Beautiful, genteel place for a walk. On the E branch of the Green T line, so a good place to unwind after a few hours in the MFA or the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum.
A gem of a museum in a city that has several. (The Museum of Fine Arts just around the corner and the Fogg on the Harvard campus are also worth visiting). The excellent collection of Old Master paintings is set in a mock Venetian Palazzo. Hanging out in the central courtyard with its seasonal flower displays is restful but the real draw is the paintings. It's a pity some were stolen in America's biggest ever art theft, but because of the terms of Ms Gardener's will, the layout of the paintings can't be changed and empty canvases remind the visitor of what's missing.
280 The Fenway, Boston MA 02115
Nearest subway stop: Museum on the Green line
This small B&B is great value and really welcoming. The rooms are large and decorated in a charming, quirky manner. The location is great - quiet, safe and close to loads of the best restaurants and bars in the Back Bay and South End areas. Also, for the environmentally conscious, the bathroom has a composting toilet!
56 Rutland Sq. Closest subway station is Back Bay.
Although a chain, the Cheesecake Factory is an absolute must for those who love all things American and want to steep themselves in the local culture e.g. huge portions, great food. The Cheesecake Factory is located in the Prudential centre so it's pretty central, the bar's good with a range of cocktails and I would recommend the Cobb salad, surely the largest salad in the world!
Watching a Red Sox baseball game is the ultimate Boston experience. The team is central to the lives of most Bostonians and a game at Fenway Park, the oldest (and smallest) Major league ball park, is a New England right of passage.
Fenway might not be corporately sponsored or have perfect sightlines but it’s close to the city centre, with great transport links and like the team that plays there has bags of character and personality.
Games mostly sell out, but try the ticket office for returns or tickets released on the day.
There are 81 home games per year, so visit between April and October and there is a chance there will be a game.
Boston Red Sox
4 Yawkey Way
Boston MA 02215-3496
A bar for the beer lover. Don't let the dive atmosphere or lack of sunlight put you off. Choose from the extensive beer menu, both local and from overseas. There are 15 beers on draft and up 99 served in bottles. Can't decide? Let the bar tender spin the "Wheel of Indecision" and see where you end up.
This is a cash only venue "In God we trust, everyone else pays cash" as the sign above the door notes and they only serve beer. Don't ask for a JD and coke!
50 Dalton Street, Boston.
Tel: (617) 437-9999
The Best Western Terrace Inn is the best deal in Boston. The hotel offers free parking (huge), free continental breakfast, free wireless internet and free local phone calls!
1650 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA USA
We booked the hotel on the hotel's webpage, far cheaper than going via an agent. Look for the special rates, we got a room for US$129 Mon-Thurs, and US$159 for the Sunday. I mentioned that it was a wedding anniversary and got a room upgrade to a fountain view, and free gifts for both of us. The room was fabulous. The resturants are over priced, and the coffee shop where the chocolate fountain is was grossly over priced and very weak.
Instead of going to New York, which is the most expensive place in the US to shop, try a secondary destination like Charlotte. Concord Mills, a huge outlet shopping centre is only a few miles from the city centre, and has outlets from most of the big name designers you'd find in NYC for much less. (Polo Ralph Lauren, Bannana Republic, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc) not to mention the sales tax rate is also lower.
Charlotte (Concord), North Carolina
I-85 @ Concord Mills Boulevard
A 24/7 van service that takes passengers from JFK (as well as Newark Liberty and La Guardia) to their hotel. The cost from JFK to Manhattan is $17-$20 depending on where in Manhattan you need to go to. I think they also go to the other boroughs as well.
Reserve a seat in the shuttle at the Ground Transportation Desk once you exit customs. I have never had to wait more than 30 minutes for the shuttle to arrive and the shuttle is fast, even though you have to share the van with other passengers who are going to other destinations in the same area.
Worth saving the money of getting your own cab as you get to see the city during the ride.
Ground Transportation Desk (once you exist customs)
This restaurant has the most amazing views of San Francisco. Perched on top of the Hyatt, across from the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero area, Equinox offers stunning views of the bay, the financial district and the Bay Bridge. But this is not all, for not only is the view fantastic, but the restaurant does a 360-degree rotation in about 45 minutes; whilst you’re savouring your meal you can enjoy the beautiful skyline of the city.
The food at the Equinox is of very good quality. For starters their crab cakes and their oysters are simply superb. Their filet as a main is tender and it melts in your mouth; their salmon is simply-cooked and yet it has a taste of uniqueness. The desserts come in big portions, or bigger than you’d expect at such a restaurant; and by the time you’ve got to leave you feel just right and not in need of any extra nibbles. Prices are a bit high, but if you’ve got the chance to set some money aside before you leave San Francisco, the place is worth a visit.
If money is an issue, we noticed that some people also go in to have a drink and some dessert rather than a whole meal. The one drawback we thought Equinox has is that the menu is not as extensive as one might like, especially if you’re a vegetarian: you might find there’s nothing for you to choose from.
Equinox, at the Hyatt Regency
5 Embarcadero Center,
Equinox Reservations: (415) 291-6619
Whether you were a fan of Peanuts or not, the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, is a must. I am not a huge fan myself yet really thought the museum was impressive. Who knows, I might start appreciating the strips a bit more after my visit! It covers the history all of Schulz’ works, and you get to see some of the original strips as well as works by other artists that have used Schulz as a model. I thought it was especially interesting to see the development of the Peanuts characters as Schulz gives them life.
The rooms are wide and spacious so even if there’s a big group visiting at the same time you never feel it’s too crowded.
There’s a garden/labyrinth outside the main entrance as well and an ice-rink just across the road (Snoopy’s Home Ice). There are also tables and benches for guests to have a picnic and many statues of Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang. Favourites for people of all ages to have photos taken with.
You can get $1.00 off each ticket if you either a) go to the Visitors’ Bureau in Santa Rosa (Historic Railroad Square) and say you’d like to visit the museum. In this case they’ll give you a ‘California Welcome Center’ sticker per person you can then show at the entrance.
Or b) you can collect a discount card from your hotel or any visitors’ bureau in Sonoma county.
Because Charles M. Schulz lived in Santa Rosa, the city has a special celebration each year in which they exhibit statues of one of his Peanuts characters. It was Charlie Brown in 2005 and Woodstock in 2006. This year, starting in May, they’ll display statues of Joe Cool. These statues are all for sale and businesses around town buy them and then display them on their own premises. The ones that are not sold are left on display around the streets of Santa Rosa. At the Visitors’ Bureau they’ll give you a map showing where the statues have been placed.
Every time we go to Santa Rosa we always dine at LoCoco’s. The reason? Simple: it’s the best Italian restaurant we’ve been to outside Italy. They offer fresh pasta, fish and meat dishes cooked in a traditional way. The fettucine al cinghiale (wild boar fettucine) is superb. Linguine alle vongole (clam linguine); pasta shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta; penne con salsiccia are but a few of their dishes. But before you can enjoy a trip to culinary Italy, you’re brought a breadbasket with several slices of gorgeous bread and a little bowl of either olive oil or green olive tapenade. So whilst you’re looking at the menu and trying to decide what to indulge yourself with, you can start dipping those thick slices into a bit of Italy.
The service is also unbeatable and all the waiters are charming in the Italian way. They’ll give you a list of special dishes of the day and will help you make your choice if you’re a bit stuck or overwhelmed.
Try to leave a bit of room in your stomach, for the desserts at LoCoco’s are a must. The tiramisù is a favourite, but they’ve also got cannoli and profiterol just to name a couple.
The only drawback at LoCoco’s, we find, is that it fills very fast and it’s usually packed. So we suggest booking in advance and, if possible, early in the week or at mid-week, but try to avoid Friday or Saturday evenings as the staff are so busy that you may have to wait a bit too long for your food.
NB: There are other LoCoco’s in the US but they are not related to LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica, Santa Rosa.
LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica
Historic Railroad Square
117 Fourth Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: (707) 523 2227
Fax: (707) 523 2902
Both times we’ve visited Santa Rosa, in the Sonoma Valley, California, we’ve stayed at the Hotel La Rose. It is situated in the old Railroad Square, surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafes and only five minutes away from the town centre. It’s also within easy reach of Hwy101 from SF.
The current building dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Its interior has been designed and decorated to show a sense of cosiness and tradition that soon make you feel at home. The rooms are clean, spacious and have got comfortable beds with pillows of all sizes, both to sleep on and as decoration.
Of special note are some of the rooms on the fourth floor in the main building as they have a slanted roof and windows.
The service at the Hotel La Rose is professional and friendly. Unlike most hotels in the area they offer continental breakfast, the best buffet breakfast we’ve ever had. This consists of fresh fruit, a variety of cereals, different kinds of bread and pastries, smoked salmon, smoked ham, cheese, and the usual drinks: orange juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate etc.
The hotel has an adjacent car park for guests.
If it's comfort and good, affordable prices you're looking for after your wine tasting trips in the valley, this is the perfect place to book.
Hotel La Rose, 308 Wilson St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Tel: 800 527 6738 (LaRose-8)
When visiting the wine country in California we like to find accommodation in small and quiet towns. This took us to the Metro Hotel in Petaluma. It’s a big old house that’s been recently restored and turned into a hotel.
It’s very clean and comfortable and upon entering the premises you get the feeling of being in France. Old French paraphernalia have been brought in and used as decoration for both the common areas as well as the rooms: posters imitating the style of the 1930s, original road signs, a metro map of Paris, quaint chalk blackboards with messages written in French, garden gnomes like the one in Amélie… The only modern artefacts are plasma TVs in the rooms and in the reception area.
The furniture is simple and comfortable and it imitates the old country house style of southern France. Beds, wardrobes and bedside tables vary in each room giving them a sense of uniqueness. This, and their white kitten playing around the reception area, made us feel like we were staying at a friend’s house rather than at a hotel, something we appreciated.
When we stayed at the Metro Hotel they didn’t serve breakfast, yet they had two thermoses with coffee and a jug of milk for the guests. It looked like they were doing some more work in the house and we were told they’ll open a cafe soon.
The service at the Metro Hotel was efficient and almost invisible. The reception is only open certain hours a day and if arriving late (or leaving early) the receptionist leaves you instructions upon reservation of how to check yourself in.
A good place if you want a quaint and relaxed stay in the wine country.
Metro Hotel & Cafe
508 Petaluma Blvd.
Petaluma CA 94952
Tel: (707) 773 4900
Magnificent stands of old-growth coastal redwoods, up to 100 m tall. Being in an ancient redwood forest is like being in a grand cathedral. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is a particularly beautiful spot; the park also hosts two herds of Roosevelt elk. Try the James Irvine Trail, a 8 km (one-way) hike from the campground to the ocean through an old-growth redwood forest. The last 2 km of the trail runs through beautiful Fern Canyon.
About 500 km north of San Francisco on route US 101; about 30 km north of Arcata, the nearest city. Take US 101 north of Arcata; about 5 km north of the town of Orick, take the exit for the Newton B. Drury Memorial Parkway.
Arcata is the nearest place to stay in a motel or bed & breakfast; if camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods, make reservations well in advance at the California State Parks web site.
It is not just a hotel telephone directory as it includes all of the hotel official contact info as well: phone, fax, email, postal address, website link.
Some hotels are featured with an additional hotel page where pictures, special offers and last minute deals are posted.
It is quite good to know that a hotel directory of this kind actually exists and that you can refer to it when tired of looking at hotel reservation services and not finding the hotel contacts!
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