5 reasons why Jersey is the perfect weekend getaway

Last month our little family of four hopped on a plane for 30 minutes to visit the gorgeous channel island, Jersey. As the southernmost of the British isles, Jersey is also the largest, at a whopping 5 miles x 9 miles.

From the first moment we stepped off the plane, I knew this would be a seaside getaway my family would love. From the gorgeous beaches to the incredible food and the natural beauty, we couldn’t get enough of this tiny island! It made for a perfect weekend trip, even though to be honest we could have easily stretched it to a week (or more!). It was also incredibly family friendly with so much to keep the children entertained.

Ok, let’s get to it: here are my top 5 reasons that Jersey is my new favorite seaside getaway.

Exhilarating road trips from cliffside to beaches

Driving in Jersey is an experience in itself! One minute you’re driving next to the water and the next you’re winding through mountains and farmland next to the famous Jersey cows. We had a few noteworthy drives to share.

On the northwest side of the island, we drove a winding path that took us to the top of Plémont Beach, with cliffsides home to peregine falcons, and beaches and tide pools you can only explore at low tide. We climbed down the long staircase to the beach, but high tide meant we couldn’t explore the hidden cave or the golden sand beaches. A good reason to return one day.

A cafe at the top of the cliffs has a lovely lookout over the ocean, but it is cash only so don’t get caught out or you’ll miss a chance for Jersey ice cream.

Another favorite drive was from the Mont Orgueil castle in Gorey to the charming Rozel beach. The roads wind alongside the coast with beautiful views of crashing waves and tiny seaside cottages dotting the landscape, and suddenly a 180 degree turn has you driving up a hillside, passing by farmland and tall trees. Within 5 minutes, you’re spit back out onto the cute village town of Rozel.

I think there may be about 4 small shops and cafes in Rozel, and 10 houses that hug Rozel Beach. The tiniest cutest village you’ve ever seen! There were a few holiday rentals that we may try to book on our next visit, too. At the end of the pier, The Hungryman food truck awaits with classic beachfront fare: burgers, chips, sausages, etc. We spent an hour on the beach playing in the waves and eating our delicious burgers and chips, quite content to never leave!

Beautiful beaches

We were lucky to stay in St Brelades Bay Hotel, a gorgeous 4-star luxury oceanfront hotel right on the golden beach St Brelades Bay. Very family friendly and with gardens and a beautiful outdoor pool area for the summertime.

The tides are quite dramatic, which made for an interesting lesson about tides and moons with our children (wait but I still don’t really understand how this works?!). I read that at low tide the island doubles in size! Not sure if that’s completely true, but the beaches definitely double in size. We loved exploring St. Brelades Bay, especially the archaeological cave with fossils, La Cotte de St.Brelade.

St Brelades Bay

Other beaches on our favorites list: Portelet Bay Beach, Rozel Beach, Plémont Beach, and the beach near La Pulente. We went off-season (the last weekend in March) so there really weren’t any crowds on the beach.

Portelet Bay Beach
Rozel Beach
Plémont Beach

The cutest wildlife

You’ve heard of the famous Jersey cows that dot the island. We saw plenty of these cuties, but we saw so much more! Tiny little lizards had invaded the walls of Mont Orguiel Castle, and we found a few in the garden behind St Brelades Bay Hotel, too. We also have a bird watcher in the family and kept them very happy with sightings of peregine falcons and other seabirds.

Gorgeous flowers everywhere at Jersey Zoo, and don’t miss the little (big) gorilla behind us

One of our favorite days out was to the Jersey Zoo. The Zoo was the first of its kind to open with conservation in mind, and still today has a strong mission around animal conservation, housing some of the world’s rarest animals. The zoo grounds were beautiful, too, with magnolias, cameillas, and jasmine on every corner. We loved the flamingos, fruit bats, meerkats and the gorillas. The zoo also has a fantastic indoor childrens play area with a nice cafe, which made a perfect little spot to relax during a short rain storm.

The local food scene

I can’t think about Jersey without remembering the incredible food we had. Honestly, maybe I’ve been to too many British seasides where fish and chips rule the day, but Jersey was worlds apart! I think the French influence may have something to do with it, but we were happy to eat our way through this island.

Portelet Bay Cafe: A small family-run cafe on the tucked away Portelet Bay. Sit beachside and enjoy authentic wood-fired pizzas and seasonal freshly caught fish. We had lovely pizzas and a mezze plate, and finished with – what else – ice cream! The owners are from the UK, escaped hectic city life for this piece of paradise and restored a formerly run-down building into the gorgeous inspired place it is today. Access can be tricky, however, as it’s only by walking down stairs from the headland. Be sure to book ahead as it fills up.

Jersey Crab Shack: Seafood and more at this beautiful beachfront location in St Brelades Bay. The interiors are lush, the food is great, and service is even better! If you’re not near St Brelades Bay, there are other locations on the island.

The Hungryman: A bit of a wildcard, this food truck serving gourmet burgers, sausages, crab sandwiches and homemade cakes is permanently parked on Rozel Bay. Seating is al fresco, so bundle up if it’s a chilly day. The food is great and the charming atmosphere of Rozel Bay is unbeatable. Check their opening hours before you make the trip!

St. Helier Food Market: Local market serving the island for 200+ years, we found a lovely spot in bustling St. Helier to sit and enjoy some noodles and gyoza at ginger and cupcakes at the pretty bakery, Flour.

A good friend familiar with Jersey also recommend El Tico for brunch, which is definitely on our list for next time.

Childrens activities

With small children, relaxing on a holiday is sort of – nonexistent. Which is why we normally just call it “a trip”. 🙂

Jersey, however, spoiled us. There are loads of fun days out for kids, but the key – every single place we visited had clean, modern, and actually nice facilities (no soft play plastic grimy chairs). And most importantly, they cracked the code of having really nice cafes to keep the parents happy. Also helps that in Jersey you’re never in the car for more than 20 minutes so no “are we there yet?” cries for help from my very best backseat drivers.

Amazin’ Adventure Park has indoor and outdoor play areas, a small petting zoo, go-karts, slides, bouncing and more.

Jersey Zoo – Conservation focused zoo, beautiful grounds with a lovely cafe onsite.

Mont Orgueil Castle – This imposing fortress protected Jersey from the French invasion over 500 years ago and still stands today, with beautiful views over the island and ocean. Perched on a hill above the lovely Gorey harbour, with great restaurants and a perfect spot to enjoy Jersey ice cream.

The Botanic Gardens at Samarès Manor – Beautiful gardens with so many little hidden corners to explore and play, a newly opened cafe serving a gorgeous menu with vegan cakes, and – of course – a lovely little playground with picnic areas.

We moved quite fast and fit all this in during a 3 day/2 night trip, but we made lasting memories and fell in love with this small island! Thank you to Visit Jersey for having us, and we cannot wait to return for the perfect island break.

London in Bloom: My Top 4 Places to Find Magnolia

The warm weather this year has shocked all of London, including the delicate and pretty magnolia blossom – they are being coaxed out a bit early this year! I thought I would share a few of my favorite place to find these majestic flowering trees. Early to mid-March is typically peak magnolia in London, but it really does vary tree by tree. I hope this guide inspires you to go and explore the prettiest time of the year in London.

South Kensington. Walking between the South Kensington and Gloucester Road tube stops will bring you face to face with some of London’s most statuesque magnolia trees. With the gorgeous white stucco London mansions as a backdrop, the magnolia blossom colours just pop.

Notting Hill. There are several of these beauties around Notting Hill. Exit the Portobello Road tube stop, walk towards Portobello road and don’t be afraid to explore the side streets that are dotted with colorful houses and doors, and make your way to Holland Park, for some stunning magnolia.

Chelsea. Chelsea is actually covered in magnolia! It’s hard to walk around the village without spotting one. My favorite place to photograph is the area around St. Leonards Terrace – it is magnolia heaven.

Cathedrals and courtyards are a good place to find magnolia. St Mary le Strand is framed by magnolia trees, the churchyard in St Olave Hart Street, and courtyards south of Chancery Street (and getting lost in the back streets and courtyards in this area is like going back in time!).

Outside of London, there are a handful of National Trust gardens that would be a gorgeous day out! Maybe when I can actually drive again (waiting to pass that driving test soon), I’ll venture out to explore. Find the gardens here.

Happy blossom hunting!

My Guide to Surviving January in London (or anywhere)

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It’s cold and dark outside.

I’ve just recovered from the flu.

I’m endlessly searching warm places to holiday.

It must be January! Do you feel it?

I’ve never been particularly good at January, but especially since moving to London where it’s dark and the weather is often grey/rainy, I’m not the easiest person to be around this month. I tend to turn inwards, stay inside, and generally dream of being somewhere else.

We moved here from Washington DC in September 5 years ago, and that January was the hardest on record. I was lonely, getting used to being a stay at home mom for the first time, and to top things off I had two miscarriages in a row right before Christmas. It was a rough entry, and I just don’t regard January as a good month since that year.

BUT. I am trying to turn that around this year. There are a few things I’ve found that help me get out of my January funk, so I wanted to share.

  1. Go for a morning walk. As tempting as it is to crawl back into bed after the school run, instead I make plans for a walk through one of my favorite neighborhoods. I try to do one walk a week in winter (Hampstead is up next) because though it can be cold, I feel alive and that winter light is stunning.
  2. Schedule a breakfast or lunch with friends. Food is always going to get me out of the door. Somewhere light and airy is always good, with a good coziness factor, too, because hey it’s January.
  3.  Make travel plans for the year. This year we have our sights set on visiting the US with the kids, which will cut into a big portion of our travel budget, but it’s been too long since seeing family and reconnecting with our roots (aka visiting Target and going to an American movie theatre for buttered popcorn). I’m also looking at Morocco and Egypt, as my 7 year old has been asking to see the pyramids and camels for the past 2 years. We’re also planning on doing a bit of UK travel, too, as I’m planning on finally being able to drive again once I pass my driving test.
  4. Hang up new art on the walls. There’s something about a house refresh that gives me all the good energy. I love to find digital prints on etsy and print off through a local printer for an inexpensive change to my gallery wall.
  5. Buy new plants. We’re lucky in the UK to have a few good plant delivery services, and Patch Plants is one of them. I’ve just ordered a chinese money plant which are so peppy and happy, just the kind of plant I need for our coffee table.

This list isn’t exhaustive, just a few things I’ve done recently that have helped me shake off my January doldrums. I’d love to hear what you do to make the most of these winter months!