Maine Bucket List ~ Downeast Acadia Region

Heading into the area that is super high on my overall bucket list for the United States as this is home to Acadia National Park! Of course, as we are still along the coast, there also are a lot of lighthouses again.

Addison

  • North Island Light: Located at the end of the bay, it is best viewed by boat.

Bass Harbor

  • Bass Harbor Head Light: Located on the southern tip of Mount Desert Island.

Brooklin

  • Blue Hill Bay Light: View only by boat.

Calais

  • Whitlocks Mill Light: Can view from a Rest Area off Route 1.

Castine

  • Dice Head: View only by boat.

Corea

  • Petit Manan Light: View only by boat.

Cutler

  • Little River Light: Best viewed from a cruise.

Deer Isle

  • Eagle Island Light: View only by boat.

Ellsworth

  • Telephone Museum: Shows the history of the telephone and its impact on the economy.

Frenchboro

  • Great Duck Island Light: View only by boat.
  • Mount Desert Rock Light: Use as whale research station, view by boat.

Isle au Haut

  • Isle au Haut Light: Accessible by ferry. Only grounds open to public.

Islesford

  • Baker Island Light: View only by boat.

Jonesport

  • Moose Peak Light: Get a distant view from Great Wass Island.

Little Deer Isle

  • Pumpkin Island Light: View from the mainland.

Lubec

  • Lubec Channel Light: View distantly from shore.
  • West Quoddy Head Light: Visit the grounds and keeper’s house musuem.

Machiasport

  • Libby Island Light: View only by boat.

Millbridge

  • Narraguagus Light: View only by boat.

Mount Desert

  • Acadia National Park: Beautiful park for hiking and scenic ocean coast views.

Northeast Harbor

  • Bear Island Light: View only by boat.

Prospect Harbor

  • Prospect Harbor Light: Located on military base, but can be viewed from the base entrance.

Southwest Harbor

  • Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving: Beautiful wood artwork of birds can be viewed at this one-of-a-kind art museum.

Storington

  • Deer Island Thorofare Light: View only by boat.

Swan’s Island

  • Burnt Coat Harbor Light: Grounds open to public and can be reached by ferry.

Winter Harbor

  • Egg Rock Light: View only by boat.
  • Winter Harbor Light: View only by boat.

All attractions found in the 2021 Maine Travel Planner.

Kansas City Airbnb

It’s official. We are hooked on Airbnb’s! With this being our first “big” trip following the pandemic, we opted to go the Airbnb route once more and we are sold for life! I think it will now be a rare occasion that we actually do hotel stays.

Most Airbnb’s in the Kansas City area are south of the river. We got lucky and found one for an amazing price just a few blocks away from the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. It was an amazing location!

Our hosts were fantastic and gave us very easy directions to follow for accessing this basement apartment; not to mention they also gave fantastic restaurant recs! This Airbnb does have a separate entrance to access the basement apartment, but it looks like they will soon be adding an upper apartment as well given the work being done in the shared hallways above the stairs! That means two people will probably get to snag this ideal location!

After heading down the stairs, you had yet another door with code to access the apartment. When you first walk in, you are in the living room. This also doubles as the dining area, and the welcome sign was a nice homey touch!

The kitchen was off to the left of the dining space. It was small but still had a full size fridge, stove/oven, microwave, Keurig, and sink.

To the right of the living area, was the bedroom. Both the living room and bedroom had a TV, but we didn’t use it the entire time! We were too busy enjoying the area!

Finally, through a long hallway/closet space there was the bathroom. It’s tiny, but quite functional with a beautiful full shower.

We loved all the cute Kansas City area decor they placed in this apartment and can say that they certainly took advantage of living near an Ikea to furnish this place! (Who wouldn’t?)

This apartment had street parking, but we never had to fight for a space, even if we did park on the other side of the street a few times. The neighborhood felt very safe and there was access to several walking paths in the area. We really enjoyed the path just to the north of our place, but the river path and nearby conservation area were also nice!

You also can easily walk over to the art museum and enjoy their outdoor sculpture garden and we often trekked the mile to the Country Club Plaza for some fun shopping and dining! For the price we paid, this location can’t be beat!

If you also would like to enjoy this Airbnb, click the link here to book your stay! And follow our blog and sitesandbitesjournal on Instagram to stay up to date with our travels!

Maine Bucket List ~ Mid-coast and Island Region

Today’s region is a longer list because it is filled with something we love to seek out when traveling along coastlines: Lighthouses!

Arrowsic

  • Doubling Point Light: Grounds open to public and can be viewed from a sightseeing cruise.
  • Squirrel Point Light: Access the grounds from a trail.

Bath

  • Maine’s First Ship: A rebuilding of the first ship to be built in America.
  • Maine Maritime Museum: Explore the state’s maritime history and how it had a global impact.

Boothbay

  • Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: Beautiful gardens that include a mile of tidewater shoreline.

Boothbay Harbor

  • Burnt Island Light: Entrance to Boothbay Harbor.
  • Ram Island Light: Best seen from sightseeing cruises.

Bristol

  • Pemaquid Point Light: Entrance to two bays.

Camden

  • Camden Hills State Park: Provides beautiful views overlooking the bay.
  • Curtis Island Light: Public park accessible by boat.

Casco Bay

  • Ram Island Ledge Light: Privately owned lighthouse you can view by boat.

Georgetown

  • Franklin Island Light: Viewed only by boat.
  • Perkins Island Light: Viewed only by boat.
  • Pond Island Light: Viewed only by boat.

Harpswell

  • Cliff Trail: Popular trail that features a waterfall.
  • Halfway Rock Light: Seen from the southern tip of Bailey Island.

Isleboro

  • Grindle Point Light: Can be reached by ferry.

Mantinicus

  • Mantinicus Rock Light: Island maintained as a bird sanctuary.

Monehegan

  • Monehegan Island Light: Tour the grounds a museum.

North Haven

  • Goose Rocks Light: Visible only by boat.

Owls Head

  • Rockland Harbor Southwest Light: Grounds are open to the public.

Popham Beach

  • Seguin Island Light: Open to private boaters and sometimes accessed by cruise tours.

Port Clyde

  • Marshall Point Light: Grounds open to the public.

Rockland

  • Rockland Breakwater Light: Located at the end of the breakwater.

Rockport

  • Beech Hill: Summit this hill via a trail.
  • CMCA: Enjoy the emerging art at this museum.
  • Indian Island Light: Lighthouse best viewed from Rockport Maine Park.

Southport

  • Cuckolds Lighthouse: View from the public landing in Southport.

Spruce Head

  • Two Bush Island Light: Visible only from boat.

St. George

  • Tenants Harbor Light: Only visible by boat.
  • White Head Light: Station not open to public. View from afar.

Stockton Springs

  • Fort Point Light: Grounds accessible to public.

Thomaston

  • General Henry Knox Museum: Learn all about the life of Revolutionary War Hero, Henry Knox.

Vinalhaven

  • Brown’s Head Light: Grounds open to public.
  • Heron Neck Light: Only visible from boat.
  • Saddleback Ledge Light: Only visible from boat.

West Southport

  • Hendricks Head Light: View from a beach in West Southport.

All attractions found in the 2021 Maine Travel Planner.

Minsky’s Pizza ~ Kansas City, Missouri

On our final night in Kansas City we hit up a local pizza place that we had greatly enjoyed when we visited several years ago. This time around, we of course, got takeout and brought it back to our Airbnb. Lucky for us, they have several locations all over the Kansas City area, so when we ordered we only had a few miles to go to pick it up.

Minsky’s offers so many different pizza offerings, but we opted to go for a half cheese (for me) and half pepperoni (for Andrew.) We did also add extra mozzarella and cheddar to the pizza, which Andrew says is a must anytime we go from now on. We also ordered a side of Toasted Ravioli as that is one of Andrew’s favorite things that he misses from St. Louis, so we were happy to see it on the menu here in Kansas City as Well.

The only issue we had with the pizza was there was so much extra cheese, we had a hard time sorting out which side had the pepperoni on it! We figured it out while there, but when we had the leftovers later at home, we wound up having to swap after we accidentally chose each others’ slices! Whoops! Maybe next time we need to add some sausage to the meat half to make it easily to tell!

All in all, Minsky’s is an absolute must when visiting Kansas City. The pizza is huge and filling and should keep you for at least two meals each!

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Maine Bucket List ~ Greater Portland Region

Today we head to the region of Maine that holds its largest city: Portland.

Cape Elizabeth

  • Fort Williams Park: This large park holds several historic sites.
  • Portland Head Light: Explore this picturesque lighthouse located within Fort Williams Park.

Freeport

  • L.L. Bean: Explore the largest (and first ever) L.L. Bean at its flagship store.

Portland

  • First Parish Church: Visit this historic church that was built in the 1800’s for a congregation that existed since the 1600s!
  • Mackworth Island: Hike the perimeter of the island.
  • Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse: Walk out on the breakwater to view this lighthouse.

Pownal

  • Bradbury Mountain State Park: Hike trails along this mountain. There’s a loop trail designed for hikers of all abilities.

Scarborough

  • Scarborough Marsh: Explore this salt water marsh area.

South Portland

  • Bug Light Park: Enjoy this ocean walkway that leads to this little lighthouse.

All attractions found in the 2021 Maine Travel Planner.

Kansas City Zoo~ Kansas City, Missouri

We spent Thursday morning of our trip at the Kansas City Zoo. This was our second visit there over the past few year. We had looked forward to the fact that it would be much cooler in May vs our July visit years ago. This happened to be our coolest day of our trip, and had us both wishing we had thought to bring sweatshirts along with us!

The Kansas City zoo currently allows members in without a reserved ticket, but non-members must reserve tickets ahead of time. These tickets allot you a 15 minute window to enter the zoo. We picked ours as the first entry slot in the morning, but we did get them two weeks in advance as they sell out quick for non-members! I’m sure as pandemic restrictions lessen it will return to members and non-members can show up at anytime.

The Kansas City Zoo is huge and is split into different sections based on continent. We started off with some basic animals found at most zoos: polar bear, otters etc and then decided to head left into the Asia and Australia areas. While headed that way, we came across this wild pig that they had out greeting visitors at the entrance! Pretty cool to see him up close!

The Australia section is my favorite part of the Kansas City Zoo. You enter it through the Australian Bird Aviary and then walk through a series of exhibits located on the outer ring of the Kangaroo exhibit. This means that you are walking INSIDE the Kangaroo exhibit. A few years back when we visited one hopped right across the path in front of us. This year, we were not so fortunate, but they were all chilling within eyesight in the middle of the exhibit.

After exiting the Australia area through a fence, we explored some of the Asian birds, checked out the stingray exhibit, koalas, and penguin house, and then took the bridge over to Africa. This is a long bridge! We walked the whole way over, but if you want to get there a little quicker they do offer a tram to and from that area. The tram has three pickup/drop off locations. One near the main entrance, one right before the bridge to Africa near their new elephant exhibit, and one on the opposite side of the bridge in Africa.

Throughout the zoo on this visit they had arrows painted on the ground that made it easy to navigate through different areas without crossing paths with too many people (I suspect this is a pandemic precaution because I don’t recall that from our previous visit). I’d done well in following them up until Africa, at which point I didn’t see any, so we turned left to go clockwise as we had for the main zoo portion. About halfway through we were going against the arrows, so apparently we made a wrong choice (although so did the school group in front of us and several behind us, so I didn’t feel too terrible about it!)

The Africa section is actually split into two sections as well. The East Africa section is large and expansive and has a large walking path with exhibits on the outer ring and several viewpoints and overlooks looking inward toward a large savanna/plain exhibit that holds the zebras, gazelle, giraffe, rhinos, and other African birds. As you near the end of that loop, you can also take a suspension bridge further from the outer loop that leads you to a much smaller West Africa section. There you will find some unique animals to that area, including the wild pig we saw at the entrance earlier in the day. Cross the bridge again to finish out East Africa (the cheetahs were especially fun the day we visited) and then head back over the bridge once again to access the remainder of the zoo.

Currently during out visit they were just finishing out a final section of their new elephant habitat, but we could still view them further down the path away from the sections they were working on. They also are working on a brand new construction project which a little internet sleuthing proves it may be a coming aquarium? That meant following the elephants we just rounded out our visit with the Primate house and the sea lions. The primate house was also home to the very entertaining and active otters and the lovely capybara.

The Kansas City Zoo is an absolute must for anyone visiting the area, and well worth the price of admission. You can easily do it in half a day if you keep yourself moving relatively quickly like we did, or you can also easily spend the whole day (and they do let you bring in outside food!) if you really want to take time exploring each and every exhibit for a lengthier amount of time!

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Q39 ~ Kansas City, Missouri

Wednesday night of our trip brought us to what has proved to be our favorite BBQ place in Kansas City. Q39 is newer to Kansas City’s BBQ scene, but is not to be missed! It’s even advised that you make reservations if you are planning to dine in (or be prepared to wait a ridiculous amount of time for your dinner as the tables will all be full due to how amazing this place is!)

We of course opted to take the “socially distant” options and ordered our meal online to go. The process of ordering online was simple. I’m not sure if they have a variety of sauces to choose from in person like many BBQ places do, or if they just have one standard option for all. We were not given choices online, so figured we would be surprised by whatever came with it.

It was just a short drive from our Airbnb to pick up our meal. They had spots lined up for those doing carside to go, and a waitress came out quickly to get our name and then ran back out with our food quickly.

As with most BBQ restaurants, I ordered the 2 meat plate options with brisket and pulled pork. There was a little condiment cup of sauce on the side that I drizzled on top (ok….later I doused it as it was really good sauce!) I also got a side of fries with mine. Andrew ordered much the same, only got three meats so he opted for brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. He got two sides: fries and beans.

This meal included fewer slices of brisket than Jack Stack from earlier in the week, but these slices were much thicker. This pulled pork…..AMAZING! Probably the best pulled pork I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was so juicy and had incredible flavor. The fries were super crispy and had a nice seasoning to them as well.

Overall the verdict was Q39 far surpassed Jack Stack. Andrew said his entire meal was better at Q39, while I still vouch for the brisket at Jack Stack but hands down the pulled pork from Q39. We both had enough to enjoy a second leftover meal as well! Q39 definitely gives you the traditional BBQ experience although I would be curious to find out if they do offer more than one sauce. I liked the standard sauce a lot, but I do love me some BBQ sauce with a kick!

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Maine Bucket List ~ The Maine Beaches

Starting a new state in the Bucket List series today. Maine is split into 8 distinct travel regions, but two are smaller lists, so the bucket list series for Maine will be shared in seven installments. Today we head into a region filled with one of our favorite things: lighthouses!

Biddleford

  • Wood Island Lighthouse: Reached only by boat, but visible from a walking trail.

Kennebunkport

  • Goat Island Lighthouse: Reached only by boat or visible by small park.

Kittery

  • Whaleback Light: Visible from shore in several places.

Ogunquit

  • Marginal Way: Beautiful coastaline walk.

South Berwick

  • Hamilton House: Georgian style mansion built in the late 1700’s by a rich shipping merchant.

Wells

  • Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge: Enjoy time among the salt water marshes.

York

  • Boon Island Light: Accessed only by boat.
  • Cape Neddick Light: Another lighthouse accessed only by boat.
  • Mount Agamenticus: Access the views from this peak by driving to the top in this park.

All attractions found in the 2021 Maine Travel Planner

National WWI Museum and Memorial ~ Kansas City, Missouri

Our second full day in Kansas City brought us to a museum we had visited once before, The National WWI Museum and Memorial. This museum is a stunning site to see even if you just go to the park for some photos of the Memorial itself. Its Liberty Tower reaches high to the sky! The tower is usually open for tours to the top, but due to pandemic restrictions that was a no go this time around.

We bought our tickets in advance to avoid time in any lines. They had the outer doors labeled so that if you already had tickets, you would go in one door, whereas those who didn’t would enter a different door. You do not need your tickets immediately as you are directed to the right to a small auditorium space where you are encouraged to watch an introductory film. This film details how Europe and its various empires were growing and changing leading up to the “shot heard round the world.” They had benches spaced within proper social distancing guidelines so that each party could have their necessary space as we watched.

Following this you cross over a field of poppies to access the main galleries. Most people don’t always think to look down at the poppies, so be sure you do when you visit!

From there you are guided to your right to access the first gallery. This gallery focuses on the start of the war to right before America got involved. You learn about the two trios of power that worked to fight against each other and how weapons and warfare had changed since many of these countries and empires had previously fought. One volunteer was especially helpful in giving us a detailed account of how their uniforms changed over time: from the bright and colorful, to the dark, hidden colors to keep you safe in trench warfare.

This particular gallery has a unique set up where you can view “into” a trench in various locations to see what soldiers would have experienced. They have a running soundtrack of yells and guns and bombs going off to make it especially realistic.

Towards the end of this gallery they also had a section that featured both the improvements in flight and submarine/naval advancements that led to a very different type of war. This included several diagrams of just how many battles and forces were found in the air and on the sea, and also showcased a few artifacts related to those submarines.

From there you proceed forward to an overlook of a trench with several benches to sit on. This is where you will watch a second film; one that details how America came to be involved in the war. This film is a bit longer but it not to be missed as it really helps to introduce the progression of the war and incorporates the trench overlook into it.

From there you proceed into the second and final gallery. This one of course focuses more heavily on American involvement both at home and on the ground across the sea. It also has a special feature of a tank, how it would look to be “inside” the tank, and what a crater that was created by a tank would look like. This gallery of course leads up to the end of the war and the peace agreement that came with it.

The museum also features a small gift shop and has a café available as well. Currently the café only offered to-go options due to current pandemic restrictions, but when we had previously visited they had a nice area to sit and enjoy your meal.

Admission is $18 per adult. Children and senior prices are a bit lower, but the admission price is well worth it for all the information they have in these galleries. The volunteer staff is also always willing to share their insights further into exhibits which really enhances your time there as well.

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Vermont Bucket List ~ Southern Region

Last segment in the Vermont Bucket List series before we move on to Maine! This is a shorter list as we get down to the “narrower” part of the state.

Bennington

  • Bennington Battle Monument State Historic Site: Stone obelisk marks site of a Revolutionary War battle.
  • Woodford State Park: Highest elevated campground in the state located in the Green Mountains.

Brattleboro

  • Fort Dummer State Park: Site of first permanent European settlement in Vermont.

Jamaica

  • Jamaica State Park: Hike along the shores of the West River.
  • Pike Falls: Secluded waterfall and swimming area.

Manchester

  • Museum of American Fly Fishing: Museum dedicated to the sport of fly fishing and its history.
  • Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home: Summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln.
  • Museum of the Creative Process: Museum dedicated to artwork and its use in solving conflict.

Shaftsbury

  • Robert Frost Stone House Museum: Family home of famed poet, Robert Frost.

Townshend

  • Townshend State Park: Park located at the base of Bald Mountain in a wooded area.

Wilmington

  • Molly Stark State Park: Park named for the famous wife of a Revolutionary War general.

All attractions found in the Vermont 2020 Summer/Fall Vacation Guide.