Finishing up our week of mini-moons, and an amazing run of guest posts, our girl Shanley is here to share her picks for a short stay in the Mile High City: Denver…

Having lived in Colorado my whole life, I have so much passion and love for this state! There is nothing like 300+ days of sun, the mountains a short drive away, and some of the nicest people around. Come September, I’ll be rounding out my 2nd year as a Denver resident and am still exploring and finding new gems in this up and coming city. It’s the perfect spot for a mini-moon, especially for the active couple who enjoys being out and about!

WHERE TO STAY
If you’re a boutique hotel person like me, then you’ll love what Denver has to offer. Of course, you can find a Westin and Ritz-Carlton here (among others) but I always think a weekend getaway is best stayed in a fun and funky hotel.

Hotel Teatro – Located in Denver’s music and theater district, Hotel Teatro is surrounded by up-and-coming culinary hotspots, top sports franchises and a breath-taking Rocky Mountain views. A lovely local spot.

Hotel Monaco – In the heart of downtown, Hotel Monaco is a bold hotel with everything you’d expect plus some fun perks – including large rooms with comfy beds, a complimentary happy hour, and the option to bring your pooch along if you choose. Insider tip – ask for a pet goldfish to keep the two of you company.

Magnolia Hotel – Comfortable but stylish, Magnolia Hotel has everything you need – nothing less and nothing more.

EATS & TREATS
Denver is hands-down a foodie town. With a restaurant and bar on every corner, there is always something new to try and always a coveted spot that is fairly easy to slip into sans-reservation. The city is known for restaurant’s ranging from farm to table, to gastropub goodness, to truly inspired creations.

For a great view of the city and a unique menu: try Linger in LoHi. Their street food inspired menu “embraces diversity of food, people, ethnicities, culture and life” and has this foodie town buzzing. (Make reservations!)

For a fancy night out: try ChoLon in Larimer Square, a modern Asian bistro with a swanky vibe. (Make reservations!)

For a taste of a locally sourced menu: try the Kitchen in LoDo, a community oriented bistro committed to environmentally friendly practices and big community tables.

For a retro atmosphere and gourmet American classics: try Steubens in Uptown. The nightly special on Sunday is chicken & waffles.

For a meal under $10: try Illegal Pete’s. Colorado’s local and favorite build your own burrito bar.

For the best brunch: try Panzano’s, located in the Hotel Monaco downtown. For something more casual but equally as delicious, try Snooze.

For a sweet treat: try Wednesday’s Pies in Larimer square or Little Man Ice Cream in LoHi.

For a quick (but incredible) breakfast sandwich, biscuits, or waffles: try Hi*Rise in Downtown.

IMBIBE
In case you haven’t heard, Denver is known for its craft breweries! Of course, the mega Coors brewery is down the street in Golden, CO but I’m a fan of the little (but still well known) breweries around the downtown area. And it’s not just about beer anymore – a few distilleries and an urban winery have popped up recently.  Another perk – there is usually a favorite Denver food truck parked outside for your munching pleasure!

For the best outdoor patio (and board games!): try Denver Beer Co. located in the fun Platte neighborhood.

For an experience and taste of an urban winery: try Inifinte Monkey Theorem. Located in the up and coming RiNo/Five Points district, they provide all the goodness of a winery (the tastings, of course!) without a pretense.

For a well known but still craft brewery: try Great Divide Tap Room which features 16 taps of seasonal and year-round beers. Try to catch a tour of the brewhouse too!

For a tour and tasting of a local whiskey distillery: Try Stranahans Whiskey in the Santa Fe art district. Bring a bottle home for a later celebration!

For a true local vibe: try Mile High Spirits in the up and coming RiNo neighborhood. All liquor is distilled on location, of course. The Moscow Mules (which could be considered Denver’s signature cocktail) with fresh pineapple or cucumber vodka are delicious!

For an upscale cocktail: try Green Russell in Larimer square. Drinks are steep but the speakeasy vibe and innovative creations make it worth it. (Make reservations!)

SHOP & BROWSE
One thing I love about Denver is the sweet boutiques scattered throughout the city. There are a few concentrated areas to get your shop on, but I enjoy stumbling upon unique-to-Denver shops as I explore the city. (So keep your eyes out!) A few specific places will satisfy your shopping cravings:


Larimer Square and LoDoLarimer Square, located in the historic Lower Downtown (LoDo) district of Denver is filled with sweet boutiques and restaurants. Aside from 16th street mall which is home to numerous chain stores, Larimer Sqaure is the most concentrated shopping area in the city. Stores to peruse:  Blush, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Hailee Grace Boutique, and Cry Baby Ranch.

Cherry Creek North – A little bit south of Denver, Cherry Creek is home to Cherry Creek mall but also the upscale Cherry Creek North neighborhood. Chalk full of home stores, galleries, boutiques, upscale designer stores, and restaurants – you could really spend a full day here if you’re the marathon shopping type. Be sure to check out:  HW Home, The Blue Jeans Bar, Paper Source.

Highlands – The highlands and lower Highlands (LoHi) is known as Denver’s newest and coolest neighborhood. Fairly well established at this point, it is filled with fun shops and things to see. Certain areas are definitely walkable, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a car or bike to get around the Highlands. Be sure to catch: wordshop., lulu’s furniture and décor, KISMET.

A few others around townSpruce in Wash Park, antique shops on South Broadway, The Lark home furnishings in Wash Park, and Fancy Tiger Fabric and Crafts on Broadway.

THINGS TO DO
Be sure to check out the local websites and blogs such as 5280.com and Westword.com to find out what is happening in Denver during your stay! There are always special events, free live music, and art features each month as well as a few tried and true weekly happenings. If you’re an art museum lover, there are a few great ones here including the Denver Art Museum and the MCA Denver. If anything, try out one or two of these must do Denver activities:

B Cycle to to Cherry Creek – Rent a B Cycle, Denver’s own bike sharing program, and go for a cruise down the Platte River Path. It will take you right to Cherry Creek! Grab lunch, some frozen yogurt, and shop around before heading back on your bike.  Interested? Here is a Google map of a suggested route.

Visit the Farmer’s Market in the Highlands – While Boulder is known for their farmer’s market, I love Denver’s take on the fun (and practical) Saturday morning event. Yes, there are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies all from local farms but it also boasts locally made lotions, wine, and food trucks. (Check out the Hey PB & J truck!)

Brewery Tour – While you can certainly sign up for a brewery tour through denvermicrobrewtour.com or banjobilly.com, I recommend doing one on your own! You can walk from brewery to brewery in the city or rent a B Cycle bike to reach destinations outside of the city. This activity will take a little planning – mapping your route and also making sure the brewhouses are open for a tour on the day of your adventure.  (A few breweries to choose from in addition to those mentioned above: Wynkoop Brewery, River North Brewery, and Breckenridge Brewery. Have a car? Avery Brewing in Boulder is pretty fun and Fort Collins is home to O’Dell Brewing and New Belgium Brewery. Coors Brewery is in Golden, CO.)

Art District on Sante Fe – Right outside of downtown is a strip of over 60 art galleries on Sante Fe. An art walk happens of the first Friday of every month with live music and free viewings. Any other day, the galleries and restaurants make for a cultural 3-4 hour activity.

Visit Wash Park – Great views and a sweet surrounding neighborhood, Wash Park is the largest park in the city. Perfect for a picnic! If you’re lucky enough to be around on Sunday night in the summer, check out Jazz in the Park.

Denver Botanic Gardens – In the summer months especially the Denver Botanic Gardens is a lovely place to take a leisurely walk. Showcasing some of Colorado’s beautiful wild flowers, a visit here is both educational and beautiful.

Enjoy your trip to Denver! Please add anything I may have missed or some honorable mentions in the comments!

XO, Shanley

Images: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six

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What an honor to write a guest post for my dear friend Kathryn as she and Ryan soak up the first few weeks of their new little bunny’s life! Cheers!

I’ve been a proud Berkeley resident for eight years. My husband and I bought our starter home here and have spent the majority of the past decade playing and eating our way through the city. All the rumors you’ve heard about Berkeley are true. We’re all crazy here. In a good way, of course!

What keeps us here is the rich culture, the community’s passion for better living for everyone, and of course, the food. Berkeleyites (Berkleyans? Berkleese?) are about as picky about their food and drink as they come. Where did this wine come from? Is it organic? How many miles did it travel on a truck to get here? Were carbon offsets purchased to make up for the miles traveled? The winemaker’s dog: was he rescued from a no-kill shelter? As…ahem…concerned as we sound, the result is extraordinary: Berkeley has produced some of the brightest food revolutionaries from Alice Waters to Michael Pollan.

If you’re hitting the Bay Area for a minimoon, a few days in Berkeley are not to be missed! Here are some of my favorite romantic (ooh la la!) places to eat, play, and love in The People’s Republic of Berkeley.

PACK: Go casual, and make sure to layer. The bay is notoriously cooler, and nights, regardless of the season, are typically cool.  A few pairs of comfy flats, your favorite organic cotton tees and jeans or flowy skirt. Even at the nicest venues and restaurants, you’ll still fit right in in casual clothing. You’ll never find anyone “too fancy” on this side of the bay!

STAY:  The Claremont

The Claremont Resort is quickly approaching its centennial anniversary. An oasis nested in the hills, you’ll be treated to great views and spectacular sunsets, daily. Don’t pass up a trip to the spa; I treat myself to a facial or massage here once a year on my birthday.

- DAY ONE -

EAT

For breakfast: Queue up for the Bay Area’s pride in baking, Acme Bread. On San Pablo Avenue is one of two Bay Area retail locations to get the full line of breads that Acme offers (the other is in the Ferry Building in SF). People queue up in a long line (that goes quickly) here for undoubtedly THE best bread around. A typical Sunday morning for us is grabbing cinnamon currant bread and coffee next door at Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar and heading up to Tilden for a hike.

For lunch: After your hike, head back down the hill and to the Gourmet Ghetto to hit up The Cheeseboard. They feature one vegetarian white pizza a day, which makes ordering quite speedy despite the line. Forget about a slice; grab a whole pie. You’ll get a bit full, but won’t regret it!

For dinner:  Gather is Nor Cal dining at its finest.  Meals are hearty, but you always feel like you’ve had the best-of-the-best of everything on each plate, and never feel stuffed-to-the-gills, no matter how much you eat!  Gather is a great true Northern California experience from start to finish. We like to go big here; 2 or 3 starters (we love anything featuring seafood here) and fantastic entrees that change regularly.

PLAY

Take a hike up in Tilden Regional Park. Head up the hill above the fog to Berkeley’s favorite nature getaway. Most hikes reward you with amazing views of San Francisco and Marin. While you’re up there, explore Lake Anza, the merry-go-round, botanical gardens, and the little farm. One of Berkeley’s most famous wedding venues, The Brazilian Room, is tucked up here, too!

LOVE

Catch a movie at Shattuck Cinemas: a theater for grown ups in love! Friendly service, cozy leather couches, and 21+ showings after 10PM where you can sip cocktails while you watch the latest flicks. This is the only place I’ll go see a movie outside of my house!

- DAY TWO -

EAT

For breakfast:  Soak up the sunny side of the bay on the patio at  La Note. For the sweet tooth, our favorites are the brioche pain perdu with lavender honey or creme fraiche pancakes (full stack…le duh). For the savory, try cote sud: eggs, spicy lamb merguez sausage (amazing), homefries and toast. As a savory kind of gal, I’ve never strayed from the cote sud.

For lunch: Serving charming, high-end takeaway, Gregoire is our favorite place to grab food on the go. The French inspired menu changes monthly, but a staple that can’t be missed are the crispy potato puffs. Creamy, deep fried, and served with aioli.  There’s one outside table at Gregoire which will likely be occupied; most choose to head to the grassy median on Shattuck Ave and dine under the trees (and between the traffic, which sounds weird but is quite decent).

For dinner:  My husband and I probably frequent O Chame more than any other restaurant in the city. Their noodle soups aren’t your typical noodle shop fare. My favorite is the smoked trout udon, while my husband goes for simmered pork shoulder udon. You cannot leave without trying the savory pancake (ingredients change based on what’s in season) as an appetizer, and the caramel balsamic gelato is LIFE CHANGING.

PLAY

During the day, head to the water and walk off brunch at Berkeley Marina (bring your Gregoire takeaway!). Constant wind means that you’ll likely run into tons of locals flying kites. Admire San Francisco and the Bay Bridge from afar, and sailboats launching into the sea. The waterfront is particularly exciting these days with America’s Cup on the horizon.

LOVE

From the Marina, head over to Fourth Street. O Chame is located here, so once you get hungry for dinner, you won’t be far away.  The shops are endlessly entertaining. Among my favorites are Castle in the Air for stationery, fine art supplies, and generally amazing curios – I always find something cool like vintage locks and keys and glass glitter, and Convert and Convert Shoes - Sustainably produced, fun clothing and shoes.  Other favorites along the street are GeorgeThe GardenerAnthropologiePaper SourceCB2Rejuvination (THE coolest lighting store).

Images: minimoon | stay | eat | play | love

If you’re headed to the west coast, we hope to see you in Berkeley! Come over and say hello on Twitter – you can find me at @CathleyaS!

Have you visited Berkeley? What’s your fondest memory or favorite place here?

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Caitlin from Sacramento Street continues our mini-moon series with her picks for the perfect stay in Charleston…

 

This past April I had the privilege of traveling to Charleston – it had been on my travel bucket list for years. As soon as I arrived at my darling boutique hotel – the Zero George, all I could think about was how romantic this would be for a couple’s getaway or honeymoon. The quaint city of Charleston had me madly in love – the architecture, galleries, antique shops and the food scene. It was a magical trip that already has me booking tickets for my husband and me for our anniversary next year.

If I were to plan my honeymoon to Charleston I would book a few nights at the Zero George – you won’t want to get out of bed in the morning because the beds are so comfy. One day I would explore the beautiful city by foot (Church Street is a must) and the next I’d take a drive up to Drayton Hall. At night I’d have dinner at Fig and The Ordinary (get the Oyster Sliders). After a few days in Charleston I’d head out to the islands, which I didn’t have a chance to explore last time.

Here are a few key essentials to bring on your trip.

1. Clare Vivier Messenger Tote 2. Chan Luu Cashmere and silk-blend scarf 3. Burberry Brit Broderie anglaise cotton dress 4. Repetto Cendrillon striped jersey ballet flats  5. Leica M8 Special Edition White

I’m hoping I’ve left you inspiration to either plan your honeymoon or a trip to Charleston – it’s a wonderful city!

 

You’ll usually find Caitlin over on Sacramento Street, blogging about living well and interior design. Thanks for stopping by, Caitlin!

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Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper is back to share her ideas for a mini-moon in Washington, D.C.!

 

My husband and I (and our 8 month-old daughter, Sophie) live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. We love our neighborhood, particularly during springtime, but every now and then we like to get out of the city for a few days. Luckily we don’t have to travel far to find ourselves in some of the most beautiful parts of the country! These are a few of the ideas that came to mind when Kathryn asked me to dream up my ideal mini-moon getaway.

The Inn at Little Washington

Photos: Gordon Beall via The Inn at Little Washington

I first started hearing whispers of the Inn at Little Washington after moving to D.C. over ten years ago, and it’s now at the top of my D.C. bucket list. Located in the town of Washington in Rappahanock County, Virginia, about an hour and a half outside of D.C., this charming inn is the picturesque ideal escape from the city. The inn also boasts an amazing 5-star restaurant that has been selected as one of the Top 10 restaurants in the world. The best part? No cell phone reception – so a weekend away is truly a weekend away.

Mount Vernon

Photos: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate is one of my favorite mini-escapes from D.C. – we even have an annual pass so we can visit whenever the mood strikes! Spring is my favorite time of year to visit: the estate is covered in huge lilacs that make my heart sing when they bloom. There are also groves of fruit trees, winding paths around manicured gardens and down to the banks of the Potomac River, and the most hilarious little lambs in early spring. We love to sit on the lawn behind the main mansion and look out over the Potomac River. It’s so peaceful.

Dumbarton Oaks

Photos: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Most people head straight to the monuments and museums located around the National Mall, but the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown is one of my favorite D.C. attractions. Designed over a 30-year span by Beatrix Farrand, the formal gardens feature roses, wisteria, lilacs, tulips, peonies, cherry blossom trees, and so much more. It’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon!

Volt

Photo: Allison Levenson

You can find a full list of some of our recommended D.C. bars and restaurants in my mini guide to D.C., but for a special occasion there’s really only one restaurant I’d want to visit: Volt. We first visited a couple of years ago to celebrate my husband’s return home from a 6-month deployment in Iraq and it was one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had. We’ve been dying to go back ever since!

 

A big thanks to Nole for not one, but three guest posts! Be sure to check out Oh So Beautiful Paper for tons more inspiration, mostly in the form of, you guessed it, beautiful paper!

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Jordan from Oh Happy Day may be back in San Francisco, but after living in Paris for a year and a half, she is the perfect person to ask for honeymoon tips in (arguably) the world’s most romantic city…

 

Here is how to have the perfect Paris Honeymoon. I lived in Paris for a year and a half and even spent my honeymoon there, and here are my some of my favorite places and things to eat.

Where to Stay:

Stay in an apartment in the Marais near a Metro stop! Paris hotels are teeny tiny, even the fancy ones. A gorgeous stylish apartment with a view will cost the same as a small boring hotel room.

Planning Your Schedule:

Use the Rick Steves Paris Guide. Ignore the the fact you are taking travel advice from a kind-of-dorky-guy older than your dad. Risk Steves is the best, he nails it every time.

On Your First Day:

Have a picnic on the tip the island at Pont Neuf and take one of the boat tours that leaves from Pont Neuf at dusk. It is touristy but in a good way. It’s a good way to get the lay of the land and there is nothing more romantic than seeing the way the lights dance in the water of the Seine.

How to Pack a Picnic:

Every neighborhood has a market street. Avoid the grocery stores. Go to the Bakery for a “baguette traditional” then go to the cheese store for some cheese Ordering can be overwhelming try starting with a nice slab of “Comte.” Go to the produce stand for some fruit and veggies and then go to the butcher for some charcuterie or “saucisson sec” ask them to slice it up. Grab a nice bottle of wine and you’re set.

The Best Breakfast:

Pain et Chocolat just off Rue Cler. Order the “desjejum complet” for a flawless French breakfast.

All Lovers Must:

Take a walk through the Marais at night and end up at the Seine. Wandering the streets on a beautiful night is the best experience in Paris.

The Best Place to Buy Doodads or Gifts:

BHV (or Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville) is the best department store. They have my favorite selection of crepe paper and their lighting section is insane.

Best Mode of Transportation:

Metro is the best way to get around. But don’t leave Paris without going on a bike ride with Paris’ City Bike System Velib.

Best Place to Buy a Souvenir:

Artazart has the best selection of art and photography books ever. Bring one home for your coffee table and when guests compliment it you can say…oh that ol’ thing…we picked it up in Paris.

Best Design-y Store in Paris:

Merci. This concept store in the Marais has constantly changing installations and has clothes, home decor and knick knacks at every pricepoint. Don’t forget to go touch all the linens. Also their restaurant is one of my favorite places to grab lunch. The salads are amazing.

Cheap and Easy Meal:

L’As Du Fallafel Falafel on Rue des Rossiers. It’s Lenny Kravitz’s favorite falafel (says it on their sign.) Plus my favorite crepe stand is on this street too. Dessert!

3 Restaurants where you Need Dinner Reservations:

Derriere: A hip restaurant with amazing food.

Le Refuge des Fondues: A casual but really fun tourist stop in Montmartre. It’s fondue with wine served in baby bottles.

Septime: An excellent modern French restaurant.

3 Restaurants where you Don’t Need Dinner Reservations:

Le Relais de Venise, A Parisian institution:  They only serve steak frites and an amazing secret green sauce. The line looks long but goes so quick.

Les Cocottes: A modern little French restaurant by chef Christian Constant

La Briciola:  A fun and easy pizza restaurant in the Marais.

 

Ooh la la! Read more about Jordan’s Paris adventures, plus tons of creative and crafty projects and parties, over on Oh Happy Day!

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