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 - $$$-$$$$: If you're looking for a pretty souvenir, we suggest heading to W. Hamond. This jewelry shop on the Shambles is tiny but packed with lovely treasures. Whitby Jet is one of the local stones of Yorkshire (found on the coast) and W. Hamond has a great selection of the slightly Gothic yet completely chic stone jewelry.
York Museum Gardens - free: If you like English gardens, then the York Museum Garden is the perfect place to visit. Surrounded by St. Mary's Abbey, these gardens are filled with botanical wonders and over 30 species of birds. Be sure to stop in the York Museum as well which is rich with some of England's most precious archaeological treasures.
The Original Ghost Walk of York - $: This tour claims to be the first of its kind in the world! Held nightly, this tour will surely satisfy anyone's appetite for scary stories as York has been named the most haunted city in England, and possibly Europe!
York Pass - $$-$$$: If you are planning to visit more than two of York's attractions in a day, then the York Pass is great bang for your buck. With this pass, you have complete access to over 30 fantastic attractions in York (York Minster, Clifford's Tower, Castle Museum, York Brewery, York Art Museum, or York Dungeon to name a few) and includes some great discounts on a number of other places.
We love Montana and its endless big sky. Our Dad was born and raised in Great Falls and every year we visit our Grandpa who still lives there, and unwind in our family cabin in Wolf Creek. For the past several years we have been spending Thanksgiving at the cabin, and although this holiday we could not make the trip all together, Ivy and our Dad went for a long weekend trip. Ivy visited Great Falls and Helena (Montana's Capitol) but she spent most of her time at our cabin hiking with our dad and enjoying some time off. Lucky Her!
Here are some of our recommendations for things to do and places to eat & drink.
xxx Ivy & Eve
Bites & Sips:
$ The Sip 'n Dip Lounge Great Falls, MT. This place is a serious MUST see. It's inside the O'Haire Motor Inn, walk right in and head up the stairs to the Lounge. It's essentially a Tiki Lounge with ocean themed decor and the focal point being a huge glass 'Mermaid' tank behind the bar with real mermaids swimming around! Be sure to check out the schedule so you are there when they are swimming behind the glass. They also have a killer $2 well drink/domestic beer happy hour Monday-Friday 6-7pm and again from 10pm -12am. We recommend trying their fishbowl (with some friends) and their signature blue mimosa!
$$ The Celtic Cowboy Great Falls, MT. Ivy stumbled upon this place when looking for places to eat in Great Falls. This place definitely has an Irish pub atmosphere including their menu and decor. They have everything from fish and chips to bangers and mash to fill your Irish heart (and stomach) with joy. We tried the Irish nachos that include house made potato chips topped with an assortment of goodies on top including dubliner cheese and corned beef. It was tasty but we warn you the portions are HUGE!
$$$ The Hawthorn Helena, MT. We wish they had a sister store here in CA because this place was amazing! The Hawthorn is a wine bottle shop and tasting room. Wine bottles with individually hand written tags line the shelves on either side of the entrance. A long wooden bar made from reclaimed pine bark beetle wood (the pine bark beetle leaves a blue ting to the wood) welcomes you. They have an extensive wine list and wine on tap! You can even fill growlers of wine for the road as well. Our favorite item on the menu this trip was the chardonnay slushie. This is the perfect place to meet friends! Grab a drink and meat and cheese platter for an afternoon snack or a drink before dinner.
$$ The Parrot Confectionery Helena, MT. Although this place is locally known for their chocolate shop don't overlook the diner! The Parrot has been open in downtown Helena since 1922, and makes 130 different types of candies. We have been going here for as long as we can remember and ALWAYS order the same thing. A small bowl of chili. We wouldn't say its the best chili in the world but it always tastes the same, and always tastes good. (Try it with a side of vinegar and Saltine crackers.) Also on the menu is a large selection of flavored sodas, milkshakes, malted milkshakes, and phosphates (a tart twist to a regular soda). Ivy always orders a huckleberry milkshake, Eve usually tries something different each time but the malted milkshakes are her favorites. After a bowl of chili you can't pass up the sweets!
$$$ Izaaks Restaurant Craig, MT. Craig is one of the most popular fly-fishing areas in Montana - located in the middle of nowhere - between Great Falls and Helena. The town sits on the banks of the Missouri river. Izaaks Restaurant was born out of a need to feed the hungry anglers after a long day on the river. If you're in the area we highly recommend this place - great steaks! Bad news for anyone visiting in the fall-winter they are only open during the fishing season (around April-September).
$ C.M. Russell Museum Great Falls, MT. If you are a fan of western art and history this museum is for you. A treasure trove of C.M. Russell's art and life, the museum also features other Western artists. The museum includes C.M. Russell's original artist's studio and cabin.
Free Giant Springs State Park Great Falls, MT. This park set on the scenic Missouri River is steeped in history. Recorded as the largest freshwater spring in the country by Lewis and Clark in 1805, it is the perfect place to picnic, walk along the trails, feed fish in the hatchery, or visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. There is plenty to do for adults and children.
Free Gates of the Mountains Helena, MT. If you like hiking, this is the place for you! A wilderness area made up of 28,000+ acres and 53 miles of trails.
Free-$ Holter Lake Helena, MT. Holter lake is located in the Gates of the Mountains. The lake offers swimming, boating, and camping. Try a Ferry Tour which runs from May-September. Adults are $16 and children $10. Book a tour here!
$$ Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine & Gold Fever Rock Shop Helena, MT. This mining shop is really fun to visit. You can buy a bag of sapphire gravel at the store and sift through it outside looking for a variety of stones including diamonds, rubies, and of course sapphires.