Travel: #emnbtoCHI

In case you missed our Chicago Eats check them out here! Beyond wanting to eat as much yummy food as possible, we also wanted to be just plain tourists and checkout the best spots, while also getting a taste of the life of locals – which I think we did a nice balance of! So without further ado, here is the rest of our CHI-town round-up!

Skydeck at Willis Tower: With views from the 103 floor, you get 360 views of the city, Lake Michigan and every skyscraper in between!  The going rate to get up to the top floor is $25 per person (which is much cheaper than the Empire State Building). It was really fun to soak in all of the city views, plus we had perfect blue skies.

Pro-tip #1: Buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the line!
Pro-tip #2: You get 60-seconds on the glass ledge, so plan your angles ahead of time!
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Cloud Gate aka the Bean at Millennium Park: I mean, we had to check it out right? Everyone that goes to Chicago gets an iconic picture in front of the bean! Our bean pics were anything but iconic – I’m not sure why everyone is so obsessed with it because it just stretches out your face. If the weather was a little nicer, we would’ve explored the rest of the park a bit more!
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Run Through Lincoln Park & the Lakefront Trail: This was honestly my favorite part of our trip – our little 4 mile run through Lincoln Park and then popping over to the Lakefront Trail for stellar views of the Chicago skyline was an absolutely perfect start to our Friday.  Our hotel was about 2 blocks from entering Lincoln Park, so we ventured down the brownstone lined streets through the quiet of the morning before all the hustle and bustle. Lincoln Park was filled with doggy play dates, other runners and we even got to see some Zebra’s from the zoo!
CHI Recap - the bee life (3)The Chicago River: We were able to enjoy the stunning views of the Chicago river as we ventured to Willis Tower and the back to our hotel and down the Magnificent Mile back to the Gold Coast where we stayed. Again, because it was super chilly unless you were in direct sunlight, we weren’t able to take the 1.25 mile Riverwalk, but next time we go in the summer it will be a must!

Fun fact: The River was NOT still green after St. Patrick’s Day.
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A few other fun sightings we were able to soak in was the Chicago Tribune (Never Been Kissed) – our hotel even had a valet that didn’t allow you to self-park, so immediately our trip was starting out like a Ferris Bueller movie. We can’t wait to get back to CHI when the weather is a little nicer so we can explore on feet a little more; even though we still racked up 10.3 miles between our run and walking adventures!

What’re you favorite Chicago landmarks?

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Travel: Chicago Eats

We squeezed a lot in during our quick trip to Chicago – but there was definitely a lot more on the list of recommendations that we need to get back to try! We pretty much focused on brunch, dinner and dessert of course.

Chicago Style Pizza at Lou Malnati’s – This was B’s pick, since he’d seen the restaurant on Triple D – and it was also conveniently located near our hotel.  The vibe of the restaurant was low-key and because we were seated in the bar area – we had prime seating to watch a few of the March Madness games that were on.  We split a salad and a small classic Chicago deep dish pizza and it was more than enough for the two of us! From Lou’s we ventured over to Sprinkles, a cupcake place each picking out our own treat to enjoy as a night cap – which were absolutely delicious, btw.
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3 Art’s Club Cafe at Restoration Hardware – Through some tricky instagram research I found this spot which ended up also being right near our hotel, this place looked like a dream and with a brand like Restoration Hardware to back it up we knew this would be a top notch spot to enjoy brunch.  Luckily for us, we took advantage of being in town on a week day and beat weekend traffic and waits – and were seated right away next to the focal point fountain and chandelier. The brunch scramble with avocado and texas  toast and side of Canadian bacon did not disappoint, nor did the wedding cake fry cake doughnut or Bellini.  We could’ve stayed here all day… more to come on RH in my next recap!
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The Hampton Social – Another spot found through some tricky instagram research, this place looked trendy and seemed to have a menu to back it up with a decent variety of options to pick from.  Admittedly, B and I were both underwhelmed with not only the restaurant atmosphere/experience but with the food as well.  This would’ve maybe been a better spot for pre-dinner drinks and an appetizer, as everyone pretty much just wanted to get a photo with the ‘Rose all day’ neon sign, including the 12-year olds seated next to us and the food was good enough.
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Brunch, for brunch – This brunch spot had a huge menu to pick from with all your breakfast standards with some fun twists – making it a win-win for everyone.  B had the perfect scramble “Morning Wrecker” that was pretty much made for him, and I went against my better judgement and ordered on the more healthy train with a standard eggs/meat/toast combo instead of the doughnut french toast that I had my eye on.
Brunching Pro-tip: When you’re on vacay, just order the damn french toast – especially if it’s made from doughnuts!
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One reason we love to travel and something we always plan for when we do travel is finding good spots to eat – unfortunately with a short trip there are only so many meals to consume and only so much our stomachs can handle!  So, as I mentioned when we venture back to CHI next time we will definitely be returning to a few of these, while also exploring for some more yummy eats!

What’s your favorite CHI-town eats?
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Travel: Guide to Palm Spring’s Aerial Tram

One tip we received during our honeymoon was to do the Palm Spring’s Aerial Tram.  Unfortunately, by the time we found out about it, tickets were sold out and we were SOL.  So this time we planned ahead and made sure it was on our trip itinerary.  So if you’re visiting Palm Springs, this is definitely a fun adventure to spend a few hours doing and make sure its a successful experience with these tips!

  1.  Buy Tickets Early! Not only will this guarantee you a day/time to visit and experience the tram, but you’ll basically skip the line when it’s your trip time.  Tickets range from $26 for adults to $17 for children.
  2. Plan for 20-30 extra minutes for Arrival.  We definitely cut it a little close with our arrival time and ticket time.  First, because our GPS took us on a wild adventure to the wrong address, second – there are different level parking lots depending on the time of day and how busy it is, you might be farther away – so get ready to hike up a hill or wait for the bus to come pick you up!  Also there is a $6-8 parking fee.
  3. Consider Planning Your Trip Around A Meal.  This would be a way to fully experience everything the mountain station has to offer.  From a casual cafe, full bar, or the Pine’s more upscale restaurant, this already memorable trip could be topped off with a delicious meal and endless desert views.
  4. Dress in Layers.  At an elevation of 8,516 ft. it is definitely cooler on top of the mountain than the base – so depending on when you go plan accordingly.  When we visited it was in the 70’s at the base and in the 40’s at the top!
  5. Consider Hiking.  If you’re in for more adventure and activity verses a sit-down meal, there are over 50-miles of hiking trails to take advantage of, so dress and pack appropriately for an afternoon of hiking!

IMG_2469Honestly, I totally underestimated what this experience would be like – from being on multiple trams in the Teton Mountains, the mountains surrounding the desert cities although beautiful are smaller in comparison, or at least that is what I thought!  The quick 10-minute tram ride, is a stunner and fairly intense with steep inclines running 2.5 miles and climbing 5,873 from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station.  It was an incredible ride up and took us out of the desert for the time we experienced the aerial tram!

Learn more about the tram here!

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Bee’s Pre-Vacation Checklist

Not a great planner? Well I wanted to share my Pre-Vacation checklist with you in case you needed a little help when you’re getting ready for your next trip – there are so many things that need to get coordinated, from pet sitters, bills, work and all the last minute things you forget about!  Here are 6-easy things things to help you stay organized and get all the things done before you go!
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(1) Schedule your Mani & Pedi 2-3 Days Before Departure.  I love having a fresh mani and pedi for major life events and vacations! So for me it’s crucial, and something to schedule closer to your departure date so you can ensure your nails stay un-chipped and vacation ready,

(2) Get Your Spa Appointments in the Week Before.  Depending on what kind of vacay you’re having or where you’re going.  Whether it’s getting a nice base tab with a spray tan, getting a fresh haircut, or a bikini wax for the beach! Make sure to space these out or get them scheduled a week or so before vacay.  Remember – you don’t want to be too busy right before you leave, because that won’t help with the stress!

(3) Plan Your Outfits Ahead of Time.  It might feel like it’s too soon to pack but setting aside outfits two or three weeks ahead of time will help you fill in the blanks if needed! This also saves time of doing loads and loads of laundry just before you leave for that last minute piece you decided to wear – not to mention if you need to go shop for anything you’ll have time to make sure you have a vacation ready wardrobe.

(4) Organize Your Confirmation Codes & Reservation Details.  It’s important to get all your reservation details organized into a central place that will be easy to reference on the road – that means your flight numbers, rental car and hotel check-in.  I like doing a quick screen grab and favoriting on my phone so they’re easy to find and adding details in my notes section as my back-up.

(5) Set A Reminder On Your Phone for Flight Check-Ins.  24-hours before you’re flight you’re able to check-in, and this is something I always forget – I don’t have airline apps or get email notifications, so I need to set my own reminder.  With a quick and easy reminder 24-hours before I remember to get all checked in, don’t forget to do this for your trip home!

(6) Pre-Schedule Vacay Activities.  Whether it’s a special dinner reservation, tickets for a famous tourist attraction, check out ticket pricing and times ahead of the trip.  This is especially important if you’re heading to city destinations like NYC or DC.  We quickly found out that we wouldn’t have been able to eat, or at least not at a decent time if we didn’t have a dinner reservation in either city! Same with famous destinations, tickets and crucial times quickly get snatched up – planning ahead will relive stress and allow you to see and do all those picture perfect places.

As much as vacations are for relaxing, they’re a bit stressful leading up to them so with a little pre-planning and organization you can be a little less stressed and straight to vacation mode!  Also, make sure you have a vacation ready wardrobe with these tips, seen previously on the bee. Do you have any pre-vacation rituals when you travel?  Leave a comment below!

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Travel: Asheville Eats (but really drinks)

In case you missed it, we ventured down to Asheville, NC this past Memorial Day weekend and it was full of delicious food and lots of beers (bubbles, too!).  There were a number of breweries downtown that were all walkable and perfect for creating your own mini brewery tour even with your furry friends.   Asheville is also home to some more known breweries like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, both different but awesome in their own ways!
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Curate: This was our first dinner and true introduction to Asheville, NC and boy was it a fun introduction with lots of tapas!  Curate offered a diverse array of options not only for your food choices, but the way you dine and enjoy your meal.  You could order from cold to hot, but they also had a option where they would bring you options based off your taste preferences.  We enjoyed and casually ordered different dishes, sharing amongst the table – it was a fun and delicious dining experience, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time!
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Over Easy Cafe: This cozy spot is definitely worth the wait, and since it’s fairly central downtown there are plenty of places to keep you occupied while you wait (we waited just over an hour!)  The menu is fairly standard for your normal brunch and caters to those who may be a bit more traditional with their picks or a little more adventurous.  All of our dishes were beyond delicious and the mason jar mimosa was the perfect way to kick off another fun day of vacation!
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Burial Beer Co. Although we didn’t eat here, we grabbed a drink, as this spot was collectively loved by the group for their tasty brews and low-key atmosphere. I especially loved this place, because while ordering the Donut Stout, I said; “Boy, would I love to eat a donut with this.” And the next thing I know, B is coming out with my beer and a donut hole skewered on top! *mindblown* it was SOOOO perfect, plus another pup friendly place!

New Belgium. This was B’s favorite spot we visited, he loved the atmosphere, the buildings, and of course the beers (it was a little bubble of fun!).  We also had an insider hook up and got a private tour of the facilities, from the employee lounge and indoor slide (which B rode, twice!), to the yeast laboratory, employee beer fridge, to B being able to pull some freshly canned beers right off the line.  It was pretty cool and such an impressive facility.  Oh and you guessed it, dog friendly!
14Food + Beer - Asheville - the bee lifeA few other honorable mentions;
Farm Burger. This was a late night dinner for us, that we took back to the house. With pre-made options to choose from, you can also create your own burger, plus the sesame seed topped buns hit the spot.  Not to mention the staff was super friendly and welcoming!
The Montford. With awesome views of the mountains, this is a perfect spot for a drink and snack.  The tater tots were seriously life changing, the whole group collectively was swooning over these!
Sierra Nevada. This place was a fricken compound – and I mean it was massive, ridiculous and just overall impressive.  With an extensive outdoor area, with a full concert venue (inside and out), corn hole (inside and out), and then their beautifully organized garden this place was stunning.  Whether you dine, grab a flight of beers, or just hang out with some friends and listen to music you’ll enjoy the offerings of this establishment!

If you’re planning your trip to Asheville, definitely get your taste buds and uber ready because you won’t be short of breweries to visit, beers to try and food to eat!  Our afternoon of brewery hopping was perfect because we just had a beer or two at each of the places and it was a nice way to enjoy a lot of different places throughout the day!  Have you been to Asheville recently? What was your favorite spot?

Travel: Thanksgiving in Palm Desert

We were lucky enough to take our #emnbhoneymoon right after our wedding, meaning we spent our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife in sunshine, just the two of us!  We love our families, but it was nice to detox, soak up the sunshine and do something new and not rush around to three different dinners within 48-hours.

Since we were still on east coast time, we woke up fairly early and were ready to roll, enjoying the sunrise from our balcony.  We started our Thanksgiving off with a walk through our resort over to the main hotel to grab Starbucks and explore the extensive campus of the Marriott Desert Springs.  We got back to our condo and B cooked breakfast, we found Home Alone on TV and vegged out, made some calls back home and figured out where we could eat that night searching for a spot to make dinner reservations on Thanksgiving!
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By 10:30 we were suited up and at the pool, soaking up the sun as it warmed from 75-to 91-degrees.  The pool was fairly quite, we were able to nap, cool off and just soak up the sunshine while sipping some drinks. By early afternoon we headed back up to the room to get ready for our early dinner at 4pm. We headed to Palm Springs for our dinner reservation at Eight4Nine.

Luckily they had some Thanksgiving dinner reservations available and we snagged one up for their limited 4-course menu for the evening. This modern venue is sported in all white furniture, with pops of pink and fun art throughout and a stunning patio. Our “First Impressions” was a house-made ricotta with autumn root and shishito pepper giardiniera.  The “Second Course” we were able to select from 5-choices, I went with the Pear Salad while B had the Curried Cauliflower Bisque. For the “Main Event” there were 6-mouth watering options, one of which was your Traditional Roast Turkey – as tempted as I was, I went with the Marsala Pork Tenderloin; dried plum, roasted spiced yams, greens, candied bacon, and toast pine nuts.  B went with the Sourdough-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with dungeness crab-stuffed piquillo pepper, saffron aioli, greens.  It was all so phenomenal, and we both ended withe the Bourbon Pumpkin Tart and some hot coffee to finish up our Thanksgiving meal.

It was nice being served an extravagant dinner while enjoying each others company after a day of sunshine and pool.  It was definitely a fun and a different Thanksgiving, but one for the books as Mr. & Mrs.

Planning Your Honeymoon

When planning a wedding, the honeymoon is often the second most talked about event beyond the big day.  And it is often the thing the couple ends up looking forward to, maybe even more than the wedding day? So with so much pressure on the big day, there is equal pressure for the week after.  Here are a few tips for planning your honeymoon!
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  1. Consider a Mini-Moon. Since we’re getting married in November, our dream spots aren’t in season in November or December, so we were a little bummed out.  Until family/friends were telling us we had to get away still, even if it was local in the U.S. Problem solved, tickets/resort booked! There are so many cities popping up all over the U.S. that can allow for the perfect romantic getaway you’re looking for. Oh, and you can still plan that dream spot the following year! Check out these mini-moon spots from Travel + Leisure.
  2. Go Someplace New. We are totally guilty of vacationing to the same places, so this is the perfect excuse to try someplace new.  Whether you’re keeping it in the continental U.S. or venturing over seas, there are endless places to visit.  If you’re like us, the list goes on for days of dream vacation destinations.
  3. Add It To Your Registry! With new innovative registries becoming more popular, like Zola, you can literally add a honeymoon fund to your list! This allows guests to contribute money for your dream vacation and help take off some of the financial burden for the couples dream trip.
  4. Relaxation vs. Adventure. Choosing your destination may be impacted by what you’re planning to do on your vacation.  Consider if you’ll want to strictly relax, or want to have endless options of excursions and places to visit.  A city destination will probably be more on the go vs. a warm resort town on the west coast.  If you’re looking for excursions and activities, maybe consider a mountain resort getaway or hiking through the Grand Canon or Smokey Mountains.
  5. Consider Connections.  Do you know family/friends that have vacationed in spots you’ve dreamed of going? Ask them for tips on places to stay and restaurants to visit.  Better yet, if family/friends have time shares that you can take advantage of, do it! Then you just have to worry about airfare, maybe a rental car and your day-to-day expenses! A honeymoon on a budget, is never a bad thing!

Whatever trip you plan, and wherever you end up going, will be a memorable trip!  Just remember why you’re going, it’s your first trip as husband and wife (husband/husband or wife/wife)!!

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Travel: #EmnBtoSTL

Since we flew in and out of St. Louis, we were able to spend two-days in St. Louis on our way out from the Ozarks, and a quick brunch on our way out to the lake.  Needless to say our 2-days in St. Louis were jam packed with prime tourist spots and a few off the path places.   We wish we would’ve had more time to explore, but definitely got a taste of St. Louis.

Half & Half Brunch
I had been researching some good food spots, luckily we were able to, at least attend one spot.  It was the perfect pit stop to refuel after an early morning of travel and before the drive to the lake.  The atmosphere was quaint and cozy, the service was friendly and on point, the food was amazing and wish we could’ve gone back for more!

Gateway Arch 
We popped over the the Gateway arch to start one of our days.  The last time I was in St. Louis, I was too young to remember, old photographs are all I have as a memory, so it was great to go back and appreciate the beauty.   Not to mention this was B’s first trip to the city.  We were late to the game booking a tour to go up inside the arch, but we were able to snap enough photos around the manicured greens.  This is definitely a must in STL.

Anheuser Busch Brewery
Of course we made a stop to the iconic “all-American” brewery.  This little village located on the perimeter of downtown, was an impressive site to see with many of the buildings built in the 1800’s, that by the way are in pristine condition.   The complimentary tour was the perfect combination of tradition and taste, while we began and ended our visit in the bier garden! A highlight of our stop here was touring the Clydesdale barn built in 1885, and then snapping a photo with one too!

We had a great trip at the lake, ending it with fun activities in St. Louis.  We definitely want to get back to visit a few new spots and enjoy a few again!

Travel: Lake of the Ozarks

B and I were lucky enough to take another awesome vacation this past week.  We headed west-ish for my aunt’s belated 60th birthday trip to the Lake of the Ozarks.  A first for B and I, it was a treasured childhood spot for my mom and her family growing up, with lots of memories in and around the lake!

Days consisted of bikinis, sunshine, pool gossip sessions, corn hole tournaments, cold beers, fishing and ski-dos.  One day the ladies went hiking and explored around Ha Ha Tonka State Park, climbing 317 stairs both ways, while exploring old castle ruins, breath-taking water spots and the natural bridge.
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Night’s consisted of large family dinners with St. Louis style ribs paired with incredible spreads of fresh salads, fruit, lots of beverages, including of course, Manhattans.  There were also many family stories shared, reminisced of old times, and lots of laughs.  We celebrated my Aunt’s 60th our last night at the lake, and her gratitude for everyone making the trip there, was exactly the reason we went, to create and share in family memories.

It was a great vacation, full of sunshine, awesome weather and even better company.  We can’t wait to get back to the lake!