Category Archives: United States

Avital Food Tours: Eating Our Way through North Beach San Francisco

Avital Food Tours North Beach San Francisco tour review

Taking a food tour in San Francisco is really a no brainer as San Francisco is a city full of culinary delights from artisan coffee to fresh caught seafood to old-fashioned ice cream. We didn’t hesitate when Avital Food Tours asked us to review one of their walking food tours. Currently, this small company offers food tours in several iconic San Francisco neighborhoods including the Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, North Beach, and Union Square. What is unique about the company is that not only do they take you to local culinary destinations and allow you to meet restaurant owners and chefs, but they also focus on providing participants with local history and little known local lore about the neighborhood. We’ll share our experience of eating our way through San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood and also provide readers with a chance to win 2 tickets to experience an Avital Food Tour of Read the Rest…

Safari West: An African Safari Experience in Sonoma California

giraffes at Safari West Santa Rosa CA

I was really surprised to learn that there was an African wildlife preserve called Safari West located only 75 miles north of San Francisco. Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve containing over 100 species and over 700 individual animals, including giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, flamingoes, rhinos, cape buffalo, lemurs, and wildebeest. Opened in 1993 by Peter and Nancy Lang, Safari West strives to promote wildlife advocacy and conservation through breeding, education, research and public interaction. The preserve shares similar environmental features to an African savanna and guests can take open-air guided wildlife safari drives to see many of the animals roaming the expansive property. The smaller animals are kept in enclosures that are reachable by a walkway and you can also visit the open-air aviary containing all sorts of exotic birds. Guests can even stay overnight here and see and hear many of the animals in the evening once the daytime crowds leave. After hearing Read the Rest…

Outdoor Adventures in Scenic Los Osos California

Spooner's Cove Montaña de Oro State Park Los Osos California Montana beach

Los Osos is a peaceful bayside community that is home to a number of outdoor activities along Central California’s coast. Los Osos is conveniently located just off scenic Highway 1, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Located just south of beautiful Morro Bay and its famous giant rock landmark, Los Osos lies along Estero Bay and is the gateway to Montaña de Oro State Park, one of the most beautiful oceanside parks in California. If you enjoy hiking, water activities, bird watching, and other outdoor adventures, this lovely area of Central California is the perfect place for a weekend nature break. Ethan and I were very excited to be invited to spent a day and a half in Los Osos exploring the lovely parks, estuaries, nature preserves, and bays surrounding this lovely town. We’ll tell you all you need to know to start planning your own visit to Los Osos, Read the Rest…

Vintage and Antique Shopping in Morro Bay California: Perfect Place for a Recycled Holiday

Morro Bay is a charming seaside town with a bustling waterfront, charming old town, and an enormous landmark in the form of Morro Rock which sits in the harbor. You’ll likely first notice this large iconic rock from miles away as your approach the city. Morro Bay sits along the Central California Coastline just off of California’s scenic Highway 1, located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. While perhaps best known for its waterfront activities, outdoor adventure opportunities, and rock landmark, Morro Bay also sports a downtown shopping district in its Old Town, and this was the reason for our first visit to this little charming town. The town sports dozens of antique malls, thrift stores, gift shops, and local speciality stores that beg to be explored. What would you do if you were given $500 to spend to buy gifts for a “recycled holiday”, where instead of buying Read the Rest…

Top 10 Things to Do in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco CA

Golden Gate Park San Francisco things to do

For such a compact and populated city, San Francisco sports a number of green spaces, including the famous Golden Gate Park. Most visitors are surprised by the sheer size of Golden Gate Park, which is 20% larger than New York City’s Central Park, consisting of over 1,017 acres of land. Golden Gate Park is the city’s lungs and is more than just a giant patch of grass destined for picnics and frisbees. Where else can you see great art, ride a carousel, row a boat, observe American bison, stand in a Chinese pavilion, smell exotic flowers, and sip Japanese tea all in one day? Spending a day in Golden Gate Park is easy, but given all the options, choosing what to do can be difficult! We’ll tell you why a visit to San Francisco should include a visit to this sprawling green space and share 10 things you might consider Read the Rest…

Itsu’s Fishing Supplies: Our Favorite Shave Ice (a.k.a. Ice Shave) on the Big Island of Hawaii

shave ice Big Island Hawaii ice shave Itsu's Fishing Supplies shop Hilo Hawaii

Now that Spring has arrived, I am finally able to return to blogging from my outdoor patio (yeah!) and this warm weather has me wishing for some Hawaiian shave ice. Shave ice is where a block of ice is “shaved” and formed into a ball with flavored syrup poured on top. The treat is typically served in a paper cone or cup. Often the flavor and calories are amped up by adding sweetened condensed milk on top, adding ice cream to the bottom, and/or adding azuki bean paste. It’s similar to a snow cone except the ice has been shaved rather than crushed, resulting in “fluffier” ice. This dessert, which is believed to have originated in Japan over a 1,000 years ago, has become a local island food in the state of Hawaii, particularly on the Big Island. On the Big Island, it is also called ice shave by many locals, Read the Rest…

Alcatraz Night Tour: Our Visit to The Rock with Alcatraz Cruises

Alcatraz Night Tour Alcatraz Cruises tour of Alcatraz prison

After over 3 years of living in the San Francisco Bay area, we finally made it to Alcatraz Island last week and did the Alcatraz Night Tour and explored the famous prison. While primarily known and visited because of the 29 years it served as the home for the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, the tiny island has a rich and varied history. Long ignored by native people, the island would in turn serve as a strategic place for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, a federal maximum-security prison, the site of a 19-month occupation of Native American protesters, and finally a national recreation area and top tourist destination in San Francisco. Ironically, while for many years people would have done almost anything to get off and escape from Alcatraz, Hollywood celebrities now come here to shoot films and paying tourists line up in droves to come over and Read the Rest…

California Roadside Attractions: Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton CA

Pea Soup Andersen's Pea Soup Andersens Buellton California review near Solvang

Pea Soup Andersen’s is one of those quirky, roadside restaurants that has a strong cult following in California and its fame can be attributed to the humble pea. For generations, locals and travelers alike have swung by this old-fashioned restaurant for friendly service and a hot bowl of pea soup! The restaurant is probably one of the largest purchasers of peas in the world, serving thousands of bowls of the hot green stuff each day, and is known as the “Home of Split Pea Soup”. What began as a small roadside café in 1924 opened by Anton Andersen and his wife Juliette has morphed into two restaurants, an inn, gift shops, and even a small museum. However, the primary reason to stop is still to try a bowl of their homemade pea soup made from Juliette’s original French recipe. If you’ve driven Highway 101 along California’s Central Coast, you’ve probably Read the Rest…

Segway Tour in San Francisco: Our First Segway Tour Experience

Segway tour in San Francisco best segway tours San Francisco Electric Tour Company segway rides

Ethan and I took advantage of the recent holiday and spent the day off work doing a Segway tour in San Francisco. Segways are those 2-wheeled battery-powered contraptions where riders stand up and navigate through body positioning and a handlebar and you’ve likely seen them being used by mall cops, police officers, park officials, theme park visitors, or other people who need to cover long distances. This was our first time taking a Segway tour and we thought that Golden Gate Park might be the perfect place given its vast size. Golden Gate Park is actually 20% larger than New York City’s Central Park, consisting of over 1,017 acres of land. We had recently walked across the park in search of the American bison on the west end and it was a long trek from the east to west side on foot, so we figured we could cover a lot Read the Rest…

The Ruth Bancroft Garden: An Amazing Garden of Water-Conserving Plants

The Ruth Bancroft garden

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California is a nationally recognized public dry garden that contains a variety of rare and extraordinary cacti, succulents, trees, and shrubs from around the world. The 2.5 acre garden is unusual in that it focuses almost entirely on water-conserving and drought-resistant plants and was the first garden in the United States to be preserved by The Garden Conservancy. As water conservation becomes increasingly more important (e.g., California is facing the worse drought in recorded history), this non-profit garden hopes to not only preserve its current collection but to serve as a model for similar gardens. Ethan and I were invited as local travel writers to do the Valentine’s Day themed “Lover’s Day Aloe Tour” at the garden. We were not really sure what to expect as a collection of “drought-resistant” plants doesn’t really fit with our stereotypical image of a pretty flower garden. Read the Rest…

A Guide to Ziplining on the Big Island of Hawaii

ziplining on the Big Island of Hawaii best zip line big island

Ziplining on the Big Island of Hawaii is one of many potential adventures you might embark on when exploring this wonderful island. Zip line adventures allow you to soar from tree to tree in rain forests and across canyons, allowing you to take in views of waterfalls, rivers, and tropical wildlife from a bird’s point of view. The Hawaiian islands are a popular place for ziplining and several companies on the Big Island offer the opportunity to zipline above the tree canopies. It was on the Big Island that Ethan and I both went ziplining for the first time together!  We had so much fun and felt like it was a perfect place to have our first ziplining experience. We’ll list some of the popular ziplining tour companies on the Big Island, let you know which company we chose, and share our experience and photos of ziplining on the Big Read the Rest…

The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite: A Christmas Tradition at Yosemite National Park

The Bracebridge Dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee) is a long-held Christmas tradition at Yosemite National Park. Each December, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel dining hall is transformed into a 17th century English manor where guests are invited to join Squire Bracebridge for a Christmas celebration. This 4-hour Yuletide celebration is a dazzling whirl of singing, acting, and pageantry which revolves around a 7-course feast. Obviously, I had been wanting to attend this venerable dinner pageant since I first heard about it two years ago. This year for Christmas instead of exchanging gifts, Ethan and I spent three days and nights in Yosemite and attended the Bracebridge Dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. If you are interested in attending or just want to find out more about this event, read on and we’ll tell you how to attend and share our experience of attending the Ye Olde Bracebridge Read the Rest…

Top Five Things to do in the Southern Part of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park Wawona southern south entrance

While the Yosemite Valley is the most popular place to visit during a trip to Yosemite National Park, the Southern part of the park near Wawona should not be missed. A visit to the Southern part of Yosemite offers the park’s largest group of ancient giant sequoia trees, the best place to learn about the history of Yosemite, the historic Victorian-era Big Trees Lodge (formerly the Wawona Hotel), and less crowded hiking and climbing opportunities. One of the great highlights to many visits to Yosemite National Park is a walk among the ancient giant sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove. If you are interested in spending some time in the south end of the park, then read on to discover our list of the top five things to do in the southern end of the Yosemite National Park. If this is your first trip to Yosemite, you might start by reading our Read the Rest…

Planning a Day at Yosemite National Park: An Introduction to the Yosemite Valley

Yosemite National Park visiting planning a day in Yosemite

The Yosemite National Park in California is one of the many gems of the American National Park System. Yosemite National Park is a World Heritage Site known for its giant granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear rivers and streams, ancient Giant Sequoia tree groves, large meadows, and a wilderness that supports a variety of wildlife. The passing of the 1864 Yosemite Land Grant by President Abraham Lincoln was the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by the United States, and set a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone as the first official national park and the beginning of the National Park System. While this giant park encompasses over 750,000 acres of land, most people only spend time in the popular 7 acres known as the Yosemite Valley. Ethan and I just visited Yosemite National Park for the first time last week and we share a Read the Rest…

Fun & Wacky Museums: Our Visit to California’s PEZ Museum

PEZ Museum Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia California

This weekend Ethan and I visited the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia—that’s right a PEZ Museum! The one-room museum is dedicated to the history of this iconic candy and displays over 800 unique PEZ dispensers. It was voted one of the “top 50 American roadside attractions” by TIME.com and has the world’s largest PEZ dispenser on display! In addition to PEZ, the museum also includes exhibits on classic toys and banned toys. After hearing that this quirky museum was located so close to us, we had to stop by and check it out. We grabbed our PEZ dispenser (Batman) and headed to Burlingame, California to learn about PEZ candy. Basic Information about the PEZ Museum Location? The Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia is located at 214 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010. It is located in San Mateo County, approximately 20 miles from San Francisco and 30 miles from San Jose. Read the Rest…