KSOLE and I ended 2018 with a trip to Big Bear, just three days in the area was enough for us. While it’s a great destination for those who love to ski and snowboard, it is also a nice and relaxing getaway from the city for couples, friends, and family who don’t like snow activities. With a selection of restaurants, a handful of coffee shops, and some interesting boutiques to shop through, Big Bear certainly is a place for everyone.Read More
It’s a small town about 20 minutes away from Solvang, and one that I debated on sharing because it’s such a peaceful gem. The people in this town are humble, kind, and friendly. They live a happy life, a simple one, and truth be told, there isn’t too much to do when you’re there but it’s not meant to be a crazy weekend out of town anyways.Read More
Just 90 minutes outside of Cabo is a town that is such a hidden gem that I’m reluctant to really share it. However, to keep it to myself would be a shame as La Paz is a place that everyone should experience at least once. While Cabo is known for large resorts and a lively night scene, La Paz is the complete opposite and is best for those who want a real adventure.Read More
There is so much to do in Bali and a week is just too short to see it all. We weren’t able to meet up with Instafriends in Canggu, we didn’t get to see the epic sunrises everyone talks about at the beaches, and we didn’t have time to squeeze in a day trip to the Lembongan Island. However, we made the most of the time we had and jammed our schedule to fit in at least 10 major activities during our trip.Read More
Kauai is the 4th largest island and is often called the Garden Island. Known for its beautiful rainforests, the Napali coast, Waimea Canyon, and 111 miles of coastline, Kauai has more accessible beaches than any of the other Hawaiian Islands. There are 8 major waterfalls on the island with Waipoo in Waimea Canyon being the highest, falling at 800 feet. If you’re looking for a place to disconnect, explore and spend the majority of the time outdoors, than look no further because Kauai is it.Read More
Our final destination with FinnAir was Spain, specifically Sitges and Barcelona. We spent a night in Sitges and two nights in Barcelona, leaving us extremely sad to leave so soon, as we all fell in love with the country. What’s there not to love honestly? Beautiful beach views, gorgeous architecture, the best paella, plenty of shopping centers, fresh coffee, and so much more. In fact, I’m surprised at how much we were able to do in two nights and complied a list of recommended activities for your next stay in Barcelona.Read More
Located between the Garraf Massif and the sea, and about an hour southwest of Barcelona, in Catalonia, is a town called Sitges. This beautiful place features breathtaking ocean views, many local shops and small markets, and the nicest people around. With 300 days of sunshine all year, there's a reason why everyone is so happy here.Read More
Kia Orana! Welcome to Rarotonga, where the sun is always shining and your worries just automatically float away.Read More
Winter in Los Angeles typically consists of 70 to 80-degree temperatures in the daytime, a handful of rainy days where people all of sudden forget how to drive, and occasional low 60’s, when everyone complains that it’s freezing on Facebook. Fortunately, this “cold front” occurred while I was in Park City, Utah, where it was snowing and about 4-degrees, but was one of the best experiences I ever had.Read More
Catalina Island is often underrated and misunderstood, but even after 3 trips, I still find that there's always something new to do.
Less than an hour away and with ports in Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point, there really isn't a better way to getaway last minute than to the island. Did I mention that Catalina Express is also comfortable, spacious, and sails so smoothly that I fell asleep both ways? True story.Read More
Scroll through Instagram and you'll see a ton of images from Bali, Hawaii, Santorini, and Paris because that's where people typically dream of vacationing. However mention Cook Islands and you'll get 9 out of 10 people asking, "where's that?" This includes our cellphone providers (AT&T and T-Mobile), who had to Google where the country was before telling us that they do not provide coverage there.Read More
Vietnamese coffee, you either love it or hate it, depending on if you think it's too strong. I had my first sip at age 8 and have never looked back. However, I don't need coffee to "survive" as I'm pretty much immune to caffeine at this point. Instead, I consider my morning cup, my mid-day coffee breaks, and after dinner lattes a way to relax and unwind. The smell of coffee just makes me happier, which is probably why my boyfriend always asks if I want coffee when I'm being a bitch (hah).Read More
If you searched "things to do in Bangkok", the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market will be listed as one of the top 10 activities. After all, it's a tourist trap for a reason.
We spontaneously decided to take a trip outside of the city to visit the market on a Saturday morning, and by morning, I mean 7:30AM. Traffic starts after 10AM, according to the locals, and it's about a two hour drive, so 7-7:30AM (latest 8AM) is suggested.Read More
"I hope the weather will be nice while we're there," she said as she zipped up her overnight bag.
He walked towards her and picked up the bag, "That's it?" he asked, puzzled as she typically overpacks.
"Yes, that's it. I don't care about what I wear this weekend. I just want to relax and not have to worry about anything. It's been a long ass week." She replied, following him out to their Volvo.
"Next stop, The Goodland!" he yelled, shifting the car in gear.
Located just a couple hours away from LA is Santa Barbara, a city on the central California coast, with the Santa Ynez Mountains as dramatic backdrop. It's been recognized on Instagram by many, as you can't miss the Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings.
With plenty of fun outdoor activities, countless places to eat, and vibrants art scenes to snap photos of, Santa Barbara is never a bad idea for a weekend getaway.
So enjoy the short drive (approx. 2 hours from LA), take in the gorgeous ocean views during the ride, and pick and choose what you want to do with the suggestions provided below.
Tip: For a great pick me up (coffee, snacks, and a quick bite), stop by Rebar Coffee.
With summer in full force, why not enjoy a bike ride by the beach?
Wheel Fun Rentals of Santa Barbara has quite a few fun options for you and the family, ranging from bicycles to surreys. I always love an afternoon ride and the path next to Wheel Fun Rentals is quite a stretch, allowing you to enjoy the scenic views for at least an hour.
Hours vary by season, however in the summer they are open until 9PM so I suggest riding either right before dinner to catch the sunset or afterwards to work off that meal.
Note: you must be 18+ to rent. No reservations required. For more info, visit Wheel Fun Rentals.
Looking for some whale action? Hop on board with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center for their whale watching cruises.
We had a rockin' good time (literally) while we were on the one-hour cruise. The waves were a little harsh the day we sailed, but the crew made sure to give us a great time on the catamaran nonetheless. Even though we didn't get to see any whales during this trip, we did see a handful of cute seals and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Drinks and snacks are available for purchase on board, along with blankets for those who get cold. Reservations are required, but college students with valid ID can receive a special discounted rate on Monday-Thursday cruises (restrictions apply and can be found here).
Yes, Santa Barbara has a zoo!
In addition, the Santa Barbar Zoo hosts monthly events that educate the general public on animal care and conservation.
Parking is about $12-18 (if I remember correctly) and tickets can be purchased on site. The Santa BarbaraZoo is not as big as the San Diego Zoo, however you'll spend a good hour and half here at minimum (depending on how hot it is).
Looking for a good hike? Try the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
73 acres of variety to explore ranging from canyons to trails that you can spend most of the day hiking. There's also an authentic Japanese Teahouse with tea classes offered, although the Teahouse is only open every second Saturday of the month between 11am to 1pm.
I was actually very intrigued at the landscape of this garden, as many of the botanic gardens I've visited were filled with flower fields - not forests or desert. While there is a meadow with flowers, the majority of the garden is filled with trees, a couple of waterfalls, and most people there were in hiking attire. So, if you're looking for a good way to work off all the food you ate, come here.
To be a kid again, oh wait - you can at the MOXI!
All judgements aside once you step into the MOXI, as you'll be intrigued by the exhibits and hands-on activities. From creating sound tracks to building your own race car, this place is for the child in you. I was really surprised by how much fun I had, after all when you think museum, you typically think of an afternoon spent gawking at art pieces you can't touch or use flash photography on - but not here!
We didn't get to spend enough time at the MOXI and definitely have this on our list to return back to the next time we're in SB.
"On behalf of Air Canada, welcome to Vancouver. Please remain in your seats until the seat belt sign is turned off."
A weekend trip to Canada is hardly enough time to truly explore Vancouver, BC., however every ounce of sleep we lost that weekend was completely worth it. After all, you can sleep on the flight back home right?
We landed in Vancouver at 11:30PM Friday night, retrieved our rental car at midnight and got to our hotel at 1AM. We woke up 4.5 hours later and drove out to Whistler to spend half the day with Mother Nature.
Our schedule was filled with back-to-back activities, in which we were forced to narrow down our choices based on proximity to our hotel. To give you an idea of how little we slept, we spent Saturday out and about from 5AM to 2AM, woke up Sunday at 6AM and flew back to LA by 8PM. We wouldn't recommend taking this route unless you don't mind running on a few hours of sleep or if you're on a time crunch like us, but we wanted to make sure you had enough things to do in Vancouver.
For the thrill seekers and those who are looking for a great adventure, Tag Whistler is the place to go.
Just a short 2-hour drive outside of Vancouver, Whistler is certainly for those who love a good hike, fresh mountain air, and views for days.
We started our morning off with a RZR tour, which allowed me behind the wheel while Jen had to suffer through my extreme excitement over driving over mud puddles at high speeds. We had a great tour guide who made sure we were never left behind - and allowed us to be the obnoxious bloggers that we are by taking a million photos at each stop.
Helmets, goggles, jackets, and pants are provided so you don't completely ruin your outfit, but the dirtier the adventure, the better right?
Whistler Backcountry is absolutely stunning and is much more gorgeous than our camera could capture. You'll feel automatically at peace staring into the mountains and the calm breeze will certainly put you into a trance.
Let me start off by saying that I'm afraid of heights, but I love a good view. This translates to, "I will do it for the gram." Hah.
Despite my fears and doubts at the start of the zipline, I am proud to say I completed all 5 courses and would do it again.
Our tour guides were extremely comforting, understanding, and offered alternative routes if anyone did not want to go through with the zipline. They walked us through safety procedures, landing stance, and what each course was known for (ex: speed, height, length, etc).
Overall, the experience was thrilling and I'm so glad to have it crossed off my bucket list. If you watch the video at the top of this post, you'll see more of our ziplining experience!
One of the most popular things to do in Vancouver is to visit the Suspension Bridge and to our surprise, it wasn't as scary as it looked online.
While the bridge does bounce and can get pretty crowded, it was well worth visiting. The river below is beautiful and the surrounding lush forest made it another perfect place to just reflect on life. We, unfortunately, missed the cliff walk and treetop adventures, but will certainly be back for that.
I had a total Mulan moment strolling through the Chinese Garden. I mean, look at how stunning this garden is - and how much more stunning it will be once they replace the water back into the pond (haha). It was under construction when we visited.
Despite the construction, the garden remains open to the public and there were crowds of people pouring in for tours while we were there. This place screams tranquility, with complimentary hot tea and a chance to play around with some calligraphy. Events and exhibits are also offered so you can certainly spend an hour here easily.
Note: parking is only available on the streets but Vancouver has an easy to use pay-by-phone meter system that I wish we had all over LA!
With every new city I visit, I always seek out the best place for a city view. The Vancouver Lookout is similar to Seattle's Space Needle. You get a 40-second ride in a glass elevator to the observation deck, in which you're able to get great views on the way up.
Located right in downtown, the Vancouver Lookout gives you 360-degree views of Vancouver while you're 553.16 feet above ground.
You won't spend more than 30 minutes here, so make sure to stop by while you're in the city.
Stanley Park is one of my favorite things to do in Vancouver because you get so much diversity within one drive. Depending on which end you start on, you can find a great view of the city, see the Lions Gate bridge from a few different angles, or simply relax within the park's 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest. There's just so much to do and so much to see.
Note: For the best views (for photos), come before 7AM! We were able to capture some great shots without any interference.
Thanks to Budget for lending us this classy Cadillac for our trip, which was perfect for driving through Stanley Park.
For those looking to spend a few hours away from reality, go get lost in the VanDusen Botanical Garden.
With 55-acres of plants, flowers, a waterfall, maze, and much more, this place was one of the best ways to end our trip. Unfortunately, we only had 40 minutes to spare but ran through as much of it as we could. I certainly want to go back and take my time on our next trip.
Every inch of this garden was inspiring and if you're looking for a specific flower, check out their bloom calendar so you can coordinate your visit appropriately. With over 11,500 accessions representing more than 7,300 plant families and 255,000 individual plants from around the world, I highly doubt you won't find what you're seeking.
Great for families, couples, and just individuals who want to escape for an hour and a half.
"Ready?" She asked, grabbing her luggage.
"All set, let's go. I can't wait to hit the pool!" He replied.
She rolled her eyes and placed her luggage in the trunk. He followed after her, throwing his overnight bag in, closing the trunk, and headed to the driver side.
"Palm Springs, here we come!" He said as he started the engine.
Known for relaxation and re-energizing, Palm Springs is a quick and favorited getaway for most LA and OC residents. With a short two hour drive to the desert, you'll find plenty of things to do and yes, you can bring your pets too!
Palm Springs is known for their renovated motels and while the V Hotel has a setup of one, it certainly does surprise you on the inside.
Located just a few minutes away from the heart of downtown, the V Hotel welcomes you into their gorgeous lobby with its wide glass doors and modern chic decor.
After check-in, stroll into your room and check out the poolside view. With the heat you'll most likely experience, you'll be jumping right into that pool after you unpack.
We had a pretty spacious room and the cutest balcony swing (see below). OurA/C had broken down upon arrival, but it was quickly resolved by guest services.
Overall, this hotel is a great place to getaway from the main noise in downtown. Tucked away but still close enough to go where the party is.
While many come to Palm Springs for the relaxation that's guaranteed, there are actually quite a few activities that I would recommend to do.
Surprisingly, it was my first time doing most of these things despite visiting Palm Springs over the last few years.
BOTANICAL GARDEN & CACTARIUM
If you're staying at the V Hotel, you can simply walk on over to the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cacatrium and spend about an hour or so exploring. While the garden offers several noteworthy spots to pay attention to, especially those cute birds, I say the star of the show here is the cactarium. I loved the variety of plants showcased and it is the best place to hide from the sun, temporarily.
Open daily from 10AM to 4PM, except Wednesdays. Children are free and adults are $5.
While majority of the exhibits are now closed, the famous and most Instagrammable Mirage house is still open! I believe it is open until October, but it is worth the drive and if you're in Palm Springs already, why not visit?
There is a security guard on premises that likes to hassle photographers so be warned, but aside from that, it's worth the short walk up from the parking lot. I really wish I got better photos to share, but you can thank the security guard that day for banning me from using my DSLR.
I guess that means you just have to go see if for yourself :) Totally free!
Open Monday to Friday from 3:30PM to 7PM. Weekends from 9AM to 7PM.
Note: only 25 people can occupy the space at the same time.
For directions, please click here to view the maps.
If it's too hot for you, take the tram up to the mountains where you'll be at least 30 degrees cooler.
While I'm afraid of heights, I did enjoy the aerial tramway and think everyone should do it at least once. The view at the top is breathtaking and it's the perfect way to reset before heading back home. The fresh air, peace, and quietness will zen you out.
Also, if you want to eat while enjoying the view, they have a mini food court available along with a snack bar. (Yes, my priority is always the food)
Monday – Friday – First Tram up 10:00am
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays – First Tram up 8:00am
Daily – Last Tram down at 9:45pm
For summer hours, click here.
Adults $25.95, Children $16.95 - click here for all pricing options
CURATED BY PALM SPRINGS STYLES
In search for the pink door? Grab a bike and go on a self guided tour of the colorful doors! Well, we were guided by the very sweet creator of Palm Springs Style, so that we didn't get lost, hah.
We started at The Ace Hotel and went around the nearby neighborhoods, learning about the history and inspirations behind the gorgeous architecture we visited. Of course our hour tour ended with every blogger's favorite, the pink door.
We returned to The Act Hotel after our 60 minutes were up and after turning a shade or two darker from being out in the sun. Certainly a fun thing to do with your girlfriends!
Before jetting back into reality, make sure to book yourself a signature massage at Palm Mountain Resort and Spa.
My favorite way to end any trip is to do treat myself to a 90-minute massage and at Palm Mountain Resort and Spa, they will certainly have you leaving the most relaxed you've ever been. Start off with a refreshing glass of water, a quick introduction and review over the areas you want taken care and then slip under the sheets for the treatment. You'll be snoozing away shortly because that's just how relaxing their massages are.
For prices, hours, and booking, click here.
Looking for a good way to start off your night? Stop at Kaiser Grill.
Located right in downtown, this bar has a great selection for happy hour and I highly suggest the Bloody Mary. We stopped by Kaiser Grill right before dinner and loaded up on a few light bites including an order of mussels and hummus to share.
205 S Palm Canyon Drive
Sunday to Thursday 11:30am-9pm
Friday to Saturday to Sunday 10:00 am-10pm
ACE HOTEL & SWIM CLUB
It was my very first time at King's Highway, located inside The Ace Hotel, but apparently it's a favorite amongst people.
This gorgeous diner is known for their date shake, yes you read that right and they also make it with almond milk for al those who are lactose intolerant like me! Worth a try and good for your digestive system.
Another noteworthy item to order is their avocado toast. I'll admit I'm not a big dan of avocados, but this item was done well with the mixture o flavors Would certainly order that again.
701 E PALM CANYON DR, PALM SPRINGS, CA 92264
Open everyday from 7am to 11pm
A brunch spot that works with only locally sourced food and serves breakfast and lunch on 3 terraces. Cafe Europa prides themselves on fresh ingredients that they claim they do not even have a freezer. I didn't go check, but the food certainly was tasty.
The cafe is also dog friendly so bring along your furry friends and start your day off right.
Come for the pretty cotton candy treat, but stay for the hip atmosphere.
Lulu's is known for their vibe, service, and amazing courses for dinner. Upon entering, you'll immediately feel happier with the bright and colorful decor. While the choices range on the time of day, there's one thing that's always guaranteed and that is that you'll leave satisfied.
P.S. Get the prime rib!
200 S Palm Canyon Dr Palm Springs, CA 92262
For hours, click here.
CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL CUISINE
For a low-key night and something with romantic vibes, try Johannes.
The mood is just right at Johannes and the food just as good as you can imagine. They're known for their Schnitzel so make sure to order that, but don't skip on the specials. I had the fish that night and it was amazing.
Save room for the dessert because you'll want to order one of each, guaranteed. Be warned that the portions sizes are big so either starve yourself before you eat there or split with your boo.
196 S Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262-6604
Open 5PM for dinner. Closed Monday.
"Please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts as we prepare for landing."
After a layover in San Francisco and five hours on the plane, without Internet and crying children, they were finally there.
"It's beautiful" she said, as she looked out the window of the plane and saw the beautiful island known as Maui.
"So what do you want to do first?" He asked her.
She turned and replied back, "Everything."
Type in luau in Yelp and you may find quite a few options, but if you want authenticity with an amazing view, good food, and memorable performances than may I suggest Old Lahaina Luau.
From its humble beginnings in 1986, Old Lahaina Luau has quite the reputation and I can certainly see why. From the presentation to the performances, to the food, and the sunset view, this luau has set expectations for future ones. Yes, while this was my very first, it definitely has set the bar and did I mention that the coconut jelly dessert is to die for. I ate 5 of them and there were 6 served to our table - whoops.
My favorite thing about the Old Lahaina Luau was the storytelling. The performances went through the history of the island and the art of dancing. I also love how intimate the seating was, we had the perfect view and were placed with such lovely people that quickly became our friends for the remainder of the evening.
I'm so glad we chose the Old Lahaina Luau and especially as my first luau. Be aware that they do sell out months in advance so get on it!
If you're up for a 6 hour (minimum) drive and really want to see the island, then I highly encourage you to rent a car and navigate yourself through the Road to Hana. It may sound scary to drive yourself through this but it is totally worth it.
We left at 7AM, filled up the gas tank, and bought a ton of snacks to keep us occupied until dinner time. We made several stops along the way, such as Twin Falls, Honomanu Bay, Upper Waikani Falls, Coconut Glen's, and the Pools of Ohe'o. While we were exhausted after the 10 hour trip (total with stops), we loved every moment of it.
Make note that there's only one gas station on the road, half way through the drive and it is highly suggested that you fill up - regardless of how full your tank might be. Bring lots of water, bug spray, sunblock, and a change of shoes. Possibly clothes as well since I did slip and fall (nothing major), but I did get soaked after climbing down to get that epic shot near the waterfalls. Also, don't forget your camera!
3. Snorkeling at Molokini Island and Turtle Town
Sleep? What's that? You're in Maui, so get up and get to the dock at 6AM for an experience of a lifetime. If swimming with turtles is on your bucket list, then make sure you book your trip with Boss Frogs and get your Maui snorkel on.
From snorkeling gear, breakfast, and lunch, Boss Frogs provides it all in addition to the option of renting wetsuits (highly recommended) and underwater cameras. I really regret not renting the cameras as seeing the turtles was beyond breathtaking. Speaking of which, these beautiful creatures are truly majestic so make sure you book the package that takes you to Turtle Town too.
It was a gorgeous afternoon, the rain has just ended the day before, and for once, there was no traffic to Malibu.
She had a long night before so she fell asleep during the drive. She woke up just as he was parking the car and realized she had knocked out for the last 45 minutes. She blushed, slightly embarrassed but he didn't mind. He opened her door and the two headed to check-in.
"Welcome to Malibu Wine Safari, may I have your name?"
After checking in, the two had a bit of time to kill so they browsed the store, playing with souvenirs and he ended up purchasing a safari hat. At the strike of 2:30PM, they loaded up into a truck with 10 other people and got on their way.
The tour started off with a petting zoo visit where they fed alpacas, petted the gorgeous horses, and kept their fingers away from the zebras. After the fun, they headed to a beautiful viewpoint to try their first half of wine, all whites, with the prosecco being her favorite.
After taking in the view, the group headed back into the truck and drove towards their next stop - Stanley the Giraffe.
He was a sight to see, standing tall, patiently waiting for the tour group to feed him. She grabbed a few pieces of lettuce and held it up high, as instructed. Stanley swiftly ate the pieces within seconds, making her laugh with delight. He was up next, but told her to stay with Stanley so that the two can get a photo together. It was a moment they will not forget, as they smiled at one another.
Stanley was left with lots of love and the tour moved onto their final stop, and their last half of wine tasting. With crackers and delicious dips, they ended the tour with a brief history of the property and a reminder to kindly tip their driver and tour guide.
As the sun began to set, the two headed back to the car and prayed that the 5PM traffic was not going to be that bad. She looked at him as he drove down PCH, smiled, and looked out towards the ocean and realized how lucky she was to be in love with her best friend.
The first time I met you, I was 12 years old. Our time together was limited, lasting just a couple of hours, as we were on a time crunch to reach San Francisco. All I remember is that you were quite cute and filled with color.
Time passed on and I forgot about you, until I came across your picture recently. I didn't mean to take 17 years to come see you again, but I do apologize for not visiting sooner. Driving in, I saw the luscious green hills and see that the rain has been treating you well. You looked so happy, full of life, and I was just as excited to explore with you as you were with me. I didn't know what to expect, but what you showed me in three short days, has made me promise you that I'll come back again - sooner than later.
Solvang, also known as Little Denmark, is a two and a half hour drive from Los Angeles, just passed Santa Barbara. Upon the surface, Solvang may not look exciting and most of the town is closed after 8PM every night. However, you should never judge a book by its cover and in just three days, I fell in love with this little Danish village.
Try an Aebleskiver at The Solvang Restaurant
First thing's first, Jenn and I arrived starving and ready to eat so we headed to The Solvang Restaurant for their famous Aebleskiver. If you have no idea what they are, it is basically a fluffy pancake ball topped with raspberry jam and powdered sugar. One order equals 3 Aebleskivers, with the option of a side of Danish sausage (highly recommended) and/or ice cream.
Of course, we needed more food to fill us up so we ordered the chicken and waffles, which was massive and perfect for sharing. Tip: order it with a side of brown gravy and dip the chicken in it (you won't regret it).
We had a great time learning about the history of the family owned restaurant with the staff and watched as people continuously came in to order their Aebleskivers. It was the perfect start to our trip.
Get Lost in The Books
Check-in for our hotel was 4PM, meaning we had a couple of hours to kill. One of the best things about Solvang is that there is plenty of parking everywhere and it's all free. Yes, free - no stupid parking tickets or having to worry about putting money into the meter. Also, everything is within walkable distance.
We took a stroll through the area and found the cutest book store, which carried new, used, and first edition of a variety of books as well as signed copies of a few books. We ended up spending over an hour in here and yes, we both bought books.
Make sure to check out the used book section upstairs, where the staff told us that plenty of people love snapping photos there as well ;)
Walk Thru The Farmer's Market
Who doesn't like organic food and pretty flowers? The Farmer's Market just happened to be going on the day we arrived and what a treat. We tried not to buy everything, but did not leave empty handed. Jenn and I are both proud parents to a few bouquet of flowers.
Enjoy Wine Pairings with Your Dinner at First & Oak
A four-course meal with wine pairings in a cozy and intimate setting. First & Oak is located inside the Mirabelle Inn and is filled with exquisite details that you notice as soon as you walk in. From the presentation to the taste, this chef knows what he's doing.
We had bite after bite of rich flavors, unique combinations, and of course amazing wine. My favorite dishes including the fresh oysters with pomegranate, deep fried soft shell crab, and truffled cauliflower. Come in starving and leave with a food coma you won't regret.
See Miniature Horses
I mean, why would you not want to visit cute mini horses? Quick Silver Ranch is just a short 7 minute drive outside of town and is open to visitors between 10AM to 3PM every day except Sunday.
Drive Outside of Town and Explore
Thanks to Volvo, we rode into town in style and was able to enjoy the outskirts of Solvang.
Just a 10-minute drive out are gorgeous landscapes made for photos. We stumbled upon several hidden gems along the road and were able to just enjoy Mother Nature at its best. It's also great to disconnect and Solvang offers peace, fresh air, and views of the hills while you clear your mind.
Wine Tasting at Coquelicot Wines
Family owned, Coquelicot Estate Vineyard is certified organic and is affiliated with several restaurants in Southern California including First & Oak and The Sky Room (in Long Beach).
We were given a private tour and tasting with owner and sommelier, Jonathan Rosenson. It was such a great time, learning about the history of the estate, and talking all things food and wine. It was also the very first wine tasting in which I finished all my glasses!
Be on the lookout for Jonathan's new brand of wines called Rose and Sons, which will start at $18 per bottle and is made to be drank immediately versus aged. Think quick pick-up on the way to a party type of wine, which is easy to drink and affordable for everyone's budget.
Thank you Jonathan for the wine, the Tokyo restaurant suggestions, and this "Jonathan blended" bottle of wine we're currently sipping on!
Relive Lucy's Famous Chocolate Factory Moment at Ingeborg's Danish Chocolate Shop
We all know the famous and favorite scene of I Love Lucy, in which she gets hired at a chocolate factory with Ethel, and fails to keep up with the conveyer belt of chocolate. Unfortunately, Lucy and Ethel were unable to make it past the first day at work and retreated home only to be surprised by their husbands with two large boxes of chocolate.
"Chocolate is like lipstick and deodorant, you need them in life." Probably the best comparison I've heard in my life because it is so true. Mr. Kim Jensen, owner of this delicious chocolate factory, is a man who knows what people like and understands that quality will always outweigh quantity.
All the chocolates are handmade, hand packed, and made with love. They ship worldwide and yes, they can even overnight it to you so you can enjoy it while you're on vacation. We spent the afternoon tasting a variety of popular favorites while resisting to stick our finger in the delicious chocolate dip. I truly felt like a happy little kid in a candy store, or in this case, chocolate shop.
We left with a box of chocolates, a happy tummy, and such an amazing vibe from Mr. Jensen and his amazing, hard working, and very caring staff. This alone makes me want to come back and visit Solvang again very soon.
2 hours and 23 minutes away from Los Angeles is the gorgeous getaway you need. Leave the kids at home, take your significant others and/or a group of your closest friends, and just go. Don't worry, I won't tell your boss that you're not really sick.
There's quite a few things to do once you're in Cabo, the weather is usually nice so the beach is always a good idea. However, if you are like me and are usually starving once you land, I highly suggest you drop your bags off at the hotel and head to Maria Corona.
1. Get Tacos at Maria Corona .. and a magic show
We asked around for the best brunch spots and Maria Corona ended up being the popular vote during our poll. We happen to dine on a Sunday morning, also known as their brunch buffet day. The colorful decor, helpful staff, and freshly made tamales, tacos, and juices were a hit with our tummies. We may have woken up groggy from a night out but Maria took care of us and we felt much better after brunch.
We were also entertained by a street magician who did the practical card tricks and disappearing items act. While the magic itself was not impressive, his hustle was (haha). Do what you gotta do to make that money.
P.S. According to Francis, Maria's is on his list for top 5 carnitas tacos he's ever had. Francis is pretty snobby when it comes to food so for him to say that means you truly have to check it out.
2. Hit the Road: ATVing / UTVing
If you're looking for an adventure, G-Force is the way to go. I found G-Force Adventures online, prior to our trip, and booked our tour before we left. Their reviews were great and I couldn't resist the combo package of 1 hour of UTV-ing and 1 hour of horseback riding. This combo was the best option for us as we had 3 passengers and we all wanted to stick together. Of course, that meant we had a UTV versus an ATV but for a first timer (like me), I felt safer driving the UTV (hah).
The package does include a pick-up and drop-off service at your hotel by G-Force, as well as safety equipment and a tour guide. They also provide lockers to hold your things while you're on the tour, although I would highly suggest keeping your sunglasses on you (some where) for the horseback riding portion.
We spent an hour navigating our way through the desert, hitting a few bumps, but luckily I didn't hit anyone else. Sharp turns, uphills, and steep slopes were met with my heavy foot on the petal and both my passengers holding onto their seats. But nobody died so you can't say I was a terrible a driver :)
After the hour, we were led to the beach where a group of gorgeous horses awaited on.
3. Romantic Horseback Riding on the Beach
So, here's a little fun fact about me. Last summer, my anthem/theme song/favorite song ever was "Needed Me" by Rihanna. In the chorus, she talks about a white horse. I became obsessed with the idea of taking a photo on a white horse and thanks to G-Force, my dreams came true. The funny part is, they had no idea I wanted a white horse and the entire ride there, all my friends heard were, "I hope there's a white horse." See, if you want it badly, it happens ;)
As soon as we got to the beach, I literally shouted, "I WANT THE WHITE HORSE!" and jumped out of my UTV to go pet him. Safe to say my friends were embarrassed about how happy I got over a horse, hah.
The 1-hour horseback riding was on the beach and while it wasn't sunset yet, it was close enough and watching the waves while we rode was one of the best moments in my life. I've always wanted to ride a horse on the beach, and I am so glad I was able to do so with my best friends.
4. Lover's Beach, Not Just for Lovers
Speaking of beaches, probably one of the most popular places to get a tan is on Lover's Beach. Lover's Beach is just a short boat ride away, in most cases, a tour is included so you can see the arches and nearby sea life.
We recommend that you dock off in the main area and not get fooled by sketched out (and extremely aggressive) boaters on the side docks. We were on a schedule and had to be back from the beach at a certain time, so we only trusted the main area boaters for this case and they were prompt in picking us back up from Lover's Beach as promised. I can't say how the others work, but we didn't appreciate how hard they were trying to hassle us.
We spent an hour and half on the beach, exploring and swimming. Everyone (but me) had fun with some lizards. They just aren't my jam so I avoided them. Some guy was walking around with them in his backpack and he lets you play with them, but expect to tip him. Oh, and those guys helping you on and off your boat at Lover's Beach are also aggressive when it comes to tipping. Just be aware.
Jo had his drone with him so we tested it out. Thanks to Jennifer, we got this little clip of us on Lover's Beach.
5. #VIEWS from Sunset Monalisa
After all the activities, we were ready to eat and Jo and Jade surprised me with dinner at Sunset Monalisa, one of the top restaurants in Cabo with an amazing skyline view.
This restaurant has the best service and while it's considered expensive in Cabo, it certainly wasn't above the norm for us LA'ers. $70/person for the Chef's tasting menu is not bad at all. We, however, wanted to choose what we wanted to devour and ended up ordering over 10 dishes between the 5 of us - starting with 6 appetizers.
Highly recommend the seafood (oysters and tuna were my favorite) and their pastas were definitely fulfilling. Dessert was OK, but the birthday surprise they had for me at the end was perfect. I'm always down for chocolate shots!
We capped off the night with coffee and staring at the skyline across the water.
Bonus: Club Hopping in Downtown (aka The Party District)
Alright, let's get down to it. You really came to Cabo to party your ass off right? Lucky for you, Squid Roe is has about two blocks full of clubs and bars for you to dance the night away.
There's no cover charge, most of them don't even check ID's, but expect mostly EDM and house music all night unless you go to Crush. They seemed to be the only place that played hip-hop, but they are pretty small and can get really crowded fast. Either way, drinks are cheap, you probably won't remember half the night anyways so just have fun. Oh and don't dress up like you're going to Vegas - you'll definitely stand out.
Note: Safer in groups and if you have male friends with you. You'll also be asked several times while you walk around if you want some blow or in Francis's case, if you want to see girls (LOL).
Thank you Cabo for an amazing 29th birthday trip. Can't wait to go back!