Galentine's in Portland, OR

I don’t know about you but, I think Leslie Knope was on to something when she proclaimed Galentine’s the best day of the year. Maybe it’s because, like Knope, I always love getting together with my Gals and gift them random stuff that clearly had their names written all over them (I <3 random gift giving).

So, to commemorate Leslie Knope’s favorite day, and for me to share with the world my obsession with Parks & Rec, I’ve gathered recommendations from our Portland Locals for the best places to celebrate Galentine’s Day in the City of Roses.

Little Bird Bistro

This Frech-style bistro has me swooning over every picture on their instagram account. It would also put Leslie Knope’s waffle obsession to shame because their coffee creme brulee > waffles. Just don't tell Leslie I said that! Great recommendation from Portland Local Expert Hannah


Maybe you are really, really wanting to take a trip to Spain with your Gals and you just haven’t gotten around booking those tickets. To give you that extra nudge, head on over to Ataula, Hannah’s recommendation, for some Barcelona-style tapas. I’m sure you’ll sell them on the idea from the first bite!

The Matador

Features made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine, hand-crafted cocktails & the most diverse selection of tequilas! Our Local Expert Mindi L. recommends this place for nachos and margaritas. Andale over to their Instagram account for more inspiration!

Papa Haydn

Although mainly a restaurant, Portland Local Expert Mindi says to head on over for their decadent desserts! Judging by their Insta account, we can see why!



Visit Austin in a day

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A visit to Austin, TX can be great fun. Whether you are headed there from far away or you live close by, there is always something to do and something new to explore. It's growing too! Over the years, the Austin metro area has become a hotspot for relocation, be it for those just starting out, or those looking to retire and downsize!

If you only have one day in Austin, you will want to make sure you are doing all the things that are important to you on that trip. Here are a few things to do in Austin for some inspiration!

In the Morning

You can start your morning off right with a trip to the Blue Dahlia Bistro for a cup of coffee, or one of the other boutique brunch places available along 11th Street. Historic places like the Clarksville District are also good places to go, where you can find restaurants like Josephine House.

Then it is a short trip over to Castle Hill Graffiti Park, where everyone is an artist. Bring your spray paint (or buy one there!) and add to the mural. The Blanton Museum of Art is also a great way to spend your morning and get a good idea of the beauty that Austin has to offer.

Fun Times in the Afternoon

If you are the outdoorsy type, you can rent a bike for $8 and explore the city. Of course, you can also go for a run, and there are plenty of places to canoe or paddleboard. Looking for views? The Oasis on Lake Travis is the place to go for a stunning view of the area. Time it just right and you can catch the sunset!

If you are there in March you can visit the Austin Rodeo, and Driftwood, which is 45 minutes away, is home to Salt Lick BBQ. It is hard to get better food than that. As the sun goes down you can head to Congress Bridge to watch the bats take flight, or to Mount Bonnell for views of the whole city.

Evening Enjoyment

Austin is well known for its nightlife, and rightfully so. Find yourself in Sixth Street and enjoy some live music and great food from the many food trucks options.  Or head on over to The Continental Club, known as the granddaddy of live music venues and the premiere club for live music in Austin since 1955. Looking for some salsa dancing, then check out Guero's Taco Bar. 

Austin is a multi-cultural mecca where you can always find a way to be included. It is well worth the visit, even if you can only visit for a day.

About the author: Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group.

Travel Stress-Free During the Holidays

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There’s nothing quite like the Holidays — seeing family, eating comforting food, spending quality time with loved ones. Yet, as magical as this time of the year can be, it can also be incredibly stressful, especially if you're traveling.

Whether you're visiting family, taking a trip with your significant other, or exploring some corner of the world by yourself, there are plenty of ways to keep your Holiday travels stress-free. From price comparisons, to saving cash with transportation, to making sure your home is secure, here are some useful tips:

Price Comparison

There are so many hacks when it comes to comparing prices online, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Use incognito or private mode to compare different websites — especially ones that compare multiple venues for you. Don't rely on any one single website as you can find the same flight with different prices listed on different sites. Save money, save stress. 

Public Transportation

No matter where you're headed, taxis and rideshare services are an expense that could be better spent elsewhere. Look at the public transportation options available to you; almost every city/county has a website you can use to plan how to use public transportation in advance. Buses, trains, subways, or other rapid transits, are excellent options that can allow you to, not only to see more of where you're visiting, but also help you save some money too. Consider investing in a bus or subway pass, and use the extra money for things to make your travels more memorable, like dining out or mementos.

Follow the Early Bird

By early, we mean everything involving the airport. Book as early as you can, so you can get the best possible deal. Pack early, so you aren't rushed at the last minute trying to decide if you need that swimsuit or second pair of flats. Leave early, so you know that you won't be panicking, wondering if you will make it to your gate on time.

If you're going to spend your holiday out backpacking, road tripping, or sightseeing, at the very least, have your first destination planned. There's nothing that can ruin a vacation holiday more than arriving jet-lagged and exhausted, and then trying to book a place to stay using the airport's (sometimes unreliable) WiFi.

Get Help From a Local

Planning a trip can take a lot of time and effort. Before you spend hours online trying to figure out what to eat, see and do, consider requesting a personalized travel itinerary. Companies like Locals Compass can connect you with a Local from your destination who can take care of the planning for you.

Secure Your Home

It’s an awful feeling being an airplane ride away from home and worrying whether your home is secure. Start with a checklist you can look at to feel reassured that your doors, windows and garage are locked, that your oven is off, and that your mail has been put on hold. Put your lights on a timer to keep your home looking lived-in. Make sure your lawn is taken care of and looks maintained, even if that means paying your neighbor to mow it. If you're going on a longer holiday vacation, consider investing in a security system, one that allows you to check on your home remotely.

Lastly, don’t advertise when you’re away. We're all guilty of it at some point. Checking in on Facebook, posting pictures on Instagram, tweeting about the amazing dinner we just had in a city that is nowhere near the one we live in. While it's fun to share with our loved ones, it's a big sign to burglars that you're not home. Waiting to post about your trip until you get home is just one more way you can secure your home.

These simple tips can go a long way to make your holiday vacation smooth and stress-free. Whether it's hiring someone to check up on your home, having a timer for your lights, or making sure you know exactly what bus route you need to get to your hotel, you'll be set. Go, armed with these tips, and enjoy the Holidays — you've earned it.

About the author: Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects, travel and health, to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.


Halloween Fun for Everyone

via Pixabay

Ghosts and goblins, beware! Halloween is almost here and you are in for a scare! From family fun to some of the biggest scares and parties of the season, there’s an event for everyone! Whether you are a local or are visiting any of our cities below, be sure to check out some of our favorite events to celebrate Halloween and close out October. We wouldn’t want you to miss out on the fun!

Bend, Oregon

Smith Rock Ranch
Now - Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Just 30 minutes north of Bend is a full day of family fun celebrating Halloween and the fall season! Open to the public the month of October, Smith Rock Ranch has pumpkins galore, animal visits, a harvest market and the always impressive corn maze, with the 2017 theme of Sherlock Holmes. Other family fun activities at Smith Rock Ranch include live music, putt putt golf and pumpkin canons. Check out their website for additional information!

Galacticross: An Interstellar Experience
Saturday, October 28, 2017
The Deschutes Brewery annual warehouse party is back again! Teaming up with Cyclocross Crusade and Oregon Adaptive Sports, this year’s extravaganza will include cosmic costumes, out of this world art installations, celestial cocktails and other culinary concoctions, DJs, music and other performances. While VIP tickets have already sold out, there will be plenty of GA tickets available at the door, so suit up in your space gear and join the party! This event is 21+ and full details can be found here.

Portland, Oregon

The Pumpkin Patch Farm on Sauvie Island
Now - Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Head on over to Sauvie Island for one of Portland’s largest autumn traditions! Enjoy a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to pick your perfect pumpkin, navigate over two miles of twists and turns in the original corn maze, visit the animals in the big, red barn and check out the farm fresh market or gift shop! Celebrating 50 years of tradition at The Pumpkin Patch, this year’s corn maze pays tribute to the big, red barn built back in 1929. Check out the website for more information.

Now - Tuesday, October 31, 2017
If scares more your thing, be sure to check out FrightTown. Recognized as the Pacific Northwest’s biggest and scariest haunt event, FrightTown features three haunted houses that are sure to make you scream! This years haunted houses include Baron Von Goolo’s Museum of Horrors, a madhouse of humor and horror; Grimthorne Manor, a gothic horror house; and Sector 13, the brand new attraction featuring extraterrestrial mutants. Additional information and tickets can be found here!

Seattle, Washington

Aquarium Halloween
Saturday, October 28 - Sunday, October 29, 2017
Head on over to the Seattle Aquarium for family fun with a Halloween twist! Put on your costume, join in on spooky games and activities and face painting. There will even be two types of pumpkin carving demonstrations, on land with a master carver and underwater with the aquarium divers! On Sunday, October 29, you can also trick-or-treat at waterfront businesses from the ferry terminal to Pier 66. Purchase tickets online and save!

Haunt at MoPop: The Ultimate Halloween Bash
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Selling out every year, Seattle’s largest and longest running Halloween party is back for its 16th year at at the Museum of Pop Culture. This year’s theme is “Ultimate Halloween” and tickets are going fast! Take Halloween to the next level with music, drinks and the largest costume contest in the city, with the best costume taking home $1,000. This event is 21+ and additional details and tickets can be found here.

Washington, DC

The Glow: A Jack O’Lantern Experience
Now - Sunday, October 29, 2017
Just outside of the city, The Glow is enchanting audiences of all ages through the month of October. With over 5,000 jack o’lanterns hand carved by over 20 artists, this event is a must do for Halloween. After walking through the ⅓ mile trail, finish off the night with fall food and beverages. This event is fun for the whole family and photos are encouraged! Visit the website for additional information and tickets.

Pub Dread
Now - Tuesday, October 31, 2017
For the over 21 crowd, check out Pub Dread during the month of October. A spooky way to enjoy drinks this season, Pub Dread is a pop-up bar featuring different Halloween themed rooms and drinks. There’s no cover charge to enter, but keep in mind the highest traffic usually occurs from 6:30-9:30 pm and weekdays are usually less busy than weekends. For more info and a sneak peek at the frightful drink menu, visit their website.

Austin, Texas

Boo at the Zoo!
Now - Saturday, October 28, 2017
Celebrate Halloween Fridays and Saturdays during the month of October when Austin Zoo becomes spooky fun for the whole family! The final two nights are This coming weekend, and tickets are limited. Ride the Haunted Train and explore the Haunted House, and don’t forget your costume! Tickets are $17.50 each, check here for more information!

OctoberFest #3: All Hallows Eve Festival Ball at the Belmont
Saturday, October 28, 2017
For those 21 and over, join in on Austin’s Halloween festival like no other! Not only is this event the best costume party in town, OctoberFest features art (galleries, live art, vendors and face paint), music (music battles, live music and DJs all night long) and fashion. Tickets are going quick, so make sure to grab yours here!

Bend Ale Trail Month


If you have ever visited Bend, you already know that we take pride in all of our breweries and endless supply of craft beer! We like to brew it, we like to drink it, and we’re pretty good at it. With 26 breweries to choose from, can you blame us? While the traditional sit-down or happy hour experience is a great way to pay a visit to these local breweries, an even more fun way to experience some of the best beer in town is participating in the Bend Ale Trail.

November is right around the corner and is Bend Ale Trail Month! Whether you are a local or will be visiting, we all can expect additional contests and prizes, deals and trophies for completing the Bend Ale Trail Passport. If you'll be visiting Bend, make sure to use promo code BENDALE to get a free 2-day itinerary through the end of November.

What is the Bend Ale Trail?
The Bend Ale Trail is recognized as the “Largest Beer Trail in the West” and includes 16 participating Bend breweries. Complete the Bend Ale Trail by using the official Bend Ale Trail Map & Atlas to navigate the city and collect stamps at the participating breweries for fun prizes!

What makes Bend Ale Trail Month so special?
In addition to the normal excitement and prizes that come with completing the Bend Ale Trail, doing so in November means extra contests and prizes, deals, and a championship trophy. That’s right, a trophy! During Bend Ale Trail Month, use #bendaletrailmonth on Instagram to be entered to win Hydro Flasks, Silipints, brewery gift cards, hats, shirts, stickers and more! Check out the Bend Ale Trail website for full details.

Where do I get a Bend Ale Trail Map & Atlas?
The Bend Ale Trail Map & Atlas can be picked up at participating breweries or at the Bend Visitor Center downtown. Alternatively, you can print out a copy of the passport here or download the official Bend Ale Trail app on your smartphone.

What are the participating breweries?
Participating breweries include 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Bend Brewing Company, Boneyard Beer, Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, Craft Kitchen & Brewery, Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, GoodLife Brewing Company, Immersion Brewing, McMenamins Old St. Francis School Brewery, Riverbend Brewing Company, Silver Moon Brewing, Sunriver Brewing Company, Three Creeks Brewing Company, Wild Ride Brewing and Worthy Brewing Company. Make sure to check individual brewery hours before heading out as hours vary, and don’t forget to bring your passport!

What happens when you complete the Bend Ale Trail?
Complete the Bend Ale Trail and receive a special prize! If you collect 10 stamps, you’ll receive a commemorative Bend Silipint. If you collect 16 stamps, you’ll also receive a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener. If you complete the Bend Ale Trail during in November (aka Bend Ale Trail Month) you’ll also receive a trophy.

Where can I claim my prize?
Bend Ale Trail prizes can be claimed downtown at the Bend Visitor Center, located at 750 NW Lava Road, Suite 160 during regular operating hours. The Bend Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 am - 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am - 4 pm.

Are there any rules to participate?
Yes, there are to participate. The Bend Ale Trail Rules & Restrictions are as follows:

  • You must be 21 or over to receive the souvenirs
  • Each person redeeming a prize needs his/her own passport
  • Limit one Silipint per person; limit one extra prize per person
  • No photocopies of completed Bend Ale Trail Passports will be accepted
  • Souvenirs are limited to stock on hand
  • No purchase is required to participate in the Bend Ale Trail

In addition to Bend Ale Trail Month, the Bend Ale Festival and Bend Ale Run also take place in November! Join in on the fun Saturday, November 11, 2017 from 11 am - 8 pm in the Northwest Crossing Neighborhood. With over 40 beers from 20 local breweries, this event is not to be missed by beer lovers! Visit the official website to see who will be pouring and if you're interested in "running for the ale of it," sign up for the Bend Ale Run Half Marathon or 10K here. When you cross the finish line you'll already be at the festival!

Locals Compass is a travel marketplace that connects Travelers with Locals for personalized  travel itineraries. If you’re visiting Bend, Oregon this November, let us take the planning off your list! Use promo code BENDALE for a free 2-day itinerary through November 30, 2017.

PNW Events to Check Out this Fall

Autumn has officially arrived with shorter days, cooler nights, and the prettiest foliage! As we head toward the end of the year, there is no shortage of events to attend in our Pacific Northwest cities. Celebrate the season with some of our favorite events and activities in Bend, Portland and Seattle!

Bend, Oregon

Smith Rock Ranch
Now - October 31, 2017
Just 30 minutes north of Bend, is a full day of family fun! Open to the public the month of October, Smith Rock Ranch has pumpkins galore, an impressive corn maze, animals, a harvest market, and other activities for the whole family. Check out their website for additional information!

Thursday, October 12 - Sunday, October 15, 2017
One of Bend’s Tenth Month events, BendFilm celebrates the voice of independent cinema through films, lectures and education. Bend will be transformed as we gather in downtown theaters, lecture halls, music rooms and other venues to take in the work of the most talented independent filmmakers. Visit the BendFilm website for schedules, pass and ticket information.

Fresh Hops on the Pond
Saturday, October 14, 2017
It’s the most wonderful time of year in Bend: fresh hops season! What a better way to celebrate than with a huge party? Hosted on the lawn of Bend Brewing Company, Fresh Hops on the Pond will have fresh hopped brew from some of the best breweries in town, and live music all afternoon! Full event details can be found here.

Portland, Oregon

The Pumpkin Patch Farm on Sauvie Island
Now - October 31, 2017
October here is here and so are all things fall and Halloween. Head on over to Sauvie Island for one of Portland’s largest autumn traditions! Pick your perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, navigate over two miles of twists and turns in the original corn maze, and check out the farm fresh market or gift shop. Check out their website for more information.

Portland Film Festival
Monday, October 30 - Sunday, November 5, 2017
Portland Film Festival is a non-profit dedicated to filmmakers and audiences, celebrating the power of a good story. Named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2014, this weeklong event is not to be missed. For more information and tickets, visit their website!

Portland Trail Blazers Basketball
October 2017 - April 2018
Basketball is back, with regular season games beginning mid-October. The Trail Blazers have always called Portland home, and have lifelong fans to prove it! Catch a game at the Moda Center when they’re at home, or any of the local sports bars when they’re on the road. The 2017-18 season schedule and ticket information can be found here.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle Restaurant Week
Sunday, October 15 - Thursday, November 2, 2017
Celebrate Seattle’s culinary scene during this three week event, valid Sundays-Thursdays only. With more than 165 local restaurants serving up three-course dinners for just $33, and many offering two or three course lunches for $18. Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to visit all those restaurants that have been on your list and see what makes Seattle a culinary hot spot. Participating restaurants can be found here!

Friday, October 27 - Sunday, October 29, 2017
Calling all sky pirates and explorers, goblins and ghouls, and creatures of all ages. Steamposium is back and going to be a hauntingly good time! As one of the largest conventions of its kind, attendees can expect entertainment, artists and merchants, and the favorite Tea & Fashion Show and Murder Mystery! Check out their website for additional information and tickets.

Seattle Winter Ciderfest
Thursday, November 2, 2017
As we make our way through the fall season, Seattle Winter Ciderfest makes the perfect opportunity to celebrate the harvest and libations of the season before the holiday craziness sets in! In addition to your favorite local cider brands, there will be exhibits from other local companies, beverage categories, and local eats. Grab your tickets here!

Bend Fall Festival

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The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler here in the High Desert. As we enter October, there’s no better way to celebrate the season and enjoy the community than with Bend Fall Festival! The First Interstate Bank Bend Fall Festival, presented by The Source Weekly brings a celebration of all things fall to downtown Bend. Fall-themed activities including contests, music, art, and food that will thrill attendees of all ages.

Bend Fall Festival kicks off at Friday, October 6th at 5 pm and continues through the weekend. Head downtown and join in on the fun! This event takes place on Wall Street, Oregon Avenue and Minnesota Avenue and is free for all to attend!

Friday, October 6th from 5 pm-11 pm
Saturday, October 7th from 11 am-11 pm
Sunday, October 8th from 11 am-5 pm

Check out what’s happening at the Bend Fall Festival below!

Bend Business Showcase
The Business Showcase introduces businesses primarily in the following five categories: Energy Conservation Products and Services, Healing and Wellness, Sports and Recreation, Professional Services and Nonprofit Organizations.

Family Fun Area
Family Harvest Area overflows with Fall themed activities for all ages. With Halloween inspired and harvest activities from family focused businesses around Central Oregon, this is the time to pack up the family for a day of fall fun!

Festival Performances
Get down at the stages of Bend Fall Festival. The Plantae Main Stage features local and national stars that will rock you all weekend long. The KPOV Locals Only Stage features only the best local musicians sure to rev up your Bend, Oregon pride.

Fine Artist Promenade
Stroll through the more than 100 fine artists and craftspeople as they fill the street with their handwork, design and artistry. Traveling to Bend from all over the state, region and country, these fine artists bring color and life to the Bend Fall Festival!

Food Court and Libations
The food court features innovative food vendors serving savory and sweet offerings. Get your eat on in the Wells Fargo Parking Lot off of Oregon Avenue. The Deschutes Brewery Libation Stations will be located throughout the festival space offering a selection of finely crafted microbrews and wine, in addition to seasonal cocktails from Bend Distillery, and ciders from Atlas Cider Company.

Gourmet Food & Wine
Minnesota Avenue becomes the hub for gourmet food and wine. Explore your palate with robust Pacific Northwestern wines, tasty treats, ciders and kombucha, plus so much more.

Harvest Market
Come indulge in the beautiful produce and wonderful food products grown and handcrafted in our region. Delicious fruits and vegetables from local farmers such as knobby gourds and stout pumpkins, vibrant flower bouquets, and local ranchers with chicken, pork, and beef are just a few of the autumn treasures to be found at the market.

Pie Baking Contest
Are you Bend’s Best Baker? Prove it! This year at the Bend Fall Festival, put your pie baking skills to the test at our Pie Baking Contest. Amazing Apple? Check. Perfect Pecan? You got it! Pumpkin Prodigy? I’m drooling. Registration information can be found here.

Pumpkin Carving Competition
Are you the best Pumpkin Carver in town? Put your carving skills to the test at the Bend Fall Festival! We’re taking names for those interested in entering the Pumpkin Carving Contest, send us an email to to be entered.

Head downtown and celebrate autumn in Bend, you don't want to miss out on the fun!

Drink Beer Day

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If you haven’t already guessed (we may have posted about it a time or two), craft beer is kind of our thing out here in the Pacific Northwest. We like to brew it, we like to drink it, and we’re pretty darn good at it! With over 600 breweries between Oregon and Washington, can you really blame us? It’s a beer lover’s paradise out here and coincidentally, Thursday, September 28th is recognized as National Beer Day!

Our Bend, Portland, and Seattle Local Experts have provided their recommendations for the best beer happy hours in their respective locations. Grab a pint and celebrate National Beer Day at our favorites!

Bend, Oregon

Crux Fermentation Project
Built for non-traditional brewing methods like decoction mashing, open fermentation and barrel aging, this one-of-a-kind brewery has one of the best happy hours in town. With panoramic views of the Cascade Range, Crux Fermentation Project holds their Happy Hour (aka Sundowner Hour) with beer specials and $2 starters during the half hour directly before and after sunset each day.

Bend Brewing Company
As the second oldest brewery, Bend Brewing Company is located right on Mirror Pond in historic downtown Bend. A favorite brewpub of locals around town, this brewery recently doubled their space with the addition of a killer outdoor space which makes for a great place to enjoy a cold beer with a view. Stop by Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm for Happy Hour!

Deschutes Brewery
A fixture in downtown Bend since 1988, the original Public House is where it all began for this brewery. With a total of 19 taps running in the original brew pub, and a beer-centric menu with the freshest ingredients from local farms, Deschutes Brewery is a must visit any day of the week, but even better for Happy Hour Mondays!

Portland, Oregon

Burnside Brewing Company
Located in inner southeast Portland, Burnside Brewing Company is widely recognized as a visionary leader in Northwest beer! Visit the brewpub for ever-changing ales, bitters, and lagers, and seven staple beers year round. Happy Hour, or Fermentation Hour as they call it, is from 3-6 pm every day. We recommend the nachos if you need a bite to eat with your brews!

Base Camp Brewing Co.
Brewing since 2012, Base Camp Brewing Co. offers a variety of lagers and ales for the “adventurous palate,” representative of the Pacific Northwest beer industry. Visit their taproom for the relaxed atmosphere, two local food carts, and daily happy hours. Happy Hour is Monday (all day long), Tuesday-Friday (3-6 pm) and Saturday-Sunday (open-3 pm).

Beer O’Clock
While technically not a brewery, Beer O’Clock is an excellent taproom and the perfect happy hour spot for every beer lover! Their current tap list includes 30 beers, heavily made up of Oregon and Washington beers. Enjoy their Happy Hour pints for $3 from 2-5 pm.

Seattle, Washington

Pike Brewing Company
This brewery made the list for our Seattle Locals’ Best IPA’s in Town a while back with its Pike IPA, which has been named one of the “300 Beers to Try Before You Die” by Roger Protz. Located in Pike Place Market, this Pike Brewing Company is one of the few that still brews beer on site and is worth a visit! Happy Hour takes place Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm.

Elysian Brewing Company
Since opening in 1996, Elysian has brewed over 350 different beers and is well known for its variety! Today, Elysian Brewing Company operates four Seattle restaurants and has become a staple among the Pacific Northwest. Happy Hour is seven days a week from 3-6 pm.

Fremont Brew Cruise
While the Fremont Brew Cruise isn’t a brewery itself, this happy hour experience is one to be had and proudly services Seattle’s family-owned Fremont Brewing beer. Happy hour on boat with some of the best views in Seattle? Yes, please! While this experience is reservation only, it occurs every Monday through Friday from 5:15-6:45 pm and is a super fun way to change up your typical happy hour routine.

National Public Lands Day

Mount Shuksan, North Cascades National Park via Pixabay

Mount Shuksan, North Cascades National Park via Pixabay

National Public Lands Day is held annually on the fourth Saturday of September and is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort to improve and restore the health of our public lands. This year, we celebrate America’s public lands on Saturday, September 30th.

Each year the National Environment Education Foundation coordinates National Public Lands Day, and for the 18th year in a row, Toyota will participate as the national corporate sponsor. Participating federal agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Support is also received federal, state, local and national organizations, as well as volunteers like you!

Not only is National Public Lands Day (NPLD) a great day to volunteer, it’s a great day to get out and explore. Better yet, it’s a fee-free day, where regular entrance fees are waived at national parks and other public lands!

What are public lands?
Public lands are just that, public lands! They are places where we live, learn, play, exercise and relax. They're what we use for outdoor recreation, education and enjoyment! Included in our public lands are our awe-inspiring national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, forests, grasslands, reservoirs, wildernesses, and parks managed by public agencies, and much more! For more information and a breakdown on the different types of public lands by, check out this post provided by the Department of the Interior.

Why do public lands matter?
Public lands matter because they belong to and are enjoyed by all! Nearly one-third of America’s land is public land and in order for us to continue to enjoy them, they must continue to thrive. By preserving these lands, we contribute to the health of the ecosystems and the habitats that make them up. Once they’re gone, there is no replacing them, so we must do our part to protect them!

How can you help?
There are a number of ways you can help protect our public lands, starting with volunteering this September 30th! There are a number of different National Public Lands Day events going on around the country where volunteers are needed! Volunteers can get out and enjoy these beautiful lands while helping restore and refurbish trails, plant trees, remove trash and invasive species, restore historic structures and more. Check here for a NPLD event near you!

For the remaining 364 days in the year, you can help preserve our public lands by practicing the “Leave No Trace Seven Principles” and encouraging others to do the same. These principles provide guidance for how to enjoy our natural resources in a way that prevents human-created impacts. For more detailed information on the principles below, check out the Leave No Trace website.

Leave No Trace Seven Principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

What’s needed when visiting?
It is so easy to visit any one of America’s public lands! With over 400 national park sites, more than 500 wildlife refuges, and nearly 250 million acres of other public lands, there’s at least one near you no matter your location. We highly encourage a visit!

When visiting, please be mindful of the “Leave No Trace Seven Principles” and be aware of any fees and/or permits associated with these visits. While not all public lands require a fee, fees that are collected go towards park efforts including maintenance, restoration and other repairs. Fees vary by location and type (park, national forest, beaches, etc.) so it’s important to check ahead of time when visiting a destination, however we’ve found the Interagency Annual Pass to be the best bang for your buck.

There are six agencies that participate in this program (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and it is accepted at over 2,000 recreation sites in the nation! The Interagency Annual Pass will run you $80, but it’s worth every penny if you plan on using these lands often, as day-use fees can add up just as quickly. For more information, check out this website.

There are also several fee-free days at participating public lands! We recommend checking ahead before you go, as some of the fee-free days vary among agencies. A full list of of all agency fee-free days can be found here, and the dates for the National Park Service can be found below:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 and April 22-23: The weekends of National Park Week
  • August 25-28: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

National Parks of the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is home to many parks, wildernesses, national forests and other public lands, allowing for endless outdoor activity and adventure. Among those, we are lucky to have four national parks right in our back yard!

Crater Lake, Oregon: Set atop the Cascade Mountain Range, Crater Lake is a sight to behold! One of the most pristine lakes on Earth, and the deepest in the United States, Crater Lake measures at 1,943 feet at its deepest and is fed only by rain and snow. This natural wonder was created nearly 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama, standing then at 12,000 feet, collapsed after a major eruption. The lake only takes up roughly 10% of the entire park, making for endless exploration. This national park has two developed campgrounds and two lodging facilities, typically accessible May-October. Single vehicle fees are $15 per vehicle allowing access up to seven days. For additional information, visit their website

Mount Rainier, Washington: An icon in Washington state’s landscape, Mount Rainier stands 14,410 feet above sea level. Mount Rainier is an active volcano and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, spawning six river systems. This park has five developed areas, each area offering a different level of development ranging from basic (campground and picnic area) to extensive (hotel, restaurant and visitor center) serving as a great base for exploring the rest of the park. The snow capped mountains, wildflower fields and abundant hiking trails are a must-visit if you’re in Washington. Single vehicle fees are $25 per vehicle and offer park access for seven consecutive days. Visit their website for additional park information.

North Cascades, Washington: “The North Cascades are Calling!” Located less than three hours from Seattle is the beautiful alpine landscape of North Cascades National Park. With jagged peaks, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers, this park is home to grizzly bears, gray wolves and over 200 bird species, and the remote community of Stehekin. Overnight accommodations range from car-camping to resorts and lodges, some accessible by vehicles, some by boat! If you’re visiting Washington, you won’t want to miss this beautiful park. And guess what? There is no entrance fee to North Cascades National Park! For more information, check out their website.

Olympic, Washington: Washington’s Olympic National Park is the epitome of diversity. Spanning nearly one million acres, this park includes several unique ecosystems including snow-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rainforests, and over 70 miles of coastline, with endless opportunity for adventure and activity in each diverse location. From day trips, to camping, and resort style accommodations, Olympic National Park is a must-visit any time of the year! Single vehicle fees are $15 per vehicle allowing access up to seven days. Visit their website for additional information.

A day in the life of an Austin local


As the state capital of Texas, Austin offers year-round entertainment and activities. Whether you are coming to Austin for the food, the outdoors, live music, or family fun, we have a Local Expert that can create a personalized travel itinerary just for you. From outdoor adventures, educational pursuits, or a little bit of everything, Austin Local Expert Holly is well-versed in everything the city has to offer for both adults and kids. Check out what Holly can be found doing on the perfect "Sunday Funday" in Austin and use promo code ATXLAUNCH for a free 2-day itinerary through October 31st!

A perfect family day in Austin

With young children, summer days often start earlier than you may like, but we always make the best of it because there is so much going on in the city. For my family, summers in Austin are all about spending time with each other, while beating the heat in one of the many many spring-fed pools and creeks around town!

My family's day begins with an early start at the Cherrywood Coffeehouse, an eatery offering eclectic eats, great coffee, beer and music. Our favorite on the menu is the Sol Taco, one of the millions of delicious breakfast tacos around town. For the kids, we start off with a granola parfait. As we’re finishing off our meal and enjoying the last moments of cool morning air, we catch a couple of songs by a local children’s band and the kids get a few wiggles out. We duck out of there with a coffee to-go just as it starts to fill up and head on to our next destination.

We head over to the hip, new Mueller development to let the kids burn off more steam at the Thinkery, a place where families and science play side by side. Austin’s large, modern children’s museum keeps the kids’ attention in a vice grip, while mom and dad leisurely follow behind, occasionally assisting in the building of a giant pulley system or creating a stop-motion video. After a couple of hours of indoor play, we’re ready to brave the heat again!

We arm ourselves with some ice cream from Lick, in one of their rotating flavors that appease both small palates and the more distinguished, and then wander over to the farmers' market on the edge of the “lake.” Stopping to feed the ducks and fish along the way is a family favorite! At the Mueller Farmers' Market, we grab Short Bus sandwiches for lunch, some snacks for our picnic later in the evening, and a Texas Keeper Cider while the kids eagerly await their turn in the Tiny Tails Petting Zoo. We snap the cutest pictures of them holding bunnies, hedgehogs, and tortoises!

After lunch at the Farmers' Market, it’s time to recuperate. We head back to the house to rest, cool off, and pack our picnic dinner. Once we’re all refreshed, we head south to claim a spot at the Zilker Hillside Theatre for their annual summer musical. We spread out a blanket to claim our spot, and then walk over to Barton Springs Pool where we brave the 70 degree water in short bursts, alternated by basking in the sun. As the sun begins to set, we dive into our picnic dinner while enjoying free musical theater, this year The Wizard of Oz, until we are all slightly drowsy. We duck out a bit early to avoid the crowds, get home and put the kiddos to bed, and still have have enough energy to enjoy a cocktail on the patio before we tuck in after a full day of family fun!

For your next Austin adventure, let Locals Compass do the planning for you! Our Locals can design a personalized travel itinerary based on your travel style and interests, and you’ll navigate Austin, Texas just like a local!