On the Road: Fall Trip to the Berkshires

As I mentioned in Allie’s most recent update, we took a little road trip earlier this month to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts to check on the leaves and partake in some fall fun.

(Yes, I know—#basic. But, I don’t care. I <3 this time of year, and I’m going to make sure that A and B do too).

We stayed in Pittsfield, which was about a five hour drive from Philly, and centrally located to all the places we wanted to visit. The suite-style property was ideal for traveling with A and B because it had extra space for them to play and a kitchen that was stocked with all the basics, so that we could make breakfast and dinner.

Enjoying hotel life

On our first full day in the area, we drove up to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Had it not been so cloudy and windy, we would have had a better view from nearly 3,500 feet up. But, B enjoyed picking dandelions and tolerated my requests for photos, so it wasn’t a wasted venture.

Stopping at a scenic point on the way up

Obsessed with dandelions

It was windy up there!

On a clear day, you can see up to 90 miles away

We made a pit stop to visit some alpacas.

After a quick stop for lunch at Blueberry Hill Market and Cafe (located in New Lebanon, NY, which is basically just over the border from MA) we headed to the Harvest Festival at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. All of the dreams that the girls never knew they had came true, when they got to jump into big piles of hay, and B had her face painted for the first time.

My little puppy

The next day was pretty rainy, but we ventured into downtown Pittsfield for brunch at Otto’s Breakfast and Deli. The entire town seemed deserted, but it turns out that’s because everyone had the same idea for brunch and was waiting for a table at Otto’s. A and B kept everyone entertained while we waited, and the omelettes were excellent.


Walking to brunch in the drizzle

After that, we did some more leaf peeping, and walked around Lenox, a cute little town filled with shops, art galleries, and delicious ice cream.

I wish the weather had felt more fall-like, but it was unseasonably warm and rained off and on during the weekend. But, we made the most of it and had a great time anyway—we are already talking about going back next year!

On the Road: Hudson River Valley Fall Getaway

Although we love our little travel buddy, Chester and I decided that we were long overdue for an adults only vacation. After considering a few options within driving distance of Philly, we decided to head up to the Hudson River Valley for a long weekend. Having visited the area a few years ago, we knew that it would be an ideal setting for a relaxing fall getaway.

This time, we stayed at the adorable Buttermilk Falls Inn, located in Milton. If you were so inclined, you wouldn’t even have to venture off the property to get a taste of what the area has to offer. The 75-acre estate includes a spa, a farm-to-table-restaurant, walking trails and scenic views of the Hudson River.

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An assortment of some of the animals we met at the inn.  City people don’t know what to do around farm animals. Also, I need a llama for Christmas.

If you want to do some sightseeing, Milton is just about 20 minutes away from Hyde Park, which has a few different points of interest.

Our first stop was the Culinary Insitute of America. Current students lead public tours a few times a week, and it was pretty cool to get a glimpse into the kitchens and classrooms, where future chefs and bakers were hard at work. After the tour, we had lunch at The Bocuse, one of the student-run restaurants on-campus.

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From top left: Black truffle soup, apple butternut soup, seared scallops with truffle, potato and cauliflower, veal with braised onions, kale and foie gras butter and an assortment of desserts. The white coffee ice cream was made table side with liquid nitrogen!

On the whole, the food and service were above average, with the exception of Chester’s veal entree, which was completely over-salted. He sent it back to the kitchen, but the second dish did not improve much. The students are all still learning though, so I suppose some hiccups are to be expected!

After lunch, we took a tour of Springwood. Franklin D. Roosevelt was born and is buried there, and it was the place that he often said truly felt like home.

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Burial place of FDR, Eleanor and two of their dogs

Old homes/estates are always among my favorite sites to see when we travel; this site is remarkable not only for the material objects it contains, but also for the fact that some of the decisions that impacted the course of history were made here. The grounds also are home to FDR’s library and archives. Built under his direction, it was the first presidential library and also housed his private study where he conducted several of his fireside chats. Today, it contains more than 50 million items related to FDR and his wife Eleanor.

Continuing with the historic home theme, the next day, we visited the Vanderbilt house, one of the oldest Hudson River estates and one of the best examples of a Gilded Age mansion.The ostentatious furnishings were a definite contrast to the more rustic and reserved elements of FDR’s home.

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I wish that our visit had coincided with the peak of the fall foliage season, because I bet that makes the views of the Hudson even more spectacular.

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We ended our trip with dinner at Henry’s at the Farm, the restaurant at Buttermilk Falls. My recommendation would absolutely be the lobster risotto and Chester would tell you to get the 48 oz Tomahawk steak. It looked exactly like the side of meat that they put into Fred’s car at the drive-through movie theater during the Flintstone’s theme song. He ate the entire thing. I feel like that deserves a plaque on the wall or some other kind of tribute!

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Although I did feel a bit guilty to leave B, it was so nice to have some time to reconnect with Chester. Life has been so busy lately, and it’s hard to find time even for a few little moments together in the midst of it all. I didn’t realize how much I missed him! We slept in (until 8:30!), had adult conversations (only about 80% of which revolved around our current and future child), enjoyed several hot meals/cups of coffee without having to worry about toddler meltdowns and even went to an actual theater to see a movie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2). 

It was just like to good old days and I’m glad that we had this opportunity to take a breather, before things get even crazier with the arrival of Baby #2.

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(I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the world’s best Ni-Ni/mommy and the world’s best Ti-Ti/aunt for helping to make the weekend possible by letting B and Tracy, respectively, crash at their houses for a few days. You guys rock!)

 

 

 

On the Road: Ireland (Part 5)

Five months later, here is the last installment of our Ireland travels!

On the drive around the Ring of Kerry, I had declared it my new favorite place in the world…but that was before our drive around the Dingle Peninsula.

Located on the westernmost tip of Ireland, cliffs and ocean views dominate the peninsula. The winding roads, cliffs and ocean views that dominate the peninsula make it even more dramatic than the Ring of Kerry. I felt like i was standing at the edge of the world on most of our photo stops!

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We stopped for lunch and a stroll in the town of Dingle, the peninsula’s main town.

176With Fungie, the dolphin who lives in Dingle Harbor

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Before leaving, we tried out Murphy’s Ice Cream, which is handmade right in town. The flavors here range from classic vanila and chocolate to the more unique combinations that showcase the flavors of the region. They are pretty generous with the samples here, so I think I ended up trying almost every flavor before settling on a delicious combination of Kerry Cream and Carmelized Brown Bread.

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Upon leaving Dingle, we drove through the Conor Pass, the highest mountain pass in Ireland.. Of all of the driving that we did in Ireland, this road was the scariest—full of twists and turns, and so narrow at some points that two cars could barely share the road. But, the views…

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Our last stopover was in Limerick, chosen so that we could head out to the Cliffs of Moher the next day. For the most part, the weather was not on our side that day. But, we were patient and waited for the fog to roll out a bit and the views did not disappoint.

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We made a final stop in Galway, which was packed to the gills on a Saturday afternoon. It was late in the day, so we didn’t do much but stroll through the winding streets of the Old Latin Quarter and stop in a few shops. But, one of the funniest moments of the trip happened here, when we found ourselves stopping for dinner at a restaurant in which every table included a small child (or two, or three). It was the kind of place we would have avoided at all costs during our former child-free lives, and it sort of summed up how much life—and travel—can change when you add a tiny human to the mix.

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It is definitely a bit more exhausting to travel with a small child; Both Chester and I commented that we felt like we were on higher alert than usual, while we watched out for B and kept an eye out for signals of potential meltdowns. Still, we had a fantastic time and I would do it over again in a heartbeat!

On the Road: Ireland (Part 4)

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything about Ireland…or since I wrote about anything, really. It’s really difficult to stay up past 9 p.m. these days. But, on the days when I can, I’ll slowly but surely keep making my way through the rest of the trip photos and posts.

In my last post, I mentioned we made Killarney our base for the portion of our trip where we drove the Ring of Kerry, a scenic loop that showcases the varied landscapes of the region, including coastal towns, beaches, mossy hillsides and green pastures that stretch as far as the eye can see.

As you might imagine, this one of the most poplar tourist routes in Ireland, attracting bikers, walkers, tour buses and individual drivers alike. So, we followed the recommended strategy to go the opposite route of the big busses so that we didn’t get stuck behind the the entire way (start in Killarney, stop in Kenmare, and then head toward Killorglin before heading back to Killarnery; the busses generally travel via Killorglin first).

This was the only day of our trip where the weather was less than ideal. It rained most of the day, but at least we spent most of it in the car and the low fog made the view along the way even more dramatic.

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Portmagee

Also dramatic was B’s reaction when we would stop for photos. We made a lot of short stops along the way and it is difficult to wrangle a toddler in and out of the car every ten minutes or so. So, we started to take turns getting out of the car for quick photo ops, and there was a lot of this going when one of us would leave the car.

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A stop in Kenmare provided a nice break from the drive and plenty of restaurants to choose from for lunch. There are three main streets in Kenmare, all of which come together to form a triangle, so it’s very easy to navigate. On a sunny day, I could have easily spent a substantial amount of time here just wandering around.

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We stopped at Jam, an adorable cafe/bakery, where I wanted one of everything from the pastry case. But, I settled for just this lovely Banoffee Pie.

Banoffee pie

After lunch, we took a little stroll through town. B and Arthur kept out of the rain in their fancy backpack/stroller.

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You might think that the scenery gets old after awhile, but I think the views were even more outstanding on our way back to Killarney. We even made a stop to visit with some wildlife.

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There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing the two of them happy together.138

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The entire drive is about 125 miles round trip, and took the whole day (we left our hotel around 10 a.m. and returned around 6 p.m.). As usual, Chester was behind the wheel the entire time and did a fabulous job navigating the narrow roads along the way. At first, I wasn’t too sure that I would enjoy an entire day in the car, but this was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. There were so many “wow!” moments along the way and it was the perfect way to experience all of the beauty that Ireland has to offer.

On the Road: Ireland (Part 3)

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Family selfie at Blarney Castle

The next stop on our Ireland itinerary was Blarney Castle, located just a short drive from our temporary home base in Cork.

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The castle is, of course, best known for being the home of the Blarney Stone. The castle was no more than a simple wooden structure when it was built in 1200 and the current stone structure was erected in 1446.

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The interior of the castle is mostly in ruins. The 100+ stairs that wind their way to the top of the castle, where the stone is located are quite narrow and uneven. It’s definitely not a trek for someone with claustrophobia and/or a toddler. So, one of us strolled around the gardens with B while the other made the climb.

The exact origins of the stone are debated. But, legend has it that those who kiss it are bestowed the gift of eloquence. The stone is set in a wall over the battlements, so to reach it you have to lay down and lean backwards. Back in the day, this was quite a treacherous undertaking, since there weren’t any safeguards in place to make sure you didn’t fall to your death.

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View from the top

Yours truly made it all the way to the top, got into position to kiss the stone, and then made the mistake of looking down over the battlements. Even though there is a metal grate, a railing to hold on to, and a capable assistant to make sure tourists don’t die, I convinced myself that I would fall over the side and chickened out without completing the task at hand.

Chester was not such a scaredy-cat…although he seems to be no more eloquent than he was prior to our visit.

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Continuing on from Blarney, we drove to the harbor town of Kinsale. I will probably remember this site as one of the most spectacular parenting fails of the trip. B fell asleep in the car and we made the mistake of waking her up so we could go exploring. We should have just stuck to our tried-and-true practice of hanging out in the parking lot until she woke up on her own. I’m sure we were quite a sight as we tried to coax a squirming, screaming toddler into her stroller in this quaint, pictureqesue little town.

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Definitely not happy.

Fortunately, all was forgiven once we brought her a cute little hat. Retail therapy is apparently effective even at an early age.

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There were lots of cute little restaurants scattered around town, but unfortuantely many of them only opened at dinner time. We stumbled upon the Lemon Leaf Cafe, however, and ended up having on of our favorite meals of the trip there. B enjoyed a pancake with Nutella that was twice the size of her head and Chester and I chose two of the specials of the day—a salmon burger for him and an open faced crab and lobster salad sandwich for me. The seafood was some of the freshest that I have ever had! I wish that I had room for dessert because the pastry case was overflowing with delicious looking cupcakes, towering layer cakes and pies. Next time!

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Main Street Kinsale

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Colorful shops line the narrow streets

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We headed back to Cork for the night, and were up bright and early the next day to hit the road to Killarney. On the way to town, we stopped for a stroll in Killarney National Park, the first national park to be established in Ireland.

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Muckross House, which was donated to the Irish nation in 1932 and became the centerpiece of the park.

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Muckross Lake; you can rent one of those cute little jaunting carriages to take you around the park.

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Torc and Mangerton Mountains in the background.

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Ross Castle

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Chasing the ducks…and, yes, that is a leash.

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As was the case in Cork, we didn’t do too much exploring in the town of Killarney itself. But, we did stay in an adorable hotel that served amazing scones at breakfast and enjoyed a nice dinner (fish and chips!) at a place Cronin’s, right across the way. I would definitely recommend this stop as a base if your trip includes a drive around the Ring of Kerry, which was on our itinerary for the next day. More on that…as soon as I get around to editing those photos!

On the Road: Ireland (Part 2)

After our two days in Dublin, we packed up the world’s tiniest rental car and hit the road. Our first stop was Powerscourt Estate, which is set against the backdrop of the Wicklow mountains and is known for acres upon acres of landscaped gardens. The house on the grounds was originally a 13th century castle and was renovated throughout the centuries. The most recent renovations took place in the mid-1990s, after the house had been destroyed by a fire 20 years earlier.

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Incidentally, Powerscourt had probably the best cafe of any tourist attraction that I have ever visited. Make sure to stop for lunch if you ever visit.

After that, it was off to Lisnavagh, another estate. I was totally confused when we first arrived because the place was completely deserted. Turns out, this is actually still a family’s home and Chester explained that we were here to visit the tree that he had planted for our 5th anniversary! William, one of the owners/managers of the estate was kind enough to show us the tree and share a bit of the estate’s history with us. In the 1800s, it was one of the most advanced and efficient farms in the country. As the estate system fell away, and Lisnavagh was downsized quite a bit and William and his family developed other ways to sustain what remained, including hosting weddings and making cutting boards out of the timber that naturally falls on the property. The tree planting program also generates a bit of revenue and helps to maintain and repopulate the surrounding woodlands.

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Official owners of an oak tree!

In true Chester fashion, it was truly a memorable and thoughtful way to mark this milestone. I’m glad B got to be there with us, and maybe we’ll all return someday to visit our tree when it’s a bit bigger!

After that, we headed to Cork, which would be our home base for the next two nights. Although it might have been more fun to stay in one of the cute little towns that we passed through along the way, we decided to stick to the big cities with easy access to things like grocery stores and medical care, just in case those things were needed for B. Plus, it was centrally located for the next two major sights on our itinerary: Blarney Castle. More on that next time!

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We did zero exploring in Cork, but at least had a nice view of the city from our hotel window!

On the Road: Ireland (Part 1)

I wrote a little bit in a previous post about our adventures in Ireland, but I am just getting around the organizing the photos from the trip. With the slow pace that I work on this kind of thing lately, that should take me all summer. But, as the summer heats up around here, I’ll be happy to relive memories of the much cooler climate of the Emerald Isle, starting with this post about our time in Dublin.

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Pre-flight selfie at PHL

The first day of our trip felt like the Longest. Day. Ever. We left Philly at 8 a.m. and flew to Boston, where we had an eight hour layover. We met Bridget and Bill for a quick lunch and then headed back to the airport for our 6 p.m. flight to Dublin. B was great on the flight. She was easily entertained by the goings-on of airplane travel and distracted by an endless supply of cheese crackers. She ended up passing out right around her normal 8:00 bedtime and slept until we arrived in Dublin, very early the next morning.

Our hotel was very centrally located near the historic St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street (one of the main shopping thoroughfares) and the lively Temple Bar. We made our way there from the airport in a taxi at the crack of dawn, but could see that there were still plenty of people that were still happily partying it up at the pubs, even at 6 a.m.!

Since it was ridiculously early, there was not a room ready for us. B made sure we all knew how displeased she was about being awake at such an early hour. Chester and I tried to keep her calm and eventually, the hotel manager even resorted to bribery, giving her milk, a banana, an orange and a Kit Kat (all of which I’m pretty sure were from his own lunchbox) in an attempt to get her to shut up.

Finally, to keep from waking up everyone at the hotel, we went down the street to a cute little café to have breakfast while we waited for our room. Trying to keep a jet lagged toddler from a full meltdown while in a restaurant is an experience I will be happy never to repeat again. If it was just Chester and I, I’m sure we would have pushed through the exhaustion, loaded up on coffee and just wandered the neighborhood for a bit. But, with B in tow, the only thing I wanted to do was park myself in chair and hope she would fall asleep. So, we returned to the waiting area of the hotel to do just that and thankfully, our room was ready by mid-morning.

We all felt much better after long naps and headed out to explore in the early afternoon. Dublin is an eclectic mix of medieval and modern (there’s even a 24-hour Starbucks!). As you stroll through the main streets you feel like you could be in an U.S. city. But, then you round the corner and you catch a glimpse of Dublin castle or an old church and you remember all of the history contained within the winding streets.

Our first stop was Dublin Castle, which was originally built as a Viking fortress during the 13th century. It was destroyed and rebuilt throughout the centuries and served as the center for British rule in Ireland until 1922.

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Riding in style

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A pretty empty courtyard on this particular day, but the following week it would be packed with people as the announcement was made that Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage after a popular vote

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Old + new

Then, it was down the street to visit Christ Church, the he oldest building in Dublin, dating from 1028. The exterior is probably quite impressive, but unfortunately, much of it was covered in scaffolding for renovations at the time of our visit. Still, the stained glass and wall-to-wall mosaic tile floors inside made the visit worthwhile.

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Further on down the road is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s a bit younger (dating from 1191), but it ultimately won out in the race for supremacy with Christ Church, and serves as the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland. Fun fact: Johnathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and former cathedral Dean, is buried here.

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We ended the day enjoying some Irish music and pub fare at the Old Storehouse, one of the more family-friendly pubs in Temple Bar (i.e. one of the few places not overrun with the bachelorette party crowd).

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The next day, we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (tip: purchase your tickets in advance, and skip the line at the door). There is an interesting exhibition that explains the symbolism behind and the process of creating the lavishly decorated 9th century manuscript of the four Gospels. Pages from two volumes of the manuscript are on display. Just as impressive is the Old Library, which houses more than 200,000 books.

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And, after that, we just wandered a bit more, taking in all the sites. I’m pretty sure that B’s favorite part of Dublin was meeting a real live leprechaun!

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52Ha’penny Bridge, the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey River

We barely scratched the surface of what Dublin has to offer in our two days there. There were a few museums that we would have liked to check out, but we’ll save them for next time when B will appreciate them a bit more. I can’t wait to go back!

Charleston (Day Four)

All too soon, our last day in Charleston rolled around. Luckily, there were pastries from WildFlour Pastry and doughnuts from Glazed to dull the pain and carb us up for a final day of exploring.

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Someone got caught with their hand in the donut box!

After three and a half days of sightseeing, we wanted to make sure we built in time for B to do something that she would actually enjoy. Sure, she loved seeing the animals on the plantations and just being out and about in general, but I could tell that she was getting a little antsy from mostly being in her stroller all day. Fortunately, the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry was the perfect place for her to get some playtime in.

When we first set her down on the floor in the toddler area, she just sat in the middle of the floor and looked around in awe, as though she couldn’t believe that she was allowed to touch and climb on everything without getting into trouble. Soon, she was off and running.

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All this, for me?!

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The museum also features eight other adorable, interactive exhibits, like a castle, grocery store, pirate ship and water table. We ended up spending the better part of the day there, and I think Chester and I had as much fun as B.

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She loved filling up her shopping cart with onions, which she called apples.

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Stocking up on Cheerios, of course!

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Ready to check-out!

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Captain of the pirate ship

After working up an appetite, we headed to lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen, which is known for its no-frills Southern food. In contrast to Husk, Jestine’s features just the basics—fried chicken, meatloaf, fried green tomatoes, and simple salads. Even at around 3 p.m., there was still a decent lunch crowd, so there was a bit of a wait for a fried chicken platter. But, it was totally worth it.

The rest of the day was just spent walking around town, taking in all the charm.

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Rainbow Row

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The Old Exchange

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Catching the breeze on the waterfront.

Whether you are planning a solo vacation or traveling with kids, Charleston is definitely worth considering. If you fall into the latter category, I would say that the city is definitely family friendly. We saw plenty of families traveling with small children (some even younger than B) and only one of the restaurants we visited lacked a high chair. Be aware that the streets are very narrow (it is an old city, after all) so you would do best to bring a small umbrella stroller and/or baby wearing device. The only bummer for me was that the plantation houses we visited were only accessible by guided tour, so we didn’t get to see the interiors because B just doesn’t have the attention span at this point. But, that just means we’ll have to go back again!

On the Road: Charleston (Day Three)

Happy Halloween, all!

I should be posting an adorable pic of B in a cute costume, but I don’t have one. We put her in her bunny costume this weekend to attend the Halloween festivities at the zoo,and she wasn’t having any of it (although Tracy made an adorable carrot!). I’m thinking that I’ll spare her further distress, and share a bit more about our adventures in Charleston instead.

Sound good? Okay!

So, there are quite a few noteworthy pastry shops in Charleston. Of course, we had to made it a point to try a few…even if it meant having dessert for breakfast.

We headed to Sugar Bakeshop, a small-batch bakery that is kind of off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood. B and I kept it simple and went for mini vanilla and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and Chester got the Lady Baltimore cupcake (a mini version of the classic cake, which is layered with chopped nuts and dried fruit and topped with Italian meringue). We grabbed gigantic chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies to go, which made for excellent snacks later on.

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Cupcake face!

We wandered around the quaint streets of downtown Charleston for awhile, stopping by the City Market to pick up a few souvenirs, including sweetgrass baskets.

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Getting up close and personal with a horse named Earl.

After that, it was already time for lunch!

Husk appears on all of the “must-visit” restaurant lists that we consulted when planning our trip. We were excited to get a reservation for lunch, since late-night dinners were out of the question. We asked for a seat on the second floor porch—it felt like a very Southern thing to do!

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Checking out the menu

James Beard Award winning chef Sean Brock puts a new spin on traditional Southern dishes, through a creative use of locally sourced ingredients. For example, the pig ears are served in a lettuce wrap and feature a soy-flavored sauce, for a slightly Asian flair. I picked one of the more traditional things on the menu, the cornmeal dusted catfish. I loved being able to have one final taste of summer for the year, since it featured sweet corn and smoky-sweet tomatoes. For dessert, we shared the buttermilk chess pie. There were some delicious sounding chocolate items on the menu, but I have no doubt that this pie was the best choice. It was a simple and not to sweet way to end the meal, which was definitely our favorite of the trip.

After lunch, we drove back out to the plantation district for a visit to Middleton Place. Like Magnolia, the property has been in the hands of the same family for generations (fun fact: Arthur Middleton was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence).

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The plantation house

We skipped a visit to the house, which was fine because there was so much to see outside. We started our visit in the plantation stable yards, where artisans recreate blacksmithing, carpentry and other crafts that were practiced when the plantation was in operation. And, of course, there are the animals.

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Also, like Magnolia, the gardens are the major attraction here. Middleton’s are much more impressive, in my opinion, with a  more sculpted/planned look, sort of like the show gardens we have visited on other trips (for example, Victoria’s Buchart Gardens). The vistas are spectacular and many of the elements, including the curved terraces, archways made out of hedges and hidden walkways evoked memories of The Secret Garden (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite books. I can’t wait to share it with B!).

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We wrapped up our day with a stroll along the Battery, so named because there was a defense artillery battery on the site during the Civil War. Now, it is just a popular area for a waterfront stroll and is also the neighborhood of stately antebellum homes.

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As we had done throughout the trip, we stopped for takeout on the way home, this time at Five Loaves Cafe. I can safely say that I had the best veggie burger of my life—even B liked it!

Alright, I’m off to see if I can find some already discounted Reese’s products. We usually get exactly zero trick-or-treaters at our house, so I’m stocking up on the good stuff for myself!

Read more about our Charleston trip here and here.

On the Road: Charleston (Day Two)

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As usual, B was riding in style on this trip. People were stopping us on the street to comment on this stroller/backpack. In case you are wondering, it’s by Kelty, but has been discontinued. I don’t know why because it is pretty much the perfect item for traveling with a small child. But, you might be able to score one on Ebay, like Chester did.

Our second day in Charleston, started with brunch at Hominy Grill. This homey little restaurant is like Sabrina’s, with a Southern flair. We indulged in boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits (Chester) and a fried green tomato BLT (me). Of course, since this was a vacation, I had to get dessert—a thick slice of caramel pecan layer cake. All delicious, but definitely made me feel like I needed a session on the elliptical machine.

Luckily, we burned some calories (literally. It was so freaking hot. And, I of course, had packed all of the wrong clothes since it felt like fall when we left Philly.) with a long walk from the center of town to Liberty Square. Once there, we caught the ferry out to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The trip takes about 30 minutes. B was with the whole experience of her first ferry ride.

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View of the fort, from the ferry

Once at the fort, we had one hour for a self-guided tour. The site also includes a small museum with various artifacts from the war, but we stuck to the outside. I am not a big Civil War buff, but it was nevertheless humbling and somewhat eerie to be standing in a place where so many people lost their lives.

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On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Caviar and Bananas, a gourmet market and cafe, to grab dinner to bring back to the hotel. There were so many options to choose from—including sushi, salads, soups, pasta and sandwiches—that I had a hard time deciding what to get. The East Coast salad (with honey glazed chicken, goat cheese, fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, toasted hazelnuts, and arugula) did not disappoint. This place needs to branch out to Philly!

I still have two days worth of photos to go through. More soon (read about our first day here)!