We just returned from a music filled weekend to Nashville. This is my fourth time down in Music City and this was certainly our weekend for music. We started out the weekend seeing a Randy Travis tribute where 37 top artists sang his songs. Some of the acts we saw were Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Allison Krauss, Kenny Rogers, Wyonna and just so many more. The highlight of the show was at the end when Garth was singing Forever and Ever and Randy joined him for the finale. We went to the Opry one night and saw Crystal Gayle who was also awesome and yes she still has her long hair. We ended the weekend seeing Martina McBride and Lauren Alaina.
This past fall we came to Nashville with a group of 20 friends and rented a mansion on Music Row. It was a great location and a great house for all of us to share. We did all the tourist things on that trip. We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Grand Ole Opry and the Studio B Tour. I think the highlight was the Studio B tour because we did a recording of one of Elvis’ songs. It sure didn’t sound as good as Elvis’ version, but we had a blast recording it.
Studio B Tour
Country Music Hall of Fame
The Grand Ole Opry
The Mansion that held all 20 of us.
Eating gluten free in Nashville does have its challenges, but it can be done. One of the places we’ve found is the Pharmacy. They have really good burgers and they are gluten free; just make sure not to get the bun with it. The servers appear to be knowledgeable on what you can eat.
We love going to Layla’s to see Sarah Gayle Meech. She is a really good singer. Most of the honky tonks have really great acts. It’s nice to go in and out of them and checking out the talent. Below are a couple of places that we’ve found that we really like. George Jones’ Rooftop Bar is a great place to go on a pretty day and the view is very nice.
George Jones’ Rooftop Bar
I would definitely add Nashville on your list of places to go to as there is something for everyone there and even if you don’t like country music, you should be able to find music for your taste there.
I just love visiting Chicago. Not only is it one of the most interesting places to visit, my girls also live there. I have two daughters. The one that used to live in the DC area, recently moved to Chicago and is working at Loyola University. My youngest daughter is going to DePaul and working on her masters.
There is so much to do and see in Chicago from shopping at the stores on Michigan Avenue, to exploring places like Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Willis tower and so much more. We just love to go and explore. Take a Wendella boat tour while you are there. They have several. We took the architectural tour when we were there in September and really enjoyed it. They also have a night time tour that was beautiful to take with skyline all lit up. Millennium Park is a beautiful place to visit as well or just relax in the sunshine on the beach and enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan.
The Bean in Millennium Park
The Lincoln Park Zoo
Ghirardelli – We always make a stop here for ice cream.
Chicago offers some of the best gluten free restaurants. I love going to Wheat’s End when we are in town. This is off their website; “Wheat’s End Artisan Foods is a family owned company that believes people with celiac disease or who are gluten intolerant shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality or taste. That’s why all our products are handmade in our 100% dedicated gluten free facility with only the best ingredients and no artificial preservatives—into what we think are the best, natural tasting and flavorful gluten free breads, baked goods and fresh pastas available today. ” When we are in town we like to visit here for Sunday brunch. The food is fantastic and as you can see from the website explanation, it is totally safe for celiacs to eat in. There are several other places that are also good, however, none that are totally gluten free like this one. Check out their website www.wheatsend.com and you can see what they offer. I’ve also ordered items online and had them delivered to my home in Ohio.
If you’ve ever been to Chicago and have some sights that you would recommend, please let a comment and let me know.
Another one of my favorite areas to visit is Washington DC. I truly believe everyone needs to visit Washington some time in their life. It is an amazing place to see. My daughter lived in the area for about 8 years so we got to see Washington quite a number of times and it just never got old as there are just so many monuments and museums here to see. Here’s a few of them:
Marine Corps War Memorial
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – If you get a chance, time your visit here to see the changing of the guard. It is awesome to see!
World War II Memorial
Korean War Memorial
There are so many Smithsonian Museums that you can visit for free. Some of the ones that we have visited are: National Air and Space; National Museum of the American Indian; National Museum of American History; National Portrait Gallery; National Museum of Natural History; and the National Zoo.
If you decide to go to Washington contact your local congressman and he will be able to set up a time for a tour of the Capitol. It is very interesting and fun to see. You can also set up a tour of the White House through your congressman.
I have found that the bigger cities tend to have lots of options for gluten free eating. Just google gluten free eating in the DC area and lots of restaurants come up. I was always very lucky because my daughter who lived in the area also had a friend who was Celiac so she knew which way to steer me for safe eating. One place that we went to the last time in DC was Jeleo. The chef has trained his staff on gluten free so they understand exactly what you can and cannot have. Another place that we have gone to in the past was called Rosa Mexicano. At this restaurant, they fried me a special batch of corn chips in a dedicated fryer when they found out I was Celiac. I would highly recommend both places.
I think we all have that special place that we’ve traveled to that we always want to go back to again and again because it is relaxing or the memories from that place are just so special. Sanibel Island is that place for me. I went there on my honeymoon for the first time in 1982 and have been back many times. Many of my favorite family memories are from vacations spent on Sanibel Island. Here is a beautiful sunset picture that we took when we were there. If you go to Sanibel you must look up Danny Morgan. He is a singer on the island and he sings a beautiful song about the sunsets you can see there.
Beautiful Sanibel Sunset
This is the Sanibel lighthouse that is on the tip of the island. It has a public beach access to it and you can find some great shells on that end of the island as well as see dolphins swimming around that area. Sanibel is known for all the shells that are on the beaches.
One of our favorite restaurants in the area is called the Mucky Duck and it is located on Captiva Island which is connected to Sanibel Island by a small bridge. You can see some of the most beautiful sunsets on the beach outside the Mucky Duck. The Mucky Duck doesn’t necessarily have a gluten free menu, but if you ask the waitress what they can do for you, they are very accommodating. Sanibel does not have chain restaurants except for the Dairy Queen. A couple of great spots for breakfast are The Lighthouse Cafe and The Over Easy Cafe. Again, both are pretty accommodating on eating gluten free, but I did prefer The Over Easy Cafe for the gluten free choices.
The island offers a variety of things to do there. They have bike trails over the entire island. Most of the beaches are private, but there are a couple that are open to the public. We enjoy going to the Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve which covers a good portion of the island. You can drive through, bike ride or walk through this Wildlife Refuge.
Please feel free to leave a comment on where your special vacation spot is as I’d love to hear about it and maybe even visit there some time.