find more information about opening hours and policies here.

7. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

This spectacular museum is one of the best places to hear some of the city’s most important stories. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History houses exhibits that offer a well-rounded view of the immense contributions that the black community has made to Detroit’s history and culture.

For hours and admission info, see the museum’s website.

6. Detroit Public Library

Sure, you came to Detroit to see some cool places, enjoy the delightful food scene, and maybe get outdoors. But a library? You might be surprised that this one made the list, but hear me out. Detroit’s main public library is one of the best in the Midwest and even rivals the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.

Even if you don’t pick up a single book while you visit, it’s worth a stroll through to see the incredible architecture and explore the stacks.

For more info, see the main library’s website.

5. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

Who doesn’t love a good contemporary art museum? Flaunting the best of Detroit’s contemporary art scene, this is one of the top 10 art museums in the Midwest, and you’ll certainly see why when you visit. It pushes the bounds of traditional art and features thought-provoking exhibitions.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is free, with a suggested donation of $5 during regular operating hours.

Shopping & Restaurants

4. John K. King Used & Rare Books

Housed in an old glove factory, John K. King Used & Rare Books is one of the largest bookstores in the entire world, with over a million books on its shelves. If you’re a huge bookworm like me, this sounds like an absolute paradise. Spend a few minutes to a few hours perusing the shelves and see what treasures you can find.

3. Eastern Market

Covering 43 acres, this historic public market district is the largest in the United States. The Eastern Market has a variety of artisan crafts, handmade goods, local foods and produce, and more.

Market days are Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday, Saturday being the busiest day. Check out the Eastern Market’s website for more information on vendors and special events throughout the year.

2. Cliff Bell’s

This iconic restaurant has a cool 1930s vibe and is one of the best spots in Detroit to see live music. It often hosts jazz and blues musicians; you can check the show schedule here. Come for the music but stay for a nice meal and awesome selection of cocktails. It’s a great place to enjoy an old-timey ambiance and disconnect from the outside world for a little while.

1. Pewabic Pottery

This is more than your average pottery shop. Pewabic Pottery has been a Detroit gem since it was founded in 1903. It produces pottery, architectural tiles, and other beautiful ceramics that you will find in the city’s most beloved buildings and popular restaurants.

The best thing about Pewabic is its summer market, which features the ceramic artistry from over 50 independent artists. It also offers tours and hands-on workshops so you can learn more about the craft.

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Traveling in Troubled Times – Be My Travel Muse


It’s nearly noon on the island of Nuku Hiva, a stunning volcanic island on the fringes of French Polynesia. 

I’m sitting on a deck looking out at a glittering bay, nearly fully encircled by dramatic peaks coated in fluffy green trees, bushes, and flowers, and fringed by black sand. White birds dance in pairs through the sky. I’m tempted to pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. 

Trouble in paradise

One of my favorite things about visiting French Polynesia is Polynesian hospitality. Everyone says hello, everyone has a smile to give, and everything about it seems to beg you to slow down, stay a while, relax, what’s the rush?
And for my first day here, I was fully immersed. I felt the beauty and wonder, so why am I feeling the opposite now?

Why is today so hard?

Because I had forgotten things that I found out the hard way nearly 9 years ago when I embarked on my first solo journey in Cambodia. I’d been riding on a high from my first month of traveling alone, when everything looked like it was in high definition and everyone I met was amazing. I felt like the universe and I were in such sync that everything that happened felt like it was happening just for me. It was perfection.

The highs of traveling can feel really high, and the lows can be an intense low. 

Do you wonder why you feel this way after finally getting to a place you’ve dreamed of? Everything was supposed to be perfect, so why isn’t it? 

Traveling in Troubled Times - Be My Travel Muse
This should’ve been perfect

You ask yourself, what’s wrong with me? If I can’t be happy here, can I be happy anywhere?

I had forgotten all about this, because it’s been a while since I’ve dealt with depression, and only one other time in my life can I remember it being this intense. Some days I can’t get out of bed. I feel like there’s a weight on my chest. 

The past year was hard for most people. I’d even venture to say for everyone, but I can’t be sure how everyone else feels. When the summer rolled around and cases were down, it felt like a glimmer of hope. It felt like the bad things were behind us and everything would be OK.

Until it wasn’t.

It’s been really hard to watch as the sky filled with smoke for months on end living in the Sierras on the other side of California. I watched as places I explored and loved mere weeks before burned uncontrollably and fire chiefs used phrases like “new normal” to describe it. 

I watched as the world shut down again and we put our masks back on, after being so sure that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sad to see the way that my partner is getting overworked and over exposed in the emergency room and it feels exhausting.

And then a little voice comes up telling me that my problems are not real problems. There’s so much misery in the world, so much pain and suffering, I’m sitting in a beautiful place, what’s wrong with me? There are lots of people who cannot travel. For many of us, we wonder when the light at the end of the tunnel will come. It keeps feeling like it’s right there, only to be pushed further away. 

Traveling in Troubled Times - Be My Travel Muse

I have so much privilege and there are people out there with actual, real problems, I tell myself. 

But that doesn’t make the pang of anxiety in my chest when I breathe any less real. It doesn’t make the fatigue any less prominent. My problems are real, and they are valid. And I thought that I could just run away from them without confronting them. That’s often what traveling feels like, right? And it can work for a while.

But, no matter what problem we are running away from, we will run into ourselves over and over on the road. It’s the great reflection. It’s those moments alone when we are forced to look at the tough things, to work it out somehow, and if we are traveling alone, we have only ourselves to rely on for this.

And yet, that’s exactly as it should be. Solo traveling made me a better version of myself precisely because of times like this. When I realized that I can’t pass the book to anyone else. My life and my problems are mine and it’s up to me to fix them. I can’t expect someone else to step in and do it for me.

The thing about solo traveling is, It’s all about overcoming challenges. 

That doesn’t mean it’s constantly hard, but when it is hard, it’s a lot harder. There’s nobody else there to pick up the pieces. There’s nobody to cry to.

And in a weird, cruel way, that’s how it should be. 

Traveling in Troubled Times - Be My Travel Muse

The thing about hard times is when we look back at it all, these are the things that define us. 

These are the moments when we realize we have to make a dramatic change. This is when we discover the importance of radical self reliance. It’s when we don’t have another choice.

When I look back on the past decade of my life, years spent mostly nomadic, it’s what I’ve learned the most about the world but also myself. It was the toughest break ups that made me examine the ways in which I was fucking up. It was the times when I was running so low on money that I had to hitchhike that I realized how scrappy I am. It was the times when everything was in flux and I had nothing else to rely on but the kindness of a stranger that I realized that the world is mostly good, even though news headlines would have us think otherwise.

And all of those realizations were essential at the time. 

So that’s what I’m urging myself to do now – to trust in the journey, to know that it was never going to be only perfection and sunshine, and to remember that without mud, there can be no lotus. 

Life and travel are a series of ups and downs but I’m always captain of this ship. 

Even when it feels like everything is spinning out of control around me, my inner world is my own.

Today is hard. The past few weeks have been hard. I don’t have any solutions. I don’t know how we fix the problems that feel so insurmountable right now. But I know that life goes on, and that if I can just focus all my energy on right here and now, somehow, the world will keep spinning. 

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Traveling in Troubled Times - Be My Travel Muse

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