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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Western San Francisco

COMMENTS: 6

5Things_Western San Fran

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Liz Stanley of the wonderful Say Yes shows us the sights in Western SF.

5 Things: Western San Francisco
Liz Stanley of Say Yes

I’m Liz Stanley of Say Yes, and I live with my husband and two kids on the western side of San Francisco, in a neighborhood called the Richmond District. We love it here because it’s safe, quiet, just across the street from Golden Gate Park, and close to some great elementary schools. It’s not considered hip—and it’s certainly foggier than other parts of the city—but we’ve managed to find a few secret gems in and around our ‘hood that I’m excited to share with you today!

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Houston

COMMENTS: 8

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth welcomes us warmly to Houston, Texas.

5 Things: Houston
Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth / Photos by Jared Smith

Though I may not be a Houston native (I originally lived in West Virginia), I’ve grown to really, really love this city and definitely consider it home these days. It’s got all of the opportunities you could want, but it still has a tendency to feel small and welcoming once you find your little niche. On top of that, it’s the kind of town foodies dream of, but with less of a wait then you’d expect most places, and there’s almost always something going on for families and young adults alike.

EAT:
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Blacksmith, 1018 Westheimer Road, (832) 360-7470
Tout Suite, 2001 Commerce, 713-227-8688
Weights + Measures, 2808 Caroline Street, (713) 654-1970
Tacos A Go Go, 3704 Main Street, (713) 807-8226
Ninfa’s on Navigation, 2704 Navigation Boulevard, (713) 228-1175

You could go out to eat every single meal of every day for a month and still find great places to eat in Houston. Stand-outs include Blacksmith, which is great for a quick coffee and some of the best biscuits in town, and we frequent Tout Suite the most because our studio space is just upstairs. Weights + Measures has a very cool vibe and amazing brunch, and Tacos A Go Go and Ninfa’s are token places to try for Tex-Mex.

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Travelogue: Los Angeles (Part Two)

COMMENTS: 22

Travelogue Los Angeles 2

[Continued from Part I]

Our week in Los Angeles was so full of wonderful things that could warrant a post in and of themselves; I had to break this travelogue into two parts (and really more, if you count the drive up and down the 101 and our visit to the Huntington Gardens). But at the same time, what was really special about this trip was—having been here so many times before (and having lived here for a time)—that I didn’t feel any of that pressure to “do it all.”

Here are some more highlights from what we did choose to do… 

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Travelogue: Los Angeles (Part One)

COMMENTS: 21

Travelogue Los Angeles

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We’d spent one weekend exploring Los Angeles’ west side last year and wanted to return for longer to explore its… Hmm, what to call it? Its central neighborhoods? When I was living in Los Angeles, in the Fairfax district, I would have called Echo Park and Silverlake “the east” in error. I’ve learned that “East LA” should really be reserved for that which sits east of the LA River. In order to best avoid the minefield that lies in naming sections of Los Angeles, perhaps I should just say that this is the “not West Los Angeles-travelogue.”

In truth, it was our intention to make it a Silverlake-centric trip. We based ourselves there, finding a house one block off of Sunset Junction.

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We rented a three-bedroom house, from which we had a lovely view of the Hollywood Hills. In the mornings, it was a short stroll to breakfast or coffee (always coffee, usually at Intelligentsia). And on a couple of the days, when the kids slept in the afternoon, it was a short walk to shops like Mohawk General Store, Clare Vivier, Mollusk, Shinola, and Sweet William.

We pictured ourselves hiring a babysitter for a few of the evenings and then simply walking to dinners out—you could have an entire vacation’s worth of great meals in that neighborhood—and we arranged for a sitter to come for three nights! But we found ourselves taking that chance to drive and do more exploring.

Here are the highlights, (in typically long travelogue fashion)…

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

COMMENTS: 8

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, I’m especially excited for photographer Jennifer Chong to share her local’s guide to Long Beach—because it’s where I grew up!

5 Things: Long Beach
Jennifer Chong

I’m a Georgia girl who moved west about five years ago. I now live in an area called Belmont Heights, which is walking distance from the beach and a short car ride from some of LA’s best attractions. And while I’ll admit that Long Beach is the only city I’ve lived in since I moved to California, I can’t imagine calling any other place home.

EAT:
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Simmzy’s Pub, 5271 East 2nd Street, (562) 439- 5590
Long Beach Thai, 3320 East Anaheim Street, (562) 597-6987
Starling Diner, 4114 East 3rd Street, (562) 433-2041
Open Sesame, 5215 East 2nd Street, (562) 621-1698
Rose Park Roasters, 3044 East 4th Street, (562) 434-4346

Food is my jam, and Long Beach has some good eats. Simmzy’s is a great place for lunch or dinner—whatever you do, make sure you try their Brussels sprouts. They’re seriously amazing. Other favorites include Long Beach Thai for authentic Thai boat noodles and papaya salad; Starling Diner for French toast at brunch; Open Sesame for Lebanese fried potatoes; and Rose Park Roasters for great coffee.

SHOP:
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Make Collectives, 430 East 1st Street, (562) 612-0089
Coast Modern, 219 Main Street, (714) 404-8779
Petals and Pop, 214 Main St, (562) 936-0131

If there’s one thing Long Beach is known for, it’s its many vintage and antique shops. I’m not great at flea market shopping, but I love finding hidden gems. Make Collectives carries a great selection of new and vintage goods in addition to putting on some pretty rad workshops. Retro Row is also host to a ton of great stores—just be sure to check times before you visit, as most of them close early during the week. Lastly, just a short distance away in nearby Seal Beach, you’ll find Coast Modern, a wonderfully curated clothing and home goods shop. While you’re there, grab a soda at Petals and Pop!

STAY:
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AirBNB—Long Beach

You’ll be able to find all the typical chain hotels around Long Beach, but for the best live-like-a-local experience, I’d book an Airbnb in one of the area’s cuter neighborhoods—try Belmont Shore or Belmont Heights. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even book your stay on a boat!

PLAY:
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Make time to take a stroll down Belmont Shore’s 2nd Street. You’ll find plenty of shops and good eats. Afterward, rent bikes and take the path toward downtown. You’ll pass volleyball players and kite surfers on the way to downtown Long Beach’s waterfront.

PACK:
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Penfield Inuvik Parka Jacket, $200

Pack a light jacket! While SoCal is known for its perfect weather, the nights can get a bit chilly. Pack a cover-up—like this Penfield Inuvik Parka Jacket from Madewell—to use as a layer after a long day out on the town.

Thank you so much, Jennifer! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)

P.S. Visiting the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and taking a toddler to Disneyland.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, OR

COMMENTS: 12

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, photographer Celeste Noche gives us a peek into (the East Side of) beautiful Portland, Oregon.

5 Things: Portland, Oregon
Celeste Noche of Celeste Noche Photography

Since my first visit five years ago, every subsequent trip to Portland has been a small step toward eventually making it my home. Coming from the Bay Area, the differences between the two are what make it special: the walk/bike-ability, the micro-neighborhoods, the lush overgrowth, and the food (of course). But more than anything, I think the pace of life and the open community are what have ultimately made this an easy home to adopt.

Moving here was a fresh start. Leaving California, I also left the tech scene, which felt to me like a bit of a rat race. In Portland, there’s a community of creatives made up of all kinds of people living slowly while also living their dreams. This, coupled with the subtle change in seasons and endless good eats, has made Portland my dream come true.

EAT:
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I could create a month’s itinerary in Portland based solely on meals, but these five places are especially dear to my heart. With Portland being such a food-centric town, though, it’s hard to go wrong here!

Random Order, 1800 NE Alberta Street, (971) 340-6995
When most people come to Portland, they’re eager to get in line for donuts or ice cream. To me, both those things pale in comparison to Random Order’s banana cream pie.

Luce, 2140 E Burnside Street, (503) 236-7195
Having studied abroad in Florence, I lean toward simple and timeless when it comes to Italian food. Luce does exactly that. And with its Italian dry goods, black and white tile, and floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s so cute I’m tempted to move right in.

Broder, 2508 SE Clinton Street or 2240 N Interstate Avenue
Of all of the wonderful brunch spots here, Broder is my favorite. It’s Scandinavian-inspired, so it’s delicious and beautiful. Order the lost eggs and share the aebleskiver among the table. Oh, and either avoid weekends or go early!

Grain and Gristle, 1473 NE Prescott Street, (503) 298-5007
One of the great things about Portland bars is that they all have to serve food (it’s the law). Grain and Gristle’s motto is “fine food and libations” and it offers up exactly that. This is the neighborhood tavern that I wish was closer to my own.

Farina Bakery, 1852 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, (971) 340-9734
Farina is my favorite bakery. It’s colorful and bright, with the most scrumptious pastries to match! I always feel like a local coming in here—give Laura a hug for me when you stop in for a macaron.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

COMMENTS: 19

Edinburgh

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Malgosia Frej of The Fleeting Day guides us on a tour of Edinburgh’s best.

5 Things: Edinburgh
Malgosia Frej of The Fleeting Day

My husband and I moved to Edinburgh eight years ago for university, and we fell in love with its green parks, its sandstone houses, and the castle perched on top of an old volcano in the middle of the city. The Scottish capital has so much more to offer than just tartan, bagpipes, and haggis (a local delicacy). With its curious mix of medieval and classical architecture, rich cafe and restaurant culture, and its proximity to both mountains and the sea, Edinburgh is sure to please and surprise. A bonus: it can be easily explored on foot, so sightseers can take in the views and historic highlights at a strolling pace.

EAT:
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Nonna’s Kitchen, 45 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4AZ, +44 131 466 6767
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Street, Edinburgh EH6 6LX , +44 131 555 1755

My personal favorite for dinner in Edinburgh is Nonna’s Kitchen — a family-run Italian restaurant with a super fresh daily menu, a good range of local seafood, and an overall homey feel. Another to try is The Kitchin, a Michelin starred gem, whose chef is fanatical about seasonal fare. The lunch menu is very reasonably priced at £28.50 for three courses, and offers a great way to sample Scottish cuisine.

Other favorites include Peter’s Yard for breakfast and Swedish pastries; La Garrique for one of the best wine lists in Scotland; Affogato for Italian gelato; and The Gardener’s Cottage, which grows its own veggies and has the perfect al fresco atmosphere in the summertime. For coffee, try Artisan Roast or Brew Lab.

SHOP:
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Walker Slater, 20 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2HG, +44 131 220 2636
The Red Door Gallery, Victoria Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2JW, +44 131 477 3255
Hannah Zakari, 43 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QB, +44 131 226 5433
Isle of Sky Candle Company, 93 West Bow, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2JP, +44 131 629 2800
Mr Wood’s Fossils, 5 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1JY, +44 131 220 1344

Victoria Street is one of my favorite places for gift shopping in Edinburgh. Walker Slater is the perfect place to get a Scottish Tweed jacket, coat, or woollen scarf. I also love The Red Door Gallery for local art and screen prints, Hannah Zakari for lovely jewelry, and Skye Candles, which are poured on one of the Inner Hebrides (the islands dotted on the West Coast of Scotland).

Whenever we have visitors with children we stop by the Mr Wood’s Fossils – a shop opened in the 80s by a fossil hunter, where you can buy whale bones, malachite stone, or even dinosaur’s poo. It’s invariably a big hit with young explorers!

STAY:
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Airbnb is always a good idea. My favorite neighborhoods are Stockbridge, which has plenty of family-friendly eateries, and Bruntsfield, which is located just by Edinburgh’s biggest park, The Meadows, with numerous cafes, restaurants and a great view of the Edinburgh Castle.

PLAY:
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The National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, +44 300 123 6789

I could spend days wandering around the National Museum of Scotland. It was recently refurbished and its collection is absolutely amazing. It has everything, from  history to design, astronomy to art to animals — it makes for a perfect morning out, especially if the weather is typically Scottish (i.e. constant rain). Insider tip: go to the top floor roof terrace for a great view of the castle and Edinburgh skyline.

Other favorites are Calton Hill and Blackford Hill — both offer amazing panorama views of the city, especially at sunset.

PACK:
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Hunter Boots, since they were originally manufactured in Edinburgh, in a factory 100m from where we currently live!  They’ll keep your feet nice and warm as you explore Edinburgh’s cobbled streets.

Thank you so much, Malgosia! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)

P.S. All entries in the 5 Things travel series.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto

COMMENTS: 8

5Things_Toonto
In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen takes us on a tour of Toronto.

5 Things: Toronto
Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen

Though I’ve done my fair share of traveling to some pretty amazing places, I can’t imagine calling any city other than Toronto home. I was born and raised here, so I can attest to the fact that there is always something interesting going on—we’ve been blessed with a rich history, beautiful multi-culturalism, and all the bells and whistles to boot. Whether you’re looking for authentic Thai food (served in a coconut!) or the fanciest French restaurant you can imagine, we’ve got most every culinary base covered. And with a bustling art culture and world class shopping, you’re left with little to want. (I mean, a better transit system would be nice—#damnyouTTC—but you can’t always have it all.)

EAT:
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Me & Mine, 1144 College Street, (416) 535-5858
Kitten and the Bear, 1574 Queen Street W, (647) 926-9711
Buca, 604 King Street, (416) 865-1600
Nadège, 780 Queen Street W, (416) 368-2009
Bang Bang Ice Cream, 93 Ossington Avenue, (647) 348-1900
Bake Shoppe, 859 College Street, (416) 916-2253

My new favorite brunch in the city is Me & Mine. It’s slightly off the beaten path, but literally everything on the menu is drool-worthy. Also, Kitten and the Bear is the most adorable little shop in the West End, serving homemade scones and unique jams alongside steaming pots of tea. It’s teeny-tiny, with only two tables, so be sure to get there early!

Other favorites: Buca, a great spot on King Street West, where you’re sure to find fabulous Italian food (I dream about the tiramisu); Nadège, which makes the best almond croissant in the city; Bang Bang for ice cream sandwiches; and Bake Shoppe for classic, all-natural treats. You can’t go wrong!
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Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides

COMMENTS: 19

Guid to New York
NYC2

I’ve been working on something exciting that I’ve been looking forward to sharing! I get a lot of requests for itinerary advice and I’ve been trying to think of the best way to put it all together (I think I’ve been saying there’s a guide to New York City coming for at least 3 years). When I learned Pinterest had a map feature (you can geo-tag your pins), creating Pinterest-based travel guides seemed like the perfect way to make content (like Hither & Thither Travelogues, the 5 Things City Guides, and other posts) more usable on the go.

If you’re in New York near Washington Square Park, for example, you can bring up the New York board to see if there are any other pins nearby that might be relevant for your stay. Or if you’re planning a trip to Italy, you can see which hill towns we visited in Tuscany by zooming out on the map.

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Guide to Paris

I enlisted the help of Carly Haase (a fellow Davis grad!) to look back through the archives and get these boards launched. So far there are map guides to Paris, New York City, San Francisco and Italy (we decided to feature and city or a country on a case-by-case basis). And while they’re not exhaustive, they are personal—each one features locations that I have been to, usually with my family, and carefully curated suggestions. Each one is an ongoing project.

Follow along on Pinterest: There are going to be new travel guide boards coming out every few weeks, with new pins regularly added, so be sure and follow along on Pinterest to access the guides.
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Guide to Italy
Guide to SF
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Let me know what you think!

P.S. More old-school Itineraries, and how I use a map to plan for spontaneity.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

COMMENTS: 10

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Amanda Jane Jones shows us the sights in Chicago.

5 Things: Chicago Amanda Jane Jones

Graphic designer and art director Amanda Jane Jones lives in Chicago with her husband, Cree, and baby daughter, Jane. When she’s not working—she is one of the co-creators of Kinfolk Magazine and the designer of issues 1-13—Amanda can be found exploring the city she calls home, and documenting the details of her day-to-day on Instagram. She and her family love to explore Chicago’s restaurants and you can usually find them on a bike ride along Lake Michigan (weather permitting), or strolling around their sleepy neighborhood of Hyde Park. Today, she’s sharing some of her favorite places, spaces, and things to do…

EAT:

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Plein Air Cafe, 5751 South Woodlawn Avenue, (773) 966-7531

Big Star, 1531 North Damen Avenue, (773) 235-4039

Plein Air Cafe is right in our neighborhood and everything on the menu is delicious—we’ve tried it all! During the summers, we walk there for lunch every week. It’s one of our favorite Hyde Park haunts for sure. We also recommend Big Star, whose tacos we love so much, we’ll even drive through Friday night traffic to get them. The atmosphere there can be a bit loud, though, so we usually order takeout and eat it in the comfort of our home.

SHOP:

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Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 14

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This week has been very sunny and warm (a bit eerily so for January—sorry, New England), and still I find my mind wandering to tropical places. And news of thawing relations with and shifting rules for travel to Cuba have me reading up on the Caribbean island, specifically. I found myself seeking out some photographs by Jose Villa (best known for his wedding work)—these are from a few years ago, but you can see why they stuck with me.

Have any of you been to Cuba? Purely sun-and-sand vacations are still a no-go, but “purposeful” travel is now a possibility.

In the meantime, here are a few other items of note… 

Would you use a piddle pouch with your kid on the go? Could be handy!

I contributed a tip to Refinery 29 on getting upgraded on flights. (Though, sorry to say, upgrades are very rare these days.)
 
The New Yorker‘s funny response to those 36 questions one should ask to fall in love.

Aron loves Baklava. I just may have to try making this gorgeous Baklava-inspired cake one day.

Farewell, SkyMall. (Sorry, mom.)And welcome back, Keri Russel and The Americans! (And in great PR-timing: did you hear about the Russian spy ring in New York?)

Ikea is going to start offering vegan (meat)balls

Louis CK has a new standout album out, and he’s selling it directly.

The actual price of 17 famous TV-family homes.

And finally, we are firmly in 3-1/2-year-old territory (which I mean to write about in one of those Hudson updates one day soon), and this book series was recommended to me. (And, coincidentally, to a friend by a second source.) It’s wonderful—and I feel like understanding what’s developmentally appropriate is already helping me to be more… patient. I think I may need to order one for every year.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. More Caribbean Inspiration in the Travelogues. 

[All images by Jose Villa]
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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco

COMMENTS: 13

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol guides us through North Beach, San Francisco.

5 Things: North Beach, San Francisco
Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol

I love my North Beach neighborhood for its European feel and atmospheric patina. Like most older cities, it encourages aimless strolling and sight-seeing—tree-lined streets sport historic, human-scale buildings with ornate facades and vintage neon signage. Cafes and bars spill out onto the sidewalks fostering a vibrant street life. In the 50s, North Beach was a refuge for the finger-snapping generation of Beats and bohemians. Today, a new crop of eateries, cocktail bars, third-wave coffee shops, and hip boutiques keeps the village vibe humming.

EAT:
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Tosca Cafe, 242 Columbus Avenue, (415) 986-9651

It’s tough to single out a favorite restaurant in food-obsessed San Francisco, but Tosca makes it easier with great food, expert cocktails, and ambience for days. Romantic, century-old interiors glow with flickering amber-hued chandeliers, red votives, and a vintage jukebox warbling old jazz and opera 45s.

Start with a pitch-perfect Negroni or a Polo Cup cocktail, which is a bright fragrant mix of gin, elderflower, cucumber, mint and basil. For dinner, I always order a shareable meal of guanciale-spiked Bucatini (Bon Appétit likes it, too), a better-than-it-should-be vegetable side, and two “secret” off-menu items: spicy meatballs and a thick, salt-crusted slab of aromatic rosemary focaccia. After dinner, sip a famous House “Cappuccino” made with local Dandelion chocolate.

A kid-conscious note: Tosca welcomes children, but the vibe doesn’t exactly speak to crayons rolling off the table all night. Instead, treat your little ones to Tacolicious where a kids’ menu doubles as a cut-out food truck with tips on how to run your own successful truck (apparently, Twitter accounts and tattoos help). Or get in line at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, where kids shape raw dough, parents nurse craft beer, and everyone enjoys one of the better pizzas in the city.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

COMMENTS: 16

5Things_Portland ME
In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu take us on a tour of scenic Portland, Maine.

5 Things: Portland, Maine
Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu

There are so many things about Portland that drew us to this city six years ago. The ocean, the historic downtown, the people, the food (oh, the food!), and just the simpler pace of life in Maine’s largest city were enough to make us fall in love. (“Large,” of course, is a relative term—the population of Portland proper is only 66,000, a far cry from Boston just two hours south of us.) Still, there’s so much that this small town has to offer just about everyone, from natural beauty to tasty cuisine—and just about everything in between.

EAT:
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People plan entire vacations to Portland around their meals, and limiting our selections to just a handful is nearly impossible. But if you’re only here for a short time, here are some of our favorite stops:

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

COMMENTS: 20

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Anna Burns of Dear Friend shows us what’s not to be missed in Boston.

5 Things: Boston
Anna Burns of Dear Friend

It’s no secret that Boston is my favorite city. I moved here just after graduating college—almost 10 years ago to be exact—and I haven’t looked back since.

Just two hours from Portland, Maine, and even less to parts of the Cape and Rhode Island, you could easily find yourself enjoying a day trip to the beach in the summer or hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the fall.

The city of Boston is known for being the walking city—most areas are completely accessible by foot or by train, and if you’re in a pinch, there’s always an Uber around, too. We’ve got great history, the best seafood, and, without a doubt, charm and beauty at every corner (if you know where to look).

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Neptune Oyster, 63 Salem Street, (617) 742-3474

When in Boston, eating seafood is a must. And oysters? The best! Try Neptune Oyster on Salem Street in the North End for the coziest, most delicious dinner this side of the Charles River. With only a handful of tables and a bar that’s always packed, the wait for this place can certainly be significant—but it’s worth it! Put your name in, walk around Hanover Street, get yourself a cannoli (Modern Pastry is my personal favorite), or a drink at Bricco or Lucca. Then come back to Neptune when a seat opens up (they’ll call you on your cell to let you know). Once inside, enjoy the warm light and a glass of wine, then decide which dishes strike your fancy. I highly recommend the buttermilk johnnycake and the hot Maine lobster roll. Everything is just so good—you will absolutely love this place.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

COMMENTS: 15

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In the series “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Christa Martin of fashion and beauty blog The Penny Rose offers us a glimpse into the best of Santa Cruz, California.

5 Things: Santa Cruz
Christa Martin of The Penny Rose

Santa Cruz is one of a kind. A coastal paradise 80 miles south of San Francisco, it has small town charm, big city style, epic redwood forests, and sweeping ocean vistas. It’s also a surfing mecca, and a haven for artists and tech workers. And somewhere in between it all is a place I call home.

I grew up in Santa Cruz, left for college, and, like so many others, I inevitably returned. There’s something about this town—you just can’t leave it alone.

EAT:

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Bantam, 1010 Fair Avenue, (831) 420-0101

The motto here is, “don’t panic, it’s organic,” which really resonates with Santa Cruz residents — this is a health-minded town. It’s here at Bantam that you can indulge in pizza and not feel guilty about it. My favorite is the housemade sausage, tomato, cream, and calabrians pie for $18.

SHOP:
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Stripe, 107 Walnut Avenue, (831) 421-9252
Cameron Marks, 402 Ingalls Street, (831) 458-3080

Two of my favorite boutiques in Santa Cruz are Stripe and Cameron Marks. Owned by superb local businesswomen, these beautiful stores are remarkably curated.

Stripe, located in downtown Santa Cruz, offers a brilliant array of items: vintage furniture, household goodies, leather bags made by local artisans, and a stellar selection of timeless, classic clothing. Around the corner is Stripe Men, a store for all the stylish gents in town. Cameron Marks, located on the West Side, offers a wonderful selection of striking, fashion-forward clothing and accessories. (A second store is dedicated to housewares, while a third brick and mortar location houses a dazzling jewelry and ceramics collection.)

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The Adobe on Green Street Bed and Breakfast, 103 Green Street, (831) 469-9866

While there are scores of lodging options in Santa Cruz, this place is a gem. I should know: I stayed here on my wedding night. It’s just a few minutes walking distance from downtown, and is nestled in a quiet, hidden corner of a residential neighborhood.

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Pleasure Point, East Side

Sure, we have the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but be forewarned, that’s where all the tourists go. If you want to stick to the local beat, head to a different part of town—the East Side. Perks include a walking path; endless beaches; epic surfing destinations; sushi, pizza, and The Penny Ice Creamery; and even a hipster coffee shop, Verve.

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On your way to the beach, pick up a handmade leather tote by Corral Made at Stripe. A roomy bag made by local artisan Jose Hernandez will seamlessly take you from day to night. While you’re at it, toss in a S’well water bottle, Maguba clogs, a bottle of Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist Hair Spray (to extend that beachy hair look), and a Lee Coren scarf for when it gets chilly in the evening.

Thank you so much, Christa! When I was in college, many of my friends were from Santa Cruz and it was never lost on me how much they loved their hometown; it sounded like the perfect place to grow up—and to visit. 

Photos by Tommy Parker. Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her tremendous help with this series. 

P.S. Please add any of your own suggestions for Santa Cruz in the comments! Check here for all entries in the 5 Things series.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

COMMENTS: 15

5 thinkgs St. Luis

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Lauren Knight of CrumbBums shows us the sights in lovely St. Louis.

5 Things: St. Louis
Lauren Knight of CrumbBums

My name is Lauren Knight and I’m a freelance writer, blogger, vegetable gardener, and style enthusiast. I’ve lived in St. Louis with my husband and three little boys for just over four years. We were a bit apprehensive about moving back to the midwest after eight years of big-city life on the East Coast; luckily, we were pleasantly surprised! St. Louis has a lot going on—there’s a great music and performing arts scene as well as countless family-friendly activities.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone in St. Louis. For me, the appeal of a slower-paced lifestyle and affordable housing is a huge draw. Having space for a house full of rambunctious boys and the space to garden in our backyard is a luxury we would have struggled to afford on the coast—but not having to compromise on the arts scene is an added benefit! We often enjoy going to music venues all over the city on our date nights. Below, some recommendations for your next trip out.

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Winslow’s Home, 7213 Delmar Boulevard, (314) 725-7559

Winslow’s Home is very near and dear to our hearts. It’s within walking distance of our house and has quickly become our go-to breakfast place. I even met the person would become my very best friend there four years ago! But the proximity to our home (and to Washington University) is not the reason we keep going back. It’s the food and the community. Winslow’s Home is run by a lovely couple who also owns an organic farm just outside of St. Louis where they raise much of the produce (and eggs, and chickens) used in their restaurant. Try the brisket sandwich, which boasts slow-cooked grass-fed beef oozing with melted brie and horseradish mayo on a rye bun. Also, enjoy browsing the eclectic collection of home goods, toys, books, and gifts while you wait for your food—the atmosphere is polished general store: the perfect mix of vintage and modern.

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K Hall Designs, 8416 Manchester Road, (314) 963-3293

Walking into K Hall Designs is like taking a breath of fresh (and fragrant) air. Here, you’ll find candles, soaps, lotions, and cleaning products. But beyond that, you’ll find beautiful home products—wool blankets, serving pieces, pottery, soft knits, even jewelry. I always find the best holiday gifts here.

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STAY:

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AirBNB — St. Louis

Try areas that are highly walkable, such as the Central West End, which is known for its great restaurants, bars, and shops. Other good neighborhoods to explore are Soulard, (where you should check out the famous Soulard Farmer’s Market), or the Shaw neighborhood close to the Botanical Garden.

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City Museum, 750 North 16th Street, (314) 231-2489

If you do one thing in St. Louis, you must visit the City Museum. Every year for their birthdays, our boys request a trip here, and we are happy to oblige! Fit for both children and adults, this place is a work of art: full of beautiful architecture, tile work, and amazing 4-foot-wide slinkies leading from one level to the next. And the best part? Visitors are encouraged to touch, climb, and play on everything. Plan on staying all day — every nook and cranny of the multi-level museum begs to be explored. Check out the ferris wheel on the roof, and if you dare, climb aboard the bus that leans off the top of the building. I also recommend taking a break to watch Circus Harmony perform on the third floor. Just be sure to dress comfortably — pants and flat shoes are the way to go here.

Other wonderful child-friendly places to play around the city include the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Citygarden, where you can play (and cool off during the summer months in the sprayground and waterfall) within view of the Arch. You can also walk to the Arch from Citygarden for a picnic on a beautiful day.

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PACK:

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Comfortable walking shoes or boots, $370, and a backpack, $38, to stash your things so you can explore hands-free.

To really enjoy this city, you need to move those feet!

Thank you so much, Lauren! And thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series all year. It will be back after the holidays.

In the meantime, see the complete selection of cities featured in the 5 Things series.

P.S. You might recall, Lauren’s article for The Washington Post led the round-up of links in this Friday post a while back.

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Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For the (Traveling) Kiddo

COMMENTS: 91

kiddo

We’ve already seen lists of the Best Books, Best Toys, and Best Creative Gifts for preschoolers, so this one will be thematic: Gifts for the kids—and the parents of kids—who like to travel a lot… and a giveaway. (Keep reading.)

  1. Books are always the right thing. Any of these would be worthy choices: Maps (the most beautiful book of illustrated maps), Walk This World (peek under flaps on a stroll around the globe), one of the Larry Gets Lost titles (we love our San Francisco edition) or a classic This is… city book (This is the World is a compendium). For a board book, consider How Hippo says Hello.
  2. Lightweight, easily packable, and ideal for independent play. In other words, perfect for little travelers: Classic Paddle Ball Game
  3. Who wouldn’t love a Skootcase? For mini Gregory Pecks and Audrey Hepburns the world over. Freaking adorable. (Do they already have a suitcase of their own? These would make great stocking stuffers.)
  4. We keep a small globe in Hudson’s room. He likes to see how far away a place is before we go. This one’s also pretty enough for the parents of a new baby: “Best wishes on all your adventures as a family!”
  5. A vehicle and a power drill: Take-A-Part Airplane
  6. A charming and cheerful floor puzzle, fit for a globetrotter.
  7. These Planes slippers are sure to offend your aesthetic sensibility but kids love sliding around wearing their favorite characters. If you are looking for a less-familiar (i.e. branded) plane, try these.
  8. Little Passports subscription. (Be sure to check the shipping schedule if you want one to arrive before Hanukkah or Christmas.)
  9. This one’s more for the parents: OK to wake clock. Invaluable at home and in a new time-zone. Sure they’re awake but no one gets out of bed until the green light comes on. Throw in a Water Wow coloring book and everyone’s happy.
  10. I think I’ve snapped iPhone photos of this in stores at least three time. This VW Camper Van Tent is so cool!
  11. Whether they go by air, land, or sea, help them keep cuddly and comfy. This changes from a teddy bear to a neck pillow and back again. (Or we have one like this.)
  12. We love our Wanderlust City Playmat! Both Skyler and Hudson (who zooms around the roads) are fans.

And there’s good news! Ella Lou has offered to gift one of those beautiful playmats to a reader! And for everyone else they’re offering 15% off playmate with the code HITHER15OFF through December 12th. 

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Each one is designed and printed in San Francisco, CA, using non-toxic, water-based inks and a blend of heavy-weight organic cotton & hemp canvas. Choose your preferred city (SF, LA, or NY) and leave it in a comment before Friday, December 5, 11:59pm PST, to be entered in the giveaway. Sorry, US residents only. Note that the last day orders can ship to arrive in time for Christmas is December 20th. (Express orders will ship as late as the 22nd.) See them here. Good luck!

P.S. Last year’s Gift Guide for Kids. And the year’s before that. See all gift guides here.

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