On the Road

On the Road: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a small but extremely cute town with a lot of character and killer food. Aside from the food, it's probably most known for the plaza, which is a great (albeit expensive) place to get SW gifts and jewelry. Needless to say, there is also a ton to do in the surrounding city. We recommend renting a car and exploring as much as you can. Here are our recommendations:

Stay

Santa Fe Motel

Santa Fe Motel and Inn. This motel is extremely affordable and within walking distance from the plaza. The rooms are spacious and have many cute details all over the property; from the dried peppers in the above photo to little SW tiles hanging in the rooms. The breakfast is free and plentiful and served in a little SW decorated space with a burning fireplace to keep you warm on cool desert mornings.

Eat & Drink

Estrella Winery Santa Fe

New Mexico is home to quite a few vineyards. We recommend checking out the cute and quaint Estrella del Norte winery. We love their dessert mole wine. It's spicy and pairs perfectly with a little chocolate on the side.

Jambo Café, an African restaurant by head chef Ahmed Obo, is such a town highlight! Ahmed is so kind and humble and happy when people stop by and visit with him. We recommend ordering the combination plate (which includes chicken curry, goat stew, and coconut lentils) so you can try a bit of everything, which is all savory and delicious! 

Café Pasqual's is located by plaza shopping, so you can stop in while you are browsing the stores. It's the best place to get your SW food fix! You can't go wrong with anything on the menu although our insider advice would be to get the chicken breast sandwich.

The Shed is an extremely popular spot to visit while in Santa Fe. They serve some of the best red chili and margaritas in the city and the space is extremely cute with outdoor seating. It can be extremely busy so be prepared for a wait if you are arriving at a popular time. If you can't get in, try La Choza, its sister restaurant, which is equally good and less known by the tourists.

Do

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs is about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. You can stay here at it's hotel, but you can also just visit for the day. They have eleven different pools (with four different minerals!) all of varying temperatures and they even have a mud pool, where you cover yourself in mud, let it bake on you in the sun and then soak in a mud pool. It's wonderful and relaxing.

Bandelier National Monument Santa Fe

Bandelier National Monument is where you can see dwellings from the ancestral pueblo people dating back 11,000 years and a variety of their Petroglyphs (cave drawings). It is truly incredible and can easily be seen following a short hike.

Tent Rocks Santa Fe

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. This hike is fairly easy (it gets a little steep towards the end, but it's mostly flat) and takes your through unique slot canyons with views of the interesting cone-shaped rock formations. It's a must. We recommend going early to avoid the heat and crowds.

 Giant Robot at Meow Wolf

Giant Robot at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf. It is hard to explain this place. It's part art installations and part mystery solving and the whole thing is just a trip. Go into this experience with an open mind and plenty of time to explore. The show changes from time to time, but regardless of what is currently there, it's worth a visit.

Take the Turquoise Trail south from Santa Fe to the cute town of Madrid. There is a small strip of road lined with the cutest art shops and restaurants. Check out Sugarman's Little Chocolate Shop for some amazing chocolate bark.

santa fe
 A petroglyph just outside of Santa Fe

A petroglyph just outside of Santa Fe

 

 

Rain or Shine on the Road: Las Vegas, Nevada

Oh Las Vegas. You crazy animal, you. We love you, but we hate you. We are pretty much done with you after three days, but you always know how to show us a good time. Now, we realize there is a ton of different ways to see Vegas. Our little guide is steering clear of the night clubs, pool parties, and over the top excess. We are pretty sure you can figure out how to get into some trouble if you choose (no judgement). Instead we are focusing on some lesser-known spots.

Stay

There are two main options when staying in Vegas. You can stay on the strip (option A), which is very large and, while walkable, will take you a while to maneuver. Staying on the strip gives you access to all of the big hotels, which are fun to stroll. You can also stay in downtown Vegas on Fremont Street (option B) , which is smaller and less crowded, but still has similar bells and whistles. We have given options for what to do in both areas. 

Skylark Lounge

If you are wanting to stay on the strip, we like Mandalay Bay for two reasons. One, it has an amazing pool! The pool features a lazy river where you can rent rafts and float, and it also has a tide pool complete with a beach. Another perk of this hotel is it has a bar called the Skyfall Lounge located at the top of the Delano Hotel (on the same property). Due to the nature of the hotel’s location (at the end of the strip), Skyfall Lounge boasts impressive views of the strip in all its neon glory. It’s a great place to grab a pre-dinner drink. The only con to this hotel is that because it’s at the very end of the strip, you will have a long hike to casinos located farther down the strip or you’ll have to catch a cab.

Fremont Experience

If you would rather experience Fremont Street in downtown Vegas, you can’t go wrong with the classic Golden Nugget. This hotel is affordable, located right on the Fremont Experience strip and has a shark tank pool. That’s right, the pool has a shark tank right in the middle of it, and it features a slide that zips through the tank! 

Eat

The Golden Steer steakhouse is a real gem and on many Las Vegas best-of lists. It's a block from the strip at the very end by the Stratosphere and was a regular spot for Elvis, Sinatra, and Muhammad Ali. It has a definite old-school, lounge-y, dark feel to it and the food is outstanding. All of the steaks are winners, but make sure you get the house-made Caesar salad, which is made on the spot at your table with anchovies and an egg yolk.

Eat Las Vegas

Make sure to factor in time to grab a meal downtown at Eat. This restaurant is a must stop. Chef Natalie Young serves up delicious, high quality, soul food for breakfast and lunch at this super cute spot. We went for breakfast and had the shrimp and grits plus the truffled egg sandwich. Both were out of this world, and the coffee from Mothership Roastworks is smooth and delicious. 

We also like to grab a slice of pizza at Secret Pizza at the Cosmopolitan for lunch (it gets crowded late night, so lunch is best). This place is a true secret as it literally has no name, no signage, no website, and no phone number. It takes some serious sleuthing to find it, but it’s well worth the hunt. Head to the top floor of the Cosmopolitan (not the guest rooms, the top floor lobby which is the 3rd floor) and look for the hallway with pictures lining the walls. At the end of the hallway, you'll find this tiny little pizza spot with some of the city's best slices. You have to take the slices to go (there are only a few bar stools in the actual restaurant), but there are couches just outside the hallway where you can enjoy your pie.

Sushi Roku is located in Caesar’s and offers world class sushi. Enough said. We also love the shishito peppers!

If you are looking for another off-the-beaten-path dinner option, we love Casa Di Amore. You’ll have to take a cab or drive to this place, or they do offer free shuttle service to and from your hotel if you book early enough. It's worth the travel time! This is another laid back restaurant full of Italian classics. The restaurant is covered with interesting pictures of Vegas back in the days of the Rat Pack and a lounge singer covers classic tunes while you dine.

Peppermill

Our favorite place for a nightcap has to be The Peppermill. This restaurant/bar is located pretty close to Circus Circus at the end of the strip. To be honest, we have never eaten in the diner. We have heard great things about it, but we always beeline straight for the Fireside Lounge, which is attached to the restaurant. The lounge has a large fire pit in the middle of the bar surrounded by couches, and the whole lounge is decorated in crazy, bright pink flowers. The bartenders have been around forever and will serve you a stiff drink while you play video poker at the bar or watch one of the TVs showcasing music videos from every era. We go every time we are in town.

Do

After dinner, we like to head to the strip for a night of wandering and people watching. We like to watch the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel (a crowd favorite and free), and do a little bowling at Brooklyn Bowl, which is a bowling alley and concert venue! If you need a late night treat, the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM is located next to Brooklyn Bowl and a fun way to get dessert (yes, it is a essentially a cupcake vending machine, the future is here people!). Walking the strip provides endless entertainment as there is gambling around every corner, impersonators to photograph, and street musicians of every flavor.

Sprinkles Cupcake

Make a reservation for the Neon Museum during the day. This place is a museum/graveyard for all the old neon signs from Vegas' early days. It’s definitely a unique spot with plenty of photo-ops! We recommend making reservations as early as you can, as this place tends to book up quickly. You’ll have to grab a cab or drive to this location as it’s not walking distance from either downtown or the strip.

Slotzilla

The strip is a great place to spend your afternoon and evening, but we also love the Fremont Experience. Fremont Street is like a mini strip. It’s outdoors, but it’s covered with air conditioning! It’s easily walkable (everything is much closer together than on the strip) and it has free bands, impersonators, sidewalk drinks, and, of course, gambling. They have the most spectacular light show starting at 9pm. It runs on the hour, every hour and is synced to songs from a variety of artists. They also have the Slotzilla Zip Line that runs the entire length of the Fremont Experience. There are two options: a lower, shorter zipline for $20 or a higher, longer zipline for $40. Go with the big one!

Seven Magic Mountains

If you have a car and love art, you must drive the 10 miles into the desert to check out Ugo Rondinone’s public art installation called Seven Magic Mountain. The art features seven boulder-stacked totems painted in bright, day-glow colors. It’s beautiful and creates a shocking display against the dry desert landscape. It’s only going to be displayed for 2 years (ends May of 2018), so the time to go is now!

Container Park

Container Park, a park filled with shops, restaurants and a playground for kids made entirely out of shipping containers. They have a lot of neat stores selling unique products and a crazy praying mantis sculpture out front that shoots fire from its antennas. Enough said. And if we’re on the subject of weird things, find the Berlin Wall while you are here! It's in the men's room located right inside the Main Street Station Casino. The wall behind the urinals is actual pieces of the real Berlin Wall (covered in Plexiglass to protect it from bathroom-users). It’s just one of those rare and weird things that makes Vegas so great.

Last but not least, there is always a ton of different shows to see. Our suggestion would be to catch any of the shows by Cirque du Soleil, shows so memorizing you’ll leave there in complete awe no matter which one you see!

Rain or Shine on the Road: Moab, Utah

It's pretty obvious that we love the Pacific Northwest seeing as how we have dedicated our entire website to it. Like most people, though, we also love vacation! We are curious explorers, and we both spend a great deal of time traveling outside of the Northwest. We thought it would be fun to occasionally share our thoughts about place we have been. Up first, Moab, Utah!

Moab is a beautiful area of the U.S. known for its unique red rock formations, incredible hiking, and outdoor recreation. If you only have a few days in the area, here is what we recommend:

 Delicate Arch Rock

Delicate Arch Rock

  • Hike to Delicate Arch Rock in Arches National Park. The park has a plethora of places to explore, but if you only have a small amount of time, the Delicate Arch is a (somewhat) easy hike that will take you to a very famous Moab landmark.
 The Canyonlands view from Dead Horse State Park

The Canyonlands view from Dead Horse State Park

  • Drive to Dead Horse State Park to see the incredible view of the Canyonlands that rivals the Grand Canyon. If you don't have time to explore all of the Canyonlands National Park, then you can catch all the beauty from this one spot. Bonus points if you get up early and go for sunrise. Just don't forget coffee.
 Hwy 128

Hwy 128

  • Drive the scenic Hwy 128 and pull over to check out the unique formations of Fisher Towers. This highway is one of the most scenic in the world and will allow you to see Moab in all its red rock glory. Many movies have been filmed in this location due to the beautiful backdrop (Thelma and Louise for starters!)
 Castle Creek Winery

Castle Creek Winery

  • Visit Castle Creek Winery. Who knew grapes could grow in the desert?!?! They do and they are delicious. The winery is located along Hwy 128, so it's an easy stop along your scenic drive. There is a movie museum located in the lodge next door that showcases all the films that have been made in the area! It's fun and free.
 Morning Glory Arch

Morning Glory Arch

  • Hike to Morning Glory Arch. Also located on Hwy 128, this is an easy hike (four miles roundtrip) and will take you to one of the longest natural bridges in the world! It's a pretty hike that will take you across a creek bed multiple times, past cactuses, and across rock slabs. If you are you lucky, you might see climbers propelling down the bridge.

  • Eat a delicious breakfast at Eklecticafe. To be honest, the town of Moab is small and somewhat unimpressive, but we loved the charm of Eklecticafe. This cute, local spot has a diverse menu and wonderful coffee. It's decorated with neat knickknacks and garden art.

  • Grab a burger and shake at Milt's Stop and Eat. This place is a local favorite and the oldest restaurant in Moab. It's a great deal and all of the meat is grass-fed and hormone-free. Eat on the patio and enjoy the Moab air.