Carmen Varner // Travel Influencer, Blogging Coach, Social Media Consultant


Best Places to Stay in Porto, Portugal

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Porto sounds like seagulls flying overhead. Porto sounds like water lapping as you sit by the Douro River. Porto sounds like a group of Portuguese middle-aged women chatting to each other on the bus. Porto sounds like car tires clickety clacketing as it drives across cobblestone. 

After booking my flight from La Rochelle, France, I started to research where to stay in Porto, Portugal. I wanted to know the good, bad, & the ugly with the ultimate goal of finding the best places to stay in Porto. Whether you prefer luxury hotels, affordable hotels, or even Airbnbs, you'll enjoy exploring the seaside city. The best places to stay in Porto are within your fingertips!

Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel Best Places to Stay in Porto, Portugal Where to stay travel influencer
The view of Porto, Portugal & the Douro Valley. Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel is the yellow building. 
This is one of the best places to stay in Porto as far as location!

About Carmen

Hi, bonjour, bom dia. My name is Carmen. What do I know about travel? I’ve visited 22 countries. I’ve worked as a content producer for TripSavvy, the #4 largest site in the ad-supported Travel Information category. As a blogging coaching & social media consultant, some of my clients are travel influencers, travel companies, tourism boards, & more. Learn more about my blogging & career background. Keep reading to discover the best places to stay in Porto.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a small commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you! Learn more about my disclosure.

Best Places to Stay in Porto, Portugal Where to stay travel influencer
Hanging out on the balcony of our Airbnb in Porto, Portugal.

Planning Your Trip to Porto

If you’re considering where to stay in Porto, Portugal, first ponder about what you want to do while you’re visiting. Porto tourism continues to grow, so there may be some crowds depending on the time of year.

Create a list of 10 or more things to do in Porto. How far are you from those things? Ideally, I try to be within a 30-minute transportation ride away from the bulk of my to-do list/what I want to do; the occasional outlier is fine. Ultimately, you don’t want to be commuting for an hour each way every day- that’s a waste of precious time. 

What Are Some of the Best Places to Stay in Porto? 

Decide if you’re more of a hotel person or an Airbnb person. Porto tourism means there are plenty of choices. I have options for both, so read them all or scroll down to find what you’re looking for. Based on actual reviews, these are some of the top-rated, best places to stay in Porto.

Homes with a view of the Douro River.

Best Hotels to Stay in Porto

These are some of the top-rated hotels throughout the city of Porto, according to Google reviews, TripAdvisor reviews, and more. Take a look at each hotel & decide where to stay in Porto, Portugal.

InterContinental Porto - Palacio das Cardosas – Stare at the beautifully restored interiors. InterContinental Porto Palacio das Cardosas overlooks Liberdade Square. You can find the famous Livraria Lello bookstore & São Bento station within a close walk of the hotel.

Pestana Palácio do Freixo, Pousada & National Monument – Pestana Palácio do Freixo has gorgeous views overlooking the Douro River. The 18th-century palace was built by Nicolau Nasoni. Pestana Palácio do Freixo is part of the "The Leading Hotels of the World." This is easily one of the best places to stay in Porto.

Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa – Reviews show that past Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa guests appreciate the hospitality, the rooms, & the amenities (sauna, fitness center, Wi-Fi) but felt as though it might be out of the way for the average tourist. It's modern decor & facilities make it a popular choice.

Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel – Eat breakfast with waterfront views of the Douro River at Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel - World Heritage Site. The Pestana hotel building & location date back to the 16th century. This is a seriously stunning area if you're wondering where to stay in Porto, Portugal!

Infante Sagres – The Hotel Infante Sagres is a historic luxury hotel. It underwent renovation & reopened in April 2018. Notable decorative features of the Infante Sagres include ironwork, carved wood detail, & stained glass panels.

Spot Apartments Porto – The hip, cool rooms at Spot Apartments Porto feel homey, unlike your a boring, sterile hotel room. Spot Apartments Porto guests seem to love the location, clean and spacious apartment, & the friendly staff.

There are so many hotels & accommodations in the area. Scroll down to search the map to find where to stay in Porto, Portugal.
Blue and white azulejo tiles in Porto Portugal Best place to stay
Blue & white azulejo tiles in Porto - if you look closely, these are all individually painted tiles!

Search for Hotels in Porto

Search for where to stay in Porto, Portugal with this handy dandy map. Type in the date of your travel & it'll give you a list of options.

Consult my guide on how to save hundreds of dollars on flight tickets. I paid $350 for roundtrip tickets to London & $420 for roundtrip tickets to Paris! Browse through these tips on how to eat on a budget while traveling abroad without depriving yourself. Scroll down & read comments from readers to learn their tips too.

Best Places to Stay in Porto, Portugal Where to stay travel influencer blogging coach
Best places to stay in Porto, Portugal - Hotels, Airbnbs, & other accommodations. 

Airbnb Accommodations

Sign up for Airbnb with my link & get $40 off your booking. That could be a free night's stay somewhere! I stayed in Airbnbs in Amsterdam, NetherlandsOslo, Norway; Tijuana, Mexico, & manyyyyy more cities/countries.

Other Sources of Information on Porto

Visit Portugal - Information on Porto tourism & Portugal.
Visit Porto & the North - News, events, things to do, & information on Porto & the area north of Porto.
Visit Porto - Information on Porto Card transportation, trip planning, entertainment in Porto.

Do you prefer hotels or Airbnbs? Where do you think are the best places to stay in Porto?

How Physical Therapy, Acupressure Mats, & CBD Helped My Pain

Sunday, September 29, 2019

This post is sponsored by CBDMEDIC but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

When I was a kiddo, I lived my life thinking I was invincible. The scratches, scrapes, & stitches of childhood molded me. Each scar told its own story. And yet, those cool little tales become more troublesome, more worrisome as you get older. You don't heal as well or as quickly or as fully. An old college injury left me searching for ways to curb the pain: physical therapy, acupressure mats, CBD.

In university, I twisted around to crack my back, something I'd done probably 3 billion times before, but this time was different. Something clicked, cracked, moved in my back. An inhale or an exhale felt as if a brick slammed against glass, an explosion of sharp agony. I remember being at an outdoor event with my peers & trying to keep the tears in. 

Luckily, my school campus had adequate healthcare services & I ended up doing an entire semester of weekly physical therapy sessions with state-of-the-art technology for around $60 bucks total. The ache subsided. I graduated the next semester. I could breathe easy, literally. But, as I said, those injuries don't just vanish. It's still there all these years later. I still feel a dull discomfort.

It's there in a ball of tightness in my right shoulder blade. It's there when Fred places his arm on my shoulder as we cuddle at night & I have to gently move his hand a few inches so my scapula doesn't spasm.

While the soreness didn't go away completely, physical therapy genuinely made a huge difference. My acupressure mat & pillow (a mat with tiny spikes on it) relieve tension & curb muscle spasms. CBDMEDIC helps me the same way but has the added advantage of being able to use it on-the-go. 

I'm not busting out my acupressure mat in the middle of a press trip hiking through Central California, but I can easily squirt a pea-sized amount of CBDMEDIC Back & Neck Pain Relief into my hand to warm it up. I rub it on my shoulder blade. The scent releases immediately. Potent & invigorating. The smell reminds me of the minty gum my Nana used to always carry around in her handbag.

You'll start to feel the effects within 60 seconds; I know because I timed it. :]

I've tried quite a few CBD salves, balms, rubs, ointments, but CBDMEDIC is unique because the tingly feeling actually gives me a bit of extended relief. It's a soothing diversion. I've been working at my laptop for the past 90 minutes & I still feel the tranquilizing sensation. My shoulder doesn't feel tense, it feels open. It's genuinely effective & the natural ingredients are pretty swoon-worthy.

Menthol, camphor, argan oil, coconut oil (MCT oil), cottonseed oil, frankincense oil, hemp oil (THC-free), honeysuckle oil, jojoba seed oil, & myrrh oil. *Insert the drooling emoji & heart eyes emoji & maybe a couple plant emojis*

CBDMEDIC developed & manufactured their products with 15 years of pharmaceutical experience. Don't sweat. CBDMEDIC Back & Neck Pain Relief & Active Sport™ Pain Relief are made from CBD hemp oil. THC-free, safe, & legal. Check, check, & check!

CBD helps people feel better, feel less pain, & feel some relief. If you haven't tried CBD yet, I encourage you to do some research to see if it's something that might work for you. Find out about CBDMEDIC's other products, lurk the ingredient list, & learn more about their story by visiting the CBDMEDIC website & at select CVS locations.

Have you tried CBD products? What about CBDMEDIC? How rad are the ingredients?! Do you have a stupid injury story too or is it just me?! Please say it isn't so. :]

What I'm Watching, Reading, & Listening to: True Crime Podcasts, Anthony Bourdain, & Aladdin

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Despite an influx of social media consulting clients, I still had time to watch a whole slew of television series, listen to a ridiculous amount of true crime murder podcasts, & read the occasional book. I recently reached the 2-year mark of being fully self-employed as a blogging coach, travel influencer/writer, & social media manager for small brands & businesses! I work remotely, so I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, libraries, coworking places, & anywhere with Wi-Fi.

Here's everything I'm watching, reading, & listening to lately!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a small commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you! Learn more about my disclosure.

What I'm Watching, Reading, & Listening to: True Crime Podcasts, Anthony Bourdain, & Aladdin
Reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain & probably listening to a true-crime podcast.

TV Shows I'm Watching (& One Movie)


Hell yes, I went to see the new Aladdin film with Will Smith in theatres. It was incredible. I was singing along the way & can appreciate some of the updates they made to the characters & plotline to align with modern times. My favorite is the "Prince Ali" song! Did you see the new Aladdin? Do you like the original with Robin Williams or the new one? 

Rick and Morty

I'm years late to the Rick and Morty party but this inappropriate animated comedy is made for adults. It's the  If you're curious where to watch Ricky and Morty online, you can find seasons 1-3 on Hulu.

The Act

Being the true crime fan that I am, I promptly watched The Act once I heard it was coming out. I'd already seen the documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest. The series revolves around the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard & Dee Blanchard — murder, lies, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. The Act stars Patricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb, & Chloë Sevigny.

Game of Thrones

I can't be the only person who completely binge-watched Game of Thrones in a three-month span. Who's with me? Man oh man, although this extremely popular show premiered in 2011, I only began watching in 2019. Spoiler-free commentary from one of my Facebook friends, "I liked the ending but the pacing of the last season was so much faster than the others that it felt off."

The Golden Girls

Sometimes you just need a wholesome show to relax after a long day of work. After spending all day listening to true crime podcasts, it's optimal for my brain (& dreams/night terrors) to listen to four mature ladies from the 80s talk about life. The Golden Girls is refreshing & holds up well after all these years.

Hey Arnold!

I actually watched Hey Arnold! a lot as a cute little kiddo. It was on Nickelodeon & are used to watch at my grandma's house. All those were the days when responsibilities were little just like myself. I watched whatever is available on Hulu but you can also watch Hey Arnold! The Ultimate Collection.

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars is the updated version of Gossip Girl, except gnarlier, darker, & deadlier. The show revolves around a bunch of high schoolers & their web of lies. It was something to put on while typing or writing.


GLOW stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, among others, & follows a group of ladies as they dabble in the world of wrestling; the show takes place in the 1980s & was inspired by GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a series which ran from 1986-1989.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Other than actual true crime, The Handmaid's Tale is it one of the most horrifying TV shows out there right now. It’s based off a best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood. Set in the modern USA, the show takes place in the totalitarian society of Gilead, where are women are seen as property, oppressed, & forced to carry children for high-ranking officials.

Books I'm Reading

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I read the updated edition of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Anthony's voice seeps off the pages of Kitchen Confidential. It feels like you're watching him on The Food Network, his voice shines through, almost blindingly. The book reads like a diary entry from the year 2000 before Bourdain became the badass culinary iconic we know him as.

You Are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero

Technically the full title reads You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable. Use Sincero's You Are a Badass Every Day as your daily dose of inspiration, affirmations, & strategies to stay empowered to feel your most badass.

Podcasts I'm Listening To

Crime Junkie

Ashley Flowers & Brit Prawat host Crime Junkie, one of the most popular true crime podcasts out there. They use sound in the podcast to relay an eerie vibe, much like film scores for soundtracks to dramatic movies. It certainly makes me feel more on edge. Crime Junkie recently made headlines due to plagiarism allegations.


"This is Phoebe Judge." Listen to any episode of this podcast & you'll know exactly what I’m talking about; the host, Phoebe Judge has a unique voice, which I always associate with the classic journalism/newscaster persona. Criminal is heavily researched so you know you’re getting the facts & the latest information available on a case.


Morbid falls under what I consider soap opera/gossipy/personal true crime shows, as does My Favorite Murder (listed below). Morbid, hosted by Ash & Alaina, has a sassy dynamic banter. It turns out the ladies are actually related. Can't lie, it took me about 20 episodes to determine who was speaking because I couldn't tell them apart! P.S. Alaina is an autopsy technician, so she brings real-life perspective to...death. 

My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder might be the original true-crime podcast don’t quote me on that one though. This popular podcast sets itself apart because it's considered a true crime comedy podcast. Hosts Georgia Hardstark & Karen Kilgariff aim to give you a couple of chuckles even though they’re talking about pretty heavy stuff. The ladies released their book Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide in mid-2019.

To Live and Die in LA

To Live and Die in LA podcast follows the disappearance of actor Adea Shabani. Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss investigates the mystery, unraveling one thread at a time until the whole thing comes apart. Unlike the other true crime podcasts in my list, this podcast covers one case the whole way through, allowing Strauss to decipher what happened. Prepare to be enthralled.

Anacapa Island Day Trip

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Magic exists in the natural marvels of Channel Islands National Park. Off the coast of Southern California, you'll find five islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, & the smallest of them all, Anacapa Island. Available by boat only, these islands are secluded from the buzzing freeways & cell phone chatter of everyday life. You won't find a Wi-Fi signal out here, but you might find yourself.

Scroll down to learn the answers to: Where is Anacapa Island? How do you get there? What are some things to do on Anacapa Island? Is there camping? Are there hotels in Downtown Oxnard? How can you do an Anacapa Island day trip?

About Carmen

Hello, welcome to my blog! I'm Carmen. I'm a travel writer (also known as a travel blogger or travel influencer). Some of my most popular travel posts are Things to Do at Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, How You Can Visit Central Perk Cafe from Friends, & Your Guide to Oslo, Norway. I prefer black tea over coffee. I've worked with brands & companies such as The French Ministry of Agriculture, KAABOO Del Mar, Queen of the South TV show on USA,  OLLY, & more. You can learn more About Me here.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a small commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure.

Dolphins near Anacapa Islands Arch on board the Island Packers Channel Islands National Park
A pod of dolphins followed our Island Packers boat on the return trip from Anacapa Island - near Anacapa Arch.

Where is Anacapa Island?

Part of the Channel Islands National Park, you can find Anacapa Islands off the coast of Oxnard, California. Oxnard is 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles; 38 miles south of Santa Barbara. Anacapa Island has three islets named East, Middle, & West Anacapa Islands. However, you aren't permitted to explore all three of them. It's not like you can walk from one island to the next anyway, that's why you need a boat for transportation.

Other things to do in California: Go skydiving & wine tasting in Lompoc, California

 On the way to Anacapa Island on the Island Packers boat whale watching dolphins
Travel to Anacapa Island on the Island Packers boat.

Transportation Around the Islands

I took a majestic boat ride with Island Packers. Arrive at the Oxnard Harbor. Travel time takes about an hour each way. Fred & I downloaded a few episodes of the Dr. Death podcast so we could listen with headphones from our phone. A layer of clouds protected us from the sun & the waves of the ocean. Apparently, the clearer the skies, the choppier the water. The more you know, right?

As we ventured past the Anacapa arch our way back to Oxnard, we saw a pod of dolphins. They swam right next to us. It was a top life experience. Island Packers offers trips to Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Barbara Island, whale watching, & other exciting options.

Once the Island Packers boat docks, adventurers step onto a ladder at Landing Cove then they corral everyone to cover the essential rules of Anacapa Island. After that, get ready for your quads to burn because you have 157 steps to climb. I felt a bit winded but the view from the top was spectacular, the first time you can see what it looks like from the island. You're really stuck out there on a small blip of land in the middle of the ocean, okay well it's about 10 miles off the coast of Oxnard, California.

Other things to do in California: Beach hopping & meditation in Encinitas, California

Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, Pelicans, Island Fox
Western Gull mama (probably) & cute little spotted chick.

Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, Pelicans, Island Fox, Oh My!

Visit Anacapa Island from April through mid-August & you'll run into some seabirds, particularly the Western gull. An annoyed gull pooped on Fred's backpack as we walked by its nest. If you're not a fan of birds, guano (bird poop), possible bird carcasses, loud squawking (literally anytime you walk by a nest or chicks), questionable smells, then avoid voyaging to the island during this time frame. However, if you want to experience an absolutely remarkable natural phenomenon, then mark your calendarbook a ticket. You might spot brown pelicans, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls, California sea lions, harbor seals. I saw pelicans, Western gulls, sea lions, & dolphins!

Animals on Anacapa Island: Western Gulls, Pelicans, Island Fox, Sea lions Island Packers boat tour whale watching
Sea lions relaxing & making a bunch of noise in a private cove.

Anacapa Island Camping

We only did a day trip on the island, but there are Anacapa Island camping options. We saw several campers already setup from the day before. There were a couple campers who left on the evening boat out for the day. The campsites are "primitive." That's the wording from the National Park Service website, but I'd called them minimal or bare. 

Anacapa Island provides picnic tables, food storage boxes, & pit toilets for use. But ultimately, you need to take all trash with you as there are no rubbish bins. The island has 7 campsites that fit 4-6 people per site. Reservations are required, so you can't just decide you're having a great time staring at the baby Western Gulls & have a sleepover. Check campsite availability on, the official website to make your Anacapa Island camping reservations.

Is There Food, Drink, & Water on Anacapa Island?

No, make sure to bring everything you need with you. There's no food, drink, or water on the island. We brought a couple liters of water, sandwich or pita pockets, chips, fruit, granola bar, & some chocolate in a backpack for our Anacapa Island day trip. You must take all garbage with you; we simply put it in our backpack to throw away once we got back to Oxnard.

Things to Do on Anacapa Island Water Sports   Picnicking   Hiking   Camping   Bird-Watching Historic & Cultural Site Information Site Photography Ranger Station Snorkeling Swimming Visitor Center Wildlife Viewing Water Access Scuba Diving Whale-Watching
Things to Do on Anacapa Island: Hiking, Bird-Watching, Camping.

Things to Do on Anacapa Island

We walked the entire trail around the island, saw the Anacapa Island lighthouse, marveled at the views from Inspiration Point, got pooped on by a Western Gull (well, Fred did at least), picnicked with a panoramic ocean view. Despite the boat full of people we arrived on the island with, we were able to have many private, secluded moments. 

Activities to Do on Anacapa Island

Water Sports 
Historic & Cultural Site Information Site 
Ranger Station 
Visitor Center 
Wildlife Viewing 
Water Access 
Scuba Diving 

Ocean view Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort Things to do in Oxnard, California
Our ocean view room from Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard, California.

Where to Stay (Besides Camping on Anacapa Island): Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort

I stayed at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort with a remarkable ocean view. Our spacious two-room suite Mandalay Beach Hotel is a good option for kids, families, & couples.  They have a spa, fitness center, huge pool. I took advantage of Happy Hour by the pool. Just show your wristbands & order your drink. I grabbed the house wine while Fred opted for their beer on tap. We sipped our beverages along with the dozens of other people doing the same thing on a Friday evening. Make sure to eat the made-to-order brekkie at the Coastal Grill in the morning.

Hotels in Oxnard

Take a look at some of the hotels in Downtown Oxnard. You can customize what day you'll arrive/leave & how many people in your group. You can even expand your hotel search to include Oxnard & surrounding areas:

Things to Do in Oxnard, CA

You can spend the entire day or weekend admiring nature in Oxnard. There are endless things to do in Oxnard, California as far as strolls by the beach, kayaking, exploring the Channel Islands National Park, & thriving outside. Visit Oxnard has some fabulous suggestions if you need more inspiration for places to stay, where to dine, things to do, & local events in Oxnard.

Other Fun Stuff

The National Parks Service (NPS) even has a few live camera feeds so you can see what's going on. Take a look at the Bald Eagle Cam.

Have a question? Comment below & I will answer the best I can. Let me know if you've visited Anacapa Island. Would the birds scare you off? :]

Central Perk Cafe From Friends: Warner Bros Studio Tour

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Friends fans can sit on the couch at Central Perk Cafe where Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, & Chandler spent so much of their time. Take a photo in the Friends cafe. Stand where Red Ross played rugby. See where Rachel, Ross, Chandler, & Monica walked down the stairs for prom. The Warner Bros Tour Hollywood is a must-see experience if you like FriendsHarry Potter, Batman, Gilmore Girls, & entertainment in general. 

Is Central Perk real? Can you do a Friends set tour? Where is Central Perk Cafe? Are there cheap hotels in Burbank, CA? Plan your Friends trip & stay up-to-date on everything you need to know about Warner Brothers Studio Tour Los Angeles.

Learn more About Carmen here.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a small commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure.

Is Central Perk Cafe From Friends real? Warner Bros Studio Tour Burbank California
Keep reading to learn all about Central Perk Cafe, Lot 48, Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood, & more.

Tell Your Warner Bros Tour Guide You're a Friends Fan

You have to buy Warner Bros Studio tickets! The Warner Bros Studio Tour is located in Burbank, which is part of the greater Los Angeles Area.  There isn't an official Friends set tour, but the Warner Bros Hollywood Tour is customizable based on tour participants, so make sure to specify you're a Friends fan! They'll tell you all the juicy details, show you where certain scenes were filmed, & more! 

You know when Ross played rugby? The piece of grass is TINY! The magic of angles. You can see where Rachel, Ross, Chandler, & Monica walked down the stairs for prom. There were a couple other Friends fans on our tour, but we also had Gilmore Girls fans, Batman fans, Big Bang Theory fans, quite a nice range. Speak up or else your tour guide will talk about what others ask for! 

WB Studios Is Central Perk Cafe Friends real? Warner Bros Studio Tour Burbank California
Explore the guided Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Burbank, California.

Is Central Perk Real?

Yes & no. Warner Bros Tour Hollywood created a real-life Central Perk Cafe where visitors can sit down to enjoy a coffee, located at Stage 48 in Burbank, California. The Central Perk Cafe isn't a replica of the Friends set, but you can still eat a sandwich or pastry in the Friends cafe. Order food at the counter then chose where to eat from the available tables & seats. It was pretty busy at the cafe. Buy a Friends coffee mug, coffee, Friends souvenirs, & any Warner Bros Tour souvenirs your heart desires.

Tip: The Friends cafe does include a replica of the Central Perk sign. There might be a line in front of the sign but it goes quickly. 

Is Central Perk Cafe From Friends real? Warner Bros Studio Tour Burbank California
Don't forget to take a photo in front of the Central Perk Cafe sign on Lot 48 at the end of the Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Is There a Friends Set Tour?

There is no official set tour. The Friends set tour doesn't include Joey, Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, or Phoebe's apartment. However, the Central Perk Cafe is available at the end of the Warner Bros Studio Tour at Stage 48 when your guide drops you off at the gift shop. This is at the end of the tour so there's no guide for this portion.

The self-guided set tour does include a replica of the Central Perk Cafe from Friends that we all know & love, including the couch, counter, tables, Phoebe's guitar, & more! You can look at the inside of Central Perk along with all the other people on the mini set tour from the side of the set. You cannot walk around the Friends cafe set replica.

Central Perk Cafe From Friends: Warner Bros Studio Tour set tour
The Friends set replica on Lot 48 of Warner Bros Tour in Burbank, California looks lonely without our favorite characters.

Tip: Stand in line to get your photo taken on the  Central Perk Cafe set replica. You can pose on the couch with a Friends coffee mug. Don't miss this iconic photo opportunity!

Get your photo taken on the Central Perk Cafe set replica. You can pose on the couch with a Friends coffee mug. Warner Bros Studio Tour
Snap a picture on the Central Perk Cafe couch with a Friends coffee mug.

Where to Stay/Hotels in Burbank, CA

There are a couple Marriott Burbank hotel options: Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport & the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Los Angeles Burbank/Downtown. Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport is less than a mile away from the Burbank Airport. The Marriott Los Angeles Burbank/Downtown is a 15-minute drive from Universal Studios Hollywood & Warner Bros. Studios. Burbank Inn and Suites is 5 miles away from Universal Studios.

Do a quick search for hotels in Burbank, CA. Just add your travel dates to see what's available & what the cost is:

I Cried When Friends Ended on TV

I grew up watching the show over the years & even watched the finale when it aired. I wrote about it in my diary later that night. I mourned for the end of the show & cried at its last moments. I tore up the diary entry & threw it away years later because I was so ashamed at how lame I sounded. I must've been a moody teenager at this point. But it's a fond memory now that I can laugh & reminisce about. I can watch a Friends DVD, the Friends box set, or Netflix when I want my Friends fix; it always reminds me of growing up, much like the characters in the show.

Is Central Perk real? Friends cafe: Warner Bros Studio Tour box dvd
The side of the Friends Central Perk Cafe set with a line of people waiting to take their photo.

Do you have a question about Warner Bros Tour, Central Perk Cafe, or the Friends set tour? Please comment below & I'll answer the best I can. 

Looking for Friends-related gifts?

- Buy your Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood tickets.
- Buy the Friends box set to watch every episode whenever you want.
- Buy a Friends coffee mug to drink all the coffee in the world.

Looking for places to stay in Burbank, CA?

Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Los Angeles Burbank/Downtown
Burbank Inn and Suites
Holiday Inn Burbank

All Friends fans should add the Warner Bros Studio Tour their list of Friends-related things to do. Is Central Perk real? You bet! It's located in Burbank, California. You can visit a replica of the set & even take your photo with a giant Friends coffee mug. I had a blast exploring the WB gift shop & finding out all the juicy behind-the-scenes details from our tour guide. 

What's your favorite TV show? :] Leave a comment!

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Fun Things to Do in Lompoc, California

Friday, June 28, 2019

Are you curious about things to do/what to do in Lompoc? Wondering where is Lompoc, CA? A few people asked me about this! Or perhaps you're trying to find cheap hotels in the Lompoc area? Scroll through this guide to answer your biggest questions, & probably answer some questions you never had at all.

About Carmen

Hi, I'm Carmen. I'm a travel influencer & blogging coach who shares my experiences with my readers & anyone browsing for trip ideas (hey, that's you!). I visited Lompoc, California on a press trip with a handful of journalists, magazine editors, & writers to experience a piece of what Explore Lompoc has to offer. "What is a press trip/familiarization tour?" you ask. I explain it in this post.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a small commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure.

Things to Do in Lompoc, CA California Downtown street art and murals
Mural in Downtown Lompoc

How Do You Pronounce Lompoc?

Make sure you pronounce Lompoc properly or you might get corrected by a long-time resident. Say it with me now: LOM-poke. "Poke" as in "Did you just poke me?" Lom-poke. Lom-poke. Lom-poke. Say it 10 times without looking at the word & it helps.

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Things to Do in Lompoc, CA California
Woodfired pizza from Valle Eatery + Bar

Where is Lompoc, CA?

Several people sent me messages & comments asking where is Lompoc, CA? I pondered that too until I drove my butt there. Lompoc is located in Santa Barbara County. It's 60 miles south of San Luis Obispo, 55 miles north of Santa Barbara, & 155 miles north of Los Angeles. Lompoc is fresh & fun but not ridiculously out of the way.

Where to Stay in Lompoc, CA?

I stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Lompoc – Central Coast, which has a marvelous breakfast. I nibbled on the made-to-order omelette with fresh vegetables in the morning before heading out for all the things to do in Lompoc, CA. Some of the other journalists on the press trip stayed at Hilton Garden Inn. Don't fret, there are several options for cheap hotels in Lompoc, CA. Don't like hotels? Sign up for Airbnb with my link & get $40 off your booking.

Here's a map:

What to Do in Lompoc? There is a plethora of things to do in Lompoc, California, especially if you're traveling as a couple, with friends, family, children, or solo. 

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Things to do in Lompoc Do a Walking Mural Tour in Downtown Lompoc, CA
T-Rex Mural in Lompoc

Do a Walking Mural Tour in Downtown Lompoc

The Lompoc Mural Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing art to the walls of Lompoc in order to share Lompoc's history, tell the story of ethnic & cultural groups, & bring tourism to the city. They have a mural map with the exact location & details of 36 murals. Print it out or look it up on your phone as you do a walking mural tour. There are many beautiful pieces of art throughout the streets of Downtown Lompoc.

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

Founded in 1787, the beautifully restored La Purisima Mission shares a glimpse into the past. You can choose guided tours of the buildings & grounds or venture off on your own. Walk through the tranquil mission gardens. Hike La Purisima Mission State Historic Park's 25 miles of trails. Grab a souvenir or hand-crafted item from the Gift Shop. I bought a stunning pink & green shell necklace. La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, CA even has living history events such as a grape harvest, tortilla making, candle making, rope making, basket weaving, & other cool things to do with the family.

Things to Do in Lompoc, California Go Skydiving at Skydive Santa Barbara
My Skydiving Experience at Skydive Santa Barbara
Check out the Skydiver's Handbook

Go Skydiving at Skydive Santa Barbara

It felt frigid in the tiny airplane on the ride up. I start to shiver. The engine buzzed louder than my thoughts. The first tandem skydivers open the airplane door, scoot to the edge of the plane, lean out, & then vanish like a puff of air. Now it's our turn - my badass female tandem skydiver who has done 8,000+ jumps -  we inch our butts to the edge of the airplane & into the abyss. I brace myself, tilt forward, & oh shittttt we’re outtttttttt of the planeeeeeeeee. Magical. Positively magical. As far as exciting things to do in Lompoc, California, I highly recommend skydiving at Skydive Santa Barbara!

Where to Eat in Lompoc, CA

Sissy's Uptown Cafe, a family-owned business, is the hot-spot in town for pie. The coconut cream pie came so highly recommended but alas, it was sold out by the time we arrived. In fact, they were sold out of almost all their pies. Sissy's pie notoriety might literally leave you wanting more. Hangry & need a quick & casual food in Lompoc? Burrito, pizza, sushi, oh my.  Plenty of options to order, grab, & go. If you want to sit down to eat, try one of Lompoc's full-service restaurants. I ate pad thai at Herb Home Thai Restaurant, sampled desserts & woodfired pizza from Valle Eatery + Bar inside the Hilton Garden Inn.

Things to do in Lompoc, CA Wine Tasting in Lompoc Arcadian Winery to Zotovich Vineyards
Blue nail polish: OPI (similar) // Hair tie ribbons: Kenz Laurenz (similar)
Wine from Dierberg Vineyard

Wine Tasting in Lompoc From A-Z

Choose from 40 wineries on Lompoc's wine trail, from Arcadian Winery to Zotovich Vineyards. The rolling hills & sprawling land make for some pretty scrumptious wine & stunning views. Check out the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, a cluster of wineries in Santa Rita Hills, if you want easy access to multiple wineries. The media crew first met at Dierberg Vineyard for a press trip wine tasting.

Airbnb Accommodations

There are several cheap hotels in Lompoc, CA & affordable options but you can also search for Airbnbs. Sign up for Airbnb with my link & get $40 off your booking. That could be a free night somewhere. I loved my Airbnb in Oslo, Norway, affordable & chic. I made coffee every morning. Ahh, I'm thankful for Airbnb memories. But I loved my Embassy Suites by Hilton Lompoc – Central Coast experience too!

Things to do in Lompoc, CA Lompoc Flower Fields what to do California

If you haven't paid a visit to Lompoc, integrate it into your upcoming travel plans. This buzzing town won't stay unknown for long. Soon people won't ask "where is Lompoc?" they'll say "I had no clue there were so many things to do in Lompoc, California."

Fun Things to Do in Lompoc, California


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