Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break Road Trip (Part 2)

About 10 minutes away from the Homestead, right across from the Jefferson Pools, in the town of Warm Springs, is the nice Milk House Market that carries lots of Virginia products (above), and makes nice sandwiches.

Our next stop was Staunton, VA, a cute little town with some good antiquing, a great chocolate shop, a nice health food store that served food as well, and a camera museum. Worth pulling off the highway for, for sure.
Delicious chocolates from Cocoa Mill, above, and the Camera Heritage Museum, below. 

In the health food store, we noticed they carried Polyface products, which is a renowned "beyond organic" farm, that we wished we had known we were driving past. It is in Swoope, in the Shenandoah Valley. After our hour in Staunton, we hightailed it for Richmond, and checked in to the amazing Jefferson Hotel.
It's very grand, and the rooms are nice and comfy with great beds and huge tubs. It has an indoor pool, and a great gym. And they gave a sweet welcome basket to Clara--that had a stuffed version of their mascot, an alligator, which harks back to the days when they actually had real alligators in their fountain.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Break Road Trip (Part 1)

Last year we had to wait until the last minute to book our spring break--my husband was waiting on some scheduling news, and we didn't want to commit to flights or hotels--so we figured that once we knew our plans, we would make a driving trip with whatever time we had. The only thing we had to do was end up on Easter Sunday in Talbot County, Maryland, as that was where my husband's first show Alternate Route was being filmed. So with that in mind, and 8 free days before that, we created an itinerary that is a pretty awesome road trip, if I do say so myself. While I will give each stop a post a day, here's the rough idea (in case you find yourself in a similar situation this spring break)-NYC to the Homestead Resort in Virginia, to Richmond, to Colonial Williamsburg, to Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, to Talbot County in Maryland, and then DC, to home.

Somewhere deep in Pennsylvania (near Carlisle) we spotted this military museum, the US Army Heritage and Education Center, and took the exit. It was a great place to run around--it has a huge outdoor museum, reinforce some history lessons, and as you can see, it's right on the highway.

We rolled in to the Homestead at around 7:30pm. What a lovely drive it was though--the Shenandoah Mountains are so pretty--and once we got to the hotel, we forgot about the long drive pretty much immediately.

We had dinner at Sam Snead's Tavern, which is not exactly on property, but in the little village of Hot Springs, just a 5 minute walk from the Homestead. They had a great charcuterie plate--we went crazy for their local pickles. The tavern has great character--lots of old school golf paraphenalia everywhere, a roaring fire, and hearty classics.

Friday, August 9, 2013

California Week: Up the Coast

From Cayucos we took Highway 1 north, planning our next stop to check out the elephant seals. If we'd had time, we would definitely have stopped at Hearst Castle, but we had to make it to Half Moon Bay (an ambitious drive to say the least--it's just 30 miles south of SF) by dark. The elephant seals are easy to spot--there is signage telling you where they are. Sometimes they aren't around, but they were this time. They are amazing to watch, even if just for 5 minutes.

Next stop was the Big Sur Bakery. We didn't make it in time for lunch, but the cappuccino was fantastic.They also sell local jams and marmalades from Happy Girl, which are so good, and worth bringing home.

My favorite beach ever is the China Cove Beach (below) which is within Point Lobos State Preserve. I grew up going there, and its emerald water and white sand are breathtaking. Bonus, there's hardly ever anyone there. No, it isn't the kind of beach you swim at--it's freezing--but it's great to bring a picnic to. It's about a 10 minute drive to its parking lot off of Highway 1, and then a 10 minute walk to the beach.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

California Week: More Central Coast

When one of my colleagues heard we were driving up the coast, he pretty much insisted that we check out the Cass House Inn. It's in the sleepy beach town of Cayucos, which is just about 5 miles north of Morro Bay. It's just over the hill from Paso Robles and all the wineries of the central coast.

The property is beautiful, a block off of the beach, with gorgeous gardens (lots of weddings happen on weekends). The house rooms are suitable for couples, but since we were three, they put us in the beach cottage, which was fantastic. It had a proper bedroom, living room (with the most comfortable pull-out couch our daughter has slept on), kitchen (with everything you need and more--from s&p to olive oil--even cupcake accessories should you feel so inspired), washer and dryer. Great California beauty products in the bathroom, cookies for us from a local cookie shop...super thoughtful details.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

California Week: Paso Robles

Paso Robles is inland from Cayucos about 35-40 minutes, through some of the prettiest landscape ever...windy roads through golden hills, dense cypress trees, vineyards...Before we got to the actual town of Paso Robles, we met up with our friend Joeli who owns the General Store in Paso (they abbreviate it), who wanted us to meet her friends Alex and Monica who own the Villicana Winery and Re:Find Distillery. They started making wines in this area back when there were only 17 vineyards, and now there are over 300 (and that's just in the last 15 years). Their wines are amazing, as are the vodka and gin they are producing. They are the nicest people, so if you're driving up or down the 101, it is worth making a quick detour to come to their tasting room.


While we were super pressed for time in Paso Robles, we do know the one place you have to go, the General Store. Besides it having the best edit of everything from cookbooks to food to kitchen pantry items to beauty products, it's just a community hub. Joeli and her partners that own it are not just the nicest people, they are also the most enthusiastic. I told her she should go into real estate, and then also be in job placement, because she certainly made me want to move there. Since we didn't have the time to do anything but stop in her store, and the neighboring store called Firefly that is run by a mother and daughter, my only suggestion for this area is that you 1. need to stop here--it's 5 minutes off the highway 101, and 2. ask Joeli where to eat, where to stay, what to do.  If you're in a hurry like we were, you can call ahead and have them prep a picnic for you, which you can just bring along on the road. It's certainly going to have some local products that are made with love, by some great artisan with a fantastic back story--that I can guarantee.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

California Week: Central Coast Exploring

After a morning in Santa Barbara we headed north, on our way to Cayucos, but as we drove past Los Olivos, which is literally on Highway 154, we figured we could make a quick detour. It's such a sweet little town, filled with tasting rooms, restaurants, and cute shops. We walked into the Fess Parker Inn, which looked really nice, if you wanted to make a night of it. And our friend Jeff Cerciello of Farm Shop in LA and Marin told us the food is really good at their restaurant. I don't think this is a place I'd come with kids necessarily, but it's good to keep in mind for an adult getaway.

From Los Olivos we kept on 154 which turns into 101 and is the prettiest stretch of rolling golden hills, cows, and vineyards. When I saw the exit for the Madonna Inn, I had to take it, since I was the only one in the family who had ever been there. It's such a trip--you have to stop if you're going past it. Even if just to use the bathroom and walk through the restaurant and public spaces.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

California Week: Santa Barbara Area

After our quick trip in LA, we headed up the coast to visit our dear friends who live in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara. On our way, we took a quick detour over to Ojai. I'd never been, and wanted specifically to see The Farmer and the Cook, which I'd heard about for years. It's very much a healthy, organic (my husband says "hippie") spot, that has a great salad bar, and vegan options. We all love the salad dressing that they make—you can buy bottles of them.

Our friends brought us to this new coffee shop, the Handlebar Coffee Roaster. They make a nice iced coffee, and just across the street from it (and next door) is the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Park. Although I didn't take pictures this time, our first stop whenever we go to Santa Barbara, is Rose Cafe, and we always get their Huevos Rancheros.