KEEP FAYETTEVILLE FUNKY

Have you ever heard of Fayetteville, Arkansas? It’s a beautiful oasis in the middle of Northwest Arkansas’ Ozark mountains and deserves to be recognized for all of its beauty. It has become a tourist destination, it is home to the Arkansas Razorbacks, and it is consistently named as one of the “Best Places to Live” (No. 3 in 2016, No. 5 in 2017, No. 5 in 2018, and No. 4 in 2019). It is well known for annual events in motorcycling, music, art, and film.

Fayetteville has a place in my personal heart too. It’s a place where moved when I was an 18 year old freshman at the University of Arkansas. It’s a place where I studied, made lifelong friends, became 21, became a “dog-mom”, graduated college, and entered into the hospitality world as a “real adult”. I’ve been in Northwest Arkansas since 2011, and in those eight years, I’ve made those memories, but I’ve also made up my mind about my favorite things about some of my favorite local hot-spots.

BITE + DRINK

Theo’s: I believe this is the best upscale-casual Happy Hour in Fayetteville. In the lounge, there is centrally arranged comfortable furniture, with TV’s at the bar (perfect for watching the Razorbacks, or my favorite – the St. Louis Blues, play). There are a few booths and high-top tables on the perimeter if the group is a little smaller and more intimate – whereas the lounge furniture allows for more socialization and meeting new people. If the weather is nice, there is also prime seating on their patio facing Dickson Street.

MC’s Pick: Trina’s Ginger Peach (vodka, peach, ginger syrup, lemon) + Charcuterie Board (two meats, two cheeses, accompaniments)

Bordino’s: This restaurant has been around for almost 2 decades. The atmosphere is a little less lounge, and a little more restaurant, as they do not have any TV’s in the bar area, but their cocktails and wine list do not disappoint.

MC’s Pick: Baker’s Blues (house-infused lavender & blueberry vodka, lavender simple syrup, fresh lemon juice) + Triple Threat (grana padano, roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar)

LOCAL LUNCH + DINNER

Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese: With a variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from, most guests can find something that they like at this restaurant. A very casual atmosphere off Dickson Street, Hammontrees is a perfect spot to grab a bite to eat after some mid-morning weekend shopping or after a long day at work.

MC’s Picks: Sweet Potato Fries (with avocado ranch dipping sauce) + Cheebacca Grilled Cheese (sharp white cheddar, house cheese, bacon, pulled pork, onions, and garlic cilantro sauce on sourdough) P.S. I prefer no onions on my Cheebacca Grilled Cheese, and I add the house BBQ sauce!

Hugo’s: In business since 1977, Hugo’s is a Fayetteville staple, consistently ranking in the top 1-3 restaurants on websites like TripAdvisor.  It’s located in Downtown Historic Fayetteville, in the basement of an original building. It encompasses Fayetteville with the art and historical pieces around the restaurant, and even locals continue to go back. If you plan to stop by on a weekend evening, there might be a bit of a wait, so be prepared to arrive early! There’s not much of a waiting area, but most people just wait outside and get to know one another while they wait for a great meal.

MC’s Picks: Ace Pineapple Cider (Sebastopol, CA) + cheeseburger with ketchup, pickles, and cheese + Grasshopper Crepe (mint chocolate chip ice cream inside of crepes with hot fudge drizzle)

Sassy’s: Sassy’s BBQ sauce and spices are from a family recipe developed by Sassy Jones’ grandfather, Jasper Jones, in 1885. The sauce has been said to be good on pork, beef, chicken, dove, quail, duck, goat, lamb, rabbit, squirrel, deer, coon, possum, shrimp, catfish, crawfish, oysters, armadillo, rattlesnake, and just about anything else. Their menu has a little bit of everything, and they want their guests to enjoy and stay awhile by having TV’s with TV’s with the game on, porches for warm days, and the best part – good food.

MC’s Picks: Homemade Fried Pickles + Pulled Pork Sandwich Combo, with (2) sides: sweet potato tots and mustard potato salad

Farmer’s Table Cafe: With the motto, “where locals meet and eat,” Farmer’s Table Cafe is built for the locals of Fayetteville, and even those coming through town. It is a tiny house within Fayetteville, where patrons can enjoy a wonderful meal from local vendors, and meet others within their community.

MC’s Picks: Benny on a Biscuit (Ozarks version of the egg’s benedict: 2 poached eggs, Bansley’s farm ham, Dripping Springs Garden kale,  atop a handmade biscuit with hollandaise) or Pickled + Deviled Plate (deviled local eggs, pickled local vegetables, Great Ferments okra, Ozark All Seasons greens) + Chicken Salad (roasted chicken, dried cranberries, almonds, dill, celery, on Stone Mill Bakery sourdough)

Catfish Hole: In 1993, the owners of Catfish Hole opened their first location in Alma, AR. Not soon after, they added a location in Fayetteville, which has become a popular spot for locals and tourists. Most people rave about hushpuppies, but they’re especially known for their catfish – as it is a common catch in the Northwest Arkansas area.

MC’s Picks: Regular Catch of Catfish Filets, served with french fries + fixin’s (fixings include: hushpuppies, coleslaw, pickles, onions, lemons and green tomato relish)

Woodstone: A recent add in 2014 to the Fayetteville restaurant scene, Woodstone Pizza + Bar features wood fired, artisan pizza with a scratch kitchen, locally sourced ingredients, local craft beers and cocktails.

MC’s Picks: Lavender Gimlet (sub with Tito’s vodka instead of gin), + Queen Margherita (house red sauce, fresh mozzarella, local basil, herb oil)

A Taste of Thai: Since 2000, Taste of Thai has been established in the Downtown Historic Fayetteville Square. With a small patio, off a quaint and traditional dining room, this restaurant encompasses Thai culture, while also serving delicious food. Larger parties may need to notify the restaurant of their arrival, and guests can even order ahead for takeout.

MC’s Picks: A-7 Chicken Pot Stickers (grilled marinated chicken wrapped, served with homemade plum sauce) + 17. Pad Thai, national dish of Thailand (stir-fried thin rice noodles w/egg, bean sprouts, green onions, topped w/ground peanuts)

COCKTAIL

Maxine’s Tap Room: Named one of the Best Bars in America, 2019 by Esquire Magazine, Maxine’s Tap Room is an almost 70-year-old bar located on Block Avenue, in the heart of Fayetteville’s Historic Downtown Square. 24-year-old Maxine Miller borrowed $10,000 from her parents and with the ownership of her bar, became a surrogate mother to generation of college students missing their own mothers. After Maxine passed, management passed on to a team of local shop-owners and they thoughtfully remodeled the Tap Room with a payphone that still has the recording of Maxine’s last call: “May I have your attention, please! You have ten minutes to drink, then get the hell out!” One of my favorite facts about the bar is that it only has one window, exactly 8.5″x40″, in the front, which was the minimum size allowed by the building codes at the time of its being built.

MC’s Picks: Maxine’s Tap Room changes the menu seasonally, but one of my favorites is a simple cocktail with vodka, lavender syrup, and soda water, sometimes with a splash of lemonade. They have the best retro/classic cocktails, and the seasoned popcorn will keep you there for awhile.

Vault: This fairly new bar is a former bank vault that combines warm palettes of concrete, wood, steel, and leather, inspired by the idea of distillation. Their focus is on bourbon, and they pride themselves in having the best bourbon selection in the state of Arkansas.

MC’s Picks: EJ Highball (bourbon, tea syrup, lemon, house ginger beer)

Cannibal + Craft: Named after a beach bar in the Caribbean, Cannibal & Craft is a dual-bar with one side drawing inspiration from this island vibe, and the other side featuring a warm, earthy, American vibe. The island side focuses on fishbowl cocktails, while the other side features classic cocktails. If you’re a true local, you know that within Cannibal + Craft lies a secret bar called, Ben’s Apartment. Similar to a speakeasy from the 1920’s, this bar is exclusive and not open to just anyone. This secret bar requires a membership and a minimum monthly spend, but each guest is allotted 3 additional guests at no additional charge. But well worth the membership, this bar is for those who want an atypical Fayetteville bar experience.

MC’s Picks: Moscow Mule Fishbowl (or Bee’s Knees at Ben’s Apartment)

Fayetteville Ale Trail: Experience Fayetteville (my old parent-company!) launched the Fayetteville Ale Trail in August 2013. This self-guided tour gives both visitors and locals a glimpse into the unique craft brewery and cidery culture of Northwest Arkansas (it extends past Fayetteville!). More than 35,000 passports have been printed, and after 5 years, the Ale Trail has been recognized nationally and even locals still continue to enjoy it. Passports can be picked up at any of the breweries on the Ale Trail, via mail, or at Experience Fayetteville (Visitor’s Center) on the Downtown Square, located at 21 S. Block Ave.

Featured Breweries: Apple Blossom Brewing Co., Bentonville Brewing Co., Bike Rack Brewing Co., Black Apple Crossing Cidery, Columbus House Brewery, Core Brewing and Distilling Co., Crisis Brewing Company, Fossil Cove Brewing Co., Hawk Moth Brewery, Ivory Bill Brewing, JJ’s Beer Garden & Brewing, New Providence Brewing Co., Ozark Beer Company, Saddlebock Brewery, and West Mountain Brewing Co.

SWEET

Rick’s Bakery: Opened in 1980, Rick’s has become a staple in Northwest Arkansas. From their classic personal cakes (perfect for birthdays, big-little reveals, congratulation-moments, and more, to their decorative cookies (some even featuring frosting shaped Razorbacks, their baked goods are worth every bite.

MC’s Picks: tie-dye cookies + monogrammed petit fours

Smudgies: Taking a spin on sweets, Smudgies combines donuts, cereal, sweet treats, and more with ice cream. They are most famous for the smudgie itself, a donut stuffed with your choice of ice cream combination from the menu – or a creation of your own!

MC’s Picks: Salty Dog Sludgie (essentially a concrete with vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel drizzle, + crushed pretzels)

Burton’s Creamery: Opened in June 2014, Burton’s Creamery provides premium (better than just everyday) soft serve to the residents of Fayetteville. Originally served out of a food truck, they now have an additional location in the Uptown Apartments + Shops. Their food truck is still located off Dickson Street in an area called Shulertown – a popular destination after the bars close.

MC’s Picks: Butterfinger Soft Serve on a Waffle Cone

Shop

RiffRaff: Kirsten Blowers, a native Fayetteville local, opened Riffraff in February of 2009 at the age of 21. Originally selling refurbished and hand-painted furniture, she quickly expanded to include clothing and small gifts.  By 2012, due to popularity and growth of the business from in-store to Facebook, Kirsten took the business online – launching an instant success. Nestled in the Historic Downtown Fayetteville Square, Riffraff believes in shopping local (while still reaching shoppers nationwide). Their style is always touching on the newest trends, and their social media presence (mostly Instagram) is very strong: @shopriffraff + @riffrafffayetteville + @riffraffhq.

Impressions: Built off the power of a first impression, Impressions offers a wide range of apparel to fit any woman’s unique sense of style. Between their physical location in Fayetteville or their online boutique, they are always following the latest fashions to keep their customers leaving lasting impressions.

Maude: The current location is Maude’s second location, but Maude has been in business since 2007. The store prides itself on excellent customer service,  and they enjoy the fun within fashion. They believe in fashion speaking to their customers and help their customers feel their dreams come true while being confident in the clothes they sell. They also have the cutest backdrop for photos (you can search #maudewall on Instagram).

The Mustache Goods + Wears: The owner of this store wanted to open a shop where he lived and worked (Historic Downtown Fayetteville), but he wanted it to be and look different than any other store, carrying products that shoppers don’t normally find. Their passion feeds off how the community loves their store, always finding a fun, friendly, and unique shopping experience.

E.Leigh’s: Erin Leigh Hohnbaum opened the shop in 2011 at the age of 26, with the goal to create a space where women felt strong, empowered, and better leaving than when they came in the doors. She is passionate about making customers and visitors feel good, even if they don’t purchase anything – so experience is everything to her. Located on Dickson Street, it’s close to restaurants and other shops in the Fayetteville area.

EXPERIENCE

First Thursday: On the first Thursday of each month May through October from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Fayetteville’s Historic Downtown Square transforms into an outdoor arts district featuring more than 40 visual artists who create items in a variety of mediums. The event also includes live music, street performances, children’s activities, food trucks, a craft beer garden, and more. This event is hosted and promoted by Experience Fayetteville, and parking is available at Fayetteville Town Center.

George’s Majestic Lounge: Opened in 1927 by George Pappas, George’s was originally a restaurant, lounge, and general store. George’s saw many owners in its day, some of which shared their first dates at the bar, but regardless of ownership, it is the oldest and longest running bar in the Fayetteville area. It was also the first to integrate and the first to have color TV in its time. Its current owners, Brian + Day Crowne bought the building and eventually the land – serving as the regions premier showcase venue for concerts since 2004.

Walton Arts Center: In the late 1980s, the Walton family, the University of Arkansas, and the City of Fayetteville each individually realized the need for a venue that could accommodate major touring shows, local and regional performing acts, and even corporate meetings. Located off Dickson Street in Fayetteville, this recently updated venue houses these shows, events, and even more.

Theatre Squared: Reaching 45,000 patrons each year with 230 annual performances, Theatre Squared attracts varying shows by hosting them in an intimate space. In 2011, TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theatres. Its audience includes more than 18,000 students and their teachers. They believe that all students should have access to live performances and leading arts-based learning tools. Theatre Squared is also Arkansas’ home for professional playwrights, developing scripts through the Arkansas New Play Festival in Fayetteville and Bentonville, producing new works and world premiers each year.

Donald W. Reynolds Stadium: Serving as the home field for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, Donald W. Reynolds Stadium is an American football stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, originally opened in 1938. In 2001, it was renamed from Razorback Stadium to its current name, in honor of Reynold’s being a wonderful businessman and philanthropist. The playing field is named for Frank Boyles, the former head football coach and athletic director.

Mount Sequoyah Overlook: A beautiful spot for visitors to relax, watch the sunset, or picnic, Mt. Sequoyah overlooks Fayetteville with a large cross illuminating the area. Locals go there on dates, to see how wonderful Fayetteville looks at night, or say a prayer. The area is a church and retreat center, surrounded by homes with beautiful views.

Razorback Regional Greenway: A project years in the making, the Razorback Regional Greenway has been a goal of regional planners, cities, and residents of Northwest Arkansas for more than two decades. With a lot of planning, the Greenway became a reality stretching 36 miles from Bella Vista to South Fayetteville. It connects 6 downtowns, 3 hospitals, 23 schools, arts and entertainment venues, the University of Arkansas campus, corporate headquarters, historic sites, parks and playgrounds, restaurants, shopping areas, and more.

OUTSIDE FAY

Crystal Bridges: Founded in 2005 by philanthropist and arts patron, Alice Walton,  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art began as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and opened to the public on 11-11-11. Their mission is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Its name comes from a nearby natural spring and the bridge that has been incorporated into the structure of the building.  Meeting spaces and galleries surrounds two spring-fed ponds, including a glass-enclosed gathering hall. The museum also features a beautiful restaurant, a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material, and trails that link the 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Walmart Museum: Sam Walton and his family moved to the Northwest Arkansas area in 1950, to satisfy his wife Helen’s desire for small-town living. According to Helen, this also allowed them to be within a short distance from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, so Sam could enjoy the different seasons, satisfying his passion for quail hunting. With this move, Sam purchased Luther Harrison’s Variety Store. Located in the Downtown Bentonville square, Walton’s 5&10 was the second store opened by Sam Walton, but the first to bear his name. The original ceiling tiles from Harrison’s Variety Store are still seen in the museum today, as are the original red and green tiles that Sam laid down prior to the famous remodeling sale. Some of the tile colors didn’t match; Sam accepted them “as is” for a better price – and this is worth mentioning because it is a part of the foundation for Walmart today. See, Sam was a frugal man, but according to history, not for the sake of frugality. “Sam knew that his customers wouldn’t be looking at his floor – or even care – as long as his prices were low and his shelves were well-stocked. He knew that saving money on expenses meant he could charge lower prices, saving his customers money so they could live better.” And this was the beginning of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Scott Family Amazeum: Featuring approximately 50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces, Scott Family Amazeum is built to bring families together, inspire curiosity, and bring learning to life using hands-on exhibits. Many of the interactive exhibits are focused on the industries and people who built the Arkansas culture and sustain it today – exhibitors including the 3M Tinkering Hub, General Mills Lift, Load and Haul, Market Sponsored by Walmart, Nature Valley Water Amazements, Nickelodeon Play Lab, Hershey’s Lab, and more. Possibly the coolest activity that Scott Family Amazeum does is at the end of the day, they have a “parade to leave” so the kids can “enjoy” the exhibits having to close.

The Peel Mansion Museum + Heritage Gardens: Built in 1875 by Colonel Samuel West Peel, it is a beautiful model of Italianate Villa Style furnished with authentic antiquities and artifacts. It his home to public and private events for the Northwest Arkansas area from bridal shows to weddings to cocktail parties to charity events.

Slaughter Pen Trail: Attracting visitors from around the country, this Bentonville mountain bike trail hosts one of the top bike events in the state. Featuring over 20 miles, with an easy trail connection via Lake Bella Vista to Blowing Springs mountain bike trail system, this is something that the avid biker does not want to miss.

STAY

The Inn at Carnall Hall: Built in 1905, Carnall Hall was the first girl’s dorm in Arkansas, named after Ella Howison Carnall, a beloved English professor. In 1967, it became a fraternity for 10 years, and in 1982, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places, when it housed classrooms and faculty offices. In 2001, it was saved from demolition, thanks to private and public efforts. 2 years later, it reopened as The Inn at Carnall Hall, with restorations made to the staircase and front porch. In 2004, it was added to the Historic Hotels of America. Most recently in 2018, the Inn had a face lift, with contemporary elements complimenting the history of the building. Perhaps the most significant moment of this hotel’s history to me, is when I had the pleasure of working there. I started my career transition at Inn at Carnall Hall, and I am grateful for my experience there.

21c Museum: Located on the Downtown Bentonville Square, and within a short walk to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is an 104-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, cultural center, and home to The Hive  restaurant. They are well-known for the iconic Green Penguin, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post.

The Crescent Hotel: Opened in 1886, The Crescent Hotel was built to be a resort for the rich and famous, designed by architect Isaac S. Taylor from St. Louis, MO. Only open for a short time before it became unmanageable, it was reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women from 1908-1924. It opened again from 1930-1934 as a junior college. By 1937, Norman G. Baker, converted the building into a hospital and health resort. This is when the history gets a little interesting. Baker was a millionaire inventory and radio personality, but he also presented himself as a doctor (with absolutely no medical training). He claimed to have “cures” for ailments, including cancer. Baker eventually went to jail, and The Crescent Hotel bounced between a few owners, almost being burned to the ground in 1967. Currently, it has been titled, “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 2016. Tourists and guests can go on ghost tours, and even stay overnight experiencing the supposed supernatural.

As I say goodbye to Fayetteville today, I felt that I could best say goodbye by paying tribute to the wonderful places I came to love during my time in Northwest Arkansas. I hope if you have a chance to visit, you can visit a few of these places and grow to love them too.

XO – MC

DALLAS WEDDING

Five years ago, a good friend of mine asked to borrow my guitar. I said that he could borrow it on one condition – he had to play a few songs for my roommates. So he came over to the townhouse that I shared with two of my college best friends, and played a few songs for us. Not to my surprise, he hit it off with one of my roommates.

My friends continued their relationship as I took time off from school, and moved back home. But I could tell their relationship was something special and that their love was growing. By the time that I moved back to finish my last year of school, my friends had all graduated and moved. We all reunited at my other roommate’s destination wedding (floral button-ups and captains hats were involved), and I knew that they were going to be together for ever.

So after a lot of college fun, graduation, a move to Dallas, multiple promotions, and two pups later, these two celebrated being together for five years by getting married. It was such an honor to witness their love for one another, and hear their self-written vows. My favorite part was when the bride repeated after the celebrant all the way to repeating “Let us pray”. Her laughter afterwords showed how much she was enjoying her wedding day.

Their venue was beautiful. It was nestled in the suburbs of Highland Village, TX and featured a chapel and reception space. From the clear chiavari chairs, to the beautiful in-house chandeliers, to the delicately arranged floral arrangements, I can tell why these two fell in love with the venue. And as someone who works in events daily, I noticed so many features to the venue that were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional for the operations side.

Beyond watching this couple take the next step into their lives together as one, I got to see several of our other friends, whom I hadn’t seen since that first wedding. It had been more than TWO YEARS. That was definitely two years too long. We went out to some random bars, reminisced about our college adventures, and ultimately went to bed early because that’s what happens when you’ve passed the age of a quarter of a century.

XO – MC

WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

When I was in New York, I carried around a Longchamp Le Pliage backpack, and it was the best thing to happen to me on the trip. For the daily 20+ mile walk each day in New York City, I felt the need to be efficient and prepared, since carrying a purse would get tiring and we were only in our hotel at the start and end of our days. A few of my friends asked me about what I would carry around in it before I left, as did my family when I landed in New York. Funny enough, I actually get this question a lot, because I am always carrying around a large purse or bag.

So. What are the essentials in my New York City backpack?

Let’s start with the most obvious – my iPhone. Yes, I’m definitely an iPhone user. We used our phones for navigation, communication with each other, photography, social media, music, etc. My phone even had subway routes mapped – it was so much easier to get around than the time I came to New York in 2011.

With that being said, I also brought extra portable power-banks and charging cords. Not only did I need an additional charge in the late afternoon, but several people in my family did too and they didn’t think ahead like I did. Using our phones all day really killed the batteries. My favorite one-charge power-banks are the Onn brand 6,700mAh, and my favorite all-time power-bank is the SHARKK brand 15,000mAh dual USB. The higher the mAh, the more “full” charges it has to give.

Of course I also brought a wallet. I chose a smaller version of my typical wallet – a navy Kate Spade cardholderIt’s my go-to for going out, going on trips, etc. so that I don’t have to carry around everything. I wanted to keep my debit card, ID, hotel key, and metro card on me at all times. I also felt the need to keep a little cash on me – just in case.

While we were in SoHo one day, I purchased a 9 oz. Swell bottle that could fit in my backpack. One thing that I forgot about on our first two days in NYC was to STAY HYDRATED. A lot of places offer free water, including Starbucks (and there is a Starbucks on just about every corner of New York City). I should have taken advantage of that sooner, especially by using a refillable bottle that keeps water cold for hours at a time. At the same time, being in the hospitality industry, I don’t like going into places for free water without buying something. So if I went into Starbucks, I would time it to buy a cake pop or a snack, and also ask for a (free) water.

It’s been a goal of mine to read more, and a perfect time to kickoff that goal was on the subway in NYC. So rather than a bulky book, and having to worry about finishing one and not having a second to start, I brought my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s honestly the best, and I’m so glad that I’ve invested in the Paperwhite over the other e-readers in the market, including the Kindle Fire, or even reading on my iPhone/iPad. The backlighting is adjustable, so your eyes don’t hurt and it looks like you’re reading an actual book. I also bought a Kindle-brand smart cover that keeps the screen protected from potential scratches.

Pens are one of my favorite items. I have a preference of pens for particular tasks, but those have changed overtime. For example, now my planner/notebooks are typically all written with a Bic Atlantis black pen and my leads at work are written in Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Marker Pens. So of course, I had a few pens in my bag. You know, just in case.

I regularly carry around a few beauty and hygiene essentials, so I added these to my NYC backpack too. Glossier’s Balm Dotcom is my first go-to. I have almost every flavor. I also keep a roll-on perfume, because walking about 20 miles away in the heat of summer, can definitely wear off the perfume I put on in the morning. Gum is not really my thing, so I keep some extra mints on me at all times. I mean, I wasn’t going to brush my teeth in the restaurant’s bathroom.

Lastly, my AirPods were a lifesaver when walking the 20+ miles around the streets of NYC each day. I had a Spotify playlist going almost always, and the navigation on my phone would speak through it – so if I did get lost, I didn’t look like a tourist staring at my phone or spinning around in circles for directions.

I’ll always vary what I carry with me, based on where I’m going or what I’m doing, but those are some of my essentials that I keep pretty consistent in whatever bag I carry!

XO – MC

MONDAY – NYC

D A Y • F I V E

This day started off a little differently than the others of our trip. One of my sisters went to explore the city on her own, so my youngest sister, my parents, and myself took a ferry ride… to Staten Island.

How beautiful does New York City look from a ferry boat? It almost looks small. I know it isn’t small; there are hundreds of thousands of people walking on the streets in between those buildings and on each floor of each skyscraper. As we pulled away from the New York Harbor, I realized that as much as I loved walking along Madison or Fifth, seeing the city from a view on the water was its own form of beautiful.

On our way to schedule a ferry ride to see the island, we were almost scammed. We got off the train and were met by someone who was dressed like a tour guide. After taking us on a 5+ block walk, the young man started saying that we had to go to an ATM because they didn’t have card readers. We went to the ATM, but didn’t give him the money yet. We asked to see the accommodations first. So he took us to a very uncomfortable looking bus, at which point I had a weird gut feeling, and my family and I turned around almost immediately. We noticed the brochure looked dated, possibly hinting that it was stolen from another company and trying to be passed as marketing for this scam. And when we asked if  the boat pictured was the boat we were going to be on in the water, they couldn’t give us a straight answer. We soon realized that the Staten Island Ferry was free of charge, and boarded the next one to arrive in New York Harbor.

While we were on our way to Staten Island, my younger sister and I had a mini photoshoot – as one does when they’re on the ferry with the wind in their hair. My younger sister has truly grown so much over the past several years, and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming. Year after year, I’ve realized that I have more pictures of her than anyone else, and that is because I’ve truly watched her grow. I remember the day she was born, and I remember when I convinced her that “lefties were cool”, and I remember when she cut her hair to get bangs like me – and hid under the kitchen table when she realized what she had done. I remember when one day, she was all of a sudden a really great reader, and I remember when she found her voice and made her first joke.

I would have loved to see Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, but we had to prioritize. We had plans for the afternoon and evening, and we were so hungry on the ferry ride. As soon as we arrived to Staten Island, we walked up a long flight of stairs and entered the first restaurant we could find. It was a small diner on the edge of town, with a lot of character. None of us argued, we all just sat down and ordered a sub-par burger on the outskirts of town. THAT hungry.

On our way back, we started to talk about our plans for the rest of the day. The plans involved another “island” – but nothing like Staten Island. This “island” features amusement parks, and is part of the Brooklyn borough – Coney Island. Coney Island, despite its name, is actually a peninsula to the west of Long Island. It was originally an island separated from Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek, but in the 1920s-1930s, a large section of the creek was filled as a part of a land and highway development.

As soon as we got off the train from Staten to Coney, we immediately rode the Cyclone rollercoaster. Well my dad, my sister, and I did. I almost lost my sunglasses when we flew dow one of the hills, but it was a blast.

After the rollercoaster, we made it to the boardwalk. My sister made me take a couple dozen photos of her, and then we just explored. Though we didn’t ride any of the rides in Luna Park, we enjoyed being near the water, and seeing everything that Coney Island had to offer.

Have you ever heard of of Nathan’s Hot Dogs? I’m sure you have. They’re everywhere. Well, they started on Coney Island as a hot dog stand over 100 years ago. So it would only make sense for us to visit the original location, new and improved storefront.

Like the tagline on the storefront says, “The flavor of New York since 1916.” It was definitely a great treat, followed with sorbet from Coney’s Cones. I typically am just a ‘ketchup and sometimes mustard on my hot dog’ kind of girl, but my dad will try anything and definitely enjoyed a few original Nathan’s with a Coney Island brew.

After our afternoon and evening exploring Coney, we got back on the Subway towards our final stop of the day. Unfortunately, we were on the longest trip possible due to delays. It took over an hour. Though it was our only delay within this trip to NYC, I understand why New Yorkers complain about them.

We ended the night with a very sweet treat, at Serendipity 3. A very unique and narrow entryway, the restaurant has been there since 1954, and is well known for its extravagant desserts – my favorite meal.

This was my last night in New York City, and it ended a sweet one.

XO – MC

SUNDAY – NYC

D A Y • F O U R

So funny story. I left my AirPods charging next to my bed. Completely forgot them before I left for the airport. I had my old iPhone headphones with me, but they’re the ones that don’t really fit to your ears, so listening to music and podcasts as I walked around NYC and rode the Subway was a little uncomfortable. Anyways, the girl who was watching Marley for me went to pick them up and shipped them to me. Unfortunately, the hotel my family was staying at was under some construction and the postal worker didn’t deliver my AirPods to the hotel, but the main postal office a few blocks down from our Chelsea hotel.

On my way to the post office, I walked past a really cool wall of murals by different artists. They all shared a similar “hashtag”, #brickfit. There were some really cool pieces, and I enjoyed getting to see the artwork.

I made my way to the post office which was also connected to Penn Station. It was not what I expected inside. The lobby was a long aisle of teller windows and surprisingly it was not very busy. After meeting with a few of the tellers, we finally found my package and I made my way into Penn Station.

There was a really cool event going on at Madison Square Garden but I didn’t catch any great pictures. The newest class of New York Police Department rookies were graduating from the Academy. The security was insane – which I understand considering the way our service men and women are disrespected in current events.

My sisters and I spent almost the entire day shopping. First, my sisters said that they would meet me at Glossier. I mapped out the subway I needed to take to SoHo and headed that way. What my sisters forgot to tell me, is that in addition to the insane late summer heat, there would be a line wrapped around the Glossier building that would take at least 45 minutes to get through. And even better, my sisters weren’t there yet. So for about 25 minutes, I waited in line, by myself. It’s a really good thing that I picked up my AirPods today and that they were fully charged.

After being in line for almost an hour, we finally made it upstairs. I stood in front of the fan for almost the entire time. I did buy some balmdotcom though. We then headed to some of the more affordable stores and boutiques, while also making some stops at some of the less affordable ones.

After we shopped, we headed towards St. Peter’s Catholic Church for Sunday Mass. Our sister and mom met up with us, and funny enough, the air conditioning was out. So it was hot inside too.

Our next stop really moved me. The last time I was in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum was not complete. This time, I actually had the chance to see it. When we stepped into the memorial area, the mood was solemn and it was very quiet. It was so peaceful. And I immediately felt that I needed to step away from my family and walk the memorial alone.

My memory of September 11th, 2001 is different than most. I was alive, but I remember September 11th, 2002 much clearer. In 2001, I was in the 3rd grade and my private, Catholic, K-8th school didn’t tell us what happened. And neither did my parents. The next year, I switched schools, to another private, Catholic school. But this school gathered all of the students outside and though it’s a vague memory, I remember standing outside with my classmates, many people were in tears, and we had a brief ceremony surrounding the flag. I didn’t understand why we were gathered. As the years go on, that is really the only memory that stands with me through that day.

Everyone visiting the memorial maintained quiet in respect for those who passed on that sad day, almost 17 years ago. Walking around the memorial was filled with sadness, but also a sense of community. To think back on that day, and all of the service men and women that came together selflessly to rescue as many people as they could from the horror that day. I can’t believe it’s been almost 17 years – seeing all of those names made it a little more realistic for me.

A few of the names affected me, but it was actually the words that followed their name that brought me to tears – “and her unborn child”. Until seeing these words at the memorial, I am saddened to say that I never thought about the expecting mothers who may have passed when the World Trade Center was attached by terrorists. I couldn’t imagine that great of a loss.

Something I did notice were a few lone, white flowers laid into the letters of a few names. I heard that the white rose in a name meant that day was their birthday. There is someone employed every day to take white roses to each name on their birthday. That restores a little bit of my faith in humanity, and the City of New York. We even saw the only building that stayed standing throughout the attacks, which was pretty incredible.

After the memorial, my mom, sisters, and I all went to see the Brooklyn Bridge. We made it about a quarter of the way into it… but to be honest, we were all getting hungry and thirsty. So we turned around.

At the end of the evening, we had a very late (almost 10:00 p.m.) dinner at a really cool restaurant down the street from my sister’s dorm. It was peaceful, candlelit, and ended with sorbet.

XO – MC

SATURDAY PT 2 – NYC

D A Y • T H R E E

Click to read SATURDAY PT 1.

Walking from 5th Avenue towards where planned to meet our sister was going to be pretty impossible to do quickly, since we needed to get from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village.  The views towards the subway were pretty beautiful though. One of my favorite parts about New York City that I just can’t get enough of is its history, and the beautiful buildings that have been homes to different storefronts, offices, hotels, etc. There’s always something new to see around each corner, and that never gets old.

There was a little symbolism behind the shirt I chose for this day in New York. Did you check out my last post to see what I was wearing Saturday morning for a hint? If not, here’s another one: it had to do with our next stop – 90 Bedford St. New York, NY. Okay, okay. I’ll be there for you with the real reason, because you’re probably over the hints. Please don’t stop reading, I promise this is The One With the answer on where we went next.

At the corner of Bedford and Grove is Monica Geller’s Apartment from the show, Friends. I was not allowed to watch this show when I was younger, but as soon as the show came to Netflix, I binged all of it. It’s one of my favorite shows to watch, and I actually have a 24″x36″ black and white, framed poster of the cast in my house. My sisters and I posed for a picture in front of the building, and soon enough we were asking each other what was for dinner. We didn’t know where to go, so we walked around Greenwich looking for something that caught our eyes.

My sister said that Greenwich was one of her favorite areas while living in New York. and I could tell why. There was a lot more greenery and it was filled with homes, boutiques, and some amazing restaurants. The people were a little friendlier and more approachable while we were touring. We stopped at a restaurant that had vegan and gluten-free options, and we sat outside. It was the most perfect weather and I’m so glad we did. Since my sister is vegan and I’m gluten-free (yes, the noodles below were gluten-free), it was the perfect place for us to all have dinner – and they had sangria.

After dinner, we walked to another well-known landmark – Washington Square Park. There’s a lot of history with this park and the Washington Square Arch, which is probably what most thing about when they hear “Washington Square”. There are statues for notable Americans such as George Washington himself, and the original arch to the park was built in celebration of the centennial of his inauguration to the presidency. We spent some time in the fountain, as other tourists did, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

It was a lot of fun. We were going to have to say goodbye to our sister, as she had an early day on Sunday, but first dad let us stop by a place called DŌ. Talk about the best dessert ever. The Founder/Owner/CEO of DŌ, Kristen Tomlan, is actually from St. Louis (as I am); it was cool to see another St. Louisan’s success in such a visual way.

We parted ways with my sister, and made our way to Times Square for a final touristy destination. I genuinely could not believe how many people were there. How could so many people be in one place at one time? It was a little overwhelming. But I loved the lights and the movement and the color.

We bought a few souvenirs from a gift shop, an NYPD shirt for myself included, drank our weight in water because we all realized how dehydrated we were, and called it a night.

XO – MC

SATURDAY PT 1 – NYC

D A Y • T H R E E

Saturday started off different than Thursday or Friday. I met my sisters at Madison Avenue’s Ladurée. There is a significant history behind this company and their macaroons, directly relating to my name and its unique French spelling, “Madeleine“. Its original location, opened by Louis Ernest Ladurée and located at 16 rue Royale, is in the Madeleine neighborhood of Paris. From its creation in 1862, to the fire that burnt the bakery down in 1871, to Ladurée’s grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, creating the macaroon, to the company’s new growth since 1993, Ladurée has always been in the business of macaroons.

After we ate macaroons to our hearts content, we walked a few blocks over towards Central Park. Yes, I know we were there yesterday, but keep in mind, Central Park is huge. It covers over 840 acres of land. The day was beautiful and it was definitely worth walking around a little bit. Though it was hot, so we had to make several stops at hot dog stands for water.

On the way, we stopped at 5th Avenue. My sisters had even this on the agenda, not particularly because we could afford much of anything on 5th, but definitely for the experience. My youngest sister actually did purchase a pair of Quay sunglasses from Bloomingdales, as she had just broken her previous pair. It was definitely hard to pull me away from Tiffany & Co., Chanel, and Lonchamp without purchasing anything. I wouldn’t say I’m a “materialistic” person, because I usually go for the best deal when I’m shopping, but I do have a few favorites. To be honest, in the photos above, I’m wearing a few of them, such as Chance Eau Tendre by Chanel, a Tiffany & Co. infinity pendant from my grandmother, and my Longchamp Le Pliage backpack which was the most wonderful thing to happen to me on this NYC trip. What was in my backpack that made it so wonderful? Well, I actually wrote a post about it.

After our 5th Ave. window-shopping spree, we made our way to Greenwich to meet up with our sister for dinner and a walk around Washington Square Park.

to be continued

XO – MC