Travel

Top 5 Hiking Trails in San Diego

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It’s views like this that put Torrey Pines at the top of my list

As a San Diego native, I can go on and on about how amazing SD is and all that it has to offer, but I’ll save all of that for another time and just focus on one thing today:  hiking trails.

I mean, they don’t call it America’s Finest City for nothing, and one of the finest things about this city is the fact that we have nearly perfect year-round weather and countless ways to get out and enjoy it.  One of the best ways to get out and enjoy the outdoors, get some fresh air and workup a good sweat is through a hike.  Solo or with friends, it’s def one of my fav workouts and I try to get a good hike in at least a couple times a month.

There are a ton of trails all around SD, but these are my top 5:

  1. Torrey Pines Um, just  look at the photo above as to why Torrey Pines is at the top of my list.  With plenty of trails to choose from and stunning ocean views, this is simply the best that SD hiking has to offer.
  2. Cowles Mountain  This is definitely one of, if not the most popular trails in the county.  With a challenging climb and panoramic views, it’s no wonder why.
  3. Iron Mountain  Located in Poway, this is a great North County option that offers a moderately challenging climb, with great views, all under 6 miles.
  4. Balboa Park I’m sure you’re pretty shocked this made my list because it’s far from your traditional hiking trails, but it’s still awesome. With over 65 miles of trails located smack dab in the middle of the city, you can still find some remote paths while still getting an amazing tour and views of the museums, city and Balboa Park itself.
  5. Three Sisters Not only is it challenging to get there, but the trail itself is definitely one of the most challenging in San Diego and you need to be prepared to not just walk but drop, climb, crawl, and slide along the way.  However, once you make it to the waterfalls, it’ll definitely make all the blood, sweat and tears it took you to get there worth it.
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Red Mountain Resort and Spa

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View from the top of one of the morning hikes at Snow Canyon State Park

If you’re looking for an amazing destination spa where you can relax, eat amazing food, get pampered, but also have a ton of amazing activities to choose from, then look no further than Red Mountain Resort and Spa in St. George, Utah.  Known for their “adventure vacations”, Red Mountain is the kind of resort that attracts both men and women because there are a ton of activities and options that cater to both sexes.  I was there for four days with my girlfriend, and it was the perfect little girls getaway and we both left feeling relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated, and completely devastated that we had to leave and head back to reality.  Here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect when you visit:

ACTIVITIES: 

Hiking is definitely the highlight at RM.  Every morning you can sign up for a guided hike through Snow Canyon State Park which is just a few minutes from the Resort, and there are three different levels that you can choose from from beginner to expert levels that last about 2-3 hours total.  Throughout the day, there are also a ton of different workout classes that you can sign up for that range from Zumba, to TRX, to yoga, to water aerobics, and more.  All of the hiking and regular classes are included in the standard package, and you can also sign up for other activities (at an additional cost) like an all-day hiking adventure at Zion National Park, rock climbing, river rafting, horseback riding and more.

If you’re not as into intense activities, there’s more than enough relaxing and chill options as well.  Their spa is phenomenal and they have the most amazing variety of spa treatments to choose from.  I got the hot stone massage and highly recommend it.  There are also several pools that you can chill out at, a labyrinth, mediation and other workshops that vary daily, or you can just chill out, do nothing and just enjoy the scenery.

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One of my favorite “activities” was lounging in front of my room

FOOD: 

In a word, the food is AMAZING.  Food is included in all the packages, and breakfast and lunch are buffet style and vary on a daily basis.  There are standard staples every day (cereal, fruit, oatmeal, etc. for breakfast and salad bar, cold cuts and cheeses for lunch) but there’s a wide variety in the hot options each day so you’re never bored.  The dinner menu changes nightly and it consists of a menu with several options to choose from, along with the salad bar, and all the nutritional information is listed for all your entree and dessert options.  There are also wine and beer options, as well as wine-based cocktails to choose from as well.  There’s also a cafe that you can pick up coffee, sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizzas and more as well.  All the food is spa-inspired, healthy, nutritious and seriously delicious.

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Healthy chicken pad-thai inspired dinner

 GENERAL: 

  • The rooms are spacious, clean and comfy, and provide everything that you need for your stay.
  • I really can’t say enough about how kind and accommodating the entire staff is there.  You will get the attention and service that you’d expect from a 5-star resort, and you really get the sense that that staff cares about it’s guests and providing them with a truly incredible experience.
  • When you arrive, you will be provided with a list of all the activities and scheduled events for the duration of your stay, along with a backpack and two water bottles for you to use during your stay and to take home with you.
  • There are a variety of different packages to choose from so check them out to see what suits your taste.
  • Unlike a lot of other destination spa/resorts, RM is really affordable and doesn’t break the bank.
  • Most of the guests there have been to Red Mountain Resort many, many times and keep coming back at least once a year…that kind of says it all…

 

Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US

Recently, Yelp released the data on the top 100 places to eat in the US, with restaurants ranging from the high to low end.  I’m a total food nerd and am always reading up on restaurants to try out so I totally geeked out when I saw this list, and marked off restaurants I’d already been to and started making a list of the restaurants I want to try on upcoming trips that I’ll be taking.  I was also super excited when I saw this list because it featured a lot of local restaurants here in San Diego as well!  So for all you fellow foodie nerds like me out there, I hope you use and enjoy this list as much as I did! Check out the link for the full list, but here’s the top 10: 

1. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI
2. Paseo, Seattle, WA
3. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue, Kansas City, KS
4. The Cinnamon Snail, New York, NY
5. Porto’s Bakery, Burbank, CA
6. Dametra Cafe, Carmel by the Sea, CA
7. Alinea, Chicago, IL
8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
9. Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
10. Joe’s Falafel, Los Angeles, CA 

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, Stanley Idaho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last weekend I travelled to Stanley, Idaho for my best friend’s wedding.  About 3 hours from Boise, and with a population of 63 people, Stanley probably isn’t a place you’ve heard about unless you happen to see it on the national weather forecast, where it’s usually the coldest place in America in the winter months.  Nestled within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area which consists of 756,000 acres of both public and private land, the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch sits on 1,000 pristine and breathtaking acres overlooking the Sawtooth Mountains, and just a short drive to downtown Stanley.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the Ranch.   I heard great things about it from my friend, and the pictures on the website looked cool but you still never know what a place is like until you actually get there and see if for yourself.  Honestly, it blew me away.  If you’re Driving down the 75 Highway and not paying close attention, you will definitely miss the nondescript sign to the Ranch.  You travel up a dirt road past the lake up to the main lodge and cabins that are nestled amongst the mountains and trees.  A maximum of 50 guests can be accommodated during the summer season running from June to September every year (it’s not open any other time of year), so you don’t have to worry about the masses or crowds if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.

Some of the cabins

The staff was so warm, kind, attentive and inviting it was like you had known them for years.  They made you feel right at home and went out of their way the entire time to make sure that all your needs were met, and it was honestly the kind of service you’d get at a 5 star resort, without the formality or snottiness.  Each of the cabins are equipped with their own rock fireplaces stocked with fresh wood, little treats and goodies and exude a rustic elegance that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If you’re worried about being bored not having anything to do, don’t.  There are tons of activities to do at and around the Ranch that include hiking, fishing, horseback riding, river rafting, mountain biking, and even a natural hot springs pool.  I have to say that the food was also absolutely incredible and blew me away.  All of the meals are included in the price of your lodging, and are made from fresh, local and organic ingredients that burst with flavor, quality and, not to sound cheesy, but love too.  Breakfast consists of a continental breakfast consisting of a variety of homemade pastries, fresh fruit, juices, greek yogurt, cereal and more combined with a hot breakfast menu that you can choose from as well.  While you’re eating your breakfast, you order your lunch from a list of gourmet sandwiches and then fill your own lunch bag with a variety of options that include chips, juice, fruit, trail mix, cookies and even wine if you’d like, to take with you as you venture out for the day.  Depending on which night you’re there, dinner varies from multi-course meals, to cookouts, to BBQ nights so there’s definitely variety each night.

Natural hot springs pool

One thing to note about the Ranch that kind of freaked me out before I got there is that it’s almost completely disconnected from the technological and electronical world – meaning that there’s no cell phone reception, phones, TVs, or radios.  There is a phone and laptop in the main lodge that you can use if you want and, as I later found out there, is wi-fi in the main lodge but honestly, I didn’t even want to tap into it and use it.  It really was a treat to be unplugged and disconnected from the outside world and just enjoy the beauty and peace and quiet that the Ranch offered.

If you’re looking for a little more action, you can travel to Redfish Lake about 10 minutes from the Ranch, where there is also a Lodge, and a larger lake with tons of water activities ranging from boat rides, paddle boarding, fishing, waterskiing and more.  You can also head to downtown Stanley and try out the delicious baked goods and coffee at the Stanley Baking Company and Cafe, or if you’re like me and love dive bars, then you have to hit up the the Rod’n’Gun Saloon for some cheap drinks and great bar games like shuffle board, Buck Hunter, and more.

I honestly can’t say enough good things about the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch and Stanley, Idaho in general and hope you make it out there to experience it for yourselves!

Watching the sunset from the main lodge

 

Workout Options While on Vacation

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All you need to bring is your favorite pair of sneakers

We are all in need of vacations and getaways to relax, re-set and explore new places.  The last thing on your mind is usually how you’re going to keep on track with your workouts or how to eat healthy foods, but when you get back home you usually feel a few pounds heavier and completely behind on your workouts, which makes it much harder to jump back into your normal routine.  You don’t have to give up on your healthy habits on vacation, and with these tips you can still relax and indulge while you’re on vacation, without setting yourself back in terms of your diet and exercise routine:

  • Plan Ahead:  Before you leave, see what kind of exercise facility options you have available to you.  See if there’s a gym at your hotel or if your gym has other locations that you can use in the city that you’re in, or check out local studios that offer your favorite kinds of classes like yoga, pilates, spinning, or bootcamps.  No gyms or exercise studios? No problem!  Look at area maps for great running/walking paths that you can use to explore the city and get some extra sight-seeing in as well.
  • Balance Out Your Meals:  There’s no doubt that one of the best things about going on vacation is eating a bunch of delicious, regional food.  Every time I travel, I always research the restaurants in the area and plan a good portion of my trips focused on food, but always feel like I indulge the entire time and end up coming home with a few extra pounds and feeling like crap that I indulged more that I should have.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat heavy, calorie ridden foods the entire time.  If you know you’re going to a special dinner one night, by all means indulge and enjoy it, but eat a lighter breakfast and/or lunch that day.  Try to keep your treat meals to one a day and eat whatever you want without guilt or remorse, but try to keep it a little lighter and healthier for your other two meals.
  • Choose Your Cocktails Wisely:  I love me some pina coladas, but don’t love me the calories that come with them.  Most mixed drinks are filled with sugary mixers, juices and are loaded with extra calories that we don’t need and can easily avoid.  Treat yourself with your favorite cocktail as your first drink, but move on to more calorie conscious cocktails after like vodka or tequila sodas with fresh lime, light beers, or ask your bartender to make you a low calorie version of your favorite cocktail.
  • Walk, Walk, Walk:  In my opinion, the best way to get around and really get to know a city is by walking.  Skip the cabs and tour busses, throw on some comfy walking shoes and hit the streets.  You never know what gems you’ll find off the beaten path, so take to the streets and explore!
  • Do the Basics:  Can’t find a gym or can’t go outdoors due to weather or location? No problem!  Stick to the basics – do a few sets of sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, lunges, squats and planks for a full body strength training workout.
  • Pack some Healthy Snacks:  It’s always a wise idea to bring some healthy snacks along with you when you travel.  Bring some protein or meal replacement bars, nuts, dried fruit or protein powder for shakes along with you for a healthy and quick snack or meal on the go.