We kissed the warm summer sun goodbye last month and now it’s time to break out the heavy winter jackets. Snow is expected this week in Colorado and Wyoming (did they even have much of a summer?) and it won’t be long before shoveling snow becomes a part of the daily routine.
But, don’t put away those summer knits just yet… Florida is offering luxurious, family-friendly escapes this fall that could fit your budget! Here are a few options:
ST. PETE BEACH
The TradeWinds Resort Island Grand is a TravelPlusWine personal favorite! This 20-acre beachfront playgrounds gives both kids and adults the space they need. Let the kids play at the KONK Club while you enjoy the serenity of an adults-only swimming pool or a scream-free romantic meal. Don’t forget to make time for everyone in the family to enjoy the warm, crystal clear waters and sandy shore of the Gulf of Mexico. We signed up for paragliding and the views of Treasure Island are impossible to beat.
If you’ve had enough of the beach, visit Tampa for great art, shopping, and amazing cuisine.
Rates from $149
The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in the Walt Disney® World Resort offers spacious guest rooms and suites, complete with refrigerators and microwaves — a nice bonus when traveling with picky eaters. Children can spend the day in the water and sun at Recreation Island playing Marco Polo or enjoy the playground. Babysitting services are available so mom and dad can relax in the 10,000 square feet of spa space and choose from 60 spa treatments. Or perhaps hit a few balls on the golf course.
Downtown Disney is at a walking distance across the street and the hotel offers shuttle service to any Walt Disney World parks nearby.
Rates From $99, Plus Up to $100 Resort Credit and Kids Eat Free
Boca Beach Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, is located on a half-mile of private beach on the Atlantic Ocean! The resort offers a unique cosmopolitan style that mixes a sleek European sensibility with Florida beach chic… and it’s kid friendly! Head to the spa, play tennis, or lounge by the famous pool and pretend you’re Jennifer Lopez while the kids enjoy their new friends at Camp Boca.
The Uniquely Boca Winter Package, available from September 15, 2011 through December 15, 2011, is an ideal value-oriented getaway at the oceanfront with rates starting from $269 per night. This package is filled with free and discounted activities for guests of every age and interest.
Arguably, Bogota’s best attribute is its expansive selection of unexpectedly enchanting dining establishments. Others may argue that other characteristics deserve that title … its charming people, its wide variety of delicious subtropical fruits, its coffee shops, the prominent mountains that form a distant wall around the city … but in my humble opinion, the restaurants are the hands down winner.
Below are a few options in Colombia’s capital city waiting to delight your senses.
To start the day off on the right foot, visit Abasto in Usaquén district for an amazing weekend brunch. (Preferably on a Sunday; Saturdays are usually quite packed, as this place is not exactly a well-kept secret.) You’ll be charmed the moment you walk in the door, by the cozy Colombian country-style décor, the tempting baked goods placed strategically near the entrance to keep starvation at bay should a table not be immediately available, and the decadent scents wafting from the kitchen, which can immediately be glimpsed through a large open window by the entry. You may see bakers preparing the thickest pancakes you’ve ever seen in your life, or arepas crowned with any number of toppings, or waiters may be bringing out trays of freshly squeezed juice or steaming coffee.
Abasto is furnished with an eclectic mix of wooden tables – as far as I could tell, no two are the same. My favorite is the big wooden table in the back room, where you’ll be surrounded by baskets of fruits and vegetables and shelves of wine, journals, salt and pepper shakers, jars of dates and other such items available for purchase. Once you’re seated, you’ll be faced with the difficult decision of what to order. You can’t go wrong with anything, really – all of Abasto’s dishes are prepared with fresh, natural, locally sourced ingredients and are without exception mouthwateringly delicious – but my personal recommendation is a glass of granadilla juice, fruit salad, huevos rancheros, and if you’re really hungry, accompany all of that with a cheese-topped arepa or one of the raspberry crumbles sitting enticingly on the counter. Then, wash it all down with locally-sourced coffee, or a beautiful aromatica (similar to a tea, but prepared with dried fruits rather than tea leaves.)
To walk off some of those calories, take a stroll afterward through the neighborhood before heading off to your next destination.
If your appetite returns in time for lunch, head to Restaurante Casa at Carrera 13 # 85-24 for a fresh and delicious Mediterrean meal. This is a very pretty part of town, on a street lined with other restaurants and a few classy bars. If it’s a nice day, you can eat outside in the small back courtyard, under leafy oak trees. If it’s not a nice day, and you’re lucky, you’ll get the table inside next to the fireplace.
The juices here are too good to miss, and as beautifully presented as any cocktail. Try the maracuya con menta (passionfruit with mint.) Unusual combination, but it works. If you like seafood, the grouper and avocado appetizer doubles very well as a light meal, or if you’re hungrier, the sea bass with quinoa will delight your tastebuds and fill your belly. If that’s not enough, the French fries here are also sublime. And you should save room for at least a bite of the apple crumble with vanilla ice cream – although I bet you won’t be able to have just one bite.
Another lunch option, if you are really hungry and in the mood for traditional Colombian dishes, is Club Colombia. Like Casa, it was formerly a house, and this restaurant still exudes the serene feeling of a stately older home, with its polished wooden floors, wide staircase and fireplaces. The impeccably dressed waiters seem to have stepped out of a time gone past.
Portions here are generous: a cup of ajiaco or sancocho with a side of empanadas is likely to fill you up.
For dinner, if you happen to be craving sushi or seafood, take a cab to Sushi Gozen. They have the best seaweed salad I’ve had in a long time, consistently fresh, well-prepared sushi and a magnificent seafood and rice platter.
For a unique beverage, try the Umeshu, a Japanese liquor with an unusual taste: complex and slightly sweet. The wine list offers plenty of options to please the palate, or choose a perfectly shaken caipirinha.
You can also find a very nice wine list and exquisite seafood – or meat – or vegetarian options – at Matiz, the perfect choice for a quiet, elegant meal. It could be romantic, but it doesn’t have to be.
THE AFTER PARTY
Finish the night by dancing off some of those calories at Andres. (Conveniently located downtown, it’s a smaller version of the original Andres in Chia … smaller, but just as much fun!) Along with live music and a fun-loving crowd, Andres has an enormous menu of scrumptious beers, cocktails, appetizers and full meals. The lulada is an irresistible concoction including aguardiente and lulo juice, guaranteed to put you in the mood to dance the night away!
Nestled at the foot of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State is Port Angeles, a picturesque town known by many as the Gateway to Olympic National Park. Visitors and residents alike appreciate the natural, serene environment that combines the evergreen mountain air with fresh, salty seawater from the Strait of Juan de Fuca truly making this destination a breath of fresh air.
(Photo via Port Angeles Downtown)
What you may not know is the Olympic Peninsula is also home to at least 8 wineries open to the public. In other words, you can ski or hike Hurricane Ridge in the morning and enjoy a glass of wine at Camaraderie Cellars in the afternoon! Or, if you’re up for it, take a long weekend and visit all 8 wineries!
Port Angeles is home to Harbinger Winery, Camaraderie Cellars, Black Diamond Winery, and Olympic Cellars. Located an hour east is Port Townsend, known for its restored Victorian homes and beautiful downtown. There you’ll find Eaglemount Wine & Cider, Sorensen Cellars, FairWinds Winery, and Finnriver Farm & Cidery.
We personally recommend a visit to Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles and Sorenson Cellars in Port Townsend. And for fellow cider fans… a visit to Alpenfire Cider (formerly Wildfire Cider), also near Port Townsend, is a definitive MUST.
If you only have 3 days for your wine adventure on the Olympic Peninsula, we suggest spending 2 in Port Angeles and the last day in Port Townsend before heading back to Seattle or your next destination. This will give you an opportunity to do some sightseeing between wineries. Because these are small, family-run wineries, don’t forget to call the wineries ahead of time to be sure they’ll be open during your visit.
Other things to do/see in Port Angeles:
Olympic National Park: Drive up to Hurricane Ridge for stunning views, skiing, or some of the best hiking in Washington State. Pack a picnic lunch, otherwise there’s an overpriced cafeteria that sells hamburgers, fries, and soup.
Lake Crescent: Also part of Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent lies about 18 miles west of Port Angeles. This lake is another great place for hiking or taking in the natural beauty of Washington State. Check out the Lake Crescent Lodge or The Log Cabin Resort if you’re interested in spending more time in the area. In the summertime, this is a popular swim spot for locals.
Salt Creek State Park: Whether you’re into camping or just want to explore the tide pools, this is a fun family-friendly spot where the kids can roam free.
Great eats in Port Angeles:
Michael’s Seafood & Steakhouse: One of the best restaurants in Port Angeles, Michael offers a gourmet selections and a great Happy Hour menu from 4-6pm daily. The Gnocchi and Baked Brie are personal favorites. As a bonus, there’s local wine on the list! This is always a great option if you can’t make it to a winery but really want to taste the fruits of their labor.
Toga’s Soup House: Once a fancy reservations-only restaurant perfect for an intimate dinner, Toga’s has reinvented itself as a popular lunch spot for soups, salads, and sandwiches. If you’re headed to Camaraderie Cellars, this is a great stopping point along the way.
Frugals: If you’re in the mood for a burger and fries to-go, Frugals is a small retro double drive-in fast food joint that has been an institution in Port Angeles since… well, forever. Their milkshakes are very popular, so check the flavor of the month!
Port Townsend recommendations:
(photo via Puget Sound Express)
The Rose Theater: This unique independent cinema is a must-see if you love beautiful theaters and foreign films. The popcorn is delicious and you can grab a glass of wine!
Fort Worden: A state park and conference center perfect for walks along the two-mile shore line. A lot of weekend art workshops are hosted here, so check local listings for dates.
Great eats in Port Townsend:
The Pizza Factory: This is where you’ll find the best pizza on the Olympic Peninsula. Grab a slice and people watch from a bench on the street.
Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar: Is a description really necessary? The menu is great (pasta, lamb, seafood), but just remember the wine bar doesn’t open until 4pm. It’s also a nice place to hit up for appetizers and a glass of vino before a movie.
Port Angeles is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. Or, get there in 20 minutes with a direct flight from Boeing Field with Kenmore Air.
And now off to walk the plank to pop open a bottle of Pirate’s Plank Bone Dry from Alpenfire Cider! I challenge you to find a cider that we’d enjoy more…