Day 1 plan
Day 2 Plan
By: Erica Amatori | Insta & Twitter: @ericaamatori
My good friend lives in Leesburg currently and asked me to come up for the weekend. Not knowing what there was really to do in Leesburg, I agreed. I expected to encounter a town with not that much to do, but I was wrong. It had many great treasures, things to do and places to go! Here were some of my experiences:
1) South King Street: This is a must if you want to eat good food and explore some cool boutiques and antique shops. I personally went to King Street Oyster Bar and Shoe's Cup and Cork, both were amazing. King Street Oyster Bar has unreal happy hour deals and a cool vibe inside the restaurant. Shoe's Cup and Cork has a fantastic menu as well, and the interior is even cooler. They have an outdoor "secret" patio with bocce ball and tables. In this fall weather, they give blankets out to people eating outside, along with heaters that decorated the back. This street overall radiates an old time feel that I want to keep coming back to.
2) Wineries: There are many different wineries in or near Leesburg as well that are worth driving to. I went to Boxwood Estate and Cana Vineyards. Boxwood is very modern and Cana is very picturesque. Both of these were in Middleburg, which is close to Leesburg, but Leesburg also has many as well.
3) Leesburg Outlets: There are many great stores and brands here. It's a nice outdoor complex with great deals on big brand names.
4) Polo tournament: In Aldie and Middleburg there are Polo tournaments. You pay $25 to enter and there is food, alcohol and the joy of watching a polo tournament. It's definitely something you don't see everyday.
5) HogsBack Mountain and Morven Park: These are the first two activities that pop up when you type in "what to do in Leesburg". Morven park has some beautiful gardens and a mansion that you can explore and Hogsback has some hiking that is not too hard!
Twitter and Insta: @ericaamatori
Three weeks is a long time to be living in a hotel. Not only did I find myself being an outfit repeater on several occasions, but elements of home were missing as well. However, there were no real down point while visiting California. The weather was a cross between summer and fall, and the brunch was always perfect. While I was there, I tried to explore every part of California on the weekends from the golden gate bridge to Yosemite. Here are some of my many adventures!
Golden Gate Bridge
We got a group and took an Uber to the view point on the other side of San Francisco. The lookout there was really nice, but I personally liked the view from the San Francisco side better. Walking or biking the bridge is a must, as you get to fully appreciate the view from all angles. If you go, make sure the day is clear and not foggy! We had slight fog, but nothing too unbearable.
Overall, I like New York City’s China town the best. DC and SF can’t beat it. However, their China town is still pretty cool to explore! Of course you run into the tourist-y shops and classic Chinese food, but what I found particularly nice was the architecture. One of the buildings has terracotta soldiers lining the roof. Furthermore, the Chinese lanterns and murals make the street complete. While you’re there, you might as well pop into a karaoke bar and sing your heart out. Coit tower is not too far away and is something you may want to do if 360 views of San Francisco is an interest (It's $8 to go up).
I found this cooler than China town. First of all, you MUST get the ramen while you’re there. The day we went, Japan town was throwing a festival with Japanese street food and music which was super fun. Overall, it’s a clean and booming place to go…and yes, it also has karaoke bars. Make sure to throw some sake bombs down!
This street is very funky! It has cool consignment shops, hippy stores and great food. You may even see a parade of nude people marching on the sidewalks (which is what we experienced). I found some boutique clothes stores that I liked as well. Overall, it’s an area with a lot of spunk. Mission is also a cool area to go to for a fun bar experience.
Piers (Fishermans Wharf and pier 39)
I’m not a huge fan of tourist-y things, so obviously this wasn’t really my scene. Personally, I found the pier to be quite dirty and VERY crowded. The food is not great and overpriced. If you go to the piers, you want to see the views, ships and maybe shop for souvenirs. I must admit though, sometimes they have cool exhibits going on. It gets cold by the water, so make sure to always bring a coat!
You get what you came for: some colorful Victorian buildings. However, the history behind it is quite intriguing. It was made/created for just a couple thousand and is now worth a couple million.
YNapa and Sonoma Wine tour
One weekend we took a wine tour to 3 winery’s and stopped in a cute village for lunch (Yountville). Click here for the tour we took. I thought it was a great tour for the price and what’s included. My favorite winery was the Andretti Winery. It is very Italian, has gorgeous views and a fantastic villa. (They also weren’t skimpy on the wine tastings!) All 3 are cool though and let you explore different areas of how wine is made. For example, the Madonna Estate Winery gave us a tour of how they barrel wine and the proper etiquette on tasting it. The village we stopped in was very scenic and had multiple Michelin star restaurants, along with shopping. It is an all-day activity, but well worth it!
Yosemite National Park and Big Trees State Park
Another weekend we decided to hike. In Yosemite we hiked the Mist trail up to the first waterfall and the Mirror lake trail. I 100% recommend the mist trail. It's a steep hike with hills and steps, but the waterfall is something to look at. Take lunch up there and eat it at the top! (Be careful of the squirrels though, they are quite friendly …and fat) On the flip side, I do not recommend the mirror lake trail. What you think will be a lake is a stream. California is known for droughts, and this trail confirms it. On the bright side, it’s a flat trail and has a good view of the rocks.
Big Trees State park was a cool surprise! The trees there are HUGE (and when I say huge, I mean 26 ft across). Visit the big stump and the tree you can walk under. Another place within the park I would recommend is the river! After the hike, it’s a nice place to go to cool off.
Mori Point and Millbrae
Last but not least, I would recommend Mori Point. This is in Millbrae and is a short, beautiful hike. At the top you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of ocean and mountains. This is a hidden gem for sure. Also, (to give some context) I stayed in Millbrae while I was in California. Some cool, nearby places to check out if you ever stay there are San Mateo and Burlingame. San Mateo has some great Japanese and Chinese restaurants and Burlingame has some fun bars (Vinyl room, Steelhead brewery and Barrel House) and a worthwhile shopping scene. It also may be worthwhile to checkout some beaches while you’re there too! (I went to Baker’s beach, but it was a bit cold) Though if surfing is your thing, go for it!
Thanks for reading and hopefully this can help you decide where to go on your next trip to California! If you want to see an awesome video of 5 guys biking California, click here to check it out! The video captures some amazing views of CA!
By: Erica Amatori | Twitter, Snapchat, Insta: @ericaamatori
When we made it to the caves and lowered down into the caverns, the temperature immediately dropped 20 degrees. It was draped with stalagmites and stalactites with lights shining on the waves of carved rock. There was even a time capsule, which would be an exciting event to experience once opened. My personal favorite was the mirror pool shown below. (The rocks and colorful lights reflected in the pool) Fun fact: the cave was discovered by young kids who climbed down, but thought it was too dark and climbed back up. (did they ever miss a life time opportunity)
After exploring the caves, we headed to the mountains and hiked up to the White Oak Canyon Waterfall in the Shenandoah National Park. The awesome part about this specific location is the natural slide on the little waterfall! The water is cold, but very refreshing. We passed the time by making a rock statue. After everyone left, we decided to put up our tent and camp on the rocks that make up the waterfall. Was it comfortable? Not exactly, but with a little more preparation, it could have been! How was the view? Amazing, and nothing is better than sleeping with the sound of running water right outside your tent.
Waking up at 6 am, we headed out to the next hike and took our tent down. Keep in mind we lived off of pop tarts and beef jerky, so the energy level was lowwwww. After miles of hiking, we made it to the top of Old Rag Mountain. The first part of the hike was a typical path, but the second part was a fun boulder climb. Hopping from rock to rock was a great feeling, especially with the wind blowing! After eating the last of our pop tarts, we headed back down. It felt accomplishing finishing all of it (caves, camping and hiking) in 24 hours. But what felt even better was scoffing down two breakfast sandwiches and a whole lot of coffee after!
Erica Amatori | Twitter, Insta & Snapchat: @ericaamatori
Koh Phi Phi
This was one of my favorite islands. The town is definitely catered more towards tourists, that being said, the town is bustling with life and great food! We stayed in Blanco Bar Hostel (Aka the party hostel). Make sure to go on a boat party, they take you to wonderful beaches and have unlimited drinks. Also while your there, get a 60-minute Thai massage for 250 baht (around $7) or a pedicure for the same price. Just beware of the tattoos.
Krabi has two gorgeous beaches in walking distance, one called Railay beach. The other beach has a path filled with monkeys. We saw more than 20! Resorts on the island are all top notch and very cheap. While you're there you can kayak, rock climb, book an elephant tour, etc.
Koh Pha Ngan
I was only here for one day, and of course, that day we were there for the Full Moon Party. This party is one of the biggest parties in the world. It happens once a month. There were about 40k people there dancing on the beach. This island is known for partying as they also have the half moon party, the waterfall party and the rainforest party. There are tons of young people and tons of mopeds.
I spent some nights in Koh San road and some in Sukhumvit. In Koh San, it is definitely more of a cultural experience, more rural. Sukhumvit is more of a city where you will see more tourists. We went to the Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun, and the Grand Palace. These temples are out of this world and are very intricate. Koh San Road and central world is great for shopping. Lastly, the Chatuchack market (only on Saturday and Sunday) and the Pak Klong Talat flower market are unreal. The best place to shop is actually at the Chatuchak market. Clothes, food, souvenirs, furniture, etc surrounded me. Rooftop bars are also a must when staying in Bangkok.
-Spaghetti strap shirts and crop tops are out
-Always take shoes off
-The wai is a how Thais greet each other
-Thailand is cash based society so credit cards are rarely used
-Make sure to drive on the left side of the road.
-Thank you: “Kap-kun-kah” (kop-coon-kaaaaa)
-Eat off your spoon, not your fork
-People don’t stand in lines
-Take tuk-tuks during the day and taxis at night
-Cover up your elbows and knees when visiting temples
-Don’t take a taxi driver’s word, tell the to start the meter
-The BTS (Subway) and MRT (Light Rail) are cheap, convenient, and fast
-Mangoes and croissants are amazing there
HERE IS A VIDEO OF MY TRIP!!
-Tom Yum Goong (best thai soup)
-Som Tum (papaya salad)
-Tom Kha Kai (chicken coconut soup)
-Gaeng Daeng (red curry)
-Pad Thai (duh)
-Khao Pad (fried rice)
-Pad Krapow Moo Saap (basil and pork)
-Gaeng Keon Wai Kai (green chicken curry)
-Yam Nua (spicy beef salad)
-Kai Med Ma Muang (chicken with cashews)
-Cha Yen (refreshing tea and milk drink)
-Khao khai jew (fried thai egg)
📝 Erica Amatori Twitter & Insta: @ericaamatori
The Press Lounge
Exhausted from the grind at work? Mingle at the hottest spot in Manhattan. Look into the eyes of a successful business man while looking into the heart of the city. Wish to be in the pristine pool (because you can't swim in it) and dress classy at this rooftop bar, no flip-flops allowed. Cocktails may be a little pricey, but that also carries the price tag of a gorgeous panoramic view.
A beautiful inside and outdoor lounge with a bar that has drink specials that will rock your world. Enjoy the view of New York City behind a shimmering pool deck. It's a very spacious rooftop that can hold enough people to keep you busy the whole night. Surprise, there may even be a chance of running into a famous individual. A popular place among the stars, this hotel is one you want to stay or catch an event at (last time I went, Kim Kardashian was in the building).
A modern venue with a touch of disco is what the Hudson Terrace brings to the table. A dance floor with colorful, flashy lights and disco ball completes the happening atmosphere, not to mention a rooftop that can be on or off depending on the weather. See the sky change color throughout the evening whether you are lounging on a couch or dancing the night away.
Scholastic Greenhouse & Terrace
This hidden gem has an elegant outdoor patio. Everything from weddings to business events to casual parties can be held on this rooftop. Enjoy a combination of industrial and green scenery either inside a glass room or outside on deck. Make an evening special and book this venue or find events on the terrace.
The High Line is a must see when visiting NYC, but a trip to the Standard rooftop is another. Feel on top of the world while relaxing by the bar or on the green. Experience the Hudson River and New Jersey skyline while looking out into the financial district.
Brooklyn Apartment Rooftops
Not part of the Top 5 since it is not available to everyone, but definitely a must if you are renting an apartment or have a friend that lives in New York. Brooklyn is especially a great place to live if you want a view at anytime without the expensive entry or drink specials. This picture was taken from a friends rooftop. Sometimes the best hang out area is on a roof at home with music and drinks.
📝 Erica Amatori Twitter & Insta: @ericaamatori
A beautiful walk between the industrial side and the gardens of New York. Catch it at sunrise or sunset, both are just as breathtaking. Maybe go to the Chelsea Market and pick up some sandwiches to picnic on the grass. Try taking a bite of the delicious ice cream from the food deck.
Are you guys both foodies? Definitely hit up the Saturday Williamsburg food fest or the one in Brooklyn Sunday. Taste the ramen burger, Ethiopian curries, teriyaki balls, lobster rolls, wood burning pizza and more! Better yet, the skyline view at both locations will make for a perfect evening.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Child at heart? Go on the swings, kayak for free, play soccer, bounce the volleyball around...the activities are endless. Feel like exploring even further? Go on a ferry to governors island from the park for an unexpected adventure. There are also barbecues if you want to cook some burgers.
Always a great idea. Drinks and a view, enough said.
A good laugh and a crude comedian is sometimes the best ice breaker there is. Skip the awkward talk and just enjoy the show, after it will give you something to talk about.
Central Park Summerstage Concert
There are tons of bands performing and from every country, and the best part is that they are all free! Jazz, electronic, indie...you name the genre and they will have it. After the concert, you could always visit the boathouse and take a gondola or boat ride for an extra 15-30 bucks.
Southstreet Seaport Move Nights
On certain nights there are movies near the pier. The cobblestone roads and surrounding beer garden makes the night even more memorable. Sometimes there are concerts as well. Take a stroll on the pier at night to look at the Brooklyn skyline and bridge behind the giant ships.
SPiN NY Ping Pong Bar
Play ping pong while drinking, pretty simple. It's fun and great for group dates. Not only that, but you may even run into a star, many visit this hot spot!
Want to get real awkward? Go to the Sex Museum
If you want to break the ice right away or know your date pretty well, go to the Sex Museum to mix it up.
📝 Erica Amatori Twitter & Insta: @ericaamatori
Boating in DC
There are multiple locations (7 actually) where you can sail, paddle board, kayak, etc. Every location has a different but beautiful view. Here is the link if you want to see rental prices and locations: http://www.boatingindc.com/boat-rentals . Water activities are great to do on a hot day in DC!
National Mall Monuments
It's always nice to walk, or even take a jog, through the national mall to see everything from the Capital Building to the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial and World War 2 Memorial are especially breathtaking at night. Near the Capitol Building are the botanical gardens, which are worth taking a look at. On top that, the mall has some awesome shady spots perfect for picnics!
Great Falls Park
This park really blew me away. Although it's not in DC, it is pretty close (McLean, VA). The waterfalls/rapids are truly impressive and not something expected in the city. Furthermore, there are many hikes you can do. However, if you are not up to hike, that's fine! The 3 waterfall view points are a 3 minute walk from the parking lot. While you're there, bring a hammock, frisbee and some food to throw on the grill. There are tons of Barbecues and picnics going on.
National Harbor DC
Go at night or day, both are fun options for a date! There are tons of trendy and tasty restaurants surrounded by a carnival-like atmosphere. Take a ride on some swan boats, a carousel or even a ferris wheel. After that, you can grab some ice cream and sit on the small beach by the ferris wheel.
Museums & Galleries
Interested in art, culture or history? Well, there are many museums and galleries around the National Mall you can wonder around for free. Many times these galleries will have drinking events that can be quite fun...or maybe you sneak something in ;)
This street is great for shopping or getting some awesome food. It's the home of Baked and Wired and my favorite restaurant Farmers Fishers Bakers (on the waterfront). Crumbs and Whiskers is DC's very first cat cafe where you can drink some coffee and pet some cats, so that could make for an interesting day. The Washington harbor (different from the National Harbor) is also beautiful with many fountains and pretty walks. It's great for biking or a run as well.
In the mood to laugh? Go to DC Improv to see a show. It's even a restaurant so you don't get hungry.
📝 Erica Amatori Twitter & Insta: @ericaamatori