When looking for things to do in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden was at the top of my list. I love visiting public gardens when I travel because they’re beautiful and usually cheap or free. Even on a misty, cool fall day the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens didn’t disappoint. We got to enjoy low crowds too which made many areas feel like our own private backyard.
The gardens are open daily but hours vary so check their website. Admission is free however they offers options to see additional indoor exhibits for a small fee. Here is some of the beauty that awaits you:
I loved it here and would go back in a minute. I’m sure it’s just spectacular on a sunny, clear day when you can see the city on the hillside beyond the gardens. Have you been to the Royal Botanic Gardens? What’s your favorite time of year to visit?
In other news- the adventures continue in 2019 as I head to Walt Disney World on Friday! If you want to follow along keep your eyes on my instagram story for live updates.
Today I’m throwing back to my Hawaii trip from April of this year to talk about Haleakala National Park on Maui! You can read my last throwback from this trip here.
We almost skipped visiting Maui’s volcano because the sunrise/sunset trips to the summit are so hyped that we didn’t know if a midday trip would be worthwhile. I’m so glad we went because Haleakala is out of this world!
It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.
It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.
If you start at the beach (aka sea level) it’s a 37 mile drive to the summit which makes Haleakala one of the greatest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world!
The most stunning part of the trip was seeing the volcanic crater. The different colors of the dirt and sands were beautiful and really made me feel like I was looking out at a scene from Mars!
It was amusing seeing planes go by because it was like I was looking down on them! Haleakala was amazing and I’m so glad that we didn’t skip it! If you’re not a morning or a late night person don’t let that deter you from visiting. I would love to go back and see a sunrise or a sunset next time but I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all this visit!
Having done the drive up and down in daylight I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour bus to the summit if you want to do a sunrise or a sunset tour. The roads are winding and narrow so personally, I’d be uncomfortable driving them in the dark.
If heights aren’t your thing consider visiting the coastal area of the park called the Kipahulu District which can be found just past the town of Hana. Make sure you dress appropriately for either side of the park you visit as weather can be vastly different!
For today’s Throwback Thursday I want to share one of my favorite Disney things to do: crawl! Bar crawl, that is! One of my favorite arguing points when people say Walt Disney World is only for kids is all the food and drink experiences to be had. I love to suggest people try to the Monorail Bar Crawl, or the Boardwalk Bar Crawl which I’ll cover today.
Like the Monorail Bar Crawl, the Boardwalk Bar Crawl doesn’t require you to have a park ticket so it’s a great option for a day or night you won’t be hitting the parks. The Boardwalk Resort area is easy to get to by Uber, Minnie Van, or by taking a bus to nearby Hollywood Studios and following the walking path. While it would take more time, you can also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs and take a Boardwalk, Yacht Club, or Beach Club resort bus to get there.
First stop: Big River Grille & Brewing Works
Big River serves up American pub favorites in a family friendly setting. You can see 6 specialty beers being handcrafted on site!
We started our crawl with some nachos and beer:
Second stop: AbracadaBar
AbracadaBar invites you into a 1940s magician’s lounge with a few tricks up its sleeves. With a selection of old fashioned cocktails to choose from we went with the Conjurita and Seahorse Sweet.
If you’ve peeped the menu you might have noticed the Seahorse Sweet and it’s disappearing cotton candy are technically non-alcoholic but when I used the magic word (please, in this case) the bar tender was happy to add some vodka. The conjurita is poured table side so you can enjoy it’s color changing trick!
Once we had our drinks we enjoyed the ambiance and checked out the magic memorabilia. Pay close attention to the posters on the wall- you never know who’ll disappear!
Third stop: Jellyrolls
After crawling up and down the Boardwalk, the dueling piano bar Jellyrolls is the perfect place to sit, relax, and belt out your favorite music! While Jellyrolls serves typical bar drinks (we ordered Bud Light) its really the music that you visit for.
A couple things to know about Jellyrolls:
Cover is $12 per person and only those 21 and older are admitted (sorry kids!)
Songs are played by request and requests are submitted with a cash tip (usually the better the tip, the more likely your song is to be played)
Other options to try:
Trattoria al Forno is a great place to start your crawl if you’re looking for dinner as you go! The drink menu includes a large assortment of wine, Italian brandy and cocktails. Dinner is served 5p-10p, reservations recommended!
ESPN Club is an excellent choice for a sports fan to take in a game mid crawl. Lounge seating is first come, first serve. Dinner hours and reservation needs vary so check the Disney website prior to your visit!
Have you done the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Bar Crawl? Or, would you want to try it?
It’s time for another #throwbackthursday and today I’m throwing it back to my October 2017 adventures in London with my international bestie, Morag! We first met back in 2014 when she was in the US with Camp America and we’ve maintained a long distance friendship ever since. In 2017 she played tour guide for my first U.K. trip! Check out her blog about her travels here.
Before I was in to coffee tea was my first love. Afternoon tea is something that seems quintessentially British to us Americans so I was dying to try and Morag was happy to indulge my curiosities. She choose Fortnum & Mason for our tea experience. I’d describe F & M like a home goods department store that also sells dried food goods (tea, packaged biscuits, wines, etc.) The store is so beautiful its worth a walk through on its own! We took the elevator to the top floor where the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is located.
We started off by browsing the tea menu to select what we’d like to drink. I really liked how they had made special blends to mark occasions for the Royal family!
I selected the Wedding Breakfast tea. Morag isn’t much of a hot tea drinker so she asked for some iced tea.
We also ordered the champagne pairing because why not?! When in London, am I right? As we sipped our drinks, the beautiful display of food arrived!
We went with the afternoon tea menu and everything was delicious! They do offer a gluten-free option, shown at right in the above picture. The finger sandwiches aren’t something you typically see in the US so a lot of those combinations were new to me but I enjoyed them all!
It’s hard to pick a favorite thing from my U.K. trip but this experience is definitely towards the top of the list. If you’re ready for your own afternoon tea adventure you can make reservations with Fortnum & Mason online. Menu prices start at £52.50.
Today I’m throwing it back to a MUST-DO Connecticut adventure: Cross Sound Ferry’s Lights and Sights cruise! In July, my family and I took the two hour cruise out of New London on the Cecelia Ann. I had no clue that Connecticut had so many lighthouses with such colorful stories!
We boarded just prior to 10am. I don’t know how many seats were sold (in relation to what would be considered full) but there was a good crowd yet plenty of seats. We opted to start our cruise with outdoor seats and later moved indoors to get out of the wind for the sail back to the dock. There were plenty of windows so we still had good views while inside.
The cruise takes you to 15 different sights including lighthouses, historic forts, castles and more!
At each sight the captain made a full 360 degree turn so you didn’t have to leave your seat for a great view.
Tickets are $30 for adult fares and sailings continue until October 31st so you have a couple more chances to squeeze in a cruise before the end of the season. Otherwise, Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse cruises sail from the end of May to the end of October. Visit their website here for more details!
If you watch television you’ve probably seen the sun-soaked ads for the Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas. You know: white sand beaches, dolphins splashing and sharks swimming overhead? Ring a bell? In February, my sister and I cruised with Norwegian to celebrate her 30th birthday and opted for an Atlantis Self-Guided Tour and Beach Day excursion on our Nassau day to see if the resort really lives up to the publicized hype.
Our day started bright and early with a bus ride from the Norwegian Sky to the resort. We opted for what I’d call the ‘middle-tier’ tour: we had access to the resort grounds, including the aquariums, and the beach, but not the water slides. Our tour guide walked us through the resort and pointed out where to find things along the way.
One interesting fact our guide shared is that the Atlantis has the one of the only casinos with natural light (aka windows) in the world. Most casino avoid natural light because when you can’t tell the passage of time people will spend more money. The Atlantis claims the windows don’t effect their profits!
We started out back with the predator and string ray lagoons before following the stairs down to view the tanks.
After we finished this loop we headed back inside to see the Dig and Ruins Lagoon tanks.
After enjoying all the wildlife we headed out to the beach. We settled on Atlantis Beach West where I felt like we were treated no different than a resort guest. Resort staff helped us pick out a spot, brought us lounge chairs and towels. Vendors were on the beach offering goods, drinks, etc. Fortunately I didn’t find them too pushy.
In my book the amenities we got to experience at the Atlantis lived up to the beautiful tv commercials. This got me thinking, and on our bus ride back to the ship I googled some info on actually staying at the resort. It seemed like the rooms and hotel experience had some mixed reviews. I would definitely got back and specifically stay at the Atlantis to find out for myself. Have you ever stayed at the Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas? What was your experience like?
I imagine if you’ve ever been out drinking on St. Patrick’s Day in the US and tried to order a green beer you’ve heard at least one person quip that ‘real Irishmen drink black beer.’ In Dublin, Ireland this stands true at the Guinness Storehouse located in the heart of St. Jame’s Gate. No visit to Dublin feels complete with a good pour of Guinness so during my October 2017 visit to the city I took the bus out to the Storehouse to see it (and taste it) for myself.
Tickets to Guinness will run you about $28 (USD) though discounts are available if you pre-purchase online.
The seven floor Storehouse experience starts by showing you the growing, fermenting and brewing process.
As we continued winding through the Guinness pint shaped building we came across a tasting room where you can learn the proper technique to drink a Guinness.
Following our lesson we walked through a large exhibit on the history of Guinness advertising and were treated to some of their most famous slogans and campaigns.
Finally after all the stair climbing and escalator climbing we reached the pinnacle of the experience- Guinness’ Gravity Bar which sits at the very stop of the Storehouse and offers 360 degree views of Dublin. As luck would have it, we visited on a mostly cloudy day but the clouds parted just as we enjoyed our beers and the beautiful views.
Dublin has so many great attractions to enjoy but the Guinness Storehouse definitely tops my list! This is worth at least one visit and I’d even wager to say that I’d go for a second visit when I find myself in Dublin again.