Austin – East End & Holly

 

IMG_0158

Holly is one of those fabulously Austin neighborhoods. Obviously it’s in Austin but it FEELS like the Austin vibe that everyone talks about. Holly is one of the neighborhoods on the east side that has been going through a lot of renovations! The area feels very hip and a lot safer than older generations would remember it.

You’ll find a lot of younger professionals, and college students walking or biking to nearby eateries and coffee shops during the day, and at night everyone is walking to some restaurant or bar to enjoy some drinks and live music.

It’s one of those “NUPINCOMING” areas that is still undergoing a lot of construction and re-vamping but has somehow held onto the charm and unique nature of Austin. Here are just a few places to check out on your visit:

IMG_0126

Scoot Inn was built in 1871 and has run as a grocery store, a saloon, a restaurant, and beer tavern. Most notably nowadays, it’s known for live music! You can click the link to check out their calendar of events.

IMG_0129IMG_0128

Kebabalicious  started out as a food trailer and has now won it’s way into the hearts of Austinites and placed a storefront on East 7th. Their kebabs, k fries and even their salads (their turk salad with chicken is a favorite of mine) are all amazing!

IMG_0134

Hop on the Metro Rail at Comal Street! You can find routes and plan a trip here.

IMG_0138

One place that I’ve been dying to try is Cuvee Coffee! I saw it on the Daytripper and thought it looked so Austin, plus I couldn’t wait to try the coffee that everyone has been talking about. They are most notably recognized right now for their BLACK&BLUE nitrogenated cold brew coffee. Basically it’s a coffee that drinks like a beer. It’s got that same creamy froth that you would find on a Guinness and it’s really good! Drink it there so you can drink it from a fancy glass 🙂

IMG_0139IMG_0140IMG_0143IMG_0135

Burn Pizza + Bar gets it’s name from it’s perfectly crisped thin crust pizza. Check out their daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Discounts on drinks and 25% off all pizzas!

IMG_0145

The Grackle – “Chill hipster haunt known for its draft beer list & jukebox plus darts, billiards & spacious patio.”

IMG_0146

Zilker Brewing Co. is a really neat brewery experience in East Austin. Enjoy the custom bar, six delicious beers and food trailers nearby.

IMG_0149

Licha’s Cantina is always really popular around dinner time. You can expect a little bit of a wait for food but enjoy a bar out back and a nicely lit outdoor patio/courtyard while you wait! Five dollar happy hours are Tues-Fri 4-6pm. The last time I ate here I ordered the tacos Al Pastor and they were really good!

Hope you enjoy East Austin!! And let me know if you check out any other awesome places because there’s lots to explore around this area 🙂

Sincerely,
Amanda

2016 Wine and Wildflower Trail

IMG_3635

I feel like this post needs to start out like that Oprah commercial for Weight Watchers, except about wine. “THIS IS THE JOY FOR ME! I. LOVE. [WINE]. I LOVE BREAD…I MEAN, WINE.” Sam and I have fun saying that commercial in unison every time it comes on because they play it on repeat in between our Hulu shows…

But seriously, don’t you love wine and the beautiful Texas Hill Country?!? Me too! Especially in the spring when it’s covered in bluebonnets! It’s the perfect setting for a road trip and a day of sipping on wine with good friends and family. Who needs to travel all the way to Napa or Sonoma when we have great wine right here in Texas! JK I still wanna go there someday BUT I’ll enjoy the Texas Hill Country too, probably just as much!

The 2016 Wine and Wildflower Trail is coming up April 1-17, but you want to get your tickets NOW because it sells out every year usually by the first weekend! You get 17 days to visit 48 wineries, get complimentary tastings at up to 4 wineries a day and 15% off 3 bottle purchases! Also for fun (and so you remember where you’ve been already) you get a passport that will be stamped at each place you visit!

You can find more information and a list of all the wineries here.

georgetown-grapecreek-1grape-creek-winery-paninigrape-creek-winery-georgetowngrape-creek-winery-trattoria-cafeFour Photo’s: grapecreek.com

Extra Hill Country Winery Events

  • 4.0 Cellars – Live music on Saturdays and Wildflower Brunch coming up on Sat. April 9th
  • Becker Vineyards – March 19&20th is their Annual Bluebonnets, Bluegrass and BBQ. “Woodstreet Bloodhounds will play Bluegrass music on the lawn. There is no music cover charge. Music is from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. BBQ will be served from 11:30 a.m. until out.We encourage you to bring your lawn chairs for this event!!!”
  • Chisholm Trail Winery – Has a pizzeria! The Oval Oven Pizzeria is open every Friday and Saturday, noon to 5pm and Sunday, noon to 4pm.
  • Compass Rose Cellars – Dine at The Kitchen and then stay the night in a casita anytime! Or check out their Last Supper Dinner on Good Friday or their Easter Sunday Brunch.
  • Flat Creek Estate – On March 12th, go to a Crawfish Boil! Tickets are $12 and featured wines will be $5 a glass. Other dining events include their Rustic Wine Dinner: a 3 course meal and wine pairings at $50/ticket throughout the year. You can find dates on their site! OR make a reservation to enjoy some fine dining at their Bistro.
  • Messina Hof – March 5th there’s a Murder Mystery Dinner for $69/ticket! There are also a lot of other regular events at the three different locations in Fredericksburg, Grapevine and Bryan including Trivia Night, Wine & Chocolate Pairings, Wine and Cheese Pairings, etc.

Now get out there and drink some Texas grape juice!!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Date Night Ideas for Couples Working with a Budget

IMG_3576

Sam and I went on a date the other night to see Deadpool – that Marvel movie starring Ryan Reynolds (I don’t recommend it by the way! I couldn’t believe that it was a Marvel movie. Too raunchy and twisted for my taste…definitely not a movie kids should go to either!) – luckily every Tuesday the theater by our house does $5 movie night and it got me thinking about dates we have done and love doing that typically aren’t that much money. Dinner at a trendy restaurant is fun and all…but those kind of dates can add up quick $$$….

Here are 11 date night ideas that are a little bit more friendly on the wallet:

  • Explore your city! Austin is filled with fun (and sometimes really weird – see below) murals and I love finding them and taking pictures! Go on a photo scavenger hunt, discover new little parks, or areas you had never been/seen before.

AS-engaged-025

AS-engaged-008both photo’s by: All Heart Photography
  • Go on a hike! A great way to get in some physical activity and good conversation.

DSC_0354

  • Try making a new recipe together for dinner! Turn on some Frank Sinatra, pour you both some Owner’s Box Cab and get cookin!

182273_10150136410566963_3033795_n

  • Go to a minor league baseball game in your area and make a bet on the winning team. I know lawn seats to watch a game are cheap for the Round Rock Express.

1973657_10152365716926963_4816578166341607449_o

  • Go out dancing! You can pay $8 at the famous Broken Spoke Dance Hall and get an hour of two stepping and western swing dance lessons! And then stay after the lesson and keep dancing!

60484_10151306222656431_1803100388_n

  • Go to a concert or play in the park if they have those in your city. I know Austin always has free performances at Zilker Hillside Theater and free music at Blues on the Green. Bonus – you can pack a picnic!

965529_10151660167261963_1562677345_o

  • Go to a museum! Blanton Museum of Art is free on Tuesdays! A lot of museums offer reduced prices/free days.

 

  • Listen to a good podcast together. I talked about Serial in a couple previous posts, the podcast Sam and I have been listening to together! It’s nice because you can pause it and then talk about it together.

 

  • Have a marathon of your favorite show on Netflix or Hulu. Get cozy in your PJ’s, pop some corn, and cuddle up next to each other. Don’t just do it, make it an experience!

 

  • Sit on your back porch/patio/lawn with a glass of wine and a blanket and watch the sunset or look at the stars.

893103_10103126315615324_1011494797_o

  • Go to a coffee shop and play a board game. And don’t let your hubby/boyfriend outsmart you at checkers over and over and over again like me lol.

IMG_3011

Any others you’d add to the list? Hope you enjoy and happy date night-ing!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Weekend in Leakey, TX

IMG_3564

12747921_10100884541404090_7873875511464142267_o

Our friend Jon took this picture and it’s the perfect picture of Zoey and Nugget’s weekend. They swam and played fetch and ran round the whole time. They were sooo enjoying life!

FullSizeRender_2

Walking along the Frio

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender_1IMG_3541FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender_1

12768329_10100884541843210_3723541801008014724_o

This picture was also taken by Jon! I’m glad he caught some because I never managed to pull out my camera. I love this one because it catches one of Nugget’s looks.

IMG_3483

Lots of deer in Leakey!

Sam and I had renters in our Austin house so we took to Leakey for the weekend! It worked out perfect because Sam had a day job out near Leakey on Monday, so we were able to have a little peaceful getaway at the same time.

Sam’s parent’s own a quaint little double-wide with access to the Frio River. As our friend – Sam’s coworker Jon – puts it: “it’s like stepping back in time to the 60’s (or some decade around that). This is literally my grandma’s house.” Which he means in the best way possible, and I completely get it! Not to mention the limited to no cell service (unless you have at&t)…it really is a nice way to be out of touch and enjoy a slower pace like the good ole days 😉

We drove up Saturday (the most beautiful hill country drive) and listened to the Serial podcast, Season Two! Season two is about Bowe Bergdahl, the US Army Soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban for 5 years. It’s pretty interesting because Sarah Koenig – the reporter – does a great job of interviewing Bowe and other’s involved or acquainted with the events surrounding Bowe during this time and she pieces it all into an intriguing storyline. I posted about Season One here, but you can find the podcast and season two directly here.

Leakey is tiny, but charming! And it’s a great place to visit in the fall when you can drive 30 minutes to nearby Lost Maples State Park and see the beautiful changing leaves or in the summer when it’s hot enough to enjoy floating the Frio River. But you can really enjoy the view that Leakey provides year round.

There’s also a little grocery store – Leakey Mercantile – if you didn’t manage to hit the HEB in Hondo (or another grocery store depending on where you are coming from). And there are good restaurants, like Mama Chole’s (good Mexican food) and a fun hang out/biker favorite The Hog Pen. Plus a handful of others along the main town road.

A couple other neat places to stop nearby:

1. 27 minutes away is the town of Utopia. If you golf at all, you’ll enjoy the famous Utopia Golf Course, while also getting to say that you have been to the famous town that the movie “Seven Days in Utopia” was filmed. Make sure and eat at the Lost Maples Cafe on the Main Street. The food is good and the building is historic.

2. 10 miles away is Garner State Park located on the Frio River where you can enjoy swimming, hiking and camping!

3. As previously mentioned, Lost Maples State Park! Great hiking trails, sight seeing and you can camp as well.

Happy Travels!

Sincerely,
Amanda

March Events in Austin

IMG_3548

March is pretty much here, almost! March is always a fun, crazy & busy time in Austin because of the RODEO & SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST! BUT there are also a lot of other fun things to do, check it out below!

March 3rd:

  • First Thursday & West End Galleries 1st Thursday’s. This will happen every month! You can look back at my February post to find links to these two events.

March 4th:

  • BBQ AUSTIN AND WHISKEY MYERS: “Come out to BBQ Austin for a day of BBQ, live music and carnival fun from Austin’s largest carnival. Teams from all over Texas will be competiting for the title of “BBQ Austin Grand Champion” and will offer free samples to the public. Concerts will take place on the outdoor stage from 2:00-7:30 p.m., with Whiskey Myers headlining the event at 8:30 p.m. Fairgrounds admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is $10 at the gate.”

March 5th:

  • BBQ AUSTIN AND JOSH ABBOTT BAND: “Come out to BBQ Austin for a day of BBQ, live music and carnival fun from Austin’s largest carnival. Teams from all over Texas will be competiting for the title of “BBQ Austin Grand Champion” and will offer free samples to the public. Concerts will take place on the outdoor stage from 2:00-7:30 p.m., with Josh Abbott Band headlining the event at 8:30 p.m. Fairgrounds admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is $10 at the gate.”
  • Modern Home TourSee some of the prettiest and most well designed modern homes in Austin on this four hour tour and get great ideas for your house!
  • The Beach Boys Tickets 3/5 3-5-2016
    Saturday
    8:00 PM
    Long Center For The Performing Arts in Austin, TX View Tickets

56ad49b1b1c93c274a000005

Photo: modernhometouraustin.com
  • Sherwood Forest Faire is going on every weekend in March. Check out my Feb post for a link!
  • Austin’s Original Pub Run: Run a 2 or 5 mile race through downtown from pub to pub and even by a few watering holes. Check out the pubs on the list through the link above.
  • Illuminate Austin: “Illuminate Austin is an evening walk at the Long Center, along a path lined with luminarias. This fun, family-friendly event benefits SafePlace, which provides shelter and essential services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Austin. This year, we are so excited to have The Mrs. as entertainment! For a sneak peek on the band, check out this video. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to rock out with these ladies.”

March 6th

  • Zilker Kite Festival: Watch hundreds of beautiful kites, or enter a kite contest while also enjoying food and other vendors!

March 9th

  • Nerd Nite (happens every month): Speed Dating w/ a fun topic of conversation! (also in Feb. post)

March 11-20th

  • South by Southwest: LOTS of live music, films, interactive fun stuff and exhibitions. The passes are pretty pricey and while I’ve never bought a pass, you can find a lot of free things to do and lots of giveaways while downtown during SXSW. Last year I found free Kendra Scott Jewelry! See an interview I did with Kendra Scott here.

10451336_10153123249686963_1675443018552086266_n

March 11-26th

  • Rodeo Austin: My favorite by far is the music! This year some of my fav’s coming to the Austin Rodeo are Willie of course, Josh Abbott Band, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Eli Young Band, Josh Turner & Kevin Fowler! Fav by far is probably Brett Eldredgand my tickets are already purchased! 🙂
LiveMusic1Photo: rodeoaustin.com
26978_402617901962_7004343_n

Mom & I at the Austin Rodeo in 2010 watching Lady Antebellum perform. They were SO good live.

26978_402618066962_70225_n

Sam and I with a group of friends at the Houston Rodeo that same year watching Eli Young Band perform. Totally just friends at that point.

March 16-19th

  • Heart of Texas Rockfest: “The Heart of Texas Rockfest has played host to Rock Legends and Hitmakers like Tom Morello, George Lynch, Blue October, Ghostland Observatory, Pepper, Bob Schneider and many more. Every year a star is born and we continue to keep the event FREE and open to the public. NO $200 WRISTBAND REQUIRED.”

March 16

  • Austin Music Awards: Exactly what it sounds like. Kind of like an Austin version of the Grammys. Tickets are $25!
headerPhoto: austinmusicawards.frontgatetickets.com

March 17th

  • St. Patrick’s Day Austin: A family festival for people on St. Paddy’s Day (which did you know that was the correct way to spell it?) Get your fill of Irish traditions. OR just go to a pub downtown. Fado’s Irish Pub is always hoppin and will surely get crazy on St. Paddy’s. But be sure to buy tickets to the party before they’re sold out!
10400099_57554861962_2549_n.jpg

This was one of my best friend’s 21st birthday (Sam D to the right of me in red) in 2009. In January I might add, but my roommate and I thought it would be fun to wear Irish shirts and be Irish for the night.

March 19-20th

  • Artists & Artisans Festival: “The intimate festival showcases the work of more than 30 American artists in beads, watercolor, metal, glass and other media. The sale includes nature-themed handmade items, such as mesquite bowls and handwoven clothing, painted silk art and sculptured jewelry as well as exquisite photographs and paintings on glass. The gardens are gearing up for spring with bluebonnets, winecup and other flowers prepping to bloom.”

March 24-26th

  • Easter Hill Country Tour: Grab your road bike and celebrate Easter on this 3 day tour through the Texas Hill Country. Don’t forget to snap some pictures in the bluebonnets!
ehct-06Photo: fwbaclub.org

March 25-27th

  • Honk! TX: “HONK!TX is a nonprofit, community-driven festival that brings street and brass bands from around the country to perform for free in the public spaces of Austin, Texas. Mobile and unamplified, HONK! bands transform everyday locations into spontaneous stages, dissolving the line between crowd and performers and inviting everyone to celebrate the joys of music and community. A range of genres will be represented: New Orleans second-line brass, European Klezmer and Balkan, Brazilian, West African and more. HONK! is a celebration of community, collaboration and creative expression. Join the revelry!”

March 27th

ce33e189d274b83d2f4b46c4c1f9336f-55bb7ea31214276b105db93dae669ec9Photo: veggiechilicookoff.com

March 29-April 3rd

  • Broadway’s Cabaret: My mom and I have been to Wicked and The Little Mermaid together here in Austin and they are always so good!

Happy Planning!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Ruidoso, New Mexico

IMG_3416DSC_0552

This was the view from our Airbnb lodge: The Lewis Lodge . The view was beautiful and we saw mule deer every day/night, and the very first morning we saw two huge Elk from our porch, literally three feet away, it was incredible! The lodge itself was super quaint with an awesome living room and fireplace and two really nice decks.

DSC_0384DSC_0540DSC_0559DSC_0546IMG_3332IMG_3391

We hadn’t been to Ruidoso in over four years because they had gone through a drought and a few years ago had a huge fire, but they’ve gotten quite a bit of snow and the entire mountain was actually open! View the snow report here. Trail map here. My favorite was taking the gondola up and then riding geronimo down to triple chair #1! All day.

We packed a picnic lunch both days, but there are also a few options for food on the mountain: Eagle Cafe, Arrowhead, Daily Grind Cafe, Plaza Grill and Spirit Bar.

Find lift ticket prices here. Find ski rental prices here. Board rental prices here.

IMG_3318IMG_3369

IMG_3373

Looking up at Capitan

IMG_3387

On our last day, my mom and I decided to do the Zip Tour on the mountain. Boasting the highest zip line in the world and the third longest! It was really really fun. Make sure that you call and make a reservation if you want to do it because the time slots fill up pretty much every day!

IMG_3388

This was the first line at the very top of the mountain. It starts out low but immediately goes high up over all of the trees, and is a mile long! You hit speeds of anywhere from 60-90mph!!! So don’t forget to break at the bottom like my mom did 😛 she was okay, and it was pretty hilarious actually.

IMG_3385IMG_3381

We had such a great trip! I’m already looking forward to our next boarding trip 🙂

Sincerely,
Amanda

Road Trip 

fe2015b98e4149560166a2b63b396037

Sam, the fam and I are headed back home today from a great weekend getaway to Ruidoso, NM.

The drive will be about nine hours! Which sounds kind of long but it goes by pretty fast. Thanks to Sam for being awesome and driving the entire way to NM…I mean I said I would drive but he was just so good at it.

I’m hoping the way home wont seem too long. It always seems faster on the way to vacation than the way home, but, Sam and I started listening to this podcast called Serial (season one) on the way to NM that we still need to finish. It’s a true story and murder mystery investigation and it’s obviously a sad story but pretty intriguing. We spent the whole car ride talking about what we thought happened and before we knew it we were there!

I also packed a good assortment of road trip snacks to keep us from stopping too often and too distract us from the long drive and here’s what I brought: Krave Sweet Chipotle Beef Jerky, 479 Asiago, Parmesan & Cheddar Popcorn, Snapea Crisps, Dove Dark Chocolate and Dang Caramel Sea Salt Coconut Chips! Tried to keep it somewhat healthy and light and they are all delicious! I especially love the snapea crisps and the coconut chips! Of course on the way home we are loaded up with valentines day chocolates, which I’m not mad about!

What are your favorite road trip snacks??

Hope everyone has a great Monday!

Sincerely,
Amanda

Throwback: Bahamas Lifestyle

487933_10151078980471963_1049365970_n

Hope Town, Elbow cay

529012_10151078984556963_2019521135_n

Guana Cay

314894_10151078984826963_697865368_n

Nipper’s on Guana Cay

559083_10151078987426963_1386930609_n

Little Harbour

541779_10151078989716963_139822439_n

561383_10151078990891963_1261411050_n

Little Harbour

208997_10151078998786963_497083503_n

The view from our vacation rental.

552399_10151079008696963_745257012_n

Hope Town

403956_10151078978056963_1024165671_n

Hope Town

208851_10151078980131963_256777185_n

Elbow Cay

Aloha from North Abaco est. July 2012! BEST vacation I’ve been on so far and I can’t wait to go back! Seriously, anyone want to plan a trip for next year and go? The North Abacos are something similar to what my dreams are made of…seriously!

We spent an entire week hopping from island to island in the Northern Abacos, snorkeling, boating, eating conch burgers, fishing, enjoying sunsets and tiki bars. We saw sharks, dolphins, eels, giant lobsters, and so many sand dollars that we’d be millionaires if they were an actual currency.

We stayed at the perfect vacation rental through VRBO (my mom did all of the planning and she did it fabulously). Take a look at some of the rentals in North Abaco. We stayed at a home on Sugar Cay that you could only get to by boat!!! It had it’s own little beach and boat dock that was nice to fish on in the evenings or to enjoy the sunsets from.

If you’re going to the Northern Abacos, boating is generally the best way to get around. There are several boat rentals in the North Abaco area, to list a few: Water Ways, Get My Boat, JIC Boat Rentals, Rainbow Rentals . You’ll be sooo happy you saw the Abacos by boat.

Just a few of the Cays we hopped between:

Hope Town on Elbow Cay

Hope Town has a super cute beach town vibe, similar to Key West, FL but a little more quaint and carribbean-ish with restaurants, hotels, vacation rentals, coffee shops and other shops.

We ate at Reef Bar and Grill right on the beach with an excellent view of the ocean. We actually saw dolphins pretty close in while we were there, so while we waited for the food Sam and I went to the beach to see them closer. They also had a pool at the restaurant/bar that we swam in too!

Guana Cay

We ate at Nipper’s Bar and Grill where we had delicious conch burgers. Don’t knock it till you try it because they’re actually really good! If you like seafood, you’ll love them!

Before and after eating we snorkeled along the 5 1/2 mile beach among the coral reef just off the shore. Sam is actually really good at spear fishing and one of the days that we were at Guana, after Sam had speared a fish, two sharks came out of the shadows behind him and followed him up to the beach! I was done following Sam around after that…haha. I love the ocean, but the thought of sharks even swimming in a pool alone freaks me out!

Man-O-War Cay

Over near Man-O-War Cay we went to an ocean reef where we had to tie our boat up to a mooring. We all got out and went snorkeling in what felt like was the middle of the ocean! While snorkeling I saw a huge eel, and that kind of freaked me out but I slowly backed away and then stayed close to everyone else. The current was pretty strong that day and no joke I almost got sea sick just swimming around. But I took a little break on the boat…the fun thing is that there are about ten other boats tied up out there with you and everyone is either in the water or on their boat!

Little Harbour

We went to Pete’s Pub while visiting Little Harbour. It feels like we ate only Conch Burgers but we ate some pretty good ceviche too! And then we explored the town and saw a cave that was on the cay.

It’s hard to remember the name of every Cay we went to but I remember my favorites well: Guana, Little Harbour and Hope Town were my top three!

Boating Map of Abaco (1)

 

photo from visithopetown.com

 

Have you been to the Abacos? Where do you recommend going??

I’ll just be over here dreaming my way through the end of the week…

541496_10151080767676963_918242435_n
Sincerely,
Amanda

P.S. I had an interview yesterday that I am EXTREMELY excited about so cross your fingers for me!

Hiking at Hamilton Pool

DSC_0210DSC_0226DSC_0234DSC_0245DSC_0253DSC_0255DSC_0261

Sam and I have family on his side that just moved out to our neck of the woods and it’s been really fun getting to spend more time with them without having to drive all the way to Houston!

We all spent the weekend hanging out, eating good breakfast tacos (thanks Luke!), watching movies (Everest – ahhhh!! – & Father of the Bride), and hiking at Hamilton Pool. The weather was absolutely amazing, so there was no way we could just stay inside all weekend!

If you live in the Austin area, this is such a great spot to swim, picnic, tan and hang out with friends. Especially come summer time, I cant wait to go back and swim because the water is so clear! The only thing to note is that you want to get there as early as possible because they only let so many people in at a time and once they hit max capacity, you literally end up waiting in a line of cars over a mile long until people leave!

They are open 9am-6pm daily, but they stop letting people in at 5:30pm. You can call their number ahead of time to see what the wait is looking like at (512) 264-2740.

Happy Hiking!

Sincerely,
Amanda

Throw Back: Honeymoon-ing at The Excellence in Punta Cana

10368470_10152540094961963_5823700397907326345_n (1)10423767_10152540088776963_534022384674062231_n (1)10556236_10152540093896963_8294667093896490068_n (1)10537376_10152540088141963_8787677088843887364_n10409783_10152540093586963_6686294157404269821_n (1)10456005_10152540091806963_2429611023825075908_n (1)1551474_10152540089976963_2168897621834651113_n10489824_10152540090431963_3153860002835797155_n (1)

I really have a thing for the beach… and if I had to choose between snowboarding trips (as MUCH as I love them) or beach vacations – only one for the rest of my life – it would be beach vacations, hands down.

I love everything about it. Living on island time, the salt water, surfing, being tan, living in a swimsuit, being outside all of the time, running on the beach, wearing little to no make-up, clearer skin, and the whole soul bursting feeling of joy and the constant reminder of how small you are next to the vast ocean full of scary but cool sea creatures. I’m deathly afraid of those deep dark sea-creatures (seriously, Sam laughs at how ridiculous I am when I get scared snorkeling in the ocean) and I. LOVE. it.

So it was a no-brainer that for our honeymoon, I wanted Sam and I to go somewhere with bright blue water, white sand, palm trees and coconut drinks 😉

We landed on The Excellence Resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic! With a private beach, 9 restaurants, 10 bars, surf rentals, 24 hour room service, two huge pools & jacuzzi’s and entertainment every night I was VERY smitten. Though they offer so much more than that… (spa next time??)

This was my first all-inclusive experience and I died at how extravagant it was. Sure, I’ll have another mojito. Yeah, one more, why not. How about just keep em coming! And room service at 1 am? YES. I mean, really, how are these places real?

The service at the resort was WONDERFUL. Every single staff member was SO nice and seriously so personable and friendly that it felt like we were leaving friends by the end of the week.

And the FOOD. The restaurants were amazing. Our favorite by far was Spice  – I ordered the Pad Thai and sushi every.time. it was so good. I want to say we tried all of the restaurants but we were too stuck on the Thai! Though I think we did try at least half of them and they were all really good. Minus the burgers at the beach bar…I didn’t care for those but that was the only thing! I think they might have changed things up a bit since we were there in June-July 2014 though. It looks like they changed a few of their restaurants.

The resort also offered excursion packages, but we figured there was enough to do actually at the resort (horse back riding, kayaking, surfing, ping pong, beach games, etc.). Plus I’m pretty content to just chill at the beach. We did go horse-back riding, kayaking and surfing! We were also talked into a few beach competitions by one of the super friendly resort staff/friends.

There was some kind of performance/entertainment every night. From dancing performances and acrobatics, to karaoke and salsa dancing! We were never bored. They even threw a legit 4th of July party!

If you’re looking for your next beach destination vacation…I definitely recommend The Excellence in Punta Cana! There are also Excellence Resorts in: Riviera Cancun, Playa Mujeres, El Carmen and Oyster Bay (coming soon).

What are some beach destinations/resorts that you’d recommend? I’d loove to add them to my list 🙂

Sincerely,
Amanda