Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hitting the beach in Miami after a long break

I’m back from hiatus - travel certainly slowed down for me during the second half of the year. I did have a trip to Indy last month, but I was too lazy to blog, to be honest. But now I’m back after what I hope is an annual girls’ destination trip with my friend Jen. Our first destination was Miami for a long weekend – more specifically, Sunny Isles Beach.

The past four days were absolutely fantastic, particularly after the bruising winter we're having! So happy to retreat from polar vortexes while basking in Florida sunshine. I've only been to the Miami area once before - in 2006 with Phil when he had a conference in South Beach. 

The Trump international Resort where we stayed and Sunny Isles Beach were amazeballs in general for 3 reasons:

The beautiful hotel had wonderful service, a fantastic pool and great beach- and pool-side dining options. We booked on Expedia and I liked that there were lots of inclusions. For example, we didn’t have to pay extra for beach chairs, umbrellas and towels on the beach. The hotel is kid-friendly too and I hope to bring the entire fam back.

Quiet, soft, well-kept beach. Even though I only dipped my toes in the water, I liked that we were close to the lifeguard station. I loved running in the sand each morning…sometimes barefoot and sometimes with running shoes.

Great location with lots to do around the hotel. There was a “utility” shopping plaza across the street for anything from groceries to nails to breakfast to booze to souvenirs, and there also were a couple of lux shopping options within a 5 minute cab ride. And, not once did we have a challenging tab getting a cab back to the hotel. 

Such a great trip and I can't wait for my next vacation, which will be in a few months when our who fam heads to Albuquerque.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tips for 36 Hours in Hilton Head – Plus Some Additions

We’ve been back from Hilton Head for a couple weeks, and I’m still talking about it! A good, long vacation is so amazing because you get a chance to truly let go. Incidentally, when we were on our trip, The New York Times published one of its 36 hours stories for Hilton Head. We hit a lot of places mentioned like Coligny Beach and Coligny Plaza (where we biked often), Frozen Moo for yummy ice cream, the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum, and Daniel’s for nighttime outdoor music and drinks. 

Here’s a list of things I would add to that itinerary:

Frosty Frog Cafe (Frosty's) – AHMAZING frozen drinks and kid-friendly during the day

Old Fort Pub – delish, fancy meal with great views

Reilley’s – lobsters on Mondays for $12.95

Gregg Russell’s kids’ show under the big oak tree in Harbour Town

Live music in Coligny Plaza (so close to where we stayed in South Forest Beach)

Clockwise: Old Fort Pub, Reilley's, Frosty's

In addition, bike riding is a huge part of the culture of Hilton Head…there are trails and families on bikes everywhere. Tandems, babies on the back, trailers – we saw them all and tried all but the tandem bikes.

This trip was really active for us. Each morning, since our fam was usually the first ones up, I would scoop them up so we didn’t wake up the whole house and head out for some exercise to kill two birds with one stone. Usually, I’d push them in the stroller or bike with D on the back up to the beach and then run/bike in the sand (soooooo hard) on the way back.
D rode his bike two miles to lunch & back; my morning jogging buds
My friend Kim also organized outings a couple mornings a week for the girls to bike to a barre class and back (with a stop for coffee and some goodies).

Oh, what I’d do for a little surf and sand right now…

Friday, August 2, 2013

Are we there yet? – How to survive 12 hours in the car with 2 kids under 3

Our cheery backseat drivers
I have to admit – I was anticipating some serious traumatization during our lonnnng drive to Hilton Head with D, who will be three next week, and S, who just turned one. For sure, I knew that Phil was dreading the drive. But, I’m happy to report that both of them pleasantly surprised us and were complete angels – even when our first day of driving turned into 12 hours on the road from crazy traffic.

Our secrets?

Splitting up the drive over two days, each way. Each time, we left in the morning and drove during daylight. I know others like to drive overnight, but this worked well for us.

Lots of snacks (graham crackers were our go-to distraction for the baby).

Stops for lunch and dinner so they could stretch their legs.

Lots of toys:

A mosquito-bitten Pickle with his sticker pad and Real Guitar app

I honestly can’t recall any moments of feeling frazzled from backseat craziness – just traffic during the drive down. To combat those moments of frustration, we turned to Waze. Pretty cool to get real-time info from other drivers and even have the opportunity to message with them. 

Screen cap of Waze, a super helpful traffic app
 Totally would get in the car with these two again for a long haul!