I started going to Starved Rock State Park In Utica Illinois when I was little. My wife and took the kids here to hike when they were little. We have stayed in the Lodge and cabins several times and it is fantastic. A grand early 20th century lodge that is both elegant and rustic. Great food and just gorgeous. I’ll do a piece on it and review another time but just want you to get a taste.
As a proud Native American the park itself has a great significance (one nation starved another on the rock, hence the name) so for me it’s always a great hiking trip. Just a place I connect.
We also love going to nearby Utica to shop, eat and hit the wineries. Look for more pieces on that soon as well. For now I just want to give you a taste of the lodge and trails in the park from a recent trip my wife and I took. I’ll also post more links and info on the history then.
I grew up taking trips to the Arthur/Arcola area here in Illinois. It’s always been interesting to see the amish lifestyle and eat the fantastic food, Plus the great craftsmenship of their furniture. We also have many friends in the area.
Take a look at the pictures and what I’m talking about then get yourself to the area! From the cool Beachy’s Bulk Foods to the great buffet and it’s awesome gift shop. Plus seeing the horse and buggy travel of everyday life. Enjoy.
I love this town. Over the years I’ve been there many times. For business, wrestling tournaments/ teaching martial arts seminars and dance comps with my daughter. This was the first time we have just gone to chill and write about it. We will be back again and again.
From the cool native history along the Fox River that runs right through downtown to the many Underground railroad sites, there is a wealth historic sites to see. The Baker Hotel is anther great one and gorgeous. I plan to stay there next trip and write about it( a few pics of it here). Shops, pubs and fine dining all can be found in the gorgeous downtown. Old buildings, redone buildings and the classic Arcada Theater (caught Stephen Pearcy from Ratt live while we were there. Great place and got to hang out with one of my HS wrestling training partners .Sometimes our travels give us a chance to catch up). All this with beautiful Fox River roaring in view.
This trip we stayed at the Hilton Garden in that we have stayed at many times. Always great. Cool modern art look in the lobby. Decent pool and fitness and nice rooms. Nice quiet location and always a good experience. It has great conference space and great service. Nice quiet seating areas to relax, read and check your messages on wifi. We will go again(and again). Next time the Baker though just because we write about travel lol.
Take a look at the pictorial and see for yourself( a saddle shop right downtown!)
This little tour and tasting at Nelson’s GreenBrier was not even close to what I expected. That’s an awesome thing. The tour was full of history and whisky knowledge. Bits about the area and the people in the 19th century who made it originally.
The story of how grandchildren found out about the company and recipes after having basically vanished for 100 years is amazing( I’ll let you learn about it on the tour or website). Charlie and Andy Nelson tell the story far better than I ever could.
What I can say is the whisky is awesome. I liked it all, my wife liked the bourbon, hence the reason we bought the bourbon(expect a tasting review here soon). As you finish the tour of the historic building and great thoughts from the guide, you get a great tasting in a cool bar area. From white whisky to sour mash. Thoughts on each and the history of each. Our guide Joel did a perfect job of explaining while letting us come to our own conclusions. Truly one of the best historic tours I’ve been on(and I travel constantly!). Add to that the fact that the whisky is world class and you just can’t beat this as an outing. Right off downtown Nashville in an area you wouldn’t expect, it’s just a great way to relax and spend some time. Take a look at some pictures and catch the link after the jump.
If you are near Nashville TN or just want to take a great trip for history/whisky then go to Nelson’s GreenBrier Distillery and tell them Combatsportslifestyle sent you( and Bob & Sandy Tompkins!!!). Follow them on twitter @TNWhiskeyCo and follow us @combatsportlife. Email us for pr details at email@example.com
I do a ton of random walk features everywhere we travel to. Like I always say it’s a great way to get to know how a place looks and feels. Not just the stock media photos every travel blogger gets and tries to write an article around.
I took about 3000 pictures while we were in Nashville. A solid 2200 of them were inside the Gaylord. So much history. Glitz, music and just an unusual feel that I don’t find often . The pics in this post are just from all over the complex(truly one of the largest places I have ever wandered around. Go there, hang out and just see what you run into. No plan, no agenda just wander. Enjoy the pictures and then book a trip there.
There isn’t a reason to not stop by this place if you’re in Nashville. It’s like walking through a cool, glitzy museum with food and booze! Better yet, stay at Gaylord Opryland
When you go to the Gaylord Opryland you will struck by it’s size. I you read the review I did recently you can see all about that. The best part is the different atrium sections each with their own look, vibe interesting features. This piece is about Delta island.
It’s massive. Shops, restaurants and bars as well as gorgeous water features. Heck you can take a guided Delta boat tour. It’s that big. I literally spent hours wandering around it. I went multiple days. Grab a cup of coffee or a cocktail and just enjoy it.
The architecture and old jazz playing reminds you of New Orleans. Interesting little places to shop, stands with drinks and sooo much more. It was probably one of my favorite parts of our week at Gaylord Opryland. Truly a world class experience. I will let the pictures speak from here out.
You need to put this place on your list soon. If you get to Gaylord Opryland tell them you saw it on Combat Sports Lifestyle.
Speaking of lifestyle, check out today’s sponsor Legacy Home & Ranch !!! Great products from custom couches to coffee and saddles. Take a look at the cool Western Lifestyle products they have.
Just across the road from Gaylord Opryland is a little strip that has three very cool places along the store front. The Nashville Palace which you can learn about in A post from last week here. There is a Cooters store and museum( it’s own post soon) but today we talk about the Willie Nelson And Friends Museum and General store.
I love roadside tourist kitsch. Look at my Florida articles and you will see tons of pics from hokey little shops. To this day they scream vacation to me. It also is the type of place I can find a snow globe for my daughter! When she was young it was something she always picked up when we traveled. On trips when I was fighting and she wasn’t there or my wife going to conferences, we still got them for her. Now as Sandy and I travel for all these things and pr work, our daughter still wants them(yes even as an adult). This was the place I knew I could find it.
The Willie Nelson And Friends Museum and General store is cool kitsch(hey It’s the awesome Willie Nelson!!). From clothes and tourist type gifts to food items and Willie Nelson memorabilia. Of course they have snow globes!!!
If you are in Nashville and just want to relax and enjoy a little time being a country music tourist, you should definitely stop by this place. I loved it and will definitely stop again. Scored the snow globe too! Now relax and check out my pictorial from the store.
If you are in Nashville you really should stop by and see this cool ode to Willie Nelson. It’s just plain old country fun.