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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

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.


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.


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.


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

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. 


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.
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

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Hudson Hotel New York City

The Hudson Hotel

I've always heard that New York hotels are super expensive so when hunting for my first New York experience and not breaking the bank, I was super excited to find the Hudson Hotel.  Literally, just around the corner from Central Park it was the perfect location unless of course you are walking late at night and have your map turned around, then it seems real far from everything.   Who says that happened though.

We had a little trouble finding the hotel at first due to construction but once we did we escalated up the to the lobby and were pleasantly surprised.   It was an excellent vibe, swanky feel beating our expectations.  Once up on our floor we could tell maybe some remodeling had been done or at the very least still in process.  I'm pretty sure they hired an intern as a painter as the door frame and wall didn't seem to have a definitive separation of the bright green door paint.  While on the subject..I question the meeting that took place deciding on the bright green door paint.

The room was smaller than the pictures showed, but I remembered the price and also the fact anything in NYC is expensive.  Kudos to wide-angle cameras.. you are doing a good job at your job.  I wasn't super enamored  by the room or decor and it didn't have a lot of amenities, but the other features of the hotel made up for this.  Plus we spent most of our time outside our room accept to sleep.   The very small bathroom felt cold and as if I was time-warped to my Grandpa's bathroom in the 1940s.  I didn't see any bottles of Old Spice though so we are good.

Looking out the window of the cityscape and seeing all the lights of thousands of other rooms of homes was eerily cozy.  Picturing myself living there and what it would be like to live in this amazing city, walking up to these sounds and sites every day.

The Restaurant we tried down off the main lobby had the most amazing hamburgers and fries.  The atmosphere was great and the prices reasonable.   There are wonderful places to sit outside in the garden rooftop areas which depending on the time of year would be much more glorious than when we were there, but I can see a vision of what it might be.

Overall I loved the Hudson.  I thought it was a great value for what we got.  I could have used a few more amenities in our room, those little added touches, but would definitely stay here again if we got the same price through Hotels.com.


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