Ever since my family started going on annual road trips when I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to eventually set foot in all 50 states. It’s been nearly 15 years since I started the journey, exploring nearly every state in America. Last June, I had the opportunity to explore my 31st state… ALASKA.
August 23, 2014
El Matador Beach, California
With summer almost coming to an end, my cousin and I packed our beach bags, had a joy ride along the Pacific Coast Highway and headed to beautiful El Matador Beach.
Just a few miles north of Malibu, El Matador Beach showcases towering cliffs and enormous rock formations, making one question whether they’re in Southern California at all! The crashing waves splashing against the rocks make the beach a perfect spot for a scenic photoshoot!
This past Sunday, my friend Dianne and I opted to lounge poolside in an attempt to beat the sweltering California heat.
Dianne created a homemade watermelon fruit bowl filled with fresh watermelons, strawberries, black grapes, and blueberries! For refreshments, pineapple juice was my drink of choice while my sexy sidekick selected guyabano. Yummy!
Lucky for us, the pool was empty throughout the entire duration of our mini staycation! True to nature, we laughed, we danced, we splashed around, we sang Beyoncé and ate until our hearts’ content.
It’s days like these that I’m truly grateful for being able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Enjoying a beautiful Sunday in the company of one my dearest friends was enough to make both my tummy and heart very happy!
“It was one of those Zip-a-dee-doo-dah days – the kind of day where you can’t open your mouth without a song jumpin’ right out.”
Watch my brief video diary below for a glimpse of our fun-filled day!
Thank you reading [and watching]! Have a great week, everyone!
Summer Road Trip 2014
June 20, 2014
Two things come to mind when I hear the word Chicago. Number 1 is deep dish pizza, and number 2 is the image of the Willis Tower. Lucky for me I was able to experience both during my second day in the windy city! Our first stop was the world famous Sky Deck!
The Sky Deck is on the 103rd story of the Willis Tower, and the entire floor had floor-to-ceiling windows, showcasing a spectacular 360-degree view of Chicago.
Heights aren’t a big fear of mine, but I must say, I did still feel my stomach drop just a teeny tiny bit the moment I walked out on the ledge. It was truly a unique experience! The panoramic view of the Chicago skyline combined with the view of Lake Michigan was breathtaking enough, but experiencing it in a glass box 1,353 feet up? Exhilarating!
Contrary to what every one was doing, all I did was look down! It was as if I was trying to convince my brain that my body was indeed, in fact, standing on a glass ledge… 103 stories up… in Chicago’s highest skyscraper. No big deal.
Watch my short video diary below for a glimpse of my Sky Deck experience!
After an unforgettable experience at the Sky Deck, my family and I went around Downtown Chicago to sightsee even more!
There is something about the Windy City that reminded of the Big Apple. Perhaps it was their subway system or the skyscrapers, but being in Chicago was almost like being in New York City. Almost.
Chicago to me is like New York City, but minus the grit, minus the hustle. It’s like a friendlier, cleaner, less crowded version of New York City.
After a long day playing tourist, what better way to satiate our hunger than devouring the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza at local Chicago establishment, Lou Malnati’s?
Sidenote: An Italian friend of mine does not consider the aforementioned dish “pizza,” but rather “bread and stew.”
I truly wish I had higher-quality photos of the pizza, but clearly, my excitement got the best of me.
At first it felt unnatural to eat pizza with a knife and fork. Personally, I like my pizza’s thin crust and foldable, but hey, I’m Chicago! Eat as the locals do, right? Man, Lou Malnati’s did not disappoint! The crust was substantial, thick enough to support the lake of cheese and tomato sauce and sausage on top, all of which complemented each other harmoniously.
Also, another notable food trip was to Lezza Spumoni, which has the BEST cannoli I’ve ever tasted!
What can I say? This girl’s gotta eat!
Multiple locations throughout Chicago area
4009 St. Charles Road
Bellwood, IL 60104
Summer Road Trip 2014
Day #7 – 10: June 19 – 21, 2014
At last, 5 days and 2,000+ miles later, we finally made it to Chicago! With this trip being my first time visiting the windy city, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Given that this is the last leg of of our trip, my family and I reserved 3 days to explore the city.
As usual, sports arenas were first on our itinerary. We visited United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls, and the historic Wrigley Field!
The first half of the day was incredibly gloomy and foggy, but thankfully, the weather cooperated as soon as we reached our next stop: Northerly Island.
Overlooking the great Lake Michigan, Northerly Island is a family-friendly nature area that features beautiful strolling and bicycle paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. A 91-acre peninsula, it is also the site of the Burnham Habor, the Shedd Aquarium and the Alder Planetarium.
A picnic under the trees would’ve been ideal to have in Northerly Island, but our tummies were craving dim sum, so Chinatown was the next stop of the day. Sadly, I was so hungry that I didn’t have the time to take pictures of our glorious meal.
Chicago’s tourist spots, much like in San Francisco, are all in close proximity from one another. Their attractions are conveniently concentrated within their downtown or just a few miles outside of it. Our next stop after Chinatown is none other than the Buckingham Fountain.
Located at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is the centerpiece of Grant Park. This stunning Chicago landmark was constructed in 1927, inspired by the Latona Basin at Versailles. It is one of the largest fountains in the world, and it was made to represent Lake Michigan, boasting four pairs of Art Deco style sea horses to represent the four states that border the lake.
By far, it is one of the most impressive fountains I’ve ever encountered. It was ENORMOUS, yet so elegant! It jets out so much water that you feel the mist hundreds of yards away!
Merely a few blocks away from Grant Park is Millennium Park, one of the newest additions to Chicago’s many wide open urban spaces. It is an absolute must-see when visiting the windy city! Hosting a wide range of outdoor/indoor activities for locals and tourists a like, Millennium Park is a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art.
I could not get enough of this place! Although it was challenging (and expensive) to find parking, the visit was well worth it. The route we took lead us first to the Lurie Garden, an urban oasis located at the southern end of the park. The 5-acre garden is a wonderful palette of texture and color of various bulbs, perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees!
As if the Lurie Garden wasn’t enough to take my breath away, cue the Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion!
A M A Z I N G! The Pritzker Pavilion is a incredible outdoor performing arts venue. I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s so cool and innovative and futuristic! Huge metal beams (where speakers are attached to) criss-cross across a wide field of grass. There wasn’t a performance at the time of our visit, but I made a personal goal to return to Chicago just to attend a concert or music festival here with my friends!
With my jaws still on the ground, we walked over next door to another Chicago must-see: the Cloud Gate, or less formally known as “The Bean.” It is truly an amazing piece of art.
Enormous, metallic, reflective, image-distorting, pictures cannot do it justice.
Chicago is slowly stealing my heart. Stay tuned for Day 2!