Hiking in California

Tennessee Valley, Marin California 

Fifteen minutes outside of San Francisco is a wonderful protected outdoor playground


IMG_1349

Advertisements

Jackson Hole: Winter Guide

photo

Wyoming is the least populous state in the union. Jackson Hole is the 48 mile long valley that straddles the snake river

Here are some things to do in the Winter:

Eat: 

During the winter, if you are skiing, it’s easier to stay and eat in Teton Village- referred to as ‘the village’. With that in mind here are some favorites. Terra Café for breakfast at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain. Four Seasons resort- it is combo of chic and cowboy- it’s expensive but worth it.  Note: you can rent a helmet camera from the ski concierge. If you just had the run of your life and want to congratulate yourself– or take some time to re-thinking now dropping Corbet’s – head to the restaurant on the top of the mountain called the Couloir. It’s fancy, the food is great, make reservations in advance. Osteria is also amazing for some wonderful Italian after a day on the mountain. For more casual try Teton Thai.

Outside of the village, Lotus Café is a wonderful organic place to restore your energy with some green juice and probiotic salad bowls. It is very popular with the locals- and it is very good.

For Apres Skiing: 

The Mangy Moose is the place to grab a micro brew and, usually, listen and probably dance to a local band. This is one of my favorite spots- it was also the place where the shot ski from our wedding had it’s last stand. Last intact photo of the ski below (lobster not included). At the Moose try anything from Snake River Brewing Company (you should also check it out in town). Additionally,  the state’s first locally produced bourbon Wyoming Whiskey has won a good deal of awards recently.

Here is a video my friend, videographer and Jackson resident Alden Wood Faust put together. It’s all all about Apres in Jackson Hole– it’s amazing.

shot ski jackson hole

Winter Activities 

  • Skiing- of course. Jackson Hole Mountain is a legend.
  • Snowshoeing or cross country skiing in grand Teton national park.
  • One other must for the winter is breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. This should go under eating- but it really is an activity. It is not in the village, but it is in Wilson, closer than town. It is an incredible cabin with great food. It won a James Beard award in 2012. Get the huevos rancheros or the biscuits and gravy.
  • Snowmobiling in the park- we saw buffalo.
Mountain Chic
For more recommendations on Jackson: Check out Travel Guide, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Sedona, Arizona

The Red Rocks of Sedona

DSC04500image: loomis luggage

We recently returned from Sedona, Arizona. We make a pilgrimage to that spot now and again to visit the gorgeous red rocks. The red rocks are iconic in their beauty. And there is something else going on in Sedona.

As The New York Times put it: “Sedona is famous for its so-called vortex sites, spots where the earth’s energy is supposedly increased, leading to self-awareness and various kinds of healing. (Think of them as spiritual hot tubs without the water.)”

DSC04559image: loomis luggage

This land, inhabited from as early as 1300 A.D. by Native American tribes, is home to what I believe to be the best spa in the United States. It is called Mii Amo. The vibe of this spa is meditative, spiritual and rooted in Native American culture. Yet don’t be fooled, you will not be staying in anything that resembles the teepees which  sit on Mii Amo’s grounds.

Upon arrival you are greeted with “ghost beads” made by local Native Americans. You can acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with the spa. There is a vast indoor pool with a wood burning fire place on the other end. There is a crystal grotto with a red clay floor and running water with crystals in it for meditation and silent reflection. There is an outdoor pool and hot tub with views of the red rocks (there are stargazing classes at the spa too). And there is a library for lectures in addition to their men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam, sauna and whirlpool.

DSC04542image: loomis luggage

The rooms are very nice. They are spacious and simple with fire places, outdoor space and a large well appointed bathroom. Upon waking in the morning you will find fresh squeezed orange juice and a newspaper waiting outside for you in a basket. The newspaper, by the way, will be your only connection to the outside world. Something about the red rock canyon that Mii Amo is situated in drains cell phones and all electronics within hours.

DSC04588

Your days are filled with activities. A trip to the spa includes two treatments a day- many of which are traditional including all forms of massage, facials, body wraps. And then there are some which are quite unique such as reiki healing, aura photography and in water massage. In addition, activities will fill your days: yoga, pilates, yogalates, meditation, hiking the red rocks, watercolor painting, journey of the teas, cooking demonstrations, medicine walks and lectures are offered at all hours of the day.

DSC04541

At night you snuggle up to wonderful silence. And you look to see what nightly present Mii Amo has left on your bed that evening- a leather bound journal, teas, crystals.

Because what makes going to bed more exciting? Going to bed with a present after a wonderful spa service wrapped in your robe!

Sundance: 2013 Guide

Sundance 2013

Bogner

Image courtesy of Bogner (obviously)

We just returned from Park City. It was incredible. We are really hoping the temperatures warm up for Sundance Film Festival this weekend because it was a little chilly!

Where to Eat

Daly’s Pub: A cozy pub nestled in the Montage Resort at mid mountain in Deer Valley, Daly’s has exceptional food and service. Try the warm pretzels with cheddar fondue or the chicken pot pie (the tempura chicken fingers are also incredible). For the vegetarians and vegans of the group, there are options! Have you ever been to a pub where this is the case? Probably not. The veggie burger with avocado is absolutely incredible and tastes like no veggie burger you have ever had. The manager of the pub is amazing and the staff is fantastic.

A note about the Montage: It is worth nothing that in years past there are some big name bands who casually set up and play in the main sitting lounges of the hotel during Sundance. So don’t be surprised if you are enjoying an apres cocktail and you think you hear O.A.R.– it’s probably them.

Bogner 2

Image courtesy of Gorsuch

Talisker on Main: Old Town Park City. Consistently good food and great atmosphere. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Maxwell’s Pizza: Park City. If you are wondering where the locals love to eat- look no further.

Best Apres Activities

St Regis Deer Valley

Image courtesy of Elite Traveler

St Regis Bar: Where else do they saber a bottle of champange on the patio every night at sunset? And what the heck is that, you may ask? It dates back to France in the days post French Revolution where Napoleon’s Cavalry would take the top off a bottle of Champagne with their sword, the sabre, to celebrate victory. On top of this exciting start to happy hour, it’s also a fun ride up the funicular to the hotel. Elite Traveler details more activities at the St. Regis– like a Bloody Mary class here.

Stein Eriksen Lodge: This is a great place to hang out for apre-ski. They have the most amazing pretzels to go with your beer.

Best Spas

Spa Montage: The Montage spas are pretty legendary. Their signature treatment called “Surrender” is a holistic approach to your typical spa appointment. Therapists (spa therapists not the regular people you talk to about problems) will ask you what’s going on mentally, physically and emotionally. From there they will craft a custom treatment . Make sure you also attend their after-ski stretch class.

Golden Door at Waldorf: This is a wonderful spa and the favorite of people who live in the area. It is located in the ski area called Canyons.

To Look the Part on the Slopes

Cole Sport: This store is to Park City as Gorsuch is to Aspen. The below Bogner jacket is amazing, and there are very few places that carry it- Cole Sport is one of them. They are also one of the only places that carry adorable one-piece ski suits for women. Be still my heart.

Gorsuch

Image courtesy of Gorsuch

Other Shopping: The shopping in Park City is wonderful, filled with great art galleries and boutiques. There are not many chains, almost all locally owned. So it is possible to pick up some genuinely unique items- a rarity these days. We recently just discovered a ski line in Deer Valley called Erin Snow. Love it already.

Erin Snow

Image courtesy of Erin Snow

and for some sunshine, check out the most glamorous place in panama

New England in the Winter

Woodstock, Vermont

Our family has many holiday traditions. My favorite of them is Woodstock.

Each year after Christmas, we begin the journey from Connecticut to Vermont. For a short trip we manage to pack a lot of things in the car. For years, my sister and I have been wedged in between L.L. Bean bags with christmas cookies, snowshoes, miscellaneous presents and our Mom’s fur is usually draped across our laps.

It is here that we ring in the New Year with close friends and family.

Woodstock Covered Bridge

JB Reed Photography

A true New England town, Woodstock has deep history. Chartered in 1791, the Rockefeller Family has helped preserve the town’s charm and protect it’s 19th century architecture– conserving the rolling ridge line, burying power lines and building the iconic Woodstock Inn which sits at the foot of the town square called, The Green.

In “popular culture” and I put that in quotes because I don’t know how popular or cultural this is– one of the famous, and I think the first, Budwiser holiday commercials with the Clydesdales was filmed in Woodstock.

While not filmed in Woodstock,here was my favorite commercial of the series aired only once as a 9-11 tribute.

 

Woodstock in the Winter: Eating, Staying and Playing

Woodstock Inn

JB Reed Photography

The Billings Farm and Museum:

This is an operating dairy farm and a museum of Vermont’s Rural Past. Doesn’t sound fun right? It is.

First, the are horse drawn sleigh rides in the winter. They put tartan plaid wool blankets on your lap and off you go with hot cider in hand. Next you can go visit the animals. As you enter the barn you are greeted by the giant Draft Horses– Belgian and Clydesdale horses are part of this family. They are awe inspiring and gigantic. Next, there are baby cows. This year we pet one who was only 4 days old. Lastly, there is the sheep pen- my absolute favorite part of the farm. These are not well manicured sheep and they smell, but they are adorable.

The best part of the farm is that it is rooted in conservation- it’s original owner planting more than 10,000 tress in the Woodstock area. It is supported by the Woodstock Foundation which reflects the conservation and sustainable land use philosophy of it’s founders Laurence and Mary Rockefeller.

 

Simon Pearce

Simon Pearce:

Located in Queeche, Vermont, about 15 minutes outside of Woodstock, is Simon Pearce. This gorgeous building is a place of fine artistry where hand blown glass creations are made. Next to a picturesque frozen water fall, you can watch craftsmen make some of the most gorgeous high end champagne flutes, vases and serving pieces. It is also an incredible restaurant that we visit annually.

The cover of their book features my favorite bowl.

Blue Horse Piano

Image curtsey of The Blue Horse Inn

The Blue Horse Inn

After 25 plus years of winters at the Woodstock Inn, we found ourselves longing for the Inn we used to know where families read by the fire, wild board games were waged in the Library and the Front Desk staff would find the Popple we accidentally left at Tea Time and bring it back to us with a smile.

The Blue Horse Inn is all of that with a locally sourced gourmet Vermont breakfast, a wine hour, outdoor wood fired hot tob and  gorgeous accents like sterling silver bon bon sugar tongs which I just fell in love with.

The owners are wonderful and we have started a new family tradition. We are happy to have our whole group under one roof where we can enjoy the fireplace and maybe one day our friend Rob who is classically trained on the piano will agree to serenade us.

 

Other Activities I love:

Gillingham & Sons General Store is a Woodstock favorite. It is here you can get a fancy beer that my husband likes, some authentic Vermont Maple Syrup, the legendary children’s book Miss Rumphius, a pair of one piece pajamas and an ax. How does one store have some many amazing things? Unclear, but they do.

Gillingham

There is a star that shines above the town of Woodstock which twinkles on cold winter nights. Hiking or snowshoeing to the star is a great activity. If you are brave or have a headlamp, hike up and wait for it to turn on for a special night. We did that on December 31st of 1999.

The Woodstock Inn Nordic Center is a great place to rent X-Country skis and begin a fun day of exercise on their trail network. Warning– there is terrain which slopes downhill. I took my close friend from Greenwich Academy, Charlie, on a trail called “Trail of the Fallen Women”. Despite nearly two decades of friendship I think she is still mad about it.

Travel Guide: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Last of the Wild West

There is no question about it- Jackson Hole is one of the greatest places on Earth.

The Grand Tetons, at minimum, will give you goose bumps. But for the people who truly connect with Jackson– they will probably bring tears to your eyes.

Image

What to Do:

There is no shortage of things to do in Jackson, Wyoming. Here is a list of the best.

Hiking

There is incredible hiking in the park. Some of the hikes are not for the faint of heart- like Middle Teton and the Grand (guide required for most people on the Grand). But they are all incredible experiences. Be very careful. On the easier side, Jenny Lake and Inspiration Point are gorgeous hikes.

Image

Scenic Walks 

A turn key hike is Jackson Hole Mountain. You can hike to the top and take Jackson Hole’s infamous Tram (affectionately called ‘Big Red’) down the mountain. It is free that way. Alternatively you can take the Tram up and walk down. You can get a nice view of some of Jackson’s most hairy slopes– notably Corbet’s Couloir.

Stop by the Mangy Moose for a beer when you get down.

National Parks

In Jackson Hole, you border Grand Teton National Park. The picture below was taken from my iphone just 25 minutes into the park.

A further drive from Jackson Hole brings you into Yellowstone National Park. This most likely requires a full day or multiple days. It is wonderful if you have the time. For those of you who are 62 years old and over, you can purchase a lifetime pass to all national parks for only $10!

 

Spas in Jackson

The spas at the Four Seasons and the Amangani are incredible. The Spa at the Snake River Lodge is supposed to be excellent.

 

Fly Fishing and Float Trips

You can fly fish on the Snake River and most rivers in Jackson with a permit. We do really like Dave Ellerstein of Jackson Hole Anglers. Insanely good ski instructor by winter- fly fishing guide in the summer- he figured it out.  You can also float the rapids on the Snake in a raft. Once you arrive in Jackson you will see many options for this.

Image

 

Shopping

If you like suede and antlers, you’re in luck. Sort of kidding- the shopping is unique and very western.

For unique handmade items: Four Daughters and MADE Jackson Hole are great.

Rock Lobster has adorable preppy clothes.

WRJ Home is an incredible interior design store- stop in and say hi to Klaus Bear and his fabulous dog Marley.

 

Restaurants

Dinner: Snake River Grill (in town- try the steak tartare pizza), Q Roadhouse for Bar-B-Q and Osteria (incredible Italian in Teton Village) are tied for favorites. Masa Sushi inside the Inn at Jackson Hole is low key but great sushi. Rendezvous Bistro is also great.

Lunch: Lotus Cafe is all organic with great green juices, and breakfast items.

Breakfast/Brunch: Cafe Genevive is amazing. People also love the Bunnery. Down on Glen or D.O.G. is a place to grab an awesome burrito before a hike or fishing trip.


Bars

The Million Dollar cowboy in town is a classic. The Mangy Moose in Teton Village is the place during ski season. And the Snake River Brewery is where to go to for local beer– and ladies– very attractive mountain men.

photo

Babysitters

Jackson Hole Babysitting is a reputable agency: Here is some information.

The Guide to South Beach Miami

The Delano

To Stay:

South Beach feels a little like old Hollywood. Our friend put it best with ‘dilapidated glamour’. Having said that, if you’re going to go to South Beach, you really have no other option but to do it right.

The Raleigh

The Delano:

Since 1947 this has been the most iconic hotel in South Beach, . There is an Alice in Wonderland type feel to this romantic and eclectic hotel. From the entrance of the hotel where you pull up into towering manicured hedges you move through the lobby billowing with white fluttering drapes to the pool side bar with a table and candelabra set up in the shallow waters of their famous pool.

Other suggestions: The Raleigh, The Shore Club, The Perry, The Standard, The Angler’s Boutique.

The Forge, South Beach

To Eat:

Baoli Vita:

When you only have two locations: Miami and Cannes—you know the owners are doing something right. Situated in what looks like a secret garden fairy tale (with hanging lanterns and twinkling lights), this hot spot is hardly a place for gardeners.

Incredible food, Italian in cuisine is met with a very hip vibe and amazing sound track– which at one people had all people in the restaurant with their hands overhead clapping. We won’t tell you what song it was.

Other suggestions: Cecconis in the SoHo House, The Forge, Nobu, Prime 112, Scarpetta, La Piaggia (for brunch).

Vita

To Party:

Set:

This is great on Friday nights, house music.

Other suggestions: LIV (very large club), Florida Room (in the Delano—or poolside at the Delano in the Cabanas)

 

Road Trip: Seattle to Vancouver

Your Guide to a Pacific Northwest Roadtrip

Seattle, Washington —> Vancouver, Canada

4 hours, 1 day, 12 alpaca viewings, one heart-stopping walk and the best seafood in the West

 

Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver

Leaving From Seattle:

First, recommendation in Seattle: stay at the Four Seasons. This new hotel is stunning. Our favorite part in the infinity pool overlooking the water and the snow capped Olympic Mountains.

Some Stats About the Drive: 

The drive to Vancouver is about 3 hours. That includes about 15-20 minutes at the Canadian border. This requires a passport so do remember to bring one. How to do it?

First, drive straight up for about an hour on I-5. You will then hit Burlington. There are two things to do there.

1)   Lulu Lemon outlet. It is rare to be able to find those pants on sale, so take advantage!

2)   Burlington, specifically exit 231, begins the Chackanut Drive, a scenic alternate route. This adds about 30 minutes to your drive- but is incredible! Farm land, beaches, mountain side cliffs, the state’s best shellfish and incredible little stores and places to eat lie here. There is also an alpaca farm about 5 minutes into the drive!

Things to do along Chuckanut Drive

1)   Bat Caves Trail Head: Mile 10. This is also known as Oyster dome trail. Round trip hike is about 5 miles. It’s steep and rugged but offers incredible views of the San Juan Islands from the top. The bat caves are a bunch of boulders set against a 300 foot rock face and home to big eared bats.

2)   The Oyster Bar: Mile 10. This is an adorable wooden restaurant lit on the outside by quaint strings of white light bulbs. They have a back porch that looks out over the giant trees and water. Don’t worry, the have blankets on the chairs at night if you’re chilly. It’s pretty old school, there were many a gentleman in a tweed blazer. But, you also feel relaxed in pants and a t-shirt. The oysters and crab are fantastic. The baked oysters—amazing.

3)   Taylor Shellfish Farms: Mile 10. Just drive down to this. It’s quite fun. They have been there for over 100 years.  If you want, buy a dozen oysters or two and a knife and make your way down to the beach. Bring a bottle of champagne and some crème de casis for Kir Royales while you’re at it and you can have a real party!

4)   Clayton Beach: Mile 14. Park your car in the parking lot or on the side of the road. The hike down to the water is a quick 1 mile round trip. It’s a great way to stretch your legs mid journey and the beach is real sand.

5)   Town of Fairhaven: End of Route 11 or, Chuckanut Drive. Cute brick town with quaint boutiques and restaurants.

From Chuckanut, it’s another hour on i-5 until the border. There are antiques stores and plenty of spots for fuel and refreshments along the way.

Off the Beaten Track


There is a remote restaurant, accessible only by ferry, that is known to be one of the best in the country. Where is this gem?

It is on Lummi Island in the San Juan Islands. The restaurant has it’s own farm and fishing boats. Hence, all food is foraged and gathered locally, made that day and the tasting menu changes daily. Just to set the mood, the tasting menu begins when you receive a small wooden box. You open it to unveil a poof of smoke and a piece of North Pacific fresh caught salmon roasting on small fire below.

Don’t fret, after a long dinner you can spend the night at the adorable Willows Inn where the restaurant is located.

Oh, Canada!


We sped through the city of Vancouver, over Lion’s Bridge to North Vancouver to see Capilano Suspension Bridge. This was a very cool way to pass a few hours. Beware- if you’re afraid of heights this is a bit scary! The Cliff walk may even be scarier than the bridge. But it is definitely worth the experience and the scenery is stunning!

They have a general store where you can purchase full Raccoon Hats.

The Bridge House Restaurant across the street has great food, you can sit outside and is extremely pleasant after your day.

We have heard Vij’s in Vancouver is legendary Indian too!

For more rustic travel guides check out: Guide to Jackson Hole, Wyoming