Weekend Trip

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec

It's not often I head into a new city without having done a significant amount of research. Montreal is a place I've always wanted to visit, but I didn't have a running list of places to go or things to see. All I knew that it held a lot of French history and culture, and since it's a much easier destination to get to than France itself, I figured Montreal would be a great place to moderately satisfy Paris wanderlust between transatlantic trips.

We picked up our Enterprise car rental late morning the day of our departure and drove five hours north from Boston. I was never loyal to a car rental company—I just always went with whatever was cheapest—until I realized Enterprise was the cheapest every time I searched. After renting from them so many times both traveling and at home in Seattle, I realized I was an Enterprise Plus member and almost always get a free upgrade from whatever car I requested online. I'm excited to work with Enterprise later on this year, and very glad we got to partner on this little east coast road trip.

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

Hôtel Place d'Armes was our home for the weekend (right around the corner from Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica where Celine Dion was married, a popular tourist spot), and I knew we made the right choice when we were greeted by cake pops in our stunning executive suite. I'm always ready for a late afternoon sugar fix. The room itself is very dark and moody, but it felt like it represented the city we discovered very well. Montreal, especially Old Montreal, has an elegance about it, and our first evening's activities fit right in. We drove into downtown and ate a hearty albeit average-tasting meal (I had pasta, Emily had a burger) at Upstairs Jazz Bar, but the vibes were just what we were after. We hung for an hour or so, at a back table next to the musicians who were up next or just finishing a set. Afterwards, we stopped next door at N sur Mackay for an early and delicious nightcap. 

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

We only had one full day in Montreal, and after I turned to my gracious Instagram friends for recommendations, the day filled up fast. Of course, it began with bagels at the famed St. Viateur Bagel bakery (sesame and rosemary were delicious—of course I got two!). Myriade coffee is right next door in the Mile End neighborhood, and is a light & bright coffee shop with a great cappuccino and pretty greenery. 

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

After that, we had about 12 shops to stop into on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. The shopping in Montreal is such a delight—even if the boutiques have some brands you've seen before in the States or elsewhere, the stores are arranged so beautifully and they all smell incredible. So many of them have truly unique housewares and trinkets. It would be easy to fill up an extra suitcase to bring home. Some standouts were Vestibule, Annex Vintage, and Général 54.

All along Boulevard Saint-Laurent, I was both surprised and delighted to find a ton of murals! If you're familiar with truelane, you'll know that I've spent the last two years becoming somewhat obsessed with murals and street art. It turns out Montreal has a huge arts community, and their own yearly mural festival, which I hope I get to go someday! There were so many pieces around every corner that I was borderline giddy, especially when I saw work by artists I recognized.

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

We stopped for a snack at Bar Darling before our next adventure for the day began: the Montreal Biodome. I am a big Olympics nerd, so seeing that they were able to take an arena that was built for track cycling for the 1976 Games and turn it into a wildlife experience that houses replicas of four ecosystems that are found in North America completes my wildest nerd dreams. Although I have severely mixed feelings about seeing animals in captivity, it was an interesting experience and incredible to see how they can transform and reuse an entire building that was built for one single purpose. The entire Olympic village is pretty interesting to walk around—the pool is still there and in use!

Emily and I also took what is probably the most hilarious picture of our friendship just before we went in to see the penguins.

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

The evening was reserved for exploring the beautiful and charming neighborhood of Old Montreal. Still craving my afternoon sugar rush, we stopped at an adorable and well-loved patisserie, Maison Christian Faure, for a snack before refreshing for dinner back at Hôtel Place d'Armes. The Mont Blanc was one to remember! We counteracted the afternoon indulgence by going to an all-vegan restaurant for our evening meal. LOV was just a ten-minute walk from the hotel and offered a great wine list and delicious food options. I had the veggie burger with fries while Emily decided on an Asian noodle bowl, and we split Brussels sprouts as an appetizer. Then, of course, neither of us had room for dessert. 

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

We did have room for one more nightcap though—cocktail culture in Montreal is just as serious as any other big city, and we had an amazing time at an unnamed speakeasy tucked underneath a pizza place. It has a hidden door in a brick wall that swings open when you apply pressure to the right brick. We had a great time playing cards and sipping cocktails, feeling like we had strolled straight into the 1920s. 

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

Before we set off on our Sunday drive back to Boston, we made one more important stop at the iconic brunch place, Arthur's Nosh Bar, which describes itself as "Jewish classics served with a twist and a whole lot of family pride." With a twist indeed—they were bumping top 40 rap tunes all morning. However, they have reason to be proud...I'll remember those cottage cheese pancakes for years to come. Until I go back, really. 

With just a few hours left in the city and needing to make room before poutine, we stopped at the highly recommended St. Joseph's Oratory for views of the city and an impressive pipe organ. Although it's barely a hundred years old, it's an impressive building and the largest church in Canada. Again, it was strange to have a list of recommendations that I hadn't made myself—I didn't know a single thing to expect before I arrived in Montreal. I didn't even know that all the signs would be exclusively in French! I was expecting it to be like an airport—one sign in French, and one right next to it in English. It was definitely an exercise in language and even driving, but one I hope I get to experience again very soon.

Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane
Weekend Trip: Montréal, Québec | truelane

Thanks to Hotel Place D'Armes and Enterprise for supporting out trip!




A Weekend in Redondo Beach

My third trip to California, I was entering new territory—Redondo Beach. I've spent most of my time in SoCal around Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Laguna Beach, so the coastal cities just outside of Los Angeles were unexplored territory. I was stoked to discover our gem of a hotel, The Redondo Beach Hotel, was right across the street from the beach. As soon as we pulled in to the parking lot, exhaustion from the flight was gone and my sister and I were ready for adventure.

Riding around on cruisers along the beach was the warmest welcome to Redondo Beach. I would know, I got sunburn all across my face! Elyse and I rode down to Captain Kidd's legendary fish market, where you can order basically any seafood you want, cooked any way you want. We had corn on the cob and French fries on the side with a cold beer to wash it down—I have never been more blissed out in my life. Biking there and back was the best way to wake up after a long flight!

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

 Our bikes from The Redondo Beach Hotel were super comfortable, and cost just a few dollars to take out for a couple hours. After lunch, we headed over to explore the bustling Redondo Beach pier. Everyone was out eating ice cream, churros, iced coffee and cotton candy. Elyse and I got gelato to keep our energy up before our next leg of cycling. 

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

The ride to Hermosa Beach is about eight minutes up the coast. I had just seen La La Land for the first time and recognized a ton of filming locations from the movie, which was an unexpected surprise. After a few hours of exploring, we zipped back to the hotel for their free Thursday happy hour. It takes place Monday-Thursday and includes free beer and wine, as well as snacks like trail mix, cheeses, charcuterie, hummus, and fruits!

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

There's nothing like a beach day to remind you that you're in California, so that was the plan for our next day in Redondo Beach. We packed up umbrellas, beach blankets, a few games to pass the time, and grabbed two of our best SoCal buds, Mik and Spencer, to spend the day with! The sand and waves in Redondo Beach are just about unmatched, and it was the perfect setting to spend some time with friends. Afterwards, we were so exhausted we headed back to the hotel to nap by the pool after stocking up on snacks and drinks.

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

Long days in the sun always leave my stomach rumbling, and Elyse and I were craving pizza like crazy. After looking up the best places nearby, we decided on Locale90 and watched the sun set just beyond our patio chairs. I've seen a lot of sunsets, and the one this night was the absolute most spectacular I've ever seen. The full spectrum of Roy G. Biv was in there. It was stunning!

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

For our last morning in Redondo, we enjoyed the hotel's continental breakfast at a lovely patio table. It was one of the better ones I've ever had—bagels, yogurt, waffles, cold cereals, oatmeal, fresh fruit...and don't forget, lots of hot coffee. However, we still had to visit the very popular ROMANAROMA cafe up the street...and let me tell you, it is not to be missed. I ordered an espresso con panna off the menu (just ask for a single espresso with ice and whipped cream on top!), and it was everything I wanted. They have a gorgeous and shaded patio space outside the light and bright interior, where Elyse and I finished our coffee before one last bike ride to the hotel to check out. I even made it on their Instagram page!

A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane
A Weekend in Redondo Beach | truelane

Some places have the power to truly transport you away from the doldrums of everyday life, and The Redondo Beach Hotel is one of them. The staff there is helpful and cheery, and a huge part of what makes it feel like such a home away from home! Although I don't normally get to wake up to balcony views of palm trees, a dazzling marina, and endless waves, The Redondo Beach Hotel makes it extra special.

Thank you to The Redondo Beach Hotel for hosting our stay.




Top 4 Fall Weekend Trips

This post is sponsored by Chase Ultimate Rewards. The content and opinions expressed below are that of truelane.

Photo:    Alex Ry

Photo: Alex Ry

Fall is commonly known as many people’s favorite season, unless starting a new school year feels like the end of the world to you. Either way, you can rest assured that there can be plenty of things to look forward to in autumn, including weekend trips. Autumn is too pretty a time of year to stay in one place, so I’ve rounded up four of my favorite destinations for weekend getaways in autumn for almost every corner of the States.

Top 4 Fall Weekend Trips | truelane

Leadville, Colorado

I favor this small mining town more than any other in the great and magnificent (and my second favorite) state of Colorado. There’s nothing like a spicy chai to give you fall feelings, and you won’t find one better than at City On A Hill Coffee. It’s still casual hiking season before the snow falls, so bundle up and walk one of the many beautiful trails that are within easy traveling distance from the center of town. If you get a cold and rainy day, there’s plenty of interesting shopping to keep away from the elements, such as renowned brand Melanzana, whose pieces are sewn right there in the store. Another great stop is the historic Delaware Hotel, where you’re bound to find something appropriately kitschy.

Top 4 Fall Weekend Trips | truelane

Camden, Maine

This city on the water has just as much to offer as its larger neighbor to the south—Portland—but much more charm, if you ask me. Camden has a less overwhelming tourist population, and even a beautiful viewpoint that’s easily accessible (as in driveable) from downtown Camden. Mount Battie’s view is almost too beautiful to leave, so make sure to set some time aside to explore the area and the historical lookout tower. Stay at the Camden Harbour Inn for a luxurious stay you probably will never forget. 

Duluth, Minnesota

This is the most popular destination up north for Minneapolis and St. Paul city slickers, and for good reason. Nestled along the shore of Lake Superior, Duluth boasts some of the most beautiful scenery you have e-v-e-r seen. (I’m probably not exaggerating when I consider that the exact introduction to a travel piece about Duluth has most likely been written somewhere already.) Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse are scenic stunners you don’t want to miss, as well as popular Canal Park. After strolling the Lakewalk, pop in to Fitger's for food right on the Lake Superior shore.

Photo:    Pinebird

Photo: Pinebird

Winthrop, Washington

Another historical mining town—but this time, in my home state—Winthrop is quite popular for its summer and winter activities, but there’s nothing quite like autumn in Washington state, so the scenery alone is worth a visit. On the northern tip of Methow Valley, you’ll find two beautiful rivers (the Chewuch and the Methow) running along the Western-themed town with wooden-sidewalked streets. Don’t miss the award-winning Old Schoolhouse Brewery after a tiring day on the stunning mountain bike trails!

Interested in booking travel? Learn more about trips through Chase’s professionally curated travel guides available to Chase Freedom®, Chase Sapphire and Ink® from Chase cardmembers through Ultimate Rewards®. Cardmembers also enjoy flexible rewards redemption options when booking through Ultimate Rewards. Not yet a Cardmember? Explore the cash back rewards of Chase Freedom® and new Freedom Unlimited® or the travel rewards of Chase Sapphire Preferred® What do you #LookForward to this fall?