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The oceanview cottages and cliff-edge infinity pools here are the stuff of dream honeymoons. At the Sierra Mar restaurant, chef John Cox recently debuted a Taste of Big Sur menu that celebrates the coast with dishes such as red abalone marinated in kelp. From $675. (831) 667-2200. Photo courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
You definitely can’t miss this café. It’s become a food destination. I dream about their open-faced fried egg and bacon sandwich. They top it with provolone cheese and Anaheim peppers, and sometimes on Sundays they’ll throw on some portobello mushrooms. If someone reached into my brain and pulled out the best sandwich I could imagine, that would be it. 4001 Judah St., (415) 661-6140, outerlandssf.com. As told to Jen Murphy. See all of Danny Hess’s favorite places in San Francisco’s Sunset District. Photos by Erin Kunkel. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
The Sketchbook Project lives within the Brooklyn Art Library, filling their entire left wall from floor to ceiling. Yes, leave it to a place as cool as Brooklyn to have an art library. Anyway, my friend and I stumbled onto this fascinating place last fall. In short, the way this incredible thing works is this: people from around the entire globe pick a topic then send in a small paperback Moleskin notebook that they fill with their view of this particular topic. After procuring your own Library Card, you are free to choose a topic and an art librarian chooses 6 or so sketchbooks and you are free to sit down and see very personal, often moving, and always interesting one-of-a-kind artwork from around the planet. Since every library card and sketchbook have a barcode, you can check in to see who all has read your sketchbook. Pretty amazing concept, isn't it? Such an incredible way to connect with other people in this world via something so tangible--something not on the computer, and not hanging on a museum wall. We spent hours in here. Here's the address so you can see for yourself! 103A N. 3rd St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Catch! Unlikely Art entry!)
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best part- the hike and view is free. Highly suggest if you are making the drive up or down the PCH.
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is something I like to do on every single visit to the "Big Apple". If I'm staying in Manhattan then I like to walk across to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). If I'm staying in Brooklyn then I like to walk over to Manhattan. I thoroughly enjoy the walk across this iconic landmark every time I'm in NYC, but to walk across at dusk and see the sunset over New York City is amazing every time! When you are on the bridge you'll see the locals running and walking. You'll hear 20 different languages from the groups of tourists coming to see the bridge. You'll see Japanese and Korean tourists with their giant SLR cameras (I'm one to talk)! You'll see couples taking self portraits of themselves. Be sure to watch out for bicyclists and stay in the walking lane. And you'll have a great view of Brooklyn to one side and an amazing view of Manhattan on the other side. On the contrary I would not recommend walking across the Manhattan Street Bridge due to the noisy train and a lack of good lighting, but if you want to get off the beaten track then this is also an option for great views of the city and to see the Brooklyn bridge from afar. I would recommend having dinner and drinks in DUMBO. There are some amazing cafes, coffee shops, chocolate boutiques, and restaurants in this hip Brooklyn neighborhood. "Superfine" is my personal favorite restaurant in DUMBO with a rotating menu based on what can be purchased locally and in season.
Hard to definitely pinpoint on a map, the Wave is a gorgeous rock formation near the Arizona and Utah part of the Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Don't rush off there expecting to just show up and visit, as this area is tightly controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and only 20 people are allowed in on a daily basis. You can apply for permits online or participate in the daily lottery to get a day pass to see these magnificent rock formations. No matter what time of year you go, you will be blown away by the stunning rock and textures made by wind, water and time.
This was the end of the Hana Highway in Maui. Our guidebook told of a red sand beach, but it specifically left out information on how to get there, in an effort to keep people from spoiling it. Before our trip, I printed out some instructions from a traveler who had been there before. We parked our Jeep Wrangler, and had to walk through a cane field and past a Japanese cemetery, climb down a cliff to a beach, and walk along the rocks for a bit. When we turned the corner, this is what we saw. Sometimes going off the beaten path will lead to remarkable experiences.
At first you might regret your decision to drive to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, tucked deep into the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Big Sur. The dirt road from Carmel Valley is only 14 miles, but it climbs and falls, bumps and winds enough to make the trip last at least one harrowing hour. Luckily, the minute I walked across the wooden bridge and set foot on the property, my drive-induced anxiety trickled away like the creek beneath my feet. In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for monastic study. I just came for the day and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch (the center has put out several acclaimed cookbooks) and a dip in the Japanese hot springs. For my next visit, though, I'll stay overnight in a lantern-lit cabin to experience true silence. Oh, and I'll take Tassajara's shuttle. The only vehicle access to Tassajara is via a 14-mile dirt road that starts in Carmel Valley. Those without four-wheel drive should arrange for shuttle pick-up. For more information, or to book a visit call (888) 743-9362 or visit sfzc.org/tassajara.
The JP Morgan Library's grand, old-world elegance immediately transports you to turn-of-the-century New York. And at that time, there was almost no one more powerful than financier JP Morgan. He launched U.S. Steel and even served as the unofficial central bank of the U.S. for a time. Though some considered him a national hero, his tight control of banks, corporations and railroads led others to label him one of the original "robber barons." Morgan was an avid collector of art and books with holdings so vast they were housed at multiple locations in New York and England. Eventually, he decided to consolidate his holdings in a huge library next to his mansion in NYC. Designed by renowned architect Charles McKim and completed in 1906, the Italian Renaissance palazzo-style library holds a staggering collection of illuminated books, historical manuscripts, and old master drawings. The library is rightfully considered McKim's masterpiece—a majestic, soaring space which is both intimate and warm. It features 30-foot ceilings, three tiers of bronze and walnut bookcases, stained glass, a huge marble fireplace and grand tapestries. Also visit Mr. Morgan's study, with its red silk damask walls and antique wooden ceiling brought over from Florence. The library is off the typical tourist's radar. Imagine yourself as Morgan in your private quarters, reveling in the power and wealth at your command.
West Randolph Street in Chicago’s West Loop has become a new home to the city’s culinary talents. Stephanie Izard first drew crowds cooking dishes like roasted pig face at Girl & the Goat (pictured). She recently opened Little Goat, a retro diner, across the street. Graham Elliot Bowles keeps it simple at his casual g.e.b, where each dish has no more than three ingredients. On a more elegant note, the prix-fixe menu at Grace, from chef Curtis Duffy, features dishes such as kampachi with coconut, lime, basil, golden trout roe, and pomelo presented in a cylinder of frozen ginger water. Photo by Huge Galdones. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
by Jason Lampkin “This weekend flea market is off the hook. You’ll see a lot of Brooklyn-made items and rare 12-inch records. Its winter location is the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank, with chandeliers, marble floors, and high ceilings that remind me of a ’40s-style railroad terminal.” Saturdays (warm weather): 176 Lafayette Ave., between Clermont & Vanderbilt Aves., brooklynflea.com. As told to Linda Dyett. Photo by David Land. See all of Jason Lampkin’s favorite places in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This story appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
The type of art that captivates, I find, is art that is completely and wholly unexpected. It is art that makes you take a second look, forces you to look beyond the confines of what you know, and makes your jaw drop. Such is this mural discovered upon a walk along New York City's "Highline"--one of my absolute favourite To-Do's whilst in the Big Apple. There is no shortage of beauty in New York City, but it is the small undiscovered things that turn a trip into a journey.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar celebrates its 100th anniversary this year as a New York institution. Located in the lower concourse of Grand Central, it serves over 25 varieties of oysters daily. There is a huge menu of American seafood—chowder, fried clams, lobster rolls, clams casino—whatever you are looking for, they will have it. The Oyster Bar is also famous for its architecture—the beautiful arched tile ceilings are the hallmark of famed Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, who left his unique stamp across NYC. Take your pick from three different seating areas: a series of old-fashioned, U-shaped counters which seem to be popular with tourists and locals; the oyster bar, which would be perfect for singles or those dining in pairs; and the saloon-type restaurant in the back, popular with the business crowd. Wherever you are sitting, it will be bustling with activity. While there are several other oyster bars in the city, the Grand Central Oyster Bar offers a piece of New York history. It's like stepping back in time, a retro celebration of old Americana that generations of locals, tourists and travelers have visited over the years. My suggestion is to stop in for fresh oysters and cold beer at the bar.
The Henry Miller Memorial Library is a bookshop–cultural center dedicated to the bohemian author who once called Big Sur home. It has become a hot spot for concerts by the likes of Gillian Welch and Arcade Fire and a Thursday night summer film series held in the redwood grove. 48603 Hwy. 1, (831) 667-2574. Photo courtesy of Serena Renner. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature yurts as well as oceanfront campsites, a tipi-like tent, and the "human nest" (pictured), a spherical dwelling woven from tree branches by local artist Jayson Fann. Even nesters have access to the resort's pool, hot tub, and restaurant, which highlights produce from the on-site organic farm and houses what has to be one of the world's most scenic sushi bars.
Nicole Krasinski describes the novel concept of her restaurant State Bird Provisions as “dim sum and a great hors d’oeuvre party morphed into one experience.” She and her husband, chef Stuart Brioza, prepare beautifully executed California cuisine such as pork-fried farro and boquerones on sesame pancakes. They then serve it on trolley carts, dim sum style. Each night, diners can choose from 12 to 15 seasonally inspired dishes in addition to the menu of six larger items, such as the State Bird—fried quail topped with Parmesan cheese. “It’s fun for the diners, but also it lets me be more spontaneous and creative in the kitchen,” Brioza says. 1529 Fillmore St., (415) 795-1272. Photo by Dani Vernon. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
Everyone is crazy for the chocolate haupia pie here, but the shrimp plate is also so good you’ll want to lick your fingers. —Hoku Haiku 59-024 Kamehameha Hwy., Sunset Beach, (808) 638-8207. Photo courtesy of José Mandojana. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue. Read more about Hoku Haiku’s North Shore neighborhood in Oahu.
Opened in 1914, this is a New York institution. Its been owned and operated by four generations of the same family. You really feel like your stepping into a NY deli 50 years ago.
Tucked away in the quiet neighborhood between Inner and Outer Sunset, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (Moraga St. btw 15th & 16th Ave) are among the hidden treasures of San Francisco. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, you can see the intricate details of the small, beautifully placed handmade tiles forming a wave of amazing sea life and various celestial shapes extending all the way up 163 stairs, and once you hike to the top—especially on a clear day—you're privy to the most spectacular view of the city from Ocean Beach to downtown.
The LEED-certified Gorman Chairback Lodge offers access to more than 66,000 acres of water and woods. Borrow a canoe to paddle Long Pond; fly-fish for salmon; hike the new Henderson Brook Trail; or simply relax on the porch of your lakefront cabin. Hot meals are served family style and there’s a wood-fired sauna in the bathhouse. Photo by Sean Litchfield. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
Nothing makes me happier than stumbling upon a really great bookstore, and this one in Savannah takes the cake! While strolling down East Liberty Street in gorgeous Savannah—my favorite of all the beautiful Southern cities—my husband and I happened upon the independently-owned Book Lady Bookstore, offering over 50,000 (!) new, used, rare, and out-of-print books of all kinds. The store is located on the first floor of an old mansion and, as you can see, every square inch is packed with wonderful books—I could have spent all day browsing through the dusty stacks. If you love books and find yourself in Savannah, I highly recommend checking out the amazing Book Lady Bookstore.
Federal Donuts, which sells wacky-flavored handmade donuts, coffee, and Korean-style, twice-fried chicken, is just one example of how chefs in the City of Brotherly Love are pursuing their culinary obsessions. 1219 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 and 1632 Sansom St, Philadelphia PA 19103, (215) 665-1101. Photo by Mike Persico. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
Cafe du Monde is a classic tourist destination that serves top quality food, a combination that's rare in any city. Even if you normally avoid tourist destinations, make an exception for this place. Don't be put off by the long lines and crowded patio, put yourself into N'Awlins time and kick back. Everything takes as long as it takes. The chickory coffee comes with or without milk (order it with), the beignets come buried in powdered sugar ("dusting" isn't a word they understand in NOLA) and the whole experience gives you a chance to sit down, take a break from the heat and eat fresh hot donuts. What's not to love?
Food is a highly subjective love, of course, but my vote for the best bowl of Asian noodles in New York City goes to Xi'an Famous Foods. Most of their locations are small—you will likely wait, and in the summer it won't feel worth it. However, once you dig in to your bowl of spicy broth, stewed pork (or lamb, or oxtail) that falls apart on your fork because it's so tender and hand-ripped noodles, you will understand. This is no ordinary ramen. Do yourself a favor, skip the available cans of soda and instead opt for their homemade cold jasmine tea (sweetened or unsweetened)—it perfectly cuts the spice that a coke cannot handle. There are four locations, including one in Queens, most of which are too busy to count on during lunch time; visit for a late lunch or early dinner and you'll be thankful. (You may also find a seat!)
I discovered this Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge on one of my very first trips to San Francisco. In my three-plus years living in the Bay Area, I still haven’t found a view to top it. My favorite time to visit is just after sunset, when most tourists are fleeing from the evening breeze and the lights from the Golden Gate are just beginning to glow. If you’re lucky, you might witness an illuminated container ship as it exits the Bay on its way to Asia. This vantage point is on the North side of the Golden Gate—for the active traveler it's a lovely green hike after a stroll across the bridge but alternately you can dive up. There's also a closer view at the base of the hill.
I’m not sure at what age humans develop the skill to stand still and appreciate scenery, but based on a scientific survey of kids who live in my house, it’s not age seven. On a trip to the Canadian Rockies, as my wife and I snapped photos of the relentlessly picturesque mountains, my son, Luke, investigated how quickly he could break his toy helicopter. Luke expects Mother Nature to be his playmate. At Bandelier National Monument, about an hour’s drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico, she is. The visitor center offers kids a booklet of activities that, when completed, earn them a Junior Ranger patch. (You could call it a bribe. We prefer the term incentive.) The scavenger hunt sent us off on the Main Loop Trail in search of birds, trees, and bugs, as well as the feature that sets Bandelier apart and makes it perfect for kids: cave dwellings. Ladders of salvaged wood lead to rooms that the Pueblo people carved out of the cliffs here over 800 years ago. “I don’t want to go up, Daddy,” Luke said. “It’s too steep.” “You’ve got this, buddy,” I said. “Just take it slow.” There were no lines of impatient parents pushing their children to race up the ladder. (We saw no more than 20 people on the trail.) Luke could climb the rungs at his own pace. He paused in triumph at the top, then set off to wander the caves. While Mom and Dad squatted—“Watch out for your bald head, Daddy”—Luke could explore without even hunching. After about 45 minutes, we were walking back toward the visitor center. We crossed a nearly dry creek by hopping hand in hand from one downed log to another and were back in time for lunch, before hunger, fatigue, or boredom could set in. It was a parent’s—and child’s—dream hike. Photo by Kevin Russ. This appeared in the August/September 2014 issue.
It doesn't matter how well you think you know a place—there's always somewhere new worth exploring. San Francisco is packed with secret hideouts. One of my all-time favorites has to be the Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room—and the rather incredible staircase contained within. Check it out the next time you're down on Post Street.
One of my favorite coffee places in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is Bakeri. Well, it is not a spelling mistake. This is the name of the an artisanal bakery in the neighborhood, with a French feel in it.
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