Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Park City, Utah

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Park City, Utah

As Summer comes to a close, so too does Brit’s Summer Travel Series. And the last stop on my journey is one of my favorite places in the world, Park City, Utah. Because I grew up in Salt Lake City, Park City is like a second home to me.

Just 35 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, Park City is a top destination anytime of the year. Although the town is famous for its skiing, the summer months are just as fabulous. From hiking to river rafting, shopping and eating, there are endless activities to do in Park City that work for people of all ages.

The view of The Canyons from McPolin Farm

Since I’ve lived in Utah, Park City has changed so much. Many of the restaurants and shops are now different and even the ski resorts have had a major shakeup, but it is still charming as ever and now much fancier, which I love. For my most recent visit, we chose to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Park City and absolutely loved it.

The Waldorf was not only a beautiful hotel with huge, updated rooms, but the staff was also incredible. Everyone remembered us and they were so sweet to our puppy, Charlie. Little things like s’mores by the fire at night and the DJ at the pool on Saturday made our long-weekend stay so much fun. We booked our room through Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection so our room was automatically upgraded and we had free breakfast every morning which was amazing. I loved the food at the hotel, thought the wine list was ok and the cocktails were great.

The Waldorf is four miles from Main St. so if you’re looking to be right on Main St., the Marriott Summit Watch is a fabulous choice and affordable. If you’re interested in staying in Deer Valley, the Montage, St. Regis and Stein Eriksen are my top choices.

If you’re a foodie like me, then you will love Park City! I have to start with 501, it was by far our favorite restaurant of the trip and a total surprise. We actually went in because we wanted to have lunch on their balcony. The restaurant is situated right on Main St. and has wonderful views. We LOVED the food and they had an excellent wine list. I had the Ahi Tuna appetizer two days in a row and would have done it for a third if I could. The service was excellent and we couldn’t have asked for better lunches.

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Riverhorse and I would say this is a must-try if you’re in town. I made our reservation about a month in advance and the restaurant was full so definitely make a reservation for this one if you can. The service was also impeccable here and the food and wine list were top-notch.

If you’re staying in the Canyons like we did, Powder, the restaurant at the Waldorf, Versante and Cortona are excellent choices and are close by. If you’re looking to stay on Main St., Riverhorse, 501, Yuki Yama, and Tupelo will be perfect for you.

As far as breakfast spots and coffee shops go, I love the Java Cow Bakery. When I was growing up, we would always go here for ice cream (usually after dinner at the Pizza Noodle) and I just lived for it!! But they now have wonderful coffee and breakfast options so I highly recommend checking it out. Riverhorse Provisions, is also a great option for breakfast.

One of my family’s favorite places to go for a celebratory brunch when I was little was the Stein Eriksen so of course we had to go this past weekend. But things have changed. Because of COVID-19, they no longer do brunch as a buffet, but rather family-style and it was not good. The service was great here and the views can’t be beat, but the food did not do it for me. I would suggest going for lunch, dinner or maybe a drink to see Deer Valley, but I would pass on brunch for sure.

The activities in Park City are literally endless! On our long-weekend, we barely had time to scratch the surface. Of course, checking out Main Street should be on your list. Historic Main Street is filled with art galleries and unique shops where you are sure to find something you’ll want to take home with you. We stumbled upon Baranof Jewelers and I found a few gems I will definitely be returning for.

If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home to your loved ones, Park City Mercantile has fabulous leather coasters, cutting boards and more. I also love the Deer Valley Signature Store on Main Street for Deer Valley Merchandise like t-shirts, hats and odds and ends. If merchandise isn’t quite the way you want to remember your time in the mountains, an iconic piece from the McMillen Fine Art Gallery might be more up your alley. Jared and Tish McMillen have captured some of the most stunning scenes from the Rocky Mountains and any of their pieces would be the perfect addition to your home.

Growing up, we would always bike around McPolin Farm. Not only is there a great trail, but because of the iconic white barn with an American Flag, its makes a wonderful spot for family photos and is a landmark in Park City that is not to be missed. Don’t be fooled by the fence around it, McPolin Farm is owned by the people of Park City and is completely open to the public.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Park City as much as I did! What are your favorite things to do in Park City? Leave me a comment and let me know what I need to add to my list!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Philipsburg, Montana

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Philipsburg, Montana

As the dog days of summer creep on, there is no better time to squeeze in a trip to the mountains. I recently visited my family in Montana and am so excited to share one of my favorite places with you–Philipsburg, Montana.

This once sleepy shuttered mining town has had a bit of a renaissance in the past 20 years. With a charming Main Street, unique shopping and tons of recreational activities nearby, I do believe this will be the next Telluride or Park City.

Because both of my parents are from Southwestern Montana, I have been visiting Philipsburg since I was a baby. Some of my favorite memories from when I was younger, are the days when my grandma would take me to the Sweet Palace to buy me as much fudge and candy as I wanted, look at gems in the Sapphire Gallery and finish the day off with root beer floats at Doe Brothers.

Another one of my must-dos when I’m in town is to see a performance at the Philipsburg Theatre. I don’t believe any performances are being held this summer, but this theatre is truly a treasure. It has been perfectly preserved and offers wonderful entertainment. The town has changed a lot since I was younger, but in all of the best ways.

Located just an hour from Missoula and two-and-a-half hours from Bozeman, it is easy to get in and out of Philipsburg from anywhere in the country. I think it is an ideal vacation destination because there is just so much to do. Within 10-15 minutes, you can be at Georgetown Lake or Discovery Ski resort in the winter months. In recent years, celebrities, artists and business owners have brought a creative flair to the town that has added to Philipsburg’s charm.

The food in Philipsburg is mostly traditional and gives you all of the comfort feels. When I’m in town, I love having lunch at Doe Brothers–a traditional soda fountain restaurant or Boheme, which is an adorable bohemian coffee shop. The Silver Mill is a fabulous choice for dinner, but they are unfortunately closed due to coronavirus.

I’ve also heard really good things about the Philipsburg Brewing Company from my family, but haven’t gone myself because I’m not a beer drinker.

Unlike mountain towns in Colorado and Utah, Philipsburg hasn’t fully tapped into the luxury market, yet. The one exception to this is the Ranch at Rock Creek, which has been consistently voted as one of the world’s top resorts and is just a 10 minute drive from town. At the ranch, you will find true mountain luxury and have access to farm-to-table dining, wine pairings, horseback riding, fly fishing and so much more. But it will cost you a pretty penny. If you’re not interested in breaking the bank, there are plenty of incredibly affordable hotels in the area.

If you’d like to stay in Philipsburg proper, the Broadway Hotel, Kaiser House and Quigley Cottage will be great options for you. The Forest Edge Inn and Seven Gables–a motel, are about 20 minutes away from Philipsburg, right on Georgetown Lake. Until last week I would have hands down recommended at least stopping here for fried chicken, as it has been one of my favorite things to do for the last 15 years, but I had a really unfortunate visit last week. Seven Gables is under new ownership and we had a terrible experience with the staff. The food has never been out of this world, but it was always fun. I can’t say the same anymore so for the time being, Seven Gables will be off of my list.

If you’re ok with a roughly 45 minute drive, Fairmont Hot Springs resort is a wonderful family-friendly hotel option. It is affordable, clean and has tons of activities for kids.

If you’re ever thinking of visiting Montana, I hope you give this charming little town a try! Leave me a comment and let me know where your favorite mountain destination is!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Palm Beach, Florida

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Palm Beach, Florida

As summer winds down, Americans continue traveling around the country. This week for Brit’s Summer Travel Series, we are heading to one of my favorite places, the island of Palm Beach! Since I couldn’t go this summer, my friend, Hillary is helping me out on the blog this week. She has been quarantining in the ultra-luxe locale since March and has not only shared some of her favorite things to do in the area, but she has also given a lot of updates about what the area is like now during the Coronavirus pandemic.

When I think of Palm Beach, the first things that comes to mind are luxury, pink and palm leaves…a few of my absolute favorite things! But there is so much this little slice of paradise has to offer. Concentrated within 7.8 miles, Palm Beach boasts fabulous shopping, top restaurants and incredible hotels.

You will not be hard-pressed to find an amazing meal in Palm Beach. Some of the best restaurants from New York City are in Palm Beach as well as institutions like the Palm Beach Grill and Benny’s on the Beach. If you’re a seafood lover, there is nothing better than enjoying a cocktail at the Seafood Bar at the Breakers with fish swimming under your glass.

Just as a rule of thumb when traveling or day-to-day life, if there is a Hillstone restaurant in your area, go there. Whether I am in Palm Beach, Montecito or Dallas, I always go to the Honor Bar (and order the Emerald Kale with Rotisserie Chicken Salad, French fries and a glass of white wine), which is one of the many restaurants owned by the Hillstone Group. The food is always amazing, the wine lists are perfection and the service is great.

The activities to do in Palm Beach are endless. A local favorite is bike riding on Lake Trail and hanging out on the beach of course. As most of you know, I am a shopper so Worth Avenue and the Royal Poinciana. The flagship Lilly Pulitzer store is right on Worth Ave. and you can see how the designs for fabrics are made and shop some of the best Lilly styles around! At the Royal Poinciana, you can find things like LoveShackFancy, Alice and Olivia, Hermes, Stoney Clover Lane, Zimmerman and so much more…it is like my dream shopping destination!!

The hotels in Palm Beach are amazing, but pricey. If you are looking to spend a little extra, splurge for the Breakers, the Colony or the Four Seasons. If you’re trying to save a bit, the Chesterfield and the Ben West Palm Beach will be great options for you.

No matter where you stay or play, you will love Palm Beach! Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite spots in Palm Beach are!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Fredericksburg, Texas

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Fredericksburg, Texas

Howdy, friends! This week we are traveling to the idyllic Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg is an ideal destination for Texans, as it is nestled in between Austin and San Antonio and a quick drive from Dallas and Houston as well.

My husband and I stumbled upon this dreamy town because we were supposed to go to Napa at the end of the month, but had to cancel due to increased coronavirus fears and restrictions and we thought this would be a safe substitute. Originally established as a German settlement in the 1800s, Fredericksburg has now become a chic destination for wine lovers.

We didn’t know much about Fredericksburg before going, but we were pleasantly surprised with what we found. The town has maintained its German heritage and small town charm, while offering modern amenities from around the world.

Although we were drawn to the town because of the vineyards, I think the shopping I found once we were there was the highlight of the trip for me. We found two shops in particular–Farmhaus and Vaudeville–that literally got me excited to shop. I love shopping, don’t get me wrong, but I’m very picky with what I buy. I hate buying things just to buy something and get so annoyed with tacky tourist shops. These stores, blew me away. It was as if I was shopping in L.A. or somewhere in Europe. The level of curation in these stores as well as the accessible price points were absolutely incredible.

Unfortunately, when we were in town, we ate at one of the “traditional” German restaurants and were not impressed with the food. When we go back to Fredericksburg, we really want to check out the V Supper Club–part of the Vaudeville Umbrella. With reservations, the club is open on Friday, Saturday and Monday nights offering chef’s tastings and specialized menus. If you can’t make it to the supper club, you can always go to the Vaudeville Bistro. We wish we would have gone there for lunch, but instead grabbed a glass of sparkling rosé when we found it. The bistro has an amazing wine list and a really fun vibe.

We chose to visit Signor Vineyards when we were in Fredericksburg and I’m so happy we did. It is set on a classic Hill Country estate and offers delicious wines and an incredible experience. They did tell us its a bit different than usual to visit right now because of coronavirus…they are not offering traditional tastings, but you can buy bottles of wine and have them on the property. We bought two bottles–the rosé and the Sangiovese (a light red.) One thing I thought was really interesting is that all of the wines from Signor are made in Oregon and then sold at the vineyard in Fredericksburg. I was pleasantly surprised when I found this out because I’m a little bit of a wine snob and was kind of dreading drinking Texas wine, but what we found is that most of the wine served and sold in the area is from Oregon, California and Europe.

Many of the guests at Signor brought their own food and wine glasses and had a picnic, which looked so fun, but the vineyard also has a little grocery store where you can get food and water as well as beautiful gifts.

For this quick weekend trip I know we barely scratched the surface on what the town has to offer, but I know we will be back to discover more! I’m not going to say Fredericksburg is on the same level as Napa, but I will say it is a fun destination for a weekend getaway in Texas.

Have you been to Fredericksburg before?! Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite things are in town!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Carmel-by-the-sea, California

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Carmel-by-the-sea, California

Coronavirus fears continue to keep American travelers stateside this summer rather than traveling abroad. Luckily, within the United States there are plenty of destinations that will make you think you’re in another country and you don’t have to use a passport to get there. One of my personal favorites is Carmel, California.

Known for its dramatic rocky coastline and world-class golf, vacationing in Carmel can make you feel like you have been transported to a village in the Irish or English countryside rather than the central California coast. From fairytale cottages to French bakeries, this town oozes charm and offers the perfect vacation for people of all ages and interests.

My dad and husband are big golfers so anytime I am in Carmel, I’m usually tagging along on one of their golf trips. I love tagging along because on the days I do choose to golf, I get to take in some of the most amazing views in the entire world and many of the courses in the area are walking only, so I get a great workout in as well.

Golfing at Cypress Point Club with my husband.

My husband’s favorite golf course in the area and the one that he dreams about on a regular basis is the Cypress Point Club. This golf course is private and very old school which is really cool to see. Carts are not allowed and you are accompanied by a caddy when you play. Most of the caddies at the club have been there for more than 30 years and they know every turn of the course like the back of their hands so it is really fun to play with them. Aside from the outstanding golf, the views on this course are INSANE. The iconic cypress trees that the course is known for line the greens and you can hear the Pacific Ocean breaking on the rocks just feet from you. You might even meet a seal or two when you play.

One of the many stunning views at Cypress Point.

Other outstanding golf courses in the area are of course, Pebble Beach, Pasatiempo, Spanish Bay and Spyglass. My husband is an engineer so he is really drawn to the design of these courses and has told me so much about them. One of his icons, Alister Mackenzie, designed Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. These courses are as beautiful as they are challenging, but they make for a wonderful experience. One of my favorite things to do is meet my husband at the Tap Room at Pebble Beach for lunch after he’s done playing golf for the day. There’s something just so fabulous about having a glass of wine and a juicy cheeseburger in the classic mahogany bar.

If you’re planning to stay in Carmel, I like to start my days walking along the beach and then popping up to Ocean Avenue for a bite to eat and some shopping. Keep in mind that it is never really warm in this part of California so even though it is a beautiful, sandy beach, you likely won’t be swimming. I usually bring lots of layers when I’m in Carmel because the mornings and evenings are cool and the afternoons are warm. I also love seeing the “Fairy Tale Cottages.” Hugh Comstock designed a series of Fairy Tale cottages in town that are so idealic, they make you think you are at Disneyland. They have walking tours available and this is something you don’t want to miss!

One of the enchanting Fairy Tale Cottages in Carmel.

If you’re interested in getting out of Carmel for the day, taking the stunning 17-mile drive to Monterey, should be a top priority. This windy road will take you to one of the world’s most fabulous aquariums. The aquarium is located on Cannery Row…I don’t know about you, but I had to read the book Cannery Row in middle school and all I can say is that A LOT has changed on Cannery Row since that book was written, but it is really fun to explore and great for kids.

The dining options in Carmel are fabulous and will make you feel like you are definitely not in the U.S. My family and I love La Bicyclette and no trip to Carmel is complete without stopping there. This French bistro has wonderful food, service and a wine selection in an incredible environment. Lafayette Bakery is also a must stop for my francophiles out there.

For an elevated dining experience, you can’t go wrong with a chef’s tasting and wine pairing at Aubergine. Roux, L’Escargot and Il Tegamino are also incredible.

If you’re looking for more classic food, the Tap Room at Pebble Beach and Brophy’s Tavern are my go-to’s.

L’Auberge Carmel, Post Ranch Inn, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Mission Ranch Inn, Bernardus Lodge, Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Carmel is not a big town so there are not a ton of places to stay. I highly recommend booking a house to stay in if you are in a group, but if you prefer hotels there are some wonderful little gems in the area. I did include the Post Ranch Inn on my list because it is so amazing. It is about an hour away, but it is one of the best hotels in the world and I dream of staying there one day.

For my hotel selections IN the area, I love L’Auberge Carmel. You can’t beat the location and it is a romantic, charming and luxurious spot. The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay are obvious choices for the golfers out there. Bernardus Lodge and the Hyatt Carmel Highlands are luxurious and modern, but not in town. The Mission Ranch in is a great option for those not trying to break the bank on a hotel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Carmel-by-the-sea with me! Leave me a comment and let me know where you’re traveling or dreaming of traveling to this summer!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Aspen, Colorado

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Aspen, Colorado

Looking for a cool summer escape to beat the heat? This week we are heading to the beautiful mountain town of Aspen! Aspen is one of my absolute favorite places to go anytime of year, but it is so wonderful in the summer.

While Aspen is traditionally known for its famous slopes, the summer months are my favorite. Whether you’re looking for an active vacation or one geared toward relaxation, Aspen has everything for you.

Having fun at the Snowmass Food and Wine Festival

Getting to Aspen is fairly easy. There is an airport in town with flights from a number of cities. If the Aspen airport doesn’t work for you, the Denver International Airport is just a quick three-hour drive away. Once you get into town, you’ll definitely need to start with a good meal. I love going to Ajax Tavern for my first stop. There is nothing better than having mussels, truffle fries and a bottle of white wine at the base of Aspen mountain to start your trip off on the right foot.

The coolest thing about Aspen to me is that it is a relatively small mountain town and it has all of the good parts of major cities–the best restaurants, the best shopping, the best hotels and spas…the list goes on. In addition to glamorous creature comforts, Aspen also has extensive mountain activities to occupy guests. One of my favorite things to do when I’m in town is to take a bike ride from town out to Woody Creek Tavern for lunch. It’s about seven miles from town to Woody Creek Tavern, which is kind of an eclectic spot with a Mexican/American menu. It is super laid back and loved by locals.

The activities in Aspen are endless and whether you are single, in a couple, a family or traveling with your girlfriends, you will not have a though time finding things to do. Hiking is an obvious choice in the summer and the Maroon Bells trail is arguably the most iconic hike people take in Aspen. River rafting in the summer is also really fun if you’re looking for a rush. As I mentioned before, the shopping in Aspen is AMAZING. From the shops downtown to the Aspen Saturday Market, there is so much fun stuff to buy. To fit in with the Western-chic vibe, many visitors stop at Kemo Sabe upon arrival to get a specially fitted hat for their Aspen adventures. I’m not a big night club person, but the night clubs in Aspen are TOO fun to pass up. Whether you’re at Escobar, Bootsy Bellows or Belly Up, you are sure to have the best time and you might even dance with a celeb!

Of course on your trip to Aspen you will need an amazing place to stay! Renting a house is always a wonderful option, but if you’re looking for a hotel, there are SO many incredible hotels to choose from. If you’re looking to stay in the heart of downtown Aspen, The St. Regis, The Hotel Jerome, The Little Nell and the W Aspen are the best, in my opinion. These hotels are regularly ranked among the top in the world and for good reason. They are luxurious, unique and offer incredible experiences. If you’re more interested in being in Snowmass (six miles from downtown Aspen) The Viceroy and the Limelight are also fabulous properties.

Are you visiting Aspen this summer? Leave me a comment and let me know where your favorite summer vacation spots are!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Austin, Texas

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Austin, Texas

For the third stop on Brit’s Summer Travel Series, we are heading to the Lone Star state! Until a few months ago, I was just a visitor to Austin, not a resident. Through my visits to Austin over the years and after living here for a while, I have learned a few things about the capital of Texas and am sharing them with you for your next visit!

I’ve always thought Austin is where Texas meets L.A., and it’s crazy to think that nestled in the rolling hills of Texas, there is a burgeoning tech hub with chic restaurants and more outdoor activities than you can imagine. The first thing to figure out for your trip is where to stay and Austin hotels do not disappoint.

The coolest hotel in my opinion is the Hotel Saint Cecilia. This boutique hotel is in the heart of the city, just off of South Congress and a quick jump across Lady Bird Lake from downtown. If you’re interested in proximity to town, the South Congress Hotel and W Austin are both great options.

The Commodore Perry Estate is brand new and I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but it looks incredible! Auberge Resorts brought the nearly one hundred-year-old Commodore Perry mansion back to life and the storied estate looks better than ever.

Austin’s restaurants are as delicious as they are well designed. My absolute favorite restaurant has to be Clark’s Oyster Bar. It is my vibe to a tee and the food is SO good! If you are a seafood lover like me, then this is the place for you. My husband and I love going for dinner together and it’s also a wonderful brunch spot with your girlfriends! I’m not sure if there is anything better than a dozen oysters with Clark’s famous French fries and a glass of one of their many fabulous wines. Their sister-restaurant, Perla’s, is also fabulous and is a larger space if you’re looking for a group outing.

If you’re interested in Mexican food or TexMex, ATX Cocina and Matt’s el Rancho are my favorites. Matt’s el Rancho is more traditional and great for larger groups and families… you can’t leave without getting the Bob Armstrong Dip! ATX Cocina is a gorgeous restaurant in downtown and they serve modern Mexican food and delicious margaritas.

For sushi, we prefer Soto on South Lamar, we love going for happy hour and getting the Chef’s Choice–it’s five pieces of some of the most amazing and innovative sushi I’ve ever had! We also can’t get enough of Sway…I think about their Blue Crab Fried Rice all of the time and the design of all of their restaurants is just so cool.

For lighter fare with subtle French vibes, I highly recommend Launderette and June’s All Day. The food is incredible and again, the vibe will not disappoint. If you’re looking for the most romantic spot in Austin, I suggest Mattie’s. The food is described as southern and it is delicious. But the setting in out of this world. The restaurant is in an old mansion and the grounds have the most beautiful oak trees that have…Peacocks in them! It is so wonderful and perfect for a date night or special occasion.

Austin is known for its taco scene and for good reason. We are still working on this list, but trying out taco trucks and restaurants in Austin has been one of my favorite things to do with my husband since we’ve moved here. If you’re not interested in driving around to look for a taco-focused restaurant, but still want a taco, you’re in luck. I’ve noticed all of the coffee shops here also sell breakfast tacos, which is something I am more than okay with!

The activities in Austin are endless and if you love the outdoors, you will be in heaven here! Unlike many other parts of Texas, Austin is jam-packed with lakes, rivers, hiking trails and plenty of bike lanes!

Whether you’re a Texan looking for a weekend getaway or from out-of-state, Austin will be the perfect destination for you! Come back next week to see Brit’s next stop on the Summer Travel Series!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Santa Barbara

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Santa Barbara

This week we are heading to the west coast for Brit’s Summer Travel Series! Known as the American Riviera for its nearly perfect climate and resemblance to the famed French Riviera, Santa Barbara is the ultimate summer vacation destination.

The Marina at Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has a special place in my heart not only because I got married there, but also because I’ve been going for so many years, it feels like a second home to me. My father-in-law used to live in Santa Barbara so I was lucky enough to have a locals guide to this iconic coastal California town. But Santa Barbara is not your typical California beach town filled with surfer dudes and laid-back attitudes, it is incredibly chic and oozing with European charm. Situated between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this quiet town is just 80 miles north of Los Angeles, and is packed with museums, vineyards, restaurants and some of the top-rated hotels in the world.

In addition to learning about the area from my father-in-law, I also spent two years planning my wedding in Santa Barbara. During that time, I researched and toured venues, resorts, restaurants and attractions extensively to determine where our dream wedding would take place. Because of this, I have compiled a tried-and-true list of where to stay, play, eat and drink along the American Riviera.

The hotels in Santa Barbara are some of the best in the world. I’m slightly biased, but my personal favorite is the Four Seasons. It is set on the most beautiful property over looking the Pacific Ocean and the gardens are truly stunning. As a guest of the hotel, you have access to the Coral Casino, which is a private social club across the street that has the most adorable pool and beach club. The level of service at the Four Seasons is unlike anything I have ever experienced at a hotel. Whether you’re hanging out at the Jungle Pool or the Coral Casino, lush chair coverings and towels are laid out for each guest and attendants bring around fun snacks like frozen grapes and peppermint patties throughout the day. The Spa and accommodations at the hotel are amazing and worth every penny of the hefty price tag.

If you’re interested in other high-end hotels in the area, the San Ysidro Ranch is an incredible choice (JFK and Jackie Kennedy Onassis honeymooned there) and offers a unique luxurious garden experience for their guests. I also love the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara although it is located quite a ways from the town of Santa Barbara. My dad and I stayed at the Bacara the week before my wedding and we had the best time. The resort is stunning and there is SO much to do–hiking, biking, golf, restaurants, several pools and an amazing spa.

While in Santa Barbara, there is no shortage of activities to do for people of all ages. My favorite place to go when I’m in town is Ganna Walska’s Lotusland. The story behind this stunning property is so fascinating and the grounds have been maintained to perfection since Ms. Walska’s death in 1984. Reservations are required for a visit so make sure to do that well in advance. With Lotusland’s proximity to San Ysidro Ranch, I would suggest a 10 a.m. reservation at Lotusland and brunch at the ranch after.

During the summer months and when COVID isn’t an issue, taking in a polo match is always a great experience or a hike to Cold Springs Tavern will make for a great day. If you prefer to stay in Santa Barbara proper, there are a number of wonderful wine tasting rooms, shopping and restaurants to enjoy. Two of my favorite tasting rooms in the downtown area are Au Bon Climat and Happy Canyon and The Funk Zone is a must-do for wine-lovers.

When you’re in Santa Barbara, Brophy Bros. is a must. I know, I know. It’s on the marina and looks like a tourist trap, but I promise you it is not. Locals love it and they have delicious oysters and clam chowder with one of the best views in the city. There are several fabulous Italian restaurants in the area as well. Our favorites are Ca’Dario and Olio e Limone and Lucky Penny for pizza.

If you’re looking for a casual vibe, Hillstone’s Honor Bar in Montecito is always a favorite as well as the Paradise Cafe and the Public Market in Santa Barbara…the Hangover Noodles at the Empty Bowl cannot be missed. If you’re looking for something fancier, the Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch and Lucky’s Steakhouse in Montecito are fabulous options.

For breakfast and brunch, Jeannine’s in Montecito is divine and McConnell’s Ice Cream is always a great way to end the night.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Santa Barbara with me and I hope we can all visit this beautiful city in person again soon. No matter where you go in Santa Barbara, you will not be disappointed. Come back next Tuesday to see where we will be traveling to next for Brit’s Summer Travel Series!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Watercolor, Florida

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Watercolor, Florida

Travel has not been cancelled this summer in spite of rising coronavirus cases around the world. A record number of Americans are hitting the road this summer, favoring road trips to air travel and domestic locales to foreign destinations.

Growing up, my dad loved taking me and my sister on road trips around the U.S….from San Diego to Seattle, or Manhattan, Kansas to Montana and so many more stops over the years. This summer, I’ll be sharing my favorite U.S. summer destinations with you as part of my Summer Travel Series.

To kick things off, we’re going to Watercolor, Florida! Watercolor is a picture-perfect town nestled in between Destin and Panama City Beach along the scenic 30-A Highway. I’ve been going to Watercolor since 2010, but my husband and his family have gone since the 90s, around the time the town was developed. His mom has the most beautiful beach house there so we try to go a couple of times a year and it is just magical.

This beautiful beach town is a quick four-hour drive from New Orleans, Louisiana, a six-hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia and nine hours from Houston, Texas. There are also two airports nearby–Northwest Beaches Airport in Panama City and Pensacola International Airport that bring in flights from around the country.

Beach set-ups at Watercolor

Watercolor is a private resort community and it has its own beach, beach club, pools, tennis courts and miniature water park. The town has a hotel and homes that can be rented or owned. By staying at the hotel or one of these homes, you then have access to all of the town’s amenities.

Biking around Watercolor

Watercolor and the surrounding communities are connected by biking trails so you don’t have to drive once you get there if you don’t want to. Ubers are VERY limited in the area so I would recommend arranging rides to and from the airport and any dinners that are far away in advance because it is really hard to get a ride last-minute.

The restaurants in the area are some of my all-time favorites. Our family favorite and closest restaurant to our house is Cafe Thirty-A. It’s a very traditional restaurant and they have great fish, an incredible wine list and it is family-friendly. Next on our list is Basmati’s…I think they have the best cocktails and the food is so good! Borago is also a wonderful option if you are in the mood for Italian.

For lunch, I have to go to Shrimp Shack at least once every trip. They have the best lobster rolls–huge pieces of fresh lobster served on a simple bun with no sauce, but a side of melted butter…the best. And sometimes I get their gumbo too. The actual restaurant is really small, but they have patio-style seating that looks over the water and it makes for a great afternoon. My other lunch favorite is George’s at Alys Beach, but I have been told by most people I bring there that they don’t like it. I however, love it. The building looks like it has been dropped out of the Hamptons and delivered straight to 30A. The food is wonderful and the service is great.

We also try to go to the Big Bad Breakfast (BBB) at Inlet Beach on our trips–either right when we get in or before we fly out. BBB is originally from Oxford, Mississippi, the same town where my husband and I went to college at Ole Miss so we love going to the new BBB at Inlet Beach for a little bit of nostalgia and the food is amazing.

Reservations are always essential at these restaurants for dinner, but even more so now because of coronavirus restrictions. I will say our most recent trip was quite different than those in the past. The town was still busy, but the Watercolor Inn seemed really understaffed and over-occupied leading to crowding and nearly hour long wait times to even order a drink. If you’re at the beach club, I would just suggest packing a cooler and bringing your own drinks to the beach.

Other than the beach and beach club, there is also Camp Watercolor and the lake for guests to enjoy (in addition to smaller community pools and parks.) Camp Watercolor was just re-done and has a really fun lazy river, a slide and a pool for children of all ages.

Ready for a fun day at Camp Watercolor!

If you’re more interested in checking out the lake, they offer kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing in a beautiful setting. But whatever you’re interested in doing during your vacation, Watercolor will almost certainly have you covered.

I hope you enjoyed this trip to Watercolor with me! Come back next week to see our next stop on Brit’s Summer Travel Series!

XO,

Brit

Travel during COVID-19

Travel during COVID-19

As an avid traveler, the past few months have been incredibly strange for me. In my pre-COVID life, my husband and I would fly somewhere at least twice a month, but until last week, we hadn’t stepped foot in an airport since March.

To be honest with you, I was a bit trepidatious about going to the airport and actually flying. I had so many questions and had heard horror stories about not being able to use the bathroom or not having access to get water or food. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I called the Austin-Bergstrom Airport a couple of times to see what it was like in the airport. They assured me that places like Starbucks and Jo’s Coffee were open and all of the bathrooms were open.

I had also heard stories about crazy-long lines to check bags and get through security, but in our experience, it took less than 10 minutes to check two bags and we got through security in under 15 minutes.

The line for security at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on June 7, 2020.

We flew from Austin, Texas to Panama City Beach, Florida for our first post-COVID vacation. There were no direct flights available so on the way to Florida we had a layover in Nashville, Tennessee and on our way home we had a layover in Houston, Texas. Our layover in Nashville was about 10 minutes so I can’t really speak to what that airport was like, but I would rate Austin’s airport as the cleanest and most efficient.

William P. Hobby Airport on June 14, 2020.

For our trip, we flew on Southwest Airlines and I have to give them such a major shoutout. Everyone from the people behind the counter checking bags to the people boarding you for the flight were so helpful. I think they are incredibly sensitive to the fact that people are nervous about flying again and they worked hard to make everyone comfortable and safe.

If you’re familiar with Southwest Airlines, you will know their boarding process is quite different than other airlines. You check in 24 hours before your flight and are assigned either an “A,” “B,” or “C” with a number between 1-50 behind the letter. That is still the same, but instead of calling passengers in groups of 30, the boarding agents now call passengers in groups of 10. I actually loved this aspect. It was much more civilized and I think it kept the bottle-neck of passengers way down. Until September 30th, Southwest says they are only booking flights at 60 percent capacity leaving the *dreaded* middle seats empty unless you are a family or group traveling together and want to sit in the same row. I loved this and on all four of our flights, there were empty seats and a lot of space between passengers.

None of our flights were completely full. The only people who sat in middle seats chose to sit in them or were traveling with their families.

I do think Southwest could improve the cleanliness of the planes. Our flight to Florida was around 6 a.m., so I believe the plane had been cleaned the night before and you could tell. Our seats were clean and the plane seemed fresh. Our flights home were a very different story. Our flight from Panama City to Houston had a quick turn-around time and there were still crumbs on my set when I boarded the plane. Same story on our flight from Houston to Austin. Luckily, I bring my own wipes and wiped down our seats, armrests, seatbelts and tray-tables, but I do think the airlines should be doing more to keep their planes clean. They were very focused on picking up trash and requested passengers hand them wipes people usually stuff behind the seats several times during the flight, but picking up trash alone does not equal cleanliness.

Passengers are required to wear masks while boarding the plane and during the entire flight unless they are eating or drinking, but while you are in the airport, you are not required to wear a mask. During our longer flights, Austin to Nashville and Panama City to Houston, we were offered a can of water and a snack, but I always bring my own water and snacks so I didn’t take any. On the shorter flights, Nashville to Panama City and Houston to Austin, beverage and snack services were not offered. We were able to use the bathrooms on all flights, but you are not allowed to form lines.

COVID or not, I always try to pack my own snacks. For our flight to Florida, I made Kodiak pancakes, and packed grapes and celery. I don’t usually like fast food and try to avoid buying salty snacks in the airport.

Overall, I really appreciate the changes airports and airlines have implemented and I think they actually make the process of flying less hectic. I do think sanitization efforts should be taken up a notch by sanitizing the buckets used for security, requiring passengers wear socks through security and that airplanes are cleaned AND sanitized thoroughly after each flight.

Up, Up and Away! Leaving Austin for the first time in three months to go to the beach!

Have you traveled during coronavirus recently or do you plan to soon? Leave me a comment and let me know your experience.

XO,

Brit