(This guide was also featured on Forbes: 43 Cheapest places to travel in 2020 here)
Last week we were able to experience the Dominican for the first time! We stayed in Punta Cana and we were pleasantly surprised how beautiful the island was. I know everyone, including us, have heard the awful things the media has said about this area and trust me we were a little hesitant to jump on board to visit there. After researching nonstop and seeing that the CheapCaribbean’s resorts made a safety pledge on the island, known as the “PC Promise”, we felt comfortable going. From their site, you can also view all participating resorts here as well:
What is the Punta Cana Promise?
While you plan your next vacation in Punta Cana, one of the top beach destinations in the Dominican Republic, we want you to know that you’ll be safe and secure while traveling. As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that True Beach Lovers continue to receive the highest levels of service they have come to know and expect from us, CheapCaribbean is proud to support the Punta Cana Promise.
The Punta Cana Promise reaffirms the commitment of Punta Cana hotels to a set of security standards in one of the safest spots in the Caribbean. You’ll find comfort in knowing that:
- Properties are self-contained and provide 24-hour security and medical assistance
- Food and beverage offerings come only from reputable, trusted vendor partners and are all carefully checked and inspected before being served at any property, in accordance with global food safety management standards
- Employees all undergo rigorous background checks, screening, and training
- High staff-to-guest ratios ensure that every guest receives the attention, service, and security they expect and deserve
- Properties not only meet but also exceed tourism and hospitality regulations and guidelines
- Hotel-affiliated vacation activities and excursions are provided exclusively by reputable partners who are all licensed and insured
- Properties are each united in the oversight and delivery of the Punta Cana Promise
- Hotels will provide safety information and phone numbers to all guests upon check-in
(Our resort, Now Larimar Punta Cana, thank you to Renaud from Flytographer for capturing these amazing images while we were in town. If you are looking for a photographer when traveling, check out flytographer available around the world (you can use code Becca50 to get $50 off the next time you book a shoot through the end of 2020!)
We had such an amazing family vacation, below is everything you need to know about our stay!
How to get there:
We flew into Punta Cana Airport and got on an Amstar transfer pre-arranged. The airport is a pretty decent size, it did take a good 20/30 minutes once we landed to get through customs. Pro Tip: When leaving Punta Cana, the airport has a sky lounge available for a small fee or 50% off american express card holders. It has an inifinity pool, unlimited drinks and snacks, showers, towels, and wifi! There aren’t many other options in the airport for dining.
Where we stayed:
- Now Larimar Punta Cana: Located about 15 minutes from the airport. This was an all inclusive resort and we were blown away with the level of service we received. Every worker on the resort seemed to truly care about their job, their country, and their culture. There were several pools around the property, the drinks were great, and all of the dining options were decent for an all inclusive resort. We stayed in a Deluxe tropical view room, if your going without the kids, definitely request a room with a walk out pool. If you do bring the kids, they have an amazing Explorer Kids club and outdoor playground area that mine spent majority of the days playing.
- How to Book: Head here to CheapCaribbean site and you can use code BECCA75 – $75 off; one time use, (5 Night minimum stay, minimum double occupancy, package only, for travel January 17 – December 31, 2020; expires March 10th 2020)
Dining at Now Larimar:
- Breakfast options: Carnival Cafe- this is a buffet option, quick and good selections. We came here for breakfast every morning, sometimes lunch and dinner if we needed it to be fast with kids! Castaways is an option for breakfast or lunch if you want to be outside by beach!
- Lunch Options: Barefoot Grill- hut located on the beach, you walk up and can take the food out to the pool or the beach! Easiest option if hanging outside all day because the restaurants require you to have shirts and shoes on!
- Dinner: Bluewater Grill & Steakhouse, Cappers Italian, Mercure (french), Spice (Asian- our favorite, choose the hibachi side), Tamrindo (mexican), Windows-buffet.
- Extras: Coffee shop: Coco Cafe, near lobby! Fresh Coconuts on Mondays on the beach!
Excursions: (can also be booked through CC pretravel via amstar, onsite activities can be booked at the resort)
- Soana Island: We did this for a full day adventure. A Van picks you up outside of the resort around 8am, drive you 1-2 hours to the boat dock. The boat ride takes another full 2 hours, with tons of dancing, snorkeling stops, and a sandbar stop until finally reaching the destination of the private Soana Island. You have lunch on the island. Recommend packing your own cooler if you have kids for snacks and drinks the entire day!
- Non-motorized equipment on property
Things to Pack:
- Water wings, life jackets for kids if you need them!
- Floats/goggles/sand castle toys unless you want to purchase on site
- The weather was in the low 80s and not too cold at night. I packed several maxi dresses that transitioned well.
Thank you to the CheapCaribbean team for coordinating this entire trip for us! Don’t forget to head to their site to book YOUR next vacay and get $75 off with code BECCA75 till 3/10! We can’t wait to head to another tropical destination soon! #partner #ad #truebeachlover #cheapcaribbean
We have come to Malibu California many times but this is the first time we stayed at a hotel for the weekend and we absolutely loved the entire set up! The weather was mid 60s in January and we enjoyed being able to be out on the beach for a day. Here is my weekend run down to enjoy Malibu with the Fam!
Where to Stay:
Malibu Beach Inn: Ocean front hotel located right off the PCH in the heart of Malibu. This is one of the best locations if you plan to explore all Malibu has to offer. The hotel is part of the leading hotels of the world club & also a Virtuoso property (which has amazing perks!). Here is everything we enjoyed about the hotel:
- Ocean front rooms! Each room has a balcony over looking the pacific ocean. It was very relaxing to wake up and open the doors to the sound of the ocean! The rooms also felt like you were more in a guest house versus a hotel room with the high ceiling beams and fireplace. It was so cute. Also all the amenities in the room were top notch, even the toilets were heated!
- Daily beach yoga offered! Confirm the night before with your concierage for a session from 8am-9am.
- The beach- daily lounge chairs are put out with towels for easy use. They have a huge supply of kid beach toys too!
- Carbon Beach Club: Their onsite dining, we enjoyed eating here for breakfast one morning! So many healthy options. The inside bar seemed like a local hang out nightly, with a great vibe.
- Onsite spa
What to do:
- Malibu Wines: We have booked a safari tour many times and always love it! You can visit Stanley the Giraffe to feed him food, stop for wine pairings, and see all the animals on the property. Make sure to sign up for the malibu wine hike tour if you have kids. If you are 21 or older you can sign up for malibu wine safari tour instead here.
- Malibu Cafe: This is a great spot also on the property to have lunch or a fun dinner with the family. They have life size chess, ping pong, corn-hole, and live music! It’s a huge area where kids can run around free while you enjoy a drink too :).
- Ride horses through the Malibu mountains: We did this two years ago and it was one of my favorite experiences. Children can ride if 6+years.
- Visit Malibu Beach Pier: (within walking distance from Malibu Beach Inn if you stay here). Cute restaurants and fun to walk the pier with kids.
Where to Dine: (all ocean front views)
- Carbon Beach Club- Mentioned earlier, enjoy breakfast/lunch/dinner here at Malibu Beach Inn.
- Nobu: This is one of our all time favorite spots, amazing sushi and food. Make reservations 30+days in advance!
- Malibu Beach Cafe
- Dukes Malibu
- Malibu Farm or Malibu Farm Cafe (both located on the pier)
We love you Malibu! <3
This Guide was recently featured in Forbes Article: US Travel: 25 Best Places To Visit in 2020
Vail Colorado surprisingly is now one of our favorite winter towns, and that says a lot because we have always been tropical people! We had the absolutely best time bringing the kids and will definitely be going back next year if the travel allows :). Vail is the perfect town for a one stop shop for the family to Ski and be in walking distance of all the action. Below are the basics from our trip to save!
(Streets of Vail Village, outside of the main Gorsuch store)
How to get there:
We flew directly in Denver, CO airport since most big hubs do a nonstop flight. We then took an Epic Mountain Express shuttle straight to Vail that took about 2 1/2 hours. You can opt to fly directly into Eagle airport, but it would still be about a 20-30 minute ridge into Vail from there, plus flights are usually pretty high.
(Balcony of Four Seasons Vail)
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Four Seasons Vail Resort & I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in Vail! The hotel is 5 star all around, with everything on site for kids to make it an actual vacation for adults as well. Four Seasons Vail offers gourmet dining in Flame Restaurant or The Remedy Bar, or in-room dining; all with top chefs on site. Heated pools, kid play rooms, an award-winning spa and their famous “haute chocolate” (the world’s most luxurious hot chocolate) to keep you warm all day! They offer luxurious rooms and suites, as well as private residence accommodations with up to six bedrooms.
What to do:
- Ski or Snowboard: We only did Golden Peak mountain since we put the kids in ski school one morning and loved it! You can read all about the different Terrain Parks Vail has to offer here. Pop over to the Gorsuch store to get all your ski rentals and winter clothing for the season. It has everything from designer clothing to home goods and even whimsical gingerbread houses. Vail’s extensive snowmaking upgrades and expansions have opened up nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain to allow longer ski seasons. Opening day for Vail Mountain was November 15 and the mountain remains open through April 19, 2020. Put the kids in Vail ski school at Golden Peak Mountain and ski over 5,317 acres of mountain terrain
- Explore Vail Village, a popular town with heated cobblestone streets for strolling, restaurants and bars, coffee shops, ice-skating, a movie theater and a bowling alley, all within reach. The country’s largest free transportation system runs frequently, making it easy to access almost anywhere from Vail Village to Lionshead Village without the hassle of driving.
- Relax: Hit up the Four seasons pools and order hot chocolate, relax in your room by the fire, hit up there amazing spa, or let the kids play in either one of the play rooms while you sit back and watch tv.
- Dog Sled/ Snowmobile: Book a day of dog sledding with Mountain Mushers, a two-hour scenic ride through Vail Mountains and you will feel like you are in a Christmas card. We took both our toddlers, they let you stop halfway through to enjoy hot chocolate!
- Visit Epic Discovery: During peak season, make sure to check out Epic Discovery, where you can ride a roller-coaster through the snow and tube down the mountain. It also has adventure courses, zip lines, a mountain coaster, tubing hills, a climbing wall, bungee trampoline and much more available in the summer months. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to purchase the Epic Pass for the 2019–20 season.
Where to eat:
- Flame (Four Seasons Vail restaurant): Modern Mountain steakhouse. Get the steak with various rub flavors! I also loved the donut dessert.
- The Remedy Bar (Also at FS Vail): I craved their grilled cheese every day! Everything is so good, considering they have a new head chef Marco Fossati that tailors each menu to be delicious!
- Matsushisa: Amazing sushi restaurant by Chef Nobu Matsushia, if you’re familiar with Nobu restaurant, you know how good this place is!
- Game Creek Mtn: Located on the Mountain! This was closed when we were in town, but I heard you can arrange a snowcat to take you here!
- 10th Vail Mtn: Also located at the top of the mountain, take the Gondola here for lunch, amazing views.
- Mountain Standard: Located in Vail Village, do lunch here!
- Sweet Basil: Located in Vail Village, try this place for dinner!
- La Nonna- Italian Restaurant, located in Vail Village.
(Smores daily during afternoons at FS Vail outdoor pool firepit)
(Both pools at FS Vail are heated! 2 hot tubs!)
Thanks to the amazing Four Seasons Vail for hosting us & Gorsuch team for styling the entire family! As always, all opinions are my own.
We just got back from Orlando, or should I say Disney World, and man am I beat! Doing Disney World with toddlers in a weekend trip is exhausting! Lainey is at a great age (5) but Roman is still in that terrible toddler age (3) where a lot of meltdowns occur very often. I was thankful for the days we spent at the resort more than the days at the parks this trip. I do have a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years with toddlers I will share below, and you can read my last blog post on Disney with toddlers here! You can also see all the behind the scenes videos on my Instagram story highlights here.
Where we stayed: The Hilton Orlando (conveniently located 15 minutes or less from all the attractions, and 15 minutes from the airport!) Here are several tips on the resorts site to help you enjoy your stay.
- My first tip is where to stay when doing Disney with kids. I was pleasantly surprised how close this resort was too everything without being overcrowded by the holiday rush for Mickeys Halloween Party (which we did our last night). Transportation can be arranged ahead of time with your concierge.
- Book a resort with a water park & outdoor activities for downtime between parks. The Hilton Orlando has two huge pools, a lazy river, splash pad, slide, and outdoor sports areas all over the property! It felt more like a tropical vacation when we relaxed at the resort.
- Plan your days and fast passes as far in advance as possible. This is key with toddlers that have very little patience for rides and meals. We filled up every morning at The Hilton Orlando’s daily breakfast buffet at The Bistro. The service and food was amazing! You can do 3 fast passes per day per ticket. I like to plan ours first thing in the morning to knock out all the key rides before lunch! Make sure to mention rider switch if one child isn’t tall enough to ride! Always go back to the resort to nap :).
- Bring a Stroller and tie balloons to it as soon as your in the park to easily spot yours! We easily rolled the stroller back into our hotel room each night.
- Tips specifically for Mickeys Halloween Party: Arrive to the park early (they let you in as soon as 4pm day of). Try to go mid week for less of a crowd. Dress up! Bring your own trick-or-treat bags! Hit up the rides when everyone is grabbing candy, there are no fast passes during this time so barely any waits! If you are visiting other parks, The Hilton Orlando has packages that include Universal Orlando & 4th night free! (Harry Potter was my favorite during Halloween)
- Get the specialty drinks at the bar, from milkshakes for the kids to patron in a mini bottle, The Hilton Orlando pool bar had the best selections!
- All and all we really enjoyed our convenient location & hospitality at The Hilton Orlando! It was the perfect quick weekend trip to get the Disney bug out of our system 🙂 Thank you so much to the Hilton team for having us!
It has been almost a year since our last trip to Grand Isle Resort (you can read that post here) and I was so excited to bring Roman back this time with us! Last time we only stayed two nights on the resort and brought Lainey, this time we stayed 4 nights and also brought our friends to experience it! I felt like we were able to appreciate the slower lifestyle Exuma is known for this time around and I always love visiting a place a second time because you know what to do, where to go, and where to eat by then. Also since our last visit, Grand Isle opened up a new area with an Adults only pool & new restaurant known as 23 North Beach Club. See below for the latest about the island 🙂
(The new adults only pool at 23 North GR)
About the Island: “Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays. The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma, by a small bridge. The capital and largest town in the district is George Town.” Exuma is located on the southern Bahamas. They were not affected by the recent hurricane and a percentage of all bookings at Grand Isle Resort is going towards the relief for the northern Bahamas (Abaco islands) that was directly hit by Hurricane Dorian. Book here for last minute escapes!
How to get there: We flew directly into Georgetown Airport this trip from RDU, with a quick connector in Miami, FL and it was the best experience so far. We have flown into Nassau before because we missed a connector in Atlanta (you can read about that story here) & hopped over to Exuma later in the day on another connector flight and it made us miss an entire day. Highly suggest just flying directly into Georgetown Airport! From there, the resort is a quick 10 minutes away!
What to pack: I got this question a lot which was surprising to me since it is a typical island lifestyle to me! It is a small island, nothing fancy, so I was either barefoot or had sandals on with a maxi dress half the time and the other half in a bathing suit! The weather year round stays in the lower 80s, so just pack comfortable. If it did rain, it only last maybe an hour throughout the day then the sun would shine. I usually pack a sweater as well to throw over in the evening when the sun goes down! Also I always pack my own beach bag with all the kid pool accessories they love.
Where to Stay: Of course we love Grand Isle Resort! We stayed at other properties in Exuma before and the experience was not even close to the service and luxury accommodations Grand Isle Resort has to offer. You can choose between 1-4 bedroom luxury villas. We stayed in a 3 bedroom this time, but actually ended up switching to a 2 bedroom because apparently only 2 bedrooms have whirlpool tubs and my kids love baths!
Dining Options: At Grand Isle Resort you have a few options for dining. You can eat at Palapa grill by the pool for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 23 North also just opened up their newest restaurant which is Asian-Bahamian inspired food that is open for lunch or dinner. We had an amazing dinner there on one of our nights, see all behind the scenes on my Instagram stories here. During Hurricane Season a lot of places shut down on the island so options are slim. We enjoyed taking the boat to Staniel Cay for lunch one afternoon and also make sure to do Sunday Buffet lunch at Chat & Chill! You have to take a boat to both of these places, you can easily rent your own at Minns Water Sports!
Excursions: We did a private boat tour for the first time with Triple A Adventures and I will always do that moving forward especially with a group in Exuma! It also made our day a lot smoother on a private boat with toddlers. We had a group of 8 people and I loved it because we were able to schedule the day how we wanted and avoid the other boat crowds at key tourist spots (swimming with pigs and shark pictures you see here). You can customize your private boat tour for a half day or full day depending on what spots you want to visit. Book your next adventure with Triple A Adventures here!
Thank you to the amazing team at Grand Isle Resort for hosting our stay! As always, all opinions are my own!
Where to begin with this post! I use to vacation to Kiawah Island every summer as a child and went on to get married here on September 13th, 2014! We were able to spend our 6th year wedding anniversary on the island with Lainey & Roman this time to experience it with us. (You can see all the details about my wedding on A Low Country Wed Blog & Destination I Do.) This island holds such a special place in our hearts and never disappoints in all aspects. It truly is one of those magical beaches that has the prettiest golf courses along the coast to enjoy too. There are 10+miles of beach, and 30+ miles of bike trails, and multiple kid splash park pools and playgrounds to keep them entertained. I’ve always heard families favorite thing about the beaches here are the huge tide pools that appear and the fact you can have your dog on the beach!
(view from Sanctuary pool)
& Here is everything you need to know about Kiawah Resort
How to Get there:
It is about 45 minutes depending on traffic from the Charleston, SC Airport. You drive through rows of beautiful trees in route to Kiawah Island, where you simply drive up to the front security gate and let them know where you are staying.
Where to stay:
*When booking a place through Kiawah Resort, you get access to all the resort amenities & benefits. You have access to pools, fitness centers, discounted rates on recreational activities, golf, and tennis. Keep in mind, people who book through the resort get preferential tee times and court times at the tennis center as well.
- The Sanctuary Hotel- this is the only luxury hotel on the island. We spent our wedding night here and this past weekend we stayed 3 nights and it was amazing! Forbes Travel Guide awarded the hotel a solid 5 stars and you receive nothing short of a 5 star service! “Choose from 255 well-appointed guestrooms, with King rooms spanning 520 square feet or more. Or upgrade to an exceptional suite, including the awe-inspiring 3,000-square-foot Presidential Suite.”
- Villas– If you prefer more space for an affordable nightly rate, you can book any of the villas on the island!
- Private Homes- We rented several houses my wedding week that had 6+ bedrooms and turned into a huge family event. You can book private homes on the kiawah website here. There isn’t a bad view on the island, you just need to decide if you want to be on the beach or in a neighborhood!
- COMING SOON! The Ocean Course cottages– Vacation cottages that are 2 & 4 story will be under construction soon. They are estimated to be ready in Fall of 2020.
What to do:
- Bike: Reserve bikes ahead of time depending where you are staying on the island and ride bikes on the beaches and through the island.
- Pool Hop: Visit all the pools, make sure to go to Night Heron Park and explore their splash park/water slides!
- Play Golf– the PGA Championship is held on the Ocean Course located here. Kiawah has some of the nicest & most challenging courses in the world. Keep in mind certain courses require you to also have your own caddy.
- Play Tennis- Voted the top tennis resort in the world by tennisresortsonline.com for 2019. “For an unsurpassed player experience, we offer 22 tennis courts, including ten new Har-Tru clay courts, all tucked into the resort’s stunning surroundings and bordered by fragrant oleander, rustling palmettos, swaying pampas grass and vibrant flowers.”
- Beach- especially in the afternoons, don’t miss the tide pools that make you feel like you are on a secluded island!
- Kamp Kiawah– If you’re traveling with the kids look into this, some of my favorite child hood memories were at Kamp Kiawah. Find more info here.
- Attend an Oyster Roast Dinner at Mingo Point- Available dates here and you can purchase tickets!
- Spa– This is located in the Sanctuary Hotel. The Forbes Travel Guide recognized The Spa at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort with Five Stars for the ninth year in a row! This Forbes Five Star Spa’s soothing treatments are derived from botanical extracts, nourishing seaweed, rich mud and natural enzymes, all offered in a spectacular setting. From beginning to end the entire experience was amazing. We got the custom couples massage in one of their suite seclusion, I chose to incorporate a lavender scent for relaxation. Designed for the most exclusive experience, their beautifully appointed Couple’s Suite features two treatment tables, a relaxation area and a private therapeutic bath and shower. Make sure to arrive 30+ minutes early to enjoy all the spa has to offer. We sat in the coed Magnolia room and enjoyed their custom granola and hot tea before our service. They have a Sauna, whirl pool, and steam room to relax ahead of time or post treatment so make sure to bring your swim suit. If you do only one thing on this trip, make sure to book a spa appointment! I can’t rave about this experience enough. Explore all the treaments here.
Here is a Sample Itinerary they customized for us which was the perfect amount of family fun + relaxation for a 3 day weekend at the Sanctuary Hotel:
Day 1: Check in, head to the beach to enjoy the late tide pools that show up for the kids. End with Dinner at the Ocean Room at the Sanctuary.
Day 2: Up early with kids- Grab bikes for the weekend and ride them to the beach or Night Heron Park Pool! Head back for lunch at Logger heads by the sanctuary pool, and get the kids down for naps! 3pm- book the dolphin excursion where you can see them swim right up to the boat and various animals along the sound. 4:30pm- Play nine holes at one of the famous golf courses- We did Cougar Point! Then head to dinner at the Ryder Cup room (located at the Ocean Course for a one of a kind sunset). Let the kids roll down the hill while you have a cocktail on the lawn waiting for your table. (Always make reservations in advance)
Day 3: Get up early and ride bikes around the island again and enjoy a full day at the beach & park to just relax. Book a babysitter from the concierge for 3pm and head to the spa for a full afternoon of relaxation. Head to dinner at the Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course to enjoy dinner without the kids and soak in that sunset one more time!
(on the dolphin tour)
Where to eat:
-Jasmine Porch-southern cuisine, also great for dinner!
-Relax & order room service!
-Logger Head grill- by the pool at the Sanctuary, I had an amazing chicken pineapple sandwich I’m still thinking about!
-Tomasso at Turtle Point- Italian dishes!
-Beaches & Cream for ice cream & snacks!
-Ryder Cup at the Ocean Course: Modern Pub Fare & a la carte Breakfast choices
-Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course: Amazing seafood restaurant, as for the back room!
-The Ocean Room at the Sanctuary: Premier Steakhouse, boasting Forbes 4 stars! They also have amazing sushi too.
All of these were phenomenal dinners, read more details about Kiawah’s Dining Collection here.
(out in front of the ocean course dining area)
Here are some pictures over the last 7 years Amelia & Dan have captured from our engagement to last weekend!
Thank you so much Kiawah Resort for having us and continuing to exceed our expectations every stay! As always, all opinions are my own. Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on events happening on the island!
This was our first time in Seattle and I have a feeling it wont be our last. If you missed it on my Instagram, I recently accepted an 100% remote IT recruiting job with Amazon, so they flew me out to Seattle for my first week of training at their headquarters! I know we went in the prime time to visit because it only rained once the entire time for a week and the weather was mid 70s. Apparently every other month of the year is typically rainy, so if you’re going to visit shoot for the summer months! The city felt fresher to me, unlike New York or Paris, but a crisp feel probably because it sits right on the water. Overall, we felt great about the trip and below I’ve highlighted a few of our favorite spots!
(your basic picture of pike place market, wearing all shop the mint)
What to do:
- Get the Seattle City Pass: Visit all the hot spots included.
- Go to the Beach: We were recommended Alki Beach Park the most but we never made it! There is also Goldens Garden Park & Enatai Beach Park & Boathouse.
- Take the kids to all the Museums & Parks! Downtown Bellevue Park playground is a new area. During the summer they show free movies in the park for the kids! Also heard great things about Kid’s Quest Childrens Museum, but we never made it.
- Go to Pike Place Market: Shop the farmers market, walk around on the pier or grab local sushi!
(Kids at the Zoo wearing Emu Shoes!)
(on the Ferris wheel, included on city pass)
Where to eat: (so many spots we didnt get to check out!)
- Breakfast: Biscuit Bitch, All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar, Room service from either of the hotels mentioned!
- Lunch: Lola’s, Mbar, Wataru, Serious Pie Pizza
- Dinner: Canlis, The Nest, Sushi Kashiba, The pink Door, Bateau, Walrus & the Carpenter, Shuckers, Spinasse, Stateside
- Dessert: Cinnaholic, Chocolate factory (pike place market), Salt & Straw Ice cream, Molly Moons Ice Cream.
(View from the Nest bar & restaurant)
Where to Stay:
- Downtown Seattle: This is where we stayed the entire time with the kids & I loved how close all the attractions were and amazing restaurants. We checked out to amazing hotels while in town, our first night we spent it at Loews Hotel 1000 (read my full review here) and the rest of the week we stayed at The Fairmont Olympic (read my full review here)! Both were amazing 4/5 star hotel spots, click on each review to see exactly what we loved about each!
- Capitol Hill
- Bellevue: The Eastside of Seattle, several restaurants and things to do with kids here!
- Ballard Area: Where a lot of locals live! This is a hip waterfront neighborhood that would be cute to rent an airbnb for a weekend!
(view from the space needle: also available via city pass, dress is tiare hawaii)*As always, you can shop all my outfits here from all my trips!
Santa Barbara was not what I expected at all, in a good way! It is about a 2 hour drive typically depending on traffic from LA, and for that reason I expected the area to be a very busy beach town like Santa Monica/Venice area. It did not feel busy at all! In fact it felt like a southern small town on a beach, with very high class/dressed people. We went during “June Gloom” (which is known as the gloomiest weather), but over half the time it was sunny! I saw a quote the other day that also summed up how I felt about the weather and what you should pack in California: “Welcome to California. Winter starts at 6am. Spring starts at 10am. Summer is at 2pm and Fall is around 4:30ish. Dress accordingly.” Too true! Here is everything you need to know!
Where to stay:
Belmond El Encanto: This 5 Star resort is located just a mile up the hills from downtown Santa Barbara and the beach! This was one of our favorite resorts we have ever stayed with the kids! Make sure to request Bungalow 101, you can see behind the scenes videos of the resort on my Instagram stories here.
What we loved about the hotel:
- Proximity: You could walk out of your bungalow and the pool, spa, fitness center, and restaurant/lobby were all within 5 feet. You never had to walk far and the entire property felt small, not crowded at all!
- Pond area: There is a turtle feeding area that the kids LOVED! The bell men give you turtle food and my kids would spend hours sitting by the pond playing with all the turtles.
- Room: I loved that we felt like we were in a small southern house in the middle of a resort. It was a newly updated villa with one bedroom, a huge bathroom with heated floors, and then a small living area with a pull out couch. They even personalize the pillow cases with your last name initial, what a personal touch!
- Dining: We ate on property almost the entire time because the food was so good! Every morning we had breakfast over looking the fog rolling off the beach view you could see from the cliff. Get the nutella french toast!!
- Activities: From onsite work out classes to electric bike rentals, you won’t get bored at this resort but also feel relaxed at the same time!
What to do:
- Explore downtown Santa Barbara & Beach: We rented a fun 4 person bike from Wheel fun rentals SB, located right in the Funk Zone!
- Visit all the kid Museums/Parks: We had a press pass, but we were only able to hop around to 4 different ones during the week we were in town. I loved the Moxi Museum the best, it is right in the funk zone and has a roof top area for the kids to explore. Make sure to visit Santa Barbara Zoo as well, and reserve a private giraffe feeding, or any type of feeding for that matter! We did the turtles! Other Museums we visited included: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (more educational) & Santa Barbara Museum of Natural Sea Center (you can touch the sharks & various animals)
- Hop around all the wineries: There are some in the Funk Zone you can walk around to, but we opted to do a full day wine tour with Dee Tours one day! Dee can customize the tour for you, or you can plan your own tour and just use Dee Tours for the open air jeep that fits 10 people! The Wineries we ended up doing were: Sunstone Winery, Brave & Maiden Winery, & Lucas & Lewellen.
- If you need a babysitter: Belmond Recommended this company- Mummys Day Off, we used them one night while the kids were sleeping and felt great about the babysitter. She said she worked for the company for 3 years since she was 18.
Where to Eat:
- Breakfast: Acai Bowls: Backyard Bowls, Bree’osh Bakery
- Lunch: Brophy Bros (seafood)
- Dinner: Los Agaves (mexican) , The Lark (american)
- Ice cream: McConnells (funk zone area)