The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake

Sunset view Lodge at Geneva on the Lake Hotel

In need of a getaway? For a lovely weekend trip discover The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, just an easy 2 hour drive from Pittsburgh. With breathtaking views of Lake Erie this hotel, located in Northeast Ohio Wine Country, is the ultimate relaxing retreat. Beyond the picturesque location, Geneva-on-the-Lakes’s main attraction is the almost two dozen wineries in the area. Who knew Ohio had a wine country?! Guest can hop on a wine tour bus to explore the local wineries, an activity great for couples, or a bachelorette weekend.

  

 

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to stay at the resort and partake in the wine tour! I really enjoyed the weekend stay, and can’t wait to return again.

The hotel is welcoming and appears to have been recently updated. The room I stayed in was spacious and well equipped for a comfortable stay. The cozy in-room fireplace had me dreaming of returning again in winter!

As far as amenities there is a small general store on site, a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, along with a full-size bar. They have both and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as a gym. You can explore the grounds along the lakeside path, there’s even bikes fun cruiser bikes for rent.  If you need more space during your stay, there are brand new cottages for rent on the property with porches and shared fire pits.

 

The wine bus shuttle hosted by the lodge is a convenient and fun way to get out and explore wine country. I really enjoyed having a worry-free way to take in the wineries. The bus tour included 4 stops, with at least an hour at each winery. The shuttles are advertised as routes with specific stops, but it turns out the driver stops wherever taking requests from the patrons or going wherever has capacity that day. I was disappointment at first. I had spent time researching which route I wanted to take based on the winery stops. Overall I still had a good time at the wineries we were able to attend.

Check out the wineries I explored here in this post.

For a peek into my adventures, check out the video below. It’s an export of my Instagram Stories from my stay and wine tour day.

 

My Saturday night lodge stay included dinner and brunch at the lodge’s restaurant, Horizon’s Restaurant & Lounge. The dinner meals and dining experience were nice, nothing to rave about. Brunch is a self-serve buffet with lots to choose from. Honestly most items were underwhelming. Overall its nice to have a restaurant with lots of choice on site, but don’t be expecting much.

The lake setting is the main attraction to this lodge.  I’d definitely recommend escaping to the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Sometimes all we need is a little reset in a relaxing environment, this lodge is perfect for that.

Disclosure: this trip was sponsored by the Lodge at Geneva on the Lake. All opinions are my own, honest review without influence.

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Ohio’s Wine Country, Grand River Valley Wine Tour

Did you know that Ohio has a beautiful, picturesque, lakeside wine country? Well fellow Pittsburgh-area, wine-lovers get your weekend bags packed! We don’t have to board a plane to Napa to immerse ourselves in wine country, its just a short drive away along Lake Erie, Ohio.

The Grand River Valley area of Ohio surprisingly has thriving grape growing conditions. The limestone in the soil apparently helps grape trees flourish. I was recently invited to stay the The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, and adventure on a wine shuttle bus tour. The winery hopping experience here is quaint and unpretentious, just relaxing and fun!

Read a post covering my lovely stay at the lodge here.

Visitors can hop on one of many wine tour buses to explore the local wineries, a activity great for couples, or a bachelorette weekend. My bus was hosted by the lodge, joining me was a mix of retired couples and a rowdy bachelorette party (so be warned, you may have a lively bunch along for the ride haha). Expect to pay for wine samples, as giving away alcohol in Ohio for free/as complimentary is apparently illegal.

Kosicek Vineyards

Our route’s first stop was Kosicek Vineyards a family-owned 3rd generation vineyard. The setting here truly feels like you’re in a wine region with the tasting room set back on land surrounded by rows of grape trees. The tasting room has both indoor and outdoor seating and games. I loved the fun wine-bottle chandelier and light fixtures across the interior.

The wine samples at Kosicek are $1 each, $3 for the ice wines. I sampled all of their sweet varietals (of course), really enjoying the Dam Red. I took a bottle home with me for only $10! I also enjoyed a local cheese plate, sustenance is important when you’ve got a long of wine drinking ahead 🙂

Debonne Vineyard

The second winery stop was to the Debonne Vineyard. Debonne is very popular, as its the largest estate winery in the region with 175 acres of grapes. There’s also a micro-brewery onsite, which is great if there’s any beer drinkers in your group. The place is more casual than I was expecting for a winery, but there’s plenty of outdoor seating, food options and a live band.

At Debonne a choice of several tasting trays are available for $10.00 each (Premium $12.00) and include a souvenir glass, bottled water, crackers and almonds or chocolate. Each tray contains your choice of 6 to 8 different wines. Individual wine samples are $1.00 and Ice Wine and Cask samples are $2.00.

I really enjoyed the wines here, they had so many fruit and sweet options. My tasting tray the “Sweet Wine Selection,” included their Vidal Blanc, Moscato-Riesling, Classic Rosé, White Catawba, Pink Catawba, Peach Tree Grigio, Strawberry Rosé, Blueberry Noir. I couldn’t decide what was my favorite. I ended up purchasing a bottle of the Moscato-Riesling and the Peach Tree Grigio, but I also really loved the Catawba varieties.

Laurentia Winery

Next on our tour was a stop at the beautiful Laurentia winery. This is a very upscale winery. The tasting room is beautiful set on a small lake with beautiful landscaping. The fine finishings throughout the interior create a stately vibe. The wine list is smaller here, with no sweet or fruit options. They have whats called a “wine club” which is basically an exclusivity thing, giving more options to those that are members (like at a golf club). This would be a beautiful spot for wedding. The space reminds me a bit of my favorite Canton, Ohio winery Gervasi.

Laurentia Winery

I sat outside on the stone porch and enjoyed sampled the 2016 Estate Riesling, and the 2016 Estate Gewurztraminer (I think they were $2 each). I didn’t like either, but did enjoy the flatbread I ordered. The overall vibe here is definitely different than the more low-key, fun stops previously on the tour. I enjoyed relaxing by the lake, but would have liked more choice in wine options.

 

Ferrante Winery

The final stop on our tour was to Ferrante Winery and Ristorante. This was the biggest spot we visited, as far as size and amount of people. The wine sample trays were really fun, with plenty of fruit and sweet wines to sample. I tried the “Specialty Wine” tray with, Holiday Blush, Celebration Spice, Raspberry Blanc, Cranberry Blanc, Blueberry Blanc, 2016 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Sparkling Riesling and Sparkling Raspberry Blanc.

There’s a full restaurant on the property which I didn’t get to try, but heard was good. The outdoor space has a live band and a fountain. At this point in the day, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out, so I ended my wine tour with a citrus sangria.

 

If you love wine, or love fun I would suggest trying hoping on a wine tour in the Grand River Valley region of Ohio, aka wine country!  Let me know if you’re going, I might (most definitely) want to tag along 😉

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Tea at Greensburg’s Victorian Lady

One of my favorite special occasion things to do is to visit the Victorian Lady of Academy Hill tearoom. This tearoom is located in downtown Greensburg within a charming historic 1880’s Queen Ann house.

The house serves as an event space hosting afternoon tea events. The teas are themed around fun topics, seasons or holidays. I’ve been coming here for years with my Mom and her friends and have had the pleasure of attending a few of the Christmas and Mother’s Day teas.

  

During the events you enjoy a full afternoon tea at a beautiful table setting. This means attendees get to enjoy a continuous serving of a few flavors of hot tea, paired with a few courses of food. There’s a starter, followed by a tiered tea tray with scones & frosted grapes, classic tiny tea sandwiches, and baked goods. The tiers are consistent, but each event has unique seasonal flavor features.

The most recent tea I attended was a special treat to celebrate this past Mother’s Day. The tea options were raspberry peach, raspberry apricot and a Darjeeling, the “champagne of teas.” The courses started with a cheesy potato bacon soup. It was flavorful and delivered in just a big enough serving to not feel overly indulgent. The starter was followed by the three-tiered plate, dressed in beautiful flowers. The scone featured a raspberry jam center. The tea sandwiches were really well done with delicious savory fillings. The ham sandwich was highlighted with a champagne mustard, the egg salad was spiced with curry and the chicken salad had added flavor with almonds. The top tier had a few tempting baked treats including a delicious pineapple coconut cookies. The tea ended with a cupcake and a gift of flowers in a vase.

  

In addition to serving tea in a beautiful parlor area the space, the Victorian Lady is also a gift shop, with goods on display throughout the various rooms of the Victorian house. All kinds of beautiful tea-themed and Victorian-inspired items are available for purchase, like teacups, food items, jewelry, stationery, and home decor items.

I highly recommend spending your next special celebration the Victoria Lady tearoom.  Just don’t take my reservation spot 😉

Here’s a few pictures from a past truly festive Christmas tea.

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California Road Trip

California Road Trip

I recently got to fulfill a few dreams, taking an amazing 7-day trip to California with my boyfriend! We traveled in late September adventuring through San Francisco, Big Basin Park, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and even Yosemite. We had a few mandatory must see things on our lists, but also took advantage of unscripted exploring in the areas we visited. Here’s a quick recap of some of our favorite sights and foodie spots throughout northern California. Hope you also get the opportunity to explore the beauty of California one day soon 🙂

San Francisco

We landed early in the morning in San Francisco without much of a plan – other than tacos. Phil’s request was to have tacos, so I did some Yelp research and found Tacorea. Tacorea serves Korean bowls and Mexican classics in a teeny-tiny, retro-cool spot. We enjoyed a delicious fiesta for two of tacos and tater-tot nachos.

A fiesta for two of tacos and tater-tot nachos 🌮

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San Francisco is known for fog, but we couldn’t have had a more beautiful, clear day. (Hence all the cheesy couple pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge park.) We wandered around most of the day, stopping at the famous Ghirardelli Square and drove down Lombard Street.

After exploring, we drove out to San Jose area to stay for the night in Silicon Valley at the Cupertino Hotel. (super quality for the affordable price)

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The next morning, after an amazing complimentary buffet breakfast at the Cupertino Hotel, and a bit of driving around the Apple campus, we drove out towards the coast to Big Basin park.  We loved the windy road drive in to the park, surrounded by gigantic trees. We were in awe, consumed by the forest as we explored the redwoods by foot, walking the famous Redwood Nature Trail.

A tree is strong because it's roots allow it to bend throughout the wind. 🌲👫

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Santa Cruz

We then drove out to the town that surfing originated in, Santa Cruz. We explored a bit by foot, shopping the original O’Neill Surf Shop, and again – had Phil’s favorite  – tacos.

It was my turn to choose the activity, so on our drive out to our next stop we stopped at In-N-Out-Burger! Truly amazing place. The employees are so chipper and the food is truly worth the indulgence. I suggest the animal-style french fries.

Cheeseburger in paradise @inandout___

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Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea

The main attraction to visiting northern California for us was having the opportunity to drive the scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1. The areas of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea are all along the breathtaking coast making it easy to be entertained just by driving around and stopping at scenic outlook points.  Notable, easy-to-access spots are Lovers Point Park at the point of Pacific Grove, and the famous 17 Mile Drive including: the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, Stillwater Cove, the Del Monte Forest, and the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Lover’s Point

 

Spanish Bay

Lone Cyprus

Bixby Creek Bridge

🌊💕

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A bonus highlight of the trip for me was experiencing the food scene in the Monterey and Carmel area. This area features many European and French-inspired spots, including many pastry havens! We ate at French restaurant La Bicylette, Lafayette Bakery & Cafe and Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe. Each was truly delicious and worth a return trip back to Cali alone 🙂

We stayed at the recently renovated Munras Inn for 3 nights. This hotel was a great pick for the price with updated rooms, in room fireplace, air conditioning (surprisingly NOT common in Cali) and parking. I’d suggest asking for a top-floor room. Monterey seems to be more affordable to stay in over Carmel, when they are only a 15 minute, seriously scenic drive apart.

Yosemite National Park

We then drove about 4 hours inland, to spent 3 nights just outside of Yosemite National Park, at an Airbnb in Midpines. I really would have loved to stay on the park grounds, but we booked our trip only a few weeks before leaving. There are limited places to stay in the area and they are booked months in advance, so we were lucky to find such a a great house – even it was an hours drive to the central point in the park.

Our first day we conquered the famous Mist Trail, climbing to see the Vernal Falls and Emerald Lake. It was quite the hike. The challenge was worth the view.  Its truly something special experiencing the vastness of the park. Many have raved about the feeling of reflection that washes over you when visiting Yosemite. Without getting too fluffy, I can say the fever/ high / serenity – it’s real. Great place to experience as a couple.

Chasing waterfalls 🌈

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Tips for visiting the majestic Yosemite are to seriously plan ahead – know where you want to park and what trails you want to hike. Timing is everything here with only limited roads in and out of the park, thousands of visitors a day, limited parking and limited sunlight for daylong hikes. Get in and park early! Having proper hiking gear and preparing water and snacks is also a must!

I’d suggest researching via Youtube series from return visitors like Zane and Mel Lamprey – they have a seriously funny travel channel on Youtube! I kinda really want to be BFFs & travel the world with them.

Cheers to being able to explore such beautiful parts of the world and to planning (saving$) for our next trip!

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Phipps Conservatory Visit with Meaghan Cutrell Photography

Phipps photography Pittsburgh

Exhibit “SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath”

I recently had an opportunity to spend an afternoon exploring Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory during the Super Natural glass exhibit. Phipps offers a beautiful, tranquil place to escape to for a relaxing time.  You can stroll for as long as you’d like to, refreshing yourself by soaking in the greenhouse air. These gorgeous professional photos are by my creative BBF Meaghan Cutrell Photography of Westmoreland County. See the full gallery here.

Check out more information about the artist and see more pictures and video from the display on the Phipps website here.

Girls born in October are the best kind of girls 👭

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