Fall is one of the best times of year. Halloween Parties (throwing one &need some inspiration?), Pumpkin Patches and FASHION has a super fun moment: bring on the booties, scarves and hats!
Booties, boots & mules; fall has some of the best footwear to offer. The knee-high Steve Madden boots are the perfect go-to paired with a sweater dress or dark jeans and a cropped sweater. I pair the Tahari mules with an pair of jeans with an unfinished edge and a cozy sweater. These MIA lace-up booties are one of my absolute favorites, and go great with a pair of leather leggings or skinny jeans.
Finding the right jacket is essential to completing an outfit. This Sinuous blanket coat, New York & Co. olive jacket, and this leather jacket (bought from Target AGES ago #oldiebutgoodie – I’ve linked a similar one here) are three of my favorite choices for outerwear before I have to start breaking out the heavy layers for winter!
And we can’t forget the accessories! This floppy hat is another #oldiebutgoodie (I’ve seriously made it last for three years of wear!) – I’ve tagged a similar one to it here. This nude clutch is from Aldo and honestly goes with everything. The gold chain strap and detail on the front dress it up for any occasion, too. As for the sunglasses, those I snagged off the streets of NYC for $5.00 – but check out DIFF eyewear for some trendy looks in sunnies like this one!
Below are some of my favorite ways to pair the pieces. These gray and white lace-up sweaters are from Old Navy, and are a bit oversized for a cozy feel. Pair them with light or dark jeans (Mavi dark jeans pictured in the middle) and booties or mules. On the right, this comfy Lush off-the-shoulder sweater (I’ve linked something similar for a great price from Nordstrom Rack here!) goes perfectly with knee-high boots and dark jeans. You could also dress this look down with the mules! Lace-up, ruffles, and over-sized sweaters are in – so discover ways that you can pair these styles with your fav booties!
So whether you’re excited for winter or hanging on to summer, we can certainly agree that fall has some fabulous trends that we hope will stick around for a while. Long live the booties.
Running out of time to find your costume? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping on 35 DIY Costumes!
Pumpkin String lights, jack-o-lantern stemless wine glasses, spooky ghouls, you’ll want to have it all for your Halloween Party. Whether your taste is classy or sassy your house lit up in an orange glow will really make an impression on your guests. Target is your place for all of the ghoul-y goods!
Who doesn’t like something punny? These ‘Here for the Boos’ & ‘Eat, Drink and Be Scary’ one use items are an easy way for your guests to appreciate your attention to detail without you spending a fortune. These were found at Marshalls.
Serve Up The Spookiest Cocktail
Since this is in fact a PARTY, we know your guests will be HERE for the boozeBOOs! There are lots of fun cocktails to make your Halloween Party superb. A signature drink make any guest feel like they want to have 1 (or 3) glasses of it. Get your #basic on with this Pumpkin Punch from Honestly Yum and Poison Apple Punch from Julep. My PERSONAL favorite are these Caramel Apple Mimosas. They’ve been a hit at several Halloween parties!
Your Own Unique Party Tricks
Because we’re too old to hire magicians for parties (still so tempting, tbh) it’s essential that as a host you’ve pulled out some special tricks out of your own hat to wow your guests.
My favorite is creating a pumpkin tap and serving beer directly out of a fresh pumpkin. Here are some directions on how to do so, via Kegworks!
Use Amazon Alexa to build your best spooky playlist. Your friends will appreciate the ambiance. (Plus you can say things like: Alexa, play Monster Mash when your boozy friends want to dance in your kitchen after one too many Caramel Apple Mimosas.)
The ol’ Frozen Hand in the Punch Bowl Trick is a classic party trick. Fill a rubber glove with water and freeze it. Then after you’ve made your special punch (see above) cut the glove off of your frozen ‘hand’ and place the hand in the bowl. Your guests will be equally excited and freaked out when trying the punch!
Games Worthy of a Spooky Time
Because we all like to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane, have guests write their favorite Halloween costume from when they were young on an index card. Add them to a cork board and have each guest guess who each costume belongs to. (Bonus: you’ll each get at least one correct, right?) For party and office supplies for these games, look no further than Target.
While we may not all be a fan of scary movies – it’s still fun to incorporate them to give your party a haunting twist! Play Guess That Scary Movie! Print out screenshots of scenes from your favorite movies and have guests guess each scary movie. (Editor’s Note: I was too scared to look up any other screen shots except for Saw, so you’re on your own for this one!)
Grab n’ Guess – Put some slimy/oddly shaped food in a shoe box wrapped in fun Halloween paper. Make your friends stick their hand in the box and guess what they’re feeling. Some good suggestions for this game: Jell-O & gummy worms (guts), peeled grapes (eyeballs), cooked spaghetti put in the refrigerator (brains). Here’s a link to some additional info & directions to this game!
Most of all, don’t forget to EAT, DRINK & BE SCARY! We hope you’re Halloween Party is SPOOKtacular!
Charlotte, North Carolina is a booming, beautiful city that is quickly becoming home to many new families each year. Whether it is the progress in local economic development, the warmer climate with many hikes and lots of outdoor draw, or the growing beer and local food scene – Charlotte is the perfect place for a weekend trip! For us, it also means visiting two of our closest friends and their adorable puppy-children, so that’s just one more reason to love this city! [For more of our friends’ Charlotte adventures, follow Taylyn and Ross!]
Friday: Check Out The Beer Scene
With its growing and thriving beer scene, Charlotte has plenty of opportunity to drink the local brews. Whether you want to walk or drive to different breweries, there’s definitely something for everyone. If you’re a beer-lover who appreciates the art of the craft – Old Mecklenburg Brewery is where you should begin your beer tour. When they opened their doors in 2009, they were the only local brewery in Charlotte! Now one of many breweries, OMB still stands out with its indoor rustic charm and is 8-acre outdoor beer garden surrounded by 100-year-old oak trees with an atmosphere welcoming to any family, dog owner, or beer-loving-millennial. They’ve got a great selection of classic beer choices, with their own spin on a few as well. You could spend several hours here playing corn hole, sitting by a fire pit or listening to live music during special events.
You’ll also want to hit up Wooden Robot, a brewery in Charlotte’s South End offering a fun, casual atmosphere with lots of beer variety. A newer brewery in Charlotte, their playful name matches the spirit of the brewery – with beers like “Nuts and Bolts” and “Barking Up The Right Tree.” Sit outside or inside on comfy couches or bar stools, and make sure you get a flight of their cleverly named brews!
Sycamore Brewing, also in Charlotte’s South end, is not only home to some great beer, but also to (I hope you’re sitting down for this) Food Truck Fridays. Food Trucks ranging from sushi, tacos, burgers and more line up on Sycamore’s property on select Friday nights to offer drinkers a bit of sustenance while they have a few brews. Sycamore’s got a great indoor feel, but most people flock to the massive outdoor patio with community picnic tables, where there are a ton of opportunities to pet neighboring dogs. (That’s really what everyone wants at a brewery right – cute dogs, good beer and food trucks?)
Finish up your Friday at Sugar Creek Brewing Company, with great beer, 90s music playing upon entry, a beautifully lit patio, and a massive connect four set begging you to play. With large glass windows in their tap room you can see right into their brewery, showcasing their huge stainless steel equipment adding to their industrial vibe. Sugar Creek probably had one of the more extensive beer lists, with lots of featured brews and rotating taps. Definitely a place to get a flight of four, I recommend the Raspberry White Ale and the Java Porter!
Saturday: Visit the U.S. National White Water Center
The U.S National White Water Center could easily provide you a full day of activity in Charlotte. Who knew this large city was home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river with a wide range of outdoor activities including whitewater rafting and kayaking, zip lines, ropes courses and more! Choose either a full day pass for all available activities, or pay for just one activity (we chose a ropes course!) for a few hours of fun. With plenty of diverse ways to play, any family or group of friends could stay for as little or as long as you’d like at this amazing facility.
After you’ve worked up a sweat, or been dunked in the white water river, make sure to stop at the Pump House Beirgarten for a cold beverage. With a variety of local beers on tap, you’ll be able to sit at picnic tables overlooking nearby rafters with a 360-degree view of the center. You can grab small snacks at the beirgarten, or head up to River’s Edge restaurant, with a wide menu of wine, beer and food. Smokehouse style dishes are also offered onsite at the Land Yacht.
On Thursday and Saturday nights throughout summer and early fall, the White Water Center also offers a River Jam, presenting local and national music acts to entertain guests after a full day of activity. Bring your camping chairs or hammock and set up directly in front of the stage surrounded by the man-made whitewater river.
Note: If you only wish to attend the White Water center for the food, music and libations- you pay $10.00 per carload to enter the facility; you don’t have to buy a ‘pass’ to spectate.
Sunday: All About The Dough
Sunday Funday is all about eating, right? See how full you can get yourself on your Sunday with donuts, crepes and pizza. Here were three of our favorites:
Sugar Donuts offers gourmet, handmade donuts with flavors galore. I’m a traditional donut lover myself so I sampled the glazed donut (and was not disappointed!) but you could go big and try one of their crazy flavors like Maple Bacon!
Hazelnuts Creperie is a breakfast or brunch treat for any crepe lover out there. Choose between breakfast crepes, savory crepes, or sweet dessert crepes – filling them with everything from eggs, nutella, buffalo chicken (not all at the same time, unless that’s your thing) and more. Take friends – you’ll want to get one of each of the crepe styles and share bite-for-bite! I went with a dessert crepe, stuffed with banana, chocolate chips and peanut butter.
Inizio’s Pizza is a local pizza shop that offers authentic Neapolitan style pizza. We ordered three different kinds (three flavors, four pizzas, six friends – carb-loading at its finest!) of pizza and we were not disappointed. Pistachio, Margarita and Diavolo (a spicy meat style pizza) were all delicious – though the pistachio was the group favorite overall; this pizza is made with pesto sauce, lumps of delicious mozzarella and crumbled pistachios covering the top.
If you’ve got additional time in this city, Charlotte is home to an expanding city center, local hikes, and Bank of America Stadium where you can catch the Carolina Panthers on Sundays. With so much at your fingertips, it is easy to fall in love with the Carolina Charmer that is CLT.
‘Living Aloha’: a motto that Hawaiians live by. You’ll find that sentiment on street signs, at the top of brochures, and on restaurant menus. It means to be kind, support one another, and live freely. After a week of living aloha, it’s easy why some may vacation to this beautiful state and find themselves moving there in the future.
There is so much to do and see on any of the Hawaiian islands. But don’t go to Oahu without seeing or doing the following 10 things:
Haleiwa & The North Shore
Paradise Cove Luau
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Sunset on the Leeward Side
1. Hiking Diamond Head:
If you’re looking for adventure on Oahu, look no further than the Diamond Head State Monument that was once used by the military as a post to prevent attacks against Honolulu. The breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu make this 300,000 year old crater hike (not for the faint of heart) absolutely worth the trip. If you wake up on the brave side of the bed that morning, there are two ‘restricted’ areas you can climb to for 365 degree views of Honolulu, where there are less hikers for a prime photo op. Make sure you grab a coconut and drink straight from it with a straw at the end of your hike!
2. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
I have snorkeled in the Bahamas and Antigua before, and the snorkeling trip to Hanauma Bay was by far the most spectacular. Visitors must pay to park and enter this natural preserve, where Hawaii is devoting time and money to protecting the coral reef. Down a steep incline (oh yea, you’ll definitely want that panorama shot!) you’ll trek toward the beach, where you can enter the cove full of fish and other sea life. The water is very shallow, and one can easily swim to any part of the cove in the calm, clear water. You can easily spend hours at Hanauma Bay, whether it’s relaxing on the beach or swimming with the fish. Author’s note: Watch out for the eels. Hanauma Bay was the most impressive snorkeling I’ve ever done, but after my ‘eel sighting’ it was also the most terrifying.
3. Road Trip up the North Shore & Visit Haleiwa
No matter where you’re staying on the island, make sure you take a day to spend on the North Shore. On the way up the coast, stop at the renowned Dole Pineapple Plantation (oh and do yourself a favor and get the biggest cup of Dole Pineapple Whip ice cream that you can possibly hold in your hands). Fun fact: This plantation is also home to the world’s largest maze! Once you head to the shore, there will be lots of cool local beaches to visit. Here you can catch some serious surfing action in the winter time, or spot sea turtles in the summer. Drive through the quaint, revitalized town of Haleiwa. There are tons of local boutique shops, yummy restaurants, and my husband’s personal favorite – Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice. We ate at a restaurant right across from the beach called Beach House, that featured an innovative menu with lots of delicious fish and seafood options, boasting a beautiful view of the sunset from the double-decker patio. Bonus: Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev was dining two tables down from us at this restaurant – so be on the look out for celebrity sightings at this tucked away gem on the North Shore.
4. Attend a Luau in Paradise Cove
The luau was one of our favorite activities on the Island. Not only were the Mai Tai’s flowing with authentic Kalua Pork, but it was an opportunity to get a taste of the culture of Hawaii with all of the comforts of a backyard party. Fire dancing, catching fresh fish out of the ocean, and spear-throwing were some of the fun activities offered. My in-laws (who had been before) loved the experience all over again, and my parent’s had a wonderful time getting their names translated in ‘Hawaiian’ and my Dad even got a (kids-face-paint) tattoo on his face. There are Luaus all over the island, but I would highly recommend the Paradise Cove Luau. They offer three different kinds of seating and packages, with varying pricing. The food, whether you choose served or buffet style was quite good – considering this luau is attended by ~800 people per night. (That’s a lot of Kalua pork!)
5. Touch the beautiful sugary sands at Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is on a side of the island where the beach houses make you think you’re in the Beverly Hills of Oahu. Beautiful, exquisite beach houses that are located along sugary, white sand with crystal clear water. This was one of my favorite parts of our Hawaii trip; we drove around the south east side of the island, with picturesque mountains to our left and white sand to our right. We even stopped into a few open houses (window shopping of course… prices starting at $1.1 M!) to see the view from these fabulous beach homes. This was no HGTV Beachfront Bargain hunt, but it was sure worth looking around to see the walkouts right on to the beach. Lanikai Beach is also close to Kailua, both with public access beaches to check out for the day. Don’t go to Oahu without seeing this lovely side of the island. You’ll feel like you’re walking in flour!
6. Downtown Waikiki
Even on a relaxing beach trip, you’ll want to take a day to visit the hustling bustling city center of Waikiki! Whether you’re looking for breweries, great restaurants or great shopping – Downtown Waikiki has it all. You could spend an entire day walking around and spending all of your vacation money. You almost can’t go wrong with any of the local spots, but don’t miss out on Maui Brewing Company Taproom (not the original brewery, but a great taproom with a variety of beer and a fun beach vibe) or Waikiki Brewing Company which is Waikiki’s first and only brewery.
7. Waikiki Beach
You can’t skip this tourist destination, at least not if it’s your first time to Oahu! Pro-surfers, want-to-be surfers, paddle boarders – no matter what kind of water sport you want to play (or watch!) you’ll find it here. Our family took out an Outrigger Canoe in which all six of us paddle in a large canoe and catch waves like you would on a surfboard. It was a lot of fun, and prepared us perfectly for the beers that were waiting for us after. A well deserved reward after catching waves (bro!). [Tip: Go early to get a good parking spot near the beach – it can be a mad house due the tourist nature!]
8. Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
The Swap Meet, aka Flea Market, was a great experience that my husband and his family used to attend every week. On Wednesdays and Sundays, Aloha Stadium – Home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, opens up it’s parking lot to a plethora of local vendors, selling everything from freshly made pastries, to homemade jewelry, sweatshirts, hats and any kind of souvenir you could ever hope to find. Not necessarily your prime upscale shopping you might find in Waikiki – but a must-stop location for authentic Hawaiian goodies and chatchskis.
9. Pearl Harbor
This historic site is definitely not one to miss on your trip to Oahu. There are lots of free as well as pay-to-see areas of this monument, including submarine tours, opportunities to meet Veterans, and the Arizona Memorial where you can view the sunken ship in the harbor, serving as an active grave. Plan to get there early (people stand in line as early as 5AM) to get a (free) ticket to the Arizona Memorial. They only offer so many tickets per day, and they are always in high demand. It’s a humbling, somber visit – and definitely a worthwhile day spent in Hawaii.
10. Sunset on the Leeward Side of the Island, Ko Olina
Paradise Cove (luau) is located on the West Side of Oahu, so if you’re not staying on that side – the luau is a great opportunity for a beautiful sunset on the leeward side of the island. Even if you’re not staying there, pop into the Disney Resort Aulani right next door to Paradise Cove. It’s a beautiful resort that you might want to stay in the next time you visit Hawaii! Make sure you make it to this side of the island for for unique shopping and restaurants, including a great place with live music and lots of local beer on tap called Monkey Pod. Ko Olina also boasts a beautiful golf course and lots of great family resorts with private and public beach coves. We stayed at the Ko Olina Beach Villas, and had beautiful sunset views off of our balcony every night.
Enjoy, travelers. You may not want to return!
Aloha, and cheers!
Asheville, NC: a mountain town where we quickly found out everyone was much cooler and more trendy than us, and made us adamantly eager to be a part of it. The beer, the food, the art and the culture – all specifically finding a niche in one magnificent southern city.
My husband and I drove the seven hours from Frederick, MD to Asheville, NC on a beautiful Friday afternoon, getting us to our hotel around 10:00 PM. We stayed at the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Asheville, a unique hotel in a perfect location. The hotel was located on Biltmore Ave., a street that runs through the heart of Asheville, surrounded by local restaurants, great breweries, and unique art galleries. We met our friends who drove up to meet us from Virginia Beach, and decided that after a long day of driving, a drink at the hotel bar would suffice until we hit the ground running on Saturday morning. The Aloft had a hotel bar on the main level, where they also housed rescue dogs in hopes that visitors of their hotel would adopt the rescue animals. We would soon find that Asheville was a very dog-friendly town, something that made us like it even more.
Saturday morning started with brunch at Chestnut Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Asheville. This was located right across from our hotel, and had great menu options. I recommend the Avocado Toast, served with bacon and fresh fruit. Oh, and of course a Mimosa on the side.
Next up was The Amazing Pubcycle – which was the most surprising (-ly fun) part of our trip. My husband had booked it impromptu the day before we left for Asheville – four seats on a 12-seater bike that ‘pedals’ through Downtown Asheville with a tour guide and strict BYOB rules. Little did we know this would be such a highlight of our trip! The Pubcycle picked us up right at our hotel, and we climbed on with cans of local beer in tow. The four of us (and eight of our closest new friends) pedaled our way through Asheville, learning about monuments, parks and historic buildings. We were greeted on the pubcycle by our guide Danny, who showered us in funny jokes and classic hits of the 80s, 90s and today. The 40-minute tour only cost $15.00 per person, and was worth every penny. One and a half hour tours were also available, stopping at two breweries on the way. Since we had a full day ahead of us, I’m happy we chose the 40-minute ride, though I think my preferred mode of transportation from now on is absolutely group-cycling. We sang, we drank, we laughed – no better way to start our Saturday in Asheville.
After we begrudgingly exited the pubcycle, we began to make our brewery rounds. Hold on to your seatbelts, folks, because our little foursome covered a lot of ground and drank a lot (a lot) of beer over the course of the next two and a half days. Below are my reviews for our Saturday & Sunday circuit of breweries, including a mean taco stop, some out-of-this-world biscuits (we’re talking like Chris Pratt Guardians of the Galaxy ish), and an amazing experience at the famous Biltmore Estate.
Wicked Weed: One of two brewery locations in Asheville. This brewery had two levels, and an outdoor seating area. Of their two location, this WW offers a wide variety of beer selections, including stouts, Hefeweizens and some sours. Their downstairs level is a ‘themed’ level with servers dressed in ‘wicked’ attire; a sorceress, a hot wench, and a mythical creature were among the people who served us. There was an additional outdoor seating area on the lower level. The blueberry stout, and a fruity saison were among our favorites at this location.
Bhramari Brewing: Our favorite ‘small’ brewery of the trip. This was not a brewery we had heard much about, but we were so happy that we stopped in. Around the back of the building where you enter, there was corn hole, size-large drinking jenga and more outdoor games. We had two flights of delicious beer, and a delicious spent grain pretzel (made from the grain that they’ve used to make beer) served with a jalepeno cheese, and (duh) French fries. Among our favorite beers was an “All The Boys” ‘milk shake’ mango IPA, and The Good Fight – a sour pale ale. The Carolina Common was a seasonal beer we liked, and we were overall impressed by their selection of beers. Definitely make time on your trip to Asheville for this brewery.
Wicked Weed Funkatorium: The king of all sour brewery locations. This is the second location of two in the WW franchise, specializing in only sours. We tried five or six different sours in a flight and weren’t disappointed by any. The vibe of this brewery was great, almost like you were sitting in a medieval times meeting room, where everything was wood and the beer was just as solid. A favorite at this brewery was ‘Oblivion,’ a red wine barrel aged sour with blackberries.
Catawba – South Slope: One of our favorite sours of the trip was this brewery’s “Sour Zombie” which is a sour version of their “White Zombie” beer. This was a huge room with vaulted ceilings and an industrial feel, packed full wall to wall of people lining up to try their beer. We felt as though we were in a ‘fancy garage’ giving it a welcoming vibe to all who entered.
White Duck Taco: Imagine anything you could possibly throw onto a tortilla, and then imagine getting the thing you’ve always wanted on Christmas morning – this was White Duck Taco. From Steak and Cheese tacos (my personal favorite) to Spicy Buffalo Tacos, to the Pork Belly Tacos, you could literally fulfill any craving you’ve ever had at this great restaurant. The line out the door was both warrented and worth the wait. The four of us walked out with 10 tacos to share, and we all basically fell into a food coma after eating our weight in meat-wrapped-flour. A MUST-visit in Asheville. (Author’s note: there are positively no pictures of this stop, as the tacos were devoured before my brain could even process taking a photo. YUM.)
Green Man Brewery: This brewery started as a small, open air brewery and has now expanded into a large industrial building down the street. You don’t have to walk far to see both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ so I recommend trying to hit both. (Both have the same beers.) I had probably one of my favorite beers at this brewery (the ‘new’ location) Snozzberry Barrel Aged Sour; a beautiful pink/purple color with the right amount of fruit and a perfect amount of sour.
Burial Beer Company: This brewery had a great outdoor area, with a bar indoors as well as a bar and kitchen outside. We went around the twilight hour making the outdoor lights and picnic tables a desirable atmosphere. We recommend you try Deep in the Orbit Sour Pale Ale, or the Surf Wax IPA.
One World Brewing Co.: Located in the basement through an alley hidden away, this brewery is a great stop to have a beer if you need a cool place to take a break. With a basement like atmosphere, we’re happy we dropped in to end our night. Not necessarily a must see, but also not a bad selection of beers either.
(Author’s Note: It was extra hard to get up on Sunday morning after all of the beer fun we had on Saturday… but we pressed on.)
Biscuit Head: This restaurant was recommended to us by several friends. We waited 45 minutes to get into this restaurant, but it was worth every minute of the wait. Do not miss this restaurant on your Asheville trip, and do not skip out on the Gravy flight. We tried a Sweet Potato Coconut Gravy, a chive and pork sausage gravy, and a fried chicken gravy in our flight. With so many options on their menu, it’s easy to divert to something interesting and unique, but I chose to stick to the classic choice: biscuits and gravy. I had the classic gravy smothered in two biscuits and a side of bacon – it was voted in our foursome as the best meal of the morning! Also, if you get just plain biscuits with your meal, there are several different jams and jellies – everything from sour cherry to bananas foster! Stick to the classics, or get a little crazy: at this restaurant, they can’t do anything wrong. Bonus: they have a “Put some south in your mouth” shirt; you may want to buy that as well.
Biltmore Estate, Home of the Vanderbilt’s: You could spend an entire day at the Biltmore Estate, originally built as a home for the Vanderbilt family. Spend the money to tour the house, a two our tour that will leave you in awe of one man’s vision and one family’s home for years before the Great Depression. You will see only 35 of the 255 rooms in the Vanderbilt home, but it will leave you speechless. My favorite part was the basement, where George Vanderbilt’s daughter and her husband hosted a New Year’s Eve party; they drew and painted murals on the walls according to their NYE theme, and the murals still cover the walls, untouched, today. George Vanderbilt also had a private bowling alley in his home, as well as an indoor swimming pool (shown below). On site restaurants and beautiful gardens make this an ideal photo spot (#selfielife), and a great way to spend a beautiful warm afternoon.
Antler Village Winery: This Village full of restaurants, shops and the featured winery offers much to anyone looking to stay on the Biltmore Estate property even after walking the house and the gardens. You can receive complimentary wine tastings, learn the history of the on-site winery, and participate in fun activities on the premises, such as a ‘grape stomp’ where you get to experience what it’s like to stomp on wine grapes. If you’re interested in staying on property, the Biltmore Village offers two hotels right on site for guests who wish to immerse themselves in the Biltmore Estate for the weekend. Definitely plan to spend a full day on the Estate to catch everything you’ll want to do!
Catawba – Biltmore Village: This is brewery number two in the Catawba brewery family, offering a great second location just minutes from the Biltmore Estate. The King Coconut porter was a favorite at this location, though we liked just about everything they had on tap. Similar to their original Catawba location, they had the White Zombie, an IPA you definitely will want to try.
Hi-Wire Brewing – Big Top: A close second when it came to our favorite small/local brewery in Asheville. The Citra Gose was my favorite beer from our trip, and that emerged from this brewery. They had corn hole, a food truck, and a great theme for the brewery that was built around a circus, hence the name ‘big top.’ Hi-Wire also has two locations, but we only made it to this one on our trip. Definitely a worth wile stop, with a patio for bringing your dog or sitting outside, or simply a nice open area to gather a group of friends.
Farm House Burger: A local, grass-fed burger place that stole our hearts with good burgers, good fries and great beer on tap. Hint: try an adult milkshake that’s made with one of the local beers on tap. You won’t be disappointed! (Author’s note: we went on National Burger Day! I think that made the burgers taste even better.)
Thirsty Monk: A great local stop with lots of local breweries beers on tap, as well as their own beer! Three different levels in this bar: a cocktail lounge with limited seating and a variety of specialty cocktails, the main bar with lots of beer on tap, and the basement which features a variety of styles in Belgium Beer. We stuck to the main level, but definitely try to hit all three!
Asheville Brewing Co: Great pizza, great logo (seriously, you’ll want a t-shirt). Not our favorite beer during the trip, but they’ve got a wide enough selection that you’ll be able to find something you like!
Hole Doughnuts: An adorable little hut in the Riverside district of Asheville, owned by a former Disney actress and her husband. The doughnuts are the size of your face, and are made hot and fresh right in front of you. Seriously, you can sit at the ‘doughnut bar’ and watch them be made. There’s only seating for about 20 people at a time, so you’ll wait in line to be served and to sit. Between the four of us, we ordered 14 donuts, and they were all gone within minutes. Tip: get there early to reserve your seat in their outdoor blue ‘doughnut bus’ – a table for four built into an old bus that sits on their property with their logo painted on the side. Our favorite flavor of doughnut was the cinnamon toasted almond doughnut, with the beignet doughnut taking up a close second.
Sierra Nevada: I cannot say enough about this marvelous brewery on the outskirts of Asheville. While it was mostly a walking town for us, heading to Mills River, NC took us about 20 minutes in a car. It was most definitely worth it. At first we were going to avoid any ‘large scale’ breweries, as we typically like to hit and support all of the local brewers on our trip. But as this was on our way out of town, we decided why not – let’s give this one a shot. Whether or not the Memorial Day Monday had anything to do with the popularity of this brewery, we’ll never be sure; however, this brewery had great food, great beer, live music on an impressive outdoor amphitheater space, an enormous fire pit, rocking chairs, outdoor seating, a wrap around bar indoors… the list goes on. Make sure you don’t miss this brewery, even if you have to drive just a little bit. The Otra Vez is their Gose, and it is delicious. My husband enjoyed the Tropical Torpedo, a seasonal twist on their Torpedo IPA. Bonus: they let us sample their new Oktoberfest beer that will be coming out in fall – definitely be sure to pick that up in stores! A flight is a way to go at this brewery on account of the mass amounts of beer they make at this brewery and taproom. Make sure to try the House Pizza and duck fat fries – you won’t be disappointed.
So if you’ve skipped to the bottom of this atrociously long blog post about the city of Asheville, here is the definitive ranking of our top 5 that you must-see and must-do in this mountain town:
The Amazing Pubcycle – Downtown Asheville
Biltmore Estate, House Tour & Winery Visit – Biltmore Village
Biscuit Head – Biltmore Village
Hole Doughnuts – Riverside District of Asheville
White Duck Taco – Downtown Asheville
Here for the Beer:
Sierra Nevada Brewery & Taproom – Mills River, NC
Bhramari Brewing Co. – Downtown Asheville
Hi-Wire Big Top – Downtown Asheville
Wicked Weed & Funkatorium – Downtown Asheville
Green Man Brewery (new location) – Downtown Asheville
This is a city we will definitely be traveling back to… after, of course, our livers recover from our first go’round.
Liberty Mountain Resort is a resort located in Fairfield, PA, just 45 minutes from Frederick, MD. My husband and I first stumbled upon this resort when we were looking for a venue for our wedding two-and-a-half years ago.
So often I see friends and family ask for a weekend destination that is reasonably priced and not a daunting distance away. When we stumbled upon Liberty, we couldn’t have been more pleased with what we found, and they continue to impress us as we continue to visit. In 2014 when we were checking out LMR, there were some really great features that sold us on this venue. Not only was the wedding site gorgeous (Boulder Ridge Lodge; in the spring, it’s a wedding venue and in the winter it is their tubing site!), but they had an on-site hotel as well as a bar/restaurant for rehearsal dinner and post-reception fun. It made for the perfect wedding experience for us. As of 2016, they opened a brand new hotel with two new restaurants and two new wedding venues. We got married at LMR on July 4, 2015 and every now and then we try to return to spend an evening or a weekend in a place that will always feel romantic to us.
BUT ~ if you’re not totally sap-attack like I am, and are simply looking for a great place to escape for the day or weekend, Liberty is a great place, that offers so much, without having to go far.
Many assume that Liberty Mountain Resort is a ski resort and nothing more. While it does boast great trails for skiers and snowboarders in the winter for a cozy ‘snowed-in’ feel, the spring time is equally enjoyable (if not more enjoyable for us warm-weather lovers!) to visit. Their 18-hole golf course offers beautiful views of the mountains that surround the resort, with holes that are both challenging and pleasant for the player. The cost is reasonable during the peak season, but if you can sneak in in the ‘off-season’ (before Memorial Day) you get really great rates to play a round of 9 or 18. John and I played a round of 9 on the beautiful 70-degree day in March, and while the course hadn’t fully recovered from the snow and winter yet, it was still a beautiful day to be out.
Liberty has opened two new restaurants within their new hotel. The Eagle and The Owl and Ike’s Chophouse. John and I visited The Eagle and The Owl after our round of golf, and couldn’t have been more pleased with the food, service and draft beer selection. While it is the off-season and generally everything is a bit slowed down at the resort, it was still great to be able to dine al fresco and enjoy our pub-style food (crab dip appetizer, each with different burgers as our entrees) and craft beer. Ike’s Chophouse is a little more upscale, featuring a more extensive menu such as charcuterie, filet, crab cakes, rack of lamb and more. These two restaurants are added to their pre-existing option, McKee’s Tavern, which is a great place for a sandwich and a beer in a very casual, low-key setting. Each of these options offers something for everyone.
This crab dip was to die for! Weekends are for carbs and cheese, right?
Freshened up after golf for a beer on the patio.
Shuffle board table (where I reigned champion).
The (Brand New) Hotel:
The new hotel at Liberty is stunning on the inside, with new beautiful rooms to stay in as well. It adds more space at the resort to the already renovated slop side hotel. You can’t go wrong with either option if you’re looking for a spacious and updated room. The Highland Hotel’s new lobby offers a two story fireplace with views overlooking the patio and golf course. Below the two levels of rooms, there is a beautiful new spa, indoor pool and Golf Simulation center with attached pro-shop for golfers. Whether you are a couple, a group of golfers, or a group of ladies looking to get away – the new Highland side offers so much to choose from. The Highland side is where The Eagle and the Owl and Ike’s Chophouse are located, and slope-side is where McKee’s Tavern is located. The slope-side also has the outdoor pool area and tiki bar in the summer.
The Eagle and The Owl features live music on the weekends, and a shuffle board table in their trendy bar and restaurant area. On the outdoor patio, a large fire pit with comfortable couch seating invites you out for a beer by the fire (when the fire calls, you listen) and beautiful mountain views.
While this trip was only for a day-date/night to celebrate spring and warm weather, LMR is a great way to feel like you’re getting far away from it all without having to go far for even a full-weekend getaway. And I’ll take just about any reason to celebrate! (This weekend, I celebrated-no-bystanders-hit-by-Kelsey’s-golf-ball while playing a round of nine…)
Another three-day weekend, another travel opportunity! We love holiday weekends so much that we got married on one, purposely to have the opportunity to travel in celebration every year. [Author’s note: This trip was so packed with beer, snow and fun that it has taken my body an entire week to recover, and my mind an entire week to grasp everything that we got ourselves into. I have spared no detail!]
This excursion took us to Denver, CO – a state that neither of us had been to before. We wanted to explore this city that is known for its mile-high elevation, its local craft breweries, and its superbly-cool culture. (Seriously, we were worried we might not be ‘cool’ enough to fit in… jury’s still out on that theory.)
Our loose itinerary included exploring the Lower Downtown ‘LoDo’ Denver near where we were staying on Friday; snowmobiling in Winter Park, CO and exploring (aka drinking all of the beer in) Boulder, CO; and on Sunday, exploring the River North ‘RiNo’ area of Denver on Sunday. (Monday’s itinerary: sobbing and whining that we’d have to head home.)
When we landed in Denver, not even the jetlag, 40-minute Lyft ride nor the time difference could stop us from having three beers with lunch at one of the most innovative tap rooms in all of Denver. Euclid Hall had unique food, and a great atmosphere with endless selections of local craft beer. The building was built in 1883 giving it a distinctive vibe, and the staff couldn’t have been any more pleasant. Euclid Hall gave us a warm welcome and knew just how to quench our thirst.
After checking into our Airbnb on 15th Street in Downtown Denver, we headed to three breweries for food and drink that evening. We loved staying on 15th because we found ourselves in the middle of everything; just one block from the 16th street walking mall, a three-minute walk to several Denver breweries, and famous restaurants including Sam’s No. 3 Diner. Friday led us on a journey to several boozy stops. [Author’s note: the beer may or may not have tasted better the more we had to drink; everyone around us got funnier, and better looking, too… weird.]
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Typically we try to avoid ‘chain’ restaurants during our travel, but this particular location was recommended by locals for the vibe, food options and wide selection of adult beverage. We both found beer that we enjoyed, and the bartenders were helpful with information for we tourists. I’d recommend this if you don’t know where to get started yet on a trip, and want to start somewhere that’s got a little more variety than a typical brewery.
Strange Craft Brewery
A MUST on your trip to Denver; don’t be discouraged by the location which is in an old industrial park off by itself. This is without a doubt a place for locals, mostly everyone was decked out in Patagonia and flannels with a cool casual vibe. The brewers & staff were super-friendly, and we enjoyed a full flight of everything they had on tap that evening Delicious beer, friendly atmosphere. Bonus: they had a taco truck on site and while they can’t take all the credit – the food was a big selling point as well.
Two breweries and lots of beer in, we didn’t realize at first that Tivoli was located on University of Colorado’s campus; this made it even cooler after the fact. Tivoli was located in an old train station that has transformed into something of a student center. We had a flight that included several wheat beers and IPAs, which were well made. Definitely one to check out if you’ve got the time and would also like to see CU’s campus.
We woke up hungover and excited to tackle Saturday’s snowmobiling adventures & Boulder exploration. We headed up the mountain 90 minutes to Winter Park, CO – a four-season resort that offers snow sports in the winter, and rafting/hiking excursions in the summer. We loved Winter Park and snowmobiled with a company called Great Adventures. Incredible views at an elevation of 11,500 feet, fresh powdery snow and an enthusiastic guide made this our favorite part of the Colorado trip. Don’t go to Denver without trekking up into the mountains; the views alone are worth the trip.
Ok, back to the beer.
Boulder, CO Beer Tour included:
Avery Brewing Co.A must, must, MUST if you are in the state of Colorado. This is a nationally known, HUGE brewery that would make anyone want to love beer, brew beer and live around the beer culture. They have a variety of choices: sours, IPAs, stouts, you name it – they’ve got it. With three different bars and a self-guided walking tour of their brewery, you can immerse yourself in their large company, while also feeling like you’re one of the locals. This brewery gave me my favorite beer of the trip, the Apricot Sour. Seriously, I could have sat and drank at this brewery all evening.
Boulder Beer Company
A local joint for Boulder-ians, though not our favorite among beers we had tasted. They did have a delicious Nitro Porter called ‘Shake’ – which quite literally tasted like a chocolate milkshake. They also had a build your own burger menu with literally any strange, unique topping you could think of; so if you want a ‘unique take’ on ‘burgers & shakes’ – go ahead and build your own burger and get the ‘Shake’ beer at this local hot spot.
Twisted Pine Brewing Co.
One of our favorites of the trip. Known for it’s innovative beer and pizza, this is a must see if you’re in Boulder. We didn’t find a beer we didn’t like among their variety, including a wheat beer infused with chili peppers ‘Billy’s Chillies’, and the music they were playing (90s!) made me want to stay at this brewery eating pizza, drinking beer, and jamming out all evening. [Author’s note: buy a hat, their logo is awesome.]
After some body and mind recovery, we woke up Sunday for our last full day in Denver. We visited the 16th Street Walking Mall, a street in Denver that is flooded with shops, and great local restaurants. We hopped on the (free public) bus to Union Station, a historic train station that has turned into a beautiful hotel with a public concourse with a bar, restaurant and area for gathering in between travel. Not only is this area of town home to the Colorado Rockies stadium, it is also the home to lots of great beer, and bonus, pancakes!
The locations we visited on Sunday included:
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Snooze was recommended to us by several friends who had visited Denver before. The best part of this meal was easily the pancake flights, which practically begged us to choose from the 12 or so delicious flavors. Much like our beer flights, only a different kind of carb without the hangover. We tried Cinnamon roll, Peanut Butter, Blueberry Danish, Molten Chocolate and more; we were not disappointed. Top those sweet flavors off with a hash brown the size of my fist and two delicious mimosas, and this is certainly a restaurant experience you won’t want to miss on your Denver trip.
This brewery was founded by a previous Denver Mayor, and is the oldest brewpub in Denver. It’s located in a great part of town, and the atmosphere and history alone makes it worth the stop. We recommend you get ballsy and try the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a beer brewed with Bull Testicals. Because you know what they say, when in Denver, try the beer with the ‘nutty’ notes. (Get it?)
Great Divide Brewery
This nationally known brewery didn’t disappoint, and they have several locations in Denver. We went to the Ball Park Tap Room location because of what part of town we were exploring, but they’ve also got a Packaging Hall that we drove by several times that looks like a great atmosphere as well. We enjoyed their Colette Farm House Ale, and the Yetti Stout, which came in a Nitro Version, as well as other variations because we visited in a cold weather season.
Easily our favorite brewery of the entire trip, for several reasons. When you pull up to Crooked Stave, you’re a little unsure of what you’re going to see when you walk in. It’s located in the back of this industrial warehouse called The Source, a hip place that is also home to many other vendors including a coffee shop, photography studio, market, and restaurant (that served meat cones, yes – like ice cream cone only with meat…). Exposed brick and floor to ceiling windows make this vibe an inviting one, intriguing to locals and visitors alike. Every single beer we tried was spectacular, they specialize in sours which drew me in in the first place! Our favorites were Batch 200, a raspberry sour, and the Petite Sour Rosé, a sweet sour that was as tart as my attitude when I’m hungry. As the last brewery on our trip, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Crooked Stave knocked it straight out of the park.
We ended Sunday with a walk through Larimer Square, filling our beer-loving faces with steak tacos and queso fundido from Tamayo. Larimer Square had lights strung from one side to the other of the main street, and in the trees above us. There were restaurants and little shops, and though it was nighttime and we couldn’t explore it as much as we would have liked, we could have easily spent a whole day eating, drinking and shopping our way through that appealing area. Definitely another must-see on a trip to Denver.
When we got up Sunday morning to fly home, our livers thanked us, but every other body part begged us not to leave. We loved the mile-high city and will yearn for the day that we can return… after we check off all of our other travel locations, of course!
I am guilty of only wearing sneakers for one reason and one reason only: exercise. (And typically, I’m only exercising so that I can eat french fries and drink beer afterwards.) But despite my luke-warm love of the casual kicks, even I must jump on with the new shoe trend of spring: sneakers.
One of my favorite Downtown Frederick shops, Velvet Lounge, threw me into the sneaker-fire when I went in to shop this past week. In fashion, spring starts in January (even though I can still see my breath when crossing the street). So amidst the lovely warm-weather dresses and clever graphic tees, I found myself surrounded by colorful, bold trendy sneakers.
It’s not hard to fathom that this is popular trend is once again being showcased at the bottom of a fashion model’s long, beautiful legs; any of us can think of those ever-popular white Keds that seem to stick around, and each year a new celebrity athlete comes out with their own line. What I was not ready for is ‘dressy’ kicks that you wear with dresses, rompers, skinny jeans + more.
Velvet Lounge donned several different styles and name brands, ranging from Dolce Vita, TOMS, Steve Madden and more. (Oh, and did I mention velvet is back in, too? Yes, you read that correctly: velvet low-top sneakers.) These brands host a variety of options in high-top vs. low top, solids vs. prints, etc. Check out the classics like Adidas, PUMA and Marc Jacobs. If you’re looking for something contemporary + fresh? Try Golden Goose.
Wear this trend by dressing up your ensemble with your kicks. Get out of your black athletic Nike comfort zone (yes, talking to myself, too) and find a pair that compliments your outfit just like any pair of wedges or heels might do. (Author’s note: I am 5’3″, 5’4″ on a good day, so giving up my clutch spring wedge in trade for a high top kick is not exactly something I was prepared to do.) Fashion is all about risk, so I bought my first pair of ‘stylish sneakers,’ pictured below.
I chose to pair mine with leggings and a cozy sweater, though as it warms up, these camel-colored Steve Madden gems will go great with a tunic dress or maxi. So, as a stylish-sneaker-virgin myself, I challenge you to hop on this trend’s bandwagon and get yourself a cool pair of kicks. You won’t be sorry when you’re looking gorgeous and can keep your shoes on all night long because they’re so darn comfortable. (Plus, that means you can stay out longer for a few extra drinks, right?)
There are a few things that I simply cannot turn down: yummy food, cooking with my hubs, and giving back to our community. So when the Washington County Arts Council invited John & I to be Celebrity Chefs for their annual fundraiser event, we were thrilled to say yes.
The Washington County Arts Council hosts a unique fundraiser each year called The Art of Cooking. This event invites community members to a lavish evening of trying local couples’ favorite recipes prepared by the Fountain Head Country Club kitchen experts. The celebrity chef couples demonstrate their recipe in the kitchen, as if on a cooking show, and then community members in attendance are served each recipe plated at their table. This event perfectly ties together what we all love about cooking, which is putting a unique spin on a recipe, and truly showing the audience that there is an art behind the food. [Author’s note: the art may in fact be the ability to not set each other on fire in the cooking process.]
Over the course of six months, five Celebrity Chef couples met to discuss what our version of this event would look like. Over monthly meetings with dinner and drinks, we brought our favorite recipes to the table (literally) and together concocted a full-course dinner menu that would flow and keep guests’ pallets intrigued. The menu included passed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour, followed by an appetizer and soup before the entrée and two side dishes, finished off with a delectable dessert.
The menu items chosen by the Celebrity Chef couples unfolded as such:
Ceviche – Chef’s Sam & Dana Wright
Pumpkin Soup – Chef’s Steve and Susan Wood-Haines
Pul Ko-Kee Korean beef – Chef’s Art & Marianne Schneider
Mushroom Ragu over Handmade Pappardelle – Chef’s Dale & Pat McCleary
Brussels, Bacon & Bourbon – Chef’s John & Kelsey Lorman
Each course was perfectly paired with a champagne or wine chosen by the wine aficionado Mr. Mike Johnston. Local celebrity emcee Lou Scally and & lovely co-host Heather Guessford entertained the 160-person-audience between courses and introduced each of the celebrity chef couples.
Not only did the chef couples have to demonstrate their talents on screen in front of the audience, but we each also tried to come up with something that made them laugh before they enjoyed the meal (the wine will help with the morale of the group as well, am I right?) This included getting mic’d up and staged in the prep-kitchen, and mixing together our recipes as if we we each had our own show on the Food Network. With a quick change of set between each couple, we were thrown into the spotlight with hopes of not dropping, spilling or cursing (all things that happen in my kitchen regularly). Each couple took a fun spin with their time on-screen, including an apron that said “This Shit is Going to Taste Delicious”, a visit from “Hillary Clinton,” and in our case – two extra shots of bourbon to make our recipe taste extra special. [Author’s note: The shot of bourbon made me turn away from the camera for a split second, but I was trying to spare the audience of my ‘party-girl-in-a-bar-taking-shots’ face. It was really for their own good.] Plus, there was bacon in our recipe (because, duh – my husband won’t eat his veggies otherwise); I think anyone could agree that brussel sprouts, bacon and bourbon could very well be three of the best B’s in the kitchen. [Author’s note: Oh, also bread, let’s all take a minute to appreciate that ‘B,’ too.]
As the last couple of the night, I had hoped our shots of bourbon on camera would be enough to keep the audience entertained (especially through their previous three pairings of wine). Not to mention I started our segment with a selfie – the true key of success in any kitchen. Though I’m no critic, of food or comedic sketches, I believe each of the couples entertained the audience and left their pallets satisfied.
Though we all had a great time, made some new friends, and found some new recipes, the big ‘win’ for the celebrity chefs was that we were able to attract an attendance of 160, raising $20,000 for the Washington County Arts Council.
It was a night of eating, laughing and drinking (over-indulging in at least two of three areas, I might add) and most importantly a night of giving back to the arts in our community. Thank you to the Arts Council for having us, and for giving me the opportunity to feel like Rachael Ray for an evening.
[Final author’s note: After-dinner drinks at the bar across the street are always a good idea…. in theory. You may pay for that decision the next day. See the group that made it to the end, and literally closed down the bar, with us below.]
For more information on the Washington County Arts Council and the 2017 Art of Cooking, check out these Herald Mail Media Articles, and the Washington County Arts Council website.
2017, or as I’d like to call it: the year of travel. And the first trip of this exciting year was a whirlwind, wonderful trip to beautiful Boston, Massachusetts.
My husband and I arrived in Boston late on Friday night and paid for a nice comfy bed to sleep in for a few hours. Upon waking up and practicing our best Boston accents, we rented a car and drove to an area of Boston called Egleston Square where the Samuel Adams Brewery is located. We got an extensive tour of the brewery, where specialty recipes are tested, and research and development happen. We tasted some of their new recipes (Author’s Note: if you can get your hands on the new sour beer they offer ‘KMF’, never let it go!), and even got an exclusive tour of the ‘barrel room’ where only the best of the best (and the most secret of the secret) beers are kept. (Thanks little bro for the hookup!) It was amazing to see that the Sam Adams Brewery and Boston Beer Company still have a small family-feel despite being the giant conglomerate of the craft beer industry. (Downside: only one sighting of a man with a giant beard.)
Beer can only be followed by one thing in Boston: sports. (Author’s note: It can actually be followed by a lot of things, but this is one of my favorites.)
We headed for Gillette Stadium and the Patriots vs. Texans Divisional Playoff game. The stadium is surrounded by a concourse with popular shops and restaurants. If you ever find yourself in Foxborough, MA, be sure to check this area out. There are trendy bars like Howl at the Moon and Bar Louie, and also some sports-fanatic themed places. We stayed at the lovely Hilton Garden Inn that was right at the concourse, which meant walking distance to the bars, shopping and stadium. If you like country music, beer served in solo cups and piles of nachos as big as sports fans’ egos, check out Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar.” We weren’t disappointed by the food or the servers who’s playful tempers were as quick as their wit. The CBS Sports bar felt impossibly inviting right outside Gillette Stadium with an impressive view, boasting tons of TV screens, a huge selection of beer on tap, and excited fans dressed like me taking selfies. What more could you ask for?
After dinner & drinks, into the stadium we headed for some Divisional Playoff action. It was 21 degrees with snow flurries, but the beers stayed cold, the crowd stayed loud, and the Patriots won! It was an amazing experience for a fan of football. (Not to mention we headed to Bar Louie after the game and saw 3 or 4 of the players who head there after every game! A stalker’s dream!)
On Sunday morning after mourning the fact that I may never be surrounded by that many Patriots fans at once ever again, we headed to Downtown Boston where we made plans to explore the trendy, historic and iconic parts of the city.
We stayed at “The Millennium Bostonian in Boston,” a hotel I would recommend to anyone looking for a perfectly located boutique hotel with style, charm and great customer service. Our room over looked Faneuil Hall (and iconic walking mall in Boston) and the views at night were incredible. (We requested to have a balcony off of our room, and it was totally worth the small amount of extra coin for the picturesque views.)
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are two areas made up of shops and restaurants, scaling from quaint, local vendors to major-scale retailers. You could spend hours in just these areas alone and still not get through everything. It was a great mix of culture and history carved in the cobblestone streets, while still providing some modern flare with new and popular brand names. We had bagels inside of the Quincy Market hall, and I couldn’t help but picture us meeting there on our corporate-job-lunch-hours. Safe to say it didn’t take me long to fall in love with this city.
Because walking around on cobblestone streets works up a thirst, we headed to The Bell in Hand Tavern, which is America’s oldest tavern. (History over drinks is my favorite kind of history.) This partially restored tavern served the best of North Eastern bites (I recommend the clam chowder! [Husband’s note: “Hey, they say it ‘chow-dah’), while sticking to the classics and keeping to the integrity of the original 1795 ale house. We drank Sam Adam’s Brick Red Irish Red Ale which is an ale only served at bars in Boston. You know what they say, when in Rome, drink the local beer. The place was packed with tourists and locals alike, making for a fun atmosphere.
We then explored the Back Bay Area, an area that reminded me of D.C. or Georgetown. Two main thoroughfares filled this part of the city with high-end shops and restaurants that were all located in beautifully restored buildings. It was in Back Bay where we stepped foot in my dream home: The Boston Public Library. Marble steps with majestic lions greeted us at the door; the architecture alone made me what to pick up the nearest book I could find and snuggle into a nook where I’m convinced modern philosophies were formed. This was definitely the most awe-inspiring part of our trip, and we explored every inch of the library from top to bottom. A definite must see on any trip to Boston. For dinner we stumbled upon a delicious pizza place on Newbury Street called “Dirty Water Dough.” It was the definition of ‘hole in the wall,’ except that it had a beautiful window area that you could literally climb into with two tiny tables to sit at. As we stuffed our face with thin-crust-cheesy goodness, we couldn’t help but feel comfortable in this trendy neighborhood around us. Cue the Zillow search for ‘homes in Boston.’
Monday morning, as we reluctantly packed our bags to check out of our third (and favorite) hotel in three days, we planned out our historic tour of part of the Freedom Trail; this trail leads visitors around Boston via a bricked path, hitting popular historic landmarks such as Paul Revere’s House, The Old North Church where P.R. hung those significant lanterns, and much more. If you’re a fan of our nation’s history, this is definitely a tour you’ll want to check out. It was a self-guided tour with landmarks and checkpoints all along the way. We finished the historic part of our day with the Boston Tea Party Museum, where we tasted the five flavors of tea that were thrown off of the ship on that historic day. We sat in a beautiful room that overlooked the harbor and sipped tea (a needed break from the low 30 temps outside!). Plus, I felt fancy calling our shared cookie a crumpet at this stop.
Finally, just as we started our trip with a brewery visit, we ended with one as well. We visited Harpoon Brewery in Boston’s desirable Seaport District where we had one flight of beers celebrating a great vacation… and a second flight of beers to deny it from being over. This is a huge brewery with an extensive tap room, a must visit for beer lovers in Boston. (I recommend their Apple Cinnamon wheat beer – not too sweet or heavy with tons of flavor!)
And so, 2017 has indeed kicked off as a year of travel. A year of exploring cities, trying out new places, and sinking our teeth into the culture that is all around us. We loved Boston’s culture, people, food and wonderful mix of historically memorable and modern. #BostonOrBust was a beautiful expedition; now on to the next one!