If you are traveling through Texas, to Texas, or are a Texan yourself, you should definitely stop in Grapevine or Southlake to grab a bite to eat (in-person or to-go, for those of you who are more comfortable dining at home right now), or for some seriously amazing shopping options. Check out my top picks for two of my favorite Texas towns (which are located side-by-side and are only 10 minutes apart):
Grapevine, as you would expect, has some really amazing wineries, and is known for its wine festival. It is also known for the amazing Gaylord hotel, where you can either experience my favorite event, ICE!, which involves a different, massive ice sculpture to walk through every holiday season, or for more warm-weather fun for your kiddos, Great Wolf Lodge. Their Farmers Market is also located in the middle of the town square across the street from my favorite brunch spot, Main Street Bistro & Bakery.
Favorite Restaurants: (All of the restaurants below, besides Main Street Bistro & Bakery, are conveniently located in the same area with a courtyard connecting all four restaurants, as you can see in the above pic of me and two of my besties as we had my bon voyage dinner at Winewood Grill before we moved to Memphis. So many options to choose from!)
If I could live in any city in Texas for the long-term, it would be Southlake. The city is beautiful, with incredible neighborhoods and a fantastic school system, while also being a hop, skip and a jump from either Fort Worth or Dallas. It also helps that it is the home of one of my favorite shopping centers, Southlake Town Square.
If you have a recent high school (or college) graduate to buy a gift for, below are some ideas (the majority of which I received as gifts for high school graduation, aside from the always-loved cash and gift cards, that helped me throughout my college experience that I still have and use to this day):
West Texas will forever be one of my favorite places on earth, especially my beloved Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is the home of my alma mater, Texas Tech University, and is the backdrop of the three years that brought me lifelong friends, cherished memories, and a fantastic education. I will try not to go on and on about Lubbock and my time there, but it is such a gem of a place that you absolutely need to visit, regardless of if you’re attending a Texas Tech event or not. With that being said, you most likely will be visiting campus at some point if you do go to Lubbock, since it is a college town (it is also the home of Lubbock Christian University and South Plains College in nearby Levelland), so I hope you enjoy its beauty if you do.
Buckle up tight, folks. I hope you’re ready to see some vintage Carly photos and get a glimpse of my favorite things to do in the Hub city:
Visiting Texas Tech Campus (Oh how I love & miss you): If you are curious about becoming or are planning on being a student at Tech, please, PLEASE feel free to message me! I was involved in a lot of student organizations that are near and dear to my heart, including being a recruiter for potential students, so this is a subject I’m very passionate about. You’ll see some of my favorite campus traditions below, but here is a list to learn even more about Texas Tech’s traditions and history.
Sporting Events: We love us some sports in the LBK. If you have the opportunity to attend a game at Jones AT&T Stadium or the United Supermarkets Arena, GO (and then drop me a message about how amazing your first tortilla toss experience is).
The Weather: Lubbock is famous for its dust storms and wild weather in general. When somebody tells you to be prepared for the temperature to fluctuating drastically four times in a day, they ain’t lying to you, I promise. You can see some of my own dust storm experiences below, but if you don’t believe me, check out this Washington Post article.
I have been to California three times now and I fall a little more in love each time, particularly with San Francisco. Having traveled to San Francisco for both work and for pleasure, I can say that both experiences were a ton of fun, so make time to see as much of the city as you possibly can, no matter the circumstances. And, if I could live anywhere in the U.S., Monterrey now sits pretty high up on my list after our trip there in May to visit Pebble Beach during the U.S. Open (our 50th Birthday surprise to my Dad!). Below is a look at some of my favorite memories and locations in each area:
Downtown San Francisco:
I love walking this city. The views are stunning, the hills give you the best workout of your life, and there’s an endless supply of delicious restaurants to stop in whenever you are exhausted from said hills (but hey, no calorie guilt!). On my first trip to SF, I was attending the week-long Salesforce Dreamforce conference (worth a Google if you don’t know what either of those two things are lol), for work, and man, let me tell you, what an introduction to the city! Our hotel was directly across from the iconic Nordstrom at the Hilton in Union Square (swoon, y’all), and other incredible shops, so I was in absolute heaven. While staying with my family last summer, we stayed closer to Fisherman’s Wharf, which was an equally amazing time.
Some of my favorite restaurants and shops that we’ve been to so far:
Alcatraz: I can’t recommend enough. Seriously. Learned an incredible amount of information and saw some stunning views of the city as well.
Monterrey Bay Aquarium: We lived our best Finding Dory life. The aquarium is perfect for anyone at any age, although there are a lot of kid activities. We loved it so much!
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Such an underrated park in my opinion. We walked through the park on our way down to Monterrey from San Fran and the surroundings were breathtaking.
Pebble Beach: Ah, the true reason for our trip: the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. My dad played this course religiously throughout our childhood, and it is genuinely his favorite course in the world. My mom equally loves the resort as well, (her favorite spa EVER). Experiencing the course I have heard about my entire life during a Major with my dad for his birthday is a memory I’ll cherish forever. Also, we saw Tiger freaking Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler, and so many more incredible players up close and personal. The course itself is stunning no matter the circumstances, and if you are also passionate about golf, is worth every penny to either play or visit.
Let me know your favorite California spots in the comments below! I’ve also briefly visited Orange, Fullerton and San Diego on a separate work trip, but would love to visit that area much more.
Iceland is the most beautiful place I have ever been to and will ever go to. In September of 2018, I had a jam-packed week of adventures with two incredible friends, Allyson and Wendy. We honestly barely scratched the surface of this gorgeous country, but what we experienced was nothing short of amazing. As only my second international trip, experiencing Iceland meant so much to me, and I can’t wait to go back and bring Tyler and other family members and friends. With that being said, I cannot shower enough praise on Allyson for planning this trip. My only request was seeing the puffins, and she brought us that and so much more.
Now settle in, get ready to scroll, and I hope you enjoy a glimpse at the beauty that is Iceland:
Our first stop after getting off the plane and procuring our rental car was the iconic Blue Lagoon (a note on the rental car situation: having a rental car was essential for us and definitely the right move, but also be aware that the security deposit for these things is quite substantial). We had pre-purchased our Blue Lagoon Premium Package tickets ahead of time, which was so worth it, and enjoyed a wonderful meal in the Cafe before soaking in the hot springs with their signature face masks to unwind and relax. Although it is one of the busiest and most popular attractions in Iceland, it is beyond worth experiencing.
***Side note: You absolutely, 300% need to get a wi-fi hotspot. Ours worked without fail on our entire trip and was easily picked up and dropped off at the airport.
After leaving Blue Lagoon, we checked into our Airbnb. I highly, highly recommend this Airbnb. Beautiful, comfortable, fantastic location, and a great host. After dropping off our stuff, we ran to Bonus to pick up some groceries (if you do one thing while visiting Iceland, make sure to stock up at the grocery store and bring your own lunch and snacks with you. Between our sandwiches and the Rx bars that Allyson brought with her, we saved so much money doing this in a famously expensive country). After unpacking our groceries, we ran over to Rossopomodoro for a celebratory Italian dinner. (Another side note: alcohol is extremely expensive in Iceland, which we knew, but found out the hard way when we wanted a glass of wine with our pasta. It came out to about $23 for a glass, so DEFINITELY grab your alcohol at the Keflavik Airport at duty-free and bring it with you if you want to drink).
On Day 2, we were up bright and early to do “The Golden Circle,” the iconic ring of destinations in the Southern part of the Island. First up was the amazing Thingvellir National Park. We learned so much about Icelandic history at their visitor center and I adored their gift shop. (Also, if I could start every day with an Icelandic skyr, I would. I haven’t been able to find this brand in the states and none of the other versions compare. Such wonderful, yogurty goodness).
The below geysir is the original geothermal phenomenon that caused the word to be created. Also, please check out the warning signs below that were at the main visitor center and gift shop. Comedic gold.
You can walk around not only the perimeter of the crater, but can also go down to the crater floor. The third photo is where “Adventure Carly” was born as I trekked down the path. Also, Bjork held a concert on a temporary platform floating on the lake as fans watched from the crater walls, so that is wild.
We did not go to a ton of restaurants to help save some cash, but we loved Hofnin, Braud & Co., and Eldsmidjan Pizza. Hofnin was by far the best meal we had, every one of our plates was delicious (my fish dish pictured below), and it has an incredible view of the water.
There are many naturally occurring hot springs that form little hot tubs, or “hot pots,” throughout Iceland. We visited the Landbrotalaug Hot Pot, which was so much fun. Nothing like walking through an Icelandic field in your swimsuit!
Budakirkja – The Black Church at Budir, was honestly a bit overwhelming for me, it was that beautiful. Starkly looking over the turbulent sea below, this church is a photographer’s dream. We even saw a fashion photo shoot as we were leaving. So. amazing.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula – The lava field walking path between Arnarstapi and Hellnar was one of the most quiet and peaceful moments of the trip. We all took some time to walk alone in the serenity and just enjoy the beauty. We also had some amazing fish & chips in Arnarstapi afterwards while overlooking the water.
The Reynisfjara Blacksand Beach at Vik is so crazy cool. However, make sure and keep a very safe distance from the water, as there are warning signs everywhere to avoid the treacherous waves.
The Skogafoss Waterfall is so powerful it’s scary (hence my hat blowing off below). By this point on our trip, we had kind of gotten into an “oh, another waterfall, cool…,” mentality, but that quickly changed when we got up close and personal with this behemoth.
Then came time for us to hop on the ferry and visit the Westman Islands to see us some puffins! First of all, let me just say, that water was GNARLY. I am not prone to sea sickness, but you definitely need some dramamine on this voyage. We were NOT well. Also, you 100% need to go on a tour with Eyja Tours. Our tour guide, Ebbi, is amazing and a life-long native of the island. We learned so much about spranga and the 1973 volcanic eruption, and of course about the amazing puffin nests that the island is famous for. We also got to check out the Vestmannaeyar Golf Course, which I dream of taking my dad, Tyler and Davis to some day.
I MET A PUFFIN. And we also stood on top of one of the windiest places in Europe. It was amazing. We also had no idea that we were on the island the night that the puffin babies jump from their nests and land into the town. No shade of a lie, it’s crazy. If you want to learn more, you definitely need to check out the Eyja Tours Instagram account (@eyjatours).
After the best tour I have ever been on, we stopped for a yummy lunch at Gott and went for a beer at The Brothers Brewery. Still the best fruit sour I’ve ever had!
After getting back to the mainland, we went and checked out the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (which you may recognize from the “I’ll Show You,” Justin Bieber music video).
Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Our final stop was Kirkjufellfoss, one of the most photographed locations in Iceland, and for good reason. Absolutely STUNNING at sunset.
With that, our time in Iceland came to a close. At the Keflavik Airport, we stopped for drinks at Loksins Bar and grabbed a bite to eat at Nord before heading back home.
Have you been to Iceland? If so, what were your favorite parts of your trip?
A few years ago, we spent a wonderful, long July 4th weekend in Las Vegas. Surprisingly enough, it was a super relaxing trip, proving that Vegas doesn’t always have to be a go-go-go destination. (*Side note: If that’s what you want out of your Vegas trip, then live your best life, and our next trip will definitely be full of more of that fun with hopefully a few friends in tow). Below is a look at where we stayed, what we did, and what we ate:
The Wynn: We stayed at the beautiful Wynn the first night, stopping in at Charlie’s Bar + Grill for a late dinner getting off the plane before playing a few slots and walking around, and it was such a great experience! We only stayed through the afternoon of the next day, so I’m excited to spend more time there in the future, but brunch at The Buffet was just as iconic and yummy as you would expect.
Caesar’s Palace: We spent the rest of our time in Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, which was just plain awesome. We had a full spa day at the Qua Baths & Spa. The 50 Minute Classic Couple’s Massage and my Signature Facial were absolutely to die for and the facilities there are stunning.
We also spent a full day at the massive pool complex, renting two lounge chairs at the Venus Pool + Lounge, which I would highly suggest doing if you want a designated space. We drank ridiculously expensive piñana coladas all day long and relaxed in the Nevada sun.
We also spent a lot of time wandering around and exploring the Strip since it was our first time to Sin City, which was a ton of fun. You’ve never experienced people watching like Vegas people watching. I got an amazing blowout at the Drybar @ The Cosmo, we walked and shopped through The Venetian and Paris, and had a very memorable and delicious lunch at Wahlburgers during an exciting World Cup match.
Have you ever been to Vegas? And what did you love about the city? Let me know in the comments below!
I purchased this on sale a few weeks ago for about $5 (my best Amazon tip is to try and save things in your Wish List so you can be alerted when there is a price fluctuation, as they are constantly changing their prices), and I love it! I’m allergic to so many different types of metals and this one has given me no problems thus far.
This was Tyler’s Christmas gift two years ago and we have absolutely loved it! This was a recommendation from my friend Matt, who always has this version, and he is the one person you always must trust on a technical purchase of any kind!
Another purchase for hiking in Iceland, this backpack is so nice and protected my camera so well (another Alyson Haley recommendation). My only complaint is that it doesn’t have a compartment to hold a water bottle on the side.
Honestly, these are my #1 favorite Amazon purchase of all-time. I had no idea they existed until I saw someone recommended them on Instagram and they have brought all of my sterling silver jewelry back to life! I hadn’t been able to wear one James Avery bracelet in particular for years because the oxidization on it was so bad, but now it looks brand new!
Fredericksburg, Texas, is my favorite weekend getaway location, especially with my favorite ladies. We’ve made the trip twice in the past couple of years, and it just gets better and better every time! Below is a look at the favorite places we have been to so far in this lovely little Hill Country wine town:
Chicago, Illinois, is my favorite big city in the U.S. After spending 3 days in the city in May of last year with my amazing best friend, Amanda, this city has forever found a place inside my heart. Below is a look at where we stayed, what we ate, and what we experienced:
Architectural River Cruise: The cruise is a DREAM and is a must for your trip to Chicago. You learn so much about the city in such a short amount of time and experience spectacular view after spectacular view.
After walking past the Centennial Fountain, we head to the Navy Pier, then hop a ride to Wrigley Field and catch the last few innings of the game at the Brickhouse Tavern. From Wrigley, we head to Eataly, which was easily one of the best meal experiences I have ever had. The Aperol Spritzes were divine, the pasta beyond compare, and the dessert bar was the perfect icing on the cake. Following dinner, we headed to the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Al Capone’s old haunt, which was so neat, but packed to the brim on a Saturday night (make sure you have cash!).
Day 2: We’re up early and ready to head to the Art Institute of Chicago as soon as it opens! We spent hours marveling at the incredible collection. It was, in my opinion, the best museum I have ever been to! (Sorry for the art spam, but I’m obviously obsessed!).
After the art institute, we headed to Giordano’s for a late lunch, then did some shopping on Michigan Avenue, with Stan’s Donuts & Coffee in hand. Before heading to the museum, we had checked out of The Drake and into the Palmer House hotel, so we went and dropped off our shopping bags, freshened up, then headed out for a night on the town. We wandered around the lobby to see all of the amazing history of the hotel, then Ubered to the J. Parker rooftop bar for appetizers and drinks.
Day 3: Our final day in the city! We head to open up the Field Museum, which was so, so cool and another amazing learning experience. We were lucky enough to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year traveling exhibit from London’s Natural History Museum, which was 100% worth it and one of the best museum exhibits I have ever seen. If you ever have the chance to see this exhibit in any museum, we highly recommend!
We head to Cindy’s Rooftop after the Field Museum, where we saw some of the best views of the city while sipping our cocktails. We then wandered down to take our obligatory photos at The Bean, then walked down to the stunning Buckingham Fountain. Keeping up with the theme of getting our steps in, we walked back within the city center and headed to get some much deserved coffee and sweets at Goddess and the Baker before grabbing our bags and heading to the airport.
We also received these recommendations from some local friends that we made on what to do the next time we were in town:
During our honeymoon in 2018, we spent a very quick 24 hours in Paris. While there was so much we enjoyed, there is a lot that we would like to do-over, and hope to visit the city again with more time and less pressure. Below is a look at what we were able to do, as well as what we would like to do in the future:
We left St. Pancras International Station at 10:30 a.m. on the Eurostar headed to Paris! The journey is a little over two hours, extremely enjoyable and easy. We left all of our luggage besides our carry-ons at the Excess Baggage Company for 40 pounds to avoid lugging them all over Paris, which was definitely the way to go.
After reaching the city, we checked in to the Hotel Louvre Saint-Honore, which is within walking distance to the Musee du Louvre. After quickly dropping off our bags, we spent the rest of the day exploring the Louvre until it closed. We barely scratched the surface, but every recommendation you’ve read to avoid getting up close to the Mona Lisa are true.
The next morning, we were up brightly and early to head to a place I had dreamed about my entire life: the Louis Vuitton flagship store on the Champs Elysses. The experience in the this two-story, stunning store was better than I could have ever imagined. A review on the bag and wallet that I purchased will be coming soon, but I will cherish both pieces for the rest of my life.
After our shopping trip, we walked over to lunch at Laduree. The menu was fantastic, on top of the macaroon sampler that we partook in. The restaurant is beautiful and should definitely be one of your stops.
After lunch, we made the walk over the Seine to the Tower Eiffel. Since the tower was under construction, we just snapped a few pics and were on our way. After a quick Uber ride back to our hotel, we picked up our bags and headed back to the station to head to London.