Four Seasons Whistler

FullSizeRender(1)Whistler is such a great destination to travel to no matter the time of year. This was my second visit to Whistler and I discovered so many new things about this amazing destination on this latest trip. One of my great discoveries was the Four Seasons Resort and Residences.

The Four Seaons is the perfect place to call home while you’re in the city. Nestled in the mountains, right next the city’s multi-use trail, the hotel’s location gives you all the peace and quiet you need while also just being a few steps away from the village.

IMG_8630FullSizeRender(11)The resort’s design is inspired by its surrounding landscape, bringing the outdoors indoors. The use of timber, stone and glass gives a warm and inviting feel throughout. Staying at this hotel is like staying in a luxurious European-styled lodge, which I loved.

IMG_8381The 273 guest rooms each offer a private balcony that open up to beautiful Whistler views. Each room is spacious yet also cozy. The rooms are all equiped with first-rate amenities, including a walk-in closet, a fireplace, a marble bathroom and shower and a deep-soak tub. The hotel provides complimentary wifi as well as twice-daily housekeeping and evening turn down service.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(12)FullSizeRender(10)The hotel staff was splendid offering to help set up activities for us in the area as well as organizing complimentary rides using the resort’s car service. We also received the sweetest welcome gift and note from the hotel following our rock-climbing expedition, which the staff had graciously organized for us.

IMG_8489FullSizeRender(6)While at the Four Seasons, we made sure to enjoy their fitness room, outdoor heated pool and three hot spring-style whirlpools. Additionally, we cozied up by the fireplace at the Sidecut Bar prior to endulging in a delicious meal.

FullSizeRender(7)Sidecut is a great place for a romantic dinner after skiing or spending the day exploring the many outdoor activities Whistler has to offer. The restaurant’s earthy tones and open fire provide a relaxing ambiance. The steakhouse, led by Executive Chef, Chef Eren, offers a whole lot more than just steak. To my surprise, they even had an entire vegetarian menu for those who are looking for different dining options. The dinner service was excellent, all the dishes were refined and savoury.

FullSizeRender(9)FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(3)It is the attention to the finer details and the five-star service that separates a hotel like the Four Seasons to others in the area. When you stay at their resort you feel right at home and feel all of your needs and wants are taken care of. I can’t think of another place I would want to stay at from here on out when I travel to Whistler.

For more information on the Four Seasons Whistler, go here.

5 Cities to Visit on the Côte Basque

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1) Anglet

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This small surf town is located in the northern part of the Côte Basque region of France. One of the things that makes the city so beautiful is its pine forest that makes up 10% of the city’s territory. The coast of Anglet contains 11 beautiful beaches that stretch 4.5 kms. The beaches are a top spot for local surfers and even members of the international surfing community. This summer, the first ever #ProAnglet surf competition was held Sables d’or beach, an WSL Qualification event. On the Anglet beachfront, you will find a variety of cute little shops, cafés and restaurants.

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Downtown Anglet is also incredibly cute. You can feel the small-town relaxed vibe in this city but you’ll find everything you need. Anglet is where you’ll find the headquarters of local surf brand Oxbow, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. This rad brand once sponsored surfing greats like Laird Hamilton and now work with local groms.

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If you like biking, you’ll be able to take their multipurpose path up and down the coast and the entire Basque region of France.

This little city is definitely a surfer’s paradise!

2) Bayonne

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This city located just north and east of Anglet and is a cultural and historical haven. You may have heard of this place before due to its annual Fêtes de Bayonne, a 5-day celebration that starts on the first Wednesday of August and attracts people from all over Europe. People flock to the city to watch parades, dance, music, eat food and drink.

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Bayonne is also where the famous “Bayonne Ham” originated from. The city also has a famous rugby team.

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What makes the city so special, is its 17th century fortification and historic buildings. Some of the sights you’ll find in the city date back to the 12th century, such as their castle and their church. You’ll also see traditional Basque homes, with half-timbering and shutters in either red or green.

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If you’re looking to learn about the local history, this will be your go-to spot!

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3) Biarritz

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This is probably the most famous and internationally recognized town of the Côte Basque. It’s renown for its surf and also its luxury. Many people compare this city to the Cannes of the southwest.

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There is plenty to see and do in Biarritz. They’ve got a beautiful Museum of the Sea, they have two large casinos on the waterfront by the Grande Plage, the annual Biarritz Surf Festival, great shops and also fantastic restaurants like Le Clos Basque, that offers local Basque specialties.

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There is also a real sense of community and youthfulness in Biarritz. There are many great up and coming local designer shops and businesses that can be found throughout the city.

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4) Guéthary

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This is a small fishing village that has been around since the 12th century. The arrival of the train in 1884 brought a lot of families and tourists area, looking to build secondary homes along the coast. A lot of these homes remain visible to this day. The village is now a destination for French surfers and also a great spot for longboarding. The marina still remains to this day and so does a lot of the local agriculture.

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5) Saint-Jean-de-Luz

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The village of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is located just a few minutes away from the Spanish border. The city’s wealth originated from its port but it also became well-known as a result of the wedding of Louix XIV and Maria Theresa, the Infanta of Spain in 1660 in the city’s church.

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Today, it is a great spot to visit for those looking for great cuisine, sandy beach and traditional architecture. The Spanish influence can definitely be felt in this town, it’s a great place to get eat tapas. That said, it is also a great place to grab a traditional Gâteau Basque, which can be found in all the bakeries around town.

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Arizona Road Trip: 3 Must-Visit Cities

1) Yuma

If you’re a fan of the 3:10 to Yuma film, then the name of this first city will ring a bell. This small town is located in the southwestern part of the state, close to the California and Mexico border. The city is known for its historical Ocean-to-Ocean bridge that was built in 1915 and that crosses the Colorado River. It serves as a land route to connect the East Coast with the West Coast. Little known fact: Yuma is the biggest winter vegetable producer of the world!

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If you’re going to Yuma, you’ll want to stay in one of their legendary motels. They are cheap, well situated and there are lot’s of cool ones to choose from: Hacienda Motel, the Yuma Cabana, the Tropicana. A lot of these motels are inspired by the classic Vegas motels.

Things to do:

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Walk around the historic downtown area – The main street is filled with antique shops, restaurants and local breweries. You’ll want to stop by Lutes Casino and order their famous “Lutes Special” – a hot dog in a cheeseburger. This legendary spot attracts all the locals. You may also see the owner sitting at the bar and tabulating bills.

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Visit the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park – Opened in 1876, this prison once held some notable inmates such as Tombstone’s gunfighter Frank “Buckskin” Leslie and Pearl “Bandit Queen Hart”. You can visit the prison site and also the graveyard.

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Run the trail or hang out at the beach in Gateway Park – located right next to the Ocean-to-Ocean bridge and on the Colorado River, this is a great spot to relax and observe local wildlife and cool off from the extremely hot and dry Yuma weather.

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2) Tombstone

Tombstone is a historic western city located in Cochise County, Arizona. The city was founded in 1876 and prospered thanks to its mines but was also marked by ongoing conflicts between the cowboys and the Earp family, which one day escalated into the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1880. To this day, the small city remains pretty much intact with its original buildings, which has led to it becoming a major tourist spot for old west fans from around the world.

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Things to do:

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Take a trolley tour around town – This super fun 25 minute historical tour of the city will teach you all about its history, architecture and famous or infamous characters. The trolley drivers are entertaining and incredibly informative. You can find the trolley parked at 4th and Toughnut Street and the tour costs $6. You can also follow that up with a gunfight reenactment show, which happens to be a block away.

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Eat at one of their historic saloons – They may not be renown for their food (health food enthusiasts beware) but they’ve become a monument in this historical town. Big Nose Kate’s Saloon or the Crystal Palace Saloon are two must-see spots. A lot of the decor and pieces in the saloon are originals, you may even find bullet holes in some of the saloons’ walls. It’s also the best place to whip out your newly acquired cowboy hat!

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Stay at the Sagebrush Inn – Don’t be fooled by it’s rustic exterior, this place is a gem so much so that John Wayne once stayed here so they kept his room intact for visitors to enjoy. The Sagebrush Inn was the destination for western movie stars in the 50s and 60s. This quaint little motel, is located just a 5 minute walking distance from the downtown area. All the rooms are decorated with old photographs and items reminiscing of the old west. They’ve also got a beautiful pool, perfect for cooling off from the hot desert sun!

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3) Holbrook

Located in Navajo County, Holbrook was founded in 1881 when the railroad was built in the area. Funny fact, in 1912 a 419 lbs meteorite exploded in the sky above Holbrook and caused a big meteorite shower causing more than 16 000 stones to fall from the sky. The historic Route 66 runs through Holbrook.

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Things to do:

Visit the Petrified Forest National Park – Located less than 30 minutes driving distance from Holbrook and in Navajo and Apache counties, the park is known for its tree fossils that date back to the Mesozoic era, 220 million years ago. This place is just stunning to visit.

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Sleep in a Wigwam – The Wigwam Motel was built in 1950 using the teepees of the Plains Indians as inspiration and is now part of the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. The motel is located on Route 66 and offers travellers the chance to stay in a little piece of history. Each of the 15 wigwams are also adorned with a classic car parked right out front. The motel’s office also houses a small museum of historical artefacts, guns, photographs, etc. The best spot to catch up on some reading and have a quiet night while in an unique setting.

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5 Things to Do in Miami

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1) Explore South Pointe. This beautiful park and beach area located at the most southern tip of South Beach, is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon while in Miami. The 17-acre county urban park features a beautiful oceanfront bike path, a quiet beach as well as panoramic views of the Miami port and pier. You can rent one of Miami’s DecoBikes and picnic on the waterfront or go snorkelling close to the pier. They sometimes even have big enough waves for surfing. There are also lot’s of great shops and restaurants in the area to enjoy such as Jugofresh, Joe’s Stone Crab, Cibo Wine Bar, F1rst Surf Shop, just to name a few.

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2) Eat at Lee & Marie’s Cakery. While you’re in the area, stop by this super cute family-owned shop for a yummy lunch or just to grab a sweet snack. They offer a great selection of homemade sandwiches, quiches, salads, scones and of course a ton of homemade sweets. They have a super cute patio and a lovely ambiance.

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3) Explore downtown Miami. If you’re staying in South Beach, one of the fun things you can do is to either rent a DecoBike or a scooter (you can get a scooter for $50 for 24hrs) and take Venetian Causeway through all the little islands towards downtown Miami. Not only will it be a stunning ride there (you’ll pass all the beautiful homes on  the islands, you’ll also get a beautiful view of Miami on the way there), you’ll also arrive right in the hype Edgewater and Wynwood neighborhoods of Miami. There are lot’s of great waterfront parks to see in the area, up and coming shops and restaurants. If you venture North you’ll enter the Buena Vista neighborhood and if you go south you’ll venture more towards downtown and Brickell. One of the rad things Miami is renown for is its amazing street art. Next time I’m in town, I want to spend an entire day in Miami checking out all of the beautiful urban murals and the downtown core a little more.

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4) Eat at Mignonette. While you’re in downtown Miami, make sure to stop by Mignonette for dinner. This new restaurant is a collaboration between Blue Collar owner and executive chef Daniel Serfer and Miami food blogger Ryan Roman. Not only are they specialized in fresh seafood and oysters, they’ve also got an amazing selection of vegetarian options. They have a tasty selection of salads, sides and appetizers as well as the best homemade bread pudding I’ve ever had!

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5) Spend the day at the Standard Miami Beach. You don’t need to stay at the Standard Miami Beach in order to enjoy their dreamy facilities. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing day, far from all of the ruckus you can usually find in South Beach. Tucked away on an island, this little slice of heaven has become one of our go-to spots when in the city. You can enjoy this lovely property when you spend $75 or more on any of their spa treatments. They have an incredible selection of massages, treatment baths, bodywork, etc. to choose from. With a day pass, you can spend the rest of your time lounging by the pool, swimming in the ocean, napping in one of their gardens, eating at their delicious restaurant, getting rid of toxins in the sauna… whatever your heart desires!

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A New Vegas Experience

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Ah Las Vegas! One of the craziest places I’ve been to on earth, where pretty much anything goes. To some, this place fulfills all of their fantasies and to others, this place inspires nothing at all. Having been to Las Vegas now close to a dozen times, either for short stays, shows or as a way to get to California, I definitely felt like I had seen it all. I don’t really gamble (unless you call playing $5 in the Michael Jackson slot machine gambling…) and I don’t go out clubbing, so Vegas doesn’t really appeal to me unlike a lot of people. Or at least I thought it didn’t… Until I went to Vegas last month and got a completely different view and experience. The reason being, I did things in Vegas I never thought I would do. Vegas is really what you want it to be. If you’re on the lookout for a new Vegas experience here are a few recommendations:

1) Vegas Watersports. Located in the beautiful National Recreation Area of Lake Mead, just 30 minutes away from the Vegas strip, Vegas Watersports is a small company held by some rad locals that offer people the chance to wakeboard, wakesurf, waterski, etc. in the most gorgeous setting. We had the raddest guide, who is a full-time Las Vegas firefighter but also an avid wakeboarder. He was super welcoming, friendly and incredibly fun to spend time with. We spent two hours on the boat with him. He had prepared some cold water bottles, a great music selection and also had the best tips to improve our boarding chops. He also got us to try wakesurfing, which I can say is now one of my newest addictions! Not only was Lake Mead super quiet and peaceful, it was beautiful beyond belief and the water was incredibly warm. We finished our excursion with a super relaxing and refreshing swim in the lake before heading back to the marina. Our excursion was probably two of the best hours of my life! If watersports isn’t for you, the national park is also a great place for camping, picnics and trekking.

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2) Michael Jackson One.  Ever since I was a kid, my dad has taken me to pretty much every different Cirque du Soleil. I had seen “O” a couple of years ago in Vegas and was floored, but nothing had really prepared me for the experience of Michael Jackson One. It’s Cirque du Soleil at its finest. It’s the neatest combination of theatre, music, dance and acrobatics all wrapped into one breathtaking performance. Though tickets are somewhat pricey (over $100 US per person), it’s well worth the cash. The show brings you directly into Michael Jackson‘s universe with all of his greatest hits as a soundtrack. The show made me laugh, gave me chills and even made me shed a tear. It’s 90minutes of non-stop action and performances that will pull on your heartstrings. A truly magical experience!!

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3) Sensi. One of the top destinations on my travel bucket list is Hawaii. While we were staying at the Bellagio we decided to try out Royden Ellamar‘s Hawaiian inspired restaurant called Sensi for dinner one night. The idea behind the restaurant is to find sustainable and local raised products to make some culinary innovative creations inspired by the island life. Their menu is varied, they have a lot of fresh fish, seafood and meats as well as several vegan and vegetarian options. The thing that really stood out to me was originality and flavors. The “Vegan Tofu Scallops” I ordered was probably the tastiest vegan dish I’ve had in a while. They also had a great wine selection and the overall atmosphere was incredibly relaxing.

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4) Mix At Delano. If you’re looking for the dreamiest view of the Vegas strip, look no further than the Mix at Delano. This incredibly beautiful restaurant and lounge is located at the very top of the recently built Delano casino. You can choose to be seated indoors or outdoors on their beautiful outdoor patio. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Their lounge and restaurant both have a very modern and edgy vibe. The Mix is the perfect place for a date or a tasty drink with friends.

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5) Pro Gun Club. The following activity definitely won’t be for everyone. If you’re looking for a unique Nevada experience that is more on the wild side, this might be for you. I’m not at all a gun advocate, on the contrary guns scare the living crap out of me. That said, in Vegas the gun culture is so present it’s impossible to go to Vegas without seeing signs for shooting ranges or gun shops. I had heard of this interesting place tucked away in a remote location in the middle of the Nevada desert, just 30 minutes from the strip. Though I would have never gone on my own, I know that it was something Offner had been wanting to try once in his lifetime, as a way to educate himself more than anything else. After having done it once, I can honestly say I would never do it again but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn about safety and the power of these actual things. The time I spent there was very overwhelming so I would say that it is not for the faint of heart. That said, the people who worked there were all very gracious and kind.

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What do you like doing when you’re in Vegas? Send me your recommendations!

Capri c’est fini!

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You may or may not have heard of the 1965 French hit song “Capri c’est fini” by Hervé Villard… Before going to Capri, @Offner kept singing it to me over and over again. It seemed like the song you absolutely had to know if you were going to visit this beautiful island in the south of Italy. I was lucky enough to be invited to a wedding in Capri at the beginning of June (hands down the most beautiful & romantic wedding I’ve ever been to, woah!) and here are some of the things I learned while I was there…

1) If you’re going to Capri, you want to take the Hydrofoil. What is the Hydrofoil you ask? It’s the quickest ferry boat you can take to get to the island from Napoli. They have three different types of ferries, ranging in cost from 12 Euros to 19 Euros for the Hydrofoil, for a 1-way ticket. The extra 7 Euros reduces the time of your trip by almost half. It’ll take you 45-50mins to get there on this high-speed boat. Plus on the way, you get to enjoy a beautiful view of Pompei that you’ll get to see from up close!

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2) Capri vs. Anacapri. The island is divided into two major “villages” if you can call them that. Capri and Anacapri. You have a lot of locals and tourists staying in both of these areas. Anacapri allows you to be more on the west side, see the sunset and be closer to the beach whereas Capri allows you to overlook a lot of the island. Both areas have shops, mini hotels and good restaurants to eat at. We opted to rent an airbnb villa in Capri, yes… a villa! It was dirt cheap and belonged to an elderly couple that was so kind as to rent us their entire place that came with an outdoor wood oven, huge patio, beautiful gardens, etc. It was way cheaper than any of the little hotels on the island and definitely made you feel like you were a local. Both places will require you to walk a lot, there’s lot’s of walking up and down but with such pretty views everywhere on the island, fun shops and beautiful flowers & trees, your walks will be thoroughly enjoyable (just don’t wear heels!)

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3) You’re going to want to rent a boat. Forget all the guided boat tours around the island that end up costing you an arm and a leg, instead round up a few people (max 10) and rent a boat for 100 Euros located just at the bottom of the Funicular. Renting a boat is without a doubt the best thing we did while we were there. Not only did it come equipped with towels and water bottles, it also had a sunshade and allowed us to be completely independent for an entire afternoon. We got to go explore caves, swim, sunbathe, relax, eat and just enjoy the beautiful sights. You can drive around the island in about 2 hours.

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4) Capri cabs are better than any other cabs in the world. Here’s why – they’re all convertibles with sunshades, they fit up to six passengers and some of them even come equipped with a flatscreen, a disco ball and strobe light for nighttime dance parties in the cab… This is for real!

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5) Bring your bathing suit. Yea it’s an obvious one but you HAVE to swim in the Mediterranean sea while you’re in Capri. There are so many different beaches. A lot of them are rocky, so watch out for urchins or little jelly fish here and there, but the water is SUPER clear and so refreshing. It tends to get really hot in Capri and it’s honestly the best way to relax. Plus, lot’s of incredible restaurants that serve fresh seafood and homemade dishes are located right on the waterfront!

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6) Before you go, watching the sunset from Faro is a must. The last night we were in Capri, we were invited to join friends at an amazing beachside bar right beside the lighthouse. You can either just have a drink at the bar or go down a few steps and enjoy delicious traditional cuisine outdoors at Lido Del Faro. They serve delicious homemade pasta dishes, seafood, have a wonderful selection of wines and a super laid-back atmosphere.

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Capri, c’est en effet fini!

Welcome to Miami!

Two weekends ago I was able to spend a few days in Miami. My last visit to Miami dates back to last November but I had only spent 48hrs in this tropical wonderland. Growing up in Quebec, Florida was always a very popular destination for my family in the winter. I think my first ever trip as a baby was to Orlando when I was just a few months old. I’ve done the Orlando/Disney trip a handful of times, stayed in West Palm Beach with my grand-ma, went to Fort Lauderdale a few times but hadn’t spent too much time in Miami before.

So I was really happy to have more quality time there to discover some of the city’s hotspots.

Summer isn’t necessarily the best time of year to head to Miami, that’s when it tends to rain a lot just because it gets so humid and hot. We got lucky with the weather, it only rained one morning out of four and a half days. It was 42+ celsius and sunny the whole time.

We spent most of our time at the beach, the water was SO warm! It is also really clear and the ocean floor is soft and sandy, so you can see all sorts of tropical fish swimming around you. It’s beautiful! Though a little pricey – $50 a day for two chairs and a parasol but you can come and go as you please the entire day, we made sure to protect ourselves from the hot sand and intense sun. There’s really nothing quite like swimming in the ocean. It’s oh so relaxing!!

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I was able to do a little bit of shopping while I was there. My two favorite spots are: Collins Ave. (where you’ll find everything from Zara to LF, to Armani, etc.) and also the pedestrian outdoor shopping area on Lincoln Road.

I’m a huge fan of Art Deco so seeing all the different art deco hotels, buildings, clubs, museums, etc. are so amusing to me. We took the time to visit one of their Art Deco themed museum – the Wolfsonian FIU, located on Washington Ave. They had interesting collections on women and sports, Zeppelins, Art Deco, Architecture, etc. It’s only $7 per person and will take 1-2 hours of your time.

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3 favorite places to eat:

The Dutch – is located in the W Hotel in South Beach. They offered a brilliant fall fixed price menu with one appetizer, one main and a dessert. Everything everyone had there was absolutely to die for! The wine selection was also top notch! The vibe of the place was cozy yet stylish, the staff was knowledgeable and super helpful. I loved my dinner there and can’t wait to go back!

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Otentic – I officially found the best cheese platter in Miami. This small restaurant located on Washington Ave. makes typical French dishes. I loved drinking a Monaco (beer & grenadine drink), their charcuterie boards and salads are also killer. They make a mean chocolate mousse! I love their attention to detail, offering customers a free glass of white wine and tapenade as soon as you walk in. The owner Aurélien (yup, same name as Offner!) is super young and friendly. A must!

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The Forge – Loved eating at this over the top Art Deco inspired restaurant. The atmosphere was young, hip and fun! The styling of the place was unreal. They had a special on Veuve Clicquot champagne the night we went so if you ordered a glass of champagne at the bar, they would serve you unlimited appetizers. Unreal! The food was also heavenly. They had very tasty bread baskets and a fabulous selection of wine. I had the soup and grilled cheese, Offner had the burger and his parents, the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! Their little dessert tray was also yummy. It’s a festive place with loud music so if you’re looking for a quieter spot, this may not be the place for you!

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Now for something completely different, the 11th Street Diner located on Washington and 11th Street is also a superb place to grab some quick breakfast or lunch. It’s the original building that was constructed in 1948 in New Jersey that they moved to Miami in the 1990s.

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A bar to check out:

The Broken Shaker – is located in the hip Freehand Miami hostel. Offner always loves checking out up and coming bars in every city we visit. He had heard of this place because of their original handcrafted drinks made from ingredients, herbs & spices directly taken from the place’s garden. We tasted their savory sweet and spicy homemade punch. They also had a tremendous outdoor garden/patio with a pool, lot’s of fun seating areas, little lights, trees, ping pong tables, etc.

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Finally, if you’re looking for a cool morning or afternoon excursion, I highly recommend taking a trip to the everglades at the Everglades Safari Park. I’m not one to do too many touristy things on vacation but this was really well organized, informative and fun. For $40, they take you from South Beach (the location of your choice) on a 40min bus ride to the everglade national park. You then go on a 45min airboat tour where they teach you about the different species of snakes, alligators, wildlife, etc. in the national park. That is followed by an informative alligator demonstration (no one wrestles with alligators!) and time to walk around their sanctuary where you can see all sorts of alligators, crocodiles, lizards, etc. They then take you back to your hotel in South Beach. Honestly, well worth the money and super amusing!

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Our time in Miami went by SO fast! With it only being a 3hr flight from Toronto, it’s the perfect long weekend destination! Can’t wait to go back soon!

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