Couples Getaway: Mexico (Baja,California).

I always refer to this region as Baja, California, because when we go we typically move through the peninsula. There are so many different cities you can choose to stop at. If you want to party and drink on the beach, Rosarito is your spot. If you want seafood (lobster), Puerto Nuevo is your spot. If you want wine, aesthetic views, and gastronomy, Valle De Guadalupe is your spot. Finally, there is Ensenada which is a stop on many cruises from the U.S. Personally, I would not take a cruise there, when you could drive there. Ensenada is full of adventures, from quad riding, to La Bufadora, there are a lot of options on how to spend your day there.

In this blog, I will highlight our recent weekend adventure into Baja. We did a day and a half, ideally if it is your first time I would carve out two or three days to explore the region. However, if you are a busy person this weekend guide will be perfect for you. 

 

The First Day….

IMG_2455

-My husband had to work, so I drove down to his work and from there we drove down together. We drove straight down to Puerto Nuevo to eat our first meal of the day….LOBSTER. I am obsessed with the lobster meals from Puerto Nuevo. This town is cute, and colorful, and full of 31 restaurants which serve a similar menu. My personal favorite one is Villa Ortega’s (it is all the way to the left, and end). This one has a beach view, and you can dine on the outside while you hear the waves crash and feel the sun shine down on you. We normally get Lobster for two and it comes with lobster, rice, beans, tortillas, and tortilla soup!

IMG_2421

You can walk around and explore the town, this is a good spot to shop for souvenirs, and get free tequila samples. There is also a really yummy ice cream shop and panaderia which has different kinds of bread.

IMG_2452

from there, I recommend driving to your hotel or AirBnB to check in! 

For our stay this time, we chose AirBnB and we had an amazing experience. I will link our stay below! We were nestled in the Valle De Guadalupe and we were so close to the wineries. My favorite part was the breakfast that came with our stay, it was fresh and cooked specially for us.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9202418?source_impression_id=p3_1582053997_zuI%2F5x%2FFOmuPJAhP

Bed & Breakfast located at Quinta Monasterio

 

Most things in the Valle close early like typical wineries they close around 7pm. There are two location which I recommend and are close to each other.

346C57D0-D69F-4743-9C54-AFDF8F5E1AF7

-Casa Frida is open till midnight. You can get in without a reservation, but it will be for their outside lounge or the restaurant. If you want to go to their indoor terrace, make a reservation.

-King & Queen Cantina. We got here around 11pm and they weren’t seating anyone without a reservation, so we didn’t get a chance to visit.

 

The Next Day (full day of Mexico)….

This was our full day in Mexico, and I had the day planned out from stop to stop to strategically maximize our time, since everything in the Valle is spread out.

 

Stop 1: Bruma (reservation required)

IMG_6581

This is one of the most gorgeous and unique wineries. There is a beautiful tree in the middle which goes underground and above. The tasting is 17$ pp and includes a tour of the facility, with 3 wine tastings. A little overpriced in my opinion, but you pay for the photo ops. There is also a restaurant called Fauna, which I have heard great things about.

Stop 2: Finca Altozano

BFFD5C48-8003-4642-BADF-71AB2877638BIMG_6608IMG_6606

(reservation strongly recommended, if you get there before 12 you can get seated, depending on your party size. Either way I would make a reservation). This restaurant is like no other, its beautiful and has amazing selections of food. The restaurant is situated on a large spread of land, so you can walk around the property and see their animals. There are also a lot of photo opportunities! Our favorite thing to order here is the Oysters, Lengua Tacos, and Seabass Chicharones. We’ve tried other things on the menu, like Octopus, Milanesa, and Tuna. If you are lucky you might even see the two pigs walk past your table. There are also 8 or 9 dogs which live on the property and their name and photo is pictured on the menu. Save some room for desert, there is an ice cream shop located here as well.

 

Stop 3: Casa Frida

IMG_6685IMG_6624IMG_6705

(reservation required). Even though we came here at night, I HAD to go back to explore during the day. We reserved the wine tasting experience, which was $40 for the both of us. Wine tasting is in a separate room that is immersed in art and paintings. If you do not do wine tasting, you can hangout at the restaurant, or hangout in their outdoor lounge which plays funky house music all day. Since we had extra time, we asked if there was space at their Mixology Terrace. I would highly recommend making a reservation for this area, there is a minimum consumption limit, but it is worth it. The views of the Valle are gorgeous, funky house music is playing, and there are delicious hand crafted cocktails to indulge in. Aside from the views, there is even more art to see and take pictures with. Make sure to check out the bathrooms for even more fun photo-ops. Basically this place is an Instagram heaven.

 

Stop 4: Bar Bura @ Cuatro Cuatros

IMG_1038

(reservation required, or take your chances on waiting to get an opportunity to ride the shuttle to the top). Bar Bura, is located on the top of Cuatro Cuatros, and it is the most picturesque bar I have ever been to. You pay to ride the shuttle to the top of the mountain and you get to choose between a soda, water, or beer. You immediately feel like you are transported to somewhere in Greece. I always strategically plan the reservation around sunset hours, the sunset here is breathtaking. You can also order food here, I love their Ceviche. If you need some coffee, there is also a coffee truck at the top, which would be great for your drive home.

 

GETTING HOME

Crossing the border can be a nightmare, because of the waiting time. We’ve waited as much as 8 hours before. On average I would say it takes 4 hours to cross back on a weekend. Just recently on this last trip, it only took us an hour and a half on a Holiday weekend, because my husband figured out how to enter the Ready Lanes! Watch this video and save yourself time! Warning: on the weekends there is a higher volume of traffic, which makes it harder to enter the Ready Lanes, just drive back further and enter in. OH AND YOU CANNOT GET AWAY WITH GOING THROUGH READY LANES WITH NO PASSPORT. Technically you should not even risk going without a passport, however people do many times, in the ready lane they don’t mess around because they use RFID technology to process you faster.

 

 

Thanks for reading! Hope to see more of you venture off into Mexico. If you would like to book a tour, click on my Guide to Valle De Guadalupe Blog, which has my favorite company linked!

xoxo

Jess

Austin, Texas Guide: 3 Day Weekend in Austin

If you need to know anything about me when I travel, is that I leave no room to waste. We land and we hit the ground running, we stay out late and wakeup early and we don’t take naps (maybe in the car rides). This guide is perfect for someone who doesn’t have as much time in Austin, but is down for the adventure and wants to cover as much as possible.

Austin has been on my bucket list for many years now. From the sizzling barbeque, to the buzzing nightlife, Austin is a foodie and adventurer’s dream. When my husband found out that he had a day off for Labor Day Weekend, we booked an early birthday trip for me. Flying from Los Angeles, there are many good flight deals and you can even fly roundtrip for $125 based on the time you go and through the help of tracking apps like Hopper and Skyscanner.

Since we only had a limited amount of time in Austin, I composed a very detailed and efficient travel itinerary that would allow us to maximize our time there. I will include the itinerary at the bottom of this page to help any future travelers plan out their trip if necessary.

Hotel: We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. If we were to ever go back to Austin, I would definitely stay there again. The location is prime, located right by Rainey Street, you are instantly connected to the wild adventures Rainey street offers day and night. There are also an array of delicious restaurants and foodtrucks to grab late night drunchies. Aside from the location, the hotel is beautifully decorated, the rooms are stocked with great amenities, and the hotel offers free drinks daily during a happy/socializing hour. The rooftop pool was one of the best highlights from our stay and the hotel also has live music at their restaurant “Geraldine”. Another big bonus from this hotel is that it is pet friendly, you see dogs coming in and out constantly. Oh and I can’t forget the free coffee from their coffee shop during your stay, to fuel your adventures.

Driving Situation: We decided to not rent a car and we are glad we didn’t! The airport is not even that far from the downtown/heart of Austin. Uber and Lyfts were plentiful and fast. You will also find rentable electronic scooters everywhere, another more exciting way to explore the city. With my guide I included distances between locations to see which method of transportation was the most efficient. Ideally, we like to do a lot of walking on trips when we can, to make room for the food haha.

IMG_7523

Day One (Saturday):

Day one started with a 3:30 am wakeup call. You would think we would have gone to bed earlier, but being who we are, we were in bed by 12:30pm lol. Our flight departed from LAX at 7am and landed in Austin at noon. We took an Uber to our hotel where we were greeted with some local beers and were luckily accommodated into our room early.

Our day in Austin began with lunch at Bangers, which is a sausage house and beer garden. Luckily we got there at a good time and our wait was only 30-45 mins, which meant we had time to enjoy the sunshine and some Hazy IPA’s. They have a backyard bar with 207 different beers you could choose from! The food was delicious and definitely one of our favorite meals of the weekend.

IMG_4727IMG_4734IMG_4743

With a nice day buzz going, full belly’s, and happy hearts we began our adventure into Austin. We took an Uber to Zilker Park, where we rented Canoe’s at Zilker Park Boat Rentals Canoe. I chose this rental spot based on reviews and its location on the river. We kayaked through the river and into Lady Bird Lake for some stunning scenery and refreshing rows (except when my paddle broke in half and were were subjected to rowing the canoe with one paddle and a mini broken one lol). We wish we would have brought our bathing suits with us to take a dip in the water because it was pretty hot at this point. Barton Springs Municipal pool was also next door and would have been a nice addition, however the line was pretty long and we had other opportunities to go in water later in the weekend so we did not make it a priority due to the time frame we had.

From Zilker Park we went to our next destination, which is the iconic “Greetings from Austin Mural”. The Texas heat got the best of us, we were getting covered in sweat, but it didn’t stop us from taking a good picture in front of the mural. From the Mural we walked to the Churro Co Foodtruck for a snack, water and some shade to cool down.

 

IMG_4756IMG_482036FB37CF-9DD0-47D2-9E4E-BE4EF53A95D8IMG_4845

From Churro Co Foodtruck, we took an Uber to explore the downtown of Austin most notoriously known as “Dirty Sixth Street”. We went to an arcade bar which was super fun and had a lot of games and white claws available. We then found a sports bar to catch the UT Austin Longhorns game which was going on in the city. If we would have had more time in Austin, this is another activity we would have liked to attend. Football is huge in Texas and the environment at a college game is so hyped. Finally we went back to Rainey street and explored the bars in the evening time before going out at night with a sorority sister who also happened to be in town.

The nightlife in Rainey street is my perfect environment, it’s super chill yet alive, it’s packed, yet there are many options to chose from. The setting for the bars in Rainey st are so unique, they are historic houses turned into bars. You walk in through the front door and there is even an outdoor yard. Each place is so eccentric so I recommend visiting Rainey street multiple times to see as much as you can. We started out at The Container Bar, which is huge and has more of a club feel with the DJ spinning all night. We also visited Unbarlievable which is funky and like nothing you’ve experienced before. More noteworthy bars to visit; The Alibi (has a lot of TV’s for sports and also a white claw pina colada), Half Step (spacious and a variety of speciality cocktails). We ended the night with food from the foodtrucks on Rainey St. We had the best gyro from Big Fat Greek Gyros.

 

Day 2 (Sunday)

Started the day with some free coffee from Cafe 605 conveniently located in our hotel’s lobby. An uber was called and we were off to find some of the most iconic murals in Austin. We began by visiting the Austin Motel which has a picturesque sign. From there we took a quick walk to Jo’s Coffee to take a picture with the famous “I Love You So Much Sign”, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t the most excited for this mural out of any. I had always seen so many pictures on the gram of this location and I thought it would be a sweet visit with my hubby. We then hopped on some Bird Bikes and rode down Congress street to find the next mural. The whole ride up and down Congress street was entertaining, it was colorful and artistic everywhere you looked, it felt like a movie scene. The next mural we visited was by Magnolia Cafe which is the Love from Austin mural.

By now it was lunchtime and we were hungry and in need of some shade from the sun. We headed to LA barbecue for lunch which has extraordinary reviews. My man being the planning genius he is, read online that you can preorder your food online. When we got there it was the best decision we made, the line looked about 2 hours long and went from the inside of the restaurant all the way outside in a zig zag. By the time we were done eating, people that were at the end of the line outside still had not made it into the line inside. If you go to LA Barbecue order online and you pick up at a window in the back, you can then sit outside or inside and enjoy your meal. The food was great but we realized we ordered too much and would not eat the leftovers. We boxed up the remaining food and decided to take it to someone who was homeless and needed a lunch.

IMG_4886IMG_7625IMG_7611IMG_2690

After lunch, we took Bird Bikes to the Texas Capitol and explored the building. We did one of the free walking tours and took in the knowledge of the Texas government. The architecture of the building is grandiose. After walking through the capitol we decided it was time for a drink. We called an Uber to take us to the Wonder Bar, something my husband had found on Instagram. He knows a key to my heart is a place with photo ops and this place is just that plus some uniquely crafted cocktails. The ride was about 22 minutes but well worth the drive. The Wonderbar is interactive and the perfect place to cool down from the Texas heat. Since we were already in that area, we explored the shops around it. Even though we had a busy day, it was only 4pm so we decided to go to Rainey street in the day and catch some live music. We ended up at the Clive and had some Moscow Mules and we saw a local band rock out.

We headed back to our hotel and took advantage of the free happy hour before going to the rooftop pool. The pool was so relaxing and also had a bar up top to keep the buzz going. We stayed at the pool till the sun went down and then we decided it was best to get ready for dinner. Everyone recommended Torchy’s Tacos so we went! Unfortunately they were short staffed that day so they told us thee wait was going to be about an hour for our food. We got chips, salsa, and guac to hold us up, by the time we got our food it didn’t taste too fresh and was average. This was my first and only experience with Tex-Mex so I know I have to go back and give it another shot, but at this moment, I stand with my belief that California has the best Mexican food aside from Mexico.

IMG_2116IMG_5075IMG_5169IMG_5265IMG_5275IMG_5278

 

Day 3 (Monday):

For our last day in Texas we saved the biggest adventure yet, Tubing in the San Marcos River. This activity has always been on my bucket list, because what is better than floating down the river, catching a tan, with a drink in hand? This activity does take up a good amount of time, so we debated doing it or not, but we are so happy we ended up doing it, because it was the highlight of our trip. We booked our tour through Texas State Tubes and they provided an exceptional time! They picked us up in downtown and took us on an adventure in a school bus. They even stop at a gas station for you to pick up your needs for the day, beer, white claws, chips, and water were the only things we needed for the day. They then provide you with a cooler for you to store your goods, don’t forget to purchase ice at the store for your cooler.  You then are given a floaty and tie yourself to your friends and cooler. It was the perfect way to spend the day, I would love to come back to Austin and do this with a gang of friends.

We got dropped off at our pick up spot and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the hotel/airport. Even though we were pretty toasted at the airport, everything went smoothly and we caught up on the lack of sleep on the plane ride home.

IMG_5290IMG_5294IMG_5316IMG_5325

 

Adios Austin, you were truly an adult playground for the foodies and drunkies to enjoy, I cannot wait to be back.I hope this blog inspires some of you to check out this gem of a city. There are so many things to see and do, if you only have a three day weekend like us, this blog will be very helpful (and tiring lol). If I were to go back  I would also make a trip to Lake Travis and rent out a boat if I was with a group. We did see a lot of bachelorette groups while we were there and honestly, Austin is a great spot for a bachelorette if you want something different than the typical club experience.

Love From Austin

Jess

5D384356-911D-4C00-89AE-799D13A8BB27

 

PS; Here is my itinerary, if you would like to screenshot it and save it for your future travels this makes it really easy and i put a lot of work into it, I would love for others to benefit from it too ❤

IMG_7935