Yesterday I took 13,977 steps. None of them were taken in my neighborhood, or on my university’s campus. None of the steps I’ve taken in the last week have even been in my home state.
As many of you probably already know (because you all religiously follow this blog), I recently took a road trip down to Miami, Florida before boarding a cruise ship to the Bahamas. My last 100,000 steps have been taken in five different states, on a ship, and in another country. And I want to share where I’ve walked with you.
The home of the King himself. My short stay in Memphis consisted of a night out on Beale Street, a historical strip downtown full of noise and games, and a day at Graceland, the home of the one and only, Elvis Presley. While I didn’t do much else in the Home of the Blues, I feel like a got a good taste of what makes the city so upbeat. A couple tips if you ever plan on visiting: one, unless you know every single Elvis song, I would skip out on Graceland. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an interesting experience. But for the price you pay, it’s just much more convenient to look up photos of the house online. Two, visit Beale Street! The music is catchy and the natives are friendly. For the most part it’s family friendly. But after dark is when the adults come out and play. So plan accordingly.
While Nashville has a lot to offer, I really only got to experience the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. So my only tip: the museum is worth the visit. Even if you’re not the biggest country music fan, the museum has a lot of interesting facts and exhibits. It’s even kid friendly- there are handouts and activities to get them really immersed in the information. I think the Grand Ole Opry would be cool to see too. Just make sure it’s open the day you’re visiting.
Atlanta was probably my favorite pre-cruise destination. From what I’ve seen of it, it’s a bustling city. Not quite as crowded as the Big Apple, but the skyscrapers are just as tall and the people seem just as busy. Tip: set aside a good amount of time to experience Atlanta to it’s fullest. Walk around, visit a couple parks, and make sure to check out CNN Center and the World of Coca-Cola!
You know where this is going. Disney World, Universal Studios- Orlando isn’t short of fun and games. If you’ve already done that whole bit, it may seem like there isn’t much else this city can offer you. But even if you don’t want the full experience of the parks, there’s still Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk, both outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment centers. No ticket purchases are necessary to visit these either of these places.
With barely a day in Miami, the most I did here was check out Miami Beach. Depending on when you go, it’s not too terribly crowded. And there’s a nice boardwalk at the edge of the beach for those who don’t want to mess with the sand. Parking is horrendous, so try walking or taking a taxi if you can. There are some questionable locations around the city, especially after dark, so be careful.
Ten out of ten would recommend visiting. It rained while we were at Atlantis, which was kind of a damper. But we did get a chance to visit the walk through the white, sink-y sand and swim in the clear and super salty water before the storm started. My one suggestion, especially if you’re coming from a cruise, would be to venture out on your own. Of course I don’t mean completely on your own or without a smart plan. But take a taxi to the beach instead of booking something with your cruise- it’s much cheaper and will give you the chance to interact with the city like a local- or take a tour into the city.
Tampa was the one city I stopped in that I feel like I got the smallest dose of a local’s life. The fam and I had lunch with one of my mother’s former co-workers at her house on the lake. No, not a lake house. Just her house in a neighborhood with other houses, all on a lake. It was absolutely beautiful. She had a lot of fruit and plants growing in her backyard, and often talked of taking her kayak out into the water as part of her morning fitness routine. Since there isn’t much hype surrounding this town, there aren’t many crowds- meaning a more relaxed visit!
Panama City Beach, Florida
It must be nice to have the beach in your backyard. I had a day and a half in PCB and I spent pretty much every second of it burying my feet in the sand or wadding through the ocean water. Again, surprisingly no big crowds. The sand doesn’t sink as much here, but it also doesn’t stick together very well (a negative when trying to build a big sandcastle). There are several small shells buried in the ground, so watch your step. The water isn’t as salty as in the Bahamas, and isn’t freezing cold either. Another ten out of ten recommendation.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a beautiful city. There’s so much history there and they’re not afraid to show it. I had the chance to stay in downtown New Orleans just a fifteen minute walk away from the Vieux Carré, or the French Quarter. There weren’t a lot of people walking around in this area, which could’ve been because of the heat, so if you just want to experience the region, I would suggest visiting at times of little celebration- aka, daytime, and not during Mardi Gras.
Unfortunately, Houston was more a layover than a destination. For my shoppers out there, stop by the Houston Galleria if you have the chance. It’s one of the biggest and most expensive malls in America. I kid you not- it takes up over 2,000,000 square feet with 375 stores. I tried to buy a plain red dress at their Neiman Marcus store…only to discover it cost almost $3,000. You may as well visit just to say you’ve been.
Those were just a couple snapshots of the sights I’ve seen in the last two weeks. While there’s still a lot left for me to explore, I’m glad I was able to visit so many new places. Let me know if I stopped by your hometown or in your home state. Do you have any suggestions for landmarks I should see the next time I’m there? Comment below! And, as always, thanks for reading!
For those of you who want a visual peak at some of my trip highlights, check out my post, Where I’ve Walked (VIDEO ONLY). Make sure to type in code: wiwfeature for full access!