Pop, Fizz, Clink! 24 Hours in Napa

Ok, I admit it: I love to plan. But there’s also something so wonderful about a spontaneous trip!

After a few packed days in Houston, I was headed home to San Diego. En route to the airport my husband texted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Napa the next day. I didn’t hesitate, I just squealed and said of course! So goes our 24 hour Napa mission.

Adventure Appeal x 24 Hours in Napa // June 2017

Packing in a hurry, I tried to just bring the important things, an outfit for the night, an outfit for wine tasting and a bikini for any pool time, and not overthink it. Also, we grabbed a bottle of bubbly for the plane – pretty essential, right? 😉

Let’s be Jet Setters, Darling! // Adventure Appeal x 24 Hours in Napa, June 2017

With my first private plane experience, the trip was definitely off to a great start.

🍾 Packed the essentials 🍾 now off to Napa! // June 2017

We stayed at the gorgeous Carneros Resort & Spa, which also happens to be the place we got married a couple of years ago. It brings back all the warm fuzzies every single time.

Throwback to the Carneros Resort on our wedding day! // November 2014

For dinner, we opted to try someplace new, and booked a sushi dinner at Kenzo. This Japanese spot is owned by the couple behind Kenzo winery and includes a Kaiseki tasting menu at the sushi bar, a few tables in the dining room and a back room with a separate sushi bar for private parties. We were blown away by the artistry of the meal, and how well the courses paired with the estate wine. It was such an intimate and unique dinner, I highly recommend it for a splurge meal.

Menu signed by our sushi chefs — such a delicious and authentic experience // Kenzo, Napa June 2017

The next morning, after taking full use of breakfast in bed and the outdoor showers in our casita, we headed to garden tastings at Caymus and Frog’s Leap.

Beautiful gardens at Caymus, the perfect place for a summer tasting // Napa, June 2017
Find be between the vines // Caymus Winery, Napa June 2017
Serious wine cellar goals // Caymus Winery, Napa, June 2017

We are big fans already, and it was neat to try all of the wines you can only get in Napa (like Caymus’ Zin!). Insider tip: these wineries are within walking distance and you can pre-book appointments (recommended) online. Too easy!

Enjoy the garden, grounds, barn and sneak into production while Frog’s Leap // Napa, June 2017
Frog’s Leap Garden Tasting // Napa, June 2017
Wine and pretty gardens, I’m in heaven! // Frog’s Leap Winery, Napa, June 2017

Following the tastings, we had a wonderful lunch at Mustard’s Grill and couldn’t believe our luck that we were there on the 35th birthday celebration. From there it was straight to the pool and relaxing on property before our evening flight.

It was a fun whirlwind adventure where we relished in good meals, tasted wines in beautiful gardens and were still able to to soak in some sun and slower paced wine country vibes. I can’t wait to come back later this year!

Have you taken spontaneous quick trips in the past? What have been some of your favorite quick getaways?

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Houston, You’re Pretty Out of this World!

Everything’s bigger in Texas. That held true on my latest trip to Houston where I saw enormous rockets at NASA, had huge helpings of Tex-Mex and saw Rothko paintings that took up entire walls.

First Stop: Johnson Space Center … Next Stop: The Moon!

My sister, little nieces and I loved touring visiting the Houston Space Station. It is about 30-45 minutes outside the city and has a ton of exhibits, interactive features and tours of the actual NASA campus. We saw moon rocks, lunar roving vehicles, climbed in the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft and still felt like we barely scratched the surface of what the Center has to offer.

🚀 fly me to the moon 🚀 // Houston Space Center, June 2017

Insider tip: you can pre-book all of your admissions, including tickets, tram tours and the famous shuttle carrier. This will help avoid lines and also keep you on track. Next time I really want to have lunch with an astronaut too! What a cool feature, I will definitely be back. Check out their website for more scheduling tips based on number of hours you have, etc.

After NASA we spent the afternoon on ferris wheels and scramblers at Kemah. It was a total blast, and would definitely pair the two especially if you have kids (or are a kid at heart, like me!).

Broken Obelisk outside the Rothko Cathedral // Houston, TX June 2017

One of my other favorite parts of the trip was visiting the serene Rothko Cathedral and the Menil Collection. The Broken Obelisk is a tribute to MLK and those that continue to fight for human rights and is located outside the Cathedral.  Inside the Cathedral, it is a serene space where giant Rothko paintings are adorned on each wall. As the clouds move, the light changes in the room and creates a really unique effect.

Love Jack at the Menil // Houston, TX, June 2017

Moving through the Museum District, a stop at the Love Jack and Menil Gallery are a must. It’s also free, and who doesn’t love free? We wove our way through the special exhibitions and really liked viewing their contemporary collection. Speaking of the contemporary collection, you can go back to their website after the visit and review everything you saw, which was pretty neat.

All in all it was a wonderful few days, and I loved exploring a few areas I hadn’t seen in past trips. Any Houston spots you love? Let me know so that I can add them into my next trip!

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The Making of a Weekend in Minnie

Weddings are the perfect time to catchup with old friends and explore different cities. We had the pleasure of attending our friends’ wedding in Minneapolis this month and loved exploring so many lush green spaces – parks, sculpture gardens, golf courses and more.

only the wind knows where it will carry our dandelion souls — a.r. asher // Minneapolis,  June 2017
All you need is love! // Newly reopened Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, June 2017

The Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Parks & Rec host the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, an 11 acre park with wide open green spaces and 60 works of art. A staple has always been the Spoonbrige and Cherry, and now also includes the blue rooster, “Hahn/Cock,” by Katharina ­Fritsch.

Life is pretty sweet // Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, June 2017

In between the park walks, we loved having brunch at The Copper Hen (don’t leave without having a bloody mary!) and dinner at Cafe Lucrat, which has a great view of Loring Park.

Rounding out the trip, our friend’s wedding ceremony took place at the Woodhill Country Club and we loved spending the day there with croquet, drinks overlooking the golf course and a lovely & lively reception. 🙂

Nothing but green for miles and blue skies // Woodhill Country Club, June 2017
Ready to celebrate! // Minnesota, June 2017
Fancy a round of croquet? // Woodhill Country Club, June 2017

Feeling so grateful to have had the chance to celebrate with our friends and explore Minneapolis a bit more. I hope your month has been filled with love and exploration too!

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Getaway Guide: 2 Day Mini Trip to Scottsdale

I love vacationing with friends: you have endless hours together catching up on all the good times and funny stories and still get to experience new things together building upon your friendship. One of these great mini trips was with my best friend from college to Scottsdale, AZ. We live on different coasts and only get to catch up a few times a year so it made the time together all the more precious.

Check out my top tips and recommendations below to max out your time and memories on a super quick (mine was just 2 days!) trip to Scottsdale.

Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale, AZ // April 2017

ADVENTURE APPEAL’S 2 DAYGETWAY GUIDE TO SCOTTSDALE, AZ

♦ Know Before You Go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Lodging
♦How to Get There

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Get your fill of the Saguaro! Southern AZ and parts of Mexico are their natural habitat.
  • Bring sunscreen and a swimsuit — the sun is strong and when we visited there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so we spent every afternoon chatting and lounging by the pool.
  • There’s incredible visibility at night in the desert, so don’t forget to look up at the stars. 🙂
  • Frequently resorts offer packages for discounted prices that include spa credits and breakfasts. Choose one of these for the ultimate luxury escape!
  • Many resorts also have a car service that you can utilize to take you on hikes and into town. Just be sure to bring cash for a tip.
  • Springtime is one of their busiest seasons for Scottsdale with visitors escaping cold weather and coming in town for baseball’s spring training.
  • Scottsdale is the new Caribbean for baby-moons! Thank you, Zika.
Can’t touch this! // Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale // April 2017

GET ACTIVE

It’s too easy to be active in Scottsdale. Resorts have a slew of classes free of charge with small numbers. Reset with a yoga class, or power up with bootcamp (don’t worry the pool is your reward later!).

I like big boulders and I cannot lie 😉 // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

Also be sure to check out the many accessible hiking trails. Two of our favorites were the very steep 2.5 mile climb up Camelback Mountain and the meandering Saguaro-filled Quartz Ridge Trail . Each were within 15 minutes of our resort, which you really can’t beat! See my review for the Quartz Ridge Trail trail here: http://adventureappeal.com/quartz-ridge-trail-8a/

Getting my Saguaro fix along the Quartz Ridge Trail // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

SAVOR

  • Pick international and eclectic small plates with locally sourced ingredients at the flavor-packed FnB. Request patio seating at dinnertime for a charming experience!
  • Poolside breakfast and lunch at the Sanctuary. We absolutely loved their kale salads with shrimp and a glass of rosé, the breakfast omelets and fresh smoothies.
  • Iced matcha tea lattes, cactus cookies and rose colored / scented / flavored everything at the adorable Růže Cake House right on Main Street.
Stop by Růže Cake House for all your caffeine and sweet tooth cravings // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Besides the view from the pool 😉 my favorite view from the trip was at the top of Camelback Mountain.

Hello, Arizona!! Best view of the trip was from Camelback Mountain // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

LOGDING

We absolutely loved staying at the Sanctuary Camelback Resort and Spa! Each room was in a casita and felt very modern and stylish. The poolside service, massage packages and grounds were top notch too.

In heaven poolside at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

Including Sanctuary, here are our top picks are listed below to find your desert oasis:

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Scottsdale is a quick trip from the Pheonix Airport and I found it so easy to navigate using ride share services, skipping the cost and hassle of a rental car. Also, check Southwest Airlines for cheap flights in and out — there are some genuine steals out there!

I really loved my mini trip to Scottsdale and I hope these tips help you to max our your quick trip there. Add any places I should bookmark for next time to the comments section below!

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Hiking Amongst the Cacti: Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A)

Welcome to Saguaro heaven! For those of us visiting Scottsdale on a quick vacation, be sure to add the Quartz Ridge Trail to your itinerary for your fill of hiking and cacti.

Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale // Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A) // April 2017

The Quartz Ridge Trail (also known as trail #8A of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve) is a quick out and back hike totaling approximately 3.5 miles. The path starts wide and slow and becomes thinner and steeper as the trail goes on, with lots of switchbacks to make the elevation gain (705 feet) feel extremely manageable.

Cactus with a view! What could be more Scottsdale? // Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A) // April 2017

One of my girlfriends and I hiked the trail in a little over an hour, stopping along for lots of cactus pictures and views of the city down below. There’s excellent signage, and follow the markers for #8A.  There are many other trails that intersect, so if you’d like to increase mileage that’s entirely possible.

On the trail! Quartz Ridge (#8A) // Scottsdale, April 2017

Only 10 minutes from town, we popped over to Růže Cake House right on Main Street for lattes and a snack afterwards and then headed straight to the pool back at the Sanctuary.  It was the perfect morning and such fun exploring a new trail! Check out my quick and dirty review below:


QUARTZ RIDGE TRAIL (#8A PHOENIX PRESERVE)

Best Time of Year To Go: Fall – Spring (when it doesn’t get too hot!)

Hiking Distance: 3.5 miles out and back

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • Be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen as the hike up and back is shade-free. You can also check for heat advisories here.
  • There’s a small parking at 32nd St and Lincoln with about 10 spaces that puts you right at the trailhead.
  • Southern Arizona and parts of Mexico are the only places where you can catch the Saguaro in it’s natural habitat. You’ll enjoy seeing so many along the trail.
  • No permit required – yay!
  • This hike is easily accessible from Scottsdale resorts and hotels, yet is not as hectic as Camelback Mountain.
  • At the end of the trail, it merges with #8B, so look for markers to make sure you don’t go too far — unless you want the extra mileage ;).

Rating: Great experience! (4/5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: AllTrails & Phoenix Parks & Rec


Let’s connect… Have you been to Scottsdale, and did you also love the Quartz Ridge Trail? Besides Camelback Mountain, what other hikes should I bookmark for my next visit?

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On the outskirts of town: Two Vegas Adventures

Visiting a city you’ve been to 20+ times? Try exploring the outskirts of town. I did just this on a recent road trip to Vegas and had the absolute best time!

SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS

Desert … desert … desert … HOLY SMOKES COLOR EXPLOSION! That’s how it feels when you’re approaching Seven Magic Mountains, a large-scale colorful boulder artwork by Ugo Rondinone. Located about 10 miles from Las Vegas off Interstate 15, visiting this artwork is an easy and fun addition to any road trip that instantly makes you smile with the rainbow of neon colors.

Promise to always live boldly! // Seven Magic Mountains // Last Vegas, Nevada, June 2017
A rainbow of neon joy in the desert // Seven Magic Mountains, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 2017

Plan your trip: http://sevenmagicmountains.com/

Find more large scale artworks sponsored by the Art Production Fund: http://www.artproductionfund.org/projects/curtis-kulig-at-the-street

MOUNT CHARLESTON

Twenty miles from the highway and the climate slowly changes from Joshua trees and Mojave yucca plants to pine trees and snow capped mountains. That’s pretty incredible for June in Las Vegas! We parked at the Mount Charleston Lodge and had a delightful lunch outside on the patio. This was our home base for the day, as afterwards we went to a nearby trailhead and hiked Little Falls (and then came back again for patio drinks!).

Perfect spot for our post hike patio drinks // Mount Charleston, Nevada, June 2017

Little Falls trail splits off of Cathedral Rock, and has a slow incline up to a creek bed and ends in a three tier waterfall. Total mileage is just under 2 miles and is pretty perfect way to spend an hour without wearing any kind of significant hiking gear. The U.S. Forest Service has a large visitor center on the way to the Lodge and can direct you to this hike and many many others on Mount Charleston.

Snow in June… Nevada? You’ve gotta be kidding me! // Mount Charleston, Nevada June 2017

Don’t listen to TLC, always chase those waterfalls // Mount Charleston, Nevada June 2017

Plan your trip: http://mtcharlestonlodge.com/

Pick your hikes: https://www.alltrails.com/lists/mount-charleston

 

What are your favorite adventures outside of Las Vegas? Tell me in the comments section below.

 

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