Nashville

Country Music Hall of Fame | Lower Broadway | John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge | The Parthenon | Music Row – RCA Studio B

A short drive from Columbus, Ohio – Nashville has quickly become the go-to weekend getaway. If you’ve ever been to Nashville, you know why! If not, check it out. This post only “skims the surface” of things to do in this Honky Tonk city.

Country Music Hall of Fame

IMG_7958As you can probably guess, the Country Music Hall of Fame is full of Country Music history! I enjoy listening to all kinds of music (I’m not just some country guru) yet I was absolutely fascinated with this one of a kind experience. If you are able to tour on a Saturday morning, you will have the opportunity to attend a songwriter session at 11:30am, pictured left. Songwriters perfom in an intimate setting (we were front row), & invite questions from the audience. This is so cool because the writer’s friends often show up to support them. The “country music family” is pretty small, so you never know who you might get the chance to meet! Sonny Throckmorton was the center of our session. He has written songs for Merle Haggard, Tonya Tucker, Dave & Sugar, & many more! Country Music Hall of Fame members Bobby Bradock, Buddy Mise, & other friends were also in the audience –  contributing to memories, & supporting Sonny.


Lower Broadway

IMG_1485Lower Broadway consists of 4 blocks filled to the brim with live country music venues, restarants, & businesses. Hot spots include the Nashville Arena (home to the Predators Hockey Team) and Honkey Tonk Bars like Tootsies Orchid Lounge (one of Nashville’s oldest), The Stage,  & Legends.


John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 presetIf you keep walking down Lower Broadway, you will hit Riverfront Park , which hosts an outdoor venue for summer concerts, a (rumored) unbelievable 4th of July fireworks, & a docking area along the Cumberland River. Across the River Front you can spot LP Field, home to the Tennessee Titans.       vscocam-photo-2

If you are interested in crossing the Cumberland River, checking out East Nashville, or really just want an awesome view of the city (like the picture I took to the left), then walking across the Pedestrian Bridge is an expereince you don’t want to miss. Take the walk during the “Golden Hour” (the timeframe shortly before sunrise or sunset) & you can count on a breathtaking experience.


The Parthenon

IMG_9385The Parthenon, in Nashville Tennesee, is a full scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. UNBELIEVABLE, I KNOW – especially for you Grecian dreamers who can’t quite get there. The replica was build in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today. the Parthenon functions as an art museum in the middle of Centennial Park.


  Music Row – RCA Studio B

IMG_7916In 1955, Owen Bradley and his brother opened the first recording studio on what is now known as Nashville’s Music Row. Drive down Music Row today, and you will see dozens of little studios, many of which look just like homes. In 1957, RCA Victor became the first major record label to open a Nashville Studio, the famed “Studio B.” Lucky for us, we have a friend who works at RCA Studio B who was able to give us a tour, but tours are also available for purchase. RCA’s Chet Atkins & other producers recorded hits here such as Bobby Bare’s “Detroit City” and Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never.”

New York

Columbus Circle | Central Park | Times Square | Little Italy | Rockefeller Center | Brooklyn Bridge


Christmas in NYC:
The locations mentioned don’t even graze the surface of all the amazing things we were able to experience in the city.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

IMG_2411The Columbus Circle Holiday Market, located right outside of Central Park, is the perfect place to enjoy some local bites or accomplish some unique holiday shopping. We spontaneously walked to the Market from The Juilliard School (the friend we stayed with is a dance student there), & are so thankful that we did! Also, right across the street you can see Holiday Under the Stars at the Time Warner Center. Here, twelve 14-foot (illuminated, color changing) stars hang from the ceiling & are choreographed to different Christmas tunes. High energy, hustle-bustle, Christmas vibes. Great experience!

Highlight gifts include:
  • Handmade wooden puzzles
  • Artisan chocolates and truffles
  • Jewelry from local makers
  • Christmas tree ornaments galore

Central Park

IMG_2410Go to New York. Visit Central Park. Every single time. No matter the season, this national historic landmark is always a pleasant place to take a walk, throw a frisbee, & enjoy the beauty of Manhattan while escaping the city high-rises. The best part? Covering 843 acres, there’s no one way to get to Central Park, making it a convenient retreat for locals & tourists from all parts of the city.


Times Square

FullSizeRenderOkay, Times Square. I have been to NYC many times in my life & have always viewed Times Square as the “cool place,” “iconic subway stop,” “face of New York.” But now, as a 22 year old, BLAH. Take me to the artsy coffee shops where I can have some personal space (my bubble).  But for those who love bright lights, cramped quarters, costume-wearing men & commercial intersections, Times Square is for you! Sarcasm aside… Broadway – I do love Broadway shows-  Mamma Mia!, Wicked, Aladdin, Les Miserables can all be seen here!


Little Italy

IMG_2474Pizza! Little Italy ironically happened to be our refuge from the pouring rain (so lucky). We stumbled into Toby’s Public House, soaking wet, & ordered a pizza – half margherita, half del mac. OMG it was delicious. While in New York we pretty much ate the famous street vendor pizza at least once a day but this blew that out of the water (a strange saying meaning that this pizza tasted way better)

IMG_2700Was there anything else besides pizza? Yes. The friendliest people, the brightest colors, & the largest puddles. Oh, & SoHo is right around the corner! So make sure to do some shopping.


The Rink at Rockefeller Center

FullSizeRenderThe “movie-esk” Christmas in New York. The Rink at Rockefeller Center was the one expensive thing I really wanted to splurge on while in the city. Unfortunately, the Pretty Little Liars cast had rented out the rink for a private event when we went to rent skates (& we had to catch a bus in 3 hours). But guess what? Just standing next to this giant (literally massive) live tree was enough for me to feel the magic. & at that moment everything seemed perfect.


Brooklyn Bridge

FullSizeRenderBeautiful views of Brooklyn as you leave the city & beautiful views of Manhattan when you turn around to head back. Besides the most spectacular views of the East River, Freedom Tower, & both skylines, this bridge is known for quite an amazing history.  Completed in 1883, this hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge is one of the oldest types of either kind in the United States. The Brooklyn Bridge experience is definitely worth a brisk walk.

Winter Park

Park Avenue | Scenic Boat Tour | Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Art

Park Ave

IMG_1906Park Avenue, or “Park Ave” as the locals call it, is the Main Street & focal point of downtown Winter Park, Florida (& it’s a brick street, quite darling).  Winter Park is a hub of energy & activity that was originally founded as a winter resort for wealthy northerners—hence the name. Trust me, the wealth is still prominent. The city is one of the wealthiest in the area- the shops are upscale and the restarants are luxurious, making this a fun vacation destination.

IMG_1905In addition to numerous parks, lakes, & scenic squares, shops & sidewalk cafes are nestled side by side around quaint fountains. The little cafe pictured to the right was one of my favorites. Near the southern end of Park Avenue you will find Rollins College, Florida’s oldest recognized college. The campus is beautiful, right on the lake. Rollins creates the perfect neighborhood mix of rich, retired folk with youthful, experience-hungry, artsy students.


Scenic Boat Tour

IMG_1905Winter Park’s hidden gem. Not many people know about this 18 passenger scenic boat tour on the pristine Winter Park chain of Lakes. Starting on Lake Osceola, the tour offers a one hour pontoon cruise through three of the seven lakes & two of the narrow, man-made canals on the tranquil, Winter Park chain.

 

IMG_1906Prepare to see swooping cranes, lazy alligators (although most alligators are removed), swaying palms, & super rich houses right on the lake (lots of famous people). Many of the houses are so close to the water that they have boat garages attached to their homes- the owner can boat right up to their home & park. CRAZY, HUH?


Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

IMG_1905No pictures allowed in the museum, so I’ll just post more scenary.

The Morse Museum showcases the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (It’s the Tiffany Glass Museum!) including the designer’s jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass lamps & windows. Personally, I thought the most impressive aspect of the museum was his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the Tiffany Chapel won numerous awards, it was moved from Chicago to New York to Winter Park. Quite a story!

San Diego

Mission Beach | Sunset Cliffs Natural Park | La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

Disclaimer: Almost every time I visit a new city I am ready to pack my bags, get on a flight, & leave Columbus. Every city is my new favorite city. But San Diego – truly, this is the ONLY place I would actually be willing to relocate from Ohio. The people are friendly, cloudy days don’t exist, & the average temperature is 70 degrees. When you visit San Diego, prepare to fall in love.

Mission Beach

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetClassic California beach life. The sun is always shining, the waves are always turning, & the people are always outside, enjoying the action. Rent a bike & cruise down the extra wide boardwalk or grab a skate board & bring your dog.

standard2The sand is clean and soft & there is SO much to do on Mission Beach -rollerblading, fishing, little restarants, cute shops, colorful homes, even an amusement park.
This wooden roller coaster named Giant Dipper was built in 1925 – right on the beach! The beach goes on for miles (and is actually a sandbar) so relax, take a walk, & see where Mission Beach leads you!


Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWhen I booked my trip to San Diego, a stop at Sunset Cliffs was #1 on my to-do list. Here, beautiful cliffs overlook a crashing shoreline that is to-die for. The cliffs are spectacular & the lazy, sun-seeking seals are a great photo-op (just don’t get too close.) Take time to venture down a few of the cliffs to really take in the atmosphere.

Did you know? As long as you bring your own wood, & extinguish it before you leave, you can have a bonfire on Sunset Cliffs! How fun.

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLa Jolla is a hilly, seaside, affluent neighbordhood in San Diego, California. The beach is beautiful & surrounded by coves that help to keep the wake calm. Enjoying San Diego’s perfect climate includes exploring the Pacific Ocean coast – which is best done in Kayak! The La Jolla Kayak tour guide was funny (cute), professional,  & knowledgable. In addition to exploring SEVEN caves, we saw sea lions, leopard sharks, pelicans, & more. The water was clear. Truly, you could see the ocean floor.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSound scary? I agree. I watch shark week & normally would never sign up for something like this. I must have been in la la land because I signed up. But thank goodness I did! This was the best way to experience California’s surf culture, observe dozens of marine animals, & step out of my comfort zone by exploring the open ocean. This was the highlight of my trip. If you visit San Diego – which you better – you HAVE to get in the ocean.

Niagara Falls

Canadian Side | Fun Facts | Hornblower Niagara – Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour

Canadian Side

IMG_7623While on the Canadian side, prepare for gorgeous panoramas of both the American Falls & the Horseshoe Falls. There is nothing quite like standing on top of Horseshoe Falls (pictured left) with a strong breeze, constant rainbow, & the sounds of rushing water.


 Fun Facts:
  1. Between 1901 & 1985, ten people went over the Falls in a barrel. Seven were successful while three died in the attempt.
  2. Many fish go over the falls, & most survive. This is nothing more than an elevator ride for them.
  3. Erosion of Horseshoe Falls is estimated at 3-4 inches every 1o years. This means that one day, the falls will cease to exist. So you better get here to share in the experience!

Hornblower Niagara – Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour

IMG_0567Basically, the Canadian boat tour (Hornblower Niagara) wears red ponchos, while the American boat tour (Maid of the Mist) wears blue ponchos – Besides that, i think the boat rides are pretty much the same. Once on the tour, the boats will pass each other & the passengers will wave & yell “hello” to the other voyagers! In this picture we are in front of the American Falls near the beginning of the tour.

IMG_0570After dressing in your new red poncho, prepare to get soaking wet & have a blast while doing it. The picture on the left was taken before we entered the falls. Trust me when I say you get right up under them – so unless you have a waterproof camera, make sure you put it away!

Vieux Quebec

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac & Terrasse Dufferin | Fortifications de Québec & Assemblée Nationale du Québec | Lower Town (Basse-Ville) to Upper Town (Haute-Ville) : Funiculaire du Vieux Québec | Rue Du Trésor | Quartier Petit Champlain

We arrived in Vieux (Old) Québec at 9:30am off the VIA Rail Canada. I absolutely, 100%, recommend this method of transportation. The four of us sat facing eachother & were able to complete NINE games of euchre. Card games are a road trip must – they pass the time & we had a blast. Plus, Vieux Québec is compact & easily walkable, so we didn’t need to worry about a car once inside the city walls.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac & Terrasse Dufferin

Vieux Québec is the crown jewel of French Canada & if you’re coming for the first time, look out – there’s simply no other place like it in North America. Much like a European City, cobblestone streets, rich in history, wind through the 17th century buildings, telling stories as you follow. Vieux Québec was founded in 1608 & is laden with small details & elegant charm.

IMG_0455Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is a grand hotel in Québec City. Yes, you can actually stay at this beautiful castle-like hotel pictured in the background.. It is generally recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world, largely for it’s prominence in the skyline of Québec City. In Vieux Québec, you can see the Frontenac from anywhere – just look up into the horizon.

Did you know? King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Princess Grace of Monaco, Ronald Reagan, Prince Andrew, Lady Sarah Ferguson, Charles Lindberg, Alfred Hitchcock, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill , & countless other personalities have graced Fairmont Le Château Frontenac with their presence.

Stroll down Terrasse Dufferin (the wooden boardwalk I am jumping on) to catch a glimpse of the incomparable views of the Frontenac & St. Lawrence River,  During our visit, a firework show was presented over the river, & a large crowd of us gathered around street performers on the Terrace to watch the sky light up as we gazed in awe.


Fortifications de Québec & Assemblée Nationale du Québec

IMG_0400Vieux Québec is the only place north of Mexico where you can actually see a walled city! The fortifications of Québec are close to 4.6 km (2.85 m) in length. This national historic site is very well preserved & commemorates the defence system between 1608 and 1871 in Québec – Canada’s main stronghold during the colonial period.

On the other side of the wall, atop Parliament Hill, you can see Assemblée Nationale du Québec – composed of the Lieutenant- Governor & the National Assembly.


Lower Town (Basse-Ville) to Upper Town (Haute-Ville) : Funiculaire du Vieux Quebec

IMG_0598So what’s a funicular? A funicular is a mountainside, cable railroad. If you look closely, you can see Funiculaire du Vieux Québec pictured below & to the right of the Frontenac – seperating Lower Town (Basse-ville) from Upper Town (Haute-ville).

Haute-ville is rich in heritage with the citadelle, century old houses, historic sites & landmarks (such as our beloved Château Frontenac) & unique surroundings.

IMG_0370Basse-ville is an exceedingly charming area, as it is the oldest of Old Quebec. At it’s center, you can find Place Royal (the historic market square pictured to the right), narrow streets, stylish boutiques, popular restarants, & chic galleries. This area is home to about 850 people. 850 very lucky people. Can you imagine waking up every morning, walking out your front door, & stepping into the 17th century?


Rue Du Trésor

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetRue Du Trésor (or Artist Alley) is a unique site situated in the heart of Vieux Québec. This open-air gallery is found in a narrow alley called Treasure Street. Nice etchings, prints, & watercolors can be found all in one place, & from French speaking locals! If you are looking for a souvenier less tacky than a t-shirt or coffee mug,  Rue Du Trésor is the place. The street is as lively as ever, well lit, & covered in lovely awnings. This is a must-see.


Quartier Petit Champlain

IMG_0482Winner of the 2014 “Best Street in Canada” Award (yeah, I didn’t know that existed either). But it’s true – Quartier Petit Champlain has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Go during the day, & then go back to see it all lit up at night. In addition to the 900 sq ft painted mural that represents the history of the district in 1759, this little street has bountiful “fur” boutiques (Canada gets pretty cold in the winter), restaurants, and entertainment. This area is truly magical.

Vieux Montreal

Rue St-Paul | Rue Bonsecours | Place Jacques-Cartier | Notre-Dame Basilica | Mont Royal

Rue St-Paul

IMG_0267

Old Montreal is European in character with it’s cobblestone streets, quaint cafes, & 17th – 18th century architecture (The oldest buildings date back to the 1600’s)! It sits between the St. Lawrence River and Downtown Montreal. The best way to get around is definitely by foot since the entire area only covers about 0.4 sq miles. Rue St-Paul is Montreal’s oldest street. It runs parallel to the port. This area is full of art galleries, shops, and restaurants.


Rue Bonsecours

IMG_0351My favorite strolling place. Although somewhat “off the beaten path,” this quiet, graceful area seemed to have a story of it’s own. & the charming Chapel at the end of the road was ravishing. To the right of the chapel is Bonsecours Market (not pictured). Bonsecours Market was the city’s main agricultural marketplace for over a century. But for me, this was the first place I was able to try Canadian Famous Maple Syrup! & it was delicious!


Place Jacques-Cartier

IMG_0270Flowers, cafes, pubs, & entertainment. If you are looking for a place to relax, you have found it! Jacques Cartier Square is located in the middle of Old Montreal & is the main entrance to the Old Port of Montreal. It is a car-free zone with lots of street artists, tourists, and locals alike. Here, I was able to friend a local artist & purchase one of his Notre-Dame Basilica watercolors. I treasure it.


Notre-Dame Basilica

IMG_0580In 1641, 50 french settlers set sail for “New France.”  They landed next to the St. Lawrence River & founded Ville-Marie, now known as Montreal. They came with the hopes of converting the natives & creating a model Catholic Community. By 1800 the original church became too small & the ornate church pictured, became – THANK YOU FOR THIS WORK OF ART. Our trip to Canada was full of chapels & churches, but I have never seen an alter as detailed as this. Everyone must see Notre-Dame Basilica. Everyone must hear the sound of the organs. Everyone must say a prayer here for their loved ones.

Did you know? Celine Dion was married at Notre-Dame Basilica in 1994

Mont Royal

IMG_0356Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Empire State Building in NYC, Mont Royal acts as a natural landmark & a way to orient yourself in Montreal. Although we had to leave Vieux Montreal & head downtown (we still walked) to experience the view, it was well worth it. Approximately 263 stairs later – might not sound too bad, think again – we made it to the top. Greenery, music, space… I may not have mentioned the street pianos, but this was one of my most loved parts of the city. Don’t be surprised to stumble upon a beautifully aged, painted piano on any of this city’s street corners. Painted by local artists, these pianos encourage community dialogue as well as a unique spirit. While atop Mont Royal, a young man was playing children songs next to the ice cream truck. Can we bring this concept to Columbus, or what? LOVE IT.