Fall Favorites in Charlottesville, VA

 

I don’t know about y’all, but fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, especially October! And my, if October didn’t just fly by. October and its fall month companions, are magical. There’s something special about the crisp breeze on your cheeks, pumpkin flavored everything, and the warm coffee and tea. All of those things are great. But truthfully… my favorite thing about fall, is that it’s the time of the year when I tend to see more of my family and friends, and since I love cool weather, I tend to spend even more time outside. My little home of Charlottesville, Virginia has so many activities in the area to offer during the fall, that I can’t wait to share with you so you can hopefully share in them with your loved ones one day! Enjoy & cheers.

Bold Rock Hard Cidery 

This little gem (well, I should said BIG gem, considering how well-known it’s become in the last few years) is about 40 minutes outside of Charlottesville. It’s one of me and my husband’s favorite places to drink some delicious cider, relax, and take in the view of the mountains. We love it so much that we got married there a couple of weeks ago! (Pictures and post soon to come, as well as a post of our love for Bold Rock through the years).

Seriously though, this place is the bomb.com and the cider is amazing. During the fall months, they have a lot of events with live music, so definitely check out their website. You will also find all sorts of hidden quirks around the tap room and you will fall in love with the decor. I know I have!

Carter Mountain Orchard

Surprise, more cider! At Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, a Virginia favorite, you can pick the apples that are used to make some of Bold Rock’s ciders, find some pumpkins, and the BEST apple cider donuts and hot cider around. Not to mention, you can see all of Charlottesville below from the Bold Rock tap room at Carter Mountain. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the best view of Charlottesville. However, a word to the wise, if you go during the fall, by warned, it is peak season, so GET THERE EARLY. I repeat, GET. THERE. EARLY. Their parking lot is known to fill up quickly, but folks, I promise, it is well worth it. I’ve been visiting Carter’s since I was a youngin’ and I fall even more in love with it each time I journey up the mountain.

At the tap room, you can sample most of Bold Rock’s ciders and there’s even a “cocktail” sampler. The cider mimosa is my favorite! The staff are also very friendly and funny and you’ll undoubtedly have a memorable fall day.

Hike Old Rag

Also found about 40-50 minutes outside of C’ville, Old Rag, is one of my absolute favorite hikes. The views are stunning, but it’s the challenge of the 9 miles roud-trip and rock scramble that make the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains so worth it. Be sure to block off about 6-8 hours to complete it and be sure to bring plenty of water. It is definitely a difficult hike, but a rewarding one, and is a hike I complete every fall.

Cheer on the University of Virginia Football Team

I’m going to be honest here, UVA football, hasn’t had the best of luck in the last several years, but the games are always a blast. My husband attended UVA and the games are still so much fun even though he has graduated. For us, football is a must-do fall activity and I can’t think of anything more fall than a UVA football game. To have an authentic experience, you must sit on the hill with the students and learn the “Good Old” song so you can sing it following a touchdown! The tailgating is great, the fans are great, and you can feel the energy in the air.

Get Outside & Explore

Last, but not least.. I think the thing that makes fall so wonderful, is being outdoors and spending time with friends, family, and my fur baby. Get out there and take afternoon and weekend walks. Explore all of Charlottesville on foot. From grounds (the university campus) to downtown C’ville, to the many parks (and dog parks) Charlottesville has to offer, you’ll never get bored.

Happy exploring and happy fall!

 

 

10 Things to Do When You Visit New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana is a magical, alive place, but there is so much to do and see, so I’ve helped you narrow it down with the 10 things you need to do when you visit!

1. Attend a Parade during Mardi Gras

When you think New Orleans, you probably think Mardi Gras! Despite it being a very popular activity, it is well worth visiting New Orleans during its’ busiest time of the year. Despite common misconception, Mardi Gras isn’t all booze and showing your you-know-whats to get beaded necklaces. It’s tradition, parades, and getting to know your parade neighbors very well (and maybe dressing like the biggest tourist ever). I highly recommend everyone attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans at least once. You can get parade tickets early if you want to sit in special stands, but you can also plan ahead by looking at the parade routes online and plot the best place to stand for each parade. To learn more about Mardi Gras, check out this link. I’ll also be posting more about this later for tips!

2. Get Beignets from Cafe du Monde

The line is always worth it. Cafe du Monde has been serving up delicious beignets and coffee 1862. It’s a great place to sit and relax as you people watch. I’ve seen many parades of jazz bands, street musicians, and even a wedding party parading down the street from this very spot. 

3. Explore Frenchmen Street

I can’t say enough about Frenchmen Street and to be honest, I much prefer it to Bourbon Street, but more on that later too! Frenchmen Street is a lot less crowded than Bourbon and you’ll find more of a local scene there. Stroll down the street following the walkway from the French Market, and you’ll happen upon jazz music of all types streaming out of a number of bars and restaurants. Let’s not forget my favorite vegetarian food in all of NOLA, at 13. Some of my favorite bars: Bamboula’s, The Spotted Cat, and Maison. Day or night, this is by far my favorite place in New Orleans. A hidden nighttime treasure on Frenchmen Street: The Art Garden tucked away on your way to the Spotted Cat.

4. Cheers on Bourbon Street

Despite Bourbon Street being crowded and tourist central, it is a must do for every traveler’s first visit to New Orleans. If you’re into drinking, there’s a lot of good drink deals and good party music. If you’re more into people watching, like me, you grab a drink, find a balcony, and watch all of the more rowdy folks strolling, dancing, doing or showing their body parts for beads, and wait… is that some voo doo man? You never know what or who you’ll see on Bourbon Street.

5. Boo! Take a Ghost Tour of the French Quarter

This is definitely one of the most fun things I’ve gotten to do in New Orleans, and for sure, the most unique AND spooky! We did a ghost and vampire tour with French Quarter Phantoms Tours and it was awesome. It started out with 2 drinks included, and we got a pretty good picture of the evil spirits that lurk around the French Quarter, including Madame Lalaurie, who I consider the most evil of all spirits that loom over the city and her mansion, which is closed to the general public.

6. Walk through Jackson Square

Jackson Square is a very well-known site in NOLA and must stop site for pictures. Right across from the Mississippi River, its iron gates are lined with street art vendors and performers and you can step into St. Louis Cathedral if you need a break from the heat (or rain).

7. Shop in the French Market

If you get a shopping bug while you’re in New Orleans, the French Market is the place to go. After you get a beignets and stroll around Jackson Square, you can shop at the French Market for New Orleans souvenirs, trendy clothes, and even Christmas decorations? Even Christmas decorations. Oh, and if you’re into pralines, there are TONS of praline stores.

8. Learn More about Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World

If you need something fun to do with the kids or if you have some down time during your trip or it just doesn’t stop raining, which is very common in New Orleans, a trip to Mardi Gras World is your solution! At Mardi Gras World, you can get a glimpse into Mardi Gras history, see how parade floats are created, try on some costumes that are worn during parades, and maybe even meet an artist or two while they’re working on the floats in the workshop the tour strolls through. They’ve got a pretty great gift shop too and they offer a couple of free shuttle stops to those that buy a day tour ticket.

9. Explore the Aquarium

Another great activity for kids, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, if full of fun actives and be sure to check their calendar because there are special events catered to kids and sometimes even films like Nemo on their IMAX-sized movie screen.

10. Eat all of the Food

I’ll be honest, for a vegetarian, New Orleans was a challenge. However, the first couple of times I was able to visit, I still ate seafood, and boy did I eat loads of it. First of all, it seems that most of the items on menus were fried. And did I mention the fried food? Seriously though, I’m not complaining too much because the food was oh so delicious. Some restaurants you need to try: Drago’s, Mother’s, Pat O’ Briens on Bourbon Street (and be sure to get a hurricane drink), and Oceana.

This post brings back so many good memories and makes me want to visit time and time again! Again, there are so many things to do in this great city that I still haven’t done it all. Things on my list for next time: exploring Magazine Street and the Garden District, a riverboat tour, the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.

What is your favorite thing to do/see in New Orleans? Comment below!

New Orleans: Something for Everyone

Is there such a thing as too many trips to New Orleans? If you think so, let me change your mind.

I could visit a hundred times, and I would never get over the colors, food, people, music and the unique culture of NOLA. Truly, there is never a dull moment in the city. I’m beginning to think that New York City has some competition for the city that never sleeps. I haven’t taken a stroll down Canal, Frenchmen, or Decatur Street  in New Orleans without a jazz band marching in my path spreading their joyous music. You can’t walk through the French Quarter without seeing a horse-drawn funeral complete with parasols and the many remnants of Mardi Gras past. And let’s not forget the endless people watching from ornate iron balconies with a hurricane from Pat O’s in hand.

Something for Everyone

After my third trip to the “big easy,” I can tell you that there’s something for everyone to do in New Orleans. Which would you prefer? A) party hard. B) celebrate BIG for Mardi Gras, parades and beads included. C) take it EASY and relax with the locals while listening to jazz. There’s something for each personality in your group. I even have some kid-friendly activities to share! Throughout this week, I’ll be sharing:

  • My favorite places
  • Must do activities
  • Must see sites
  • A Bourbon vs. Frenchmen Street comparison

I can’t wait to share with you all that NOLA has to offer! For now though, I’ll share some of my favorite photos from trips past.

A side note:

This is also when I should take a moment to say how thankful I am to have wonderful friends and a fiancé who will drive 14 hours with me. I’m also grateful to my mom who helped fund my first Mardi Gras trip. Lastly, I can’t forget my best friends that live pretty close to the city and are kind enough to allow me to drag them to NOLA on our weekend trips. You guys rock!

 

25th Birthday: Good Vibes Only

Baby boomers say: “Happy 25th birthday and oh, by the way, live it up while you can. These are the best years of your life.”

OR

My fellow “20-somethings” cry: “Oh, my gosh, I’m turning 25, I can’t believe I’m so close to 30!”

I don’t buy either of those.

Let’s ditch the term “quarter-life crisis.”

Why is it that as we inch closer to being a quarter of a century old, we begin to tremble at the very thought? Why is the quarter life crisis even a concept? Sure, I don’t have my shit together every single day, but most adults I know don’t. We just pretend we do. Maybe I envisioned myself differently at 25 (I couldn’t tell you how though. Can you?). However, if we really are scared of time running out now that we’ve blown out all 25 candles on the cake of life, why waste a single second worrying about what we haven’t accomplished or that time is indeed slowly tick-tick-ticking away? I’m not going to lie and say I don’t think about those things. But, why not embrace each second and focus on how much we HAVE achieved, how many beautiful memories we have created and how many moments are waiting to be embraced in the future? Opportunity is abundant and there is a whole world out there for you and I to explore.

On my 25th birthday, I am challenging myself, and you, reader, no matter how old you are. I am challenging the idea of the 20-something woman (or man, for that matter). Do not limit yourself to the idea that your life is possibly 25% over. I challenge you to see your glass as overflowing. I challenge you to be not a 20-something, but a 20-EVERYTHING. What does that mean? A 20-everything is someone who cherishes each day, wants to see everything, touch, taste, hear, and feel everything that this world has to offer. That is how I plan on spending the rest of my days. I hope to see the world and its people and count each day and each new adventure as a new blessing, just like a new stamp in my passport.

If you’re in for the challenge, please follow along as I share my 20-everything adventures.

Here’s the the next 25!