Posts in Lifestyle
LBI Guide
Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Long Beach Island (aka LBI) is such a special place to me. My mom fell in love with the island when she was a teenager and went there with her friend. During the summers when she was in college and grad school she would rent a ‘hut’ (as she calls it) and waitress down there. It was always her dream to have a house there one day. My dad would come down during those summers and crash with her and he fell it love with it too. When I was born they started renting a house for a week or 2 every summer!

Together, they made that dream of my mom’s come true! In 1999 began building our current beach house, which they lovingly named Tranquility. It was completed just in time for us to ring in Y2K. Our time in LBI growing up is what childhood dreams are truly made of. They were the most purely happy and simple moments of my life so doing things like eating an elephant ear literally tastes like my childhood and makes me feel so happy. We went from rolling in the dunes as babies to hosting lemonade stands in the driveways as kids to trolling Bay Village looking to flirt with boys as preteens and then working at Farias as teenagers. I cringe just thinking about my times at the teen club at the Ketch! During my teenage years, my parents continued to be so generous and let me have tons of girls & guys down to stay at our house (in hindsight this sounds miserable for them and they were just so endlessly generous).

When Jay and I started dating, we went down there alone in the winter because I was itching to show him this special place (and let’s be real, play house alone). My parents hosted his family that summer, when they met for the first time (and began a yearly tradition). Jay fell totally in love with LBI. Just like with my parents, it started as my happy place and quickly became our place. I am so grateful that he gets the magic of it…the simple way of living and family friendly feel. We even got married there, which was a life long dream of mine and eventually Jay’s as well.

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

It is truly our family’s home and not a ‘vacation house’ as people might assume. It is where I go to do my recoveries after surgery while my mom nurses me back to health. This Fall, my dad died at the house, which has obviously rooted up a lot of complex emotions. I am ultimately grateful that if he had to die a premature death, that it was in his favorite place…his and our beloved Tranquility.

If you are lucky enough to get to go to this wonderful island, I hope that this guide will serve you well! Our house is in Brant Beach so that impacts where we frequent more to a degree. It’s a long because its super comprehensive so I hope it’s helpful!

Stay

Long Beach Island is just a little island, with local hotels and lots of house rentals. If you'd like help finding the best accommodations for you, I may be able to help so shoot me an email carly.robinson@smartflyer.com or fill out this contact form.

Image taken at our    Rehearsal Dinner    at The Gables

Image taken at our Rehearsal Dinner at The Gables

Eat

Breakfast: 

  • Uncle Wills Pancake House: A classic, no frills establishment with great breakfast. It really is the perfect, traditional pancake house. Expect a line if you don't call ahead and put your name down on the list. Kids can request to sit with Uncle Will aka the pig statue.

  • Ferraras bakery: The BEST doughnuts ever! The buttercream filled doughnuts are one of my favorite things in the whole world and the jelly doughnuts are incredible.

  • Bagel Shack: Great spot to pick up some bagels but expect a line. The cinnamon sugar butter is that obvious/not-so-obvious type of genius.

  • Bagels & Beyond: Our go-to bagel shop. The jalapeño asiago cheese bagel is amazing and so is their crumb cake.

  • Frutta Bowl and Playa Bowl: Both spots are great healthy options for acai bowls, smoothies and oat bowls. Whichever is more convenient for your location will be perfect! You can place your order online in advance and Frutta bowls even delivers.

  • Living on The Veg: A healthy, vegan cafe with fresh green juices, tofu scrambles, etc.

Lunch:

  • The Local: This gourmet market was a welcome addition a few years back. They have grab and go options as well as a counter where you can order food to sit down and eat. They also have good baked goods and gourmet grocery items that you can buy to take home. Its on your way on/off the island.

  • Livin on The Veg: This is my go-to spot. It’s a little vegan cafe that’s in a casual hut. I usually get take out from here and I am so grateful to have a place with healthy options that are delicious. I love their wraps and salads but everything is great. My husband used to be so skeptical and refuse to get it and now that he actually tried it he is a big fan! Make sure to check their opening hours that day/call.

  • Pearl Street Market: We tend to go to The Local and our friends in Holgate tend to go to Pearl Street based on where we live. This is a great grab and go spot and a perfect place to get food for a group bbq.

  • Country Kettle Chowda: A hut in Bay Village to pick up your chowder to go (or eat in Bay Village). We couldn’t go to the area without picking up some for my dad.

  • Subs and Such: We honestly make sandwiches at the house a lot and there are so many good sub places on the island but this one was my dad’s favorite (he got them more than I did).

Image taken at our    Rehearsal Dinner    at The Gables

Image taken at our Rehearsal Dinner at The Gables

Dinner (sit down restaurants):

  • The Gables: This is in my top couple of restaurants on Earth. We had our rehearsal dinner there and I just love it so much. It is an experience being there because the setting just feels like you are in a magical garden. It is on par with NYC restaurants for pricing so it is a spot that is best for a nice date night. The food is great so in combination with the ambiance it’s a slam dunk. You just feel the magic when you are there. I love sitting out back in the garden and on the front patio with all of the flowers and can never decide which I like more. I like to go a couple of times each summer to experience both! Our rehearsal dinner was in the back garden so I think I am not favoring that! You can see pictures from it here. During the colder months, it has a cozy, antique vibe indoors as well. The accept reservations on Open Table. You can bring your own wine or beer here or order off the wine menu.

  • Parker's Garage: This is my go-to spot to bring a group of friends/family when they come down to stay with us. It’s a place where you can bring kids no problem but doesn’t feel targeted towards families…its for everyone! It’s located on the water and has a great view for the sunset! It has open air instead of windows so you feel partially like you are outdoors. We like to order the food tapas style and get a bunch of things for everyone to try! They accept reservations (with limitations) on Resy. They are BYOB.

  • Daddy O: Our other go-to spot for a nice dinner out. This restaurant feels a little more upscale/trendy than some others on the island. It’s a good date night spot but we tend to go here as a family or with friends. They have a lively bar and usually have live music playing. They also have a great rooftop bar, which is fun to visit for a pre-dinner drink. We have also gone there a few times for drinks and a casual dinner off the bar menu but finding seating can be tricky at times. They serve sushi here and a lot of fish dishes. They accept reservations on Open Table.

  • Blue Water Cafe: This is a family friendly restaurant with outdoor seating. It’s got that perfect ‘beach town restaurant’ feel. They have outdoor seating (with an awning above you), which doesn’t have a good view but is nice and in tone with the restaurant. They have great salads, fish, sandwiches, and so on. They don’t accept reservations and there’s usually a wait but they have an area where you can hang and drink (if you BYO) until your table is ready.

  • Yellow Fin: This is LBI’s fine dining experience. It’s a really small restaurant with a small menu. They aren’t super vegetarian friendly so its not my favorite but my family loves it so much. It’s hard to get a reservation so definitely schedule it in advance.

  • Black Whale: This place also doesn’t have a lot of vegetarian options but our friends love it. It’s great for seafood and seafood buckets.

Dinner (casual):

  • The Chicken or The Egg (aka the CHEG): We love this place so much. Jay went into our wedding planning saying that his one request was that we got the CHEG for our After Party. He ended up having a few more requests but getting wings from there remained very important to him! They have the best buffalo wings (and even veggie wings for vegetarians). We also love getting their buffalo fries, which are just fries with buffalo sauce on them…so good! We typically get this for take out and eat it at home because the wait is usually crazy long. It’s like a beach town diner with an edge so there are a lot of families and teenagers hanging out. I want to go during the week because the wait will likely be better. Pro tip when getting the fries to go: ask for the sauce on the side and then mix it in at home.

  • Pinky’s: We frequently get take out from here and do a ‘seafood feast’ at home. It’s super fresh seafood and you can order things family style to accommodate a group if you’d like!

  • Holiday Snack Bar: You feel like you traveled back in time to an old school diner when you go here. They keep it super simple with burgers, fries, pie, and things like that. It’s like an authentic Johnny Rockets.

  • Surf Taco: A casual taco shop where we tend to get Mexican food (I get the Mexican salad) to go from.

Sweet Treats:

  • Skipper Dipper Ice Cream Hands down the best ice cream on the island! You can find me frequenting Skipper Dipper without shame. They have really fresh ice cream, homemade waffle cones, awesome ice cream cakes, and just everything you could want. Another great ice cream place in downtown Beach Haven is Barry’s Do Me A Flavor. They also serve casual food there so there are always families getting a bite to eat and then ice cream there. There is pretty much always a long line at both. If I happen to be in Bay Village at night (which used to happen and doesn’t anymore really), then I love getting a waffles and ice cream from Windmill.

  • Ferraras Bakery Doughnuts: I would eat the white cream filled doughnuts any time of the day! They have other great baked goods as well.

  • Crust & Crumb Elephant Ears: A staple on the island. This literally tastes like my childhood in the best way.

  • Country Kettle Fudge: Another LBI staple.

Bars:

  • The Shell: This is an outdoor bar at the beach motel, The Shell. The bar is out by the pool and gets pretty rowdy with people of all ages. I like that it’s outdoors. It’s somewhere where you could see a wedding and a fist fight all within a couple hours of each other.

  • The Marlin: This is where a lot of younger people go but really people of all ages. They have live music a lot of nights. I rarely go here because I don’t go out to bars much with my injuries and if I do I want to be outdoors.

  • Nardis: This bar has a pink bus that stops throughout the island along the Boulevard (just call in advance) to pick you up and bring you home. I always loved this place because of that (especially in the pre-Uber era). It brings out an interesting crowd of people, which also makes it fun/funny. This bar is also indoors.

  • Daddy O Rooftop: The tamest of all of the bars on this list and also the one I frequent the most (although let’s be real, still not a ton haha). It’s where you would go to grab a drink or 2 before dinner if you wanted to be outdoors on a rooftop. It’s pricier than the others as well.

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Exercise

When I am in LBI I attend fitness classes at Black Sheep Studios. They have a great variety of classes and the instructors have an upbeat energy. They even offer classes on the beach sometimes, like Beach Boot Camp. It’s a studio that is very inclusive of women and men.  

Riding bikes is another great ‘low key’ way to get some activity in on your rest days. Since there are so many people out and about on the island, you can’t really ride fast enough for it to be an intense workout but it’s an enjoyable activity to get moving! I would suggest Farias Surf and Sport for bike rentals.

I wish that I was a surfer! I tried for a little while as a teenager (and even bought a board because I worked at Farias and thought I was cool..ugh) but I just am not good at it. If you are looking to rent a surf board and get out on the water though, you can do so at Farias Surf and Sport.

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Shop

  • Island Gypsy: My favorite clothing store on LBI (and one of my favorites in general). They have a ton of cute things at a great price point. It gets busy, especially during the weekends (and during bad weather) so there is often a long line for the dressing room and it can get a little chaotic in there with overpacked racks and such. They have great summer dresses/sets and loungewear that I love. At the end of the season they get great clothes for the Fall too. It definitely is aimed at a young demographic but there are plenty of items that are good for all ages too and my mom shops there with me!

  • How To Live: My favorite store to wander through. It makes you happy just being in there! They used to sell only home decor but they expanded a couple of years ago to sell women’s clothing and baby clothes. It’s a great spot to get cute gifts, particularly for anyone with a beach house. I love all of the signs and finding reading them to be inspiring. They have 2 locations but I mainly go to the Beach Haven location because its bigger (and right next to Uncle Wills).

  • Farias: This surf shop sells clothes and shoes for people of all ages. It is also where you can get a lot of rentals and beach equipment. This is one of my husband’s favorite stores of all time because he loves surf company clothing. The women’s department is upstairs and has cute things from companies like Billabong and such. I worked here for a bunch of years :) They have a few locations but the Beach Haven location is my favorite. The Ship Bottom location also has a lot of inventory.

  • Sur La Plage: They sell slightly more high end women’s clothing and accessories. I’d say that this is the relaxed/low key boutique version of Bloomingdale’s if it was on an island and sold beach clothing.

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Family Friendly Activities

  • Fantasy Island: Good luck bringing your kids to LBI without visiting Fantasy Island! It’s LBI’s boutique amusement park that has hardly changed at all since I was a kid (which I love). They have rides and carnival style games outdoors and an arcade indoors. If you buy tokens before the season starts then you can get them discounted.

  • Mini Golf: There is TONS of mini golf on LBI. Day Romano has talked about his yearly vacations in LBI in interviews a few times and always jokes about how there’s a mini golf course on every corner. The coolest course is next to fantasy island and is called Settler’s Mill Adventure Golf.

  • Water Park: The waterpark is another kid favorite because they have big water slides for the older kids, a lazy river and a little kid section. I haven’t gone back as an adult and am okay with holding off on this one until I bring my kids haha.

  • Just Bead It: The perfect rainy day activity. We used to love making jewelry here but I definitely remember it being a more rare occurrence because its pricey. I also got a couple of hair wraps here #classic.

  • Rent a Boat or Jet Ski: There are marinas all throughout the island that you can rent boats and jet skis to ride on the bay.  

  • Family Photo Shoot: My mom is a photographer and does family portraits on the beach in LBI! Her business is Ellentuck Photography and you can find her website here. Her Instagram handle is @Rachelellentuck_photography and her email address is racheltuck@gmail.com.

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Free Activities for Everyone

  • Visit the light house (may be small entrance fee or donation if you climb it) and/or go for a walk by it.

  • Walk to the end of Holgate if you’re up for the hugely big trek. If not, still go check out the end of the island where you can drive. 

  • Enjoy a sunset on the bay. 

  • Go for a bike ride on Ocean Boulevard.  

  • Take a drive to see the mansions in Love Ladies. 

  • And obviously go to the beach!  

Photo by    Ellentuck Photography    (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photo by Ellentuck Photography (racheltuck@gmail.com)

Photographer

If you are looking to hire a photographer for a family, couple, pet + owner, surfing, etc session, my mom is a mega talented photographer in LBI and knows all of the best places! Her name is Rachel Ellentuck and her company is Ellentuck Photography. You can find her website here. Her Instagram handle is @Rachelellentuck_photography and her email address is racheltuck@gmail.com. She also has a ton of incredible photos of different spots on LBI that she sells to people as prints for their homes!

Spring Break Clothes-Under $100

Spring Break is just around the corner! Isn’t it funny to think about what Spring Break means as a kid versus a college student versus a parent? I actually met my husband on (actually on the plane to) the MOST college Spring Break trip to exist. It was in Acapulco, Mexico and was straight out of the scene from MTV Spring Break. Who else remembers those videos on MTV and then again of Ross on Friends haha. This trip was full of wet t-shirt contests (I did not participate) and all of the other college break scenes that you could imagine. Nowadays, the reference to Spring Break in my circle is from my friends who are teachers and families that I am planning vacations for (I am a travel agent and my company is the Cozy Traveler and it is an affiliate of Smartflyer for those of you that don’t know). Even if its not during Spring Break timing for schools, this is the best time to go away because all of the magic of winter has more than worn off and with the lack of holidays, these next few months move by slowly (particularly slowly when you are recovering from surgery and haven’t left the house in 5 weeks!!!).

So, whose going away for Spring Break? I wish that I was going away but since I’m not, you’ll have to say hi to the sunshine for me and soak it all up! Either way, looking at Spring/Summer clothes and starting to shop for them gets me in a better mood. Its fun to have new pieces that you are excited about packing and bringing on vacation. I know that going on vacation can hurt your wallet enough though so all of these picks are under $100! Stay tuned later in the week for my bathing suit roundup…it’s amazing! Let’s get shopping for your warm weather vacation! Just click on any image to shop!

Hoboken Guide
IMG_8273.JPG

This post is very over due because it combines 2 things that I am so passionate about…food and Hoboken! I have lived in Hoboken for 4.5 years now and my husband has lived here for 7 years (since back when he was just my boyfriend and I would visit him). I love this square-mile city so much! Hoboken is only 1 square mile so you can easily get everywhere. It has a slower pace than the concrete jungle across the river but still has easy access to Manhattan for work and play. The views of the river and skyline from my building (and many of these restaurants) is iconic and I feel grateful every single time I see it! I love that there is open, green space and a neighborhood feel. For some reason, I find it comforting to pass so many of the same people on the street. Part of that neighborhood feel is the restaurants! I love having our go-to spots and that so many of them are relatively affordable (when compared to NYC) and BYOB. Now, I want to share those spots with you!

In this post, I cover why/when you would go to each of these spots and some of my favorite items at each of them. I am a vegetarian so I also talk about my husband’s favorite items (he eats meat). I cover a few different categories to make it organized and easy!

One of my husband & my favorite things to do on a weekend is just take a walk to coffee shops in town. We love being able to walk right out of our apartment, hand in hand, and wander through town. We don’t buy coffee/tea during the week so its a special treat when we do. In this post, I share my favorite coffee shops! I also cover my favorite brunch spots and even talk about my techniques for making process of waiting for a table more enjoyable. I know how tricky large group brunches are so I share my favorite go-tos for birthday brunches and larger gatherings.

I list out my favorite dinner spots and describe the atmosphere/appropriate occasions. I also talk about my go-to delivery spots (we get the same things delivered on rotation and I’m not even ashamed about it because they are just SO good).

Then, I talk about different bars. In full transparency, I don’t go out to bars at night frequently due to my chronic pain issues, which gets worse later in the day. I’m more likely to frequent a bar during a nice day or attend a happy hour. Therefore, I brought my husband into the mix on this topic. There are also a ton of Irish pubs in downtown Hoboken but we’ve really graduated from that scene by this point in our lives (they are great for the post-grad phase of life), so I don’t know much about them anymore.

Finally, I cover the best delis in Hoboken! Hoboken has a strong Italian influence, culture and history. It is the birth place of Frank Sinatra and has a ton of ‘OG’ Italian Americans. Therefore, the Italian food, including delis, is really important here. The fresh mutz is unparalleled and there are too many pizza spots to count (I included my all time favorites in the delivery and dinner sections). These delis are no-frills and super old school. They aren’t the nicest things to look at (its a to-go situation) and follow their own rules. They give the impression that they aren’t aiming to conform to the service industry standard but their food exceeds any standard in place. We love getting items from the deli and then eating them at a picnic!

It’s a lengthy post but I hope that it’s helpful! Sending so much love to all of my fellow Hobokenites! If you have a favorite spot in Hoboken, please drop it in the comments!

IMG_3089.jpg

Coffee Shops:

Bluestone Lane: The best chai tea latte (although the portion size is weak). They have outdoor seating with wait staff too, which is nice. They have healthy food options, which are served brunch style by a waiter. You can order coffee at the counter in to-go containers, which is what I usually do.

Bwè Kafe: This name means “drink coffee” in Haitian Creole! This is right up the street from me and has a cool boho atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed (when its not super crowded). They are a socially responsible company because they donate a portion of their proceeds to Haiti relief efforts. They sell healthy treats and also usually carry baonanas, which is the best banana pudding ever (my favorite flavor is the French Toast but the classic is also so good). I think that Baonanas is better than Magnolia’s banana pudding and I love supporting a small business (the business story is cool). If I’m at the coffee shop on a Saturday morning, I’ll sometimes grab one of these to stick in my fridge and eat for dessert at night.

Choc-O-Pain: A great spot for pastries when you want to be more indulgent! The other 2 coffee shops have a healthier flare and this spot brings the buttery, flakey goodness! They have two locations. The downtown location has more of a Parisian cafe, cozy feel and the uptown location is more sleek and bright/airy and has a ‘playroom’ with toys.

Brunch:

Anthony Davids: This is my #1 favorite brunch spot! They also have great dinner, which I discuss in more detail below. They have both outdoor and indoor seating in the warmer months. They don’t accept brunch reservations so you should expect to wait during peak hours. I go and put my name/number down and then walk across the street to Bwe Kafe and grab coffee/tea and either hang out in the coffee shop during the colder months or go for a walk with the coffee/tea in the warmer months until my table is ready at Anthony Davids. I LOVE the challah french toast and highly recommend it! I also like their salads. They have unique Eggs Benedict creations and everyone loves them. Jay’s favorite are the French Toast and Crispy Bacon Benedict and the Ricotta and Truffle Benedict. He also is a fan of the Guacamole and Spicy Chorizo Benedict, Crab Cake Benedict, Maine Lobster Roll Bay Benedict and the Burger. It’s BYOB so bring a bottle of champagne!

La Isla Uptown: La Isla Uptown only serves brunch on Sundays. On Saturdays they have breakfast and then lunch hours. Bobby Flay threw down against Chef Omar of La Isla with his Stuffed French Toast and Chef Omar was the winner! The Stuffed French Toast is really good but super decadent so I recommend getting it as a share item for the table. They have good breakfast sandwiches and a nice variety of breakfast and lunch items. Don’t forget to order their Cuban Latte if you’re a coffee drinker! Plus, they have a bar and serve great cocktails. I share more of Jay’s favorite items in the dinner section of this post.

Turning Point: This place wins points for my favorite dish there and loses points for service. It’s got a diner vibe to it and is super casual and laid back. As a result, its very kid friendly. I always expect a long wait before getting seated so I tend to go in the Spring and Fall. I put my name down in the restaurant section, grab a Chai Tea Latte from the coffee shop section (its so good…definitely more sugary than others but in an addictive way), and sit on a bench out front and take in the skyline views. Sitting along the waterfront makes the waiting process more enjoyable than being cramped inside the small waiting area with everyone else. The other reason that I love going there in the Fall is that my favorite items on the menu are perfect for that season! The Chai Tea Latte and Cornbread French Toast give you all of the Fall feelings! They also set up outdoor seating on nice days, which is great since it has such awesome skyline views! They are BYOB so you can bring champagne and they will make you mimosas.

Halifax: This is a big ‘birthday brunch’ spot in Hoboken. This restaurant is in the W Hotel and has a really fun atmosphere, which feels chic and buzzy. It’s great for groups because you can do a set menu and pricing. You have the option of doing a Bubbles Brunch, which includes unlimited food (they bring everything on the menu in small plates, sharing style) for a set number of hours. The unlimited food portion is $25/person but you can add in a bottle of sparkling wine per person for another $10, which makes the whole thing only $35/person. It’s a really good deal and great for any group gathering. Plus, it has big windows and is set along the Hudson River so you can enjoy the awesome views!

Elysian Cafe: We tend to go here in the Spring and warmer months because the outdoor section is so charming! It’s a French restaurant and it definitely gives you a Parisian feeling when you sit outside with all of the flower boxes and twinkly lights from the trees. It makes for a romantic date night spot in the warmer months when you can sit outside as well. They have good French Onion Soup and are BYOB. Expect to wait (especially if you go for brunch), but there is a park right up the street called Elysian Park so I’ll typically go for a walk in the park until my table is ready.

Bare Burger: This is a go-to casual spot that has a lot of healthy options. They have outdoor and indoor seating. It’s a great spot for kids or for when you don’t want any fuss and just want good, healthy food. All of their meat is grass fed and all that jazz. I love the various veggie burger options and get one of them in a collard green wrap with the special sauce and guacamole. Plus, I always have to get a side of sweet potato fries and spicy pickles. I’ve heard they have good chicken and waffles for brunch and they have other breakfast items on the menu as well. My niece and nephew were hugs fans of it when we took them. Don’t tell them that the milkshakes they enjoyed were vegan!

Otto Strada: This is not my favorite spot in Hoboken for brunch on the regular but its a good option for big groups because they can actually accommodate you and will accept brunch reservations. I’ve gone to a couple of birthday brunches here and its a perfect spot for that. They have great breakfast pizzas! They are BYOB for brunch and dinner.

IMG_2763.JPG

Dinner:

Antique Bar & Bakery: Antique is our favorite date night spot and the place that we usually meet up with friends at. Its dark and cozy so its definitely more of a cold-weather spot. It’s got a Speakeasy vibe and great cocktails to match. They play loud music so it definitely feels a little more Manhattan-like than the typical Hoboken spots. Its a great place to order a bunch of food to share. They have a gigantic coal oven, where they cook most of their items in to give them a unique flavor. They accept ‘waitlist appointments, which are basically reservations on Resy. My favorite items are the butternut squash and the cookie skillet (featured in photo above). I don’t typically order dessert at a restaurant unless I’m on vacation (I eat dessert, just once I’m home on my couch in my PJs after an eating break haha) but I always need to get this item. Great, now I’m craving it! Jay is a fan of the steak.

Anthony Davids: Our favorite neighborhood spot. I don’t go here too frequently because its a little pricey but when I do I love it. You can bring your own wine, which helps bring down the cost. It has indoor and outdoor seating and even the indoor seating is good. They don’t accept reservations on the weekends.

Bin 14: This wine bar is great for a tapas style dinner where people share a lot of food. It’s also a good spot to go out to a real lunch for a meeting or something like that. They have set seating times on the weekends and I would recommend making a reservation on Open Table in advance.

Dozzino: This is our go-to casual spot with AMAZING artisanal pizza. My husband and I will typically go here on a Friday night when we don’t have any plans and want to go out last minute. They don’t take reservations and you may need to wait, especially if you’re with a big group. It’s a good option for a big group if you don’t mind waiting though because its BYOB, affordable and has great food. The pizza is classic Neapolitan style and reminds me so much of how pizza actually is tastes Italy. The crust is so fluffy and amazing! They are a no-frills establishment so don’t expect to be treated like royalty (they sometimes give you paper cups and give you a pizza cutter to cut your own pizza). In fact, they may not even have all of the items available (they hand you paper menus with items out of stock crossed off). The laid back vibe is just what I want a lot of the time though. It’s my favorite spot to just wear shorts, a t-shirt and sandals to on a summer night where I sit outside by the twinkle lights at a bistro table. Plus, the pizza is so insanely good that I will ALWAYS go back for more. Let me warn you that they are not open on Mondays (I was crushed one holiday weekend when I went on a Monday and was looking forward to it all day). They have a bocce ball court outside. It’s definitely a favorite in our house!

La Isla Uptown: This Cuban establishment is my husband’s favorite spot. He loves the Cuban Rueben and Maduros. It’s got great cocktails (the mojitos are awesome) and a cool atmosphere. The show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and Drives featured their original downtown Hoboken location. The show highlighted the Papa Relleno (mashed potato stuffed with ground beef, breaded and fried) and Tasajo Con Boniato (braised dry-cured shredded beef served with Cuban sweet potato and rice). The uptown location doesn’t have any outdoor seating but it has a lot of big windows and a modern, airy vibe. This is another great spot for a sit-down lunch as well.

Augustinos: If Tony Soprano was still alive and frequenting Hoboken, this is where he would go to dinner. Its a small spot with Italian-American favorites done well. It’s a classic spot that really speaks to Hoboken. Its kind of a hole in the wall in terms of size but has an old school Italian vibe with white tablecloths to boot. My husband says that the Veal Parmesan here is better than the famous Veal Parmesan at Carbone. Unfortunately, its close to impossible to get a reservation here since its a small establishment and so many people have standing reservations. Your best bet is to call and ask to be put on a waitlist and/or call the day of to see if there were any cancellations.

Sorrelina: Another Hoboken wine bar! They decorate really nicely for the holidays so I like to go there around that time of year and get a hearty, cozy meal. Its a modern Italian establishment with a bit more of a flare than the classic Italian-American dishes like Chicken Parmesan. They change their menu seasonally, which I appreciate. The Ricotta Crostini is amazing and everyone likes the Ragu Pasta. It can get pricey, especially since its not BYOB like so many of the spots we frequent, but its not anything crazy. They are really knowledgeable about wine and have an awesome selection. They accept reservations and have outdoor seating in the warmer months.

Orale Mexican Kitchen: This new spot is a welcome addition in Hoboken. The original location is in Jersey City. It has a trendy and cool atmosphere with crazy decor that makes it fun. It also has some trendy twists on classic Mexican dishes (think truffle guacamole). Its buzzy and loud and a bit of a ‘scene.’ I think that its a spot that you go to for the atmosphere and having a fun Saturday night out with friends or for a first date. They accept reservations with some limitations.

Charritos: There are 3 Charritos locations: downtown (vegan), midtown (authentic Mexican with more entree focus) and a location in Weehawken (tex-mex). We typically get this as our go-to delivery so we don’t go the restaurant unless we have guests in town usually. We used to frequent the uptown location but then it closed and a piece of my heart broke. I go in depth on my order and tips in the delivery/take out section of this post. They accept reservations with some limitations. It’s BYOB and if you bring tequila they can make you margaritas and if you bring wine they can make sangria (with a charge). I haven’t given the vegan restaurant that they opened enough of a chance yet because what I LOVE there is the cheese but I want to go there during the week.

Cucharamama: This South American spot has the flare and the food. I prefer going here in the warmer weather and sitting outside. The bread alone is enough of a reason to go! This is a fun spot to go with a group because you can order a bunch of dishes and try them tapas style. The only downside is that they can be a little inconsistent and I haven’t figured out the schedule as to when its been better. They accept reservations.

Del Frisco’s Grille: I hardly ever go here because I typically go into Manhattan if I’m looking for a fancy, ‘special occasion’ meal. However, this is a good spot to go with your parents when they visit and things of that sort. Its lively and fun in there. It is a more laid back version with more unique items on the menu than the Del Friscos in Manhattan though. They accept reservations.

Amandas: This spot is a little stuffy for me because I’m just not really a white tablecloth gal. However, I appreciate their attention to detail and care for cuisine. I think this is a great restaurant to go to take your dad out to on his birthday or bring your grandma to when she visits. They accept reservations.

Saku: I haven’t been yet but I’m so excited to try this new Japanese restaurant that I’ve heard great things about!

10786948752_IMG_0608 (1).jpg

Delivery/Take Out:

Charritos: If you follow along on my Insta-stories then you know that this is a weekly staple in my household. I basically need to get Cheese Enchiladas every weekend that I’m home. I want to be ashamed but I’m honestly not because it makes me so happy. The Cheese Enchiladas with salsa ranchera are my favorite. Jay mixes it up more than I do and rotates between the Steak Burrito, different enchiladas, and various tacos. All of the items reheat really well with a quick zap in the microwave. We always get spicy Guacamole, of course. Their chips that come with it are the best! Sometimes we also get flour tortillas, cheese and Guacamole delivered from there to make quesadillas at home and they are so good! It’s my favorite meal of all time! Ever since they closed the 11th street location, I’ve found that getting Uber Eats delivery from the Weehawken location is my best bet for getting the enchiladas just right! As you can see, I take it very seriously!

Johnny Pepperoni: We’ve tried so many of the famous NYC & Brooklyn spots and Johnny Pepperoni (aka Jpeps in our house) holds a strong flame against the competition (and beats out many of them). We get fried eggplant (its the thin, super fried kind) and hot peppers as toppings. My husband also loves the pepperoni so he will get that when he’s not eating vegetarian with me. We get their round pie (classic crust thickness) usually but Jay loves getting the square pie (thick, grandma style crust) whenever someone else will order it with him (I like it but would rather the classic and also I’d rather eat more pizza than just one slice of the thicker crust). I always put it in the oven once we get it delivered and just a quick reheat in the oven goes a long way. Trust me, it’s worth the wait and SO good.

Grimaldis: A famous establishment for obvious reasons! We typically get the plain pie. Definitely reheat it in the oven. The crust is so good! They do not work with any apps so you have to order directly with them.

Honey Grow: My go-to salad place. Its better when you get it there because you have more options than when you get it delivered. It’s also really efficient because they have touch screens where you input your own order.

Mamoun’s Falafel: My favorite Mediterranean spot. I usually will get some sort of platter with falafel, hummus, feta, lettuce, and pita.

IMG_1133.jpg

Bars:

Pier 13: This is a seasonal bar/food truck destination that is set on a pier that juts out over the Hudson river with the most epic views of the NYC skyline. Pier 13 used to be one of my favorite places ever but over the years, its definitely taken a turn. It now attracts a lot of out of towners..some of whom wear heels and get dressed to the nines for this outdoor, formerly super chill bar. They used to have bean bag chairs, Jenga and live music…basically I can’t get over mourning the loss of what it once was. However, I figured out that in order to get that chill atmosphere, I just have to go there during the week and avoid it on the weekends (except some during the day visits on the weekends can be fine). I think that an awesome night out is just walking to the Pier, grabbing food from the food trucks, and going into the bar section to hang out (obviously with beer, sangria or rosé for those who can drink). They also have movie night there where you go and watch a movie on a projector screen! I recommend following Pier 13 on social media so you can see the dates they are open (since the weather really impacts it), the food trucks that they have on site, any events (such as movie night), etc. It’s a really fun and unique spot!

Pilsener Haus & Biergarten: I love going here in the warmer months when I can sit outside at the picnic tables! This spot begs you to have a pretzel and beer and just hang with your friends for hours. Make sure to go in the Fall for Oktoberfest!

Green Rock: In this area it’s hard to find a bar with such great pricing. This bar will make you feel like you’re back in college with $1 beer happy hour.

City Bistro Rooftop: Another good spot for the warmer months. I’ve found the food to be hit or miss so I stopped going there for the sole purpose of having dinner but I think that its a fun spot to meet friends for happy hour with food and drinks.

Texas Arizona: For my fellow Penn State alum, this is a great spot to watch the games, along with Village Pour House.

Sting Ray Lounge: A more upscale and mature place (hence the lounge name) for an older crowd and/or a good date spot. They serve oysters as well.

10th And Willow: My husband used to frequent this spot during his bachelor/less crazy of a work schedule days. It was his go-to spot for Monday night football because they have all you can eat wings.

Wicked Wolf: The most popular place to watch a football game in the square mile. It’s bumping there on a football Sunday!

IMG_1553.JPG

Delis:

Fiore’s: This is the GOAT deli! It’s old school in every sense. It’s super old school and authentic. The roast beef sandwich is their most famous item but they sell out of it so quickly so you have to go on the designated day to get it. They have amazing fresh mozzarella that I LOVE. They are closed on Sundays and are cash only.

M & P Biancamano: They typically win the Mutz Fest competition (a competition where you try all the different fresh mozzarella from the different delis and vote. Mutz Fest has a really cool concept but I didn’t particularly enjoy it because its held inside and was SO crowded and loud. I wish they would do it as an outdoor festival). I will go here and grab fresh mozzarella when I’m making a cheese plate for entertaining, which always goes over well. I also love grabbing mozzarella, bread and olive oil and taking it for a picnic in the warmer months. It’s a major hole in the wall shop and nothing fancy or nice but the owners are just how you want/expect them to be. They’re closed on Sundays and are cash only.

Vito’s: Our go-to spot for delivery when we want deli items. We tend to get this in the summer when we can get it delivered to the pool or rooftop and eat outside. There are so many choices in Hoboken but we think this is the best deli that delivers.

Post Travel Skincare Routine
IMG_9421.JPG

Anyone else's skin suffer when they travel? Mine always breaks out a little, gets really dry and is just so blah looking. I went straight from Virtuoso Travel Week conference in Las Vegas to Austin for a bachelorette party last week and my skin tells the tale (if only you could see how my back feels haha). I think that the fact that they are both really dry destinations didn't help my cause. I can't drink alcohol (for medical reasons) so I can't even imagine how much harsher the travel would be with drinking. This skincare routine would be even more helpful if you drink!

I am also trying to be good about drinking enough water and even bought some PH water with electrolytes to rehydrate. The other thing that I try to do after traveling is lay off the makeup. I am not going to put on makeup for like a week after traveling. I also won't put heat to my hair for a week and will just let it air dry. I am also using this hair mask after conditioning my hair for a few days. 

In the morning, I did this face mask the first day back. Then, I've been using this mask as moisturizer basically (as long as I'm not going in the sun at all, in which case I need to wear something with SPF). I use my regular daytime eye cream too. 

In the evening, I'm doing this little "peel" and then using my usual facial oil and night time eye cream. I'm being diligent about using the Jade roller every night after applying the oil to really help it soak in (I truthfully only use it 1-2x per week on a regular basis). The roller is also helping with some puffiness in my eyes. 

Shop The Post

Santorini Travel Guide
IMG_8787.JPG
IMG_8782.JPG
IMG_8779.JPG

Santorini is SUCH a unique destination! I don't think there is anything like it on Earth. I was a little worried that it was going to be overrated. I feel like my Instagram feed is constantly filled with photos of the white houses cascading along the cliffside and I kept feeling like "well, I guess I'll be sort of immune to the beauty at this point." Let me tell you, that was far from the truth! Arriving there and seeing it all, I had water in my eyes and a happiness in my heart that you can never get from photos alone. There is such a high that you experience when you arrive in a new destination for the first time. We planned on not going out to dinner the first night in order to give my back a break after the travel and yet I was busting at the seams to get out and explore Oia. I was so glad that we went out while we were still feeling so electric from the beauty of this new place. It was fun to feel the energy while walking those streets and seeing the view in the pure daylight, golden hour, sunset, and nighttime. I feel like this place has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. We went to Greece almost 8 years ago to Corfu and it left me even more disappointed in the fact that I didn't experience Santorini because I was SO close to it. Its an expensive destination so we couldn't swing it then but I'm so grateful that I got to now. It stole a piece of my heart for forever! I would happily go back tomorrow! 

The amazing thing about Santorini is that it is a RELAXING destination that is also in a unique place with culture as well. Its perfect for when you need to relax and recharge but also want to experience something different than a beach. I could have easily stayed at my hotel every day and lounged by the pool with the incredible view and been happy! This also makes it a very romantic destination, which is great for honeymooners. The beaches and water are not what you go there for. Instead, you go for the unique and breathtaking views, exploring walkways and town, and eating Baklava! This also makes the hotel that you stay at VERY important! Its such a huge part of the destination so you want to make sure that you stay somewhere that you love and has amazing service!

There are a TON of small properties and areas within Santorini so its a complex area to plan a vacation. Its important to find the right hotel for you and I'm here to help! There are also SO many insider tips for these activities and restaurants alone. There are also a lot of weird things that I took note of like the best seats (and how to get them) at the pool, the best spots to watch a sunset (in multiple towns), the ideal times of day to go out and take photos and avoid the crowds, the best way to stack your itinerary, transportation tips, great photographers for photo sessions, what to order at certain restaurants and so much more! For help booking your next trip, email me at Carly.Robinson@smartflyer.com or fill out my contact form. 

IMG_8775.JPG
IMG_8786.JPG

Stay

Canaves Oia: There are multiple different properties so let me help match you with the best option for you and your needs!

Added amenities when booking with me:

Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

American champagne buffet breakfast or room service breakfast daily for up to two in room guests

$100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Grace Santorini:

Added amenities when booking with me:

Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability

Complimentary full breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay served in our restaurant

Complimentary one-way private airport transfers

A complimentary private yoga class for up to two people, per room, once during stay

Early Check-in/Late Check-out, subject to availability

Complimentary Wi-Fi

IMG_8781.JPG
IMG_8777.JPG
IMG_8773.JPG

Dine

  1. Pitogyros: The gyros here are amazing! Going there one time just won't be enough and you'll find yourself waiting in line day after day for these. There's even a vegetarian gyro option. Make sure the get the backlava, it'll be the best one that you have in Greece!

  2. Metaxi Mas: A perfect spot for a nice dinner but in a laid back outdoor space.

  3. Ammoudi Fish Tavern: Fresh, locally caught fish in a casual atmosphere. Make sure to go for sunset so you can take in this little fishing village during the prettiest time of day.

  4. Avocado Restaurant: Its a bummer to go to dinner somewhere without the spectacular views but the food at Avocado is really good and there are healthier options than most other places in the area.

IMG_8784.JPG
IMG_8774.JPG
IMG_8789.JPG

Play

Catamaran Tour

Winery visit(s)

Photography Session

Explore Oia

Private dinner at your hotel

Hike

How To Book

For help booking your next trip, email me at Carly.Robinson@smartflyer.com or fill out my contact form. Santorini is a tourist destination, which means that people often get 'sucked into' tourist traps, bad tours, mediocre restaurants, and so much more. There are so many hotels and so many different room types at each hotel so its important to find the best match for YOU! I'd love to serve as your travel advisor and help you plan your next adventure to this beautiful destination! 

IMG_8788.JPG

Shop The Post

Ibiza Video

If pictures can speak a thousand words then videos can speak a million. However, there is nothing that pictures or videos (or at least the ones that I can take) can do to give these places justice. Like I said, Ibiza was such an unexpectedly romantic destination! I'm so glad that we went there as our first stop on our anniversary trip #CarlyandJayByTheMediterraneanSea. You can read my Ibiza guide here. Stay tuned for a video from Greece and Lake Como to come as well! 

Shop Our Outfits

Ibiza Travel Guide
IMG_0023.jpg
IMG_0016.jpg

Ibiza has a strong reputation in the U.S. as being a party destination. While that reputation is definitely rooted in a lot of truth (it has some of the best beach clubs and nightclubs in the world), it also has SO much more to offer! In fact, I did not party once while I was there. I experienced a different "side" of Ibiza...one that was really romantic and filled with SO much natural beauty. It wasn't that we didn't want to check out a beach club, it was just that we had so much that we wanted to do within our 4 days there and ran out of time to do it all. I think as a result of the "route" that we took in our travels there, we only saw (okay, heard) a handful of Americans during our 4.5 days on the island. It felt less touristy here than the other places that we went as a result as well. We rented a car and explored as much as we could during our time there...dirt roads and all. I could have easily spent another week there!

Every spot that we saw was so different! There were gigantic rock formations that made me tear up on numerous occasions but also lush greenery everywhere. It had the Spanish feel from the mainland to it but with an island vibe. It was relaxed but bustling with culture. One cove would be quiet and peaceful, a restaurant would have chill "tropical house" music and then the streets of Old Town would be buzzing with a contagious energy. The cobblestone streets of Old Town were so full of character and looked like they were straight out of Game of Thrones! The island has SO much to offer!

Ibiza has a strong "hippie" culture, which makes for a really cool vacation experience. We took an awesome yoga class, wandered the hippie market, and saw the cutest kids in dreadlocks playing on the beach! It was an amazing destination for a vegetarian, like myself, because there were vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on almost every menu. There were healthy and unique things to try everywhere we went and I loved it. Overall, Ibiza had my favorite restaurants of our entire trip. This "score" is based on an overall combination of food (non-healthy items as well, including the best cheesecake I've ever had) + killer atmosphere. 

The boat trip that we did to Formentera was one of my favorite (potentially my favorite) day of our entire trip! The water was so clear and the views were spectacular! It was one of those days that felt almost like I was floating above the boat looking down at what was going on because it felt like a dream. A dream that I will never forget. 

Here are some of my top recommendations of what to do in Ibiza. Of course, I learned a lot more than this along the way and I have plenty of tips and tricks for a visit to the island for all of my clients! Plus, I am able to set any of my clients up with some great amenities at these hotels but also some other favorites on the island! You can get started with planning your next adventure as a Cozy Traveler client by filling out this contact form or by emailing me at Carly.Robinson@Smartflyer.com

STAY

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay:

Added Amenities When Booking With Me:

Complimentary buffet breakfast

Early check in/late check out upon availibility

Room upgrade upon availibility

Seven Pines Resort Ibiza: This is a brand new hotel that's about to be fully opened and is in line to be amazing!

Added Amenities When Booking With Me:

$100 voucher for all F&B outlets or Spa

Individual farewell gift

Wifi

Early check in/late check out (subject to availibility) 

Upgrade upon availibility

IMG_0002.jpg
IMG_0024.jpg
IMG_0008.jpg
IMG_0009.jpg

DINE

  1. Amante: Amazing food in an INCREDIBLE atmosphere! Amante is set in a cove with magnificent rock formations on either side of you. It is perfect for a romantic dinner! Just make sure to show up while it is still light out to fully appreciate the view! The cheesecake with passionfruit glaze will change your life.

  2. Aiyanna: A cool bohemian outdoor "lounge" vibe with great views. This place feels like the epitome of Ibiza and is so enjoyable that you could happily spend a whole day there. Sit back on your comfortable couch with a cocktail, listen to the music, take in the view of the clear water in the cove in front of you and enjoy the healthy, light and creative fare. This is a perfect place for lunch and for taking endless photos!

  3. La Granja: If you're looking for a truly unique dining experience, you must go to La Granja! This farmhouse hosts a rustic, outdoor restaurant with chandeliers that sway in the wind. The property is gorgeous and completely serene. It feels like you are in the middle of nowhere while you sip your wine and enjoy course after course. They encourage you to explore the farm and see where a lot of the food that they served you grew. All of the ingredients are so fresh and the creations are truly art. The menu is set and all members of you party must select either the vegetarian menu or the menu with meat. Make sure to make your reservation ahead of time since they only keep the ingredients that they need for the day on hand.

  4. La Oliva: It's so fun to dine in Old Town while you listen to the street performers and feel so much of the charm. Make sure to grab a table outside in the "street."

IMG_0012.jpg
IMG_0032.jpg
IMG_0013.jpg
IMG_0020.jpg

PLAY

Formentera Boat Trip: You can't go to Ibiza without visiting the small neighboring island, Formentera! Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands but it definitely can hold its own in terms of natural beauty! The water is crystal clear, the yachts are everywhere, and each area is distinct. Hop off the boat for lunch with a view. Reach out to me at carly.robinson@smartflyer.com to help you charter the perfect boat for your day trip! 

Explore Coves: There are so many unique coves all along the island! Rent a car or let me set up a tour for you to see the ones that peak your interest! I have a map with descriptions of each cove so that you can pick out the ones that you want to prioritize!

Sunset view of Es Vedrà: Es Vedrà is truly breathtaking! This uninhabited rock island stands 400 metres high and is opposite Cala d'Hort and can be easily seen from a couple of famous viewpoints. Es Vedrà is the center of many mythical stories and legends. The most common is that it is the third most magnetic spot on Earth! It provides the perfect backdrop for a sunset but even if you can't make it during sunset hours, make sure that you go at some point! 

Hippy Market: There are a few famous hippy markets on the island. Hippy culture is deeply rooted in Ibiza and many modern day hippies sell the goods that they create at these markets. Make sure to check the days that the various markets are open so that you can find one that works with your schedule. 

Clubs: Of course, Ibiza is known for it's beach clubs and night clubs! Some of the most popular nightclubs are Pacha and Amnesia. Beach clubs are also wildly popular! A few favorites on the island are Experimental Beach Club, Beachhouse, Cotton Beach Club, and Cala Bassa. 

Visit Old Town: Wander the "streets" with some gelato in your hand. Listen to the live music, pop in some shops and soak in the old world feel. 

IMG_0003.jpg
IMG_0015.jpg
IMG_0031.jpg

HOW TO BOOK

For help booking your trip to Ibiza, or any other destination, shoot me an email at carly.robinson@smartflyer.com! You can also fill out the contact form on my website. I can help you plan a customized itinerary and help get you added amenities at resorts. I pride myself in matching my clients with the best accomodations and activities to match their style and needs! 

Shop The Post

What's In My Suitcase
Photo by my mom turned client, Rachel Ellentuck Photography

Before I leave for my anniversary trip in Europe, I thought that it would be good to link all of the items that I'm bringing in one place! What I packed isn't necessarily specific to this trip either. This post includes some of my favorite travel items for every trip! I broke it into categories of what I'm wearing (clothing and accessories separately), what's in my beach bag, whats in my toiletry bag, my travel 'must haves,' and Jay's clothing (yes, Mr. Cozy's suitcase items also made the post)!

I always make sure that I go through my toiletries for the trip a few weeks in advance and take inventory of what I have versus what I need so that I have plenty of time to order everything online. I love having mini versions of my favorite products and I found the best place to purchase miniature versions of them over the years. I always keep a toiletry bag packed with all of my items so that I don't have to pack it before I go away each time but for a longer trip like this, I really need to make sure I had enough of each item. I'm also particular about what kind of sunscreen I use (so many kinds make me break out or feel so greasy, etc) so I made sure to stock up on my favorite kinds to bring (all linked under the In my Beach Bag section). I think that this and the 'travel must have' categories are ones that you won't want to miss! Plus, if you see any photos on Instagram you'll be able to find all of the looks (that are still currently for sale) in one place!

IMG_0197.JPG

Clothing

Accessories

In my Toiletry Bag

Travel Must Haves

In my Beach Bag

Jay's Outfits

One Year Anniversary Trip
Photos by Rachel Ellentuck Photograph who I recently sent to Santorini!

Exciting News:

We are leaving tomorrow for our One Year Anniversary trip!! Yes, our anniversary isn't until July 15th but we have our good friends' wedding that weekend (SO EXCITED), so we are going a little bit early! We decided that we need to prioritize taking one big trip, just the two of us, a year and definitely want to check some travel bucket list items off before we have kids. We figured that our first anniversary would be the perfect time to do so..I mean, is there any better gift than travel?! We only got each other a pair of sneakers for our birthdays, skipped big holiday presents and aren't doing anniversary gifts because THIS is the best gift that we can imagine giving one another...time alone together exploring the world! I'm hoping that it will feel like a honeymoon part 2. The happiest that I've ever been were on our trip to St. Lucia when we got engaged and our honeymoon in French Polynesia so I'm out to create memories like that!

Where:

-4 nights in Ibiza 

-4 nights in Santorini

-4 nights in Mykonos

-2 nights in Lake Como

We haven't been back to Europe in 7 years together (I went back once without him) so I'm so excited! I studied abroad in Rome and Jay studied abroad in Barcelona so we are each really pumped to go back to Spain and Italy. We went to Corfu, Greece during our time in Europe together but neither of us felt like we had a true Greecian experience (we stayed at some sketch hotel for college kids and didn't leave the resort haha) and are really looking forward to going to Greece as well!

We really fell in love all across Europe and it holds SUCH a special place in my heart, in our hearts. We were only together for like 6 months before we left for abroad (you can imagine the tears before we seperated...we went to visit each other's parents' houses "one last night before we left" 3 times haha). We would meet up in destinations across Europe on many weekends and it was a freaking fairytale. We'd wander and get lost together (we get lost A LOT because we're both directionally challenged but when you're exploring a city it seems fun for once haha), eat way too much food, feel like such grown ups as we shared hotel rooms and hostels (not as nice of hotels as we'll stay at now, that's for sure haha), create itineraries, and see sights until our feet ached. We went abroad "not dating" in order to not feel like we "missed out" on the experience of studying abroad but it was a joke because we were in a full blown relationship (via BBM on our blackberries) and living out this amazing romance during our travels. It was this thing that we said but wasn't actually true because he was my full blown boyfriend who I knew would be my husband one day. Regardless, he "officially" asked me to be his girlfriend at the Trevi fountain in Rome one night. During a different trip in Venice, we said I love you to one another for the first time. Of course, we knew that we were in love long before that, but it's fun to have that destination hold the spot in our hearts a little extra. 

NEEDLESS TO SAY, I'M SO EXCITED TO GO BACK THERE NOW THAT HE IS MY HUSBAND!

untitled (1).JPEG

The Cozy Traveler:

We are also making this partly a business trip for the Cozy Traveler and are going to do a lot of research for clients! We are moving hotels a lot in order to experience different properties first hand. We are also doing site tours of various hotels in each destination so that I can see as much as possible first hand. We are also trying to do specific activities that I know are popular for clients to book in order to truly experience each destination first hand so that I am able to speak to it. My partnerships and network really enable me to speak confidently on a destination, regardless of whether or not I have been there but I think that seeing these places first hand will only help build my knowledge! 

I've been planning a lot of honeymoons and I think that these destinations would make for amazing honeymoons! I know that Ibiza and Mykonos are known as party destinations, but particularly Ibiza has SO much more to offer! I can't even drink for medical reasons and I am SO excited because there is so much natural beauty on the island. Obviously, I will keep you guys posted on my thoughts on this after I return.

I will be doing full travel diaries after I return with where to stay, where to eat, what to do and all of that for each destination. Of course, never hesitate to reach out to me at carly.robinson@smartflyer.com for help planning your next vacation! You can learn more about my role as a luxury travel advisor with Smartflyer on my website! You can also fill out the contact form on my website to get in touch about your next adventure. 

Make sure to follow along on my Cozy_Traveler Instagram account as well as Cozy_Curator because I will be posting lots of stories and Instagram photos from our adventures! Now that I am a travel advisor, I am going to be much better about posting photos and videos and keeping you guys in the loop while I am away. 

Bon Voyage:

I've been really burying my head in the sand and just going crazy banging out work the past few weeks that I haven't gotten the chance to breath. I really want to get my work done and my clients in a great place before I leave for my trip so that I can really feel like a vacation (minus the work that I do seeing properties, etc). Jay and I haven't been spending enough QT together because we've been so busy and I'm SO looking forward to eliminating distractions and being truly present with my favorite person on Earth. 

Malibu Travel Guide
El Matador State Beach
Some of the grounds at Malibu Wine Safari--a great activity for the bachelorette party I was on!
IMG_1685.jpg

It's hard to visit Malibu and not fall in love with the views from every cliff, cute restaurants and slower pace right outside the city of busy Los Angeles. It has a relaxed feel that is still chic enough to attract celebrities and other socialites who work in LA. It's on the quieter side so it provides the perfect escape from busy life. The cliff side views of the ocean make it easy to see why people are willing to spend what they do in order to live there. It's laid back-surfer town feel and sweeping views are hard to beat! 

Here are my recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do! Reach out to me to plan your next trip to Malibu (or anywhere!) via email at carly.robinson@smartflyer.com. You can also visit the Cozy Traveler website to learn more about how the process works and fill out this contact form to get in touch. 

Malibu Farms Cafe
El Matador State Beach

Stay

Malibu Beach Inn: Perched right above the beach, you can hear the waves crash from your room. It has a laid back, simple aesthetic with a small hint of coastal decor. Great restaurants are really close and the beach is right at the hotel so the location can't be beat. Still, the rooms are quiet and it provides for a relaxing getaway. In line with that, there is of course a spa! There are 47 rooms, all super serene!

Added Amenities When Booking With Me:

  • $80 breakfast credit per day, per room to be used in dining room, room service or beach
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
  • King Pier View or Queen Ocean View categories will receive an automatic upgrade at time of booking

Nobu Ryokan: As in the hotel that houses the restaurant that every celebrity & their mother (okay, maybe just the Kardashian's mother) is posting on Instagram. This hotel has Japanese inspired decor that is simple and sleek enough to work beautifully in this beach town. It is located right next to Malibu Beach Inn, with tons of restaurants and the beach right there as well. If you somehow get tired of the beach, you can hang out in the garden by the fireplace as well. It is a small property with only 16 guest rooms. Eating sushi there is almost a requirement! 

Added Amenities When Booking With Me:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Two eggs, Bacon and Apple Pear Salad Breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Ranch MalibuIf you're not necessarily looking to explore the area and just want a retreat in a beautiful destination, then definitely consider The Ranch Malibu! Its a luxury fitness retreat in a stunning place. The Ranch offers three acclaimed results-oriented, fitness and wellness programs, each designed to recalibrate the mind and body through an intense fitness and wellness regimen paired with a highly structured nutritional diet. This is not your typical spa or resort vacation. This luxury boot camp is dedicated to improving the quality of one's life by improving their health.

Added Amenities When Booking With Me:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests (Given the nature of our program, all meals and snacks are included in the fee and guests are served a set menu for the week.)
  • Choice of one of the following services: additional daily massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment or cholesterol testing.
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi (in bedroom only)

Villa Rentals: Did you know that travel agents can book villas (aka nice houses)?! Malibu has a ton of amazing rentals that can fit your needs. These are perfect for large group gatherings with friends or multi generational family vacations!

Malibu Farms Restaurant (I went to the cafe)
Malibu Farms Restaurant

Dine

  1. Malibu Farms: The cutest seaside atmosphere with wooden chandeliers that sway in the wind. There are two Malibu Farms eateries located on the pier right next to each other, the more casual cafe and the restaurant. Both have a relaxed vibe that beg to be photographed. A diverse menu with some healthy, fresh options and of course frose. Malibu Farm Restaurant accepts reservations for dinner but besides that it's first come first serve. 
  2. Nobu: See and be seen! This restaurant is where Hollywood and Malibu collide. Sushi fans also rejoice! It's locate above the beach with great views of the ocean so even if you go for cocktails and skip the meal, its worth it. Make a reservation ahead of time. 
  3. Cafe Habana: Corn and cuban is how they describe their cuisine and no one's mad about it. The menu features all of your tex-mex favorites that are all simple and done well. The atmosphere is laid back but romantic with hanging lights and greenery. 
  4. Geoffreys: The go-to white tablecloth, upscale spot in Malibu. With international cuisine with coastal views its a perfect spot for a romantic dinner. 
  5. Malibu Seafood Cafe: They make fast-food seafood a cool thing. Their line proves this to be true. If you look good seafood in a super casual atmosphere, this spot is for you. Just walk up and order at the window!
  6. Malibu Burger Co: They've got all of the classic burger options as well as plant based choices with vegan cheese and various bowls. 
  7. Taverna Tony: Tzatziki anyone?! Taverna Tony serves Greek food with live Greek Music. If you're looking for it to be livelier, head there on a weekend night. 
  8. Calamigos Beach Club Restaurant: A five acre ranch with mid century decor located along the beach. It's a little further off the beaten path but you won't mind once your toes hit the sand for the beach bar! 
Some of the grounds at Malibu Wine Safari
Stanley the giraffe loved the bachelorette party girls

Play

Malibu Wine Safari: A completely unique experience in a stunning atmosphere. You can choose from different tour options but the combination of getting to see the safari animals and do wine tasting is hard to beat. You get to feed animals (the friendly ones), see some others, and taste red and white wines that they grow in their on site vineyards. Feeding Stanley the giraffe is definitely a highlight! The property is huge and has such gorgeous views of rolling mountains and cool rock formations. The tour guides are super friendly and witty. Just make sure to get a ticket in advance and show up with plenty of time before your tour start time to check in. 

Malibu Wines: The sister property to Malibu Wine Safari, where you can go to keep drinking your favorite wine that you tasted via shuttle after the safari. It's definitely off the beaten path but you can go there just for wine tasting as well. They have live music some evenings and a food truck that frequently comes on site. 

El Matador State Beach: Talk about a stunning place! Being at El Matador feels like being in Portugal or some far away place. The cliffs are massive and stunning and the rock formations that jut out of no where are so cool. Grab a blanket and head down the long and steep path to the sand, it's so worth it! 

Hike: There are lots of well known hikes in Malibu that each have special qualities. Solstice Canyon hike is a popular one with different levels of difficulty. Check out the perrenial waterfall, as long as water is actually flowing from it (sometimes it gets dried out). Tuna Canyon Park and Charmlee Wilderness Park are some other frequently hiked spots, to name a few. 

Nicholas Canyon Beach: A classic beach along a pretty U shaped section. Park at the lot up top (you need to pay) and then climb down the stairs to the put your toes in the sand. This is a great spot to surf!

Surf: Speaking of surfing, if you are talented enough then you won't want to miss out on surfing in this iconic destination. Some of the most popular surfing spots are Zuma Beach, Nicholas Canyon Beach, Surfrider Beach, Topanga Beach, Topanga Beach and County Line. 

Point Dume State Beach: A boardwalk, a beach, and sea lions all gather in this spot. It is a nature preserve that is located along a coastal bluff. Ascend the trail to the sand dune and take in the incredible views.  

Feeding the animals at Malibu Wine Safari was equal parts amazing and gross haha

 

Drink

Moonshadows: Seaside spot with great views! Perfect for a day drink and some grub.

Rosenthal Wine: Wine bar in a cute outdoor space. They have events, including live music so make sure to check out their calendar. 

Nobu: This spot has made this list a lot but there aren't many nightlife places in Malibu and this is a good one to grab a drink. Be warned that even they don't stay open late. 

Our safari vehicle!
IMG_1639.jpg
Best Tulip Fields to Visit
Holland Ridge Farms, NJ (Image by Rachel Ellentuck Photography)
Holland Ridge Farms in NJ image via Rachel Ellentuck Photography

What are some of your travel bucket list items? One of mine is to visit some flower festivals around the world. I went to Amsterdam and LOVED the city (I still think it was the friendliest city I've ever been to) but I went in February. I am dying to go back to the Netherlands in the Spring when the tulips are in bloom! Until then, this tulip field in NJ (pictured above) will have to do. Below are the top tulip festivals in the world!

Contact me if you have similar aspirations and would like to visit some tulip fields next Spring! or I love helping my travel clients cross items off of their bucket lists! Fill out the contact form for Cozy Traveler or shoot me an email at Carly.Robinson@Smartflyer.com. 

Netherlands: Keukenhof, Nordoospolder, Amsterdam, Lisse, Noordwijkerhout 

Noordoostpolder Tulip Festival (Google Images)
Nordoospolder Festival via Google Images

Canada: Agassiz Tulip Festival in British Columbia& Abbordsford Tulip Festival in British Columbia

Abbordsford Tulip Festival in British Columbia, Canada (Google Images)
Abbordsfod Tulip Festival via Google Images

USA: Skagit Valley in Washington, Wooden Shoe Farm & VanderZanden Farms in Oregon & Dutch Hollow Farms in California

Skagit Valley in Washington State (Google Images)
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival via Google Images
One Piece Swimsuits
IMG_3551.JPG
IMG_3549.JPG
IMG_3550.JPG
IMG_3553.JPG

My friends would make fun of me for wearing *sexy* one pieces before they were "in" years ago but I didn't care because I've been a strong believer in them! They have the ability to be just as hot as bikinis in many instances but still allow you to each pool side chips and guac at leisure. Win-Win! I rounded up all of my favorite one pieces this year and linked them below. The one that I am wearing in the photos looks good on everyone, seriously. It holds you in while still revealing enough. It also is really comfortable because it doesn't have strings pulling on your neck. you can adjust the tightness up top with a tie in the back still. It runs TTS (I'm wearing a small, which I usually do in bathingsuits and bodysuits). However, if you're looking for full butt coverage then I would size up. Now, we just need beach weather!

Shop The Post