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Las Cruces, New Mexico

As I’m feeling the stresses of starting a new job, the school year ending for the kiddos and the overall stress of being a mom, I knew I needed a couple days away to unwind and relax.  My sister lives in El Paso and Las Cruces is less than an hour drive away.  I booked a flight while Southwest was having a sale and told my sister I was coming!  She booked a couple nights at Hotel Encanto and a plan was hatched.  While researching what to do on our mini vacay, I found the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau website.  This site has tons of information about Las Cruces including restaurants, events and things to do.  Make sure you visit this site before you go to help plan your trip.

When we arrived in Las Cruces, we checked into our hotel and then headed to the small town of Mesilla to shop and eat.  There were plenty of small shops to wander in and out.  A bookstore, a cute tea store, an olive oil store and lots of gift shops.  We made a stop at NM Vintage Winery and had a red wine and sangria flight and cooled down from the hot sun.

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We continued to explore Mesilla and hung out on the square and listened to a live band.  At the suggestion of the Uber driver, we went to La Posta (which is on the Green Chile “Walk of Flame”) for dinner.  We ordered the fajitas and it was delicious!  Very interesting place as it has live birds in cages when you walk in!  It fills up fast so get there early!

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The next morning, we ate breakfast at our hotel, omelette for Richelle and a stack of pancakes for me, and we headed out to the Organ Mountains to hike to Dripping Springs.  The hike up the trail is supposed to be easy but if you are out of shape like me and the sun is out…..  Let’s just say we needed to take a few breaks and sit down in the shade.  Once we reached Dripping Springs, it was beautiful and shaded.  The spring wasn’t actually dripping since it is so close to summer but walking around the old Van Patten Mountain Camp was really cool to see.  The hike back down was easy as it was all downhill and we were able to get great pictures.  Make sure you pack plenty of water, wear sunscreen, bring a walking stick and extra bandaids.

 

We worked up quite an appetite for lunch and it wasn’t even noon yet!  We went to Pecan Grill and Brewery located just across the street and ate a fantastic brunch!  The food was excellent as well as the service!  Richelle had the street tacos and I had the Brewer Bites.  I HAD to get something with green chiles and the garlic fries made a perfect side!  Oh, and everything tasted good with a pitcher of mimosas!  Ask for the orange/pineapple juice combo!

 

 

Next up was the Las Cruces Wine Festival!  We were really excited to check out some of New Mexico’s best wines!  After a $45 Uber ride to the fairgrounds (YIKES!) we arrived to a very crowded wine festival.  We were able to sample a few wines but the lines were pretty long, not moving and in the sun.  We found a short line with Frose (frozen rose wine) and bought a glass.  We sat in the shade and watched a painting class which was pretty amusing!  To be honest, I’m not sure if I would recommend going to this if you are in town this particular weekend.  The tickets were $20 each, Uber costs us $90 and we ended up buying 2 glasses of wine each because the lines to taste were so long and mostly in the sun.  So over $150 we spent and walked away with 2 tiny wine glasses and a sunburn.  My recommendation – skip the wine festival and find a nice restaurant that serves local wine.

 

 

When we arrived back to our hotel, exhausted and sunburned, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant again since we had great food for breakfast.  Richelle had a yummy fajita beef salad and I went local again with chalupas.  Once again, it was delicious!

 

We packed everything we wanted to do in less than 48 hours!  On the way back to El Paso, we stopped for breakfast at Mesilla Valley Kitchen.  While it was tempting to get the Hangover Burrito, we went with the breakfast sandwich and potatos.

Las Cruces was the perfect girls weekend getaway!  We had great food, great wine and enjoyed the town.  We stayed at Hotel Encanto and I would recommend staying there.  They have a great restaurant, a fun bar and it’s beautiful.  It’s close to the mall and many great restaurants.  While we didn’t go to White Sands this time (since we went there with the kids a few months ago) I would recommend checking it out since it is close to Las Cruces.

Oh, and I’m having buyer’s remorse over this cute dress that I didn’t get!  Next time…..

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Girls Trip to Santa Monica

Every year, my sisters and I plan a trip together.  This year we decided to go to Los Angeles.  My mom and my sister-in-law joined us!  How did we decide LA??  Easy!  Southwest was having a big sale and my sister, Richelle in El Paso, and I started searching for cheap flights to somewhere we haven’t been to since we were children.  I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive flights!

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The crew:  Julie, Andrea, Richelle and Rita (not pictured:  ME!)

We decided to stay in Santa Monica within a few blocks from the beach so we could walk around the city with ease or use the Bird Scooters!  You have got to check those out if you go to Santa Monica!  When we went into LA, we took Uber so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking.

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Definitely head to Venice and check out the shopping on Abbot Kinney.  After you shop til you drop, you have to wander over to Venice Beach just to say you’ve been there!  We didn’t stay long.

One day we went into LA to check a couple places off our list.  The first was the OUE Skyspace and the fun slide!  We had brunch at Perch and enjoyed the views from the rooftop.  We strolled through the LA library and then took an Uber to Griffith Observatory.  Here is your fair warning about Griffith Observatory:  Be prepared to sit in traffic on your way up.  Also, it is not as peaceful as it looks in all the pictures online.  It is crowded and there are people everywhere.  On the flip side, it has gorgeous views!

 

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It was a great girls getaway and I’m looking forward to next years with my sisters and my mom!

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How to plan for a perfect girls’ getaway!

Ever find yourself tired, uninspired and just need a break from real life?  Me too.  One of the ways I get myself out of this rut is to plan a girls getaway with my girlfriends or my sisters.  It doesn’t have to be big or involve air travel!  It’s about relaxing for a couple days and not worrying about the day to day stresses.  Here is a quick guide on planning your girls trip:

  1.  Look at your calendar.  Choose 2 different dates that work for you.  Chances are higher that your girlfriends can join you on one of those dates.
  2.  Get your girls on the same page!  Initiate the trip!  Send a quick group text message to let them know that you are planning a girls getaway on either date that you chose.  Ask if they have a preference and go with the majority.
  3. Decide on a location.  Want to keep it low-key and drive an hour out of town?  Decide who is driving (usually the person with the biggest car!).  Do you have a little more time and can take a flight?  Try and coordinate flights to sync if you are coming from different areas.
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    My tribe: Julie (sister), Andrea (sis-in-law), Richelle (sister) and my mom, Rita. Girls Trip to Los Angeles (January 2018).
  4. Start a private Facebook event for your girls trip.  This way, you can post ideas and travel arrangements so you all have the same info.
  5. Ask each person what top two attractions they definitely want to see.  Then plan around those.  Group them together in location so you can maximize your time during your vacation and plan around them.  Buy a book, read travel blogs or check out Pinterest for ideas on places to visit.
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    I found this book at the AWAY store in Austin for our last girls trip to Los Angeles.
  6. Have your own vacation countdown.  Whether it’s on your phone or on your calendar, sometimes the act of counting down to a vacation makes us happy and the time just flies by!
  7. Go!  Have fun!  Relax by the pool or beach!  Go shopping!  Eat good food!  Do something you wouldn’t normally do!  Explore a new city!  Bond with your girlfriends!  After all, that’s what we are here for!  Cultivate those relationships!

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El Paso

El Paso is a west Texas gem!  We recently traveled to visit my sister and her family over the Christmas break and had so much fun!  There is so much to do in El Paso!  First on our lists of places to visit was Chamizal National Memorial and the El Paso Zoo.  The Chamizal National Memorial is part of the US National Park Service so don’t forget to bring your National Park Passport to get stamped!  We haven’t been to many national parks so we bought our first National Park Passport when we visited.  The museum does not take long to walk through so bring a picnic lunch or walk around the park to enjoy all it has to offer.  The El Paso Zoo is close by so after we had our picnic, we headed to the zoo.  The zoo takes about 2 hours to go through if you aren’t in a hurry and let the kids play on the giant playground.  We also saw the bird show that I highly recommend!  These two attractions are located in close proximity so you could definitely do both in one day.

The next day we headed to the National Border Patrol Museum.  The kids enjoyed being able to get into the vehicles and helicopter that are in the exhibit.   Do plan ahead as it is only open Tuesday through Saturday, 9-5.  Oh and lunch at Burritos Juarez!  Y’all have GOT to go to Burritos Juarez!  Everything is made fresh and their aguas frescas are delicious!  We wanted to go back before we left but realized that they were closed on Sundays.  You must go to Burritos Juarez when you are in El Paso.

And now for our most fun day…..  WHITE SANDS, NEW MEXICO!  White Sands is less than 2 hours away from El Paso!  Make sure you bring your disc sleds!  We brought 4 to share between the 10 of us and it was fine.  It was a beautiful day and we stayed for a few hours.  Here’s a tip:  drive back as far as you can go and it is less crowded.  Find a covered picnic table and park next to it and it’s yours for the day!  We looked for an area with a bathroom as well since we had 6 kids with us!  Don’t forget to pack your picnic lunch, snacks and drinks because there is nothing out there.  And your National Park Passport to get stamped!

Sunday was our last official full day in El Paso.  We started off the morning by going to church on base and then headed to lunch at L&J Cafe off Stevens and Missouri.  Make sure you get there early because there will be a wait.  But it’s worth it!  The service was great and everyone enjoyed their meal, even my vegan daughter!  After lunch, we headed over to the Wyler Aerial Tramway located in the Franklin Mountains State Park.  Be prepared to wait in line for a little while if the weather is nice and if you are going on a weekend.  (The tramway does close during bad weather and high wind.)  Be sure to ask questions as you ascend to the top of Ranger Peak!  The park rangers are so knowledgeable and the kids were asking all sorts of questions.  You could also hike up to the top but the hike is about 90 minutes to 2 hours long.   Once the tram reaches the top, you have all the time you want to explore the gift shop and take pictures.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed the city of El Paso!  We would have never put El Paso on our list of places to visit but since my sister and her family have lived there for over a year, we knew we had to come out and visit.  The drive out to El Paso from Austin is a long one, I’ll admit.  But so worth it!

Did we miss something spectacular in El Paso?  If so, comment to let us know!