I had wanted to travel to the Isles of Scilly since 2004, when I studied abroad at Cambridge University and I heard tales in local magazines about how wonderful the islands were and started to dream of going. Well-traveled colleagues also spoke of a group of islands off the Cornish coast with beaches like those of the Caribbean and life with a laidback, almost Mediterranean island vibe. Yet, I pondered whether the tales were accurate and was unfortunately not able to travel to the Isles of Scilly then.
I needed to see it for myself finally and made that dream come true, traveling through 3 of the 5 inhabited islands in 48 hours. I have now verified the tales. The Isles of Scilly are truly special.
For people like me, caught up in a frenetic pace filled with technology and a busy lifestyle, going to the Isles of Scilly was the perfect escape. It is welcoming, safe, and easy-going. You can unplug and unwind. When you go to the Isles of Scilly, you make your own experiences, and I want to share some of mine, and some of my thoughts, with you.
The Isles of Scilly offers freedom. Swap your daily commute for a boat trip. Step off the treadmill and step onto a rugged coast path. Ditch schedules and get lost in hedge-lined lanes that are not even on your map. Go sea swimming, trail running, kayaking, gig racing, cycling or horse riding.
First Impressions of the Isles of Scilly:
You simply have to smile when you arrive at a place where your every step is through picture-postcard villages bounded by sweeping green hills and along unspoiled coastline is filled with birdsong, surrounded by wildflowers erupting into a kaleidoscope of color and butterflies, and under big, blue skies. It is no wonder that every inch of the Isles of Scilly was declared an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1975.
It is also an ancient land rich in mystery, heritage, and legend that stays with you long after you leave for home.
In terms of legend, the Isles of Scilly are the remains of the Lost Land of Lyonesse, to which King Arthurâs men retreated after their leaderâs last fatal battle. Archaeological remains found in burial mounds found all over the island show that the islands have been inhabited for at least 4,000 years. In fact, the islands have the greatest densities of archeological sites anywhere in Britain. The Phoenicians and Romans traveled to the islands, and later a famous abbey was centered on the island of Tresco.
The islands were the frontline of Englandâs defenses and were fortified during the late Elizabethan age, became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, and were closely guarded during both World Wars. Later, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson often elected to vacation on the islands and is buried beachside on St. Maryâs, perhaps because the Isles feature such a rich heritage, and deliver so many soul-lifting rewards.
Where else in the world- in a single day- can you sight a Bronze Age burial ground 3,000 years old, explore a ruined castle, run and swim across an entire island, sunset sail to another isle passing rare birdlife on the way, grab freshly caught lobster, and then stroll across a beach all to ourselves to enjoy the feast?
Sunshine and Island Life:
Despite the fact that tourism has become a big part of the islandsâ economy, this has not destroyed the importance of farming and fishing. This is because the islands are located at the end of the North Atlantic Drift and are gifted with a unique climate. Frosts and snows are rare, and the gloriously long summer features exceptional hours of sunlight, sometimes from around 6am until almost 10pm. We went in mid-June, which saw warm weather, and long light evenings as we explored secret coves, shimmering bays, and plummeting cliffs.
Outtakes of the food and adventures:
I want to warn you though, the islands have a few wineries, a brewery, a distillery, and a few pubs. These are not the sort of islands that feature theme parks or raucous nightclubs. Island activities focus on seeking peace and inspiration from clear blue water, golden sands, rugged heathland, wild flowers and dramatic rock formations. You would be hard pressed to breathe cleaner air, and at night you look up to unpolluted darkness and observe the magical Milky Way, planets, and stars in all their splendor.
Each island has its own unique personality, features and natural beauty, and each can be walked- top to toe- in just a few hours. Because the isles offer so much diverse and unique experiences, this may sound a touch daunting but have no fear- we have some special tips for you in terms of getting there and getting around!
On this weekend trip, we visited one of the USA's most central locations, Kansas City. Located smack dab in the center of the USA, Kansas City is as American as it gets with its legendary BBQ, baseball team, and site of Walt Disney's childhood home. Aside from the delicious eats and sports culture, I didn't know what to expect in the classic midwestern city. What I came to find out is that the city is compact enough to explore on a weekend and large enough to pack in international quality museums and historic sights.
Kansas City Weekend Guide - Vlog:
There are direct flights from 56+ cities across the US, Canada, Mexico and Iceland. We flew Southwest from LAX on Friday night with a return on Sunday evening which was plenty of time to explore.
Most of the downtown is walkable or scootable, however some points of interest are located on the outskirts of town and will require either a rental car or Uber.
1. Arthur Bryant's BBQ
You can't say Kansas City without mentioning the BBQ in the same breath. The smell of the smokey BBQ permeates the air in Kansas City, so be sure to arrive hungry. We visited one of the top rated restaurants called Arthur Bryant's, known for their charred "burnt ends" and for serving famous customers like Barak Obama.
Did you know that Kansas City boasts more BBQ joints per capita than any other city in the USA? If you want to bring the Kansas City flavor home with you, buy the famous vinegar-based BBQ sauce on Amazon.
2. WW1 Memorial and Museum
This is the museum I wish I had access to when I was studying World History in school. The museum distills the complex history into interactive exhibits and theatrical displays where you can learn why WW1 wasn't the last. I came away with a better understanding of the events that redrew borders and changed the face of the world.
Inside, you will find a replica of the WW1 trenches that comes alive when you enter with reenactment stories. The museum also displayed WW1 memorabilia including the swords that were used at the onset of the war. The exhibits take you through the 4 years of combat and the quest for peace. The museum exterior grounds are covered in an art installation of the red armistice poppy, a symbol of commemoration for WW1.
3. Liberty Tower
Attached to the WW1 Memorial and Museum is the Liberty Tower, which stands 20 stories tall and offers the best bird's eye view of the city. The tower is accessible via a combination of stairs and elevator with an open-air observation deck.
4. Truman Library
The Kansas City metro area was home to 33rd President Harry S Truman and his library is located about 25 minutes from downtown in Independence. The museum takes you on a journey through Truman's presidency with thought provoking interactive exhibits that explain the tough decisions he made including the atomic bomb in Japan, Cold War, and entering Korea. You can even step into a recreation of his 1950's Oval Office.
The ground level showcases Truman's life in Missouri, from his humble beginnings working on a farm, to enlisting in WW1, to becoming president, and even his travels to places like Key West. Truman and his wife Bess are buried in the courtyard where you will find a memorial garden.
5. Nelson Atkins Museum
This museum offers free admission and houses over 40,000 works of art from ancient to contemporary. The interior of the museum has a stunning central colonnade of columns and a restaurant in an atrium with fountains. Outside the museum is a sculpture garden with an art installation of shuttlecocks which caused a stir when they were first introduced.
6. Union Station
Kansas City's Union Station is considered the hub of the city, located in a 100 year old building. Union Station is an architectural gem and features a grand hall with chandeliers and also has numerous family-friendly exhibitions including the Science City.
7. Street Art
Kansas City is known for its jazz history and you will find these jazzy murals outside of Arthur Bryant's BBQ.
What are your favorite places to visit in Kansas City for a weekend trip? Comment below!
This summer we visited the Florida Keys, an archipelago at the southernmost tip of the continental USA. The Florida Keys are a unique destination with 800+ islands (or keys) stretching over 180 miles connected by bridges and highway. The journey to The Keys is one of the best parts of the trip, as you travel across the ocean landscape on the Overseas Highway. Once you reach the southernmost key of Key West, you will want to stay the entire weekend to soak up the sights.
Here are the top places to visit on a Florida Keys road trip:
1. Islamorada - Halfway to Key West, you will find many isles including including Islamorada. Be sure to plan for a few hours at this mid-point to enjoy the sights. Here, you can see the Theater of the Sea which offers a dolphin adventure, a historic steam boat called the African Queen, fishing and water-sports activities, and a local craft brewery!
2. Seven Mile Bridge - Continue the journey to The Florida Keys along a car-commercial-worthy highway that includes the Seven Mile Bridge. The open expansiveness of the highway makes you feel like you are driving on the ocean surface. Every few miles, you will pass through another key surrounded by mangrove trees. It makes the three hour drive from Miami feel much shorter since the entire ride is scenic.
3. Duval Street - The heart of Key West is Duval Street, which is filled with island vibes, bars, art stores, bed and breakfasts, and key lime everything.
4. Southernmost Point - This buoy is the demarkation of the Southernmost Point in the Continental USA with only 90 miles to Cuba! The line for a photo here stretches down the street for the most iconic photo on the Florida Keys.
5. Hemingway House - Author Ernest Hemingway is one of Key West's most famous past residents. He lived on 907 Whitehead Street in the heart of Old Town Key West, where he spent about 10 years on the island enjoying the local bars and writings his most prolific works. His home is an unmistakable two story structure built in 1851 with key lime yellow shutters, surrounded by palm gardens and roaming six-toed cats.
Don't miss a tour of this historic gem!
6. Little White House - Located in a gated neighborhood filled with quaint wooden homes with shutters and double portico balconies, we came across US President Harry Truman's Key West home "The Little White House", built in 1890. Truman used it as his winter home during his presidency and spent 175 days here. It previously served as the naval station headquarters and a government leader retreat. Tour this historic landmark for a slice of history.
7. Lighthouse - The Key West Lighthouse offers a Keepers Quarters museum and one of the best views of Key West.
8. Key Lime Pie - Key limes are native to The Florida Keys and are punchier and more acidic than regular limes. In this region, you will find numerous treats made from the limes, from ice cream, smoothies, margaritas, and of course... key lime pies!
You can even participate in a Key Lime Pie making class! Check out the Key Lime Pie Co: âhttps://www.keylimepieco.com
9. Sloppy Joes Bar - Grab a drink at the historic bar and famous haunt of Ernest Hemingway.
10. Key West Sunset - What better way to end a trip in the Florida Keys than with the sunset views. The most iconic natural sight in Key West is undoubtably the 360 view of the sunset. One of the best ways to enjoy it is via a sunset cruise.
Book one of the sunset tours and don't forget to use our Viator discount!
What are your favorite sights to see in the Florida Keys? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.