Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter weekend: a trip to Shenandoah and how to travel frugalishly

Happy April, friends! Last week the hubster and I celebrated spring with a little getaway to Shenandoah National Park. It was a bit snowier then we expected, but the views were incredible! If you like mountains, hiking, and beautiful vistas this is the place for you!
lots of scraggly old trees on the ridge
We suggest grabbing a sandwich or picnic dinner in town and heading back into the mountains for sunset. Pick one of the many overlooks that face west and spend the evening marveling at God's handiwork.
We stayed at a beautiful old B and B in Luray, VA, South Court Inn Bed and Breakfast.  If you are looking for delicious food, comfortable accommodations, and welcoming hosts in the Shenandoah Valley, we highly recommend you stay here.
Our favorite feature (besides the incredible breakfasts and complimentary snacks) was the morning coffee delivered outside your room by 7am. Sipping a cup of locally roasted coffee while watching the sun rise over the Blue Ridge mountains from bed...now that's a morning routine I could get used to everyday!
On our second day in the valley, we decided to brave the cold and explore the park on foot. Our first try was a little adventure up an old fire road in Big Meadow...it wasn't a very long walk. The wind was cold and strong, but I snapped this picture while attempting to not blow over. Even the clouds look cold! We turned around when the snow had drifted so high that snow shoes were necessary.

Then we went for a little stroll through the woods on the Limberlost trail (named after the swamp that's in the two children's classics The Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles). I love both of these books and was just a bit excited to be walking in a Limberlost Swamp of sorts...

Our tips for traveling frugalish:
- set a budget for your trip including gas, accommodations, food, and activities
- pack your own snacks (granola bars, trail mix, fruit) and drinks (or just fill up a ton of water bottles)
- eat a big breakfast - the goal is to be full enough so lunch isn't needed and the nutritious snacks you pack can hold you over until dinner
- research restaurants online (we love tripadvisor) - find the highest rated restaurants in town and then choose the one that fits within your budget
- remember tourist attractions cost big $$ - skip them (unless you have wiggle room in your budget) and choose the free activities instead
- take advantage of off-season accommodations and special packages

It was lovely trip! We have happily checked another national park off our list. If you're interested in traveling to Shenandoah, we suggest visiting in the fall to see the foliage or (later) in the spring for the blooms and red buds. One perk of a cold, windy, snowy park - the crowds were non-existent. So if you prefer wide open spaces to yourself, visit in the winter or early spring.

We ended our weekend with a very wet outdoor Easter egg hunt on the farm and a family cookie decorating party (our decorating skills need a little help!).  Hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!

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