Tag Archives: Historic Mansion

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK.

Who would fly 5,000 miles to take a picture?  This girl!  Boy am I glad that I followed my heart, because what I got was so much more than a photo.

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Ever since I saw the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice I knew that I had to make it to Pemberley (all you Mr. Darcy fans out there know what I am talking about!) and in 2013 I finally got my chance.

So, I’m not going to lie…my trip to the United Kingdom was planned (mad props to Anne Marie at Across the Pond Vacations for all your help) around Chatsworth House.  Yes, I was excited to see London and Edinburgh, but really it was this place that I had been dreaming about that gave me butterflies.  All I knew about it was from a movie and through planning I was blown away by how amazing it really was.

First, lodging…where to stay?  On the grounds of course, above a pub – yes please!  The Devonshire Arms at Beeley is a car ride, walk or bike ride away from Chatsworth House. You choose your own adventure.

Hands down, this was one of the best places I have ever stayed.  It was in a picturesque village, the food, rooms and staff were all phenomenal. When I get stressed, I often picture myself having a pint on their patio while watching sheep graze nearby.

Are there other things to do around Chatsworth House you ask?  Absolutely!  It is located in the Peak District, which is a nature lovers dream.  Cycling, camping, hiking…the list goes on.  We couldn’t help but strap on our walking shoes and go exploring.  I recommend you stop by the Farm Shop first stock up on some fresh local provisions first!








With goodies in hand, we set out on the first trail we found, to enjoy the local wildlife and take a breath to enjoy life.  I know it may seem cheesy, but for as long as I live, the moment I spent sitting by the river having a picnic with my husband and my best friend will forever be one of the best.




As if life couldn’t get any better…it was finally time to go and explore Chatsworth House.  I have two big tips for you.  Plan to stay all day (one day may not be enough for you) and buy the Discovery ticket, which includes the house, garden and farmyard as you must see it all.

OK, in a nutshell, there is art, magnificent gardens, trails to explore, cute animals, a human sundial, fountains, shopping, yummy restaurants, and happiness!  OH and a hedge maze…a legit one.  It took us 45 minutes (rookies!) and it was a blast.  The research I did before hand did not do this place justice and I had 1000% more than anticipated.

Another thing I loved was the fact that there was so much open space to just lounge and take a moment to soak all the beauty in.

The moral of this story is…everyone has their Chatsworth House, so whether it is near or far.  GO!!! You never know what other awesome things you will discover and I promise once you set eyes on your dream place for the first time your life will change forever – I know mine did.

Happy Chatsworthing,


P.S. Any P&P fans out there recognize this?




Descanso Gardens – La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

18 May


You have got to go here…Descanso Gardens – La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Don’t you love when you discover something new in your own backyard?  I do!  That is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when I spent a lovely day at Descanso Gardens.


Located in the beautiful neighborhood of La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens is 160 acres of glorious flowers, trails, and vistas that can be explored by the whole family!  If you just want to stop and smell the roses or strap on your hiking boots – this place is for you.

Love flowers?  Feel free to stroll through the Rose, California Native, Lilac and Japanese gardens (just to name a few)!








While the flowers were gorgeous, they weren’t may favorite part of the day.  The best part were two things I discovered that were totally unexpected – TRAILS & TRAINS!

First, let me start with the trails – I had no idea that there were going to be so many little hiking opportunities around the property.  My advice, take the unbeaten path because you never know what wonders you will come across.  Please remember one thing, there is poison oak so be careful!


I was also super excited to learn that you can ride around a portion of the grounds (for an additional $3 – which is totally worth it!) on a 1/8th replica of a diesel train called The Enchanted RailroadYES, big kids can ride on it too!








If I haven’t mentioned enough to keep you occupied, trust me there is much more to see!  A historical home, expansive lawns to relax on, hidden benches to spend a moment with your loved ones, a bird observation deck  and the list just keeps on going…







If you need to take a break for some food there is a cafe on-site or feel free to bring a picnic and eat at the tables just outside the entrance.

OH did I mention you get a day full of adventure of only $9??? You can’t beat that!  Trust me, Descanso Gardens is a place you have got to go to!

Happy Gardening,









Sunnylands – Rancho Mirage, Calif.

7 Jan

You have got to go here…Sunnylands – Rancho Mirage, Calif.


If you are into history, architecture, gardens, or art (just to name a few) – then a trip to Sunnylands is just for you!

Where to start…so much to show and tell!

Located less than 15 minutes from the heart of Palm Springs, Sunnylands has been nicknamed the “West Coast Camp David” due to all the historical meetings that have taken place behind its doors, but there is so much more to it.

Designed by architect A. Quincy Jones in the 1960’s, Sunnylands (a classic example of Mid-century Modern design) was originally built as a desert oasis for the Annenberg family, but over the years turned into a destination for not only their friends and family, but for world leaders and celebrities as well.

Main House


Up until 2012 all the historical significance was kept behind its walls, but thankfully now the public can relish in the inspiring stories and  amazing views it offers.

While the visitors center and gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m every day, don’t expect to just drive up and get on the next tour of the estate – viewing opportunities are available in limited quantities daily.  Tickets are released on the 1st and 15th of each month at 9 a.m. for the following two weeks and are $35 per person for a 90 minute tour…I PROMISE it is worth it.  Fifteen tours are offered each day, with only 7 people on each one.  The small group made it very cool – I felt like I was actually a guest in their home.

You should arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour for check-in, but come plenty early or make sure there is ample time after your tour to walk the immaculate gardens, watch a video on the history of Sunnylands, lounge in the lobby and look through countless books, or have a lunch at the gourmet cafe.


OK, now that we got through all the basics…it is time for the main event!  So hop aboard the golf cart and let’s take a tour through history…


Sunnylands sits on a 9-hole golf course and houses several lakes, a Totem Pole, Chinese pagoda, rose garden, art galore and a Magnolia tree with roots back to Andrew Jackson – just to name a few!

TotemStop and smell the roses...

DSCN5863DSCN5882This goes way back!

Sorry to say this is where the pictures stop, for security reasons photography is not allowed inside the main house.  No worries, you will just have to visit for yourself and walk through the room where Ronald Reagan sat while watching Mikhail Gorbachev speak to the American people in the 1980’s (this room also boasts some of the most impressive pictures, letters and invitations from celebrities, royalty and world leaders that I have ever seen), stand in the foyer where seven U.S. Presidents have stood, feast your eyes on an actual Picasso, and take a stroll past the table where Queen Elizabeth was served dinner.  Believe me when I say that these are just a few of the super cool things you will get to experience when you take a tour, so do yourself a favor and plan a trip.

Oh and don’t forget to sign the guest book on your way out – it’s a tradition!


P.S. – Did you know that the only state dinner held outside of the White House was held at Sunnylands?


Happy Sunnylanding,


Victoria Beach – Laguna Beach, Calif.

26 Sep

You have got to go here…Victoria Beach – Laguna Beach, Calif.

I am sure many of you have heard or been to Laguna Beach, Calif., but have you stepped off the beaten path and been to Victoria Beach ,or better yet seen the Victorian Tower?

Located off Victoria Drive and Pacific Coast Highway, Victoria Beach is dubbed “The most private public beach in Laguna”.  Parking is hard to come by (pay extra attention to signs to make sure you don’t get a ticket or get towed), but trust me when I say this beach is worth the extra time to find a space or the extra walk you may need to take.

Here is a sneak peek to keep you interested…

OK, so the first adventure – the staircase!  Just kidding, it really isn’t as bad as it looks.  It is quite pretty and there is a bench along the route to stop and take a breather.

Once you get to the bottom, make a right.   You will see amazing tide pools (remember this is a natural habitat so please don’t touch).  Luckily the tide was low and I saw the most amazing starfish ever!  Be on the look out as you never know what you may see…

Take your time to explore – you have all day.  Once you are ready, head towards the castle (you can’t miss it)…you heard me!  OK, so it isn’t really a castle, but it sure looks like one.  Built in 1926, this Rapunzelesque Tower is something straight out of a fairytale.  Originally it was used as a staircase to the beach by the owner above, but now it sits as a beautiful piece of scenery to enjoy.

It’s really an awesome structure and to think it is still standing almost 90 years later.  You can walk around it and take in all the sights it has to offer.  I loved sitting next to it, just gazing out at the ocean – dreaming of what it was like in 1926…

Want to see more?  Well, then you will have to go here!  Grab a towel, some lunch  and head on down! Another secret, this beach is hard to find so there are rarely crowds.  It is a nice place to spend a relaxing day with your friends and family.  It can be your little secret hide-a-way (wink, wink)!

Happy Castling,


Potter School – Bodega, Calif.

15 Nov

You have got to go here…Potter School – Bodega, Calif.

Drum roll please…the mystery location is revealed:  It is the school from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

While a lot of the movie was filmed in Bodega Bay (stop in at the visitors center and you can get a map of where the film locations are around the town), the school (which is now a private home) is located in the adjacent city of Bodega.

When we turned down the road to go to the school I started to feel creepy and for sure was on the look out for birds…lol.  You can’t miss this landmark.  There is ample parking on the street so that you can stop and take pictures (or re-enact running from the birds like I did), but please remember that this is a private home.

OK, so for the really creepy part…there were tons of swallows just flying around the house and there were hundreds of nests under the eaves…it is like they knew the history of the property!

My husband and I had tons of fun walking around the building, marveling at its architecture and thinking about the power house actors and director who stood here before us.

While this is not an all day trip as there isn’t much else to do other than visit a few stores and pick up a snack at the general store, it is for sure worth a stop if you are in the San Francisco or Sonoma area.  If you are a movie buff it truly is some place you have got to go, BUT watch out for the birds!

Happy Bird Watching,


Mystery Location

2 Nov

You have got to go here…???

This is one of the coolest places I discovered this year and you have to see it, BUT do you know what it is and where it is?

Leave your guesses in the comment section and next week I will give you more information about it!

Hint – it is very famous and very creepy:)

Happy Guessing,


Bluff Top Trail – Dana Point, Calif.

19 Sep

You have got to go here…Bluff Top Trail – Dana Point, Calif.

Southern California is full of amazing beach views, but what I discovered is that some also have hidden history!

OK, so here is how the story goes…while driving around looking for good grub, I passed a little restaurant named The Shwack Beach Grill that was PACKED, so I stopped – don’t be afraid to try something new.  This blog is not about food, but it did lead me to my discovery:)  After having a yummy chicken sandwich (at a great price) and amazing spuds – see picture below – I noticed a park at the end of the street with a beautiful view.

The beautiful views belonged to Bluff Top Trail, which is located at the end of Amber Lantern St. There is ample parking on the streets, so no need to worry about that.

When I first arrived at the trail I spent some time looking at the gorgeous ocean.  You can see for miles…it was truly breathtaking!  After a few moments I noticed that there was a path along the bluff and decided to see where it would take me…

There are a lot of stairs, but go for it!  Take your time and enjoy the scenery.  At the half way mark there is a picturesque wooden bridge that also boasts great views…as I walked along the bridge I came across a historical marker.

Who knew that along this trail lied remnants of the Dana Point Inn, which was a lifelong dream of S.H. Woodruffs but was never finished due to the stock market crash and great depression.  It became a game for me to try to find what was left of this historic hotel.  Once I opened my eyes, there were pieces everywhere…phenomomonal arches and a deserted pathway!  My mind began to wonder…imaging what this hotel may have looked like in its prime.  Thinking of the upscale women who may have had tea in the parlour was like stepping back in time.

There was history at every angle…I was so excited to have stumbled upon this treasure.  Hidden behind million dollars homes was an amazing piece of California history!

I ended up walking the pathway several times trying to find new sites.  Take your time and see what you can discover.

This is a great place to take a date or the family.  It serves a dual purpose…beauty and brains!

Happy Historying,