California: “All-In-One” HotSpots

California: “All-In-One” HotSpots

I spend most of my travels out in California ever since we moved to the East Coast. My family and I go back to visit as much as we can. And still there is so much I have yet to do. I haven’t explored much of Northern California, but its on my list. Aside from the beautiful beaches and boardwalks I love finding places where you can eat, shop, walk around all in one area. Here a few of my favorite locations.

“All-In-One” Favorite Spots.

1. Universal City Walk

Before you enter Universal Studios they have a strip filled with restaurants, dessert shops, bars, a movie theater, and all types of stores. My favorite being the Harry Potter store of course. Also one of the best stops is Voodoo doughnuts. And for my health conscious folks or those with dietary needs, they have vegan doughnuts as well. The blueberry cake and raised glaze doughnuts are everything! Check out the City Walk website to see all the events taking place so you can be prepared for your visit.

2. Dowtown L.A.

I love to go dowtown to shop. Its my go to for low price jewelry, sunglasses, and shoes. You can pretty much find anything you need downtown and the prices are good for any budget. I recommend starting on Olympic Blvd or Sante Avenue and then walking down to the other areas. Also you have to go the “The Alley”. Its where a lot of the hidden gems are located like $1 costume jewelry and all natural fruit smoothies.

3. Melrose Ave

I have a major love for Vintage clothing and I love to thrift. One of the main reasons I love going to L.A. is to shop the amazing vintage stores, especially on Melrose Ave. Some of the stores I frequent are Wasteland, Crossroads Trading Co, American Rebel, and American Superior Vintage. Of course you can find vintage stores elsewhere like The Way We Wore on and Recess on La Brea Ave, but Melrose is my favorite street to explore. And for my art lovers or those looking for “Instagrammable” locations, Melrose is the avenue for you.

4. Chinatown

It has become somewhat of a tradition in my family to have lunch or dinner in China town every time we visit. And our usual place to eat is Foo Chow. This restaurant may sound familiar as it was one of the location for filming the first Rush Hour movie. My go-to is the Shrimp and Broccoli but anything we’ve ordered has yet to disappoint

Chinatown also has hidden art galleries, festivals, and more for you to experience during your trip.

5. The Grove

The Grove is a fairly popular and well known shopping center. Endless amounts of stores from Zara to Nike to Ray-Ban. With a movie theater, various restaurants, and a Sprinkles Cupcakes (the red velvet is everything!) its a great way to spend a day in Cali. One thing some visitors may not be aware of is the Original Farmer’s Market located right next door. All kinds of foods to try from all over the world and plenty of shops to get souvenirs for family and friends back home.

Hotel Recommendations:

Sheraton Universal Studios – Walking distance to Universal/City Walk

Viceroy (Santa Monica) – Close to the beach and Santa Monica Pier

JW Marriott (Downtown LA) – Staples Center close by along with shopping and dining

Hilton Garden Inn (Montebello) – Near Downtown

XOXO, Tara Patrice

Escape to Skopje

Escape to Skopje

My trip to Skopje, North Macedonia was one of the most unexpectedly amazing trips I’ve been on. One of my closest friends is from there and invited me. The food was amazing, the architecture was beautiful, and getting to know her family and background made it even better. Here’s a quick recap of my favorite spots.

Macedonia Square

Being an artist I love to take in all the different types of architecture and design everywhere I go. Macedonia Square is a hub of Classical-style monuments, statues, and buildings. One side of square has the modern feel of an outdoor mall with restaurants, bars, and an amazing statue of Alexander the Great that features light beams, music, and a large mosaic at the base. It’s definitely worth seeing, both in the day and at night.

There’s so much to see within a small radius of the Alexander the Great statue. Some of those things being the Stone Bridge, Memorial House of Mother Teresa, and the Macedonia Opera and Ballet. And for those of you who like staying close to everything there’s a Marriott right in the center of it all so you don‘t have to look too hard for accommodations.

Canyon Matka

Canyon Matka was gorgeous. I didn’t know what to expect and even though it was a bit chilly that day the cold didn’t take away from the beautiful surroundings.

The sun was shining, reflecting on the water, and the canyon just made me feel like nothing else existed. For my hikers I would definitely recommend coming here as there is a trail you can go up that gets steeper and steeper (and doesn’t seem to end). There’s also a really cute cafe/restaurant, a hotel, and canoeing. I would love to go back when its warmer and experience more of the Canyon and get the chance to go on a boat and do a cave tour. For in depth tips on visiting Canyon Matka check out Travel Tom Tom’s posts.

Old Bazaar

Like most of my trips trying new food and eating any chance I get is probably the most important for me. Walking around the Old Bazaar we stumbled on an outdoor restaurant with some of the best, fresh cucumber salad I’ve ever had. It may seem simple but sometimes simple is better and I ate so much. And an upside to wanting to eat so much is the US Dollar is worth more over there. Imagine a world where you can pay $25 for a 3 course meal for 3 people including beer! Well that world is in Skopje. My friend and I exchanged all this money thinking we would need it, but we barely spent anything. So another bonus, to the good food, beautiful views, historic architecture, and fun night life you won’t have to break the bank when to enjoy your trip.

XOXO, Tara Patrice

London Calling: Heights & Highlights

London Calling: Heights & Highlights

I’ve traveled to London a few times and still feel like I never have enough time to experience everything. There’s always another place to go, new restaurant to try, or another art exhibit to visit. During my most recent trip to London I got to experience more than previous times and these are the highlights from trip. I hope they help you plan out what to do when you make your way there!

Heights & Highlights

London Eye

One of my favorites places and one of the best views you’ll get on any trip is on the London Eye. Its unlike any Ferris wheel you’ve been on at the county fair. You enter the pod in groups with whoever you’re in line with or you can rent out pods for a celebration or private date. They also have different VIP experiences like Champagne, Wine tasting, and Chocolate tasting. Another part of the VIP experience is having a drink in the Sky Lounge before you get on the Eye. Within the surrounding area there’s also dining, bars, and plenty of souvenir shops. Other iconic stops nearby are Big Ben (Palace of Westminster), Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can also save money by buying package deals where you can do boat tours on the Thames river, Hop-off Hop-on Bus tours, and more.

Madam Tussuads

I didn’t realize until this most recent trip to Madam Tussauds wax museum that they had so many! If you visit their website you’ll see they have them all over the world and there may be one in the next city you plan to visit. I’ve visited the Las Vegas and New York locations before, but this was my first time to London.

I loved Royal Tea time with the Queen. They have her wax figure in the royal gardens where you can take a break from walking around and have some amazing scones, finger sandwiches, and desserts. There’s also a really fun ride that explains the history of London. Its very Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride-esque for my Disneyland fans out there.

Saint Aymes

If you’re looking for an Instagrammable location, amazing dessert, fun drinks, espresso, and a photo-op in every corner, then Saint Aymes is the spot for you. Definitely is a favorite of mine and I can’t wait to visit again. They have 2 locations and their 2nd location offers lunch and brunch options.

Kensington Palace & Gardens

If you enjoy walking through beautiful gardens like me you’ll want to stop at Kensington Gardens. It was once apart of Hyde Park but is now its own space and a part of the Royal Parks in London. As you walk through make sure to visit the Peter Pan statue and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. There’s really so much to see within the garden itself, but I also recommend taking a tour of the palace as well.

Have more questions about visiting London? Leave a comment below or send me a message!

XOXO, Tara Patrice

Hotel Recommendation:

Hilton London Metropole: Walking distance to Underground, Bus stops, Hyde Park, and Oxford street