Boston and Cape Cod: Weekend Getaway Recap

img_7790For the past few years, I’ve gone on girls’ weekend trips which usually involves a running event, tons of good food and drinks, old friends and new ones too.  So far we have been to Aspen , San Francisco and Napa and now Boston/Cape Cod. Getting together with your girls is so important. It’s a way to catch up, relax, rejuvenate and inspire. To determine the destination, we look at a few key features:

Can we all travel there easily? Our trips are usually long weekends so easy locations are a must. This year we had travelers from Jacksonville, Denver, Boulder and San Francisco. We were all on different flights to take advantage of mileage points and maximize our time there, so location was key.   I flew Jetblue to Boston and Southwest back, both legs on points… FREE flights! <– Click here to get the Southwest card and earn 50K points!  I’d consider that an easy travel location!  To top it off, I flew in style with my Stella & Dot arm party! So glad my pyramid watch arrived just in time for the trip!

img_7794Second, is there a running event we can do while there? (Because what’s a girls trip without an excuse to wear tutus). We found the Zooma Cape Cod woman’s “fitness weekend” and booked out flights! Although this was supposed to be a half marathon which turned into an untimed race, turned into a group run with your friends, we still had a great time. I was disappointed that the race could not come together in time with permits and all that mess, but I still enjoyed out little mock run around the town, chair massages and beach yoga.  Plus, I was in no shape whatsoever to run a half marathon. 🙂

Will lodging and transportation work out for the group? Is a hotel or Airbnb going to be the best? We used Airbnb for both our night stay in Boston as well as 3 nights in Cape Cod. Our stay in Falmouth was so lovely. Bill’s Falmouth home had everything we needed and more. He was so accommodating to us, answering all questions we had and giving us tips along the way. I hope to make it out to Cape Cod again some day, and would definitely stay here again. It was perfect or our group and would be a great family vacation place too! 

img_7793Does the location have fancy foods and delicious drinks? “Give me lobsta and chowda.” New England is the Mecca of seafood in the continental US in my book now. Hands down.  I had everything including crab cake and salmon sandwiches, oysters, lobsters, shrimp, lobster rolls, clam chowder and even muscles. These people can cook!!  I also had cupcakes from shops on Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard. The frosting was on point on all that I tried- peanut butter, mint and cream cheese. The carrot cake didn’t impress but hey they can’t be amazing at all things, right?

 

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Lastly we look for a location with fun things to do and see. Since I had never been to Boston I was super excited to learn about the history. Boston fills the pages of history books and now I got to see it! We did a hop on hop off trolley tour and harbor cruise, toured Fenway Park and got lost among the skyscrapers, underground tunnels and weird parking situations. When touring new cities, check Groupon for tours!  We did the Cityview Trolley Tour and it was awesome! Oh and then there was a cannoli. I mean the best-cannoli-I’ve-ever-had-in-my-life. That merits its own blog post, but I’ll keep it short- mainly because I want one right now and this is making me hungry.  Mike’s pastry, home of all the different types of cannolis you can dream of, is a cash only establishment in the heart of Boston’s Little Italy. Thank goodness I only carried a small bit of cash or I would have bought a ton! 

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In Cape Cod we explored the little town of South Falmouth, relaxed on the beach and checked out a few local restaurants.  I was so thankful out Airbnb was within walking distance to all of that! 

On our last full day of vacation, we hopped on the Island Queen ferry and took a short boat ride to Martha’s Vineyard, docking in Oak Bluff. We biked from Oak Bluff to Edgertown, stopping along the way for sightseeing pictures, ate incredible seafood right on the way, walked around a lighthouse then found a little brewery for a refreshing summer ale afternoon drink. Not going to lie, my butt was a little sore from the biking!!  Oh and, bike rentals were so cheap! I highly recommend this place. The staff are super helpful with directions and activity suggestions too!

img_7797I said before our girl time is so important. We talked about goals and what we want to accomplish before our next girls trip. I have too many but I’ll focus on two- travel to Colorado in the spring/summer and work less to enjoy life more.

So where’s the next destination? After throwing not around ideas, I think we’ve settled on the Oregon Coast! We hear great food, wine and nature fill that area of the country! 

What cities do you think are great for the until ate girls getaway?

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Napa: Running Swag & Wine Tastings

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This year’s annual girl’s trip lead us to Napa, CA for the Zooma Women’s Half on June 28th.  This was my second half marathon and second destination run.  Last year, I ran the Subaru Distance Classic Half in Jax on Thanksgiving Day and also a women’s 5k in Chicago!  Napa was the perfect girls destination weekend trip!  What’s more to love than great food, amazing wine and laughter with wonderful friends?  Oh maybe perfect weather… Napa had that too!

I took hundreds of pictures and have way too much to say about Napa and all that wouldn’t even do this city justice.  If you love wine, this place is definitely worth the trip!!  In fact, I don’t think you can do it all in one trip and I already have a list of places to see next time!  Napa is about a 1 – 1.5 hour drive outside San Francisco (if no traffic) but feels like it’s a completely different world.  The weather perfect… sunny, warm and low humidity ( <— according to my standards), the people are extremely nice (they drink all day) and calories don’t count!

So here’s a short recap of our weekend and my favorites of this trip!

napa-fume-bistroFirst things first… drink wine.  Eat lunch.  Check and check.  Right around the corner from our hotel, the Napa Winery Inn, was Fume Bistro, a delicious restaurant with great outside seating.  This place was great for late night cocktails, early lunch and everything in between!  We ended up eating here at least twice and brought our own bottle of wine the last night.

So the wine tours (and amazing food) planning process was well under way!

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The first night we  ate dinner at Il Posto, and let me just say, OH MY GOODNESS Italians sure do know how to cook.  The desserts…. well we couldn’t pick just one so we got three… My favorite, hands down, the affogato.  It just sounds Italian, right?! Affogato!  Affogato what I ate for dinner because this dessert was so delicious!

  •  Affogato – vanilla bean gelato, espresso
  •  Tiramisu – coffee, ladyfingers, mascarpone
  • Fiorello’s Sorbeto – strawberry

The next morning we got up super early (thank goodness for carb-loading the night before!) and ran a half marathon!

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This was the first time the  Zooma Women’s Half Marathon Race Series held a race in Napa, Ca.  Seriously, what’s more enticing to women than beautiful weather and wine!? I know, feeling super girly and fun with awesome women and awesome tutus from Tough Girl Tutus!  I love, love Tough Girl Tutus.  This was my first order from this company but I have since placed a second order.  The tutu really is fit for a runner and the colors are so much fun!  I emailed Tough Girl Tutus about shipping times and their response was super helpful.

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The course was beautiful so we thought, why not take a few snazzy pics?! I used my Jenny Collection Handy 10 water bottle during the full 13.1 miles!  This was a great size for the race and allowed me to hydrate with Gatorade between water stops.    I actually run with this often because I hate searching for fluids on runs, especially in Florida!

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After the race, I was feeling pretty tired but the thought of wine tours and more amazing food was enough to keep me going… and so we went!  Off to Yountville!  I would definitely stay in this little town within the Napa Valley.  It has great restaurants and many wine shops with tastings on the main street.

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Wine tasting…

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The last full day was even better!  We went on two tours of vineyards and both could not have been more different from each other.

napa-bell-windery-clone-6Bell Wine Cellars was stunning!  The grounds are beautiful and we even got to drink wine and play bocce ball on the lawn… how fancy can you get?!  I loved learning about the wine making processing and our tour-guide-tasting-teacher-master-wino-extraordinaire, Elise, made it such an enjoyable experience.  <— the wine might have helped a little too 🙂

 

Our next stop was a crazy-interesting-must-go-to-see-for-yourself winery.  Raymond Vineyards.  The wine was amazing, the atmosphere even better.  I don’t think I’m a wine connoisseur and nor can I comment on wine tasting other than my own preference but Napa wine is definitely top notch!

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I feel alittle wine-isticated (<— note to self, not a wino if you use that term!) after this trip and every glass I’ll remember, swirl and sniff!

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Not sure how the next girl’s trip can top this one, but I can’t wait to find out!  Any recommendations for destination races?

 

 

San Francisco: tourist for the day

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“Hey, dude!” When I think of San Francisco, I think of Michelle Tanner on Full House, hilly roads and cable cars.  I spent two nights in San Francisco as the start of a (now annual) girls trip! The final destination was Napa, CA for the Zooma Women’s Half Marathon and lots of wine tasting <– let’s be honest, we really just went for the wine…
San Fran is probably one of my favorite cities. (Chicago summers being at the top of the list right now) If you want the beach, head south a little. Redwoods/nature/hiking, drive north. City tourist-for-a-day and wine connoisseur are fun roles to play.  The food is pretty spectacular and the sights are one of a kind.
This trip was a girl’s trip.  Translation – tons of chatting, wine and laughter.  I had far too much fun and took far too many pictures to post everything so I’ve listed my “top 10” San Fran moments…

1 – Running the Golden Gate Bridge (FOR FREE!)

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It’s not everyday that I get to wake up and go for a jog over one of the most popular bridges in the world ( <— my opinion).  The run/jog/picture-taking-session was amazing!  The San Fran side was very foggy and we couldn’t even see the top of the bridge, the water or the other side!   Parking, running and taking a ton of pictures were all free!

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Once we ran the 1.7 miles across the bridge, the sky cleared and the views were amazing!  The run was a little loud from the traffic, boats and horns and the air was definitely polluted with car emissions, but this is one run I will never forget!  So cool!

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2 – Air BNB

We stayed in the city two nights and most of the hotels we found were super expensive, sold out or yucky.  One of our friends mentioned Air BNB and this proved to be the BEST thing ever!  I didn’t take any pictures of our cute little abode, but it was perfect! The Sunny Apt City View, Qn Bed, Parking from Ms. Rita was wonderful!   Ms. Rita was so responsive and her rental was in a great location. Not too far from the city but far enough to get out of the chaos.  Parking was free and the bathroom was renovated and had a bidet… (google it if you need to… I did!)  I would definitely recommend this rental to others and will use AirBNB for the next trip!

3 – El Techo de Lolinda

El Techo de Lolinda is the a lively, fun, delicious rooftop bar in Mission district with a cool view of San Fran.  It’s mainly tapas and the best La Paloma I’ve ever had!  The atmosphere was so great!  The music was awesome (those great 80s and 90s hits!) and the food so incredible.

4 – Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl from Boudin

I love the piers in San Fran. Actually, I think everyone loves the piers, specifically Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf because I felt like every tourist in San Fran was there.  We tried to visit Alcatraz but the next available tickets weren’t until the middle of July!  It sort of felt like the chaos of Disney World but with the famous clam chowder bread bowl in the middle, it’s definitely worth it!  Boudin Bakery is a must visit while in San Fran.  The bread bowls are like Philly Pretzels in PA… need I say more?!

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5 – Chocolate!

ghirardelli-squareSan Fran tourist won’t want to miss a stroll through Ghirardelli Square, where loving  chocolate is a prerequisite.  Although there’s no formal tour to see, the gift shops have a few old machines (this one in the picture had real chocolate processing in it!).  Of course, the Ghirardelli employees with their hats and aprons are in every shop giving out a sample as you walk in.  There were 3 separate shops in the square.  I found all 3.  <— and yes, had 3 samples of the mini squares!

6 – Cable Car Rides at Powell and Hyde

I wasn’t the only tourist who wanted to ride the cable cars… just look at all these people!  Actually, this line was over an hour wait, and yes, I waited!  The cable cars are so San Fran, they are a must do, but a must-do-early-thing if you’re smart.

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Once we got on a car, we were off to explore the city!  The cable cars went up and up and up (San Fran is very hilly!).  I was standing out back of the car by the driver so I took a few shots of the city… have I mentioned how much fun being a tourist is?!  The cable cars are $15 for a city pass which is good for all day rides on city transportation!  cable cars > walking  🙂

What.A.View.  I was mesmerized!  A few blocks later we got to Lombard Street!

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 7 – Lombard Street – The Crookedest Street in the World

Another “touristy” thing in San Fran is definitely taking a walk (or drive) down Lombard Street.  The sharp turns in this road are said to make this the crookedest street in the world!  Besides being full of tourist, Lombard Street is a great place to view the city and beautiful flowers grow everywhere!

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8 – little corner shops & wine breaks

After Lombard Street, we took a walk to find #1 a bathroom and #2 the next cable car stop so we could continue the trip around town.  Bathrooms were a little hard to find and most the of shops were just small storefronts “without bathrooms”  (<– no customer = no bathroom for you in San Fran)  Luckily, we came across Nook Café!  This wasn’t only a bathroom break, but it was such a cute café and just so happened to be serving happy hour drink specials so… hello my-five-oclock-somewhere-drink!

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9 – Italians

Yes, Italians.  That’s another one of my favorites of San Fran.  Specifically the Italians at the restaurant, E Tutto Qua.  We had dinner here because of the location and the good reviews on yelp.  Those reviews were spot on!  The staff were incredible… so friendly and had (sexy) Italian accents.  The pizza was delicious with a special pepper oil on top.  Oh, the dessert… panna cotta.  Need I say more?!

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10 – The Pacific Ocean

I live on the east coast. In Florida.  The highest thing I encounter are office buildings and bridges (Jacksonville has great running bridges!)  One of the things I really wanted to do in San Fran was take a trip to the ocean.  Breathtaking.  Although a little foggy, the views were still amazing and even though I didn’t get to touch the ocean, I got to smell it and even saw dolphins playing in the waves!

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If you haven’t made the trip to this foggy city, I highly recommend it!  I can’t want for my next trip!

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