Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Category: Evening Tourist (Page 1 of 2)

View of lake Tahoe from Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Hiking Your Way to a Spectacular View of Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for a great view of Lake Tahoe, hiking in Van Sickle Bi-State Park might just be for you. What’s a bi-state park, you ask? It’s a park that crosses state borders – between California and Nevada, though Nevada’s park service does most of the management. It’s an easy hike in South Lake Tahoe that takes you partway up the mountain for a perfect view of the lake.

I hit the business trip jackpot when I landed a customer along the shores of Lake Tahoe, and I was determined to see as much of the surrounding scenery as possible. Because of the fact that I have to work during the day, I’m limited to evenings which makes day-long excursions off-limits. (Someday I’ll write about the exquisite torture that business trips like this bring to a travel junkie like me.) The hike in Van Sickle was perfect for me because it was both beautiful and relatively quick.

The best view of Lake Tahoe at Van Sickle Bi-State Park

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Redwood trees in Muir Woods National Monument

Walking Among Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument

I’ve been awed by nature in many different places around the world, but walking among the redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument was the first time I’ve ever felt my jaw drop at the sight of a living entity. Ever since I first learned about redwood trees in school, I’ve been dreaming of seeing them in person, so when I got sent to Sacramento for work, I made the couple-hour drive to the coast to finally lay eyes on them. Muir Woods, located just north of San Francisco, is one of the more easily accessible places to view these giant trees.

Entrance to Muir Woods National Monument

For those like me who never really knew the difference between redwood trees and sequoias, redwoods are found along the California coast whereas sequoias grow further inland. Redwoods are narrower and taller (they’re the tallest living things in the world!), while sequoias max out at slightly shorter heights, but have wider trunks. Though redwood trees can live to be very old – 2000 years isn’t bad for a lifespan – the oldest sequoias make them seem like young ‘uns as they can live up to 3200 years. Think about how much the world has changed in 3200 years, and yet there could be trees still standing in the same place for all of those centuries. Nature is incredible.

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Albany dining guide

Albany, New York Dining Guide

One of my favorite things about traveling for work is getting to try new restaurants in the areas I visit. After eight weeks in Albany, New York, I’ve compiled my list of my nine favorite places to eat. Read on for my Albany dining guide.

C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station

Food at the Albany Pump Station - Albany Dining Guide

This brewery is housed in an old water pumping facility that was originally used to pump water from the Hudson river to supply the city. Nowadays instead of water tanks, it holds vats of beer, although the still-operational crane from its previous life still hangs above the dining room as a reminder of the past.

I was determined to order a salad, but a delicious BBQ pork entree caught my eye on the menu. The dish is layered with scalloped cheesy potatoes on the bottom and topped with pulled pork, melted white cheddar, and delicious BBQ sauce. Health-wise, it’s about as far away from a salad as you can get, but it was well-worth it.

Public House 42

I loved the atmosphere at this Irish pub. You had to climb down a few stairs to get into the half-street level bar felt a little like entering a secret hideout. There was a decent sized bar and a handful of tables, so between that and the low ceilings and dim lighting, it felt very intimate.

Shepherd's pie at Public House 42 - Albany dining guide

Their menu was pretty standard Irish pub food, so I went with a shepherd’s pie since that’s my perfect collection of foods all thrown together in a dish that warms your heart. I was a little disappointed by my first bite, but I think I just happened to get a dry part because the rest of the dish was amazing. When the mountain of food was set down in front of me, I figured I’d maybe get through half of it and take the rest home for leftovers the next day. I was wrong; I inhaled all but a few bites because I just couldn’t stop eating it. The veggies were crisp, the mashed potatoes were delicious, and the cheese baked on top had a perfect little bit of crunch to it.

Dinosaur BBQ

Pulled pork at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY - Albany Dining Guide

You’ll have to head out of Albany a bit to visit this spot, but Troy is only a few minutes up the road and Dinosaur BBQ is well worth the short drive. It’s a New York chain, and I’ve been to several of their locations, including the original in Syracuse. Whenever I’m in New York state for work, I try to have dinner at one of these restaurants if I can find one nearby. All of the locations I’ve been to feature eclectic décor, and the  Troy location has the added benefit of an outdoor patio overlooking the Hudson River.

BBQ sauce at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY - Albany Dining Guide

There are two different sauces on the table for you to dress your own meat – a regular and a spicy. I’m partial to pulled pork when I get BBQ, but I’ve been told by co-workers that their chicken is phenomenal as well. I always get their BBQ fried rice as a side because it’s both delicious and unique, and their macaroni and cheese and baked beans are great as well.

Pulled pork at Dinosaur BBQ - Albany Dining Guide

The Recovery Sports Grill

This small chain of sports bars has a few locations around the area, and it’s a great location to watch a game if you’re looking for good food to accompany it. The original location in Albany is fittingly right across from the medical center, and they’ve expanded to other locations in the area.

Thai chicken salad at the Recovery Room - Albany Dining Guide

I fell hard for their Thai peanut salad – I’m a picky eater, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I’ve ordered a salad exactly as it appeared on the menu without asking for them to keep certain items off of it. it’s unique because it doesn’t come with dressing, substituting a delicious peanut sauce that is perfect for dipping the grilled chicken in. The cold noodles seemed like an odd choice at first, but they ended up being my favorite part of the salad.

Recovery Room in Albany, New York

Parish Public House

Ham po'boy from the Paris Public House - Albany Dining Guide

I inadvertently visited this bar/restaurant on Mardi Gras – I should’ve seen this coming since the menu is Cajun themed – and was pleased to find the place draped in beads and full of people celebrating. There was a live band playing for the first couple of minutes I was there, but they went on break when they finished that song. Unfortunately, the large crowd meant that most of the menu items I was interested in were gone, so I ended up with a ham po’ boy sandwich to go. I was a little disappointed because I’m used to po’ boys being served hot, so when I got back to the hotel room and found out that it was cold, I wasn’t thrill. The ham was fantastic though, and the bread was top notch.

Macaroni and cheese at the Paris Public House - Albany Dining Guide

I naturally had to go back again to try what I really wanted, and was thoroughly delighted by their crawfish and tasso ham mac and cheese (I ordered it with just ham). It was incredible. It’s some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

The Olde English Pub

English phone booth at the Olde English Pub in Albany, New York

This English pub is adorable. It really looked like a little cottage, and the interior was well-themed. There’s a cute little garden in the front that  features a classic red English photo booth. The first level of the restaurant has a perfect neighborhood-style bar that was lined with patrons. I happened to stumble across trivia night, so while I didn’t play, I also enjoyed listening to the questions being read off.

Fish 'n chips at the Olde English Pub - Albany dining guide

I chose to sit upstairs where it was a bit quieter and had some fantastic fish and chips. I’m not generally a fan of fish, but theirs looked good enough that I decided to try it and I was not disappointed. The batter was perfectly crispy, and I left completely stuffed.

Wellington’s

Wellington’s caught my eye as I was walking back to my car from another restaurant, so I made a point to visit it later in the week. I was mostly drawn to the sleek décor seen through the large windows, so I checked out their menu online and decided to give it a try. I got a fantastic seat in an armchair by the window, and I even got a view of the capitol building.

I started off with their Saratoga kettle chips since they were only 99 cents. I was glad they were so cheap, because I didn’t like whatever seasoning they used and only ate a few of them. The restaurant was redeemed by the next two courses though.

Though their menu has numerous fine dining options, I opted for a simple caesar salad with grilled chicken added. I really liked it despite the fact that I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side so it had a little more on it than I usually use. The lettuce was chopped into the perfect size to eat it gracefully – a vastly underrated quality in salads if you ask me – and there were large croutons that offered a delicious crunch. The chicken on top was what blew me away though. Most of the time when you add chicken to a salad, you get a sad, bland little piece of luke warm meat. This was not the case at Wellington’s. The chicken I got was so good that I’d gladly order it for an entrée if that was an option. It was steaming hot and coated in a delicious seasoning that gave it just a little bit of a spicy kick.

I almost never order dessert when I’m eating out, but there was a “pumpkin pie” option that was so different that I couldn’t pass it up. It came with two cinnamon waffle triangles with pumpkin gelato and cinnamon whipped crème all stacked together. It was a little melted by the time it was brought to me, but it still tasted fantastic. I love finding unique things like that, and I especially love pumpkin pie.

City Beer Hall

City Beer Hall in Albany, New York

This bar and restaurant was recommended by a local. It has a cool, biergarten-like atmosphere with large tables and benches on the first floor. There’s a large bar area with tons of beers on draft and in bottles and cans. If you’re feeling adventurous, they even have a mechanical bull to try.

Food at City Beer Hall - Albany Dining Guide

I had an incredible pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries. I’m somewhat picky about pulled pork, and this was perfectly moist and not too fatty. The fries were also my favorite style of battered crispiness.

Capitol Melts

I found myself in Albany on National Grilled Cheese Day, so what better way to celebrate than by having lunch at Capitol Melts, a grilled cheese place just down the hill from the capitol building? I had an incredible mac & cheese melt with added bacon. The mac & cheese was good enough that you could just eat that – you can, in fact, just order it as a side. It was the perfect way to celebrate Grilled Cheese Day.

Grilled macaroni and cheese at Capitol Melts - Albany dining guide

Capitol Melts is a great place to grab a quick lunch during the week. It’s only open until 2 pm on weekdays, so you’ll have to time your visit for the workweek. It’s a fast counter-service style place, so you’ll be able to grab your food and get back to work quickly if you’re in the area.

Have you visited any of these restaurants? Did I miss any favorites that I should hit if I go back again? Let me know in the comments.

Read more posts about my work travels here:

Enjoy the Albany dining guide? Don’t forget to pin it for later.

From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat.

From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat. From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat.
Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

An Evening in San Antonio

After spending a week in the much smaller border town of Laredo, I got to have one whirlwind night in San Antonio. It was exactly the kind of Evening Tourist adventure that I specialize in. We made the drive up after work on a Thursday inght so we could catch a direct flight home first thing in the morning. We didn’t leave Laredo until almost six, so by the time we got to San Antonio, it was getting close to nine.  Even with our late arrival, I still got to have a great evening in town. Read more about the fun things you can do in San Antonio after work.

Dinner time

After checking into the hotel, our first stop was a nearby Mexican restaurant/bakery that I had read about. After three days of authentic Mexican food in Laredo, Mi Tierra felt like a return to the cheesy (both atmosphere and food) Tex-Mex I’d grown up with. The décor was close to being over the top, but things like that amuse me so I kind of loved it.

Mi Tierra restaurant in San Antonio, Texas

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Sunset at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA - The fun side of business travel

The Fun Side of Business Travel

I’ve spent the last few years traveling for work almost every week. I’m notorious amongst my coworkers for spending my evenings out exploring town and finding interesting things to do after work. The chance to travel the country on my company’s dime is too good to waste watching tv in the hotel, so I try to take advantage of this opportunity to see and do as much as I can. Along with some other travel bloggers, here are some of my favorite fun things to do on business trips in the United States.

Waldameer Water World – Erie, PA

Waldameer Park in Erie, Pennsylvania

One of my most surprisingly fun buisness trips was to Erie, Pennsylvania. I found Waldameer, a little amusement park near the lake, and was thrilled to discover that it was pay-per-ride. That meant that instead of having to buy a full admission ticket to ride a couple of roller coasters, I could buy just enough credits to ride what I wanted. Their biggest ride is a coaster called the Ravine Flyer II. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was absolutely blown away. I ended up going back to buy more credits just so I could ride it again. Afterward, I looked up the ride, and it turns out that it’s one of the highest rated wooden roller coasters in the country. It deserves every accolade. I finished the evening at nearby Presque Isle State Park, watching the sunset over Lake Erie from one of the many beaches.

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Minelot Falls in Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park

If you’re a fan of waterfalls, Thacher State Park might be a perfect escape in the New York capital region. Located about half an hour west of Albany, it’s a great spot to visit if you find yourself in the area. It’s an easy drive, and at only $6/vehicle for a day pass, it’s an affordable place to explore.

I visited in the evening after work, so I didn’t have time to explore the whole park. Even though I only had a couple of hours before dark, playing in nature beats sitting in a hotel room watching bad tv reruns any day. Based on recommendations from some of the locals I was working with, I focused on the Indian Ladder trail. It’s a relatively easy hike that can be completed in less than an hour if you don’t spend too much time enjoying the scenery. From end to end, the trail is about half a mile.

Minelot Falls in Thacher State Park

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View of the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

5 Things that Surprised Me in Las Vegas

Las Vegas never really seemed like my kind of place, but I’ve always been curious about it because it also kind of seems like somewhere everyone should try to see at least once in their lives. Due to a last-minute booking for a recent work trip, I ended up with a six-hour layover there, and since LAS is right next to the Strip (I’m not joking – it’s basically across the street from the Luxor and Mandalay Bay.), I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of the town. Plus, I got to check off Nevada (hey, #45) on my list of states that I’ve visited. Here are five things that I learned in my four hours in Las Vegas.

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Niagara Falls State Park

After spending the weekend on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls, I decided to pay a visit to Niagara Falls State Park, on the New York side. Not only does it offer the closest overlooks of the falls, but it’s the oldest state park in the country. Even better: it’s open 24/7, so you can experience the majesty of the falls any time of day.
American Falls lit up at night viewed from Niagara Falls State Park in New York

I went back at night a few weeks later to see the lights.

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The Evening Tourist – The Pez Factory

I love crazy evening adventures. Especially ridiculous ones that are a little cheesy. They’re exactly the kind of thing needed to break up the monotony of hotel living and keep you sane on the road. And also I’m pretty much just an overgrown child.

 

While on a business trip to southern Connecticut, I discovered that we were only a few minutes down the road from the Pez factory in Orange, CT. Not only does the factory have a visitor center and museum, but it was also open until 6 pm, giving us exactly one hour between when we would finish working and when it would close. (Hours vary seasonally, and winter closings are a bit earlier.)
Giant Pez candies at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT

I’d like to take these giant candies home, please.

I had convinced a co-worker to go with me, so at exactly 5:00 we shut our laptops down and headed to the car. It was a quick ride down the interstate and we found the factory easily. As part of your admission, you also get a store credit (it’s a great way to encourage you to spend even more money in the shop, and sadly worked quite well on both of us).

 

We also got bingo cards that had a bunch of specific Pez dispensers on it and to mark off each square, you had to locate that dispenser and write the year it was manufactured. You only needed to get a bingo to earn a free Pez dispenser, but we were determined to fill out our entire cards. Thanks to some excellent teamwork, we were able to find all but two of them. The ladies behind the counter spun the Wheel of Pez (A very catchy name I made up myself) and I earned a polar bear one that I regifted to my sister when I got home.
Giant Pez dispenser at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT

That’s one tall Pez dispenser.

You’re greeted at the door by an enormous Pez dispenser that opens and closes with a motor. It would’ve been a lot easier to pose with it if I wasn’t so darn short.

 

The museum isn’t huge, but it was a fun way to kill a couple hours if you’re in the area. There is some history about the candy and dispensers along the wall. I had no idea that Pez started out as peppermints from Vienna. It does explain the name though, as pfefferminz is the German word for peppermint.

 

The main display is cases upon cases of old Pez dispensers. Looking at the oldest ones was interesting because some of them were pretty creepy.
Vintage Tinkerbell Pez dispensers at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT

Tink is looking a little scary there.

I was also pretty jealous of a set of Canada-exclusive NHL ones that I would’ve loved to have had a chance to buy.
Zamboni Pez dispensers at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT

I would totally shell out for a Red Wings one.

I quite liked these Pez dispenser guns and totally would’ve purchased one if they’d had them in the store.
Vintage Pez dispenser guns at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut

 

This display showing how different colors are molded together to make the figures on top was interesting too.
Anna from Frozen Pez dispenser at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut

 

You could peek into the factory through some windows at the back, but there wasn’t much to see. The area closest to the viewing spot had a couple workers mixing different shaped dispensers together for individual wrapping, followed by grouping into a variety pack.

Pez dispensers being packaged at the Pez factory in Orange, CT

 

My favorite part might’ve been the Pez dispenser head photo op. You can basically pose for a picture with your face on top of a Pez dispenser stick so it looks like you’re about to eject some little candy tablets. There were a variety of hats you could use as props, but I went with just plain, old me.
Pez dispenser photo op at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut

I guess I’m famous now that my head is on a Pez dispenser.

Nearby, there was an opportunity to make your own Pez dispenser. There were a bunch of different shaped bases that kids (or fun adults) could color to make their own designs. These cost money, but weren’t any more expensive than the other items in the store. I didn’t make one for myself because I’m pretty lacking in the creativity and drawing department, but in hindsight, I kind of wish I had given it a shot.
Detroit Tigers Pez dispensers displayed at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT

After the obligatory pass through the Pez store (We had to spend the free credits that came with our tickets, after all), we headed out, with five whole minutes to spare before closing time. Not bad for an after-work adventure.

The Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut offers fun for families and adults.The Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut offers fun for families and adults.

A Weekend in Niagara Falls

While I was working in the Buffalo area, I had to stay out there for a weekend. Since it’s so close to Niagara Falls, and Niagara Falls is only a few hours from home, I invited my boyfriend to join me on a semi-work-funded mini-vacation. Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There’s just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season.

Wandering Buffalo

He had to drive in from Detroit after working a full day, so I had Friday evening to kill on my own. I decided to head to downtown Buffalo to find some dinner, but quickly realized that that wasn’t in the cards because the Sabres had a home game that night. I wandered around a little looking for somewhere to pull over so I could look up some other areas on my phone and ended up stumbling across an outdoor hockey rink with a bar and restaurant attached. That was good enough for me, so I grabbed a seat at the bar and watched some kids play through the glass. It was such a cool location right along the river and as a life-long hockey addict, I loved hearing the sounds of pucks and skates echoing while I had my dinner.

Outdoor hockey rink in Buffalo, New York

When I was done eating, I decided that it was time to head up to Niagara Falls to check into the hotel. I had booked the Holiday Inn on the Canadian side because it’s super cheap (at least during the winter), only a couple blocks from the falls, and I generally have good experiences at IHG properties. I had looked and looked to try to find a reasonably priced room with a view of the falls, but I ended up choosing price over such niceties and was generally pleased. I also appreciated the free parking right on site.

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