How To Spend 48 Hours In New York City

You’ve arrived in New York City with your luggage in hand and your hopes in store. With only 48 hours in the big city, where do you start? As the city that never sleeps, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of things to do and see.

Lucky for you, New York has something for everyone. Your 48 hours starts now!

Gansevoort Meatpacking District

Photo: @gansevoort

For the shopaholic:

Among the Big Four fashion capitals of the world, New York coined the phrase “shop till you drop.” The optimal day for the shopaholic starts in SoHo – one of the city’s most eclectic shopping regions. From designer boutiques to bargain emporiums, SoHo seems to have it all. After a morning in SoHo, make your way to Greenwich Village, stopping at Washington Square Park to refuel and recharge. The Bleeker Street shopping scene entirely plays tribute to the village’s rich musical history. On the weekends, your likely to catch local musicians and vintage street markets. Next on the shopping tour is the modish Meatpacking District. Don’t be misled by the cobblestone streets – this trendy district defines high-end shopping. Cap off a long day of shopping with a cocktail at the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC rooftop.

Wake up the next morning and do it all over. Spend the day with Tiffany, Cartier, and Prada on the famous Fifth Avenue.

Best food in NYC

Photo: @smorgasburg

For the foodie:

Whatever your taste, New York is home to hundreds of Michelin-star restaurants and authentic dives for locals and tourists alike. We recommend beginning the day with brunch on the Lower East Side. From Sadelles to Stanton Social, this progressive neighbourhood has quickly become an NYC brunch hotspot. Walk off that boozy brunch on the High-Line in Meatpacking District, taking in picturesque views of the city. Still hungry? Check out Chelsea Market for a range of delectable bites and snacks. Time for happy hour. Head over to the Standard Biergarten for a well-deserved beer and a game of ping-pong. We promise your food coma is well worth it and is sure to give you a good nights sleep.

Cross over to Brooklyn on day two for the infamous Smorgasburg food market. As the largest open-air food market in America, Smorgasburg is sure to be a foodie fan favourite.

Top of the Rock

Photo: @msharaf

For the tourist:

Spend your morning surrounded by the history of Ellis Island, accompanied by the Statue of Liberty herself. Catch the ferry back to the city and head over to the Rockefeller Center. Tour Radio City Music Hall and take the elevator up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck for exquisite views of the city skyline. More views? Spend sunset at the Empire State Building, ending off the night with a visit to Times Square. The day may be over, but the action never sleeps.

No trip to New York is complete without Central Park. Wake up the next morning and embrace your inner New Yorker. Grab a coffee and bagel to enjoy throughout your stroll down Central Park. Make sure to visit the John Lennon Memorial, if you’re lucky you may stumble across a private concert!

Best of New York City

Photo: @lizzygra

For the culture vulture:

As a cultural capital of the world, New York boasts a variety of galleries, museums, and theatres. Visit the world famous Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Spend the afternoon at a Broadway Matinee, and cap off the night laughing at the Comedy Cellar. You never know who will show up and surprise you.

Spend day two in hipster-haven Brooklyn. Explore Williamsburg, grab a book from Mermaids and pass the afternoon reading in McCarren Park. You’re sure to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the bustling city. While in Brooklyn, make your way to Dumbo. Often overlooked, this waterfront neighbourhood boasts breathtaking views of the Manhatten skyline. Ride your bike around town and embrace the culture.

Bali, Indonesia Travel Diary: Uluwatu

I’m back with my Bali travel guide. Today, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about Uluwatu. Uluwatu was my first stop in Bali, and was the reason I fell in love with the island so quickly. Located on the southern end of Bali, right on the coastline, it is famous for its beautiful beaches. It is full of eco resorts, concept cafes, beautiful beach clubs, and everything in between. Here’s my little black book:

Bali Indonesia

Food in Bali, Indonesia

Beach in Bali Indonesia

As a part of my collaboration with The Asia Collective, I stayed in La Joya Balangan. The property is comprised of several villas and is the definition of shabby-chic. I highly recommend this hotel to those who are looking to be immersed in nature but be warned, it is not for those who are looking for the comforts of a luxury resort. The villas are essentially large huts which have gorgeous interiors, but also have a portion between the wall and the roof that is open. La Joya Balangan is located right next to its sister hotel, La Joya Biu-Biu, which boasts the most incredible view of the ocean. You will most definitely need to hire a driver to get around from here as Uluwatu is quite expansive.

Where to eat

Uluwatu, like Seminyak, is full of gorgeous cafes, these were my favourites:

Drifter Surf Shop & Cafe: An Australian concept shop and cafe which has delicious avocado toast, acai bowls, and basically all things delicious.

Food in Bali Indonesia

Nalu Bowls: Hands down, the best acai bowl I have ever had in my life. Order the Maverick, it’s incredible. Nalu Bowls has several locations around Bali, but the one in Uluwatu is at Single Fin Beach Club, which boasts a spectacular view of the ocean.

Food in Bali

Restaurants in Bali

Coco & Poke: Also located at Single Fin Beach Club, Coco & Poke offers fresh and flavourful poke bowls.

Food in Bali

Restaurants in Bali

Bukit Cafe: This joint serves all-day breakfast. We ended up going for dinner where I ordered their shakshuka and my brother ordered the burger – delicious.

Hamburgers and French Fries in Bali

What to do

Uluwatu Temple: Located on top of a cliff on the ocean, the Uluwatu Temple offers a view that will literally take your breath away.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple

Sundays Beach Club: Since it is on the coastline, Uluwatu is known for its beach clubs. With limited time in hand, I decided to check out Sundays Beach Club. I’m happy to report that I could not have been more pleased with my decision. It is located inside the Ungasan Clifftop Hotel, where, upon entering the property, you are greeted by a hanging infinity pool. After this, you take a cable car down a cliff to go to the beach. I’ll never forget the jaw-dropping view of the beach and jungle on the cable car ride down; I had goosebumps. The beach club itself is phenomenal. The water is pristine, the music is upbeat, the service is spectacular, and the food is to die for. During sunset, there is a bonfire where you can make smores and admire the view. The entrance fee is IDR 300,000.

Sundays Beach Club Bali

Sundays Beach Club Bali

Food at Sundays Beach Club Bali

Bukit Sari Agro Coffee Luwak: Luwak coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world, is made from poop. No joke. The Luwak is a mongoose that picks out the best coffee beans, eats it, and then poops it out. The beans are then cleaned, roasted, ground for consumption. At Bukit Sari Agro Luwak Coffee, we were offered 12 variations of teas and coffees are grown at their farm for free and charged IDR 50,000 for a cup of Luwak coffee. I wasn’t brave enough to try the coffee, but my brothers really enjoyed it!

Coffee in Bali

Waterfalls in Bali

The Perfect Prince Edward County Weekend

Lover of quaint cafes? Small town enthusiast? Wine Connoisseur? Then the weekend should find you in the loveliest county there ever was. Prince Edward County. Situated just a two and a half hour drive from Toronto, Prince Edward County is a gem that transcends your weekend into the perfect escape.

Where to Stay: 

All the hipsters are staying at Drake Devonshire Inn. Situated on the banks of Lake Ontario in the small town of Wellington, this quirky boutique hotel will make you feel as if you are starring in a Wes Anderson movie. 

Right at the heart of Picton, The Ferg is the perfect choice for anyone that is looking for comfort, entertaining friends, and a pet-friendly environment. Inspired by minimal Scandinavian design, this heritage home will leave you breathless with its historic elegance and quaint charm. 

What To Do: 

Sandbanks Provincial Park

Baymouth sandbars and sandy dunes, Sandbanks Provincial Park has something to offer to everyone. Whether you want to stroll down the white sandy beach, go on a scenic drive if you do not feel like getting sand in your shoes, or for a quick swim, this Provincial Park is a must see spot when visiting Prince Edward County.  

Coriander Girl

A girl loves her flowers, and Coriander Girl is the cutest flower shop in the town of Picton. Grab a freshly made bouquet of flowers or chat with the owner who is just a lovely as her creations.   

Wine Tasting in Prince Edward County: 

Not only are wineries in Prince Edward County pet-friendly, they are also the most picturesque wineries I have ever seen. It may prove to be merely impossible to visit all 33 wineries in just one weekend, so thankfully I did the scouting for you. Here are my top 6.

Closson Chase Vineyards: This winery not only has amazing wine, but its purple barn walls make it a very Instagramable destination.

County Cider Company: Those that are not big wine drinkers will appreciate the mouth-watering ciders offered. 

Karlo Estates: Apart from the fact that this is the first certified vegan winery in the world, Karlo Estates also offer a large variety of wines with the most delicious food pairings.

Norman Hardie Winery: If you are looking to pair your wine with a slice of wood-fired pizza, you have come to the right place. 

The Grange of Prince Edward County Winery: Rustic and submerged in nature, nothing makes you feel as if you are sipping wine in an enchanted forest like the Grange does. 

Waupoos Estates Winery: Offering a stunning lake view and great lunch choices at their Gazebo Restaurant.

Where to Eat: 

The Courage: Casual and fun, this is another quirky spot in the County that will leave your taste buds and coffee cravings 100% satisfied. 

Drake Devonshire: From brunch to dinner to cocktails, you will be definitely coming back for more. Make sure to try their Devonshire Burger and rhubarb cake.

The Hubb Eatery & Lounge: Located in Bloomfield, this farm to table restaurant is a favourite for locals and tourists.

Vic Café: The Vic Cafe puts Parisian cafes to shame with its perfect decor. Whether you want to catch up on your daily news by drinking a cup of chai latte or have a light lunch, Vic Café is my go to choice in Picton.

Whatever the reason that brings you to Prince Edward County, you will not want to leave. 

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A Local’s Guide To Exploring Austin, Texas

We fell in love with Austin, Texas and all of its weirdness. The state’s capital has adopted the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” and intends to maintain the city’s fun and unique identity. Austin is unlike any other city in the South. It’s a little bit hipster and a lot of that unmistakable southern charm.

Music lovers can rejoice as Austin is also known for its world-class live music, playing host to famous music festivals including South x Southwest and Austin City Limits. People flock to Austin to be a part of something different, something special. The consistent warmth of the people matches the year-round warm weather and the city’s energy is always at an all-time high. Siren wants to help you navigate this one-of-a-kind city that has gorgeous sunshine, delicious food, amazing music and Matthew McConaughey.

So get ready, y’all – we’re going to Austin.

EAT

Photo: @torchystacos

The OasisFamily-oriented

Situated on the stunning Lake Travis hills and known as the “sunset capital of Texas”, this restaurant is the definition of “dinner with a view.” The hilltop scenery is unbelievable – it feels like being in a villa overlooking Lake Como. This favourite Austin locale serves up some delicious Mexican fare along with incredible live music Thursday through Sunday. We know you’ll go for the food and music. We bet you stay for the sunset.

Torchy’s Tacos (the original truck)- Road less travelled

Torchy’s queso tastes heavenly so no wonder it has been voted the best in Texas several years running. The secret? Guacamole mixed into the middle of the creamy cheese dip. Any local you ask where to get the best tacos will rave about Torchy’s. They are also likely to tell you the story of the legendary taco joint, which started out as a food truck and has now expanded to cities all over Texas. A true Austin must-try. You can even buy a bottle of Torchy’s hot sauce to take home with you but good luck trying to savour it until your next trip to Texas.

Green Pastures RestaurantStylish/cultured

Nestled on the lush pastures of a 19th-century estate is a restaurant that transports its patrons back in time – a feeling that can only be described as nostalgia for the era of true southern belles and debutante balls. This is the best place to enjoy a mouth-watering Sunday brunch or gourmet dinner while watching the resident colourful peacocks stroll by. Must-tries at this famous brunch are the sweet and salty confection: chocolate-covered bacon and the Southern milk punch: a concoction of bourbon, rum, brandy and ice cream.

STAY

Photo: @fairviewaustin

Omni Barton Creek Resort and SpaFamily-oriented

Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa offers a wide range of activities that caters to all family needs. This cozy family resort offers golf and mini golf, children’s day camp and activities and a relaxing spa for day-end wind-down. Truly something for everyone.

The Fairview B&BRoad less travelled 

Stay in this opulent, white plantation home and get a real taste of southern hospitality. This B&B is pretty, tranquil and a little off the beaten path. It also happens to be dog-friendly so if you want to bring your pup to Austin, this is the place to do it!  Staying here also offers a unique juxtaposition of modern-day Austin because it allows for a look into the city’s past.  The grandeur of the southern plantation homes with their tall columns and expansive porches offer a small glimpse of what once was. Mint julep and a rocking chair, anyone?

The Driskill HotelStylish/cultured 

Our jaws dropped when entering the marble grand lobby of this historic hotel. Located in the heart of the city on bustling 6th Street, The Driskill is Texan comfort at its finest. We love this hotel for its rich history and classy atmosphere. Luxury is dripping in every detail of the decor, from the crystal chandeliers to the immaculate, plush leather sofas in the cigar lounge. The rich oak panels and stained-glass ceiling make this a must-stay for those looking for lavish accommodations in Austin.

PLAY

Photo: @rprfirm

The Broken SpokeFamily-oriented

We couldn’t come to the south and not learn how to cut-a-rug, so we headed over to The Broken Spoke to watch some classic country artists and learn how to two-step with the best of them at the “last true Texas dance hall.” A tip from one novice two-stepper to another: the faster the song, the smaller the steps. Enjoying live music with your loved ones and learning how to dance is one of the best ways to make the most of your trip in this music-centric city.

Burnside’s TavernRoad less travelled

We couldn’t write about Austin without suggesting a bar on infamous 6th Street. Located on downtown Austin’s liveliest street sits Burnside’s Tavern. We can’t get enough of the “Civil War chic” decor with glamorous crystal chandeliers hanging in a row above the bar and oil paintings of historical figures hung on the exposed brick walls. The bar is frequented by locals, rarely visited by tourists. The drinks are cheap, the music is good and we love the young, energetic atmosphere.

CU29 Cocktail BarStylish/cultured 

A little removed from the youthful, party crowd on 6th Street, it’s all about the specialty drinks at this upscale cocktail lounge. Each drink takes five to 10 minutes to make but is totally worth the wait.  For those with a sweet tooth, the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie martini is a must-try. It’s basically dessert in a martini glass. The atmosphere is welcoming and the decor is incredible – exposed brick and floor-to-ceiling shelves full of the best local and imported liqueurs. This is by far the best place to mingle with the Austin-elite and sip on the most unique, hand-crafted drinks.

SPEND

Photo: @oliviabrutto

 

Toy JoyFamily-oriented

With the slogan “Keeping Austin Fun since 1987″ families cannot resist a stop into Toy Joy, located in the heart of downtown Austin, right across from City Hall. This local toy shop’s shelves are lined with thousands of toys to entertain all families. Not to mention every board game imaginable lives here.

Shops on South Congress Street – Road less travelled 

This street is lined on both sides with funky shops where the locals spend their hard earned money. We found everything here, from hand-crafted jewellery to homemade toffee at Susie’s South Forty Confections. South Congress has it all, and quite unexpectedly too.

The DomainStylish/cultured

One word: Nordstrom. This upscale shopping mall offers high-end shopping in a contemporary setting. Nothing says luxury shopping trip like ending the day with a nice gourmet meal, so we suggest Flemming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, located right on The Domain property.

DO

Photo: @lanternfest

The Lantern FestFamily-oriented

The Lantern Fest is something that you must see to believe. Thousands of lanterns being lit and let out into the night sky on a warm evening in October is pure magic. But the lanterns are only one small part of the spectacular festival, which includes a day full of live music (of course), dancing and some of the most delicious smores we’ve ever tasted. This is the perfect event to make family memories to last a lifetime.

South x SouthWest Music Festival (SXSW)– Road less travelled

If you find yourself in Austin in March, you’re in luck. We highly recommend attending SXSW festival. Over 50 performers come to town to share their music and their art. SXSW, although attended by people from all over the world, is a local tradition and thousands of Austinites gather each year to enjoy the beautiful sounds of the city.

Austin Museums & Arts Scene– Stylish/cultured

Austin is brimming with creativity. The city is home to world-class museums such as the Blanton Museum of Art and Harry Ransom Center which houses rare books and historical literature collections. There are plenty of art galleries to roam and theatres to duck into. Check out the Austin Ballet and its prima ballerinas. The most amazing thing about Austin, perhaps, is that even when you’re not in a building dedicated to art, you are surrounded by art even when walking the city’s streets.

DONT MISS

Everyone visiting Austin must head down to South Congress Street and have their picture taken by the “I love you so much” wall. Located on the right side of Jo’s Coffee Shop, this iconic mint-green wall, spray-painted with those five meaningful words in red swirling letters has served as the backdrop for hundreds of thousands of photos. Stand with your significant other, mother, father, brother, sister…whomever, and take what is sure to be your next profile picture. Caption it: I love you so much!

GET AROUND

While Austin does have the Capital Metro public transportation with several bus routes and schedules, it is important to note that the best way to get around the city is by car, taxi or Uber. The roads are not overly congested with traffic so getting around by car is the easiest and most time effective mode of transportation.

City Guide: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - February 5, 2016: View of Ipanema beach and Morro Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers Mountain) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Your curated guide to the best bites, sleeps and spots, as seen through the season Siren lens. 

Rio de Janeiro is the second-largest city in Brazil with a population of 6.5 million cariocas. It is best known for its world-famous sights such as Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain; Carnival; football; samba and bossa nova; and beaches, such as Ipanema and Copacabana.

Rio is a year-round destination, but its high season runs from December to March, when the weather is hot and Carnival’s in full swing. Off-season, when prices are lower and the temperatures not so steamy, runs May to October.

Rio Hotel Room

Solid Mid-Range Sleep:  Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel
Photo: @
portobay
Av. Atlântica, 1500 – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22021-000, Brazil

This is a great four-star option located in a prime spot on Copacabana beach. Spacious and modern rooms, sweeping beach views from the rooftop pool and bar, a decent breakfast spread, and private beach area make this a good base in Copacabana without breaking the bank.

Old-World Luxury Sleep: The Belmond Copacabana Palace
Av. Atlântica, 1702 – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22021-001, Brazil

This property is the crowning jewel of Copacabana beach. This elegant, historical hotel has a stunning facade, posh restaurants, and beautiful courtyard pool. If booking a room is out of reach, the poolside courtyard offers a romantic spot for pre-dinner drinks.

Off The Beaten Path Sleep:  La Suite by Dussol
R. Jackson de Figueiredo, 501 – Joá, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22611-000, Brazil

This high-end design boutique hotel dramatically set cliffside in Joatinga. A good alternative for travellers who want the seaside views without the hustle-and-bustle of busy Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon.

Best Stay: Hotel Fasano Rio
Av. Vieira Souto, 80 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22420-002, Brazil

The it hotel located on the it beach, Ipanema, this Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel can be summed up in three words: glamorous, sexy and sleek. The rooftop pool and lounge offers spectacular views of the beach and surrounding mountains; plus, it’s a brilliant spot to people watch. Rooms are ultra-modern, yet warm and comfortable. Tip: opt for a beach-facing room, it’s worth the splurge.

Seafood Dinner Rio Brazil

Photo: @barespiritosanto

The Best Bite & Why:

For traditional home cooking inspired by Amazonian techniques and ingredients, Espirito Santo Restaurante in Santa Teresa is a neighbourhood gem. The Banana Stew—a semi-sweet stew made with bananas cooked in coconut and herbs—and the Chayote in Xinxin—Brazilian squash and mixed vegetables sautéed with a mixture of ginger, peanuts, cashews and herbs—were inspired and delicious.

A must-try snack is the pão de queijo, doughy balls of cheesy heaven. Our favourite were served steaming at the Fogo de Chão churrascaria in BotaFogo.

Book well ahead for Olympe restaurant, the flagship restaurant by carioca chef, Claude Troisgros, in Lagoa. Olympe remains Rio’s top European dining experience with one of the most innovative tasting menus in the city.

Rooftop Patio Rio Brazil

Photo: @fasano

The Best View:

The best city views can be seen from Christ the Redeemer statue—one of the New Seven Wonders of the World—at the peak of Rio’s Corcovado Mountain.

For those who prefer their vistas paired with a caipirinha, the trendy rooftop pool bar at the Hotel Fasano Rio is unmatched. Go for sunset.

Notable Excursions:

More intrepid travellers can arrange a private or small group tour of one of Rio’s favelas, offering a unique perspective on these communities.

For an adrenaline rush, try hand gliding from the top of Pedra Bonita, towering above the Tijuca National Park at 2,283 feet.

City View Rio Brazil

Photo: @gucopa

Best Local Hot Spots & Top Attractions:

Rio Scenarium, located in the Centro neighbourhood, is a fun and non-intimidating samba bar with some of Rio’s best live samba bands.

Not To Be Missed:

Be one with the locals and catch a football match at Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums, when one of Rio’s four major teams are playing (Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense, and Vasco da Gama). The sheer spectacle of the game and energy of the crowd is amazing.

Have we mentioned the beaches? Ipanema, Copacabana, and Barra da Tijuca, to name just a few, each with their own distinct personality.

Cultural Events:

Regarded as the “Carnival Capital of the World”, Rio’s famed Carnival is considered to be the largest in the world, with two million people per day on the streets. This year Carnival runs from February 5 until February 10, 2016.

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics, marking the first time that a South American nation has hosted these events.

The 10 Best Brunch Spots In Paris, France

Oui, Oui, Paris.

If you find yourself in the city of light (and definitely love) this sunny season, we urge to check out a few of our top brunch spots. Of course, we could point you in the direction of the usual suspects including lunch at the Eiffel Tower or outside of the Louvre – but we won’t.

We recently spent 48-hours in Paris and filled those two days galavanting around the city, hitting up landmarks and local’s only spots that easily reinvigorated our mind and soul. If you’re heading there for a quick add-on or a short layover, definitely add these foodie spots to your must-eat list.

Here are our top picks on where to feast for 48-hours in Paris, France.

Café de Flore

Photo: @mssa_90

1/ Café de Flore: This is one of the oldest and most noteworthy coffee houses in all of Paris. If you’re looking for the quintessential boulevard seating this is a must-visit. This 6th arrondissement café is also known for their famous clientele and superb menu offerings. Enjoy!

Photo: @sto.let.odinochestva

2/ Republique Of Coffee: Mexico meets Paris at this 10th arrondissement coffee shop. With a regular rotating variety of beans sourced from around the globe, you can expect seasonal sips including chai lattes paired with a delicious slice of pumpkin bread.

Le Pain Quotidien Paris Charonne

Photo: @veronicaegelund

3/  Le Pain Quotidien Paris Charonne: We’re not over avocado toast! This 11th arrondissement eclectic foodie spot is turning out some of the best dishes in all of Paris. It also happens to be located in a neighbourhood that celebrates art and culture, so grab your coffee to go and galavant around some epic galleries.

Photo: @lisakastleen

 4/ La Comete: This modern bistro celebrates simplicity with the finest selection of luxurious lattes and buttery croissants. Located in the 11th arrondissement, this charming location boasts an interior that warms the heart and food that feeds the soul.

Photo: @parisinfourmonths

5/ Café Oberkampf: This tiny foodie spot is cooking up some of the healthiest bites and bold cups of coffee around town. We recommend their all day brunch offering or the absolutely decadent Halloumi tartine.

Photo: @charlenedahan

6/ Muscovado: If you’re looking for a no-fuss brunch, this is the spot! From bagels to pancakes and everything in between, you simply can’t go wrong with this American-style eatery.

Photo: @celinablanche

7/ Cafe Kitsuné: With several locations around the globe, this it-girl coffee spot will prove to get you more likes than you imaged if you post a snap to social.

Photo: @jadazjjj

8/Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse: Housed inside one of Paris’s most gorgeous hotels, this Michelin-rated decadent brunch spot is not for the faint of heart. Except high-tea offerings paired with local ingredients sourced from France.

Photo: @thefrenchbrunett

9/Ladurée: Perhaps the most famous macaroon in the world, this French eatery also boasts dishes that will leave your soul satisfied and your sweet tooth smiling. This quintessential Parisian tea room is perfect for a bridal shower, or even a brunch with your bestie.

Photo: @majamalnar

10/Hôtel Plaza Athénée: Is this not the most photographed spot in all of Paris? We’ve definitely seen this photo before! If you’re looking for a breakfast that will fill your Instagram feed with gorgeous shots of food and the Eiffel Tower, look no further. Be sure to book your room in advance, as this luxury hotel is a highly sought after spot.

Summer In The City: A Guide To Chicago, Illinois

If there was an award for a city that takes full advantage of the summer season, we’d give it to Chicago. Once the winter’s snow has melted this city heats up in full-force, making it one of the world’s best places to go out – with your friends, your date, or even your parents (we tried it!) – and enjoy your favourite drink or two. From beach parties to raging city parties to boat parties, to weekend-long-festival-parties (hello, Lollapalooza), there’s a spirit that’s undeniably contagious.

Also famous for its food, Chicago has a lot more to offer than just the Midwestern comfort food it’s known for – foodies will love the unlimited ethnic restaurants nestled throughout the city. As for neighbourhoods you can’t miss, Wicker Park has the best vintage shops, independent boutiques and trendy eats. Pilsen is also worth checking out – this up-and-coming south-west side neighbourhood is sure to bring out your artistic side as you’re surrounded by bold murals and the lively, creative spirit of the area.

For more of our take on the hottest places to stay, dine, drink and play in The Windy City, check out our Chicago city guide:

STAY:

Chicago City Guide

Photo: @thedrakechicago

The Drake Hotel: Bucket list

At The Drake, Chicago’s famous 1920s hotel on the Magnificent Mile, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you’re dazzled by the high ceilings met with crown moulding and grand chandeliers. A stay in this high society palace will make you feel like one of Chicago’s elite. Join Princess Diana, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe (whose initials, alongside Joe DiMaggio’s, are still carved into the bar of the Cape Cod Room) on the roster of the Drake’s A-List guests.

Photo: @sohohouse

Soho House Chicago: Stylish/ cultured

Soho House’s newest location in Chicago’s West Loop is a must for those chic and cultured travellers. The industrial bones of the 110-year-old building met with the intricate design and character – that only the Soho House brand can create – is why we love this hotel. For a panoramic view of Chicago, check out the rooftop pool bar where you can swim on a hot afternoon, or cuddle by the fire on a chilly evening. But the best part about a stay at Soho House Chicago is access to the private members club, where you’ll mingle with the club’s interesting and creative-minded members.

Photo: @holidayjones

Holiday Jones: Road less travelled

When we want to step off the beaten path of Chicago’s downtown, we head to Holiday Jones upscale boutique hostel. Burrowed in the ultra-hip and cool Wicker Park neighbourhood, you’ll be guaranteed good vibes and even better company. Not your average hostel, Holiday Jones – a stay that provides the five-star hotel experience with hostel pricing – places you in the midst of art galleries, live music, clothes to be thrifted, and all the coffee, beer and cocktails you could ever want. Not sure about hostelling it? Don’t worry, both private and shared rooms and bathrooms are available.

DO:

Photo: @signatureroom95

The Signature Lounge at the 96th: Bucket list

One of our favourite things about Chicago is the stunning skyline. So why not enjoy your drink of choice with the best view in the city? The Signature Lounge, 96 floors above the John Hancock Centre (yes, that John Hancock) is a must when choosing a bucket-list-worthy drinking spot in the city. Try out our favourite cocktail, the Signature Room Punch, or choose for yourself from the extensive specialty cocktail menu. Well worth the extra cost, you can also enjoy fresh, local cuisine while sipping in style and taking in the unbeatable view.

Photo: @riverroastchi

River Roast: Stylish/cultured

For a night spent drinking alongside the picturesque Chicago River River Roast is a must. The truly unique drink menu features cocktails titled Illegally Smuggling Ginger and Morpheus is Fighting Neo, as well as a number of fun craft beers. Drinks aside, our favourite thing about River Roast is the vibrant atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if you see a group of young Chicagoans pulling up on their boat and hopping over onto the patio to keep the party going in their private booth.

Photo: @sparrowchicago

Sparrow: Road less travelled

For the city’s secret best cocktails you’ll want to head to Sparrow – a local classic nestled in the Gold Coast neighbourhood. This old-school establishment radiates the vibe of Chicago’s iconic hotel lobby bars. Known for their rum cocktails, we recommend the Twelve Mile Limit a rum and rye focused cocktail with French cognac, pomegranate grenadine and lemon. If you’re looking to keep the party going after Sparrow closes, we suggest you head over to one of Chicago’s infamous 4 a.m. bars, although Sparrow itself stays open until 3 a.m. on Saturday nights.

EAT:

Photo: @loumalnatis

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Bucket list

Chicago is a city that’s famous for its deep-dish pizza. As pizza lovers ourselves, our favourite deep-dish spot is a classic, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. If you’re already crossing this authentic Chicago must off your bucket list, you should probably try the Malnati Chicago Classic, which layers lean sausage, extra cheese and vine-ripened canned tomatoes over a garlic butter crust. Need we say more?

Photo: @asklar88

Schwa: Stylish/cultured

You’ll find Schwa on the fringe of the creative and cool Wicker Park neighbourhood, just outside of Chicago’s downtown. The culinary artists under the direction of Chef Michael Carlson make all dishes at this foodie heaven into a work of art. The menu allows you to choose your own serving sizes, as you’ll be getting fed grasshopper portions of delicately plated meals. There is also an option to BYOB – just ensure you make a reservation, as they won’t seat you without one at Schwa.

Chicago Summer Series

Butch McGuire’s: Road less travelled

Known for its infamous after-hours, 4 a.m. bar status, Butch McGuire’s has a reputation for being a party hot spot in the Gold Coast. What most people don’t know is they also have amazing pub fare. If you’re looking for great food and that won’t hurt your wallet, we suggest heading to Butch McGuire’s Irish pub for some fish and chips, baby back ribs or our favourite, the Butch’s Burger, topped with bleu cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms.

SEE:

Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park: Bucket list

We love the Magnificent Mile because of the big-city feel you get on this upscale stretch of Michigan Ave. For the full Chicago experience, stroll down Mag Mile and find the best dining, shopping, entertainment and architecture. You’ll eventually hit Millennium Park, another one of our favourites, which is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, better known as “The Bean”. You probably have a Facebook friend (or five) who’s taken a picture in the reflection of this architectural phenomenon. So don’t forget your selfie stick, because you won’t want to head home without your own rendition.

Pilsen: Stylish/cultured

You’ll know when you’ve arrived in Pilsen, as this Mexican-American south-west side neighbourhood definitely has its own distinct sense of place. We love the vibrant murals and public art that’s wrapped around every corner and hidden in the most unlikely of places. Visitors will find galleries and studios, independent coffee shops, vintage boutiques, and of course ample spots to indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine. Pilsen is also home to the National Museum of Mexican Art, a cultural institution we’d rate as a must-see.

Get active – bike, run, rollerblade: Road less travelled

If you’re headed to The Windy City you better pack your workout clothes. Chicagoans are very active and can be found running, biking and rollerblading around the city. For visitors, one of the best (and most fun) ways to get around and see all the city’s sites is by bike. For bike rentals, we recommend trying out Divvy Bikes. There are thousands of Divvy Bikes situated around the city for rental easily with a credit card (costing USD$9.95 for a 24-hour pass).

Don’t Miss: The Architectural Boat Tour

We love this tour because of the stunning views the 90-minute boat ride brings. Whether you’re an architecture buff or not, you’ll probably love it too. You’ll sip a cocktail and listen to the unique story of Chicago’s history while cruising down the Chicago River with the seamlessly architected city towering on either side of you. This tour is a must for visitors and locals alike.

Transportation: The L, lyft or Uber

Unsure how you’ll make it around to your top choices of the city’s 77 neighbourhoods? Get acquainted with the L. Chicago’s elevated rapid transit system runs 24-hours a day and will help you get from point A to point B. The L is a great alternative to taxis and Uber, with adult fare only amounting to USD$2.25. That said, if you’re in a hurry we suggest ridesharing with Lyft or Uber as it can take a while to get around on public transit in the big city.

Island Hopping 3 Ways X Thailand

A diversity of dreamy experiences exists within the hundreds of islands scattered along Thailand’s Southern coast – how do you choose just one adventure to embark on? You don’t. With a convenient and rather inexpensive ferry system, today’s traveller can easily check multiple island extravaganzas off the bucket list.

Known as the “land of a thousand smiles”, there is no doubt Thailand boasts some truly extraordinary experiences – both on luxurious and cultural levels – that can quite literally be consumed using all five senses. Crystal-clear blue seas and white sand shores are inevitable in Mother Nature’s artistry along every shore, and dedicated foodies will have no problem finding truly hands-on culinary experiences that extend beyond the classic Pad Thai or Green Curry.

The Thai word, “Koh” directly translates to “Island”, and precedes the name of each of our recommended Thai hotspots: Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui. Take a look at our suggestions below – this island trio is sure to satisfy all of your Thai travel aspirations, regardless of your budget!

Beautiful beach of Koh Tao, Thailand

DIVE IN: Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an ideal first stop of the three islands in Thailand, especially if you intend on obtaining your PADI open water diving license. It is one of the world’s more affordable places to receive this internationally recognized certification, which will undoubtedly come in handy throughout your upcoming island explorations. Expect to come across multiple world-class dive sites as the islands are known to have a wide variety of marine wildlife: from manta rays to whale sharks, to vibrantly colourful fish and coral reefs.

If you don’t have the time to commit to a full scuba diving certification, there is no shortage of prime snorkelling spots around the island that can be experienced either through an organized group tour or on your own. Koh Tao’s Shark Bay is accessible from the beach shore and offers clear, shallow waters for the chance to explore a variety sea life and coral formations – if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a Blacktip Reef shark or Green sea turtle!

Sleep: With warm and friendly hospitality, panoramic breakfast buffet views and the island’s most Instagram-worthy infinity pool, you can’t go wrong booking a suite at the Aminjirah Koh Tao.

Devour: Sink into massive beanbags and catch happy hour cocktails at Fizz Beachlounge for an unforgettable sunset experience.

Experience: With the island’s natural vibe of pure zen relaxation, yoga retreats such as those offered by Shambhala Yoga Centre can provide you with the ultimate detox to strengthen your body and mind.

Aerail Koh Mae view, Koh Phangan, Thailand

BREAK FREE: Ko Pha Ngan

If you can recall anything about this lively island, it’s likely that Ko Pha Ngan is best known for its famous Full Moon Parties. Once every lunar month on Haad Rin’s crescent-shaped strip of shoreline, a low-key beach by day transitions into a once in a lifetime party that lasts until sunup. In high tourism season, the beach populates with crowds of up to 30,000 neon face-painted backpackers, enjoying mixed drinks in sand buckets and choreographed fire performances.

Accommodations run anywhere from $5/night backpacker party hostels to luxury resorts on the pricier end. You’ll quickly discover this island has an abundance of first-class offerings –Ko Pha Ngan is not necessarily all about a constant buzz of music and expensive beach clubs. The further north, the more remote and quiet the beaches are. Here, you can escape to some of the country’s most luxurious resorts while still having access to Full Moon Party celebrations. 

Rest: Experience utmost bliss with your loved one at Santhiya Ko Pha Ngan Resort & Spa. A true gem to the island, the resort offers a variety of stunning private villas engulfed in lavish greenery and cascading pools – the ultimate paradise utopia in Thailand.

Devour: Known for its service excellence and cultural ambiance, The Bistro at The Beach is considered to be the premier Ko Pha Ngan restaurant. Don’t miss the signature Gai Pad Med Ma Muang – a delectable stir-fried chicken dish topped with roasted cashews, chili jam and Phangan fresh pineapple.

Experience: Learn how to cook like a culinary pro while crafting the perfect Thai plate – whether it be Tom Yum soup, Penang Curry, or Papaya Salad. For the ultimate foodie experience, find a class that includes a tour of the famous Thong Sala food night market.

Tropical beach and coconut palms in Koh Samui, Thailand, Asia

WIND DOWN: Ko Samui

The next piece of paradise in Thailand, Ko Samui is the largest island of the three and is well-known to be suitable for all types of travellers. While it is certainly a bustling tourist hub full of stimulating experiences, Samui still offers the freedom and relaxation for those looking to do their own happy wandering. Whether you’d prefer to explore the land by foot or navigate the twisting highland roads by motorbike, expect no disappointments in this island’s magical scenery.

Samui has several waterfalls, although the two Na Muang Waterfalls are the most picturesque. Tree roots form a natural staircase that lead to the base of the falls where massive purple rocks sit. Other must-see landmarks include the 12-metre tall Big Buddha Temple, locally known as Wat Phra Yai, as well as Lamai Beach, a laid-back community that sits south of Chaweng district.

Sleep: If you don’t mind blowing your Baht, Ko Samui is known to have some truly luxurious accommodation retreats. Ease off in one of Code Ko Samui’s chic penthouse suites to enjoy striking views of the area’s turquoise sea.

Devour: Indulge in fine Thai and European dishes at Second Nature, where East cuisine meets West. Whether you’re looking for special occasion dining or a more casual, bar lounge environment, this Lamai Beach restaurant will suit your fancy.

Experience: If you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll have no problem finding traditional Thai massage salons every few steps amongst the town with prices as little as 200฿ – or about CAD$7.50 – for a FULL body aromatherapy or reflexology foot massage!

Picture this: All of the culture, cuisine and warm hospitality found in Thailand’s major mainland cities, but accompanied by endless sun-lounging, towering ocean-side cliffs and palm tree-coated shorelines.

If Thailand has been forever on your to-do list, what are you waiting for? With the country’s various offerings, this island-hopping itinerary can be customized to hit all of your ultimate holiday goals. Between Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui, the Gulf of Thailand has everything your dream vacation desires, regardless of your travelling taste.

72 Hours In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, commonly seen as one of the most culturally significant cities in Thailand is a sure fit for those who love a laid-back city adventure. She sings the songs of her traditional ways, with street vendors, trolley wagons, and a sea of markets, yet keeps you on your toes with a lively night scene.

Here are some MUST DO’s for a quick in and out of Chiang Mai:

STAY: GOOD MORNING CHIANG MAI,

The name pretty much says it all. Centrally located in Old Town, Good Morning Chiang Mai offers eclectic boutique charm for exceptional value. With only 24 rooms, you are welcomed like family. Rooms are extremely spacious and updated with warm presence of Thailand charm. The boutique is set on a lush ground of greenery with a beautiful salt-water pool to relax in after those big city ventures. A quaint bar and daily massage studio is also conveniently available on site. Included in your stay you will also receive a made to order breakfast complete with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee in their beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant.

EAT: With the abundance of vendors, markets, and restaurants, eating in Chiang Mai is something that you do often, with ease and in total food bliss.

TOP CONTENDERS

A Taste From Heaven: Large menu with all vegetarian/vegan choices. You would seriously never know this place is meatless.
TRY: Spring rolls, green curry in a coconut, pineapple boat rice, vegan brownie

The Hideout: Full bodied fresh coffee, healthy sandwiches and lunch menu made with all local fresh ingredients.
TRY: Jaws sandwich and a latte

The Coffee Bull: Be sure to take your shoes off at the door for this charming Thai cafe. Perfect for people watching, this little coffee stop is bursting with rustic Thai charm.
TRY: Drip coffee and hot cocoa.

 

DO:

The Night Bazaar: Test your haggling skills at the night Bazaar located just outside of Old Town. This market runs every day from 6pm-11pm. Night Bazaar is THE place to buy your souvenirs, as you will find most items much cheaper than the day markets.

Tip: can’t figure out how much to barter? Go for the average of 30% less than the asking price and walk away if you need to. You can usually find repeat products a few stalls down.

 

Thai cooking class: Can’t cook? No problem! Chiang Mai offers several full and half day cooking classes that include everything from exploring the produce markets to crushing Thai chili peppers. Whether you are a praised chef or eager beginner, you will learn a thing or two about Thai culture, vegetation, and the skills to impress your friends back home.

TRY: Zabb E LEE Thai cooking school.

Tuk Tuk Ride:

An experience in itself! What is commonly used for taxi’s can turn into a fun way to see the city in a jiff. Don’t feel like taking a day tour on a bus to see the city? Ask a Tuk Tuk driver to chauffeur you around to all the hot spots and you will be sure to see Chiang Mai the way the locals do.

TIP: Always negotiate price with the Tuk Tuk drivers. It’s expected!

SEE: Chiang Mai Wat

You will find several Wat’s (temples) all over Chiang Mai. Beautiful to look at, and immensely peaceful, you will immediately feel at rest in these aging architectural wonders.

VISIT: Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara. Walk around this beautiful Wat and learn about the everyday lives of monks.

Park City: An Aprés Ski Guide

From the moment I touched down in Salt Lake City, Utah, and looked through the small, oval window of my plane seat, it only took seconds to realize this place was magical.

Surrounded by looming, snow-covered peaks, the 40-minute drive to my final destination of Park City was a journey through wonderland – a curving landscape straight out of a Lawren Harris painting. Best of all, elevated 7,000 feet in the Utah mountains, waiting just for me was a historic city with much more to offer than just winter sports.

While Park City is celebrated for its extensive ski, snowboard and winter activity offerings, there is plenty to do for those more suited to the “aprés-ski” lifestyle. With its Main Street full of quaint shops, buzzing restaurants and intimate art galleries, I set out to discover exactly what to do in Park City sans the ski gear.

Relax:

Stay in your chalet and take some time to wind down from the hustle and bustle of your regular schedule. I spent some much-needed quality time with myself in my plaid pyjamas reading a good book from cover to cover. The hills around the chalet were blanketed in snow and the fireplace was roaring, creating the perfect atmosphere to snuggle up with a captivating story.

If you don’t have room in your suitcase amidst the bulky knit sweaters and leg warmers to pack a novel, stop into Dolly’s Bookstore located on Main Street, a tiny Victorian-style home complete with a resident cat. It’s also attached to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, perfectly convenient to pick up a sweet treat to snack on while you get lost in the pages of your new book.

Shop:

Park City’s historic Main Street is a hive of activity. There are blocks filled with unique shops to pop your head into and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces to take home. There are jewellery stores, clothing retailers, art and photography galleries to spend your day getting lost in.

Animal lovers – stop into the Manglesen Images of Nature Gallery to find breathtaking photographs of natural landscapes, polar bear and grizzly bear cubs, bison and more.

Dine:

There are plenty of places to eat in Park City and you’re guaranteed to find whatever you’re in the mood for. For a true family-style dining experience, Main Street Pizza & Noodle serves up some delicious Italian fare. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere and extensive menu offerings are sure to satisfy the whole family! Cheese lovers, order the 10″ personal cheese pizza, you will not be disappointed.

For a fine dining experience and traditional French dishes, Bistro 412 is the place to go. Baked brie, steak frites and French onion soup are just a few of the mouthwatering options on the menu. Sommeliers will also appreciate the impressive wine list that the restaurant offers.

Discover:

Park City has a rich mining history, making many a millionaire in the early 1900’s through the excavation and production of silver ore found deep beneath the mountains. In the 1960’s, as the demand for mining decreased, a change in industry was required, bringing forward one of the best ski resorts in the United States.

To learn about Park City’s fascinating past, from its mining roots to the “Great Fire” that burned down half the town, to how skiing became the bread and butter of the city, stop into Park City Museum located on Main Street. Visiting this museum and purchasing tickets to tour the building is highly recommended. You can take your time exploring the historic building, but beware when entering the basement which used to be the county jail.

Splurge:

Park City annually plays host to the infamous Sundance film festival in late January. Celebrities flock to the ski-town to take part in the festival and enjoy the city’s many offerings. Live like a film star with Exclusive Resorts and stay in one of 15 luxurious properties at Ironwood in Deer Valley. Less than four miles away from Park City’s Main Street, the four bedroom, four and a half bathroom chalets are the perfect accommodation for those looking for the ultimate in aprés ski comfort. 

For those of us who lack the ski bunny gene, not to worry. This ski-centric town proved to be the perfect getaway in the mountains for this gal! Until next time, Park City.