Thursday, July 25, 2013

Instagram Travel Thursday: San Francisco!

I'm thrilled to be taking part in Instagram Travel Thursday, a new weekly feature set up by several fabulous bloggers, sharing their favorite trips captured on Instagram. We LOVE to travel and discover new places, so I look forward to sharing several with you on a weekly basis!

This week I'm featuring some pictures from our Fall trip to San Francisco.

We took this trip with the whole family, meeting some very good friends from Australia there to visit and tour the city. This view of the Golden Gate Bridge was from the window of our rented house on Embarcadero Street, the famous winding road of San Francisco. We rented a house for the two families to stay in while we explored San Francisco. The location was excellent, easy to walk to the Wharf and tons of restaurants, parks, etc. Not to mention the stunning views from the top of the rental house of the whole city!

Breakfast at Original Joes on Union Street. Delicious!

We even caught a glimpse of the Space Shuttle being carried to its final destination!

The famous Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 to see the sea lions.

Enjoying one of the many parks in the city.

A lunch stop at Rogue Ales Public House for a meal and a drink. Just up from Embarcadero on Union Street, this place had a great little back patio that was perfect for families to hang out. The kids could even draw on the ground with chalk.

Next stop, Chinatown!

Harmon Tower. Golden Gate Park. A great place to check out the museums and spend the afternoon. Great views from the top of Harmon Tour.

Then it was time for a ball game at the Giants AT&T Park. They were playing the San Diego Padres! I used to go to Padres game so it was great to see them play again. The weather was perfect for an evening game.

Conveniently located near the ball park is the 21st Amendment Brewery. We love their beer and it was the perfect pit stop before going to the game!

One of our last adventures in San Francisco was an afternoon touring Alcatraz. I highly recommend it if you haven't been there yet. A fun trip over on boat to the island where you can explore and walk through the prison cells. It was fascinating, moving and the kids loved it and even learned some history! Can't wait to go back to San Fran!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Raleigh, What's New??

Summertime, and the living is easy...finally! We finished school, we just completed our Swim Team season, so now the days are long and luxurious....that is, for a few more short weeks. We decided to explore a little the other day and discovered some great new places to eat, drink and shop.

Our first stop exploring was lunch at Hereghty Heavenly Delicious.  I didn't even know about this place but we do now! Delicious lunch and coffee served daily along with gourmet desserts, wine, chocolate, panini sandwiches and salads. Everything tasted fresh and delicious. Hereghty is located in the Glenwood Village Shopping Center where Oberlin Road and Glenwood Avenue meet. They are on the same side as the Harris Teeter. We tried the Flatbread margarita pizza with fresh mozzarella, roma tomato, and basil and the Turkey Croissant   with turkey,  asiago cheese, lettuce, tomato, and creamy garlic-herb spread on a delicious croissant. Both meals were beautifully presented and delicious. Next time you want to try something new for lunch, put it on your list!

Delicious treats await at Hereghty
Turkey Croissant

Flatbread Margarita Pizza

Our next stop was downtown Hargett Street. We discovered Cimos, a boutique gift shop with a great selection of books, artwork, candy and hand crafted gifts. This shop is literally around the corner from Sitti and is worth a stop in when you are in the area having a meal and/or drinks on Wilmington Street. The owner is very nice and I enjoyed meeting her and talking about her shop.

Cimos on 111 East Hargett Street

Lots of books and artwork for sale

More books and unique gifts

Just next door also at 111 East Hargett street,  we spotted this new store coming later this month! Nuvonivo,  a boutique children's clothing store.

Going the other direction on Hargett Street, we stopped into a beautiful consignment shop, Nora & Nicky's Designer Resale. The space is light and airy and easy to shop. There are some beautiful items here and I felt like the prices were reasonable as well. Worth a stop by next time you are on Hargett! They are at 19 W. Hargett. They also have another shop in North Raleigh at 6325 Falls of Neuse Rd.

Beautiful and easy to shop!

Made in Raleigh jewelry

After all that shopping, it was time to enjoy a cool treat at the new Pop-Up Ice Cream Parlour at 131 South Wilmington Street. Located next to Gravy in the old Kindred location, the girls enjoyed a scoop of locally made ice cream while taking a break from the hot day outside. Pop-Up Ice Cream Parlour is in this spot until the end of Summer (August 31). They are currently working on a new location close to Pie Bird downtown at 6161 N. Person St.

Fresh ice cream for a limited time at this location!

Locally produced

Cold treats on a hot day!

I'm more a coffee drinker than an ice cream eater, so we wondered down to City Market on Blake Street and stopped into Benelux Cafe where I got myself a delicious iced coffee. Perfect way to finish off a fun afternoon of discovering some new places in Raleigh!

Not just coffee here!
Cooling down with a delicious iced coffee

Great spot to just chill.

Additional Shopping in this area that we love!
Moon & Lola, Stitch, Deco Raleigh, Feelgoodz, Father & Son Antiques!

For additional
shopping in Raleigh, check out my Pinterest board.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Instagram Travel Thursday: New York City

I'm thrilled to be taking part in Instagram Travel Thursday, a new weekly feature set up by several fabulous bloggers, sharing their favorite trips captured on Instagram. We LOVE to travel and discover new places, so I look forward to sharing several with you on a weekly basis!

This week I'm featuring some pictures from our April Spring Break trip to New York City. We spent four days with the family exploring some new spots in the city. I love this city more and more every time I visit. Our goal was to check out some new places that were amazing but did NOT break the budget to visit. Below are some of the great spots we hung out.

This view is taken from the top of the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock). This was a great opportunity to get some history on the building and the view at the top was an amazing 360 view of the city. We went around 6pm to watch it as it got dark and the lights went on around the city. The view of the Empire State building was not to miss. It was also much cheaper to take a family of four to the Top of the Rock versus the Empire State building. Well worth it!!

Another great stop that's free and easy to access is Grand Central Station. We got there early in the morning and caught the morning hustle and bustle of people heading to their destinations. The sun streaming through this spectacular space is awe-inspiring. AND, JOE Coffee is located in the Food Court and is well worth the wait in line to get a cup of Joe!!

We were lucky to be staying in a hotel just across the street from Bryant Park where the New York City Public Library is located. We took a short walk up to the library and walked right in and it was like stepping back in time walking through this incredible building. (Did I mention it was free?)

A cab or subway ride across town is the Chelsea Markets. This place is a culinary treat! Not only is it fun to walk through, but its tasty too! Lots of great food to sample from cupcakes to fresh crab! Its also close to the High Line a (free) public park built on the freight rail above Manhattan's West Side. You will catch beautiful views of the Hudson River and there's plenty of places to sit and relax.

A local beer and a Curiosity Cola pit stop in SOHO at Back Forty West. Cozy and quaint in an otherwise very busy neighborhood.

My favorite building in all of NYC - The FlatIron building.

Window shopping on Fifth Ave (a girl can dream!)

A fabulous stop at The Pony Bar for some cold craft beverages.

Our favorite breakfast and coffee stop each morning just off Times Square across from the beautiful Bryant Park, Le Pain Quotidien!

A quick ride on the cool glass elevator at the mothership of Mac stores!

We also stopped in across the street at the Plaza. Another NYC institution worth checking out and the kids enjoyed it as well.

We love to go to Eataly when we are in NYC. Its Mario Batali's little "everything Italy" block in the city. Our favorite is a quick stop at the rooftop beer garden, Eataly Birreria Restaurant. It's always a lively spot!

More fun shopping on a beautiful day in Manhattan.

Fun photo-ops in the Financial District.

Our last stop and probably most moving of the whole trip was visiting the site of the 9/11 Memorial. We had planned to visit to see the twin reflecting pools that have been completed. The entire site is still a construction site and even though it is FREE, you must sign up in advance to get passes. We showed up there the first day to a HUGE line of people waiting to walk through the memorial park. We were told to go to an office on another street or go online and get timed passes. We did this later from our hotel room and got four passes for our last day with no problems. We showed up and the line moved right along after passing through security and it was very meaningful to share that experience with our kids. They are old enough to understand the events of 9/11 and it provided a great opportunity to learn, talk to them and share some quiet moments to remember and reflect. We look forward to coming back again in a few years to see the Memorial when it is 100% complete.

PS: FOR THE COFFEE LOVERS...MUST STOP COFFEE STOPS: Joes, Stumptown, Gorilla Coffee and Cafe Grumpy (below)!

For more pictures and NYC favorites, check out my Pinterest NYC Board!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Instagram Travel Thursday: Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, WY

I'm thrilled to be taking part in Instagram Travel Thursday, a new weekly feature set up by several fabulous bloggers, sharing their favorite trips captured on Instagram. We LOVE to travel and discover new places, so I look forward to sharing several with you on a weekly basis! I'm starting with one of my favorite family vacations, taken last June. We spent an amazing week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. We landed at the airport to the most amazing views of the Grand Teton Mountains.

We spent lots of time in the town of Jackson Hole. Great scenery, great dining and shopping. Lots of families taking in the amazing scenic views that surround this small town. There's a great park in the middle of the town.

Of course we had to sample the locally brewed beer after we did some white water rafting on the Snake River!

We stayed in the Grand Teton National Park and took a fabulous day trip to Yellowstone National Park. The kids were amazed by all the sites that nature has to offer! Waterfalls, geysers, natural prismatic springs, grand canyons, mountain name it, this park has it. This is a must see in everyone's lifetime!

Grand Prismatic Spring. Yellowstone Park

Lower Falls. Yellowstone Park

Inside the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. This place was like stepping back in time!

The lakes in the Grand Tetons offered lots of canoeing options, boat excursions, great hiking trails, etc. No lack of outdoor activities to do here! There's a great range of activities for folks of all ages. This vacation literally took us all away from everything and truly allowed for pure apprecation of nature which was perfect for our family. I loved seeing the girls finding joy in spotting a huge bison in the middle of the road or a herd of elk off in the distance. The weather was absolutely perfect the whole week, no rain and no humidity. The water can be drank straight from any tap and was the most delicious I've ever tasted! For an urban family, this was such a great experience for all of us to get out of our comfort zones and enjoy stunning sites all around us. If you get a chance, book a trip soon, you will not regret!

Thanks Leigh over at Hines-Sight Blog for sharing this Instagram Travel Thursday with me! Click here and see her Myrtle Beach feature.