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.

Electronics
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.

Texas
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.

Ultimate Travel Bucket List

Everyone has a bucket list… I just read that in a meme. But it could not be more true. Unfortunately with the job I have as a travel agent, my bucket list is ever expanding. Monday through Friday my job is to book people the vacations of their dreams. In the morning I can book a multi-generational family an amazing cruise, by lunch I am sending a couple on their dream retirement vacation to Europe and before five I am sending another couple on their honeymoon to Fiji. Meanwhile I am sitting in Connecticut, behind a desk, semi pulling my hair out, as I wanderlust and have crazy FOMO.

But for real, all I am doing is adding onto my own bucket list and secretly planning my next vacation.

I started thinking and actually narrowing down where I wanted to go and realized that some places I wanted to see were actually just experiences I wanted to have. So I thought long and hard about what would be on my ultimate travel bucket list and thought I’d share it with you.

Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies
Last year, travel to Europe was pretty rocky and looking into 2017, people were loving the Canadian Rockies. Canada was voted the number one travel destination for 2017, so as a travel professional I had to dive into the west coast of the country to the north of us… and I fell in love. So much so that a few friends and I are looking to explore a little next summer.

A Villa in Tuscany
But for real though. Most of you know I am a complete foodie and love my wine. Is there anywhere better than Tuscany for a foodie? I don’t think so. I obviously want to explore the normal, Rome, Venice, Amalfi Coast, but more so I want to actually live like a local in Tuscany.

Alaska Cruise
I know, how cliché. I told my mom this summer that I wanted to do a family vacation there, and she had zero interest at all. Welp, I guess I will have to go on my own. Any takers? But for real this is the perfect place to see with your entire family. There is something for all ages, and all activitiy levels. (sorry my inner travel agent just came out real fast.) But for real, I don’t think I am a big cruise person but Alaska, is there any other way of seeing it?

River Cruise along the Rhine
And to be specific, give me a wine cruise! During September and October, just like here in the US, is the perfect time for harvest in Europe. I would love to bring out the 60 year old inside me and enjoy all of the good food and wine between Amsterdam and Basel.

Switzerland
This country was never super high on my list. And then I was able to see the country through a few Vloggers and Bloggers that I follow and I decided I needed to go… stat! Okay, I have zero plans yet, but its pretty high on this list. The georgous mountains, amazingly clean cities, and beautiful fields to bike through, where can I sign up?

Northern Lights
Whether it’s sleeping in a hotel under the stars in Norway or driving along the coast in Iceland, I want to see the “green stuff in the sky” as one of my friends called it the other night.

French Polynesia
Ok well I am pretty sure this is pretty high up on most people’s bucket list. It’s not just the bungalows over the water that I can’t wait to check out one day, but the amazingly crystal clear waters, insane amount of marine life and the beautifully exotic culture that is no where else in the world.

 

 

Connecticut Wine Trail Part 1

If you’ve been around here for a while, follow me on Instagram, or have seen even one Instastory, you are well aware I like my wine. In California, I did my fair share of visiting wineries and vineyards… and joined maybe one too many wine clubs. I absolutely love wine country and because of my visits to Temecula, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Willamette Valley in Oregon, my friends in Connecticut have dubbed me a little bit of a wine snob.

Now let me be the first to say, I know nothing about wine. Ok, I know a little but in no way am I any type of expert. Just a little bratty when it comes to taste and setting.

So, when I got back to Connecticut I decided I needed to visit all of the wineries out little state has to offer. Wine is defiantly different here. For one thing, I’ve never tried so much fruit wine in my life. And yikes! I don’t know how I feel about it.

Hopkins Vineyard

I went to Hopkins Vineyard during my girl’s weekend up in Litchfield County. We didn’t realize it when booking the B&B but it is owned by the family with the same name and literally right across the street from the B&B in an old 19th century barn. When we first got there, we went upstairs to grab a bite to eat. They had a small selection of only cheese and meats but a charcuterie board and a glass of rose was just what we needed. When we finally got downstairs, there was a little confusion about what time they actually closed. Long story short, they told us we had 2 hours when we sat down upstairs and when we came down an hour later they told us we were closed and couldn’t do a tasting. After way too much debate, they finally let us pay for a tasting, which we completed in about 7 minutes. The wines were ehh. The Lady Rose was definitely my favorite and then they had a summer red called Sachem’s Picnic that I actually bought a bottle of. Served cold on a summer day, it was a good change from the normal Rose I was drinking all summer.

Saltwater Farm Vineyard

This was vineyard was the first of three on a little day trip out to eastern Connecticut this summer. Saltwater Farm’s building is a converted WWII era hanger and the runway of vines outside lead straight to the mouth of the Wequetequock River, which is perfect for the Connecticut coast line. We took a walk down to the water and back, but there is nowhere to sit down there. They should definitely take advantage of the view and put some picnic benches and Adirondack chairs. I would have loved to take a bottle of wine out there. Once we got upstairs, we realized that the tasting room is pretty small. It is in a loft of the hanger, and the main floor is actually where they do a lot of weddings and special events. There were no tables or space at the bar for our group of 5 so we hand to rely on the pourer to come out and bring us our next tasting. Lucky for us she was absolutely amazing and remember what tasting we each were having, and was super informative. My favorite was definitely their Rose (so basic, I know) and their Cabernet Franc Merlot blend. I love a red wine and even though you could taste the blackcurrant for sweetness, there was still an earthiness and smokiness to it that made me want fall… ASAP.

Stonington Vineyard

Stonington Vineyard was stop number two that day and I actually really enjoyed it. The building is absolutely stunning even though there isn’t an actual view. The property is surrounded by trees which definitely made it feel pretty secluded and quaint. You could tell the building is either pretty new or recently renovated because it defiantly had that clean, cookie cutter feel, and just didn’t make me want to stay and get comfortable there. On the other hand, I feel like out of the three wineries we went to this day, here had the biggest variety that I liked. I tend to lean toward drier wines, usually reds, and NEVER Chardonnays. A few different wineries in Connecticut have told me that their Chardonnay is Sauvignon Blanc inspired. Out of the wines I have tried so far, this one is the only one that I could actually say is. It didn’t have that buttery taste that I am used to with California Chardonnays, which is actually what I hate about it. This was much lighter and crisper. They also had an amazing Riesling that I enjoyed, but it was defiantly a wine you just want a small class of because it is very fruity and sweet.

Hawk Ridge Winery

Ohh my new favorite place! I don’t know why, but I just love me a farm house and farming landscape. I mean take away all of those nasty animal smells and I am in love. This winery was just absolutely amazing because it definitely has that farm feel. I love visiting vineyards during the week because the pourers get to actually talk to you about the wine making process, history of the wine and you get a lot more than the typical here is our two-sentence description of what you’re tasting. My sister, friend and I all had the same day off one Wednesday and headed up north to check out two wineries.  Hawk Ridge had two options for Rose, I preferred All Day Rose over the Rose Bublé, although both were really good. The Talon Red was my favorite because of its equally earthy and fruity flavor. I will definitely be back for more of this.

Next month I plan on doing another round up of some more of the Connecticut wineries so if you are from Connecticut or going to be visiting, check it out. I’d love to try some vineyards out for you.