Arts / Culture / History, Family Fun, Festivals / events, Food and Wine, Mountain Adventures, North Carolina, Resorts, B&Bs, Inns, Romantic get-a-ways

Holiday Splendor in Asheville, NC

Asheville is an all-year-round destination, but during the holidays, this North Carolina mountain town sparkles with extra fun activities for the entire family.


“Christmas at the Biltmore” is a one-of-a-kind event that draws visitors from all over the country for its two-month long celebration (Nov. 4th to Jan 8th ). Take a self-guided audio tour of this elaborately-decorated French Renaissance chateau featuring 55 hand-decorated trees, 25,000 ornaments and 100,000 holiday lights, or book a special holiday candlelight tour at night. In addition to house tours, there’s a plethora of other holiday events on the estate property including food, music, wine tastings, shopping, and even carriage rides.


One of the “sweetest” events of the holiday season is the “National Gingerbread Competition, which is held at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, gingerbread artists of all ages compete for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. Guests can view the displays and winners in person from Nov. 28th to Jan. 2nd  or watch “The Twelve Days of Gingerbread” on the hotel’s Facebook page @omnigroveparkinn from Dec. 1st to 12th.

Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum


Don’t miss the winter extravaganza of light, art and music at the North Carolina Arboretum’s “Winter Lights” show. Walk through the rainbow arch into glowing landscapes with several new-themed displays including winter wildlife, colorful butterflies and a giant daisy garden. In addition to lights, there are plenty of family activities including hot chocolate and s’more making stations for kids. Adults can enjoy craft beers while walking through the gardens. (Nov. 18th –Jan.8th


Another reason visitors love Asheville during the winter holidays is the opportunity to get outside. With mild daytime temps in the 50s and 60s, the Asheville area offers a wide variety of winter hikes for the entire family. The “Moore Cove Falls Trail” is an easy .7 mile trail that ends in a 50-foot plunge waterfall over a dramatic rock ledge. Visitors can even walk under the ledge behind the waterfall. For more winter hike suggestions see

(This article first appeared in Allegiant Airline’s in-flight magazine, Sunseeker, Winter issue 2022-23. I am a freelance writer for Allegiant and this is reposted by permission.)



The Disney Wish will sail its inaugural season of three- and four-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, from its new home port of Port Canaveral, Florida.

“When you wish upon a star. . . your dreams come true.” Aboard Disney’s newest cruise ship, the Disney Wish, dreams certainly can come true. This 5th ship in the Disney Cruise Line offers 3-& 4-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral, FL.

With the theme of “Enchantment,” the Disney Wish combines classic Disney characters with heroes from Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars to deliver a new level of high-tech, immersive experiences above and beyond what any other Disney cruise ship offers.

The new cruise ship introduces several innovative “firsts” that will delight Disney fans of all ages. From its Fairytale Grand Hall to its newest Tower Suite, upscale theatrical family dining experiences, new water features, fun kid zones and expanded adult-only spaces, Disney has definitely sprinkled some new pixie dust around this ship.

Disney introduces the first-ever, 2-story Tower Suite, housed in one of the ship’s iconic funnels. Offering amazing views, this suite has a private elevator, access to the concierge lounge and sun deck with two whirlpools, a bar, wading pool and lounges. (Get your reservation in early as it’s already booked more than a year out!) The Disney Wish also has four royal suites and 70 concierge staterooms (double any other Disney ship). And its family staterooms are also a step up with 70% offering verandas.

Worlds of Marvel is the first-ever Marvel cinematic dining adventure, where guests play an interactive role in an action-packed Avengers mission that unfolds around them, complete with a worldly menu inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Disney Wish introduces three new story-driven dining adventures. “Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure,” is a theater-in-the-round experience of music, story and live characters from the popular “Frozen” movie. The “Marvel Cinematic Dining Experience” invites all Marvel fans to play an interactive role in an action-packed Avenger’s mission using a Quantum Core located on their dining table. A third dining room, “1923,” celebrates the year that the Walt Disney Company was founded and pays homage to the golden age of animation. Guests will rotate through all three dining experiences (along with their serving staff) during the cruise.

Get ready for adventure on the high seas with “AquaMouse,” the first-ever Disney water attraction at sea. This wild water ride showcases animated shorts of Mickey and friends through port holes as it climbs to the top before cascading through 760 feet of winding tubes suspended above the upper deck. Water escapes are in abundance with more pools and deck space than any other Disney ship. There are 3-themed waters districts and 6 pools designed for family members of all ages.

Marvel Super Hero Academy is a high-tech Avengers headquarters where young “recruits” will train to be the next generation of Super Heroes with the help of their own real-life heroes, like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Disney’s “Oceaneer Club,” for ages 3-12 will have even adults wishing they could spend a day here. The “Marvel Super Hero Academy” trains young recruits to become the next generation of Super Heroes. First, they design a Marvel-inspired super-hero suit and then test the suit’s power in a game. At the new “Walt Disney Imagineering Lab,” kids design their own rollercoaster and then take it for a virtual spin. At “Fairlytale Hall,” kids choose from arts and crafts, storytime with Belle, or play in the “virtual” snow with Anna and Elsa. Tweens and teens have their own spaces known as the “Edge” and the “Vibe.”

Couples, singles and even grandparents who want to spend some time with their grandchildren, but also want to relax, unwind, or bar hop all night will find several new adult-only spaces on the “Disney Wish.” The “Quiet Cove” pool area has its own bar, whirlpool and the first infinity pool aboard a Disney ship. The “Outdoor Oasis at Senses Spa” is also a first for the Disney Line, offering an outdoor rainforest area, spa treatments, and food and drink options.

The most anticipated new lounge is the “Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge” where guests can sip out-of-this-world libations while staring out a 20-foot-wide-widow into space with views that change every 7-10 minutes. At night it’s an adults-only space, but during the day Star War fans of all ages can visit the lounge. They even serve non-alcoholic cocktails to those too young to drive a hyperspace vehicle.

I was invited as a media guest to sail on this inaugural Disney Wish Cruise in May 2022. All views and opinions in this story are my own. Photos courtesy of : The Walt Disney World. For more info see:

Family Fun, Food and Wine, North Carolina

Calabash, NC: A Coastal Adventure

Calabash Riverfront. (Photo by Sandra Chambers)

Located just 30 minutes north of the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, lies a quaint fishing town that has garnered the moniker of “The Seafood Capital of the World” for once having 30 restaurants within a square mile. It is also the birthplace of Calabash-style seafood.

Calabash Oysters (Photo by Sandra Chambers)

In addition to its great seafood, Calabash, North Carolina, is a fun day trip offering a picturesque waterfront lined with shrimp boats: a marketplace that features works by Carolina artists: a block-wide mercantile offering a variety of unique wares as well as a Christmas shop; a local creamery dipping up delicious homemade ice cream and boat tour adventures. 

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Disney, Entertainment & shows, Family Fun, Florida, Resorts, B&Bs, Inns, Uncategorized

Epcot’s Multi-Year Transformation

(David Roark, photographer)

EPCOT is undergoing one of the largest transformations of any Disney park in history. It was due to be completed by the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World on October 1, 2021, but was delayed because of COVID. Many of the new rides, experiences and restaurants are now open and several more are due at EPCOT to open summer of 2022. One of the most anticipated rides at EPCOT, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, opens May 27th. This new family-thrill coaster takes guests on an intergalactic chase through time and space. The coaster rotates 360 degrees, features the first reverse launch on any Disney coaster and will be one of the longest fully enclosed coasters in the world. 

Check out my full article here.

Arts / Culture / History, Family Fun, Food and Wine, Georgia

Visit Georgia’s Family-Friendly Island

Tybee Island, GA

Tybee Island has a laid-back, low-key feel reminiscent of a 50’s and 60’s beach town replete with quaint cottages, mom & pop eateries and a wide five-mile long sandy beach with plenty of space to park an umbrella and chair, build a sandcastle or toss a Frisbee.

Beautiful Tybee Island offers an abundance of fun adventures for every member of the family, including beach and water sport enthusiasts, history buffs, nature lovers, seafood aficionados and shoppers.

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