Chicago Travel Diary

I feel like I say this at the top of just about every travel diary post, but we were over the moon excited to travel to Chicago. It had been high on our bucket list for years, and it was time we finally made it happen!With three full days to explore the lively city, we hit the ground running every day in an effort to cover as much as humanly possible (no surprises there). Between the delicious food (hi, deep dish pizza!), stunning architecture, and thunderstorms that came out of nowhere, we were constantly entertained by all that the city had to offer…and infinitely grateful that we packed rain jackets.

Keep on reading to get all of my recommendations!

We stayed at the Chicago Athletic Association and absolutely loved it. As if its location right next to Millennium Park weren’t enough of a selling point, it also has a Shake Shack in the lobby. Yep, you read that right. Plus, by staying in the hotel, you get the perk of being able to head up to their popular rooftop bar, Cindy’s, at any time. More on that below!

Architecture River Cruise: This was the absolute best way to start our trip. Even though it was a little rainy during our cruise, we got an amazing lay of the land of downtown Chicago and felt so much more informed walking around during the remainder of our trip. I’d highly, highly recommend making the time (and spending the money) for this!

Lincoln Park: This park is so lovely, and the surrounding neighborhoods are too. We spent roughly half of a day making our way through the Conservatory, the Zoo, and finally to some shopping at Halsted and Armitage (more on that below in the ‘Shop’ section).

Millennium Park: Directly across the street from our hotel, we spent a lot of time both in this park, as well as observing it from our room. The Cloudgate sculpture (aka The Bean) is seriously cool in real life and we somehow managed to get a photo with no one else around. I still don’t know how we did that, but I’m so thrilled we did!

Art Institute: Just a block from Millennium Park is the spectacular Art Institute with a notable collection of Impressionist and Modern art. Though you’ll likely start in one of those two places, I’d also recommend heading downstairs to the miniature rooms section—it’s a little hidden gem!

The 606: Big fans of any sort of highline, we were eager to check out Chicago’s version. We started near Logan Square and ended in Wicker Park, where we got delicious smoothies and hung out listening to the cicadas buzz in the trees. It was a really peaceful end to the day and more than ensured that we got our step count in for the day.

Wrigley Ville: While there were no home games happening during our stay, we still made a point to head out to Wrigley Field to see the stadiums and buy Cubs merch. I’m now the very proud owner of a little boy’s baseball tee 🙂

Lake Michigan: It was v hot most days we were in town and if we had had any more time on our hands, I would have definitely spent it sunbathing along Lake Michigan. It’s so stunning!

Skydeck at the Willis Tower: Having learned all about the magnificent engineering behind the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), we were really excited to head to the top on our last day. In retrospect though, I would say that you should skip this tourist attraction. Even though we purchased tickets online for a specific time window, we were forced to wait in line for 3 hours. Since we got there pretty early in the morning, we were able to swing it but it was one of the most disorganized, tiring travel experiences I have ever encountered. And to add insult to injury, our photos didn’t come out *that* great in the end. Save yourself the headache and skip it!

Miracle Mile: There are shopping opportunities galore along Miracle Mile, but I particularly enjoyed the local shops to Chicago, including Ikram and P.O.S.H.

Jayson Home: We were nothing short of obsessed with this design store. It’s a miracle I didn’t leave with two coffee tables, three rugs, and four candles.

Halsted and Armitage: Just a few blocks from Lincoln Park, this area of Chicago is filled with great shopping, delicious restaurants, and beautiful surrounding homes. Seriously, try not to take a photo of just about every house you pass on the side streets.

Breakfast:

The Allis at Soho HouseSituated in the heart of the West Loop, this breakfast spot is très chic. Highly recommend coming here for the avocado toast and staying for the vibes.

3 Arts Club and Café at Restoration Hardware: All I can say is “wow,” and that goes for not only the design of this place but also the crowds. If I could have done it over, I would have popped in a couple hours after they open, picked up an iced latte from the bar, and then walked around the property. Trust me, that’s the way to do it.

Lunch:

Portillo’s: Speaking of a crazy busy restaurant, Portillo’s was the definition of hectic. But the hot dogs were good, so I’ll give them that!

Parson’s Chicken and Fish: A favorite amongst locals, this was the perfect spot to come for a refreshing afternoon drink.

Pequod’s and Giordano’s: Going to Chicago without eating deep-dish pizza should be a crime. We heard so much about both of these places and had to experience them both for ourselves.

Summer House Santa Monica: Though we didn’t actually eat here, I thoroughly enjoyed its décor and was sincerely tempted by their cookies.

Dinner:

Ema: AKA the Mediterranean meal of my dreams. The cherry on top? Once you’re done with dinner, you’re smack dab in the bar scene and can pop into a couple to see what they’re all about.

Girl and the Goat: I read about this spot in nearly every Chicago guide I could get my hands on, so I came in with very high expectations. While it didn’t quite live up to the hype in my book, it was still a delicious dinner that I would recommend. Just maybe don’t go in expecting to be blown away 🙂

Au Cheval: My top priority next time I visit Chicago will be getting the burger from this spot. Given that the wait was 3 hours in the middle of the day, I’m guessing it must be pretty damn good…

Drinks:

Guthrie’s Tavern: This nondescript bar was maybe one of my favorite places we visited during our trip. We popped in after our visit to Wrigley Field and got a little tipsy while playing board games—what more could you ask for?

Cindy’s: Located on the rooftop of our hotel, this trendy restaurant boasted amazing views of Millennium Park and delicious drinks. The lines to get up to the top on Friday and Saturday were out of this world, so definitely make a reservation if you’re not staying in the hotel.

Cherry Circle Room: Also located in our hotel was this gem of a restaurant. We frequented the bar and were obsessed with just about every last detail in the place.

Well, there you have it! A whirlwind itinerary of the windy city. We had the best time exploring many corners of Chicago and can’t wait to come back someday.

Have you been to Chicago? Please share your favorite spots below!

London Travel Diary

Believe it or not, I had never been to London before! So when I found out that our cruise docked just outside of the city in Dover, I couldn’t resist the chance to stay a few extra days and explore all that it has to offer. Ideally, we would have stayed for much longer and given ourselves plenty of time to not only explore London, but also the English countryside. But because we had already been traveling for 10 days on the cruise, we didn’t want to push ourselves over the edge. Instead, we booked a long weekend in London and tried to pack in as much as possible—keep reading to see what we did!

Tower of London: Three words: The crown jewels. We were so happy we carved out the time to tour the Tower of London, and would highly recommend adding it to your itinerary as well.

London Bridge: Another bonus of the Tower of London? The views of the London Bridge.

Museums: London is filled with amazing museums, and lucky for us tourists, most of them are free. During our extended weekend in the city, we were able to visit the Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert, The Wallace Collection, and Churchill War Rooms. The British Museum was also on our bucket list but we unfortunately didn’t make it this trip. Pro tip: Definitely reserve your tickets for the Churchill War Rooms in advance, otherwise you’ll have to wait for several hours since it’s a very small space.

Historical Sites in Westminster: Within about a 3-hour window, we were able to see the Buckingham Palace (and the changing of the guard’s ceremony!), Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the House of Parliament. Unfortunately, Westminster Abbey was closed the day we were in the area but I’ve heard it’s just as spectacular on the inside as it is on the outside. As you’re making your way from one spot to the next, I’d highly recommend walking through St. James’ Park—the oldest royal park in the city—for a gorgeous place to rest your legs.

St. Paul’s Cathedral: An iconic feature of the London skyline with its huge dome, this cathedral is not to be missed.

Notting Hill: This was, by far, my favorite part of London that we visited. Simply put, it’s perfect in every way. The houses are jaw-dropping, the food is delicious, the shopping is top-notch. I easily could have spent an entire day just weaving through the streets, and wish that we had found a hotel or Airbnb in this area so we could have spent as much time as possible. With our limited time though, we were able to experience a lot—we started our Saturday morning at the Portobello Road antiques market and then made our way to St. Luke’s Mews and Chepstow Villas for beautiful pastel homes. Of course, we also did a lot of shopping so check out that section below for more.

Hyde Park and Kensington Palace: Looking for a peaceful way to spend a couple hours? Look no further than Hyde Park. The park is absolutely huge and there are so many pleasant spots, but we really enjoyed sitting on the lounge chairs by the pond and passing by Kensington Palace.

Columbia Road Flower Market: Depending on where you’re staying in London, this might be quite the trek for you but it is so worth it. After all, just think about all of the Instagram photo ops you’ll get while you’re on the subway over! If you do want to go, take note that it happens on Sunday mornings and it’s best if you get there early when the flowers are fresh. After admiring and smelling all of the flowers, you can then explore the Shoreditch neighborhood (more on that below in the shopping section).

Redchurch Street: Located in Shoreditch, a hip neighborhood in East London akin to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Redchurch Street is filled with cool shops. We spent a couple of hours popping into stores like Labour and Wait, Modern Society, Goodhood, and Aida, and exploring through this up-and-coming part of town.

Spitalfields Market: Not too far from Shoreditch is Spitalfields market—a very cool indoor market filled with lots of vendors and delicious food.

Harrods: Wow. Just, wow. Never have I ever been in a such a chic and upscale department store. While you’re roaming through the halls, be sure to not miss “Shoe Heaven” or the food court.   

Notting Hill: While you’re in Notting Hill, definitely walk up and down Westbourne Grove for great shopping opps.

Chiltern Street: This quaint street is very small but is filled with some amazing spots—including clothing shops and restaurants.

Breakfast and Coffee:

Coppa Club: Not only does this spot have delicious food, but also unbeatable views of the London Bridge. Plus, just look at the comfy set up of their pods!

Farm Girl: I had seen this place all over Instagram before coming to London and knew that I wanted to check it out for myself. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Albion: While we were in Shoreditch, we popped into Albion for some coffee and light bites, and loved it!

Lunch:

Borough Market: I’d give this market, which is one of the largest and oldest in London, an A+. Come for the grilled cheese from Kappacasein, and stay for just about everything else you could imagine.

Ottolenghi: As a lover of the Plenty cookbooks, I was very excited to learn that Ottolenghi had several restaurants throughout the London. As we were walking through Notting Hill, we stumbled into one and picked up a few goodies for the road.

Pubs: It goes without saying that a crucial part of the authentic London travel experience is pubs. With one on just about every corner, you’ll have many options to choose from on any given day.

Dinner:

Chiltern Firehouse: Upon learning that this is where Kate Moss comes for a glass of wine with friends, I knew I needed to check it out too. We made a reservation for dinner in the restaurant, but you could also just go for drinks on the patio.

The Palomar: Speaking of places that require a reservation, The Palomar is no exception to that rule. With tasty Middle Eastern bites right in the middle of the Mayfair neighborhood, this trendy spot will not disappoint.

Dishoom: I had read about this Indian restaurant on just about every single travel blog I encountered, so I made it a priority to try. While Indian food isn’t my favorite cuisine, I still really enjoyed our meal (and the ambience!) here.

High Tea:

High tea is an absolute must when in London—it’s just so fun to do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Sketch is the spot that just about everyone and their mom talks about, and while it’s certainly worth the hype, Charlotte Street Hotel is an excellent (and more affordable) option.

All in all, London was absolutely perfect. We could not have asked for better weather and left the city feeling oh-so-excited to return someday.

Lisbon Travel Diary

After making our way around Spain and Gibraltar, the next destinations on our cruise were in Portugal. I had already been to Portugal once before and loved all that I had seen, so I was very excited to have the chance to experience it again—though this time a little bit older and wiser.

While we stopped in two Portuguese cities, Lisbon and Porto, we had very limited time in the latter so I’ve decided to focus this travel diary strictly on Lisbon. If you find yourself in the area though, definitely check out Porto for a smaller town feel only a couple hours away by car.

 

Much like in Barcelona, we hit the ground running in Lisbon as soon as we were able to depart the boat in the morning. Since we were right by the water already, we decided to start our itinerary in Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest and most charming neighborhoods. Atop the tallest hill in the city is the São Jorge Castle, which offers stunning views of the city and of the peacocks roaming around the grounds. And if you remember from my Mexico City travel diary, the peacocks at the Dolores Olmedo Museum were the cherry on top for me so I was very excited to take even more peacock pics 🙂

After weaving in and out of the charming alleyways and streets leading to and from the castle, we made our way to three additional historic sites: Lisbon Cathedral, Santo António Church, and Praça do Comércio. All three are very close together and can be done within about 30 minutes—perfect for the tourist trying to squeeze as much into a day’s travels as possible!

My boyfriend’s sister and her fiancé are quite the foodies, so it came as no surprise that they found a more casual restaurant by one of the most famous chefs in Lisbon: Bairro do Avillez. The whole restaurant is beautiful, but the patio is a real show-stopper. Even if you’re not the biggest foodie, I’d highly recommend this central spot for the ambience alone.

Once we wrapped our lengthy lunch, we all could have easily headed back to the boat for a nice siesta. But because we only had the one day in town, we powered through it and made our way to the Bairro Alto neighborhood. Filled with cobblestone streets, gorgeous tile, and interesting graffiti, this neighborhood gives you an excellent sense of Lisbon’s architectural beauty. From the Church of São Roque to the Miradouro de São Pedre de Alcantara, there are also several attractions to not be missed, especially if you’re seeking more panoramic views paired with some sweet sangria.

Hope you found this travel diary helpful, and can’t wait to share my full London travel diary with you tomorrow!

Mexico City Travel Diary

Having spent a great deal of time in Mexico—both on beaches as well as inland states—I was beyond excited to explore yet another new part, Mexico City. If Mexico City (also known as CDMX) isn’t on your travel bucket list, I’d highlyyyy recommend reconsidering. Between the diverse neighborhoods, rich history, and delicious food, your trip itinerary will basically write itself. But, in case you need a little help with that, just keep reading.

We spent a total of 5 full days in Mexico City and packed them to the brim. While we definitely could have stayed longer (there’s just so much to see and do!), this ended up being the perfect amount of time for us. Let’s just say that I’m not sure my feet could have handled much more walking after 6 nights and 5 days in such a bustling city.

Throughout our time there, we tried to see at least one new neighborhood per day. Every single one we visited was so unique and distinct, and I couldn’t be happier that we made it a priority to explore as many as possible. Here are the neighborhoods we visited and the top spots to hit in each:

Roma and Condesa: Since we stayed in La Roma, we decided to ease into the trip by beginning our itinerary in these two neighborhoods. Looking back, they might just have been my favorites. They’re both incredibly stylish and young neighborhoods, and the lush greenery of the Condesa is such a nice retreat from city life.

Recommended time: 1 full day, plus many dinners and drinks

Lardo: For the most delicious pastries and fresh juice, don’t skip this spot.

Contramar: This classic spot is a staple for lunch amongst locals and tourists alike. Because it’s so busy, be sure to make a reservation.

Hotel Condesa: Drinks overlooking the city? Yes, please.

Aurora Musica Viva: To say I was obsessed with this place would be a massive understatement. From the gorgeous patio to the live jazz, it is perfection.

Rosetta: Never have I ever seen a prettier, dreamier space (and if you have, please tell me!!). This Italian meal was likely my favorite from the whole trip.

Casa Virginia: Speaking of beautiful dining places, Casa Virginia really took it to another level. The whole experience at this gem of a restaurant was unforgettable.

Páramo: When nearly every other spot was closed on Sunday night, we ducked into Páramo and couldn’t have been happier that we did. It was, by far, the coolest place we visited—and I’ve heard their sister restaurant downstairs is just as cool!

Avenida Amsterdam: This is the main avenue throughout the Condesa and it’s filled with some stunning architecture and street art. We walked up and down this avenue, as well as ducked down various side streets.   Parque México: This lush green space in the center of the Condesa is such a nice retreat from the busy streets surrounding it. Look out for the adorable school of dogs as you’re walking through!

Mercado Roma: If you want a little snack amidst you’re exploring, I’d recommend checking out Mercado Roma.

Art Galleries: The Roma is filled with inspiring art galleries, including Toca Galleria.

We popped in and out of several shops while making our way through these two stylish neighborhoods, but our favorites were:

Carla Fernandez

Roma Quince

Apartment 25

Goodbye Folk

City Center: The City Center is just what you’d expect upon reading the name: the historical center of Mexico City with landmarks dating back as far as the Aztec era. Between visiting ruins of an old temple to getting drinks on the 48th floor of a skyscraper, our day in this part of town was one for the books.

Recommended time: 1 full day

El Cardenal: This spot might win the award for most gorgeous exterior facade. And don’t even get me started about their hot chocolate—delicioso.

Torre Latinoamericana: While it was slightly scary to be up on the 48th floor sipping on a cocktail, the views from up here are unbeatable.

El Moro: Basically everyone and their mom told me about this curroria, and let me tell you, it was worth the hype. There are several in the city, including one in Mercado Roma!, so you can get your churro fix nearly everywhere you go.

Palacio Nacional: Covered in Diego Rivera art, this palace of the original Aztec ruler is something you cannot miss.

Metropolitan Cathedral: Centrally located in the Zócalo, this is the largest cathedral in the Americas.

Templo Mayor: We love, love, loved learning all about what remains of the central temple during the Aztec era.

Palacio de Bellas Artes: The name says it all, right? For a perfect view of this perfect construction, pop up to the 8th floor café of the Sears across the street.

El Zócalo: While it’s certainly tourist central, there’s also some great shopping here.

El Mercado de la Ciudadela: Hands down, this was the best market we visited during our time in Mexico City. Because we came here pretty early on in the trip, I was hesitant to spend all my money in one place not knowing what else I might find in the coming days. In retrospect though, I wish I had bought just about everything in this market. It’s by far the best—trust!

Polanco: Often described as the Beverly Hills of Mexico City, Polanco is an upscale neighborhood ripe for shopping. While we dedicated an entire day to exploring this part of town, it could easily be done in half as long.

Recommended time: 1 half day

Eno: I can see why this is one of the most popular cafés in the area—just look at that French toast!

El Pendulo: This café-meets-book store is the perfect place to take a break from the heat and happenings.

Maria Isabel: AKA quesadilla heaven.

Pujol: While we wouldn’t really consider ourselves “foodies,” we had heard such incredible things about this place and couldn’t resist. Considered one of the top restaurants in the world, Pujol was definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. It likely goes without saying, but be sure to make a reservation far in advance and expect to spend about 3 hours working through the 6-course menu.

Chapulin: How serene is this space? Grab a drink and admire the views.

Campos Elíseos: This is one of the main avenues that runs through Polanco and is filled with great shops, restaurants, and beautiful homes.

Museo Soumaya: Commissioned by one of the richest men in Mexico, this museum features everything from 19th and 20th century Mexican art to pieces by Rodin and Renoir. Plus, the iconic silver exterior can’t be missed!

Jumex CollectionIf you’re a modern art lover, you’ll want to carve out time for this museum as well.

Avendia Presidente Masaryk: Thought of as Mexico’s Champs-Élysées, this avenue is filled with amazing shops.

Onora CasaI am not exaggerating when I say that I wanted to buy every single piece I picked up in this store. With blankets from Oaxaca and pillowcases from Chiapas, I was in interior design heaven.

Xochomilco and Coyoacan: Remember when I said our days were packed? Well this one was probably the busiest of them all. Even amidst the hectic scheduling though, it was also probably my favorite. If I could do it over again, I would have spent much more time in Coyoacan and less in Xochimilco. Because Xochimilco is pretty far south (about an hour Uber ride), we spent a large portion of the day sitting in traffic. And while it was very eye-opening and interesting to visit a part of town where locals live, I would have loved more time to wander the quaint cobblestone streets of Coyoacan. If ever I’m back in Mexico City, that will be the first neighborhood I revisit!

Recommended time: 1 full day

San Angel Inn: I knew this place was going to be good, but didn’t realize just how good. Every corner was what Instagram dreams are made of. Come for the food, stay for the scenery.

Café Avellaneda: Smack dab in the middle of the Coyoacan, this cute little café whips up some great artisan coffee.

Floating Gardens: So, I’m a little mixed on this one. We had heard from several friends that this activity was not to be skipped, but in retrospect, I think we may have done just that. At 45 minutes outside of Mexico City, it’s a bit of a trek to get here and the activity itself is quite overpriced. Don’t get me wrong, the canals are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l and the mariachis are oh-so-fun, but if you’re short on time, I’d say this could easily be left off the itinerary.

Museo Dolores Olmedo: This museum, on the other hand, should be on the top of your list. Dolores Olmedo was a close friend of both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and her home boasts quite the collection from both artists. Though not only is the art is incredible, but the grounds are breathtaking. And full of peacocks!!

Frida Kahlo House: After observing art from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at Museo Dolores Olmedo, we were itching to learn more about the couple. Enter: The Frida Kahlo House, also known as the Blue House. We loved having a window into their lives, their struggles, and their artistry. If you’re wanting to do the same, then be sure to reserve tickets online in advance because the lines to get in were crazzzzyyy.

Plaza Hidalgo: Just down the street from the Frida Kahlo House is this beautiful park, ripe for people watching.

Mercado Artesenal Mexicano: This two-story market has some great gems if you’re willing to dig for them.

Coyoacan’s Cobblestone Streets: We were pretty exhausted by the time we made it to Coyoacan and unfortunately didn’t have time to explore all that much. By the looks of it though, Coyoacan’s cobblestone streets are packed with adorable shops.

Chapultepec: Since we took a late afternoon flight out of Mexico City, we had a spare morning to explore one last area: Chapultepec. I know I’ve said this several times now, but this really may have been one of my favorite experiences throughout the whole trip.

Recommended time: 3/4 of a day

To make the most of our last day, we woke up bright and early, picked up coffee and pastries from trusty Lardo, and headed to Chapultepec Park. Walking through the park early in the morning was so serene—there was hardly anyone else there! Eventually, we made our way up to the Castillo de Chapultepec, which was so. insanely. spectacular. Since we arrived right as it was opening, we beat the crowds and wandered through the castle as if it were our own.

In our last couple hours in Mexico City, we made our way through the Museum of Anthropology. You could very easily spend the rest of your life admiring and studying the archaeological artifacts in this massive museum.

Teotihuacan: Only about an hour from Mexico City are the pyramids of Teotihuacán, thought to have been built in 100 BC. The pyramids are really, really spectacular—in fact, one of them is the third largest in the world! If you have a spare morning or afternoon, I’d very much so recommend making the trek out here to experience them in all their glory. And if you do, I’d also recommend hopping an Uber with a book and guiding yourself through it. While we did a tour (link), we found it to be expensive, sales-y, and unfortunately not very informative at all. Save yourself the time and money—trust!

Recommended time: 1 half day

Aaaand that just about covers it. While our itinerary was totally achievable in our 5.5 days, I will warn you that we hardly had any downtime. If you’re one for a bit more time lounging at the hotel, I’d recommend cutting out one of the above. Oh, and don’t forget to leave time for lots (and lots!!) of traffic.

A Look Back: 2017 Travels

2017 was full of adventures, and I loved every single one of them. My boyfriend and I took the biggest trip we’ve ever been on together at the start of the year when we headed to Thailand and Cambodia for 2 weeks. To say it was magical would be an understatement. Though our travels didn’t end there—we also managed to squeeze in a New Mexican getaway, plus a road trip through the South. Check out all of the beautiful places we visited—along with detailed travel itineraries—below!

Thailand and Cambodia // Los Angeles and Santa Barbara // New Mexico // Mendocino // New Orleans // Savannah // Charleston // New York

P.S. Check out where I went last year here.

Charleston Travel Diary

The last (but certainly not least) leg of our trip through the south was Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve been dying to visit ever since one my favorite bloggers, Gal Meets Glam, moved to this charming city about a year ago, and am so excited we were able to squeeze it into our trip.

Like me, my best friend Calli had Charleston high up on her travel bucket list, so we invited her to join us for an extended weekend. Because there were three of us, we opted for an Airbnb to cut down costs but were so, so, so pleasantly surprised by how nice it ended up being. We really could not have asked for anything nicer, even from a hotel.

In total, we were in Charleston for four nights and three full days. And while there were still a few restaurants we weren’t able to try (looking at you, Xiao Biscuit!), we had plenty of time to do and see all that we had heard so much about.

Colonial Lake: This small lake reminded me a lot of Oakland’s Lake Merritt, so needless to say, I loved it.

South of Broad: I could spend the rest of my days just wandering through the South of Broad and probably never grow tired of the views. Around every bend is another stunning, historical home and photo op. Every single detail of the homes is breathtaking—from the porches to the landscaping to the shutters to the balconies, they are perfection. We particularly loved walking up Church Street, as well as peeking through the pineapple gates of the Simmons-Edwards House.

White Point Garden: As you’re walking down Broad, you’ll eventually run into White Point Garden along the water. Some say this park is haunted, but I say it’s magical. We even saw a proposal happen in the gazebo!

Rainbow Row: The houses along Rainbow Row are basically Charleston’s version of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco—but possibly even more colorful and charming. You have to get a little creative with your positioning to take a proper photo, but once you nail it, it’s social media gold.

 

Sullivan’s Island: The beach will be calling your name in sunny Charleston and when it does, drive right over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge and into Sullivan’s Island. We parked our car right near the lighthouse and spent the afternoon swimming in the incredibly warm water and popping into the shops on the island.

Middleton Plantation: There are quite a few plantations to choose from when visiting Charleston, but we received several recommendations for one in particular: Middleton. This old rice plantation in the lowcountry is nothing short of gorgeous, thanks to its oak trees draped in Spanish moss and views of the Ashley River. We purchased a general admissions ticket and so enjoyed our time spent wandering through the gardens.

Beckett Boutique: Calli and I wanted to buy just about every piece in this clothing boutique—that’s how good it is.

The Skinny Dip: Somewhere between a bar, café, and a clothing boutique is this cute shop. Don’t miss the patio on the second floor if you stop by!

Lily: This store will basically summon you in by the smell of the fragrant candles and perfumes inside.

Indigo Market: This charming furniture store is a bit of a ways from shops listed above, but just across the street from the delicious Butcher & Bee (more on that below).

Candlefish: Local to Charleston, these candles not only smell divine, but also come in a very stylish jar.

Charleston City Market: This place is tourist city, no doubt. But it’s also one of the country’s oldest public markets and spans four city blocks (!!!), so it’s worth a quick visit. Plus, I just loved the sweetgrass baskets galore.

Mac + Murphy: Can you say stationary heaven? The planner-obsessed organizer in me fell head over heels for this store.

Breakfast and Coffee:

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits: Picture a scrambled egg, crispy bacon, and melted cheddar all sandwiched between two biscuits—hungry yet?

Black Tap Coffee: I don’t usually drink coffee, but I had to make an exception for the iced lavender latté. It did not disappoint.

 The Daily: If you’re in need of another breakfast spot in Charleston, look no further than here. Their homemade bread is incredible, so I highly recommend the avocado toast.

The Park Café: Without a doubt, this was my favorite breakfast in Charleston. The space is very cool—yet also very casual—and packed with locals doing their local things. Order the fried egg sandwich with a side of grapefruit and walk off the meal at the nearby Hampton Park.

Lunch:

Butcher & Bee: Funnily enough, we actually didn’t have this spot on our itinerary because it’s a bit of a trek on the north end of King Street (about a 10 minute Uber ride from Rainbow Row). But when nearly every person we met recommended it, we shuffled things around to make it work—and I’d recommend you do the same, too.

The Obstinate Daughter: If you make it out to Sullivan’s Island, be sure to also make a reservation here. The decor is beautiful, and the food is even better.

Leon’s Oyster Shop: All I can say is this place is worth the hype. Don’t leave without trying the stiam salad, fried chicken sandwich, and soft serve to finish it off.

Dinner:

The Grocery: The thought of the spaghetti squash and roast chicken is *almost* enough to make me book a flight out to Charleston tomorrow. In fact, as I write this, I’m simultaneously attempting to recreate this insanely delicious meal at home!

Le Farfalle: The patio filled with twinkly lights, and the focaccia bread filled with all things delicious, make this spot unforgettable.

Husk: We had heard so much about this restaurant before heading off on our trip, and while we certainly enjoyed our meal, it was not my favorite. If you only have a couple days in Charleston, I’d recommend taking a look at the menus for the places I’ve listed here to see what you’ll enjoy the most. If you do decide to come here, be sure to make your reservation long in advance and ask if they can set you on the second floor balcony!

The Ordinary: Even though I’m not much of a seafood person, this spot managed to leave me feeling full and impressed.

Drinks:

Chez Nous: This place wins the award for sweetest ambiance, bar none. I mean, just look at that handwritten menu! Though I do think it’s worth nothing that we had a pretty poor experience with the service here. We made a reservation long in advance and made sure to specify in the notes that we just wanted to order wine while there. When we arrived however, the hostess and waitress were both very confused by our decision to only order wine, which left us feeling unwelcome and awkward. That aside, the wine selection is fantastic and the outdoor seating cannot be beat.

The Darling Oyster Bar: This is the perfect place to come for a pre-dinner drink and app. If you enjoy a sweet cocktail, I’d recommend the Paloma.

Zero George: Yet another magical spot that falls high up on my list of musts for Charleston. We came for cocktails at sunset on the porch, and sipped them as we admired this stunning hotel.  

The Watch Rooftop Bar: A rooftop bar is an automatic win in my book, and this one did not disappoint. But then again, was it the rooftop or was it the fact that they were filming Southern Charmed while we were there? Guess we’ll never know.

Goat Sheep Cow: Cheese? Check. Wine? Check. Insta-worthy ambience? Check. This place has it all—just be sure you go to the one on north King Street, as the other one is just a to-go location.

Sweets: 

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: The flavors here are out of this world, and they’ll let you sample as many as you want! Which, for me, is crucial because I like to sample no less than 10 flavors before deciding on just 1.

Sugar Bake Shop: This adorable little bakery is just up the street from the aforementioned cutest stationary store of all time. So basically, it’s cuteness overload in this corner of Charleston.

Savannah Travel Diary

Exploring more of the south has been on our travel wish list for a while now, especially after falling in love with New Orleans last year. So when we received an invitation to a wedding in the south—in New Orleans, funnily enough—we decided we’d make a trip of it and explore some new cities while we were over there.

There are so many southern cities that I want to see, but we ultimately decided on Savannah and Charleston for this specific trip. While I admittedly was a bit more excited for Charleston than Savannah leading up to the trip, my opinions totally switched after visiting both. Savannah is, by far, the most quaint and charming city I have ever visited and I loved every minute spent exploring it.

After the wedding in New Orleans, my boyfriend and I flew into Atlanta, rented a car, and drove it 2.5 hours to Savannah. The drive was so peaceful and pretty—I’d highly recommend it! Not including this travel day, we had a full 2 days in Savannah. While you could definitely stay longer, we felt that was enough time to hit all of the main spots, while still having time to relax and enjoy ourselves.

We stayed in an Airbnb near Forsyth Park, which was a great place to be in. I’d also recommend checking out bed and breakfasts near Lafayette Square.

Forsyth Park: Because we stayed in the southern area of the city, we had to walk through Forsyth Park each day to get to the various shops and restaurants on our list. But let me tell you, we were definitely not mad about that. This park is absolutely gorgeous—filled with fountains, oak trees, and gardens, it’s the perfect place to take a rest in the southern heat.

Mercer-Williams House: We did a tour of the Mercer-Williams house and it did not disappoint. It’s in a historic home in Savannah—and is supposedly haunted!—and the interior details gorgeous.

Bull Street: Walking in Savannah? It better be up Bull Street. Every single corner of Bull Street is spectacular, and you’ll run into so many stunning squares as you make you’re way up the city. A couple of my favorites were: Monterey Square and Whitfield Square.

Wormsloe Plantation: One of my closest friend’s recommended that we head out of downtown for an afternoon on Wormsloe Plantation, and I couldn’t be happier that we headed his advice. Like I mentioned, we rented a car, so driving the 25 minutes to this plantation was no problem at all. Even if you don’t have a car though, I’d highly recommend spending the money on an Uber to get out here. Simply put, the oak tree-lined was one of the more beautiful sites I’ve ever seen in my life.

West Bluff Drive: Just about a 5 minute drive from Wormsloe Plantation is yet another stunningly beautiful site: the Skidaway River. West Bluff Drive is situated right along the water and is filled with some of the most beautiful homes.

River Street: We spent about an hour walking up River Street, popping into stores and admiring the Savannah River. Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is one store in particular that can’t be missed. Try the pralines and thank me later.

Palmetto Bluff: On our way to Charleston from Savannah, we stopped by Montage Palmetto Bluff and almost fainted when we got there. Despite what you’re thinking, it wasn’t from the heat (though it was really, really warm), but rather from the breathtaking grounds. We wandered all around the hotel property and made a pact to stay there some day.

Alex Raskin Antiques: This amazing antiques shop is right in Monterey Square and is not to be missed.

Number Four Eleven:  From toiletry bags to towels, this shop has it all—and will monogram it for you, too. My boyfriend and I left with his & hers toiletry travel bags.

Shop SCAD: The Savannah College of Art and Design has a huge presence throughout the city, and this store gives you a peak into the incredible work being created there.

Savannah Bee Company: This store may be the sweetest of them all—get it? Sample all of their delicious honeys and leave with one, two…or maybe even three.

The Paris Market: Have you ever seen a cuter storefront? I haven’t. Pop in here for some coffee and home décor inspiration.

Chocolat by Andam Turoni: Treat yourself to some of the most delicious—and by far the prettiest—chocolate in Savannah.

Breakfast:

The Collins Quarter: Between the gorgeous decor and the delicious food, the Collins Quarter is an A+ in my book. I ordered the avocado toast and a chai tea latte.

Clary’s Café: In the chance that you can force yourself to eat breakfast anywhere other than the Collins Quarter, come to Clary’s for an authentic southern meal.

Lunch:

Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House: If you ask anyone where to eat lunch in Savannah, they’ll more than likely say Mrs. Wilkes. And while there’s no avoiding that it’s a commitment (you’ll likely have to stand in line for about an hour before being seated), it’s so worth it. They seat whole tables at a time and serve everything family style—and when I say everything, I actually mean everything. At any given time, the table will have multiple helpings of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cream corn, stuffing, salad, and biscuits, and you can always ask for more! Once you’ve had all the fried chicken you can take, you just pay $22 and go on with your day!

Sandfly Barbecue: This spot is a Savannah staple and happens to be just down the road from West Bluff Drive.

Dinner:

The Grey: My boyfriend discovered this gem on a whim one night and it ended up being our favorite spot for dinner. Whatever you do, don’t miss this place.

The Wyld: Ok, I know I’ve said a quite a few places were my favorite, but this one may just take the cake. It also came to us as a recommendation from my close friend and was probably the most “local” thing we did the whole time we were there. Come for the delicious seafood, stay for the bocce ball.

Drinks:

Gryphon Tea Room: Just across from Shop SCAD is this trendy tea room. The building was once an apothecary, as well as a bookstore, and they’ve done an amazing job of maintaining both histories.

Rocks on the Roof: During your stroll up River Street, take a break from the heat at this rooftop bar overlooking the water.

The Olde Pink House: This was one of my favorite spots we visited while in Savannah. Not only is the exterior what Instagram dreams are made of, but the building itself has such a rich (and haunted!) history. We just went for drinks downstairs, but heard the food upstairs is great.

Sweets:

Leopold’s Ice Cream: No description necessary. Go, sample all kinds of flavors (including the tutti frutti), and enjoy a refreshing ice cream cone while walking in the heat.