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6.23.2009

Travel Tuesday: Big Sur Coastal Drive Stops


Big Sur is one of my favorite things about California. It has been called "the greatest meeting of land and sea," and from my experience, I have yet to find a meeting of land and sea that was more spectacular. An unbeleivably pristine coastline on one side, and a barely touched ancient redwood forest on the other side make this coastal drive a sensory treat. It is so beautiful, so magical, that you can not believe you are still in California, or that you have not seen it before.

I have a few must-see stops when driving up the coast and through Big Sur that I always recommend to friends, so I thought I'd document them here in this week's Travel Tuesday blog post. Here they are for you to experience for yourself. This is done from Los Angeles to Monterey, so if you are doing this from the north (San Francisco south for example), you just need to reverse the bullets. You may want to print a map too so that you can gage how far you might be between stops. I like this map here (also displayed below).

  • Eat fish n' chips at Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market in Malibu (25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, 1.5 miles north of Pepperdine University). Not only the best fish n' chips in LA, but possibly some of the best you've ever had. Just trust me on this, and try it. You will NOT regret it. If you are not in the mood for fish n' chips, I have also sampled and loved some of their other fried seafood options, an especially good choice being their fried Seafood Combination. It includes the must-have fish n' chips, as well as fried oysters and scallops. Definitely can't go wrong. But if you are not as adventurous or are on a budget, go with the staple fish n' chips, available in 1, 2 or 3 piece options.
  • The outlet mall in Camarillo has some great designer outlets, including the new Neiman Marcus Last Call, so stop for a quick shopping trip if time allows.
  • You'll drive through Santa Barbara on your way north. Enjoy the beautiful ocean views during this part of the drive, and if you want to stop, check out some of the boutiques on State Street, and finish off with a snack or meal at Longboard's on the pier. I recommend sitting on the patio.
  • If you have time and are interested, around Buellton you’ll see a turn-off to head towards Solvang (3-5 miles east from the freeway). Drive around Solvang for a bit, it is an old Dutch style town with old style buildings and windmills. Kind of a random piece of California to check out since you are in the area.  The Hitching Post restaurant here has some special memories for my husband and me.
 

  • This part of the central coast is wine country (my beloved Sideways was filmed all around this area)!! Feel free to stop off at any of the wineries you see around here.  For a full Sideways wine map, click here.
  • At this point, you won't be driving right on the coast, as the 101 has cut inland a bit. I highly recommend you stop in Santa Maria for the BEST BURGERS EVER (and where they filmed part of Sideways), go to Santa Maria Burger (used to be called Orcutt Burger): 1785 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454, (805) 928-0811. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Burgers are huge, BTW, so doesn't hurt to share, and they only take cash.
  • Just south of Pismo Beach, right off the freeway, you’ll see a sign for Laetitia/Barnwood Vinyards. Their tastings are FREE so stop off for a quickie tasting.
  • Some cute towns around here are Cambria and Morro Bay. If you see signs for these towns and you need a bathroom break or snack, this is one of your last chances to see civilzation before Big Sur.
  • Next stop, San Simeon – you can see Hearst Castle up in the hills. If you have time, the tour is cheap and it’s a cool thing to see, but make sure you make note of the tour timing first (as the tour hours are limited).
  • Just north of San Simeon you’ll see a pull-off for the Elephant Seals. Definitely stop and take a look at them, they are amazing and right on the beach right off the road.
 
 
 

  • Next stop, Ragged Point. YOU MUST check out the view from Ragged Point. You can also get gas here if you need. Walk their little trail to the edge of the cliff to see the view of Big Sur.

  • On the right side of the road (if heading north) you will see a sign to pull off for Salmon Creek. I highly recommend stopping here and taking the hike. It is an easy hike (no incline), but you may find yourself crossing a log, so wear appropriate shoes. The reason this hike it so worth it is because it ends at a hidden lagoon with a waterfall. Amazing!
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (not to be confused with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is farther north). Park there and walk to the ocean view of McWay Falls (this gorgeous hidden waterfall spilling onto the beach in an untouched cove…. Absolutely breathtaking).
 

  • Monterey. What more can I say besides that's it is part of California and literary history. Stop for some great seafood and check out Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row.

Here's the map that I love that was referenced above:

Photo Source: BikeCommute.com

Enjoy! If you try this driving tour and check out any of these stops, I'd love to hear your stories and feedback!

6.09.2009

Travel Tuesday: Tombstone, AZ

Both Nik and I are big fans of the movie Tombstone. We thought it'd be a fun long-weekend getaway to drive to AZ for a camping trip and visit to Tombstone. Since Tombstone is small, it is very easy to do a walking tour, as most major historic sites are within a few blocks of each other. Here are my recommendations for places to see if you visit Tombstone:

Boothill Graveyard



Boothill is on the outskirts of town, so best not to try to walk there, but instead hit it up on the way into town. You'll see many famous grave sites, including the Clanton's and McLaury's after the OK Corral, and some famous humorous gravestone epitaphs, such as the one pictured above.

Tombstone Courthouse



223 Toughnut Street, Tombstone, AZ‎. A must-see.


OK Corral



326 East Allen Street, Tombstone, AZ‎. C'mon, you can't go to Tombstone without seeing the OK Corral! They have live reenactments daily at 2:00 and 4:00 pm.


Tombstone Epitaph



11 South 5th Street, Tombstone, AZ‎. Tombstone's newspaper. Free entry, and you can even pick up a free reprint of the paper the day after the infamous OK Corral showdown.



Big Nose Kate's Saloon

417 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ‎. Great reuben sandwiches! Stop here to hear some live music, grab a cold beer, and a great reuben to take a break from your walking tour.


Crystal Palace Saloon



420 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ‎. A piece of Tombstone history.


Bird Cage Theatre



527 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ‎. Definitely worth taking the cheap and quick tour. Bullet holes in the ceilings, and a ton of Tombstone and Wild West history.

6.08.2009

eLuxury Closing its Retail Operations!

I just got an email announcing that eLuxury is closing its e-commerce retail operations on June 26th, 2009. Going forward they will be focusing only on "editorial content, information, and inspiration for luxury customers around the world."

What this means?

First, I am sad because they were previously the only outlet at which to purchase Louis Vuitton merch online.

Second, they will be having tons of sales this month as they prepare to close out the e-commerce operation. Keep your eyes on the site for what I expect to be some monumental sales on designer duds and accessories.

6.03.2009

Fab easy decor idea from Paper Source

I just discovered the Paper Source blog, and am hooked. Check out this article for an example of why this blog is so cool: Easy Home Decor Ideas: Recycled Vases. In the post, you'll find out how to do this with nothin' but fabulous paper and recycled household trash:

6.02.2009

Travel Tuesday: Savannah Walking Ghost Tour



Following up to last week's Travel Tuesday post for a Savannah long weekend itinerary, I wanted to detail out the DIY walking ghost tour the husband and I did during our visit. This information was found by some Google research and Google mapping. Some of the descriptive content below was obtained from a Citysearch listing of the Top Haunted Spots of Savannah.

Savannah is hailed as America's most haunted city. Even if you don't believe in this kind of thing, this is a great way to see a beautiful city with amazing homes, beautiful squares, and incredible architecture. These are also all historical spots, so why not check them out at least for the sake of exploring this city's rich and long history?

To follow the tour as we did, plug the addresses below in Google Maps' Driving Directions, but select the "Walking" option, so that you can get your directions by foot (without the restrictions of one-way streets, etc.). The Historic District is easy to walk around and navigate, and I arranged the tour below in order for you, so if you print your own map this way, it should be a piece of cake.

If you prefer not to DIY, there are numerous paid trolley and walking ghost tours in Savannah each night. But why pay when you can easily find everything yourself in a part of the city that is easily walkable?

Here's the tour we did! Enjoy, and let me know how it works out for you if you ever take this tour on your own!

1) Mercer House - 430 Whitaker St, Savannah, GA 31401. This is the famous house where Jim Williams fatally shot his lover, Danny Hansford. This murder was the topic of the book and film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

2) Sorrel-Weed House - 6 W Harris St, Savannah, GA 31401. This is a stop on the official TAPS Ghost Hunters Tour. We even got to sneak inside the house at night after one of the paid tours had entered! It was exciting being in a supposedly haunted house by ourselves in the dark at night.

3) Hamilton-Turner Inn - 330 Abercorn St, Savannah, GA 31401. Samuel P. Hamilton is thought to roam the mansion's second floor, which belonged to "Mandy" in "Midnight."

4) Juliette Gordon-Low Birthplace - 10 E Oglethorpe Ave, Savannah, GA 31401. The birthplace of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon-Low.

5) Colonial Park Cemetery - E Oglethorpe Ave at Abercorn St, Savannah, GA 31401. Some say they have seen a deceased couple floating in the graveyard.

6) 17 Hundred 90 Inn and Restaurant - 307 E President St, Savannah, GA 31401. The brokenhearted ghost of young Anna Powers is said to occasionally tease the visitors in room 204 of this brick-and-clapboard inn.

7) Kehoe House - 123 Habersham St, Savannah, GA 31401. Legend has it that a lady in gray haunts room 203 of this bed-and-breakfast.

8) Marshall House - 123 E Broughton St, Savannah, GA 31401. This hotel once served as a Union Army hospital so it's no wonder guests often report sightings of Civil War soldiers

9) The Olde Pink House - 23 Abercorn St, Savannah, GA 31401. This popular tavern is said to be haunted by its builder, Gen. James Habersham, who appears in the restaurant.

10) Hampton-Lillibridge House - 507 E St Julian St, Savannah, GA 31401. Reportedly, a sailor hung himself in one of the rooms in this house once owned and renovated by Jim Williams.

11) Pirate's House Restaurant - 20 E Broad St, Savannah, GA 31401. Supposedly haunted by sailors, seadogs, privateers, and even pirates.

12) Moon River Brewing Co. - 21 W Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401. Was investigated by TAPS on Ghost Hunters.