Carmel, California – Food, Wine, Art, and Culture

carmel CACarmel, CA is a great spot to get away from it all- the perfect place for weddings, proposals, romantic hideaways, or girlfriend getaways. A small but active and artistic area, you will find plenty of shopping, museums, theater, good wine and good food, as well as the beautiful coastline.

CA food and wine tourCarmel-by-the-Sea is a small town with a rich artistic history on the Monterey Peninsula. In the early 1900s, 60 percent of Carmel’s houses were built by those who were “devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts.” As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 4,081.

Close by are the scenic 17-Miles Drive, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, world renowned golf courses, Point Lobos Reserve, and the Big Sur coast. This area is very pet friendly, and one will see dogs everywhere they go- on sidewalks, stores, in restaurants, and even art galleries.

CA foodThere are some fine dining options, as well as others with a more funky flair in the area. Mundaka, a Spanish style tapas restaurant in downtown Carmel, is the result of a love of food, wine, music, and Spain and its culture. The food is ordered by the small plate and meant to be shared with the whole table. The dishes and drinks are organic and locally grown- don’t expect to order a cola in this establishment. The atmosphere is funky and artistic, and has both vegetarian and non-vegetation options as well as live music many nights. Grasing’s offers fine dining that features fresh ingredients from California’s Carmel Coast and Central Valley. They have a varied wine list, and the desserts are interesting, delicate, and delectable. You will want to make sure to save room, and indulge yourself.

CA food toursTaking a quick trip, but want to really experience the food and wine? Take the Carmel Food Tour. While walking through the picturesque city of Carmel, you will be able to enjoy [Read more…]

Traveling With Toddlers: 5 Things You Can’t Forget to Pack

When you hit the road or fly the friendly skies with toddlers in tow, you’re opening yourself up to
all kinds of headaches. And yet, parents pack up their kids and head off to parts unknown all the time,
regardless of the trials of traveling with children that have only recently learned to walk (and escape the
second you turn around). So while you’ll certainly want to equip them with some kind of identification
that includes a place to reach you, just in case they slip away during the security screening at the airport
(hey, it probably happens all the time), there are a few other things you’ll want to make sure to pack
when you bring your toddlers along for the trip. Here are some items that you can’t afford to forget at
home.

travel with toddlers

  1. Entertainment options. Providing each toddler with a small backpack with books and toys is not
    only a great way to keep them occupied during travel, but it can also give them a goal to focus on as
    you make your way through an airport or pack up the car. However, it can be difficult to keep track of
    myriad items for each kid. So when it comes to entertainment you really can’t beat the comprehensive
    and all-inclusive option offered by a tablet. All you have to do is preload it with child-appropriate
    movies, music, games, and books and [Read more…]

6 Family Friendly Pacific Northwestern Vacations to Enjoy on a Budget

Vacation budgets are slim these days, and families are looking for ways to spend some quality time and share some adventures on the cheap. If you’re intrigued by the idea of exploring the Pacific Northwest, here are a few family friendly vacation ideas that won’t break the bank but aren’t short on fun.

boat tours

Backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is composed of multiple sections, each of several dozen miles, spanning Oregon, Northern California and Washington. All you need for a great family vacation backpacking the Pacific Coast Trail are camping gear and supplies and your adventurous spirit. If you’re not an experienced backpacker, it’s a good idea to take a guided tour.

Relax on the Oregon Coast

A camping trip to the Oregon Coast is an affordable getaway if your sole goal is relaxing and soaking in all that nature has to offer. If you’re not one for camping, there are plenty of affordable hotels in the region near to the coast.

Explore the City of Seattle

There are so many things to do in Seattle, a trip to explore the sights and sounds of this city is a fulfilling experience for many travelers. Take your family to see the Space Needle, explore the city’s many museums and [Read more…]

Would You Go to a Family Surf Camp?

surf camp

Compared to the daily grind of work, laundry, bedtime battles and errands, sometimes I get the desperate urge to do something crazy and shake up my routine. Getting outdoors, learning new skills and playing together is a wonderful way to bring your family together and remind yourself what it’s all about.

Surfing can be intimidating – especially for those who didn’t grow up near a beach – but facing your fears to try something unexpected can be hugely rewarding. Friendly surf schools offer camps and day lessons for families, children and teenagers.

Here’s your chance to brush off that New Year’s Resolution to try new things, as we take a look at three of our favorite surf schools for families.

Conil, Andalucía, Spain: Surfcamp Spain

If you really need to brush away the cobwebs, a trip to your closest coast might not cut it; thankfully, a laid-back week at Surfcamp in the south of Spain is revitalising and out of the way of Europe’s worst summer crowds. Conil is a picturesque village perched on the famous Atlantic coast of the Andalucía region, and Surfcamp offers 5-day camps specially designed so families can learn together. If you don’t want to stay at one of the popular beach resorts in the area, the school even offers lodging in apartments and houses near the beach. The week-long course costs 120 Euros per person, not including accommodation.
[Read more…]

Arkansas – Art and History Meet

Arkansas is a state that many may not give much thought about when planning their vacations. Often considered a “fly over state”, I have recently discovered it has much to offer a traveler in search of adventure, culture, or a natural refuge. Home to 52 state parks and some of the most modern museums one can want to explore, as well as hot springs, musical centers, and of course well known as one of the major hotbeds of the civil rights movement, Arkansas is both naturally beautiful and contains some must-see, man-made marvels.

"Yield", stainless steel, metal, and pipework tree at entrance of  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art by artist Roxy Paine (2011), Bentonville, AR

“Yield”, stainless steel, metal, and pipework tree at entrance of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art by artist Roxy Paine (2011), Bentonville, AR

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art celebrates both art and nature a setting that explores the power of art with the beauty of surrounding natural landscape. The Museum, founded in 2005 by Alice Walton, takes its name from nearby Crystal Spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie.

Crystal Bridges is home to a permanent collection that features American masterworks dating from the Colonial to contemporary times. It specializes in art from the region, but also displays national and international exhibits, and is always on view to the public free of charge (admission is sponsored by WalMart for all but occasional temporary exhibitions).

The museum is both surrounded by and incorporated with 120 acres of forests and gardens, using them as part of the museum itself, and as a place to explore outdoor art and pieces. Six pedestrian trails wind through the campus, connecting the museum to the neighborhood at large and building a community space and encouraging connections to the arts and nature. The building itself is a work of art, and the educational programs offered by Crystal Bridges make art available, relatable, and tangible for patrons of all ages.

The Old State House Museum is a great way for visitors to experience Arkansas history. One can take a guided tour, use a self-guided tour map or cell phone tour guide at your own pace and choosing only what interests you, or schedule a group tour. No reservations are needed for self-guided tours or hourly guided tours (which are 50 minutes long). Reservations are needed for group tours of 10 or more.

The Old State House in Little Rock is home to many permanent exhibits which incorporate the history of the building, the collections, and significant areas of Arkansas history (art, time periods, books, clothing, influential people, and more). Some of these include “The Legacy of Arkansas Women”, Political History, First Families and Governors of Arkansas, Period Rooms, Legislative Chambers, and Dresses of the First Ladies.

The Old State House Museum was given a fresh coat of paint, had it’s window sills redone, and the [Read more…]

Hotels- What Kind Are You Looking For?

06 18 12 096Hotels in the fall into many different categories, a few of which are family friendly, road stop, and upscale. A family friendly hotel caters to the little ones, or to families as a whole, some may have a special theme like a dinosaur hotel or maybe just branding with a cute character or proximity to a local attraction like Disney World. Activities are sometimes included as are day care for when a little mommy/daddy time is needed, fun scheduled events, and character visits. When looking for this kind of hotel, it is best to find clean accommodations and a friendly, attentive staff in a safe area where worries melt away.

A road stop hotel is just a place to stay for the night. [Read more…]

Arrabelle Chalet

chatHow would you like to step onto a posh European chalet right here in the United States. (Located in Colorado to be exact.) Take a quick look at the Arrabelle Chalet. The chalet is a gorgeous 4,000 square foot residence which has five bedrooms and four and half bathrooms. There is a giant wrap around terrace with a plethora of chairs and even a grill to truly take in the breath taking view. The interior has a warm inviting feel, full of European antiques. Amenities include a gourmet kitchen with iPad, a [Read more…]

Caribbean Travel with Kids – Simple Tips for Success

Many families will instinctively rule out the idea of taking the kids on a far-
flung holiday to Cuba, for no reason other than they’ve come to believe it
wouldn’t be appropriate. Sadly however this is something of a classic case of
jumping to conclusions without any real knowledge of the matter, as in reality a
trip to exotic shores with the whole family can be a quite unique delight.

It’s another one of those situations whereby you’ll only ever hear of the horror
stories arising when things have gone terribly wrong – folk are generally
less likely to share their experiences or make headline news when all went
as planned. So, in the spirit of fair balance it really is about time that the
subject was clarified and approached from a rather more positive and realistic
standpoint – the following tip representing all there is to know about planning
and taking a truly wonderful trip to far-flung shores with the kids in-tow:

Before Booking

Research the available options thoroughly and bear in mind that every island
in the Caribbean offers a uniquely different experience and atmosphere. Some
are cultural meccas, some and throbbing party-scenes and others are practically
deserted, so be sure to opt for one that has something on offer for all the family.
[Read more…]