American Destinations Everyone Needs to Visit.

American Destinations Everyone Needs to Visit.

Today is a very special day in our home, it’s my husband Mikes, 30th birthday!! He’s my favorite person, the best cat dad, and my forever adventure partner. He really deserves a month of celebration but in true Mike fashion, all he wants is a pie.

Mike is a geologist born and raised on the coast in Central Florida. He loves to watch hours of Saturday football, drink bourbon and be outdoors with me. He’s such a gem, I think everyone says that about their significant other but I really think I won the lotto with this one.

Mike and I met over 11 years ago in a swimming pool while working at summer camps in New Hampshire. He worked at the all-boys camp and I was at the all-girls camp. After that summer we went to our perspective universities mine in California and his in Colorado. We kept in touch for those years, mainly via drunk texts, while we finished school but it wasn’t until I graduated and Mike took an internship in California that we saw each other again. Now, 8 years later here we are married, back in California and living with the most wonderful cat in the world, Penny.

Facetune (1)

In honor of his birthday, we put together a list of his favorite adventures and travel locations in the United States and I hope this list gives some inspiration for future adventures in the United States. Let’s start exploring.

Eating, drinking and ghost tours in New Orleans. Aaahhhhh, The Big Easy. the most unique city in America. We love to visit New Orleans and eat shellfish in the french quarter and frozen Irish coffees near bourbon street, it really is one of those cities that you have to experience at least once in life. Mike’s dad loves ghost tours and took him to many as a child, so automatically we always end up exploring the city in an organized tour seeking out all the haunted places in the big easy.

 

Facetune
Who doesn’t love a cocktail in New Orleans?

 

Smith Lake, Alabama; I don’t think most people associate Alabama with beautiful lakes but Smith Lake is a must visit in the Southeast. This man-made lake is over 500 miles of magnificent shoreline and very intense depths. While we were still living in Birmingham, this was a weekly destination. We made some of our favorite memories while exploring the lake with our besties.

img_2324

High Roller, Las Vegas; we visit Las Vegas often, maybe too often? since the opening of the high roller, we always make it a priority to experience while in town. The passenger cabins are mounted on the outer rim of the Ferris wheel and with the slow speed of the Ferris wheel, it makes the ride smooth and SO FUN! A few of the cars have a bar cart and for an additional fee, there is an open bar on those cars, nothing more fun than drinks over the Las Vegas strip.

attraction building city hotel

Orange Beach and Florabama, Alabama: I mean did Kenny Chesney say it best?  “Sitting here at the Flora-Bama, Bout to open up a big old can of good times” Again, most people don’t associate Alabama with white sands and crystal blue waters but that’s exactly the scene at Orange Beach. Growing up in California, I never expected to see such calm, warm and empty beaches in America but that is what you will get in the Gulf Shores. If I had to choose a beach to vacation at in America, I would choose the Gulf Shores time and time again.

 

img_0656
Our cat, Penny, loves Orange Beach as much as we do!

 

Denver, Colorado; Mike went to college 20 minutes north of Denver so beyond loving everything Denver has to offer I think there is a bit of nostalgia when he thinks about the capital of Colorado. Nestled up to the Rocky Mountains, its a fun city with a great beer scene.

 

restaurant mountains alcohol beer
I mean Beer and Mountains, whats not to love?

 

Lighthouses, United States; while, yes this isn’t one location but Mikes favorite thing to visit is a lighthouse, my favorite thing to visit is a zoo, so who am I to judge? Mike has his entire post-retirement life planned put, mind you, he is only turning 30, but when that day comes he is going on what he calls “The Lighthouse Tour of America”. When we visit Florida to see family, we always make sure to visit the Ponce De Leon lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, Florida. While Florida is not known for its lighthouses, the beautiful brick lighthouse was built in the 1800’s.

lighthouse against sky

Hiking in Yosemite, California: America’s national parks are all beautiful but Yosemite is king with its magnificent rock formations and flowing waterfalls, its something to be seen in everyone’s lifetime. Our favorite vacations are adventurous trips to Yosemite where we hike to all the waterfalls and Mike explains the valley’s formation while I haphazardly listen.  In 2010, the first time we went to Yosemite together, it was so fun to see the park that I adored through brand new eyes. I mean we love Yosemite so much we decided to get married there!

dsc_0123

What are some of your favorite places to explore in the United States? We are always looking for new adventures to add to our list!

-Heather & Mike

Advertisements

I’m going to The Cook Islands!

I’m going to The Cook Islands!

I’m going to The Cook Islands, it really is an island. Okay, I know I’m not the only one who thinks Jersey Shore quotes are hilarious.

In a few days, we are heading off to the Cook Islands to celebrate my husbands 30th birthday! I’m obsessed with the Maori culture, food, and music so this trip really is a dream come true.

Let’s rewind to how we decided on the Cook Islands. Last fall, we were on a boat tour throughout the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand and the 9 other women also on the boat all worked for Air New Zealand. These nine Australian women talked nonstop about the airline and it was that afternoon that I became obsessed with booking a long haul Air New Zealand flight. The rest of the trip I couldn’t stop talking about our future trip on Air New Zealand to Tahiti, well turns out Tahiti is EXPENSIVE! So that dream was crushed.

We returned home from New Zealand on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday Air New Zealand was having a great sale on flights to the Cook Islands, our flights to The Cook Islands were booked that evening.

There is one flight a week from the United States to the Cook Islands, so the island already feels pretty dang exotic. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will want to pack my cat up and call this island home, but we shall see.

image_6483441
Do I plan on spending the whole time at the beach resort like this? duh.

We will be splitting our time on the islands between Rarotonga and Aitutaki. I can’t wait to swim in the ocean all day and enjoy an Island Night in the evening. I am excited to eat exotic fruits and a seafood and pork, is there any other south pacific delicacy that we must try while visiting?

Am I going to be singing the entire Moana soundtrack on the plane over? Sure. Have I ever been this excited for a vacation? Unsure.

My Cook Island recap will be posted soon and I know it will surpass all of my expectations, I just can’t wait!

The Perfect Bachelorette Party in Palm Springs!

The Perfect Bachelorette Party in Palm Springs!

Are you Bride heading to Palm Springs for your Bachelorette Party? If you are looking for inspiration for the perfect weekend, you came to the right spot.

Palm Springs is becoming the Charleston of the west when it comes to bachelorette parties, in the past 4 months I have attended two bachelorette parties in Palm Springs. This picturesque desert town is the perfect location for a laid-back, relaxing weekend with your favorite people.

If you are looking for a location crawling with straight, single men for your friends on the trip then keep looking, Palm Springs isn’t the best location to hold your fun weekend. But if you are looking for the cutest eateries, relaxing pool days and cute cocktail bars than Palm Springs is the perfect location.

Summer is off-season in Palm Springs and while the prices may be tempting the heat can also be a different level of miserable.

Restaurants
I live for Mexican Food so my suggested list may be a bit bias.

  • Rio Azul, great for large groups
  • Kaiser Grille, the location is perfect and possibly the best people watching in Palm Springs
  • Las Casuelas Terraza, YUM! The outdoor sister to the Palm Desert staple, they are able to do set menus for larger groups.

Pool Clubs
If you are looking to spend your afternoon at a bar that is cozied up to a pool there are tons of great options in the Coachella Valley.

  • Ace Hotel and Swim Club
  • Elixir Pool Bar and Grill at the V Palm Springs
  • The Saguaro Palm Springs
  • Arrive Palm Springs

Day Time Activities

  • Aerial Tram
    • We all remember that great episode of RHOBH where they ride the Palm Springs aerial tram and once they are on the peak Kim Richards Prays next to the trash can. If its good enough for Real Housewives its probably worth a visit but In all seriousness, the peak is beautiful. There is a 6000 ft altitude change in the 10-minute ride, so bring a jacket because it is cold!
  • ATV
    • If your group is looking for something outside the normal bachelorette party ideas, right up CA-111 is an offroad rental ATV Park. This 4-wheeler adventure spot is 10 miles away from downtown Palm Springs and the perfect afternoon activity for an adventure-seeking bride.
  • Hike
    • If staying up all night drinking is your cup of tea than this activity is probably out but if you are looking to opt for a physical activity the mountains around Palm Springs are crawling with hiking locations. My personal favorite is the bump and grind, approximately 3 miles round trip and is great for individuals of all endurance levels.
  • Spa
    • The Desert is crawling with luxurious spas to relax and rejuvenate at during a boozy weekend. If you are looking to really indulge yourself the Palm Springs Yacht club is the place for you. This luxurious spa located within the Parker Palm Springs is dreamy and worth booking an appointment at.

Palm Springs Lodging
The cute mid-century modern homes that line the streets of Palm Springs play the perfect host for bachelorette parties. There are homes that please every budget and group size. Outside of the traditional AirBNB below is a list of additional websites that manage some of the best Palm Springs home rentals.

https://vacationpalmsprings.com/

https://www.flipkey.com/book/palm-springs

https://www.acmehouseco.com/vacation-rentals/palm-springs

Cocktail Bars
Palm Springs plays home to some fabulous cocktail bars and drag shows below is a look into some of my personal favorites. If this list doesn’t tickle your fancy, a quick yelp search will give a long list of additional bars perfect for your group.

  • The Tonga Hut Restaurant and Tiki bar
  • Bootlegger Tiki
  • Toucans Tiki Lounge
  • Retro room Lounge
  • Hair of the Dog

There is one traditional club in Palm Springs targeted for heterosexuals, just a bit of advice, don’t go! Its slimy, it’s small, it’s in a strip mall – this location does not feel very true to the area and defeats the purpose of having a bachelorette party in Palm Springs.

Here’s to a perfect weekend celebrating your future nuptials with your besties in Palm Springs!

 

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Growing up my family went to  Yosemite National Park every year on vacation and some of my best childhood memories were exploring this beautiful national park. To increase the love I have for this place, this past year I got married at the Yosemite Chapel in the Yosemite Valley and it was the most magical location and day. So when deciding on the topic of my first official blog post there was no other option than Yosemite.

While planning our September nuptials we decided that we had to hike half dome prior to the big day, major mistake. The day of our wedding, I could barely walk my body was not having it but I was so thankful that I had conquered one of the most majestic mountains (rocks?) I had ever seen.

The day of the hike:

It was the last week of August so we knew the weather was going to be hot, what we didn’t know is it was going to rain; I mean, shoot, its California. We had our bags all packed the night before, we were doing this hike in one day so our packs were relatively light. We were in the third car in the parking lot promptly at 6 AM.  Prior to the hike, I drank a sugary coffee drink, and by mile three I felt so sick, not my best nutrition choice. We made it to the top of the peak by 10:30 AM, I still have no idea how we did the hike so fast. I wasn’t prepared for how scared I was going to be climbing the cables but turns out it’s pretty scary. Once we made it to the top we had very little time to enjoy the view because a storm was rolling in and we would be stuck on top if we didn’t get off the peak before it hit. On our way down back to the valley the trails were packed with hikers, we were tired and it took us the same amount of time to hike up to half dome as it did to hike back down. The parking lot is .5 miles from the trailhead, after that hike it was longest, slowest half mile of my life.

DSC_0851
The top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, I’m not sure if I have ever been that happy in my life.

Items I packed for the hike:

  • 1 gallon of water, the hydration pack I used can be found here. Note: this pack only carries 2L so make sure to bring additional water bottles.
  • Snacks- packages of tuna, beef jerky, baked apples, gum and trail mix.
  • Sunscreen. Sun protection is no joke, my sensitive skin reacts best to this Aveeno Sunscreen.
  • A long sleeve shirt
  • Hiking Socks (Columbia makes a great pair) Extra socks are always a great idea as well.
  • My phone and headphones (Big shout out to My Favorite Murder and Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald because I think I would have quit if I didn’t have entertaining podcast content in my ears.)
  • Gloves, there are always more expensive options but these will do a great job on the cables.
DSC_0903
About to start half dome cables. That smile is not a proper indication of how my body felt.

Tricks to help you start planning your half dome trek today.

  1. Take tons of water! There are very few places to fill up water bottles, the last potable water station is on the other side of the bridge at the bottom of vernal falls, less than a mile into the hike!
  2. Hike at least 20 miles in your boots prior to the hike. I bought new hiking boots just a few weeks prior to the hike but I made sure that I hiked/ walked 20 miles in them.
  3. Don’t forget your Half Dome permit. To climb the cables you must have a permit that is awarded through a lottery system starting at the end of March, permits can be obtained here.
  4. Gloves are a necessity. The cables are really tough and you want to have the best grip possible so an investment in a decent pair of gloves is recommended. At the bottom of the cables, there is a huge stack of discarded gloves for use in case hikers forgot theirs but don’t bank of that stash being available.
  5. Don’t sleep on the intensity of sub dome. I read and I researched this hike intensely and I never stumbled across anything detailing how this portion of the hike would exhaust me before I even hit the cables.
  6. Start Early. This seems like it should be common knowledge but still feel like its worth mentioning.
  7. Repeatedly check Yosemite weather and fire conditions. The day before our hike we were discouraged by Yosemite employees to do the hike because of the nearby fire would restrict the views at the top. We kept a close eye on the fire reports but ultimately decided that it was worth it.
  8. Are you acrophobic? If you are scared of heights or steep slippery surfaces this hike probably isn’t the right one for you. The cables are there for a reason, the last stretch of this hike is slippery and steep!

Do not take this hike lightly, I hike all of the time and at the time of the hike I felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life and this hike was tough!! 

If you have not visited the majestic Yosemite National Park, its a must!