Guides

Toronto

Turns out, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America (we had to double check that fact too). That being the case, you can only imagine the breadth of things to do in Canada’s business capital. Though most of us pass through here for work – there is plenty to do in terms of food, drinks, and a good time.

The most exciting thing about Toronto is the diversity that makes the city so special. It celebrates those who call the town home – no matter their background – and you can easily see this in the cuisine you eat, art you see, and people you meet.

Our recommendation? If you find yourself on a two day stay for some meetings, extend your trip a while and see what this town is all about.

Where to stay

The Drake Hotel

Hands down, this is the coolest hotel in Toronto. Their eclectic design is a visual representation of how they foster the local creative community and bring Toronto’s best to their visiting guests. With great programming (they have DJs and performers every week), vibrant mid-century modern design, and the Sky Yard rooftop bar – we are pretty much ready to move in. 

Photo via The Drake

The Gladstone Hotel

Boasting artist-designed hotel rooms, this certified B-Corp hotel feels good to stay in know you’re doing good. They support local vendors and use locally made products within their space, and pride themselves on “socially conscious hospitality.” Housed in an old Victorian, they have preserved the floor plan and converted the building in 37 unique rooms and 3 dedicated art galleries.

The Templar Hotel

If you are heading to Toronto for business, but still want a dose of chic – head to the Templar Hotel. Located in the Entertainment District, you can book anything from a single room to a two-story loft. The design is minimal (which we love) and you are walking distance from the CN Tower, Queen Street, and tons of restaurants. 

Where to eat

Pukka

If you like Indian food – you’ve found your spot. This is a refined, British take on the cuisine but the vibe is entirely low-key. Definitely get the slow braised beef short-rib. 

DaiLo

This is a French-Cantonese restaurant with a generous $65 tasting menu. Think braised lamb with sweetbreads and pumpkin dumplings. We love how exciting the menu is here – and definitely recommend dipping into the cocktail list pre-dinner.

Gusto 101

Housed in an old auto-body shop, this Italian restaurant is famous for its wood-fired grill, and the dishes that come out of it. The space is cozy and we definitely don’t hate their $1 house wine deal.

Photo via Gusto 101

Where to drink

Paradise Grapevine

Offering a very well-curated selection of great beer and innovative wine, Paradise Grapevine holds a special place in our heart. As much as we love the drink menus, we also come here for their charming patio.

Barchef

Known for exceptionally artful cocktails and the wonderful mixologists who make them – this is the cocktail bar you come to when you want to impress the co-workers that hated on the Toronto trip.

Seoul Shakers Club

If you’re looking for ambiance – look no further than Seoul Shaker Club. It’s in theme (neon signs, plants hanging from the ceiling, and Korean inspired cocktails) and also offers soju. If you’re boring, they also serve beer, wine, and have a hit list of classic cocktails. 

Photo via Seoul Shakers

Where to workout 

Kula Yoga

With hot, restorative, and beginner classes plus meditation and various workshops – Kula Yoga does a lot for us. We love the general vibe and think that they have some of the best teachers in the city.

Spokehaüs

Similar to a SoulCycle or FlyWheel, Spokehaüs is an uber chic spin studio that makes you want to work it. Get ready to sweat it out to heart pumping music, and then wash it all away with Malin + Goetz products that they stock in their dressing rooms.

Core Pilates Studio

If you need to get your body aligned and back on track, head to Core Pilates studio for a reformer class. We love their Reformer Sculpt class, but you can choose from 6 equally challenging classes that they provide. 

Where to break

St Lawrence Market

Once named the worlds best food market by National Geographic, this major public hall features everything from produce to food stands. If you are in need of a break (and maybe a snack), definitely head here. We recommend hitting up Carousel Bakery but there are tons of options. They also offer cooking classes and frequently have events – so make sure to check their schedule!

Odin

If you are into the Scandinavian design thing, we have found your spot. Odin is a Corktown coffee shop designed by a local architecture studio that prides itself on beautiful modernism and minimalism. Though we definitely come here for the space, we also think they make great coffee. If caffeine isn’t what you’re craving, grab a baked good or a microbrew. 

Tokyo Smoke

This industrial-chic space is basically created to be Instagrammed. Though it’s a bit uber-trendy, we love their espresso and Vietnamese drinks made with custom beans from North Toronto’s De Mello Palheta.

Where to work

Boxcar Social

With great coffee, and a patio for the warmer months, Boxcar Social is popular with Toronto-based freelancers. If you stay longer than the A.M hours, they have snacks and even beer to keep you motivated.

Fix Coffee + Bikes

In West Queen West, this is our pick for a low-key coffee shop with outlets, good lighting, great coffee, and bike repair if you need it. They have bleacher style seating as well incase the table and chair vibe isn’t your thing.

Photo via Fix Coffee + Bikes

The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel

Take in local art as you set up shop in The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel. It has comfy couches and WiFi, and will get you out of the typical coffee shop environment. 

Where to get your hit of culture

The Royal Ontario Museum

ROM combines art, culture, and natural history all under one roof. It’s the most visited museum in Canada and though there is a ton to see – we definitely nerd out on their Art Deco interior collection. 

CN Tower

We know, we know. This isn’t anything new and even if you’ve never set foot in Toronto before, you probably know what CN Tower is. That said, it used to be the world’s tallest tower and you can still go up to the look-out level (which is casually over 1k feet). 

Trinity Bellwoods Park

If you are visiting Toronto during the warmer months and want to take in the local scene of people fully enjoying the warm weather – head to Trinity Bellwoods Park. Pack a picnic and watch how happy Canadians are to see the sun.

Where to shop

The Wanderly

This exceptionally curated boutique is a perfect mixture of vintage finds and consciously sourced accessories and clothing. Think California chic, with products suited for city life. 

KOTN

A unisex basics line we love. Their brick-and-mortar location on Queen Street sells hoodies, t-shirts, and more – all made with high-quality Egyptian cotton. 

Oak + Fort

You may have heard of Oak + Fort because of their digital presence and subscription model, but their store location in Toronto is where it’s at. These simple but classically chic cuts are everything we need. 

London by Journalist Annabel Herrick

Trying to boil down London to just one city guide isn’t possible. There is way too much going on in the UK capital to try and choose between a few restaurants, shops, or hotels- London makes even NYC seem tiny in terms of potential travel time between areas and hot spots. Yes, commute time can suck- but it also makes London an amazing place to explore for as long as possible, as there’s no end to diversity and culture here.

Instead of giving you one top list, we’ve decided to show you a variety of perspectives of our home base (we call London home here at Safara- mostly). First up, check out Annabel Herrick’s guide to her London – focusing around the North East areas (Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Islington, and more!). This freelance journalist has written for CN Traveler, Vice, and Stylist. She is definitely a woman you want to be taking tips from – and her London spots are second to none. 

We know you live in London, but let’s say you were to take your dream staycation. Where would you stay?

42 Acres yoga retreat in Somerset – I’ve heard good things…or the Pembrokeshire Coast – it’s so wild there.

Image via 42 Acres

Favorite places to eat on the daily? What do we order?

I loved the Friday food market on Southbank when I worked in Covent Garden. There are various Natural Kitchens all over London and they do great salads, good for meetings too. I just discovered a lovely organic market at the end of my road, Manse Road, in Stoke Newington that’s on every Saturday morning. They have whatever the farmers have grown that week as well as honey, homemade bread, cheeses, milk etc.

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? What are they known for?

The Modern Pantry is beautiful, a Georgian Townhouse in Clerkenwell. It’s ‘fusion’ European.

Image via The Modern Pantry

What are your favorite bars around town? What should we be ordering?

I’m more about pubs than bars. A few that come to mind: Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park, The Water Poet near Moorgate and the Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak have a live jazz duo who are wonderful. They only take cash, very old fashioned, proper ‘old man pub’ with great local ales.

Best place for an AM pick me up? Either coffee, green juice, or tea?

London Grind (various all over London) is an easy choice and always good (short and strong with oat milk). Any Hoxton Hotel is reliable for a quiet spot when organising a meeting.

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go?

Has to be Rivington Street in Shoreditch for mid/high end brands like Acne or Church Street in Stoke Newington – lots of lovely interior/furniture boutiques and antique shops.

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

In and around Shoreditch; Brick Lane for vintage, BoxPark for local designers and Spitalfields for bigger brands.

Where can we get our dose of culture where we won’t be swarmed with other tourists?

Clissold Park in Stoke Newington for a stroll (the goats…!) or smaller Shoreditch galleries like Jealous or Protein. Now I’m freelance I tend to go to galleries midweek (a luxury I know) as I can’t handle weekend crowds!

We’re looking to party….like a local. Where should we go?

Rowans Tenpin Bowl in Finsbury Park. It’s very weird but very fun. Old Queen’s Head in Angel or Concrete in Shoreditch are crowd pleasers.

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

Union Chapel in Angel is a beautiful venue.

Image via Union Chapel

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The northern edge of Hampstead Heath away from the crowds, ideally not on a weekend. Super early when it’s misty if you can handle it!

And if we are coupled up – what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

You have to book in advance wherever you go really. I’m so not the right person to ask for this! I just like a big beer garden with good ales (easily pleased) so further out in North London like The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead is lovely.

Where should we go for some “forest bathing,” or a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Hampstead, Clissold Park, Lea Valley, there’s an old railway line above Archway that not many people know about. Download Go Jauntly for more ideas, they have loads. 

Tips and tricks for getting around town?

Cycle! That’s my number one tip if you’re brave enough. It’s really not as bad as it looks.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

The best galleries but midweek if possible: RA, Tate, Courthauld, Barbican

You need to work, but the wifi is down at work/home. Where do you go?

One of the many beautiful Stoke Newington cafes. 

Where do we go to work out like a local? What are the trends that everyone’s into these days?

Chroma in Shoreditch do colour therapy yoga sessions, gimmicky but really cool and I swear it works. I love spinning at Digme or 1 Rebel (they do hip-hop themed classes). There’s a tiny community focussed yoga studio called YogaHome near me that’s a registered charity, their classes are amazing considering their low prices. Other amazing studios with a cult following (more expensive) include: Yotopia (Covent Garden), Indaba (Marylebone) or Tri Yoga (Camden, Shoreditch, Soho).

Image via Chroma Yoga

We’re jetlagged AF. Where do we go to treat ourselves, spa or massage-wise?

I’ve heard treatments at Tri Yoga are amazing.

Anything else you want to add in terms of interesting activities or must-see/do’s?

Columbia Road Flower Market on a Sunday. Get there early.

 

Paris

We could walk every arrondissement 100 times and still discover new things to love about Paris. From sipping on an espresso at a sidewalk cafe, to duck fat potatoes at every meal, to running through the rain along the Seine – this is a place where your dreamy image (or cliché) of what it could be actually matches reality.

Though people think of Paris as a city for the posh and fashionable (and let’s be real- everyone who lives there seems to be slightly cooler) the town has so much to offer for anyone who decides to pay a visit.

With The City of Lights being one of the most popular destinations in the world, we figure you’ve already got The Louvre and a few of the famous restaurants on your list. In an effort to add some lesser known gems, and pay homage to the places we love most, check out our guide to France’s picture-perfect capital.

Where to stay

The Hoxton Paris

Okay fine. You will find a Hoxton on our list of “Where to stay” in any city the hospitality company may have a hotel in – and with good reason. Their Paris outpost is housed in an 18th century hôtel particulier and is their largest (and arguably most beautiful) hotel. Many of the furnishings come from famous French designers and you can choose a variety of guest room sizes ranging between a Shoebox, Cosy, Roomy, and Biggy. We recommend snagging a room on the top floor as they have striking views of the Eiffel Tower. With the Rivié restaurant serving classic French fair and Jacques’ Bar making exotic cocktails right in the hotel – you may feel like you don’t even have to leave.

Photo via The Hoxton

Le Pigalle

This might be the sexiest hotel in Paris. With in-room bathtubs, views of the city, and eclectic artwork decorating the walls – it’s definitely a spot to book if you are getting away with your special someone (in fact – we even included it in our V-Day guide). As much as we love the rooms, our favorite thing about this hotel is that the good time comes to you. Their ground floor not only has a vinyl record library, they also have DJs that come in to spin on a weekly basis.

Hotel Des Grands Boulevards

Experimental Group (the guys behind Experimental Cocktail club and other mainstay watering holes in Paris and beyond), took a step into the hotel business and opened hotels in both London and Paris. Built in an 18th-century townhouse and boasting 50 rooms that are designed with rich fabrics and playful details, we would crown Des Grands Boulevards the chicest of Experimental’s hotels.

Grand Amour Hotel

This is the older sibling to Amour Hotel (3-star hotel which is also 100% worth staying at). This place serves us old retro Hollywood vibes, if Hollywood was in France. With a major “cool-kid” factor, we stay at this place as much for the courtyard bar and the great restaurant as we do for the eclectic rooms.

Where to eat

Chez Janou

This restaurant is loved by locals and tourists alike. The food is good, the vibe is better, and their chocolate mousse (which is literally bottomless) is the best.

Chateaubriand

Don’t come to Chateaubriand if you are a control freak. This distinctly French restaurant has one of the best and most affordable tasting menus we’ve come across – but you pretty much get zero say in what comes to your table. Truth be told, that is entirely fine with us because everything that comes out of this kitchen is great.

Le Stresa

We have insider knowledge that this is model Elsa Hosk’s favorite restaurant. Though it’s a bit scene-y and may not be your first pick if you are trying to go to authentic Parisian style, you can’t deny that La Stresa is a good dose of fun. Pasta, velvet chairs, and ornate mirrors are what define this small Italian restaurant. 

Pamela Popo

This restaurant is named after a Serge Gainsbourg song. Need we say more? Fine, we will. Decked out in vintage wallpaper, Pamela Popo will take you right back to the 50s & 60s. It’s classic French food and when it’s warm we encourage you to grab a seat outside.

Where to drink

Le Comptoir Général

Along Canal Saint Martin is one of our favorite multi-use bars in Paris. This Franco-African themed space looks like a warehouse loft that has been converted into a venue – with mismatched chairs and vintage finds hanging on the walls. The best part about Comptoir is that you can come here for drinks and great tunes in the evening, and return the next day for morning coffee.

Photo via Le Comptoir Général

Le Perchoir

Our favorite rooftop bar in Paris. Come here for a sunset drink (or three) and make sure to dress well – you’ll find a seriously fashionable crowd.

Hero

Hero is actually a Korean-inspired restaurant on rue Saint Denis. We encourage you to order the food – but we come here for the killer cocktails. The vibe is dark and sexy, and you will hear a mix of hip-hop and K-pop in the background. Can you ask for anything more?

Le Dépanneur

Great cocktails in a cozy-chic space. This spot is also a restaurant, so if you get hungry there are some great picks on the menu. It’s in the increasingly hip Pigalle neighborhood which has bars popping up on every street – so this is a great place to start your evening or meet for a date (you are in Paris after all…).

Le Syndicat

Behind a storefront that is seemingly closed is Le Syndicat. This bar specializes in unusual cocktails and bringing back old-school French spirits.

What to do

Marche des Enfants Rouges

An indoor market with tons of stalls that carry fresh produce, prepared food, and more. It’s a great place to stop for lunch.

Picnic on the Seine

There are few better experiences in Paris than buying a baguette, bottle of wine, and great cheese to bring to the banks of the river. 

Institut Suédois

We are throwing this one in the mix because we bet you haven’t visited this museum yet. The gallery explores the history of artistic exchanges between France and Sweden, and frequently has exhibits by young creatives and artists. If you have a love for Scando aesthetic – definitely don’t miss this one.

Canal Saint Martin

We love the Canal Saint Martin because it’s truly one of the most picturesque spots in a very photogenic city. It’s more tranquil than the other sites along the Seine and is close enough to the Marais to make it an easy stop-by. If you’re looking for that romantic pic with your friend, partner, pet, or stranger – this is your spot. 

Piscine Molitor

If you are in need of a Wes Anderson Instagram moment, or just want to cool off in the warmer months, come to this iconic pool at Hotel Molitor. 

Where to shop

Merci

That little red car you’ve seen all over the internet? That’s in front of Paris’s favorite concept shop, Merci. This multi-floored high-end general store has home goods, clothing, used books, gifts, and even furniture. If you are meeting a special someone, they have a flower shop and if you are in need of a pick-me-up, they also have a cafe (because duh). 

Ami

The St. Germain location of this super cool men’s brand has the only women’s capsule collection anywhere- go for a cool blazer nobody else can get their paws on.

Thanx God I’m a V.I.P.

This is a secondhand vintage shop…but it’s not any secondhand vintage shop. Their collection is more curated than other shops in the area (which you should explore – because there are quite a few) and it is even organized by color. We have found some seriously great finds and trust you will too.

Shakespeare & Co

You’ve probably already heard about this iconic bookstore. Even if you have, go back and buy a book or a poster or anything else. We are big supporters of small bookshops, and this is one of our favorites across the globe.

Nous

This is a men’s concept shop started by the same men who ran the shoe and tech departments at the famed Paris store Colette. The space has events, DJs, and guest appearances weekly,  and an inspiring product collection.

Where to dance

Rosa Bonheur

Set in the middle of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, this bar is a great day-time or sunset spot to grab a drink.  Once the sun goes down, this place can turn into a serious dance party. It’s known as a gay bar which means you can count on a good time and great moves.

Lulu White Drinking Club

Once you walk through the unmarked door in Pigalle, you’ll find live jazz and brass music and a bar that specializes in New Orleans style cocktails. The crowd gets rowdy in the best possible way and this is definitely a place you can keep dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Andy Wahloo

This place has been around for a while but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. With great tunes, neon lights, and a Moroccan themed bar, this place creates some of our favorite cocktails in the city. If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite before hitting the dance floor, check out Derrière which is a restaurant by the same owner. We’ve been to both – multiple times – and can solidly say it’s a great time.

Photo via Andy Wahloo

Le Montana

Located in Saint Germaine, this small club has been popular with the fashion crowd for years. You will most likely find an intimidating bouncer out front, alongside a very attractive woman with a “list” that you may or may not be on depending on their mood. If you get in the door, head downstairs for champagne and dancing in a parlor style bar decorated in floral print.

Where to break

Le Loir Dans la Théière

Truly some of the best pasties you will have in Paris. Come here for tea or lunch – or both. 

Ten Belles

One of the city’s first specialty coffee shops. Similar to the small coffee-culture spots you now find in NYC, this place has a strong brew and not a lot of space, but come here for takeaway and you won’t be disappointed.

Télescope

Popular with the fashion crowd, Télescope offers great coffee, an amazing tea selection, and a variety of other warm or cold beverages for that perfect pick-me-up in your day. Be mindful that you can’t bring your laptop – but it makes this cafe a great place to read, write, or people watch.

Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg

Pick up a coffee or something sweet and make your way to the famous Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg. Sit along the fountain to watch little kids play with boats and Parisians sunning themselves. The Luxembourg gardens is a perfect place to have a picnic, and has tons of things for children. The Tuileries will set you in the middle of museum isle. Either way, they are great spots for an afternoon kickback.

Where to get your hit of culture

Jeu de Paume

We are assuming that you are already going to the Musée de l’Orangerie (which is one place we make sure to visit every time we go to Paris). We highly encourage you to also make a pit stop at this museum dedicated to photography which sits on the edge of the  Tuileries gardens – just a short walk from Monet’s waterlilies. 

Musée Rodin

Once the workshop of the famed sculptor, the Hôtel Biron and its gardens are now a museum dedicated to the work of the artist and the collection of art he kept. You can visit his studio in central Paris as well as his home just outside. We recommend doing both.

Palais de Tokyo

One of the largest contemporary art centers in Europe, Palais de Tokyo extends the Musée d’Art Moderne. With a focus on emerging and established artists from around the world – you will see new works from some of recent history’s best talent. Though it may not be one of your first stops in Paris, this is the place to go when you’ve already hit the classics a few times.

Palais de Tokyo

Père Lachaise Cemetery

If it were possible to have a dinner party with the dead – you would 100% want to come to the largest cemetery in Paris for the best company around. Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Edith Piaf are all buried here. 

Where to work

Hubsy

This is more like a co-working space than a coffee shop. You pay based on the hour and get free drinks and snacks while you’re there. Conveniently located in the 3rd, you’ll find fast wifi and plenty of outlets.

CRAFT

This coffee shop is bright and welcoming with plenty of space. The staff is super friendly, and it serves as sort of a “remote office” for locals and tourists alike. Plus, they have great coffee.

Gaîté Lyrique

This is a large concept space that is completely free to the public. It has cultural programming and events that come through the space. It’s also home to coffee shops and bars on each floor. Make yourself at home because this is the kind of place you can stay awhile. Make sure to check out any exhibitions or shows that are up while you’re there.

Milos

Milos is what we wished Mykonos was like on a good day. It’s the lesser known Greek island with better beaches, better food, and way less tourists. Not insinuating that we don’t like a good visit to the party island – but if Mykonos was Beyonce, Milos would be Solange. You get what we are saying here.

With spring on the horizon for many of us – the warm weather destinations on our go-to list start and end with Greece. If you’re craving white washed houses and clear waters – Milos is your place. Unlike Santorini, Mykonos, or any of the more popular islands – Milos is home to 72 incredible beaches and a more interesting history (the statue of Aphrodite, now in the Louvre, was discovered here).

Adamas, Pollonia, Plaka, Klima, and Mondrakia are only a few of the towns that make up this incredible island (ie: you will definitely need a car to explore). All of them offer something different, and all of them are equally as stunning. Regardless of how or where you spend your time on Milos, it’s sure to be your next favorite Greek getaway. 

Where to stay

Skinopi Lodge

High in the hills, these modern glass and stone structures look like something out of Architectural Digest. A stark contrast to Adamas or Pollonia, these three villas are discreetly placed on a hillside overlooking the a bay. If you are wanting top notch design, attention to detail, and perfect seclusion  – this is your spot.

Kostantakis Winery & Residence

For an accessible option, check out Kostantakis Winery & Residence. Though it isn’t directly on the water, these well designed rooms are placed on a beautiful vineyard. It’s a small boutique hotel, and you can tell they pay attention to detail. Plus – you can always head to their downstairs cellars to get a glass of vino when the time is right.

Salt Hotel

Located near Pollonia. Salt Suites makes your white-washed Grecian dreams come true.  Only 1.5 miles from Papafragas Beach, the location is pretty hard to beat. Some rooms come with jacuzzis on the decks but we don’t think that is 100% necessary. If you can, make sure to book a suite with a patio overlooking the bay.

Where to eat

Armira Milos

This Pollonia restaurant does a great job with Greek classics. This taverna is family run and the menu is based on recipes that were taken from grandma. Their seafood dishes are fresh and wonderful. Make sure to get a glass of white wine to wash them down with. 

To Kyma

This restaurant isn’t technically on Milos. Take a short boat ride to Kimolos and head to this simple seaside taverna. Though it clearly takes pride in the no-frills atmosphere – it’s known to host the same celebrities as some of the best restaurants in NYC or Paris (Brad Pitt, Keira Knightly – you know, the regulars). Order the octopus and a variety of salads.

O Xamos

Set in a charming garden, this old school restaurant is where you go when you want home cooked Greek food like goat, lamb, and the like. They are famous for their grilled meats, and with good reason. Make sure to get a side of grilled cheese as well.

Medousa

This is our favorite restaurant on the island. Come here a little early to check out Mandrakia beach and put your name in (there will likely be a wait but it won’t be long). Serving the best seafood we had, make sure to order the octopus and get a full bottle of white wine. There will most likely be cats roaming around and if you can get a table overlooking the ocean….that’s ideal.

Where to drink

Utopia Cafe

For the best sunset views, and decent cocktails, head to Utopia. In the hillside town of Plaka, you can come here to shop a bit before sitting down for a beverage. Make sure to check when Utopia is open – hours can be unpredictable.

Kri Kri

Located in Plaka, Kri Kri doesn’t serve the best cocktails we’ve ever had…but it does serve cocktails. You will most likely find other tourists starting their evening or grabbing a drink after dinner in town. The garden area is adorable and you could do worse than one of their watermelon cocktails.

Kostantakis Winery

This isn’t the best wine in the world – but it’s great to have a taste of what Greece is making. You can come here for a full tasting or just a glass, and walk the grounds while you sip.

What to do

Firiplaka Beach

Firiplaka is the idyllic sandy beach we all think about when Greece comes to mind. The hillside that juts down to the water is a mix of yellow, pink, and sand – which proves to be a pretty incredible contrast to the bright blue ocean. Once you realize you aren’t in fact on drugs and this place is actually that beautiful – take your pick of either renting a cabana or lounge chair, or walk a bit further down the beach and find your perch in the “clothing optional” zone.

Boat trip to Kleftiko Caves

Milos was once an island where pirates took shelter after looting ships. The Kleftiko Caves were some of their favorite places to hide – and you can clearly see why (they are beyond gorgeous). You’ll need to take a boat to see the caves, but it’s 100% worth the trip. Make sure to check the weather as boats don’t go out if it’s too windy. We recommend taking Oneiro tours since they cater to small groups and a more personalized experience.

Tsigrado Beach

On the other side of the island from Plaka and Adamas is this tucked away beach. It’s near Firiplaka – so feel free to wrap a visit into a larger beach day when you’re hitting a few spots on the southern part of the island. Make sure that you are prepared for the descent to the sandy perfection that is Tsigrado. There is a steep passage way that isn’t suitable to everyone…but if you can make it down, it’s a gorgeous place to spend the afternoon.

Sarakíniko

By far one of the most famous spots in Milos – Sarakiniko is the moonscape beach that we have all swooned over in photos. White volcanic rocks line the shallow waters, and make for amazing structures to jump off of and sunbath on. 

Firopotamos Beach

Classic fishermen houses provide a backdrop to Firopotamos beach. This isn’t the secluded cove you may want, but it is gorgeous for other reasons. Take in the local culture of boat houses and Greek tourists getting their dose of Vitamin D on the sand. 

Where to get your hit of culture

Venetian Castle

Built in the 13th century, the Venetian Castle is located on the highest peak on the island and is well preserved. Definitely come here for a sunset (or sunrise) and find some of the best views in Milos. 

Klima Village

One of, if not the most picturesque village in Milos. An old fishing town that still operates. The houses are carved into the rock that makes up the white-washed background, and the village is famous for its colorful “boat garage” doors. This is another great place to catch a sunset.

Catacombs

These things are very, very old. Dating back to the 1st – 5th century (yes, that’s a thing), these are the only Christian catacombs in Greece. They are super well preserved and offer a welcome break from the sunshine.

Where to break

Palaios Pastry

If you happen to have a sweet tooth and, for some insane reason, need a break from the delicious Greek mezze that Milos has to offer – head to Palaios Pastry. Everything in the shop is homemade, and they offer a variety of traditional Greek desserts.

Alesta

A little coffee shop in Pollonia where you can get your afternoon coffee fix. Don’t expect the high end espresso bars you might find in London or LA, but you will certainly enjoy your company and a pick-me-up.

Austin

Austin has become an increasingly popular U.S city for visitors and transplants alike. Though big name festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest call Austin home base, they aren’t even close to the only reason tourists are making the trek down south. With great music 7 days a week, excellent restaurants (or food trucks), and more outdoor activities than we can count…we understand why.

With its history of music, art, and exceptional food – not to mention the University of Texas campus in the middle of town – Austin has been a long-standing hub for creativity and innovation. It’s no surprise that large scale festivals chose this city to call home. The increase of young professionals moving in has driven small business owners to expand their doors and open new coffee shops, boutiques, restaurants, and more. It’s given way to boutique brands like Outdoor Voices to move headquarters down south, new chefs like Zach Hunter, and niche boutique hotel businesses such as Bunkhouse to expand. All without losing the quirk we love so much about the city.

Where to stay

Hotel Saint Cecilia

In the South Congress neighborhood is this 14 room boutique hotel. A bit more secluded than the rest of the properties on our list, Saint Cecilia sits on lush grounds that give a true sense of privacy. Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, you can imagine that the hotel is designed to convey a sense of rock n’ roll. Oh, and that iconic neon “SOUL” sign overlooking a beautiful pool we’ve all seen photos of? You’ll find that here too. 

The LINE Hotel

The LINE’s third property, Austin’s hotel is much like the DC and LA experience in the sense that it is shaped by the town it’s built in. Housed in an old jazz club, the LINE gives homage to the creative history of the building and the city itself. Rooms overlook Lady Bird Lake and come complete with local art. If you can find any time to rest during your trip, definitely spend a few hours by their gorgeous pool. 

Hotel San Jose

Behind stucco walls on South Congress Avenue, you’ll find Hotel San Jose. The modern design, showcasing concrete and minimalist accents, go perfectly with their gardens and courtyards. Their pool is surrounded by bright couches and pillows, and looks like it was staged for some sort of photoshoot. This hotel is almost too pretty to leave, but luckily we love the cocktails they are serving so we can stay here all day.

Heywood Hotel

Heywood Hotel is located in the East Austin area – which is probably one of the hottest neighborhoods in town now. The design is what we would call “Southwest Minimalist.” With only 7 guest rooms, you can expect impeccably personalized service.  Grab a bike to explore the neighborhood ( or for a quick ride downtown) or get some emails out of the way in their sunny courtyard. 

Where to eat

Dai Due

Former farmers market stand and supper club, Dai Due brick-and-mortar location gives us a taste of Texas. Hyper-locally sourced meat and heavy recipes that will let you know you’re definitely in the Lone Star State. 

Sour Duck Market

From the owners of upscale restaurant Odd Duck (which you should also go to), is an all-day eatery/market/bar called Sour Duck. We are putting Sour Duck on our list because we thoroughly enjoy the multifaceted approach to goodness as well as the Eastside location. This is a perfect place to grab a beer, wine, or cocktail and a few apps with your friends, and enjoy all of those things at outdoor picnic tables. It’s the perfect answer for when you want fantastic food but don’t feel like putting on heels in Texas.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

For those of you visiting from New York, LA, or anywhere else that claims to have the best ramen around…get ready. Austin restaurant Ramen Tatsu-Ya might be one of our favorite bowls around and their sister restaurant, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is equally as good but more inventive. Dubbed “Texas Izakaya,” Kemuri is a hybrid of Texas BBQ goodness and Japanese ramen goodness. It’s all very, very good. 

Saigon Le Vendeur

Austin has exceptionally good Vietnamese food, and this spot has our favorite banh mi in town. Sandwiches are served out of an old shipping container, and that only adds to the experience. 

Veracruz Tacos

You’ve heard of Veracruz. If you haven’t heard of Veracruz…we don’t understand why. Either way, it’s worth the hype and you should go to any or all of their locations. Our favorite is the one near Radio Coffee & Beer or around Mueller’s Farmers Market (open every Sunday and Wednesday). Get the Migas Pablanas and have your life be changed forever. 

Where to drink

Kitty Cohen’s

Kitty Cohen’s is a Palm Springs inspired patio bar where you can get punches and other tiki drinks and probably be the happiest version of yourself possible. They have a small pool in the middle of the outdoor area, which you can actually get into. Basically, this bar is giving us everything we want. 

P6

On top of the new LINE hotel is P6 – a cocktail bar serving serious booze and even more serious views. The space just opened on March 1st and you should make sure to check it out. The drinks aren’t cheap but they are delicious, and it would be a challenge to find a better place to watch the sun go down. 

Techo Mezcaleria

Located on top of a restaurant in the East Austin neighborhood is this tiny mezcal bar. The romantic interior boasts a dark wood bar and a seriously amazing mezcal selection. You’re in Austin, so don’t worry they don’t expect you to cram into a small cave to enjoy good liquor. Techo also has an outdoor patio that is perfect for a larger group if need be. 

Where to dance

Barbarella

If you’re looking for a club experience that still has hints of Austin culture – come to Barbarella. Each night of the week is themed (the 60s, 70s, 80s, electronic, etc), so there is truly something for everyone. 

The White Horse

If you’re looking to dance to live music (usually honky-tonk) and want to get your two-step on – there isn’t a better place than this Eastside staple. The live bands change depending on the night – but you are pretty much guaranteed a great time 7 days a week. 

Cheer Up Charlies

Cheer Up Charlies is a queer-friendly bar made for literally everyone.  Housed in what looks like a lodge, the bar has a great patio and even better music. They have dance parties, live music, art shows, and beyond. Plus, if you aren’t in the mood to take down a beer, don’t worry – they have kombucha on tap. 

Where to shop

STAG Provisions for Men

One of our favorite men’s stores on South Congress. They have some vintage and a ton of new, cool brands. Whether you want to pick up a crisp button up or go the full Austin lumberjack look – STAG will hook you up with the trendiest threads. Also, their staff is super friendly so you might feel inclined to stay a while and have a whiskey.

Esby Apparel

We love Esby Apparel for the classic cuts and clean lines. This sustainable brand values minimalism and makes those pieces that you can wear on repeat. Specializing in menswear aesthetic made for women, we consistently find closet staples to take home with us.

Mueller’s Farmers Market

One of our favorite farmers markets in Austin. Sitting right on a man made lake, come here for great produce vendors, packaged goods, games, and food trucks. 

ByGeorge

By far Austin’s most upscale and chicest store,  ByGeorge has high-end designers and high-quality brands you might not have heard of (yet). Their jewelry section is second to none. If you’re looking to drop some cash on some seriously beautiful items…this is your spot.

Feathers

Austin has really good vintage shopping (Charm School Vintage, Room Service Vintage, Blue Velvet, etc). We could fill this list with a host of other store names, but we are going to give you Feathers because it’s a great option for a more curated selection of vintage. There won’t be piles of clothes here – the store reads more like a boutique, but we can guarantee you will find great denim, hats, and amazing one-of-a-kind pieces (we splurged on a floor-length denim jacket and we couldn’t be happier).

take heart

If you are looking to by a gift – look no further than take heart. This might actually be our favorite store in Austin because, though it’s not large, you could spend an hour going through every shelf and checking out the perfectly curated goods they sell. We love their minimalist pottery, Japanese goods,  jewelry, and candles.

What to do

Barton Springs Pool

This is Austin’s favorite watering hole, and will probably be yours soon too. Fed entirely by natural springs, Barton Springs is a man made pool in the middle of Zilker Park. It’s the perfect place to cool off during the warmer months in Austin. 

Wild Basin Preserve

Made up by 227 acres and miles of hiking trails, Wild Basin Preserve is a great and totally accessible outdoor excursion. With different trails connecting at different points, you can decide how long you want your hike to be. There is a clear map at the entrance that allows you to map your route – but no matter which one you take, it will surely be gorgeous. 

Pangea Lounge Food Truck Park

Second in the US for the number of food trucks per capita, Austin knows what it’s doing when it comes to serving food out of a van. Luckily, many of the best trucks are clustered together in food truck “parks” which makes it easy to hit a few of them at once. Pangea Lounge on E. 6th Street is one of our favorites. You can find Thai, Greek, Indian, and, of course, tacos.

Jester King Brewery

About 30 minutes from Downtown Austin is Jester King Brewery. Their year-round and special edition beers are fantastic, but what we love more is the property. The farmhouse sits in Texas Hill Country and makes you feel like you could be much further than 30 minutes west of Austin. With beautiful views, outdoor games, and truly great pizza – you could easily spend an entire day here.

Where to work

Thunderbird Coffee

This is actually our favorite coffee in Austin (a bold claim, but we made it) but we are putting it on our “Where to Work” list because of the big communal tables, large outdoor space, and private high tops. Plus, their baked goods and drinks are good enough that you can stay for hours. Pro tip: if you buy a bag of beans to take home (which you should) you get a free drink of choice. 

The pool at Hotel Saint Cecilia

Listen – you’re in Austin where the weather is pretty warm most times of the year. If you aren’t taking advantage of that while you are penning emails, closing deals, or editing copy…what are you really doing? Head to the pool at Saint Cecilia for prime sunshine and privacy.

Austin Public Library

We know this might sound like we are sending you back to college by telling you to work in a library but hear us out. The Austin Public Library is an architectural gem inside and out, and happens to have a fantastic restaurant. It’s right downtown and the perfect place to come to plug-in. 

Where to break

Juiceland

If you are looking for a healthy start to the day, go to any Juiceland location. This Austin based chain makes really good smoothies and has healthy bites too. We love the location near Deep Eddy.

Seventh Flag Coffee

One of our favorite coffee shops in South Austin. It’s spacious and comfy, which makes sense because it was once a home. We love the minimalist design (part of the reason we come here) and the coffee is some of our favorite in town.

Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors

Insider Margot Boyer-Dry calls Figure 8 the best cup of coffee she’s had, hands down. Started by two Austin natives, Figure 8 is a small local coffee shop with great coffee. We are putting it on here because you may not have heard about it, and it isn’t another “second location” hip storefront like Alfred. The reclaimed wood tables and serves up its own roasted beans.

Where to get your hits of culture

Two-Step at Broken Spoke

Broken Spokes is a legendary dance hall and music museum. Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton have both played here. Need we say more? Come here to two-step any day of the week. Dancing isn’t mandatory, but we dare you to resist jumping on the bandwagon once you’re there.

Live Music

Continental Club, Cheer-up Charlies, Mohawk, Scoot Inn, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. We could keep going for the entirety of this article, but you get the picture. Austin is a great place to see music. Whether it’s during Austin City Limits and SXSW or long after the festivals have departed – this town hosts a range of great artists on a nightly basis.

Blanton Museum of Art

Set on the UT campus, this is far beyond a traditional college art museum. With permanent collections and exhibitions that come through, it’s a must visit on your trip to Austin. We love the peaceful courtyard as a way to wind down from the buzz of the city. It also has a great cafe we’d suggest stopping into. 

Where to work out

Practice Yoga

Donation based yoga on the Eastside. We love this no-frills studio and every teacher we have had has been great. They categorize themselves as “absurdly high-quality donation based yoga” and we couldn’t agree more.

CorePower Yoga

We know this isn’t necessarily a “hyper-local” add to our list, but CorePower Yoga does the trick and we happen to love the Austin location. When you need to sweat it out and feel good about those arms before you take a dive into Barton Springs – CorePower has you covered.

Bike or run along Ann & Roy Butler Path

Austin boasts some of the most beautiful city greens we could ask for – so why not take the workout outside? Ann & Roy Butler Path is the trail that runs along Lady Bird Lake, and it’s the perfect place for a bike ride or a jog. Our suggestion? Jog along the trail to Deep Eddy, and then take a dip.

 

Mexico City

For the last few years, Mexico’s capital has been listed as one of the top destinations for travelers. Even though safety was a concern in the past, it seems as though the increased assurance, expat community, and tourism infrastructure have given most peace of mind and the opportunity to explore one of the greatest cities in the world.

CDMX is a city with immense design-forward thinking, a culinary scene that has taken the world by storm, and a cultural hub. The population has always been incredibly diverse, but with more ex-pats from both Europe and the U.S. moving there full or part-time, it’s only getting broader.

We could spend our entire visit to Mexico City tasting tacos from stands and dining in the progressive restaurants that are found throughout town. In fact, we have. Though the food-centric capital leaves much to be tasted – there is so much more to do that it would be a shame to miss the many museums, exhibits, shops, and parties. Plus, the walking and dancing help to manage the extra 10 pounds of taco weight we may have put on.

With so many places to explore in this expansive ciudad, we couldn’t give you a full hit list (because you would never finish it). Instead, find a few of our favorite spots to check out that you may or may not have heard about. ¡Vamos!

Where to stay

La Valise Hotel

Characterized by matte black details, beautiful tiles, and beds that can move from inside the design forward rooms to outside on large terraced balconies – this hotel does “attention to detail” very well. Not only do we love the unique experience, but the Roma Norte location is perfect. 

Nima Local House Hotel

This is a four-room boutique hotel that you should definitely consider booking in advance. Housed in one of the prettiest townhouses in Roma Norte, each room is designed with its own style and most have windows opening up onto a quiet street. The lobby is covered in greenery and makes for a perfect place for a drink, coffee, or truly anything else we can think of. The only issue with this place is that you might not want to leave.

Condesa DF

Located right in the middle of the chic Condesa neighborhood, Condesa DF is one of Grupo Habita‘s famous hotels. The modern interior serves as a contrast to the colonial exterior. The rooms aren’t large, but they are perfectly done. Definitely head to the roof for a cocktail or four.

Where to eat

Masala y Maíz

As the name might suggest, this restaurant pairs Mexican and Indian fair. The unique combo gives way to truly amazing food. The concept was born out of two friends putting together a menu for a dinner party and finding the similarities in the two cuisines. Order the uttapam and make sure to take some time to explore the natural wine list. 

Casa Virginia

When you walk into Casa Virginia you’ll notice the white table clothes and well dressed-waiters. This is perfectly complemented by the untouched, old mansion the restaurant lives in. The entire menu is excellent and the simplicity of the beautiful space only adds to the perfect atmosphere. It isn’t the tacos or mole you might be craving – but it’s really damn good for a nice meal out.

La Docena

We love Contramar, and we aren’t saying that La Docena is a replacement – but if you aren’t looking to drop serious cash on a 3pm power lunch and you want somewhere a little more hip, this is your place. The seafood is what Docena is known for, and this cantina does it well. We love the music as much as we love the food. Don’t be afraid to show up with a group.

ENO

Enrique Olvera, chef and founder of famed restaurant Pujol (which we, of course, expect you to have a res at, which is why we aren’t including it on this list), opened up this daytime cafe near his staple restaurant. It’s delicious, considerably more affordable, and should be where you head for your first breakfast in CDMX.

El Vilsito

This place will give you the gift of truly fantastic late-night al pastor. The fact that it’s next to a car wash should only solidify the fact that this taco stand is the real deal and the perfect place to end a night.

Where to shop

MACOLEN

Macolen is a print shop that functions as a commercial press where locals send their work to be professionally printed, and an adorable little shop selling its own designs and illustrations. There are varied drawings done by artists from around the world. Feel good about the prints you buy, because Macolen is committed to sending half the proceeds back to the artist.

Hi-BYE

This fashion-forward shop in Roma Norte definitely isn’t the place where everyone will find a piece to take home. It’s a bit on the edgier side and that’s what we love about it.

Sandra Weil

Weil’s gorgeous designs are all inspired by latin design and culture. Come to this beautiful boutique in Polanco to find long silk dresses, trousers, and textiles that ring true to high-end Mexican fashion. 

Ikal 

This concept store carries a great selection of Mexican designers. We love their clothing selection, but you will also find jewelry, objects, and home goods. 

Where to break

Café NIN

This beautiful Juarez coffee shop seems like a Belle Époque wonder you would stumble upon in Paris – but you’re not in Paris. You’re in Mexico. And that makes it better, you know? If you leave here without a pastry, you’re doing it wrong. 

CAFÉ NEGRO

We’re including Café Negro because it’s a solid coffee spot in the Coyoacán neighborhood (ie: not Condesa, Roma, or Juaréz). They roast all their own beans and have a commitment to small coffee producers. As the name might suggest, order your coffee black and grab a pastry to satisfy any sweet cravings you might have.

Buna Coffee

Buna Coffee is some of our favorite coffee in Mexico. We always bring back a few bags of beans in our luggage. While you’re in the DF, stop into their super sleek, minimalist coffee shop for an afternoon pick me up. This isn’t the place you can lounge all day, but it’s 100% worth the visit. 

Ojo de Agua

If coffee isn’t your thing (who are you?) and you need a smoothie or juice of some sort (or breakfast, lunch, fruit, and anything else remotely healthy) – come to Ojo de Agua. Right off the beautiful Calle Amsterdam, this adorable cafe is the perfect health fix while you’re shopping around Condesa. 

Where to drink

Bósforo

This is a mezcal bar in the city’s Centro district. Once you make your way through a curtained door, you will find yourself in one of our favorite mezcalerias. The concrete walls and narrow space ensure that this place will get heated – but that’s why you’re there.

La Botica

You will find no shortage of mezcal bars in Mexico City, but La Botica is one of the better ones. It’s one of the first and continues to support small batch production of the popular liquor.  It isn’t the millennial design inspired space you might imagine, but that is kind of why we love it. The entire staff is well versed in what we have deemed “mezcal talk” and can tell you where each bottle is from and how it’s made.

Cicatriz Café

We love Cicatriz during the day, but we love it more at night. This is an all-day cafe that serves great “food in a bowl,” good coffee, and some of our favorite cocktails. It’s a true neighborhood spot and you will definitely find a cool young, local crowd. If you’re hungry, definitely place an order – the food is great. 

Páramo

For all intents and purposes, Páramo is a restaurant. That said, we use it more as a bar. That isn’t because the food isn’t great (it is) but the cocktails are even better. We love the high ceilings, long wooden tables, and perfect lighting, and it’s a great place to come for birthday drinks. It’s loud enough to make you feel like you’re somewhere worth being but quiet enough so you can have a conversation.

Where to dance

Leonor

Leonor is an underground club in the middle of the city. There is no sign on the door, and if we weren’t visiting local friends who frequent this sweaty underground dance fest, we would have missed it altogether. The space isn’t big, but there is a disco ball, strong drinks, and great music.

Café Paraíso

There is usually a line to get into Café Paraíso, but once you walk down the stairs and see the neon signage and tropical style decor, you will understand why. The space feels a bit like Miami – but a better version of Miami because you’re in Mexico. We love the music and the DJs that frequent the club.

Patrick Miller

Note that this party only goes off on Fridays. That said, if you find yourself in the DF on a Friday – the Patrick Miller Party is where you are going. The dance moves are serious, there are two floors to appreciate the full scale of the fiesta, and you will find people from all over enjoying the music. No need for heels or dress shoes – but make sure to not wear anything too warm as you will end up getting sweaty.

Where to work

Público

This is a beautiful co-working space with three different locations in Mexico City. We love the Condesa location, but all three are perfect places to sit down and get some work done. The design-conscious space has meeting rooms, a cafe, a bar, and some even have photo studios.

Librería de Porrúa

This beautiful little bookstore is actually located in Bosque de Chapultepec park. With a store and cafe at the entry, and stairs down to a patio that overlooks the park lake, it would be hard to find a more peaceful place to work in the city. 

Courtyard of Nima Local House

If you need to find a quiet place to focus, stay in at the Nima Local House Hotel. The courtyard is surrounded by greenery, and you can make yourself comfortable in one of the banquets. 

What to do

El Bazar Sábado

On Saturday’s, a square in the San Ángel neighborhood turns into a full market full of craft vendors. You will find artists selling higher end goods, so don’t forget to bring along extra money. It’s also a great excuse to explore this beautiful neighborhood south of the city center.

La Lagunilla

One of our favorite markets in CDMX, La Lagunilla happens on Sundays. If you are a first time visitor and aren’t familiar with getting around or the language, try to go with someone who is a bit more comfortable with the language and the area. You will find exceptional antiques, great accessories, and perfect gifts to take home.

Xochimilco

If you have seen your friends on colorful boats, drinking beer, listening to mariachi music…they were at Xochimilco. Set on a series of canals, you can rent a gondola and have food vendors and other bands float up to your boat. It’s absolutely a tourist experience – but one that you might love.

Where to get your hit of culture

Luis Barragán’s Architecture Tours

You can’t come to Mexico City without seeing Barragán. Whether you make an appointment to visit Museo Casa Luis Barragán or choose to visit Casa Giraldi or San Cristóbal (which are privately owned but you can pay to visit) – you have to experience his work. He is arguably the most famous architect in CDMX and his style has defined much of what we think of as Mexico City design.

Casa Azul

The Frida Kahlo Museum is located in her home in the center of Coyoacán. Make sure to buy tickets beforehand as the time slots sell out. We could go on and on about this amazing museum – but it’s Frida Kahlo and we will just let you experience it for yourself.

Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

The Frida tour does not end at Casa Azul. Head to San Ángel to check out the studios of her and Diego Rivera. The architecture is just as impressive as the interior features. 

Museo Nacional de Antropología

In a city filled with museums (all of which you should visit), the Museo Nacional de Antropología is one of the best. It houses pre-Columbian relics which are truly out of this world – but the real reason it is our favorite is the architecture which includes a “rain tower” that will have you gawking in the courtyard for a solid amount of time. Plus, the museum is located on the edge of Bosque de Chapultepec which allows you to have a beautiful stroll on your way in.

 

Brooklyn, Part 1

“That’s so Brooklyn” is a bit of a ridiculous saying, being that the famous borough is made up of 77 neighborhoods and 2.7 million people. That’s right – if Brooklyn were its own city, it would be on track to surpass Chicago. Between the brownstones of Fort Greene, the famous Chinese restaurants in Sunset Park, and the bars we have all been to in Williamsburg – it’s pretty hard to categorize “Brooklyn” as one thing. The sheer diversity of people, food, and fun you can find in the borough is unmatched and we could probably dedicate 100 city guides to Kings County alone. We aren’t going to do that – that’s far too overwhelming – but we are going to break down a few of our favorite BK spots by area, just for you.

First up is our guide to a few of our favorite north Brooklyn hoods, which include Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Bed-Stuy. Whether you are here for vacation, a work trip, or have decided to make the move – trust us, these are the spots you’ll love.

Where to stay

The Wythe Hotel

It’s one of the longest standing hotels in Williamsburg but it remains our favorite. Even among the other trendy properties that have popped up along “hotel row” of Wythe Ave, this BK staple keeps winning our hearts when it comes to the industrial chic rooms, great restaurant, and The Ides (a.k.a the rooftop bar to end all rooftop bars). 

Franklin Guesthouse

We mostly love this place due to the location. Set in the middle of Franklin Street in Greenpoint, it’s harder to find a better stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars all within a few blocks. You can choose between studios or suites – both designed as airy lofts and complete with kitchens. That means if you’re the chef type, you can hit the McCarren Park Greenmarket on Saturday mornings to make yourself a nice little meal.

The Hoxton Hotel

This newer edition to the Williamsburg Hotel scene has been welcomed by tourists and locals alike. The Hoxton has a lobby that could be mistaken for a Brooklyn co-working space – mostly because the coffee, food, and general vibe is so good. We love the perfectly designed rooms and the drinks they are serving at Klein’s.  Plus, in the summer they have the perfect patio to take in the good weather.

Photo via The Hoxton Hotel

Where to eat

Diner

Answering a question like “Where to eat” in one area of Brooklyn alone is nearly impossible – but Diner is almost always a great option. Owned by the same people behind Brooklyn mainstay Marlow & Sons, this has one of our favorite burgers in the city. Bonus: you are consuming said burger in a train car. If you don’t like burgers that isn’t a problem – everything else is fantastic too.

Kings County Imperial

This isn’t the hole in the wall dumpling spot you are finding in Sunset Park or Queens – but that’s okay, because it’s really f*ing good. They recently opened a Manhattan location, but come to the Williamsburg outpost because it’s better and the original. Make sure to order the soup dumplings (off menu) and at least three of the vegetable dishes. And the noodles. Just order everything.

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster

If you are in need of a really good fish taco – or really good fish anything – come here. Part fish market and part restaurant, it’s a great lunch option when you want something light but don’t want to skimp on flavor.

Saraghina

One of our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn is found on a corner in Bed-Stuy, and that restaurant is Saraghina. The space is made up of a wine bar, the restaurant, and a bakery.  We suggest partaking in wine before sitting down for the full experience, which should include pizza. Inside and outside seating options are equally as romantic, but we prefer inside due to the perfect rustic decor.

Photo via Saraghina

Chez Ma Tante

One of our favorite new restaurants in Greenpoint. You’re not coming to Chez Ma Tante for jaw-dropping design because it kind of looks like everything else in Brooklyn. You’re coming here for excellent food (which they describe as “Canadian inspired” but we aren’t sure what the hell that means). What we do know: the cocktails are incredible, the caesar salad changes lives, and their falafel is to die for.

Samurai Papa

With two locations – one in Bushwick and one in Bed-Stuy – this is some of our favorite ramen in Brooklyn. Don’t come here with a big group or expecting bells and whistles. Samurai Papa means business, and that business is highly concentrated, really good ramen. 

Blanca

Behind famed Roberta’s pizza is this 12-seat restaurant. It serves a 19-course Italian inspired tasting menu and will cost you a pretty penny – but it’s out of this world. If you need to celebrate a special occasion, please come here. Do it for us. It’s a truly unique dining experience, and probably one of the best you’ll have during your stay. 

Where to drink

Achilles Heel

You could easily miss Achilles Heel, being that there is no signage and the door looks like it belongs on the set of a western film that lost funding. All of this only adds to the charm of our favorite Greenpoint bar – and one that will certainly set the mood for a first, second, or eleventh date. Inside you will find a wood burning stove, two tops, great drinks, and fantastic small plates. We love their wine selection, but their cocktails are innovative and equally as good. If you’re hungry, order from their seasonal menu.

Four Horsemen

Our favorite wine bar in north Brooklyn, Four Horsemen was opened by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. What does that mean? Apparently a great rotating selection of natural wine and amazing small plates served in a clean, modern space. This is a perfect third date spot, and you could spend hours on their bar stools talking wine with the bartender.

Ramona

Ramona wins our hearts due to it’s beautiful design and the fact that you aren’t crammed into 500 sqft with 100 other people. There are two floors, so you can actually hear the person you are talking to. Order the Self Portrait. 

Photo via Ramona

Donna

We love Donna for many reasons. It has frozen cocktails (which are really good) but also serves a Paloma on draft. The tacos are good and the nachos are better, and the beautifully designed space makes it a place you don’t want to leave. It’s great for groups, or for a casual meet-up before dinner at Misi or Marlow & Sons. 

Bar LunÀtico

Make sure to get to Bar LunÀtico on the earlier side, because it fills up. There is live music almost every night, and if you are lucky enough to snag a small table you can enjoy tunes, cocktails, and food all in one go. We mostly come here for the first two, but either way it’s a great time.

Grimm Brewery

If beer is your thing – head to the newly established Grimm Brewery in Bushwick. Serving up grade A artisanal ales, you can snag a growler to go or lounge in their taproom for hours.

Where to dance

Good Room

This Greenpoint club hosts DJs most nights of the week – and is a true club experience (well, our kind of club). You won’t find $1k table service here, but they do have a disco ball, dim lights, and some of the best house music around to groove down to. 

Friends and Lovers

Bar in front, party in the back. Friends & Lovers is technically in the intersection of Crown Heights & Prospect Heights, but we are including it because you need to go here ASAP. It’s one of our favorite “dance bars”  – and yes, that is a category we are establishing and you know exactly what it means. Make sure to head there late, and see who is scheduled to DJ.

Casablanca Cocktail Lounge

This cocktail bar turns really sweaty at around 1am on weekends. It’s been around for a while, which we love, and it isn’t just geared towards the new young professional neighbors that have moved in. This will be an eclectic mix of young people and hopefully some great R&B.

C’mon Everybody

C’mon Everybody is set up the way a lot of bars in NYC are organized – part bar, part music venue. They host everything from live music to comedy shows, and you can’t go wrong with any sort of entertainment this establishment puts on. This is a great place to drink and dance on the weekends, and part of that reason is its proximity to Chilo’s. What is Chilo’s? It’s another bar, with a food truck in the back serving some of the best tacos in Bed-Stuy.

Bembe

If you are looking to sweat your ass off and be extremely close to other individuals while listening to live Brazilian music – you’ve found your spot. Bembe has become increasingly more popular which has come with a cover charge – but it’s worth it.

Where to break

SEY COFFEE

This uber-sleek coffee shop in Bushwick looks like it was built for Instagram. The interior is white, airy, and everything we want when it comes to good light in the winter. The coffee is fantastic (and very strong). 

Lella Alimentari

This quaint Italian cafe sits on a quiet block in Williamsburg. Run entirely by real deal Italians, you can trust the piadinis and rotating breakfast they serve is legit, and their espresso bar is on our regular rotation. In the summer, come to their coffee window and take a seat outside on the benches to people watch. If you need to get some work done, head inside to check out the knick-knacks that decorate the entire space. We recommend going with the classic European soft boiled eggs and fresh bread.

Devocion

One of the most beautiful coffee shops in New York, Devocion Williamsburg looks like part architectural wonder, part cafe. The coffee is expensive but good. We mostly come here for the ambiance, and we are entirely okay with that.

Maman Greenpoint

Maman has several locations throughout NYC, but this one is our favorite. The shabby chic interior with worn white table and benches is only the first thing we love about the cafe. This is a great place to get a matcha (or lavender) latte and fresh pastry. 

Champion Coffee

On Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Champion is one of our regular picks due to how good their coffee is, and the fact that it’s never too busy. 

Where to shop

Home of the Brave

This home goods store has everything you would expect to find in an adorable Brooklyn home goods store: beautiful pottery, geometric rugs, handmade blankets, and monochrome kitchen wear. A perfect place to buy gifts for those back home…or yourself.

Wolves Within

Also on Franklin St (which has a ton of great boutiques), Wolves Within is an affordable, well curated shop owned by the same people behind Home of the Brave. Selling both men’s and women’s clothing, it’s a perfect place to get those high waisted trousers or long gold earrings you’ve been eyeing.

10 ft Single by Stella Dallas

One of our favorite vintage stops, Stella Dallas is a longstanding Williamsburg favorite. Though it isn’t the cheapest, it would be hard not to find something great to take home from this store. Their denim selection is top notch and you can absolutely find some good graphic tees.

Concrete + Water

Selling brands like Ganni, Nanushka, and Mr. Larkin – this is the “Brooklyn cool” shopping destination we all need. Carrying some of our favorite threads for both men and women, you can do some serious damage on your credit card here. 

Where to work

A/D/O

This work space/restaurant/event venue concept in Greenpoint is a great place to plug in for the day. The Scandinavian inspired interior is large with wall-to-wall windows. There are tons of places to sit and outlets everywhere (huge win). The restaurant, Norman, serves great lunch specials and good coffee to keep you going throughout the day. Check out their programming while you’re there, and you might come back for an interesting talk later in the evening. 

Lobby of the Hoxton Hotel

As we mentioned above, the Hoxton Williamsburg could easily be confused with a Brooklyn co-working space. Locals come here for the good breakfast, chill music, and great ambiance while they plug away. The lobby is colorful and charming, and a perfect place to start the work-day

Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen

Stonefruit almost went into our “Where to break” and “Where to eat” categories, and then we realized that it was both those things, which made it a great place to spend the day working. With a cafe in the front and a flower store in the back, this adorable coffee shop serves up great espresso drinks and even better health-conscious food. There is a large table amongst the plant life in the back, to keep you serene while you type.

What to do

Greenpoint Open Studios

Chelsea isn’t the only place in NYC with great art going on. A few times during the year, Greenpoint opens up its various warehouses and invites the public to see what artists in the area are up to. This includes small fashion brands, multi-media designers, and fine artists. 

Syndicated Movie Theater

If you are in the mood for an evening in (or it’s way too cold outside for anything that involves walking), head to Syndicated. As the name suggest, this movie theater plays great films that range from older French cinema, to the Sandlot, to movies that were recently in theaters. The best part? The menu is excellent and you can order booze and food while watching the movie.

Domino Park

A new addition to the Williamsburg waterfront, Domino Park has an incredible view of the city. It’s a perfect location for a picnic, but if you forgot to pack food there is a taco stand nearby (because we are in Brooklyn…). The park is complete with a dog run and benches for taking in the Manhattan skyline. For kids, there is a playground and, in the warmer months, fountains that children love to play in.

Live Music 

Between Brooklyn Bowl, Knitting Factory, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the smaller venues that can be found in bars across Brooklyn – it would be hard to find a better place to listen to (any different type of) live music. Check out the calendar for the larger venues, or pop-in to low key spots and be surprised at newer acts.

Where to work out

Modo Yoga

Even though Modo has locations in the city, we prefer the Williamsburg outpost. It’s newer and the studio is nicer. We love all the teachers and it’s a perfect place to work up a sweat on the colder days.

East River Pilates

With three locations, this is our favorite pilates studio in Brooklyn. The bright interiors are welcoming, as are the instructors. Choose from mat, reformer, or cardio classes. All of them are great.

Photo via East River Pilates

Flywheel

Feeling like you ate too much pizza and need to burn the calories? There is a Flywheel right on Metropolitan waiting for you. 

Namastuy

A great yoga option in Bed-Stuy, Namastuy is a beautiful independently owned studio in the neighborhood offering a variety of classes.

 

L.A. – Mid-City

In the second installment of our LA guide, we’re here to focus on what lies between west and east Los Angeles. Though true Angelinos understand that “mid-city” defines an actual LA neighborhood, we are using it here to describe the areas between West Hollywood and K-Town.

So much of what defines “old LA” style can be found in and around the central part of the city: Art Deco signs that rise above classic hotels, restaurants that hark back to old Hollywood glam, and surprisingly excellent shopping that gives residents their defining laid-back look.

With areas like Korea Town filling its streets with trendy new bars, there is a sense that parts of each neighborhood are changing. The change isn’t all bad (though some really great hole in the wall food has been sacrificed), and it has even made some ‘hoods more diverse and exciting to visit.

Check out what we love about all that space between the beach and the LA river. We are pretty certain you’ll dig it, too. If for some wild reason you missed our “Westside” guide – check that out, too, for even more spots to hit on your next visit to LaLa Land.

Where to stay

Hotel Figueroa

This place has a rooftop pool. We could probably end our recommendation there, but alas – it does a few other things well, too. The Spanish colonial-style interior is gorgeous and translates well to each of the eateries inside the hotel. Drinks at Bar Figueroa are brought to you by the cocktail guru from Employees Only in NYC, and we can attest to the fact that the booze here is just as fantastic. Make a reservation at Bar Alta afterward. Just trust us.

Petit Ermitage

Petit Ermitage is very much a West Hollywood hotel. It has a private rooftop pool that feels so “LA” that you could probably spend your entire visit up there. If you happen to make your way back to your bohemian-inspired room, only do so to change into something warmer and then walk right back up to the roof to sit by the fire. It’s a transportive, leafy oasis. We’ll meet you there.

The Line

You’ve probably seen this hotel pop-up on your social media feed the last two years or so, and with good reason. Koreatown is increasingly popular with Angelenos from all parts of town, and has bars and restaurants popping up everywhere (please note: it ALWAYS had good bars and restaurants). This Mid-Century Modern-doused hotel came was opened in the last few years, and recently added a new section of rooms that were designed by the brothers behind Houston Hospitality (Good Times at Davey Waynes, Dirty Laundry, and about 5 other places you have definitely been to). Oh, and if you head upstairs you can dine in a greenhouse which makes for fabulous #content.

Image via The Line Hotel

Where to eat

Jon & Vinny’s

If you can get a table, this is some of the best pizza in LA. We recommend going for a late lunch or at some odd hour in order to grab a seat, but in the event you attempt to go when the crowds hit, don’t worry – know it’s 100% worth it.

Animal

This is not the place to come for your “light dinner” of quinoa and lentils. As the name suggests, this place doesn’t F around when it comes to shared plates for carnivores. Be prepared for one of the most unique experiences in LA, and to leave with the meat sweats. Come here with a date, specifically one with an adventurous palate, or with a larger group of friends. If pig ears or the beef tendon chips are too out there, don’t worry. Animal has added some more approachable items to its menu, including the Hamachi Tostada and Spaghetti Dan Dan. But you should seriously get the pig ear.

Guelaguetza Restaurant

Great Oaxacan food in Koreatown. “Great” might be an understatement being that Jonathan Gold (the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize!) actually named this “the best Oaxacan restaurant” in the entire country. Opened by a husband and wife team from Mexico, the restaurant is still a family business. Expect a live mariachi band (huge bonus)- and you should definitely order every type of mole on the menu.

Sushi Park

There is a sign outside of Sushi Park that basically reads “No Bullshit.” They don’t serve California rolls or teriyaki, they don’t do veggies or salad, and don’t even utter “spicy tuna” here- they admittedly display that they don’t partake in any “trendy sushi.” If that doesn’t get you in the door immediately – just walk away. Sushi Park is where you come for high-quality fish and super authentic Japanese sushi. Even though it’s in a strip mall, it isn’t cheap- and it’s worth it.

Rosaliné

On Melrose Ave sits this beautiful Peruvian restaurant. Full disclosure: we love Peruvian food, and could eat it for most meals of the day. Rosaliné does a great job at the classic ceviches, lomo saltado, and vegetarian options. The interior is worth the trip in itself, as is the food presentation.

Otus Thai Kitchen

If you’re looking for a solid breakfast with good coffee – but you’re sick of hearing how this “avocado toast” is the best in town – head over to Otus Thai Kitchen. We order the “Kai Kata” and a latte, and take a seat in their sunny backyard. We recommend you do the same. 

Gracias Madre

We aren’t vegans and therefore we don’t typically take our Mexican food in vegan format. But if you do – this is your place. Gracias Madre has a gorgeous tiled courtyard and interior. We promise they don’t skimp on the food, so don’t let the “vegan” prefix detour you.

Where to break

Liquid Juice Bar

If coffee isn’t a part of your “I just got to LA” cleanse, then head to Liquid Juice Bar for a green juice fix. It doesn’t look like much from the outside – but we love the quality of their product. They are also known for one of the best acai bowls in the city. 

Paramount Coffee Project

This small coffee shop on North Fairfax serves a great cup. This Sydney outpost is another Aussie coffee project – so you can trust their flat whites, gibralters, and other fantastic specialty drinks. They have good food in case you need a bite, and a small but cute backyard. We wouldn’t recommend coming here to work, but it’s a perfect place to meet your old co-worker for an afternoon break.

Go Get Em Tiger

Though not very big, Go Get Em Tiger is a great place to grab a coffee in central LA. Located on Larchmont (which happens to be the unicorn of LA streets – one you can actually leisurely walk and shop on), you can peruse any of the stores around the area. If you happen to get hungry, turn right around and go back to Go Get Em Tiger because their food is solid, too.

Where to shop

American Rag

This is an LA mainstay- and you’ve probably come here before. American Rag is still a great place to find denim staples and great boots to match. Selling cool brands like Ulla Johnson and Norse Projects, there is something for everyone.

Des Kohan

Selling high-end jewelry, clothing, and accessories, Des Kohan is the upscale boutique that makes us wish we had a black card. Collaborating with emerging designers, this shop has both unique pieces and major staples.

Denim Revival

Did you rip those vintage Levis that make your butt look perfect? Denim Revival can repair them. Did you never even have your dream jean that made your butt look perfect? You can buy those at Denim Revival. Do you need a trendy vintage leather jacket to go with your new pants? Denim Revival has you covered.

Mister Freedom

Though this is a store for both men and women, we truly feel like the vintage finds for the gents are why Mister Freedom shines. Alongside rows and rows of well-curated vintage is the Mister Freedom in house label, as well as finds from around the globe.

What to do

Cinespia – Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On Fairbanks lawn insider the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is where you’ll come with big blankets, pillows, and picnic supplies. Get cozy and gear up to watch a number of different films. You’ll see other Angelinos enjoying a date or a night with their friends here. If you’re thinking “this is in a cemetery – I bet they only show horror movies,” you’d be wrong. With past films like Dazed & Confused, Almost Famous, and season finale screenings – there is something for everyone.

Hollywood Bowl

Check out the schedule of acts coming into the historic Hollywood Bowl. This is one of our favorite venues….ever. With the Hollywood Hills in the background, and the natural acoustics, there isn’t a better place to see music. We recommend getting a table and bringing a picnic.

LA Farmers Market

LA has a ton of farmers markets, but the original one on Fairfax is a must visit. You can get everything from produce to homewares to prepared food. The flowers are also to die for (in case you need to pick up a little something for a dinner party you’re planning to attend later). 

Olympic Spa

Korean Spas are a way of life in LA. We’ve tried a bunch, and Olympic remains one of our consistent go-to spots. Don’t come here for the luxury experience you might expect at the Four Seasons – but if you want to feel like your skin has returned to baby form after a great salt scrub – this is your place. 

The Comedy Store

This is an LA institution. From Whoopi Goldberg to Eddie Murphy to Robin Williams – this place has seen some legends. Grab tickets to either stage and don’t be shocked if you get a surprise celebrity comic crashing the performance.

Where to get your hit of culture

Barnsdall Art Park

Okay, so technically Barnsdall Art Park is in “East” Hollywood but we are including it anyway. An 11-acre park, Barnsdall is home to a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, a phenomenal art gallery, creative classes for kids and adults, and views.

LACMA

This might be surprising, but if you walk past the famous lamp post installation that has been Instagrammed thousands of times, there is an incredible collection of art inside LACMA. With fantastic exhibits and a staple collection that people travel to see, LACMA is one of our favorite museums in LA. And yes, you can still take photos of the lamp posts. 

La Brea Tar Pits

Off of Wilshire Blvd are the centuries-old La Brea Tar Pits. One of the worlds most famous fossil excavation sites, you can take a tour of the natural history museum that sits behind the viewing area. We love the fact that this is right in the middle of Los Angeles.

Where to work out 

Wanderlust Yoga Studio

Wanderlust goes beyond just a yoga studio. With Vinyasa, Kundalini, Mindfulness classes and more – you can definitely get your mat time in. They also have a cafe, a collaborative studio space, and they host events.

Modo Yoga LA

Modo has made its name across America, but we love their LA outpost. This hot yoga studio has great teachers and is exactly what we need after a night of drinking and eating tacos at 2am.

Edge Dance Center

If you want to take it up a notch, head over to Edge Dance Center to take a class. This famous academy offers classes for all levels – but any of them will get your sweat on. 

The Wall Fitness

With 5 unique classes ranging from cycling, to interval training, to stretch – Wall is where we go to kick our own ass. Their signature 123 Stack class is the perfect antidote for jet-lag, and will keep you coming back for that adrenaline high. We also love their facilities.

Where to drink

The Dime

A Los Angeles classic. The Dime is still running and it’s still as great as it ever was. If you get here early, you can slip into one of the banquets and avoid the crowds that start coming in around 10pm. It isn’t a big place, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in great music. Drinks are strong. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Jones Hollywood

Jones is also a restaurant, but we usually come here for a martini or another self-important drink at the bar. The interior is the classic LA vibe you’re looking for, and the bartenders have some stories. The last time we were here, the power went out and even though they couldn’t pump out food or…see, they lit the entire place in candles and let the drinks flow. That’s the kind of place Jones is.

The Normandie Club

If you’re looking for a fancy cocktail or an impressive date spot, head to the Normandie Club in K-Town. It’s a dark, beautiful bar and we feel like you should probably order a really nice whiskey on the rocks. If for some odd reason your date isn’t impressed by the bar itself, take her to the secret bar inside the Normandie, called Walker Inn

Kibitz Room

This dark bar might smell like corn-beef and mustard – and that’s because it’s attached to Canter’s Deli (a moment of silence for this LA staple). The bar is kind of a dive but that is why we love it. You will pretty much exclusively see LA locals and the rare but real LA native. 

El Carmen

Tequila on the rocks. Tequila cocktails. Tacos to go with your tequila. This is El Carmen. 

Where to dance

Break Room 86

This is an 80s-themed karaoke bar in Korea Town. And yes, we know what you’re thinking: dreams really do come true. Walk through the secret entrance through a loading dock, and just know that one of the best bars in LA is waiting for you on the other side. 

Good Times at Davey Wayne’s

Brought to you by the Houston Brothers (like Break Room 86), this is a 70s bar that you get through via a secret entrance (see a theme here?). There are mustard colored couches, hammocks on the patio, and really, really good tunes. One of our favorite places in LA. 

Dirty Laundry

Okay fine – all of our places to go out are Houston Brothers establishments. We don’t care – because they all serve their purpose, and Dirty Laundry’s purpose is to be sexy AF. With a speakeasy vibe, candlelit bar, and good cocktails, this is one of our favorite places to come. The real kicker is the secret dance room with fantastic DJs, hidden in the back.

Where to work

Verve Coffee Roasters

The Melrose location of this LA coffee house is large, airy, and has great outdoor space. Some of our favorite coffee (we buy the beans every time), Verve also has food. Take a seat on a comfortable cushion or at a table outside to get some sun while you work. 

Bricks & Scones

Located on Larchmont in Hancock Park, Brick & Scones is huge. Head to the second floor and make yourself comfortable for the day. Plenty of outlets and, yes, scones to keep you charged. 

The pool at Petit Ermitage

Listen, you’re in LA. That means that you should be in a bathing suit at least 50% of the time. If that means suffering from a little screen glare while you soak up the rays while writing a few emails, so be it. Head to the bohemian-inspired rooftop of Petit Hermitage and plug away.

Cartagena

With cobblestone streets and colorful mansions, it’s hard not to be immediately charmed when you set foot in Cartagena. If the Caribbean getaway you’re after is complete with breezy, quiet days by the ocean and taking pleasure in solitude – this is not the place for you. The palm-lined plazas that fill the walled city are humming with people at any hour of the day, and you would be remiss to not catch a salsa party or eat a world-class arepa in one of the squares during your stay.

With Cartagena’s increasing popularity has come an influx of awareness around tourism. The city has become much safer, but it is also much more geared towards visitors. That means a growing number of vendors crowding the streets to sell their goods and climbing prices for locals and tourists alike.

Though most people will tell you to stick within the limits of the old city and its beautiful homes, the probability of you getting woken up by a group of large, drunk men who just landed for their friend’s bachelor party is…high. We usually opt for Getsemani as our home base while visiting the coast. However, with all the gorgeous places to stay in the old city, and the privacy they afford their guests, you can’t really go wrong. In fact, Cartagena is one of our favorite places to explore hotels because of the individual boutique lodgings that are housed in old mansions. We sometimes just pretend we are in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel (until we realize that we don’t, in fact, own a colonial home on the beach and need to log back into our Gmail).

Between the beautiful scenery, short boat trips to stunning beaches, great dancing, and the fact that it’s a direct (and relatively painless) flight from most major cities in the Northern Hemisphere, Cartagena is one of our go-to trips for that necessary weekend getaway.

Where to stay

Hotel Casa Don Sancho

One of our top picks, Casa Don Sancho is housed in a renovated townhouse on the edge of the walled city. We love the location – away from most of the crowds but still in old town – and the 6 bedrooms are spread across 3 beautifully designed floors. Bright rooms and neutral colors give this place a peaceful energy amongst the buzz of colorful Cartagena. Head up to the rooftop patio for sunset.

Casa de Alba

Right next to Bolivar Park, Casa Alba is an old mansion located in the city’s historic center. With an outdoor pool and courtyard garden, this hotel is a perfect option for larger groups or for a romantic getaway. We love the individual decor of each room, ranging from stunning canopy beds to a set of perfectly placed twins. If for some reason the courtyard pool isn’t getting enough sun exposure for your perfect tan, just head upstairs to the roof for their second pool and A+ views.

Hotel Capellán de Getsemaní

Hotel Capellán is one of our top picks in our neighborhood of choice. The minute you walk in, you get a sense of the Caribbean inspired design elements – beautiful fountains, white cushioned chairs, and dark wood accents. The rooms are bright and airy, and the rooftop pool is second to none. They also have a pretty good spa if you are looking to indulge. 

Tcherassi Hotel

The Tcherassi Hotel is one of the chicer options in the old city. Owned by fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, you can tell that the minimal, elegant interiors were created by someone with two feet in the design world. With a beautiful pool on the roof, we also come here for one of our favorite spa experiences in Cartagena. Both restaurants in the hotel are fantastic, and we recommend indulging in one if not two dinners on site.

Casa Lola

Located in Getsemani, Casa Lola is a great price-conscious choice. This quaint but perfectly styled hotel has a fantastic roof top pool and bar. Down the street from Cafe Havana and Bazurto Social Club, you can dance your way home in about two minutes.

Casa Venita

For those of us on a budget, Casa Venita is one of our favorite places to stay in Getsemani. Though it does have hostel-type accommodations, Venita also boasts both queen and king size rooms. With an adorable cafe serving acai bowls and other healthy eats, we opt for the “breakfast included” option. There isn’t a better way to start your day.

Where to eat

Demente

This is our favorite restaurant in Getsemani for a few reasons: the location right on Plaza de la Trinidad gives way to pretty spectacular people watching, the tapas style menu, and the really good cocktails that will start your night off in the best way. 

Moshi

Brought to you by the owners of Colombian institution, Carmen, Moshi is their Japanese sister restaurant. We say go here over Carmen because the tasting menu is where it’s at. We think the 7-course is the way to go, but they also have an 11-course option if that’s your style (which we would highly respect). The food is inventive and the fish is fantastic. This is a must visit during your time in Cartagena. 

Pasteleria Mila

A perfect place for a breakfast pastry or a morning bite, Mila is located in the center of the old city. They also have brunch, but it wouldn’t be our top choice. We recommend grabbing something sweet and a coffee, and relaxing before kicking off the day in the sun. 

Candé

Serving high-quality Colombian cuisine, Candé is what we would label “upscale authenticity.” This basically means that the traditional food they serve is the real deal, but you are also eating that food while sitting in gorgeous banquets, in a courtyard with plants hanging above you. Definitely make sure there is fish on your table, and you’ll thank us for sending you here.

Bonche

This Getsemani bar was started by two young locals who were in need of a great cocktail bar that would serve quality without the American price tag. Enter Bonche. The cocktails are good, the food is also good (though not necessarily healthy), and you can absolutely find a party here any weekend you visit. You’ll meet young locals and visitors alike, and we recommend the burger.

Cafe Stepping Stone

An Australian cafe that most of our America friends will be very excited about. Yes, that means you can find avocado toast, acai bowls, and other vegan-friendly options on this menu. Though we fully admit we are to blame for loving the Aussie health trend – we actually come to Cafe Stepping Stone because of their mission. They work to shrink the gap between the “two Cartagenas,” and employ young teens and adults from around the city. They teach them English, how to serve, how to cook and make drinks, and overall hope to jumpstart their careers. Yeah – so go order yourself an almond milk latte and feel really, really good about it.

Street food

On the corner of Carrera 11 and Calle 38 is our favorite arepa stand. Come here in the morning to get a ham, cheese, or veggie arepa freshly made. This is a Cartagena staple and you need to grab one (from any stand) before you leave.

Where to drink

El Barón

This upscale cocktail bar will feel very familiar to those traveling from America or Europe. Though it’s rather small, the romantic decor and great drinks make you feel like you could stay for hours. The bartenders are half the reason to love it here – and they also serve small bites. 

Alquimico

This three-floor bar looks like something out of a 1920s novel. Each floor is distinctively designed with beautiful attention to detail. Once a worn down warehouse, the owner has renovated it but kept the integrity of Cartagena architecture. With a first floor bar that gets fairly crowded, a second floor with blue velvet chairs and beautifully tiled floors, and a rooftop patio that plays great tunes – you definitely have options here. All the cocktails are good, but we recommend the mezcal concoctions they do so well.

La Jugada

This could technically be put in our “where to dance” category, but being that La Jugada serves wine, and there are so many incredible salsa clubs to shake your thing at in the city, we are leaving it right here. This bar is relatively expensive and is mostly geared towards tourists, but well-heeled tourists. The art deco design and crowded basement prove for a truly great experience. 

Beer Lovers

For those of you that aren’t big on cocktails, come to Beer Lovers for some of Colombia’s best brews. They serve more than what the country has to offer, but we recommend sitting at the bar and trying what’s local on tap. 

Where to dance 

Bazurto Social Club

Hands down, our favorite place to get down. Bazurto has no rules, except the fact that you hit the dance floor with conviction. There are live bands performing cumbia, salsa, reggae, and more. You can dance the night away, or watch the performance and order calamari. This place is pretty much everything you want in Cartagena. 

Quiebra Canto

The third of the Getsemani club staples (Cafe Havana and Bazurto being the other two). Though we love Cafe Havana and would put it on our list, we figure that most people in search of dancing will head there. Quiebra Canto is geared more towards the experienced salsa dancers -but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time for everyone.

Mister Babilla

This isn’t where you go to get the local flavor. That said, if you want to listen to some good DJs who play a mix of Latin music and the usual hits – this is your spot. In any other country this bar wouldn’t be anything special. In Cartagena, where beautiful cocktail bars are easily found, this straight-forward establishment is a breath of fresh air. Be prepared to find loads of tourists – also be prepared to dance your heart out.

Where to break

Cafe de la manana

A recommendation from Cartagena native, Ernesto Roman, Cafe de la Mañana is a perfect place for a morning or afternoon break. If you need a cup of coffee, a $6 breakfast of eggs, bread, fruit, and juice, or a mimosa midday – this place if for you. Feel free to post up here with your laptop or journal.

Café del Mural

On a quiet street in Getsemani, you’ll find this adorable cafe. Cafe del Mural takes pride in the coffee they serve. Though Colombia is a huge exporter of premium brew, the country doesn’t keep the high-end beans within its borders. This cafe has a mission to showcase the true beauty of Colombian coffee, and serves some of the best cups in town. Take a seat outside and look at the beautiful graffiti art that this neighborhood is famous for. 

Beiyu Cafe

If you aren’t in the mood for caffeine, head to Beiyu Cafe in Getsemani for a smoothie or juice. This adorable cafe has seating inside and great A.C. (which is important in the summer months). They also have reliable wifi – so if you need a healthy snack and an e-mail break, this is your spot. 

Epoca

Our favorite place for iced coffee is Epoca. We get a blended iced coffee and call it a day, but there are so many options at both locations. The food they serve is a great breakfast choice, but you can’t go wrong with simply taking advantage of their beautiful interior and a refreshing caffeine fix. Make sure to check hours, as it opens a bit later than most shops.

What to do

Day trip to Rosario Islands

When people think of Cartagena, they usually think of the beach. You won’t find that beach in the city, which is why we are sending you to the Rosario Islands. Technically a national park, the Rosario Islands (or Islas del Rosario) are about an hour boat ride away from the Cartagena port. Feel free to stay overnight at one of the hotels, or just visit the stunning beaches for a day. This is where you can swim in the calm, aqua blue water you dream of when thinking about the Caribbean. 

Walk the wall of the walled city

Built in the 1500s, Cartagena’s historic walls run 4km around the center of the city. It was previously used to protect the city from pirates, and you can now take a romantic stroll or come here to catch the sunset.  

Tierra Bomba 

Another beach getaway for when you want to hit the ocean in Cartagena. Closer than the Rosario Islands, Tierra Bomba is easily accessed via boat. If you opt for an overnight mini-vacation, we recommend Blue Apple Beach House. You can also pay for a day-pass to this adorable hotel – but we think you might as well stay a night or two.

Las Bóvedas

Las Bóvedas is a series of 23 structures built into walls that were originally purposed to vault weapons or anything else the Spanish wanted to hide. Later, these same vaults were used as prison cells during the civil war. Very charming. Today, these historical structures are used as markets stalls. Come here to find local goods and souvenirs to your friends back home.

Where to get your hit of culture

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

When going to Cartagena, you need to visit the fortress that overlooks the city. A 15th-century structure, you can tell that the conquers of this land weren’t messing around. Make sure to come here on a sunny day, because it can take a minute to walk around the preserved site. 

Museo del Oro Zenú

Exhibiting a fantastic collection of gold pottery, Museo del Oro Zenú showcases the work of pre-colonial times, with a strong focus on the indigenous Zenú culture. Definitely one of our favorite museums in town.

Salsa classes

Technically Cali is the salsa capital of Colombia. Admitting that, Cartagena is still a great place to take classes. Check out Crazy Salsa for to learn some moves. After you’ve been schooled, head to Cafe Havana or Quiebra Canto to show off your skills.

Getsemani street art

Colombia has incredible street art. Within Cartagena, the best place to see this is within the Getsemani neighborhood. Walk around the winding streets and discover gorgeous murals everywhere.

Where to shop

St. Dom

This concept shop is one of our favorites. With over 100 Colombian and international designers, St. Dom has something for everyone. If you forgot sunglasses but don’t want to buy the cheap options on the street – St. Dom has you covered. If you need a gorgeous dress that is sure to impress for New Years – St. Dom is your place. You can’t go wrong at this multi-faceted fashion mainstay. 

Silvia Tcherassi

With stores in Miami, Madrid, and Cartagena, Silvia Tcherassi is a household name. Making the “Latin flair” look exponential more popular, Silvia is also a hotel owner and overall Colombian chic-queen. If you need a dress for a wedding, party, or really anything at all, check out her store.

El Arcón

If home furnishings are what you’re after, come to El Arcón to find adorable antiques. It’s also one of the only places we found you could buy the famed door knockers you see throughout the city. 

Where to work

Selina Hostel

Though we wouldn’t recommend staying here, Selena Hostel is a popular place for young people working remotely. That being the case, they are set up with great facilities (and fast wifi). They have decent food and you will inevitably meet someone who knows someone who knows someone you used to work with.

Folklore Colombian Café

A large space with great wifi and lots of outlets. You wouldn’t think that these 3 qualities are super hard to find in a place like Cartagena, but you would be wrong. This cafe is a diamond in the rough, and a true gift when we need to power through some work.

Abacus Books & Coffee

Part bookstore, part coffee shop – Abacus is absolutely adorable. The wifi isn’t super reliable, but that doesn’t really matter when you are surrounded by tall shelves housing hundreds of books. We aren’t going to lie – it’s also one of our favorite places to take an IG photo. Come here for good coffee and solitude when you need to focus (but make it cute). 

 

Cusco

Machu Picchu has put Peru on the tourist map for quite some time. In fact, it has made Peru one of the most popular destination in all of South America. We aren’t trying to hate on Machu Picchu, and are truly shocked that the Incas created that masterpiece, but we think there is much to see before you even get to the famous ruins.

Cusco was the Incan capital and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the 80s. Though we love the cultural significance of the city, there is so much more to Cusco than the ruins. The food is top notch, and we love exploring the cobblestone streets and colonial style houses in search of art and textiles. The city is home to great markets, and as the entrance to the Sacred Valley, it’s a perfect home base for exploring the rest of the region.

The city sees a fair amount of tourism, and that is apparent when you’re visiting. Around the Plaza de Armas, there are a lot of shop owners that come out to encourage business. The smaller streets in the main area get crowded, and the major attractions will get busy. Some of the indigenous culture has been intensely commodified, so we encourage visitors to shop and explore responsibly (especially when it comes to dipping into the “medicine” experiences).

That being said, we completely understand why Cusco is so popular, and we honestly wish we could have made this guide way longer. Out of respect for you, and your scrolling thumb, we decided to pick out a few of our favorite places – but keep in mind there is so much to see in this great town and beyond its limits. The Sacred Valley is truly a magical place, and this is just your first stop.

Where to stay

Nao Victoria

If you’re looking for a less expensive, hostel option – Nao Victoria is your best bet. This design conscious hideaway is perfect if you aren’t in college or into taking shots at 4am, but you are on a bit of a budget and wanting to meet new people. Basically, a good hostel for those of us who don’t happen to be 21 and backpacking. The shared rooms come with comfortable, lofted beds, nice sheets, and privacy curtains. If sharing isn’t your thing, Nao Victoria also has standard private rooms and a superior private room. The cafe on the second floor serves food all day, and is a great place to get some work done.

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

This is the idyllic luxury hotel you dream about staying in when you come to Peru. Probably Cusco’s most high end option, The Monasterio is housed in a 17th century Baroque seminary. Though the outside structure has been perfectly maintained, the interiors are up to the Belmond standard (which, if you haven’t stayed at a Belmond, is…high). The courtyard is the perfect setting for morning coffee or an afternoon glass of wine, or really anything you could possibly think of enjoying.

El Balcón

Our favorite hotel in Cusco, El Balcón, is one of two hotels created by Wendy Weeks. We love the intimate vibe, the minimal but perfectly tasteful design elements, and the fact that it’s housed in a pre-colonial house from the 1600s. The gardens that lead to the rooms are perfect and you can choose between balcony level and ground level quarters. The wood balcony  (as the name suggests) has stunning views and the dining area offers complimentary coca tea. Don’t skip on the breakfast either – it’s exactly what you need to start the day.

Where to eat

Organika

If you get to Cusco after traveling throughout other cities in Peru, you might be in need of some lettuce. This is where you will procure those much needed greens, and they will be presented to you in a truly gorgeous fashion. Edible flowers, big salads, Organika has it all. Tucked away on a side street, the restaurant is small but the food is healthy. Most ingredients come from their farm in nearby Urubamba.

Chicha

We don’t like Chicha’s Cusco location quite as much as their Arequipa restaurant, but we still love the food. Come here for high quality Peruvian cuisine. They stick to the traditional flavors and use the highest grade ingredients from local farms. Their desserts are equally as good as the mains, so save some room.

Pachapapa

Pachapapa restaurant is right off of the San Blas plaza. Though it’s a bit touristy, the courtyard is adorable – complete with wooden banquettes and heaters (which is a huge win during the evenings in Cusco). Get the Alpaca skewers or the trout.

Qura

If you need a healthy breakfast, we love this little San Blas cafe. There are only 3 tables, so don’t count on coming here with a large group, but if you are on the go and need an acaí bowl or some avocado toast – this is your spot. They make bread in-house and have treats to go.

Green Point

We love this vegan restaurant, and we aren’t even vegan. Down an alley you’ll find the sign to this quaint restaurant. There are two floors, and more seating than you would imagine. You can honestly order anything on the menu and be in good shape. We love their tea selection for when you want to take a break from the pisco sours.

Where to grab coffee

L’atelier Cafe Concept

This is that boutique/coffee shop set-up that many of us are familiar with. Owned by a French woman, L’atelier has adorable goods downstairs, and good coffee and pastries upstairs. Grab a cup and sit at the window seats overlooking the street. It doesn’t really get more adorable than that.

Monkey Coffee

Hidden away is this gem of a coffee shop. They have homemade baked goods (we had their delicious carrot cake with edible flowers) and can do specialty drinks like lattes. It isn’t big, but make yourself cozy in one of their benches. Not a bad place to do some journal time and step away from the crowds.

Cocoliso

Similar to L’atelier, Cocoliso is a clothing store that also has a coffee station in it. There are little tables outside so you can break with an espresso if you feel like you need to get off your feet. It’s fairly close to the Plaza de Armas, but you aren’t stuck with too much foot traffic which is a huge plus.

The Meeting Place

This is a no frills coffee shop that gives back to the local community. It’s run by volunteers, and has an inviting atmosphere for whoever walks in the door. We love that. They also have super reliable WiFi and lunch options if you need! 

Where to shop

L’atelier Cafe Concept

Not to sound redundant, but this place deserves a second mention. As good as the coffee is, the jewelry, accessories, and home goods are even better. Come here for that pair of earrings you are telling yourself you’ll give to your roommate, but will actually end up keeping. 

A La Lau!

This is a cute shop in San Blas that carries leather purses, ponchos, handmade ceramics, and more. Everything you see is made by local artisans, and the store itself is owned by a Cusceña – so you know you’re supporting good work!

Cocoliso

Even though we love grabbing coffee at this cute shop, it’s primarily a clothing store. It has adorable baby clothes and beautiful sweaters. We also might have picked up a leather pouch – but really anything you buy at this store is high quality and you won’t regret it. 

Iya Mayta

A bit more upscale, Iya Mayta sells beautiful sweaters and gorgeous jewelry. There is quite a bit of fringe, so you could kind of dub more than a few items “high fashion” Coachella wear. But don’t worry, it’s all made by Peruvian artisans so it’s actually authentic. Plus, a portion of your profits go towards a local non-profit. 

Xapiri

Xapiri is a gallery space that showcases and sells photography, art, and other craft goods that support the indigenous cultures of the Amazon. They have various events that are open to the public which we definitely encourage you to go to.  

Centro Artesanal

Located on the corner of Avenida del Sol and Tullumayo, this market is where you get your classic kitschy souvenirs. Think ponchos, bags, pillow cases, and beyond. Most aren’t made by hand, so just know that going in.

Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco

Located in the museum under the same name, this place aims to preserve the traditional Peruvian textile techniques. They support local communities and weaving communities. Today, the organization works with nine different communities. You can buy high quality textiles after going through the museum. 

What to do

San Pedro Market

You can’t come to Cusco without visiting the San Pedro market. This is a large scale, classic mercado with everything you can imagine. They have food stalls, where you should absolutely try Caldo de Gallino, and isles of fresh vegetables, grains, herbs, and fruits which you can have made into fresh juice. Make sure to pick up maca powder and chia seeds for your trip home. 

Temple de La Luna

This is one of the lesser known ruins to visit in the Cusco area. It’s a good hike to the ruins, and the walk takes you through a beautiful meadow and along a trail. There is a bit of mystery revolving around the origin of the ruins, which makes them even more magical.

Planetarium Cusco

The Incas designed much of their lives based on the stars. Agriculture, city planning, and spiritual practices were made with the stars in mind. At the planetarium, you can take a peak into what they saw in the sky – which looks quite different if you’re used to looking up in the Northern Hemisphere. The planetarium is a family owned operation and the staff is super friendly. They pick you up in town, and take you to the observatory up by Sacsayhuamán.

Písac

If you want a day trip into the Sacred Valley, check out the town of Písac. Known for one of the best markets in the entire valley (and we are here to say – after many, many purchases – we agree with that statement), Písac has beautiful hikes, great spas, and some of the most intact ruins in Peru. 

Where to get your hit of culture

Sacsayhuamán Ruins

A citadel on the outskirts of Cusco, Sacsayhuamán is a great option for getting your fix of Incan ruins without the car rides. Some sections date back to early 1000s, and you can spend a few hours exploring each area. Get ready for some spectacular views of Cusco.

MAP Museum

This museum showcases Pre-Columbian artwork from cultures drawn from all regions of Peru. Many works have been loaned by the Larco Museum in Lima, which date to 1250 BC. Yeah – some pretty old stuff.

Museo Casa Concha

Just a little south of Plaza de Armas is Museo Casa Concha. Once a colonial mansion, the house is now a museum where you can see archeological finds from Machu Picchu. The exhibitions are diverse, and include an “Ongoing Research Room” where you can see how modern science has led us to discover more about the lifestyle of the Incan people.

Cooking class (TASTE Peruvian cooking studio, Marcelo Batata Cooking Experience)

Peruvian cuisine has been increasingly popular all over the world, and with good reason. While you’re in the mecca of Peruvian flavor, take a cooking class to make sure you can bring home one of the best things about this country – the food. 

Where to work

The dining room at El Balcon

The light-filled cafe area of El Balcon is the perfect place to get work done. We know, because it’s where we plugged in for a week or so during our stay. The space is warm and quiet, and they offer free teas. If you get hungry, they have great food and the staff is super sweet.

Cafe at Nao Victoria

Not to tap into our “To Stay” section too much, but it turns out the communal spaces in the hotels we choose are just really great. The cafe on the second floor has great music, good coffee (or a beer if it’s a bit later in the day…), and outlets. 

La Valeriana

This spacious cafe is in the center of town and super comfortable. There are outlets galore and good sweets to keep the sugar rush going. 

Where to drink

Los Perros

This is is a great bar option owned by an Australian-Peruvian couple. There are couches in the back room so you can cozy up for hours. The drink options are solid, and the food menu is good too. We recommend the yucca to soak up some of the alcohol. Also, on Sundays they have live jazz.

Barranco Beer Company

BBC is a Lima based brewery, and this is their Cusco outpost. The space is slightly small, but this is some of the best beer in all of Peru. 

Limbus Restobar

This place is a bit touristy, but if you are able to snag a spot on their balcony it’s absolutely worth it. Order a glass of wine or a cocktail and take in the view of the entire city. 

Belmond Hotel Bar

Yes, this is a hotel bar, but we love hotel bars – and this is an exceptionally good one. Order a pisco sour and make yourself comfortable in front of the fire. The large wood bar and the friendly bartenders make this somewhere you could hang for hours on a chilly night.

 

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