Tag Archives: vacation

Things To Do On The Monterey Peninsula

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If you’re starting out your day in the ole fisherman’s wharf town, be sure to begin by seeing the otters playing on the beach. Nothing beats touching down in Monterey’s swift cool oceanic air full of life from the sea. The beach where the otters play is also very close to Pacific Grove, America’s Last Hometown, and the ocean drive from Monterey to Pacific Grove on into Pebble Beach is just outstanding. If you’re a biker, check out the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. This is biker’s heaven! Take a drive afterwards and be sure to stop at Lover’s Point Park and Beach in Pacific Grove on your way. Although, it’s probably discouraged, there you can feed these little squirrels that are so brave they will climb up your leg. Imagine that! Afterwards, do the Pacific Coast drive all the way along 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. See the Ghost Tree on your way, and make another stop to view the sea lions and more otters at a lookout. Stop at the The Pebble Beach Lodge in Pebble Beach and see the greens, then swing by their market to pick up some awesome cheese, olives and maybe some wine for later. Get something for the road and pull off into one of the many inlets and have a small picnic. Pretend you’re in Europe. By the time you get to Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is time to shop. Go for it on this awesome coastal resort town. Home to celebrities and international tycoons alike, they have every shop you could want. Buy some old photographs at an art walk place, get a coffee and maybe eat lunch there, or you could drive inland to Carmel Valley to eat lunch at Earthbound Farms—a truly phenomenal sun splashed place to get a soup and a salad and pick up some fresh produce. After eating, head back to Carmel Beach for a little while. More craggly rocks and cool winds sweeping off the brisk ocean meet you there. You’ll see the surfers and young people hanging out and people throwing Frisbee for their dog on this dog-friendly beach. Hopefully, you’ll have a sunny day, but if not, pretend you’re in England, it feels like that sometimes.

After you’re finished, be sure to do the Carmel drive along the ocean and view the dramatic little seven dwarf homes there, one after the other, built very close to each other. Once you’ve driven past the ocean and start heading inland, stop and tour the Carmel Mission. You’ll also pass by Clint Eastwood’s Mission where his restaurant and hotel lie (a great place to eat if you’re sticking it out in Carmel for dinner or staying there). You could return to Moneterey by way of Route 1. Back in old town, spend the afternoon at the Aquarium, it’s legendary. Maybe check out The Fisherman’s Wharf area—plus, Monterey’s Cannery Row is famous. Around the old area, there is a stellar video tour of Monterey’s History in a building that I really liked. For dinner, I personally like the Monterey Fish House, which is a little drive North, but hey, you get to see more of the town that way—the Chart House sits right on the water in the Fisherman’s Wharf area if you decide to stay downtown, I’ve eaten there to and liked it. Later on, spend the evening around a fire pit at your hotel because it gets cold at night or go to see your favorite act at the Monterey Theater downtown. Schedule accordingly—I saw Brian Regan there and loved it! You could also go back to the Carmel Highlands Hyatt Hotel (by the way, an unbelievable place to stay if you can afford it), and take in the dramatic views out the huge windows, while having a glass of wine and listening to the house musician. Note: Keep an eye out for the Concurs d’ Elegance, the antique classic car show at the Pebble Beach lodge. Jay Leno is always there with some of his cars, I think. Have fun and good luck on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast on earth in my opinion. Don’t forget, you’re right next to Big Sur and you’ve just got to see that also. See my article U.S. Coastal Drives.

THINGS TO DO IN ST AUGUSTINE FL

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If you’re going to Northeast Florida, one place to not miss is the oldest city in North America, St. Augustine. There are a lot of things to do in St Augustine, FL that you won’t want to miss. Founded in 1565 and discovered by Ponce de Leon, this wonderfully preserved ancient city sits almost right on the water and boasts some of the most beautiful stretches of isolated beach in Vilano Beach just north of St. Augustine that you will find in modern day Florida. One cool thing is that there are building codes in place, unlike other parts of Florida, that discourage taller ocean front buildings. I think there’s like a three-story minimum or something, maybe less! You might start out your day in the old city by doing a walking tour up and down this historic slice of old Florida. Go for it on a cup of coffee somewhere there and get the European feeling the city has to offer as you sit outside with gentle ocean breezes blowing. While there, go see some history like The Castillo de San Marcos and the Ximinez-Fatio House—it goes back to 1573—wow! Also, be sure to stroll down St. George Street in the old area. Two very old churches in town really capture the essence of this place and are worth visiting also. Next, think about the Fountain of Youth. You will learn all about the city’s history and how Ponce de Leon thought he had discovered the spring of eternal life there. Next, you might pack a beach bag for the day and go to St. Augustine Beach by the pier. You’ll cross the incredible Bridge of Lions on your way over. Feel the wonderful energy of the natives who lived in this place that you’ve learned about and the Spanish conquistadors like Leon in the vibe of this place. Hey, go surfing for the day! After a day at the beach relaxing, you could be like me and drive south to Crescent Beach just to check it out. Hit a shell shop on the way—there’s an awesome one. There are some beautiful vistas of the ocean on Crescent you won’t see in many places in Florida. On the way back, maybe check out the Alligator Farm. I know there is also an awesome dolphin/marine park, but I’ve never been to it. After running through all the above things to do in St Augustine, you might check out Vilano Beach as the sun sets. It’s beach stretches on for miles, so it’s a great place to catch the sunset. Hey, try out Cap’s On The Water up the way there for fresh seafood and a steller vibe. Next, for night, take it to one of the many bars in the old city. Walk around and immerse yourself in this place I once almost called home. It’s that cool.

THE BEST PUB IN TOWN

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Dear Patrons,

You might have seen me once at Jack of the Wood in an ole European house because that’s what it feels like there in Asheville, North Carolina at the best pub in town. A Celtic style pub that still has the words “public house” scribed on the outside entrance, Jack of the Wood is named after a 2nd century A.D. deity who symbolizes nature and fertility, among other things. And everyone knows there is truly nothing like the nature in Asheville, and sitting at the black walnut bar with your custom Green Man Ale brewed just up the street or your Guiness Stout and a plate of fish and chips, a definite nature vibe emanates from the bones of this place. Besides, it’s got some of the best fiddling and music around sometimes! The pub is in the heart of downtown Asheville situated right in the Blue Ridge Mountains. So get some food, throw some darts, sit at the coolest big bar ever (it curves around the joint) and check out the long list of brews (local and others). Good conversation is hard to come by, but never at Jack of the Wood. So get lost in the woods! Be my guest. Buy a t-shirt also. They have the coolest around.

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LA ON THE WEEKEND

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If you need some exciting things to do in LA on the weekend just follow me and you’ll be well on your way to big laughs and fun times. Whether you’re just visiting the wonderful City of Angles or if you are lucky enough to call this city home, try starting out in Santa Monica on the 3rd Street Promenade. While you’re there, walk up and down the promenade and watch the local street performers—some truly talented singers perform there. Shop at J Crew or Banana Republic, get some custom One Star kicks made at the Converse star or even eat at Sonoma Wine Garden’s rooftop at the Santa Monica Place mall—there, look out over the breathtaking ocean and take in the sun. After you’ve finished with the 3rd Street Promenade, go to the 4rth Street area and get a cup of coffee at Urth maybe and shop some more. The Patagonia Store, my favorite, is there. Hey, walk to the beach afterwards—you’re there! This area is a great landing spot for the Santa Monica beach. If traffic is light, hop in your cruiser, hopefully, a convertible, and head down Wilshire until you get to Beverly Hills and do a driving tour of the streets for architectural gems in Beverly Hills and even Bel Air back towards the West a bit. Miles of historic residences dot these streets on and off of Sunset Avenue in all styles of architecture. Next, go visit the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills for more houses! Afterwards, either head to L.A. for the museum or go back to Santa Monica to Palisades Park and watch the sunset. From there, head over to Montana Avenue for dinner and an old movie at the Aero. There is nothing like watching Indiana Jones or Casablanca on the big screen in the town that made it all take place. Maybe drinks there or in WeHo after supper and back to your hotel or home.

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PALM BEACH’S ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY

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Palm Beach’s architectural history is rich. You might not know this, but a lot of the Mediterranean Spanish Style houses in South Florida, particularly Palm Beach, were designed primarily by two men, Addison Mizner, a widely traveled American and a Swede named Maurice Fatio. Their styles, especially Addison Mizner’s one room deep approach to design gives Palm Beach its unique distinctive feeling. You could be in some Spanish castle from another country, while sitting in one of these estate’s living rooms. Mizner, who moved to Palm Beach for his health around 1918 believed in South Florida’s future—he even helped eventually found Boca Raton. He was also friends with Paris Singer, famous sewing machine heir and Palm Beach resident who encouraged him to primarily work in the area. Some notable Fatios and Mizners don their Spanish root names and have been lived in by the likes of rockstars, tycoons and even politicians. I have driven by all these wonderful estates with their sprawling tropical lawns and in many cases, well-manicured hedges, although, the occasional jungle house lawn appears hiding away as if a tiger might lurk there in the bushes. So, if you’re ever in South Florida, tour the homes there like me. Or pick up a book like Palm Beach Houses and take a journey through many of the famous architecturally inspired houses—some of them like The Everglades Club are visible right off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and others are businesses like The Brazilian Court Hotel and The First National Bank of Palm Beach that you can actually walk up to, others are homes with romantic names such as Villa Flora, La Guerida, La Bellucia, El Solano, The Warden House, Buenos Recuerdos,  Il Palmetto and Casa Eleda.

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COASTAL U.S. DRIVES

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One thing I have done is traveled all over America’s coasts. I have been from Maine all the way to Key West, exploring the Eastern seaboard’s scenic drives, and all the way from Seattle to Laguna Beach, looking for that picturesque moment along the sea. My favorite drive ever in America is Highway 1’s scenic drive from Carmel, California to Big Sur going South. It is literally awe-inspiring and breath–taking. No wonder writers like Henry Miller and Jack Keruoac chose to live there. Reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast, the California coast there boasts dramatic jaw–dropping cliffs with whirling sea blue ocean below with the fog nearly touching your nose. Hawks circle around you sometimes as you drive through the dry sunny Califonria climate with the smell of Eucalyptus in the air. Stop at Nepenthe for lunch in Big Sur, it’s name literally means an elixir referenced by writers that is capable of causing forgetfulness of sorrow. Or take the route on down south going towards Los Angeles for even more crooks and turns on the hilltop drive. Going all the way across the coast, another drive I love is U.S. 1 in Maine, which passes through little picturesque towns like Camden that sit right on the ocean. Stop at a dinner for some Maine clam chowder and lobster, and then walk to the harbor or go see on an old movie in one of the charming towns. Equally impressive is the Southernmost leg of U.S. 1 going south through the Florida Keys. The overseas highway literally floats along Caribbeanisque American waters for miles and miles. Stop and eat at your favorite crab shack or go fishing for the day in one of the inlets. End up in Key West where you can visit Papa Hemingway’s house and favorite bar and eatery Sloppy Joes, or take a boat out in Jimmy Buffett style to the Caribbean, your drive ends here.

TIPS ON SEA SHELLING

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Hi, I am author Duke Tate and I am writing today to give you some tips on sea shelling. When I lived in St. Augustine, Florida for a short while, I collected seashells. I also used to wander up and down the deserted beautiful beaches of Vilano for the occasional shell. I displayed shells around my house there briefly. I even used one monster shell as a soap dish in my bathroom and still do. Finding these shell treasures sunken in the sea and beached on the shore and collecting them is a truly fun and useful activity. Used as tools, pavement, jewelry, musical instruments, ritual objects, currency, and in horticulture and some architecture, shells are endlessly fascinating, and have a variety of uses. If you’re a real shell head, you can even get a shell display case for your living room and display your treasures or simply display them in a clear glass container or something cheap and affordable like a Mason Jar. In order to optimize your shelling experience, if you aren’t in a place where shells fall from the star sprinkled sky every night like Sanibel Island, go early in the morning or later in evening, especially after a very large storm. Storms rake up the sand, kicking up sea debris, including shells. Also, monitor the moon-phasees as well because a full or new moon means monster tides to bring the shells in. Go with a plastic bag, so gentle shells don’t break–or flip your hat upside down like mine in my photo! and pile shells in it for fun (if it’s a washable straw hat–ha!). Good luck finding sandy treasures on the shore, or wade in a little bit–sometimes shell are just out into the water some. My book, The Opaque Stones, has shell hunting in it briefly. They even find a sand dollar or an old gun.

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