24 Hours in Cape Cod

Spring has been busy! When you hide up for five months of winter, as soon as that first sign of warmth and sunshine comes through you’re all about getting out there, filling your schedule and living life. Especially for this California girl! My first winter back in Connecticut was a bit of hibernation. I forgot what it was like to literally turn into a bear and not want to leave your couch.

Now that spring is here and summer is around the corner, I barely have time to keep up with my shows. I am finding every excuse to get outside, go explore somewhere, and then when I do have the time to sit and relax, I am enjoying it and appreciating it so much more.

The past three weekends I did three random, last minute weekend getaway trips. More on those in other posts but this past weekend a friend and I decided we were going to take thirty minutes to pack a back and drive up to Cape Cod to visit a few other friends who were in town for a wedding. It was so spur of the moment and last minute I barely had all my toiletries in a bag before we had to go.

So we spent a whole 24 hours on the Cape and packed as much as we could into the time we were there.

What we did
If you’re from New England, chances are your family has some connection to Cape Cod, and you have your specific area that your family has history with. As teenagers, my friends and I would spend summers on a cute little lake in the middle of the Cape. The beaches are much better than what we get down here in southwestern Connecticut. There is something about the ocean that just doesn’t compare to Long Island Sound.

Saturday night when we got in, my friend Katy and I headed out to Main St. in Hyannis. It is so quintessential New England with all of the restaurants with street seating, beachy décor and souvenir stores, and ice cream and candy shops. I couldn’t get enough. I haven’t been to Hyannis in probably close to 15 years and it definitely lived up to my memory.

Sunday, we woke up and headed over to a beach in Wellfleet. It was perfect. The sun was out but it was still cool since it’s June. The tide was low so we were able to head out on a sandbar which is the perfect spot for seal sightings. There were a few that were playing about 20 feet out and obviously I couldn’t get enough.

After the beach we headed north to Truro to check out Truro Vineyards. (You know I can’t help myself when it comes to a Vineyard. I need to see them all.) Honestly, Truro is beautiful. As long as you don’t mind the drive, I can’t recommend this winery enough. It’s super easy to get to and absolutely stunning. And bonus, the wine is amazing.

We did a tasting of 5 wines for $10. And if you go with a buddy, they’ll let you share your tasting. You each try 5 so you can get a taste of all of their varietals. They do group tastings every 30 minutes, on the hour and half hour mark. This wasn’t my favorite way of tasting, but I can defiantly see how it keeps things running smoothly in the summer when the Cape is packed. I just really love that one on one experience you usually get when doing a tasting at a tasting counter. A good pourer can really make or break the experience.

The Vineyard also has a Distillery on site. I wasn’t able to check this out during this trip. We were heading home and I was prioritizing a wine tasting over the rum tasting, but I can’t wait to check out South Hollow Distillery during my next visit. South Hollow has tastings every half hour as well for just $10. And according to their website, they have two tours a day throughout the summer.

Where we ate
Where didn’t we eat!?? In just 24 hours we went ham!

Friday night the friends we were meeting were at a wedding, so my copilot, Katy, and I had a little dinner date in Hyannis. We walked up and down Main St. before settling on Alberto’s Ristorante. We were able to get a cute, little table along the street so we could sit outside and people watch. We started dinner with a truffle gnocchi appetizer that was literal heaven. We joked later that we should have canceled our dinners and just each asked for another dish of the gnocchi for our meals. Hands down the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. For my meal I had the Shrimp & Scallop Fiorentina over linguini. It was amazing.

Sunday morning we were pretty late to rise so we skipped breakfast (and coffee…. Gasp) all together. At noon we headed over to Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham for some real deal lobster rolls.

*Fun fact: The lobster roll was created in our town, Milford, CT back in the early 1900s. We take our lobster rolls very seriously around here and there are a lot of debates as to who makes the best rolls, and whether it should be served warm or cold.

In Connecticut we are used to warm lobster rolls and at Arnold’s you have your option. So naturally all five of us got a warm roll served on a hot dog bun with butter. We also had to try their lobster bisque and clam chowder, and without question, the chowder defiantly won as far as the soups go. Delicious!

After finishing at Arnold’s we made our way up the coast to the Beachcomber in Wellfleet. This restaurant is built on top of a sand dune with direct access to a pretty quiet little beach. It was gorgeous! We grabbed a Bloody Mary and some amazingly, fresh oysters for a little snack before heading down to the beach.

*Tip: Parking is $20 and cash only. But you’re given a voucher worth $20 that you can use for food or merchandise inside the restaurant so it is well worth it. Just remember your cash!

Before hitting the road for our three hour ride back to Connecticut, we stopped at Baxter’s Boathouse in Hyannis. It was the perfect ending to our trip. We decided to be healthy and get the broiled seafood platers instead of the fried seafood. You know, trying to be healthy. But this is the perfect spot, right in the heart of Hyannis port. We were able to watch fishing boats pull in while we ate some of the freshest fish we’ve had.

Where we stayed
Like I mentioned earlier, Katy and I met a few of our friends who were in the Cape for another friend’s wedding so we were lucky enough to crash in their suite for the night. Especially since we decided to go so last minute. We met them at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club. There are two sides of the resort, and we stayed on the Villages side of the resort. It was perfect for a group, family, or a longer stay since there were multiple bedroom options, a full kitchen, and living room area in each unit. We were on the first floor so we also had a pretty nice little back yard where kids were playing in the evening.

If you’re a golfer, the Villages are the place you want to be. The different room villages are scattered around the golf course.

I wasn’t able to head over to the Mansion side but there are two large mansions on the property full of guestrooms and suites to accommodate up to four guests per room. This side of the property is bay-front, with beach front restaurants, a pub and a pool my friends couldn’t stop raving about. Definitely a little more on the romantic side compared to the Villages.

Cape Cod Tips:

  • Have cash handy. A lot of these places are only open during the tourist seasons so they are pretty small operations. More than one restaurant we stopped at was cash only.
  • During the summer months, Route 6 is jam packed with out of towners. If you plan on going to the Cape in July or August make sure you have good local restaurants to wherever you are staying because you don’t want to be driving up and down Route 6 every day.
  • If you get a chance, stop at a Cape Cod League baseball game. You will see some amazing college baseball players who are looking to get drafted within the next year or so.
  • For you history buffs, the JFK Museum in Hyannis is a must do. The Kennedy’s famously have an amazing compound in Hyannis and locals are very proud of the Kennedy legacy.

Orange County Travel Guide

This is something I’ve been working on for a long time. Orange County is a place a lot of non-Californians want to visit but don’t really know where to begin. Since moving home and working in a travel agency in Connecticut, I’ve had a lot of people come in and say they want to visit Southern California but they don’t know where to begin.

“What’s there even to do there?”

So much! But if you visit without doing your research, you can definitely miss out on why so many locals love their little piece of paradise.

How to get there and get around:
Flying into Orange County really depends on where you are beginning and ending your trip, and also, where you are coming from. John Wayne Airport (SNA) is Orange County’s main airport, but there isn’t always the best options for flying in and out of the OC.

The Southern California airports are a beast in themselves so much so that I did a post on just the airports a few weeks ago. You can check that out here to see which airport is best for you.

Without a doubt, rent a car. Parking will probably be an additional cost at most hotels so take that into consideration, but there is no easy way of getting around in Southern California besides a car. And plan to be sitting in some traffic at some point during your trip.

Where to say:
There are tons of places to stay in Orange County but again, that really depends on what you plan on doing while you are there. If you are going for the theme parks, there is really nothing better than staying on property at Disneyland, but since there are only three hotels, availability isn’t always the best. (Don’t worry, they’re building another hotel soon so there will be more options.) But staying around Katella in Anaheim is always a good back up. I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels in Anaheim but here are my favorites:

Country Inn and Suites by Carlson
Hotel Indigo Anaheim
Sheraton Park hotel at the Anaheim Resort
Hyatt House at Anaheim Resort
SpringHill Suites at Anaheim Resort
If you’re not planning on visiting Disneyland, staying closer to the beach may be better for you. Key is to stay closer to where you are going to spend the most time. Or splitting your time between Anaheim and the beach. Most of the beach hotels are absolutely amazing. I mean you’re on the Pacific Ocean but here are some of my favorites:

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, Huntington Beach
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, Newport Beach
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast
Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas, Newport Coast
The Ranch at Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach

What to do:
Orange County is really broken down into the Beach Cities, and the rest of the OC. Most people when they think Southern California, they think beach, but if you are willing to explore inland OC, there is so many hidden gems most visitors don’t know too much about.

Inland:
Spend a day or two at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Parks (Anaheim)
Eat or go bowling at Downtown Disney (Anaheim)
Enjoy dinner and a show Pirate’s Dinner Adventure or Medieval Times (Buena Park)
Cheer on the home team at a Anaheim Ducks Hockey game (Anaheim)
See LA’s second best baseball team at a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game (Anaheim)
Take a bike ride along the Santa Ana riverbed (Anaheim and Yorba Linda)
Take the kids to Discovery Cube OC (Santa Ana)
Check out a show or grab dinner at Anaheim GardenWalk (Anaheim)
Explore some history at the Nixon Library (Yorba Linda)
Ride some roller coasters at Knotts Berry Farm (Buena Park)
Shop or play at Irvine Spectrum (Irvine)
Antiquing and window shopping in Orange Circle (Orange)

Beach Cities:
Explore the art galleries near Main Beach (Laguna Beach)
Eat a chocolate covered banana at Dad’s on Balboa Island (Newport Beach)
Shop the outdoor mall at Fashion Island (Newport Beach)
Rent a Duffy Boat (Newport Beach)
Golf at Pelican Hill or the Ranch (Newport Coast, Laguna Beach)
Have a beach day at Doheny State Beach (Dana Point)
Window shop at South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa)
Paddle board at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort (Newport Beach)
Shop island style at Lido Marina (Newport Beach)
Relax on the beach at Main Beach (Laguna Beach)
Go Whale Watching (Newport Beach)
Hike Crystal Cove State Park (Newport Coast)
Watch the surfers or hop on a board yourself at Salt Creek Beach Park (Dana Point)

My favorite restaurants:
There are so many restaurants in Orange County! This is defaintely a great place for big time foodies who love to explore and try new things. These are by no means every option for reastaurants between LA and San Diego. I think I’d be here all day if I listed that, but these are just some of my personal favorite resturants from my three years living there.

Breakfast:
Kimmie’s Coffee Cup, multiple locations around OC
Bruxie, Brea
Latte Da Bagelery, Anaheim Hills
Pepe’s Finest Mexican Food, Brea

Lunch:
Slaters 50/50, Anaheim Hills
House of Blues, Anaheim
Kopan Ramen, Fullerton
The Hat, Brea
Carmelita’s Kitchen de Mexico, Laguna Beach

Dinner:
Salt and Ash, Placentia
Reunion Kitchen + Drink, Anaheim Hills
TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea
Roman Cucina, Fullerton
South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar, San Clemente
Bruno’s Italian Kitchen, Brea
Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen, Brea
Napa Rose, Disneyland
The Ranch, Anaheim

 

Temecula Day Trip

One of my favorite parts of living in another part of the country from where I grew up is that I was able to explore areas of the US that I wouldn’t have normally gone to. El Captain Canyon campground, Pismo Beach, Catalina Island, and one of my favorite places, Temecula, were just a few of the places I was able to explore in my seven years living on the west coast.

Temecula is a little wine region, about an hour north east of San Diego that is still a great little find for anyone living or visiting Southern California. It is definitely much lesser known that it’s big sisters to the north, Paso Robles, Napa, and Sonoma, but it my eyes, Temecula sure holds her own. If you are heading to San Diego, or even Orange County soon, take a trip inland to the desert. There’s so many fantastic restaurants, wineries, and breweries any food would be happy.

The wine is fantastic, the views are amazing, and the community is amazing and supportive. Visiting Temecula pretty often, we got to meet and know a lot of the wine makers, pourers, and employees at the wineries we visited often.

My favorite part of Temecula is that each winery had it’s own feel and style. There were a few that were great for socialization, sitting outside, grabbing a bottle of wine, and relaxing with either snacks you brought on your own, or something you grabbed there. Then there were the wineries we would visit if we wanted to try multiple wines, sit along the bar in a tasting room and talk about the wines. And then there were wineries that we would visit if we just wanted to sit in the corner of the wine club’s lounge and relax alone.

Where to Drink Wine
My absolute favorite winery is Wilson Creek. Wilson Creek is owned by the Wilson family, with the matriarch and patriarch living on site. If you hang around enough, you will see the Mr. and Mrs. scooting around the property on their golf cart with their labs following. Wilson Creek has it all. They have a fantastic staff that know their wine, and can tell you exactly what you are tasting but is also a fantastic space where you can bring your own food and sit at one of their many tables outside, have the kiddos play at their play ground, or go inside their restaurant and enjoy an amazing early dinner, or late brunch.

Across the street is Weins, a great small winery with fantastic reds. To be honest, if you don’t like reds, this probably isn’t your place, but I love reds! While they don’t have a hugely fantastic outdoor space, you can grab a bite from one of the food trucks they usually have during the weekends, and sit at a table over looking the Palomar Mountains.

Along the De Portola Wine Trail there are smaller wineries that have fantastic spots to enjoy a glass on your favorite wine. Doffo, Masia de la Vinya, and Robert Renzoni are some of my favorites. But my absolute favorite along the De Portola Wine Trail was Danza del Sol. While if you want to hang out and eat here you’ll have to sit outside, and bring your own food, I love each and every one of their wines. Whites, reds, they’re all good here.

Where to Eat
After a long day of drinking, you definitely need to stop for a good meal before heading home. There are a ton of restaurants along the wine trail. Many of the wineries have their own restaurants including Robert Renzoni, Wilson Creek and Ponte Winery.

But most of the wineries’ restaurants close pretty early, so I like to head down to Old Town where you have plenty of options for meals. Public House, the Bank Mexican Restaurant and Bar, and 1909 are some of my favorites. And if you’re heading into Temecula earlier in the day and want to start your winery hopping of with a good brunch, you need to check out Blackbird.

Where to Drink Craft Beers
Temecula, and inland San Diego county are not just known for their wines, but also their beers. One of the largest craft breweries in the country is headquartered just 30 minutes south of Temecula along Route 15, Stone Brewing. I love that I can still find Stone at most restaurants, bars, and stores here in Connecticut. Whenever I want a little taste of the west coast, this is my go to.

A much smaller winery in Temecula is Ironfire Brewing Co. I heard about this winery because an old coworker’s son was their beer master. My favorite is the super hoppy 51/50 IPA.

Where to Play
It may not seem like it but there is a lot more to do in Temecula besides just food and drinks. (Those are just my favorites =]) For the golfers in the family there is Temecula Creek Inn. A beautiful resort with a huge golf coarse.

If you are a gambler, want to spa, or even just relax by the pool there is also Pechanga Resort and Casino at the south end of town. Not too far away is also Harrah’s Resort Southern California which is known to have one of the best pool parties in So Cal.

For the adventurous and hikers there are a ton of nearby trail heads and hikes to go on and explore the area. One of my favorites is the nearby Lake Hodges Trailhead for Dam Trail. Located right between Rancho Santa Fe and Escondido there are hikes for the most experienced to the most novice of hikers.

Where in Temecula would you want to visit first?

31 Things About Me

Saturday I turned the big 3-1. This was the first year in 8 years I was able to spend with my family and girlfriends and they absolutely made it a wonderful weekend. We explored new restaurants, got a psychic reading, and found new breweries. I thought it would be fun to write down 31 things about me, but I did realize that it was harder than expected.

  1. My first job was at an ice cream shop and I have worked in all forms of customer service since. Restaurants, retail, as a travel agent and now managing a travel agency.
  2. Living in California pushed me into friendships that I would have never had staying in my suborn city in Connecticut. Those friendships mean the world to me.
  3. I am a complete cat person. I love their independence and sassy attitude.
  4. My drink of choice is red wine 80% of the time. Whiskey 20%.
  5. I love watching documentaries and tv shows about murders and cults.

  1. Being around creative people truly inspires me beyond belief. My closest friends are photographers, lighting designers and theater actors.
  2. I coached high school cheerleading for 8 years and at times I miss it so much. My cheerleaders were like my children and when I see they graduated college, got a job they wanted or even got engaged (yes, I have some that are already engaged, married, and some even have kids) I am so proud of the girls they have become.
  3. I am actually pretty introverted. I rather have a few quality people in my life than to collect friends that aren’t really there for me.
  4. Some of my closest friends have been my friends since I was 10, and the rest we met in early high school.

  1. One of the things I miss most about California is my hair stylist.
  2. The home I was born into was about 4 miles from my last apartment in Orange County, CA.

  1. I truly believe that travel can change your life. I decided I wanted to move to the west coast after a trip to Tuscan, AZ in 2008.
  2. In 2012 I went to Oregon for the first time and my life way changed in so many ways and showed me that bags, shoes, and name brands are not that important but experiences are.
  3. In 2016 I took a weekend trip to Las Vegas and that trip changed my entire career path and truly helped me learn what industry I should be working in.

  1. In certain situations, I can be extremely blunt and out spoken and in other situations I can be a complete push over. I’ve been working on finding a happy medium.
  2. I started college as an education major and wanted to be a high school History teacher. I graduated with a journalism degree.
  3. Yoga gives me strength and clarity. My weekly yoga class is a time for my mom and I to bond.

  1. I love road trips! The road trip I took in 2017 was originally planned for the summer after I graduated from high school but my friend and I never were able to take it. So when I decided to move home, I knew Michelle would drive with me.
  2. My ultimate road trip would be through Austria, Germany and Switzerland. And then a separate road trip through Ireland.
  3. My mom’s home cooking is definitely my favorite, but a good Italian meal from a restaurant is always a close second.
  4. I don’t usually watch shows from the beginning. I need to be swayed into watching anything that’s too trendy.
  5. I love going to country concerts. I’ve seen everyone from Alan Jackson when I was like 5 years old, to Garth Brooks world tour and Florida Georgia Line before they were anyone special.
  6. Les Mis is hands down my favorite on stage production.
  7. I was once on a pilot of a game show that never got picked up. But it was so much fun.

  1. A summer day at a winery is my idea of a picture perfect day.
  2. Growing up I went to day camp in the town next to mine. It was a huge, historical home that I swear to this day was haunted.
  3. I love that I was able to spend a good amount of time on the other side of the country. It pushed me to explore small areas of the country that I would have never explored otherwise.

  1. I need to push myself to explore New York City more. I take the city for granted and don’t know enough about my own backyard.
  2. I have a stupid obsession with Bravo. Give me Vanderpump, give me Housewives, I love it all.
  3. I am the most uncomfortable taking photos. I want to get better… and I see my growth, but I want to be better.
  4. This was terrible to write. And hard. Talking about myself is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do on this here blog. But I am all about being uncomfortable and pushing myself.

Weekend in Lincoln, NH

Here along the coast in Connecticut, we have had a pretty mild winter. I mean, it’s been beyond cold here, but this week was only our fourth snowfall of the season. So last weekend a few friends and I decided to head north to Lincoln, NH, a small town at the base of White Mountain National Forest known for their ski resort, Loon Mountain, and their Ice Castles.

Besides the New Hampshire location there are also ice castles in Midway, UT, Stillwater, MN, and Dillon, CO. You can also check out the Canadian locations in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

When you visit the Ice Castles I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time as they do sell out. We took one of their last time slots and spent about an hour wander the castles, taking pictures, sliding down the ice slide. I am so happy we decided to go at night. The lights add so much beauty to the structures.

I loved that the Castles were sold out, but it never felt busy. There were definitely people there but you didn’t feel it. I don’t know what it would have been like during the day with kids around. I’m sure the feel at night is much more chill since everyone is just wanting to grab their photos and move on.

Where we ate

The Riverwalk Resort has an amazing Italian restaurant where we ate dinner: La Vista Italian Cuisine Restaurant. A-maz-ing. We started with Maine lobster ravioli, fried risotto balls and a duck confit flatbread special. For dinner I had probably one of the best chicken piccata with fresh pasta I’ve ever had but I was also able to taste their scallop pasta special. Literally delicious! But if you are visiting, without a doubt make a reservation. There aren’t many restaurants in town and this place is packed!

La Vista Italian Cuisine Restaurant also serves Riverwalk Resort’s own winery’s wine, Seven Birches. Before dinner we ran into the tasting room, just down the hall, for a quick tasting of some of their wines. I even ended up buying their Curico, a Chilean Malbec that is amazing. (So much so that I’m drinking a glass right now.)

For breakfast we woke up early and made out way over to Flapjack’s Pancake House, a local breakfast spot that was worth the 45-minute wait. Besides the breakfast special, a chorizo and hot pepper omelet, we also split the cranberry, buttermilk pancake that was absolutely amazing.

After breakfast we headed across the street, to the same parking lot that the Riverwalk Resort is in, to One Love Brewery where we had a quick tasting and headed out of town.

Being that I am not a skier, I think Lincoln is defiantly a place that I would want to visit in the summer. There seems to be a ton of different hikes and places to visit in the White Mountains that a warm weather lover like myself would love. But for now, I am glad to have found Lincoln because of these georgous ice castles.

Tips for Lincoln

  • Buy tickets to the Castles ahead of time! The Saturday we went they sold out and had very little standby availability. Also, if you’re going with a group and buying tickets separately, make sure you pick the same time for entrance.
  • Bring a DD if you’re going out at night: there’s no Uber here. The hotel we stayed in recommended a shuttle service, which seemed to be the only service in town, and it was pricey! I’m talking $5 per person no matter where you go pricey, and the town is maybe a half a mile long. We used it to get to and from dinner and drove ourselves after that.
  • Make dinner reservations. There aren’t many restaurants in town and with everyone wanting a good dinner after a day of skiing or snowboarding, restaurants get busy.
  • Riverwalk Resort looks absolutely amazing, but they had a two night minimum and unfortunately we only had one night to stay there, so the Holiday Inn had to do for this trip. But good news was it was steps outside of the entrance to the Ice Castles.
  • Riverwalk Resort had sleigh rides and ice skating but they closed during our day trip due to the rainy weather.