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  • Denver, Colorado- Top Things to Do in 48Hrs

    Denver, Colorado was founded in 1858 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush and grew into a well-known mining town. Today the city is home to over 700,000 people but the Denver metro area is close to 3 million people and is easily one of the fastest-growing cities in the USA. One interesting fact is that Denver is known as the mile high city because it’s located exactly one mile above sea level (5,280 feet). Another interesting fact is that Denver has more sunshine than San Diego, averaging 300 days each year! With so many sites to explore from the Denver Art Museum to Coors Field to the outdoors, there is something for everyone! Denver is a quick 2-hour flight from San Diego, making this city a great place for a long weekend getaway. In this guide, I’ll share the best things to do in Denver in 48- Hrs.! Tip: If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, add an extra day to your trip. The park is only about a 1 hr 20 min drive from Denver, but it might be easier to stay the night near the park and give yourself an extra day to relax after hiking. Best Stay: The Thompson Hotel The Thompson Hotel is located in the heart of the city! It’s within walking distance to many restaurants, shops, and parks. I walked over 10 miles during my stay because I walked to so many places! When you walk into the hotel you are greeted by a gorgeous lobby with cozy seating areas, a coffee bar to your left, and a luxurious bar and restaurant to your right.  The rooms are spacious with comfy beds and spa-like bathrooms equipped with a rain shower! This hotel also has a lounge area called Reynard Social which serves craft cocktails, and small plates and has plenty of seating areas for you to jam to tunes and relax after a busy day of exploring the city. I was pleasantly surprised by all the wellness amenities such as the refillable water bottle stations in the hallways, the eucalyptus hanging in the bathrooms, and the spacious gym with all the necessary equipment to maintain your wellness routine. If you decide to stay at this hotel you don’t need a car unless you plan on venturing outside the city. If you choose to rent a car, the monthly valet fee is quite pricey at $65 a night and there is not a lot of street parking close to the hotel due to some nearby construction. Best Rooftop: 54Thirty Denver's highest open-air rooftop bar is located on the 20th floor of the Le Méridien Hotel. The hostess leads guests to the elevator once you enter through the hotel's main entrance. As soon as you enter the bar you are greeted with lively music, fresh air, and expansive views of the mountains and downtown Denver. The bar offers craft cocktails and small bites. The seating is first come first serve, and plenty of fire pits are around for those chilly evenings. This place can get crowded so I recommend arriving early if you want to visit with fewer people. Since the weather in Denver can b vary based on the season I recommend checking the website for hours of operation before you go. Best Budget-Friendly Activity: Free Denver Walking Tour Denver Walking Tours hosts this free tour and it is one of the best budget-friendly activities to do in the city. The tour can be booked online and there is a small processing fee of $2.00. The tour starts at 10 a.m. at the Colorado State Capital and ends at Union Station. It includes stops at 11 of the city's tourist attractions including The Big Blue Bear,  Larimer Square, and the U.S. Mint. The total time of the tour is about 2-2.5 hours and ends up being about 1.7 miles total. One of my favorite parts of the tour was meeting people from other parts of the country and the world. In my tour group, we had a few people from Germany, someone from New York, and a few Denver locals! Best Urban Park: Confluence Park Did you know Denver is home to over 250 urban parks and over 850 miles of biking trails? During my trip to Denver, I had the opportunity to explore Confluence Park. Confluence Park is located in downtown Denver about a 15-minute walk from the Thompson Hotel. The riverside park has grassy areas for lounging, walking, and biking trails. During the summer you can find adventures kayaking down the river. After you are done exploring the park, check out the REI Outdoor store, it’s located just a few feet away from the park! Best Local Sweet Treat: Little Man Ice Cream After visiting Confluence Park, take a short walk to Little Man Ice Cream a local spot serving homemade ice cream in Denver since 2008. They have a standard menu where guests can order sundaes, banana splits, and shakes. Their unique ice cream flavors change constantly, so each time you visit there is an opportunity to try something new. Best Unique Outdoor Experience: Red Rocks Amphitheater The Red Rocks Amphitheater sits at 6,450 feet above sea level and is the only naturally occurring amphitheater in the world. In the late 1930s construction began to build a seating area between the rocks and it was officially open to the public in 1941. Today, this amphitheater is a place for live concerts, hiking trails, and exercise enthusiasts. The first time that I visited was in 2020, but I was not aware that there were several trails to hike near the amphitheater. This time during my visit, I was able to explore some trails and I recommend it during your visit. If you are looking for an easy-to-moderate trail, I recommend the Trading Post Trail. Tip: Before you visit, check the website to find out if there is a concert happening. If there is, you are still able to hike the nearby trails but parking may be difficult to find and you will not be able to access the amphitheater. Best Way to Support Local: Denver Farmers Market If you are interested in supporting the local community, add a farmers market to your itinerary. One of the largest farmers markets in Denver happens every Saturday, May 4 to October 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located on the East Side of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center next to Macy’s. Parking is free, and you can get the ticket validated at the market. The market has a variety of vendors from farmers selling fresh produce and local artists. If you are looking for a weekend trip from San Diego, Denver is a perfect place for a getaway!

  • 4 Best Beaches to Visit in San Diego this Summer

    Summer has arrived in San Diego and one of my favorite things to do during the Summer is relaxing at the beach.  San Diego is home to miles of coastline and San Diego beaches are consistently ranked among the USA's best beaches.  Whether you're looking to surf or relax San Diego offers a variety of stunning beaches to suit every preference. Here are four must-visit beaches that promise to make your summer unforgettable. In this post, I've included affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you. Local Tip: If you want to swim in the Pacific Ocean, you might be surprised by how cold the water is even during the Summer. The average temperature of San Diego's coastal water hangs around 60 F and peaks around low to mid-70s F in September. There are two reasons for this phenomenon, upwelling- which causes the warm water on the surface to be replaced by the deeper cooler water below, and water currents off the coast of Alaska mixing with the water currents off the coast of California. # 4 La Jolla Shores Beach La Jolla Shores is a beautiful 1-mile beach located in the coastal community of La Jolla. The beach is popular with visitors and tourists alike and is a popular destination for surfing, and meeting up with friends. What I like most about this beach is the beautiful views of the cove, beachside cliffs and the availability of picnic tables where families can gather to spend time with each other. Where to Park: Parking is available and free, but during the weekends and summer months, parking can be very challenging, so I recommend arriving early. If the parking lot is full street parking is available, but be sure to pay attention to street signs to avoid parking tickets. What to do: Relaxing on the beach, surfing, snorkeling, or scuba diving. If you are looking for a fun activity to do with family or friends check out one of the many kayaking tours that leave from this beach.  The tours are guided and led by local experts who share interesting facts about La Jolla and part of the tour includes a journey through a sea cave.  Just 7 minutes south is La Jolla Cove and the coast walk trail. Both are great places to explore La Jolla and view San Diego's famous sea lions. Just 15 minutes north is the popular Torrey Pines State Beach which boasts miles of hiking trails and beautiful ocean views. Where to eat: La Jolla Cove is surrounded by a neighborhood, so unfortunately there are not any restaurants along the beach but there are several within walking distance along Avenida De La Playa. I recommend packing food or eating at a nearby restaurant in La Jolla before going to the beach. You can find some ideas on where to eat for brunch in my, The Best Spots for Weekend Brunch in La Jolla post. # 3 Moonlight State Beach Moonlight Beach is located 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego in the beach town of Encinitas. This hidden gem has gorgeous views of coastal cliffs and is just a few steps from shopping and restaurants along Highway 101. Where to Park: Free parking is available in a nearby parking lot on C Street. There is usually street parking available. What to do: After lounging for a few hours, I highly recommend walking less than 5 minutes to explore the shops and restaurants along Highway 101. If you are looking for a unique activity to do check out Candles on Tap,  San Diego's first custom candle bar. What to eat: My favorites are The Taco Stand and  URBN Pizza.  The Taco Stand is a local favorite serving up some of the best tacos and California Burritos in San Diego. URBN pizza is another local favorite with a few locations throughout the city serving delicious coal-fired pizzas. # 2 Coronado Beach A short drive from downtown San Diego, Coronado Beach is ranked among the top beaches in the USA and is the perfect place to experience full-on vacation vibes. This beach has miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Coronado Beach is located on the famous Coronado Island and is home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado which was constructed in the late 1800s. Where to Park: There is plenty of free street parking near and around the beach. Like the other beaches on this list, parking fills quickly, so it's best to get there early. What to do: Relax, unwind and explore. This beach is so relaxing and has a nice family-friendly atmosphere. There is a lot to do nearby, so when you are done relaxing, take a short walk to one of the many shops and restaurants. If you want to do something active, hop on your bike or rent a bike and ride along the Coronado Bike Loop. What to eat: Coronado is home to a few delicious restaurants. One of my favorite places to eat is The Little Frenchie a Persian-style cafe that has won several Michelin awards! #1 Mission Beach Located just 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, Mission Beach is a popular beach in San Diego.  If you want that So Cal beach vibe experience, this is the place to visit.  This beach has it all, from an amusement park, beachside bars/restaurants, shops, and a boardwalk. Where to Park: There is plenty of free parking located near the beach and there is also street parking available. During the Summer months, parking can be a challenge and I have noticed that many of the parking spots are made for smaller compact cars. What to do: There is so much to do at this beach. This is a popular place for beach volleyball, surfing, lounging, picnic areas, and bonfires. The boardwalk is a lively place and has several restaurants that line the boardwalk. It is also a great place to bike ride, walk or run. One of my favorite things to do is rollerblade on the boardwalk. A fun place to visit is Belmont Park San Diego's only beachside amusement park. For more ideas, check out my San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Beach, blog post for more ideas on fun things to do! ​What to Eat: You can find many restaurants to try along the boardwalk. One place I like is Cannonball and another option is Draft. For more ideas, check out my San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Beach, blog post for more ideas on places to eat in Mission Beach! Local Tip: Take a bike ride or walk up the boardwalk! The boardwalk links the nearby beach communities of Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach. These beach communities are also very lively and are popular with the local college students. If you are a local, let me know which San Diego Beach is your favorite. If you will be visiting San Diego soon, let me know which beach you plan to visit. Happy Summer!

  • The Best Spots for Weekend Brunch in La Jolla- San Diego, CA

    Nestled along the beautiful shores of Southern California, La Jolla, affectionately nicknamed "the jewel," welcomes visitors and locals with its unparalleled beauty and coastal charm. Located approximately 14 miles north of downtown San Diego, this coastal community boasts breathtaking ocean views, dramatic cliffs, and playful sea lions along its rugged coastline. Each year, over 2 million people journey to La Jolla to relax, unwind, and explore. For me, La Jolla holds a special place as one of the city's premier destinations, offering a wide range of activities to suit every taste. From scenic hiking trails that wind along the coastline to the vibrant culinary scene that awaits, there's no shortage of experiences. La Jolla has a delicious selection of brunch eateries serving up mouth-watering dishes. Whether you're a local or a visitor planning your next excursion, join me as I unveil my top four favorite brunch spots in La Jolla, each promising a culinary experience to remember. The Cottage: Nestled in the heart of La Jolla's charming village, this beloved eatery boasts a cozy and inviting atmosphere, with its quaint cottage-style exterior. Inside, guests are greeted by a rustic yet elegant dining space adorned with vibrant floral arrangements and vintage décor. The Cottage is renowned for its farm-to-table cuisine, showcasing fresh and locally sourced ingredients in every dish. From fluffy buttermilk pancakes drizzled with maple syrup to savory crab cake benedicts, the menu offers a delightful blend of classic brunch favorites and innovative creations. Whether you're enjoying a leisurely breakfast on the patio or gathering with friends for a hearty brunch, The Cottage is definitely a brunch spot to check out. 2. The Blue Whale: Located just around the corner from The Cottage, is a cute little cafe called The Blue Whale. This cozy cafe recently opened its doors in 2023 and joins the list of delicious La Jolla breakfast restaurants. Their breakfast menu includes favorites like French toast, breakfast burritos, and chicken and waffles. They also offer specialty lattes and smoothies.  You can grab a seat inside or enjoy some fresh air while you eat on the outdoor seating located on the patio. When I went I tried the UBE pancakes which were fluffy, flavorful and delicious. If you are unfamiliar with what Ube is, it is a purple yam that is native to the Philippines. 3. Sugar and Scribe: Located a little over half a mile from the La Jolla Cove is Sugar and Scribe (my personal favorite) a culinary gem beloved for its delectable pastries, artisanal bread, and inventive brunch fare. Stepping into this cozy bakery and café feels like entering a quaint European bistro. The brunch menu features an array of brunch classics with a creative twist, such as bread pudding French toast, Kensington eggs benedict, and breakfast skillets bursting with flavor. Guests can indulge their sweet tooth with a selection of freshly baked pastries and desserts, including buttery croissants, flaky fruit tarts, and rich chocolate eclairs. With its warm hospitality and culinary expertise, Sugar and Scribe offers delicious food and an unforgettable brunch experience that keeps guests coming back for more. This is one of the best restaurants for brunch in San Diego.  My favorite items on the menu include the blueberry love pancakes and the lemon lavender mimosa! 4. Caroline's Cafe: Come for the food, stay for the views! Nestled amidst the lush greenery of the iconic Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this hidden gem offers a serene and picturesque setting for brunch with a great view.  Guests can dine al fresco on the expansive outdoor patio, where panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean stretch as far as the eye can see. The menu features an enticing selection of brunch favorites, including fluffy buttermilk pancakes and freshly baked bagels.  Whether you're enjoying a leisurely brunch with friends or fueling up for a day of exploring La Jolla's natural wonders, Caroline's Cafe is a great place to start your adventure with a delicious meal.

  • 40 Ways Travel Can Enhance Your Mental Health

    May is Mental Health Month in the U.S. and each year we are reminded how important our mental health is. Did you know that traveling is a form of wellness? Traveling isn't just about exploring new places or ticking off destinations from your bucket list. It can also significantly impact your mental health in positive ways. The experiences, challenges, and discoveries that come with traveling have profound effects on our well-being. From reducing stress to enhancing creativity, here are 40 mental health benefits of travel. Reduced Stress: Stepping away from your daily routine and immersing yourself in a new environment can significantly lower stress levels and promote relaxation. 2. Increased Happiness: Exploring new cultures, meeting new people, and experiencing new things can boost happiness and overall life satisfaction. 3. Boosted Creativity: Exposure to different cultures and environments can stimulate creativity and inspire new ideas. 4. Enhanced Resilience: Dealing with unexpected situations while traveling helps build resilience and adaptability. 5. Improved Confidence: Overcoming challenges while traveling, such as navigating through unfamiliar places or trying new activities, can build confidence and self-esteem. 6. Expanded Perspective:  Exposure to different cultures, languages, and lifestyles expands your worldview and fosters empathy and understanding 7. Cultural Appreciation: Engaging with local culture, and trying new foods, and customs enriches your cultural awareness and appreciation. 8. Mindfulness Practice: Travel encourages mindfulness as you immerse yourself in the present moment and savor new experiences without worrying about the past or future. 9. Connection with Nature: Exploring natural landscapes can rejuvenate the mind and soul, offering a sense of tranquility and awe. Spending time outdoors, whether it's hiking in the mountains or lounging on a beach, has been linked to improved mood and mental clarity. 10. Social Connection: Meeting new people while traveling can combat loneliness and foster meaningful connections. 11. Sense of Adventure: Embracing adventure, stepping out of your comfort zone, and exploring new destinations can reignite a sense of excitement and purpose. 12. Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Overcoming travel challenges sharpens problem-solving abilities and boosts confidence in your capabilities. 13. Stress Relief Through Physical Activity: Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming can alleviate stress and promote physical well-being. 14. Learning Opportunities: Traveling provides endless learning opportunities, whether it's about history, culture, or language. 15. Time for Reflection: Travel allows for introspection and self-reflection, away from the distractions of everyday life, allowing you to gain clarity on your goals and priorities. 16. Appreciation for Home: Experiencing new cultures and lifestyles can deepen your appreciation for your own home and community. 17. Increased Gratitude: Experiencing different ways of life can cultivate gratitude for the blessings in your own life. 18. Personal Growth: Travel challenges you to confront fears, embrace change, and grow as an individual. 19. Escape from Routine: Breaking away from the monotony of daily life can reignite passion and enthusiasm. 20. Opportunity for Solitude: Traveling solo offers solitude and introspection, allowing for personal growth and self-discovery. 21. Stimulation of the Senses: Experiencing new sights, sounds, and tastes can awaken the senses and invigorate the mind. 22. Boosted Immune System: Exposure to new environments can strengthen the immune system and improve overall health. 23. Reduced Risk of Depression: Travel has been linked to lower rates of depression due to its positive impact on mood and well-being. 24. Connection with History: Visiting historical sites and landmarks provides a sense of connection to the past, fostering a deeper appreciation for history. 25. Renewed Inspiration: Traveling to new places can reignite passion and inspiration, helping overcome creative blocks or burnout. 26. Improved Social Skills: Interacting with people from different backgrounds enhances social skills and empathy. 27. Sense of Freedom: Traveling offers a sense of freedom and liberation from the constraints of everyday life. 28. Emotional Healing: Travel can serve as a form of therapy, allowing for emotional healing and renewal. 29. Mindful Eating: Exploring local cuisines encourages mindful eating and appreciation for food. 30. Stress Hormone Regulation: Studies have shown that travel can regulate stress hormones like cortisol, leading to better mood regulation and emotional balance. 31. Sense of Accomplishment: Planning and executing a successful trip instills a sense of accomplishment and pride. 32. Rediscovery of Passion: Travel can reignite passions and interests that may have been neglected in daily life. 33. Stress Reduction Through Disconnecting: Taking a break from technology and disconnecting from the digital world can reduce stress and promote mental clarity. 34. Promotion of Sleep: Traveling can regulate sleep patterns and promote better sleep quality, especially when surrounded by natural environments. 35. Opportunity for Self-Care: Travel provides an opportunity to prioritize self-care and relaxation, away from the demands of work and responsibilities. 36. Cognitive Stimulation: Learning new languages or navigating unfamiliar environments stimulates cognitive function and brain health. 37. Exposure to Beauty: Witnessing breathtaking landscapes and architectural marvels can evoke a sense of awe and appreciation for beauty. 38. Emotional Resilience Building: Dealing with travel mishaps or delays can cultivate emotional resilience and adaptability. 39. Camaraderie with Fellow Travelers: Bonding with fellow travelers fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging. 40. Long-lasting Memories: The experiences and memories gained from travel become cherished treasures that can bring joy and nostalgia for years to come. In conclusion, travel is not just a means of exploring the world; it's also a journey of self-discovery and mental well-being. Whether you embark on a solo adventure or travel with loved ones, each journey offers unique opportunities for growth, connection, and rejuvenation. Remember you don't need to plan a week-long vacation, a short vacation can have the same positive effects. So, pack your bags, embrace the unknown, and let travel be your guide to a healthier, happier life.

  • San Francisco Express: A Half-Day Adventure Itinerary Guide

    San Francisco, located in northern California is a popular city known for its iconic landmarks, steep hills, sea lions, and diverse neighborhoods. I recently stopped in San Francisco for half a day before heading to Napa Valley for the weekend. With only half a day to spend in such a large city, I wanted to check out some of the best things to see in the city including some famous landmarks. In this post, I’ll share my itinerary for a half-day adventure in SF. This itinerary is the perfect day trip guide for a first-time visitor or a serial San Francisco Bay Area explorer. Start your morning with a visit to one of San Francisco's local and delicious brunch spots! San Francisco's brunch scene reflects the city's multiculturalism and culinary innovation.  One thing I realized when researching places to eat in San Francisco, is that brunch is a staple! You can find brunch spots offering a wide range of cuisines, from classic American diner fare to globally inspired dishes. During my trip, I went to brunch at Four Chairs, a friend and family-owned restaurant in the Bernal Heights district. The atmosphere was lively, good food and overall it was a good experience. Next, head over to the iconic Lombard St. Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, is known for its steep, winding road with eight sharp turns. Tourists flock to see and drive down this iconic street, enjoying its picturesque city views! From the top of the crooked section, you can see Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower, and the Transamerica Pyramid, among other landmarks. It's a must-visit spot for anyone exploring San Francisco for the first time! It’s a major tourist attraction, and many tourists choose to drive down Lombard Street to experience the thrill of navigating its hairpin turns. However, traffic can be heavy, especially during peak tourist seasons. There is also a stop for the historic cable cars directly across the street. If you have never had the opportunity to ride a cable car, I recommend adding this to your itinerary.  The fair is $8.00 each way. Next up, visit Chinatown. San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, tracing its origins back to the mid-19th century during the California Gold Rush. It was established by Chinese immigrants who came to the city seeking opportunities and faced discrimination and social exclusion, leading them to create a tight-knit community in this neighborhood. Walking through Chinatown's narrow streets, visitors are immersed in a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and aromas. Colorful storefronts adorned with Chinese characters line the bustling sidewalks, offering an array of goods and services, including traditional herbal shops, souvenir stores, bakeries, and restaurants. I recommended stopping by the historic Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory where fortune cookies have been made by hand since 1965. View The Painted Ladies The Painted Ladies represents a classic example of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, popular in San Francisco during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The houses feature intricate woodwork, elaborate trim, bay windows, and decorative embellishments, showcasing the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the era. The homes are situated on a sloping street facing Alamo Square Park, providing a picturesque backdrop for photos. The Painted Ladies have been featured in numerous films, television shows, and commercials, further solidifying their status as cultural icons. Perhaps most famously, they appeared in the opening credits of the television series "Full House," showcasing the quintessential San Francisco backdrop. Golden Gate Bridge View Point: Battery Spencer If you're looking for a scenic viewpoint to admire the  Iconic Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco side, one of the most popular and iconic spots is Battery Spencer. To reach Battery Spencer, you can drive or hike up Conzelman Road from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Visitor Center. The road winds up the hillside, offering glimpses of the bridge along the way. Battery Spencer is located near the top of the hill, and there's a small parking area where you can leave your car. Make sure you lock your car door and hide any valuables. The viewpoint is situated high above the bridge, providing a unique perspective and plenty of opportunities for photos. You can see the full span of the bridge stretching across the bay, with the city skyline in the background and the rugged coastline of the Marin Headlands in the foreground. Embarking on a half-day adventure in San Francisco is like stepping into a vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. From indulging in a delicious brunch to winding through the iconic twists of Lombard Street, immersing yourself in the bustling streets of Chinatown, admiring the charming Painted Ladies, and finally, soaking in the awe-inspiring views from Battery Spencer's Golden Gate viewpoint, every moment is filled with wonder and excitement. If you follow this itinerary during your next visit, leave a comment on this post and let me know how it went!

  • 5 Best Places to Eat in Napa Valley: A Culinary Journey

    Napa Valley, California, is a culinary paradise, offering various dining experiences that celebrate the region's bounty of fresh, local ingredients. Here are some top restaurants to explore during your visit, each offering delicious dishes that showcase the best of Napa Valley's food scene. 1. Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch Location: St. Helena Must-Try Dishes: Brick Cooked Chicken: Tender chicken cooked to perfection, served with napa cabbage, squash, farro, and salsa verde. 2. Boon Fly Cafe Location: Napa Must-Try Dishes: Boon Fly Famous Fried Chicken & Waffle: A delightful twist on a classic dish, served with maple syrup and honey butter. Boon Fly Benedict: A hearty breakfast favorite featuring poached eggs, house-made English muffins, and creamy hollandaise sauce. Boon Fly Donuts: delicious donut holes made fresh to order . 3. Erosion Tap House Location: St. Helena Must-Try Dishes: Ice cream flight: Can't decide on which of their homemade flavors to try? Get the ice cream flight and sample 5 different flavors! 4. Ristorante Allegria Location: Napa Must-Try Dishes: Wild Mushroom Ravioli: Handmade Ravioli with mushrooms, spinach, and a garlic cream sauce. Pappardelle Allo Zafferano: Handmade pasta, shrimp, mushrooms topped with a roasted shrimp bisque. 5. The Model Bakery Location: St. Helena Must-Try Treats: English Muffins: A beloved specialty of The Model Bakery, these fluffy, buttery muffins are perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Morning Buns: Sweet, sticky, and utterly delicious, these pastries are a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Whether you're craving farm-to-table cuisine, hearty comfort food, authentic Italian flavors, or delicious baked goods, Napa Valley has something to satisfy every palate. Plan your culinary adventure and savor the flavors of this world-renowned wine region.

  • San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Beach 

    Mission Beach is a coastal community located in San Diego, California. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city with a lively boardwalk lined with restaurants and a gorgeous beach perfect for watching the sunset. Overview Mission Beach has a mix of beachfront homes, vacation rentals, and an array of dining options, Mission Beach caters to a diverse crowd. It has a lively yet laid-back atmosphere. Getting Around Bike-friendly routes This is a great place to bike and during your visit, you will see many people biking around Mission Beach. Parking in Mission Beach can be tricky, especially during the summer months. There are several free parking lots and street parking near Belmont Park. There is also an additional parking lot located in South Mission Beach (this lot fills up quickly). If you plan on visiting restaurants in North Mission Beach be aware that parking in this area is minimal. There is street parking but unless you arrive early the spots are usually filled. A few parking lots are available for a fee ($20 to park!) Where to Eat Miss B’s Coconut Club - great place to go for brunch! I love their coconut French toast and their breakfast tacos! Better Buzz Coffee Roasters- A San Diego staple! It's a local favorite with plenty of options. The Mission - I enjoy their pancakes! Cannonball- rooftop restaurant overlooking the beach and the boardwalk. Draft South Mission- A popular restaurant along the boardwalk Juice Wave- is my favorite place to get an acai bowl in Mission Beach! Locally owned and operated juice bar! Things to do Visit Belmont Park-beachside amusement park, fun for all ages! Beach Volleyball- South Mission Beach has free public nets available near the basketball courts Roller skate on the boardwalk- If you don’t have roller skates, no problem, there is a place where you can rent skates in Belmont Park Rent Bikes and ride on the boardwalk - there is also a bike rental place in Belmont Park. Enjoy a fire pit on the beach! - there are several firepits available for use right on the beach! You just need to bring firewood and a lighter! Insider Tips If you are looking for more areas to explore in the area, check out Mission Bay! There is a nice paved trail that will take you along the bay. Crown Point Park has a nice beach area that is great for escaping the crowds during high season. Whether you're a local or a visitor, I hope this guide helps you discover the best places to eat and things to do in Mission Beach. If you have any suggestions or want to share your favorite spots, feel free to leave a comment!

  • San Diego Neighborhood Guide : North Park

    North Park is a trendy neighborhood located within a few minutes of San Diego's popular attractions. It is home to several delicious restaurants and unique coffee shops. Where to Eat: North Park has a delicious food scene with many options from delicious brunch to local taco shops to ice cream shops. URBN: Serving up craft cocktails and coal-fired thin-crust pizza. They have a variety of pizzas to choose from including vegetarian options. The Taco Stand: One of the best local taco chains in the city. Whenever we have guests come to town, we always take them to the Taco Stand for some authentic Tijuana-style tacos! Louisiana Purchase: One of the few places in the city to eat Southern food! This place can be a bit pricy so be prepared for that! Black Market Bakery: A local bakery serving delicious breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and coffee. Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream: After lunch or dinner stop by Hammond's Ice Cream, a local shop specializing in Hawaiian-style ice cream. Local and Unique Coffee Shops to Visit: Communal Coffee: Communal Coffee is a charming coffee shop that is also a flower shop. The motto is "Coffee + Flowers" and the combination of aromatic coffee and beautiful blooms creates a delightful atmosphere. Saigon Coffee: Saigon specializes in authentic iced Vietnamese brewed coffee with ancient Phin filters and the entire process takes 4 hrs. Their mom created the original recipe and it is still used in their shop. Things to Do: Pigment: a local retail store that features plants and home decor. Verbatim Books: San Diego's largest independent and used bookstore. Artelexia: Local retail store featuring Mexican arts and gifts. Casa y Cocina: Owned by the same company as Artelexia, this store features kitchen decor and spices. North Park Thursday Market: Held every Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. you can find fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts from San Diego locals. Events: Taste of North Park: This annual event (usually held in October) is a celebration of North Park culinary delights and provides an opportunity to sample food from these local restaurants. (click on the link for updated information on this years event). Conclusion: North Park is one of the most popular neighborhoods to visit in San Diego for locals and tourists. From shops to restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy! I hope this guide is helpful as you plan your visit!

  • 5 Things to Do in Clarksville, TN

    Located just 1 hour north of Nashville and 30 min south of Fort Campbell, Clarksville, Tennessee, is a hidden gem with a rich history, delicious restaurants, and a friendly community.  I recently visited Clarksville and was surprised by all the city had to offer. In this post, I’ll share some fun things I did to help you plan your visit to this charming town. Things to do: 1.  Visit Historic Downtown Clarksville: Explore the charming downtown area with its historic buildings, boutique shops, and local restaurants. Stop by La Costa Cafe, a local family-owned Puerto Rican coffee shop. 2. Wine tasting at Beachaven Vineyards & Winery: This award-winning local winery is the oldest single-family-owned winery in Tennessee. They have some of the best sweet wines that I have ever tasted. I recommend the Blackberry wine, Heavenly Peach wine or if you are looking for something a little more unique try their red or white muscadine wine. 3. Explore Dunbar Cave State Park:  Located along the historic Civil War Trail this state park is full of history.  From 1785 until 1864 Dunbar Cave was located within a plantation where more than one hundred African Americans were enslaved. After the emancipation, some of the lands near the cave became a refuge to over 4,000 former enslaved African Americans, and the area became known as “Affricanna Town”. Where to Eat: Catfish House: This was one of my favorite places we went to during our visit. If you love a good southern fried catfish, then make sure you stop here during your visit. China King Buffet: In the small town I grew up in, we had this delicious Chinese food buffet that my family and I would go to, and this restaurant brought back those sweet childhood memories. This place is worth a visit if you are a fan of Chinese food buffets. I hope this post is helpful as you plan your visit to Clarksville!

  • 5 Fun Things to Do in O'ahu

    O'ahu also called "The Gathering Place, is Hawaii's third largest island. This Pacific paradise is renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and welcoming spirit. I recently went to O'ahu and in this post, I'll share some fun things we did during our trip. 1. Hike Diamond Head (Honolulu) Diamond Head is an iconic volcanic tuff cone located on the island of O'ahu in Hawaii. Known for its distinctive shape and breathtaking views, Diamond Head is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring O'ahu. Here's a guide to help you make the most of your visit: Hours: The Diamond Head State Monument is generally open every day of the week, including holidays, from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM (last entry is at 4:00 p.m. However, it's advisable to check for any updates or changes to the schedule before your visit. Entrance Fee: The entrance fee ($10 per vehicle and $5 per person) must be paid in advance for non-residents and can be purchased up to 30 days in advance. Fees may vary, so it's recommended to check the official website or contact the monument for the most up-to-date information. Hiking Trail: The Diamond Head hiking trail is approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 km) round trip. The trail is a combination of paved paths, stairs, and a tunnel. It's a moderately challenging hike with some steep sections, including a steep staircase towards the end. The hike provides stunning panoramic views of the island and the Pacific Ocean. Best Time to Hike: Early morning or late afternoon is often recommended to avoid the heat of the day. Sunrise hikes are particularly popular for the spectacular views and cooler temperatures. What to Bring: Comfortable Footwear: Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes suitable for hiking. Sun Protection: Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Water: Stay hydrated by bringing an adequate amount of water, especially on warm days. Camera: Don't forget to capture the breathtaking views along the way. 2. Road Trip Around the Island We decided to splurge and rent a convertible for a road trip around the island! It was an unforgettable experience! The first day we hit the road and ventured along the west side of the island. The west side is a lot more residential and although there were nice beaches to stop at along the way, my favorite part of our road trip was the east side of the island and the north shore. Places to check out off HWY 72 (east side of the island): Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail Sea Life Park Hawaii Kiona Beach Park Mano Chocolate and Wine Bar The North Shore is a beautiful place on the island! It allows visitors to slow down and truly embrace the island lifestyle. This area is a popular place to get seafood and you will find several shrimp trucks. You can also find shops selling fresh smoothies! 3. Support Local Businesses at the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmers Market (Honolulu) At KCC you can expect to find a wide variety of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as locally made products such as honey, jams, baked goods, and unique crafts. It's a great place to experience the flavors of Hawaii and support local farmers and artisans. Location: 4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA Hours: Every Saturday, from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM, but it's advisable to check for any updates or changes to the schedule. 4. Attend a Luau A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast or party that often involves a buffet-style meal, music, hula dancing, and other Polynesian entertainment. The word "luau" itself is derived from the Hawaiian name for the young taro leaves that are a traditional part of the feast. We booked the Ka Moana Luau. It was a great experience and a great opportunity to learn more about Polynesian culture. 5. Indulge in Local Chocolate at MĀNOA MĀNOA has been creating decadent and unique chocolate since 2010. They offer flavors like caramel, hibiscus, and hazelnut infused in the Kona chocolate bar. The KAHALUʻU bar infused with blueberry, roasted peanut, and banana will excite your taste buds. The tasting room is open for complimentary chocolate tastings every day from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and all ages are welcome! We enjoyed the tasting and ended up purchasing some chocolate to take home. O'ahu is a beautiful island with amazing beaches, delicious food, and activities that the entire family can enjoy. I hope this post was helpful and provided some fun ideas to help you plan your trip!

  • San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Little Italy

    Little Italy is an urban neighborhood in San Diego, California dating back to the early 1900s. The neighborhood was once home to over 6,000 Italian families that migrated to the area to work in a once-thriving tuna industry. Today, Little Italy is one of San Diego’s most popular neighborhoods for locals, and tourists and boasts one of the biggest Farmers Markets in the city. Where to Eat: Little Italy has a delicious food scene with many options from delicious brunch, to more Italian restaurants than I can probably count, and even a food hall. Morning Glory: great breakfast/brunch place. I like to order the souffle pancakes. Tip: The wait to eat here can get long. I suggest arriving early or if you don’t mind waiting, the line goes pretty quick. Buon Appetito: One of my favorite Italian restaurants in Little Italy. King and Queen Cantina: A great stop for Mexican food! I like their “wet” burritos and the margarita flight! Salt and Straw- an ice cream chain based in Portland, Oregon serving unique flavors. Things to Do: One of the most popular places to shop in Little Italy is the farmers market, held every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. This is one of the largest Farmers Market in the county of San Diego. There are several vendor stands where you can purchase fresh fruits and veggies. I recommend stopping by: The French Gourmet: For mouthwatering pastries Maya’s cookies: for the best vegan cookies in San Diego Masala Cottage: amazing Indian food and samosas Outdoor Spaces and Landmarks: Piazza della Famiglia- a 10,000 square foot European-style piazza located on W. Date Street located in the heart of Little Italy. It’s the perfect place to relax outside at one of the many seating areas or dance the night away at one of the many live music events. Piazza Pescatore- a memorial built in November 2017 to honor the Italian and Portuguese immigrants who arrived in San Diego to work during the tuna industry boom in the late 19th century. Events: Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Village Event. Typically held around the first weekend in December. ArtWalk: This occurs every Summer and is an opportunity for artists to showcase their artwork. Taste of Little Italy: The delicious event occurs every year in June and spans 48 square blocks. During the event participants sample bites and sips from restaurants in the neighborhood. Conclusion: Little Italy is one of the most popular neighborhoods to visit in San Diego for locals and tourists. From shops to restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy! I hope this guide is helpful as you plan your visit!

  • 6 Unique Cafes for Coffee Lovers in San Diego

    If you're a coffee lover, you know that finding the perfect cup of coffee can be an adventure in itself. In a world filled with chain coffee shops, there's something truly special about discovering a unique and local spot that serves up your favorite brew just the way you like it. San Diego, with its vibrant and diverse coffee scene, offers hidden gems and unique places. In this blog post, we're going to take you on a journey through the streets of San Diego, uncovering 6 extraordinary coffee shops that will not only satisfy your coffee cravings but also provide you with a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you're a resident or just passing through, join us in exploring the best places for coffee in San Diego. 1. Communal Coffee: Why I love it: This popular local coffee shop has several locations throughout San Diego but the location in North Park is my favorite. Communal offers delicious coffee options such as latte flights, cold brews, teas, and more. They also have a food menu to help fuel your morning errands. What I ordered: Iced matcha Latte + acai bowl Why it's unique: Communal Coffee is a charming coffee shop that is also a flower shop. The motto is "Coffee + Flowers" and the combination of aromatic coffee and beautiful blooms creates a delightful atmosphere. 2. Saigon Coffee: Why I love it: Family-owned and operated coffee shop located in the North Park community. The owners of Saigon are a sister and brother team who started this company in 2012 at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. They opened a brick-and-mortar store in 2023, but they still sell their coffee at the farmers market. Heads up, they only serve coffee iced. What I ordered: Hanoi Egg Coffee Cream made with pasteurized eggs. Why It's Unique: Saigon specializes in authentic Vietnamese brewed coffee with ancient Phin filters and the entire process takes 4 hrs. The original recipe was created by their mom and it is still used in their shop. 3. Yohed Coffee Why I love it: Located in the diverse neighborhood of City Heights, this community coffee shop serves up delicious coffee in a welcoming atmosphere. What I ordered: cappuccino Why It's Unique: Yohed specializes in authentic Ethiopian coffee. If you have never tried Ethiopian coffee before, stop by Yohed and give it a try! 4. Moniker Coffee Co- Liberty Station Why I love it: Moniker General has two locations throughout San Diego but I usually visit the location in Liberty Station. They offer delicious coffee options such as lattes, cold brews, and tea. What I ordered: Iced matcha Latte + toast flight Why it's unique: During your visit check out the attached retail store with clothing, gifts, and home decor! 5. The Mental Bar Why I love it: This cafe offers coffee as well as relaxing herbal teas. What I ordered: I love to order any of the teas. They have a great selection and every time I go, I try a different tea. Why it's unique: One of the few black-owned cafes in San Diego. 6. Better Buzz Why I love it: They offer several drink options and great food. Almost every one of their cafes has a great aesthetic creating a cozy atmosphere. What I ordered: I have tried several items on their menu. I typically get a matcha (of course) and a pastry item. Why it's unique: Better Buzz Coffee is a popular coffee chain in San Diego known for its vibrant atmosphere and, of course, its delicious coffee. I like to think of it as the "Starbucks" of San Diego, but better. I hope you enjoy checking out San Diego's local coffee shops!

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