Escaping to Miami, Florida in the Winter.

Miami in December is like a bite out of summer. It’s sunny and warm when it’s freezing cold almost anywhere in the world (an exception to Southern California and Baja California too). Besides the weather, Miami has more to see than just another place for tanning. Here are a few places that I thought was worth the visit.

The Everglades National Park
Price: $29.00
Visiting one of America’s largest subtropical wilderness was definitely on my list. The beauty of the natural landscapes I saw and the unforgettable experience of seeing wild alligators in their natural habitat was an awesome experience. We took an airboat ride that lasted 40 min. followed by a short show explaining about alligators in the park. The park alone offers other activities you may be interested in such as hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, camping, boating and much more. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try their alligator bites. It tasted like chicken but, something about it felt wrong. One thing to note is to bring cash for tips if you decide to do the airboat ride. I did not see any atm machines around.

Miami Design District
Price: varies
This is a neighborhood with high end shopping area, design, architecture and dining experiences. It reminded me of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA. where you can find luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Céline or Dior. Currently, Louis Vuitton is holding an installation there for Men’s Spring-Summer Collections and we thought the fitting rooms turned to storage containers was pretty darn cool. There are a ton of restaurants in the area and even though we didn’t get to go to Dior Pop Up Café, I think it would be good to try at least once. Yes, this is a busy area so, make sure to plan ahead to find parking.

Viscaya Museum & Gardens
Price: $18.00 (weekdays & weekend rates vary)
A former villa and estate of a businessman James Deering which includes Italian Renaissance Gardens, more than 70 rooms of architectural interiors with antiques, decorative art and furnishings. It felt like I was in Europe for a hot min. The garden area was my favorite part which, you can literally spend an entire afternoon here walking aimlessly.

Wynwood Murals
Price: FREE (as of 2021, there’s a new entrance fee of $10/person)
This outdoor spot features colorful murals by artists from all over the world. I love art, and I think anyone who visits this place must see it in Miami. Walking through the area will lead you to discover more murals that are inspiring with details that moved me. The Wynwood neighborhood, in general, has lots of bars, restaurants, interesting art concepts, street arts that you can easily get lost in while wondering around. We found a juice spot there called OOH Raw! and ended up coming back again for their smoothies.

Key Biscayne: No Name Harbor
One of my memorable experience on this trip was driving out on a whim to catch the sunset in Key Biscayne and ended up on a harbor called No Name Harbor. I don’t know much about this area except it hit all of my checklist. There weren’t a lot of people at this time, we had a great view and it felt remote. While walking around, we saw a few sailboats passed by or docked. There’s also a restaurant onsite which, we bypassed and ended up staying in a corner of a dock until the sun went down.

5 Things I Learned from Visiting Texas for The First Time

Our trip to Texas was suppose to happen two months ago but, due to circumstances we ended up changing plans and went to Colorado instead (which turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve been on). We decided that going to Texas was either to go now or it will never happen so, here we go!

Upon arriving in Texas, a few things that I noticed right away were the following:

  1. Gas Prices: Holy moly! I was shocked to see how cheap the gas prices were in Texas. I had to ask my bf out loud if I was seeing things correctly. I mean, I’ve never seen it in the $1 range…ever! I guess it makes sense as the major big oil companies are located in Texas providing major competition. Coming from California, $1 range is darn affordable to say the least.
  2. Humidity: This was another surprising fact about Texas. The minute we landed it looked cloudy outside and base on the weather app it was going to be cool. I wasn’t worried of being cold since I had my raincoat on and wore multiple layers. As soon as we stepped foot outside the doors the humidity hit me like stepping on gum. I started peeling off layers one at a time and wore light shirts for the few days it was humid.
  3. Traffic: not a huge surprise but, I found it interesting how very similar the traffic jams and drivers were in Texas in compare to California (specifically Southern California). The few times we drove on the freeway we always ended up hitting traffic (and I mean back to back traffic). I thought I was in L.A. for a hot sec.
  4. Friendly: I’ve never met one person in Texas that wasn’t the least friendly. Every single person we encountered were genuinely nice and ultra helpful.
  5. Food: This was the only trip that I can remember in U.S.A where almost every single food I’ve had was very good and quite memorable. Pharm to Table was my favorite one of them all. They have a nice outdoor dining ambiance and the food was very good! Highly recommended 🙂

Insights to Chicago's Largest Rooftop Bar & its Zoo Attraction. (Video)

Another sunny day in Chicago started making me feel spoiled. The weather during my trip regarding the brutal cold weather has proven it to be quite the opposite.

I already started my day with a delicious breakfast at the well known Wildberry Cafe. Set in the heart of the Millennium Park, I met a few friends there and caught up over pancakes and toasts. The food was good explaining why the line is always long right out the door. I didn’t end up finishing half of my food before I started feeling full so, definitely make sure to order what you can finish.

Note: Add yourself to the waitlist at least an hour prior to coming here as the wait to get a table usually takes about 45-60 minutes long. The earlier you come the better.

After breakfast, I made my way to the zoo via Lyft. The Lincoln Park Zoo was a 10 minute drive from the loop. It is one of the oldest zoo in the continent and home to various types of animals from giraffes, crocodiles, a polar bear, monkeys and much more. My favorite part of the zoo was the African Exploration exhibit (don’t quote me on the name). They created a forest theme like experience including an open room with birds free to fly around. It was both cool yet, scary (because I’m afraid of birds) at the same time. I spent about an hour and a half before deciding to move on with my journey.

After the zoo, the weather stayed sunny for the rest of the day. I decided to head over to the Navy Pier to check out the “largest rooftop bar” in Chicago.

I thought navigating to the Offshore Navy Pier felt long. It was located all the way at the end of the pier, through the hallway and 2-4 floors up. Once you’re there, the view is quite good. I was able to see the skyline of Chicago from the rooftop including the Michigan River.

The ambiance of the bar is casual with seating all around. People are able to go indoors and outdoors, enjoy playing pool or relax next to fire-pits situated along the sides of the deck. It reminded me a bit of Hive and Honey rooftop bar in Irvine but, way bigger.

A few steps from the Navy Pier is the Crystal Gardens, a small indoor greenhouse that is connected to a small shopping center. It was a great spot to pause and relax with trees and fountains around. I stayed here for a few minutes before heading out to eat.

To be continued…

Staying in at Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego.

It took me about 2 hours tops to wander around Seaport Village before I decided it was time to check in to my hotel at the Hotel Del Coronado.

I arrived around 4pm and the hotel property was full on busy. Entering the hotel required elbowing past tourists and the line to check in was long. Luckily, I was able to bypass all of that through a digital check in method. My room wasn’t worth discussing on here but, customer service provided a voucher for dinner to compensate for the issues and I made sure that I used it.

Dinner was at Serea restaurant conveniently within a few steps away from my hotel room overlooking the beach. Yes, it was quite a nice view with the sunset and all. I ordered mushrooms as my starter and the lamb chop plate with potatoes as my main dish. It was more than enough food for myself and it was ok. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with it. Although, the view won me over.

After dinner I walked around the hotel. I liked that the hotel has a history with famous celebrities who’ve stayed here and they’ve done a great job of restoring the building. The rest of the night I explored the hotel and went through the shops downstairs, passed the ice cream parlor at the end of the hallway and then came back up to walk around the hotel room hallways.

The creepiest story in this hotel that I heard is about this woman who killed herself. Her name was Kate Morgan and to this day, her room is the most requested guestroom in the hotel. Would you stay in a room knowing that someone died there?

The next day I strolled down the beach with a coffee in my hand. That was one upside to my hotel room was that the beach was just a few steps away from me. I took an hour or so to take a walk and then decided it was time to leave. I only stayed 1 night as this trip was a quick weekend getaway. I packed my bags and checked out.

To be continued…

Checking Off Must See Spots in San Diego.

Truth be told, I’ve been to downtown San Diego and in the Coronado area in the past but, I’ve never really seen all of what this city has to offer until now. On this trip, I had time in my hands to dig deep and find what I desired to see that I’ve never done before. Oddly, this was the first time I made a list which I ended up checking off and completely completing.

La Jolla

When I arrived in San Diego, my first stop was La Jolla. I read about this cave being there and I wanted to see it. It turns out this cave was dugged up by 2 Chinese laborers hired by a painter name Gustauf Schultz back in the early 1900s. It is a small cave in my opinion with several steps that’ll take you to an opening overlooking the ocean at the end of the stairs. Is it worth it? Yes. Would I go again? No. I thought it was cool but, this is one of those one time experiences.

Entrance Fee: The cost to enter is $5 for adults, $3 for 3-17 years old & FREE for infants 2 or younger. The earlier you go the better as it can get quite crowded.

Parking: I parked in the neighborhood area a few blocks up the road from The Cave Store for FREE. Otherwise there are a few metered parking spots along the coast.

After the cave exploration, I walked along the coastline. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were people already in the water kayaking, snorkeling, doing stand up paddles and lining up at the rocks watching sea lions sunbathing. I joined the crowd and took a couple of shots. I made my way towards the shops a few minutes later and found it quite similar to Beverly Hills with its upscale shops and restaurants. I didn’t bother going in to any of the stores as I had other places in mind that I wanted to see but, La Jolla was definitely worth visiting.

Liberty Public Market

Around lunch time my stomach started complaining. I left La Jolla to grab some food at the Liberty Public Market, a market with hip eateries, craft vendors and specialty foods.

When I arrived, I made a loop to check out the different types of food and decided on empanadas from Paraña. I ordered 3 kinds of empanadas; 1 with cheese, 1 with beef & 1 with chicken. The beef won which I was not surprised at all as it was slow cooked for 24 hours. I probably could’ve eaten 5 of those easily, however, I wanted to try these steam buns from another vendor. Those were also good but, not as good as the empanadas.

Outside the market are various galleries. I walked around the quad area for a few minutes then decided it was time to head towards the hotel.

Parking: they have a free parking lot area and it is busy.

Seaport Village

After 20 minutes of driving from the public market, I arrived at Seaport Village around mid afternoon and the place was packed. Parking was difficult and found a metered parking spot across the street near some condos. I walked over to the main area of the village and immediately understood why so many people flocked here.

Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping and dining area housed with galleries, shops and eateries. The view of the sea is the main draw of the crowd but, I think the best view is truly from the 40th floor at the Hyatt hotel. I didn’t eat here but, I did stay a few minutes for the view.

This area was compact with a few tables for eating and drinking. I can’t comment about the food and drinks because I didn’t stay long. However, it looked like a great place for happy hour. They also seem to get booked pretty quickly so, make sure to reserve (if possible) or come early right when they open the doors.

To be continued…

See my posts on Hotel Del Coronado, Visiting The Skyline & The Gaslamp District, viewing the best sunset at the Sunset Sea Cliffs and more.

MLK 3-Day Weekend. What Are You Up To?

How’s your first month of this year going so far? It seems for me it’s been on a roller coaster ride juggling between work and trying to fit in that travel life. I’m feeling like there never seem to be enough time which is why I’m looking forward to a much needed 3-Day weekend to hopefully, slow down and relax.

Tomorrow we start off with a bang by heading down to Anaheim for a work related event. There’ll be games, food, artists and much more. If you’re in town make sure to check it out.

Following the event mayhem, we’re also going away for the weekend and heading out somewhere away from the city where it’s a bit more remote. I’ll talk about it a bit more later but, if you want to find out earlier check out my instagram stories for live updates.

Have a great weekend!

A few hours in Downtown Paso Robles.

I arrived late afternoon in Paso Robles. The rain had stopped but, the weather stayed cool under 50F. I was freezing. Still, I went on like a trooper to inspect what the hype was all about.

Downtown was shaped in a circular motion lined with shops, restaurants, bars and a park situated in the middle of it all. Parking was fairly easy and free on a Sunday. I walked around looking for a good happy hour at a bar then, decided on dinner at Basil Thai Restaurant. It looked cozy from the view outside which drew me in. Surprisingly, the food was delicious.

I ordered the Thai platter plate that contained fried calamari, Thai rolls, crispy tofu, two golden bags and a sauce. As a side, I also ordered a plate of Pad Thai Noodle doubting that I may have ordered way too much food. It turned out I was hungry and ended up eating everything.

After much food coma realization, I paid for my dinner and headed out to walk a bit more around town. I was surprised to find that there were quite a bit of shops in the area beyond what you see from the center. I went in one of the stores that sold different types of olive oils and did a few tastings. That was another thing that I found out that was a popular activity in Paso Robles is olive oil tastings. They have a few of these stores around.

I walked a few more blocks when the rain started dropping. That was my cue to go home. Although, I didn’t end up doing any wine tastings on this trip, I can assure you that Paso Robles is the place to go. Coming in to town I came across a few wineries that were worth checking out but, due to time and weather I opted to come back another time.

The Best of 2019

This year travel wise was focused on visiting small towns in U.S.A. that I’ve never been to. It was an eye opener to see how many beautiful towns there are that I’ve yet to see in my own country. I learned that having a car will take you far. Renting a car when I visited Maryland was the best thing my mom and I could’ve done. We stayed for about 4 days and saw a new town or two every single day with a total of 6 different places not including the ones we went back to. It was my favorite trip of this year because it was something new that I’ve never done before and it was a leisure and family trip combined.

Read my East Coast trips here: Alexandria, Annapolis, Brookside Gardens, Frederick, Georgetown, and Gaithersburg.

The most unique trip I’ve done was definitely Walla Walla. It was a place that I wouldn’t normally visit (especially in the winter) but, an invitation from a friend convinced me otherwise.

My friend’s place was in the middle of the forest. I would look out the window and see snow covered trees lined from one to another. The total quietness scared me at first being a ‘city girl’ and all but, it warmed up on me after getting a good night’s rest.

Read my Walla Walla posts here and here.

The craziest adventure this year for me would have to be having a company private dinner event on top of the USS Midway Museum. It’s cray!

The coolest first time travel experience for me was flying business class. I admit I’m a rookie at this but, felt like a princess so who cares 😉

The cutest thing I’ve done on a trip was feeding these ostriches. They act aggressive though, they are adorable to look at. Wouldn’t you say?

The most random adventure I did this year was rooftop hopping in L.A. My friends and I probably went to 3 different rooftop bars in a span of two hours. Don’t ask why.

And that wraps up for the Best of 2019 for me. I hope yours was as exciting (if not more so) as mine.

Winter Wonderland in Waala Waala

Waala Waala, try saying that 5x. My first trip this year was random and on a whim. I was half excited and half asleep trying to stay awake as I made my way through a layover in Seattle. I had no idea that getting to Waala Waala would take me through 2 flights and additionally, waking up at 4am to make it to my first transport. After 3 and a half hours later, I finally made it to my destination.

Window seat view – breathtaking ain’t it?

The first few hours upon my arrival, I noticed how small the airport was and it seemed that people were more relaxed and less in a hurry compare to SNA. As a side note, Walla-Walla approximately has a population of 32,854 and is located in Washington State. It is about 3-4 hours drive from Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Spokane. They are apparently known for agriculture and wine.

Outside Walla Walla airport

As I made my way outside the airport to wait for my friend, the cool air hit my face as the door opened. Right away the wind chill snapped me back to reality. I was definitely no longer in sunny land of O.C. In front of me was a thick and a whole lot of snow! I’ve never seen so much powder whiter than my bedsheets. The scene was very pretty.

Having the chance to roam around town and drive to the nearby cities, I came to realize that people were very friendly and easy to talk to. I also noticed that like Southern California everything is spread out but, less buildings and more open fields.

I am curious as to how this place would look in the summer or spring season. To me, the snow gave it a winter wonderland feel that you won’t probably get in any other season.