I felt the need to dedicate a whole blog post to this dress because it is such a hidden gem of a find and YOU can all easily purchase it too! You won’t believe it, but it’s from Amazon and it’s only $32. Who knew Amazon had such stylish options for an affordable price!
This dress gives you the perfect twirly flow for photos and can be worn for so many different occasions- It’s versatile which is why I LOVE it. I wore it in the winter with heat tech leggings underneath to keep me warm. For Spring & Summer it’s the perfect loose fitting, airy dress. It’s elegant, flirty, luxe all in one and I’ve linked it HERE for you all to buy!! (Go to the Fashion section of my storefront and you’ll see it there) Seriously, you won’t regret it!
New Orleans, most notably known for its epic Mardi Gra celebration, has earned quite a wild reputation, but it’s sooo much more than that. There’s alot to learn & experience- from the cultural traditions to the food & history. The city is a blend of Creole, French, Cajun all intertwined and represented throughout every inch of the city. Music flows down every street you turn, every dish is a work of art and you are left in awe from the historical architecture.
We spent a couple days here and squeezed in as much as we could. You can definitely get a good sense of the city in 24 hours so it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Below is my guide and recommendation for your next stop in New Orleans. Feel free to comment down below with any questions or find me on my Instagram where I post daily content!
Drive or fly? You choose! Louis Armstrong International Airport is very well connected with tons of flights daily and it is only 15 minutes away from the city center. Ubers are accessible & safe to take from there. Minimum airport fee to and from is around $35 each and dependent on high-demand periods.
Since we were on our cross country road trip, we drove. I don’t think there is a single person out there that enjoys driving into and around busy cities. The annoying traffic, complicated parking signs, confusing one way streets, & worst of all, parking is a shitshow. I recommend going directly to your hotel parking lot or a reliable lot and pay up that awful price and just leave your car there for the entire duration of your trip.
Driving your own vehicle around the city will give you a HEADACHE. Don’t even try it. I suggest using New Orleans public transport! Riding the street cars (only $3 per person for the whole day! You can hop on/off as you wish) adds to the whole experience and on top of that, you’d be supporting a local business. New Orleans is a small-scale city, so if you stay somewhere centrally located, it’s pretty accessible by foot!
Fun Fact: St. Charles street car is the oldest continuously operating street car line in the world!
WHEN TO VISIT
February- May is when the celebrations are in full swing and the weather is ideal. You’ll be visiting with thousands of other people so be mindful of the crowds. If you’re looking to save $$, travel here in the summer. The summer heat and humidity can feel oppressive, which is why hotel rates will be much lower. If you’re not interested in the celebrations, I recommend coming in December and January when the weather is chilly, but manageable. Way less tourists & you feel like you have the city to yourself.
WHERE TO STAY
I did a ton of research on where to stay and debated on whether or not I wanted to be on Bourbon street… and thank god I didn’t. I recommend staying right on the edge of French Quarter so you get some peace and quiet at night. Magnolia Hotel was the perfect location. It’s steps away from the French Quarter so we were able to walk everywhere! It’s removed from the French Quarter craziness/sketchyness. Magnolia hotel is sophisticated, clean, cozy & modern. The bed was comfortable, staff was friendly & professional & covid protocol was implemented. The only downside is parking. There are ONLY 6 free parking spaces right in front of the hotel, but there is a lot you can park at across the street for $30 a night. I know.. so pricy, but that’s how it is in every city.
Yes, we’ve all heard of Cafe Du Monde, but Cafe Beignet is where the locals go! Beignets are basically a French “donut”- deep fried pastry covered in powdered sugar. The beignets here are chewier (my preference, if you prefer airy, pillowy ones go to Cafe Du Monde!) and they serve more on the menu. IF you’re craving beignets late at night and it’s closed, know that Cafe Du Monde is open 24/7 and going there would be more of an experience.
Known for its iconic dish, THE banana fosters. Who doesn’t want bananas that are flambéed tableside with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, rum and served with New Orleans Ice Cream Co. vanilla bean ice cream?? It’s the most ordered dish on the menu and for good reason. You can thank me later.
The world is your oysters!! If you’re looking for an authentic “New Orleans” meal, this is the place to go. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but don’t let it fool you! The raw oysters were super plump & clean. The charbroiled oysters were soooo juicy (currently drooling as I’m thinking back to this meal). Man, now I’m wishing I ordered more! The best part is that it’s super affordable for quality seafood!
We came here because of alllll the hype on the muffuletta sandwich. The muffuletta recipe is over 100 years and the store dates back to 1906. The muffuletta is pretty much an italian sandwich packed with meat (salami, ham), cheese (swiss, provolone), & olive salad. My advice: get a half sandwich. The portion size is huge and a half will fill up 2 people! It’s the perfect place for a quick to-go meal and you can easily bring it over to Jackson Square & and enjoy it outdoors.
Being raised in Santa Monica, I am spoiled with a shop called Bay Cities with the same Italian deli like supermarket so the flavors tasted oddly familiar and I have to say it did not beat it. Bay Cities trumps this place.. BUT if you’ve never had something similar, then it’s a pretty darn good sandwich!
Did you know New Orlean’s signature candy started out as one of America’s earliest street food? It also emancipated black women to make a living during a time when civil rights weren’t even in the picture. The candy is a symbol of a rich black culinary heritage and city tradition. Leah’s Praline is a family owned business since 1944. They use locally sourced ingredients such as Alabama pecans and Louisiana sugar. New Orleans praline has origins that can be traced back to its French heritage, however Louisianians adjusted the traditional recipe to include almonds and cream. There is a wide variety of toppings to choose from and let me tell you, pralines are not cheap! To be honest, I don’t have too biggest sweet tooth so it tasted a bit tooooo sweet for my liking. But definitely go here for the experience, treat yourself to a sweet treat & support a local business!
908 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Legend has it, that the name poor boy, also referred to as po’ boy, comes from the Great Depression era when a sandwich was created to be given free of charge to transit strikers. It’s a must whenever you visit the South. Po’ Boys use French bread and dress it up with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and your choice of meat- shrimp, roast beef, etc. I can’t ever say no to oysters so I go with the fried oyster poboys & it hits the spot every time.
Established in 1905, this family owned restaurant has the best traditional Creole/Cajun dishes. Come here for a nice wholesome bowl of gumbo. P.S did you know the word gumbo originated from the African word okra? Suggesting gumbo was originally made with okras! It’s a melting pot of Louisiana cooking & its one of my favorites! Other dishes I would recommend to try are jambalaya (comparable to Spanish Paella), etouffe, & red beans and rice.
Chicory, the root of a blue flowered plant is a widely used as an ingredient in NOLA coffee. During the Civil War, Louisianians used chicory coffee as a substitute when the naval cut off the port- leaving people with a coffee shortages. Chicory coffee is commonly used during economic crisis and New Orlean continues this tradition.
WHAT TO DO // SEE
The oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. The French claimed Louisiana in the 1690’s. The streets are named after French Royal houses and Catholic saints to pay homage to France’s ruling family. You can spend all afternoon wandering through the streets and I’d say THE most instagrammable spot in the French Quarter is at the corner of Royal and St. Peter. (location of the photo above!)
TBH, Bourbon street brings out the binge drinker in all of us… HA jk.. This historic street is located in the heart of French Quarters. The entire street embodies the life of the party with neon lights bursting, loud lit music blasting, and beads decorated/ thrown everywhere. At night, it’s packed with Bachelor/ Bachelorette parties, sketchy looking people. Now, it’s certainly not my type of scene, but still fun to observe every once in a while. It’s a VERY entertaining place to people watch 😉 trust me on that.
For solo female travelers, I DO NOT recommend coming here at night by yourself. Always have a buddy or come here in the daytime.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG PARK // CONGO SQUARE
If you need to get out of the French Quarters and go for a nice stroll to work out all the delicious food you’re having in NOLA, this is a great option to walk to. This park is filled with a historical oak trees dripping in lush Spanish moss, a pond filled with adorable ducklings, & lots of benches for you to sit back and relax.
There is an area inside the park called the Congo Square that holds a lot of historical significance. During the 18th century, enslaved Africans were only allowed to congregate and gather in remote public squares on Sundays. This particular square (located right outside the French Quarters) was a place where they could celebrate their African roots and dance together during the oppression.
Take the St. Charles street car for $3 per person and go on a scenic ride to the Garden District. It’s a fun 15 minute “Disneyland” trolley ride! Sometimes the French Quarter can feel a bit overwhelming, so it’s nice to spend an afternoon away from it admiring the charming historical homes in the residential area. P.S if you’re into American Horror Story: Coven, Miss Robicheaux’s Academy filming location is actually at one of the homes in this area, the Buckner Mansion. You can even stay there for a night!
LAFAYETTE CEMETARY NO.1
While you’re visiting the Garden District area, take a moment to step back in time and check out this cemetery. Walking around a cemetery can feel eerily and creepy, but it can also be quite interesting. If you’re someone who is intrigued by ghosts and spirits, this is the place to go and see if you can encounter some of the ghostly energy. Each cemetery has its own “charm and personality” so do your own free walking tours at the various cemeteries in NOLA to observe the different tombs & styles.
JACKSON SQUARE // CATHEDRAL ST. LOUIS
Centrally located in the French Quarters, this is an iconic spot to visit in NOLA. Admire the beauty of the Cathedral sSt. Louis while you soak in some vitamin D at Jackson Square. Aside from the beauty, its a great place to wander around, sit in the courtyard and people watch. Grab some beignets, muffuletta and have a picnic at the square!
TIPS ON AVOIDING TOURIST TRAPS
With over 10 million tourists a year, you are bound to be bombarded with tourist traps and scams here. My best advice is to NOT engage ever or politely decline. Don’t pause when someone approaches you- just keep on walking!
The Infamous Shoes
This scam makes me laugh! You will 10000% have someone approach you and say “I bet I can tell you where you got your shoes” or “Where did you get your shoes?” Once you respond to their question, you’ve just participated in the bet… So be prepared to pay up! The answer? Buddy you got dem on your feet on Bourbon street (or whatever street you’re on) in New Orleans! HA!
David and I knew about this going into the city, so the moment a man approached him about it David walked away. He actually followed us for a bit and even started to BEND DOWN to touch David’s shoe. Totally crossing the boundary, so be careful!
Tell me your first name and I bet I can spell your last name!
Someone will most likely come up to you and say, “Bet you $10 if you tell me your first name, I can spell your last name.” So you give them your first name, and then they will LITERALLY spell out “L-A-S-T N-A-M-E” hahah! If you want to play along, go ahead! But remember, you’ll have to pay up at the end!
Can I borrow your cell phone?
Someone will come up with a fake storyline, “my cell phone ran out of battery, can I borrow your phone?” or “I left my phone at home and need to make an urgent call.” What do you think happens when you hand it over? Hmm.. They run away with it and you’re left phoneless. Nowadays, theres a good excuse to not hand your phone over, um COVID-19, so politely decline and say you’re in a rush.
Oh hello there, nice to meet you. I’m Sophie & this is David. We are Mystic Falls newest vampires 😉 JK! With 2020 being such an unprecedented year, I wish we were all slightly immortal/ part vampire so we can stay healthy and safe… Okay, but for real, does this look familiar to you? That’s right, it’s MYSTIC FALLS from CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries. If you’re a fan or into vampire fiction, then you’ll 100% love need to make a trip out here and follow this guide! Seeing one of your favorite shows come to life is SO surreal- I was flipping out in the car when we turned the corner into this town!
For our cross country road trip, we toured the real town behind the vampire diaries, aka Covington, Georgia. It’s a small town located 35 miles east of Atlanta (about 40 minutes away) and is often referred to as “The Hollywood of the South!” Downtown Covington has remained a gorgeous backdrop for over 100 films/ television shows and I can totally see why!
You’ll feel right at home in this iconic town square the moment you drive in. You can pretty much visit almost every TVD filming location on your own OR you can pay ($60 each) to join an official tour with a guide. Due to Covid-19 & trying to keep our trip budget friendly, I decided to do the research ahead of time and see it all on our own and it worked out super easily!
Let me take you along our visit and give you the grand tour of the highlights worth seeing!
P.S. Team Damon all the way! Aside from the Salvatore Brothers, I’d choose Alaric- loyal, intellectual, mature, family oriented…
Don’t forget to check out my IG for more daily content inspo! Xo, Soph
MYSTIC FALLS WELCOME SIGN
1143 Oak St SE, Covington, GA 30014
Start here! This is where you can find the Mystic Falls, Virginia sign from The Vampire Diaries. It’s a bit underrated, but I mean you might as well take a pic with the welcome sign! Only takes a second to hop out for it!
THE CLOCK TOWER
1132 Usher St NW, Covington, GA 30014
Ahh! Built in 1884, it is known as the Historic Newton County Courthouse in Covington and is the ultimate TVD backdrop. You see the clock tower in so many TVD scenes and the church bell inside is part of an important storyline in Season 8! There are so many angles to shoot from since its located right in the center of town square. P.S who remembers that iconic scene when Katherine jumped off the clock tower??
1116 Clark St. Covington, GA 30014
Yes.. this place is REAL. You can really dine inside here! Mystic Grill serves traditional Southern food with a twist! The outside scenes were filmed right here on location and was a common spot for the cast to dine at. Although the interior isn’t the same (it was filmed on a soundstage), it’s worth a visit. The rooftop overlooks the whole historic downtown square and there’s a hallway filled with signed autographs from the cast. They serve locally sourced ingredients from local vendors- we ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes (pimento cheese & tomato jam), Sweet Tea Fried Chicken (andouille sausage, red eye gravy, green beans, Yukon Gold Mash), & Shrimp & Grits (bacon, cilantro, lime). The ONLY complaint I have was that Matt wasn’t our waiter.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Friday – Saturday:11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sunday:11:00 am – 9:00 pm
THE GILBERT HOUSE
2104 Floyd St NE, Covington, GA
Don’t worry everyone, the house is still standing ( remember Season 4 Elena… humanity turned off.. cover story.. fire….) Look, to most people, this is just a random house. But for those that are TVD lovers, you’d know there have been so many important scenes that have taken place on the porch and inside this very house! Discretion: This is a private property with REAL people that live inside… Respect their space and just stand on the sidewalk rather than walk all the way up to the front porch.
THE LOCKWOOD MANSION
2111 Anderson Ave., Covington, GA
Known as the Worthington Manor in real life, this is a gated mansion and to grant access to it you’d have to join the official TVD tour that you can sign up at the gift shop in town center! We didn’t feel the need to physically go inside the mansion and you can still see it very clearly from the gates! P.S keep in mind, if you decide to join the exclusive tour, you only get access to the front and backyard…
TWELVE OAKS INN
Address is 2176 Monticello St, SW, Covington, GA
Remember those old flashbacks scenes where you’d see the Salvatore brothers & Katherine frolicking around the front yard? And the 1864 flashback of the old lockwood mansion? Well that’s this house! It’s ALSO the plantation home that inspired the one featured in Gone with the Wind. I really wanted to stay here, but it was all booked up so make sure to book this as early as possible.
The Vampire Diaries Gift Shops
There are 2 gift shops you can stop by to buy alllllll things TVD- The Alley and Vampire Stalkers Gift Shop. From blankets, pillow cases, to shot glasses, vervain & even your very own blood bag! Both gift shops have original props from set so it’s like a mini museum!
More TVD Locations
Isobel’s House 2146 Conyers St, SE, Covington, GA
Caroline Forbes’ House 2118 Floyd St, NE, Covington, GA
Grayson Gilbert, M.D. Sign 1105 Washington St, SW, Covington, GA
Witch Burial Ground from Vampire Diaries 3190 Conyers St, SE, Covington, GA
Damon and Elena Rain Kiss The Academy Springs Park 3120 Conyers St SE, Covington, GA
Alllll I want for Christmas…. Isss….. YOUUUUU! Blast some Mariah Carey music, get into the spirit and do a classic pose in front of the tree. You can keep this picture simple by sitting in front of any X-mas tree or go all out and surround yourself with decor and extra twinkle lights. It’s a versatile shot that will work with a variety of poses, but I thought this one was a bit more unique. First, sit down and do a half criss cross while he stands behind you bending over to give you a kiss on the forehead. You can thank me later 😉
CHRISTMAS PILLOW FIGHT
Throw on some Christmas pajamas that you have laying around. Target has matching PJs for $10! Set your camera right in front of the bed and have a pillow fight match! It’s perfect for an adorable, low maintenance, “candid” Christmas themed photo.
CANDY CANE HEART
Don’t be shy! Show off your lovey dovey PDA by holding up candy canes in front of you to form a heart. It’s such an affordable photoshoot idea that can easily recreate. Do this shot out in nature by some pine trees, in front of a christmas tree, or even at the beach! You can’t get any cheesier than that!
JINGLE (LIGHTS) ALL THE WAY
I was SO inspired by the 2006 Deck The Halls movie promo shot and wanted to recreate it in our own cutesy way (duh! hehe) Wear Christmas pjs or any festive print clothing, wrap yourself up in some christmas lights and you’ve got yourself a cheesy holiday shot. For the Christmas lights, I recommend getting the white wiring versus the green (won’t look as “snowy/dreamy”) but it’s your own preference!
Backdrop paper can get pretty expensive, especially since holiday patterns are used seasonally and can get pretty repetitive. I thought of an affordable way to change up your backdrop every holiday season without breaking the bank! Target has the Dollar section by the entrance with tons of simple garlands/ decor for you to put up on a blank wall or you can DIY your own! For this shoot, I used a small wreath and center that on a blank wall and slowly taped on candy canes in a pattern. I love repurposing the same decor and this makes such a unique backdrop for your house. You can even keep it up the whole holiday season!
The holidays are here and we’re all back in some form of a lockdown…Let’s all continue to keep one another safe by staying at home as much as possible. Large gathering’s should be put on hold for this year, BUT that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating with family & friends. Since Zoom only sees the top half of your body, I decided to create 5 easy and diverse “holiday themed” looks that you can all easily recreate at home!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! If you know me, you know I love a good cheesy, predictable Christmas fairytale movie. I think it’s safe to say we ALL need some extra festive cheer this year (did ya forget were still in a pandemic??) and what a better way to get through the year by staying inside and watching holiday films. I’m sharing my Christmas movie guide of all of the favorites I have on repeat every year. It’s sorted by genre and I rank my top 5 in each category. Some of these films have sequels that are just as good (I didn’t list it, but recommend you to watch!) PLEASE let me know what other movies I should add to my list and check out my instagram @sophcation for more daily updates.
When you hear the word Belgium, you think beer, waffles, chocolate, and frites? Well, Belgium is so much more than that. The country is filled with medieval historical sites, festive Christmas spirit, and a relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still dreaming about the scrumptious Begian waffles and frites dipped in curry ketchup. Though the winter time can get pretty chilly (we went during Christmas time), it truly is the most festive and coziest time to visit. The whole country transforms into a real life Hallmark Christmas movie and it feels so surreal. All in all, we spent 5 nights in Belgium-4 nights in Brussels, 1 night in Bruges and we can’t wait for our next trip back to Belgium because there is still so much to see. I think it’s one of the most underrated countries in Europe and I have a feeling more and more people will begin to discover its beauty. I will break down each city so continue down below to dig deeper into Antwerp!
LA doesn’t seem to ever experience a change of season. Although I’m super grateful for the endless sunshine, it’s nice to have an escape and change in scenery! If you are in need to get out of LA for a day and experience the closest thing to “fall”, then keep on reading!
Disclaimer: Due to Covid-19, I am not promoting or encouraging everyone to start traveling as if everythings normal. But I also think it’s important to get out safely and do what makes you happy. Everyone has different comfort levels. Of course wear a mask ALWAYS, use hand sanitizer/ wash your hands, stay away from crowds.
Oak Glen is a 5 mile scenic loop tucked away by the San Bernardino mountains . The first apple orchard was established all the way back in 1876. Alot of the farms there can be repetitive so I’ve listed my 2 favorite spots for these “instagrammable” shots!
Address: 12261 S. Oak Glen Road Oak Glen, CA 92399
Hours: Wednesday- Sunday 10AM- 4PM
This is probably one of the largest farms in Oak Glen. It is the site of Revolutionary War Adventures, Colonial farm life, and old world activities.
Here are the most “instagrammable spots” I found on Riley’s Farm. They set up a little hay and wagon seat as a fun photobooth and I stumbled upon a patch of maple trees that had turned so beautifully! I’ve linked this beautiful Amazon dress find in my Amazon Storefront.
At their restaurant, The Hawk’s Head, they have a menu inspired by the comforts of early colonial America. Everyone is dressed up in character which makes it so much more fun! Unfortunately, due to Covid, the sit down service is on pause… But you can still head over to the bakery with a take out window and snack on a slice of apple pie and enjoy the view!
It’s got your traditional U-pick trees from apples, to pears, to pumpkins, etc. They’ve got a tiny animal farm filled with the cutest goats, barns stuffed with souvenirs to buy and a revolutionary reenactment show to watch.
SNOW LINE ORCHARD AND WINERY
Address: 39400 Oak Glen Road Oak Glen, CA 92399
Hours: Weekends 10AM- 4PM
As you pull in, you’ll hear a live country band jamming away with plenty of outdoor seating for you to sit back and relax. Below are some instagrammable spots I found on location. They’ve got some epic rasberry/blackberry picking here. It lasts for 4-6 weeks so come at the right time!
Sip on some deliciously sweet pressed apple cider. There are zero preservatives added and it’s all made with an antique cider press! Their cider comes in 3 different flavors: traditional cider, raspberry apple cider and cherry apple cider- I highly recommend trying some! Don’t forget to try their apple cider mini donuts too (warning: it’s veryyyyy sugary)
They’ve got their apple trees planted symmetrically close to one another in rows so this is another “instagrammable” spot on the property. There’s plenty of space to roam around and find a quiet spot to shoot without people in the background.
I hope you this convinces you to take some time to get out of the city and soak in some fresh air, nature, & experience a change of scenery! It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to drive from Santa Monica to Oak Glen and from there you can hop around to all the different farms. Make sure to tag me on social media (Click here) and follow me there for more daily updates, comment below if there are any hidden gems I’m missing close by in LA, and I cannot wait to share more in the future.