How I chose my “getting ready” wedding venue

When I think of my dream wedding, a few key pieces come to mind: a gorgeous dress, the look in my husband’s eyes, being surrounded by family & friends, and eating, drinking & having fun! Then, when I dive deeper, I think about how I want to feel on my wedding day – excited, nervous, calm, pampered, special, etc. SO many emotions, right?! Since a LOT of excitement comes leading up to the wedding (days prior, getting ready, etc) it was absolutely critical for me to have the perfect place to get ready in. After all, I’ll be there with my bridesmaids, my mom, my grandma, the photographer, videographer, hair & makeup…it takes a village people! haha.

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In all seriousness, I looked long and hard for a location that would be perfect for (a) Terry & I to spend our wedding night and (b) a venue for me & my girls to get ready in.

So…what was the criteria?! I came up with 3 things that were important to me…

It has space

This was HUGE for me! The thought of being cramped on my wedding day immediately stresses me out. With 5 bridesmaids, 3+ family members & a handful of vendors, having an open space with plentiful counterspace is absolutely necessary. We’ll be there for at least 5 hours on Saturday and need the space for hair & makeup stations, a light lunch spread, a champagne bar (obvi!) & of course, plenty of closet space for our dresses!

It feels swanky yet sophisticated

Let’s be honest, when else in your life can you justify splurging on a super nice hotel room for a weekend? (Okay, maybe the honeymoon too…) Since our wedding is out of town, renting a place was our only option. Given that I only plan on getting married once in my life, I want to get ready in a place that is luxurious and chic, yet sophisticated and classy. Something that appeals to both my grandma and my bridesmaids. Something that makes people say “wow” and that makes the photographers swoon. Think of all the pictures that will be taken here!

It feel special

In addition to the aesthetic feel (mentioned above), feeling “special” to me means a place that has amazing customer service, that understands the importance of your wedding day, that will go above & beyond to assure that everything goes as smoothly as possible with minimal stress & worry. Keeping calm on your wedding day is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

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When I found the Pavilion Grand Hotel, I knew I found the right spot. From my first interaction with the managers to our hotel tour, they made me feel right at home. They understand the excitement & anticipation that comes with your wedding day and they have all the bells & whistles to guarantee that your entire weekend goes smoothly. From valet parking to an on-premise salon to an in-house bistro, they’ve got it all. The space. The swank. The special feel I’ve been dreaming of.

Let the countdown begin! Less than 3 months til the big day. Be sure to stay tuned, as I’ll be sharing many Instagram posts & a follow up post of my experience.

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Thank you to The Pavilion Grand for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Jackson Hole Part 3: What to do (in summer)

So you likely read my part 1 (“the wedding”) and part 2 (“food & drink”) posts on Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Today I’ll be rounding out the Jackson Hole series with part 3: what to do in summer. Of course, what to do in Winter is a totally different post and I imagine it involves a lot of snowboarding and skiing! I’m way more of a warm weather type of girl, so Jackson was an absolute blast to visit in the summer! There is seriously SO MUCH to do y’all – for couples, families, kids, groups, etc. We had about 4 free days and soaked up every minute we could, but believe me when I say the list is endless. It’s the absolute perfect place to get outdoors and explore!

Head to String Lake

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We rented Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) from Rendevous (they were $40/day) and spent the day kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming in the lake, jumping off rocks, etc. The lake is super clear with the Grand Tetons in back- spectacular view. It was so much fun and all 6 of us had the best time goofing around.

Tip: bring towels, chairs & cooler with food (be sure to store in the bear locker!)

Granite Hot Springs

We thought this was cool but would be more fun in winter, as the springs were very hot & crowded. We made the best of it and enjoyed the natural (cold) waterfalls and hiked around. If you’re there during cooler weather, I highly recommend it. Located on a back road, about 10 miles off the beaten path, the area provides gorgeous views full of wildlife. We saw deer, cows, horses, etc…

White Water Rafting

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The bride & groom organized this as a group activity for the Thursday before the wedding so the families & friends could get to know each other. What a fun idea! We had the best time rafting down the Snake River – the rapids were fast, exciting & sometimes even scary! There were people of all ages (I’m talking 10-70) and everyone had a blast. Can’t recommend this enough.

Relax at the Four Seasons

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One of the nicest hotels in Jackson (the Amangani being the other), we took advantage of our stay here and spent an afternoon drinking rose & laying by the pool. Let me just say- this was the life! Side note: we also ate at the Westbank Grill, which was one of the best meals from the trip. Chef basically brought us out one of everything (literally- bison, steak, shrimp, tuna, brussels, mac & cheese, etc) and we went to town. There were 6 of us and our 4 hour dinner was absolute perfection!

As I mentioned, we only hit about 50% of the things on our “to do” list (due to limited time) but here are some activities I’d love to do when I (hopefully) get back to Jackson:

Horseback riding

Obviously there are horses everywhere in Jackson! This place is full of barns and farms and dude ranches…however, we could never find the time to commit to a half day excursion. Had we done a bit more research I’m sure we could have made it happen though. Next time!

Visit Yellowstone/Old Faithful

About a 2 hour drive (each way), Yellowstone is obviously a “must see” if you have time. A big chunk of our group took a day trip to drive out there & explore the park and they absolutely loved it. They said the scenery, the nature, the history- it’s all worth going.

Hike to Phelps Lake on the Lake Creek Trail

We actually arrived a day too late for this, but the whole group did this hike and everything said how fun it was. They hiked for a couple of hours and ended up jumping off some cliffs into the lake. The pictures were beautiful & it really sounded like a fun day!

Mormon Row

Okay, so I kept reading about this but sadly never made it! They say that if you want to see buffalo in person, they hang out here by the old barns. I actually never saw a buffalo during our trip, but I did see a moose which was super cool.

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Who else has warm weather ideas for Jackson Hole?! I’d love to hear what else I missed so I can plan on it for round 2!

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What To Do In Austin, TX

Back in April, I shared part one of our Austin, Texas city guide, specifically what to eat! Let’s be honest, Austin is known for their amazing Mexican, BBQ, and more. So it only made sense that I started with food; however, I strongly believe in balance (especially while on vacation!) so let’s talk about what there is to do in Austin. One of my favorite parts about the city is the outdoor culture! There are so many outdoor activities you can do and ways to stay active. Of course, there’s hiking, biking, kayaking, lake water sports, and more. Today I’m going to share a few easy adventures those of us visiting can do – no equipment needed other than your shoes, a bathing suit & an open mind:

Barton Springs

Barton Springs is the perfect way to refresh yourself on a hot Texas day! This 3 acre natural cold spring has been formed into a swimming pool where you can drink an ice cold brew, lay out in the sun, or swim some laps. It’s a public space but feels a bit more private because you’re surrounded by trees. Best part? It’s less than $10 to get in.

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Wineries

Texas has a wine country? Yup, I had no idea either until I visited! After spending a day popping in & out of wineries (only about 30 minutes outside of Austin), I can totally see why so many Texas brides get married out here. The stunning views, the warm Texas sun, the friendly people…it all makes for the perfect day! We spent part of the day at Driftwood Winery and then headed over to Salt Lick BBQ after for a killer meal.

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Hamilton Pool

This was our favorite thing we did while in Austin! About 30 minutes west of Austin, the Hamilton Pool is a stunning nature preserve that is basically a huge swimming hole/grotto that was formed when an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago. We began by hiking for about 45 minutes into the woods (there’s a quicker, more direct path there but we were trying to sweat out the previous night’s libations!) and then all of the sudden, the trees open up to this beauty:

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Stunning, right? The water was a gorgeous blue-green color and so refreshing (warning: it’s freezing!) We spent a few hours there jumping off rocks, exploring the waterfall & frolicking in the water. You can hike & explore the area for hours, which I highly recommend. In fact, we stumbled across a huge river about 15 minutes away that was equally fun to wade through & take pictures. Definitely go here!

Murals

Lastly, you must do the touristy favorites and snap a few Insta-worthy photos. There’s the  “i love you so much” sign, the “greetings from Austin sign” and more. Check out this article to read about all of the creative, beautiful murals in Austin.

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What’s your favorite thing to do when you visit Austin?!

 

 

 

 

Switzerland Travel Guide: Zurich & Interlaken

So last May we went to Europe for 2 weeks and randomly decided to fly home out of Zurich. We knew we wanted to see France & Amsterdam, but wanted to take advantage of United’s open jaw flights so debated which 3rd country to visit. We ended up on Switzerland because we’ve heard time & time again how beautiful the country is. Once we found out that we could fly home direct via Zurich, we booked it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

We were only in Switzerland for a short 72 hours but we had the best experience and cannot wait to go back. We stayed at the Sheraton Neues Schloss which was a bit outdated and very pricey, but an excellent location. I’d recommend it, especially for those enrolled in SPG. Below is my Switzerland travel guide, specifically for Zurich & Interlaken.

Tip: Switzerland is expensive. Like, insanely expensive. Be prepared for all costs (hotel, transportation, dining out, etc) to be very inflated.

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Walk around Zurich

Despite being a small city, it’s a huge hub for large financial institutions and banking giants. It’s divided into 12 districts, each containing 1-4 neighborhoods. The public transportation here is stellar, making it extremely accessible and simple to get around. There’s the “old town” and the “new town”, divided by the water. There are endless churches, galleries, museums, restaurants, stores, winding streets, gardens, etc. Get lost and explore!

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This city is very clean, very safe & very walkable. One of the first things we noticed is how impeccable everything in Zurich is – the buildings, the greenery, the people. Everyone looks like a wealthy banker and is dressed to the nines. Honestly, we saw so many good looking people it was kind of intimidating! Lucky for us, they were all very friendly and all speak English.

View the City by Boat

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Zurich is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich.We didn’t know much about the area, but the boat tour was really fun because you can hop on/hop off in different towns around the lake. The weather was a bit misty & overcast when we went, but we grabbed a bottle of wine made the most of our two hour boat adventure. I totally recommend doing this!

Day Trip to Interlaken

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So, on a whim we decided to try to head down to Interlaken for a day. I have a zillion friends who went here while studying abroad and I’ve heard endless good things! The train was quite expensive (maybe because it was last minute?) so we were able to snag a rental car for under $100 total. Lucky for us, this is Switzerland and the “economy” car was a new C-Class Mercedes Benz….don’t mind if I do!

Let me start by saying- if you are ever within 2-3 hours of Interlaken, GO! We so desperately wish we could have stayed 1-2 nights here and just explored. Oh my gosh this town is SO adorable- filled with super friendly people, restaurants & bars, parks and endless outdoor excursion opportunities! We were originally signed up to go canyoning but due to the heavy rainfall the previous few days, the trip was cancelled and we were offered a white water rafting trip instead. Best $100 we ever spent and hands down, the best day of our entire trip to Europe. Words cannot describe the magical, out-of-body experience that happens as you’re floating down a river, tasting fresh (crystal clear!) water and looking up to see the majestic Swiss Alps staring back. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life and I cannot recommend this enough. The tour itself was exciting and we met a lot of awesome people. We stopped by the Balmers Hostel after for a few beers and snacks on their back porch – they have an amazing lawn filled with hammocks, picnic tables & killer view of the Alps. We wanted to spend the night here but it’s super popular & sells out way in advance. It’s on my bucket list to come back.

Train to Utielberg

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A friend-of-a-friend who lives in Zurich recommended that we check out Uteilberg and I am so glad that we squeezed it in! We took train (so easy and only S10) to Utielberg and climbed to the top for some seriously amazing views. The summit gives you a panoramic view of Lake Zurich, the Limmat Valley & Swiss Alps. There’s a restaurant up there (we didn’t go in) and the entire trip only takes about an hour. Worth doing!

Favorite Restaurants

B. Good

Funny story – as we were meandering through Old Town, we turn the corner and the first thing we see is B. Good (those of you Boston folks are probably getting a kick out of this!). They said this location was the first international spot & that so far, it was very well received. I had to support my local business, so we shelled out 33CHF for a salad & burger w/ fries (yup, it’s pricey!)

The COOP

  The COOP is the local grocery and has everything!Since Zurich is so expensive, we wanted to get a few items for the room. We picked up baked goods, fruit, chocolates (duh), wine and snacks for our trip. This grocery is clean, affordable & has everything you need! It’s great alternative if you want to avoid dining out for every single meal. 

Zeughauskeller

Our favorite Zurich spot! This actually came recommended by quite a few people. It’s actually an old armory, still decorated with tanks, canons and huge rifles. It’s a really cool vibe. Sure, it’s a wee bit touristy, but not overpriced or tacky. We sat outside because the weather was awesome. This spot is a fun, traditional Swiss restaurant with about 90 entrees and 88 of them being sausage. Ha! T got spicy sausage, while I ordered the chicken. All entrees comes with the world’s best potato salad, a traditional potato cake & green salad. Of course, we both had house beer. It was so awesome that we came back again for dinner (we usually are not repeat diners!) and had an even better time!

Santa Lucia

Since we had clearly had our fix of sausage & potatoes, we opted to try some Northern Italian food. Located down a winding road in Old Town, this was a hidden gem! We sat outside on the adorable back patio and split a glass of wine, salad & pizza. This did not disappoint. If you want a cute date or Instagram-worth spot, this is it.

Ristorante Italia

One of T’s clients who is a chef/restaurant owner here in Boston recommended this place and let me tell you…it was to die for! Given that it was in the opposite direction of where we spent most of our time, we never would have found this place. Upon entry, it feels super swanky and sultry- perfect for a date night. The delicious Italian red wine was pricey, but not by Zurich standards. They brought homemade bread & olive oil right away, which was incredible. We shared a starter salad of parmesan and fennel carpaccio…y’all, this salad was hands-down one of the best things I have ever tasted. Omg, I still dream about it! For entree, I had linguini nere with shrimp & pomodoro sauce, while T has ghnocci al pomodoro. Everything was fresh, handmade & beautifully presented. My only regret is that we didn’t have enough room to try the tiramisu because I’m sure it was outstanding. 

Side note: It was too dark to take any food pictures, but trust me and just go here!

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Overall, I can’t recommend Zurich enough! Yes, there are many other places in Switzerland that are high on my list, but if you happen to be passing through it’s a good city to have as a base to explore the area. Switzerland, we can’t wait to be back!

My Tips for Paris in the Spring

As I sit here writing this post, I am having major FOMO as so many friends have booked European spring vacations! The responsible side of me is proud that I haven’t impulsively booked a vacation for 2017 (hope I didn’t just jinx myself), but the dreamer inside says “book something now! why are you waiting?!” So, we shall see. In the meantime I will recap and relive one of my favorite weeks of 2016- our week spent in Paris.

ACCOMMODATIONS

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Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) that are in a spiral shape, starting in the city center and heading out. Luckily, Paris is easily accessible so you can get around with walking or public transit. We rented an AirBNB in the 10th arrondissement and while it was an inexpensive apartment in a cute neighborhood, it wasn’t my ideal location. I’d prefer the 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

(Hint: the Park Hyatt Vendome was all booked the week we were there but I would stay there in a heartbeat. If you have any Hyatt/Chase points, book it! It’s a great value of points redemption, prime location and tres chic!).

TAKE A TOUR

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My friend recommended Fat Tire Bike Tours one day because she had such a great experience with them earlier in the year. We chose to do the night bike tour our first day in town. What a wonderful decision! First, having a scheduled event night 1 helped us stay up and get on local time (tip: don’t nap day 1!). Second, the bike tour allowed us to get our bearings on the different neighborhoods. We left knowing which areas we wanted to explore further. Third, we learned a ton. Our guide was fantastic – his father was Parisian & his mother was American, so he communicated perfectly with us while giving us a detailed, interesting history of each landmark we visited. The best part is the 4 hour tour ends with complimentary wine aboard a boat cruise down the Seine. I cannot recommend this enough!

MUSEUMS

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This is a hard category to tackle, as there are over 130 museums within Paris. Crazy, right?! Obviously it’s impossible to visit them all within one week, so we had to pick and choose. Given that we aren’t huge museum people (we both prefer being outdoors) it was a pretty easy choice. We chose to forego The Louvre – sorry, Mona Lisa- and opted to spend our time admiring Monet, Van Gogh & Toulouse-Lautrec in the Musee d’Orsay. The museum is manageable in size and has some killer art pieces. If you’re into impressionism, you’ll leave here inspired.

For those of you who visit the Musee d’Orsay, be sure to check out the cafe on the 5th floor. It’s got an amazing outdoor terrace with killer river views. We spent about an hour there sharing a trio of eclairs & a bottle of rose. Check out this list of the 12 most unmissable Parisian museums.

(Hint: if you’re wanting to visit two or more museums, you may want to buy a Paris Museum Pass for discounts)

EXPLORE NEIGHBORHOODS

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Hands down the best part about Paris is the ability to walk and wander. Paris is THE best city to wander in & get lost. There are endless amounts of adorable cobblestone streets lined with coffee shops, unique boutiques, charming homes and restaurants.

  • Vendome & Madeline (1st/8th): These were our favorite areas to walk around & window shop. The streets are clean, beautiful & architecturally stunning. They’re exactly what you think of when you picture Paris in your head.
  • Le Marais (3rd/4th): Arguably the best area to stay, Le Marais is chalk full of galleries, gardens & gorgeous architecture. It’s hip, chic & the place to be. 
  • Latin Quarter (5th): A favorite evening spot to explore, we did a happy hour bar crawl here that was so much fun! Be sure to grab dinner & drinks here one night.
  • St Germain (6th): Another great neighborhood for grabbing lunch (it’s nearby quite a few main tourist spots), this area is full of cute streets filled with shops, stores & people.

EAT & DRINK

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Let’s get real. Paris is known for it’s fabulous wine, bread & cheese. It’s safe to say that we had all 3 of those delicious items at pretty much each meal. Whether it was croissants & cafe or croque monseuirs & frites or crepes & wine…we ate and drank it all. And I mean it ALL. Considering we walked 10+ miles each day, we didn’t feel bad about it at all. When in Paris, you must indulge!

(Tip: Take a lunch break and head to L’As du Fallafel. Located in Le Marais , this inexpensive falafel spot is incredible! Make sure you get a few pitas to split and try the green sauce…you can thank me later!)

CHILL OUT

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Truthfully, we arrived in Paris with minimal plans and it was perfect. We booked our bike tour ahead of time, but other than that we only really had a huge list of restaurants/shops/museums/attractions broken down by neighborhood (made things much easier).

While we saw a wide variety of spectacular sites, museums & shops, our favorite day was when headed to the Eiffel Tower with a blanket & some snacks. It was romantic, fun, relaxing & a wonderful memory that I can’t wait to repeat. I promise that if you just take a moment and soak it all in, Paris will quickly steal your heart.

Paris: I love you, I miss you, and I can guaran-damn-tee you that I will be back soon!

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5 things you must do in Amsterdam

If you read my 2017 travel goals post here, you’ll see that one of my favorite 2016 trips was 48 hours in Amsterdam! After spending 5 days in Paris, we hopped on a quick (3 hours to be exact) train ride over to Amsterdam. I’m telling you, trains are the way to go. We showed up at the station 30 minutes prior to departure, grabbed a coffee & a window seat and left the station. It was so peaceful to just put some earbuds in and watch the countryside pass us by. If you have time, make a pit stop in Bruges- we didn’t have time, but I hear it’s darling. So, we arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday afternoon (around 1:30pm) and left on Friday at 10am. Y’all…Amsterdam is TOTALLY possible to see in 48 hours. All you need is a double espresso & a plan. Let’s dive in…

5 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN AMSTERDAM

#1 Anne Frank Museum

I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time, online. We showed up at 9:15 for our 9:20 tour and walked right in. Truthfully, it had been so long since I’d learned about Anne Frank that I’d forgotten a lot of the details. Being inside the home she & her family hid in (for years!) and reading her diary was such a touching, emotional experience. Her story is truly amazing and the tour really gives you a detailed history lesson. We found it to be very profound. A must do.

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#2 Pancakes

When you’re done with the Anne Frank house (go in the morning to avoid the crowd), head over to the Pancake Bakery- a famous pancake house! This is what Amsterdam is known for, so how could we not go? We ordered a pancake & an omelet to share. Both were huge & delicious! The meal came with OJ, tea, toast & bacon, and our total was less than 25 Euro.

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#3 Ride a Bike

This is hands down the best way to get around Amsterdam. It’s a fun, quick, efficient way to get around the city, especially if you’re crunched for time. Our hotel (Andaz hotel – amazing hotel, location & service. Can’t recommend enough!) provided bikes to us and  we used them from 12pm-7pm and went all over the city (5+ miles). Careful though- it’s quite scary when you’re dodging cars, pedestrians, mopeds & other bikes.

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#4 Red Light District

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was really sketched out by going here. I had this horrible imagine in my head of what this would be like. We rode our bikes here during the day and it really wasn’t that bad. Would I spend hours hanging out here? Probably not. Would I walk around at night? Nope. But it’s one of those things that you have to go and see because you’re there. As expected, there are lots of sex shops and “coffee shops” but it’s fine to walk through once.

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#5 Heineken

Head over to check out the Heineken Experience…an experience is right! This is not your typical brewery. Plan to spend at least an hour or two here tasting beer, learning about the history, petting horses & hopping on a quick interactive ride. It’s such a fun place and totally worth going. If you’ve got time or want something more local, we also visited the less touristy, Brouwerij ‘t IJ- it’s on the southeast side of town in a more local area. Get a beer flight for 9 Euro and sit on the back patio full of picnic tables and shade trees. Also a very fun experience.

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Amsterdam Tips:

  • Stay in the canal district- it’s little quiet nook in the middle of a great area. You’re away from the touristy noise but have multiple restaurants & bars within 2 blocks.
  • If you need a fun dinner spot, check out Zazas ! I surprised Terry there with a birthday dinner and it was just perfect. They went above and beyond to recognize his day (I’m talking sparklers on cakes & complimentary champs and balloons).
  • Visit the Bulldog Coffee Shop – even if you don’t partake, it’s cool to see where this all started.

Who else has been to Amsterdam? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?

A Weekend in Sonoma

This dreary, wintery Boston weather has me dreaming of warmer days. I can’t believe it was only two and a half months ago that we were in 80 & sunny California, soaking in the sun & sipping on some wine. Take me back!

Now, I’m no wine expert, nor am I claiming to be; however, I do know a good atmosphere when I find one. We spent 3 days/2 nights in downtown Sonoma. (I can’t recommend staying at the Cottage Inn & Spa enough). Given that we visited multiple wineries, restaurants & store, I’m sharing a few of my favorites…

Restaurants

-THE GIRL & THE FIG-

The Girl & The Fig came so highly recommended that even with two weeks notice, we couldn’t get a reservation. After a little too much wine & a quick nap on day 2, we woke up at about 8:30 with a craving for a cozy, easy dinner. Damn, did this hit the spot.

We walked right in and sat at the bar (something I always recommend when you’re visiting a new town- the bartenders are friendly & local resources!). We ended up staying for over 2 hours, chatting away with the locals & having one of our best meals out there. The food is has a french flair, which I love. My veggie quiche was *to die for* and T’s steak frites were top notch. Seriously, go here- it’s adorable & cozy with some bomb ass food.

-EL DORADO KITCHEN-

Right across the street from Girl & The Fig, inside a hotel, is the El Dorado Kitchen. Don’t be fooled by the title, as this isn’t a local Mexican joint. Recommended by a major foodie friend of mine, I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. The first thing I noticed was the hip, cool vibe with the open concept bar/dining room and the huge wood burning pizza oven. The had low, funky music and it totally felt very NYC. Already loving it!

Our server was extremely friendly & helpful. Unfortunately, I had come down with the flu by this point in our trip so it was soup and water for me. Womp womp. The wine list was, of course, extensive & the menu even moreso. Terry got an incredible looking pork chop with apple compote and sauteed bok choy. He said it was the best pork chop he’s ever had. The sweet waiter then brought out a special dessert for our engagement, which I drooled over but let T devour, since I couldn’t taste much anyways. Did I mention how much it sucks to be sick on vacation? Luckily it was the last night and I had done my fair share of eating & drinking my way through California the previous 5 days.

Wineries

-GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU-

Gundlach Bundschu, or”Gun Bun” as the locals say, is a winery that we actually stumbled upon when Scribe had a ridiculous wait & a $100 tasting (enter eye roll, its not that cool). Being next door, we saw the sign as we passed by. Lucky for us that Scribe was being too-cool-for-school because we just LOVED gun bun! It was our only stop of the day (we arrived into town at about 4pm after driving up from Carmel) and couldn’t have been better.

Gun Bun has a large, casual tasting room with a curved bar area, making it super easy to chat with other people. Our wine tasting expert was very knowledgeable of history and really went above and beyond when giving us tastings. When we told him we just got engaged, he gave us two stemless wine glasses, an awesome cheese board & a bottle of white. Talk about amazing service!

We took our wine & cheese board outside to enjoy the sunset. They’ve got a very large, open patio area with about 10 picnic tables for patrons to enjoy the space. It overlooks a small lake and has string lights hanging all around. Really feels like you’re in a friends killer back yard. It was romantic, special & the perfect spot to end the day.

-MAURITSON-

Let me preface this by saying, we are friends with the Mauritson family so we got the super duper special treatment (in-credible)! Most people won’t stay for 4 hours to chat about life, sample endless wines & snack on tasty treats like we did. Go anyways.

The family story is incredible and the winery is really beautiful. In fact, we enjoyed the wine so much that we bought into the wine club! Their property is truly stunning, the red wine is delicious & the people are just the best. They truly made this experience one-of-a-kind.

-PASSALACQUA-

We stopped by Passalacqua right after Mauritson because it’s my future MIL’s favorite wine and we wanted to surprise her with a bottle for Christmas. (spoiler alert: she loved it!) They’ve got a gorgeous, sprawling property and we did our entire tasting outside on their large back deck. I love wineries like this that feel intimate & cozy. We sat back in our adirondack chairs, sipped on some whites and enjoyed the view. I’m so glad we popped in because this ended up being one of the most relaxing moments of the day.

-THREE STICKS-

Remember when I said that I recommend sitting at the bar to eat dinner and chat it up with the locals? This is exactly why. We met a local food & wine writer (hi, Sara!) who recommended that we stop by 3 sticks. Truth be told, we’d never heard of it, but we had a little extra time on Sunday morning before heading out of town. What. A. Find.

Three Sticks Winery is located within an unassuming adobe style home right past the downtown square. You’d easily walk past it thinking it’s someone’s private residence. Well, it is easily my dream home. The adobe was fully designed by an awesome interior designer Ken Fulk and has an eclectic, artsy vibe with decor of metals, wood & leather. It has, hands down, one of the best back yards I’ve ever seen.

{pics via 3 sticks website}

We called ahead and they snuck us in for a quick tasting. Their Pinot Noirs are out of this world (we bought 2 on the spot). If you’re ever in downtown Sonoma, go here!

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Well, that rounds up my Sonoma weekend list of places to visit. For our first trip there, I’d say it was a major success. I am dying to go back & need some more spots to add to my list.

What’s your favorite place in Sonoma?!