Did you know that Philadelphia has the most public murals in the country? The impressive Mural Arts program beautifies every inch of the city, along with some impressive street artists. Whether you’re driving, walking, or riding the train around, you’ll see some beautiful public artwork for sure. Spring is the best time to head to Philly to see some of the murals. Since it’s before the summer begins, it’s not crowded and the weather is just right for taking a stroll. [Read more…]
Whenever I plan a trip anywhere, my number one priority is what to eat. No, I’m not a foodie; I just like to eat a good meal. It’s also not just about what we’re eating, it’s also about the atmosphere. I love going to places that have history, are fun, have something unique that will be a feast not only for my stomach but my eyes too. When I started planning where to eat in Pittsburgh, I looked for classic, must-eat places, and newer, trendy spots. Where to eat in Pittsburgh was all about tasty and fun and I think I found it.
Today’s the day I FINALLY share a weekend guide to Pittsburgh, after our amazing long weekend trip last month. It was the perfect road trip destination: plenty of fun things to do, lots of delicious food, and just far enough. Since we were saving for our house last year and before that a wedding, we put off on taking lots of trips. It was mostly weekend explorations and one big trip each year: Belize for our honeymoon and Los Angeles and San Diego last summer. I decided that 2017 will be the unofficial year of trips, big and small. Our first small trip was a long weekend in Pittsburgh and it was the perfect start.
Weekend road trips are great. Big vacations are even better. But until I win the lottery, road trips and vacations don’t happen all the time. That’s why I’m all about the quick trip or mini adventure. Two weekends ago, I took a five hour trip to Pittsburgh which was fun but this weekend it was great to drive 30 minutes to Philly. This weekend’s perfect quick trip was to explore a new craft distillery in Philly: New Liberty Distilling in Kensington.
Why does it feel like it’s been winter for a million years? Besides getting a bucketful of the white stuff last Thursday, it’s cold and chilly and not pretty. The weather is making me a terrible homebody. I am speeding through my “must watch” list on Netflix at an alarming rate. A little rest and relaxation is good, of course. But when the couch is starting to mold to your behind, you’ve got to get out. In January I was all about my Philadelphia winter plans but I’m going to keep it a little closer to home with my New Jersey winter bucket list.
I will never stop being grateful for where I live. My small NJ town is right on the Northeast corridor, meaning access to several east coast cities. While I’m always heading to Philadelphia, New York City is not much farther away. Heading into the city is a family tradition. Many Sundays in my childhood were spent in the car travelling up the turnpike. I would press my face to the window waiting for the skyline to come into view. Getting to the city is even easier now since I can hop on a train and emerge in midtown Manhattan eighty minutes later. So that’s just what we decided to do for a lazy New York City Sunday.
The best part about New York City right now is that my brother lives there. It’s funny; I always imagined that I would be the one living in the big city. Somehow I landed in this cozy suburban life. This suits me just fine since the city is close enough for a visit and I have someone to see!
For our lazy New York City Sunday, we didn’t make many plans besides sticking to the west side. That’s an area of the city that I had already spent some time in and wanted to see more. This worked for my brother since he spends most of his time on the Upper East Side. Our first stop was the Upper West Side for brunch. Even though we had to get up ridiculously early to get from the suburbs to a city brunch, it was so worth it. We picked Jacob’s Pickles, a fancy, cramped, absolutely delicious little spot. It’s basically the size of a little row home and they pack you in at long communal tables. The kitchen serves up southern comfort food and the portions are HUGE. I can never say no to a breakfast sandwich, especially when it’s served on a buttermilk biscuit. My ham, egg, and cheese sandwich was the size of my plate and absolutely delicious. Even though I was bumping elbows with strangers, it was such a perfect Sunday brunch spot. The coffee wasn’t half bad either.
After brunch, we decided to take a walk around Columbia University’s campus. It’s a few blocks up from Jacob’s Pickles but we needed the exercise after packing away brunch. Plus, if we hadn’t walked, we wouldn’t have seen Tom’s Restaurant. Tom’s was the exterior shot for the diner on Seinfeld. Apparently there’s a booth inside with a plaque for the show but we definitely didn’t need to stop to eat.
Columbia itself was such a quiet oasis on a lazy New York City Sunday. I had never been so it was fun to explore the campus. We wandered down pathways and looked at all the different types of architecture, from the classic to the modern. Definitely something to see if you’re in the Upper West Side! Then it was time to catch the subway down to the lower West Side for more exploring!
A quick thirty minute subway ride took us from up to down and we were in the West Village. This area of NYC is one of my favorites: little boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and funky restaurants. The streets are perfect for wandering and those brick buildings are my dream city digs…if only I could afford it!
This area of New York is the kind of place where you can wander and discover the best hidden spots. One of my favorite streets is Bleecker Street. My guys were more than happy to head over there because of Blind Tiger. It’s one of the best craft beer bars in the city with plenty of rare drafts. It’s pretty tight and gets packed easily (notice a theme in NYC?) but a dreary Sunday afternoon was a good time to visit. Their fireplace was also blazing away so I was in heaven. If you happen to be on the hunt for great food and food shopping in the city, Bleecker Street is a must. Murray’s Cheese Shop, Amy’s Bread, and Faicco’s meat shop are all on one block here. Need I say more? We also stumbled upon a David’s Teas shop and I can’t believe I didn’t get a single thing. Maybe it was because Nick told me I would have to carry it for the rest of the day. Talk about putting the lazy in lazy Sunday!
Another highlight from Bleecker Street was Tacombi. On a cold and wet day, stepping into Tacombi was like taking a flight to Mexico. I instantly fell head over heels for the chips and guac! Again, if you’re looking for a spot in the city, add this to your list! The next stop after guac and tacos was Houston Hall for a pint because what else do you do on a lazy New York City Sunday? This big German-styled beer hall brews its own beer. I wish I had taken more photos because it was a pretty fun spot. However, they were playing the NFL playoff games on big projectors and it was LOUD. I think I’m very quickly turning into a grandma since I just couldn’t handle it. Or more likely I’ve always been a grandma and just owning up to it now.
After Houston Hall, we did a lot of wandering around. That’s why I love New York City: you can wander around and never run out of things to see. Besides our explorations in the West Village, we also wandered through Chelsea Market, grabbed drinks at Tipsy Parson, and devoured meatballs at The Meatball Shop. Many times the best adventures are the ones you don’t plan. This is definitely the case for me and an easy New York City Sunday.
What city adventures have been your favorite?
Winter and I do not get along. Between the slush, bundling in layers, and winter colds, it just isn’t my favorite part of the year. However, until I strike it rich and permanently move to Hawaii, I’m going to have to put up with winter. Now just “putting up” with something is not my thing either. Some may call it spoiled but I want things my way. So rather than just “put up” with winter, I decided I am going to conquer this whole winter thing.
I thought about grabbing some blankets, switching on Netflix, and ignoring the cold. I did try that and it lasted for all of half a Saturday. To go three whole months buried under blankets on my couch just won’t do. Instead I’m going to conquer the season with one of my favorite things: the bucket list. I’m creating two winter bucket lists: one for Philly and one for New Jersey. Today I’m sharing my winter bucket list for Philly!
Travel has always been a part of my life. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family trips. We ate croissants in bed in our Paris hotel. We watched the fog roll in on Cannon Beach in Oregon. We marveled at castles in the German countryside. I was comfortable staying in hotels and sitting in airports for hours. I was extremely lucky to have parents who loved to travel. I was also lucky that they could afford to take my brother and me along for the ride.
Now my life is a little more complicated. As a teacher, travelling can be tough. My days off are prime time for family vacations and this means places tend to be more crowded and pricier. That’s forced me to be more creative with the idea of travel. We don’t always take big vacations (though we’re always saving and planning). Sometimes travel looks more like adventures around our hometown.
It’s been a summer of really cool things over here. From travelling to LA to travelling back in time, this summer was busy and awesome. Summer 2016 became even more amazing when I finally got a chance to visit the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum. The Cooper Hewitt has been on my museum list for awhile. Um, anyone else keep a list of museums to visit?
The Cooper Hewitt is located on the Upper East Side in New York City nestled among other famed museums like the Met and the Guggenheim on Museum Mile. It is the only museum in the country devoted to design. What does that mean? Anything and everything designed with a purpose, from birdcages to pencil sharpeners, is housed under its roof. Yes, I did say pencil sharpeners. This museum showcases human creativity for everything from the mundane to the spectacular. Did I mention they do it all under the roof of Andrew Carnegie’s 5th avenue mansion?
Have you ever been to a place that feels like you’re walking into a real life Instagram photo? The Creamery at Kennett Square is one of those places. It’s a beer, wine, and cocktail garden housed in an old dairy creamery in the suburbs of Philly. Open Thursday through Sunday, it has food trucks, live music in the evening, and of course delicious drinks. While it can close in the event of rain, it’s open and airy, just the perfect summer spot. The Creamery at Kennett Square is somewhere you’re going to visit this summer.
What would it be like to travel back in time? Even though time travel has yet to be this weekend felt pretty darn close when I went to Jazz Age on the Delaware, Glen Foerd’s annual fundraiser. Located in northeast Philadelphia, the Glen Foerd mansion is a gorgeous late 19th century mansion overlooking the Delaware river. You could not pick a more idyllic setting outside the hustle of the city! Every year they host their fundraiser called Jazz Age on the Delaware that brings guests back in time. Guests are encouraged to wear period attire, dance to jazz music, and stroll the grounds. I was so excited to be invited to this event this year and to get a chance to dress up like a Jazz age lady. [Read more…]
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew someone in every city? You’d get the local’s perspective on what to do, what to see, where to eat, and where to stay. Instead of going to the usual tourist traps, you can discover all the secret hidden gems that make each U.S. city unique. While we’d all love to know someone in every major city, it’s usually impossible. That’s where bloggers come in. I’ve got five amazing blogs you should be following if you’re planning your next trip to one of these American cities.
This is the third, final, and, dare I say, most important post about our California trip. Today I’m sharing all about the San Diego breweries we visited. While we certainly didn’t hit them all (there are about 130 breweries in the area!) we definitely found some great ones. Even though craft beer wasn’t the main focus of our trip, I’ll admit that it was one of the deciding factors for a California trip.
San Diego is an area at the forefront of the craft beer scene. With roughly 130 small to medium to large-ish breweries in the area, we had to decide where to go. We also really only had two and a half days to visit craft breweries so we had to decide which ones were going to make the cut. Here’s our criteria for the visit: either a well-known brewery or a recommended, local brewery. Those rules served us well and we saw and sipped some pretty incredible craft beer at San Diego breweries.
When I plan a vacation, I know not to leave a lot of downtime. Nick and I went on two vacations where we did the whole drink-by-the-pool-all-day thing: our very first vacation and our honeymoon. Every other vacation was packed full of adventures. Our California trip was no different. We only had three days to explore Los Angeles where in between we were in San Diego and southern California.
We chose to stay in this area for two reasons: visiting my grandmother in Carlsbad and seeing (or maybe more appropriately sipping) the beer culture of San Diego. There wasn’t a single day where we just sat and relaxed and I’m totally okay with that. Our travel bucket list is long and who knows when we’ll make it back to California?!?
What we saw and loved in Southern California
Sun, sand, surf: the essentials for a great summer and a great vacation. For our summer vacation this year, Nick and I decided to follow this formula when planning which is how we ended up hopping a plane at the end of June and landed in southern California. Los Angeles and southern California has long been on our list of travel destinations (along with about 100 other spots!). The timing for this trip turned out to be perfect; low air fares, hotel deals, and good weather combined to move Los Angeles to the top of the list. The other factor in our trip planning is that my grandmother lives about two hours south of LA and forty minutes from San Diego. Since she doesn’t travel to the east coast anymore, I haven’t seen her in years.
As we planned out our trip, our idea was to fly into Los Angeles, spend about two days there before heading down to my grandma’s and the San Diego area. Since we were flying in and out of Los Angeles, we got a chance to go back to the LA area and spend another day there. The whole California adventure was a whirlwind and, while we racked up quite a few hours in the car, it was exactly the kind of trip Nick and I love. It was full of adventure, delicious food and drinks, and a whole lot of together time.
What to do/see/eat in Los Angeles in 3 days
Did you know that there are over 4,000 craft breweries currently open and operating in the U.S.? No, well, neither did I until I looked it up after realizing that I live within thirty minutes of about 10 different craft breweries or brewpubs. This is a fact that I’m pretty happy with because, well, craft beer is fun.
I’ve shared a lot of my brewery visits on my blog over the years from our Bucks County brewery road trip to my favorite Philly spots. Breweries are great places to spend a Saturday hanging with friends (or your husband, like me) and, though not really advertised for families, there are almost always families with babies and kids running around. Nick and I have visited most breweries in the immediate area and have started going a little further to find something new and delicious to sip on our free Saturday afternoons. That’s what lead us out to Ambler, PA and the adorable small craft brewery in an old Victorian that is Forest & Main.
Nobody in their right mind would call me spontaneous. I live for my planner, adore schedules, and read reviews like it’s my job. However I also realize that you can’t plan everything in life. Especially if you are insanely overwhelmed by having a million and one things on your plate. When planning something as easy as what to have for dinner makes you shed a tear or two (true story), you need to take a break and you need to be spontaneous. Which is why it’s perfectly okay to plan absolutely nothing for your trip to NYC, even if you’re type A, because you’re going to have an amazing time.
A few weekends ago, Nick and I decided to kick aside cabin fever and venture out. While we would normally go stroll around the streets of Philadelphia, the piles of snow make it hard to get to our favorite spots and make finding parking a drag. So that meant we needed to head in a totally different direction: down the Shore.
We’d been hearing rumors of breweries opening up along the Shore and discovered two: Dark City Brewing Company in Asbury Park and Little Dog Brewing Company in Neptune. These two breweries are both pretty small but have fun tasting rooms and some really decadent beers on tap.
Small Town NJ is back! At least for today since I found these photos from a trip to Haddonfield in October that I never got to share. It’s so exciting to bring you the small town charm of Haddonfield which is just a hop and a skip over the bridge from Philadelphia. It’s got all the ingredients for a charming NJ town: tree-lined street, local boutiques, local restaurants and cozy coffee shops, and historic character. Haddonfield has a great local vibe of a community that cares about its residents with the convenience and thrill of being minutes from a major city. There’s no way I could have not featured Haddonfield in the Small Town series!
This is my second One Day in Philly post and I’m so excited to bring you to a whole new section of the city. In the first post, I took you to the historic heart of Philly. Today we’re travelling a little farther north from the center of Philly to explore the Philly of today.
If you know anything about Philadelphia and the changes its undergone in the last decade or so, you’ll know that more and more young people are moving to the city. Philly is much more affordable than nearby cities like New York and DC so it makes it possible for a lot of artists, musicians, and creative entrepreneurs to call the city home. Some of these artsy people like craft beer, shopping in thrift stores, and trying every type of vegan restaurant known to man. These people are what you might call hipsters. And if you want to get a taste for this subculture that Urban Outfitters happily rips off, this guide for one day in Philly’s hipster hangouts is for you. [Read more…]
Where I went in 2015 was both exotic and familiar and far and near. Every year I hope to plan more travel than the year before and I think I (kind of) succeeded in 2015. Usually Nick and I plan one big vacation a year and then plan a few smaller road trips throughout. Lucky for us, we got to plan a honeymoon so our big trip was extra big. We also took some time to explore places we knew pretty well and discovered some new-to-us places along the way. [Read more…]
I’ve shared a lot of my love for Philadelphia, the city to my south, over the years. My goal has always been to encourage others to visit this area and to see more of what the city and New Jersey have to offer. I want you to come here and see it all for yourself! But sometimes planning a vacation is simply overwhelming. There are so many questions you ask yourself: where should I stay? Where do I start my day? How many things can I see in one day? What do I do if I’m hungry? What should I avoid? And most of all, where do I even start? All of these questions start popping up as soon as you start planning my vacations whether they are weekend trips or two week stays. Now I love the planning and research phase of vacation but what if you don’t? My friends who are not planners tend to hit up a travel agent or stay to the tried-and-true activities wherever they may be. Talk about expensive and boring!
Mixing all that together in my mind, from my love of Philadelphia to my love of planning, and you’ve got my new One Day in Philly mini series. In a few posts I’ll be sharing a day’s worth of activities, eateries, and shopping for your trip to Philly. So whatever kind of tourist you want to be, old school, hipster, or foodie, you’ll find a way to explore Philadelphia and see why I love this city.
Explore a City that Built a Nation!
Several weeks ago, Nick and I ventured down to Virginia for a mini weekend road trip. Our first stop was Fredericksburg to explore and visit my alma mater. Sunday we decided to venture an hour or so south of Fredericksburg to Virginia’s capitol, Richmond and the particular area known as Carytown. I’d only been to Richmond a handful of times and Nick had never been. We love exploring new cities so, even though we knew we’d face hellish traffic heading back north (and boy did we ever!), we headed down I-95 to explore this Virginia city.
It’s the usual boring Saturday in New Jersey and you’re not sure what to do. The beaches are cold and the boardwalk is closed. Atlantic City is smokey and boring. Philadelphia and New York City just feel too far. You and your friends could go to a bar but why not go to the source? It’s time to make a beer run to some New Jersey craft breweries.
Exploring breweries and having a taste of their goods is one of my favorite Saturday hobbies. In recent years, New Jersey’s alcohol distribution laws have loosened to allow for many craft beer enthusiasts to open high quality craft breweries all over the state. Today I’m sharing a day drinking route to some of the best of New Jersey craft breweries. Pack your growlers, a bag of pretzels, and your designated driver for a day of hops and malts.
First stop: River Horse Brewing Company, 2 Graphics Drive, Ewing
River Horse has been in this corporate office warehouse for a a few years since relocating from their original spot in Lambertville. They offer tours and tastings by reservation so be sure to check out their website before you go.
Be sure to sample: IPA, Hop Hazard, Summer Blonde (seasonal), Oatmeal Milk Stout (seasonal)
Second stop: Third State Brewing, 352 High Street, Burlington
Third State is one of the newest brew houses on the block but don’t let it’s newbie status keep you away. The beer is solid and it’s right off the New Jersey Transit River Line. It’s also worth a trip to see the slowly transforming Burlington City downtown and watch some ships travel along the Delaware River.
Be sure to sample: Jay’s Porter, 352 hIgh PA, London Tenth Red
Third Stop: Carton Brewing Company, 6 E. Washington Avenue, Atlantic Highlands
Okay, so it’s a long drive across the state from Burlington City to Atlantic Highlands so you’re okay to break this into a two day trip (especially if you find yourself enjoying Third State and River Horse too much). But you MUST get your beer-loving self to Atlantic Highlands. Carton’s operation is tiny; it’s located in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse across from the local elementary school. The upstairs tasting room is…cozy but that’s part of the experience.
Be sure to sample: Boat, Carton of Milk, Red Rye Returning
Fourth Stop: Kane Brewing Company, 1750 Bloomsbury Avenue, Ocean Township
Kane is an insanely popular brewery about four miles from the beach. Every time I’ve been there, the warehouse space has been packed with people and for good reason: quality beers that are easily accessible for every type of beer (or non-beer) drinker.
Be sure to sample: Head High, Overhead
Fifth Stop: Beach Haus Brewery, 801 Main Street, Belmar
If you thought Kane was close to the beach, Beach Haus is just four or five blocks from the Belmar boardwalk. This may be one of my favorite breweries because of its laid-back atmosphere and delicious beers. The brewery is in a renovated bakery warehouse with a downstairs retail space and an upstairs tasting room. The outside deck is fantastic when the weather is nice but the inside loft tasting room is a great place to relax and drink. When you get hungry, just venture across the parking lot to Tenth Avenue Burrito or Jersey Shore BBQ.
Be sure to sample: Herb’s Rye, Kick Back Ale, Winter Rental
If you were trying to find the perfect thing for you and your friends to do on any given Saturday, touring New Jersey craft breweries is the perfect solution. As with most places, check ahead to make sure the brewery is not closed for a private event and make sure you have a willing designated driver who will put up with your I’ve-had-too-many-samples humor.
Cheers to great New Jersey beers!
For obvious reasons, your college town will always have a special place in your heart. It’s the first place you ventured out into with brand-new friends, got taken out on a “real” date, and flashed your I’m-finally-legal-to-drink ID. Picture perfect or not, it’s where big changes happened in your life and you’re not going to forget it. Lucky for me my college town is pretty beautiful and it’s always a treat to head back and see what’s new.