USA

Quick Southwest Road Trip: Exploring Horseshoe Bend and Zion National Park

Since our big “Month Long Roadtripping Extravaganza”, we’ve been itching for an excuse to get back on the open road. After stumbling upon some photos and doing some research, we decided to do a last-minute trip to Page, Arizona and Zion National Park. The amount of natural beauty and grand landscapes that we saw in four days still has us shaking our heads in awe… this trip was life-giving to us in so many ways, and it’s SO DOABLE. Here’s what we did!

Let’s start with Page, Arizona.

You’ve probably never heard of this little town before, but bear with us. It’s located next to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, and countless hikes and areas to explore. It’s an affordable town to stay in, and it’s incredibly close to all of the action. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell, and it was great. Big, clean rooms, hearty breakfasts, stunning views, and a helpful staff. We highly recommend it!

From there you’re just a quick ten minute drive to Horseshoe Bend, and we recommend going early, especially in high season. (Expect crowds year-round, but November-February are generally considered to be slower.) It’s a good 20 minute hike from the parking lot, so be sure to wear good shoes and bring water. And brace yourself for…


THE VIEWS!!


Words don’t do this place justice - so we’ll let the photos do the talking. We happened to be there during some pretty intense rainstorms… We did see some sun break through for an hour (WOO!), but we definitely were soaking wet by the end!

Now because of the rainy weather, we weren’t able to explore Antelope Canyon on this trip, which we were definitely bummed about. (Keep that in mind when planning your trip: rain = mud and/or flash floods, and if it’s muddy they close the canyons!) But we made the best of it and explored other spots - including the Glen Canyon Dam and lookout points. All incredibly breathtaking - especially if you’re scared of heights like we are!!


TIP: We think two nights in Page is perfect. That gives you ample time to see the sights, hike around, and explore. Beyond that there isn’t a whole lot to do there, and dining options are pretty limited. Pack snacks!

Zion National Park

Just two hours northwest of Page, Arizona is Zion National Park - and it just might be our favorite national park yet. We spent the last two nights of our trip at the Cliffrose Lodge, located just steps from the entrance to the park. Not only was the location phenomenal, but the newly remodeled rooms were gorgeous, and the mountain views from our balcony left us in awe. We couldn’t have picked a better place to stay!

There are several stunning hikes in and around Zion National Park, but the big “bucketlist” one for us was “The Narrows”. It’s anything but a typical hike - as you squeeze through slot canyons and wade through a river… and it was absolutely the highlight of our trip!

Things to know:

  • Rent equipment. We went when the water (and air!) was cold, so we rented waterproof pants along with boots and a walking stick. In the summertime, all you need are good water shoes and a walking stick. You might even find yourself jumping all the way in!

  • Go early. We left on the first shuttle bus at 7am (it’s only accessible by shuttle), and it was perfect. We almost always had the hike to ourselves!! But on our way back it quickly became a zoo, as it’s one of the most popular hikes in Zion. The earlier you go, the better chance you have at avoiding crowds.

  • Pack water & snacks. No matter how you do it, it’s a long hike. Plan on being gone at least five or six hours, so plan accordingly. We brought a big canteen of water and some Clif Bars to hold us over, and that was perfect.

  • Make sure you go to the bathroom. Like we said, it’s a long hike. And there’s no porta potties or rest stops along the way! There’s a bathroom where the shuttle first drops you off - so take advantage of it. ;)

Our time in Zion was limited. Unlike Page, two nights definitely wasn’t enough for all that we wanted to see and do! We recommend going for at least three nights, so you have enough time to hike, drive, and explore. Oh, and the dining options are great. Some of our favorites were Zion Pizza and Noodle Co, Thai Sapa, and Oscars Cafe!

This road trip was quick, and had a fair share of “bumps” in the road - but it’s one of our favorite ones we’ve done yet. We can’t wait to get back to Page and explore Antelope Canyon, and adventure through Zion National Park again… and maybe even bring our pup next time!

24 Hours in Kansas City

Blitzing through Kansas City for a weekend can be overwhelming. The options are unlimited when it comes to what to eat, see, and do… Narrowing it all down can be impossible!! But don’t fret - we’ve compiled a 24 hour itinerary of our favorite KC spots that will keep you buzzed, full, and entertained. Be warned… following this itinerary will have you longing to come right back to KC!

9:00AM: COFFEE & A BOWL OF CEREAL AT THOU MAYEST

What better way to start your day then at hip coffee shop with a full-blown cereal bar?! $5 at Thou Mayest will get you a hot cup of coffee and a hefty bowl of Kix (or Froot Loops, Captain Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats… heck, they’ll even mix them all together for you if that’s your style)!

10:00AM: TOUR THE NELSON-ATKINS

Fine art, iconic architecture, and free admission… The Nelson-Atkins Museum is one of the best in the country. Not only do they feature a strong collection of Impressionist paintings (Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet), they’re also famous for their extensive Japanese collection of art. It contains more than 2,000 pieces ranging from the 7th century C.E. to the early 20th century! And don’t miss the gigantic shuttlecocks outside the building!

IMG_4486.jpg

1:00PM LUNCH AT JOE’S KANSAS CITY BBQ

You can’t go to Kansas City without experiencing Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. This world-famous BBQ joint is known for its ribs, “Z-man” sandwich, brisket, and more. Oh, and did we mention that it’s in a gas station!? Get here early, as this place has a cult following - and the line can take awhile! (But trust us - it’s worth it.)

DSCF3805.jpg

2:00PM SHOPPING & BREWERIES IN THE CROSSROADS

The Crossroads is one of our favorite areas in Kansas City. It’s filled with craft breweries, eclectic shops, and tons of tasty spots to eat. We suggest spending your afternoon here, shopping, drinking, and maybe even striking a pose or two by one of the dozens of murals! Four spots you should check out are, Casual Animal, Brewery EmperialEast + West and Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

DSCF3786.jpg

6:30PM DINNER & DRINKS AT THE RIEGER

Since 1915, The Rieger has been a Kansas City institution. Once a hotel, it’s now one of the best restaurants in the city. The food is hearty and innovative and the cocktails are strong. Speaking of cocktails, make sure you book a table at Manifesto, the speakeasy in the basement of the Rieger (Sorry, no photos of the speakeasy. They ask you keep your phones away in this epic bar!).  

10:30PM JAZZ AT THE GREEN LADY LOUNGE

There’s no doubt that the jazz scene in Kansas City is alive, thriving, and growing. Everyone we asked would tell us that the best place to catch a jazz performance is at the historic Green Lady Lounge. They’re open seven days a week, and you’ll never have to pay a cover charge. Obsessed yet? Wait until you get there. The decor inside will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, and the music will have you bee-bopping in your seat!

10:00AM BRUNCH AT THE CLASSIC CUP

End your 24 hour tour through Kansas City with brunch at The Classic Cup. They’re a local favorite, and for good reason - their food is good. Bobby’s still dreaming about their egg sandwich! Need to walk off your brunch? Check out Made In KCBaldwin, and Charlie Hustle!

There you have it. 24 hours in our new favorite city. We guarantee that by the end of your sprint through KC, you’ll love it just as much as we do!

Something is "Brewing" in Kansas City...

Attention beer drinkers! From casual sippers to aficionados, Kansas City needs to be on your radar. Many people are surprised to hear that their craft brewery scene is hopping (get it?) - and getting bigger! The creativity, attention to detail, and infectious pride in their city and in their craft, makes this a really special and unique hub for craft beer. So, next time you’re in Kansas City, take our advice and go on a “Tap Tour”! Here are the places that you shouldn’t miss:


BREWERY EMPERIAL

Colorful and eclectic, we liked Brewery Emperial as soon as we walked in. Their master brewer Keith has spent his career in great beer establishments, and this brewery has been his dream. Emperial is a place that attracts foodies, beer-ies (is that a thing?), hipsters, or anybody just seeking supreme quality food, beer, and atmosphere. You’ll feel right at home, and your tastebuds will thank you!

CASUAL ANIMAL

“Laid back beers that tap into your wild side” is Casual Animal’s motto… and we couldn’t love it more. Maybe it’s because their beer was incredible (Bobby got a pale ale or 2, and Alli got a yummy cider), or maybe it’s because they have animal masks that you can wear. Between the beers, the masks, and the free shuffle board, we had a great time at Casual Animal! Definitely a must-stop on a tap tour!


BOULEVARD BREWING COMPANY

The largest specialty craft beer brewer in the Midwest, Boulevard Brewing Company is definitely the most well-known brewery in Kansas City. Typically that would deter us from going, but this place is something special. 

It’s two levels of entertainment, the first being an “experience area” where you can learn about the history of boulevard and their approach to making beer. The second floor is a 10,000 square foot beer hall, complete with 24 beers on draft, a full menu, views of the city, and an interactive photo booth that we DEFINITELY took advantage of.

As with our first two spots, the beers were great. We definitely blitzed through on this trip, and plan on spending a lot more time at Boulevard on our next tour of KC. They have so many beers to try!

IMG_4366.jpg

Have time for more? We’ve yet to try Border Brewing CompanyDouble Shift Brewing Company, and Torn Label Brewing Company, but we’ve heard great things. All of these are located in the Crossroads area, making them a walkable distance from each other. 

Lastly, we can’t forget to mention one of our absolute favorite places to grab a beer in Kansas City, Bar K Dog Bar. Now, this isn't a brewery, but they DO serve beer, and the concept is absolutely incredible. It's a dog park, restaurant, bar, and coffeehouse - all in one! You can have a drink, hang with friends, and watch as your pups frolic through their MASSIVE dog park. There's even a groomer on-sight to clean up your dog before you leave! Is this not genius or WHAT?!

Try as many of these spots as you can “beer” (too much?). And let us know what you think! We’re “hopping” for an excuse to come back (we think we’re funny).

Kansas City Should Be On Your Radar... Here's Why.

Every once and awhile a destination takes us by surprise. As we travel more throughout the US, we’re learning that the touristy, over-hyped cities and states aren’t always the coolest. Sure, NYC has a never-ending amount of amazing restaurants and the beaches in Maui are some of the best in the world… but everyone knows that. The word is out on those spots, and the prices for flights, hotels, and experiences reflect the tourism demands. 


So what about the real hidden gems, the up-and-coming cities that haven’t become touristy or overcrowded yet? Those are what we’re after. These gems of cities are sprinkled all over our great country - and the first one on our list is Kansas City. Here’s why:


KC IS AFFORDABLE & ACCESSIBLE

Until recently, Kansas City has always been considered a “flyover city” - not necessarily a travel destination. Over the past couple of years they’ve worked hard to change that - and they’ve done a KILLER job. You’ll pay significantly less than other metropolitan cities, and chances are you’ll like it even better. Parking is easy, traffic is (usually) light, and the city is a breeze to navigate. 


From stylish boutique hotels (stay at The Fontaine. We guarantee you’ll love it.), to free public transportation (the KC Streetcar was our favorite way to get around!), and shopping and dining options to fit everyone’s budget, Kansas City has it all. Which brings us to…

IT’S A FOODIE CITY

Oh, the food in Kansas City. 

We should probably write a whole blog just about what we ate while we were there! When you think of Kansas City, chances are you think of BBQ. And rightfully so, there’s over 100 BBQ spots in the city - with new options popping up frequently. Two of our favorites are Joe’s and Q39. Joe’s is arguably the most iconic, as it’s located in a gas station, and its no-frills, hearty portions, and friendly staff brings in thousands of customers daily. Q39 is a little nicer than Joe’s, and takes reservations - which is always a plus in busy seasons. While we love the vibe of Joe’s, we’ll go out on a limb and say that the BBQ might be just a liiiiittle better at Q39 (we’ll probably offend some people)… Try both and let us know what you think. ;)

Although the BBQ was unforgettable (burnt ends were life-changing), we have to point out that there is SO MUCH MORE than BBQ here… There’s coffee shops that would put Portland to shame. Messenger Coffee (trendy vibe, insane baked goods) and Thou Mayest (they have a cereal bar… need we say more?) are two that can’t be missed. 

Other restaurants we loved were The Jacobsen (their burger is one of the best in KC), The Reiger (fresh and innovative Italian cuisine), and The Parker (located on the rooftop of The Fontaine, with the best views and cornbread in town)!

And finally, if sweets are your thing (and if they aren’t, we’re worried about you), Betty Rae’s Ice Cream will have you in tears of joy. Alli had a scoop of Cereal Milk ice cream at approximately 11am one day, because cereal + milk = breakfast. Totally acceptable. 

You’ll also want to hit up Christopher Elbow, Kansas City’s premier chocolatier. Their chocolates look like pieces of art, and they taste EVEN BETTER than they look. Trust us - we ate more than we should have!

ARTS, CULTURE, AND HISTORY… OH MY!

The creative arts scene in Kansas City is thriving - it’s sophisticated, eclectic, and brimming with history and tradition. They have some of the best museums in the country - many with world-famous art! The Nelson-Atkins Museum features several famous Monet’s, Van Gogh’s, and more.. and even the architecture of the building is incredible. Some of our favorite pieces of art were the giant shuttlecocks, strategically placed on both sides of the museum - making the whole property look like a badminton court, with the building being the net. Totally random, and totally cool. 

Next time we’re in Kansas City we’re excited to tour the National World War One Museum and Memorial, the Arabia Steamboat Museum, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum! We definitely couldn’t do it all in 4 days…

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the stunning Kauffman Center to see the Kansas City Symphony. Words can’t describe how absolutely breathtaking the Kauffman Center is. The whimsical architecture and perfect acoustics make you feel as though you’re in a dream. We danced in our chairs to Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Symphonic Dances, and marveled at the sheer talent of the musicians. It truly was the ultimate date night.

JAZZ BARS & SPEAKEASIES 

While we’re on the topic of date nights, let’s talk about the Kansas City night life. 

Did you know that Kansas City is famous for jazz? New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz, but KC locals like to say that jazz “grew up in Kansas City”. There are several epic jazz bars in downtown KC, but our favorite, hands down, was The Green Lady Lounge. Totally unassuming, you’d easily walk past the entrance and never give it a second thought. But the moment you walk in, it’s as though you’ve stepped into a different world… The lights are dim, the decor is elegant, and the music is grooving - every night of the week!! Oh, and did we mention it’s FREE? (Just be sure to buy a drink or two!)

While we were tempted to spend EVERY night at The Green Lady, we spent time exploring other KC local hotspots - like the Tikicat. An underground tiki bar that serves Aloha vibes and tropical drinks, the Tikicat is probably not the kind of bar you’d expect to find in the heart of the midwest… and that’s exactly what makes it awesome. We were smiling from ear-to-ear the entire time we were there! 

We have this thing for speakeasies. There’s something about discovering a “secret” bar - it just makes us feel instantly cool. And one of the best speakeasies we’ve been to thus far is in Kansas City. Manifesto is located in the basement of the Rieger, that was originally a hotel built in the early 1900’s. It was ran as a speakeasy during prohibition - and was even frequented by Al Capone! Needless to say, this place is the real deal. And their award-winning cocktails, cozy atmosphere, and friendly bartenders have only elevated this historic little bar.

“Flyover city”? More like FLY-TO city! We honestly can’t wait to get back to Kansas City - our list of places to eat, things to do, and sights to see next time we’re there keeps growing… and we have a feeling this city is going to continue to evolve in new and exciting ways. Take our advice and experience it before word gets out. ;

Adventuring (and Eating) our Way Through the Black Hills

Nestled in the west of South Dakota are the Black Hills, a small mountain range rising from the Great Plains that’s quickly becoming one of our favorite places to explore. More than the stunning landscapes and friendly locals, the Black Hills boast an array of adventuring opportunities AND charming local spots to quench your thirst or satisfy your cravings. (Because let’s be real, we live for experiences, but we equally live for our next meal. #Foodielife) Here’s a little recap from our most recent trip to the Black Hills!


BIKING ALONG THE MICKELSON TRAIL

What once was a railroad, The Mickelson Trail is over 100 miles of breathtaking scenery and gentle slopes, passing right through the heart of the Black Hills. No matter where you enter the trail you’re bound to have a blast, but we recommend renting bikes at Rabbit Bicycle in Hill City and riding north. We went a few miles, got hungry for lunch (like we said - live to eat), and pulled a quick u-turn back. We passed through tunnels, rolling hills, tree-lined paths, and the cutest little log cabins. It’s the perfect way to start your morning! (Just don’t forget to pay the $4 entrance fee!)


LUNCH & WINE TASTING AT PRAIRIE BERRY

The famous Prairie Berry Winery is a must when you’re in the Black Hills. Family owned and operated, they’ve been making South Dakota wines since 1876. Many of their “untraditional” wines are made out of fruit, like “Red Ass Rhubarb”, but they do carry traditional varietals like Chenin Blanc and Meritage. Beyond their wines, the kitchen at Prairie Berry is EXCELLENT. Homemade soups, sandwiches, flatbreads, loaded salads… they have something for everyone. Everything is fresh and everything is delicious. (And don’t forget to join in on the free wine tasting after lunch!)

KAYAKING ON THE PACTOLA LAKE

Some of our favorite lakes are nestled in The Black Hills. The combination of crystal clear water with sprawling green hills makes them incredibly picturesque and peaceful. We went kayaking on Pactola lake on a day that was overcast, and it was still beautiful. Whether you rent kayaks for a couple hours or for a whole day, there’s so much to see and explore along Pactola lake. Next time we’ll pack a picnic and find a spot on the shore to stop and eat!

DINNER AT THE ALPINE INN

Located in downtown Hill City, the Alpine Inn is a historical landmark that possesses one of the best steak dinners in the area - for under $12! You read that right - it just might be the best deal in town! Word is definitely out about this iconic place, but don’t let the crowds scare you away, the wait goes quickly. Have a drink (or two!) in the adjoining bar until your name is called, and you’ll be diving into your bacon-wrapped filet in no time. Note to the picky eaters - there are only two things on the menu for dinner… steak and potatoes or German dumplings and veggies. Make sure to leave room for dessert, because there’s definitely more than 2 options (Probably 20+ dessert items!). If you need help, their peanut butter pie is life changing. (Also, the Alpine Inn is cash only, so plan accordingly!) 

HOT AIR BALLOONING WITH BLACK HILLS BALLOONS

Name a better way to see a place than by hot air ballooning - we’ll wait. The team at Black Hills Balloons makes the entire trip a breeze (literally), and the view from the balloon is jaw-droopingly beautiful. Once landed, you drink mimosas and snack on cheese and crackers with your new-found friends. It was definitely the highlight of our trip!

LUNCH AT BLACK HILLS BURGER AND BUN

We’re self proclaimed “burger-holics”. No matter where we’re traveling, we try to find the best burger in that area. It’s just what we do. Black Hills Burger and Bun in Custer came highly recommended by several of our followers, and… wow. It may be some of the best burgers we’ve ever had. Ever. It’s something about the homemade buns, juicy burger, fresh toppings and sauce that’s honest-to-goodness perfection on a plate. It’s worth a drive to Custer just to try these mouth-watering burgers. They’re that good.

HORSE BACK RIDING THROUGH BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST

Whoa Nelly, this was fun! The team at Rockin’ R Trail Rides are total rockstars, making even the most city-type folk feel comfortable in a saddle. We embarked on a two-hour ride through the picturesque Black Hills National Forest. We learned about the surrounding foliage, rode past deer-filled meadows, and scaled rocky mountains with ease… it was perfect. We now want horses. Anyone have a stable we can use?

DINNER AT SKOGEN KITCHEN

Not only is this the cutest, most stylish restaurant in all of the Black Hills, it is also the best. Skogen Kitchen has only been open for a little over a year, but already they’ve won recognition as the best restaurant in all of South Dakota - and it’s easy to see why. Their food is fresh, thoughtful, and flavor-filled. It’s the kind of restaurant where we consciously eat as slow as possible, to make every bite last… It’s that good. Make reservations, as it fills up quick!

While we blitzed around seeing and eating as much as we could, what’s pulling us back is that there is still so much more! If you have any suggestions about spots we should explore on our next trip, leave a comment! We can’t wait to go back.