Where to Go in Lake Tahoe When You’re Not Skiing

Lake Tahoe, the cobalt blue lake where California and Nevada meet, boasts a reputation as the ultimate skiing destination for travelers seeking mountainside luxury and rugged adventure. This winter, Tahoe has experienced record snowfall fairly earlyin the season, so visitors looking to plan a trip should act fast, as local resorts will get quickly booked! And while Tahoe is primarily known as a skier’s paradise, with resorts like Sugar Bowl Resort and the upscale Northstar California Resort standing out as popular destinations, there are plenty of options beyond the slopes. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite things to do before or after a day of skiing — or for travelers who would rather take in the scenery than speed down a mountain.

Foodie-Friendly Dining

The Ritz-Carlton’s restaurant, Manzanita, is particularly popular for its refined dishes all made with local ingredients, along with a wine list featuring many Northern California favorites. For a more intimate experience, visitors should check out Cafe Fiore, consisting of seven tables in a tiny alpine cabin. Cafe Fiore is known for its hearty Italian fare, with its house special, scallops and other seafood sauteed in lemon and wine tossed with linguine, a particular standout.

Health-conscious travelers should make a point to stop by Sprouts Cafe, a natural foods cafe established way back in 1990. It’s informal atmosphere is family-friendly, with books and games for kids are scattered about. Another great casual option isBasecamp Pizza Co., which offers hearty fare, including pizzas laden with ingredients ranging from bbq chicken to crisp vegetables. The vibe is laid-back but lively, with a happy hour every day and live music every night.

Daytrip to Truckee, CA

Visitors should trek up to the north shore of the Lake and make a stop in the charming old railroad town of Truckee, CA, now an upscale, hippie town  with a bustling nightlife. The crown jewel is Moody’s Bistro Bar and Beats, tucked into the Victorian-era Truckee Hotel. A hip bar and live music (including past visits by regular Paul McCartney) will make for a lively night on the town. Those interested in a down-to-earth “dive” should stop by the Tourist Club, one of the oldest bars in town and somewhere a party is always happening.

High-Rolling in South Lake Tahoe

Those wishing to get a taste of Vegas-like activities should check out South Lake Tahoe, across the Nevada state line, where a small strip of casinos sits alongside the lake. Harvey’s, which is right along the lake, is known for its old-school atmosphere.  Just down the street is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which offers, in addition to its casino, three restaurants and two bars and lounges. The MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa is known for its nightlife, as its Opal Ultra Lounge is the place to go for a wild night out. (It’s a favorite of bachelorette parties!) For affordable lodgings in the area, consider the Holiday Inn Express South Tahoe, which is located near the main casino strip and also features a relaxing sauna.

Bustling Galleries for Art Lovers

Art fans should make sure to check out some of the galleries in the Tahoe area, which specialize in various styles of art, from painting to sculpture to glasswork and photography. A long-time favorite is Gallery Keoki, specializing in fine art photography and even offering the service of creating custom fine art installations for homes and office spaces. The James Harold Galleries has a large and varied collection of paintings and sculpture, all by new and known names in contemporary art. To take a piece of Tahoe home, visitors should definitely stop by the Jon Paul Gallery, which specializes in photographic artworks depicting the majestic natural beauty of Tahoe. Photographer Jon Paul even offers workshops for aspiring photographers, hinging on his philosophy of “bringing the fine art of nature home.”

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 28, 2016.

5 Awesome Hotels for Vintage Fanatics

Fanatics of retro style today will no longer find it only on the shelves of thrift stores. In fact, travelers will find hotels across the world that are using vintage style at the heart of their design aesthetic. These five hotels are celebrated for being vintage meccas, filled with classics from Eames chairs to 8-track players. Perfect for travelers passionate about the past, a stay in each hotel feels a bit like traveling back in time.

1. The Burrard Hotel

The Burrard Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Canada. Built in 1956 with outdoor-facing motel-style rooms, the recently updated hotel features mid-century decor balanced with up-to-date amenities like flat screen televisions, Wi-Fi, and Nespresso machines. The Burrard is a great spot for anyone who loves the distinct “Mad Men” vibe.

2. The Padre Hotel

Another hotel that excellently balances old and new is the Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, California. The hotel was opened in 1928, and was recently renovated after several years of inactivity. The Padre Hotel draws from its art deco past, with bold marble floors, bright leather furniture accents, and neon signage. The updates to the hotel make it a nightlife destination, and it features a rooftop bar, private cabanas, and regular DJ.

3. Jupiter Hotel

The Jupiter Hotel Portland is housed in a renovated motor inn-style motel from the 1960s, and still features elements of its original mid-century aesthetic. Guests will find bold art in their room: bright-yellow pleather headboards, and wall-sized portraits of Marilyn Monroe. The hotel’s old parking lot is a now a courtyard for lounging, and guests can enjoy a cocktail or bite in the popular on-site restaurant, Doug Fir Lounge.

4. Round Hill

If vintage elegance is your priority, visit Round Hill Hotel and Villas, just outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Built in 1952 on the site of a former plantation, it features countless antique furniture pieces and accents that are original and immaculately maintained. The hotel’s villas have their own unique mid-century island style, and have housed celebrities like Truman Capote and Oscar Hammerstein. Designer Ralph Lauren now calls Round Hill home and helped redecorate its interior.

5. The Parker Palm Springs

The Parker Palm Springs is a classic luxury hotel in the California desert. Opened in 1959 as a Holiday Inn, the hotel passed through many owners until it was bought by Jack Parker in 2004. The Parker Palm Springs kept its classic mid-century charm, especially in its decor. The interior features vintage couches, asymmetrical armchairs, and an unforgettably bold color palette. For an affordable stay, be sure to check outHipmunk deals at the Parker Palm Springs.

 

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 27, 2016.

The Best Farm Stay Destinations in the World

Agricultural tourism is booming. Otherwise known as “agritourism,” the principle is pretty simple: A working farm, ranch, or winery opens its doors (or fences) to travelers looking to reconnect to the land, learn about rural ways of life, and surround themselves with natural beauty.

As more and more people look to escape the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and hyperconnectivity, farm stays are becoming increasingly appealing. In addition to overnights on the farm, popular agritourism activities include pick-your-own fields, farm to table dinners, barn dances, classes or tours, corn mazes, fairs, festivals, and hunting or fishing.

Looking to get in on the rural action? Head to any of these popular farm stay destinations around the world:

Photo: Uploaded by Knase via Wikimedia Commons

Brazil

Here you can learn about any of a huge diversity of agricultural products, from tropical flowers to beef or sugarcane. The country is also known for its cutting-edge sustainability initiativesFly into Rio de Janeiro and enjoy the laid-back beach culture for a few days before heading to the countryside.

California

California’s wineries are hard to beat. Enjoy gorgeous views while sipping on pinot in Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, or lesser-known Temecula, an hour north of San Diego.

Catalan Pyrenees

One of the most searched-for farm stay destinations, this mountainous Spanish region has been a hotbed of agritourism for years. To reach it, start by flying into Barcelona, which is an easy drive to many of the mountainside towns.

Photo: dpursoo via Wikimedia Commons

Grenada

Go to Grenada for the spice farms, stay for the cocoa plantations. The Caribbean country is a lesser-known but gorgeous agritourism destination. Because it hasn’t yet achieved the popularity it deserves, the island boasts affordable lodging options.

Hawaii

Fertile and bursting with tropical produce, Hawaii’s gorgeous islands allow agritourists to learn about unique crops such as macadamia nuts, taro, guavas, and papayas. Whether you fly into Honolulu or Wailea (Maui), gorgeous land awaits.

New Mexico

New Mexican deserts are home to a surprising number of productive farms growing everything from lavender to fresh herbs and organic produce. Fly into Santa Fe to be near the largest variety of farms.

Photo: Uploaded by Magalhães via Wikimedia Commons

The Philippines

Rich in natural resources, the tropical country boasts more than 30 agritourism sites and counting, including organic farms and pineapple and coffee plantations. Be sure not to miss the rice terraces in Northern Luzon.

Taiwan

Taiwan is gradually staking a claim for itself as a hub of agritourism, thanks in part to its “leisure farms,” which offer farm tours, on-site and locally grown dinners, and the occasional home stay. Many tea plantations have started opening their doors to tourists, as well. You’ll find the cheapest flights going into Taipei.

Tuscany

One of the destinations that first sparked the agritourism industry, Italy’s Tuscany region is well known for its old farmhouses, stunning countryside, and fresh, local food. Flying into Florence will land you smack-dab in the middle of the best that Tuscany has to offer.

Photo: Qrpnut via Wikimedia Commons

Vermont

While Burlington is an exciting destination in its own right, heading to the countryside pays big dividends. Vermont’s farms offer the perfect blend of stunning natural scenery and quaint architecture in the form of old barns and charming bed and breakfasts. If you’re there in July, be sure to check out the Vermont Cheesemaker’s Festival.

Farming provides a livelihood for approximately 2.6 billion people around the globe—and without farmers or their land, none of us would survive very long. Agritourism can teach us a lot about how food is grown and reconnect us with the people and the land who feed us all year long. Plus, no matter where you book a flight to go, it’s bound to be gorgeous.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 4, 2015.

California’s Best Spas, Resorts, and Getaways

The debate around California’s best spas, resorts and getaways could go on forever. California is a unique travel destination and has something for everyone. Here’s a few of the best:

The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

The historic Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley is perfect for a Northern California “staycation” and for tourists alike. The hotel is near downtown Berkeley with its many boutiques, restaurants, and pubs and close to Silicon Valley and Napa Valley. The Claremont’s newly renovated guest rooms are for relaxation and the modern traveller. Book early for a room with a view of the San Francisco Bay. Rooms start at $331 per night. The resort fee provides access to a fitness club, a business center, three pools, tennis courts and WiFi.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills

The only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star hotel in Southern California, the Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills has no equal. There’s a wide choice of room types all with luxurious furnishings and amenities, some with patios and balconies. Hotel amenities include The Belvedere Restaurant, the Roof Garden eatery and the Living Room which serves afternoon tea. Other amenities include a spa, a gym, and rooftop pool. Personal service and elegance make this one of California’s best. Rates from $550.

Bear Creek Resort

Just two hours from Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake is Southern California’s getaway vacation destination. With skiing and winter sports and hiking, biking and the lake, there are lots of activities. Bear Creek Resort is within walking distance of the lake and the Village of Bear Lake and is close to activities and offers ski-in/ski-out access. Bear Creek Resort has a rustic, mountain feel with on-site spa and restaurant. The Resort offers a choice of rooms, studios, and cabins with modern amenities and rates from $118. Be on the beach in the morning and ski in the afternoon – and stay at Bear Creek Resort.

Knotts Berry Farm Hotel

Knott’s Berry Farm is arguably California’s best amusement park with rides, activities and its famous Boysenberry Pie and chicken dinner. If you are going there, this would be the logical place to stay. The Knotts Berry Farm Hotel is a classic family-oriented California hotel. It’s a very short walk to the park and there is complimentary shuttle service to the nearby Disneyland Resort. Resort amenities include an outdoor pool and spa, fitness center, tennis and basketball courts and free Wi-Fi. With nightly rates from $150, it’s a great value catering to families.

Solage Calistoga

The highly-rated Solage Calistoga Resort has everything you could want in a California getaway – atmosphere, food, spa and decor. This intimate 89-room resort has mountain views and is close to the historic town of Calistoga in Napa Valley. The Solbar Restaurant features Northern California cuisine using local, organic ingredients. The Spa Solage features a bathhouse, mud bar, wellness packages, yoga and fitness centre.  Impeccable service and a quiet atmosphere make this resort something special. Studio style Rooms at the Solage start at $470 per night. Pay a little extra to stay in a more spacious One Bedroom Suite.

Photo by Lyrica Glory via Trover.com

Your Next Family Vacation in Los Angeles, CA?

You’ve got a big decision to make. It’s an important decision and it’s beginning to weigh on you – where to go for your next family vacation? You’ve been to the typical vacations spots – Florida, Caribbean, Mexico, etc. It’s time to change it up and add a “new” destination to the mix. Los Angeles (and southern California) will give you a bit of everything you can want or need in a family vacation – sights, beach, activities, food and more!

Plan your Trip to LA

A trip to LA gives you the chance to explore neighboring cities in southern California. Long Beach, Anaheim, Malibu, Santa Monica are all nearby and each have things to do (see below). As a major city known for entertainment, LA always has a raft of upcoming events- special events, game, concert or festival. The chance to see a great show or band may help you settle on your travel dates.

LAX (Los Angeles Airport) is a very busy airport with lots of airline and flight choices so booking your flight is easy. While you could try getting around the LA area on public transit (subway, light rail or bus), taxi or even bicycle (in some areas), it is definitely easier to rent a car. Traffic in the LA area can be challenging so allowing extra travel time for traffic is a necessity.

With hundreds of Los Angeles area hotels, there’s no shortage of places to stay. Think of your hotel as your “home base” because your LA family vacation will have you taking day trips in and around LA. Disneyland is in Anaheim; the Queen Mary ship is in Long Beach; movie studios are in Hollywood; the Santa Monica Pier is of course in Santa Monica.

Photo by B. Williams on Trover.com

What to do in LA?

There is no shortage of things to do and places to see. Here’s just a few:

–          Los Angeles Tours – This is the quick and easy way to see LA and area. Top tours are – the Legends of Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour, Little Tokyo Food Tour, and the Hop On/Hop Off Los Angeles/Hollywood Bus.

–          Universal Studios Hollywood – A studio tour is pretty much mandatory. Universal has rides, shows and attractions on this highly rated Hollywood tour.

–          Santa Monica – There’s Santa Monica Place, the beach and the iconic Pier with its amusement park, arcade and shops.

Photo by Jim Nix on trover.com

–          La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum – The Tar Pits have been around for 40,000 years and actually contain hot tar. The Page Museum, on site, has one of the largest collections of Ice Age fossils in the world and also contains tar pits artifacts.

–          Disneyland Resort – This is the first and original Disney theme park with something for everyone. You’ll need a full day here to explore the entire park (two days would be better).

With so much to see and do, you simply can’t go wrong with a family vacation in LA!

 

This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series.