The Best of Cabo San Lucas; three must visit Cabo destinations.

The Best of Cabo San Lucas; three must visit Cabo destinations.

We recently went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a destination wedding and boy was it the most fun! I was there with all of my college best friends for five days of sunshine, tequila, and so many tacos. It was the perfect way to spend my fourth of July long weekend.

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Living my best life in Cabo San Lucas

When I think of destination weddings I think of a small group of people that travel for the wedding, that was not the case here. This was a very large group of people that came to Mexico to celebrate one of my favorite couples.

The large group that traveled to Mexico for the wedding had tons of opinions and suggestions of what had to be seen and where we had to go. Luckily we were very specific about what restaurants we went to or where we spent our time. The trip as a whole was amazing but there were three specific things that really stuck out to me!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone visits a major city for 48 hours and suddenly knows “all the best places” because that seems so unrealistic. This is not one of those posts! I just don’t understand how someone can visit a major metropolitan area and instantly become a subject matter expert.

There were three places in Cabo that were recommended to us that I fell in love with and would like to visit every month. I was SO impressed with these three experiences.

Tacos Guss

I like to think of myself as an Al Pastor Taco Connoisseur and this place was my mecca. Right inside the town, this little hole in the wall is serving perfect, simple tacos. The tacos come out with just the meat and the tortilla and then they bring out a large board with all of the toppings and salsas. I think the trick to Tacos Guss is they really focus on the basics, there is nothing fancy or gimmicky about this place they just focus on really delicious, authentic Mexican food.

Boat Ride to the Arches

At all the hotels and resorts they will advertise arches tours for $50 – $60 but the real trick is to show up at the marina and jump on a smaller boat for $10 – $15 dollars. This hour-long ride took us so close and personal to the rocks and sea life right off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. I thought my geologist husband would be blown away by the beautiful rock formations but he was much more impressed with the boat drivers navigating abilities.

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Boat ride to the Cabo San Lucas Arches

Sunset Cocktails at Mona Lisa Smile

I’ll be the first one to admit when my friends were telling me that we were leaving our resort to go to a different resort 10 minutes away to have cocktails, I wasn’t super into it. My thought process was I could sit here and drink the same cocktail but never the less I went. Boy was I blown away. We were whisked off to the restaurant up the road just in time for a beautiful Cabo San Lucas sunset. I had a blueberry margarita, it was great but nothing compared the beautiful sunset we experienced!

The New York Times has ranked the Mona Lisa Smile as the 5th coolest restaurant in the world. They are not joking around, it’s so stunning. There are not enough adjectives in the world to describe the beauty we saw. While enjoying a beverage there we saw a super romantic, elaborate proposal and it really made me fall more in love with the place.

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This Mexican Sunset was no joke.

I’ve always loved Mexico, Mexican food and the Mexican culture and Cabo San Lucas did not disappoint!

Our next trip to Mexico is to Mexico City, what are some must-see places in the capital city of Mexico?

Happy Exploring!

-Heather

 

The Best Bars In Las Vegas That No One Is Talking About

The Best Bars In Las Vegas That No One Is Talking About

Post Author: Mike

Ah Vegas, one of my favorite cities to visit.  Easily the city I have visited the most, something for everyone.  I have been going to Vegas for almost a decade, Heather has been going her entire life.  I have been by myself, with large groups, for work, for fun, to see family, and mostly because it’s only a few hours away from where we now live.  The city is constantly changing and evolving; new restaurants and bars are constantly popping up. Trends live and die in a matter of months. Every time Heather and I go we always try to hit up a few of our favorite places that no one is talking about. 

Lobby Bar, Caesars Palace

This became the defacto meeting place when we go to Vegas with groups.  It is essentially the most central bar on the Las Vegas strip. They have an extensive cocktail list, their mixed drinks are very strong, and they even bring some snacks for you to munch on.  This is also one of the best places to people watch while in Vegas. During one of our nights at this bar Heather left her phone on the table and didn’t realize until the next morning, oh Vegas, anyways she let lost and found know it was missing and let them know what it looked like with no expectation of seeing it again. Fast forward a few weeks later and that cell phone showed up at our house in Birmingham, AL. Apparently, there still are great people in Las Vegas.

Nine Fine Irishmen New York, New York

If you took the most touristy Irish Bar in New York and placed it in a Vegas mega casino you would get Nine Fine Irishmen.  However, I do not come here because I feel like I am getting a Guinness in a traditional Irish setting; I come here for the band and the dancing.  The house band, Sin E Ri Ra, plays traditional Irish music, jigs, and even a few songs you can sing along to. During their performance, a traditional Irish dancer steps along with the music.  It’s a great atmosphere and definitely a great place to stop in, have a beer, and enjoy the performances.

Red Square, Mandalay Bay

As the name suggests, this is a Russian Themed bar that specializes in vodka and vodka cocktails.  This is the bar Heather discovered blue cheese olives and just how delicious they are in a martini.  Red Square is easy to find as a headless statue of Lenin is sitting outside. You can even do a vodka tasting in the 0 degree vodka vault.

The Oyster Bar, Palace Station

Cajun is a top 2 food group for me.  It’s tough to get decent Cajun food out west.  Whenever I am in Vegas I always go to The Oyster Bar to satisfy that Cajun craving.  With only about 20 seats (all bar seating, this is an actual bar) it takes an hour plus to wait in line, eat, and pay.  It’s definitely worth it. Try a pan roast (creamy, tomatoey, spicy, seafoody goodness) or a more traditional Cajun dish like gumbo or jambalaya.  My favorite dish is the jambalaya. The portions are enormous so an entrée is more than enough.

Enjoy Vegas.

-Mike

The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

Another great post by my husband Mike. A geologist by day, adventure writer by night.

Enjoy.

-Heather


Do you ever go on a trip or an adventure and afterward think “wow, I can’t wait to do that again” but then never do? Yeah, we do that at least once a month. When we moved back to California earlier this year we put together a list of places and things that we have done once and have been dying to experience it again. 

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Adventures by Mike

Whether you have lived in California for years or are just visiting Southern California and are looking for a few untraditional things to do; this list is sure to please all types of adventurers.

Malibu Winery, Malibu, CA

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Malibu Winery

For  Heather’s  25th birthday we went with friends up to Malibu Wines, a winery and tasting room in the hills between Malibu and Thousand Oaks in Southern California.  The wines are from the Saddle Rock Winery, just next to the tasting room at Malibu Wines. The views in and around the tasting room are excellent, the wine is also pretty great.  They have some add-ons now including a wine safari that we really need to adventure back to enjoy.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, San Luis Obispo, CA

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Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort on top of Avila Hot Springs

This resort sits on top of the Avila Hot Springs, in a quiet, hidden, woodsy area.  Out the back of every room is a hot tub that is piped into the hot springs. You turn a valve and 100+ degree spring water flows directly to you.  Luckily the Sycamore Resort is located conveniently to the Edna Valley, a low key wine region in Central California. The Edna is a cooler wine region and produces lovely Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.  After a day of wine tasting, there is nothing better than unwinding with a bottle of wine, soaking up the ocean breeze, and hanging out in your own private hot tub.

Skiing/ snowboarding in the mountains and golfing in shorts the same weekend

California is one of the few places I know where you can legitimately accomplish this. for the overachievers, you can technically, do both in one day. I played golf on Friday in LA and snowboarded in Big Bear on Saturday.  Pick your favorite summer and winter activity, come to southern California, and accomplish both in the same weekend! (Best to plan in January or February).

Take a random Las Vegas road trip

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Las Vegas at night

Mostly a rite of passage (at least in my opinion), Las Vegas is so close but yet so far from the cities in Southern California.  Although we have been to Vegas dozens of times (literally dozens) this trip was one of my favorites. Heather and I planned the trip with another couple on a Friday night, left on a Saturday morning, and came home on a Sunday.  Next time you got a free weekend, head to Vegas for a spontaneous weekend of fun.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park – Behind the Scenes Safari

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Visit this cutie at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Heather likes zoos, has a serious affinity for large, wild animals. This safari park has special excursions that take you right up to the animals and give you a much different experience than a traditional zoo. The Safari Park is experienced via tram so its a great activity for all ages and all abilities.

What are some adventures that we need to add to our Southern California list?

Happy Adventuring!

-Mike

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Palm Springs like a Reality TV Star

Palm Springs like a Reality TV Star

I have said this a few times on the blog but will probably say it 100 more times, I really love reality TV. Like my true love in life is reality TV, judge me, but the trashier the TV the more I love it. I specifically love The Real Housewives but in 2018 I began watching Vanderpump Rules and Southern Charm, man oh man am I ever hooked. In honor of Real Housewives of Orange County coming back next week, I wanted to do a post dedicated to Reality TV.

Now that we live in Palm Springs I love to go to new bars and restaurants and talk about the episode of RHOBH that was filmed there or the weekend the Vanderpump kids were here. My knowledge of all things reality TV is a bit embarrassing but I have no shame.

Where to stay:

Parker Palm Springs: Prior to the older Kardashian sisters staying here during a trip to visit their late grandmothers Palm Springs home, there was a show dedicated to the Parker Palm Springs staff called “Welcome to the Parker”. This short-lived Bravo show aired in 2007.  This hotel is gorgeous, I mean the Kardashians think its worth enough for them to stay there. It’s a desert oasis with all of the Palm Springs flair that you anticipate.

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Inside the famous Parker Palm Springs

Colony 29: Remember that one short season when Joyce (Yoce) was a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Yeah, most people don’t. She “arranged” a trip to Palm Springs where the cast stayed at the most beautiful villas nuzzled up against the spectacular Palm Springs mountains.

The Viceroy Palm Springs now the Avalon Palm Springs: this hotel is SO cute but more importantly its the location where Justin Bobby and Audrina escape to where he gives her the promise ring or um, I think he refers to it as a commitment ring, whatever the hell that is.

Must Visit:

Palm Springs Walk of Stars: Visit Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules cast member Lisa Vanderpump’s star located right in the middle of the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. This must-visit star is located right in front of Ruby’s Diner. There was a great RHOBH episode where she received the star and was standing next to my favorite Nsync member Lance Bass.

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Lisa Vanderpump star; Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs Aeriel Tramway: Who can forget that uncomfortable scene of Kim Richards praying next to a trashcan? Not one person. That scene was during a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Palm Springs trip where they visited the famous aerial tramway. I love going to the top of the mountain and escaping the extreme heat that is the Coachella Valley in the middle of the summer.

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How beautiful is the Palm Springs tram?

Trina Turk: This isn’t technically a reality TV show but when Martha Stewart still had her talk show “Martha” they did a Palm springs episode and spent time at the Trina Turk in downtown Palm Springs. Even though that’s technically not a reality TV show I really wanted Trina Turk to be on this list because that store is THE CUTEST!

Cabazon Dinosaurs: Looking for a great Instagram photo while driving into Palm Springs, this spot is Kardashian Instagram approved and if we have learned anything about them is that they know a GREAT Instagram opportunity.

Hopefully, Don’t Have to Visit:

Palm Springs Desert Regional Hospital: Do everything you can to avoid visiting the Palm Springs Desert Regional Hospital like Vicki did on the Real Housewives of Orange County. That famous episode where the girls went to Glamis and Tamara flipped the dune buggy sending Vicki to the hospital in a helicopter, no thank you!

Eat:

Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge: If you are looking for a great happy hour location then follow the Shahs of Sunset to Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge. This is the location that Reza hosted his surprise wedding to Adam at.

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Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge Palm Springs

Jensens Finest Foods: On season one of  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills sisters Kim and Kyle do their grocery shopping at Jensen’s as part of their annual Easter desert trip. Jensens is a great place for a sandwich or a high-end cheese!

If I included all the Coachella hot spots and all of the reality TV Instagram posts, I could go on for days. If all of your favorite reality TV stars haven’t already convinced you, Palm Springs is a must visit spot while visiting Southern California.

Happy Exploring.

-Heather

Cook Islands: These Exotic Islands Are Calling Your Name.

Cook Islands: These Exotic Islands Are Calling Your Name.

We just returned home from the Cook Islands and let me say, these islands far surpassed our expectations. I felt like real life Moana and I am here for that.

We flew on the direct flight from LAX to Rarotonga, the plane landed an hour early so YAY! When we arrived at the airport they had a musician playing, immediately I was in love.

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Views flying into The Cook Islands

Transportation: On Rarotonga, our plan was to just use the public bus and for the first two days we stuck to that plan but on day three I convinced my husband that we needed a scooter and our lives were changed. Apparently, Lizzie McGuire was right, Scooters are the best!

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Who doesn’t love a scooter on an island?

Tourists: about 80% of the tourist on the islands this time of year are from New Zealand, its winter for them so it makes so much sense to escape

Cuisine: We ate very well while visiting the island. We ate freshly caught fish at least once a day and delicious exotic fruits multiple times a day.

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Sunsets that will take your breath away.

 Rarotonga

While staying on the island of Rarotonga we stayed at the Castaway Resort. This small hotel was exactly what we wanted, about 15 rooms and a beach bar with the most beautiful sunset views. Our hotel room had a back porch that the roosters, hens, and chicks loved to visit.

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Castaway Resort on Rarotonga

One day while feeding the baby chicks at the hotel I met a little girl from the island, she immediately asked me why I was feeding the chicks because she has never seen anyone do that before. I felt like such a basic American girl at that point, but I couldn’t help it they were the cutest!

We attended the Highland Paradise Island Night and absolutely enjoyed every second of it. It’s a great opportunity to learn so much about Cook Island Maoris.

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Island night at Highland Paradise was a success.

We visited the Matutu Brewery, while I absolutely recommend paying it a visit it is only open to the public during the tour hours, so if you plan on showing up at any time you will just be greeted by an empty building. During our brewery tour, the entire group was American and all booked their flights during the Air New Zealand Cyber Monday sale, so if you are listening Air New Zealand that sale REALLY worked.

Must Visit Restaurant: The Mooring; we had our very first meal there but I probably could have eaten all of my meals there. It was the place I was first introduced to Ika Mata, and really I don’t know how I lived my life without Ika Mata EVERY DAY.

 

 

 

Air New Zealand has one American flight in and out a week, I really appreciate this direct flight but gosh I wish I had a Saturday on Roratonga to experience the Pananga Nui Cultural Market.

Before we left back to America we went to the Hula Bar on Roratonga, this cheap bar was crawling with local residents and so much fun!!

Aitutaki

WOOOOWWWEEEE! The most magical island I could ever have imagined. If we were to do it over again, we would spend two days on Roratonga and 5 days on Aitutaki. I really really really loved my experience there. It felt like a truly exotic island, beautiful scenery, sparsely populated and little connection to the outside world. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were back off the island by Friday morning, just not enough time. There were so many more beaches to explore and cats to meet.

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Aitutaki Cats; my favorite subject matter

A major difference that I noticed right away was the absence of dogs, Roratonga is crawling with very friendly dogs everywhere and I didn’t see one dog on the island of Aitutaki.

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I mean, this beautiful beach looks fake, right?

It’s a small island so if you are looking for a vacation with tons of restaurant and bar options, probably not the best location but if you are looking to disconnect from the world and connect with the most perfect turquoise lagoon, then look no further.

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The Aitutaki airport looks like its straight off a movie screen.

During our visit to Aitutaki, we stayed at the Kuru Club, an off the grid hotel on the lagoon near the airport. The host was so great and really made sure we were enjoying our experience.

Our favorite thing we did while on vacation was The Vaka Cruise on Aitutaki. A MUST DO. This 6-hour cruise was absolute perfection. Lunch included freshly caught fish, local fruits and vegetables and other island favorites. The boat took you to multiple islands including an extended stay at one-foot island. My favorite stop was a few hours of snorkeling in the middle of the lagoon; beautiful clear waters crawling with schools of fish.

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Dreamy One Foot Island.

The people of Aitutaki were just amazing, friendly and gracious and so inclusive. We would be riding our scooters down dirt roads and everyone would wave at us with a big smile on their face.

Aitutaki has many over the water bungalows, that are calling my name. I really want to plan someone’s honeymoon to The Cook Islands, specifically Aitutaki so if anyone is reading this that is planning a wedding, lets chat!

Book your ticket from LA to Rarotonga now, you wont regret it.

Overall: I give my experience a 10/10 absolutely would recommend. I really don’t understand how these perfect islands have stayed off my radar for all these years.