We’ve spent more than a year trapped inside of our homes, traveling from the couch to the fridge to the bed and back again, which, of course, does nothing for our Instagram page or the pages in our passports. While many of us are eager to get vaccinations and prep for vacations to new destinations, some of us are nostalgic for places we’ve been before—fun, familiar, inviting hotspots that we’ve yearned for simply because we couldn’t indulge ourselves the way we did in the Before Times. Places replete with possibility! Places that put the ‘lust’ in wanderlust! Places that allow for kissing a brutal, touch-starved year goodbye!
As the inoculated population continues to multiply, and the world (businesses, hearts, legs) begin to 100% open up, here are the must-see destinations and #TravelGoals for 2021 for those who are ready to… get around!
1st, 2nd & 3rd Base
While metaphorical bases aren’t physical destinations you can find in a travel guide, they are certainly physical. A hot, geographically convenient partner is the only thing you need to bring, but if you’re feeling a little out of practice after not exploring this classic trio of bases for quite some time, putting your experience back on the map is as easy as 1-2-3. After hitting it off, you’ll know when it’s time to head to 1st—the signs are easy to make out. Second is always within reach; just make sure you’re feeling up for it. If something more adventurous feels right, venture south to 3rd!
Best time to visit: When your emotional and physical borders are open.
Expert travel tip: Make sure your travel partner is always on board before exploring any iconic landmarks. If your itinerary and vibe allows, make it a home run!
The Back Booth of a Dark Bar
After months of maybe the occasional socially distant date at an outdoor-indoor restaurant in 39-degree weather, forced to see your matches in the harsh light of day or lit next to the 1.5 available heat lamps, it’s time to safely venture inside to the back, back, back booth—but only with someone who has proved worthy of this exclusive, to-dive-for retreat. You’ll banter for hours, order round after round, and scoot closer, and closer, and closer, and closer, until you can finally see each other’s faces in the glow of your iPhone screen (which is blowing up with “omg how is it” texts from the group chat). This coveted locale (ideally with good ventilation) is also known for making you forget time exists, which might be a little bit of a throwback from 2020, but in this context? We’ll take it.
Best time to visit: When you no longer need to be six feet from a six-foot babe.
Expert travel tip: If you’re feeling efficient, combine your visit here with an adventure to 1st base!
A Tinder Date’s Apartment
It’s important to enjoy yourself every single second on this post-vax tour! (And it’s perfectly cool to end a trip early if you don’t like what the travel brochure promised.) But now that the two of you (you and whomever advances to the next round) have spilled the immuni-tea and traveled to the dark corners of bars together, it may be time for a change of scenery. Sure, you could take them back to your natural habitat, but it’s too soon for anyone to see the landmark ass imprint you made on the couch over the last year, so why not see what other slices of paradise the world has to offer? Maybe it’s a man’s bed with an actual bed frame! Or maybe it’s two lawn chairs that double as a living room loveseat. Either way, it’s something new.
Best time to visit: Whenever you feel most comfortable. (And you’ve shaved your entire body, head-to-toe.) (But no judgment if your quarantine bush is here to stay!)
Expert travel tip: If the accommodations aren’t up to your standards, don’t be afraid to leave a Yelp review (via text to the gals).
The Backseat Of An Uber
Your ride of pride awaits! We all know what it’s like to be in the back of a Toyota Burrata on a Sunday morning—wind blowing through your hair as you hang your head out the window, the humbling sounds of the Christian-rock radio station your driver Paul has chosen to blast at top volume, the street-by-street, minute-by-minute countdown ‘til you can wash your face and over-analyze your life your choices from the comfort of your own home. Five stars to Paul for not asking any questions.
Best time to go: When you have a hankering for a quick and necessary road trip.
Expert travel tip: The ride to or from a hookup’s house is actually called a “sex drive.”
Any Other City
Let’s go, girls! Pack your baggage! We’re headed to another city—any city, really—because we’ve swiped through all the available (and unavailable) singles in our town’s radius.
Best time to go: When you’ve run out of prospects.
Expert travel tip: Be smart on all of your adventures—sexual or otherwise. Safety always, always comes first. Then it’s your turn.
Images: Kendyle Nelsen / Unsplash
Majorly Instagrammable estates, world-class culinary hotspots, a relatively mild year-round climate, luxury spas, and, duh, the wine. Obviously. Napa has it all and is a dream destination that we could never get enough of. Whether you’re traveling for a minimoon, bachelorette party, birthday celebration or just a weekend getaway, Napa is the ideal destination for any occasion and with any combination of travel partners. As obsessed as we are with Napa, it does take a little bit more planning and research than your average domestic weekend trip and isn’t one that we’d recommend doing on a tight budget—although it can be done. Read on for all of our tips, tricks, and recs for pulling off the perfect Napa trip. Cheers!
A NOTE ON COVID-19:
If you do choose to travel right now, it is important to do so as safely and responsibly as possible. A few notes about how Napa in particular is managing the pandemic.
Napa and Sonoma counties have a mask mandate in place, and a mask should be worn in all public areas, except when eating and drinking. This includes when walking outdoors any time that 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. We would suggest continuing to wear your mask when your server comes to your table as well. Wearing a mask primarily protects the other person and it’s important to show your server the same respect and caution that they are showing you.
All restaurants and wineries must operate exclusively outside at this time. This may change your experience slightly. For example, you may not be able to partake in all of the standard tours, such as any cave experiences or barrel tastings, but you will still have a wonderful time! In addition, your host may be less hands-on than normal in terms of walking you through the wine making process, tasting notes, etc.
From our experience, hotels were thoroughly sanitized and housekeeping services did not take place during a stay to minimize the number of people entering and exiting a room. In addition, efforts are being made at some hotels to allow a few days between guest stays in a particular room.
Lastly, we are advocates for taking any additional precautions that you can prior to traveling. While we did not have any symptoms, we tested both before and after our trip and quarantined while awaiting results each time. We recognize that we could be asymptomatic carriers.
Between the compounded effects of both COVID-19 and the recent wildfires, Napa Valley’s businesses need our support more than ever, but please visit as responsibly as you can!
How To Get There
If you live in the Bay Area, Napa is the perfect weekend destination! If not, you’ll most likely be flying to get to Napa. With three local airports, you have a lot of options depending on what your priority is—ease or price. No matter which airport you fly into, though, expect a bit of a drive.
If you’re looking to get as close as possible to wine country, you’ll want to fly directly into Santa Rosa (Sonoma County Airport). Flights here are less frequent, more expensive, and depending on where you choose to stay in wine country, could still require a 20-40 mile drive. One bonus of this airport, though, is that you can check up to a case of wine for free when you’re flying home! Love that.
For the average traveler, you’ll want to fly into SFO (San Francisco International Airport). As one of the busiest airports in the country, you’ll have no problem finding flight options and a great flight deal. Hello, more money for wine tastings! From SFO, you have about a 1 hour drive into Napa. We’d recommend either renting a car or, if you’re celebrating a bachelorette, renting a limo or party bus for the ride. Pro Tip: If you’re landing earlier in the day and choose to rent a car, take the Golden Gate into Sausalito on your way to Napa and stop off for a bite to eat or glass of wine with killer views of SF and the Bay.
Lastly, Oakland is a third option for flying into Napa. Technically, Oakland is a little bit closer to Napa than SFO, but could be more challenging to find flight deals depending on where you’re coming from. We recommend setting flight alerts on Google Flights and Hopper for all three airports (Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Oakland) and booking whichever comes back as the best value between price, arrival/departure times, and flight route.
Where To Stay
One of the most common misconceptions when planning a Napa trip is that you want to stay in Napa proper. When most people say they want to go to Napa, they are referring to Napa Valley or the entire wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties. It is a HUGE area, and choosing which town or area to stay in is so important to a successful and enjoyable trip. We’ll break down the options, high-level, below:
Napa – As the biggest town in Napa Valley, Napa is the most lively area that you could stay with restaurants and bars within walking distance of one another, most of the larger hotel chains (Westin, Embassy Suites, Marriott, etc.) and is a pretty centrally located spot for whatever you choose to do in the area. Plus, the Napa River is a pretty cute spot to walk along.
Yountville to St. Helena – These towns are technically 10 miles apart (about 20 minutes), but for the ease of writing this guide, we’ll group these towns together (along with Oakville, Rutherford, and the other small towns between these two.) In our opinion, these towns are what people typically dream of or imagine when they think of wine country and visiting Napa. Slow-paced, romantic, a vineyard view from your room, etc. These towns are also where all of our favorite wineries and restaurants are located.
Calistoga – Calistoga is often considered the end (or beginning) of Napa Valley and offers a similar wine country feel to Yountville and St. Helena, but in a much quieter and relaxing way. Calistoga would be a perfect area to stay for a honeymoon or anniversary trip. Super charming, secluded, understated, and laidback.
Sonoma – Sonoma is technically in a completely different county, but we think it’s still worth mentioning when planning a Napa trip. Sonoma is, in our opinion, much less commercialized and touristy. Think of it like Napa’s laid-back little sister. Sonoma is an incredible place to visit and actually grows more grapes than Napa, and it’s a stunning area with some of the best Pinots in the world. We ultimately do prefer Napa Valley, but always say that Napa is not a trip to do on a tight budget. Sonoma can be a more affordable option for hotels, restaurants, tastings, and still a very fun place to visit.
There are so many insanely beautiful and luxurious hotels, resorts, and Airbnbs in the area. For the purpose of this guide, we would recommend Silverado Resort. While it’s not in the heart of any of Napa Valley’s towns, its location is central enough to allow you to plan activities in most of the spots around the valley. It’s an expansive and beautiful resort property with multiple pools, two golf courses, a spa, and plentiful restaurant options, all while being a surprisingly affordable option—by Napa standards, that is. For any Real Housewives super fans like us, the OC wives stayed at Silverado on their Napa trip (season 10, episode 3, to be exact). If it’s good enough for Heather Dubrow, it’s more than good enough for us.
How To Get Around
Unless you have a DD in your group (unlikely since you’re in wine country), we’d recommend hiring a driver for your day of wine tasting. Napa Valley is a huge area and the wineries stretch out along a highway, so walking just isn’t an option. Ubers and taxis are harder to come by and because Napa is a place where reservations are definitely required, you won’t want to waste any time between appointments waiting around for an Uber. If you’re traveling with a group, hiring a driver is actually very reasonable. Definitely plan ahead for this and don’t wait to figure it out upon arrival. Drinking and driving just isn’t the move.
Where To Eat
Our second favorite part of the guide! Napa Valley is a foodie mecca. So much work and research goes into pairing wine and food, so of course, in a world-famous wine region, there is no shortage of good food. Napa Valley is overflowing with some of the best chefs in the world ready to feed you after you’ve drunk your body weight in wine. It does, however, mean that many of the restaurants are at a slightly higher price point than you’re probably used to—we promise, they’re worth it!!
We recommend doing RH Wine Vault (yes, another of the highly Instagrammable concepts from Restoration Hardware) for pre-dinner drinks or wine tasting and then following up with dinner at Bistro Jeanty. They’re both in the heart of Yountville. RH Wine Vault has an incredibly Instagrammable aesthetic with string lights, outdoor couches, and a backdrop of a vine-covered building. Bistro Jeanty is all things French, and who doesn’t love some steak frites and cocktails with names like La Vie en Rose? You literally can’t go wrong, and they’re currently offering cocktails to go.
If you’re staying in Napa proper and love sushi, we’d recommend Morimoto in Napa. This will not be cheap, but it’s so worth it if you love sushi. You can sit inside or outside on the river, and the vibe is exactly what you want: very cool and modern. We’d stick with the sashimi and nigiri because the fish quality is so fresh. We’ve never had so much sushi delivered to us at once—a true dream. They also have great cocktails and an amazing wine list. There are a few locations around the world, so it’s not exclusive to Napa, but we still have to recommend it.
If you’re on your honeymoon or truly ready to ball out, The French Laundry is a must. We’ve never had the chance to eat here, but it is often regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world. A multiple course fixed menu with wine pairings for every course and each person has his/her own waiter. What we can only imagine to be a once in a lifetime experience.
Other wine country favorites include:
The Bistro at Auberge du Soleil – Perfect way to break up your day of wine tasting if you’re in the Rutherford/Yountville area. We could never afford to actually stay here, so lunching is the perfect alternative to get all of the chic French vibes at a fraction of the cost.
Farmstead Restaurant – A farm-to-table concept that somehow blends Southern comfort food with a signature light, fresh California flair.
Goose & Gander – A St. Helena staple famous for its burger and cocktails, as well as a signature Sunday brunch. Brunch runs from 11am-3pm, though, so it usually cuts into our wine tasting schedule. It’s a great option if brunch is your last plan on your way out of town on Sunday!
Ad Hoc & Addendum – Neighboring restaurants from Thomas Keller. Ad Hoc serves a renowned family style meal that changes daily. Addendum is famed for its legendary upscale fried chicken.
Oxbow Public Market – Centrally located near Napa proper, this is a great stop for groups with a variety of tastes or dietary needs. It’s an easy, casual spot to grab everything from Hog Island oysters to banh mi to pasta—with drinks, of course.
Where To Drink
Napa is all about the wine, so now let’s get to the good stuff! There are so many wineries in Napa Valley that you could visit every weekend for a year and still not hit them all. Here are our favorites to get good wine and a good ambience.
Del Dotto is one of those wineries that’s a can’t-miss. They have three tasting rooms, which makes it an easy stop no matter where you’re staying, but currently, only the Piazza is open due to COVID. You may recognize it from a recent KUWTK episode—Kylie’s first wine-tasting trip—but we’ve loved it before we were influenced by our favorite family. We highly recommend the barrel tasting (if you’re there during non-COVID times, you’ll actually get to taste from the barrel in their wine cellar). The tasting is $80 for 9 wines and includes a wood-fired pizza and tomato appetizer—a must to avoid getting white girl wasted.
For a casual lunch stop where you can still wine taste, V Sattui is a must. They offer a number of different types of wine tastings, and their marketplace and deli is full of yummy bites for lunch. Instead of doing a wine tasting here, you could also grab a few bottles from their marketplace and enjoy a picnic lunch. Honestly, the wine here is good (I mean, it’s Napa), but not out of this world. We stop here on every Napa visit though, because the food is good, easy, and convenient, and you don’t have to stop your wine tasting fun.
We are champagne and sparkling wine lovers, but, regardless, we always recommend the first tasting stop of your day to be for a sparkling tasting flight. We love wine, but 10am still feels a little aggressive to start exploring some bold cabs. Domaine Carneros is our favorite stop for this (you’ll feel like you’re actually in Champagne, France with the incredible tasting room) or Mumm Napa if you’re looking to taste some champagne that’s exclusive to the winery, and not what you’ll find at your local grocery store. For a bougier champagne experience, we recommend Schramsberg. Domaine Chandon is another option for sparkling that is super popular, but if you’re choosing between one or two options, it wouldn’t be our top choice.
For anyone staying in Sonoma, SIGH. is a must stop when you’re done with wine tastings, but not ready to end your day of drinking. A highly Instagrammable champagne bar. They’re currently set up in Sonoma Square due to COVID and offer a variety of frozen cocktails, their usual champagne offerings, as well as apps.
Other wine country faves:
HALL Wines – A must for any cab lovers in particular
Inglenook – Stunning property owned by Francis Ford Coppola
Castello di Amorosa – A literal castle
Artesa – Stunning, expansive views of Napa
Opus One – Luxurious experience, but with a somewhat more formal, exclusive vibe. Would not recommend this one for a bachelorette party.
Stag’s Leap – Iconic spot in Napa Valley that some would say put the region on the map in terms of international acclaim and respect.
Tips & Tricks For Planning A Successful Trip
Plan ahead!! Napa is absolutely a place that requires advanced planning. Make reservations for all the wineries and restaurants that you plan to visit. You may be able to just walk into some of the tasting rooms at the end of your day, but for the actual wineries and acclaimed restaurants, you absolutely need reservations and we’d recommend starting to book at least a month out.
MyMaps will be your best friend. When you first decide to plan a trip to Napa, you will be inundated with opinions and recommendations. There are just so many stellar spots. In the last two years alone, we’ve spent 13 days total in Napa and still feel like we’ve just scratched the surface. As you begin to compile all of your recs, plot them all on a map. See where things seem to naturally group together location-wise and plan each day around that. The towns can take a significant amount of time to travel between and, if you’re on a tight schedule, you will want to minimize your driving time.
Be realistic. We are obsessed with wine tasting and there are certainly some destinations in the country where it’s possible to squeeze six or seven tastings into a day if you’re ambitious. Napa is not one of those places. We wouldn’t recommend more than four tastings in a day. Most wineries open for tastings at 11 (10 if it’s sparkling wine) and most start their last tastings at 3:30 or 4. Plan for each tasting to last 60-90 minutes.
Budget accordingly! As we’ve mentioned several times, Napa is not a great place to do on a budget. Accommodations can be pricey, there are many world-renowned (aka expensive) restaurants, and the tastings are not cheap. Most of our previous wine tasting experiences were for tastings ranging from $15-30 with the tasting waived with the purchase of one bottle. In Napa, however, the average tasting fee is about $60 with some going well over $100, and the tastings are waived with the purchase of upwards of six bottles or joining a wine club. You can absolutely still visit Napa or Sonoma and find spots for less, but just know that it may not be the full wine country experience that you’ve imagined.
Perfect First Time Itinerary
Friday, Day 1
If you land in the morning/afternoon, drive over the Golden Gate + stop for lunch in Sausalito on your way to wine country.
If you land in the late afternoon/evening, head straight to RH Wine Vault for a tasting
Dinner at Bistro Jeanty
Cocktails to go + check into The Silverado Resort (or your accommodation of choice)
Saturday, Day 2
Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery (Expect a line here, but it’s worth it! You can easily take your food to go, so waiting to order is the longest part here).
Champagne Tasting at Mumm Napa (If you want to get in as many tastings as possible, book your tasting as soon as they open!)
Tasting at HALL Wines (You’ll have to skip this one if your champagne tasting starts any later than 10AM)
Lunch + Tasting at V Sattui
Tasting at Piazza Del Dotto
After changing and freshening up, grab pre-dinner cocktails at Sky & Vine Rooftop. If you’re running late, be sure to stop here after dinner!
Dinner at Morimoto
Sunday, Day 3 – Option A if you’re heading home on Sunday/just doing a weekend trip!
Brunch – Napa is famous for their Sunday brunches. We’d recommend: Goose & Gander, Brix, or Auberge du Soleil depending on which is closest to where you’re staying!
Champagne Tasting at Domaine Carneros
Late lunch in Sausalito if you didn’t get the chance to stop on your way into town
Sunday, Day 3 – Option B if you have an extra day to spend in Napa Valley!
With an extra day in Napa, you’ll have time to explore Calistoga, an area many people miss on their trips!
Brunch at Sam’s Social Club
Champagne Tasting at Schramsberg
Tasting at Castello di Amorosa
Late lunch from Oakville Grocery on your way out of Calistoga – Easy to go sandwiches, apps, etc.
Pool time at Silverado Resort (Napa has pleasant, sunny weather most of the year)
(Tasting at Stags’ Leap Winery if you’d rather do another tasting or are visiting in a cooler time of year!)
Dinner and drinks at Ad Hoc
Monday, Optional Day 4
Late breakfast at Grace’s Table
Drive back to San Francisco and fly home
If you have a late flight, this would be the perfect day for the spa!
Images: Michael Warwick / Shutterstock; Giphy (2)
Hudson Valley is hot right now. The trendy upstate playground has been drawing city dwellers (along with the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers) for years, but given the current sitch, it’s even more popular these days. Good thing restaurants have reopened and local developers have been going after fixer-uppers with hotel potential, like Chip and Joanna Gaines with a vengeance.
Just as New Yorkers flock to the Hamptons in the summer, Manhattan creatives come to Hudson Valley to hibernate in the fall and winter. And considering most of the land surrounding this grouping of idyllic towns and hamlets is either covered by water or trees, it’s quite ideal for social distancing and keeping your six-feet-apart stance.
Whether you’re getting away for the weekend with your besties or bae, or planning a solo trip because that’s the kind of self-sufficient traveler you are, Hudson Valley has it all. And we’ve rounded up the best places to stay and things to do while you’re there. Read on for our top recs and Insta-worthy locales.
Where Is Hudson Valley?
Hudson Valley is in New York, duh. (Hudson River, anyone?) Hudson Valley is technically comprised of a bunch of different waterfront cities and towns, as well as rural farmlands and forests, so you can easily get your glamping on here or post up in an old Victorian-house-turned bougie hotel. HV stretches as far as the capital Albany in the north, toward Yonkers and Westchester County bordering NYC in the south. For trip planning purposes, some of the best spots to check out in Hudson Valley are Hudson, New Paltz, Beacon, Kingston, Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Gardiner, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow. (Yes, Sleepy Hollow is a real place with charmingly spooky vibes. But that’s a given.)
How Far Is Hudson Valley From New York City?
Hudson Valley is much closer to New York City, than, say, the Hamptons, which is why New Yorkers are trading in The Big Apple for apple picking in the sticks. Depending on where you’re heading, you can be there in as little as 30 to 40 minutes, or a few hours. From NYC to Hudson, NY it’s roughly 107 miles.
How To Get To Hudson Valley
Road trip, obvi! The scenic route is much preferred, especially if you’re traveling from non-NYC places (and if you don’t want to sit near strangers for social distance reasons). With that said, Metro-North and Amtrak are options if you don’t have your own wheels or don’t want to drive. Just mask up at Grand Central Station or Penn Station, grab a seat six feet away, and chill for two hours until you get to Hudson, or wherever you’re going. Note: Metro-North service ends at Poughkeepsie, with Amtrak’s Empire Corridor trains continuing north to and beyond Albany.
How To Get Around Hudson Valley
If you’re a Hudson Valley newbie, you might assume everywhere within the area is relatively close. On the contrary, it’s much more spread out and Ubers and cabs are somewhat nonexistent—or super f*cking expensive. So, with that in mind, pick an area and stick to it instead of trying to do the most in a weekend. Or plan ahead and hire a driver, because drinking and driving isn’t cute. We’ve also curated these thoughtful itineraries below based on geographical whereabouts and you’re welcome for that.
Things To Do In Hudson, NY
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Historic Hudson is clearly the HBIC of Hudson Valley. Not only does Hudson proper bear the namesake of the upstate hotspot, but it has one of the longest main streets, packed to the gills with cute shops, hotels, and restaurants, plus antique stores and art galleries. As for activities, when you’re not playing House Hunters: Hudson Valley or bopping from one mid-century furniture store to the next, try one of these delights:
Stop by Opus 40 in Saugerties on the drive up to Hudson. You’ve probably seen snaps of the outdoor sculpture park on your ‘gram, and it’s high time you go.
Let your inner wino loose at happy hour at Sonder Hudson on Warren St.
Be one with nature (the Catskills is right next door and prime hiking territory).
Get blitzed on a craft brewery tour with stops at Hudson Valley Brewery, Hudson Brewing Company, Yard Owl Craft Brewery, Suarez Family Brewery, and Two Way Brewing Company (you can also ferry to breweries if you don’t want to drink and drive to farther ones #smart).
Antique your ass off. The downtown stores can be pricey, but drive to nearby Coxsackie Antique Center for the good finds and then you can lunch at Reds, a locals-loved fish fry joint.
Hit up The Quiet Botanist on Warren St. for dry botanicals and apothecary elixirs.
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Where To Stay In Hudson, NY
We live for The Maker, the newest boutique hotel that opened this past summer. With the trendiest digs in HV (think: a Georgian mansion filled with fringed lamps, jewel-tone interiors, lots of sumptuous velvet couches, and ‘20s vibes), rooms don’t come cheap. Peak season fall/winter rates range from $350-1,200 a night on weekends, but #YOLO. There’s an all-day Euro-inspired café, a restaurant housed in a glass conservatory, and a speakeasy-style lounge tucked away in a 19th century restored carriage house. Then there are the rooms. 11 swanky suites and rooms designed with a boho sensibility are themed after The Artist, The Architect, The Writer, The Gardener, and other creatives you can bump into around Hudson.
Outside The Maker, hang a right down Warren, then a left toward the train station and you’ll run into Wm. Farmer and Sons. This modern-meets-vintage hotel and bar room also has 11 dreamy rooms (most with clawfoot tubs you’ll never want to get out of) and thoughtful extras that really make a betch feel at home. I mean, look at these details?!
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The bright and cozy sitting area in our Anne Marie suite is perfect for kicking your feet up with a glass of wine or beer from the mini bar, challenging your travel companion in a game of gin rummy or just chilling out in front of the tube. Whatever your pleasure, relax, stay, enjoy the moment.
Their restaurant is tops for cozy, dimly-lit vibes and a damn good menu, with signatures ranging from SNAIL LASAGNA and roasted broccoli parm, to cast-iron caraflex cabbage with foie gras if you’re about that foraged life. And let’s not forget the gorg farm-to-glass cocktails.
For a more affordable alternative, check into The Wick, Hudson, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. It’s nice, clean, pet-friendly, directly across from the train station, and right around the corner from Warren Street. Rates start at $180 a night.
Where To Eat In Hudson, NY
Aside from the aforementioned haunts, these restaurants and bars are also noteworthy in town: The Cascades for deli favorites, Swoon Kitchenbar for brasserie fare, Backbar for Malaysian cuisine, Grazin’ Diner for burgers, Hudson Food Studio for killer Vietnamese cuisine, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis and pop-up Feugo 69 for Pan-Latin nibbles and plenty of quirky flair, and the Tavern at Rivertown Lodge for brunch or dinner in a revamped 1920s movie theater. And bar-bookshop The Spotty Dog!
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Things To Do In New Paltz, NY
The adorable village of New Paltz sits in between the Gunks (Shawangunk Mountains) and Catskill Mountains, 90 miles north of NYC. New Paltz and Hudson couldn’t be more different however, and are about 40 minutes from one another. While Hudson is a postcard-perfect movie set stand-in, New Paltz is a more remote college town compared to “Upstate’s Downtown”.
There’s still a main drag dotted with the usual suspects—bars, restaurants, novelty stores, and artsy randoms—but this Ulster County enclave is also smack dab in the middle of protected nature preserves. As for other ways to pass your time, we’ve got you covered.
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🎃Happy Halloween! Don’t forget about our Outdoor Orchard Trick-or-Treat event today — we will have candy stations for kids, a spiked festive cocktail, and a $150 gift card raffle for anyone who is dressed in costume. We will be open until 7pm, hope to see you! . 📸: @diannnnneee . . . . . . #twinstarorchards #halloween #trickortreat #pumpkin #spooky #costume #fall #pumpkins #scary #boo #autumn #halloweenfun #halloweentime #photooftheday #cider #hardcider #drycider #hudsonvalley #cidertime #farmstand #tastethisnext #local #newyork #hudsonvalleyeats #upstateny #hudsonvalleyevents #getwithtipsy #hudsonvalleydogs #poughkeepsieny #upstate
New Paltz is a PSL-sipping, plaid-wearing, apple-picking basic bitch’s wet dream. And even though there are breweries and wineries galore, educate yourself and go to a phenom cidery, k? Brooklyn Cider House set up production here for good reason, and their growing grounds (Twin Star Orchards) should be your first stop when you’re ~thirsty~. Wood-fired pies, mouthwatering burgers, and hard ciders that will blow your mind await. P.S. backdrops include cute ponds and vines for one-foot-forward Insta opps.
Nestled in the heart of the Gunks is Mohonk Preserve, New York’s largest nonprofit nature preserve. Surrounding the historic Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian “Castle of New Paltz” that dates back to 1869, you can explore the Preserve’s 8,000 acres of mountain cliffs, forests, fields, and streams from one of five local trailheads. According to mohonkpreserve.org, a day-use pass is $15 for hikers and $20 for bikers, climbers, and horseback riders (if you plan on getting your gallop on by bringing your own horse). There’s also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
Stroll the impressive lineup of 17th-century abodes, churches, and archaeological sites that line Historic Huguenot Street, where the area’s first French settlers moved in.
Head to Robibero Family Vineyards to sample the local grapes, or take a short drive over to Gardiner’s Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery for an outside tasting by reservation.
Stock up on artisan kitchenwares at Blue Cashew.
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Where To Stay In And Around New Paltz, NY
Bougies and people that like to stay put can live their best life at Mohonk Mountain House. Whether you’re traveling with your boo or your (small) crew, their grand estate rooms with terraces overlooking the peaks and valleys are unparalleled in the area. Plus there’s an epic spa and we could all use a little more self-care these days. Even though rates start in the $500-700+ range, you’ll be relieved to know it’s all-inclusive style with three daily meals and unlimited activities. And I’m not talking free cards in the lounge. Try your hand at tomahawk throwing, lace up some skates over at the Skating Pavilion, become a disc golf pro, go rock scrambling through the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze, and do all the sporty things during a round of croquet, bocce, or shuffleboard.
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Fall is better in the mountains 🍂🏰🍁 📷: @sonoyy . . . #mohonkmountainhouse #mohonk #happyplace #getoutside#greatoutdoors #fallfoliage #fallcolors #fall #biking #nightphotography #aerialphotography #naturephotography #getaway #weekendgetaway #boating #running #familyvacation #rockclimbing #mountaintop #mountainresort #resort #autumn #mountainbiking #archery #romanticgetaway #hudsonvalley #upstateny #upstatenewyork #historichotelsofamerica #historiclandmark
Hasbrouck House: I could wax poetic for days about how awesome this undiscovered gem in Stone Ridge is. For starters, it’s a restored 18th-century Dutch Colonial mansion that’s downright dreamy—and right outside New Paltz. 25 well-appointed rooms with modern bathrooms are spread out across the main building, Stable House, Carriage House, and three-bedroom private cottage. For $250+ a night, you can expect all the bells and whistles that come with proper Hudson Valley habitats, but you won’t blow your entire paycheck staying here. There’s free parking on the premises along with doughnuts and cider in the morning, as well as complimentary passes to Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve, and there’s also plenty of forest bathing opps around their 50 acres and private lake. When you get hungry, pop into the onsite bar and restaurant, Butterfield, or be on the lookout for the Baba Vegan Food Truck that swings by once a week to satisfy plant-based cravings. A basement billiards room, hot air balloon bedecked lounge with board games, and Aesop amenities round out their list of additional perks.
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Hang in there friends! We’ll be saving this seat just for you!💕 . . . . . 📷@lavina.s #hasbrouckhouse #hasbrouckhouseny #stoneridgenewyork #catskillshotel #catskillshotels #hudsonvalleyhotel #boutiquehotel #luxuryhotel #escapebrooklyn #escapebkln #andnorth #upstateandchill #romantichotel #hudsonvalley #upstatehotel #cntraveler
Where To Eat In New Paltz, Stone Ridge & Woodstock, NY
Spend the day at Arrowood Farm Brewery, where you can sip craft ales and cocktails by fire pits while munching on Bavarian pretzels and tostadas.
In downtown New Paltz, we like Main Street Bistro, Bacchus, Clemson Bros., A Tavola Trattoria, Main Course Marketplace, Huckleberry, and IPho for banging noodle soups, bánh mì, and vermicelli.
Go into a fried chicken coma at Kitchenette Chicken Shack in High Falls—and good luck not trying to go back 20 times during your trip.
For breakfast or lunch in Stone Ridge, hit The Roost or Hash.
For one of the best dinners of your life in Hudson Valley, make a res at Butterfield at Hasbrouck House, where everything is local AF from the farm-grown veggies and cultured butter, to the house-made bread, trout, duck, and venison dishes.
For other dinner options in Woodstock and Saugerties, there’s Phoenicia Diner’s sister spot Dixon’s Roadside BBQ, Silvia, and The Red Onion.
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This is what we call early sweater weather, when the days are full of sunshine and the evenings are getting cozy. ⠀ Come hang with us this weekend ☀️🍂 ⠀ WEEKEND HOURS Saturday 12-10 Sunday 11:30-8 ⠀ Cheers! ⠀ #hudsonvalleyhappenings #fall #catskills #accordny #hudsonvalley #upstateny #hygge #farmbrewery #drinklocal #eatlocal #beer #craftbeerlover
Things To Do In Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow, NY
Stroll the Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown, which comprises 31+ miles along the shoreline from Tarrytown up.
Visit The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. From now through Nov 22nd, see 7,000 pumpkins light up fall nights in Croton-on-Hudson.
Get your spook on (and relive 4th grade English class) learning about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman on a walking tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. P.S., Washington Irving is obviously buried here.
Tour the gardens at Lyndhurst. Hudson Valley has been home to some of the most powerful families of New York over the years, and Lyndhurst (AKA the Jay Gould Estate) is serious goals. As one of the most impressive Gothic Revival marvels like, ever, you have to see this thing in person—and obviously take photos. Even the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is moving to Lyndhurst in June 2021 because it’s that major. While inside tours are closed for the season, you can still purchase a Daily Grounds Pass to wander around and contemplate what life must be like for the 1%.
Also worth mentioning is another one of Tarrytown’s most famous homes: Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. It’s currently closed due to the pandemic, but boy, will it be a beauty to see when it reopens in the new year.
Where To Stay In Tarrytown, NY
If you’re looking for a low-key weekend or a workcation just minutes from Manhattan, check into Tarrytown House Estate, where complimentary WiFi and desks make WFH totally doable—especially when you can sneak drinks by the lawn fire pits in between Zooms. This Westchester County staple has been artfully restored and now boasts several modern rooms in the King Mansion, plus 26 acres of sprawling land fit for hiking, biking, and other outdoorsy things. They’re also pet-friendly and will arm your furry friend with a BarkBox upon arrival. Take a Sleepy Hollow kayak tour through the Hudson River, pick seasonal fruit at Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, do dinner at Goosefeather, and let your inner athlete loose during badminton, bocce, and croquet.
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Where To Eat In Tarrytown And Sleepy Hollow, NY
Make a res at Chef Dale Talde’s Goosefeather for crazy good Chinese barbecue and dim sum under strings of backyard lights. If you’re looking for vegan-friendly options, check out Sweet Grass Grill. Waterfront tavern RiverMarket is great for a biodynamic wine list and thoughtfully curated market. There’s also The Twisted Oak for Italian-American signatures, Pik Nik BBQ for smoked meats, Bistro 12 for Mediterranean fare, and Hudson Farmer & the Fish for sweeping views and seasonal staples.
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Anytime is a good time for pizza 🍕 Come and get one of our wood fire pizzas designed to your liking. With toppings ranging from baby arugula to even jumbo shrimp 🍤 and much more! * * * * * #pizza #woodfiredpizza #tarrytown #restaurant #yummy #delicious #swag #cool #pretty #foodporn #appealing #drinks #cocktails #togo #takeout #delivery #ubereatsdelivery #doordash #goodtimes #drinks #slurp #bar #liquor #thirsty #instagood #wow #drinkup #photooftheday #greattime #instadaily
More Places We Love In Hudson Valley
Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, NY: Escape to the heart of Hudson Valley where your personal pine cottage is waiting. Cedar Lakes is now booking three- and four-night stays through winter. All meals, a selection of beverages (boozy and non), and use of the property are included in the $125 per person, per night resort fee. You’ll also be treated to the following comped activities: Monday night football in their Treehouse (!), morning farmer’s markets stocked with fresh produce, Friday night trivia, and Saturday fall fests with campy pastimes (think canoeing, tennis, fishing, basketball, field games, and more). Did we mention there are Bob Ross-inspired paint nights? (BYO wig!)
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GOOD NEWS! We are now offering shorter stays beginning October 5 🍂 Come enjoy 3-night stays, either Monday-Thursday or Thursday-Sunday in our Sleepy Pine Cottages or Garden Suites beginning October 5.* (All other cottages continue to require a 6-night stay.) Interested in the Farmhouse? Enter FALLFARMHOUSE for 20% off from now until November 22 🎃 *All accommodations are Monday-Sunday for Thanksgiving week
Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn in Chappaqua, NY: Crabtree is another beyond-cute inn made for a romantic getaway with your main. Nestled in a hamlet in Westchester County, it has charm for days and maybe a few ghosts, since it was built in 1790 and served as a former roadhouse during the Prohibition era. Famous for hosting late-night ragers before becoming a private girls’ school and then a restaurant and inn, it has quite the collection of stories within its walls (along with an award-winning wine cellar in the basement). The restaurant’s ever-changing, locally-sourced menu also makes this landmark a one-stop shop for old-world accommodations and fine dining.
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Treat Dad to a special Father’s Day this Sunday! Choose from our brunch and dinner options on premise and takeout ➡️ www.crabtreeskittlehouse.com/dining #fathersday #dad #garden #outside #socialdistancing #brunch #dinner #takeout #togo #curbside #family #together #special #hudsonvalley #westchester
Image: Mohonk Rd, New Paltz. Jueun Song / Unsplash
As you might recall from your EDM worshipping college days (an unfortunate but valid throwback), Ibiza is the dance music capital of the world. A place that proudly bears a title like that makes it easy to assume that it’s an island full of neon-wearing, Tiësto-loving douchebags dancing to music 24 hours a day. But you’d be wrong; there’s way more to love there. Yes, Ibiza is known for its wild party scene and high social status which, of course, comes with an expensive price tag. It’s a Balearic Island off of Spain’s mainland, so it’s a hassle to get to and plane tickets don’t come cheap, especially since most places don’t offer direct flights there. Lodging is also astronomically costly and a bottle of water at some of Ibiza’s most elite day and night clubs costs $20 (no exaggeration and they’re small-ass bottles, FML). While the raging party scene might be the first thing that comes to mind from what you see on the ‘gram, the island’s real beauty lies in its sights and beaches.
First of all, Spain in and of itself is a place you need to visit in your lifetime. The food is unreal, the people are a vibe, and there are a crazy amount of cities to explore. Ibiza might seem like a skippable stop, but I highly recommend making it part of your trip, especially while you’re young (YOLO). The island truly is one-of-a-kind, and the vibes here are really unlike anywhere else. As much as I had planned for this stop on my trip to be just a place to let loose and enjoy the “scene”, I was surprised to learn how much musical history exists here, dating back to the mid 20th century. I also had no idea how family-friendly (granted, bougie AF families) the island was. It’s unfortunately a pricey travel destination no matter how you slice it, but IMO it’s well worth the splurge. It is super over-the-top, but it’s totally on-brand and everything you’d expect from “the mecca of dance music.”
So, all things considered, is the Ibiza hype real? Does the gorgeous scenery find some weird harmony with the raging parties and dance music scene? The answer is…
Yes. If You’re A Partier, Ibiza Is DEF Worth Visiting.
I might be past my prime party girl years, but TBH, I still enjoy a night out dancing to hype music from time to time. Even if that weren’t the case, the music in Ibiza is really f*cking incredible. Whether you’re eating at a chill spot on the water, or it’s 4am in a bass-blaring nightclub, the music you hear in Ibiza is next level. There’s a reason Ibiza is known as the capital of this genre, and why almost every top DJ currently has or once had a lengthy summer residency there. You can arrive absolutely hating it, but after hearing the wide variety of electronic music Ibiza offers, you’ll leave this Spanish island a (low-key) EDM fan.
Music is only half of it, though. The places you go to dance to these beats are truly where the party lies. There is nothing like an Ibiza party. I repeat: NOTHING like it. It’s often imitated but never duplicated. Below you’ll find a selection of the craziest day club options, and later on, I’ll list some chiller ones, if you’re trying to spend your days resting up pre- or post- a wild night out. Making reservations for daybeds at these spots is always a fun (and expensive) option, but not necessary by any means.
Day Clubs (For Raging)
Ushuaïa: A newer hotel that quickly became an Ibiza staple. Catch their signature ANTS party here every Saturday for a poolside day party that continues on well into the night.
Ibiza Rocks Pool Party: Known as the “home of the pool party” in Ibiza, this newly rebranded day club is always a wild time. Get a VIP table if you really want to party like a
O Beach: Dance away in their pool as acrobats dance above you. It’s extra, but pretty much everything about Ibiza is extra, so why not.
In all honesty, if you’re coming to Ibiza to party, it’s very likely that you won’t even make it to any of those dayclubs…. because you’ll be sleeping until 3pm. Don’t worry though, you’ll find much of this island will be on the same time as you. The real parties at the nightclubs don’t start up until 1 or 2am here (for real), so your sleep schedule will be totally out of whack. I def recommend making #TeamNoSleep moves and going to at least one day party while you’re there, though. As far as nightclubs go, there are a few that are classic Ibiza staples and others that are ritzy and new. Blending a nice mix of the two will give you the most authentic sense of the new and old club culture here (which is a huge element of the island, as ridiculous as it sounds).
Pro tip: take a look at the DJ schedules online to see if anyone you’re remotely into is playing. Getting tickets in advance is also def the move (and will motivate you not to bail when you get too tired to do your makeup after you shower).
DC10: This place is pretty no-frills by Ibiza standards, but it’s an OG Ibiza classic. If you’re trying to go here, def catch one of their signature CircoLoco parties.
Hï Ibiza: Hï is by far the most extra nightclub in Ibiza, and because of that, it is the most expensive one as well. But, I assure you, it is a must-visit. This superclub is designed with totally over-the-top decor, like an outdoor playground slide and a huge neon crystal draped tree. Oh, and the bathroom has its own DJ… and party. It’s the craziest f*cking bathroom you’ll ever pee in.
Amnesia: Another “classic” nightclub that’s been open since the 70s. Before there was a law that mandated all clubs close at 3am in this part of the island, you’d be able to catch the sunrise through the greenhouse-style ceiling as you dance away. RIP! Now you can just dance until 3am and go to sleep “early” like a normal human being.
Pacha: A landmark of sorts for clubbing culture in Ibiza. It’s a bit dated, yet still classic. Pacha’s double cherry logo has become an island-wide symbol for nightlife.
As I said earlier, the people are super nice everywhere (oddly enough, especially the club staff and bouncers). But you should still use your street smarts and know your crowd since pickpocketing is very common in most of Spain. The parties are some of the best you’ll ever go to, but, like anywhere else, you should know to be careful of sketchy people and never leave your belongings unattended.
Like everything else on the scene in Ibiza, even the restaurants know how to turn up. The restaurants listed below serve bomb Spanish food and party vibes galore. Since Ibiza’s prime season (and the only season I recommend visiting in) is the summer, the island gets hella crowded. It’s always a “fun crowded”, but it definitely affects a hot spot’s availability. Point being: you NEED to make reservations at these places. If you’re not a planner and miss out on these spots, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Cafe Mambo: This is my favorite restaurant on the planet. It’s located right on the beach and a big name DJ spins live music in a small booth near the dinner tables. The sunsets on this part of the island are so legendary that it’s a tradition for everyone to chant and clap once the sun finally goes down. I deadass got a tear in my eye as I experienced it because it was THAT beautiful and truly a magical moment. Ugh. K moving on… you will 100% need a res here, especially if you want a good table.
Destino: It’s hard for me to talk up these other two options after I just told you I cried watching the sunset at Mambo, but Destino is also an awesome time. It’s a huge venue you can’t miss that offers seven different menus to choose from for their lit dinner parties.
HEART: Dinner parties here have Cirque du Soleil-like performances and innovative eats. It’s also located in the marina, which is a cool area to go check out (aka stare in awe at million-dollar yachts while simultaneously fantasizing about winning the lottery.)
If You’re Over The Party Scene, Ibiza Is Still Absolutely Worth Visiting.
There’s a ton of culture, history, and scenic beauty that make Ibiza extremely vacation-worthy, even if you’re not a huge partier. You def won’t be forced to party your ass off if that’s not your thing, because there is plenty else to enjoy here. And let’s be real, with beaches this gorgeous, how can you be opposed?
Day Trip to Formentera
Formentera is a famous island off the coast of Ibiza. It’s about a 30-minute ferry ride away (they run pretty much every half hour, but keep your eye on the schedule for your return trip.) Spend your day hanging on the beach or riding scooters to explore the island’s distant bars and beaches. A lot of restaurants are located right on the beach and serve amazing authentic Spanish food. Throughout my entire two-week trip to Spain visiting four different cities, the best paella I had was at a restaurant called Beso Beach in Formentera. Def go there, but like everything else during a busy Ibiza summer, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.
Explore Old Ibiza Town
A friend had told me I’d absolutely love the area of the island called “Old Ibiza Town”, so we decided to get our AirBnB there. While it was no shock that I wound up loving it, it did surprise me to learn how much music history it had. Throughout the 70s and 80s, big-time musicians like George Harrison vacationed here to visit Ibiza’s discothèque scene and celebrate music. You’ll notice the hippie history of the island is celebrated in a lot of places you’ll visit, but especially so in Old Town. The shopping here is absolutely incredible, with everything from chic boutiques to streetside booths. It’s a very family-friendly area of the island that also has a lot of small bars and local restaurants.
The Castle of Ibiza is located right in the heart of Old Town and is a solid hike, if that’s your thing. And while you’re up there, stroll the 2,000-year-old streets of Dalt Villa. And again, the sunsets are famous here for a reason (just make sure you’re on the right side of the island for it or else you’ll miss it)! San Antonio Bay is my personal favorite spot to catch a sunset. Make sure you also hit up the Marina Botafoch in Ibiza Town for a cocktail on the water.
Day Clubs (For Chillin’)
Nassau Beach Club: A clean, inviting beachside dayclub. Multitask sleeping off your hangover and getting a tan underneath the Spanish sun. Reservations recommended.
Blue Marlin: Blue Marlin has amazing food and drinks and daybeds that overlook the beach. The vibe goes from chill to lit around 5pm, so stay late if all that relaxing in the sun gets your energy in the mood to party.
Nikki Beach: You can never go wrong at the world famous Nikki Beach. I mean, who could hate a day club with a pool on a beach?
Sa Capella: It’s a former church, so eating within Sa Capella’s dining room’s stone walls will have you feeling fancy af. I guarantee you’ll love pretty much everything they’re serving too (if only the holy vibes could make the calories you consume not count).
Calma Bistró: A scenic restaurant serving some of Spain’s favorites right on the marina.
Fish Shack: Ok, so this is not glamorous in any way because it is quite literally a waterfront shack… that only serves fish. But it is the absolute best fish you’ll EVER have. Everything served that day is freshly caught in the morning and written on a plain chalkboard menu. Not only is the food to die for, but DJs frequent this place like crazy, so expect to catch some star power here.
All in all, Ibiza is a gorgeous island with a party scene pulse that can’t be topped. Whether you decide to keep your itinerary chill or lit, the people of Ibiza will always make a vacation here special. There are welcoming, interesting people everywhere you go, so let loose with the people around you and celebrate the good life together (or act like you got it like that.) The Ibiza hype is real indeed, and as you can def tell by now, I’m a big fan of it. Sure, your bank account (and your dignity) might be hurting after you get home, but do like the Spanish do. YOLO.
- Shop and stroll through the shops in Ibiza town if you want a more chill day, or get the party started early at Ushuaïa
- Dinner at Fish Shack (it’s cash only!)
- Walk off dinner with a 15 minute stroll along the bay to catch the sunset at Nobu Hotel
- Head out for the night and into the early hours of the morning at DC10
- Ferry to Formentera for the day—the ferry is 30 mins & runs pretty much every half hour
- Hang on the beach all day, or rent scooters at some point to explore the island’s beaches
- Enjoy a late lunch at Beso Beach (be sure to make a reservation here)
- Catch the sunset at Playa de Ses Illetes (the world’s best beach—30 min walk from Beso)
- Take ferry back to Ibiza (keep your eye on the ferry schedule times!) and get ready to go out at HI
- Try out a beach club during the day at Experimental Beach or have lunch in Old Ibiza Town, followed by hiking Castle de Ibiza
- Head to Cafe Mambo for music and dinner (reservations are a must to score a table)
- Go out at Amnesia
- Lunch and day drink the day away at Blue Marlin (reservations highly recommended) or if you want a break from partying, have a scenic lunch on the water at Calma Bistró and explore the rest of Puerto de Ibiza
- Nap on the beach and get your tan on
- One last night out at Ushuaïa
Images: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock
If you’re looking for a European vacation that hasn’t been covered extensively by Instagram yet, I highly recommend a trip through Switzerland. Perfect for a honeymoon or a family occasion, Switzerland is a trip you can do basically any time of year, though it will look a lot different depending on when you go. Everything in Switzerland is more expensive from December to March, which is considered “the season”. However, if you go during this time, the Lake Como extension of the itinerary doesn’t really work, as many hotels there shut down in the winter. So if you still want to do a Northern Italy leg in winter, other options would be Milan or the Italian Alps for skiing.
I went on a mother-daughter trip in mid-October, so I have to make a disclaimer that some of this itinerary reflects mom-is-paying prices. But we’re not *that* fancy, so we tried to go a step up from a millennial budget and a step down from the most expensive options. One caveat is that the food in Switzerland is pretty expensive in general, and we had very few meals that were under 100 dollars once drinks were involved (every meal).
Switzerland is pretty small so it’s easy to fit in a few cities in one trip. Driving wasn’t horrible, although some of the cliffside roads can be a bit windy and intimidating if you’re not a great driver.
We organized the trip so we could stay everywhere two nights, giving us a day of travel where we would stop and see cool sh*t along the way (never more than a four-hour distance in one day), and then spend one full day without traveling in the place we were staying. I would characterize a Switzerland trip as mostly walking around looking at sh*t and eating, so it’s not like you need a ton of time everywhere unless you purposely want to settle down and relax for a more lengthy stay.
We flew direct into Zürich and rented a car without spending any time there, but these are some recommendations I was sent in case you want to vary this itinerary.
Activities: Lindenhof Park, boat ride on the lake, walk along the Bahnhofstrasse (shopping street), Great Minster Church, Sukkulenten Sammlung (botanical garden), try Rosti (a Swiss potato dish which is kind of like potato pancakes and hash browns combined); go to rooftop bars (Widder Hotel Bar, OOO Rooftop, Old Crow, CLOUDS Bar, Skybar, Griederbar rooftop, Quai 61) and Laderach (for homemade chocolate).
Hotels: Glockenhof Hotel (central location, not horribly expensive); more expensive options would be Savoy Baur en Vile, Park Hyatt, Widder Hotel, Dolder Grand, Baur au Lac
Restaurants: Brasserie Lipp (classic), Sprungli (also a chocolate place; expensive), Klingers, Caninetta Antinori, Bindella, Kronnenhalle (old school and famous), Lindenhofkeller (steak), Saltz at the Dolder Grande, AuGust at the Widder Hotel
We spent two nights in Lucerne and stayed at Chateau Gutsch, a castle built in 1859. For such an old building they take great care of it, and even though our original room had kind of a musty smell, they upgraded us to a suite that was really nice and smelled totally fine. The hotel was extremely clean and was recently redesigned by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who also designed Kylie Jenner’s living room.
When we got to Lucerne, we were pretty tired from traveling so, for dinner we just had drinks and appetizers at the Gutsch Bar outside on the patio overlooking the city. Not cheap, but a nice atmosphere and they had a huge cocktail menu.
We spent the next day exploring the city, walking around the Old Town mostly and along Lake Lucerne. There are a ton of cute places to eat along the river; we went for fondue at Restaurant Schiff which was great (plus other options below). The city is very pretty and you can easily get a feel from walking around for an afternoon. See the Chapel Bridge, a hyped up statue of a lion (kind of an icon in Lucerne tbh), and a lot of stores that sell watches.
Other hotel options: If you’re looking to splurge on a hotel for Lucerne, the most consistent recommendation I got was for Buergenstock Resort, which is actually several hotels on one property and slightly above/outside the city, meaning amazing views; also Villa Honegg (next door to Buergenstock), Hotel Montana (city), Grand Hotel National (city), Park Hotel Vitznau (outside city).
Other restaurants: Ammos, Little Swiss House, Hotel Des Balances, Olivio, Barbatti, Scala, Hotel Schweizerhof
The next day we drove from Lucerne to Adelboden. On the way we stopped at Lake Lungern for literally the most gorgeous lake I’ve ever seen, both in real life and on the explore page.
We also stopped in Interlaken (approximately an hour from Lake Lungern) because we heard there was a cute chocolate shop we had to go to…and also because we wanted to check out what the town was like. I wasn’t particularly obsessed with the town but the chocolate shop (Funky Chocolate Club) was the world’s most perfect abroad-girl trap.
Adelboden is a low-key tiny town with incredible views, so the main draws are the mountains and outdoor activities. It’s a ski town in the winter with schnitzel-y vibes. We stayed at The Cambrian, an adorable, modern hotel that wasn’t insanely priced, which the owner claims “really took off due to Instagram.” Overall, I’d highly recommend this hotel.
When we got there, we spent some time at the pool before dinner at Alpenblick Restaurant and then spent the rest of our night sitting on the deck at the Cambrian having drinks.
The next day, we had reserved outdoor activities and hiking (aka leisurely walking). We took the cable car up Tschentenalp (one of the Alps) for some even more incredible views. Then we drove about 10 minutes to Engstligenalp, an even higher Alp. They have golf and restaurants at the top of the mountain, as well as a hut with raclette, a food where you watch someone put a ton of melted cheese on top of bread and vegetables and then eat it. Different from fondue where you dip the things into the cheese.
Crans-Montana was sort of similar to Adelboden but felt a bit more ritzy, while still not at all pretentious. It’s also in a more French area of Switzerland, while Adelboden is more German influenced. Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?
We stayed at LeCrans Hotel and Spa, which was literally a perfect mountain hotel with lodge vibes. It’s ski-in/ski-out in the winter and we’re already planning another trip back there. Not #spon, just loved it. The service was unreal and they gave us a double room upgrade so we ended up with a large balcony and fireplace in the room.
For dinner our first night we ate at the restaurant in the hotel, Le Mont Blanc, which had a ridiculous tasting menu of foods I can’t even name. It’s Michelin-starred so it wasn’t cheap, but the overall price was relatively lower than many of the other restaurants we went to given what we got for the price. This is how I justify financial decisions to myself.
The next day I decided to chill at the hotel and go to the spa and pool, while my mom went into town for the day. We had dinner at La Desalpe, the classic spot in Crans village for traditional Swiss food. So good, so much cheese.
The next day we took a four hour drive from Crans to Lake Como. We drove through Passo Della Novena right on the Swiss border and finally got to see some snow. We didn’t realize we’d be driving through this climate surprise but it was so incredible and truly a highlight of the trip. Also, they do amazing snow maintenance on their roads.
On the way, we stopped at the Foxtown Outlets in Mendrisio, very close to the Italian border. It had amazing designers with genuinely worthwhile discounts. Like Gucci shoes for 200 dollars, plus you can claim the VAT, so I basically made money on this trip.
**An option if you want to continue in Switzerland and skip Lake Como would be to drive to Montreaux, a small city that’s famous for having a music festival and a castle on Lake Geneva. So, we spent an hour exploring the Chateau de Chillon for 25 Swiss francs pp (yes they are on their own currency because these neutral bitches are not in the EU). The castle basically looks like Kings Landing, at least according to the fellow tourist who kept screaming “GAME OF THRONES!” In addition to Montreaux, an alternative would be to visit the town of Gruyeres and do a tour of Maison Cailler, a v famous chocolate factory.
We were only there for one full day, but it was enough time for a fall trip when the weather isn’t great for lake lyfe. We stayed at the Palace Hotel in Como, which was a good price even with the George Clooney Tax, aka the premium for being anywhere your phone will pick up the Lake Como geotag. It wasn’t especially lux, but totally nice enough for the time we spent there. However, if you go in the summer and want a longer and more relaxing vaca, this is a destination where a hotel would be worth a splurge or total wipe-out of your Chase points.
We got to the hotel pretty late with post-outlet fatigue, so we had dinner outside at the hotel bar. The food was okay but still tasted amazing since we had pretty much only been eating squares of chocolate since breakfast. Had we not spent almost five hours at Foxtown (45 minutes of which we were just lost inside the mall trying to find the parking lot), we would have gone to the town of Bellagio to walk around and have dinner (recommendations for various Como towns below).
The next morning we woke up late and went to Villa d’Este, an iconic spot worth exploring because it’s gorgeous, but beware the pretentious vibes and excessive botox from the clientele. To get into the villa you need a reservation, so we made one for lunch at Veranda. The food was so f*cking good, but if you don’t want to spend 45 euro on 30 bites of penne, you can just as easily eat at the terrace bar (but still make a reservation at Veranda just in case so you can get in). We explored the gardens for about a half hour after lunch and waited for the boat tour we had arranged to pick us up at the Villa d’Este dock.
Boat ride: We were expecting it to rain the day we were there, but luckily it didn’t so we booked a last-minute boat tour. Having done no research prior, I just googled a boat tour and found a great guide through Lago di Como Boat Tour. The driver’s name was Giacomo, who was extremely nice and knowledgeable about everything on the lake, and also said he drove John Legend to film the “All Of Me” video. It cost 400 euro for two hours, though it’s completely possible you might find something cheaper if you don’t book totally at the last second and you actually put in the research. Many of the hotels on the lake also have boats you can take yourself included in the price.
Villa Balbianello: 16th century villa where Star Wars was filmed with gorgeous gardens. Costs 10 euro to tour the gardens only, or you have to book a guided tour to go inside. We just looked at it from the boat.
Villa Carlotta: Another villa with beautiful gardens, next to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
After dinner we took the windy, very skinny roads up the mountain looking for dinner but nothing was open until 7, so we went to La Piazzetta in Cernobbio (v good, cute garden area). After dinner we stopped at Gelateria Sottozero for our one and only gelato of the trip. It was standard but amazing, though if you’re looking for “the best” gelato, I was recommended La Fabbrica del Gelato in Lenno.
Cernobbio: Il Gatto Nero, Albergo Pizzeria della Torre, Pizzeria Giardino (more casual), Ristorante Materia, Trattoria del Glicine, Harry’s Bar
Varenna: Il Cavatappi, La Passerella (gelato)
Tremezzo: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Al Veluu
Bellagio: Bilacus, Babyaga, Ristorante La Terrazza, Bstyle Bellagio, Salice Blu (celebrity chef), Enotecca Principessa, Aperitivo et al (wine bar), La Punta
Como: The Market Place, La Colombetta, Caffè Teatro, Gelateria Lariana (near ferry)
Locanda Dell’Isola Comacina: a three-hour lunch experience on the only island in the lake; fixed menu with all-you-can-drink wine and they put on a show about the history of the island at the end
Transportation: If not driving, the best way to experience Lake Como is on the lake itself and to take the ferry between different towns. They only run every 30 minutes and be sure to get there early in case there are lines to buy tickets.
We flew out of Milan Malpensa. This is only worth the mention because if you rent a car, it would be criminal of me not to explain how to return it. There is no attendant, so you just leave it at Terminal 2 in a poorly-marked lot (which is impossible to find), then drop your documents and keys in a box nearby. Sounds simple, right? Well, no one is going to explain this to you beforehand. Then you have to take a shuttle bus (also hard to find) from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, where you’ll be greeted with some of the longest airport walks you’ve ever known. Bon voyage, betches.
I spent my spring semester junior year studying abroad in Florence, Itay, and let me tell you (as I’m sure you’ve heard from eeeevery single basic bitch you know), it was literally the best experience of my life!
I know it’s hard to believe every aspect of being abroad was great, but even bad moments didn’t faze me, because at least I was experiencing them in Italy. I was also lucky enough to travel with an amazing group of people who made the experience even better. Obviously, studying abroad is about indulging yourself in, learning about, and adapting to another culture. However, if the people you study abroad with are all douchebags, fake, or unadventurous, you may as well prepare for a bad time.
During my four months in Florence, I ate my weight in carbs, danced on more elevated surfaces than is socially acceptable, walked more than I have in my entire life, went out almost every night, and still managed to get straight As. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to fit every single club, museum, bar, gelateria, store, and restaurant, on top of traveling to other places, into just one semester. My time in Florence was so incredible, I still preface a disgusting amount of stories with, “when I was abroad…” as though I just got back last week.
For those of you planning to or considering studying abroad in Florence, think of this as your bible. Like I said, I obviously can’t include every establishment and/or attraction in the city, but here’s a compilation of some of my favorite places Firenze has to offer. Prego! (Translation: you’re welcome! Did I mention I studied abroad in Italy once?)
While many study abroad programs don’t give you the option of choosing your accommodations for the semester, there are a few things you should expect to be different than how you’re (probably) living at home, especially if you’re from the U.S.
For starters, when you first arrive in your Italian home, everything looks like it’s been put on a miniature setting. The beds are juuuuust big enough for you to comfortably sleep in, there aren’t any oversized sinks or showers, there’s a bidet in almost every bathroom, washing machines are compact, and dryers in homes are a rarity.
Grocery stores are just that: grocery stores. There’s no Italian equivalent to a Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, or even CVS, where you have access to food, hygiene products, medicine, and even clothing under one roof. If you want food and/or wine and a small selection of hard liquor, you can hit up the closest Conad. I found that having to carry my groceries back to my apartment and not being tempted by other things in the store helped me both stay on budget and not binge.
To dry your clothes, you’ll need to either use a hanging rack or locate a laundromat (which is pretty much your only shot at finding a functioning dryer). Hit up any pharmacy or farmacia (they have a big green plus sign out front) for medicine and hygiene products. Any other miscellaneous needs (and the spot to pay your international phone bill) is a tobacco shop.
At first this is all a pain in the ass, but it’s a quick adjustment and a refreshingly efficient way to live. Something I found helpful was bringing some of my own supplies from home, since I knew the exact time frame I’d be in Florence. It was easy for me to predict how much of my prescription medicine*, tampons, emergency cold medicine, etc. I’d need for the semester.
Regarding food, I recommend finding a balance between cooking and eating out. This way, you can take part in the truly life-changing experience of freshly-made Italian food without going completely bankrupt.
If you’re someone who can’t go anywhere without hot hair styling tools, I suggest purchasing an inexpensive straightener, curling iron, etc. once you’re in Florence. Sure, there are a couple of U.S. brands who claim you won’t have any issue using their products with international adaptors, and that very well may be true! However, almost everyone I know who has tried to use their beloved straightener from home in another country has either blown a fuse or completely ruined the plug and/or overall function of their straightener. If you buy tools with the European plug already built in, there’s no worry about wattage conversions or
looking like a sewer rat having messy hair because you ruined your straightener.
Living in Florence also made me realize how f*cking spoiled and materialistic we are as Americans! Truthfully, it’s not necessary for one person to be sleeping in a king-size bed alone. I mean, if you’ve got it like that, more power to you, but it was really nice to live in a culture where they only use and invest in things they actually need to live comfortably.
*Tip: If you’re taking birth control, antidepressants, or any other kind of prescription meds, be sure to bring enough with you to last your whole trip. It can be difficult for you to access certain medicines overseas.
Restaurants and Gelaterias
Arguably more important than where you live is what you eat. Out-of-body doesn’t even begin to describe my experience eating at Italian restaurants. I’m a self-proclaimed pasta snob, so needless to say my restaurant recs have at least six pasta dish options. I’ve broken down my favorite spots based on what meal/time is best to eat there.
Italians aren’t huge on having a big breakfast, rather a coffee and pastry or small sandwich. That being said, there are tons of cafes sprinkled throughout the city, so you’re bound to pass at least one on your way to class. If you’re looking for a breakfast with a bit more sustenance, here are a few places I turned to for a more ~Americanesque~ dining experience.
Shake Café: Great spot for smoothies, açaí bowls, and pretty much every other health trend you can think of. They also serve eggs any style, breakfast potatoes, and other savory options.
Mama’s Bakery: Cute restaurant with indoor and garden spaces. They sell baked goods and other typical cafe items. On Sundays they sell French toast with fresh fruit, making it my go-to spot for studying on the weekend.
La Milkeria: With a menu consisting of cafe items, waffles, crepes, pancakes, and gelato, La Milkeria is the perfect place for someone who prefers a sweet breakfast.
Ditta Artigianale: Check them out if you’re searching for a more ~hipster~ cafe vibe. They serve a variety of cocktails, sweet and savory bakery items, and lattes with sick foam artwork.
The following are either popular study abroad staples or internationally known lunch spots. Considering you’re in Florence to “take classes,” you likely won’t have time for a full sit-down lunch, making these options perfect for a grab-and-go meal.
Gustapizza: I was lucky enough to live in Santo Spirito (which is where Gustapizza is), so needless to say I was a regular. You can get a personal pizza prepared right in front of you, and they’ll even bake it into a heart if you ask.
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Pino’s Sandwiches: Pino’s is a study abroad staple. He has the restaurant decorated with flags from schools across America and is one of the nicest guys in Florence. Pino’s has a selection of paninis as well as pre-made dishes every day. Either option is super affordable, so you have more money to spend on wine.
Los Chicos: If you’re obsessed with Tex-Mex food, Los Chicos will be your go-to. It’s kind of a hole in the wall, but they serve amazing food. I once ordered nachos to go and got a 12×6” tray full of them. Need I say more?
Queen’s Chips Amsterdam: This is one of the most simple yet delicious fast food chains in the city. They serve you fries in a portable cone and smother them in a sauce of your choosing.
All’Antico Vinaio: If you’ve never heard of All’Antico, it’s a small, world-famous panini shop. It’s so popular they even opened a pop-up in NYC this summer. If you’re trying to get a taste of their fresh sandwiches in Florence, make sure you block out a decent amount of time. You can pretty much always expect the line for All’Antico to stretch down the street. Godspeed.
If you’ve ever been to a real Italian restaurant (aka not Olive Garden), you know Italians typically have multiple courses for dinner. Aperitivo, antipasto, primo, segundo e contorno, insalata, formaggi e frutta, dolce, and digestivo con caffe. While this may seem overwhelming, Italy (and the majority of Europe for that matter) actually has normally-sized portions, unlike America. Rather than getting a single plate overflowing with food and sides, you’re getting a series of smaller plates spread out to make up a long dinner.
Another major contrast is that there’s rarely pressure from waitstaff about the length of your meal. This means you won’t break a sweat when they come by and you still don’t know what you want off the menu. There were times when my friends and I were at dinner for literal hours without issue.
Spoiler alert for those of you who live and die for dishes like penne alla vodka and chicken parm: those aren’t “real” Italian dishes. That means they’re nearly impossible to find in Florence. RIP.
Ristorante Trattoria Dante: Depending on the night, Dante’s has a nice and lovely waitstaff, which is a nice compliment to the dimly-lit atmosphere. More importantly, they have a deal for students for unlimited wine with the purchase of a meal. You can thank me later.
Osteria del Gato e la Volpe: A great place if you want to indulge in a family-style meal. Moderate space and delicious food.
Osteria Santo Spirito: As I mentioned, I lived in Santo Spirito, so this osteria was only four minutes from my apartment. The restaurant itself was relatively small, but very colorful and has outdoor seating year-round. I recommend the fresh spaghetti with pomodoro (tomato) or their famous truffle gnocchi.
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Trattoria Zá Zá: They are known for their freshly made pasta (made right in the restaurant), and it is TO DIE FOR. Seriously, this was easily one of the best dinners I had. My friend and I split a meal, and they brought us the skillet in which they made our dish right to the table so we could self-serve. The restaurant itself is really popular, so definitely make a reservation.
Trattoria 4 Leoni: This restaurant is located more on the outskirts of the city center, making it a cute and quiet option. They serve pear ravioli, which I didn’t love, but it may just be an acquired taste.
La Spada: One of the only restaurants with a little section for takeout. The waitstaff was super friendly and they had a good (discounted) deal for five-course dinners for large parties.
To be on the safe side, I would call to make a reservation ahead of time for all of these places. It saved me potential hours of hanger and waiting.
No explanation necessary. I recommend going to gelaterias where there aren’t highly-stacked mounds of gelato, because it may not be fresh.
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Gelateria la Carraia: Aka the best gelato in Florence. I found their gelato was the most flavorful and extremely affordable. Its location along the Arno River makes for beautiful views while you eat.
Gelateria dei Neri: Also good gelato, buuuut it’s no la Carraia. If you’ve been to Florence and think I’m psycho for this stance, please just put the pitchforks away. Gelato’s a peaceful dessert.
Another exciting part about studying abroad in Europe (for those of you who drink) is that the legal drinking age is 18! You can leave your fake ID at home and hit up as many local bars as you want. The list below is a miniscule amount, but these bars were my regular spots throughout the semester. For the most part, each bar carries a totally different vibe. However, they’re all great for either a chill night out or a pregame spot before the club.
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Red Garter: One word: karaoke. There’s a large back room solely dedicated t0 karaoke and it’s a riot. The first room in the bar is a small, club-like dance and bar area, and on the side is a room set up as a sports bar. They have the best wings in the city and often have discounted deals for people to come eat, drink, and watch popular American sporting events.
Uncle Jimmy’s: For €1, you can purchase a wristband which gets you a free shot every time you buy a drink. It’s bottom-shelf liquor, of course, but it’s a study abroad student’s dream! If you’re from the East Coast and have ever gone to Brother Jimmy’s, the vibe here is exactly like that, only somehow better…because it’s Italian.
The Lion’s Fountain: The “Brother” bar to Uncle Jimmy’s. Has the same wristband deal. Additionally, for the bold and (likely) blacked out, if you flash the bartender for 10 seconds, your drink is free. Otherwise, it’s the same vibe as Uncle Jimmy’s.
The Michael Collins Pub: They basically sell drinks in tall containers that you’d typically get a to-go order of soup in. Two levels with live music in the basement. Overall chill vibe in an Irish pub setting.
Beer House Club: You can find people here pretty much all day and night. They have a variety of meal options and a massive selection of beer on tap. Both the indoor and patio area are full of tables and chairs, so even though they play hip hop/dance/club music at night, there isn’t much space to move.
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Kikuya English Pub: Full disclosure, I don’t remember too much about this bar other than the fact that my friend Hannah and I got fake engaged here. As the name of the bar implies, it’s an English pub and the inside is very dark and decorated with fairy lights everywhere. Their drinks were both really delicious and strong. Win win!
I’Margaritatio Cantina Messicana – Cocktail Bar: Great happy hour with the best and biggest frozen margaritas I’ve ever had. It’s a small, underground place that projects music videos on mute that do not sync up with the songs they’re playing on the speakers. Yeah, idk.
Shot Cafe: TBH, there wasn’t anything particularly spectacular about Shot Cafe. They served pitchers of drinks with 3-foot straws, which was more Instagrammable than functional. Otherwise, I was usually only here for five minutes max to buy a shot so I could get a stamp for free cover at the club.
Green Street Bar: This bar definitely has more of a cafe vibe. It’s not that big of a space and it’s open all day serving coffee and other cafe items and turns into a bar in the evening. The bartenders were all really cool and friendly, but this was another free stamp location for me.
While dealing with promoters is a serious pain in the ass, they were truly my saving grace in Florence. It can be super sketchy to interact with them initially (you absolutely need to make sure they’re legit first), but after a while you’ll have a go-to guy for the best deals.
My promoter always knew which bars were giving out stamps for free entry into the club, got us discounts on event and concert tickets, and because I’d become such a frequent flyer at the club(s), my friends and I never waited in line (*cue eye roll,* but whatever it’s true).
Several clubs have either a reduced or completely free cover charge for study abroad students. Just bring your student ID (or school name card) from the school you’re studying abroad at, not from your actual four-year college/university. As with everything listed above, this is just a handful of the club options in Florence. However, if you like a playlist of both remixes and actual songs with lyrics, dancing on elevated surfaces, and sneaking into VIP, I guarantee you’ll have an amazing time.
YAB: YAB is like the club equivalent to a frat basement. Aside from the fact that it’s literally underground, it’s full of skeezy men and poorly ventilated, yet I keep going back. In all seriousness, YAB is a lot of fun and I was dropping it low there every Monday. Hoooweverrrr, you need to be ESPECIALLY conscious of your belongings. Since everyone is usually packed like sardines, it’s a pickpocket’s paradise.
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Space Club Firenze: there isn’t enough space on this website for me to gush about Space. This place is a one-stop shop. On the lower level (before the night really pops off), they have karaoke, a small bar, and lounge areas. On the upper level, there’s a massive dance floor, VIP area, bar, and upper level where strippers/dancers would randomly appear throughout the night. Saying I thrived here doesn’t even do my experience justice. I was on a new level any time I set foot in Space. There was a different theme and decor most nights, and sometimes they gave away free stuff, which made it even more fun.
Blue Velvet: The bouncers at Blue velvet were the rudest I came across the whole semester. They had a serious sense of entitlement just because they controlled who could and couldn’t get into the club. The decor of the club was a little 50 Shades of Grey. Velvet curtains and booths everywhere and the layout itself was awkward. On the bright side, music was decent and there was good airflow, which can be hard to come by in clubs.
Bamboo Lounge & Club: Bamboo is like the club you choose to go to when all the other ones are at capacity. It’s an ok amount of fun (obviously depending on who you go with) because most people stand around and drink rather than dance. The front half is a standard bar area where you’re bound to find your standard Italian f*ckboys.
Sights, Gardens, Museums, and Churches
If the beautiful architecture of Florence isn’t enough for you, the city is also home to some of the most beautiful attractions I’ve experienced to date. Thankfully, all of you broke betches out there like me won’t have to worry about sacrificing an experience because you can’t afford it! None of the museums/gardens are too expensive, and your program will probably have some excursions included in the lesson plan.
Many of the churches are free to enter, and some of the statues are outside in the varying piazzas (squares), so it’s super convenient to take a day to walk around and see what you come across. Every piazza can be thought of like a “neighborhood” of Florence, and there’s usually a church which the piazza is named after. I mainly spent time in the below piazzas, museums, and gardens.
Piazalle Michelangelo: Reaching Piazalle Michelangelo can be a trek, but the view overseeing the city is worth it. This is the perfect place to bring a wine and cheese plate or small dinner and catch the sunset with your friends.
Palazzo Vecchio: This is the city hall of Florence, located in Piazza della Signoria. You can purchase tickets to check out the inside of the hall, but the piazza is one that houses many outdoor statues, so it’s always flooded with tourists.
Uffizi Gallery: Florence’s most famous art gallery. It’s located close to Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria and is full of rooms and rooms of famous portraits, statues, and great architecture.
Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace): This is a Renaissance palace that is beyond gaudy. You have a ton of different options on what you can tour (just the entrance, the gallery, the Boboli Gardens, etc.). Depending on what you’re interested in seeing, this stop alone can take up hours of your day.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and il Duomo: This is the cathedral the Duomo is attached to. If you’re not claustrophobic and don’t have a fear of heights, you can pay to climb the tower and get a sick view of the city.
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Bardini Gardens: These gardens aren’t as big as the Boboli gardens, but still a quaint spot. My favorite part is the lavender path, where the flowers are interwoven into a metal arch structure. You can also find great city views here. It’s all about the gram after all, right? I mean, how else will people know you’re abroad?
Gucci Museum: All the expensive clothes and items you’ll never be able to afford conveniently displayed in one place!
Galleria dell’Academia: Statue of David lives here.There are other beautiful paintings and sculptures as well, but David is enormous and takes the cake. I ate sh*t and busted my knee on the way to see the statue of David but was so determined, I still waited an hour to get into the gallery. If you’re looking to go here on the weekend, I would go as early as possible to beat the crowd.
Piazza della Repubblica: One of the most populated/the main square of the city. If you’ve ever seen photos or videos of street performers and a merry-go-round in Florence, this is it. It’s a great landmark to remember to help you navigate day-to-day. There are also soooo many good shopping spots and restaurants around this piazza, so it’s easy to spend a full afternoon here.
Giardini di Boboli (Boboli Gardens): If you go to Florence in the Spring or Summer you cannot skip going here. The grounds are enormous and I spent hours exploring every time I went there. There are miles of greenery, flowers, open fields, fountains, sculptures, and killer views of both the city and surrounding areas.
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Ponte Vecchio: one of the bridges (ponte = bridge) along the Arno. Home to a lot of cute booths and small shops. MAJOR tourist attraction, so I’d try to go during off-peak hours (you’ll know what I mean when you get there) to avoid the rush.
Santa Maria Novella: Another architecturally gorgeous church in the city and a great landmark to help you navigate toward the bus and train station. It’s relatively small by comparison to some of the other churches in the city,
Santa Croce & Piazza Santa Croce: You guessed it, this is another church in Florence and yes, it’s gorgeous. The square in front of the church is huge, making it a popular location for vendors, and Calcio Fiorentino a.k.a. historic soccer.
Piazza Santo Spirito: My home away from home. Santo Spirito is honestly an amazing location to live. It’s located directly on the opposite side of the Arno from all the major tourist attractions, so at night you can pretty much always count on it being quiet. It’s home to Basilica di Santo Spirito, Gustapizza, Mama’s Bakery, Osteria Santo Spirito, and cute farmers markets and pop-up vendors every weekend.
Flying: Direct flights to and from Florence are expensive AF. To cut costs, I recommend taking a shuttle to a neighboring city, like Pisa. Ryanair is the European equivalent to Spirit Airlines, and even though your neck will be broken after the flight, a €30 round-trip flight to the U.K. is worth it.
Trains: Buying train tickets once you’re onboard is NOT a thing in Flo, so be sure to order online ahead of time or give yourself a cushion to purchase them at the station.
Buses: I did the majority of my external European trips through a travel/tourism company, which relied on buses to trek us from country to country. While the travel time will be three times as long as a flight, bus tickets are way cheaper. Buses are also a great option for traveling to surrounding cities like Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano.
Taxis (because Uber’s nonexistent): There’s no such thing as hailing a taxi on the streets of Florence, and unfortunately the same is true for Uber. If you want and/or need a taxi, you have to call ahead of time and schedule a pickup/drop-off. However, taxis are like €15 for a seven-minute ride, so it’s really not worth it. Get off your ass and walk.
TBH I’ve never been into “exercising,” and wasn’t going to spend my precious moments abroad in a gym or fitness studio. As I said earlier, considering the cost of taxis and nonexistent ride share apps (combined with the fact that my Italian wasn’t nearly fluent enough to get me out of a crisis) I relied on walking to get me everywhere. Whether I was walking to class, going to the club, or walking to the opposite side of the city for a museum visit, I averaged well over the recommended 10,000 steps a day, which kept me in shape.
However, if you are a #fitbitch, there are gyms around the city (as well as yoga and other fitness studios) you can become a short-term member at to assure you still have access to your workout routine.
Unfortunately, as I’ve said many times, I can’t list eveeeery single thing to do in Florence. In this case, however, that’s not a terrible thing. When you’re abroad in Europe, you’re likely going to divide your time between your “host” country and many of the other surrounding countries. I visited to nine in total during the semester, and still felt like I spent ample time home in Firenze. The best of both worlds!
If done right, studying abroad in Florence can be the best time of your life. Try your hardest to get yourself comfortable with getting lost (in a non-dangerous way) so you can discover some new sh*t. Bring your phone with you as a fail-safe, but try and get from one place to another relying strictly on your memory. You’ll be surprised how familiar you actually are with the city and are bound to find some hidden gems, because you’re not zoned in to your screen.
Whether you’re a first-time Flo explorer or a seasoned professional, remember to be conscious of yourself, your surroundings, and your sh*t at all times. Florence is one of the WORST cities in the world for pick-pocketing, and I can attest to that. All but four of my friends got their wallets, phones, or both stolen (two of them in less than 24-hours after landing in Florence), so seriously, beware and be smart.
Otherwise, buona fortuna e fai un buon viaggio (good luck and have a great trip)!
Images: Heidi Kaden / Unsplash; Giphy (2); offcampus (2), bennydrama7, gustapizzafirenze, abbroaadeaatz, eatinggwithemma, beerhousefirenze, yabfirenze, rinniesaus, emilycarrello, isabelwilkinson, fatcarriebradshaw / Instagram
A lot of people have been asking if I could share my vacation itinerary from Singapore and Vietnam, and since I find myself awake at 2am with jet lag for the fifteenth night in a row, here it is.
First of all, I would be lying if I said that Crazy Rich Asians didn’t have a strong influence on my desire to take this vacation. It turned out to be really nothing like the movie, but it ended up being great for many reasons: one is that I didn’t feel a need to wear makeup once, another that it’s perfectly acceptable—no, expected—to eat fried spring rolls for breakfast.
Our first two days were in Singapore, which overall felt like NYC with a slightly more collectivist attitude. We had a great time, but my main observation of Singapore is that I would definitely not describe it as authentic or chill. Much of the experience felt like a very faraway version of America or a real-life version of The Good Place (which is how a Betches fan described it to me over DM and I think she was absolutely right).
Vietnam was the complete opposite of that. If Singapore is a country built around tourism, Vietnam is building tourism around the country. There’s such a strong culture and wide variety of terrains and history that made it really incredible. The reason we chose it is because we were looking for somewhere in Southeast Asia that was developed enough to comfortably travel through but not yet ruined by Instagram (cough Thailand).
For the Vietnam leg of our trip we used a company called Tonkin Travel, which I found on Trip Advisor and was honestly a bit shocked by how flawless its reviews were. While the trip definitely had some hiccups that you’ll read about, they weren’t really in the company’s control, and they seemed to do their best to rectify them. This is not an ad for them, but in general I would highly recommend using a travel agency to manage your trip, especially if you’re doing more than just stopping in Hanoi. We paid them a flat fee which included hotels, transportation and driver, tour guides and activities, and several meals.
Day 1: Land in Singapore
Flight lands around 7am. Check into the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
A stay at the Marina Bay Sands is well worth it and was a highlight of Singapore for me. Before we arrived I was a little worried this wouldn’t be the case, as the sheer size and social media attention around it made me concerned it might be like a Vegas hotel or something similarly hyped and overpriced. The room rate wasn’t insane (a little under $400), the amenities and services were very good, and the rooftop infinity pool overlooking the city is not overrated. It was clean and not overcrowded at all, likely because you can’t get in unless you’re a guest of the hotel. Like most things in Singapore, this is a very *strict* pool, and they make every person scan their room key before entering and exiting. Prepare for a single iced coffee on the rooftop to run you about $9 (although it’s one of the better iced coffees I’ve had outside America).
The hotel is also a massive hub of restaurants, nightclubs, and a shopping mall, and pretty much everything is an outpost of an American place. Clubs include Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, and the restaurants run the gamut from Black Tap to Spago, many of which are attached to celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud. You get the idea.
In the afternoon we went to the Gardens by the Bay, which are conveniently attached to the Marina Bay Sands via a skybridge. This is where the wedding from Crazy Rich Asians was filmed, and features massive manmade “super trees”, which are less trees and more giant tree-like structures. It’s an indoor/outdoor space, and there are giant domes with floral installments and a huge indoor waterfall. We went to the Gardens both during the day and at night when it was all lit up, and they have a nightly 15-minute light show at 7:45 and 8:45pm. The show on the night we went happened to be sponsored by Toy Story 4, and that was the moment I realized that Singapore is Epcot.
We had dinner at Lau Pa Sat, one of Singapore’s famous hawker centers. This was the one that was recommended most to us. The hawker centers are basically giant food courts, named after all the people trying to hawk their food at you. They have a ton of stations with all different types of Asian foods. It’s a cheap meal and this was probably the most authentic-feeling aspect of Singapore. Just a warning that they charge you for toilet paper in the bathrooms, and there are no napkins at any of the food places, so BYON.
Day 2: Singapore
Spent the day at Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa Island. Sentosa Island is an area of Singapore with manmade beaches and resorts, about 20 minutes from downtown Singapore. More Epcot vibes. According to Google, Tanjong seemed to be the most established beach club, and it was fine, but the beach definitely felt manmade. It was fun, but I wish we’d been there on a weekend when they have day parties. Email them to book a daybed in advance; it doesn’t cost anything but there’s a $50 minimum spend on food and drinks, which is basically impossible not to meet if you’re there for several hours.
Dinner at Boat Quay, a strip on the water with bars and restaurants. This felt like a place that actual Singaporeans might go.
For night 2 we stayed at the Dorsett Singapore, near the Chinatown area. It was much cheaper than the MBS (around $150) and still p nice.
Food to try: Kaya toast—a very thin toast sandwich with butter and kaya spread (coconut egg jam). You’ll like it, it’s sweet.
Day 3: Fly to Hanoi
Early flight to Hanoi (3.5 hours). Checked into La Siesta Central Hotel, which I could not recommend more. Their level of customer service and interest in us having a good experience was actually shocking. The breakfast was next level, and you could sign into Netflix on the room TVs.
Our tour guide took us around Hanoi to three historic sites: The Temple of Literature (a temple of Confucius from 1070), the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (they are like really obsessed with Ho Chi Minh there), and the Temple of Jade on Hoàn Kiếm Lake (another Confucian temple in the middle of the lake in the Old Quarter).
Dinner at Hungry Hanoi, a standard restaurant in the Old Quarter. Most places we ate were very similar to each other, but very good, and cost about the price of a Seamless order for one.
If you’re there Friday through Sunday, the street around the lake becomes a walking street at night where people eat, shop, play music and games. I highly recommend taking advantage of the souvenirs in Hanoi, because they sell bags and earrings that would be anywhere from $50-$300 on Revolve, but cost like three dollars and literally look exactly the same.
Food to try: Egg coffee. Sounds weird, but they somehow whip egg yolks and condensed milk into the coffee? It works.
Day 4: Ninh Bình Day Trip
We drove about two hours for a day trip to Ninh Binh, a province near Hanoi with a ton of cool sh*t to see. We went to three places, all a quick drive away from each other.
Hoa Lư: the ancient royal capital of Vietnam to visit two temples from the 10th century
Hang Múa: a 500 step hike with more amazing architecture and views
Tam Cốc-Bích Động: first we visited a three-story pagoda built into a mountain, then took a boat ride through cliffs, mountains, and caves
Lunch at Spring Garden in Ninh Bình (guide brought us). Dinner at our hotel in Hanoi before leaving for the train station.
Day 5: Overnight Train To Sa Pa
The overnight train is called the Chapa Express and truthfully I’ve had worse experiences on the LIRR than this, which was surprisingly solid. Each cabin holds four people but you can buy out the empty spots for $33 per bed, which we did bc you know, serial killers.
Our guide picked us up from the train, and then we made the first big mistake of our trip, which was driving two hours to go to a “local market.” It was apparently one of the bigger markets in Vietnam so I’d hoped to find more straw bags and Revolve jewelry, but it turned out to be more emphasis on “local” and less on “market.” It was basically where people come to buy actual necessities like clothes and food for the week. It was a good glimpse into real life, but personally I wished it didn’t involve driving two hours in the opposite direction.
Drive to Topas Ecolodge in Sa Pa. OK I have no words to describe this place. It was, no exaggeration, the most beautiful, best place I’ve ever been in my life. It’s an ecolodge located in the middle of nowhere among rice paddies and mountains. Look at this f*cking place.
We spent the afternoon getting drunk on pool food and taking photos of ourselves (every guest seemed to devote at least two hours to this process per day). Dinner at the lodge was a hot pot and glasses of alcohol.
Day 6: Sa Pa (Topas Ecolodge)
Another epic breakfast. Stayed at the pool all day. Got a massage that was so good I got another one immediately after. For dinner we signed up for the BBQ option thinking this would be like a bunch of grilled sh*t and all the guests mingling, but it ended up being a five course meal and wine pairing in a private gazebo that was just us and one other couple, where food was being cooked in an outdoor kitchen a few feet away. I was living.
Day 7: Sa Pa to Hanoi
I felt sick and didn’t go anywhere this morning, but my fiancé took a trip to hike the rice paddies to one of the local villages to chill with some actual Vietnamese people, the women of the Red Dao tribe. He said it was great. The lodge will organize all sorts of activities for you if you ask, but I chose to do nothing the entire time I was there.
Check out in the afternoon. Five hour drive to Hanoi. Dinner at Duong Restaurant aka more spring rolls and pho.
Day 8: Travel to Cat Ba/Lan Ha Bay
Sooo on this day we were supposed to go to the coast of Vietnam and stay at a resort called Monkey Island. Unfortunately, as we were halfway there we got news that there was going to be a typhoon in the area and it would be dangerous to go. In the midst of that situation, the bus we were on fully broke down and we got stuck on a highway. This post is already insanely long so I’m gonna skip storytime.
To give you an idea about Monkey Island, the trip that could have been: this is an all-inclusive resort on the beach in Lan Ha Bay. According to the original itinerary, we were supposed to go boating, see monkeys and chill on the beach. Amazing.
That night our hotel was full so we stayed in the O’Gallery Classy Hotel. Don’t @ me on the hotel name, idk either. They also had great customer service and it was only slightly less good than our original hotel.
Day 9: Hanoi Again
It was Forrest Gump level rain so we got 90 minute massages for $26 dollars (!!!) in the afternoon. By this point I’ve hit my pho limit, and we had dinner at French restaurant called La Badiane. This was some fine dining gastronomy sh*t and was seriously amazing.
Day 10: Fly Home
Leave for the 36 hour journey home. Rough end to an overall amazing trip.
Images: Will Truettner / Unsplash; Sami Fishbein
Planning sucks, and bachelorette parties are a ton of work. So we’re taking all the guesswork out of planning a bachelorette party by breaking down top bachelorette destinations. Our guides will tell you where to stay, eat, party, how to get around, and give you a sample itinerary that you can follow. You’re welcome.
Miami is one of the biggest bachelorette destinations in the country, and for obvious reasons—it’s packed with countless hotels, bars, restaurants, pools, and clubs prime for partying. And then there’s South Beach, where you can mingle with bronzed hard bodies in skimpy swimwear, or simply live your best life sporting matching bride squad outfits for Insta opps before hitting the frozen daiquiri joints across the street. Magic City is the ultimate mix of high-low with different tiers of accommodations and day (and night) life options. So, by all means, ball out if you’ve got that kind of cash, or pregame your big day with your besties on a moderate budget. Your call. Luckily we’ve included options for both, as well as a flexible itinerary that caters to all kinds of brides and her
minions besties. Here is your official Betches Bachelorette Guide to Miami.
How To Get There
Another reason to go with Miami for the bach? It’s cheap to get to and close, especially if you’re traveling from the East Coast, South, or Midwest. Expect to be up in the air for about three hours if you’re flying out of New York, and obviously use that time to get a head start on the weekend debauchery with in-flight nips. The NYC airports also churn out over 28 flights per day, so you can go super early to take advantage of a bottomless brunch when you deplane, or go late Thursday to squeeze another night in. Flights from the South are typically shorter (around 1.5 hours to 2.5) and airfare is usually in the $200-300 range, although you can find some steals in the $150-200 range. The Miami International Airport is one of the largest in the country, which is ideal for your cause, since anyone in bad shape on the last day (read: they slept through their flight home) can easily hop on another direct. After soaking up the booze with a hangover-curing cubano at Versailles Cuban Bakery, in terminal D of course. Even West Coasters don’t have it that bad on a 5-hour flight. I mean, it’s not 6+ like some desirable destinations.
How To Get Around
Even if you think walking from point A to point B sounds like a smart idea in Miami, esp. around South Beach, let us warn you by saying good luck not dying of heat exhaustion. Temps can be crazy high during the day (and still hot at night), so if you’re slamming drinks by the pool and then trying to make moves, you’re probably going to faint. Hence why Ubers and Lyfts are strongly advised. And who wants to ruin their makeup? Not us. Boats are another key mode of transportation here, so make your
hottest most sociable friend take one for the team and secure a few men with yachts (or at least a small schooner with a working engine) to act as your personal chauffeurs for the weekend.
Where To Stay
The best thing about choosing your bach pad in Miami is that there is ZERO shortage of hotels here. Seriously, like a million with more popping up every day. And because of the fierce competition, you can usually get reasonable deals, especially on packages for bachelorettes or large groups, with 3rd or 4th night free offerings. Our advice is to do your research and book early, to score as many benefits as possible.
The Confidante Miami Beach: If you’re looking for a beachfront hotel with endless photo opps, make a res at The Confidante. You probably recognize the hotel’s iconic beach set up with their multi-colored striped lounges and umbrellas. Elevate your experience by renting a poolside cabana where you can get drinks & food brought right to your chair. There are two pools, one of for families and one for adults so feel free to get rowdy. Prices are extremely reasonable and once your friends see pics of the hotel, they’ll immediately be on board.
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The Miami Beach Edition: Chances are if you’re staying at The Edition, you’re not the only girl group that is, which means more new friends. Much like other Edition locations, its got all the bells and whistles: well-appointed decor, roomy suites, killer amenities (oh hi, Le Labo products and BEATS Bluetooth speakers), and award-winning restaurants and bars. It’s basically bachelorette heaven, because you never have to leave.
What sets their Miami outpost apart from the rest however, is the Basement, featuring a 2,000-square-foot nightclub, rainbow ice rink, and neon-lit, 4-lane bowling alley with balls and shoes designed by famous artists. Verrrrry Studio 54, #NBD. And those restaurants we spoke of? Celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten created the menu at Matador Room and Market at Edition, even the bar snacks in the Basement Bowl Lounge are JG approved. They also throw a party just for the ladies every Wednesday called “Femme Fatale” with complementary slushies and ice skating. You also can’t forget about the special bottle pricing for bachelorette parties every night of the week. Can’t go wrong at The Edition.
Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, Surfside: If you and your mains are a classy bunch, or simply looking to bougie it up on your last fling before the ring, look no further than Four Seasons Surfside. Miami legend: The Surf Club opened its doors on New Year’s Eve in 1930 and has a fresh new look and feel, thanks to the addition of 101 tower rooms, cabana studios, and residences. So it’s intimate, yet spacious, and 100% our aesthetic. And speaking of cabanas, they restored their original ones that Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, and Winston Churchill used to party in, back in the day. We’re talking art deco luxe quarters with private bathrooms and showers, because why trek back to your room to rinse off when you can take care of business in the ‘BANA?!
There’s also Le Sirenuse Miami, Mare by Le Sirenuse, and Thomas Keller’s The Surf Club Restaurant for celebratory meals, and no shortage of champagne. Between The Champagne Bar and the rolling champagne trolley at TSCR, your bubbly supply will never run dry. And what’s a girls’ getaway without a next-level spa outing to pamper the bride + co? They have that covered, too. Susanne Kaufmann facials, Biologique Recherche body treatments, and every kind of massage are par for the course in this wellness retreat, which you clearly need during an overly indulgent few days away. The hammam and steam rooms double as a sweat lodge for much-needed detoxing—just sayin’.
Faena Miami Beach: What’s not to love about this over-the-top gem? It’s bachelorette GOALS due to the Damien Hirst’s “Gone but not Forgotten” gilded woolly mammoth skeleton that’s #1 for photos, and don’t even get us started on the oceanfront suites. Sprawling balconies with sick views and and beds so dreamy you could literally spend your entire vacay there only scratch the surface of why this place slays so hard. It also doesn’t hurt that everyone sauntering through the muraled hallways and palm tree lined paths is supermodel stunning, so just a little heads up to pack the quality content outfits.
Then there’s the red and white striped umbrella dotted beach, grand pool, and three restaurants to consider: Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann, Pao by Paul Qui, and the tropical Veranda. Definitely don’t leave without experiencing their Samsara Cabaret, either. A sultry theatrical performance that blends aerialist choreography, acrobatics, and insane talent—it’s exactly what a gaggle of girls looking for a memorable time should witness.
Where To Eat
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MILA Rooftop: Located right in the heart of South Beach, MILA’s rooftop offers the exact vibe you’re looking for to celebrate a bachelorette. If you’re going to splurge on one dining experience, let it be here. They offer an upscale “MediterrAsian” menu and the drinks are strong and tasty.
Gianni’s at The Villa: A trip to the Versace Mansion when in Miami bacheloretting is mandatory for the group photos in front of the Million Mosaic Pool alone. Wear your best loud and proud Versace-inspired lewks and party like it’s the ’90s and you’re Naomi, Christy, and Cindy. Pro Tip: Order the 24K gold margarita, homemade truffle gnocchi, and ask to tour Donatella’s room post-dinner. You don’t want to miss it, trust us.
Kyu: Asian fusion, Miami style. Most of the food is either grilled or raw with a healthy dose of veggies, but it’s all seriously yummy. And it’s fun. Fun always wins in our book. Make a res one of your first nights in town, when you’re still trying to keep the late-night binge (and carbs) in check.
Le Sirenuse Miami: Couldn’t decide between Positano or Miami for your bachelorette party? Why choose when the famed Amalfi Coast mainstay now has a glamorous 2nd home in Magic City? The glitzy Champagne Bar is where you begin (dressed to the nines, duh), followed by a full-on Mediterranean feast of all the seafood and pasta.
Swan & Bar Bevy: You’ve probably seen the très pretty in pink Swan gracing your Instagram feed ever since it opened last year, and it’s still a solid choice for cocktails and nibbles, with a side of photoshoots. Since it’s nestled in the heart of Miami’s trendy Design District, we suggest swinging by for drinks at the gorg, rose-hued, flower-bedecked bar or sitting al fresco in the twinkling garden before finding some street art to snap the group in composed squatted arrangements.
Los Fuegos: The vibe at Francis Mallmann’s Los Feugos is sexy AF. Think shell-encrusted columns and trees entwined with lights outside, and cushy couches draped in leopard inside. Brace yourselves for an epic lunch or GNO, the Argentine way. Their whole asado experience is not to be missed, because everything tastes better cooked over an open flame (after you’ve had a few), especially Mallmann’s crazy addictive empanadas. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be licking your plate clean by the end of the night trying to order more and posing with the animal statues scattered about.
Mr. Chow: You know it, you love it, you are most definitely gonna crave it when you’re wasted after day drinking. Mr. Chow’s private dining room is key for noshing family style, when you just want to to dig into heaping piles of noodles, platters of plump little dumplings, and their signature ma mignon and Beijing duck, behind closed doors. We’re hangry, all right?!
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Zuma Miami: Celebrate the bride with your tribe at this waterfront hot spot where rubbing elbows with celebs is a given. Their VIP room just got a facelift so your crew can dine like boss bitches with your own closed-off terrace, custom menus, and Instagram-worthy views of the Miami River. That waterway definitely comes in handy when you need to pull up like the true QUEENS you are, via boat. The restaurant will also cater a full-blown dinner with drinks dockside—or out at sea—but try not to fall overboard after one too many shots, k?
Where To Party
Nikki Beach Miami: The first Nikki Beach to ever open—yes, before St. Tropez and St. Barths—is alive and well and the place to be on Amazing Sundays. There are boho-chic teepees everywhere, an intoxicating beachy scent wafting throughout the grounds, and a ton of people dancing to “happy music” by world-class DJs. Add crazy delish sushi boats and ice buckets overflowing with rosé to the list of perks and you’ll understand why wanting to move into your personal daybed is a serious consideration.
W South Beach: The W believes in the three B’s, and so do we: beach, babes, and bikinis. With newly renovated cabanas, private bungalows with outdoor showers, and the adults-only miniWET pool, you could spend an entire day here and never get bored. You could also pass out and have to be woken up around 4pm to go home. Should you be a real trooper and ready to keep going, there’s WALL, their ultra-lounge fit for a night of dancing and trying to balance in heels.
Bagatelle Miami Beach: When in hot-as-hell Miami it’s important to stay hydrated, and brides-to-be can indulge in oversized goblets of mixed drinks, or magnums of champagne at Bagatelle because #YOLO. No ask is too small, either. They’ll create personalized bachelorette menus with logos for their famed party brunches, and on Wednesdays you can take advantage of their weekly “Bacchanal” for a drunken sh*tshow that also happens to be BYOB-friendly. No corkage fee and half off their entire wine and champagne list? We’re there.
The Rooftop at 1 Hotel South Beach: You have to be over 21 to be allowed up to this 18-story-high paradise, so try not to lose your license (or your bag) during the weekend. Their “Sip.Swim” Sunday soirée is open to hotel guests and locals alike from noon until 6pm, and the scene is supreme for toasting the bride and flirting with hotties pre-wedding
E11EVEN Miami: When you want a mega lounge and a 24/7 strip club in one, E11EVEN has your bridal back. Known for attracting top-notch talent, celeb performers, and hot girls that can do contortionist moves (take note for your wedding night), it’s the premiere after-party locale. So much so, that they offer an “It’s The After Party” package, that includes VIP table service and congrats messages streaming on the club’s LED screens. You can even be that chick in the club and sneak up to the DJ booth to request your songs because it’s YOUR night.
STORY and LIV: These OG Miami clubs have been around forevs, and therefore have bachelorette shenanigans locked and loaded. Get escorted to your table, have bottles with fireworks come out on the reg, dance on banquettes, and hope you don’t expose yourself…you know, stuff that would make mom and dad proud. Just be sure to check their event cals to see which big-deal DJs are going to be on the tables while you’re in town. You don’t want to miss Calvin Harris, Tiësto, Diplo, or Steve Aoki, now do you??
Friday, Day 1
Pro Tip: Don’t sleep Thursday night, so you can board the earliest possible flight Friday am
- Drop your bags at the hotel lobby desk since it’s probably too early to check in, do a quick change into the swimsuit you obvi packed in your carry-on, and head to the pool like a girl on a mission with your comically large cups full of booze.
- Post up in your cabana (and order rounds of tequila shots like a pro), then relax for a few hours before throwing on swim cover-ups and make your way to lunch.
- Lunch outside at Los Fuegos, The Edition, or Swan/Bar Bevy, and try to remember to drink some water in addition to carb loading so you actually make it through the rest of the night.
- Return to the pool for more debauchery and a nap.
- Wake up, get your glam on, blast some single lady anthems with the bride, and head to dinner at Gianni’s or Le Sirenuse.
- Friday night is your night to go HARD, so drink some more water and roll into the club at E11EVEN or STORY.
Saturday, Day 2
Pro Tip: Make sure you keep charcoal pills, Pedialyte, and coconut water next to your bed to consume the second your eyes open, and if you’re really a great bridesmaid, you’ll book IV drips to cure the crew’s massive hangovers at REVIV
- Brunch at Bagatelle, where you won’t feel the slightest bit guilty about ordering a hair of the dog, because everyone is about to get LIT.
- If you plan on doing something other than get sloshed at the pool the rest of the day, good job being an overachiever. But if you want to do that and something else, book an afternoon catamaran charter on GetYourGuide that includes four hours of fun and a cruise to a sandbar for water activities and more drankkkkks. They also offer a 1-Hour Wynwood Walls and Street Art Tour for groups interested in a little culture to balance out the mayhem.
- Put your ass in bed and NAP!
- Wake up and dial room service for more booze and try to make yourself presentable for the night.
- Do dinner at KYU, Mr. Chow, or The Surf Club.
- If you need a change of pace and want laid-back bars instead of intense clubs, stumble into Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami, Rose Bar at Delano, Racket, Wood Tavern, and Sweet Liberty
Sunday, Day 3
Pro Tip: Hopefully you took it sorta easy Saturday night because Sunday is the best pool party day in Miami. If not, bottoms up!
- Hold a quick group powwow for outfit coordination and required flair, then Uber over to Nikki Beach to start the day.
- Lunch, drink, tan, reminisce and close your tab, you’ve got more places to hit
- Up next: Sip.Swim at 1 Hotel
- Set an alarm to chug at least 3 full cups of water
- You know what time it is—NAP TIME!
- Find something clean to wear and settle in for food coma at Zuma, or try Upland or Michael’s Genuine for pizza/pasta/burgers since you don’t have to be in swimwear the next day
Monday, Day 4
- Book the next flight out if you didn’t depart Sunday night. Good luck and godspeed—we hope you still have some essentials for the plane in your bach survival kit.