Six Hidden Gems in L.A., California

Six Hidden Gems in L.A., California

Maximizing One Day in Los Angeles

With less than a full day to spend together in Los Angeles, California, my daughter Alison and I wanted to make the most of our quality time. We sharpened our pencils and crammed an ambitious itinerary of hidden gems in L.A. Since Alison was now a Los Angeles native, I had an expert guide.

There are endless things to do and see in Los Angeles, but these six (6) hidden gems in L.A. made our short-list. You’ll find they’re great takes if you’re time-pressed, and a few are free if you’re on a budget. I might have taken a more leisurely pace on a few, but these six will whet your appetite. Read more

Preview: Treated Like Royalty at “The Deacon” Bed & Breakfast

Note: This is just a Preview of an upcoming story.

The Timothy Pratt “Deacon” B&B

You’ll find the Deacon Timothy Pratt Bed & Breakfast located just off the heart of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a waterfront community poised for romantic getaways, couples retreats, and destination weddings. Locally, this charming inn is referred to as simply, “The Deacon.”

To say we received a warm welcome to the Deacon Timothy Pratt Bed & Breakfast and the Old Saybrook community is an understatement. Jim and I were truly treated like royalty!

In fact, I can’t wait to tell you all the details about the hospitality, experiences, delicious food, and fun we had!

But right now, my story is in progress. I wanted to share this preview with you to pique your interest. If you would like to receive notification when I post the story, complete the sign-up form below and you’ll be among the first to know!

Trust me, you won’t want to miss hearing about “The Deacon” or all Old Saybrook Connecticut has to offer.

Road Trip to Nova Scotia: 5 Great Places to Stay (and Eat)

Road Trip to Nova Scotia: 5 Great Places to Stay (and Eat)

A 10-Day Itinerary Between Boston and Nova Scotia

Best Casual Luxury and Boutique Hotels in NS, PEI, and Maine

My mother Georgi, Jim and I packed our bags for a ten-day road trip to Nova Scotia. It was a reunion of sorts; my parents spent summers on Canada’s Northumberland Strait to escape the heat and stay connected to my father’s family heritage. Scenes filled with country life and ocean views spoke of a simpler time.

The drive to Antigonish, Nova Scotia took eleven hours by car from our home south of Boston. There are quicker ways to get there. There’s the high-speed ferry (the CAT) from Portland Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and another from St. John, New Brunswick. And, a flight from Boston to Halifax only takes about two hours.

However, driving offered an opportunity to more thoroughly enjoy the journey through two countries and four provinces. So many picturesque places materialized as stopping points along the way during our road trip to Nova Scotia and back.

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Luxury Lifestyle: The Newport Mansions Decorated for Christmas

Luxury Lifestyle: The Newport Mansions Decorated for Christmas

The Newport Mansions at Christmas

Scenes from the Gilded Age

A visit to Newport, Rhode Island is incomplete without seeing the Newport Mansions at Christmas. There are ten incredible estates that The Preservation Society of Newport County maintains year round. Guests may explore independently or follow guided tours by headset.

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Through the holiday season, four mansions are open daily to visitors: The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms, and Marble House. Each was once a private residence for the well-to-do, including famous families like the Vanderbilts, who retreated to the mansions’ grandeur along the cool shores of Rhode Island for summer months. Read more

Winter Scenes from the Mountain Village of Bethel Maine

Winter Scenes from the Mountain Village of Bethel Maine

Winter in Bethel Maine

An Annual Getaway

Bethel, Maine is a charming New England town we visit each year to meet friends who ski in the area. The quaint mountain village lies between some of the highest mountains in Maine. Winter in Bethel Maine offers ample opportunity for outdoor sports, including alpine skiing and snowboarding, Nordic and cross-country skiing, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing, and more.

Sunday River and Mount Abram, both in nearby Newry, Maine, are the primary attractions for our friends, who rent a place at the Sunday River Ski Resort; the guys jet right out their condo to the slopes, returning by night to one of the cozy ski lodges within the resort. We go not to ski, but because winter in Bethel Maine is particularly beautiful. Read more

California’s Largest Used and New Book and Record Store [Photo Tour]

California’s Largest Used and New Book and Record Store [Photo Tour]

A Visit to The Last Bookstore

Los Angeles’ Best Kept Literary Secret

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles, I discovered a reservoir of quietude. It’s a peaceful refuge for Creatives and others longing to escape from the city’s frenzied pace, if only for a moment. I joined the dreamers and writers, book lovers and music enthusiasts, artists and eclectics, and curious travelers who passed through the oversized door on 5th Street. This oasis was The Last Book Store. Turns out, it’s California’s largest used and new book and record store. It’s also one of the largest independent bookstores in the world.

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My Weekend Stay at the Chatham Tides Inn (Hotel Review)

My Weekend Stay at the Chatham Tides Inn (Hotel Review)

A Casual Resort on the Water

Chatham (Cape Cod), Massachusetts

In a tranquil Cape Cod neighborhood steps from the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find a casual beach resort with comforts of home. Here, a footpath perfumed by beach roses and gentle seagrass invites you to a private beach. Adirondack and lounge chairs wait beside the fixings for a campfire on the beach. You’ll take in panoramic views of Nantucket Sound and Monomoy National Wildlife Preserve. Sound good? Welcome to Chatham Tides where I spent a restorative waterfront weekend in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Waterfront Weekend in Chatham - Chatham Tides Inn Cape Cod MapAlong with Brewster and Harwich, Chatham is part of the “Lower Cape.” Cape Cod is shaped a bit like an arm and Chatham Tides is near the “elbow.” Located off Route 124 in a residential neighborhood between downtown Chatham and Harwich Port, Chatham Tides offers beachfront and waterview guest rooms, suites, and townhouses.

I had the pleasure of staying in a two-bedroom suite at Chatham Tides Inn. Room #7 above the reception office proved to be my second story Cape Cod getaway.

This waterfront weekend in Chatham gave me an opportunity to explore the southeastern tip of Cape Cod and meet up with girlfriends (we call ourselves “The Bunco Babes”) at a family cottage in Harwich Port; I seized the opportunity to combine work and pleasure. Read more

Where to Find Tuscan Comfort Food in Fiesole: Il Fiesolano Ristorante

Where to Find Tuscan Comfort Food in Fiesole: Il Fiesolano Ristorante

A Sample of Fiesole’s Local Flavor

After exploring the Tuscan hill town of Fiesole on foot then catching the best sunset over Florence, my friend Mary and I had worked up an appetite. We headed back down Via San Francesco in search of Tuscan comfort food in Fiesole.

Not wanting to stray too far from the bus stop back to Florence at Piazza Mino, we considered several nearby dining options.

Restaurants in Piazza Mino

We first came upon an Irish pub. Like many restaurants in Italy, J.J. Hill closed between 4:00 and 7:30 pm. We peered in to find what you would expect of a cozy Irish pub: dark woodwork, draught beer at the polished bar, Irish artifacts. While a juicy pub burger and a cold drink sounded good, we decided against it given the authentic Tuscan cuisine that surrounded us.

Next, we considered two restaurants along the same block: Blu Bar and Ristorante Villa Aurora. Both offered garden seating with panoramic views of the Tuscan valley below. Neither piqued our interest. We declined the hostess’ invitation to wait upon the formal divans of the Hotel Villa Aurora. We’d already caught a spectacular sunset and felt underdressed for elegant dining.

Then, beneath the glowing bell tower of San Romolo, we spotted Il Fiesolano Ristorante. Here, we discovered the quintessential Tuscan comfort food in Fiesole. Read more

The Best Place to See the Sunset Over Florence

The Best Place to See the Sunset Over Florence

Exploring the Tuscan Hill Town of Fiesole

Nestled in the gentle curve between two mountains high above Florence, Italy, you’ll find Fiesole. Favored by aristocrats and wealthy Florentines for its summer breezes and stunning views, it lies across the Arno River and less than thirty minutes northeast of Florence. I think it’s the best place to see the sunset over Florence.

The ancient Tuscan hill town with Etruscan-Roman beginnings offers opportunities to explore the remains of Roman baths, a Roman amphitheater, and the grassy hill on which Leonardo da Vinci experimented with flight. For centuries, this picturesque village has inspired great literature and renaissance art.

Fiesole was a serendipitous break from Florence’s bustling city landscape for me and my friend Mary, both itinerant shutter-bugs. We found it to be an ideal place to explore while capturing a beautiful sunset over Florence. Read more