Getaway to McKinney, Texas : Where to Stay, Play, & Dine

My annual birthday celebrations never arrive quietly or without including a good deal of planning and travel. I believe birthdays should always include a person’s favorite things and people and as you may already know, exploring new places is one of my most favorite things. For this birthday weekend celebration, I partnered with Visit McKinney and Texas Travel Talk to bring you a weekend itinerary full inspiration and a weekend you can easily replicate for a visit of your own.

Where to Stay in McKinney, Texas

Mckinney Bed and Breakfast

McKinney Bed and BreakfastWhen planning a weekend getaway in a new city, it’s easy to default to the most familiar hotel chain. Let me encourage you to HIGHLY consider a bed and breakfast when visiting McKinney, Texas. If you are shocked to hear this recommendation coming from me, I’m honestly a little surprised myself. It is no secret that I enjoy luxury accommodations. For my first stay in bed and breakfast ever, the accommodations at McKinney Bed and Breakfast were top notch. It’s not a hotel and it’s not a home but for a Mckinney getaway, it is better than both. I would be so happy to stay here with the hosts Vicki and Wayne Hill anytime. They took such good care of us with coffee and gourmet biscotti delivered right outside our door. Breakfast was several delightful courses. I had no idea how lovely a bed and breakfast stay could be. I look forward to coming back for another visit with them soon.

McKinney Bed and Breakfast room

McKinney Bed and Breakfast meal

Where to Eat in McKinney, Texas

As if breakfast at Mckinney Bed and Breakfast wasn’t enough there are plenty of places to tempt your taste buds. There are plenty of options to satisfy your inner foodie in Mckinney. Here are a few of our favorite recommendations from the weekend.

  • SugarBacon Proper Kitchen – Seasonal approach to American cuisine
  • Cadillac Pizza Pub – Pizza, Music, Beer
  • Hugs Cafe – Non-Profit employing adults with special needs
  • Patina Green Home and Market – Daily lunches served in an edgy antique shop
  • Paciugo Gelato Cafe – Italian ice cream and coffee
  • The Yard- McKinney’s backyard hangout with great food, cold drinks, games, and awesome vibes
  • Harvest Seasonal Kitchen-Farm to Table Restaurant
  • Frios Gourmet Pops- Fresh, Frozen, Gourmet Popsicles

What to Do in Mckinney, Texas

Beyond food and relaxation, there is a ton to keep you busy from morning to night on your visit.

Shopping on the Square

While I’m not typically a hardcore shopper when traveling, I was completely taken with the shops surrounding the Downtown Mckinney Historic Square. These are not your aunties boutiques and stereotypical antique shops. The shop owners here are in tune with today’s customers and have curated interesting and original selections of goods that cannot be found elsewhere. I was also happy to find that the personalities of the owners and staff were just as original as the goods they market. Every great travel experience is about the people and the people I met inside the shops of McKinney Texas will have me driving back to shop again and again.

Get Ready to Laugh

One unique entertainment offering in Mckinney is The Comedy Arena. If you are up for a night of laughs, you might want to give this a try for date night. The Comedy Arena is in downtown McKinney, TX just a little off the Square at 305 E. Virginia and is one of the few options that is supplying comedic entertainment every weekend of the year. There is a family-friendly show in the early evening and a more adult show just following later in the evening.

Enjoy Live Music

If you enjoy live music and visit on a weekend, you will be hard pressed not to find live music playing somewhere on McKinney’s downtown square. Almost every shop and restaurant has commissioned a musical act to perform. It’s clear that art and culture are valued by residents and visitors alike.

Unique Ideas and Insider Tips We Love about McKinney Texas

McKinney Farmers Market

Food Walks Of Texas Tours Food Walks of Texas offers guided, walking food tours of historic downtown McKinney. Perfect for visitors or locals, you’ll learn about our city’s fascinating history while enjoying its best eats. In addition to delicious food tastings, you’ll learn interesting tidbits about the backgrounds and inspiration of the chefs/owners behind the eateries, as well as plenty of historical, cultural, and architectural information relevant to the historic downtown McKinney Square.

Mckinney Door on the Square

Look for the tiny door on the Downtown Square This tiny door is one of my favorite insider secrets on the Downtown Mckinney Square! If you keep your eyes open on one of the corners you’ll see a small door with stained glass just at the height of your shoes. An artist installed this artwork to remind those who were looking that there is always something to see if we’ll just pay attention. Let me know if you find this door when you walk the square here okay?

Get a UNIQUE picture taken The UNIQUE letters are currently located in Mitchell Park and make a perfect photo to commemorate your visit. The City of McKinney launched the #IAMUNIQUEBYNATURE campaign to define the city’s image for our residents, businesses, and visitors. It speaks to the inherent uniqueness and embodies the spirit of community in Mckinney, Texas.

Learn How to Bake French Macarons Learn to bake French macarons like a pro in one of Savor’s hands-on baking classes. Each person takes home a gift box of macarons and tote bag from the class.

There is so much more to explore I HIGHLY encourage you to bring a friend or your family and come to find your favorite spots in McKinney, Texas. Be sure to come back and tell me what you loved most, won’t you?

Become Part of the Art at Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles

Museum of Illusions Bubble BlowingI’m in Los Angeles this week for a pretty impressive global lifestyle event but it would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t share about my fun, albeit VERY impromptu visit to the Museum of Illusions last night. After dinner a couple of ladies on the trip with me extended an invite. I was feeling a bit sleepy but knowing it was near the hotel we are staying at and I am typically ALWAYS up for an adventure I decided to risk it. OMG! I am so glad I did. In just a few pictures you will see why the Museum of Illusions is such a great time. If you decide to go I highly recommend organizing a group to join you.

Museum of Illusions falling building

A visitor to the Museum of Illusions is not a passive observer but a full-fledged participant of the paintings created by the best artists. This is a place where photography is not just encouraged – it is part and parcel of the exhibition. The museum of optical illusions is intended to fill visitors’ photo albums with vivid and unusual photographs. Everyone finds something to their liking here because we tried to cover every topic of interest for the humankind. The Museum of optical illusions opens its doors for the viewers of all ages, without restrictions, and guarantees – no one will feel bored!

Museum of Illusions Space Room

Museum of Illusions Hamburger

Ready to plan your visit to the Museum of Illusions ?

Museum of Illusions front desk

Here’s what to know before you go: 

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 depending on availability. Get your tickets HERE.

FREE admission for children 5 years old and younger. Strollers permitted. $10 for Children’s tickets (6-12 years old)

No food, drinks, dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, or aliens allowed.

$20 Parking: 1724 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

30+ artworks.

Expect to spend an hour at the museum.

Photography permitted.

VIP tickets include parking, bypassing the line/individualized schedule, personal photo shooting & a special gift.

Museum is open 10AM – 12AM daily. Last Entry 11PM.

A Little Bit of Kindness Can Go A Long Way in a Kia Niro PHEV

They say little bit of kindness can go a long way.  As it turns out if you are driving a 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) you can go even further on less. Right before we shut things down for the holidays Kia Motors America invited Jillian from Hello Splendid and I to take a “Choose Your Own Adventure” road trip from L.A. to San Francisco and we had the most amazing time spreading kindness all over California together.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

As exciting as this adventurous opportunity was on its own, this would also be a very meaningful trip for the two of us to take together. Just 39 weeks prior Jillian received some very life changing news.  Before this, we had been talking about “one day soon” taking a road trip together. I’ll tell you that I leave a lot less for “one day soon” now. Our plans for the trip and so many more things would be put on hold as all concentration had to be forth to fight this new diagnosis in the months following. It felt like the world was simultaneously spinning and standing still for everyone. When we talked 36 weeks ago, it was decided as soon as it was possible we would ABSOLUTELY be taking that road trip we had talked about. It was a promise of something to hold on to, something to hope for. So much happened in the weeks that followed but on December 13 we finally were able to set out on that road trip together.

Day Made. (Ps I love you @hellosplendidblog )#thenewkia

A post shared by Lifestyle Blogger ?Alice Chase (@alicechase) on

As it is with a choose your own adventure type trip we got to choose the adventure!! We had a starting time/location, a generous budget at our disposal and an ending time/location- that was it! There were a few other teams traversing the roads with us and given the same parameters. A list of bonus points would be granted and tallied once we reached the predetermined destination. Before we arrived, Jillian and I had talked about how we would structure this adventure. One of the biggest themes we wanted to incorporate was kindness. Kindness is something we both feel strongly about making time for no matter the day or agenda. Countless times we have both given and received kindness in different forms the last year and it was the best way we could imagine to theme our trip.

kindness kit Collage

As we prepped for the trip, Jillian shopped for supplies to include in our “kindness kits” and I started planning our route. Trip planning and finding unique destinations is one of my favorite things to do. I especially enjoy catering each trip to the interests and likes of those taking it. Jillian let me keep the itineraries a secret until literally the moment we were on the road. I love surprises but I’d totally be lying if I said I didn’t have butterflies in my tummy wondering if she would like what I had chosen.

After a brief product presentation and run down on the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, charging stations, and lunch, we had a fantastic send of from Charles Phoenix a master of road trip Americana! His energy totally set the stage for road trip excitement! We didn’t have to worry about where we would be recharging on the road as there were plenty of level 1 and 2 charging stations in between our starting point and end destination. Whether you’re at home or on the road, rest assured you’ll find a power source anywhere you can plug into the electric grid. And with Kia’s UVO eco App, you can schedule charge times at home and find public charging stations.

But first…. Target! We needed a few more supplies for a very important stop that would come later. On our way in and out of the store we made it a mission to return all the stray carts in the parking lot. It’s such a simple thing to do and costs nothing. It made at least one employee’s job easier that day and the organized side of my heart was fulfilled. Kindness mission #1 : CHECK!

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid roadtrip Target

It was time to get on the road before we hit too much of L.A. traffic. Even with the best of planning, we definitely saw our fair share of traffic but we had plenty of great conversation and music to keep us going. Every road trip needs its soundtrack and  the Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System delivered crisp sound for all our playlist favorites. The Clari-Fi™ technology restores compressed tracks for noticeable clarity. The music wasn’t fading but after a few hours on the road we were . We made one stop for coffee and hustled towards our evening resting stop. We drove over mountains and watched the sun set. When it became dark we could smell the smoke from the California fires inside the Niro. Our conversations became more serious as we thought about those who had lost so much. We traveled a bit further the smell of smoke dissipated as we entered the Danish streets of Solvang, California, a location that has since become one of my favorite locations in the U.S.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

We were in love with the town right away. We arrived to our hotel, The Landsby, about 7PM. The hotel staff was lovely and made a ton of recommendations for places to eat and visit during our stay. They were kind and welcomed us genuinely. We took our things to the room and were in love with every detail, from the llama artwork on the walls to the tiny lavender sachets reading “good night” placed on each of our beds. We were so enamored with every detail here. I promise to do a full post just on the Landsby itself soon.

The Landsby hotel Solvang CA

One challenge we had arriving to Solvang later in the evening was that the town begins to close down around 8-9 pm. This left us with just a few options for dining but those that were open were welcoming and warm. We walked to dinner at a location nearby our hotel thinking we might enjoy a little stroll after. When we stepped out after dinner the temperature had dropped dramatically. Instead of walking, we hopped back into our Kia Niro PHEV and toured this adorable storybook city listening to Christmas music just in awe and grateful for this time together.

Solvang CA flag

As we were driving and noticing the adorable shops and just FALLING IN LOVE with every shop and street in the city we noticed something else. There were a record number of fire trucks also parked along the road and completely filling one parking lot adjacent to our hotel. Many of the men and women helping to keep the residents and landscape secure during this time were also making Solvang their safe space for the evening. This gave us another moment of kindness inspiration.

delivering kindness kits on our roadtrip

We didn’t know exactly when or where our Kindness Kits would come into play during our trip but we knew that if you prepare the opportunity will present itself. The next morning we left a few items of support to those serving all year long.

Delivering Kindness to firemen in California

After that we were off in search of a traditional Danish breakfast. It’s funny to be a transitioning vegetarian in a Danish community- sausage or some form of meat is offered always. There were definitely options but we in search of the traditional æbleskiver.

Danish æbleskiver in Solvang

Aebleskiver are round pastries, like pancakes formed in a sphere.  In Denmark, æbleskiver are common at Christmas and over the days leading up to it. In December, they are often served with gløgg, Scandinavian mulled wine. In Norway, warm waffles have much of the same function as æbleskiver in Denmark.

Shoe store in Solvang CA

We walked by a few shops and so many that we wanted to visit. We decided at breakfast that we would scrap a few other things on the agenda in order to stay as long as possible in Solvang. We were already planning a trip back. Before we left we did a little photo shoot with our matching Dinosaur costumes because when you have a friend that has a matching costume the only question is “Will it fit in my carry on?” (more Dinosaur photos coming soon!)

dinosaur costume at the Landsby

The staff at the Landsby had been so nice to us that we made sure to leave them a handwritten note of thanks. I can’t wait for my next stay here!

Thank you notes hotel

We had several more hours of driving ahead of us so it was time to get on the road. Our next stop was one we were both very excited about. The last several months had given us plenty to catch up on and as with most road trips there were several stretches of highway for miles.

Kia Niro PHEV

Due to the route we chose to save time we didn’t have a ton of ocean front views but we waved as we drove by. Jillian lives just steps away from the ocean in CA so we were most excited about seeing parts of California that neither of us had discovered.  We definitely did make note of several places we want to stop on our next trip.

Our next stop took us to Oakland, right across the bridge from San Francisco. We both have a friend who is near and dear to our heart, Brandi from Mama Knows It All.  Even though it was moving week for her she was able to get away and meet up for a quick visit. Little did she know that we had a surprise for her too. (Remember that Target run we took ?)

Gifts for a friend

These items may seem like an unusual combination but have a meaning. Together they represent trusted friends who: travel through life with you even when the outcome is uncertain, genuinely celebrate your wins, believe in your gifting, show up at just the right times, and offer their gifts to you making life even sweeter. Simple gifts and time together, no matter how short, are treasured.

2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid

We attempted to recharge the Kia Niro PHEV while we refueled on donuts and coffee and found it so easy to locate charging stations anywhere on your route. You can check for available charging stations right from the dashboard in your car or from the Chargepoint app. We weren’t far from our next stop in San Francisco. This night we would be staying at Hotel Zeppelin.

Hotel Zeppelin The Den

Hotel Zeppelin gameroom

It wasn’t long before all the teams had arrived together at the hotel. It was such a fun reunion with all the other road trip teams who has been out traveling as well. We got to see pictures of the different roadside attractions, share stories of adventures and ways that kindness was shared. It was an amazing thing to see that although we have lots of choices in the route we take there is joy in every journey and the people who share it with you.

The next morning Clarissa, Jillian, and I loaded our suitcases back into a Kia Niro PHEV and headed out to the airport to return to our homes spread literally across the nation. We all agreed what a wonderful experience it had been and we started planning for our next trip(s) together in 2018.

Airport friends

What were some of the best trips you took this year? Any special road trips planned for 2018?

*As is common, all travel, accommodations, and budget for this trip was provided for by our host, Kia Motors America. All opinions and storytelling are the sole expression of the author. 

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

As we look out with anticipation towards all the possibilities that 2017 may hold, it’s important we take time to reflect on all that happened the year before it. I do this each year and it always seems likes so much more greatness happens by the end of the year than what I first anticipate. I believe this happens when you leave yourself open to adventure, partner with creative, driven people, and live your life with the purpose of collecting and telling great stories. Thanks to our work with Kia Motors in 2016 we were able to tell a plethora of great stories, with incredible people, and have some really awesome experiences. Here is a recap list of some of our favorite memories from 2016.

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

Dinner under the Stars ( Mom 2.0 at The Ecology Center)

Enjoying the Suite Life ( Hotel Emma, Salamander Resort & Spa, Hotel Zepplin, Solage)

Solage Calistoga suite

Suite at Solage Calistoga CA #KiaSoulTurbo

Ice Box Hotel Emma San Antonio

Hotel Emma, San Antonio TX #ExperienceNiro

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA #KiaSoulTurbo

We went back in time in Middleburg VA when we drove the all new 2017 Cadenza ( more here)

Alice Chase and Africa Miranda Kia Cadenza Virgina

and we saw the future and what vehicles we would be driving when we get there during  SEMA 2016.

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola

Soul First Class

Soul First Class photo cred: Kia Motors

And went to some pretty unusual places ( Borrego Springs, Seven Magic Mountians, Bird’s Cafe, Penny’s Cafe, )

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Alice Jeff Joel Seven Magic Mountians

Birds Cafe, CA #KiaSoul Turbo

And some really beautiful places too.

San Francisco Bridge #KiaSoulTurbo

#KiaSoulTurbo Drive

Vegas Views SEMA Kia

Vegas Views

I even got to make a music video and karaoke with some of my coolest friends

This was just a recap of what made 2016 so special. (Be sure to go back and check out any posts on adventures you missed from 2016!) I’m sure 2017 will have even more in store for us. Some things are already on the books and I’ll share with you in the upcoming weeks. Other adventures are still to come and we’ll both be surprised when them come to pass. The exciting part is that with every new place, adventure, and road traveled we learn more about ourselves and have the opportunity to explore and share these stories. Thanks to every one of you who chose to follow along and take part by reading here, interacting on our social channels and generally being such a support and encouragement. Huge thanks to Kia Motors for both taking me along on these adventures and allowing me to tell part of that story. It’s always an awesome experience!!

A Girlfriends Guide to Car Shopping #GFGuideToCarShopping

Girlfriends Guide to Car Shopping
This post was made possible by iConnect and Autotrader. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

I spend a lot of time in cars. We’re not just talking morning commute and afternoon carpool lane kind of time either. I’ve had the privilege of adding road trips, auto shows, even off-road and drive events into my ever-growing automotive knowledge base. I’m also pretty lucky to have a small group of girlfriends that like spending time in cars as much as I do. The truth is we really LOVE talking about cars! This makes us a go-to resource whenever someone in our circle is ready to go car shopping too. 

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We all know that the first person you go to is your girlfriends when you need help making a decision on, right? Researching and shopping for a new vehicle can be intimidating. There are so many questions that pop up, especially concerning design, technology, and price. There really is no right or wrong answer because we all have different lifestyles and preferences. Although, I do have a few go to pieces of advice I tell everyone who is seriously shopping for a new vehicle.

Be Your Own Expert

BeOwnExpert

No one know better than you what you like and dislike. Spend a little time shopping from your phone. Assess your current vehicle and decide what you really like about it (and what you can’t stand).  Take time to really consider your budget. Know what your ideal payment amount is ahead of shopping.

You MUST Test Drive

MustTestDrive

Very few first dates are love at first sight. The same thing can be said for car shopping. A car purchase is a commitment. You must spend some quality time with it before you decide to buy. If you don’t have to make a decision right away, look and see if there are any upcoming auto shows or test drive events coming up in your area. Events like these often have opportunities to test drive without the pressure to make a purchase.

Everyone I’ve ever talked to always felt more confident and empowered to make their own decisions once they had a little information to help guide them. Knowledge is Power! Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, the most-visited car shopping and information websites, are the ultimate #GFGuideToCarShopping. The car shopping guide includes expert tips including:

  1. How to smartly navigate the car-shopping process
  2. How to negotiate the deal
  3. Everything you need to know when shopping for a used or certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle
  4. Ways you can get new car smart if you’re searching for a brand-new ride

Learn more at GirlfriendsGuidetoCarShopping.com and then go out and confidently get the car that you’ve been looking for.

But Wait! In the comments below, tell me what the #1 thing you look for in a new car is? Performance? Great sound? Safety? Design ?