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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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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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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Humpback Rocks Trail & Icy Treats at Moo Thru

Two weeks ago, I flew back to the east coast for a fun filled gals weekend. Before the bachelorette festivities and family gatherings began, I met up with my college roommate for a little adventure.  We took a half (or really, two-thirds) day excursion out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike Humpback Rocks, and added a brewery lunch with a view and ice cream treat on the way back into town. It was a great way to catchup with one of my best friends and keep up with my Trailblaze Challenge training while traveling.

Taking things to the top // Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia // May 2017

The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles along the southern Appalachians through Virginia and North Carolina and contains 360+ miles of hiking trails. From where we accessed the National Park, is about a 2-2.5 hour drive from DC. Google knows best, but we recommend taking I-66 W to US-29 S, then taking I-64 W to State Rte 610 in South River. We took a quick stop right outside the park at the Rockfish Gap Tourist Center to gear up with handfuls of maps, advice and bathrooms (helpful!). From there, you quickly enter the Blue Ridge Parkway and head to the Humpback Rocks parking lot in between mileposts 6 and 7.

Be prepared! Bring this trail map or get it at the Visitor Center // Map from NPS.gov
Insider tip: take the loop! It is full of switchbacks for a subtle climb

The trailhead is conveniently right there. Once you’re on the trail (be sure to take the first trailhead entrance) the climb is full of shady steady switchbacks, and a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Cell service is spotty, so bring those old fashioned trail maps, a dowloaded version on your phone and follow the markings along the trees. The hike is definitely all levels, and good for experienced hikers and novices alike. A little more than 3/4 of the way through the loop, you’ll find yourself at a sign for Humpback Rocks. Take this scramble up and be prepared for the epic view. We thought we hit the jackpot of a view…

The fake out view // Humpback Rocks, Blue Ridge Parkway // Spring 2017

And it only got better!

View of the valley from Humpback Rocks // Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia // Spring 2017

From there, hang out and enjoy the view and take the path down. At first, it feels more like stairs and then widens to be more of a path versus a trail feel. If you’re pressed for time and just want to soak in the view, you can just go up and back from the parking lot, by using the second trailhead entrance. This will quickly present you with a “staircase” style hike up to Humpback Rocks and you’ll take the same path down.

Ta-Da! View from the Top of Humpback Rocks // Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia // Spring 2017

Afterwards reward yourself with a gorgeous view, a burger and beer at Blue Mountain Brewery. We sat on the patio, looked at pictures from the hike and checked the traffic for our way back into the city.  The last stop we made was at my all time favorite ice cream spot, Moo Thru! Well deserved after that hike, right?!

 

Visiting DC soon? Add this half day excursion for your fill of hiking, brews, views and handmade ice cream! And, as always, my quick and dirty review is below…

 

 


HUMPBACK ROCKS TRAIL ALONG THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

Location: Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia

Best Time of Year To Go: spring through fall (best foliage peeping is in October)

Hiking Distance: 4.2 miles (loop)

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • Permits are not required and it was free to park.
  • This loop offers tons of shade and is dog friendly.
  • Pack a snack and picnic with friends — tables located at the start of the trailhead — or hit up a Charlottesville brewery or winery for lunch.
  • Plan on losing  (or at least dropping) cell service on the way to and during the hike. Bringing paper maps and pre-downloading maps on your phone are the way to go.
  • From the parking lot there are two trailheads, one for the loop and one straight up. The .8 miles straight up path gets much more crowded and can be quite slippery after recent rain.
  • Is there a sign preventing you from entering the parking lot / trail? That means a bear was spotted! Good thing there are lots of other trails nearby.
  • See someone that looks and smells like they’ve been hiking a long time? They’re probably hiking the AT, and be sure to let them pass you. #trailetiquette.

Rating: Gorgeous view but tough following the trail at times (4 /5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: NPS (with map), Hiking Upward (with recent reviews and calorie count!), All Trails (with lots of pictures)


Let’s connect! What was your experience like at Humpback Rocks? Any favorite hikes near DC that I should add to my hiking wish list?

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LA LA Land: Mini trip up the Coast

LA: a sprawling city with endless hip foodie spots, chic shops, beaches, hollywood moments and art museums. Since I live just a few hours from LA, I always make time to see something new in between visiting all my favorite spots. This trip was just a couple of days but it was filled to the brim with quintessential LA goodness.

Windy day in LA LA Land // March 2017
Love is light // Urban Light by Chris Burden at LACMA, March 2017

One of my favorite parts was exploring LACMA for the first time with my family. We loved wandering through the large art instillations, seeing La Gerbe (a big colorful Matisse), and taking our time to soak in the Picasso & Riviera exhibit. This was a special treat after just coming back from Mexico City and having visited places that were referenced and influential for the artist.

I got this // Levitated Mass at LACMA, March 2017

I always recommend a break between seeing the sights, that way you don’t get visitor burnout. Joan’s on Third was the perfect place where everyone could get the salad, wrap or cheese plate of their dreams plus a little something sweet on the side. Beware: churro kettle corn is addictive. You’ve been warned.

Beware: churro kettle corn is highly addictive // Joan’s on Third, March 2017

Each beach town in LA has such a different feel, and this trip we explored Venice Beach and Malibu. The Venice Beach boardwalk is 2.5 miles of non-stop people watching with food stalls, performers, the original Muscle Beach, roller bladers and tons of seagulls.

More toppings than acai? Just the way I like it!  // Venice Beach Boardwalk, March 2017
Always beach ready // Malibu, March 2017

In Malibu, we walked Point Dume State Beach at golden hour and even stumbled onto a movie set — look for us in the background of plane crash scenes. 😉

Spring showers bring beach flowers // Malibu, March 2017

When happy hour hit, we headed to a nearby spot to toast to a great trip. See you again soon, LA!

Golden Hour at Pointe Dume State Beach // March 2017

Have a favorite LA spot? Comment below and I’ll add it into one of my trips this year!

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Life’s a Fiesta — First Timer’s Getaway Guide to Mexico City

In mid-march, my husband and our friends from San Diego headed out for a long weekend to Mexico City. Because nothing says, “Happy St Patty’s Day!” like a trip to Mexico, right? 😉 It was a first time visit for all four of us and we had all been prepped that we were going to love this sprawling city. But I honestly, I didn’t expect to fall so head over heels!

We arrived via a direct flight from Tijuana (thank you, border city!) and stayed at the W in Polanco.  Over the next few days, we packed in a ton of sights and activities — Anthropology Museum, Pyramids, Lucha Libre — and ate our way through the town — everything from Pujol to street tacos. All in all, I was so thoroughly in love with the city, and can’t wait to come back in the summer or fall!

Check out my recommendations and insider tips below and be sure to add your favorite spots in the comments section. Viva la Mexico!

Mexico City: Bright, Bold and Beautiful! // March 2017

ADVENTUREAPPEAL’S
FIRST TIMER’s GETAWAY GUIDE TO MEXICO CITY:

♦ Know Before you go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Get Cultural
♦ Lodging
♦ How to Get There

 

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Be street smart. Mexico City upped their security measures drastically in the last couple of years, and you can tell this by the police presence and usage of cameras for surveillance. However, be smart about keeping an eye on your possessions and don’t wear anything too flashy.
  • Higher altitude and cloudless skies during dry season demand extra sunscreen and a hat. Bring yours or purchase at a pharmacy in the city.
  • Polanco, Condessa and Roma are hip neighborhoods and shorts and flip flops are not recommended.
  • Most museums are closed on Mondays, so that’s a great day to shop or head to the Teotihuacán Pyramids.
  • Cash is king. Restaurants, hotels and most stores take credit cards, but having small bills and coins on hand is essential for smooth transactions.
  • Reservations never hurt. Make yours online in advance for dinners out, or ask your hotel’s concierge to make them for you. The W was extremely helpful here for us!
Wandering Condessa’s streets after brunch // Mexico City, March 2017

GET ACTIVE

Climb a Pyramid

For your first trip to Mexico City, do not miss a half day trip to the Teotihuacán Pyramids. Located about 90 minutes from Mexico City, the Pyramids are a pre-Aztec UNESCO World Heritage site and offer both a killer glutes workout and a big dose of history.  The largest of the pyramids is the Pyramid of the Sun, and often times the line to the top wraps around the middle base.

A few steps down, a few thousand to go // Teotihuacán Pyramids, Mexico // March 2017
Climb a Pyramid: Bucket List *Check*
Catching our breath at the top of the Teotihuacan Pyramids, looking down at the Avenue of the Dead! // Mexico City, March 2017

Walk the Park

Mexico City has a plethora of parks and green spaces. The largest and most versatile is Chapultepec Park.  There are endless paths, areas to go rent paddle boats and a series of museums (see Get Cultured section). Vendors are stashed along the routes with provisions — fried tasty items, waters, ice cream and agua frescas.

Feeling small next to this great work outside the Modern Art Museum in Chapultepec Park

SAVOR

  • Pujol — What can I say? This changed mole for me forever and was my favorite meal of the trip! Pujol was credited for putting Mexico City on the map for fine dining, is ranked on the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World and was showcased in Netflix’s Chef’s Table series. Pujol features modern Mexican cuisine via a tasting menu and has cool, hip space with a view of their garden. Reservations in advance are a must. https://www.pujol.com.mx/en/
  • Rosetta — Mexican-Italian fusion for the perfect late lunch (this means 2:30p or after). Sip on some wine as you soak in the feeling of being in a European courtyard. We recommend ordering lots of the small plates to try everything. http://www.rosetta.com.mx/restaurante-en/rosetta.html
  • Lalo! — Hip breakfast / brunch / lunch spot in Condessa. They don’t take reservations, but you can put your name down and walk the cute streets nearby while you wait or order coffees and juice at their bar to pass the time. Our favorite was the green juice (cactus, celery and kiwi) and the huevos con chorizo. http://eat-lalo.com/
  • Maison Belen — Charming Mexican-French fusion for breakfast / brunch. Sit outside and enjoy the people watching while snacking on their divine pastries. https://www.instagram.com/maisonbelen/
  • The Comrade — Craft cocktails and bites with outdoor and indoor seating. The perfect pre-dinner spot while you’re in Polanco. http://www.thecomrade.mx/carta.html
  • Street Tacos — a must! There are dozens of recommendations food blogs have here, but our favorite was just on a corner in Condessa. They were so friendly and even comped us our first taco.
  • Pulque — Trying this spirit is a bit of an adventure. White and a little thick, this drink is made from fermented sap of the maguey agave plant,  and spoils quickly (no shelf life, sorry!).
Pujol // Polanco, Mexico City, March 2017
Exact spot where the aged mole stole the show // Pujol in Polanco, Mexico City, March 2017
Snacking on these piping hot tortillas filled with juicy pork. Street Tacos are a must in Mexico City.

VIEW FROM ABOVE

There are two vantage points you cannot miss in Mexico City: the view from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán  (see Get Active section) and the cityscape seen from Castillo de Chapultepec.

For Mexico City’s best cityscape, head to Castillo de Chapultepec // March 2017

LOGDING

The modern, hip W was the perfect hotel for our trip, and I couldn’t recommend it more. The whole staff, and especially the concierge, were so friendly and the modern vibe had us always in a good mood. We also loved the view from our rooms — a glimpse into the nearby Polanco.  Location is everything and the W is a stones throw from dozens of cafes, galleries and places to grab a drink in Polanco. It also is within walking distance of Chapultepec Park, where you can visit museums, take a paddle boat out or tour the Castle. Couldn’t recommend it more! http://www.wmexicocity.com/

Recommend staying in Polanco, Condessa (where these beautiful row homes are) or Roma Neighborhoods // Mexico City, March 2017

GET CULTURAL

  • Museum of Anthropology: This museum is gorgeous inside and out. It covers an incredible amount of Mexican history, with floors dedicated to the indigenous peoples, their culture and customs, and most notably the many pre-Hispanic and even pre-Mayan and Aztec artifacts. http://www.mna.inah.gob.mx/
Making it rain in Mexico City // Anthropology Museum, March 2017
Anthropology Museum, Mexico City // March 2017
  • Zocalo is the historic center where you can visit the Catedral, the Templo Mayor and see Diego Rivera mural of the presidential palace.
  • Casa Azul / The Museum of Frida Kahlo: Lovers, artists and revolutionaries, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera certainly made their mark on history.  Frida Kahlo’s house, Casa Azul and monument are must-see stops for your first time in Mexico City.  Insider tip: buy your tickets (boletos in Spanish) online in advance (times begin every half hour) to avoid wasting time standing on line. http://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/
Casa Azul and the Frida Kahlo Museum // Mexico City, March 2017
  • The Sanborns de los Azulejos, is a chain department store owned by Carlos Slim built in a historic building with beautiful architecture and old Mexican tile. Nice place to check out and grab a coffee on the way to Palacio de Bellas Artes.
  • Placio de Bellas Artes: – Beautiful architecture with another Diego Rivera mural and other exhibits.  Insider tip: on the 8th floor of the art-deco Sears (across the street from the Palacio de Bellas Artes) you’ll find a small café with a balcony overlooking the Palacio and its lovely manicured gardens. http://www.palacio.bellasartes.gob.mx/
  • Lucha Libre: Masks, giant beers, crazy pumped crowds… what more could you ask for?! A night watching lucha libre at Arena Mexico is a must for any first timer to Mexico City.  Root for the Técnicos (“good guys”) or the entertaining rudos (“bad guys”) and be prepared to be shocked, awed and in fits of laughter.
Lucha Libre at Arena Mexico // Mexico City, March 2017
Grab your mask and your fiercest scowl! I couldn’t stop cheering and laughing the whole night.
  • Mariachis: Plaza Garibaldi is near the historic center and has Mariachis out every night that can serenade you, for a fee.  And who doesn’t love to be serenaded?!

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Mexico City and it’s airports are massive. From San Diego, we crossed the border via CBX and took the tunnel directly to the Tijuana Airport. From there, we passed through security and headed to our gates. Then, it was a quick 3 hour flight and we touched down in Mexico City. Check out my full guide for crossing here.

Everyday feels like a celebration! // San Francisco Puebla, Mexico City Trip, March 2017
Charming streets of the San Francisco Puebla // Mexico City Trip, March 2017

We have so much left to explore in Mexico City — restaurants, neighborhoods and museums — and can’t wait to get back soon! Be sure to comment below with your favorite not to miss adventures in Mexico City!

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Chill and Chilly Trip to Banff

Long weekend trips with friends are some of my favorite! This past weekend my husband and I joined our friends in Banff for a little ski, snowshoe and relaxation.

Each day had a rhythm: get caffeinated, get active, aprés ski and end with a big group dinner. This format worked so well for a big group, where there were different interest areas and schedules. Our group loved skiing at Sunshine and Lake Louise (don’t miss Boomerang!), snowshoeing (my favorite!) and seeing all the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon. Below you’ll also find our favorite bites and sips of the trip.

Grab your mitts! // Banff, Canada, February 2017

All in all I was so thoroughly in love with the trip, and can’t wait to come back in the summer or fall! Check out my recommendations and insider tips below, and add your favorite spots in the comments section below.

ADVENTUREAPPEAL’S
BANFF WINTER GETWAY GUIDE:

♦ Know Before you go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Shopping
♦ Other Hot Spots
♦ Lodging
♦ How to Get There

 

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Explore 3 day ski packages to save money and time buying lift tickets.
  • Activities where there aren’t a lot of operators (like dog sledding) fill up quickly, so be sure to book in advance.
  • Temperatures in Banff are no joke. Bring lots of layers and glove liners so that you can operate your phone and camera without exposing your digits to negative digit temps.
  • If you have a big group, consider booking reservations 3-6 weeks in advance. The restaurants tend to be smaller and if you hate waiting in line this advice will be key.
  • Standing room in bars doesn’t really exist, as establishments are required to have a seat for every person.
  • Don’t forget your swim suit! Most hotels have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities and there are a few fancy spas you may want to check out too.
  • In the winter, renting a car isn’t necessary or smart if you aren’t used to icy conditions. Opt for using the Airporter, Banff bus routes, shuttles to the ski lifts and private taxis / cars. If your hotel is in town, there are plenty of walkable options for shopping, dinner and drinks.
  • Weekends (especially Saturdays) are busiest, so try to tack on a couple of weekdays to your stay if you can.

GET ACTIVE

There are tons of options to stay active while on your winter vacation to Banff, the most obvious choices being skiing and snowboarding. Other favorites from our group were snowshoeing, taking hikes and signing up for group workout classes at the Fairmont (drop in fees are available for classes if you’re staying elsewhere in town).

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk 

We loved strapping on spikes / crampons and traversing along the Johnston Canyon with Discovery Banff’s guided half-day adventure.

Ready for all of the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, Canada, February 2017

Through this Ice Walk Hike we got up close an personal with multiple frozen waterfalls, noshed on hot cocoa and cookies and watched the adventurous ice climbers (an activity for next time!).

Our group had the best tour guide, Saul, and we clocked in 3.6 miles along a railed pathway leading to the Upper and Lower Falls. These massive structures look like moments frozen in time. Pun intended!

Frozen Waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, February 2017
Hot Cocoa Cheers! // Banff, Canada February 2017

Snowshoeing at the Continental Divide

About 45 minutes from Banff, we spent the morning snowshoeing through the trees at Kootenay Park.

Let’s do this! // Snowshoeing with the gals in Canada, February 2017

Snowshoeing is the BEST way to stay warm! It was -10 C, and we all shed layers as we shuffled through the powder along the Continental Divide. A couple of tips for new snowshoers: take small steps and try to stay on top of the snow; don’t worry if you fall, it’s fun making snow angels; and lastly stretch afterwards as you’ll be using stability muscles you might not normally workout.

All smiles amongst the snow covered trees // Snowshoeing in Canada, February 2017
Pacific vs Atlantic // The Continental Divide, Canada, February 2017

SAVOR

  • The Bison Restaurant and Terrace // Upscale feel without being pretentious. Our group rated this the best Bison burger in town and we paired it with Caymus’ sister wine the Conundrum Red. My husband loved the escargot bone marrow appetizer too.
  • Rundle Lounge at the Fairmont Banff Springs // Seats are first come first serve, so be sure to snag a spot by the windows. Luckily, there are a few rooms and you can either stay for drinks (coffee, tea, cocktails, etc) or a meal.
  • Park Distillery // This establishment is just 2 years old, and makes all of their spirits using glacier water. Try a custom cocktail (they also have mocktails), a spirit sampler tray or just go for the food and distillery tour.
  • Whitebark Cafe // My favorite spot for morning almond milk lattes, cheddar chive bacon scones and homemade granola bars.
  • Wild Flour Bakery // Indulge on super sized breakfast sandwiches with homemade focaccia bread and add peanut butter to the yogurt parfait for a little extra protein and the most PBJ-tastic experience.
Lattes and lovely starts to the day // Whitebark Cafe, Banff, February 2017

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Everywhere you turn in Banff is another gorgeous mountain view. Besides at the top of the slopes, some of the best places to take in the views are via the Banff Gondola and the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs, specifically outside the Rundle Lounge.

Perspective is a beautiful thing // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

LOGDING

We loved taking over the suites at the new Moose Hotel! Everything at the hotel was new and clean, and the heated pools, hot tubs and fire pit all had great views of the mountains. Insider Tip: the pictures on the Moose Hotel’s website don’t do this property justice!

Waking up in winter wonderland //Moose Hotel, Banff, Canada February 2017

Looking for a family friendly hotel? Opt for the Fairmont Banff Springs, where there are lots of options for kids and adults alike, several restaurants on property, and a collegiate / historic feel. Plus, the views are pretty phenomenal!

Classy, classic and all about the viewpoints // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

SHOPPING

  • Don’t live in Canada? Hit up Roots for soft sweats, sweaters, scarfs and  Canada branded merch. I loved their current collaboration with Pendelton.
  • Like any good ski town, Banff has endless options of ski stores if you forget anything.
  • Park Distillery has the best gift shop! Plus everything looks better after a spirit sampler.
Let’s get one of everything! // Park Distillery in Banff, Canada, February 2017

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada, and easily accessed via a 90 minute shuttle from the Calgary airport. Reserve your spot on the Airporter because of its new buses, friendly staff and complementary water.

Our group landed in shifts so we all met at the Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar (Marriott’s downstairs lounge restaurant) for bites and craft cocktails while we waited for the shuttle van.  It sounds odd, but this airport terminal gem is not to be missed.

OTHER HOT SPOTS

Banff really has endless activities: dog sledding, sleigh rides, hot springs, ice skating on Lake Louise, cross country skiing and more!

I hope you enjoy every second of your trip and be sure to comment below with your favorite not to miss wintertime adventures in Banff!

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Gals Getaway: Palm Springs

I’ll let you in on a secret…. I love celebrating and I love traveling. So when one of my best friends decided to have her birthday celebration be a weekend in Palm Springs, I was all for it.

Gals Getaway // Palm Springs 2017

The timing was a little crazy, but honestly jumping right into a girls weekend after Bali was amazing because I missed them when I was away, and it made the post vacation blues nonexistent.

We took over one of the gals’ vacation home and clocked countless hours by the pool and outdoor fireplace catching up.  Scheduling this downtime sounds a little odd, but it was perfection.

I could get used to this // Palm Springs, California 2017

During the day, our group hiked Garstin Loop Trail and Palm Canyon Trail at Indian Canyon Reserve. These two trails were a great combination since the first provided a steep ascent to grab that view from above and the second had us frolicking through giant palms, reminding us we were in a beautiful dessert oasis.

Garstin Loop Trail, Palm Springs // Hike 4 of the 2017 52 Hike Challenge
Palm Canyon Trail, Indian Canyons Reserve // Hike 5 of the 2017 52 Hike Challenge
Stay flexible // Indian Canyons Reserve

Shopping was also a must for our group. I love mid-century modern decor and design so all the boutiques were a feast for my eyes. In between all the furniture, pillows, books and fancy knick knacks, we caffeinated at two charming places, Earnest Coffee and Koffi.

At night, we started at the Parker for fab cocktails and all the Instagramable moments we could take, followed by tasty meals at Trio and Dish Creative Cuisine. Both restaurants were delicious and accommodated large groups with ease.  Be sure to get the Russian Standard cocktail at Dish — that cocktail is part art and part science experiment!

#thepinkdoor // Palm Springs, California 2017
Small arms, big bite // Cabazon Dinosaurs on the Road Trip Back from Palm Springs, 2017

It was such a great weekend and I can’t wait to get back… and convince my husband we need to buy a house there! Where are your favorite Palm Springs spots? Comment below with all your suggestions and recommendations. Thank you!

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Sometimes you snap book a trip

2017 has been ushered in by snap booking two incredible trips… FOR JANUARY! Which is already two weeks in. I know, crazy, right? My personality is one quarter spontaneous and three quarters serious planner so now that I’ve gotten the fun part out of the way, the planning begins!

I booked a yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia and a gals weekend to celebrate one of my best friends’ birthday in Palm Springs, California. I’m over the moon about both trips and am having a hard time getting this grin off my face. I can’t wait to share all my mini adventures along the way. Be sure to check out my Instagram, where I’ll post pics and timeline updates on my story.

These two upcoming trips also have me reminiscing about my very first yoga retreat which I participated in in 2016, in the beautiful and wild Galapagos Islands.  I’ll be flooding my Instagram with pictures over the next few days to fill y’all in, and will link to a blog post later with the full scoop.

Hope you enjoy hearing all about it and of course please send any recommendations for Bali and Palm Springs my way!

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