5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

COMMENTS: 15

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to 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:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

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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Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

COMMENTS: 42

travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

Funny thing. I wished Hither & Thither a happy sixth birthday last year, but I got ahead of myself somehow—a few years back, in fact! Someone finally corrected me. This year marks six years. The first post was a picture-less entry written by Aron, on January 19, 2009.

What I didn’t get wrong is that every year on here is worth celebrating. And it never ceases to surprise me—even as its demands ebb and flow—how much of a role Hither & Thither plays in my life now. I’m so grateful for all of the readers whom it engages—those who have come along since the start (when Aron and I were writing it together in New York) and those who just recently started reading. For me, it’s so rewarding to have such a supportive space in which to grow as a writer and a photographer, and to build a career of my own vision. But of course it’s often the conversations, the friendships made, the back & forth, that’s best of all.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. With a trademark lack of brevity, I’ve compiled a look back at this year’s highlights. I so enjoyed looking back through some of my favorite posts again; I hope you will enjoy this, too:

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5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

COMMENTS: 5

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

My husband Aron was given a ride in a glider—a motor-less flight—out of Williams, California, for his birthday… two years ago. He finally went up last fall, and I asked him if he’d write about it. 

As a child driving to San Francisco, I would often see gliders along the way and imagined someday that I would fly in one—listening only to the sound of the wind as I flew over the ground. But when I was given a ride as a birthday gift, I was nervous. I have a family, we were about to have a baby, and there’s no thrill in unnecessary risk right now. But I did some research, and learned that soaring is regarded as being just as safe as most other adventure sports; I shouldn’t let anxiety guide me. With my right brain doing the talking, I booked a date and, having done so, felt surprisingly more relaxed.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

I was committed and that was probably a good thing: it was a little bit crazy to see the gliders along the “runway” at the glide center. They look so unsubstantial. More so when you see that the glider is simply towed behind a propeller plane via an ordinary looking rope attached to hook, before its release a few thousand feet in the air. I expected something more high-tech: a steel cable wrapped in a bionic coating or something.  I couldn’t decide if it was refreshingly simple, or nerve-wrackingly so. I tried not to think about it too much, and before I knew it our glider was lifting off the ground. In an instant, my nerves were calmed.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

The next thrill happened when we released the the rope at 5000 feet. The plane banked left, we banked right, and were on our own. It turns out that “nothing but the sound of wind” is actually quite loud; but it was amazing to bank and turn in such a small plane. After slowly banking left and right, I told the pilot that I was ready for some more aggressive maneuvers. My favorites were stalling after a climb and then entering a steep dive—steep enough that I floated up off my seat, as did all of the dirt on the floor, and my camera on my lap. It reminded me of those free falls you do on drop rollercoasters, only the pulling up lasted much longer!

At around 2000 feet, we tried to come close to a vulture—but he buzzed off. Apparently eagles and hawks—having no natural predators, will let you get quite close, and sometimes will even try to attack the glider for coming into their air space!

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

It was an amazing thing to get to do, and I would happily do it again. But it also felt pretty great returning to my family who were waiting on the ground.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

They had been burning rice fields nearby on the day Aron went up, so visibility was less than it can be, but the folks at Williams Soaring Center said that on clear days you can see Mount Shasta in the distance. Has anyone else been up in a glider? My stomach did a little flip just driving up, but I can imagine some amazing landscapes one could enjoy from this perspective. Thank you, Aron! 

P.S. My own (mild) phobia

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

COMMENTS: 18

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

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).

EAT:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

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

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

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:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

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:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

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.)

STAY:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

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.

PLAY:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz
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.

PACK:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

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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A long walk “in the way of beauty”

COMMENTS: 37

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

 Wild, the film based on the book of the same name, opens in Davis tomorrow and I’ve been speeding through the audiobook (we’re reading it for book club this month) so that I can go see it. Reese Witherspoon plays the author, Cheryl Strayed, and the film follows her character on her over-1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail—a through-trail that crosses all kinds of terrain and elevations—as well as in the flashbacks of her life that led her to the trail. The New York Times gave it a rave review; and the screenplay is by writer Nick Hornby (whose last foray into film, An Education, was wonderful and whose About a Boy was a favorite).

Strayed set out on the trail with no experience—which I think is what makes her story particularly interesting. I don’t think I’ll ever do what she did, but I’m curious how I’d fare. “Go above your nerve,” she quotes Emily Dickenson. I wonder: how’s my nerve?

Here are some other things I’m curious about: What would I miss most from my “real” life? (Besides people—having two small children at home sort of puts a walk like this out of question for me, so let’s put that aside.) What do I really need? What would I ask for first-thing off the trail? (She requests a Snapple which, for the record, would doubtful be it.) What habits would it break me of? Would I come to miss Instagram and social media? Or would I realize how much better off I’d be without it? And would all the oils in my hair eventually make it look less-oily as some have promised? Is shampoo actually messing with our scalps? Important stuff.

Here’s the truth: I don’t feel a need to test my nerve right now, but there’s an appeal to this sort of journey—clearly, for so many people—where one has to be alone with herself for a set time, where one has to accomplish a goal. And where one puts herself, as Strayed says in the film, “in the way of beauty.”

But I’m not yearning to carry my bed and a camp stove to put myself there, so I’ve been doing some research on an alternative. Essentially the idea would be to go on a very long walk (sometimes quite strenuous) with days of quiet and beauty broken up by nights at guesthouses, by warm meals of local food and wine, and by picnics packed along the way. Hiking inn to inn with no giant pack, no “Monster” on your back.

Here are a few such itineraries that I’m setting aside for a future date…

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

A walk across Ireland (Dublin to Dingle), 387 miles
Walk from the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Wicklow mountains and the Dingle Peninsula with stops at monasteries and pubs along the way. I’ve been yearning to go back to Ireland since our June visit, a few years back. What a gorgeous place! I imagine ending each day, legs a bit tired with a slight chill, at a pub with fish and chips, strong stouts, and some good tunes. These sorts of treks have a longer tradition in Europe, so there are lots of resources, in books and online, as well as organized outfitters for this one. (Photos from our trip to Ireland)

Beside the Pacific in California (Mexico to Malibu or around Northern California), up to 200 miles
Cozy beds, ocean views, and dynamic landscapes: Tom Courtney maintains a forum (this entry is particularly inspiring) and has published books on the subject of hiking inn to inn in California, with itineraries that anticipate a pace average of 2 miles per hour. One of his routes, around Mt. Tam, even includes a visit to a meditation center. (Top photo from our drive along the coast)

Coast to Coast in England (St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay), 190 miles
One of the most famous inn-to-inn walks follows a path marked by Alfred Wainwright—a former accountant who took to walking across Britain and wrote a series of guidebooks with details maps of bogs and barns and lakes and whatnot. The Coast to Coast walk starts in northwest England on the Irish seacoast, crosses through three national parks and plenty of misty (or dreary) Austen-evocative landscapes to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. It seems most travelers take about two weeks to complete the walk, stopping at guesthouses and pubs along the way. The route is well-serviced, so one could even employ help for shuttling bags, and a description was published in The Smithsonian Magazine. There is also an amazingly useful National Trails site that the government maintains for planning any number of walking trips through England and Wales.

Following pilgrims in Spain (Camino de Santiago), up to 500 miles
Though the Camino was originally made by those on a religious pilgrimage, plenty of people come to walk its 500 miles for any number of reasons. And there are actually various approaches to Santiago de Compostela, the most famous being the “French way,” from St. Jean, France, to Santiago and dates back to the the 12th century. The Guardian published a helpful piece a while back that links to a variety of resources for those wishing to complete even just a portion of the trail, including companies that will arrange lodging throughout or recommendations that are either “pilgrim” or “posh.”

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

In the footsteps of Romans (Via Claudia Augusta), 435 miles
Emperor Claudius established the Via Claudia Augusta as the first real road through the Alps to connect Altinum (a port on the Adriatic sea) with the Danube in 15 BC; it was completed in 47 AD. Today the route is primarily known as a popular cycling route, spanning three nations. Those hoping to move along the road can set up maps, arrange shuttles through alpine passes, and seek lodging (there are more than 200 guesthouses along the way) here. (Photo from a trip to Rome.)

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

Walk among the wines (Provence, Tuscany, or any number of places where the terroir is good)
It was the idea of walking from vineyard to vineyard, between monasteries and Michelin-starred restaurants in Provence that actually first got me on this subject. There are plenty of such itineraries out there, though perhaps slightly less historic by nature. There are actually books about this that are called Walking and Eating. Let’s be clear about priorities, shall we? (Photo from our recent visit to Tuscany)

I’ve also heard good things about alpine routes in Switzerland, walking ways in Scotland, the Via Francigena in Italy, and—on a smaller scale—the Cinque Terre routes in Italy (we did route #2 in a single day, but you could take your time). Any other well-served routes outside of Europe you’re aware of? Until I can make my own way, I think I’ll live through Cheryl Strayed (and Reese Witherspoon) vicariously.

travel  A long walk in the way of beauty

Have you done something like this? Are you curious? If so, what most about? Which walk or through-trail most appeals to you?

This discussion is sponsored by Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Hither & Thither. #WILDmovie is in select theaters now. (Check this list to find out when it comes to your city.)

[Photos from Wild (second, bottom) courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures; All others my own, borrowed from travelogues: Ireland, Rome (more recent travelogue here), Tuscany, & California]

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

COMMENTS: 15

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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.

EAT:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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.

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

SHOP:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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.

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

STAY:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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.

PLAY:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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.

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

PACK:

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to St. Louis

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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Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

COMMENTS: 6

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity
travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

Aron and I sat down at the end of November and drafted a list of all of the things we wanted to do throughout the month of December—tree lightings, holiday fairs, skating rinks and the like—and then jotted them down and slipped ‘em into an advent calendar, trying to balance cozy nights at home with hot cocoa and the Grinch with drives into Sacramento or San Francisco. Enjoying some holiday movies are definitely a part of the plan this year, so I’d love to avoid defaulting to screen-time in the car and still keep Hudson entertained with something seasonal.

We have been coming up with lots of activities for car rides lately—homemade audio books, window clings (I’m going to use this tutorial again for Christmas) and colorful snack boxes, for example. Here’s another simple activity to make and keep handy for car rides, whether en route to see Santa Claus or Grandma Mary: a felt activity board with a winter scene, that can be used over and over. Friction is the magic that holds the shapes on display. 

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

I had some extra felt left over from Skyler’s halloween costume, and thought baby blue and white would be perfect for a backdrop. (You can find felt at any JoAnn’s or Michael’s.)

With a hot glue gun, the felt can be layered on any piece of cardboard, but I chose to use the lid of a thin box so that all of the decorative pieces could be stored inside. The pieces themselves remain unattached, to be moved around freely.

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

As for the scenes themselves? You can easily cut them out yourself: Three white circles and you have a snowman! A green triangle and some small colored scraps and it’s a tree to decorate!

While I have an interest in crafting, I so rarely have the time! So I took a shortcut: craft stores tend to carry pre-cut felt shapes (especially around the holidays, for making ornaments), and there are Etsy vendors who sell seasonal felt packages, too. If you’re not up to the task, or your child isn’t old enough to wield a pair of scissors, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing precut shapes for felt or flannel boardstravel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity . Trust me—they’ll enjoy it just the same.

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

A few notes: The box-lid background probably took me ten minutes to assemble, and Hudson played with it in the car for at least fifteen minutes each way. I found that, for his age, it was best to have larger pieces (in other words, consider drawing eyes on the felt rather than messing with tiny black dots), to make it easy to find everything by himself. That way we could talk about the scene without my needing to reach into the backseat to help. (He is obsessed—a little scared, a little thrilled—with the “bad snowman” in Frozen right now and wanted to know if this guy was funny or bad. I told him it was “Frosty.”) And that’s the goal.

How do you keep the little ones engaged throughout all the car rides required during the holidays? All tips welcome! 

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity
travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity
travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

travel family  Holiday Car Rides: Winter Felt Board Activity

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive this holiday season.

P.S. Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers. 

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National Parks for a Destination Wish List

COMMENTS: 32

travel  National Parks for a Destination Wish List

travel  National Parks for a Destination Wish List

travel  National Parks for a Destination Wish List

While we’re on the subject of gift guides, you must know that my very favorite gift involves experiences—traveling, usually. But Aron and I were talking the other night about how 2015 should perhaps be the year of domestic travel. I’m not ruling out a trip to Asia, should the opportunity arise, but there are so many beautiful places in the U.S. I’ve yet to see. I’d start with some of the 59 National Parks (eight of which happen to be in California!).

The folks at Expedia Viewfinder recently asked me about our plans for the year, so I partnered with them to share some of the amazing National Parks I’ve been to (and hope to return to)—and that you might consider visiting with your family in 2015. And I’ve listed the five I’d most like to see next.

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Scenes from Wailea (South Maui)

COMMENTS: 12

travel  Scenes from Wailea (South Maui)
travel  Scenes from Wailea (South Maui)
travel  Scenes from Wailea (South Maui)
travel  Scenes from Wailea (South Maui)

Just before Halloween, Hudson, Skyler, and I tagged along with Aron to a work conference in Maui. It was held at the Grand Wailea—an enormous, beautiful resort that sits on a fairly newly developed stretch of coast, South of Kihei.

With Aron working part of the time, and having visited Maui fairly recently, we gave ourselves permission to stick close to the resort and take it easy.

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Five Ways Cheerios Can Help on a Long Flight

COMMENTS: 9

travel family  Five Ways Cheerios Can Help on a Long Flight
travel family  Five Ways Cheerios Can Help on a Long Flight
travel family  Five Ways Cheerios Can Help on a Long Flight

Sometimes I can’t get over how much stuff we pack to entertain the kids on trips. It’s as if we’re going into an emergency bunker rather than boarding a flight.

It’s easy to forget how the simplest things are often best when it comes to entertaining young ones—and I’d been feeling like we needed some new (space-efficient) ways to get through a flight.

Enter Cheerios. We always pack Cheerios.

Here are five ways to use what you surely already have in your kids’ snack cups to get through a long flight this holiday season.

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Paris with Kids

COMMENTS: 5

travel family  Paris with Kids
travel family  Paris with Kids
travel family  Paris with Kids travel family  Paris with Kids

I just learned that Yolanda Edwards (Co-founder of Momfilter and Creative Director at Condé Nast Traveler) collaborated with the mapmakers at Herb Lester on their Paris En Famille guide to Paris.

travel family  Paris with Kids

Having a marked up map like this is one of my favorite ways to sightsee, actually: freeing you to wander, and discover things serendipitously, while assuring that you still have a way to connect the “Must-See” dots.

I usually make one of my own.

travel family  Paris with Kids
travel family  Paris with Kids
travel family  Paris with Kids
travel family  Paris with Kids

Just another reason to return to Paris.

P.S. Photos from our trip to Paris with Hudson last spring, when he was two. See more, here:
Paris Travelogue, Part 1 & Paris Travelogue, Part 2.

Also: A 5 Things Guide to Paris; the truth about high chairs in Paris; and our Paris apartment rental.

travel family  Paris with Kids

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Los Angeles

COMMENTS: 8

 travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Los Angeles

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, Kate Miss of For Me, For You takes us on a tour of her LA.

5 Things: Los Angeles (East edition)
Kate Miss of For Me, For You

My name is Kate Miss and I’m a graphic designer and jewelry designer. I live with my husband and our dog and cat in a little neighborhood in Los Angeles called Hermon—a tiny pocket surrounded by Highland Park, South Pasadena, and Montecito Heights. We’ve lived in Los Angeles almost four years now and so far, this side of town is my favorite. What I love most about it is how close we are to nature—hikes, the beach, and short drives is all it takes to get us away from it all.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Detroit

COMMENTS: 21

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Detroit
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Detroit

In “5 Things,” I 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, Nicole Dula of Dula Notes shares insider tips on Detroit, Michigan.

5 Things: Detroit
Nicole Dula of Dula Notes

It’s hard to put into words what exactly makes Detroit so special, but when you’re there, you just feel it. The sense of community, entrepreneurship, grittiness, hard work, and overall positivity has me visiting as often as I can. Its checkered past has inspired its citizens to take action and start to develop a different story for the city—urban farms, great restaurants, charming shops and creative businesses are popping up seemingly everywhere these days. If you’ve never been or have been away longer than a year or two, it’s time for a visit!

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

COMMENTS: 13

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

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, designer Emma Robertson offers us a glimpse into the best of Oakland.

5 Things: Oakland
Emma Robertson

My name is Emma Robertson and I’m a Bay Area graphic designer and art director. I’ve lived in the East Bay for about two-and-a-half years now—I started out in Berkeley, and have now landed in Oakland. My fiancé is currently getting his PhD from Berkeley, with about a year left, and we aren’t sure if we’ll stay in the area or move away once he’s done— so I’m currently in a state of trying to do anything and everything I can while I’m here!

This place is truly one-of-a-kind. The weather is magical—constantly providing a fresh, cool environment to run around in. I’m also incredibly inspired by the vegetation—not just in the bay, but in California, in general. Between the natural beauty, the hustle and bustle of being in a big city, and all the cool cats that reside here, I’m incredibly satisfied!

EAT:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Cholita Linda, 4923 Telegraph Avenue, (510) 594-7610
Souley Vegan, 301 Broadway, (510) 922-1615

Cholita Linda is my absolute favorite spot for lunch or dinner. It’s within walking distance of my apartment and is surrounded by lots of fun shops. No matter what time of day, this area is always high energy and lots of fun. (Also, if you’re a fan of fish tacos, go right now!) Another spot that really stands out to me is Souley Vegan, a small spot in Jack London Square that serves a vegan take on Louisiana-style soul food. Mmmmm! It’s close to the water, so you can get it to go and enjoy a great view of the bay.

SHOP:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Temescal Alley, 49th Street between Telegraph Avenue and Clarke Street

If you’ve read any articles about Oakland this year, you’ve most likely heard about Temescal Alley. It’s a one-stop shop for basically anything you could want during an afternoon of shopping—ice cream, coffee, vintage clothing, a hair cut, plants, jewelry, herbs, anything! A few other great spots that are outside of the Alley are: Oakland Surf Club, Issues, Hawthorn Boutique, Umami Mart, and Lost & Found.

STAY:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Airbnb—Oakland

Since our apartment is tiny (and our guest room is now my office) we aren’t able to easily host friends and family when they come to visit—so usually, I recommend renting an Airbnb space up in the hills. Everything is quieter and more lush up there, and the roads are small and windy and create this amazing viewing experience as you make your way up to the top. Each turn provides a new and different view of the bay—it’s magical. There are lots more animals and vegetation up there, too—it’s got a woodsy peaceful vibe.

PLAY:

Lake Merritt, 568 Bellevue Avenue

My fiancé and I are big bike riders, so we love exploring the bay on two wheels. We recently rode the bike route on the new Bay Bridge, which has a designated path where you can walk or ride. There are benches and look-out spots that allow you take breaks and enjoy the view. I’ve lived in a lot of cities over the past few years, and none of them are as bike-friendly as Oakland or Berkeley! Also, Lake Merritt is a wonderful spot for a picnic, a walk, or a public nap if you need a break. There’s a walking path around it that draws people to the area so it’s always very busy and full of energy—plus, there are lights strung around the entire lake, so it gets very moody and romantic around sun-down.

PACK:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Big Baggu, $12

Definitely bring layers! BUT. I’m happy to share that the East Bay is always 5-10 degrees warmer and sunnier than San Francisco. Also, I never go anywhere without my Big Baggu—a lot of spots in Berkeley and Oakland require you to pay for bags when you’re shopping, so it’s nice to have one packed down in my purse. It comes in handy when I run quick errands or make an unexpected shopping stop!

Also, if you want to invest in a great resource, check out This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places. It mentions everything above and MORE.

Thank you so much, Emma! Best wishes for your upcoming wedding—which I believe is right around the corner! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.) Photos by Ashley Batz for Emmadime.

P.S. More 5 Things Travel guides. And one weekend in Oakland.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to San Diego

COMMENTS: 11

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to San Diego
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 Jamie Street shows us around sunny San Diego.

5 Things: San Diego
Jamie Street

I moved to San Diego when I was fresh out of high school. I only stayed for six months, but I knew I’d be back—and since returning, something about the temperature, the people, and pace of life in San Diego has kept me planted for over a decade.

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Carry-on or Check-it?

COMMENTS: 34

travel  Carry on or Check it?

When you fly, do you like to check your luggage or carry it on?

This isn’t usually a choice I have—with small children along (i.e. two little people who seem to need an awful lot of stuff but who don’t carry their weight)—so it seemed like such a luxury to fly carry-on when I took a quick trip to New York for My Austrian Evening last month. It seems like the preference of most less-encumbered travelers: no baggage fees, no risk of missing bags, a quick exit when one gets to skip the carousel… etc. But Aron loves to check our bags, and I get why. The upshot is walking through the airport with only a jacket and a tote (with true essentials—like a bathing suit for a beach trip), and boarding at the very last minute because ‘who cares about overhead space’? It’s really freeing.

I was surprised to read here that Anthony Bourdain prefers to check. “I do not want to be one of those annoying people who can’t fit their carry-on into the overhead. …[But] I’m prepared for things to go wrong because they do go wrong all of the time.”

However, I loved rolling through the airport with nothing but a carry-on this time. (It was a bit dangerous to go to a city with such great shopping and no kids—but, thankfully, Madewell actually shipped home the sweaters I bought at no charge).

What’s your preference? 

P.S. My Carry-on essentials and What to Pack for a toddler.

Pictured: Henley and Coat from Anthropologie; Shoes (past season, similar) and Denim from Madewell
Lipault Foldable Packing Case (courtesty of Lipault): Lipault had offered that I try one of their featherweight foldables (that slides even under our very, very low bed once collapsed)—verdict: very nice!

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

COMMENTS: 19

  travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris     
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, Nichole Robertson of Obvious State Studio—and author of the beautiful books, Paris in Color and Paris in Love, and The Paris Journal series—guides us through her favorite city, one outside of the country.

5 Things: Paris
Nichole Robertson of Obvious State Studio

Though I live and work in the New York metro area, my husband and I have a studio apartment in Paris. We spend about eight weeks per year there depending on the projects we’re working on.

Paris is my zen. I don’t go to shop, sightsee, or hit the current hot spots—I go to slow down, wander, and think. (I also go for the butter—a large slab of salted French butter and a hot, crispy baguette would be my last meal!)

EAT:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, 47 Ter Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France, +33 1 43 54 50 93

Laurent Dubois is where I pick up my beloved salted Bordier butter and favorite young goat cheese. I can get wonderful aged cheese in the states, so I focus on the freshest varieties when I’m in Paris. The shop is stunning, and the cheese is presented in a way that reminds me of a museum.

SHOP:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

Citypharma Du Four Bonaparte, 26 Rue du Four, 75006 Paris, France, +33 1 46 33 20 81

This place has a cult following for a reason, and pharmacies are the exception to my no-shopping modus operandi. A few of my staples:

Avibon. Avibone is an inexpensive Vitamin A cream similar to Retin A, but doesn’t require a prescription (read: cheap). It’s currently off the market for reformulation, so I’ve switched to A313 cream, which is similar.

Biafine. Though this is formulated for burn and chemical peel recovery, I use this as a regenerative night cream (the secret is out!). It’s extremely healing, and I’ve been shocked by how fast a blemish scar recovers with just a dot of Biafine.

Bioderma. The best makeup and debris remover ever. Though it’s colorless and odorless like water, it clears pores like magic. It’s very easy to spot as there are large displays of this and other micellaire waters at the front of most pharmacies.

Embryolisse CC Cream. I am obsessed with this and make sure I never run out. It’s light coverage, and leaves your skin perfected and dewy. (It’s worth noting here that I worked as a copywriter in the beauty industry for 15 years, and I am dubious when it comes to claims of “perfect skin” and “flawless finish.” But this stuff delivers.) The closest thing I’ve found in the states is Clinique’s Moisture Surge CC cream.

STAY:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

We’ve always rented apartments and I recommend rentals over hotels. I love being able to stock the refrigerator with essentials like butter, eggs and yogurt, and do laundry so I can pack light. Erica Berman’s Haven in Paris and Gail Boisclair’s Perfectly Paris are my go-to rental agencies.

PLAY:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

Luxembourg Gardens, 6e Arrondissement, 75006 Paris, France, +33 1 42 34 23 62

When we travel with our boys, the Luxembourg Gardens are always at the top of their list (boats and ice cream!). And though it’s incredibly kid-friendly, it’s still a peaceful spot to rest, dream, or in my case, scheme—many of our studio’s projects are a result of wine-fueled conversations in this park.

PACK:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Paris

Next to nothing! For a week in Paris, I pack one pair of boots, two pairs of jeans, two or three sweaters, and some basic tees. I do laundry every other night. I walk so much and rarely need to be dressed up for dinner, so I let comfort dictate my wardrobe—besides, I need plenty of room in my carry-on for butter and French pharmacy finds!

Thank you so much, Nichole! One of your photographs of Paris hangs in my office. I fear I’m going to crave a hot baguette with salted French butter every time I sit down to work. (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series!)

P.S. Our Paris travelogues and the apartment we rented from Haven in Paris (one of Nichole’s recommendations). 

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