If you missed my first post about visiting Portland (click HERE to read that), my boyfriend and I took a West Coast trip this summer and visited three different cities!! It was my first time out west and it was so much fun to see what life was like on the other side. While Portland was my favorite stop on the trip, I really liked Seattle too! It has a vibrant city feel but is also surrounded by beautiful water and PNW nature. Keep reading below to get the details on where we went, what we did, and where we ate/drank in Seattle! Happy travels!
Where We Stayed:
Traveling is expensive, but we were lucky enough that we were able to stay with friends while in Seattle. The neighborhood they live in is called Capitol Hill and we loved it there! It was within walking distance of all kinds of fun bars, restaurants and shopping, and it was a pretty central location in terms of visiting other parts of the city. We never even had to take a cab - we could walk everywhere we wanted to go (another great money-saver)! I would highly recommend staying in the Capitol Hill area.
Where We Ate & Drank:
Our first morning in Seattle we slept in and then went to a delicious brunch at Oddfellows Cafe + Bar. It's right in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on a fun street full of shops and bars. We loved this restaurant!! It's so cute and bright on the inside with tons of seating and even an outdoor section, and their breakfast food is amazing! I definitely recommend the breakfast panini or the homemade biscuit and eggs. So good and filling, so you'll have plenty of energy for a day of exploring! I ordered a decaf latte with my meal and the Seattle coffee did not disappoint! One evening during our visit, we got adventurous and tried Malaysian food at a cute little place called Kedai Makan. The food there was amazing (order a bunch of dishes and share), but be prepared to wait for a table.
Seattle is definitely not short on grungy dive bars, and we spent some time at a bunch of those (you have to stop at Comet Tavern), but we also visited two breweries that I'd highly recommend. Red Hook Brewing has tons of seating (indoor and outdoor), tasty beer, delicious brick oven pizzas, and even outdoor fire pits to keep you warm during the colder months. It was a fun place to hang out for an afternoon! We also stopped at Cloudburst Brewing. The space is pretty tiny and the line for beers was long, but it's conveniently located just down the street from Pike Place Market! We enjoyed some relaxation and beers there and chatted with a local who had stopped in for a drink after work.
Things to See & Do:
It wasn't hard to find fun things to do in Seattle and we fit a lot into our visit! We walked through Pike Place Market briefly, but it was so crowded that we didn't hang around for that long. We loved walking through Chihuly Garden & Glass. The exhibit is beautifully put together and the glass sculptures are pretty incredible! It doesn't take long to walk through (less than an hour unless you really take your time), but we took lots of great photos and got a great view of the Space Needle from the outdoor portion. It was also a lot of fun walking through the Olympic Sculpture Park. It's basically a walking/running path that winds down a hill towards the water and is full of large sculptures by different artists. We saw beautiful views of the water there and even spotted some cute little bunnies running through the gardens!
If you're looking to do some souvenir shopping, head to the pier down by Pike Place Market. It's super walkable and full of Seattle-themed shops and people selling things on the streets. Our favorite spot was called Simply Seattle. While you're there, stop by the nearby Pike Street Press. They sell the cutest greeting cards, posters and other paper goods! I brought a bunch home to give to family. If you're into books like we are, visit Twice Sold Tales (a used bookstore home to a few adorable kitties) and Elliott Bay Book Company (new and used books with a café in back). My boyfriend likes skateboarding, so we also stopped by the 35th North Skate Shop. They had tons of fun t-shirts and Adam even picked up a skateboard to bring home.
My favorite part of our Seattle trip was taking the ferry to Alki Beach. We boarded a boat at a pier near Pike Place Market and then it was a quick 10-minute ride with beautiful views of the city skyline. When we got off the ferry there was a free shuttle bus that brought us to the beach and boardwalk. There were a few bars and seafood restaurants to stop at, but we got some ice cream cones to go and strolled down the walking path until we made it back to the ferry. It was peaceful and pretty and so much fun! You can even rent bikes, roller-skates, or skateboards to ride on the boardwalk. The coolest part was that, as we were waiting to board the ferry heading back to the city, we saw a seal, a starfish, and some jellyfish! It was such a magical moment unexpectedly seeing a wild seal come popping out of the water in front of us to say hello, and it might have even been the highlight of the West Coast trip for me.
How We Traveled:
After we finished our days in Seattle, we took the Amtrak Cascades train to our final destination, Portland, Oregon (you can read about that part of the trip HERE). The train ride was only about three hours long and it was so relaxing to just look out the window at the beautiful countryside we were passing by. If you take the train, definitely request a window seat and bring some snacks and drinks! Happy travels!
As a lifelong East Coaster, I've always wondered what life was like on the other side. I based most of my opinions on movies and t.v. shows, but last month, my boyfriend and I took a long-awaited West Coast trip, stopping in three different cities in three different states! We had such an amazing time and made a lot of fun memories, and I'm so excited to share the highlights of our trip with all of you! I'm starting this little West Coast trip recap with our final (and my personal favorite!) destination, Portland, Oregon, because my friend is heading there soon and I want to be able to share this with her before she goes! Keep scrolling to read about where we went, what we did, where we stayed and what we ate/drank. Happy travels!!
Where we Stayed:
To save money on this trip, we stayed in spare rooms we booked through Airbnb. In general, while hotel beds are awesome, I think I might actually prefer staying in Airbnb's over hotels when traveling. It makes you feel like you're more a part of the city you're visiting when you're staying in a residential neighborhood in an actual home, and lots of times the hosts give great insider recommendations on things to do and places to eat! Our Airbnb host in Portland, Sarah, was the best I've ever experienced and went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. Her house even had a Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs room, complete with a tiny bed, a stuffed Hedwig, and a framed photo of Dumbledore (which Adam and I loved because we're big Harry Potter people)! There was also a wishing tree in the front yard where Sarah encourages guests to hang their wishes. So cool! If you're ever looking for a place to stay in Portland, just search for "Steps to Great Food & Drink (10 min to airport)" on Airbnb.
Where We Ate & Drank:
The food/beer scene in Portland is no joke! We ate and drank a ton in each city we visited, but I think we definitely had the best food and drink of the trip in Portland. Just a few doors down from our Airbnb was a place called Tamale Boy that had some of the tastiest Mexican food I've had in a long time. It was sooo fresh and good! And the restaurant had a huge outdoor seating area that was perfect for the summer weather. I cannot recommend this place enough. Everyone in Portland was also raving about a Thai restaurant called Pok Pok, so we had to check it out. It definitely lived up to the hype. Every dish was delicious and the cocktails were great! They have several locations throughout the city, but we visited Pok Pok NW and were easily able to get a table. For a fun, Mediterranean tapas-style dinner downtown, definitely check out Mediterranean Exploration Co. The hummus with pita and the falafel were amazing! We also loved the brick oven pizza from Oven and Shaker (ask for a seat in front of the pizza oven - it's so fun to watch them work!) and the ice cream from Salt and Straw.
Finally, for a simple and tasty breakfast, stop at P's and Q's Market. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and serves delicious and budget-friendly breakfast food. We went there for brunch two days in a row!!
Portland is definitely not short on breweries and we visited a ton during our trip. My personal favorite was Base Camp Brewing because the beer was amazing, the outdoors-inspired decor was fun, and the patio was spacious. They even had little nozzles spread around the patio spraying cool mist, which was awesome because it was 90 degrees out. We ordered a flight of 10 beers and had so much fun trying them all. Pro tip: order the s'mores flavored beer and it comes with torched mini marshmallows around the rim! We also liked StormBreaker Brewing (outdoor seating, tasty beers) and Deschutes Brewery (huge space, popular, right downtown).
Things to See & Do:
Portland is so full of interesting places, you can really just pick a street and walk down it to find places to visit. But, if you happen to be there on a weekend, don't miss the Saturday Market. It's the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the U.S. and it's full of all kinds of treasures. I ended up leaving with a cute and summery $25 sundress, a handmade necklace and a birthday gift for my mom (I can't reveal what it is or I'll ruin the surprise. Hi Mom!). While you're strolling the market, look up and you'll see Portland's famous White Stag sign! After shopping the market, if you're still looking for a fun trinket to commemorate your trip or to bring back as a gift, you have to visit Crafty Wonderland! It is the cutest little store and they sell Portland-themed items like pins, postcards and t-shirts, but also other adorable gift items like jewelry and art prints. Adam and I both found really cute souvenirs there and had a lot of fun looking around. Finally, if you're a book-lover, stop by Powell's City of Books -- it's the largest independent, new and used bookstore in the country! The size is a bit overwhelming, but they have every type of book you could imagine in there.
Apparently, Portland is known as The City of Roses and there are several rose gardens located around the area. We visited the Peninsula Park Rose Garden and it was so pretty!! The air smelled like roses, the flowers were beautiful, and there was a beautiful fountain in the very middle. It was a peaceful place to stroll through on a nice day. It would even be a great place to bring a picnic!
My cousin Kelly lives in Portland and I was lucky enough that she was around on the last day of the trip to bring me to two beautiful waterfalls just outside of the city. It was a beautiful drive and felt very Pacific Northwest-y. The first place we stopped was Latourell Falls - a gorgeous waterfall that has been left pretty much alone. It's a great spot to visit if you're feeling extra adventurous because you can actually climb down, stand near the base of the waterfall and get sprayed by the water! Some people were even climbing up the side of the cliff! YIKES! The second waterfall we visited, Multnomah Falls, is the more well-known and was more touristy, with a gift shop/food court area and a huge parking lot. But the waterfall was beautiful and you can hike up a path and stand on the little bridge in the center. Even with all the people around, it felt peaceful being around the falling water and it was a great end to the Portland trip!
In conclusion, Portland was everything we hoped it would be and we are already dreaming of going back again! I also kinda would love to live there! If you've ever been and have other recommendations, share them in the comments below. : )
One of the best parts about where Adam and I live in Brooklyn right now is our proximity to the beautiful Prospect Park. It's just a 10-minute walk away from our apartment and a much-needed peaceful oasis where we go to decompress from the craziness of the city and enjoy some nature. Right outside of our park entrance is Grand Army Plaza -- a must-see spot if you ever visit Brooklyn -- and every Saturday the plaza hosts a Greenmarket, where locals go to stock up on locally-grown produce, organic meats, freshly baked breads, and other tasty treats. If you're ever in the area on a Saturday morning, you have to stop by!
It's one of my favorite places to visit for a little "me time" on a lazy weekend morning. One of the reasons I like New York City is because of the anonymity I enjoy here. In my hometown, I couldn't walk down the sidewalk without running into a ton of people I knew, but in New York it's easy to slip through the crowds or go out for the day without that constant recognition. I love starting a Saturday morning by quietly walking through each vendor's stall at the Greenmarket and watching all the other people hustle by. My favorite products you can find at the Market are dried lavender sachets, apple cider slushies, and savory stuffed loaves of bread. Seriously, if you're in Brooklyn you have to check it out! I brought my mom when she was visiting last winter and we had so much fun picking out delicious foods to bring home and cook for brunch.
When you're done shopping at the Greenmarket, before you head out of the area, take a little detour down the nearby Underhill Avenue. Just one block down the street (coming from Eastern Parkway) you'll find a colorful and creative street art exhibition called the Underhill Walls. The artwork rotates from time to time, and it's extra fun if you happen to show up on the day the artists are painting over their old works and creating new ones. XOXO
There's nothing better than that first warm weekend in the spring where the sun is shining and you can finally taste summer. We had a weekend like this in Brooklyn earlier this month and took full advantage of it. We spent all day outside and even broke out the shorts for the first time since last summer. Am I the only one who feels naked the first time I wear shorts every year?! Of course, I ended up with a patch of sunburn on my shoulder (oops!), but it was such an amazing day. We visited a bar near our apartment that we've never been to before and I actually think it might become one of our go-to summer spots... Diamond Reef. The bar doesn't look like much from the outside but when you walk in you feel like you're in a Miami oasis! The indoor bar area is huge, with comfy booths and a long bar, along with tons of floor space. There are tropical neon signs and palm trees, and the A/C is blasting. But the best part of the bar was probably the backyard. It's full of bright and cheerful tables and long wooden benches, tropical plants, and even a food truck. We had some delicious Mexican street corn and grilled chicken skewers -- the perfect snacks for a midday treat on a hot day. Their drink menu is full of fruity tropical-flavored frozen drinks and cocktails and refreshing beers. My drink was strong but tasty, and it felt so festive with the little paper umbrella and colorful straw in it. If you're ever in the neighborhood, whether you need a place to hang out on a hot summer day or a tropical escape in the middle of winter, I highly recommend checking Diamond Reef out!!
In just a few weeks, my boyfriend, Adam, is turning the big 3-0! I wanted to make this milestone birthday one he will remember, so I decided to gift him with an experience. I did some sneaky planning and booked us a little country getaway about two hours out of NYC in Tivoli, NY. I found a cozy, beautiful little home on Airbnb, bought our train tickets, and researched the area for fun places to eat. Then I counted down the days… for months! It was so hard to keep it a secret from Adam for so long, but I did it! Last week the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. We packed our overnight bags and headed off on his birthday adventure.
Check out the photos from our Airbnb below. To book it for yourself, just search for Modern-Boho Cottage. I’ve also included some restaurant recommendations at the bottom of this post! The home was perfectly bohemian and I obsessed over every room. Every detail was so well thought out and visually pleasing. We loved playing Scrabble by the fire at night while sipping drinks and napping in the hammock during the afternoons. I even took a bath (which I rarely do) and the natural light from the bathroom's skylights made it feel extra special. The space made us both feel so relaxed and inspired, and we had an amazing and memorable time! Happy Birthday, Adam!! <3
WHERE TO EAT:
The village of Tivoli is extremely small and quiet. You can walk through it in under ten minutes. But, I'm guessing because of its proximity to Bard College, the main street is home to some delicious food. Check out where we ate below:
The Corner at Hotel Tivoli – Our first night in town, I treated Adam to a special birthday dinner at the mediterranean restaurant inside the Hotel Tivoli. We were a little apprehensive to go in at first – the menu and location seemed a bit fancier than what we are used to and we were wearing jeans – but it turned out to be a memorable and delicious meal! The restaurant was small, intimate and beautiful, and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. It was also nice that, although the menu was sophisticated and the location was beautiful, the people inside were diverse, down-to-earth and casually dressed. We didn’t feel at all out of place! Adam started with a round of oysters. They were presented beautifully and so tasty he ate them all in about 60 seconds! They also gave us a delicious, fresh loaf of bread, which we dipped in olive oil and sea salt. For the main course, I had chicken tagine – it was full of flavor and the chicken was so tender it fell right off the bone. Adam had one of their specials that evening – I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a spicy curry chicken. He wolfed it all down! Their drink selection was great, with wine, specialty cocktails, and beer (it would also be a great place to come just to sit at the bar). I had two glasses of Finger Lakes Dry Riesling, which were amazing, and Adam had a few local beers. To finish our meal, we shared an ice cream sundae topped with pecans and hot fudge. It was the perfect size and was soooo creamy and good. Everything about our experience here at The Corner was perfect, and I’ve been finding myself daydreaming about this meal almost every day since. It was the perfect, special location to ring in Adam’s 30th year!
Murray’s – Murray’s is a café located in the bottom floor of a beautiful old church in Tivoli. We visited on our second day for breakfast and coffee. The space was quiet and peaceful – full of people writing and reading, and some artsy Bard students visiting with friends. We both ordered the biscuit with eggs and sausage, and it was sooo fresh and good. We also ordered lattes and they were beautifully presented and tasted great. We were bummed that this place was closed on our last morning in Tivoli, because we both wanted to go back a second time! If you need a simple, easy breakfast spot, this is it.
Sante Fe – For our last dinner in Tivoli we stopped at this Tex-Mex restaurant. It’s really cute on the inside, with a giant papier-mâché dragon hanging from the ceiling and a cute bar area. They also have great outdoor seating options! The waiter gave us free chips and salsa to start with, which were delicious, and, on the advice of a cab driver, I ordered a margarita, which was so good I had to have a second. Our food hit the spot! It wasn’t the best Mexican food I’ve ever had but it was still definitely tasty. We both left the restaurant feeling very full (and slightly tipsy).
I know a lot of people have moved onto Christmas talk already, but I'm trying to make fall last as long as I can. And nothing says fall quite like pumpkins! If you live in the New York City or Hudson Valley area and want to get in the fall mood, you have to check out The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson!!
Adam and I visited this weekend and it was such a unique experience! Just about an hour's MetroNorth ride from NYC's Grand Central Station to the Croton-Harmon station, and then a five minute cab ride from the station to the event, it's a super accessible, beautiful activity that lasts all October and November each year.
Basically, The Blaze is located on the property surrounding a historic 18th century building called Van Cortlandt Manor. There is a winding path through the woods next to the home, and they fill it with amazing sculptures made of thousands of hand carved Jack O'Lanterns. The pictures below don't do it justice - it really felt magical, and a tiny bit spooky, walking along the candlelit path to view all of the different displays. We walked across "The Pumpkin Zee Bridge," saw a beautiful pumpkin dragon surrounded by pumpkin fish, walked under a sky of pumpkin stars at the "Pumpkin Planetarium," and even saw our two favorite animals (alpacas and sloths) in pumpkin form at the "Pumpkin Zoo." There was a field of pumpkin sunflowers, a Thanksgiving turkey made of pumpkins, and even a pumpkin "Jurassic Park" full of pumpkin dinosaurs. Each display had its own themed music, perfectly setting the mood, and some of the displays even moved!
We had a lot of fun walking through the exhibit (although it only takes about 35-40 minutes to complete unless you really take your time, so if you're traveling far it might be worth it to make a day of it and explore other things in the area), and even had some nice fall beers in the refreshments area before our tour started - they also sell classic fall treats like donuts, hot cider, pumpkin flavored coffees, and pumpkin pie. This is a great fall activity for families with kids, or even a date night for couples! We had a great time strolling through the pumpkins together! : )
If you decide to make the trip, here are some pointers:
-Dress warmly if it's chilly outside. We brought hand warmers, scarves and lots of layers. The entire event is outdoors and it's more enjoyable if you aren't shivering the entire time. Haha!
-Wear boots or sturdy sneakers. The walking path is mostly dirt.
-Bring cash! The food vendors do not accept credit cards. You'll also need about $7 for each cab ride to and from the train station (there is free parking at the event if you decide to drive).
-Don't arrive too early. You cannot enter the actual exhibit until the exact time listed on your ticket. You can, however, hang out in the gift shop and refreshments area until it is your time to enter.
-Buy your tickets early!! This event is so popular that it sells out extremely quickly. If you plan on going next year, check for tickets in September. Click HERE for the event's website.
My name is Abby Formella and I'm a 26 year-old working girl living in the lovely borough of Brooklyn, New York.