December 18, 2018

San Antonio, Texas: Hotel Emma; hotel review


Hotel Emma  136 E. Grayson, (877) 801-6134, (210) 448 8300.  146 rooms.  Complimentary margarita at check-in; full breakfast included; 3 restaurants; 1 bar.  Full-service spa. 

Situated inside a building originally designed by famed architect August Maritzen in the 19th-century as the Pearl Brewery, this hotel is named in honor of Emma Koehler, who ran the brewery after her husband died.  This creatively designed upscale property is riverfront and features restored old brewery implements that are blended attractively into the decor, including a front desk that makes use of the building’s original antique mailboxes.  Its clock-tower and storehouses have been transformed into atmospheric guest rooms, a library, a lounge, a craft beer pub, and fine dining spots.

exterior of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
exterior of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


lobby of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
lobby of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


lobby of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
lobby of Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


front desk at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
front desk at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


guest room suite at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
guest room suite at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
guest room suite bathroom at Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas


More things to do in San Antonio.

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

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

December 5, 2018

Solvang, California: Christmas Julefest; things to do


I first heard of the replica Danish town of Solvang, which is located in California on Highway 101 in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in reference to it being a great place to go for Christmas shopping.  And though I have visited it many times through the years to enjoy its charming authentic Danish architecture complete with thatched roofs and windmills, it is just within the last few years that I made it there for its annual December Julefest.

Julefest Christmas tree in courtyard in Solvang, California
Julefest Christmas tree in courtyard in Solvang, California

The town’s hundreds of specialty shops offer unusual gift items year-round, but they add more goodies plus seasonal decorations and a festive air around Christmas.  An annual Tree-Lighting Ceremony is held in Solvang Park with live entertainment, caroling, and the arrival of Santa Claus, and a Julefest Parade features hundreds of participants marching, trotting, cruising, and strolling along festively decorated streets.  Additionally, the family-friendly Solvang Nativity Pageant is an elaborate stage presentation that includes narration, music, and live animals.  Visitors during this time also can win a prize while exploring the town in search of the hidden Jule Nisse (mischievous elf-like Danish figures).  When I visited, I witnessed Santa leave a bar, mount a motorcycle, and chug down the street singing “Jingle Bells,” although the singing might be a false memory.”

Christmas decor in Solvang Restaurant in Solvang, California
Christmas decor in Solvang Restaurant in Solvang, California


More things to do in Solvang. 

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

November 29, 2018

San Antonio, Texas: Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery; restaurant review


Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery  136 E Grayson St., in The Pearl, (210) 455-5701. 

This dramatic restaurant and brewery operates inside the landmark 1894 building that was originally Pearl’s Brewhouse.  Chicago architect August Maritzen designed more than 80 breweries--this one in the Second Empire style--think high ceilings and plenty of brick.  Beer flights and small bites dominate a seasonal menu featuring delicious southern fare that includes deviled-ham eggs and jalapeno-cheddar grits. 

Brunch is a popular time to relax with a spicy Michelada beer cocktail, a fresh orange juice mimosa, or a house-made brew.  A popular food choice then is shrimp boil, consisting of Galveston bay shrimp and corn rounds.  An eggs Benedict variation features braised country ham atop jalapeno corn bread with a Cajun cream Hollandaise. 

Kids are catered to with a special menu that includes a white-cheddar grilled cheese, fish sticks, and more.  It is presented on a cooking tray with a soft ball of dough for them to twist into a pretzel.  They love it, and it keeps them quite busy while they wait for food to appear.  When they are finished twisting, their creation can be sweetened with a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar and baked into real pretzel.  My delighted granddaughter ate most of hers for dessert and took the rest home.

drawing of the original Pearl's Brewhouse, now Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, in San Antoniio, Texas
drawing of the original Pearl's Brewhouse, now Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, in San Antoniio, Texas


bar at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
bar at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


Michelada beer cocktail at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
Michelada beer cocktail at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


shrimp boil at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
shrimp boil at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


jalapeno-cornbread Benedict at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
jalapeno-cornbread Benedict at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


red snapper with salsa verde at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
red snapper with salsa verde at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


kid's menu and pretzel dough at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
kid's menu and pretzel dough at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas




little girl plays with pretzel dough at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
little girl plays with pretzel dough at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas


little girl eats baked pretzel she made at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
little girl eats baked pretzel she made at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antoniio, Texas
Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



More things to do in San Antonio.

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

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

November 27, 2018

NYC: Rockefeller Center at Christmas; things to do


Rockefeller Center  600 Fifth Ave. 

Christmas central in NYC seems to be the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center and its 80-foot-tall tree decorated with 45,000+ lights.  The first Christmas tree was lit here in 1933, and today more than half a million people see it each day.  The Rockettes kick up their heels nearby at Radio City Music Hall, and the big department stores display their magnificent decorated windows along adjacent Fifth Avenue.  And this year FAO Schwarz is making a comeback with a new store here, complete with the famous clock tower and also a giant piano keyboard like the one Tom Hanks played in “Big.”

ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in NYC
ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in NYC


ice skating rink and Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC
ice skating rink and Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC


More Christmas attractions in NYC.

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Travel articles to inspire and help you plan trips.

November 14, 2018

San Antonio, Texas: In The Pearl; restaurant reviews


The Pearl 

Once the home of the Pearl Brewery, this 22-acre area today is a mixed-use neighborhood with expanses of green grass for romping, a year-round schedule of music, and the largest Farmer’s Market in San Antonio (held on Saturdays and Sundays).  It is located along the North portion of the renowned San Antonio River Walk and is home to the San Antonio branch of the Culinary Institute of America as well as plenty of restaurants and boutiques.  Any day is a good day for a visit, but Sunday is a special pearl of a day for families, which show up in large numbers then to enjoy a meal and some frolicking time in the large water feature splash pad that is particularly popular in summer.

kids frolicking in the water feature in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
kids frolicking in the water feature in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


exterior of The Culinary Institute of America in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
exterior of The Culinary Institute of America in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


*Bakery Lorraine  306 Pearl Pkwy. #110, (210) 862-5582.  Daily 7am–8pm.
Romance is part of the story here.  Owners Jeremy and Anne met while working for celebrity chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery in California’s Napa Valley.  I’ve enjoyed Keller’s pastries in California and NYC, and those here are on par.    I especially liked the raspberry croissant and was enthralled just looking at the fluffy, flower-like caramel peanut tart.  My granddaughter favored the made-from-scratch pop tart.  More extensive breakfast items are available--think barley and farro porridge and quiche Lorraine--and lunch brings on a selection of sandwiches.  Customers line up to order, then select a table inside or out.

interior of Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
interior of Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


colorful fruit tarts at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
colorful fruit tarts at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


fluffy caramel peanut tarts at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
fluffy caramel peanut tarts at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


child downs a pop tart at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
child downs a pop tart at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


child smushes a muffin into her face at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
child smushes a muffin into her face at Bakery Lorraine in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
Bakery Lorraine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


*Bottling Department Food Hall  312 Pearl Pkwy, in The Pearl.   Sun-Thur 8am-9pm, F-Sat 8am-10pm.  Some of the food booths in this bustling food hall offer the option of sitting at a bar at the booth itself, but mostly diners find an open table in the interior or outside by the grassy central courtyard, where children can play in a water feature and playground.  A vibrating pager lets you know when the order ready.  Foods specialties include burgers, chicken, ramen, donuts, beer, and more.

exterior of Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
exterior of Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


interior of Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
interior of Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


ramen from Tenko Ramen at Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
ramen from Tenko Ramen at Bottling Department Food Hall in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


*Lick  In The Pearl, (210) 314-8166.  This ice cream shop offers some unusual flavors--think Texas Sheet Cake and Goat Cheese Thyme & Honey.  All ice creams are made with milk from Texas cows.  Limited seating is available inside and outside, but never enough in summer.

counter at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
counter at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


flavors at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
flavors at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


child looks at ice creams at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
child looks at ice creams at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


double-decker ice cream bowl at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
double-decker ice cream bowl at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


twins and older sister eat ice cream at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
twins and older sister eat ice cream at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
Lick Honest Ice Creams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


*La Gloria  100 E. Grayson St., in the Pearl, (210) 267-9040.  L-D daily.  Dedicated to celebrating the tasty street foods of Mexico, this cheery spot serves up a varied menu.  A good start is the molcajetes--a super-hot bowl of melted Mexican cheeses with salsa mixed in that is prepared dramatically at the table, then diners spoon it into tortillas.  Two of those plus one sope and I was good to go.  Panuchos topped with a sort of salad are also very good.  Tacos are small and come three to an order.  Quesadillas, tostadas, tortas, and ceviches are also available.  Drinks include aguas fresca, beer, and margaritas in many varieties.

twins and older sister eat ice cream at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
twins and older sister eat ice cream at Lick in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


child and mother study menu at La Gloria in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
child and mother study menu at La Gloria in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas


sope and margarita at La Gloria in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas
sope and margarita at La Gloria in the Pearl in San Antonio, Texas




La Gloria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More places in The Pearl:

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery

Hotel Emma 


More things to do in San Antonio.

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

images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

November 2, 2018

San Antonio, Texas: River Walk; things to do


River Walk/Paseo Del Rio  (210) 227-4262.  Free. 

Following the San Antonio River, the 15-mile-long River Walk is below street level and offers meandering walkways that connect to hotels, museums, sidewalk cafes, theaters, and more.  You’ll hear mariachis serenading diners and see colorful river taxis carrying guests along the spring-fed river. 

Only 5 miles of the walk runs through the heart of the city.  From there, the Mission Reach section extends 8 miles from Lone Star Boulevard to the last of the missions--Mission Espada.  This stretch features aquatic life, 15 miles of recreational trails, picnic and seating areas, pedestrian bridges, pavilions, and access to four Spanish colonial missions.  Another stretch in the Pearl connects to the San Antonio Museum of Art.

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
River Walk in San Antonio, Texas


colorful restaurant on River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
colorful restaurant on River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

River cruise  $12, 60+ $9, 1-5 $6.  Flat-bottomed river boats leave regularly from several spots along the busiest part of the river.  This relaxing half-hour narrated cruise is the perfect way to get the lay of the downtown land and to check out waterside restaurants and bars.

popular river cruise in San Antonio, Texas
popular river cruise in San Antonio, Texas



More things to do in San Antonio.

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

October 30, 2018

San Antonio, Texas: Main Plaza; things to do


Main Plaza  115 Main Plaza, (210) 225-9800.  Free. 

Situated in the city’s center, San Antonio's historic Main Plaza dates back to the early 1700s.  This innovative public space enhances the city's core with mature trees and bubbling fountains.  Known historically as the "Heart of the City," this plaza is home to San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the nation.  Additionally, Main Plaza hosts a variety of events that include farmer's markets, food trucks, and art installations.

exterior of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas
exterior of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas


San Antonio/The Saga (Tu, F, Sat, Sun at 9pm, 9:30pm, & 10pm.  Free.) is a beautiful 24-minute video art installation created by renowned French artist Xavier De Richemont.  Using lights and music, it projects on the faƧade of the cathedral and takes you on a colorful visual journey through the history of San Antonio.  The Saga is Richemont’s first outdoor art installation in the U.S.  Other works by him can be seen in France, Germany, Spain, Morocco, Mexico, and Canada.

San Antonio/The Saga projected on exterior of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio/The Saga projected on exterior of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas


Downtown Tuesday 
●On Tuesday nights, parking is free after 5 p.m. at downtown city garages and meters.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum‘s stellar collection of western art is also free for the viewing on Tuesdays  from 4 p.m. to closing.

"Walkara--Hawk of the Mountains" by Greg Kelsey at Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas
"Walkara--Hawk of the Mountains" by Greg Kelsey at Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas


The Esquire Tavern  155 East Commerce St., (210) 222-2521.  Celebrating the end of Prohibition when it opened in 1933, this watering hole has been popular ever since.  It is located on the River Walk and makes a great place to enjoy a casual meal.  Newly updated, a cabbie who dropped me here quipped that “it went from tomato to tomahto.”  Now, downstairs is for drinking and upstairs is for dining on tasty tavern fare.

downstairs bar at The Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, Texas
downstairs bar at The Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, Texas


●Arrive at San Antonio's Main Plaza by 9 p.m. for the evening’s first projection of San Antonio/The Saga light show (always free).



More things to do in San Antonio.

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers