48 Hours In The Abacos

So what do you do if you have a few days to spare, and the sunny weather takes a turn for the worse on Grand Bahama Island?

Easy! Pull up your weather app, and look for another Island where the sun is shining bright. Then pack your overnight bag and grab your passport.

Open Air Places Bougainvillea on Abaco.jpg

I have to admit, I’ve been eyeing up the ABACOS ISLANDS for some time now. Mostly because someone told me that once I’ve gone to the Abacos, I wouldn’t want to go back to Grand Bahama. (It always piques my interest when people say grand things like that.)

If you aren’t already familiar with them, the Abacos are a group of Islands and Cays that form a 120-mile long chain of calm turquoise bays and coves, just a 30 minute flight west from Freeport, Grand Bahama. The scalloped edges of the islands feature three of my favorite things…..unique places to stay, gorgeous beaches and LOTS of yachts gliding in and out of marinas.

I also wanted to find out about the artists’s over there, as they’re always good company.


After chatting up some local pilots who were hanging out at Grand Bahama Airport’s pilot’s lounge, I heard that there were several ways to Island hop from Freeport.

  1. Write your name and number on a card, and post it on the bulletin board in the lounge. If you’re lucky, someone will call you up for a spontaneous ride

  2. Stop by the Ziz Zag Aviation building next door, because they know a guy over there who might be flying today

  3. Catch a commuter flight via Flamingo Air

Open Air Places Zig Zag Aviation Services.jpg

So I took their advice and did all three.

Flamingo Air came through for me in the end, with a $106 fare from Freeport (FPO) to Marsh Harbour (MHH). The local ticketing agent let me know that if I walk in and book my flight in person, I could get the fare for $102. Who knew?

If you search up #flamingoair on Instagram, you can see all sorts of fun posts by people who got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit up front and co-pilot the Flamingo Air plane.

I took a window seat and enjoyed the cool, blue ocean views everywhere I looked.

Open Air Places Flamingo Air.jpg


Have you ever noticed that cab drivers offer the best advice on places to go? They always have their pulse on the cool places. I tried this theory out on the rather reserved rental car guy at the Marsh Harbour Airport. While I checked the time, and he tallied up the paperwork for my rent-a-car. I said “where is the best spot for catching the sunset on the Island?”

He said “The Bay” and sent me on my way. I Googled it and found out that it’s spelled “The Bae” and that I had precisely 15 minutes to make it there before the sun set.

I made two wrong turns on the roundabouts, but this is the view I had walking up - I wasn’t disappointed. I ordered the hot spinach dip, and enjoyed the bang bang shrimp while I watched the colors change, and the stars come out. It was pretty postcard perfect.


I heard from a friend-of-a-friend, that once I was on the Island he could connect me with someone who could take me via private boat charter over to Great Guana Cay.

The Cay is a narrow 7 mile Islet accessible only by boat, and located about 8 miles from Marsh Harbour, and I jumped at the chance to go. If you want to give it a try, send me an email and I’ll connect you with my new Captain friend!

Once we landed, my first stop led me to Grabbers Bed Bar & Grill which I had researched as a possible place to hold an OPEN AIR PLACES Retreat. When I walked up the path towards the pool, I happened to meet the owner enjoying the morning views overlooking his dock. He introduced himself as Dennis, and his dog as Kingsley, and kindly offered me a Blood Mary.

While I sipped on my drink, I told him I came to the Bahamas to get a break from the Polar Vortex in Wisconsin, and asked about where to find the artists in the area. He told me to check out Pete’s Pub & Gallery, which is the only working sculpture foundry in the Bahamas. I definitely want to see this spot in person!

Open Air Places Grabbers Bed Bar and Grill.jpg
Open Air Places at Grabbers with Kingsley.jpg
Open Air Places Bloody Mary at Grabbers.jpg


Since I am endlessly chasing turquoise waters and barefoot beaches, I headed straight to Treasure Cay Beach which I heard was beyond beautiful.

Open Air Places Jenna at Treasure Cay Beach Abaco.jpg
Open Air Places Treasure Cay Beach Sign.jpg

The Coco Beach Bar and Sea Grille was in full swing promoting their ROMANCE ON THE BEACH SPECIALS just in time for Valentines Day. They even had a sign set up for lovers to pose by for an Instagram worthy snap.

I was happy that they didn’t mind my bare feet afterwards when I admired a least a million signatures of people who had visited this spot before me. If I had a sharpie tucked into my bag, I would’ve signed “OPEN AIR PLACES, 2019” somewhere on this hanging pirate boat.


A few nights back I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner on Yacht SLAINTE. It was golden and good, and just what I wanted. I probably spent less than $5 on the fixings for it.

So, when I saw Lobster Mac’N Cheese on the menu for $30 at Da Blue Hole Restaurant in Marsh Harbour I just had to splurge and try it. It was worth….every…..decadent….bite.

Meandering around the Island’s roads after dinner brought me past this inviting spot, where I could see a glimmer of blue on the horizon. The compression and release effect of following this path up, and out out onto a beautiful beach bathed in golden light, was truly Frank Lloyd Wright worthy.

Open Air Places Treasure Cay Point Path.jpg

Inspired by the beauty of my surroundings, my heart was so full that I drew some words in the sand.


…..just as I was leaving and thinking that this life couldn’t get any better, I saw a couple emerge onto the beach with their binoculars. Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed that they had come out to watch the birds dancing on the sandspit of Treasure Cay Point.

Seeing their love for the birds, and observing their love for nature and each other filled my heart up to the brim.

I was already leaving when I changed my mind and went back to ask the couple for permission to make a photograph of them observing the birds.

After snapping their photo, they invited me to take a look through the glass where I briefly saw a pair of American Oystercatcher’s with their bright orange bills.

It was a rare and beautiful moment that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

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Open Air Places Bird Watching on Treasure Cay Point.jpg

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve went back to make a photograph, because the moment was just too wonderful not to? Write to me and let me know because I’d love to hear how it happened for you!


Founder & Lead Travel Ambassador for OPEN AIR PLACES.  

I love serving the world by showcasing UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY, where artists can regenerate and be inspired.  This week is all about how I found inspiration during a micro-lifestyle break on a few Bahamian Islands.

You can follow along with me on my journey by joining my mailing list below, or by interacting with me on Instagram at @openairplaces.




Sun Soaked Island Time

Last week I made a fun list of ten things I did to stay inspired during Wisconsin’s Polar Vortex. This week, I am highlighting item #6 on my list which involves an Island getaway, with piles of sunshine and a super unique place to stay.

One of my artist friends last week told me that “snow days were the best days” because it meant she could stay inside all day and create. I can appreciate the gift of spending undivided time with my art, accompanied by a pot of hot coffee, a blank canvas and plenty of hues.

I also can appreciate the art of hopping on a plane and landing on a Bahamian Island, known for its crystal clear waters and velvety white sand beaches.

Open Air Places Aerial View of Grand Bahama Island.jpg

GETTING HERE traveling to Grand Bahama Island during the winter months is so easy. Just catch a flight from Minneapolis to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and then hop on a 30 minute flight over to Freeport (FPO), Grand Bahama Island. I can give you my itinerary if you send me an email!

UPON ARRIVAL immediately don a bikini and grab something cold to drink (like I did in this photo). Ask a neighbor to snap your photo so you can send a photo back home to someone in need of some Vitamin D.

Open Air Places Don A Bikini Immediately.jpg

I have options for UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY when I come to Grand Bahama. One of my favorite spots is Yacht SLAINTE which is moored at the most popular Yacht Club in Freeport. It’s spacious and roomy, and just steps away from a hot tub and pool, and the Ocean’s Blue Restaurant (in case you need a quick snack) Waking up here is so amazing, with water smooth as glass, and views so full, you’ll feel like singing. I made this photo at dawn, while I sipped a hot mug of coffee.

Open Air Places Morning View on Yacht Slainte.jpg

After you google what “Slainte” means, or maybe how to pronounce it …..it’s time to STOCK UP ON SUPPLIES and make use of this yacht’s fully stocked galley. I always plan to make my own meals because I have so much fun doing it. A quick trip to Solomon’s grocery store for food stuff is easy when I use the grocery list I make on the plane. I pick things like fresh fruit, avocados and seafood. Prices here aren’t that much more than on the mainland - however certain things like crackers can run $5.05 a box which always surprises me.

Open Air Places Fresh Fruit.jpg

BAHAMA MAMA getting ingredients for my famous Bahama Mama cocktails is a must. Two different rums, orange juice and pineapple juice blend together for a velvety drink which I serve with a handful of ice cubes. I’ll write up my recipe and share it soon.

Open Air Places Orange Juice.jpg

10 MINUTES IS ALL YOU NEED to get to this heavenly spot. 8 miles of private beach, which the locals call Churchill Beach and is home to three Island restaurants, StephJETS Watersports, and a cluster of jewel toned cottages called Diamonds by the Sea. Sometimes I grab a breakfast sandwich from Arturo’s Pepper Pot, and have a breakfast picnic here. But really, you can’t go wrong walking here at any time of the day.

Open Air Places 8 miles of Private Beach.jpg

BEACH TREASURES for beachcombers are the occasional sea glass piece, small white shells the size of a thumbnail, or sun bleached coral pieces. I found this heart-shaped piece just in time for Valentines Day.

Open Air Places Beach Treasures.jpg

PACK YOUR SUNGLASSES or if you forgot them, don’t worry because you can always be inventive like Robinson Crusoe and pick up a sea grape leaf to shade your eyes.

Open Air Places Leaves on the Beach.jpg

ISLAND TIME nourishes my creative spirit. After a few days here making photographs and soaking up the sun, you’ll find me back in Wisconsin’s ninth largest city with sand still clinging to my hair. If you’ve traveled to the Bahamian Islands I’d love to know where your favorite spots are so I can check them out!


Founder & Lead Travel Ambassador for OPEN AIR PLACES.  

I love serving the world by showcasing UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY, where artists can regenerate and be inspired.  This week is all about one of my favorite types of travel destinations….Island Time!

You can follow along with me on my journey by joining my mailing list below, or by interacting with me on Instagram at @openairplaces.




Top 10 Ways to Survive The Polar Vortex: Artist's Edition

Hello Friend, if you know me, you know that I love lists.

Read on for my list of the top 10 ways I stayed warm this week, during Wisconsin’s Polar Vortex.



  1. MAKE PHOTOGRAPHS I didn’t venture outside this week, but some brave souls did. Some examples of what photographers saw this week are featured in this neat New York Times article, Life in the Polar Vortex’s Grip

Open Air Places Polar Vortex.jpg

2. READ every exquisite page from the the newest issue of SHOTS Magazine / Fading Light no. 142. This b/w quarterly publication features themes where readers can submit their images for free.

There are also wonderful retreat opportunities sprinkled over the last few pages for anyone seeking a photo-adventure this year.

Follow them on Instagram at @shotsmagazine when you’re done reading the magazine.

3. QUALITY TIME with someone you love my son turned 11 years old on Tuesday and we celebrated with homemade birthday cake coated in thick BLUE frosting, steaming mugs of hot chocolate + lots of quality time.

My son has asked me to make blue cakes for him every year since he was four. Which is how old he was in this photo.

Open Air Places Hug Someone.jpg

4. STUDIO HOURS where you can dive in with luscious colors that evoke crystal clear waters and sunbeams. My current series is about Islands and this is a detail from a painting on my easel. Winsor & Newton’s Cerulean Blue sings next to ochre fields of color.

Can you recognize what grouping of Islands I’m featuring in this painting?

Open Air Places Letters to My Places Unmet.jpg

5. BREW A POT OF COFFEE or tea and savor it in a handmade mug made by a local potter. Supporting local artists makes my heart happy!

This mug was made by my friend, Mr. Evan Hestekin, of Hestekin Pottery. If you want to go visit his summertime shop in Cornucopia, WI I can help you with a Unique Place to Stay in Bayfield.

Open Air Places Cup of Coffee.jpg

6. PACK A BAG FOR THE BAHAMAS where the weather report is 75 degrees and sunny. Yes, please and thank you because staying at a beautiful haven revitalizes my creativity. Some Vitamin Sea + Sunshine is so needed right now.

Most people don’t know that Grand Bahama Island is only a 30 minute flight from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Want to grab your passport and come with me?

Open Air Places Opposite of the Polor Vortex.jpg

7. LAYER UP with extra blankets my winter nest is dressed up with super soft sheets and a down comforter, plus two hand-woven blankets I brought home from my last trip to Guatemala. Browsing the stacks of textiles and admiring the murals at San Juan la Laguna, Lake Atitlan is one of my very favorite things to do in this world. I did some nice Instagram posts in September if you want to see more.

Open Air Places Guatemala Warmth.JPG

8. WRITE because it is good for the soul. I recently bought a copy of Nayyirah Waheed’s SALT and I’ve been paging through it and finding places in myself that I haven’t met yet.

we write from the body.

it remembers everything.

-melanin │ bone and soil

Open Air Places We Write From the Body Nayirah Waheed.jpg

9. MORNING MOVEMENT and yoga with Mary Beth LaRue and Tara Jae Winterhalter are the BEST part of my day.

Energy + Mood Boost Every. Single. Time. Yoga has been a life-changer for me and I can’t wait to see what this year brings for my practice.

Open Air Places Yoga Polar Vortex.jpg

10. NOURISH my body with one of the earth’s superfoods. Did you know that pomegranates have powerful anti-inflammatory effects? This is great for me as I still struggle with neck pain and don’t like using pain relievers.

This article shares all the high points! Let me know which one is your favorite.

Open Air Places Pomegranates .jpg


I’m JENNA ERICKSON Founder & Lead Travel Ambassador for OPEN AIR PLACES.  

I love serving the world by showcasing UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY, where artists can regenerate and be inspired.  I am passionate about nurturing the creative process in myself and others, and embracing authenticity whenever I can find it.

You can follow along with me on my journey by joining my mailing list below, or by interacting with me on Instagram at @openairplaces.





If you’re looking for a bucket list location to add to your list of travel destinations, you must add ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA to your list!

Last month, Jenna Erickson our OPEN AIR PLACES Founder, & Lead Travel Ambassador toured three gorgeous properties that literally have it all - Art, Ambiance, Elegance and stunning volcano views! Read on for Jenna’s OPEN AIR PLACES trip highlights and recommendations…..


American Airlines offers great flights from Minneapolis International Airport (MSP) to Miami Florida (MIA), with an easy 2 hour connecting flight to La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City (GUA). Try to get a window seat because the descent into Guatemala City curves over gorgeous green hills, with volcano views.

Open Air Places - First Look at Guatemala City.JPG


After landing in Guatemala City, we grabbed our luggage and were met just outside the terminal by Manuel, or world-class driver who made us feel instantly at ease with his friendly smile, and engaging personality. We practiced our Spanish with Manuel enroute to Antigua which was so great! He expertly drove us on busy roads peppered by colorful buses he called “Chicken Buses” the colloquial name for a popular transport for goods and people between communities.

I snapped a photo as we whizzed by!

Open Air Places - Chicken Bus in Guatemala City.jpg

From the moment you arrive in Antigua you will fall in love with the city’s old-world charm. The cobblestone streets are lined with Spanish Colonial buildings in shades of red, yellow, blue, orange and white. Flowers are blooming everywhere, and often spill over walls and gates in an incredibly picturesque fashion. Here are 32 Photos that will make you fall in love with Antigua!

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MESON PANZA VERDE HOTEL & RESTAURANT is located on the quiet end of the famous Fifth Avenue in Antigua, a pleasant five minute walk from Antigua's main Plaza and Cathedral. Stepping inside these doors is like entering a painting! Each detail has been finely curated to create an atmosphere of romance and elegance.

Each of the 12 uniquely decorated rooms (9 Suites and 3 Double Rooms) at Panza Verde are furnished with gorgeous handwoven Guatemalan textiles, and original art. Private terraces open up to beautiful private gardens, and stunning volcano views. Each room is exquisite! If you’re interested in booking a room, you can browse each offering HERE.

Open Air Places - Rooftop Terrace At Meson Panza Verde.JPG

By following the curving spiral staircases adjacent to Suite #5 and Suite #6, you can access the rooftop terrace with its magnificent and unobstructed volcano views. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail before dinner.

Open Air Places - Jenna enjoys the Rooftop Terrace at Meson Panza Verde.jpg


The food at Meson Panza Verde Restaurant has achieved critical acclaim and is considered to be one of the top restaurants in Guatemala, having received the “Tenedor de Oro” award as best in the country. We loved the ambiance of the main dining room, as candlelight flickered all around us. Walking back through the hotel garden corridor after dinner looks like this.

Open Air Places - Dining Room at Meson Panza Verde Hotel.JPG

Stay tuned for more content and tips for enjoying ANTIGUA Guatemala! If you’re interested in booking a stay at MESON PANZA VERDE HOTEL, send us a message and we’ll be happy to extend our OPEN AIR PLACES referral code.

We've Got GUATEMALA on our Mind!

Our summer season has been wonderfully busy, as we've welcomed new guests from all over the United States to our unique places to stay in beautiful, Bayfield, WI Our Lake Superior location has so much to offer guests and we love connecting them with the best the area has to offer.

With September aright around the corner, we're getting ready for our upcoming travel to the ever-enchanting city of ANTIGUA Guatemala, and to one of the most magnificent lakes in the world - LAKE ATITLAN. 

Located about an hour away from Guatemala City, ANTIGUA is known as the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in Central America.  Nearly 500 years old, the city is cradled by three volcanoes and feels like a portal to another century.  Everywhere you turn there are colonial-era mansions, and churches - every wall you meet is painted in rich warm hues.

Once the capital of this Central American country (before a series of devastating earthquakes forced the colonial government to move to Guatemala City in the late 1700's), Antigua has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We will be doing site-visits at the luxurious Meson Panza Verde boutique hotel in Antigua, and their sister property on Lake Atitlan,  Villas B'Alam ya.  We can hardly wait to add these Unique Places to Stay to our offerings!

Here are some of the photos our Founder, Jenna Erickson made during her last visit to Guatemala.

If you're interested in traveling to Antigua or Lake Atitlan, sign up for our mailing list to receive news and updates. We'll be sharing more information and images soon!