Spruce Lane Visits: Austin, Texas

Like most vacations, my recent trip to Austin, Texas left me feeling lifted and rejuvenated. It was exactly what I needed after a pretty grueling start to 2019. My boyfriend and I flew down to the Lone Star State for a quick weekend getaway - Friday through Monday - and stayed with his cousin slash my friend who ironically introduced us to one another a few years back. Needless to say, we all had a great time catching up and bouncing around the city together.

We jammed a lot into our short time in Texas, but by no means was it exhausting or overwhelming. It was the perfect balance of adventure, exploration, relaxation, indoor and outdoor fun. It is hard to pinpoint a favorite moment, so I’m sharing a few highlights below.


Visit

Lady Bird Lake

This gorgeous lake was situated across the street from my friend’s apartment building. On our last day, we grabbed coffee and went for a leisurely walk along the lake under a crystal blue sky, breezy palm trees and pleasant 70 degree weather. We spotted probably 20 sunbathing turtles along our walk which was not exactly the most exciting sight to see since they barely moved an inch, but hey seeing any kind of wildlife is always cool! I wish I could start every morning this way.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

On our first afternoon in Austin, we took a quick drive to Barton Creek Greenbelt. I guess I would call it a hiking experience? You’re not really going up in any kind of elevation but you’re in a woodsy setting that runs adjacent to Barton Creek, a waterway that has a beautiful light green/aquamarine hue to it (earning it its color-themed name). I could see how this place would be an awesome escape in the summer, as the trails were mostly shaded from tree coverage but there were also numerous swimming holes and waterfalls to check out. A real natural beauty this place is, and ironically it’s located pretty close to a major highway. You’d never know! Another added bonus is that you will see tons of adorable dogs and puppies on your adventure. That made our time there extra fun.

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Rainey Street

Rainey Street was our Sunday afternoon activity. I was excited to check it out because when I hear about Austin, I feel like Rainey Street is one of the first things people talk about. It definitely lived up to the hype and made me understand why so many bachelor/ette parties travel here. When you hear the term, “bar hop”, think Rainey Street because that’s exactly what goes on. It’s a strip of really fun bars, some with live music, some with interesting themes (visit the circus at Unbarlivable), and all with some sort of outdoor element that allows you to enjoy that Texas heat! We saw a live folk band perform at Craft Pride, went to Lustre Pearl a few times, and ended at Unbarlievable and Lucille. For visiting that many bars in one day, I surprisingly wasn’t too intoxicated and it was hopping for a Sunday in January! I was impressed. Oh yeah, and a bird pooped on my face. I guess that’s all part of the Rainey Street “experience”, right?

Eat

La Barbecue

La Barbecue is a super popular, authentic BBQ joint located in Austin’s East Side neighborhood. My boyfriend’s #1 request coming to Austin was to try Texas Barbecue, so we came here to see what all the talk was about. We attempted to go on Saturday afternoon and that was a mistake because there was an hour long line to place an order! I guess that’s how you know that La Barbecue is legit though. One of the employees told us to come back the next day at 10:30am to avoid the lines, so that’s what we did. BBQ for breakfast, I dubbed it. I definitely was off any kind of diet plan I was previously trying to maintain. The shop actually opens at 11am and not surprisingly, there was a decent line already formed when we got there (keeping in mind this is still before open). Damn, this stuff better be good, right? Well, it was, thank god. We got pulled pork, brisket, sausage, baked beans and pickles and it was all delicious. The brisket was our favorite and my boyfriend impulsively orderd a pound of it after sampling a taste test. So yeah, we gorged ourselves with brisket at 11am. It was fun even though our stomachs rumbled a bit later.

La Barbecue

La Barbecue

La Barbecue

La Barbecue

Emmer & Rye

Emmer & Rye was our finale meal on Sunday night after our long day on Rainey Street, and boy it did not disappoint. I booked a reservation here because the head chef supports the nonprofit that I work for at my full time job. It is an upscale farm to table restaurant that offers dim sum cart service, how cool? The dim sum carts carried various bite sized appetizers to add onto your meal. It was so fun to constantly be surprised with new rounds of exotic yet refined bites. We ordered dozens of things, but some I recall off the top of my head were the beef crudo, cabbage and trout roe, cacio e pepe, short rib, and hands down the best bread and butter I’ve ever had. They gave us a delicious sorbet dessert on the house too, making us feel super special at the end of our decadent meal. I couldn’t recommend this restaurant enough if you are visiting Austin or have a special occasion to celebrate.

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Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy’s was our b-plan after getting shut out at La Barbecue on Saturday afternoon, and I’m so glad it was because it was bomb. We had to wait in another line (what’s with the lines, Austin?!) which as we learned at LB, meant good food awaits. Torchy’s has a lot of locations throughout Texas and some in Denver, Arizona and Oklahoma too, where tacos mean business to locals. Between the three of us, we got brisket, carnitas, barbacoa and fried chicken tacos and a side of queso because, why not. We left satisfied, very satisfied, with our choices at Torchy’s.  

Shop

Parts and Labour

Between our many delicious meals, we perused different parts of town to check out Austin’s very impressive boutique scene - obviously, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. First up was Parts and Labour, a boutique that specializes in supporting Texas-based artists. Umm, can I say how much I love that?! I went kind of crazy in there and bought two shirts, a cactus koozie and a cactus magnet for my house. I’m a sucker for anything with a succulent on it and this store had a lot of that so I went a little overboard. Not sorry though. The vibe there was very artsy, hipster, yogi, boho; all things that are 100% up my alley.

Parts and Labour

Parts and Labour

EA/ST Co.

I have trouble even describing East Co. because it is so beautiful and you really just need to see it for yourself. If you are into Vestige or Moon and Arrow here in Philadelphia, then you will have similar feelings of admiration about East Co. The shop is literally a work of art in itself the way it is perfectly merchandised. It features beautiful handmade pottery, textiles, plants, locally made prints, jewelry, books and more that all compliment one another so well. I bought a piece of pottery that now makes me smile every time I see it because it makes me think of this amazing store. The owner said she finds a lot of the artists that she features in her store through Instagram, which I thought was cool. If you like to shop in boutiques and are visiting Austin, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE! (Yes, all caps were necessary there). It’s located in the East Side hood, hence its name.

EA/ST Co.

EA/ST Co.

Allen’s Boots

Allen’s Boots is pretty iconic and really screams “TEXAS” as soon as you walk in. You will smell an intense aroma of leather because the massive store is filled head to toe with leather goods including cowboy hats, belts, and some of the craziest boots you will ever see. I saw a pair of croc ones that were on sale for $3K. That’s right, on SALE at that price! They do not mess around in there. Now that I’m reflecting on Allen’s, I kind of wish I got myself a hat. Sigh, maybe next time.

Lucchese at Allen’s Boots

Lucchese at Allen’s Boots

East Side / Congress Street

I don’t have a ton to elaborate on here but to sum up, these were my two favorite neighborhoods for shopping. East Side kind of reminds me of the Brooklyn of Austin, a little hipster-ish, young, artsy, creative and up and coming. Congress Street feels a little more traveled, maybe equivalent to New York’s Soho neighborhood? Everyone already knows the good shops are on Congress Street. It’s not to be missed. I only got a small taste of both neighborhoods too and I am positive that there is so much more to explore. When I got home, I did some research on Instagram and started following a bunch of shops in these areas and all I can say is wow, Austin’s boutique scene is pretty dope.

East Side - right outside of Spitfire Girl, another awesome shop!

East Side - right outside of Spitfire Girl, another awesome shop!


On the last day of our trip, the inevitable panic of going back to my routine life started to sink in so I asked my friend, “What made you move to Austin again in the first place? I can’t remember.” She has been living there for a little over 2 years now and seems utterly happy, so I wanted to know what her process was like. Her response: “I was unhappy when I was previously living in New York. I had traveled to Austin before and loved it, and I’m a pretty adventurous person so I just went for it. I found my first job fairly easily, took a leap of faith and here I am now”. Wow, that really struck a chord with me. My transition from New York City back to Philadelphia hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. I’ve had many moments of doubt leaving my career in fashion in Manhattan, along with the glitz and glamour of living in one of the biggest cities in the world. Life in Philadelphia is most certainly more well rounded and I am so happy to be with my boyfriend and closer to my family, but I definitely don’t have it all figured out yet. To be candid, I have been thinking about making some big life changes for quite some time now but have been paralyzed due to the fear of failure and the unknown. I’m not ready to share what those changes are because I’m still trying to map them out myself, but what I can say is that this brief trip to Austin taught me that sometimes taking risks do pay off and maybe it’s time for me to take a similar leap of faith that my friend did.

Isn’t it funny how traveling does this to you? The thrill of discovering a new place is so amazing but comes to an abrupt halt as soon as you set foot onto the plane back home. And then you’re back to where you started and reflect on your current situation. Instead of sulking about vacation being over (which I kind of am since the weather isn’t going to break 20 degrees for a few days), I have decided that I am going to try and ride off of this travel-momentum and implement some positive changes into my day to day. No, I’m not going to pick up and move across the country tomorrow. But yes, I am going to put time and energy into my dreams and aspirations. It’s worth it and I am confident things will work out one way or another!

On that note, until next time, Austin! Stay weird.

Spruce Lane Visits: Clover Market

Clover Market
Neighborhood: Rotates between Chestnut Hill, Bryn Mawr, Collingswood, and Kennett Square. I visited the Bryn Mawr event. 
Vibe: Open air flea market, family friendly, shopping small/local
Good For: Vintage finds, furniture, jewelry, art, decor, collectibles, a neighborhood activity for the family

Charming antique display

Charming antique display

If you are a vintage lover, in need of some home improvement, or simply appreciate a good local flea market, COME TO CLOVER MARKET! I ran over to the Bryn Mawr edition of this traveling flea market on Sunday and loved every second of my time there. Clover Market is basically a haven for Spruce Lane because everything is locally made by small businesses. It travels seasonally in the spring and fall in Bryn Mawr, Chestnut Hill, and Kennett Square PA as well as in in Collingswood NJ. There were some familiar faces there that I was thrilled to see (shout out to Zoet Bathlatier, Fresh Vintage, and Voloshin!) but also round up of newly discovered vendors that are on my list of "ones to watch". I'll explain a bit more about the overall experience and then dive into some of my favorite shops. 

Voloshin's Spring Collection

Voloshin's Spring Collection

According to Clover Market's website, they showcase 100+ vendors at each event, in addition to numerous food trucks and live music. The portfolio was diverse, featuring antique purveyors, ceramics and pottery, sports collectibles, handmade apparel and linens (pillows, towels, napkins, etc.), garden and succulent shops, tons of jewelry and more! Clover Market was founded in 2010 and it was named after the notion of "lucky finds for the home". This slogan couldn't be more accurate! To add to the fun, there were countless adorable dogs roaming the grounds. The cutest had to either be a pudgy brown french bulldog or a perfectly groomed golden retriever puppy. 

Locally made jewelry

Locally made jewelry

In terms of the shopping scene, some of my favorite new finds were Bucks County Flowers + Things, Untold Imprint, Shutters and Sand, Navona Handmade, and Mission Salvage.

Bucks County Flowers And Things: If you have been following my Instagram lately, you might have noticed that I am doing some home redesign and am on a major succulent kick. Bucks County Flowers + Things blew me away with their succulent displays. The planters were immaculate! The materials ranged from reclaimed wood to glass, ceramics, and metallics. Everything was super clean and well done, and I would buy every variation they had if I could! I ended up getting a small gold piece with a jade plant to compliment some new brass end tables that are going in my bedroom. 

Tons of planters for sale at Bucks County Flowers + Things

Tons of planters for sale at Bucks County Flowers + Things

Untold Imprint: Untold Imprint is a small batch textile business based here in Pennsylvania. I found myself gravitating to their tent at least five times because I loved the natural, bohemian feel that all of their pieces had. If their pillow cases came in a grey color scheme I would have bought three. They sold hand-dyed towels, tank tops, and these adorable dream catcher-like items that could serve either as wall art or a mobile for a nursery, depending on how you hung it. I didn't get anything from them at this market, but I loved their style and am sure I'll snag something from them in the future. 

The colorful setup at Untold Imprint

The colorful setup at Untold Imprint

Shutters and Sand: There was a sea of vintage and antique vendors at Clover Market, but Shutters and Sand brought things to a new and higher level. Everything they featured was of pristine quality and exuded elegance and sophistication. I wasn't in the market for a large piece of furniture, but if I needed an armoire or Parisian-inspired vanity, this would be my first stop. My mom actually ended up buying a small, golden candle stand that was incredibly ornate (complete with beveled mirrors) for a mere $15! She's actually in the background of this photo checking out (ha!) What a score. 

Vintage scores at Shutter and Sand

Vintage scores at Shutter and Sand

Navona Handmade: This shop was beautiful and one of the later stops on my Clover Journey. I bought an exquisite ceramic piece from them that I plan to display on a wooden floating shelf in my kitchen. It had soft hues of grey, blue, and pink that will mix perfectly with my color scheme. I wish I could have splurged more here because they had an impressive assortment of handmade pottery (catch-all dishes, mugs, plates, glasses, jars), textiles, and pillows that all were incredibly chic and had my favorite "bohemian" feel to them. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on their online shop while my bank account recovers from all of this decor shopping. The best part of all is that they also take bespoke order requests if you want something even more unique. *I wasn't able to snap my own photos from Navona's stand, but below are images from their Instagram to give you a feel for their aesthetic!

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Mission Salvage: This place was really cool and eclectic. They had a number of knick knacks, but in particular I liked these cute tin, industrial looking succulent planters (again, these are my shopping kryptonite lately!) and this super unique chandelier made of reclaimed metal, fabrics and wine bottle corks. I've never seen anything like it and am sure it is gorgeous when lit up. Mission Salvage reclaims, recycles and re-loves pieces of American History. Good stuff. 

One-of-a-kind chandelier from Mission Salvage

One-of-a-kind chandelier from Mission Salvage

Overall, perusing the tents of Clover Market was a ton of fun and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Aside from the fantastic assortment of vendors and shopping, it felt great to get out and support the local community. As mentioned, Clover rotates seasonally in the spring and fall. The next stop is in Kennett Square on Sunday, June 10! Mark your calendars by following Clover Market's schedule here! To stay up to date on all things Clover, follow them on Instagram too!

Vintage Burberry, Longchamp, Gucci

Vintage Burberry, Longchamp, Gucci

Remember to shop local and thanks for reading, all!
SL

European-inspired antique pieces

European-inspired antique pieces

Spruce Lane Visits: The Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation
Neighborhood: Logan Square, Philadelphia
Vibe: Artsy, refined, minimalistic, classic, cultured
Good for: art enthusiasts, educational trips, rainy day activities, history buffs

You know the age old saying, "April showers bring May flowers"? In my case, April showers brought me to The Barnes Foundation to check out their gorgeous fine art collection, that includes a number of floral pieces to swoon over. 

The Barnes Foundation is located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway near Logan Square in Philadelphia. I had always heard great things from friends about this collection, but never had a chance to visit myself over the years! So, when I earned a comp day off of work that happened to fall on a rainy afternoon, I took it upon myself to book a solo trip to The Barnes Foundation to see what all the chatter was about. 

To give you some background on the Foundation, it was founded in 1902 by Philadelphian, Albert C. Barnes, with the mission of promoting the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture. The Foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including over 900 paintings, estimated to be worth approx. $25 billion*. Notable featured artists include Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

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I'm no art history buff, so going into my visit I didn't really know what to expect or the deeper history or meaning behind the art, but upon arriving I immediately felt a sense of enrichment from being surrounded by such inspiring works of art. It felt really nice to go somewhere educational on my own, and appreciate the history as well as the sheer creativity that these iconic artists possessed. 

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne

Outside of the fantastic art collection, The Barnes' space is quite impressive too, boasting sky-high ceilings and a minimalist, open-floor layout. It was an interesting juxtaposition of modern architecture with fine art that I really enjoyed. The weather was gloomy and all I wanted after my stroll through the museum was to sit back and relax with hot cup of coffee in hand. Sounds like a pretty nice afternoon, right? 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

If you are local to Philadelphia, The Barnes Foundation is most likely no surprise to you, but if you reside in the suburbs or elsewhere, I highly recommend making a visit to this esteemed museum. The collection actually was originally located in Merion, PA but as of 2012, it moved up to Philadelphia in its new, expansive space. The artwork spans across seven rooms, so despite the large interior, the collection itself has an intimate feel, which is nice. I am going to share some of my favorite pieces below. Again, I don't have much expertise in art history, so these are ones that just stuck out to me visually! If only I could have one of these in my home!

So, next time you're like me and find yourself looking for something to do on a rainy afternoon, visit The Barnes Foundation and get cultured!

Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

*Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes_Foundation

Spruce Lane Visits: Wax + Wine

Wax + Wine
Neighborhood: Washington Square West, Philadelphia
Vibe: Elegant, creative, welcoming
Good for: Candle making, DIY lovers, parties, team bonding activities, hanging out

Calling all DIY-lovers and candle enthusiasts! I am excited to introduce you to Wax + Wine, a new candle making studio and BYOB located in Philadelphia’s Washington Square West neighborhood that is perfect for special events, team building experiences, or simply just hanging out with friends. Wax + Wine’s motto is to “lighten up life”, which is very brightly displayed through the neon sign hanging above its candle bar. The reasoning behind lighten up life is not only a play off of the act of burning a candle, but also evokes the deeper meaning of Wax + Wine being a place where you can kick back, relax and have fun.

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The ambiance of the studio feels uber chic and almost restaurant-like, with a bar and tables not for eating but instead for candle making, and maybe a drink if you opt for bringing your own booze. The process of creating a candle at Wax + Wine is very personalized and also very efficient and easy to understand, which is great for a candle making novice like myself. You begin by visiting the “scent cellar” which beautifully displays over 75 different scents that are broken into categories like fruity, earthy, or floral. You can smell as many scents as you’d like before selecting your two scent options per candle. Next, you choose from Wax + Wine’s assortment of vessels for your candle, some are sleek and simple while others are more ornate and decorative. Once you’ve made all of your choices, you stroll to the candle bar where the Wax + Wine staff can show you how to expertly mix your scented oils and pour the wax to make the perfect creation. The building process takes about 30-45 minutes, while the cooling process takes a bit longer (around 2 hours). You have the option to peruse the beautiful surrounding Wash Square West neighborhood, or come back within 30 days to pick up your candle(s). Pricing is based on how many candles you make and how long you reserve seating for and ranges from $30-50. A discount on retail items also comes with the different tiered prices. 

Speaking of retail, if candle making is not for you and you prefer to buy your candles already assembled, you also have the option to shop from Wax + Wine’s pre-made assortments as well as their higher end candles and accessories that are beautifully displayed throughout the boutique. 

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Like many of my Spruce Lane finds, I learned of Wax + Wine through Instagram. I thought the concept was really interesting and was lucky enough to attend the soft opening press party where I heard father and son founders, Jordan and Alan Beletz’s inspiring story. The Beletz’s are originally from the Philadelphia area, however Jordan had been living in Los Angeles selling power tools prior to launching Wax + Wine. He had always wanted to run his own business and took note of how the DIY x BYOB model was taking off in LA, through the likes of Painting With A Twist and other similar businesses. Candle making however, seemed like an untapped treasure for the Philadelphia market. Within a few months, he took the leap of faith and left his job to move back to Philadelphia to begin his new venture with his father. His father, Alan, simultaneously was ready to start a new project and enter a new phase in his career by partnering with his son. Hearing them tell this story in person, I could feel the energy and passion they have for this creation and felt very inspired! Even starting Spruce Lane felt like somewhat of a leap for me, as it is completely my own and the success of it hinges solely on my efforts. It’s not easy to jump into the unknown of starting a new business, so I applaud Jordan and his father for fearlessly doing so and putting so much dedication into it.

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As I was wrapping up my shoot, a young woman and her parents walked into the store. She coyly asked, “I live around here and just wanted to know what Wax + Wine is and how it works?”. Jordan and his staff warmly welcomed her and began to explain their process. I knew that was my cue to leave, so I walked out feeling happy for them as they continue to grow their business.

New ideas in the pipeline for Wax + Wine include collaborations for special events and programs with other local businesses such as wineries and yoga studios. For all store info and event updates, follow them on Instagram, at @waxnwine.

Shine bright like a candle!

Spruce Lane Visits: Skytop Lodge

Skytop Lodge
Neighborhood: Pocono Mountains
Vibe: Ski Lodge, Historical, Victorian, Old Fashioned Charm, Family-Friendly, Luxurious
Good for: Indoor & Outdoor Activities, Ski Trips, Hiking, Spa Retreats, Nature + Wildlife Sights

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This past weekend I took a girls trip up to Skytop Lodge for my sister's 30th birthday. She is actually half way through her first pregnancy, so we weren't exactly going to hit the slopes and bars, but more so for a weekend of spa treatments and relaxation. With that being said, we were pleasantly surprised with the incredible amount of fun activities Skytop had to offer outside of the standard ski/snowboard packages seen at many Pocono Mountain resorts. 

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Our family had visited Skytop once before many (over 10+) years ago, so this trip had a nice element of nostalgia to it. Parts felt familiar and other parts were completely new to us, like experiencing the "Grand March" tradition Saturday night! There's a lot to cover about this place since there is so much to do and see, so I'll try to be succinct in my recap by covering the main categories of accommodations, activities, and dining.  

Accommodations: We stayed in the Lodge where many of the activities took place and the main restaurants/buffets are housed. The rooms we had weren't the most spacious, but they felt very homey thanks to the old-fashioned decor and charm. The beds were king-sized and incredibly comfortable, and the bathroom also did not disappoint. It had two sinks which made sharing with my sister nice and easy (we all know how that can get, growing up with siblings). The room had a coffee maker, ample closet space, a smart TV, and we were lucky enough to have a great view overlooking the lake. Skytop actually has two other areas to stay in aside from the lodge that are better for larger groups or families. These include the Inn which is a short trolley ride away nestled against a golf course, as well as individualized Cottages for the ultimate luxurious and private experience. When we came as a family many years ago, we stayed at the Inn. 

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Activities: Where do I begin? I guess I should lead with the premise that if you have kids, this is a great place to visit. We were almost overwhelmed (not in a bad way) by the number of families, both big and small, we encountered during our trip. It was nice to observe and day dream about how we could come back next year with my future niece. Friday night, we had dinner in the Lodge and then played trivia in the Library Lounge which was a lot of fun. The questions were pretty tough, but luckily it was a friendly competition and we all got free milkshake vouchers to be used at the Tea Room out of it! Saturday, my mom and I took a 9:30am Yoga class and it was awesome. Everything was free and the class was pretty challenging! We got a great workout and it was a nice, therapeutic way to start our day. We then took a beautiful walk around the lake adjacent to the Lodge. It was frozen over, but starting to melt with the warm temperatures which was a cool sight. We also loved looking at the gorgeous lake homes (or should I say mansions) that dotted the perimeter of our trail. Following the walk, we prepared for our spa treatments by getting changed into comfy robes and slippers, and sipped on some complimentary hot teas. Talk about leisure! I got a Swedish massage, my sister got a pre-natal massage, and my mom treated herself to a facial. One hour later, and we all felt amazing.

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After that we continued to rest until dinner and dancing in the evening. Dancing was such a spectacle, mainly because the little kids owned the floor and busted their silly moves without an ounce of fear. It was one of the most entertaining and heartwarming things to watch. Also, Skytop featured a really great 5-piece live band and a glittering disco ball to set the mood. We were impressed with the band's level of talent! The evening capped off with a dance-elimination game (again, led by many of the children) followed by their traditional "Grand March" activity, where guests linked arm-in-arm marched throughout the resort grounds, both indoor and outdoor. Overall, it was a weekend of luxury, relaxation, and fun, all really without a drop of alcohol. Which says a lot in today's day and age! We barely scratched the surface of things to do though, as there were tons of other arts and crafts, fitness activities, and games to partake in throughout the weekend. Oh and the downstairs level of the Lodge has a full tricked out game room for kids, a wildlife section with snakes/turtles, a gift shop, and a taproom incase the rest of what I described wasn't enough! 

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Dining: Another really amazing feature Skytop has to offer is the many culinary options you have to choose from during your stay. We had a bed and breakfast package, so each morning we were treated to a full FREE (yep, I said free) breakfast buffet. And this buffet was no joke, it was loaded with delicious treats; pancakes, an omelette station, bacon, sausage, fruits, parfaits, waffles, pastries, smoothies, it ALL was there! I don't think I ever could get tired of that buffet, and the fact that it was free made it that much sweeter. Additionally, the resort offered even more complimentary benefits aside from breakfast. In the morning, you could treat yourself to free tea, coffee, fruit, and donuts before you made your way to the dining hall. In the afternoon around 4pm, there is a complimentary tea and cookie hour, and let me say that the cookies were very legit. For lunch on Saturday, we tried the taproom downstairs which also was pretty good. We shared a salad, flatbread pizza, and tacos and everything was tasty and well portioned. For dinner, our first night we ate at the Lodge and the second night at the Inn. Both evenings we were really impressed with the quality of the food. I had short rib first and prosciutto-wrapped cod next and was pleased with both meals. We pondered, if you were to host a wedding here the food would be good and that's pretty key when looking for a venue. Between all of the complimentary touches and solid dining options across the board, the overall experience was excellent. 

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Sunday meant time to go home, and we were all very sad about it because we absolutely loved our stay at Skytop! To be honest, we aren't a huge skiing family so the fact that we found a place in the Poconos that we could go to and enjoy the outdoors, while still having so much to do aside from hitting the slopes is truly perfect for us. The two hour drive from Philly is very smooth and well worth it when visiting such a fun-filled, luxurious resort. Hopefully my experience will inspire you to book a trip to this very nice place in the Poconos. We will definitely be making Skytop an annual winter destination for our family. 

On that note, stay warm, Philly!

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Spruce Lane Visits: The Miracle on South 13th Street

The Miracle on South 13th Street
Neighborhood: South Philadelphia - East Passyunk
Vibe: Holiday cheer, bright lights, winter wonderland, neighborhood fun
Good for: Family activity, sight-seeing, picture taking, walking tour

Looking for a free, family-friendly holiday activity in Philadelphia? Take a leisurely stroll down The Miracle on South 13th Street's light display for some of the best neighborhood decorations the city has to offer! 

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My boyfriend and I made a quick pitstop here on our way out to dinner this past Friday and had a blast admiring the vibrant displays that ranged from beautiful twinkling lights, to high-tech projections of Santa waving to you through the windows! The 1600 block on South 13th Street will remain lit up from roof to roof until 1/1/18, so it's not too late to go check it out! 

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Following your stroll, feel free to also peruse the many unique shops of Passyunk Square. We popped into Urban Jungle and loved the fun "love" ornament display hanging from the ceiling. Urban Jungle is an awesome plant shop complete with gardening tools, gifts, and all things outdoors. If you or someone in your family has a green thumb, take a look inside this place or even register for one of their many gardening events/workshops! Follow them on instagram too, at @urbanjunglephilly

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Keep on shopping!

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