Wintering in Breckenridge

 
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What better way to escape the South Florida heat and embrace the holiday season than a vacation in the most picturesque winter wonderland? Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range, Breckenridge was a former mining town, and mecca center of the Gold Rush in 1859. Now preserved as the Breckenridge National Historic District, this mountain town boasts vibrant Victorian buildings along charming Main Street, lined with shops, galleries, restaurants, and watering holes.

Breckenridge is known for it's world class skiing and resorts. With over 2900 acres of riding terrain and 187 trails up to 3.5 miles long, Breckenridge offers some of the most exciting, diverse, and challenging skiing in the world. An impressive 34 lifts bring you to endless runs up to 12,998 feet in elevation, including the highest lift-served terrain in North America. From easily accessible, wide-open bunny slopes, to dare devil double black diamond trails, the five mountain peaks accommodate everyone from every ski level. With the impressive slope stats, it's no wonder Breckenridge is the home of the Winter Dew Tour and Olympic Snowboard Qualifying Competition.

Where to Stay

HYATT RESIDENCE CLUB

 {Photo: Hyatt Residence Club}

{Photo: Hyatt Residence Club}

 {Photo: Hyatt Residence Club}

{Photo: Hyatt Residence Club}

The Hyatt Residence Club is a full service hotel in Main Street Station and centrally located in Downtown Breckenridge. Condo living with all the amenities of a hotel (including room service and cleaning!). Our unit included a full kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, fireplace, and balcony overlooking Main Street. Although the room comes equipped with a jet hot tub, the facility also has three hot tubs and heated swimming pool on property with spectacular mountain views. At the base of the hotel is Christy's Sports, where you can rent your ski equipment and store it throughout your stay. Take the elevator down to grab your gear, and the lifts are just a short walk from the hotel.

In addition to the hotel amenities, the convenient location makes the Hyatt Residence Club an ideal place to stay. Surrounded by restaurants, shops, coffee and juice bars, and adjacent to Breckenridge Brewery, Hyatt Residence Club gave us easy access to the best of Breckenridge.

Grand Colorado on peak 8

 {Grand Colorado on Peak 8}

{Grand Colorado on Peak 8}

If you're looking for true ski-in ski-out accommodations, Grand Colorado on Peak 8 brings convenience and accessibility to a new level (literally). Located at the base of Peak 8, ski or walk out the front door directly to the Colorado SuperChair and Rocky Mountain Quad lift. With ski storage, onsite dining, easy access to transportation, modern accommodations, and arguably the best views in Breckenridge, Grand Colorado merges luxury and convenience to create an elevated experience for their guests.

What to Eat

Legends Steaks & Italian

 
 {Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

{Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

 

To sum up our experience at Legends in one word... legendary. As Breckenridge’s newest fine dining hot spot featuring high end steaks, authentic Italian dishes, and prohibition era cocktails, this dining gem is definitely a must try! The nostalgic décor, mosaic ceilings, mahogany walls, and an expansive glass wine bar (and wine list) create the perfect setting for a fabulous evening. Paired with impeccable service and culinary perfection, Legends was truly an exceptional experience.

 {Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

{Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

 {Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

{Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian}

 {Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian; left to right Chef Caprari and Owner Alan Bullock}

{Photo: Legends Steaks & Italian; left to right Chef Caprari and Owner Alan Bullock}

Upon arrival, owner Alan Bullock and Chef Jeremy Caprari welcomed us like family. And considering Legends is a trendy new see-and-be-seen spot in Breckenridge, we were in good company. Olympic gold medalist snowboarder, Shaun White, and Virgin Productions Founder and CEO, Jason Felts, were also dining at Legends, and for good reason.

Everything we ate was absolutely heavenly, particularly the melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef. Legends is one of only nine restaurants in the country to serve certified Wagyu. It was unanimously the best steak we've ever had, cooked and seasoned perfectly and the texture of butter; euphoric. We had three orders of the Tenderloin Carpaccio with foil gras mousse, because it was that good! The New Jersey Blue Pointe Oysters were exceptionally succulent and bursting with flavor. For our mains, we ordered the Shrimp Carbonara, with prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano, and egg, as well as the Shrimp and Scallop A La Vodka, both were pasta perfection. A truly sensational experience, so sensational, in fact, that we returned for dinner two days later. We highly recommend this legendary dining destination!

Relish

 {Photo: Relish}

{Photo: Relish}

 {Photo: Relish}

{Photo: Relish}

Relish is a Main Street staple in Breckenridge, drawing a constant crowd to indulge in the innovative dishes served up by Owner and Chef, Matt Fackler. The Colorado inspired menu highlights seasonal food focused on local ingredients, refined. The menu offers a unique selection of Colorado proteins, including lamb, quail, veal, trout, and steak. The winter menu included seasonal flavors, fruits, and vegetables, including pomegranate, blood oranges, apples, beets, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts. Each dish was a culinary masterpiece, plated perfectly with vibrant colors. 

Our dining adventure began with the baked escargot, featuring blood orange smoked blue cheese walnut butter, which was quickly sopped up with baguettes. The super fresh Ahi crude, a personal favorite, was served with grilled red onion, crispy capers, parmesan puff pastry twist, pomegranate, and olive oil drizzle. The crispy salty capers added a wonderful flavor and crunchy texture to the thick sliced Ahi tuna. To embrace our inner Colorado foodie, we ordered the mustard seed dill crusted ruby red trout, with porcini wild rice blend, caramelized brussel sprouts, and a lovely orange pink peppercorn butter sauce. A truly spectacular dish that did not disappoint. So flavorful and unique, the mustard seed crust and peppercorn butter sauce beautifully complimented the trout. Another favorite Colorado inspired dish was the braised Colorado lamb shank served with saffron pistachio risotto, grilled king trumpet mushrooms, natural jus, and pickled onion green olive relish. The meat was fall-off-the-bone and melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Each dish truly embraced the local, seasonal, and authentic flavors of Colorado. We highly recommend the culinary and cultural dining experience at Relish.

TROLLEY Crêpes

 {Photo: Trolley Crêpes; banana pancake}

{Photo: Trolley Crêpes; banana pancake}

 {Photo: Trolley Crêpes; pepperoni pizza grilled cheese}

{Photo: Trolley Crêpes; pepperoni pizza grilled cheese}

Crêpes are kind of a big deal in Breckenridge. Warm and portable, these savory and sweet treats are fresh off the griddle and made to order. If you're on Main Street, though, you'll likely wait in line thirty plus minutes just to place your order. Worry not, we found another located in Main Street Station (next to Hyatt Residence Club), serving up the same quality and assortment of crêpes, minus the wait, and in a trolley! With so many options, we decided to try half a dozen to satisfy our crêpes craving. A group favorite was the ham and mushroom, with Jarlsberg cheese and a sunny side egg, pretty much perfect any time of day. Other savory options included crêpes Caprese, slammin' salmon, and steak and swiss. The sweet crêpes featured Nutella and fruit, dutch apple pie, traditional (butter, cinnamon, sugar, and honey), Brie and apples, and the must try Marscapone cheese and strawberries. Trolley Crêpes also cooks up hot soups and grilled cheese, a perfect snack après ski.

What to Do

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Breckenridge offers a variety of other activities for visitors and locals alike. 

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DOG SLED/SNOW MOBILE

If you're up for adventure, and need a day off from the slopes, we highly recommend exploring Colorado's back country via snowmobile or dog sled. Good Times Adventure is located just a few miles from downtown Breckenridge, and is an easy drive from all major resorts in the central Rockies! A local favorite and the #1 ranked activity in Breckenridge on TripAdvisor.com, Good Times delivers a once in a lifetime experience. 

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 {Photo: Good Times Adventures}

{Photo: Good Times Adventures}

The dog sledding was definitely the highlight of our trip. The beautiful and super sweet Siberian Huskies have just as much fun pulling you through the gorgeous winding trails of the Swan River Valley, as you'll have mushing the team. The 6-mile tour lasts about an hour, with scenic stops along the way. Our guide Blake was wonderful, encouraging, and enthusiastic. It's truly a unique, interactive and absolutely thrilling way to experience dog sledding and the Rocky Mountains. Bucket list - check!

Snowmobiling is one of winters most popular activities. Good Times Adventure has over 100 miles of beautiful trails to explore, and over 100 2018 Ski Doo snowmobiles, equipped with hand warmers, electric starters and back rests. Their snowmobiling adventure provides exciting thrills and access to some of the most amazing scenery in Colorado.

GONDOLA

 
 {Photo: Go2Breckenridge}

{Photo: Go2Breckenridge}

 

The Breckenridge Gondola is a popular attraction among visitors and locals alike. Operating since 2006, the gondola transports passengers to the top of Peak 8 in the Rocky Mountains, with 121 fully enclosed cabins rotating up the incline. Stretching 7,592 feet long with over 391 feet vertical rise, the ride is 26 minutes of breathtaking views roundtrip. Among the panoramic mountain views is the Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve, home to bald eagles, moose, and fox, which are visible from the glass enclosed cabins!

DAY TRIP TO VAIL

With Vail's close proximity to Breckenridge (about 30 minute drive) we jumped at the opportunity to visit this luxury ski town. Vail offers a variety of activities, but we opted for a relaxing day of shopping and exploring the European inspired village. If you arrive in time for brunch, we highly recommend Ludwig's buffet brunch in the elegant Sonnenalp Resort. Fabulous food in a sophisticated upscale restaurant with creekside views.

 {Photo: Sonnenalp}

{Photo: Sonnenalp}

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After over indulging on savory eggs Benedicts, omelets, and decadent Belgian waffles, we strolled through the cobblestone streets of Vail Village, stopping in enticing boutiques along the way. For more to do on a day (or overnight) trip, see our post, Vail is Wonderful All Four Seasons of the Year.

SHOP

 
 {Photo: Go Breck}

{Photo: Go Breck}

 

With over 200 stores to chose from, Breckenridge is a wonderful place to stroll, shop and explore. Main Street's colorful historic buildings and quaint store fronts feature boutiques, bookstores, jewelry, antiques, home furnishings, art galleries, and sporting goods. Breckenridge offers a variety of local businesses, with a large selection of handcrafts products and unique activities, including the popular Meta Yoga Studio. This Hot Yoga class was much needed after a couple long days on the slopes, for body and mind rejuvenation. Other enticing activities along Main Street include the O2 Oxygen Lounge (ideal for those trying to acclimate to the high altitude), massages, and wine tastings.

Whatever your interests, there is something for everyone in breathtaking Breckenridge. For more information about this quaint Colorado town, activities and events, or help booking your visit, go to https://www.breckenridge.com.

Lovely London is the Perfect Fall Getaway

It's our favorite season: fall. As we don't get much in the way of changing leaves and autumnal temperatures here in Palm Beach, its always fun to branch out and get away during this magical time of year. London is a great place to do this. This wonderful city is simply buzzing in fall and we love it for so many reasons. October brings many bold and beautiful colors, making this charming city of history, cobblestone streets, and pubs galore somehow more spectacular than ever.

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Getting to London

Though it is not the shortest flight, it's definitely worth it. Most flights from the east coast are red eye flights, meaning you leave late afternoon/early evening and land early morning London (GMT) time. If you can sleep on a plane, this is ideal as you will get the rest you need and wake up ready to take on London! If not, well let's just say the jet lag is real!

All major carriers fly to London, the majority of which head to the very busy Heathrow airport, although Gatwick can be just as hectic. We've done this trip MANY times and can confidently recommend the Delta/Virgin alliance as our choice airline. Virgin Atlantic (aka the flying cocktail party) is a fabulous way to travel, particularly if you're in any form of upper class. From their stellar entertainment service, accommodating staff, and a friendly atmosphere, it's a top pick every time we "cross the pond."

Customs in the U.K. can be brutal, but it has improved quite a bit in the past few years. Let's be honest, the last thing you want to do after an 8 and a half hour red eye flight is stand in a line that rivals that of Disney World the first day of spring. Alas, it is unavoidable. Though the lines may seem daunting, we promise, in our many trips to the U.K., the longest we've waited has been 40 minutes.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow are an easy train ride to central London, though we always opt for a black cab or uber. Expect to spend about an hour working your way towards zone 1, which is central London.

Where to Stay

We chose the Montague on the Gardens in a fabulous part of town. This four star hotel is part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, which also manages the Chesterfield here in Palm Beach. This pet friendly hotel is set within a Georgian building and is truly an ode to British aristocracy. 

Located in Covent Garden, famous for shopping, off Broadway plays, the adorable Apple Market, and plenty of delicious restaurants and pubs, the Montague truly offers London at your doorstep. Just across the street you will find the British Museum, down the road plenty of amazing restaurants and shops, and is a short walk from several tube stations for your exploring needs.

The Montague Hotel radiates the gentility and coziness so often associated with proper London. Steps from Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and myriad other established London attractions, the Montague offers guests a choice location in London's west-end.

We were struck by the high ceilings, heavy drapery, and spacious rooms. The hotel is appointed luxuriously, the lobby staff is kind and welcoming, the lounge, dining room, and tea garden inviting and understatedly elegant.

The Montague overlooks no detail, from the welcoming rooms, to kind and inviting staff, and the wonderful location makes this hotel a must visit.

The hotel is located at 15 Montague Street, London, WC1B 5BJ. For more information, visit their website or call +44(0)20 7637 1001.

What to Eat

Tea Time at the Montague

You absolutely cannot go to London without enjoying a spot of high tea. This British ritual was started in 1840 by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Reportedly, as lunch was often served at noon sharp and dinner not until 8:00 p.m., the Duchess would get hungry at around four o'clock in the afternoon. Her solution was to have her household staff prepare tea, small sandwiches and cakes to be served. After time she would invite her friends and this countryside born informal meal quickly became the fashion of aristocrats in London as she continued with her afternoon entertaining during season.

 {Photo:  The Montague Hotel }

If you're staying at the Montague, you'll find a delicious and traditional afternoon tea served in the conservatory or terrace overlooking the Bloomsbury Gardens. The staff are extremely helpful, so if you aren't confident in your selection of teas (of which they have many!), they will explain them all and even make recommendations for how to doctor it up. We chose a selection of lady grey and earl grey teas, followed by a Darjeeling black tea to finish.

Afternoon tea at the Montague consists of traditional finger sandwiches with a gourmet twist! We found the bread to be moist and delicious, offering options such as smoked salmon, cucumber, egg and chicken salad. The tea cakes and petit four were also delightful and included a selection of chocolate brownies, macarons with caremel coffee cream, a raspberry tart with lemon, miniature cheesecakes and of course scones to finish complete with Devonshire clotted creme and preserves. The staff were very attentive and we never has to ask for anything! They offer to refill any tier of your tea as you like, which we find we never have need for but is always nice to offer. You can also choose to add champagne to your afternoon tea, which is always a fun treat!

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Photo Oct 26, 08 44 34.jpg

In addition to traditional afternoon tea, the Montague also offer a fun safari themed menu, which includes an alternative selection of finger sandwiches such as African spiced chicken and apricot, an array of tempting treats including Giraffe macaron with salted caramel, toasted coconut mousse, banana meringue, and an extensive selection of traditional, flavoured, aromatic, fruit and green teas and freshly baked scones. The tea is also served with their signature Leopard Cocktail, which is made with Amarula cream liquor and adorably decorated with leopard spots and paw print.

Dinner at the English Grill

Steps away from Buckingham palace is the The Rubens at the Palace, an establishment that truly exudes the old London feel that we love so much. When we think of London, we think of fog, Big Ben, and of course the Queen. The English Grill brings you one step closer to the latter, where you can truly dine like royalty. The kitchen at the English Grill is proud to say that their purveyors come from the very same suppliers as the Queen’s kitchen.

Upon entering the English Grill we immediately noticed the open window kitchen, strategically placed in what feels like the geometric center such that all tables can see the kitchen and the movement from within, livening the room.

When dining at an establishment such as the English Grill, we felt duty bound to keep on the path traditional selections offered on their stellar menu. For our first course, we tried the black pudding scotch egg and the duo of smoked salmon. The scotch egg was rich with complex savory flavors that enhanced a traditional English favorite. The salmon was presented as a duo of Irish and Scottish smoked salmon. Both dishes were exquisite.

For the mains, we had the signature tomahawk steak, and the dover sole, with savory sides such as the duck fat potatoes and creamed spinach. The sole was delicate and flavorful, the steak rich and bold. The meal itself was wonderful and enhanced by the wine pairings that were suggested by the restaurants sommelier.

 {Black Pudding Scotch Egg}

{Black Pudding Scotch Egg}

 {Duo of Salmon}

{Duo of Salmon}

 {Signature Tomahawk Steak}

{Signature Tomahawk Steak}

The restaurant boasts its own range of fine wines, which come from the cellars of Bouchard Finlayson Winery in South Africa, a sister company to the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. The sommelier kindly took the time to guide us through each variety with a selection of three wines per course. The pairings of white ranged from buttery to fuller bodied, with each of the three representing a step towards a fuller bodied wine. The reds were also presented in escalating tiers that, as our sommelier explained, began with a delicate South African pinot and concluded with a bold blended grape that is proprietary to the vineyard. All six wines were pleasing to the palate and the entire meal was an experience we recommend highly.

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Other Dining Spots We Love
Getting Around

The London Underground is the oldest underground line in the world. It first opened in January of 1863 with the Metropolitan line. Both the Mayor of London and Transport for London take great pride in its cleanliness and efficiency. It is certainly the best way to get around London. Pick up an Oyster Card on your first day and either top up the amount on the card or pay daily travel rates. Your Oyster Card will work on all forms of public transport including the tube, trains, double decker buses and even the Thames River ferry boats!

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What to Do

Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Each week at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday you can watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This ceremony starts at 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes. This is a free event, so be sure to arrive early to secure a spot with a good view!

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See Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

Stop to see the famous Trafalgar Square and statue of Nelson’s Column, a monument built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1805 that is guarded by four lions. The famous square is a short walk from Covent Garden and the Montague, as well as the Houses of Parliament, Big Bed and Westminster Abbey. Here you will also find the National Gallery which houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900, including Van Gough's Sunflowers. The museum is free to enter, however they do accept donations.

Take a Trip on the London Eye

Just across the bridge from Parliament on the south bank of the River Thames is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel Offering one of the highest public viewing points in London, this amazing giant ferris wheel was constructed in 2000 and is one of the best ways to take in a view of entire city. Pick up tickets online to beat the line.

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Tour London's Many markets

  • Borough Market: Enjoy a market that dates back 1014 AD near Waterloo station in London! The Borough Markets, originally created for Londoners to buy and sell every day products like grain, fruit, vegetables, fish and livestock, is today an amazing marketplace with hundreds of boasts stalls choked full of wordily goods with everything from pheasant to sea urchin, classic fish & chips, curry houses, exotic meats and more.
  • Portobello Market: Tucked away in sleepy Notting Hill are the street stalls and antique shops that make up Portobello Road and on Saturday's, the Portobello Market. Make sure to stop into the original Hummingbird Bakery Cafe for a coffee and sweet treat!
  • Apple Market: Located in Covent Garden, just a short walk from the Montague Hotel, is the adorable and versatile Apple Market. Largely an artisanal market, here you will find vendors with plenty of adorable handmade goods. It's like touring a physical store with all your favorite Etsy shops! What more could you ask for?
  • Colombia Road Flower Market: If you're looking for a truly authentic British experience, the Colombia Road Flower Markets are a must-do. Known mostly by Londoners, this not so touristic location will show you how to real British people haggle - over flowers! It's truly an intriguing sight. Grown men shout and haggle over beautiful floral bunches of flowers coming from large trucks as far as the eye can see! Stop by, grab a coffee and stroll the streets as you take in the one-of-a-kind experience that is the Colombia Flower Market.
  • Brick Lane: If you're not sure what kind of curry to go for, Brick Lane pretty much has them all. Less a market than a grouping of London's curry house experts all along one street in East London, here you will be greeted by the many restauranteur's who line the streets bargaining for your patron. You can haggle over everything that might be included in your agreed price, an interesting experience to be sure!
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Visit the Sky Garden atop the Walkie Talkie

On top of one of London's newest sky scrapers you will find a three story 'sky garden'. This amazing space is atop the 20 Fenchurch building (fondly nicknamed the 'walkie talkie' building by Londoners), and boasts views of the entire city. During the day guests are required to book in advance. However, you can go up from 6:00 p.m. onwards if you simply wait in line. This was actually perfect for us as we hoped to catch the sunset (and did!). There is a bar in the center, live entertainment at night and two restaurants to choose from. It was one of our favorite new experiences in this amazing city.

Take a Ferry to the Greenwich Mean Time Center

Just a short ferry ride away is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, Greater London. Here, you can stand at the centre of world time and learn all about how great scientists first mapped the seas and the stars. Home to the Prime Meridian Line, you can literally straddle both of the world's hemispheres. It's a wonderful experience and a fascinating museum.

Walk Hyde Park

Hyde Park is known all around the world for is outstanding gardens, beautiful and quiet paths, and proximity to tBuckingham Palace. More than just a garden, locals can do much outdoor activity in the park from taking a stroll to boating, tennis, and even horse riding. We suggest a walk through the gardens on your way to the palace for the Changing of the Guard!

Go On A Jack the Ripper Tour of Old London

Ok this one may not be for everyone, but we found it fascinating! Less gruesome than historical, we walked with a group of other curious history-lovers through cobblestone streets learning first and foremost about East London during the Victorian era. Our guide was knowledgable, personable, and interesting. We got to see some original buildings from hundreds of years ago, learned interesting facts about where buildings once stood and others have been updated, and yes, of course, learned about each and every woman that were a victim of the infamous Jack the Ripper. Wear comfortable shoes, we probably covered 4-5 miles in total throughout the walk.

Changing of Seasons in New York City

There's something magical about the last long days of summer in New York City. The restless bustle is in flux as many residents stay, while others choose to spend weekends at the beach in the Hamptons or our in New England. This might be the best time in New York City. The long sunny days end with cool nights and there's something crisp in the air that you can almost feel. 

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When it comes to choosing where to stay, SoHo is our top pick. It's cobblestone streets and short buildings makes this village feel like a residential nook within the vast metropolis. Coupled with the many flagship stores for fashion brands across the globe, quaint cafes, delectable restaurants and accessibility to greater New York City, SoHo is by far and away our favorite neighborhood to spend time in.

Where to Stay
 {Photo:  SoHo Grand }

{Photo: SoHo Grand}

The SoHo Grand is an amazing hotel located right on West Broadway in the heart of this bustling neighborhood. Famous for establishing itself as Manhattan’s first luxury downtown boutique hotel, you'll find this gem alongside world renowned art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. The luxurious rooms, fine dining, balcony views and locale are among some of our favorite highlights. Walk out the front doors and head north a block to find famous Parisian restaurant and pastry shop LaDuree, head up to Lure Fishbar for fresh oysters and wine, make your way east and stumble upon a high end fashion photo shoot or accidentally run into a screening for major motion picture or hot new TV show. 

While we adore the location of this chic hotel, we can't say enough about the service. The helpful staff will always point you in the right direction. They seemed to anticipate all of our needs. Though the hotel was nearly full, they took our bags upon arrival and called us when our room was ready. We found the check in staff very helpful, and bellman to have plenty of tips for the area. The bartender at the Grand Bar & Lounge was really nice and made a seriously mean old fashioned cocktail!

 {Photo:  SoHo Grand }

{Photo: SoHo Grand}

 {Photo:  SoHo Grand }

{Photo: SoHo Grand}

Where to Eat

New York City is not only the city that never sleeps, it is the city of perpetual eating. With hundreds of new restaurants every year turning over, there is always something fresh and fun to excite your taste buds. When we go to NYC, we're always torn between stopping into our old haunts, the quintessential New York classics, or trying out the new fad spots in town. This trip we did a mix of it all. From Kats Deli to new Japanese ice cream shops, we certainly made the most of this trip where food was concerned!

 
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Katz's Delicatessen is a New York staple, and was on our list of must-do's whilst in the big apple. This kosher deli serves up cured, smoked and carved meats, delicious pickles, deli salads, knishes, french fries and of course, matzo ball soup! Established in 1888, Katz's is family owned and operated and world famous. If you're headed to New York, be sure to stop by and try their classic reuben - it might be as good as Meg Ryan intimates in 'When Harry Met Sally'.

 Katz's Matzo Ball Soup

Katz's Matzo Ball Soup

 Katz's Deli Counter

Katz's Deli Counter

 Katz's Classic Reuben

Katz's Classic Reuben

A few other favorites that we had to stop by included:

What to Do

There are literally thousands of things we could recommend. Since we were only there for a long weekend (and honestly, how much can you fit in around all the food you plan on eating, right?!), we'll drop in some of our favorite ways to spend a long weekend in NYC.

Take a Stroll Through Central Park

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Cliche or not, Central Park is truly one of a kind. We love starting our park stroll at Columbus Circle and making our way northeast through the rocky area where you can get a pretty good view of Manhattan, up through the main thoroughfare choked full of painters and vendors, to the Loeb Boathouse and to the model boat sailing pond - hitting all of our favorites. Bonus - going this route will put you out on the Upper East Side near J G Melon. Go on, you've earned it!

Stop Off at Pier 66 for a Drink on the Hudson

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The Frying Pan is generally more a place we find local New Yorkers, but we're happy to share the secret of this amazing restaurant and boat bar with our readers! Built in 1929, Lightship #115 Frying Pan guarded its namesake, Frying Pan Shoals, 30 miles off of Cape Fear, NC, from 1930 to 1965. Today, it is permenantly docked at Pier 66 in the west side of Manhattan and is open to the public for you to enjoy. Stop in at sunset and grab a bottle of wine. The buzzy atmosphere and always beautiful coastline views are impressive.

The Oculus and 9/11 Memorial

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New construction turned the once devastating site of the Twin Towers to a moving monument to commemorate the 9/11 attack on America. Though it can be hard for many to visit, this memorial is beautifully moving, and was erected as a place of remembrance. Two beautiful fountains stand where the skyscrapers once stood, serving as the country's principal place to pay homage to the lives of those who were lost is at the heart of the 9/11 terror attack. Stop by to pay your respects via the subway and you can also take a look at the brand new Oculus adjacent to the memorial and museum.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry to See the Statue of Liberty

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While Staten Island may not be an obvious tourist spot, the ferry that takes residents to and from the island is. Why? Because it's boats some of the greatest views of the Statue of Liberty, and best of all, it's free! Hop on for an impressive glimpse of lady liberty on the ferry, which leaves lower Manhattan several times throughout the day. The city has often discussed taxing tourists for use of the ferry boats, but for now at least you can still take a ride for nothing at all. You're welcome.

Shopping in SoHo

Practically synonymous with SoHo is SHopping. From major fashion retail brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, DVF and many others to high street brands like H&M and Zara, plus sample sales galore, SoHo is the absolute mecca for our shopping lovers out there. Meander the cobblestone streets of SoHo like a true New Yorker with bags full of luxurious finds a la Sex & the City. We promise, it's the best shopping on the East Coast.

North Georgia Wine Country

Wine enthusiasts, venture no further than the foothills of the North Georgia mountains to enjoy picturesque panoramic views and award-winning wines. Dahlonega is known as the Heart of Georgia Wine Country and the Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia, with the highest concentration of vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms in the state. Home to twelve wine tasting rooms and five wineries, Dahlonega offers a variety of local, regional, and international wines to locals and visitors alike. 

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These stunning North Georgia wineries and vineyards offer homegrown hospitality and premier wine and food experiences. The favorable mountain elevations and growing conditions contribute to the region’s expanding wine industry, which annually produces close to 100 acres of a variety of European, French hybrid, and American wine grapes.

Each of the distinct winery venues offer tours, tastings, and stunning scenic views. We experienced three of North Georgia's renowned vineyards, and had an incredible day tasting a variety of wines with the most impressive backdrops. We recommend hiring a driver for the afternoon, so you can thoroughly enjoy all that Georgia Wine Country has to offer!

Montaluce Winery
 {Photo: Montaluce Vineyards}

{Photo: Montaluce Vineyards}

 {Photo: Montaluce Vineyards}

{Photo: Montaluce Vineyards}

This breathtaking destination features a modern, 25,000 square-foot facility reminiscent of a grand Tuscan villa with sweeping views of their vineyards and the Appalachian Mountains. Upon arrival, you will feel the beauty of Tuscany, the experience of Sonoma, and the hospitality of the South. As the first stop on our wine tour, we chose the lovely Montaluce terrace for a picture perfect lunch overlooking the vineyards. The bold wines paired with burrata, prosciutto and honey havarti grilled cheese was heavenly. 

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Montaluce offers wine tastings, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, free daily tours, four privately owned Tuscan style rental villas, wine hikes and private tastings, private event, meeting and rehearsal space, and a gorgeous wedding venue and event team. Reservations are recommended for the restaurant, but are not needed for wine tastings and daily free tours.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards
 
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With over 200 medals in Major US Competitions, including Georgia's first ever winery to win Best-in-Class and double Gold Medals at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles International Wine competitions, Wolf Mountain has established itself as a leader in fine wine production on the east coast.

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These accolades, along with their combination of Traditional European and Southern Regional Cuisine, make Wolf Mountain one of Georgia's premier wine and food destination, and a leader in fine wine production on the East Coast.

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Their picturesque pastoral hillside vineyards, fieldstone-encased winery, and hospitality facilities make the picture perfect setting for experiencing their handcrafted wines. Wolf Mountain offers winery tours, estate tastings, Vineyard weddings, Sunday brunch, café lunch, and gourmet dinners.

Three Sisters
 {Photo: The Cellars Club}

{Photo: The Cellars Club}

 {Photo: Grapes and Hops ATL}

{Photo: Grapes and Hops ATL}

Three Sisters Vineyards is "Dahlonega's First Family Farm Winery" and Lumpkin County's founding wine grape grower. This beautiful 184 acre property hosts weddings, special events and is the annual home of the Georgia Wine Country Festival.

With a laid back atmosphere, Three Sisters' Tasting Room welcomes wine and art lovers with a unique collection of Georgia and Southern folk art. Relax on the casual Crush Pad Deck and Rock Wall Patio with a glass of wine. If you're with a large group, we recommend purchasing a few bottles of wine and sharing on the patio. Our favorite was the Fat Boy Red.

What Leah Is Wearing

Shane Short Overalls: Lovers + Friends (on sale). Stripe Long Sleeve Tee (like this): Splendid (on sale). Red "Guacho" Bandana: Scotch & Soda. All Star Low Top Sneaker: Converse.

Majestic Maine

Maine is full of beautiful coastline and off shore islands that flourish in the summer months, earning the New England state the name 'vacationland'. Just a half hour outside of busy Portland, lies the quiet and subdued coastal town of Prouts Neck. With fewer than 200 homes in total, this seasonal community is a quiet escape for families from all over the country, many of whom have been summering there for generations.

In Prouts Neck, homes rarely come up for sale, and are rather passed down through generations, or quietly sold off-market to friends or the family members of neighbors. It has even been reported that the majestic local hotel, the Black Point Inn, was purchased by a group of residents who set an agreement to let only a certain number of rooms at any given time.

Luckily, our editor in chief was invited by family friends who own a cliff top home in this beautiful town. From local lobster shacks to farmers markets, light houses, sailing lessons and everything in between, we've got the insiders scoop on the best kept secret in Maine.

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Where to Stay

If you want to stay in Prouts Neck, the clear winner is the Black Point Inn. However, getting a room can be tricky. The stunning coastal views that are boasted right in front of the luxury boutique hotel attract many a bride and groom. This means that there is a wedding at the inn nearly every weekend in the spring and summer. If you plan to stay in Prouts Neck and want a room at the Black Point Inn, book early!

The hotel itself is nearly 140 years old and is stunningly beautiful. Complete with a wrap around balcony for drinks and dining, a great restaurant, and a pool (in Maine? Oh yes indeedy), the Black Point Inn is five star living in style. It is also located right next to an amphitheater where they do summer entertainment, and best of all, has a row of large lawn chairs to sip cocktails and watch the lovely summer sunsets.

If you don't get lucky with a room at the Black Point Inn, you can try to get a room in one of the nearby towns like Scarborough, or Cape Elizabeth.

What to Do & Where to Eat

Almost everything in Prouts Neck beckons you to the out doors. While this community may be very small, it has a local yacht club, beach club, and country club, all offering a range of activities from tennis to golf, sailing, beach lounging, and even night time activities like square dancing lessons and group singalongs.

On our first day in Maine, we decided to stop by Flaherty's Market to stock up on plenty of at home items for the house, such as coffee, fresh locally made jams, pies, cheese and locally grown vegetables. If you have a chance to stop by this market, make sure to pick up their blueberry jam. Maine is famous for its wealth of wild blueberries, and they make jam in many varieties, some traditional, and some interesting! We also discovered an amazing cheddar and horseradish creamy blend of cheese that apparently, you won't find anywhere else. If you visit this area in Maine, be sure to ask about it.

Lastly, we also stopped by the farmhouse of a local family in the lobster business to buy fresh caught lobster right our of their garage, then made our way home for our first night in with a family style Maine lobster dinner.

 Flaherty's Market - Lobsters for sale

Flaherty's Market - Lobsters for sale

 Flaherty's Market

Flaherty's Market

 Flaherty's Market

Flaherty's Market

Even in the summer time, the temperature can drastically change from morning to night in Maine. While it was hot and sunny during the day, by the time we returned home with dinner, the fog began to roll in. The mystic scenery is beautiful at twilight, and we decided to build a fire and enjoy the scenery for a bit before we set to the task of prepping our feast. For dinner, we steamed our lobsters, made drawn butter (of course!), corn on the cob, and a salad to top it all off.

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Every so often in Maine, the fog will linger and you'll have a long, cool, and some times rainy day. After breakfast, the rain subdued enough to venture out the front of the house along the clifftop walk. Carved out along the neck off the wild Atlantic is a lush trail that quickly goes from green bushes of blueberries and flowers to a rocky ocean-side terrain. The beaches were full of pebbles to collect and put in jars, and we had a great time taking fun photos, looking out for lighthouses, lobsterers and fisherman.

After a few miles of clifftop walking, we were starving for lunch! In the nearby town of Scarborough we found an adorable seafood shack on the side of the road called Scarborough Lobster. As you can see, they proudly ranked top lobster roll in town. We had to give one a try! It was delicious, and the perfect treat to stave us off just enough for the home made chowder we had planned for that night.

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A few other local restaurants that came highly recommend included the Two Lights Lobster Shack, Rising Tide, Salty Bay Seafood Take-Out, Pine Point Grill, and Ken's Place. We also strongly recommend stopping by the Holy Donut, a local favorite! The are made out of potatoes, so its a real unique treat to try out. Reportedly, the location in Portland has a lone down the street all day long! 

It was bright and sunny the following morning, so we decided to take bikes out after breakfast. Prouts Neck is easily bike-able, just about everything is a 5-10 minute bike ride away. We saw plenty of people biking with children, in groups to play tennis, and even some who carried their golf bags on their back as they biked home from the local country club.

Stopping into the local beach club, we made sure to pick up more lobster for lunch and enjoyed it seaside at the cafe on the beach. Afterwards, we took a stroll long the beach to collect more stones and scout lobster boats. We were told the go out first thing in the morning, around midday, and once again just before the legal lobstering day ends at 4pm. There were ons of lobster boats, both big and small, buzzing around just off the coast, and it was fun to watch them at work.

 Prouts Neck Beach Club

Prouts Neck Beach Club

 Prouts Neck Yacht Club

Prouts Neck Yacht Club

We had a treat in store that afternoon. The kind family who sold us lobsters on our first night invited us to go out on a lobster run with them! They picked us up at the Prouts Neck Yacht Club and we made a wide circle around two barrier islands off the coast. The captain and crew made several stops to pull up traps and stow lobsters. They explained how the traps work, the legal hours to bait and pick up lobsters, which ones you should tag and put back in the water, and much more. They even let us help, and we bought some of the lobster we caught to cook fresh for dinner that night.

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The following day we decided to check out Two Lights State Park, a nearby coastal park and observatory that first opened in 1961. Encompassing 41-acres of rocky headlands, the park stands  high above the rocky coast and rolling surf providing views of nearby Casco Bay and the open Atlantic. Local fisherman had been reporting whales in the region, and we were lucky enough to spot a few not far off the coast from the park.

Two Lights is a must-do if you're in the region. Besides the breathtaking views and potential to see wildlife, the park is also famous for the twin lighthouses located nearby, for which it got its namesake. Built in 1828, the two were the very first twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine. The eastern light is still active and cane be seen from 17 miles away while at sea. The western light was built in 1924, but is not currently active and is instead a private home. 

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We couldn't leave Maine without a bit of sailing, so arranged for a boat and captain for our last day in Prouts Neck from the local yacht club. We all took turns steering the boat, and went from coast to coast in our two hour journey, searching for wildlife, and taking photos of the coastline from the Atlantic. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and highly recommend giving it a try if you're in the area.

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Though this small and quiet community can be difficult to gain access to, we highly recommend giving it a try. Its peaceful tranquility provides the perfect atmosphere to 'switch off', enjoy the outdoors, and some much needed rest and relaxation. If you manage to book a stay in Prouts Neck, we promise you will leave feeling more wholesome and happy than you've been in a long time.

 
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Picturesque Palm Beach Staycation

Summer is coming to a close, and if you're like us, you want to squeeze in one more poolside and mimosa-filled weekend before hurricane season (and back to school) is in full swing. No time to plan, and don't want to spend hours on a plane? Well we have your dream staycation right here in the most picturesque place on the planet: Palm Beach. And with so many summer specials, Palm Beach is the perfect (and affordable) vacation for you and your loved one(s). 

 {Photo: The Brazilian Court Entrance}

{Photo: The Brazilian Court Entrance}

Where to Stay

The Brazilian Court hotel is a Palm Beach staple, and one of our favorite places on the island. This luxurious boutique hotel features elegant Spanish Colonial architecture and lush tropical courtyards, surrounded by 80 elegant and sophisticated rooms. The Gilded Age glamour and  impeccable service create an unforgettable experience.

A Five Star Experience: Enjoy world class cuisine by the internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud, or order room service for a relaxed dining experience in your white robe and slippers. Lounge poolside in the tranquil, secluded, palm-lined pool, while sipping champagne. Be pampered at Frédéric Fekkai Salon, or relax in the courtyard cabanas. 

During the summer season, The Brazilian Court offers rooms starting at $167/night, in addition to dining and drink specials. 

 {Photo: The Brazilian Court Pool}

{Photo: The Brazilian Court Pool}

 {Photo: The Brazilian Court Courtyard}

{Photo: The Brazilian Court Courtyard}

 {Photo: Cafe Boulud Terrace}

{Photo: Cafe Boulud Terrace}

What to Do

The beach is always a vacation highlight, and the Brazilian Court is only blocks from it. Enjoy the sapphire warm water and a morning summer stroll. Also nearby is Worth Avenue, one of the most beautiful and iconic shopping venues in the country. Shop (or window shop) your favorite brands and boutiques while enjoying the charming architecture, old world charm, and immaculate landscaping. If you haven't heard, during the summer months the Worth Avenue Association's Worth the Drive experience makes shopping and dining deals along the strip even sweeter. You can also explore hidden corridors along the streets famed 'vias' and get lost in the captivating beauty of Palm Beach.

Visit one of Palm Beach's awe-inspiring museums, including The Henry Flagler Museum and The Society of the Four Arts Botanical Gardens, or cross the bridge to visit the Norton Museum and Gardens in West Palm Beach.

 {Photo: Worth Avenue}

{Photo: Worth Avenue}

 {Photo: Flagler Museum}

{Photo: Flagler Museum}

 {Photo: Society of the Four Arts Botanical Gardens}

{Photo: Society of the Four Arts Botanical Gardens}

Where to Eat

There are plenty of exceptional eats on Palm Beach, from a casual bite to a formal affair. Here are some of our favorite spots serving up fierce food and an elevated dining experience:

It's easy to get lost in the charm and elegance that is Palm Beach. Summer specials allow you to take advantage of everything Palm Beach has to offer, without breaking the bank (or traveling!) So squeeze in some R&R before the prices rise and the snowbirds return. With fall right around the corner, fall in love with Palm Beach. 

 
 {Photo: Palm Beach by Captain Kimo}

{Photo: Palm Beach by Captain Kimo}

 

Vibrant Vancouver

Last month we traveled to the Western side of Canada to visit Vancouver. The city is full of life and one of the most beautiful places we've ever been. There are many reasons to visit Vancouver, from terrific food, to fun nightlife, summer events and outdoor activities, the Canadian jewel on Pacific coast quickly became a top travel pick, and somewhere we can't wait to visit again!

Getting There

Vancouver is one of Canada's largest metropolitan areas. Their flagship airport, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), is about 20 minutes from the downtown area and is consistently rated one of the best airports in North America. According to the city's official Vancouver tourism website, there are more than a dozen international flights in and out of YVR every day, with 22 alone bound for the United States. Needless to say, this wonderful city if quite accessible by plane.

While traveling by air is ideal from far distances, there are other, more adventurous means of transportation. For shorter distances, like traveling from Seattle, Washington, you can choose to drive, hop on a bus or train, or even take a ferry! Arriving by rail offers sightseeing at its finest, offering a front row seat to the beautiful surroundings of British Colombia. Check train times with the VIA Rail’s transcontinental service, the Rocky Mountaineer two-day rail tour, from Alberta, and fromt he U.S. there's the Amtrak Cascades route between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, via Portland and Seattle. Ferries travel frequently between Vancouver and Seattle, allowing you to take in the scenery by boat and potentially spot magnificent wildlife along the way. Check out BC Ferries for times and rates.

Where to Stay

We chose the Pan Pacific Vancouver for a few reasons. First, you can't beat the views. The Pan Pacific is located right on the water on the north side of the city, boasting generous views of the mountains just beyond. It's also conveniently located next to the cruise port. As many Vancouver visitors are embarking for Alaska, this makes it an ideal choice for continued travel.

Pan Pacific Vancouver was the perfect blend of luxury and comfort. The beds were cozy with top notch linens, everything was clean, and it has terrific amenities. Even in summer it can get chilly in Vancouver at night, and the heated outdoor saltwater pool was much appreciated. The hotel is also centrally located to many tourism activities, such as Gastown, Stanley Park, the Sea Aquarium and many terrific restaurants.

Getting Around

Vancouver is an entirely walkable city. While it is wide, we only took an uber ride once or twice while there, usually at the end of the day when we were simply too tired to make the trek back. If you're not up for walking everywhere, they do have plenty of local transit options, including buses, a SkyTrain, and even SeaBus! If you have your own car, download the EasyPark Parking App, which shows a map of parking lots in the city.

What to Do

Where to start! We only had a few days in Vancouver, but made sure to fill them with fun - we didn't want to miss a thing. On day one, it's always nice to get your bearings in a new city. We decided to start by walking down the main road through Vancouver called Granville Street. Home to countless restaurants, bars and shops, Granville Street cuts through the heart of the city, connecting its chic north area with the trendy southend. After about an hour or so meandering our way south, we wound our way down the bridge to the Granville Island Public Market. The market is a literal smorgasbord of fresh seafood, locally sourced and exotic cheeses, farm grown fruit and vegetables, bakery treats, and Canadian food items galore. Located right on the water, the indoor/outdoor market is packed with people, both locals and tourists alike, sampling delicious food items, savoring drinks, and enjoying music played by local buskers jamming on every corner.

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At the top of our list of things to see and do in Vancouver was the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Swaying gently over the Capilano Canyon is the world's first, longest (459 feet) and highest (230 feet) suspension bridge. This unique park invites guests to walk over a roaring white water river, stroll through the treetops with squirrels and birds, and walk along the glass-bottomed cliffside walkway to take in some of the most breathtaking views we've ever seen. Built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer commissioned by the government, the famous suspension bridge can hold the weight of 97 elephants, 203 moose, or 4,520 beavers! 

The park is easy to get to, offering a free shuttle service from Canada Place and hotels in the downtown area. It takes you through Stanley Park, across the magnificent Lion Bridge and up into the mountainous landscape beyond.

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Vancouver is home to much impressive wildlife, and it's no surprise that they boast an award winning sea aquarium. Home to more than 9,000 animals, at the Vancouver Aquarium you can see Beluga whales, sea otters, sharks, walrus and even has a walk-through rainforest area of birds, turtles and a sloth. The aquarium is located within Stanley Park on the other side of the Lion Suspension Bridge from Capilano. Both the park and the aquarium are an easy stop off point when heading back to downtown Vancouver from the suspension bridge park.

Another must-do attraction is Vancouver Island. Located southwest of Vancouver, this beautiful botanical island is the most populated landmass between western North America and New Zealand! The colorful, quirky island is home to much wildlife and several attractions, including the world renowned Butchart Gardens. With more than 50 acres of colorful and aromatic flowers, highlights of the Butchart Gardens include the famed Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, and the magnificent Ross Fountain. If you visit in summer, consider staying for the Butchart Gardens' spectacular illuminations. Butchart Gardens staff utilize thousands of lights to bring out a different look and feel to the gardens, creating a memorizing display of colorful perfection.

The most common way to get to Vancouver Island is by boat. We decided to combine our trip with a whale watching tour, a real highlight! We chose the Whales & Gardens Tour with the Prince of Whales team, which embarks from the boat docks just near our hotel and Stanley Park. The whole trip, including bus transfers to the gardens, will take 5-6 hours. We spotted tons of wildlife and did see a group of Killer Whales. Pack warm though! The air temperature on the water was chilly even midday in July.

Where to Eat

Our first day in Vancouver, we decided to try the famed farm-to-table restaurant, Fable. A local favorite, Fable has a rustic-chic ambiance that is almost a trendy as its food. These perfectly balanced bistro dishes showcase the best of locally grown seasonal ingredients. We went for the Butcher's Cut and Smoked Duck Breast, then wrapped it up by sharing the Rhubarb Custard. The gourmet comfort food made us feel right at home. Though its been open a few years now, the still packed restaurant can be difficult to get into. Reservations are strongly recommended.

After a long day out in north Vancouver enjoying the suspension bridge park and the aquarium, we really worked up an appetite! While walking back to our hotel from Stanley Park, we stumbled upon Cardero's, an adorable harbourside restaurant with tons of fresh seafood and a great wine list. We started with a dozen Kusshi Oysters, which are local to Vancouver and my absolute favorite, and then moved onto their impressive seafood menu. It was at Cardero's that I discovered Black Cod, the delicate and buttery Pacific Ocean fish that has since set me on a course to seek it out everywhere I go. The restaurant was the perfect mixture of casual dining with an upscale atmosphere, only made better by the breathtaking view of the harbour and mountains just beyond.

Before heading out of town, we stopped at Jam Café, which we heard a lot about. Don't be intimidated by the line that always seems to be out the door and down the block. The food at Jam Café is really delicious and, if you don't mind waiting 20-30  minutes for a table, is sure to leave you feeling full and happy. We chose the boneless buttermilk fried Chicken N' Waffles, and the Pork Belly Benedict. In hindsight, we probably should have chosen one and split it between us. The portions are hearty and generous to say the least!

Vancouver is a wonderful city that is beautifully juxtaposed by the outdoor wonderland just beyond. Rich in life and culture, if you've never visited this vibrant city, consider putting it at the top of your travel wish list. It is sure not to disapoint.

Spiritual Stay in Sedona, Arizona

There is definitely something special about Sedona, Arizona. One of the most beautiful and intriguing sceneries in the world, this city boasts red rock buttes and sacred vortex formations that will leave you wowed at worst, and spiritually awakened at best. A vortex is a natural geomagnetic point where energy is entering into, or radiating from the earth's plane, and moves in a spiral, forming unique rock formations and twisted plant life. There are other vortex sites throughout the world, including Stonehenge, Ayers Rock, Machu Picchu, and the Great Pyramids, but Sedona's vortex energy is reported to be among the strongest. These beneficial energy sources are said to facilitate balance, prayer, healing, and intuitiveness.

Traveling back from the Grand Canyon, it was an easy decision to add Sedona to our Arizona adventure. Sedona is located two hours from Phoenix and two hours from the Grand Canyon. The stunning landscape, Southwest inspired grub, vibrant art scene, and overall way of life in Sedona easily made it one of my new favorite destinations. 

Where to Eat

We stumbled upon some incredible eats while staying in Sedona. If you're a health nut, vegan, or just like fresh, organic food, The ChocolaTree was our fave casual place to dine. Their extensive menu covers everything from fresh juices, smoothies, and starters to energizing entrees and decadent desserts. A peaceful and inviting outdoor space equipped with tranquil water features, hammocks, and wind chimes is the perfect place to relax and recharge.

Mariposa Latin inspired Grill was an outstanding upscale dining experience that we encountered while exploring Sedona. The South-American inspired food, flawless service, and panoramic sunset views were beyond impressive. Architecturally striking, inviting fire lit outdoor spaces, contemporary decor, creative menu and sizable wine list, Mariposa is sure to deliver a unique and unforgettable evening. Chef Lisa Dahl has three other restaurants in Sedona, all of which are award winning and worthy of a visit. 

For authentic Southwestern fare, we stumbled upon El Rincon, known as Sedona's best and most visited Mexican restaurant with a native Navajo flair. Tucked away in the picturesque Tlaquepaque (no, that's not a typo), El Rincon offers indoor/outdoor seating and the freshest Mexican cuisine and margaritas. Before or after dining, stroll through the charming corridors of Tlaquepaque, which is a great transition to the "What to Do" section.

What To Do

HIKING - Every morning we woke up before dawn to beat the heat on the hiking trails. Day one we hiked Bell Tower and Courthouse Butte, a moderate 4.5 mile vortex trail, popular among hikers and bikers alike. The circular rock formations here look extraterrestial, and coincidentally, several UFO sightings have occurred here. This is said to be one of the strongest vortexes, and no climbing is required. This rock formation is iconic in Sedona, and a must see. I also recommend hiking Cathedral Rock, another stunning vortex rock formation lined with twisted Juniper trees and agave plants. To reach the trails' end, it is definitely an advanced hike and climb, but absolutely worth it for the views. 

BELL ROCK & COURTHOUSE BUTTE

CATHEDRAL ROCK

GOLFING - My husband is an avid golfer, so when presented with world class golf courses and no humidity, he had to squeeze in a couple rounds. Seven Canyons at Enchantment Resort is the most acclaimed course in Sedona, with varying elevations surrounded by red rocks and ancient ponderosa pines. Sedona Golf Resort is another top notch course, winding around the famed red rock. Also renowned for it's stunning views, this course continually receives four star ratings from Golf Digest. We stayed at Poco Diablo, which offers a 9 hole par 3 course. While it was a nice bonus as a guest of the hotel, I wouldn't go out of your way to play there.

 Seven Canyons at Enchantment Resort

Seven Canyons at Enchantment Resort

 Sedona Golf Resort

Sedona Golf Resort

 Poco Diablo

Poco Diablo

SHOPPING - Tlaquepaque is know as the arts and crafts village in Sedona. Be sure to carve out some time to discover everything this distinctive and charming shopping destination has to offer. Among the boutiques are 19 distinguished art galleries, precious-stone Kachinas, cask-aged vinegars, wines and spirits, and Native American jewelry, clothing and home decor. Several restaurants and sweet spots are scattered throughout, creating the perfect way to spend a day in Sedona. Another popular shopping destination is Hillside Sedona. This renowned plaza is home to a collection of fine art galleries, offering a diverse portfolio of art, sculpture, pottery and jewelry. Restaurants to please all palates, and distinguished shoe, fashion and home decor boutiques. Hillside Sedona also offers an array of services and excursion opportunities, including the Pink Jeep Tours (highly recommended), hot air ballooning, vortex bikes and hikes, ATVs, psychic readings, spa days, and so on. All of this amidst the red rocks backdrops, Hillside Sedona provides a unique and exceptional shopping experience for locals and visitors alike.

SEDONA WOLF WEEK - Coincidentally, we planned our trip to Sedona during Wolf Week (April 20 - April 23), and it was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. Plan B, a nonprofit organization, works to protect, preserve and rescue wolves through advocacy, education and funding. The event was held at Poco Diablo Resort, also coincidentally, where we were stayed in Sedona. Plan B graciously allowed us to interact with the wolves, and learn about the importance of their protection and preservation. We highly recommend exploring this incredible and significant movement by visiting their website.

Glamping in the Florida Keys

If you've never heard of 'glamping', it's time you learned about this global trend that has caught fire with outdoor enthusiasts and luxury holiday seekers alike. A fusion of glamour and camping, glamping is the ultimate upgrade on rest and recreation, without the five star ticket price. 

It's officially summer in South Florida. If you're a local, this means one of two things: get out of town, or embrace it! Last week we partook in the latter. Hitching an airstream to the back of her car, she and her husband made the trek down to the coral cay archipelago, the Florida Keys, to try glamping for the first time.

Getting There

Generally speaking, the easiest way to get to the Keys is still by car. The thin stretch of islands don't make much room for airstrips. Key Largo, the largest of the Keys, does have an airport, though with limited use. If you're coming from out of state, you can easily fly into Miami International Airport and rent a car. Key Largo is about an hour drive south, depending on traffic.

Key Largo is the first big Key to stop at and is an oasis of gorgeous beaches, cool bars, and great restaurants. While it is the most accessible Key, immediately upon arriving you know that you are in a unique tropical paradise with a much slower pace of life.

Right from the start, you’re afforded the lifestyle that the Florida Keys have to offer. With plenty of day and night time activities, this little slice of paradise is an ideal first stop on your glamping journey through the Keys.

Where to Stay

In Key Largo, hitch up your tent, RV or camper at the brand new Key Palms Luxury Resort. With plenty of amenities like a pool and club house with flat screen TVs, cable, a fitness studio, and laundry room, this unique camp site makes glamping easy in Key Largo. Just off the main highway, Key Palms Luxury Resort is close to many of the local attractions.

After spending a few amazing sun-soaked days here, we drove down to the lively and colorful Key West where we stayed at the Bluewater Key Luxury RV Resort. Like the Key Palms, this resort has plenty of terrific amenities and is equipped with boat slips if you decided to trail a boat down with you.

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Getting Around

Having a car in the Keys is a near necessity as many visitors 'Key hop' rather than stay in one location. The Keys is also part of the Uber network, and most islands have local taxi companies for those who don't want to drive.

What to Do

John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. Bring your snorkel gear, or sign up for a snorkel tour, and go see the famous Christ of the Deep. This nine foot, 4,000 pound bronze statue of Christ was installed underwater in 1965. The statue, known as the Il Christo Degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss), is world famous and a must do in Key Largo. The expansive state park also offers a range of other activities, from scuba diving trips to see the famed coral reefs, to kayaking experiences, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat tours and much more.

Other things to do in Key Largo: swim with dolphins, visit the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, try parasailing, rent waterskis and boats, and of course, go fishing. The Keys are also home to unique animal species, including the Key deer, many tropical birds and fish, and the Florida Key Lime. Pick key limes fresh off the bush and juice to make your own authentic key lime pie!

On your way down to Key West, stop off in Islamorada. Meaning 'village of islands', this quiet and beautiful string of Keys is just that. Known as one of the world’s best sportfishing destinations (saltwater fly fishing and backcountry sport fishing were pioneered on Islamorada), stop off at this Key to catch fresh seafood to prepare for dinner! Before continuing south, stop by Lorelei Cabana Bar at mile market 82 on your way out of town for some excellent fish dip and draft of Key West Sunset Ale.

Just 45 minutes down the road you will find the famous seven mile bridge. The longest bridges in existence when it was built, The Old Seven was originally constructed in the early 1900 as as part of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad.  In the early 1980’s this old bridge was no longer used for vehicular traffic when the new bridge was constructed. Stop off before you cross to take in the views or sunset.

Key West is the most developed of the Keys, and is officially regarded as the 'southern most point of the continental United Staes'. Marked by the Southern Buoy, this spot in Key West is just 90 miles from Cuba. As with all other Keys, you will find plenty of oceanic activities, and can take a short boat ride to the Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands, and is the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson.

In Key Largo there's also plenty to do on land! Stop by the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, head to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration that takes place every day, and check out the world famous Duval Street packed with plenty of fun bars and restaurants.

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Where to Eat

Skippers Dockside: With a tiki bar outside and the postcard-like view, you can enjoy Key Largo's finest. Try their fish tacos and yellowtail snapper sandwich with a piña colada in true Floridian fashion.

Keys Fisheries: Barely north of the seven mile bridge is one of our absolutely favorite spots, Keys Fisheries in Marathon Key. While it might not look like much, this tiki shack, market and marina serves up some of the freshest seafood in all of South Florida. With several boats hauling fresh seafood into their marina each day, Keys Fisheries supplies many restaurants throughout South Florida. Must have menu items: stone crab claws (in season October 15 - Mat 15), conch salad, famous Lobster Reuben, original Knockwurst, and delicious key lime pie.

Hogfish Bar & Grill: Hard-to-find but definitely worth trying, this tiki bar tucked into the busy commercial harbor on Stock Island is a favorite with locals for its funky, friendly vibe and its fresh seafood.

No Name Pub: Somewhat of a secret, this tiny pub is a place to experience a piece of the "original" Florida Keys. Off the beaten path, No Name Pub is located two miles off US 1 in Big Pine Key. The rustic building has a sign outside stating "No Name Pub…You Found It!", and has walls littered with dollar bills. Generally considered to be 'the best pizza in town', No Name Pub offers an a break from the never ending list of fresh seafood restaurants.

Garbo's Grill: This food truck gives new meaning to street food. With amazing and cool menu items like the Yum Yum Shrimp Taco, the Mango Dog, and the Umamiburger, Garbo's Grill is the perfect delicious lunch stop for a busy day of walking the colorful streets of Key West.

Sloppy Joe's: A Key West tradition, Sloppy Joe's features locally crafted draught beers, live entertainment, and of course, amazing sloppy joes! In July, the beloved local bar and restaurant is also host to the annual Papa Lookalike Competition. Each year locals and tourists alike dress up like Hemingway and celebrate his birthday in style.

Grand Life in the Grand Canyon

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, The Grand Canyon lives up to it's name, and then some. If it's not already on your bucket list, it's time to edit your bucket list. The vastness of this mile deep gorge is difficult to digest, and the ways to experience it are almost as endless as the canyon itself. I'll take you through the must dos and definitely don'ts of The Grand Canyon, and some tips to save you time, energy, and potentially your life.

Getting There

Getting to the Grand Canyon is an adventure in itself, as there are so many incredible sights and towns worthy of a detour. We flew into Pheonix and rented a car. In the four hour drive to the Grand Canyon, the landscape transitions from desert sand and cactus farms to ice capped mountains when you approach Flagstaff. From there, you will pass quaint street side markets selling everything from native jewelry to meat jerky, and other locally made crafts and snacks. After stocking up on dream catchers and everything turquoise, you'll approach the Kaibab National Forest, a stunning and surprising change of scenery. The woodlands consist of 1.6 million acres and border the rims of the canyon. Not what you would expect when you think of the Grand Canyon, but lovely nonetheless. 

Where to Stay & Where to Eat

Don't expect five star luxury when staying at the Grand Canyon, expect cozy, charming, rustic-chic. We stayed at The El Tovar, which, in comparison to other options, was The Four Seasons of the Grand Canyon. Built in 1905, this landmark limestone and pine hotel is considered the crown jewel of Historical National Park lodges. Wood burning fireplaces, moose heads mounted to the raw log walls, rocking chairs and swinging benches will make you want to curl up with a good book and glass of wine...until you remember that one of the seven wonders of the world is literally steps away. We had a room overlooking the canyon, and depending on the time of day and the sunlight, the canyon looked like it was always changing. Truly majestic. El Tovar has picturesque porches spread across the property, with live music daily and elk roaming freely. Note: Do not approach the elk, as they can be very aggressive, and have been a source of several injuries and even deaths at The Grand Canyon. Observe from a safe distance.

Every evening we enjoyed happy hour on the back porch of the El Tovar and watched the sun set, followed by dinner in the main dining room. Note: Reservations are a must, and should be booked in advance! Visitors across the south rim come to dine at this rustic elegant restaurant serving up upscale Southwestern American fare. Evenings were spent relaxing in the lodge, or playing cards in the game room before retiring to bed.

What to Do

Spanning 277 miles, the sights and adventure at The Grand Canyon is seemingly endless. From the adrenaline junkie to the athletically challenged (yours truly), the canyon is accessible to everyone. The most popular form of exploration is hiking, and the premier hiking trial is the Bright Angels trial. It is moderate in difficulty and delivers some of the most spectacular views in the whole canyon. You can follow it all the way to the Colorado River and then some (4,380 elevation change over 10% average grade). At the base of the trail is a popular campground and Phantom Ranch, a lodge located inside The Grand Canyon. Note: Reservations must be made thirteen months in advance, so plan ahead! The rim trails also provide incredible views of the canyon, without the physical exertion. There is no elevation change, and is accessible via bicycle, rollerblades, or even segway. There are picturesque viewing spots all along the way, including observation towers and educational facilities.

If hiking is not your thing, there are several other ways to experience The Grand Canyon, including mule rides, helicopter tours, white water rafting, biking, etc. No matter what activity, be sure to have plenty of water, and wear layers. The best time of year to visit The Grand Canyon is late spring when the mornings are cool and the afternoons are fairly mild. Temperatures in the canyon can reach 130 degrees, so be prepared. 

Leaving

On our way out, we stopped by the Desert View Watch Tower, which has the best views of the Colorado River in the South Rim. Several miles from town, and en route to the highway, this detour was a perfect excursion for our last day at The Grand Canyon. A coffee and pastry shop on the property will prepare you for your road trip ahead, which for us meant a scenic two hour drive to eclectic and spiritual Sedona, Arizona

Vail is Wonderful All Four Seasons of the Year

Last month we traveled to Vail, Colorado. This beautiful retreat is beloved year round by nature lovers looking to river raft or hike, and those who adore it for its picturesque snowy winters, making it the ultimate ski retreat. We set out for for a vacation that has the perfect mixture of fun out door activities, and ultimate relaxation. Come along as we share our guide to haute places and things to do in Vail this summer.

 {Photo: Four Seasons Vail, Colorado}

{Photo: Four Seasons Vail, Colorado}

Getting There

While Vail has its own local airport, the Eagle County Regional Airport, it tends to have limited direct service, particularly in the summer months. We decided to fly into Denver International Airport direct from Ft. Lauderdale, and rented a car. The drive to Vail is just an hour and a half, and bonus! The scenic route took us up through the Rocky Mountains, which were so beautiful we stopped several times to take some fun snaps. If you're not up for the drive, you can always take the Colorado Mountain Express, which will get you directly to your hotel.

Where to Stay

We chose the Four Seasons for many reasons: we have never been disappointed by their rooms or service worldwide, it's fairly centrally located, and has tons of terrific amenities. Vail is a quaint and very walk-able village. The Four Seasons is located in East Vail, which is where the main part of the town is. Boasting some of the best views of the mountain, every room in the hotel has its own balcony where you can enjoy freshly brewed espresso and take in the mountain air.

Our room was large and homey. The expansive entryway separated the lush bathroom, equipped with a rainfall shower and large soaking tub, and the king sized bedroom with its own fire place and balcony. The staff was excellent! Upon checking in they explained that, knowing we came from South Florida, they put a humidifier in the room to help us acclimate to the cool, dry weather. Our bellman took time to explain how to work the fireplace, espresso machine, humidifier and every other perk included in the rooms. They were also extremely quick and helpful when we rang to ask for items we had forgotten at home.

 {Photo: Four Seasons, Vail}

{Photo: Four Seasons, Vail}

Getting Around

Vail Village, we found out, is USA’s largest free transportation system, linking the East and West areas of Vail Village, and operates every day of the year. Depending on your hotel, private transportation is also available. The Four Seasons had a car on hand 24-hours a day to drop off or pick us up wherever we were. Uber is also widely used throughout Colorado, providing an additional option. As we had a rental car, we used this to explore nearby towns where neither the buses or Four Seasons staffed car would take us.

What to Do

There seems to be no end to the ample out door activities offered in Colorado. From river rafting to mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, walking the mountain tops and much more. 

We wanted to go for a hike and were recommended the Booth Falls Trail, which is a 10 minute drive up the road from Vail Village. The 3.9 mile is generally considered a moderate hike, and features a waterfall and beautiful mountainside views. Keep in mind, if you're not used to the altitude, you may feel more winded that you do at a much lower altitude. Being from Florida, we definitely felt the difference. The hike took us a few hours, but the beauty of the trail kept us well occupied.

After the hike we soaked our aching muscles in the hot tubs around the pool at the Four Seasons. It was well deserved, and much appreciated! The air temperature was in the mid seventies, and combined with the breathtaking view of the mountains beyond, made it a true highlight of the trip.

Vail Village has plenty of quaint shops and restaurants. You can stroll the cobblestone streets and duck into a fun jewelry shop, take a peak at mountain terrane inspired art and photography, check out the latest winter sports equipment sales, or stop into adorable cafe's for a quick coffee and delectable chocolate cake. We popped into the Alpenrose one afternoon for a drink and bite to eat. The adorable German-Austrian restaurant and bar is right in the village and immediately transports you to Europe. With tankards on the wall, an old wooden bar, and a European pastry counter, who could ask for more?

Naturally, as we were staying at a resort with a spa, we felt remiss to neglect the latter privileges of the hotel. We booked in for a 50 minute Swedish massage, and were not disappointed! In fact, it may have been the best massage we've ever had. The tranquil environment of the Four Seasons Vail spa left nothing to be desired. We made sure to get there early and warmed up in the wellness area, using the heated pool, sauna and steam room. The massage was terrific. We chose nature sounds (when in Rome!) and the masseuse used oils that she said would help us adjust to the altitude. We left feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on anything!

In summer, just like winter, the gondolas go up and down the mountain. If you find yourself in Vail during the summer months, don't miss the opportunity to go to the top of the mountain! We soared up another 2,000 feet to the middle of the mountain to take in some unbelievably beautiful views.

Where to Eat

We wanted to try a variety of restaurants and cuisine while in Vail. The Four Seasons has an excellent steakhouse called Flame. We each had the filet, which you can top with exciting and amazing things like foes gras and blue cheese butter for the bold! It was extra convenient as it was right in our hotel, so after the heavy and delicious meal, we simply headed back up to our comfortable beds.

To juxtapose the steakhouse, one our second night in Vail we went for something much lighter. We decided to check out Matsuhisa, a renowned sushi restaurant located in Vail, Aspen and Denver. While they do offer an Omakase menu (Japanese tasting), we decided to go ff the beaten path. Going with an array of delicious sounding menu items, we started with their terrific miso soup, which they suggest eating without a spoon in true Japanese style. Next we tried their black cod lettuce wraps, which were so delicious we almost ordered them twice, some terrifically fresh uni, salmon, tuna and trout, that was native to Colorado and truly delectable.

On our last day in Vail, we decided to venture out of the village to a local favorite brunch spot called Westside Cafe & Market. We were reluctant to leave our adorable Vail Village bubble at first, but when people kept recommending this place, we knew we had to try it! With a hefty menu with some Colorado favorites like Dirty Biscuits & Gravy, Toad in the Hole, and Bison Meatloaf & Eggs, we were at a loss to pick just one thing. Westside Cafe is known for its exotic localized menu, immense choice of Benedict's, bowl-sized Bloody Mary's, and a french toast and pancake menu that goes on for days. 

Vail Village in summer left us feeling fit, invigorated, and refreshed. It is truly a peaceful place where you can do anything. With an air of longing, we hopped back on our flight to Palm Beach, knowing we will come back some day, perhaps in the winter to try out their skiing!