How to Choose the Right Hiking Shoes for Your Next Summer Adventure

Hiking near Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Hiking near Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Are you swapping poolside cocktails for sandy hiking trails this summer? If so, you’re going to need to rethink your footwear, because comfortable sandals aren’t going to cut it.

Hiking shoes and hiking boots aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of footwear, as the type of hiking shoe you need all depends on what you want it for. It sounds tricky, but as long as you know what you’re looking for you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the perfect boot.

Here are some of the best and most popular types of hiking footwear that would be ideal for an adventurous summer of hiking.

What Kind of Shoe Do I Need?

Hiking shoes: Low-cut hiking shoes with flexible midsoles are perfect for your average day of hiking and backpacking. Backpackers also swear by trail-running shoes for long-distance journeys.

Day hiking boots: Mid- to high-cut models of day hiking boots are ideal for day hikes or short backpacking trips, just as long as your load isn’t too heavy. The best part of day hiking boots is that they’re flexible and don’t need a lot of time or effort to break in. The only downside is that they lack the support and durability of stout backpacking boots, which would be better suited for longer trips or heavier loads.

Backpacking boots: Backpacking boots are perfect for heavier loads, especially if you are embarking on a multi-day adventure deep into the backcountry. You’re likely carrying everything you’ll be wearing and using on your back, so you want to make sure your boots help you handle the extra weight. Most backpacking boots are designed to have a high cut that wraps above the ankles, which provide excellent support for on-or off-trail travels.

How should they fit?

Once you have the right hiking boots, you need to ensure that they fit you like a glove. They’ll likely have a somewhat different fit than your favorite supportive sneakers, but that’s to be expected. You’re using the shoes for very different purposes, after all!

Make sure you try your hiking boots on at the end of a long day (a prime time, as that’s when your feet are more likely to swell) with the exact socks you will be wearing. They should fit like a second skin, while feeling snug but not too tight. The rule is that if you don’t have room to wiggle your toes, then they’re too tight!

Get the right size. Getting the right size is extremely important. We recommend having your foot's length, width, arch length and volume measured by a specialist – preferably by the same people you’re buying the shoes from. You can double-check the fit by pulling the insoles out and standing on them. Ideally, you should have a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the insole.

Wear appropriate socks. Make sure the thickness of the socks will be exactly the same as the ones you intend to wear on your hike. We suggest taking the exact ones to the shops to avoid any mistakes. As for the type of socks, we recommend synthetic as opposed to slow-drying cotton socks, as the latter are more likely to give you blisters.

Wear them in. Don’t wait for your hike to take them out of the box for the first time. Hiking boots should be properly worn in, so walk in them whenever possible. Try finding an inclined surface and walk up and down on it, or scale your stairs a few times a day. The more surfaces you try, the better!

Know your knots. The way you lace up your boots can affect their fit quite dramatically, so make sure you’re familiar with the different types of knots to guarantee the best fit possible. The surgeon’s knot is great for keeping your heel from slipping, while window lacing can alleviate pressure points on the top of your foot. Toe-relief lacing is a great makeshift remedy to get you back to the trailhead.

Do your homework. Trying on boots from several brands at the store is always a great idea. But if you must shop online, it’s advised that you go with a brand you’ve worn before, as the sizing will generally be consistent. You don’t want to order a pair of boots that don’t fit properly.

Most importantly, have fun! Summer hikes are always a great opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy some peace and quiet. Being comfortable while doing it will just make the experience all the more special.

*This post provided by Taos Footwear.

Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In Boulder, Colorado

BOULDER, COLORADO

Hotel Boulderado’s historic stained-glass ceiling lobby.

Hotel Boulderado’s historic stained-glass ceiling lobby.

Background: I’ve actually lived in Boulder, Colorado before, so it was a treat to be invited back by the historic Boulderado Hotel for a stay recently. You can read my full feature on that adventure here. Below I’ve also offered other options for things to do in the area in case you want to explore the city a little more than I did on my last stay. My outfits and restaurant choices below are featured strictly from my Boulderado stay. If you’d like other eating or entertainment recommendations for Boulder, send me a message on Instagram.

Hotel Boulderado’s   Historic King Suite   features victorian-era decor throughout.

Hotel Boulderado’s Historic King Suite features victorian-era decor throughout.

What I Wore: Outfit one is a white dress like this one from Banana Republic. I love their line because they offer petite sizing and classic looks. My shoes are throwback Jessica Simpson patent white pumps that I’ve had for a couple of years. Browse pumps like mine here. I wore a pair of pearls to complete this classic look.

Outfit two is a vintage 60s gogo-style cutout floral print dress worn with black Jellypop Mozart Wedges (a $13 steal right now for summer!) and a pair of pink tassel bow earrings. I couldn’t find my exact earrings (bought them about a year ago) but browse similar styles here.

Hotel Boulderado has a mix of historic and modern decor with lush, fun furniture pieces on every floor.

Hotel Boulderado has a mix of historic and modern decor with lush, fun furniture pieces on every floor.

What I Did: You can see much of Boulder in just one day. I recommend hiking Boulder’s beautiful Chautauqua area near the Flatirons, wandering the downtown shopping district Pearl Street Mall, checking out University of Colorado at Boulder’s incredible campus, walking the downtown Boulder Creek path, snagging some fresh produce at the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, or taking a Celestial Seasonings tea tour (the Peppermint room is my favorite part!).

waking up at hotel boulderado with their plush bathrobes and other luxury amenities.

waking up at hotel boulderado with their plush bathrobes and other luxury amenities.

What I Ate: I stopped for a glass of Cabernet at Boulderado’s The Corner Bar before dining at the farm-to-table fresh Spruce Farm & Fish restaurant for dinner. At Spruce, I sampled the Blue Crab Cakes appetizer (delightful and paired with citrus), the Sweet Pea & Mint Linguini (phenomenally fresh with a soft poached egg and delectable English peas), and the Crème Brûlée (a tasty rich custard with fresh berries and a perfectly caramelized top). It was a seriously incredible meal.

After dinner, I headed downstairs to the hotel’s speakeasy, License No. 1, where I sipped one of the bar’s specialty cocktails, the Boulder Mule. Served in a copper mug, the delightfully refreshing drink is a combination of vodka, St. George pear liqueur, house ginger cordial, and vanilla ginger syrup perfect for summer. License No. 1 has an entire book of custom cocktails, some spirit-heavy; others floral focused or sweet. You can read more about my wining and dining adventures on this trip here.

The historic check-in area at Hotel Boulderado.

The historic check-in area at Hotel Boulderado.

Where I Stayed: In the Historic King Suite at Hotel Boulderado. This suite features Victorian-era decor, a spacious sitting area with amenities like fresh spring water, and plush Boca bathrobes perfect for winding down or starting your day. The floral wallpaper, iron headboard, and soft colors of the room add to the suite’s beautiful decor details while the room’s vintage desk area allowed me to get some much needed work done before exploring the rest of my stay. Hotel Boulderado was the first luxury hotel built in Boulder, Colorado and it remains one of the top places to stay in the city. Learn more about it in my full feature on Hotel Boulderado here.

See more of my travel guides here and make sure to connect with me on Instagram!

Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In Cologne, Germany

COLOGNE, GERMANY

Aboard a   KD Rhine     cruise.

Aboard a KD Rhine cruise.

What I Wore: These black H&M Crêped Print Pants with a white crop top like this one, and these AMAZING Eurosoft Rayelle Wedge Sandals. I wore a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket for the water cruise since it can be breezy on the river, but I’d recommend any of their jackets.

What I Did: Saw the Koelner Dom, took a Rhine River boat tour with KD Rhine, and explored the Cologne shopping district. I was here for less than 24 hours so this is all I managed to fit in!

What I Ate: Funkhaus Cafe had a seriously delectable bread and cheese breakfast plate. I liked it so much I had it twice- once when I arrived in Cologne and once before I left for the train the next morning. It’s very close to the Cologne train station and Koelner Dom, so it’s a convenient eatery. If you can snag a table outside, it’s great for people-watching too!

I had dinner at the Brauhaus Reissdorf, which was right across from where I stayed in Cologne. It poured rain during our dinner, but we sat on a covered outdoor patio with brews and had a blast. The staff were very friendly and helped me practice ordering my dinner in German becuase they wanted to and not because I asked. It was a great, local, no-frills joint.

At the 70s style flat.

At the 70s style flat.

Where I Stayed: Benno’s Stylish Attic in the Center of Cologne Airbnb- Benno’s fantastic apartment has a spacious bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Benno is in the film industry and his apartment is full of fun film relics and 70s-era styles. Though we weren’t here much, Benno is the reason we decided on Brauhaus Reissdorf for dinner. Benno is a superhost for a reason! I’d definitely stay here again.

See more of my travel guides here and make sure to connect with me on Instagram!

Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In Amsterdam, Netherlands

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

I love the architecture here!

I love the architecture here!

What I Wore: I wore these black skinny jeans, a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket but I’d recommend any of their jackets, a basic striped H&M jersey top, an oversized scarf, and these Steve Madden black slip-ons. For nighttime, I wore a sundress like this one with these Eurosoft Rayelle Wedge Sandals and the aforementioned jacket and scarf. Since I was backpacking around, I did a lot of rotating the same wardrobe on my European adventure.

What I Did: Wandered the flower market, took an early evening canal tour with Lovers Cruise (it rained so we did a closed-boat cruise), walked to Dam Square for photos, saw the Anne Frank house, had ice cream on a canal bank, toured a few free local art galleries, and went out in the evening near the Red Light District.

My lunch at   De Koffie Schenkerij  .

What I Ate: I stopped for a sandwich and pie at De Koffie Schenkerij for lunch- it was a lovely find! We ate in their outdoor garden area which is near a canal and was very peaceful. I also recommend stopping in Amsterdam’s Chinatown on your next visit- dim sum at Oriental City was delicious.

Where I Stayed: XO Hotels City Centre- This was a tidy spot on the edge of the Red Light District, which is where the most activity happens in the evenings if you want to explore Amsterdam’s night scene. It was clean and small but certainly nothing special. I chose it because it is within walking distance of a lot that I wanted to see and do, but I wasn’t in the room much. It’s a short walk from the main train station, canal tours, and a lot of the city’s attractions.

See more of my travel guides here and make sure to connect with me on Instagram.

Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In Paris & Versailles, France

PARIS & VERSAILLES, FRANCE

Paris is for lovers.

Paris is for lovers.

What I Wore: In Paris, black H&M Crêped Print Pants with a white crop top like this one, and these AMAZING Eurosoft Rayelle Wedge Sandals. In Versailles for the all-day walking tour, these black skinny jeans, a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket but I’d recommend any of their jackets, a nude H&M tank, an oversized scarf, and these Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Madison in Ox Black/Wolf Grey/White. Sunnies from H&M. Since I was backpacking around, I did a lot of rotating the same wardrobe on my European adventure.

What I Did: Read my five favorite things about Paris here. Had a dinner picnic at Champ de Mars, took an Eiffel Tower tour to the top (worth the views!), did a walking tour of Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, The Louvre, Sacré-Cœur, Galeries Lafayette, Pont des Arts, Moulin Rouge, and viewed several exhibits at Halle Saint Pierre Gallery; did a full Palace of Versaille walking tour featuring stops at the Royal Gardens, Hall of Mirrors, King’s Apartment, Queen’s Apartment, Royal Chapel, Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, and ending with a Royal Garden Fountain Show (Sundays only so book accordingly!). I wanted to see everything I could here and it was so worth it- it took the entire day and round trip was about six miles. Great exercise and so fun!

Picnicking at sunset.

Picnicking at sunset.

What I Ate: Picnic at Paris’ Champ de Mars; dinner at La Place Creperie in Versailles. For the Paris picnic, we just stopped at a Franprix and picked up apples, French cheeses, smoked salmon, cucumber, chips, and wine. It was quite honestly one of my favorite meals on my entire European adventure. I highly recommend picnicking at Champ de Mars if you can- at dusk the Eiffel Tower lights turn on and it’s such a splendid time. A true highlight!

Where I Stayed: I can’t recommend where I stayed because I got bed bugs!! It was awful. I’ll be writing about that adventure soon so stay tuned!

Read my five favorite things about Paris here, see more of my travel guides here, and make sure to connect with me on Instagram!


Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In London, U.K.

LONDON, U.K.

At Abbey Road Studios.

At Abbey Road Studios.

What I Wore: A creme button-up crop top like this one with these ankle cropped, hem-cut Just USA jeans from Stitchfix, a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket (but I’d recommend any of their jackets here), an oversized scarf, and these Steve Madden black slip-ons. Since I was backpacking around, I did a lot of rotating the same wardrobe on my European adventure.

What I Did: A walking tour of Abbey Road Studios & Gift Shop, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Camden Market, Big Ben (currently under construction until 2021 FYI!), Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, and the London Eye.

Love the hems on these   Just USA jeans  .

Love the hems on these Just USA jeans.

What I Ate: Fish & chips (duh!) with a Guinness at a classic English pub. I love grabbing Guinness overseas because they pour it correctly and that makes all the difference! The best part of this dish was that it came with a side of dipping curry for the fish, a treat which I learned is pretty standard in London pubs for this dish. It was amazing! I also ate at a lovely Indian restaurant near Camden Market. If you’re into Indian cuisine, check out Brick Lane’s curry restaurants. They often barter with each other outside just to get you to come in to their shop! And finally, if you’ve yet to try an English grilled Halloumi sandwich, it’s a must on your next British excursion. My favorite was at The Ivy Cafe in St. John’s Wood.

A grilled halloumi at the ivy cafe.

A grilled halloumi at the ivy cafe.

Where I Stayed: Paula’s Cosy Home on Airbnb- This beautiful little house had a kitchenette and bathroom in the lower level with a queen bed in the upstairs loft accessible by a spiral staircase. It was perfect for a two-person stay and a quick walk, bus ride, or Uber to the Underground to explore London. Paula is also an excellent host!

See more of my travel guides here and make sure to connect with me on Instagram!


Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do In Brussels, Belgium

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

Grand Place.

Grand Place.

What I Wore: Depending on the day, sundresses like this one with a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket (but I’d recommend any of their jackets here), a nude H&M tank with these black skinny jeans, an oversized scarf with either outfit, these Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Madison in Ox Black/Wolf Grey/White with the jeans, and these AMAZING Eurosoft Rayelle Wedge Sandals with the sundresses. These gladiator-style sandals were actually my shoe staple for my June trip around Europe. They are fashionable enough to dress up or down, are incredibly comfortable, and even have a slight heel! Fave. Since I was backpacking around, I did a lot of rotating the same wardrobe on my European adventure.

What I Did: You can read my five favorite things to do in Brussels here!

What I Ate: Chocolate from several of the chocolatiers in the Sablon, Belgian beer from The Delirium Cafe, waffles from street merchants near Mannekin Pis, and a tasty Italian gnocchi dinner at Gabbiani Reali. The chef even came out to watch us take our first bite and make sure we liked it! It was fabulous.

Where I Stayed: The White Coloured Studio Avenue Henri Dietrich Airbnb. This was one of my favorite stays of the trip. Though it was a necessary 13-minute Uber ride away from Grand Place, it was roomy, clean, and cool. The host provides amazing little amenities throughout the room like makeup remover pads, tons of books and maps on nearby activities, and extra linens. It was a spacious studio setup and easy entry.

See more of my travel guides here and make sure to connect with me on Instagram!


Travel Guide: What I Wore & Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium

BRUGES, BELGIUM

The Bruges Belfort Clocktower.

The Bruges Belfort Clocktower.

What I Wore: I visited Bruges, Belgium in early June. Since it’s not too far inland, it was a cool temperature at this time of year (50s Fahrenheit). It was cloudy but it did not rain during my stay. I wore these black skinny jeans, a vintage Garage Bomber Jacket but I’d recommend any of their jackets, a nude H&M tank, an oversized scarf, and these Steve Madden black slip on sneakers. All of these items were staples since I backpacked around Europe for 2 weeks. I took almost everything in very similar color tones to have an easy mix and match (a lot of black, white, and gray with accessories that served as a pop of color, though I’m rocking the all-black lewk in this photo). Since I was backpacking around, I did a lot of rotating the same wardrobe on my European adventure.

What I Did: I visited Bruges’ Markt, Burg Square, climbed the Belfort Clocktower (totally worth it!), entered the Basilica of Holy Blood, and saw the Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo at the Church of Our Lady (so beautiful!). Of course we had a photoshoot at the famous Rozenhoedkaai too! It’s truly picture perfect and everyone waits to take their photo there.

Best. Brunch. Ever.

Best. Brunch. Ever.

What I Ate: Books & Brunch had one of the best brunches I’ve ever had!! Just look at that spread!

Where I Stayed: Hotel Biskajer was a lovely spot to park for the night. The room was very small but tidy and comfortable. The gentleman working the front desk was very friendly, gave us some local tips on things to do, and even called us a taxi to the train station once we’d checked out. While we waited, he made us coffee! This hotel does not allow children but it’s perfect for singles and couples to stay. It’s in walking distance of everything I did.

See more of my travel guides here. Have you been to Bruges? Tell me your favorite spots by connecting with me on Instagram!


Denver's Inaugural Grandoozy Music Festival an Overall Success

Life at the ‘Dooz.

Life at the ‘Dooz.

Last weekend, Superfly Presents- the brainchild behind events like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands- showcased their first major Denver music festival: Grandoozy. The three-day musical extravaganza featured headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Hip-hop and indie rock were the mainstay genres for the weekend, with notable performances by De La Soul, Mavis Staples, Miguel, Phoenix, Snow Tha Product, St. Vincent, The War On Drugs, Young The Giant, and more.

From the start, I was very impressed with Grandoozy’s inclusion of Denver businesses, musicians, and artists. Whether you had the chance to pick up some exclusive merch from Topo Designs or Kleen Kanteen, catch Dragondeer or Gasoline Lollipops at one of the main stages, or wander by the live murals by Rum Tum Creations or Dink C, the Mile High was well represented across all areas of the fest. Local vendors made up the food and beverage curation as well- Denver restaurants, food trucks, and breweries were everywhere. Some of my favorite treats from the weekend were from Elysian Brewing (pumpkin beer!), Habit Donut Dispensary, Mac N’ Noodles, and Stoney’s Bar and Grill.

Another fantastic part of the festival were the entrance times. I never waited in line more than 1-2 minutes, which was great! With the clear bag policy in place, security did not seem to be too overwhelmed with bag checks, which made for a smooth entrance inside, and from what a lot of festival attendees mentioned, the feeling of a “safer” festival experience. Exit was equally easy at night.

Grandoozy also delivered on the Colorado mantra, “Pack In, Pack Out.” The grounds were meticulously clean upon arrival, and throughout the fest each day. There were trash, recycling, and compost bins everywhere and even during the headliners, I saw volunteers collecting items around patrons to make for an easy exit. The flushable porta-potties were equally clean, with staff regularly ensuring their sanitation. There were water stations to actually wash your hands at too (not just that Purell life!) which was great.

Speaking of water though, there were not enough well-marked drinking water stations this year. I heard complaints from many attendees that they had given up at times and just bought bottled water when they failed to find the areas to refill. Since this is expensive and not environmentally friendly, it would be awesome to see Grandoozy provide more of these stations in better marked areas next year, especially if we’re once again chasing 94-degree heat.

Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics   here  .

Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics here.

The transportation piece of Grandoozy was complex. Though there wasn’t any parking at the festival, Grandoozy did provide shuttles from the I-25 Broadway light rail station. I took the light rail to this stop each day and the shuttle time to the festival grounds was 20 minutes or less, even on Friday during rush hour. To get home each night, I then took a walking path out of the Jewell exit over to the Evans Street Station. The first night, my crew and I hopped the wooden fence behind the festival exit and walked through a neighborhood to get to the station. I got a splinter from the fence, it was a poorly lit path, and there was not a lot of security on this route. The second night, the wooden fence had been removed and my group proceeded to walk through the same neighborhood, which was now well-lit with generator lights provided by the festival and security. This route was quick and felt safer with  these additions, but unfortunately, some festival goers disrespected residents’ property in this neighborhood. For this reason, on the third night, all neighborhood access was shut down with a heavier police presence and caution tape. This time, we were directed down a very long walking path, which eventually spit us out on the overpass near the rail station. Because this particular path was so extended compared to the neighborhood route on previous nights, my group almost missed our train. Obviously, transportation issues were being worked on by the festival each night for success, but moving forward, if required exit paths are established, it would be great if Grandoozy’s mobile application provided these directions and instructions with estimated walking times so attendees can plan accordingly. Also to note- the Uber and Lyft rideshare drop-offs were reportedly very complicated, and though I didn’t use them, I’m sure the festival will look at these options very closely to improve for next year.

Finally, Superfly, I have to ask: Paper tickets?! In 2018?! This is the one piece that has got to go. Any music festival I’ve ever attended uses wristbands- they’re easy to put on (especially if they’re mailed in advance), they’re hard to lose (even after a few drinks), and they typically allow one to come and go during a festival (Grandoozy was a no re-entry situation). Best case in my book would be a festival utilizing the blockchain for tickets; otherwise wristbands are a must.

Overall, Grandoozy’s inaugural year was a fantastic start with minor hiccups that are to be expected with a festival of this magnitude as close to 60,000 people attended. It was great to see so much of Denver incorporated, and it will be interesting to see how people and the the festival organizers continue to develop Grandoozy’s culture. Like frontman Thomas Mars said during Phoenix’s Friday evening set, “This is the first year of Grandoozy, right? You can make this festival whatever you want…” So what will you make it Colorado?

See more posts from my Grandoozy experience on my Instagram.


Roadtrip Essentials to Take You Anywhere

Views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos, NM.

Views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos, NM.

I recently went on a roadtrip with my mom to Taos, New Mexico and came back obsessed with “The Land of Enchantment.” On our way there, I decided to jot down my roadtrip essentials for you! Here they are:

Your Favorite Sunnies

Driving through the desert was a blast, but I would have hated doing it without my favorite pair of sunnies. Protect your eyes and make sure to wear a comfortable pair for long treks. I like any of these from Poppy Apparel and you can get 10% off your order with my code blondontherun10 at checkout!

Water

After you’ve filled up your gas tank, grab some water! It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when you’re traveling. Right now, I really love HINT water, which has a “hint” of fruit in it without any weird sugars or chemicals. Check them out here!

At the Rio Grande Bridge in Taos, NM.

At the Rio Grande Bridge in Taos, NM.

Phone Charger

If your car doesn’t have a USB in it to charge your phone on the road, I recommend grabbing one of these charging blocks from Amazon. This one holds five charges and I take it everywhere when I travel. I usually need Google maps and other travel apps, so a full battery is essential for my life on the go.

Good Tunes

Pass the AUX. But before you do, make sure your driving buddy has made a great playlist for the open road ahead. If you need help making one, Spotify has lots of great options for road trips here!

AAA Card

This one may sound too practical, but I can’t tell you how thankful I’ve been to have my AAA membership several times! Just about $80 a year gets you roadside assistance, free tows, bicycle assistance, and more services if you’re in the US. The first time I changed a tire, I YouTubed it. Now, I just call AAA. It’s great as a single woman traversing around to know I can count on their services if I need them. Honestly, it just makes roadtrips that much less worrisome, since you know AAA will take care of you if something comes up. You can sign up for a membership here.

Now it’s time to tell me your summer road trip necessities- comment them on this post! See more posts from my roadtrip on my Instagram.


Why You Need to Experience Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Hanging in the pit before a recent Red Rocks show.

Hanging in the pit before a recent Red Rocks show.

If you’re a Coloradoan, chances are you’ve been to a Red Rocks show. And if you haven’t, what’s stopping you?!

Red Rocks is one of the premiere concert venues in the world, and not just for its views. The acoustics of this place are magical for music lovers and performers alike. Recently, Vance Joy even shared with me backstage that Red Rocks is “the best venue in the whole world!” Although it’s in my backyard, I have to agree.

If you’re curious about the history of Red Rocks, I highly encourage you to read more about this geological masterpiece here and consider visiting outside of concert hours. They have a grill and gift shop where you can find out more about this iconic place and even see a list of every band who has ever played the stage in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame (the Beatles show is always a fave find).

A sold-out Red Rocks crowd.

A sold-out Red Rocks crowd.

If concerts aren’t your thing (then I’m not sure how you found me? they’re half my life but... ) Red Rocks also hosts movies and yoga at the venue. These are special treats (I’ve done both!) so keep an eye out for them.

And finally, if you’re a music lover, keep up with Red Rocks’ schedule here and buy your tickets while the season lasts! It’s one of my favorite places to be in Colorado and people travel from all over the country to see shows here.

You can check out some of my Red Rocks concert photos at this link and find more of my experiences from the rocks on my Instagram. Make sure to tell me about your favorite times on the rocks by commenting on my pics!


How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Trip to Los Angeles

I Love LA.

I Love LA.

Los Angeles is a massive city known around the world for its art, music, culture, history, and so much more. Every time I travel to other countries, a popular question they ask me about the US is, “Have you ever been to L.A.?” It’s a place as famous as its celebrities!

That said, there are so many things to do in the City of Angels that planning a trip there can be overwhelming! Here are the tips I use every time I plan an adventure to L.A.:

Are you looking for a relaxing trip or an active trip?

L.A. honestly has it all. If you’re looking to relax, its luxury spas, beautiful beaches, and amazing shopping could make an awesome trip! If you’re looking for something more active though, ask yourself what’s most important for you to see? Are you wanting to walk around Hollywood? Travel to Disneyland? Cruise the Sunset Strip? Tour Beverly Hills? Of course you can fit many of these into a few days, but start planning your trip by prioritizing what it is you want to see most and going from there. You want to squeeze as much in as you can, but you still want to be able to enjoy what you’re doing. It’s a balance.

Are you renting a car or using public transportation?

This is a huge factor when traveling to any city, but especially to Los Angeles because of their insane traffic! Los Angeles is a place I personally don’t find to be great in the public transportation department so I often rent a car or Lyft to where I want to go. You can even get $5 or more off your next Lyft by using my referral code blondontherun! Whatever you decide, factor in the time it takes to get around because it may be more than you’d think just to travel a few miles in this city! Cruising from Hollywood to Sunset Boulevard to Santa Monica Pier to Manhattan Beach is doable (I’ve done it!) but you’ll want to go at the right traffic times to get everything in on your list.

Stay near what you want to see!

With so much traffic and so little time, it can often be a huge advantage in L.A. to snag an AirBnB or hotel near a cluster of the sites you want to see. Whether you’re looking to catch some time at the Getty and then cruise to Hollywood or visit Venice Beach before heading up Ocean Avenue, it’s worth booking something close to a few things you want to do on your trip. Walking distance is an even bigger bonus! Use my referral code here for $40 off your next AirBnB!

Look up other sites around your ticketed events.

This tip is another huge time and transport saver. Maybe you’re catching a game at Dodgers Stadium or maybe you’re planning a backstage tour at Paramount Studios. Whatever the events are that you’re planning to do for sure, to make the most out of getting somewhere in this city, look up what’s in walking distance of your ticketed events and do them! There is no better way to maximize your time and get the most out of your L.A. trip than to use this trick! I use it most places I go, but especially in Los Angeles, so I can spend as much time on my feet and out of my car as possible.

Mix up museums with other fun sites.

L.A. has so. many. museums. Fine art, history, the tar pits, Madame Tussauds- museums are honestly everywhere! While I absolutely think you should check some out, don’t be the person who gets stuck spending your entire trip in museums (unless that’s what you’re in to). You’ll miss out on seeing a lot of the actual city if you spend it all inside and there’s something about Los Angeles that makes me want to be out soaking up the sun. You should definitely make room for a museum or two- they’re some of the best you’ll find in the world. But make sure you also get out and see iconic parts of the city, the beaches, and the local neighborhood joints that make community in L.A. special.

There's nowhere like Los Angeles, so have fun booking your next adventure to the West Coast! I go several times a year and I still can't get enough!


The Five Things I Loved The Most About Paris

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Often referred to as The City of Lights or The City of Love, Paris is well known for its mystical vibes. Here are my favorite things about the enchanting city:

The Fashion

Paris is quite fashionable, whether you’re talking about its citizens, the amount of shopping the city has available, or the fact that it is one of several cities known worldwide for its modeling and fashion events. Sporting your favorite yoga pants will be laughable here, so make sure to browse my guide for dressing in Europe before you jetset over! If you missed it and you’ve already landed, I recommend dropping by Galeries Lafayette to pick up something a little more dressy. Even your most “I only shop online” friends will be impressed by the architecture of this space, and it doesn’t hurt that the galeries feature some of the most luxurious and famous brands in the entire world.

The Food

French cuisine is exquisite, and I found both cheap and more gourmet examples of this. After dining at delicious cafes and restaurants, I stopped by a market near the Eiffel Tower and picked out a selection of fruits, cheeses, crisps, a baguette, and wine which made for a fantastic picnic at Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. This was one of my favorite experiences of my entire Paris visit and my whole meal cost around 20 euro! You can find delectable pastries and sandwiches just about anywhere too, and what’s Paris without trying a croissant?  

The Architecture

There are a number of incredible sites to see in Paris just for their architecture, like the Gothic-style Notre-Dame de Paris, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, and of course, The Eiffel Tower! You’ll also notice the style of the buildings throughout a large part of Paris feature balconies with French doors, which are great for snagging fun photos on like the one featured on this page.

The Art

Obviously, Paris is known for the Louvre. But if you’re not wanting to wait in the lines that Beyonce and Jay-Z paid to skip, there are plenty of other art spots in Paris to check out. I had a beautiful afternoon at the Halle St-Pierre in the Montmartre area, where I wandered a Balkans exhibition before making my way outside and walking across the street to the The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. So whether you’re looking for a specific artist’s work (like the Dali Museum) or just an afternoon escape from the rain (that was my sitch!), Paris has the perfect place for you.

Walking Tours

Depending on where you’re headed in the city, like most metropolises in Europe, Paris is very walkable. In just the span of one day, I saw the Notre-Dame de Paris, Pont de l'Archevêché, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, the Galeries Lafayette, Halle St-Pierre, The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Champ de Mars, and the Eiffel Tower. Plus throw a couple of great cafe stops in there and a night picnic while the Eiffel Tower lit up! I recommend mapping out the main sites you want to see on your walk and then using TripAdvisor to pull up other things near your main plans. That’s one way I was able to see so much in so little time- strategy! That and a couple of delicious cappuccinos…


The Top Five Things To Do In Brussels On Your Next Belgium Adventure

Grand Place.

Grand Place.

Brussels has a lot of character and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Book your next European adventure with Brussels in the mix and make sure to stop at these spots: 

5. See the Mannekin Pis

The Mannekin Pis is said to embody the “rebellious spirit” of Brussels and is definitely a must-see purely for iconic reasons. You’ll find replicas of him everywhere in the city, from magnets to wine openers, so it’s worth wandering through Grand Place to find him. He’s smaller than you’d think! The city dresses him up regularly (in over 900 suits) and bonus if you find his counterpart, the female Jeanneke Pis.

4. Grab a Belgian Beer

It goes without saying that you’ve got to grab a Belgian beer while in Brussels! Belgium is known worldwide for their brewing and the number of beers you’ll find on tap around town are almost endless. The Delirium Cafe was one of my favorite stops for a brew and their beer is a staple you’ll find at most pubs so be sure to stop in if you can!

3. The Waffles

This is a country that has an entire morning treat named after them and for good reason! From street-style spots like Le Funambule to the more refined styles of Maison Dandoy, Belgium waffles are a crispy, sugary delight. The toppings you’ll find for them are truly limitless- from classic powdered sugar to Nutella and fruit toppings. Surprisingly, you won’t find syrup as the standard way to eat these treats but don’t fear- there are plenty of other options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Just look at all these options...

Just look at all these options...

2. The Chocolate

I ate my way through my recent Eurotrip, and I’d encourage you to do the same! Using TripAdvisor makes it easy to find cheap eats, keeping your meals (and treats!) very affordable. Let your palate be adventurous! The chocolate and truffles in Belgium are found best at the speciality shops around the place du petit sablon. You won’t be disappointed! Especially if you’re a chocoholic like me.

1. Get a Picture in Grand Place

In city center, you’ll find Grand Place, a beautiful market square that has been important to the city since the 10th century. From fires to beheadings, this square has stood the test of time and now it’s a popular spot to chill in, especially around sunset. At night, the place has beautiful lights adorning the outside of its buildings and is my favorite time to grab a picture. If you’re there during in August during the Flower Carpet in the square, it’s an added photo bonus!
 


Don't Miss Seeing a Castle On Your Next Irish Getaway

Kilkenny Castle.

Kilkenny Castle.

If you plan on traveling to Ireland, castles are a major part of the country’s landscape. Whether they’re roadside ruins, highly preserved landmarks, or hotels where you can kick back and relax, while you’re visiting the country of shamrocks, catch a castle!

On my trip to Ireland, I saw a number of castles, some better preserved than others. But no matter what state the royal stones were in, there was a real magic to knowing how old these places were! Much of Ireland’s castles were constructed between the late 1100s-1500s. It’s powerful to set foot on the grounds of something that ancient and imagine what life was like back then. Not to mention it’s amazing so many are still in existence centuries later! My Game of Thrones thirst at these castles was real.

While in Ireland, my favorite castle toured was the Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny, located just a short train ride from Dublin, is a medieval town full of historic architecture. Among its ancient buildings sits its crown, the Kilkenny Castle. I arrived at the castle near closing time and was given a major discount on admission but it meant I had to high-tail it through the massive structure fast! The staff were vacuuming for the end of the day close behind me…

First built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke in the 13th century, Kilkenny Castle became the home of the prominent Butler family for over 600 years after Marshal’s death. There are several rooms open to the public, as well as the castle’s ornate courtyard and grounds. The most eye-catching room of all, however, is the Picture Gallery Wing, where the paintings of various Butler family members now reside. The room has wooden floors, a marble fireplace, and a painted timber ceiling. It’s pretty magnificent and where I spent the longest part of my quick tour.

After exiting, I ran around the grounds imagining how crazy it is that someone once called this their backyard. The outside of the castle is a must for those Insta photo opps!

Planning your own Irish getaway? Get a full list of castles to see throughout the country here!


Kauai From the Sky Is the Best Way to Experience the Garden Isle

UPDATE: After the floods in Kauai in April 2018, there is much to be repaired on this beautiful island. Please consider donating to the relief efforts here.

Kauai, the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii, is a very lush island covered in tropical rainforests. Much of the island is protected with the Na Pali Coast State Park and the Waimea Canyon State Park. The island’s origins are volcanic, wild chickens roam freely in city and rural areas, and the island has dozens of waterfalls scattered throughout its mountainous climate. If these reasons still haven’t sold you on why you should adventure in Kauai, just look at these pictures of the Na Pali Coast. You’ll never want to leave its beauty!

Just before takeoff!

Just before takeoff!

Several Hollywood films have used Kauai as a location, including South Pacific, Lilo & Stitch, the first Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost ArkTropic Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blue Hawaii, and The Descendants. Once you’ve seen this island, it’s easy to see why it’s been a scouted as a tropical paradise so many times!

My favorite way to see as much of the island as possible in a short amount of time is by helicopter, and more specifically, with Kauai’s Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. With business class style seats, two-way communication with your pilot, and a chopper that is mostly glass for your viewing pleasure, explore Kauai in luxury! The ECO Tour, which is the one I did, includes a flight around Hanapepe Valley, Manawaiopuna (also known as Jurassic Park falls!), and Olokele Canyon which eventually opens into the sweeping views of Waimea Canyon. This area is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it’s breathtaking! My favorite part of the ride was along the Na Pali Coast, where we caught a few rainbows out over the ocean and swooped across the shoreline near the Bali Hai Cliffs and Hanalei Bay. Most tours will even visit Mount Waialeale, which is the old volcano that helped form this island.

A Na Pali Coast shot from my window.

A Na Pali Coast shot from my window.

I had an absolute blast talking to my pilot the entire tour too- he used to fly in the military and now flies the Kauai skies as a private pilot. He was extremely knowledgeable about the island and there was plenty of time for questions on our 45-minute tour. My group felt safe from start to finish in the ECO Star chopper and they even filmed our ride. National Geographic has called Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Kauai premiere helicopter tour company for good reason- they offer a safe, professional, luxury tour of Kauai at a very reasonable price.

Kauai really is the sapphire gem of Hawaii’s crown. It’s one of the wettest places on earth due to its annual rainfall, which makes for some crazy biodiversity in its plant life and the view of it from a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter ride is unreal! Fly in luxury and see all the beauties this island holds- you can book your sky tour here today!


Why You Should Book A Submarine Tour On Your Next Tropical Vacation

Exploring the deep blue below!

Exploring the deep blue below!

Kona, Hawaii is known for more than just its coffee. In fact, the Big Island’s city boasts National Park access, the historic Hulihee palace, and even Michael Dell’s $64.7 million home. The city has a lush landscape and its boardwalk shops and restaurants along the coast of Kailua-Kona bay make for a great day of just cruising the coastline if you’re looking to keep it more chill.

But if you’re looking for adventure…

Then here’s why an Atlantis Submarine tour is for you!

After checking in right off the bay, you’ll board a mid-size boat which jets you out to the submarines. The subs are far enough off the coast to take you to shipwreck sites and a coral reef. You’ll spend 45 minutes with 48 other passengers sinking to 100 feet below the water’s surface where you can see Kona like no one else can (unless you’ve got your scuba license).

As you climb down the ladder into the submarine, you’ll be seated at your own personal window so that you can really take in everything the ocean’s going to throw your way. You’ll see schools of fish, crabs, sea turtles, and even dolphins if you’re lucky. There is a wide variety of fish to look at and throughout the trip, your guide will educate you on all of the creatures you come across.

But hold on- if you’re thinking squeezing into a sardine can with 48 other people to look at fish sounds like hell- chill! The seats on Atlantis subs are actually roomy enough to keep you comfortable and the ship is air-conditioned. Plus the tour takes you places you really couldn’t otherwise explore. And when else are you going to be able to say you’ve been on a submarine?

When your tour is over, you’ll board the ship back to the bay and Atlantis will drop you off right on the shore. You’ll leave knowing you’ve seen some rare spots in Kona and hum Beatles tunes all the way home (you know the one).

Not trekking to Kona on your next Hawaiian adventure? No worries- Atlantis offers tours in Maui and Waikiki too. Book your underwater adventure today.


The Top Five Reasons To Snorkel In Hawaii

Snorkeling in Hawaii is paradise.

Snorkeling in Hawaii is paradise.

There’s a whole other world underwater, and Hawaii is the place to see it! With black and white sand beaches, some of the clearest waters in the world, and a variety of coral reef and marine life, Hawaii is a snorkeler’s paradise. Here are the top five reasons you should snorkel on your Hawaiian vacation:

1. The animals! Duh!

Snorkeling will open your eyes to all of the amazing sea life that Hawaii has to offer. Coral reefs, turtles, and tons of fish and marine life surround several of the Hawaiian islands and can be explored just off the beach. Some areas also have the added bonus of whale and dolphin watching, letting you see a ton of beautiful creatures in just one day! On my snorkel tours around Molokini crater and Turtle Bay, which I did over the course of one day, I saw coral reefs, fish, sea urchins, plant and marine life, turtles, dolphins, whales, and more! Most animals I saw in Hawaii were on my snorkeling adventures (except for Kauai’s chickens!), so it’s worth getting your hair wet for.

2. Snorkeling is almost free.

I bought my own cheap Target snorkel set a few years ago and it comes with me on all of my tropical adventures. After trips to the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel, my set has already paid for itself in what would have otherwise been rental fees. But don’t fret if your suitcase can’t handle one more thing! There are plenty of affordable places to rent snorkel gear in Hawaii, from actual snorkel tours to your hotel. Several of the islands have different beach options for snorkeling, so if there isn’t one you can walk to, there’s likely one a short distance away. If you have the funds, splurge on a Molokini Crater snorkel tour with PacWhale Eco-Adventures. It’s a short boat ride from Maui’s shore, but swimming around the volcano crater with Hawaii’s wildlife will be an experience you won’t soon forget. Plus proceeds benefit whale research and your guides are marine biologists who know their stuff!

3. The water is crystal clear.

If you’ve snorkeled in seaweed or dark waters, you know that clear water is a snorkeling MUST. Hawaii’s beaches are full of just that and you can see all the way to the reef floor in some places. In Turtle Bay, I thought I was closer to the reefs than I actually was (which was confirmed by a quick dive down until my ears wouldn’t pop!) just because the water was so clear. You can see so much.

4. The conditions are usually solid year-round.

Yes, Hawaii has seasons even though it’s in the tropics. Winter tends to be rainier; their summer tends to get pretty warm. Wind is really the only factor that will hold you back from a good day of snorkeling though, since it can cause the waves to get choppy and make conditions dangerous. So if you’re spending more than a day or two in Hawaii, it’s likely you’ll have one with snorkel-friendly weather. So get out there!

5. Every island you can visit has a spot.

Most traveling to Hawaii aren’t island-hopping, though the lucky do! Whether you’re staying on The Big Island or jumping between Oahu and Kauai, there are good snorkeling spots at every island. Though the beaches and marine life will vary, there are interesting things to see throughout the state’s waters. Just don’t forget your organic sunscreen- seriously! Choosing organic brands without oxybenzone and other harsh chemicals preserves marine life so check out this list for what to buy.

Time to dive in! Book your Hawaiian vacation today. See more of my snorkel adventures on Instagram.