We New Yorkers just love to go off about the hot summers and frigid winters but let’s be real. We live in the best place because we get to experience seasons! They break up the year, give us something to look forward to and come with their own slew of fun unique activities. As much as I’m missing the warmth of summer, I’m so excited about the fall. Fresh crisp air, crunching leaves, pumpkins, apple picking, sweaters, candles, beautiful foliage, Halloween and of COURSE wineries!
I just visited Warwick Winery in upstate New York and had the most relaxing day. Here’s what you can find at this cozy winery
On the outdoor patio for only $6, you can sample up to 5 wines in a beautiful Warwick Winery wine glass that you get to keep! They also do tastings for ciders and spirits. My favorite was their white Harvest Moon. Just be sure to get there earlier in the day because it can get pretty busy.
A tractor picks you up at the winery and takes you on a ride to the apple orchard. There’s all different types of apples and the tractor ride plus 20-25lbs of apples cost $30. The best part is OBVIOUSLY the bag of apple cider donuts! $6 for 5!
This winery is loaded with different food options. They have a grill with things like burgers and BBQ and lord help us, truffle fries. They also have a homemade ice cream truck, and all different kinds of delicious pizza. The pizza lines can get crazy so I suggest packing some snacks while you wait so your hanger doesn’t cause you to smash every wine glass in the place. Just me? Ok then!
Enjoy your wine and pizza with some fun live music, and after a few glasses you’ll be joining the rest of the drunken dancers up in the front!
Take Your Favorite Wine Home
Pick up your favorite wine from the store inside, they are all under $17! Put up your feet and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home!
There’s also a lot of pumpkin patches along the way to the winery if you want to add pumpkin picking to your day!
This past November the musical I tour with headed to St. Louis to perform at the Westport Playhouse for a week. Other than passing briefly through when I was 7, I had never spent time in St. Louis and wasn’t expecting much. Since we only had shows in the evenings, we had the entire day to explore and I was truly delighted by all the great things there were to experience (and eat of course!)
1. Pappy’s Smokehouse (Memphis style BBQ)
Now, now now. I’m getting a tad emotional as I write this. The meal I had at Pappy’s was some of the best BBQ I have ever laid my hands on. They have all the meats, in sandwiches, in platters whatever way you want. I got the “Pick Two,” and chose brisket and pulled pork. Just two gigantic piles of meat on tray. I also got the beans and sweet potato fries on the side. Tender is an understatement. It was all so juicy and flavorful I barely needed to put anything on it, although their Pappy’s original BBQ sauce was a phenomenal addition. The gals and I went all in on an enormous Frito pie with burnt ends. Crunchy, meaty and delicious, this Frito pie was my first and will definitely be a hard act to follow. The line gets long very quickly and they sell out fast so get there before 4!
2. Brunch at Turn
If you’re looking for fresh local and delicious food, Turn has got you covered. The restaurant itself is beautiful with tall windows that allow the sunlight to shine through the entire place. (Great lighting for those insta shots!) The walls, covered in vinyl art reflect Chef David Kirkland's former DJing days. One of my favorite items on the menu was their biscuit flight. You get to try four of their house made biscuits paired with different butters and jams! Coincidentally there is a great vinyl shop upstairs (separate from the restaurant). Definitely worth checking out after brunch! Check out Turn’s menu below.
3. Head to Westport Social
We performed our musical in The Westport Plaza which lucky for us is also home to the awesome bar/restaurant Westport Social. This huge industrial looking space has it all. Giant TV screens playing every football game, other TVs screening movies, a karaoke room upstairs and great food! Sit back, order a burger and enjoy the game. Or you know, Terminator 2.
4. Eat Toasted Ravioli
Apparently fried ravioli, referred to as “toasted ravioli,” was created in St. Louis and is still a staple on many menus. I ordered some delicious fried lobster ravioli at Westport Social and tapped out after two. Those little guys are quite hefty. I also heard a lot about an Italian area called the Hill with great restaurants. I didn’t have a chance to check it out but there is a restaurant called Mama’s on the Hill that has a spaghetti and meatball challenge. It’s 4.5 pounds of Spaghetti with Mama’s marinara, topped with a two pound meatball. I am truly sad I missed this! If you get a chance to do this challenge let me know how it went!
5. City Museum
This place is truly a work of art and and a total funhouse experience. Everything in this 600,000 square foot old shoe factory is made with recyclable materials from the city of St. Louis itself. Crawling on old chimneys, bridges, abandoned planes and beautiful multi colored tiles makes you feel like a kid again, even when you come face to face with an actual kid. Ain’t no shame! There’s a small area for a circus with extremely talented performers, a bar for adults that sell local beer you can only find in St. Louis, and my absolute favorite part, a ten story slide! Need to get to the 1st floor from the 3rd? Take a slide instead of the stairs! There’s old organs playing fun music as you duck and dive around this amazing sustainable Disneyland. Sculptor Bob Cassilly is a genius and this place is a must see.
6. Visit the Forest Park Area
This beautiful plot of land is a nonprofit conservancy that is maintained through donors and volunteers. Basically it means FREE ADMISSION! I could not believe all the amazing things we had access to without paying a dime:
A. The Science Center
Dinosaurs, King Tut, using your mental energy to move a marble across the table? This science center had so much for kids and adults of every age to explore. Their planetarium was the only thing you had to pay for, $6 and it's worth it. Instead of seats they have mats where you can lay down as they close the lights and create a night sky full of stars. It was so cozy I woke up 20 minutes later drooling.
B. The St. Louis Zoo
We walked around for two hours in awe of the beautiful lions, hippos, polar bears and other glorious creatures. FOR FREE. It was also fall and the foliage was multi colored and stunning.
Forest Park also includes both a history and art museum which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see but heard are lovely.
Thanks for hanging with this starving actress!
The Big E, also known as New England’s “Great state fair” is one of the largest on the east coast and the 7th largest in the USA. This is a place that serves deep fried Kool Aid people. I eat clean regularly so I can feast on all things rolled in a ball and thrown into a deep fryer at events like this. When I heard they would be serving deep fried butter, I knew I had to take the 3 hour drive to test the limits of my heart. Here’s what to do and see at the Big E next year!
Indulge in all things that would break your scale in half
The Craz-E-burger - This bacon cheeseburger between a glazed donut is the sweet and savory combo that will make you click your heels together in song and dance. The cheeseburger is perfectly cooked and topped with two pieces of crisp bacon. The salty juice drips down onto the sweet glazed doughnut, and the bacon gives it that great crunchy texture. At only $7 a pop, it’s definitely a must try!
Chompers Bacon Cheeseburger Balls- These deep fried balls of goodness are NOT to be missed. They are fried to PERFECTION, crisp on the outside, and filled with juicy ground beef, bacon and melted cheese on the inside. Dunk these bad boys in some ketchup and try not to go cross-eyed in ecstasy. An order of 6 came to $8.
Marion’s Deep Fried Dough- This vendor is Willy Wonka’s dream come to life. They deep fry jelly beans, Oreos, Kool Aid and butter just to name a few. The fried Kool Aid is a mix of Marion’s batter and red Kool Aid powder, and once out of the fryer it resembles a red zeppole. In case that isn’t enough it is then sprinkled with more Kool Aid powder because WHY NOT. I didn’t try it but it was one of the most popular items on the menu. I did try the deep fried butter and Oreos. The Oreos were your standard deep fried treat that has become popular at festivals all over the country. Deep fried butter however? Better have the medics on hand. It had more batter surrounding it than what I expected and the result was a beautiful fresh pillow of carbs surrounding a big melting glob of butter. It tasted like a sweet, warm BUTTERY loaf of bread right out of the oven. I’m glad I got to say I tried deep fried butter. My integrity is gone.
Other unique eats I saw were footlong corn dogs, 18 inch bratwursts, chocolate and bacon covered french fries and alligator burgers!
Hang with all the cute animals
Is there anything cuter than watching puppies run obstacle courses? I think not. Take a seat in the arena, digest your fried cheesecake and watch these cute little creatures jump over surprisingly high hurdles.
Say hello to the camels that are just chillin, ride an elephant or feed the baby lambs and goats at the petting zoo.
There is a ton of different rides for both kids and adults, live music, shopping, exhibits, sculptures made entirely of butter, the list goes on and on! Tickets are $15 for adults, and it’s about a 3 hour drive from New York City. This is the home of the most indulgent eats I have ever witnessed and I cannot wait to get back next year!
Texas food. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. What started as a trip to find the best live music venues in Austin, quickly became a NEED to figure out where me and my best friend would be stuffing our faces next. Here are some of the places where our thighs happily expanded.
Gordough’s Public House
This place is known for their doughnuts and more importantly, putting all kinds of sweet and savory things on, in and around them. I ordered the "Mother Clucker," two pieces of perfectly fried chicken over a crisp warm doughnut drenched in honey butter. I could feel my double chin growing with every bite but I let the honey butter drip wherever it wanted and all was right in the world. This is a MUST stop people.
These are the best tacos I've ever had. EVER.
I had a baja shrimp, chicken fajita and a beef. You can make them "trashy" by replacing the lettuce with more cheese!! The shrimp taco was just out of control delicious. We also shared street corn covered in ancho aioli, queso fresco and chili pepper. My mouth was on fire and my eyes were watering but I couldn’t stop shoveling it into my mouth at a rapid rate. Oh and how could I forget the melty white queso dip and salty warm chips? Nothing like a cheesy Mexican meal before a night out on the town!
Torchy’s Tacos for breakfast
I know Torchy’s is already on the list. But by god their breakfast tacos deserve their own category. I am an addict for the Migas; scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, avocado, green chilis and tomatillo sauce all on a perfectly sized flour tortilla to fit right into my big mouth. We woke up at 6am just to have these tacos again before our 10am flight home.
Mac and Cheese. Nuff’ said.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken
Fried deviled eggs anyone? With a crunchy chicken skin aioli to dip? Salty deliciousness. Juicy fried chicken with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and cornbread? Yes please. The ambience was so welcoming and laid back, I just wanted to kick my feet up while I digested this awesome southern comfort food. It was hard for me to leave for a lot of reasons. Mostly because of the extra basket of complimentary fried chicken. Standing up was a challenge.
Unbuckle those belts, ladies and gents, you’re in Texas.