Why visit Harrisburg, PA? [A Weekend Trip: Highlights]

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When planning a visit to Pennsylvania, travelers often instinctively think of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh before considering its capital as a worthy destination. Now with a growing food, beverage, and art scene, and its own place in American history, Harrisburg and its surrounding areas are trying to prove that it can always be sunny this side of PA too.

“There has to be a story here.” A man, clearly very confused, stopped a group of seven women casually traveling as a pack in downtown Harrisburg. My college group of friends and I have been fortunate enough to reunite from various points of the US once a year. It started as an effort to visit one another no matter where we in the country we settled into. Four years in, and I’d say the efforts are going strong.

It was our dear PA-based resident’s turn to host for a long weekend. Our itinerary consisted of vineyard/brewery stops, Hershey Park, a scenic, historic stroll, and plenty of time to catch up. It turned out to be the perfect amount of activity and down time to suit the interests of a group our size.

Our home-base was in Mechanicsburg, a mere 20-minute drive from downtown Harrisburg. We were too early for the town’s Jubilee Day, “the  largest, longest-running, one-day street fair on the East Coast” (pennlive.com), but our weekend wasn’t short on memorable moments. We had amazing bites in all our food destinations, though I wouldn’t recommend poutine fries between rollercoaster stops at Hershey Park if you know what I mean.

Have you ever been around Harrisburg? I’ll share my recommendations particularly some must-try al fresco finds in the area in a post soon! Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or check out the Thrillist feature on Harrisburg or VisitPA for any Pennsylvania-related trip planning needs including free resources. Philly is definitely still on my list for my next time in Pennsylvania so I’ll have to make a return in the future. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

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Hello Brooklyn, how you doin’?

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One of the things I’ve loved about living in the northeast, particularly in New England, is how easy it is to take a quick trip and be totally transported into a whole other world. Within a few hours you could be bordering Canada or at the center of the world: New York City.

This past month, we planned a little escape to the concrete jungle around a dear friend’s birthday weekend. Now that we’ve gone to NYC a few times, we’ve been able to focus our adventures within our friend’s charming neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights. It is so picturesque and bears a resemblance with Boston’s Back Bay/Historic South End area. If you haven’t, you must see it for your self!

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For some birthday fun, we spent the evening at Zombie Hut (interesting name, right!?). They had a sizable jungle-inspired patio that was incredibly tempting with its greenery and tropical vibe had it not been for the damp and chilly day we were having. Thankfully they have ample indoor space for parties of different sizes, and the zombie elements sprinkled within this quirky little tiki bar make for some interesting conversation starters. We may just find ourselves back there again at some point for some cheap PBRs and Narraganset – yes, there’s ‘ganset in Brooklyn for all you New Englanders – or to try the intriguing $5 Hot Pockets. You have to wonder, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, how much would you pay for a hot pocket?

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The next day we continued our Brooklyn adventures around some drink destinations and of course, pizza.  Our must-see on this trip was Brooklyn Brewery. I appreciated how the tasting room stays true to its warehouse history and Brooklyn roots with minimal furnishings, brick walls, and a charming touch of cafe lights. It’s free to enter plus tours are free on Fridays and weekends. There wasn’t much of a line when we walked in so we easily got ourselves 5 beers for $20. $20!! Apparently there’s deliverable pizza available too, but we wanted to make-up for our derailed Fornino on Pier 6 plans by enjoying a couple of pies at their location a few blocks away.

We didn’t end there. Our food and drink tour of Brooklyn continued on to Spritzenhaus33 where the spacious and hip al fresco vibe is hard to resist a few steps from the subway station. We then grabbed empanadas at La Barrita to quickly satisfy our Latin American small bites cravings, all while facing the street at the open-window bar seats with impeccable people-watching views along Montague Street. We finished the evening with fancy bubbly varietals care of The Binc which was great for its intimate speakeasy feel as we were winding down from a fairly eventful day.

After an amazing cup of coffee at Swallow Cafe, we couldn’t possibly leave Brooklyn the following day without taking a walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park and the piers. The views just never get old. Plus, imagine all the picnicking possibilities!

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What’s on your must-see/taste/drink list for NYC? Share your ideas or thoughts below. I’d love to hear. I would definitely recommend all our stops to anybody looking for delicious food or satisfying drinks in Brooklyn all with an al fresco option. Thanks for reading!

x♡

Valerie


For more questions or information on sights and eats mentioned above, check out Brooklyn Brewery, Fornino, Spritzenhaus33La Barrita, The Binc, Swallow CafeBrooklyn Bridge ParkNYCgo, Yelp, or feel free to contact alwaysalfresco@gmail.com.

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I’ll Always Say YES to Wine, Chocolates and This Kind of Love

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a significant other or Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day with your favorites, I hope you have a love-filled day today and always ♥

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This year will mark our fifth year since getting engaged and saying big YES’s many more times to the adventure that has been our life.  Alex and I are far from planning our long distance rendezvous a la John Meyer’s Love on the Weekend (if you’ve been there before, you’ll want to take a listen). We’re glad for that. Little did our twenty-something selves know how many changes, surprises, hurdles, and lessons we would be encountering along the way. And yes, I’d still choose this life and this love every. single. time.

While we often opt to have a nice night in on Valentine’s Day, this year felt different. Our second winter here in Boston is teaching us valuable lessons on patience, teamwork, faith, home, and ultimately love. It seems only fitting to celebrate though still close to home and try to get away if only for a few moments.

We’ve always had quite the unconventional story, whether by choice or by circumstance, but it’s always been the story of us. It isn’t always rom-com style romantic, but it is always with heart.

Because I’m feeling a bit reminiscent, here are some of our cherished images, both from my instax and our phones (look at these babies!), of that fall-like, love-filled winter day at Glass House Winery in Charlottesville.  This is just one of the vineyards Alex and I enjoyed in Virginia’s Wine Country (see others from our recent trip here) from going to school around the area. Glass House in particular makes delectable hand-made chocolates and awesome wines in a one-of-a-kind setting, which are just a few of my favorite things! My company that day wasn’t so bad either 😉 Please bear with the image quality. We were living up that post-grad life with a post-grad wallet in 2012.

Alex had such an odd, serious-one-moment then funny-but-nervous demeanor on the drive there. Apparently he had the ring in the box in his pocket just so blatantly visible and within a hand’s reach from the passenger seat. I just had absolutely NO clue.

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I was just sipping on some wine, nibbling on some chocolates, ring-less at this point, and TOTALLY oblivious.

It was such a blur and such a strong memory at the same time.

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The vineyard was fairly quiet that day, so we were grateful for the other visitors who were able to snap this shot of us.

img_3754Then here I am easily smiling ear-to-ear with my new shiny Diment ring 🙂 (get it??)

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We finished our bottle of wine and box of chocolates and bought a couple more for home.

Tomorrow we spend V-day in a restaurant just a few blocks from our house. I seriously cannot wait for all of the yummy food.

How do you plan to spend your day? Feel free to share in comment below!

 

Valerie

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And if you liked what I was wearing, find my recommendations to recreate the outfit here:

Date Night/Valentine's Day Outfit: Collared Top + Statement Skirt

 

<< also found this one last minute at 51% off and most sizes available in regular or petite: Banana Republic Factory Printed Mini! >>