Cozumel Mexico North America Travel tips

Activities in Cozumel

We flew into Cozumel, Mexico and took a taxi to our resort Iberostar. This was my first time at an all inclusive and it was so much fun! There are a variety of activities everyday that you can find in a calendar on the Iberostar app. This was helpful to pick and choose what to engage in throughout the week. I chose water aerobics and then created our own games of beach volleyball and cornhole.

Viewpoint of Cozumel
Downtown Cozumel

However, there are also excursions you can choose at the reception desk. We were fortunate to do various activities in Cozumel like take a jeep tour around the island, swim with dolphins, and snorkel around the island.

Jeep Tour

This jeep tour got us off the resort to see what else Cozumel had to offer. We started by visiting Mayan Ruins and learned about the culture that has been for a very long time. Then, our drive to visit alligators at a swamp like location where they were just relaxing under the dock we were walking on. After, we snorkeled in the ocean and also had a tequila tasting and yummy tacos for lunch.

Jeeps in line at lunch spot
Jeeps of the tour at the snorkel spot

After that, we headed to a lighthouse where there were shops! When you do this jeep tour, be sure to bring sunscreen, LOTS of mosquito repellant, and water!

Ocean view
View from the lighthouse

We started the tour in the morning and arrived back at our resort at about 4pm- just in time to shower and get dinner! The tour makes it super easy as we walked out of our resort to the street and they had our jeep ready for us so we hopped in and got going!

Beautiful white wash lighthouse
Lighthouse stop

Swim with Dolphins

We were gifted this opportunity to swim with Dolphins at Dolphin Discovery. This has been something I wanted to do for so long and finally had the chance to do it!

Kisses from my dolphin
Dolphin kisses

It was so much fun and our dolphins were named Charlie and Myranda who were so smart and playful! There was about 10 of us in the group in the water and the instructor stood out of the water and told us how to position our body for the dolphins to swim up. Once we were in position he sent the dolphins to us.

Holding onto dolphins fins
One of the positions we were able to do!

There are a variety of things to do with the dolphins from getting a kiss on the cheek to being pushed out of the water. Dolphin Discovery definitely made it a time to remember, so this is a must do when you choose activities in Cozumel.

Snorkeling the second best reef

Island Reef boat for excursion
Boat for snorkeling

I had no idea that Cozumel has the second best reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef! Luckily, Iberostar Cozumel had a dock where tons of fish hung out under. I’m not good with types of fish so you’ll have to take my word for it. We also saw starfish and stingrays!

Stingrays near the boat
Stingrays in the knee deep water

One day we did a snorkel trip where we swam two locations, including 1 that was knee with stingrays. The snorkel spots were bout 30-40 feet deep in the ocean so you definitely should be a strong swimmer to do this. This is where we ate lunch before heading back to the resort.

There was a mix up with dock closures so we left in the afternoon at 1pm and then docked at 7pm after being told we would be back at 6pm. Not sure what happened there, but we saw more of the Island and downtown Cozumel which was full of shops and restaurants.

Rainbow over the ocean water
View from the boat, waiting to dock

We also snorkeled on our Jeep tour which was fun as we walked into the water and swam to the coral reefs and saw tons more fish and conch shells.

Must do to enjoy your vacation

We definitely took advantage of the time we had and enjoyed every second of it. These activities in Cozumel should definitely be on your bucket list!

Destinations North America Tennessee Travel tips United States

Things to do in Pigeon Forge

Mountain range at Clingmans Dome

The closest airport to Pigeon Forge is McGhee Tyson Airport near Knoxville. Luckily, we met our family there who picked us up to drive to our Airbnb. Otherwise, renting a car would be necessary since it’s an hour drive and no public transportation is available.

Our Airbnb was in Pigeon Forge in the mountains which was beautiful, quiet, and about 30 minutes from Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountains National Park, and Sevierville. This Airbnb had a hot tub, pool table, and incredible views. This was the perfect spot to spend a weekend as it was easy to access and allowed us to do all these things in Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas.

Three things to do

When visiting, here’s three top things to do in Pigeon Forge! All three of these things were easy to get to and puts you in a perfect spot to keep the adventure going and see other towns like Gatlinburg and Sevierville.

Clingmans Dome

  1. Drive through the Smoky Mountains to Clingman’s Dome

Here you pass through Gatlinburg which is another fun town. If you’ve been to Nashville, it’s like a mountain version of that. Lots of restaurants, wine tastings, bars, and an amusement park. After you spend time here, you can head back into the car to drive through the Smoky Mountains. The scenery is beautiful and at the end of April in the Spring, the trees are popping with greenery.

Clingmans Dome


  1. Visit the Nike Clearance store as well as other stores in the Island of Pigeon Forge

I’m not a big shopper when traveling, but this was a must do for me. It was fun to go to and check out what they had to offer. Nike can be pretty expensive, but this has deals going. I got shoes for about $40 which are normally $80+. Close by are other shops like Guy Fieri’s restaurant, other bars, coffee shops, and souvenir shops. 

Moonshine tasting

  1. Do a Moonshine tasting at Ole Smoky Holler

To get the full Tennessee experience, we were surprised with a Moonshine tasting that was super cool! We got a tour of where the Moonshine is made and sent out all across the nation. It was interesting to see the corn meal and hundreds of pounds of sugar heat up due to the chemical reaction itself. Afterwards, we got 12 samples- including peaches, blue flame moonshine to sour watermelon, and finished with two cream like samples of butter pecan and orange shinesicle cream. At the end of the tour, they give you a t-shirt and discounts to purchase the moonshine.

The Holler Distillery

Plenty of options

These three things to do in Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas will have your weekend set up for a great time. Each spot has other activities or shops or things to see to keep the trip flowing. I was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do. They have a variety of family friendly places like attractions to see and interact with if you want to try something different from what was mentioned above!

Chicago Travel tips

Eats in Chicago

Living here for about 5 months, we have checked out quite a few good spots to eat at. We are definitely fortunate to dine out like we have, so I want to share these gems of good eats in Chicago in case you come to town! I included breakfast, lunch, dinner ideas, and there’s of course more, but we’re sticking to three for now.

Breakfast vibes

Egg Harbor Cafe

Hopping off the main street of Michigan Ave, you can find this delicious brunch place on E Illinois Street. The perfect brunch with apple cider mimosas, egg omelets, and more! We reserved our table ahead of time online, and received text updates for when to come in as it gets closer to your time. You do have to check online for what the wait time is, which was nice as it gave us more time to get ready and head out. I’m not sure what the parking situation is as this was within walking distance of where we stayed so it was easy to get to. 

The service was great as the staff was very friendly. We ordered our food and left with happy tummy’s.

goog eats in chicago
Apple cider mimosa & egg omelet.
Look closely for the french toast!

Lunch or Dinner vibes

Su Casa

We always pass this place on our way to the grocery store and one night, we decided to head inside. The margaritas were delicious, and I (usually) always get enchiladas. These enchiladas are the best ones I’ve tasted since living in Southern California. I could never find enchiladas that compared until we went to Su Casa. 

It was inviting and a great atmosphere to be in. We had no wait time and we even went in on a Friday night. That’s hard to find here in Chicago as everyone is out and about.

They dropped chips and salsa on our table, and then we ordered our yummy drinks and food. Check this place out for good eats in Chicago.

good eats in Chicago
Mango Margarita & Chicken Enchiladas

Dinner, or Celebration vibes

Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf

It is on the more expensive side, but the food is absolutely amazing. The vibes and environment is exactly what you would expect from a steakhouse. It has a French inspired flair but more relaxed. Our servers were super friendly and attentive. We came here for my boyfriend’s birthday and they took his wine off the total as a gift. It was so hard to choose what to eat. We decided to go with the 42 day dry aged bone in ribeye, broiled asparagus, and the most delicious, buttery mashed potatoes you could ever imagine.

Birthday boy with the ribeye, potatoes and asparagus
The Birthday boy and our delicious meal

Hidden Gems

These places aren’t your average first picks of places to eat since there’s so many options to chose from. But, they are definitely worth it! Bavette’s is more popular and more of a fine dining place for celebrations, so that might be easy to find. However, if you’re like me then you would not have found it. Steakhouses overwhelm me as there are so many to choose from. Good thing, the guy in the picture above is a big foodie to help me. 😉

Check back soon for more recommendations as we check out new spots!

California Destinations North America United States

One Day in Napa 

I will be honest with you… It wasn’t even one day in Napa, it was less than ten hours. Coming from Pacifica, it was about an hour and forty five minute drive to the first Winery- Laird Family Estate and then a twelve minute drive to Ackerman Family Vineyard. We had a slow start to our day since we left the house around late afternoon, but we wanted to use our time wisely as we only had one day in Napa. We arrived at the first winery and just did wine by the glass at 3pm. After that glass, we hopped back in the car and did an hour wine tasting at 4pm to 5pm. All the wine was very good, however I still will always prefer red wine to white wine.

At Ackerman Family Vineyard, I was surprised by how much I liked the peachy white wine. Sometimes people mention how fruity they taste and I never taste it, but this time I did. I always enjoy dessert wine, but this white wine did the trick for me.

When you go wine tasting, there is a science to it. The “correct” way to do it is: look, sniff, swirl, sip. I’m not a professional by any means, so check out this article to find out more.

Don’t get me wrong… pour wine in front of me and I’ll drink it, and most likely enjoy it. I always love trying new wines to see how they taste and smell so one day in Napa is never a day wasted. This was a quick day trip, so if you find yourself crunching for time, it is always best to set reservations! Thank you cell phones!

Laird Family Estate

This is the typical winery I picture in my head when I hear “Napa”. There were a variety of tables to pick from with the view of the vineyard and mountains in the background. I did not take a picture, unfortunately, so I guess you have to see it for yourself! The staff was lovely and very helpful. We enjoyed one glass of wine in the comfy couches and soaked up the California sun. If you have more time to spend here, you can sit inside or outside. Along the hallway where you check in, there are cute little gifts you can look at and purchase, if desired. At this winery, we spent about $15 per glass of wine and bought a bottle for $60. After 45 minutes, we had to jump over to the other location. 

One day in Napa- Laird Estate
Front entrance to Laird Family Estate.

Ackerman Family Vineyards

Driving through a residential neighborhood, we were surprised to see the Ackerman House on the corner that also offers wine tastings! This location was fixed up by Lauren Ackerman very nicely. It is quiet, as it had trees and fences that kept it secluded although it was close to other houses. They also offer cooking classes, and hold events! I forget the max number, maybe 40?  For the wine tasting we tried 4 different wines, and bought two bottles to come home with us. For two tastings we spent $65 per person and for the wine we spent $130 for two bottles. 

Ackerman House
Ackerman- One day in Napa
4 different wines, my favorite was the Alavigna Tosca!

Porchfest at Ackerman Family Vineyards

Due to many business and events closing down from COVID-19, Porchfest is coming back to Napa where many people from all over the country come to taste wine, listen to music, and hang out like a local. Most houses offer their porches for bands to come play and it sounds like a great time to spend a summer weekend. We visited the second to last weekend in July, but we were told Porchfest happens the last weekend of July. Find out more here!

Dinner at C Casa Restaurant 

After wine tasting, we moseyed on over to check out Oxbow Public Market which has tons of food to choose from. We picked C Casa Restaurant which was decent for Latin cuisine. To share, we ordered the nachos with chicken which was packed with veggies and sour cream.  I enjoyed the Baja Fish Tacos, and a Mai Tai. My sister got the salad which she was not a fan of since it had anchovies on it. My mom ordered the Vegan Chili Verde Tofu that she also thought was delicious. To end our dinner, we got two Cafe Con Leches that were very yummy, and very rich in flavor. The service was decent, and it didn’t seem too busy for a Saturday evening- although we did sit outside and I’m not sure what the employees thought!

drinks- one day in napa
Mai Tai
c casa at oxbow market- one day in napa
Baja fish tacos
dessert- one day in napa
Cafe Con Leche

When in Napa

When you come to Napa, be prepared to spend money. I’m sure you find ways to do it cheaper like not buying bottles to take home, but that’s hard when you find ones you like! It is also very warm so dress for the sun and have a good time!

California Destinations North America United States

Coffee Shops in Pacifica

A small city outside of San Francisco, you’ll find Pacifica! This little beach town holds roughly 40,000 people and some coffee spot gems! I do not like spending a ton of money on coffee, as I view it more as a treat. But, if you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks on coffee, keep reading to find the best coffee shops in Pacifica! Here I have included three different cafes that have totally different vibes.

Coffee shops in Pacifica

After a few days of research and trying new coffee shops, I enjoyed these three places for different reasons. A quick list of the places I stopped at are: Beach Monkey, Pacific Java, and Soul Grind. Continue to the end to figure out my favorite spot!

Beach Monkey

This hidden gem is definitely a locals only place. Beach Monkey is tucked inside Linda Mar in a very small plaza. If you are not in a rush, and want to enjoy an Acai Bowl then you can sit either inside or outside. I visited late in the morning and experienced low waiting time. There’s a nice big table that sits about 6-8 people if you want to have a small business meeting, enjoy coffee and food with friends or family, or grab a coffee by yourself, this is the place to do it! The space is limited, but if it’s not busy it is a nice quiet spot to be. I ordered the Rockaway Acai Bowl, which was delicious. In addition, I had the Café Chai which was sweet like whip cream in it and it didn’t have a strong chai taste, so it was pretty perfect. I paid about $15 for the bowl and coffee.

Beach Monkey coffee shops in Pacifica
Rockaway Acai Bowl and Cafe Chai

Pacific Java 

Pacific Java is located in a more busy area. More busy than Beach Monkey, but not as busy as Soul Grind. As it is one of the stores in this plaza, it is less of a local spot than Beach Monkey. There are gift shops, restaurants, and a variety of stores to check out nearby. The great thing about this place is that it is close to the beach. You can sit inside (upstairs or downstairs), outside, or take your coffee to go and walk along the beach! If you want to see what’s going on in Pacifica for the week or month, there are tons of fliers and business cards on the wall next to the pastry display. I went later in the morning again and it wasn’t a long wait. There were a handful of people sitting inside, and outside as well. The coffee menu has a wide variety to choose from, and the food was limited to pastries and small sandwiches. I ordered the Turmeric Chai to bring back home. This cost me about $5.75 and it was nice to quench my thirst.

Pacific Java coffee shops in Pacifica
Behind me are the fliers about what’s happening in Pacifica!
tumeric chai pacifica coffee shops
Tumeric Chai

Soul Grind

Soul Grind coffee shop is always busy. This is where all the surfers park, and whether you’re a local or from out of town, this café is the place to go. For good reason too, because the coffee is always good. The food menu is filled with options like salads, sandwiches, pastries, and coffee. It has been an up and coming place, but the amount of people has never changed. I am so happy it survived the Pandemic where small businesses shut down. You’ll find a variety of people who do work on their laptops here, grab brunch with friends or family, or my favorite thing to do-  take the coffee and go for a walk on the beach. You have the option to sit inside or outside, as there’s tons of space so I’m sure you can find a spot to sit. Parking is a bit crazy, so if you go here, this is your warning that parking is hit or miss. They have merch like t-shirts that they sell as well which is a great way to support local businesses. I ordered the Cliffside coffee with Almond Milk so it came out to about $7. 

inside soul grind coffee shops in pacifica
Inside Soul Grind
Cliffside coffee

Support small coffee shops

The main reason I wanted to highlight these coffee shops in Pacifica is because they are all small businesses. Each place has its perks whether that’s being more secluded or being in the heart of what’s happening in this beach town. With Starbucks also being an option nearby and close to the same price as these other coffee shops, I hope you choose to support a small business café. I bet you’ll find it just as delicious and convenient as Starbucks, but hopefully more! You may also enjoy the things locals enjoy everyday. I understand some of these prices may be a bit much, but of course sizes vary and types of drinks vary. My favorite place is definitely Soul Grind since it’s so close to the beach and their coffee is always yummy.

coffee shops in pacifica

And for lunch, stop by the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world… located right on the beach!