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10 Insta Worthy Desserts in Orange County

After thousands of calories consumed and countless pictures later, I present the ten most insta worthy dessert places in Orange County! It was a lot of hard work eating all of these desserts over the course of six months, but I don’t regret a minute of it. Kidding of course, but I love the variety of desserts in OC. From Japanese inspired gelato to over the top donuts there is something sweet to please everyone’s taste buds. There are new, trendy places popping up all the time like #3 which just opened last month. If you have any recommendations please comment below and let me know what else I need to try!

 

  1. Crepe Coop at Anaheim Packing District

2. Popbar at Anaheim Packing District

3. The Loop

4. Eiswelt Gelato

5. Ruby’s Shake Shack – So many shakes to choose from, but the best part about this Ruby’s is you get dessert AND a view. 

6. Sidecar Doughnuts – Consistently my favorite donut spot. They release new flavors each month. Definitely a “must have” if you’re coming to Newport Beach.

7. Cauldron Ice Cream – Don’t forget to order a puffle!

8. The Dirty Cookie – They have their own homemade vanilla cream, chocolate, cream, and cold brew coffee on tap.

9. Afters – Several locations in Orange County, the original is in Fountain Valley and they have chocolate milky buns.

10. Pressed Juicery – Only select locations have the Pressed Freezes.  

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Chicago Food Guide

The best part of any trip is trying all the great food the city has to offer! I love going on Instagram and screenshotting unique dessert places that come up on my feed. Prior to going to Chicago I started following popular food accounts like Chicago Food Authority and Eater Chicago. After about a month I had a whole collection of places I knew I wanted to check out.

chicago food guide the sweetest escapeMy friend Baker also had a few places in mind and our favorite restaurant of the weekend was actually one he took us to! We didn’t have a single bad meal while we were visiting. Every coffee, donut and pizza slice was pure perfection. With that said after all the eating we crammed into two days we were hurting. I had to make a CVS pitstop on Saturday afternoon for Tums because my body was on cheese and donut overload.

There are so many restaurants we unfortunately didn’t make it to, but we have them on out list for next time. Besides it wouldn’t be fun if we knocked everything out in one weekend, we have to have reasons to go back!

Here is a list of all our stops organized by desserts, dinner, and drinks. To read about the other activities we did check out my “48 Hours in Chicago” post from earlier this week.

Desserts

Firecakes Donuts 

They had a truck at the Taste of Chicago so we tried the mini vanilla donuts. They are known for the donut ice cream sandwich!

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Glazed and Infused

They were rated the best donut shop in Chicago for four years in a row! Very fluffy and thick, almost like a croissant donut.

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Eli’s Cheescake

Also at the Taste of Chicago we tasted the original cheesecake and it was great, but nothing to write home about.

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Caffe Gelato

Also at Taste of Chicago, we tried all three sorbet flavors available including lemon, pineapple and blood orange. My favorite was the blood orange.

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Lunch/Dinner

Homeslice

This was our favorite restaurant of the weekend (if you couldn’t tell by the number of pictures we took!) The brunch was unbelievable, we got a breakfast pizza and spiked coffees. Baker’s bloody mary even came with a pizza slice on top! The backyard reminded me a lot of places in Austin with the airstream, neon signs and garden lights. I highly recommend this one, Baker says he always takes guests here and it never disappoints.

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Bernie’s Lunch and Supper

Unbelievable burgers with an even better rooftop view!

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Giordano’s vs. Lou Malnati’s

This is probably one of the most controversial posts I will ever write and…. The great Giordano’s vs. Lou Malnati’s debate. While both places were beyond delicious, Jen and I preferred Giordano’s because of the crust-to-cheese ratio and the crust thickness.

The pizza at Giordano’s was like eating a piece of flaky, rich pie. It was very thick with tons of cheese. I’m of the mindset that you can never have too much cheese, if you wanna put five pounds of cheese on a pizza you won’t hear me say no. Going to Giordano’s is definitely an experience so plan accordingly. It was an hour wait just to get seated and you have to order your pizza ahead of time because it takes 45 minutes to bake.

This is not to say that Lou Malnati’s is not good, because it definitely is. It really just depends on your preferences. Their crust is a little crispier and thinner than it’s rival. I’ll end the discussion on this note, deep dish pizza is in a class of it’s own and both places are fantastic. Then again I’ve never said no to pizza before because I think it’s all great so you might just have to make a trip to Chicago and decide on your own!

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Lou Malnati’s

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Lou Malnati’s

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Giordano’s

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Giordano’s
Drinks

The Hampton Social

The coolest bar we went to in Chicago, everything is nautical themed and I felt like I was in a Jimmy Buffett music video. They have a really photogenic wall in the back with a neon “Rose all day” sign. Look it up on Instagram, I swear everyone takes a photo here!

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Intelligentsia Coffee

The best iced vanilla latte I have ever tasted.

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That wraps up all of our meals for the weekend!  I hope you are impressed with the amount of food we ate because writing this post made me feel sick all over again. Give me a couple more days and I’ll be ready to fly back for round two!

Travel Well,

Kayla

48 hours in chicago travel guide the sweetest escape

Guide to Spending 48 Hours in Chicago

If I am being completely honest Chicago has never been at the top of my travel list. There was no allure for me simply because of the negative things I heard about the city like how dirty it was, the safety, etc. Boy was I wrong…

londonhouse chicago rooftop the sweetest escapeEvery negative perception I had about Chicago immediately dissipated after my first night. The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and the city  is very clean! I highly recommend going for 3-4 days instead of cramming everything into one weekend, but that was my only option because a girl’s gotta work!

Luckily I have a wonderful friend that has been living in Chicago for the past two years and he was our tour guide for the whole weekend (thanks Baker!) Seriously so thankful we had him otherwise we would have spent most of our time getting lost instead of actually seeing the sights. He knew so many cool facts about the city and the best way to get around town. If you have friends in the cities you are visiting don’t be afraid to catch up with them and see if they can show you around! I went to Chicago with Jen, one of my best friends from work. She also loves traveling and we were so excited to do this trip together.

Use this as your ultimate “Chicago in a Weekend” guide for information on where to stay and what to do. I will dedicate a separate post just to eating in Chicago and all of the restaurants we went to.

chicagorooftopbarBest season to visit: Summer

Recommended number of days: 3-4

Airports: Chicago O’Hare or Midway

Transportation: Uber or you can use the train through the city

Favorite area: Riverwalk

 

londonhouse chicago the sweetest escapeWhere We Stayed

We were lucky enough to snag a room at the new LondonHouse Chicago for the weekend. The LondonHouse is a brand new luxury hotel (only two months old) located on Wacker Drive right across from Trump Tower. The customer service was great and our room was beautiful. The biggest draw to staying here is access to the rooftop bar with great views of the city. Since the hotel is still so new there is a six-week wait to even get a reservation for drinks on the rooftop. We snuck up early one morning just to check it out and take some pictures, next time we definitely plan on enjoying the view over dinner and drinks. If you are a Hilton Honors member you can use your points here like I did.

 

 

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Views from the rooftop bar at the LondonHouse! If you plan on going this summer definitely call and make a reservation in advance since they are booking up quickly.

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 1. Cloud Gate “The Bean” – Millennium Park

Probably the most iconic landmark in Chicago, The Bean is a stainless steel sculpture in the middle of Millennium Park. You’ve probably seen this a million times on your friend’s Instagram, but it’s worth seeing in real life. We specifically wanted pictures with no tourists in the way so our first morning in Chicago we woke up at 5 a.m. to better our chances of beating the crowds. Luckily there were only a few other photographers lingering around and with a tad bit of patience we were able to get a couple of shots with nobody in the background!

 

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2. Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is the only free zoo in Chicago, you can’t miss walking through for an hour or so and checking out the gorillas, giraffes, and lions! I haven’t been to Chicago in the winter, but apparently there are indoor enclosures so you can see the animals 365 days a year. There are several blocks of beautiful houses in the area and you can walk through the park to reach the lake. I really loved this area of the city and hope to spend more time walking around the park during my next trip.

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wrigley field bleachers chicago3. Wrigley Field/Wrigleyville

Unfortunately we weren’t able to make a game because the Cubs were away, but regardless of the schedule you have to see Wrigley Field while you’re in Chicago. Baseball fan or not it’s an iconic American landmark so you’ll want to get a picture or two. There are many old-school game day bars in Wrigleyville and newer places that are great for Sunday Funday. My friend that was showing us around also graduated from the University of Alabama so we obviously had to visit the Houndstooth Saloon in Wrigleyville to get our Bama fix.

Next time I visit I want to make sure I can go for a Cubs game, I can only imagine how fun it would be based off everything he told us!

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4. The Signature Lounge

The Signature Lounge at 96th gives you sweeping views of the city. We went at night and we saw a whole firework show off Navy Pier! Most people opt to do the Sky Deck in Willis Tower. Basic admission is $22 and that will get you to the top of the tower where you can step in the glass “ledge” and take pictures.

Our friend recommended going to The Signature Lounge instead, slightly less touristy plus you get to sit and have a drink while you enjoy the view! If you choose to do just one or both make sure you bring your camera.
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5. Architectural Boat Tour 

chicagobridgeThis was one of my favorite things we did while in Chicago. It’s always nice to squeeze in a little education about the place you are visiting. Chicago is a great mix of old and new architecture so it was cool to learn about the history of each building. We went with Wendella Tours, but there are several other options to choose from. Tickets were $35 and the tour lasts for 75 minutes. Our guide was a native Chicagoan and knew a lot of interesting facts about the city. Since it gets pretty hot in the summer I would suggest either going first thing in the morning like we did or at the end of the day because there is no shade on the boat!

 

 

 

 

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6. Taste of Chicago

The main reason we choose this weekend in particular to visit Chicago! We heard Taste of Chicago is one of the best festivals in the city to go to and since we are both foodies we couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. All of the well-known restaurants that would be on your Chicago bucket list were there! It’s a 5-day festival held right in the middle of Millennium Park with food trucks, concerts, beer gardens, and other activities. You pay per ticket and each “taste” costs between 4-5 tickets or you can buy a full serving of a particular dish for more.

Whatever weekend you are visiting Chicago you should check out the calendar and see what events are happening around the city, chances are there is something going on. I hear there are many festivals, farmer’s markets, and concerts (Lollapalooza!) during summer.

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Basically I love summertime Chi and I can’t wait to go back! I’m not quite sure I would survive a winter there, but I could always stay inside and eat deep dish pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

On that note stay tuned for my Chicago Food post later this week!

 https://youtu.be/cVMKsBSWSQE

Travel Well,

Kayla

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Outdoor Eating in Austin

Everyone knows I’m a dessertie, but occasionally I have to eat other food too. Here are some of my favorite outdoor restaurants around Austin. I love everything about eating al fresco, the picnic tables, sunsets, twinkly lights and these places have all of the above! 

 1. Salt Lick BBQ (18300 FM 1826 Driftwood, TX )

My favorite BBQ place in all the land! It’s old-school, meaning cash only and a simple menu. Be prepared to wait two hours if you go on the weekend. There is plenty to do while you wait though they have an outdoor bar and a live band most nights. salt lick bbq austin texas sweetest escapesalt lick bbq austin texas sweetest escape

2. Lucy’s  (2900 Ranch Road 620 N Austin, TX)

Perfect view of Lake Travis and some of the best friend chicken I have ever tasted. Such a cool vibe and amazing summer sunsets as you can see below!

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3. Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza (13187 Fitzhugh Rd Austin, TX)  

Literally a barn converted into a pizza place and brewery. Eating brick oven pizza on a farm what’s better than that?! There are so many cute picture spots here and the pizza was great too. 

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4. Oasis (6550 Comanche Trail Austin, TX)

Mediocre Mexican food, but another spot with a great view of Lake Travis. The Oasis is not accessible by boat, it’s almost like a small town with shops and other restaurants around. 


5. Angel’s Icehouse  (21815 State Highway 71 W Spicewood, TX) 

I was in a food coma after the brownie sundae and queso. Their story is pretty cool as well, definitely a spot worth checking out. 

BONUS!! 

Voodoo Donuts has a location in Austin right on 6th Street! The line is insane, but it’s a must-see place for the decor and the sweets. The doughnuts are so soft and fluffy. Worth the wait because these babies will melt in your mouth and they have the coolest flavors! 

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5 Favorite Murals in Austin

I’ve been to Austin three times now and each visit I fall a little more in love with the city. It’s so weird yet southern at the same time. The perfect mix of California and Texas, kinda like me I guess! 

Austin is known for its slew of amazing street artists. There are always freshly painted murals around downtown and you can find wall art everywhere you go. It’s taken me three trips to finally pick my favorites, but here they are! I can’t imagine these particular murals disappearing anytime soon, especially the “I love you so much” wall since it’s so famous! Click on the links to learn a little more about some of the murals. 

1. “Willie for President” – Stag Provisions for Men  1423 S Congress Avenue 

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2. “You’re My Butter Half” – United Way for Greater Austin 2000 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. 

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3. “Greetings From Austin” – Roadhouse Relics 1720 S 1st Street

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4. “I Love You So Much” – Jo’s Coffee 1300 S Congress Avenue 

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5. “Historic Sixth Street” – 6th and SB I-35 Access Road 

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Best Jumping Spots on the Colorado RiverΒ 

I am excited to incorporate a new “Travel Tuesday” series on my blog! With the amount of traveling I have been doing lately and more trips planned in the near future I think detailing the best part of my adventures weekly is a great way to keep you in the loop. Hopefully some of these places make it on to your bucket list.

These are the four best spots on our part of the river spanning from Topock Gorge to Jack Smith Marina, which covers about 20 miles by boat. If you are familiar with the area feel free to share your favorite spots in case I missed anything, we are always looking for new places to jump!

Without further adieu, here is a list of the best spots to cliff jump and rope swing on the Colorado River starring my brother, Walker! Rope Swing on the Topock Bridge

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All spots are located within 10 miles of the Topock rope swing. To get directions use “Topock66” as your destination.
  1. Rope Swing on the Topock Bridge 

You can’t miss this landmark you have to drive your boat under the bridge in order to get to Topock66 or Pirate’s Cove! There are ski handles permanently tied to the steel rafters. It’s actually a train track so if you wait long enough you’ll see the train go by as you’re swinging off!

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2. The “Keep Off” Tower Between Topock and The Gorge

There isn’t an official name for this spot besides the fact there is a “keep off” warning painted on the side. It’s fairly easy to climb up since there is a staircase, but the concrete and metal is VERY hot during the summer since temperatures skyrocket to 120 degrees or hotter.

Cliff Jumping In Arizona

 

3. The Topock Gorge

There is really only one cliff to jump off in the The Gorge. Since it’s a “no wake zone” it’s easy to have a boat drop you off close by and wait. Once again the rocks are extremely hot during the summer so bring sandals or water shoes. This spot is more for experienced cliff jumpers, the lowest platform is about 25 feet and the highest is around 40 feet.

Cliff Jumping in Arizona

 

4. The Silver Penis

I’m not sure if we gave it this name when we were younger or if it’s always been called “the silver penis,” but either way you can’t miss this spot! You can take backroads from Highway 40, but it’s easiest to reach by boat. If you head upriver it will be on your left before you hit Jack Smith Marina. As you can see it’s not very high so you’ll see plenty of younger kids jumping off as well.

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Safe Travels,

Kayla

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White Summer Dress

This little white dress is perfect for summer and would you believe me if I told you it was $25?! I bought this from Asos before my Australia trip and I always receive compliments when I wear it. 

It’s cotton so you don’t have to worry about it being see through! It also comes in other great summer colors. Asos is my new obsession, free shipping over $40 and they have a HUGE selection, count me IN! 

These cork wedges were a recent purchase from the Nordstrom Sale and they are still available online in plenty of sizes. Really comfortable, no breaking in required:)

White Off The Shoulder Dress

Wedges