A Three Day Weekend on the North Shore

Since visiting Paige in the literal dead of winter, I was dying to explore her new corner of the world in warmer weather. Earlier this summer, we spent a three-day weekend taking in all the best parts of eastern Mass, from Boston’s city lights to Rockport’s coastal charm – and a lot of places in between.

I spent most of Friday driving, arriving in the eastern part of Massachusetts just as the entire state headed toward Cape Cod. When I did arrive in Salem, Paige had an amazing dinner filled with fresh produce from the farmers’ market ready for me, which we enjoyed on her breezy second story porch.

After dinner, we caught the train into Boston for good beer, neon lights and a long walk through the city on a beautiful summer night. We met Tom, one of Paige’s friends from high school who now lives outside Boston as well, at Trillium Brewing Company’s Garden on the Greenway. I sipped on Peach Fated Farmer with Peach Juice, a sweet beer that went perfectly with the view of The Greenway and just a touch of a salty ocean breeze.

Beet at Trillium Garden on the Greenway

Taps at Trillium Garden on the Greenway

GLOW Art Exhibit on the Rose Kennedy Greenway

We wandered through the city, around the harbor and on and off the Freedom Trail before catching the train. We headed back to Paige’s apartment for a good night of sleep before a day on the North Shore.

Because it was 5° last time I visited, I was looking forward to enjoying the wind coming in off the ocean, rather than dreading it. We started the morning in Swampscott, walking along King’s Beach, Red Rock Park and Nahant Beach. The sun was shining, the water was the perfect temperature for dipping our feet in, and we worked up enough an appetite to really, really enjoy our pizza from Volo Craft Pizza.

The restaurant was small but bright, with sun streaming in through the windows and reflecting off the stainless steel tabletops. Everyone behind the counter was incredibly sweet and our food (the House Pizza and a Panino Sandwich) was ready in just a few minutes.

Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Skyline View of Boston from Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Volo Craft Pizza, Swampscott, Massachusetts

north-shore-ma-long-weekend-13-min

We headed back to Salem for a few hours out of the sun before driving up to Rockport. Our first stop was for coffee at Bean & Leaf, which has an amazing view of Rockport Harbor. We popped into a dozen shops before visiting the iconic Motif #1. Among our favorites along Bearskin Neck were Queen of Sorts, Wicked Peacock and Rusty + Ingrid Creative Company.

Bean & Leaf Cafe, Rockport, Massachusetts

Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts

Cottages in Rockport, Massachusetts

Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Massachusetts

Motif #1, Rockport, Massachusetts

Fishing Shack in Rockport, Massachusetts

At this point, all we wanted were fish tacos, which are surprisingly hard to come by in this lobster-obsessed town, so we stopped for a quick dinner in Gloucester.

Sunday morning was gloomy, but that didn’t stop us from walking to Front Street Coffee House and peaking into Oak + Moss. We walked home through The Point to admire the gorgeous murals, all part of the mission of Punto Urban Art Museum to “break down the invisible, but undeniable socio-economic barrier between the Point Neighborhood and the rest of Salem and the North Shore… through stunning, world class art.”

Because of the rain, I left my camera at home during this outing. I’ve been kicking myself since, because this neighborhood’s art, from the full-scale murals to the small reminders that what goes down the storm drains will end up in the ocean, is stunning.

After our morning walk, I started the drive home, Volo leftovers in hand and ready to face the traffic waiting for me along the Mass Turnpike.

We managed to see a lot in just a couple of days, but I also put a big dent in a new book and got a few much needed good nights of sleep, making this the perfect weekend with my sister.

A Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca

It’s hard to forget a place as beautiful, diverse and delicious as Ithaca.

I hadn’t made the drive down Cayuga Lake in a year and after spending four years making that drive after weekends in Rochester and school breaks at home, I really, truly missed it. There’s something special about winding through wine country, passing Taughannock Falls, being able to tune in to 103.7 and finally seeing the Towers through the trees.

Needless to say, I was looking for an excuse to make that drive. This past weekend, I spent six hours in the car for five hours in the 607 and it was completely worth it.

Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca, NY | Taughannock Falls

Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca, NY | Taughannock Falls

Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca, NY | Taughannock Falls

My first stop was Taughannock Falls. I only had time for the Gorge Trail, but the morning’s rain accentuated the green within the gorge and filled the falls. Dreary weather also meant I had the trail almost completely to myself.

Next up was the always delicious Gimme! Coffee, which was packed with people on laptops and chatting out front. I love coffee shops’ sense of community and I think Gimme! is one of the first places I really experienced it. Plus, the coffee is delicious.

Coffee in hand, I walked down Cascadilla Avenue, the cutest, greenest, friendliest path there ever was. How have I not wandered along the creek this way before? My end goal was Collegetown Bagels, of course.

Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca, NY | Gimme! Coffee

One pizza bagel later and I was ready to take on the real reason for spending six hours in the car. The smart, soil-savvy people of GreenTree had invited me back for an afternoon of local farmers and soil selling strategy. If that sounds bizarre to you, it’s okay. This small team of people completely welcomed me as a summer intern my senior year at Ithaca and I learned a ton because of it, about marketing, running a business and dirt.

Rainy Day Trip to Ithaca, NY | GreenTree Farm to Garden Days

My little taste of Ithaca only made me miss the things I didn’t have time for more, so I’m counting down the days until I’m there again. Hopefully, I’ll be joined by some of my favorite Itha-people next time.

Spotted Duck Creamery is a FLX Must Try

My family spent Mother’s Day weekend in Penn Yan, staying with my grandma, walking to Main Street and letting Murphy dip his paws in the lake. It wasn’t the sunniest of Mother’s Days, but it was warmer than it has been most weekends this spring. In our family, this calls for ice cream.

One look at my Instagram feed and you know how much I adore ice cream of all kinds. This trait did not just appear for the sake of social media. My family LOVES ice cream. During the summer when Paige and I were younger, Mom would take us to get ice cream at the shop around the corner (RIP Udder Delights). When Dad came home from work and suggested ice cream after dinner, Mom shot us a look, we stayed quiet, and we wolfed down our second serving of Moo Goo of the day.

We couldn’t very well let the first weekend our family spent together since January go by without some artisan ice cream. We’re big fans of Seneca Farms (who isn’t?), but were willing to try something different after Mom mentioned a newer shop she drove by on her way out to a friend’s house. A quick scroll through Spotted Duck Creamery‘s website convinced us this was a must-try.

Spotted Duck Creamery | Penn Yan, NY | Frozen Custard

Before arriving, we read about the flock of friendly ducks whose eggs are what make the Creamery’s custard so special. Pulling in, we were surprised by the adorable roadside stand, peacock family and picnic benches, all lit by string lights as dusk fell.

Both the waffle cones and the custard are homemade here, so I opted for two scoops in a cone. The scoops are small, which were were told was so you can try more flavors. That is a philosophy I can 100% get behind!

Spotted Duck Creamery | Penn Yan, NY | Frozen Custard

I chose Seneca Salted Caramel (caramel frozen custard with Seneca salt) and Chai Tea (vanilla chai frozen custard). Both were delicious! The chai was more spicy than sweet, which I enjoyed. There are also “Wine Trail Sundaes” which all sound amazing, and I’m sure are even more so after a warm day trekking from winery to winery.

Ancona ducks are give the Creamery its name. The ducks, which are definitely spotted, live behind the Creamery and are as friendly as the website said they’d be. While waiting for our ice cream, we wandered past picnic tables and Adirondack chairs to check out the ducks. They came waddling over to the fence and chatted away among themselves.

The ducks are joined by three beautiful peacocks who were just putting themselves to bed in a tall tree by the Creamery as we pulled out of the driveway.

Spotted Duck Creamery | Penn Yan, NY | Ancona Ducks

Spotted Duck Creamery | Penn Yan, NY | Roosting Peacocks

The Cutest Eateries on Anna Maria Island

Last week, I traveled to beautiful Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast for a long weekend of lazy days on the beach. Along with a few friends, I laid on the beach, bodysurfed in the waves, drank mimosas with breakfast every morning and ate a LOT of food.

We made good use of our rental home’s kitchen, but it’s not vacation without a few meals out. We didn’t have a chance to try everywhere we wanted to. Our bigger group kept us from trying smaller restaurants, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the food we did try, we had a few favorites!

For After Dinner Drinks: The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Local beers on draft, tropical mixed drinks and frozen cocktails kept everyone happy at The Ugly Grouper. The bar gets its cool vibe from the completely open-air setting and a giant mixed media grouper statue. We had fun playing the Bimini ring game, cornhole and giant Jenga.

The Ugly Grouper has a full menu and tons of live music, but we didn’t have the chance to experience either.

For Ice Cream: Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

In typical Florida fashion, we spent one afternoon waiting for pouring rain to pass. We bundled up and headed for Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery. The gelato was amazing and so was the decor. I had a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of Irish cream in a waffle cone, which I highly recommend. Their coffee was delicious as well!

For Tacos and Margs: Wicked Cantina

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Wicked Cantina

No warm-weather vacation is complete without tacos and fresh margaritas. Lucky for us, Wicked Cantina‘s tacos are amazing and the margaritas come in goblet-sized glasses. The chips and salsa were truly bottomless, and both the salsa and queso were a satisfying amount of spicy.

For Fresh-Caught Grouper: Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

While not technically on the island, this seafood shack is definitely worth mentioning. After a foggy morning on the boat, we headed toward Star Fish Company‘s dock as the sun began to shine. This market/restaurant combination is located on one of the last working fishing docks in Florida. The fish is fresh, the fries are crispy and everyone there is as happy to be there as I was.

Quick Trip: 24 Hours in Rochester, NY

How many things can you fit into a single day in Rochester? A lot.

My friend Mary lives in Rochester, and while it’s not far, we’ve spent months trying to find a few days that we were both free. When we found a full 24 hours without work, family obligations or weekend trips we already had scheduled, we jumped into full planning mode.

I picked a few places on my Rochester bucket list (almost all involving either coffee or beer) and Mary put together a perfectly designed itinerary. She also instructed her poor boyfriend not to eat or drink anything we ordered until I was done photographing it.

First up was dessert before dinner at Scratch Bakeshop‘s new location in the Neighborhood of the Arts. Just like the other small businesses in this stretch between University and Atlantic Avenues, Scratch has the cutest decor, high quality products and a friendly vibe. We opted for a mix of desserts, including vegan options, which were amazing!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Scratch Bakeshop | Neighborhood of the Arts

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Scratch Bakeshop | Neighborhood of the Arts

It wasn’t on the original schedule, but Three Heads Brewing is literally across the street from Scratch, so… we stopped in for a flight before dinner.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Three Heads Brewing | Neighborhood of the Arts

For dinner, we headed downtown to try Fifth Frame Brewing Co.,a brewery and roastery that opened last fall. Who knew that beer and an egg sandwich would taste so good at 8 pm? Actually the welcoming staff at Fifth Frame know this; “comfort food with unwarranted but welcomed riffs” is what they’re all about. Their Half & Half, an espresso oat stout, was amazing.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Fifth Frame Brewing, Co.

After dinner and drinks, we headed to Mary’s to watch dramatic TV shows and get a good night of sleep.

The next morning, we bundled up to venture to Turning Point Park and walk off some of the giant cookie and cake slice we consumed the day before. The boardwalk over the water was so pretty, if wind-whipped. We didn’t make it far, but I’ll definitely be back in warmer weather!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Turning Point Park

After our minimal exercise, we needed coffee, so off to Glen Edith Coffee Roaster‘s Park Ave Neighborhood location we went. There were way more people doing homework than I would have expected for a Saturday afternoon, but the cozy, quiet vibe was great. As was the coffee, of course.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Glen Edith Coffee Roasters | Park Ave. Neighborhood

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Glen Edith Coffee Roasters | Park Ave. Neighborhood

Our last stop was the Rochester Public Market, which was surprisingly busy for a cold February Saturday. I can’t imagine how crazy this place gets on nice summer days. There was lots of fresh produce at really good prices and I was impressed with the number of fish and meat vendors as well!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

The newer buildings make it obvious that this market is a big piece of Rochester’s plan for the future, and they compliment the shops that hint at the age of the Public Market. It’s been operating in its current location since 1905.

Although my trip was short, I really enjoyed everything we were able to fit in. Thanks for hosting Mary! I’ll be back in warmer weather to try more coffee, more beer, more hikes and other items on my bucket list.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter

Despite some wacky winter weather, Cody and I visited Paige this past weekend in her new apartment in Salem, Massachusetts. We were greeted by 2 feet of fresh snow and single-digit temperatures, but that didn’t stop from us seeing the sites. The 3 of us bundled up (we’re talking long underwear and scarves up to our eyes) to explore the best parts of Salem.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter

For anyone else crazy enough to visit this coastal city in the dead of winter, we highly recommend these 7 stops:

1. Fish Tacos at Howling Wolf

After a very long drive on Friday, we headed straight for tacos at Howling Wolf Taqueria. The place was packed and we waited a little bit for a table. Once we were seated our server was great and I don’t think I’ve ever had tacos delivered from the kitchen as fast as these were.

2. Snow Covered Graves

Salem is synonymous with witches, and no matter your belief on the subject, you can’t deny the history of this town. The Burying Point, the oldest burying ground in the city, looked extra picturesque covered in a thick blanket of snow.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | The Burying Point

3. Oak + Moss’ Sunny Shop

I found Oak + Moss on Instagram while researching things to do in Salem. Their shop lived up my expectations, with gorgeous natural pieces and nautical accents. I wanted so badly to buy a lot more than I did.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | Oak + Moss

4. Fresh Bread at A&J King

After battling the cold and wind on Saturday morning, we were ready for lunch and a warm drink. The salad sandwich, chai tea latte and hammered copper tables at A&J King Artisan Bakers were just what we needed. The shop was busy, filled with people looking to get out of the house after days of snow and cold.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | A&J King

5. Frozen Harbor Views

Sure, the is harbor probably more enjoyable when it’s not frozen solid. But there’s something pretty cool about both waves and boats freezing into place.

6. Craft Beer at Gulu Gulu Cafe

We finished off Saturday with a few drinks at Gulu Gulu Cafe, which was a further walk than other Salem bars from Paige’s apartment. The huge selection of draught beers and live music made the walk completely worth it. Plus, it meant that we saw the trees that lined the streets downtown lit up at night.

7 Reasons to Visit Salem in the Dead of Winter | Gulu Gulu Cafe

7. Streets Filled Christmas Decor

Even though Christmas was a few weeks ago, both businesses and the beautiful old homes of Salem are still decked out in their holiday best. The lights, bows, wreaths throughout the town are dusted with snow, giving them an extra festive look.

Things_to_do_in_Salem_MA_Winter_3

3 Penn Yan Must-Dos that aren’t a Winery

I love Penn Yan, the small central New York town on the northeast branch of Keuka Lake. This is the town where I spend every Christmas and most Easters, but nothing is better than a warm summer weekend or crisp fall day here.

Penn Yan is known for the dozens of award-winning wineries in the hills around Keuka and Seneca Lakes, but there’s so much more to do in this gem of a village!

1. Amity Coffee Co., 13 Main Street

Amity Coffee Co. | Penn Yan, NY

Amity Coffee Co. opened this spring in the space that was previously Publick Coffee Co. Paige and I stopped by for Amity’s opening weekend; we were greeted by cozy textures and pretty latte art. The exposed brick, comfy leather chairs and industrial lighting make this a must-visit before hitting the wine trail the next time you’re in the Finger Lakes.

2. Indian Pines Farm Market, 2406 State Route 54A

Indian Pines Farm Market | Penn Yan, NY Must Do

Stocking your cottage with local fruits and veggies is a must, and you’ll also find fresh pies, jellies and coffee here. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the glass store across the street for some super cool old windows and frames.

3. Climbing Bines Hop Farm, 511 Hanson Point Rd

Climbing Bines Hop Farm | Penn Yan, NY Must Do

So this is a brewery, which is almost a winery, but not quite. Cody and I met here for a drink a few weeks ago on a beautiful summer Sunday. The staff is friendly, views are amazing and the beer is delicious. The combination of natural wood and stainless steel give this place a great vibe, bolstered by the cornhole boards, disk golf course, hop fields and picnic tables.

Do you have a favorite Penn Yan must-do? Let me know!