ZION'S NATIONAL PARK

ANGEL'S LANDING

One of my all time favorite places to visit in the spring and fall (way too hot for me in the summer) is Zion National Park. It truly is one freaking amazing place next to the Grand Canyon if you ask me! It is absolutely breathtaking and no wonder why people come from all over the world to hike around.

Angel's Landing gets its name from how high up it is. Only being a 5 mile round trip hike, it is one strenuous hike due to how high up you go! Just when you think you're at the top, you have to literally scale the mountain holding onto chains and dear life when other hikers are ready to pass you. Let me tell you this though- the views are absolutely amazing. For those daring enough to try this hike out, here's a little video so you know EXACTLY what you're signing up for!

 

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GREAT BASIN

 THE DARKEST SKY IN AMERICA

 

This past weekend we ventured to the darkest sky in America. Great Basin National Park. To be honest, I didn't even know this place existed, but lo and behold in White Pine County, Nevada is the darkest sky in America. The drive up to the campsite what a sight to behold in and of itself. Winding up steep hills on a two lane road to 10,000 feet although a little sketchy, it was awesome! We finally got to our campground and set up camp for the night along with our friends and waited for the night to fall so we could experience this night sky. With camp being so high up you don't need to worry about mosquitoes which was nice, and the dear roam freely around your camp unafraid of humans. With a rainstorm the night of our big hike, deer in the meadow, and the biggest, brightest, roundest rainbow I've ever seen, this weekend getaway did not disapoint!  

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THE STARS:

 Unfortunately I don't know how to use my camera and didn't get any pictures of the night sky- so I'll paint you a picture and you'll just have to take my word for it. I've never seen the Milky Way, but holy smokes was it a sight to behold! Let me paint you a picture. Tall pine trees surround you but just over yander is an open field, you carefully walk the road to the open field because yes, it is in fact quite dark and just over the massive mountain you're going to hike tomorrow the bright Milky Way meets with the mountain top.  Millions of stars strewn across the dark blue sky. The full moon starts to rise. You lay on the ground and start tracing out the constellations and pointing out the brightly beaming planets. With too many stars to count you start counting shooting stars. One..... two...... three.... four.... your wish bank is adding up. Crickets lightly chirping in unison in the background as if the earth is singing the moon a lullaby and your mind drifts off into oblivion thinking about the wonders of space.

Want to go?? You definitely should. The University of Utah's Astronomy department takes their huge telescopes down on the weekends and gives presentations to all the campers and whomever wants to attend. We opted out of the star gazing and telescopes for dutch-oven peach cobbler and some stargazing of our own instead, but if you've never seen the Milky Way this is a great place to do so!

THE HIKE:

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I love to hike, and do it fairly often if you haven't noticed yet, but I have to admit I was pretty nervous (silently of course) for this one. We were camping at 10,000 feet and we were hiking up to Wheeler's Peak which was over 13,000 feet. Hands down the highest hike I've ever been on and the highest in the air I have ever been without being in an airplane.  We prepared for an 8 mile round trip hike and much to our surprise it actually turned out to be a 12 mile hike. And yes, those extra four miles make a huge difference. And no, we did not get lost along the way.

I have found (for me) the most important thing is to keep a good pace and to breath as normal as possible to not get light headed, headaches or altitude sickness. Fun fact I also learned this trip was if you get a side ache to breathe out every time you step on the side your ache is, yes it worked well but messed up my breathing pattern. HA!

Now, I'm also pretty stubborn and this hike truly humbled me. It made me realize that

#1: it is okay to take breaks. Take them as often as you want and need. There is no race to get up a mountain and no competition, just the competition within yourself.

#2: It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get up the mountain, just as long as you do it.  

#3: It is all a mind game. You need to be confident and believe in yourself! Just when you think you can't do it anymore and your body tells you so, your mind has 40% more to give. 

 #4: Everyone is struggling to get up the mountain so don't feel like you're the weak link.

#5: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are a great prize for the top

#6: So are power naps.

It took us a around 3ish hours to reach the summit and the last 45 minutes of the hike I was done for. I would count my steps and once I reached 100 I let myself rest. The last 10 minutes I put my pride aside and was basically crawling up the mountain to reach the top. Guys, it was totally worth it! The view up that high was absolutely incredible! We ate our sack lunch we pack and I was so physically exhausted that I found a nice rock and fell asleep. haha go figure! I knew I could sleep most places, but Indian style with my body bent forward and my head resting on the ground is a new record! Pretty funny, but I had to muster up energy for the long trek down!

If you're looking for a challenging, but rewarding hike to do I would suggest this one. It is a beast but the accomplishment of doing it makes me want to hike higher mountains! Push yourself and you will be amazed at what you can do!

THE CAVE:

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Have you ever been in a cave that is 200+ feet underground? Neither had I until we made our last stop before leaving Great Basin National Park. This was no disappointment. It is a cold (seriously bring a jacket) hour long tour through the cave with a very knowledgable Park Ranger. The stalagmites and stalactites  were pretty sweet along with the Park Ranger's "dad jokes" and the history of the cave. I also recommend checking it out before you head out of dodge!

 

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CHICAGO

THE WINDY CITY

I often get asked my favorite U.S. city and I never have to think twice about my answer.  I first fell in love with the Windy City when I went there for my senior trip with my mom and cousin. The hustle and bustle of the city life amazed me coming from small town Provo, Utah. The sunshine and the beautiful architecture forever captured my heart.

Since then I have been able to visit Chicago several other times, all in the summer time. This year I decided to try out the fall and let me tell you- It was amazing!! Granted I got spoiled and seemed to have brought the sunny Southern California weather with me, it was a beautiful mid 60's weekend with the nights turning into that crisp fall air.

So here are some of my favorite touristy things to do in Chicago that seem to never get old, because I tend to do them every time I go!

EAT:

What is Chicago if you don't eat! Here are my favorite, well worth the wait, restaurants that you will regret not eating at.

Portillos

  • Recommend: Hot Dog with everything on it
  •  Steak Sandwich (I dip mine in ketchup)
  •  Chopped Cobb Salad                     
  • Cake Shake- they put a piece of chocolate cake into a shake... need I say more!?

Lou Malnati's- 

  • Recommended: The classic Lou Malnati's pizza and salad- I mean, if it ain't broke don't fix it!
  • Cookie Pizza... be warned, you will want two...
  1. Eataly -Yummy pizza and pasta
  2. Cindy's Rooftop-Yummy food and amazing city views!
  3. Frontier Grill- Great Mexican Food
  4. Howel's and Hood

Got a sweet tooth??

Try:

  • Garrett's Popcorn (I personally love the caramel/pecan combo
  • Stan's Donuts
  • The Doughnut Vault

TO DO:

Shedd Aquarium

I love this place! It is huge and has an AMAZING view of the Chicago skyline. One of my favorite places to have a picnic. Also I recommend watching the dolphin show and the beluga whale show.

Willis Tower Sky Deck

I highly recommend getting the VIP pass or else you will be waiting and hour or more just to get to the elevator to reach the sky deck. It was well worth the extra bucks.

 Architecture Boat Tour

I have been on this tour at least five times and I always make sure to do it whenever I am back in Chicago. I recommend bringing a jacket (even in the summer) because it tends to get pretty windy and chilly while on the boat.

Magnificent Mile

No better place to go shopping than the magnificent mile! This street literally has everything you could want from amazing shopping to yummy food. Enjoy!

Millenium Park

I know you're wanting to know where you can find the famous "bean" sculpture and this is where! It is a really fun park with a lot of fun activities and sculptures to offer. Of course you are going to go to the bean, but make sure you check out the face fountains, Buckingham fountain, and the outdoor auditorium. All really cool sights to see in the park while taking a stroll.

The Beach

I recommend visiting here at night, it is an amazing, different view of the skyline lit up. Bring a snack for an evening picnic.

 

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel 

Did you know this was the first ever build ferris wheel back in the 1800's? It was America's response to France's Eiffel Tower. Don't worry, it is safe, and maintained and a really fun, chill event to do out on Navy Pier.  Also on the weekends sometimes Navy Pier has fun concerts and shows. Also, there are tons of yummy food places to eat here so come hungry!

Wrigleyville 

If you have a chance to go to a Cubs game, GO! especially now that they won the World Series, fans are even more hyped on their team. Wrigley field is one of my favorite baseball stadiums. The ivy covered walls, the organ playing music, and the manual changing score board. Even if you aren't a Cubs fan, the ball park is worth a visit.

Chicago Theater

If you get a chance, and a great broadway is playing, make sure to hit up the Chicago Theater. It is the place where I first saw Wicked back in the day and is a beautiful Theater.  There are always great plays here so make sure to check it out!

DIVVY Bikes

Now this is only recommended for the brave, but renting a divvy bike is a great way to save money and somewhat easily get around the city.  I have never rode a bike in a busy city before and it is quite the rush at times. A divvy bike is $10 a day. They have stations every where and you need to remember to dock your bike every 30 minutes to not get charged extra.  They also have an app you can download that will help you locate where divvy stations are. Not to mention they are super cute!

 

I hope you enjoy the Windy City and its amazing history and architecture as much as I do!!

LAS VEGAS

VIVA, VIVA, LAS VEGAS!!!

WINNING IN VEGAS

Sin city... the entertainment capital of the world. With millions of dazzling lights both inside and out it truly is the city that never sleeps.  

 

 

Growing up spending my summers in Las Vegas with my grandparents, I never experienced the "Vegas" that everyone knows so well. All I experienced was the extreme heat. Fast forward fifteen years and I have now experienced a lot of things the city has to offer.  I love going to Las Vegas, but not for the partying until 6 am, or the booze, or even the gambling.  No I go strictly for the Thunder down under... HAHA joking! I've actually never seen it, but what I have seen are some amazing concerts, and cirque du soleil shows.  

Las Vegas is one of those vacations that remind me of groundhog's day.  It is the same vacation every time you go leaving you broke and with a headache.... but hopefully fun memories.  There is truly nothing like it and it keeps people coming back.

So I've been exploring fun things to do that will having you leave with unique memories, awesome pictures, and extra cash in your wallet.... assuming you don't loose it all playing blackjack. ;)

Here are a list of my favorites!!

TO DO:

The Seven Magical Mountains

Just 20 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip is the most beautiful desert art sculptures ever created... however I may be bias due to the fact it is the only desert art sculpture I've been to.  This place consists of seven colorful boulder pillars in neon colors.  Think of a retro Stonehenge. It is free to the public.  Definitely worth the detour from the city.

The Neon Sign Museum

Ever wonder where all the old Las Vegas signs go when they die??  Well, to the sign boneyard of course! This is a guided tour that sells out rather quickly so get your tickets in advance.  It is an hour long tour taking you through all the signs and giving you some fun history by this mob started city. I'd suggest going early in the morning due to the extreme heat... remember it's even hotter when you're around all the massive metal signs!

Tickets are $15 for adults or $10 for students.  Get your tickets here. 

Gold Spike: Get ready to turn into a little kid again!  Located in the old part of the town around Fremont street aka downtown Las Vegas. The gold spike is an adult's playground.  Basically you go for the great ambience.  Think corn hole, chess, darts, pool, beer pong, and jenga all blown up huge. Surely that right there is enough to draw you in to at least check it out right? They also have mini concerts outside and a full bar and dance floor. One of my favorite spots to go to when you don't want to do the typical "Vegas" night. It is also a hotel! I've never stayed there. You'll have to let me know how it is if you do!

Container Park: A shopping center made entirely out of shipping containers!? Say no more!! This place is really rad and has such a cool concept... There is a park in the middle of it and lots of good places to eat and galleries to browse.

Fremont Street: Want to know where the best people watching in Las Vegas is??? Wonder no more.  Fremont street- located downtown- used to be the old Las Vegas strip and the city has finally given it a revamp. It is totally nice, and trendy and a fun place to hang out and see the most interesting people. Remember the cowboy sign in Honey I Blew Up Our Kid? This is where you can see him. They have turned the ceiling of the street into a huge led screen and project an awesome light show.  Feeling adventurous, go ahead and zip line down the whole street! If you have a chance, go dance the night away at the Golden Nugget.  Don't worry there isn't a dress code so come as you are.  If you're having a sweet tooth craving, try the fried twinkies or friend oreos!

Bellagio and Wynn Gardens: Often times people forget about the Wynn gardens because the Bellagio are just so amazing and well you have the dancing fountains too, but if you're up for more beautiful botanical indoor gardens don't forget to stop by the Wynn gardens as well!

Las Vegas Sign: Your Las Vegas vacation wouldn't be complete if you didn't visit the famous Las Vegas sign! Don't bother waiting in line for a picture, just cheat and go off to the side. ;)

What are your favorite cheap things to do in Las Vegas?

RiSE LANTERN FESTIVAL

"RiSE elevates hope, ignites dreams, and creates moments you will never forget." -RiSE

 

Every October for the last three years just north of Las Vegas the most spectacular light shoe occurred for two nights. This is better than all the lights the Las Vegas strip has combined and will leave you more awestruck with a warm fuzzy feeling unlike any other.

Sure Las Vegas has a million things to offer, so why would you want to drive 30 minutes north to the desert and spend your Friday or Saturday night on an Indian Reservation with 20,000 of your closets friends? Well if the pictures aren't enough to convince you, maybe this one minute video will.

We arrived just before dusk into the dusty desert with excitement buzzing around us like a swarm of mosquitos (don't worry there weren't those because well- its the desert). After parking and setting my dad and Mimi off onto the assistance shuttle, we were off on our RiSE journey. You will start by walking roughly a quarter mile to the welcoming "RiSE" sign. May I suggest wearing boots or close toed shoes you don't mind getting dirty. Once you arrive make sure to get your picture now because if you wait, the line will be forever long or you will end up taking a sub-par selfie like we did.

Next you go to your assigned section and grab your lantern kit which includes a mat to sit on, two lanterns, and a marker to write your wishes with. 

Don't worry about finding a "good spot" because the venue is set up in a circle which means every spot is amazing and makes you feel like you've won the jackpot. The first year I went we parked ourselves in the middle of the circle close to the stage. It was great an all because you were surrounded by glowing lantern, however due to people not knowing what they are doing with the lanterns and trying to force them to float before they were ready we had to be on watch for any lanterns that may be floating directly towards your head. This year we stayed in the outer edge of the circle and it was still an amazing experience minus the risk of possibly getting struck by a lantern. 

Since you're out in the desert for hours at a time if you decided to take full advantage of the day, food trucks line the outer banks of the venue so make sure to come hungry!! Also, it's a desert folks, so port-a-pottys are the only option as well. I suggest bringing hand sanitizer.

So you now know about about the RiSE lantern event itself, but what is the purpose of it?  For some it is something to do on the weekend, for others it is a way of ending or beginning a chapter in their life. Some come with their loved ones, while others come with their friends.  The atmosphere is a peaceful, serene one. Most people I've come in contact with and stories I've read are those who need some inspiration or who have overcome a tragic life event.

Never have I been to something where everyone is loving and caring towards their fellow man. This isn't your average desert party. The music is melodic, and it is more of a spiritual experience if you will. People writing goals, inspiring quotes, and love notes to send to those in heaven. Last year I went with a boyfriend which was amazing, fun, and romantic. This year I was able to take my Mimi who has had a rough year since the passing of my Papa, and seeing her experience the event has been one of my most favorite memories with her to date.

Everyone should experience the RiSE lantern festival at least once.There really are no words to describe the feelings you feel, and yes it is totally okay to cry. I do every year. So mark your calendars for next October and get ready to be forever changed!!

 

*Subscribe to my blog for a chance to win a RiSE candle, the official scent of the festival!*

OSAKA

A 24 HOUR WHIRLWING

Let me start by saying this.... 24 hours just isn't enough time in Osaka.  That being said we managed to hit a few of the major key points that are must do for your time there.  I just hope you have more time than we did!!

Osaka Castle

Our first stop of the day was the Osaka Castle. There's no wonder why it has it's own emoji! This castle is one of Japan's most famous and iconic landmarks that was established in 1583! You can take a tour and walk through the castle if you have the time, or you can hang out on the castle grounds and walk around. Unfortunately time didn't allow us to go inside, but next time I'm in Osaka I have every intention to do so!

Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium

This is one of the world's largest aquariums and the main part of it holds 15 different aquariums and takes about 2 hours to walk through.  Trust me it is well worth it!  When we got to the main "pacific rim" themed aquarium, I think I spend an hour alone here. It is a 4 floor take that holds a ton of fish including the largest fish in the world.... the whale shark.  Not only did they have one, but they had TWO!! As far as I know this is one of the few places in the world where you can see a whale shark.  The size of these things are massive and make you feel like an ant to a human. DEFINITELY go here and tickets are roughly $25usd.

Dontobori Street

 

This is the most well known street in Osaka.  Comparable to tashikidori street in Harajuku or Shibuya in Tokyo.  With shopping, food vendors,  street artists, and arcades you definitely won't be bored here.  Just walking around and seeing all the store front signs alone will keep you entertained.  Main dishes to try here would be gyoza (pot stickers) and for the daring- fried octopus. We passed on that, but not before taking a picture of course! ;)

 

Hope you enjoyed your 24 hours in Osaka! I'd love to hear from you as what I should do next time I visit Osaka!

KYOTO

WITH EVERY STEP WE TAKE, KYOTO TO THE BAY STROLLING SO CASUALLY

Kyoto: A 48 hour guide

Now that you've experienced the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, lets calm things down and catch a breath for a bit. Caught it? Ok! be prepared to see the most you'll ever see, walk the farthest you'll ever walk, and sleep the deepest you will ever sleep after it is all done!  with shrines, temples, and the most beautiful zen gardens you'll ever step foot into. I'm talking Kyoto.  We were able to hit 7 major shrines in the 48 hours we were in Kyoto and if you're up to the challenge, I'll show you how it is possible.  It is a lot, I repeat, A LOT of walking and with time running against us we decided to hit the city hard and see as much as we could!  We can sleep when we are dead. Ready?? Lets go!

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VISIT:

Kyoto Station

When you arrive in Kyoto, you'll enter into a world known train station.  This has got to be the nicest, most advanced, and biggest train station I have ever been in! There are restaurants, shopping, and live performances with the Kyoto Tower right outside the train station doors. Get familiar with this place-- you'll be visiting often to get to the different shrines.

Nijo Castle

The grounds are HUGE, and shoes aren't allowed so make sure you wear cute socks than we did! It has a really cool history and some of the imperial family still lives on the property so definitely check this castle out and take the tour!

 

Yasaka Shrine

Located in the heart of the Gion District which is also where you will see lots of roaming geishas is this breathtaking orange and green shrine.  We arrived at dusk and continued staying on the grounds through the evening which in turn made for an empty shrine. I would definitely recommend going at this time to change things up.

Bamboo Forrest

Word to the wise, don't go to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove here at dusk/ night like we did.  You will have traveled quite some ways and end up disappointed. it was nothing like the pictures we had seen floating around on the internet however I truly believe that was only because it was dark and it isn't very lit up. So give yourself more time to walk through it in the light because I know it is beautiful!

 

Monkey Park

Definitely give yourself the whole morning and afternoon to visit the monkey park.  And you will be hiking up the mountain (more like a steep walk) to get to them so make sure to bring water and walking shoes. Once you reach the top you will be treated with a breathtaking view of Kyoto and the cutest red-faced furry friends.  For a few yen you can buy peanuts and bananas and feed them.  We spent a good portion of our day here and it was a great break in our shrine and castle touring.

 

Golden Temple

Definitely don't miss the golden temple. make sure to give yourself plenty of time because just like any temple or castle the grounds are huge and it takes a while to get through.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Probably the most iconic shrine when you think of Japan is the Inari Shrine. With close to 10,000 torii gates all having been donated by local businesses to bring good fortune. It takes about 2-3 hours to walk the entire thing, but if you're crunched for time (which if you're doing Kyoto in 24 hours you probably are) don't worry. You can walk as far into the shrine as you please and then turn around and go back. If you can only go to one shrine. THIS IS THE ONE! And of course, we made sure to save the best for last!

STAY:

For this part of the trip I booked a last minute AirBnB that was walking distance from the train station and came with a pocket wifi. It was conveniently located to the train station, but was far enough into the city that we were able to roam the residential streets of Kyoto.  It was fairly priced (we were actually the first to guests) and the hosts were very nice, accommodating, and spoke English. WIN. WIN. WIN. (side note: keep in mind everything in Japan is small so if it says 3 people, it really only sleeps 3 people. Also the size of a standard bed is a double so get your snuggle on!)

NEXT WEEK!! WANDERING TO OSAKA, JAPAN

TOKYO

I'M IN THE FAST LANE, FROM LA TO TOKYO!

 

Japan has always been on my visit list. Sushi, bullet trains, technology, shrines, castles, funky cafes, and geishas... Who wouldn't want to experience that!? And I heard once you visit Japan emojis suddenly make sense... well I can now confirm the rumors to be true. You're welcome. 

So, my trip to Tokyo was far from well planned out, but lets be honest- most of them are. My cousin and I went on a last minute whim which is always the funnest way to travel in my opinion.  We booked our tickets a week in advance which I find is when you get amazing deals for international flights and before we knew it we were off!  With no itinerary but just a list of ideas and sights to see we braved the long flight from LA to Tokyo briefly stopping in Vancouver for a quick power nap on the airport floor. (tip: get over any fears of germs in order to sleep. I had to do this and don't regret it.  Besides, it is all about building up that immune system, right!?)

Now that you've booked your ticket, there are a few must do things to prepare for your adventure, here is your "to-do check list". Ready?

TO DO BEFORE:

Obtain a valid passport:  Great news! You do not need a visa to travel around Japan, however a valid passport is required.

Buy a Japan Rail Pass: This is something that only tourists can obtain, and will be the cheapest way of getting around Japan if you are wanting to travel to different cities. Keep in mind that you will still have to pay for your metro rides through out the city, however they are only a few bucks.

Reserve Pocket Wifi: If only we had these in America!! Your own personal and password protected wifi.  Good for several devices and fairly cheap for your trip. I highly recommend this, because free wifi in Japan, although available, is hard to connect to.

Download a currency convertor app on your phone: This will come in handy when you are buying souvenirs, food, and taking money out of the ATM. (quick math ¥100= $1) 

Download google translate on your phone: Not many people in Japan speak English, however if you need help with directions or trains (they can be very confusing) this app will save your life! Talk English into the phone, select Japanese and WA-LA! You can communicate efficiently.

Download google maps on your phone: This will prevent you from getting too lost. Also it will show you all the times the trains will come and where to find them and what stop to get off. It's a cheat sheet for getting around without causing more attention to yourself. 

Set up an Air BnB account: This will be the most effective way to stay all over Japan while getting a good variety of Japanese living.

Great! You're all ready! Now for the fun part!! Planning what to do while in Tokyo! First let me tell you this; Japan is a HUGE country and Tokyo is a HUGE city.  You will be running around crazy sight seeing and experiencing all that Tokyo has to offer. On your way home you will feel as if you didn't get to see enough! That's okay! That just means you'll have to go back and visit again!! Anyway, here are a few of my favorite things we did in Tokyo that I highly recommend!

MUST PACK:

Comfy Walking Shoes

Rain Jacket

Compact Umbrella

Rain boots

Cliff bars

Portable Phone Charger (or two)

TO DO DURING:

Disney's Tokyo Sea

If you love Disney, then you definitely need to make a stop at Disney's Tokyo Resorts.  They Have two parks that make up Disneyland Tokyo, and with such a short trip to Tokyo, we decided to go to Disney's Tokyo Sea park because we knew it was going to be the most different of all the other parks.  We happened to go the day their Halloween holiday started so it was packed full of the most amazing halloween costumes I've ever seen.  Since this park caters to Ariel from The Little Mermaid, there were roughly 1,937,638 Ariels at the park. 

For today, I would recommend your most comfortable walking shoes, the park is massive and you'll be doing a lot of it!  I opted for my Nike training shoes. Also, bring your patience!! Not only for the rides, but also because you will get stopped a lot by cute Japanese teens asking for a picture with you.  Talk about feeling like a VIP! 

One of the many unique things about this park is the different flavored popcorn carts and seasonal flavored churros.  Make sure you walk around the entire park and try them all!! Also, don't expect to buy a lot of Mickey Mouse merchandise.  Yes, he's a big deal and all, but his teddy bear that his sweetheart Minnie Mouse gave him is a bigger deal.  If you want Duffy merchandise this is the place to get it!

So, if you have only one day to spend at the park, this is the one I would recommend. And it is only 60 yen! Far cheaper than the parks in the United States.

 

 

Shop Til You Drop:

 

Harajuku

I hope you're ready for this amazing place!! Harajuku is just as crazy as you might imagine. Upon getting off the train, you will come out to Takishidori Street. Don't get overwhelmed.  Yes it is sardine packed with people, but you can make it through, I promise! There is such a fun vibe here with a lot to see, do, buy, and eat! Who doesn't love eating!? This is a great place to do your shopping for fairly cheap and get awesome stuff! Don't worry my friends, they have a luggage shop so you can shop till you drop!!

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Upon total fluke we came across our favorite ramen house while in Harajuku and even made a special trip back before we left. The concept of ordering ramen from a vending machine and then getting served in the restaurant was amazing to me! You better believe I snap chatted the entire thing! If you're ever there, go eat at Ichiban Ramen House and eat a bowl for me! 

Once you get through Tashidori Street you will be able to breathe again and can wander off and explore the fun sub-city. Keep your eyes peeled for cosplayers and babydoll harajuku girls.  Also, this is a pretty trendy spot so most of the people speak English which is nice and chances are you won't be the only foreign one walking around.  

 

Shibuya Crossing

Want that "holy cow I'm in Tokyo!" feeling?? Well then, go here. Shibuya Crossing is the most iconic intersection on the earth. It is the Times Square of Tokyo. With everything from ¥100 yen shops (basically a dollar store) to Karaoke bars, arcades, restaurants, strip clubs, shopping, crazy people watching.  It is one of the craziest and memorizing things I have ever seen. The only reasonable description would be Organized Chaos! When that illuminesant white walk man appears the amount of people that are crossing the streets in every direction is a thousand times more than enough to kill any claustrophobic person. After sitting and watching the beauty of it up top at the nearby Starbucks; of course I had to walk it!  This is a definite must while visiting Japan!  

 

Pet Cafes

Basically you pay a bunch of yen to eat sub par pastries or order a drink (which is required), BUT you get to play with animals so who cares how much it costs! We opted for the owl cafe due to the fact that you can't really play with owls here in the states. They had all types of different owls in colors, shapes, and sizes.  The cafe we went to unfortunately didn't have baby ones but they had a HUGE one that was pretty neat. I suggest doing this for the experience and cute Instagram pictures 'cause lets be honest, that's our generation now a days! 

 

 

 

Museums

I'm all for one in diving into culture and seeing what cool pop up museums are in the area while you're visiting and luckily we were able to come across the Crystal Universe in downtown Ginza, Tokyo. It was the most beautifully peaceful museum I've been to with a thousand plus string lights that you could walk through while controlling the background music and color display from your smart phone.  (Duh, Tokyo is the technology capital of the world!) Now, BRING THIS TO LA!!!! (insert praying hands emoji)

 

Kabuki Theater

 If you want to really immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture, may I suggest going to see a show at the kabuki theater.  Unless you speak Japanese, I guarantee you will not understand a thing that is going on if you opt out of the translating headphones. However that's the fun in it right?  It gives you an appreciation for Japanese culture and Theater and gets you cultured.

 

 

Onsen (bath house)

For those who are shy while in their birthday suit, I might suggest skipping this activity OR finding a bath house with an outdoor co-ed area where swimsuits are required.  Basically think of going to a nice hot spring with different types of baths to renew and revitalize your body, mind, and spirit.  We did this our last night in Japan to cap off our trip.  We opted to go to the local bath house which was cheaper at 14 yen per person, however next time around I will opt for the more expensive and exclusive ones. Nonetheless the baths were amazing. My favorite baths were the tea bath and the milk bath which left me feeling revitalized  and silky smooth! 

(quick side note, tattoos are not permitted in any onsen house that I know of, and since you are completely naked you can't hide them.)

 

EAT

Other than eating an excessive amount of Ramen, every morning we would walk to the local pastry shop and load up on delicious carbs for breakfast and any afternoon snacks. I will always recommend going to a pastry shop no matter where you are to try the different pastries.  I was beyond pleasantly surprised at how delicious the pastries in Japan were!

Sushi restaurants are about as common as hot dog or taco carts are in New York City.  Meaning they are everywhere! You of course have to have sushi while in Japan, however when you come back to the states be prepared to be disappointed with every sushi you have hear on out.  Theres just nothing like the authentic cuisine of a country.

Lastly, If you are around the Tokyo, Urayashu area, then you MUST have shabu shabu! We made a reservation at a family's house turned restaurant for our last Japanese supper and I've never eaten so much or been so full in my life.  The sweetest family ever cooks and serves you all you can eat shabu shabu (think fondu Japanese style) complete with drinks and a ride back home all for 25 yen a person!  If youre interested in eating there contact me and I will give you their info since they are just a cute family and not full functioning restaurant.

And don't forget dessert!  make sure to try all the flavors of mochi balls!! Cookie Dough was a personal favorite of mine and can be found at any convince store.

Overall, the wacky and wonderful city of Tokyo should be on everyone's travel list. It will leave you exhausted and wanting more. We didn't even touch the surface of things to do with a few days we were there, but hey! thats just an excuse to go back right?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!! WANDERING TO KYOTO, JAPAN