A Guide to a Great Weekend in Bricktown, Oklahoma City

The Labor Day Weekend was upon us and we decided a little road trip was in order. But where to? After much debate we finally decided upon Oklahoma City’s Bricktown area. It is a rejuvenated warehouse district that has been turned into a new entertainment area.  Bricktown is centered around a man-made canal with many restaurants, bars, entertainment, sports and some shopping. It is a lot like the Riverwalk in San Antonio, although a bit smaller.

Here are some tips on how to make your weekend getaway to OKC unforgettable!



Lunch Decisions

With over 40 restaurants and bars, Bricktown is not lacking for food options. Here are a few places to grab a bite for lunch.

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Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar & Grill

Grab a Fried Bologna Sandwich or a steak at Toby Keith’s I love this Bar & Grill. This Bricktown restaurant is named after Oklahoma native and country music superstar Toby Keith. The portions are large, the atmosphere and food are casual, and there is live music on the weekends. Don’t forget to order the cheese fries.


Try some of Oklahoma’s finest BBQ at Earl’s Rib Palace. Try the ribs with the hot or not sauce or just one of their great “Smokestack” sandwiches. Don’t forget to add some homemade cobbler for desert!


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Massive Nachos!

Experience some authentic fresh local cuisine at Yucatan Taco Stand, where they use locally sourced ingredients and keep bottles of salsa on the table. The tacos are great and the nachos are massive. Try a margarita made with one of their 100 different tequilas in stock, or a local craft beer.




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Murals on the canal 

Ride the Water Taxi

One of the first things you need to do in Bricktown is to take a tour of the Canal on the Water Taxi of Oklahoma. On the 40 minute tour, your guide will tell you the history about the Oklahoma City buildings they pass, as well as fun facts along the one mile canal. The water taxi ticket is a bracelet that acts as an all day pass that you can use to hop off at various parts of the canal.  You will also see lots of art including the Centennial Land Run Monument. The Centennial Land Run Monument features participants of the iconic land run commemorating the opening of Indian land in Oklahoma territory in 1889.

Do Dinner at Tapwerks Ale House & Cafe

Start off the night right at TapWerks. Tapwerks is Oklahoma’s oldest and largest tap house, with 212 taps and more than 100 bottled beers.  If you love beer it’s a must! Try the Monte Cristo Sandwich or the Jalapeno Jack Burger.

Test the Pianist at Michael Murphy’s Dueling Pianos

Another fun option is to experience Michael Murphy’s Dueling Pianos. The show consists of a few piano players who perform songs by request. The entertainers are funny and have a repertoire of over 1000 songs!

Get Wild at Coyote Ugly

Wrap up your night at Coyote Ugly.  It’s a saloon chain that likes to have audience participation with dancing on the bar, body shots and dance routines.

Stay at  Homewood Suites by Hilton

We had a great stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. The beds were comfortable and we enjoyed having free WiFi.  There’s also an indoor pool, a whirlpool, an exercise room and a lounge with a pool table, plus a 24/7 business center and convenience store. The staff was great and helped us with questions and directions. 

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Centennial Land Run Monument 


Day 2

Get your Brunch On at Fuzzy’s

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is known for their Baja-style Mexican Tacos, but not well-known for their great breakfast items. Start your day off right with the Huevos Rancheros and a Bloody Mary Schooner.

Time to Shop

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Bricktown Candy

Stroll the canal for some sightseeing and window shopping. Stop in at Bricktown Candy for some old time favorites, the Painted Door for specialty gifts and the Red Dirt Emporium for Oklahoma collectibles.  One of the main shopping attractions is the huge Bass Pro Shop for hunting, fishing & outdoor gear.  The store also includes an archery range, laser arcade, and a 15,000 gallon aquarium.

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Things to Do

Brickopolis offers a fun miniature golf course right on the canal, but also video games, and you can even play laser tag.


If you are visiting in the during Baseball Season, don’t miss an opportunity to see the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the metro’s AAA affiliate of the LA Dodgers, play at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.


Visit the American Banjo Museum, which contains the largest collection in the world of banjos on public display. The museum’s collection contains more than 400 instruments, recordings, film, video, printed music, instructional materials, and memorabilia associated with the banjo.

Eat at a Legendary Steakhouse

For a great steaks, seafood and a large wine list head over to Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse.  The restaurant is named after the famous baseball player and Oklahoma native and it’s filled with memorabilia from his family’s personal collection.

Kick Up Your Heels with Some Live Music

If you’re looking for live country music and dancing you have to go to the Wormy Dog Saloon. It is noted as being the best honky-tonk bar in Oklahoma City. Grab a beer and saddle up at the long bar for a great night of country music.

Day 3

A Quick Breakfast

Stop in at All About Cha, and try one of their exotic tea blends and a warm muffin before you leave Oklahoma City.




All the food, shopping, a water taxi and live music that we experienced made for a lively weekend in Oklahoma City. I hope that these tips help with your planning a great getaway. If you have any comments or tips for visiting Bricktown, please let me know! Happy Travels, Tava


An Oregon Coast Road Trip in 4 Days

We had four days of vacation to explore the Oregon Coast back in 2015.  Quickly our road trip down the Coast became one of our favorite holidays. There are tons of things to see, so make sure you are not rushed. Plan extra time so you can wander off the highway and make unplanned stops. All of Oregon’s beaches are open to the public. All the way down the coast there are lots of trails in the state parks that you can hike and explore. Oregon also has some great small beach towns with historical sites, fun shopping and great restaurants. If you are planning a road trip down the Oregon Coast, here are some of our favorite things that we saw driving south on Highway 101.

An Oregon Coast Road Trip in 4 Days 2

Day 1  – Portland to Seaside

We started our trip in Portland and drove down to Newport before we had to drive back to PDX to catch our flight. We left Portland early and stopped at Elsie at Camp 18.

IMG_20170327_192303_865Breakfast at Camp 18

On the way to Seaside we stopped in Elsie at the Camp 18, restaurant and logging museum.  The restaurant is in a rustic log cabin style building with a fun little gift shop. We ate a tasty and filling breakfast of biscuits & gravy. Make sure you leave room for one of the famous cinnamon rolls. We had to take our to go! After breakfast we explored the logging museum outside with many great exhibits on the logging history of the Northwest.

received_10155048857003886Sunny Seaside

Seaside is a popular destination spot on the coast. We checked into our hotel at the Shilo Inn Suites Hotel. The hotel has a great location and is right on the beach. Once checked in we made our way down the promenade to the historic Seaside Aquarium. We had fun feeding fish to the seals.  We spent some time exploring the small shops in downtown including buying at least a pound of  saltwater taffy and a beach blanket. After our retail therapy we took our new blanket, taffy and some snacks to the beach and watched seagulls and the surf.  For dinner we ate at the Seaside Brewing Company. We tried a beer sampler and ate some amazing street tacos.  After dinner we took stroll on the beach and then stopped in at the Boardwalk Lounge and tried some oyster shooters. We asked out bartender about the rules for a beach bonfire. We found out as long as you follow the rules, bonfires are legal on the public beaches.


Day 2 – Seaside to Cape Kiwanda

After making a list, we headed out to find a grocery store to pick up bonfire supplies.  We stopped at RiteAid. We lucked out because they had everything from marshmallows to firewood.  So after purchasing our items, we had a short drive to Ecola State Park.

received_10155048858683886Ethereal Ecola State Park

The entrance winds you though a forest of trees opening onto a plateau with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The vista is perfect for a picnic, and we split our cinnamon roll from Camp 18 and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery.

received_10155048980128886Captivating Cannon Beach

No stop on the coast is complete without stopping at the lovely town of  Cannon Beach.  Cannon Beach is home to Haystack Rock, which is famous for being a location from the Goonies Movie. This monolith rock towers 235 feet and during low tide you can access the many tide pools. After exploring the beach and some of the fun shops we stopped at Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse. The restaurant is a busy place, the food there was great! (try the Blackberry Beauty Beer, you won’t regret it!)

IMG_20170327_202558_483Historical Hug Point

After lunch we continued on to Hug Point State Park.  Before roads for automobiles were built, wagons used this part of the coast to travel. People traveling around the cliff in wagons had to ‘hug’ the rock even at low tide, hence the name, Hug Point.  We were able to see the old wheel ruts that had been carved into the rock.  Also on the beach were a few sea caves that we had fun exploring.

IMG_20170327_200912_987Outstanding Oswald West State Park

Back on the road we stopped at Oswald West State Park, which is about a half mile walk through the woods from the parking lot. At the end of the hike, we were rewarded with pretty ocean views and we watched some surfers trying their luck on the waves.

IMG_20170327_213945_203Tasty Tillamook

The first place we stopped at in Tillamook was the Country Smoker Outlet.  It is a small outlet store attached to the factory smokehouse. Our stop was rewarded when we were able to purchase super long (2 ft!) pepperoni sticks.  We also picked up more jerky and sticks to take to friends and family back home. The second stop was at the popular Tillamook Cheese Factory.  The factory has a self guided tour, shop and a cafe to try a some of the tasty ice cream. We couldn’t leave withour trying a few flavors.

received_10155048980628886Perfect Time in Pacific City 

We arrived in late afternoon at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda.  Across the street was the Pelican Pub & Brewery, which we enjoyed dinner while the sun was setting.  After dinner, we loaded up our firewood, and s’mores fixings and built a bonfire down by the beach.  Coming from Kansas, we had a great time listening to surf, and our s’mores were pretty tasty too!


Day 3 – Pacific City to Nye Beach

We woke up before dawn to get some coffee and pastries from Stimulus Espresso, the coffee shop attached to the Inn. Coffee in hand we walked back down to the beach to take some photos and enjoy the morning.  After trying to talk the desk clerk into hiring us for only room and board, we reluctantly got back into the car to continue our journey.

received_10155048857413886Nice views at Neskowin Beach

Looking on the map we decided to make a pit stop at Neskowin Beach,  and rewarded with spectacular views.  We were also only the only people on the beach which as really nice. It was very serene place. We could have hung out there all day.

received_10155049060193886Delightful Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay is the “World’s Smallest Natural Harbor.” We had wanted to stop at the Whale Watching Center, but it was closed on the day we drove though. Due to the weather, which was a bit chilly and windy we opted not to go out on a whale watching boat ride. When we visit again we hope to be able to go on the tour. Getting a bit hungry we walked to Gracie’s Sea Hag, a fun little restaurant on main street. Only in Oregon, will you have bartenders playing the spoons on bottles to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

received_10155048857803886Newport  & Nye Beach

Once checking into our hotel,  The Inn at Nye Beach; we drove out to the Yaquina Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is Oregon’s tallest at 93 feet tall . After visiting the visitor center, we walked down a path to the beach. We were stopped by a park ranger because there was a baby harbor seal on the beach and due to Federal Law you have to be 100 feet away. We were able to talk to the ranger about the seals and take a few photos.  Later that night we met up with Mike’s sister & brother-in-law at Rogue Ales Public House for dinner. It was great catching up with them! We took a walk around the harbor, heard the Sea Lions barking and said our goodbyes. It was too short of a visit!


Day 4 – Nye Beach to Portland

received_10155048858053886Our Last Day

After checking out of our cute hotel, we walked down to the shops on Nye Beach.  It was fun browsing and we were able to purchase some Christmas presents at the little beach shops. We  drove through Dutch Bro Coffee to get coffee and make a quick stop back at the harbor to view the Seal Lions in the day light.  We had enough time to stop at the Roadhouse 101 in Lincoln City for lunch.  If you stop there make sure to order one of their wood fired pizzas.  From there we headed over Salem and got on Interstate 5 to the airport. We turned in our rental car, grabbed a snack and headed back to Kansas.  It was a great trip! When we come back, we hope to have more time to road trip further down the coast.  The Oregon Coast is spectacular, and I advise everyone to take time to drive down Highway 101. You won’t regret it!


Thanks for reading! If you have any tips on places we need to see for a future road trip in Oregon, please let me know! Happy Travels, Tava


A Day Trip to Mount St Helens

At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St.Helens erupted.

A 5.1 earthquake triggered a massive landslide, that caused the entire north side of the mountain to give way, and that sent a giant cloud of ash and gases more than 12 miles into the air. The skies were darken up to 300 miles away. Everything within eight miles of the blast was wiped out in an instant. The volcano continued to erupt for more than nine hours, depositing ash across Eastern Washington and 10 other states. It killed 57 people, and damaged roughly 230 square miles of land around the volcano. It also destroyed 200 homes,  158 miles of roads and countless wildlife.  The eruption is the most destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.

Sign at start of the monument

The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established in 1982 and it is administered by the National Forest Service.  It is located in the Cascade Mountain range in Washington state, about 55 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon, and about 95 miles south of Seattle, Washington. If you are visiting the area, it is an excellent day trip or side trip if traveling between Portland and Seattle. One note: the monument is only open from mid-May to October, so make sure to visit during these months.

When planning our trip to the Pacific Northwest,  seeing Mount St Helens  was at the top of our list of places to visit.  Both  of us remember being in grade school when the eruption occurred in 1980 and our classmates bringing in ash for show and tell. Below is our account of our day trip to visit Mount Saint Helens.

Our flight from Kansas City landed at PDX at 4PM. Where we then rented a car and drove to Kelso, Washington. We rented a hotel room at Super 8 then ate diner at Bugerville.  We also enjoyed stopping by Ashtown Brewing Company to try a sampling of their local beer. Kelso is about 50 minutes north of Portland. Anxious to start exploring, we were up early to get going on our adventure. We stopped by Dutch Bro Coffee, and got some coffee for the road.

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Map of the area
Early Morning Iced Latte
Plan on at least a 90 minute drive

We turned off Interstate 5 at Castle Rock, onto Highway 504. From the turnoff it takes about 90 minutes to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is the closest visitors center to the crater. There was a bit of fog that morning which made for an eerie but  pretty drive.

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Foggy Morning Drive

There is also the  Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake at mile marker 5. It is operated by Washington State Parks and has exhibits on the eruption and its effects on the region.  The center wasn’t open yet when we drove by and we were going  to stop on our way back out but, our GPS had different plans for us. It routed us on a different road to take to Seattle. If we are back in the area, we do wish to visit the Visitors Center at Silver Lake.

Patty’s Place, a picturesque breakfast stop

Our first stop was for breakfast at  Patty’s Place at 19 Mile House . We ordered the Tater Tot Casserole, Biscuits and a pot of coffee. The portions were huge! We didn’t have enough room to sample any of their famous fruit cobbler.  The restaurant and gift shop sits overlooking the Toutle River, we walked around after breakfast taking in the pretty views.

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Tater Tot Casserole
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Toutle River
We found Sasquatch!

Not far from our breakfast stop we found Bigfoot. Of course we had to take a picture!

Posing with Mount St Helens

We stopped along the road at a scenic overlook to try to see Mount St Helens for the first time. On highway 504 there are a few overlooks so you can pull your vehicle over and take photographs.

Highway 504
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Tree Stumps

The the landscape kept changing the closer we got to Mount St Helens. You start to see a variation of the trees on the mountain ridges. There are parts of the forest that were planted after the eruption where all the trees are the same height.  Then you come upon the stark landscape where the land was allowed to recover naturally, where there are just the tree stumps that were all that was left after the explosion.

Barren Landscapes
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We made it!

Our destination was the  Johnston Ridge Observatory at mile marker 52. This observatory is operated by the National Forest and only five miles from the north side of the mountain.

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Mike looking at an exhibit

There are many wonderful exhibits to explore, rangers will give talks about the recovery of the plant and animal life in the area.

There is also a movie about the eruption, which concludes with a dramatic view of Mount St Helens. The observatory also houses the equipment that is still used to monitor activity within Mount St. Helens.

Outside of the observatory,  the viewing deck provides spectacular views of the crater. You can also walk on lots of trails to observe the volcano from different vantage points. We were amazed that you can view the steam vents on the crater. It was a great reminder that Mount St Helen’s is still an active volcano.

The Crater
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Uprooted Tree
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Blast Path

Not long after the eruption, new life started returning to the area. Wildlife is roaming the land and new trees and plants are covering the area where the blast had left a barren landscape.  We were reminded on our visit that after a destruction there is always rebirth.

Majestic Mount St Helens

Thank you for reading about our adventure to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and have if you have any comments, please let me know. Happy Travels, Tava

A Day Trip to Mount St Helens(1)




Cabo San Lucas: A Surprise Birthday Trip


Cervezas and Beaches: What more to love?

To celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday,  I came up with a crazy idea. A surprise beach birthday trip to relax and get away.  We had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, so this quickly became the focus of my plan.  But where to go? When I was researching airfare, flights to Los Cabos were the lowest fares for early May. Also, Cabo San Lucas is home to all inclusives, beaches and  famous bars,  what better place to celebrate that milestone birthday!


Where is Los Cabos Located?

Los Cabos ia on the southwest part of Mexico, known as “Land’s End” for being located at the tip of the southern Baja California Peninsula. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the two towns that make up Los Cabos. Cabo San Lucas (where we stayed) is the more touristy of the two and home to the marina and close to the famous arch ‘El Arco’, whereas San Jose Del Cabo is a smaller and less touristy town. Both have lots of hotel and resorts to choose from.

The weather in Cabo is nice year round, ranging from the mid-70’s in the winter to the mid-90’s in the summer. The exception is that Cabo is prone to hurricanes. Mexico’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, but the country is at its highest risk of strong storms from August through October.

How to Get Around?

Some resorts offer free airport shuttle service, if your resort does not; you can take a taxi, shared airport shuttle or the local bus. Taxi service is pretty steep.  We opted to use the shared airport transportation with TransCabo. The prices were $45.00 per person for a round trip from airport to our resort. If you are on a very tight budget, it is possible to take the bus from the airport.


Where to Stay in Cabo?

We stayed at Riu Santa Fe, which we booked though hotels.com after comparing various hotels in the same budget. It appealed to us for the pool complexes, the location and the price. Pricing came out to be about $200.00 per night.  A bonus was a fully stocked mini bar, with water, soda, mixers and beer.

The Riu Santa Fe is a large resort and it has 2 main areas. One area is oceanfront whereas the other sits behind thar part of the property and it’s sister property, the Riu Palace. The oceanfront area has one large hotel building and also includes the lunch buffet, steak and mexican restaurants. If you want an ocean view make sure you book your room in this area.  The lobby sits on a large square plaza where the main buffet, shops, the Italian/Asian restaurant, the lobby bars, sport bar and the theater is located. After dinner every night we would end up in the plaza for drinks, live music and entertainment.

The Riu has two very large pool complexes one in each area of the property. The quieter pool is closer to the lobby with a large swim up bar area.  The other pool complex is oceanfront with 3 pool areas, two of which have swim up bars. This pool was the ‘party’ pool and where the daily pool activities were scheduled.

While the beach is gorgeous, it is not swimable. The waves are large and the undertow is pretty strong which makes swimming difficult. Also, the area is prone to riptides which are dangerous. Just take advantage of the 2 large pool areas for your swimming.


The staff was great! They always professional and ready to answer any questions. Our housekeeper kept our room spotless, our minibar stocked, flower and towel art decorations daily.  They even left a bottle of tequila for Mike on his birthday. The bartenders are friendly and make some great frozen drinks.


What to do?

Visit El Arco, Land’s End  and Lover’s Beach on a Glass Bottom Boat 

This is the best way to see all the major sights. We went to the Marina with the intention of hiring a water taxi to Lover’s Beach. Upon negotiating we were able to pay $12.00 for the two of us down from $40.00.  We were later told that was a great price. To our surprise we also ended up with a glass bottom boat tour of Land’s End, the Window to the Pacific and about 1 1/2 hours at Lover’s Beach. Our boat driver also fed the fish tortillas so we could see them though the glass at the bottom of the boat. He was also great in pointing out all the sea lions lounging on the rocks.

Lover’s Beach
Lover’s Beach is nestled on the Sea of Cortez side at the base of the rock formations of Land’s End. Its sister beach, Divorce Beach is located on the Pacific Ocean side and has turbulent waves. Swimming off of Divorce Beach is dangerous because of the rip currents.  The best way to reach the beaches are by a water taxi from the marina or your hotel.  You can also access Lover’s beach by kayak or stand-up paddle board. Bring whatever you’ll need for the day as there are no services.  We did have a few vendors selling beverages. It was a timing feat to get on and off the boat, so keep that in mind.

Sunset Catamaran Sail                                                                                                                        One of the prettiest sights of Cabo San Lucas is the sunset over the Pacific Ocean behind the  ‘El Arco’. There are a few companies that offer sunset catamaran rides.  We booked though Cabo San Lucas Tours.  They offered us light snacks and drinks during the cruise. I liked that they had a photographer on board that took photos that we could purchase if we wanted, but there was no pressure to do so.


What to Explore

The Marina                                                                                                                                                 With tons of shops, a large mall, restaurants, and bars, there is something for everyone at the Marina. Vendors  wander the are trying to sell you their services for diving, paddle boarding, jet sking, catamaran snorkeling and glass bottom boat tours. If you decide you want to sign up make sure you negotiate for the best prices.  The Puerto Paraiso Mall is a great place to pick up souvenirs in the air conditioning. There is a nice brewery called Baja Brewing Company located in the mall, great for a little stop during shopping.  There are lots of open air restaurants that you can people watch and grab a bite to eat.


Cabo’s Famous Bars                                                                                                                                         A few blocks away from the Marina, you will encounter shops and also some of the famous bars of Cabo San Lucas’s lively nightlife. Some of the bars are: Cabo Wabo, El Squid Roe, and the Giggling Marlin. Cabo Wabo is owned by Sammy Hagar, it’s a massive complex with multiple bars and stages where bands perform, often with Sammy making a surprise appearance. El Squid Roe is a one of the largest nightclubs in downtown and has three floors and keeps the party going. The Giggling Martin offers buckets of beer and you can be hung upside down like a catch of the day.


Best Beach Restaurant                                                                                                                                  If you are wanting an ocean view, with a great vibe, head past the Marina and towards the beach. You have to try the restaurant called the Office.  Tables are placed on the beach under tented awnings and your toes are in the sand. You can go our to the beach and also barter with vendors selling items on the beach. Order up some chips and guac and a bucket of cervezas.

Travel Tips

Don’t drink the tap water. Make sure any water and/or ice you are served is safe to drink.

Bathrooms are a bit differnet than in the States. In most places you don’t flush toilet paper; it must be neatly thrown away in the trash can in the stall, this is due to the lack of modern drains and sewage systems. Also carry some change with you, most public bathrooms will require a few coins to use the facilities.

Just remember Los Cabos may be on the ocean but it is also is in a desert and it is dry. Keep hydrated, and apply lots of sunblock regularly.

The streets are relatively safe, just watch out for the uneven pavement and sidewalks. Pickpockets are an occasional problem around town so be mindful and exercise caution. Use common sense if you are bar hopping at night.

Order a specialty coffee from the bar at your resort to take with you for early morning beach walks.

Plan on wanting to go back. You can never have enough beach relaxation!


Thanks for taking the time to read! If you have any tips for Cabo, please comment and let me know! Happy Travels, Tava