Meet Melissa from Tropic Winds RV Resort in Harlingen, Texas


  • Name: Melissa Cortez
  • In position since: September 2008
  • Title: Resort Manager.
  • Work Location:  Tropic Winds RV Resort
  • Previous parks you’ve worked at (if applicable) Southern Comfort & Country Sunshine RV Resort
  • Favorite hobbies or sport(s): Spending time with family and friends

1. What brought you to Tropic Winds RV Resort?

Before going into the RV industry, for 16 years I worked for a power line construction company as a Regional Business Administration Manager. The regional office closed and gave me the opportunity to change industries. Before becoming the resort manager at Tropic Winds in 2013, I was the resort manager for several years at two other Encore resorts in South Texas – Southern Comfort and Country Sunshine.

2. What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a Park Manager?

There are so many rewarding aspects. First of all, I have a job that allows me the opportunity to be part of a community family. I have the ability to create memories and play a critical role in our customer’s experience. Secondly, I have a phenomenal team. There are not enough words to describe how rewarding it is to have such an awesome group of people to work with.

3. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a Park Manager? How do you overcome these challenges?

The most challenging aspect would have to be time. As a manager, you are pulled in every direction from every aspect of the operation, which makes it difficult to be everywhere for everyone. I’ve learned that you have to do your best to ensure you are producing productive quality time, regardless of how you are spending your time. Prioritizing tasks, time management, and doing your best to stay on task is key to overcome this challenge.

4. How do you help make guests vacations at Tropic Winds RV Resort special?

Whether it’s guest’s first time or they return year after year, we will make sure they feel like family. Plus, it is important for me that every guest understands that they have a direct communication line to me. They can choose any communication method of their choice. It is our mission to ensure all of our guests get the best experience and we are ready to go above and beyond the call to leave our mark.

5. Can you share something you’ve learned from your guests?

Tropic Winds RV Resort is an aged qualified community and I’ve learned from our residents that age is just a number. You are as young as you want to be. Our residents love life, are extremely active and are full of energy. They don’t let age stop them.

6. What’s special about Tropic Winds?

Tropic Winds RV Resort is special because it is one of the newest resorts in South Texas; built in 1997. Therefore this property has some of the largest RV sites and paved streets that you will find in South Texas. Plus, the moment you arrive you are greeted like family into our beautiful resort.

7. Can you use 3 words to describe your RV park to someone who is considering visiting
Friendly, Clean, Fun


8. What area attractions or entertainment do you recommend guests experience while at Tropic Winds RV Resort?

In South Texas there are attractions for many interests. We have the ocean shores of South Padre Island within 45 minutes. Due to the large range of birds that migrate to South Texas, one of the largest birding festivals in the country is held here in Harlingen. There is plenty of history so you may want to visit the Iwo Jima memorial, the amazing museums or a wildlife refuge. South Texas has everything you can possibly imagine within a short distance.

9. What accomplishment at Tropic Winds RV Resort are you most proud of? Why?

I’m most proud of the property being awarded Trip Advisor’s 2016 Certificate of Excellence Award. This award is based on the customer experience and confirms that our team is focused on the mission, vision and values to provide the best customer experience.

10. What does a typical day at Tropic Winds RV Resort look like?

A typical day at Tropic Winds starts off with the best sunrises you’ve ever seen. While you stroll through the resort enjoying the morning breeze, you’ll see that everyone is acknowledged with a friendly smile or wave hello. You will see guests gathered outside their rig/home enjoying their morning coffee. You will hear the paddle hitting the ball during the morning sessions of pickleball or you may hear the excitement coming from the RC track. The buildings are filled with guests enjoying each others company while they participate in daily activities. If you start getting hungry, swing by Windy Café and I’m sure you’ll see something you like or get a sample. After your afternoon nap, come join the fun in the pool and then you are off to the nearest happy hour. The evenings wrap up with gorgeous sunsets and heading to our main hall for dinners or planned entertainment.

11. Can you recall a time when the guests at your property surprised you?

The guests here at Tropic Winds continue to surprise me with their continued acts of kindness.  The guests are very supportive of each other and will do what any family member would do for one another.

12. Can you tell us about some of the friendships that have developed between guests at Tropic Winds RV Resort?

The friendships that develop between guests are very special.  Since they all live a similar lifestyle, they have a lot in common.  They are able to share different experiences they’ve had as retirees and in the RV Lifestyle.  Plus, they are now part of the same community family where they will eat, play and have fun together.

13. RV communities look out for each other. Can you share an example of how Tropic Winds RV Resort exemplifies the idea of community?

In South Texas we are very fortunate that there are 10 resorts in close proximity and it is easy for us to exemplify community.  For example, if a guest is requesting a specific amenity/activity that I may not offer, we will refer them to our sister resort that will be able to accommodate our guest.  Another example would be with our park model rental program.  If our rentals are booked we do the same and forward the perspective lead to a sister resort.

14. Why do you think your veteran guests keep coming back to Tropic Winds RV Resort?  I believe they keep coming back because it is very affordable to stay in South Texas.  Our winter weather is top notch.  Plus, they enjoy the feeling of belonging to a community that embraces their return.

15. Do you have any last words or thoughts for your guests?

As you travel throughout the different RV Resorts across our beautiful country, you know firsthand of what sets each one apart.  I’d love to personally invite you to come and experience what Tropic Winds RV Resort and South Texas has to offer.  We’d love to have you as part of our growing community family.

Stay & Play at Pio Pico RV in Southern California!

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When you’re looking for a peaceful place to park your RV for the winter, Pio Pico is it. Come for the peace and quiet and spend your days in nature instead of the concrete jungle. You don’t even have to leave the campground if you don’t want to.

As a sister campground to Encore RV Resorts, many travelers stay at Pio Pico RV Resort and Campground the entire winter. Spend your days exploring the rolling hills or walking beside a gentle flowing stream. There 180 acres of preserve here to ensure Mother Nature gets top billing.

“We love it here,” said Linda C., a Canadian who has returned to Pio Pico twice to escape Canadian winters. “My husband loves to ride his bike around the valleys and up into the hillsides.”

Unplug and Unwind

Put down your cell phone, ignore your email, and forget about Wi-Fi. Disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with you and your travel companions. There is Wi-Fi and cell service in the area, but this is nature at its finest. You’ll probably be more tempted to traipse through nature than text. Spend your time near the stream instead of streaming
video and rediscover who you are.

Bargains, Activities and Art

Pio Pico hosts a community flea market at the resort every Saturday morning. M
_15A8576embers come and sell their wares and socialize with other resort guests.

There are several hiking trails and canyons to explore and when you get back, there are two heated pools to relax in. For those who like a bit more water activity, there’s year-round water aerobics.

Other activities include shuffleboard, mini golf, horseshoes, volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, tennis, billiards, softball and pickleball.

The resort also offers art classes. “I love the art activities here,” said Linda. “I learned to do some very interesting artworks.”

Pet Friendly

The Pio Pico RV Resort and Campground is pet friendly. There’s even a dog park where your four-legged friend can meet up with fellow canine travelers for a sniff and greet and to chase few well thrown balls.

Day Trips

When you want to head out of the RV resort there are dozens and dozens of great things to do in the area. “It’s close enough to San Diego to drive,” said Linda. “It’s about a half hour drive and we leave our vehicle in the free parking lots. Then we take the MTS electric t_15A8777rolleys to most places we want to go.”

San Diego is great for spending the day exploring the area, visiting the ocean and getting some great shopping in. Go dip your toes into the beautiful Pacific Ocean and explore the many different beaches here. There’s also the beautiful Sea Port Village for shopping right on the bay, and lots of great events.  

The Living Coast Discovery Center, a little over a half hour from the RV resort, is a great place to spend the day. You’ll have up close experiences with local wildlife including rays, sharks, owls, hawks, falcons, reptiles and the endangered Green Sea Turtles!

There are over 20 museums nearby including: the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Bonita Museum and Cultural Center, and the HMS Surprise Maritime Museum.

You’re a half an hour from the border when you stay at Pio Pico. Venture out for a day in Mexico and enjoy everything Tijuana has to offer.

Time spent at Pio Pico would not be complete without a visit to Balbo Park. Museums, performing arts, a miniature railroad, the United Nations Building and the San Diego Zoo are all located on 1200 acres.

Eat Out

There are several restaurants and fast food eateries nearby. Most are within about a half hour drive. Try some Italian food or burgers and beer up in El Cajon. In Chula Vista there’s pizza, Mexican and Chinese food. San Diego has more restaurants than we can list here. Suffice it to say, if you have a craving, there’s a very good chance they have a restaurant to match that craving.

Enjoy the Arts

There are so many places where you can take in a play a short drive from Pio Pico RV Resort.  San Ysidro Performing Arts Center is 25 minutes from the RV resort and hosts local community events and professional theater productions. There’s also a blackbox theater and orchestra pit.

The Balbo Theatre in San Diego is about a 40-minute drive from Pio Pico. This historic venue was named one of the world’s 15 most spectacular theatres.

For something a little different, check out the plays at the Moxie Theatre. Most of the plays they produce are from primarily female playwrights.

At the end of the day you’ll be happy to head back to Pio Pico, knowing you’ll awaken to the sounds of nature and a new day with so much more to explore.

Want to visit Pio Pico Rv Resort? Let us know in the comments !

Top 5 Tips for Long Drives

It’s that time of year when sober Snowbirds are thinking about the return drive home, and other forward-thinking RV’ers are excitedly planning long summer trips to new destinations.

In either case, you may be planning for some long days behind the wheel. Fatigue can set in unexpectedly with awful results. That momentary lapse of concentration when the mind is distracted, can subsequently lead to an inability to correct the unsavory direction your rig has taken.

Driving is Work

Ask any trucker about his glamorously easy occupation, and you’ll be faced with the kind of expression that asks if you’re off your medication, followed by a glance of the room in search of your custodial social worker.

While driving, your mind is constantly monitoring the GPS, speed, weather, and dash gauges while attempting to predict the probable behavior of traffic in front of you. While much of this may occur almost subconsciously, the mental awareness and continual eye movement will wear you out. Especially as darkness falls and your eyes and body strain with the additional focus and tension, that reduced vision creates. Driving all day to reach your waypoint, especially driving longer than planned because of poor weather or traffic is tempting but very ill advised.

Here are my suggestions accumulated over 100,000 km behind the wheel and the occasional inadvertent lane change.

Work in Shifts

If you have another driver on board take turns. They don’t have to be equal shifts if someone isn’t comfortable behind the wheel. Give the less inclined driver the shorter shifts (even just a half hour) on the easier, straighter stretches of road. You don’t even have to nap off-shift, the mental break from driving will be rejuvenating.

Take Breaks

Stop often and before you get tired. Most tips say every two hours. I stop at scenic viewpoints even if I’ve only been driving 30 minutes. The next stimulating rest stop might be a couple hours away. Get your blood flowing by walking. I do pushups, deep knee bends or jumping jacks. You won’t look like a lunatic. People will know right away why you’re doing it and it may spur them on to do the same. You could save a life!

Eat Lightly

Those health nuts telling you to eat small meals all day are right. My grandmother would make my favourite meal when I came to visit. Ribs and spicy sausage surrounded by dumplings and sauerkraut seasoned with bacon. I would fill my belly and then lay down on the couch and sleep, while my girlfriend chatted with my grandmother. Big delicious greasy meals will knock you out faster than an MMA fighter in the octagon. I drive with single serving size foods like snack bars and fruit, especially grapes.

Avoid Late Nights

There’s less to see, and more eyestrain. Mental fatigue is the silent killer here. I’ve actually fallen asleep with my eyes open attempting to stay awake – not healthy. If I am planning to drive a long day, I start early before the sun comes up and finish before it goes down, with some leeway to reach my destination should traffic or weather hold me up. Having a back-up (sooner) destination at the end of the day is the mark of a seasoned hauler.

The Little Tricks

No, pumping caffeine and energy drinks into you is not a safe solution. The temporary boost in awareness is ‘temporary’. Then your body/mind crashes to lower than when you started. The same goes for rolling the window down, turning the radio up, sucking on menthol/eucalyptus candies, swallowing caffeine pills, splashing water on your face and eyelids, pinching or slapping yourself, talking/singing, … did I miss any? I’ve tried them all in my younger days, which has resulted in near death experiences. I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones.

When you are tired, you are tired. Be smart, plan contingencies, rest, and enjoy the journey.

Have any tips of your own? Feel Free to share them in the comments section below!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine

Thousand Trails Camping Pass – A RV’ers Best Kept Secret

What if you could enjoy the RV lifestyle for less? With Thousand Trails, you can! Thousand Trails is a membership program for avid RV’ers that provides priority, pre-booked access to 86 RV resorts in 5 zones across the US and Canada.

How it Works

With your Thousand Trails membership, you get:

  •         Access to Thousand Trails and select Encore parks in one zone
  •         30 nights free per year, and a fee of $4 per night for additional nights
  •         Advanced reservations
  •         1 year subscription to Trail Blazer magazine – includes member exclusive deals
  •         Member discounts including reduced rates at over 80 Encore RV Resorts.

There is no fee to enroll in the Thousand Trails membership, you just pay the annual membership fee which is $565 USD.

Do the Math – How Much Will You Save?

The average fee at an RV campground is $50/night, so if you camp for 30 nights, you’ll spend about $1,500 – or three times the cost of the pass! RV owners who are camping for 11 nights or more will save money with this membership, and the more you camp, the more you save.

Too Good To Be True?

Sounds good, but you may be thinking, what’s the catch? No catch! If you camp more than 11 nights a year then you’ll get your money’s worth out of the pass, plus you’ll be able to make reservations at the parks you’re planning to visit, up to 60 days in advance.

Experienced RV’ers know that many parks pre-book a year ahead, so how can you get a spot if you’re booking two months (or less) before your visit? Thousand Trails parks are for members, which means member spots are set aside for you. All you need to do is tell us what days you plan on coming, and once you get a reservation we’ll make sure that there’s a spot there for you (but we don’t reserve specific sites – you select your site on a first-come, first-serve basis).

How Are Spots Kept Available for Members?

To ensure that there are spots for our members, we have a 14 night in/7 night out of the system policy. This means that you can spend up to 14 consecutive nights at a Thousand Trails resort, then you’ll need to have at least 7 nights out of the Thousand Trails system to book again. This strategy ensures that there are spots free for members when they need them, and it works very well for RV’ers who are looking to explore different parks, or travel across a zone.

With the discount at Encore resorts, many Thousand Trails members plan to stay at an Encore resort for a discounted rate (often 20% or more) for their 7 nights out of the system, which saves them even more money.

Who Uses Thousand Trails?

If you’re a snowbird then it’s worthwhile to get a Thousand Trails pass, you’ll still save big time on your camping fees, especially during your journey down south where using the (14 night in/7 night out) 4 nights park to park policy is ideal.

The Thousand Trails pass is also popular amongst weekend RV’ers (those who work Monday – Friday and camp on weekends, or camp for a few weeks once or twice a year).

Full time RV’ers are Thousand Trails members too, and many upgrade to an Elite membership which is designed for longer stays.

Although having an RV is preferable, it’s not necessary to take advantage of the Thousand Trails pass. With discounts on rental cottages at their parks, anyone who is looking to test out the RV lifestyle, or who wants a place for their family to stay during a visit can save.

Get a Thousand Trails Membership for Less

Keep an eye out for online specials for the Thousand Trails membership –these specials offer $100- $150 USD off the pass. Plus, it’s worth it to go to an RV show, where RV’ers can often get a dual special -$100 off the pass plus a second zone for free.

Ready to start saving? Why wait? Get your Thousand Trails pass now and enjoy the RV lifestyle for less.


Ask how you can camp all year long with our Thousand Trails Camping Pass!

Our Thousand Trails Camping Pass is offered by MHC Thousand Trails Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc., Two North Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606. This advertising is being used for the purpose of soliciting sales of resort campground memberships and this offer is only available to new customers. This document has been filed with the Department of Licensing, State of Washington as required by Washington Law. Value, quality or conditions stated and performance on promises are the responsibility of the operator, not the Department. The filing does not mean the Department has approved the merits or qualifications of any registration, advertising, or any gift or item of value as part of any promotional plan.

South Texas Offers A Different Way of Living

Even though they live in Guelph, Ontario, Gary and Rowena Scott haven’t seen snow in 12 years; not since they started wintering at Fun-N-Sun, an RV park on the southern tip of Texas in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. With temperatures in the low 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Gary doesn’t miss the snow or his Canadian lifestyle much. He and Rowena have easily adapted to life in Texas. And that’s what it’s like to live at Fun-N-Sun – it’s not a vacation, just a different way of living.

“We leave the snow and cold and live in the warmth for half the year,” Gary explains. “People back home think we’re on a permanent vacation, but I’ve just moved my place of living.” From the sounds of it Gary is too busy at Fun-N-Sun to call this lifestyle a vacation, but Texas offers him access to cruises unavailable in Canada without a costly plane ride to a port of call. “We still go on vacations – we take cruises out of nearby Galveston, Texas – in fact we’re cruising to Montego Bay and the Grand Cayman Islands with a group of our friends from the park later this year,” he says.

Test the Waters Before You Take the Plunge into RV Life

Finding Fun-N-Sun was no accident. Gary and Rowena took their time traveling across the United States before they settled down here in South Texas. They tried out a lot of different RV parks across Florida and Arizona, but when their friends Mike and Shirley back home in Guelph heard they were looking to try Texas they recommended Fun-N-Sun. “Mike said ‘travel around and see if you like anything better,’” Gary recalls. “We didn’t. We ended up staying here.”

Gary recommends testing the waters before taking the plunge into RV life. “Some people think when they retire they want to sell their house and get an RV, but then they do it for a year or two and they’ve had enough. They try to get back into the real estate market and find the market has gone up and their fifth wheel has depreciated,” Gary says. “I recommend you test the water before you jump in. Start by going down for just a month, then a season or two and see how you like it.”

Nothing Beats Texas Hospitality

For Gary and Rowena, the thing that set South Texas apart from Arizona and Florida was the lower cost of living and the reliable weather. But it is the people, combined with the active lifestyle that has kept them coming back to Fun-N-Sun for over a decade.

“We’ve met so many people here,” Gary says. “There’s about 200 people in the Canadian Club and we have a potluck on the third Friday of every month. The people here are one of the things that keeps you coming back – you miss them when you’re back home and look forward to seeing them when you come back.”

Staying Active is the Key to Longevity

“People who come down here and are active, I think they live longer.” Gary says. How does he stay busy during his winters in Texas? He’s the chief engineer and Rowena is the conductor for the train at Fun-N-Sun, which takes people around the park throughout the year, with extended rides at Christmas.

The train, which was originally used at Disneyland in 1953 found its home at Fun-N-Sun, and is now run and maintained by a group of volunteers. It’s become a fixture at the park. “Everyone loves it, even people from out of town come by to see it.” Gary says, “We have a sunset tour on Wednesday nights at 6pm and whenever the weather is really nice it’s packed.”

When he’s not hard at work volunteering in the resort, Gary’s hard at work on the course – the golf course that is. He’s a member of a Thursday morning golf league. “If you golf it’s beautiful down here,” he says. “The golf courses are beautiful and affordable. I can golf at one course on Sunday mornings for $7.”

Gary also loves playing bocce ball and pickle ball. He’s a judge for the old cars show, and the dog show, and looks forward to the Coffee Chat on Tuesday mornings where the weekly park info is shared (as well as free coffee and donuts). “You can’t get bored here,” Gary says. “It keeps you active and young, doing something all the time.” From shuffleboard, to miniature car racing, to cards, to rock hounding (there’s a lapidary shop at the park where you can grind and polish rocks and make your own jewellery), to art classes, the list of activities offered at the park is endless, but there’s lots to do outside of the park as well.

Location is Key

Fun-N-Sun is near San Antonio and not far from South Padre Island, which has an amazing beach that attracts tourists from across Texas and beyond. Other popular off-park activities include trips to the Gladys Porter Zoo, and historic battlegrounds for the Civil and Spanish-American wars (including the Alamo). There’s also a local movie theatre nearby that offers first run movies for $1.25 admission! With shopping and restaurants—Texas, Mexican and Italian are favourites for Gary—there’s lots to do and see in and around Fun-N-Sun.

Whether it’s the warmth, the sun, the people, or the endless activities that draws you here, for anyone who wants an affordable, active lifestyle Fun-N-Sun RV Resort in Rio Grande Valley is worth a visit.

Have you stayed at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort before? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!

Northeast: Scenic Views & Lots To Do for RV’ers

After spending the winter months bathed in warmth, make an adventure out of your journey home. The Northeast region of the United States, specifically New York State and New England, boast incredible natural beauty, scenic tours, unusual experiences, and mouthwatering local cuisine.

Lake George Escape

With Lake George Escape as your homebase, you can get out and explore all that New York State has to offer. You’ll find it between Albany, New York and the US/Canada border in the beautiful Adirondacks. Come and relax in this 178-acre resort with two beautiful heated pools, tennis courts and a playground.

Each site has a picnic table and a fire pit. You’ll be surrounded by plush woods meadows and easy access to the Schroon River. Further out is the six million acre Adirondack Park. In the warmer months you can fish, swim and tube on the river. The park has canoes and kayaks for rent so you can spend your days exploring the river. Should you have family that wants to visit, or if you’ve left your RV down south, not to worry. Lake George has tenting and cozy cabins for rent.

Nearby Attractions

When you do decide to leave this natural paradise it’s an easy connect to I-87. Nearby attractions include the Lake George Village, Six Flags, Saratoga Springs and more. Lake George Village has shopping, live music, spas, salons, as well as theatres and museums.

Saratoga springs is a short drive from the RV Park. There’s great dining, shopping, golf, arts and entertainment. Hungry? You won’t be bored with the dining options here. Choose from a French, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Indian, Asian and American Fare.

Six Flags – Great Escape, opens in mid-May and offers you the chance to ride a Canadian and American treasure: The Comet. It was originally built in 1948 at Crystal Beach in Ontario. It was preserved after the park closed and Great Escapes Six Flags moved it to Lake George in 1994.

Spectacular Views

Incredible visual experiences abound when you explore the area by ground, water, and air. Climb aboard a passenger rail train at Saratoga North Creek Railway and experience breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains. You’ll ride in comfort along the Hudson River, through friendly towns and breathtaking scenery.

For an expansive aerial view of the state, step into the basket of a hot air balloon. Imagine soaring with the birds above cities, mountains, and lakes. Speaking of lakes, there are several boat tours available, including the exciting opportunity to ride one of the last remaining steam paddle wheelers in America. Or, for something a bit more unusual, visit a wax museum or give yourself a good fright at a haunted house.

Bar Harbor

From Lake George, drive west towards the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a four-hour drive to Moody Beach on the southeast coast, just minutes from the shores of Ogunquit Beach. Watch whales, deep sea fish, shop hike or taste your way around town at the many seafood eateries.

Drive north-east about three hours and you’ll find yourself in Bar Harbor. There are three great RV parks in this area: Mt. Desert Narrows, Patten Pond, and Narrows Too. All are within minutes of the ocean and offer tons of resort amenities.

At Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park and get your camera ready to witness majestic Humpback whales slapping their massive tails against the water. You could also visit historical Bass Harbor Head Light. Built in 1858, this fully functional lighthouse strikes quite the pose as it stands watch over Blue Hill Bay.

Foodie Favorite

Is your tummy grumbling? Embark upon a Maine Foodie Tour! There are several delicious options, including the Savor Bar Harbor Culinary Walking Tour. This fun little excursion takes you to restaurants, pubs, and eclectic shops where you’ll find gourmet ingredients. To quench your thirst, join the Happy 2-Hour Tour and enjoy locally crafted beer, cocktails, and appies!

Acadia National Park
The jewel of the area is Acadia National Park, filled with glacier carved mountains and evergreen forests. You’ll find delightful surprises such as historical Jordan Pond House, where you can savor creamy lobster stew and homemade ice cream. Or, just before high tide, witness an explosion of water at Thunder Hole. Be sure to bring your binoculars for hawk watching at Cadillac Mountain. And when it’s time to relax, pamper yourself at Eden Spa.

No matter which resort you stay at and which unique and exhilarating experiences you choose to enjoy, the Northeast Region makes for a memorable experience.

Interested in visiting the Northeast? Let us know and leave a comment below!