Northeast Trip: A Day in Philadelphia


If you’ve been following my Northeast Trip posts, you would have caught on to the common “GO GO GO” theme. Our day in Philly was no exception…

For whatever reason, we all thought we could just take “the train” down to the city of Philadelphia. Well that turned out to be much more expensive and not quite as easy as previously thought. After some research, we found the BOLT bus which would pick us up in NYC and take us the whole way to Philadelphia, dropping us off somewhat west of downtown. While the BOLT bus didn’t fully deliver on the free WiFi, it did deliver on an air conditioned and comfortable ride [besides the fact that it was almost 2 hours late picking us up later that night because of a massive accident and weather conditions on the Expressway (aka the freeway to us Californians)].

Anyway, enough about the horrible crazy transportation situation we found ourselves in…

Reading Terminal

After a quick subway ride from the bus stop to the city, we found our way to the Reading Terminal. This alone, is why my husband wants to go back to Philadelphia one day. Of course, hopefully during the Dutch festival again as well!

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Reading Terminal is similar to the Chelsea Market we visited in NYC, but its 95% counter service restaurants and a certified farmer’s market. And luckily enough, we managed to go during the 24th Annual Pennsylvania Dutch Festival. I’m not sure that we could ever go back outside of this festival as many of our favorites were part of it, especially Beiler’s Doughnuts where my husband had “the best donut EVER.” The other highlights for us were the sandwiches at Tommy Dinic’s and Hope’s Cookies.


Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell

After stuffing ourselves full, we walked down to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Because of our extremely limited time we really didn’t stay anywhere long but just “looked.” And please notice how crazy the weather is… all these photos are shown in chronological order, so note the beautiful blue sky to the massive rain and thunder storm. 🙂

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Standing on the steps of the Portrait Gallery, fresh from the rainstorm.


Of course I insisted to stop by the Printing Office to see some old school printmaking… the building used to belong to Benjamin Franklin.

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Geno’s vs Pats

And of course, we had to take the bus down to Geno’s and Pat’s to decide for ourselves which of the two offered up the better Philly cheesesteak. We ordered 4 sandwiches, 2 from each restaurant to compare provolone and cheese whiz as well as the sandwich itself.

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The winner: Pat’s “wit whiz.”

More Philly Sites and Sights

We had just a few extra minutes (literally fifteen minutes at most) so we ran by the state building as well as the LOVE sign.

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And to end all of these Northeast trip posts, my mom did all this touristing with a boot!


Thanks for following along my adventures along the east coast… it finally feels back to normal round here, just in time for more wedding festivities!

Northeast Trip: New York City in 2 1/2 Days, Part 2


After seeing just how big this New York recap had become I just had to break it into 2 parts!!

For Part 1, click here.

Chelsea Market

The next day, we took full advantage of the NY subway system… for only $2.50 each trip, we sure got around the majority of Manhattan! Starting out at Chelsea Market, where the Food Network is based and the place Andy and my mom were most looking forward to, we had fun stopping in all the random shops and eateries. Feasting on macrons, donuts, a faux-Cronut, salami, coffee, and more! It was a really neat place, the architecture alone was fun to explore. It felt like we were part of a piece of industrial style art the whole time.


I just loved all the custom chalk work in so many of the shops!

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I just adored this 3D map of the market, made in a variety of materials.


Katz’s Delicatessen

After eating this and that, we then took the subway over to Katz’ Deli in Midtown to have our official lunch. It was some what out of the way, so unless you would truly appreciate pastrami at its finest and for $16 a sandwich, I’d pass. But for us foodies, we just had to go! It was quite the ordeal though, they have a pretty unique system of ordering and you don’t pay until you are walking out the door.

You may recognize this famous deli as the location for scenes in When Harry Met Sally to Enchanted.

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9/11 Memorial

From there we took the subway further south to the World Trade Center… last time we were there, Ground Zero was just a big hole in the ground, but in the last 8 years they’ve built a memorial, museum, and still under construction new World Trade Center buildings.

When you arrive, you have to check in to the Visitor’s Center to get a [free] admission pass. This sets an appointed time for you to actually get in to the memorial.

The memorial, opened in 2011, is pretty large with two large waterfalls that stand where the original WTC buildings were. The massive size of the waterfalls in the midst of the city are pretty moving espcially as they each drop into a center void… there are also hundreds of trees that really encourage you to stay and reflect.

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Here, Andy and I are standing in front of the Survivor Tree. The pear tree was built in the 7-s and although it was damaged, it survived the terrorist attacks and after it was nursed back to health it was brought back to the site in 2010.


Washington Square Park and the “Friends” Building

Here is where my Friends was based in New York City fan girl side erupted… we stopped by Washington Square Park—just because its shown sometimes during the show—and then we walked through Greenwich Village—just because that’s where Rachel and Monica’s apartment was based on. And it was seriously worth it. Right, family??

Luckily, we had planned to eat in Greenwich Village so it really wasn’t that far out of the way (until we decided to eat at the same restaurant but at its Times Square location).

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Either way, I can now say I have been to the corner of Bedford and Grove.

Dinner at Jekyll and Hyde, Times Square

We ended our night and our trip in NYC at Jekyll and Hyde, a restaurant recommended by a friend. The Greenwich location was totally dead when we went (it was fairly early at 5 pm)—so that’s why we decided to go to Times Square. Plus my parents had theater tickets to Once.

It was quite the theatrical experience though, the restaurant was huge and there was so much to see. Just one example: the bathroom had a hidden door—no really, it was so hidden that the few times we were by it, people just stared at the wall trying to figure out how that was indeed the bathroom entrance. There was constant live entertainment as well and all throughout the multi storied restaurant—from a Frankenstein like show to the “Rainforest Cafe-like” decorations are coming to life moments.


Whew, that was a long recap. I didn’t leave anything out just for the traveler who comes across this post hoping for some guidance on their own trip! Another tip I would recommend is to get a paper map of the city, I drew all over mine plotting out where to go and that made this visual learner see what to do on which day. Plus, I would get an iPhone. No seriously, I can’t imagine how we would have gotten around without one! We input where we were and where we wanted to go and it gave us all the subways we needed to get to and from. So amazing and so so helpful! Thanks Apple!

A few places I hope to go to next time would be some of the museums and the NY Public Library. Also, to spend a day in Brooklyn!

The end… of this city. Next up, our day trip to Philadelphia!

P.S. Here’s our video of the trip that I shared in the Boston trip, with the NYC portion starting at about 52 seconds.

Northeast Trip: New York City in 2 1/2 Days, Part 1


When I think back to our time in New York City, I instantly feel quite overwhelmed! It was a crazy crazy whirlwind of sightseeing and constant moving.

However, now looking back over the photos, I do get an itch to go back. Not only to do the same things we did, but to try a few new things… or to spend more time in those same places.

I really don’t think I took that many photos while in the city, but that’s more because of that overwhelming feeling of go, go go! I mean I took less than 400… which for me is not very many! But I’ve narrowed them down and wanted to share, along with some tips for you, if you happen to take a spin in the Big Apple sometime soon!

We left Boston semi-early, had lunch in New Hampshire, and then arrived at our hotel in late afternoon. Our hotel wasn’t as close to a subway station as previously thought so each day we were there required a hotel shuttle ride for 20+ minutes then the hour ride on the subway into the city.

Times Square and Rockefeller Center

By the time we made it that first night, we just meandered through Times Square as my parents and sister hadn’t yet been there. We walked through the Square, taking it all in; checked out where the GMA’s are filmed—as my parents were going to the next morning’s taping—circled around Rockefeller Center and then walked back to the restaurant we had planned on eating at, John’s Pizzeria—the same place Andy and I dined at 8 years ago!

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I kept my eye out for Liz Lemon!

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While we were on the Top of the Rock later the next day, my hubby found me the best souvenir ever at the NBC store: a giant mug with the Central Perk logo from the show Friends! Photo here.

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John’s Pizzeria is a sit down eatery… a great way to truly experience a New York pizza pie! Plus its in a totally renovated church, just a really cool atmosphere.


Circle Line Tour

The next day, Andy, my sister and I traveled out to meet my parents—after their spot on the GMA’s with the Bachelorette and her new beau—by the waterfront as we were going to head out on a Circle Line tour. We opted for the longer of the tours, just so we could see Yankee Stadium for my New York loving friend! I would not recommend the longer tour though, as scheduled it’s 2 1/2, and because of a delay with a draw bridge, our tour turned into 3 hours! With such limited time, I wish we would have gone on the 90 minute tour instead.

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However, I would definitely recommend Circle Line in general. As the start to our full days in New York, it really helped seeing New York on the whole, understand where everything is. And with the short amount of time we had, we were at least able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island closer than we would have just from Battery Park.

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By the end of the trip, I decided that the Chrysler Building was my favorite of the city… funnily enough, it turns out that a NY poster we have at home—purchased years ago—features the building. Guess it was subliminal that it became my favorite over the years!



Shake Shack and Central Park

After our tour, we took the subway up to Shake Shack. And O-M-G is that place AMAZING. By far one of my favorite eateries—ever! No seriously, Andy thinks that may be the best burger he’s ever had! Thankfully it’s coming to Vegas just next year!! We went to the location just off Central Park west, so after getting our food we took it into the park to enjoy the amazingness.


With the delay on the tour, that took a big chunk of our time out from spending time in Central Park. And that is definitely a place I could have spent a whole day in! It’s now become my favorite place in the city… but I barely have any photos of it as we had to hustle to make our 6:00 reservation to go up in 30 Rockefeller. Just to narrow it down, I wanted to at least see the big fountain that Enchanted was filmed in front of, so we headed there and then just kept going.

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Central Park truly is so much more beautiful than I ever imagined! After the hustle and bustle of the city, it was refreshing to be amidst huge trees, a large lake, and then random centuries old architecture from bridges and archways to fountains and walkways. I really can’t wait to go back just to visit the Park!


Top of the Rock

We made it just in time for our reservation at Top of the Rock though! Just barely! Again, this is another spot I would totally recommend… it’s much cheaper than the Empire State Building and the view allows you to actually see the infamous Empire State Building! I loved being able to see both that tower and the new World Trade Centers in the same view. Plus being able to see Central Park and just how huge it really is was nice too. There are 3 view levels of viewpoints… the topmost being totally out in the open—no glass. It was pretty crowded but they do limit how many people can come up so that made it nice too. Surprisingly, my dad and I spent a whole hour up there taking in the view and of course taking pictures!

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I love how you can see just how big Central Park is from up there… the first lake to the left is the one in the photos above.


One thing I loved about the east coast was the ever changing sky! Just within the hour we were up there, the sky just kept changing! We purposely made our reservation at dusk (6:00)—the photographer’s golden hour—hoping to get daytime and nighttime in one. I would highly recommend making your reservation for 90 minutes before sunset just to guarantee seeing the city during the best hour of the day.


The building to the right and behind the Empire State Building is 1 World Trade Center, the soon to be tallest building in the Untied States at 1,776 feet. The Empire State Building stands at 1,454 feet, while the Rockefeller building we were on top of is only 872 feet.


Thanks Dad for braving the heights with me!


To recap this recap, know where you are going before you set off to go—and plan to spend more time in Central Park just for the sake of how long it takes to walk through even a small portion of it! That truly was my favorite part and I barely got to take any photos from the rush.

Stay tuned for another full day in New York City, posting tomorrow!

P.S. Here’s our video of the trip that I shared in the Boston trip… NYC starts at 52 seconds.

Northeast Trip: A Day and a Half in Boston, Massachusetts


After we left the house in Maine, we drove 4 hours south to Boston, Massachusetts; checked into our hotel; and then made a quick drive into the city for some sight-seeing and dinner at Abbey Lane.

Boston Commons

Just to the north east side of the Boston Common was a fried dough cart, Daddy’s Fried Dough, that we saw Duff from Charm City Cakes tour. Fried goodies covered in sauce is pretty much my favorite thing ever so we had to stop!



But then we walked more through the park… looking back, it reminds me of Central Park quite a bit. Sprawling lawns with old architecture found throughout.



New favorite photo of me and the mister! 🙂



Boston City Sights and Sites

We had some more time to kill before our dinner reservation at Abbey Lane so we walked from the Boston Common to the area between the Back Bay and the Theater District… my dad and I became quite obsessed with the sunset rays coming through the pillars of Trinity Church…





Following the Freedom Trail

The next day we drove to the subway station and took the subway into Boston. We took the subway to the station that they sold trolley tickets (City View Trolley Tours) and then we took the trolley around the city all day. For just $20 (we had a coupon from our hotel), it was totally worth getting around the city and gave our aching feet some rest. It also took us out to the U.S.S. Constitution—which was quite out of the way from the main route of the Freedom Trail. And in case you don’t know what the Freedom Trail is (I totally didn’t and had no idea what it was when people kept recommending it!)…

a 2.5-mile, brick-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites — each one an authentic treasure. Explore museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds. Learn about the brave people who shaped our nation. Discover the rich history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, where every step tells a story.

By the way, it totally did not feel like only 2.5 miles… and we took the trolley for the majority!




Lunch at The Barking Crab

We took the trolley for about half the route, which drove by quite a few sites like the original state house. We hopped off down by the Boston Tea Party ship and walked across the bridge to eat at The Barking Crab.


This photo in no way shows who likes or dislikes the Barking Crab but more shows who likes seafood versus who doesn’t. I would have been a thumbs up if I hadn’t been behind the camera. 🙂

P.S. You can get crab in mass quantity here, like family style to the extreme. They had one platter that was over $200! By accident we all (the pro-seafoodies) ordered the crab cake sliders so there wasn’t much variety to compare food but the sliders were good… And the clam chowder was my favorite ever!


The U.S.S. Constitution

After lunch we walked up to the next trolley stop which took us up to the U.S.S. Constitution. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect!



I have to take these semi-stalker-esque photos of my hubby… and he’ll probably make me delete this after seeing it like in my Maine post… ole’ crabby pants.



More of the Boston City Sights and Sites

After one last trolley ride back down into the heart of the city, we walked around the Fanueil Hall (great tourist gift shops and coffee/ice cream/snacks stop), walked through the Holocaust memorial, stopped in a couple of the pubs that were so enriched with history (one of which was where the Revolution was planned in), and then walked up to the North End to see Paul Revere’s house, waited out the afternoon rain storm in CHURCH and then finally got some pastries in Little Italy.

This memorial is pretty neat… we didn’t know about it until the tour guide pointed it out, but it runs parallel to the 1700’s pubs so its in a pretty central location.

It was designed and built right over the subway grates… the glass is etched with numbers—1,000,000 each column—to represent all those lost during the Holocaust. Quotes and stories are then etched on the inside of the glass… and at night, the steam from the subway along with lights, illuminate the pillars giving it a rather eerie but beautiful look.



If you can’t make it to Pauly’s house, its really not worth the walk out of the way… however, if you’re going to the North End anyway, you know, to gorge yourself on pastries and pasta, then it would be worth it as its just a block or two south from the main street.




This was another spot we knew absolutely nothing about, but after seeing the rather small shop filled to the brim with people…my mom and I had to follow the herd and see what the fuss was about. I just had to order enough to get one of those darling boxes! (Hi, my name is Sam, and I am a tourist)

May I point out that my mom’s box is bigger than mine!! She even got a bag to carry it in… 🙂


What a day that was, getting tired just thinking about it! Now onto New York City!

P.S. Here’s a video of our trip of the cities, from Boston to New York including Philadelphia!

Northeast Trip: Evelyn’s Family Photos in Maine


Watching our family grow is really just the sweetest feeling! Just two years ago my cousin Katie got married and now this year we got to meet their sweet baby girl Evelyn.

While in Maine we got to steal a few mornings for photos with their little growing family… all of these were taken in the “backyard” of the house we were all renting in Northport, Maine.

Gotta love those baby blues and “toothy” grin! 🙂

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Northeast Trip: A Week in Maine


First off, my first reaction to Maine was “look at all the green!” And I looooove green. Second reaction, “boy is this place damp!” Coming from southern California where humidity is practically next to zero, the dampness was a big change. Everything always felt a little wet, like when you’re at the beach.


The main occasion of our whole trip was for a family reunion… the family on my dad’s side gets together every other year, last time being in Colorado.

House Rental

This year we all stayed together in one giant farmhouse built in the 1800s. It had been added on to quite a few times so sometimes finding our bedroom or even the bathroom was an accomplishment! There was so much character though… including a wraparound porch and a huge barn where are all the kids called home. Here’s a link if you’re thinking of heading that way. There are quite a few acres of land to explore as well, so of course we had to take advantage with a family photo shoot or two!



Acadia National Park

Our first day in Maine was spent driving through Acadia National Park… we made plenty of stops to check out the various lakes and hikes. And as you’ll see, I definitely gave up on taming my hair. 🙂





Big Sail Boat

The entire family (minus 1 sadly) spent a couple hours out in midst of the Atlantic on a biiig sail boat. It was great—we had the whole boat to ourselves. And the youngest member of the family even got to drive (steer?) for a bit!

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Lobster, Lobster, Lobster

And finally, how can you go to Maine without a lobster meal, or two, or five. 🙂

This was one of my favorite nights… just after we returned from boating. Don’t let the Chardonnay box fool ya, that thing’s full of lobsta’ (that’s how us locals say it)! And they’re like $6 each! Many thanks to my cousin Tom on boiling those up for us… don’t mind my mom’s dramatics. 🙂

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And if the photos didn’t do it for you, here’s a video with even more fun times included!

There’s much more to come from Boston to New York PLUS a mini family photo shoot from Maine.

Northeast Trip: There and Back Again


You would think a two week trip would be plenty of time for a vacation but you travel like we do, in 13 days we adventured around 4 states including lunch in a 5th! Over these next couple weeks I hope to share with you more in depth details on the trip, not only sharing from my over a thousand photos but also some tips and itineraries if you also happen to attempt this feat (like how to get the most out of 2 days in New York City or just one day in Philadelphia).

Below are just a few Instagrammed photos… I guess I have a tendency to be drawn to blue cloudy sky photos… but I mean, who doesn’t?