One of the great American pastimes is to take a family road trip. You never truly realize how big the United States is until you hit the open road. My daughter and I made this road trip to visit her college before dropping her off. Our road trip took us through 21 States. You read that correctly 21. We travelled from Texas to Maine and back. We took a different route there than we did on the way home, which is part of the reason we hit so many States in one trip.
One of our favorite stops to make on road trips are the little, small town coffee shops along the way. Since being a previous coffee shop owner, it's always fun to see how people style their shops and what they have to offer. For me the best way to see if the coffee is any good is to order a cappuccino. You can determine if the espresso is roasted well, how well they can create the foam and if the drink is too hot. Of course, we would often grab a quick bite to eat or use this stop as a mealtime, since sometimes breakfast on the road is not what you expect.
While the miles fly by in the car, we either listen to music and sing along or we use this time to listen to a book. All in all, on our road trip, she, and I each read seven books. Don't worry, we had plenty of time to talk, listen to each other and bond while traveling. For us reading is a perfect way to spend time together and then discuss what we read. It's part of our bonding process. Even now when one of us reads a book we think the other will like, we let each other know.
All that time in the car means we must take some time to get out and explore along the way. We didn't really stop too much on the way out since we had to arrive in Castine, Maine by a certain date and time. But we did explore a little and found some great restaurants along the way. On the way home we took a little more time to do some sightseeing, outside of Maine. Castine is just beautiful. The girl is really going to enjoy her time in Maine, so long as she can make it through the winter. The city sits right on the edge of the water and offers water sports, boating and a great community environment. A wonderful place to visit or live. The towns that are close by also offer great wonderful exploration, we really enjoyed Bar Harbor.
I have always loved the show Gilmore Girls, and so we stopped off in Washington, Connecticut to check out the city that the show's location was based around. Even on a Sunday morning, this little area was busy. We stopped in for a late breakfast at Marty's cafe. Bought some books at the bookstore and then just wandered around and took some pictures that highlighted the points of interest in Washington. The bookstore, had a section dedicated to Lauren Graham's books for readers to pick up and enjoy. Along with a children's section and stationary. It was a great stop and we both enjoyed the visit.
From there we headed down to Philly. We figured we would stop by and see the Liberty Bell and walk around the city and enjoy some vegan Philly cheesesteaks. Yes, vegan Philly cheesesteaks are a thing. Made with mushrooms and vegan cheese with onions, they were delicious. The only thing that dampened our time in Philly was the rain. We left the umbrella in the car and had blocks upon blocks to walk before making it back to our car. Needless to say, we were wet and so was our food.
All through our travels we stayed in bed and breakfast establishments. After all, what a great way to see how other people run their businesses and pick up some pointers. Each bed and breakfast were different. Many are started from an old home that is remodeled into the space it is now. At some locations we had the whole house to ourselves. At another we were there with other guests as well. Breakfast was different at each stop. Two of them cooked breakfast and served it out, just like we do. Another had a set menu that you could specify what you wanted, and another had granola. That might sound odd but it's the truth. The bed and breakfast we selected in Castine offered a continental breakfast, which really surprised me. I would have thought they would have put in a little more effort into the food than they did. Next time we will check out the other bed and breakfast option in Castine.
Our favorite overnight stop was just outside of Philly, at Alpenhof Bed and Breakfast. They had such a unique house design and it was decorated in a such a way that was reminiscent of a mid-evil castle. They have been operating as a bed and breakfast for over twenty years. We hope to make that mark one day as well. Their property and home were well appointed for guests to visit, find a spot to read or walk in the garden. They even had a swimming pool for guests to enjoy. We really enjoyed our stop here and would highly recommend if you are ever out that way to make a stop there as well.
Since we did not want to drive back through Tennessee, we headed further South towards Georgia. We stopped in a little town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina called Shelby and we could not believe how similar it was to Sulphur Springs. The bed and breakfast there is named after the streets it sits on. The downtown was close enough to walk down to, and the square, was full of shops and dining. A little bigger than Sulphur Springs, but still made us think of home. We ate at a great woodfired pizza place and wandered the streets downtown before heading back to get some sleep.
We had such a great adventure, driving down the road and exploring the country where we live. No two cities are alike, and no two bed and breakfast stays are alike. Each one brought something different to the table, with each one leaving a memory for us to look back on together. While it might take longer to reach your destination, never underestimate the road trip. It might be the best way to explore different parts of the country. Grab a friend, some snacks, and a map, then hit the road. We suggest staying at bed and breakfast to be able to get a better feel for the area in which you are visiting. Typically, they are run and owned by locals who can point you in the right direction. Happy and safe travels.