Friday, October 30, 2015

Great Sleeps: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado Island, California


Hotel del Coronado  1500 Orange Ave., 7 mi. from downtown San Diego, (800) HOTEL-DEL, (619) 435-6611.  2 outdoor pools; hot tub; 3 ocean-front tennis courts; oceanfront health spa & fitness center.  5 restaurants.  This all-wood, Queen Anne-style luxury oceanfront hotel is situated on 31 oceanfront acres and is the largest beach resort on the Pacific Coast.  Built in 1888, it is both a state and National Historic Landmark.  Your jaw might drop when you see the main building, with its Victorian gingerbread architecture dripping with turrets, cupolas, and hand-carved pillars, not to mention the sprawling grounds lined with palm trees and dotted with topiaries.  With the varied height of its red roofline and its striking whitewashed walls, it is quite a visual delight.  Almost 700 guest rooms are available in both the original structure and in several newer 7-story towers.  Counted among its restaurants is Sunday brunch served under the magnificent 33-foot-high rib-vaulted pine ceiling of the Crown Room.  Don’t miss it.  The Del has been visited by 12 U.S. presidents.  Author L. Frank Baum is said to have modeled the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz after its appearance when brightly lit at night, and it has been featured in many movies, most notably Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe.  Did I mention the hotel is right on the beach, where kids can frolic endlessly and attempt to replicate it as a sand castle (currently an artist does this every day).  This wide public beach has to be one of the world’s best.  Lifeguards are at their posts, and everyone is having a great time.   Last time I visited, the sand shimmered with gold, but the waves hid little manta rays that were busy stinging waders.  Bicycles are available for rent, allowing you to explore the island’s 15-mile dedicated bike path.  A special kids programs is available for ages 4 through 12, and teens can take kayaking and surfing lessons. 

This exceptional hotel is a must-see, even if you don’t stay here.  Consider signing up for the Hotel del Coronado Tour (M, W, F 10.30am, Sat-Sun 2pm.  Reservations required. $15.)  It runs 90 minutes and is led by docents from the Coronado Historical Association. 

Or visit right now by webcam


beach at Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego, California


beach at Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego, California


sandcastle at Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego, California


vintage elevator in lobby of Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego, California
vintage elevator in Hotel del Coronado lobby

More things to do on Coronado Island.

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.
  
images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Great Sleeps: El Cordova Hotel, Coronado Island, California


El Cordova Hotel   1351 Orange Ave., 1 blk. to beach, (800) 229-2032, (619) 435-4131.  42 rooms; 2 stories.  3 restaurants.  Pool; hot tub.  Continental breakfast.  Well located directly across the street from the mega Coronado Hotel, this sleepy cousin resembles something you might see in a Mexican village.  A strip of shops along the front welcomes you with enticing wares spilling out onto the sidewalk.  The atmospheric touches at this 114-year-old property include hacienda-style architecture and a courtyard abloom with colorful flowers.

swimming pool at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California

Rooms mostly surround the pool and feature hand-painted Mexican tiles and heavy carved-wood furniture.

guest room at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California

guest bathroom at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California

The lobby is particularly inviting, with plenty of seating, fresh cold water, and hot drinks always available, and the shopping and restaurants of Coronado’s main street are just steps away.

lobby at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California


lobby at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California

Though under separate ownership, three restaurants operate within the hotel:
Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar  1333 Orange Ave., (619) 435-4166.  Featuring an upscale traditional seafood menu and a casual atmosphere, this spot serves everything from fresh oysters to ahi poke wonton tacos to fish & chips.  A large cocktail menu is available along with wine and beer. 

Fabrison's French Creperie and Cafe  1120 Adella Ave./Orange Ave., (619) 435-1322.  M-F 8am-8pm, Sat 8:30-8, Sun 8:30-3.  Fabrice and Alison (thus the name, Fabrison's) met in a meditation class in San Diego. He is from Marseille, France, and she is from Columbus, Ohio.  Crepe both sweet and savory are among the choices in their warm European-style cafe, and the hotel’s front desk can provide a discount coupon. 

Miguel's Cocina  1351 Orange Ave., 619-437-4237. B M-F, Sat-SunBr, L-D daily; $-$$.  No reservations.  This location is the original cog in a local chain known for a fun and festive atmosphere.  Dining is in a warren of rooms plus outside in a delightful courtyard reminiscent of colonial Mexico--the place to be on a warm evening.  Delicious complimentary chips include regular red tomato salsa plus a jalapeno white sauce that it is famous for.  The menu offers traditional Mexican fare plus a variety of excellent margaritas that are, fortunately, available by the pitcher.  
Miguel's Cocina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


margaritas at Miguel's Cocina at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California


queso at Miguel's Cocina at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California


flautas at Miguel's Cocina at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California


enchiladas verde at Miguel's Cocina at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California


fish tacos at Miguel's Cocina at El Cordova Hotel on Coronado Island, California

More things to do on Coronado Island.

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, October 26, 2015

Things to Do: DISCOVERY Children's Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada


DISCOVERY Children's Museum  360 Promenade Pl., (702) 382-3445.  Closed M.  $14.50, under 1 & 100+ free.  Aimed at children up to age 12 and their families, this happy 3-story  museum has more than 100 interactive hands-on exhibits that mostly are related to Nevada.  Water World centers on Hoover Dam.  Kids find out how water produces power, operate a kid-generated tornado, plus enjoy some water-play fun.  Toddler Town has a padded “crawl zone” for age 18 months and younger and a mining exhibit that encourages two players to cooperate.  Fantasy Festival features a two-level pirate ship, a medieval castle, and a stage with props and costumes that encourage dramatic exploration and creative play.  And The Summit tower punches through all three floors as well as the roof.  Everyone has a blast sliding and climbing through its spaces while painlessly being exposed to interactive science exhibits.  And there is way more!  Bring a lunch and plan to stay a while.  Note that there is no cafe, though vending machines dispense drinks and snacks.  

exterior of DISCOVERY Children's Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

train play at DISCOVERY Children's Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada



More things to do in Las Vegas.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images and video ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, October 23, 2015

Things to Do: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii


‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii  600 ‘Imiloa Place, 1½ mi. W of downtown Hilo, (808) 969-9700.  Tu-Sun 9-5.  $17.50, seniors $15.50, 5-12 $9.50.  Opened in February of 2006, this is the newest and largest of Hawaii’s three planetariums.  The center takes its name from “ `imiloa,” the Hawaiian word that means “explorer” or “seeker of profound truth.”  Located above the University of Hawaii-Hilo and featuring spectacular views of Hilo Bay, its dramatic titanium-clad exterior features three metallic cones piercing the exterior roof line—they are meant as an abstraction of the island’s three volcanoes (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai) but also unintentionally bring to mind Madonna’s famous bra.  The full dome planetarium is among the most technologically advanced in the U.S., and the display hall holds nearly 100 exhibits.  The planetarium boasts a state-of-the-art digital theater system with six-channel surround sound and an interactive console at each seat.  The show, “Maunakea:  Between Earth and Sky,” is a 22- minutes talk-story film about the island’s birth.  Among the things we learn are that having observatories on Hawaii’s loftiest sacred summit is controversial, and that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the earth’s beaches.  Simple fun is added at the conclusion with trips into a blackhole and along the surface of a mobius strip. 

Visitors enter the exhibit hall through a simulated koa forest.  All displays are explained in both English and Hawaiian.  A reproduction of Mauna Kea shows the location of sacred Lake Wai’au, where some locals still make a pilgrimage to place their baby’s umbilical cord as acknowledgement of their origin.  A multimedia theater presents the Kumulipo Hawaiian Chant of Origins, which chronicles the birth of life as it emerges from the dark sea and features fish “swimming” right off the screen.  With hands-on exhibits that are both educational and intriguing and that encourage exploration of space, the main exhibit hall explains the origins of the universe.  Among the gems in the ocean of exhibits and charts here are Astronomical Origins, which lets visitors step inside a silo to be scanned and learn the history of an atom inside their body, and Sampan Taxi, which takes you on a robot-guided tour to Pluto.  Finally, the 3-D show “Voyage Through Space” takes you back in time to the Big Bang origins of the universe; the computer simulation is based on real output from the Subaru Telescope.  

Visitors can also stroll through the center’s surrounding gardens--one of the largest and most diverse collections of native Hawaiian and “canoe” plants (vegetation brought by early Polynesian navigators) found in the islands. 

The bay-view Sky Garden Restaurant serves hearty artisan bread sandwiches and soups along with pizzas, salads, and hot entrées.  It also features 100-percent Hawaiian coffee, smoothies, and shakes. 


exterior of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii in Hilo


lobby floor mosaic at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii in Hilo


exhibit at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii in Hilo


More things to do on the Big Island.

More things to do in Hawaii.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Great Sleeps: Palms Cliff House, Honomu, Big Island, Hawaii


Palms Cliff House  28-3514 Mamalahoa Hwy. (Hwy. 19), in Honomu, 13 mi. N of downtown Hilo, (866) 963-6076, (808) 963-6076.  Hot tub.  This secluded property is situated back from the highway on a cliff overlooking Pohakumanu Bay.  The luxury suites were added off the owner’s Victorian Hawaiian Plantation-style house in 2001; each has an ocean view and private entrance.  A full breakfast featuring fresh fruit from the property’s orchard —perhaps fluffy pancakes flavored with diminutive apple bananas or fresh papaya stuffed with perfectly ripe star fruit--is served on a large, draped, open-air pavilion overlooking the bay.  There, pods of spinner dolphins and both humpback and pilot whales are sometimes seen, and the rare long-tailed koae’kea bird nests in the cliffs.  Alternatively a continental breakfast can be brought to the room.  The pleasant and efficient staff dress in atmospheric aloha wear and often don the artistic designs of local Sig Zane, who has a lovely ocean-view shop in Hilo (the owners present staff with a wearable Zane gift each Christmas).  Rooms are all immaculate and spacious, with flick-on gas fireplaces framed by antique carved Italian-white-marble mantles and king-size beds made up with soft, high-thread-count cotton sheets made in Italy just for the inn.  All rooms have a private lanai, and the area is safe enough to allow keeping the sliding deck door open to the soft air and sounds of the surf even on the lower level.  Ground level rooms look out to sea over big-leafed ti plants, while those on the upper level have more unobstructed views.  The upstairs Paradise Views room is considered the best because of its spectacular view.  Décor varies.  The downstairs Orchard Suite has a tasteful tropical feel, with just a touch of whimsy in the form of a monkey clock and a floor lamp with pineapple-based lights.  Rooms on the lower level are cooled adequately by ceiling fans, while those on the upper level also have the option of air conditioning.  Each bathroom is tiled in a different type of shiny-smooth Italian marble.  Four suites have Jacuzzis big enough for two in a raised alcove in the room, also with a view.  Honomu town--with super-casual cafes and a few boutiques--and Akaka Falls are nearby.  


Palms Cliff House in Honomu, Big Island, Hawaii


breakfast at Palms Cliff House in Honomu, Big Island, Hawaii


More things to do on the Big Island.

More things to do in Hawaii.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sights to See: The Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada


The Neon Museum  770 Las Vegas Blvd. North, (702) 387-NEON.  $18-$25, under 6 free.  Most of the rusty old signs in the outdoors “Boneyard” collection here date from the 1930s on and are unrestored.  Pigeons hang among the artifacts, and flitter around as you walk over the stone-lined gravel path on an informative guided tour into the deep history of these rescued landmark signs that are described informally as “Jetson California, fast food style, coffee shop modern from the ‘50s and ‘60s.”  When the Stardust casino opened in 1959, it was the largest casino in the world.  Now little remains of that casino save the neon sign stored here.  The original lamp from the Aladdin is also here.  Seven signs light up and can be seen on night tours; the others are lit from below by light cans.  It is interesting to know that although this is the neon museum, the sign used to mark the museum in front is all LED due to city policy.  

sign for The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada


path at The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada
 
Stardust casino sign at The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

Lady Luck casino sign at The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

Mullett Man at The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

More things to do in Las Vegas.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Travel Articles: Death Valley National Park


Three nights with two full days of sightseeing is an adequate visit to Death Valley.  One or two more days is better if you want to slow down and take it easy.  Fewer days just isn't enough to experience the valley.  And it's good to remember that it is so far in and so far out and so hard to reach that, most likely, you'll never get this way again.  More . . .

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park in California


More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Good Eats: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Canada


The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise  111 Lake Louise Dr., Lake Louise, (866) 540-4413.  Sleigh rides mid-December through early April.  Situated within Banff National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this exquisitely positioned grand hotel on scenic Lake Louise provides guests with pleasures galore.  Perhaps my favorite is Afternoon Tea in the Lakeview Lounge, with pastries, finger sandwiches, and a view of the lake and Victoria Glacier.  In winter, guests are picked up at the hotel for a draft horse-drawn sleigh ride along a lakeside trail featuring spectacular mountain scenery.  The one-hour excursions are available in both day and evening.  Note that you do not need to be an overnight guest to enjoy these special facilities. 

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

trail around the lake in front of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

More things to do in Canada.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Things to Do: ElephantStay, Ayutthaya, Thailand


ElephantStay  74/1 M.3 Tumbol Suanpik Pra Nakhon Sri.  Started 17 years ago, this innovative working elephant village is dedicated to conserving these animals.  The program here involves caring for and learning about elephants, and the facility has had 40 births in 10 years.  I got to feed the elephants, watch the babies playing in their bathtubs, and see mature elephants painting.  


baby elephants bathing at ElephantStay village in Ayutthaya, Thailand


baby elephants bathing at ElephantStay village in Ayutthaya, Thailand


feeding elephants at ElephantStay village in Ayutthaya, Thailand


elephants in river at ElephantStay village in Ayutthaya, Thailand



More things to see and do in Thailand.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images and video ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers