From the moment our alarm goes off in the morning, my wife and I run like a well-oiled machine as we wake, dress, and get the kids ready to be sent off to school. I wake them up, she gets them dressed, I pack the lunches, and whoosh, just like that, they are out the door. However, the cost of being so efficient and regimented with our daily tasks is that if you don't stop every once in a while, it's easy to lose touch with each other. Suddenly, instead of a loving husband and wife, you're just a couple of cogs in...well, in a well-oiled machine.
Visitors have been flocking to the Golden Isles since General James Oglethorpe brought the first settlers to St. Simons Island in 1736. For years, people have been mesmerized by the sweeping oak trees dripping with Spanish moss that form majestic tunnels with their sprawling branches. The combination of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and the playful call of seagulls is spellbinding. The fresh seafood, friendly locals and mild weather keeps visitors coming back year after year.
I was sorting through some old boxes in the attic when a smooth piece of wood, carved into the shape of a little cat, caught my eye. As I turned it over in my hand, I was suddenly 8 years old again, sitting in a rocking chair on my aunt's front porch. When I was young, my family made the trip each summer to the Smoky Mountains to visit her and escape the South Carolina heat.
Not every city has a natural, twenty-eight foot waterfall at the center of its downtown. But then every city isn't Greenville, South Carolina, a lively, modern town with roots buried deep in the surrounding Blue Ridge foothills. A nationally ranked arts festival, a star-studded pro-am golf tournament, and Scottish games enchant visitors for three successive weeks in May, but calendar-spanning attractions make Greenville a bucket-list destination year-round.
With at least one or two more inevitable snowfalls ahead of us, my husband and I decided to look south for a vacation that would give us a jumpstart on spring. Some place we could finally get outdoors and shake off the cabin fever we'd experienced since the holidays. Inspiration struck when I discovered Aiken County, South Carolina, an equestrian destination known for horse-filled days and the slow, relaxing evenings that make the south so ideal for vacations.
I've known Cathy for a long time, and we've remained friends through all life's ups and downs. Now that we live on opposite coasts, every couple of years we take a combined family vacation. Her clan is an active bunch and so is my niece Alison. Knowing how adventurous Cathy is, I suggest West Virginia, a destination known for being wild and wonderful.
Gone are the days when Tennessee's primary food culture was battered and fried, smothered and covered. Now, with a raised collective awareness on where ingredients are coming from, the concept of farm to table is all the rage - and Knoxville's culinary landscape has followed suit
Flying over a hill on an ATV, I had an epiphany: this family vacation might just be our best ever. Visiting Mercer County on our way north, we'd stopped to breathe in mountain air. A family of seasoned travelers, our active vacations had previously taken us zip-lining in Costa Rica, jaguar tracking in Belize, pyramid climbing in Mexico, urban foraging in New York and snorkeling in the Caribbean.
Knoxville has the benefit of enjoying the best of both worlds: It's not far from the base of the Great Smoky Mountains, the country's most visited national park, and is rife with greenery and parks of all kinds within its own borders - while bearing the distinction of being a bustling, mid-sized city with plenty to offer beyond the Great Outdoors.
An Out-of-This-World Experience at the SC Aquarium
Every year my husband and I take our two kids on a family vacation. We've gone camping, visited theme parks and seen the beauty of nature. Even with all of our traveling, we were not prepared for all of the exciting exhibits that the South Carolina Aquarium would offer.
My kids were raised on the coast, and they practically lived in the water during the summer. The year they were 10 and 13, I decided I wanted them to learn a little more about the creatures they were swimming with. Since we had a family vacation to South Carolina planned for that summer, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with something inspiring mixed in.
From the outside, the steeply sloped roofline and large, ornate windows would make it easy for anyone to guess at the original purpose of the large red brick structure at 578 West Main Street. Originally housing a Baptist church, this 20,000-square-foot building planted on a small hill just west of downtown Spartanburg serves today as home to nearly three dozen working artists at the West Main Artists Co-op—without a doubt one of the most unique destinations for local art in Spartanburg County.
My journey to becoming a cyclist began in the early 1980s when I bought my wife and me two Schwinn bicycles from the Great Escape in Spartanburg when the store was housed in what we called then "the old Sears building" across from the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.
We explored Tupelo, Mississippi last year, but if you ask any of my three kids, it felt like we were there yesterday! That's how vivid our memories of this charming Mississippi town are, and even my husband, who has a tendency to forget whether or not he's already eaten lunch, can tell you exactly what we did on each day of our vacation.
After seven years of marriage and one child, my husband and I decided it was time for a weekend getaway. As hard as it was to place our two-year-old into the hands of my parents and set out for three full days, I knew we would reap the benefits as we reconnected with each other. As we dropped the baby off and strapped into the front seats of our car, I wiped the mist from my eyes.
I'm a PANK - and you might be, too - a Professional Aunt, No Kids. Think fun, fashionable, well-traveled, and always eager to visit. Because we live on opposite sides of the country, like many PANKs I don't get to see my nieces and nephews nearly enough.
Every year, my gal pals and I take off on a girls-only vacation. Steph, Becca and I have known each other since middle school; we've all changed over our years together, but we're dedicated to keeping our friendship strong. I mean, we know each other's most embarrassing moments and have been each other's bridesmaids—you don't give up on a group like that.
It was the last week in July, and summer was just winding down. I was just about at the end of my wits after entertaining two teenage boys who were home from school for several months. We all had cabin fever and iPods and TV had run their course. My husband and I decided it was time for a change of scenery, so we planned a vacation to the Smoky Mountains in Sevierville, Tenn.
We pile out of the car and begin to heave our bags into the hotel as the hoots and hollers of, "The pool, the pool! When can we go swimming?" resonate through the lobby. For a moment, I ignore the obvious as I savor the delicious scents of the Deep South. I detect a mix of magnolia and hydrangea.