In May, we went to St. Petersburg, Russia after visiting Paris for the French Open (travel posts here and here). Lots of people asked why we chose St. Petersburg, as most Americans don’t travel to Russia, and the answer was simple: it was cheaper than other options. We knew that we were going to France and that we had to fly through Frankfurt (because United is the worst), and we thought we should tackle another city while we’re halfway around the world already. After looking up flights to Munich, Vienna, etc., we decided on St. Petersburg, and I’m glad we did.
I did not know a whole lot about St. Petersburg before booking the trip, but had a good image in my mind of what it would be like. For the most part, I was right, but the one thing I did not expect about this beautiful city was how good the food is. And I should clarify: I don’t think I ate anything Russian in Russia. The food scene in St. Petersburg is world class. The restaurants are trendy, the cocktails are delicious, the dishes are eclectic… and we loved every bite and sip.
We soaked up so much history and culture in just four days in the city. We bought Faberge eggs (ahem, eggs from the Faberge Museum), walked until we could walk no more, toured this canal filled city by boat, used more audio guides at museums than I would like to admit, and frolicked in at least five parks.
Long story short: You need to go to St. Petersburg at some point in your life. And when you go, I’ve outlined four perfect days in the city. You can also use this custom Google map I created which plots all of the places named below.
In 2012, my parents bought a home in Durango, much to our dismay, as we were rooting for a lake house in Austin. We are now so glad they ignored our pleas, as this old-timey city has definitely won over our hearts (and the lack of Texas humidity is a huge bonus). Durango has everything you could possibly need in a getaway city – great food and drinks, amazing views, fun activities, good shopping (well, not high fashion), and perfect weather (ahem, except perhaps the freezing cold winters). We’re fortunate enough to live just two streets over from Main Avenue, which is where most of the restaurants and shops are found. Given that most things in Texas are driving distance, it’s nice to be able to walk to dinner. We also take advantage of the proximity to the mountains and Animas river, and spend the days outside hiking, biking, rafting, running, etc.
If you’re looking for a fun Colorado vacation spot, I highly recommend making a trip to Durango. And if you come, I suggest trying some of the following restaurants, juice bars, ice cream shops, parks and adventure centers. If you have already been to Durango, am I missing anything?
Food and Drinks
Carver’s Brewing Co.: This brewery is a favorite in our family, as it’s just two streets over from my parent’s house and the food is delicious. I typically order the Sesame Seared Ahi Stir Fry (substitute tofu for Ahi) or the veggie burger without the bun and a salad versus fries. Both options are delicious. Sasha normally gets the Tatanka (buffalo) burger and also loves it. They have big to-go beers called “Growlers” (discounted refills), so naturally Sasha and Dad have to drink one or two of those to prove their Colorado manliness.
Four perfect days in Paris. Ahh, is it even possible to accomplish all you want to see in such a short period of time? Ideally, anyone going to the City of Lights would have weeks on end to stroll through this gorgeous city, but knowing that isn’t the case for many, I’ve decided to write a four day itinerary (longer than most of my other City Guides). During these 96 hours, I’ve included nearly all of the must see places you’ve seen in movies and heard about since you were little, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, etc. I also added smaller gems, like L’Orangerie and the Place des Vosges. You can see everything on a map here – I’ve also embedded it at the bottom of this post.
If you’ve been to Paris and think I’m missing some wonderful restaurants or sites, please let me know! I’d love to try new places when we visit next. Also, if you have any specific questions about this itinerary, please email me!
- Start your morning off early with breakfast and coffee at Les Deux Magots in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area.
- Walk by La Duree and stop in for a few famous macaroons on your way to the Louvre (cross over Pont du Carrousel) – the line may be long, but it’s worth it in order to see some of the most famous pieces of art in the world (the Mona Lisa may be underwhelming, but it’s still cool to see!).
- If you’re hungry after walking around the massive halls of the Louvre, walk to lunch at nearby Cafe Marly or Claus (recommended by a friend who lives in Paris).
- Stroll through the Jardins des Tuileries, and stop in at L’Orangerie for the most awe-inspiring Monets you’ve ever seen – this is one of my favorite museums in the world.
I have only been to Chicago a handful of times, yet I love it so much. Given my lack of experience with traveling around the Windy City, I’m handing over the city guide ownership to my good friend, Mara, who writes one of my favorite blogs – Hook, Thread & Tinker. Mara lives in Chicago with her husband, James, and their newborn son, Simon, who is two days younger than Isla (and the cutest boy ever!). Her style is très similar to mine, so naturally I think she’s super cool (ha). She has written a detailed city guide, which I’m sharing with you today! First, I’ll give you my abbreviated, yet sound, list of Chicago must-do’s.
My Chicago Recommendations
- Eat brunch at 2 Sparrows (where I tasted my first St-Germain cocktail)
- Get coffee at La Colombe (I’m not an iced coffee person, but I am here)
- Eat lunch at Tavern on Rush (sit outside and people watch)
- Drink Bloody Mary’s at Mike Ditka’s Restaurant (nice and spicy)
- Devour dinner at Purple Pig (I literally dream about their shaved Brussels sprouts!)
- Get drinks at Pops for Champagne (I believe Heaven will have a champagne bar too)
- Take a ‘selfie’ using The Bean in Millenium Park (major tourist attraction, but I love it)
- Ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier (okay, also very touristy)
- Shop on The Magnificent Mile (there is no H&M near us in Houston!)
- Laugh until you cry at Second City (book well ahead of time)
For the full Chicago City Guide on Hook, Thread & Tinker, click here. It’s literally the best city guide ever made – it includes separate posts for breakfast and brunch, lunch and dinner, pizza, snacks and dessert, daytime activities, drinks and nightlife – as well as a detailed 48 hour itinerary. Happy reading (and hopefully, planning!).
Click here to see a complete list of my travel guides.
Last summer, Sasha and I got married at The Carneros Inn in Napa Valley (see photos here and here). I am head-over-heels in love with the California Wine Country. I went for the first time in 2010 and have been five times since. Although I could spend an eternity there, I’ve created a travel guide which outlines two absolutely perfect days in Sonoma, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. While most of my trips have been day trips, I’ve stayed at The Meritage Resort and Spa and The Carneros Inn (for the wedding). I highly recommend both, although The Meritage is more reasonably priced for a weekend trip.
Domaine Carneros // Frog’s Leap // Robert Mondavi
To make navigation a little easier, I’ve created a Google map with all of the recommendations below. Don’t want to drive around? Smart decision. There are lots of private drivers in the area, including Private Limousine Service, Wine Country Driver and Pure Luxury.
Please share with me some of your Wine Country favorites! I’d love to try them on our next trip. Click here to see a list of my other city guides.
Two Perfect Days in the California Wine Country
Day 1: Sonoma and Napa
- Eat breakfast at FARM at The Carneros Inn (get there early and be prepared to wait – it’s worth it) – then play some bocce ball in the main courtyard when you’re done!
- Drive to Domaine Carneros and walk up the majestic stairs to what reminds me of a French chateau – get your day started early with some amazing sparkling wine.
- Leave Domaine Carneros and drive to the nearby Artesa Vineyards, where you’ll find another incredible view – look into doing a private tour of the facilities (totally worth it).
- Head towards Sonoma Square to wander through the park, look at the cute stores, grab a coffee at Sunflower Caffé, and get your name on the reservation list for either HopMonk Tavern or The Girl and the Fig (both are delicious – and busy!).
- After eating lunch, pile back in the car and head towards Gundlach Bundschu (where we had our rehearsal dinner) – they wine is absolutely phenomenal.
- Take a short drive to nearby Nicholson Ranch, and gaze out at the rolling wine country in front of you.
- Determine your ability to drink more wine (c’mon, you can do it!), and if you’re up for it, end your day’s wine tasting at Viansa (amazing cheeses!).
- Return to your hotel to shower, rest and get ready for dinner at Azzurro Pizzeria E Enoteca in downtown Napa and walk around the pretty little city afterwards.