Tag Archives: travel

A Sunny Afternoon in Rockport, MA

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Rockport, Massachusetts is one of my happy places. I spent a lot of time here in my college days, grabbing coffee with girlfriends, brunch with my parents, and dates with my then-boyfriend-now-husband.

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Rockport is most famous for it’s charming, decked out, red fishing hut with colorful buoys that sits in the middle of the harbor. I’ve been told it’s one of the most photographed places in New England. Rockport is also famous for being the location set of The Proposal. The town was temporarily decorated to look like Sitka, Alaska.

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Bear Skin Neck is the touristy area of Rockport, and I love it! A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon there with a good friend, and I thought I’d share.

Here are my favorite things to do in Rockport:

Where to Eat in Rockport:

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Tuck’s Candy Shop – If you’re looking for a sweet to nibble, pop into Tuck’s Candy Shop to watch them make homemade salt water taffy or fudge. They’ve got all the classics, like truffles, and vintage candies, as well as some new delights, like a Dark Chocolate Gummi Bear cup!


image from Cape Anne Magazine

My Place by the Sea – If you’re looking for a fantastic bowl of clam chowder, a lovely dinner date night, or a meal with a gorgeous view, My Place by the Sea is it. Whenever Moose and I debate where we can get the best bowl of clam chowder in New England, this place is always mentioned.

rockport11Helmut’s Strudel – Sharing a strudel here is not a good idea. Just sayin’. Buy your own and get it to go. Take it down to the end of the Neck and enjoy before the seagulls descend.

Honorable mention: The Blue Lobster Grill. This place has changed hands a few times in recent years, and I haven’t tried the newest version. Back in the day, it was called the Greenery and was a great spot to brunch! There is a cafe in the front (muffins! hot cocoa!), and a restaurant in the back that is all glass windows and overlooks the harbor. I can’t vouch for the food of the current place, but the view made for a wonderful experience.

 Where to Shop in Rockport:

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Lulu’s Pantry – One of my favorite kitchen shops. It’s a great place to get your favorite foodie or chef a gift, or splurge of some beautiful items, or hard-to-find ingredients, for your kitchen. The balcony off the back of the shop provides a picture-perfect view of the harbor.

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Milk & Honey – a beautiful little home decor store. HomeGoods doesn’t hold a candle to it.

What to Do in Rockport:

Bear Skin Neck: Walk (don’t be that person that tries to drive) to the end of Bear Skin Neck. Admire the ocean views and clamor around on the rock wall. Take in the salty air and sunshine.

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Gallery Hop: There are a number of fantastic art galleries in Rockport, many in which the artist makes frequent appearances! A long-time favorite of mine is George Anderson, with his colorful, graphic, and fun nautical pieces.

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Old Country Store: Pop into the Old Country Store. It’s full of vintage, hard-to-find candies, funny, nostalgic gifts, and (randomly) a large assortment of cookie cutters! Make sure you put a quarter into the old Nickelodeon and watch it play a tune!

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Walk out to the Fishing Hut: Use the colorful buoys as a photo-op, admire the lobster traps, and check out the boats.

Those are some of my favorite things to do in Rockport. Where is your favorite seaside town?

 

Old Town Alexandria

Easter in Old Town Alexandria

Spring was a late bloomer this year. Even though Easter was at the end of April, we had no flowers to speak of, so it was a sight for sore eyes to see springtime in Old Town Alexandria while we visited my brother.

Old Town Alexandria - DesignLivelyOld Town Alexandria - DesignLively

While I’ve been to Washington D.C. several times, this was my first visit to Old Town Alexandria. It’s a beautiful, historic area. The town has preserved a few of the old streets, similar to the village on Nantucket, with its old cobblestones and brick row houses. Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively    Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively

And it’s just the kind of place to spend an hour or two admiring door-knockers, shutters, and historic curb appeal. Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively

King Street is the main road in Old Town and is lined with places to eat and shop. The town is quite extensive and one could easily fill an afternoon popping in and out of stores.

At the end of King Street you will find a short walkway along the Potomac. You will also find the Torpedo Factory Arts Center, one of my favorite places we checked out over the weekend. The Torpedo Factory Arts Center is a large building full of small studios/galleries belonging to artists – painters, jewelery makers, etc.

Old Town Alexandria - DesignLivelyMany of the artisans have a shop area up front and their work area in the back, where you can see their works in-progress! It was very cool and shouldn’t be missed if you are in Old Town.

Seeing as we were in a hotel all weekend, we tried a number of restaurants:

The Fish Market: Being part of my family means loving seafood, so we were all excited for dinner at The Fish Market. Eager for some local flavor, I had the Imperial Crab (blue crab grilled in a clam shell), which was delicious. The spiced peel-and-eat shrimp were seasoned in Old Bay, and the crab-stuffed avocado were also highlights.

The Pita House: My family had never had shawarma, which I love to eat. I was more than happy to introduce them to it at this tasty Mediterranean restaurant.

The Warehouse: We went here for Easter brunch. The inside decoration is full of fun caricatures and service was very speedy. I had read reviews on Yelp that the French Toast was divine, and fortunately they didn’t disappoint!

Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively

Wonderfully located, Old Town is a short distance (about 20 minutes) from downtown Washington D.C. We spent an active afternoon visiting the Capitol building, the Mall, Washington Monument, and the World War II, Korean War Veterans, and Lincoln Memorials.

Unfortunately we missed the Cherry Blossom Festival by a week. Maybe next year!

Washington DC - DesignLively

D.C. is also well-known for its plethora of museums, many of which are free to visit. We visited the National Museum of American History, where I enjoyed seeing the kitchen of Julia Child, the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz, and one of the original Miss Piggy Muppets! (Which I was very excited about, as I recently read the new Jim Henson biography and am slightly obsessed with Muppets at the moment.)

National Botanical Garden and Old Town Alexandria - DesignLively

We also went into the United States Botanical Gardens for the orchid exhibition – just beautiful!

Fortunately, there were as many beautiful flowers outside the botanical gardens as there were inside!

Old Town Alexandria - DesignLivelyCaptiol Hill and Old Town Alexandria - DesignLivelyOld Town Alexandria - DesignLively

About Lodging:

Due to a reservation error, we ended up staying one night at the Westin Alexandria and one night at the Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria. Both were lovely hotels – we are SPG members and usually have a very good experience with any Starwoods property. I will say that the Sheraton was more conveniently located, as we could easily walk to the downtown area in a few minutes.

Have you been to Old Town Alexandria? What should I try out next time?
What is your favorite thing to do in D.C.?

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

24 Hours in New York City

A few weekends ago I met up with some old college girlfriends for a quick whirlwind weekend in New York City.

I’ve been to New York several times, and have reached the point where I’ve checked the obligatory touristy spots off my life, (Central Park, the Public Library, The Met, the Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, etc.) so I was excited to try something new.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively  A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon – a warm respite from this winter we’d been having – and spent it delightfully walking around Brooklyn and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

We took the 6 train line down to the Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall stop and the bridge was just around the corner. Most people say it’s better to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan because the views are better. We walked over the bridge both directions and there wasn’t a view I didn’t enjoy! The weather was beautiful and I finally got a taste of spring.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively
It’s hard to believe this bridge was built in 1887 – the sheer concept of building it is mind-boggling. It’s put David McCullough’s The Great Bridge, which is all about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, on my would-like-to-read-soon list.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLivelyA Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

Once in Brooklyn we walked around the Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights area. The Brooklyn Promenade provides a beautiful view of the city, plentiful people-watching opportunities, and endless benches to park yourself upon.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

While Grimaldi’s at the base of the Bridge seemed to be a touristy hot-spot (the lines were long!) we opted to try out Siggy’s Good Food, an organic, farm-to-table cafe and smoothie bar a few blocks away. It was busy, but the wait was short.

(Salmon burger gets five stars from this girl.)

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

The Brooklyn Bridge Park at the base of the bridge looks like a beautiful place to take a summer picnic – although not too inviting in March. A Frozen Yogurt food truck (YoGo) caught my attention, and we enjoyed a $4 sweet treat.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLivelyDon’t expect them to be generous with the toppings, as evidenced by the sparse smattering of blueberries and gummi bears.

The next day we do what all New Yorkers do on Sunday, we brunched.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

The CookShop in Chelsea was our destination and was worthy of the 20 minute trek to get there (in the cold, windy weather! Yesterday’s sunshine was long-gone). I strongly recommend a reservation, as there were crowds of people waiting, even when we left around 1:00pm!
While I love going out to a nice dinner, I’m not sure there’s anything better than a leisurely brunch.

Right across the street from CookShop is The High Line, an old elevated subway line turned park-walkway. I look forward to checking it out again when I am in NY in June when everything has bloomed!

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

Fortunately, when there are no flowers and foliage to bring color to NYC, the public murals do. Love this vibrant take of the “Kissing Sailor”.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively
We braved the cold (yesterday’s sunshine was long gone) and walked the High Line down to Chelsea Market, which is located inside the old Nabisco Factory. The urban food market is full of shops and restaurants, and the architecture is scrappy, industrial, and just cool. It’s a bigger, hipper version of Boston’s Quincy Market.

A Girls Weekend in New York City - DesignLively

Between our city adventures, movie-watching, and catching up it was a quick 24 hours, so I am looking forward to returning in June to see some more of the city.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for when I return!

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla

As time goes by, one thing my husband and I have learned about our vacation-style is that we love to hike. On every major trip we’ve been on, the time we spent hiking has always been one of our major takeaway highlights.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

In Jamaica it was Dunn’s River Falls, in Scotland, Arthur’s Seat, and in Italy we hiked the Cinque Terre trails. When I started asking around for hiking recommendations in Southern California the resounding recommendation was Torrey Pines State Reserve.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Torrey Pines is famous for its golf course, but the state reserve is a beautiful location full of trails. We spent about 4 hours in the reserve, and hiked most of the trails – our favorites being Yucca Point and Razor Point.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Of course about two minutes into our afternoon of hiking I notice the sign that says “Warning: These trails are rattlesnake heaven and they are hiding under every crevice!”. Okay, so maybe that’s not what the sign said, but that’s certainly what I read. I am happy to report that not a snake was seen.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

The reserve is beautiful – and a very different visual feast for the eyes than what we are seeing in New England. Craggy rocks, cacti, and dry dusty landscape – what a departure from our snow!

Hiking in Torrey Pines is free, as is the parking.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

After an active morning of hiking we headed into the town of La Jolla. We headed straight for Children’s Cove, home of the famous seals.

 

Spend half an hour admiring the flocks of pelicans and these rolly-polly chubbers flop around on the beach. Just be sure you don’t stand down-wind. You’ll smell it when you do.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

It cracks me up that they all look so smiley!

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Perhaps if I was blissfully unaware of my sheer amount of blubber, and got to lie on a beach all day like a rotund Queen I’d be smiling like that too!

The rest of our day was cut short – as we had plans that evening back in L.A. So we hit the road and enjoyed another famed California adventure – the traffic. : )

That brings an end to my California travel recaps – if you are lucky enough to be going to California soon I hope my recommendations help!

Read about the rest of my California adventures here.