Twist Travel Magazine Issue #12

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editor's note Where do you go when you think about your "happy place?" This year has been tough on all travel addicts, but like you, I've got a few (million) memories tucked away, like playing on the slopes of Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. There is nothing quite like a long day of frolicking in the snow followed by après-ski and a warm dinner by the fire. But Alberta isn't the only spot we are diving into this issue, where you can hit the slopes and have snow fun with your kids, and without (because yes, grownups deserve their own playtime too.) We are headed to French-speaking Quebec for Winter Carnaval (and crepes!), and it's time to start planning for those summer ski trips down to Chile. To round it out, we've got a few of our favorite ski resorts from across the world you will want to check out in the coming year. If the cold winter snow isn't your thing, don't worry, we are also hiking the Narrows of Zion National Park, stocking up on desert-inspired fashion, making sure our succulents survive the winter, and taking a trip down the California coast. So, while we may not be able to travel far and wide right now, you can dream and you can make plans for the future. You can also get outside in your own backyard. I've seen more of Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia in the past nine months than I have in the six years since we moved here. It's incredible the variety of activities, food and waterfalls we have found that keep us away from crowds. We are excited to head into the new year with you, continuing to bring travel into your home to inspire future journeys. Mask up, get outside and stay safe everyone.



Amy Whitley IG @amywhitleywrites

Brianna Simmons IG @casualfoodist

Claudia Laroye

Erin Kirkland IG @thetravellingmom IG @akonthego

Karilyn Owens

Leslie Harvey IG @globetotting IG @nobackhome IG @365AtlantaTraveler

Melissa Smith

Nicole Feliciano

Shobha George IG @ciaobambinotravel IG @momtrends IG @justgoplaces

Tai Kojro-Badziak

Tammilee Tillison

Tara Cannon

Tawny Clark IG IG @tammileetips IG @pintsizepilot IG @captainandclark

Jade Broadus IG @vagabond3

Lindsay Garbacik IG @ lindsaygarbacik

Katja Gaskell

Issue No. 12

Publisher: Walking On Media LLC

Tyler Mallory IG @tylermalloryphotos

Zoey Goto

Kristine Deworkin IG @zoeygotowriter IG @kdworkin

Editor-in-Chief: Keryn Means Contributing Editors: Claudia Laroye and Tawny Clark European Editor: Katja Gaskell Designers: Keryn Means Cover Photo: Jade Broadus and Bobby Christian For editorial inquiries, please contact: Sales Offices: Washington, D.C. London, UK Vancouver, Canada

We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives. - Gary Zukhav

For advertising inquiries, please contact: Please send all general questions and inquiries to: COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Twist Travel Magazine is published by ©2020 Walking On Media LLC No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. Digital issue may contain affiliate links. WWW.WALKINGONTRAVELS.COM


Table of Contents 5 | THE TWIST


Desert-style fashion, indoor succulent gardens and an eco-holiday guide to rewilding the world.

One family turns summer on its head with a ski break in the southern hemisphere in Chile.



Escape to the sunny shores of the California coast and wine country with these entertaining reads.

There's room to roam and ski among acres of fresh powder at SkiBig3 resorts in Banff and Lake Louise.



Innovative and swish and bubbly cocktails to help you celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year.

Layer up and follow one intrepid hiker's journey into the narrows of Zion National Park - in winter.



A holiday guide to the oceanside oasis that is chic, charming, and pure California: Newport Beach.

A mother and son hike volcanos at dawn, learn Spanish and enjoy cultural immersion in Central America.



Founder of boutique family travel agency Stubborn Mule Travel shares inspiration and top destinations.

Iconic ski resorts from around the world feature among our favorites for families in winter.



Embrace the spirit of winter snowplay fun - and Bonhomme! - in Canada's French-speaking province.

Get California dreaming about iconic road trips, beaches and urban outdoor escapes in L.A and SanFran.



Tis the season to rake leaves, shovel snow, and get inspired to go outdoors and be festive; whether it be a hike in the desert, reading a great California-inspired novel or simply by whipping up a few champagne cocktails to ring in the New Year. No matter how you bring travel back into your home, after all, you can't always be on the road, you will find ways to enrich your life from the inside out when you wander with us.




Winter is here! While the world may still look a bit different, there are still plenty of great new products to enjoy this season. Whether you’re ready to cozy up until spring comes or you’re already planning your next outdoor adventure, check out these picks for a fun and safe season.


Mamuye Classic Tote in Whiskey • $168 Big enough to fit a laptop and chic enough to be used past the fall and winter seasons. Better yet, this bag is ethically and sustainably handcrafted. Each bag has a few subtle variations on the leather, making each one unique.

FASHION Knitted aran hat • $68 Who doesn't want a cozy hat that comes in a whopping eight colors? This Slovenian brand works to enhance their sustainability by manufacturing locally and using eco-friendly materials, so you know you can look good while doing good!

Embroidered Clog Slippers • $23 Fuzzy clog-style slippers that are made sustainably and with vegan fur inside? Yes, please! These slippers have a solid enough bottom that you can wear them outside or at home to keep your toes warm.


HoMedics UV Sanitizing Pouch • $100 Throw your phone, keys or wallet in this pouch to quickly and easily sanitize them no matter where you are. The pouch uses 4 UV-C germicidal LEDs that target and thoroughly sanitize the contents from multiple angles at once, in just under a minute.

SOJOS Cat-Eye Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses • $20 Long periods of exposure to the blue lights emitted from screens can cause premature skin aging, not to mention the strain it puts on your eyes. Blue-blocking glasses have been known to reduce headaches or dizziness caused by the blue light of computer screens.

Bougie Hot Chocolate candle • $29.99 Sustainably made coconut-soy candle is layered with scents of cinnamon, caramel, vanilla and (of course) chocolate truffles. If the scent is not enough to entice you, the packaging surely will with its bright rose gold accents.

Athleta Made to Move Mask • $25 With face masks being vital to staying safe, why not get ones that make exercising hassle-free? These Athleta masks are made from a lightweight, breathable fabric that ties around your head, so there is less tension on sensitive ears. Its best feature? The boning piece, which is inserted in the mask so the fabric stays tented over your mouth. This means that the mask won’t get stuck in your mouth during that your workout!

a i n r o f i l ' n Ca i ead R


There might not be a place as full of character as California, so it would make sense that a reading list featuring the state would be diverse, rich in characters, and full of stunning literary landscapes. Whether dreaming of Northern California’s wine region, or south towards the border of Mexico, these great reads are sure to capture your attention. ANA OF CALIFORNIA

By Andi Teran • Are you a fan of the Anne of Green Gables series? Author Andi Teran takes a modern spin with her novel set in present-day California. Foster child Ana leaves Los Angeles for a Northern California farm in a last-ditch effort to find some stability in her life. This girl has grit and smarts, but still must learn from her surroundings and new farm family if she is to achieve what she wants: belonging. READ IT HERE

SLOW DAYS, FAST COMPANY By Eve Babitz • Southern California in the 1960’s and 70’s was a trip, literally and figuratively. Eve Babitz, a native of Los Angeles, paints a crazy word picture of the colors and textures resplendent during this era of peace, love, and drug culture. Never before have L.A. sunsets been described so vividly, or so oddly, as when Eve writes about their “Grand Marnier… bleeding through fog.” The book is deep reading, but worth picking up and putting down while your brain absorbs the swirls of descriptive prose. And you’ll never look at Palm Springs the same way again. READ IT HERE

EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES By Laura Dave • All families have secrets, but for Georgia Ford, her family’s vineyard yields more than just secret recipes for their wines. Dynamics of relationships are complex and full of non-disclosure, and a week before Georgia is to be married, she learns her fiancé has been keeping a secret that sends her reeling. Returning home, Georgia struggles to dig deep to seek the truth, all while navigating the mechanics of a family-run winery and vineyard. READ IT HERE MY HOLLYWOOD

By Mona Simpson • Wife and new mother Claire has agreed to move to Hollywood so her husband, an aspiring comedy writer for television, can “make it big.” What was a partner-based relationship suddenly feels to Claire like she’s been abandoned, in charge of an infant, a house, and a wealth of confusing feelings. When she hires Lola, a housekeeper and nanny with a family of her own in the Philippines, Claire doesn’t realize the depths one mother will go in order to protect those she loves. Achingly familiar but also bending with mystery, this is a tough book to put down. READ IT HERE



s t n e l u c c Su CARING GREEN







There're many genera of succulents and they have a range of Zones (USDA Hardiness Zones) that they live best in. So the first test of compatibility is to check if the succulent could do well in your USDA Zone.


Do you intend to put them indoor or outdoor? If indoor, picking green succulents could ensure a higher survival chance than the colorful succulents. Succulents generally need more sun to get colorful.


How frequently you should water your succulents depends on how humid your area is, but generally once every 10-14 days would be good. The best way to check is to see if the soil is completely dry between waterings. And when you do water them, give them a thorough soak, and water the soil instead of the leaves. CHOOSE THE RIGHT POT

A porous pot with a drainage hole works best for succulents. They technically can survive in pots made of other type of materials but would need a more experienced grower. GET THE RIGHT SOIL MIX

The most basic soil mix ratio is 1:1 organic soil & inorganic matter (for example: soil & perlite). The way to test is to water the soil and see if you can make a ball. If you can then the soil isn't well-drained enough. LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE LOVE SUCCULENTS?

Receive a little sunshine each month from Succulents Box. These subscription boxes come in a wide range of options: 1, 2, 3 or 4 cute succulents per month. Picked and sent with love from California. GET $5 off your first box: 5OFF

Succulents generally need 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. They like light but don't tolerate heat so intense sunlight at noon is a big no. Green succulents can tolerate less light than the colorful ones. The easiest way to see if your succulents need light is to see if they're stretching out or become leggy. If they do they need more light. FREQUENT GROOMING

Check regularly for signs of pests and get rid of dead leaves to keep succulents healthy and happy.

Eco List

Eco Holiday Gift Guide

Heeding David Attenborough’s call to ‘rewild the world’, these gorgeous back to nature kits will help to green up your home. Introducing children to gardening comes with a whole mountain of benefits, from encouraging healthy eating and a love for our planet, to teaching responsibility and patience. And you don’t need a large garden to get started, as these nifty kits can BY ZOEY GOTO • ZOEYGOTO.COM squeeze onto a balcony or spare windowsill.





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Budding scientists can get their paws mucky, conducting experiments in these greenhouse domes. There are over 30 exercises to test out, including collecting seeds with your socks, making leaf rubbings and learning how to force budded branches to bloom in winter. This inclusive kit is perfect for hands-on learning for children aged between 5-7. 6 KID’S LIGHT-UP TERRARIUM KIT BY DAN & DARCI 1 TIGERBOM SEEDBOM AND BOOK SET FROM KABLOOM

The ideal gift for mini horticulturalists, this set includes the beautifully illustrated There’s a Tiger in the Garden book by Lizzy Stewart, plus a compostable Seedbom to grow flowers inspired by the stripes of a tiger. 2 GROW PUPPY BY CREATIVITY FOR KIDS

This indoor planting set is a great choice for eager young kids, as they’ll see results in super quick time. Plant the little puppy with seeds, decorate with stickers and in just 3 or 4 days it will start to cultivate a mane of green fur. 3 SHIPPON ANIMAL PLANTER FROM KIDLY

These little ceramic planters come with a serious dose of Kawaii cool. There are three animals to choose from - a monkey, dog or cat, growing strawberries, basil or clover from their backpack. Gardening just got cute! 4 CHILDREN'S ME SEEDS STARTER KIT FROM SEED PANTRY

This is a great way to harvest an impressive vegetable patch at home, while teaching children about the origins of our food. This compact kit includes pumpkin, cress, sweetcorn and sunflower seeds, compost, mini pots and a little advice booklet for getting started.

This miniature garden in a pot is a brilliant way for botanists aged 6+ to learn about ecosystems and life cycles. Simply assemble the layers of the terrarium, adding in some cute stickers and figures, water and place in a sunny spot. It grows by day and glows at night, thanks to the built-in LED light creating an enchanting glow. 7 HEALTHY CATERPILLAR GROW KIT FROM PLANT THEATRE

A fun way to learn about seed germination and plant growth, this sweet kit comes with a friendly caterpillar propagator and everything needed to grow your own tomatoes, beans, peas, sweetcorn, peppers, pumpkin and lettuce. Each vegetable is made into an entertaining cartoon character, introduced in the accompanying booklet. 8 NATURE’S GREETING GROWING KITS FROM MAGIC PLANT FARMS

Fans of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale will love these magic bean kits. Just pop the top of this little can, water and within 7 days the plant will sprout with a magic symbol engraved onto the bean. Choose from dinosaurs, zoo animals, insects, or for some festive cheer, a bean that reads Merry Christmas!



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e l y t S t r e s e D

rock n' roll


From the Coachella Valley to the dunes of the Sahara, there are a multitude of ways to style your desert escape. And while we love desert fashion, we don’t want to suffer for it. Here’s a few of our favorite desert staples that will keep you looking and feeling cool. Whether you go full-on Burning Man bohemian or perhaps a little more reserved, we have something stylish for everyone’s wardrobe. Bonus: you don’t even have to live in the desert to rock these looks.

DESERT DREAMING IN NEUTRALS When it comes to styling a desert getaway, we prefer to keep things neutral. Think blacks, taupes, rusts, and even a little terracotta. That said, we’re always down for a splash of color, perhaps turquoise or even a bright red like you see in fall fashion trends - except these female fashions can be worn year round. Don’t be afraid to mix styles and patterns: that is half the fun of styling your desert boho chic wardrobe.

VINTAGE INSPIRED BAND TEES We just love a versatile band tee. Not only are they super comfortable but we particularly enjoy that they can be dressed up or dressed down. You can pair your tee with destroyed denim, shorts, or our personal favorite, a flowy maxi skirt. Perhaps you don’t have a favorite band that you want to rep. That’s okay! It doesn’t even have to be a legit band tee, just look like one. A few of our favorites come from the boho brand Spell & the Gypsy. FIND THESE BAND TEES AND MORE ON ANTHROPOLOGIE

Style FLOWY MAXI SKIRTS The desert may be hot but you can stay breezy in a lightweight maxi skirt or dress. We love pairing these with booties and a western-styled belt. You can go neutral with your top or even throw on that trusty band tee we mentioned earlier. Our motto when it comes to packing dresses: if it flows, it goes. Plus, the added swish factor makes for perfect photos! Take a peek at a few of our favorite desert styled maxi skirts. Snag your desert style boho maxi skirts here: Beachgold Midi Skirt Lily Linen Maxi Skirt Cyprus Printed Ruffle Skirt White prairie skirt Teal Chiffon skirt

DON'T FORGET THE BOOTS Keep the desert sand out of your toes with a cute pair of booties. You can also go for the added protection of combat boots. Our tried and true favorites are Doc Martens, but when it comes to comfort and style, Freebird can’t be beat! More Freebird on Some of our other favorites on Frye Billy booties Ariat Heritage Western boots Frye Tall boots Frye Melissa boots Ugg Wylma booties

COMPLETE THE LOOK: ACCESSORIES Let’s talk accessories to round out your outfit ideas. Complete your desert vibe with a patterned bandana, western-inspired belt (anything leather will do), and bold, natural jewelry. Top off your look with a hat that will not only look stylish, but shield you from the hot desert sun. We suggest hitting your local thrift and vintage shops for a bolo tie, turquoise jewelry, and eclectic belt buckles. Just remember to have fun when it comes to accessorizing!

DISCOVER YOUR DESERT STYLE There’s no right or wrong way to style your desert packing list. What works for your favorite influencer might not be suited to your personal style or body type. Fashion boho is great, but if you aren’t comfortable in a maxi skirt, you may want to grab a pair of jeans instead. This is where you can use your creativity to mix and

match elements of your wardrobe to create your desert esthetic. And remember, desert fashion also doubles as autumn fashion, so those pieces won’t just be used when you head to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree or the Sahara of Morocco. You can show off your desert style when you're back home too.

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INGREDIENTS 1 refrigerated 9in pie crust or homemade pie crust 1 tbsp olive oil 2 cups butternut squash diced 1 large leek sliced 1 tbsp fresh rosemary 5 oz goat cheese crumbled 4 large eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper



Serves 8

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare refrigerated pie crust per box. If using homemade pie crust roll onto tart pan and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and saute butternut squash for 6 minutes. Add leeks and rosemary and cook for 2 more minutes and remove from heat. 2. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. In the tart pan spread the butternut squash mixture evenly over the pie crust and sprinkle goat cheese crumbles over the top. Pour egg mixture evenly over the vegetables. 3. Place quiche in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. The crust should be puffy and golden when done. Let the quiche cool for 15 minutes, cut into 8 slices and serve.


Apple Scones with Maple Cinnamon Glaze BY BRIANNA SIMMONS • CASUALFOODIST.COM


INGREDIENTS 2 cups all purpose flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter frozen and grated 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 large egg 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla1 medium apple chopped 2 tbsp cream MAPLE CINNAMON GLAZE 1/2 cup powdered sugar 2 tbsp maple syrup 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add grated butter and mix together with your hands until flour mixture is crumbly, taking care not to overwork the dough. 2. In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; stir in the cubed apple. Pour this into the larger bowl with the flour mixture and stir together until everything is combined. 3. Turn the dough out onto a silicon baking mat or parchment paper and using floured hands (the dough will be sticky) shape the dough into an 8 inch circle. Using a bench scraper or knife coated in cooking spray or oil cut the dough into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges slightly and brush the tops of the scones with cream. 4. Transfer the baking mat or parchment paper to a baking sheet and bake the scones for 22-24 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for several minutes. 5. While the scones are cooling prepare the glaze. In a small bowl stir together powdered sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Drizzle over the scones.

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& Dreams

Add a little festive sparkle to your days, even if it’s just a solo cocktail hour! These fizzy cocktails are full of flavor, warmth, and bring a little effervescent buzz to a holiday soiree.

n g h a a p m

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There are many differences between Champagne, Cava and Prosecco - namely, each is tied to specific production locations and processes in France, Spain and Italy, respectively. Champagne has a few varietals - we used brut, a relatively dry wine that balances crisp fruit, buttery notes, and minerality. Prosecco tends to be a bit softer and rounder in flavor, with fragrant, floral aromas, as well as larger bubbles. Cava sits between the two, presenting fresh, zesty notes, not as floral as prosecco but not as dry as brut champagne. We had fun experimenting with ingredients we had on hand, including grilled late summer fruits, and making our own syrups. You can use these recipes as a guideline, or have fun exploring. The only real rule for sparkly cocktails is - don’t splurge on the good stuff. Grocery store bubbles should do it for just about any mixed cocktail!

SMOKY PERIL A twist on the classic Bellini, grilled peaches and poblano syrup makes this a rich and full bodied cocktail. When we strained it, we had a little char left from the smoked fruit syrup - a lovely kick of flavor! Brut Champagne, chilled 1.5 oz vodka 1 oz smoked peach poblano syrup In a 5 - 8 oz glass, mix the vodka and syrup. Slowly add the champagne.

PEACH POBLANO SYRUP Grill the peach and poblano pepper over an open flame until skin is partially scorched - either on a grill or on a gas stovetop. Set aside to cool. 1 peach, halved 1 poblano pepper

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup water

When cool, slip the skin off the fruits. Cut peach into 1” pieces and place in mortar, or a soup bowl. Halve the pepper, de-seed, and cut into strips. Add to the bowl with the peach. Sprinkle 1 cup sugar over the fruit, and using your fingers or a pestle or other blunt press, smoosh it all together til it gets nice and juicy. Add the water. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and give it another stir in the morning. Strain the syrup into a jar, and discard the fruit mash (or use it in something like homemade ice cream!). The syrup can remain in the fridge for about 1 week.




This herbaceous cocktail is a wonderful surprise, full of fresh garden flavors but woven through with the sparkle of the bubbles. We tried it with both cava and prosecco. Cava accents the crispness, while prosecco brings out the sweetness. Take your pick! Cava or Prosecco - chilled 1.5 oz Emerald Syrup Mint flowers, for garnish In a flute, pour the syrup. Top with your bubbles of choice garnish with mint flowers. EMERALD SYRUP 1 cup water ½ cup sugar 1 sprig rosemary 1 stalk basil 1 stalk mint In a small saucepan, bring water to boil. Add sugar, stir to dissolve. Turn off heat. Add herbs. Let steep, minimum 1 hour, preferred overnight. Strain and enjoy. Syrup can remain in the fridge for about a month.

Muddled raspberries, zingy ginger syrup and a surprising kick of cinnamon makes this a sparkle-season staple.



Cava, chilled Fresh raspberries (4 or 5 per serving) 1 oz ginger syrup 1 oz vodka Cinnamon


In the bottom of a 5-8 oz juice glass, or other equally hard working vessel, muddle the berries. Stir in the ginger syrup, then add vodka. Dust in some cinnamon just a pinch. Slowly top with cava. I let the raspberries rise to the top as the garnish. Salud! GINGER SYRUP 1 cup water ½ cup sugar 2” knob of ginger, sliced In a small saucepan, bring water to boil. Add sugar, stir to dissolve. Turn off heat. Add ginger. Let steep, minimum 1 hour, preferred overnight. Strain and enjoy. Syrup can remain in the fridge for about a month.

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Prosecco, chilled 1.5 oz Cocchi Rosa Americano Seltzer water Slice of citrus - grapefruit, orange or lemon - for juice Citrus zest - for garnish




In a lovely cut crystal coupe, or any other beautiful glass that makes you daydream of late afternoons along the mediterranean coast, run the citrus along the inside rim of the glass. Pour in the Cocchi Americano, and top with prosecco and a splash of seltzer water. You can manage the density of this one by adding ice or more seltzer as needed. Garnish with zest.


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This is a riff on the classic Italian Spritz. Heck, it’s not even a riff - it’s just a spritz. Classic, simple, refreshing - this is a simple and delightful cocktail. Cocchi Rosa was the dry aperitivo on hand when we tried this, which has a lovely, floral and not too bitter finish; Aperol is a good alternative.

Sometimes you want a summer fruit cocktail but you don’t really want it to be too sweet or fruity - just a hint of all that robust ripeness. Check out the Jam Jar - a blend of rhubarb, citrus and floral prosecco, this is a porch slammer. Prosecco, chilled 1.5 oz Rhubarb Gin (Whitley and Neill Rhubarb Ginger gin) Sliver of lemon for garnish In an 8 oz jam jar, pour in the rhubarb gin. Top with prosecco. Squeeze in the lemon juice from the sliver, then drop it in the glass. It’s that easy. (You can add some ginger syrup if you want to kick up the spice a bit!)




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3 d a y s

Fuel up with breakfast smoothies at Krisp Fresh Living or layers of banana macadamia nut pancakes at Stacks Pancake House. You’ll need the energy for walking the aisles of the outdoor mecca of Fashion Island. Fashion Island is less an actual island than a social and cultural meeting ground for locals and guests. With more than 100 boutiques, including Anthropologie’s first California ‘Ultimate Anthropologie Experience’ store and local candle success story Voluspa’s only retail location, Fashion Island also features restaurants, theatres, car services and personal shopping. During the holiday season, Fashion Island is home to Newport Beach’s festive Christmas Tree, one of the tallest holiday trees in the United States.

Enjoy a superb al fresco lunch at Sushi Roku, located at Fashion Island. Their brussels sprout chips are to die for, and the sushi and deconstructed s’more dessert are also out of this world.


While the weather cools in much of the northern hemisphere, the great state of California remains temperate and warm as the season transitions from fall to winter. The charming sophistication of Newport Beach offers an oceanside oasis of unique neighborhoods, beautiful beaches and aquatic activities for the entire family.

Visitors to the community will find a great home base in the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Newport Beach. Or choose a marina side cottage at Lido House, an Autograph Collection Hotel. For romantic getaways with panoramic ocean views, The Resort at Pelican Hill south of Newport is the luxurious choice.

Spend the afternoon on a guided walking tour with Newport at Your Feet, learning all about the charming history of Balboa Island, a man-made island of quaint and colorful beach houses and narrow streets. Drop into the Balboa Island Museum & Historical Society for a deeper dive into the rich history of the area. The Island has a stylish coastal shopping area and is known for two iconic desserts, the Balboa Bar and Frozen Banana, mainstays for nearly 75 years. Pop into Sugar N Spice for a chocolate dipped bar or banana, covered in your choice of coatings (nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs). These sweet treats are best enjoyed while sitting and people-watching. For a memorable dinner by the bay, enjoy a leisurely dinner of ‘new American’ favorites on the wraparound patio overlooking Newport Harbor at the Bayside Restaurant.

SECOND DAY: BOATS AND BEACHES Take the short and sweet jitney ferry across from Balboa Island to Balboa Village. Head to Balboa Boat Rentals to rent a sleek Duffy Boat for a Newport Beach Harbor cruise.

THIRD DAY: HOLIDAY MAGIC Duffy Boats are electric ‘u-drive’ boats that are perfect for a sedate cruise around the harbor. The water is the best place to view the impressive sailboats, yachts and even more stunning harbor front homes in Newport Beach. If you haven’t packed a picnic for the boat, enjoy lunch with a view at the Newport Landing Restaurant, including fresh seafood and oysters at the upstairs Oyster Bar. Head south of town to Crystal Cove State Park and Historic District to walk along the sandy beach and admire the rustic cottages built on the oceanfront during the 1920s and 1930s. Since their restoration, the public can book overnight stays in the cottages. Day trippers and visitors can stop in at the Beachcomber Café to enjoy brunch, lunch or sip cocktails and salute the martini flag which is raised daily at 5 PM to the sound of Reveille. Savor dinner on the Café’s outdoor patio while watching the sun set over Catalina Island.

It’s no surprise that Newport Beach dresses up for the holidays. Get into the spirit with a visit to Roger’s Gardens and its shoppable Christmas boutique where all the ornaments, trees and holiday regalia are lavishly displayed as attractions and available for purchase. Enjoy a locally sourced, farm to tableinspired lunch on the family-friendly outdoor patio of Farmhouse at Rogers Gardens. The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade will be celebrating its 112th year in 2020 and runs from December 16th to the 20th. This classic holiday event of decorated floating crafts is a must see in Orange County, and this year should be viewed with safety protocols in mind. One of the best viewpoints to watch the Boat Parade is at Marina Park, just arrive early to get a good and free spot. If you’re at Marina Village, head to Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen at the Lido House for a fine dining experience of local seafood, meats and Chef’s Famous Truffle fries to cap off your three days in festive and fashionable Newport Beach.

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She Gets Around

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What do you do when you are made redundant from your job? If you’re Liddy Pleasants, you take your redundancy package and head off with your husband and two young children on a 5.5-month trip cycling around south-east Asia. Liddy had worked in travel since leaving university, but it was this family adventure on two wheels that was the catalyst for her establishing her own travel company, Stubborn Mule Travel. “My eureka moment came as I was cycling down this enormous mountain in Laos,” explains Liddy. “My husband and son were in front of me and I was pootling along with my daughter seated in her bicycle seat behind me. I was looking at the most beautiful scenery and I thought, this is just the most amazing experience and other families really should do this too.” When the family returned to the UK, Liddy started Stubborn Mule Travel, offering tailor-made adventures for families seeking something different to the traditional “fly and flop” holiday model. Since establishing themselves in 2011 they have organized thousands of trips for families in destinations including Burma, Sri Lanka, Oman, Egypt, Costa Rica and Mexico. They continue to be the only UK tour operator with a sole focus on tailor-made trips for families. We sat down for a virtual coffee with Liddy to ask her about her travels, her business and why she’s such a big believer in traveling with kids.

WHAT’S THE MAGIC FORMULA FOR HAVING A FAMILY HOLIDAY WHERE EVERYONE IS HAPPY? I think variety is the key to a successful family holiday. There are always going to be things that adults want to do and things that kids want to do, and often these are going to be different. By including a variety – bikes, beach time, a pool etc. - it will keep most people happy. Lots of people think that to have a family holiday you must do what the kids want to do. But I feel very strongly that this is not true. You can do adult things in a way that the kids enjoy and vice versa. If you're sightseeing in Bangkok, for example, then the best way to do it so that kids enjoy themselves is by tuk-tuk or add in a boat trip half-way through and then stop for an ice cream. WHEN DID YOU START TRAVELING? DID YOU TRAVEL AS A CHILD? Not in the slightest. We were a UK-bound family with holidays in Devon and the Lake District and the occasional foray into France. The first trip that I went on that was more adventurous was on a school trip to India when I was 16. As this was a school trip, we were very much contained in a bubble, being whisked from hotel to hotel in our private bus. I remember distinctly driving through a bustling, colorful market in rural Rajasthan and seeing a girl in a yellow dress outside. We were smiling at one another and I just thought, I don’t want to be in this bus, I want to be out there. It was a very formative trip and showed me that there’s another way to travel and it doesn’t involve an airconditioned bus! After finishing school, I took a year out and went to Sri Lanka for six months and then traveled

around south-east Asia. During university, I would travel every summer and once I graduated, I became a tour guide leading groups in the Middle East and later in China. HOW OLD WERE YOUR CHILDREN WHEN THEY FIRST STARTED TRAVELING AND WHERE WERE THEIR FIRST TRIPS TO? I have three children aged 14, 12 and seven-years-old. Our first trip with Sam, our eldest, was when he was just 9-months-old and we visited Sri Lanka. Visiting the island with a cute, chubby, blond-haired and blue-eyed baby only confirmed what a fabulous thing it was to travel with kids. Sri Lankans absolutely love children and anywhere we went, he would be taken off our hands for cuddles. And then we took our big cycling trip when Sam was aged five and Meg was almost three years old. We had never really cycled much before nor with panniers or children, but we just thought, this will be fun! We got some incredible reactions and people were so welcoming and charming. HOW HAS TRAVELING BENEFITED YOUR FAMILY? There are two ways that traveling has really benefited us. The first is that my kids will talk to anybody and have learnt the art of small talk. I think the oldest two got so bored of each other on our south-east Asia trip that they can now talk to anyone! The second is that they take most things in their stride. Traveling, seeing different ways of life and different cultures means that they are not fazed by unusual circumstances. The one thing that travel hasn’t done unfortunately, is made them unfussy eaters. My daughter has single-handedly disproved the theory that “if they’re hungry they will eat”!


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Our families are looking for something a little different and the general theme is that parents want activities for their kids so they’re not just on the beach looking at a screen! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO DESTINATIONS WITH BABIES? We don’t get that many babies on our tours although we have had a 7-month-old who experienced an overnight train ride in Burma, which feels more like a rollercoaster ride than a train! Generally, though, we recommend Morocco, Thailand, Mexico and Sri Lanka if you’re traveling with a baby. Morocco, from the UK, is quick to get to. And the other three destinations are all well-developed, have nice hotels with amenities, there’s good healthcare, English is widely spoken in the touristy areas and there are some lovely beach resorts. WHAT ABOUT WITH TODDLERS?

CAN YOU TELL US HOW STUBBORN MULE WORKS AND WHAT DESTINATIONS YOU COVER? Stubborn Mule offers tailor-made holidays for families in over 30 destinations. When we started in 2011, we had 12 destinations in south-east Asia. Our runaway success was with Burma. Obviously, we had just spent a month there cycling around so we knew it well. Aung San Suu Kyi had just been released and Burma was beginning to open to visitors. We've recently launched New Zealand and Canada and we’ll be launching some US itineraries soon. We have a great trip that runs through Yellowstone and down to the Grand Canyon including a 3-4-night rafting expedition in Utah, which is perfect for families. It includes camping by the river, hiking and rafting through some incredible scenery. WHERE DOES THE NAME STUBBORN MULE COME FROM? If you ask my husband, it’s because in a moment of introspection I realised what my primary personality trait was and reflected this in the business name! But in truth it’s a combination of this and the fact that I thought it would be fun for kids. WHAT KIND OF FAMILY USES STUBBORN MULE? We have a huge variety of clients, but most have two or three children with an average age of 10 or 12 years old. We do have some families that have traveled with us for years and their children are now at university, but they still travel as a family with us.

Short-haul – or shorter-haul – flights for toddlers are best. From the UK, we recommend Morocco, Jordan and Oman, which are all totally brilliant for toddlers. AND WITH SCHOOL CHILDREN? Most of our clients travel with school age children. Sri Lanka and Costa Rica are easily the most popular destinations; they both offer lovely boutique hotels, a nice coastline, great activities, a lot of variety and it’s quite easy to travel there. Other destinations that we recommend for this age are South Africa, Egypt and Vietnam. WHAT IS IT ABOUT STUBBORN MULE THAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT FROM OTHER TRAVEL OPERATORS? We continue to be the only UK operator with a sole focus on tailor-made trips for families. Other companies will design trips for families, but they are not family specialists, and this does make a big difference. For example, we know to book at least two, if not three, nights in each hotel so that you’re not constantly unpacking your – and your children’s - cases. We know that swimming pools are important. And we know at the drop of a hat whether cycling excursions around the world have kids’ bikes and helmets or what the age limits are for rafting expeditions. If you’re not a family travel specialist then you don’t necessarily know these things. The other thing is that we are run almost entirely by parents and almost all of us have traveled extensively with our own children.

HOW DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL SHAPE THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL? I personally don’t think it will change significantly. Although it’s very trendy to say that it will, I personally think that as far as travel is concerned, people want to do what they know and love. What may be different, however, is how people book their travels. There’s been a trend for people booking bits and pieces of their travel on their own, but we’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had their fingers burned because of Covid-19. Websites who have not refunded flights and who have removed their phone number so people can’t get through and speak to anybody. I think there will be a move towards people booking with a person that they can speak to. This could be a great moment for small operators who are personally invested in helping their clients. CAN YOU SHARE YOUR TOP THREE DESTINATIONS (EVER!) FOR A FAMILY HOLIDAY? Oman: We hadn’t expected how varied Oman would be and it really is just amazing. From dune bashing and wild camping on a beach to swimming in turquoise pools in deep canyons and seeing turtles, it really is incredible. Sri Lanka: It’s just so beautiful and so great for families, particularly the number of lovely family-friendly boutique hotels on offer. Plus, the combination of culture, beach, history, wildlife, amazing scenery and food is just a winning formula. Laos: This is less well known but I think it’s just so lovely. There are no particularly amazing sights like the pyramids or the Taj Mahal but the pace of travel there is just wonderful, the people are so nice and there’s lots to see and do. My kids loved it. WHAT DO YOU NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT? One of the highlights of flying for my kids is that they are allowed uninterrupted screen time so three sets of good headphones are important plus a fully charged iPad and battery pack for the youngest who doesn’t always enjoy the in-flight entertainment. I always carry snacks too. We made the mistake of not bringing snacks on a long-haul flight with Vietnam Airlines and the kids didn’t like the food that was being served so were hungry for the entire flight. And finally, I never travel without a sarong. This can be used as a towel, a pillow, a temple cover-up, a tea towel.... the possibilities are endless!




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There are few places around the world that embrace winter with such incredible joie de vivre spirit as in Quebec, Canada. In fact, one of its most famous sons, singer-songwriter Gilles Vigneault, even wrote a song about how his country is winter “Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.” Quebec’s relationship with winter is truly special. Its citizens embrace and celebrate winter in countless ways, with lights, music, activities, food, even a world-famous carnival. After all, if you can’t beat it, you may as well get out and enjoy it!


KICK SLEDDING IS GREAT FUN, AN AMAZING WORKOUT, AND WHEN YOU BREAK FOR A HOT CHOCOLATE OR A SNACK, YOU’VE ALREADY GOT YOUR CHAIR WITH YOU. The key to enjoying winter activities in Quebec is to go play outside. Yes, it’s cold out, but that’s what layering and long underwear are made for – to bundle up the family and enjoy these activities in the sparkling snow globe of a Quebec winter. Gatineau Park sits just across the Ottawa River from Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. The 224 square mile/361 square km park is busy at any time of year, especially in the fall during leaf-peeping season. But in winter, the gentle landscape is transformed into a snow-covered wonderland made for active outdoor lovers enjoying cross-country skiing, snow walking and snowshoeing. The Park maintains mile and miles of snowshoe trails. As you walk softly through birch and beech forests, be on the lookout for animal tracks, birdsong and woodpeckers knocking on tree stumps. If you go on a guided snowshoeing tour, your guide may point out claw marks on beech trees, made by black bears climbing the trees to fatten up on nuts before hibernation. The rolling hills and scenic farmland in the Eastern Townships region south of Montreal present a gorgeous landscape, especially when they’re blanketed in fluffy white snow. It’s a perfect countryside scene for waxing and wearing your cross-country skis for long glides through birch forests and past lakes and streams. The 31 m/50 km of groomed, cross country trails in Parc National Mont Orford offer loops of different lengths and difficulty levels for any type of skier. If you’re thirsting for downhill action, there’s a family-friendly ski hill in the park as well When in Quebec and in search of serious downhill thrills, the queen bee hill of the east is Mont Tremblant Resort. Situated in the Laurentiens just a few hours from either Ottawa or Montreal, Tremblant has a picturesque pedestrian-only village, a variety of skiing and riding runs for all levels of skier, and serious snow-making ability to keep those runs open as long as possible. For the non-skiers, the resort offers fun activities like tubing, telemark skiing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, as well as lots of kids activities and family-friendly restaurants.


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Kick sledding is a fun and active way to get around snowy trails. Originating in Scandinavia, the kick sled is a selfpropelled sled with a chair and two rails that you ride with one foot and kick off with the other foot. You glide your way on a snow trail (that hopefully isn’t too icy), enjoy the scenery and work up a bit of a sweat getting around. It is great fun, an even better workout, and when you break for a hot chocolate or snack, you’ve already got your chair with you. How cool is that? Not all the winter fun has to take place outdoors. How about curling at the largest log cabin in the world? Built from 30,000 red cedar logs in the 1930s, the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is not just a historic and recently renovated hotel property complete with six-sided fireplace on the Ottawa River. It’s also got its own logcabin curling rink for you to learn how to ‘hurry hard’ and throw 42 lb rocks down the ice to score points in the house. This is an addictively fun sport that anyone can do. I like to think of it as Canada’s ‘other’ favorite ice activity. (Hint: Hockey is numero uno.)

If you’ve never tried fat biking in the snow before, you should. You’re essentially riding a bike, but with extralarge knobby tires that are designed to be grippy in the snow. I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, because I found it quite challenging. Especially going up hills on a 3 m/5 km trail into the woods of Coaticook Gorge. But, it’s a very cool experience that many people will absolutely love, hills or no hills. Let the dogs out and enjoy a winter classic, dog-sledding at Hotel Sacacomie in the beautiful Mauricie region. A local guide-musher takes you to the kennels where you’ll meet the 125 husky and malamute dogs on the property. Choose your sledding dogs and prepare for an energetic ride in the forest or on the lake, wrapped up cosy in fur blankets. You can even try mushing your own sled. Then relax with some hydrotherapy at the Hotel’s GEOS Nordic spa, complete with gorgeous views of Sacacomie Lake. Fishing in winter is a whole other ballgame. First of all, you won’t need a boat, and secondly, you’ll have to drill your own hole to access the fresh water and fish below. Which is a great warm-up activity for waiting on the ice while the fish decide whether to nibble on your line. Which is baited with corn rather than worms. The sweet bait works surprisingly well in the cold water, as the trout stocked at Parc Decouverte Nature in Eastern Townships proved. Fishing is a patience game but it’s quite satisfying, even if you’re only going to catch and release it. If you’ve caught lunch, the Parc has on-site facilities for cleaning and frying up your fish on the BBQ next to the pond. Winter means ice, and you can ice skate pretty much everywhere in Quebec. Indoor rinks and outdoor skating loops through forests and around lakes are plentiful throughout the province. For a truly magical ice-skating experience, lace up those blades and hit the 7 mile/12 km forest labyrinth skating rink in Mauricie, two hours north of Montreal. Horses, winter, sleighs, they were made to go together. Bundle up and climb into a sleigh pulled by two gorgeous brothers – Percheron horses Colt and Royale – at the Equestrian Centre Jacques Robidas in Eastern Townships. The brothers, each 17 hands tall (that’s tall) pull the wooden sleigh through sugar maple forests on land that the family has owned for generations. Fun fact: In olden times, when families had their own sleighs to get around (before the car), every family had their own unique jingle bell combo. It’s how you’d know that your neighbors were coming for dinner.


QUEBEC WINTER CARNIVAL Québec’s annual Winter Carnival is a calendar highlight both for locals and international visitors. Held annually over 17 days from the end of January through to February, this snow-filled festival has been celebrated for nearly 70 years and is today the largest winter carnival in the world. Despite the chilly temperatures (minus 28C when we visited!), some 500,000 visitors arrive bundled up every year with nearly half of those arriving from outside Québec City. It’s a fantastic family event with non-stop activities for kids young and old. Events take place throughout the city over three weekends during Carnaval with highlights including the Canoe Race, when teams navigate the frozen waters of the Saint Lawrence River in large canoes, and the Snow Bath, when crazy festival-goers roll around in the snow in just their swimsuits. There are also two-night parades and an International Snow Sculpture Event. The main Carnaval site is on the Plains of Abraham, just outside the city walls and the entrance to Old Québec. As long as you are wrapped up warm then you can easily spend hours tubing, sliding, dog-sled riding and more – all punctuated by regular breaks in the main cafe for hot chocolate and caribou - Québec’s winter punch that does a stellar job at keeping the cold at bay! If you're wondering what to expect at Carnaval, here are some of the activities you can enjoy.

SLEIGH BELLS RING, ARE YOU LISTENING… What better way to enjoy the pastoral winter scene than from a traditional horse drawn carriage? Rides take place around the snowy Plains of Abraham, the site of a pivotal battle on 13 September 1759, when the

British army defeated French troops in a battle that marked the beginning of the end of French rule in Canada. Rides last around 20 minutes and blankets are provided to keep you warm.

SEE THE SNOW SCULPTURES Every year, La Carnaval holds an International Snow Sculpture Competition that sees local and international artists chisel, carve and create magical sculptures around a theme of their choice. These are positioned around the festival grounds.

SPIN DOWN THE MOUNTAIN Different winter games are hosted every Carnaval, including our all-time favourite, snow tubing. Pull your tube up the slope and wait for one of the volunteers to push – or spin – you down the snowy slope.

DRIVE A DOG SLED I’ve always wanted to try dog sledding and although my visions of careering miles across open wilderness, led by a pack of white huskies was not quite realized, this was still a Carnaval highlight - especially when I realized I got to drive the sled! Well, in reality, the dogs knew exactly where they were going and I merely had to keep my balance.


In addition to traditional fairground rides La Carnaval de Québec offers some fun alternatives including human bowling, human table football and a miniature ice hockey rink. In human bowling, you’re placed within a large zorb ball at the top of a gentle slope. From here you have to roll your way down to the skittles and try and knock them over. Human football requires a few more participants but that shouldn’t be a problem, the game was packed when we visited.


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EAT MAPLE TAFFY Even if you do nothing else in Québec you have to try Maple Taffy. This was a first for us; chewy but not sticky, cold but melts easily, sweet but not overly so. Just as good, is the way in which it is made. Maple syrup is heated to an incredible 234F before being poured in strips along a packed snowy surface. Leave it to cool for 25 seconds and then roll the taffy up using your lollipop stick. Et Voila! A delicious Quebecoise treat.

SLIP SLIDE AWAY The festival site has something for all ages including a mini playground for younger kids. Not surprisingly, the ride with the biggest queues was the icy slide. One thing I loved about Québec City, is that these slides were seemingly everywhere. Find a patch of ice and inevitably someone will have created a slide for kids.

VISIT BONHOMME'S ICE PALACE The official mascot of the Carnaval since 1954, images of Bonhomme can be seen everywhere during the festival; at the airport, in shop windows, in hotel lobbies and, of course, at the festival itself. He is, without doubt, the star of the show. Bonhomme's home during the festival period is an Ice Palace that sits opposite the Parliament Building on Rue des Parlementaires. The Ice Palace is built using 300lb ice blocks and each year features a different theme for example the history of the arrow sash, the belt that Bonhmme wears around his waist. You may get lucky and see Bonhomme at the palace but if not, watch out for him during the parade.

WATCH LE DEFILE DE CARNAVALE DE QUEBEC The Défile du Carnavale de Québec, the Night Parade, takes place on the final weekend of the festival. Colorful floats, marching bands, dance troupes, musicians, acrobats and, of course, Bonhomme, wind their way through the city streets towards the Ice Palace. Another, more family-orientated, parade takes place on the second weekend of the festival. The family parade takes place in a more residential neighborhood, starts earlier and there’s a lot of interaction with the kids.





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I had literally just washed and packed all of our family's ski gear away for the season when my husband floated the idea of a summer ski trip to Chile. In all fairness, it was not the first time he had brought up the idea of a South American ski trip during our North American summer vacation (it was more like the 10th). While I am almost always game for an interesting adventure, I'll admit to a bit of hesitation as I considered the logistics. Several planes, so much gear, so much money – it all seemed to be too much. Add to that the fact that if we were going to fly all the way to Chile, there was no way I would miss visiting the Atacama Desert (the driest desert on earth – requiring more planes and a whole different packing list). If I have an Achilles' heel, however, it is the fact that I have a very hard time resisting the allure of a unique adventure (commonly referred to as FOMO). Oddly, part of the appeal for me was the fact that the infrastructure at Chile's ski resorts seemed a little rudimentary in comparison to North America’s slick resort operations. Does anyone else remember the days of bagging a lunch on the hill and having only enough change in your down-filled jacket pocket for a hot chocolate? In the end, it was a good seat sale to Chile's capital city of Santiago that finally tipped the scales for me. A family ski trip to South America was born.






Some of the best ski resorts in Chile are located quite close to Santiago. Within a two-hour drive, there are no less than six ski resorts including the three interconnected resorts of Tres Valles (El Colorado, Valle Nevado, and La Parva). There is also the rather exclusive Portillo Ski Resort that is only a 50 minute drive from the capital. Chile's ski season runs from June to October. As our August ski trip dates approached however, the snow gods were not cooperating. The slopes close to Santiago were nearly bare. In theory, this should have been peak ski season, but alas, one cannot control the weather. We were now forced to come up with a Plan B. We extended our search south and eventually decided on Nevados de Chillan, a ski resort that is a 6 hour drive south of Santiago (you can also fly to Concepciōn and drive 2 hours). Not only did this ski resort promise some decent snow, it offered us the added allure of skiing on an active volcano. It seemed like a great plan until local news outlets began reporting on an orange alert (2nd highest on the volcanic activity scale) due to increased ash plumes, unusual lava flow and multiple tremors. I wasn't even remotely comforted when someone on a travel forum replied to my concerns with: "It usually erupts in the opposite direction of the ski hill." Not one to admit defeat easily, I extended our search even further south and finally settled on Corralco, one of Chile’s newest ski resorts.




For more information,: Rates start at around $300 USD per adult/ per day (children 12 and under are 1/2 price) based on double occupancy, including lift tickets, breakfast and dinner.


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There is only one hotel right on the mountain at Corralco, and it’s a nice one. The luxurious Valle Corralco Hotel and Spa is uniquely nestled into a grove of monkey puzzle trees at the base of the mountain, offering incredible views of the volcano. The rooms are modern and well appointed (with adjoining room options for families). The property has a full service restaurant, beautiful lounge area, spa, indoor pool, outdoor hot tubs, fire pits, pool tables and a cinema. During our 3 night stay, we simply did not have time to make use of it all.






Take an 80 minute flight from Santiago to Temuco where you can either rent a car or take a shuttle for the 90 minute drive to the mountain. Alternatively, drive the 435 miles from Santiago to Corralco, which will take about 8 hours.



C O R R A L C O ?

Like Nevados de Chillan, Corralco Ski Resort is uniquely situated on a volcano, the Lonquimay Volcano. You ski entirely above the tree line on wide open runs with nearly unobstructed views of the whole ski hill. While we missed having the tree runs, at least there was never any danger of running into anything (I live in fear of my kids falling into a tree well). On the flip side, when the wind would blow, there was nowhere to take shelter, unless you wanted to build yourself a snow cave or go in for a hot chocolate.

With big, wide, mostly groomed runs, we found Corralco Ski Resort to be a great beginner-tointermediate mountain. Also, being quite remote, we didn’t have to deal with any crowds or long lift lineups. The inbound terrain at Corralco is not extensive (only two 2-person chairs and a handful of t-bars) but the area is also known for its good off-piste and backcountry skiing. In addition to the skiing, a couple of other things we enjoyed at Corralco were the wild foxes that ran around on the hill (quite oblivious to the nearby skiers and boarders), and the large tube and sledding park at the lodge base.







MOUNTAINS Are Calling...

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AND THEY WISH YOU WERE HERE Home to some of the most spectacular snow conditions in the west and certainly some of the most iconic landscapes in Canada, the SkiBig3 resorts in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains offer room to roam alongside a commitment to guest health and safety. Here’s how to plan an unforgettable winter ski holiday at SkiBig3 in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

COMMITMENT TO HEALTH & SAFETY Since the pandemic forced an abrupt end to the 2020 season in March, SkiBig3 resorts have been working with local and provincial health authorities in Alberta to implement health and safety protocols that will keep visitors, employees and local residents healthy and safe. These measures include increased sanitation and cleaning practices, the wearing of masks in all public indoor spaces in Canadian ski resorts, and mandatory masks in most outdoor public spaces as well. Physical distancing practices are in effect in restaurants and shops, along with directional signage to help with the flow of ski guests. Many shops and resorts will only be accepting credit or debit cards for purchases. There may also be capacity controls for lifts and gondolas.

GETTING TO BANFF IN WINTER To ski the three big ski resorts around Banff, you need to head to Banff National Park. The easiest way to do this if you don’t live in Alberta is to fly into Calgary airport. Rent a car and drive one and a half hours into the park. Make sure you rent an SUV or a car with all-wheel drive as conditions can get icy during the winter months.

THE SKIBIG3 MOUNTAINS Scheduled to open in early November and with 8,000 acres of terrain across the three unique ski resorts, skiers and riders of every ability can experience wide open bowls, cruisers and glades, steep and deep runs. Scheduled to open in early November and with 8,000

acres of terrain across the three unique ski resorts, skiers and riders of every ability can experience wide open bowls, cruisers and glades, steep and deep runs and space to stretch out and enjoy the best that winter has to offer among the towering peaks in Canada’s first National Park. Mount Norquay is the closest mountain, a mere 15 minutes up the 'hill' from Banff. Sunshine is about 20 minutes down Highway 1 West/Trans Canadian Highway. Lake Louise Ski Resort is the farthest away at 45 minutes, but that’s just a nice excuse to pop into the Fairmont Lake Louise for afternoon tea.

MT. NORQUAY Mt. Norquay is generally known as the mountain for the more experienced skier. It’s where the locals go after work, kids go tubing, and night skiing is actually available. Most trails are designated blue or black, although you will find some harder greens in the mix. Take the North American sightseeing chairlift up to the Cliffhouse Bistro for hot chocolate or boozy libations with a view. If you aren’t prepared to take some extreme runs back down, leave your skis at the base. You can ride this lift up and back down. For those looking for lunch at the lodge, pop upstairs to the Lone Pine Pub for bao buns and other unconventional and delicious ski foods.

SUNSHINE VILLAGE Just 20 minutes north of downtown Banff, Sunshine Village offers wide open spaces and a variety of runs for every level of skiers or rider. If you love green runs, ask

a mountain guide where to start, especially if you haven’t skied in powder for a while. As any Canadian will tell you, not all greens are created equal. Parking is at the base of the mountain with a rental and gear shop, plus lodge, but you will need to ride the gondola to actually get the lifts that will take you up to the runs. This is where you will find most of the restaurants and the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. It’s a chilly ride up, so stop for a loaded hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows at the Java Lift coffee shop before you head out on the slopes. Above the coffee shop, in the Lodge, is the Chimney Corner. Grab a reservation here to meet large groups of friends who crave salads, charcuterie and burgers. If you’re craving the best fried pickles and wings on the mountain, head to Mad Trapper’s Smokehouse, it’s the perfect après ski spot. Get there early if you plan on riding the gondola back down before it closes at 5:30pm (10:30pm Fridays). Those who miss the last gondola will have to ski back down to the base to grab a shuttle or hop in their car.

LAKE LOUISE Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in the area, with trails for all skill levels. Those looking to take lessons can sign up at the ski school, while more advanced skiers will want to jump on the Grizzly Gondola right away to hit the mountain. Be mindful that you can ski to different chair lifts to get to many different parts of the mountain, take the Gondola back to the ski lodge or ski yourself down. There are more options than you could imagine. Advanced skiers can also take advantage of Adventure Guides who can showcase more of the terrain, a great way to familiarize oneself with Louise's sweet ski spots.


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SKIBIG3 PASS Anyone who is looking to get the most out of their visit to Banff needs to pick up the SkiBig3 Pass. This ski pass gives you access to Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt Norquay. You will get more value for your money, as well as more trail option no matter your skill level. SkiBig3 resorts offer several ticket bundling options with hotel accommodation bookings. Guests can book with confidence and enjoy no cancellation fees and free itinerary changes until 3 days prior to arrival. SkiBig3 is an Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective destination, so if you’re a passholder, be sure to tap into some great lodging deals.

SKIBIG3 ADVENTURE HUB Before you even hit the slopes, you can grab your SkiBig3 passes at the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub in Banff. You can also book lessons, try on ski and snowboard rentals, and pick up any other gear you forgot at home in the shop. Best, and most convenient of all, SkiBig3 will deliver your rentals to your hotel and pick up your rentals after you wrap up your adventure. No more schlepping gear all over town!



Hike into the Narrows of Zion National Park in winter, when the crowds are few and you can truly be alone in nature, even if it's just for a moment.

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There was regret and sorrow as we left Zion National Park back in 2014. We’d only scheduled a day in the park. Huge mistake. We also hadn’t been able to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park, one of the main attractions in this favorite park in the U.S. park system. Our boys were just too young, and our backs were just not strong enough to carry three-year-old and five-yearold boys for five hours through the famed slot caverns of Utah. My husband and I swore we would come back. Little did I know that I would be back to hike the Narrows solo, leaving my husband behind to watch the kids. Yes, I’m that wife. When a friend asked me to join her for a trip to St. George, Utah, with our friends, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was signing up for. As soon as she mentioned it would include hiking the Narrows, I was in. The catch was that we would be doing it in February. This may sound crazy, but it wasn’t. Those in the know realize that Zion is less crowded in the winter months, yet just as amazing. It is also the best time to hike the Narrows.

TIME TO HIKE THE NARROWS On a brisk Saturday morning in February, about twenty of us gathered at Zion Adventure Company to grab our reserved dry suits, socks and boots that we would use to hike into the Zion Narrows. We had to watch a safety video reviewing the dangers of flash floods and all giggled a bit over what we were about to undertake. People thought this was a bit crazy in the summer, and we were going to do it in the dead of winter.

We got lucky. It was 60 degrees and there was no chance of rain and it hadn’t snowed in a few days. Flash floods are a major danger in the Narrows. If a flood comes rushing down the river, there is literally nowhere for you to hide. The canyon walls are smooth; you cannot climb to higher ground. If the guides and the park rangers tell you to stay out of the Zion Narrows, you listen. Flash flood warnings were low; we were good to go. I was pumped to get going in Zion canyon. The massive cappuccino I’d had at breakfast might have had something to do with it. I rarely do full caf drinks thanks to a lifetime of traveling with migraines, but I was doing this hike. I was fulfilling a dream to do the Narrows hike in Zion National Park much sooner than I ever anticipated. The only problem was that my husband wasn’t here with me. We were both sad, but we thought of my adventure as a scouting trip. I was checking out the terrain to see if it was something we could do with our boys. We were ready to go back to Zion, but only if they could do the hike. In order to day hike the Narrows from the bottom up, you have to take the Zion National Park tram to the Temple of Sinawava. You then trek along the Riverside Walk trail until it ends, climb down the steps and get into the river. This is where the Narrows day hike begins, not that anything is really marked.

IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT I exploded down that river ahead of our group. I wanted a few photos with no one in them. I’d read all of the photo guides, I knew what to expect. There would be hordes of people in my photos. The visitors center had

neoprene socks really work!) I slipped on rocks, twisted both ankles and almost dropped my heavy DSLR camera into the river more times I can remember. My toes got colder the farther we went into the cavern, as not as much sunlight could get in to warm up the riverbed and air. I dug out my fleece gloves to warm up my fingertips so I could continue to take photos. We had to keep pushing forward.

WALL STREET MADE ME DO IT When you are hiking the Narrows from the bottom up, (you can also do a longer top down hike along the Virgin river) the canyon splits into two sections—“Wall Street,” which is longer, and Orderville Canyon, which is shorter. Naturally, I took the Wall Street route. A few of us headed up that way. We made it almost to the point where you need to have registered with the park service and gotten a permit to go further.We wanted to hike more, but we were well past two o’clock in the afternoon at this point. Our gear was due back by six. The sun would set and we did not want to be in the Narrows when it was dark just in case the water flow changed.

been busy, even though the national park service claimed it was low season (one bus full of people and I think it’s crowded though). This was the Narrows of Zion National Park. Everyone knew this was an amazing spot to hike and take photos. I expected a fashion Instagrammer to waltz down in a ballgown at any moment. And yet, she didn’t. In fact, besides two other travelers taking advantage of the lovely weather, there was no one else ahead of me for quite a while. My group soon caught up and a friend reminded me: this is a marathon, not a sprint up the Narrows. We had five hours of hiking (round trip) ahead of us. It was time to slow down and enjoy it. So, I did. Every curve in the rocks brought us to a new scene in the canyon. Water ebbed around us, the flow rate just perfect, weaving a deeper path in a never-ending cut in this part of the country that it had been carved out for over a millennium. Was it gorgeous? Do you even need to ask? And you know what… the crowds never showed up. Despite it being a holiday weekend, our little group was the crowd. We trekked through knee high water, opted to go around waist deep water at one point. (OK, we did go through it just once for a photo. Those dry suits and

There were six of us who had hiked this far out of the twenty in our group. We grudgingly turned around. We were tired, cold and a burger was calling my name. A friend laughed as I chatted about exactly how my burger would be built. I told him what I would have to drink with it too. In the end, it came down to a double-bacon cheeseburger with a healthy serving of Scotch to get me warm. There was no need for the Scotch, though. Between the massive amount of camera gear I was carrying on my back and coming out of the canyon, our toes warmed up and I was happy as a clam with a juicy burger for dinner once I was in my dry shoes again.

WINTER IN THE NARROWS Winter might not be the time people think to hike in the Narrows of Zion National Park, but they should. We only ever came across a handful of people, which meant no one was ever in our photos. We kept a steady pace, which ensured that we were warm throughout the day. My husband might not have been with me, but thanks to my friends, I had a few photos of myself in the Narrows, as well as a couple of the St. George state parks. I also got to scout a hike our family has dreamed about doing for together for years. Now, it's time to plan our trip back!


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WINTER IN ZION NATIONAL PARK Want to hike the Narrows too? Click to READ MORE about this amazing trail on




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LOOMING VOLCANOS, COBBLESTONE STREETS AND A VIBRANT AND COLORFUL LOCAL CULTURE HAS LURED VISITORS FOR DECADES TO ANTIGUA, THE IDYLLIC TOURIST TOWN IN THE CENTER OF GUATEMALA. “Hey Mom,” my son frantically yells from the bathroom of a small cafe we popped into on our first wander around town. I run over to make sure he hasn’t locked himself in the bathroom again like in Panama. “There is a sign in here that says we can roast marshmallows on an active volcano!” Yes, I’d heard about families hiking up Pacaya, one of the local volcanos, to roast marshmallows on the steam vents. I figured this would be something my nature and adventure-loving child would want to do. I just hadn’t gotten around to the idea of it myself. However, giving in to my son’s whims is what I’m known for. It’s what has led us to see orangutans in Borneo, swim in the Amazon River in Brazil and explore the world on a 10-month adventure together. So, of course we headed out of the Rainbow Cafe, one of the many foreign hangouts dotted around the adorably walkable town, in search of someone who could make my son’s volcanic dreams come true. After all, isn't that what parents do as best we can, whether at home or away?

Aimlessly wandering the cobblestone streets of Antigua, my mind turned to memories of my last visit, more than 15 years ago. The city looked almost identical, as the Spanish-Baroque influenced buildings in this heritage town are forbidden to change their exteriors. Still, it was difficult to ignore the addition of more boutique hotels, noisy auto rickshaws imported from India and a whole lot more of everything geared towards tourists. That said, even with its bustling atmosphere, the town retained the charm that has long lured visitors. The looming volcanos, the culinary delights, ancient ruins and a vibrant local community provide the perfect backdrop to any family holiday. Antigua is a mecca for those interested in Spanish language classes, which is what brought us here for several weeks. This affordable and hip town offers everything from upmarket sushi to safe, delicious local joints that make even an 8 year old happy. Storefronts display intricate wood carvings, chic leather good including “go” bags with eco friendly metal straws, as well as a variety of native weavings in all shapes and forms that will soon overflow in tourists’ luggage.

Walking around the town, you can’t help but look up at the volcanos looming over you. Each morning our excitement would peak while seeing giant puffs of ash and smoke erupt from Fuego, one of the most active volcanos in Guatemala. I just never thought that part of our Guatemalan adventure would be climbing one of these notoriously active volcanos, much less spending the night on one! For avid hikers, a more popular trip is a strenuous 5,000 foot ascent to the volcano of Acatenango which takes anywhere from 8 hours to two days. This was well out of our fitness level, but a local guide quickly convinced my son that a day trip to Volcan Pacaya was also not enough. The guide was certain that we could manage the short but steep 2-hour hike to Volcan Pacaya, even while wearing 30 lbs of gear in borrowed backpacks for the more exciting overnight adventure. Each hiking group is required to spread out the supplies for the whole group including tents, food, water and sleeping gear. I’ve never had to hike steep terrain, in the dark with a pack on, but I managed.. well halfway at least. Luckily for us, horses with their owners follow tourists up the steep mountain waiting for the moment of exhaustion to take over and visitors to give in to the hefty price tag to carry you the rest of the way. In hindsight I could have made it the whole way, but those last 10-15 minutes on horseback were glorious and well worth the price I paid! Tip for future travelers, just pay for the horses from the start if you think you won’t make it. The price is the same no matter when you hop on.

••• “This was the best day ever!” exclaims my son as we drag ourselves along the bumpy streets smelling like campfire, tired and hungry after spending the night on the volcano. I was surprised to hear this exclamation since the previous night he was terrified as we hiked in the pitch black in deep crumbles of volcanic rock, inching our way closer to the glowing lava ahead.

With each step, we could feel the booms getting stronger as the explosions rang out overhead. Seeing red molten lava shoot into the night straight from the earth's core was completely out of this world. The excitement of being so close to hot rocks spewing from the crater overwhelmed us, and we forgot all about the purpose of our hike - to roast marshmallows on steam vents. Regardless of our failure here, this was definitely an adventure worth the effort. Waking up in a dense fog obscuring the volcano we slept on was disappointing, but watching the sky clear to reveal exquisite views of Fuego and Acatenango was more than enough to carry our sleep-deprived bodies down the mountain. Sorry, no horses are allowed on the way down.


These days, hiking an active volcano is almost on par with climbing the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal; both bucket-list items that must be checked off before you depart the country. The rest of our stay in Antigua wasn’t quite as adventurous, although I would argue it was just as fun. Following morning Spanish lessons we would adventure around the town and to nearby markets by riding the local “chicken” buses (colorfully painted imported school buses from the U.S. used as public transportation). Our afternoon adventures also included taking a deep dive into the history of chocolate with a hands-on chocolate making class at the ChocoMuseo. Of course we couldn’t leave without a tutorial on making the delicious tortillas we ate every day and a few other local dishes from scratch, not to mention trying out as many of the budget-friendly local cafes and restaurants as we could. Guatemala is an under-the-radar destination that is rich in cultural experiences, nature getaways and gorgeous boutique hotels. Travelers in the know have long traveled here for off the beaten path adventures in the jungle, to learn Spanish for cheap, or even for retirement. And the hub of it all, for good reason, is Antigua, the beautiful former 17th-century capital of Central America.


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WHAT ELSE TO DO IN GUATEMALA While many travelers are known to only visit the charming town of Antigua in the highlands of Guatemala, for those who can pull themselves away, more adventure awaits. From yoga retreats in one of the many small towns dotting the shores of Lake Atitlan to sunrise hikes with howler monkeys at Tikal to luxurious jungle escapes at Las Lagunas, this country has it all covered. For those who want to see the highlights on a short trip, we recommend Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Tikal as jumping off points. Leaving the well heeled tourist town of Antigua, visitors will be welcomed into the arms of a more traditional Guatemala. Colorful markets filled with knick knacks and daily goods set up against rural towns no longer catering to travelers, rather to locals.

LAKE ATITLAN Panajachel is the main hub at Lake Atitlan offering a busy town set on the shores of a beautiful volcano ringed lake. For those with limited time, we suggest staying here while making day trips to other towns along the lake. For those with more time, explore villages like San Marcos to practice yoga and San Pedro to learn Spanish. In San Juan La Laguna take a weaving class from local weavers or learn how to dye fabric from natural materials.

TIKAL A visit to Guatemala is not complete without seeing these majestic Mayan ruins hidden in the jungles for centuries. It’s one of the few remaining UNESCO World Heritage Sites that allows visitors to climb on the ruins and explore. While here, take a sunrise hike up Temple IV to experience the jungle as it awakens and explore the ruins in search of the wild animals that call this area home.

FLORES Flores is often the jumping off point for Tikal, but we highly recommend taking a break in luxurious surroundings at Las Lagunas Resort set on a lagoon. The hotel is perfect for kayaking and visiting the onsite animal reserve and monkey island sanctuary.

SEMUC CHAMPEY For the more adventurous travelers and those with ample time, a stop at Semuc Champey is a must. These beautiful limestone pools lure backpackers and luxury travelers alike to soak up their cold waters, explore cave networks and of course take in the stunning views.


Antigua and most tourist towns are ecofriendly and as such often provide free boiled water to guests. Bring your own water bottle to fill up. It’s not safe to drink the tap water without boiling/purifying. Bringing your own purification bottle too. You will see guns. On the Coca-Cola truck, on military personnel and policemen in tourist towns. They are meant to discourage crime, but it can be jarring for unsuspecting visitors. Antigua and much of Guatemala has beautiful spring-like weather most of the year. Pack long sleeves and hoodies if you're planning on hiking volcanoes.

Guatemalans are some of the friendliest people. They will always say “Buenas” as they pass on the road English is not widely spoken outside of major tourist shops/hotels. Learn a few basic Spanish phrases to get around. Cash is king. And not only cash, but small bills. Note: it’s not unheard of for ATMs to run out of money. Stock up in bigger towns before you head out to the smaller villages Earthquakes do happen, as do major volcanic eruptions. Keep up to date on the latest news.



MEXICO Join us for an all-inclusive long weekend in Merida, Mexico, filled with rest, relaxation, exploration, and of course, food. Learn More:



SUPER STYLISH SKI RESORTS Whether you're the kind of skier who's first in line for the morning chairlift or you prefer a gentle blue run followed by a long lunch, at the end of a day on the slopes you want somewhere stylish to store your skis. We round up some of the world's most good-looking ski resorts from a hotel made famous by movie stars and a swish boutique hotel in Japan to a frozen fairytale palace in Canada and a resort that oozes laidback California vibes, these mountain lodges are the pick of the pops. Time to wax down those skis and hit the slopes!






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Sundance Mountain Resort BY AMY WHITLEY • AMYWHITLEY.COM

Envisioned at its inception as a ‘careful balance of art, nature, and community’ by founder Robert Redford, Sundance Mountain Resort does indeed gracefully harmonize the rugged Wasatch mountain range with the sophistication of American Western luxury. Nestled between walls of granite and, in our case as winter visitors, a healthy snowpack, this resort has a cozy feel to it, despite its upscale amenities. We settled into one of the mountain rooms, but suites and entire homes are also on offer. No matter where you stay, the ski resort lifts are within easy walking distance, but the General Store, celebrated dining options, year-round art studio, and spa all make a great argument for taking a day off the slopes. We arrived just before happy hour, so our first destination was the Owl Bar, whose centerpiece 1890s bar was rumored to have once been frequented by Butch Cassidy. We lingered before our reservation at the Tree Room, named for, you guessed it, the actual tree it was constructed around. Even so, what catches the eye first is the breathtaking Native American art adorning the Tree Room’s walls, all from Robert Redford’s private collection. The pottery, cochina dolls, and blankets lend a warm and ‘lived in’ look to the elegance of the dining room. The next morning, skiing was on the agenda. Sundance isn’t the biggest or steepest Utah terrain by any means, but its 5000 acres of protected wilderness sits at the

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base of 12,000 foot Mt. Timpanogos, and its 2150 vertical feet include some of the most gorgeous scenery to be found in the state. Don’t miss lunch at the Bearclaw Tavern, located at the top of the Ray’s and Red’s lifts. The 360-degree views of the Heber Valley and the surrounding Wasatch Mountains will bring happy tears to your eyes… if the loaded nachos don’t first! Back at the resort, store your skis right by the lifts and enjoy apres-ski back at the Owl, or treat yourself to a spa treatment before dinner. If you have energy to spare, take a class at the art studio, or just learn from the best, enjoying a demonstration by local artists each Saturday. Be sure to check out the glass blower studio and the many prints, paintings, and photographs available for sale year-round. Fly fishing is also offered year-round at Sundance, and during the summer months, mountain biking, hiking, zip tours, and scenic gondola rides will help you work up those appetites for Tree Room or the more casual fare at Foundry Grill, located in the same complex at the base of the mountain in the heart of the resort. Rooms and suites blend luxury with a rustic cabin vibe, with large stone fireplaces, wool blankets, and exposed beams and log walls rounding out the decor. All have views of the mountain or surrounding forests, and all are within easy walking or short driving distance of the restaurants, bar, and store.


8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, UT 84604 WEB SITE STARTING PRICE



Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe


13031 Ritz Carlton Highlands Ct, Truckee, CA 96161 WEB SITE STARTING PRICE



In the Lake Tahoe area, few hotels rival the experience offered at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. This property is located in Truckee, California, in a prime slope-side location at one of the region's largest ski areas, Northstar California Resort.

The hotel also has a full ski shop on site. The store rents ski and snowboarding equipment and sells lift tickets, all with much shorter lines. Families putting kids in Northstar's ski school will find a meet up location right on the hotel's back deck as well.

While the property is luxurious and priced accordingly, travelers of all types will feel at home here. A laid back Tahoe vibe predominates. Service is meticulous but not pretentious.

For foodies, the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers a mix of premium and more casual dining. The hotel's signature restaurant is Manzanita, serving upscale California cuisine in a rustic mountain setting. The hotel's high ceiling lobby is home to The Living Room where diners can order a burger or a cocktail while sitting on lobby couches. Cafe Blue serves quick bites and coffee in the morning, and the hotel's back deck has a barbecue restaurant perfect for lunch and dinner on bluebird days.

Rooms at the hotel are quite large, with standard rooms that feature either a single king or two queen beds starting at 455 square feet. Each room features a fireplace and an oversized tub. For skiers and riders, the resort offers ski-in and ski-out access. The property is served by its own chairlift that originates near the top of Northstar's gondola. This means that guests of the Ritz-Carlton get to skip the usual gondola ride each morning from the resort's base and get right into the powder for first tracks. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers services on site to make the logistics of a ski vacation easier. As soon as guests drive up to the resort, a ski concierge whisks skis and boards from ski racks to the hotel's slopeside secure storage area. When it's time to get out on the slopes, another concierge on the hotel's back deck carries guests' skis from storage on and off the snow. Guests can store ski boots at an indoor boot check just steps away to avoid tracking slush through the property.

The greater resort area has a wide variety of off-theslopes offerings in addition to food. The Highlands Gondola connects the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe to the Village at Northstar. After a ride of a few minutes (no lift ticket required), guests disembark into the thick of things in the Village. This area has multiple restaurants, several boutiques, an ice-skating rink, a tubing hill, and a movie theater. On the Ritz property itself, the hotel often features live music in the evenings in the lobby. The property is also known for its afternoon "Marshmology" session, where gourmet s'mores are served by the hotel's outdoor firepits. Guests can also enjoy a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and a full service spa on site.

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Omni Mount Washington resort BY NICOLE FELICIANO • MOMTRENDS.COM

Winter is the perfect time to make a trip to visit New England, and the Omni Mount Washington resort in New Hampshire is an ideal choice for families seeking snowplay fun both on and off the slopes. The Omni Mount Washington is a true destination resort. The main building, constructed at the turn of the century, has a grand entrance leading to everything you'll need to create memories with your family. Originally owned by the Stickney family, guests used to arrive by train and visit only during the warm months. Nowadays, the resort is open year round and visitors drive to the location. History buffs will know the resort for the famous Bretton Woods money conference held there in 1944. Stop in the Gold Room at Mount Washington to relive history. This is where the final articles of the agreement for the International Monetary Conference were signed in July 1944. The holidays are a fantastic time to visit the resort. The resort and grounds are resplendent with trees, lights and greenery. The grand lobby is beautiful decorated, and individual guest rooms are equally delightful. Suites are large and spacious, including the marble bathrooms. And there are little touches everywhere, including welcome treats and nighttime deliveries of milk and cookies.

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ADDRESS ADDRESS Mount Washington Rd, Bretton Woods, NH 16205310 SE Kreder RoadDayton,Hotel OR 97114 WEB WEB SITE SITE STARTING PRICE STARTING PRICE $95/night


There are four restaurants at Mount Washington, enough to keep everyone happy and fueled for the day's activities. For a dress-up dinner, head to Stickney’s Restaurant. The menu varies nightly in the resort's main dining room where food is served buffet style. Skiers will enjoy easy access to nearby Bretton Woods ski hill, but don't forget about nordic skiing. There are miles of trails, which are also open for snowshoeing and running if the snow melts. If you want to swim, there are two heated options, one indoors and one outdoors. For off-slope fun, try zipping down the tubing hill and booking a sleigh ride. The tubing hill is just steps away from the resort lobby. Tip: Pop into the New England Ski Museum. Near Cannon Mountain, it's home to Bode Miller’s 5 olympic medals and his famous skiwear. There are also exhibits on the history of skiing in New England. Museum details at


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As chic ski lodges go, there is arguably no finer winter accommodation to warm up after spending a day on the slopes in Canada’s finest National Park then the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.

The hotel’s Health Club and indoor Aquatic Pool require reservations, which are also recommended for the Chateau Lake Louise’s dining experiences, including at the Fairview Bar & Restaurant, Walliser Stube, Lakeview Lounge, and Poppy Brasserie.

Located on one of most iconic lakefronts in Canada, as if plucked from a frozen fairy tale, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a luxurious hotel property within a 10 to 45-minute drive to Banff’s SkiBig3 ski resorts, including one of the finest, Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Enjoy the daily Afternoon Tea service in the Fairview Lounge, which includes a variety of tea choices and tiered finger sandwiches and desserts, along with views of wintery Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers a variety of hotel suites within its inventory of 539 rooms, one for every size of traveling party, and all with breathtaking lakefront or Canadian Rocky Mountain views.

After roaring down runs on nearby ski slopes to gliding on frozen lake ice, cozying up in your hotel suite with a cup of tea or hot toddy at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise will make for a memorable winter getaway.

Like all Fairmont hotel properties, the Chateau Lake Louise employs the highest health and safety protocols, as part of its AllSafeandWell program. Hotel guests are required to wear masks on property, housekeeping has been limited, and guests may be subject to temperature checks. The value of staying in the center of Lake Louise has its true benefits in winter, as mountain activities are close at hand and in walking distance. The Chateau Lake Louise offers a wide variety of winter adventure programs for everyone in the family. From guided snowshoe hikes to cross country skiing, the booking of downhill ski lessons, lift tickets or snow tubing, the Chateau Lake Louise can assist guest with arrangements, ski shuttles and reservations. Winter is the ideal time to lace up skates for a spin or pick-up hockey game on one of the world’s best skating rinks. Lake Louise is cleared daily of snowfall, and guests can rent skates at the hotel’s Alpine Social Rentals.


111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0 WEB SITE STARTING PRICE

$200-400/per night

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Kimamaya Boutique Hotel in Niseko has all of the amenities of a large hotel, in a small, comfortable setting. When you arrive you are brought to the lounge area to check-in where they will give you a cell phone to use and any lift tickets you need. They have family loft rooms with a king bed downstairs and two tatami mats upstairs for the kids. Some of the rooms have a day bed which is convenient for those families who need the extra sleeping space. Kimamaya has a playroom stocked with a TV, games, crafts and more where families can spend time together in addition to the main lounge. You may even find that the staff has built an igloo outside for more playtime! Kimamaya also has onsens which you can book privately for your family as well as a full-service spa for parents. When you are ready to ski, Kimamaya’s van will drop you off directly at ski school where you can also catch the lift. At the end of your day use the cell phone provided to call for a ride back to the hotel. They have a heated gear storage area and ski locker room so your gear is always ready for the next day. Breakfast is in the hotel’s restaurant which opens exclusively in the morning for hotel guests. The breakfast menu is small but they have enough choices for everyone. Children enjoy hot chocolates where the baristas make animal faces out of milk foam. For dinner there are a lot of nearby options in town in addition to the on-site restaurant. Kimamaya’s hosts will make suggestions and reservations for you and, if available, the hotel van will drop you off at dinner With so many thoughtful details for families, Kimamaya Boutique Hotel is the perfect gem.


170-248 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan WEB SITE

Spotlight ON CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP Go cruising along Caifornia's magnificent Pacific coastline

SFO AL FRESCO Discover the places the locals love in the great urban spaces of San Francisco



Hit the highlights in the City of Angels on a car-free weekend in LA

Start California dreaming with our guide to the best beaches in the state

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a i n r o f i l Ca


As far as road trips go, California’s classic Highway 1 has it all. It’s an excellent highway for drivers, with twists, turns and narrow bends in the road. It offers beautiful, often wind-swept vistas of the Pacific Ocean, and snakes along a rugged coastline connecting mega cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as smaller dots on the map like Harmony, Cambria and Guadalupe. In between are protected state forests, acres of green farm fields, and many points of interest along the way worth a stopover. Get revved up for the road with a taste of classic California along Highway 1, driving northward between Santa Monica to Carmel-by-the-Sea.

DID YOU KNOW? California’s State Route 1 runs for over 659 miles (1,055 km) and is the longest state route in the Golden State. In 2017, a massive landslide closed a large section of the highway near Big Sur, and drivers were diverted from the coast for 14 months. The road was reopened in July 2018, to the joy of drivers everywhere. You can access Highway 1 from either the north or southern ends, and anywhere in between.

SANTA MONICA This fun city northwest of Los Angeles is a great spot to begin your cruise up the California coast. The downtown is highly walkable, including to the famous Santa Monica Pier, home to the Pacific Park amusement park and Pier Aquarium. Rent cruiser bikes or use the ubiquitous escooters (download the app first) to follow the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike trail, known as “The Strand,” a paved path that follows the oceanfront for around 22 miles.

SANTA BARBARA The elegant and sophisticated city of Santa Barbara is shaded with tall palm trees, colourful flowering vines, and graced with classic Spanish architecture to the point that the city is referred to as the “American Riviera.” Enjoy a stroll down State Street, pop into local boutiques, and taste a sea salt ice cream cone at McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream. The historic Presidio, built in 1782, houses one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state, El Cuartel. The classic Old Mission Santa Barbara is also well worth a stop.

PISMO BEACH A classic California surf spot, Pismo Beach enjoys one of the widest stretches of sandy beach anywhere on the coast. If surfing isn’t your jam, try dune-buggy racing at Oceano Dunes, one of the only spots in the state where it’s legal to drive on the beach dunes. Walk the 1,200 foot Pismo Beach Pier built in 1928. Pop into Spalsh Café for a steaming bowl of incredible clam chowder. From October to February, tens of thousands of bright orange and black butterflies gather at the Monarch Butterfly Grove to spend the winter months in the trees of Pismo Sate Beach.

MORRO BAY STATE PARK This pretty coastal state park has beautiful views of the ocean and Morro Rock (as seen on Instagram), as well as a wildlife estuary and rookery for herons and egrets near the shoreline. There’s an interpretive Estuary Nature Center, and keep an eye out on the horizon. At certain times of the year, whales can be seen migrating up the coast to Alaska.

HEARST CASTLE AND SAN SIMEON Atop a hill overlooking the coast, Hearst Castle is a massive, opulent mansion that was built as a private residence by publishing icon William Randolph Hearst

in 1947. The views from what are now state park grounds are stunning, as is the 165-room castle and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains and pools. The standout outdoor Neptune Pool is an over-the-top homage to ancient Rome, with marble statues of its trident-wielding namesake and other gods guarding the pool.

ELEPHANT SEAL PRESERVE AT PIEDRAS BLANCAS While the massive elephant seal isn’t the most attractive of creatures, seeing thousands of them huddled along the rugged ‘white rocks’ of this section of coastline is worth an observation. While most of the 5,000 lb seals sunbathe close together against the wind, bull elephants can be spotted bellowing and battling one another for space on the beach, or depending on the season, mating rights.

BIG SUR If you’ve watched the television show Big Little Lies, you’re familiar with the Bixby Bridge that connects Big Sur to Carmel and Monterey. Roughly a 90-mile-long stretch of deeply forested and fog-bound coastline, Big Sur is one of the most iconic sections of Highway 1. The road twists and turns along the coastline, with glimpses of migrating whales or sea otters playing in the kelp. Its small village center feels like a throwback to the 1960s, and is nestled among towering redwoods. Stop into the Henry Miller Memorial Library to peruse the stacks, or enjoy one of its outdoor concerts in the woods. If looking for seclusion or inspiration, the Esalen Institute offers relaxation along with 600 courses in everything from yoga to mindfulness to samba.

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA At its core, charming and romantic Carmel is a village in a forest overlooking a white-sand beach. And it’s a lovely beach, a walkable, dog-friendly crescent of soft sand giving way to the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Founded by artists and writers that relocated here after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, Carmel is an affluent haven of creativity, leisure, and natural inspiration. Walk along narrow streets with neatly framed whimsical cottages, pop into art galleries and restaurants along Ocean Avenue, navigate the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach and don’t miss the centuries-old Lone Cypress, visit the sea otters at Point Lobos State Reserve, and take in California’s Spanish Mission history at the 18th century Mission Carmel.

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With its famous foggy weather system and chilly Bay waters, San Francisco may not be top of mind when looking for outdoor fun. It would be a shame to overlook it though, because outdoor fun in San Francisco is colorful and quite unique. So grab a jacket and make sure your phone is fully charged! Travelers love to snap selfies in many of these famous spots. San Francisco is home to a colorful burgeoning street art scene. Outdoor murals, dazzling mosaic staircases and hiking trails that feature local artists in the most surprising places make for fabulous fresh-air fun in San Francisco. Here are a few of the most Instagrammable places.

MISSION DISTRICT MURALS An outdoor gallery of vibrant murals awaits in the Mission District. Hundreds of walls and fences throughout the neighborhood are adorned with colorful works of art covering themes ranging from cultural heritage and social political statements to gentrification and government injustice. The best places for immersing yourself in these works are Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley. Be sure to stop at the Women’s Building as well. The Maestrapeace mural honors women’s contributions from around the world.



Art Trail SF traverses the city’s central neighborhoods, from Hayes Valley to Alamo Square, through the Lower Haight and along the Divisadero Corridor. There's a great mix of new and edgy on the Trail. A great example of this is the rotating gallery of murals called the Painted Gentlemen, situated adjacent to the iconic row of Victorian homes known as the Painted Ladies. Download the Art Trail SF app on to keep up with the new developments on this creative trail.

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San Francisco has several staircases that are frequently featured in social media selfies. They are often quite steep, consist of more than 100 steps, and showcase neighborhoods, gardens and lovely views. Some of the finest include the dazzling mosaic on the 16th Avenue Steps; unique design on the Lincoln Park Steps; and the embossed tiles forming butterflies and floral patterns on the Hidden Garden steps. Prepare to be amazed at these fantastic community collaborations.


GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE The most classic of all of San Francisco’s outdoor fun, there is nothing like standing on the Golden Gate Bridge and belting out the lyric, “San Francisco, open your Golden Gate!” While a walk across the span is an easy activity, it can also be a chilly experience. Be sure to dress in layers! One of the most beloved bridges in the world, those who brave its platforms are rewarded with views of the city skyline just beyond Alcatraz and a unique bird’s eye view into the Civil War-era Fort Point below it.

LOMBARD STREET Visitors have been lining up to navigate the eight hairpin turns of Lombard Street for eons! In fact, Lombard Street is one San Francisco’s most popular sites for free outdoor fun. Fair warning, it can attract a backup of cars waiting to make the drive down. If you are short on time, consider climbing the stairs alongside it instead. The walk up is steep but, the view from the top is a great reward.

GOLDEN GATE PARK San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has plenty of space for outdoor adventure. Picture a landscape consisting of more than 600 forested acres, 130 acres of meadows and 33 acres of lakes! There are hidden treasures all over the park. A small herd of bison has roved the park’s 35-acre Bison Paddock since the late 1800s. Visitors can rent bikes and paddle boats. They can also snap photos with beautiful backdrops like Strawberry Hill, an island with a waterfall, or picturesque Stow Lake. A walk in the Japanese Tea Garden includes pagodas, stone lanterns, Koi ponds, and Zen gardens.

HYDE STREET PIER There was a time when drivers came to the Hyde Street Pier and loaded their vehicles on large ferry boats to travel back and forth between San Francisco, Marin, and the East Bay. This route was part of US 101 until the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge made it defunct. Now it is part of San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Tucked between Fisherman’s Wharf and Aquatic Park, it would be easy to miss it. You’d be missing out on a great living history experience though. Hyde Street Pier offers an interesting peek into the way the Bay Area traveled in the past. You can walk the pier and check out the historic ships anchored around it from land, free of charge.


Perched on the edge of San Francisco’s Lands End area, are the last remnants of the storied history of one of the city’s former mayors and early innovators--- Adolph Sutro. The Sutro Baths were his passion project. They were considered a feat of engineering in the 1890s. During their heyday the baths were a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. But they eventually fell out of popularity and into disrepair. What was left was destroyed by fire in the mid-1960s. Today, a visit to the bath ruins offer curious explorations and stunning ocean views to hikers who venture to the area.

PRESIDIO This San Francisco outdoor fun spot is also the largest US national park in an urban area. Presidio Park is home to a myriad of butterfly species, birds, and native plants. Inside its perimeter, there are three watersheds, a tidal marsh and freshwater lake. Take to secluded hiking trails that wind through cypress, pine, and eucalyptus forests. There’s a variety of hiking experiences that reveal the splendor of what makes this San Francisco Bay Area attraction truly special. It’s the perfect natural escape in the middle of an metropolitan city.


No matter your age, you’ve likely heard the Tony Bennett song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” After enjoying some of these iconic outdoor sites in San Francisco, you may be left singing the same tune.

Everybody knows a little something about San Francisco. Some might point to its lawless and wild Gold Rush history when talking about the City by the Bay. Others may point to how the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed much of the city. While little cable cars may climb halfway to the stars as Tony Bennett suggests, there are historic sites in its city limits that offer outdoor fun and lesser known yet surprising stories.

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As anyone who’s ever flown over the City of Angels knows, Los Angeles is huge. It stretches out from the Pacific to the San Gabriel Mountains with barely a break between freeways and rows and rows of houses and ranchers. But look closer in the downtown and the distinctive neighborhoods in the sprawling metropolis of L.A. and you’ll find boutiques and attractions that will keep you hopping from shopping to sight-seeing and make for a Hollywood-fabulous weekend. From West Hollywood to Studio City, discover the city's little known gems alongside its highly sought after and famous must-sees.

Downtown Los Angeles The iconic Westin Bonaventure is right downtown and in walking distance (imagine!) to attractions like Angel’s Flight, the Grand Central Market, The Bradbury Building, the Main Library, and Disney Concert Hall, to name a few. The Westin’s suites are spacious for families and even have small kitchen areas. There’s a pool, family-friendly restaurants and its central location can't be beat. Angel’s Flight is the shortest funicular railway in the world, and a really cute experience. The fee is a nomial .50 cents and you get a ride to the top to access the Grand Central Market. Eat a BLAT (also known as a BLTA) – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich. You can find these irresistibly delicious Cali-influenced sandwiches at Square One Dining, the Sycamore Kitchen, Highland Café and the Golden State. Some of the most iconic attractions in L.A. are just as accessible by public transportation as they are by car. Don’t let the myth about the poor state of L.A.’s public transportation system stop you from actually seeing some of the best spots in the city while saving tons of time and money.

If you choose to use the L.A. Metro to speed your travels, this guide, with stops included, with help you navigate your way around town. While it is easiest to access the subway from Hollywood, wherever you are in the city, if you can get on a rail line, the hidden gems of LA are yours for the taking. Here are the top stops everyone should make on the LA Metro.

Aquarium of the Pacific I’m going to be honest, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is awesome. With a shark tank, penguins, and plenty of touch pools, this is a must stop for families and anyone who enjoys sea life. Also, if you want to splurge a bit, the dolphin encounter is a really great experience. While here, also look into taking a whale watching tour from the nearby (right out the front

door) docks. Depending on the season, you may see Blue Whales or Gray Whales along their migration routes. The Aquarium in Long Beach is just a short walk from the Blue Line’s Transit Mall stop.

Hollywood and Highland This stop is home to basically all of Hollywood’s world renown sights; the Walk of Fame, the handprints, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater, and even a pretty decent view of the Hollywood Sign. The subway drops you off right in the heart of the action and can quickly whisk you away to other parts of the city when you’re done. Hollywood and Highland is directly above the Hollywood and Highland stop on the Red Line.

Watts Towers Stretching nearly 100 feet in the air, this series of iron structures is an artistic bright spot in one of the lesser visited areas of Los Angeles. The work of one man’s unique vision that took him 34 years to complete finally in 1955. Not far from Union Station by subway, this is one of the most unique attractions in LA and a 15 minute must-visit for anyone wanting to get a little deeper in to Angelino culture. Watts Towers are easily accessible from the Blue Line’s 103rd Street/Watts Towers stop.

The Bradbury Building Wood and Iron are the main characteristics of this early 20th Century architectural marvel that has been featured in countless movies, including Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer. A short walk from the metro will lead you to one of the coolest building in the city, and while you can only enter the ground floor, walking in immediately takes you to another world. I can’t say enough about how cool this building looks, and also, stopping here opens up a few other must-see downtown sights like Angel’s Flight and, for literature fans, The Last Bookstore. The Bradbury Building and other attractions listed are just a few blocks from the Pershing Square stop on either the Red or Purple Lines.

Universal City People visiting L.A. love to visit Universal Theme Park. I hear people raving about their visit to Universal just about every day, but for many, the hardest part is getting there. Here’s a secret, it’s actually SUPER easy to get to Universal (just one stop on the subway out of Hollywood), and visiting here not only gets you to Universal Theme Park it also gets you to Universal City Walk which is home to the secret Pink’s Hotdog location. Universal Theme Park and Universal City are across the street from the Universal City stop on the Red Line.

Griffith Observatory The Griffith Observatory is one of the most popular and incredible attractions in L.A. It offers amazing city views (especially at night), telescopes, and a killer planetarium show. Its location high in the hills overlooking L.A. is not a problem with the L.A. metro’s Griffith Observatory Shuttle which takes you right from the subway stop all the way up to the observatory Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 10pm (not including holidays). Before you go, make sure the shuttle is operating while you are in town. The shuttle stop is at the Vermont/Sunset Stop off of the Red Line.

Surf’s Up! Is it a gorgeous sunny day (when is it not?)? Then head to Malibu or Marina del Rey for quality beach time without the traffic and crowds of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Quick Tip: Renting surf boards or SUP boards in Malibu is easy, but be sure to call ahead and reserve your board on a busy weekend. The shuttle stop is at the Vermont/Sunset Stop off of the Red Line.

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Marvel at moonstone, hike along rugged shorelines or just relax on one of California’s many world-class beaches. With over 800 miles of coastline there is no shortage of unique and fascinating places to explore. Below we share our top 9 beaches in California that need to be on your travel wish list! P A C I F I C





Starting in the south of the state and heading north, we begin in San Diego, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the state. The beaches here are spectacular. You have your choice of scenic views from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park or classic California fun at Pacific Beach. PB is one of the more popular beaches offering visitors a fun California vibe with bike riding on the beach, boardwalk roller coasters and cool eateries to while away the day with miles and miles of soft sand to walk and frolic. Where to Stay: Blue Sea Beach Hotel - a beautiful beach side boutique hotel putting guests right in the middle of the action.



Cold, windy and foggy weather is what you will typically find at this famous beach, but don’t let that deter you. The scenic beauty is well worth a visit. While not ideal for sun bathing, the atmospheric beauty will suck you in, as will the adorable town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The bright white sand offers the perfect place to watch the sunset, have a picnic and enjoy the coastal breeze. A little known tidbit - small beach fires are allowed at the southern end of the beach. WHERE TO STAY: La Playa Carmel offers classic comfort and convenience in the heart of town.



Heading up the coast we find ourselves in Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City. This adorable town carries on the classic California surfer vibe with a modern twist. Shop, eat and visit the International Surf Museum during the day before watching the sunset with a private bonfire set up by your hotel. Get up early to search the shore for sand dollars which can be found here at certain times of the year. WHERE TO STAY: Hilton’s Waterfront Beach Hotel offers family fun, easy access to the beach as well as extra amenities like beach bonfires.






If you're headed way up to northern California to visit Redwoods National Park, make time to enjoy a local's favorite and one of the state’s many beaches named Pebble Beach. This beautiful stretch of sand is part of a National Wildlife Refuge which means you can often find many sea birds, seals and sea lions here. Head out at low tide otherwise the beach can be quite narrow. WHERE TO STAY: With its panoramic views and easy access to the beach and Redwoods National Park, Anchor Beach Inn in Crescent City is a great choice for families.





Another San Diego favorite catering to families is Coronado Beach. This beach offers the quintessential beach experience with long sandy stretches that actually sparkle (thanks to the mineral mica). Consistently voted one of America’s best beaches, Coronado is a must visit for family fun. Located on a peninsula across the water from the city, Coronado Beach offers exclusivity, calm waters and beauty like few other beaches in Southern California.

No visit to California is complete without spending some time at one of the most famous beaches in the state, Santa Monica Beach. Here you can join the crowds at the pier amusement park complete with rides, games and funnel cake. Soak up the sun at the expansive beach with locals and visitors alike. Families will particularly enjoy the Annenberg Community Beach House with its boardwalk down to the beach, pool, playground and more.

WHERE TO STAY: Iconic Hotel del Coronado for the classic experience or Beach Village at The Del - the most luxurious place to stay offering private beach access and gorgeous accommodation with self catering options.

WHERE TO STAY: Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel is a favorite for local staycations and for out of town visitors. Luxury on the beach, right in the middle of the action. Shutters is another favorite catering to young and old.



Pismo Beach in California’s central coast is one of the best known secrets in the state. While this beach isn’t necessarily known for catching rays, it’s famous for dune buggies and bonfires. It's one of the last remaining spots in the state where you can drive your vehicle ON the beach to camp out for the day or night. Further down the beach you will find yourself at the Pismo Beach Sand Dunes where you can rent dune buggies for a unique and adventurous day of sand play. At night, cozy up to your very own beach bonfire before heading back to your luxurious surroundings at the Cliff House Hotel. WHERE TO STAY: Cliff House Hotel is a luxury beachside hotel offering dog friendly rooms, specialized service and welcoming rooms.



One of the most unique beaches in the state is Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. This beach is filled with colorful sea glass brought in from the ocean. Not your typical beach to laze around on, it is one you will find yourself pursuing with the seriousness of a true collector! Glass Beach is also a great place for tide pooling and to see some fascinating marine life. If you are looking for a classic sand castle building beach in the area after your adventures here, head to Pudding Creek beach for soft white sand. A trip to Fort Bragg is perfect in conjunction with a road trip up the Mendocino coast. WHERE TO STAY: Glass Beach Inn is close to the beaches and offers cozy comfort for the whole family.



Located off Highway 1 in central California midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is Moonstone Beach near Cambria. Fans of rocks and gems will love this beach for the collection of beautiful moonstone that can be found if you search through the rocks long enough. Cambria offers tasty eats, adorable shops in a quaint beach town setting. Head to Moonstone Beach Drive where you can find many comfortable hotels close to the picturesque shoreline. WHERE TO STAY: To soak up the ocean waves, Frogcatcher Inn is a gem not to be missed right on Moonstone Beach. Another fantastic option in the area is Cambria Pines Lodge, a 26 acre woodland site offering basic cabins to luxurious suites.

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Chipotle Shredded Beef Ingredients 3 lb. beef chuck roast trimmed 10 oz RoTel tomatoes and green chilis 7 oz. Chipotle sauce 1 onion chopped 2 T. chili powder 2 c. beef broth salt and pepper to taste 8 corn tortillas warmed

Garnish Cheddar cheese shredded tomato chopped lettuce shredded

Directions 1. Place roast in a slow cooker. 2. Top with remaining ingredients except tortillas and garnishes. 3. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. 4. With 2 forks, shred roast in slow cooker; stir well. 5. Spoon into warmed tortillas 6. Add desired garnishes Serves 6-8

Mango Salsa Chicken Ingredients 16 oz Mango Chunks 16 oz salsa 4 chicken breasts Soft Tortilla shells or Spanish rice

Directions 1. Add mango chunks, salsa and chicken to the crock pot 2. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours until chicken can be easily shredded. 3. Serve in warm taco shells or over rice Serves 6-8

Mole Pulled Pork Ingredients 10 ½ oz French Onion Soup ¼ cup water 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate pieces 12 flour tortillas 8-inch, warmed 6 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions 1. Stir the soup, water, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin and cinnamon in a 6-quart slow cooker. 2. Add the pork and turn to coat. 3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or until the pork is fork-tender. 4. Remove the pork to a cutting board. 5. Using 2 forks, shred the pork. 6. Add the chocolate to the cooker and stir until melted. 7. Return the pork to the cooker. 8. Place about ½ cup pork mixture onto half of each tortilla. 9. Top with the tomatoes and cilantro. 10. Fold the tortillas over the filling. Serves 8

Side Dish: Refried Beans Ingredients 1 onion peeled and halved 3 cups dry pinto beans rinsed ½ fresh jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped 2 tablespoons minced garlic 5 tsp salt 1 ¾ teaspoons fresh ground black pepper ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin optional 9 cups water Serves 8

Directions 1. Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin in a slow cooker. 2. Pour in the water and stir to combine. 3. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. (Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.) 4. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. 5. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.

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In 2015, I took my nine year old twins to Tokyo for their two week fall break. We went to visit friends who had recently moved there from London. While in Tokyo, I wanted to check out the new cameras on the Japanese scene. New electronics always seem to be released in Tokyo first because the Japanese love their gadgets. My friends recommended visiting the giant electronics store Yodobashi in Akihabara, the neighbourhood in Tokyo known for electronics. Not only would Yodobashi have all the new cameras but their sales people were used to dealing with foreigners and spoke English. So, the kids and I went merrily on our way to Akihabara one morning. Not speaking Japanese, I followed the majority of people exiting the train out the west side of Akihabara station. It turns out that Akihabara is not only the electronics center of Tokyo. It's also the home of Otaku culture. Otaku are young adults who are obsessed with popular culture and computers, and often lack a lot of social skills. Catering to all the young gaming geeks in Akihabara, there were various forms of entertainment, mostly inappropriate for children. In addition to the cute anime plushies, there were a large number of sex stores and maid cafes, where girls dressed as maids cater to a man’s every need.

Although everything was written in Japanese, the words for sex toys were all in English. They may as well have been written in flashing neon since my kids could read them. My daughter thought she saw a bunny outfit she wanted to wear for Halloween and darted into a store before I could stop her. The horrified sales lady came running out waving her hands 'no.' Over her head I could see a porn film playing. I grabbed my daughter’s hand and we left. I told my daughter that the store only had big girl sizes and we would have to look elsewhere. It turns out that this ill-fated journey began by our taking the wrong train exit. If we'd taken the central exit at Akihabara station, we would have crossed the street directly into the Yodobashi superstore. Having exited west, we now had to walk all the way around the station to get to the store. Needless to say there were lots of things that I did not want my children seeing during this walk. I kept their attention on me by playing a word game (not I Spy!) and they were none the wiser. As for me, I was a total frazzled mess by the time we finally made it to the camera department of Yodabashi. Now that my children are teens, I mentioned this incident to them. They had no recollection of the racy walk, but did remember the super cool electronics store.

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