Where We Stay + Eat Miami | Part I

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Eat - Stay - Drink - Do - MIAMI & South Beach City Guide

Miami is one of our favorite cities to travel to for a few reasons. When we first got married we lived about an hour north, so it was our day off destination & getaway from the suburbs. We made a lot of memories there, as we maneuvered our first year of marriage & really began to understand what we value about 'home'. Secondly, it seems that we make our way back to South Florida about once a year, so we have our list of favorite spots & always love trying out new places.

Over time - we have found one amazing hotel in particular that we LOVE. The Confidante. It's a Hyatt hotel, but within their boutique collection. It has an amazing pool [& family pool!!], beach access, a restaurant, free weekend fitness classes on the roof & so much more. 

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I don't usually bring my camera when we go out to restaurants, but I had high expectations for this one. Planta is a Toronto based Restaurant that's totally vegan. The best part about it was that they grow almost all of their vegetables on the roof of their restaurant! There was even a root hanging down into the restaurant [you can see it in the top of one of the photos!]. I freaking loved it. Now I know most people are going to completely write this place off because it's vegan, but I promise, it was delicious! Nate loved it too & that boy loves meat. We all went in & shared a few plates & were not disappointed at all.

Last place that we ate at & felt like it would be a great option for a large group, is Wynwood Yard.  It's an area in Wynwood with rotating food truck options & lots of seating! It was fun, but when we went it was HOT & there was a lot of seating in the sun. It absolutely would be better later in the evening for drinks & the vibe definitely is a bit more exciting!

LASTLY! This is not a stay or an eat, it is a DO & I have to share it. These are only iphone photos because we were out on the water, but if you can, rent paddle-boards or kayaks! We rented through South Beach Kayak & loved our experience.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS! 
- arrive about 15 minutes early so you can fill out your form & sign the waiver.
-don't bring anything. They have tiny lockers where they will hold your items, but it's mostly for shoes, phones & wallets. their shop is not big. It is one single room & there are a lot of renters.
-you will not be able to wear your shoes/clothes down to the water & then take them off - you will walk across the street in your bathing suit & barefoot. If you're nice they might let you walk over in shoes & bring them back to their shop for you ;)
-you can rent a little waterproof box for your phone for $10 [which we did!] 
-be nice to them. they KNOW what they're doing & although you might feel like an idiot when they're explaining things to you...just know they know best & have your best in mind.
-it might be windy! paddle-boarding in wind is hard. take a kayak instead.
-your arms will feel like they are limp noodles. keep going, it's worth it.
-lastly, be OK TO FALL OFF! it's fun & helps not be so boiling hot on the water. 
-ENJOY YOURSELF & LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY HOUSES!!!

Our Favorite Coffee Spots in Miami | Part II

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Eat - Drink - See - Miami Coffee Guide

When we lived in Florida in 2012/13, Nate & I hunted for good coffee every time we drove into Miami. It took the city a while, but they've finally began to open some great shops & we have tried a lot of them! Here is our list in order from our most to least faves.
Panther Coffee -which now has multiple locations!! wooo! Wynwood & Miami Beach are our faves.
All Day -lots of delicious food options! you can absolutely get a full meal here.
Miam -great food options here as well. 
Mister Block -definitely instagram friendly
Blue Bottle -a craft coffee chain across the US. get a cheese & guava pastry!
OTL -not the greatest coffee, but the food was delicious. also v instagram friendly.

I love returning to a city & seeing that there are new places to eat & drink & enjoy the culture! Miami is FULL of culture & has so many eating & drinking options. We always recommend people spend time in both Wynwood & on Miami Beach as that's where the most variety is! 

Family Vacation - Oahu Part III

Waimea Bay

 

Our favourite parts of North Shore were Waimea Bay & Haleiwa. We went to Waimea Bay two days & honestly could have spent all day everyday there. It was such a great beach & everyone got what they wanted out of it - surfing, swimming, lounging & it's pretty close to town. WE. LOVED. IT. that's all. 
Side note - Nate & I jumped off this rock one day while we were there & it was AMAZING. I've never jumped off anything before but I've always wanted to!!

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The house that we stayed in for the week had boogie boards & I am SO glad they did! We had such a fun time on them in the waves & on our last evening there my parents literally would not get out of the water. Did I say already that it was so much fun?? It was so much fun.
Basically everyday it rained for some portion of the day - so when we were on the beach we either hid under the umbrella or made sure we were in the water before it started! The rain was COLD & windy. But we tried to make the most of it!

& now here are some gifs of my brother in law sandboarding into the river.

 

Family Vacation - Oahu Part II

Haleiwa & the North Shore of Oahu

 

One of my favourite parts about this trip with my family was how laid back everyone was. We would be driving & see something & just pull off the side of the road to look. We didn't always have a plan for where to eat, but we figured it out on the fly & everyone was just along for the journey. It was so great!
One day on our way home from the beach we pulled off on the side of the road as we had seen cars there all week & wanted to know what they were there for. Turns out it was turtles!!! It's right on Laniakea Beach & there's space to pull over on the side of the road to park! This was post beach-day & we all had some crazy hair & burnt faces, but we were happy :)

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We stopped in Haleiwa a couple times for snacks & going to the surf shops & I loved it! I think next time I would prefer staying up there, there's so many cute places & I had a lengthy list of things I wanted to do in town! We stopped to get Shave Ice one night, but the shop was closed, so we got ice cream across the street. Nate walked down the street & got coffee at Coffee Gallery & he was very happy about it.

On one of our other days in town we all split up to get lunch & while I was waiting for my food from The Elephant Shack [which had DELICIOUS thai food!] Nate found a shop called Number808 & it was so great! #ryhmeintended. After that we tried the North Shore Shave Ice again & it was open! *yay* I highly suggest adding the condensed milk on top, makes a HUGE difference! Also the medium is very large. very.

Other places we had on our list but didn't make it to!
Tropical Rush - they had a great deal on Stand Up Paddleboarding down the river that I wanted to do, but didn't have time!
Crispy Grindz - they had a couple food trucks on the road up to Haleiwa as well!
Haleiwa Bowls - another food truck style shop on the side of the road
The Sunrise Shack - we drove past it minimum 6 times & I still missed it everytime. If you look on their instagram you will see alllll the vibes.

 

Family Vacation - Oahu Part I

 

For the rest of our stay, we were up on the Northern part of the island right outside of Laie in an airbnb. We LOVED staying up there as we were only 15-30 minutes from some of the best beaches on the island. My brother-in-law woke up early every morning & surfed at Pipeline, which was probably the most ideal situation ever!!
We made daily stops at Foodland for some type of groceries or snack. We ate a few times at the food trucks at the Mill, our faves were Seven Brothers & Ono Yo Frozen Yogurt

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We spent one day at the Polynesian Cultural Center & it was such a great way to learn more about all the cultures of the islands in Polynesia. It was pretty pricey, but the pass is good for three days, which would have been good to know ahead of time. ha! We just didn't plan for it & didn't have the time to dedicate to it. BUT! It was beautiful & I felt like I went on a trip around the islands. Also you can go into the entrance area & eat some snacks & see some cool shops without buying a ticket to the whole Center. I HIGHLY suggest going into Tutu's Sweets Shop & getting the Dole Whip. We did that once for a late night treat & it made us all extremely happy.

We drove down to Hanauma Bay for a beach day, as my parents had been there on their last trip to Hawaii over 20 years ago! It's a national park, so it costs to get in & you have to do a brief lesson on what you can & can't do in the water because it's protected coral reef. We liked the beach, but it was packed & my parents said it wasn't as beautiful as it was all those years ago! We did some snorkeling, but didn't see many fish. Kind of a bummer, but I'm still glad we saw it!

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Other things we had on our list for the southern part of the island but didn't get a chance to do: Halona Beach Cove, Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail,  Pillbox Hike [outside of Kailua] & Nalu Health Bar.

 

Honolulu - Where we ate food & drank coffee

 

Best Food & Coffee in Waikiki

Obviously we haven't been EVERYwhere in Waikiki, and there were a lot of places on our list that we didn't make it to. But our favorites are all listed here & we LOVE them. Lots of them we've been to MULTIPLE times & some of them were new on this trip!
Starting off is Olive & Oliver. It's in the lobby of the Surfjack Hotel & it is both a shop with curated goods as well as a coffee shop. Highly recommend! 

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Our second stop was Arvo & we went there three different times on our trip. :) Yummy toasts, great coffee, GREAT vibes & of course, a beautiful floral shop ALL IN ONE. 
It's a drive from Waikiki, we took an Uber & it cost us about $15, but the neighborhood it's in is great! Lots of shops around & a great camera store that we bought a new camera from!

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If you've ever heard Nate or I talk about Hawaii, you've heard us talk about Bills. We've been an embarrassing amount of times in Hawaii & also in London. You can't eat bad food there. & their Waikiki Location is so beautiful. We went twice this trip [we have problems..] & our favourite order was the calamari. 

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Last but very not least, I mentioned the Hideout in my post about our stay at the Laylow. We had one nice family dinner together & it was at the Hideout. Their patio is the most perfect ever & I could have lived there the entire trip & been perfectly content.

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Some other places we wantd to try but didn't get a chance to were Marukame Udon,  Morning Glass Coffee, Mahina & Sons

 

Hawaii Vacation - Where we stayed

 

Where to stay in Honolulu Hawaii - The Laylow

Nate & I travel a lot for a variety of reasons, but this trip was so special because it was a FULL vacation, no work, just us & my family. We had such a great time & we were in total chill mode the entire week, with no schedule or plans, other than sunshine, waves & eating food. AND WE DID ALL OF THOSE!!!! 
We started our trip off with a night in Honolulu, as we arrived a day earlier than my family, due to weather delays in Toronto. Nate & I have spent time in Honolulu three times & love it more every single time. We stayed at the Laylow, which is a small boutique hotel within the Marriott brand.

Our room was very spacious & I wished we could have spent more time in it, but...sunshine. Its not on the water, so the view is not anything extravagant, but can't win them all you know? I also asked Nate multiple times if I could take home the soap dish. I really thought about it. 

This hotel was by far our favourite stay on Waikiki for a variety of reasons, but the number one is the Hideout. It is the cafe/bar/restaurant patio that is connected to the hotel & I'd give it a 15/10. We even went back there with my whole family for dinner later on in our trip. They have a little indoor restaurant area which was beautiful & it connected right out to the patio. We walked along the beach for a bit & then went back to the patio for a drink. The next morning we had breakfast there & sat by the pool for a minute! Everything was so relaxing!

Our other hotel options were The Surfjack & The Modern, & in the past we've stayed at the Marriott Waikiki & the Hilton Hawaiian Village

 

A Weekend in LA - Where to Stay

 

We stayed in two different hotels during our time in Downtown LA & although I loved them both a lot, they were incredibly different. 
The first on was Freehand in Downtown LA & I was obsessed!! Our room was so great & I wished I could move in & stay there forever. Plus there was a Whole Foods across the street & a Shake Shack around the corner. Nothing better.
Also -- THAT BATHROOM TILE!? yes please.

Beyond just the room, the lobby, cafe, rooftop pool [which we devastatingly DID NOT UTILIZE] & the view.. they were INSANE!! I could not get enough of it. I only took iphone pics of those, but still, so beautiful.
 


Next up was The Line in Koreatown which I also loved! It was definitely a hot spot, but the aesthetic & the rooftop pool & Commissary were SO great. & the view from the bed, I mean, absolutely cannot beat that.