By now you must be thinking I’m crazy for even suggesting having a Dublin weekend getaway, but this might not be as crazy or unreasonable as you first might think. Keep reading and I will show you why you want to consider a Dublin getaway.
Getting to Dublin
Depending on where in world you are, getting to Ireland for your Dublin weekend getaway might not be that difficult, especially if you are anywhere close to the East Coast of the US.
I, however, started my trip for my Dublin weekend getaway from Alaska and still was an amazing Irish holiday.
I went Anchorage to New York, and then took Air Lingus from New York to Dublin, but Air Lingus also flights direct from Seattle, Chicago and I’m sure all the major airports in the US.
Once I got Dublin, I had a Private Transfer from Dublin Airport to my hotel. The driver was so funny and friendly. After experiencing the service of private transfers, I never want to go back to taking a taxi. It was affordable, timely and super convenient. Trust me, this is the way to go.
The flight arrived like at 8 am, thankfully I was able to sleep some on the flight.
Since I knew I couldn’t check into the hotel until 4 pm, I’ve planned the day so I could enjoy my Dublin weekend getaway from the get-go.
The driver took me to the hotel, where I left my bag with the Bell Desk, and off I went to start my adventure.
What to do before check-in time at your hotel
I stayed at the Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane which was centrally located by the convention center. I do recommend the hotel as it was perfect for my Dublin weekend getaway.
I love to walk when I’m in a weekend getaway because it lets me take in the beauty of the places I’m visiting. So I walked about 40 minutes from my hotel to the Guinness Storehouse for my tour. The walk was lovely, I intentionally forced my route to go through Trinity College so I could get a glimpse of such happening place during daylight because I was sure I’d be hitting it at night.
Here is a disclaimer: I don’t drink beer, nor I like it; still there is so much history and uniqueness in this place, for which you must go to the Guinness Storehouse.
This is a seven-floor exhibition at the St. James’s Gate Brewery, in Central Dublin where Guinness was first brewed in 1759. You will make your own way through the brewery and must tell you, that you will be amazed.
They also have a great souvenir shop inside, great to place to get your loved ones something unique. In fact, every beam, and the wall has some interesting fact or quote that will make you smile like these two:
The tour, which is self-guided, easily will take 2 hours; and that’s not adding the time I would have to spend at the top bar drinking Guinness if I’d like beer. I hear the Guinness in Ireland takes one thousand times better than in the US.
I can’t really review the taste of Guinness, but I sure can review the taste of other things, like the Irish Coffee. O-M-G. It’s so good. I can’t remember drinking so many cups of coffee a day, as I did in this Dublin weekend getaway, partly because I was jetlag, but also the taste of the Irish Coffee is amazing.
How to make Irish Coffee like the pros
You want to make sure you have high quality, homemade whipped cream
You need good quality whiskey
You warm up the whiskey and the sugar in the coffee mug, and then brew the coffee on top of it.
Top it off with the whipped cream
We make it at home sometimes, and it’s pretty good, still nothing like the real thing in Ireland, which makes me beg for planning another Dublin weekend getaway.
This coffee I had while I was waiting for another tour I took that day, still while waiting for the time to be able to check in.
This second tour was a Pub Crawl, but this tour was not what you are thinking about.
This particular tour was a Countryside Pub Crawl, and it was amazing.
We went to 4 bars outside Dublin, in a small bus. It was like 10 of us, so a small group.
The guide was super funny and the views were amazing. It was Sunday afternoon, and so there were tons of families at the Pubs, which was different but so European.
Views of Dublin from the Countryside
I can’t remember the name of the pubs we went, I wasn’t really thinking about doing this review at the time, but what I can tell you is that this one was my favorite, as it was in a hill overlooking the city.
The other thing that surprised me during this tour, is how different Jameson tastes in Ireland. I learned that because they don’t put preservatives all their alcohol is so much better, which it was.
So make sure you try it when you go. People in Dublin take their whiskey with ginger ale, like this:
Finally, after a full day of exploring Dublin, it was time to go back and check into my hotel. It was for sure for this girl to go night night.
Highlights of the Day
Here are the things you can’t miss from my Dublin weekend getaway day 1:
After our exciting day touring with the Big Bus Chicago and the Skydeck, we were really hungry and ready for some real food the windy city style so we can say we really did Chicago with kids and check all the boxes.
Deep Dish Pizza
We left the Skydeck and took once again the Chicago Big Bus, as we used it not only for touring purposes but as our main transportation, and we got off on stop 14, Hard Rock Cafe and walked about 6 blocks to get to the best Deep Dish Pizza place in Chicago. Now I could say I gave my kids a real Chicago Weekend Getaway.
In my opinion, the best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago is Lou Malnati. They make the pizzas to order, and they do take some time to be cooked, so it’s helpful if you know what you want to order by the time you get there.
On this trip, we order a Malnati’s Chicago Classic medium, that serves 3. Normally I don’t trust the serving sizes as called in a menu, but these ones are very accurate, and you can trust them to determine the size of your pizza.
Every pizza I’ve ordered here is amazing and so I can’t stress enough that you must include a stop at Lou Malnati’s especially if you are doing Chicago with kids. They will love it.
They also have a dessert pizza, that you have to order at the same time you order your food because otherwise, you will have to wait for a long time to get it. FYI, the sangria is amazing too!
To be completely honest, from this dinner my kids remember first the dessert pizza and then after I showed them these pictures they recalled the deep dish pizza, but I promise you they enjoyed every second of the savory pizza as well.
By this time I was feeling pretty good about myself as a travel planner mom, and about the itinerary, I had put together for our Chicago with Kids adventure.
An unexpected surprise from the Universe
Throughout this day, I saw many people from Panama (my homeland) with the Panamanian soccer team jersey randomly walking around Chicago, which was odd. Finally, when we were at the Skydeck I decided to ask a couple why were there so many Panamanians in Chicago. The answer was the Universe gift for me and my kids.
We simply had picked the best weekend ever for our Chicago with kids adventure, because to our delight there was a historical game happening that day: Argentina vs. Panama were playing at Soldier Field that day for the Centennial Soccer American Cup.
Seriously? What are the chances?
I quickly, thanks to technology researched the tickets and made the decision that it was worth to pay for the tickets, at the obviously overpriced value since the game was that day, but again, do I need to ask myself this question: When will I be able to take my kids to a soccer game where Panama is playing Argentina ever again? Besides, wasn’t this the best way to memorialize a Chicago weekend getaway with my kids? So here we were, a few rows from the field and enjoying an amazing soccer game in Chicago, between Panama and Argentina.
I know this is a unique thing that it was so amazing to us, because of my heritage, but the reality is that Chicago is a great place to catch lots of sport, and then when you are in the windy city, especially if you are getting inspired by this article and doing Chicago with kids you should make sure to check what sports are available to watch. Your kids will love that.
If you must know the score, Argentina won obviously, but that wasn’t the point to attend the game. Go Panama!!!
Have you ever seen water so green that looks like emeralds floating in water? That’s what the river in Chicago looks like. So pretty, so amazingly green and so enjoyable by everyone.
To culminate our Chicago with kids weekend, we took a River Cruise where you can experience one of the most beautiful cities of the word and its architecture from the river.
This was an excellent tour of the city as well as full of history because you will be cruising by more than 40 distinctive buildings. Our guide was an expert in architecture and was a great storyteller of how the city was shaped by historical events including the Chicago great fire of 1871. They will show you exactly where it happened.
You definitely have to include touring the Chicago River in your trip. My kids and I loved it.
To conclude our amazing so far, Chicago with kids weekend getaway, we decided to explore Lake Michigan after the architectural river tour.
Lake Michigan is a huge body of water and in fact one of the five great lakes of North America.
Four States share the lake: Michicagn, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. However, due to the Earth curvature, a person can only see around 3.1 miles. Lake Michigan is 307 miles long by 118 miles wide so standing at the shore we would only be able to see 1/38 the distance across.
Super impressive and definitely a must see attraction when you go to Chicago, especially if you have the kids with you.
In the summer, people sunbathe in its shore and there are tons of boats in the lake. I personally thought the water was a bit cold, but my kids didn’t think twice about getting in the water. After all, they are from Alaska.
I researched the water temperature later, and I found out it was cold indeed: 60-70 degrees is as hot as it’ll get, but even the sunbathing is fun to do.
Go to Chicago, take your kids and have an amazing weekend getaway. Add doing Chicago with Kids to your bucket list.
Today is Part 2 of Chicago with kids, and all the amazing things that we saw and did in our Chicago weekend getaway. Day two was a very special part of our trip because we got a surprise adventure that I had not planned but worked out perfectly and the kids loved it.
We started our day 2 of our Chicago with Kids adventure, by doing a hop on hop off tour in the Chicago Big Bus.
I personally love this type of tours, especially if you have limited time in a city that you haven’t been; because it gives you an overall tour of the city, and you can use the tour as your mean of transportation in the city as well, as long as you plan your stops.
Since this Chicago weekend getaway was designed for my kids and me to spend some quality time together, I wanted to make sure the itinerary was tailored to their enjoyment, and so that by the end of the trip we would all agree that doing Chicago with kids was a good idea after all.
Having done the Big Bus before, I felt doing it in Chicago was a good choice.
Things you need to know about the Chicago Big Bus
If you haven’t done these tours before, this is how they work:
You can purchase your tickets either at the bus stop the day of your tour, or you can buy them online beforehand and save at least 10%. I like to buy them beforehand, not only to save money but so I can plan the trip and for me, one of the most amazing things about traveling is being excited about it, even before the actual travel starts. I do that by getting into the groove of the adventure beforehand.
There are several options for tickets: Basic or Deluxe which is basically one or two days of hopping on and off the bus, and then there are some add-ons like the Centennial Wheel and Skydeck at the Willis Tower, that I will review later. When I did this trip, I did not know I could bundle the Centennial Wheel with the Big Bus Chicago tour, otherwise, I’d have done it and the same myself some dollars. So you might consider doing that.
Adults for a basic run around $40, and children $23, but trust me it’s well worth it for history, the tour, and the convenience. You can see we all had a great time and it’s a great way to get some breeze while enjoying the sun of hot Chicago summer days. You need to consider these things when doing Chicago with kids so everyone is happy.
The Chicago Big Bus has wifi onboard, so you don’t have to use your Mobile data plan to upload all the gorgeous pictures of the Chicago skyline that you will be able to take.
You should definitely also download the mobile app so it’s easy to plan your stops ahead and while on the bus.
The Big Red Loop has 14 stops and it takes about 40 – 45 minutes to do the entire loop, in fact, that’s exactly what we like to do when we use the hop on and off buses. We get in and tour the entire loop, and then start hopping on and off. That way, we get a preview of the city first and then we start taking it all in slowly at our own pace. The key thing when doing a big city like Chicago with kids.
Usually the Chicago Big Bus runs from 10 am to 5:30 pm, but all those details like the map, the exact stops and the options to buy the tickets are very easy to find in their website, that I have included for you here so you don’t have to go struggling trying to find the right one: Chicago Big Bus Link.
Our Favorite Stop: Willis Tower and Skydeck
The kids and I board the Chicago Big Bus at the Water Tower Place (this is the mall where the American Girl Doll is), which is stop number 12 and tour around in the bus until we completed the loop and kept going until we reached stop 3: Willis Tower (old Sears tower) and the Skydeck.
We can buy the combo tickets of the Big Bus and the Skydeck and save yourself some money because trust me you are going to want to do both. Most importantly you are going to want to buy your Skydeck tickets in advance and I will even entertain the idea of getting a ticket option that will expedite your time in line because the lines are long and when doing Chicago with kids, you don’t want to stay in line for long periods of time.
Regardless, the line is not so horrible, as they have lots of facts about the building. For example, you will learn that the Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, but it’s all a play in the antennas in the roof. Nevertheless, the Skydeck sits at1,353 feet in the air, and the Ledge’s glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck.
Best way to take breath Taking views of Chicago
You can take pictures of Chicago in all directions as you can see right below, simply breathtaking
And then you find the ledge, and your kids want to go in, and you feel so brave until you look down. At first, all I could allow myself to do was to place one foot in and keep one foot out
But then your kids are brave enough to lay down in the ledge
So you feel like you need to lead by example and decide to take a deep breath and do a quick picture for the memory book, so everyone can remember that Chicago with kids was actually a very fun time. All this while you are praying that the ledge is strong enough to hold the tree of you.
Our day two isn’t over yet, and after that nerve-racking experience, you bet we were hungry and I knew our Chicago weekend getaway wouldn’t be completed without experiencing some of the best deep dish pizzas in town, which I’ll tell you all about in Part 3 of this adventure I’ve called: Chicago with Kids.
This time I’ve decided to take a weekend getaway with my older children and do Chicago with Kids. I know that Chicago can be intimidating, especially with kids but I hope I can show you through my experience that when planned correctly Chicago with Kids is destined to be a weekend getaway to remember.
When I made the decision to take my older two kids in a Chicago weekend getaway, many people acted surprised and few even questioned my mental sanity, if you know why I mean.
My children were 9 and 7 at the time and so going to Chicago with kids that age might not be on top of mind for most people.
Don’t take me wrong, I like to take my kids to Disney, and tropical places too, but I feel it’s important for me to show the culture and diversity as well.
I believe part of the legacy I’m leaving them is the opportunity to see and appreciate differences in places and their culture.
Traveling to Chicago with Kids
If you have read some of my other posts you know we live in Anchorage, Alaska; and so getting too many places could sometimes be challenging, and when I decided to go to Chicago with kids, I had to make sure the trip would be enjoyable for all of us. Happy kids equal happy moms, and vice verse.
Locally for us, we were able to travel directly from Anchorage to O’Hare, and I chose to take the red eye because that way we all could sleep in the plane and arrive ready for an adventure, looking fresh as the picture below proves.
Our First day in Chicago
We arrived in the Chicago airport around 8:30 in the morning, and we had packed so smart: Carry-on only, that each of the kids could be responsible for their luggage. That is so important when taking short weekend getaways, especially when doing big cities like Chicago with Kids.
We took the blue line “L” train from O’hare to downtown, which took around 45 minutes, and got off just a few blocks from our hotel, which was centrally located 2 blocks off from the Magnificent Mile.
On the way to the hotel, we stop for bagels and had a breakfast city style. So far my kids were loving our Chicago weekend getaway.
After breakfast, we dropped the bags at the hotel, and since was too early we couldn’t really check in, but we left the bags with the bell desk, and off we went. Our first stop was the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier.
Navy Pier was about 25 minutes walk from our hotel, door to door; and so I recommend that you do this great walk early in the morning or later in the day especially if your Chicago with Kids trip is during the summer months because it will get hot and humid.
The tickets for the Centennial Wheel are $18 for adults and $15 for children 3-11, and it’s a must do thing when you are in Chicago, especially if you are doing Chicago with Kids. Your children will love the ride.
The grounds are super clean and well maintained. Security is great and there are other things to around the Pier Park (all for a price though), but nothing overpriced.
You buy separate tickets for the other attractions that include: Carousel, Light Tower, Remote Control Boats, Swinger and a Climbing Wall.
You can easily spend half a day to a day in Navy Pier Park between the rides and the restaurants.
You can also grab a water taxi or take a boat tour (which we did on day 3)
Our favorite part of this day so far though, was the view from the top of the Centennial Wheel. When you reach the almost 200 feet height you will be exposed to an unparallel 360-degree view of Chicago and Lake Michigan.
The ride moves relatively slow, and so it’s not scary at all.
We all enjoyed it a lot, especially the kids.
After playing for a while at the Navy Pier Park, and having lunch we headed towards the Water Tower Place, also known as the mall at the magnificent mile; because the kids wanted to get some souvenirs.
This mall has two great stores for children: The largest American Girl Doll store and a Lego Store.
So far, Chicago with Kids has been a fun and enjoyable experience, away from the day to day routine.
I have to warn you that the American Girl Doll store is huge, and it could be overwhelming for parents. So allow time and don’t be rush to avoid meltdowns from both kids and adults.
The mall also has some pretty unique stores and so we spent the rest of the afternoon there until it was time to go to the hotel and check-in.
We had a long day and room service was our choice of dinner for Day one.
Anticipation for Day 2
It was time for bed, and the kids are so excited anticipating our Day 2, and so happy we decided to have a Chicago weekend getaway.
While in bed, we talked about our itinerary for the next day that included going on the Big Bus Hop on and off Tour and having some amazing Chicago style deep dish pizza.
Little that I knew at that point that the universe had a wonderful surprise waiting for us. A one in a lifetime experience that I was able to share with my children, just because I decided to take a trip to Chicago with Kids. It was one of those meant to be life experiences that I will be sharing on my next post: Chicago with Kids Part 2.
For now, it’s time to go to bed and get ready for another amazing day in Chicago with Kids.
Highlights of Day 1:
To recap, the one thing from our day 1 that you need to make sure you add to your itinerary, is Navy Pier and the Centennial Wheel.
I’ve been blessed with the privilege of living in the most amazing places on earth, one of them allowed me to be super close to Napa Valley, which help me learned about the area so I can talk today about the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience.
I have been in Napa close to 40 times. I used to live in the Bay Area near San Francisco and going up to Napa was the thing to do in the weekend, and even after I left California to move to Alaska, I’ve continued to go to Napa, always looking for the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience.
If we are going to be talking about Napa, it’s important for you to understand that people use the term Napa Valley to refer to the region, but they really could be talking about a variety of places including Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, Yountville, Healdsburg, and more.
The map to the right should help you orient yourself with all these names, and help you plan your getaway.
The region is big and in order to do it all you will need at least three to four days.
We usually do a weekend getaway, Friday to Monday which is plenty for us especially since we’ve been there before and we have our favorite wineries that we go to and I’ll mention below.
For a first timer and to ensure the best Napa Wine Tasting Experience, I would do the regions as follows:
Windsor and Healdsburg
Napa to Oakville
Rutherford to Calistoga
This division will allow you to pace yourself and enjoy wine tasting at a relaxing pace while enjoying the food and the atmosphere of each place.
Best time to go to Napa
If I tell you that any time is a great time in Napa, would you believe me? The reality of the matter is that you can’t go wrong going to Napa.
Each season offers a different aspect to Napa that’s unique and amazing.
Have you ever dream of seeing real grapes like this? Harvest time is for sure the best Napa Wine tasting experience from the point of view that you get to see these amazingly big grapes.
Harvest time is in the fall, and some wineries offer you a neat opportunity to crush the grapes like the Romans used to do in the ancient times. If you can go to Napa during Harvest, please do.
The only downside to it is that it’s the busiest time of the year, and so there might be lines everywhere. It also can get hot for those who are sensitive to the heat.
I also like to go in winter, because it’s super quiet and the tasting rooms are not busy at all. This ensures you will have the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience from the point of view that you can really take your time enjoying the wines, but also talking to the many wine connoisseurs in the area. I bet you will learn things about wine and the grapes you never expected.
Spring is a unique time to go especially if you are into heights. They offer daily hot air balloon rides, and even though they are offer year round, they could be canceled due to weather at any time, and I hear that Spring is usually when they are almost guaranteed to go every day. During this tour you will taste champagne, at heights that you won’t believe; and so if you want to taste wine near the sky, this will give you the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience.
Last time we went, it was summer. Early July to be exact. I thought it was perfect. It was crowded but not as much as during Harvest, it was shorts weather but not too hot. The grapes were big enough that you could start to appreciate the beauty of them, and the wineries were starting to open their new wines from previous harvest years.
My Favorite Wineries
So I have to admit that Ben and I are kind of picky when it comes to wines. We’ve been spoiled lately with good wines and so our taste is rather sophisticated. That’s a nightmare and a blessing at the same time. A blessing because the wines taste so much better when they are good, but a nightmare because they are not cheap at all.
But once a friend gave me the best advice when it comes to wine tasting, and you should keep in mind to foster your Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience. When it comes to wine, what others think doesn’t matter. If you like a cheap bottle of wine enjoy and celebrate with more!
So here is a list of our favorite wineries and the wines we like to drink:
Caymus – This is our most favorite wine and winery for sure. Everything they make is amazing. Their Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, and even the Chardonnay. They also have a special reserve to die for.
Duckhorn – This winery holds a special place in our hearts, as it was there the first time we ever talked about getting married.
Silver Oak & Stags Leap, are two wineries that Ben introduced me to and I’m growing to love them too.
Prager it’s a gem hidden in Napa Valley. They mostly do ports, and they have the most amazing white port. I know what you are thinking, but I bet you that if you try it you will be hooked like everyone else that laughed at my white port offering and then couldn’t wait for me to go to Napa so I could bring them back some white port.
When it comes to making sure we have the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience, we usually make sure we hit our must go wineries and then add a few new wineries each time so we can explore, learning and finding new and fun wines.
Other things to do in Napa
The California wine country, Napa included has many things besides wine to offer. Here are some of my favorite ones:
The number one thing to do to ensure the Best Napa Wine Tasting Experience
Here is where this page becomes so valuable to you. Last time we were in Napa we discover the one thing that above anything else made our experience the Best Napa Wine Tasting experience we’ve ever had until then.
I need you to understand that it could take 1 hour or more to drive from Sonoma to Napa. When you are drinking wine all day, that’s not exactly the best idea, although many people do it.
Many groups have to have a designated driver, which was the best choice until we discover this… Wait for it…
What if you could kill two birds with one stone by having the most romantic weekend getaway and getting married in Alaska at the same time?
Why Getting Married in Alaska?
Alaska is one of the most mystical and mysterious places left on earth, yet so easy to get to.
Most people think Alaska is this far away place, unthinkable to get to. However, I’m happy to tell you that especially if you live in the US West Coast, you can get to Alaska within a few hours in an airplane. In fact, Alaska Airlines have direct flights to most of the US major cities at very reasonable prices.
So the real question is, why not get married in Alaska.
It will for sure provide for a unique, once in a lifetime type of wedding. No doubt about it.
Ben and I have been married since January 2018, and we both have been married before; so this time we didn’t feel the need to have a lavished wedding.
We wanted it to be special, and we wanted it to be a romantic weekend getaway at the same time that we would be getting married in Alaska.
In how many places in the world you can get married with this background?
The budget for Getting Married in Alaska
I know what you might be thinking. Getting married in Alaska probably cost a lot of money. The answer is: it depends. I’ve been in weddings here where they probably spend as much if not more than what my first wedding cost, which indeed was a lot of money, but what if I tell you that we spent less than $2000.
That’s right. We spent less than $2000, and that includes the following:
Photographer (who was amazing) $500
Minister & witnesses (no complaints) $100 – We eloped, so the minister brought 2 witnesses with him
Location fee $250 (it was a donation also)
Bride and Groom appeal $350 for both
Weekend at Alyeska Resort $350
Dinner on a 5-star restaurant at the top of Alyeska Resort, Seven Glaciers which is one of the best foods I’ve tried from all the places I’ve traveled to $300
As you can see, even if you were to fly to Alaska to get married, you could be getting married in Alaska for a very reasonable price, and the views are simply priceless.
Besides, you could also have your honeymoon in Alaska.
Having your honeymoon in Alaska
If you are getting married in Alaska and want to also have your honeymoon in Alaska, there are many itineraries and places that you could choose from, and that I will review in other posts as we go in romantic weekend getaways in Alaska, but for purposes of this post here are some ideas to get you started:
In Winter: You could go to Talkeetna and chase the northern lights, which is one of the most beautiful and romantic things that anyone can do in a lifetime. The way the northern lights dance (move) is so surreal and magical.
You could also stay at the Alyeska Resort, and go skiing during the day, and enjoying several options for fine and casual dining at night.
In Summer: You could take a cruise in Alaska to see some very unique places like Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan; as well as the amazing glaciers
Or you could go to Denali National Park and explore nature at it’s best, hopefully getting a glimpse of bears and sheep in their natural habitat.
How to make your wedding in Alaska the most romantic weekend getaway?
That almost sounds like a rhetorical question, isn’t it? If you are getting married that should be the most romantic weekend, but what we did is that we made sure we stay in a nice place and had enough time to relax and enjoy the beauty around us.
Enjoy each other and spend quality time with each other.
Because we stayed at Alyeska which is a nice hotel, we had a nice suite and a romantic getaway package that included champagne and chocolates that were a super nice start to the weekend getaway.
Then they have a top of the art spa at the resort and a salt water pool that is always heated at 90 degrees. That’s a thing in Alaska because it’s cool outside. The pool area also has a nice hot tub that you could hit.
We are not skiers, but if you are; Alyeska is one of the most diverse and challenging mountains in the US. I know this because both of my 2 older children ski competitively in Alyeska every weekend and so I see them ski in black diamond trails all the time. So much that the mountain even has a triple diamond run, which I don’t even want to think about.
At the top of the mountain, that you can only access via tram (which by itself is pretty neat and a must do) by the way that is we got married, they have 2 restaurants: Seven Glaciers, which is fine dining, and they have a very casual restaurant and bar which is fun too.
The tram is free if you have reservations at Seven Glaciers, otherwise, there is a daily fee.
But going up in the tram is totally worth it and I totally recommend it for the views and the experience. It goes super slow so it’s not really scary and they have two trams actually, which allows them to do proper maintenance on a regular basis.
I would say, that if you are looking for a unique place to have your wedding or to make your wedding day more special; getting married in Alaska should be a consideration for sure. Then you can make it even more special by tagging a honeymoon in Alaska at the end of it.
Keep in mind you could do this for a wedding renewal ceremony too.
But if getting married in Alaska is out of the picture, then why not have the most romantic weekend getaway in an unforgettable place like this.
What other things would you like to know about Alaska? We are going to be exploring more this summer for sure.
I’m confident that you will learn to love this magical place as we do, and pretty soon you will be sharing with us your Hawaii Weekend Getaway experience.
There is nothing that screams “Happy Place” to me as Hawaii does, and I’m so happy that Ben shares that same excitement about this magical place with me, and that we have established the tradition to visit Paradise as often as we can, which usually means at least twice a year, but sometimes three.
Why Hawaii for us?
First, you need to know that I am from Panama. I grew up with the Pacific Ocean at just 15 minutes from my house, and the Caribbean at 80 minutes. Going to the beach, and getting vitamin D (which by the way is a real thing) was part of my existence.
Now I live in Alaska, a long story that I will share in another post, and I can’t get enough vitamin D here, which makes me grouchy and not fun to be around.
The joke in my house is that when I get grumpier than normal, my kids tell me it’s time for me to get a Hawaii Weekend Getaway. I’m telling you the lack of vitamin D is real, and so a few years back, I decided that going to the beach was a healthy thing for me, and so I worked it in my budget.
Hawaii is literally the closest beach we can get to from Alaska. Fortunately, Alaska Airlines has 6 hours direct flight to Oahu and Maui, which allow us to be able to leave Friday afternoon and come back Tuesday night. The perfect amount of time for our Hawaii Weekend Getaway.
Our First time in Paradise together
I’ve been doing this weekend getaway in Hawaii thing for years now since 2012 to be precise, and I’m telling you getting there Friday just in time for dinner, and enjoying 4 full days in Hawaii it’s the perfect amount of time to escape from everything and relax. If Hawaii is not close to you, you can take this idea and have a weekend getaway on a beach close to you.
The first time Ben and I had a Hawaii Weekend Getaway was in August 2017, and since then we have been there 5 times. All for the same amount of time. One of the times, we even took his older two kids (now in college).
Ben was hesitant to go to Hawaii for such a short length of time: Friday to Tuesday, but I asked him to trust me that this was enough time. The result: Ben is hooked, and always anticipating the Aloha spirit.
I’ve been in Hawaii close to twenty times (I know… lucky me), so nowadays our itinerary is more relaxing than the first time we went, since we’ve done many of the sightseeing things already; but that first time, I wanted him to experience as much of what the island had to offer. To be honest with you, he has so much more to see yet, but since we go back so often I try to add a new thing for him to see every time.
However, if this is your first time in Hawaii keep reading to know the things you must experience.
Hawaii Weekend Getaway must do:
1. If you have never been to Hawaii, you must go to Pearl Harbor, which is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941.
In the picture to the left, you can see the USS Arizona Memorial. This place marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the attack.
You get to the memorial by boat, and it’s an add-on to whatever ticket you purchase to get into Pearl Harbor itself.
You should plan to spend half a day at Pearl Harbor so you can really absorb all the history this place holds.
When it’s a place for reflection, there are also great picture opportunities throughout the memorial, as you can see on the right.
Back on land, there is a museum, a place with a pretty good documentary of what happened the morning of the attack, a gift shop of course, and many places to sit down and reflect on the sacrifices our soldiers do to allow us to have freedom today.
In order to get to Pearl Harbor you can either hire a tour with transportation included (that’s what we did, to avoid the hassle), you can take public transportation (the bus stop is two blocks away from the memorial entrance), or nowadays you can just take an Uber.
I should mention that unless we are driving to the North Shore, we usually don’t rent a car when we are in Oahu, as we center our visits around Waikiki.
If you decide to rent a car, parking in Waikiki could be challenging. However, if you are going to be exploring the island you might want to ponder that option.
2. I’ve mentioned before how magical a Hawaii Weekend Getaway is. One of the things that make Hawaii a magical place to me, is the sunsets. I will never get tired of experiencing the sunset in Waikiki beach, and more than once I’ve taken a sunset catamaran cruise, right from Waikiki.
Some of these tours include drinks and some others don’t, but the real point of the cruise is to see the Sunset. I wanted
Ben to experience that close and personal, so I research and got us a highly rated Sunset Catamaran tour from Waikiki beach.
We took the one that leaves from the Sheraton (instead of the one that leaves from the Outrigger), but since I’ve done them both, I have to say that they were both great.
I’ve never seen that you need a reservation to get in, although I did this last time, there is always room in the boat for more people.
On board, you will have the opportunity for amazing pictures, and maybe you could even see some whales along with a fantastic view of Waikiki from the water.
The cruise lasts about 2 hours, since it departs around 5 pm, and cruise around until after the sunset which is breathtaking.
Then after such an amazing gift from mother nature, you will return to Waikiki just in time to have a nice dinner in town if you please to do that.
Some other must do things in Hawaii, which are part of our traditions and I’m describing them below.
The traditions we established in our Hawaii Weekend Getaway
We have made our tradition to spend quality time in Waikiki Beach during our Hawaii Weekend Getaway. Keep in mind that Waikiki is just a portion of the coastline of Oahu, between the Zoo and the Marina.
This is the most touristic and crowded beach on the island, but it’s well worth your time to visit.
Trust me when I tell you that Ben doesn’t like crowds, yet he has grown to love Waikiki as much as I do.
Not only the sand is white and groomed, but you have all the facilities that you need within a few steps: Restrooms, Restaurants, Bars, and Shopping.
Also, for those of you who can’t sit under the tropical Hawaiian sun for long periods of time (like Ben) here is your saving tip: Get up early and reserve an umbrella with chairs.
We do this as part of our tradition.
I usually get up by 7:30 am and go downstairs at our hotel, I walk to ABS (Aloha Beach Services) and rent the umbrella for the day.
If you get there early enough you will get the first row, and so you won’t even mind the crowds and you will have sun protection for the day.
Do use sunblock, as the sun is intense, especially when you are in the water which is perfect.
You can rent the umbrellas by the hour, half a day or for the day. We usually rent them for the day, and they cost $50 from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm. Keep in mind that if you go closer to the Marina they are cheaper, but the sand and the beach is not as picture perfect as where we go which is by Duke’s restaurant.
We normally try to stay at the Outrigger Waikiki for our Hawaii Weekend Getaway because then we don’t have to worry about anything. Just go downstairs, to the perfect beach. The bar at Duke’s has THE BEST, and I meant it. THE BEST Mai Tai’s in the Island.
Warning: Once you try the Duke’s Mai Tais nothing else will do! OK, now you have been warned.
Another integral part of our Hawaii Weekend Getaway includes eating the amazing variety of food that you can find in Waikiki. This place is truly an international melting pot and you can find the most amazing restaurants at all kinds of prices.
Depending on the time of the year, you might want to consider making reservations in Open Table prior to your actual stay in Hawaii if you want to try a specific restaurant, but there are many places where you can just put your name at dinner time. Do know that if you wait until dinner time to decide where to eat, your wait might be long.
Some of our favorite restaurants in Waikiki and that have become part of our weekend getaway tradition are Ruth Chris, Duke’s of course, Hula Grill, Roy’s of Hawaii. We recently discovered Morimoto of Asia (which is owned by an Iron Chef) and it was delicious.
For breakfast, we have a favorite and we usually go there at least 2 of the days if not 3 and that is Maui Brewing Company. O-M-G the food is amazing, simply amazing. (Note that we’ve only gone here for breakfast, so I can’t speak about lunch or dinner).
How to ensure this is not your last Hawaiian Weekend Getaway?
One of the things that always cracks me up, is when you go back to the airport to go back home (maybe so much more when home is Alaska), and you can see that everyone at the gate has long faces, probably sad because they are leaving paradise, while everyone getting off the plane that you are about to board is happy as a clam, because their weekend getaway is just starting.
What I’ve discovered is that having my next Hawaii weekend getaway dates picked out, before I leave Hawaii gives me that sense of appreciation and eliminates completely the feeling of sadness, which allows me to completely enjoy my getaway until the very end. So as often as you can, think about when you can be back, book it possible and then you won’t have to be sad for having to go back home.
Taking the Best of Hawaii with you
Yes it is true that Hawaii beaches are amazing, and the sunset, and the rainbows, and so much more than I would need 30 more pages to describe; but one of the best things from Hawaii is the Aloha spirit.
It feels like in Hawaii everyone is happy, all the time.
Once I met this older lady about, retired and she was my waitress at a restaurant by the ocean. She was so happy.
That was a time in my life when I wasn’t all that happy, so it was uncomfortable for me to see her so happy. So I asked her, how and why was she so happy.
Her response blew me away.
She said: I’m retired in paradise. I work enough just to pay the bills that I couldn’t otherwise, but the rest of the time I play in the sun, and when I have to work this is what I get to stare at all day:
That’s when I realized that you create your own happiness, and I knew back then that Hawaii will always be my happy place.
If you like us love Hawaii or would love to go to Hawaii for a weekend getaway, what things do you like to do or would you like us to review and give you insights on? Leave your comment below.
Ben and I decided to have an unconventional thanksgiving in 2018, and have a weekend getaway in Texas. To my surprise, it was a delightful experience.
I have to admit, I was not very excited about the choice of location at first, because my ideal escape will always be traveling to the beach, but I went along with it because Ben wanted to do this for reasons that you will understand as you keep reading.
Our trips are short most of the time, due to our regular work and schedules, so we basically had to pull this Weekend Getaway in Texas in 6 days.
We left home on Friday one week, and we return home on Friday morning the following week.
I will tell you, in order to get excited about this weekend getaway in Texas I had to do a lot of research to make sure I was going to have a good time, and that taking this trip was going to be worth the effort and money.
Texas Weekend Getaway Ideas
The main reason for our weekend getaway in Texas was to be in Dallas for Thanksgiving, but I have to be honest with you. I’ve been to Dallas, and I think Dallas is OK, but I was not about to spend a week in Dallas without a good reason.
Being the planner that I am, I started to research and I think I came up with a fair amount of good ideas that I’m going to share with you in this post. Obviously we only able to execute in one for our weekend getaway in Texas ideas, but you might want to consider and explore the other ones.
Road trip from San Antonio to Dallas
Road trip from Houston to Dallas
A week-long in Dallas ( To be fair I had to consider it)
Our chosen weekend getaway in Texas idea was number one above A Road trip from San Antonio to Dallas.
We flew into San Antonio Airport, from Anchorage, AK and spent a couple of days in San Antonio, drove to Austin. Spent couple of days in Austin, drove to Dallas. Did that thing in Dallas, and flew back home.
I’m always checking ticket prices, and I think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to buying them. Sometimes buying two – one way, other times combining airlines (as long as I get miles with all of them), and definitely checking close by airports.
As I mentioned before we flew Alaska Airlines to San Antonio one way. This was an extraordinarily long flight from Anchorage on purpose because I was going to be 67 miles short at the end of the year for Gold MVP, so I decided to route ourselves through Chicago to get an extra 400ish miles.
We rented a car one way in San Antonio and returned it in Dallas. Then we flew from Dallas back to Anchorage.
This ticket was about $200 cheaper per person than buying a round trip to Dallas or San Antonio at the time I bought the tickets.
Our weekend getaway in Texas was a 6 days trip: 2 days in San Antonio, 2 days in Austin, 2 days in Dallas.
Keep reading to see the best things to do in each of these cities.
Weekend in San Antonio.
I lived in Houston in the summer of 2000, while I was in grad school. There is this fond memory in my heart about the tortilla soup that I used to have on the weekends in the San Antonio Market. This soup was so good, that I would drive 4 hours from Houston on a Saturday morning, spend the weekend in San Antonio, just to have this soup.
I mean San Antonio was fun and all, but that soup was amazing.
Ben has never been in San Antonio, so I wanted to make sure he could experience also that amazing tortilla soup. The problem is that I couldn’t remember the exact name of the restaurant, but I was confident I could find it.
After flying all day from Anchorage to San Antonio, via Chicago (so I could get my extra 400 miles) we were exhausted and hungry by the time we checked in into our room at Wyndham La Cascada, located in Dwyer Avenue. I must say, this was a great place to stay: centrally located, clean and cozy. Wyndham La Cascada was the perfect stay for the beginning of our weekend getaway in Texas.
This hotel had valet parking, the staff was super cordial and the location was unbeatable. We were able to walk everywhere, and we felt safe at all kinds of hours during the day and night.
Since it was close to midnight when we checked in, we asked the friendly front desk clerk if by any chance there was a place we could have food. Any food would have done it for us, but as it was meant to be, he recommended us to go to Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia, located at 218 Produce Row.
Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia opens 24 hours a day, and it was “happening” at 1 am. I mean the place had a full restaurant, a bar, a bakery shop, a gift shop, Mariachis and lots of people. The food was delicious and it’s a must visit place when you go to San Antonio.
The best part of it all is that this was the place I used to go to have that heart melting tortilla soup 18 years ago.
So far, this weekend getaway in Texas has started with the right foot.
Day 1: San Antonio Riverwalk and surroundings:
The next day we got up and decided to head towards the San Antonio Riverwalk, which is an amazing place to eat, drink or sit down and people watch. It has walking sidewalks on both sides which makes it super convenient for walking alongside the river.
There are riverwalk boat tours of the river that you could take also to learn the facts about San Antonio.
We decided for the easy and laid back choice: eat, drink and people watch. However, we did walk to and from the hotel to get there, so that counted as our exercise for the day. About 15 minutes each way.
On the way there, we stopped by La Villita, which is a one-stop for the best artsy shopping experience in San Antonio. It’s literally a block away of the Riverwalk. What it used to be San Antonio’s first neighborhood is today a community of local artists and intriguing custom collections. I definitely recommend stopping here.
There was one thing I couldn’t get over though: The scooters! and I mean this in a good way. I’ve never seen this before going to San Antonio this time, and I thought it was simply brilliant.
They have these self-service scooters all over town, so people can rent them by the hour and cruise around the town. They are electric and get recharged every night. San Antonians considered them another way of transportation, at parity with the bus. (Since going to San Antonio I realized these are all over California as well, and probably other places I’m not aware of)
Our first day in San Antonio was a Sunday, and we did a stop at the Yard House so Ben could watch the Redskins game. That was an adventure, especially since they were playing against the Texans and we were in Texas… but besides that, the Yard house was surprisingly a nice atmosphere, with great food; the Vampire tacos we were a hit and you should definitely try them, and their beer selection was simply overwhelming.
We spent the rest of the day walking around, and we had dinner at Paesanos, an Italian Restaurant at the Riverwalk, which looked great and fancy, but I didn’t think it was that great. It was just OK, so I wouldn’t go back… I’m sorry!
Our second and last day in San Antonio, we went to The Alamo. Ben wanted to go, and I just wanted to make sure he could also have a say in the itinerary, so I happily got the tickets for us to go.
Before getting to the Alamo, we stop at the cutest restaurant (which apparently is an institution in San Antonio) and had one of the best waffles I’ve ever tried in my life. The place is called the Gutner House and it has a museum and gift shop on the premises. Never mind about those two things which we were great, but the waffles we were amazing!
Back to the Alamo day trip, I have to say, I’m so glad we went; and I can’t wait to take my kids back to San Antonio (not for a couple weekend getaway, but for a family weekend getaway in Texas) so they can learn and appreciate all the history that lays in that town.
The Alamo is very reasonably priced and it’s well worth every second you spend there. Don’t rush it. Take your time, so you can breathe in the history of such an important place.
After our 2 – 3 hours visit at the Alamo, he headed towards our next stop: Austin, but not before I got to experience some shopping at The San Marcos Premium Outlets, which was conveniently located on our way to Austin.
Gentlemen, you might want to reconsider skipping this stop. I thought I was going shopping, but at the end of the day, Ben got a lot more shopping done than I did, and he is not exactly the shopper type.
This is a great stop if you want to drive from San Antonio to Austin like we did in your weekend getaway in Texas, and enjoy super amazing deals from great brand stores.
What to do in Austin Texas
At last, after some shopping therapy, we arrived at our second stop on our weekend getaway in Texas: Austin, which is a place I actually have never been before this trip.
We stayed at the Wyndham Austin in 8th St, which was the perfect location to walk everywhere. Austin is a walking city, and you should consider that when booking your accommodations.
The Wyndham Austin was nice, classy and conveniently located. The staff was amazing too.
We arrived around 4 pm into Austin, and we had dinner reservations to go to 3 Forks, which is a super nice and upscale steak house. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this place. The food was good, but I’ve had better steaks; the staff and the ambiance were sophisticated but for the love of God they couldn’t get my drink right.
However, on the last day, we went to a restaurant called Red Ash on Colorado St. O-M-G. Still, today, I believe having dinner at Red Ash was the highlight of our Weekend Getaway in Texas.
We tried to make reservations in an open table, but we couldn’t so we walked there and try to get seated right at opening, but it was completely full, so we sat at the bar where we were able to enjoy the full menu.
The food in Red Ash was simply delicious. One of those where you just want to lick the plate. The bartender was friendly and nice, the house Chianti was great. When I go back to Austin, I’m definitely going back to Red Ash and if you go to Austin, or if you are in Austin and you haven’t tried Red Ash, trust me… you need to.
Day 4: The Texas Capitol and Rainey St.
This day we went to breakfast at Walton’s Fancy and Staples. This place was amazing. The breakfast menu was long, the food was tasty, and we didn’t realize this until later but they had a spirts’ menu for breakfast too.
The neatest thing about the place is that it was founded by Sandra Bullock and it reminded me of a place that would exist in a very small town because the place was a restaurant, it had an all-day happy hour, but it also had flowers, gifts and offered catering. A super neat place that I highly recommend.
Austin is the Capital of Texas, and since we were there for our weekend getaway in Texas, we decided to tour the Capitol after finishing breakfast at Waltons. I have to confess, not my thing to do; but I’m so glad we went.
The building was beautiful, the marble floors, the old wooden stairways, the pictures of all the governors. It was super educational and free.
The grounds of The Capitol were clean and pretty, and we were blessed with this amazing sunny day and blue skies so I was able to take a website perfect picture of it.
People we recommended us to go to Rainey St, and 6th St; and categorized both as the “happening places”, so we walked from the Capitol to Rainey St. about 30 minutes walk.
This walk was great for the exercise, but be aware that there were few blocks at the end that felt a bit sketchy for my taste. The worst of all is that we didn’t realize that Rainey street was the “happening place” at night, not quite at 1 pm, so there wasn’t much of anything even opened at the time we got there. So, that was a bit of a disappointment. We hit 6th St on our way back but in my opinion, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I enjoyed more of the area closer to the hotel.
Day 5: Final Austin sightseeing and drive to Dallas
On our final day in Austin, we had breakfast at 1886 Cafe and Bakery located at the Driskill Hotel. This place was very tasty and eclectic. The only downside is that the orders took a while to come out, so if you are hungry maybe you should consider twice going here. However, if you are looking for a place with a nice atmosphere and you are in no rush, this is a place for you to consider.
Since it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we were driving to Dallas, we decided to leave Austin right after breakfast, especially since we’ve heard there was some construction in the highway on top of the already 3 plus hours commute.
In the end, the drive was OK, even though it took us close to 4 hours including the construction delays. On our way to Dallas I really wanted to stop by Magnolia to see Chip and Joanna (the stars from Fixer Upper) store, but since we were already late to meet some friends we didn’t stop.
Best attractions in Dallas
So here is the grand reveal and the main reason we decided to go to Texas for Thanksgiving. We had tickets to go see the football game on Thanksgiving Day between the Cowboys and Redskins.
We got into Dallas on Wednesday, met some friends for dinner and we stayed at the airport hotel because our flight Friday morning was super early. That worked out perfectly.
On Thanksgiving day, we went for lunch to Mercury Chop House (in Arlington, TX close to the AT&T Stadium). They had a choice of a Thanksgiving menu or their regular menu. We decided on the regular menu and had the most tender and amazing Prime Rib. I totally recommend it.
After such an amazing lunch, we headed towards the AT&T Stadium to end our Weekend Getaway in Texas in style, because we had floor passes to go into the field before the game. That was truly an unforgettable experience.
The Redskins lost the game, sadly for Ben; but being able to experience such an ionic game for the United States: The traditional Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Game, and watch Ben’s team as the pinnacle of our amazing trip was simply priceless.
This is what we love to do.
We love to travel, and we take any excuse we can get to make a trip a memorable experience. An experience that enriches our relationship and our lives, because Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
Of course, there are many things we could have done in our Weekend Getaway in Texas that we didn’t do, but the beauty of it all is that we can always go back, and you can always experience a weekend getaway in Texas too.
You can go as a couple, or you can go as a family. The decision is yours.
Other Weekend Getaway in Texas ideas
As I mentioned before, I know there are things we didn’t get to do, and so I always keep a running list of things of our next opportunity to have a weekend getaway in Texas.
The ideas I have so far are:
Houston and Cruising out of Galveston to the Western Caribbean
Houston, South Padre Island and Galveston
Go back to Austin in the summer to see the bats at Congress bridge (we missed them by few weeks, as apparently, the bats go to Mexico in the winter)
Go back to San Antonio for a family weekend getaway and go to SeaWorld, and Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels
If you have any other ideas of things to do for a weekend getaway in Texas, please leave us a comment below with your suggestions.
Traveling has been Carmen’s passion for as far as she can remember. Traveling represents the things that make her happy: Freedom, Excitment, Variety, Learning, Peace and Abundance. But there was one thing missing in that happy picture, and that was a partner that enjoys traveling as much as she does…. That’s until she met Ben.
Our Weekend Getaways Story
Since 2017 Carmen and Ben have been going on as many weekend getaways as they can fit in their busy schedules, and loving every second of it.
Some are romantic weekend getaways, some are luxurious but many are cheap weekend getaways. The important thing is that they are all fun and memorable.
We have even endure going on few family weekend gateways with our blended family of 8. Oh yes, we are the brady bunch!
Dare to live the life you have always wanted
We are two busy professionals with lots of work responsibilities, and 6 kids living at home (plus two that are almost on their own now). Life is busy. Always!
We also love to travel. We love to be together. We love to experience the world and all it’s abundance while making memories that we can enjoy when we can no longer travel.
Life is short. Life is precious. We are choosing to live the life now that we always wanted to live.
We see so many people waiting to travel tomorrow or worst yet, someday. Someday when the kids are grown, when the debt is paid off, when the savings account is healthier.
What if you can do it now? What if you allow yourself to enjoy the abudance of this world? What if you get inspired by us to take your first or your next weekend getaway.
If we can help one person make the decision to start planning or even better go in one or many fun or romantic weekend getaways; if we can inspire you to live you life at it’s fullest then we have accomplished our mission.
Remember “All you need to know is that it’s possible”– Wolf, an Appalachian Trail Hiker, and that “a Job will fill your pocket, but adventures will fill your soul” – Jamie Lyn Beatty
If you ever need a hand planning your next weekend getaway or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and we will be more than happy to help you out.