8 photos that will inspire you to visit Zion National Park

I am slightly ashamed to admit it, but Zion wasn’t very high on my list. I knew I needed to visit Bryce Canyon, and since we were close I figured we could also check out Zion. The moment we entered the park, I realized I had made a big mistake. This place should of been a MUST see.

What I found very interesting is that Zion is actually Utah’s first national park.

 

Before we even did a hike we took their sightseeing bus tour. It was amazing learning about the history of this place, and how the Virgin River flowing beside us was small yet powerful. In fact, it is because of this River the amazing rock formations were created.

When we made it to the end of the bus tour, we got off at the last stop to do the Riverside Walk. This was a very easy walk along the beautiful river and eventually at the end of the walkway you could actually continue the hike through the water.

Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time in Zion, just enough for one hike and so we decided to do the Observation Point trail.  It is an 8 mile roundtrip with 2,000 feet. Lots of switchbacks through sandstone and along the way you get beautiful panoramic views.

And at the top a beautiful view of the famous Angel’s Landing (my next Utah hike). It really does take your breath away looking out at the endless red rocks. I really loved this hike because it didn’t take too long but with the high elevation you definitely get a great workout

I must say I had the most amazing experience in Utah and a weekend is not enough but if that is all you have I highly suggest doing your research to find the right hikes for you, get out early to beat the crowds ( or go during the off season like we did) and just have fun!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

15 Photos that will inspire you to hike Bryce Canyon

When I found out that one of my husband’s recent work trips was going to take him to Salt Lake City, Utah I was ecstatic. I have always dreamed of hiking more of the U.S. National Parks as they are all so unique and stunning, and Bryce Canyon had long been on number one on my to do list. 

Bryce Canyon was one place I have always wanted to go because of the stunning hoodoos. Here you will find the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world. 

Since we were going to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we flew into that airport and rented a care ( we could only add a weekend onto the trip) and while two days was definitely not enough (since we decided to explore both Bryce Canyon and Zion) it at least allowed us an opportunity to capture the beauty. 

From Salt Lake, you will have to rent a car and it is about a six hour drive. Once you get out of the city it is quite a beautiful drive with plenty of mountain views along the way. 

Since we had such a short time at Bryce Canyon, we did a ton of research to figure out which hike would provide us the most view points (especially of the hoodoos).

We ended up deciding on the Queens Garden to Nevajo Loop Trail because you got to experience two different viewpoints in the 5km loop. On this hike you really got a little bit of everything, impressive views of the unbelievable hoodoos ( they literally took my breathe away when I saw them) to the stunning rock formations, to some of the greenery. One of my favourite pictures was of Thor’s Hamer below. 

I was astounded at the breathtaking views. It honestly felt like we were on a different planet. The contrast of the colours made the rocks look surreal, the rare green plants nestled between the deep ready made the whole park pop with colour. 

The day that we went, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the blue also made the red rocks even more vibrant and bright. 

I loved sneaking through the little tunnels formed by the rocks 

I must warn you though, there were a few steep areas to the hike. We did the hike in November and it was the perfect temperature, but I can imagine the valley would get quite hot in the summer making the steeper parts of the hike quite difficult so I would highly suggest a spring or fall hike. 

 

Fun Fact: Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. If you are not into hiking you can still take in the beautiful views from the four main viewpoints, which are all in the first few miles of the park. 

Fun Fact: The rocks are formed by erosion and the hoodoos are formed by frost wedging 

Every year the park gets over 2.7 million visitors and so I would suggest trying to visit in the off season like we  did. It was so peaceful to be surrounded by the beauty of nature and just the two of us to take it all in. 

Aside from hiking, Bryce Canyon also offers rock climbing and in the winter cross country skiing ( and there is something so magical about the pictures I have seen with the snow capped rocks) 

And at last, picture #15, I just had to add another of the beautiful wide shot of the hoodoos down below 

Bryce Canyon exceeded my expectations and I hope I get a chance to go back and explore even more of the park. Have you experienced Bryce? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also as I mentioned we also explored Zion National Park, and so I will be putting together a photo journal on that one soon as well!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Why New Orleans should be your next girls trip

I was pretty fortunate that I had the opportunity to go to university in Louisiana. I fell in love with the culture of the State, everything from the delicious spicy cajun food to the magical sounds of the jazz instruments in a second line. It truly stole my heart and so when I was thinking about places to go for my bachelorette party, I knew I wanted to share my love of New Orleans with my best girlfriends. The trip exceeded my expectations and was more special than any visit before because I had the chance to do it with my closest friends. Thinking about planning a trip to New Orleans with your gal pals or partner? Well  here are some of the must do’s around town.

Where to stay

It will be hard to find an airbnb in New Orleans because the city has strict bans on short term rentals. Having said that there are some amazing boutique hotels no matter what your price range near the French Quarter, Frenchman St. and  Bourbon St.

Hotel Peter and Paul ($): This hotel really captures the feel and atmosphere of the city. It was once a 19th century catholic church and now the deco is bright and welcoming. There are also plenty of local antiques from some of the oldest estates in town, which adds a special touch.  Don’t miss out on the adorable  downstairs bar, the perfect spot to grab a drink before hitting the nearby Frenchman St.

Ace Hotel New Orleans ($$): What I love about Ace Hotels is that each one of the hotels is unique to the town they are in, and this is no different for New Orleans. This is definitely a great spot for a group trip because of the stunning rooftop pool and live music at their 3 Keys venue on weekends.

Soniat House ($$): This is not your typical hotel, in fact from the outside it is hard to tell it is even a hotel but I love this spot because it really depicts what New Orleans is. From the adorable green shutters that scream French Quarter to the wood canopy beds, this place will make you feel like you stepped back in time in the best way possible.

What to do

 

Ok, when you think of New Orleans, you probably think of Mardi Gras. Yes Mardi Gras is energetic, extravagant, and down right fun. From the decorative floats, to the colourful beads ( and no you do not have to work for them) it transforms but can also be a little hectic especially for a large group. Don’t fret though, if you cannot make it out for Fat Tuesday, there is still so much to see and do any other time of the year.

Enjoy the music on every corner

Love jazz music? This is the spot for you! Not a jazz fan? You will be after a trip to New Orleans. The music is so reach and beautiful you won’t go a minute without tapping your feet and grooving to the sounds. There are so many different places and ways to enjoy the sounds of New Orleans and these are some of my favourites

Music Box Village: This is straight out of a movie, a wooden fortress located in the heart of Bywater. Here you will find small “houses” built from wood and plastic and each house has its own musical style by using different instruments. Walk around with your girls and make sure to dance and make plenty of noise when the bands come by.

Preservation Hall: It is right there in its name, preservation. This historic jazz spot’s goal is to preserve the music and traditions of New Orleans. You won’t find any booze and you can’t make a reservation but it is well worth it because you and your friends will dance the night away.

Pat O’Brien’s Duelling Piano Bar: This has been my favourite spot since I used to go to university so I was pretty excited to say the least to take the girls there. Long harvest tables with two pianos at the front of the bar. You can write on napkins songs that you want the pianists to play, and trust me, they can bring any of your favourite tunes to life. Also make sure to order a hurricane while you are there, Pat O’s is famous for them.

Take a walk down Frenchmen Street: Ok, it is a girls trip so I am sure you are going to want to hit the town. Well make your way down Frenchman St. and just listen to the live music coming from each and every bar. We walked into three different ones and kept dancing the night away.

Eat some traditional Cajun food

I put on probably 10 pounds in my first yer of university because of the delicious poboys, fried crawfish, and gumbo. You won’t find any chains here and trust me you don’t want to. Eating the local food will be a highlight of your trip with the girls.

Cafe Du Monde: No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop to Cafe Du Monde. Located right in the heart of the French Quarter. Grab a famous beignet (yes you will get powdered sugar on yourself and it will be well worth it) and eat it while taking a stroll around St. Louis Cathedral.

Killer PoBoys: poyboys are the ultimate sandwich stuffed with meat or seafood ( I personally love the shrimp one) and while you can pretty much get delicious poboys all around New Orleans, you cannot top this spot. Killer PoBoys takes the poboy but adds high quality ingredients like caramelized onions and creole mustard.

Cafe Amelie: This could of been my favourite meal of the trip. I loved the outdoor garden patio and fountain. It was romantic but also the perfect spot for a girls night out. I loved the signature cocktails and the fresh seafood.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant: If you want to experience New Orleans cuisine you need to make a stop here. It really celebrates the creole traditional food with everything from red beans and rice and you need to try the famous fried chicken.

Take in the sights 

While eating and dancing will probably take up most of your time there is still so much else to see and do in New Orleans with your girlfriends. Here are a few more of my favourite activities

Walk down Bourbon with a grenade in hand: Hand Grenades are famous in New Orleans. It is basically a rum slushy and it is delicious. You need to try one if you go to New Orleans, and the best thing is you can take it to go and explore Bourbon St.

Take in the art and architecture of the French Quarter: The French Quarter is such a quaint area of town and perfect for a relaxing day of sightseeing. St. Louis Cathedral is a must see but then make your way down some of the side streets and pop into some shops. There you will find some gorgeous art from the locals. A great place to pick up some souvenirs.

Talk to the spirits: New Orleans is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the world, making it the perfect place for a group ghost tour, if you are into that kind of stuff (which I sure am). There are some cemetery tours available  like the French Quarter Phantoms and you can also learn more about the voodoo traditions of Louisiana with a stop at Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo (think American Horror Story).

Shop until you drop at the night market: Palace Market Frenchman is one of the coolest spots in all of New Orleans. It is a night market that has a rotating display of 80 different local artists. You never know what hidden gems you will find.

Those are some of my top picks and spots for a fun girls trip to New Orleans. I would love to hear if you have some other favourites because I know I will be back to this magical city soon.

Happy travelling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

Your full itinerary to the Yukon

A lot of people have asked me, “how was your trip to the Yukon?” I find that question extremely hard to answer because it is almost impossible to put into words how my trip to the Yukon was. “Magical”, “breathtaking”, “supernatural”. Those were a few of the words I could use to try and describe it.

The next question is always, “what was your favourite part?” That question is equally as hard to answer. From the dancing colours of the northern lights to learning all about the First Nations culture, every day, hour, minute, and moment was spectacular.

One thing I can tell you for sure though is that the Yukon stole my heart and in my opinion it should be the number one spot on your bucket list because, as mentioned, it is truly magical. Thinking about planning a trip of your own? Well I wanted to share some of the top things to see, do, and experience to make sure the trip is one you won’t be able to put into words either.

 

Where to stay

Northern Lights Resort and Spa

This is a stunning family run resort just outside of Whitehorse. The resort has four alpine chalets and three aurora glass chalets and we were able to experience both of the accommodations.

The alpine chalets were adorable and a perfect spot for couples to cozy up to one another. They are basically log cabins in the wilderness with a large living room and a fireplace to relax beside while trying to spot the northern lights right outside your north facing window.  What I loved is that the chalets were built from Yukon grown timber and really create a romantic and quaint atmosphere.

The aurora glass chalets had a completely different feel to them. A more modern design with the north facing side of the room offering floor to ceiling glass. This proves the perfect setup to hopefully catch the beautiful  lights dancing across the sky. Even though we didn’t see them this night, we did fall asleep the the view of a million stars shining bright.

 

Mt. Logan Lodge

This is the ultimate family run lodge right on the edge of Kluane National Park in Haines Junction. In fact you can see the incredible mountains right outside your door. I love how creative this family is. On site they have a yurt, and even a bus that used to be a guest room. I also love that you wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and homemade breakfast. In fact, The family cooks all your meals for you.

The other part I loved about this lodge is how passionate the owners are about the area. David and Roxanne are both from big cities, but the moment they stepped foot in Haines Junction, they knew this was where they wanted to be. They wanted to share their love of the spot with their guests.

In the past, the park hasn’t been visited much in the winter so they decided to make it a year round destination by offering guests snowmobiling, ice fishing, and even ice climbing to name a few activities.

What to do

There is honestly so much to see, do, and explore in the Yukon and while I just scratched the surface (and will definitely have to go back sometime soon to discover more) here were a few of my must does:

 

A northern lights adventure

This one is pretty obvious, as I am sure many people travel to the Yukon just to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. Believe me seeing the lights is worth the trip alone.  I joined Arctic Range Adventure for this bucket list activity. They drive you about 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse to complete darkness. The moment we arrived you could already see the hint of green colouring the night sky. We were able to stay in yurts to keep warm, but I will never forget the rush of emotions when our guide told us to get outside with our cameras. Greens, yellows, and pinks dancing across the sky. It was so beautiful it brought me to tears.

If the northern lights is on your to do list try and book a trip between October and May when the skies are dark enough to see the activity. Also make sure to give yourself time. We were there a whole week and we only saw the lights one night.

A flight over Kluane National Park

The only thing I really knew about Kluane before the trip is that it is home to Mt. Logan, the highest peak in Canada. What I didn’t know is it is actually home to 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks. We joined Rocking Star to take a flight above the stunning park. It is also home to beautiful glaciers, rivers, and in the summer time numerous grizzles. Seeing it from the sky with Rocking Star Adventures was breathtaking.

Dogsledding like the pros

The reason that I went to the Yukon in the first place was to experience the Yukon Quest, the world’s toughest dog mushing race from Yukon to Alaska, and so it was natural to give mushing a try for myself. Dog sledding has long been a way of life in the Yukon. I joined the team at Muktuk Adventures to test my skills. The dogs were absolutely beautiful and so sweet. We traveled along the Takhini River, the same route as the pros and took in the stunning wilderness.

A history lesson in Carcross

I had a chance to take a day trip to this small town with Who What Where Tours. Carcross has  a population of only about 300 people and is home to world’s smallest desert.  It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and forrest.

We had a chance to visit the Carcross Learning Centre and see some of the amazing  First Nations art and even sit down for a traditional meal. After lunch the cultural learning continued.  We had a chance to meet with Keith Wolfe Smarche, the towns head cover. He showed us his carving shed and some of his amazing work in town. What I loved about meeting Keith was his story. He got into carving because he realized the town had lost all of its vibrant colours during the gold rush and wanted to bring it back for future generations. Hearing his story and seeing his vibrant art was an unforgettable experience.

A visit to Long Ago Peoples Place

One of the things that makes the Yukon so unique is the culture. There are actually 14 different First Nations  and so it was very important for me to really learn about the traditions and heritage. Long Ago People’s Place is located in Champagne and brings you back through time using recreations of traditional Southern Tutchone structures and tools. We had a chance to see how trap lines work and learn about other tools used for different First Nations activities.

Learning about traditions at Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp

Have you ever wondered just how the First Nations people live off of the land in the dead of winter when it is -40c outside? Well we had a chance to find out from James Allen, former chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. He taught us how to ice fish, gave us a tour of his family’s traplines, and invited us to his beautiful camp for a traditional lunch. It was the perfect  mix of education and fun and trust me you cannot beat the views along the way.

Learn to make cocktails from the pros

One of my favourite stops of the whole trip was to Well Bread Culinary Centre. Here, we met with Chef Cat and Jennifer Tyldesley from Free Pour Jenny.  We learnt how to make some delicious appetizers and cocktails using local ingredients and home made bitters. We even got a care package to be able to make some of the amazing drinks back in the comfort of our home. The best part is, it is hard to mess up a cocktail especially with these unique bitters so it is a good time guaranteed.

Taste some of the local craft beers 

We had the chance to visit not one but two unique breweries in the Yukon. First was Yukon Brewing where the motto is “beer worth freezing for” and they aren’t joking. The seasonal craft beers truly represent Whitehorse and the history here. Each beer has its own spunky taste.

The next stop was Winterlong Brewery. This brewery only opened about 5 years ago.Marko and Meghan Marjanovic had been homebrewing for 10 years, and finally decided to take the risk and start a brewery. The beers are bold in flavour and really stand out in the crowd of craft beers.

Where to eat

Wayfarer Oyster House

I loved this spot from the moment we walked in the door. The deco was so unique including an oyster chandelier, where if you guess how many oyster make up the piece you win a free shot. They also had some vinyl spinning.  Aside from decorations, the food was amazing. The menu was filled local seafood and sourced meats as well as homemade pasta and smoked fish. It was hard to chose just one plate.

Giorgio’s Cuccina

This is the perfect date night spot. Dim lit with an extensive wine list and authentic Italian food. Start with the baked goat cheese and then fill up on one of their amazing pizzas or pasta plates.

Big Bear Donair

Looking for something quick and delicious? This is the new go to spot and for good reason. The food is creative and tasty. The restaurant prides itself on collecting as much as possible from local business and retailers. And where else can you try a shawarma poutine?

Baked Cafe

I need coffee first thing in the morning to start my day and this was the absolute perfect little coffee shop. I loved how light and cozy this spot is and on all of the walls are little treasures from local jewellery and artists. The coffee and food is also amazing.

As I mentioned I just had a chance to scratch the surface of the beautiful Yukon. There is so much more to do and see in this amazing place and I cannot wait to return to the north and explore even more. I hope you will be able to experience the magic of the Yukon for yourself, because I wasn’t joking when I said I honestly cannot even put into words the beauty of this place.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Photos that will make you want to visit the Yukon

The main reason I wanted to visit the Yukon was for a chance to see the Northern Lights. I have always dreamed of seeing this natural wonder. I truly cried when I saw the lights dancing in front of me. The pictures don’t do it justice but it was beyond magical.

My first glimpse of Kluane National Park came at my dad’s house. He is a professional photographer and has the most magnificent photo above his fireplace. Every time I see it I say I want to go there. Well I went there on an small 4 seater airplane. Seeing Mt. Logan and eight other tallest mountains in Canada from the sky was incredible.

 

What you might not know is the Yukon is home to 14 different First Nations groups. I was lucky enough to visit two of them. When I went to visit the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation I had the chance to meet with one of their former chiefs, James Allen, who taught us all about living off of the land in the dead of winter. We did everything from ice fishing to setting trap lines.

One of my favourite parts of the Yukon was heading up to the small town of Carcoss and learning about the First Nations culture. We had the chance to try an authentic meal and learn from Keith Wolfe Smarch, the towns carver. His designs were beautiful and really added colour and beauty to the town.

 

The main reason that I was in the Yukon was for the Yukon Quest. It is a dog mushing race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is considered to be the toughest race of its kind. Mushing is a big part of the history in the Yukon and I had the chase to give it a try and meet some amazing dogs.

Sure, Whitehorse was freezing. In fact, one day it got to around -4o, but there was something beautiful about experiencing this magical place in the winter, even when everything freezes in minutes.

The Yukon was one of the most magical places I have ever been. I had a chance to cross off so many bucket list experiences. From seeing the Northern Lights to flying over Kluane to witnessing the Yukon Quest and to making life long friends.

I cannot wait to return to the Yukon because it truly stole my heart, and I promise it will steal yours too.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo,

Mia