Tel Aviv, Israel [Travel Guide]

Back in February, I traveled to the most magical place in the world. ISRAEL! I've wanted to visit for years, so I spontaneously bought a plane ticket after the holidays. I've been home for about a month now, and I want to gush about Tel Aviv for a few minutes because I'm OBSESSED.

Tel Aviv is the warmest, most welcoming city I've ever visited. Everyone was so incredibly nice. The white sand beaches were beautiful, and the food was heavenly. I also loved that stray cats were literally everywhere...my favorite was the fluffy calico who was snoozing on the hood of a parked car. I was only in Israel for three full days, but I definitely want to return in the future. 

Let's talk about culture shock. I didn't experience any major surprises while visiting Europe or Scandinavia. The Middle East, however, was an entirely different world. Even though English is spoken as a second language by most in Israel, signs and menus are written primarily in the nation's official language, Hebrew. The thing about Hebrew...it's beautiful to look at, but impossible to decipher/speak if you've never studied it. The locals were very kind whenever I needed help translating something, though. The currency was also a bit confusing. One U.S. dollar was equal to 3.47 Israeli shekels. Eventually, I learned that dividing a price by three was an easy way to estimate the cost in U.S. dollars. Menu prices kept throwing me off, though. You might be aware of this next one, but in case you're not: 75% of the population in Israel is Jewish. What this means is, many shops and restaurants close from Friday evening until Saturday night for Shabbat, Judaism's day of rest. Just something to keep in mind when you're visiting, especially if you have your heart set on certain restaurants or activities. And lastly, 18% of Israel's population practices Islam. Because of this, you'll most likely hear the adhan (the Muslim call to worship) played over the loudspeaker from a mosque during your visit. The adhan is described as "one of the most lyrical, inspiring prayers for Muslims." I can definitely vouch for its beauty. Hearing the adhan for the first time while walking around Jaffa is a vivid memory I'll never forget. 

As far as weather goes, the temperature in Israel stays pretty warm throughout the year...and gets scorching hot in the summer. I visited in February and had consistent 60-70 degree days, filled with sunshine and blue skies. When you're planning your travels, keep the weather in mind. It can make or break your vacation.

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FOOD

Hummus Abu Dubi: This was easily the best hummus I've ever had. I ordered the version with lemon and garlic, sprinkled with paprika and cumin, and topped with chickpeas. The creamy concoction came in a giant bowl, with warm pita bread on the side and a variety of fresh toppings (pickles, olives, peppers, tahini, and olive oil). It was UNREAL. When we ran out of pita bread, I ate the hummus with a spoon. I ordered hummus at several different restaurants in Israel, but none of them compared to this place.

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Citizen: I had so many delicious meals in Israel that it's hard to choose a favorite. However, the baladibowl I ordered at Citizen ranks pretty high. Imagine a baked potato, sliced into thin sections and sprinkled with flaky sea salt, kale, purple cabbage, pomegranate seeds, cornichons, tomatoes, a hardboiled egg, and garlic tahini, beautifully displayed over a bed of warm quinoa. I washed it all down with house-made carrot ginger juice.

Bana: This vegan restaurant had so many creative, intricate dishes on the menu. I had a hard time choosing one! I finally decided on the roasted acorn squash filled with black pepper and coconut cream, over fresh cauliflower tabouleh and seasoned with sumac. IT WAS SO GOOD, and the presentation was gorgeous. Are you noticing a theme here? Tel Aviv is a vegan foodie's dream, especially if you prefer healthy meals and fresh ingredients.

Hakovshim Bistro: My AirBnB was right next to Hakovshim, so after a long day of exploring and wandering the streets of Tel Aviv, I decided to grab dinner there. I was craving something warm and hearty, so I ordered the meat and root vegetable plate over rice. The meal was doused in a sweet, smoky teriyaki sauce, and I absolutely loved it. Hakovshim buys their ingredients fresh daily from Carmel Market, so the menu constantly changes.

Meshek Barzilay: If you're looking for organic, vegetarian dishes, you'll love Meshek Barzilay. This place has everything from frittatas and pancakes to pizza and gnocchi. In addition, many of the restaurant's options can be customized to be gluten-free and vegan. I had an appetizer that included giant dollops of avocado salsa and microgreens atop thick, chewy toast points. My friend ordered an eggplant dish, loaded with fresh vegetables and drizzled with a delectable, creamy sauce.

Onza: Located amidst the cobblestone streets of Jaffa, Onza combines a sophisticated bar and atmospheric outdoor seating with Ottoman and Turkish cuisine. This dinner was a true indulgence. I had the sea bass with herbs, topped with cauliflower cream, tomatoes, and winter vegetables. Holy YUM.

THINGS TO DO

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Buy local goods at Carmel Market. This is the largest shuk, or market, in Tel Aviv. Local traders sell everything from baked goods, spices, and flowers to clothing and electronics. The bustling environment is busy, vibrant, and at times, chaotic. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables for super cheap, especially when you haggle. I bought a huge bag of plump, juicy dates when I first arrived, and I snacked on them around the clock. Just know that eating dates in the Middle East will ruin you forever. After that, the dates back home will always taste mediocre. While Carmel Market is the most widely known shuk in Tel Aviv, there are several others to check out, too. Levinsky Market and Jaffa Port Market were both highly recommended.

Go to the beach. In Israel, you can find over 120 miles of Mediterranean coastline. My AirBnB in Tel Aviv was right next to Banana Beach, which had a very tranquil, relaxed atmosphere. There are so many beaches to choose from, though. If you want to connect with other travelers, Gordon Beach is calling your name. If you want to unwind and read a book, the serenity of Habonim Beach will appeal to you. Don't worry too much about which particular beach to visit, though. Just get outside and explore. 

Walk around Jaffa. This ancient port city is the oldest seaport in the world. The area's population is a vibrant combination of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In fact, you can hear the Adhan (the Islamic Call to Prayer) played over a loudspeaker from the local mosque five times per day. Jaffa is still used by fishermen, but it's also home to dozens of amazing restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. The port's small alleyways are filled with handmade crafts, galleries, studios, and flea markets. I was quickly charmed by Jaffa's cobblestone streets and scenic views. The area was so quaint and cozy.

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Watch the sunset at Abrasha Park. While you're in Jaffa, be sure to do this! My favorite part of Abrasha Park, which is home to a beautiful view of Tel Aviv's skyline, is the Wishing Bridge. An ancient legend says that if you find your zodiac sign (there are metal pictures along the railing) and place your hand on it as you stare out to sea, your wish will come true. Only time will tell if my wish becomes reality, but a girl can dream. ;) The view from Abrasha Park is stunning. And when you add a blazing sunset into the mix, the scenery is picturesque.

Visit Jerusalem. When I traveled to Israel, I didn't make it to Jerusalem due to tension and protests in the area. I was really tempted to go, despite warnings from the U.S. Consulate...but I knew I had to prioritize my safety. Fingers crossed you don't encounter the same roadblock if you're planning a trip to Israel this year. Jerusalem is only 45 minutes from Tel Aviv, so you can easily get there via rental car or bus tour. And the city is huge (its population is double that of Tel Aviv, and it's more spread out), so try to stick around for a few days. If you're a history buff, it doesn't matter which religion (or lack thereof) you identify with - You'll undoubtedly appreciate the city's rich history. If you've been to Jerusalem, I'd love to hear your recommendations below!

Road trip to the Dead Sea. If you're looking for an adventurous day trip, I highly recommend visiting the Dead Sea. I drove there on my last morning in Tel Aviv, with the intention of exploring Masada National Park afterwards. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the park's cable car stopped running a couple hours before the park closed. I missed the window by just a few minutes, and I was so bummed! Back to the Dead Sea - It's bordered by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, and it's officially the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea is almost 10x as salty as the ocean, which means plants and animals can't survive there. It also means it's incredibly easy to float on your back. According to many, the water has magical healing properties, especially for those with chronic skin, respiratory, and joint problems. Unfortunately, the water levels in the Dead Sea have been dropping over time. If this is a bucket list item for you, make sure to visit while you still can!

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Have you been to Israel? If so, leave your recommendations below! 

Moab, UT [Travel Guide]

Back in September, I traveled to Utah for a long weekend to visit Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. The breathtaking beauty, stunning scenery, and eclectic local restaurants all made for an incredible experience. If you're planning a trip to this beautiful region of the country, here are some of my favorite things to eat, do, and see.

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FOOD

The Food Tank: This vegan food truck made all my dreams come true. It's a hidden gem in Moab that proved surprisingly difficult to find, but it was worth the hassle. The menu included a variety of delicious vegan options, and I had a lovely conversation with the owner. My dinner, which consisted of the roasted beet salad (topped with fig balsamic, cashew cheese, and micro greens), was incredible.

Eklecticafe: I stopped here for lunch after a busy morning in Arches National Park, and I thoroughly enjoyed my simple plate of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and gluten-free toast. I loved this quirky cafe's great selection of gluten-free meals and desserts, and the hippie, eklectic vibe (seeeeee what I did there?) was really fun.

Peace Tree Juice Cafe: I dined here on more than one occasion because I was obsessed with their quinoa bowl, which came with avocado, brussels sprouts, sauteed spinach, and tahini. So simple, but so good. They also offered a long list of fresh juices and smoothies. The Autumn Rush, made with apple, ginger, and carrot, felt like a ~*fall explosion*~ in my mouth. 

Love Muffin Cafe: Whenever I travel, I try to seek out a gluten-free bakery...and Love Muffin Cafe was a great find. I had the tastiest gluten-free apple carrot muffin here, along with the best breakfast of my life. If you go here, get the potatas bravas! Potatoes tossed in a caramelized sauce of onion, garlic, tomato, spinach, and feta, with two eggs on top...y'all. It was heaven on a plate.

NATIONAL/STATE PARKS

It was extremely hot when I visited Moab (in the high 90s), so I mostly stuck to short, simple hikes that didn't require excessive physical exertion. I saw a ton of incredible sights, though! I'll also list some of the noteworthy hikes I didn't get a chance to complete.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

North of Moab, bordered by the Colorado River, lies Arches National Park. This gorgeous, red-tinted landscape is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. It's unlike anything else on the planet. Arches contains the highest density of natural arches in the world (yup, it's named approprateiyl), and it's home to a variety of unique geological formations (spires, rocks, and fins).

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EASY TRAILS

  • Skyline Arch: This is an extremely short hike, but the rock span at the end of the trail is beautiful. Definitely worth visiting because it's so easy to access. (0.4 miles)
  • Sand Dune Arch: This was one of my favorite rock formations in Arches. You have to wiggle through a narrow slot canyon to reach it, and there are plenty of spots to explore along the way. (0.8 miles)
  • The Windows: The North Window and South Window arches are fantastic to photograph, and the views are breathtaking. This is a great section of the park to visit because you can find many well known formations here. (1 mile)
  • Landscape Arch: This is the largest arch on the planet. Pretty cool, huh? (2 miles)
  • Park Avenue Trailhead: This is one of the first major attractions you hit when you enter Arches. The Three Gossips, the Courthouse Towers, Queen Nefertiti and Queen Victoria Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel are all visible from the trailhead. The view is absolutely stunning. (1.8 miles)

MODERATE/DIFFICULT TRAILS

  • Delicate Arch: This hike was incredible. I got started at 8am because the afternoon heat was brutal, and it took about 2.5 hours to complete. People always rave about this arch, and now I know why. (3 miles uphill)
  • Fiery Furnace: This hike is a natural labyrinth of narrow passages between huge sandstone walls. First time visitors are encouraged to complete the hike with a ranger because there's no established trail. I didn't complete this one, but it gets incredible reviews. (2 miles)
  • Devils Garden: This hike allows you to see six natural arches. Many reviews say this is the best hike in Arches! I didn't complete this one, but if you have the time and the resources, you definitely should. (7.8 miles)
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CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK

This national park is a colorful maze of canyons, mesas, and buttes. It's divided into three distinct districts: Islands in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. I spent most of my time in Islands in the Sky. I drove through The Needles because I wanted to see the sandstone spires, but I skipped The Maze since it's the least accessible district.

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EASY HIKES (ISLANDS IN THE SKY)

  • Mesa Arch: This is one of the most popular landmarks in Islands in the Sky. The arch dangles on the mesa's edge, and the view is stunning. (0.7 miles)
  • Whale Rock: It's quite a short hike to this bizarre dome/crater formation, but the view from the top is fantastic. (1 mile)
  • Shafer Canyon Overlook: This view is INSANE, you guys. The sheer drop to the valley below is slightly terrifying (if you're afraid of heights, beware). It's truly astonishing, though. There aren't enough adjectives to describe the raw beauty of this viewpoint. (0.3 miles)
  • Grand View Point: If you're looking for an easy walk around the canyon rim with a gorgeous view, this is where you want to be. (1.8 miles)

DIFFICULT HIKES (ISLANDS IN THE SKY/THE NEEDLES)

  • Aztec Butte: This hike is quite unique. It climbs a steep slope to a dome-shaped butte that rises above the mesa. A loop around the top of Aztec Butte provides fantastic views into Taylor Canyon. This hike is located in Islands in the Sky. (1.8 miles uphill)
  • Druid Arch: This is a long, light trafficked, desolate hike in The Needles with incredible scenery. It can be difficult to navigate, and there's a bit of rock scrambling involved, so come prepared. (10.4 miles)
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DEAD HORSE STATE PARK

Located on the edge of Canyonlands National Park, at the end of a mesa 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, Dead Horse State Parks sits high and mighty. The park might have a questionable name, but the views are unbeatable. The landscape of Dead Horse is ever-changing, with canyons, vertical cliffs, and an extreme desert environment. I loved all three parks that I visited, but this was my favorite one.

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TIPS/TRICKS

Rent a 4WD. If you opt to go at your own pace with a rental car instead of hopping on a bus tour, make sure the vehicle is 4WD. This is really important if you want to go off-road.

Bring plenty of water. If you visit during the summer months, bring more water than you think you'll need. The heat in Moab is merciless. I actually bought a cheap cooler, filled it with ice in the mornings, and packed it full with water, juice, and snacks.

Preparation is key. Since I didn't complete any super long, strenuous hikes, I didn't need much besides hiking shoes and a daypack filled with water, snacks, a whistle, a compass, a knife, and a flashlight. Pro tip: If you rent a car, stop at your nearest Walmart and buy a big, cheap cooler. Fill the cooler with ice each morning and pack drinks and refrigerated snacks (like veggies, deli meat, and fruit). Let's be real - Nothing ruins a good time like hanger. Clothing depends largely on the season. In colder weather, you'll want fleece-lined leggings and an insulated jacket. During the summer, sweat-wicking fabric is great. If you plan on camping, you'll need more than the standard gear listed above. You can find a complete list here.

Be aware that you won't have cell phone service. While driving around Arches, I'd suddenly get service in random spots around the park. Dead Horse was the same way. However, Canyonlands was a dead zone. Keep this is mind, especially if you're planning on using your phone for directions. Download maps before entering the park, and jot down any important information in the note section on your phone.

Don't forget to look up at the stars. The stars in Moab were unlike anything I've ever seen before. They practically sparkled...like a glittery bath bomb had exploded in the sky. It was incredible, and my hour spent stargazing is one of my favorite memories from my trip. You know how they say, "Stop and smell the roses"? Well, stop and look at the stars. You'll be happy you did.

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Asheville, NC [Travel Guide]

I fell in love with colorful and quirky Asheville four years ago. The gorgeous mountains, eclectic downtown area, artsy culture, and abundant hiking opportunities made me swoon. Just a few months ago, I was lucky enough to return for a second time. This trip solidified my love for the "Portland, Oregon of the East". If you're planning a trip to Asheville, here's a travel guide with some of my favorite spots.

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FOOD

Laughing Seed Cafe: This cafe was Asheville's first vegetarian restaurant. They serve organic, local, farm-to-table cuisine with an international flair. I ordered the harmony bowl, a rice bowl loaded with black beans, grilled tofu, steamed veggies, avocado, purple kraut, and sesame ginger sauce. It was insanely good!

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White Duck Taco Shop: If you're looking for unique, off-the-wall tacos that you can order a-la-carte, this is your spot. The menu constantly changes, but there's always something delicious to order. I've had the bangkok shrimp, lamb gyro, and thai peanut chicken, and they were all great. 

Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar: This restaurant specializes in flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes made from fresh, whole foods. The atmosphere is friendly and inclusive, and they're all about forging close relationships with artists, musicians, and community groups. If you don't know what to get, order the "family favorite" (baked peanut butter tofu, kale, and smashed potatoes with gravy; SO GOOD!) and a seasonal kombucha.

Limones: This upscale restaurant serves a variety of California cuisine with a French/Mexican twist. If that sounds intriguing, you'll love some of the restaurant's options: lobster nachos, seared scallops with grits and mango salsa, and tequila lime beef fajitas. Save room for dessert, and order the churros.

Vortex Donuts: I have a huge sweet tooth, but doughnuts are my absolute favorite. Vortex came in strong with delicious doughnuts (they offer vegan flavors!) and great coffee. 

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If you want a great brunch, check out Over Easy Cafe, but be sure to get there early. Another delicious option is Biscuit Head.

DRINKS

New Belgium Brewing: My favorite thing about this brewery is the expansive outdoor space. I visited on a warm, end-of-summer day, and the brewery was abundant with picnic tables, outdoor games, and plenty of lawn space that customers filled with beach chairs and blankets. The atmosphere was upbeat, and the beer was delicious.

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The Double Crown: This speakeasy-style dive bar is a favorite amongst Asheville locals. With a warm ambiance, string lights, and a unique cocktail menu, what's not to love?

If you're a beer aficianado, check out Hi-Wire, Wedge, Green Man, Sweeten Creek, and the Funkatorium. Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the U.S., so you'll definitely find a brewery you dig.

CAFES

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Trade & Lore: This industrial yet cozy cafe offers experimental coffee while working to promote equality and empower the community. I had a delicious oat milk rosewater latte here. 

Izzy's Coffee Den: After shopping around Lexington Avenue for awhile, an iced almond milk lavender latte was just what I needed to beat the heat. The cafe also has a second location on Haywood Road.

High Five Coffee: I stopped here before driving home to Norfolk. My hazelnut latte was superb, and the staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Asheville obviously knows what they're doing when it comes to coffee.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge: If you aren't in the mood for coffee, come here for drinking chocolate (they offer vegan options), artisan truffles, and pastries. This place is a chocolate lover's dream.

If you want a unique cafe experience, check out Double D's Coffee & Desserts, a double-decker bus that serves coffee, tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and pastries. This is a must while in Asheville.

HIKING

Looking Glass Falls: This is one of North Carolina's most popular waterfalls. It's just a short walk from the road, so it doesn't really qualify as a hike...but it's absolutely beautiful, so it's worth a visit. Located in the Pigsah National Forest, Looking Glass Falls is 60' tall. Steps lead down to the majestic falls for a closer view. You can walk around the rocks in the stream, or you can even wade in the water. 

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High Falls: Located in DuPont State Forest, High Falls is another gorgeous waterfall you should try to visit. This hike is only 1.2 miles round-trip, and the view from the base of the falls is incredible. (Warning: The rocks are extremely slippery...don't get too close to the water, or you might fall. I know from experience.)

Chimney Rock State Park: Chimney Rock is considered one of the most iconic sites in North Carolina, and for good reason. The 75-mile panoramic view from the top is amazing. You have to work for it, though! There are more than 500 steps leading up to the chimney.

For a detailed list of easy, moderate, and difficult hikes around Asheville, click here.

THINGS TO DO

Catch the sunset. When I travel, it's always one of my top priorities to find a great spot to watch the sunset. SkyBar is known for its spectacular view of Asheville, and they have an extensive cocktail menu. If sipping a blackberry mint mojito as the sun descends on the horizon sounds appealing to you, check out SkyBar. The Omni Grove Park Inn is another fantastic spot to watch the sun go down.

Explore the River Arts District and snap a photo of the Good Vibes mural. This is arguably the most iconic mural in Asheville. I had trouble locating it during my first visit, so I'll make it easy for you: 104 West Haywood Street.

Visit Malaprop's Bookstore. This independent bookstore is a dream. If you enjoy leisurely browsing a variety of diverse books, you'll love this place. And be sure to order coffee from the cafe. I had an iced white chocolate blackberry latte, and it was divine. 

I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.
— Emoke B'Racz, Owner

Dedicate an afternoon to the Biltmore Estate. Officially deemed the largest home in America, the Biltmore Estate is a sight to behold. The architecture is so intricate, and the interior contains century-old tapestries, antique paintings, and elegant sculptures. There are 250 rooms in the mansion, so plan to spend an entire day here, or at least an afternoon.

Browse the Western North Carolina Farmer's Market. I can't leave Asheville without buying maple syrup, honey, and jam from the WNC Farmer's Market. The market also features high quality fruits and vegetables, preserves, hot sauce, baked goods, fudge, salsa, and dozens of other items that might tickle your fancy.

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What's your favorite thing to do in Asheville? Comment below!

Winter 2018 Playlist

It's been a cold winter, friends! Norfolk got about a foot of snow at the beginning of the month, which is wild. I initially enjoyed the quiet serenity of my neighborhood covered in a fresh blanket of snow, but it got old fast...mostly because the city basically shut down for a week. Fortunately, all those snow days gave me plenty of time to whip up a winter playlist. Enjoy!

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Norfolk, VA [Travel Guide]

I've (almost) officially lived in Norfolk, Virginia for one glorious year. To celebrate, I compiled a travel guide with all my favorite restaurants, cafes, and things to do in town!

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FOOD

BREAKFAST

Yorgo's: If you're looking for top notch bagels or vegan breakfast items, you need to go here. Do yourself a favor and order The Peterman, a tofu egg scramble with hash browns, vegan sausage, daiya cheese and red onion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Fruitive: I love Fruitive's juices and smoothies, but they also have delicious superberry bowls, supergrain oatmeal bowls, and gluten-free waffles.

For sweet potato biscuit sandwiches, check out Handsome Biscuit. For a farm-to-table brunch experience, check out Commune.

LUNCH

Zeke's Beans and Bowls: Poke bowls and acai bowls and cold pressed juices, galore! I'm obsessed with Zeke's. The PB&J acai bowl is my typical order (with watermelon juice), but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Jack Brown's: If you're looking for a unique burger, Jack Brown's is the place to go. They offer a huge variety of beer (both bottled and on tap) along with some very interesting burgers. My personal favorite is the Greg Brady, which comes loaded with macaroni and cheese, crushed barbecue chips, and their special house sauce. For an extra bang, add bacon. And if you really feel like having a heart attack, order a fried oreo for dessert. (80/20 is another phenomenal burger bar in the area.)

Grilled Cheese Bistro: This place is more popular than ever now that it's been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are incredible (they offer vegan cheese and gluten-free bread, too!), and their truffle french fries are just as divine.

For traditional sandwiches, check out Pendulum Fine Meats and Taste Unlimited.

DINNER

Orapax: My hunt for savory gluten-free/vegan pizza finally ended with Orapax, and I wasn't disappointed. Their pizza is incredible. They also have traditional Greek dishes, like gyros, dolmades, spanakopita, and hummus. SO GOOD.

Leone's: Jared and I went here for some authentic Italian food, and man oh man, it was divine. The cook is from Italy, and each dish is prepared fresh, from scratch. They also offered gluten-free options, which was great. If the weather is nice, request a table on the rooftop patio.

Press 626: This wine bar in the wonderful Ghent neighborhood has an intimate atmosphere, and the food is delicious (their truffle fries are my favorite). The menu changes on a seasonal basis, but they consistently use fresh, local ingredients. Press is an ideal date night restaurant, and when the weather is nice, make sure snag a table on their small front porch.

For an upscale dining experience, check out Nouvelle, Omar's Carriage House, LeGrand, and Voila.

DRINKS

The Birch: One of the main reasons I love The Birch is because they serve mead. I LOVE MEAD. It's tasty. They also have a ton of craft beer, cider, and beautiful charcuterie boards...and the atmosphere is so warm and cozy. I dig it.

Mermaid Winery: This charming little winery offers wine flights, cheese platters, and delicious entrees. The baked brie is UNREAL.

For fancy cocktails, check out Saint Germain. For rooftop drinks, check out Grain. For craft beer, check out O'Connor, Benchtop, and Coelocanth.

CAFES

Cure Coffeehouse: Good coffee is truly the way to my heart, even though I can't drink it on a regular basis. I love Cure's location in Freemason, and the vibe is on-point when I need to get work done. They also have great food. (Afterwards, head over to Hummingbird for some French macarons!)

Cold Pressed: This place has incredible superfood lattes. The matcha latte is my favorite, but I'm slowly working my way down the menu...I need to try everything! They also serve cold-pressed juices, smoothies, immunity shots, and a variety of awesome food.

Cafe Stella: Stella has great coffee and food (the brown rice salmon bowl is my go-to order!), but my favorite part of this cafe is the warm ambiance. I love sitting outside when the weather is nice.

For dessert-style lattes, check out Fair Grounds (I'm obsessed with their hazelnut almond milk latte).

THINGS TO DO

Catch the sunset. If you want a killer view of the sunset, go to Pagoda Garden or Plum Point Park. From these vantage points, you can watch the sky morph into beautiful shades of pink, orange, and red. There's something about a good sunset that makes me feel hella lucky to be alive.

See a concert at The Norva. The Norva was voted one of the best music venues in the country in 2014, and for good reason. The venue is small and intimate, and their lineup is consistently fantastic. I've seen dozens of shows here, but my favorites so far have been Grouplove, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Passion Pit, Foster The People, The Shins, and Jon Bellion.

Visit the Chrysler Museum of Art. I'm not a huge art fanatic, but there's something so calming and peaceful about walking around art museums. I've seen some pretty cool exhibits at the Chrysler. They currently have a "First 100 Years at NASA Langley" exhibit that I'm dying to go see.

Take a walk around Town Point Park. When the weather is nice, I love strolling around Town Point Park. It's right on the water, and the saltwater breeze is so relaxing. In the summer, live music events are held here (I saw The Revivalists last year!). 

Go shopping along Colley Ave. There are so many cute boutiques on Colley! A. Dodson's, Le Marche, and Bridget's are some of my favorites.

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