NOLA in 2 days

 

A while ago, my husband and I traveled to New Orleans. Frankly, I went along because it had been a long winter and I thought a little sunshine and warm weather would do my soul some good. It ended up being a high of somewhere around 50 degrees, and I was glad to have my sweater boots and this easily packable coat (turns out I didn’t end up packing it away as I had imagined) along. Nonetheless, it turns out that NOLA was just what I needed. Here are my top 5 activities in NOLA- if you’ve been, I’m sure none of them are too surprising but highly recommended nonetheless.

Hotel Monteleone- This was my first and only time in NOLA, so we haven’t stayed at any other hotels, but I would recommend this one for several reasons. One of the last family-owned and operated hotels in New Orleans, Hotel Monteleone has been run since 1886 by five generations of Monteleone’s. It is located on Royal Street in the French Quarter, making it an easy walk to fun restaurants, Bourbon Street, Cafe DuMonde, Jackson Square, the Mississippi River, the French Market, and Faulkner House Books among other places. Speaking of literary greats, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose, and John Grisham have been guests of Hotel Monteleone… just to name a few. In 1999, Hotel Monteleone was given the distinction of being an official literary landmark. Also impressive is the Carosel Bar in the hotel lobby. This 25-seat bar rotates around as you sip your cocktail. The bartenders must have really good facial recognition skills- how confusing!

Bourbon Street- Gotcha! We aren’t that fun!! But we did actually walk down Bourbon Street on our way to St. Peter Street to check out Pat O’Brien’s late one afternoon.  Pat O’Brien’s became a legit bar after the prohibition ended in 1933. The bartender convinced me I should try the famous Hurricane- it was delicious. And required a nap to follow.

Cafe DuMonde- You really can’t visit New Orleans without a trip to Cafe DuMonde. Established in 1862, the Original Cafe DuMonde is open 24-7. However, if you plan to go for a beignet and cafe au lait for breakfast (as we did) plan to spend some time in line. I’ll be honest, when we came to the front of the line, it was a little stressful because some people were being seated and some were seating themselves. Nonetheless, we ended up at a cute little two-person table and had the most delicious, warm beignets I had ever tasted. (My husband had been the day before and strongly recommended that we each order our own plate of beignets- no sharing and no counting calories when you are in beignet heaven!)

Jackson Square- We spent quite a bit of time in Jackson Square. I was in awe of the vast amount of talent in such a small space. The musicians were amazing and the artist colony produced some of the finest street art I had seen. Looking over all of this is the spectacular St. Louis Cathedral and to the side are the oldest apartments in the United States. Oh, and there is also a river named Mississippi nearby. 

Faulkner House Books- This quaint book shop is located just off of Jackson Square. It houses both fine literature and rare editions. It embodies what every book store truly should be and is worth a quick stop in.

French Market- It is also worth the short stroll down to the French Market. Once a Native American Trading Post (think 1700s), the French Market contains great restaurants and fun shopping- I think you could get almost anything in this 6-block eating and spending extravaganza.

Tulane- Yes! We did actually leave the French Quarter. Really for 2 reasons… First, we needed an excuse to ride the New Orleans Street Cars. Second, because we love checking out college campuses, even though our children are no where near college age. (It’s always good to get a head start though, isn’t it?) And, of course, this is where we picked up all of our gifts to bring home.

There you have it- two days in New Orleans. I would go back in a heart beat- what a lively and historical city!

(Sorry we didn’t have any restaurant recs. We ate at Red Fish the first night and loved it, only to find out that … you guessed it… it is a southern chain. We will keep trying!)

Oh, and in case you want to save this for future trips to NOLA, below is a good pic for pinning. And, if you are looking for more pins, don’t forget to check out my profile over on Pinterest.

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

My Ultimate Travel Bucket List

Hello again from cloudy Michigan! Last week, I asked you what was on your Travel Bucket List. This week, I share the Top 10 Places on My Ultimate Travel Bucket List. Since this is a family-friendly travel blog, I’ve included some fun facts to share with your kids, grandkids, neighbor kids… grown-up friends who act like kids… really anyone.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Australia: Australia has always intrigued me. How great would it be to be there right now, enjoying sunny skies and catching a little tennis? Seeing the 12 Apostles would definitely be on my list, too. I do have to admit that binge reading all of Liane Moriarty’s books (affiliate link) this past summer has increased my fascination as well.  And, can you believe that we know two families from our small town who are traveling to Australia in the next year?  That seems like an unlikely coincidence and also an indication that we should probably book some tickets too.

Did you know… that it is believed that humans have lived in Australia for an estimated 45000 years? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Turks and Caicos: I am a huge fan of Caribbean travel. We have been to several islands, including Paradise Island (Bahamas), Grand Caymen, St. Kitts, and Aruba. Every time that I see a photo of Turks and Caicos, I am drawn to it. I can’t quite explain it (maybe it is the white sand, turquoise water, or sunny skies.. maybe?), but it seems like Turks and Caicos and our family would be very compatible.

Did you know…that there are dozens of underwater cave systems in Turks and Caicos? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Colorado: Can you believe I have lived in the United States my entire life and have never been to Colorado? I don’t think I know another person in my city or state who hasn’t been to Colorado. I feel like it must be fairly special because people leave our snowy state to go to another snowy state (what?!?) instead of heading for an all-inclusive in Jamaica.

Did you know… that Colorado is the only state to have turned down the Olympics? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Greece: My parents have such a wild and crazy story about traveling to Greece that it has always had a place in my memory (probably because we all live the opposite of wild and crazy lives). My dad often spoke of Greece fondly and, when I lived in Chicago, it was our tradition to head to Greek Town for dinner. For whatever reason, I just have always wanted to go because my dad seemed to love it so much.

Did you know… that Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Portugal: While I have memories of my dad talking about Greece, Portugal is on my mom’s bucket list. Herein, I also feel enthralled with this country and would love to go someday, hopefully, on a family vacation.

Did you know…that Lisbon (Portugal’s capital city) is the oldest city in Western Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Sweden: Although I am not Swedish, I have been asked several times, especially when I lived in Chicago, if I am Sweedish. Believe me, when I had my children, I often wished I lived in Sweden and could be given the maternity leave that seemed to make sense. It just seems like a place of peace and logical thinking. Oh, and the landscape doesn’t look too shabby either.

Did you know… that Sweden’s official name is the Kingdom of Sweden? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Switzerland: I don’t know much about this country other than Roger Federer represents it quite well. Again, though, judging from pictures of the mountains and the opportunity for outside activity, I think I would be very comfortable.

Did you know… that Switzerland has been a neutral country in war times for over 190 years?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Italy: While in college, I spent 3 weeks in Vienna for summer school. Afterward, several of us traveled south. We spent time in France and Spain… and only one day in Italy. I’d love to return to be able to explore more of the larger cities and history of the country. And, the Amalfi Coast, of course.

Did you know… that Campione d’Italia is in the borders of Switzerland but is part of Italy? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Texas: I really didn’t think twice about Texas until Fixer Upper. Now, it’s on my list. Waco, Texas, to be specific. (Yes, you read that correctly. A destination made my list based on an HGTV show.) I just think it is amazing how two people can really breathe a new life into not only homes but also a town and its inhabitants.

Did you know… that Waco, Texas, is the place where Dr. Pepper came to be? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Vancouver, Canada: Again, you can thank HGTV for this one. I enjoy watching Love It or List It Too not only for the fun little competition my husband and I have going (yes, he is a really good sport about my HGTV addiction) but also because of the beautiful scenery. It looks like a city I’d like to check out.

Did you know… that overall Vancouver is English-speaking but 52% of its city residents’ first language is one other than English? (Source)

*Please note that the pictures above are not my own. They were taken from Pixabay– thank you! Hopefully, someday soon, I will have my own photos to share.

**Please also note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

***While I’m asterisk-ing… I’d love for you to come visit me over on Instagram and Pinterest. See you there!

****And get ready for a giveaway next month, too!!!

Oh, and in case you are wondering what we are up to while we are grounded, here are some photos (these are mine) of our day at the beach last weekend. It was sunny and 60 degrees in January! 

Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road

Top 5 Posts of 2016

Since I love a good countdown and have been seeing quite a few Top 5 Posts of 2016, I thought it might be entertaining (and, admittedly, a bit self-indulgent) to look back, too, especially because I’m grounded until March. (Have a mentioned that? Ha!) Granted, the statistics are from a whole 3 months, but still… Here we go…

5. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life, Part II: This was a fun post. One, because I love lists and, two, because I love gifts.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

4. A Long Weekend in Northern Michigan: Northern Michigan’s beauty never ceases to amaze me. Can you believe that water is in Michigan and not the Caribbean? We had such a wonderful trip; it will definitely be on our list for next year, too.

Northern Michigan

3. Global Christmas and Holiday Traditions in 2 Hours or Less: My son and I had so much fun checking out the holiday displays from our roots at our local gardens. Can you guess which country this tree represents?

Holiday Global Traditions

2. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life: Here I provided several gift suggestions for the traveler in your life. I purchased the Leather Charger Roll-Up for my husband for Christmas, and not only does he carry it with him when he travels, but he also tells me all about it often.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

1. Banff: Something for Everyone: I was so happy to see this as my top post of 2016. It was such a surprising and amazing destination. I really would recommend Banff and Lake Louise to anyone and everyone.

Mackinaw Road- Banff

I’m so excited to see what 2017 has in store for us! We already have four trips planned, two with our larger families, one with the four of us, and one with just the two of us. Do you have any destinations on your bucket list that you are hoping to check off this year?

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

 

12 Travel Swimsuits

Well, it’s been about 0 zero degrees here for almost a week. Since even outdoor activities are out, I’ve decided to start dreaming spring break dreams.

I have yet to meet anyone who loves swimsuit shopping, but, with the promise of warmer days ahead, it is something for which the warm, sunny end outweighs the road to get there.

Obviously, there are a million and one ways to sort swimsuits, but since this is a travel-ish (I promise there will be more consistent travel destination posts beginning in March) blog, I thought it might be fun to match swimsuits with various water activities travelers may embark on in their journeys. It seemed slightly overwhelming and definitely out of my league to sort through swimsuits, so I enlisted the help of some lovely ladies whose blogs and style are amongst my faves.

Disclaimer- while I would have loved to test all of the listed swimsuits with their paired activity I’m not sure my husband (or our finances) would have been supportive.

Let’s start with kayaking. I can handle kayaking. Now, after getting tipped while canoeing with my husband, I am a fan of having my very own kayak. And what is better than this classic, rash guard shirt for a day out on the river?

Photo Credit- J.Crew

Now, I’ll admit, I have no idea how to drive a boat, let alone sail a boat. But, I love being on a boat. And, I would absolutely feel like I belonged on a boat in the Italian Riviera in this suit.

Photo Credit- Boden

While I realize that running after small children around a pool or beach is not an “official” sport, any mom will agree that it most definitely should be. While I do not have this particular swimsuit, I have tried several Boden bikinis and, in my experience, they stay where they should.

Photo Credit- Boden

While we are talking family, one of my favorite water activities as a child was snorkeling with my family. There is just something about being in the quiet of the water, listening to your own breathing and really taking everything in visually. This swimsuit seems perfect for an hour or so under the sea.

Photo Credit- Title Nine

Beach volleyball anyone? I don’t play but I do think that I might be willing to give it a try in exchange for this swimsuit.

Photo Credit- Title Nine

People often ask me if I’m a “runner.” Do I run marathons? No. Iron Mans? Absolutely not. Half-marathons? Nope. But, if you use the term loosely, I guess I maybe am. I love to run 3-4 miles. I also love the beach. Do I run on the beach? Not often. But, the beach is so flat and just goes for miles on Hilton Head Island, so for the week that I’m there, I am a beach runner. This top looks like it would be a great addition to my wardrobe and seems to also include the option to jump in the ocean immediately afterward.

Photo Credit- Athleta

I LOVE paddle boarding. Okay, I’ve only gone twice, and the first time I couldn’t figure out how to effectively turn the paddle board (and was tempted to stop at someone’s boat for a little liquid encouragement), but I really do love it. However, I should definitely defer to Kate from Living Lark. She grew up by the big lake and currently lives by the same said big lake. Oh, and she makes her own delicious aforementioned liquid encouragement. Kate chose this suit as the straps stay in place with all of the arm movements and the bottoms stay in place in the waves. Check and check.

Photo Credit- J.Crew

Another water activity I love is swimming, but I am far from a swimmer. I have no technique or endurance and usually end up just dog paddling for a bit. Fortunately for me (and you), Eva from Cafe Design is an actual swimmer and swims for exercise in the summers. An added bonus? The same classic and timeless style she portrays on her blog clearly translates to her taste in swimsuits as well.

Photo Credit- Tommy Bahama

Wakeboarding. It takes one brave soul to go for it, and Kelly from The Lilypad Cottage is just the one to take it on.  She grew up on a lake, presently lives on a lake, and I can only imagine that she takes on wake boarding with the energy and enthusiasm that she does home design and house projects. Kelly picked this top. And it’s reversible! You know how I love versatility. Another plus? She also gave a great recommendation for these bottoms that she has found stay put no matter what (are you sensing a theme here?).

Photo Credit- Nordstrom

Let’s talk surfing next. Now, this is also a water activity that is sort of frightening for me to watch. But, I really, really would like to try it someday. After watching the surfers everyday while on a trip to Dana Point in California, I have vowed that this is something I will try. This isn’t just California Dreaming. Well, maybe a little. Though, for the time being, I defer to Alessandra from An Expat Diary, for surf suit advice. Originally from Brazil, she has lived in 4 different continents and 6 different cities in the last 10 years, so I completely trust her for advice on surf suits as well as travel suits. She suggested the below suit from her latest Instagram feed; it is from Triangl. Guess where she is? Sal Island, Cape Verde.

Photo Credit- An Expat Diary

While we are talking thrill-seeker activities (at least as far as I’m concerned), let’s touch on jet skiing. Abby from Abby Manchesky Interiors took me out this summer. Abby is a little like her design- classic with a fun little splash of sass built in. Well, let me tell you, this was also the case on the jet ski. I knew I was safe and wouldn’t fly off the back, but I kind of didn’t expect the wave jumping. There may have even been a little “dabbing.” Have you heard of it? I was impressed. And of course she chose a suit with a ruffle to wave jump in because, really, isn’t everything better with a ruffle?

Photo Credit- J.Crew

Honestly, though, there is something about being by the water that makes me just want to take a stroll or sit and read a good Liane Moriarty book… How perfect is this swimsuit?

Photo Credit- J.Crew

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

24 Hours in West Michigan

Someone recently posed the question… What would you do in your city if it was your last 24 hours there? Good question. First, I would cry… because I really do love where I live. Second, I would be all over West Michigan because it would be too difficult to stay in one city, and, with the ease of travel here, why not? Third, how has this not been a dinner conversation topic before? Move over crazy toddler stories, there’s a new topic in town.

I would begin my day with a nice jog around Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids. Waking up to perfectly aligned swans and a gorgeous sunrise? Yes please.

Reeds Lake

Fortunately, the purpose of that run would be more for scenery than good health because I would then head straight to D’arts Donuts in Eastown for a beignet and to-go of Madcap coffee.

D’arts Donuts

After a 40 minute drive to Holland, I would head out to the Big Red Lighthouse and pier to watch boats going out for the day.

Big Red

Because it is difficult to leave the lake on a beautiful day,  Saugatuck State Park would be next on the list for a hike through the woods and a beach walk.

Saugatuck State Park

I’d finish with lunch at New Holland Pub on 8th and a stroll through downtown Holland.

New Holland Brewery

Back in Grand Rapids, I would stop by the GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) because it is the one place I keep meaning to get to and haven’t.

GRAM. Photo credit- Griggs and Woodward

Dinner would most definitely be at Donkey Taqueria…

Donkey Taqueria

Followed by an outdoor concert at Fredrick Meijer Gardens.

Fredrick Meijer Gardens

And back to the lakeshore for a sunset.

Lake Michigan Sunset

So, apparently, I would really just want to eat a lot and be by some of the lakes that make Michigan such a great state in my last 24 hours in West Michigan. Oh, and the remainder of the evening and into the night would be spent with family and friends talking, planning, and reflecting on this porch…

Now, I’d love to hear from you… What are your must-sees and must-dos in your home city?

*Please excuse the multitude of seasons in the photographs… but now you have an idea of the ever-changing weather of Michigan! 

**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!