The Most Effective Way to Have Drinks with George Washington

I’m hoping this comes as no surprise to anyone considering it’s been 218 years since George Washington’s death, but he is no longer alive and able to meet up for beers. However, I recently visited a couple spots that made me feel like I was vicariously in his presence and wanted to share these legendary American taverns with you. One of the things I love so much about traveling is being physically in a place where historic people have been. If you find yourself on the east coast I highly recommend popping in for a beer or two, so you can say you’ve had drinks at the same bar George Washington used to frequent.

(Click the links if you’re interested in reading about their specific history and tie to our first president.)

Fraunces Tavern, New York City

 

Gadsby’s Tavern, Old Town Alexandria

 

Do you have a favorite historic bar?

 

What Traveling Somewhere You Don’t Like Can Teach You

As I scroll through Instagram everyday, I’m bombarded with photos of places I’ve been lucky enough to travel to already–London, NYC, Australia, Nicaragua to name a few. I find myself saying: “London is everything”… then I scroll to a picture of New York: “NYC is the best city ever”… I see a photo of Australia: “nowhere is better than Australia”… a picture of Nicaragua comes next: “Nica has my whole heart.” I feel so strongly about all the places I’ve been able to travel to. These locations will be special to me forever.

After realizing I’m head over heels in love with basically everywhere I’ve traveled to, I started to wonder if I’ve been somewhere I didn’t like. I racked my brain for a couple minutes–I was drawing blanks and even had to ask my husband if he could think of anywhere. I finally remembered that I’ve never been particularly fond of LA. It feels a bit fake to me and it’s smoggy and its trash seems to be everywhere. For whatever reason I don’t mind the trash in NYC, but I can’t stand seeing it in LA. I think overall LA is such a scene that I just don’t vibe with. I did, however, really like Griffith Park, and I’m hoping to go back a couple more times to give other areas a shot for redemption. But it got me thinking about what we learn when we travel somewhere that we don’t connect with. Is it pointless to return? Is precious time being wasted while there? What gems of wisdom can we learn from traveling somewhere we don’t like?

Be open minded even when you feel like you can’t.

I had been to LA multiple times before this past visit and was disappointed each time. If there’s a place you don’t particularly like, it could be because it’s sooo different from what you’re used to. Living outside your comfort zone is definitely not a bad thing. Keeping an open mind and trying to find out for yourself why others find a place beautiful will almost always end on a positive note.

Enjoy the little things.

Whenever I go to LA, even if I’m not completely feeling it, I still try to be present in the moment. Simply recognizing that I’m free from responsibilities and have time to explore is enough to make me happy. It’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted no matter where you are- your favorite place in the world or somewhere that’s just alright in your mind.

Take time grappling with what you don’t like to further understand what you do value.

I really had to take the time to think through what I didn’t like about LA. It doesn’t make you mature or gracious to dismiss a place without articulation. Being able to work through why I wasn’t feeling LA actually allowed me to accept it for what it is and enjoy my time there anyways.

Embracing what a place is known for can be fun regardless.

For example, twirling around like a wannabe model in front of a pink wall surrounded by groups of other people vainly doing the same thing was actually fun. All I had to do was let down my guard down and stop judging and just get into it.

Giving somewhere more than one chance is a good thing.

I don’t want to be the type of person who writes a place off because life is much more complicated than that, and there are always more layers to uncover. Getting time to better discover a place and more of ourselves is the greatest gift.

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Getting our acai bowl on @ Backyard Bowls
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Pink wall twirls in Melrose, Los Angeles
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HoLlYwOoD!

Have you ever been somewhere you didn’t like? What did you take away from that? And would you return?

How To Spend 4 Days Adventuring Through Arizona

With its picturesque canyons, winding rivers, impressive peaks, desert landscapes, and national forests, there is a lot of diverse ground to cover in Arizona, which makes it a great road trip destination. I’ve put together a sample itinerary for how to spend 4 days exploring the Valentine State (AZ became a state on Feb 14, 1912) by car, which you can watch on the vlog here. I’ve also included a cost breakdown at the end.

Day 1: Fly into Phoenix Airport and grab your rental car. Prepare for your longest drive of the trip–318 miles to Monument Valley (~5 hrs). To break up the journey, stop in Sedona for pizza with a view at Hideaway House. Continue onto Goulding’s Lodge just across the border in Utah for your first night. It’s about 10 minutes outside of Monument Valley but half the cost of staying at the hotel on the reservation. Get a good night’s rest because the next 2 days are full of exploration.

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Day 2: Wake up before the sun to tour Monument Valley with Navajo Spirit Tours. Take in the sights and learn about the Navajo way of life from your local guide. I recommend paying for a tour if you want access to the restricted sections of MV and if you’re interested in talking to a native.  Learning about the Navajo culture added a lot of depth to my visit and was definitely worth the cost. Our guide could trace his ancestors back 18 generations (~500 years), and we saw ruins that were about 3,000 years old! Give yourself approximately 3 hours for this part of the day.

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Next, make the 2 hour drive to Page, AZ to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Both these sights are better to photograph when the sun is higher in the sky, so definitely keep that in mind. My friend and I went in February when the sun doesn’t get high enough to cause the famous sun beam in Upper AC, so we opted to tour Lower Antelope Canyon instead. Give yourself an hour and a half total for AC and at least an hour for HS Bend. After an exhilarating but exhausting day of sightseeing, check into your hotel to prepare for day 3! I stayed at Holiday Inn Express Lake Powell.

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Day 3: It’s time to head to the Grand Canyon, which will take about 2.5 hours. I recommend stopping by the visitors center upon arrival to chat with the park rangers. They can help you decide on the best plan for you based on your interests. My friend and I were all about the views, so we spent most of the day admiring the canyon from the various lookouts. We did make some time to learn a little bit about the fascinating geology to help us comprehend what we were seeing. I’ve posted my Grand Canyon photos and review here.  We stayed in the park at Yavapai Lodge which was nice but not necessary if you have a car.

Day 4: Before heading back to Phoenix, catch a final glimpse of the Grand Canyon at sunrise. Then you have 3.5 hours to reflect on the awesomeness of Arizona as you drive back to the airport to fly home. Unless you’ve decided you’re never going home 😉

Cost Breakdown (we went in late February): Accommodation = $126 each, Rental Car = $180 each, MV Tour = $95 each, AC Tour = $26 each, Gas = $18 each, Souvenirs = $30, Navajo Entrance Fee = $20 per vehicle up to four people, Grand Canyon Entrance Fee = $30 per vehicle, and I spent $76 on food.

Where else would you add on to this Arizona road trip??

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Here’s Why You Should Visit the Grand Canyon in February (with photos)

When my eyes laid sight on the Grand Canyon for the first time (and to be honest, every time at all the different viewpoints), my mind could not comprehend its beauty and size. It was instantly clear why so many people flock to visit from all over the world, and to this day, I still can’t put its vastness, colors, and geological significance into words. So I’m not going to try. I’ll just say: go see it for yourself.

I went at the end of February with a friend and highly recommend visiting around that same time. Sure it was a bit nippley, but it was crisp & clear and the hoards of spring & summer tourists hadn’t arrived yet. At one viewpoint I had the platform all to myself. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip and made the canyon feel that much more grand. Having to deal with extreme heat and tons of people would definitely have had an impact on the trip, so I couldn’t have been happier with our decision to go in February. Just make sure you bring a warm jacket, hat, scarf, wool socks, and gloves.

Practical info: I visited the South Rim since the North Rim is closed during winter. The South Rim is about a 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix. I was super impressed with how user-friendly the national park is. There are free shuttle buses that take you around to most of the viewpoints, coming by every 15 minutes. If you go before March, you will need a car to drive the red route to Pima Point as the shuttles do not run there during low season.

Four hours or so is enough time if all you want to do is marvel at the canyon from the various viewpoints. If you want to do any hiking, you’ll need a full day minimum. You could fit the Canyon in as a half day stop during a road trip; however, my friend and I opted to stay the night in the park at Yavapai Lodge. Despite its outdated decor and lack of wifi, we were really happy with the convenient location and price.

Here are my favorite photos of the day 🙂

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We visited the Grand Canyon during a 4 day road trip throughout Arizona. Watch the vlog to see it all in action.

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Southern USA Road Trip: New Orleans via Chicago

Here are my suggestions and photos after spending 2 weeks heading south from Chicago and back! Having never been to any of these cities before (besides Indianapolis), it was a great route and introduction to the American South, an area full of character and history.

Cities we hit: West Lafayette (Purdue), Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Natchez, New Orleans, Tuscaloosa, Indianapolis.

It’s also possible to loop back north a different way if you have more time, making stops along the way in Atlanta and Chattanooga or the Carolinas. So many options!

Purdue to Louisville: 3 hours

We stayed at the Galt House, which I would highly recommend, and then checked out the waterfront and 4th Street Live. Ironically we couldn’t find a KFC but managed to get our hands on some local Kentucky-fried chicken which was delicious!

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Louisville to Nashville: 2.5 hours

We stayed in an Airbnb which was great. We enjoyed all the bars and live music on Broadway Street. Despite being toursity, we had a lot of fun! We also rented bikes and explored Vanderbilt and the cute area our Airbnb was in. We definitely fell in love with Nashville and its charm.

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Nashville to Memphis: 3 hours

We stayed at the Holiday Inn near downtown, which I remember having the best pillows and comfiest bed! I always say Memphis is a place I’m glad I experienced once, but I don’t feel an urge to go back. There is so much history in the area from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elvis, and exploring all that was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me. We also ate some really good barbecue-Central BBQ is where its at!

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Memphis to Natchez: 4 hours 45 min (longest drive of our route but prettiest by far!)

We stayed at Hampton Inn and Suites and couldn’t have been happier with our decision. Not only was there a free happy hour, but they also had a free shuttle to and from the bar/restaurant area. Natchez is full of old plantation homes, which you can go in and wander around and also hear the spiel from the tour guide about the history of the home. We chose to go into 3 homes, which took us about half a day. It was the perfect amount in my opinion because you are able to get in depth with a few places and see enough variety without overdoing it. I enjoyed seeing the beautiful homes and hearing the stories behind them. However, I was disappointed by the lack of information the guides were willing to share about slavery. Clearly these plantation homes were maintained by slaves, yet they would not acknowledge it and almost even tried to deny it when asked. That definitely rubbed me the wrong way and was eye-opening. (Like I said though, we only toured 3 of the many homes so I can’t say that would be the case at all of them.)

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Natchez to the Myrtles Plantation home in Louisiana: 1 hour

Visiting the Myrtles Plantation home was not originally in our plans but we decided to add it in to cut up the drive since it was on our way to New Orleans. Any haunted house lovers out there should definitely check this place out and see if you have any paranormal experiences! It was a spooky and fun couple of hours and made for great conversation the rest of the trip. The grounds were also spooky and beautiful.

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Myrtles Plantation to New Orleans: 1 hour 45 min

New  Orleans, what a party! I also feel like it’s the most European city in the U.S. Must do’s include checking out the French Quarter, eating gumbo and Po boys, listening to live music on Frenchman Street, day drinking on Bourbon Street, and taking in the city from the water aboard the Natchez Steamboat. We stayed in Airbnbs the whole time, which I would recommend.

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New Orleans to Tuscaloosa: 4 hours 20 min

Any college football fans out there might be interested in stopping in Tuscaloosa to visit the University of Alabama for a day. It’s not something I would recommend otherwise.

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Tuscaloosa to Nashville: 3.5 hours

We liked Nashville so much we decided to stop there again on our way home! This time we saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry which I would highly recommend. We partied some more on Broadway and even saw a hockey game at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is always a good time!

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Nashville to Indianapolis: 4.5 hours

(Stop along the way at the Loveless Cafe for some of the best made-from-scratch food you’ll ever have!)

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I tried to keep this post short and simple, but if you want any more in depth information feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

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