Where Have You Been All My Life, Disney Springs?

What to see at Disney Springs include a hot air balloon for tethered rides.What to See at Disney Springs

I had no idea what to expect when I climbed the stairs to the pedestrian walkway leading to the entrance to Disney Springs.

And I’m glad I didn’t. Continue reading

3 Perfect Places to Travel in 2017

Ask and ye shall receive.

farms make perfect places to travel to see sunflower in field at dusk

Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

I posted my request for submissions for the best places to travel in 2017 a couple of weeks ago, and held my breath.

I expected some smart alecky proposals, but, instead, was intrigued by the compelling suggestions that I received.

One entry stood out, standing taller than the other sunflowers in the patch. Continue reading

Help! I Need Travel Ideas for the New Year

The Open Suitcase needs travel ideas for the new year. Where’d you go in 2016? What did you love? Or hate? Leave your suggestions for places to visit, foods to eat, and things to do, or not do, in the comments section for a chance to win some travel inspiration.

quebec-city-street-with-orange-balloons

The calendar flips in a few days and I need travel ideas for the new year. It’s how I survive winter.

I’m inviting you to play a round of show and tell. Continue reading

Visiting Grand Rapids: Beer, Art, Beer, Repeat

Tell people you’re visiting Grand Rapids and you’re likely to get a confused look. This city of 200,000, located in Western Michigan, is still an under the radar travel destination, but it won’t be for long. It’s easy to navigate, features a premier art destination, and has a lively craft beer scene. It’s easy to sample during a quick weekend getaway, but, once you get a taste, you’ll want to return for a second helping.

visiting-grand-rapids-frederik-meijier-gardens

The dominant sculpture in the garden is American Horse by Nina Akamu. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

Continue reading

What’s Shutter Speed Got to Do With It? How to Take Better Photos.

Want to take better photos? The key is practice, practice, practice. And, if you get the chance to practice in the company of a pro, do it! Taking a photo tour with a legit photographer gives you the chance to ask all kinds of dumb questions and to correct one or two things that will immediately improve your shots.

take-better-photos-walking-tour

Wandering around the Donaldson Farm, I kept waiting for the big tractors to talk to me as if I was in a Disney cartoon. Photo: The Open Suitcase LLC

Getting the chance to bum around with a professional photographer with an all access pass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And you don’t have to have tons of equipment or years of experience to have a great time and to learn to take better photos. I self-identify as a beginner-intermediate when it comes to using my DSLR camera, meaning I still have to think really, really hard about whether the aperture needs to be big or small to get a crisply focused background. Continue reading