Everywhere We Ate in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Everywhere We Ate in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Travel plans are starting to look more like a possibility this summer and after a mostly shut-in 2020, I know so many people are excited to explore new areas safely again. My husband and I actually had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for our friends’ wedding in January 2021, and it was such a wonderful experience. From the beautiful elopement ceremony, to the natural beauty of Costa Rica, to the excursions, it was a trip we will remember forever. As a millennial traveler, one thing I always ask for recommendations on when exploring a new place is where to eat!

Below, I’ve listed all the restaurants we ate at during our week-long stay in the Tamarindo and Playa Langosta, Costa Rica area. I give all the credit for the restaurant selections to our friends who planned the trip for their wedding. They are excellent planners and picked all of the establishments we ate at. All of the food was good, but some were straight up culinary marvels. We did go during the COVID-19 pandemic, but everyone wore masks and followed CDC social distancing guidelines. All restaurants and venues followed the same protocols, so we truly felt safe. As always, travel at your own risk and only if you feel safe enough to do so. But without further ado, let’s get into the list of restaurants, shall we?

1- El Barco Restaurant at Hotel Capitan Suizo

Our first day in Costa Rica was your typical arrival day. Arrive in your new location, go through Customs, find transportation into the city, and check into your hotel. We stayed in a beautiful private villa overlooking the ocean and explored the property. After enjoying some fresh, local mango and wine, we freshened up for dinner and headed out to El Barco Restaurant at Hotel Capitan Suizo. The atmosphere of this restaurant at night is simply stunning. Guests enjoy a dinner under the stars while enjoying the ambience of string lights, the private pool and hotel bar. We had a party of six and everyone enjoyed their meal. My beverage of the night was a caipirinha, which I had for the first time. The star of the drink is lime, and it is so refreshing. I opted for a pasta dish in red sauce. It was surprisingly sweet, yet savory. I loved it.

2- Langosta Beach Club

The next day, we drove to the public beach to soak up some sun and sand. After a few hours of chatting, playing in the waves and reading a bit, we all worked up an appetite and were ready for lunch. Our villa came with a temporary pass to the Langosta Beach Club and let me tell you, the casual atmosphere of beautiful people lounging around the pool mixed with locals and tourists enjoying cocktails and hearty fare right on the beach, you can’t beat it. I was so hungry, so I actually opted for a mushroom and Swiss burger with fries. I also had a pineapple mojito. Both were delicious!

3- Little Lucha

Later that night, we dined at Little Lucha, an authentic Mexican street style taco restaurant. When you walk into the restaurant, you can’t help but smile. With colorful framed art of luchadores and a Volkswagen bus that’s been transformed into high top seating, it’s a really fun and quaint atmosphere. There are so many combinations and flavor profiles you can create from the beef, chicken, barbacoa, pork or seafood tacos. And arguably, that is part of the fun! This meal was also one of the more reasonably priced on the trip, so that was also really nice.

4-NOI Bistro

Breakfast options? I thought you’d never ask. The day of the wedding ceremony, we ate at NOI Bistro. Located right in the middle of downtown Tamarindo, Noi is a charming eatery where you can find locals, expats and tourists enjoying a long or short meal, nonetheless satisfying. We were welcomed by the sweetest management team and truly enjoyed every second there. I ordered beans, poached eggs and salsa over a small tortilla with sweet potatoes, plantain chip and a side of avocado. The breakfast was fresh and tasty, but the coffee was phenomenal. They make their coffee in-house, and when served over ice, the ice seems to have creamer in it already. It was so sweet and cold, and gives you just the jolt of caffeine you need. I asked if their coffee was available for purchase and it was! So I ordered a bag of ground coffee beans to take home.

5-El Chiringuito

The next day, we had a morning excursion of zip lining and UTV riding in the rainforest. I am actually not that big of a fan of zip lining, but I did it for my friends! It was scary and fun at the same time. The guided UTV tour is an excellent way to see parts of Costa Rica that you normally wouldn’t see in the built up areas of town. After the excursion, we all were famished. We headed over to El Chiringuito for lunch. The beachfront establishment seems like a popular spot for surfers and beach goers, but don’t let the relaxed vibe fool you. The food here is so good! Crazy good! If I had to rate it, I’d say this was the best meal we had on the trip. We had ceviche and calamari as starters, and both dishes were so fresh and full of flavor. My main dish was the caramelized chicken wings with soy, which I’m crying that I didn’t take a picture of because it was just as beautiful as it was tasty. My husband had the grilled octopus kebabs over polenta and he said it was very good.

6-Pangas

Our last full day of Tamarindo was spent shopping in town and winding down at the pool. It felt great to soak up those last few hours of Costa Rican sun while floating in the cool blue water. We couldn’t leave without one more memorable meal together, so we all got freshened up and drove to our last reservation as the sky faded into nightfall. We arrived at Pangas Beach Club in a more secluded area of Tamarindo. The atmosphere had everything we love: String lights, sand, candlelit tables and of course, food with flair. The food was good. We ordered a good bit of seafood around the table, including the mixed seafood platter, grilled lobster and lobster risotto. I closed out the night with a caipirinha.

Tips for Planning a Mother/Daughter Trip in 2021

Tips for Planning a Mother/Daughter Trip in 2021

Mother’s Day is coming up soon, and while there are so many gift possibilities, one idea is to plan a mother and daughter trip. While traveling in 2021 should still be taken with caution, it is not completely out of the question. With the right research, you could plan a fabulous trip that you and your mother will be talking about for years to come!

{The beach is always a lovely place to visit}

1- Figure out a Location

Where would you like to go? Do you want to be in warm weather on the beach or in the cool weather overlooking the mountains?

{This photo was taken during a trip I took with my mom to Myrtle Beach, SC in November 2020}

2- When to go

After you’ve narrowed down where you want to go, pick a date for your trip. It doesn’t have to be during May if that doesn’t work for both of your schedules. Pick a timeline that works best for both of your schedules and book your trip!

3- Where to Stay

Lodging is one of the more important details of your vacation. Would you like to stay in a historic hotel, a modern air b&b, a resort or somewhere else? Once you’ve navigated where you’d like to stay, go ahead and reserve your room! I would highly recommend purchasing travel insurance or some sort of hotel room protection plan just in case you need to cancel or reschedule your trip for later.

{Got the rental car and ready to go!}

4- Transportation

Depending on how far away your destination is from where you live, you will need to either purchase your flights, book a rental car or make other necessary travel arrangements. Again, I would recommend purchasing travel insurance with your transportation method. The extra cost is well-worth the security of knowing you will be reimbursed or credited if plans change.

{We filled the back seat with shopping bags! Successful shopping trip.}

5- Activities

Use a couple of search platforms to write down what you’d like to do on this trip. Would you like to go shopping, wine tasting, take a historic walking tour, etc.? I like to browse Pinterest, the specific city’s website, Thrillist, and YouTube to get ideas of what I might like to do in the destination I’m traveling to.

{Sushi <3}

6- Food

After doing so many fun activities, you’ll need to refuel with some delicious meals. Do you plan to cook your own meals on the trip or will you be dining out? If dining out, research some of the restaurants you’d like to check out. If cooking, try creating a meal plan so you know what groceries to buy once you arrive in town.

7- Photo and Video Documentation

On this trip, promise me one thing: that you’ll take lots and lots of photos! Whether you prefer taking pictures with your smartphone or DSLR, or taking video clips, make sure you document as many moments as possible. And if you want to take your preparation to the next level, I’d recommend looking up pose ideas on Pinterest. That way, if you come by a really pretty location, you will have a variety of unique poses for you and your mom to have on standby. Even if you’re not big on posting photos to social media, having these fun photos will be great for your photo albums!

8- Budget

Now that you have all the details of your trip, don’t forget to set a budget! This will help you narrow down what to expect to spend during the trip. It would be a good idea to build a buffer into your budget for extra costs on the trip. Don’t forget to plan for paying gratuity at restaurants and other locations where services are provided.

9- Look up Restrictions in the Area

Last but not least, make sure to look up health and safety restrictions in the location you plan to travel to. Lots of locations still recommend patrons wear face coverings, there might be capacity limits at certain businesses, and some amenities might be closed due to safety precautions. Either way, knowing beforehand will set an idea of what to expect so there aren’t any shocks once you arrive.

Happy (and safe) traveling!

Visiting Hollywood Studios and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Visiting Hollywood Studios and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

My husband and I recently visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL for a weekend getaway. The primary goal was to explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, and I can honestly say it was worth the visit! Everything from the rides, to the food, shopping and general atmosphere felt so immersive.

First thing, the arrival.

After you enter Hollywood Studios, you walk about 10 minutes into the park and that’s when the whole Star Wars experience begins. The textured rock-like walls, vendors and life-size Millennium Falcon make visitors feel like they are walking through Tatooine. We were seriously in awe.

We rode Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and both attractions were fun! We loved being in the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon, trying to evade enemies. And Rise of the Resistance, I won’t give any spoilers, but that ride is very cool! Let’s just say you get a first-hand look at the dark side versus the light side.

All of the shops were very cool as well, but we especially enjoyed browsing around Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. There were just so many interesting trinkets, clothes and art pieces in the shop.

This Disney trip was different from our previous trips due to the necessary safety precautions. The park was much less crowded due to capacity limits, so as a result, wait times were much shorter. We wore face masks the whole time and only took them off briefly to eat or drink. The park staff was so diligent about cleaning areas thoroughly and often. There were hand sanitizer stations at every attraction, and there were six-foot social distancing markers on the ground everywhere throughout the park. I say all this to say we felt very safe there.

We were at the parks early, so we didn’t stay for lunch. We did, however, make room for some blue milk! I know it sounds gross, especially for someone who doesn’t like the taste of milk (me), but the “milk” is actually coconut milk! And the drink tastes more like a frozen treat you would get on vacation at a tropical island. It’s delicious and you should definitely try it.

As we sipped on our blue milk, we walked around the remaining shops and attractions before hitting other areas of the theme park, including the Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rock’n Roller Coaster. We closed out the day by visiting Disney Springs and later, City Walk for dinner.

Biltmore & Downtown Asheville Trip 2020

Biltmore & Downtown Asheville Trip 2020

If you know me, then you know that I love fashion, makeup and beauty. Another love of mine is traveling. With the current pandemic, most of our travel plans for the year got cancelled, but we were able to squeeze in a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, and it was such a fun trip. Everywhere we went, safety precautions were taken by our group as well as the businesses. So if you’re thinking about making a trip to this Southern City, keep reading for some restaurant, shopping and tourist ideas.

Downtown Asheville

One thing you’ll hear a lot about Asheville is that it’s a very artsy area. Most of downtown is filled with boutique shops, independent restaurants and art galleries. The vibe is very calm and relaxed, but don’t let that fool you. The food and arts scene is very high quality.

We had a group of four and started our day around 11 a.m. with brunch at Sovereign Remedies. The restaurant is very niche and relaxed, offering a chef-curated menu. We started with a round of mimosas, which were divine: the orange juice wasn’t too sweet and the bubbles from the champagne lightly danced in your mouth. Next up were the entrees. I had the Sovereign Hangover Cure, which consisted of house made breakfast sausage, home fries, fried egg and a micro salad. Finishing up, we had another round of cocktails where I opted for the Autumn Spritz.

After leaving the restaurant, we walked around downtown (masks on) to browse around the shops. We stopped at a local chocolate shop, French Broad Chocolate Factory & Cafe. This gave us an opportunity to try different items and, once again, everything was delicious. From the hot chocolate, to the chocolate snickerdoodle cookies, to the peanut butter and milk chocolate brownies, these sweet treats were truly decadent. Imagine the best brownie you’ve ever had, but richer, more dense and just the right amount of sweetness.

Biltmore Estate

There is so much to do at the Biltmore Estate. From touring the 19th century mansion, to dining at the restaurants, wine tastings, shopping, outdoor excursions, the list goes on. I will confess this was my fifth visit to Biltmore, but each visit is different. I continue to learn more about the history of the home and its impact in the community, I am still inspired by the decor and architecture, and I really enjoy strolling through the gardens for a little exercise in nature. The home is simply breathtaking and you must see it for yourself, especially if you love history and museums. I highly recommend going between November and January if it’s your first time. The house will be decked to the nines for Christmas and there’s this ambiance of holiday magic that simply cannot be replicated.

Food and Shopping

After you’ve worked up an appetite touring the home and gardens, head over to Antler Hill Village for food, wine and more. Due to safety precautions, there is limited capacity for the winery tours and tastings. You’ll want to make reservations in-person on the day of your visit. Since the wine tasting is a popular option, I would recommend signing up in person as early as you can to get your name on the list.

Restaurant reservations are a little bit easier to navigate since you can book through the Open Table app. Luckily for us, we opted to dine at Cedric’s Tavern around 5-5:30 p.m. and there was no wait! 🙂 Cedric’s Tavern has a very casual, yet sophisticated atmosphere. The menu features English pub favorites, small plates and of course, a selection of Biltmore wines. We tried the whiskey cured Scottish salmon and the pimento cheese with with house pretzel chips. For my main dish, I had the Carolina bison burger and paired it with Pinot Noir. Every part of this meal was delicious and the customer service was outstanding.

To finish the trip, we browsed through the shops at Antler Hill. My cousin and his wife have this tradition of buying a Christmas ornament at new locations they travel to, which I think is so cool! They picked up an ornament that has the Biltmore house engraved on it. I purchased a dainty gold enamel initial necklace from Traditions. After shopping, it was time to head back home.

Have you ever been to Biltmore Estate or downtown Asheville? Do you have any recommendations for future visitors or first time guests? Leave a comment below!