Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tribeca Safe Haven

If you're at the new (and very nice) playground/park area on the West Side Highway, in Tribeca, and you're completely overstimulated and annoyed and hot and bothered, just a couple of blocks away, a 5 minute walk, is one of the nicest cafes I've been to in forever. Kaffe 1668. It's dark, it's cool (as in temperature, and in vibe), and the people who work there are friendly. They serve nice coffee, and good food, and they have wine in the evenings. Check it out.

And the park is actually great--there's miniature golf, a great playground, and even volleyball. It's just super crowded on a weekend, so it's good to have an escape to a place that couldn't feel more different.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Alisal is Awesome

Over spring break we spent a couple of nights at Alisal, which is a family-owned ranch about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara, that's been around since 1946. The drive over the Santa Ynez Mountains, and then past Lake Cachuma, was breathtakingly beautiful. 

We loved our stay there--the rooms are sweet (working fireplaces, Pendleton blankets), there's something for everyone (hiking, horses, tennis, golf, swimming, proximity to vineyards, spa), and kids can be more independent than in most places (no cars in main area, and the property is so secluded and safe). Our friends who live in Santa Barbara go there several times a year they love it so much...and all the families we met there said they go at least once a year. It's the kind of place where your kid meets so many kids and just becomes a part of a pack. And for parents of an only child, that's pretty much the best thing ever.

One of the things we ended up liking the most is how caught in time it is--no tv in the room, no phones in the room. When you needed to make an appointment (for an archery class, or a horseback ride), you had to walk to an office to do it. We read books after dinner, and making a fire was an event.

One afternoon we did a drive down to Solvang, the Danish town which is about 5 minutes down the road from the Alisal. We loved the Hans Christian Anderson Museum within the bookstore The Book Loft, where we found some great used cookbooks and kids books. And Clara got a treat that was so delicious called a French Waffle.

Next time we go we'll make sure to build in time to go to the wineries in the area. We did hit the Hitching Post (remember it from the movie Sideways!) and had an epic steak.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Italian Inspiration

One of my favorite travel experts is Alastair Sawday—he's based in the UK, and I read his books and articles whenever I'm travelling to Europe. I'm looking into going to Italy at the end of the summer, and came upon this article he wrote, where he features 15 of his top family-friendly places to stay in Italy. Even if that's not happening for you this summer, it's an article worth bookmarking for the future.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Salt Spring Island, Canada

The more I research, the more I realize how much I don't know. I've been trying to figure out our summer vacation, and waking up at 6 just to have an hour to do so. With all of this research, I've found some places I've never heard of, that seem like great places to know about. Salt Spring Island, which is just off of Vancouver Island (also a fantastic place to visit--we did a story on it in Cookie), seems pretty idyllic. I thought this organic B+B called Bloom looked like a great place to go, although they don't take kids. Bookmark it for your getaway, or for your friends without kids.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bay Ridge Field Trip

Over spring break, we finally visited Tanoreen, the much-talked about Middle Eastern restaurant in Bay Ridge. It was easy to drive to, but it's also one block from the R train. It's fantastic--we thought we under-ordered and were going to have to order more, and we ended up coming home with leftovers. I'd go just for the hummus, it's that good.

If you go over that way, you could check out Owl's Head Park, also known as "Bliss Park." But we really just headed straight home, so I'm just going to link to a Time Out Kids article that was done on the area.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Around LAX

We have one apparently inviolable rule for whenever we land at LAX, and that is that we get into the rental car, and immediately head to the In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda, which is about 3 minutes away. I say inviolable because no matter how much I try to convince my family that we should try something else out, like say, Gjelina, or Huckleberry, since my husband hasn't been to either, and we weren't going to stay in LA, but head straight up the coast to Santa Barbara...well, I didn't win.  And once I got there, eating the perfect "protein set-up, animal style" burger (it's a gluten-free dream!), I don't know why I was lobbying so hard to change tradition.

On our way back to LAX, I did get my way though. We made sure we had an hour extra to kill before needing to get to the afternoon flight, and we stopped at Gjelina. It's a restaurant that is always packed, annoyingly so. There's always a crowd out front, and it's impossible to get in unless you have time to wait, or foresight to book ahead. But now that there's a Gjelina Take Away next door, you can get a little bit of the vibe and flavor. It isn't cheap—I think lunch for three, plus some meatballs for the plane, came to about $60, but it was certainly cheaper than sitting in the restaurant. From there, it's a straight shot up Lincoln to the airport, and easy to fill up on gas on the way.