Gotta Getaway: {36 Hour Minneapolis Travel Guide}

Last week our Editorial Director, Bianca boarded a plane bound for Minneapolis. Why Minneapolis, Minnesota? Well, the Twin Cities has been on our must-visit list for quite some time now. Filled to the brim with creatives, neighborhoods like Northloop and Eastloop, France and 50th and Uptown are home to tons of new breweries, cute boutiques and great cuisine. Bianca packed as much into her schedule as she could and here’s what she got into while there!

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First things first, where to stay! The Luxury Collection put us in the newly reopened Hotel Ivy. Hotel Ivy is centrally located right in the heart of downtown and after undergoing a major renovation, is now the spot to stay. The design is glamorous yet not over the top. With small details like Molton Brown bath products to smart T.V.’s in every room, you definitely get a taste of luxury without the hefty price tag. Hotel Ivy is also home to the newly opened restaurant, Monello. It is hands down the best hotel restaurant I’ve ever tried. #truth

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The restaurant is on the ground floor of the old Ivy Tower and with it’s gorgeously tiled floors, blue velvet banquet, french style farm tables and leather embossed chairs that’ll make you do double take, the joint is charming and buzzing with locals. The esoteric wine list is curated with interesting boutique wines you’ll sure get a kick out of trying. And the food…did I mention, it’s the best? This foodie lover’s spot is so good it could easily go to bat in a city like San Francisco or New York. Beneath Monello, you’ll find the witty and moody bar Constantine – perfect for that nightcap.

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Since The Luxury Collection is all about showcasing the local flavor of their hotel locations, we diverted off the tourist beaten path to really get to know the Minneapolis area. It started with a boat on Lake Minnetonka {that name is so fun to say and did you know Minneapolis is the city of lakes?}. We enjoyed a gorgeous day out on the water, oogling the mansions surrounding the area, spying a bald eagle soaring above and feeling like we were in the Hamptons. Once back on dry land, we played lawn ball at one of the city’s many rooftop bars {I wish we had more rooftop bars in SF!} and took the bikes out to ride through the cycling-centric city. To top off our long day in the sun, we had plenty of snacks {and cocktails!} along the way! Our most memorable meal was at the cool neighborhood spot Corner Table. Go just for the corn and cheddar biscuits and ship some to me, will ya?

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Of course, having been a longtime fan-girl of this city, I had a long list of places I also wanted to explore on my own. I hit all of the cool stops! In the Northloop one must visit The Foundry and Willson and Willys. In Uptown, the Walker Art Center is an amazing museum, Heyday and Urban Bean Coffee are great. Over in Edina, visit Parc for shopping and walk to Lake Harriet with ice cream in hand. There are so many great recs that I got from everyone around. Here’s the full list of places to check out!

SHOPPING: Foundry, Wilson and Willy’s, ShinolaParc, Idun, Mille

DRINK: Marvel, Constantine, Parlour, tons of breweries!

FOOD: Corner Table, Heyday, Tilia, Lela, The Bachelor Farmer, Spoon and Stable, Monello, Glam Doll Donuts

TO DO: Visit any of the lakes to paddle board or picnic, peep pretty houses in the Lake of the Isles neighborhood, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden, go to a concert {there’s a big music scene here with the second-most stages in the U.S. to New York!}, Minnesota River Rock massage at Hotel Ivy Spa

Overall, Minneapolis makes for a great quick getaway. I hear fall is the perfect time to go. And truthfully, you probably could feel satisfied with three full days of exploring. With so many creatives and amazing chefs, it seems that the city is just going to continue to grow – new restaurants and creative concept experiences seem to be popping up all the time. Have you been? What are some of your favorite spots??

And we’re curious. What’s your favorite Amercian city? Where should we head next?? For more wanderlust-worth travel tips CLICK HERE!

photography by bianca sotelo

This post is in partnership with The Luxury Collection. All thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep apartment 34’s doors open!

Gotta Getaway: Escaping to Wine Country with a Newborn

People ask me what I was looking forward to the most post-pregnancy. Sushi? Unpasteurized cheese? Oysters?? Yeah, sure I do love all those things, but for my entire 10 months of growing that human, I was most looking forward to wine – and finally getting to enjoy wine country again! It was pretty tough for me to have some of the best wines in the world less than an hour’s drive away and all I could do was give it all a longing stare. That’s why I was determined to get my butt back to wine country after Carter was born. It was also a wonderful excuse to get my butt out of our house! So at four weeks old, we loaded Carter up in the car {and all his gear – our station wagon has never been so full!} and headed for Alexander Valley.

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Nestled 90 minutes north of San Francisco just north of Healdsburg, Alexander Valley is a wine lovers sweet spot. While the region is known for its amazing Cabernet, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, in all our adventures in wine country we’d never ventured that far north. Needless to say I was very excited to get out among the vineyards, but the first step was finding a place to stay. Thankfully, I discovered a picture perfect rental home on Homeaway.com. This spot had my name written all over it!

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This modern take on a farmhouse had everything my design-loving heart could ask for in a vacation home. The architecture and design are stunning. Think vaulted ceilings, beautiful hardwood floors and pitch perfect finishes in every space. The house is split into two sections with an adjoining deck…that leads out to a heated pool! Um, yes and yes. We would slide open the oversized glass doors and just sit in the kitchen letting the warm wine country air waft in. The minimalist decor and neutral color palette was so relaxing. The spa-like bathrooms and gourmet kitchen were another major plus. And Carter got to take his first dip in a pool. He was less than amused but he loved the shower we took after getting out!

And while I was temped to sit on that deck all day erry’day, we did manage to get out and about. That was made particularly simple because there were wineries and the cute Jimtown Store literally steps from our front door. That took care of my need for cappuccino and my return to wine tasting – no driving required! But wine country is too beautiful not to venture a bit further so we did hop in the car and head to Dry Creek – a whole 20 minutes away and discovered some of our favorite wines to date.

Wine tasting with a newborn was actually a breeze. Sure I overpacked swaddle blankets and under packed diapers. Sure, we had blowouts and spitups that required me to do laundry {thank you rental house with laundy room}. But none of it mattered because I was dealing with those things in such a beautiful space! Carter also basically slept the whole time we were out and about, really boosting our parental confidence. In fact our confidence was boosted so much that we even braved a dinner in downtown Healdsburg. Sadly, that experiment was less successful. Carter did not take to bustling restaurant noise, so we were forced to enjoy our entrees solo while the other parent circled the block with the stroller. But since we ate at the new-parent dinner hour of 5:30pm, we were able to return to our gorgeous rental home, that stunning deck, the fine bottle of wine we’d picked up in the Valley that day and this sunset:

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And I couldn’t have been happier.

I’m already counting down the days until we can return. While I’m hesitant to give up this gorgeous find, you can check it out for yourself on Homeaway.com right here. Below are a few of the spots we uncovered during our mini-adventure, but I know they are only the tip of the Alexander Valley iceberg. If you have any recommendations for wine tasting, dining or really anything fabulous in northern Sonoma/Russian River/Alexander Valley, please leave them in the comments!

FAVORITE ALEXANDER VALLEY DISCOVERIES:

Wineries
> Hawkes
> Truitt-Hearst
> Preston
> Medlock Ames

Food
> Healdsburg SHED
> Scopa
> Noble Folk
> Flying Goat Coffee
> Jimtown Store

For more of our favorite wine country finds click here, here and here!

Still have wanderlust? Check out the rest of our Gotta Getaway series HERE including trips to Santa Barbara, Hawaii and Washington, DC.

Capturing Ireland’s Countryside…with A Phone!

Last week our Editorial Director had the opportunity to jet to Ireland for a truly unique look into the traditional world of Irish dairies with Kerrygold. The places Bianca got to see can only be described with a single word: stunning. I only wish little Carter and I could have tagged along! But here is Bianca’s take on the adventure. Own the envy!

Ireland has never been on my list of places I wanted to visit. For a hit-the-pavement, city girl like me, rolling green hillsides and nothing ‘ado wasn’t really my idea of a vacation – or so I thought! So when I accepted an invitation to see Ireland through the eyes of its most famed butter and dairy company, Kerrygold, I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But when I stepped off the plane, I was ready for everything the capital city of Dublin had to offer. Little did I know, Dublin was not on the agenda at all! In fact, the only Dublin I would see was the airport itself. After a two+ hours’ drive, I found myself in the heart of the Irish countryside and I realized my chic leather boots were going to need to quickly be replaced by practical wellies! The urban Ireland I had in my head was not the Ireland I was going to see.

As it turns out, I was getting the rare chance to experience a tourist-free itinerary and capture a unique and intimate Irish story! Armed with a ton of curiosity, but just a phone in my hand to capture it all, I slipped into wellies and set off!

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Luckily, I decided to pack the new LG G4 phone with me for this trip. Had I known we were headed into some of the most picturesque country side I’d ever seen I might have been tempted to haul the big ole SLR along with me, but we’d been asked to test out this new phone – which is also enabled for international travel – so I stashed it in my carry-on. I was thrilled to discover that I got the same photo quality out of something that fits in my pocket! Turns out, the LG G4 comes equipped with one of the best cameras on the market not only for any smartphone, but for digital cameras in general. I was so impressed with the Laser Autofocus and HighRes Sensors. Not having to worry about lugging an old school camera through fields {literally – we were hangin’ with the cows at one point}, was such a relief. I’m certainly stoked with how my photos turned out – but you be the judge!

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But now back to my trip! We spent most of our time in the village of Cork exploring the countryside and learning a great deal about the land and the generations of people connected to it. We visited a dairy, chatting with the farmer about his life and his land {with the killer views overlooking the Atlantic!} and even enjoyed homemade scones and tea with him and his wife. We also visited a family run cheese business and were invited to join the entire family for a literal farm-to-table lunch in their stunning farmhouse. As we explored, we came across the most gorgeous old castles, stayed in charming accommodations, tasted cream straight from the cow and spent an inordinate amount of time simply amazed by how green everything was. Everywhere you turned there were stunning green hills, extensive gardens and farmland you just don’t see here in the states.

My favorite activity? Playing with all of the farm dogs. I’ll never forget the smell of the grass.

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Upon returning to the states, friends could hardly believe that this city-slicker was now considering life on a farm. Albeit, the lifestyle may be a bit of a stretch for me at the moment, so I’m thankful I could properly capture my excitement and experience as proof that the magic of Ireland is real, people! Pictures rarely do traveling to a new place justice, but these come pretty darn close. You can practically feel the stone texture of the castles through the images and smell the grass – at least I hope you can!

Now, The LG G4 is not on the market quite yet, but you can still test the camera out for yourself. A LG G4 truck is currently touring the nation – how fun! – giving people the chance to play with the device before it’s released. You can follow @G4Preview for tour updates and pre-register for the phone HERE. With pre-registering, you’ll get notified when the phone is available and you’ll be entered to win one of 30 free phones!

As for me, not only were unforeseen wellies in my forecast on this crazy whirlwind trip, but so was falling into a deep love affair for The Emerald Isle – to think, a country never on my list! I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been to Ireland. Isn’t it a magnificent place? I’m dying to go back already. It truly was a life-changing travel experience. I’ll be sure to bring my phone.

original photography for apartment 34 by bianca sotelo

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of LG. The opinions and text are all mine. We received compensation and access to an LG G4 phone. Thank you for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34’s doors open.