Labor Day at The Brampton: On Video

A week and a half ago, I packed my bags again (although they were mostly still packed from my recent trip to Texas) and headed upstate to a luxury cabin called the Brampton with a group of my closest friends. It was largely the same group that took over the Bahamas last winter, so we knew we’d travel well together. To be honest, it wasn’t my ideal sort of trip – lots of time in the woods, hiking, adventure sports – but the quality time with friends is always, always worth it.

Here’s a video of our adventure, featuring a bonfire, a swimming hole, and my newest love – a speedboat. Enjoy!

Labor Day at The Brampton from Leigh Anne Zinsmeister on Vimeo.

A trip to Texas Hill Country

Although I already reached my goal of taking 12 trips in 2016, I just can’t seem to stop travelling! Two weeks ago I packed my bags again and hopped on a plane (weirdly my first flight since March!) and flew out to visit my sister in the hill country of Texas.

Although I lived in Texas for six years and have visited frequently since leaving in 2008, I had only been to the small city of San Marcos once before, for a wedding many years ago. I was so excited to explore with a local and see what this place has to offer.

Brunch at The Root Cellar, San Marcos, Texas

Our first order of business, naturally, was brunch. Ally and her best friend Angelica took me to their favorite spot, where I scarfed down as much French toast as I could handle and then marveled at the $13 check. Definitely not in New York anymore!

Texas State University

A tour of Texas State University was necessary, and I have to say it was really fun being back on a college campus! Especially because classes just started THIS week, so there were very few people around as we explored, and the clearance section of the bookstore hadn’t been raided.

San Marcos, Texas

Seriously, San Marcos is just the cutest place – we kept coming back to the square for more food, coffee, shopping and ice cream.

Donuts from Shipley

As usual, this trip was all about the food for me. I demanded trips to Torchy’s for tacos and Shipley for donuts, much to the amusement of my sister and her friends, who eat these delicious treats on a regular basis.

San Marcos River

As you  may have noticed, it was overcast and rainy for my entire trip. A real bummer, since San Marcos is very much an outdoor town! I wanted to go tubing in the river but the weather never cooperated, so I settled for a walking tour on my last evening in town. I seriously felt like I was in a country song!

Greetings from San Marcos, Texas

San Marcos, you’ve won me over. Until next time!

P.S. You can read A’s take on my home on her blog today!

#take12trips: Complete!

Back in January, I set the audacious goal of taking 12 trips in 2016 (an idea I borrowed from Clare over at Need Another Holiday). It felt absurd for a number of reasons, including the fact that I have a full-time job with limited vacation time, and the memory of only leaving New York City four times in all of 2015. But I set the goal anyway. The guidelines I set for myself were pretty simple – if I left New York’s five boroughs, it counted – and that certainly made it easier to accomplish. As of the end of last month, I’ve taken 12 trips – and there are more to come! Here’s a look back…

The Washington Monument on a foggy day, Washington DC
1. Washington, D.C.

I started the year by jumping on a bus to visit my friend Courtney in her new home, and we had a great weekend hanging out, eating and sightseeing – despite the rainy weather and the fact that we both had horrible colds.

Sunset in Allen, Texas
2. Dallas

Trip number 2 came somewhat unexpectedly when I found dirt-cheap flights to Dallas on my mom’s birthday weekend. It was my first trip to see them in about a year and a half, so we had a great time shopping, visiting museums and just hanging out!

Marina Green, San Francisco
3. San Francisco

My best friend and I decided to meet up in her favorite city for once – bonus that I had never been and had always wanted to go. It definitely lived up to the hype!

Sunrise on the beach in Nassau, Bahamas

4. The Bahamas

Another spontaneous long weekend away because of a cheap flight, this one motivated by the miserable New York winter.

View of downtown Phoenix, Arizona
5. Phoenix

I re-ignited an age-old tradition this year by spending a week in Arizona for MLB spring training! Bonus that I have a ton of friends and family there, and my parents joined me as well.

Breakneck Ridge, New York
6. Breakneck Ridge

My friends somehow tricked me into climbing a mountain upstate, but I was well rewarded with ALL THE FOOD in Cold Spring after.

View from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia
7. Philadelphia

I didn’t love Philadelphia, true, but I was thrilled to take advantage of a transitional period and squeeze in an adventure!

Long Beach, New York
8, 11. Long Beach

I have, as you know, become quite the professional beach bum this summer. It’s just too easy to take advantage of!

Mural in Jersey City
 9, 12. Jersey City

I haven’t written about Jersey City at all, because I’ve just been hanging out at my friend Ashley’s apartment, but hey – the walk through Little India is cultural and the street art is on point.

Jones Beach
10. Jones Beach

Not my favorite beach, if only because it’s so hard to get to, but hey – can’t beat a day trip.

I’m excited to see just how many trips I can cram into 12 months – I’m off to Texas again on Wednesday, and I’m thinking at least one more beach trip before summer ends. But as I’ve learned – some of the best vacations are spontaneous!

Currently: August 2016

 

San Francisco-style building on the Lower East Side, New York City

I love this building on the Lower East Side – it reminds me of San Francisco!

It’s August! I’m actually really excited for this month – some people I love are celebrating birthdays, the summer excitement is still in the air but the promise of cooler weather is looming, and I have some exciting travels coming up – more exciting than New Jersey and Long Island, I promise. Here’s what I’ve been up to for the last 30 days!

Reading: I finished Americanah this morning, and I loved it, but was super disappointed in the ending. I have a couple “easy” reads lined up next.

Wearing: It’s been too hot and humid lately to wear anything but shorts (or skirts, to the office) and cotton tops.

Buying: Just ice cream, mostly. (See: Way too hot outside. I’ve definitely become a hardened New Yorker!)

Listening to: I recently discovered the Best of Friends podcast and have been listening to old episodes on my commutes, especially when election coverage sends me running from NPR (I love NPR and their coverage, but sometimes you just need some humor in your day!)

Eating: Lots and lots of salads and fruit. I was REALLY proud of this fruit tray I put together for the opening ceremonies!

Watching: Mostly re-watching old shows for the summer (FriendsGrey’s Anatomy, Parks and Rec), and getting SO excited for the Gilmore Girls revival in November!

Planning: My sister is doing most of the planning for this, but I’m going to visit her in Texas NEXT week! And then I’m heading upstate for Labor Day – but again, letting my friends do the planning. I think I wore myself out planning trips earlier in the year!

Excited for: TONS of travel, my best friend’s birthday this week, seeing my sister for the first time in over a year, picnics, my best friend from college visiting in October, etc etc etc

Books read: 25/52

Trips taken: 12/12 – That’s right, I’M FINISHED! But not really. I can’t wait to see how high this number gets before January!

And how is YOUR August going?

World Trade Center, New York City, at sunset

Getting to know New York’s beaches

When I moved to New York City from Phoenix two years ago, I thought one of the things I’d miss the most would be easy access to the Pacific Ocean. I was so used to packing my bags and jumping in the car on a whim every time I needed a beach vacation, and that became even easier when one of my best friends moved to Los Angeles after college. I thought having the beach a six-hour drive or 45-minute plane ride away was a luxury I was sacrificing in favor of my big-city dreams.

But as it turns out, New York has beaches. New York City even has beaches. And this summer in particular – my third on the east coast – I’ve become a bit of a beach bum and begun exploring what it turns out are the many, many beach options a day-trip’s distance from my Brooklyn apartment. Granted, they’re not Malibu – but they’re not bad.

Long Beach

Long Beach, New York

I think Long Beach is my favorite of the New York beaches I’ve explored so far. It’s easy to get to – right off the Long Island Railroad, which you can get at Penn Station or at any number of stations in Brooklyn and Queens. Long Beach is also incredibly well-kept. Its only downside as far as I can see is that there’s a fee. BUT – pro tip- if you buy a beach getaway package at your train station, you get a round-trip ticket and a beach pass for less than $25. Worth it.

Jones Beach

Jones Beach

I wanted to go to Jones Beach because I had heard it was a really nice beach – not as crowded or dirty as some of the options closer to the city. It turns out that the reason for that is it’s very difficult to get to! We took the Long Island Railroad again, to Freeport, and had to catch a bus there to the beach itself. And after all of that, the beach was still pretty crowded. We still had a great day, though – it IS a clean beach, and there are a lot of food options and indoor spaces you can hang out in if it starts to rain (speaking from experience here). And it’s free! All told, though, it’s just not worth the hassle, especially when you factor in the unpredictability of traffic.

The Rockaways

Rockaway BeachThe Rockaways are the furthest-out of the New York City beaches. You can get there on the subway, which is awesome because it’s no extra money if you have an unlimited metrocard. There are a ton of food options as well – I’ve had some of my favorite tacos in NYC out by the beach. The Rockaways are my beach of choice for solo beach trips, without a doubt – you just can’t beat the convenience and value!

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach is in BROOKLYN, which blows my mind on a regular basis. It’s also accessible via subway, but since it’s off multiple lines and isn’t very far from Manhattan, it gets very crowded and VERY dirty. I haven’t ventured out there at all this season because I’m very much of the “once was enough” mindset on this one. Still, it’s ideal if you’re crunched for time – a full “beach experience” can be had in half a day, easily.

Coney Island

Coney IslandOK, I’ve never actually been to the beach at Coney Island (I walked out there just to take this photo), but I’ve spent enough time on the boardwalk to know that it’s not for me. It’s packed with tourists year-round, and is very much the east coast (and far inferior) Santa Monica. Hit it up if you want to eat at Nathan’s or ride the coaster, but if you want to lay out with a book – skip Coney Island.

Still on my list: The New York area has so many beaches and there are still so many I’m dying to visit! Next on my list are Jacob Riis Beach, Orchard Beach (this one’s in the BRONX of all places), and Sandy Hook in New Jersey. What are your favorite beaches in the area?