TRAVEL || WHERE TO EAT IN CINCINNATI

Cincinnati has a lot of great food choices! There were so many places to go in so little time, but here are a few we got to enjoy and would definitely recommend!

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For starters, you need to visit the iconic Skyline Chili. In 1949, Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides came to the states and started Skyline Chili with his family recipes. It’s an Ohio staple! The restaurant has a very casual atmosphere with prices you just can’t beat! We went there for lunch and so did everyone else! It was really cool looking around the room seeing everyone on their lunch break. You have people in suits and ties sitting next to construction workers. I’d say that alone would make it a fan favorite! Oh, and I can’t forget to mention, they do all of the cooking right in front of you! The restaurant is set up with the kitchen in the middle of the room. You can sit at a table with friends or at the bar surrounding the cooking area- similar to a hibachi grill set up. My table got the chili dogs with chili cheese fries and a soda. Classic. You can tell by our cleaned plates in the photo below that it was good!

 

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Next on the list is the Moerlein Lager House. The best part about this restaurant is the location. It sits in the middle of the Smale Riverfront Park so you can grab a seat out on the terrace and enjoy the views. Watch the boats float down the river, people strolling through the park and take in the nice weather while you enjoy your lunch! My table ordered the Spicy corn chowder, Beer Can Chicken Melt Sandwich, and the Philly Cheesesteak with Sweet Potato Chips.

A cool, local dinner spot is Bakerfield OTR (Over The Rhine). Taco ’bout good food! Their tacos and queso dip were recommended to us, and I’m definitely passing on that recommendation. I also recommend ordering various taco options to explore all the combinations of flavors. The decor and vibes were on trend. If I lived here, this would definitely be my go-to spot for a casual date night!

After dinner, take a stroll around the block for dessert at Simply Rolled Ice Cream! This company is Ohio’s original rolled ice cream shop. If you haven’t heard of rolled ice cream, click here to watch my video! Simply Rolled has three locations- each of which are in Ohio and use locally sourced ingredients. They even have a vegan option! I did a create-your-own type deal with various chocolate toppings and cookie dough bites. NOM! Fun fact: Their spoons change color with temperature. You can kind of see in the photo below that the spoon is purple by the ice cream.

TRAVEL || CLEVELAND INDIANS BASEBALL

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My husband and I are on a mission to watch the Atlanta Braves play in every major league baseball park. We set out on a road trip to Ohio in order to catch back-to-back games against the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.

Cleveland was first on the itinerary, so we planned to attend the Friday night game. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. A storm came through with heavy rain, lots of fog, and cold temperatures. This led to the first game getting postponed to Saturday at 3pm- resulting in a double header. Our money was refunded and we bought new tickets for Saturday. Luckily, we didn’t have solid plans for Saturday night, so it worked out in our favor. We got to watch two games for the price of one!

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Traffic was pretty bad as Eric Church was touring in town that weekend, but our Lyft driver was able to drop us off a block away from the stadium. We arrived early when the gates opened so we could check out the park and find our seats before the action started.

The park was nice and easy to navigate. The extra large broadcasting screen  was flanked with buildings from downtown creating a nice view of the outfield.

The food options were great! I had wanted to go eat at Momocho, a popular Mexican restaurant in town, and lucky me- they were serving food at the stadium! It was too cold to take a picture of my food.. Sorry (lol) but it was yummy!

 

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Every baseball game has that ONE obnoxious fan. We were right behind the Braves dugout, and this guy chose to get his seats there so the players could hear him. His jokes were over the line and getting personal. He would even turn and mock the Braves fans! I know this sounds terrible, BUT I am saying all this to say that the Progressive Field staff handled it like champs! They very discreetly talked to the man and then to us Braves fans. The usher told us they were watching him and if he said anything to us again, they would remove him from the park. They checked back in with us a few times as the games continued to make sure we felt comfortable. Three cheers to the staff! I have never encountered such attentive and thoughtful security at a game.

 

No one can control the weather or the people around you, so we certainly didn’t let those elements ruin our experience. We had a great time and really enjoyed being at the park! Incase you were wondering, the Braves lost the first game but won the second game. I’ll take it!

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TRAVEL || A GRAND TIME GRAND TOUR

Planning to take a day trip through the southern rim of the Grand Canyon? I’ve got a few tips and tricks for the perfect day!

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Even the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon is worth spending multiple days, but if you only have one day to explore this majestic wonder, here is a guide to hit all the high points! Tip: Some people get a week pass to the national park but don’t use all the days. Your hotel concierge might have extra passes you can use.

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When staying in Sedona or Flagstaff, take US-89 to AZ-64 through Cameron. This route takes you through the Navajo Indian Reserve. (Side note: Fill your tank up with gas before you leave, because there is no station in the reserve.) The land is dry, bare, and red but it is definitely a cool sight to experience. You get a little taste of canyon views with a few remote look-out points along the way. We pulled off at Marble Canyon of the Little Colorado River Gorge, which really psyched us up for our day of site seeing. The walk is only about 100 yards from the parking area on a gravel road, so it is accessible for everyone.

 

As you continue driving towards the Grand Canyon, you’ll enter on the eastern side of the South Rim. After going through the national park gate, your first stop is the Desert View Watchtower, also known as Navajo Point. This is where you can stamp your national park book, climb up steps into a watchtower to get an even higher view of the canyons, and scope out the landscape details with their telescopes. It is a very popular, touristy point so be ready for a large crowd. We went on Easter Sunday expecting a lower number of tourist, but we were wrong, lol! Luckily, the other stops were not as busy as this first one.

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Next, you’ll drive 22 miles west to the Visitor Center. On that drive, they have about three  points where you can stop to take a look. Lipan, Moran and Grandview are the main points. For time sake, pick one or two. The view is fairly similar to the watchtower at these points, but they are way less crowded!

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We had a cooler of waters in our car, but if you need to grab drinks or snacks, you can stop at the Park Store in the Visitor Center. They not only have a grocery store, but also a deli with sandwiches and pizza. I’m not the type to pass up pizza, so we got it to go and took it with us to the main area, aka the Village, for a picnic. This is where the hotels and restaurants are located and it is only a 2 mile drive from the Visitor Center. There were not many places to picnic in the Village, so we ventured to the edge and sat on a stone ledge. Many people passed by us saying we were brave for sitting there, but how many people get to say they ate lunch literally on the edge of the Grand Canyon?? That was by far our most spontaneous part of the day- I highly recommend it! They have restaurants where you can eat if that is more your style.

 

After lunch, we found a parking spot in a lot near the bus stop. The buses are free and rotate between nine different look-out points. You can hop on and off the buses as they pass. Again, you don’t have to go to all of them but pick about four to get off and venture. We stopped at Trailview Overlook, Hopi Point, the Abyss, and Hermits Rest. Hermits Rest is as far west as you can go on the South Rim. It is the only stop that has a bathroom or snack food option. The snack bar at Hermits rest closes an hour before sunset, so make sure you get there in time to grab some coffee. It will keep you busy and warm you up as you wait for the sun to set! Watching the sun set over the canyon was a dream of mine, and I soaked up every second. It was a once in a lifetime experience seeing the sky change colors- No filter needed! Catch the last bus back to the parking lot and head home.

 

As you leave, take a different route home by exiting through the South Entrance Station down AZ-64. You’ll come to the city of Tusayan, which is right outside of the national park. We stopped for dinner at Big E Steakhouse & Saloon and it was good eatin’! It is a western themed steakhouse whose serving sizes are like the Grand Canyon.. large. After all that hiking, you’ll want to refuel for the drive back.

 

We spent our one year anniversary day-tripping the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was April 1st, so the weather was hot during the day but cold out on the points and while watching the sun set. Be sure to bring a warm, yet light-weight jacket. I personally recommend this one!

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Happy Hiking!

TRAVEL || ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

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If you get the chance to go to a Diamondbacks game, do it. We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the stadium.

This major-league baseball team is home to Phoenix, Arizona. We parked right outside of the stadium for $10! Other big events I’ve been to recently have had higher parking rates, so right off the bat we were impressed (pun intended). Getting into the stadium was easy breezy, topped with a free souvenir bag as you entered. Our tickets were behind first base, so we had great seats- not only because of the view, but the seats themselves are angled to face home plate. Loved that! It gets better… the roof can open and close! We got to watch the sun set and the stars come out behind the big screen.

One of my favorite parts was getting on the fan screen! We tweeted a selfie to them and they showed it up on the screen, like ten times. That may have been a glitch in the system but we sure felt welcomed, ha!

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The Friday night game ended with the Dbacks getting a W and celebratory fireworks. Way to cap off a wonderful night (pun intended.. again)!

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TRAVEL || NEW ORLEANS FOODIES

Let’s eat! New Orleans, Louisiana, is known for their authentic Cajun seafood cuisine. From touristy must haves to local favorites, here are a few places you have to try out when you visit!

CAFE DU MONDE || This is for sure the most visited restaurant in the city. The line is alwayyyysss a block long due to it’s coveted beignets, but these sugary fried fritters are worth the wait! This staple cafe is easy to find as it is located by the popular French Quarter.

FRENCH MARKET || The French Market has a lot going on. Venders are set up everywhere for lots of souvenir shopping. Definitely go around lunch time so you can get some seafood straight out of the coast! Food vendors line the edge so take a walk to explore your options and pick what you’re craving. They have tables set up for you to sit at and the market is covered, so you are set to chow down even if it’s pouring down!

BAYOU BEER GARDEN || When the weather is nice and you want to sit outside, the Bayou Beer Garden is a nice, chill spot to go. We went to watch football games and eat lunch. You really need to order the Famous BBG Disco Fries while you are there! I’m talking french fries, gooey melted cheddar cheese, and savory roast beef debris gravy. Oh and you’ll want to bring a friend to split them with!

THE TCHOUP YARD || This was probably my favorite place from our last trip to Nola because it’s vibe is definitely in my comfort zone. They have a restaurant with glass garage door walls that they can raise if weather permits. A large gravel area is set up outside with umbrellaed tables, TVs everywhere to watch sports, and corn hole boards- not to mention it’s dog friendly!! When you go, you HAVE to get the totchos with Mexican chorizo. It is basically tater tot loaded nachos! *insert heart eyed emoji* They are so good that I’ve tried to replicate them at home. It tasted good but just wasn’t the same. I need to go back!

GRIS GRIS: Date night at Gris Gris, please and thank you! This two story restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and won’t break the bank. When you walk in, you see the beautiful open kitchen with pots and pans hanging above. I’m really glad we got to see the plates being prepared because that’s how we picked what we ordered. Everything looked so good and tasted even better!

Happy eating!

TRAVEL || THE GHOST TOWN OF JEROME

There is a small city built into the side of a mountain known as Jerome, Arizona. It is a very old, unique, interesting place that I would highly advise visiting! If you drive towards Cottonwood and see the large white “J” built into Cleopatra Hill, you know you’re going the right way.

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A little Jerome history… It was built back in 1876 to be a residency for the workers of the booming copper-mining industry. Due to its high volume of murders and deaths, Jerome was known as the “Wickedest Town in the West”. Not only were people dying while working in the mines, but almost 100 people were shot quarreling in the streets in a single month. At it’s peak in the 1920s, the town had about 15,000 residence. When the mines closed in the 1950s, only 50-100 people remained. Jerome has since then been restored into a tourist town with local artisans, restaurants, and haunted tours. It currently has about 450 residents.

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Now that you have little back story.. Here are all the best places to go and things to do!

After arrival, we went to Ghost Town Tours to reserve a spot on their walking tour. Side note: This company was very accommodating and easy to work with. Since the tour was not until later in the day, we got to explore the local shops and galleries. Taking advantage of dilapidated buildings, artists have erected 3-dimintional sculptures in the middle of the rubble. One even displayed a toilet as a wishing well. Talk about flushing your money down the toilet, HA!

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With a variety of restaurants to choose from, we chose the Haunted Hamburger for lunch. It was such a beautiful day, outdoor seating was a no brainer. Couldn’t get enough of that view! We liked their deep fried pickles, twice baked potato, BBQ burger and most importantly their mudslide- a milkshake that tastes like the inside of an Oreo had a baby with a chocolate frosty. SO. GOOD.

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Our walking tour guide was great! As a local born and raised, he really knew his town’s history. I recommend doing a tour, as each building has its own crazy story. Definitely worth the time and money! Jerome is one fascinating town!

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For dinner, we went to The Asylum, which is the restaurant in the old Grand Hotel. We got there at 5:30 when they opened for dinner, which worked well for us as we got to sit at one of the two window seats. They have the highest view in the city, and watching the sunset over the red rock mountains as you eat dinner is a once in a lifetime experience. Casual attire is welcomed at this fine dining establishment. Their soup was great! We also enjoyed the pork tenderloin.

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Ghost Town Tours also has haunted night tours in the old high school. Rumor has it they are scary and fun! I feel like we got a good scope of the town in one day; but if you want to get scared on the night tour, they have haunted hotels available for stay!

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TRAVEL || DIEGO POPS IN SCOTTSDALE

Diego Pops is where it’s at! This was probably my favorite place to eat the entire trip. Y’all know I’m all about some tacos, so this place comes highly recommended. Sitting on the covered patio with perfect weather was definitely the way to go. The decor was cool- a very casual and relaxed feel with clever signs in each room. Thanks to their happy hour specials, we got half off an appetizer. The corn queso did not disappointed. Hashtag NOM.

We also got the Grilled Shrimp, Braised Pineapple Pork, Beef Machaca, and Braised Green Chili Chicken Tacos. Everything we ate was awesome, so you can’t go wrong!

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TRAVEL || TUZIGOOT NATIONAL MONUMENT

Shoutout to all my history fans out there- This National Monument is for you!

At the base of Jerome, between Clarkdale and Cottonwood, is an old Pueblo called Tuzigoot. A Pueblo is an American Indian settlement in the southwest consisting of multistoried adobe houses. Tuzigoot is Apache for “crooked water” as it is near a cutoff of the Verde River. They say this Pueblo was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 AD. I mean, wow!

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It won’t take long to admire these ancient ruins, but it is worth the look. Plus, the view is quite beautiful! It’s crazy seeing the ruins of a civilization that existed so long ago and to picture how they lived during that time. I would recommend making a quick stop to Tuzigoot on your way to Jerome!

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TRAVEL || DOUGH BIRD IN PHOENIX

Looking for great pizza in the Phoenix area? Head on over to Dough Bird! The interior decor is my kind of vibe with cool tiled flooring, shiplap walls, and exposed ceilings. It’s a popular place for locals to gather and has a nice sunset view through their large windows. If there is a wait, sitting at the bar is a great choice. You can watch them cook and prepare the food- dinner and a show!

We ordered the Pepperoni & Fresh Mozzarella Pizza with organic tomato and wild oregano. It was awesome. As a matter of fact, everything their kitchen was bringing out looked awesome. Hopefully when you eat there they will still have The Elvis for dessert! I’m talking chocolate, peanut butter, banana, whip, caramel, and bacon sandies. There is a reason why dessert is spelt with two S’s instead of one… because you always want more!

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TRAVEL || OLD TOWN SCOTTSDALE

Scottsdale, Arizona has an adorable western-themed Old Town! A few streets all intersect together  with tons of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and street performers. Spending an afternoon walking around, getting some souvenirs, and admiring local talents was so pleasant. Now, I know this is a very touristy thing to do, but sometimes it’s fun being a tourist! We went in late March/early April, so the weather was great (at a dry 75F during the day). Plus, it wasn’t swarmed with crowds. Score!

If you like fudge (or olive oils), you have to stop by Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars. It’s basically two different shops in one, but naturally I went straight for the fudge. Their cookies’n’cream flavor was divine!

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