On the back roads of Santa Barbara County, over San Marcos Pass and down a side road named, appropriately, Stagecoach Road, lies a piece of Old West history.  Preserved and yet polished, Cold Springs Tavern was originally a stagecoach rest stop on the lonely road from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but is now a destination for delicious food, drink and live music. Taking a turn off the modern 4-lane concrete highway 154 that snakes from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos, Stagecoach Road gets smaller and begins to wind around the hills like the original stagecoach road it was.  At the bottom of the arroyo, it winds by a collection of buildings dating from the 1860s, which have been maintained to look much like they did at that time.  The road was completed in 1870 and in use up until 1901. We try to visit Cold Springs every time we’re in the area, as there’s just nothing…Continue Reading
Looking for a fantastic resort in Taos, New Mexico?  El Monte Sagrado is the perfect place!  The resort is only 3 blocks from Taos Plaza, but feels so private and peaceful.  From the moment we arrived, we felt relaxed and everything was taken care of. The staff at El Monte Sagrado welcomed us and invited us to sit down in the reception area while they checked us into our room.  We were offered a drink and they answered any questions we had about the property.  They were ready to help with any activity or plan we wanted to make. Our suite was perfect and spacious: a quiet 2 bedroom suite with a large living room/dining room area and a private back patio.  We were there in between the winter and summer seasons, so it was rather quiet.  It was one of their international suites, designed in a Japanese style.  El Monte…Continue Reading
Intertidal Wonders touch pools
Whenever we visit Santa Barbara, we never miss an opportunity to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.   Located on Stearns Wharf, what this sea center may lack in size it makes up for in quality. Upon entering the exhibits kids can look at and crawl through a 1,500-gallon tidepool tank.  It’s up close and beautiful, filled with local creatures. Our twins loved the Shark Cove exhibit where they were invited to gently touch coastal sharks and rays.  They were fascinated by the baby sharks, which can be seen inside their translucent eggs. At the Intertidal Wonders exhibit, you can touch and feel sea anemones, starfish and hermit crabs.  Trained naturalists stand by to engage and answer questions.  Our boys really enjoyed this hands-on experience. Our teen was quick to head upstairs to the dimly lit and beautiful “Jellies & Friends” exhibit.  Black lights glow through tanks full of these gorgeous creatures as they move slowly through the…Continue Reading
Santa Barbara must be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.  We love the Spanish revival architecture, beaches lined with palm trees, amazing cuisine, and of course the laid-back California vibe.  We lived in Santa Barbara in the 1990s and we still have family there, so we get to return regularly.  It’s always exciting to visit and so very hard to leave. We spent a week there this winter, which is out of the peak tourist season in summer, but the weather was very moderate.  There were no crowds and getting into restaurants was easy. We stayed at The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, which is a wonderful family (and pet) friendly hotel.  Located across the street from the beach and within walking distance from the pier, it’s in a perfect spot.  The resort has some great restaurants and relaxing pools! ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]  Running through the middle of Santa…Continue Reading
Nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa is a gem of a hotel.  Built in 1865, the Grand Resort operated as a hotel for 122 years, but had fallen into disrepair in the 1980s.  In 1998 it was purchased out of bankruptcy and completely remodeled by 2002 as a 4 star destination hotel and spa.  We spent 4 glorious days at the Mountain View Grand Resort and our only disappointment was that we were unable to stay longer.  It’s a very special place.     ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]   The Resort is situated on a rise in the middle of a valley near the town of Whitefield, NH, with unobstructed views of the White Mountains, including Mt. Washington.  The grounds are gorgeous! ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]   The resort offers plush, spacious rooms, with modern appointments and excellent room service.  Our family of 5…Continue Reading
There is no shortage of great places to eat in Houston and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Whether you want Texas BBQ, pizza, Indian, tacos or a burger, Houston has it all. Here are some of our favorite cheap eats: Little Bigs Sliders (4621 Montrose Blvd) They serve the “Trio”, which is 3 signature sliders, which you can mix and match, for $6.99.  We loved the ground beef, the Carolina pulled pork and the black bean slider.  The chili cheese hot dog slider was out of this world!  Great fries, too.  The kids can’t stop talking about the milkshakes. ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]  The Pit Room BBQ (1201 Richmond Ave) Texas BBQ is a culinary category all to itself, and The Pit Room is a fine example of how good it can be.  Smoked brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, chicken, and 3 types of sausage:…Continue Reading
This week thousands will be traveling to Houston for Superbowl Sunday, but there is so much more to Houston than football. Our family loves art and museums, and Houston has a lot to offer visitors. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in the Bayou City! Visit the Houston Museum District Southwest of downtown you will find Houston’s museum district, which is an association of 20 museums, galleries and cultural centers. Some of the highlights include the Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Museum of Fine Arts and The Houston Museum of Contemporary Art.  Its tree-lined streets are easily walkable, with restaurants, cafés and several parks. ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″] Our favorite museum in Houston is the Museum of Natural Science. It features an IMAX, a planetarium, a butterfly hall and a fantastic array of exhibits. Right now their exhibits include: Mummies of the World, Amber Secrets: Feathers from the Age…Continue Reading
While on our cross-country road trip from California to Florida, we took a detour north to visit Montgomery, Alabama, the site of several important events in the struggle for civil rights in America.  We feel it is important for every American child to learn this history, and we wanted to take the opportunity for our children to see it in person. Home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery is the capital of Alabama, and for a short period was the capital of the Confederacy in 1861. Montgomery was where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, leading to a court case and sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, demanding an end to bus segregation.  The Freedom Riders were attacked by white supremacists at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery in May 1961, which brought the cause of desegregation and civil rights to national attention.  In…Continue Reading
One of our favorite things to do in Los Angeles is visit the LA County Museum of Art, or LACMA.  So when we arrived in LA, we decided to take the boys to LACMA, and we were pleasantly surprised to find an exhibit featuring one of our favorite movie directors: Guillermo del Toro, of Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak fame. Wall-size photo of Guillermo Del Toro’s home, Bleak House Entitled “Monsters at Home”, the exhibit is an ode to creepy and scary in all its forms.  Del Toro has been collecting movie props, costumes, paintings, books, artwork, and more for many years, and turned his LA home (“Bleak House’) into a sort of museum for them all, pictured above in a wall-size photo that Miles is standing in front of. Character from Pan’s Labyrinth Someone at LACMA saw this remarkable collection, and together with del Toro they designed a museum show to share…Continue Reading
castillo de san marcos
You might think that the oldest masonry fort in America would be somewhere in the Northeast United States, but it’s actually a Spanish fort in Florida: El Castillo de San Marcos, constructed in 1672 to protect the critical Spanish port city of St. Augustine, itself the oldest city in America, dating back to 1565. And what a fort it is!  The Spanish built it out of a local stone called cocina, which is a sedimentary rock made up of compressed seashells.  It was available locally and easier to cut and shape than regular stone, and it turned out to have a unique defensive benefit: when cannonballs hit the fort, they bounced off, rather than absorbing the impact like stone and shattering. Repeated attacks by the British did little to damage the fort, while the defenders would simply bide their time and take carefully aimed shots at the attacking ships.  Unique among forts in the…Continue Reading