Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival: Adults Only Disney

Last week was a little slow moving. I got home late Sunday from a three-day weekend away to Disney World. You know I love me some Disney. I’ve written about Disneyland here, here and here in the past. But this was my first trip to Disney World in over 12 years. What was so unique about this trip is this was a bachelorette party.

A lot of people asked what we were going to do at Disney World for a bachelorette but there is actually a lot of adult activities at the different parks and resorts. In our three days at Disney World, we really never felt overwhelmed with children or families.

We stayed at the Beach Club Villas near Epcot. This was perfect for our group. Because there were nine of us we got two, two-bedroom villas. In each villa there was a room with one bed, and a room with two queens. We had a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, washer and dryer and three balconies. This gave us plenty of room to spread out, and not be on top of each other.

The bride’s mom (who is a Disney professional) ordered us groceries from a local store so we had everything prepared for us when we arrived. Breakfast options, coffee, snacks for the pool, and cheese and crackers for our wine before heading out for the night. This was perfect for us as adults, but also such an amazing service that you can do not just at the villas, but any of the resorts. This is great for families or groups that don’t want to eat out every meal, or want to save a little money during their trip.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
We only went into the park one day. And for our adult Disney trip, we went into Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival they have each fall. This is a perfect adults only vacation trip idea. There are hundreds of food options from all around the world around Epcot’s World Showcase. There were not many kids at all at Epcot during our trip. This was just a short walk from our hotel at the Beach Club. We started our day around 11 in the morning and ate our way through the park until about 7pm.

The food was absolutely amazing. We had Bellhaven Brewery Scottish Ale from Scotland, wine from Germany, “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon from Canada and so much more. My favorite was probably the seafood options we got at the new Coasts Eats booth. There was Lump Crab Cakes, Bake Shrimp Scampi Dip and Seared Scallops, all of which I really enjoyed. Prices ranged depending on what you got but anywhere from $4.50 to $12 seemed pretty average. What’s important to remember is this is a tasting.

These are not big portions of food because you want to try everything and anything. I didn’t think anything was too overpriced, but as the day went on, I stopped ordering wine. Most of the wine tastings were around $6 and you only got between 1 and 2 ounces. That to me wasn’t really worth it. But the food and cocktails were fantastic.

Pro Tip: If you do want wine, head over to the Germany and Italy areas. Germany has a nice quiet tasting room where you can order a glass of wine and Italy had a fantastic little wine cave with great food.

Disney Springs
Downtown Disney, now Disney Springs, had a major facelift since I was there 12 years ago. I was blown away by the number of new stores, restaurants, shops and places for live music that were all around. I was really impressed that every store front we walked by there was music coming out of the restaurant.

We had dinner at Raglan Road, an Irish pub at Disney Springs. The food and drinks were fantastic. I ordered their Gnocchi Sea Gnocchi Do, a scallops and gnocchi dish that I wish I could find anything similar to here. During our meals we watched an Irish band and Irish step dancers which were all amazing performers.

Besides Raglan Road, you can watch a concert at House of Blues, go blowing at Splitsville, watch a show at Cirque du Soleil, or take a boat ride around Lake Buena Vista on a Vintage Amphicar and Italian Water Taxi. Or simply shop around at some of the amazing stores like Zara, Anthopologie, Everything But Water, Francesca’s and so much more. I will defiantly be stopping her during the day next time I am at Disney as well as at night.

The resorts actually have less Disney features than you’d expect. Besides a few hidden Mickeys and maybe a character breakfast, otherwise not too much screams you’re at a Disney resort. Each resort has amazingly themed pools. At our resort, the Beach Club, we shared a pool with the Yacht Club and this is dubbed one of the best pools on property according to a few different cast members I talked to over the weekend. There was plenty of different areas around the pool that never made the pool feel crowded.

Spas and golfing is always an option at many resorts, but besides the normal resort options some of the resorts have 8-person bikes, boats you can rent, ferry rides, watersports like tubing, waterskiing and parasailing, and even fishing. Animal Kingdom Lodge even has a Safari that you can go around the property and check out the animals they have on site.

Restaurants, Bars and Sports
A lot of people don’t know this but the Atlanta Braves actually use ESPN’s Wide World of Sports baseball field for their spring training. So, if your visiting Orlando in March, check out a game. Mickey most likely won’t be in the stands.

One of my favorite things we did during out trip to Disney World was a monorail bar crawl. We took a taxi over to the Grand Floridian where we began our tour of a few bars in that hotel, at the Contemporary, and the Polynesian. We finished off the night at a dueling piano bar at the Boardwalk hotel. So much fun. And no kids.

Quick Packing Tips for a Weekend Away

I am so excited to be heading down to Florida for a quick girls weekend to celebrate one of our best friend’s bachelorette party.

While living in Orange County for the past three years I feel like I lived out of a suit case on the weekends. We were so far away from friends and family in north LA that anytime I headed up there, I made sure to stay the weekend and visit as many people as possible. That being said, I got used to quickly packing for a few days, which will come in handy this week since I am also traveling for work throughout the week.

There are some things I take with me always. Whether it’s a road trip or a flight, all of these items are permanently in my weekender, ready to go.

My headphones, phone (obviously) and portable charger are always packed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left my charger at home, so now I just have an extra in my bag. I also usually always have my Surface and camera. My laptop is a little too big to lug around sometimes and the Surface does anything I may need for a quick three days away. One thing that I would like to get for traveling is this right here. I love that everything is in one spot, wrapped up.

Carry on Toiletries
My toiletry bag is always restocked and ready to go away for the weekend. When I was living in Orange County, a quick night away happened so frequently and without much notice so I always was prepared so that I didn’t have to stop on my way out of town. Travel sized shampoos, conditioners, an extra toothbrush and tooth paste in my favorite toiletry bag, and I usually have a few extra laying around for when I run out.

Cardigan and Scarf
Whether it’s a road trip or flying on a plane, it’s always a good idea to have a comfy, oversized cardigan or an oversized scarf to wrap yourself up in, roll up and use as a pillow, or even a lap blanket. It’s never comfortable to be cold, or hot, and not be able to fix it. Layering is key when traveling. I got a few of these this season from Old Navy, in a few different colors. They are already packed in my carry on.

Dry Shampoo
Always dry shampoo! I’ve tried a lot of dry shampoo. For real, I have a small obsession. I always feel like my hair looks greasy so I try everything I can to take that look away. This one is great because it doesn’t leave that left over film, and it’s so lightweight that I can spray it in and just shake it out, no brush needed. I also recently picked up this one, and am slowly falling in love.


Day Trip to Salem, MA

Salem, Massachusetts is full of history. From being one of the first fishing villeges in the new world, to the infamous Salem Witch Trials less than 80 years later, there’s so much to see and do in this quaint little New England town. Last weekend I woke a few of my friends up early and made them join me for the three hour trek to Salem. We are lucky enough to be able to make this trip a quick day, but I would recommend a weekend if you really want to imurse yourself in the witchary.

October is the busiest month for tourism in Salem for obvious reasons. So definitely be prepared for a lot of people, and a lot of strollers.

What we did:

the Old Burying Point Cemetery and Salem Witch Trials Memorial
First touristy spot we stumble upon was the Old Burying Point Cemetery and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. I have this weird little love for ridiculously old cemeteries. It’s so crazy to see the families together, and try to figure out what their family relationships were like. Like why are there three *** buried next to each other.

Then we headed just outside the cemetery to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This is a memorial to the 19 women who were killed in 1693 after being accused of witchcraft.

Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair
Right on the other side of the Peabody Essex Museum is Essex Street where vendors lined the streets selling homemade goods. But if you aren’t there on a weekend they are having the Biz Baz Street Fair there are plenty of stores and museums to wander in and out of. We visited the first weekend of October, which is also one of the busiest weekend of the season. There were strollers and people everywhere. This area is somewhere I would probably not run too next time. Instead maybe visiting during a slower time of year would be better.

Artists’ Row and Salem Town Hall
This beautiful area was a great place to stop inside a few shops, snap a few photos and check out local artist’s work. Starting on coble stone Front St. where there are clothing shops and souvenir shops, we stopped in front of Salem Old Town Hall. Directly across the street we headed down the small ally known as Artists’ Row. A few small shacks line the ally with wood carvings, ceramic pieces of art and plates. This was such a good little find if you like supporting and appreciate local artists.

Where we ate:

Salem Beer Works
For the past 25 years this restaurant has been brewing beer throughout their seven locations in Massachusetts. We headed straight here after parking our car in Salem, and started with a spicy Bloody Mary while we waited for our table to be ready. With bacon mac and cheese on their specials menu the weekend we were visiting Salem, we knew exactly what to share as an appetizer as soon as we sat down. Absolutely amazing. For our meals, the three of us got a burger, a haddock sandwich, and a fried chicken sandwich. All of which were ehhh. Nothing great. I didn’t get to try any of their beers while we were there, but definitely something on my to do list for next time I visit.

Sea Level Oyster Bar
After walking around all day we needed to take a seat for a minute and grab a small bite before we headed out on our three hour drive home. We stopped over by the Derby Waterfront District to get something to eat at Sea Level Oyster Bar. This duel level, inside-outside oyster bar was delicious and I wish we had found it earlier to enjoy a full meal. Two of us had their New England Clam Chowder was fantastic, and I’m not a raw bar type of girl, but the size of the oyster’s my friend got were out of control! This is absolutely a place to head over to, if not for food, at least for a drink with a  view.

Brew Box on Essex
I love me a good coffee shop. Being as basic as they come, I am always be happy with a Starbucks, but when I’m able to find a mom and pop coffee shop, I take advantage. This cute little shop along Essex St. is worth a stop in. And supporting local mom and pop shops is always a good thing.

Parking Tip:
Depending on the time of year you are visiting Salem, parking can be a definite issue and hassle. As we headed toward Derby St. we took a right on Margin St. and parked at a Napa Auto Parts for $20. Across the street the high school cheerleaders were also running a parking lot. While a little out of the way, the walk wasn’t too bad and not fighting the line of traffic to find parking was worth the walk.

Next Time:

Salem Willows Park – At the tip of the peninsula in Salem sits Salem Willow Park. I looks absolutely beautiful and next time will definitely be on my list of places to check out.

The Witch House – The home of Judge Corwin, known for the Salem Witch Trials, his home offers guided and self guided tours with seasonal hours of operation.

The House of Seven Gabels – This famous home of merchant John Turner is a staple in Salem history and deserves a visit.

US Travel Bucket List

A few weeks ago, I shared my Ultimate Bucket List. A list of mostly international destinations that I would like to visit. While most of these locations I won’t be visiting in the next year or so, it is a pretty realistic list of countries and experiences that I’d like to explore. Today I put together a list of locations in the US that I’d like to visit.

Washington DC
Like most middle school students on the east coast, I took an amazing trip to Washington DC when I was in 8th grade. We saw all the memorials, a lot of the museums and even got a tour of the Capital building. But we didn’t see the Cherry Blossoms. Also, I was in 8th grade, meaning I didn’t appreciate everything DC had to offer. I want to take a boat ride down the Potomac, walk around the Tidal Basin and take in the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms and explore the Mall wandering in and out of museums.

Niagara Falls, NY
Being seven hours away from the Connecticut coastline, Niagara Falls is just too far for a weekend trip. I’ve never taken the trek up to the New York, Canadian border but it sure is on my to-do list in the foreseeable future. I look forward to seeing these amazing falls from land; and also, taking one of the stupid little touristy boat rides to see them from the water also.

Key West, FL
I grew up going to Florida to visit my grandparents. When I was a kid we took the drive from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys… and I remember none of it. Okay that’s a lie, I got sick on a glass bottom boat and that is stuck in my head forever. But otherwise I remember nothing. I want to drive on the Overseas Highway, visit Mallory Square, go snorkeling and maybe even try another glass bottom boat.

New Orleans, LA
Who doesn’t want to go to NOLA? I don’t care if it’s Mardi Gras or not, I cannot wait to explore this city, its history and its Creole culture. Visiting the French Quarter, walking on Bourbon Street, taking a swamp tour, learning about Voodoo, walking into a Jazz club, trying a real beignet, real jambalaya, and gumbo and maybe even checking out a New Orleans Saints game. I want to do it all.

We skimmed the panhandle of Texas during our road trip this past summer, but besides Cadillac Ranch, I experienced none of the State of Texas. I want to do a road trip starting in Dallas and heading down stopping in Waco, Austin, San Antonio, heading east to Houston and back up to Dallas. I want to watch a Texas football game. High school or college, I won’t be picking when it comes to Texas football. I want to eat BBQ in Austin, check out Magnolia Market and the Silos in Waco, walk along the Riverwalk in San Antonio and visit the Alamo Mission.

Denver and Vail, CO
I’ve never been skiing but I feel like I need to go big or go home. Or at least I need to walk around those cute little ski town, going in and out of all the shops with a cup of hot coco while I wait for my friends to get off of the ski slopes. Either way, I need to explore these cities.

Rose Engagement Party and Rose Jello Shots

One of the main reasons I wanted to move home from California was because I was missing a lot of life changing events in my friends lives. Way back in April, one of my oldest friends got engaged to her literal soulmate and I was lucky enough to be home to celebrate her engagement party. We had to talk the bride to be into doing a little celebration so it took a while, but back in August we finally got to get together for a quick little girls night celebrate the future Mrs. Smeraglinolo.

Because she didn’t want a big to do, a few of us got together, had our friend who owns a jewelry store in town come over and we did a little jewelry making class while drinking some rose. We each brought a bottle of rose and made an appetizer and dessert. It’s always great to get together with your close friends and that is one thing that I defiantly missed while I was in Los Angeles.

For apps we had a brie and watermelon salad, caprese bites, pineapple-meatball bites, a few dips, charcuterie board and way too much more. For dessert we ended with chocolate covered strawberries, rose dipped pretzels and rose jello shots by Tablespoon.com.

Super simple, and so amazing. We left out the Pop Rocks and amaretto and ended up serving them as a dessert in these beautiful Lenox martini glasses, but they were the perfect big kid jello shots.


1 ½ cups pink lemonade
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup pink champagne
½ cup vodka

  1. Pour pink lemonade into a medium sauce pan. Add gelatin into lemonade and let sit. Once activated, turn heat to medium and bring to simmer.
  2. Once all of the gelatin is dissolved, add champagne and vodka.
  3. Pour into small loaf pan and refredgerate for 3 hours.
  4. Once gelatin is set, scoop into martini glass for serving. Keep chilled until ready to serve.