Travel smarter with Global Allianz

Emergency Help Overseas

Oh, the stories I could tell.  Over the seven years I spent as a travel agent, I saw a number of trips interrupted or cancelled because of medical and family emergencies.  The unthinkable happens – an appendix burst a few days before an international flight, a son passes away while cruising the Caribbean, or an epic snowstorm closes down an airport.  (Yes, these all happened to my clients)!  The most stressful?  My own mother’s medical emergency while visiting Europe.

Travel insurance is a vital piece of vacation planning. We purchased Allianz Global Assistance before taking our 3-week trip to Australia.  Traveling with small children, the last thing I wanted to be concerned about was lacking emergency assistance.  So much time and money goes into travel, and protecting that investment -and our health- was something I valued.

So, being the travel insurance advocate that I am, I was excited to hear how the TravelSmart™️ App by Allianz Global Assistance would give me even more confidence to travel safely.

The redesigned TravelSmart app makes it easier than ever to get help when traveling and manage your Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance policy.

Travel Safely with TravelSmart

The redesigned TravelSmart™️ app makes it easier than ever to get assistance while traveling!  First things first, you have instant access to your travel insurance policy.  Any Global Allianz travel insurance policy is accessible from the home screen.  You can even look at benefit allowances or download a PDF of the policy.

While dealing with an emergency, the last thing you want to be searching for is a chunk of papers in the bottom of your suitcase.  The TravelSmart™️ App allows travelers to file and track claims right from their smartphone.

When I flew to London to help with my mother’s emergency, it would have been so nice to have file a claim at the touch of a button.  Instead, in an effort to help out my dad and get the ball rolling, I spent lots of time in the hotel lobby inserting coins into a payphone.  Technology can really save time in the midst of an emergency.

Additionally, The TravelSmart™️ App has a Medication Dictionary which gives international names for 750 common drugs!   Instead of sending an email or making an expensive phone call to your doctor at home, the answer to drug names are right at your fingertips, any time of the day.  In addition, 60+ first aid terms are translated.  So, if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation at a foreign ER, you’ll know how to ask for the help you require.

TravelSmart App by Global Allianz. Offers a medical translator of over 700 common drug names.

Travelers in need of a doctor’s office, pharmacy, or police station, can use the app’s function titled, Assistance Around Me. The geolocation service links with Apple or Google Maps to give helpful directions.  Because 911 doesn’t work in every country, you can even access local ambulance numbers and dial them directly from the App.  Lost passport?  Directions to the closest embassy are included!

You’ll never travel alone

Often we think of travel insurance as only being for epic travel disasters or emergencies.  But what about lost luggage?  Delayed flights?  These happen frequently among travelers and TravelSmart™️ App by Global Alliaz can help you with these as well.

After entering your initial flight information, you’ll get real time updates on your flight status.  You can also file a claim for lost luggage directly from the App.

Travelers can also set their claim to be paid by direct deposit or debit card payment.  What a help this is for younger travelers (like me) that rarely visit a physical bank!  Also, for travelers on an extended trip, this leaves the possibility of receiving your money back before returning home.

There is no purchase necessary to download the TravelSmart App.  Feel free to give it a try!

Want more information on how the TravelSmart™️ App by Global Allianz could help you in an emergency?

Watch this short video:

Have you had an emergency during travel?  Can you see how this App would make your life easier?  I’d love to hear from you!

*This post was sponsored by Allianz Worldwide Assistance.  All opinions are my own.*


The TravelSmart App from Global Allianz allows you to view your travel insurance policy, get emergency help at the touch of a button, and file a claim directly from your phone. You'll never travel alone.

Holiday events within a 5-hour drive of Central Ohio

I’ve spent the last 15 years within an hour of Columbus, Ohio, so I’m finding I’m ready to get out and explore more of my home and neighboring states.  The Midwest (and Pennsylvania) enjoy a plethora of events to relish in Yuletide joy!

Here’s a guide to Christmas & holiday displays, including light shows, festivals, and shopping opportunities.


Ohio Girl Travels gives a rundown of Ohio’s Best Christmas Lights Displays.

Clifton Mill is less than an hour’s drive from Dayton or Columbus.  The day after Thanksgiving, the lights come on- over 3.5 million Christmas lights draping the banks around this historic grist mill.  You can read more about this breathtaking destination on Adventure Mom‘s blog, Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill.

Looking for a unique holiday experience?  How about taking a city light tour while riding a Segway?  SegWave of Sandusky, Ohio is offering one-hour holiday light tours of their downtown.  Nightly one-hour tours begin on November 25th!

For more on visiting Sandusky

Did you know that the Christmas Story house is based in Cleveland, OH?  Not only can you take a tour, you can stay the night!  Check out Mojo Traveler’s review of the tour HERE.

Holiday events within a 5 hour drive of Central Ohio
Credit: A Christmas Story House & Museum


I’ve always wanted to go to Bronner’s Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan! Bronner’s is the largest Christmas store IN THE WORLD.  Check out this post from Kana at Life in Wanderlust for more information on visiting!


Indiana is full of holiday cheer for the family.  Here’s a few things you won’t want to miss:

Holiday events within a short drive of Central Ohio
Fort Wayne’s Night of Lights

Downtown Fort Wayne offers the Night of Lights on November 22 (Thanksgiving Eve).  The night offers an appearance by Santa and his reindeer and concludes with fireworks at Parkview Field.  Fort Wayne also offers a Festival of Trees at the Embassy Theatre. This runs from Nov 22-29th.

For more on visiting Fort Wayne.

Indianapolis has some fun holiday events of it’s own.  Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice recommends Garfield Park’s Crossing at the Conservatory.  This is a family-friendly & budget-friendly holiday display.

Men may be even more excited than the ladies about Lights at the Brickyard, a drive-thru holiday display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  This year you can actually drive your vehicle on the oval and across the Yard of Bricks!  How fun?!  Before you go, purchase your tickets online!

Lights at the Indy 500 racetrack - Holiday events within a 5 hour drive of Columbus
The lights at Indy

If historic homes bursting with holiday decor are your thing, check out Madison, Indiana’s tour of homes taking place Nov 24 & 25 and Dec 1 & 2.  Madison is just 1.5 hours from Cincinnati!


Pittsburgh isn’t a bad drive from much of Central Ohio!  Karyn from Sand and Snow her best tips for visiting Pittsburgh during the holidays!

For more on visiting Pittsburgh.

West Virginia

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the Oglebay Festival of Lights.  Oglebay, outside of Wheeling, is one of the nation’s largest outdoor light displays.  They offer special programs like breakfast with Santa and Good Zoo’s reindeer training program.   Overnight packages are available, too!


What are some of your favorite holiday happenings in Ohio and her bordering states?

*This is not a sponsored post, but may contain affiliate links.


Holiday events within a 5-hour drive within Central Ohio. The best Christmas lights, experiences and happenings around Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Eat, drink, and buy all the goods in Wooster, Ohio

Things to do in downtown Wooster

I grew up a meager 30 minutes from downtown Wooster, Ohio-  Mr. Yoder and I even had our first date at the Wooster cinema!  Yet, other than just passing through, I hadn’t been to Wooster in over 10 years!

So when I was invited to Wooster to experience the small city as a travel blogger, my interest was piqued. I wondered, “What are we going to find to do in Wooster?”  I’m overjoyed to report that there are plenty of local restaurants, quaint shops, and plenty of coffeehouses.  Here’s my list of things to do in Wooster, Ohio

Where to eat:

Downtown Wooster has over 27 restaurants.  Say WHAT?  Yes!  Here are a few suggestions.

Broken Rocks Cafe – Fresh baked breads, homemade soups and sandwiches, and a full bar.  This is where the locals go for lunch hours and an evening with friends.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Broken Rocks Cafe

Basil Asian Bistro – Delicious Asian cuisine in a modern downtown location.  The perfect place for a date night, Basil offers outdoor dining and a full bar.

Spoon Market & Deli – This urban vibe of this cafe makes me think of Nashville, TN not Wooster, OH.  They serve all-day breakfast, plus lunch & dinner.  The bar is made of reclaimed materials and there’s even a small play area for kids. #allthepraisehands

Where to get coffee:

Wooster has no shortage of coffee houses.  I know where I’d find myself blogging a rainy day away.

Sure House Coffee – Located just steps away from the St. Paul Hotel, Sure House Coffee strives to use as many Fair Trade and local products as possible.

Tulipan Hungarian Bakery and Cafe –  Open since 2004, Tulipan offers pastries, croissants, and strudels, along with coffee & tea.  I love the small round tables and antique counter – it reminds me of the perfect place to have afternoon desserts with your best friend.

Things to do in Wooster, OH- Tulipan Cafe and Bakery

Templeton’s Scottish Bakery & Coffeehouse – Located in the basement of the Liberty Street Marketplace, Templeton’s does have the ambiance of being “across the pond.”  As if their name wasn’t enough to evoke the Scots, they also serve hot porridge for breakfast.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio

Where to shop:

Books In Stock – If perusing the aisles of a used and rare book store is up your alley, you’ll want to spend an afternoon at Books In Stock.  A downtown Wooster business for over 25 years, you can’t leave without something new to read.

The Urban Cottage – Farmhouse decor, reclaimed wood, and gifts for person that has everything.  If money was no object, this is where I’d buy ALL the things.

Blue Spruce Boutique – You might think you stepped into the likes of Anthropologie, but you’re still in downtown Wooster!  This boutique contains a curated collection of everything from baby gifts to succulents.  I’ll be going back to spend some of my Christmas cash, guaranteed!

Everything Rubbermaid – Rubbermaid isn’t made in Wooster anymore, but their flagship store still resides downtown.  You’ll find what the name says- EVERYTHING.  And for kiddos tired of sightseeing, they even have a play area.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Everything Rubbermaid

For everything else:

Faithful Little Cupcake – If you’ve already eaten too much, make sure you at least grab a half dozen of these glorious cupcakes to take home.  You’re welcome.

Meatheads Union– A trendy, butcher shop that also serves lunch.  They offer homemade sausages such as Mexican chorizo and German brats.

Grab a beer with friends at JAFB – Paul Fryman has been all over the world brewing beer, but in 2011, he decided to come back to his hometown.  The atmosphere in this renovated fire station has the character of a German beer hall.

Pick out a gift or take home groceries from Local Roots Market & Cafe – Seasonal and sustainable foods can be found, as well as local crafts.  I enjoyed looking at the handmade soaps and lotions.

Best Instagram spots:

Window art – located on Liberty Street, across from Broken Rocks Cafe.  Make sure your wings are straight, unlike mine!

Things to do in Wooster, OH- best Instagram spots

Before I die chalkboard mural – Add something from your Bucket List to this public art.  Located on Walnut Street, next to the Local Roots Market.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Best Instagram spots

Wayne County Courthouse – At the northwest corner of the square, the imposing courthouse is a similar style to Philadelphia city hall.

So there’s my list of things to do in downtown Wooster, Ohio!  I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface!  What’s your favorite?


Things to do in Wooster, Ohio. Where to eat, shop, and drink coffee. Wooster is a college town with lots of local businesses. You'll want to add this to your Ohio Bucket List. Things to do in Wooster, Ohio. Where to eat, shop, and drink coffee. Wooster, Ohio is home to the College of Wooster and full of things to do for the whole family.

I was hosted in Wooster, OH as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own.

5 FREE Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio

This post may contain affiliate links.

Central Ohio is the perfect place to enjoy the Christmas season with your family!  The chilled air and falling snow will get you in the mood to take in the sights and sounds with your children.  Here are 5 free Christmas events near Columbus, Ohio!

Scioto Mile Christmas lights

Bicentennial Park along the Scioto Mile is a great place to chill in the heat of summer, but now you can enjoy it once the holiday season hits.  The lights go on November 17th, but the inaugural celebration for 2017 will be a WinterFest event taking place on Saturday, December 2nd.  WinterFest includes a free concert of various local and national performers from 11 am- 4 pm.  Food trucks and beer vendors will also be present, with  a portion of food and beverage sales going to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  

If you can’t make it, the lights stay up until January, so swing by after that holiday party or business meeting.

Ohio Statehouse

The lights turn on December 7th at the family-friendly Holiday Festival, but there’s a chance to see the Victorian-era decorations the entire month (check website for times). Located in the center of downtown Columbus, you won’t want to miss the beauty and majesty of the Christmas at the Statehouse.  A visit is also a great way to sneak some education into a two-week Christmas break.

5 Free Christmas events near Columbus Ohio
Photo credit:

State Auto’s Nativity Scene

Bob Pein, State Auto’s Founder, began decorating the company’s downtown headquarters building in 1932 as a “Christmas gift to the community.” The present day decor, a life-sized Nativity scene, has become a destination for locals and travelers alike.  The display will open Tuesday, December 5th through New Years Day beginning at 5:30 pm each evening with local choirs performing on the weekends.  This may just be your new Christmas family tradition- and it’s absolutely FREE.  Check their website for special choir performances.

Village Lights in Historic German Village

Bundle up the kids and give them a taste of yesteryear as you begin the holiday season in German Village.  German Village is a FREE destination year-round, but when you add luminarias, a Christmas market, and warm beverages, you’ll feel more like you’ve been transported from Columbus, Ohio to Munich, Germany.  The Village Lights Festival is December 3rd from 5-9 pm.  Not only is the event free, but the parking is free as well, with a free shuttle running from 2 local parking lots.  More info HERE.

Granville Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour

A 30-minute drive from downtown Columbus: Granville, Ohio is like stepping foot into a small New England town.  Granville’s Christmas Candlelight Tour is completely free, yet you may want to pack a little cash (along with the kids) so you can enjoy a holiday beverage at a restaurant , or take the children on a magical horse-drawn carriage through the small city.  

Luminaries and lighted Christmas trees will line the streets making for a Winter Wonderland as you pop in and out of local churches to hear Christmas music.  The Granville Candlelight Walking Tour takes place December 2nd from 1-9 pm.  


Check current rates at Columbus hotels.


5 Free Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio. Take the family and enjoy a night out around the city- from a life-sized Nativity Scene to a Christmas Market or a WinterFest with music. You'll find it all in Central Ohio.















Best Christmas gifts for the travel-obsessed woman

**This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.**

Do you know this type of woman?  The one that asks for a special trip or a weekend away in lieu of fancy shoes or the latest electronic?  The mom that brags about recent adventures instead of her latest set of wheels?  Oh wait, I’m talking about me.  Anyhow, here’s my list of the best Christmas gifts for the travel-obsessed woman.  Someone send this to my husband, please. 😉

Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Try the World Snack Box

Even if a woman has everything, she still eats!  I love the idea of a snack box because it 1. doesn’t require grocery shopping and 2. can be used by a woman on the go!  The Try the World Snack box is a curated box of locally-made snacks from all over the globe.


AMIR Camera Lens Kit

This is THE gift for the lady who takes a slew of photos on her phone, and really who doesn’t?!  This lens set allows the traveler to take her photography up a notch with a fish-eye lens, a macro lens, and a wide-angle lens!  And it’s under $15.  Sometimes I just don’t want to haul my DSLR camera around, and I’d like to see how this would add to my photography skills without toting all the extra weight.


World Changer Coin Bank

While this bank is a beautiful way to save some travel funds, what is even more important is that it is Fair Trade!  The World Changer Coin Bank from Trades of Hope is crafted in Bangladesh, giving impoverished women the chance to provide for their families.


Best gifts for the travel obsessed woman

HopSooken Packing Cubes

I can’t sing the joys of packing cubes enough.  If there’s a woman on your list that is traveling soon, share with her the satisfaction of having extra room in her luggage and removing clothes that are UNWRINKLED.  I pack each of my children in a different cube, so unpacking is a breeze and then THEY can be in charge of their individual cube.  My set didn’t come with a laundry bag, and this one definitely beats having to bring extra plastic bags.


Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Map art from Minted

I adore this map artwork from Minted.  It may be meant for a child’s room, but I think it could go in many spaces.  Minted also offers artwork of different cities, it would be easy to find something for the traveling woman!  As a perk, you’ll earn 4 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points for every $1 you spend at the shop!  Now that’s something to celebrate.  Get the Chrome extension HERE.


Winter shawl/scarf

I know I had a scarf on last year’s holiday list, but they really are the most versatile thing in a traveling mom’s closet.  On our beach trip this summer, I wore a lightweight scarf and it came in handy when we encountered a rank-smelling rest stop bathroom. Yes, you can even breathe into them!  #keepingitreal Scarves can add statement to an outfit, serve as a wrap on a cold airplane, cover a nursing baby, etc etc etc.  Buy all the scarves.  This one is under $15, too!


Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Clear Bottom Inflatable Raft

What more does an over-extended lady need than a clear-bottomed raft to watch the ocean move beneath her?  I DON’T KNOW.  Get out, skipper, Momma’s ready for a rest while watching the fishies. We’ve been talking for ages about visiting Hawaii in 2018 and I think all I’d need to pack is a bathing suit, my sweet family, and this.

Fossil Passport Cover

This pretty in pink passport cover is the perfect stocking stuffer for the frequent traveler.


What’s on your Christmas list?  Any of these items make the cut? 




Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Amish Country, Ohio has no shortage of restaurants to please your palate.  When I was growing up, it was hard to find much outside of  roast beef & chicken with mashed potatoes- however, Amish Country now offers plenty of unique flavors, plus some old favorites.

While visiting Holmes County and surrounds, you’ll find a plethora of baked goods and full dinners .  It’s difficult to narrow down  the best restaurant at which to eat, so I’ve compiled my own list of the best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio.  Here are all the details:

Der Dutchman

Walnut Creek’s staple restaurant, Der Dutchman, began in 1969 in an old hardware store.  The newer location’s dining room includes a sweeping view over a valley of farmland, making this one of the most nostalgic places to eat in Holmes County.  An attached bakery allows visitors to take home the restaurants’ baked goods and  assortment of pies.   My husband recommends the broasted chicken, while my mother recommends you leave room for the red raspberry cream pie.

Der Dutchman is located at 4967 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH 44687.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 7 am- 8 pm.

Rebecca’s Bistro

If you’re visiting Amish Country as a tourist, but want to eat where the locals eat, be sure to stop by Rebecca’s Bistro.  Rebecca’s is only open for breakfast & lunch.  Customers rave about their fresh salads and homemade soups.  Outdoor dining is available during the summer, where you’ll watch Amish buggies clip-clop through the busy streets of downtown Walnut Creek.

Rebecca’s Bistro is located at 4986 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 8 am – 3 pm.

Olde World Bakery & Bistro

Olde World Bakery and Bistro takes it’s name from it’s approach to baking in an old-fashioned way.  Their goods are made without hydrogenated oils, box mixes, or bleached flours.  Finding gluten-free dining options in Amish Country is rare, but Olde World Bakery offers them!    This is a fun place to eat with a friend, the dining room is ample and the service is quick enough to meet on a lunch break.

Olde World Bakery is located in Berlin and Millersburg.  I recommend their downtown Millersburg location at 73 W. Jackson Street.  Hours are 8 am – 8 pm Monday- Saturday.

Best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant

Another long-standing staple of Amish Country is the Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant.  As you drive by in downtown Berlin, you may notice the restaurant by the line out the door!  Locals have been visiting the place since it was a grocery store with a dining counter back in the 1940s, but now travelers have caught on to their affordable meals, large serving sizes, and a large variety of pies.  Believe it or not, Boyd and Wurthmann will still serve you a cup of coffee for 75 cents!  If your belly is too full for a meal, this is the place to sit at the counter for a piece of pie and a cup of coffee!

Boyd and Wurthmann is located at  4819 East Main Street, Berlin.  They are open from 5:30 am- 7:30 pm Monday – Saturday.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio - Boyd and Wurthmann

Bags Sports Pub

Too tired of country-style cooking or want a craft beer?    Bags Sports Pub is the place for you to eat in Amish Country!  Bags is a locally-owned pub with a full bar and daily lunch and dinner specials.  There are locations in both Millersburg and Sugarcreek, but I prefer the Millersburg location for its proximity to Millersburg Brewery, and it’s spot on the square overlooking the impressive courthouse! My favorite at Bags is the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich on a pretzel bun (pictured below), while my husband adores the Jalapeno Burger.  Whatever you choose, make sure you try the pretzel bun AND enjoy a local brew from the Millersburg Brewery.  Also, Bags IS open on Sundays!  A rarity in Holmes County.

Bags Sports Pub,  Jackson St, Millersburg – Open Sunday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am- 10 pm.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Quince Bakery & Cafe

Located in Kidron, Ohio, across the road from Lehman’s Hardware; Quince is another delicious stop to add to your favorite places to eat in Amish Country.  You can eat here for breakfast or lunch or pop in for a donut or cookies to take with you.  There’s a daily soup special as well as different cookie and pie selections to look forward to, so no visit will be the same.

Quince Bakery is located at 4776 Kidron Rd, Kidron.  They are open Tuesday- Saturday from 7 am – 3 pm.


What do you consider the BEST place to eat in Amish Country, Ohio?  Leave a comment with your answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card!  Make sure you secure your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below, too!!


This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal.

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The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

St. Paul Hotel – Wooster, Ohio

Downtown hotel in the heart of Wayne County

Not going to lie, I’m a hotel snob.  I like lush bedding, a spacious bathroom, and good breakfast options.  Imagine my surprise when I found this all at a boutique hotel in small-town Ohio?  Yes, it’s true.  The St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, Ohio is sure to please even the snobbiest of travelers (cough cough, me)!

The St. Paul Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Wooster, just two blocks from the square.  There are numerous dining and coffee options within a very short walk.

If you’re looking for modern conveniences, the St. Paul Hotel offers in room Wi-Fi, heated bathroom floor tiles (ohmygoodness, heavenly), and a rainwater shower plus a hand-held shower wand!  I appreciated that my corner room also had numerous windows and a Keurig coffeemaker.  The amenities kit was Tommy Bahama products.

St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, OhioSt. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

Maybe what impressed me the most was the history behind this hotel.  The St. Paul hotel has been rebirthed from it’s former life!  From the the early 1900s-1970s, the building did operate as a hotel, but it had a questionable past as a place of basement betting and card games.  Little history is known about those early years as a hotel- although there would have only been one guest bathroom per floor.  In the 1970s, the hotel was purchased by a non-profit group and turned into a subsidized housing, which was used until 2008.

At that time, the non-profit went out of business and a local developer came up with the idea for a boutique hotel.  While the building sustained an entire “gut job,” the interior brick walls were saved for the trendy exposed brick feature.  Dressers, beds, and desks were made by a company in Orrville, Ohio.  Each shower is enclosed with tempered glass made by the Wooster Glass Company.  My favorite piece of the interior may be this piece of stained glassed located in the hotel lobby.  The St. Paul O.P.N. glass was found at a Wooster antique store.  The hotel seems to fully encompass the ingenuity and history of the community – something I really enjoyed!St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

The St Paul Hotel is the only property to service the downtown Wooster area.  Parking is free and getting around the small city by foot or car is very easy.  Wooster is located less than 30 minutes to Ohio’s Amish Country and close to attractions like Secrest Arboretum and the J.M. Smucker company store.

I would recommend the St. Paul Hotel for a romantic getaway or a birthday celebration.  The hotel would also work for family travel, but do note that the rooms do not have bathtubs.  Check rates now.

Have you visited Wooster?  Where have you stayed?

**I was hosted at the St. Paul Hotel as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own**


St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio- downtown boutique hotel

Enjoying history and scenery in Summit Metro Parks

As much as I love going on a hike, very few things can beat a FALL Ohio hike.  No 98% humidity, fewer bugs, and the crunch of leaves underfoot.  #Perfection.  On our first trip to Summit Metro Parks, we were given the most glorious autumn day, and the history and scenery that we encountered did not disappoint.

Our first stop in Summit Metro Parks was Gorge Metro Park (on my 2017 Travel Bucket List)!  Gorge Metro Park is located in Cuyahoga Falls, OH and is an outstanding place to enjoy views of the Cuyahoga River, a large cave, and even do some fishing.

We ventured out on the Gorge Trail (aptly named) in hopes to see the Mary Campbell Cave.  The cave is named after a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl that was kidnapped from her home by the Delaware Indians. She was released 5 years later, in 1764, at the close of the French & Indian War.  It is believed that she dwelt in the cave with the Native Americans!

The history is fascinating, and the size of the cave is more than I expected.

Summit Metro Parks- Gorge Trail Mary Campbell Cave- Summit Metro Parks

Unfortunately, the upper trail was closed past the cave, so we took the trail shortcut down to the Observation Deck.  I could have sat here for hours and listened to the waterfall created by the Dam.  Tourists have been flocking to this area since the late 1800s, at one time a small amusement park was adjoined!

Summit Metro Parks- Dam Summit Metro Parks- Observation Deck

While the Observation Deck isn’t handicap accessible or stroller-friendly, shortly after this the Gorge Trail does become paved. If you’re looking for a short trail to take unsteady feet, this would be a good one (See-> Best Ohio Hikes for Kids).

The kiddos were getting a little antsy, so we headed back to the car for some snacks and scoped out our next stop within Summit Metro Parks.

I’d read something briefly about an Indian Signal Tree and thought this would be a piece of homeschooling history that we could not miss!  The Indian Signal Tree is located in the Chuckery area of Cascade Valley Metro Park.  This bur oak is over 300 years old and was used by the Natives to find their way from the Cuyahoga River to Summit Lake.  My mind wandered to the countless history that this tree has witnessed!  I sat there in disbelief – that for most of my life I’ve lived less than 2-3 hours away and yet didn’t know this existed?  This is why we choose to explore nearby areas and view local destinations as important as those that are hundreds or thousands of miles away!

Summit Metro Parks- Signal Tree

The Signal Tree is only about 100 yards from the closest parking spot, so this is an easy place to jump out and learn some history.  There is an attached 2.4 mile Chuckery Trail, but we did not venture on it.

Captivated by Summit Metro Parks, we wanted to make one more stop before heading home.  I’d seen pictures of an Overlook on Instagram but we weren’t sure where to look.  Luckily, on our drive into Cuyahoga Falls looking for some dinner, we passed right by the parking lot for the Overlook Trail!

The Overlook Trail is also located with the Cascade Valley Metro Park, but in a different area than the Signal Tree.

The half mile trail is paved and ADA compliant.  We forgot to bring a stroller (#fail), but it’s not a hilly path and was easy enough for our tired kiddos.

This is the perfect Instagram spot for fall foliage.  I think we missed it by a week.


While we enjoyed a perfect combo of weather and scenery at Summit Metro Parks, my favorite part of our visit was the friendly Northeast Ohio personalities we walked by throughout the day.  Nearly everyone said “hello” or spoke with us about our kids!  I always feel like a hike in the woods connects me to our children and our Creator, but this day also encouraged me with the gleaming show of Midwestern hospitality.

Have you been to Summit Metro Parks?  What was your favorite hike?  We still have so much more to explore!



Summit Metro Parks- Northeast Ohio- Family-friendly hiking, history, and scenery.

5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids

Sandusky, Ohio is a small city on the shores of Lake Erie that has a ton to offer families!  Sandusky is well-known as the home to  Cedar Point, but most people spend a day on the rollercoasters and then leave town (raised hand here).  However, there’s so many reasons to stay and play in Sandusky.  Here are my suggestions of 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!

#1 Enjoy top notch museums

I would not have thought of Sandusky, a city of only 25,000 people, having two fantastic museums!  I learned so much at both the Maritime Museum AND the The Merry-Go-Round Museum!

The Merry-Go-Round Museum is situated in the old Sandusky Post Office.  The circular building made for the perfect place to house a full 1920s Carousel.  I learned so many facts about Carousels- Did you know that every Carousel has a lead horse where the ticket taker would know to start and stop?  Did you know that British carousels go clockwise, but everywhere else they are counter-clockwise?  Or that carousels date all the way back to the 12th century?  Someone sign me up for jeopardy, this museum was a goldmine!

Kids will enjoy getting to ride on the historic Carousel (included in admission) that travels 9 mph!  If you’re weak in the stomach, I don’t recommend coming right after a very filling hotel breakfast.  I speak from experience!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- The Merry-Go-Round Museum

The Maritime Museum was another welcome surprise.  Sandusky’s location on Lake Erie makes for a history brimming with nautical mystery and drama.  The location wasn’t just known for shipping and ferries though, in the late 1900s, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City!  Children can also learn how Sandusky played a role in the Underground Railroad.  This was the last stop before former slaves could catch the ferry over to Canada.

Lastly, kids will love this interact pirate ship!  Yes, Lake Erie even had her share of pirates!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum gives a family discount, offering immediate families admission for just $14.  This is a great deal- allot 90+ minutes to spend here.

#2 Hit the water

You can’t be right on the shores of Lake Erie and not enjoy some water activities!  Kids of all ages will enjoy Sandusky’s Goodtime I.  We took a sunset cruise and enjoyed both scenic views and Cedar Point.  Food and beverage can be purchased onboard- for adults that’s a full bar, and there were pizza slices for kids!  This is a relaxing way to end a day in Sandusky, and prices are affordable- costing our family of 5 less than $30 (under 5 are free).

Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Goodtime I sunset cruise

For the more adventurous, and those with teens, check out Air1Airboats out of East Sandusky Bay!  This was not my first airboat ride, but it was my first trip on rough waters!  What a hoot!  I’m glad I packed my rain jacket (similar), because we got WET!Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Airboat tour

#3 Fill your tummies

Sandusky has no shortage of fantastic places to dine!

How about a locally-sourced breakfast or brunch at Bates Farm Kitchen?  Large portions of biscuits and gravy and farm-fresh omelets were on the seasonal menu.  Chef Clint uses ingredients that you’ll be happy to let your kids indulge in!  I know my kids would enjoy the french toast with Ohio maple syrup.

Needing to caffeinate after a busy day with kids?  Try the new(ish) Boomtown Coffee!  I tried a nitrogen-infused cold brew (think coffee that comes from a tap and looks like a beer).  It was amazing- definitely a pick-me-up!

Wanting a lakefront lunch?  Try the Dockside Cafe.  Not only does the cafe offer up gorgeous vistas of the lake, the food is casual, kid-friendly fare.  (They are open seasonally- only til October 1 this year- so hurry).Things to do with kids in Sandusky- Dockside Cafe

Looking to affirm your sweet tooth?  Toft’s Dairy is a Sandusky institution for all things dairy- including their famous ice cream!  Visit their parlor on Venice Road to try the many flavors.  I love the story behind Toft’s family business, including the fact that all of their milk comes from farms located within a 50 mile radius.

#4 Cruise around town (in an atypical way)

For kids 14 and older, what better way to engage them in the history of Sandusky, than by doing so while riding a Segway?  Yes, Sandusky has it’s own Segway tour!  Jim, owner of Segwave, has the patience of Job with those that are a little nervous or unsure (i.e. – ME).  Jim offers 1 and 2 hour tours of Sandusky, and plenty of training time to get acclimated on the device.  Your favorite part will be cruising right by Lake Erie (and crossing your fingers that the Segway floats).  Just kidding!

#5 Play it up

When we pulled up to Ghostly Manor, I wasn’t so sure if this would be a place I could recommend.  My 7-yr old is afraid of  simple Halloween decorations, so the giant dragon at the door isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a kid-friendly playhouse.  Once inside, I could see why this is the perfect place for the whole family to hang out.  From a roller skating rink to an Escape Room, kids of all ages will be happy.  There is also a haunted house, black light golf, a jungle jym, and arcade games.  Our group of adults did the Missing Deed Escape Room, which was much harder than I expected, we needed various clue to help us get out!

Ghostly Manor is a place you could visit in Sandusky again and again.  I’d consider taking my young ones there if traveling with older children that wanted to be at Cedar Point or nearby Haunted Houses.

So there’s my Top 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!  Have you been to Sandusky?  Were you like me and chose to hit up Cedar Point and then call it a day?  I urge you to add more time to your stay!  Sandusky is celebrating it’s bicentennial in 2018 (more coming soon) and there is tons of revitalization in the works.  You won’t want to miss it!

* I was hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands on a media trip.  All opinions are my own.*


Fall Reading List – 2017

I blinked and summer is behind us.  Booo.  But never fear, there is fall-foliage, crisp mornings, and chilly evenings that all make it a perfect time to curl up with a good book.  I’m excited to share with you my fall reading list for 2017!

Fall reading list for 2017.  What I'm reading this fall.

Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do – Chris Guillebeau is best known in travel circles for having visited all 193 countries.  However, he’s been able to build a remote worklife and his lifestyle is intriguing.  I’m most interested in his chapters on entrepreneurship and building a loyal following.

Mother of God – Mother of God is the Madre de Dios, a region of west Peru where the Amazon River begins its course. Paul Rosolie, the author, was only 18 when he left to explore this vast jungle.  You know they say that readers make the best writers, and I’m hoping that reading this travelogue will help me as I write about my travels (albeit I don’t plan to have any anacondas on my trips).

So Happiness to Meet You – From the publisher, “After job losses and the housing crash, the author and her family leave L.A. to start over in a most unlikely place: a nine-foot-wide back-alley house in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s poorest districts, where neighbors unabashedly stare into windows, generously share their barbecued rat, keep cockroaches for luck, and ultimately help her find joy without Western trappings.”  Just released in July, this is sure to be a fascinating read!

The Power of the Other – From the publisher, “Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse.”  Ahhh, preach!  “Combining engaging case studies, persuasive findings from cutting-edge brain research, and examples from his consulting practice, Dr. Cloud argues that whether you’re a Navy SEAL or a corporate executive, outstanding performance depends on having the right kind of connections to fuel personal growth and minimize toxic associations and their effects.” From Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the popular Boundaries, this is sure to be a helpful book!

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – I can’t think of anything more exciting than a trip around the world, which, in 2017, doesn’t involve much drama, thanks to efficient airplanes and affordable travel options. However this trip takes place in 1899!  Two women, both leaving from NYC, try to break the record for the fastest trip around the world.  Nellie heads east by steamship and Elizabeth heads west by train. I can’t wait to dive into it!

Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys – Folks, can I just say, raising boys is hard?  Especially the strong-willed one that questions EVERY. LITTLE. THING.  I’m always open to new wisdom, and this book came highly recommended.  It will make a great addition to my fall reading.

What are you reading this fall?  I’d love to know!

PIN THIS:Fall Reading list for Fall 2017. Books to read in 2017.