Archive of ‘City Guides’ category

City Guide: Los Angeles

CITY-GUIDE

So…up until recently I thought that L.A. was completely overhyped. Why? Because I’d never been there before! A few weeks back, I headed to the West Coast for some much needed girl time with two of my very best college friends who moved out there after graduation. I fell head over heels in love with all of the amazing people, street art, and the overall laid-back and inspiring vibe of the city. If you’re heading to La-La Land in the near future, read on for my favorite spots!

Brunch and shopping  on Abbot Kinney
Abbot Kinney is by far my favorite stretch of L.A. I’m telling you, it’s where all the cool people hang out.  You’ll find amazing coffee and juice shops, restaurants, shopping and more. Head to my brunch spot of choice, Gjelina (Jay-Z & Bey are supposedly fans as well) for some fresh veggies or a wood-fired pizza and glass of champagne to cure your sins of the night before. Then hit the shops up and down the palm tree-lined boulevard. You’ll find everything from affordable costume jewelry to Kenzo and Marni dresses at Satine.

Biking from Venice Beach to Santa Monica pier
If it’s not too hot out, rent a bike for $6 in the grungy, hip Venice Beach. Take your beach cruiser along the bike path, past Muscle Beach, all the way to the Santa Monica pier! It’s not a long ride at all, but the people-watching is some of the best in all of L.A.!

Hike Runyon Canyon
You know how you always see those photos in tabloids of Cameron Diaz or Nicole Richie walking their dog and hiking? Well, I didn’t see anyone famous on my hike, but the view was pretty breathtaking (literally). Get your cardio in during your trip and take in the lay of the land from above.

The Bungalow Santa Monica
Imagine if you grew up in Santa Monica, and your parents had an amazing beachfront bungalow where they let you throw parties during your summers home from college. That is what The Bungalow is reminiscent of. Each room of the beach house has a different vibe, from a cozy fireplace, to a long dining table, to cushy outdoor couches and more. This is the perfect place to catch up with your friends and indulge in some summery cocktails.

Melrose Trading Post
If only I had endless dollars and space in my suitcase! I could have spent an entire day picking out furniture, chandeliers, jewelry and vintage clothing in this haven. My favorite purchase was an amazing kimono from the brand, Phraseology. I can’t wait to pair it with cutoff jean shorts and sandals this summer!

 What are your favorite Los Angeles spots?

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City Guide: Melbourne

GUIDE TO MELBOURNE

Australia is a great place to visit anytime, but it is absolutely incredible place to visit during the summer. And by summer, I mean their summer (December-February) when the Northern Hemisphere is suffering through winter’s bleakest months. I recently popped down to Melbourne to attend a spectacular wedding, and wanted to share a few of my favorite finds from the capital of Victoria:

Laneways
Melbourne is known for its laneways: a seemingly endless maze of narrow alleys that cut through the city’s CBD (Central Business District). Once used for horses and carts, today the narrow paths only allow exploration a pied – ideal transportation for exploring the charming cafes, unique boutiques and cozy bars hidden among the twists and turns. Yet, what make the Melbourne laneways truly incredible are the stunning graffiti-style murals that cover almost every inch of the concrete walls and offer exciting new imagery with every turn.

Queen Victoria Night Market
The Queen Victoria Market is a historic marketplace sprawling across two bustling, vibrant city blocks in downtown Melbourne. While the Market is open every day, during the summer months visitors can enjoy the Night Market every Wednesday night. Set beneath a starry sky, the summer tradition invites people to explore local handmade jewelry, fun fashion, interesting souvenirs, live performances and much, much more. To sweeten the experience, the mid-week fun features an incredible array of delicacies from around the globe, making the hardest thing deciding what to try first!

Rooftop Cinema
With 360-degree views of Melbourne’s striking skyline, Rooftop Cinema allows you to experience your favorite movies from a totally new vantage point (quite literally). Nightly, the (aptly named) Rooftop Bar transforms into an outdoor theatre where rows of lawn chairs provide a comfortably casual viewing experience set to a sparkling cityscape.

Croft Institute
Somewhere among Melbourne’s ever winding laneways lays Croft Institute, a hidden cocktail lounge unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The multi-level bar is designed to look like a science laboratory, equipped with beakers, test tubes and drinks served in oversized syringes. While the second and third floors feel slightly more ominous, the first floor pays homage to a high school science class, but in lieu of chemicals and vials the shelves are stocked with an impressive assortment of liquor. The venue’s eerie mad scientist décor and delicious cocktails is definitely not something to miss!

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City Guide: Amsterdam

Girl's Guide to Amsterdam

A recent European adventure with my family was chock-full of “pinch me” moments (I cannot confirm nor deny that I shed a tear upon seeing Big Ben…and the Eiffel Tower), but bike riding through Amsterdam may have been the most surreal. My brother is currently living in Amsterdam so we were treated to a quasi-Dutchman’s tour and really experienced the city. The 165 canals, small bridges, and cobblestone streets make the large city seem small and storybook-esque. Here are a few of my favorite spots and top tips for a trip to Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

Pancakes!
What’s in a name? For this adorable café: everything. The menu is packed with every flavor of Dutch pancake (also called pannenkoek, Dutch pancakes are much thinner than our fluffy Bisquick pancakes.) you can imagine. In true Amsterdam style, Pancakes! is housed in a narrow row house with only a few tables so prepare to wait – I promise it’s worth it! In addition to the delicious ‘cakes, you’ll get to take home a sweet little souvenir – a tiny Dutch shoe.

Winkel 43
Serving up the most delicious, Instagram-worthy apple pie, this bustling establishment is an absolute must. Located in a neighborhood with lots of street markets, Winkel is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of Amsterdam.

Albert Cuyp Market
Open Monday through Saturday and select Sundays, this market has more than 300 stalls where vendors sell food, clothing, jewelry, and more. I picked up this sweater and a knit hat – success!

De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets)
Was it fate that my parents’ hotel was just around the corner from the top shopping area in Amsterdam? What about that the handbag I purchased at a boutique is called the “Chicago” bag? Mhmm.

Anne Frank House
A highlight of the trip, I absolutely recommend adding the Anne Frank House to your bucket list. Walk up the narrow steps to the annex and step inside the pages of the diary known across the world. Take my advice and purchase your tickets ahead to avoid the lines that often wrap around the building. More than a museum, the converted row house opened in 1960 and welcomes more than one million visitors each year.

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City Guide: Charleston

CHARLESTON-CITY-GUIDE

Charleston, South Carolina. The name alone is enough to set my heart aflutter. I lived in this spellbinding Southern city for four magical years and attended its charming university, the College of Charleston. During my time there, I’d like to say I became somewhat of a connoisseur of all things beautiful, fun, and delicious. From whimsical boutiques to the best restaurants in the Southeast, this small town is anything but sleepy. Here are some of my insider faves:

FUEL Cantina
If you are looking for a great patio hangout with flavorful food, this is it. Located just a stone’s throw from rowdy upper King Street, this Caribbean cantina is sure to provide a great time. Sip on one of their famous “Pain Killer” cocktails or go classic with a “Cadillac Margarita” while you try your hand on their outdoor bocce court. Housed in a vintage gas station, FUEL is a summertime essential…and did I mention they have the best nachos in town (Roasted Chicken Nachos to be exact)?

Sam’s Closet
In a city with a lot of shopping, this little boutique was always my go-to. With a mixture of bright silk dresses from Naven and staple shoes from Dolce Vita, Sam’s Closet always gets it right. Whether you are shopping on a college girl’s budget (check out their awesome sales!) or looking to invest on the perfect dress for those summer weddings, this boutique just off of the corner of King Street’s shopping district is a one-stop shop for the perfect Charleston wardrobe.

The Rooftop Bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel
Want to enjoy a cocktail while taking in the best views in the city? Look no further than the Rooftop Bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel. This rooftop bar boasts a pool for perfecting your tan during the day and transitions into a hopping bar complete with DJ and breathtaking views at night. Indulge in a martini and take a seat next to the rail to get a glimpse of all of the Charleston sights, from the Ravenel Bridge to the Customs House. The Rooftop Bar at the Market Pavilion hotel is the place to be if you want a swanky atmosphere with a view.

You can take the girl outta the South, but you can’t take the South outta the girl. What getaway is close to your heart?

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