you have 48 hours in raleigh, north carolina: GO!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Chris and I had an awesome time in Raleigh in July. It was my first time there and the city had such a quaint town-like vibe. I love a city that can masquerade as a town.

With the help of my friends Claude and Kristina, I put together a Raleigh city guide. Next time you find yourself with 48 hours in that little city, here's how I suggest you spend it.

{If you're new to my City Guides, check out How to Spend a Weekend in Austin and 48 Hours in Nashville}

Finch's - This Raleigh staple has been around for more than 20 years. It's not fancy, but it's the perfect spot to get a hearty breakfast at a low cost.

Mami Nora's - I've not eaten a lot of Peruvian food, but, apparently this is the place to do it. It's a hole in the wall and you can eat a half chicken + two sides for $8. If you're not a fan of crowds, avoid it at lunchtime.

Chuck's - Craving a burger? Look no further. Named the Best Burger in Raleigh, their half-pound, house ground burgers hit the spot.

Raleigh Times - Quite possibly the most intriguing to me, this is where the local newspaper used to be printed. It looks to be more like bar food, but it's a downtown staple. Worth a stop!

Sitti - Known for super authentic Lebanese food, the hummus is said to be a must try. According to Yelp, the service can be hit or miss, but the kabobs make it worth it.

The Pit - Have you ever seen House of Cards? The barbecue place in Season 1 always made me want to have a spot like that in Atlanta. Apparently this is it for the people of Raleigh. All BBQ, all local.

Fiction Kitchen - Vegeterians unite! They've got a full-veg and some vegan (and gluten free!) offerings. Made from fresh, local ingredients, they even have vegan chicken biscuit and gluten free pancakes! It's on the top of my Raleigh list for my next visit.

Humble Pie - With local offerings and a patio + tiki bar (!) this one has my heart for dinner in Raleigh.

Brew Coffee Bar - This was my first stop in Raleigh in July.  I loved it! The service was awesome, the drinks were great and they have almond milk. Sold & sold.

Yellow Dog Bread Company - Known for their coffee and baked goods, this is the perfect stop downtown to grab your caffeine and explore.

Cafe de los Muertos - A quirky little spot downtown. They're all about local roasters & local food. I'm all about that & that, too.

Morning Times - This is right above Raleigh Times. If you're there for breakfast, you ought to grab some Joe, too.

Sola Coffee Shop - Although it is not downtown, it has mini donuts and local music. With coffee! Need I say more?

Benelux Coffee - This one is in Cameron Village. Their coffee is brewed locally, but inspired by Belgian brews.


Big Boss - Brewery + darts and ping pong for those of us who aren't so into beer :)

Cornerstone and Brooklyn Heights - Side by side bars in neighboring houses.

The Anchor Bar - A new bar in downtown that's known for its fuss-free cocktails.

Foundation - An underground bar with swanky cocktails

State of Beer - A new, chill bar that allows you to sit at picnic tables while you drink your brews. Oh. And eat sandwiches. Sammies!

Boylan Bridge - Known for a patio that overlooks downtown. Patio = my jam-io.


Pullen Park - As the first public park in North Carolina, this park sits next to NC State. It's great for intramurals and outdoor dates. Which are the best kind of dates, in my opinion.

Lake Johnson - The perfect spot for kayaking, canoeing and light hiking.

Shelley Lake - If you're looking for a paved and scenic running trail, this is the spot. The 2-mile loop circles the lake and is surrounded by greenery. My rollerblades are calling!


Pour House - A small little venue where you can hear live, local music.

The Ritz - This venue was just renovated this year and is a good spot to see larger bands than Pour House.

C-Grace - A cocktail + jazz bar with only $5 cover. That's what I'm talking about.

Oak City 7 - Free music on Thursday nights downtown.

Happy Raleighing! 

happy nashville weekend

How is it even possibly Friday? This week was a tiny, baby blink. Not to live in the past, here, but I haven't even gotten around to sharing pics from our amazing weekend in Nashville.

My parents so kindly rented a house and Chris, Sam, Duke (+his girlfriend, Michelle) and I met them, along with Sam's girlfriend, Abbey, halfway between Atlanta and Indiana. It was a wonderful weekend. It was both restful and energizing, which is my favorite way to feel after a weekend away. 

The funny thing is, I completely forgot that I'd made a Nashville city guide a few months back - so it was so fun to look back yesterday to see how our actual weekend matched up with the guide. 

Here's what we did from the list:

Barista Parlor, which I loved. It might be my favorite coffee shop ever, which is saying a lot, a lot. It's so experiential, the coffee is unreal AND they have gluten free biscuits + almond milk. I mean. Come on. I was all set. 

Mas Tacos Por Favor, which I also loved. I know. I seem kind of easy right now. But it got me for the same reasons - totally different than Barista Parlor but a true experience. It's a food truck turned hole in the wall, in the best way possible. From the food to the decor to the prices, they never veer from their brand and I loved it. 

Frothy Monkey. YEP more coffee. You could have probably guessed there would be a few stops for java.

Fido for breakfast. I'd been before, but it was still great to go back. 

Imogene + Willie: toooo good. This is Sam's favorite store, so I was so excited to have the chance to see it in person. It was everything I imagined and I really am craving a pair of their jeans now. And I don't even like jeans!

12 South Neighborhood for strolling and shopping. Loved it! Adorable.

Here's the new stuff we found:

Las Paletas: If I made another Nashville City Guide, this would absolutely be on it. You know how I feel about popsicles (/ice cream/dessert). I take it seriously. I was a little worried I had too high of expectations but they did not disappoint. The Salted Caramel was from my dreams.

Savant, White Mercantile and Hip Zipper for shopping: Fun, happy, rainy day activities.

And that's how we Nashed! Thank you all for a happy, happy weekend! And, especially thank you to my constantly generous parents for making it happen. It was the perfect fall weekend! :)

PS: In restrospect, my 48-hour guide is way aggressive because we fit all that + a few more in and were completely out of time. 

How to Spend a Weekend in Austin

Last fall, I went to Austin for the Love Does conference with Robyn. We didn't have a ton of time to explore, but I fell for that city. And not just because they have the first Whole Foods ever. But that certainly didn't hurt.

I'm hoping to get back there sometime in the next year for a more exploratory weekend, so I decided it was the perfect city for my next weekend guide.

With the help of my brother, Sam, who recently went to Austin and is also just a pro and finding the secret treasures in cities, we put one together. So, if you have 48 hours in Austin, here's the best of it, in our opinion:

Wright Bros Brew & Brew - Local coffee and beer in East Austin. Sam says drink the local roast in the aeropress
Flat Track Coffee - Tiny, hidden espresso bar in East Austin with top-knotch breakfast croissants. Sam says? Drink the Americano. Also I, personally, want their t-shirt.
Jo's Coffee - Three locations with brews and java. Mmhmm.

Koriente - Healthy Asian food. --> eat - the hummus roll.
G'Raj Mahal Cafe - BYOB Indian food --> eat - the Naan no matter what. I still think about it. 
Torchy's Tacos - Food truck with fresh tacos --> eat - The Democrat
Homeslice Pizza - Pizza on South Congress --> eat - Classic Pepperoni
La Condesa - Farm fresh Tex-Mex --> eat - the tacos, ribs, cactus...everything
El Sapo - Pretty new Mexican infused burger spot --> eat - the Lamburguesa
Magnolia Cafe - They say everybody knows and everybody goes. --> eat - the black bean entree
Hop Doddy Burger Bar - Burger Bar. Need I say more? --> eat - the Continental Club

Weather Up - Craft Cocktails in an old house in East Austin --> drink - the Presbyterian
Easy Tiger Beer Garden - Beer Garden with homemade pretzels and craft beer

Whole Foods Flagship Store - It's beautiful. I can't even explain the bulk bin section. 
Stag Austin - The end-all, be-all of men's attire
Tesoros Trading company - Crafts and folksy.
Uncommon Objects Antiques - You may call it junk but I know my antique-loving roomie would call it a honey hole.

Hotel St. Cecilia - Near South Congress and looks absolutely beautiful. Last time we did an Air BnB but next time around I want to stay in one of these!
Hotel San Jose - Sits on South Congress and every Austin guide recommends it. Apparently it's the bees knees.

Amy's ice cream - I didn't get to try it but I hear it's the best.
Gourdough's Donuts - I'm not normally one for doughnuts but their crazy concoctions are worth trying.

And that's all we know :) Now, I'm coming for you ATX!

you have 48 hours in nashville: go!

This spring has been full of travel for me. To new places, like Birmingham for Valentine's Day and Mississippi for two upcoming weddings, and familiar places like Chicago for St. Patrick's Day and Virginia for Lily's birthday.

Each time I head into one of these weekends, I find myself frantically Googling at the last minute...
cool things to do in Birmingham 
hidden restaurants in Chicago
the best of Jackson, Mississippi...

Last night I was talking to Jordan and, realizing we're all in the same place - constantly traveling to weddings here, and bachelorette parties there, and showers in Rome - why not help people out?

So with that, I'm starting a new series focused on what to do when you have 48 hours in a city. Beginning with Nashville! It's not far from Atlanta and, between my brothers and a few friends, we quickly compiled a best of in our opinion.

Bear in mind: this is not for the tourist in you. This is what to do if you want to get a feel for the city, drink like the locals and find hidden gems.

So here you have it: What to do with 48 Hours in Nashville....

Mas Tacos Por Favor - Tacos, gluten free options and a once-was partnership with Imogene + Willie for supper + song. Need I say more?
Barista Parlor - Great for brunch or coffee. The Cast Iron Blueberry Skillet Cake made with cornmeal will certainly be on my to try list.
Rosepepper - Mexican Tequila bar that says they have the spirit of old Mexico in the heart of new Nashville. I'll take it. 
Copper Kettle - Great for Sunday brunch - they have a buffet. Unlimited waffles, my friends. 
Husk - Farm to table southern eats. I've been on a real deviled egg kick lately and Husk's are calling my name. 
Bobbie's Dairy Dip - It's an ice cream parlor. What else can I say? Totally my style.
City House - Creative cocktails and dishes (octopus is supposed to be on point). Cozy, open kicthen and wood oven.
Rolf and Daughters - Italian-Mediterranean fusion food made with Southern ingredients. Communal tables that are filled on a first come-first served basis. 

Frothy Monkey - Sit and stay a while. They've got juice, beer, wine and coffee. Basically a beverage for every time of day.
Fido - My favorite cozy spot to sit and sip for a looong time. Not to mention their food is on point. 

The Patterson House - Cocktail bar with speakeasy/prohibition vibe.
Santa's Pub - In a trailer, this cash-only bar offers live music and karaoke every night and beers starting at $2. Are you intrigued yet? You should be.
Robert's - OK this one is really touristy. But, they have fried bologna sandwiches late night on Saturdays and a church service onsite on Sundays. That's funny! It has to be on the list. 
12 South Taproom - Neighborhood atmosphere with drink options out the wazoo. 

Imogene + Willie - Known for their denim but notable for everything, even their candles, I&W is the type of shop you just want to hang out in. You want to sit and stay and watch people try on their custom denim in the shop, which used to be a gas station, for hours. I'm jonesin for the Kontex Nuno Scarf.
Percey Warner Park - great place to trail run and bike. Especially after all this eating and drinking I just suggested (looking at you, fried bologna).
12 South Neighborhood - Perfect for parks, shopping, farmers' markets and exploring.
B-cycle - What better way to explore the city than to bike it? With checkpoints all over the city you can hope on in one location and drop it off in another. 

The Basement - Cozy place for live music. Word on the street is Tuesday nights are New Face Nights and offer up to nine different acts, without cover.
Grimeys - Buy new and used records because live music at The Basement can't go on forever. 
Belcourt Theatre - This is for watching more than it is listening. Old and independent movies, that is.
Exit/In - Known for having legends and nobodies, another great spot for live music
The 5 Spot - Apparently Tuesdays are where it's at in Nashville. Live music and $2 everything on Tuesdays - cover, pints and hot dogs. So if you didn't get enough questionable meat at Robert's, you got another option waiting.
3rd and Lindsley - More good jams, like Wood Brother's (playing tonight!). Every Monday night, they've got the Time Jumpers, a big country band.

And now, I am officially planning a trip to Nashville! Happy trails!

PS: Nashville friends, what am I missing?