36 Hours Of Independence

This post is in partnership with Visit Independence (learn more here). All opinions and images are my own. #visitindepmo #COIInfluencerWeekend2019

I spent last weekend exploring Independence, a Missouri city about 3 1/2 hours from St. Louis. It’s a city so rich with history and culture that I had to share about the experience. Follow along to spend 36 hours in Independence with me.

36 Hours of Independence


1. 6:00 p.m. Check in to the Hilton Garden Inn.

Visit Independence

Independence offers accommodations to meet every traveler’s needs, from quaint Bed and Breakfast spots to swanky Airbnb homes. I chose to stay in a hotel.

Visit Independence

2. 8:30 p.m. Get your brew on at 3 Trails Brewing Company.

Visit Independence

Catch a live band, mingle with locals, and find out why this brewing company won national attention for its Westward Wit.


3. 10:00 a.m. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Clinton’s Soda Fountain.

Visit Independence

This shop oozes with history. The building dates back to the 1800s. I hear that a young Harry Truman worked in the building when it was a pharmacy and also a previous soda shop. Today, visitors stop by for the sundaes. Check out the one my husband enjoyed.

4. 11:0o a.m. Steal a photo op at the #LoveTheSquare mural.

5. 11:15 a.m. Dig into the interesting history of the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home Museum.

This museum is the earliest structure still standing on its original site in the Independence Square area.

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6. 12:00 p.m. Grab lunch at the homey El Pico Restaurant.

Visit Independence

Burritos, fajitas, tacos, whatever you have a taste for, El Pico will satisfy your appetite. As a vegan, I was so appreciative of the staff’s awareness of ingredients and options suitable for my specialized diet.

7. 1:30 p.m. Truman Library

Did you know that Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, was from Independence? And, Independence is home to his presidential library.

Visit Independence

8. 3:oo p.m. Soak up the opulence of Vaile Mansion.

Visit Independence

Explore this 13-room mansion built in 1881. You will be blown away by the Victorian architecture. Be sure to note the hours because it closes fairly early at 4 p.m.

Visit Independence

9. 8:00 p.m. Dinner at Ophelia’s

Enjoy the atmosphere and ecclectic menu at Opehelia’s restaurant.

Visit Independence

10. 6:00 a.m. Hit the road again!

Thank you to Visit Independence for having me!

Like travel blogs? See more here.

How to Make a St. Louis Staycation the Best Ever

When my homegirl Danyelle of The Cubicle Chick told me that she was rounding up the #STLChicks for a St. Louis staycation at Marriott St. Louis Grand, I got on board immediately. Danyelle hosts the best events. They’re fun, educational, and they connect you with the right people at the right time. It was actually her blog conference 5 years ago, my first blog conference, that pushed me to approach blogging seriously.


So, I packed up my favorite weekender bag, tossed on a comfy outfit, and headed downtown last weekend. I knew the trip would be a great opportunity for connecting with fellow influencers. And, I knew we would have a blast the entire time. What I didn’t anticipate was feeling completely transported in my own city, in a hotel so near to my house. But, I did. Today, I’m reflecting on the crucial things that made this St. Louis staycation such an enjoyable trip.


1. Choose a hotel that suits your style. Aesthetics matter to me. And, the Marriott St. Louis Grand is a fashionable gal’s haven. First, it’s housed in a beautiful historic building with an exterior that’s pleasing to the eye and also perfect for outfit photos. Second, the hotel’s redesigned interior is modern and minimalist and swanky, all at the same time.

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2. Choose a location that excites you. St. Louis city is a defining touchstone in every image I share on this blog. What can I say? I’m a city gal. And, the Marriot St. Louis Grand is nestled in the heart of downtown St Louis. I simply stepped outside into the following dreamy cityscape.


And, here’s the view from my room on the 18th floor:


3. Choose a hotel that has all the amenities to satisfy the needs of your trip. This recent getaway was a girl’s trip organized around a special networking event for influencers hosted by Danyelle. That event, which drew about 20 local bloggers, took place in one of the Marriott St. Louis Grand’s private dining rooms. We had bites. We had drinks. We had all the elements necessary for a good time. The following morning, the #STLChicks ended our trip with a special breakfast.

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4. Choose fellow travelers who inspire you. On this trip, I had the absolute pleasure of spending the weekend with fellow digital-savvy influencers. We talked about goals. We shared knowledge. We encouraged each other. We made magic together.


By the way, if you’re not already following these women, get to know them:

Danyelle Little of The Cubicle Chick

Angel Watkins of Angel Watkins

Shaquan Grove of Coach Shaquan

Brandy Butler of Brandy Butler Online

Winnie Caldwell of The Wire Hanger by Winnie

Lakesha Brown of Uncommon Chick


Disclosure: This trip was hosted by Marriott St. Louis Grand. Our accommodations were provided free of charge for review purposes. All of the opinions and ideas are my own.

Is Sandals the Most Accommodating Resort in the Caribbean?

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I recently returned from an end-of-summer vacay in St. Lucia with my husband. We opted for an all-inclusive experience and chose to stay at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian. While all-inclusive luxury usually puts most travelers at ease, it causes me great anxiety for one reason. Food! I’m a strict vegan, and I have to be because consuming some animal products makes me physically ill, sometimes for up to a week. So, one bad meal could take a trip from enjoyable to disastrous within minutes. Traveling vegan isn’t easy, but the Sandals Grande St. Lucian made it the easiest trip ever for this vegan.

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To be safe, I usually eat a raw vegan diet when I travel. From the moment I checked into Sandals, though, I knew something was different. I was actually asked about any dietary requirements, and then referred to a culinary concierge. In addition, the woman holding down the concierge desk quickly put me at ease with these words, “we’ve got you covered. You’ll have plenty to eat here.” And, the best part is she was right.

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It was time to put the Sandals Grande St. Lucian to the test. My first stop was the Olde London Pub. I communicated my dietary restrictions to a waiter who insisted that I speak with the chef. What I enjoyed most about the exchanges about food with Sandals staff is that I never felt like my vegan diet was a problem or a challenge. Furthermore, the chefs I met seemed delighted to prepare something special and off menu for me.

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I spent most of my time in the Caribbean Village portion of the resort. The Bayside Restaurant was a must-stop for breakfast and some dinners. Often, resorts cater to the tastes of foreign visitors at the expense of local cuisine. At Bayside, though, I was thrilled to see typical island fruits—passion fruit, sugarcane, papaya, and coconut—available. In addition, the chefs created the most tasty surprises like the meal shown below. I must shout-out staffers like Julie, who I believe was a food manager there, who always went the extra mile to ensure I had a satisfying meal at Bayside. I’m especially grateful to the evening chef as well for whipping me up a vegan soup and a tasty entree with tofu. I wish I had a photo to share, but I was so eager to dig in that I never took one.

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I also especially enjoyed eating at Barefoot by the Sea. One of the best meals on the entire trip was this simple vegan curry vegetable wrap that packed serious flavor. It was the closest thing to an island roti that I’ve had in a long time.

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For travelers with special needs, whether those be dietary or something else, a resort willing to accommodate those no matter what it takes is such a treasure. Food accommodations truly made it easy for me to actually relax on vacation.

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With the worry about food gone, I felt free to enjoy all the Sandals luxuries, like the beautiful white-sand beach the resort rests on.

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I was able to dance all night with Nyah, another superstar Sandals staffer, to the sweet sounds of live reggae at the Palladium Night Club. I was able to sip on an extra cocktail or two at the evening after parties at the Pub. In addition to its beautiful landscape, Sandals won me over because of its incredible employees who don’t even work for tips. Tipping isn’t allowed at the resort.

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Traveling to a resort? Pack smartly to meet resort dress codes. For examples, check out the following vacation style posts:

Beach Style

Resort Casual Style (maxi dress)

Resort Casual Style (sundress)

Resort Casual Style (versatile swimsuit cover/dress)

Resort Evening Style