Last month and towards the end of last year, I did a quick getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. I needed to disconnect for a little bit and to prepare myself for the upcoming long cold Winter of my natural habitat, LOL. Anyway, I actually went from one city to another but didn’t stay long, only for a few days each. So here now is the first part of these recent trips.

 

ORANGE COUNTY

 

I miss the California sun and was excited to visit Orange County, only to realize that it was actually raining when I arrived and it didn’t stop until the next day. So I mostly stayed in my hotel chillin’ and on the third day, I had a great time shopping and dining at the nearby outlet which is very close to my hotel.

 

ayres hotel orange orange county california

 

Ayres Hotel Orange – I had a fabulous stay in this beautiful and relaxing hotel. Its grounds are very well-kept, beautiful, and simply serene. The staff here are very kind and respectful to your privacy. Food-wise, this hotel has a nice breakfast buffet selection, and plenty of chairs to lounge around, especially nearby the pool area. I also had a chance to dine at a nearby Mexican restaurant called Anepalco and their food and service was really excellent. To book a stay in this hotel, click HERE.

 

the outlets at orange county california

 

the outlets at orange

 

The Outlets at Orange– With just minutes away and walking distance from Ayres Hotel Orange, this large outlet has lots of shops and restaurants. I had a great time strolling around and browsing at different stores which I find to be very well-stocked compared to my local outlets at home. Their Saks Off Fifth has several discounted Tom Ford beauty products which got me drooling. Also, they have a nice AMC theatre where I watched Green Book.

 

ST. LOUIS MISSOURI

 

downtown clayton missouri

 

I have never been to St. Louis before and I was curious as to what Missouri looks like. True to my expectation, St. Louis especially downtown Clayton is very beautiful and it’s booming. I love the architecture here which is very classic and I noticed that even the new buildings/constructions seem to follow the same classic design. Clayton is full of shops and restaurants, plus the people are so friendly and so kind. The cabs and Uber drivers here are so polite and friendly, and they even act and talk like your tour guide. I like the flat topography of St. Louis even though it looks a little too spread out. There are lots of things to see here. Almost all the houses I’ve seen around Clayton are grand and well-kept. Washington University (Wash U) is nearby and it’s a beautiful classic-style campus as well. During my visit here, the weather was wavering between sunny and gloomy and it wasn’t so cold during the day. I did get so cold at night though. All in all, St. Louis Missouri is not your average midwest town. This place is a total must-see.

 

ritz carlton st louis missouri

 

ritz carlton missouri

 

Ritz Carlton – Located at the heart of Downtown Clayton, the room that I got here is a bit small compared to some other Ritz Carltons I’ve stayed before, but it’s still luxurious nevertheless. It’s also super clean and the toiletries are from Asprey London which smells divine and luxe. I adored the all-marble wall to floor bathroom, and the staff here are courteous and helpful. I enjoyed a simple hearty breakfast here and the service was great. They’ll even give you a free snack and drinks if you’re waiting for someone at the lobby. They were also very nice to me when I asked to change to another room after I complained that I could hear the sound of the elevator from my bed. I don’t think that I got a nice view of Clayton from my room, but for me, it was good enough as long as I could not hear any noise outside my window. Location-wise, this hotel is a perfect walking distance to a lot of shops and restaurants in Clayton. To book a stay in this hotel click HERE.

 

ritz carlton room st louis missouri

 

breakfast at ritz carlton st louis missouri

 

ritz carlton st louis room view

 

 

the arch st. louis missouri

 

the gateway arch national park st. louis

The Gateway Arch – I was so excited to see this famous Gateway to the West, simply known as “The Arch”. It is the world’s tallest arch and it’s one of America’s most famous monuments. I took an Uber to visit the Arch and the driver politely told me that the Arch was closed because of the government shutdown, but I insisted to see it anyway just so I could see the arch from the outside at least. True to everyone’s rave, the Arch is SO impressive. It’s made of stainless steel and it’s about 630 ft tall. You can potentially go up there and take in all the view from above, although I can only imagine how it must be like. Across the arch is a view of the Mississippi River from St. Louis Missouri’s side, and strolling along it is so relaxing, you can totally enjoy the sun and the sand. 

 

the arch st louis missouri

 

the arch st louis missouri

 

riverboat cruises gateway arch

 

 

st. louis zoo grizzly bear

 

st. louis zoo

 

St. Louis Zoo – I took another Uber and decided to visit the St. Louis Zoo. I haven’t been to any zoo for a long time and I needed to see my friends (I love animals, you know). This zoo is probably the most laid-back zoo I’ve ever been and it’s also very vast. The animals here are cute and you can see lots of them. From Tigers to Buffalos, down to some rare snakes, this zoo not only looks like a zoo, but it also looks like a park. Kids and families love this place and I too enjoyed this zoo a lot.

 

st louis missouri zoo penguins

st. louis mo zoo

 

st. louis zoo view

 

 

st. louis zoo buffalos

 

 

st. louis art museum

 

St. Louis Art Museum – This museum has a very classic European-style architecture and it looks grand. Just right outside of it is the statue of the impressive King Louis IX of France riding a mighty horse, known as the Apotheosis of St. Louis. In front of the statue is the Grand Basin of the vast Forest Park. The St. Louis Art Museum has unique and interesting exhibits, but I didn’t spend a lot of time here because I was getting hungry and they were about to close anyway, so I started looking for food. LOL. 

 

st. louis art museum

 

st. louis art museum exhibit

 

FOODIES:

 

BARcelona tapas restaurant menu

 

BARcelona tapas restaurant review

tres leches barcelona tapas restaurant

BARcelona Tapas Restaurant – Just 30 minutes walk from Ritz Carlton hotel and still in downtown Clayton, I had a nice dinner at this restaurant the same day that I arrived in St. Louis. I was impressed by the variety of the menu as well as the restaurant’s decor and ambiance. The food here transported me back to Barcelona and it’s really good, also, the prices are not that expensive. The service is quick and the food was served on time, but you do need to call ahead for a reservation. I highly recommend that you try their Tres Leches (dessert) which is so divine. To reserve a table to this restaurant, click HERE.

 

guerilla street food review

 

guerilla street food st. louis missouri menu

 

Guerilla Street Food – I came here right after visiting the St. Louis Art Museum. Again, my Uber driver was a kind welcoming Vietnam Vet who further oriented me to St. Louis. I was not really sure why the restaurant is called Guerilla, but I was determined to taste this famous Filipino franchise in STL. I’m no stranger to Filipino foods at all, so if you ask me what I think about the food here, I think, to be honest, they’re just ok. I ordered Chicken Adobo which I think definitely needs some soy sauce, and the Sinigang (Tamarind soup) definitely needs more Tamarind because it wasn’t sour at all. The Empanadas are ok, but I don’t know what the “Flying Pig” was all about. While it tasted so good, there is no such thing as Flying Pig in Philippine cuisine. Just a tip, the sodas here are not your average American sodas. I wasn’t really sure what they were, I wanna say that they’re the Philippine version of most American drinks and that their tastes are not that different from what we’re used to here in the US. I honestly could not recognize most of them except for the Calamansi juice, which is so great by the way. 

 

guerilla street food sinigang

 

st. louis missouri guerilla street food

 

St. Louis Galleria – I ended my stay in Missouri with a visit to one of their malls. I wanted to go to Plaza Frontenac but they were closing early on that day, so I decided to drop by at the famous St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights near St. Louis. This mall is huge and they have shops and brands that I haven’t seen or heard before. There are several floors in this mall and the decors are impressive.

st. louis galleria mall

 

I was definitely fascinated by the beauty of St. Louis and I highly recommend that you visit this place whenever you have time and I bet you that you won’t be disappointed. Stay tuned for part two of this trip.