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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Exploring Secret Supper Clubs in San Diego

This weekend was all about local eats and treats, ending with a bang on Sunday night.  Friday, we snacked on Phil’s BBQ at the Padres Game. Saturday, we ate our way through the Junior League of San Diego’s Food & Wine Festival in La Jolla. Wrapping up our feast of a weekend, on Sunday we joined Cellar Door’s supper club for their Cinco De Mayo dinner series.

Table set for ten at Cellar Door’s exclusive supper club // Picture from Cellar Door’s FB page before all the guests arrived

Cellar Door is a supper club in Normal Heights, San Diego that hosts exclusive dinner parties about once a month.  The duo behind the club, Logan and Gary, create a unique theme for each event that inspires the menu and drink pairings. Themes, times and location are announced via their email lists, and you must sign up in advance. Typically the meal is 4-6 courses and is posted via Facebook a few hours before meal service. Competitive to say the least, this dinner club sells out lightening fast, and I was beyond pumped to snag spots for me and my husband.

This experience did not disappoint! Located in a funky hip dining room, with treats for the eyes everywhere you look (polar bear head, funny book titles, picture frames and more), we were two of ten guests at the last of four dinners occurring over the weekend. From this Cinco de Mayo themed dinner, our favorite courses were the pozole verde, a tangy spicy soup with chicken and hominy and the juiciest prawn taco I’ve ever had for the third course. We also loved their refreshing paloma and the dessert cocktail, Oporto Real, a blend of Mezcal, Tawny Port and Amaro Montenegro topped with a Luxardo Cherry.

Spicy fruit salad paired with tequila and sangrita, such a light and fun way to start the meal // Picture from Cellar Door’s FB page
Juicy prawn tacos featured on Cellar Door’s Cinco de Mayo supper club menu // May, 2017
Cellar Door’s Dessert Cocktail, a mix of Mezcal, Amaro Montenegro and Tawny Port // this pic is from Cellar Door’s FB Page, as mine was sipped away too soon!

We’ll definitely be back and are looking forward to more dinners this summer! Join Cellar Door’s email list here to be in the know — just promise not to take our spots! 🙂

Here are some insider tips for the best experience:

CELLAR DOOR SUPPER CLUB: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Cellar Door is hip, tasty and in demand; so spots at the table go fast! Be sure to respond ASAP after receiving their newsletter in order to secure your spot.
  • Bring your appetite and take a ride sharing service if you plan on drinking — our menu was 5 courses, each with a drink pairing.
  • This is a donation based dinner club, and $$ cash is king $$.
  • Chat with your fellow dinner guests! Meeting new people and chatting about food, travel and unique experiences is part of the fun.
  • Come with an open mind. Cellar Door often uses unique ingredients. Goat meat was featured this weekend and a friend mentioned she tried an exotic meat pâté in the past.
  • At this time, gluten free and vegetarian options don’t exist. But, if you have allergies notify them ASAP!
  • Couldn’t make the dinner? Check their Facebook page to drool over all the deliciousness from afar.

WANT MORE BUT DON’T LIVE IN SAN DIEGO?

Supper clubs range in menu focus, format and price. Google and Yelp will be your best resource in finding a supper club near you, otherwise you can try joining a Foodie group on Facebook or Meetup and ask around, because everyone knows foodies loooooove giving recommendations. 😉

Hope your weekend was just as delectable! Be sure to comment below if you love Cellar Door or have any other dinner club recommendations, as this is only our second in San Diego (we’ve been to Cow by Bear a few times for steak and shenanigans).

*Note: I was too busy enjoying myself to be on my phone taking pictures during the meal! Given that, some of the pictures in this post are from Cellar Door’s Facebook Page and have been marked accordingly in the captions.

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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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Hoppy Yoga at Green Flash Brewery

My mat is my happy place. Or in this case… my hoppy place? This morning my girlfriends and I joined a class of Hoppy Yoga at Green Flash Brewing and had so much fun practicing and tasting the day away.

Ready for Sunday Funday! // February 2017
Hoppy Yoga at Green Flash  // February 2017

Hoppy Yoga curates weekend yoga classes at local brewery favorites like Green Flash, OB Brewery, Stone and more.  Typically the classes start between 10-11am (before the breweries open) and end in a beer tasting or celebratory pint, all included in the price of the class. You can view the schedule online to check out all the locations and instructors and pre-book your spot.

Today’s class was all levels, and there was a great mix of age, sex and ability amongst the attendees.  The instructor, Erika, provided easy to understand cues and chatted with us all after class, making it a warm environment. As for the beer and Green Flash Brewing, everything was top notch! My favorites were Green Flash’s Cosmic Ristretto Black Lager and the Passion Fruit Kicker.

Savasana before Drink-asana // Hoppy Yoga at Green Flash, February 2017
Post yoga beer flight at Green Flash // February 2017

We had such a great time at Hoppy Yoga, and I know my husband and a couple of our friends will join me there again soon. Here are a few know before you go tips:

HOPPY YOGA: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Hoppy Yoga classes are BYOM (bring your own MAT), so don’t forget yours.
  • The floors at breweries are often concrete, so be kind to your body and fold your mat in half for any postures that you need extra cushioning. This could be anytime you’re on your knees or are playing around with inversions and arm balances.
  • As with all yoga classes, put your phone and watches on mute or airplane mode.
  • Breweries can be chilly places — be sure to bring a long sleeve in case you want to layer up.
  • Classes are all levels, so bring friends and family members who might not take class regularly (beer is a good way to get them there!).
  • Try new beers you can only get at the brewery (drink responsibly, of course) and tip your bartenders!

Have you ever done Hoppy Yoga in San Diego or something similar in other cities? Share your experience and leave all your suggestions below!

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