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Monday, August 19, 2019

Pacific City Oregon

Beaches of Oregon -Pacific City

About and 1.5 hours from Portland is Pacific City, one of the go-to hot spots along the Oregon
Coast.  On a hot summer day, this beach feels very much like you are in a surfing town along a California coast.  The difference is the water is much cooler but you still get a ton of surfers and beachgoers.  Pacific City seems to be drawing more people each year and development has punched a bit of its quaintness.  One of the beaches most visible attractions is the enormous sand dune Cape Kiawanda Natural Area.   A popular area to climb to the top and see gorgeous views from the top. 
You will probably sweat a lot going up the steep dune, but your reward at the top will be worth it! 
The cape is also a great spot for Paraglider watching or if you want to pick up the sport yourself.

At the base of the dune, there are areas where you can bound around on rocks and boulders near the crashing waves, watch sea life and collect shells  Perfect for pictures and watching the waves, or maybe even a wedding!
One of the more unique things about Pacific City is the ability to drive right onto the beach.  This is because people launch their fishing boats from here.  I have to say it's a little strange always to be driving on the beach and seems so barbaric to nature, but even so, it's allowed.  Inevitably as the tide comes in you will find some struggling party screaming trying to get their car out of the sand while the wheels are turning and water is threatening to take over their vehicle. 

The biggest more popular place to eat is  The Pelican that sits steps from the sand overlooking the ocean and Haystack Rock.  This is 1 of 2 Haystack rocks on the Oregon coast, the most iconic at Cannon Beach.  I don't understand why they named a second one Haystack Rock when the naming of rocks meeting happened, but maybe it was one of those things where they didn't realize until it was too late and on a map.  Back in the day, they didn't have the internet to check things like this so an easy mistake I'm sure.  They both do look like Haystacks.  The Pelican has decent food, a little pricey, but sitting on the patio at sunset is one of my favorite things to do at Pacific City.
Nearby there are other things to do like floating down the Nestucca River!  Never done it but looks fun.  If you like Horses there is Horseback riding, fishing, hiking and kite flying of course! If it's too cold and windy outside and you still want to have some fun there is an indoor pool right behind the marketplace.  The Marketplace also has great souvenirs groceries and things you may have forgotten to pack, as well as great ice cream!


Stunning Views


Climbing the sand dune is hard but reward is great!

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Here are the best places to eat and drink in Pacific City.

The Pelican
Ben & Jeffs Burgers and Tacos
Doryland Pizza
Stimulus Coffee & Bakery
It can be quite windy at Pacific City!


Friday, August 9, 2019

The Allison Inn and Spa Review

Luxury In Yamhill County- The Allison Inn & Spa




The Allison Inn is a big player in Oregon Wine Country which apparently is home to over 500 wineries.   Otherwise known as Yamhill County situated in Newberg Oregon, the Allison is definitely a place to go for a special occasion.   It's on the pricier side of hotels.  Thanks to a healthy gift card we were able to stay one night and eat dinner with a little left over.   The staff is welcoming and friendly and once checked in will walk you to your room and show you all the details.  Details down to how to turn on the fancy lights and the ins and out of the fireplace and TV as well as where the spa and restaurant is.  A nice touch for sure.  The room was very nice and comfortable and we loved the balcony that overlooked the garden area.  There was even a basket of snacks included.  We always tread lightly with the snacks after a horrible mistake on our honeymoon where we didn't realize the basket of snacks provided, cost extra.  We ate about $50 worth of snacks in 5 minutes that honeymoon night.  We literally go in all search and recover mode trying to find the hidden cost list.  as our snack PTS is real! The Allison Inn truly gives free snacks, although I'm sure that is whey the room is so extra expensive.  The Allison has left no stone unturned when it comes to room comfort, cleanliness, amenities, and dining experience.   Our meal including wine and dessert and salads came to about $275.  It was glorious to say the least but again #giftcard.   The food and service were incredible.    We are not spa people but were hoping to take a dip in the spa's soaking mineral tub or pool.. and there was not a soul around every time we walked by.  When we finally went after dinner we were surprised to see it closed super early at around 9:00 which I think for a place that is really catered to Adults is way too early.  Most less expensive hotels close their pools at 10:30 or 11:00.  This was a huge disspaointment especially since we were not going to splurge on a spa treatment.  Hey, don't judge we are not really spa service kind of people.    All in all, it was a great experience but the prices charged seemed to be over the top in every way.  I imagine spa people going there for a weekend and throwing down 2-3k dollars for a weekend and honestly, I'd rather take that chance somewhere more tropical.

View From the Room



The Meals at The Allison Inn are delicious and beautifully displayed.  Please find everything you need here Jory

In house room service is very reasonable and delicious as well.  We did the charcuterie board full of delicious NW cheeses, crackers, and nuts.

Don't forget to let them know it's a special occasion, chances are you will find a welcome bottle of wine in your room!  

A side note:  Sometimes when they say it will be ready in 30 minutes they really mean someone will knock on the door in 10 minutes! So make sure you are dressed and ready.  Not that this happened or anything! Surprise!!


Things to do nearby: 
-Newberg is a nice little town with the main street of shops, coffee shops and restaurants.
-Wine Country is just minutes away!  My favorites are Stoller & Durant for their great atmosphere and good food.  Don't forget to try the olive oils at Durant.  
-Feeling like a Drive-in Movie?? Newberg has one of the only remaining Drive-Ins around. 
-Like Antiques?  Lafayette has some great options and further down about 30 minutes to Micminville you will find even more shops.
-McMinnville- Shops, Food, Air Museum, and Water Park

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Kauai

Our 5 Day Adventure In Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is the best spot for adventure, scenery and beautiful beaches.    This island you experience the richness of the tropical landscape without it being too commercialized, but you still can find amazing resort hotels.  We were given a place to stay in Lihue' which was a huge gift.  Located by the airport and the central hub of the island.   Kauai has some interesting weather, however, and I must say this sun-seeking girl was a little concerned with the forecast.  I'm from Oregon so I don't go to Hawaii for more rain.  Accuweather app proved to live up to its name, so we planned our sightseeing based on where the sun was going to be that day.   The one thing we'd find that if the East Shore was socked in, chances were on the South there was a ton of sun, or vice verse.
Sleeping Giant
Hiking in the morning and then beach time in the afternoon is perfect as long as you get to the beach by Noon.   We did 3.5 hikes together this trip.  The Little Giant, Ho'opi'i Falls, Secret Falls, Queens Bath (that was the .5)  He did extra hikes on Waimea Canyon and a North Shore Hike all while I enjoyed the beach.

Our meal time was really simple.  We did splurge on our last night at this amazing restaurant in Poipu.  Watching the sunset and the waves crashing was so beautiful.   Our other meals were suggestions from friends and places we just happened to hear about or stumble upon.  We had on a few disappointing meals like the shack that said "the best bbq in Kauai"  can't believe everything.   We loved the beachside happy hours and one of our favorite things to do was get a woodfired pizza to go, a glass of wine and take it to the beach lawn chairs and watch the sunset.  MUCH better than staring at each other in a fancy expensive restaurant.    Check out our Kauai Restaurant list on this page here Restaurants!




Beauitful Veiws At Poipu



The Waialua River Kayak Adventure to Secret Falls. 

This was so much fun and a nice adventure.  I would highly recommend doing this in the morning and having lunch at secret falls.  If you end up later the crowds get really thick.   We rented from a little shack right at the Wialua Bay.  There are guided tours as well but we chose to go on our own (always).    Along the river, we also noticed a really quaint spot called Kamokila Hawaiian Village.   This would be a great spot to start as well and cut your time down!

Wear good shoes, the roots are pretty big on the trail and can be pretty slippery.  There is one river crossing but it has a rope to hold on to and wasn't super deep at the time.  The hardest part of the kayak trip was on the way back going upstream against the wind.  The trip is definitely worth the money and took us about 3 hours at a fairly quick pace.








Hotels

GRAND HYATT KAUAI & SPA

One of the things I like to do is check as many hotels as time allows.  Walking the grounds and night with the beautiful lights, smells and sounds of the ocean is so romantic.  Most of the Hotels have open grounds and nonguests can walk around and enjoy the sights.

Hyatt at Kaui's PoiPu Beach is absolutely breathtaking.   Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. 
Staying here is definitely on my bucket list.   There are pools all around, wildlife, the ocean, gorgeous. Basic Rooms will run you about $550-600/night, so I definitely will have to be saving for a while.  There is just something about going to Hawaii and staying at a gorgeous resort with Palm trees, pools and all the amenities you could imagine.

Sheraton Kauai Resort

Just down the way from the Hyatt is the Sheraton Kauai.  A nice hotel that sets right on the Ocean and has a decent pool.  The body surfing at this beach is absolutely the most fun! I spent literally hours watching and laughing other people getting hammered by the waves and having a ball.  Sheraton pool is nice but you can't just buy one pass to use it, you have to buy 2, which I thought was really strange and it was way too expensive for what the pool had to offer. Rooms are about 1/2 the price of the Hyatt.

Marriot Kauai

Location is perfect right on the Kalapaki Beach.  The grounds are really nice and the pool is huge with 4 hot tubs. Fire pits surround the area near the poolside lounge and I must say their Pina Colada was the best we had.  Love the bay where there is a ton of places to lay, play beach volleyball and watch the gentle surf or learn out to paddleboard.   A perfect way to end a long day was eating our Margarita pizza with a glass of wine on Kalapak Beach.   Rooms $300-$500 per night.



This Travel Guide Was Really Helpful!




We had months to plan but of course we were cramming the last bits of planning and info into the last minute.. on the flight there!  It actually helped to drive around a while on the island to get a lay of the land and then re-read some of this book to get a better idea of what they were referring to.  I feel the next time we will have an even better schedule of planning now that we have been there.



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas

Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas 

3 Nights

The best part of this hotel is the lobby and the pool.  I don't know about the villas but after the lobby area the hotel hallways and room are really dated.   The price was competitive to other pool properties in the area, so I'm not quite sure why anyone would stay here verses some other places in Scottsdale.   The pool was really nice and plenty of space to find a chair and camp out for the day.  Poolside bar and cabanas were nice, but again the prices were luxury prices that didn't seem to equate to the quality of the rooms and other areas of the hotel.    With so many options nearby I don't understand why this resort would not make more enticing prices on the property to keep guests spending money there.   The grounds are beautiful, especially at night but we chose to go outside the hotel where we could get more of a reasonable drink and dinner.

Pool = 3-4 Stars
Food = 2 Stars (mainly because the pricing)  Did not try the main restaurant
Room = 2 Stars (Old and dated, creaked all night like it was falling apart)
Grounds = 4 Stars
Area =  3 Stars, just outside the general Scottsdale area drive to downtown.





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Hotel Eastlund

I first discovered the Hotel Eastlund while picking up a Real Estate client who was moving to the Portland Oregon area.  The East Side of Portland along the Willamette River has been slower to develop than the Downtown area.  Gradually, as space is needed for more entertainment and housing, the East has been more developed and more business, restaurants, and hotels are popping up.  There are also some great city views from that side of town as well as easy access to the Oregon Convention Center and the Moda Center and Max Train Line that goes through the city.
If Only I Smoked I'd be HOT!

Enter the Hotel Eastlund and it feels very trendy and hip.  The lobby and open space of leather lounge couches and cloth chairs, the separate space with a long meeting table, surrounded by relevant colors, art, and decor.   The front desk staff was welcoming and helpful.   We were hopeful that our room was going to be just as nice and experience great.  Our room was really nice, but there's more to the story.

One of my biggest complaints is when you book a room through a discount site and the rooms pictured are not what you get.   I can't tell you how many times we booked a room that was on discount with a regular price of some astronomical number, think we are set for a great deal and view, open the window to a brick wall.    This was our experience at the hotel Eastlund for New Year's Eve.   Granted we booked kind of last minute, but the picture showed a view of the city.  We opened the curtains and we gazed at our view of a building plastic wrapped in white under construction.  Dreams do come true.

Our Beautiful "City View" left and View from Altabira Right
There are 168 rooms and suites with California King and California Double Queens.  Can I just say a big thank you for these options!! I am so over hotels putting 2 Doubles in the rooms and selling it as a 4 person room.  Seriously, who sleeps all night spooning! The double bed is the worst and most insensitive choice for comfort and guest happiness.

The room was really nice and everything was very comfortable.  A similar orange theme carries throughout the hotel and it's artistic flair. Luxurious bedding and service for it's guests.

At the rooftop restaurant Altabira City Tavern we found a great space to finally see the views the hotel boasted about.  No plastic wrap this time, just the two beautiful spires of the Oregon Convention Center with the twinkling city lights around it.   The other option for dining is the Citizen Baker, a more casual approach and the food was really tasty and seemingly healthy.  The food servers behind the counter could take a little class on smiling and friendliness but I'll give them a pass this time, maybe their Avocados were not ripe.

Instagram Fun
The Hotel Eastlund has a very fun looking Instagram page you can follow here Instagram Hotel Eastlund.   

Book a room this month for $135/night at Hotels.com and other discount sights.  Keep in mind you have to pay for parking but it is a secure parking lot.


The Yellow Couch Mashup




Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Inn at Avila Beach

The Inn at Avila Beach  -  I Dream of Going Back!!

If you are looking for the perfect spot to spend the weekend you want to check this privately owned hotel out.  A perfect day is from the upper deck of the Avilla Inn.   Complimentary breakfast and coffee in the morning and snacks in the later afternoon make this a perfect place to stay. The food and coffee are delicious!  Sip your coffee while overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean.  Take in the sights and sounds of beach life and sea life such as dolphin sightings and sea lions.   Avilla staff are warm and friendly and very hospitable.
The Inn at Avila feels like a best-kept secret and I’m sure some would hate to get the secret out of this amazing hotel.

The Inn at Avila Beach
Live Rooftop Camera! See What You are Missing
The rooms vary in differences and decor but the owners have done a great job to make this quaint Hotel feel like you are in a European Beach Villa.    The rooms are spacious and most come with soaking tubs and nice walk in showers.  A  handful of ocean rooms are available with breathtaking views and a large balcony but don’t worry if you don’t get one, the rooftop deck is a perfect alternative.    A few things about the Avila Inn… don’t go expecting the Hilton or the finest of Hyatts, this place is privately owned similar to a bed and breakfast feel..  The grounds are not completely perfect and there might be a little chipped paint on the rails, but it’s charming and cared for.    Spend a fantastic day in Avila and then come back to the hotel for warm pie and cookies before nights end.   Sunset Magazine quotes:


The Inn also provides bikes, beach chairs, beach towels, movies, and games for their guests to enjoy.


The Inn at Avila Beach
Live Rooftop Camera! See What You are Missing

A Weekend In Avila Beach California

Where Peacefulness and Fun Get Together.


Avila Beach is a perfect spot to find sunshine and relaxation.  Located in California's central coast off Highway 1, the beauitful drive to this cozy cove is timeless. The peaceful ocean waters border this quaint town lined with restaurants and shops.  There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of the ocean, taking a walk along the beach, watching the surfers tackle the waves and hopefully catch sights of dolphins and sea lions.   Summer months are definately more busy so if you can get away to Avila in the Spring and Fall you might have better luck finding that peaceful spot on the beach.

For a nice activity take a run, walk, or bike along the Bob Jones trail. This trail winds through the peaceful landscape over bridges which have seasonal babbling brooks (when not in draught).  Mostly flat, this trail is suitable for all conditions and abilities.

The Avila hot springs are a popular stop if you are into mineral soaking and rejuvination.  Camping and cabins, provide various spaces to stay.  Rent bikes and go along the Bob Jones Trail.  The fresh water heated pool with water slides is fun for all ages.   Here's you guide to soaking it up Avila Hot Springs.

The Farmers Market on the Prominade happens Friday Nights from 4pm-8pm April throught September! There's nothing better than local farm produce, wine tastings, various musical performaces and booths lines with the finest of goods with the backdrop of the ocean.  The Avila Farmers market has so much to offer be sure to check out the offical site Avila Farmers Market. 
The Wine tasting and wine exploring was very promintate in Avila beach.  Who deosn't want to look at waves while drinking a gorgeous glass of wine.  The wineries are a fun destination place to ride your bikes, especially moterized bikes, to one of the fantastic Avila Winerys on a nice day.

Becuase of the way Avila Beach faces.. south.. you don't get thos awesome sunsets.  But never fear you can go just south down to Pismo Beach where you can spend the evening on the pier waiting for the sunset.  Walk along the promenade and enjoy the many restaurants and shops.












Wednesday, March 20, 2019

New York New York Las Vegas


New York New York -Las Vegas

Our flight is late, we strangely get into the wrong Uber but make it to our Hotel New York New York in Las Vegas.   We are not regulars to the Vegas area so gambling is not our draw obviously and my $20 I bet on slots gets nursed along for about an hour.   But checking into the NYNY hotel we won the jackpot.  It was 11pm our room should have been ready, but it wasn't, which is so weird.  After the host was on the phone for a while he finally attended to us and said "well you have 2 options..you can either wait for 20 minutes for your room, or you can stay in the Penthouse for the evening.  We thought about it for about -10 seconds and both said: "UM Penthouse please"!  It was then I was re-thinking my choice not to spend more than $20 on the slot machines.   So this review will cover two types of rooms the Penthouse suite, which I have no idea how much it goes per night, because it's not anywhere on the internet, and the regular King size room.

The Penthouse:  DANG!!! Who stays like this.. probably people who spend more than $20 at the casino.   Gorgeous and huge it had everything but great instructions on how to use the surround sound system.  We struggled but soon were having a dance party in one of the rooms.   The views were amazing, the bathroom was bigger than my dining room and entry and the bed was super comfortable.  We slept well and sadly had to check out at 11 to a more standard room.  BUT it was fun while it lasted and I'm happy to oblige again.  Thank You Front Desk Man & NYNY LVegas!

King Size Standard Room:    At $95/night not bad.  Hard not to compare our new digs to the wonderland upstairs but suddenly we feel rich again.   Same quality bed honestly, just no Jacuzzi tub living room, marble floors, and wet bar.   Sadly the standard room does not even come with a coffee maker which made it clear why the Starbucks line was around the corner.   Our room back up to the NYNY roller coaster that wraps around the entire hotel.  We were lucky to be by the first drop so as you can imagine there were some screams.  Thankfully they close the rollercoaster at 11pm so it's not a distraction for sleeping.  The Roller Coaster is $15 to ride, which I thought was pretty steep for LV.  Someone once told me that Las Vegas was so reasonable with food and entertainment but we are either really cheap or don't get out much because we found it to be the opposite.

New York New York Las Vegas is right across the bridge from the MGM Grand which takes about 40 minutes for the average walker.. end to end.  My fit bit was congratulating me 7 times over in a day.  Don't worry about eating a donut, you will walk it off just walking from your room to the front desk.    Back at the NYNY ranch, I liked the smaller footprint of this hotel.  The cobblestone streets, anchored by the New York Style building were a nice touch.  A Ton of people enjoyed the dueling pianos at the Irish Pub.  NewYork Style Pizza, Italian, the Hershey Shop, Sushi and MORE!
give you lots of options for dining.   The Casino in the middle is smaller, nothing like some of the other Hotels and mostly machines.  Of course, how can you compare to the Bellagio Tables, that was sure a different experience. 

Overall the New York New York didn't disappoint10 pools.  But hey, I got a chair and it was refreshing. I'd love to check out The Tank at the Golden Nugget!

.  We thought the service was nice (of course we did get the penthouse) and it was easy to navigate.  The pool was just okay.. not a real draw compared to the MGM across the street, or some of the other top




Sunday, March 3, 2019

3 Day Cruise To Mexico - Carnival Style

3 Day Cruise To Ensenada 


If you have never been on a cruise and live on the West Coast of the United States, the 3 or 4 day cruise to Ensenada Mexico is a good one (4 days if you add Catalina Island).  It is short enough that if you find you hate cruising, you are only stuck for a few days.   Carnival uses one of their older more simple lines for these 3 day-ers and I wasn't too excited about the pool or the size of the hot tubs compared to some other ships I have been on.  Lots and Lots of brass and gold everywhere, but more power to them they ship was packed. 

Ensenada, not exactly the most tropical of Mexican cities you can visit, but it has some fun excursions to do for the day.  They have slowly been fixing up their port area and I'd highly suggest you try the churros right off the ship to the left.. hopefully he's still there because they are the best churros in all of Baja I'm sure.   Surprisingly, many of the tourists got off the party boat Carnival ship and went straight to Papa's and Beer which was, unfortunately, blaring the American song "Yeah" by Usher and everyone was going nuts. I don't know, call me silly, but when I'm in a different country I kind of like to hear their music.  We passed the party boat restaurant and the lady in the oversized sombrero.. from the boat.. for a more authentic taqueria that was simply amazing.   Now I feel like I'm in Mexico.

Obviously, one afternoon in a city isn't really enough to get a real grasp of its culture other than a ton of touristy shops trying to sell you fine gold and the latest day of the dead skulls.   A few streets over from the main drag we found another great little Cantina that served really great inexpensive margaritas, chips, and salsa for the win. 

Taxi's-  I was so scared to take a Taxi mainly from other people freaking me out about them.  If you take one of the yellow Taxies in town you are fine.  Unless of course, the guy doesn't know how to drive, but twice now we have had perfect luck and they are always super nice.   Of course on the radio the American Disco Music.. because that must be what we want, and down some paved roads until they weren't paved,  which literally was an intersection of difference.   Our destination was the canopy tours https://lascanadas.com/.  We've only been here off season so the crowds were low but really fun. Other options for afternoon adventures in Ensenada are jeep tours, kayaking, horseback riding, ATV's through wine country (that sounds pretty amazing) and of course bar hopping so you can drink cheap margaritas and listen to Usher.



Friday, March 1, 2019

The Dana at Mission Bay




The Dana at Mission Bay

This hotel is located right near San Diego's Sea World, in fact we got a free firework show thanks to the closing of the day at SW.   The Dana is a beautiful hotel with 2 pool areas and a tropical feel.  The room entry is similar to Motel style where doors are on the outside, which I'm not a huge fan of however inside the room were really nice and spacious.  There are many rooms with balcony's but we had a normal double room with no balcony but a nice corner view of the Marina.

Just steps from the rooms are the pool, gardens and walking path along the arena.  The resort offers a wide variety of events and specials throughout the week.   The pool with bar cabana made for a great feel of summer fun in the tropics.   The Dana is located in a great central location close to everything fun at Mission Bay and Mission Beach, Seaworld and Belmont Park.

Hotel Front Desk: Sorry to say but this was not impressive or a good experience at all.  The front desk person was so rude and unaccommodating.  We were hoping for an extra room and she said there were none left.  I went outside, went on Hotels.com and booked a room.  Came back in and said apparently there was one left as I just booked it on Hotels.com.   She still wouldn't pull up my reservation until an hour later.  I almost complained but thought I'd be passive aggressive and complain on my blog.  LOL no really I just had it was done and just wanted my key.

Public Reviews:   There is a mixed bag of reviews at this hotel.  For the price you pay on high season you'd expect there not to be so many complaints.   While there are a ton of great things about the Hotel, but I'm not sure I'd risk the money to try it again with all the terrible reviews and our Management experience.   I think the best thing for me was the poolside menu as it was reasonable and really delicious.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Weekend In Portland Oregon



What are Your favorite things to do and memories of your visit to Portland, Oregon? Please leave your comments below.


A Weekend In Portland, Oregon

Portland Oregon is a great city to visit for a weekend.  It's not too big and there are a ton of activities you can do pretty easily and inexpensively.  It does rain as to why it's so green, but the rain comes and goes and you can still have many weeks where it is dry and hot in the spring and summer and even in January! 

Stay downtown at one of the beautiful hotels, many which offer bikes to get around.  Portland is known for having great areas for bikes but you still have to be really careful and know what you are doing.  There are some designated bike paths across bridges that are definitely easy to navigate.  One of the nice loops to do if you want to see the city from different vantage points is to pick up an orange bike at the south waterfront near Mccormick and Shmicks, go south to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge and head over to the East bank past Omsi and back over the Steel bridge to Tom Mcall waterfront and back to your original location.  It's about a 4-mile ride and at the end have a nice drink outside and enjoy the views of the water and people passing by. This would be weather permitting of course.
Downtown shopping areas and dining, NW 23rd, 21st, and The Pearl District have great food and shops.  Of course the, obvious attractions are Powell's Porltand Art Museum,  Pioneer Square, Lan  Su Chinese Garden, the beautiful Rose Garden at Washington Park and the Zoo.  For kids, Omsi and the Children's Museaum are really fun as well.
books, The

EAST
Traveling over the Hawthorne Bridge will lead you to the iconic Hawthorne District!  More shops and eating happen here and definatly more of an earthy vibe and Portlandia.  This is a great place to people watch, grab your vintage or hippie outfit, your organic coffee and eat at one of the cool little restaurants.
A few streets over from Hawthorn is Divistion which is a little less Hippe and more Yippie, if that makes sense.  New buildings and condos and rejuvinated street of shops and restaurants.

N/NE

Up in NE and N Portland, there are several districts that have turned a corner in the last 15 years.   Alberta Arts district is known for its culture, art, and food.  Alberta Arts 
Head over the Piedmont district which olds the Missippi street fair each year drawing 1000's of people.  Shops and food and culture make this street a great place to hang out.  If you happen to be in Portland in the late spring and summer you must see Pennisula Park!  The June Roses are breathtaking and smell wonderful.

Food Carts of Portland 
Don't be afraid! They are pretty amazing and several areas around the city.  The biggest grouping is downtown Portland on Alder have about 60 food carts with food from all over the world.   I want to link to this site  Food Carts Portland to make it easy for you.  Personally, I like the carts that have a space to hang out, maybe a firepit, heaters, dangling lights in the courtyard.

Day Trip Ideas:  

Seaside/Cannon/Astoria Beaches 1hr 30m
Newport Beach and Aquarium 2hr 21min
Tillamook Creamery Paired with a walk on Cape Meares. 2hr 13m
Timberline at Mt. Hood  1 hr 30m
Multnomah Falls  - 37 Minutes
Gorge Hikes - 41 minutes +
Silver Creek Falls - 1hr 15 min  (The town of Silverton is a pretty small town and cute)

What are Your favorite things to do and memories of your visit to Portland, Oregon comment below.



 













Monday, February 11, 2019

Kona Kai Resort San Diego

Kona Kai Resort - A 4 Star Resort In San Diego California


Located on Shelter Island, the Kona Kai resort has both marina view rooms and bay view rooms.  The hotel lobby was welcoming and tropical.   Our room located on the 2nd floor which only was accessed by stairs was really nicely updated.  It had a very large balcony overlooking the pool and marina.  The rooms were nice and clean and had everything we needed.

We spent the first afternoon at the pool.  Being late September it wasn't too busy at the pool and it was a particularly hot weekend.  We had our choice of lounge chairs and the cabanas were open if we wanted to escape the sun.  An outdoor bar piped music while serving poolside drinks and food.

Activities at the Hotel:  Besides swimming the Kona Kai has its own private beach area with fire pits and Adirondack chairs.  Access to bike rentals, paddle boards, and kayaks was right outside on the path.  A walk along the Bayside walking path was nice overlooking the city and military base as well as the occasional cruise ship.   The location of the hotel was close to everything and right near the airport. 

It appeared to be a popular spot for corporate events and weddings.  Parking was not included but valet was available.    The Marina Yacht club was right near the 

We'd definitely stay at the Kona Kai Resort if given another opportunity.  Looks like the Spa got on the Conde' Nast 10 Best List for 2018!

Fun in San Deigo

San Diego is one of my favorite California Beach cities to visit.   The size of it makes doing a lot of things possible even if you only have a weekend.  I've been a few times and each time I find something new and fun.  Flying into San Diego you will fly right throughout the city and what seams really close to homes but then suddenly there is the runway.  One evening we went to the top of the parking garage to stand under the approaching planes as they came in, which was quite a rush looking straight up to the underside of a 747.

Obvious attractions you can go and spend a good amount of money at, but good to do at least once and especially with kids are Sea World the San Diego ZooBalboa Park is beautiful to walk around and if you have time to look at some of the museums.    All of those choices will take you 1/2 to full days.  Less expensive attractions are Sea Port Village, Mission Beach and Belmont Park, La Jolla and Old Town San Diego.   Old Town San Diego is everything Mexican style.  I prefer to go later afternoon into the evening so you get both experiences of seeing the town in the day and then lit up at night.  The Mexican restaurants are easy to find and fairly predictable in style and choices.  There is usually a fun event going on which can bring a ton of huge crowds so check the link and calendar.

One of my favorite things to do is walk or ride bikes along the boardwalk at Mission Beach.   The sunshine and sounds of the ocean, wind in my hair riding down the boardwalk is simple and free.  There are several spots to stop for food and drinks along the way.  The sunset was glorious and as people started stopping what they were doing at watching the sunset go further down, it was as if it was a quiet spiritual moment where everyone just paused what they were doing to watch the wonder of the sun and the end of the hot beach day.   For evening fun a quick drive to downtown  Mission Beach and the Mission Bay area are packed full of activities.  Boating, Biking, Swimming, Paddle Boarding to name a few.  The Hotels in this area are very nice and a few have some great pool spots.

A nice drive up to LaJolla for the sunset is a lot of fun.  One major attraction is the Children's Pool where you can walk out to the end of the jetty and try to escape the crashing waves.  The entire Seal Rocks area is a great spot to take pictures, sit on rocks, eat a picnic lunch and take in the beautiful Ocean waves.

Just north of La Jolla is Torry Pines Recreation Area.  Here you will find or get your chance to Paraglide!  It's quite amazing to watch the paragliders fly along the edge of the cliffs.  It's a beautiful view from high on the cliffs out to the Pacific Ocean.  If you are really adventurous you can walk down the path on the side of the cliff down to Blacks Beach.  But be aware that there may be a little more surprises at the bottom of the hiked down than expected.  In other words, swimsuits are optional.  The hike up is pretty challenging and steep so bring lots of water and stamina.

Tory Pines Recreation Center
One thing we are pretty particular about is our street tacos, salsa, and chips!  You'd think in San Diego with the influence of Mexico as the neighbor you'd find amazing Mexican food on every corner, but we had to hunt.   Finally, at Pacific beach we found some great Catina's that had some nice outdoor spots and good Mexican food...and then we found Oscars.   Oscars was simply stunning Mexican food, like the kind you journal about when you get home.  A line out the door is not a surprise the flavors were something we still talk about.  Cash only so come prepared.

Heading South to Downtown San Deigo you will find Seaport Village.  This section of San Diego is quite touristy and a lot of people.  After all, the cruise ships unload nearby so it's no wonder.   It's a fun place to walk around the nice little shops to get souvenirs and see street acts.  A fun thing to do is the Jet Boat rides in the bay.  We went on a very warm summer day and got absolutely drenched, but it was a complete blast and seeing the city from that vantage point was really nice.   The USS Midway is very worth it.  They have portable radio "tour guides" you can listen to as you go into each room of the ship. We spent a few hours on the ship before we did the Jet Boats and it was perfect!

 









San Diego Gas Lamp Quarter where there are a ton of great little restaurants and bars and people spilling out in the sidewalks and streets.  It definitely drew a younger crowd but it was fun to experience and at a minimum, drive through.
Driving along Point Loma to the end you get to the Cabrillo National Monument where the city views from that vantage point were really beautiful.  There you find the history of San Diego and can climb up in the historic lighthouse.  The road back was lined with thousands of white military tombstones that looked out over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, pretty amazing and made me pause again to reflect.

Next Time:  I'll spend more time on Coronado Island and exploring Downtown as I know there are some great spots there.  If you have your favorites San Diego traditions and favorite spots please comment below! 


Hotels: Kona Kai Resort, Dana Point, Hyatt Regency

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hotel DeLuxe

Hotel DeLuxe

Recently I visited the Hotel Deluxe Portland for one night.   It was New Years so I thought for sure the prices were going to be through the beautiful vintage roof, but I actually got a fantastic last minute deal through Priceline.com, SO last minute that by the time we drove from the house to the Hotel they didn't have our reservation all dialed in yet.  The front desk attendant was so friendly and welcoming as she processed the awkward booking of a a room that wasn't showing up on the system.  Once she found it she realized there were no rooms as such that we booked but asked if we would mind having the Queen Suite instead of the King room.  Anytime suite is attached to the question at a nice hotel..  I say "yes".  I would have taken the twin suite at that point.

Lobby:

Spinning around from the front desk, holding my classic movie themed keys, the view into the lobby is a cozy, living room style with couches a beautiful Christmas tree, grand piano.  Centered in the middle, a vintage black and white picture of a classic Movie favorite which apparently they rotate 30,40,50's screen shots. The beams and detail on the ceiling were beautiful and the well kept heritage and charm of the historical building were not missed.

Rooms:

Our Queen Suite was charming with 2 rooms a living and bedroom.  It was located at the end of the hallway so very quite and a corner view.  I would say the only thing that was noticeable were the loud old pipes making it obvious of other guests were nearby.  The room had everything one could think of and felt just like we were in a luxury Eropean hotel.

Parking: Valet or parking structure across the way.  Also an option you snag a 4 hour spot along the block for free after 7P.   We didn't have to buy a ticket at all due to the Holiday, but normally you'd have to get up and buy a ticket the next morning until checkout, so maybe the Parking garage is best for longer stays.

Location:   Right down from Providence Park where the Timbers and Thorns play.  Easy walk to restaurants, and max line to other parts of Portland and the Pearl.

Food:  The hotel has several dining options, the restaurant Gracie's is the largest and unfortunately we did not get a chance to try it due to a private wedding and diets after the new year.  It looked amazing though https://www.hoteldeluxeportland.com/eat-drink/gracies/  .

If you are looking for a boutique style hotel and in a great location with excellent service and price I would definitely book at Hotel DeLuxe. It was recently recognized as one of Portland's favorites in the 2017 Conde' Nast Travelers readers choice awards.

YELP: https://www.yelp.com/biz/hotel-deluxe-portland

Address: 
729 SW 15th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205 
Disclaimer:  I do not get paid to try these hotels or review them, I just like to give credit where credit is due.  That being said, if you are a Hotel that would like me to review your digs.. Please click over at the contact page. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

New York In 3 Days

I'm a west coast girl who had never been to NewYork until this last fall when I got to spend 3 days exploring Manhattan.  Really it was 1/2 a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and 1/2 Monday. I love the energy of cities but I have to be honest, the thought of going to NYC added some anxiety.   So for those of you in that same place of fear of being overwhelmed by the thought of NYC I'm here to tell you that is was truly the best experience and not scary at all.
There are literally so many things to see and do and with the limited time we had to make the most of it.  Thankfully the city doesn't really sleep so we took advantage of late nights. With some prior online searching, we found options for a City pass & the Sight Seeing Pass.  Both of those options are good to get you into a lot of attractions for far less than if you purchased separately.  We chose about 6 attractions which included a trip on the open city bus exploring uptown and downtown, which took forever, but was nice to rest our feet and see where we wanted to return to.   I could write a whole separate blog about annoyances of the Sight Seeing Pass and the small print, but we were able to get our monies worth and one of the choices was a shuttle back to the Airport.
As for getting around, there are many options.  We found the subways were the easiest and quickest to get through the city.  When our feet were too tired of walking and we wanted to get somewhere quick we'd hop on one of the blue city bikes.  It's easy to download the app, rent a bike and leave it at numerous bike drop-offs.  I'd say by far this was the most fun way to see the city and neighborhoods quickly.  The bikes were super easy to use and there's nothing like riding through NYC, wind blowing in your hair, with the Big Apple as the back drop for super amazing fun pictures.

We packed so much in 3 days so planning how to see the most in one section is important and not lingering too long in one spot.  For instance, we like museums but we are not going to spend 6 hours reading everything in the Natural History Museum.  Thankfully both of us were on equal tolerance for when we had seen enough.  We knew this trip was about seeing as much as we could in a short time, and eating as much pizza as we could along the way.  We found some amazing little pizza places and our favorite on the corner near our hotel.  We felt like regulars by day 3 and even had a nice visit with the owner who was more than happy to tell us everything about the history of the shop. Our second favorite pizza shop was near the 911 Memorial.  The next time we go, we definitely have to see a Broadway show, visit the Met, boat around the Statue of Liberty, SOHO and other off the beaten path neighborhoods. 

Journal: 

Great day 1 in NYC we logged 10.2 miles and 22,481 steps and our feet hurt so bad!! Pics are top of the rock, Rockefeller center, Times Square, Hershey store, and empty sky memorial on New Jersey side. We ate our first NY Pizza at Fluffys 😍
Day 2 Historical museum, walk through Central Park, biking 🚴‍♀️ through the city.. so fun, more pizza, ride in the double decker which was great but so cold, 911 memorial which I completely burst into tears which was unexpected for us both , 911 museum was so well done, subway back.. and now to a comedy club.
Day#3
We are so tired we walked 11.8 miles today!! Even with riding the sub and bikes. Run/walk in Central Park, brunch In Greenwich, financial district, biked over Brooklyn bridge, Brooklyn Flea market, Chelsea market and high line park. SOOOO tired!!


Here's the list of what we did: 

Chelsea Market 
Brooklyn Bridge & Brooklyn Flea
Financial District 
Greenwich Village
World Trade Center Memorial 
Rockefeller Center Top of the Rock
Central Park 
American Museum of Natural History
The Highline
Comedy Show
Open Air Bus Tours
The Today Show
Times Square
Citibikes

Hotel:  Hudson New York This swanky little hotel gave us a great deal through Hotels.com and was in a great location to central park and other hot spots.  Right across from CNN and a quick block to the subway.  The rooms looked a little bigger online but the price was great.  Not a ton of extras in the room and the bathroom was just okay. The perks of the hotel was the general lobby vibe and the fantastic restaurant and bar where the sliders and fries were amazing!





Central Park

Washington Square Park


Financial District

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