Weekender

THROWBACK THURSDAY :: Take Us Back To Carmel, CA!

There are certain places that we crave.

Yep, that’s right. Just like we crave a good In-N-Out burger after a long trip, we crave the return to some of our favorite tried-and-true spots. The places that we know like the back of our hand, the places where we can truly relax. One such spot, Carmel-By-The-Sea, is at the top of that list. Not only did we “mini-moon” in Carmel, but we’ve made it a point to return yearly - even with our pup in tow!

The beach at Carmel is one of Sally’s absolute favorites!

So in real #TBT fashion, we thought we’d share exactly why we love Carmel-By-The-Sea, and where we stay, where we eat, and what we do if we were there right now. Because if we can’t be there today, we might as well reminisce...

STAY:

LA PLAYA: This charming, historic hotel is where we stayed when we were on our “mini-moon”, and we keep coming back. Maybe it’s the central location (blocks from the beach and blocks from the town), maybe it’s the cozy lobby and spacious rooms, or maybe it’s the champagne breakfast every morning… Regardless, it’s a gem of a spot. And remarkably enough, it seems to get better with age.

HOTEL CARMEL: New on the Carmel “boutique hotel” scene, this snug and homey  hotel has quickly become a favorite of ours. The rooms have fireplaces, there’s a nightly wine reception, the fire pit is warm and inviting, and nothing beats breakfast in their cheerful little lobby. Plus, they’re dog friendly - which is always a big plus for us!

We Mini-mooned here… and try to come back every year

Love waking up to this view at La Playa

Sally approves

More La Playa room views

The breakfast at La Playa is everything

Could Hotel Carmel be any cozier?

Fireplaces inside and out…

Cozy porches for your morning coffee

EAT:

LA BALENA: We came here on our honeymoon, and ever since then we’ve been obsessed! Delicious homemade Italian food in a hidden courtyard, it’s delightfully tucked away from other touristy options in Carmel.

LA BICYCLETTE: In our opinion, you can’t go to Carmel without dining at La Bicyclette. It’s simply a must. From their made-to-order pizzas to their homemade pasta, everything is fresh and full of flavor. The ambiance is intimate and romantic, and there’s no doubt that you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to Paris.

You can’t go wrong at La Balena

DRINK:

GRASINGS BAR: This is another spot that we first went to on our honeymoon, and have made it a point to stop here ever since! Their cocktails are second to none, and their charcuterie board is out of this world!!! But try to get here early - this quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea bar does have a tendency to fill up quick!

THE INN AT SPANISH BAY: Located on the iconic 17 Mile Drive, the Inn At Spanish Bay is well-known for their stunning ocean front views, and their nightly visit from a bagpiper! Grab a drink at STICKS, their outdoor bar, and wait for the sun to set… Before you know it you’ll start to hear the majestic sounds of a bagpiper. It’s quite the experience - and something we look forward to everytime we visit Carmel!

Grasing’s is magical!

Always bustling inside Grasing’s

Yummy appetizers at Grasing’s before dinner

Cocktails and a sunset… best end to the day at the Inn at Spanish Bay

Epic sunsets and Scottish tunes at the Inn at Spanish Bay

DO:

THE 17 MILE DRIVE: One of our favorite drives in the world (along with Highway 1) is the 17 Mile Drive… It’s full of captivating landscapes, jaw-dropping ocean views, and award-winning golf courses - so what’s not to love?! We recommend starting the drive in the afternoon and catching the sunset at The Inn at Spanish Bay (see above)!

BEACH IT UP! Pop by The Cheese Shop (a legendary little shop chalk-full of mouth-watering cheeses, wines, crackers and more), grab what you want for a picnic, and head to the beach. If you have your pup with you (like we often do), let them play off-leash while you enjoy your snacks and the cool, ocean breeze. It’s heavenly. Now we’ll mentally be there the rest of the day… ;)

One of our favorite spots on the 17 Mile Drive (you may need a helicopter to see this)

We all love the beach here :)

48 Hours in Louisville

When you think of Louisville, Kentucky, chances are you think of the world famous Kentucky Derby. This legendary horse race run at Churchill Downs has put this town on the map, but it’s just one of their many attractions. Louisville is home to incredible culture, museums, restaurants, distilleries, and so much more. While you could easily spend a week in this booming town, 48 hours is enough time to be charmed and dazzled - and leave wanting more.

Here’s what we think you should do, if you only have the weekend in Louisville:

FRIDAY

EVENING

Kick off your weekend with dinner at Neighborhood Services, one of Louisville's newest culinary hot spots. They take a modern twist on old Kentucky favorites, like “Hot Brown Tots”, “BBQ’d Shrimp & Cheddar Grits”, and their signature “NHS Fried Chicken Sandwich”. Wash it all down with some Kentucky Bourbon or one of their house cocktails (we loved the Barrel Aged Old Fashioned), and you’re off to a great start!

If you’re in the mood for another drink, walk a couple blocks down to the Haymarket Whiskey Bar, where you’ll find one of the most extensive whiskey lists in town (nearly 400 whiskeys, and 250 bourbons)! Set in a building that dates back to 1885, this lively bar is a favorite among locals, and has been named a top whiskey bar by Thrillist and Travel + Leisure.

STAY

Located in the heart of the downtown, Omni Louisville is our pick for a central and stylish place to stay. From the grand and opulent lobby of this 612-room luxury hotel, to the spacious rooms and stunning rooftop pool, it’s an urban oasis. Not to mention they’re home to some incredible restaurants (including Neighborhood Services) and even a speakeasy bowling alley (but we’ll share more about that later)!

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SATURDAY

MORNING

Louisville knows good coffee, and one of the best spots in town for a strong cappuccino or oat milk latte is Please & Thank You. It’s the perfect pick me up after a night on the town, and the eclectic ambiance doesn’t hurt either! (We suggest grabbing one of their famous chocolate cookies for later, too.)

Across the street from Please & Thank You is Wild Eggs, a breakfast institution that’s famous for their egg dishes (obviously) and decadent breakfast options. Grab a table or a spot at their circular breakfast bar, and be sure to try their “Everything Muffin”, it’s like the bagel - but better!

No trip to Louisville is complete without a visit to Churchill Downs, even if it isn’t racing season! The Kentucky Derby Museum gives a comprehensive look at the history of the Kentucky Derby, through hands-on exhibits, a 360 degree video experience, and a walking tour around the property. You’ll leave inspired and in awe of this iconic sport, and if you’re like us, you’ll be adding the Kentucky Derby to your bucket list!

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AFTERNOON

One of the newest distilleries in downtown Louisville is Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery. Their Discovery Tour is $20 and lasts about an hour, and gives guests the ability to see the whiskey production process first-hand, and enjoy a whiskey tasting and cocktail demonstration. Their facility is state-of-the-art, their guides are knowledgeable, and the whiskey is strong… what more could you want? (You can make a reservation in advance here.)

Just down the street is the Mussel & Burger Bar, where you can grab a late lunch of some of the finest burgers in town! We recommend the “C.E.O”, a burger topped with Gruyere cheese, truffle aioli, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and oven roasted tomatoes. It’s served with some of the largest fries we’ve ever seen - and it’s finger-lickin’ good!

Walk off your lunch with a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory - where you’ll learn about the history and the making of the famous Louisville Slugger Baseball Bats! You can hold bats used by baseball superstars like Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter, see the world’s biggest bat, and take a swing for yourself in their batting cages!

EVENING

One of Louisville’s most iconic culinary specialties is the “Hot Brown”, and while many-a-restaurant serve it, the best and original Hot Brown sandwich can be found at The historic Brown Hotel. Their Lobby Bar is elegant and classy, and makes for the perfect setting to enjoy this classic comfort food. What’s a Hot Brown, you ask? It’s an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich, baked in a heavenly Mornay sauce. It’s rich, and hearty, and the portions are large. We highly suggest sharing one!

Head back to the Omni Louisville for drinks and late night bowling at their in-house speakeasy, Pin & Proof. We won’t tell you where it is (that’s part of the fun), but we will say that they make a mean old fashioned. And it’s definitely one of the most unique and innovative bowling alleys we’ve seen in awhile!

SUNDAY

MORNING

Brunch and sunday morning is like peanut butter and jelly. It just makes sense. So start your Sunday morning at Porch Kitchen & Bar, where they dish up a delightful mix of decadent comfort food and fresh and healthy cuisine. Order a glass of the Lean Green to counteract their “Everything” Cake Donuts, and then try their Egg White Omelet or Quinoa & Green Veggie Scrambled Eggs… all of it is delicious!

Let your food settle for a bit, then make a b-line for the Louisville Mega Cavern, home to the world’s only fully underground zip line - the Mega Zip! You’ll fly through six underground zip lines, scale two challenge bridges, and learn the history of this man-made cavern. There’s over 17 miles of underground passageways deep beneath Louisville, and it’s truly a marvel to witness - especially by zip line!

AFTERNOON

Chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite after braving the Mega Zip, and we know the perfect spot! Indulge in some fried chicken and fixings at The Eagle, in the trendy and eclectic Highlands neighborhood. Make sure you try their Spoon Bread and Mac & Cheese, and if it’s a nice day, sit outside on their patio!

After you’re done with lunch, take a walk along the Highlands neighborhood, where you’ll find several murals, local bars and shops, and picturesque tree-lined streets with colorful (and historic) homes.

Make your way back to downtown Louisville, for an Old Forester Distillery Tour. Not only will you learn about their distilling and bottling process, you’ll also see first-hand how their oak barrels are made. And, of course, you’ll get to taste some of their award-winning craft bourbons for yourself! (You can make a reservation in advance here.)

EVENING

We can’t think of a better meal to end the weekend, then good ol’ Southern BBQ at Doc Crow’s! They have everything from BBQ ribs, brisket, collared greens, hushpuppies, grits, and more… and it’s a lively and casual environment no matter what night of the week it is! “The Perfect Old Fashioned” is not to be missed here, but make sure you save room for at least one more cocktail at...

Hell or High Water is a speakeasy located around the corner from Doc Crow’s, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Look for a small Curio Shop (there’s no signage), and knock on the door. You’ll be escorted into an underground labyrinth that will have you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a cocktail experience unlike anything else in town, and reservations are strongly recommended. (You can do so here.)

This 48-hour itinerary is barely scratching the surface of all that there is to do in and around Louisville, but it’s a great place to start. Leave a comment and let us know what we’ve missed, and what we should do when we return!

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.

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!

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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.)

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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.

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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!