Montego Bay, Jamaica

My hubby and I just came back from a tropical paradise vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica!!! Neither of us had ever been to the island and neither of us had ever taken time away from the Wisconsin winter to visit the beach… so we thought what better time than the present?! It was worth every penny.

We stayed at an all inclusive resort, Sunscape Splash. This was perfect for us because it was on the lower end of the budget but was a serious bang for our buck. It was an incredible resort for a four night trip.

Our first morning waking up in Montego Bay we decided we needed a little adventure. We booked a taxi from our resort to The Hip Strip, which was an adventure indeed. The Hip Strip is a busy street filled with shops, vendors, food, and tours. This was the perfect souvenir stop and we had fun experiencing the hubbub of downtown.

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Toward the end of The Hip Strip is Margaritaville. This place was a blast! The view was incredible, the drinks were yummy, and the energy was unreal even in the mid-morning. While it was a bit on the touristy side, my husband and I were able to find a little spot all to ourselves to enjoy our surroundings. The water was a gorgeous aqua color when the sun came out and the view of the mountains instantly stole my heart.

Another adventure, and definitely the stand out of our trip, was an excursion to Chukka Good Hope. This was unlike anything either of us had ever experienced. First of all, the ride there was an experience in and of itself. We had a bus driver who pointed out sights throughout the two hour trip to Falmouth all the while playing Bob Marley and making me slightly nervous driving up through the mountains on tiny unpaved roads. I don’t know about you, but I love learning the ins and outs of an area I visit so this was a highlight of the trip for one. Once we got to Good Hope, that’s when the real fun began. It was one flat rate to build your own adventure throughout the day. We opted for dune buggies, floating down the Martha Brae river, a tour of the estate, lunch, and rum tasting. My personal favorite was the estate tour because of the view. I’ve never been to a jungle, mountain-filled area so this blew my mind.

 

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It was such a great trip. We really needed some time away and everything about our time in Jamaica was just easy. Along with these few adventures, we definitely spent a fair amount of time soaking up the sun at the resort with tropical drinks in our hands. It was nice to get out and have some fun but also sit back and relax.

We decided that some day we will go back to Jamaica to check out Negril and Ocho Rios, since those areas seem to offer different things. Prior to our trip we had heard mixed reviews about Montego Bay, but our trip was amazing. Not a single complaint. So if you are looking for some adventure with beautiful surroundings I would highly recommend a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica!!!

Key West, FL

As you may have seen in a recent travel post, this summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip with my family to The Florida Keys. One of my favorite parts of the vacation was our day trip to Key West, which was so much fun! To start, the actual drive down is gorgeous. I have seen it on many “things to do in your lifetime” lists and would recommend that you add it to yours. The famous Overseas Highway is how you actually get down to Key West. From our hotel in Key Largo, which is the northernmost Key, it took a little over two hours by car… and you need to do it by car. I promise that you won’t regret it. It’s a one road in and one road out kind of deal and the scenery will take your breath away. It literally feels like you are driving on water because the ocean surrounds the road. Amazing!

Since most of the family members we were with had been to Key West before, we first stopped at a few of their go-to’s including El Mason De Pepe, a Cuban bar and cigar shop, and Hogs Breath, a famous bar that has the yummiest drinks and a fun atmosphere. From there, we visited The Southernmost Point in the US and Mallory Square… two essentials on the island.

We spent most of our day sight-seeing and exploring what Key West has to offer, a lot of which is located on Duval Street. Downtown is filled with unique shops, bars, and restaurants. We went to Flying Monkey’s Saloon for frozen drinks, the original Margaritaville for lunch, and Sloppy Joe’s for a live band. Needless to say it was a good day on Duval!

Other notables from our Key West trip included US 1 Mile Marker 0 and the Key West Lighthouse, both historic and must-sees in their own special way. We ended the day with a beautiful sunset on the island as we drove away. Sunsets in Key West are a nightly celebration and likely the biggest must-see of them all.

Key West is truly one of those places you have got to see and experience for yourself. There is a rich history to tell about the island… everything from pirate ships to famous poets and lots of things in between. I know I will be back again to see some things that didn’t quite make our day trip itinerary. There is so much to do and see that you won’t be able to get to everything in one day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! If you get the chance to go, GO!!!

Have you ever been to Key West? Anything I missed? XOXO

Key Largo, FL

Earlier this summer my husband, parents, and I traveled down to The Florida Keys for a family vacation and celebration of my father-in-law getting married. I’ve been to Florida a couple of times, but never to The Keys so this was a really exciting trip!

We stayed at Marina Del Mar on the island of Key Largo. Other family members and wedding guests stayed right across the marina at The Holiday Inn. The hotels were associated with each other so it was easy to jump back and forth throughout the week. Marina Del Mar had a lot of of the old school Keys feel while The Holiday Inn was a bit more updated, but both were great! Here is a panorama of our view from the room…

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We had our fair share of seriously amazing food on the island. Each place we ate had a few things in common including water frontage, live music, and a relaxed feel. The first night we knew wanted one thing and one thing only… seafood! We found a super cute restaurant Snapper’s that gave us a great first taste of what would be many freshly caught meals that week. My favorite restaurant was Bayside Grille, which had a perfect mix of relaxing but upper scale feel to it. It was there that I caught my first glimpse of a Florida Keys sunset…

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Our hotel was right in the middle of two restaurants, Skippers Dockside and Sharkey’s. We ate at both several times because of the charm and convenience. Skippers Dockside had a gorgeous deck and outside seating area equipped with lawn games and a few fire pits. Inside there were beautifully decorated seating areas and a fun bar. Sharkey’s was very casual. It was more of a party place and we sure did party! The group of men that were on the trip did some fishing on a charter boat and Sharkey’s fried it up for us. It was literally the best fish I’ve ever had! We also ate at The Pilot House Marina & Restaurant, a fun restaurant that had a glass bottom bar. And we couldn’t forget about dessert! Key Largo Chocolates was our go to ice cream stop throughout the week. It is a must stop for gourmet sweets, even if you’re just passing through.

The main attraction on Key Largo is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We spent a whole day here sun bathing, relaxing a bit, and snorkeling. It was a fun way to truly experience The Keys as most people spend their time in The Keys right on or in the water. If you ever do go snorkeling here, take Dramamine! We went out on a overcast day. The waves were high and my stomach was not happy with me. All in good fun, though.

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And of course a vacation wouldn’t  be complete without a little bit of shopping. Shell World and Florida Keys Gift Company were great souvenir stops, though they also had quite a bit of home decor and other fun treasures. Pink Junktique was a cute thrift and consignment shop filled with many girly finds.

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A few last tidbits that you should know about Key Largo in case you ever do go… It is the oldest Key, closest to the main part of the state, so keep in mind that many things look a bit run down. The feel on Key Largo is very old school and classic. There is one main highway that goes straight through all of The Keys and we found that once you get off the main drag you will find many hidden treasures. Everywhere on the island is very relaxed so don’t pack anything too fancy. You’re much more likely to see people dressed in swimming suits and cover-ups than suits and ties. Lastly you absolutely have to get on the water! Everything is based on a marina, ocean, or lake. Get your booty on a jet ski, fishing boat, snorkel tour, or just take some time to swim around. You won’t regret it!

Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on the second main part of our vacation, Key West, XOXO.

Carry On Essentials

In preparation (and so much excitement!) for my upcoming trip to The Florida Keys, I wanted to share some of my absolute essentials I take with me in my carry on.

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Distractions: I don’t love to fly but find that keeping my mind busy with a variety of tasks helps pass the time and keeps calm. Magazines, a good book, and sudoku are all musts.

Electronics: Charging cables, ear buds, updated song playlists on my iPhone, and my tablet fully stocked rented movies/shows.

Beauty: Blotting paper, lip balm, and hair ties.

And of course a super adorable bag to put everything into! I love this bag by Thirty-One because of the various compartments, size, and durability. It comes in so many fun colors and patterns. Plus, using a carry on bag that will double for the beach (like this one) means one less thing to pack.

Happy traveling, XOXO!

St. Louis – Day 2

As you may have read in my first post about my recent trip, I really enjoyed a weekend getaway with my husband to St Louis last weekend. Day two brought us a whole new set of adventures!

We woke up early and made our first stop at Gateway Arch, which was more incredible than I thought it would be. I knew it would be a staple for the trip, but didn’t know just how much I would love it. The size, the view, the history… everything about The Arch blew me away.

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Our next stop was only a few blocks away, Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium. We aren’t huge baseball fans, yet on road trips we seem to always stop at the nearest ballpark. It’s a great way to experience the raw feel of a city. St Louis wasn’t lacking in fun in this area by any means. Ballpark Village is a FREE area just outside the stadium that is perfect for grabbing a bite, sipping a drink, or just hanging out with other fans. If we ever go back, my husband and I decided we would opt out of actual tickets and just explore more of the village area. Don’t get me wrong, the stadium itself was also really cool. My favorite part was the incredible city view we saw right from our seats.

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Day two ended with one last outdoor adventure to City Garden. It reminded me of a tiny Central Park, an outdoor oasis in the middle of the city. Last was lunch at The Flying Saucer and drinks at the best rooftop bar I have ever been to, Three Sixty. The view was incredible and the bar so unique.

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That wraps up the highlights of our time spent in St Louis. Overall the trip was so fun!!! It was great to experience a new city for a special occasion, get out and do something a little bit different. There was enough to do that we may consider going back in the future, XOXO.

Have you ever been to St Louis? What was the best thing you did there?

St. Louis – Day 1

My husband and I wanted to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with a getaway. We picked St. Louis because it’s a short 5 hour from our house, we had  never  been there before, and the price was right.

The first stop in St. Louis was City Museum and it was one of our favorites of the trip! If you ever get the chance to go, I would highly recommend it. City Museum is hard to describe and even harder to capture on photos. It’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure, indoor/outdoor playground and museum. There are caves, rides, slides, stairs, cubbies, treehouses, aquariums… you name it and they had it. SO FUN!!!

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St. Louis has a great variety of craft breweries and Alpha Brewing Company is the first one we checked out after the museum. They specialize in aged beer, which I had never really heard of before. It wasn’t my favorite but my husband really liked it.

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After we hydrating at the bar, we checked out Laclede’s Landing, which as an older part of downtown. (It’s also where I caught my first glimpse of The Arch!). Laclede’s Landing is only a few blocks wide and long but is packed with things to do. The cobblestone streets were so charming and it’s right on The Mississippi River. It was a safe place for us to take a late night walk. We ended the day at Morgan Street Brewery, a brewery/restaurant right in that area.

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(Stay tuned for Day 2…)