So, it’s taken me FOREVER to get this post together! I’m so sorry for anyone that has emailed or DM’d me for Paris travel recommendations over the past month! We went to Paris in the middle of November and with the holidays and my baby’s first birthday time has just really gotten away from me. We have a few more trips coming up so I wanted to be sure to put together a travel guide for anyone that is planning a trip to Europe with little ones before I get sidetracked again.
This was my husband and I’s 4th time back to Paris but the first time bringing our little girl with us. People always seem surprised when we tell them we took our 1 year old with us on such a far trip but it really was so much fun experiencing another side of this beautiful city! And we love showing our daughter the world! I’m also working on a post all about traveling with a toddler internationally. I did a post HERE all about traveling with a baby, but traveling so far with a busy toddler is a game changer haha!
PLANNING YOUR TRIP:
We have never used a travel agent on any trip we’ve ever been on. I really don’t see the need to do that. We love figuring everything out ourselves and being on our own schedule. We always stay with Marriott wherever we travel since they are all over the world. I feel like once you get status with them they really take care of you and we always get upgraded rooms, early check in, late check out, free breakfast, etc. I always recommend everyone to take full advantage of hotel and airline reward programs. Always try to stick with the same airlines and hotel chains whenever you can. You’d be surprised how quickly the points add up.
We always check out multiple websites to find the best airline deal if we don’t have enough points accumulated for a free flight. It’s always good to check out multiple airports too if you live close to a larger airport. This trip we flew out of LA which is about 2 hours from San Diego but we saved several hundred dollars per ticket flying this way. We always stay with Marriott and in the past we have stayed near the Eiffel Tower since that’s a pretty central location. But this time we wanted to experience a different side of the city so we stayed near the Louvre. Getting from one side of the city to another is always super easy with the metro. You can also do Uber but traveling with a 1 year old we didn’t want to take Uber and have to carry around a car seat all day so usually the metro was our best option for getting across the city.
WHAT TO DO:
So I could go on and on about things to do in this gorgeous city! I feel like every time we go we return to our favorite spots but we always try to add in new things too. Here is a list of our favorite things to do while in the city….
Eiffel Tower- this is a MUST DO if you are going for the first time. The views are stunning both during the day and at night. During peak season and holidays the lines can be super long so I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time
Pictures at the Tracadero- this is the best spot for pictures! It’s best to go first thing in the morning to beat the crowds but it really is beautiful any time of day including sunset. If you have it in your budget I strongly recommend getting a professional photographer to capture images you will treasure forever! There are so many good photographers on Instagram and you can contact them for rates and availability. I did a post HERE all about our photographer and our family pictures.
Sunset cruise on the Seine- So beautiful seeing the city from this viewpoint. They have dinner cruises as well but I love just taking in all the beautiful sights and taking tons of pictures.
The Louvre- This museum is unbelievable! It is full of history and so big you really need to set aside a whole day and you still won’t get through it all.
Shopping at Lafayette Galleries- This is a huge mall that has floors and floors of shopping and food and clothing and designer items. When we were there they had the most beautiful Christmas display in the windows and a gorgeous tree inside the mall.
Take the train to Versailles We did not do this on this trip to Paris but we have done it previously. Train tickets are cheap and it’s a fun day to get outside of the city and view the palace where Marie Antoinette lived and the stunning gardens and fountains.
Disneyland Paris- We decided to go here on our baby girl’s first birthday to make it a memorable day for her. Even though she won’t remember, we will have pictures and videos to show her when she’s older. Make sure you buy your tickets ahead of time if possible. They are so much cheaper and you won’t have to wait in the long lines. Getting to Disneyland Paris was super easy too. It’s only about an hour train ride from the city and the train drops you off right at Disneyland.
Walk down the Champs Elysee- This is the most beautiful street! There is so much shopping and tons of restaurants in this area. It’s a little too touristy for us as far as restaurants so we never really eat here but it’s still so much fun walking down the street and taking in all the sites!
Notre Dame- We go here every time we come to Paris! It was especially beautiful being here in the fall with all the gorgeous leaves.
Visit the Musee D’Orsay- We still have not made it here yet. It’s been on my list every time we go to Paris but we always seem to run out of time to make it here. It looks so beautiful though!
Walk the Tuileries Gardens and Luxembourg Gardens- These are in separate parts of the city but if you are in the areas they are gorgeous and a nice break to relax and really take in the beauty of Paris
Take a drive to Normandy- If you love history like I do this is such an amazing day trip. The beaches of Normandy were absolutely beautiful and the museums and monuments… just everything was so moving and very emotional. You can rent a car very easily near the L’arc de Triomphe and it’s about a 2 and a half hour drive to Normandy. You go through the French Countryside on the way and it’s just a very beautiful drive. We did this on our last trip to Paris about 2 years ago.
WHERE TO EAT:
I’m probably the wrong person to ask for restaurant recommendations sorry! I do not like spending a lot of money on food when on vacation, I would rather spend money shopping or sightseeing. Plus we are more snackers when in Europe because we like to try a lot of the local foods and little local restaurants. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat…
Crepes, Crepes, Crepes!! I seriously dreamed about these yummy treats weeks before our trip! They have little street vendors all over the city and they make them fresh right in front of you. They are so yummy and perfect for grabbing while on the go. The best ones are right at the Eiffel Tower.
Local French Bakeries- there are no specific bakeries that I can recommend but there are several really good ones on the little side streets between the Eiffel Tower and the Tracadero. It’s always best to get off the main streets and really go into the little local neighborhoods. That’s always where you can find the best bakeries and cafes. Be aware that they don’t always speak English so always be sure to greet them and always say please and thank you… it goes a long way!
Le Chalet Savoyard- located in the 11th arrondissement, this is hands down our favorite restaurant in Paris. If you’ve never had raclette you are missing out. It is seriously sooooo good! They heat a half a wheel of cheese right at your table and you eat the cheese with potatoes, vegetables and meats. Everything is so good and so French! I highly recommend! Make sure to have your concierge make a reservation for you. Lunchtime is the best time to go as it’s less crowded.
Galleries Lafayette- There is a whole floor of the mall with all sorts of foods, desserts, pizzas, etc… one night we just grabbed a pizza and bottle of wine and took it back to our room for dinner. There are so many good dessert places here as well to grab a sweet treat.
There were actually many nights this trip that we grabbed some small pasteries or sandwiches around dinner time and took them back to the room to eat dinner. It was tough being on the go all day with a 1 year old and sometimes we just wanted to go back for the night and rest and have Olivia walk around and get out of her stroller.
There is just honestly so much to do in this beautiful city one post is probably not enough. So if you’re planning a trip anytime soon and need any sort of recommendations or have any questions please feel free to ask. I LOVE this city and can’t wait to go back again!
It’s that time of year again! Christmas is just a few days away and I have a feeling this will be the best one yet! Last year Olivia was just a few weeks old so we spent the day in San Francisco in our tiny little apartment FaceTiming with all our family back east. This year Olivia is walking and running everywhere and into everything! It will be so much fun to see her getting into all her presents.
I knew when we first started planning our Paris trip that I wanted professional family pictures done. I decided to go with a holiday theme due to the time of year so we could use them for Christmas cards. Of course we had to get all glam because we were in Paris! I LOVE the way they turned out! Such a beautiful family keepsake. A lot of people ask me how we found our photographer in another country. Well, I follow a few different Paris photographers on Instagram and I reached out to them to check on pricing and availability. Several took days to even answer my email and others I never even heard back from. I heard back from Brian at French Grey Photography right away and his pricing was very reasonable. He also has kids of his own so he knows how unpredictable they can be and was very patient with Olivia during our shoot. I highly recommend Brian if you are looking for a great photographer for family photos or even wedding or engagement pics. I absolutely love our photos and will cherish them forever! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
JACKET: Topshop (similar HERE and faux leather option HERE) | JEANS: Express | BELT: Gucci | SCARF: BP (only $19!) | SWEATER: BP | BOOTIES: Express (old) similar HERE | SUNNIES: Quay Australia | LIPS: Soar liner | BAG: Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis
Take me back to the beautiful Champs Elysee s’il vous plait! Oh how I love Paris! I’m already counting down until I can go back again! I’m soooooo in love with this city! This was one of my go-to looks on our trip. You can never go wrong with ripped denim, a leather jacket and a pop of leopard. This scarf is the best! It’s only $19 and it literally goes with everything!
Pretty much the whole time we were in Paris I wore the same things over and over again. It’s actually really hard to plan out outfits for 10 days with fall or winter clothes because they take up so much more space in your suitcase than summer clothes. It’s even harder when you have to pack for yourself plus a 1 year old in the same suitcase AND stay under the weight limit LOL! In the past when my hubby and I traveled through Europe, we would always take only a carry on suitcase each and he would take a backpack and I would take my Louis Vuitton Neverfull. When you jump cities you have to pack light. You always want to keep your bags close on the train and the rule of thumb is you bring it- you carry it. I made that mistake before bringing too many bags and boots and liquids and it was just so heavy and so hard to carry and I never ended up even using everything. So the last few trips we took before Olivia was born I felt like I really narrowed things down to what I REALLY needed to take vs what I ACTUALLY wore. You would be surprised what you think you need to bring vs what you actually end up wearing or using.
I’m still trying to master packing for my baby though! I know I took way too much baby stuff with me on our trip but I’m still learning the best ways to travel with a baby. I feel like I learn more and more with every trip we take! More on that in another post though. So with this trip, I took 1 check bag for Olivia and I plus I had my purse and diaper bag for my carry ons. I had to take as little as possible for myself to make sure there was enough room for Olivia’s stuff and stay under the weight limit. The first thing I always do when I pack for myself is lay out everything I WANT to take with me on our trip. I include all the jeans, sweaters, tees, boots, hats, etc. It’s always a TON of stuff! Then I start eliminating things from my stack. You really don’t need 2 of the same color jeans…. you can just take 1 and wear them again with a different color sweater. Same with boots. In the past I had to take black boots, brown boots, booties, etc… it’s just too much stuff. So now I try to either stick with brown or black and kind of plan my sweaters from there. You can always change up your look with a different scarf, beanie or even lip color. Those things take up so much less space than taking another jacket or a different sweater for each day. So basically this is a run down of what I took in my suitcase. Everything could easily be mixed and matched and I didn’t feel like I wore the same thing every day.
JACKET: I really debated on taking my leather jacket or taking a long warmer jacket. Since we were still going in fall I ultimately decided on just taking my leather jacket. It’s nice and thick and really good quality. Definitely worth the investment!
JEANS: So I always want to take more jeans than I actually need. So I narrowed it down to my FAVORITE pair because they have rips in the knees and can be dressy or edgy depending on how they are styled. I also took my favorite black jeans because they go with EVERYTHING!
SWEATERS: You should have seen the stack of sweaters I really wanted to take LOL! But when you think about it, a few simple and basic sweaters go a long way! I ended up taking a basic black and cognac sweater, mine are old but THIS and THIS would be great options! Plus a blush pink sweater and my favorite fall sweater. They all look good with either regular jeans or black jeans so you’re set!
SHOES: I always make the mistake of taking WAY too many shoes and then never wear them. This time I wore my blush Adidas sneakers on the plane and packed black booties and my OTK Stuart Weitzman boots. I also had to take some nude heels since we were getting holiday pics done. I ended up not even wearing my OTK boots because we walked at least 5 miles each day and I just couldn’t do the heels haha!
SCARVES: So I only took THIS super neutral one and THIS one for a pop of leopard. They both went with every single sweater I brought and I was so glad I had them. I especially wore the neutral one since it was so cold.
HATS: I only took 2 beanies with me…. a black one and a cream one. Again, they both went with everything and actually saved me a day or two of not washing my hair which was a plus too!
LIP COLORS: I’m not a huge fan of lipstick honestly…. I prefer THIS lip moisturizer that is a hint of pink. I feel like lipstick never stays put on me all day and it makes my lips so dry but I’m no beauty expert. I did take a red lip (Ruby Woo liner and lipstick) plus a neutral pink (Soar liner and Snob lipstick).
BAG: I am obsessed with my Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis! As you probably see, it’s the only bag I ever use anymore! I always used to use a big purse until I got pregnant, then I couldn’t stand carrying around a heavy bag and I just wanted something small but still stylish so I could wear it cross body or on my shoulder. I love this one so much and highly recommend! I did take my Louis Vuitton Neverfull too but never ended up using it for a purse, only as my carry on for the plane.
ACCESSORIES: I took 1 pair of gloves (these are the BEST!), 1 pair of sunglasses and 1 belt
I think that’s about it! You really don’t need to take too much to make a bunch of different looks. It’s all about bringing things that can be easily mixed and matched! Sorry this is such a long post but I always get asked how I pack so light for a fall or winter vacation so just thought I would share everything that has worked for me over the years! I’m working on a post all about traveling with a toddler as well as a Paris travel guide!
This sweater was hands down my favorite fall sweater purchase! I am in love with the color and I have worn it so much already! It comes in 3 other colors and is a steal for only $39. I’m going to order the ivory color too because I wear this one way too much! I’m wearing a size small for reference and I really like the fit. It’s loose but not too oversized. I always get so many compliments every time I wear it too.
These pics were taken at the Trocadero in beautiful Paris! We were trying to get up super early to beat the crowds and get some nice outfit pics but unfortunately Olivia had other plans. She was not sleeping well the whole trip so we had some very long nights and decided to sleep in a little bit and rest when we could. By the time we got here it was already super crowded but we didn’t let it deter us and we still got a bunch of really nice pics. We tried to have some strangers get a few nice pics of the 3 of us but unfortunately either the background was cut off or we were all blurry, so we only ended up with 1 good pic of the three of us haha! Better than nothing I guess. It’s always so hard relying on strangers to take your pics. I always recommend going out super early to get pics before the crowds. Go out as close to sunrise as you can, especially in Paris. It sure is beautiful!
SCARF: FreePeople | JACKET: TopShop (mine is old, similar HERE and faux leather option HERE) | JEANS: Express (50% off!) | BELT: Gucci | BOOTIES: Express (mine old but newer model HERE and 50% off!) | SUNNIES: Quay Australia | BAG: Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis | LIPSTICK: MAC in color Ruby Woo
I miss Paris soooooo much already! I still have about a million pics to go through so sorry in advance for the Paris overload! Everywhere you look is so picturesque! I have been blessed to say I’ve traveled all over the world and still Paris holds my heart. I’ve been lucky enough to go back to my favorite city 4 times now and I can’t wait to go back again. I love it so much! This was my first time visiting in the fall and I cannot believe how gorgeous the city was! It was the perfect amount of cold too!
These pics were taken at the beautiful Louvre. We did not go inside this time, we’ve been before, however the grounds are so beautiful I always love coming here for pictures. The architecture is out of this world. I loved being able to wear my cozy Free People scarf finally. The weather in Southern California has still been way to warm for my scarves so it was fun playing dress up on our trip. I highly recommend this scarf and it comes in 5 different colors. You can never go wrong pairing black and cognac together either. I pretty much live in these black jeans all fall and winter long. They are part of Express’s Thanksgiving sale and are 50% off this week! Now is the time to stock up on all your denim!
So lately I’ve been missing my life in the city. As you may or may not know, my family moved from San Diego to San Francisco when I was about 6 months pregnant with Olivia. It was a very tough decision for our family but ultimately it was the best move for us at the time for my husband’s career. After living there for a year my husband was able to get a job with a new company which brought us back to San Diego and back to our home. Don’t get me wrong, we have a beautiful home and it’s nice having a yard for our pup, but there was something so fun and spontaneous about living in a city like San Francisco. There were so many neighborhoods with different vibes and you could eat at a different restaurant every day! I really miss walking everywhere especially. Life back in suburbia is more driving everywhere and back to chain stores and restaurants LOL!
So I thought I’d do a little post on my favorite things to do in San Francisco in case you ever make it to the city. There is seriously so much to do I could go on and on but I’ll include a bunch of my favorites here in no particular order.
1. Battery Spencer– The Golden Gate Bridge is a MUST SEE when visiting SF! You have to drive across the bridge and walking it is so much fun too! But the best viewpoint for pics is Battery Spencer. This lookout point is located on the north side of the bridge and gives you the perfect angle. The pic above is from the lookout. There is a road that will take you up the mountain for all sorts of different viewpoints but this one is the best. Just a heads up… get there early if you are going on the weekend! Parking is free but very limited and it can get very crowded with tourists. It’s also super windy and chilly since it’s right on the bay so make sure to dress accordingly.
2. Alcatraz– I would say this is something fun to do if you have a few days in the city. Make sure you buy your tickets at least a few days in advance, and if you are going on any holidays I would buy them as far in advance as you can. THIS is the official site for the Alcatraz Tours. Be careful of people trying to sell tickets randomly on the streets as they could be fake. You’ll want to bring a jacket really no matter what time of year you visit since it’s always so cold right on the bay and the prison itself is really windy and chilly. They give you headphones at the beginning of the tour and give you all sorts of information about the prison and the famous prisoners who were here as you walk the grounds.
3. Coffee Shops– I’ve talked about this so much on my blog and on my Instagram. I’m obsessed with finding the best coffee shops in the city. I dedicated a whole post HERE where I break down my favorites as well as where they are located in the city. IF you have time, bring your laptop, have a cup of coffee and a pastry. My hubby and I used to have coffee dates every weekend and it was the best! The yummy pastries here are from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. The cruffins are out of this world!
4. Little Italy– The BEST Italian food! YUM! Our favorite pizza place was Tony’s and I still think about their pizza all the time LOL! They do not take reservations so I recommend doing an early lunch or early dinner, otherwise you will probably have to wait 2 hours for a table. It’s for sure worth the wait but it’s tough waiting that long when you have little ones. They also have a few other locations around the city called Slice House where the menu is more limited but you can grab a quick slice to go and you won’t have to wait that long. We used to go to the location in SOMA all the time!
5. Painted Ladies– The iconic houses from Full House! I couldn’t wait to see these the first time we went to SF to visit and once we moved there we went back quite a bit when we had friends and family in town. They sure are gorgeous to see and you have amazing view points of the city. Perfect picture op!
6. Marina District– This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in SF. The houses are all so beautiful with so much character. I would LOVE to live in one of these houses one day! From here it’s only a short walk to restaurants and boutiques and you also have a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the park near by. This is one of my favorite picture spots in the city!
7. Baseball Game– If you’re in town a few days during baseball season I recommend catching a game! It’s so much fun! We took Olivia before we moved when my inlaws were in town and it was such a fun day! Make sure to bring a jacket for sure as the park is right on the water and it gets very windy and chilly. There are so many restaurants near by that you can make a full day of it!
8. Union Square– I know this is super touristy but if you are visiting you need to go. This is where most of the shopping is downtown. There’s a huge mall and a 5 story Nordstrom! The Nordstrom Cafe on the top floor has the best views! There are so many good stores all in walking distance and you can easily catch the cable car here and it takes you over the hill down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Make sure to have your camera ready!
9. Fisherman’s Wharf– This is another spot you need to see if you are visiting. It was fun to see once but VERY crowded and touristy. There are a ton of shops and restaurants and you can easily walk to Pier 39 and see all the sea lions! There are so many of them!
10. Delores Park– One of my favorite spots in the city! I recommend going during the week as the weekends get so crowded and it’s tough to find a spot. Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch and you’ll have the best day enjoying the views of the city. They have a nice playground too for the kids and a lot of people bring dogs too! It’s especially nice if the weather is warm.
Oh my gosh! Olivia and I had the BEST time in Seattle last week! I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle and will take any opportunity to travel. Talk about a beautiful city! Seattle reminded me so much of a smaller version of San Francisco and actually made me miss living in the city. I really miss the city vibe, the little coffee shops and walking everywhere! It was so nice not being on a strict schedule this trip and just taking our time exploring the city. I planned out our days according to Olivia’s nap schedule and it worked out great! A huge thank you to everyone that gave suggestions for restaurants and things to do! I tried to squeeze in as much as possible in the time I had there. There is still so much more I wanted to do but ran out of time…. guess I’ll have to go back! I decided to do a post here for things we did and where we ate just in case anyone else is planning a trip to Seattle anytime soon! I’m working on another post all about traveling alone with a baby. It was my first time flying by myself with Olivia and I was sooooo nervous, but of course everything worked out just fine. More on that in another post. Let’s get into our Seattle adventure….
What we did:
Pike Place- I was actually a little disappointed with Pike Place Market. It was SO crowded I could barely get the stroller through and I really felt uncomfortable with Olivia down in the stroller with it that crowded. It was neat to see all the fresh produce, seafood and beautiful flowers but it was just too crowded for me to be comfortable. Maybe it was just the time of year we were there since it was peak summer. I would say this is still a must do just because it is so well known. Without a stroller or baby it would have been a completely different experience.
Space Needle- When I think of Seattle I immediately think of the Space Needle. So I knew before we even went that this was a must see. Tickets were a little pricey, I think they were about $30 a person, but I knew this was the only thing I really wanted to pay to see while I was in town. We always look at things as an experience rather than the cost of the ticket. Down the road you won’t remember the money you paid for the ticket but you will always cherish the memory of the experience. This is another super touristy spot so it was very crowded. We went early and bought our tickets at the ticket booth. They did have time slots and the next one was about an hour away so we just walked around the park and took some pics. The views were amazing from top and the elevator ride was so much fun going up… have your camera ready! There is a restaurant at the top but we did not make it there since it was a little pricey but there are little snack and coffee stands to grab something quick. Another thing to think about if you are traveling with little ones, we were not able to take the stroller up with us. They had a stroller parking area that was not monitored and we had to leave the stroller at our own risk. I was so nervous about it the whole time and really did not like leaving it but it was fine when we returned. I did have to carry Olivia around the whole time which was a little tough. I wish I would have brought my Ergo baby carrier! This thing is a lifesavor!
Shopping: I was actually impressed with the shopping in Seattle! There was a HUGE Nordstrom right on 5th Avenue so we for sure spent some time there. There were so many other stores along 5th and all around that area. Very easy to walk to. There were also these cute little table and chairs all across the city for people to relax and enjoy the city.
Kerry Park: This was actually recommended to me from a few different people so I knew it was a must see! The views from the park were so amazing but boy did I work getting there HAHA!!! It’s located way on the top of a hill with some of the steepest hills I’ve seen since living in SF. It was so much harder pushing Olivia in the stroller up the hills too. I just walked here from our hotel which was about a 1.5 mile walk one way. When traveling with a baby you can’t just hop into an Uber to get where you are going so you really have to plan everything out more carefully. I don’t mind walking at all and actually enjoyed seeing all the little side streets and neighborhoods along the way. Once we got up to Kerry Park you could tell it was a super nice area. There were some gorgeous homes up there! I would highly recommend visiting here if you are going to Seattle. Take an Uber if you can to save your legs!
Lake Union: Our hotel was near the lake so one day after Olivia’s nap we just took a walk along the path by the lake. There were a ton of people swimming, boats were out and you could watch the planes take off and land from the lake. We didn’t spend too much time here but enjoyed just taking it easy. There was a Starbucks near by so I grabbed a coffee and we had a nice walk just me and my little baby.
Waterfront: I ended up going to the waterfront one day with Olivia just to get out and about. It was actually pretty far from my hotel, about 2.5 miles one way, but again, I just love walking around and exploring everything possible and you can’t just hop in an Uber with a baby. It was a gorgeous view of the city from here but it was wayyy too touristy for me. It was so crowded with people and it was a lot of really bad food places around. I don’t think it was worth going back to but again, if you like the really touristy things you may enjoy it. The Great Wheel is here and I enjoyed seeing it up close but the line was way too long for me to think about getting on it with Olivia.
Gum Wall: One of the last minute things I did the day we left. Kinda gross, kinda cool at the same time. The gum wall is located right near Pike Place Market and was worth checking out if you are in the area. I couldn’t believe how much gum was all over the walls!
WHERE WE ATE:
When traveling with a baby it’s so much harder to plan ahead for dinner. You have to go early and you have to make sure you go to a kid appropriate place. There were so many cute trendy bars and restaurants I would have loved to try out but they were not appropriate with a baby. We did go to a few really good places that are worth mentioning….
Ballard Pizza- We actually stumbled upon this place because it was close to our hotel. We walked by one night and noticed the outside seating and the fresh made pizzas so we had to give it a try. The pizzas were freshly made in house and the salads were HUGE! There are a few locations in different parts of city too
Din Tai Fung- I was soooo excited when I found out there was a Din Tai Fung in the city. The first time I ate here was in China and it was so good! There are a few locations in different parts of the US but they are not very common. They have the best steamed dumplings but everything is so good! Lots of vegetarian options too! This was right in the mall on 5th.
Top Pot Doughnuts: We kind of found this place by accident when walking around the city one day. I think there are a couple locations. They had so many delicious donuts to choose from we ended up getting a whole dozen so we could try a bunch of different flavors and eat them for snacks throughout the week. The oreo one was so yummy! Just look at all this yummy goodness!
Moore Coffee Shop: I found this cute little coffee shop on 2nd Avenue when Olivia and I were walking around one of the days. It was very small inside but reminded me so much of SF! The coffee was so yummy and the latte art was amazing! I had a Pacman design on mine that was so cute!
Cupcake Royale: The cutest little cupcake and icecream shop right on Pine Street! I saw the sign out front saying about homemade icecream so I knew we had to try it! They had the best dark chocolate icecream and freshly made waffle cones! Ugh! Sooooo good! All the cupcakes looked so good too and there were a bunch that were gluten free!
THINGS WE RAN OUT OF TIME TO DO:
There were a few museums I wanted to see including the music museum and the art museum. We just ran out of time to see everything. I was also hoping to take Olivia to the Aquarium but that didn’t work out either. I tried to make it to the Sky View Observatory since this was recommended by a few people, but for some reason my maps couldn’t pick up the location very well and I could never quite get there. I ended up just skipping it and doing something else instead but I did want to check it out.
Overall there was so much to do in the city I was kind of surprised. July was such a beautiful time of year to go and it didn’t rain the whole time we were there. A lot of locals I spoke with said it rains pretty much 9 months of the year so we came at the right time. Everyone was so friendly and the city was very clean… especially compared to SF. I would go back again in a heartbeat and recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go! Looking forward to our next travel adventure!
Wow! The last week or so has been so completely insane! If you missed my last post, we made the difficult decision to leave our life in the city of San Francisco to take an amazing job opportunity back in San Diego. As much as we loved our life in the city, and all the adventures we had, it was very difficult to live that lifestyle on only one income, with a new baby and a huge dog. We had no space in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment and our pup really needed a yard. Luckily we kept our house in San Diego before we moved last year so we got to come back to our home, more space and lots of sunshine! Everything happens for a reason and we are very happy with our decision. I’m sure we will be back to SF quite often for my hubby’s job and I look forward to going back as often as we can. Who knows, we may end up back there again in the future.
One of the things I love and miss most is all the amazing coffee shops throughout the city. My hubby and I used to have coffee dates most weekends and we would try new places all the time. One of the questions I get asked the most is for suggestions for the best coffee in the city. I’ve got a list of my favorites for you below! If you’re ever in the city make sure to check them out!
1. Jane on Fillmore– One of my favorites for sure! The Pac Heights location is so adorable with little black and white checked tables and super yummy food and coffee. It’s such a cute trendy area with boutique shops near by. Make sure to go early though because it’s small and tables fill up fast. Great gluten free baked goods too!
2. The Mill– My hubby’s favorite! Located in Lower Pac Heights on Divisadero. This one is huge inside with shared tables. They make their own fresh bread and you can buy it by the loaf too. Sooo good!
3. Saint Frank’s– Located at the bottom of Russian Hill. We went here when we first moved to SF so it’s been a while since I was here. I do remember they had a ton of different kinds of coffee from around the world and the coffee house was very clean, crisp and bright inside.
4. Blue Bottle Coffee– There are several locations throughout the city. We went to the one located in the Financial District. It was absolutely beautiful with white marble tables and floors and floor to ceiling windows. It was such a fun place to sit by the window and people watch but was not one of my favorites for coffee.
5. Hearth– Located in the Castro. Such a cute little coffee shop with really good pastries. The Castro is always such a fun place to go to people watch!
6. Sightglass– Located in SOMA on 7th. There are several locations through the city but this one was our favorite and we went here quite often. It’s huge inside and looks like an old warehouse that has been renovated into a beautiful coffee shop. They roast their beans right onsight and it smells sooooo good! They have so many good pastries here too.
7. Reveille– Located in Mission Bay. This was my favorite place for coffee or hot chocolate in the winter. The pink tables are to die for and the interior is so beautiful too! Also very dog friendly and they have the best food of all the cafes on my list. I could seriously eat here every day!
8. Viva la Tarte– Located in SOMA on Howard and 8th. I went here with a girlfriend for lunch and coffee and was so impressed! It’s very big inside with just a few tables and casual seating. They serve Sightglass coffee along with a ton of pasteries, pizzas and desserts. They are well known for the avocado toast!
9. Home- Located at 1222 Noriega St. I couldn’t find a link for their website. I actually stumbled upon this place on Instagram after seeing pictures of beautiful colorful lattes! It was a little more difficult to get to so you may need a car to get to this part of town. I was amazed at all the delicious and colorful lattes they offered. The birthday cake latte was soooo pretty and so yummy too!
10. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse– I know this one is not a coffee shop but if you are ever visiting SF you have got to go to Mr Holmes! Their cruffins are out of this world! They are a mix between a croissant and a muffin and they are baked fresh daily. Make sure to get in line as early as possible to make sure you get one. They sell out fast and you must be in line early. There is a limit of 2 per person. You can check their FB or IG page for all the flavors every week. The bakehouse is located in a not-so-good part of town so I recommend getting an uber or driving here and not walking around.
DRESS: ASOS (similar HERE) | SHOES: Marc Fisher | SUNNIES: Nordstrom | BAG: Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis | RING: Revolve | OLIVIA’S TOP: H&M | OLIVIA’S SHORTS: Old Navy | OLIVIA’S SUNNIES: The Children’s Place
So I have been to Vegas probably more times than I care to admit. I have had some pretty crazy times in Vegas over the years too… dinners at trendy restaurants, helicopter rides to the Grand Canyon, VIP tables and bottle service at some of the hottest clubs, etc. Now that I’m a mom and have grown up quite a bit, I decided to see a different side of Vegas this trip with my baby girl. We kind of decided to go last minute with my hubby who was going for a work conference. I’m so glad we decided to go. It’s always nice to get away for a few days and I want to show Olivia so many places we’ve been over the years.
We always try to fly with the baby on evening flights so she has the opportunity to sleep. I always dress her in a onsie with comfy pants and a sweater or jacket. I’m all about the layers since you never know if the plane will be warm or freezing. Plus once you get where you are going it’s easy to get babe ready for bed. Luckily our flight was just over an hour so it wasn’t bad at all. Now I know what to expect since we have flown with a baby before. If you missed my recent post on tips for flying with a baby you can find lots of good info HERE.
This trip we stayed at the Palazzo which is part of the Venetian. It was absolutely beautiful! I have always wanted to stay at the Venetian! I’ve been there a lot for restaurants and shopping but this was my first time staying there. If you’ve never been to Vegas, they have the hotel set up just like you are in Italy. There are gondola rides you can do both inside and outside of the hotel (although they are very expensive), the ceiling of the mall is painted blue with clouds to look as though you are outside and they have some really yummy restaurants! The good thing about the Palazzo is that all the rooms are suites! I have included a picture above of our room. It was huge! There was a separate living room and bedroom area. It worked out perfectly with the baby since we had plenty of room for the pack and play and all our luggage. I loved having the extra space so Olivia could still take her naps but I could watch a little TV or catch up on emails without having to be too quiet.
Wherever you decide to stay in Vegas, call ahead to see if they have a crib for you to use. Most of the nice hotels have cribs that you can use for free in your room so you do not have to bring along a pack and play. I brought ours just in case since it was a big conference in town and a lot of the hotels were sold out. I just wanted to be sure Olivia would have somewhere to sleep in case all the cribs were already used. Also make sure to request an extra refrigerator for your room when traveling with a baby. As long as you tell them it is for medical they will set up another one free of charge. This was so nice so we could keep extra milk in the fridge and we also used it to keep waters cold for us. Most of the standard fridges in the rooms come fully stocked with snacks and alcohol so you will be charged if you remove anything.
Whenever I travel with Olivia I try to keep her routine the same as it is when we are home. I always bring my Dohm noise machine and Halo sleepsack. I find that Olivia relates naps and bedtime with these things so she can always sleep anywhere. I tried to get up at the same time we do at home, anywhere between 6 and 7am. We just played in the room read books and ordered room service for breakfast. By the time breakfast was delivered to our room Olivia was ready to lay down for her nap, so I could eat some breakfast and get ready for the day. Once babe was up from her nap I was ready to go so we’d go out for a few hours and explore the hotel, do a little shopping and have lunch. I always make sure I’m home again in the afternoon to lay her down for an afternoon nap too. As long as she lays down once in the morning and again in the afternoon she can take quick naps here and there when she needs to in her stroller. One day we went to the pool for a little bit too although the water was too cold to get in. We just dipped our feet in. It was still nice to be out in the sun and relax in some warm weather.
Overall there is plenty to do with a baby in Vegas. The hotels are so enormous that there is so much to see inside. Most of the hotels are located pretty close together so you don’t have to be in the sun too much if you don’t want to be. Vegas gets SOOOOOO hot in the summer…. almost unbearable. My favorite hotels are the Venetian, Wynn, Cosmo and Caesar’s Palace. Most of the hotels have a kids pool or family pool too so you can be separated from the people that just go to party. For dinner, I just recommend going out a little bit early so you can get a table where you can easily fit a stroller. If you wait to go too late everywhere gets super crowded and it’s hard to fit a stroller or be able to get a table right away. I like going to dinner no later than 6 so we could be done and back to the room to have Olivia in bed by 8. I would for sure take Olivia back to Vegas the next chance I get. I don’t mind traveling with a baby at all and I love sharing all these fun experiences with her.
WRAP: Solly Baby (similar style, my exact color sold out) | TOP: similar HERE or HERE | JEANS: Express | SHOES: Superstars (mine are old, love THESE or THESE) | SUNNIES: Raybans | My beanie: GAP (color sold out) | Olivia’s beanie: Janie & Jack
There’s nothing I love more than a great adventure and Olivia by far is our greatest adventure yet! She has brought so much love and joy to our family we would be lost without her! I look forward to traveling the world with her and showing her all the beautiful things this world has to offer. It’s been so much fun taking her around our beautiful city of San Francisco and taking her to see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. These are the memories I want to cherish forever!
About 2 weeks ago we flew for the first time with Olivia when we traveled back to Florida to visit family. I was so nervous to fly her for the first time I had knots in my stomach and everything! Looking back I don’t know why I was so nervous, I guess I didn’t want to be “that mom” with the screaming baby on the night flight keeping everyone up. I wasn’t sure if Livie would scream the whole time or sleep, how I would change her in the tiny airplane bathroom, how would I pack all her stuff, etc… well, everything worked out just fine and today I’m sharing 15 tips that helped me when flying with a baby! Maybe this list will help someone else with new mom anxiety.
- Call the airlines ahead of time to let them know you will be traveling with an infant on your lap. Babies fly free on your lap until 2 years old. You will need to bring a copy of the birth certificate with you so make sure you have that.
- Make sure to pack your wrap or baby carrier to keep your hands free. My favorite is my Solly Baby wrap. I had Olivia in the stroller through security but put her in the wrap before we boarded the plane. It made things so much easier being hands free and it really relaxed her being all warm and cozy with me. It was also an easy way to get through the airport on our layover and board our next flight. It also allowed me to get some sleep on the plane without worrying about how to safely hold my baby.
- Bring a travel stroller… its so much easier to get through the airport and while on vacation with a lightweight and easy to pack stroller. We use THIS easy frame stroller that snaps on super easily with our car seat. It was very easy to get through security and folded up small through the xray machine.
- Make sure to buy a nice cover for your car seat like THIS one for less than $25. We gate checked our car seat and stroller and put this cover on right before we boarded the plane. You never know where your carseat will be under the plane and what germs and dirt might make it into the seat where your baby will also be sitting. Also we flew into Houston for a layover and it was pouring down raining. There were a few other car seats that were soaked just from being brought up from underneath the plane. I felt so bad for the babies that had to sit in these soggy car seats.
- Bring a blanket for baby on the plane… one of our flights was freezing cold so I had Olivia in my wrap most of the time with this her blanket wrapped around her. THIS is my favorite baby blanket. Its so soft and we use it every day when we go on walks.
- Dress in layers both you and baby… one of our flights was really warm and the other was really cold. Plus we were coming from San Francisco where it was really cold and going to Florida where it was almost 90 degrees.
- If your baby is breast feeding make sure to bring your nursing cover so you can have some privacy while nursing on your flight. Olivia is on a mixture of breast milk and formula right now (long story), so I needed a way to easily bring formula on the flight. I brought a few bottles with nursery water pre measured in each and THESE to-go formula packets. It was so easy to mix up her food for feedings and not have to worry about ice packs or keeping the bottles cold. You simply add the packet to a pre measured bottle of water, shake it up and you’re ready to go.
- Make sure to offer baby a bottle, pacifier or boob during take off and landing so their ears can pop. When doing this we didn’t have any issues with Olivia crying.
- Put 2 diapers on baby for the flight. Blow outs happen due to the change in pressure and its not pretty! I wanted to add another layer of protection just in case. Also make sure to bring a spare outfit for baby and a spare top for you just in case of emergencies
- Have a separate little bag inside of your diaper bag with a changing pad, diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer so you can just take that little bag with you to the bathroom for diaper changes. The bathrooms are so tiny you really don’t have room for anything extra
- Bring snacks on the plane especially if you are breast feeding. My favorites are Cliff bars or the little individual little bags of nuts from Trader Joe’s
- Get to the airport early! It takes so much more time to get through security with a baby. Make sure your liquids are separated and your car seat and stroller need to go through the xray scan. I was able to walk through the metal detector carrying the baby but my hubby had to go through the scanner.
- If you are traveling with your breast pump make sure you pack it in your carry on bag. They are very expensive to replace and they are considered medical equipment so they can be in your carry on bag. I only brought the diaper bag and a small purse, my husband brought a backpack and we had the car seat and stroller.
- Make sure to ask your flight attendants for wings for your baby’s first flight! They will not give them out unless you ask and I plan on putting her wings in her baby book for her to have forever.
- My biggest tip….. DON’T STRESS. haha! I know it’s easier said than done. I seriously had knots in my stomach for hours before we left for the airport. We just got there with plenty of time to spare and it wasn’t that bad at all. You get to pre-board with a baby so at least you get to drop off your car seat and stroller and get settled into your seat before the rush of people board the plane. Everyone we met loved seeing the baby and no one complained or gave dirty looks when she fussed on the plane. Everyone was so nice and understanding, plus she slept most of the flight. We took the red eye so she could sleep most of the time. The plane was nice and dark and the noise was very relaxing to her as well. Now that I know what to expect I’m very excited for our next trip with our little babe!
Our babymoon in Maui was like a dream come true! It was the last vacation just the two of us and we will remember it forever. We knew before we even got pregnant we wanted to have one last big trip just the two of us since it would be a while until baby would be ok to travel with us. Maui was top on my list! I wanted to go somewhere warm and sunny and just relax at the beach and pool. Mexico and a few other places we were considering were off limits due to the zika virus, we just didn’t want to chance anything. Plus we had a direct flight from San Francisco so it made flying while pregnant a breeze. Typically when we travel we are on the go constantly and try to do as much as we can every day. This trip was completely different and we really enjoyed sleeping in, calling for room service, taking naps in the afternoon and watching the sunset with drinks (mine being Ginger Ale of course).
We decided to stay at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua and booked very early on in our pregnancy to make sure we could stay where we wanted with an ocean view room. I mentioned in my posts before that we always try to stick with the same hotel chain when we travel. We choose to stay with Marriott because the hotels are all over the world and always in the best areas. It’s nice when you travel to other countries to have some things that are familiar. We have been part of their rewards program for years and always build up lots of points and then go on a nice vacation. Now that Ritz is owned by Marriott we knew we had to stay at this resort. Once you stay at a Ritz it’s so hard to go back to a regular hotel haha! You are greeted by everyone you meet by name and service is always top notch. It’s always worth the pricetag.
We stayed at the resort all day every day. We only left the resort one day when we went to have our maternity pictures done in Lahaina. The first morning we enjoyed room service with a feast of eggs, chocolate chip pancakes, fresh fruit and coffee and lots of yummy pastries. After the first day we found a little cafe onsite where we could grab a quick pastry and coffee for a fraction of the price. We would go down in the mornings, grab our breakfast, and enjoy it in our room with the sliding door open and ocean breeze coming in. We always figure out ways to cut costs for food and stay within a budget each day. This allowed us to eat on the property every day and also stay on budget with the total cost of the trip. For lunch we would usually eat at the little pool bar. They would bring it to our chair while at the pool or they had a cute little dining area with shade where you could eat as well. The fresh fish tacos were the best and they were plenty big enough to share. So most days we would just split the tacos. This freed up extra money at dinner so we could have a dessert or hubby could have a few beers. The portions were huge so we mostly just split everything on our trip.
The pics above were taken at DT Fleming Beach right on the property at the Ritz. It was so beautiful and very quiet. There’s also a little restaurant with burgers and shakes right on the beach surrounded by palm trees. So cute! One thing we did treat ourselves to on our babymoon was a couples massage. Ugh! Talk about pure heaven! We were in a cabana outside feeling the ocean breeze and hearing the palm trees swaying in the breeze. It was one of my favorite parts on our whole trip! Just enjoying that hour together not worrying about anything and just relaxing side by side was a memory I’ll cherish forever. The spa is absolutely gorgeous and you are welcome to stay the whole day with any spa service.
Now that we’ve had the most relaxing and beautiful babymoon we’re ready to meet our little baby girl soon! Somedays I can’t even believe we we are 8 months along already. How did I get so lucky? Love my little family so, so much!
Happy Friday friends! Hard to believe we’re already more than half way through February! It’s been a bit since I’ve had a chance to write about the next part of our California road trip, which also happens to be one of my favorite parts. Since we were in the car all day and we were gone over the holidays, I tried to dress in layers so I didn’t have to wear a big jacket while sitting in the car. I’m a sucker for a cozy blanket scarf and Zara has some of the best.
Our first stop of the day was in gorgeous Santa Cruz. We spent the morning exploring the boardwalk and cute little surf shops. Santa Cruz is very walkable and we walked a bunch to explore the beautiful beaches and cliffs. One of my favorite places was the lighthouse and the surrounding beaches and dog parks. We spent a lot of time watching the dogs play on the beach and I wish I had my girl along to join in the fun. I’m sure there was so much more in Santa Cruz to experience but unfortunately we only had a few hours to squeeze in all we could before continuing onto the next adventure.
Our next stop was by far my favorite hotel in the world…The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Staying at this hotel has been on my bucket list for a VERY long time. It seriously is like a castle on the cliffs and is so breathtaking. Half Moon Bay is just about 45 minutes from downtown San Francisco and is surrounded my world renowned golf courses. There really is not a lot to do in town, but once you make it to the Ritz you’ll never want to leave. They provided the most top notch customer service experience and took care of us the entire time we stayed with them. At check in we were greeted with glasses of champagne and friendly service. We had a blast walking around the property, enjoying in the ocean views and taking a million pictures. The only issue we had was not being able to get into our hotel room at our check in time at 4pm. We were a little bummed as we were only staying at the hotel for the one night and this really cut into our time at the hotel. The property manager was very apologetic and took care of us offering us a late check out the following day. He even called our room the following morning to make sure everything was ok with our room and our stay at the hotel. Very exceptional customer service.
Our room was absolutely amazing! We had an ocean view and could lay in bed and watch the ocean crash on the beautiful cliffs. We even had a fireplace in our room! It really came in handy in December as it was quite chilly. We loved watching the sunrise from our bed the following morning. The sky had a gorgeous pink glow that I will remember forever. I could have stayed at this hotel for the remainder of our trip and been totally ok with that. It was so nice to have a little down time on our road trip to get out of the car and get off our feet for a bit. I can’t wait for our next chance to come back. This hotel is very pricey but in my opinion worth every penny. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this amazing hotel make sure you do, you won’t regret it.
Hi loves! I’m so excited to share one of my favorite parts of our California road trip with you. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in the world and trust me, I have seen some really beautiful places. It’s hard to imagine this gorgeous drive is just a few hours from San Diego. I wore a comfy sweater, my favorite ripped denim and lace up flats for being in and out of the car all day. If you’re not familiar with Big Sur, it’s the stretch between San Simeon, where the Hearst Castle is located, all the way up to Carmel. It’s about a 90 mile stretch on a narrow 2 lane road called Route 1. This is a very winding stretch through the mountains and above the steep cliffs below. It was the most amazing drive I have ever seen. The only other place that compares is New Zealand. We got on the road early so we could take our time and stop a million times for pictures. These are some of my favorite memories with my hubby from our trip. Around every bend was another photo op. We lucked out that day too with gorgeous blue skies. Just make sure if you are making this drive that you fill up for gas before you get on this stretch of road. There are only about 3 gas stations along the way and very few stops for food as well. Luckily we packed a snack bag and had lots of waters on hand so we didn’t even stop for lunch. You would be amazed at the beautiful cliffs and ocean views. Bixby Bridge was one of the main stops we did along the drive. This bridge is just amazing through the mountains with the cliffs below. There were a lot of other people stopping for pictures as well. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time on this part of the road trip as you will want to stop a bunch for pictures too.
From Big Sur we continued north to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is a cute little town with cottage like homes and boutiques. We didn’t spend too much time here as it is very similar to places we have in San Diego. But if you are not from California you’ll want to allow some time to walk around and enjoy everything, maybe even grab lunch here. Pebble Beach is just a short drive from Carmel and is home to several world renowned golf courses. You’ll want to do the 17 mile drive through the gated community while you are here. There is a fee of $10 to drive through for non-residents but it is well worth it. You will drive along these gorgeous golf courses, through the forrest, and see some of the biggest mansions you will ever see. You’ll end up at gorgeous Pebble Beach. This white sandy beach has many stopping points and you’ll want to enjoy your time here as well. As we were here between Christmas and New Year’s it was too cold to lay out but it was nice to get out of the car a bit and walk on the beach.
Our last stop for the day was in Monterey. Monterey is just a few miles from the end of the 17 mile drive. We stayed at the Marriott right downtown which was a perfect location to stay for the night. After being in the car all day it was nice to park for the night and walk just a short distance over to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. There are a ton of local seafood restaurants to choose from depending on if you want to eat somewhere fancy or somewhere very casual. There are also a ton of little souvenir shops to look in after you eat. We ate at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto and I would highly recommend for dinner. Our dinner was fresh and we enjoyed a bottle of wine at our table overlooking the water. Make sure to call ahead for reservations so you don’t have to wait. It wasn’t a lot to do in Monterey so we were ok with just staying here for the night. After being in the car sightseeing all day we were excited to get back to our hotel and relax a little before getting on the road the next day.
Hi babes! Finally getting around to writing about the next part of our California road trip. Spending the day at the Hearst Castle and San Simeon was ah-mazing! San Simeon is located about 250 miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. It makes for a perfect stopping point on a road trip. The beaches at San Simeon were so beautiful and they are home to elephant seals. These creatures can get as large as 6,000 lbs. They were unbelievable! We spent some time taking pictures at the beach before making our way to the Hearst Castle and we went back again to watch the sunset.
In case you’ve never heard of the Hearst Castle, it’s a National and California Historical Landmark located in San Simeon. It was built and designed by William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947. The castle is actually made up of several mansions. The main house, Casa Grande, and several guest houses… Casa del Mar, Casa del Monte and Casa del Sol and altogether total more than 90,000 sq ft! Mr. Hearst spared no expense in the design, decor and architecture in this masterpiece. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in the US, more like something you would see in Europe. Absolutely amazing! The only thing I was disappointed in during our visit was the Neptune pool was drained and emptied. We were told due to it leaking over the years and the major drought in California it was emptied and will not be filled again until sometime in 2017.
There are several tours you can take depending on what part of the castle you want to see. All tours sell out well in advance so make sure you buy your tickets as far in advance as you can. They can be booked up to 56 days in advance. Adult tickets start at $25 and children start at $12. You can book multiple tours in the same day if you want to see more than one part of the castle. Make sure to allow enough time in between your tours and allow time for the bus ride from the visitor center to the castle which is approximately 15 minutes. I can’t stress enough of the importance of booking your tickets in advance. If you wait until you get there, all tours will be sold out. Also make sure to allow a whole day at the Hearst Castle so you don’t feel rushed. There is so much to see and do and you want to give yourself enough time for everything. There are several food places to eat lunch before your tour and you will have plenty of time after your tour to walk around the gardens at your leisure. There is a movie theater as well where you can watch a 40 minute movie on the life of Mr. Hearst and his inspiration for the building of the castle. Plus a huge gift shop. If you’re ever in the area make sure to make the special trip to the Hearst Castle. You won’t be disappointed!
Hi loves! I have been SO excited to write about my recent road trip through California over the holidays! My hubby and I had the time of our lives exploring our beautiful state. I would highly recommend a road trip to anyone who lives in California or is thinking about coming for a vacation. There was so much to see along the way it almost felt like 10 days on the road wasn’t long enough….although by the end we were seriously exhausted. Being in the car and being able to stop whenever and wherever you want meant everything! Typically on our vacations we fly and we are always on a time schedule not to mention restricted on what we can pack and take with us. This is the first trip in a long time that we could take whatever we want and be on our own schedule.
We decided to leave for our road trip on Christmas Day as we do not have any family living in California. We live in Northern San Diego so we planned our first stop to be in Santa Barbara. I wore comfy ripped denim and flats and paired them with a big cozy blanket scarf. Making our way up the coast about 3 hours north we passed through beautiful Malibu. Malibu is just past Los Angeles and includes 27 miles of gorgeous coastlines. It’s no wonder so many celebrities live here! As we were here on Christmas Day most places were closed so we enjoyed stopping at the pier and stretching our legs and taking some pics. The pier included several little restaurants and the most beautiful views.
From here we continued on another hour or so to our first stop in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara was a quiet and relaxing place to stop for the day. I think part of that was due to the fact that we were there on Christmas Day but most of the restaurants and shops were closed. We enjoyed time walking around State Street and downtown, also the marina and the pier. Everything was so picture-esque with very Mediterranean style architecture and mountainous views everywhere you look. We enjoyed having some down time strolling around the city. Our hotel was actually outside of Santa Barbara in Goleta. My hubby and I are platinum members with Marriott so we try to stay with this chain wherever we travel in the world. More about this below.
ROAD TRIP TIPS:
** Bring plenty of water! We brought a big pack of bottled water with us in the trunk and took a bottle or two into each hotel that we stayed at. This helped save money buying drinks on our trip and also helped us to stay hydrated. It’s amazing how you forget to drink water when you’re on the go all day.
** Pack a snack bag for the car! We packed a bag with some apples and bananas, nuts, rice cakes, protein bars, napkins and plenty of wine for evenings at the hotels! We try not to ever eat fast food so having a snack bag handy when you get hungry on the road was a life savor. Plus several days we were on the road there was no where to really stop for lunch. Always better to be safe than sorry.
** Always have a phone charger handy! If you’re like me you are on your phone constantly in the car. I was taking pictures, mapping directions, checking Instagram, and when you’re in more remote areas your battery gets drained so much faster. I bought a portable phone charger from Amazon for less than $15 and it’s a life savor on vacation.
** Plan ahead! Make sure you have a game plan of what you want to see and do on your trip as you plan so you make time for everything. We actually had to add another day into our trip to make sure we had plenty of time do do everything on our list. Remember, you don’t want to rush on a road trip, getting there is half the fun!
** Buy tickets in advance! I can’t stress this one enough. When you plan out everything you want to do on your trip, if anywhere requires tickets, buy them as early in advance as you can as they usually are sold out at the door. We did this for both the Hearst Castle and Alcatraz. Thank goodness we did too as they were both sold out when we got to our locations.
** Sign up for hotel rewards programs whenever you can! We are platinum members with Marriott (http://www.marriott.com/rewards/rewards-program.mi) and they really take care of us when we travel and stay at their hotels. They are all over the world so we never have a problem finding a hotel anywhere we go. I know other hotel chains also have reward programs too so if you decide to stay anywhere else make sure you take advantage of these programs, they are amazing!
** Give yourself plenty of time! This is probably the most important tip I could ever give. Never rush on a road trip. There is so much to see and do along the way the last thing you ever want is to feel rushed. My favorite part of our vacation was just being together in the car and all the little stops here and there we did to grab a quick pic.
Hopefully these tips can help you if you are considering a road trip through California! Trust me you won’t be sorry. I’ve travelled all over the world and this trip was one of my most favorite trips ever! I’m breaking down our trip into a post for each place we stopped since I have so much to share. If you have any questions or anything please feel free to leave me a comment. Thank you for reading!
I love spending a Saturday night in with a glass of wine going through vacation pictures. It’s so much fun to look back on pictures and remember all the fun adventures we had. I’m very lucky to say this was my second time back to Shanghai. This city is amazing and huge! The closest city I can compare it to is New York City…. only so much bigger and so many more people. There are highrises as far as you can see in every direction. Shanghai is for sure a vertical city. We stayed at the JW Marriott in the Huangpu District near People’s Square. This location was perfect for sightseeing around the city. There is a metro stop a block away that takes you anywhere in the city in minutes. The metros in China are extremely clean and cheap and is the main way to get around the city. Taxis are also very cheap to get around although traffic can be really bad during rush hour.
Springtime in Shanghai was so beautiful. There were gorgeous flowers everywhere around the city. We tried to experience new things on this trip including the World Financial Center observation deck on the 100th floor and the Yu Garden in the center of Shanghai’s Old City. Hard to believe these beautiful gardens are over 400 years old. If you’ve ever thought about visiting Asia I would highly recommend Shanghai. This city is very easy for Americans to get around as most people in the restaurants and hotels speak a little bit of English. There is so much history in this city and the people are very friendly. Shanghai is the perfect example of East meets West. I can’t wait for my next trip back! Thanks for reading!
What a perfect day for my very first blog post! For anyone that knows me on Instagram knows I love a good style challenge and my girl @shannonsa has the absolute best style challenges. Today’s style challenge just happens to be denim and white so these pics from my vacation in Shanghai, China seemed very fitting.
This chambray top from Old Navy is one of my favorite pieces. It goes with everything and can be dressed up or down very easily with heels or flats. I usually wear it with my white jeans but it also goes with colored jeans, tied over top a dress, or unbuttoned over a tank with shorts in the summer. In this case I paired the outfit with some leopard flats to add a print and some bold lips for a pop of color. This shade of MAC in “damn glamorous” is my absolute favorite.
Thank you stopping by to read my first blog post. I appreciate it so much! Look forward to sharing more outfit ideas and building my blog. Have a great rest of your week!