Friday, February 16, 2018

California

California is a huge state, the 3rd largest actual, and I have only seen a small portion of it. Mostly Disneyland, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles 

The City of Angels, or at least that's what Los Angeles means. I'm not exactly sure what angels live there currently, but that is neither here nor there. It is a huge town. I mean huge. There are almost 4 million people in the area. Let's talk about the highlights! Obviously, Disneyland is number 1 on my list, but I have already done a complete blog post about that so I won't talk about it here, but you gotta go.

Hollywood Sign
Good luck getting a perfect photo. You can't get too close to the sign anymore without paying a huge fine for trespassing. I think the best place is Griffith Observatory. Not only can you see the sights of LA from above but the Observatory is a stunning place as well. Also Beachwood Canyon Drive you can see the Hollywood sign and the sign for Hollywoodland :)


Hollywood Walk of Fame 
Everyone knows what this is. This is where you can walk through Hollywood and see the stars of some of your favorite actresses and actors. There are more than 2,600 stars on over 15 blocks. There are maps you can buy that will allow you to find your favorite star!





Chinese Theatre 
Absolutely beautiful theatre that still functions as a theatre. In front of the theatre is where you can find all of the handprints of the stars! It's considered a great honor to get your handprints in front of the theatre! Make sure you keep your belongs close to you! Pick-pockets are in abundance here. Across from the Chinese Theatre is Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store! The ice cream is wonderful! I'd check that out!!


Rodeo Drive 
If you are like most girls in the world, then Rodeo Drive has all the shopping you could need. It's 2 miles long and stuffed full of high-end shopping. Versace, Harry Winston, and Dior to name a few. 


Studio Tours 
There are a couple tours you can do, probably the most popular are the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Paramount Pictures Studio Tour. I have not done one yet, however I have heard really good things about them!! 

Movie Tours 
There are probably 100 different companies that will take you around LA looking at movie star houses and different places where movie scenes are from. Just make sure you actually pick a reputable company and not some random guy off the street! 



Laguna Beach 
If you are a fan of Lauren Conrad (Laguna Beach and the Hills star and an idol of mine), then you must make the trek to Laguna Beach. It's about an hour drive outside of LA, towards San Diego. 

Just one view of the ocean in Laguna

An amazing place to eat is Las Brisas. It can be pricey but the views it boasts especially during the sunset is worth it. 

Finally in Laguna is the famous San Juan Capistrano Mission. Founded in 1775, it has been a cultural icon in California for years. It was made famous due to the swallows that make their home here every year. The swallows migrate from their winter home in Argentina to the mission. It should definately be on your list of places to visit, it is beautiful and rich with history and culture. 

The bells at the mission



San Diego
2 hours south of LA, is this beautiful town. Well I've heard it's beautiful, I've only ever been to the zoo! From what I hear though there are amazing beaches and great places to eat! 

The San Diego Zoo
It costs about $54 to get in, but in my opinion it is the best zoo I've ever been too. It had a good bit on animals and has PANDAS! I have yet to go to a zoo in the states that has Pandas! The line is super long, but totally worth it to see these cuddly animals. 




That is all I have for California at the moment! Any questions, let me know!!

graceparsons2023@gmail.com



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Nevada

Nevada! The home of Las Vegas, the gangster paradise or it was at one time. Nevada is not just about Las Vegas, there are multiple areas to see/play. However, I have only been to Vegas and the Hoover Dam. I would love to see Lake Tahoe, Reno and Carson City one day.


Las Vegas 
Las Vegas became the big city in 1930 when the Hoover Dam was being built. The mafia built up the casinos and showgirls because of the influx of men coming into the area for the building of the dam and that is how Vegas was born.

There are many many things to do in Vegas.
The hotels on the strip are all different themes, like the Venetian, Treasure Island, and New York, New York. My personal favorite is the New York, New York because of the rollercoaster, and they have the best bar in Vegas. The Bar at Times Square is a dueling piano bar. I have spent a lot of time at this bar singing and dancing! :)



Bellagio - has the iconic water show that has been a staple for several years! Monday through Friday there is a show every half hour from 3pm-8pm then from 8pm-midnight is every 15 minutes. Saturday and Sunday the show is every half hour from noon-8pm and from 8pm-midnight every 15 minutes.



Stratosphere - One of the tallest hotels on the strip, and on the end of the strip. There is an observation deck and all kinds of thrill rides including a sky jump. Definitely, a must see while on the strip!

View from the observation deck


Venetian - Probably the crown jewel of the Vegas strip and my other favorite place to stay. It is beautiful and reminds me of Rome with all the fountains and shops. It's beautiful and if you don't stay there at least make a point to go visit and shop :)




There is so much more in Vegas. There are shows, shopping, and so so many food options, that to list everything would be exhaustive and would take forever. Be sure to take in a show and a buffet, I enjoy the buffet in Paris a lot :)



Hoover Dam 
The Hoover Dam was started in 1931 and completed in 1936. There are multiple multiple tour companies that will take you from Vegas to the Hoover Dam. There are also tours that will take you into the Dam itself. Prices vary depending on the actual tour. Make sure you get a "2 places at once" photo. The dam is located on Lake Mead and on the border between Nevada and Arizona. It is technically in two different time zones! Also, rub the feet of the winged figures are good luck!

Two places at once! 

Rubbing the feet for good luck! 












Saturday, December 30, 2017

Louisiana

Home of amazing Cajun food and some of the nicest people I've ever met! I've only been to New Orleans for a half marathon but I really want to see Baton Rouge and Shreveport!


New Orleans
Home of Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and nicknamed the "Big Easy", you can easily see how it got it's name. An amazing blend of French, African and American cultures makes this city a must see for an traveler.

Jackson Square - is a National Historical Landmark since it was the place where the Louisiana Purchase was made. It is one of the most photographed places in the world and it's easy to see why. It is called Jackson Square for Andrew Jackson, when he won the 1815 Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 with the British. All around the square is adorable shops to stroll through. When I was there the entire outside of the park had artists showing off their work.
Cafe du Monde - is right on the corner off of Jackson Square and is world famous for their beignets.
Saint Louis Cathedral with Andrew Jackson Statue in front


Bourbon Street - I'm going to be honest here, I barely remember Bourbon street. I left my dignity and all of my stomach contents here. There is a 5-6 bars at least on every block and I only remember 2 (I'm a light weight). Be prepared here, since there are A) a lot of drunks B) it smells (with good reason) and C) pickpockets. 
One thing I will say is to get your taro cards read. I'm not exactly a believer, however the guy who did mine was exactly on the money with everything. He said I would go back to school (I'm almost done with my MBA now), I would find the man I was going to marry within 6 months (it was 3 months and I found him), and I would own a farm with chickens (I do now). 

Bourbon Street


Airboat/Alligator Tour - This was probably the highlight of my trip. I used Airboat Adventures in Lafitte and it was amazing. My guide was named T-Earl (I was a little in love with him. It was the accent.) He was extremely professional fun and knowledgable even if he wouldn't let me drive the boat. I highly recommend them! And you can even hold a baby alligator!! 
The Boat

They bring Alligators right to the boat with marshmellows

The beautiful bayou

Holding the baby alligator! 

Food

We ate at Huck Finn's. I had the jambalya and it was fabulous! 



That is all I have right now! Any questions let me know!
graceparsons2023@gmail.com


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Illinois

I have been to Illinois twice, the first time to visit Chicago and the second to run the half marathon in Chicago as well. I wasn't a huge fan of Chicago. Mainly because I could go to NYC for the same drive to Chicago, but that doesn't mean Chicago doesn't have its perks!


Chicago
Allow me to give you a little perspective. There is a river that runs right through the middle of Chicago, the Chicago River. On the south side of the river are the parks and the majority of the museums. The north side of the river is the Magnificent Mile which holds all the shopping!


Let's start with the south side of the river. There are a few things that you must see!
The Bean - its actually called Cloud Gate, however, no one really calls it that. It is beautiful and truly a work of art.



Chicago Theater - an absolute beauty and would have loved to see a Broadway show here one day!


Shedd Aquarium - a wonderful place to spend the afternoon! Especially if it's cold!
Adler Planetarium - another wonderful place to spend the afternoon.
Art Institute - a perfect way to see the newest art around!


Sears Tower - it is now called Willis Tower but everyone knows it as Sears Tower. You can go up to the 103rd floor and go out on the Skydeck. It is a glass deck that overhangs the top deck. It is glass on all sides and for the brave ones who step out on the ledge good luck because it's glass bottom as well.



View from the Top




The North Side

This is mostly all the shops, however, there is the Navy Pier that is a great place with lots of food and amusement for the children.

Tribune Tower - the beautiful Gothic tower with stones from various famous landmarks. Definitely worth seeing for sure!

Historic Water Tower - Towards the very end of the Magnificent Mile is the historic Water Tower which currently holds the city gallery.



This is all I have for Illinois for now! I have a trip planned to Springfield in the next few months so look out for that!

any questions let me know!
graceparsons2023@gmail.com

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Massachusetts

I first came to this state on a road trip with some friends! We came right after Halloween so the leaves were absolutely beautiful and still on the trees! Then last year Jason and I came to Boston to see his beloved Red Sox and sit on the Green Monster (must do so awesome!).


Boston
Ok, the main city in Massachusetts! It is a perfect blend of old and new with the right amount of sass. Yes, you heard me sass! Let's be real most of the people that live in this area are/were from Ireland aka the king country of sass.


Fenway Park - you have to go at least once, and if you have the means, go sit on the Green Monster and try to catch a home run (good luck they are flying up there).



On top of the Green Monster!

Sitting on Top of the Green Monster

Freedom Trail - a 2.5-mile long trail marked by bricks that hit a bunch of historical sites! 16 sites to be exact. Most of the sites are free or ask for donations, but the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere House require tickets. Old North Church is included in this walking tour. You know "1 if by land 2 if by sea"! 

Old North Church


The Freedom Trail does omit the Liberty Tree (the gathering place for Revolutionists) and the Boston Tea Party (which you really should go throw some tea into the Harbor -- do not say I told you to!!)


Harvard - at least go and take a walk around the commons! It is a beautiful campus! I was lucky enough that I had a friend going to school here and he gave me a tour! Also, try out Insomnia Cookies for all your late night sweet fixes! (SO GOOD) 
Harvard

Harvard

Harvard


 Finally, the Smoke Shop in Cambridge (by Harvard) is one of the best BBQ joints I have ever eaten at!!!


Gloucester 
Easily my favorite town in Massachusetts. I will have to say when my friend begged to go, I was against it. I didn't think we had time/wasn't anything of interest here. Boy was I wrong! It is the oldest seaport in America and is quite possibly the most beautiful place I've ever seen. It's settled in the little bay like area. If you are looking out towards the Harbor on your right is Stage Fort Park and on your left is a lighthouse. There is a little boulevard like area right up on the water, where you can walk from end to end.
Map of Gloucester
Memorial on the Boulevard 

Stage Fort Park is beautiful and such a fun place to bring children! It has a little beach area for swimming in the summer as well as several paths for picnicking and exploring. 


Eastern Point Lighthouse is the name of the lighthouse you can see on your left! It was featured in the movie Perfect Storm. You are not permitted on the grounds since it is an active lighthouse, but there is a walkway out to the middle of the harbor that gives amazing views! 
Walkway in the Harbor

Pondering life in the middle of the Harbor

Salem
If you love Halloween like me, then you definitely have seen/love Hocus Pocus. The entire reason why we went to Salem was to do our own version of the Hocus Pocus movie tour. Salem also has various witch museums along with a maritime museum. 








Town Hall - where they Danced til they die! 



Memorial

Old Salem Graveyard

The Hocus Pocus house! 

The pilgrim museum where the Sanderson Sisters live 



Plymouth
I'm putting this in here for completeness. But this is not worth anyone's time. Literally, Plymouth rock is a rock in the sand with a date on it. You can't even touch it! There are some replicas of the ships Christopher Columbus came over here in, but you have to pay to see them. 
Plymouth Rock

The Replica ship


Cape Cod and Provincetown
The beaches are amazing at Cape Cod and Provincetown is an adorable little community! We drove through here and stopped to play on the beaches and then ended our day in Provincetown for dinner! There are a lot of shops and food places in Provincetown that makes it definitely worth spending your summer week on vacation here! 



One of the roads to the Cape Cod Coast


Delicious food!! 


Ok, that is all I have for now on Massachusetts!! 

any questions let me know! graceparsons2023@gmail.com