Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

What is the Palace of Fine Arts?

This downtown San Francisco destination features a Greco-Roman style rotunda and colonnades on a peaceful pond. It was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition and is now used for concerts, events and as a public park.

This place is STUNNING. As soon as I saw a picture of it two years ago, I knew I had to go. Two trips to California went by before I was able to make it, and I’m so happy I finally did. I was in no way prepared for how magnificent it is in person. It was easy to imagine I was in Europe, it so reminded me of things I’d seen in Rome and Greece.

At sunset, the sun setting over the bay illuminated the rosy columns with gold light. The structure sits on the edge of a pond, and a walking path encircles it. Families brought bikes and scooters for the kids. It’s situated near the Golden Gate, Golden Gate Park, and the Disney Family Museum so it’s easy to swing by if you’re visiting the popular tourist destinations in San Francisco.

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

It’s a perfect place to take a stroll, and it’s free. We even got a free parking spot nearby. We were a little cold and hungry so we stayed for a half hour, long enough to take these pictures and enjoy the sights. Looking back I think we could have stayed longer. If it’s a warm day you could do a picnic here.

How to Take Photos at the Palace of Fine Arts

This is one of the most popular photo shoot destinations in the Bay Area. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we saw an engagement shoot, another fashion blogger, and a wedding shoot during the half hour we were there! That said, you’ll probably get other people in your frame. The inside of the rotunda is amazing, but make sure to check out the grounds surrounding it too for some other great shots.

What to Wear

Such a magnificent location called for a special outfit. When I found this dress at Nordstrom it instantly reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast, which was perfect because the new movie came out that weekend. I definitely wore this dress to the theater for the premiere.  (The dress also comes in black and a pattern, by the way.) I added a couple layers of tulle over it just for fun, but it also looks elegant without it.

If you saw the movie this weekend, what did you think?

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Best Gluten Free Treats in the Bay Area

Bay Area Gluten FreeI try to eat as little sugar as I can, but sometimes you just want a delicious treat! Eating gluten free means passing up many, many delicious treats. You have to look a little harder to find them, but gluten free goodies can be found in almost any city. The Bay Area has its share of gluten free delicacies, and these are my favorites.

1. Zest Bakery

I found this gem while searching for the elusive unicorn: the Gluten Free Donut. I found that and so much more at Zest Bakery in San Carlos. Everything in this place is gluten free, and some things are even dairy free, soy free or sugar free to boot. The prices were reasonable, and there was plenty of indoor and outdoor seating on a cute and quiet street. Parking was fairly easy too, even mid day on a weekend.

But let’s talk about what really matters–the quality of the gluten free baked goods! The muffins were indistinguishable from regular glutenous muffins, not an easy feat. The sandwich I bought was absolutely delicious and kept me energized for a day of sightseeing in downtown San Francisco. But most of all I want to rave about the bread–it was soft, fresh and not overly crumbly. The only disappointment at this place was the Oreo cookie, which I would skip. It wasn’t bad, but not on par with their other A-list goodies. If you are gluten free, you must try this place when you’re in the area.

2. Chantal Guillon

All macarons here are gluten free! Chantal Guillon has shops around the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Palo Alto. The hardest part is choosing which flavors you want. This is a best gluten free Bay Area destination for sure.

best gluten free bay area

3. Flour Chylde Bakery

This bakery has been around for twelve years making breads, desserts, cookies and pastries that are all gluten free. I haven’t been to their Novarto location, but I visited their booth at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market and sampled delicious cake. Their facility strives to be zero waste, which is a nice thing to support.

4. Sugarfina

A candy store for adults is the concept behind Sugarfina. Candies in little clear boxes labeled to show where around the globe the candy is sourced from are showcased around the store. The minimalist decor style is the main draw of this place, so stop in just to see the layout of the merchandise and snap an Insta-worthy pic or two. Oh, and free samples! Three locations to choose from in San Francisco, one in San Jose and more sprinkled around the U.S.

5. Timothy Adams

A picture perfect place for a first date or a friend date, this shop lured me in with its hot pink and blue decor and tempting counter full of truffles. The price is steep ($2.50 per chocolate) but the experience made it feel worth it. The truffles are smooth and memorable. Ask for your truffles to go or enjoy them in the cute dining room located at 539 Bryant Street, Palo Alto.

6. Ghiradelli

Fairly obvious, but what would a list about San Francisco be without Ghiradelli? Get a free chocolate square just for walking in the door. I’ve been to a store downtown and also Ghiradelli square. Both are fun but Ghiradelli square is a waterfront tourist destination with street musicians, shopping, and views of the Bay. There is a Ghiradelli chocolate souvenir shop and ice cream cafe there, but the actual chocolate factory is no longer onsite.

Have a favorite place you want to share? Make sure to contact me in the comments below.

A New Minneapolis Hotel + A Giveaway

I love saving money on travel, but what I don’t love is scouring the internet for hours to find the best deals. I just became a member of a rewards program that offers Members Only Rate Exclusive (MORE) – 10% off the best available price on hotel rooms within the brand. Which means saving more without scouring, thank goodness. Make sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win 30,000 rewards points of your own!

Club Carlson Perks

This program was ranked one of the top three hotel rewards programs by by U.S. News and World Reports for 2015-2016. One of the reasons is the program’s flexibility. You can use points not only for free hotel stays, but for other travel costs like TSA Pre-Check application fees, airline miles and more.

Radisson Red Opening in Downtown Minneapolis

I’m also excited to share that one of the Carlson hotel brands is opening a new hotel in downtown Minneapolis December 2016. It’s kiddie corner to the Old Spaghetti Factory which was a total staple of my college life, but I’m way more excited to check out the Radisson’s onsite kitchen + bar serving fresh, locally sourced, sustainable food inspired by global street fare. I like the trend of more hotels sourcing food from local farmers.

minneapolis travel itineraryI have some other suggestions for a Minneapolis travel itinerary. This hotel is steps away from the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum, and Gold Medal Park which are all right along the river and within walking distance to my favorite destination, the Stone Arch bridge (pictured above). So it’s going to be ideal for Twin Cities vacationers, but it’s also just a short cab ride or from the convention center and the University of Minnesota (pictured below). And if you’re wondering, yes, the hotel is pet friendly!university-of-minnesota-the-pink-paperdoll-blogGiveaway!

Congratulations giveaway winner Tracie Cooper, I hope you enjoy your 30,000 rewards points on a getaway somewhere you’ll love!

What to Wear & Do in San Francisco

What to wear in San FranciscoI was inspired to share this look today for a couple of reasons. First is that it’s the time of year I need to remember how to dress for fall. Like, I’ve actually forgotten. Please send help and something pumpkin spice flavored to jog my memory. Second is that today is Felt Hat day! I’ve been getting a lot of cross-seasonal use out of this felt hat that I first featured as part of a snowy winter ensemble.

Whenever I travel somewhere new, I always make note of what the locals are wearing and what I’m comfortable wearing in that city. If I make a return trip, I feel way more prepared with what to pack. Here is what I personally recommend for what to wear in San Francisco.

What to wear in San FranciscoWhat to Wear in San Francisco

Downtown is almost always windy and chilly, so I like a lightweight scarf and a hat.

A leather jacket is pretty perfect because it provides the right amount of wind protection and style.

Flat shoes or short boots are a must have. Promise me you won’t even try to wear heels, unless you bring a backup pair in your bag.

The perfect accessory for this outfit was a gold bar necklace courtesy of A-List Greek. The company specializes in sorority lettered jewelry. They can also custom stamp your initials, roman numerals of your anniversary, or map coordinates. Mine has my initials on it. The modern and minimal design just felt right with the black outfit. I’ve since experimented by layering it with other necklaces too which also works really well!

What to wear in San FranciscoCompared to other cities, I describe San Francisco as fashionable yet casual. Wear what you want and make being comfortable a priority, because you won’t enjoy the pretty views of the Bay if you’re cold!

 

My two favorite places to visit in San Francisco

The places to see in San Francisco are endless, but there are two favorites of mine that I have to share. The Palace of Fine Arts is a must see — read the post here. 

My other favorite is Alamo Square, best known for the iconic Victorians known as the painted ladies. It’s probably one of the most Instagrammable views in the city too. My most popular Instagram photo ever was taken in Alamo Square.

There’s a big park on the hill with amazing views of the city. It’s a peaceful oasis in the midst of the business. Dog lovers will enjoy Alamo Square, because it’s a popular spot to bring dogs — there’s even an unfenced section of the park where they’re allowed to run off leash. So if you’re looking for a downtown San Francisco dog park, this is one dog friendly spot I recommend!

What are your tips for things to do and what to wear in San Francisco?

For more travel explorations, check out where to shop in San Francisco and where to find the best desserts in San Francisco.

Pick Your Own Berries Season

What to wear berry pickingSummer isn’t complete until I’ve gone blueberry picking at least once. Maybe it’s because I grew up near a pick-your-own berry farm, or more likely because there’s no other food in the world I like quite as much as blueberries. There’s also just something so rewarding about being involved in procuring the berries you eat and seeing the land where it’s grown.

The season varies every year for blueberry picking, because the crops are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. I’ve been picking in the Pacific Northwest as early as June and in Wisconsin as late as August. Some years there hasn’t been a crop at all, which is disappointing to say the least!

The general rule for the Midwest is early summer strawberries, mid summer blueberries and late summer raspberries. So not to worry if you’ve missed strawberries and blueberries where you live, there might still be raspberries on the horizon.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of faithful berry picking.

what to wear berry pickingWhat to wear berry picking

When choosing what to wear berry picking, consider clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. Blue and black clothes for blueberry picking work out well. Pants or shorts are ideal because picking berries can require crouching and sitting on the ground.

A hat to keep the bugs and sun off your face. Need hat inspiration? Here are three of my  favorites, at different price points:

What to bring:

Bug spray.

A cooler with a tray and/or container to transport your berries home in.

Cash, as some berry farms don’t take credit cards.

A small child or two. Berry picking is a fun activity for little ones, so give the kids in your life a chance to learn about farming, food production and nature if you can!

What to leave at home:

Your pets! Most farms don’t allow dogs.

Picking baskets and buckets. The farm will supply these, though you can bring your own if you prefer.

What to know:

Call ahead! Most berry farms are small family operations that will close if they get picked out or if there’s inclement weather. Before you drive way out into the country, confirm that the farm will be open when you get there.

Not all farms are pesticide free, so do your research ahead of time if you prefer organic produce.

what to wear berry pickingWhere to pick:

Find farms near you at pickyourown.org.

What berries are in season near you?

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