Category Archives: North America

24hrs in Boston, MA {Birthday edition}

24hrs in Boston, MA {Birthday edition}
24hrs in Boston, MA {Birthday edition}

Last weekend may have been Labor Day but it was also my 32nd birthday! Yikes, I’m really getting old…

Anyways my awesome boyfriend wanted to take me away and I suggested Boston, because it is only an hour from our home state of RI and I hadn’t been there in quite sometime. My only birthday requirements were to stay in a nice hotel and to be taken out for a steak dinner.

Requesting a nice hotel wasn’t new for me, I LOVE staying in hotels, but the steak dinner was another story.  Most of the time, I crave Italian, this time I wanted something I hardly ever order and that was a nice piece of steak.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it again but let me start from the beginning with the hotel…

W Hotel‘s are probably my second favorite hotel chain, the first being the Four Seasons. There are many reasons why I love the W and here are a few; modern, PRODUCTS, fashion savvy, and technology friendly.

King size bed

King size bed

Bliss make some of the best beauty products

Bliss make some of the best beauty products

So those two pictures right there are two of my favorite things about the W Boston. Unfortunately during my stay the technology was lacking–there were plugins for iPhones and tablets, however they simply did not work. (sad face)

Another wonderful thing that happened during my stay at the W Boston was the surprise from my boyfriend…

Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries

Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries

Yep, he’s a keeper!

So lets talk about that steak dinner I enjoyed. Originally we had planned on dinning at Top of the Hub in Boston but after reading the reviews it seemed like more of a place to get drinks at instead of food.  After a bit of digging I found the restaurant Smith & Wollensky.  A chain restaurant I know but a 5 star chain restaurant. We decided to give it a go. Now while I would have loved to photograph my entire meal, all I got was a picture of the steak (I was trying not to be on my phone).

Gorgonzola crusted filet mignon

Gorgonzola crusted filet mignon

It was quite possibly the best piece of food I have ever eaten.  Now as far as the actual restaurant goes, I would probably not go back, mainly because of decor and parts of my steak were undercooked. I understand it was a huge filet BUT for $50 it should be cooked to my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate 80% of it, so it wasn’t terrible.

So as you can see my 24hrs in Boston were well spent. I had a great birthday weekend with my boyfriend and couldn’t have asked for anything more. I hope your Labor Day weekend was great too!

 

Mini-Weekender: Portland, Maine

Mini-Weekender: Portland, Maine
Mini-Weekender: Portland, Maine

I love going away for the weekend and I really love when it’s a spontaneous trip! Well this past weekend I headed up to Portland, Maine for a little beer and some good eats. (ok a lot of beer) Portland is one of those cities that I’ve been to so many times yet find something new to do everytime I am there. If you love to eat and drink, Portland is the place for you.

So where should you stay? I was fortunate enough to stay at The Westin Portland Harborview hotel. Gorgeous views and mouth-watering food is what keeps this place at the top of my list for future places to stay.  A small room with a king size bed is just what was needed to get my min-vacation off to a good start. A view of the harbor on the 7th floor was just what I needed after a long week of work.

Not only does The Westin have spectacular views but it also houses TWO bars, one of them being rooftop. Upstairs you will find a fantastic drink menu, an awesome bartender Diana, and appetizers for that late night snacking. Downstairs in C2 is home to a great drink menu, but an even better cuisine across the board. I was lucky enough to enjoy an amazing breakfast, complete with a mimosa and stuffed french toast!

Stuffed blueberry french toast

Stuffed blueberry french toast

Blueberry mojito

Blueberry mojito

Lets talk about food! My favorite!! There are some great places to eat and drink in Portland. One of them being The Great Lost Bear. I’ve been there before, many years ago, this time was a tad different, I only drank there BUT their food is out of this world. This bar features a great bar food selection and also 69 taps with over 50 craft beers! This girl LOVES craft beer.

photo 1

Seadog Blueberry

 

Another place to eat, which wasn’t one of my favorites BUT they did have something on the menu I thoroughly enjoyed, Buck’s Naked BBQ. If you like poutine then stopping here is a must. The other items on the menu were subpar at best but drinks and poutine, you’ll be alright.

Poutine!

Poutine!

Another restaurant that I visited was DiMillio’s on the Water. If you like great views and good seafood, I would recommend it. There were two other restaurants that I wanted to try but desperately needed reservations for were Street & Co. and Fore Street. If you plan on visiting Portland I highly recommend making reservations.

Overall it was a really great mini-vacation in Portland, Maine. I always have such a great time, eating, drinking and exploring the city. I hope your weekend was great too!

My face sums it all up

My face sums it all up

 

15 San Francisco Breweries For Your Tasting List [graphic]

15 San Francisco Breweries For Your Tasting List [graphic]
15 San Francisco Breweries For Your Tasting List [graphic]

The history of brewing beer in San Francisco dates back to the mid-1800s. The Gold Rush spurred the creation of hundreds of bars to quench the thirst of hard-working gold miners. The infamous earthquake of 1906 laid waste to many of the breweries, and…

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5 Weekend Worthy Trips

5 Weekend Worthy Trips
5 Weekend Worthy Trips

It’s about that time when summer is coming to an end and you start realizing that you haven’t done much in the form of a vacation or if your feeling British, a holiday. Over the summer I tend to take mini-vacations. I like driving somewhere for a few hours and just getting away from it all without all of the hassle of buying plane tickets and booking week-long accommodations. Getting away for a few days, especially when it is spontaneous is exciting!

Traveling with my significant other is the best! I love getting away from it all and just having “alone” time. Not having to worry about grocery shopping is a huge plus in my book. So what types of weekend getaways are you looking for?  If your still looking for a min-vacation here are a five of my must have holidays for couples:

1.  Cape Cod

Any New Englanders in the house? If so then you know how fantastic a weekend on Cape Cod really is. Most places in Cape Cod get snatched up quick and even hotel prices start to sky-rocket once August hits. Plan early and you will be all set.

2. Napa Valley

If your living in the area this is a great place for weekend getaway. Take the Sideways (movie) tour and visit Napa and Sonoma Valley. Ideally renting a convertible for the weekend would make the most sense but either way wine tasting in this gorgeous scenic town is highly romantic and on my must-do list.

Vineyards in Napa Valley

Vineyards in Napa Valley

3. Portland, Maine

If you’re an avid reader which I’m assuming you are, you would have just read about my latest trip to Portland. It’s really such a great city for a weekend getaway. Plenty to do and see and enough to keep you coming back for more.

4. New York City

We all know I have this love hate relationship with New York City. I want to love it but I just can’t. Spending a weekend there is the absolute maximum amount of time I care to spend. However it is great for a weekend. So many thing to do, eat, and see make it a perfect place to drive or take the train in.

5. Newport, Rhode Island

So you’ve never been to Rhode Island? Well Newport is a great place to start, especially in the summer. A weekend is usually enough time to see and do most of the fun stuff. Between the mansions, beaches, and restaurants, you probably won’t want to leave. My favorite place in Newport is Castle Hill. This Inn is open to the public for drinks on the lawn, not many tourists know this so it makes the spot not overly crowded. It is a tad pricey but the view is well worth it.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

 

Going away for the weekend is fantastic and like I’ve said before I almost prefer it to large trips. Don’t get me wrong I’d kill to be traveling Europe with my brother at the moment but spending a weekend in another city closer to home is still ok in my book.  Many of the cities that I’ve mentioned are great for a three-day weekend (holiday weekends). When visiting the coast make sure to book far in advance for the best price. Stay tuned for some weekend getaways once the weather turns colder.

24hrs in Portland, Maine

24hrs in Portland, Maine
24hrs in Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine is hands down one of my favorite places to visit here on the east coast. After having a roommate in college who is from the area, I really got to know Portland as more than just a place to visit. Between the food, craft beer, and sites, it is easily a city that I would move to in a heartbeat.

Impromptu trips are always the best ones and thats exactly what the boyfriend and I did  a few weekends back. He had never been to Maine before, let alone Portland, so I decided it was in his best interest if I gave him a small tour of one of my favorite cities.

24hrs can be a really great time frame to check out a small city like Portland. Ideally 2days is usually good but you can definitely get a feel for it after 24hrs. There is just enough going on in this city that will keep you coming back for more. Summer is probably my favorite time to visit because of all the great outdoor restaurants. However if you do decide to visit other times the beer isn’t going anywhere!

The first stop on our tour was our hotel, Hampton Inn Portland Downtown. Location, location, location is all I have to say about this. You literally can walk to everything but its just outside the “bar district” where you don’t feel like your staying in all the commotion.

After checking in, I have to say that I was really impressed with the room and the amenities that it offered. Every girl loves to scope out the travel sized products and I was pleasantly surprised to find some must have items!

I love the makeup remover towels!

I love the makeup remover towels!

 

Another great feature is that all the bedding was cleaned especially for our visit. No, we are not royalty but this is just something that Hampton Inn prides themselves on. How do we know it was clean? Here’s the note we found upon arrival:

 

Thrilled to see this note!

Thrilled to see this note!

 

Beer anyone? After checking in, the boyfriend had been dying to check out the Shipyard Brewing Company and believe it or not even after all my times visiting Portland I had yet to take this brewery tour. We were visiting on an off brewery tour day, so all we could see was the bottling room, but that didn’t stop us from tasting just about every beer they had to offer. Our favorites including Apricot Ale and Smashed Pumpkin.

If your still in the mood for great beer after that, one of my favorite places to grab a beer is Bull Feeny’s. An old school Irish bar that offers a lot of craft beer and liquior. There are no frills here but thats ok. The beer is cold and the food is amazing!

When your visiting Portland in the summer one of the must-haves is seafood and there really is no better place to grab a bite of food then Portland Lobster Company. Delicious bread bowl chowder, clam cakes, and lobster really completed a fun filled day for us. There is nothing better than sitting out on the deck enjoying a few beers, local music, and more seafood than you know what to do with.

The view from outside is amazing!

The view from outside is amazing!

 

24hrs in Portland, Maine is certainly not enough time to see and do it all. Luckily for us it is only a few hours away so we will be back very soon to finish eating and drinking our way around the city. I can’t wait!