Talking Stick Resort | Reviews and Amenities in Scottsdale, Arizona

Talking Stick Resort has come a long way since opening . It was a rough start, but after completing multiple expansion projects, Talking Stick Resort has finally figured out how to run events and offer a great experience for entertainment in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Talking Stick patio view of the Scottsdale Desert
Talking Stick patio view, Photo courtesy of Evette
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Lyndhurst Castle

I love Castles!  Gothic architecture is so enchanting, like a Fairy Tale come to Life.  I was so excited to visit Lyndhurst Mansion in New York state.  Nicknamed Lyndenhurst for the beautiful linden trees on the property, it is formally known as the Jay Gould estate for people without any imagination, named for previous Railroad tycoon owner.  For the rest of us, this country house and surrounding 67 acre park is an American mini-Castle waiting to be explored.

Front view from the road
Front view of the Lyndhurst estate from the road

porch view2

Overlooking the Hudson river, it is easy to forget how close this is to the most populous city in the United States (NYC).

Castle from rear knoll view
Castle from rear knoll view

Sunset over the Hudson
Sunset over the Hudson

I was surprised that my group were the only visitors at the time, since this treasure is free admission to the public and open from dusk until dawn daily.  While the building themselves were locked tight during our visit, we were allowed full access to explore the grounds including the outbuilding and stables.

Stables
Stables

There is a running trail along the parameter that would make for a nice romantic stroll and picnic.  The estate has plenty of quiet areas, strategically placed benches, and wonderful little details at every turn.

Porch Bench

Porch Bench

The gorgeous estate is the best of architecture, serenity, and style wrapped up in historical charm.

outbuilding sign
Outbuilding with sign

Encinitas Meditation Garden | Experience California Zen with Ocean Views

Encinitas is a quiet beach town located 25 minutes North of San Diego, far away from the crowds and traffic of LA. This beach town is full of amazing views, epic surfing, and Meditation Gardens.

The Self-Realization Fellowship does not sound like a place that I would ever visit.  I imagined skinny, creepy guys with shaved heads that could be in a trance or asleep.  There are large columns topped with huge gold flowers along the road surrounding the Fellowship Temple in the middle of Encinitas, California.  A friendly surfer recommended a visit, so I walked around to the entrance.

Meditation Gardens front steps
Meditation Gardens front steps
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Desert Botanical Garden | Flowering Jewel located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona

There is so much beauty in the desert.  Some of it is hidden away, just out of sight.  The Desert Botanical Garden is one of those hidden gems.  Located in the very heart of metro Phoenix.  This tranquil garden showcasing the desert beauty.  In addition to daily tours (recommended for October through May), there are evening events for enjoyment year round.

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Chicago Museum Science Industry

I like visiting museums.  I am fascinated by engineering and basically how stuff is made.  Recently, while in Chicago, we toured the Museum of Science and Industry.  Like everything in Chicago, it was not a cheap visit.  

With so many things to do and see, here are my favorites; interactive exhibits, like the tornado and hot-air balloons from the Science Storms, an actual 727 airplane suspended from the building, vintage firetrucks, and displays of vintage & modern aircraft and spacecraft!Above the basic admission, they offer extra tours, exhibits, and other “add-ons”.

A captured German U-boat (submarine) basic exhibit is included in the general admission, with option to add-on a guided tour. If you have time, definitely add the tour!  Great for children 10+, the tour is informative and just really neat!  Two doorways are cut into the side and you walk (almost) the entire length of the boat!  It was amazing to see the navigation stations, kitchen, bunk beds, torpedo storage, and so much more!

Chicago Museum U Boat JenThereDoneThat.com
WWII German Submarine at the Musuem

Our final add-on was the coal mine tour.  This is the original and has been a permanent exhibit since 1933.  The coal mine is a great family activity, perfect for Children 5 and up.  The tour starts in a working coal mine elevator and includes a quick train ride and lots of fun-facts.  There is working equipment that spans old and modern mining techniques.

There were many other exhibits and activities that we wanted to see, but our trip was cut short due to lousy transportation.  If you are visiting from a Chicago-suburb, it is much easier to drive directly to the museum and pay to park.  Otherwise, you may experience a significant delay on the bus or train.  There was an event downtown that resulted in many bus routes being detoured, so we ended up in the worst part of South Chicago for a bus transfer.  I would not even recommend walking from the train station at 55th/56th.  If you really want to take the bus, or have no other options, the X28 is the best option.

I really enjoyed our visit to the museum and will plan to go back on our next visit to the Chicago area.

June 2014 Update – Made it back to the museum and brought my two favorite little girls, ages 4 & 7 years.  They loved the coal mine tour, and earned a ton of stickers for participation and correct answers during the tour.

We went on a “free” day and the museum was packed with people, mostly school children.  The extra cost add-on tours were a break from the bus loads of kids and other families enjoying the museum at no cost.  For a family of 4 or more, the free day is really worth it, if you can handle the crowds and noise.

There is currently an add-on tour of Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives that displays various Disney props and costumes.  There is also a hands-on drawing portion of the exhibit.  The girls were mildly interested, but spent most of the entire 10 minutes in the exhibit starting at the cartoon clips shown on multiple screens.  I adore all things Disney, but this was just a waste of time & money for the girls and adults.  Save your money and spend 10 minutes looking over the images from the website, they offer better views than those in person behind the display glass.

SI_FC2The Fairy Castle was a nice break from the crowds, even thought it is part of the free collection the exhibit enclosure automatically limits the number of people at a time.  The multi-level castle has an enclosed garden, ballroom, library, and so much more.SI_FC

There are many interactive activities and games for the kids.  Including solar car racing, life-size hamster wheel, hot-air balloon launches, trains big & small, and a miniature rocket launch.SI_RocketsThis is absolutely one of my favorite museums, and once again, one of the highlights of every visit to Chicago!