Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD

Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD

Whoa, has life been busy! Between work, moving, doing some renovations at our house and a zillion doctors appointments there is hasn’t been much time or energy left for blogging. I sure have missed it! Though we have had the itch to travel this summer, we’ve been spending all our money and time on our new home, which is so worth it before the little one arrives soon. We did get to spend some time during our short staycation at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland. My family has a place there and it’s always a nice getaway. Obviously spending time on the lake itself is so fun! Who can deny some sunshine, boat blown hair and jumping in the lake? But this summer had me thinking that some of my best memories at Deep Creek actually aren’t on the lake. There are so many fun things to around the lake, so I figured I’d share my favorites!

  1. Swallow Falls State Park 
    • This one will come up a lot if you search the area for things to do, but there is a reason for it!  It’s a beautiful park with gorgeous waterfalls. In the summer you will find people swimming in the water. I like it best in the early morning when you can follow the easy trail to see multiple different falls… quietly!Things to do In Deep Creek Lake, MD- Swallow Falls
  2. Deep Creek Lavender Farm
    • Mmm, the smell of fresh lavender is so relaxing! They have limited hours so be sure to check their website, but I have shown up when they were closed and just took in the pretty views and smell. If you go when they are actually open you can pick your own lavender and shop in their little store. It’s so quaint!Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD- Lavender Farm
  3. Day-fire
    • Relax and enjoy the outdoors! Now I know you’re thinking this one is silly, but I’m encouraging you to have a campfire during the day! It’s our family’s favorite time to do so. With little ones around, it’s shifted this way and I think we all like it better! It makes it easy for cooking up some fun and different foods on the fire. Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD- Day-Fire
  4. Candyland
    • Do you love candy? Take a drive into the Oakland and treat yo self to aisles of any and every kind of candy you can imagine! There is also a nice variety of Amish food products. You can find it at 12679 Garrett Hwy, 21550 Oakland. Now, don’t get a stomach ache!Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD- Candyland
  5. Firefly Farms Creamery & Market
    • Cheese lovers, look no further! They are actually making cheese here… like for real. So go hungry, taste some different cheeses that are oh-so-fresh and take some home to munch all night long! The staff here is so friendly will walk you all the cheese flavors. They also do cheese pairings with wine, but you’ll need to plan ahead for that. I haven’t done that just yet, so if you do, let me know what you think! Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD- Firefly Farms(photo taken from FireFly Farms Facebook page)
  6. Take a day trip! My two favorites are to either Grantsville, MD or Thomas WV.
    1. Grantsville, MD is about a 30-minute drive from the lake, but it’s a fun change of pace! Do some shopping at the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, eat lunch at The Cornucopia Cafè and visited the Casselman Bridge.Things to do in Deep Creek Lake, MD- Day trip to Grantsville, MD
    2. Thomas, WV is about a 60-minute drive if you’re up for something a little further. You’ll see the “Smallest Church in 50 States” that you can stop at on the way to break up the drive. The town of Thomas has an amazing art scene, which was such a surprise that we stumbled upon while driving to Blackwater Falls State Park. If you’re a sucker for waterfalls like myself, you’ll love this park! Be sure to make time for the Lindy Point trail for some amazing views. When you’ve worked up a hunger, stop at The Purple Fiddle. If you’re lucky you’ll stop in right in time for some live music!
  7. Schoolhouse Earth
    • If you’re a shopper, this is a must! It’s such a fun and unique store to browse. There is some gorgeous jewelry, gifts, gourmet food, and tons of home goods. Not to mention there are some animals out back for the kiddos to feed!

There dozens of other spots to check out while at the lake like the Honi Honi, Fun Land, golfing, and some other spots that are more well known. Am I missing something you love to do while there? Let me know!

I hope you find some fun off the beaten path and enjoy your time at Deep Creek!

Xo, Anna

Our trip to Nashville, TN

Our trip to Nashville, TNHi, guys!

Todays’ blog post is a flashback Friday, because well, life has been crazy busy! This post is from the original blog that I had a few years ago and I always find myself referring to it when people ask for recommendations. Nashville was one of our favorite trips! Now thinking about that, we may say that about all the places we have been. But, this one isn’t too far away from PA and is a perfect trip for a long weekend. Funny enough, Nick was then just my boyfriend and looking back, this was the trip that sealed the deal for me! I wasn’t letting him go after how much fun we had on our first road trip together. Read on for the whole story!

May 4, 2014

If you know me well, you know I always talked about going to Nashville. Last spring, I was telling Nick all about how I wanted to go and to my surprise my non-country listening boyfriend said, let’s go! By doing some research we found that Nashville has a “Music City July 4th” festival every year with all kinds of free music, fireworks and more! So we decided to plan our trip during that time and I waited patiently for July to come.

July was quickly approaching and as always I was on my computer doing research on bars, restaurants and other things going on in Nashville. I stumbled upon the Grand Old Opry and realized that Carrie Underwood was in town performing one evening during our stay. Of course, I got really excited and then went to work asking the girls if they thought I could convince Nick into going to see Carrie with me while we were there. Their response was, “What guy wouldn’t want to watch Carrie?”. Knowing that I’d see Nick that evening, I had my speech ready to try and convince him that we needed to go to the Opry! In the middle of my begging, he had a big grin on his face and asks me why I always ruin my own surprises. Which is true, I accidentally always do this! Apparently, he had already gotten the tickets and was going to surprise me when we got there!!! Have I mentioned how great of a guy Nick is?

The day we were leaving arrived and I had my cowgirl boots packed up ready to go! The drive there was pretty easy and not too. too long. As always, we had fun killing time listening to the 7 mix CDs I had made for the trip. We stopped for a while on Kentucky Bourbon trail for exploring and got to our hotel in no time!

I’m pretty sure the rain started as soon as we arrived and would only stop for short amounts of time during our entire trip, but we tried not to let it damper our moods! We booked a hotel within walking distance to Broadway (strategically) and did a lot of exploring. I’ll break it down by the three best parts of Nashville.. the food, the bars and the music!

Food:
We ate very well during our long weekend. Some of our favorites were Merchants, 417 Union, and Jack’s. All of these places were downtown and were recommendations from others. We ate at 417 Union twice during our visit because it was so close to our hotel and delish! I would recommend their breakfast AND dinner. Jack’s had awesome barbecue food and we got there just in time before there was a line out the door waiting! Merchants had a throwback-cool vibe with awesome specialty drinks.

Bars:
The best thing about Nashville bars is the live music. The second best thing about Nashville bars is that there is NO cover charge. We did a lot of bar hopping down Broadway, which is what you are supposed to do right? Every bar not only had live music, but each of these cover bands were really good. Our favorites were Tootsies, Whiskey Bent Salon, and Silver Dollar Saloon. To say the least, we had a good time drinking, dancing and listening to the music. Not that into country music? That’s okay because a lot of these bands were playing rock too! The only thing I didn’t like about any of the bars is that when the bands were taking a break, they come around practically begging you for any cash you have. I guess that’s what will happen when they aren’t charging a cover at the door. We made plenty of friends from all over the states and we all agreed on something… we loved Nashville!!!
1070044_921435055325_763828807_n
Music:
We were there during the Music City July 4th festival hoping to spend the day in the streets listening to band after band. Unfortunately, because of the rain, practically everything was canceled. Understandably so, because I sure didn’t want to stand outside in the pouring rain all day. They kept the main event scheduled which was The Band Perry and fireworks! We braved the crappy weather and joined the massive amounts of people and could pretty much only hear The Band Perry. It was still fun and we weren’t too bummed because they were playing with Carrie Underwood at the Opry the next night. Add in all the other music from the cover bands we had been listening to the entire time we were there and we were musically satisfied. I couldn’t wait to get to the Grand Old Opry. Talk about a cool experience. They have been recording live shows there since forever and playing them on the radio. All of the artists play a few songs then the next one comes on. Of course, between the artist’s commercials played. There were plenty of older country artists that we didn’t know, but the whole experience was unlike any other. The Band Perry was fantastic, but I was just so excited for Carrie. When she came on, the old people left and the young went wild. She is so unbelievably talented! While visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, she was the featured exhibit. We got to see all of her stages costumes as well as some other things. The museum wasn’t my favorite compared to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, but still interesting. Anyway, after visiting Nashville it is very clear on why it is called Music City!

As you can see I have a lot to say about this weekend that went by way too fast. Nick and I still talk about how much fun we had there. We also continuously talk about how we can’t wait to go back! That’s all for now! XO

Hawaii- Part Two

part2Aloha, again!

I hope you enjoyed my first post about our trip to Hawaii. It truly is a beautiful state and I had a dream last night that we booked a trip back! Though Waikiki was fun, we were ready to get away from all the hustle and bustle and check out another great spot of Oahu that I found while doing some research. We booked an Airbnb and when Nick was done working for the week, we took the scenic route to the North Shore. First off, I would highly recommend you take the long way when doing this drive to be along the coast. It’s truly beautiful! The photo above was taken from the car. The North Shore of the island is so much more laid back and much more our speed. Haleiwa is the main town there which looked like it was taken straight out of some sort of surfer movie. It was quaint and so much more relaxed than where we had just been. Noticing the laid back trend yet? There is only one resort in the area! Here is where we stayed, The Little Studio by the Sea. If you find yourself needing a place in the North Shore, I highly recommend it. So like Hawaii- Part One, I’ll run through what were my favorite activities:

Ziplining

Lucky for me, Nick had a surprise planned for me during our first day of “official” vacation since he was finally done working! We were going ziplining!! So this was a bucket list item for me that I was also always kind of worried about so never pursued. He booked us a tour with CLIMB Works and the adventure started right from what beginning where we took an ATV ride up the mountain. It was all seriously SO FUN! Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous every-single-time it was time to let go, but the staff was incredible. They were entertaining, personable and knew their stuff. Their mission, in a nutshell, is that CLIMB is an acronym: Challenge. Learn. Inspire. Master. Believe. It was super inspiring and they eased you into pushing yourself within the course. Plus, it’s through their farm, which meant tropical snacks along the way!

fullsizeoutput_c5d

Snorkeling

One of the major perks we found through Airbnb was that our place had all the beach equipment you could need while on vacation, which included snorkeling gear. To get to one of the most popular snorkeling locations in the area, we just had to walk down the street and we were there at Sharks Cove! It was pretty crowded there and no sharks were in sight (whew). We ended up going out a little further away from all the kiddos and explored until our hearts were content. It’s so cool to see the fish and coral in their natural state! I didn’t take the camera with us, but we walked back in the morning to snap a quick photo of our snorkel spot!

sharkscove

Food Trucks

Holy food trucks. If you haven’t figured out yet, we happen to be staying in the best sport ever and we were also next to food truck heaven! We ate at a lot of different places and even had the very popular garlic shrimp at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, but we had two favorites.

The first was the pizza from Impossibles Pizza, sounds crazy, I know. Pizza in a food truck is good? We put in our order while walking down for sunset and it was ready for pickup by the time we walked back. You can see for yourselves with the reviews! Though we heard when the surf is good you can’t find this truck anywhere. I’m 100% serious. Hawaiin life sounds pretty amazing sometimes.

The second was Aji Limo, where we both had poke bowl dishes. Poke is kinda like raw seafood salad, that is a cross between sushi and ceviche. It’s seriously so good and I don’t know how I didn’t have it in my life for 28 years!

Beaches

We opted for a beach day over shopping in Haleiwa basically for lack of space to bring back and because we are in Hawaii after all! All of the beaches are gorgeous, we hopped around to a few, but we spent most of our time at Waiamea Bay and Three Tables Beach. We relaxed, took in the sunshine and watched some surfers catch the waves! We spent our last day beaching it until dark. I couldn’t think of a better way to end our trip.

sunset

Just like that our two night adventure in the North Shore and our Hawaii trip had come to an end. We endured the ten hour flight and were back in the chilly Pittsburgh. It was a trip that I will alway be very gracious for, for many different reasons. But, the main reason was that it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life and was an amazing recharge for a start to new career chapter. Mahalo, Hawaii for being so friendly and beautiful. Until next time…

XO, Anna

Hawaii- Part One

Hawaii- Part OneAloha!! Holy cow guys, it’s been 3 months since we were in Hawaii and I’m still swooning over here like we just got back. Nick gets to travel quite a bit for work and when his work trip to Hawaii came up (total job envy!), I just had to go with him! Not only would it make it affordable, it was somewhere I’ve been dying to go! I have so much to share about the trip so I’m going to split it up into two parts. The first part of our trip was spent in Waikiki because that’s where Nick needed to be for work. We stayed at the beautiful Waikiki Beach Mariott Resort, right on the beach! Waikiki is a bustling place, to say the least. It’s super commercialize which was fine for a couple days because it’s still stunning there! Since I spent most of the days solo while Nick actually had to work (bummer) I did a lot of exploring and relaxing on the beach/pool. Here is a quick recap of a few of my favorite activities around the area!

Hawaii- Part One Manoa FallsManoa Falls

So I have a thing for waterfalls and I wasn’t leaving Hawaii without seeing one. With major jet lag, we were all messed up and kept waking up super early. So we took advantage of it the first morning and went to Manoa Falls bright and early for a hike. Just a short drive out of the city and you are in the lush mountains of the Oahu island. It was a fun and easy hike that introduced us to a different side of Hawaii. It was gorgeous and unlike any hike I’ve ever done. Everything was vibrant green unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The lush forest of bamboo with it’s pop of florals was a beautiful sight to see. We made it to the waterfall and it was the most breathtaking waterfall I’ve ever seen. It was SO tall! I could’ve hung out there all day, but the bug bites were getting outa control even with all my bug spray. We headed back and they were making lei’s in the resort lobby. YES!

Hawaii- Part One- Luau Luau at the Waikiki Aquarium

We felt obligated to get to a luau while visiting because what better way is there to really get into the Hawaiian vacation spirit? Was it touristy? Absolutely. Was it fun? Absolutely. When planning the trip I randomly checked Groupon and there was one for the Diamond Head Luau. Score! Because luau’s are not cheap. It was in walking distance to our hotel and a great price so we went for it. There was lei making, ukulele lessons and so much more before the show and dinner. The show was so fun to watch the dancing and learn more about Polynesian culture. The food was okay but it did force us into trying some traditional Hawaii food that I ended up falling in love with (poke!!). Would I go again? Probably not. But it was definitely fun for our first Hawaiian trip.

Hawaii- Part One- Photo TourOahu Photography Tour

Recently we bought a new camera to document life together and for trips like these. I’ve always loved taking photos for fun so when looking for activities this one spoke to me. I’m by no means a photographer but they said all skill levels were welcome and I needed a way to explore without a car. It was a small group unlike many other large bus tours in Waikiki and enjoyed this experience so much. The photo above is from one of my favorite stops, Makapu’u Beach. How pretty are the contrasting colors of the greenery, lava rock and bright blue ocean? I’ll write a separate post about my tour with the Oahu Photography Tour soon with some of my favorite photos!

Hawaii- Part One- Diamond HeadDiamond Head State Monument

Who doesn’t want to hike an inactive volcano crater when in Hawaii? It erupted like 300,000 years ago so don’t worry. I recommend not doing this hike in the heat of the day, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do when the hubby is working and gets off at 3 pm. It was so hot and all uphill, but so worth it. The view from up top is gorgeous! It was so sunny and crowded that I didn’t see signs of any other islands. But it is said that you can see the offshore islands of Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Maui! Very cool.

Waimanalo BaySunrise at Waimanalo Bay

What’s better than starting your day with watching the sunrise, I’m not sure? Because I love it. After my photo tour, I fell in love with Waimanalo Bay and I just had to get Nick there. When a light bulb went off that a sunrise would be gorgeous there, I convinced him that we could wake up and drive to sunrise before he had to go work. We cut it close because it was about 35 minutes to the east side of the island and traffic is kind of crappy in HI, whoops. Regardless it was worth every second to about the only ones on this beautiful beach and watch the start of the day. I can’t get over the glow of the sun on the beach. It was unreal!

With gorgeous beaches, waterfalls, a zillion rainbows, great food and mai tais, how can you not be in love with this island already? Little did we realize how cool the North Shore would be. Stay tuned for part two! Mahalo, Hawaii!

Xo, Anna

Hawaii- Part One