2014 Gift Guide: For your road trip-loving boyfriend

For your road trip loving boyfriend

For your flannel-wearing, road trip-loving boyfriend who is always up for a spontaneous adventure and knows exactly which gas station stocks the good kind of gummy bears.


Because spontaneous adventures shouldn’t be spent readjusting his glasses every 10 seconds.

Nerdwax, one tube for $10 Continue reading

2014 Gift Guide: For the armchair traveler in your family

For the armchair traveler in your family

Next up on our holiday gift guide is the “armchair” traveler in your family. While this person may not actually take a lot of trips themselves, they love learning about new places and exploring the world while staying a little bit closer to home.

Wildsam Field Guides

Even if you’re not planning a trip, these amazing pocket-sized field guides offer a unique look at some of the country’s most interesting cities through lists, illustrations and personal essays.

Wildsam Field Guides, $17.95 Continue reading

2014 Gift Guide: For your wanderlust-stricken best friend

For your wanderlust-stricken best friend

As part of Olio in Iowa’s inaugural holiday gift guide, I’ll be sharing a variety of seasonal selections for all the different types of travelers in your life.

Up first is your wanderlust-stricken best friend, the one who is always planning her next vacation or scouring travel websites to the serendipitous $150 ticket to Iceland.

Everlane weekender bag

Because you never know when you’ll have to pack for your next adventure at a moment’s notice and looking less than fabulous is never an option.

Everlane’s twill weekender bag, $95 Continue reading

Introducing Olio in Iowa’s 2014 Gift Guide

Olio in Iowa 2014 Gift Guide

I’m going to let you in on a little holiday secret: I’m a major sucker for gift guides. Every December I get ridiculously excited for my favorite blogs and brands to share their seasonal selections. And while most of them are purely aspirational (because seriously, who is gifting $450 slippers this Christmas!?), there’s something I inexplicably love about a well-curated list of gifts.

So I decided it was about time I got in on the holiday action. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing selections of gifts for every type of traveler (or wanderlust-stricken friend) in your life, at price points that also will make your wallet jolly.

Stay tuned this week for Olio in Iowa’s 2014 Gift Guide! 

Sips: Millstream Brewing Company

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

After a morning of wandering around the Amana Colonies, we headed up the street to Millstream Brewing Company for a beer and some early afternoon snacks. Opened in 1985, Millstream is Iowa’s oldest microbrewery and the first to operate in Amana since 1884.

I love dark beers so I opted to try the raspberry latte stout, which was amazing and just the right balance of light raspberry and coffee flavors. It was an unbelievable 47 degrees out (in early December!) so we opted to take our beer and cheese curds outside to Millstream’s amazing patio. I can only imagine how great this spot is on a warm, summer night.

Millstream Brewing Company, 835 48th Avenue in Amana, Iowa

Exploring the Tannenbaum Forest

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

One of the best parts of exploring the Amana Colonies during the holiday season was our visit to the Tannenbaum Forest. Located inside the Festhalle Barn across from the Amana Visitors’ Bureau, it’s pretty hard not to feel jolly when you step inside the forest lit with hundreds of warmly growing Christmas lights.

With more than 40 live evergreen tress decorated by local businesses ranging from bakeries to the Boy Scouts, there’s plenty to see in the Tannenbaum Forest.  Continue reading

Visiting the Amana Colonies

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

For all of the Iowa exploration I’ve done, until this weekend I still hadn’t found my way to the Amana Colonies. While there are technically seven villages that make up Amana, we stuck to exploring Main Amana and taking in the Prelude to Christmas festivities for this trip.

Albeit being the most touristy of the villages, Amana is especially fun to explore this time of year. We explored the Tannenbaum Forest, ducked in and out of shops (fair warning: you’ll likely run into a hefty amount of tchotchkes here) and learned a bit more about Iowa’s long-standing communal society.

A brief history of Amana

According to the Amana Heritage Society‘s website, the “Amana religion has its roots in the movement of Pietism and Mysticism which flourished in Germany in the early 1700s.” In 1842, members from one sect of the Amana religion, known as the Community of True Inspiration, sailed for America and first settled on land near what is now Buffalo, New York. Continue reading

The Week: December 5, 2014

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

To be totally candid, this week has pretty much kicked my ass. It’s felt exhausting and emotionally taxing and cold in so many ways that I honestly just want to spend the weekend in my bed. And I just might.

In the meantime, here are my favorite bits of Internet from the last week:

Well, you can buy Girl Scout cookies online now so there goes my paycheck.

This drone video of Chernobyl is unreal.

I’m seriously tempted by this “everything bagel” pasta.

What the guy next to you at the coffee shop is furiously typing. Continue reading

#throwbackThursday: Fort Cody

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Today I’ve got another #throwbackThursday post to share from the San Francisco road trip I took a few years back. On our first day in the car (where we decided it was a good idea to drive all the way across Nebraska—not something I’d recommend), we stopped in North Platte for dinner.

Just off the I-80 exit in North Platte, you’ll find Fort Cody Trading Post, an eclectic mixture of gift shop, museum and weird roadside attraction. Continue reading