Travel adventures across the World!!!

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Best 5 summer weekend getaways from Chicago!

Summer is the best time to travel and explore beautiful destinations around. This summer has been a great adventure for me so far in terms of travel and here are my recommendations for travel for all those who live in the Midwest.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – Lake Geneva is a go to summer destination for all travel lovers in the Midwest. The freshness of Lake Geneva comes with its colorful flowers along the pathways in downtown that stretches by the lake itself. Riviera Beach is right in the downtown by the Lake which is a great spot to relax and swim. The lake offers all kinds of water sports and is surrounded by all great restaurants that offer variety of cuisines to enjoy. My love for water and flowers has taken me there twice this summer season.

Distance: 1.5 hrs.

Activities: Speed Boat, Jet Ski, Pontoon Boats, Swimming in Beach

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin – Enjoyable both in summer and winter, Wisconsin Dells is the perfect destination for adventure seekers. Every time I go there, there is something new and exciting to explore. The beautiful Wisconsin river showcases magnificent rock formations. Some of the most fun adventures there are the upper dells boat tour, canyon horse tours, zip lining and Jet boat tours. The most intimidating yet fun adventure was the ghost tour in the forest while its pitch dark. At night the Witches Gulch come to life and gets hold of your nerve. A haunted ship takes you into the forest and the rest will be all for you to experience if you make it back!

Distance: 3 hrs.

Activities: Boat Tours, Water Parks, Water Sports, Zip-lining, Tubing

Starved Rock State Park, Ottawa, Illinois – Living in the Midwest away from all the national parks gave us an opportunity to discover the Starved Rock State park. The state park is just 1.5 hours’ drive from the city of Chicago and beholds beautiful flora and fauna right from spring until the fall season. Hiking, camping and biking are some of the most enjoyable summer activities there. We hiked for 5 miles back and forth during our visit to the park and enjoyed the canyons, waterfall and lush forests all around. It is a definite getaway from the city life.

Distance: 1.5 hrs.
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Camping

Japanese Anderson Garden, Rockford, Illinois –This beautiful garden in the midst of bridges, waterfalls and Koi Ponds is a very refreshing getaway from Chicago. About just an hour away it is a go to spot for nature lovers. We were lucky to visit this garden during the Japanese spring festival when they had authentic dance and song performances.

Distance: 1.5 hrs.

Activities: Music, Nature

Saugatuck, Michigan – A small cute little downtown surrounded by Lake Michigan with restaurants, souvenir, art and gallery shops all around is a very pleasant outing from the city of Chicago. About 2.5 hours away from Chicago, the small vibrant city offers all kinds of boat rentals including kayaks, banana boats and duck tours. The most famous ride in the lake out there is the Chain Ferry that takes you around the lake. Also the Oval beach is very pristine and known for its sand dunes and ATV rides. Keep in mind that Michigan is one hour ahead in terms of time difference from Chicago so head out early to enjoy your day there.

Distance: 2.5 hrs.

Activities: Chain Ferry, Duck Tours, Boat tours, Swimming in Beach

The other two getaways that I am looking forward to this summer is Door County, Wisconsin and Mackinac Island, Michigan. I have heard a lot of good things about these places and I can’t wait to explore them myself. What are your summer travel destinations? I would love to hear!

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My lovely little Garden :)

I have always loved gardening since my childhood. I adore flowers and greenery more than anything else. Now that the sun is out and the weather is warm, the perennial plants in my pots are starting to grow. My little garden has both annual and perennial flowers. I usually plant some new annual flower plants every year to have a mix of different colors. I combine creepers and flowers in a pot together as they flawlessly complement each other. The creepers make their way up the railings and look perfect as a backdrop to the lovely flowers.

I also have fondness for indoor plants that help purify the indoor air. English Ivy, Boston Fern, Golden Pothos and Peace lily are some of the plants that help in filtering and cleaning the indoor air. I have all of these plants sitting either in my bedroom or living room. The best part of the indoor plants is that they need very little care. I also happen to have the “Tulsi” plant which is a symbol of Goddess in India and possesses great medicinal qualities. Here is a recap of the pictures from past three years that I have enjoyed gardening and I look forward to enjoy more of it in the coming years.

After all life is all about finding out one’s passion and enjoying it to the fullest. What are your passion and hobbies ? I would love to know 🙂


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The first hike of the season at Starved Rock State Park!

Starting this spring until fall, my friends and I have promised ourselves outdoor adventure every weekend. Last weekend we hiked the trails of Starved Rock State park which is about an hour and half away from Chicago. Starved Rock State Park is a hidden gem of the Midwest and known for its rugged canyons, scenic waterfalls and vivid foliage. The forest preserve is huge and the drive to the State park was very scenic. The lush mint lemon colored trees and red bud flowers on both the sides looked beautiful. I could see a lot of bikers enjoy their bike ride in the warm and sunny weather. We arrived at the park before noon and were all geared up and excited to trek and explore it.

We started our day with the Board walk trails, hiking uphill along the steep steps to reach the Lover’s leap which was the highest point of the park. It had a great panoramic view of the Illinois river, rock formations and forest preserve. Walking further down along the winding pathways by the river, we headed towards the Lasalle Canyon which was about two miles away. We enjoyed climbing tree tops in the perfectly breezy weather which kept us going towards the Canyon. We trekked for about 4 miles in all and were exhausted by the end, but it was all worth it when we caught a sight of the beautiful falls at the Lasalle Canyon. We relaxed by the flowing stream of water for a while and then made our way back to the visitor’s center.

Now that I loved this hiking experience at the Starved Rock State Park, I am even more excited to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park at Colorado during my long weekend travel at the end of this month. Do you love to hike? Which was your best hiking experience? Which other outdoor adventures do you enjoy?


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Spring Getaway to the Japanese Tea Garden, Rockford Illinois!

Spring is finally here and it feels so wonderful to be out in the sun under clear skies. Over the weekend, we decided to treat ourselves with the bliss of the beautiful season and headed towards the Japanese Anderson Garden in Rockford, Illinois. The Japanese Anderson garden is rated as one of the finest tea gardens in North America. We were fortunate to visit the garden on the opening day for this season which also happened to be Children’s day in Japan.  It was great to watch the Japanese performers play the Koto stringed instruments, Taiko Drum and dance to the beats of their authentic music right in the heart of the spectacular garden.

We spent the day leisurely walking through the scenic waterfalls and koi ponds, climbing through the rocks into the bridges over the streams of running water. We wandered for about 3 hours in the garden taking photo breaks every now and then. There were gravel pathways and picturesque flowers through out the garden. I really enjoyed watching the colorful large fishes swim by in the koi pond fearlessly with the huge ducks. The perfect weather after such a long time made it even more enjoyable.

The best time to visit the garden is Spring and Fall. I was lucky to visit it during the spring and definitely plan to return back and check out the lovely colors of fall. All in all, it was a very peaceful and relaxing getaway from the everyday city life and I will recommend it to all the nature lovers. Have you ever been to the any of the Japanese tea gardens yet? If yes which one and if no, is there one in your list that you want to visit?


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Amsterdam, My first city in Europe as a traveler!

My first European city as a traveler, Amsterdam will always be a remarkable venture for me. Both intimidated and excited at the same time, I landed in the city to begin my incredible journey. To my surprise, it was just so easy to embrace the culture and uniqueness of the city. I was overwhelmed with the warmth of the friendly and fun-loving people in Amsterdam. The canal, cruises, bicycles and coffee shops, there is just so much that sets this extra ordinary city class apart from the others.

The most popular means of commute in Amsterdam is biking. Myriads of people can be seen biking through the city in the bike lane. Renting a bike to explore the city and experience the culture at the same time is definitely a great idea. Since all the landmarks in the city such as the Rijksmuseum, Dam Square, Central Station are so close to each other, it is not even tiring to bike around the city. Personally I love to walk and explore, that way I don’t have to care about the bike’s safety, but biking is fun too.

Holland is famous for its bulb flowers, particularly the tulips. One of things that was always in my bucket list was to visit the tulip garden fields in Holland. I finally got to see the Keukenhof garden which is the second largest tulip garden in the world. The striking colors of the tulips, orchids and lilies planted and arranged creatively in different patterns was really a breathtaking view. The garden is open for three months from March to May and I was lucky to be in Holland during the spring season.

Amsterdam is known for its elite night life across the world. Leidseplein is the neighborhood in the city known for live entertainment, music, bars, restaurants and casinos. We really enjoyed the delicious street food there. Every evening, we would wander in different streets to experiment new smoky appetizing cuisines. One that I enjoyed the most was Turkish cuisine Donor Kebabs which is halal chicken stuffed in pita wraps which was inexpensive yet so delicious.

In short, Amsterdam is a spectacular and friendly city with delicious food, rich history and great night life. What’s your first European city as a traveler?