Weekend Trip to Denver

When I told people I was headed to Denver, most questioned “Why?” I know it’s not the typical go-to destination, but Denver is a major city that’s on the come up. I probably would’ve never visited if I didn’t have a conference that I was attending. After talking to numerous Lyft drivers throughout my stay, they mentioned that there has been an influx in the rates of tourists since marijuana became legal in the state.

Denver is like any other city. It’s mostly filled with suburban neighborhoods but has a downtown element that’s charming. As a solo traveler in Denver, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Aurora Conference Center, which was located in the town of Aurora. The hotel is only 2-years old but was superb. The color scheme was burnt orange and blue, with hints of wood. It has a pool and a full functioning gym. I chose this hotel because it was near the conference that I was attending.

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Most of the people in Denver were actually quite friendly. I only had one bad encounter, my third day in, when a crazy (racist) man came into my Lyft and got mad at me because I sat in the front seat. When I offered him the seat, he said he didn’t want it, and threatened to choke me, it was odd. That was the last time, I did a Lyft-Line for the rest of my time there; I almost forgot that I wasn’t in Kansas, aka New York anymore.

The day before the conference started, I decided to explore Downtown Denver. I came across a few gems. The first being the Denver Museum of Art. There was a powerful exhibit at the museum, which explored the plight of Native Americans through the eyes of the artist. Different elements of the artists pieces represented parts of his native identity and culture. It was powerful and definitely a must see if you’re in the area.

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My art museum visit was followed by a stroll down 16th Street. 16th street is a strip of stores and food establishments, kind of like an outside mall. I went inside stores like Victoria Secret, Bare Minerals, TJ Maxx and H&M. After that, I ended up on 15th and Laurimer, but it was blocked off due to a food festival they were having.

One of the primary reasons people visit Denver is because of the mountains, however, since I was alone it was not something I wanted to tackle solo. However, I will be back next year (God’s willing) and will definitely add to my list of things to do.

NOLA…Anyone?

I’m just going to call a spade a spade and say New Orleans is one of the best cities I’ve ever visited in the United States…who knew? I visited NOLA for the first time with friends from Penn State Hazleton (kind of like our own little reunion). We stayed in a beautiful Air BNB with just enough rooms and bathrooms to accommodate all 13 of us. Our obligatory first stop was of course Bourbon Street from there we explored some of New Orleans famous attractions, but definitely couldn’t tackle all of them, which gives me an excuse to return as soon as possible.

Bourbon Street:

Bourbon Street is a strip filled with bars and clubs of all kinds. If you’re into country music and mechanical bulls, there’s a bar for you. If you love hip-hop and a good turn up, there’s a spot for you too. What I love about New Orleans is that it’s one of the only places where you can walk around and into clubs with a red cup and no one will stop you. When they say you can drink on the street, they mean it (not like I’m an alcoholic but I was actually impressed by this). Bourbon Street is known for their hurricanes as well, but I was more than willing to do the long walk to Fat Tuesdays (633 Bourbon Street) to get their frozen drinks because it was only $10, more than half the price than it was in Miami.

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Swamp Tour

The swamp tour in New Orleans is a must. The tour is about 2-hours long and it takes you deep into the swamp for alligator sightings. One cool thing about the tour is that our tour guide actually brought a small alligator on the boat that we could all touch. The scenery and nature in the swamps are absolutely stunning. No trip is complete to NOLA without doing this.

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French Quarter

The French Quarter was one of my favorite places in New Orleans. It makes you feel as if you stepped back into time and is one of the most charming locations in the city. There you can take a carriage ride throughout the neighborhood, explore the different artists, restaurants and bars, or even take a cultural walking tour. I fell in love with this place, especially at night, when I visited the Blue Nile and watched soulful blues artists sing their hearts out.

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Café Du Monde

Café Du Monde is the famous spot for benginents in New Orleans. Benginets are surprisingly good. I didn’t think I would like them but I did. Their like French donuts covered in sugar. They come out on a plate hot and you can have coffee with them or not. They’re delish and I brought some back home for my family to try.

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Harrah’s Casino

Casino’s are self-explanatory. If want to gamble you go…no surprise there. But this casino actually has a delicious buffet and a club called Masquerade, so might be worth a shot to try out. Outside of the casino was the trolley line, which is a cute vintage trolley that takes you throughout the city for $1.50.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square is another tourist attraction near the French Quarter and Café Du Monde. It’s famous for the Jackson Square Park and St. Louis Cathedral.

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Food!!!!

The food in NOLA is freaking good. I tried a shrimp po’boy for the first time and almost licked my fingers off. I also tried alligator sausages, for the culture. Some of the spots we dined at was Cajun Seafood, Ruby Slippers, and Drago’s Seafood.

The Hood

Our uber driver took us on a tour of the hood, because why not? In the hood, we met a motorcycle gang, got frozen drinks for $4 and visited cemeteries. Cryptic right? It’s not. Cemeteries is actually a thing to do in New Orleans.

Ky Tip: Check out Groupon.com for Swamp Tours at a discounted price in NOLA.

If interested, check out my New Orleans Suggestions new orleans things to do. I didn’t get to do all of them, but here’s a healthy list of things to do Kydee Style (AKA Why am I such a dork?)

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2017 American Black Film Festival in South Beach, Miami

Miami in my late twenties was not the same experience as it was in my early twenties. But this time I was there to network and gain inspiration from the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), so my experience was more work and less leisure.IMG_2375I stayed at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel with my friend Brittany. I attended some of the panels but for the most part enjoyed my time on the beach, for some much needed R&R. South Beach is crowded but the beaches are beautiful and one of the only beaches on the East Coast that I actually enjoy.FullSizeRender (19)FullSizeRender (20)ABFF was good. One of my favorite sessions was the Master Class in Producing with Stephanie Allain and Mel Jones, where I learned how to initiate, produce, and fund a project. FullSizeRender (23)IMG_2388FullSizeRender (17)ABFF was sponsored by Shea Moisture, so Brittany and I decided to be models for the brand in one of the festival’s lounges. FullSizeRender (24)This recent trip to Miami made me realize I’ve outgrown it a little.For the most part I stayed  on Collins Avenue, which was where my hotel was located because Ocean Drive is not what it used to be. Back in the day, it used to be the mecca of South Beach. Now it looks rundown and ratchet.  Of course, no trip to Miami is complete without going to Wet Willies or Fat Tuesday. I chose the latter. Their drinks are overpriced, I think $20 a pop, and you can’t drink on the street anymore. I hid my drink in my purse and told the bouncer “You didn’t see anything….right?” He smiled and let me go. In spite of everything, South Beach is the perfect weekend get away when you just need a change in scenery and a break from it all. FullSizeRender (28)FullSizeRender (29)

 

Weekends By Ky: Philadelphia

So often we look across the world to experience history and culture and never in our own backyard. This past weekend I decided to visit my friend Brittany in Philadelphia. We spent the first night having careless fun which included fish tacos at a Mexican restaurant and Korean Karaoke. The following day I felt a little under the weather, so we got a bunch of snacks from the grocery store and watched Law & Order Criminal Intent all day. Finally she convinced my sick self to get up and catch a movie which we did and it was awesome.Luckily for me, I got a double deal. We went to see the movie on the UPENN campus and I got to experience life as a Penn ivy leaguer, well sort of. That night, Britt made delish spaghetti and I called it a night early.

Kydee WilliamsThe next morning I felt so much better. We got an early start and headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. I ran up the Rocky Balboa stairs, like I was the champion himself. I had no idea about the significance of those stairs as it related to the movie. I saw people line up just to get a picture with the Rocky statue and I eventually put two and two together. We headed straight to the museum and luckily for me my Penn State credentials granted me access to the museum at a discounted student rate.

Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsThe museum was amazing, filled with a lot of antique furniture, portraits of George Washington and breath taking artwork. What captivated me most was the medieval room which was an exhibit filled with military armory from the middle ages. Always assuming that this part of our history was some what fictional, it was interesting to see the steel army wardrobe of the past on display.

IMG_7615 IMG_7616 IMG_7618Kydee WilliamsOutside of the museum was The Oval which is a seasonal local festival. Brittany and I watched performances and drank apple cider while sitting on a haystack. We enjoyed taking in the amazing sights of this beautiful fall afternoon.

IMG_7606I felt fulfilled as I headed back to New York. Who knew that the Philadelphia Museum was the first museum in the United States? I didn’t. Not only did I experience culture, and a lot of history in a short 2-days, but this weekend seemed longer than ever. I was totally ready to head back to work and finally have something great to say when someone asks me the quintessential “So how was your weekend?”