Video: How to Spend a Day (or Two) in Santa Cruz

How to Spend a Day (or Two) in Santa Cruz, California - From a Local

I’ve been focusing more on the video side of blogging recently. I wanted to share with you all my brand spanking new vlog around my hometown of Santa Cruz, California.

I spent a day filming around my favorite spots to give you a glimpse of Surf City USA from a local. If you enjoy the video, make sure to like it and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I’ll be attempting to do weekly videos on there from all over the world, so stay tuned!

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Facing Fear Head-On: Whitewater Rafting in Golden, BC

Whitewater Rafting in Golden BC with Wet N' Wild - Canada Adventure Travel

I’ve had a habit of facing my fears and getting (mostly) over them in the past decade. I’ve had a habit of getting out of my comfort zone and not allowing myself to think the worst until after I do something. The one fear that I can’t seem to kick, however, is the sheer terror I have of drowning.

For some reason, activities like scuba diving don’t faze me too much, perhaps because it’s so calm underneath the sea. But, if I’m doing something that’s more aggressive, such as surfing or being in the midst of waves I don’t know how to read, I have major panic attacks. I’ve dealt with intense anxiety my whole life and this fear of water has to be one of the strongest ways of spiking my anxious mind.

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What to Do With Two Days in Tacoma

Tacoma, Washington on a Sunny Day

Tacoma has had a renaissance of sorts in the last few years. People used to comment on the “Aroma of Tacoma” in reference to the overbearing sulfur smell that used to hover over the city. Visitors would pass right on through on their way to Seattle, seeing Tacoma as a backwater city and one that wasn’t worth the stop.

A lot has changed in a short amount of time. Travelers are finally starting to see the draw of this Pacific Northwest city and all it has to offer. I was luckily enough to visit Tacoma for the first time this past July and I was impressed with the beauty, history, and local hangouts that I found there. If you’re unsure of what there is to do in Tacoma, or you’re simply looking for a new and lesser known city to explore in Washington – these are my recommendations on how to spend two days in the city.

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A Gondola Ride in the Middle of the Pacific Northwest

A Gondola Ride in the Middle of the Pacific Northwest - Gig Harbor Gondola

If you told me a few months ago that I would soon ride a gondola in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, I would’ve thought you were crazy. A gondola in the Pacific Northwest? It seems like such an absurd notion, but it’s an experience that was all kinds of awesome once I experienced it for myself.

The only other time I stepped onto a gondola was in Venice, Italy back in 2011 when I was on a TopDeck tour around Europe. None of the 20-something year olds I was traveling with could afford a gondola ride by themselves, so 5 of us split the cost and piled into one together.

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5 Incredible Experiences to Have at Mt. Rainier National Park

5 Incredible Experiences to Have in Mt. Rainier National Park

I’m a sucker when it comes to beautiful nature landscapes, lush forests, waterfalls, and, in general, Pacific Northwest vibes. Don’t believe me? Just check out my Instagram! When I received a recent invite for an InstaFam trip in Washington, including Mt. Rainier National Park, I said yes immediately.

I had heard about the magic of Mt. Rainier for awhile and I’d been wanting to visit the national park for myself before I left Portland. Life gets in the way sometimes though, and I thought I had missed my opportunity to visit the park, at least this time stateside. When I realized I would not only get to finally see the mountain up close, but to see it with a guide from Visit Rainier, I was beyond excited for the trip ahead.

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My First Distillery Experience: Heritage Distilling Co.

Heritage Distilling Co Review

I’m a beer girl. I’ve loved craft beer since my college days and my first bartending gig at my on-campus pub in San Diego. With that said, I do enjoy changing it up sometimes and introducing new flavors to my palate. That chance came during my InstaFAM trip last month that led me to Gig Harbor, Washington and the renowned distillery that resides there, Heritage Distilling Co.

Conveniently located right next to our accommodation for the night, as soon as I walked into Heritage I could tell these guys knew exactly what they were doing. I also realized it was the first time I’d ever been on a distillery tour. New experience for the win!

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A Scenic Accommodation in Tacoma: Hotel Murano

A View of Mt. Rainier from Hotel Murano - Tacoma, Washington - USA

I heard about Hotel Murano before I arrived in Tacoma. When I was researching a trip to the area on my own months previously, Hotel Murano came up time and time again in my search. I kept thinking how nice of a hotel it seemed, at least online, and how I would love to stay there at some point.

That trip never came to fruition but fast forward half a year later and I was on my way to Tacoma on an InstaFAM trip with Travel Tacoma and Visit Rainier.

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An InstaFAM Tour through Washington State

mt-rainier-national-park-washington-instaFAM-tour-travel

When I received the email from Matt at Travel Tacoma, inviting me on an InstaFAM tour with a bunch of talented Instagrammers and photographers, I was beyond ecstatic.

For those of you who aren’t bloggers or in the media, a FAM tour stands for “familiarization tour.” It’s generally a tour that is a number of days, hosted and put on by a tourism board or company to promote a destination or brand. This one was solely focused on Instagram and finding the prettiest spots around Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Mt. Rainier. In other words, I was immersed for 4 days in finding the best views and most beautiful hidden spots in Washington. It was heaven.

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My First Visit to Mt. Rushmore & the Black Hills

Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota - USA

I’ve been taking advantage of my time stateside for the last year or so. I’ve managed to travel to a handful of new states – including Hawaii, Florida, Montana, Illinois, Michigan, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota – and in the process I’ve hit my fair share of Americana sights and monuments.

One of the most iconic ones I finally got to see this summer was Mt. Rushmore. Yes, it’s just a bunch of white dudes carved into a mountain, but it also represents 150 years of American history.

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A Short Road Trip through Scenic Idaho

Road Trip through Idaho - USA Travel

As I mentioned in my last post about Boise, it was my first time in Idaho this summer. It’s not a hugely popular place for tourism, compared to other states around the US, and I found it to be highly underrated as a destination. Idaho is lovely in so many ways.

I only spent about 7 days road tripping through the state, but I was amazed at the scenery and natural beauty found everywhere. All of the Idaho license plate slogans say “the scenic state” and I could see why as soon as I hit the road.

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