Throwback Thursday: Girls Weekend in the Great State

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Unless your a resident of the Lone Star State, I have a inkling you’ve not. Fun Fact! Fredericksburg is the 5th largest wine producer in the US! Cheers y’all!

Last weekend Aunt Tina and I surprised Mom with {another} 60th Birthday Celebration! She knew she was heading to the GREAT STATE with two of her favorite people, but little did she know all the surprises we had in store!

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We told her to pack her bags- we were heading to Texas! Friday morning we were wheels up for Texas, flying from Atlanta to San Antonio. We picked up our rental car and I played Uber driver for our 57 mile commute to our VRBO rental in Kerrville. (About 25 minutes from downtown Fredericksburg.) Mom just couldn’t wrap her head around WHY we had to rent a house if it was just the three of us. Even though we told her it was cheaper than staying in town and probably a lot nicer than the local Holiday Express Motel.

This home was stunning y’all and Erin, the owner, was fantastic to work with. The house was updated and the views were spectacular- the rolling Texas hills made us feel like we were up in the hills of Hollywood. The Master Bathroom had a walk-in shower with three, yes THREE, shower heads! Don’t get me started on the backyard with the fire pit, outdoor kitchen and  infinity pool- absolutely breathtaking y’all! Highly recommend this property if you’re heading to Fredericksburg for any occasion! Wish we could have spent more time there!

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The real reason we needed a larger house? It was not going to be just the three of us spending the weekend together hopping around tasting wine. We were spending the weekend with a few of our favorite Texas women- sorority sisters, family, friends from fifth grade and friends that are like family! SURPRISE TG!

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Friday Night was spent with guests arriving sporadically surprising Mom. Catching up, laughing like school girls and of course cheers-ing to our Birthday Girl!

Saturday we got up bright and early to hit the Texas Wine Trail! We used The 290 Wine Shuttle Company, which was fantastic! They charter guests around to 13 local wineries for a very reasonable fee. It was so nice not having to worry about calling an Uber or having a one of the girls miss the fun and play Designated Driver.

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We started at Barons Creek for a quick tasting of five or six varieties.

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They have a huge tasting room, complete with multiple private rooms, a lovely back garden space and gift shop. The Viognier was one of our favorites from the tasting- it has ripe apricot and delicate lemon zest flavors combination in this delicious Texas Viognier. This wine has a long, creamy finish. It’s a fantastic companion for shrimp or lobster with butter sauce.

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Mom also really enjoyed their Muscat Canelli, a deliciously sweet and balanced wine bursting with flavors of peach, honeydew and a hint of grapefruit. It is a perfect aperitif on a warm day but you can also pair it with fruit salad or Thai cuisine. That has her name all over it!

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From Barons Creek we had a short wait for the 290 Bus and headed to Grape Creek: The Tuscany of the South.

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Grape Creek is a local favorite. The property was beautiful! You really did feel like you were in Tuscany! The tasting area was VERY crowded and on weekends they do limit the number of guests per tasting groups. This vineyard was highly recommend, so we broke into small groups for tasting prior to our arrival. Our tasting experience was ok. Our guide was not full of that Southern Texas hospitality until I decide to sign up for their Wine Club. We had to wait over an over an our for a tasting, their restaurant was packed and the check-in station seemed a little frazzled and not able to give us real information the wait time, availability, etc. I wish the customer service experience as a little different because the wine was quite good. We ended up finding a spot to sit and share a bottle and a stunningly delicious charcuterie board together before heading to our final stop of the day.

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Our third winery was Fat Ass.

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Our favorite for the atmosphere! {With a name like Fat Ass, how could it not?}  It was such fun y’all! Very laid back, low key environment with a live band. So, so much fun! Their wine supply was down when we were there, but they make a wine slushy that went down way too easily! A perfect drink for Summer days. Definitely plan to stop by Fat Ass when you head to the Texas Wine Country! We had the best time!

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Whew! Feeling wined-up yet? Hang on and pop over next week for our Travel Tuesday series when we wrap up our weekend in the Wine Country!

We hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds, not experts!

Throwback Thursday: West Coast Wanders {Part 4}

{Just joining us? Check our West Coast Adventures on our Tuesday Travels and Throw Back Thursday posts- we started our trip in Napa and spent Saturday in San Francisco.}

Sunday:

Our final day on the West Coast. We planned to take the red eye home to allow us more time in the city…that may or may not have been a good idea. We enjoyed our time in the city, but took us about 3 days to get over the jet lag.

Our first Sunday stop was a tour of Alcatraz.

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I am so glad we took the time to do this tour- it was our favorite thing about our time in San Francisco. We took the first ship out at 8:45am {if you can’t get tickets for the night tour, bite the bullet and take the first tour.}

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We’ve mastered the “selfie” don’t you think?

We were the only one on the island for a about 30-45minutes and were able to get most of the audio tour done without having to fight around people. They are prepared for a very large crowd- the line for headphones for the cell audio tour can easily be a 2 hour wait. The cell tour was about an hour long and is FREE! (Guess what? They have a Twitter too!)

{Travel Tip: We heard the best tour to do, if you’re not too chicken, is the night tour. It does book out months in advance, so if you can plan ahead go for it!}

From Alcatraz we headed to AT&T Park for the San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves Game.

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BEST BALL FIELD EVER! I can’t say we saw much of the inside of the stadium, but we did find the best hidden gem! Alongside the far right field wall the Giants have a hidden viewing area for FREE! Thats right, you can literally get some free baseball! For 3-4 innings the staff allows 20-25 people in this viewing area to watch the game. Since we live in Atlanta we couldn’t justifying paying $75 to see the Braves play, but am so glad we found this secret spot. The area outside the stadium is so fun too! Boaters wade in the bay area outside the outfield, after each home run they all blow their horns- we even saw a few passengers jump ship to fetch balls! Such a fun time!

After the game we heading back to Fisherman’s Wharf for one last bowl of Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. This time we headed to The Franciscan Crab Restaurant– every table in the restaurant has a view of the water.

Not original photo: www.franciscanrestaurant.com/photos.htm
Not original photo: http://www.franciscanrestaurant.com/photos.htm

Their “menu” is a mix of a magazine and cookbook each item accompanied by a photo- wish we would have found this spot sooner! We both had a bread bowl with chowder and spilt a iron skillet of mussels- oh my gosh! Oh so good! I’d plan a trip back just to go there! (Don’t worry they have a Twitter too!)

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Whew! What a great, quick vacation! Adam and I had such a good time seeing the sites and trying new things! We’re really looking forward to going back especially to the Napa area. Now back to reality.

We hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed of Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds, not experts.

(Whoops- we forgot to tell y’all about our Trolley Car photo shoot- never made time to ride on a rail car, but we did get our picture with one!)

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Throw Back Thursday: West Coast Wanders {Part 2}

Up and at ’em again! You’d think after a long day of touring six wineries Adam and I would relax by the pool at the Meritage Resort. Yea right! We have more vineyards to see and wines to try!

If you missed our Tuesday Travels post, take a look and get caught up on our two day trip to Napa Valley.

Friday: 

@HeliHubby and I started our Friday morning with a late Breakfast at The Boon Fly Cafe. Wow y’all! Talk about good eats! You’ve got to make a stop if you’re in the area and start with their “Bakers Dozen Donuts.” So not healthy, but oh so yummy! They are mini cinnamon/sugar donuts served with a variety of jellys to dip the in. Yum! Yum!

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Adam had a omelet and I ate the Poppa Joe’s Egg in a Hole…so so good! Really, can you tell how much we enjoyed it? I can’t wait to go back!

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Our first Winery of the day, was Bouchaine Vineyards.

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They are the oldest winery in the region and are now a locally owned boutique style winery. We can not say enough wonderful things about this tasting.  Our tasting guides Alli and Tyler were the best we had our entire trip- they could not have provided a better experience! Both were extremely knowledgable about the wine and the wine making process. We loved that we could tell they both genuinely loved their job. We found another delicious sweet wine here too! We can’t wait to return!

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After our tasting at Bouchaine we stopped by Etude for another quick tasting. Their tasting cost is a bit more expensive than most wineries in the area, however, we were able to taste very high end bottles. (Wines that Adam and I would never buy-way too pricey for us!) A great experience though!

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From Etude we went to Artesa Winery.

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The tasting room is very unique, it’s built into a hill- you’d never know it was there!

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Artesa has a large outdoor tasting area- awesome views of the grounds and the valley area. On a beautiful sunny day, it is the perfect spot to sit, relax, take in the views and taste the wines!

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Artesa had the “youngest crowd” and was the most busy out of all the wineries we visited. It actually felt like we were at a club fighting to get to the bar for a drink. While there we met an older couple that was part of their wine club and they could not even get service. The views were awesome, but not worth going back to and fighting the crowds. We each had one glass of champagne and left. Disappointing.

Our final tasting of our trip was at Domaine Carneros. {You can see the grounds of Domaine Carneros from the observation deck of Artesa.}

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We planned to visit this vineyard midday, because they are one of the very few that serves food alongside their tastings. (at an additional cost) It is definitely worth paying a little more though! Reservations are required, we planned about an hour at each winery tasting prior in order to make it in time for our reservation. Again, another site with gorgeous views and a large outdoor tasting area.

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Adam and I each did the Grande Champagne tasting with the Charcuterie Plate. (A selection of artisan meats served with sliced baguette.) Our host was an older French gentleman- he just loved Adam and I! He brought us out an additional dessert Champagne to try along with some dark chocolate to top off our visit! It was another favorite spot added to our list!

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We loved our time in Napa and can not wait to start planning a trip back. We could literally spend weeks out there and not see everything! Have you done a wine tasting trip out to Napa or Sonoma? We’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite vineyards to tour? Wines to taste?

Watch for another Newly Newlywed Tuesday Travels post next week! We’ll be sharing our trip down to San Francisco through the Muir Woods and over the Golden Gate Bridge, plus all the things we did in the city!

Don’t forget to follow these spots on @twitter too!

@MeritageResort 

@BoonFlyCafe

@BouchaineWines

@EtudeWines

@Artesa

@DomaineCarneros

So sad to see our Napa Valley trip come to an end, but we will be visiting again soon! Now to continue Adam’s birthday celebration in the city! We will share all the details soon!

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Hope you are enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds not experts!

Tuesday Travels: West Coast Wanders {Part One}

After weeks of researching and following other travel blogs it was finally time for @Helihubby and I to head to the West Coast!  Our bags were overpacked and we were off to start Adam’s 30th Birthday Celebration!

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We flew Delta– Lord knows that is another story! Thanks to Delta’s little mess up, I almost didn’t make it through TSA Screeners! With a little Southern Charm and persuading them with my Stella&Dot Business Cards (with my maiden name) they let me through! WHEW! We flew into SFO, picked up our rental car and our first stop? A very late night supper stop at IN-N-OUT Burger. YUMMMMM!!!!

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{In-N-Out Burger is the Fast Food joint of the stars. Know for their “secret menu” it’s the Waffle House of the West!}

The first two days of our trip were spent in Napa. If you have not been and like wine-or don’t like wine- it is a must do trip! We absolutely loved this portion of our vacation! The only thing we wish we had done differently was allowed more time to just relax at our hotel, The Meritage Resort.They welcomed us with a bottle of wine and a view of a vineyard outside our backdoor. We could have spent a week in Napa alone.

Meritage Resort Wine

Thursday: 

We started the day about 7am. First stop, Oakville Grocery. We heard time and time again from friends about this “cute little grocery store” we just had to stop at on our way into Napa Valley. Boy were they right! It was darling!

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Oakville is a great stop to start {or end} your day. They have a reasonably priced and unique sandwich menu with picnic tables in a vineyard to dine. Adam and I each had a Breakfast Sandwich…wish I could remember what it was, but oh so tasty!

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 We did a little shopping- picked up a loaf of bread, a selection of local cheeses and meats for us to snack on throughout the day.

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{This is the way to go! If you’re  planning a day of tastings stop and grab some snacks. There are not many places to stop for lunch between vineyards.}

Oakville is full of local products and has so much character. During their recent renovation they discovered a well (pictured below) that was originally made when Oakville began in the 1800’s.

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From Oakville Grocery we continued into Napa Valley for our 10am tour at Castello di Amorosa. 

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Apparently Napa is a small world! I ran into one of my best friends from Middle/High School, Brianna and her fiancé Darryl at The Castle! They were recently engaged at Frog’s Leap Winery and were back visiting. They have a great engagement story, if you have some time give it a read!

Touring The Castle was one of our favorite things we did on our trip.

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I will say, the tour is fantastic, you learn a lot about the property. Did you know it was used for a Rose Ceremony for the Bachelor during Jake Pavelka’s season? (See the atrium picture below) If you are interested in learning more about the wine and the wine making process, the general tour is probably not for you.  That was the only disappointment we left with- wish we had learned more about wine rather than the facility. 

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Out of all the wineries we visited and tastings we did, we left The Castle with the most bottles of wine! We had heard mixed reviews on their selection and really didn’t know what to expect going into the tour. They ended up having two fantastic, sweet wines that both Adam and I enjoyed. We were able to taste 5 wines each accompanied with Sea Salted Chocolate- to die for! Best part of the tasting!

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During our Castle Tour we also got to sample a Cabernet right out of the barrel- pretty cool! Cheers to our first tasting!

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Next stop, Sterling Vineyards.

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Sterling is the only vineyard with an arial tram- spectacular views!  We really enjoyed the pace of this winery. They had 5 or 6 different tasting stations for us to visit. We were able to go at our pace touring the vineyard and tasting the variations they offered. Definitely worth visiting for the views alone! (Part of your entrance fee includes a Sterling Wine glass to take home.) Cheers!

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 From Sterling we hopped over to Beringer. Beringer was not originally on our schedule, but just happens to be the producer of a White Zin that my Aunt Tina’s loves. Soooo we just had to stop by!

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Do you Beringer fans recognize this house? If not, grab a bottle of their White Zin and it may come to you!

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We continued our planned tastings to Sutter Home Winery. Sutter Home is the only winery in the Valley that still offers FREE, yes, you read correctly, FREE tastings! You are offered a variety of 5 samplings- some of the wines are sold nationally in your local grocery store and others are specific to only being sold at the winery.

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Sutter Home was my favorite stop along our route. Our server, Jennifer, was so friendly and knowledgable…and not to mention she is a huge BRAVES fan! While at our tasting we ran into another couple from Atlanta and just had the best time tasting and getting tips of things to see and do in San Francisco! It was the most fun we’d had at a tasting all day! Thanks Jennifer!

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{Then again, maybe we just liked it so much because they gave us these bottles of wine!}

On the way to our final winery we ended up taking a detour to Freemark Abbey’s tasting room. They are currently going through renovations, but we had a great time at our impromptu tasting. They had a wide selection of red wines to taste- Adam and I shared one tasting flight. It’s a small venue right now- standing room only, but a nice little spot to stop if you want to avoid the crowds. Freemark Abbey Freemark Abbey 2

Whew! Are you tired yet? Five wineries in the books on Day 1 and just one more to go! Our last Vineyard for the day was Mumm.

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Mumm is known for their Bubbly- what a fun way to end our first day!

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All their tastings are table service in an open atrium setting and have spectacular views! It was a great place to end our tasting tour for the day. (Side note- we did visit near closing time and traffic leaving was horrible! Keep that in mind for future plans)

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Our final stop on the way back to the resort was the V Marketplace in Yountville. You’ve got to stop by while you are in the Napa area. The vintage 1870 building is the home to Napa’s original hot air balloon company. The building has been restored and is now home to multiple shops, art galleries and restaurants. We browsed around Napa Style- a cafe style shop with all sorts of locally made cooking spices and sauces. (Stay tuned to our Friday Favorites Blog for a details on one of our favorite souvenirs!)

We grabbed a few appetizers and cocktails at Bottega. Oh-My-Gosh! If you can get in, definitely make a stop! Food Network Chef, Michael Chiarello, created a farm to table Italian style menu. It was fantastic! We ordered Polpette alla Griglia-Grilled short rib meatballs, Chiarello Family Vineyard Zinfandel conserva, Cipollini agrodolce, kumqats, sunchoke passata-so delicious! We could have ordered more! We also tried their Calamari Fritti a Monterey Calamari crisped with Arborio rice flour and aioli nero. Each table is served a bread loaf with an absolutely amazing Asiago and Reggiano cheeses dip with fresh garlic, chili and fresh herbs. It is to die for y’all! Oh so yummy! I’m craving it now!

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Can’t forget to mention our favorite part…cocktails! I had some sort of Spiked Lemonade with Rosemary…cheers!

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What a busy and exciting first day of visiting Napa! Six wineries in one day! Stay tuned for {Part 2} of our West Coast Wanders later this week!

All of the Vineyards we visited on Day 1 can be found on @Twitter. Look into  following them, send them a tweet them prior to your visit, especially if you are celebrating something. Each Winery we visited went out of their way to say “Happy Birthday” to Adam or give him an extra tasting because of a tweet I previously mentioned. LOVE LOVE LOVE Twitter…you should too!

@Meritageresort

@OakvilleGrocery 

@TheCastello

@Sterlingwines

@Beringervyds

@SutterHome

@FreemarkAbbey

@MummNapaWinery

We hope you are enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds not experts!

Tuesday Travels

@HeliHubby (are you following him on Twitter yet?) and I are packing our bags again!

This time we are off to the West Coast for a little R&R to celebrate Adam turning the BIG 3-0 in San Francisco! Oh who are we kidding? I highly doubt there will be much time for rest and relaxation with the schedule I have planned!

Have you visited the West Coast? We would love to know your favorite spots in San Francisco and Napa areas. We’ve gotten so many tips from friends old and new that we have recently met traveling, but are always looking for more ideas!

Take a look at our itinerary thus far- we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Day 1:

We arrive at SFO late in the evening and plan to make the hour drive North to Napa where we start the first part of our trip.

Day 2:

Our first full day in Napa starts bright and early- can’t miss an opportunity to try some new wine! We begin our day with a drive on CA-29 N to Castello di Amorosa for our first Vineyard Tour and Tasting. From The Castle (@thecastello on twitter) we head over to Sterling Vineyards for a Noon tasting and ride on their ariel gondola. After our tour at Sterling (@sterlingwines on twitter) we’re planning to hop around a few vineyards thru Yountville (we hear its a darling little town with lots of character and shopping) and back down towards the Meritage Resort. (@meritageresort on twitter)

*Were still looking for somewhere for Supper that night. We were not able to get a reservation at The French Laundry. *

Day 3:

The following day we’re heading back to San Francisco for the remainder of our trip. We’ll leave our hotel, head South through Novato and San Rafael toward the Muir Woods stopping at a few vineyards along the way, before finally reaching San Francisco.

Day 4:

Our first full day in San Francisco we’re planning to do all the “Touristy” things: crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, visiting Fisherman’s Wharf for some Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl, riding a cable car through town, swinging by the “Full House” House (duh!),  and driving down Lombard Street.

Do you think we are missing anything? Know of a fun night life spot? Fill us in!

Day 5:

Our final day in the West Coast begins with an 8:30am tour of Alcatraz– we’ve heard it is a fantastic tour! After the tour we’re heading to the ballpark to take in a  little baseball action and cheer on former Atlanta Brave, Tim Hudson and his San Francisco Giants (@sfgiants on twitter)! Adam and I are looking forward to checking another ballpark off of out list! Once the game ends, we have the entire day to site see (and have NOTHING planned) as we’re taking the Red Eye home.

We can’t wait for our next adventure! Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your favorite spots with us! Let the count down begin!

Hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed Moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds not experts!