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travel

The Hilton Orlando X Disney World Guide

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!

travel

Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort & 23 North GR

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!

travel

Kiawah Island, SC Travel Guide

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:

  • Breakfast: 
    -Jasmine Porch-southern cuisine, also great for dinner!
    -Relax & order room service!
  • Lunch:
    -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!
  • Dinner:
    -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!

travel

Seattle Travel Guide

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.
    Admission Includes

  • 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 new, free and fun!  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:  Referred to as the Eastside of Seattle, right across lake washington.  It is about 30 minutes from downtown seattle, amazing parks, beaches and a dry bar here 🙂
  • Ballard Area:  Where a lot of locals live!  This is a hip waterfront neighbord, 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!
travel

Review of The Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle

We checked into the amazing Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle on our second night in town and stayed for four nights!  This place was unreal, I felt like we were in a story book once we walked into the lobby area.  The entire hotel screams luxury and the staff was so amazing it would be hard to complain about anything here.  The Hotel felt like a solid 5 star hotel, so I’m not sure why online it says only 4 stars.  But let me tell you, if you are going to stay at a hotel in Seattle, this should be it!  See behind the scenes of the hotel on my story highlight here and tons of videos.
Read below for everything we loved about the place!

What we loved:

  • The Rooms:  We specifically had the Deluxe Executive King Suite, room 342 and 344 I believe.  I loved that the rooms were connected via a private hallway, and each room had its own pull-out couch with a living space to hang out.  Traveling with kids can be exhausting, so I think it’s important to make sure the room situation is perfect for your own sanity and enjoyment when vacationing.
  • The Amenities:  They have an indoor pool that the workout room over looks so you can conveniently work out while watching your kids swim.  The entire area has a clear roof, which brings so much light in too.  I researched a few hotels in downtown, and I think this was the only one I even saw with a pool!  My kids LOVE hot tubs, and this was the perfect size for them.  It was about the size of a baby pool, and 3ft deep all around.

  • The Location:  Located just blocked from the pier, pike market, and all the action, everything was such an easy walk!
  • The Service: From check in to check out, the entire team at Fairmont Olympic Hotel made sure we were spoiled for everything!  There is also a driver concierge to take you wherever you need to out front. We also did the Spa one day & I loved their new infrared pods that help with releasing antioxidants.
  • The Food:  I could order their entire breakfast menu from room service daily, and I did haha.  The fruit is so fresh and very tropical (papaya, grapefuit, etc) I craved it every morning.  We also enjoyed dinner one night on site at their restaurant Shuckers.  If you love oysters, this place is a must try!

    (picture from shuckers, on site restaurant at the hotel) 

    Thank you Fairmont for having us & for all the special touches during our stay, we can’t wait to visit again!

 

travel

Review of Loews Hotel 1000 Seattle


We spent our first night when we arrived in Seattle at the Loews Hotel 1000 (downtown Seattle) location & it was the perfect welcome into the city!  We have stayed at other Loews properties (see review of Loews Santa Monica here) & always felt their hotels held high standards.  We are kind of hotel and food snobs, so we won’t ever stay at a place that isn’t phenomenal all around if I can help it!  You can see live behind the scenes of the hotel and our experience on my Instagram stories here, under highlights Seattle.

What we loved about the hotel:

  • Location:   A block away from all the action in Downtown Seattle.  You can walk to Pier 57, Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, all within 5 minutes.

  • The Rooms:  We stayed in a Deluxe City view two queen.  I love how the rooms were separated by a wall & curtain, so you actually felt like you were in a suite!  Also in love with their bathtub, the water comes from the ceiling!  Perfect for a small family.  You can book our exact room here.
  • The Dining:  We had breakfast one morning at their restaurant on site, All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar, and it was amazing!!  We had pancakes, fruit, French toast, green tea, coffee, you name it, everything was delicious!  I read the reviews and I know people love to eat dinner here too!
  • Golf Simulator:  If your husband is a golf fanatic like mine, then you just made his trip!  The hotel has an amazing golf simulator you can reserve for two hours ahead of time, or block for a party as well & have food catered in!
  • Family Friendly: We love Loews Hotels because they are very family centric!  They cater to parents and children of all ages.  The snippet below was recently announced this season, which can help families book more on a budget with their hotels! “Loews Hotels has revamped their legacy kids program with the launch of Loews Loves Families, focusing on kids of all ages, from infants to teens. For more than two decades, Loews Hotels has been a brand known for catering to children through Loews Loves Kids. Beginning this summer, Loews Loves Families will elevate the experience for the entire family, parents and children alike, starting with a special Family Road Trip package that will save families money on stays throughout the west coast this summer.”  Book the family road trip package here, valid until Sept 30th! All in all the staff, food, and service was amazing at Loews Hotel 1000 Seattle, we can’t wait to visit again!  Thank you for an amazing stay :).
travel

Santa Barbara Travel Guide

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)

travel

Amalfi Coast Travel Guide

Italy was our last stop on our first Europe trip of 9 days!  My husband has owned an italian restaurant in North Carolina (Babymoon Cafe) for 13 years now and had never been to Italy!  This trip was planned over a year in advance and I wanted it to be perfect for his first experience.  I was VERY overwhelmed when I first started planning this trip since I was use to one destination, and this included several one off trips daily.  After vacationing there, I realized how many people spoke English and it was relatively easy to navigate. We chose to stay in Sorrento because we were only there 4 days and wanted easy access to all the other day trips we were doing.  Sorrento is the center point of amalfi coast, so you can get to Capri, Positano, Ravello, and several other cities within 30-45 minutes.  We did Memorial week/weekend and the weather was in the low 70’s the entire time.  I was pretty chilly at night, so definitely bring layers!

How to get there:

We arrived to Italy by flying from the Mykonos,Greece airport directly into Milan, then connecting to Naples.  I think once the summer is busier there are typically direct flights from Mykonos to Naples.  Once we arrived in Naples, we had a pre-arranged driver pick us up and drive us an hour into Sorrento.  I highly recommend pre-arranged drivers when flying into foreign countries- it takes the ease off as soon as you land knowing you have someone there to direct you immediately on where to go.  You can also fly into Rome to get to the Amalfi coast, but its a 3 hour drive instead of 1.


(Positano)

Where we stayed:

Sorrento– I mentioned earlier this seemed to be the most convenient spot when accessing multiple areas in a short amount of time.  If we were to visit again, I probably would stay in positano or Capri the entire time!
Airbnb:  I booked this specific airbnb 6+ months in advance because the reviews were amazing and it had 3 bedrooms for our party in the heart of Sorrento.  I communicated directly with the owner, Guiseppe immediately after booking and he stayed in touch the entire time!  I loved having a local as a point of contact because he was able to set up all the excursions we wanted to do and connect us with local drivers.   I really felt like Guiseppe went above and beyond to make sure our entire stay was amazing.  The property was very comfortable & clean!  I loved the huge wrap around patio that opened up in every room to the fresh lemon gardens out front.   You can get a discount off booking airbnb rental here!

(balcony of airbnb overlooking lemon trees)

Where to eat

(advance recommendations 3 months+ minimum all these places!)
-We were suprised that a lot of the pasta dishes were around $20, same price as you would see in America!

  • Sorrento:
    Lantica Trattoria – this was my favorite meal of the entire trip!! Get the lemon linguine, I still dream about it.
    Il Buco– Michelin star
  • Capri:
    La Fontelina– Beach club, reserve beach chairs 3 days in advance and have lunch here!
    Da Paolino– Dinner under lemon trees!
    Il Riccio– another lunch spot, michelin star
  • Positano:
    Le Serinuse hotel– Lunch (la sponda), dinner (Oyster bar, terrace area)
    Terazza Cele- dinner
    -Chez Black- Lunch- ask for heart shapped pizza
    La Tagliata– dinner

 

What to do:

  • Day trip to Capri–  We used Fernandos Boats and we booked him a little longer than usual from 9am-7pm!  This was my favorite day and island in Italy.  You can spend the entire day exploring Capri, or ask the crew to take you to the blue grotto or caves to swim.  When on Capri request a convertible taxi to enjoy the ride up! Also stop by the sandal shop in Ana Capri to get custom made leather sandals! (see my Instagram story highlights here for more info).  Then take the gondola up to the highest point and see the island from that view.    Spend the day at one of the beach clubs I mentioned earlier, we immediately started there when we got off the boat.  To get the famous Rock pictures you see in my photo, tell the boat driver to take you to Faraglioni, and stop the boat for pictures :).
  • Tour the Amalfi Coast-  We did this our first full day to get a grip on the geography of the coast!  It was a warm & easy welcome.  We used Salvatore’s Touring company here.  Our driver stopped at beautiful sites along the coast and gave as limonchello every time!  We stopped for lunch in Amalfi at what seemed like a castle over looking the beach.  We did a little shopping there then headed back to Sorrento around 4pm.
  • Rent Vespas–  Okay we did this the VERY last day, and by then the guys felt more comfortable after driving all other ATVS across europe cities.  We rented them from Jolly’s in Sorrento, and drove them to positano Saturday morning.  Surprisingly, the roads were very calm and the directions on my GPS fairly easy with signs.  The day before it looked like a nightmare on the roads, so definitely be careful if you rent them.  But I LOVED the ride and views this day!
  • Visit the Pompeii Ruins My sister & brother in law did this one morning.  Salvatore’s team arranged this as well and set up a lunch for them before heading back!
  • Rent a boat for Amalfi Coast– If we had more time, I would have loved to do a boat tour for the amalfi view!
  • Booking a cooking class– again if we had more time I would have loved to do this too!* Thank you again Guiseppe, our airbnb rental, for arranging all the above for us, it made our trip seamless! Cant wait to be back!





travel

Santorini Travel Guide

Santorini was our first destination on our Europe travels and it definitely had the best architecture & views!  We spent three nights in Oia, Santorini and I felt like it was the perfect amount of time before we hopped to the next city.  It isnt as easy as you think to get these famous blue domes in your pictures.  You need to head down Oia shops towards Alexander Jewlery, take an immediate left right after all the way down and then veer right at the fork in the road.  Right there you will see how I got this shot!

Below is everything you need to know if you are planning a vacation there:


(Streets of Athens before we headed to santorini)

 

How to get there:

We flew first into Athens, Greece from America on a red-eye since it was a more common airport for flights.  We spent a few hours in Athens exploring the city and then hopped on a quick 45 minute flight over to Santorini around 5pm.  We flew American Airlines for this trip and everything went smoothly.  If you are coming from a Greek Island, you can take a Sea jet ferry, we used to get to Mykonos and can read more about that on my Mykonos Travel Guide here.

Where to Stay:

Oia:  This is where we stayed because it is where all the restaurants and views I wanted to see were.  It is also were all the famous blue dome and white architecture pictures are taken.
Fira:  This is about 20 minutes away but is more locals, more restaurants and more of the real santorini feel from what I could gather when we rode through.
There are other cities you can stay & research, I just don’t know much about them!


(streets of OIA right outside our airbnb rental)

Accommodations:  We stayed at Oia Villa Clio rental I booked through Airbnb.  It has two bedrooms, two bath, and two single beds in the living room which we all rotated sleeping on.   It was hard to find a 3 bedroom or bigger place without breaking the bank in Oia, so we all split this place!  I loved the location and outdoor patio of this rental.  It had a hot tub and we enjoyed breakfast outside just gushing over the views of the sea and surrounding buildings.  This property was right by the market and an easy walk to all the restaurants and shops.  The owner, Nick, was so helpful.  We booked all our excursions and ATV rentals I sent him!


(View from our airbnb patio)


(View from highest point Pyrgos)

What to do:

  • Book a Yacht:  We booked ours through Explorer 1 Yachting.     I really wanted a boat with the netting up front to lay on but apparently you have to specify the boat because we didn’t get that one- so make sure to tell them or make sure you are getting the boat pictured online!  I also actually got some what sea sick, so highly recommend taking Dramamine or just staying at the top outside of the boat when its moving.  The water wasn’t even that rough, I just always get kinda queasy.   Other than that, the crew was great, they cooked us sunset dinner and we met this awesome couple on our tour as well.  My sister told me to do semi-private because she loves meeting other people while traveling and I am so glad we did!  The tour took us to red & white beach, and stopped a few places where you could jump in the water!
  • Rent ATVS:  We did this in every city we stopped and it gives you so much control to just see the island at your own pace!  GPS worked just fine on my iphone, and the entire island is only about 2 hours long.  This was my favorite day.  We rented buggies from Vazeos here.  We wanted to two-seaters and they felt a lot safer since we were easing into the ATV experience on islands.  (As our trip went on we got more brave with rentals haha).  I was surprised how cheap rentals were, most the time about $40 Euros per day.
  • Go to Wineries:  We went to SantoWines because of the views and I also booked an appointment in advance with Venesanos Winery which is right beside it.  It was definitely a place to hang out by locals and have coffee looking out at the sea.  For a more local spot we heard to go to Gavalas Winery or smaller ones that didn’t have the views of the sea.
  • Go to Beach clubs:  Apparently the only one that is busy on the island is Wet Stories.  Seems to be a local hang out, there was a beach bar hang out right next door completly empty with exact same set up.  I wasn’t exactly sure the hype with the other one, we never went inside.
  • Hike:  We went to the highest point of the island at Pyrgos and it was beautiful!  It probably took about 15 minutes to get to the top, its through the center of the city and tiny cobbled streets.


(location: Santo wines)

  Where to Eat:

  • Breakfast: Depending where you stay, order the night before so they can have it freshly made and delivered to your accommodations!  Make sure to check portion sizes, we found out we were ordering mini size plates one morning and it did not feed us all!  I had read there was an amazing crepe place in fira too.
  • Lunch: Amoudi Bay area on the water if in Oia, Metaxi in Fira, Luckys Souvlaki or do lunch at the wineries.  We also stopped by a local pizza place that had amazing pasta too: Sirocco.
  • Snack: Gelato- Lolitas
  • Dinner: Ambrosia (request upper table), Panorama Balcony (Book them here months in advance at Canaves Oia) – pictured below.

    Cheers to Santorini!
travel

Mykonos Travel Guide

I am starting my Summer Series of Europe Travel Guides with our Mykonos trip because it was our favorite!  We loved the food, views, and vibe all around in Mykonos after traveling to all over.  Also our best friends got engaged while we were there so it was extra special!! We only spent two nights, but I think another main reason we were so happy in Mykonos town was mainly do to our amazing accommodations we rented through Kid & Coe, ill go into detail on everything below!

How to get to Mykonos:

You can fly directly into Mykonos Airport, but flights are expensive and can be tricky depending on the time of year.  Since Mykonos was our second island in Greece, we flew into Santorini first then took a high speed ferry jet over to Mykonos.  We booked on SeaJets here!
The Ferry takes about 2 hours, and it feels like you are on a big luxury plane!  I was blown away how nice it was inside, your own assigned seating, a cafe, bathrooms and various levels.  Make sure to print your ferry tickets out prior to arriving at the port, it is very busy and that way you don’t need to wait in line to get your tickets to board.  They board the ferry about 30 minutes prior to departure, make sure you are there they do not care about people being left! Once we arrived at Mykonos we had a car service waiting for us to take us to the place, the owner of our villa arranged the pick up, but i strongly suggest coordinating with your accommodations for a ride as soon as you get off the ferry.


(This is a hidden little restaurant called Kastros)

Where to stay:

Location: Mykonos Town: This is where all the shops and pretty cobbled stone street pictures you see all over social media are.  The Island isn’t too big if you stay elsewhere, but all the restaurants are mainly downtown too.  We had ATVS dropped off at our property and drove these around the island while in town.  We easily got to certain spots within 10-15 minutes.

Accommodations:
We stayed at this 6 bedroom house: Villa Astra which we booked through Kid & Coe.  It was less than a mile from the Mykonos Town, and the perfect house for family, friends, or any special occasions when traveling with a big group.  I like to travel to destinations before bringing my kids, and this was one spot I am dying to bring them back to.  You can see a tour of the entire property under my Instagram story highlights here!

(View of mykonos town from the top master bedroom)

(Back of the house view point)

What I loved about Villa Astra:

  • 6 bedroom house:  Need I say more.  Everyone had their own room, own bathroom, the luxury of being in a house to just cook or relax outside if you wanted to.  I noticed this after our first rental on the trip were we all felt very on top of each other.  It was nice to take a breather.  There was even an outdoor two bedroom guest suite that another family could stay in if traveling together.  Kid & Coe properties hone in on rentals that are specifically family friendly.  The owner had car seats readily available, there was one adorable room with bunk beds, and high chairs/pack-n-play accessible if needed.  The pool and outdoor area was an added bonus!
  • Location:  Mykonos town- I mentioned above this is where you want to be if you’re going to be exploring, walking, and eating down town a lot.  This property is less than a mile from town.  I also want to mention even though the house was on a main traffic road, there were multiple doors, garages and locks for security.  We actually got locked out of the house multiple times because of the layers of safety!  This is huge when traveling to a new city you know nothing about.
  • Hospitality:  The property came with its own “house keeper” that immediately greeted us upon arrival, showed us around the property, and was available anytime I needed anything.  Yeirdon sprained his ankle one night and the house keeper even got him crutches!  She reserved our ATVS for us, and put me in contact with the taxis we used to get around the island.  She mentioned you could arrange a chef to come cook you meals in the house as well for around $200-$300 Euros.  If we had more time at this property I would have set this up for breakfast or a meal!

Kid & Coe associated:  The booking was very easy, their team verifies your account once you create a profile here and make sure all your rentals are safe!  Enjoy a $250 travel credit by booking any of their properties here using code MAYDAY19!

 

Where to Eat:

Breakfast:
Crepeland- Mykonos Town

Lunch:
-Nammos Beach Club- Best drink and food I had on the entire trip!  You can purchase beach chairs and hang out here all day too.  People bring their yachts up and jetski to the dock.
-Kikis Tavern
-Mamaloukas

Dinner:
-Interni- Mykonos Town- we all agreed this was our favorite dinner.  It turns into a lively party some nights, and they bring sparklers out for birthdays!
-Scorpios:  We did sunset here outside, the food was great and it turns into a party Sunday/Tuesday/Thursdays!
-Buddha Bar- we didnt make it here our last night but I researched a ton and this came highly recommended.


(This was at Scorpios evening sunset dinner)

What To do:

  • Rent ATVS:  We had 4-wheelers dropped off at our villa from a local rent shop.  You can find any around the island and I would coordinate with your host or hotel.  I loved being able to explore the island without having to arrange a taxi, and go at your own pace.  We rented ATVS in each city we went to in Europe and it was always my favorite day!  We took our ATVS to Nammos Beach Club one day and Mykonos Town.  There are parking areas all around, and the rodes were not too crazy.  I used GPS on my iphone for all the locations and it worked very well.
  • Go to Beach Clubs: You can spend an entire day at one beach club or hop around.  I heard Nammos & Scorpios were the nicest when I researched, so those were the two we hit up in town.  I LOVED Nammos, the food the set up, and the drinks were my favorite!  Everything is pricey there, but that’s where I would splurge and get two chairs and spend the entire day hanging out there.  Scorpios is more of a party scene, they didn’t have any beach chairs when we went, its more of a dessert feel on top of a cliff.  Great for sunset and nightlife.  We hear Paradise Beach Club was huge and more of a rave scene.
  • Hotel/Restaurant Hop:  There are so many gorgeous hotels I wanted to check out but didn’t have time.  Cave Tagoo was on that list, so if you have some free time- Have drinks or a meal at their infinity pool!  Buddha Bar we didn’t make it to that dinner either, but heard that location amazing.
  • Shop/Explore:  Mykonos Town is very spread out, you can spend an entire day their eating, walking around the shops, and taking beautiful photos.

    (location: Nammos Beach Club)

    What to Pack:

  • Blues & Whites!  It was low 70s when we were there, so I made sure to have pants and jackets for night time.  I always pack flowy dress and layering pieces when traveling to places with various temperatures.  You can shop my looks here!