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Journal

Travel | Portland, Maine

Travel | Portland, Maine

Two years ago around this time, I was in Portland, Maine having the time of my life, enjoying the sea air and consuming more than my generally allotted three meals a day. As glutinous as it may sound, I longed to be hungry and thirsty again so I could continue to eat and drink my way through this charming town…it was pre-season, so the crowds weren’t an obstacle and it was a year before Bon Appétit would name it Restaurant City of the Year, so scoring reservations was easy. We wandered the streets like a local and definitely considered moving there for a few blissful moments, before we realized we could never handle the winters. We missed a few gems, such as Rose Foods, Tandem Coffee and Drifters Wife, which will certainly be on next time’s hit list. As you all think of summer and autumn vacation plans, consider this vibrant town with its outstanding food and beverage offerings on the waterfront. Here are all my faves, tried and tested by me, asterisks mean you should not pass it up. If I missed any of your must-dos/should eat, please leave a message in the comments...

Stay
The Press Hotel

Dine / Imbibe
The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club 
Lolita Vinoteca + Asador 
Eventide Oyster Co.*  
Bard Coffee
Speckled Ax 
The Holy Donut
Duckfat

Activities
Portland Museum of Art 
Allagash Brewing Company - free tour and beer* 
Portland Head Light + free museum 

Shop
Portland Food Co-op
Portland Flea for All
Judith 
Material Objects 
More & Co. (since moved to Yarmouth 20 min. away)

Extras
Obviously, eat all the lobster!
State of Maine Cheese Co. near Rockland* 
Long Grain in Camden* 

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Travel | Yosemite

Travel | Yosemite

“No temple made with human hands can compete with Yosemite,” John Muir once wrote. And I have to agree. I lived in California until I was 21 and have no idea how I managed to miss out on this heaven on earth National Park in my youth. I can’t emphasis how incredible and beautiful it is, most of the time I felt a rush of awe to my core as if my soul was being wiped clean. I know this sounds outrageous, it just really had an effect on me that I’ve never experienced. I climbed to the top of Vernal Falls, took in the scenic reservoir scapes of Hetch Hetchy and hiked Four Mile Trail admiring the fall palette of cinnamon, rust, citron and lime; there were fire scars, but it didn’t diminish the epic beauty of the place. Going in the off season gave the park an aura of peace that added to my wonder…Here are my thoughts, if you’re looking to plan a trip!

Stay

We stayed at the Evergreen Lodge, a delightful rustic-chic property that offers cabins of all sizes, plus a lovely heated pool and hot tub area with views. We adored this place, though it's about a 70 minute drive from key attractions and hikes. One day, we’ll consider staying at the posh Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly called Ahwahnee) or the more low key, Yosemite Valley Lodge because they’re near so much and that will save us hours of driving so we can focus on hiking. Honestly, the driving wasn’t bad, as the vistas were pretty, but in peak season, I can’t imagine what the traffic is like.

Dining

Restaurants in and outside the park are limited, but one bonus, most of the places have vegan and other very healthy offerings, which was a great surprise. We had a nice lunch at the Priest Station Cafe on the outskirts, before we made our way to Hetch Hetchy. After a 7 mile hike, we had a leisurely lunch at the Majestic Yosemite Dining Room; this turned out to be one of our favorite experiences. We were amazed by the intact vintage lodge interior, were seated in the sunny alcove with huge windows and they had a pretty impressive wine list. Also, for film trivia buffs, interiors of this hotel were adapted for The Shining; the designers incorporated the lobby, elevators and Great Lounge into sets for the Overlook Hotel. Finally, another reason we enjoyed staying at the Evergreen Lodge is because they have a tavern, restaurant and general store, all of which had pleasing options. After long days of driving and hiking, having a hearty, delicious meal before catching some z’s was essential.

Activities

  • Glacier Point and Four Mile Trail - it’s a long drive and there are major fire scars, but the summit is out of this world and the hike highlighted some of the park’s most gorgeous attractions.
  • Vernal and Nevada Falls hike - this was a rigorous, but wildly rewarding hike with beauty all around.
  • Tunnel View at sunset - it’s a very worthwhile stop. I learned that late afternoon is better for photo opps; it was true and I was happy we heeded this advice, as we got great pics.
  • Hetch Hetchy, the dam and hike to the Wapama Falls - a less popular stop, but not lacking in jaw dropping sights. It’s free to get in and way less crowded than more famous park attractions.
  • Teyana Lake and Tuolumne Meadows - stunning wide open spaces that take your breath away.
  • Mariposa Grove - bummed we missed this stop, we're planning on going next summer.

Tips

  • Visiting the area in the off season has a lot of benefits. First off, booking a room at an affordable rate is easy and great for budgets. Second, the fall colors are spectacular. Thirdly, there is no road traffic and the trails are relatively quiet.
  • My favorite resource for researching our trip was Earth Trekkers, this amazing family puts a ton of time into describing how to have the best Yosemite experience, loved it!
  • Bring snack bars for the hikes, we enjoyed munching on Epic and RX bars.
  • Wear real hiking shoes not just sneakers, it made the trekking so much more safe and comfortable.

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Travel | Sonoma + Glen Ellen

Travel | Sonoma + Glen Ellen

It was my first long weekend in Sonoma and I was thoroughly charmed...if you're looking for lovely weather, beautiful vistas, historic sites, fantastic food and quality wines, I highly recommend paying a visit to this part of the Northern California wine country.

Stay
El Pueblo Inn 
Gaige House 
The Jack London Lodge 

Dining
Glen Ellen Star 
Tortilleria Jalisco 
the girl & the fig 
El Molino Central 

Activities
Jack London Park 
Figone’s Olive Oil 
Sonoma Plaza 

Wine Tastings
Kivelstadt Cellars 
Gundlach Bundschu Winery 
Bedrock Wine Co. 
Scribe Winery 

Photo credit: Alanna Hale for Scribe Winery

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Travel | Uzès

Travel | Uzès

Dreaming of Provence...and let’s face it, some chilled rosé to take the edge of this week.

Check out CN Traveler's guide to this charming city as a starting point, if you're thinking of making your way to France anytime soon...it's a little dated, but we find that Provence doesn't change and have turnover as quickly as say SF or NYC.

Photo credit: CN Traveler

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Travel | Best NC Beach Towns

Travel | Best NC Beach Towns

California dreamin'? We know the hype is there, but the North Carolina coast is one of the best in the US...not everyone knows about the long-as-can-be beaches with soft white sand, body surfing worthy waves and fantastic culinary stops. Plus the region boasts a retro vibe many other seaside towns have scrubbed away to the detriment of people who crave that yesteryear boardwalk flair. While the Outer Banks towns are more famous, our favorite area is near Wilmington; the best part is, if you stay in one of these hamlets, you can get to the rest very easily! Here’s the breakdown of our musts and if you're looking for the perfect bathing suit coverup, check out our made in NC tunics here...

Stay
VRBO.com for weekly rentals
Blockade Runner
Hampton Inn and Suites Oceanfront Carolina Beach Hotel

Carolina Beach
Britt's Donuts
Flaming Amy's
Cape Fear Boil Company
Ida Thai Cuisine
Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar
Shuckin' Shack
Blackburn Brothers Seafood Market

Wrightsville Beach
Tower 7
SUNday's Cafe
South End Surf Shop
Masonboro Island Day Trip with Captain Joe 
Airlie Gardens 

Kure Beach
Freddies Restaurant
Fort Fisher Aquarium
Kure Beach Pier
Hi-Tech Arcade

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Hyper-Local Guide to a Stellar Long Beach Weekend

Hyper-Local Guide to a Stellar Long Beach Weekend

The Long Beach you think you know is cooler than you realize…22 miles from downtown LA or an hour flight from San Francisco to the quaint LGB airport, it’s brimming with vintage charm and a growing number of thoughtful entrepreneurs, notable eateries, and talented makers. Our founder, Jenny Hwa and Cassandra Malone, founder of the cool kids destination California Drifters, partnered up to share their favorite spots and past times…if you love sunny skies, locavore culinary experiences, unique shopping nooks, artisanal coffee purveyors and retro flair keep reading, so you can curate a lovely long weekend in this often overlooked seaside town…

Where to stay

Women’s clothing

Home decor

    Men’s clothing

    Food + cocktails 

    Coffee, Juice + Donuts

    Activities + to dos

    If you know and love Long Beach and its surrounding areas, please click 'continue reading' and leave comments to add your own contributions! 

    Photos courtesy of Design Sponge, The Varden Hotel, 6th and Detroit, Roe Seafood and Hollie Wood Style.

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    Food Lover's Guide to NYC

    Food Lover's Guide to NYC

    I lived in NYC for close to 10 years, so when I travel back for a visit it’s always a whirlwind of chummy reunions and a race to see how many new foodie places I can try. This recent trip was no different and I’m sharing some of my standout favorites here, in case you find yourself heading there and are looking for some gems, new and old…

    La Mercerie - French eatery, pastry counter and stunning home decor shop all in one - inside Roman and Williams Guild. 

    Uncle Boons - Incredible Thai food and cocktails with fantastic service and Bangkok flea market-decor. 

    Le Coucou - Sophisticated French fare served in an airy, beautiful setting. 

    The Up & Up - Charming cocktail lounge offering thoughtful, handcrafted drinks in a speakeasy style space. 

    dell'anima - Petit and festive Italian restaurant - I highly recommend the chef's counter and trying their unique selection of orange wines 

    Maison Pickle - Bistro-chic emporium offering amazing French dip sandwiches and an enormous menu of other goodies, like chicken liver pate on homemade brioche buns and tomahawk steaks. 

    The Fat Radish - Down home vibe cafe with major style serving modern British fare with conscientious service and interesting wine list.

    The Long Island Bar - Vintage watering hole serving up cocktails and classics like deviled eggs - loved the retro surroundings. 

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