The 5 Very Best Disneyland Restaurants

Updated: This post originally appeared in 2013 and I am updating it now, in October 2018.

I have had the pleasure of going to Disneyland 3 times, and all three times were for runDisney races. We stayed for 4 nights each time and had the opportunity to eat at some fabulous restaurants. I don’t want to make one post per restaurant or go into a ton of detail, but I wanted to share with you all my favorite five table service Disneyland area restaurants and why I loved them. I hope you find a new favorite from my very best Disneyland restaurants list!

best Disneyland restaurants

1.) Napa Rose: Hands down the best meal we have had at Disneyland Resort. It reminded me somewhat of Citrico’s in WDW which I love. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was relaxing but sophisticated. We ate here the last night of our trip on two separate vacations, and it was a great way to cap off a wonderful time. Don’t miss this one! They had a great steak for this meat lover.

NapaRose

2.) Blue Bayou: This one wins the top prize for best theming. What a cool idea to have a ride (Pirates of the Carribean) pass by the guests eating at the restaurant. The theming is amazing, and it feels like you are outside under the stars, on the bayou eating dinner. We loved the ambiance and the food was good for this Cajun girl, too. We asked to be seated by the water, (you may have to wait a little longer but worth it!) and got to watch the boats full of riders float by into the ride.

BlueBayou

3.) Steakhouse 55: This restaurant is a fancy place at the Disneyland Hotel. It has a beautiful waiting area and the restaurant itself is quite swanky, reminiscent of old Hollywood. The food was top notch here, I would put it as second best in the food category food under Napa Rose.  The mac n’ cheese was amazing. order it. Seriously. Another reason to stay on property. We just walked over from the Grand Californian for dinner. So easy!

DisneylandHotel

4.) Café Orleans: Café Orleans is a quaint little place in the Orleans Square section of Disneyland park with an adorable outdoor eating area. I love that the weather in southern California is so mild that there is lots of outdoor seating at Disneyland. We sat outside and people watched and ate gumbo and other goodies under an umbrella. it was peaceful, and a perfect lunch spot. This says a lot coming from a New Orleans native who is usually very critical of places claiming to be “New Orleans-Y.” The Monte Cristo sandwich is to die for, but is very rich, so be warned!

CafeOrleans

5.) Storyteller’s Café: This was the first dinner we eat after arriving in Disneyland. It is at the Grand Californian where we typically stay and is a fun way to kick off the trip. Bobby loves a good buffet, and this one while not huge, had a lot of delicious food that we both love. It has a light and childlike atmosphere while still being beautiful! If you aren’t staying at the hotel this would be a great opportunity to check out the beautiful grounds.

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QOTD: Have you eaten at any of these places? Which one looks the more appealing to you? Do you have a different Disneyland favorite?

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

Update: This post on 5 Tips for Running When you Travel first appeared in 2015, and I have now updated it, in October of 2018. 

If you are anything like me, you might make excuses when you are traveling for why you can’t go for a run. I have used every logic possible to talk myself out of a run, but in the end, I always regret not running when I travel. When I’m traveling, no matter if it’s by car or air, I always tend to eat more unhealthy than I do at home, and I’m sitting more than I do at home, so if there was ever a time I needed to run, traveling is when it is! So below I have compiled 5 Tips for running when you travel. Enjoy!

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

1.) Research the area: It’s not wise to just take off running from your hotel without knowing a bit about the area. Maybe you could even try to connect with local runners on social media and ask them their favorite routes. Traveling is a great time for exploring a new place! Maybe find a route that has a convenience store you can stop at along the way for a bottle of water, or a park with a scenic trail. Remember, knowledge is power!

2.) Pack well: I know there are a million thoughts going in and out of your head when trying to pack for a trip, and thinking about running gear may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have everything you need all together in one bag you may be more likely to actually go for a run when you reach your destination. I bring a drawstring bag with my GPS watch, headbands, GU, body glide, sunglasses*, etc. whenever I travel so there is no excuse and no rummaging around in my suitcase. Then it’s just a matter of throwing in a couple running outfits and my shoes!

3.) Be safe: Always tell someone where you plan to run and what time you will be back, even if it’s a text to a friend or a front desk worker at the hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings! If you listen to music, make sure you can still hear your surroundings. You need to be on the lookout, especially in a bigger city where you may be crossing streets or around a lot more cars.

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Stopped at a crosswalk on a group run in Boston at the Healthy Living Summit.

4.) Make time: This is a big one for me! Travel wears me out y’all. The last thing I want to do after a long day of driving or flying is lace up my running shoes! It is important to look at your schedule and pencil in a time to hit the hotel gym or run the roads, or it may not actually happen. Sometimes the only available time is late at night, but it’s a good excuse to get out of your boring hotel room.

5.) Call the hotel: Hotel workers are your friend! Usually, they are super knowledgeable of the area, and can hopefully tell you areas you should probably avoid, or a place where runners go on the weekend to log some longer miles. They may even be able to give you the number of a local running store you can call for help as well. It never hurts to ask!

Thanks for checking out my 5 Tips for Running When you Travel.

QOTD: What is your best tip for running in a new place? To you venture outside or stick to the hotel gym?

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through my link I receive a small commission.

Walt Disney World Recap Video September 2018 Part 2

You may have seen part one of my Walt Disney World Recap Video September 2018.

Well, I am back with part two of our trip! Check out the video below for all the Disney fun, and be sure to hit “subscribe” so you don’t miss any videos on my channel. I would venture to say that Emma Kate had the time of her life.

 

 

We love Disney in the fall, the Halloween Party, Food and Wine Festival, and decorations are all amazing. Now we can’t wait for the Christmas decorations! (Ok, maybe we can wait until after Halloween!) What is your favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World?

Tips for an Adults Only Disney Trip

Update: This post on tips for an adults only Disney trip originally appeared in 2016, but I have updated it for 2018. Thanks for reading!

It’s no secret I love Walt Disney World. When I tell some of my friends my husband and I are going alone to Walt Disney World for the weekend without Emma Kate, they look at like I’m crazy. Why would I want to spend my adults only time with a bunch of kids? That’s when I get to explain our “Disney style”, and how it’s very different than a trip would look with Emma Kate in tow. While trips with her are super special and so much fun, there are “other ways” to tour the world as well.

Tips for an adults only Disney trip

So, here are my top five tips for an adults-only Disney trip, and maybe you will then see why we find our time in Disney so relaxing and enjoyable.

1.) Go Deluxe: I know it’s not in everyone’s budget, but if you can swing it (go at a cheaper time of year, use discounts, save up for a year etc.) I recommend staying at a deluxe resort, and if you save lots of pennies, splurge on a club level stay. I have stayed club level at all the Disney resorts, and it is truly a special treat. Honestly, it’s not worth it if you plan to jump up every morning, grab breakfast at the park, and stay gone until bedtime, but if you want to enjoy Disney at a leisurely pace, it’s the way to go. (Think: continental breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, wine and appetizers in the evenings, cordials and desserts at night.) Plus a lounge for you to sit in and read a book, chat with family members, or simply use it as a meeting spot. There are also dedicated cast members who help just club level guests with questions, dining reservations, and more. We love to eat and relax so it works for us!

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Even if you can’t splurge for club level, I recommend a deluxe resort if you plan to take things slow and spend time at your resort. Deluxe resorts have the best pool areas, lobbies, and food options, so there is plenty to do just soaking up the theming.

Even if you can’t splurge for club level, I recommend a deluxe resort if you plan to take things slow and spend time at your resort. Deluxe resorts have the best pool areas, lobbies, and food options, so there is plenty to do just soaking up the theming.

2.) Less park days: Here is where you can actually save some money. If you are going for a week, only get 4-5 days of park tickets and spend your other days doing things around your resort,  or even visiting the other resorts on property. There is plenty to do, which leads me to the next tip…

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3.) Beyond the Theme Parks: Since you have a couple of “free days” with no park tickets, take time to explore some of the lesser-known Disney fun such as Disney Springs, miniature golf, water parks, going fishing or parasailing, or enjoy tea at the Grand Floridian. I actually wrote two blog posts a while back about things to do beyond the theme parks. You can check them out here and here. Check out the awesome cabanas you can rent pictured below if you are at the Contemporary!

 Adults Only Disney Trip

4.) Sit on a bench: I know this sounds silly, but to this day it is one of my favorite things to do in Disney. People watching. I love grabbing Starbucks and finding a bench or laying in the hub grass at Magic Kingdom, and just watching the crowds go by while soaking up the Disney atmosphere. I feel like so many people rush from one ride to the next, that they don’t always take the time to really just soak in the fact that they are in Disney World! Stop and take a break and just be for a little while on your next trip. Grab some popcorn or a drink and just savor the moment.

 Adults Only Disney Trip

5.) Eat. A lot: I know everyone eats more on vacation, but when you are traveling with small kids, you typically don’t eat at fancy table service restaurants enjoying four-course meals. It’s more of let’s stick some chicken nuggets in your mouth and move on before they have a meltdown. This is your chance to enjoy some of the nicer restaurants, just taking your time and enjoying your vacation and the atmosphere. Some of my favorites are: California Grill, Narcoossees, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Citricos, and Artist Point. Be sure to schedule in a lot of time to sit and eat nice dinners, or even nice breakfasts and lunches, too! Whatever you want, it’s your vacation!

This was on our honeymoon! Babies!

These are just some of my tips for planning an adults only WDW vacation. The key is to relax and enjoy without feeling like you need to be somewhere every five minutes. That doesn’t sound very relaxing and enjoyable to this girl. You earned those vacation days my friend, and you don’t have to have your kids with you to enjoy Walt Disney World. Have fun!

 Adults Only Disney Trip

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite tip for an adults only Disney trip?

Disney’s Art of Animation: Cars Family Suite

Disclosure: I attended a #DisneyKids media event at Disney’s Art of Animation resort in a Cars family suite with most expenses paid, however, all opinions are my own.

Walt Disney World is all about kids and families, so it was no surprise to me a few years ago when the building of the family suites at Art of Animation was announced. Sleeping six, it was to be a more affordable way for larger families to all stay in one room, (or for smaller families like ours to just have some more space and privacy.)

Cars family suite at Disney's Art of Animation resort

The larger than life iconic characters situated throughout the resort, plus fun names like the “big blue (Nemo) pool” and a bar aptly named “The Drop Off,” all make for an adorable family-friendly resort option for those visiting the land of the mouse.

There are four distinct areas at the resort: The Little Mermaid standard rooms, and then three sets of family suites modeled after Finding Nemo, the Lion King, and Cars. We were given a Cars family suite in building one on the third floor, and I have to say, for someone who admittedly loves the deluxe resorts at Disney, I fell in love with this resort. All it took was seeing my daughter’s face light up as she recognized character after character for me to be sold.

cars family suite

We took photos with all the vehicles of cars fame, just like we were standing in line for characters at the theme parks. She ran down the streets of Radiator Springs, and took a dip in the Big Blue Pool. (Note: there is a pool at the Cars section but it wasn’t as ‘hoppin as the main/Nemo pool.)

We had our car, so we were able to park directly behind our building which was nice. We took the elevator up to the 3rd floor and immediately noticed so many fun themed touches such as colorful carpets and traffic cones as lights outside the doors.

We used our Magic Bands to open the door, and were greeted with a very spacious suite with so many fun Disney touches. There are two full bathrooms in the suite, one in the living/dining area, and then one in the master which makes getting ready in the morning a breeze.

The sofa in the living room folds out into a bed for two, and there is a TV as well as a kitchenette complete with refrigerator, coffee pot, and microwave. They even had paper bowls and plates stocked and ready for us.

The coolest part of the suite is the table. It has four chairs around it, and at night, you can pull it down and it turns into a bed that can sleep two. This is where Emma Kate slept and she loved having her own little space.

We admittedly pack way too much when we travel, so it was nice having wall space to put our stuff without constantly tripping over it. Also, Emma Kate goes to bed pretty early, so being able to put her to bed then go into the master and shut the door to give her more time to sleep was awesome. At nap time, we put her in our bed and we hung out in the living room, so everyone was able to get the rest they needed in the Cars family suite.

Our floor was very quiet, and it was just a quick walk over to the lobby to eat, grab a bus, or go to the pool and shops. We loved the location of the resort as well, as it was super close to Disney Springs and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

I never thought I would say this, but when traveling with my four-year-old, I think I would prefer staying in an Art of Animation family suite over a regular room at a deluxe resort simply for the space and the fact that it seems the most “Disney” themed through the eyes of a child. When I’m in Disney World with my daughter, it’s all about her, and they are only little for so long, yall. I want to watch her fall in love with what I grew up with, over and over and over again. The thought and imagination put into the Art of Animation resort gives me just that, and I’m so grateful. We loved our stay in a Cars family suite and will definitely be back!

Check out this video room tour from our Cars family suite:

 

Related: 5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

5 Things Friday XXXIV

Hello my lovely friends! It’s September, fall is in the air…wait, no. I live in Florida. Fall is most definitely not in the air, but hurricanes are. More on that later. I wanted to play catch up with another 5 things Friday post for you all before we head into this weekend. I’m traveling all day today but I wanted to make sure I was able to say hello! You can still catch me over on IG stories and Twitter (@HeathersLG)

So here are 5 things for this Friday:

1.) Another cruise post: I’m still enjoying reminiscing about my time onboard the Carnival Horizon earlier in the summer. Bobby and I loved the new ship and had an amazing time in Bermuda. one thing I loved about the Horizon was all the places to sit and relax. This post talks about some of my favorites!

2.) Toy Story Land FAM: Coming up this time next week is a preschooler Toy Story Land media FAM, (as long as there are no hurricanes) and I was pumped to find out we will be staying at Art of Animation! I have toured this resort twice before on other media trips, but never have I actually called it home for a night, so we are pumped to test drive a family suite for two nights!

3.) MNSSHP: As part of the media trip mentioned above, we will be taking Emma Kate to the Halloween party! If there is anything, in particular, you want pictures of videos of, let me know!

4.) EK’s birthday month: September also means Emma Kate’s birthday month! I can’t believe in less than three weeks I will have a 4-year-old. She is SO ready and has been asking when her birthday is for months now. Poor baby just can’t wait to grow up, no matter how many times I tell her adulting is not fun. Wasn’t I just pregnant? Wasn’t she just learning to crawl? All the feels.

5.) Hurricane watch: As previously alluded to, it’s that special time of year (late August/September) when all the hurricanes come out to play. Almost to the date, we were evacuating hurricane Irma last year, and the tropics are getting all fired up once more. Praying we are able to dodge a bullet once again because after the stress of evacuating last year, I highly doubt we would do it again. Say a prayer these bad boys just stay out at sea and dissipate!

Sunset Inn & Cottages for Families of all Sizes

I recently wrote a post about our fabulous stay at Sunset Inn and Cottages in Treasure Island, Florida. We stayed in the Sunkissed cottage which was the perfect size for us. However, I wanted to make sure to also highlight other sizes of accommodations available at this property that may fit your family a little better. First off, The Inn. This is actually attached to the office and all of the rooms are in the same building. This is great if you are more on a budget or only need space for two people and want a more traditional hotel room set up. However, several of the rooms have connecting doors, so you could always rent side by side rooms to sleep more people.

These two rooms are inn rooms but are also connecting. They each have a queen bed as well as fridge and coffee maker. There is storage space in the little back hallway and a TV.

There is also a bathroom in each room, stocked with towels for your stay.

Another option for those with a bit of a larger family would be a cottage such as the MacDill. This cottage has a similar set up to the one we stayed in, except it has an extra bedroom, and sleeps six people. I am also in love with its cute little front porch!

The sofa folds out to a bed just like in our cottage.

The difference is off the master is the second bedroom, with two twin beds.

Just enough space to sleep, and then spend the day enjoying the beach!

How adorable is this little table? This cottage also has a full kitchen just like ours did. Side note, while the sofa bed technically sleeps two, I wouldn’t put two adults on it, as it would be a tight fit, but two kids would do just fine!

I’m so glad we had the opportunity to check out the other accommodations at Sunset Inn and Cottages. Great for families of all sizes and literally just steps from the beautiful beach. Check out the website for availability and pricing.

Relax on the Carnival Horizon

Disclosure: We sailed on a media cruise with Carnival, however, all opinions are my own.

When I think about vacation and cruising, in particular, I think about doing a lot of relaxing. Relaxing to me usually means sitting down, chatting with friends and family, and enjoying each others company. One of my favorite things that I noticed about the Carnival Horizon is that there are so many places to sit and relax throughout the ship. There are of course restaurants and bars, but then there are fun little nooks and places to hang out and enjoy a drink or two…or more. Below are 10 of my favorite places onboard:

  1. Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse bar: I love these adorable bar stools and the drinks here are super popular.

2. The Piano Bar: This space is open to the steakhouse until late at night then it gets a little more lively!

3. Alchemy Bar: Best drinks on the ship hands down. Also, a great spot to people watch.

4. Bonsai: Sushi lovers rejoice! This is another great people watching spot and has some awesome views out the windows as well.

5. Lobby atrium: This is where a lot of the action is happening! There are several places to sit amongst the shops and this area is also where you will find guest services as well as computers and printers.

6. Guy’s Pig and Anchor: Only open sometimes, this quick service place has sweeping ocean views and a fun atmosphere (and great food!) Feel free to hang out and take a seat even when they aren’t open for meals.

7. Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse seating area. This is next to the bar area and is a fun addition to the ship.

8. Havana pool area: During the day this area is only accessed by those staying in the Havana rooms, but after 7:00 anyone can come back and soak in a gorgeous sunset or a drink at the bar.

9. Havana bar area: This area is super fun and colorful with great music. So many cute little places to sit as well. Very popular spot at night!

10. Serenity adults-only area: This was my favorite. Grabbing one of these shaded couches with a good book and ocean views is where you could find me on sea days. Fair warning, they fill up in the morning so don’t miss out!

There are so many more fun spots not mentioned here, but this is just to show that there are way more places to sit and relax than your stateroom or directly by the pool. I think it’s really fun to find new hidden places on the ship as the cruise goes on. There is so much to explore on the Horizon! 

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 4

Disclosure: I was invited to a 3-night media event by Walt Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

(Check out day 123 and 3 part 2 before reading this one!)

On day 4 of our trip, the media FAM was over, but Disney was kind enough to give us park tickets so we could have one more day of fun before heading home. We decided to go to Toy Story Land for the very first time and I’m so glad we did!

We checked out of the Boardwalk and drove over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to make our way to the brand new area. It is SO adorable and has so many fun details. We were able to ride Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers (three times) and Toy Story Mania. We were not able to eat at Woody’s Lunchbox, but that just means we have to go back.

Related: The Walls of Toy Story Land

Emma Kate did NOT want to do Slinky Dog Dash, so Bobby and I took turns riding it and taking her on AlienSwillingg Saucers which she loved.

 

 

She screamed (happy scream) the whole time.

 

I adored all the little hidden nooks and areas with cute theming. Be sure to look for Andy’s footprint on the ground and the backyard fence off in the distance. The exit que of Toy Story Mania is really cute too, so even if you aren’t riding the ride be sure to go check it out (near the giant Pixar ball).

Slinky Dog Dash was a lot of fun and just the right amount of thrill for me. The que was really cute as well, but it was really warm as there isn’t much shade in the longer parts of the line.

A must for photo opps is the giant sign as you enter. There was a photopass photographer hanging around when we went by.

Also, the restroom was really cute, it’s in the back to the left of the land.

We ate lunch at Sci-Fi but I don’t have any pictures since it’s pretty dark in there. It was nice to sit in the air conditioning for a while before going back out again. Before we left we got pictures with Donald which was a great way to cap off the trip. Little miss slept the whole way back to Tampa, so I would say the trip was a success. Thanks so much, Disney!

 

Staycation at Sunset Inn and Cottages

Disclosure: We were provided with a 3 nights stay at Sunset Inn and Cottages, however, all opinions are my own.

One of the great things about living in Florida is being able to vacation in our own backyard. The Tampa Bay area is huge, so even though we only live less than an hour away, we had yet to venture to the Treasure Island area since we have lived here. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long! We had an amazing staycation at a hidden gem of a property called Sunset Inn and Cottages.

Sunset Inn and Cottages

Sunset Inn and Cottages is located in a quiet residential area of Treasure Island, FL. There were hardly any cars, and we were just a couple hundred yards from the ocean which was amazing! Right across from the cottages and Inn at the beach access is a pavilion, bathrooms, and a playground (which we visited many times). It’s partially covered which was awesome considering it’s August! I knew I was immediately going to love this place when we walked up to check in and I saw this little free library. How fun and perfect for the beach.

Our home for the next few days was the Sunkissed cottage. It had a queen bedroom, pull out sofa sleeper, one bathroom, and a full kitchen. It was the perfect size for our little family! This particular cottage is also pet-friendly. Another huge bonus is that we had our own covered parking space next to our cottage. Beach parking can be dicey so knowing we always had a place was so nice.

Sunset Inn and Cottages

Our cottage had cozy wood floors, a full refrigerator and freezer, and plenty of lighting.

There were even books and games in the cottage! There was cable TV and free wifi as well.

The kitchen was fully stocked with plates, cups, utensils, and more.

The bathroom wasn’t huge and there was no sink space, but it was just fine for a few days. There was a counter right outside the bathroom in the hall that we used to put our toiletries on instead.

The bedroom had a place to hang and store clothing (not pictured) as well as a little chair.

There was also a dining table and four chairs which was great for lunches in the afternoons. You can see in the left corned of the photo below, the cottage will rent you out beach chairs and an umbrella so you don’t have to bring your own!

Below you can see the extra linens they left for Emma Kate’s pull out sofa sleeper.

We were also provided with towels and washcloths (in the green bin below) to use during our stay.

There are also two adorable courtyards on the property with chairs and tables for your enjoyment. 

Below is the second courtyard. You can see our little orange Sunkissed cottage in the background.

Related: Ultimate Beach packing List

Below you can see just how close we were to the beach. There is a stop sign in the photo, and the beach is just right on the other side of the road. It’s not a busy road at all, and we hardly saw any cars.

The Inn portion is connected to the office and has a courtyard in front of it as you can see below.

 

We had such a fabulous time, and the beach was VERY quiet. Sunday there were a few more people out since the weather wasn’t great on Saturday, but Monday was practically empty. I went for a run on the beach in the morning and it was so serene and just what I needed to start the day.

 

 

We did a lot of sand castle building and shell collecting as well.

 

 

One more thing, Sunset Inn and Cottages is very aptly named, as I was blown away by the amazing evening sunsets. We would take a quick 30-second stroll to the beach from our cottage around 8:15 and were treated to the most gorgeous sky. Emma Kate loved playing in the waves in the evening, and it was a spectacular way to end the day each night.

 

For availability and pricing, be sure to check out the Sunset Inn and Cottages website. There are several cottages to choose from as well as regular Inn rooms (more on those later). You can also host a wedding or event at this property. A huge thanks to them for hosting us and for the hospitality. We will be back!