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 Carlsbad

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Carlsbad is a cute surf town located on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. It has been one of my favorite locations to spend time surfing and relaxing. If you’ve never ben to the area before, here are some things I recommend on your trip there!

1) Go for a run on the Seawall. Located along the PCH between Pine Street and Tamarack Ave., the Seawall is a great spot to run right along the coast. The mile long path allows you to be separated from the bike path and cars while also being closer to the ocean. Running on the seawall is exceptional because you have the most spectacular view of the ocean and even sunset during your run. If you’re looking to clock more than just a few miles, you can continue running along the PCH, on the bike path to Leucadia and even Encinitas. Nothing like the ocean breeze and breathing salt water air while running!

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2) Grab breakfast or a juice from Choice Juicery. Choice Juicery is located right on Carlsbad Village Drive in downtown Carlsbad. They’ve got a super relaxing oasis-like property where people can come and sit on turf or beautiful wooden benches. The people on staff are all incredibly friendly. They offer a plant-based menu that is 100% organic, gluten free and dairy free. It’s a great place to grab breakfast – their breakfast bowls and smoothies are sumptuous! My favorite was the “PB&J” bowl with homemade granola & banana. They also serve great salads, superfood snacks and a tasty selection of juices. Their “Hot Sunrise” drink was a perfect mid-day pick-me-up!

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3) Go surfing in South Carlsbad. Beacons beach at the edge of Carlsbad and Leucadia is a good spot for longboards. The waves are usually pretty small and also very forgiving. It’s also a great area to picnic with the family or friends and hang out for the entire day. If you’re looking for something a little bigger, you can also head down to Swami’s in Encinitas just a few minutes south.

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4) Explore downtown. The one thing I loved most about staying in Carlsbad is being able to walk everywhere. The downtown area is adorable and has some super rad vintage shops, record stores, book stores, beach shops, etc. There are also a lot of delicious local restaurants such as PAON (if you’re looking for something more high-end and classic, their homemade pasta was delicious!), or Swami’s Cafe (the best & cheapest brunch spot in the city!), or even Cessy Taco Shop for some cheap tacos or burritos. If you’re looking for a little entertainment, there are some films being presented outdoors throughout the summer and also the Carlsbad Village Theatre that always presents some great plays, comedy shows, etc. The city also has beautiful parks, lot’s of bike paths and great places to hang out.

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5) Grab a post-surf pizza at Pizza Port. Pizza Port is a local institution. If you’re from the area, chances are you’ve eaten at Pizza Port before, celebrated a birthday there, had some of their homemade beers, pizza, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to eat their pizza a handful of times but going to their Carlsbad location is always my favorite. I love their outdoor patio, the family and community vibe there, their delicious garlic buddies, enormous salads and of course, their super tasty pizzas. Though I’m not really a beer drinker, the place is also renown for their cool beers brewed fresh on premise. Some of the beers worth trying: “Sharkbite Red”, “Wipeout IPA” and “Amigo Later”, all found at the Carlsbad location. Make sure you also try their wholegrain beer pizza crust while you’re there, it’s unreal!

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Camper Van

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Roadtrip anyone? I’ve been dying to get back into a van like this and head out for a long roadtrip. Last time I did such a thing, it was 2006. I left Montreal for three months on tour across North America. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Waking up in a different city every day, meeting new people, never knowing where you’d end up or what would happen, it was such an incredible journey. It allowed me to grow immensely and get to know myself and the people I was with a whole lot better. To me, it’s the ultimate freedom. I dream of crossing North America again, or going to Europe or even doing the Australian Gold Coast, while stopping at some of the best surf spots. Dreamy! Where would you go if you could get into a camper van today?

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Photos by @Offner

Anine Bing Studded Boots With Buckles (get them here)

Sincerely Jules Muse tee

Anine Bing olive plaid shirt (get it here)

Zara Green Wool Coat

5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

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1) Look up grocery stores or markets in advance. I was recently traveling to Regina and Winnipeg, two cities that aren’t renown for the healthiest food options. Knowing that, I decided to look up in advance the areas I would be staying in to see if there were any organic or local markets I could shop at while I was there. Sometimes, there won’t necessarily be some healthy grocery options in your area so you’ll have to make due with what’s available. For example, while we were in the prairies, our hotels were only close to a Safeway, which isn’t the best grocery store chain but they did have a few organic and healthy food options. It was a lot more expensive than let’s say in Toronto, but even if the groceries were a bit pricier, you always end up saving money by buying groceries instead of going out to eat.

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2) Pack snacks and lunches. If you have the luxury of bringing a cooler or a lunch box while you’re traveling, bring one with you. If not, pack a few Tupperware containers or re-usable bags that you can use to pack some snacks or lunches with you while you’re traveling. It’s also a good idea to travel with a canteen, so that you can always drink water instead of buying water bottles, sodas, juices, etc. I always pack snacks or a lunch, depending on how long my flight is when I’m traveling. Airport food is always SO expensive and also there are very few airports that actually have healthy organic snacks available. Granted, so do! Airports like San Francisco, Paris, London, Vienna and even Toronto do now have some healthy options for food but most of them don’t.

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3) Ask for a mini fridge in your room. Most hotels in North America will carry mini fridges in their rooms, which is perfect when you’re staying somewhere for a while. Having a mini fridge will allow you to buy things from the grocery store like fresh fruit, veggies, yogourt and milk that you can use for your breakfast, to make lunches, etc. Having a fridge will also allow you to save a lot of money, by not going out. In addition, you’ll be able to control what you eat and what you put in your body! Also, if you are making food at the hotel, there’s always the possibility of asking for cutlery or even dishes at the front desk or the hotel’s restaurant, that you can re-use every day. If you’re staying in an airbnb, instead of a hotel, chances are they’ll have a fridge and full kitchen, which is even more awesome than a hotel room!

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4) Pack your workout clothes and a pair of sneakers. If you’re traveling to a warm’ish place (like basically anywhere but the prairies in February), lace up and go for a run. You can map out your run in advance either using the Nike + running app or your app of choice. It’s a great way to also see the city you’re in. If you’re also traveling to a big city, chances are they’ll have a local run club that you can join depending on what days you’re in the city. Nike has run clubs in many big cities around the world and they’re always free to join.

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If you’re staying in a hotel chain, chances are they’ll have a gym or even a pool. While I was recently traveling to the prairies, both of the hotels I was staying at had potentially the WORST gyms I had even seen. They only have 1 or 2 machines, no free weights and no space to do exercise beside the machines. As a result, I didn’t use their gym facilities as often as I would have liked. Luckily, on my phone I have the free NTC app (there are lot’s of other free similar apps and videos available for working out) so I was able to get a few workouts in, in my hotel room. Also, packing something like a skipping rope or rubber bands can be very useful if the gym isn’t your thing. Skipping for a few minutes is always great cardio exercise and great for your arms. Another alternative is if you’ve got a gym membership with one of the big gym chains in the country, chances are, there may be a branch of that gym where you’re staying.

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5) Walk. If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, you forgot your bathing suit, you have no space to exercise in your room or you don’t feel like it, go for a walk. It’s a great way to explore the area you’re staying in and also a great way to get a bit of exercise in. If possible, walk to get groceries, walk to get to where you’re working or visiting, etc. Walking will always be better than no exercise at all. It’s always a good thing to get fresh air, maybe listen to some tunes and relax. It’s a great way to air out your ideas and get inspired for whatever’s next on your travel agenda!

Hope these tips were helpful! Share with me some of your healthy travel tips!

5 Things to Do in Paris

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1) Grab a coffee at Springsioux – One of the hottest concept stores in Paris is now serving coffee daily. Grab an espresso, latte or they’re own Sprinsioux special coffee while you browse through their beautiful shop, people watch or walk around Le Marais. Ste. Croix de la Bretonnerie is booming right now, with tons of new shops and restaurants in the area. You never know who you’ll bump into in that area.

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2) Visit the National Museum of Natural History – If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, head over to the beautiful National Museum of Natural History, located across La Seine and from the 4th arrondissement. This 17th-century palace houses plants, animals and a HUGE collection of skeletons, fossils and more particularly dinosaur skeletons. It’s such a magical place because it’s nothing like current museums. The building itself is so unique and has such an old vibe. There’s also beautiful gardens and outdoor exhibits that are worth looking at. The Great Gallery Of Evolution was by far my favorite, see the incredible photos below!

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3) Drink a Monaco at Les Philosphes – Les Philosophes is one of the most sought after bars in the Le Marais area for a post-work drink or appetizer on their terrace. It’s the best spot for people watching on the bustling Rue Vieille du Temple. They’ve got the best salads and appetizers. Be sure to grab a Monaco (a French drink composed of beer and grenadine syrup) or even a Picon bière while you’re there.

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4) Jardin des Tuileries – This beautiful garden may be well-known by tourists but is still totally worth checking out. The gardens are located in the 1st arrondissement and is also in proximity to the Louvre Museum. The public garden was originally created by Catherine de Medicis in 1564 and was opened to the public in 1667. It’s beautiful all-year-round is a great spot for a picnic, a walk or just to sit down and enjoy the sights. It’s also  great spot to observe the beautiful Parisian architecture.

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5) Carnavalet Museum – Located in the 4th arrondissement otherwise known as Le Marais, since 2013 this lovely mansion is dedicated to the history of the city. The museum is located in the former Hôtel Carnavalet and Hôtel Le Peletier. You will find different collections spanning from the 13th century onwards past the French Revolution and up until the 20th century. I loved the mix of paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs that were present along with furniture, ceramics and decorations from the different eras. My favorite room was this golden room below, which was just stunning! Also, as an added bonus, the museum is FREE!

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What are some of the things you love doing in Paris? Let me know 😀

Exploring San Francisco

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This summer I returned to beautiful San Francisco. Though I travel to Los Angeles several times a year, I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, back in 2006 when I was on tour. I was delighted to be back in a city I didn’t know much about and that has changed so much over the past couple of years.

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If you’re flying into San Francisco, the good news is that the airport is pretty awesome! It’s located only a few minutes from downtown (you can access it easily via cab or the BART), it’s new, clean and also offers some of the healthiest food options I’ve ever seen before in an airport. I loved their market and all of their fresh food options.

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I spent five full  days in San Francisco, which really gave me the opportunity to re-familiarize myself with this lovely city.  We spent those days walking for hours non-stop. San Francisco is really a great city to explore by foot. If you’re going to go explore though, make sure you wear comfortable footwear as you will have to climb up and down hills to get to the different areas of town. San Francisco also has many bike paths than span across the downtown area. They have the Bay Area Bike Share system that you can use if you want to tour the city on wheels. I’ll be posting a special San Francisco food blog soon but in the meantime, here are some of the things that stood out while exploring the city.

1) Mission District. Is an incredibly unique neighborhood that is full of life and culture located in east-central San Francisco. What immediately stood out in this area was the huge presence of the Mexican culture. Everywhere you go you will find influences of Mexico in the food, the shops and the environment. Mission reminds me of a small Brooklyn or even Parkdale in Toronto. There are many young adults, artists and entrepreneurs that live in the area. Valencia Street between 24th and 14th street is the main street in the neighborhood where you’ll find a ton of really neat shops, restaurants, bars, schools, etc.  Guerrero and Mission Street are also filled with tons of different businesses. Every street around these main arteries is filled with beautiful homes and apartments. The architecture in this neighborhood is stunning, just like anywhere in San Francisco. The Victorian rowhouses are all colorful and each have something special. One of my favorite shops that I found on Valencia was Paxton Gate, a boutique shop that specializes in taxidermy, fossils, plants, science & so much more. The shop is filled with so many interesting books, unique gifts & decorations. There’s also a handful of vintage stores on Valencia that have amazing clothes and accessories.

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2) Coffee culture. I could have an entire blog just dedicated to coffee in San Francisco because it’s really a big deal. San Francisco’s coffee shops are renown across the US. You may have already heard of the legendary Philz Coffee located in Mission District, the place where each coffee is brewed individually and blended for each customer. For the past 25 years, Phil has been making his own unique blends of coffee and serving them to their faithful customers. Going into Philz is definitely a different experience. Other than Philz, you’ll also find Ritual Coffee Roasters in Mission, on Valencia Street. It’s smaller but a great spot to grab a croissant and coffee on the go or to stay for a few minutes. The simple and clean decor makes the place very modern and bright. Also, on Valencia you’ll find Fourbarrel Coffee, a spot that reminds me a lot of Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles. It was rated as the #1 coffee spot in San Francisco by San Francisco Weekly. It’s a big open space. You can buy lot’s of coffee accessories and merch from the shop. It definitely feels a little more upscale than Philz and is also a major hipster hangout. If you go closer to the pier, you can grab coffee from Blue Bottle, a coffee shop that originated in Oakland, CA and that now can be found everywhere in the Bay Area, New York and Los Angeles.

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3) Street art. Everywhere you look in downtown San Francisco, you’ll find beautiful and colorful street art. Artists of all types and backgrounds leave traces of their talent across the city. I was particularly drawn to the art I saw in Mission District, just because a lot of it was inspired by the Mexican culture. I really think that street art is so special and unique and makes a city so vibrant. It adds character to the building or structure it’s on. I think each city should make space for street artists to leave their marks.

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4) Ocean Beach. I couldn’t go to San Francisco without going to Ocean Beach. Though a little far from downtown, the ocean is pretty easily accessible via bus if you take Judah Street. Another way to access the beach is to walk through Golden Gate Park, which is what we decided to do. Golden Gate Park is so incredibly vast and lush. It reminded me of Central Park minus the crowds. Once you get to the beach, you feel like you’re in a completely different place. We stopped at Java Beach Cafe to grab some beach snacks before crossing the road and climbing up the sand dunes. There’s a nice bike path located at the beach that goes on for miles. The beach in San Francisco is so large and quiet. The sand dunes prevent you from seeing the city behind you so you feel like you’re tucked away somewhere quiet and beautiful. Though I didn’t get out in the water, I did see a handful of surfers wearing 3/2 wetsuits riding some waves. A tip: Make sure you grab an extra layer of clothing when going to the beach, it tends to get a really windy. The view though… priceless!

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5) Wine country. On the last day we were in San Francisco we were invited to go down to wine country in Sonoma. We visited a few family owned wineries including the Benziger Family Winery located in Glen Ellen. What I particularly enjoyed about this specific winery is that it uses Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods to make their wine. We had a lovely tour of the estate and also had the best cheese & wine tasting I’ve ever had. They had such a tasty selection of cheeses, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Another fun winery on our tour was the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. This is a destination for the entire family, with a full hotel, restaurant, pool & spa. They also have a cool museum with artifacts from all of Coppola’s movies and his daughter’s movies as well. The pool and café are a great place to spend the afternoon.

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Before finishing this post, I feel compelled to mention that homelessness still seems to be a very major issue in San Francisco. They are everywhere you go in the city. I’ve seen a lot of homeless people in Los Angeles and other cities on the west coast, but the problem seems even greater in the city of San Francisco. I really felt helpless as a tourist seeing all the people on the streets. I hope the city can continue working on making the lives of these people better!

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5 Things to Do in Los Angeles

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1) Handboarding. Instead of surfing, next time you go to LA, try handboarding! One of the biggest handboarding companies and shapers is located right in Venice Beach. The company is called SLYDE Handboards and is run by the raddest couple – Steve Watts & Angela Ferendo. Steve, the founder and CEO of the company is originally from South Africa and has been shaping handboards for years. After traveling the world, he obtained a degree in product design and now is the leader of an amazing community of handboarders across the world. Their shop is located right off the Venice Beach boardwalk. They are always willing to initiate new people to the sport by taking them out in the water nearby.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had the chance to get in the water twice with them, while I was in LA in August and it was one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve done in a while. It’s thrilling to be able to catch a wave and propel yourself into it, while kicking with your fins and letting yourself glide with the handboard. Hanging out with Steve & Angela, we also met other locals who are involved in the sport. There’s definitely a nice community of friendly handboarders growing in Southern California, Florida and other parts of the world. I am a big fan of their boards, all of their graphics are made with artists from around the world and the boards themselves are designed with the best materials. They also have boards for everyone from beginners to pros. Highly recommend stopping by their shop (you’ll also get to meet their beautiful dog Cowboy!!), getting in the water and trying out handboarding. Guaranteed stoke!

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2) Stay at The LINE Hotel. There are so many hotels always opening up in Los Angeles but I would say that one of the latest and greatest hotels that’s opened up in downtown LA is hands down The LINE Hotel. Located in Koreatown to be exact, The LINE Hotel is a new hotel collaboration between Roy Choi (the Korean American chef that create the famous Kogi food truck in LA), The Houston Brothers, Sean Knibb and Poketo. The hotel itself is located in a mid-century building that has been transformed to offer the coolest modern rooms with the dreamiest views of the Hollywood Hills. In addition to the amazing rooms, they have the nicest rooftop pool and restaurant called Commissary. I’ve talked about Commissary before in one of other blogs here. It’s special because it’s a little garden oasis in the middle of the busy cityscape. Pot and the Pot Lobby Bar is renown for it’s delicious Korean food. The customer service at the hotel is fantastic and the rooms are pretty affordable. I could wake up there every day…

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3) Explore the coast. One of my favorite things to do while in Los Angeles is exploring all the different little cities and neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles. I love driving around the coast, parking the car and exploring all the gems in the area. I’ve found so many amazing shops, restaurants and communities thanks to just wandering around up and down the coast. If driving isn’t your thing, you can also explore a lot of the coast by just renting a bike for the day. The Strand or The Marvin Braude Bike Trail starts at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and goes as far south as Torrance Beach, south of Redondo Beach. The 26-mile path can be done with a bike, skateboard, rollerblades or whatever your heart desires. It’s a beautiful way to get to know the area better. The view is just so incredible and it’s super freeing to ride a bike instead of being stuck in traffic with a car. Many people take The Strand to commute every day to and from work if they live close to the ocean.

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4) Visit the Sunset Marquis. Whether for a drink, a bite to eat, a day at the spa or even to just enjoy their two pools, the Sunset Marquis is a classic Hollywood hotel that just doesn’t go out of style. There are many things that still make the hotel so special. I personally love all the rock memorabilia and photographs that you can find all around the hotel. The Morrison Hotel Gallery at the entrance of the hotel is also filled with iconic rock photographs. Bar 1200 is a small and private bar that makes you feel right at home. They offer classic drinks and always have the best music playlist. Plus, they also have a super cozy patio at the front that is dimly lit with small candles. Their restaurant Cavatina is a great place for a lunch, a meeting or a mid-day snack. Their menu focuses on local California products and is creative but also affordable. Relaxing by the pool after getting a spa treatment is also quite special. If you’re willing to spend the cash, I’d have you know that the rooms are incredibly lush and comfortable. I haven’t slept that well in a hotel in a while!

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5) Shop at The Kooples & Anine Bing. It’s impossible for me not to mention my two new favorite stores in LA. The Parisian brand The Kooples, finally made it’s big west coast entrance this summer, which a luxurious and enormous marble-floored shop on S Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The shop is split into two sections, they have both their men’s and women’s collection in the store. I had discovered this French rock n’ roll band two years ago while in Paris and have been coveting every collection since. Shopping at The Kooples is a unique experience.

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Those who’ve been following my blog, know how obsessed I am with all-things Anine Bing. The lovely designer recently opened up her first shop in Los Angeles on West 3rd Ave. in Beverly Hills. It so happened that I was in town the day her flagship store opened and got to be one of the first ones to shop her new collection. It’s also always such a pleasure to see Anine, she’s such an inspiring woman. I have so much respect for what she does. What I love about her new shop is that it’s bright, modern and minimalistic. All of the items from her current collection can be found at the shop. I love Anine’s passion for flowers and candles, it adds a little personalized touch to the shop. Everyone at the shop is incredibly nice and helpful. An added bonus, it’s located right next to the FONUTS bakery 😉 If you want a nice personalized shopping experience and are looking for rocker meets bohemian threads, you’ve got to stop by the shop!

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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!

5 Food Discoveries in Los Angeles

Here’s the first of a series of blogs I’ll be posting on my recent trip to Los Angeles. The theme for this blog is FOOD! If you’ve ever traveled to Los Angeles before, you know that there are always new restaurants opening up in every part of the city. One of the things I love most about traveling is trying out new restaurants everywhere I go. I’ve been vegetarian for over 12 years now and contrary to what most people think, I can eat just about everywhere (especially when traveling to California, where there are so many vegetarian-friendly dishes on all the menus!). I’d definitely say I’m an epicurean vegetarian! Here are 5 food discoveries I made while in LA earlier this month:

1) Fōnuts. Yes, there’s no typo here, fōnuts and not donuts. Fōnuts are donuts but better! Here’s why: they’re not fried, they are baked and/or steamed and come in so many incredible flavors, many of which are gluten-free and vegan. I first heard of fōnuts through Instagram and have been obsessively following their feed for the last couple of months, promising myself I’d check them out next time in LA. And that I did… not only once… or even twice, but three times! And boy was I not disappointed. I’d say, I became mildly obsessed with their baked goods while I was there. The thing I love most about them is that they use fresh and natural ingredients in every fōnut and they are made in-house daily. I love the “cake-like” taste & texture and the clever combination of flavors. They’re also not too filling as a result of not being fried and have a very different texture. Hands down my two favorites were the “Blueberry Earl Grey” and “Peanut Butter Chocolate“. A must if you’re in the Hollywood area. They’re located on West 3rd street, just at the corner of S. Crescent Heights Blvd.

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2) Gracias Madre. I had been meaning to go to Gracias Madre last summer and then on my trips since but each time, I ended up somewhere else. Gracias Madre’s is all about serving local, organic and vegan food. Three key words that totally attracted my attention when I had first heard of this amazing restaurant. Added bonus: it’s all Mexican food!! But not any kind of Mexican food, Mexican food done with a modern and clever twist. All of the food we ate at Gracias Madre was so incredibly fresh and flavourful! It was just the right amount of spice and all the dishes were very well balanced. The drinks were also so incredibly tasty. I highly recommend sharing a bunch of plates. My favorite appetizer: “Gorditas“, which are potato cakes accompanied by avocado and cashew cream. My favorite main: “El Plato” a dish with butternut squash, cashew cheese and chorizo mushrooms. My favorite dessert: their incredibly yummy “Fudge Brownie” made with salted mezcal caramel. One of the best parts about eating at Gracias Madre, was being on their incredibly beautiful outdoor terrace. It’s decorated with an outdoor fire place, beautiful lights, lanterns and is in the middle of trees and plants. Super romantic! You can make reservations through OpenTable, just make sure you reserve a little while in advance, the place is always busy.

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3) Sqirl. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a better brunch than the one I ate at Sqirl. Sqirl is a small cafe located in the Los Feliz area of LA. It’s packed with young hipsters, businessmen, actors, etc. who all come for their morning coffee, meetings or to just enjoy the incredible food their serve there. They’ve got a few seats inside but also have a great little alcove on the side of their restaurant with a bunch of chairs and tables. What makes Sqirl awesome is not only that everything is made from scratch in-house, including their jams, their almond milk, their hot sauce, etc., it’s also more than just a little cafe. They have an extensive breakfast/brunch and lunch menu that they make fresh in front of your eyes. Everything I tasted there was absolutely to die for! Things you NEED to try when you go to Sqirl: their vanilla bean lemonade, unreal! Also their open faced brioche with kale, tomatillo puree and fried egg. And finally for “dessert” their brioche with homemade jam and freshly milled almond hazelnut butter, WHA?! Take me back now!!

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4) Fig & Olive. A discovery that Offner made while looking for new restaurants to check out in LA. The restaurant has definitely become a city hotspot over the last little while. Located on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, Fig & Olive is a beautiful and classy restaurant. The decoration is sophisticated and so are the people that eat there (or they at least seem to be!). They’ve got a great selection of wine and an interesting choice of plates for dinner. Though a little bit more on the pricier side, the food is delicious, tasty and worth dishing out the extra cash. The fish “Paella del mar” seems to be a favorite among customers, including Offner himself. The thing that I also loved, was their incredibly well presented desert. Good times!

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5) Commissary. You’ll find this little oasis at The Line Hotel, located in Koreatown. The Line Hotel has only been open since the beginning of 2014 and is already attracting people from all over the world and incredibly hype (I will tell you more about the hotel itself on another upcoming blog!). Commissary is located in a greenhouse and is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their entire menu revolves around fruits and vegetables. Though not exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, there are definitely many veggie-friendly dishes. You can either sit at the bar or at one of their beautifully presented tables. The drink menu is original and savoury and so is the food. Another thing that’s super unique about this place, their menu contains no words, just pictures! A clever idea by the one and only chef Roy Choi (founder of the LA Kogi food truck!)! Yup! He’s the one responsible for the remarkably creative menu & space. Totally worth checking out!

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LA LA Land

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Off to LA LA Land this evening for some much needed relaxation and surf time! New travel post to follow after the trip!! I will be updating the blog a little less frequently while I’m away but I’m excited to announce that I’ll be publishing a very special menswear daily outfit series of blogs starting next Tuesday August 19th! I’ll have three different posts coming on the blog next week, so stay tuned! It was a whole lot of fun to dress up my favorite male model – @offner! Can’t wait to share these with you!

Wishing you all a wonderful next couple of days!

Mel xo