Hi, Adventurers!

East Coast Contessa luxury travel blogger

I’m Alex, the author behind East Coast Contessa, a U.S. based luxury travel and lifestyle blog. Born in coastal Maine and raised in Kentucky, I’m a warm-weather enthusiast and seeker of hidden-gems who left a career in politics for the world in 2018. I’m an avid swimmer and beach-goer, trained journalist, former Euro expat, and a serious food (and coffee) aficionado! In my nearly seven year journey of world exploration, I’ve visited 51 countries and all 50 U.S. states.

It may also come as no surprise that I love to put pen to paper. You may have even seen some of my work in Thrive Global, Trivago Room 5 Magazine, and Stylecaster along the way! I love travel’s ability to connect me with different cultures and people, push my limits of comfort,  and strengthen my desire to explore all at the same time. I’m so glad you found your way here, and I hope that what you read in these pages sparks your own sense of exploration and wanderlust within. 

I’ll see you out there,

Alex

RECENT POSTS

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of traveling, it’s that sometimes less is more — especially when it comes to packing. {ad}

These days, I’ve definitely been utilizing carry on’s rather than checking a bag but, I’m not exactly the lightest packer 🤭 so I’ve had to master the art of maximizing less space.

This is where Pebbler packing cubes come in! 🫶🏻

Pebbler’s chic five piece set includes a convenient laundry bag and comes in sleek colors like black and sand. Let me tell you — they make packing, unpacking, and organizing clothes a breeze. Made of water-resistant material, double zippers for easy access, and breathable mesh, they help keep clothes wrinkle free, save space, and make for a smoother travel experience. They are the ultimate travel and packing essential!

Tap the link in my bio and use code “𝐀𝐋𝐄𝐗𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐑𝐀𝟏𝟓” for 15% off your Pebbler order to enjoy a smoother, lighter journey on your next adventure!

#PebblerPartner #Amazontravelfinds #travelhack #packinghack #Pebblerpackingcubes #packwithme
𝟓 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐨𝐠𝐚, 𝐓𝐍: 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝟑! @visitchatt 

1. @lodgecastiron Museum + @sopitt_bigbadbreakfast. Located in the heart of cast iron’s hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, this museum is a must for those who love cooking, history, food culture, and very large skillets! After the museum, grab brunch at Big Bad Breakfast (the chicken + waffles and cornbread omelet are 😍)
2. @rembrandtscoffeehouse. This cozy European style cafe serves unique coffee drinks and teas, fresh-baked breads, breakfast sandwiches, and beautiful pastries. Try a raspberry vanilla iced brew with an Egg + cheese biscuit sammy ♥️
3. @huntermuseum of American Art. Built in 1905, it became an art museum in 1952. It’s collection spans the history of American art from the colonial period to the present day and includes paintings, sculptures, contemporary studio glass, and crafts. The views of the Tennessee River from here aren’t shabby either!
4. @hellomontyonmain. This chill Southside hang out serves amazing beer, craft cocktails, and shareable plates. Order the Cast Iron Cheese Dip, the Fried Brussel Sprouts, and the Cast Iron Caramel Apple Crisp.
5. @meanmugcoffeehouse. Established in 2011, this quirky, lively coffeehouse boasts reclaimed wood & brick accents and serves unique coffees and light bites. Order a Mean Mug Nitro Cold Brew with Peach cold foam, and an egg + avocado toast! *don’t forget to check out the @kelseymontagueart mural next door for a fun photo opp!*

Are you planning to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee soon? 🇺🇸 {Ad} #hosted
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#VisitChatt #ChattanoogaTN #Chattanooga #tnvacation • Southeast USA • Visit the USA • USA roadtrip • summer road trip •
5 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙤𝙤𝙜𝙖, 𝙏𝙚𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙚: 𝙋𝙖𝙧𝙩 2!

If I learned anything during my recent trip to @visitchatt, it’s that there’s so much more to the city than meets the eye. It’s home to some of the most popular attractions in the US, sure, but it also boasts plenty of hidden gems and unique local experiences. Add these 5 locations to your Chattanooga itinerary (you won’t regret it!):

- Tennessee Aquarium @tennesseeaquarium. Home to more than 12,000 animals representing close to 800 species, it features two sections (Ocean and River) and is one of the largest aquariums in the U.S.
- 1885 Grill @1885grillstelmo. This southern coastal restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, high quality steaks, and comforting soul food. Order their wings with Carolina Gold BBQ!
- Rock City Gardens @seerockcity. Located on Lookout Mountain, Rock City Gardens features a 4,100-foot Enchanted Trail with incredible rock formations, magical caves, native plant species, waterfalls, and a panoramic view of Seven States!
- Massey’s Kitchen @masseyskitchenlookout. This Mediterranean inspired restaurant just opened in June and is Chattanooga’s new hot spot. The food is incredible and their outdoor patio is perfect for dining al fresco. Order the baked feta 🤤
- The Read House Hotel @readhousehotel. This historic jazz era hotel from the 1870’s has hosted famous people including Oprah, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, and Elvis Presley. It’s even rumored to have a permanent guest — a ghost in room 311!

Keep an eye out for Part 3 and let me know which location you would visit first! 🇺🇸 {ad} #hosted
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#VisitChatt #VisitChattanooga #Chattanoooga #ChattanoogaTN #onlyinTennessee #tennesseeaquarium #tnvacation • southeast U.S. • U.S. road trip • visit the U.S. • United States travel •
If you’re looking for the perfect end of summer U.S. vacation destination, Chattanooga, Tennessee is it. @visitchatt 🇺🇸 

I recently spent a few days exploring this lively town for the first time, and unsurprisingly found so much to love about it. If you’re planning a trip to the U.S. soon — or you live here and want to explore more of your own backyard — you won’t regret putting it on your travel bucket list. 

To help you plan, below are 5 things not to miss when in The Scenic City: 

📍Ruby Falls (@rubyfallscave) Millions of years old but discovered in 1928, it’s the largest underground waterfall in the U.S., and is located more than 1,120 feet under the surface. 
📍Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary (@wildflowerteashop) This whimsical vegan-friendly coffee and tea shop stocks a wide variety of loose leaf teas and herbs and other locally made products. I recommend getting the Iced Chocolate Chai with oat milk for a cold treat!
📍Lookout Mountain Incline Railway (@ridetheincline) With a 72.7% grade, it’s one of the steepest passenger railways in the world. The ride is well worth it with stunning views of Lookout Mountain from the top!
📍Frazier Five and Dime (@frazierfiveanddime) Anything you order at this North Shore eatery will be 10/10, but I especially loved the street corn with hot Funyuns and the cheesy cauliflower au gratin 🤤
📍Walnut Street Bridge. With a 1/2-mile span, it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world and provides amazing view of the riverfront. 

Which location would you visit first? Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for parts 2 + 3! 
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#VisitChatt #VisitChattanooga #chattanoogatn #chattanoogatennessee #onlyintennessee (AD) *hosted* • USA Travel • USA Explores • summer travel • visit the USA •
Welcome to one of the most underrated southern cities in the U.S.: @visitchatt! 

While most travelers flock to Music City year after year, just a couple hours drive southeast you’ll find a true gem hidden in the lively city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Here’s some fun facts about the “The Scenic City”:

✧ MoonPies were invented here! These graham cracker marshmallow sandwiches are covered entirely in melted chocolate and are so delicious.

✧ It’s home to the Incline Railway, one of the steepest passenger railway lines in the world!

✧ Chattanooga boasts one of the largest collections of American art in the country at the Hunter Museum. 

✧ One of the world's longest pedestrian bridges can also be found in Chattanooga.

I’ll be sharing more from my time in @visitchatt, and you can also see what I experienced there by clicking on my Chattanooga highlight badge above.

Have you visited Chattanooga yet? 
📍: Chattanooga Choo Choo 
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#VisitChatt #VisitChattanooga #Chattanooga #chattanoogatennessee | southern cities | summer travel | summer road trips | visit the USA |
PSA: The person who sent you this wants to plan a trip to Cartagena, Colombia 🇨🇴

There are a million reasons why Cartagena deserves a spot on your travel bucket list, but since I can’t list them *all*, here are a few:

𝐀𝐧 𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐞:
Cartagena is home to some of the best restaurants in Colombia from high-end eateries and charming cafes, to the finest seafood and unfussy local markets.

𝐕𝐢𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐧𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐬:
Cartagena boasts vibrant, laid-back neighborhoods with stunning street-art, hip cocktail bars, street performers, food stalls, and rooftop restaurants.

𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬:
Enjoy a beach close to the city or take a boat to the nearby islands (Rosario, Playa Blanca, or Isla Grande). Some resorts even offer private beach experiences such as the Beach Club at @dreamsresorts Karibana Cartagena. 

You can plan your very own Cartagena adventure using @beachbound, an online travel agency that allows travelers to plan every aspect of their luxury beach vacations all in one place. In addition to Cartagena, you can choose from 69 other destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe, and the U.S. 

If you want to save even more money, sign up for email and SMS texts and receive $150 off your first booking 💕#BeachBound #WhatareYouBoundFor #dreamsresorts 
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Cartagena • Colombia travel • Cartagena de Indias • South America • summer vacation •
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