A day trip to Watkins Glen State Park from Niagara Falls

Known for its world famous motor racetrack, award winning wineries and a state park full of waterfalls Watkins Glen is a great place for a road trip with Instagram worthy scenery for the whole family. I travelled to Niagara Falls with my friends and on our way to Niagara Falls, New York we decided to take a day trip to the beautiful and popular Watkins Glen State Park in Finger Lakes. Located on the southern tip of Seneca Lake in the Finger lakes, Watkins Glen State Park is a gorgeous place for hiking, camping and outdoor recreation.

As we were only doing a day trip to Watkins Glen on our way to the majestic Niagara Falls, we decided to visit Watkins Glen State Park, famous for its stream -carved gorge now preserved as a State Park.

Fun Facts about Watkins Glen State Park

  1. The gorge derived its name from Dr. Samuel Watkins and his brother John who acquired land in the area in the 1850’s.
  2. To increase tourist appeal, in the mid 1920’s the word “Glen” was added to the town name – Watkins.
  3. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs generating 19 waterfalls.
  4. The gorge emerged more than 2.5 million years ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age when the polar ice sheet advanced and receded and making it wider and deeper each time the ice sheet advanced southward.

When to Visit?

Watkins Glen is open all year however the best time to visit the park is anytime other than the winter months. Personally, we visited the state park in May and thought it was the perfect time to enjoy and explore the State Park without it being too hot or too cold. We combined it with our trip to the Niagara Falls.

Where to enter the park ?

There are three entrances to enter the park – Upper, South and Main. We entered the park through the South Entrance as we also made a quick stop at the Hector Falls along the way which are the third tallest falls in the state. Since the South entrance sits between the main and upper entrances its a great place to start as you will be in the middle of the park and you can retrace your steps as you like. There is no fee to visit the park although there is a parking fee of $8 per vehicle. The upper entrance is not as busy as the other entrances and on long holidays or weekends it may be easier to find parking here in case the main and south entrance are full.

The scenic gorge trail is family friendly however not the most accessible for those with mobility issues. It is an easy and incredible hike with gorgeous views but just be careful as the wet leaves and waterfalls make the path a little slippery sometimes.

We explored walking along the spectacular gorge soaking in the lush greens, waterfalls and fresh air. Walking through a spiral staircase we found ourselves at the Suspension bridge crossing over Watkins Glen Gorge. It made me get lost in nature while also connecting with myself on a deeper level and feeling absolutely rejuvenated.

While all the falls are beautiful my absolute favorite was the Rainbow Falls. We spent most of our time at the striking, delicate, dramatic and beautiful Rainbow Falls. The view from here is absolutely marvelous. The water falling from above, the bridge in the background, the lovely stone stairs is something that looks like from a fairytale. Did you know – The falls get its name from the rainbows that appear in the mist of the falls on sunny days.

As we explored the gorge, we were pleasantly surprised by the powerful Cavern Cascade. The spiral tunnel seemed like a dead end but as we walked down, it led us underneath the Cavern Cascade. Try to put your hand underneath the falls and you will be surprised to find out how strong the current is.

Tips for visiting Watkins Glen State Park

  1. Carry water as there is no water fountain along the trail.
  2. Wear waterproof and comfortable shoes.
  3. During the summer months there is a bus shuttle between the three entrances which helps navigates around the park.
  4. Carry a map, it will come in handy to know where you are and what you would like to explore.

If you are looking for the ultimate travel guide to Niagara Falls which is only a 2.5 hours drive check out my blog post here

Hope you enjoyed reading my post! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to answer them. For all other travel guides and to receive my blog posts subscribe to the blog follow me on Instagram.

Food, Travel

Islamorada – A day trip from Miami

I recently visited Miami with my friends in April and took a day trip to Islamorada and fell in love with it at first glance. Known for its towering palm trees, sandy beaches, pristine and clear water, laid-back vibe, and breathtaking sunsets, Islamorada is a complete paradise. Did you know? – Islamorada is one of the Florida Keys and is on the way to Key West.

Only a 90 mins drive from Miami, Islamorada is a great place to go for a day trip. Islamorada is known as the sport fishing capital of the world with beautiful local restaurants and quaint shops with a small town island vibe which I absolutely love. Even if fishing is not your thing it is equally appealing for divers, snorkelers and kayaking.

Fun Fact – The name Islamorada came from the early Spanish explorers in the area which means Purple Isle.

Things to do

While there are a lot of things to do in Islamorada our goal was to just enjoy the beaches, relax and sip in some cocktails with delicious food.

  1. Anne’s beach – This is one of the most popular beaches in Islamorada and for good reason. It has very clear blue waters making it picturesque. It has picnic spots to enjoy the stunning views and is a small beach with shallow waters. It does not have much of sandy areas so if you are in a large group like us you may not find enough space to enjoy the sandy areas and just relax. However, it has a great boardwalk and is one of the beaches in Islamorada where you can bring your pets.
  2. Sombrero Beach, Marathon – This beach is approximately 25 miles ahead of Anne’s beach but absolutely amazing if you are looking for a white sandy beach to just relax and soak in the sun this is great. If you enjoy swimming I would recommend heading to this one and a bonus its a great place to catch the sunset!! Also this beach has a great volleyball court and a park area for kids.

Where to Eat

  1. Morada Bay Beach Cafe– A cute cafe with waterfront dining overlooking the Florida Bay. A great place to get drinks and food with stunning views. We went here during Covid times and what I appreciated the most was that the tables were spread out making it very easy to maintain social distancing.
  2. Lorelai’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar – What can I say!! I absolutely loved the place. It has so many amazing food options to pick from even for vegetarians and everything was so fresh. A great place to grab delicious food, tasty drinks, waterfront views overlooking the Florida bay(beautiful sunsets), and live entertainment from local bands. Very well spaced table to maintain social distancing and have some privacy. Highly Recommend!!

Hope you enjoy reading this post. Check out the complete travel guide to Miami here. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Food, Travel

Getaway : A Cabin Experience and Escape from Boston

I know this post has been long due and I apologize for the long break without posts. 2020 had been a difficult year to say the least and my husband and I decided to end the year detaching ourselves from technology and soaking ourselves in nature. I started university back in Fall 2020 to pursue my MBA and at the end of my semester I was exhausted and ready to spend sometime off from the computer and I could not be happier. Personally, we did not want to take a flight and travel unless absolutely necessary due to the pandemic and also wanted to maintain social distancing while enjoying sometime off. We travelled to the Getaway house towards the end of December for three days two nights and picked the Escape from Boston which is located in New Hampshire. This New Hampshire Getaway House fulfilled it all for us!

The Getaway house is located at various locations throughout the country such as NYC, Atlanta, Washington D.C, Dallas, Houston, LA, Portland, etc. Use this link to receive $25 off your stay.

If you are someone who has always wanted to try camping and enjoys the outdoors but cannot go without a hot shower or a bathroom like me then the getaway experience is a perfect balance that offers the best of both worlds. It provides a comfy escape with the most relaxing views.

What is a Getaway House ?

For anyone who does not know what a getaway house is, let me explain it simply. A Getaway house is a container converted into cabin to provide a simplified glamping experience even for people with no camping experience. There are number of such cabins at each getaway location. The various cabins are spread in wooded areas approximately 150 feet apart from each other such that there is privacy and no one can see inside your cabin but also not too scary leaving you completely alone in the many acres of the wooded area.

One thing I really liked was all the cabins are named after the grandparents of the staff to honor their services and care they put in to ensure we enjoy a seamless experience. Our cabin name was Rose as it was beautiful.

What the Getaway is equipped with?

The getaway is equipped with all the essentials we needed for your stay and nothing that we didn’t making it a minimalist but amazing experience. Do not be fooled by the small size of the cabin. It is packed with literally everything you will need to make your stay so much more enjoyable. It is equipped with AC, heat, AM/FM radio, wireless speakers, toilet, hot shower, a private fire pit, grilling area with a picnic table and chairs, stove top, a mini refrigerator, salt, pepper, olive oil, utensils, a comfortable bed, etc. Check out the complete list of what is included in the house here. We also thought that the staff was extremely helpful and only a text or call away.

There is no WIFI at the getaway house and limited cell phone service depending on your provider which forces you to embrace the nature, enjoy the simple things in life and take a real break. They also provide a box to lock your phones away and enjoy yourselves without any devices. We actually thought this was a blessing after the crazy Zoom overdose we had. The Zoom fatigue was real and we could not think of a better way to completely switch off. We even put our phones in the box and locked them away for the weekend to enjoy a quiet time without any distractions. Trust me you will love it even if no WIFI and limited cell phone service sounds daunting at first. They provide some books and games at the cabin and we took our own books to read as well. It is was great way to shrug off the stress of work and detaching ourselves from the internet.

Safety and Security

Every Getaway house has a digital lock on the front door and a unique code which was texted to us on the day of check in with the name of your Cabin. This allowed us to securely lock our cabin while we explore around without worrying about your belongings.

Stay Options

The Getaway house offers two different kinds of cabins. One for two people (where we stayed) and one which can accommodate a maximum of four people(bunk beds) which is a great option for anyone traveling with kids. All the cabins have the bed located right next to the big glass window so we had the perfect view to wake up to. This is a great experience for anyone who wants to unplug and get away from the hustle of the everyday life. I thought it was a great place for even a solo traveler who loves to get inspired by nature and write a book, music, or any fun creative project on their mind.

Waking up in the morning with the perfect backdrop of nature was such a surreal experience. We absolutely loved the seating area created right next to the window and enjoyed sipping hot chocolate and reading a book in the cold. Could not think of a better way to start the day looking at the snow covered trees and enjoying the nature. Cannot wait to go back and try the other Getaway Houses at the other locations!

What to Pack/Bring ?

  1. Carry your favorite games, books or a creative project you would like to work on.
  2. Carry a bug spray if you are visiting during the summer months.
  3. A grill pan is optional not necessary.
  4. Grilling Food – Corn, strawberries, pineapple, ingredients to make kebabs, paneer/tofu, potatoes, bell peppers, onions, marshmallows, marinades, burgers, Maggi, etc.
  5. Snacking or any other Food items.
  6. Wine, champagne or anything you like to drink.
  7. Hot chocolate.
  8. Comfy clothes.

There are grocery stores nearby but I highly recommend planning and carrying what you need to save yourself a trip to the grocery store. The cabin also offers a survival kit if you like which includes food options.

Things to do Nearby

  1. Blasty Bough Brewing Company – If you want to check out some local brewery and try some local beers with beautiful views and live music check out the Blasty Bough Brewing Company. Check the link here for all the details.
  2. Pawtuckaway State Park – Located around 30 minutes from the cabin this state park offers hiking trails and boulders to climb. We did not do this during our stay but would love to check it out another time.

Things to do at the Getaway

  1. Movie/Game Night – We also did a movie and game night with popcorn and wine which we enjoyed a lot. We took some of the DVD’s of movies we wanted to watch and games we enjoyed. This was so much fun and I dont remember the last time I used a DVD before this experience. This was a great way to leave behind the reliance on Netflix and other streaming services.
  2. Grilling outside the cabin – Grilling under the stars, with a firepit was a perfect way for us to enjoy our nights with some music, wine and amazing food. They gave us a kit for grilling marshmallows, making s’mores too which was perfect to enjoy the fire pit outside during the cold month of December. They also provide fire wood, fire starting materials, a lighter and instructions on how to light a fire. They charge you at the end of your stay for the fire wood and the fire starting materials you used. It was our very first time to start a fire and the instructions were easy to follow. We enjoyed grilling kebabs, pineapple, strawberries and marshmallows, corn, paneer (an Indian version of tofu), and toasting s’mores and relished them. We loved it so much that we barely used the stovetop for any cooking even when it was freezing outside.
  3. Walk in the woods – If you are not in the mood to get out, the backyard of the Getaway House has nearby hiking/walking trails you can explore. We enjoyed walking around the trails nearby and collecting pinecones on the trails for the house.

Highly Recommend trying the Getaway House for a unique experience and coming home rejuvenated from the day to day stress of life. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out and leave a comment! Use this link to receive $25 off your stay

Food, Travel

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Miami

Renowned worldwide for its beautiful beaches, colorful street art, rich Cuban heritage, glamorous nightlife, diverse and vibrant food plates, interesting cultural mix, amazing music, and sunny weather – Miami needs no introduction. The vibe in Miami is amazing with beautiful palm tree-lined beaches and incredible sunrises and sunsets. Yes, I fell in love with Miami! It had me smiling from start to finish.

How to get to Miami

I traveled to Miami with my husband the first time and we took the flight from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Fl and from Fort Lauderdale, you can either take the Brightline rail, uber to Miami or rent a car and drive to Miami. We took the flight to Fort Lauderdale as I was flying on the 4th of July weekend and direct flights to Miami had skyrocketing prices since we were booking last minute. On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale offered better rates and it takes approximately only 30 mins to reach Miami from there. There are also direct flights from Boston to Miami which you can opt for. The second trip I took to Miami was with friends and took a direct flight to Miami.

Where to stay in Miami

We absolutely loved our stay at the Four Seasons which has great views of both the city and the bay, a fun pool deck, hammocks where you can lay and sip your drinks while reading a book or simply relax, a great spa to pamper yourself, a fitness center for every fitness freak and all the other 5 star amenities you look for. My favorite in-room feature was the comfortable cushioned window seat that is perfect for curling up with a book or just relaxing to soak in the views. Bathrooms are large and the bed was super comfortable where I would just sink in at the end of the day. I highly recommend booking the Bay view rooms as the views are extremely peaceful.

Best Time to visit Miami

Florida is hot and sunny for for almost most of the year so there is not really a bad time to visit Miami. However, Spring – from March to May is one of the best times mainly because it is warm but not as humid as it would get during summer and also because it is not the hurricane season. If you are planning a trip in summer – make sure you check the weather as rains in summer is very common in Miami. I travelled to Miami in summer but was lucky to have skipped the rains completely. Summer is also one of the busiest times of the year to visit Miami purely because school break which enables families to take vacations. The winter – December to February is high season time for Miami as everyone wants to escape the dreaded cold and temperatures in Miami are usually in the 70’s making it a great time to visit.

Must-do things in Miami

1) Little Havana Rituals Tour – I cannot recommend this tour more. It was a fun way to learn about traditions and Cuban culture. Yoel makes this tour extremely personable and exciting experience. On his tour he shows the perfect way to make Cuban coffee, explore cigar and rum pairings (Trust me I am not a cigar person or even a smoker – It was my first time trying a cigar well actually second but my first time I could barely get to even lit a cigar and I had a great time) and explains the history and the significance of Little Havana as we explore. He is himself originally from Cuba and is extremely knowledgeable. If you are looking for an authentic Cuban experience in Miami – this is it!! He offers the tour both in English and Spanish and is very accommodating to fit your schedule. He also gives great suggestions to explore in Little Havana. Attaching the link for the tour here

2) Wynwood Walls – The Wynwood Walls was established in 2009 by the visionary Tony Goldman as an outdoor museum of international street art. It is a unique outdoor destination featuring huge, colorful street murals by artists from around the globe and is free. I am an absolute sucker for color and the Wynwood walls had me completely mesmerized. Before going to Miami I had seen some pictures on social media and I could not wait to go and see those walls myself. While the Wynwood walls are the most famous in that area, the street art extends further stretching for a few blocks and all the murals are an absolute treat for the eyes. While I explored Wynwood walls myself there are also tours which you may take to learn more about the walls and artists.

3) Vizcaya Museums and Gardens – While Miami has the reputation of partying, the Vizcaya Musem and Gardens will transport you to an entirely different place. It was the winter estate of millionaire James Deering and a great example of the American Opulence during the early 1900s. To say the estate is gorgeous, impressive, or even magnificent, would be an understatement. The gardens extend up to around 10 acres and are massive and are so beautiful that pictures do it no justice. The museum and gardens have hosted several weddings and special occasions, given the site’s architectural and natural beauty and also screened several movies. It took me approximately 3 hours to explore the magnificent museums and gardens.

4) Miami Design District – If you are looking for a good photography area then Miami design district should be on your list- From casual selfies to professional photoshoots. It has everything from shopping, architecture, restaurants, and even contemporary art.

5)Miami City Lights Night Paddle Boarding or Kayak Tour – My new year resolution this year was to try different things and experiences I have never done before. I booked this tour with Daniel for a Paddleboarding experience I had never done before and what an experience it was! There is no better way to see the lights and sights of Miami than from the water. The skyline looks so scenic from the water and Daniel makes this excursion extremely fun. If you are looking for a unique and unconventional adventure to see the city of Miami I highly recommend this tour more even if you do not know to swim. I myself do now know to swim but Daniel ensures to make you comfortable to enjoy this beautiful experience and provides you with all the safety gear required. Daniel also plays music and brings beer and wine which is complimentary and takes amazing pictures. Attaching the link for the tour here

6) Little Havana Food Tour – One of the things I enjoy to do is to explore a new place by taking a food tour. I think you can learn so much about the culture and history of the place and at the same time enjoy delicious food and drinks along the way at some of the local favorites places. I decided to take the Little Havana food tour with Miami Culinary Tours and cannot recommend it more. They also have another tour of the South Beach food and if you are taking the Little Havana Rituals tour I would advise you to take the South Beach food tour as there is an overlap between the two tours however the food experience is great. We covered 7 places on this tour. When we spoke to JJ who was our tour guide he suggested that the South Beach food tour is also amazing and offers a great experience. Something on my list to try the next time I visit Miami. The best thing about Miami Culinary Tours was that they can adjust the tour to suit everyone’s needs without compromising the experience. While others in the tour enjoyed the meat-based options our guide had tailored the tour as per my request as I am a vegetarian and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We covered around 7 places. Attaching the link for the tour here

7) South Beach – Needless to say you are in Miami so hit the beach. A great point to watch the sunset in Miami is at the South point pier point. I am an absolute beach person so enjoyed spending my time at the beach dipping in the salty seawater, just relaxing on the daybed sipping my Pina Coladas and gaping in the beauty of the mighty sea. Later in the evening, we walked on the ocean drive exploring the area, shops, and bars. The best way to explore Ocean drive is by walking.

Restaurant/Bars Recommendations

1) Barton G. The Restaurant Miami Beach – I simply wanted to try Barton G for the over the top experience that they have the reputation for. They completely awed me by all their inventive presentation and pushed my imagination. Watching people receive their food and drinks is a show in itself as the presentation on each of them is extremely unique. My favorite part of this experience was the fancy drinks – Sabrinatini and Buddhalicious and the extravagant dessert -Dolla Dolla Bills Y’All that I got. The desserts there go all the way up to $250.

2) Kyu – Located in the heart of Wynwood this wood-fired Asian fusion place offers a great array of flavors. Kyu is a believer in green and sustainable methods, The Kyu Team vows to plant trees, and source most of their foods locally. My favorites at Kyu were Roasted Cauliflower( their signature dish), Grilled summer corn, and Thai fried rice. The Pollinator and Koji and Oates were my favorite drinks.

3)Planta South Beach– Planta is such a cute little spot decorated with plants and great to get brunch/lunch. It is a vegan place and I cannot recommend it enough even if you are not vegan or vegetarian. The food is lip-smacking. I highly recommend getting the cauliflower tots, steamed dumplings and spicy tuna from the small plates. For the large plates, I recommend the Planta Burger with a side of truffle fries. I got the Pink Flamingo and Charcoal Bourbon sour cocktails and loved them both. I also got the Strawberry cheesecake with sorbet and charcoal flavoredsoft serve – Both were delicious.

4) The Bazaar by Jose Andres South Beach – James Beard-winning chef blends his Spanish heritage with the local Latin tradition of South Beach. This is a tapas-style place so calling for food for the table is a great option. They have a great and vast selection of wines. My favorites here were Kueh Pai Tai, Cana de Cabra, Creamy Coconut Rice, and Patata Bravas. For dessert, I enjoyed the deconstructed version of the key lime pie.

5) Bodega Miami Beach – Whether you have had a long day on the beach or looking to crave your late-night hunger after all the partying and need some fuel – these tacos are a must! And the best part – they are open until 5.00 am. They also have a speakeasy bar in the back with great music which is so fun. Highly recommend.

6) Sugar – This chic rooftop bar and garden is located on the 40th floor of the East Miami Hotel. It is a great place to take in the panoramic views of downtown Miami skyline surrounded by the water.

7) Ball and Chain – Located in the heart of Little Havana and known for its rich history this bar serves great mojitos and has great live music playing all day and a great place to shake a leg. The vibrancy of the Latin culture shines here. Cardi B, J Balvin and Bad Bunny have filmed the “I like it like that” music video right here. Highly recommend.

8) Cuban Coffee and sandwiches– Las Olas Cafe or Versailles Restaurant Cuban Cuisine are good places to try the Cuban coffee.

9) Bachour – The desserts here are a piece of art and are exquisitely arranged and have the ideal balance of sweetness, flavor, and texture. The desserts are themselves Instagram worthy without any filters. Highly recommend.

10) Mango’s Tropical Cafe South Beach – Mango’s is very tropical and colorful with a great South beach vibe. I went to Mangos’s for drinks. It is a fun and entertaining place with live music and different performances. They are most famous for their mojitos and also have a dance floor to dance to the beats.

11) Clevelander South Beach – We went to Clevelander’s at dusk to get drinks and a quick bite. The music was great- a variety of old, new and different genres. They have an outdoor bar and pool surrounded by palm trees on the ocean drive.

12) Esplonala Way – Definitely explore this small pedestrian street which was built to mimic the Spanish village and as a result has a very Europe meets Miami vibe. With twinkling fairy lights the streets are picturesque and there are several restaurants to choose from with great music. We strolled around the street and then decided to get Italian on the street which was amazing.

13) Call me Gaby – Looking for an Instagram worthy romantic, modern Italian gem with a charming outdoor patio? Check out this restaurant with a great ambience and delicious food. You will not be disappointed!! We loved the cheese platter, drinks, pizzas, and our favorite was the stuffed gnocchi which we ordered several portions of. This place has great vegetarian options.

For all the dining experiences I highly recommend making a reservation beforehand as sometimes it gets difficult to get a reservation.

Shopping Recommendations

  1. Lincoln Road Mall – An open air mall with lots of options to shop including clothing, jewelry and accessories, beauty and shoes. Also, there are many options to grab a bite while you shop.
  2. K-Armas – While I am traveling I like to shop at boutiques or brands that are not available where I live. This was a cute boutique store that I found in Little Havana and fell in love with everything in the store. They have great bikinis, swimming costumes, beach/summer bags, accessories and clothes. They also have another shop just next door.
  3. The Shops at Mary Brickell Village – There are many shops, cafes and restaurants at the Mary Brickell Village. ‘Atiqshop’ was yet another boutique store where I really liked the collection. They had some really trendy and stylish pieces and accessories. The owners are very helpful and really help you to find something you are looking for.
  4. Dolphin Mall, Bayside Marketplace and Aventura Mall – Some other good places to shop in Miami.

Day Trip

We also took a day trip to explore Islamorada which is one of the Florida Keys and on the way to Key West. Check out a detailed post on what we did in Islamorada and where to eat here.

If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer all your questions.