3/20/18

Kauai with an Adventerous Toddler

We have always wanted to go to Hawaii, but living in NYC, that flight just did NOT seem realistic.  Now that we live in LA, we decided it was time to finally check out the Hawaii Magic!  We decided on Kauai as our destination and decided against island hopping, to keep it as stress free as possible with our 16 month old.  I spent WEEKS researching and planning this trip, and I wanna share all my finds with YOU!



We divided up the trip and did half in Princeville (north shore) and half at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu (south shore).  The entire trip was cloudy and rainy, so some of the things we had planned didn't work out.  But we were still able to do SO MUCH despite the weather.


First off, I highly recommend renting a car.  We were not planning to, and OMG I am so glad we did.  There is no way we could have survived without one.  We used TURO, which i am obsessed with.  You rent right from the owner, it's awesome - and you can get the car delivered right to the airport, win!

When on the North Shore, there are SO many little hidden beaches.  The waves crash pretty far out, so these spots are fun and safe for little ones (note there are no lifeguards, so stay safe and aware).  We LOVED Anini Beach, and I hear it's a great place to snorkel.  We only got to walk along the beach since it was raining, but it was so beautiful!



Another must see is Hanalei Town, Pier and Bay.  The little town of Hanalei has tons of shops and restaurants.   I ate all of the burritos & tacos from every mexican place around - YUM.  The pier and bay are STUNNING.  Even in the rain it was amazing, I can only imagine how awesome it would be to layout and swim there.  The water was calm - and I'm told there are usually snorkel rentals all over the area.



Another AWESOME spot we loved was Lydgate State Park and Beach.  This was Poppy's FAVE! It is an ENORMOUS playground made of wood.  Caves, slides, climbing galore! And it was right off the beach, so of course we ran around there after.





One thing I did NOT know about Kauai was the wild chickens that are EVERYWHERE.  I mean it was pretty hilarious.  On our first day we ate at the CUTEST little spot that is perfectly on the way to Princeville from Lihue airport.  It's called EAT HEALTHY and it was PERFECT! Poppy fed her quesadilla accidently to some chickens and then the chickens decided to jump on the table and eat all our food - this seemed to be a recurring theme of our entire trip.  So yeah, BEWARE OF CHICKENS!


Despite the rain, we explored SO much of Kauai's amazing north shore.  We spent hours and hours in the car, driving around, jumping in and out of the car to snap pics, walk on empty beaches and explore.  After a few days of exploration we drove down to the south shore to stay at the amazing Grand Hyatt Kauai.  We were hoping for a few days of relaxing at the pool and beach, but the sun still didn't come out for us.  Even without the sun, we still got to experience this incredible resort.

You walk in to the lobby and the ocean is PERFECTLY framed by their open layout.  Our room had an OCEAN VIEW and a balcony that was to die for.



The weather didn't stop us from enjoying the MANY pools, the multitude of restaurants, direct beach access and even a few little hikes right off the property.





On our last night at the Grand Hyatt we were able to attend their Luau.  It was absolutely AMAZING! It was held indoors due to weather, but the entire spectacle was still not to miss.  The food was so good.  The standout was the pork - I am still craving it!  The dancers and the show was spot on.  Poppy was totally glued! She kept running up to the stage to watch closer.  Definitely something you do not wanna miss!


ROUND UP! Here is a quick guide to all the things WE think you can't miss in Kauai.

Food:
Eat Healthy Kauai - get the acai bowl. watch out for chickens. VERY kid friendly.
La Spezia Kauai - don't miss the banana pancakes.  kid friendly
Aloha Roastery - DELISH coffee
Little Fish Coffee- acai bowls and coffee.  watch out for chickens. outdoor eating
Anuenue Cafe - amazing breakfast!
Keokis Paradise - great place to go for Dinner - kid friendly - yummy fresh local seafood

Sights:
Lydgate Beach Park - wooden playground - lots of fun! Pretty beaches/picnic tables
Lighthouse at Kilauea Point
Hanalei Pier/town/beach
Anini Beach
Jack Harter Helicopter tour - not for babies. Epic views.
Queens Bath - advanced/scary hike - not for the faint of heart.
Secret Beach
Tunnel Beach

Stay:
Grand Hyatt Kauai.  amazing views. amazing resort extra kid friendly!

Mahalo!


2/5/18

Down is What's Up! Downtown NYC

DOWNTOWN NYC is what's up! (At least it is now, that's for sure.)



I moved to Manhattan in 2002 right after 9/11.  I settled into the dorms at Pace University (where I was going to school for Musical Theatre) and spent 4 years downtown.  Back then, Downtown NYC was almost a ghost-town.  I remember moving in, just a couple blocks away from the remains of the World Trade Center.  I remember thinking 'where in the world am I and what happened to the city I was SO obsessed with'.  Back then, when I would walk home from class, I would rarely even see someone on the street, and forget about finding a bar or restaurant to chill in. It just didn't exist.  Today, Downtown Manhattan is home to over 61.000 residents which is TRIPLE the population from when I lived there!  

Fast forward to now - it's 2018, my family and I moved to Los Angeles (after living in midtown manhattan for many years) and I have to admit, I rarely thought back to those times living downtown.  This month, we headed back to NYC for a little trip and decided to stay Downtown, because embarrassingly enough, all those years of living in Midtown, I made it back downtown only once or twice.  I was curious to see what it would be like to re-visit my old stomping grounds.



We checked into the Millenium Hilton New York Downtown , right across from One World Trade.  OMG. THE  FEELS.  Walking up to the door, I could see the reflection of the freedom tower behind me and I instantly felt so much excitement to explore.  The room was H U G E. Admittedly, bigger than some of my NYC apartments, and the view was breathtaking. Out of the bedroom window, the Freedom Tower and the beautiful memorial were RIGHT there.  I could also see each reflection pool - the reflection pools have the names of all of the victims of the 9/11 and 1993 attacks.  Little known fact - the names are in relational order to how they knew each other.  Brothers near brothers. Fathers by their sons. Co-workers together.  Isn't that amazing?




Each window had a new view of the amazing downtown skyline.  Poppy was mesmerized! She loved sitting by the windows and looking at all the lights.  Although she was born in NYC, she had never been Downtown. (Subways with a newborn baby?! no way!)




Our three days in Downtown NYC was NOWHERE near enough, but we jam packed it with some awesome eats, sights and memories.  There are about 525 restaurants and bars in Downtown NYC so quite a variety to choose from.  From Michelin-starred restaurants to bars like the Dead Rabbit and Blacktail (that win cocktail awards left and right) to some faves of mine - Eataly (Grabbed lunch almost everyday here I'm addicted, what can I say?), Le District, PARM (We got the most EPIC chicken parm heros from here OMG!) - Had DELICIOUS pizza - because NYC - and of course the options are just SO GOOD.  



Downtown NYC has definitely changed SO much since I lived here.  There is such a creative & visual vibe down here now.  The Oculus is an architecturally and visually amazing sight. Fulton street station looks like a futuristic hub.  The BEST views in all of NYC can be seen from the Observatory at One World Trade.  And Shopping? UM AMAZING STORES EVERYWHERE YOU TURN! Some of my fave spots to shop at were RIGHT outside the hotel - ZARA, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and then of course Century 21.  



There is SO much heart in the resurgence of the neighborhood.  I am so glad that my little family and I could explore a bit and take in some of the many beautiful things Downtown NYC has to offer.  We are already planning our next trip back! Until next time, NYC! xxxxx