5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

50 state stickers blog series

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Written by guest bloggers: Adam & Kathryn 

5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

One of the things that makes Seattle special are all of the quaint, unique, and fun neighborhoods that surround the city. As you walk the tree lined streets, you often forget that you’re just a few miles from downtown. We love having the ability to escape the hustle and bustle of the city so easily and love the different personalities that each neighborhood has.

Here are our five favorite Seattle neighborhoods (it was so hard to choose!) and some of the top restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do in each one. Whether you’re a Seattleite or planning a trip to Seattle in the future, we hope that this helps you discover new spots within the city!

PS: If you are looking for an itinerary for Seattle, check out our 3 Days in Seattle guide, which features most of these neighborhoods.

Upper Queen Anne

Kerry park

Upper Queen Anne is where we call home and we absolutely love this gem of a neighborhood! Upper Queen Anne is less touristy than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, as it’s a quieter, family-friendly area with less trendy restaurants. However, it’s still filled with so many great spots, including our favorite view of the city!

Where to eat: We admittedly have not eaten at many of the restaurants in Queen Anne, partially due to the fact that we don’t eat out that much and also because we are usually out exploring other areas. However, there are a handful of super great restaurants in Queen Anne worth checking out: Bounty Kitchen, 5 Spot, Macrina Bakery & Cafe, Bite Box, Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Homegrown, and How to Cook a Wolf (pricey!). For dessert, we recommend Molly Moon’s Ice Cream!

Coffee Shops: Our favorite coffee shop in Queen Anne is El Diablo, which is a cuban-inspired cafe with great coffee, awesome breakfast sandwiches, and great indoor and outdoor spaces for working or hanging out. Some other coffee shops we love in the neighborhood are The Wick Motorcycles and Coffee (a joint motorcycle and coffee shop!) and Storyville Coffee.

Thing to do: By far the best thing to do in Queen Anne is Kerry Park, which actually isn’t much of a park, but it is a beautiful scenic viewpoint overlooking the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. This is one of our top must do things in Seattle! While you’re at Kerry Park, make sure to continue walking down Highland Drive to see some crazy big and beautiful houses, as well as check out the other viewpoint at the end of the street. And for Grey’s Anatomy fans, the house from the show is located right around this area too!

Ballard

Golden Gardens

Ballard is probably our favorite neighborhood in Seattle. Its tree lined streets, great restaurants, bars, and cute shops make it such a fun area to explore!

Where to eat: One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle, Asadero, is in Ballard. This is a steak lover’s paradise! Their carne asada is a good price for the size (and totally shareable!) and their homemade guacamole and salsas are so good! Some other great spots in Ballard include Pestle Rock, Biscuit and Bean, Un Bien (a little north of Ballard, but super close!), Cafe Besalu, and The Walrus and the Carpenter (if you’re feeling fancy!). For dessert, make sure you swing by Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery!

Coffee Shops: Ballard is home to many coffee shops! Some of our favorites include: Ballard Coffee Works, Slate Coffee Roasters, and Cafe Umbria. Slate Coffee Roasters does something pretty unique that is worth trying–a deconstructed latte, which is a latte broken up into three glasses. One has espresso, one has milk, and one has a traditional latte and the purpose is to taste the elements separately from one another. It’s a cool thing to try once!

Things to do: There is no shortage of things to do in Ballard! The neighborhood has a lot of Scandinavian and maritime history, as it’s right by the water. One super unique thing to do in the area is check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can watch boats go from Lake Washington and Lake Union into the Puget Sound. It’s surprisingly very interesting! You can also watch salmon migrate up a fish ladder in the summer months. Another one of our favorite attractions near Ballard is Golden Gardens Park, which is a beach on the Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains. This is a great place to relax for a couple hours, have a picnic, and watch the sunset. On Sundays, one of the best things to do in Seattle is go to the Ballard Farmers Market. This is our favorite market in town and features tons of local vendors–make sure to go hungry! And lastly, Ballard is home to many breweries, including Stoup Brewing and Reuben’s Brews, which makes it a great neighborhood to go brewery hopping.

Fremont

Fremont Troll

Gas Works Park

Fremont is known as the Center of the Universe and is a quirky and fun neighborhood across Lake Union from downtown Seattle. Similar to Ballard, the streets are tree lined and we could spend hours walking around the area.

Where to eat: Two of our top restaurants in Seattle are in Fremont: Stoneway Cafe and Uneeda Burger. Stoneway Cafe is our go-to quick spot for affordable and fresh food (almost everything is under $10). They serve breakfast all day and we love their breakfast burrito, their pulled pork, and their salads. Uneeda Burger is an order at the counter burger spot cranking out high quality, fancy burgers and amazing fries. They have an awesome outdoor patio for those non rainy Seattle days. A handful of other popular spots in Fremont include: Royal Grinders, SWeL, Manolin, and RockCreek Seafood & Spirits.

Coffee Shops: Fremont, just like the rest of Seattle is full of great coffee shops. A few top shops to check out are: Milstead, MiiR, and Fremont Coffee. Milstead is a delicious coffee shop right by the Fremont Troll and close to Gasworks Park, making it super convenient for anyone exploring those areas. MiiR is a pretty unique place to grab coffee, as it’s a small outdoor gear shop that also serves coffee and beer, while Fremont Coffee is in an old house and has a nice cozy vibe.

Things to do:  Some of our favorite tourist attractions in Seattle happen to be in Fremont. First up, Gas Works Park, which is is unlike anything we have ever seen before. It’s a former gasification plant on Lake Union that is now a park with views of Seattle. It’s a great picnic and kite flying spot and you can also watch the seaplanes take off and land! It technically may be in the Wallingford neighborhood, but it’s so close to Fremont that we are going to include it anyways. 🙂 After exploring Gas Works Park, head to the Fremont Troll which is one of the weirdest and most random landmarks in Seattle, but makes for a great photo opp! It is a huge sculpture of a troll crushing a VW bug underneath a bridge and is fun to climb on. If you love chocolate, you must check out the Theo Chocolate Tour. Theo is a local chocolate factory and during the hour long tour (which is only $10) you get tons of free chocolate samples! You also get to learn a lot about the chocolate making process. Lastly, the Fremont Sunday Street Market, similar to the Ballard Farmers Market, is a market full of local vendors. The Fremont market is a bit different because it’s indoors and outdoors and is more of a flea market than a produce and food item market.

West Seattle

Alki Beach

West Seattle, as the name implies, is the area west of downtown Seattle and has an awesome laid back beach town vibe. With a large beach, views of the city and mountains, and miles of beachfront biking and walking paths, there is no better place to be in the city on a sunny summer day!

Where to eat: Whenever we go to West Seattle we always go to the same place to eat: Marination Ma Kai. This Hawaiian fusion restaurant is right on the water, has breathtaking views of Seattle, delicious food (try the kimchi fried rice!), and is pretty affordable. You can also take the water taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle and it drops you off right in front of the restaurant. If you’re not craving Hawaiian food, we recommend checking out Husky Deli and The Swinery for sandwiches or Cactus for Mexican food with a view.

Coffee Shops: If you’re in need of caffeine while exploring West Seattle, we highly suggest getting a cup of coffee at Sound & Fog, Olympia Coffee, or Realfine Coffee. We can’t pick a favorite among the three–they are all great!

Things to do:  The big appeal of West Seattle is its proximity to the water and it’s no surprise that the best activities in the area are water related! Our must-do item while over in West Seattle is to spend some time at Alki Beach. There are volleyball courts, fire pits, lots of space to lay out, and amazing views of the mountains and city. The water isn’t the best for swimming, so we recommend renting a kayak or stand up paddle board to actually get out on the water. And if you’re lucky, you may see a seal! When we aren’t at Alki Beach in West Seattle, you can usually find us at Lincoln Park, which is a little south of the main area, but has nice walking trails, water access, picnic spots, and mountain views.

Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill is a bustling, colorful, hip neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle, known for being the city’s LGBTQ hub and home of Seattle’s nightlife. It’s probably Seattle’s most popular neighborhood and is full of Seattle’s top restaurants and coffee shops!

Where to eat: Our all time favorite place to eat in Seattle is an amazing taco shop called Tacos Chukis. Their original location is in Capitol Hill and is a bit of a hole in the wall, but their signature Tacos Chukis tacos with pineapple are so delicious! A few other great spots to check out include: Witness, Fogón Cocina Mexicana, Mamnoon,and Cascina Spinasse. For a sweet treat, we love Frankie & Jo’s, a vegan and plant based ice cream shop with the best waffle cones ever. Verve Bowls, for acai bowls, and General Porpoise, for filled doughnuts, are two more super cute options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Coffee Shops: If you’re looking for coffee paradise, head to Capitol Hill! There are way too many great coffee shops to list here, so we’re sticking to some of our absolute favorites! For coffee and an awesome experience, visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. This is unlike any Starbucks you have ever been to. You can watch them roast and package coffee, as well as try drinks that aren’t available at regular Starbucks. For another unique coffee shop experience, head to Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, which is a technical bookstore and coffee shop, with great coffee, food, and really neat tables that are full of trinkets. We love going here to work! For more traditional coffee shop vibes, Victrola Coffee and Capitol Coffee Works are both solid coffee shops in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Things to do: As we mentioned above, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a super cool experience and one of our favorite activities in Capitol Hill. Another thing we love to do in this area is walk around the shops. A few awesome shops to check out are The Elliott Bay Book Company, Standard Goods, Glasswing, and Retrofit Home. For those of you who love to go out, Capitol Hill is full of fun bars and clubs. We hardly ever go out, but we have been to Rock Box, which is a super fun karaoke bar where you can rent out your own karaoke room with friends. A few other popular spots are Unicorn, Sun Liquor, and Pie Bar. While Capitol Hill is known for its going out scene, it’s also home to the beautiful Volunteer Park and Conservatory, which is nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill. We love going into the conservatory and seeing all of the unique plants, as well as going to the top of the water tower for great views of the city and mountains!

And that’s a wrap on our 5 favorite neighborhoods in Seattle! We absolutely love this city and the little areas that make it special. Now that you have a list of many of Seattle’s neighborhood gems, it’s time to get exploring. Which spot will you head to first?

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About Us

We’re Adam and Kathryn, an adventurous married couple living in Seattle. You can often find us driving all around the PNW on the weekends, cuddling our fur child Kona, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos, climbing mountains, and dreaming about Hawaii. Our goal is to make travel planning easier for others by blogging about our adventures and creating free travel guides for the cities we visit. Come explore with us at Adventures of A+K!

 

 

This blog series features fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!
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Greetings from Austin

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Candace Perry

Austin, Texas is known for The Longhorns, barbeque, and being the Live Music Capital of the World. It boast great events like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL), but Austin has so much more to offer.

We were in Austin for my daughter’s birthday this year, so we decided to visit a few of its well known places. We have lived in Austin for 4 years, but had never checked out these sights.

The first place we wanted to see was the Greetings from Austin mural, so we headed downtown to the corner of South First and Annie Street.  The kids enjoyed looking at the details of the mural and getting their picture in front of it. The mural was originally painted in 1998 by local artist and business owner Todd Sanders, and was restored in the fall of 2013. Today, it is one of the most recognizable images associated with the city. 

Austin Mural

Next we went to a place where you can be the artist, The Graffiti Wall. Sadly this installation will be moving to make way for condos, but it was definitely a part of the Keep Austin Weird movement, and a great way for people to express themselves. There are so many talented people in this world and it was amazing to see all of the unique beautiful art created with just a can of spray paint. The birthday girl even found a painting that had been created and dated that day. 

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Zilker Park is 350 acre park in the middle of Austin. We were there just for the playground, which was pretty spectacular, but it also has a naturally formed Barton Springs swimming hole, a mini train, disc golf, soccer fields and great green spaces just to hang out. The kids had a blast running around to the different playground areas, including one made from a vintage fire engine.

If you want to get out and enjoy nature, in Austin, you can do that too! In the middle of the city we found a beautiful trail; River Place Nature Trail. You’ll want to get an early start if you decide to hike this trail in the summer. It warms up quick and the trees hold in the moisture, so it gets really humid. The trail was scenic, with a few small waterfalls, and the lake at the trail head was full of turtles.  We did the Panther Hollow and Little Fern Trail. From start to finish it was 2 miles, but if you add the Canyon Trail it totals about 6 miles. We weren’t quite up for that, but it is a place that we are likely to visit again.

While these places may not be the reason you come to Austin, they are fun places to check out that are family friendly that give a sense of what Austin is all about.

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Candace Perry is a crafter, blogger and mother of five, who for the last year has been traveling the United States in an RV, exploring the history and the natural wonders of the country. When she is not roaming and homeschooling her children, you will find her crocheting, sewing, and capturing family memories with her camera.

You can find her handmade crochet items at MyRedBalloonBouquet.com and you can follow her family’s journey at RainbowsAndRainBoots.com

 

 

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

Ideas & tips for hanging artwork properly

Tip and Tricks

I don’t do art fairs often, so it’s not usual that I have the opportunity to see people interact with my artwork in person. However, last week I participated in The National Folk Festival and, while I was there, I had several people ask me for framing and sizing suggestions for artwork. So, if this is something that you have had questions about, please know that you are not alone.  Here is a quick post concerning the proper display of art, and some real-life customer photos so that you can see examples.

First things first: art ALWAYS looks better in a frame than it does alone. I cannot stress this enough! I remember when I was in college working for the on campus galleries and art would sometimes be shipped to us un-framed. Framing makes a big difference! It can take a piece of art from pretty to being the focal point of the entire room. Matting is almost as important. It helps to let the art “breathe”, giving the eye a place to rest between the art and the frame’s edge.

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photo by Etsy customer: Melissa M.

Size matters. All of the prints in my shops are “standard size”, which means that they were intentionally designed in a way so that my customers could go to any home decor shop and find the frame of their choosing- eliminating the need for costly custom framing. When a customer requests something with really unique dimensions, I take the time to explain that it may require custom framing- which isn’t an expense that I want the customer to have to endure unexpectedly.

Standard sizes for art are as follows:

  • 4×6 inches
  • 5×7 inches
  • 8×10 inches
  • 11×14 inches
  • 16×20 inches
  • 18×24 inches
  • 24×36 inches

All of the sizes listed above can be easily placed in any frame from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, A.C Moore or any other home decor/craft retailer. For sizes larger than 11×14, pre-cut mats may not be available, so you may need to have one cut for you by the faming department. In my small town we have Hobby Lobby & Michael’s to choose from. Personally, I prefer Hobby Lobby because their services and prices are much better than Michael’s, in my opinion.

 

Go bigger than you think.

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I will get an exchange request for art. In those instances, it is ALWAYS for a larger size. A good way to test your wall space is to cut a piece of brown paper and use painter’s tape to place it in the spot you are intending to hang something. This will give you a very quick visual for the appropriate size art for the space.

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photo by Breanna B.

As a rule of thumb, art should be between 1/2 – 2/3 the size of the furniture you are hanging it over. I’ll never forget going to an open house with my mom and there was a 4″x6″ piece of artwork hanging over the person’s bed- in one word: WEIRD! HAHAH!!

Here is an example of this. This piece was printed in the largest size available, 18×24 inches, and it works well in this space above her washer and dryer in the laundry room. Many thanks to Abby of twistmepretty.com for allowing me to share this photo of your beautiful laundry room makeover, and for choosing my work for your lovely space!

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Photo provided by Abby of twistmepretty.com

Group art close together.

If you are hanging a gallery wall, it is important that it looks intentional. By keeping them tight in the display, you are ensuring that the grouping looks cohesive.

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photo by Kara P. IG: @hey.poindexter

Don’t feel like you have to hang in a straight horizontal line. 

Here are some examples of unique ways to hang art:

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photos by IG: @amritakauranand

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photo by Etsy customer: Grace E.

Take advantage of small spaces.

You do not need to hang art on your largest walls- sometimes the little corners of your home can be the most interesting ones. Don’t forget about them!

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Well, that wraps it up. Applying these simple tips can help you to design your rooms in an even more beautiful way.

Feel free to take a look at my Pinterest board here for some really fun display ideas. There is lots of practical information online about how to hang art- so, have fun! Also, if you are hanging original watercolor art, you need to follow some basic rules to ensure that your art can be enjoyed for many years to come. Please check out this post for most information on that.

Thank you so much to everyone that allowed me to share photos. I love seeing all of the creative ways that you have displayed your art.

Hope this helps, but please feel free to reach out to me if you have any specific questions. You can always send me an email right thru the homepage on my website here: rachelalvarezart.com

Have a beautiful day!

Rachel

 

Want to receive more helpful tips and coupons right to your inbox? Sign up for my zero spam email list here.

 

 

Visiting Abilene, KS. “Best Small Town To Visit” by Smithsonian Magazine

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Kaitlyn Black

While Kansas is well known for the Wizard of Oz, there are so many hidden gems among the state that you’re sure to miss if you don’t venture off I-70 on your way through. Just 45 minutes to the west of the gorgeous Flint Hills is the little town of Abilene, named “Best Small Town To Visit” by Smithsonian Magazine.

Hometown of Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, you can tour the Eisenhower museum and see his childhood home while learning all about the history of Ike.

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The Heritage Center is home to the C.W. Parker Carousel built in 1901 that is still in operation today and the Museum of Independent Telephony explaining how the Sprint Company got its start in the little town of Abilene.

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The Seelye Mansion is beautiful to tour, especially when it is all decked out in Christmas décor. Dr. A.B. Seelye made his fortune in patent medicine, which he in turn purchased the furnishings of the house at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, including a bowling alley in the basement.

Take a tour around Old Abilene Town while you’re down there and check out all of the old buildings that have been moved in from around the county, learn about the history of them and take photos while you’re there.

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You can pet live greyhounds at the Greyhound Hall of Fame and learn about the history of the breed, or venture downtown and visit one of the many antique shops that line the streets. While you’re downtown, stop in at Amanda’s Bakery for lunch, and be sure to get one of their amazing scones while you’re there, too.

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Once you’ve visited the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum and viewed the history of Dickinson County the three generations of photographers have preserved, you can relax on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad Association dinner train, which has catered meals by The Brookville Hotel on certain evenings. The Brookville Hotel is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas and has been serving family style chicken dinners for over 100 years.

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“Hi there! My name is Kaitlyn and I own Lazy KT Designs, LLC. Currently located in Solomon, KS, where I grew up.

With my business Lazy KT Designs, LLC, I turn your artwork and photos into unique gifts and keepsakes by printing them on interesting and unusual surfaces such as slates, cutting boards, cake pans, coasters and mugs, so that you can give or receive something to be treasured. More often than not, I can be found printing with my Australian Shepherds Annah and Cedar and German Shorthair Trigger close by.”

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!
Rachel Alvarez Art

3 places to see in Franklin (just outside of Nashville)

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Morgan Nagle

When most people travel to Nashville, Tennessee, they focus on the city and all that it has to offer. Nashville is such a great city, but there is one particular town just outside of Nashville that holds a special place in my heart. Franklin, Tennessee was voted the #1 small town in the South in 2016, and I have to say that I agree with it!

Although I love all that Nashville has to offer, Franklin offers a quieter get away that is definitely worth stopping to see. I want to share with you my top 3 places in Franklin to visit if you want to stop by for a day.

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The first place I want to mention is Harlinsdale Farm. Although the name indicates it is a farm, it is actually a public park with several buildings, a pond, open fields, and a dog park. This former farm has been called the most significant historic farm associated with the modern Tennessee Walking Horse industry. In 2004, the Harlin family sold the farm to the City of Franklin with the understanding that it would maintain the history of the farm. Franklin has done such a beautiful job doing just that and restoring the farm to its full potential. The park is now used on a regular basis by the public and also used for special events, such as the annual Pilgrimage Festival.

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The next place that that is so unique to Franklin is The Factory at Franklin. The Factory is now a local shopping and event center. The Factory was once an old stove factory that has now been turned into a great shopping, dining, and entertainment area. The original structure and features of the original factory remain in tact, giving it a very industrial feel. Inside there are many shops and restaurants, most of which are locally owned. There is a center in the middle with chairs, tables, and sofas for people to gather and socialize.

One of the most beautiful places in Franklin is right downtown! Downtown Franklin is absolutely gorgeous, and a big reason why people visit the town. It is a great place to just park your car and walk around. There are so many wonderful restaurants, including many locally owned. There are also lots of small shops and boutiques, which makes this the perfect place to spend the afternoon.

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So next time you are in the Nashville area, take a trip just south to Franklin! The town is full of history, beauty, and entertainment with something for everyone.

 

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Hello! My name is Morgan Nagle and I am the owner of Heck Designs and Photography. I am located in Toledo, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee.   I specialize in couples and weddings for photography.

My passion for design and photography has been around for as long I can remember. I grew up taking photos with my mom, and when she got a DSLR, I tried to learn as much as I possibly could, and my love for it has only grown. For me, graphic design and photography have always gone hand in hand, so for me to go to school for graphic design was no surprise.

I have always loved the south, even though I grew up in south east Michigan, so when I discovered O’More College of Design, I immediately fell in love and knew I would go there. I graduated from O’More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee in 2016 with a BFA in graphic design.

Five months after graduation I moved to Toledo, Ohio and married my best friend, Matt. We now live in Toledo with our two pups, Brutus and Lenny.

www.instagram.com/heck_designs

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This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

7 Best Beaches Near San Francisco

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Caitlyn Lunsford

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The San Francisco Bay Area has been my “home” my entire life, whether I actually lived there or not.  My family moved around a lot when I was young but I remember even as a little girl, we would visit my grandparents and I would get so excited once we reached the streets that were lined with palm trees.  They swayed back and forth in the breeze as if they were welcoming me back.

When I was seventeen, I moved out of my parents’ house in Ohio to California with big dreams of going to college for marine biology and I felt that same sense of home that I felt all those years ago, as if nothing had ever changed.  Ultimately, I decided not to pursue marine biology and became a photographer, but I still have a passion for the ocean and I visit the beach as often as possible.

Sometimes the beach was a hangout spot with a group of friends from college.  Sometimes it was a place for my husband and I to explore the world around us. Other times, it was a place for me to relax alone, while I breathed in that salty ocean air.

Today, I am going to describe a few of my favorite beaches in the bay area that stretch from San Francisco to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  All of them are located in close proximity to California’s coastal Highway 1 and will be discussed in order from North to South.

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Ocean Beach

The first beach I’m going to talk about is one that is dear to my heart. Ocean Beach is the first beach that I went to with my husband and it is where we kissed for the first time.  Three miles of sand stretches across the western coast of San Francisco, which is great for those long walks so many people claim to enjoy. It is across the street from Golden Gate Park and only about an hour walk until you can view the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunsets are gorgeous and there are always surfers out trying to catch some waves.  The only downside is, it’s in San Francisco and the weather can change quickly! Don’t forget to wear layers to stay warm in the cold wind! At night, the bonfires in the fire pits light up this beach.

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Rockaway Beach

This is my favorite secret beach, secluded behind restaurants and hotels and would be a great weekend getaway destination!  The beach itself is pretty small, but it features great rocky views and sunsets that never disappoint! There is a small lot where you can park for free and you don’t even have to leave your car to enjoy the beauty that Rockaway Beach has to offer!

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Pacifica State Beach

If you are a fan of fast food, specifically Taco Bell, this is the beach for you!  There is a Taco Bell restaurant right on the beach with a walk up window for you to place your order.  I usually opt for a crunchwrap supreme! This beach tends to be very windy, so it can be cold, but it is also a great place to fly kites.  Unfortunately, parking isn’t free, but I would say the visit is definitely worth the price!

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Wilder Ranch State Park

This state park features a historical dairy farm with live animals and hiking trails along the coast.  The Old Cove Landing Trail is a fairly easy walk that starts near the ranch and loops along the coast back to the parking lot. This is a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the ocean breeze.  There are secluded beaches along the trail, but they are a little bit of a climb down to get to the sand.

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Seabright State Beach

This is a very popular beach, but not nearly as crowded as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk down the street.  You could easily walk over to the amusement park or to the nearby shops and restaurants. The parking is free along the street or you can pay for a spot at the harbor.  There is also a lighthouse at the end of Seabright State Beach and I saw two dolphins playing in the waves near it the last time I was there!

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Seacliff State Beach

A concrete shipwreck at the end of a long pier makes Seacliff State Beach unique.  It was built as a tanker for WWI, but the war ended before they finished construction.  The parking is $10 and if the lower lot is full, you can park in the large overflow lot at the top of the hill with beach access via a long wooden staircase.  Also, if you enjoy camping, they have a lot for RVs and trailers.

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Carmel Beach

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a cute beach town with tons of shops in the downtown area.   Every time I have gone, there have been fancy cars parked along the streets and by fancy; I mean Lamborghini, Porsche, and Ferrari. This is a great beach to relax with a good book or explore the tide pools.  After a long day by the water, I recommend getting a pizza at Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria or taking a drive down the scenic 17-Mile Drive. If you have an extra day in the area, you should definitely check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium just north in Monterey.

Fun fact: Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea between the years of 1986 and 1988.

Each of these beaches hold so many of my memories and I hope that you will get a chance to make your own memories at one of them someday!  If you do, I would love to see pictures from your own beach trip! Be sure to follow along with Rachel Alvarez to read posts from some other really fun guest bloggers from all 50 states!

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Caitlyn Lunsford freezes memories like it’s her superpower in Seattle and San Francisco. She enjoys spending time with family and is always craving chocolate, adventure and a trip to the beach! You can follow along with her on her website:  www.caitlynlunsford.com or on facebook, and instagram.

 

 

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

Best Off the Beaten Places in Naples, FL.

50 state stickers blog series, Art Scene

written by guest blogger Lauren Connelly

It’s crazy to think that my hometown is one of the world’s most visited places. There are palm trees everywhere and the beach is only minutes away. Now living 700 miles away in Greenville, South Carolina, I feel like I know Naples so much better. As a former local, I am giving you my favorite places to make sure I stop at when I’m home!

Kunjani Coffee

My heart beats a little faster for small businesses. I love that Kunjani is ran by a mom and daughter duo from South Africa. Not only are they making delicious coffee and serving the yummiest pastries, they are also changing the world. One side of their coffee shop holds jewelry and crafts made by artisans all over the world. Some are local to Naples and others are residents of South Africa. It’s definitely a hidden gem that won’t be hiding much longer.

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Koreshan State Park

Koreshan State Park is located in Estero, Florida. (Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples) If you’re looking for a perfect backdrop of photos, this is the best spot. There are small houses around the property. Although the houses are vacant, it was a small community build by the Koreshans. You’ll see some houses used to be sawmills, bakeries, boat works, and even a printing facility.

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Naples Botanical Garden

If flowers are your love language, this place is for you. With over seven different gardens covering the 170-acres, you’ll find plants perfect for different climates. There is also a children’s garden where you can find a butterfly house. If you want a photo of you holding a butterfly, that’s the place to be.

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Kayaking or Paddle Boarding at Estero River Outfitters

Like I said, Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples. It’s not as developed as Naples but still tons to do. Estero River Outfitters is the best place to kayak and/or paddle board because the waters are easier to paddle through. (It’s also $14 for 2 hours of kayaking! Steal!) If you’ve never kayaked or paddle boarded before, I would definitely recommend this for all experience levels. Plus, the owners are so kind and extremely helpful.

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Tacos and Tequila on Vanderbilt Beach Road and US 41

Tacos and Tequila opened a little over two years ago and is already the new craze. The atmosphere is casual with doors open and the chips are made to perfection. Right now there are three locations in Naples, but I think this one is the best. Their menu has so much variety that no one is going hungry. If it was up to me, i’d have the California Taco and the Signature Taco for dinner every single night. It’s that good.

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Have you visited Naples before? What’s on you “must do” list?

 

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Hi there! My name is Lauren Connelly and you can find me over at WriterLaurenConnelly.com. I’m a content writer and product photographer living in Greenville, South Carolina. As a content writer, I work specifically with photographers helping them with their blog content and creating other materials to help their business succeed. One fun fact about me is that I moved to Greenville, SC after googling top places to live in South Carolina. Greenville came up as #1, I visited once, convinced my sister to move with me, and two months later we were living in a new city and didn’t know a single soul. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made. If I had to tell myself one thing, it would be don’t let fear hold you back. Everything works out. Keep up with me on Instagram at @Lauren_Connelly

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

Happy Earth Day!

My Story.

Today is a special day to celebrate this amazing earth that we all have to enjoy. There are many ways to do this, but today I want to introduce you to a couple of people that do it in a really beautiful way.

When I was in art school, we studied the work of one person in particular that really got my attention: Andy Goldsworthy. He is a British sculptor that uses pieces of the earth (leaves, sticks, rocks, etc) as his supplies.

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photo by iurikothe on Flickr

When he was a young boy, he work worked as a laborer in farm fields. He says that “A lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it.” This is an interesting perspective to me because I have written in the past about how much previous “menial” work can shape art. Goldsworthy’s work is mesmerizing. The details he makes in his outdoor sculptures somehow exist without distracting you too much from the natural beauty of the location that they were designed into. 

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photo by Elijah Porter on Flickr

It’s interesting to note that much of his work disappears within a very short period of time. Many people have taken that fact and connected it to the fragility of the earth, but he sees it as much more complex than that: “When I make something, in a field or street, it may vanish but it’s part of the history of those places,” he says in another interview. “In the early days my work was about collapse and decay. Now some of the changes that occur are too beautiful to be described as simply decay. At Folkestone I got up early one morning ahead of an incoming tide and covered a boulder in poppy petals. It was calm and the sea slowly and gently washed away the petals, stripping the boulder and creating splashes of red in the sea. The harbour from which many troops left for war was in the background.”

If you have a few minutes, listen to this interview with him care of NPR: Andy Goldsworthy interview. Take special note of what he says concerning the topic of failure. It’s really an interesting concept that I can completely relate to.

You can see much more of his work, and a few other nature artists on my Pinterest board here: https://www.pinterest.com/ralvarezart/earth-inspired-art

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There are a few people that I suspect have been very influenced by Goldsworthy. One of these people is James Brunt. He is a current artist, and you can here his website here: http://www.jamesbruntartist.co.uk

On another note, if you are looking for some people to follow on Instagram that celebrate nature in their work, here are some of my favorites:

instagram.com/robertandstella

instagram.com/maggierutherfordart

instagram.com/thefloralfoxart

instagram.com/lisapittman

instagram.com/emily.phillips.art

Do you have any favorite artists that reflect nature’s bounty in their work? Please feel free to share them with me via the contact form on my website here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

I love following and supporting fellow artists!

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

Tips for properly framing watercolor art.

My Story.

Ove the past year, I have had more and more requests for custom watercolor paintings – whether it is a custom home portrait or a family memory piece, one thing that I always to try to communicate to potential clients is the need to properly frame watercolors. Unlike acrylics and oils, which have their own specific framing/preservation needs, watercolors are painted onto paper. This process allows an image to be painted in a soft & delicate unique way, but extra care must be taken so that the art can be enjoyed, without damage, for many years to come.

Here is a simple infographic with tips on how to frame your custom piece. Doing these 5 things will allow your custom art to be preserved for many years, allowing you to celebrate your memories the way that they should be- in beautiful, vivid color.

If you have any specific questions concerning framing or custom art, feel free to reach out to me thru the contact form on my website here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

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Want to see some of the commissions that I have been working on lately? Check out my Instagram feed for all of my most recent projects here: @rachelalvarezart

Have a beautiful day!

Rachel

I didn’t get the art scholarship.

My Story.

It’s a time in my life that I will never forget. I was in my sophomore year of school, and I was deep in the trenches of my art studies.

For spring break that year, my mom and I decided to take a train trip half-way across the country to Topeka, KS. to visit family. On our last day, we arrived at the train station only to hear that our train had partially derailed somewhere west of us after hitting a cow on the tracks.

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Our itinerary was going to be delayed. As I’ve written before, it’s usually my preference to take the long, scenic way home, but this time I need to get back- I had applied for an arts scholarship, and I needed to be home to present my portfolio.

When our train finally arrived in Kansas, we were hours behind schedule.  Our route was taking us to Chicago and, there, we would know just how late we would be on our return to Maryland. After we all boarded the train and got settled in, there was an announcement: “Amtrack officials will be meeting with people in the restaurant car to arrange travel plans. Please choose a member of your party as a representative to speak with them.” My mom looked at me and said, “Rachel, you’re 19, you go and make a decision to get us home.” We settled back into our seats and, ironically, I continued reading a book for my sociology class entitled “Ain’t no Makin’ It” (a really fascinating study on social inequality that I highly recommend.)tom-barrett-328717-unsplash

After a few hours, someone came to our seats and said that we were up. I followed them to a train car quite a ways away, and went inside where two officials dressed in navy blue were seated, waiting for me. “Where are you going?” they asked. “Salisbury, Maryland by way of Baltimore.” I said. “What brought you to Kansas?” they asked. “My mom and I spent my spring break traveling to see our family.” “Is there anything we need to know about your travel needs?” “Yes,” I said, “I need to get back to Salisbury as soon as possible. I’m an art major in college, and I am presenting my portfolio for an art scholarship.” They took notes. “Ok, ma’am, we will determine the best course of action and you will be notified in Chicago of the decision. You may go back to your seat.”

After 10 hours of travel, our train stopped in Chicago. It was about 2am.

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Hundreds of people exited the train and filed into lines at the Amtrak counter. Exhausted and frustrated, they received news that the next trains were not leaving for hours and they were prepared for the long night ahead.

While we were waiting in line, someone discreetly walked up to us and said to me, “Rachel?” “Yes.” I replied. They handed me an envelope and quietly whispered not to mention it to anyone. Inside the envelope we found information about a Chicago hotel, taxi fare, and 2 plane tickets-  back home to Baltimore. My mom and I were pretty shocked. We ended up spending the night in a very nice hotel, and took our time getting to the airport the next morning.

Our plane landed and we drove back to Salisbury. Turns out that, after all of that, we still arrived home sooner than if we had never been delayed in the first place. The next day, I arrived at the Salisbury Wicomico County Arts Council with my photography portfolio in hand and never said a word about what we had just been thru. I didn’t get the scholarship.

19 years has passed, and I will never forget the amazing way that our trip ended. To this day, when I am going thru something tough, I think back on times just like this one. I didn’t get the scholarship, but the experience was even more rewarding.

Isn’t it funny how things all seem to work out in the end?

“Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.
— Robert J. Hastings

art inspiration - never give up on your dreams

Want to see some of the art that I paint now? Look here <

Read more about my love of travel here <

Enjoy the journey, folks.

-Rachel Alvarez