A 600 Mile Family Trip Turns into an Amateur Photographer’s Dream (Featured on Browngirlmagazine.com)

After my trip to Greece this past May, I was craving another fun-filled, picturesque vacation. I flipped through Vogue’s travel section intrigued by both Mérida, Mexico and Prague, Czech Republic. I was practically drooling over how beautiful both these destinations were. Unfortunately I soon realized with a low budget that dream just wasn’t happening this year.

However, one weekend morning my parents told me in the upcoming days we were going to go on a 600 mile (not kidding you, 600 mile) road trip to visit several relatives in the United States, many of whom I had never met before. Initially, I was dreading the possibility of awkward conversations and being sedentary for so long, but then I spotted my DSLR resting on my desk. I thought hey there might be some nice views to capture. It was another chance to finally practice photography.

If I couldn’t splurge on an international vacation maybe I could take advantage of a domestic one. 

I was probably the last person to think Wisconsin would be my vacation substitute (No offense to Wisconsin natives!) . As an amateur photographer, I was proven wrong. I learned the state possesses some of the most stellar views, especially around college town Madison. There is immense character where you least expect it.

Dane County Parks Boating


A team of four row under an early night sky. (above)

My family and I were lucky to take advantage of one of the last evening boat rides the Dane County Parks offered for the season. The boat ride lasted for a total of 90 minutes and took you on a tour of the beautiful Lake Monona. While we were on a motor boat and our driver described iconic sites in Madison, I was appalled that such beauty was visible at night.

As we saw municipal buildings and residences of the wealthy, there were silhouettes of civilians enjoying a night’s view of the lakes.

The sky was filled with hues of purples and blues. When the moon made its appearance, the twenty of us on the motor boat also enjoyed the glimmer of city lights.


A man ponders deeply while overlooking Lake Monona (above).

Olbrich Botanical Gardens


In the crevasses of Madison, Wisconsin  there was also a beautiful botanical garden with a treasure from Thailand. The intricate pavilion pictured above is one of a kind being the only Thai Pavilion in the “continental” United States. The structure is surrounded by a luscious greenery and a rainbow assortment of fresh flowers.

I guess if you’re craving a visit to Thailand but can’t afford it, you might as well come here for the breathtaking views. According to a nearby sign, the pavilion was a gift from the Thai government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association to the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

If you think the interior pictured above is gorgeous wait till you see the exterior pictured below:

IMG_4300 - Copy.jpg

Another helpful feature of the garden is that it offers a mini train ride. Both my uncle’s family and mine boarded this mini train ride through the botanical garden, and maximized our sight-seeing experience. After the train was over we also set foot to explore the natural intricacies up close.


(above) A scenic bridge that is met by an abundance of orange flowers. If anyone wants a new Windows Desktop Screensaver definitely come here. These are views that would make Snow White jealous.

I’ve been to several botanical gardens but this was is my favorite till date. It isn’t enough to take pictures of flowers, but the pictures you take should paint a story. I can say with confidence there is no shortage of fairtytale-like scenic spots in the Olbrich Botanical Garden. I’m not surprised people often come here to get married.

IMG_4307.JPG(above) As my mom stated during the trip, there is something magical about “empty” benches and bridges that really add a mysterious touch to a picture. 

(below) Asian influences are nestled in the myriad of flowers and greenery overflowing in the garden.



(above) A rich maroon colored flower. Out of all the flower pictures I took something about this one just attracts my attention. Maybe beauty is synonymous with simplicity?

Overall my experience taught me to take advantage of every small trip. With the plethora of travel bloggers we see on Instagram and WordPress we assume we need a passport to see some stellar views. This trip definitely taught me that is not the case. Seeing beauty can just be a matter of visiting your family.

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