We are loving this travel blogging life, and in 2019 we rolled into our third year. Even though we have been tourists our whole lives, the things we find never cease to amaze us. The idea that so many of you would take time out of your busy lives to read some of our articles is humbling. It is also the fuel that keeps us seeking out new destinations and uncovering interesting things to see, do, and eat. 2019 certainly brought plenty of new sights, sounds, and tastes for the two of us. Let’s take a moment for looking back at 2019 and some of the interesting places we visited.
We want to thank all of the cities that hosted our visits in 2019. It is with your help that we are able to share your stories with our readers. Rest assured all opinions are still our own.
Our spring visit to Parkville, Missouri proved that there are good things right in your own backyard. One of the key messages that we try to spread is that you don’t have to travel long distances to have a good time. A good example was our weekend stay at this quaint river town located near the heart of the metropolitan area. Driving into Parkville is like a step back into a quieter time when strolling and chatting ruled the day. Filled with unique boutique shops, entertaining activities, and interesting ethnic cuisines, it makes a perfect couple’s destination. You can check out the places we visited in this series of articles.
If you prefer to get out of town, short excursions can offer plenty of variety. Fort Scott, Kansas is only about an hour and a half away, so it can be the destination of a day trip or a nice weekender. We chose the latter since there was a lodging location that we wanted to experience. During our visit, we found some fun entertainment options and learned about one of the city’s famous residents. A trip like this wouldn’t be complete without some delectable meals, and Fort Scott has some nice dining options.
The Main Event
Of course, the main event is a visit to the actual fort. This FREE public attraction is filled with exhibits and displays that show what life was like in frontier days. When planning your Fort Scott escape, be sure to check out their calendar of events. You might be able to catch one of their special events. See what we found in Fort Scott here.
Double Domes – Springfield, Illinois
Since 2018 had taken us to an assortment of capital cities, we had become enamored with these visits. Looking back at 2019, we realize that we might have created a tradition. At the end of April, we made a visit to Springfield, Illinois. We were surprised to find out that there are two capital domes located in this city. During discussions with the staff at Visit Springfield, we learned that there is a “sweet spot” where you can actually see both domes at once. You know that we would hunt it down and capture that image.
Generations of History
Over the past three years, we have become friends with a wide variety of people around the world. Each of them has specific topics that they enjoy reading about. We have connected with over 60 Facebook groups that focus on everything from Civil War history to Route 66 road trips. Springfield offers a wide spectrum of historical subjects, which ended up giving us plenty of things to write about. Whether you are an Abraham Lincoln fan, a Route 66 traveler, or love exploring Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes, you can do it all in Springfield. Here’s where you can find the places we visited.
Land of Big Lakes
Looking back at 2019, we added a couple of new states to our library of articles. While we had visited Wisconsin in the past, it was long before we started this website. A multiple city trip in late May gave us an opportunity to check out Kenosha, Wisconsin. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, this city is extremely foot-friendly. The downtown landscape is relatively flat, and there are a lot of attractions located within a 10-block area. For those needing a little extra assistance, they also have a retro streetcar loop that services many of the top attractions.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Kenosha offers a nice variety of stops that will easily fit into a family vacation plan. If you are looking for a memorable history lesson, you are sure to find it there. We found a lighthouse where we could get a birds-eye view out over the lake, as well as a rocky beach that got us up close to the lapping waves. What really impressed us was the availability of comfort food in Kenosha. Whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there are lots of options. You will even find a nice variety of sweet treats, as well. (See our stops here.)
Speaking of firsts, our visit to Dubuque was a chance to explore Iowa’s first city. This was actually our third city in this state to be featured on our website. Contrary to some opinions, there are a lot of fun destinations in this farm-rich state. An example was our lodging at Hotel Julien. This downtown historic hotel has seen such notable guests as Abraham Lincoln and Al Capone. Less than a half-mile away is the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. You will want to make sure you set aside plenty of time to truly explore this massive site.
Eats and Treats
Being located along the Mississippi River means that Dubuque has some unique attractions. Since the city was built along a bluff, we had a chance to tour an underground cave formation. Above ground, the fun stops kept coming. Only in Dubuque can you ride the World’s Shortest Incline Railway. Between attractions, we discovered that this Midwestern city has some amazing food options. As a matter of fact, it was my first time having peanut butter and jelly on a hamburger. By the way, it makes for a fantastic flavor combination. (See more Dubuque stops here.)
July brought a big road trip that would take us to four cities. Our first stop was in Lindsborg, Kansas, which has earned the nickname of “Little Sweden USA”. We love exploring these types of towns since they offer some good history lessons on how immigrants founded communities. We would discover that this town of 3500 residents welcomes visitors from all over the world. They are definitely friendly, and we found ourselves deep in conversation with the locals on many occasions.
History and Culture
We spent an entire Saturday exploring Lindsborg. Our first stop was at a coffee house that used to be a blacksmith shop. It was definitely the first time that we sipped our go-go juice while checking out an old forge. Just a block away is Hemslojd, where visitors can see and buy their own piece of Swedish culture. The Dala horse originated in Sweden, and at this colorful shop, they still have artisans on staff who add the delightful painted decorations. We mentioned that this town sees visitors from around the world, and during lunch, we learned about one of the most famous guests was Mikhail Gorbachev. (You can see all of our stops in Lindsborg here.)
Heading to the High Plains
The other new state that we would add to our website was Texas. This came from our visit to Amarillo, which is located in the heart of the Panhandle-Plains. While the land is relatively flat, like western Kansas, the elevation is higher. When we were planning this visit, we discovered that the 2nd largest canyon system, in the United States, is located just south of Amarillo. Adding a day in Palo Duro Canyon would include a variety of experiences. Hiking, zip-lining, and an exhilarating jeep ride filled our day with excitement. By sundown, we were ready to kick back and enjoy our turn at a long-running outdoor musical show.
Route 66 Goldmine
Amarillo offered another opportunity to explore some Route 66 landmarks. A decent stretch of the Mother Road runs directly through the largest city in the Panhandle. There is also plenty of fun stops found right in the heart of the city. While we didn’t challenge the 72 oz. steak dinner, we still enjoyed a visit to The Big Texan. Our entertainment options included museums, interactive outdoor art installations, and even a homegrown amusement park. This is definitely a fun-filled, family-friendly destination. (Check out some of these great stops to add to your itinerary.)
On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped by another outdoor art installation, which falls along Route 66. We are not sure how the tradition of adding your own spray-painted art to these types of stops started, but it does make for some colorful entertainment. Just about three hours to the east we came upon Weatherford, Oklahoma. This city is home to Tom Stafford, an American astronaut whose accolades include the Apollo 10 mission. While we only spent 24 hours in Weatherford, we uncovered some interesting sites. Those articles will begin in February 2020.
With only three travel seasons under our belts, we have only made one return visit so far. That was a stop in Oklahoma City, which we had visited in 2018. While our initial visit was a fun-filled three-day experience, we found that we ran out of time before seeing all the sights. Our Route 66 road trip gave us the perfect opportunity to rectify this oversight. Although we only had one day this visit, we were able to pack a ton of fun into those precious hours. These helped round out our collection of articles on Oklahoma’s capital city. (You can see all of our OKC articles here.)
Looking back at 2019, we also made our first excursion into Canada. Our friendly neighbors to the north welcomed us during our visit to Quebec City. Deciding to add Canada to our travels was obvious, since our focus is on North America. Of course, where do you start with a country filled with amazing destinations? After a little research, the obvious answer was beginning at the beginning. Quebec City was the first city in Canadian territory, so it was a perfect place to begin our exploration of the country.
An Unbelievable Trip
We have never traveled to Europe, but we have been told that Quebec City has the architecture that most closely resembles an Old World city. The idea of seeing all of the beautiful structures added to the excitement we had for this visit. What we found during our stay was that all of our expectations were met and even exceeded. Quebec City has to be one of the most romantic cities that can be found in North America. With four seasons of fun options, as well as some of the most amazing food we have found, it’s the perfect destination to explore. While there are a ton of family-friendly attractions, we found that it is also a great couple’s escape. While we have only recently begun to add articles about this destination, you can bet that there will be many more weeks of them. (You can find our series on his amazing destination here.)
Looking Back at 2019
We feel that 2019 was a break-out year for Our Changing Lives. The opportunity to add so many new destinations helped fuel our continued passion for exploration. Our biggest blessings came from the staff members at the local tourism bureaus that we had a chance to interact with. We cannot stress enough that local visitor bureaus are a great resource for information about destinations. After all, who knows a city better than the locals? Now that 2019 is in the books, it’s time to begin planning our trips for 2020. What cities would you like to see us showcase?