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  • Travel Guide: Joshua Tree National Park

    Joshua Tree National Park is a popular destination in Southern California its located at the intersection where the Mojave and the Colorado desert come together. It's popular for its desert terrain, Joshua trees, camping, and stargazing. I’ve been to this park twice, and I enjoyed my visit each time. Tips: There is an entrance fee but sometimes the fee booth may be closed. The fee is around $30. If you visit National Parks often, I recommend purchasing the America The Beautiful annual pass. The pass is $80 but gets you access to National Parks and other federal sites throughout the U.S. Within the park, there are no gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, or hotels. Bring food and water. Cell Phone reception is spotty and I recommend downloading an offline map of the area. For additional information visit the National Park Service Website. A permit is required for backpacking. When to Visit: The Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Temperatures are the best during the fall and spring months. Summer can be hot and temps can reach up to 100°F on average. The park’s busy season is from mid-February to April and October- May. How to get There: The best way to get to the park is by driving. Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hr 20 min Distance from San Diego: 2 hr 20 min Distance from Las Vegas: 3 hr 40 min Where to Stay: There are no accommodations within the park so many visitors stay in hotels or an Airbnb about 20 min outside of the park in the Yuca Valley. I stayed in this cozy Airbnb called the Veneer Retreat for two nights, and it was so relaxing. The decor was beautiful and the space made you feel like you could disconnect from the world. You can find the rental here or on Airbnb. Where to Eat: If you have read a lot of my blog posts then you may have figured out that I am a huge foodie, and for many of my trips food is a big part of the planning process. Well, I've been to Joshua Tree twice and both times I have only eaten at one restaurant. The restaurant is called Natural Sisters Cafe. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that also has bakery items and smoothies. I’m not a vegetarian but I enjoy eating there, especially after a hike. If you are not interested in trying this restaurant, there are plenty of other available options. Things to Do: Hiking: Joshua Tree is a destination for people who enjoy the outdoors and enjoy hiking. There are several trails that I recommend: Skull Rock- Easy, 1.7 miles - a popular trail that takes you to a rock formation shaped like a skull. Directly across the street from this trail are a few flat trails to walk around and explore. Inspiration Peak Trail- Moderate, 1.8 miles- a popular trail with beautiful views at the top. Panorama Loop -Moderate, 6.3 miles- nice trail through the desert oasis Stargazing: If you live in a big city like I do, chances are you don’t get to see the stars or the Milky Way that often. During your visit, spend some time just gazing up at the midnight sky. You might even see a shooting star! We did! Disconnect: This town is very quiet, so if you are looking for a way to disconnect, recharge, and enjoy a wellness trip, then this is a great place. Enjoy your day hiking, read a book, and turn off your phone. Safety: Overall Joshua Tree and the surrounding area is a very safe city and has a very low crime rate. We have always felt very safe during our visits. As with any city, it is always best practice to use wisdom when traveling and be aware of your surroundings. Budget: A weekend trip to Joshua Tree is fairly inexpensive. That being said, visiting during peak tourist season can quickly change this budget-friendly trip to an expensive trip. If you have an Airbnb, I recommend cooking most of your meals. This will help to keep costs low. Also visiting during the low season. During September, airbnbs tend to be half the cost that they are during peak season. Wrap up: I hope this Joshua Tree guide is a helpful resource and inspires you to visit Joshua Tree! If you want assistance planning your trip or have questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post! Bonus Activity: Depending on how long your trip is, take a day to explore Palm Springs is located about 1 hour from Joshua Tree. Palm Springs is a popular resort city and many people move from Los Angeles to retire in Palm Springs. It is also a popular place to live and visit for many celebrities. I recommend visiting the Farmers Market that is held every Saturday. It’s a great way to support local businesses and taste food from local vendors. Explore downtown Palm Springs. This area has a lot of restaurants and shops to explore. This area is definitely where a lot of the tourists hang out. Palm Springs is also known for their mid-century modern homes and the city even has one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern homes in the world. You can view many of these beautiful homes as you drive around the city.

  • 4 Days in Rome- The Ultimate Itinerary for Your Adventure in Rome.

    Discover the magic of Rome in just 4 days. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, follow along as we explore the ancient city's rich history, vibrant culture, and irresistible charm. Get ready for a whirlwind adventure through the heart of Italy's capital, where every street tells a story and every corner reveals a new treasure. In this post, I'll provide the itinerary I used during my 4 days in Rome! Get ready for a journey through the ancient streets, iconic landmarks, and mouthwatering cuisine that make Rome one of my favorite destinations. Tips: Purchase tickets for tours in advance. The earlier the better. Prior to purchasing flights, make sure your passport is up to date and it won't expire within 6 months of your travel dates. If it is set to expire, you will need to renew your passport. Sign up for the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP). Allows U.S. citizens and nationals to share information about their trip with the closest U.S. Embassy. STEP will help the U.S. Embassy contact you in a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or expensive clothing to help avoid theft. Purchase European electrical outlet adapters. The European countries do not use the same electrical outlets that we use in the U.S. Make copies of your passport and keep your passport on you at all times. Tips for Rome from our Food Tour Guide: Avoid all the restaurants near the Colosseum. They are very touristy and not good. When looking for authentic Gelato, the Gelato should be stored in a container and not out with large waves and humps in it (if you see it you will recognize it). He said that if the gelato has those characteristics then it means that it is full of preservatives. When you go out to dinner in Rome, don’t expect your waiter to come to your table immediately or come back to check on you multiple times. This is part of Italian culture. They don’t want you t feel rushed or bothered, but if you request service they are on it. When to Visit: May is one of the best times to visit Rome, with great weather and right before the summer tourist season begins. June- August is peak season so expect long lines and high hotel prices. Also, keep in mind that many Roman shops close down in August for their Holiday (vacation season for locals). Other busy times for travel include Christmas (December) and Easter (March/April). How to Get There: There are many ways to get to Rome. If you are already in Europe visiting another country, consider traveling by train to Rome. When I traveled to Rome, I was already in Paris so I opted for a quick plane ride. Where to Stay: There are many accommodations available in Rome. We stayed in a budget-friendly hotel called Hotel Duca D’Alba. The hotel is average but we were drawn to this hotel not for the style, but for the location and price. The hotel is surrounded by a lot of restaurants, and shops and it is within walking distance to the Colosseum. Transportation: While we were in Rome we paid for tickets to use the BigBus Hop on/Hop Off for 48 hours. If you have never heard of the BigBus Tour, it’s a massive bus that provides a narrative tour while taking you to all the popular sites in Rome. Once the bus arrives at each stop, you are able to get off, explore the area, and then get back on the next bus to continue the tour. We found this to be the most economical and the most convenient way for us to get around the city. Safety: Overall we felt pretty safe in Rome. We stayed mainly in the tourist areas and the only non tourist areas we went to were the restaurants we found out about during our food tour. There are quite a few street sellers that we quickly learned to avoid as they would try to stop you and get you to purchase items. Budget: The budget for a trip to Rome can vary depending on what you are interested in doing. There are a lot of tours to choose from throughout the city and this can quickly drive up costs. If you are having trouble deciding on which tour to choose from, I recommend a food tour if you love food and culture. If you love history I recommend the Colosseum or Pompeii. 4-Day Rome Itinerary Day 1 Start your morning with an early morning visit to one of the seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum. The Colosseum is truly an amazing and historical site! Tip: I opted for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill guided tour. The Colosseum was the place where epic gladiator battles took place, the Roman Forum was the heart of ancient Rome and the center of everyday life for the Romans. Palatine Hill is home to ancient ruins that also provide an insight into everyday life. The tour lasts about 2.5- 3 hrs. Next, head over to the meeting place for a food tour with Secret Food Tours. To this day, this is still one of the best food tours I have ever been on. Our guide was amazing! He was a history teacher in Rome. During the tour, he spoke of the history of Rome with so much passion and he was so knowledgeable. The food and wine were also delicious! Note: We ate breakfast at our hotel each day and for the rest of the meals we ate at the restaurants recommended during the food tour. Spend the rest of the evening exploring the areas you visited on the food tour or relax in one of Italy’s beautiful Piazzas. Day 2 Spend the day in The Vatican City and see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Basilica. This can take all day if you take your time looking at all the art and the exhibits. Day 3 Explore North Rome (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps). Take the BigBus tour around the city, get off, and explore each spot. Day 4 Take an excursion to Pompeii. Pompeii was once a thriving Roman city before it was covered in ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The city is incredibly preserved and is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I hope this itinerary is helpful as you plan your trip to Rome. If you don’t have a trip planned I hope it inspires you to visit Rome one day! Ciao! (bye in Italian)

  • Self-care on the Go: 6 Tips to Help You Incorporate Wellness While Traveling

    Have you ever gone on a trip and expected to return home refreshed, only to feel exhausted? It's times like this when I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. During my travels, I’ve discovered some easy and simple wellness hacks that I incorporate during my trip that keep me feeling energized and refreshed. 1. Prioritize Water Intake Did you know our bodies are made up of about 60% water? This means that water intake is crucial to keeping our bodies hydrated and our organs functioning properly. While on vacation we may be more active than usual or spend more time in the sun and both of these activities can contribute to dehydration. To make sure you are drinking enough water, pack a refillable water bottle in your carry-on bag so that you have easy access to it. I like to fill my bottle up as soon as I pass through airport security. Having your refillable water bottle handy will not only help you save some money and avoid buying expensive drinks at the airport but will also help to get a head start on staying hydrated. Wellness Tip: During your trip, bring your water bottle with you during the day so that you can easily monitor your water intake and stay hydrated. 2. Eat Foods High in Fiber I don’t know about you but when I travel, I love to try new foods and indulge in desserts. Unfortunately, my body sometimes takes a hit and I’m not as regular as I would be if I was at home eating my home-cooked meals. If you struggle with this too, the next time you travel purchase some fruits such as an apple or berries. You can also try nuts such as almonds, peanuts, or pecans. If you plan on making your own breakfast in your Airbnb, consider making oatmeal or eating a side of fruit with your breakfast. One thing I do while eating out is to order a side of veggies with my meal and ask the waiter if the veggies include high-fiber veggies like broccoli or carrots. This is an easy way to enjoy the foods that you want but also incorporate fiber into your meal. Wellness Tip: Eat fresh fruits like berries or apples during your trip to stay regular. 3. Schedule a Rest Day This is difficult for me because when I travel, I like to see everything and do everything because I don’t know when I might have the opportunity to visit again. I think it's good to want to have new experiences and explore but the only issue with this is that many times I am left burned out and exhausted. I never get the opportunity to truly relax and disconnect. I have started to schedule a full day of rest during all of my vacations now. A day of rest looks like sleeping in, and not having anything scheduled or planned. This allows for a time of relaxation, resting my body and mind. Wellness Tip: Take a day off during your vacation to rest and rejuvenate. 4. Eat a Healthy Meal I’m a foodie so for me I look forward to all of the food and drinks I will have while on vacation. I've found that eating a lot of processed, high-sugar, and high-carb foods can leave me feeling tired, and sluggish and sometimes I start feeling a little sick. I balance out these meals with one or two healthy meals. This can be as simple as finding a restaurant where I can order salmon with a side of veggies or a restaurant that focuses more on farm-to-table meals. Incorporating a healthy meal during your trip will keep your immune system boosted, provide energy, and contribute to your overall well-being. Wellness Tip: Look for ways to incorporate at least one healthy meal during your trip. 5. Incorporate Physical Activity Research has shown that physical activity can boost your mood, and improve your sleep quality. This is important because sometimes traveling can be stressful and lead to negative thoughts. Physical activity during your trip can look like walking for 30 minutes on the beach, going on a hike, walking a trail, or doing a walking tour in the city you are visiting. Another idea is to plan a dinner in a trendy neighborhood and spend some time walking around the area after dinner. Wellness Tip: Get those steps in and do something active during your trip. 6. Prioritize Rest Rest is important not only so that you can have enough energy to explore and enjoy different activities during your trip, but also so that your body has time to restore your immune system. Traveling can take a toll on your immune system due to changes in climate temperatures, eating foods that you don’t normally eat, staying up late, not drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated, etc. All these things can contribute to lowering your immune system. It’s never fun to get sick on a trip or be sick after a trip. Getting enough rest can contribute to a healthy immune system and prevent you from getting sick during or after your trip. Wellness Tip: Reserve a few nights during your trip where you don't have anything planned or plan something that ends early so that you are able to get a good night's rest. Incorporating wellness into your vacation doesn’t have to be hard. The simple tips that I provided in this post will help you feel energized and refreshed during your vacation and even when you return home.

  • Zion National Park Itinerary- 2 Day Ultimate Trip Guide

    Zion National Park was Utah’s first National Park and is located near the city of Springdale. Every year thousands of visitors from the United States and around the world flock to this gorgeous park for hiking, biking, camping, and, stargazing. Zion’s canyons are caused by erosion over millions of years, but out of the erosion came a breathtaking landscape that is almost unreal. I recently spent two days exploring and hiking in the park. This was my second time visiting the park, my last visit was in 2019. In this post, I will share my itinerary and provide some helpful tips for visiting the park! Tips: There is an entrance fee but sometimes the fee booth may be closed. The fee is around $20/person or $35.00/vehicle. If you visit National Parks often, I recommend purchasing the America The Beautiful annual pass. The pass is $80, and you can access National Parks and other federal sites throughout the U.S. Within the park, there are no gas stations but near the visitors center, you will find a few shops and restaurants. Bring food and water with you on the trail. (I like to carry at least 2 liters of water, a sandwich, and a few snacks) Cell Phone reception is spotty and I recommend downloading an offline map of the area. Parking is available at the visitor center. If the parking lot is full, there is street parking and other parking areas in Springdale that are close to the park. A shuttle will transport visitors from the city to the Zion Canyon Village. Once you arrive in the park there are free shuttles that leave from the visitors center that will transport you to stops throughout the park. You can view the shuttle schedule here. A permit is required for hiking Angels Landing and permits must be reserved the day before. Visit this link for more information. If you plan to hike the narrows, keep in mind that this trail is weather-dependent and is closed when there is a risk of flash flooding. For additional information visit the National Park Service Website. When to Visit: The Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Temperatures are the best during the Fall (October and November) and Spring months (March and April). If you plan to visit during the Summer (May-September) be prepared for high temps reaching 100 F. If you plan to visit during the Winter months (December, January, and February) be prepared for snow and limited shuttle bus services. The park’s busy season is from April to October. How to get There: The best way to get to the park is by driving. I recommend flying into Las Vegas, renting a car, and then driving to Zion from there. Las Vegas is the closest major city to the park. Distance from Las Vegas, NV: 2 hr. 15 min Distance from Bryce Canyon National Park: 2 hrs. Distance from Salt Lake City, Utah: 4 hrs. 30 min Where to Stay: There are no accommodations within the park unless you plan on camping, but there are a lot of really nice hotels to choose from that are near the park. The first time I visited the park, I stayed at the Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn and Suites. It was a cozy hotel with a comfortable bed and beautiful views. This time I stayed at a comfortable Airbnb for two nights, in the nearby town of La Verkin. La Verkin is about a 25-minute drive from the park. Safety: Overall Zion and the surrounding area is a very safe city and has a very low crime rate. We have always felt very safe during our visits. As with any city, it is always best practice to use wisdom when traveling and be aware of your surroundings. Budget: A weekend trip to Zion is fairly inexpensive. That being said, visiting during peak tourist season can quickly change this budget-friendly trip to an expensive trip. If you have an Airbnb, I recommend cooking most of your meals. This will help to keep costs low. 2- Day Itinerary Day 1 (Breakfast, West Rim Trail to Scout Lookout, Angels Landing, Pa’rus Trail) Before hitting the trails, start your morning at Deep Creek Coffee Co. This cafe offers delicious food that will fuel your hikes and coffee that will give you all the energy you need. We went there 3 mornings in a row! I got the matcha latte (I’m not much of a coffee drinker), the Bro-ritto, and the blueberry muffin. Everything was amazing! After breakfast, catch a ride on the Springdale Shuttle to the park. After you arrive in the park, catch the Zion Shuttle to Stop 6 to hike the West Rim Trail to Scout Lookout and if you have a permit, Angels Landing. This is a popular but difficult hike with breathtaking views! Angels Landing is at the top after you finish Scout Lookout via West Rim Trail. Angels Landing is a narrow strip of rock that visitors can walk along for an additional challenge. Once you finish the hike take some time to rest, enjoy a snack, and take in the views. Scout Lookout Via West Rim Trail Location: Stop 6 Difficulty: Hard Distance: 3.6 miles + more if you do Angels Landing Elevation: 1,115 ft After you make your way down, if you have enough energy to take on a second hike and you are looking for something a little less challenging, take the shuttle to stop at 3 Canyon Junction. The Pa’rus trail is located at stop 3. This is a great trail for all levels and is very easy to complete. Pa’rus Trail Location: Stop 6 Difficulty: Easy (paved) Distance: 3.2 miles out and -back Elevation: 134 ft Day 2 (Breakfast, Emerald Pools, Watchman Trail) We are starting our morning again at Deep Creek Coffee Co. After breakfast, catch a ride on the Springdale Shuttle to the park. After you arrive in the park, catch the Zion Shuttle to Stop 5 to hike Emerald Pools. Emerald Pools is a challenging trail that takes you to beautiful waterfalls. There are three Emerald Pools, Upper, Middle, and Lower. The upper and lower trails are nice. There is not much to see on the middle trail. The trail is steep and slippery in some places, so take caution when hiking this trail. Once you make it to Upper Emerald Pools, take some time to rest and enjoy a snack. Lower Emerald Pool Trail Location: Stop 6 Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2.2 miles out and- back Elevation: 150 ft Middle Emerald Pools Trail Location: Stop 6 Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2.2 miles out and- back Elevation: 150 ft Upper Emerald Pool Trail Location: Stop 6 Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles out-and-back Elevation: 200 ft After you make your way down if you have enough energy to take on a second hike and you want to hike another moderate trail, take the shuttle to stop 1 the Visitor Center. The Watchman trail is located at stop 1. This is a great trail for more amazing views. Tip: This trail can be muddy when wet. Watchman Trail Location: Stop 1 Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3.3 miles out and- back Elevation: 368 ft Bonus Hikes: If the weather is good, plan to hike The Narrows via Riverside Walk. We were not able to hike the trail this time due to the weather, but I hear that the trail is amazing. This trail takes you through the river and the water has been known to be at neck level. About 60% of this hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. I recommend renting equipment from the shop in Zion Canyon Village (It’s right next to the Springdale Shuttle Stop). Tip: Plan to do this hike on day one or day two. It's best to reserve a day for this hike. Location: Stop 9 Difficulty: Hard Distance: up to 9.4 miles and can take up to 8 hours to hike Elevation: 334 ft Bonus Trips: Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel A mountain tunnel road that leads to beautiful canyon views. Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon is another National Park located about 2 hrs. from Zion National Park. Overall, Zion National Park is a great park to visit! I hope this post will assist you in planning your trip to Zion or inspire you to visit Zion National Park!

  • 48- Hours in Paris 2-Day Itinerary

    Paris, the capital of France, is known for its rich history, exquisite cuisine, and stunning architecture. Often referred to as the "City of Love" and the "City of Lights," it is renowned for its romantic ambiance, world-class art collections, and iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. With its charming streets, sidewalk cafes, and picturesque riverbanks, Paris remains one of the world's most popular and beloved travel destinations. In this post, I'll share the itinerary that I used to discover the best of Paris in just 48 hours! Get ready for a whirlwind journey through the enchanting streets, iconic landmarks, and mouthwatering cuisine that make the City of Lights an unforgettable destination. Tips: Purchase tickets for tours in advance. The earlier the better. Before purchasing flights, make sure your passport is up to date and it won't expire within 6 months of your travel dates. If it is set to expire, you will need to renew your passport. Sign up for the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP). Allows U.S. citizens and nationals to share information about their trip with the closest U.S. Embassy. STEP will help the U.S. Embassy contact you in a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or expensive clothing to help avoid theft. Purchase European electrical outlet adapters. The European countries do not use the same electrical outlets that we use in the U.S. Make copies of your passport and keep your passport on you at all times. When to Visit: According to Travel + Leisure magazine, the busiest time of year is May - September and July is one of the busiest months. They recommend visiting between October and April to avoid some of the crowds. When I visited Paris, I went the last week in May and it wasn’t too busy but this was also pre-Covid. How to Get There: There are several ways to get to Paris. If traveling from the U.S. you will travel by plane and, most likely arrive at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport. If you decide to arrive in another city in Europe first and then travel to Paris, other transportation options are available including a bus or train. Where to Stay: There are several amazing hotels located in Paris, but we opted for a hotel with a boutique hotel brand called Astotel. Hotel Joyce was a cozy hotel that provided an amazing breakfast buffet and comfy beds. The hotel was also in a great location with close access to public transportation. Transportation: During our trip, we used the Paris Metro to get around the city. It was easy to use and we purchased a two-day pass that provided us unlimited use of the metro. Safety: Before I traveled to Paris, I did a lot of research on the safety of the city. I found that for the most part, the tourist areas are pretty safe, but there have also been occurrences of pickpockets in these same areas. We bought a neck wallet to hold our money in and our passports, which worked well for us. Budget: Your budget for Paris can vary in pricing. We spent around $150 U.S. dollars/ night on our hotel and an additional $300 U.S. dollars total on tours. 48-Hr Itinerary Day 1 Start your morning at your hotel and if you stay at the Hotel Joyce or another Astotel hotel, enjoy their delicious breakfast. The breakfast was one of the best hotel breakfast buffets that I have ever had at a hotel. They had a variety of pastries, meat options, and cappuccinos. Next, take a ride on a 1 hr. River Seine Cruise. During the cruise, you will see beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower, and other famed sites. After, the River Cruise take a walk over to the Eiffel Tower. Bonus: If you are willing to splurge, book reservations for lunch at the Madame Brasserie (formerly known as 58 Tour Eiffel) a restaurant located within the Eiffel Tower. I would say the food was average, but the experience was unforgettable! Tip: If you do decide to make reservations at the Madame Brasserie, be sure to make reservations in advance. After lunch, travel to Champs de Elysees. Champs de Elysees is a famous avenue with shops, restaurants, and the Arch de Triomphe. For a budget-friendly dinner, stop at the Brioche Doree a local Paris franchise selling sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Day 2 Start your morning with another delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel then head over to the Louvre a popular Paris museum that houses the famous Mona Lisa painting. This is a nice area in Paris to stroll around after you finish touring the museum. Next, head over to the Montmartre neighborhood for a food tour with Secret Food Tours. This is a guided walking tour through Montmartre and along the way your guide will take you to local eateries. This was a great food tour and a great way to learn more about the culture of Paris from a local. The tours are usually 3 ½ - 4 hours long, so booking the afternoon will allow time for exploring the city in the morning. Tip: This is another tour that requires advanced booking. I hope you find this 48-Hour Paris itinerary helpful as you plan your trip or it inspires you to book a trip to Paris! Au revoir!

  • 10 Ideas For Planning a Budget-Friendly Staycation

    Planning a budget-friendly staycation can be just as rewarding as traveling somewhere far from home. This post will discuss 10 ideas for how you can plan an enjoyable, budget-friendly experience without leaving your city: 1. Research Local Activities: Research the attractions, parks, museums, and events in your area. You might be surprised by how many interesting things you haven't explored yet. 2. Plan Day Trips: Explore nearby towns or natural areas you haven't visited before. Day trips can provide a change of scenery without the cost of overnight accommodation. 3. Outdoor Adventures: Nature offers a wealth of budget-friendly activities. Go hiking, have a picnic, or explore local trails. Outdoor adventures are not only economical but also great for your well-being. 4. Visit Cultural Sites: Seek out local historical sites, cultural centers, and landmarks. They often have affordable or free entry and can offer insights into your region's history and heritage. 5. Attend Free Events: Keep an eye out for free events, festivals, markets, and community gatherings happening in your area. These events can provide entertainment and a sense of community. 6. Try New Hobbies: Use your budget-friendly adventure to try new hobbies or activities you've been curious about. It could be painting, cooking a new cuisine, or learning a musical instrument. 7. Culinary Exploration: Experiment with cooking new recipes at home. You can explore international cuisines and learn to make dishes you've never tried before. 8. Create a Travel-Inspired Movie Night: Watch movies or documentaries that are set in your dream travel destinations. Pair it with cuisine from that region for a travel-inspired movie night. 9. Photography Exploration: Pretend to be a tourist in your city. Grab your camera or smartphone and explore your town from a photographer's perspective. 10. Explore Local Arts: Check out local art galleries, theaters, museums, and live music venues. Many communities offer affordable or even free performances and exhibitions. Remember, the key to a successful budget-friendly adventure at home is to approach it with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. By exploring your local area with fresh eyes and a willingness to try new things, you can have a fulfilling and enjoyable experience without breaking the bank. Plan out your days with a schedule of activities, meals, and relaxation time. Treating your staycation like a real vacation can make it more special.

  • Fall Day Trip Guide to Big Bear Lake, CA

    Big Bear is a small mountain town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Situated in the San Bernardino National Forest along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, it is a popular year-round resort destination known for its outdoor recreational activities and scenic beauty. The city is a two- to three-hour drive from San Diego, making it a convenient day trip or a weekend getaway. In this post, I’ll share my fall day trip guide to Big Bear! When to Visit: You can plan a visit to Big Bear any time of the year. Many people in San Diego visit during the winter months for skiing and snowboarding. The fall season is a popular time to visit for cooler weather and foliage viewing. Where to Stay: If you plan to turn your day trip into a weekend getaway, there are many places to stay in Big Bear, from Airbnb to cabins. Tips: On the way to Big Bear, there are several turnouts to stop along the road with gorgeous views of the San Bernadino National Forest. Day Trip Guide I started my morning with a hike at one of Big Bear’s most popular hikes, Castle Rock Trail. Castle Rock is about 2.4 miles round trip and is rated as intermediate/difficult. The hike has nice views of the lake and during the fall it’s a great place for fall foliage viewing. The hike is not well marked and it can be a little challenging to stay on the path. I recommend downloading the Alltrails app or asking other people along the trail to assist you, so you don't get lost. For additional trails to choose from visit After the hike, I headed over to Tropicali a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant. I had their Tikijuana, which is a teriyaki BBQ chicken bowl. It tasted fresh and had a good flavor. I’m looking forward to trying more restaurants in Big Bear the next time I visit. After lunch take a short walk to the village and explore the shops. For additional activities in Big Bear consider: Renting bikes and biking along one of the many scenic bike routes. Kayak across Big Bear Lake Go on a Segway Tour I’m looking forward to my next day trip to Big Bear, exploring more and hiking new trails. I hope this post is helpful as you plan your day trip to Big Bear!

  • 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!

  • 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 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 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!

  • Anchorage, Alaska Summer Guide: 4 Fun Things to Do in Anchorage

    Anchorage is a city located in the state of Alaska and with a population of close to 300,000, it contains nearly 40% of the state’s population. Summer in Anchorage is one of the best times to visit, with temperatures reaching the high 60s and the Summer solstice giving up to 23 hours of daylight, there are endless possibilities for adventure. Here are 4 exciting activities to do during your visit to Anchorage. 1. Rent Bikes and Take a Ride Down the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail The 22-mile out-and-back trail is a popular route in Anchorage. Many visitors and tourists use this trail for walking, biking, running, and bird watching. This was a really nice bike ride with beautiful coastal, forest, and mountain views. We even saw a moose along the way. This is a great activity to get outdoors and explore. 2. Go for a Hike in Chugach State Park Located just 23 minutes from the city center, sits one of the four largest state parks in the U.S. The park spans 495,000 acres and contains miles of trails for every skill and adventure level. We hiked one of the most popular trails in the park called Flattop Mountain. This trail is 2.8 miles of a steep uphill climb with a rock scramble as you get closer to the top. It’s a great trail for those that want a challenging hike and the views are breathtaking. 3. Visit the Saturday and Sunday Market When it’s Summer in Anchorage every weekend locals and visitors head to Alaska’s largest open-air market! This is a great place to shop from local artisans and eat at local food stands. I tried “Korn Fritters” with honey butter at the Alaskan Halibut stand and they were delicious! 4. Sip through Anchorage’s Craft Beer Scene Did you know that per capita Alaska is ranked number 4 nationally in craft beer production and 8th in the number of breweries? I didn’t, I just found out recently! If you are not a beer drinker but you are traveling with someone that is, many of these breweries also have delicious food and ciders to enjoy. My favorite place was the 49th State Brewing Co. located in downtown Anchorage. This brewpub has a rooftop deck with gorgeous views and delicious food. There are many activities and tours to do in Anchorage making this a great city to explore during your visit to Alaska.

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