TWT’s 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

Photo by Roadsidepictures

Photo by Roadsidepictures

The popular travel blog TripBase has started a tag-you’re-it game across the travel blogosphere.

The goal is to collect an amazing list of across-the-globe travel secrets from as many travel bloggers as humanly possible.  Someday soon, this list will be a Creative Commons roundup that I’ll be sure to share with you!

For now, I’ve been tagged by two of my favorite travel bloggers, Sheila of GoVisitHawaii and Isabelle of Isabelle’s Travel Guide to contribute my own best kept travel secrets.

So, here we go:

1.  Attend a charity fundraiser, sign up for the travel raffle, and be creative.

For years we’ve attended the summer food-and-wine fundraiser for a wonderful organization, the Los Angeles Free Clinic.  (We think it’s a great idea to provide free – or at least affordable – health care to the working poor.)  Their summer fundraiser, a literal extravaganza of food and wine excess, generally costs about $150 for both of us.

One year, I saw that the big raffle prize was a trip to Paris (Air France flights and a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel George V) and decided to enter us into the big prize raffle for an additional $100, paying by credit card via fax.

I took a few extra minutes to doodle all over said fax page, scribbling cartoon renderings of Parisian monuments on every bit of white space.  I also wrote “Oooh la la!” and “Oui, sil vous plait!” and, well, there was more, but you get it — I’m a dork.  My reasoning was this:  Whomever was on the other side of that fax machine was sitting in a busy, humorless office piled high with pieces of white paper.  And who doesn’t love a little funny in their day?

Flash forward several weeks, and we were declared the winners!  For $250, we had just nabbed that warm feeling you get from doing good, a fabulous horde of treats and the means to a kick-ass vacation (that I’ll be writing more about very soon).

Surely there’s an organization in your town that you admire?  Do a little web research, make a call, see what events are out there.  Many organizations know their raffle prizes ahead of time and will happily tell you, to stoke your interest.

Who knows how far this could take you?


2. There lies a sea of flowers in northwest Oregon.

We’re big fans of gardens, and found one of our favorites in sleepy little Canby, Oregon, 8 miles from Portland. From August 1st -September  30th each year, the 40-acre flower farm at Swan Island Dahlias explodes with pom poms, dinner plates, collarettes and more.  Bring along a picnic, stroll the rows hand in hand, even order tubers for your own perfect dahlia garden.

Dahlias will grow just about anywhere you find 8 hours of daily sunlight in summer, but if your area freezes in the winter, you have to dig up the tubers and replant them in spring.  Sound like too much work?  All the better reason to come here and revel, labor-free, in a seriously romantic profusion of blooms.



3. On a hilltop wine ranch in Central California, it’s so quiet you can hear electricity in the wires.

Long for a private country road, wind in the oaks and as much pinot noir as you can drink?   Meet Asuncion Ridge, a three-suite vineyard/inn a half-mile above Highway 101 near Paso Robles wine country. We’ve stayed here three times (a travel phenomenon for us), drawn back by the freely wandering cows, penned-in longhorns, grassy hills for tramping and near-ridiculous views of the Atascadero Valley.

We also love having a chance to slow down, chat and sip wine with owner Philip Krumal. A passionate chef who makes gorgeous breakfasts and is happy to let you nab recipes from his cookbook library, he’s recently become a professional vintner with his own label, also called Asuncion Ridge. His pinots could make you weep, in a good way.


I now in turn tag 5 other travel blogs to share their own top 3 best kept travel secrets.

The Vacation Gals: Jennifer, Beth & Kara are travel writers & moms who recommend trips, gear and more

Uncornered Market: Audrey & Dan wander with great purpose, currently reporting from South America

The Road Forks: Patrick and Akila cook and eat their way around the world

501 Places: Andy Jarosz has traveled to over 70 countries, and wants to share them all with you

JtheTravelAuthority: Jeanine Barone is one of the best travel writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read


  1. Love these ideas!

    My parents have planted Dahlias in Western NC for many, many years. What a labor of love, because, as you mentioned they have to dig them up every Fall and replant in the Spring.

  2. Really lovely post, thanks for sharing your secrets!

  3. Sheila, if your parents are so committed to dahlias, tell them about the Swan Island catalogue. It’s floral porn, plain and simple.

    Katie, thank YOU for dreaming up such a great game of bloggers’ tag — the full list is bound to be a travel treasure.

  4. I love the charity fundraiser idea! Two for the price of one, really.

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