October 31, 2014

NYC--Queens--Flushing: New World Food Court; restaurant review

New World Food Court  136-20 Roosevelt Ave., basement level, in New World Mall, (718) 353-0551.  Cash only in some places.

New World Food Court in Flushing, Queens, New York

This amazing and inexpensive food court has everything Asian.  I recommend that you walk around the perimeter and check out the various stalls before you decide.  It is a huge, noisy open space and is both exciting and overwhelming.  I saw someone hand-pulling noodles and the biggest bowl of noodles ever.

T Baar in New World Food Court in Flushing, Queens, New York

Unfortunately, I had just eaten before my visit so I had room only for a coconut milk boba tea at T Baar.

New World Mall Food Court Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Queens.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 29, 2014

NYC--Queens--Flushing: Happy Buddha; restaurant review

Happy Buddha  135-37 37th Ave., Flushing, (718) 358-0079.  L-D daily; $. 

With a simple, clean interior, and an all-vegetarian and kosher menu, this pleasant place pleases with an amazing dim sum menu and extensive general menu.  We tried almost half the dim sum offerings, and there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.  Our list included:

hot & sour soup at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
hot & sour soup

Indian Bread with curry potato sauce at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
Indian bread with curry potato sauce

steamed sicky rice Shiu Mai at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
steamed sticky rice Shiu Mai

sweet tapioca dumplings at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
sweet tapioca dumplings

fried taro custard at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
fried taro custard

sesame rice roll at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
sesame rice roll

vege roast pork bun at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
vege roast pork bun

spinach rice roll at Happy Buddha in Flushing, Queens, New York
spinach rice roll

I can’t wait to return.

Happy Buddha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Queens.

More vegan-vegetarian places.  

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 27, 2014

San Diego, California: Balboa Park part 4--San Diego Zoo; things to do


SAN DIEGO ZOO  2920 Zoo Dr., (619) 231-1515.  Opens at 9; closing hours vary, in summer 9-8.  $46, 3-11 $36; price includes guided bus tour, express bus, and Skyfari aerial tram.  Free parking. 

The city's most popular attraction, this famous zoo is known for its large, diverse, and rare collection of animals--most of which are housed in attractive habitat enclosures.

giant panda in tree at San Diego Zoo in California

It is home to almost 4,000 rare and exotic animals, including giant pandas from China, koalas from Australia, pygmy chimpanzees from Central Africa, and Komodo dragons from Indonesia.  Natural habitats include Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest, and Tiger River--a 3-acre simulated ecosystem in which you’ll walk along pathways past plants and animals living much as they would in their natural habitat.  Your kids will go ape at Polar Bear Plunge and at the swimming hippo exhibit in Ituri Forest, where those animals can be viewed swimming under water.  The Owens Rain Forest Aviary simulates the sights and sounds of a Southeast Asian jungle and gives you a close-up look at more than 200 birds.   This zoo is also a botanical garden with more than 6,500 species represented, including many unusual tropical and subtropical plants and flowers. 

Since it covers 100 acres, it is wise, especially with young children in tow, to begin a visit with the 40-minute bus tour and then return to areas of particular interest.  Note that the line for the sun-exposed upper deck of the bus is much longer than for the more comfortable covered lower deck, which also puts you at eye-level with the animals.  The Skyfari Aerial Tramway will also give your family’s tootsies a rest. 

Be sure to allow time for the kid-pleasing trained seal show and the Children's Zoo, which has ducks running loose for kids to meet and features a popular animal petting area.  For a fabulous souvenir, let your kids pick out a favorite animal in stuffed format.  A zoo coloring book is a good choice, too.  Buy desired items when you see them at the small gift stands spread throughout the zoo, as the gift shop by the main gate does not stock everything.  If you’re traveling with a baby, note that changing tables are not only provided but are available even in the men’s bathrooms!, so Daddy--you can help out.  Rental strollers are also available.  In summer, the zoo stays open  late, letting you see the nocturnal animals in an active state.  Kids in kindergarten through grade 12 can enroll in special summer day camps.

Watch the giant pandas live via webcam.

BALBOA PARK:  PART 1--attractions
BALBOA PARK:  PART 2--museums
BALBOA PARK:  PART 3--restaurant

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 24, 2014

San Diego, California: Balboa Park part 3--The Prado at Balboa Park; restaurant review


The Prado at Balboa Park  1549 El Prado, in House of Hospitality, (619) 557-9441.  L daily; D Tu-Sun; $-$$$.  Reservations advised. 

It’s hard to believe, but the 1915 buildings holding this colorful restaurant were leveled in 1995, then reconstructed exactly but more solidly.  The well-priced menu is a delicious fusion of Latin and Italian cuisines.  Drinks include sangria, a pisco sour made with a grape liqueur from Chile, a refreshing virgin mojito, and fresh fruit sodas (think white peach or passion fruit).
 tortilla soup at The Prado at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Lunch items include colorful and mildly spicy tortilla soup, a crunchy Asian chopped chicken salad with mango and cabbage, grilled skirt steak, fish tacos, and an assortment of pastas and panini sandwiches.  More substantial entrees are added in the evening.  The children’s puzzle menu includes a grilled cheese sandwich, spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese.

patio at The Prado at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

I like to sit out on the fabulous and inviting open-air patio that surrounds a central fountain and is colorful with umbrellas and flowers.  It is especially inviting when dining en famille and for afternoon refreshment.

Prado Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BALBOA PARK:  PART 1--attractions
BALBOA PARK:  PART 2--museums
BALBOA PARK:  PART 3--restaurant

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 22, 2014

San Diego, California: Balboa Park part 2--museums; sights to see



green mask from Bali at Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Mingei International Museum  1439 El Prado, on the Plaza de Panama, in House of Charm, (619) 239-0003.  Tu-Sun 10-5.  $8; seniors 62+, military, students, & 6-17 $5; Family Sunday on 3rd Sun, $5/family.  Exhibits of folk art, craft, and design from all eras and cultures of the world change regularly.  Displays of dolls and toys, beads, and masks are semi-permanent in that they are sometimes changed out from the museum’s collections.

Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park in San Diego, California
Museum of Photographic Arts  1649 El Prado, in Casa de Balboa, (619) 238-7559, www.balboapark.org/in-the-park/photographic-arts-building.  Tu-Sun 10-5, Thur to 9 pm in summer.  $8, seniors $7, students $6, military & under 13 free.  This is one of the few museums in the world devoted exclusively to photography, film, and video.  Exhibits change frequently.  Seeing the world through the eyes of master photographers might inspire you to go out and do it yourself, the way you see it.  The museum bookstore has one of the largest collections of photography books anywhere.

Museum of San Diego History  This museum documents the heritage of San Diego and its people. 

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center  1875 El Prado, (619) 238-1233.  M-Thur 10-5, F-Sun 10-6.  $13, 65+ $12, & 3-12 $11, IMAX additional.  The Science Center--a mini version of San Francisco's Exploratorium--promises you and your kids an out-of-this-world experience.  There are no velvet ropes or “do not touch” signs here, but there are plenty of hands-on exhibits demonstrating physical principles.  Take ages 2 through 6 to the Little Learners’ Lab for pint-sized learning.  An IMAX theater and SciTours simulator ride round out the science fun.  Pepper Grove Playground is located just south of the center and is a great place for a picnic.  www.balboapark.org/in-the-park/pepper-grove-playground

San Diego Air & Space Museum  2001 Pan American Plaza, (619) 234-8291 x100.  Daily 10-4:30.  $18, 65+ $15, 3-11 $7.  Little boys, big boys, and many girls of all ages are going to get pretty excited when they see this gigantic museum that documents the history of powered flight and displays full-size planes.  The hangar-like space is packed with more than 65 U.S. and foreign aircraft.  They hang from the rafters, and they are parked on the floor.  A Spad, a Nieuport, and an Albatros fighter plane from World War I are part of the collection, as are a Spitfire, Zero and Hellcat from World War II.   Kids find the helicopter with a turning blade especially thrilling.  And all the while, jets are flying low overhead as they take off and land at the nearby San Diego Airport, adding realistic sound effects.

San Diego Art Institute/Museum of the Living Artist  1439 El Prado, in House of Charm, (619) 236-0011.  Tu-Sat 10-4, Sun 12-4.  $3, seniors $2, under 12 free.  This museum displays the work of local artists.  Its David Fleet Young Artists Gallery is devoted to showing the work of students in the region.

San Diego Automotive Museum  2080 Pan American Plaza, (619) 231-AUTO.  Daily 10-5.  $8, 65+ $6, 6-15 $4; free on Tu 10-4.  This welcoming museum says, “Kids love cars.  Come see ours.”  Take them up on it, and you’ll take a trip through automotive history--the horseless carriages of the 1920s, the cruisers of the ‘50s, and one of the largest motorcycle collections on the West Coast. 

San Diego Hall of Champions  2131 Pan American Plaza, (619) 234-2544.  Daily 10-4:30.  $8, 3-17 $5.  The ultra modern industrial interior here resembles a Nike store.  The museum honors local athletes—who were either born in San Diego or made their mark here (notables include baseball legends Tony Gwynn and Ted Williams)--and is filled with sports-related exhibits, including some hands-on fun for kids.  The White Glove Archive Tour lets children touch sports artifacts, and the whole family will probably find the evolution of football helmets intriguing. 

San Diego History Center  1649 El Prado, in Casa de Balboa, (619) 232-6203.  Daily 10 am-5 pm.  $8; 65+, military and students $6; 6-17 $4.  This features artifacts, costumes, textiles, art, furniture, and photographs of San Diego from its infancy on.  The research library contains extensive local historical resources, including the largest photograph collection in the western U.S. (it has more than 2.5 million images).

San Diego Model Railroad Museumin Balboa Park in San Diego, California

San Diego Model Railroad Museum  1649 El Prado, in Casa de Balboa, (619) 696-0199.  Tu-F 11-4, Sat-Sun 11-5.  $8, 65+ $6, 6-14 $1.  This subterranean museum is the largest permanent operating model railroad exhibit in North America.  Hundreds of volunteers have spent countless hours constructing the displays highlighting various model railroad scales, and they also are on hand to operate them.  The cooling air-conditioning is a huge relief on warm days.  Kids’ eyes will pop out when they see the gigantic central layout and moving trains, and they’ll go positively bananas when they find the buttons that let them operate some of the features.  The gift shop has the perfect souvenirs, including striped conductor caps--you might want to stop in here first and get outfitted for your visit--and trendy Thomas trains.  If you want to see the layouts being built, enter through the back door on Tuesday or Friday nights to watch the volunteers at work.

The San Diego Museum of Art  1450 El Prado, (619) 232-7931.  M-Tu & Thur-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5.  $12, 65+ $9, 7-17 $4.50.  Located inside a building with an ornate 16th-century Spanish-style facade, this collection includes ancient Egyptian pieces, old masters, and modern artists.  Asian art, sometimes including a 16th-century Japanese suit of armor that appeals to kids, is also well represented in rotating exhibits.  Sunday Family Days are scheduled throughout the year. 

San Diego Museum of Man  1350 El Prado, (619) 239-2001.  Thur-Sat 10-4:30, Sun-Wed 10-5.  $12.50, 62+ $10, 13-17 $8, 3-12 $6.  Featuring anthropological displays and local history exhibits, this museum has an assortment of displays that are particularly appealing to children:  a cheerily-tiled tortilla kitchen, where Wednesday through Sunday you can sample the product for a small fee; a band of skeleton mariachis; a large wooden puzzle of the 31 states of Mexico.  Kids also enjoy the Bigfoot exhibit, Mummy exhibit, and The Children’s Discovery Center with its variety of hands-on activities.  The museum's ornate exterior Spanish-colonial-style tower is a symbol of the city and stood in for Xanadu in Orson Welles' movie Citizen Kane.

San Diego Natural History Museum  1788 El Prado, (619) 232-3821.  Daily 10-5.  $17, 62+ $15, 13-17 $12, 3-12 $11.  Though a museum that opened over 125 years ago might sound stuffy, this one isn’t.  It is particularly appealing to children, with innovative exhibits on the area's animal and plant life as well as the more traditional dinosaur skeletons and a fascinating Foucault pendulum.  Many exhibits invite kids to get involved and to touch a variety of artifacts.  You enter the Rocks and Minerals room through a faux mine tunnel, and once there see plenty of big rock samples that kids can handle.  Stuffed birds and animals are in creative exhibits in the Desert Ecology area, and many exhibit windows are at a preschooler’s eye-level.  The gift shop is filled with stones and bugs and things kids love, including lollipops with worms in them.  Call for information on family programs and children’s classes. 

Timken Museum of Art  1500 El Prado, (619) 239-5548.  Tu-Sat 10-4:30, Sun 12-4:30.  Free.  This small collection consists of European Old Masters, 18th- and 19th-century American paintings, and Russian icons. 

Veterans Museum and Memorial Center  Park Blvd./Inspiration Pt., (619) 239-2300.  Tu-Sun 10-4.  Free.  Occupying the former chapel of the old Naval Hospital Complex, this center honors the memories of men and women who served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Museum artifacts date back to the Civil War.  Just east of the center is the Vietnam Peace Memorial, which was relocated to this site from Old Town San Diego in the 1990s.

BALBOA PARK:  PART 1--attractions
BALBOA PARK:  PART 2--museums
BALBOA PARK:  PART 3--restaurant

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 20, 2014

San Diego, California: Balboa Park part 1--attractions; things to do


Sixth Ave. on the west, 28th St. on the east, Upas St. on the north, Russ Blvd. on the south, (619) 239-0512.

central Balboa Park in San Dieto, California

Balboa Park Visitors Center  1549 El Prado, 619-239-0512.  Get oriented here.  An assortment of free guided walking tours  www.balboapark.org/visit/tours  address the park's architectural heritage, history, and botanical treasures.
    You'll need to spend several days or more to see everything in this magnificent 1,200-acre recreational wonderland. Larger than New York's Central Park and older than San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Balboa Park is the largest museum complex west of the Mississippi and San Diego’s crown jewel. 
    In addition to the famous zoo, this fabulous park is also home to a host of fascinating museums, most of which are found along the Prado--a sort of Museum Row with lovely Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture.  Note that most are closed on Monday, and all have a free admission day each month.  To avoid getting museumed out, punctuate your gallery-going with garden-strolling.  One of the park’s great free pleasures is hearing the central bell tower peal out the hour. 

Balboa Park Carousel  Daily 11-5; Sept-May, Sat-Sun.  $2.  You can ride hand-carved animals on this 1910 merry-go-round (the cats are my personal favorite), and you can also still grab for the proverbial brass ring . . . which in this case wins you a free ride. 

Balboa Park Miniature Railroad  Daily 11-6:30, Sept-May Sat-Sun 11-4:30.  $2.  Children especially enjoy riding this vintage train.

Botanical Building in Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Botanical Building  F-W 10-4.  Free.  This grand old building, measuring 250 feet long by 75 feet wide by 60 feet tall, was the largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915.  It houses more than 2,100 tropical plants along with a changing display of seasonal flowers.  Out front, the gorgeous reflecting pond filled with lilies, koi of all colors, crawfish, and turtles attracts kids like a magnet, and they get mighty excited when they spot a few ducks doing a dive-bomb landing in front of them. 

House of Pacific Relations International Cottages  Sun 12-4. 
Interesting informal exhibits depict the traditions and customs of an assortment of foreign countries within this cluster of cottages.

koi in Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Japanese Friendship Garden  Daily 10-4:30.  $6, 65+ $5, under 7 free.  No pets.  Originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, this garden symbolizes the friendship between San Diego and its sister city Yokohama in Japan.  You can see an overview from the outside sidewalk at the Tea Pavilion.  The sights in the relatively small garden—it contains a peaceful Zen stone garden, a crystal-clear koi pond filled with priceless fish, a display of old bonsai—are connected by a pleasant strolling path.  Construction is under way for a large expansion in the canyon. 
    Just outside the entrance, the inexpensive and informal Tea Pavilion serves traditional Japanese green tea as well as herbal and specialty teas, along with a menu of sushi, noodles, rice bowls, and salads.  Unusual imported foods, beverages, and gift items are also available for purchase.

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater  W-Sun at 11, 1, & 2:30.  $5, seniors $4.  Younger children especially enjoy the shows presented here.

Moreton Bay fig tree  This immense tree was planted in preparation for the 1915 exposition.

Old Globe Theatre  Year-round.  Shakespearean and other classical works are presented in this three-theater complex.

Palm Canyon in Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Palm Canyon  Daily.  Free.  Don’t miss the chance to see 450 different kinds of palms together in one spot.  An original group of Mexican fan palms date back to the early 1900s. 

Spanish Village Art Center  Daily 11-4.  In this warren of interesting craft shops, artists work in residence and demonstrate their skills. 

Spreckles Organ Pavilion  Free concerts are presented on the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, which has 4,518 pipes and weighs nearly 100,000 pounds. 

Starlight Bowl  June-Sept.  This outdoor amphitheater is the setting for musicals, concerts, and plays--think The Sound of Music and Hello, Dolly!.  It is directly under the flight path of the international airport, so actors have learned to pause when a plane flies over.

street performers  They entertain in El Prado, the central plaza area.  Sun at 2.

United Nations Building  Daily 10-4:30.  The United Nations Building houses the United Nations Association of San Diego, the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Classroom, and the International Gift Shop, which helps fund the building through sales of unique world handicrafts that includes jewelry, books, toys, and world music.

BALBOA PARK:  PART 1--attractions
BALBOA PARK:  PART 2--museums
BALBOA PARK:  PART 3--restaurant

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 17, 2014

Great Sleeps: Wine Valley Inn & Cottages, Solvang, California

Wine Valley Inn & Cottages  1564 Copenhagen Dr., (800) 824-6444, (805) 688- 2111.  65 rooms; 3 stories.  Some gas fireplaces & kitchens.  Fitness room; hot tub; massage room.  Breakfast.  Pets ok.

clock tower at Wine Valley Inn & Cottages in Solvang, California

This inn kept its Old World charm and Danish architecture when it merged from two previously existing lodgings into one.  Located on a quiet back street, it is still close to shops and restaurants a plenty.  It wraps around its landmark clock tower, which had a part in the movie “Psycho,” and when the clock chimes it can be heard throughout the small town.  The quiet grounds are beautifully landscaped with winding paths, a koi pond and waterfall feature, and a secluded hot tub.  From 5 to 9 p.m. daily, wine is available for purchase by the glass and bottle at the lobby lounge; cheese and crackers are complimentary.

guest room at Wine Valley Inn & Cottages in Solvang, California

Each room is unique.  Some connect, some have bunk beds, and a few are specialty rooms.  They do not have phones.  My favorite is #204, which features dramatic Danish architecture and a vaulted ceiling and has steps from the entry down to a bedroom holding two queens.  It can optionally open to room #205, which has bunk beds—making the two rooms perfect for a family.  Several half-timbered cottages that sleep up to six are also available.  Bikes can be rented on site, including surreys and mountain bikes.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan trips. 

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 15, 2014

San Diego, California: Casa Guadalajara; restaurant review

Casa Guadalajara  4105 Taylor St., just outside the Old Town park, (619) 295-5111.  L-D daily; $$.

patio of Casa Guadalajara in San Diego, California

Resembling a Mexican hacienda--with adobe walls, tile floors, and heavy wooden furniture—this comfortable spot offers seating both indoors in an expansive colorful room, and outdoors on a quiet tree-sheltered patio with a soothing fountain and free-flying birds.  Adventuresome palates will want to try unusual items, which include “armadillo eggs” (deep-fried jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese), dishes made with spicy mole sauce, and seafood Mexican-style.

enchalada verde at Casa Guadalajara in San Diego, California

I am fond of the complimentary thin, crispy chips with spicy salsa, and I also favor the tangy enchilada verde.  Margaritas come in styles and sizes galore, but my favorite remains the basic blended lemon-lime.  A children’s coloring menu offers familiar items such as a cheese enchilada and bean burrito.  For dessert, the whole family can easily share a deep-fried ice cream.  Kids might also want to try a churro (a long Mexican donut) or Cup of Mudd (chocolate pudding with crushed Oreo cookies and gummi worms) from the kid’s menu.  Live entertainment is scheduled nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m.

Casa Guadalajara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

colorful kitchen towels at Bazaar del Mundo in San Diego, California

Bazaar del Mundo  4133 Taylor St., (619) 296-3161.  Tu-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun-M 10am-5:30pm.  Across the parking lot from the restaurant, this colorful international marketplace has a large concentration of Mexican and Guatemalan handicrafts. Its jewelry, crafts, and wearable art are from all over the globe.  I couldn’t resist a bright kitchen towel decorated with a Frida Kahlo motif, but your own weakness might be the large and lovely paper flowers.

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 ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 13, 2014

San Diego, California: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park; things to do + hotel review + restaurant review

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park   At intersection of Hwys. 5 & 8.  Located within the six blocks bounded by Taylor, Juan, Twiggs, and Congress sts.  Free admission.  Hours vary for shops and restaurants.  Free parking. 

Considered the “birthplace” of California and the site of the first permanent European settlement on the West Coast, this 12-acre park was the center of town in the mid-1800s.  Kit Carson was among the first pioneers to raise the American flag here in 1846.  The park now houses a pleasant mixture of museum displays, shops (including a working blacksmith shop), and Mexican restaurants, plus five original adobes and a collection of 19th-century homes and businesses give visitors a glimpse into colonial life in San Diego. 

entrance sign to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in San Diego, California

Visitor Information Center and museum  4002 Wallace St., (619) 220-5422.  Daily 10am-4pm.  One-hour ranger-guided tours daily at 11am and 2pm.  Free.  Park information and interesting exhibits are located in the circa 1853 Robinson-Rose House adobe.

The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in San Diego, California

The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception  2540 San Diego Ave., (619) 295-4148.  This still-active church was dedicated in 1919.  Near here, Father Junipero Serra celebrated the first Holy Mass in California on July 2, 1769.  The first parish church was established here in 1849 and is now known as the Old Adobe Chapel (at 3963 Conde Street). 

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel in Old Town State Historic Park

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel  2660 Calhoun St., (619) 297-1874.  10 rooms.  Restaurant.  Dating back to 1827, when it was constructed as a home for San Diego pioneer Juan Bandini, this historically significant building retains many of its original features, including original adobe brick walls, a wood exterior dating back to 1869, and a wrap-around balcony that once served as the perfect place to watch local bullfights.  It is the only hotel located within the park.  Guest rooms are on the second floor, and each is uniquely furnished with antique furniture matching that in the original 1869 manifests.
A popular restaurant and saloon operates on the first floor and features antique and reproduction period furniture, period art, and chandeliers.  The menu features grilled meats, seafood, and Mexican items served al fresco on a beautiful patio or indoorx in the sala.  Drinks are available at San Diego’s oldest saloon bar.  Kids eat free (one per adult).

Mason Street School  3966 Mason St., (916) 653-6995.  Daily 10-4.  Free.  In San Diego’s first schoolhouse, dating from 1865, kids can see what it feels like sitting in an old-time wooden desk. 

The Thomas Whaley House in San Diego State Historic Park

Thomas Whaley House Museum  2476 San Diego Ave., (619) 297-9327.  June-Labor Day, daily 10am-9:30pm; rest of year, Sun-Tu 10am-5pm, Thur-Sat 10am-9:3 pm.  $6, 65+ $5, 3-12 $4; after 5 pm tours are available, adults $10, children $5; after 10pm, private tours are available by reservation for an additional fee.  Constructed in 1857, this very small, classic Greek Revival house was built on a former gallows site and was the first 2-story brick building in San Diego.  Owner Thomas Whaley made the bricks in his own brickyard.  Over the years it has been a granary, the County Court House, San Diego’s first commercial theater, a general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, a school, and a polling place.  It is one of two officially designated haunted houses in California--the other is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose--and reputedly hosts seven ghosts. 

Wells Fargo History Museum  2733 San Diego Ave., (619) 238-3929.  Daily 10am-5pm.  Free.  Kids especially enjoy the seeing a stagecoach and telegraph.

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 ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 6, 2014

Solvang, California: Elverhoj Museum of History & Art; things to do

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art  1624 Elverhoy Way, (805) 686-1211. W-Sun 11-4; closed M-Tu.  By donation.

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art in Solvang, California

Hand constructed by a local artist in the 1950s to resemble a brick farmhouse in Denmark, this converted residence is now a community museum devoted to Danish culture and the Danish-American experience.  It covers the history of Solvang, the colorful heritage of Denmark, and Danish arts.  In addition to answering questions and providing personal tours, docents sometimes demonstrate lacework.  The museum is freshly painted and its beautiful pale pine floors are newly refinished, making this the perfect time for a visit. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan trips. 

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 3, 2014

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii: Historic Rice Mill & Taro Farm Tour; thingns to do + restaurant review

Historic Rice Mill & Taro Farm Tour  (808) 651-3399.  By reservation. 

This tour begins with a lucious little smoothie and a short bus ride to visit the taro fields, where you’ll learn how one dedicated family has worked the fields of this family farm for five generations.

Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity, if you like, to take in the beautiful jagged-mountain backdrop scenery of the Hanalei Valley and to participate in some hands-on activities among the heart-shaped taro leaves.  Farm work here is still done by hand.  Five endangered bird species are often spotted in this official wildlife refuge, coexisting with the taro farmers.  Birdwatchers are invited to bring their list and binoculars, and the guide will assist, and those with limited mobility will have plenty of opportunities to sit.  I was surprised to find how challenging this work is and about the many hardships and difficulties the farmers face. 

Later, the bus delivers you to the Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill--an agrarian museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Built by Chinese laborers in the late 1800s, the mill was purchased by the Haraguchi family in 1924 and is the only remaining rice mill in Hawaii.  It was rebuilt several times through theyears and ceased operating in 1960, when Kauai’s rice industry collapsed.  A nonprofit organization now preserves this historic site.  While here, you will view a short educational slide show, followed by a tour of the mill.  Finally, you’ll see a poi-pounding demonstration and a coconut husking, and you’ll taste these delicious fresh foods.

plate lunch at Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. food truck in Kauai, Hawaii

The bus then returns to the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. food truck for lunch—a sandwich or plate lunch--which is included.  This enterprise makes taro products found nowhere else:  taro-coconut mochi, taro hummus, luau rolls, and kalo koolers (taro smoothies). 

Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Kauai.

More information about Kauai.

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

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 1, 2014

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii: Hanalei Center shops; things to do

The Old Hanalei School Building dating to 1926 has been converted into a small shopping strip within the

Old Hanalei School Building in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei Center (at 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy.).  You'll find art galleries, restaurants, and shops, most of which are locally owned and sell Hawaiian items.

Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art shop in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art  4884 Pepelani Loop, (808) 826-7606.  Named after the legendary homeland of all Polynesians, this shop stocks the work of artisans and carvers throughout Oceania. 

Hula Beach Boutique & Sarong Shop  (808) 826-4741.  Daily 9:30am-8pm.  Casual island wear. 

Rainbow Ducks Toys & Clothing  (808) 826-4741.  You’ll find toys and swimwear for children in this little red house.  They stock everything from a zippered coconut purse, to bean bag collectibles, to a rubber gecko. 

Rainbow Ducks Toys & Clothing shop in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Sand People  (808) 826-1008.  M-Sat 9:30am-8pm, Sun 10-8.  Great gift items are augmented by beachy house accents and nautical d├ęcor.

Tropical Tantrum  5183 Kuhio Hwy., (808) 826-6944.  The clerk claims that everything in this store is all rayon and hand-colored.  Long dresses and aloha shirts are among the goods. 

Yellowfish Trading Company shop in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Yellowfish Trading Company  (808) 826-1227.  Protected by a guard cat, this unique shop sells 1940s and 1950s memorabilia as well as antiques and home furnishings.

down the road
Hanalei Trading Co.  5-5134 Kuhio Hwy., (808) 826-1373.  Located in the historic Tahiti Nui Building, this shop’s diverse collection includes aloha wear, hand-carved wood sculptures, black pearls, and plenty more.

More things to do in Kauai.

More information about Kauai.

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

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers