Out & About

Scenic Monterey & Big Sur

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Every few years Matt and I road trip up and down the California coast, stopping in to visit our favorite cities that welcome visitors with amazing views and great cafes. We’ve toured all over inland California from Lake Tahoe to Palm Springs but there’s something really special about taking a week to drive the highway that runs along the Pacific coast to stop and stay in some beautiful oceanfront towns.

Last week we spent time in Monterey and Big Sur with charming Carmel-by-the-Sea nestled in between. The three are worth a weekend visit to any traveler visiting California (see scenes from Carmel here). Spanish inspired architecture covered with bougainvillea, fuchsia, and coastal botanicals thrive in the sunshine and sea air and there is always plenty to see, eat, and do.

iron grill

flowering fuschia

 

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The Alexander Valley

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Just north of Healdsburg off of the 101 Highway is a unique wine growing region in Sonoma County known as the Alexander Valley. The Russian River runs through the heart of it where oak trees and vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see, and thrive in the sunshine.

The heart of the Alexander Valley is 45 minutes from our front door and we hadn’t visited in a few years, so we invited some of our good friends along, Dino and Heidi who love to go tasting and exploring (we attended the famous Kendall Jackson Tomato Festival with them last year) and off we went to visit some old favorites and new wineries we’ve never been to before. 

alexander valley winery signs

 

The region is really beautiful time of year, the sun is warm but still mild, and the tasting rooms are less crowded before late summer and the harvest in the fall when the large crowds arrive. In June you can sit, sip, and stroll among the vineyards, watching the grapes forming on the vine.

grapes on vine alexander valley

 

We started our afternoon at Hawkes Winery, next door to the famous Jimtown Store where you’ll catch a scenic view of the adjacent vineyards and can grab a bite for lunch.

red chairs looking over vineyard

 

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Aulani Tour

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Midweek greetings all – did you catch Mad Men this past week? Ack! I’m totally hooked again! I loved that opening scene in Hawaii with all the retro aloha prints, didn’t you? And speaking of, I promised a tour of the Aulani where we stayed while vacationing in Oahu a few weeks ago.

The Aulani is one of Disney’s several vacation spots so at first we had our skepticism as to just how relaxing this place would actually be and since it’s Disney, we had “theme park” expectations. We picked it because we knew our kids (age 7 and 9) would enjoy it. Truth is, we found the resort to be just as fun as they did, and the entire experience was incredibly relaxing. Here are some scenes of the amenities and perks that are included when you stay at the Aulani resort in Oahu.

oahu aulani

  

The hotel sits on a manmade lagoon in KoOlina where you can lounge and little kids can play in the gentle lapping waves. There are plenty of water activities, including paddle boarding and canoeing, and morning yoga to start your day.

aulani beach lagoon

aulani lagoon boating

aulani morning yoga

 

The greeting is impressive, you’re welcomed with smiles and leis upon arrival and the check-in process is smooth. After a long plane ride and the jostling to pick up your bags and rent a car and find the place 25 minutes up the highway, there’s something so so AMAZING about stepping out of your car, and being welcomed to the islands like this.

aulani lei greeting

  

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