VPR POP Stars share their “Hidden Gem” Destinations

Have you ever taken a trip, whether for business or pleasure, and come across a location you felt was a “hidden gem”? When our patient speakers are not busy sharing their stories at patient education events, they often have the opportunity to explore new and beautiful places. We asked them to share their favorite “hidden gems” across America, and after hearing their stories, we’re adding a few new locations to our own own “must-see” travel lists.

“Bozeman, Montana. I spent a good chunk of my time just walking up and down the streets. In the evening, everyone comes out and relaxes in their front yards. Everyone is so friendly when you are walking by. I find a quick wave and a smile will lead to and invite great conversation. Great wine and great conversation – doesn’t get any better than that! There is plenty to do, plus it is about an hour away from Yellowstone Park. Highly recommend it.”

-Kim D., patient speaker from Houston, Texas

“Lake Tahoe. This East Coast girl had never been out west. A recent event in Reno finally gave me the opportunity. After the lunch program finished, I decided to do some exploring. With every twist and turn as I drove through the Sierra Nevadas, I just kept gushing “Oh my god!” I had never seen such majestic beauty. Then I arrived at Lake Tahoe. Wow! I immediately decided that the plan to retire to the Carolinas would be changed to retiring in the Tahoe area.”

-Laurie J., patient speaker from Holden, Massachusetts


pictured above: Lake Tahoe, submitted by Laurie J.

“[My wife] Gigi and I were riding our motorcycles around the Great Mesa Loop in western Colorado when we saw a ‘Bikers Welcome’” sign. We did a quick stop and U-turn that brought us to the Oasis at 10,000 feet called the Mesa Lakes Lodge.

Owners Andrea and Andy were the most gracious hosts. We made a personal connection instantly when Gigi told them we have our Indian Trike due to my MS, and it was definitely God’s will. We even came back the next day and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and excellent company.

When the topic of MS came up, Andrea was in tears. The only other people she knew with MS had either passed away or were on the way. She was so relieved that there were other ‘normal’ people who had MS. I told her we are way far away from ‘normal’. She shared her symptoms and was relieved that she wasn’t the only one with her set of symptoms. We had the most amazing and heartfelt talks together as two couples living with MS. We laughed and we cried, and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

We can’t wait till our next visit. We will rent a cabin and enjoy the lake. Andy even gave us some fly fishing 101 lessons; he is quite the bank of local knowledge when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors.

The lodge is just east of Grand Junction, CO and has big cabins with kitchens, smaller overnight cabins, and a couple of hotel rooms. They have a great pond loaded with trout, boat rentals, and in the winter they even do Snowmobile tours.

Stop by and say hello. Have a bite to eat, a cold one, and catch the band. You won’t be disappointed. Tell Andy and Andrea that John and Gigi say hello.”

-John G., patient speaker from Land o’ Lakes, Florida

“Historical beauty makes the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas a hidden gem. From the southern charm to the huge elevator that was built big enough to accommodate a horse, this place was a step above the usual full service accommodations.

The service was amazing. They take care of you from the moment you pull up. The valet takes the car and the concierge takes your bag and offers you bottled water at the front door. Check in was a breeze, as they had my keys already and walked me to my beautiful decorated room.

The entire stay was well worth missing out on the frequent traveler miles!”

-Sarah C., patient speaker from Minneapolis, Minnesota

capitol hotel.png

Pictured above: the Capital Hotel in Little Rock. Photo submitted by Sarah C.

“I have to say, getting wrong turn info in Gettysburg from the GPS was one of the best adventures I have ever been on. I was only going to a gift shop to pick up a souvenir, but the GPS took me the long way around. Every turn it told me to take was historical. As excited as I was to discover more and more of our history, there was also an overwhelming sadness. All I could think was “Wow… the dead outnumber the living in this town”. It seemed that headstones were everywhere, as far as the eye can see. What an experience. For me, once in a lifetime.

“I must say, it was history all around me but it was a powerful sadness too…all those lives lost and the thousands of tombstones everywhere around the town to prove it.”

-Steve K., patient speaker from Riverside, California



Pictured above: Cemetery in Gettysburg. Photo submitted by Steve K.

“…all the interesting places in PA. My family and I went on a vacation there a few years ago that turned into a ‘food’ vacation. From the Amish towns to Philadelphia, we ate VERY well those few days. The cheese steak was my favorite.”

-Chad C., patient speaker from Vancouver, Washington

“I fell in love with Salt Lake City: crisp, clean air, mountains, the friendliness of the people there, and the Little America Hotel was splendid.”

-Stephanie B., patient speaker from Arcanum, Ohio

Pictured above: garden and aerial view of mountains in Salt Lake City. Photos submitted by Stephanie B.

“We were doing an event in Florida and extended our trip a few days so we could go to Sanibel Island, Florida. It is one of the most famous beaches for sea shells. It is the best beach for sea shells on this continent, and known as one of the best in the world. We had a huge pile of sea shells in about 15 minutes that ranged in size to teeny tiny to larger than my hand. The island has many beaches, lighthouses, etc. and the water was beautiful and clear. One of my favorite places ever!”

-Leslie Walker, Salt Lake City, Utah

What is a travel destination you feel is a “hidden gem”? Share your story in the comments section!


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