Disney California Adventure Travel Guide

The sister park to the original Disneyland Park in Anaheim. Listed are all of my favorites, enjoy!

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*Attractions* 

Frozen Live at the Hyperion – cutest broadway like performance of Frozen, if you adored the movie like I did the theatrical interpretation of the animated film is amazing. I do miss the Aladdin show though since it was just as wonderful

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World of Color – get a fastpass it’s one of the neatest outdoor shows Disney puts on every night before the park closes, looks just like the Bellagio fountain experience in Vegas but Disney themed. The colorful dancing water sprays and water screen showcases the beloved Disney and Pixar film scenes coordinated with music and fire/fog/water/laser effects

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Soarin’ Around the World – used to be Soarin’ over California which I absolutely loved, however love this rendition just as much. It’s so awesome hang gliding over all the international landmarks, monuments and famous landscapes

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Carsland Radiator Springs Racers – the cutest land in the park, auto race in Lighting McQueen through the Cadillac Mountains desert landscape

Guardians of Galaxy: Mission Breakout! – super fun even though I miss the old Tower of Terror ride, Rocket is adorable plus you’re on the coolest free fall adventure to rescue the Guardians from the Galaxy from the Collector’s fortress

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Jumpin’ Jellyfish – cutest little kiddie 40 foot parachute drop in the beautiful colorful jellies

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Toy Story Midway Mania – cannot wait for the new Pixar land to make its debut, fun 4D Midway inspired experience where you challenge your car to a series of various action packed carnival games. Sister ride of the Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters in Disneyland

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Games of the Boardwalk – win the cutest Dumbo stuffed animal, isn’t he adorable?

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Animation Academy – receive step by step instructions to draw your own character sketch, usually a 30 minute session and makes for a cute souvenir to take home (your own masterpiece)

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Mickey’s Fun Wheel – ferris wheel with the most amazing sky view overlooking the entire park, the swinging gondolas are pretty scary but I enjoyed the outer standing baskets

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*Eats*

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta – part of Paradise Pier by the Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Silly Symphony Swings, loved the chicken sundried tomato pasta yum

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Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill – in the Pacific Wharf SF themed section of the park, I always order the chicken tamale plate with rice, beans and guacamole

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Flo’s V8 Cafe – located in Carsland and super cute route 66 inspired diner with neon light signs, get the beautiful secret menu Neapolitan shake

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop – another favorite on the pacific wharf, they even give out the Ghirardelli square chocolate samples at the door. My favorite is their banana split, it’s delicious

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Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company – Most adorable ice cream stand off paradise pier, I hope they don’t get rid of this when Pixar Land takes over because the soft serve is a huge Costco portion

Schmoozies – In hollywood land, get the Malibu Mocha smoothie off the secret menu it’s a great refresher on a hot day (note not a strong coffee taste more chocolate like)

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Disneyland Parks are definitely the happiest places on Earth. Always a treat to spend the day here! Looking forward to my next visit.

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Mexico Travel Guide

Just came back from a relaxing getaway to Cancun! It was my first time in Mexico and it was everything I expected. Gorgeous turquoise blue beaches, long never ending white sand, straw cabana huts, happy hours filled with tropical drinks galore, tons of infinity pools overlooking the beautiful beaches, palm trees, lots of Mexican food especially authentic street tacos, colorful iguanas roaming the streets, tropical rainforest lined highways, intricate vibrant piñatas, gigantic sombreros, delicious cinnamon churros, cenotes natural cave pools underground, rainbow sunsets, mayan ruins, traditional mariachi music, salsa dancing and learning Spanish. Loved being immersed in this fun festive culture.

Sharing my highlights below:

Chichen Itza – One of the New 7 Wonders of the World, definitely the coolest thing I saw in Mexico, the pyramid was amazing and I cannot believe the Mayans built this huge structure plus the historical background behind this place is unreal. Can’t even imagine the human sacrifice ceremonies

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Valladolid – Charming little historic town at the east entrance of Chichen Itza, cute little shops and eateries lining the pastel colored streets

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Xcaret – Mixture of a zoo and waterpark, great place for kids. It was fun to see once and the show at the end of the night was very interesting

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Swimming in the underground rivers was one of the toughest endurance tests, probably not something I’d ever do again
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Underground rivers were very long and get you tired from having to physically swim the entire time – not like a lazy river which I expected

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Mayan ruins
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Beautiful stained glass ceiling in the chapel

Various animal exhibits

Bird and butterfly exhibit rooms

Orchid greenroom exhibit

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Awesome traditional show at the end of the night

Tortilla Making & Guacamole Cooking Class – Learned how to make authentic tortillas, pico de gallo salsa, chicken fajitas and guacamole in a Havana Moon cooking class at the resort which was fun

Suytun Cenote – Stopped here on the way to Chichen Itza to swim at this underground cave pool, kind of eerie inside but the water was crystal clear

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Havana Moon – Restaurant at the resort we stayed at, fun atmosphere, colorful decor and live music at night plus the view of the beach outside was incredible

Del Lago Restaurante – Another restaurant at the resort, loved the breakfast buffet here

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Tramonto – Italian restaurant at the resort, got the lasagna and it sure was delicious, their bread platters (shown on the left) come with huge sculpture pieces which was crazy

Jade Boutique & Deli – The gelato was amazing, plus pictured below was my last meal in Mexico. Got the club panini and fruit platter which totally hit the spot

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Grand Luxxe of Vidanta Resort Riviera Maya – We stayed in the Grand Luxxe of the Vidanta Resorts. They give you a bracelet to get into your room which felt very hip and modern. Below is the Grand Luxxe lobby and also we went golfing on the resort grounds

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Animals spotted on the resort property

The Main Pool – spent a lot of time here lounging around at the resort

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The Beach Club – private pool area for Grand Luxxe and Grand Bliss members, was quaint and relaxing with cute cabanas right along the beach plus happy hour was fantastic

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Pina Coladas are my favorite
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These chicken nachos were the best I’ve ever had, so yummy and the presentation is incredible
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Didn’t drink the margaritas but the Miami vices (pina colada with strawberry daiquiri) were super refreshing, loved the orange slice touch

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Beach – the beachfront was right outside the resort grounds, it’s beautiful in its own unique way and very different from the beaches back home where I’m from

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Lastly we watched lots of pretty sunsets, bye for now Mexico!

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Japan Travel Guide

In honor of the bestie coming back from her recent trip to Japan, thought I’d share my favorites with you all for this long awaited guide. Got to spend an entire month in Japan (Sept. 2015) before I started my full time job and it was a blast. Even despite the wonderful Typhoon Etau that hit the day I decide to go to Tokyo Disneyland, the fabulous 5.3 earthquake in Tokyo and the Mt. Aso volcano eruption. Mother nature at its finest, quite the experience i’ll never forget.

*Foods You Must Try*

I’m not even much of an adventurous food person so my friends will laugh that I’m posting this section, but without further adieu here’s my food favs:

I should start off with the interesting concept of having Drink Vending Machines on every corner…..and I truly mean every corner (I remember seeing some remotely standing there on the side of the street by themselves thinking “wow it’s like a drive up vending machine haha)

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My favorite were of course the kiddie orange, grape and apple minute maid juices…I know so American of me to not venture out.

Steak – BEST RESTAURANT IN JAPAN if you go to Arita please come here for me. You’ll thank me later. Will go back to Japan just for this place, hands down my favorite meal of the entire trip

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Not even sure what this restaurant is called (see below), but it was a fancy place my dad’s friend took us to. The food looked like art masterpieces (to tell you the truth I had no idea what I was even eating, but I did try jellyfish for the first time–the only meal on the trip that I ate things I would typically never eat)

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Traditional Japanese Sit Down Meals – You need to experience at least one of these, it’s such a treat and great way to appreciate the Japanese culture (plus the shabu shabu here is amazing). And if you’re brave enough the blowfish is a delicacy to try.

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Matcha Green Tea – classic favorite, honestly tastes like leafy water yum!

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Parm Ice Cream – Favorite ice cream I tried in Japan and they sell these everywhere (kind of like those dove bars back home)

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Pinocchio’s  – BEST PASTA IVE HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! Chef was from Italy of course living in Japan. Loved the cute Pinocchio theme of the restaurant (born and raised Disney fan right here), located by Kujukushima Islands on the port. Still dreaming of this pasta and this lunch with the gorgeous views.

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Joyful – The mango strawberry shaved ice is so good (one on the right)! I mean…we should’ve guessed mine wouldn’t be the green tea matcha one with azuki red beans on top 😉 Way better than shaved ice in the states because the ice is so fine, flavors don’t taste like artificial food coloring and they add ice cream in the middle

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More shaved ice – this was from the Kujukushima Islands next to Pinocchio’s (not as goods as Joyful, but still tasty)

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Tonkatsu – Ironically the best tonkatsu I had was in the bento boxes at the train station, which is funny because I even had some at fancy restaurants and it wasn’t as good (don’t worry I didn’t eat the stuff on the right just the rice and meat)

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Figs – These were the highly popular dessert option (fig salad was amazing on the right) while I was there and I had never had figs before this trip, now I’m hooked and can’t get enough

Green Tea Ice Cream – surprisingly this flavor is up there on my top ice cream choices (behind spumoni of course) Can you blame me if Haagen-Dazs is my favorite brand?

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Miso Soup – If you actually know what miso is it might gross you out, but I grew up on this soup so I crave it occasionally. My favorite is always the tofu, weird but I’d rather have it than meat sometimes

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Udon Noodles – My favorite type of noodles to get in Japan. Second would be miso ramen and third somen. Not a fan of soba sorry.

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Leave it to me to find Gelato in Japan (needed some comfort food)

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Somen Noodles – Mentioned earlier above but these are amazing cold on a nice sunny day

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Ice Cream – Had some amazing ice cream cones (my favorite kind of vending machine Haagen Dazs) and one very bad one in Fukuoka (bottom one very aesthetically pleasing but tasted awful)

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Starbucks – Had to try this over there and ordered the same frapps that I have here Vanilla Bean and Mocha (tasted different because they used lighter milk)

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Breakfast – This is what my breakfast looked like every morning (bowl of tomatoes, orange juice, strawberry toast and bananas)

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Lotte Koala Cookies & this apple juice – Favorite train snacks by far

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Mandarin Orange & Pear Fruit Jelly Cups – These are the best (another one of my favorite desserts)

*Sights*

Will update this section later.

 

Arizona Travel Guide

Since I just came back from a trip to Phoenix with a bunch of my friends, thought I’d finally post my Arizona travel guide. Got to see a ton of cactus, orange dirt, red rock and the fascinating solar eclipse. Here are my favorites:

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*Sights*

Grand Canyon/Petrified Forest & Painted Desert/Sedona– The beginning to my love for nature and visiting national parks. Went here when I was super young, hence why there aren’t many pictures to post, but I remember the Grand Canyon was beautiful and one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen as a kid. Hoping to go back to see it soon now that I’m older.

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Antelope Canyon – Very neat, did the lower canyon tour with Dixie Ellis which was pretty cool to see all the intricate rock formations. Will have to climb down and up some narrow metal staircases, not handicap friendly. Pretty short trek with a tour guide explaining the history.

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Horseshoe Bend – Short less than a mile hike to the beautiful horseshoe bend lookout point. Gets really hot out in this desert area so try to go early or bring lots of water and sunscreen. The rock reminded me of the grand canyon with all the array of colors. I highly recommend staying overnight in Page which is a cute quaint town about 10-15 minute drive to both the bend and antelope.

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MLB Spring Training Festivities – Baseball is my favorite sport to watch so I love getting to see the spring training games and staying in Scottsdale. I always head to Camelback Ranch since I’m a loyal Dodger fan. They share a stadium with the Chicago White Sox. It’s an excellent way to get to meet the players and if you’re lucky you’ll come home with a bunch of signed autographed balls.

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Lake Mead & Hoover Dam – See my Las Vegas post for more details and pictures because this place is stunning.

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Top Golf – This place is so much fun, it’s like a driving range for golfing except it kind of works a lot like bowling where you are put on teams to challenge each other to see who can get the most points. Their are flags and hole where you can score more points than others based on how easy the hole is to hit. Each team will rent a bay to hang out in and they have great food and drinks too!

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Diamondbacks MLB Game – Chase Field is wonderful, one of the top stadiums on my list because it has a covered dome which is perfect for the hot days and nights in Phoenix. They even have seats with a jacuzzi. And of course can’t forget that now they have our ex-Dodger pitcher Zach Greinke.

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*Eats*

Bobby Q’s – The best bbq I’ve ever had. Every time I come to Arizona I try to make it to this place. Their meat is amazing and I’m in love with their bbq sauce. I like to try a bit of everything so I recommend ordering the Whole Hog Heaven family meal. You can order two types of ribs, two types of meats (always order the brisket and pork yum), three sides  (i like the mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and roasted corn) and cornbread. Also their dessert Miss McGee’s Mud Pie is delicious. On your way out you’ll get mini cinnamon little donut rings too.

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Raising Cane’s – These are a chain and they have these everywhere, but I first ate here in Arizona. It’s simple to order, I like the box combo which comes with four chicken fingers, crinkle cut fries, texas toast, coleslaw and the amazing cane’s sauce which distinctly kind of reminds me of chick-fil-a sauce.  Goes perfectly with their homemade lemonade as well. Definitely my favorite chicken fingers.

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Cafe Rio – Another chain fast food found everywhere as well, but I first had this on my trip in Arizona. Delicious Mexican food, I always order the same thing every time I come. Corn tortilla taco plate with shredded chicken, cilantro lime rice, pinto beans, lettuce, cheddar jack cheese, guacamole and sour cream. It’s delicious….and do I dare say my favorite over Chipotle even too.

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Flying out of Phoenix airport is quick and easy!

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STILL ON MY BUCKET LIST TO SEE

  1. Lake Havasu
  2. Vermilion Cliffs
  3. Meteor Crater

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Tokyo DisneySea Travel Guide

Love absolutely every Disney park but this was by far going in the books as one of my favorites. It felt like a hybrid of Epcot with the different cultural lands and California Adventure with similar familiar attractions. My expectations for this park going in were very low since I hadn’t heard too much about it, boy was I surprised how much fun I had. Mount Prometheus (shown above) is an extraordinarily gorgeous focal point of the amusement park. Wished I would’ve brought home a cute little Duffy bear souvenir key chain (guess I’ll have to go back).

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I came during Halloween time which was funny because it wasn’t as decked out in decorations like its counterpart Tokyo Disneyland. Only the front gate.

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The entrance to the park had a beautiful plaza equip with a globe (kind of reminded me of Universal Studios Hollywood). It was amazing! Made me get major wanderlust

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Next up you enter the beyond BEAUTIFUL Mediterranean Harbor (one of my favorites) I felt like I was whisked away to Italy. I definitely enjoyed the ambience of the romantic Southern European port town feel and of course always love Italian food MMM gelato and pasta yum! The architecture was spot on, so impressed Disney. It was so well done, even better than the Venetian in Vegas. Slightly sad the Venetian gondolas ride weren’t in operation during my trip, but I definitely took advantage of everything else. We ate at the cute Zambini Brother’s Ristorante for a delicious spaghetti dinner.

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Let’s move on to Mysterious Island which hosts the wonderful Mount Prometheus and center of the park.  This was an interesting land for sure. The only thing that stood out was the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride which took up 99% of the area as well as 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas. Two rides you’ll have to do at least once for the experience, but not to die for favorites in my opinion.

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We adventured to the American Waterfront, which was probably the most random themed land and the most like California Adventure Park. The highlight of course Tower of Terror Hotel HighTower (geez so much scarier than the one we used to have at California Adventure and the one in Florida’s Hollywood Studios). The tiki head voodoo doll things still give me the creeps and nightmares. Was fun doing Toy Story Mania (favorite of mine at California Adventure). We also rode the Electric railway which was awesome (better than Disneyland’s railroad for sure). The SS Columbia ship restaurant reminded me so much of the Queen Mary in Long Beach (brings back so many memories of high school prom). Oh and lastly the Cape Cod area……so adorable! Can I go visit dad’s dreamy Boston hometown? LOVE LOVE LOVE. Wish I would’ve got some pictures of this area, but I’ll have to visit the real deal right?

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Port Discovery was supposed to be like Tomorrowland with its futuristic vibe and center of weather control across the horizons of time. The StormRider was kind of terrifying not going to lie. It made me a little afraid of storms. The Aquatopia was a strange ride too, but I was never a fan of water rides to begin with. Haha my biggest memory from this land honestly was the ice cream we ate, so cute.

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Next land was Lost River Delta….based on the Central America jungles with the neatly done ruins of the ancient civilization. Was like a grown up Adventureland. By far my favorite ride was Indiana Jones Temple of the Crystal Skull. So much more fun LED lights and effects than in California. Other big ride in the area was Raging Spirits….don’t know what the trend is with this park and terrifying rides, but my goodness I thought this wooden roller coaster was going to give me a heart attack. I mean, just look at the thing. Gives me chills. Even the warning signs had me second guessing whether these fast passes were a good idea.

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We ventured to Mermaid Lagoon after that. Cute little land of rainbow colors, feeling very under the sea. All the rides were adorable just like Fantasyland. Very mellow. Flounder’s flying fish coaster was probably most popular. Just like the Toontown coaster at Disneyland. I couldn’t get enough of the Scuttle’s Scooters. We were moving in little crabs haha. The Mermaid Lagoon Theater…..please don’t miss this. So good! Too good! Couldn’t help, but sing along at King Triton’s Symphony Concert. Course visit the Triton’s Kingdom which is an indoor dark dimly lit room which really feels like you’ve entered Ariel’s grotto. The jumping jellyfish ride was just like California Adventure. I’d skip the whirlpool, but the Blowfish Balloon Race was way fun…..made me want to ride in an actual hot air balloon.

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Saved the best land for last, drumroll please…..Arabian Coast! Can we tell this was my FAVORITE by the sheer amount of photos I took? The details…so intricate and magnificent. Made me want to travel to the Middle East so badly. The architecture was just as good if not better than the European port earlier. Blew me out of the water. The Magic Lamp Theater show reminded me of the old Aladdin broadway production they used to do at California Adventure. The fact that my favorite though was the Caravan Carousel was too funny. Can every carousel have camels? And guys, it was TWO levels of fun! A little embarrassed by the fact that yeah I was the only one on the ride haha. Jasmine’s Flying Carpets were just like Dumbo, but better. Too bad I didn’t have my Aladdin riding with me to take a journey across the natural wonders of the world 😉 Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage was kind of strange….not the cute little storybook canal ride I’m used to from Disneyland. The Abu’s Bazaar and Agrabah Marketplace were so neat! Made me want to see the real Grand Bazaar someday in Istanbul. Whoever takes me to India will be my best friend ever.

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There you have it friends, alas you’ve made it to the end. Enjoy if you visit, this place is truly special! Shots curteousy of my good old point and shoot, pretty nifty knowing I got all these decent photos (OG camera days before the DSLR).

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Wonderful Disney adventures await you young travelers.

 

Disneyland Anaheim Travel Guide

In honor of many upcoming trips to the cheery land of Disney, thought I’d post my favorites of this magical place. Grew up coming here as a kid every year on my birthday so it will always hold special memories in my heart.

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*Tips & Tricks*

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  • Always dress smart with layers…Disneyland is in California the sunshine state, but it can still get chilly at night depending on the weather. Bring a light weight jacket and wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking around a lot all day.
  • Be prepared and take water if you can to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you go during the day to avoid sunburning.
  • Ride lines can also be a long wait so bring cards or download some fun phone app games to pass the time by.
  • Don’t forget a portable charger for your phone if you plan on using this in line
  • Take advantage of FAST PASSES – literally the key to trying to get on every ride in one day (very possible by the way if you have a strategy and game plan in mind when conquering the parks)

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  • Celebration buttons are a must, cutest souvenir to remember your special trip
  • Send yourself a postcard from the park (they have mailboxes everywhere on main street) my favorite are the ones from Wonderland Gallery; don’t forget your postcard stamps

*Entertainment Favorites*

Main Street Electrical Parade – Love that they brought this back, the LED lights are spectacular…..the show is the same as the original, music and all. A must see before it disappears this summer of 2017

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Fireworks Show – Disney has their fair share of different variations of their firework spectaculars, each unique and special. One of my favorite parts of Disneyland is watching all the colors spark over the Sleeping Beauty castle. Also a fun way to see Tinkerbell fly across the night sky

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Mickey and the Magical Map Show – Cutest sing along show in the huge theater out front of Toontown in Fantasyland, fun to take little kids to, the singing and dancing numbers amazing (almost broadway quality)

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Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – The iconic landmark of Disneyland, love that they kept the sparkly roofing on the castle from the diamond celebration (such a beautiful touch)

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Disney’s Holiday FestivitiesPLEASE go to Disneyland during one of their holiday celebrations; I’ve personally been to every single one and the decorations alone all across the park are phenomenal (my all time favorites being Christmas and Halloween). The Haunted Mansion ride decked out themed Nightmare Before Christmas was a genius marketing move and so fun. Always enjoy the Halloween parties….I mean any excuse to dress up as a Disney princess and you’ve got me, I’m in. Plus you’ll acquire so much candy from the adorable trick or treat booths spread all across the park

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IMG_7978 copy.jpg *Rides*

It’s A Small World – Arguably my favorite ride, who wouldn’t want to take a cruise around the world? Of course I’m always a little bias when it comes to representing my ethnicities and think that the Ireland/Scotland/England and Japanese areas are the best. The pastel colors, the dolls, everything about this ride makes me smile with pure joy
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Peter Pan’s Flight – Can you blame me if I love Fantasyland more than any other? This ride though….first off, you get to fly in a pirate ship (who wouldn’t want to live this childhood dream?)…..and flying over little London town, so dreamy

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Dumbo – Looks like a cheesy ride if you’re not 5, but you get a pretty neat view overlooking the park

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Indiana Jones – By far my favorite “big kid” ride…..love that you’re in a jeep four wheeling through some crazy scenes—the skulls, the snakes, the creepy Aztec looking tiki doll heads, the flaming fire, the huge boulder chasing you down a hole…..kind of wish the danger were real because that’d be a gnarly experience to battle through

Storybook Land Canal Boats – Another cute fantasyland favorite, those miniature towns get me every time and the lit arch ways you pass under at night from Casey Jr.’s is so romantic (my favorite town is the new frozen one of course)

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King Arthur’s Carrousel – Everyone needs to ride on the Mary Poppins horse Jiggles at least once, it’s the best one with the glimmering gem stones and bells (the golden hoofs are a nice touch too)

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Mark Twain Riverboat – Love the casual stroll across the Rivers of America

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Matterhorn Bobsleds– Iconic mountain of Disneyland…..personally the ride isn’t the best with all the back and butt whiplash you experience, but the Swiss alps aesthetic keeps me coming back—love that it makes me feel like I’m in Austria especially with the workers dressed in the cutest costumes

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Way fun roller coaster, love the scenery as it reminds me of Arizona or Utah because of the rock formations

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Lilly Belle Railroad Train Car – Newest favorite, look how gorgeous….the cool part is you’ll need reservations to see this beauty

*Eats*

Tiki Room Juice Bar – Two words “Dole Whip”….what’s not more refreshing on a warm summer day than pineapple soft serve (very iconic dessert)

Bengal Barbecue – Must try the new tropical Jungle Julep drink, cousin of the Mint Julep. Super fruity and delicious with hints of orange, grape, pineapple and lemon.

Cafe Orleans – Mickey beignets are a must, super cute and always loving the NOLA vibes. Try the Monte Cristo sandwich, very classic New Orleans

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Golden Horseshoe – Apparently the ice cream nachos are a thing, who knew? Is Disney on the secret menu phenomena kick like Starbucks? Also love their ice cream floats, try this cool new cherry cola one for the Fantasmic celebration.
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Candy Palace – Order a World of Color slushie off the secret menu, it’s almost too beautiful to drink

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Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor – Crowd favorite, the waffle cones are to die for

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Blue Bayou – Inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (not my favorite place and kind of pricey, long wait, plus annoying reservations but it’s next to Club 33)

Pizza Port – Love the pastas, please pass on the pizza….you can thank me later

Earl’s Sandwiches – Technically not in Disneyland, but this Downtown Disney favorite needed some recognition (the Hawaiian bbq sandwich is delicious)

Tortilla Joes – Also in Downtown Disney and they have the best chicken flautas

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*Souvenirs*

World of Disney – Downtown Disney shop that literally carries everything you can find in the parks

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*Disneyland’s Half Marathons*

If you have a chance, put one of these races on your bucket list they are amazing!

Have fun enjoying the happiest place on Earth ❤

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San Diego Travel Guide

Hi friends! Since I’ve recently been requested to offer recommendations for San Diego, thought I’d post my guide here. I’ve had my fair share of adventures in this beautiful place having many family members originate from this fun part of socal. When I picture San Diego, the sights that come to mind are the crisp blue ocean, marine life, amazing Mexican food, and Spanish influenced architecture. Two of my most favorite memories were learning how to surf in SD when I was 10 at surf camp and running the 5K MLB All-Star color run for All Star Baseball Weekend . Some of my most frequented cities are La Jolla, Escondido, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Coronado, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, Temecula, San Clemente and San Marcos. Sharing my favorites below:

*Sights*

La Jolla Shores Park – Most beautiful beach in SD that I’ve ever seen, not as spectacular as OC beaches (yes I’m biased) but still a very fun place to go for a lovely run along the flat coast. It has cute trendy boutique shops and adorable little restaurants nearby. Go early because it gets really crowded and hectic with parking

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La Jolla Cove – Pretty neat place for an adventurous kayaking or snorkeling experience in the sea caves, lots of sea lions as well as birds and other wildlife. Also popular for cliff diving which I’ve never done

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Balboa park – See the Pond, beautiful ornate Spanish architecture of the buildings, amazing florals and watch a cool play at the Shakespeare’s Globe theater replica

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Petco Park-  Home of the SD Padres MLB baseball team, was lucky enough to get to experience watching a game in one of the club level boxes (a rare moment for a baseball lover and typically only enjoyed for corporate events –kept having fan girl moments the entire duration of the game at how amazing this was)

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Seaworld – Fun for little kids or people who really like marine biology and marine animals, got to pet a dolphin which was quite the experience

San Diego Zoo & Safari Park – My favorite zoo of all time, will forever love the panda bear exhibits & the safari park reminds me of what I assume Africa would look like. If you get the opportunity to feed the giraffes you must do it

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Legoland – Used to visit here when I was little, rides are kind of lame compared to Disneyland which is what I grew up with as a kid but the miniature lego built towns and landmarks are incredible and phenomenal

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Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields – Only can be seen for about 10 weeks in the spring time (usually March to May) and has been open for over 25 years; these flower fields are over 50 acres of gorgeousness and right next to the Carlsbad outlets (hi Kate Spade and Tory Burch) how convenient right? Go early because parking is a zoo. Described as a hillside rainbow painted with a variation of 13 vibrant colors of millions of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers upon coastal farmland. When we went admission was $14 and hours were from 9-6pm

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Seaport Village – cute little area downtown with a beautiful marina, little trendy shops and fun hotel bars (pretty views of the sunset along the water)

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Coronado Bridge & Skyline – Amazing little  coastal beach town reminding me of my favorite city Newport Beach. Would make for a fun perfect short weekend getaway. We saw the cute tiny beach at the edge of the bridge with fleets of yachts and sailboats. Go to the Hotel del Coronado for gorgeous views and enjoy drinks on the patio or brunch at the restaurant. In the winter they even have an adorable ice skating rink. Literally one of my favorite places in San Diego, so many cute trendy shops and restaurants

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Gaslamp Quarter – trendy area right by Petco Park in Downtown; lots of cute restaurants, ton of cool rooftop bars and a short walk away from the metro station

Greetings from SD Wall – In North Park and a popular place for instagramers or bloggers for the iconic SD shot

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Sunset Cliffs Natural Park –  beautiful place to take photos and enjoy the exquisite wonders of nature

Wilson Creek Winery – Hands down the prettiest vineyards I’ve visited in Temecula Wine Country, you feel like you’re in Sonoma or Napa Valley, fun for wine tasting and go for a fun hot air balloon ride while you’re at it since the scenery is gorgeous. Also liked South Coast Winery as a second favorite

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Clue Avenue Escape Rooms – First time I had ever done an escape room and this one was super fun. Had the best team and the puzzles were pretty good, even a fun were quite challenging

*Eats*

Extraordinary Desserts – best dessert place I’ve been to, love the presentation skills of pure art and way fun industrial interior design (cute place to take your girlfriends for a girl’s getaway or birthday dessert celebration)

Hammonds Ice Cream – Located in North Park, known for their ice cream flights, just your average ice cream in the cutest little waffle cones, wish I would’ve went with enough people to get the flight of 30 since it looks crazy cool, but the flight of 6 was good enough since there was only two of us present

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Filippi’s Pizza Grotto – An Italian pasta favorite in Escondido, the amount of cheese they use on their pizzas is ridiculous

Bahama Bucks – Delicious refreshing shaved ice in a rainbow assortment of flavors. Perfect for a super hot sunny day. Went to the location in Temecula after wine tasting

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Unevolve Bowls – Create your own acai and pitaya bowls, I’m obsessed and liked this place because you can literally get all the different kinds of fruits and customize it to your liking. Went to the location in San Marcos

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Better Buzz – Cutest coffee and acai bowl place in San Marcos. Bowl was amazing and ordered the Best Drink Ever which was pretty great iced coffee if I do say so myself. Plus the packaging is very creative

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Island Pasta – Favorite in Coronado, lovely pasta dishes and the cutest outdoor cafe style location adjacent to Hotel del Coronado…I enjoyed the shells with bolognese sauce yum!

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Chito’s Mexican Food – In Escondido, little hole in the wall Mexican food take out. So yummy! Love their rolled tacos meal with Spanish rice and beans

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Rita’s – Delicious frozen custard, I got the gelati vanilla custard with blood orange and mango sorbet Yum! Such a fun treat on a hot sunny day

There you have it, good old San Diego at its finest!

See pictures below from the color run…..and you can see why I’ll never run this race ever again (got owned with all the colors, definitely was hit more than most people and my skin was dyed pink for the entire weekend)

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Oahu Hawaii Travel Guide

Hi friends, this weekend I finally had the time to write up my guide on Oahu Hawaii. This is one of my favorite islands and had a blast both times I’ve been here. Below are just a few of my favorite sights and food places: Enjoy!

Sights:

Hanauma Bay – Beautiful place to go snorkeling; clear blue turquoise waters, go early before 7am to avoid crowds and admission fee

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Hike Diamond Head – The view from the top is stunning overlooking the city buildings and beaches; trail is partially paved and very non-strenuous .08 mile hike

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Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail & Tidepools – Such a gorgeous scenic hike; slightly steep but non-strenuous paved road 2.5 miles in length; Lighthouse was roped off when we went due to high tide watch; Got to see the tidepools from afar which was cool, but some brave travelers hiked to the bottom to swim in them despite the warning signs

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Lanikai Beach – Bright blue waters gave the feeling of tropical island paradise; Iconic two pillar rocks out in the distance; Great place to go kayaking or canoeing b/c the water is very calm with not a lot of waves

Pearl Harbor – Very historic, but somber place; Good to see once in your lifetime

Waikiki Beach & Shops – Very touristy; Good area for shopping and dining but super crowded and not my favorite place to be due to the mass crowds

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Dole Pineapple Plantation – See the cool pineapple plants; Watch the pineapple cutting demonstration; Check out the large gift shop and eat a dole whip…yum!

Waimea Bay – Cute little bay; super windy and cold when we went but neat lighthouse

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Pali Lookout – Gorgeous overlook into the valley

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Punchbowl – Best view of Waikiki from the Main Office Overlook spot in the national cemetery; Don’t miss the famous memorial statue out front

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Food:

Banan Food Truck – BEST acai bowl i’ve had in my life….well technically it’s more like banana soft serve but very similar concept (wish I could eat one of these every day for breakfast); Probably hands down my favorite thing I tried in Hawaii

Matsumoto Shaved Ice – Not the best shaved ice I’ve ever had but a cute iconic famous shaved ice shop on the island; tons of flavors and cute gift shop; just your classic flavored shaved ice

Lanikai Juice – Delicious smoothies

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Chuck’s Steakhouse – Ended up here by accident b/c Duke’s was way too crowded; Dinner ended up being amazing and the ocean front Waikiki sunset view off the balcony was to die for

Duke’s – Hula pie is AMAZING! Check out my OC travel guide for more details on this restaurant 🙂

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Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha – Second favorite shaved ice place we went to on the island; amazing and unique take to a traditional shaved ice with real fruit toppings (didn’t taste artificially flavored). We ordered Classic rainbow, Strawberry Dream & Tropical Delight….all wonderful!

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Honolulu Cookie Company – Favorite cookies on the islands; Had to bring some home to all of my friends; My favorite is the kona coffee flavored ones dipped in dark chocolate

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Cheese Burgers in Paradise – Pretty good burgers off the Waikiki strip right by the beach

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Leonard’s Malasadas Bakery – Best malasadas on the island; Portuguese donuts. Cinnamon Sugar & Original were my favorite.

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Musukawas – Ton Katsu and Original spam misubi was a tasty snack

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Island Vintage Shaved Ice – Hands down best shaved ice i’ve had in Hawaii. So delectably yummy! Heavenly Lilikoi was my favorite!

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Nordstrom Gelato Bar – who knew Nordstrom in Hawaii had a gelato bar? We definitely don’t have this back home so sure was a treat to get Lilikoi sorbet

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Lodging:

Loved staying at Luana…it is right on the Waikiki strip with all the shopping and restaurants, but far away from the beach where you won’t get all the noise and tourists. We had a gorgeous suite room that made me feel like I was in tropical paradise. The customer service here was amazing!

 

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Transportation:

I recommend renting a car since everything is pretty far in proximity. Hawaiian license plates are too adorable. Wish ours were as pretty.

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We flew on Hawaiian Airlines….I’d say this is the best way to get to Hawaii! They give you meals onboard fit with Hawaiian flair. I liked getting the guava and POG juice. I loved their marketing safety video that showed you all the landmarks of Hawaii (made it easier to pay attention). Plus there’s an option to have a lei welcoming which is so special. Always appreciated the Aloha spirit of the staff. It was so fun to take the transfer to island hop.

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On my next visit I’d like to do the Koko Crater Hike, Lanikai Pillbox Hike, Crouching Lion Hike and Stairway to Heaven Hike (once it becomes not illegal).

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Hawaii truly is the state of rainbows!

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Mahalo!

 

Washington DC Travel Guide

Hi fellow readers! Thought I’d introduce to you my favorites from our capitol DC today. Such an iconic city enriched with so much history. Love this country I live in and our patriotic pride. Check out my recommendations below, Happy travels friends.

SIGHTS

The Smithsonian Museums:

American History Museum (First lady’s china sets/dresses, Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown, Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear, Wizard of Oz ruby slippers, star spangled banner gallery)

Natural History Museum (Hope diamond necklace, rotunda superdome)

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Smithsonian Castle

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National Portrait Gallery

Tour of the White House (oval office, resolute desk)

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President’s Guest House – Blair House

Capitol Building/Capitol Hill (house/senate galleries, monumental canopy frieze under dome)

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The Supreme Court Building (Old Senate Chamber, can buy a gavel at the souvenir shop, great hall, grand corridor, courtroom lecture, john marshall statue) *Front of building was being refurbished when we went*

National Mall:

Lincoln Memorial/Reflecting Pool (Martin Luther King I had a Dream Speech spot)

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Jefferson Memorial/Tidal Basin (can rent paddle boats)

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National World War II Memorial (absolutely beautiful)

Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

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Holocaust Museum (very depressing)

FDR Monument

Georgetown University (cute college town, lots of shopping, expensive row houses neighborhoods, Healy building, red bus circulator)

National Archives (Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, emancipation proclamation)

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Washington Monument (Climb to the top) *They were rebuilding this when we went*

Library of Congress (Jefferson’s books, do the tour so cool, Gutenberg and mainz bibles)

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Newseum (Berlin wall pieces, World trade tower fragments, Pulitzer price gallery)

George Washington University (cute college town, lots of eateries)/John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts (shows, beautiful view of the Potomac)

Ford’s Theatre & Museum/Petersen Boarding House (Lincoln’s assassination site)

Washington Navy Yard/Nationals Park (Washington Nationals MLB game)

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Washington National Cathedral

George Washington’s House Mt. Vernon (beautiful house & grounds, burial site, sit on back porch and watch the Potomac)

Union Station (kind of like their version of Grand Central in NYC)

Pentagon (can tour, far from metro stop) See below in the distance from Arlington

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Arlington National Cemetery (Kennedy’s gravesite & eternal flame, Arlington House, Iwo Jima statue, changing of the guard/tomb of the Unknown Soldier)

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US Botanic Garden (super beautiful)

Bureau of Engraving and Printing (do the tour to learn about how they make money, super fascinating, can buy shredded bags of money as souvenirs afterwards)

Department of Treasury

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Embassy row (cool to see all the different country flags)

George Washington masonic memorial

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Gadsby’s tavern museum

Monticello Jefferson’s home

Tudor place

Old Post Office

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EATS

Georgetown Cupcakes

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Founding Farmers (Georgetown, soooooo good! Must go to this one)

Good Stuff Eatery (On the hill, burgers & shakes)

We the Pizza (On the hill, pizza & homemade sodas)

Firehook Bakery (On the hill, Paninis and soups, cookies)

Sweet Green (On the hill, healthy salads)

7th Hill Pizza (On the hill, authentic Italian pizza, Nutella calzone)

Ted’s Bulletin (On the hill, old fashion diner)

La Madeleine (Georgetown, French cuisine, crepes, baguette sandwiches)

J. Paul’s (Georgetown, restaurant)

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Baked & Wired (Georgetown, cupcake competitor of Georgetown cupcakes)

Café Bonaparte (great crepes)

2 amys pizza (Tenleytown, authentic Italian pizza)

Afterwords (dupont circle, in kramer’s bookstore, cute little café)

Pasta Mia (Adams Morgan, amazing pasta, cash only)

Ben’s Chili Bowl (U Street)

RANDOM NOTES

Use the metro transit system (get a weekly pass card)

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Go to the Smithsonian’s earlier in the day if you want to avoid the crowds

If you have time visit the Lincoln & Jefferson Memorial both at day & night (amazing different experiences/fireflies come out at night and everything is lit)

Pentagon City stop on Metro has a large mall

Can take the metro to do side trips easily to Boston, Baltimore, Philly, etc.

Alexandria Virginia [One of my favorite places on my trip] is a stop at the end of the blue line on the metro and is the most gorgeous waterfront town with amazing restaurants, darling cafes, art galleries and shops on King’s street, lots of character and charm with the brick and cobblestone—trolley rides are free (Chadwick’s was my favorite restaurant=amazing!, Old Fashioned Pop’s Ice Cream Company)

Hotel in Alexandria Virginia – Embassy Suites Old Town (super close to metro; beautiful rooms)

There you have it! Enjoy our nation’s capitol and all of its beauty!

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Chicago Travel Guide

Best of Chicago — here are my favorites:

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SkyDeck Chicago / Trench Coat – Banana Republic
  • Jazz / Blues Music
  • Lake Michigan
  • Deep Dish Pizza (Giordanos or Lou Malnati’s)
  • Shake Shack
  • Wrigley Field Cubs / US Cellular Field White Sox
  • Chicago Riverwalk / Water Taxis
  • Grant Park / Buckingham Fountain
  • Arts Institute of Chicago
  • Navy Pier
  • Lincoln Park Conservatory
  • Millenium Park / Cloud Gate / The Bean
  • Chicago Theater
  • Magnificant Mile / Michigan Ave.
  • Ride the L Train into the City
  • Willis Tower / SkyDeck / Sears Tower
  • The Old Water Tower