DomestiKatedLife

A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog

Tag Archives: Travel

#Domestikatetravels Tips For Planning An Awesome Vacation.

Let me let you in on a little secret: I love the process of planning a trip almost more than I do going on the actual trip. It’s like a sport for me — finding the hidden gems in a new city, organizing our days to maximize all of the different neighborhoods I want to explore, and collecting as many recommendations as I can before we leave about what I *must* eat or drink in our destination city. We have taken some pretty amazing trips over the past few years that lead to awesome adventures (check out our travels to Austin + Marfa, Nashville, and our cross-country honeymoon road trip for a few examples!). Someone commented on one my instagram posts last week and asked how we go about planning for these fun little getaways, and it dawned on me that I actually do have a pretty standard process that I thought I’d share here today, check out my tips for note to plan awesome getaways:  

    1. Gather Your Travel Books. Whenever we book a trip, my first planning task is to take a look at the New York Times 36 Hours books. They’re great resources to find boutique hotels, and an give you a good idea of which neighborhoods will be worth visiting. I like that they pick a few traditional ‘tourist’ spots but mix them in with off-the-beaten-path recommendations. My other favorite travel books are the WildSam Field Guides. I’ve been lucky that the last few cities we’ve picked have had them (Austin, Nashville, and an upcoming New Orleans trip!). These are the kinds of recommendations you’re going to get from your cool hipster cousin, if you had a cool hipster cousin that lived in the city that you’re visiting. I also really enjoy that they include some history and stories of interesting locals, it’s a good way to get the vibe of the city before you arrive.
    2. Explore Hashtags. If you want to see the cool things that other people are finding in the cities that you’re visiting, check out what they’re sharing on instagram with local hashtags. Look for common hashtag prefixes like #igers + the city name or #visit + the city name to explore what locals or other visitors are taking images of. I also like to check out a local blogger hashtag too, when people visit Boston I’d recommend they look at our #bostonbloggers hashtag to see what influencers are eating, visiting, doing and come up with ideas using their feeds as inspiration. I also love to check out the great instagram feed @withthelocals for interesting recommendations — they add a new city each week so you can find lots of great details on an area from someone who actually lives there!
    3. Read Up Online. There are a few non-traditional sites I also like to use for trip planing. Design*Sponge and The Everygirl offer great city guides on their sites. People often share travel ideas on destination specific Pinterest boards, so I search those as well. And Yelp forums can be super helpful for reading through ‘best of’ debates — like where the best bbq joint is in Nashville, or where the best tacos are in Austin.
    4. Build a Map. I hope if you take one thing away from this post, it’s this helpful travel tip! Did you know you can build your own customized map on Google Maps? When we take trip I usually make a long list of all of the restaurants, bars, shops, and what my husband refers to as ‘instagram locations’ around the city and then add their locations to a google map. Each time you drop a new pin on the map you can start to see where there are clusters of things to do and see. I find this really helpful, especially for shorter trips where you’re trying to fit a lot in, to organize your days and hit up several spots in one area. I also like to use this ‘map’ phase of planning to take a look at surrounding areas outside the city for fun things to do. When we were in Austin we decided to spend a few days driving out to Big Bend National Park and Marfa, because it was probably one of the only times we’d end up being that close to those pretty obscure (but amazing!) locations in the country.
    5. Ask with locals. This is something I do while planning the trip, and once I’m there. I’ve been lucky to make some great virtual-friends from blogging, and get the best recommendations of things to do and see when I either reach out and email local contacts from the city I’m visiting, or put an open call up to readers or followers on social media. Sometimes we’ve even rerouted our plans while we’re on vacation because a follower has recommended something to me on the fly. Reach out to your favorite bloggers and ask them! I have a long list of Boston recommendations that I always happily send out when people reach out to me. The same goes with trusting the locals once you’re actually on your trip. Talk to the bartenders, the waitresses, the bell-hop and the cab drivers. When we were in Nashville we got the best recommendations for interesting bars to go to from a bartender we met the first afternoon we were there — people love to tell visitors what is special about their city, you just have to ask!

So, any great travel planning tips to add to this list? I’d love to hear your ideas! (PS: I’m going to follow rule #5… any New Orleans readers out there? We’re planning a trip in the fall and would love to know your must see/do/eat/drink list!)

A Gilded Getaway.

I had one of those *pinch me, is this really my life?* moments this weekend while being treated to a luxurious getaway by Lark Hotels at their newest property in Newport, RI. I was so lucky to be invited with a group of awesome bloggers and creatives to stay in the newly opened Gilded Hotel, participate in some fun activities, and cruise around the historic ocean town to learn a bit more about the area.
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The hotel was an absolute feast of eye candy, designed by  Rachel Reider. The tagline of the hotel is ‘A Clever Twist on a Golden Age’ and the decor certainly lived up to the moniker. Jewel tone paint colors, ornate mirrors, lacquered surfaces, and gold accents gave the whole space the vibe of a funky, modern-day Great Gatsby party. A few of my favorite details — the graphic pink wallpaper in the hotel’s lounge, the whimsical garden courtyard, and the over-the-top design of the front desk and breakfast area.

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When we weren’t ogling over the crazy gorgeous decor of the space, the Lark Hotels team had us busy with tons of fun activities. We toured some of the Newport Mansions, and got to see some of the historic opulence of the Newport area that inspired the hotel’s design. We had manicures on the hotel veranda, private croquet lessons in the courtyard, and took an afternoon sail boat ride around the harbor to tour the local area. And after dinner both nights, we ended the evening in the hotel’s pool room which had a moody library vibe for champagne, cookies, and some games.

Gilded Hotel Newport 3It was a hard adjustment to come back to real-life on Monday after such a luxurious weekend (I am still dreaming of the tapas-style breakfasts served at the hotel!). I’m so happy I got to spend the time with such an amazing group of fun, inspiring women, and grateful to Lark Hotels for truly treating us like we lived in the Gilded age. If you’re looking for a fun spot to stay in Newport, or want to getaway with some girlfriends for a relaxing weekend, I can’t recommend the space enough. Now, we are we going to travel next to and do this again?!rarebrick_20150501_9258For more pictures of the weekend and the hotel, be sure to check out the hashtag #GildedGetaway on Instagram.

Please note: Lark Hotels hosted us for the weekend and gave us complimentary stays at their property. All opinions are my own. 

 

 

West Texas Adventure: Austin

I have been digging through the photos that I took on our West Texas vacation and can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since we got back. Because I just can’t narrow it down, this recap is likely going to be a multi-part blog post — I need to share the detail of every.single.bite. I ate and lots of fun pictures too. First up: Austin! Austin, despite being about 100 degrees, was totally and completely awesome. We fell in love with the cute little house bars on Rainey Street, browsed through the vintage shops in the South Congress area, and tried many, many tacos to try and nail down a favorite (barbacoa tacos at Torchy’s were the winner!). A few more favorites from our Austin stay were…. IMG_3655.JPGElizabeth Street Cafe. When I was doing research for our trip, I happened upon Elizabeth Street Cafe through Mackenzie’s Austin recommendations and decided to check it out for ourselves! I love the super bright space with quirky little teapots and floral wallpaper, and the outside had a bright pink and turquoise paint scheme that was so cheery and cute. We had the pork belly buns and spicy pork meatball bahn mi — and I couldn’t pass up the macarons in the pastry case when we were leaving — they were delicious!DSC_0001IMG_3732.JPGDSC_0008 copy

Hillside Farmacy. I’d seen pictures of the Hillside Farmacy on Instagram and knew we had to go here. The striped awnings and bright green facade reminded me of our wedding color scheme, so I was sold even before we walked in. We ate here for brunch and I was prepared to go for eggs or pancakes, but then I saw a piping hot skillet of the mac and cheese walk by our table and I had to order some of my own. I am quite glad it did — it was super rich and delightfully tasty (and I washed it down with a wasabi bloody mary, yum!).

IMG_3695.JPGDSC_0016Barton Springs. This place was amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it! Given that the temperatures were creeping  up into the hundreds during out trip, a little respite from the heat was very welcome. It was part pool, part lake, one-hundred-percent refreshing once we jumped in.

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Josephine House. Our meal at Josephine House was phenomenal and the restaurant design was nothing but impeccable. We got there just as the light was fading and I didn’t get any pictures of the interior, but trust me when I say it was gorgeous — take a look at some of the gorgeous pictures on their website. The best part of the meal was dessert: a honey panna cotta with Texas figs and ginger-oat streusel — heavenly. It was just the treat we needed before heading off on the next leg of our trip! DSC_0021

 

#CreativeOvernight.

A few weeks back  I was super lucky to be invited to a little ladies getaway adventure up in the Catskill Mountains, NY. The ever-talented Lauren of Lauren Wells Events schemed up the Creative Overnight as a way for a bunch of creative ladies — photographers, designers, writers, florists — to take a few days off and recharge over pool-time and cocktails and fun at the Graham and Co in Phoenicia (this hotel was to-die-for-cuteness). It was a total blast, we lounged by the pool (despite some grey weather!), made flower crowns at the direction of Krissy of Pollen Floral Design, and ended the night with several trips to the taco truck that visited our hotel along with a group viewing of a Wes Anderson movie. It was so nice to have the time to chat with lots of local creatives and meet a few new faces too — here’s hoping this becomes an annual event!

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12 Hours in Provincetown.

On Sunday I had an awesome opportunity to take over the Boston Harbor Cruises’ Instagram account as they sent me on a little adventure to Provincetown. We took the BHC Fast Ferry out of downtown Boston and spent the day in P-Town exploring. Most of our time was spent checking out the Commercial Street shopping area, ducking into cute nautical shops and restaurants. We had lobster rolls at The Canteen for lunch, drinks on the porch looking out over the water at The Red Inn, cocktails on the waterfront deck at Pepes, and enjoying a clambake at the Lobster Pot to end our night. All along the way I snapped pictures of the cute Cape Cod cottages and nautical details. Twelve hours of eating and drinking and instagramming is pretty much my ideal day — thanks to Boston Harbor Cruises for the awesome opportunity! 20140721-210959-76199845.jpg20140721-211002-76202831.jpg20140721-211001-76201372.jpg20140721-211000-76200616.jpg20140721-211002-76202100.jpg

 

 

 

 

West Coast Adventure: San Francisco

I’m back with part II of our West Coast adventure. After we made our way through wine country, we took a drive down to Muir Woods National Park and hiked through the Redwoods (to be fair, it was more of a nature walk  — not a hike. There were grandmas whizzing by me in wheel chairs, but I like to pretend I was a tough outdoorsy chick who hiked!). It was a magical place; not only are you walking through these magnificent massive trees, but just a few minutes down the road is one of the most breathtaking beaches and coastal views I’ve ever seen.  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSan Fran 5

After our ‘hike’ I earned a tasty dinner at Foreign Cinema — and swooned over the food and the restaurant interior. We spent our last day in the city exploring, including via boat where we circled around Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate bridge. Such a fun way to see the city! When our boat pulled back into the docks we saw a massive group of sea lions that just chill all day right at the edge of the pier —  I took about 400 pictures of them and was completely enamored — I mean, aren’t they the cutest? At the end of our trip we finished things off with a Giants game, because I like to finish all of my vacations with hot dogs and beers (and the lovely water views didn’t hurt!).

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West Coast Adventure: Napa

We celebrated our 1-year anniversary a little early with a trip to Napa and San Francisco last weekend — I was traveling for work in the area so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it! I know most people visit Napa and drink their way through the region, but I think we actually spent more of our time eating our way through. We wandered through Oxbow Public Market and feasted on Hog Island Oysters (paired with a rosé of course) and then made our way to Gott’s Roadside for burgers (paired with a milkshake of course). And we did manage to do tastings at a few vineyards (Robert Sinksey was our favorite, they had  tasty little snacks paired with the wines and the whole place had a laid back atmosphere).  We ended our day strolling through downtown Yountville — I had perhaps the tastiest salad of all time at Redd Wood — an asparagus, bacon, and burrata salad, yum! Before we left to drive down to San Francisco the next day we made an obligatory stop at Bouchon Bakery, where I had a croissant for breakfast and of course couldn’t leave without picking up some macarons for the road!

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Quebec City.

In all of the holiday hustle and bustle I totally forgot to share pictures of little pre-Christmas adventure up to Quebec City! The trip has become a bit of a tradition for us, this marked our 4th year going, and the first time since we got engaged there two years ago.  It was a winter wonderland to say the least, we tromped through a fresh foot of snow to do window shopping, warmed up in cute cafes and restaurants with tasty soups and treats (macarons, of course!), and admired the holiday decorations on the old city’s streets. It’s always such a perfect little retreat to get in the holiday spirit.

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The Viceroy Palm Springs.

This particular road-trip stop is special enough to get its own post. We had a loose itinerary for our trip, we knew our general route, and when we needed to be in LA for our flight back, but everything else was a spontaneous plan. And when we ended up making it California with an extra day to spare, we decided to spend a night in Palm Springs — using the HotelTonight app we struck some amazing luck and got a room at the Viceroy Palm Springs. We joked upon arrival that I was checking-in to instagram heaven, it was one of the most picture-perfect places I have seen (with credit to Kelly Wearstler’s design). I had to be dragged out of the pool at check-out time — it was so hard to leave!

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Road Trip Eats.

I shared a bunch of honeymoon pictures yesterday, but this particular type of trip called for a follow-up post with a focus on the food. We pretty much ate with abandon for two whole weeks, (with thanks to my trusty Food Network app we hit up lots of hidden gems). Chicago was all about the pizza, I wanted to buy tickets for a pizza walking tour, and when I found out they were sold out we decided to do a self guided version. We hit up some Guy Fieri approved drive-ins, and had some of the best fajitas I’ve ever tasted in Moab. And we tried some things that were almost beyond my imagine: a breakfast pot pie in Denver, a sweet pea and corn grilled cheese in Cleveland, and the winner of best road trip find: macaroni and cheese with a homemade cinnamon applesauce to dip the pasta in. You have to eat it to believe it.

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