Bestie Spring Break in Denver with 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

This is the first year out of college that I haven't had an official spring break week. Being self-employed, my schedule is flexible already, but I enjoyed being able to take a "break" on my own time. My best friend moved away for grad school in Rhode Island last year, so her spring break was a bit later than in Texas. When she told me she was considering Denver for a few days, I was more than ready to book my flight. I absolutely LOVE everything about Denver and I'm happy that I got to explore the city with her this time!

For four days, we cruised Denver in a gorgeous 'Dynamic Blue Mica' 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring stopping at interesting art, music, and food spots. We're both artsy, and who doesn't love food? This trip was most certainly full of culture and good eats. Check out my new foodie Instagram page to see everything we ate at Gastronomic Grub!

Until our next trip! Xo
Where should we go next? 

This post is sponsored by Mazda. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring at Green Mountain Reservoir | Silverthorne, Colorado

Yesterday, we whipped and wound around the roads of the Rocky Mountains in our five-passenger 2016 Mazda CX-5 in search of some gorgeous scenery...and we found it.  

I'd been in the mountains the last time we visited Colorado, but not this deep. This was truly a day trip! I mostly gazed in awe of the intricate design of God's creations -- from the thousands of unique trees covering the mountains to the many indentations in its rocky walls. Everything was genuinely beautiful! 

The Drive | Rocky Mountains

A light sprinkle soon turned into full-on rain, but we didn't have to worry about keeping the windows clear with the help of rain-sensing wipers which is super helpful when you're concentrating on the road. The CX-5 is like having a thoughtful on-the-road companion within the vehicle. She even alerted us when there was a car approaching on either side to prevent those nasty blind spot accidents.

I connected my iPhone via USB and it quickly picked up my Spotify jams. One thing that I found pretty interesting was that you couldn't use the touchscreen while driving unless you were at a full stop. While I appreciated the safety of the this feature, it was pretty annoying when we lost signal in a few spots and had to listen to static and fuzz for many miles. Even with a passenger willing to change the songs or stations, we still couldn't do it until we ran into an occasional traffic light. Perhaps there's a way to alter this, but I didn't check.

I did, however, enjoy the separate temperature controls front seats for the driver and front-passenger in this upgraded center console. I hate being too cold when the other person is hot, and vice versa. This made for a super comfortable drive!

The Scenery | Green Mountain Reservoir

We made it to Silverthorne, Colorado which, from Google photos, looks unreal when it snows. Initially, we were on the hunt for another body of water (Blue Lake), but we ended up at the Green Mountain Reservoir instead. It was perfect! For some reason, I've wanted photos of the CX-5 near a sparkling body of water and gigantic mountains in the background.

Once we found a spot to park, we hopped out of the Bose surrounded CX-5 (a total of nine speakers) and admired the beauty of nature. The views in Texas aren't quite like this!

We had the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD (All Wheel Drive) with an exterior color of 'Sonic Silver Metallic' and all-black interior. This is a four-door vehicle that seats five-passengers, so it's perfect for road trips. It sits on 19-inch alloy all-season tires, so it was very comfortable to drive in the rain through the mountains.

Since we're talking about road trips, I think a car that's good on gas is definitely important. I'd driven around Denver almost everyday during the week and still had enough mileage to get to Silverthorne. We had about 120 miles remaining after leaving Green Mountain Reservoir, but I decided to add a little gas to the tank just in case.

Fuel economy and environment:

  • 26 MPG (combined city + highway)

  • 3.8 gallons per 100 miles

  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1750

  • Gas Rating: 6; Smog Rating: 5 (I'm not an expert...but pretty decent, I think)

This hatchback was big enough for my suitcase, but could have absolutely fit much more comfortably. It can hold everything from a full trip of groceries to a long day of shopping at Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver. The amount of space is not only perfect for road trips, but for small families around the city as well. There are so many conveniences and safety features including LATCH child-safety-seat anchors.

If you're wondering what SKYACTIV technology consists of like I was, then I'm here to tell you that it relates to the performance of the car. The transmission and engine really do make a difference in the way a car drives and the 2016 Mazda CX-5 was a smooth one.

Additional specs:

  • SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed Sport Mode
  • Rearview Camera
  • Mazda Navigation System
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) System
  • Power Automatic Door Locks
  • Advance Keyless Entry System
  • Automatic LED Headlights for Touring & Grand Touring Models
  • Push Button Start
  • Bose 9-speaker Audio Sound System

After having yet another maintenance issue with my MINI back at home, I'm not quite ready to return the CX-5 before I take off for Dallas...but it's given me plenty of breathtaking scenery and memories on this trip! Until next time, Colorado.

This vehicle was loaned to me for review purposes.

Road Trip to Denver | Exploring the City & Nature

Buffalo Bill's Grave

Buffalo Bill's Grave

A few weekends ago, my family hopped in our Broncos-proud Escalade and set off on a road trip to Denver, Colorado. I have tons of family in the city, so usually when we go we hang out with them or my mom and I go shopping. Unfortunately, the trip was cut short for me because I had to return to Dallas for my internship after the Fourth of July weekend, so I wanted to make the best of the few days I had left. My grandma has a beautiful view of the mountains, but I suggested we take a trip to the mountains and explore. I've never been in any mountains, so this was a first!

The Mountains

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

I've seen little El Paso mountains when I hosted a few H&M openings there, but these were massive and absolutely beautiful. My parents both grew up in Denver, so they were the perfect "tour guides". As my dad drove up the winding roads of the mountains, I was in complete awe. There were so many little houses that looked like they'd be super cozy in the winter covered in snow -- kind of like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Why did I choose to go to the mountains when I'm not really an outdoorsy person? I really don't know, but it was fun and an amazing experience! We stopped by Buffalo Bill's Grave and Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve. The views were breathtaking and we even spotted a deer casually eating as hikers trailed through. Such a different experience from being in Dallas for sure!

Central City

Before heading back to my grandma's, we stopped in Central City which is like it's own little world. It's kind of like walking through one of those small towns in Little House on the Prairie, but in 2016. The storefronts are historic and several of them have plaques with the historical information forever embossed. There are antique shops, dispensaries, restaurants, hotels, and casinos. We popped in one of the casinos and played a few slot machines where I lost it ALL. *cries* Just kidding! I know better.

My mom and I both have an appreciation for antique shops, so we went in the Mountain Menagerie (pictured above) and I got a gorgeous beaded pouch necklace which is going to look fire with a boho-style outfit. I'm already outfit plotting. *Joanne the Scammer smirk*

Me in front an empty building in Central City in Topshop romper.

Me in front an empty building in Central City in Topshop romper.

I was so upset that I had to leave before my family and get back to Dallas, but I will be returning to Denver in August to make up for the time I didn't get to spend! I can't wait for y'all to see what I'm up to. Until then, be sure to check out my Denver foodie experience!

Have you visited Denver or live there? Where should I go next time I'm in town? Leave a comment with your suggestions!

STAYCATION: Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center | Grapevine, Texas

This week definitely felt like an early weekend as my mom and I rolled our suitcases into our guest room at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. If you're familiar with me and my location, you know that I don't exactly live far from the resort. So what was my reason for spending two relaxing nights here? Aside from the fact that my mom had a convention to attend, I simply came along for a staycation.

gaylord texan staycation

I'm no stranger to the Gaylord Texan, but each time is just as glorious as the last. No two seasons are the same as they're always adding attractions for the family to enjoy. From the Alamo-themed atrium to the seasonal light shows, the atmosphere remains exciting. 

Travel Tip: Looking for a quick staycation at an affordable price? The Gaylord Texas often offers last-minute weekend deals!

Our Guest Room

gaylord texan guest room

Initially, it wasn't in the plan for me to come along, so we were happy to see two queen-sized beds neatly made. The guest room was very spacious with a small sitting area and a desk for me to get work done. Although the room was sized well, our view for this particular room was facing the roof. While it wasn't exactly the view we hoped for, the size definitely compensated and we were also given quite a few options at check-in. There are options for lake, atrium, partial atrium views as well as suites. 

I am extremely picky when it comes to hotels because not all are sanitary and if I'm going to lay my head there at night, everything needs to be spot-on. I mean, have y'all seen Hotel Hell?! *gags* One thing I absolutely loved was the bedding. The pillows were nicely fluffed and supported my neck, and the sheets had a high thread count which didn't give me that creepy crawly feeling I get sometimes.

gaylord texan resort bedding

From a home decor lover, my mom pointed out the great amount of texture in the room. Every piece from the walls to the headboards on the beds has texture, but it makes still makes sense and doesn't clash. 

The Bathroom

gaylord texan resort bathroom

One of my absolute favorite things about the hotel is the spacious bathroom and lighting. I pay attention to details especially when it comes to the space where I have to get ready in the morning! There are Kohler sinks installed that each face opposite directions at slight angle so you're not bumping elbows with your mate while trying to move around. Genius!

In-Room Dining

gaylord texan in-room dining menu

The first thing I look at when I get settled at a hotel is the room service menu. Yes, I'm a very hungry girl! Actually, I was so hungry on our first night that we ordered dinner and I completely forgot to take photos with my DLSR...but I do have an Instagram shot of the bacon cheeseburger I had!

#Staycation at the @GaylordTexan begins!

A photo posted by Jaleesa Charisse (@jaleesacharisse) on

I was still knocked out from a late night while my mom was getting ready for her busy day, so by the time I woke up at 10AM, I had just one hour left to order breakfast. Executive decisions had to be made!

gaylord texan french toast breakfast

After quickly browsing the menu, I decided on french toast lightly sprinkled with powdered with fresh strawberries and blueberries (my favorite), a side of smoked bacon (4 thick cut strips), and a glass of high pulp orange juice.

gaylord texan room service breakfast

The service each time we ordered was excellent. A delivery time was given and it was accurate or earlier both times. They also ensured we had everything we ordered rather than simply pushing the cart into the room, collecting a tip, and peacing out. We were also able to pay with cash or a separate credit/debit card, so if you're staying on someone else's dime and don't want them to get billed for your extreme hunger...these are options!

The Atrium

gaylord texan atrium elevator view

The atrium is one of the most beautiful parts of the resort and it's great for those with allergies who might almost die from outside air. I know that struggle. 

gaylord texan atrium view rooms

There are plants galore and restaurants where you can be right in the midst of it all! Plus, if you have a room with an atrium view, this entire area is your view with a full skylight providing guests plenty of vitamin D. The atrium also changes throughout the season. I've heard it's beautiful at Christmas, but I haven't been during that time of year yet. Currently, there is an Alice in Wonderland theme (hence the mushrooms and inflatables).

gaylord texan atrium water fountain

Nearby Shopping & Dining Destinations

The Gaylord Texas is located near the DFW International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, so if you're visiting the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex from out-of-town and are looking for a resort, I would absolutely recommend this one. It's perfect whether you're traveling with your significant other or with the little ones. There something for everyone on and off the property!

southlake town center shopping

Approximately 12 minutes away is the Southlake Town Square with a variety of retail stops and restaurants. I decided to make a stop at Sephora and pick up some goodies, but there are several other stores such as Coach, Lily Pulitzer, Michael Kors, and small boutiques. If you're a bargain shopper, then Grapevine Mills just might be your cup of tea with 180 stores -- most of the anchors are outlet/discount.

After I got my little Sephora bag (see my mini haul courtesy of Sephora, below), I stopped by The Cheesecake Factory for our dinner. My mom and I each ate the miso salmon dinner and shared a large slice of the Linda's Fudge Cake.

southlake sephora haul

There's plenty to do in the area. Not to worry!

I can't wait to stay at the Gaylord Texan again! Since it was still during the week, I was in the room working during most of our full day at the resort, so I didn't have time to visit the Paradise Springs Lagoon before it closed. I was really hoping to relax poolside in one of my new swimsuits and order a couple of drinks. *sad face* Maybe next time! Nevertheless, it's an amazing staycation spot because you'll forget that you're even in Dallas which is exactly what a Dallasite needs sometimes. I'll be back soon!

Have you stayed at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center or considering for staycation/getaway? Let me know in the comments!