50 Ways to Have an Adventure Without Leaving Town.

50-ways-to-adventure2Travel is something so many of us crave more of, but time and budget constraints mean that most of us can’t jet off on holiday whenever we want to.

‘Adventure’ is one of my core desired feelings, so I’ve been trying to infuse my life with it, even when I’m stuck within the confines of my 9-5.

We get to choose what our life looks and feels like, so instead of letting it get dull or mundane just because there isn’t an epic vacation on your horizon, commit to spicing up your day to day with endless mini adventures Here are 50 ways you can go on an adventure without even leaving town.

  • Download the Drift app and get lost on purpose.
  • Read a piece of completely escapist fiction.
  • Take a transit line you’ve never been on before and see where you end up.
  • Recreate a dish you ate on your favourite holiday.
  • Camp out in your backyard (or living room!)
  • Go for a hike.
  • Organize a dinner party where you cook food from a different country each month.
  • Find out where serves the best [insert country of choice] food in your city and try it.
  • Visit the closest body of water.
  • Go on a walking tour and see another side of your city.
  • Visit a part of town you’ve never been to.
  • Go to the most touristy attraction close by that you haven’t been to yet.
  • Find a pen pal in another part of the world.
  • Write a story where you’re the heroine of your own action adventure fantasy.
  • Read all about the history of the place you’d most like to visit.
  • Leave a message in a bottle and hide it for someone to find.
  • Try a type of cuisine you’ve never eaten before.
  • Challenge yourself to notice something new about your surroundings every day for a month and take a picture of it.
  • Invite your friends to a picnic where everyone brings a dish from their favourite place.
  • Create a self-guided walking tour of your favourite neighbourhood and post it on your blog.


  • Browse Meetup and join a group that sounds interesting. Attend their next event.
  • Spend a week saying yes to every new opportunity that comes your way.
  • Create a costume from clothes you never way and then build a character around it. Act it out for the afternoon.
  • Take a look on Opacity and find out whether there are any abandoned buildings nearby that you can safely explore.
  • Go ziplining, go-karting, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or some other kind of outdoor adventure you’ve never tried before.
  • Organise a flash mob.
  • Go geocaching.
  • Or letterboxing.
  • Take language lessons. Or if you know another language, find someone to practice speaking it to.
  • Create a treasure hunt for your favourite kiddos (or kidults!)
  • Learn about urban foraging and find your own food.
  • Or see if there’s an urban fruit harvesting project in your city.
  • Rent a boat and paddle along the river or local lake.
  • Build a tree fort.
  • Visit a different coffee shop every week for a year.
  • Try your hand at creating street art.
  • Grab your girl gang and go for a midnight stroll.
  • Dance into the morning at a morning rave.
  • See how far you can walk in one day.
  • Create your own holiday and organise a celebration.
  • Visit a conversation centre.
  • Kick it old school and read a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.
  • Consume a type of culture you’ve never experienced before. What about spoken word, silent film, or conceptual art? Browse your local listings for something that will push you out of your comfort zone.
  • Learn a word from another language each week and practice dropping it awkwardly into conversation.
  • Plant a flower or vegetable garden in your backyard.
  • Have a Planet Earth marathon.
  • Create your travel wanderlist.
  • Draw a map of your city, only reimagined for a fantasy adventure novel.
  • Swap houses with your best friend for a week.
  • Walk backwards to work (but be careful!)

How do you add more adventure to your life? I’d love to hear!

Love, sidewalk chalk, and ruffled dresses,

Photographs via Ruffled Blog and Green Wedding Shoes.

This is London: Brixton Market

brixton-market3brixton-market2I’d never been to Brixton Market until recently, but having spent the last two Sundays there, I can attest to it being a great place to mooch around for the afternoon.

Brixton is an interesting neighbourhood and very much feels like a transitional space. It’s undergone a lot of gentrification over the past few years, but seems to maintain much of its original vibe. Trendy coffee shops and boutiques stand beside traditional fish mongers and tiny food shops selling ingredients from around the world.

In some way the multicultural atmosphere and vibrant, eclectic mood reminds me of Toronto. And Brixton Market is definitely worth a visit, whether you live in the city or are just visiting.

brixton-market1brixton-market6When we were there last weekend, Matthew and I planned to just eat our way around the market. There are so many restaurants and food stalls, featuring cuisines from all over the world, so it’s great to just get a little something at a few places and sample the selection.

The dumplings above were from Mama Lan – they’re stuffed with wood ear mushrooms, spinach, and vermicelli. So much yum!

And vegan bakery Ms. Cupcake is just around the corner. They boast “the naughtiest vegan cakes in town” but I taken by the vegan nanaimo bars. This Canadian girl’s day was made!

The weekend before I had brunch at Senzala Creperie and it was amazing.

If you’re visiting the market, be sure to go hungry.

brixton-market4brixton-market5There are so many cute shops to poke around in, so even if you’re not in the mood to shop, you’ll still find lots of interesting things to look at. You’ll find lots of homewares, vintage clothing, knickknacks, unique gifts, handmade goods, and original artworks. I picked up some beautiful rose-scented soap from France and a handmade, coconut-scented candle.

brixton-market7brixton-market8Brixton is a colourful neighbourhood and the surrounding area is full of interesting things to look at. So after you’ve strolled around the market, be sure to go for a wander to rock on to Electric Avenue (yep, the one in the song) and then check out the great street art, independent shops, and speciality food stores.

Do you have a favourite spot in Brixton? I’d love to get tips of more places to eat and shops to check out on my next visit.

Love, disco balls, & neon spray paint,

A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Guide to Belfast.

what-to-do-in-belfast24what-to-do-in-belfast10what-to-do-in-belfast12what-to-do-in-belfast08I was ecstatic when Tourism Ireland offered to whisk me away for a 48-hour adventure in Belfast with the sole challenge of doing as much as I possibly could while I was there. Of course I said yes and just over a week later, Matthew and I were en route to Stansted to set off on our mini holiday.

Actually, we nearly didn’t make it. We’d given ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport but our coach arrived late and bumper-to-bumper traffic out of London meant that it inched its way along the motorway. We’d lost all hope of catching our flight but by some act of good fortune, it was delayed by 30 minutes. We cut to the front of the security queue, sprinted to our gate, and made it just in time (but completely out of breath) to get on the plane. It’s only an hour-long flight, so I’d barely finished reading two chapters of Yes Please and we were landing.

I know for many people, Belfast brings to mind decades of conflict, violence, and fear. But the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent peace process transformed the city and that’s definitely the Belfast of the past. Now the city is the safest European capital to walk through at night and one of the top 10 city break destinations in the British Isles.

Arriving on Friday evening and leaving at midday on Sunday, we packed our short stay full of sightseeing, good food, shopping, wandering around markets, and hanging out in historic pubs (all of the good things!) Belfast has so much to offer, so here’s my mini guide to making the most of a quick jaunt to the capital of Northern Ireland.

what-to-do-in-belfast07what-to-do-in-belfast11what-to-do-in-belfast09what-to-do-in-belfast16what-to-do-in-belfast03what-to-do-in-belfast04What To Do

* Take a trip to Belfast Castle.
It’s free to meander around this stately home that sits at the bottom of Cave Hill but my favourite part was the cat garden (yes, cat garden) and gorgeous views of the city.

* Hike the Cave Hill Park Trail.
Okay, admittedly we only made it halfway up. We rationalized that this allowed us to see the caves and get a good view of the city, while still having time to do the rest of things on our list – and saving our legs from completely turning to jelly.

* Ride the Hop On-Hop Off tour bus.
Belfast is small enough to conquer on foot but with its rich history, this tour was perfect for seeing all of the major sights, while learning the context from the distant and recent past that have made the city what it is today. It was tricky taking decent photos as we barreled around the city but our tour guide was friendly and informative and managed to maintain a neutral disposition when discussing “the troubles.”

* Take your picture with The Big Fish.
I for one am a big fan of cheesy tourist photos and think no holiday is complete without them. Belfast’s Big Fish is the perfect quirky spot to snap a few. This 10m long statue celebrates the regeneration of the Lagan River and the return of the salmon to its waters. The fish’s ceramic sides tell the story of Belfast through photographs and newspaper clippings from the city’s rich history. We wandered down at night, so our shots were rather blurry but it was still very interesting to see up close.

* Try to spot Gulliver’s face in the mountain.
Jonathan Swift lived in Belfast and imagined that the top of Cave Hill resembled a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. It’s thought that this landscape provided inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels.

Our limited time frame meant we couldn’t see and do everything, but Belfast’s small enough that we were still able to take a lot in and get a good feel for the place. If we’d been there for all of Sunday I would have visited the zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Ulster Museum, and Titanic Belfast. If we’d had a whole extra day I would have loved to go on the Giants Causeway tour. They’ll be on the itinerary for my next visit!

what-to-do-in-belfast01what-to-do-in-belfast02what-to-do-in-belfast28Where To Stay

We were lucky enough to stay in an executive room at the Belfast Hilton. Two walls of windows looked out onto the Lagan River, and with a king sized bed and an enormous bath, it was difficult to say good-bye to our weekend digs.

The Sonoma Restauarant treated us to a fantastic buffet-style breakfast both mornings and there was complimentary wine and canapés in the Executive Lounge in the evenings. Talk about travelling in style!

The hotel was really conveniently located across from St. George’s Market and a short walk from the city centre and other tourist attractions, like Titanic Belfast.

Plus the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, which made for an especially charming visit.

what-to-do-in-belfast27what-to-do-in-belfast18what-to-do-in-belfast17what-to-do-in-belfast14what-to-do-in-belfast25Where to Eat & Drink

A quick search on Happy Cow showed that Belfast isn’t exactly bursting with veggie dining options. There’s only one vegetarian restaurant in town: Giro’s. We headed there for lunch on Saturday but found it closed. They’re a volunteer-run operation and currently only serve food on Wednesday evenings. But I’d done my research and had a list of veggie-friendly places to eat, so we still managed to eat very good – if not at all traditionally Irish – food.

* Kelly’s Cellars
One of the three pubs in Belfast claiming to be the oldest, we stopped in at Kelly’s for a couple of pints after dropping our luggage off at the hotel on Friday night. The pub’s original, 200-year old fixtures and furnishings were contrasted with young Irish people singing raucously to 90s pop songs, which created a fun yet cosy atmosphere.

* Japanese food at Sakura on Botanic Ave.
Our waitress was happy to walk us through all of the veggie options available and even offered an off-menu dish of salty chili tofu, which Matthew ordered while I opted for stir fried udon noodles. We also shared spring rolls, asparagus maki, and an avocado tofu tempura roll. Everything was delicious!

* Dean’s Deli Bistro
We stopped in for hot drinks before dinner on Saturday. The candlelit tables and simple decor made for a really homey environment. They serve a nice looking menu of sandwiches, salads, and some hot food. The veggie options were a bit limited though and I insisted I wanted “a meal worth writing about” (FYI: bloggers are a pain in the butt to date).

* The Crown Liquor Saloon
Another of Belfast’s oldest pubs, The Crown’s interior is gorgeous – complete with original tiling and ornate wooden booths. It was quite crowded on Saturday night, but we managed to find a place to sit and enjoyed a few drinks before turning in for the night.

We did eat a few meals at our hotel as they were included with our room, but also on my list of veggie-friendly places to try were Thai Village, Harlem (for a veggie fry up), and Martha’s Grill (great looking breakfast options).

what-to-do-in-belfast22what-to-do-in-belfast19what-to-do-in-belfast21what-to-do-in-belfast26what-to-do-in-belfast29Where to Shop

* Vintage boutiques and indie shops on Botanic Ave.
Belfast’s city centre is home to the Victoria Square Shopping Centre, which is hailed the place to shop in town but I was much more drawn to Botanic Ave, which is lined with offbeat, independent stores. Among my favourites were No Alibis, a bookstore specialising in books about crime, The Rusty Zip, a vintage boutique where I fell in love with an umbrella-printed dress, and The Yellow Submarine, an upscale thrift shop full of clothing and kitsch knick-knacks.

* Festive fare and unique gifts at the Christmas Market.
If you visit during the holiday season, Belfast’s Christmas Market runs from 15 November – 21 December and is definitely worth a wander. Nestled in front of the City Hall, it’s not a huge market but we enjoyed sipping Bailey’s hot chocolates while looking at the stalls and doing a bit of shopping.

* Artisan foods and handmade goods at St. George’s Market.
Our last stop before heading to the airport was St. George’s Market – a gorgeous Victorian covered market filled with antiques, homemade food, original artworks, and unique gifts. I managed to do a bit of Christmas shopping and found a vintage toothbrush holder shaped like a dolphin to take home as a souvenir. There were lots of great looking food stalls as well, so if we hadn’t been in such a hurry, it would have made a lovely place to stop for lunch.

what-to-do-in-belfast05what-to-do-in-belfast23what-to-do-in-belfast13what-to-do-in-belfast15Before we knew it, we were in our taxi driving past fields of sheep heading to Belfast International. Being such a short distance from London and with so much to offer in a small area, I can understand why the city has become a really popular city break destination. There’s so much more of Northern Ireland I’d like to see, so I hope I’ll be back again soon.

What about you: have you been to Belfast before? Were there any of your favourite parts of the city that I missed? If you’ve never been, will you be adding it to your Wanderlist?

Love, fairy lights, & weekend adventures,

Post sponsored by Tourism Ireland, but all opinions are my own.
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