To Each Their Road // Visit South Dakota

I could not think of a better way to kick off my summer than with a road trip around one of my favorite places in all of the states; South Dakota! This was my second time being able to visit this beautiful state. I always say it’s such a hidden gem because it truly is. I was really excited about this trip though because I got to see a lot more of what South Dakota has to offer. We stopped at so many fun roadside attractions and made so many fun memories. Even though our trips had a lot of setbacks (like horrible weather and SNOW IN MAY) I’m excited to share some of my memories and favorite spots with you here on this blog.

Our first day, we got to explore around Sioux Falls. My favorite little stop here was coffee and food at Josiah’s Coffee House. They truly had the best homemade pop-tarts and I couldn’t get over how cute it was!

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south dakota

We spent a lot of time exploring downtown, which was so quaint and cute! Some of my other favorites were Phillips Avenue Diner, Vinyl Taco, Carpenter Bar, and Flyboy Donuts. We also visited Falls Park which makes Sioux Falls what it is. It was a beautiful park with a lot of history if that is something that you are into. I loved it.

We then headed to Palisades State Park for some nice trail hiking and sightseeing. It was a little bit rainy but that didn’t stop us! I loved Palisades because it was extremely peaceful.

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Views from our trail at Palisades State Park.

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From Palisades State Park we headed off with the windows down and the breeze in our hair and stopped at one of my favorite roadside attractions from the trip: The World’s Only Corn Palace. Yeah…I know what you are thinking. We had no idea what we were getting into but if you are driving through South Dakota you just have to stop and see for yourself!

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We then headed to Chamberlain where we stayed the night on the lake. It was beautiful! On the way out in the morning we stopped at the famous Al’s Oasis for a hearty breakfast. Some other fun roadside stops were Dignity: of Earth & Sky and the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center.

We then headed to Interior aka Badlands National Park! My favorite! I can not get over the bed and breakfast we stayed at. I have nothing but kind words to say about Circle View Guest Ranch. The family was absolutely precious and took such good care of us!

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south dakota
south dakota

I love Badlands National Park. This was my second time exploring and I did a new hike called Notch Trail that I absolutely loved! It had a beautiful wooden staircase as well that was so fun to photograph and climb on.

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south dakota
south dakota
south dakota

When visiting Badlands you absolutely MUST stop at Cedar Pass Restaurant and try an Indian Taco. They are out of this world amazing! Probably my favorite meal this whole trip.

Our last stop on the trip was headed towards Hill City. We stayed at the cutest cabins before the big snow storm rolled through.

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south dakota

SNOW IN MAY! It wasn’t even a baby storm either, it was so much! Sadly, our super awesome trip to Custer State Park to go scout Bison sadly got canceled due to the snow. We ended up heading back to Rapid City where we spent the last couple days making our own adventures. Some of our favorites were the Dinosaur Park and our favorite local coffee shops Harriet & Oak and Pure Bean Coffeehouse.

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south dakota

The weather was such a bummer, but we didn’t let it ruin our spirits. Overall, we had such a fun road trip getting to know South Dakota more and exploring all the roadside attractions on our drive all over the state. I was so thankful for this trip. Thank you so much South Dakota for sponsoring and sending me to explore!

Visit California // Amgen Bike Tour

I recently had the absolute pleasure to work with Visit California to bike + hike + adventure around a few cities that the Amgen Bike Tour passes through!

The Amgen Bike Tour is an eight day bike race that covers just about 700 miles through the state of California.

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I personally spent time in Ontario, Santa Clarita, and Pasadena during my trip and I would love to share some of my highlights and favorite parts about the trip!

Ontario

Ontario
Ontario

I spent a lot of time biking in Ontario. Some of my favorite spots to bike around were Mt. Baldy (which the Amgen Bike Tour goes directly though) and Bonelli Regional Park. Competitive Edge Cyclery was an awesome spot to get a bike rental from. Would recommend them for sure!

I also got to meet up with my new friend Matt Segal to bike and explore around and we took a little drive to Chino Hills State Park to try and see a little bit of the super bloom! We got to see a tiny bit of them but they were beautiful.

Chino Hills
Chino Hills
Chino Hills
We also found a really awesome coffee shop, Canabru.

We also found a really awesome coffee shop, Canabru.

Santa Clarita

Wolf Creek

From Ontario I drove to Santa Clarita where I stopped to get breakfast at Wolf Creek before biking and it was so good and they were such kind humans! From brunch I headed to to hike Towsley Canyon.

Towsley Canyon
Santa Clarita

I didn’t get many photos biking in Santa Clarita, BUT, I really do want to highlight some of the amazing biking routes & trails they offer. Iron Horse Trailhead and Promenade Trailhead are two of the best.

Downtown SC

Pasadena

Pasadena

Started off my time in Pasadena with a really good lunch at La Grande Orange Café! Downtown Pasadena was so cute with so much to walk around and explore. After lunch I headed to Eaton Canyon to hike! I stole my friends dog for the day and we had a blast.

Eaton Canyon
Pasadena
Eaton Canyon

Some other really awesome places to hike, bike, and explore at are Hermit Falls Trail, Mount Wilson, Angeles National Forest, and Arroyo Seco. I also had another really good meal at Café Santorini.

Overall I had such a fun trip seeing some awesome spots the Amgen Bike Tour stops at in California. This trip was sponsored by Visit California and I am so thankful for it.

53rd Annual Buffalo Roundup in South Dakota

I am seriously beyond excited to share my experience attending the 53rd Annual Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Buffalo Roundup

I wanted to share a little bit about what the heck a buffalo round up is (I asked the same question about 10 times) and wanted to fill you in on what it actually is and the purpose behind it.

The Buffalo Roundup is part of Custer State Park's plan to maintain a healthy balance between the number of bison and the land available for the animals to live, eat, and mate on. The park can only sustain a certain number of bison, based on the condition of the grassland and how much food is available. The Buffalo Roundup also allows for some of the animals to be sorted out of the herd, they are then sold at an auction. They also check the health of the heard, making sure they have the proper vaccinations and check upon the pregnant bison to make sure they are doing a-okay. If you want to read more on the roundup you can check out some information here.

A photo of us listening to the cowboys talk about the bison as we were waiting for the bison to cooperate to the herding.

A photo of us listening to the cowboys talk about the bison as we were waiting for the bison to cooperate to the herding.

They use a group of 20 cowboys, that are picked from a lottery, to actually handle the bison and herd them into two different areas. Before the roundup started, I had the pleasure of meeting the oldest and longest riding cowboy, Bob Lantis. He is 85 and he has been riding in the roundup for 43 years! He was the sweetest.

Roundup
Roundup

After that, we all loaded up in the back of truck beds. I didn’t realize at the time, but this was a once in a lifetime experience. There are about 5 cars out in the actual roundup area, the other thousands of spectators watches from the top of the hills. I felt so lucky. So we set off to go find the bison. The bison were being stubborn at first and the cowboys had a hard time getting them to the proper area to start the roundup. So we waited an hour for them to cooperate.

Once we got the word and the cowboys sped off, we knew it was show time. I honestly had NO idea what to expect. But once we turned the corner and I saw over the mountain that had been blocking the view of the bison, I instantly cried. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. First words out of my mouth were “I AM GOING TO TELL MY CHILDREN ABOUT THIS ONE DAY!!!!” I was so excited. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. My pictures don’t do justice but I hope they can shed some light on how beautiful the experience was.

Roundup
Roundup
Roundup
Roundup
Roundup
Roundup

Couldn’t be more thankful for this trip that was sponsored by South Dakota Tourism. Please please PLEASE if you have a chance or are planning your next adventure, look into South Dakota. I was surprised in the best way and couldn’t have asked for a better trip or experience.

South Dakota

Y’ALL! I had the absolute joy to recently travel to South Dakota and work with South Dakota Tourism. Before I left, if you would have asked me about South Dakota, I wouldn’t really have known what to say. I think it’s an overlooked state (which makes me so sad). After my trip, it is seriously my new favorite place. I instantly fell in love with it. I was so beyond surprised. I couldn’t get over how perfect it was. It was like all of my favorite things packed up in one place: rolling hills, cowboys, wild animals, National Parks, mountains, hikes, waterfalls, and such good people and amazing food. If you are a wanna be cowboy like me- you will seriously love this trip!

South Dakota
Lake
Bison

I visited some really incredible places during my stay in South Dakota. As soon as I landed, I immediately headed on my first little adventure to go see Mt. Rushmore. It was so cool seeing something I grew up seeing in history books. Took some selfies with Abe and his pals and headed into Hilly City where I was staying for the week to get some food. Check out Alpine Inn or Desperados if you are looking for good spots to eat!

Mt Rushmore
Mt. Rushmore

During my trip, I had the absolute pleasure to take a guided tour through the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. I am a huge animal lover, and any place that protects animals is dear to my heart. I had the sweetest tour guide drive us all over the hills teaching us so much about the horses, the land, and Native American culture. The horses were beautiful. I loved learning about all the culture and history that makes South Dakota the state it is.

Black Hills
Black Hills

Sylvan Lake was another one of my favorite spots. I was lucky enough to be in South Dakota during the first snow of the season! When I visited the lake I got to see it all covered in snow. It was a dream.

Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake

Last but not least, I got to spend some time exploring Badlands National Park. It is hands down my new favorite National Park. There is wild sage growing, and tons of wide open spaces for you to dance and feel so much joy. I hope you get the chance to experience it one day (and also smell it too). Still have dreams about the wild sage smell.

Badlands
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Badlands
Badlands

On my drive back home, I stopped at the famous town of Wall, Home of Wall Drugstore. It was the cutest little town with so much history and fun shops to browse in. Picking up a donut is a must from there.

Wall
Wall
Wall
Wall

Spearfish Canyon was another AWESOME place I got to drive around and explore. I was lucky enough to be in South Dakota during the fall, so I got to see all the incredible leaves changing. The most beautiful greens, yellows, reds & oranges. It was so beautiful! There is also a really fun hike called Roughlock Falls Trail that leads you to a beautiful fall. I loved that.

Spearfish
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Couldn’t be more thankful for this trip that was sponsored by South Dakota Tourism. Please please PLEASE if you have a chance or are planning your next adventure, look into South Dakota. I was surprised in the best way and couldn’t have asked for a better trip or experience.

Cleveland Day 3

We started off our last day with the most glorious breakfast at Lucky’s Cafe. I am a hard core biscuits and gravy kinda lady and goodness Luck's was SO GOOD. I love farm to table restaurants and Lucky’s is just that. I definitely recommend their biscuits and gravy. You won’t regret it. 

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We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Cleveland Museum of Art and we got lost in it for hours. Here were some of our favorite pieces and spots in the Museum. 

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After that we headed next door to the Cleveland Botanical Garden and it was the perfect ending before heading back to the airport. They had a butterfly room that was amazing and so many beautiful plants and flowers. 

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We had such a fun day. Cleveland over all was such a surprising city to me. It's not too big and it's not too small. There were so many cool spots and so much fun history in all the places we went. I can't wait to go back! We had such a fun trip and I hope you get the chance to experience it for yourself. (p.s. don't forget to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame too!) 

This blog has been #sponsored by Destination Cleveland

 

 

 

Cleveland Day 2

Cleveland Day 2 was awesome and filled with so much fun eats and wandering around. 

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We started the day at Jack Flaps which was SO good! Breakfast is my favorite and their pancakes did not disappoint. 

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After a really filling breakfast we took a nice drive over to the River and Paddle boarded with Cleveland Metroparks. I had no idea I was going to end up in Cleveland and Paddle board but it was so much fun and also relaxing and we had a blast. It was a really good way to see a different side of the city and also get a tan ;)

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Then we headed over to Cleveland's oldest family owned restaurant Sokolowski’s. I would call it a hole in the wall but it is way too well known to be considered that. It is really homey and had so much history hung up on the walls and I really appreciated that. It’s set up cafeteria style and you can get WAY too much food for such a good price. I loved the vibe and all of the history that the restaurant held. 

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After lunch we headed to the Christmas Story House Tour which I wasn’t really sure about (I really like to stray away from touristy kind of things) but y’all I had a blast! Actually! I grew up watching the Christmas Story and it holds a dear place in my childhood and it was so much fun to be able to walk through the house and see where they shot some of my favorite scenes from the movie. 

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I even got a little crazy and put the soap in my mouth just like Ralphie did :) 

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We ended the night with dinner at Bar Cento and stopping by to see the Cleveland sign that overlooks the whole city for good views and photos. Day two was a blast. 

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Can't wait to show y'all more of this cute city! 

This blog has been #sponsored by Destination Cleveland

Cleveland day 1

I am so excited to share a little from my three day trip to Cleveland. I was lucky enough to be able to go and work with Destination Cleveland and it was honestly such a fun trip.

I had never been to Cleveland but I have so many friends from there so I was pumped to go explore around. I truly ended up loving it. I think the areas we explored were absolutely precious and awesome. Cleveland had so much to offer and I am excited to share what we got into! 

Where we stayed: Kimpton Schofield Hotel

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I love the newer, modern hotels. They are my favorite. Kimpton was friendly, beautiful, clean, modern, and it such a good location. It’s a short two minute walk away from East 4th Street which is a really awesome street with some of the best restaurant and shops in the whole city. 

Where we ate: Mabel’s BBQ & Jukebox

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For lunch we had Mabel’s BBQ and Y’ALL! I can’t say enough good things. Since I’m from the South, BBQ is one of my favorites. This place was located on E 4th street and was so dang good. Get the Big Pig Sandwich. Please & thank you. 

For dinner we ended up at Jukebox which was in such a cool area. There were so many coffee shops and bars to go explore. Jukebox is a really cool restaurant /bar that had amazing pirogies (which this was my first time ever trying one!)

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Arcade Cleveland was this awesome, older indoor shopping mall that opened in 1888. It’s one of Cleveland’s proudest pieces and it was beautiful and had some of the cutest little stores. A lot of people were on break from work eating their lunch enjoying the beautiful light. It made me happy. Really good photo opportunity if you love beautiful buildings. 

From there we headed to an early sunset at Edgewater Beach. I found my favorite tree there, I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was! Edgewater is a cool spot to spend a hot summer day at and I loved visiting and walking around. 

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Gordon Square Arts District is a really cool area to spend some time in visiting all the really awesome shops. Some of my favorites were FOUNT, iLTHY, Land of Plenty, and Oceanne. They also had a really awesome donut shop called Brewnuts that you have to check out! 

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Can't wait to show y'all more of this cute city! 

This blog has been #sponsored by Destination Cleveland

my piece is in a magazine

“I don’t know how to love with half of my heart; just the whole thing.” -an excerpt from a piece titled 2,320 miles featured in the first issue of Mouthwash.

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Some of my best friends just started pre-orders for their magazine where my writing is featured in it along with a lot of amazing work from other creatives. I’m sharing my heart that shines light onto heaviness, unhealthy relationships, & an unhealthy want for love. A few years ago I was in a relationship that took a lot away from me. I lost my voice & I temporarily lost my faith. I spent a lot of time yelling at God. I felt really trapped in another human being.

florals

Ever since that season of my life, I’ve really worked hard and fought hard for myself. To stand back up again. To get my voice back. And I have. I’m not fully there yet and there’s still a lot I have to work through, but I really feel like I had to stick up for the girl I was 3 years ago who didn’t use her voice. And that’s what this piece is. It’s brave. It also features photos Mackenzie Freemire took of me (florals by Tara Avers) for my piece that convey exactly what I wanted them to: feeling trapped but growing no matter the circumstance.

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If you want to read my whole piece & see more you can preorder here. 🌿 xoxo

gettin' yoself outta that winter FUNK

Hi. It’s me. I’m here to talk to y’all about seasonal depression. It is a very real thing in my world. Dealing with heaviness and mental issues has been a ongoing journey for awhile now. One that somedays is a piece of cake and other days is so overwhelming only Jesus knows. It’s a fight. It’s a battle. But it’s one I’m okay figuring out. I’m in the best hands and that gives me courage on my worst days. So I wanted to take some time to share things that I have been doing/ practicing to help me get my booty out of bed (even if I have to drag myself out of it). Your bed doesn’t have to control you. I promise.

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Rearrange the space you spend the most time in. Change is good. Especially if you associate your room as your safe space. I spend so much time in my room and this week I completely changed it and I immediately felt how good it was to have it different. Any time I experience pain, I run to my room. So having a totally different vibe immediately lifted the spirits within the 4 walls. 

Do something kind for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do. For me it’s getting my nails done (sometimes even in my sweat pants and a hoodie). Doing something out of my normal routine has been so good for me to say “hey there is more than what I am used to.” Also bright yellow nails are ALWAYS a good idea. 

Buy a plant. Life is GOOD. Surround yourself with as much life as possible. Getting dressed to pick out a new little green friend was so good for me. I obviously wanted to get a dog but it wasn't in the budget. 

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Go visit one of your favorite coffee shops. Even if you have nothing to do for work on your laptop and you don't feel like reading a book because of sadness, SERIOUSLY just go to watch Netflix. It's amazing what a change in your environment can do for you. 

△ Go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier. I love to go to bed at 2 AM so I can wake up at 12 PM. I'll sleep when I'm dead used to be my hipster mantra. But I've been going to bed at grandma hours and it has been so good for my little brain. I feel like a normal person and sadness can't creep into me being tired all day anymore. 

I also wanted to incorporate some of the questions other's asked me over Instagram. 

How do you force yourself to self-motivate on your days off from work?

Sometimes no matter how hard I fight and push, I can not find the motivation for the life of me. So I spend days drowning until I just can't take it anymore. What really has helped me is having accountability. I have a really amazing group of friends who know when to check in on me and how to push me and how to encourage me to take care of myself. The motivation I find is always from someone telling me it's going to be okay. Knowing I'm going to be okay and to hear it from someone who loves me always, always pulls me out. Spending time with Jesus too and holding close to his promises is so comforting as well. Sometimes there are days where nothing any one can say or where there is nothing anyone can do to help. But reading truth and stepping out in faith even when I would rather not always pulls me out. 

△  I don't know if you have experience with anxiety but would love to hear more about that if so. It's something I have been struggling with for quite some time and feel like it's something people in the church don't want to talk about. 

I've spent a long time dealing with anxiety, and I still have my moments. I kind of had a coming to terms with myself moment where I had to ask myself: is my anxiety me or is my anxiety actually anxiety? About 9 out of 10 times it was me. I realized I was a control freak and was trying to control and hide behind so much brokenness in my life. I would do anything to control every detail of just about anything. So I stopped hiding behind it. I started to hold things lightly and not try to control people or circumstances. It has been so freeing. I got off my anxiety meds because they were making me so numb. I pushed and I fought for my self. I really pushed as hard as I could to not care about trying to control things so much. It hurt. It was extremely freaking hard. All of this to say, anxiety is a REAL thing. I have panic attacks still because sometimes life happens even when I am not trying to control things. I just had to look at myself and really dig to the bottom of it. Had to figure out where it stemmed from and go from there. I'd encourage you to do the same. Ask those hard questions. See if there is anything you could get let go of to make it better. In regards to people at church- you should ALWAYS feel safe talking to leaders at church. Always. But I know that since you probably struggle with anxiety you are probably anxious to even talk about anxiety (oh the joys of having simple conversations). So I get it. But so many people struggle with it and church should be the safest place to open up about it. 

△ What do you do when you can logically understand why you are okay but still have the hardest time getting out of bed/ not snoozing through your alarm a thousand times? 

LOL. I laugh at this because I can spend an hour giving myself a pep-talk and feel like a total bad ass ready to conquer the world and then 2 minutes later idk what the crap happens and I am immediately back into my dark hole of sadness. I'm okay and then I am not okay. I wake up fine and then all of the sudden I am not fine. I set my alarm because I am going to go on a walk at 7 AM but then I hit snooze and next thing you know it's 12 PM. The struggle. I guess what I have been doing is just being honest with myself. I'm truly at the point where I know I am going to be okay. Every fiber of my being knows it. But sometimes I am physically not okay. So I'm just honest with where I'm at. If I can't get out of bed, I can't get out of bed. I stopped putting pressure on myself and I started listening to what my body needed. That has made all the difference. 

△  How do you be fully vulnerable with the Lord in a season that you really want to pretend you are not in? 

I think I got lucky and found the freedom really early on in being vulnerable and sharing where I'm at even if I really didn't want to be there. I have been in so many icky season that I wish I was not in. But the freedom I found in sharing my honesty has helped so many others and it also creates the room for others to help me too. If people don't know, how will they ever see the beauty in the broken? It's there. We just have to have the courage to share so others can say me too. 

I hope that this has helped y'all. I'm not an expert. I wish I was because I would be a super hero and would never be sad. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR THAT DAY!!! But for right now, that's just not my reality. Seasonal depression has been really high for me this winter. These little practices may be obvious and others who don't get it may not understand, but when you are in the midst of sadness, going to a coffee shop makes zero sense. Putting your pants on makes zero sense. For a long time that's where I was. In and out, up and down. Fighting for yourself is worth it. These little tips I gave you have honestly gave me so much hope and have given me a reason to tell my sadness no. Have something to look forward to. Have people fighting for you. Wear your sweat pants. Just promise me to fight for yourself. You are loved. You are never ever alone. Let’s kick these winter blues in the BUTT. 

(P.S. Here is one of my favorite podcasts talking about mental health if you need something to get you through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc-TLo2u_s4)

xx

Lagos 2017

I love Portugal. I love Portugal. I love Portugal. 

Seriously. There is something about it and I wish I had all the right words and rambles to explain to y'all why I love it so dang much but I couldn't even if I tried. It's my Neverland and I feel so connected to life when I'm over here. I was here last August and it stole my heart. Now I'm back on my first ever solo trip and it is even better the second time. Sharing some new favorites of mine. Enjoy! And get out to Portugal as soon as you can. You can thank me later. 

WHERE I STAYED: Camone Hostel

WHERE TO EAT

Lagos is filled with tons of normal European "chain" cafes. They are all over. SO finding a cute, cozy, authentic and not touristy spot to eat was somewhat of a challenge. So here are a few of my favorites that I had to really search for to find.

Goldig Cafe. Vegan cafe. Cute as all get out. Only a few outside seats. Coffee cups as big as your face. Organic fruit and local products used in making all their goods. Their homemade bread is to die for. For real. Really good for breakfast/brunch. 

Bora Cafe. The best for a pick me up juice or light and fresh snack. 

The Garden. By far my favorite little spot to go grab a pitcher of sangria at and to sit and enjoy everyone. It also really really helps that it is the cutest and hip little bar/ restaurant probably ever. It is so dang cute. Make sure you make a reservation though if you have a few people. If not you will have to sit in the back area that they call the "chill" corner, which I liked better than having a table. They have a fish of the day special and it was so dang good. I love this spot. 

BEACHES

Praia Da Piedade. 

Praia Da Piedade.

My favorite view in all of Lagos. It's not exactly a beach you go have a picnic on and layout at, but more of a thousand stairs you hike down for the view that speaks for itself along the way. It is to DIE for. I like to call it the Goonie Beach because it reminds of where the Goonies were filmed! If you are going during the summer months, I highly recommend waking up early and seeing it before all of the tourist roll in. So make sure you are out there before 10 AM.  Here are different views from all angles around the stairs down to the bottom.

Praia do Camilo. 

My favorite beach to go layout on and dance away the day in the sun. It gets extremely crowded so make sure you go early. There are two sides to the beach that are connected by a tunnel so if one side is crowded, make sure you go check out the other!

It's the best beach for all you sea glass hunters out there while staying in Lagos. I checked the tide chart for Lagos and went on an early morning hike out there during low tide and collected a whole bunch of sea glass. Made me the happiest ever. And there are SO many more rocks and things to climb upon, the beach seriously gets 3 times bigger. It was beautiful at sunrise. 

Lagos has my heart. I am beyond thankful that I got to go back just a year later. I think I am going to make this an every year trip and you should too ;)

-xx, a travelin' lady