Right Place, Right Time

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You know that moment when you realize there’s nowhere else you’d rather be? 

Maybe you’re looking at an epic landscape or listening to a mind-bending song. Maybe you’re caught in the rain, soaked to the bone, just happy to be with an old friend. Epic moment or not, it’s the people you’re with who make you feel like you’re in the right place at the right time. We felt that way when we visited some old friends in Chattanooga, TN for the weekend.

Our first afternoon in the Scenic City proved to be ironic – fog so thick you could barely see 50 feet in front of you. Sporadic rain bursts had us scurrying into the nearest bars for cover and a quick liquor jacket. We couldn’t outrun the rain every time, but we didn’t mind so much.

The rest of the weekend was spent reminiscing over boozy brunches, criss-crossing the city by bike, eating like Southern gentry, hiking old Civil War trails, sharing tall drinks and taller tales, bustin’ a few moves, canoeing off hangovers and just soaking up each other’s company. It was a weekend of sight seeing and memory making. Sure, we’ll remember the gorgeous views and the killer burger we had, but we’ll cherish the time we spent together just traipsing trails and gettin’ tipsy in the Dixie.

It was a great weekend in Chattanooga – take it from us, it’s an awesome city and worthy of all the praise (see our list of our must-do’s below). But we could have been anywhere with our friends and we would have been in the right place at the right time. Be it Chattanooga, our hometown, your hometown, or a random place in between, the people make the place. When we’re in good company, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.

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Chattanooga Must-Do’s:

  1. Sriracha Bloody Mary & Eggs Benny at The Flying Squirrel
  2. The Norman Rockwell Exhibit at Hunter Museum of American Art
  3. Fresh mole enchiladas before 11am at Taqueria Jalisco
  4. Bike across Walnut Street Bridge
  5. New Mexico Burger & Dixie 8 Cocktain at Urban Stack
  6. Avocado Gelato at Milk & Honey
  7. $1 espresso shots from 4-5PM at Brash Coffee
  8. White Shadow Belgian White at Terminal Brewhouse
  9. Gear Up for Cumberland Trail at Rock/Creek Outfitters

 

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Win The Ultimate South American Adventure

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Picture the magnificent glaciers of Chile, the glassy lakes of Torres del Paine National Park, the billowing clouds gathering on the mountain tops. Now picture yourself hiking the trails for 10 days. This is not your average holiday, but what kind of adventure is? Click here to enter to win the ultimate 1o-day trekking adventure through the renowned Patagonia wilderness in Chile!

Your journey begins in bustling Santiago, Chile then catch a flight to South America’s southern tip. You’ll leave the comforts of the modern world behind to hike the famous “W” Route in Torres del Paine National Park. Every morning wake to the dramatic peaks, sparkling lakes and rare wildlife. Hike from one camp to the next and let the magnitude of this unique place wash over you with every new switchback. Eventually, you’ll come across the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier – one of the world’s few growing glaciers, then end the trip with a lively night in Buenos Aires. Sounds dreamy, don’t it?

Click here to enter to win a spot on the trip, airfare, sweet travel clothing from Toad&Co and $1,000 spending money. With all that taken care of, you’ll be left to enjoy the awe-inspiring moments and incredible experiences.

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Right: Fly-By-Night Jacket, Outdoor Joy Tank, Viatrix Short . Left: Swifty Cafe Sleeve Tee, Bristlecone Pant

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Our Men’s Graphic Tees are made of soft organic cotton and printed with water–based, eco–friendly inks. They also look great on the trail and pair excellently with glaciers.

One Weekend in Flagstaff, AZ

Anita Ritenour, via RootsRated.com
Anita Ritenour, via RootsRated.com

We’re headed to Flagstaff, AZ this weekend for the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival, the annual festival that highlights socially and environmentally conscious outdoor adventure films. And what a great place for it – get inspired by gorgeous adventure films, then light out into Arizona’s high dessert. With no shortage of incredible trails and a quick one-hour drive to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, Flagstaff is one of those perfect weekend destinations. Couple that with a renowned film fest and you’ve got yourself a perfect 3 day getaway.

The key to enjoying any great destination film festival is maximizing on those daylight hours. On the night you arrive in Flagstaff, grab dinner at Tinderbox Kitchen – Flagstaff’s “it” restaurant that serves up seasonal, handmade everything (even their mustard is made in-house). Get a good night’s sleep and set your alarm for an early wakeup – 4am at the latest. Throw on your warmest clothes and drive 1 hour north on Historic Route 66 to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The gate to the park is open 24 hours and it’s 20$ per carload.

Even if you’ve been to the Grand Canyon a hundred times, no two sunrises are the same. Since you’re coming from the south, we suggest catching the sunrise from Yavapati Point or Yaki Point on the south rim. To access Yavapati, park at the Visitor’s Center and walk past Mather Point to Yavapai Point. For Yaki, turn right on Rim Road before you get to the Visitor’s Center, park along the road, and walk the half mile to Yaki Point. Yaki Point is usually the least crowded on any given day, while Mather Point is crowded with early-bird campers. Alternately, walk along the Rim Trail and find a nice spot to perch; there’s no shortage of gorgeous views.

Soak up the views for a few hours then head back to Flagstaff for a midmorning Film Fest session. You’ll need a little pick-me-up so head to Macy’s Coffee House for a cup of not-so-average joe and a quick bite to go. After a few hours relaxing in Flagstaff’s historic Orpheum Theater, lace up your boots and hit the local trails. We like Sandys Canyon for its’ relative ease and immediate views of the distant San Francisco Peaks and sandstone cliffs of Walnut Canyon. The Kachina Trail is also a local beauty; do the full 10 mile hike or just a portion, all the while meandering through Flagstaff’s high-altitude aspen forest and alpine meadows. Watch the sun go down on the trail and get pumped for the next film.

Sandy's Canyon view, Brady Smith via RootsRated.com
Sandy’s Canyon view, Brady Smith via RootsRated.com

After an evening film session and a whole bucket of popcorn, you’re famished and ready for late night pizza. Head to Pizzicletta, a tiny 20-person max gourmet pizza joint that will have you reconsidering every other pizza you’ve ever had. We’d tell you which pizza is our favorite, but that would mean we have to pick one… which is impossible.

It’s another early morning on your last day in Flagstaff, so bound out of bed and high-tail it to Humphrey’s Peak Trail. At 12,633 feet above sea level, Humphreys Peak is the highest point in the state of Arizona. From high atop the barren alpine tundra, you can see the lush Inner Basin, Hart Prairie,  several volcanic relics dotting the landscape, the uplifted rim of Oak Creek Canyon, and even the Grand Canyon on a clear day. The trail is a tour of the rugged mountainside, and everything about it seems out of place for Arizona–not at all what you would expect from a state known for desert and cactus. You can hike the whole 10 miles, or just a portion in case you have other plans – like brunch plans.

And you’ll definitely want brunch plans at MartAnne’s Breakfast Palace. Authentic Mexican breakfast dishes get super sized, but you’ve earned it. Get the house favorite, chilaquiles (think breakfast nachos smothered in egg and enchilada sauce. YUM.) or a breakfast burrito the size of your arm. It’s cash only, so come prepared. After breakfast, roll yourself over to the Orpheum for the last afternoon session of inspiring outdoor films. Meander downtown or walk off breakfast at the Lava Tubes in Coconino National Forest – did we mention that northern Arizona was once an ancient volcanic hotbed? Be prepared to be amazed. On your way out of town, stop by Mother Road Brewing Co to pick up a few growlers of the local brew – aside from the memories and film fest passes, you’ll want something to remember that one awesome weekend in Flagstaff.

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Our First Time in Great Basin National Park

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When was the last time you did something for the first time? The last time you experienced something that made you see things a little differently? The last time you stood in a new place and felt an overwhelming sense of awe? That’s the feeling we set out to find. We grabbed some friends, packed up our bags and set out for Great Basin National Park – one of the least visited parks in the Lower 48 with some of the oldest trees and the darkest skies.

We left Salt Lake City after work on Friday (later than planned, of course), headed southwest toward the Nevada/Utah border. Joel was driving Rita Jean, a semi-trusty ’86 Westfalia vanagon, with Brandon riding shotgun and Crystal and Hannah in the back. Van Morrison was also along for the ride.

240 miles later, we rolled into Wheeler Peak campground around 10pm, hungry but happy. We paid the fee and went to start up the van and snapped off the gear shaft right then and there. After 4 hours of climbing 10,000 ft, Rita Jean had had enough. We tinkered for an hour then finally pushed Rita to an open site and whipped up some 11pm campside tacos. We all agreed they were the best tacos we’d ever had.

The closest “big” town to Great Basin National Park is Ely, Nevada – 70 miles north of the park. Deny and Trudy from Ely showed up the next morning with a flat bed truck to haul Rita back to Ely for fixing over the weekend. Carless but prepared with a cooler full of bacon and bourbon, we got our day started.

We spent the next two days exploring Wheeler Peak. With a height of 13, 065 ft, the summit is covered with snow most of the year – an ideal climate for the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, an ancient pine species that’s been thriving for thousands of years (yes, thousands). These pines are truly mind blowing. Huge, car-sized trunks give way to twisty bark, looking like a lightning bolt that’s been carved from wood. It’s gnarled and split as sections of the tree die off and peel over the centuries. But these mangled trees are alive and kicking, sometimes with only a narrow strip of living tissue connecting the roots to a handful of branches. And those needles that are sprouting out? Those same needles live for an average of 45 years. The oldest tree in the Western Hemisphere is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, still going strong at 5,062 years old. Those are some deep roots.

Along with ancient pines, we’d always heard about Great Basin’s killer stargazing. They say “Half the Park is After Dark”, and now we know why. Low humidity, minimal light pollution and high elevation give Great Basin the edge when it comes to stargazing. Combine that with Earth’s location deep within the spiral arms of the Milky Way and you’ve got a primo view from the inside looking out. Thousands of stars, five of the eight planets, 88 summer constellations, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies – all with the naked eye. With binoculars we could easily see Saturn’s rings. Yes, Saturn.

On Monday morning Denny and Trudy picked us up and hauled us to Ely, Nevada. We reunited with a souped-up Rita Jean and hit the road back to Salt Lake City, taking the Northeast route via US-93. We took our sweet time, picnicking at a neat rest stop somewhere outside of Ely. Just across the Utah border, we took a detour off the I-80 to spend an hour cooling off at the Salt Spring Management Water Area , a marshland with natural salt springs and watering holes. Two hours and one roadside diner later, we made it back to SLC – full of memories and ready for our next first experience.

To plan your own trip to Great Basin National Park, visit www.nps.gov/grba

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Weekend Plan: Berry Picking

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As summer days give way to autumn nights, we’re squeezing in our favorite summer activities before it’s back to work and school. Lucky for us, it’s still berry picking season for the next few months. Blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries, huckleberries, thimbleberries… grab a bucket and fill it up with the sweet stuff. A good rule of thumb when picking wild berries is let it be if you don’t recognize the berry type. It’s not too late to plan a quick weekend getaway, so here are our favorite U-pick berry farms around the country:

Mountainview Blueberry Farm – Snohomish, WA
Mountainview lives up to its name: Nestled against a hillside in the Snohomish River Valley, on a clear day you’ll see all the way to Mt. Baker. This picturesque farm dates back to 1940 and grows 20 varietals of blueberries. Pop into the market for some killer preserves and syrups or get recipe ideas for your own sweet concoctions. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 8-5, $2/lb.

Santa Barbara Blueberries – Gaviota, CA
Located in the magnificent rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley just 35 miles northwest of our hometown, Santa Barbara Blueberries at Restoration Oaks Ranch is just as sweet to look at. Spend a few hours gathering blueberries, raspberries, watermelon and cantaloupe, then toss them into your picnic basket and head to nearby Gaviota Sate Beach for a seaside picnic. Open Monday – Thursday, 10-3; Friday – Sunday, 10-6, prices vary.

Lakeview Orchard – Lanesborough, MA
We’re partial to spectacular views, and Lakeview Orchard does not disappoint. Overlooking Hoosac Lake, good luck focusing on berry picking when you’ve got panoramic views of the surrounding valley and Berkshire Mountains. Cherry season is over, but raspberries, red currants and blackberries are in full swing (and maybe a few apple varietals too). If you’re not a sweet tooth, their homemade pierogi, ravioli and gnocchi are the best kept secret in the area. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9-4, prices vary.

Willow Oaks Berry Farm – Midland, VA
Blueberries, thornless blackberries and raspberries are in abundance at this postcard worthy Southern farm. Pack a lunch for the communal picnic green or stop off to get road trip snacks on your way to DC. Great for kids and dreamy for adults – just don’t forget the mosquito repellent. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 9-5; Sunday, 12-5, prices vary.

Dexter Blueberry Farm – Dexter, MI
The closest thing to picking wild berries, Dexter Blueberry Farms is not for the faint of heart. Keep your eye out for wild rabbits and turkeys while you stroll the blueberry lanes, sifting through wickets for the biggest, fattest, juiciest blueberries. An old-school cash-only enterprise, $2 will get you a bucket and all the blueberries you can harvest – just be prepared to work! Monday – Saturday, 8:30-7:30; Sunday 12-6, $2/lb.

Modern Travel: Ashland, OR

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What’s in a name? When it comes to Ashland, Oregon, a whole bunch of stuff: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, great regional wine, Lithia Park, a lively pub scene, Southern Oregon University and pungent (but stunning) mineral hot springs. Located in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountain Ranges, late summer is the perfect time to spend a weekend exploring the Rogue Valley and dining al fresco. For the oenophiles, spend your day sipping pinots in Oregon’s latest wine belt (we like Dana Campbell Winery for the great views of Ashland, or 20 minutes up I-5 Dancin Vineyards pairs nicely with homemade wood-fire pizza). If you’re looking for something more active, grab a cup of Joe from Noble Coffee and explore stunning Lithia Park. Designed by the same landscape architect who did Golden Gate Park, Lithia’s spectacular gardens switchback across Ashland Creek through the foothills and connect to plenty of hiking and biking trails. Grab an early dinner at one of Ashland’s local cafes (you really can’t go wrong – most places proudly serve farm-to-table menus), then catch a show at the Shakespeare Festival (February – October). If the Bard isn’t your cup of tea, fret not – the OSF features plenty of modern playwrights and world premiers. After the show, grab a nightcap at one of the many pubs along the creek. With great food, awesome trails and a varied nightlife, Ashland is just the place for a weekend escape to while away the mid-summer nights!

What To Do in Ashland

Grizzly Peak: Oregon is known for environmentally conscious locals, no sales tax, and some of the most stunning and varied landscapes in the US. We count Grizzly Peak among one of the best spots. With awesome panoramic views of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges, Grizzly Peak is nothing short of jaw-dropping. And the peak is just the beginning – take the loop trail that winds through the pine forests and you’ll start to see where one forest ends and another begins. Ecology at it’s finest!

Loft Brasserie: Terrace dining isn’t the exception in Ashland, it’s the norm. But Loft Brasserie is exceptional. With a menu that rotates daily, the Loft is French inspired food with a distinctly local twist. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Beef Tar Tar and Dungenese Crab Macaroni Gratin are beyond decadent, though the tried and true French Onion Soup and Lamb Shank are favorites for a reason. Ask your waitress which local wine pairs best or opt for a fresh cocktail (Mint Juleps and terraces mix well) – or have both since you’re on vacation.

OSF Elizabethan Theater: Sit amongst the plebeians or gaze upon the stage with fellow patricians, either way there’s not a bad seat in the house. Modeled after outdoor theaters like the famous Globe in Renaissance London, you can’t help but feel the majesty of live theater when you’re watching a production at the Allen Elizabethan Theater. Under the stars and sans mics or elaborate sets, you’re struck by just how compelling words, some written centuries ago, can still be so relevant. As long as you dress for the weather, you’ll be mesmerized by the reverie and feel much ado about nothing.

Standing Stone Brewing Co: To beer or not to beer? That is not a question – always beer. A great spot to sit on the patio and recap your day, Standing Stone Brewing Co has solidified its reputation as a classic Ashland hangout. The historic 1925 building definitely helps, but good ol’ fashioned on-site brewing and hearty local ingredients (3 cheers for Oregon Hops!) give this micro-brewery old-school street cred. The I ♥ Oregon Ale and Steel-Cut Stout pair nicely with the crisp valley air, and the kitchen is open until midnight in case you didn’t grab dinner before the show. We’ll take a late night pint and give a standing-O to this awesome brewpub.

What To Wear in Ashland

Smooth Crew: Don’t let the calendar fool you, these summer nights can get a wee bit chilly when you’re sandwiched between mountain ranges. The Smooth Crew is the perfect weekender staple. 100% organic cotton Butterknit fabric is unspeakably soft, wicks away moisture and resists wrinkles. Great on it’s own or a nice layer for crisp nights – all’s well that ends well.

Tamaya Tunic: Like a Shakespearean heroine, the Tamaya tunic is a classic beauty. Our eco–friendly Samba fabric charms in any hue and print and travels like a pro – it resists wrinkles, stays super soft and keeps it’s shape all day long. The split–V neckline shows off your come-hither collarbones while the back box pleat makes for an easy, swingy fit that pairs well with leggings or shorts. You’ll look simply divine.

Rosalinda Dress: When it comes to dresses, there’s no such thing as unconditional love. We want great fit, form and function – no caveats. With that in mind, we propose the Rosalinda Dress. She’s got a comfy, complementary shape, a stretchy Samba knit blend (Tencel®, organic cotton and spandex) and coffee–to–cocktails adaptability. We think you two will live happily ever after.

Mojac Overshirt: Devilishly handsome, we orchestrated our Mojac to look like a jacket but feel like a shirt. Richly colored flannel is fully lined with a buttery–shirt knit (both 100% organic cotton) making it perfect accomplice to an outdoor show. Oh, and we added chest pockets, chambray lining and a relaxed, shirttail hem so you’re always the perfect degree of “dressed up”– just as you like it.

Modern Travel: Jackson Hole

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If you like lumbering rivers, humbling mountain ranges and take your beer with a view, Jackson, Wyoming is the place for you. Commonly referred to as Jackson Hole, the town of Jackson lies in the valley (or “hole”) between the mighty Teton Mountain Range and the Snake River, just south of Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded by some seriously epic mountains, Jackson Hole has earned a reputation as a winter paradise, but don’t let the year-round glaciers fool you – Jackson Hole makes an ideal summer getaway. High altitude and steep mountain slopes keep the summer heat at bay. Pick up world-class trailheads in the town square, get your adrenaline rush on the Snake River rapids, spend a lazy afternoon floating around the bends and cap it off with a sky full of crystal clear stars. Dramatic landscapes, great local brew and old-timey cowboy culture. Saddle up, partner.

What To Do In Jackson

Cowboy Coffee Co: Get your day in Jackson started the way the cowboys do – with a strong cup of joe and some fresh mountain air. A local spot that’s just off Jackson Town Square, the folks at Cowboy Coffee roast their beans on site and take the art of espresso very seriously. You know those fun designs you find atop a latte? Well these guys have been known to draw bison, elk, lassos… Bring your own mug for $1 off your drink, then put it toward a perfectly gooey cinnamon roll. Sit outside and check the local happenings in the Jackson Hole Daily or take it to go and stroll through the Elk Antler Arches and get a good look at the old stagecoaches lined up on Broadway.

Grand Teton National Park: The main event in Jackson is staring right at you: Grand Teton National Park. Named by French trappers who missed their women, the Teton Mountain Range juts skyward to bare some of Mother Nature’s finest assets. 200 miles of trails snake around craggy cliffsides, sparkling glaciers, pristine lakes and historical homesteads. Start your trip at the Moose Visitor Center, the closest information center to Jackson (12 miles from town) to get the run down on the park’s history, trails and the best time to see grizzly bears or bison (typically dusk or sunrise). Taggart Lake and Death Canyon Trailheads are gorgeous hikes in the Moose District or bike along South Jenny Lake. Swim in Phelps Lake with stunning views of Death Canyon to the west, or take a dip in the shadow of Grand Teton at Taggart or Bradley Lakes. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and the lakes stay chilly all summer, so be sure to bring extra clothing and plenty of water for a day in the park. Park entrance fees are $30 per vehicle and passes are good for seven days.

The Bird: Is there anything better than breakfast? Yes, breakfast on a burger. Stuffed between two English muffins is a freshly made Wyoming beef patty topped with fried egg, bacon and all the fix-ins you could ever want after a long day in the mountains. And it’s not just the burgers, the back patio will knock your socks off, too. Killer panoramic views of the Snake River and Jackson Valley pair well with any of the local beers on tap (we cant get enough of Snake River Brewing). And this place stays open late, so spend an evening watching the rotating constellations or jammin’ with the locals. A free shuttle takes you to and from downtown Jackson – strap on your dancing boots and snag a ride out to The Bird on Saturday night.

Jackson Hole Rodeo: A true Jacksonian pastime, cowboys and cowgirls have been ropin’ and buckin’ at the Jackson Hole Rodeo every summer for the past 100 years – rain or shine. Grab some BBQ and brews and settle in. You can’t miss the bull riding (if you think the bulls are feisty, wait till you see the cowboys), and the girls barrel racing boasts the most fearless 10-year-olds west of the Mississippi. Rodeo runs at 8pm every Wednesday and Saturday nights through the summer, with a special Independence Day Rodeo on July 3rd & 4th. Tickets are $15 and we suggest getting some online before hand, just in case. BYO cowboy hat.

What to Wear in Jackson

Samba Wave Tank: Jackson is one of the only places you can wear your dusty boots to even the fanciest of restaurants. Our Samba Wave Tank just happens to look great with jeans, twirly skirts and cowgirl boots. Fluid, wave-like patterns gives texture without the intensity of a print and it’s made with our feel-great, eco-loving blend of organic cotton and Tencel®. Hello summer.

Swept Away Jacket: Warm days and cool nights are one of the best parts about a Jackson Hole summer. So throw the Swept Away Jacket in your bag – you’ll need it when it’s time to catch the fireworks. Casual, classic styling and intelligent pocket placement will reinforce your allegiance to the power of great design. And like the Tetons that kiss the Snake River, earthy linen mixes with mighty cotton in a beautiful twill weave that just gets better with time. 

Jack SS Polo: Here’s an old cowboy secret: Any shirt with a collar instantly makes you look like a cleaned up gentleman. And polos are just t-shirts with a collar. Get all the ease, comfort and style accolades by having a few of these butter-soft, organic cotton Jack Polos on hand. Vented hems and a hidden pocket within a pocket make this polo our jack-of-all-trades.

Coolant Shirt: When it’s hot on the trails and even hotter in town, you’ve got to keep your cool. For your quick relief, our Coolant Shirt earns its name from a special open-weave plaid that mixes yarn dyes and organic cotton for eco-friendly air-conditioning that’s cool to the touch (and the eye). Our Marlin and Picante patterns will keep you looking perfectly patriotic on the Fourth.

Modern Travel: Montreal

 

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Living up to its nickname as la metropole du Quebec, Montreal is Canada’s cool older sister – artistic, outdoorsy, modern and eccentric. Established in 1611 as a French trading post on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, Montreal is situated on an island, surrounded by more islands, with a mountain smack dab in the middle of it all. The unique geography of Montreal makes it an urban hiker’s paradise – full of winding alleyways, gorgeous river walks and an endless selection of patisseries. Do what the locals do and grab a snack on the go (Montreal bagels have long rivaled the infamous New York bagel), stroll the old industrial Lachine Canal and get your groove on at a random street festival (Montreal has hundreds of festivals every year, so you’re bound to stumble upon one). Explore the old Victorian epicenter in Vieux-Port, find oddities in Little Burgundy, traverse the paths of Mont-Royal, settle into a warm café au lait in Plateau Mont-Royal, then grab a cold one and practice your French in the taverns of Mile End. Wherever you end up in Montreal, you’ll surely feel a joie de vivre!

WHAT TO DO IN MONTREAL

Mont-Royal ParkEvery great city has a great park: London has Hyde Park, New York has Central Park, and Montreal has Mont-Royal (un-coincidently designed by the same man who did Central Park!). But unlike those other flat parks, Mont-Royal features eleven miles of pathways and staircases that twist up to a stunning observatory at the top. Pack your sneakers and walk your way from the heart of downtown to the summit or rent snowshoes, tobogons and ice skates at Lac Au Castor Pavillion along Beaver Lake. Regardless of weather, there is no shortage of activity or enthusiastic Montrealers in Mont-Royal Park, so plan to spend a few hours in the true heart of the city – it’s where you’re sure to experience Montreal the local way.

La BanquiseNo trip to Montreal is complete without getting a plate of piping hot poutine – the potatoey, cheesy, gravy-drenched unofficial (but sort of official) dish of Canada. Whether you’re new to poutine or straight up addicted, La Banquise is the place to start. Get La Classique (fries/gravy/cheese curds) or branch out and try one of the more adventurous variations. Go for the La T-Rex – a smorgasbord of meats – or opt for La Elvis, the unquestionable King of Poutine. Dense. Smoky. Delicious. Yum.

Marché Jean-TalonIf you like farmer’s markets, then Marche Jean-Talon is your Mecca. Although it’s one of the biggest public markets in North America, it’s approachable, local and still has a country market feel: Rows upon rows of vibrant produce beg to be photographed, friendly vendors offer samples or sightseeing tips, and the cheese displays are definitely something to write home about. Grab a smoked meat sandwich (4” thick – it’s a Montreal specialty), try a scoop of fresh hazelnut ice cream, hit the crepe stalls, shuck Atlantic oysters, or even try the taco stall in the center of the market (yes there are tacos, and yes they are delicious). And like any authentic farmers market, this one is cash only and one of the best deals in town.

Dieu Du CielDieu du Ciel represents everything that is awesome about Montreal: Quality (both the beer and the people), relaxed, down-to-earth and cheap! And just like it’s name implies, the beer is positively divine. One sip of their Peche Mortel and you’ll know why they named the joint “God of Heaven.” For the size of the microbrewery, they manage to produce a huge selection of international award winning beers: The hibiscus beer and, ironically, the American IPA are big crowd pleasers, though you really can’t go wrong with any of their seasonal ales. It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that DDC makes awesome beer, so space is limited and prepare to get cozy with your neighbors. But what Dieu Du Ciel doesn’t offer in floor space they make up for with a certain je ne sais quoi… or maybe it’s just good ol’ fashioned beer.

Parc-nature du-Bois-de-l’ile Bizard: It might be a mouthful to say, but Bois-de- I’ile Bizard Park is simply gorgeous. Located on an island just northwest of downtown Montreal, this large nature preserve is reminiscent of the great Canadian woods that grace old postcards and cookie tins. Snowshoe or cross country ski amongst the sugar maples, cedar groves and marshes. Stop on the footbridge over lac des Deux-Montagnes for some casual beaver and bird watching. Walk the miles of pathways and take in the tranquility– tres magnifique!

WHAT TO WEAR IN MONTREAL

Wisper Double TankWorn on its own or peeking out from under a sweater, the quiet elegance of the Wisper Double Tank lives up to its soft-spoken name. Two layers of silky, eco-friendly Tencel®, with a hint of forgiving spandex and bra-friendly straps, make this tank a travel must. With Wisper’s pretty draped neckline, you’ll be dressed-up enough for a dinner date even after hours traversing Mont-Royal.

Boarding Pass PantIt’s a full plane and you’ve got the middle seat between two lumberjacks – but somehow you’re still smiling. You can thank your pants for the breezy attitude. Our Boarding Pass Pant is made of Travel Twill: a soft, light and stretchy blend of cotton/poly/spandex that maintains its shape and character over the long haul. There’s a stealth zip pocket to stash your travel essentials and the fabric is water, oil and stain resistant to avert evidence of dining disasters (Poutine isn’t exactly the daintiest of foods…).

Allisa DressWith gas prices so low, why not take a spur-of-the-moment trip? Of course you’ll say yes when you’ve got the Allisa Dress. Tossing on this simple, functional dress is as easy as slipping into your favorite T-shirt, but gives you travel-worthy panache. Made from an uber-soft blend of organic cotton and poly, you’ll get plenty of coverage with the double-layer skirt and the stretchy waist can be worn high or low for maximum versatility (and minimalist packing). Toss on a pair of fun printed leggings, stash your passport in Allisa’s hidden pocket and get on your way.

Livingstone ShirtThis shirt is a mild-mannered button-front designed for wild-mannered adventures. Transition easily from one environment to the other – coffee, hike, bike, pub, grub, repeat. Made of Tencel® Sun, cotton and polyester, the lightweight fabric wicks moisture, traps sweat, dries fast and resists wrinkles nicely. A hidden zip sleeve on the chest pocket is perfect for stashing cash or passports, and just like Montreal locals, this shirt will maintain its composure and functionality all day long. Trés bon!