When I heard that Bonobo was on tour with a new album and playing a show at Red Rocks I jumped at the chance to make the trip to Colorado.
Next time you're on a plane I suggest listening to the title track off Migration upon takeoff. Look out the window at the planes, fields, cars, shapes... everything. It just feels so right. I definitely had a moment. Traveling to a beautiful place to see a beautiful show with a song that embodies getting from point A to point B... magic.
My friend Karlee and I flew in to the Denver airport and took the train to Union Station. (Which was super easy!) There was surprisingly a lot of great restaurants, drink options and spots to hangout at Union Station. We found ourselves back here at times just for those reasons.
Here's what we did while in Denver for the weekend! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post and have a look at the map! (I just discovered custom maps via "Google My Maps" and I'm a little obsessed).
The Kitchen is super walkable from Union Station, so it was really convenient just getting in from the train to go straight to lunch. And it was happy hour! Cocktails right off the bat of vacation are pretty standard, right?
Later that night we continued the drinks with whiskey flights and herby vodkas at Williams and Graham, a speakeasy style bar in a "corner bookstore".
Down the street was Linger. This bar was converted from an old mortuary called Olinger's and now they refer to themselves as an "Eatuary". Equally terrifying (when you think about it) but punny. I love that they kept the original sign for Olinger's but turned off the "O".
I was getting pretty hungry and in need of some food after so much drinking, so we got 10pm pasta from Bar Dough.
Friday morning we brunched at The Cookery at Myrtle Hill. The huevos rancheros is delicious! Especially when paired with a bloody Mary.
We worked up quite the appetite for shopping, so we hit up Antique Row.
Antique Row in Denver is a stretch of road between Arkansas Ave and E Iowa Ave filled with antique stores! Check out the "Antique Row" section on the below map to see my favorite shops.
I found some cute lil' stir sticks, vintage letters and a Mickey Mouse head pin for a friend. Antiquing is a lot like treasure hunting and sometimes you just find that gold!
We grabbed some coffee at Hudson Hill to regain some energy for the show! ...we may have also had a cocktail here too... I mean hello, they do have a full bar.
Nearby was a ping-pong bar, (yep you read that right), Ace Eat Serve. Unfortunately there was a company party happening and we weren't able to play ping-pong. (Damn you cool companies!) However, we were still able to drink. They have a really good happy hour deal for $2 veggie spring rolls and $5 highballs. I also suggest getting "The Chef's Special" if you like PBR and kimchi pickle backs.
ok. OK. OKAY. The moment is here... Red Rocks!
Within a minute of walking down the path into the venue, we saw 2 deer grazing on the other side of the handrail. What?! This place was so pretty already I couldn't wait to see Bonobo.
The show was general admission so we could sit wherever. Karlee and I found a good spot in the middle a little less than halfway up.
Innov Gnawa was the first act. They're featured on Bonobo's song, Bambro Koyo Ganda, and it was cool to hear their solo stuff.
It got dark before we even knew it, and Nick Murphy with his massive amounts of lasers came on. His new album, Missing Link, had just released a few days prior so he had loads of new music to play. Don't forget the oldies though like "No Diggity" and "The Trouble With Us".
It was time for Bonobo! So I'd actually seen him twice already in a two week span, and this would be my third. But they never get old. I'm always down to dance, and dance I did. This (above) is the only photo I took of the whole performance! That's how you know it was good.
The whole day had been pretty hot: around 75 or 80 degrees. Out of nowhere, it started raining. And then it continued to hail! Everyone around us acted like this was a completely normal thing to happen at a show at Red Rocks, because well, I guess it was. Luckily the hail was really small and it was cool to see little ice clumps gathered in our hands.
The show was amazing and hard to describe in words. Honestly if there's someone on the bill at Red Rocks who you'd love to see, go. It's really a venue like no other and an awesome experience.
Holy hangover, Batman! Okay, so Saturday my body hated me. Like didn't want to move or do anything at all.
Lucky for us this was the day we scheduled a rental car to drive out to Boulder and go hiking. Yay!
First we stopped at Blackeye coffee for some lattes and breakfast sandwiches. Seemed like a fitting name for a coffeeshop given the state we were both in.
Somehow we mustered up the strength to go through with it. We hiked Gregory's Pass which was beautiful! I suggest not going on a day you're hungover, but even if you are you shouldn't miss out on some good ol' nature. It'll do your body good.
The hike was near the equivalent of 48 flights of stairs. We did about an hour up and an hour back, so we didn't make it fully to the top but what we did see was so pretty.
Since we had the car for a little while longer after the hike, we drove around Boulder and ogled some houses. Man they're cute out there!
Back to Denver, then after a quick nap back at the hotel we were ready for food.
Mushroom pizza is my favorite. So obviously, yes please! Cart Driver in the Art District was SO GOOD. Karlee and I split a pie and it was the perfect amount for the both of us.
RiNo Art District had tons of street art to wander around and see. Great photo ops!
The Denver Central Market is also in RiNo and it's super cute. Look at this typographic tile!
There was coffee, pastries, ice cream, a deli, fresh veggies, a bar and more.
I went for the blueberry lemon ice cream at High Point Creamery. One: because I love blueberry and lemon; Two: because the ice cream was a complimentary color to my golden mustard jacket.
Next up was Bar Fausto. Finally! A place where a Bee's Knees is on the menu. AKA my favorite drink. Gin, honey and lemon. Perfection.
Good things come in pink boxes is right! I will always go out of my way to get to Voodoo. I mean on the way back from a roadtrip from LA to Washington we made one stop in between: The Voodoo in Portland. Will stop for doughnuts.
We brunched at Beatrice and Woodsley on what happened to be Mother's Day. There was a prix-fixe menu, and everything was delicious. I've heard when they have a full menu, the crawfish beignets are a must.
We walked around the area (to try and settle our stomachs from such a big meal) and to go shopping. There was a Goodwill and a Buffalo Exchange within walking distance and of course we went to both!
I found a straw pom pom hat and collared long sleeve star dress at Buffalo Exchange. Score!
So the University Building in Denver has a smokestack painted to look like a GIANT PENCIL. I just love anything kitschy like this. I had seen it from a car when we were driving past one day and I needed to make sure we made it back here so I could snap a shot, so we stopped on the way back to our hotel.
Next stop, Larimer Square. A cute little street filled with string lights, lots of restaurants, along with chain stores and some local boutiques.
I was really craving chips and guac, so we found a nearby spot to grab some grub. Lucky for us, Next Door was basically next door at Union Station. They also refer to it as "Union Station Restaurant", "Continental Room" or the "Caboose Lounge" (personal favorite).
The time for our flight out was drawing near, so we hung around and grabbed a drink at Terminal Bar before catching our train back to the airport. Seriously how cute is this bar though?
There's honestly so much to do in Denver, and I feel like we only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Hopefully this map will be helpful if you're planning a trip to Denver, or maybe it piques your interest to visit... Have fun exploring!
Note: There are sections on this map for bars, food, coffee, places to go, and even a section of my favorite antique stores! They're color coded and can be found on the left.
On Sunday, we drove up to Angeles National Forest to go hiking. There are so many trails to choose from, so how do you pick where to go?!
I found a site called The Modern Hiker where there was a post on Sturtevant Falls. It was super helpful on how to get to your hike, and they even give you a brief synopsis of what the trail is like. We only did the Sturtevant Falls portion of the trek; there and back (to where the parking lot is) amounted to about 6 miles.
The mountains were engulfed in a fog, making for an even dreamier surrounding. We went so early (around 8:30) that the warmness of the day didn't even bother us - plus the trail has a lot of coverage from trees.
The only other time I'd been in this forest was for a photoshoot over a year ago where we only stuck to the campground area. Diving deeper into the forest and exploring felt really good.
I'll definitely be going back again to hike some more trails in Angeles National Forest. It's SO pretty up there!
PS: you can buy your adventure pass at the top of the mountain in the general store: $5 for the day, $30 for the year.
You guys, Designer VACA was amazing. I met so many rad creative women this past week I'm overflowing with inspiration, ideas, and energy. The laid back atmosphere made it so easy to walk up and join in on conversations and introduce yourself. Everyone was on a level playing field, you know? Because we really are all the same. Creatives who just want to learn more, connect more, and are curious about everything... "curious about the stuff that matters", as speaker Bob Goff would say. A big shoutout to Promise Tangeman and Alyssa Yuhas for putting this on!
Elle Luna said, "Work with things that deliberately scare you", and that quote resonated with me. You don't get anywhere in life by playing it safe. You need to step outside of your comfort zone to see if you like something. What's the worst thing that could happen? If it's not for you, just move on to the next project / thing / job / person, whatever it may be, it'll work out elsewhere.
Another good one from Elle was, "The closer you get to what you love, the more vulnerable you're going to feel... if you feel terrified, it's a pretty good indicator you're on to something good". How true is that? She spoke of "Should" and "Must". "Should" is choosing to live for someone other than ourselves, something society has told you from the beginning of time. "Must" is who you are and what you believe. Your passions, convictions, and feelings. Who you are and what you MUST do. Follow that must.
I got to have a casual conversation with Jessica Hische, who by the way was wearing the cutest Dunsen & Dunsen dress. UM AWESOME RIGHT? The conversation kind of ended up being about breast feeding once we started talking about how cute her baby, Ramona is. It's kind of great listening to a new mother be so excited about motherhood and just figuring it out as she goes along, you know? She's so down to earth and I'm SO glad I can say that. It's really cool that when people you admire are really great in real life rather than just on paper.
The retreat was structured really well. There was a good amount of free time to hang by the pool, or explore Palm Springs: both really good options for getting to know some of the fellow designers.
Wednesday night was when I was first intimidated by how many people were in attendance. I mean, a room filled with 170 lady graphic designers. Whoa. How on earth do you meet people in this crowd? I quickly learned, "This is what going out to bars and dating is like". Something I haven't really dealt with. It was good to get uncomfortable and I started going up to people and introducing myself. Something that was a good icebreaker was this little photobooth corner. Emily and I were about to take a photo at the same time as some other ladies, and I said, "Hey, why not together?!" Awesome conversations sparked, Instagram handles were swapped, and business cards were given out like candy. It was great.
On Thursday after the speaker, I took up the opportunity to tag along to Salvation Mountain with one of my roomies, Angela, and a couple girls who I had just met, Margie and Aisha. It was like a mini-road-trip inside of this awesome retreat. We stopped off at Bombay Beach, The International Banana Museum (which unfortunately was closed at the time), a statue of what looked like Paul Bunyon's cousin, and eventually Salvation Mountain. The rest of the day I hung by the pool until it was time for the communal dinner. The taco bar was fantastic, and so was Elle Luna, the speaker who I mentioned earlier. Tears were shed. Like a lot. I mean, you're in a room filled with hormonal women, what do you expect? Motivations were shared and it was really great just to see people coming together.
Friday morning Jessica Hische did a Q+A on being a new mother and still a working professional. She gave some great insight that really just applies to being a working professional with or without a baby. For example, if a client isn't willing to work with your schedule, drop them; pass them onto someone else; it's probably not worth the stress. The main point of her talk was that it's 100% possible to be successful while having a baby. Not really my stage in life right now, but for other women in the room it seemed perfect.
Then we had "Chalkboard Talks". These were design / life related topics open for discussion for 30 minute intervals. After walking around the room and scoping them out, you were to pick a board and join a group. I sat in on "Quitting Your Day Job", and "Creative Collaborations / Working Together". "Quitting Your Day Job" was mainly about going freelance. How to take the scary step and knowing no time is really the right time; things will never be perfect and if it's that time for your 'must', you have to do it. "Creative Collaborations / Working Together" was talking about the process of a collaboration, and how the meaning can differ a bit if it's through an agency, or a group of friends doing a project for fun. I asked about how to get people to understand the meanings of deadlines. I, myself am a very organized, structured, deadline-driven person and I work with a few people who don't understand deadlines. It was really great to hear feedback from fellow designers on how to go about talking to them and pitching the idea as something they would want to hear. I needed that.
Emily and I checked out of the Ace, said goodbye to our roommates Angela and Leila and then searched Palm Springs for another hotel. We felt like we just needed one more day of exploring. Luckily hotels are EVERYWHERE. We stayed at the Hard Rock hotel which was super close to the downtown area. We checked in, then grabbed lunch at a vegan spot and hit up some local antique stores. "Some" actually being about 5... antiquing in Palm Springs is one of the best spots to go.
On Saturday, we woke up at the crack of dawn and took the first Aerial Tramway up to the San Jacinto Mountains. It's a weird feeling to be in Palm Springs where it's around 102, then to go up into the mountains and need a jacket. We hiked a path called Desert Loop, about a mile and a half or two, and explored. The views were incredible and there were SO MANY little happy birds everywhere, which of course made me happy, too. Once we were fully exhausted, it was time to pack up and hit the road.
Now here I am back in LA and already am texting with some girls I met over the weekend. It was one of the most inspirational, uplifting times of my life and I can't wait to go back next year.