End of Summer Vacation Ideas

It is almost fall!

My favorite season of all!

Though that does not mean I cannot day dream of a few end of summer vacation ideas.

It is the middle of September, and October is just around the corner. School is starting. Cold weather will be coming. So, why not have a last hurrah? Here is a list of ten of my favorite places I have visited. Both big and small. Perhaps one will spark an inspiration in you to have one final summer adventure.

  • Blue Bicycle Book Shop- A lovely bookshop I went to in Charleston, SC. It had a variety of new, used, rare, and signed books. Located in the Historic District around the King Street area there is also a lot of other local and chain shopping. Plus, many fantastic dining options. I go slightly more into detail here on my post about Charleston.
  • Middleton Place- Also on my visit to Charleston, SC. A historic plantation that not only offers a house tour, but also a stable tour, roaming sheep, restaurant, two gift shops, other historical buildings, Eliza’s story and the plantation’s history of slavery, and multiple gardens with wildlife. Again, check out the Charleston blog post here for more information.
  • Jaliscos- The best Mexican restaurant in Hays, Kansas. Perhaps your end of the summer vacation is all about food. Hit up Jaliscos. I highly recommend the queso and pollo bandido.
  • The Market Shop- One of the best small business home stores I know. Located in downtown Salina, Kansas, so one can shop many other great local stores in the area. They have a cottage vibe to their home decor goods. Also, many other fun items such as hilarious tea towels, baby gifts, and clothing. I write about them for having great puzzles in my post here.
  • Wonders of Wildlife- Located in Springfield Missouri; this is actually an amazing museum/aquarium/zoo/wildlife center by a Bass Pro Shop. Being a public historian geek; I was amazed with how well they set up the museum flow. Plus, you see so many animals and fish. Truly feel like you are on an actual adventure. Did I mention you can feed manta rays?
  • Windsor Castle- Here is a big adventure, and may be hard to visit in COVID times, but oh well! Windsor Castle in England is one of the most amazing places I have seen in my life. Honestly, I could go into detail about it for paragraphs, but ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING PLACES I HAVE SEEN IN MY LIFE… pretty much sums it up.
  • National World War I Museum- Located in downtown Kansas City (which is just an amazing area in itself to visit) It does not look like much from the outside, but when you step inside you see why it is the leading authority in the country on World War I. Not only is the museum exquisite and beautifully set up for visitors; it also houses a gift shop, cafes, archives and libraries, a full on no man’s land trench, a poppy field inside the building, and also a monument tower which you can ride an elevator to the top to have one of the best views of Kansas City.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art- Art. So much art. You will not get through this museum in a day there is that much amazing art. I have been twice, and I do not think I have seen the entire museum. Not only paintings and sculptures though. You could see pieces of furniture, knight’s in shining armor, or fabulous gowns. Plus, a wonderful representation of different ethnicities and cultures. Located in NYC.
  • The Wizard’s Thatch- Yet again, we visit overseas. Unless you do not live in North America…then never mind. Located in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birth and resting place of Williams Shakespeare. It is essentially a knock off Harry Potter store. But, its a damn good time. Not only will they send your letters by owls, but they also offer spells, wands, brooms, and many other magical items for sale. I absolutely bought a butter beer from their cafe inside. And again, there is great shopping surrounding the area. Just honestly visit Stratford-upon-Avon all together. Great town.
  • The Majestic Theatre- Finally, my favorite theatre in the world. The home of the best musical in the world. Phantom of the Opera. At the moment… it is very closed due to the pandemic. However, I would feel unfaithful if I did not put it on the list. Hosting the longest running broadway musical; you get the epitome of New York Broadway style in this place. When the show is open I highly suggest going to visit. Hey, visit the outside of theatre even if it is not open.

Though I love the places I have been… I thought I would still offer a list of places I want to go. Perhaps you can get there before me and let me know how amazing they are.

  • Arizona… literally anywhere in Arizona
  • The Grand Canyon
  • A portion of Route 66
  • Derry, Northern Ireland
  • The Pyramids of Giza
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
  • The Evil Knievel Museum
  • Tuscany
  • The giant Van Gogh Painting in Goodland, Kansas.

The Dusty Bookshelf

The Dusty Bookshelf in Manhattan, Kansas (there is also one in Lawerence, Kansas) is located in Aggieville on 700 N Manhattan Ave. Newly renovated after a devastating fire in 2017; the store sells and trades high quality used books, sells books online using various platforms, has a monthly literary calendar, a scholarly collection, and will gladly give you suggestions on the spot in the store.

Personally, The Dusty Bookshelf is one of (if not) my favorite bookstores of all time. Not only do you have a chance to purchase books at a local and independent bookstore, but you also get a place to relax, read, work, and meet like minded humans. Sitting areas are spread throughout the establishment. Assorted coffee and cookies are always on sale for purchase. Of course, I went for my usual chai tea latte, and The Dusty Bookshelf’s chai does not disappoint.

Besides books that are reasonably priced; they also sell games, puzzles, notebooks, stickers, pins, and other knick knack items.

My last books purchased there were Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life which is a hilarious and understanding take on how to deal with anxiety, and Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library for only $5!!! I said reasonably priced!!

There are many genres of books in the store including, fiction, non-fiction, best sellers, history, young adults, children, spiritual and religion, self help, art, horror, mystery, sci-fi, and I definitely feel like I am missing some. Guess you will have to stop by to see the rest.

I highly suggest going to The Dusty Bookshelf whether it be for books, coffee, gifts, or community. If you cannot stop in check our their website where you can read more about the bookstore’s history, buy gift cards, see upcoming events, or shop for some of their items. Finally, they have a great instagram page to follow, as well.

Taylor Jenkins Reid

Our last author being spotlighted not only wrote the book I am currently reading, but wrote one of my favorite books of all time, Daisy Jones and The Six. Our last amazing female author is Taylor Jenkins read. Well known for Daisy Jones and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo; Reid also has written four other novels plus her newest that came out this summer, Malibu Rising.

I read Daisy Jones and fell absolutely in love. It is the book I recommend to anyone who asks for a book recommendation. You actually feel like you are watching a documentary on a 1970s rock band instead of reading a book. I want to jam to Daisy Jones and the Six songs so bad. Thankfully, I might get to soon. The book is becoming a series on Amazon Prime in the future with Sam Claflin from the Hunger Games in it.

I am currently reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and am loving it, as well. Written in a different writing technique it still follows an idea of famous people being interviewed like Daisy Jones and The Six. I love how realistic Reid makes her writing. Even with Evelyn Hugo I still feel like I am almost watching something as opposed to reading something.

Finally, next on my to read list is Malibu Rising, Reid’s latest novel. I enjoy that it uses a character from Evelyn Hugo. I also like the idea that Reid is creating her own world of celebrities within her books. I am subscriber to book of the month (which I also highly suggest), and my June book was Malibu Rising. Goodreads summarizes the story as the following.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth. Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.”

Go get a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, and let yourself be enamored with her world of celebrities and stars taking you on wild rides.

Female Author Spotlight Day 3

Shirley Jackson

‘I can’t help it when people are frightened,’ says Merricat. ‘I always want to frighten them more.’ “

Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Best Known for her work in the genres of horror and mystery, Shirley Jackson wrote six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories. Her best short story, most of you may know from your time in school, was “The Lottery.” The story is about a small town participating in the lottery every year. Only at the end does one find out what winning the lottery really means. Similar to yesterday’s highlighted female author, Madeleine L’Engle, I enjoy Shirley Jackson because of her quirky and different characters. I have read two of Jackson’s novels along with “The Lottery,” and I immensely enjoyed both of them. The characters she creates, and the way Jackson writes has such a unique word choice and pattern. I enjoy that many conversations characters have in the books appear to be fantastical, and often regarded by many of the more “normal” people as odd. I think it is absolute genius to have one of your characters be enamored with living on the moon with golden spoons. The storytelling often follows a similar pattern.

The Haunting of Hill House


I recently finished reading The Haunting of Hill House. As I am sure with many of you, my first dip into this story was the very successful Netflix television series. I loved the series, but let me tell you the book is quite different. Did that mean I disliked the book? Quite the contrary; I enjoyed it even more. Now, I had two stories about the infamous Hill House! It was also really interesting to see where Netflix got their ideas from while reading the original story. As long as you are not biased towards to TV show; I think you should really read The Haunting of Hill House. It lives up to its title of horror defining and best literary ghost story. The book has also inspired other movies and theatricals.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

The other Jackson novel I have read is We Have Always Lived In The Castle. It is less of a horror and more of a thriller than The Haunting of Hill House. It definitely dives more into a psychological realm rather than a supernatural one. Plus, lots of family and small town drama. Who doesn’t want to read about that, right? Fantastic characters that really make you think placed in a very unusual, yet interesting setting. Also, adapted into a film with one of my favorite actors, Sebastian Stan.

Shirley Jackson has claimed her spot in the horror and mystery genre of literature. The Shirley Jackson Awards are now given in her honor to new authors and pieces of works in those areas. Many famous authors, such as Steven King and Neil Gaiman, cite her as an inspiration for their own work. However, the thing I love most about Shirley Jackson is the wit, life, and humor she would put into her books about death and horror. She named one her memoirs Living with Savages to discuss life with her children. Hilarious! Also, on my to be read list. I leave you now with a few quotes attributed to her before you run to the library and check out her books.

‘The persona that Jackson presented to the world was powerful, witty, even imposing,’ wrote Zoë Heller in the New Yorker.‘She could be sharp and aggressive with fey Bennington girls and salesclerks and people who interrupted her writing. Her letters are filled with tartly funny observations. Describing the bewildered response of New Yorker readers to ‘The Lottery,’ she notes, ‘The number of people who expected Mrs. Hutchinson to win a Bendix washing machine at the end would amaze you.’ “

Zoe Heller, New Yorker

‘She did work hard,’ her son Laurence said. ‘She was always writing, or thinking about writing, and she did all the shopping and cooking, too. The meals were always on time. But she also loved to laugh and tell jokes. She was very buoyant that way.’ “

Laurence Jackson

Madeleine L’Engle

Our next female author in this week’s showcase is Madeleine L’Engle. She is most well known for being the author of A Wrinkle In Time. I read A Wrinkle In Time when I was 11 years old, and it has been my favorite book since. When I was entering college I discovered A Wrinkle In Time was actually part of a series. One summer I read the entire set, and I personally think they are all phenomenal. The series continues following the Murry family from A Wrinkle In Time. The Time Quintet, as it is called, even has one book that is considered part of two L’Engle’s series, An Acceptable Time. The other series is centered on the O’Keefe family which is connected to A Wrinkle In Time. She focuses heavily on her christian faith mixed with her interest in science in her writings.

Why I love A Wrinkle In Time so much though is L’Engles ability to make such quirky, strong, and dynamic characters. I always love a character in a book that has such a quirky and cultured persona. I love that L’Engle highlights that with the entire Murry family from A Wrinkle In Time. To picture this family in their home drinking hot chocolate in the middle of the night discussing moving through time, old religion stories, or just what crazy invention one of them is making next is such an impactful image to me. I want that life. I feel I live that life. The unique stories of what people do with ones they care about just simply in their homes rather than for some big show are the best kind of stories to explore. That is why I love not only A Wrinkle In Time, but Madeleine L’Engle.

L’Engle is not only a novelist, but a poet and playwright, as well. I read a book of her poems including “Lines Scribbled on an Envelope.” She also dives into non-fiction writing. She has four movie adaptations of her books. I highly suggest looking into Madeleine L’Engle’s writings if you are interested in a very unique perspective with fascinating characters. If you are interested in learning more about the author herself check out her granddaughters’ biography, Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters. I know it is going on my reading list.