Snow-cation's All I Ever Wanted - Exploring Madison Amidst the Polar Vortex

It’s February. It’s the time of year where many-a-people run from the cold and flock to somewhere warm. It’s the high season for tropical, beach-y destinations like Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, and Cabo.

Call us crazy (maybe it’s our rebellious side coming out), but we highly suggest doing the opposite.

Sure, mai tai’s on the beach sound great - but let’s be real. You’ll be fighting the crowds, and you’ll be paying a high premium to do so. We think tropical getaways are always better during the off-season, where prices are practically slashed in half, and your chances of having the beach all to yourself are significantly greater!

So this winter, we decided to head somewhere different. Somewhere snowy. Somewhere that’s up-and-coming, full of winter activities (both indoor and outdoor), culinary experiences, and that friendly, Midwest charm. We got two round-trip tickets to Madison, Wisconsin, packed our winter coats (and hand warmers), and prepared for some sub-freezing exploring.! Here’s what we did, and what YOU should do when you head that way!

Great photo opps in front of the Capitol building!


Have you ever ice skated on a frozen lagoon before? We hadn’t either! Tenney Park is something out of a storybook - with snow covered trees, picturesque bridges, and dozens of families skating across the lake. You can rent ice skates for only $6/hour, and you can warm up with a hot cup of cocoa at the warming center after you’re done. If you’re a seasoned skater or hockey player, bring your stick and slide into one of the pickup hockey games.

Tenney Park kisses


One of the most iconic streets in Madison is State Street, that runs from The Capitol Square to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. State Street has everything from fine dining to quirky boutiques, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, lively bars, and more. We found ourselves on State Street every day that we were in Madison - there was simply too much to see! Some of our favorite spots were Cask & Ale, Paul’s Book Store, August, The Soap Opera and Little Luxuries.

State Street views with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on the right

Having snow-much fun on State Street

Ready to warm up with a cocktail inside Cask & Ale

Our first Wisconsin-style Old Fashioned’s

University strolling in the snow

Exploring the University of Wisconsin


There’s no doubt that the craft beer scene is thriving in Madison. It’s “microbrew country”, as they like to say, with several fantastic tasting rooms and award-winning breweries. And we can’t think of a better way to spend a snowy day, then “hop-ping” (Get it?) around a few! There are breweries for any kind of beer fanatic - we took a liking to Ale Asylum, Karben 4, and ALT Brew.

Ale Asylum goods

Karben4 IPA time


Find yourself needing a warm escape from the cold air? Well, we’re happy to say that a tropical oasis DOES exist in the middle of the snow! While the Olbrich Botanical Gardens has over 16 acres of outdoor gardens, they also are home to the Bolz Conservatory - a warm and sunny escape from the oftentimes below freezing temperatures outside. There’s tropical plants, pretty birds, lakes with koi, and temperature in the conservatory is always kept between 65-95 degrees! And with admission at only $2/person, it’s an easy and affordable way to spend an afternoon! And don’t forget to brave the cold and walk around some of their gorgeous outdoor gardens… you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different land!

Looking for pretty birds

Found one!

Thai temples in Wisconsin? You bet!


We’ll take any excuse to have a spa day - and wintery weather is the perfect excuse! The Edgewater Madison is home to a luxurious, waterfront spa that’s cozy and welcoming and offers every kind of treatment one could want. If you’re heading there with your significant other, we highly recommend their signature Couples Massage. Complete your spa day with a glass of champagne, and a dip in the relaxation pool! Does it get anymore romantic than that?

Heading down to our massage


If we’ve convinced you to head to Madison, you’re in luck. February 8-18 is Madison Hotel Week, where you can find discounted room rates at some of the best hotels in the city! We stayed at The Edgewater Madison, and absolutely loved it. They’re offering a discounted rate of $125/night during Madison Hotel Week, which we think is a lovely time for a Valentine’s Day Getaway.

Views from our balcony. Can you see the “I Love U"?

Our balcony after the snowy evening :)

The staircase inside the Edgewater is beautiful!

Madison, Wisconsin blew us away. The friendly locals, the lively downtown, the stunning, snowy scenery… We loved every minute of it. And we can’t wait to return.

Why Aspen is a Dream for Skiers, Snowboarders, and "I Prefer to Stay Cozy-ers"

Aspen’s been on our bucket list for awhile now.

We’ve heard amazing things about the resorts, the restaurant scene, the famous ski slopes… and then recently we learned how extremely dog friendly it is. And that was all we needed to hear. We booked a trip that week. We made a road trip out of it, stopping in Tempe, Arizona and Taos, New Mexico, with our final destination being Aspen… and what a way to end the trip!! If you followed along on Instagram, you probably saw most of our Aspen adventures - but let us recap.

For the first two nights we stayed at The Limelight Hotel, right in the heart of downtown Aspen. This is our second Limelight location (the other being in Sun Valley), and it solidified our love for this hotel brand. Their rooms are spacious, their complimentary breakfasts are extensive and delicious (very important), and they are so dog friendly. Located directly across the street from the Limelight was the Wagner Park, where Sally could get her wiggles out and play with other furry friends. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location!

The Limelight Hotel Aspen decorated for Christmas!

Sally is always the first on the bed :)

The Limelight is SO dog friendly!

This was Sally’s first time playing in snow - and we spent the good majority of our first morning in Aspen mesmerized by her reaction to it (yep, we’re those people). It was so cute. She dug, she rolled, she licked, she LOVED. While we were freezing our booties off (It was maybe 3 degrees fahrenheit!!), homegirl couldn’t have cared less... She was made for this kind of weather! We did, however, buy her a sweater - mostly for the cuteness factor.

We split up for the rest of the day - Bobby snowboarded, and Alli went to the spa. AKA, the perfect day for both of us! ;)

Bobby here. Snowboarding in Aspen is was way better than I could have imagined. The first, and most important thing, is the crowd factor. It’s non-existent. There were never any lines for the lifts, and most of the time I was snowboarding relatively alone. Next, the mountains are HUGE. There are four mountains: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. I spent most of my time at Snowmass, but want to explore the others more on our next trip. The scenery is stunning, the runs are incredible, and in 4 days I barely carved the surface (hehe). Hopefully I’ll get Alli on a board next time.

Alli here now! The Spa at Viceroy Snowmass couldn’t have been more luxurious. This 7,000 square-foot spa has a wide selection of holistic spa treatments, a stunning relaxation lounge, and all of the amenities that one could wish. I had the Earth and Air Hot Stone Ritual, which was 90 minutes of soothing relaxation, and they ended it with tea, champagne and chocolates! I could’ve stayed here all day!!

We then met up for lunch at the top of Snowmass and to ride their newest attraction, the Breathtaker. And let’s just say the name is fitting! This thrill ride covers over a mile of terrain, zipping and zooming past trees at speeds of up to 28 mph! It’s crazy smooth, beautiful, and really cold. (If you ride it in the winter, bundle up!)

Nothing sounds better than a couple of hot toddies after being out in the snow, so we went back to the Limelight Hotel and had just that! Later that night, we dined at the iconic La Creperie du Village… a cozy French chalet that serves raclette, fondue, and scrumptious crepes. It was heavenly.

La Creperie du Village is as cozy as it gets!

The next two nights we stayed at The Little Nell, the only 5-star, 5-diamond Aspen hotel. Not only is the property breathtaking (We didn’t want to leave our room!), but their location at the base of Aspen Mountain is unparalleled. It’s ski-in, ski-out, so it was quick and easy for Bobby to hit the slopes. And they’re one of the most dog-friendly hotels we’ve stayed at! They serve a dog menu in their lobby (Sally dined on Wagyu beef - “ruff” life, huh?), they set your room up with a bed, bowls, treats, and more, and their bellmen will even take your pup on a walk! Did we just check into doggy HEAVEN?!

The Little Nell had treats for Sally!

We took the Aspen Mountain gondola up to lunch at the Sundeck, where we dined on burgers and stir-fry dishes from their wok station, followed by some warm Lavazza coffee.

While Bobby snowboarded for the rest of the afternoon, Alli explored downtown Aspen, shopping their quaint boutiques and wandering through the innovative and interactive Aspen Art Museum. We met up later in the evening for a “Garden Party” hosted by The Little Nell, to celebrate Relais Chateaux’s new book, “The Art of the Garden”. We sipped on cocktails and made friends that instantly felt like family… this little hotel is something very, very special.

Lunch at the Sundeck

Our last day in Aspen (insert cry face here) was spent dining at Element 47 for breakfast, Alli walking with Sally around the downtown, Bobby snowboarding, enjoying a hot lunch at Shlomo’s, playing on the slopes with Sally, enjoying a cocktail at the Marble Bar Aspen, and feasting at Ajax Tavern.

It was the perfect way to end a perfect trip. Aspen is one of those places that quickly feels like home. We expected it to feel more pretentious, but it wasn’t at all. Everyone is so friendly, welcoming, and eager to share about their love for this quaint mountain town. We can’t wait to come back.

Beautiful breakfast at Element 47

Drinks at the Marble Bar

Dinner at Ajax

Lunch at Shlomo’s

A Festive, Pup-Friendly Staycation in Surf City USA

Last week we spent a few days (a “staycation”, if you will) in a wintery, Christmas-y beach side town we love... Huntington Beach! Okay, so maybe it’s not thattt wintery, but it’s definitely a festive spot during the holiday season. Huntington Beach is a short 15 minute drive from our home, and a perfect destination to escape for a weekend and soak in the relaxing surf vibes. Staycations are our hassle-free way to appease that travel itch - and if you forget your toothbrush you can always go home!

Anyway - let’s talk about Huntington Beach. This surfer’s paradise has been termed “Surf City USA” and it’s easy to see why. The pristine, white, sandy beaches, the iconic lifeguard towers, the picture-perfect pier (complete with a bustling Ruby’s Diner).. it’s all like something out of a surf movie. The activities are endless, and with hip restaurants popping up left and right, it's quickly becoming a foodie's destination. It’s about as California as you can get - and we love it for that. We were there in mid-December, so an added bonus was all the holiday decor and sparkling lights around town. It was magical!

We stayed at the Shorebreak Resort, a Kimpton property just steps from the water. We partially chose it because of its proximity to the beach, and partially because of just how dog friendly and accommodating they are (there's no additional pet fee - insert praise hands). In typical Kimpton fashion, every need is met - even extra doggy items such as dog bowls, toys, beds, and more. Sally even made their VIP board!

For us humans (haha), they do an insane job of making your experience as special and memorable as possible. The Shorebreak has a nightly wine hour, complimentary s’mores (yes please!), bicycles to ride around town, even hot coffee and cold pizza (a true surfer’s breakfast) in the morning! You better believe Bobby had pizza for breakfast every. single. day. We also tried their on-site restaurant, Pacific Hideaway for dinner... and their Latin/Asian influenced cuisine blew us away! (Make sure you try the Samurai Old Fashioned and the Tea Pot Pork!) The real highlight of our stay was the picture-perfect view from our balcony. If it wasn't for all the things to do, see, and eat we might not have left! 

Nightly s’mores? Yes please!

Being on a "staycation" gave us the excuse to try some of the hot Huntington Beach restaurants we’d been hearing so much about! Tanner's (located at the Pasea hotel) has a stunning outdoor patio that has an ocean view and welcomes pups. And the FOOD! Alli likes to say that you can judge a restaurant based on how good their salmon is - and Tanner's has one of the best salmon entree's we've ever had. This just might be our new date spot. Located right on the beach is Sandy's Beach Shack, a fun and festive restaurant for lunch and dinner. Prices are affordable, the food is great, and they even have a dog menu! Order a Mai Tai and some fish tacos, and you'll feel as though you're in Hawaii! Milk and Honey is a fun little coffee shop just a short walk from The Shorebreak. They have light and healthy breakfast options, their coffee menu is extensive, and their grassy patio was a hit with Sally. Another great breakfast option is the pup-themed Sit Stay Cafe, with made-to-order coffee and bagels. You can even bring a framed picture of your dog to hang on their (very) full doggie-lined walls! We'll be back shortly with a photo of Sally. ;)

Sally trying to get a bite of Bobby’s burger at Tanner’s :)

Yummy dinner at Sandy’s

Sally begging for a bite of bagel at Sit Stay Cafe

It can sometimes be challenging to find things to do with Sally when we're on the road. Not the case here! We took her to the Huntington Beach Dog Beach daily, aka her favorite place in the world. She could dig, swim, and frolic around leash-free... and the look on her face says it all! The Pasea Hotel has a brand new dog park called PawSea, where she had the chance to run around and play with other pups, and we got a kick out of all the quirky little features. On Tuesday nights they have the Surf City Night's Weekly Street Fair, with live music, vendors, snacks, and more... and a good portion of it is dog-friendly! 

Lifeguard on duty at Paw-Sea :)

Our staycation may have only been for two days, but we packed a lot in, and we truly felt like we'd gone away. Bobby had a chance to surf (while Alli watched from our balcony), Sally got to play on the sand, and Alli got her foodie-fix. It was perfect. Whether you're a So Cal local like us, or in the market for a California getaway, we highly recommend a trip to Huntington Beach. We'll meet you for drinks at the Shorebreak. 

See our Huntington Beach guide HERE.

Our Love Affair with Taos

Where do we even begin?!

The rugged beauty, the friendly and eclectic locals, the vibrant history, the cozy inns… Taos, New Mexico stole our hearts. Walking through the downtown, exploring the Pueblo, watching the snowfall… it all felt like a movie. A movie we didn’t want to end!

If you’ve ever been, you’ll know what we’re talking about. And if you haven’t yet made it to Taos, please add it to your list. Right now.

Once you get there (preferably around Christmas time), here’s what you should do:


Have you ever stayed somewhere where you instantly felt at home? That’s Casa Gallina. Innkeeper Richard has done a phenomenal job with his rustic property - it’s that perfect mix of quaint and eclectic, and just about everywhere you turn is a photo opportunity. Spanish for “Hen House”, every morning we were greeted with fresh eggs (from the 40+ chickens they have on-site - hence the name), fresh coffee, baked goods, and even a frozen chicken treat for Sally! We’d sip on our coffee, whip up some eggs, and snuggle up by our fire. Our two-story casita (we stayed in the Bantam Roost) was so perfectly cozy we were tempted to never even leave the property! It’s THAT magical. Stay at Casa Gallina. Please. And bring us with you!


Don’t get us wrong - we’re anxious to experience Taos in another season, but the holiday season here is something special. Thanksgiving through December is “Yuletide in Taos” - a plethora of festive and unique New Mexican traditions and events. From yuletide caroling and tree lighting ceremonies to holiday fiestas and bonfires, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year in Taos!

We had a blast at the “Lighting of Ledoux”, where the historic street of Ledoux glows with the light of farolitos, luminarias, and bonfires. Local shops and galleries are open late, and locals and travelers alike are roasting marshmallows and swapping stories. It was beautiful.


Famous for being one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the country, the Taos Pueblo was built roughly 1,000 years ago. This historic (and tiny) village brings in tens of thousands of visitors each year, and it’s easy to see why. You feel as though you’re stepping back in time!

Built entirely out of adobe, over 100 Taos Indians still call the Pueblo home. $10 gives you access to the Pueblo, an informational walking tour (that we highly recommend), and the freedom to walk around and explore on your own. It’s incredible!


Ok, maybe not everything - but there’s a lot of good food in Taos! Whether you’re in the mood for something light and healthy, or you’re craving some hearty New Mexican cuisine, they’ve got it all. Here are a few of our favorite spots:

  • Orlando’s: New Mexican cuisine with a twist. This is what we consider to be the best place to try red and green chile. Our favorite was red!.

  • Lambert’s of Taos: Head straight up the stairs to their “Treehouse Bar”, where you can grab a seat with the locals and order off their bar menu (Which we prefer!). Nothing tastes better than their Flat Iron Steak and Mediterranean Plate after a long day of sightseeing!

  • Taos Cow: Located in Arroyo Seco, this ice cream shop has been named one of the best in the nation - and we have to agree. Try the Mexican Chocolate!

  • Parcht Bottleshop + Bites: We loved this little wine shop. The people are friendly and very knowledgeable when it comes to wine, and their cheese boards are top notch.

  • The Love Apple: This is the perfect date night spot. They serve local and organic food in a quaint and romantic setting. We’d go back to Taos just for this spot! Make a reservation in advance - and it’s cash only, so plan accordingly!

  • Manzanita Market: Cute, fresh and healthy - we stopped in this cafe numerous times for a snack or a breakfast sandwich.

  • Chokola Bean To Bar: Small batch, organic chocolates that are not only high in quality, but they’re also absolutely delicious. (And they’re happy to have you sample it.) If it’s cold outside, try their drinking chocolate!

Orlando’s for lunch!


If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we love good coffee. We’re happy to report that Taos’ coffee scene is strong. Literally and figuratively. Two of our favorite spots were Coffee Apothecary (the new hip spot in town) and World Cup Cafe (where the locals hang). Try them both and let us know what you think!


There’s SO much to see in this neck of the woods. Taos is filled with galleries, museums, shops, hiking trails, etc. Some of our favorite spots were places we randomly stumbled upon when we were exploring - so we encourage you to do the same! Earthship Biotecture (solar houses that you have to see to believe), The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (the second-highest bridge on the US Highway), Taos Mesa Brewing for a beer (the “Mothership” location is on the way to the gorge), and the Millicent Rogers Museum (filled with fascinating exhibits on the American Southwest) are just a few spots that shouldn’t be missed. We also loved walking around the neighboring town of Arroyo Seco, sprinkled with eclectic shops and cafes!


Life moves at a slower pace in Taos… and we love it for that. Pack a good book, take a midday nap, practice yoga, and watch the sun set over the mountains. We’re typically “on the go” people when we travel, but that wasn’t the case here. We rested. We ate. We saw a lot - but we also relaxed. We found balance in doing both.

If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, this is your spot. We have a feeling it just might be our new yearly tradition.

Tempe-ted To Never Leave!

Tempe, AZ is a city we knew relatively little about. We knew it was a college town, and had heard from friends that it’s a “foodie” city (reason enough to plan a visit) - but that’s about it! As we started planning our road trip up to Colorado, we figured this was the perfect opportunity to explore Tempe… and we LOVED IT!

Here’s why:


Tempe is STUNNING - just look at the view from our room! The rolling hills, the colorful foliage, the rustic, desert terrain… photos don’t do this place justice. Our first morning in Tempe, we hiked the Kiwani’s trail to Dobbins Lookout in South Mountain Park - and the views were jaw-dropping. Even our dog Sally was in awe!! At least, she looked like it ;)

While we’re on the topic of jaw dropping-beauty, let’s talk about the sunsets in Tempe. They’re unreal. Both nights we were there we witnessed some of the most vibrantly colorful sunsets our eyes have seen in a long time. We recommend heading to the Mill Avenue Bridge and catching the sunset over the Tempe Town Lake. Only way it could get better if you’re on a boat during the sunset. We’ll make that a goal for next time.


You can tell a lot about a destination by the food. What we learned from Tempe’s foodie scene is that it’s just getting started. There are so many new, unique and notable restaurants popping up in Tempe that it honestly overwhelmed us. We needed to stay at least five more days to eat at all the spots we read about! A few of the places we DID get to check out are:

  • Pedal Haus Brewery: If you love a good brewery, you’ll love this spot. Solid beers, a killer happy hour, and a hummus plate we’re STILL raving about. (If anyone knows their recipe, please share.)

  • Postino Annex: A hip wine bar with incredible bruschetta, paninis, and (of course) wine. You’ll likely find us here!

  • Culinary Dropout: Creative cocktails, delicious gastro-pub fare (get the pretzel bites!), and a variety of lawn games. Culinary Dropout is a great spot to not only dine, but hang out for the whole afternoon!

  • Morning Squeeze: Fresh, hearty and delicious breakfast spot. Their menu is extensive (almost too much to choose from!!) and their servers are SO friendly. Plus they have a dog menu. Any place that has a dog menu is basically a winner to us.

  • Cartel Coffee Lab: Some of the best coffee we’ve had in awhile. Get an oat milk latte with a little honey and your life will be changed. (Or be like Bobby and get a pour over - simple and smooth.)

  • First Watch: This breakfast and lunch spot has it all - but what we really love there is their green juice. It’s so tasty you’ll forget just how healthy and packed with nutrients it really is!



We thought we had lucky timing when we planned our trip to Tempe. There was a plethora of events and things going on in and around the city - but we later learned that’s normal here! No matter the time of year, there’s something fun to do, see, and explore. There’s great shopping, headlining shows, beautiful trails… However - if you’re planning on coming next November/December, here are two things you need to make sure are on your list:

  • Desert Botanical Garden: Open year-round, this is a botanical garden that is thoughtfully curated with a spectacular living art collection. If you happen to be there between now and mid-2019, you MUST come at night to visit the ‘Electric Desert’. The light show uses three-dimensional projection mapping to wrap animations around the cacti and other plants, simulating motion. It is mind-blowing! It feels as if you are walking in a dream, or hallucinating. Go, and thank us later!

  • Tempe Festival of the Arts: This is only the largest craft show in the nation (no big deal). There are over 375 vendors, live music, and all kinds of food and drink options. This festival is an all-day affair, and takes place along Mill Avenue, one of the main streets in Tempe. It’s a HOOT! It’s the perfect place to Christmas shop, make new friends, and sip on small-batch peppermint hot cocoa. 


(Sally approves this message) We were honestly so impressed by how dog friendly Tempe is. Whether we were walking to coffee, hiking up South Mountain, or grabbing breakfast at Morning Squeeze, Sally was welcomed with open arms. Literally - everyone wanted to pet her!! Since we can’t always take Sally with us on our adventures, we really appreciate when we can. And we really appreciate a hotel that goes above and beyond for their four-footed friends. The Graduate Hotel Tempe did just that. She even got a Bark Box when we checked in!


Something that’s really important to us, especially when we’re planning weekend getaways, is the affordability factor. We don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a 48-hour trip. We’re happy to report that Tempe is as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes! There are a lot of activities you can do that are FREE, hotel rooms are moderately priced, and there are a ton of fun, casual restaurants that won’t break the bank. 

All in all, go to Tempe. You’re bound to have a blast. You might even be Tempe-ted to move. ;) (And keep your eyes peeled for a Tempe guide - we’ll have it up soon!)