Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Twin Cities Vacation Tips & a Giveaway

Twin CitiesSo you’re going to plan a Twin Cities vacation. As a local, I’m divulging my best tips for your stay. And there’s even a really exciting giveaway involved with Country Inn & Suites. Are you in?

Where to Stay

twin cities vacationThe post sponsor’s Minneapolis West location in Plymouth which is nicely situated just west of Minneapolis. It’s a quick drive downtown, but it’s also even closer to the beautiful Lake Minnetonka, which picturesque in any season but especially summer. You might end up spending some quality time in the hotel though since it has an outdoor fireplace patio, indoor pool and other amenities.

Things to Do

The Lake Minnetonka area has been a premiere tourist destination since the 1800s. See downtown Wayzata’s Lake Street for shopping, ice cream, boat tours and stand up paddle board rentals.

In Minneapolis, you have to check out the Stonearch Bridge, St. Anthony Main and Boom Island Park–three of my absolute favorite places.

Where to Eat

twin cities vacationMy favorite hotel amenity? Free breakfast! It’s such a time saver while traveling, leaving more precious time for sightseeing. Keep reading to see a photo of the Country Inn & Suites breakfast room, it’ll make you hungry for waffles.

If you eat breakfast at the hotel, you’ll only need to find lunch and dinner. My out of town guests have enjoyed Brasa in Minneapolis and St. Paul and Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. For a sweet treat during your Twin Cities vacation, check out Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe in Hopkins.

Hotel Stay Giveaway

This might be my biggest giveaway yet! In partnership with Country Inn & Suites, I’m giving away a 2-night hotel stay at any Country Inn & Suites location. To enter, just follow these steps:

      1. Visit Country Inn & Suites to find a location you’d love to visit.
      2. Comment below which location you might choose to stay at if you win!

Ends 8/1/2016

twin cities vacationIf you love to travel, check out my guides for San Francisco and the Oregon coast.

Sailing the Summer Seas

Did you spend your July 4th on the water? I have memories of boating on pontoons and motor boats on the lake in Minnesota. Lake life is a beloved summer tradition in the state, after all. But until recently, I’d never been on a sailboat.

When I got invited to go sailing in the Bay Area, I was reluctant to go at first. Mostly this was because my dad told me what a bone-chillingly cold experience sailing the Bay can be. Luckily I had an experienced racing crew to take me and I was able to borrow a windbreaker, waterproof overalls, and dinghy shoes (a type of soft rubber boot). I added a flamingo print scarf and lots of layers so I wasn’t cold at all my first time sailing. Just to prove that it happened, here’s all my gear. Not my finest outfit of the day, but sometimes practicality is called for.

first time sailingThe race was intense because boats can come within feet of each other on the course. I wasn’t prepared for how the boat tipped precariously while turning. But the crew assured me that the vessel’s heavy bottom kept it from capsizing, unlike a dinghy we saw overturned completely (everyone was okay).

Sailing at sunset past the Bay Bridge, I felt connected to nature in a whole new way. We were free, gliding on wind and water with the seagulls into the dusk. Sailing is very much a here-and-now experience. There’s no checking your phone or dwelling on the past or future–there’s only time to focus on working with your teammates on what needs to be done right now.

When we docked back in Redwood City (pictured above), there was a great sense of camaraderie between all the teams as they shared sailing stories over dinner at the yacht club. I was glad I experienced something new, and grateful to the kindness of the boat crew for taking me in for my first time sailing. Having resources to help you on new boating adventures makes all the difference! Here are some enjoyable links for beginning to advanced boaters:

Discover Boating Resources

Helpful boating videos, including how to tie knots and boating communication basics.

Kids can learn skills for a lifetime of boating. Just pop in your zip code to find youth program resources in your area.

Find boating opportunities near you.

Take a fun and interactive questionnaire to discover a watercraft right for your lifestyle and budget.

(And read more about my San Francisco discoveries here.)

first time sailing

Where to Shop in San Francisco

Where to Shop San FranciscoOne of my favorite things to do when I’m visiting another city is stroll down streets looking for little places that can’t be found anywhere else. I’ll share my favorite hidden gems with you in my Where to Shop guides, so you can save some time searching for them. My Where to Shop San Francisco guide features a men’s haberdashery, an eclectic vintage shop, and more.

Best Un-Touristy Souvenirs

Jackson Polk

Head to a very touristy place, Ghiradelli Square, to get some delightfully un-touristy souvenirs. First let me clarify that I actually enjoy kitschy tourist shops. I collected spoons for a good decade of my childhood, so that should tell you how comfortable I am with cliche souvenirs. However, once you’ve seen one cable car pencil sharpener and Alcatraz handcuff key chain you’ve seen them all. At Ghiradelli Square’s Jackson & Polk you’ll find a modern, design-conscious take on Golden State souvenirs made by local artists. Pick up a Golden Gate Bridge embroidery kit, a San Francisco art print, or a dainty California state pendant.

Best Vintage Shop

Best Vintage Shop in San Francisco

Open by appointment only, Torso has unique items that have been carefully curated and displayed. The prices range up to $5000, so be sure to share your budget with the staff upon arrival. Most things are on the high end of pricing, since the store specializes in well-preserved designer items. Vintage hats, purses, beaded gowns and jewelry adorn the top floor. The lower level is home to day wear and more affordable pieces. Prices are unmarked, which is a practice I disagree with. There are easier-to-shop and more affordable places in the city, but the range of merchandise here is definitely worth a look if you’re nearby.

Best Men’s Apparel

Where to shop San Francisco

If you’re a fan of men’s fine clothing, stop in Cable Car Clothiers just to check out the way they merchandise their rainbow of silk ties, cuff links, and pocket squares. A barber shop is nestled into the front of the high end men’s clothing store. The rest of the place is practically a museum dedicated to the golden age of San Francisco men’s fashion. With the vintage decorations and attention to detail, you almost expect a 1950s businessman to walk in the front door. He’d certainly be right at home here.

Do you have a favorite shopping destination in the Bay Area? I’d love to hear from you!

Where to shop in san francisco

10 Travel Themed Mother’s Day Gifts

Travel themed mother's day giftsThis post includes affiliate links, from which I receive a tiny paper doll-sized commission if readers follow through with a purchase.

Whether she is an avid world traveler or a homebody with big dreams, travel-themed gifts are a fun way to show the mom in your life that she means the world to you.

If you can’t give her a trip to her favorite destination, get her something that reminds her of it! She’ll be reminded of a special place and a special person (you!) so it’s a win all around. On the other hand, if you ARE gifting plane tickets or a promise to drive to your favorite seaside getaway this summer, choose an adorable destination-inspired gift to help you announce the big surprise. Either way, these travel themed mother’s day gifts are fun to give and receive!

1. Airmail Jewelry Organizer

travel themed mothers day giftsAirmail is an ultra adorable travel-themed touch. I still fondly remember and miss my Kate Spade airmail iPhone 4 case from 2012! For home or travel, jewelry organizers are always a useful gift.

2. Paris Skirt

Fair is World's Fair SkirtBonjour, mom’s new favorite skirt! Enchanté. With a view of the Eiffel tower and Sacre Coeur on the skyline, this skirt is practically like taking a trip to Paris. Add macarons for the perfect present pairing.

3. Hot Air Balloons Weekend Bag

Keepsake on the Sunny Side Weekend BagRemind her of Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta with a cute bag that will come in useful for weekends in the southwest or really anywhere.

4. Artsy Wallet

travel themed mother's day giftsKeep all travel receipts and documents organized in a pretty wallet. The motifs on this remind me of hand painted Mexican pottery.

5. Tropical Beach Tote

Travel themed mother's day giftsYou can’t go wrong with pink and palm trees, especially if mom loves L.A. or Palm Beach!

6. Camera Necklace

And That's a Snap! NecklaceNow she can play tourist whenever she feels like it, with a cute camera around her neck. I have a camera charm necklace of my own and it’s one of my favorites–a great conversation starter.

7. Map Necklace

No Place Like Roam NecklaceFor the globe trotter, this gorgeous statement necklace brings the freedom of the open road to any outfit mom wants to wear. Bonus, you can borrow it from her when she’s not wearing it.

8. London Earrings

Here to Cheerio You Up Earring SetFor the London lover, these earrings are fit for Queen Mom. Serve her a Mother’s Day tea to go with it!

9. Juicy Stationary

The Moment of Fruit Notecard SetAs charming as postcards from a tropical vacation, these note cards are reminiscent of family picnics, summer vacations and Hawaiian getaways.

10. Be Adventurous

Ready, Frame, Admire! Wall Decor in AdventureFrom the Rockies to the Alps, this rustic framed print reminds us that there are always new horizons to explore.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Open Streets Minneapolis

Open Streets MinneapolisOpen Streets Minneapolis street fair

Last weekend I volunteered at the University of Minnesota’s Open Streets Minneapolis. Sponsored by the Minneapolis Bike Coalition, the free festival has a route that’s closed to all motorized traffic. Only bicycle, skateboard and pedestrian traffic is allowed, giving visitors a chance to leisurely stroll the streets and explore. This was one of many Open Streets festivals that happen around the city.

Local businesses and outside vendors offer food, entertainment and information. Some, but not all, is bicycle-related. One nice perk for cyclists is a booth offering free bike repairs!

Perry and I found some mini street signs. Luckily he wasn’t interested in the fire hydrant.

Open Streets MinneapolisHe also made friends with a Jimmy John’s delivery guy, who sadly did not have any doggy sandwiches in his backpack.

105_1074 (2)A juggler entertained crowds both with his ability to juggle four balls and his floral shirt style sense.

105_1087 (2)Cheerful volunteers were ready to point people in the right directions, whether on bicycle or foot.

If you want to play tourist in your own city or are coming from out of town to explore new neighborhoods, Open Streets Minneapolis offers a fresh way to see the city.

The very last Open Streets Minneapolis of the season is taking place September 26th, 2015. Find out more information at http://www.openstreetsmpls.org.

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