Where to Sightsee in Costa Rica

A kayak in the grass in front of a beach

If you’re looking for a city with a touch of Mother Nature, look no further than San Jose in Costa Rica. Once you arrive, you will be greeted with big smiles, fresh air, and beautiful landscapes. Although San Jose is a well-developed city, the locals take the most pride in preserving the natural beauty in the area. Let’s get started with a few top attractions you must-see during your visit!

San Jose City Tour
Learn all about the history of San Jose by taking a city tour from Viator. My favorite stop along the tour was at the Central Market. Here, you can shop amongst the locals and taste samples of pastries and craft-brewed beer. Keep notes of the different beers you enjoy so you can order them with dinner in the evening. This is a great opportunity to stock up on snacks to keep in your hotel room.

Local Museums in San Jose
The museum buffs in your group will be pleasantly surprised by San Jose’s wide variety of museums.

  • Museum of Costa Rican Art – the extensive picture display submerges you in the local culture of Costa Rica through spiritual images and exhibits.
  • Natural Science Museum – This museum features a huge exhibit of animals including birds, insects, dinosaurs and mammals.
  • The Gold Museum – Highlights the history of the first American settlers and an extensive collection of gold relics.

After exploring a few museums, head over to Grano de Oro Restaurant for a delicious lunch. My favorite dish is the Curado de Pescados which includes shrimp and three types of fish mixed with lemon and olive oil. Since Costa Rica is in on an island, the seafood cannot be any fresher!

San Jose Craft Market
After lunch, visit the Municipal Craft Market where you can shop and browse through local vendor booths. Local artists create unique items perfect for souvenirs. You can find pretty much any type of craft item here at the market including, shot glasses, pens, purses, and more. The market is located on Calle 5, Avenida 6, costado Sur de la Plaza de las Garantías, San José, Costa Rica.

A kayak in the grass in front of a beach

Outdoor Activities in Alajuela
If you’re looking for an adventure, you can find a few different options including cultural tours, nature tours, beach tours, Caribbean tours, Guanacaste tours, and Monteverde tours.

Colinas del Poás Zip Line Tour
I chose to do the Colinas del Poás Zip Line Tour which offered a variety of activities including the zip line, Tarzan swing, and lunch. I decided to enjoy the Tarzan swing which included climbing a staircase stairs up to the top of a treehouse. The extra steps were worth the views. After enjoying the views, I took a leap of faith (literally) and jumped like Tarzan off of the top of the treehouse. It was definitely an exhilarating experience!

Dinner with a View in Alajuela
Plan ahead and make an early dinner reservation at Xandari Resort. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the Costa Rica skyline. The restaurant includes an open area where you can enjoy nature and the cool breeze at night. The filet mignon is a popular choice and the Chefs prepare it perfectly. The ambiance of the restaurant is created with brightly decorated masks on the walls.

What to do at Night in Alajuela
After dinner, enjoy a show at the National Theater of Costa Rica. This theater features plays, musical events, and cultural dances. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. Take a peek at their event calendar to plan your itinerary ahead of time.

After the theater head to Casino Fiesta. You can gamble, enjoy a drink at the bar, and dance the night away. Learn a few new dances like the salsa and merengue, or show off your own moves when your favorite song comes on.

San Jose is a great place to visit for travelers who enjoy both, city life and Mother Nature. Jump right into the daily lifestyle when you visit the Central Market or enjoy a relaxing dinner in the city. During the day there is always an adventure to discover. Take a leap of faith like Tarzan or explore the rainforest, you never know what kind of critters you’ll run into!

 

The Best Seasons to Enjoy Milan

Windowed ceiling of an ornate historic building

Milan is famous for hosting international events and fairs that unite people from all over the world. You may be familiar with Milan’s Fashion Week or the famed furniture fair, but let me guide you through a year’s worth of fun festivals and events.

September – October: Milano Fashion Week
Milano Fashion Week, established in 1958, takes place twice a year – the autumn and winter collections are presented in February/March and the spring and summer collections are displayed in September/October. Milan is part of the global “Big Four” fashion weeks, which also includes Paris, London, and New York.

During Fashion Week, there are many runway shows throughout Milan. Some shows are private, and you need an official invitation. However, there are a number of shows that are open to the public. Keep an eye out for fun after-parties and events organized by boutiques and showrooms. Find exclusive events by following the hashtags #milanfashionweek and #milanfashionweekevents on social media.

While you are enjoying fashion week, pop into some popular cocktail bars for a delicious drink. Terrazza Aperol serves one of the best Aperol Spritz, a delicious mix of Aperol, Prosecco, and soda. Next, head over to Bar Basso for a classic Negroni Sbagliato, a version of the old Negroni, made with Bitter Campari, red Vermouth, and sparkling wine instead of Gin.

November: JazzMi & Milano Music Week
For music lovers, November is the best month to experience JazzMi and Milan Music Week.

JazzMi is a jazz festival during the beginning of November. During the festival you can go to big concerts or sneak into small clubs for outstanding live performances. The most famous jazz club in Milan is the Blue Note Milan. Plan ahead and check the event calendar to book tickets in advance.

Milan Music Week is a festival promoted by the municipality of the city that takes place November 18 – 24, 2019. The festival is made up of more than 200 artists from all over the world. During the day, attend workshops, exhibitions, or meet and greet with artists. At night, join the crowds and enjoy live performances and after-parties.

December: L’Artigianato in Fiera – Arts & Crafts Fair
The L’Artigianato in Fiera is the largest international arts and crafts fair. The fair is free to attend and takes place from November 30 to December 8, 2019 in the FieraMilano RHO center.

During the fair, thousands of exhibitors from all over the world display their handmade crafts. Find unique souvenirs and authentic art from different countries. The fair also includes traditional dances and live entertainment, and a variety of food options.

After enjoying your time at the fair, enjoy dinner at one of the following restaurants:

  • Il lusso della Semplicità: Located in the City Life neighborhood, Chef Alessandro Borghese creates unique dishes that include traditional Italian recipes mixed with exotic ingredients to create a fusion cuisine.
  • Ristorante Al Garghet: Specializing in Milanese cuisine, I recommend the risotto alla Milanese (made with saffron), followed by the cotoletta a orecchio d’elefante, a fried veal cutlet, usually served with salad or fried chips. Finish your meal with the crumble peach cake and an amaretto disaronno.
  • Ristorante Alba D’Oro: Here, tradition meets innovation, where a delicious meal is combined with amazing wines from a wide selection that the owners have meticulously collected year after year.

April: Milanese Furniture Fair
The Milanese Furniture Fair is the largest furniture showcase in Milan and in the world. The exhibition is held annually in April, with the next one from April 21 – 26, 2020. It showcases the latest in furniture and design from countries around the world. It is mainly located in the FieraMilano RHO, although the “Fuori Salone” events, literally meaning “outside the fair events,” are popular as well. These events are held in parks, hidden venues, and avant-garde locations around town. Purchase your tickets early to beat the crowds.

May: Milano Food Week
Last but not least, Milano Food Week is held during the first week of May. During this delicious week meet famous Italian chefs and learn all about Italian cuisine.

Now that you know about all the unique festivals featured in Milan, it’s time to start planning your own Milanese experience. Check off your bucket list by visiting the largest Furniture Fair in the world or strike a pose during Milan Fashion Week. No matter which time of the year you visit, you will be amazed by the culture and excitement throughout Milan.

Enjoy a Weekend in Paris like a Parisian

A cafe table in front of a large window with a view to a pathway through a garden

When traveling the world, I love taking advantage of a true local experience to better understand the country’s spirit. I was born in Paris, and I love my city and its soul. With these tips, prepare to explore the City of Lights beyond the tourist destinations to experience a weekend in Paris like a local!

Saturday Walks 
Parisians love relaxing on Saturdays and enjoying nice walks through parks in the city. The Luxembourg Gardens and the Jardin des Plantes are favorites among locals, often bringing back fond memories of childhood in Paris.

The Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden in France. Inside, stop by the Alpine Garden, which has a collection of more than 2000 species of mountain plants. Make sure to also visit its zoo, which is open daily and accessible for children one year and older. You will be amazed by the numerous wild animals, birds, flamingos, monkeys, and much more.

After strolling through the garden and stopping by the zoo, visit the Gallery of Evolution. Tickets are 10€ or free if you are under 26. The gallery is not only a museum with over 7000 specimens, such as terrestrial species and marine mammals, but it is also a beautiful architectural monument. “They don’t speak, but they tell you everything about life,” is the motto of this incredible museum that documents the history of evolution.

For lunch, stop at the restaurant Les Belles Plantes, a favorite spot for Parisians living in this area. Meals are affordable, and the service is quick. My favorite table, for two to three people, is in the middle of the restaurant in front of the large windows with a wonderful view of the Jardin des Plantes. This is perfect for families with small children, as there is a lot of space for strollers!

On the same side of the Seine, visit the Luxembourg Gardens, which are colorful and perfect to relax with your friends or your family. Have a seat near the basin or discover the numerous statues throughout the gardens. The historical carousel will be your children’s favorite spot!

Relaxing Sundays 
A morning trip to the market followed by brunch makes for an ideal Parisian Sunday! Locals also enjoy walks in Le Marais district, as most of the shops there are open on Sundays.

If you’d like to experience genuine Parisian life, you must explore a Parisian market! My go-to market is Marché Auguste Blanqui, which is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, but you can find markets on every corner in Paris. I love going from one stand to another, always looking for organic and fresh products. You will find everything at Le Marché, including fruits and vegetables, spices, clothes, and you must taste the French cheeses. Try the Tomme de Savoie, my favorite!

To enjoy a delightful brunch, go to La Mouette Rieuse in Le Marais, on 17B rue Pavée, in the 4th district of Paris. The café is hidden at the back of a book store, and you can choose a seat inside the café or outside on the terrace. The staff is nice, and the food is both homemade and healthy, including fresh juices, homemade cakes, and pies.

After brunch, have a walk at Le Marais. It is a historic district of Paris, on both 3rd and 4th arrondissements, on the right bank of the Seine. You will discover trendy shops in all categories, from jewelry to clothes and art galleries. Last but not least, visit Le BHV Marais, the famous department store known for being a Parisian favorite as it combines hip and upcoming small Parisian fashion houses, and well-established French brands. You can find everything here from DIY workshops and kits to take home to accessories and food, not just apparel and clothing.

Add these activities to your itinerary for your next trip to Paris — you are sure to feel like a Parisian for a weekend and take a little bit of the city back with you!

How to Plan the Perfect Date Weekend in Orlando

A fountain in the middle of a lake on a sunny day

Orlando may be known as the theme park capital of the world, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to do there. Downtown Orlando is a thriving urban jungle with a beautiful skyline, major music and sporting events, as well as excellent culinary adventures.

Looking for an exciting weekend getaway with your partner that’s budget-friendly? Downtown Orlando is the place for you! Here are four different ways, depending on your interests, to experience a weekend in this vibrant city.

Spectators
Electric Daisy Carnival: For the past decade, this popular electronic dance festival has held an event in Orlando. Now a staple at Tinker Field, festival attendees can expect vibrant spectacles of music and entertainment.

Sports: Orlando Magic & Orlando City Soccer Club
Orlando is proud of its local sports teams, and both venues are within walking distance Downtown! The Orlando Magic are long-time NBA franchise for the city and hold their games at Amway Center. A newer franchise, the Orlando City Soccer Club, holds exciting games filled with dedicated fans. You can get tickets as low as $15.

Entertainment: You can see today’s most popular entertainment at Amway Center and Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center. From top musicians like Ariana Grande or Shawn Mendes to major sports events and popular Broadway shows, you can find it all between these two venues that are both right in the center of Downtown.

Cocktails at Wall Street: Wall Street is a block downtown that is closed off to traffic and allows patrons to walk freely while sipping on libations. It’s a social atmosphere drawing crowds of people.

Romantics
Lake Eola Swan Boat Ride: There’s nothing more romantic than a picturesque lake ride. You’ve seen it in the movies! For $15, you and your sweetie can rent your own swan boat.

Orlando Farmers Market: If food is your love language, you’ll love a stroll through Orlando’s iconic Farmers Market. Every Sunday, patrons can enjoy food, beverages, and entertainment with the beautiful backdrop of Lake Eola and Downtown.

Intimate Dinner: Get an authentic taste of Spain from Ceviche, and try the Paella or Patata Bravas. Another great option is Southern-fusion restaurant SoCo. Try the Pecan-Crusted Florida Snapper, a local white Florida fish, or for something different, try their Chicken-Fried Cauliflower Steak.

Historians
Stroll through Museums: Downtown Orlando has two museums close by. Orlando Museum of Art is great for couples who love to admire artwork, and the Orlando Science Center is an option for those who like more interactive museums.

Take in the Beauty of Leu Gardens: Explore 50-acres of floral bliss in the middle of the concrete jungle. It’s a great place for a romantic stroll, take pictures to remember your trip, and experience the beauty of nature. You can also book their venue for a wedding or receptions (wink, wink).

Coffee Break at Craft & Common: “Coffee shop by day, and wine bar by night,” reads this picture-perfect shop’s Instagram caption. Between your adventures, stop by to grab a quick bite and try their unique blends, like the most requested “wild child latte.” It includes rose syrup, vanilla, cardamom, and accented with edible rose petals.

Drinks at Mather’s Social: With walls lined with books, cozy corners of plush furniture, and even a set of swings in the middle of the bar, this speakeasy is a must-stop to have a hand-crafted cocktail with your significant other.

Adventurers
Bike Tours: An easy way to tour downtown! Secure a bike through many options available like HOPR  & Orlando Bicycle Rental. The Orlando Urban Trail is a three-mile-long bike path that starts in Downtown Orlando.

Gatorland: What is a trip to Florida without a gator encounter? Take a half-day trip to Gatorland to see alligators, crocodiles, reptiles, big cats, and more. They also have adventures like zip lining and their stompin’ off-road adventure.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens: As an animal lover, zoos are always a go-to of mine when visiting cities! Animals offer great entertainment, and the grounds make beautiful backdrops for pictures and sightseeing. On the third Thursday of each month, the gardens open for a sunset happy hour, where you can enjoy libations while touring the grounds.

Orlando attracts people from all over the world, making it easy to travel to for both domestic and international travelers. Not to mention the variety of things for you and your partner to do, it’s a recipe for a good time. Whether you are spectators, historians, romantics, or adventurers, you’re guaranteed the perfect date weekend.

Fall in Philadelphia: Top 5 Spots to See Foliage

A tree-lined road covered in fallen leaves

It’s always sad to say goodbye to warm weather, but nothing gets you excited for autumn like an afternoon spent checking out the changing leaves. Whether you prefer to ride through the foliage on a bike or watch from a train window, the Philadelphia metro area has plenty of options for enjoying the changing leaves. Grab your sweater, pack a thermos of hot cider, and check out our top 5 spots for incredible leaf-peeping, all within an hour of Philadelphia.

Kelly Drive
Part of the beauty of Kelly Drive is its proximity to Center City — the paved path begins behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art and runs beside Boathouse Row before reaching Falls Bridge in East Falls. Rather than doubling back, cross the bridge and finish the loop along Martin Luther King Drive. Both sides of the river offer calming views of the water and fall foliage just minutes from the heart of the city.

Longwood Gardens
Located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (about an hour west of Center City), Longwood Gardens are a popular destination in the spring and summer, but visitors to the area shouldn’t overlook this gem in the autumn. The famous fountains run through the end of October and are particularly gorgeous when surrounded by the trees changing colors. Longwood also offers a conservatory filled with chrysanthemums, a children’s area with a pumpkin playground, and a paved path through Peirce’s Woods that is perfect for those looking to get lost in the leaves.

Wissahickon Valley Park
There are more than 1,800 acres of parkland in Wissahickon Valley Park, located in northwest Philadelphia. Hiking and biking are great year-round, but the park is particularly gorgeous in autumn. Forbidden Drive is the main path through the park — closed to cars, it runs beside Wissahickon Creek and offers five miles of scenic fall views. Don’t miss a fall photoshoot beside the red covered bridge, which was originally built in 1737!

Bowman’s Hill Tower
This 125-foot tower is part of Washington Crossing Historic Park in Bucks County, a little less than an hour north of Philadelphia. Sitting atop Bowman’s Hill, the tower offers a 14-mile view of the surrounding landscape and winding Delaware River. Bonus: Venture just a bit farther up Route 32, and you can board the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, which offers excursions through the countryside with more breathtaking views from a beautifully restored vintage train.

Morris Arboretum
Travelpulse.com named Morris Arboretum one of the country’s top 5 gardens to visit in the fall. This gorgeous 92-acre garden is in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia. Home to some of the area’s largest trees, the Arboretum also features species known for their vibrant colors, including red and sugar maples, black gums, and scarlet oaks. While it’s easy to appreciate the beauty from ground level, you won’t want to miss “Out on a Limb,” a 50-foot high canopy walk offering a view of the leaves from a whole new perspective.

Whether you stay in the city or the suburbs this autumn, there’s bound to be beautiful foliage close by. Once you’ve seen all these gorgeous spots, we think you’ll agree — Fall might just be the best time to visit Philadelphia.

Dublin: A Modern City Rich in History

A library full of books and statues

In recent years, Dublin has attracted numerous international companies that have established their European headquarters in the city. This influx of new businesses brought young professionals transforming Dublin into a modern, diverse city with restaurants, shops, and activities rivaling the larger cities on the continent while retaining Dublin’s history and famous Irish hospitality. While enjoying five-star restaurants and posh clubs, don’t forget to visit the great sights that have always made Dublin a must-visit destination.

Trinity College Library
By far, the most famous attraction in the city is the Trinity College Library. The library’s Long Room is the most iconic part of the building. It has a vaulted wooden ceiling and is lined by some of the oldest books in Ireland organized on equally spectacular wooden shelves. Adding to the picturesque scenery are the marble busts of famous philosophers and writers. However, the most famous book in the building is the Book of Kells, part of which is displayed right in the middle of the Long Room of the library. The book is considered Ireland’s biggest treasure, and it contains the four gospels of the New Testament. What makes it unique are the drawings, which are very elaborate, colorful, and are made in an Irish post-Roman style, which differentiates it from other works in Europe. Also housed in the Long Room are two other items that are important symbols of Ireland, the Brian Boru Harp and a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Cathedrals
Two other noticeable buildings in the city are the St. Patrick Cathedral and the Christ Church Cathedral. Contrary to popular belief, both cathedrals are part of the Church of Ireland and are not specifically Catholic. In fact, the St. Patrick Cathedral is the seat church for the Church of Ireland. When walking through the cathedral, you will notice the memorials for nobility and military personnel. Further up the road is the Christ Church Cathedral, the oldest church in the city.

The church itself is eye-catching, but what really makes it stand out is the largest crypt in all of Ireland and Britain containing many priceless artifacts, as well as some interesting items like a mummified cat chasing a rat found stuck in the organ pipes centuries ago. Back upstairs, you can see the heart of Laurence O’Toole, the Patron Saint of Dublin.

Historical Sights
Finally, the two other historic sites that are a must-visit are the Dublin Castle and the Kilmainham Gaol. The Dublin Castle has been the seat of the ruling government, be it Irish or British, for centuries. Most of the walls of the former castle are now gone. However, one tower still stands, and you can see the base for one of the other towers on the guided tour. It is also very interesting to take the guided tour because you can look around at the original Viking settlements below the castle as well as walk through the more modern parts of the palace. Speaking of guided tours, visiting the Kilmainham Gaol is the hidden treasure of the city. This large jail is a symbol of the Irish struggle for independence, and the knowledgeable tour guides are eager to answer your questions. The jail, and especially the immense Main Hall, has been featured in multiple popular films following its restoration.

Cultural Experiences
After exploring these historic Dublin sites, it’s time to take a break and grab a pint at The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub. The location has had some sort of a drinking establishment since the 12th century, and it was used as a meeting point for Irish revolutionaries. Today, the pub has multiple rooms surrounding a wonderful courtyard bar, great grub, and, of course, plenty of music and beer to have you sing the night away.

In Dublin, you will often find yourself singing along about the famous, but most likely mythical, Molly Malone. One of the most beloved characters and songs in Ireland has become a symbol of the city and has even earned her a statue in the center of the city near two of the most famous streets in Dublin, the pub filled Temple Bar and the shop centric Grafton Street. Immediately across from the statue you can find O’Neil’s Pub and Kitchen, which is the place to be if you like traditional food in large portions for dinner. The pub even has a great rooftop to enjoy a Guinness or a cocktail.

Last but not least, a visit to Dublin should not end before you have the chance to see Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre. The famous show returns to its home during the summer, and even if you have had the chance to see it elsewhere, you should take the time to see it at this iconic location.

If you are visiting Dublin to enjoy the new and modern sights, don’t forget to make time for the locations and experiences that have made the city wonderfully unique long before, and long after, the recent trends come and go.

Adventure Awaits in Colorado Springs

Irregularly shaped red rock formation

When you think of Colorado, you might think of skiing in the Rocky Mountains or living it up in the capital city of Denver, but don’t overlook beautiful Colorado Springs. This city boasts some of the best views, scenic drives, and ultimate adventures, without the chaos and crowds! From fitness activities to relaxed drives, Colorado Springs boasts plenty of things to do.

Sightseeing and Thrill-Seeking
The United States Air Force Academy is located on the north side of Colorado Springs. Take a self-guided tour through the campus, and make sure to stop by the planetarium for a beautiful show and the chapel for some pictures. If you are lucky enough, you might see some unique planes or gliders in training over the campus.

While driving into town, look to your west – the tallest mountain is Pike’s Peak. Head to the top of the 14,000-foot peak where you can see up to five states on the clearest of days. Another stop worth the detour is the Garden of the Gods.  Drive through the park and see some of the most beautiful rock formations with the deepest reds you can find. Pull into any one of the parking lots and choose any guided trail to go for a hike. Don’t forget to stop at the gift shop, which has a variety of souvenirs.

Are you up for some adventure? Check out the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park where the adrenaline junkie will come alive.  Start with a tour of the caves then head to the adventures above. You can zip-line, rock climb, catapult across the canyon, or balance 600 feet above the canyon.  If you are ready for the thrill, ride the Terror-Dactyl, which launches you over the canyon at almost 100 miles per hour!

If you are looking to see a captivating natural wonder, head to Seven Falls. Climb the 200+ steps to watch the crystal-clear water flow down the mountainside. If you are an animal lover, check out the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It is located on the side of the mountain, so there is a lot of walking uphill, but it is worth the challenge. My favorite stop is the Giraffes – they have a beautiful feeding exhibit area, and they are so friendly!

Where to Eat
In between all the fun and adventure, you will need to take some time to enjoy Colorado Springs’ great dining establishments. In Old Colorado City, you can grab breakfast or lunch at Mother Muff’s. Try the “Baskets O’ Bacon,” which include flavored and chocolate-covered bacon. My favorite items are the Classic Country Breakfast Pizza, the Green Chili Cheese Fries, and the Jiffy Burger, but not all during the same visit!

After lunch, take a stroll down the streets of Old Colorado City and visit the locally-owned shops for some unique gifts and souvenirs. If you are near downtown Colorado Springs, a great place for lunch is Panino’s. They have amazing heated and pressed sandwiches. Try the Club Panino with turkey, bacon, and cheese. You likely won’t finish the whole thing, but it is worth the shot.

For a fun evening out and some great food to match, head to the Golden Bee in the Broadmoor area. Start with dinner of your favorite British meal, then sing along to the piano player in the main lounge while you enjoy a yard of your favorite ale! Beware of the flying bees – not real bees, but embroidered stickers that will end up attached to your clothing, and you’ll have no idea how they got there. (The piano players have amazing aim and toss them when you aren’t paying attention!) Be sure to check out the scenery, because the pub was transferred directly from the UK panel by panel!

If beer is your thing, check out Bristol Brewing to try the Red Rocket Pale Ale on the south side of the city or Oskar Blues Grill and Brew downtown to try the Dale’s Pale Ale.

Colorado Springs has so much to offer. Whether you are looking for exploration, high activity, or just cruising through, you will find something to do. Take the time to see all that Colorado Springs has to offer – you are in for an unforgettable adventure!

What to See & Eat in Georgia

A historic cathedral next to two flags with a blue sky and clouds behind them

Along the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is situated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Georgia’s landscape is made up primarily of mountainous regions and lakes. This is a great destination for active travelers who are interested in learning all about Georgia’s extensive history. Read more to discover the best sights and dining options in the area.

Where to Sightsee
In addition to the beautiful scenery found in Georgia, the country also features stunning churches that are a must-visit for tourists.

Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is the center of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Tbilisi. It is also the tallest Orthodox Church in the city. It took seven years to build, and after completion, it was recognized as a symbol of “New Georgia.” A unique handwritten Bible and other sacred items are kept inside the church.

Ananuri Fortress
The Ananuri Fortress faces the Aragvi River and houses two churches inside of the complex, The Church of Assumption and the Church of the Virgin. It also overlooks the Zhinvali reservoir, which provides Tbilisi with drinking and utility water. The fortress is open from 9 AM – 7 PM, and admission is free. There is a small souvenir and snack shop outside of the fortress for grab and go items.

Jvari Monastery
Jvari Monastery is one of the most well-known attractions in Georgia. The name Jvari actually translates to “cross.” This site is where Christianity was introduced in Georgia when Saint Nino grounded a cross with a grapevine. The monastery overlooks Mtskheta, the Mtvari river, and the Aragvi river. Each river flows from a different country – the Aragvi river flows from Georgia, and the Mtvari flows from Turkey.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Georgia. The ten-century-old building has preserved its beauty for everyone to enjoy. Legends say the cross Jesus Christ was crucified on was distributed to different places. Local legends shared throughout Georgia say a piece of the cross and Jesus Christ’s robe are buried on the property grounds.

Where to Eat
Georgia cuisine features delicious dishes including Khachapuri and Khinkali. Khachapuri is a bread filled with cheese. Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling — it tastes similar to Chinese dumplings. Each dumpling is filled with either beef or pork and boiled broth. Try them at Batoni, one of the most frequented places of tourists and locals in old town Tbilisi.

Churchkhela, commonly known as Georgian Snickers, is a traditional candy made of a long string of nuts dipped in concentrated fruit juice. Originally it was only made with grape juice, but now you can taste a variety of flavors including cherry, apple, kiwi, and honey. You can find these snacks along the streets of Tbilisi and Mtskheta.

If you want a trip where you can explore, wind down, and enjoy local cuisine, then Georgia is the place for you. Learn about the culture, religion, and history while visiting the beautifully decorated cathedrals. Taste the traditional cuisine and enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. Georgia is a great destination for history buffs and foodies alike.

Top 5 Things To Do at Penn’s Landing

People walking on a boardwalk next a river with ships in it

Let’s take a trip to Philadelphia and visit the Delaware River Waterfront at Penn’s Landing. This area is perfect for families and creating unforgettable memories. Plan a full weekend getaway — there are a lot of activities you won’t want to miss.

Local Art
Built into the shell of a century-old municipal pier is the Cherry Street Pier. Open year-round, visit this pier to enjoy watching local artists at work. The artists create everything from sculptures and paintings to music and even textile art. Check out the event calendar for special events. I recommend going to one of their firework displays for a great show.

Hope Fence
Share your story at Philadelphia’s very own Hope Fence. The fence is a 250-foot stretch along the Delaware River on the exterior of the Hilton Philadelphia Penn’s Landing. This work of art was inspired by the Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris and was a gift from Dan and Sarah Keating to the city of Philadelphia. You can purchase a lock from the shop in the Hotel’s lobby for $10. Then, write your name(s) on the lock, and lock in your story with your loved ones on the fence.

Fun in the Sun
Take a stroll down the traditional wooden boardwalk and visit Spruce Street Harbor Park. This park is filled with hammocks, pop up food stands from local eateries, games, and views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and old fighter ships. Grab a bite to eat at Chickie’s & Pete’s, and then head to The Oasis for a craft beer or two! Afterward, soak up the sun while you learn to play chess in the park. The chess pieces are life-size, which makes them perfect for fun photo ops.

Where to Eat in Philadelphia
Enjoy lunch on the river at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. Raise a toast at Keating’s Rope and Anchor Bar + Kitchen. Keating’s serves contemporary American cuisine, focusing on sustainable seafood and handcrafted cocktails. One of the best dishes served is the famous firecracker shrimp tacos with grilled jumbo shrimp and a sweet Thai cilantro glaze. It is out of this world! It’s even better when paired with an ice-cold, locally-made Yards Latitude 39 Degrees Pale Ale. Enjoy the view watching yachts sail down the Delaware River.

Would you like to have dinner on one of the oldest ships still afloat? Then you must visit the Moshulu. Docked on Penn’s Landing, the Moshulu has lots of history. It was built in the early 1900s by William Hamilton in Glasgow, Scotland and featured in the well-known movies Rocky and The Godfather Part II. In the present day, it is a fine restaurant with delicious dishes. Everyone deserves to splurge for an amazing dinner with the ones you love!

Year-Round Fun
Next on the list is the Blue Cross River Rink. During the summer months from May to September be sure to stop by Summerfest for outdoor roller skating. After summer, the rink is converted into an ice-skating rink called Winterfest. Friends and families can partake in a fun afternoon of skating around the rink.

The next time you are in Philadelphia, make sure to stop by the Delaware River Waterfront. You will create many memories with your family and friends while exploring all the hot spots and local sights.

Discover the Charm of Switzerland by Train

An overhead view of a town full of small buildings with tree covered hills

Take time to unwind and recharge by visiting Switzerland. Beautiful hills, clear lakes, and evocative corners frame this country and make it so quaint. All its natural colors and fauna will bewitch you. A great way to see unique views is by train. I suggest buying a Swiss Pass or renting a car to travel easily around the country.

DAVOS & HEIDILAND
Start your Swiss vacation by heading over to Heidi Village for countryside fun. I recommend submerging yourself in the daily way of life by visiting one of many animal farms around Heidiland. You can jump right in and experience sheep shearing, milking cows, and horseback riding. Stop by Walen Lake for a picnic with a view, or hike through the Taminaschlucht thermal grotto for a glimpse into history.

LIECHTENSTEIN
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest European microstates, famous for its stamps, fairy-tale castles, and picturesque hiking trails. Although it is not part of Switzerland itself, I highly suggest taking a day trip here. Start in Balzers, and head to Gutenberg Castle. Take a walk around the rose garden and visit the chapel.

Next, visit the Schloss Vaduz, which is the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein in the capital, Vaduz. Last but not least, stop by the Postage Stamp Museum to learn all about the local postal service and admire intricate stamp designs.

GALLEN
Enjoy a day exploring the St. Gallen area including the Abbey of Saint Gallen, The Library of St. Gallen, and the Saint Laurenzen Church. These three attractions have been named an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the weather is favorable, savor a local pastry called Biber in the gardens surrounding the monastery. If temperatures are low, warm up with a tasty asparagus soup at Gallus Pub.

LAKE CONSTANCE
Lake Constance lies within Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. The most characteristic towns in the area are Meersburg, Mainau, and Lindau.

Meersburg is famous for its windmills and architecture. Take a walk downtown from Marktplatz to Alte Burg, the oldest inhabited fortress in Germany. Be sure to tour the Neues Schloss (New Castle) which replaced the medieval fortress. While visiting, try the Silserli, a Swiss pretzel roll.

Next, visit Mainau Island, the “island of flowers,” by boat. The highlight of the island is the Italian Rose Garden, with more than 600 varieties of roses.

If you fancy a sweet escape, take a trip to Lindau, for a delicious piece of Apple Pie or Sacher Cake at Theatre Cafè Lindau. Walk through the historic Maximilian Street which is home to vividly-colored medieval houses. Stop by the Haus Zum Cavassen and the City Museum, and then watch the sunset from the romantic New Lighthouse.

SCHAFFHAUSEN
Next stop, Schaffhausen! The must-see attractions here are the Munot Tower, a 16th-century fortification that hosts concerts and events, the Munsterkirche, previously a Romanesque Church, and the amazing House Zum Ritter, known for its frescoes by Tobias Stimmer.

RHEINFALL
After Schaffhausen admire the breathtaking Rhine Falls, the largest waterfalls in Europe. Jump aboard a boat trip or walk up to Schloss Laufen, a castle overlooking the falls. If that’s not enough, visit the Kirche Laufen, Worth Castle, and Miniatures Museum before finishing up at Schloss Laufen Restaurant for dinner.

GENEVE
Last, but not least, discover the French-influenced part of Switzerland, called Romandy. Start the day at the Parc des Bastions, climb beyond the park to the Vielle Ville, the largest historical center in Switzerland. Make sure to admire Maison Tavel, the oldest private estate in Geneva. Another popular attraction is the St. Peter Cathedral. After enjoying the cathedral, head to the lake to view the Jet D’Eau, a huge fountain that shoots water up to 140 meters. Spend the afternoon in the bohemian De Grottes neighborhood, where you will find cafes and boutique shops. Reward yourself at the end of the day with a delicious fondue at Le Gruyerien. Make sure to reserve a table in advance! Do not leave without trying their homemade desserts – meringues are a local specialty. If you have time, visit the quarter of Carouge for chocolate at Philippe Pascoët before departing.

Switzerland is an amazing country to explore by train – I hope my tips have inspired you to start dreaming of your own Swiss retreat!

Top 5 Free Attractions in Charleston, SC

White houses with wrap-around balconies with palm trees in front of them

Does your bucket list include a vacation destination that is home to delicious dining, beautiful sites, and rich history? Then Charleston, SC, is the perfect place for your next vacation. Charleston has been named the #1 City in America for the 7th year in a row! Check out these fun and free ways to explore the low country.

The Battery
Downtown Charleston is the best place to get lost on purpose to explore secret alleyways only accessible by foot. While you are exploring be sure to check out the Battery, which is a beautiful park at the tip of the Charleston peninsula. Here you can stroll along the seawall to see famous historic southern mansions, White Point Garden, and where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers combine to flow out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The City Gallery & Waterfront Park
Did you know that the pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality? Joe Riley Waterfront Park, just off East Bay Street, is home to Charleston’s must-see pineapple! The beautiful Pineapple Fountain is a great spot for a photo op — you can even step inside the fountain on a hot day if you want to get your feet wet! Next is the City Gallery, which is owned and operated by the City of Charleston and the Office of Cultural Affairs. Its rotating exhibits feature local, national, and international artists. The City Gallery is open six days a week (closed on Mondays) and admission is free to all guests.

The Angel Oak Tree
Coming in at approximately 500 years young, the Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island is a sight to see! This Southern Live Oak has become one of Charleston’s most recognizable landmarks. It is a great excursion if you are a nature enthusiast. I recommend picking up a picnic lunch from Blackbird Market on your drive over to enjoy in the surrounding park.

The Cooper River Bridge & The Pitt Street Bridge
Staying active on vacation is a great way to balance out all of those delicious, rich meals you will be dining on! Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant provides an access point to the grand Cooper River Bridge. The bridge includes its own pedestrian pathway spanning three miles. This is a great way to take in the beauty of the Charleston area from a high vantage point.

For those who are a little less adventurous, the Pitt Street Bridge in the Old Village may be a bit more your speed! The Pitt Street Bridge was once used to connect Mt. Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island. Now a pedestrian greenway, it offers great views of Charleston Harbor, the Cooper River Bridge, and the Intracoastal waterway. It is a great way to experience life under the Palmetto trees!

Second Sunday on King Street
On the Second Sunday of each month, King Street closes to vehicle traffic to encourage visitors to explore on foot. As one of Charleston’s most famous streets, it is home to a variety of shops and restaurants. Many restaurants set up tables, chairs, and booths so you can dine al fresco. The shops set up sidewalk sales for you to peruse for souvenirs. This is a great chance to explore an iconic Charleston location in a unique way!

The Charleston area is a great destination all year long! You can take in a walk along the water and beautiful historic architecture, all while being surrounded by great shopping and dining. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy!

Discover Authentic Flavor in Turin

Two hands holding a pink coffee cup and white saucer

Nutella, Lavazza, Vergnano, Martini, Eataly, Barolo, White Truffles and Panna Cotta. What do all these products and brands have in common? They are all from the same Italian region – Piedmont is the magic place! Located in northwest Italy in an area bordered by the Alps and just a one-hour drive to the seaside, this region’s cuisine spans from cheese and wine to chocolate and precious truffles – a true paradise for a trip full of flavor.

Prepare for a journey in Turin, the region’s capital, as I guide you through Piedmont’s finest specialties.

Coffee
Mornings in Turin begin as they do in most Italian cities, with a cup of strong espresso taken right at the counter along with brioche, the newspaper, and small talk with the barista. This breakfast is around 2€, and you will find plenty of bars around the city. You’ll be drawn to the smooth aromatic sensation of the local Vergnano coffee served at the bar at DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto. They even serve you the coffee in a pink cup and support the women in coffee project!

Eataly
From the hotel, cross the road to Eataly. Turin is the birthplace of this concept store by Oscar Farinetti, which opened in 2007. Eataly provides an endless number of the finest local Italian products and a cooking school, plus they are a strong supporter of the Slow Food Movement.

Book a market tour with one of their passionate guides, and you will be taken by hand to learn the culture and vision of Eataly. You will try the homemade mother yeast bread, watch mozzarella be prepared by hand in the cheesemaking lab, and meet the butcher who knows about every farm his products come from.

It takes around an hour to explore the market, and for lunch after this, try out the concept called “dal banco all tavola,” which means you’ll choose your preferred meat or fish cut at the counter, and the chefs in a large show kitchen in the middle of the market will prepare your meal right away.

Sweet Treats
To satisfy your sweet cravings, you must try a Gianduiotto. These are a mix of ground local hazelnuts, sugar, and cocoa, traditionally wrapped in gold or silver foil. If you fall in love with the creamy, pure taste of these, order a glass of Bicerin, a hot drink prepared with Gianduiotto chocolate, coffee, and whole milk. My favorite places for these sweet afternoon treats are Gertosio and Caffè al Bicerin.

Aperitivo
Now we reach the best time of the day: Aperitivo time! In 1786, Vermouth was created in Turin. Since then, Turin crowds celebrate their pre-dinner drinks, snacks, and gatherings every day all over the city center.

For this occasion, visit Caffè Elena on the corner of Piazza Vittorio. Enjoy your food and drink under the arcades – the furniture and history in this café date back to the 19th century when it became famous among the intellectuals and artists of Turin.

Dinner
Take a stroll through the wide-open square of Piazza Castello, surrounded by royal buildings from the time Turin was the capital of the United Italy (1861- 1865) before you indulge yourself in a traditional Piedmontese dinner at Tre Galli. Located in the heart of the Roman Quarter and headed by Chef Andrea Chiuni, Tre Galli has its roots in Piedmont tradition, interpreting it in a creative and refined way. The sister restaurant, Tre Galline, is just a few steps away as well.

If you are a foodie like me, you will love what Turin has to offer, including authentic food, fine (and even affordable) Michelin-Star restaurants, tasting tours, Aperitivo events, and nightlife that are all easily accessible. You won’t leave Turin hungry – it’s a promise!