Charleston was our first trip in over 6 months out of North Carolina since Covid hit! I was very hesitant at first to see what staying in a hotel would be like during a pandemic but the experience felt even safer than before with all the precautions in place. We actually flew over from Ocean Isle Beach NC with a few friends in a Saratoga plane. It was such a cool experience and only took 30 minutes! Otherwise I recommend driving if on the east coast, its just 3 hours from Wilmington NC, or flying into the Charleston Airport. If you’re traveling with the entire family, make sure to check out my last guide I did on Charleston here!
Here is my run down of things to do in a short weekend! As always, you can see the behind the scenes of our trip on the “Charleston” Highlight on my Instagram here!
Lets get straight to it, because you all know I am turning into a food blogger lately, and most of these places you need advanced reservations at least a few weeks before traveling!
only all the food in Charleston is amazing you really can’t go wrong.
WHAT TO DO:
Rainbow Row: One of the most Iconic photo spots in Downtown Charleston. Explore the streets, take in all the colorful walls, and hit up all the cute shops.
Bike Around- Hotel Emeline provides them complimentary if you are staying on the property, or you can rent nearby easily.
Take a Horse Carriage ride around town!
Visit all the Plantations/Museums (look into getting the Charleston VIP pass)
Take a pedal boat tour!
If traveling with children, visit the splash fountain in front of Harbour View Inn on a hot day.
Go on a Sailing tour (we did this years ago and it was epic)
WHERE TO STAY:(now that I have you ready to go!)
Hotel Emeline: The newest boutique hotel on the block in downtown Charleston. From the moment you walk into the hotel you can smell the aroma of Charleston (not kidding they even sell the scent at the gift shop). The hotel décor is so chic and very “instagramable”. The rooms have a vintage vibe and come with your own record player (say what!). We loved the fact the bikes were complimentary, the proximity to downtown, and the fact the best restaurants were on site! They also provide the cutest Mini Coopers (seen below) to stroll around the city too!
This month I wanted to highlight my favorite work out gear that I have in 3 different shades! You can find all shades currently in stock at shopbop here, so make sure to grab them while you can. I love wearing these outfits when traveling anywhere because it is so light weight and easy to throw pieces on or take them off if traveling to warmer weather 🙂
March 9th weekend feels like a century ago now when I try to recap my thoughts on my best friends Bachelorette party in Scottsdale, AZ. It was the weekend before the world went into pandemic mode. With everything going on in the world right now with COVID-19 virus, traveling in the future just doesn’t seem attainable. It is all temporary, so when we do get back to traveling regularly put this on your saved travel list! I would love to take you all back to sunny days when time stopped still for Nikki Sweeney, soon to be Nikki Cosden! Read below for everything you need to know to plan the perfect Bachelorette in Scottsdale, Arizona. (You can also read another recap of our trip over on Stag & Hen’s blog here!)
Best time to Visit: Spring time- Late February- April. Scottsdale has desert heat, so the summer time can get way too hot. Also March is spring training for baseball teams, so its the ideal time for bars/restaurants to be packed with fun. We went the first weekend in March and the weather is mid 80s!
How to get there: We flew into PHX airport, which takes about 20 minutes to drive into Scottsdale, AZ. I did see there was a smaller airport in Scottsdale you could potentially fly into as well.
Where to stay: What I loved about Scottsdale when researching was that the area is very affordable for bachelorette parties! We found many mansion style houses all around the area for pretty cheap prices! We chose to stay in Old Town area due to being close to all the bars and restaurants. We also wanted to stay at a property that came with full service concierge team and we found that with The Platinum Experience! We booked this exact house, it has 5 bedrooms, a pool + hot tub and fit 11 of us perfectly! The Platinum experience organized grocery delivery for us, early check in, a private chef, and answered any questions we had at all times. I would highly recommend booking a place in Scottsdale with a full team available to help with all necessities to take stress off the planning! Use code BOOKDIRECT10 to receive 10% the nightly rate on any of their properties here.
Our perfect Itinerary: I created this printable itinerary from a downloadable link from this etsy shop!
*Activities mentioned above: We absolutely loved booking the Pedal Bike tour with Arizona Party Bikes! We chose to do a sunset tour and it was the perfect amount of time to hit up all the happy hour spots in Old Town Scottsdale. You can easily book any time on their site, we chose to do a private tour since we had over 10+ people. I would suggest booking at least a month+ out for weekend pedal tours because it is Arizona’s top rated tour for parties! The driver played amazing music & it was BYOB! I can’t recommend this tour enough :). Thank you Arizona Party Bikes for kicking our weekend off right!
This Wrightsville Beach guide is a long time coming! When I say a long time, I mean this was the first beach I ever went to with my family when I was a baby and continued to vacation for 30 years :). Being born and raised in North Carolina you come to love Wrightsville beach and Wilmington NC area because it is the closest beach right off highway 40 when you head to the coast. Not only is it super convenient, it also has always been the most developed North Carolina Beach town with some of the best restaurants and shops to me. This post is also going to be hard for me to write because there are SO MANY good places to go, visit, and eat. For that simple reason, I am going to do two blog posts. This first one I am going to highlight options to stay and things to do with the kids. The next one will showcase where to eat around town, so stay tuned for that too!! So without further ado, below is some info on WB!
How to get there:
You can fly into ILM airport and easily be at the beach in 20 minutes depending if summer/traffic etc. If you are driving, you head straight down 40 East till you arrive in Wilmington. North Carolina is not complicated to figure out 🙂 The best weather in NC typically runs from April-October. The hottest time of the year is typically July-August, with highs touching the 90s.
(pictured here is the Holiday Inn Resort at Wrightsville Beach)
If you want to stay on the beach, any area over the bridges is an easy walk to the ocean.
If you want to stay near restaurants/bars, choose the streets right off of Lumina, or anywhere behind the beach bars (located by Jerry Allens, or Tower 7)
The Southend of Wrightsville is more quiet and secluded in my opinion.
The North end (shell island) has more larger house rentals/full time residents and two hotels on that end.
If you have a boat, look at renting docks by the north end/”lollipop area”
We recently stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort at Wrightsville Beach. I loved this hotel because they have so many amenities on site for kids: Playground, indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, onsite kids camp/playroom, and an arcade room open 24/7. The rooms also have a balcony over looking the pool & ocean!
We have also stayed at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, which is on the south-end of the island. They recently renovated the hotel & the entire outside area is gorgeous.
What to do:
Rent a Boat/Car from Bluewater Transport Charters: One of my favorite things to do in the summer is go out on a boat to some of the neighborhood islands. The closest one is Mason’s inlet, which has small tide pools for kids to play in. On the islands you can bring your own coolers, dogs, and tents year round & spend an entire day out there! You can rent a boat for the day, do a sunrise tour, and even arrange luxury car transfers if a special occasion.
Visit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History: Located at 303 W. Salisbury, find this museum in the middle of the Historic Square of houses all built in the early 1900s. The homes that make up the Historic Square are some of the last survivors of the Great Fire, which roared through
the island in 1934 including the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. The Wrightsville Beach Park is right behind the Museum, so take the kids right after the blow off some energy! Wrightsville Beach Park has a new all-inclusive playground geared towards children with disabilities as well as two outdoor basketball courts, four tennis courts, three sand volleyball pits, one softball field and anopen area for soccer/flag football.
Explore Airlie Gardens: “Encompasses 67 acres of beautiful Gilded Age gardens and lakes. Admire the azaleas,gaze at the camellias, stand in the shade of the 450-year-old Airlie Oak, experience nature’s most delicate and ephemeral creatures – butterflies – in the region’s first
permanent butterfly house.” Airlie Gardens has special events year round, including the famous “Garden Party” which is hosted Azalea festival weekend on that Friday. They also do “Enchanted Airlie” during the holidays where you can pay for a car full to drive and see all the lights!
Book a Cave room with Native Salt Caves & Wellness: This was a really cool experience to take the kids to detoxify your body! From the site, since they can explain their process better: “Providing Himalayan salt caves for halotherapy, Native Salt Cave and Wellness offers the choice of two caves: one for a massage treatment room or children’s cave, and the other for adults to sit and relax enjoying the benefits of breathing the salt-infused air surrounded by Himalayan Salt. The salt used in the halogenerators, found in both caves, is pharmaceutical-grade 99.99% sodium chloride, the same that is used in medical saline solutions. The main Salt Cave holds tweleve. Inhaling dry salt air for a period of time has been a traditional wellness practice. Signature events: Classes, or group sessions, held in the main cave combining massage, light and sound techniques to enhance the salt cave experience.”
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!
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!
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
This trip was one of my favorite ski trips, not because of the town, but because of the house we rented and group of people we went with! We wanted to catch some of Sundance Festival and also experience some epic slopes at the same time. It is safe to say we accomplished everything I wanted to do in Park City! Below is everything you need to know before booking a trip :).
How to get there:
You have to fly into Salt Lake City Airport, and then take a car about 45 minutes into park city.
(This was the view from our rental)
Where to Stay:
Book a house with Vacasa convenient to everything! To be near all the action stay close to main st downtown area. If you are looking to just hit the slopes, I would also stay near downtown for easy access to all the slopes or at a ski in ski out location. You can book our exact vacasa rental here, it checked everything off our list we were looking for! Here is everything I loved about this property!
Location: This house was less than a mile to downtown Park City. We easily grabbed an uber anytime we wanted to head to main st. The views from the rental were also epic.
Size: 5 bedroom, 5 bath, open floor concept. I loved that each room felt like a master bedroom! The house fit 8 adults with ample amount of space left.
Amenities: This house had a fully equipped kitchen, we threw a super bowl mini party here and my husband cooked for everyone without missing any important equipment. There is an outside grill and everything is up to date. Besides the kitchen, the house is its own personal spa! There is a Sauna, Hot tub, and steam room all at the property so you really never need to leave! Plus there are two living rooms for lounging, a ping pong table and Foosball table.
Service: The Vacasa team was so easy to work with and communication was seamless. The house had a lock key code for access and that was my favorite feature. We had a party of 8 people and no one had to worry about keys being passed around back and forth. The Vacasa team also had a basket of check in goodies waiting for us with more instructions for the property. The house was spotless and tons of extra towels by the washer/dryer!
Here are some images of the property I pulled directly from the listing, it was beyond gorgeous!
What to do:
Sundance Festival: Every year the Sundance Institute hosts the festival that usually runs from the last two weeknds in January. The first week is definitely the most popular, with movie stars flocking in from everywhere. We caught the tail end of the festival on the last weekend and no one seemed to be around anymore!
Slopes: Details on all three main mountains you can ski from here at Park City Mountain. Keep in mind Deer Valley Mountain is exclusively for skiers. You can buy all your “Mountain Money” in advance to purchase lift tickets and passes from the site in advance too.
Spa days: Head to Waldorf Astoria to try their new cupping massage! The spa gives you access to all the amenities, enjoy the day at their two hot tubs, heated pool, steam room and sauna in between your appointment! We did a spa day here and ended it by dining on their property.
Shop: Main street hosts all the stores, head to Gorsuch to get fitted for rentals or shop their Women’s & Men’s ski line to be the most fashionable on the slopes! Everything I wore all weekend was from Gorsuch, the team is amazing!
Where to eat:
Breakfast: Five5eeds, Harvest
Lunch: Riverhorse Provisions, The Farm, Burgers & Bourbon
Dinner: Riverhorse on Main, Handle, Tupelo, 501 on Main
Highlight dining experience: Book the “Frostoria Experience” at Waldorf Astoria where you enjoy dining in a heated “Igloo” by the pools!
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!
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
Malibu Farm or Malibu Farm Cafe (both located on the pier)
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.
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!