Tag Archives: free

Humacao Natural Reserve

Humacao Natural ReserveThe Humacao Natural Reserve is located on the East Coast of Puerto Rico near the community of Palmas del Mar.  Behind the small unassuming entrance awaits big adventure exploring the lagoons, swamps, and wetlands.  The walking and bike trails are well maintained throughout the reserve.  Kayakers can enjoy the calm lagoon waters in a secluded section of the reserve.  Fishing is a common sight from the bridges and docks.  There are multiple floating docks along the lagoons for fishing and unobstructed views over the lagoon water.  The majority of the natural reserve is shaded by the lush foliage making it a pleasant destination year round. Continue reading Humacao Natural Reserve

Museum of Art Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is known for amazing beaches and a variety of rum drinks, including the famous Pina Colada.  What about Art?  Today, I set out to explore the art scene in Puerto Rico, starting with the capital of San Juan.2016 CenterBellaArt3

My first stop was the Centro de Bellas Artes de Puerto Rico.  The building is surrounded by outdoor sculptures, murals, and paintings (FREE Activity).  Early morning is the best time to visit, it is quiet, cool, and empty.  I had the entire plaza to myself, with The Muses.  These eight bronze female life-size sculptures are dedicated to the types of arts and culture found within the center; music, theater, literature, dance, films (my favorite pictured below), architecture, sculpture, and painting.  Inside are three main concert and theater halls for plays, ballet, operas, symphony, concerts, and festivals.  With a bit of planning, a performance here may be in my future.

The Muses
The Muses

Joined by Brenda from Traveleira, we ate a delicious brunch nearby, then walked to the Museo de Art de Puerto Rico, home to an eclectic assortment of local art.  The docents (gallery workers) are polite, multilingual, knowledgeable, and passionate about the art.   There are some beautiful, and thought provoking pieces which the docents are eager to discuss and admire with you.  Paintings, sculpture, contemporary pop-art, modern art, impressionism, and more are represented in the gallery.  With such a variety of styles, there are pieces that I immediately connected with and others that are not to my liking.  The building itself is a simple design in a bright, whitewash surrounded by palm trees.  The same air conditioners and humidifiers that protect the art, also are a cool refreshing break in the heat of the day.  The cost of admission is very reasonable at $6 for an adult, with student, children, seniors, and other discounts. Continue reading Museum of Art Puerto Rico

South Mountain Park

Hiking is one of my favorite free activities in Phoenix.  Our desert valley is surrounded by mountains providing stunning views and wildlife.  South Mountain Park/Preserve in the heart of Phoenix is over 16,000 acres, approximately 20 times the size of New York’s Central Park, it is the largest municipal park in the country!  Now is the perfect time to Go Take a Hike!

South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is easy access from anywhere in metro-Phoenix and offers trails for every level of athletic ability.  Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all welcome on the trails.

Desert Classic Trail
Desert Classic Trail

With nearly 60 miles of trails, I like to map out the hike before heading to a trail head.  Most trails are easily followed with metal signposts along the trail as a guide, and many of these were recently updated with trail name, QR code, elevation, and specific trail post information.  I always bring a hard copy trail map of the area I plan to be in.  A recent hike with friends was so beautiful we decided to add another couple miles to our hike, which was easily accomplished with a brief look at our trail map.south-mountain-park-map

 

 

There are at least 4 main parking lots, and many more parking areas near perimeter trail heads.2015_SM1There are excellent maps and detailed descriptions of trails provided by National Geographic at All Trails website.  Here is more information about the beautiful desert trails including petroglyphs and ruins.

Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe
Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe

Pima Canyon entrance is accessed from I-10 and Baseline road, just off of 48th street and Guadalupe.  This popular parking lot is usually packed with cars, and offers restrooms, water fountains, shaded benches, and areas for cooking/grilling.

Pima Canyon Gazebo
Pima Canyon Gazebo

 

Desert Foothills Parkway is a smaller parking lot located at the Southern tip of the park and offers shaded area, water fountains, and portable toilets.

Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo
Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo

 

 

Continue reading South Mountain Park

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

Tempe Town Lake

The temperature is starting to cool off and people around metro-Phoenix can finally venture outside with less fear of catching fire, or at least it feels that hot all summer long here.  Today a friend and I took my dogs out for a walk along Tempe Town Lake, the man-made lake in the middle of bustling University town Tempe.

The park around the Lake is home to many festivals and concerts, so be sure to check out upcoming events here.

I prefer to plan my own event at the Lake.  Bring a picnic basket for a fun family activity during the day, or romantic get-a-way in the evening. There are plenty of bike paths,  walk ways, shade trees, and benches.  The dogs love to walk around the lake with me.  There are mountain views to the north of the lake and the park is well kept and clean.

The main attraction is the lake, and there are quite a few activities to enjoy on the water.  Today we watched people sailing, kayaking, fishing, and on paddle boards.  There is a boat rental office on the south side of the lake for small boats, hydrobikes, and kayaks.

Lake or land, the sunset is worth hanging around to watch.