Weekenders

A Pampering "Pupcation" in Newport Beach

These days, a calendar packed with travel is bittersweet. Sweet, because we get to see more of this beautiful world we live in. Bitter, because it (usually) means we’re away from our pup. She’s our baby. Our “firstborn”. When we’re home, we take her everywhere, and when we’re gone, we spend hours scrolling through photos and videos of her on our phones. Yes, we know we’re obsessed.

We jump at any chance we get to bring Sally with us on our adventures, and we’ve gone as far as taking her to Canada and back with us. She LOVES traveling, and we love seeing the world through her cute little eyes. We’re hoping 2019 brings more Sally-friendly adventures - and it’s already off to a great start!

Since we’re mentally (and emotionally) preparing ourselves for a month without Sally, we decided the best thing to do is take her on a little “staycation”. Somewhere luxurious and dog friendly, somewhere all three of us can be pampered, and somewhere close to all of Sally’s favorites spots (the dog park, the beach, and Sprinkles cupcakes - pupcakes, hello!)... The Fashion Island Hotel!

Checking in at the Fashion Island Hotel

Nestled in the heart of Newport Beach, across the street from the iconic Fashion Island Shopping Center, is the Fashion Island Hotel. The decor is coastal-modern, it’s chic and elegant without feeling stuffy, and everyone that works there couldn’t be friendlier. From the moment we checked our car in with the valet, we knew we were staying someplace special. Sally was warmly welcomed by everyone - even the guests! And our ROOM. Let’s talk about our room.

We stayed in a Coastal View Corner Suite, which features a spacious living room, seperate bedroom, a furnished private patio, and a roomy marble bathroom. Plenty of space for all three of us, and an ocean view too! The neutral, beachy tones were warm and inviting, and the Fashion Island staff greeted us with one of the best cheese plates we’ve had in awhile. Did we just check into heaven?!

We spent the rest of our day enjoying the amenities of the hotel (a stylish pool area, a well appointed fitness room, the lavish Island Club Lounge), and took Sally for a walk around the Fashion Island shopping center. We ended the night with dinner at the Fashion Island Hotel’s on-site restaurant, Oak Grill. Their menu consists of fresh, local ingredients coupled with one of the most extensive wine lists in the area - they have over 50 wines by the glass! Those of you that are local, this is a great date night spot. Bobby had their signature Prime Rib Eye, and Alli had the Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, and both were spectacular. (Don’t worry - we gave the leftovers to Sally!)

Sally is always the first to claim the bed

Welcome treats!

Sally loves the Koi fish at Fashion Island

Cheers to sunsets from the Island Club Lounge!

Sunset views from the Island Club Lounge

Fashion Island views from the Island Club Lounge

Quinoa Garden Salad at Oak Grill

We woke up to the glorious Newport Beach sunrise… and what a sight it was! We’re pretty sure even Sally was in awe! We took our time getting up, took Sally on a leisurely walk around the property, and then made our way up to the 20th floor for breakfast at the Island Club Lounge*.

Honestly, we’re not sure what we loved more - the breakfast or the views! We stayed up there for several hours, taking advantage of the quiet work space and endless cups of coffee. When we got back to the room, we found Sally sleeping in our bed, and we couldn’t help but laugh. She appreciates a big, plush, hotel bed just as much as we do!

The Island Club Lounge comes with a great breakfast and these views!

This quick little trip away was exactly what all three of us needed. Everything about it was relaxing and easy, and we can’t wait to do it again. Maybe for Valentines Day? ;) The Fashion Island Hotel is running a special “Suite Love Package”, where guests can stay in a suite, enjoy $100 credit to Oak Grill, and a bottle of bubbly. Sounds like the perfect Valentine's Day getaway, don’t you think?

*When booking a room at The Fashion Island Hotel, you have the option to pay an extra fee for access to the Island Club - and we highly recommend it. There are so many perks and ammenities included - like continental breakfast, a nightly wine hour, snacks, soft drinks and coffee all day, nightly turndown service, and more. Learn more here.

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:

1. STAY AT CASA GALLINA:

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!

2. GO IN DECEMBER:

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.

3. VISIT THE PUEBLO:

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!

4. EAT EVERYTHING:

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!

5. DRINK A LOT OF COFFEE:

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!

6. EXPLORE

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!

7. SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY

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:

IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

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.

THE FOOD SCENE IS UP AND COMING.

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!

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THERE’S SO MUCH TOO DO!

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. 


IT’S DOG FRIENDLY

(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!

IT’S AFFORDABLE

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!)

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Fall-ing for New England: Boston, MA and Kennebunkport, ME

Friends. We found fall. Not the kind of fall we experience in Southern California, i.e. “iced” pumpkin spice lattes, “light jacket” weather, and approximately ten total trees changing color (and you have to hunt for them).

No, the kind of fall that we’ve only seen in Hallmark movies. Trees with bright yellow, red, and orange leaves, apple picking farms, and crisp, cold air. We’ve officially been ruined by fall in New England. Here’s what we did in the hopes you can experience it one day too…


BOSTON

Now, we were only in Boston for a total of 18 hours, but we did it well (and we’ll be back). We stayed at the Beacon Hill Hotel, located in the picturesque neighborhood of Beacon Hill. We LOVED this spot. You’re surrounded by brick buildings with cute shops and quaint restaurants, plus the Beacon Hill Hotel makes you feel like a local. There’s only 13 rooms, so it has a quaint, homey feel.

We ate dinner just a few doors down at Figs, a thin crust pizza bistro that’s equally cozy as it is good. Order the Red Sox pizza and a glass of Octoberfest beer, and you’ll thank us later. Follow that up with a drink on the rooftop (bundle up!) at the Beacon Hill Hotel, and you’ve got the makings for a perfect night in the city!

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel (get the breakfast sandwich), then ventured out to explore the city!

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First stop: Acorn Street

This is Boston’s most photographed street, and it’s steps from the Beacon Hill Hotel. Get there early (like we did) and you’ll bypass the crowds!

Next up, Walk the Freedom Trail!

Now, we didn’t walk the entire Freedom Trail - but we did walk a good portion of it! Take it to Paul Revere’s House and do a self-guided tour inside. It’s well worth the $5 admission to see what life was like back in his day, as Paul Revere himself was an incredibly fascinating guy. (Who oddly really resembles Jack Black!)

Right down the street from Paul Revere’s house is Mike’s Pastry, world famous for their cannolis and decadent baked goods. We had no self control and ordered numerous things - and they were all amazing. Especially the cookies.

We closed out our 18 hour Boston sprint with coffee at George Howell. Not only do they have great branding (something we’re suckers for), but they have fantastic coffee. The baristas are well-trained and serious about what they serve, and the quality proves it. If you go in the fall, be sure to try the Hot Buttered Cider!

MAINE

Just two hours from Boston is Kennebunkport, Maine - our final destination. The drive to Kennebunkport is sprinkled with gorgeous scenery, cute seaside towns, and what seems like an endless amount of lobster shacks. It’s every bit as dreamy as it sounds!

We stopped at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery for a lobster roll, fish chowder, and their famous “Fishwhich”. All of which were mouth-wateringly good. If you’re a seafood lover, this is your heaven.

  • Because of our late start out of Boston, we got there around 2pm and there was no line. From what we hear, lunch can be crazy - so take note!

Next stop was our “home” for the next three nights, the Inn at English Meadows.

This charming B&B completely changed how we view B&B’s (more on that here). It was the perfect blend of cozy and luxurious, and the hospitality and attention to detail that the Innkeeper Elizabeth showed us was unparalleled. We had the “Carriage House Suite” which included a living room, kitchenette, private balcony and walk-in closets. It was like our own private casita - and we can’t imagine staying anywhere else!

We walked to dinner at Old Vines Wine Bar, a welcoming little wine bar that specializes in tapas, wine, and specialty cocktails. Three of our favorite things! If you go, make sure to order the meatballs!

We woke up early the next morning to explore the town of Kennebunkport, and we were so glad we did. We basically had the town to ourselves! We grabbed coffee at Mornings in Paris and Dock Square Coffee House (yolo!) and oo-ed and awe-ed over the picturesque buildings and town square. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast back at our inn, and headed out for a drive!

We were on a mission to find the best fall foilage - and we figured the best way to do so was to explore the old country roads. Sure enough, we were quickly surrounded by colorful trees and farms that looked like they were out of a storybook! We embraced not having a set schedule, and stopped numerous times for photos, leaf frolicking, and...apple picking!

Located on Bridgetown Road, Five Fields Farm is an apple picking dream. They hand you a bag, explain the different varietals, and point you to the fields. The trees are dripping with the juiciest, crunchiest apples we’ve ever had, and picking them was SO much fun. This is a must-do if you’re in Maine in the fall!

We slowly meandered back to Kennebunkport, where we relaxed at our inn before going out for the night. We had drinks at a local favorite, The Pilot House, and then dinner at the newest (and coolest) restaurant in town, The Boathouse. We’re still dreaming about their lobster mac n’ cheese!

Our final day in Kennebunkport was spent exploring. We stopped at Snug Harbor Farm to pet their mini horses and walk around their stunning farm. And then we made our way to Ogunquit, where we walked the famous Marginal Way path along the ocean.

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Conveniently, it led us straight to Barnacle Billy’s, where we had the best Lobster Roll of our trip! (Make sure you order the rum punch, too.) We sat along the water and watched the sailboats pass through. The view, the weather, the lobster roll… it all was too good to be true!

The rest of our day was spent shopping in Kennebunkport and enjoying a leisurely happy hour at Stripers Waterside Restaurant. It was the perfect way to close out a perfect (and too short!) trip to New England. We can’t wait to return.

*Do you have a favorite spot that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know - we’re looking for reasons to return! ;)