Fun Summer Destinations

There are so many wonderful places to travel to in the US but here are a few of my favorites because they have all the elements I look for while picking a summer destination - beautiful beach, amazing food, great shopping and activities and people watching!!! Malibu, CA This Southern California retreat is perfect in so many ways. Located just 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles but feels worlds away. On one side of pch you’ll find the Pacific Ocean with point breaks of perfect surf, custom beach homes, and great beaches. On the other side of PCH you’ll find the beautiful Santa Monica mountain range that separates Malibu from the valley and is home to numerous stream filled canyons great for hiking. Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach is a seaside resort city and artist community located in southern Orange County, California. This is an ideal getaway with its picturesque location and small size, combined with unique shops and fine dining make for a romantic escape for a week or just a weekend. Ocean vistas and breezes, plus a plethora of cultural festivals create a balance of natural beauty where the hours while away lazily, and intellectual activities inspire and invite involvement.
Cape Cod, MA With charming East Coast appeal, the Cape's endless shores features family friendly outings and activities. Jutting into the Atlantic, The Cape is laden with seaside cottages, sunset sailboats, and sandcastle builders. More than 400 miles of perfect coastline hug the beautiful peninsula, creating a setting with miles of picture-perfect beaches. Nearby, there’s always a trail to hike, a path to cycle, or a fishing village to explore. And the seafood? Some of the freshest available. Lively and colorful, Cape Cod pulls you in ferociously and just won’t let go.
There are fifteen towns on Cape Cod, each featuring numerous beaches and areas for outdoor recreation along with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and more.
The Hamptons, NY A mix of social scene and New York hideout, this luxe beach destination draws fans from all across the country. Known for pristine beaches and ritzy summer weekends, the Hamptons define a luxurious beach vacation. With long stretches of white sand, sparkling blue water and the perfect summer climate, it's no surprise the Hamptons are continuously ranked among the best beaches in the world. Miami, FL Miami possesses a bright and buzzing ambience loaded with Caribbean and Hispanic influences, including a wild and colourful night life and terrific dining experiences around the clock. Massive white sand Miami Beach running along much of Downtown's length is comfortable, well-serviced and great for people-watching while the unique art deco touches provide a special glamour, not to mention the chic fashionistas that make the city [one of] their homes! Miami is located near one of Florida's top natural attraction - the Everglades - and to the tropical island chain stretching south, the Florida Keys.


My favorite Bay Area Restaurants.

I love good food but probably not as much as my husband loves it! He definitely brought the joy of eating to our family so I also have him to thank for all the pounds that I am constantly trying to shed 🙂
A perfect restaurant for me is a combination of great food, ambience and service so when I find that in a restaurant, I become a regular.
Having lived in the Bay Area for almost 19 years, we have many favorite places to go out for meals be it a date night, a night out with friends, a family dinner, Sunday brunch or just a coffee date. So here's my list of favorite restaurants by event, some are new and some have been around for a while. Check them out if you get a chance and tell me what you think.

Date Night 

Reposado: Mexican (Palo Alto)
Love their margaritas and blue corn crepas stuffed with crab, shrimp and red snapper! Yum.

Sent Sovi: Californian (Saratoga)
Sweet, romantic, excellent service and food.

Gary Danko: Contemporary (San Francisco)
Wow on all factors. Definitely try the tasting menu.

Boulevard: American with French Influence (San Francisco)
Excellent for foodies.

Dinner with Friends 

The Village Pub: American (Woodside)
Love their roast chicken (seasonal) and Hamburger.

Mamacita: Mexican (San Francisco)
Fun ambience, great margaritas, innovative menu.

Fresca: Peruvian (San Francisco)
Two locations. I am partial to the Filmore street location. Amazing Paella and Sangria. Guacamole and plantain chips are a great appetizer.

Le Colonial: French/Vietnamese (San Francisco)
Beautiful Restaurant. Interesting Menu

Flea Street Cafe: Californian (Menlo Park)
Best Margaritas. Love their Summer Organic Vegetarian Tasting.

Joya: Modern Latin (Palo Alto)
Their churros with hot chocolate sauce can't be missed.

Le Fondue: Swiss (Saratoga)
Fun, eclectic setting. Love the traditional cheese fondue the best.

Betelnut: Asian Fusion (San Francisco)
Yummy cocktails, fantastic menu, vibrant environment.

Evvia: Mediterranean (Palo Alto)
Their lamb chops are to die for!

Family Friendly 

Gambardellas: Italian (Menlo Park)
Especially like it in the summer as you can get a table outside and the kids can play in the courtyard with fountain and see the Caltrain go by!

Le Fondue: Swiss (Saratoga)
The activity of making fondue keeps the kids engaged and entertained

Benihana: Japanese Teppanyaki (Burlingame)
This location is great as you can see the airplanes taking off and landing from the tables near the window. Plus the concept of teppanyaki is always fun for kids. The chefs are very entertaining and really do a great job keeping the kids engaged.

Dutch Goose: American (Menlo Park)
Casual tavern setting, fabulous burgers, pool table and all the makings of a fun night.

Sunday Brunch 

Cafe Barrone: Menlo Park
Love their extensive choice of scrambled eggs. Amazing waffles and other great breakfast menu items. Fountain, courtyard setting and location next to a book store all make it appealing.

Empire Tap Room: Palo Alto
Lovely courtyard setting. Decent brunch menu.

Mistral: Redwood Shores
Located on the water. Sometimes have live music on Sundays. Great brunch menu.


Cafe Venezia (Palo Alto)
Best cappuccino and selection of desserts.

Cafe Coupa (Palo Alto)
Must try their Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate.

Cafe Barrone (Palo Alto)
Love their Frozen Mocha and Cafe Barrone.

Mayfield Bakery Cafe (Palo Alto)
Amazing hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow.


Half Moon Bay, The Ritzy Way!

Sitting atop a bluff, overlooking the rugged Northern California coastline, the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is an exotic mix of Scotland and California.The Bagpiper at sunset is just the right touch to add to this experience. Only 30 minutes from San Francisco, but feels like you are in a completely different place far from high rises, traffic, crowded streets, etc. Whether you are local or from out of town and are looking for a quiet weekend with a loved one or a fun family getaway, I highly recommend it. There's something for everyone.
Here's why I love this spot for a family getaway: 
Courtesy: Ritz Carlton

      Courtesy: Ritz Carlton

    • Indoor heated pool and hot tub so usable all year round.
    • The beach accessible from the hotel is absolutely lovely and pet friendly too. 
    • The conservatory restaurant is perfect for meals with kids - casual with an amazing view and menu. On Friday and Saturday nights they usually have a some sort of live music or band.
    • The hotel has many sports options for kids and parents - tennis, basketball, golf, soccer.
    • There is a yummy hot chocolate bar set up outside some evenings (maybe seasonal too) with all types of toppings geared for adults and kids.
    • The hotel has an amazing s'mores kit which is a fun activity to do with kids in any of their fire pits.
    • The Ritz Kid's club is a fantastic program geared for kids 5 years and older.
    • Your pooch is welcome too - it's a pet friendly hotel.

    Here's why I love this spot for a getaway with someone special:
    • Beautiful, elegant rooms with a fireplace. Some rooms also have an outdoor fire pit.
    • Great wine bar with wine pairings with cheese and chocolate.
    • Excellent food at their formal restaurant, Navio and their casual restaurant, The Conservatory.
    • Awesome spa 
    • Great gym and coastal walking trails
    • World class golf
    Besides the hotel, the town of Half Moon Bay is very charming with unique shops and nice restaurants. Here are some other local attractions that can be included in your itinerary given the time -
    1. Tidepools at Maverick's or Fitzgerald Marine ReserveAt low tide, visitors can explore the myriad life in the rocky tidepools: sea anemones, sea stars, hermit crabs, urchins and other species.
    2. Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo - take a walking tour and see the elephant seals.
    3. Harley Farms in Pescadero - take a tour, visit the goats and taste their amazing goat cheese.
    4. Clam Chowder at Sam's or fish & chips at Barbara's Fish Trap.
    5. Lemos Farms - fun family outing.


    Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit in San Francisco.

    If you are a fashion-lover, then you can't miss this exhibit in San Francisco.
    Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
    De Young Museum
    March 24 - August 19,  2012
    Animated Mannequin

    Dress worn in white by Marian Cotillard

    This dynamic, multimedia exhibition includes 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs created between the mid-1970s and 2010, along with numerous sketches, archival documents, fashion photographs, and video clips that spotlight Gaultier’s collaborations with filmmakers, choreographers, and musicians, most notably Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
    There are so many things that I loved about this exhibition but in particular,  I have to call out the animated mannequins who talk and sing in playful and poetic vignettes throughout the exhibit. Gaultier partnered with the Montreal-based theater company to design these mannequins and they were truly magnificent and just made the exhibit so much more intriguing.
    And the other part that I loved was that there was a moving runway created in the middle of the exhibit on which there was a procession of mannequins wearing some of Gaultier's most famous designs, inspired by the streets of London and Paris.
    Moving Runway

    The exhibition was divided into the following themes - Boudoir, Skin Deep, Urban Jungle, Punk Cancan and Metropolis. Below are some of my favorites in each theme.
    Boudoir: Gaultier Famous Corsets

    Skin Deep: Corset representing a skeleton
    Skin Deep: Dress worn by Carla Bruni
    Urban Jungle: Gown with a beaded Cheetah overlay
    Urban Jungle: Dress with exotic feathers
    Urban Jungle: Gorgeous lace head dress
    Punk Cancan: Mannequins in Gaultier's Punk inspired wear



    Ideas for Spring Break Travel

    Spring Break is around the corner for those of you who have kids in school, so I was tempted to write about a few of my favorite vacation getaway places that are easy to get to - either driving distance or a direct flight from California.

    Four Nights or more....

    The Big Island, Hawaii

    Why I love it: The Big Island is my favorite Hawaiian island because its an island of extremes and has so much natural beauty from the molten magma flowing into the ocean to the snow-capped heights of Maunakea, from the green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach. I just love the landscape of the black volcanic rock against the blue ocean and tropical plants. There is something so exotic about this island that its hard to describe, you just have to go....
    Favorite Place to Stay: The Four Seasons, Hualalei
    This resort is ideal as there is something for everyone. We stayed for five nights and didn't need to leave the property. There are multiple pools, a large snorkeling pond, amazing restaurants, fabulous spa and golf and a great kid's club.
    Highlight for me: Having an evening cocktail at the beachside restaurant and watching the sunset.
    Photo Credit: Four Seasons, Big Island

    Three Nights or more.....

    Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

    Why I love it: Honestly, one of my favorite reasons to travel to Cabo is the short flight from the Bay Area and the resorts are fabulous!
    Favorite Place to Stay: The One & Only, Palmilla 
    I have been to this hotel with my kids and without and both times have had a wonderful experience. This property has absolutely incredible restaurants, two great pools (one is adult's only), awesome spa, a lovely beach and a fantastic kids club. The service is absolutely amazing and you'll feel totally pampered.
    Highlight for me: The magnificent service at this hotel. You feel completely pampered. 
    Photo Credit: One and Only, Palmilla

    Two Nights or more.....

    Healdsberg, California

    Why I love it: If you love wine and are looking for a quick get away then consider Healdsberg. Healdsberg to me is how Napa and Sonoma used to be almost 15-20 years ago. Its rustic and charming.  Some of my favorite wineries are from this area. Wine tasting experience is a lot of fun as the wineries are smaller and quaint and more than likely the wine maker would be pouring the tasting for you.
    Favorite Place to Stay:  Hotel Healdsberg
    I love the location of this hotel as it is in the main town square making it walking distance to lots of great shops and restaurants. Its a small hotel but has a wonderful spa and a great restaurant. The rooms are a great size and very comfortable.
    Highlight for me: I love the breakfast they served in their lobby!
    Photo Credit: Hotel Healdsberg

    Carmel, California

    Why I love it:  Carmel is one of those places that you can never get tired of visiting. Its just so charming! I love downtown Carmel with all its quaint shops and restaurants, the beach is just amazing and the natural beauty of the coastline is breathtaking. There is so much to do from the 17 mile drive to wine tasting to a day at the beach to visiting the Monterey Aquarium (which is close by).
    Favorite Place to Stay:  Carmel Valley Ranch
    While this hotel is not walking distance from downtown, its a great hotel to stay as a family as there is a lot to do on the property from golf, tennis, bocce ball to spa, hiking and nature tours, among many other activities.
    Highlight for me: Dogs are allowed on this property so we could take our pug with us and make it a true family vacation!


    The Maharaja Exhibit in San Francisco.

    Are you looking for something fun and cultural to do as a family?

    Check out the Asian Art Museum's temporary exhibit on the life of a Maharaja (great king) in India. This exhibit is on loan from London's Victoria and Albert Museum. 

    Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts
    Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.
    Ending on April 8, 2012.

    Here's why I liked it: 

    1. The exhibit showcases about 200 objects that reflect different aspects of a royal life in India, which is fun for every age group to learn about. There are clothes, jewels, paintings, photographs, videos, furniture and other interesting objects on display that really allow you to imagine their lifestyle.
    2. Its a small exhibit that can easily be covered in one hour. 
    3. The museum offers a free family tour (at certain times) which is a wonderful way for children to learn about the exhibit.
    4. Great exposure for children to a different culture.

    My favorite part of the exhibit:

    The jewels of course! but in particular the Patiala Necklace made by Cartier. The exquisite necklace is made of nearly 3000 diamonds, including a yellow 234 carat DeBeers diamond. It was specially made for the Maharaja of Patiala in 1928. I'm still dreaming of it.