HELLO
Mom to Iris. Wife to Todd. Our little family lives at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We love it here and I love sharing little bits of our life.

© 2014 sarahfortune.

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Category : Travel

TRAVEL LOVE: Loews Hollywood Hotel

You know what you just gotta do sometimes? Go on a little getaway to California. Being in Arkansas, I find myself usually exploring this half of the country, but man-oh-man is it worth it to branch out a every once in a while. I’ve been to the west coast quite a bit, but usually it’s for work and the journeys I’ve taken for fun were years ago. Recently though, we had the the opportunity to hop on a plane and be treated to a long weekend at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

We spent three glorious nights right in the heart of La La Land. As we left the hotel, the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame were under our feet and inside the Hollywood sign was in perfect view from our (two!) king beds. When we arrived, we were greeted with an early check-in along with some major goodies in our room.

Our first day we were a little tired from the early morning flight, so after a bite to eat we all took some much needed naps. Waking up refreshed, we took a little trip to the rooftop swimming pool and then ventured out to dinner. We hopped in a Lyft and explored a part of Hollywood with two dining spots I’ve been admiring from afar for quite a while: Au Fudge (Jessica Biel’s restaurant) for a little dessert before dinner and Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR (featured in my guilty pleasure, Vanderpump Rules). Checking those items off my bucket list, we headed back for a good night’s sleep at Loews.


The next day we woke up and explored the area around the hotel. There are shops, restaurants, world-famous theaters, and other excitement surrounding the property. Loews Hollywood is actually a preferred hotel partnered with Universal Studios, so after breakfast at a retro diner around the corner, we were off to spend the day riding rides and drinking Butterbeer!

Universal Studios exceeded our expectations by far. Iris is on the small, but brave side so I was afraid there would be things that she wanted to do, but wouldn’t be big enough for. Thankfully, she could ride almost everything. We were pleasantly surprised that the wait times weren’t bad at all, and of course the California weather was perfection. I had forgotten that so many of the rides were 3-D, which was such a cool, unique experience.

Of course we had to stop by The Simpson’s Krusty Burger for lunch (and a Duff Beer!) and take the studio tour, but the main attraction for Iris was Harry Potter World. She has recently gotten into the movies, so our very first stop was for a Butterbeer, while our last stop of the day was for a wand at Ollivanders. One of the coolest things in Harry Potter world is that there is some legit magic in these wands. There are certain spots where you can stand, do a spell and actually make things move. After a very magical day, we headed back to the home at Loews where we had dinner in the hotel lounge, H2 Kitchen & Bar. It was exactly what we needed – a relaxing, yet delicious ending to our busy day.

The next morning after we slept in a bit, we grabbed coffee and breakfast from Bodega (the cutest little hotel shop, fully stocked with everything from wine to fresh fruit). From there, we headed over to the Santa Monica Pier because you can’t go to California without seeing the ocean! It was another gorgeous day so we explored the pier and dipped our toes in the pacific. From there, we made a spur of the moment decision to rent bikes and ride along the boardwalk to Venice Beach. I got quite a sunburn, which I’m still nursing, but it was well worth it.

On our last night, we wanted to stay around and enjoy the luxury of our hotel. We had an early morning flight and wanted to soak in the last hours in the comfort of our home for the weekend. There is so much to do, to see, to eat, to drink, to play, and so on – all right there. I only wish we had more time. Guess that means we’ll just have to venture back that way sometime soon..

Special thanks to the Loews Hollywood Hotel for hosting our stay! While our experience was sponsored, all opinions are my own.

California Bound!

As a parent, there’s nothing more fun than to surprise your kid with awesomeness. So when we booked a trip to California, we kept it a secret for a little while and told her that in two weeks, we’d be packing our bags and heading to the west coast. Our besties at the Loews Hollywood Hotel are hosting us and we’re going to explore Universal Studios while we’re there (Iris is a recent Harry Potter fanatic, so she’s super pumped). Here’s a little video of how we told her! She’s just starting to read, so I thought it would be fun for her to sound it. As for Cali – any other places we must visit? We can’t wait to explore!

TRAVEL LOVE: 21C Museum Hotel

Iris and I ventured just 30 minutes away from our home in Fayetteville and treated ourselves to a mini girls’ getaway right here in Arkansas. I’ve been dying to experience a 21c Museum Hotel since I first heard about them, so when they offered us a media rate to stay this past Saturday, I knew it was meant to be. Todd was backpacking through the wilderness for the weekend, so I thought Iris and I would have our own (much more comfortable) adventure. We were given the Kids Exploration Package, which included tickets to The Amazeum and even milk and cookies delivered to our room!

Speaking of our room, there were plenty of restaurants and shops to walk to, but I would have been perfectly happy staying put right there for the entire time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I’m a bit of a hotel snob. Through my work and blogging travel I’ve gotten to experience the best of the best and I’ve really grown to appreciate a good hotel.

The beauty of 21c is that the hotel also doubles as an art museum. There are things to experience and take in throughout the building, like our favorites – the huge green penguins that mysteriously always seemed to be moving around the property when we weren’t looking. There’s also The Hive restaurant and bar, which made a killer pomegranate lemonade for Iris and of course had plenty of wine for me. Our package also came with an I spy card, which was a nice way to explore the hotel with a kiddo.

While certainly tempted, we didn’t stay locked in our room the entire time. We had a lovely brunch and dinner just a short walk away, a fun-filled trip to The Amazeum, and of course we had take the short stroll on the Art Trail to Crystal Bridges. The entire weekend was perfect – the location, the weather, and of course the company. As sad as I sometimes get realizing how big my only “baby” is, it’s so amazing seeing her bloom into such a lovely girl and share experiences like this past weekend with her.

While I did pay a media rate to write about my stay, all opinions are all my own.

March Adventures

I’m fresh off the heels of one of the busiest weeks of my job – our annual meeting. After lots of preparation, we jetted off to the beaches Hilton Head, South Carolina. While it sounds lovely (and it was), we were too swamped making sure the meeting was going as planned to truly enjoy our setting. I did manage to survive giving two presentations, one of which was an hour long of just me and a PowerPoint up at a podium. I made it back that Friday evening, just in time to keep my bags packed and hit the road bright and early Saturday to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was my mom’s 65th birthday and she suggested an afternoon betting on the ponies at Oaklawn. Who was I to turn that down?! As exhausted as I was, it was well worth the quick trip. I even won on every race I bet on, except for one – but during that race I found 20 bucks on the ground.

After another week in the office, we were off again on another adventure the very next weekend. Our neighbors rented the sweetest, coziest little cabin in Jasper, Arkansas for the weekend and invited us along. Less than two hours from our house, it was an easy trip that forced me into a bit of needed relaxation. We even got our first (and hopefully last) snow of the season.

Now that we’re back from that little getaway, our schedule is settling down and I don’t think I’m traveling again until next month. We of course already have our annual Rosemary Beach trip booked, so I’ve already begun counting down the days. In case you’re wondering, it’s 67 days away – but not soon enough.

TRAVEL LOVE: Eureka Springs

Last week I had a long weekend from work, so we decided to do a little something different. After looking at the (amazing) weather forecast, we drove the short hour to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and spend some time wandering the winding streets. With Iris in tow, we packed a small over night bag, booked a room at the Basin Park Hotel and were on our way.

After we checked into our room, I did a quick Google search because I had heard rumors that our hotel was haunted. Before I could even finish typing “Basin Park Hotel haunted,” OUR ROOM NUMBER popped up as a search option. That’s right, we were about to spend the night in one of the most haunted rooms at the property. I don’t get spooked out by things like that, but I do like to have fun with it, so I kept an eye out all night for spirits or orbs or whatever it may be, but sadly – we had no visitors during our stay.

The location of the Basin Park is perfect for a couple of reasons. One, it’s smack dab in the middle of downtown, so once you arrive, everything is within walking distance. Also, it’s next to (obviously) Basin Park. This park just so happens to be where Todd and I got engaged oh-so-many years ago. One cold January night, we walked up to the stage that overlooks the park and he got down on one knee. Beforehand, we even had dinner at the Basin Park Hotel, but until last weekend we never had stayed the night.

As for exploring Eureka, we walked around, popping into cute little stores and candy shops. Iris LOVED finding these little Eureka Springs Rocks around town. Apparently folks paint rocks and leave them out and about for people to find, then keep or re-hide. It was a fun little game for Iris to play throughout the day and it kept her entertained. Eating brunch at Local Flavor, drinks at Brews, and dinner at Grotto, we were full and happy by the end of the day. Ready to sleep tight with the ghosts. The entire little downtown is so adorable, I found myself snapping photos at every turn, so here are some photos from our mini-getaway!

Our stay at the Basin Park Hotel