With summer quickly approaching, we have been reminiscing last summer's European adventures. We have great news that we will be back in the UK this summer for a Scotland/Northern England expedition! Between now and the end of July, we will also be posting travel blogs on the lovely cities of Chester and Liverpool. So stay tuned for more awesome UK cities!
Last summer we spent a day in York wandering the historic Shambles and cobblestone streets. The weather was so very "British" that day and we were so cold (and wet) that we actually bought hats! Besides the typical English weather, York was completely charming. This was not our first trip to York as we have thoroughly enjoyed visiting a few times before! We put together some of the best places to stay, eat, drink, and play for you all to check out!
xxx Ivy & Eve
The Royal York Hotel - $$$$: This five-star hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a luxurious stay in York. Book a spa treatment for extra R&R time.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro $$$: If you're looking for a great hotel, but not looking to completely splurge on a room, this is the place! Hotel du Vin is located down the street from the York train station and just out of the busy hustle and bustle of downtown York. We love the tasty smorgasbord breakfast buffet, beautiful bar, and in-room Nespresso machines!
The Old Rectory $$: This B&B is located just outside the city center of York in the rural village of Thormanby. The Old Rectory was built in 1737 and is a grade two former rectory. It has tastefully decorated rooms and with a scrumptious breakfast menu featuring local eggs and produce whenever possible.
The Trembling Madness Apartments $$-$$$: If you are looking for somewhere to stay in the city center and are up for a spooktacular night, we recommend trying one of the apartments at the Trembling Madness (not all rooms are claimed to be haunted). Bonus: they have a lovely pub and bottle shop attached to the building! See the Eat & Drink section below for more!
Holiday Lets $-$$$$: There are some amazing deals for holiday rentals in York like this apartment with beautiful views of the Minster. These flats are perfect for families or groups traveling together. To get you started: Holiday Lettings, York Boutiquelets, Skyes Cottages, and Visit York.
Eat & Drink:
The Perky Peacock - $$: After our hour train ride from Manchester we wanted a little pick-me-up and stopped in this cute coffee shop. Situated right along the river in a tower, there are only a handful of cafe tables inside. If the weather is nice they have tables along the river to sip espresso and nibble on a toasted and buttered teacake (or more substantial breakfast items) before heading off for some York mayhem. They also have adorable logo mugs and totes available for sale!
Bettys Cafe Tea Room - $$$: Bettys is famous in York for your classic afternoon tea experience, however you have to make reservations in advance and it is very expensive. We opted for the Bettys Cafe Tea Room just down the street for a more casual, less crowded experience. We also ordered cream tea (this is tea, scone and clotted cream) since we wanted to go grab lunch later and a full afternoon tea leaves you stuffed for hours. Tip: We find a full afternoon tea is simply too much food. We suggest ordering cream tea and bubbly for the fancy effect of the afternoon tea without feeling overly stuffed.
Trembling Madness $: For a late afternoon lunch, we stopped in this medieval pub. Also known as Delirium Tremens (DT's), this pub has been open since drinking became a thing, and it has seen its fair share of disaster and death within its walls. The rear end of the building was first built in 1180AD, people were drinking there 312 years before Columbus sailed over our way. We were pleasantly surprised with how cool this place was! On the first floor of the building is a bottle shop where they sell beer, scotch, cider and more. On the second floor is the pub. We hunkered down in an alcove off to the side of the main dining area. The interior of the pub was fun with mounted animal heads mounted all over the place, and other hidden preserved animals (a baby alligator) were around the room. The beams of the pub are from an ancient ship that last set sail over 800 years ago! We ordered some hardy medieval inspired fare of a classic cheese board (cheese, bread, and assorted accouterments), and a steak and ale pie, all washed down with real ale and some cider.
The Refectory - $$$$: Looking for the fanciest place to dine for dinner? Then look no further than the Refectory. They serve dishes made from delicious local ingredients and delightful cocktails made to order. They also serve a magical Champagne Afternoon Tea that includes a glass of our favorite bubbly...Lanson.
Love Cheese - $$: This cheese shop has a large selection of Yorkshire, British, and Continental cheeses for sale. In their shop they also have cheese boards available to pair with a glass or two of wine.
No. 88 Walmgate - $$: Located in Hotel Indigo this bar serves up amazing York inspired dishes and some crazy cocktails. This bar is famous for its "Freakshakes" concoctions. These Freakshakes are loaded with anything from Kit Kats to gingerbread men.
LICC (Luxury Ice Cream Company) - $$: For a bit of heaven, head to LICC for some divine "lux" ice cream. You won't be sorry!
York Jorvik Viking Center -$$ : This museum tells the story of York's rich Viking history. This is truly an immersive experience where you smell the odors (good and bad) of a Viking town, sample the food they ate, and even get to try your hand at blowing a Viking horn!
Shambles Market - free: Wander York's most famous street- the Shambles, and visit its market full of local produce, goods, and souvenirs.
York Minster - $$: Visit the largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe. This place is visible from many points in the city, seemingly popping out from around each corner.
York Brewery - $: Not only is the York Brewery a place to sit and grab a pint and some pub food, they also have tours of the brewing magic. These are offered four times a day Monday through Saturday, and the cost includes 4 mini pint tasters (£8-Adult £6-Senior/Student £4-Child).
Antique Shopping - Free: There are a bunch of lovely shops to fix your antique needs. We really like the Red House Antique Center right across from the Minster.
W. Hamond - $$$-$$$$: If you're looking for a pretty souvenir, we suggest heading to W. Hamond. This jewelry shop on the Shambles is tiny but packed with lovely treasures. Whitby Jet is one of the local stones of Yorkshire (found on the coast) and W. Hamond has a great selection of the slightly Gothic yet completely chic stone jewelry.
York Museum Gardens - free: If you like English gardens, then the York Museum Garden is the perfect place to visit. Surrounded by St. Mary's Abbey, these gardens are filled with botanical wonders and over 30 species of birds. Be sure to stop in the York Museum as well which is rich with some of England's most precious archaeological treasures.
The Original Ghost Walk of York - $: This tour claims to be the first of its kind in the world! Held nightly, this tour will surely satisfy anyone's appetite for scary stories as York has been named the most haunted city in England, and possibly Europe!
York Pass - $$-$$$: If you are planning to visit more than two of York's attractions in a day, then the York Pass is great bang for your buck. With this pass, you have complete access to over 30 fantastic attractions in York (York Minster, Clifford's Tower, Castle Museum, York Brewery, York Art Museum, or York Dungeon to name a few) and includes some great discounts on a number of other places.
A little while ago, Eve headed down south for a mid-week mini trip with her boyfriend P, her high school bestie K, and her boyfriend C. With P and C not being from the Golden State (P is English and C hails from the East Coast) K and Eve decided that they should all take the drive south to Santa Barbara for some quintessential California weather, wine, and culture.
K is a fellow foodie and wine lover so planning this trip was a piece of cake: eat all the food, drink all the wine, and enjoy as much sunshine as possible. Check her out on Instagram: @cooking_with_koko
Eve and the crew headed out for the two-night getaway early on Monday morning to make the most of the trip. Here are some of our SB favorites:
xxx Ivy & Eve
- Hotel Milo- This beachfront boutique hotel is the PERFECT basecamp for all of your Santa Barbara adventures. They host a daily happy hour (featuring local wines), have an amazing daily breakfast, a fleet of cruiser bikes which are free to use! We stayed in their Deluxe King room with a sleeper sofa, which was perfect as our cousin J stayed with Eve and P for a night.
- Lucky Penny- Lucky Penny serves to-die-for pizzas, salads, and brownies (we would go as far as saying the best pizza in SB). You order at the counter and can take it to-go or do what we did - and sit out on their picnic patio and enjoy the warm Santa Barbara weather.
- Lark- Owned by the same people as Lucky Penny and located just next door, Lark is the older, more sophisticated sister. The menu is broken down into three categories: From the Farm, From the Ocean, and From the Ranch. They serve only the freshest ingredients and have an impressive wine list. Great for a date or special occasion!
- Sandbar- Sandbar is a great spot for casual cocktails and tasty (and affordable) Mexican fare. Their Happy Hour lasts from 3-7pm Sunday-Friday. We recommend any of their margaritas!
- State & Fig- Hands down the best spot for lunch. State & Fig is located in one of the quiet outdoor arcades just off of State Street. Each item on the menu looked better than the last. We finally chose our dishes - and we were not disappointed. We recommend having a glass (or two) of bubbles and trying anything on their daily specials list; or go for the Fig Burger which ended up being the group favorite!
- Sambos- A true Santa Barbara classic and has been in business since 1957. Our Mom used to go here on the weekends when she was in college and it is pretty much exactly the same! Their Eggs Benedict is amazing. P got the Crab Benedict which was a special and Eve got the California Benedict with tomato, avocado, and spinach. They also serve up the biggest mimosas we have ever seen! Sit on the patio to soak up the sunshine and people watch.
- Backyard Bowl- This place creates the tastiest Acai bowls, smoothies, and hot breakfast bowls. We recommend Backyard Bowls for a quick, nutritious, and totally Instagram worthy breakfast!
- Joe's Cafe- Another true SB classic. Opened in 1928, Joe's serves classic steakhouse meals (order a French Dip if you're hungry) and some of the stiffest drinks in Santa Barbara. Order a drink and step back in time.
- Funkzone wine tasting- Santa Barbara's Funkzone is home to 13 different wine tasting rooms. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the Funkzone but if you can only stop at one Tasting room, we wouldn't miss Kunin Wines (see below).
- Kunin Wines- Our hands down favorite tasting room in Santa Barbara. Kunin is everything we like in a tasting room. We were greeted with a smiling and knowledgable host and chose from several tasting flights. We ended up having 2 red and 2 white flights so we could all share. Above the bar the sign reads "join the coolest wine club in town" (they know they're good but also don't take themselves too seriously). The atmosphere is fun and casual; like having a drink at a friend's house. We all left with several bottles (none lasted unopened very long).
- Mission Santa Barbara- The top cultural attraction in Santa Barbara and nicknamed the "Queen of the Missions". Simply stunning.
- Biking along the beach- We rented bikes (free at the hotel) for 2 hours and explored the coastline on the wonderful boardwalk trail.
- SBMA- The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is the perfect place to spend hours exploring over 5,000 years of human creativity.
- The Blue Door- A labyrinth of a shop spanning 3 floors filled with vintage and new items. We spent far too long in here for the boyfriend's liking.
- State Street- State Street has everything and anything you would want in a day of serious shopping. You'll find a mix of high street and boutique shops. There is something for everyone!