I was delighted to have a roadmap for a $20 day in Napa - three meals, wine and a nature walk. I read the article twice to verify the calculations! The second best part of the story is that these carefully selected destinations capture the rich variety of the Valley beyond the well-worn pricey path.
As a business traveler, looking for the comforts of home while working with clients in small and mid-size cities, I opt for local bed and breakfasts, especially if the destination also happens to be a college town, like Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. Typically in these communities there are not enough hotels and cookie cutter mid-range national brands accessible to all pocket books, dependable and efficient but devoid of much charm. Bed and breakfast inns today offer far more than get-away romantic retreats. With the growth of the entrepreneurial "share" culture of HomeAway/VRBO and Airbnb, they must create...
Forget the Cape. For a low-key weekend journey, explore the FarmCoast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island - and its villages, creeks and farmlands within an easy day's getaway from Providence or Boston and a weekend journey from Manhattan. Tucked out of the way south of Interstate 195 that heads to Cape Cod these tiny communities along Buzzards Bay, Rhode Island Sound and the tidal Westport and Sakonnet rivers happily let you find them.
Channeling MFK Fisher, the remarkable sage of food writing and gastronomic pleasure, I took off for Glen Ellen in Sonoma County about 40 north of San Francisco, California, knowing the limitations of my adventure even before I started. First of all, Fisher died in 1992, and second of all, her cottage retreat, “Last House,” is now part of the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s 535-acre Bouverie Preserve and is not open to the public - yet.
Keeping up with the abundance of San Francisco restaurants, from tried-and-true to start-ups, is a fulltime job, but every few months I'm motivated to share a list of finds for visitors and locals alike. This latest round of suggestions was inspired by the "fooding" trip of my brother/chef Steve Johnson of Rendezvous Central Square in Cambridge, who is a true "food creative" and Bay Area food fan.
There is nothing like a perfect afternoon in Napa Valley, but the bonus was a farm-to-table view of the provisioning for Thomas Keller's restaurants outside the French Laundry as we walked to Bouchon for our elegant lunch.
Pleasanton, California, is perfectly named and its Rose Hotel is a womantraveler's blend of luxury, ease and convenience.
Cooking classes at Napa Valley's Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (the other CIA) are a terrific way to enjoy food -- and wine -- in Napa Valley wine country.
Downtown Sonoma's Cottage Inn and Spa is my home away from home. Great for romance, relaxation and rejuvenation, it's architecturally inspired beauty is a special find in California's wine country. And it's a convenient location to venture out to next-door Napa Valley's Mustard Festival through March.
Downtown Napa has turned itself around and offers a classy but comfortable getaway that's an alternative to its tony north-county "wine country" neighbors -- and with a genuine hometown personality.