Seattle

seattle.

[spotlight series. samuel woolley]

[seattle soundtrack. window to the sky]

 

It was only brief, but gosh it was good. A very lovely, very sophisticated little town boasting many of our favorite things – friendly people, good food, good coffee, music, and deliciously beautiful nature. Situated on a pretty harbor, overlooking snowcapped mountains, this very green, very walkable city was a pleasure to visit. With only 24 hours (a quick trip over the border from Portland), we had just enough time to appreciate some of the goodness on offer, but also look forward to returning soon to dig a little deeper. Gastronomically speaking, it is clear to see that this is one of the hottest cities in the US for food – something the Pacific Northwest seems to generally excel at – where local, organic, and farm-fresh food is the norm, not the exception.

Here are some of our favorite finds…

To caffeinate.

Slate Coffee: we had the friendliest chats with expert barista, Kyle Oels, on the day we visited this tiny Ballard coffeehouse. Passionate about coffee and people, Kyle serves up friendly vibes, and an excellent brew, and as much (or as little) coffee chat as you like. Grab a seat at the bar, have a chat, and watch him do his thing.

Herkimer: come here for more excellent coffee, roasted in-house (three locations). Cuppings available by appointment.

Analog Coffee: serving Herkimer coffee, we love this cute space in Capitol Hill.

Milstead and Co: we entered this light and airy space on North 34th in Fremont, to the most warm and lovely welcome (ad the hugest smile) of the barista. The team at Milstead want nothing more than to serve excellent coffee, and to make their customers happy. They certainly succeed in this.

Streetbean Espresso: this coffee shop on 3rd avenue is worth visiting alone for the fact that it is a non-profit multi-roaster café that provides a platform for street kids and at-risk youth to get on their feet and learn valuable career skills by working in a specialty coffee environment.

To eat.

Arabica Lounge: check out his cute corner spot in Capitol Hill for breakfast. We can’t go past their “omelettes au fromage”. So thin, so French!, so delicious.

Ba Bar: lunch or dinner at this awesome Vietnamese spot is a must. Be prepared to queue, but be rewarded with amazingly crispy imperial rolls, banh mi, vermicelli noodle salads, and pho (order the beef).

Westward: head to this great spot on North Lake Union for dinner. A “water-inspired full service restaurant”, we recommend ordering (among other things) the Braised Anderson Ranch Lamb Shoulder (if meats your thing) with Herb & Onion Salad, Pomegranate, Tzaziki, and flatbread If meat’s your thing, we recommend sharing the lamb shoulder. You wont regret it.

Rain Shadow Meats: for lunch. Excellent locally sourced, meat-intensive sandwiches (try the roasted pork shoulder on sourdough), along with charcuterie plates as well.

Il Corvo: only open for lunch, get there around 2pm to try and nab a seat. This is the perfect pasta spot. Handmade pastas (famed for their pappardelle), we recommend trying the lasagna Bolognese.

The London Plane: is a bright and sunny café/boutique in the heart of Pioneer Square. Come here for a spectacularly delicious breakfast or lunch. Seasonal fresh soups, salads, sandwiches, cakes and more…it is not only the food here that will impress…the setting, the service and the well-curated little in-house store make this an even more worthy visit.

Whale Wins: for supper (we are still dreaming about their Roast Chicken). So fresh, so delicious. Watch as everything is prepared to order, on the open kitchen bench in front of you. Pop over to nearby Fremont Brewing for a drink, before or after dinner.

To drink.

Black Bottle: located just near the ACE in Belltown, this is a dark and cozy, dimly-it gastropub that serves small plates, great wines and cocktails.

Innkeeper Seattle: this little spot, a low-key friendly bar, is just down the road from Black Bottle. A simple space dishing up carribean-latino drinks (think rum punch) and small plates.

Fremont Brewing: grab a beer here while in Fremont. A good option before or after dinner at Whale Wins.

To shop.

E. Smith Mercantile: a lovely boutique for house­made perfumes, Imogene & Willie jeans, delicacies (coco­nut jam), and old-­fashioned can­dies (black licorice). At the back of the shop there is a tiny speakeasy­style bar that flaunts classic cocktails, as well as more creative concoc­tions made with horehound­ infused bourbon, fir­-tip vodka, and Byrrh.

To sleep.

ACE, and only the ACE. The original (opened in 1999), and in our mind, quite possibly the best. This is where the ACE Hotel’s roots lie. Its basic, but its perfect. Unfussy luxury. The feeling here is more of a home, not a hotel. Amiee, the general manager, was the first person we met, and was easily the most friendly and hospitable of all hotel front desk staff we have come across anywhere. Perfectly located in Belltown, a quick and easy walk into the center of town, this place is unpretentious and friendly. Rooms and services are minimal, but with plenty of the standard ACE touches that we are used to– exposed brick walls, Pendleton blankets, a well-curated minibar and shop, and exceptionally reasonable rates to match. Just make sure you request a room with a private bathroom, if that’s your thing. The Seattle outpost completed our quest to stay at all ACE properties within the US (and London), and although we read that some think it has lost a little of its luster…despite it being basic, we think its the best. It definitely hit the spot for us.

To do.

Melrose Markets: during the day. Cute for a wander (and you will find a Rain Shadow Meats here as well).

Pike Place Markets: a little too touristy for us, but still worth a look. The lower levels often get forgotten about (the market is four layers deep), so explore from top to bottom. We loved the Greek yoghurt shop on the corner. You will also find the original Starbucks there as well.

Ballard Farmers Markets: come here on Sundays. Have breakfast at Bastille, and wander around the Farmers Market, the boutiques, the little coffee bars and boîtes. A little slice of Paris perhaps, in Seattle.  

Visit Golden Gardens Park in Ballard: only 10 minutes from the center of the city, come to this beautiful timberland to be surrounded by towering evergreens, with views out over the Pugent Sound, and the snowcapped Olympic mountains. A perfect escape from the city, with walking trails and marshy beaches.

Yoga: we managed to squeeze in a couple of classes at Core Power, and found this not only an awesome workout, but also a super friendly vibe. Three locations around town.

/// And, with more time, we can’t wait to check out:

Orcas Island: “the emerald isle” of the nearby San Juans islands. We hear this is a green paradise – a “happy combination of stunning shoreline, the highest mountain in the islands and a handful of charming hamlets.”

Santa Barbara

santa barbara.

[spotlight series. nic george | lindsey ross | andrew elialinnea villegas]

[santa barbara soundtrack. sugar man]

Santa Barbara. A place of perfect, idyllic beauty - nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean – and the place that became my home for a big chunk of 2013. The eternal sunlight, the endless blue sky, the starry nights, the beaches, the mountains…the seamless harmony and perfection. This is what draws people here…but it’s the people themselves, that keep them here, and keep them coming back. A friendly, welcoming and nurturing community – the energy here is one of love, creativity and encouragement.

A popular tourist and resort destination, playing home to many of Hollywood’s elite, Santa Barbara is also home to university students (University of California Santa Barbara is nearby), artists, surfers, yogis, families and retirees alike. There is something very special about living in a small community where every barista knows you by name, where you can walk or cycle everywhere, where you bump into friends at the weekly farmers market, and where each morning you wake deciding which hike, or which beach you should walk that day.

Ninety miles north of LA, Santa Barbara is a leisurely (and scenic) drive up the PCH, beside the ocean, which makes for a perfect day trip or weekend away. You will be completely hooked after your first visit, so be prepared to get used to that drive…

We have had endless happy moments here in Santa Barbara. Long, sun-drenched, beach-filled, jam-packed-full-of friends, wonderful moments. This is a special place.

To caffeinate.

French Press: a Santa Barbara staple, and our daily coffee or chai fix. Grab a seat outside in the sun, a coffee, a pastry…and set up shop for a couple of hours. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, grab a loaf of bread from the friendly boys at the Genuine Bread Co. who sell their seriously luxe sourdough loaves out the front of the cafe. Two locations. We favor the bigger one, on the corner of Anacapa and Cota Streets.

Handlebar Coffee: our other go-to. This daily coffee stop (where all coffee is roasted in-house, and served with all organic milk from Straus Family Creamery), offers super friendly service, great coffee, delicious pastries (and vegan muffins) and seating in the sun.

Lucky Penny: a new and wonderful addition to the Funk Zone scene. This cute copper coin-covered shack is next to the Lark, and dishes out tasty La Colombe coffee. A small menu, and only a few outdoor tables, but the perfect spot for a coffee to-go, or a quick bite (their wood-fire pizzas are the business - if you are drinking at the neighboring Figueroa Mountain Brewery, Lucky Penny can also deliver food to you there at no extra charge).

To eat.

Via Maestra: we love nothing more than a weekly Saturday morning breakfast here, after the Farmers Market. A cute and cozy, authentic Italian resto – run by the most lovely of Italians, Renato – tucked away near Loreto Plaza on Upper State Street. Come here for brunch, lunch, dinner, gelato, or coffee. By far the best Italian food you will find in these parts (amazing homemade pasta), plus the most entertaining and wonderful service you will find in Santa Barbara (courtesy of one Mr Andy). Get ready to be wowed!

Sama Sama: for the best Indonesian food in California. Sama Sama is a MUST on any vissie to Santa Barbs. Delicious Indonesian (order the Gado Gado salad to start), great cocktails, super cute setting. Nab a seat in the outdoor courtyard.

D’Angelos: great breads (we love their olive loaf, or the Rudolph Steiner bread)… great for weekend breakfast or lunch.

Backyard Bowls: our go-to spot for a healthy breakfast to-go. Think big bowls of acai, fruit, granola, yoghurt etc. Also delicious smoothies on offer, and friendly service. Just around the corner from Yoga Soup. 

Kotuku Elixir Bar & Superfood Store: go and visit Olly, an expert in Chinese Tonic Herbalism, for a superfood hit. We are huge fans of his fresh juices, cold brew coffee smoothies, spicy hot chocolate, chia puddings for breakfast, and his awesome salads for lunch. Not only that, Olly is always up for some deep and insightful chat, and would love to meet you.

Mesa Verde: for incredible organic, plant-based vegetarian food. Every dish on the menu is perfect. One of our favorites: the grilled polenta with braised garbanzo, beet greens, grilled kale, asparagus, harissa, romesco and muhammara.

Santa Barbara Public Market: another exciting new addition to the Santa Barbara food scene in 2014, the Public Market is a one-stop shop for all things groceries, wine, ice cream, bread etc…plus an impressive selection of quality purveyors, from who you can grab a quick and easy lunch or dinner (we love The Pasta Shoppe, and the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar).

To drink.

We find it hard to go past the bar at Sama Sama for a delicious wine or cocktail, but other good options include:

Paradise Café: our favorite bar in town. Serving locals for over 30 years! This cute corner spot – housed in a 1915 brick and stucco building – has an art deco feel and is reminiscent of a 50s diner. Choose a booth or prop yourself up at the bar, nurse a cocktail or two, enjoy the tunes. We love it here.

Municipal Winemakers: “handmade, honest wines”. One of our other go-to’s. Great local wines and a fun atmosphere. Often host fun events, like October’s Kinfolk gathering- to release the new Kinfolk Cookbook; the holiday season’s “Pies for the people”: the vision of private chef Lori Stern – three classic Thanksgiving pie flavors (old-fashioned apple, pecan, and pumpkin), all made to order and available for pickup on Thanksgiving Eve – with 10% of proceeds going back to the Santa Barbara Foodbank; and the Chinese New Year dinner – celebrating all things pork!

Elsie's Tavern: this neighborhood hangout is low-key, divey and always a good time. Cash only.

Funk Zone bars…take your pick. New bars seem to be popping up in the funk zone on a regular basis these days. Start near the Lark and then cruise around from there.

To shop.

Make Smith Leather Co. : come here for the best handmade leather goods in town. Stevie is an incredible leather craftsman, and we love coming here anytime we need a gift of any sort. Leather bags, wallets, belts, key chains, home goods…you name it, Stevie can do it.

Whistle Club: we were so excited when this beautiful store popped up in Santa Barbara in 2014. Come here for a perfectly-curated mix of emerging designers and industry favorites. We especially love that we can find one of our Aussie favorites, Zimmerman, on their shelves. A coffee bar, serving Stumptown coffee, makes this cute stop even more appealing. It's beautiful here.

To sleep.

El Encanto: recently renovated and reopened, this luxe property provides magnificent views over Santa Barbara, offering hilly seclusion, and a lovely option if you are wanting somewhere fancy to rest your head. We love the Damien Hirst installations inside, and the 60-foot-long infinity pool.

Four Seasons Biltmore: see Montecito guide.

El Capitan: just 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, this simple, nature lodging experience is the perfect place to unwind.

Canary Hotel: a beautiful boutique hotel, perfectly located halfway along State Street (in walking distance to everything) – this spot offers a stunning rooftop bar and pool, with spectacular views across town to the ocean and the mountains.

Oceana: the hotel may be a little dated, but the beachside location is unbeatable. In easy walking distance to the beach and State Street, this is a good option.

To do.

Saturday Farmers Market: our favorite way to start any weekend. Swing by the Cota Street market for live music, fresh fruit (be sure to try the cherimoyas) and veg, flowers, delicious homemade breads, organic almonds, olive oils, etc. (also held on Tuesday afternoon, in lower State Street). Some of our go-to stops include: Roots Organic Farm, and Fairview: for all our greens and veggies (we love Roots’ heirloom cherry tomatoes as well). BD of Earthtrine Farm: for all our herbs. Baba Hummus: for homemade hummus in more flavors than you could possibly imagine. Fat Uncle Farms: for blistered almonds. Red Hen Cannery: for artisanal, small-batch jams using fruit and herbs from local Foley Farm and Bailard Ranch. We love their spicy orange marmalade.

Butterfly Beach: after grabbing some goods from the market, pack a picnic and head to Butterfly Beach for lunch in the sun and some swim time.

Funk Zone: artsy industrial district – swan around the galleries, vintage stores, city wineries and bars.

Surf…plenty of options if you feel like catching a few waves. Known as the “Queen of the Coast” – Rincon Point is a good option, while Hammonds Point offers a powerful right-breaking wave. Leadbetter Point is good for beginners. As are Butterfly, West Beach and East Beach – calm, and good for stand-up paddle boarding as well. Additional breaks can be found at El Capitan, Jalama Beach and Santa Claus Lane Beach. Treat yourself to a custom hand shaped surfboard - made with the most environmentally friendly materials available - from our dear friends at Free Range Surfboards.

Municipal Winemakers: as above.

Catch a show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. One of our ultimate favorite things to do in these parts. We were completely WOWED by Icelandic dreamboats - Sigur Ros - one of the most beautifully hauntingly beautiful shows we have ever seen. This historical, outdoor amphitheater, tucked amongst the trees, is an idyllic setting for any live show. Aussies Tame Impala supported the Flaming Lips back in November. Sting also appeared. Coming up – be sure to nab ticks to The National (with Portugal.The.Man) on 25 April; and Jack Johnson on 31 August. We will be.

See a band at SOHO – we recently saw local boys, Gardens & Villa, doing their thing.

Santa Barbara Fish Market: come here for the freshest of fresh fish, oysters, prawns, scallops, mussels, and very friendly, local Santa Barbara service with a smile.

Wander around the Santa Barbara Mission.

Yoga Soup: do what the locals do, and limber up at Yoga Soup.

La Playa Pilates: try one of Kristen's classes (it might just kill you! in the very best way!), or book a private session with our favorite Pilates trainer, Colleen Ferguson (atwillpilates.com).

Linnea Villegas: after your Pilates workout, book in a massage with this divine massage therapist in downtown Santa Barbara. You will leave feeling light, and full of love. 

Rock climbing: Australian-turned Santa Barbara-local Josh Gold swears by this place. So get rock-ready and have fun hanging from the walls.

Drive-in: mix up your film-going experience, and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned drive-in action in nearby Goleta.

KCHEN Project: a recent culinary startup – thanks to a kickstarter campaign – the KCHEN Project is a supper club offering themed dinners – multiple-course meals of locally grown ingredients paired with complimentary cocktails – held at various locations around town.

Out of town…

Potter around the antique stores in nearby Summerland:

Cold Spring Tavern on a Sunday: Established in 1886, the Cold Spring Tavern is an essential Sunday afternoon experience. Only 30mins from Santa Barbara, hidden away in the mountains, come here for the best damn tri-tip sandwiches, mountain brews and a bikie crowd. Big slaps of meat of a bread roll with sauce. Bang! Nothing better. Grab a table under the trees, and enjoy the live music. We especially love it when the Rainbow Girls are playing.

Take a trip out to the Santa Ynez Valley. Remember one word - Demetria. Think blush-coloured bottles of Rose, shared under big shady trees overlooking incredible rolling hills and vineyards. 

Portland

portland - updated.

[spotlight series. brent deboerleela cyd, & timo kaemmer]

[portland soundtrack. loud places]

 

Perhaps it was the instant familiarity we felt to our hometown of Melbourne, but this friendly, laid-back city stole our heart on our first visit here back in March 2012, shortly after moving to the US.

Portland, we share the same passions. With your seriously impressive food scene – local, seasonal, creative; amazing coffee (the best you will find in the States); good people; good music; and awe-inspiring wilderness and nature; its so beautiful here. This unpretentious, easily navigable town is filled with a mix of fix-geared biking, bearded and tattooed hipsters, and laid-back, friendly types who come from all over the US (and the world) to reside in this special place (largely drawn here by either Nike or Adidas), as well as an ability to live well and affordably.

Despite the frequent rain and cloudy days, there is no better place than Portland when the sun is shining. Bike paths, food trucks, amazing outdoor music venues (we love Edgefield), farmers markets, gardens…and when Spring rolls around, the eye-popping, fluffy pink cherry blossom trees that burst alive along the banks of the Willamette River. The perfect town to cruise on foot or by bike. Not only that, but with the stunning Oregon coast only an hour away, and Mt Hood the same distance – there is plenty to keep you occupied. Stunning beaches, awe-inspiring mountains, rivers, waterfalls – Oregon is nature’s playground.

To caffeinate.

Good Coffee: opening in late 2014, this became our new favorite spot on our trip to Portland at Christmas time. Owned and run by Nik Purvis, an old friend from Santa Barbara, Good Coffee is exactly that – and more. Friendly vibes and great coffee. We want to steal the two antique black leather chairs they have in the corner of the space. Their custom-made sofa is beautiful as well.

Courier Coffee: a tiny spot. We love the coffee here. Grab the window seat.

Heart Roasters: excellent coffee and roaster on East Burnside. Delicious baked goods fromBAKESHOP.

Barista: three locations, the Pearl one is our pick.

Coava: we love the brew bar on SE Grand, a beautiful space.

Case Study Coffee: a few locations, great almond milk lattes.

Stumptown: a few locations across Portland, but the ACE one is our go-to. Locations also in Seattle, LA and New York City.

Ristretto: also a few locations across town, but our favorite is in NW Nicolai Street, in the Schoolhouse Electric Building.

Water Ave Coffee: on the banks of the Willamette, this factory is both a roasting and retail space.

To eat.

Sweedeedee: we visited here for the first time at Christmas (2014) and only wish we had have found it sooner. This is our heaven. A cozy, adorable corner cafe in a former kaleidoscope factory, next to Mississippi Records, Sweedeedee is a pie paradise. Come here for all things sweet – cakes, pie, desserts – as well as ginormous salads and sandwiches. You will be surrounded by colorful cookbooks, warm and sunny vibes, white walls and wooden floors. And you’ll find Mexican coke as well.

Salt & Straw: come here for Portland-style “farm-to-cone” handmade, small-batch, all-natural ice cream. Made from local, sustainable and organic ingredients – do as the locals do, and order two scoops of the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons (their best selling flavor). Also look out for the Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper; and the Coffee and Bourbon. Four locations.

Blue Star Donuts: bypass the super touristy Voodoo (and their crazy queues) and head straight for Blue Star for doughy donut goodness.

Little T’s: mighty fine breads, pastries and cakes from this cute little outpost in Union Way.

Bake Shop: we were introduced to our friend Beth, who once ran the kitchen here. A little out of town on NE Sandy Blvd, come here for their peach hand pies.

Check out these other sweet spots as well: TheSugar Cube bakery on Alberta Street; Ken’s Artisan BakeryRoman CandleTabor Bread;Sprinkle FingersQuin Candy Shop. MUST SEES/EATS for all lovers of good bread/pastry/candy. Oh and Maurice! Try Maurice as well!!

Broder: our all-time favorite brunch spot. This Swedish restaurant is so crazy busy on weekends, be prepared to wait for hours (literally). The wait is worth it though. Order the baked eggs in the skillet. So good.

Irving Street Kitchen: we loved our brunch here recently. Try the Moroccan Poached Eggs with Garlic Rubbed Toast, or the (super sweet and decadent) Oatmeal with Glazed Apple and Cocoa Nibs.

Grassa: for a quick (handmade) pasta lunch, this place on Burnside is perfect.

Tasty N Sons: a Portland institution. Be prepared to queue…around the block.

Portland Farmers Market (near PSU) held every Saturday morning from March through December. Grab breakfast to-go, as you cruise the stalls. Everything from coffee to bread to dairy to fruit to meat and fish. Seasonal, local, often organic, and always delicious.

Luc Lac: this would have to be the best, most delicious (and reasonably priced) Vietnamese we have found so far in the US. Fresh, healthy and humungous serves. Amazing pho! If you don’t do pho, order the grilled chicken or grilled prawn with rice and salad. SO good. Friendly, quick and consistent. The best option for a quick downtown lunch.

¿Por Que No?: our favorite taqueria with a focus on sustainable (line caught fish and local meats) Mexican food. Order Bryan’s Bowl with Micheladas. A few locations. We prefer the one on N Mississippi.

Cedo’s: head to this falafel joint on NE Martin Luther King JR Blvd for a serious hummus hit, and for the best falafel and gyros in town! Tender meat, fresh vegetables, and minty tsatziki.

Canteen: one of our favorite vegetarian stops. A cute black box of a building, with a small, but delicious, menu. We love popping in here for healthy and organic bowls, salads and smoothies. Try The Portland Bowl (organic kale, quinoa, black beans, maple-baked tempeh, “Northwest sauce,” hazelnuts and carrots) and the Walnut Taco Salad (organic mixed greens, avocado curry sauce, shredded carrot and cabbage, house-made pico, walnut taco crumbles, cashew nacho spread and avocado). YUM.

Food trucks: Portland loves a food truck. Recently recognised by US News as “the city with the world’s best street food” it is home to 475 of them! You will find a bunch downtown, some on N Mississippi Ave at Skidmore, and even more at the corner of SW 10th Avenue at Alder Street. Its hard to pick a favorite, but we do like El Nutri Taco on SE Woodstock Blvd for vegan tacos and burritos at a little food card parked in the front yard of a family home.

Woodsman Tavern: so hipster it hurts. Opened by the founder of Stumptown Coffee, Duane Sorenson, this place is beautiful. Waiters with scraggly beards; waitresses with messy ponytails and dainty aprons. All wear plaid. This couldn’t be more “Portland” if it tried. We love it here. The ham plate is always a great place to start…

Ned Ludd: this seasonal and rustic American craft kitchen is housed in a cute little industrial cabin on NE MLK Blvd. Jason French serves up simple and seasonal farm food, out of a wood-fired oven. We love this space, with its walls filled with hanging branches, flowers, old botanical prints and historic Portland photos. Like everything here, the beer, wine and cocktail menus change seasonally. Coffee by Heart. ** Check out also Ned Ludd's new gathering space - ELDER HALL - focused on gathering people and ideas through communal gatherings around the table. We love this **

St Jack: previously on SE Division, now locatedon the corner of NW 23rd and Raleigh. A cute corner French bistro, serving up excellent rustic French cuisine.

Urban Farmer: come here for local, organic and delicious steaks.

Biwa: for ramen. We love this cute little underground spot. Great Japanese.

Navarre: come here for seriously good tapas and delicious wine (with over 50+ wines by the glass). It’s all about sharing. Let your waiter pick the menu for you.

Clyde Common: this European-style Portland classic is part of the ACE, and is always a fun and buzzy option for dinner and cocktails. Try the popcorn with truffle oil, grana padano and black pepper.

DOC: Italian-inspired, northwest ingredient-focused fare. Fresh, local produce with great wines and delicious cocktails.

Pok Pok: everyone seems to love this little Thai institution (now with multiple locations, including New York City and Brooklyn). Also try their new one, Sen Yai, for noodles.

Olympic Provisions: bring your carnivorous cravings here. Meat, meat and more meat. Hit up the SE location (not to be missed, under the glowing MEAT sign)!

Dove Vivi: if you like your pizza deep-dish, this is the place to be. Famous for their cornmeal crust – you can also request your pizza be available par-baked, to take it with you to cook at home. A great option if you don’t feel like eating it immediately. – for deep dish pizza with a cornmeal crust.

Little Bird: cute little bistro serving up French fare with a Pacific Northwestern influence. Order the burger.

Smallwares: modern Asian tapas-style food, with creative spice-infused cocktails. Try the chicken lollipops! And have a drink at Barwares (out the back) first.

Luce: a lovely space on E Burnside, next to Heart coffee. The same people behind Navarre.

Bamboo Sushi: the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Great Japanese.

Sizzle Pie: for pizza. Perfect for a late night, post-gig snack. Opposite Powell’s.

Caffe Allora: this cute little neighbor Italian, in the Pearl, dishes up super fresh and authentic pasta dishes with super friendly service. Pop in for a Campari, and say hi to Paolo.

To drink…

Multnomah Whiskey Library: this relatively new whiskey-forward ‘clubhouse’ is tucked down a 20-foot corridor and up some stairs hidden off Alder St. With a library-meets-British gentleman’s club vibe, it is a spectacularly impressive space. Dark, and surrounded by brick walls, aged wood, and seventeen bookshelves holding 1500 spirit (mainly whiskey) bottles, it’s a whiskey lover’s paradise. Watch as the bartenders pull bottles off the wall and wheel them around the room on carts – its whiskey on wheels. A must.

Teardrop Lounge: one of the city’s pioneering craft cocktail bars, come here for impeccably professional and experimental cocktails in the Pearl.

Prettyman’s General: a specialty beer and wine bar, and general market, on SE Hawthorne.

The Richmond Bar: pop in here before or after dinner at Pok Pok, and drinks at Whiskey Soda.

Pepe Le Moko: is the perfect place for great cocktails after dinner at Clyde Common (its just downstairs).

Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda: a good eating/drinking combo.

Spare Room: check out this converted bowling alley space for live-sax karaoke and its endless charm.

Beech Street Parlor: pop into this restored Victoria home, off MLK Blvd, and head up to the second story nook for cozy herb-infused gins, whiskeys and tequilas.

Barwares: cocktails and sake out the back of the Smallwares resto.

Doug Fir: for live music and good times.

Departure: it might be a tad touristy, but the knockout views from this top floor restaurant and bar of the Nines Hotel can not be denied.

Tannery: come to this North Tabor spot for craft cocktails.

Ava Genes: a cute spot for dinner, or just a drink. Good cocktails.

To shop.

Frances May: our favorite PDX boutique. Conveniently located, just around the corner from the ACE, come here for a beautifully curated designer threads, jewelry and shoes. Beautiful one-off pieces.

House of Commons: we love this new retail and gallery space, centered around one specific theme that changes every couple of months. A beautifully curated space. Beautiful brands and artists.

Alder & Co: a little bit of everything. A collection of carefully curated and beautiful finds from the owners’ travels – from locally, or across the US.

Beam & Anchor: we love this space – part shop, part work studio – housed in a beautiful warehouse in North Portland. A beautiful range of aesthetic influences, ideas and concepts – come here for lovely rugs, blankets, mugs, leather goods, jewelry, candles, furniture and so much more. Partner store to our favorite Austin TX shop – Spartan – as well as Voyager in San Francisco.

Powell’s: a Portland institution, and the world’s largest bookstore – taking up an entire city block.

Nationale: located on E Burnside, part art gallery, party specialty shop – promoting the arts through exhibitions, performances and a selection of carefully curated goods.

Lowell: on N Russell. For a bit of pretty.

We love cruising the shops on NE Mississippi, SE Hawthorne and SE Division.

Appetite Shop + Studio: we love popping into this little textile store on E Burnside with our Heart coffee in hand. Come here for cute homewares (many handmade in-house), antique furniture and more.

There is a cute vintage dress store we love – opposite Broder – but we can’t remember the name. You will have plenty of time to check it out while waiting for your table…

Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co: an old favorite. Come here for beautiful handmade vintage lights, bedding, letterpress cards and art. A stunning warehouse space that was once a building for hardware storage than wool storage and then paint supply storage. The Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co took over in 2010. Even better, Ristretto Coffee have an outpost within the building as well…and there is a super cute florist. We love the off the beaten track location, amongst other dilapidated warehouses, by the river.

Union Way: opened in the summer of 2013 – a bright alleyway that connects the West End with the Pearl district (opposite the ACE). Grab ramen from Boxer Ramen, coffee and cake from Little T’s, and then shop your heart out at the cute boutiques that dot this indoor alleyway. You will find a Danner store, Steven Alan, a Spruce Apothecary for beauty, and Quin for sweet stuff (popcorn-flavored caramels anyone?).

If you are wanting to take home something really “Portland”, check out any one of these mainstays:

Tanner Goods: quality Oregon-made leather goods (both here and in LA).

Danner: come here for a pair of one of Portland’s most infamous hiking boots.

And Poler, too. For all your outdoor stuff!

To sleep.

There is only one option in our mind. The ACE. A longtime Alex Calderwood fan, his PDX outpost is one of our favorites (along with Seattle and LA). Testament again to Calderwood’s understated cool design aesthetic, this “hipster-chic” hangout is perfectly located downtown, just a block from the Pearl. You can bike, bus and train everywhere from here. Or walk. Take out one of the ACE’s beautiful handmade bikes. Grab cocktails and dinner at Clyde Common next door, and of course, coffee from Stumptown. Free Wifi. Good vibes. Always.  

Other sleeping options: ModeraThe Tiny House Hotel, or many awesome Airbnb apartments. 

To do.

Wander around and hang out in the beautifulJapanese Garden, and the Rose Test Garden(especially when in bloom).

Pearl District: pound the pavement through this industrial part of town. Our favorite hood. Renovated warehouses full of cafes, boutiques, interiors stores, galleries, bars, restaurants, yoga studios and more.

Rent bikes: cruise the city by bike…over bridges, along the river, and through all the different neighborhoods. Portland is small and easy to navigate. The best way to explore.

Check out the Portland Farmers Market (near PSU) held every Saturday morning from March through December. So many awesome local farmers and artisan goods on offer. And pop into the Portland Art Museum while you are there (the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest).

Check out galleries, homewares stores and vintage shops in the area near North Mississippi Avenue (often being referred to as Portland’s equivalent to Williamsburg in NYC).

Catch a film at one of Portland’s many old theatres: $4 movies at the Laurelhurst – old classics and new-ish releases with craft beers and good pizza.

Live music at: Doug FirCrystal Ballroom,Mississippi Studios and Holocene.

Yoga: lots of yoga and Pilates classes on offer. We like YAS (our go-to when we are at home in Venice, LA), Core Power, and Yoga Pearl (more for the delicious vegetarian café than anything else).

Mt Hood: only an hour from Portland, a trip out here is essential. Ski in winter, hike in summer. At over 3000m high, fresh air and stunning views await. A beautiful day out of the city. Check outTimberline Lodge.

Check out the Falls: also only an hour outside Portland, on the way to Mt Hood along the Colombia River Gorge, check out Multnomah Falls (quite touristy), or hike the short distance toWahclella Falls (less touristy and spectacularly beautiful). The power and beauty of the water here will motivate and inspire you.

Visit the Willamette Valley: a region with over 300 wineries that produce 72 varieties of wine. Famous for their pinots.

If visiting in winter (and if massive lovers of real-deal Christmas trees like we are), check outSauvie Island Farms to choose and chop down your very own tree! Our most favorite Portland experience to date. Come to the same farm in summertime to pick strawberries instead.

Clackamas River Gorge: Hideaway Lake.

And don’t miss our guide to the Oregon Coast (incl Crater Lake) for more Oregon inspiration, including our favorite coastal spot Manzanita.The Oregon Coast offers hundreds of miles of beautiful sandy beaches, great waves, rocky shoreline, incredible mountains to hike, and thousands of waterfalls and rivers. It’s a nature wonderland. Read our guide for more.

Palm Springs

palm springs.

[spotlight series. natasha casemarlene marchewka]

[palm springs soundtrack. love like a sunset]

 

There’s nothing quite like escaping LA’s urban sprawl for a weekend in the desert. Driving east on the open road, past endless windmills and retro dinosaurs, to the sun-kissed oasis that is Palm Springs. Blues and browns dominate the desert scenery here. Mid-century architecture, roadside motels, color pops, and our favorite thing of all – The Parker Hotel. We first visited the Parker in 2010 on our maiden voyage to the Coachella festival. It was love at first sight. A colorful, kitsch and calm oasis amongst palm trees and manicured lawns. There are lush swimming pools, bocce ball courts and a lemonade stand. In winter, the firepit will keep you warm. Once here, there is no need to leave. If its springtime in Palm Springs, the desert flowers are in full bloom, and pink is everywhere. Hummingbirds, too. Come to the desert to rest and recharge. If you want more action though, there is definitely enough to keep you busy for a few days. Here’s how to spend a perfect desert weekend.

To caffeinate.

For easily the best coffee in town, check out Ernest. They serve Stumptown, and they get it.

If a juice is more your thing, head to Palm Greens Café. It’s not fancy, and it’s in a strip mall, but they do a mean smoothie or green juice if coffee’s not your thing.

And for something totally unhealthy and again, not so fancy, order the s’mores shake from Great Shakes. I mean, come on. You know you are in America when you can get s’mores in a cup.

To eat.

Brunch at Norma’s: for a breakfast bigger than your head. The food here is consistently good. The French toast will blow your mind. Even the fruit bowl will impress. Its not cheap, but it is wonderfully delicious. A perfect terrace to enjoy the sunny desert light.

Cheeky’s: this laid-back Palm Springs brunching institution is always busy. Be prepared to wait. The food is fresh and organic. Order the breakfast tacos, and try the “flights” of bacon.

Lunch at the ACE: the perfect poolside lunching (or casual dinner) spot. We always stop by here on our drive into Palm Springs. Order the lentil burger, or the kale salad with chicken. Great poolside-party-people watching.

The lemonade stand at the Parker. Need we say more.

King’s Highway at The Ace: housed in a retrofitted Denny’s, this is a cute retro-luxe diner, especially busy during Coachella. Come here for farm-to-table brunch or dinner offerings. DJ sets and live music, sometimes.

Birba: the same owners as Cheeky’s, this is a good alfresco dinner spot. Enjoy pizza and cocktails under the palm trees. Live music as well. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Workshop Kitchen and Bar: our favorite desert dinner option. This impressive minimalist space, all concrete and wood, is the spot for fresh, seasonal and local food. The outdoor seating is tempting, but can get pretty hot out there, so go for a booth.

S’mores by the firepit at the Parker: the ultimate way to end your dreamy desert day. Order the s’mores tray and roast your own marshmallows over the fire, layering them in dark chocolate, and sandwiching them between graham crackers. This is insanely good. BYO bottle of red, and meet new friends by the fire. The perfect end to a perfect desert day.

To do.

Hang at the Parker: there is so much (or so little) to do here, you seriously don’t ever have to leave. Pool time, bocce, croquet on the lawn, ping-pong, s’mores by the fire pit, spa treatments or gym time.. It’s all here, and it’s all amazing. Our happy place.

Rent bikes (or borrow from your hotel) and cruise around downtown Palm Springs. Check out some of the design stores.

Visit the Kaufmann House for mid-century modern at its finest. Arguably Palm Springs’ most famous home, designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946. Continue by taking yourself on a self-guided tour. Or time your visit with Mid-Century Modern week (February) for open home visits, architecture tours, talks, and cocktail parties.

Take the Aerial Tramway to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains for some knockout desert views of the Coachella Valley. Once there you can also hike Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Palm Springs Art Museum: visit here for western American art and craftworks. Free admission on Thursday evenings.

Coachella: a no-brainer if you like music, and you find yourself in the desert in April (along with most of LA). Founded by Paul Tollett in 1999, the festival (now held over 2 consecutive weekends) takes place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio (about 45mins from Palm Springs).

To sleep.

The Parker Palm Springs: sometimes described as an “adult-playground”, this Jonathan Adler-designed hotel is a lush and private oasis. A favorite at any time of year, we like to visit every other month. Once inside, there is no real reason to leave. Rest and recharge with poolside hang time, a good book in the hammock, a spa treatment, a round of croquet on the lawn, bocce ball, maybe take out some bikes, or the s’mores tray, with some red wine, by the fire.

Sparrows Lodge: one of the original restored getaways for Hollywood elite, this completely restored 1950s retreat, is somewhat hidden off the main road and has a charming modern rustic vibe and wonderful feeling of simplicity. An outdoor fire pit, veggie garden, swimming pool, and bar…it has everything you need for a totally restful Palm Springs stay. We love it here.

Airbnb: we stumbled across this boutique little airbnb rental when planning our recent visit (February 2015). A desert-chic hideaway, perfectly tucked away behind the city’s center. Behind its bright orange door lie five refurbed apartments surrounding a pool. Simple and clean, with colorful design touches, these rooms make a perfect base. You can choose to rent one room only, or book out the entire place – perfect for a group. There’s an awesome bbq, and plenty of sun lounges to lie poolside in the sun.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club: this is where you stay if you are wanting party, not rest. Swamped at Coachella time, these mod-retro desert digs is another good option for your Palm Springs visit. Think Navarro rugs, earthy tones, and vintage furniture. Live music, poolside parties, that kind of thing.  

Korakia: this gorgeous Moroccan-style pensione is a private and calm oasis tucked off the main drag. Known to host evening movies here, there is also a lovely pool. A good option if you are wanting something quiet and low-key.

Ojai

ojai.

[spotlight series. paul blackthornechris sewell & lori anna stern]

Just one and half hours north of LA, and a short skip south from Santa Barbara, Ojai is a magical and spiritual mecca, often referred to as “The Shangri-La of Southern California”. A haven for hippies and healthy living, Ojai has long been home to artists and bohemians, and is one of our favorite stopovers.

Ojai’s charms are many, from the changing colors of the mountains (get ready for the “pink moment” at sunset, whereby the fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink over the Topatopa Bluffs), to the stunning oak-shaded laneways, the horse stables, the rambling country properties, and the warm and friendly people – life moves at a slower beat here, and the energy is intoxicating. An equally charming hideaway for a romantic weekend getaway, or a well-needed rest.

While living in Santa Barbara, we would come to Ojai on a weekly basis – mainly for our dose of chai and cookies, or smoothies and salads at the Farmer & The Cook – but also for hikes, or visits to Meditation Mount. One of our most favorite times to visit however, is on the first weekend of December, when the Ojai Rancho Inn hosts an amazing, artisanal pop-up Christmas market known as “Deck the Halls”. The Rancho’s 16 rooms get taken over by more than 50 seriously cool and creative local vendors, as well as live music, a fully stocked bar and food stalls. The best way to kick off the holiday season.

1. To eat…

Farmer & The Cook (actually located nearby in Meiner Oaks, not Ojai itself): is our firm favorite, and a quintessential Ojai experience. Soulful, healthy, wholefood paradise. Vegetarian, and renowned for its hand-made Mexican food, salad bar, smoothies (try the avocado ones!), chai, and baked goods (we cant go past the “birdfeeder cookie”). People travel for miles to feast here. This is a special place. Forever indebted to you, Paul Blackthorne, for introducing us to the chai here back on our first trip to Ojai in December 2012! The start of a long and illustrious love affair with this magical spot.

Hip Vegan Café: tucked off the main drag, this super cute spot offers seriously classy vegan food at friendly prices, with outdoor seating.

Deer Lodge: originally a gas station and market that opened in 1932, the Deer Lodge, is now a local watering hole and a great spot to grab some local farm fresh organic tucker, as well as to hear some live tunes.

2. To sleep…

Ojai Rancho Inn: the only place (in our minds) to sleep when in Ojai. The Rancho is brought to you by Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan – the ever-talented husband and wife duo behind the Shelter Social Club – also responsible for other boutique shelters including the Agave Inn, and the Hamlet Inn; as well the most legit Indonesian restaurant California has to offer, Sama Sama Kitchen, our favorite place to eat when in Santa Barbara. Reminiscent of an old summer camp, this laid-back, affordable, oasis is hard to get into, so make sure you book early. Simple, stylish and understated cool. We love it here.

As a back-up option, the Capri Hotel has recently undergone a renovation, and offers modern, mid-century-esque guest rooms and pool cabanas.

3. To shop…

Mosey along Ojai’s Spanish style shopping arcade, and pop into cute boutiques and vintage stores. Lori Stern recommends the thrift store across the street from the Ojai Roasting Company on Signal Blvd. We also love Modern Folk: for a beautifully curated selection of homewares, clothes and jewelry.

If it’s a book you are looking for – pop into outdoor bookshop, Bart’s Books – to see what goodies are on offer. We love their 24/7 honor system as well, where you can choose a book to buy from their outdoor shelves. So sweet.

4. To do…

Experience the “pink moment” at sunset, from the serene garden of Meditation Mount.

Hike: there are so many special hikes to choose from in this area, but we do love the 6.5mile Last Chance Trail, which winds through the Santa Paula Canyon. Dramatic valley views, through the lush forest, await.

Meditate: our favorite time to do this is at dusk, as the sun is going down, from the beautiful rock platforms atop of Meditation Mountain. The views over the valley here are spectacular, and there is an incredibly powerful spiritual energy from this vantage point. Even my most non-spiritual friend, was swept away from a feeling she had never experienced before, when atop the mountain. A very powerful place.

Drive: the mountain road back from Ojai to Santa Barbara (about 45mins). You will pass Lake Casitas (swimming is not allowed, but you can rent a boat, or a kayak, or do some fishing!). Stop at one of the vista points on the hill, and look back over the stunning lake. It may just take your breath away. Pure magic!

Spa treatment at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa: detox and recharge.

Bike ride along the Ojai Valley Trail: from Ojai to the coast (9.5miles).

Go horseback riding into the foothills.

Hot springs: natural hot springs located in the hills of Matilija, just minutes from Ojai.

Visit the Ojai Farmers’ Market: held each Sunday morning. Local produce and friendly vibes.

New Mexico

[spotlight series. ibrahim loeks]

[new mexico soundtrack. take me to church]

New Mexico, it was hard not to be seduced by you. You weren’t named the Land of Enchantment for nothing. Your magical desert vistas, expansive sky and stunning light, the sweet smell of sage and burning pinon, your crisp mountain air, ravishing wilderness, river gorges, and breathtaking rocky mountains. Full of wild splendor, you are. And Santa Fe, the City Different, yes you are different, but wonderfully so. We love your spiritual energy. A creative and eccentric melting pot. Thank you for casting your spell on us. We will be back.

SANTA FE

We were lucky to spend Thanksgiving in Santa Fe with a lovely local family, who shared with us the love of the town they call home. A friendly and somewhat eccentric place, Santa Fe proudly celebrates its cultural heritage, paying homage to its Native American and Spanish roots. People here embrace diversity. They are open. They are colorful. They are kind. Colorful strings of chili hang from the flat-topped adobe buildings – an endless sea of brown and turquoise – and locals hang in the Plaza, where rows and rows of jewelry sellers display their silver and turquoise handiwork. You’ll be impressed by the vast array of historic churches, the hundreds of galleries and museums, and you will be awed by the spectacular sunsets that fall over the Sangre de Cristos mountain backdrop. Over Thanksgiving we were also fortunate enough to be a part of a house blessing ceremony with 10 visiting Buddhist monks. Anything can (and will) happen in Santa Fe! The City Different. Not only that, but get ready to breath a bit heavier – you will be over 7000 feet above sea level here.

These were some of our favorite finds:

To caffeinate.

Ikonic. This was our favorite. In a location slightly out of town, Ikonic roast their own beans and do a damn good latte. They have a great little food offering as well. They even offer live music some days, and we were excited to stumble across a group of cowboys from a local bluegrass band playing one Sunday when we stopped by.

Ohori’s: a Santa Fe favorite since 1984, Ohori's has a few locations and does a great brew. We tried their coffee for the first time at Ten Thousand Waves (see below), and then hunted down one of their city locations wanting more.

To eat.

Start your day by drinking tea and eating oatmeal* at the Teahouse on Canyon Road. We had been recommended this dish from about five different friends in Santa Barbara, and it did not disappoint. *Gluten-free oats, buckwheat groats & forbidden rice, served with maple cream (yes! Maple cream) & whipped cream + strawberries or bananas. YUM.

For lunch, try the quinoa burger at Café Pasqual’s(which we once heard described as the “Chez Panisse” of Santa Fe). Breakfast here is also good (order the huevos rancheros – obviously). The smoked trout hash is also worth trying.

If you’re watching your pennies, the best cheap and cheerful lunch will be some fajitas, tacos or burritos from the El Molero fajita truck on the Plaza (at the corner of East San Francisco Street and Lincoln Avenue).

A little out of town, try the Tesuque Village Market – a pub/produce market – for decent Mexican grub. Our local friends introduced us to the “Frito Pie” – corn chips, ground beef, chicken, pinto beans or texas chili topped with cheese, red or green chile. Not the healthiest thing you will ever eat, but tasty!

Maria’s: supposedly Robert Redford’s favorite spot when visiting Santa Fe, locals love this as well. Come here for authentic New Mexican cooking and tequila (over 300 varieties on offer). Eat blue corn enchiladas and drink super-strong margaritas. What more could you want!

For dinner, we love The Shed. This Spanish/Mexican spot is a definite favorite, so you will likely have to wait awhile for a table. It might appear touristy, but don’t let that deter you. The margaritas are good and strong, and the blue corn burrito and green chile dishes make it worth the wait.

Our most hilarious and random night however was spent at the Compound – a pretty stiff and fancy restaurant just off Canyon Road. It’s all about the bar though. This was the first “conversation pit” bar of its kind. Where the restaurant is quite formal, the small bar seats only 12 people and is loud, rowdy and fun. Make sure you make a reservation in advance (Friday nights are best). The advice to sit at the bar was given to us by the lovely restaurant manager when we called to make our reservation. She assured us that the bar was a “great place to meet interesting people and since its so small and intimate, you really get a chance to engage in some wonderful conversation”. This could not have been more true. We ended up meeting and hanging out with some very colorful and entertaining locals, where the night carried on to the Cowgirl for cocktails and tequila shots.

To drink.

Margaritas at the Cowgirl: this New Mexico-meets-Texas BBQ joint is a Santa Fe institution. We had a very fun night here involving far too many margaritas and tequila shots. Come here for the BBQ brisket, the margaritas, and the live music.

To shop.

You can really get into vintage mode here, with all the great little vintage shops scattered around town. Our favorite store of all though, was Shiprock Santa Fe. Come here for awesome Navajo blankets, native American weavings, homewares, vintage and new clothes.

To do.

Visit the Saturday Farmer's Market in the Railyard District, renowned for being one of the best in the country. The Railyard District is home not only to the farmers market, but also some great galleries exhibiting work of emerging artists as well.

Ten thousand waves: be at one with the clouds and the pinon trees, and soak all your troubles away in the Japanese onsen-style outdoor tubs tucked into the ponderosa forest here at this luxury mountain retreat. Be pampered. We had an incredible facial here. Hidden in the hills, this is the perfect hideaway. Make sure you save time after your treatment for coffee (they serve Ohori) and lunch at Izanami, the deliciously authentic onsite Japanese restaurant.

Book in a massage with our dear friend and bodywork specialist, Ibrahim Loeks. This experience will be life changing. Trust us.

Cruise along Canyon Road (a little touristy/predictable) but you will find a tonne of galleries and stores. Take a tea break at the Teahouse (see above).

Check out the Monroe Gallery downtown. This black and white photo gallery was our favorite of the lot.

Get lost in a bevy of museums. We especially liked theMuseum of International Folk Art, and the O’Keefe Museum. Even more so, we would have loved to visit artist Georgia O’Keefe’s home and studio in Abiquiu. In 1949, O’Keefe moved from New York City to New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscapes had inspired her work since the late 20s, and its her home and studio which is now open to the public. A beautiful insight into the life she led in Abiquiu. “I have lived on a razors edge. So what if I fall off – I’d rather be doing something I really anted to do. I'd walk it again. (Georgia O’Keefe). Unfortunately the O’Keefe home and studio closes for winter however, so it was already shut for the season when we visited.

Check out contemporary art space, SITE, a nonprofit which opened in 1995 and was modeled after a European kunsthalle. The space, curated by Irene Hofmann, is renowned for bold and collaborative shows.

Hike through the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (one of the highlights of our trip). Just over an hour from Santa Fe, this awesome national park has a three-mile trail that winds you along a desert track through slot canyons and crazy cone-shaped rock formations, up to the top of the canyon with wide, sweeping views from the mesa overlooking the Jemez mountains and Rio Grande River Valley.

TAOS.

Taos, only an hour and a half north of Santa Fe, is an easy (and essential) overnight trip. If you have time, take the High Road. You will drive through spectacularly differing landscapes – low hills and plains, deep gorges, vertical cliffs, mountains, and valleys. The wide expanse of the Taos landscape is truly breathtaking.

To eat.

We sadly struggled to find a good coffee while in Taos…but we certainly had one of our most memorable meals at the Love Apple (see below).

Before dinner, hit up Doc Martin's, the bar at the Taos Inn. Order (strong) margaritas and sit by the fire, where you can hang out and listen to the nightly live music. It’s a cosy local spot.

Book dinner (reservations essential) at The Love Apple, a super cosy and friendly spot that is housed in an 1800s chapel just outside of town. This is local and seasonal home cooking at its finest. We also enjoyed a memorable Pinot Noir (Erath) from Oregon. Cash only.

To shop.

There are a few cute stores dotted along the main street of Taos, but our favorite of all was Logan Wannamaker Pottery. Moving from Colorado to Taos in 2006, Wannamaker came with a purpose - to create a ceramics community. His beautiful work is on display and available for sale in this lovely gallery space. 

To do.

Only 10 minutes from Taos is the Taos Pueblo. It may seem a bit touristy (which it kind of is), but it is worth a quick runaround (it does cost $17 to get in though). A maze of sand-colored adobe buildings that have been inhabited for over 1000 years. The Sangre de Cristos mountains in the backdrop make it especially scenic and wonderful.

On your way out of town, drive seven miles north (enroute to your earthship – see below) to cross over the Rio Grande Gorge. Park your car and walk over the gorge bridge to marvel at the amazing grandeur of the mighty waterway 565 feet below. Drive on to find your desert earthship…

To sleep.

In our minds, there is only one place to stay on any trip to Taos, and that is completely off-grid in something known as an earthship. Designed by Michael Reynolds, these fully sustainable homes use local resources such as the sun and are made entirely from natural and recycled materials. Walls are lined with old tires, bottles, and tin cans mixed with concrete. With thermal/solar heating and cooling, the earthships also produce their own electricity using a prepackaged photovoltaic/wind power system. This energy is stored in batteries and supplied to all the electrical outlets. Earthships use and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells. Toilets flush with greywater that doesn’t smell. And water from the sky (rain and snow melt) is harvested/caught and used four times. In addition to all of that, the earthships are filled with plants that hold hundreds of gallons of water from sinks and the shower and are a great place for raising some of the fresh produce people would expect to find during winter. Earthships can be built in any part of the world, in any climate and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production. A perfect example of self-sufficient, green living. There are a number of earthships listed to rent on Airbnb. We stayed in thisone, and had an awesome experience. Angela was a super helpful and passionate host.

On the drive back to Santa Fe, take the route over the Chama River.

Stop at Ojo Caliente to visit the natural mineral hot springs. Soak in the natural spa, book a treatment or take the short and lovely hike through the surrounding mountains (about 30mins round trip). The restaurant here is quite good as well.

Alternatively, drive back via the spiritual stomping ground of Santuario de Chimayó, a small Roman Catholic shrine and National Historic Landmark that attracts over 300,000 visitors each year. People travel far and wide to visit the site of el pocito, a small pit of soil believed to have curative powers.

And for next time…we are for sure going to hit up these places that we ran out of time to see on this visit:

+ White Sands National monument

+ Bandelier National monument

+ Ghost Ranch

+ And skiing.

So much to do here, so little time. The Land of Enchantment is truly that. We can’t wait to return.

Montecito

montecito.

[spotlight series. taiana giefersky gilbarjill nelsen]

[Montecito soundtrack. California sunrise]

Tucked perfectly between the mountains and the sea, and boasting constant sunshine and a near-perfect climate all year round, it is no surprise Montecito is considered one of the most beautiful communities in California. A very special place, we feel lucky to have called this coastal beauty our on-again-off-again home (one of many) for the past couple of years.

We are so grateful to our three Montecito insiders - all of whom have spent the most part of their lives here – for their insider knowledge and recommendations. Be sure to check out their favorite spots. In the meantime, here are some of ours…

To eat.

Weekend brunch at Tre Lune: order poached eggs, and fresh oJ.

For lunch on the run: grab a burrito from Little Alex’s (the vegetarian one –add avocado – is amazing), or a big, delicious sandwich fromPanino.

Great sushi at Sakana Sushi Bar, just next to the Montecito Country Mart on Coast Village Road.

Grab a seat at the bar, and order a steak and glass of red at Lucky’s: a Montecito institution. Amazing people watching.

Cocktails and dinner in the stunning sandstone courtyard at the San Ysidro Ranch: this is our most favorite spot in all of Montecito. A beautifully private retreat at the food of the mountains – surrounded by manicured lawns and a stunning garden of lavender, rosemary and pink bougainvillea – this is heaven. Request a table in the courtyard, and sit under fairy-lit trees (wrapped in blankets if its cold), and enjoy the most amazing meal and incredible cocktails (the Blood Orange margarita is always our guy). Oh and make sure you try the chocolate soufflé, or the fresh (from their very own garden) mint/choc chip ice cream. If it was good enough for JFK and Jackie…

A cocktail on the outdoor patio at the Four Seasons Biltmore is always a good idea. Order Oprah’s Pomegranate Martini, and look out over the Pacific Ocean and out to the Channel Islands.

Ice cream from Rori’s. This place will blow your mind. Hand-crafted and organic ice creams – made from only whole and simple ingredients (Straus Family Creamery organic milk, cream (from Grass-fed cows) and eggs) – we cant resist their dairy-free coconut and chocolate; and the fresh mint chip. Oh and our current favorite – the chunky peanut butter with home made choc/peanut butter cups.

To sleep.

San Ysidro Ranch will always be our #1: a splurge, yes, but one of the most beautiful and luxe retreats we know. Channeling old-Hollywood (JFK and Jackie Onassis honeymooned here)…the 21 private cottages are scattered among acres upon acres of manicured lawns and beautiful gardens. Private terraces, stacked firewood by the door, even your own personalized stationary once inside. This is a treat worth investing in.

Understandably though, if the budget wont quite stretch that far, there is always Airbnb. You will find so many awesome options, including this super cute “surf shack” right near the lower village.

And lastly, you could always try the Montecito Inn(conveniently located on Coast Village Road, right near Lucky’s).

To shop.

Upstairs at Pierre Lafond is the perfect stop if you need a gift. Books, homewares, candles, clothes, kids stuff, and more. In the upper village.

Also in the upper village, the Jenny Kayne home store has some beautiful things. Likewise, check out Elu – for beautiful clothes and our all-time favorite felt scarves by Taiana.

At the Montecito Country Mart (same owner as the Brentwood and Malibu ones as well), we loveHudson Grace – for beautiful interiors – andSpace NK for all things skin and delicious fragrances.

To do.

Start the day with a hike. So many amazing trails to choose from. Some of our favorites including the Hot Springs trail (up to Saddle Rock), theCold Springs trail, or the trail that starts at the entrance to the San Ysidro ranch. All pretty steep in parts, but stunning views over the mountains and the ocean, and a great workout.

Hang on the beach – Butterfly, Hammonds – or any of the others nearby. These beaches are peaceful and beautiful, and sometimes get decent waves as well.

Pilates at La Playa: this is the most beautiful Pilates studio we have found so far, with exceptional trainers as well. If you have time, be sure to book a private session with Colleen Ferguson (of Atwill Pilates), or founder, Kristin Turner – both brilliant trainers, who will work you hard. One visit will not be enough.

Visit the Friday morning farmers market on Coast Village Road: for fresh flowers, organic fruit and veg, nuts, cheese and more.

Check out Lotus Land.

Visit the antique stores in nearby Summerland.

Montauk

montauk.

[spotlight series. zachary lynd and agnes rizzo]

[montauk soundtrack. lose yourself to dance]

Montauk… we have a major crush on this old fishing village town, just a quick 3-hour drive from New York City, at the easternmost point of Long Island. This is the Hamptons’ most hip and laid-back outpost. We come here to getaway from the scorching summer city days…for surf, for fun, for food, for friends, and just to chill. It is a blissful place, sort of daggy but sort of cool, and definitely a summer staple (we also love it in the off-season when most things shut down, and the crowds depart).

Long, sandy dune beaches, good surf, fresh produce, great restaurants, stunning sunsets, yoga, fishing, biking, walks…everything you need for a low-key summer getaway.

We list some of our favorite things below (including a couple of things we love outside of Montauk as well).

To caffeinate…

Jack’s in Amagansett: by far the best coffee on Long Island. Only a 10min drive from Montauk, its worth the extra effort to get to Jack’s in super cute Amagansett Square. Jack’s organic brews are super delicious, and you will also find some great breakfast options and good drink options as well, like Kombucha. The queues can get pretty long, but make sure you stick it out. A gorgeous little nautical-flavored store with vintage buoys and hanging driftwood.

To eat…

Joni’s for breakfast: people go nuts for the breakfast wraps at this Montauk institution. We think they are good, not earth-shattering, but there are lots of other great healthy brekkie options as well. Always busy, it’s a good spot to check out – post-yoga, surf or swim. Grab a juice or smoothie, and sit out the front on the coloured picnic tables. You are sure to bump into a bunch of people you know.

One of our favorite Aussie chef’s, friend Chris Rendell, is doing spectacular things at the Surf Lodge Restaurant at The Surf Lodge. Chris’ food never fails, and you will be treated to simple and delicious organic-market driven fresh fish, salads, curries and more, in the super-hip and beautiful Surf Lodge setting. We love it here for breakfast, lunch or dinner…and anything in between. Fun times guaranteed.

Ruschmeyer’s hotel: this revamped fifties estate, is one of our favorite Montauk hangs. You feel like you are on summer camp here. Come to stay (see below), or come to eat, drink and dance. Fresh, delicious food, by The Smile crew in the city, and fun dj beats.

Tacos at La Brisa: we love Tacombi in the city, and so were super pumped when their Montauk outpost – La Brisa – opened last summer. A fun corner taqueria, come here for tacos, ceviche, and icy-cold modelos, and margaritas.

Lobster rolls from TURF: it doesn’t get much cuter than Zach’s 1967-renovated airstream-turned-lobster-roller. The most perfect Montauk experience, you can find Zach and his to-die-for lobster rolls set up in the ‘Dirt Lot’ at Ditch Plains beach. These are hands down the best lobster rolls we have ever eaten – plump, juicy, generous portions of lobster, not too much mayo and fresh bread rolls. Such a good post-beach lunch. Make sure you pop your head in and check out the stunning artwork inside the airstream that Zach’s creative wizard of a lover – Kelly Framel – did last summer. It’s beautiful here.

Dosas from the Hampton Chutney Co.: a trip here for dosas and mango lassis is not only recommended, it’s essential. A staple for us on any trip to the Hamptons. Run by an American couple, who met at an ashram in India, these authentic doasa are huge and delicious savory crepe-like creations, filled with non-traditional fillings. So tasty and even gluten-free (for our non-wheat eating friends out there). Grab them to-go and sit outside in the gorgeous Amagansett Square.

Bread and supplies from the Amagansett Farmers Market: supporting local farmers, this is a great (but quite shockingly over-priced) option for lunch on the go. We come here most mornings for their amazing fresh bread. Deli goods, pastries, fresh juices and fruit and veg. An easy place to stop on the drive into Montauk.

Fancy lunch at Pierre’s in Bridgehampton: if you are looking for something a little more up-scale, maybe a fancy long lunch with the girls, or visiting parents, bring them here. Classic French bistro. Oysters, steak and frites, and rosé. Yum.

South Edison: for great fish and good cocktails. We are never disappointed here. Delicious seafood, and amazing cocktails. Try the Montauk Mojito with mint and berry puree. Always busy and fun.

Navy Beach: come here for a burger and a cocktail. Beautiful location (on a private stretch of beach), and gorgeous views. Lunch on the beach, or just a bottle of rose as the sun goes down. A cute nautically-themed dining room. Try the Southside cocktail (vodka, mint and lemon). Best at sunset.

To drink…

For sundowners…Crows NestNavy Beach orThe Surf Lodge.

For party…Ruschmeyer’s…or The Surf Lodge. Good vibes, good tunes (look out for their weekend gigs), good views and boho beach bunnies.

To sleep…

The Surf Lodge: a nonstop beach bonanza, come to this cute boutique hotel to eat, sleep and play. Looking over Fort Pond, it’s beautiful here. Hang in a hammock, chill out on one of the giant outdoor beanbags, or try one of their weekend yoga classes on the back deck. Cocktails, sundowners, summer weekend gigs (catch bands like The Drums, MS MR, Portugal.The.Man). We love it here.

Ruschmeyer’s: it’s the little things we love at this grown-up summer camp. 1950s cedar cabins, filled with beautifully coloured rugs, wicker beds, hammocks, and classic touches like ingredients for s’mores set up in the fridge. The “Magic Garden”is filled with ping-pong tables and bocce ball courts. At night, paper lanterns swing from its trees. The food here is amazing (thanks to the culinary team at The Smile – one of our favorite spots in the city) as well, and the cocktails never fail.

Sole East Resort: the first place we stayed on our maiden voyage to Montauk five years ago. Cute, airy (small) rooms, a quaint little restaurant, bikes for hire, and a great pool (complete with daybeds, and a dj spinning pop tunes throughout the summer).

To shop

Cute pop-up boutiques at The Surf Lodge andRuschmeyer’s:

Gorgeous stores in Amagansett Square. We especially love Jack’s for coffee, the dosas from the Hamptons Chutney Company, and cute bits from LOVE adorned.

Melat Mercantile in Montauk.

To do

Yoga (Heather’s class) at Love: our favorite yoga teacher from the city, takes clasess here in Montauk through the summer. No better way to start your day.

Surf at Ditch Plains.

Walk along the beach at Hither Hills.

Catch a band at The Surf Lodge.

Go for a drive: check out the mind-blowingly beautiful homes in Amagansett, East Hampton etc.

Parrish Art Museum: this striking barn-like building by Herzog and De Meuron, stops in our tracks everytime we drive past on the Old Montauk Highway heading from the city down to Montauk.

Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack: originally a potato farm, this 55-acre winery was founded in 1987. Classically European, Wölffer is a beautiful place, producing some delicious wines. Stock up on some of their delicious, light Rosé.

Visit Shelter Island (Sunset Beach): about an hour drive (plus a couple of ferries) will get you here. Book a night at the super cute André Balazsboutique hotel…and settle in for a long lunch on the beach, with a couple of bottles of his André Balazs collection of rosé's. Only open for summer from May until September.

Wyoming

jackson hole.

[our roadtripping soundtrack].

We had no idea it would take us 22 hours. Potentially due to the fact I unwittingly punched the wrong thing into Google maps, but what we thought would take us 15 hours…somehow turned into a whole day and night of roadtripping adventure! An epic, mountainous journey from sunny Santa Barbara, California through Utah, then Idaho and into Jackson, Wyoming – without stopping. Just the way we heroines roll, I guess.

Accompanied by my mountain-loving-photographer-adventuring friend, laden with spicy bravado, and my somewhat-less-mountain-adventuring friend (but what said-friend lacks in adventure she makes up for in wit and vivacity) with cooking skills to rival those of Alice Waters. We were prepared. Well equipped, well fed and with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood to keep us revived. The most perfect roadtripping combination.

The town of Jackson, Wyoming, draws adventurers of many kinds. In a low-lying valley, surrounded by the spectacular Teton Mountain Ranges, and on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, this attractive mountain town is an example of nature at its finest. A winter wonderland. So breathtakingly beautiful, I was completely flawed at every turn. Wilderness lovers flock here for the National Parks and the extraordinary wildlife on offer, and skiers come seeking powder perfection. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – which opened in 1966 – is known as one of the most formidable resorts in the US. It has abundant steep terrain and one of the highest vertical drops in North America, at 41329ft (1262m). In summer time, these same adventurers return for river surfing (so awesome), paddle boarding and whitewater rafting along the Snake River; mountain biking; hiking through the Tetons, and horseback riding.

Jackson has something for everyone.

Elk, bison, antelope, and raccoons run wild. We saw the lot. Bears, too...but not in winter (thank goodness). Over our three day stay, we snowshoed through the Tetons – “mountains of the imagination” - to remote and peaceful hot springs; we skied the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; we boot-scooted with local cowboys at the Silver Dollar Bar; we tried our luck in getting rich (and failed) playing “shake-a-day” at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar; drank local brews at the Snake River Brewery; and kicked up our heels to local favorite all-girl band, The Miller Sisters (not just once, but two nights in a row. Dedicated groupies).

So make sure you hot-foot it to some of these places on your next Wintery escape to Jackson:

1. To caffeinate...

Persephone Bakery: our most favorite option. Persephone serves up Intelligentsia coffee, out of the cutest and most charming, white weatherboard cottage. Cozy, warm and friendly…this is a great place to while away a couple of hours (they offer free wifi). A beautiful bright and welcoming aesthetic, the bakery serves up delicious homemade sourdough breads, pastries and cakes, and offers a substantial breakfast and lunch menu as well. We kept coming back for the ricotta on toast, served with honey and roasted pumpkin seeds. A perfect way to fill up before hitting the slopes. Huge serves.

2. To eat...

Breakfast at Persephone Bakery: see above.

Lunch at Lotus Café: come here for all sorts of healthy and organic goodness – not only vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, but meat dishes as well - with American, Asian, Indian, Thai and Latin influences.

Dinner at Teton Thai: this cute spot, at the foot of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, has been serving up authentic Thai food for over ten years. Real-deal Thai chefs serve up all your favorites: rice-paper rolls, spring rolls, soups, stirfrys, noodle dishes, curries…our local friend especially likes and recommends the Duck Curry. Always busy and bustling, this is a great dinner option.

Dinner at the Q Roadhouse: fun bar/restaurant, with open fireplace and great atmosphere. Order the Korean Breakfast. An unusual name for a dinner menu item, of course, but deliciously wonderful. Think char-grilled marinated Meyer Farms NY striploin, housemade kim-chi, fried rice, and organic sunny side up eggs. So good! We also recommend the braised beef cheek ravioli, with fresh horseradish and san marzano tomato….and the Ballard Farms tokotsu ramen – a pork broth with lemongrass braised pork belly, fresh noodles, nori, bean sprouts, shitakes, snap peas, cilantro, and organic soft boiled egg. Lastly, try the Ebony & Ivory salad (white quinoa, black lentils, spinach, kale, cashews, dried apricots, peanut-lime dressing), and the Buffalo Burger – a juicy, tender beef pattie, tomato bacon relish, smoked gouda and chipotle aioli combo.

Local: a modern American steakhouse and bar – come here to enjoy a good steak, accompanied by local brews, oyster shooters and seasonal cocktails.

3. To drink...

Silver Dollar Bar: a Jackson institution, aptly named because of the silver dollar coins that line the bar top. A great atmosphere – packed full of local cowboys and visitors alike. Live music (we saw the Miller Sisters here), good burgers and brews.

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: another classic. You absolutely can not miss this Jackson experience. From the street, you will see a big neon sign shaped like a cowboy riding a horse. Inside, funky dive bar meets millionaire cowboys, and more taxidermy than you can poke a stick at, with a bar stacked full of bourbon and whiskey. Check out the life size grizzly bear (which is one of only a few grizzlies to be killed by a man with his bare hands, without a weapon!), timber wolf in pursuit of a bighorn sheep, and a life size mountain lion! Grab a seat on one of the saddle stools at the bar, and watch live swing dancing (6 nights a week). Lastly, you can not leave without trying a round of the Jackson staple “shake-a-day”. A dice game played at the bar. Rules can change from bar to bar, but there are a few consistencies: dice, dollars, drinks and potential payouts. Roll five of a kind and you win the jackpot! The night we were there, the jackpot was up to $500. The catch – you only get one turn.

Snake River Brewing: a more modern-style brewery - great for an afternoon drink (and pretzel) by the open fire, before heading somewhere else for dinner. Busy and fun atmosphere, and friendly service.

Bin22: Jackson Hole’s premier wine bar / bottle shop / tapas bar and specialty grocer. Come here to drink prosecco and other delicious wine varietals, in the lovely wood-planked ceiling surrounds of this elegant tasting room bar.

4. To do...

Ski: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. As per above, this is one of the most formidable resorts in the US, with one of the highest vertical drops in North America. Plenty of runs to choose from, at all levels. Great options for backcountry skiing as well.

Listen, sing and boot-scoot: to local girl band – The Miller Sisters.

Visit: the National Elk Refuge. Established in 1912 to provide winter habitat and preserve the Jackson elk herd. The Refuge receives almost 1 million visitors each year.

Visit: the National Museum of Wildlife Art. This timeless structure perfectly reflects the natural beauty of Jackson, blending seamlessly into the native terrain. We love how the Museum is perched dramatically on the side of a cliff, overlooking the National Elk Refuge – a perfect vantage point by which to view the area’s wildlife in their natural habitat.

Snowshoe: through the Grand Teton National Park. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and explore over two hundred miles of trails – passing glaciers, lakes, hot springs and wildlife galore. Spectacularly beautiful.

Catch a film: at the Teton Theatre in town. We love this old-school cinema.

Joshua Tree

[spotlight series. kathrin smirke and kristo torgersen]

[joshua tree soundtrack. sunshine]

Located in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree is a remarkably special place. We love time spent here. The magic is undeniable. The Mojave first cast its spell over us after a chance invite back in March 2013. A friend of a friend invited us to a birthday event they were hosting at the Integratron (see below), a magnetic dome in the middle of the high desert that was built on a powerful energy vortex, where sound baths are conducted. On our first visit, we found ourselves with twelve random new friends, lying on yoga mats inside the dome, listening to the resonating sounds of the quartz bowls bouncing off the rounded walls of the dome and trembling through the floorboards. A meditation like no other. We were even lucky enough to spend the night inside the dome. It was magic. We hiked through the National Park, weaving between the funny looking yucca trees. We drove out to explore Giant Rock. We shopped and snacked in the main street in town. And we spent hours gazing at starry-filled desert skies. From that weekend on, we were hooked.

Returning again last month, the experience was equally as intoxicating.

In Joshua Tree, you will swim in a sea of Mojave calm. It’s a place for solitude and clarity. It is easy to see why it has long attracted nature lovers, musicians, artists, New Age spiritual seekers and other urban refugees. A perfect, peaceful and private Idaho in which to soak up all the best of the desert wonders.

Below you will find all our updated recommendations. We are also excited to introduce Kathrin Smirke, owner of Dome in the Desert and fashion label, Gypsan, as one of our new desert insiders.

To eat.

Natural Sisters Café: for decent coffee and lots of organic, healthy favorites. Great juices, smoothies, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and vegan options as well.

Crossfoods: for good breakfasts, burgers, tacos and more.

Joshua Tree Health Foods: for all your healthy staples.

Pappy and Harriet’s (see below): where all the food is amazing. Definitely order some meat from the grill. The steak equals perfection. The ribs are famed. And we love their veggie burger as well.

To shop.

Joshua Tree Farmers Market: held every Saturday (8am-1pm) just off the Twentynine Palms Highway.

The End: for recycled designer finds. Contemporary and vintage. Anything from Band of Outsiders to Opening Ceremony.

BKB Ceramics: for beautiful pottery and other handcrafted goods. BKB’s ethos is pure, sustainable, conscious, handcrafted design.

Hoof & The Horn: a cute, well-curated boutique in the Yucca Valley for modern and vintage desert gems. Stocked full of hi-desert essentials, as well as some great brands including Commune, Minnetonka moccasins and local jewelry designers.

Ricochet: we love this cute spot for unique vintage finds. Dresses, bags, sunglasses, cowboy boots and more. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

To do.

Explore the National Park. This can take hours, days, weeks. Take as long as you need. Hike. There are so many trails to choose from. One of our favorites is the 49 Palms Oasis Trail (a 3 mile return trip) where you hike into a desert oasis filled with the coolest looking pineapple-palm trees. We pretended it was hundreds of years earlier and how stoked we would have been to find this shady little patch of desert heaven.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: no trip to Joshua Tree is complete without a visit to this awesome honky-tonking, BBQing, live music venue in nearby Pioneertown. A town that was built solely to be used as a country and western film set, Pappy’s stands alone here as the go-to destination in this faux town. Hang out with desert-rats and escaped city-slickers. Hoedown to the local Sunday band (the Hot Fudge Sunday). Or if its around Coachella time, catch one of the side shows under the stars – War on Drugs play 15 April, Jamie XX plays 15 April.

Integratron: come to this magical and powerfully energetic site (mentioned above) – the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the US – to rejuvenate, meditate, and to take part in one of the incredible sound baths.  With your heads in the center of the dome, you will lie on yoga mats, and listen as a series of quartz bowls (all of various frequencies) are played. The sound waves are incredibly meditative. Hard not to find this an incredibly positive and healing experience. Come also for the meteor shower party.

High Desert Test Sites: founded and administered in 2002 by the queen of the hi-desert’s art community, Andrea Zittel, HDTS is a series of open-desert locations providing an experimental way for emerging and established artists to show their experimental art installations, and performances, exploring desert themes of “contemporary art and life at large.”

Noah Purifoy Joshua Tree Outdoor Desert Art Museum: over ten acres of crazy outdoor sculptures, this desert museum has to be seen. Using recycled materials, Noah Purifoy created these surreal sculptures using castoff metals, burnt wood, blown-out rubber tires and more, over a fifteen-year period from 1989 to 2004.

Take a side trip to Idyllwild. Nestled into the San Jacinto mountains, this peaceful mountain getaway is perfect for day hikes, longer hiking journeys and rock climbing. Perfect in Springtime. Rent a cabin.

Salvation Mountain: a whacky art installation covering a hill in the Colorado Desert (kind of in the middle of nowhere) near Slab City, and further on than the Salton Sea. Created by local resident Leonard Knight (who passed away last year), Salvation Mountain is made from adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint. It is filled with bright colored murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses. It is a big detour from wherever you are, and wherever you are going, but it’s a brilliant photo opportunity if nothing else.

The Salton Sea: a shallow, saline rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault line, in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys. We detoured via here on the way to Joshua Tree (its quite a detour!). The Salton Sea, with an estimated surface area of 343 square miles (890 km2) or 350 square miles (910 km2), is the largest lake in California. The day we visited (a Sunday) we were lucky enough to stumble across a cute local farmers market, mainly Mexican stallholders, selling homemade tamales, tostadas, and tacos. 

 

To sleep…

Dome in the Desert: this magical little dome is our most beloved Airbnb find so far. Only 5 minutes from town, you have your own little patch of desert here. This dome itself has a modern-gypsy aesthetic, a beautiful mix of mid-century modern and vintage furnishings. Fully self-contained, it also comes complete with a meditation loft, vintage palm-reading books, hanging chairs, a guitar, and miles and miles of clear open skies made perfect for star-gazing. We wanted to stay forever.

29 Palms Inn: surrounded by the vast Mojave Desert looking up to the National Park, this 70-acre property is a desert institution. Stay here for cute bungalows and wood-frame cabins all set in an oasis of palms. Peacefully and perfectly located for trips into the National Park, it’s a great base for your desert stay. There is a cute pool, and a simple-looking (but delicious) restaurant. The service was uber-friendly and the steak was on point. There is a lovely organic garden to wander around, and hammocks to chill out on. The stars here shine brighter than ever. A perfect desert base, bursting with character and good vibes.

Catskills

catskills [upstate new york].

[spotlight series. Robert Earl Thomas and Inez Valk-Kempthorne]

[Catskills soundtrack. girl from the north country.]

It may only be two hours from New York City (a super easy and beautiful drive or train ride), but once here, you will feel a million miles away. Come to this stunning part of the world to do a lot, or nothing at all. The Catskills region certainly does, however, inspire adventure. Spectacular mountains to hike or bike, creeks to jump through, rivers to float down, forests to get lost in, and breathtaking views to take in. Amazing food, wilderness, farm stands, farmers markets, orchards, colors (especially in fall), peace, calm, stillness, sunsets, cosy suppers, arts and culture, bookstores, antiques, roadside diners, small-town bars, swimming holes, ziplines through the forest…you can find it all. On the way up, be sure to stop at the Storm King Art Centre – a definite highlight of our three-day adventure (and only one hour out of New York). And check out as many of the region’s little towns as you can – each with their own quirks and charm – we found much to love.

HUDSON.

There’s an urban vibe here in Hudson, or “Rubarnism” (as described by Ann Marie Gardner, a local resident and founder of the Modern Farmer magazine), “when urban expats bring their cultural touchstones and appetites with them when they move to a place like Hudson”. With echoes of Brooklyn, this quaint little town offers a young, creative, simple aesthetic, with country-town vibes. You can feel the momentum build as new shops, galleries and hotels (we are excited to see what comes of the old Warren Theatre/Inn development) continue to pop up.

To eat and drink.

There is much your stomach will get excited about in these parts. Here are our favorites:

Bonfiglio and Bread: for breakfast. Order the poached egg bowl (on avocado, croutons, lardons, yoghurt and chilli oil); take home a loaf of their sourdough bread, and try the apple cake as well.

Café le Perche: a cute bistro and boulangerie for huge (bigger than your head) sandwiches, on delicious homemade bread, and an open fire.

Swallow: for good, Brooklyn-style coffee (we like that they rotate their coffee providers on a weekly basis. They were serving Heart (our favorite) from PDX on the days we visited).

Hudson Food Studio: for a locally sourced menu with a southeast Asian accent. A cute, narrow space to eat in, or a perfect option for take out as well. We opted for take out on our first night and were blown away by its awesomeness. We wanted to try it ALL…but ended up ordering the Coriander Roasted Carrot Salad (with pickled beets, turnips, baby kale and roasted garlic miso dressing) – which was so market fresh it was amazing – and then the Pork, Greens and Rice (with tofu, ginger, garlic). Hudson Food Studio is a must.

Swoon Kitchen and Bar: a cute and cosy bistro on Warren Street, come here on Thursday nights for burger night – Kinderhook farm all natural grassfed beef served on a toasted brioche bun.

Grazin’: its pretty amazing to find an old-school American diner that serves local, sustainable and organic/biodynamic, and animal welfare approved everything (where possible).

Fish and Game: for something more fancy. It’s a prix fixe, seven-course, omnivores-only menu here. Come here for civilized weekend eating and drinking. 

Truck Pizza: for delicious wood-fired pizza out of the window of a panel van, in the food truck area at 347 Warren Street.

To shop.

Lots of cute little stores (largely antiques) dot Warren Street, making it the ideal place to poke around. These were our favorites:

Hawkins New York: the most beautiful store. We loved the tiled entryway. A curated lifestyle brand (showcasing their own brand, and a bevy of other designers as well). All our favorite things. Candles, rugs, throws, books, and the most beautiful of Burmese Mountain Dogs to keep an eye on everything - Charlie.

Flowerkraut: a stunning space, so so swoonworthy you will want to linger awhile. Come here for homemade sauerkraut, fresh blooms, cute cards, ceramics and all things pretty…by Scottish girl Mairead Travins, and her husband Seth.

RueDePapier: handmade leather bags, made with love by Robyn, a cute Swedish (via Brooklyn) expat.

Hats: by Bosnian-born milliner, Behida Dolic. People travel far and wide (direct from Paris we hear) to order these custom-made hats by Behida.

Red Chair on Warren: for beautiful old antique tables and chairs, and other random beauties.

The Spotty Dog Books & Ale: purely because it’s a bookshop in a bar, and how often do you see that! Once Hudson’s firehouse (from 1889-20022), this space is now a bookstore that has over 10000 titles on its shelves, and a rotating selection of craft beers on tap.

To do.

Visit Basilica Hudson: an amazing arts and performance space in a reclaimed 19th century glue factory on the Hudson waterfront, opened by ex-Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist – Melissa Auf der Maur – and her husband Tony Stone. If you are lucky enough to be in Hudson over Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to check out the 2nd annual Farm and Flea market – showcasing a diverse range of products from regional makers, farmers and vintage collectors.

Saturday Farmers Market: for the freshest and the best local county produce (9am-1pm every Saturday from May until November).

If the Union Street Guesthouse is full, we recommend sleeping here: Hudson Merchant House.

PHOENICIA.

To sleep.

The Graham and Co.: we love this spot. One of our most favorite, laidback North American mountain motels. With an Americana aesthetic reminiscent of the ACE, and super friendly bearded staff who will offer you a beer as you check in, this is an idyllic mountain getaway. The perfectly refurbed 1940s motely is located in small-town Phoenicia, and is just a short 5min walk into the centre of (the kitschy) town. It’s a quiet, peaceful and restful place to hang out, and a great base to access the surrounding mountains, and other towns. Rooms are simple and comfy, with whitewashed walls and grey and woody tones. The Graham throws weekend bonfires through winter. In summer, when the weather is good, you can hang by the pool (with good tunes), or bike around. They also put on summer movies on Saturday nights at dusk, near the pool. And they will always sort you out with the best recommendations of where to go and what do in the local area. Breakfast is light but delicious, and showcases local favorites such as fresh breads, cider donuts, eggs, fruit, juice and coffee. There are always good tunes on the stereo, and warm and friendly vibes. Its beautiful here.

To eat and drink.

Peekamoose: for dinner. Sit at the bar (where you can choose from both the bar menu, and the restaurant menu). Amazing hearty soups. Fresh home made bread. Burgers. Steak. Gnudi. Onion Rings. Red wines. Open fires…and a fire pit, complete with complimentary marshmallows and sticks for toasting. Good cosy vibes. Hailing from one of NYC’s finest restaurant groups (think Grammercy Tavern) this is a must stop.

Phoenicia Diner: on Route 28, not far from The Graham, this is the perfect stop for or an amazing post-hike (summer) or post-ski (winter) brunch or lunch. Super friendly and authentic, using only local and seasonal ingredients. Order the skillet and a bloody mary.

To shop.

Scandinavian Grace: a big warehouse space on the side of the highway, showcasing home goods and furniture from Scandinavia and beyond. Good coffee as well. A lovely stop.

To do.

Town Tinker Tubing: plenty of tubing opportunities during summer. Find Town Tinker in downtown Phoenicia, walking distance from the hotel. Keep it mellow and opt for a more slow, and lazy ride – or amp it up and go full deliverance down the faster, bumpier course. Town Tinker will dump you in the river, and after floating all the way down, they will then scoop you up from the other end. FS Tubing: same deal but closer.

Hunter Mountain Zipline: we love a good zipline. This one takes you 600 feet about ground, at 50miles per hour – over the spectacular Catskill mountains.

Kaaterskill Falls Swimming Hole: this is the highest two-tiered waterfall in New York State. From the parking area, walk down to the bridge (be careful, its narrow along the shoulder of the road). Near the bridge is Bastion Falls. Continue on the trail for about .5 miles to the base of Kaatersjill Falls. The water drops 260 feet in two stages. The first drop is 180ft while the second is only 80 ft. The official trail ends here.

If The Graham & Co is full, we recommend sleeping here: at the new Spruceton Inn.

Also, keep an eye out for an ACE Hotel…the word on the street is that there will be one here in these parts very soon…

WOODSTOCK.

To eat. To shop.

Cucina: for a beautiful Italian dinner in a rambling farmhouse in Woodstock. Warm, cosy and impossibly chic and beautiful. On sunny days, request a table on the large wraparound porch. If you would prefer to be inside, ask for a table in the bigger room, its better.

Sweet Sue’s: for pancakes the things that dreams are made of.

Peace, Love and Cupcakes: for other sweet stuff.

Woodstock General Supply: shop here for a curated mix of outerwear, gifts and accessories. Buy a cute Catskills vs. Hamptons sweater.

KINGSTON.

To eat. To shop.

{outdated}: for a light breakfast in an antiques store, where you can literally buy everything you see – including the plate you eat your breakfast from. Or the cup you drink your coffee out of. Sit amongst antique furniture and art. After breakfast at {outdated}, wander around Kingston's Stockade/Uptown District for some shopping.

SAUGERTIES.

To eat.

Miss Lucy’s Kitchen: a cute little spot that feels like something a granny has been running forever. A seasonal market menu inspired by the Hudson Valley, showcasing the finest local produce. All natural and antibiotic free meats; sustainable seafood; pork that is smoked in house; fresh herbs and veggies from their garden; house baked bread; and desserts made from scratch.

To do.

Find Big Pink: as other Dylan fans will know, "Big Pink" is the house that Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson recording music out of with Bob Dylan in the 60s and 70s. Located down a rough unpaved private dirt road somewhere between Woodstock and Saugerties, this is a bit of a mission to find, but if you love Dylan as much as we do, it is a fun little mission. Ignore the “private property” and “no trespassing” signs and keep driving. If there are cars around, feel free to even knock on the door. The musicians who spend time there now are always happy to welcome visitors.

BLOOMVILLE.

To sleep. To eat. To drink. To shop. To do.

Table on Ten: is our kind of heaven. Located in the teeny tiny town of Bloomville (with a population of just 200), this beautiful, warm and inviting “public house” is pretty much the only reason to stop here…but be sure to make it an essential part of your western Catskills itinerary. Run by the ever-lovely Inez Valk-Kempthorne (a former model) and her partner Justice, Table on Ten is not only a café/ wood-fired pizza restaurant, but also a providore showcasing local artists and farmers goods, as well as a 3-bedroom hotel. If the hotel is full, come here on a Friday or Saturday night for “pizza night”. Incredibly delicious wood-fired pizza with interesting and inventive toppings – our favorite, the lemon-marinated fennel, feta and parsley one. And as recommended by Table on Ten collaborator, Julian, enjoy your pizza with a bottle of Italian Lambrusco – the perfect partner. After dinner, make sure you have room for their signature affogato. This was, without a doubt, the best affogato we have ever experienced – a double shot of espresso (from their very own Table on Ten A3 blend by Irving Farm coffee roasters), coupled with two scoops of their signature homemade fennel seed ice cream. A serious taste sensation. After dinner, spend some time swooning over the shelves of their in-house microstore. We left with a bag full of goodies - homemade (by Inez) granola, stunning 100% Irish linen glass-cloths (from the last traditional damask weaver in all of Ireland), a hand-sketched children’s book "The Wild Unknown" by local artist Kim Krans, and a box of her stunning tarot cards as well. If you are lucky enough to snag one of the three lovely bedrooms, spend the rest of your days hiking (up Mount Utsayantha), riding Icelandic horses (with Heleen Heyning), doing yoga at Table on Ten, skiing at Plattekill (if its winter), or tubing and jumping in swimming holes at Table Rock (if its summer). There is no need to leave. Table on Ten will keep you entertained, well fed and lovingly looked after for days.

Check out these nearby farmers/producers:

Byebrook Farm in Bovina for raw milk, eggs and yogurt.

Bea’s bacon, avocado, Swiss and tomato breakfast sandwiches at Russell’s.

Glen Burnie farm for milk-fed pork, a quart ofMoonshine Maple and half-wheel of Danchego.

Last Harvest‘s farmstand for a big bag of sugar snaps.

Lucky Dog Farm Store for meatloaf sandwiches.

Ommegang Brewery for the obvious.

Harpersfield for aged Tilsit.

Stone & Thistle for farm-raised meats and poultry, and their goats’ cheese fudge.

Brooklyn

[spotlight series. maggie hansdorfer and laura o’neill]

[Brooklyn soundtrack. heaven]

There is something about the charm, authenticity and ever-present feeling of opportunity here, that makes Brooklyn a very special place. The Brooklyn Mag nails it when they describe this borough of New York as being the “darling of Hollywood-weary celebrities, avant-garde chefs, and independent-minded New Yorkers”. Made up of so many different pockets and neighborhoods, Brooklyn is so much bigger than at first thought. We have spent most of our days in Williamsburg (fast becoming known as “little Australia”) and Greenpoint, but we have also dabbled around in Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene –hoods that all seem to have a lot of goodness to offer. Get bikes and cruise around. More low-key than its big city NYC neighbor, we have highlighted some of our favorite things below.  

WILLIAMSBURG

So close to the city (just a stop or two on the L-train), this hip little hang-out offers so much. We love it here.

To caffeinate…

Toby’s Estate: yes, they are Australian (and we might therefore be slightly biased), but this open, airy space is so beautiful, the staff friendly (albeit hipster to the holt), and the coffee is good. Damn good. The pastries are also amazing…and you can get some awesome Aussie favorites like vegemite or avo on toast. Not to be missed. (Note: if they are still doing the caramel dipped macaroons, it would be a crime not to try one. The start of something good).

Blue Bottle: An awesome brick building on Berry Street that was once filled with glass blowers, and metal smiths, and barrel makers…but now houses Blue Bottle’s coffee roaster and café. It’s a great space, and very good (serious) coffee.

To eat…

Café Colette: another Berry Street favorite of ours, we adore this cute little French corner spot. Grab a seat at the bar, or a cosy corner booth. Brunch is amazing, but anytime of day will do. This little local haunt will impress, always.

Café Mogador: Moroccan deliciousness on Wythe Ave. Come here for the eggs. Brunch here is awesome. Packed full of Moroccan spices, or poached in a za’atar pita, so many delicious flavors, it’s crazy. Queues can be long.

Egg: good for brunch or casual lunch. Light, airy, good vibes.

Walter Foods: another great brunch spot, and raw bar as well. We are told not to miss the French dip at dinnertime. Can’t say we have tried it yet though.

La Superior or Rosarito Fish Shack for tacos.

Roebling Tearoom for eggs for brunch, or for the burger for lunch.

Pastries from Bakeri: super cute French-style bakery on Wythe. Come here for sweet treats or something delicious for lunch. Love the aesthetic, and cute server get-up.

Dumont: for burgers on Bedford.

Saltie: for sandwiches in a super cute little storefront.

Brooklyn Whole Foods Market: the most exciting new addition to the Williamsburg scene (we love a good Whole Foods!). It’s beautiful here. We challenge you to find another whole foods store that has a record store inside it…?! Doesn’t get more Brooklyn than that !

For dinner…

Marlow & Sons: an old favorite. This cute spot has been tucked away under the Williamsburg bridge for almost ten years now. Cosy, always busy, American goodness. We love the back bar. Great food, try the brick chicken. A romantic little dinner option.

Diner: we came here to this 1920s-restored dining car restaurant on our first ever trip to New York in the year 2000. Armed with a hitlist of recommendations, we quickly tried to tick this one off, and it quickly became one of our Brooklyn favorites. American Nouveu food and good vibes. Brunch also good.

Fette Sau: this is the place to come for meat. Good ol’ fashioned no-frills meat. Ribs, steak, pork belly…the choice is yours. Busy and fun. You pay by the pound.

Dotory: Korean is the flavor of the month for us right now, and Dotory is just the place to fix that hankering.

Reynard: within the beautifully-restored Wythe Hotel warehouse building, come here for seasonal deliciousness in a gorgeous environment.

For something sweet…Momofuko Milk BarBakeri, orSaltie.

To drink…

Wythe Hotel Rooftop: our #1. This is our favorite place for a sunset drink in all of New York. The views from the bar and rooftop are spectacular. Nothing screams New York City more, than looking back over the East River to Manhattan as the sun goes down over the Manhattan skyline. Great cocktails, delicious wines, good vibes.

Hotel Delmano: we love cocktails here before or after a fun dinner in the hood. Grab one of the leather banquettes or sit up at the long marble bar for some seriously tasty drinks.

D.O.C. Wine Bar: our favorite Williamsburg wine bar.

Vine Wine: when you are feeling like a night in, or a few wines by the riverfront, grab a bottle from our favorite neighborhood wine store. A great range of wines…and always a bunch in the “under $15” section that are super affordable and really delicious.

The Commodore: fun bar and good, easy bar food.

For music…

Pete’s Candy Store: don’t be fooled by the name, you wont find candy here – rather, a music venues / bar / club.

Brooklyn Bowl: according to Rolling Stone magazine, this is “one of the most incredible places on earth”! This is a bowling alley that not only acts an awesome performance space, but also serves high-quality, delicious food care of Blue Ribbon, bars offering local brews, as well as 16 bowling lanes. Located in the former Hecla Iron Works (built 1882), this is definitely worth checking out.

The Red Bull Music Academy: an awesome concept. The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals. Two groups of 30 participants have been chosen – producers, singers, djs, etc from around the world – to come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of recording sessions, lectures, collabs and performances around town. A platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape. The Academy began back in 1998, and was set-up in Williamsburg last year. Now in 2014, the Academy will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

To sleep…

Wythe Hotel: our favorite hotel in New York. This is the only place to stay, in our opinion. Unbeatable views, beautiful design, the best rooftop bar New York has to offer, our favorite and most perfectly well-curated mini bar (on par with the ACE anyway), and a great restaurant downstairs. Oh and super friendly staff. It doesn’t get any better.

If you’re not on a hotel budget, there are some really awesome rental apartments to be found on Airbnb.

To do….

Enjoy a Sunday Supper: a communal cooking center in Williamsburg. Shared meals, communal cooking, and seasonally, market-fresh food. The founder used to host these suppers in their home, but the dinners have evolved and are now housed in a beautiful space documenting food, travel and life. A great supper last year offered produce sourced from local North Brooklyn Farms, in a stunning location in Havemeyer Park with a view of the Williamsburg Bridge and a summer sunset behind the Manhattan skyline. For only $45, you were presented with a delicious seasonal menus by notable local chefs, and cocktails from Sailor Jerry.

Brooklyn Grange Farm: we came to this – the world’s largest rooftop soil farm (located on two roofs in New York City) – for a communal rooftop dinner party last September. Crazy sunset views from our Long Island location back over Manhattan. Quite spectacular. On what we thought would be a warm evening though, we freezed our little bottoms off as the winds set in!! Nevertheless, the setting was breathtaking…and if more prepared, with some winter woolies, we would have been toastie and much more content. An interesting food offering, paired with local Brooklyn craft brews. This is a space where 50,000lbs of organically-cultivated produce is grown each year. Brooklyn Grange also provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to clients worldwide, as well as partnering with numerous non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm: the chickens in the coop here on this impressive rooftop urban farm in Greenpoint, have the best views of Manhattan we have seen. Three stories up, on the banks of the East River and with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot green roof organic vegetable farm located atop a warehouse rooftop.  During growing season, a farmers market is held here on the roof, and the farm also supplies local restaurants with produce. As well as that, the farm also hosts a range of farm-basededucational and volunteer programs. Open to the public, during growing season, on Sundays between 1pm-4pm.

MoMA PS1: we stop here at least once on visit to the city. A branch of MoMA, this is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the US. An exhibition space with a constant rotation of super interesting and thought-provoking experimental art on display. “A catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses, and trends in contemporary art, MoMA PS1 actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art”. This is a unique artistic environment, and we also love the cute school-style café downstairs that has a great little menu for after-art downtime.

Definitely check out the Domino Sugar Refinery. An abandoned old building in Williamsburg – once a processing plant – is currently filled with a sugar-coated (literally) 75 ft. long, lily-white mammy in the shape of a sphinx, by artist Kara Walker. On display only until July 6.

Cheese, cheese and more cheese from the Bedford Cheese Shop: a visit here is essential. An old-fashioned cheese shop, you will find some amazing cheeses in here, from all across the world.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: this is what ice cream is (and should always be) about. Made from scratch, locally in Greenpoint, there is nothing artificial in this creamy goodness. Using only fresh hormone and antibiotic free milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and the best fruits, chocolates, spices and nuts from small producers locally and around the world. Van Leeuwen celebrates ingredients perfected by nature, not science. Starting out with just two Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream scoop trucks in the Spring of 2008, they now have six trucks and three stores around Brooklyn and Manhattan serving their seriously delicious and quality ice creams, fresh pastries and Toby's Estate Coffee. We love the fresh mint. Wow.

Mast Brothers Chocolate: handcrafted, locally-made, quality single estate and single origin chocolate. This space is amazing and definitely worth checking out.

Hang out riverside along the N4th Waterfront.

In need of a mani/pedi? Check out Hello Beautiful.

To shop…

Baggu: we love their colorful leather coin purses, and fun plastic make up and travel bags.

Catbird: our favorite jewelry spot in New York. Dainty little rings, and other beautiful pieces.

Mocium: we love this light-filled, airy store in North Williamsburg. Come here for gorgeous, delicate handcrafted ceramics, textiles and jewelry.

Brooklyn Flea (held in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays): a classic Brooklyn experience. So many awesome vintage and antique vendors, local food stalls, and an incredible location smack bang on the East River with views back to the city. It stays open through winter, but moves to the former Williamsburg Savings Bank.

Vintage shopping: what Brooklyn is known for. So many places to check out. We always hit up Artists & Fleas (for a rotating selection of vendors, in an old warehouse building); and Beacons Closet (a “cavernous temple of cheap clothes”, for second-hand and vintage clothes and accessories).

Kinfolk: the new Kinfolk studios in Williamsburg are housed in a beautiful lofty warehouse space. At this stage, dedicated entirely to menswear – this building is super impressive and there are big plans for an event space in the future.

Main Drag Music: check out the wide range of music here, all handpicked by musicians themselves.

SOME OF OUR OTHER BROOKLYN FAVORITES…

GREENPOINT

After Williamsburg, this is where we have spent most of our BK time. We love the strong and happy sense of community here. A hive of creativity. Everyone seems to be doing something different, interesting and inspiring, and often for the benefit of the community as well. A dining destination in its own right, there are some amazing eating options here (and the odd Lena Dunham-fan cruising around on Girls sightseeing tours!).

We especially love Franklin Street. Some great little spots to stumble across here.

To eat…

Five Leaves: our #1 favorite brunch spot in all of Brooklyn, on a Bedford Ave corner. Australian/American owned, come here for seriously good food at any time of day. For brunch, it’s always a toss up between the Mushroom Toast (with sautéed kale and poached egg), or the Moroccan Scramble (with chickpeas, crushed avo and sourdough)…or go the burger. Oh and truffle fries. They are a must. Be prepared to wait, especially on weekends. It is absolutely worth it though.

Selamat Pagi: our favorite Balinese resto outside Bali itself. A super cute, warm, welcoming, cosy neighborhood feel-good number. Fresh, seasonal, traditional and inspired dishes from Bali. We have tried everything on the menu, and can safely recommend it all. You can’t go wrong. A cute little bar as well. Pale woods and creams. Good tunes. Happy vibes. It’s beautiful here. 

Paulie Gees: a beautiful old warehouse space dishing up seriously good pizza (be prepared to wait – but wait you can, at the craft brewery next door). Our pick – the Greenpointer: white base, Fior di Latte, Arugula (rocket to us Australians!), Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Also famous for their pizzas with hot honey on top.

Calexio: for tacos and margaritas. Lots of locations, a mix of restaurants and food carts.

Alameda: this beautiful neighborhood bistro is a perfect option for your daily hang. They do a mean burger.

Acapulco: come here for old-school Mexican action, this is part-taqueria, part-American diner. Authentic, and cheap. Think sombreros on the walls and colored Mexican rugs as tablecloths. Order the homemade guac, and try their chorizo tacos.

To drink…

Nights and Weekends: come here for great drinks and nachos.

Broken Land Bar: a cosy neighborhood bar, run by locals. Hand-crafted cocktails, beers, fine wines. Oh and a lovely back courtyard.

Dandelion Wine (aka Dandy): a cute boutique wine shop, with a stack of carefully curated and hand-picked little gems. Large selection, many organic or biodynamic, and seriously well priced.

To shop…

Spina: a super cute combination flower and coffee shop…serving Blue Bottle coffee and Dough donuts, together with flowers, plants and lots of local BK designer goods.

Bklyn Curated: this cute interiors store on Franklin Street immediately caught our eye. A gorgeous fit out, and cute back yard, there are heaps of vintage and antique Americana goodies to be found.

DUMBO

Dinner at Vinegar Hill House: a long-time favorite of ours. We love the aesthetic here…somewhat reminiscent of Freemans (where the VHH owners met), more vintage though, but similarly cosy, warm and candle-lit. Seasonal American-style food, flavorsome and delicious. A fun, cosy, winter spot to hang…and brunch good as well.

Pop in and support the artists at LAND Gallery. We were introduced to the LAND studio and gallery a few years ago, which features the work of artists with neurological diversities. We were lucky enough to have a piece commissioned by artist Michael Pellew, who dreams up vignettes of celebrities of his own preference, staged together in any random combination. For me, Michael created a picture of “President Obama, Michael Jackson, Georgia Hopkins, Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Mayor Bloomberg, Mr.T and Lady Gaga, and don’t forget Georgia Hopkins”. Pellew’s pop culture drawings have become so popular hey are now available as greeting cards, and sell-out items, at stores like Opening Ceremony. TheACE even hosted a special exhibition for LAND’s artist’s last October. Worth checking out for sure.

Also, if you happen to be in DUMBO in September, check out Photoville: an awesome photographic event held in the Brooklyn Bridge Park– housed in old shipping containers, overlooking Manhattan.

Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park: a beautiful green park, on the banks of the East River, in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge. Great views back over Manhattan, and check out the beautiful Jane’s Carousel.

Shop at (or at least swoon-over) ZOE: high-end designer stuff: somewhat rare for this side of the river - in a beautiful space.

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN

Sleep here…at the 3B boutique bed and breakfast coop. Run by 8 young creatives (artists, singers, writers and designers) out of their original home, this is a great little taste for Brooklyn-style communal living. We stayed here in 2012 and loved the warm and welcoming vibe, and beautifully renovated space, in an awesome location in Downtown Brooklyn. Interesting conversation around the cute and charming kitchen table, you will be cooked a delicious, home-made breakfast each morning.

For accessibility, vibe and value, we think this is the best place to stay in Downtown Brooklyn. These guys have been written up a bunch (in New York Magazine,Budget Travel MagazineHuffington PostThe Paris Review and more.) So check them out, if you are looking for a more budget option.

FORT GREENE

We love Fort Greene. A neighborhood that is filled with classic brownstones, lots of trees, good restaurants and a strong arts community. Filmmakers, musicians, writers, and dancers now call Fort Greene home. We love its old-school, laid-back feel.

A SMOOCH weekend brunch (or any day breakfast actually) is essential. Owned by a super friendly Australian legend – you will be so happy you found this little beauty. Great organic coffee, food and wine. Cosy, laid-back atmosphere. Cute bench seating on the pretty tree-lined street. Some awesome Aussie-named menu options as well. We love it here. Say hi to Basquali !!

Brooklyn Flea at Fort Greene: on Saturdays (as above). It might not be along the waterfront, but we love the laid-back feel of this neighborhood market – same vendors, different vibe.

Dinner at Roman's: good vibes resonate from this great Italian bistro-style spot, courtesy of the same people behind Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg. Come here for delicious, reasonably-priced pastas and other Italian goodness.

Smoke Joint: for low-key BBQ hang out time. We once read that the “Smoke Joint feels likes the Fort Greene version of Cafe Gitane. Less models, more Baby Back Rib Sauce.” Couldn’t agree more. Come here for ribs and good times.

Franks Cocktail Lounge: this place has a totally local vibe. ‘80s in style, R&B jukebox, always good tunes – think rap, R&B, house, reggae – sometimes djs, sometimes live music. Fun times.

To shop…

Feliz: this cute store on DeKalb Avenue is full of well curated bits and pieces. Cards and jewelry and homewares and cute baby stuff. It’s a lovely spot to check out after brunch at Smooch, just around the corner.

Dossier: what started out as a twice-yearly fashion magazine called Dossier Journal, has now evolved into this cute little boutique. Books, jewelry and vintage finds.

BOERUM HILL

Boerum Hill is another BK neighborhood we love, known for its independent boutiques, restaurants and brownstone-filled streets. Many artists end up here, and there are galleries galore. Arts and culture thrive here in abundance – we came here for a music festival at BAM, but it is also well-known for The Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette and Issue Project Room, the thriving Smith Street restaurant row and Atlantic Avenue Design district.

BAM: the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been a BK staple for more than 150 years. BAM is home to artists, audiences and ideas. Theatre, dance, music, opera, film and so much more. We were spoiled to catch the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry back in May 2012, witnessing Brooklyn-locals The Walkmen kill it on stage, as well as another fav, Sharon Van Etten.

We loved dinner at this cute and rustic Boerum Hill favorite, Rucola. Inspired by the slow food movement in Piedmont Italy, the menu here is seasonal and constantly changing. Cosy, warm and very inviting, this is a great choice for dinner before or after a show (and just walking distance from BAM).

PARK SLOPE

Sun in Bloom: BK neighborhood favorite for all things gluten-free, vegan and raw! They do amazing cold-pressed juices, coffee with fair-trade, organic beans, and hot drinks using cashew and almond milks. There sweet stuff is amazing as well. We love it here.

BUSHWICK

You’ve got to visit Roberta’s. You will literally wait hours. But the wood-fired pizza is definitely worth the wait (and the extra few stops on the L train). If it’s warm, grab a table outside. On second thoughts, just take whatever table you can get. It will be so busy, you wont have a choice! We love the fact that most of their ingredients come from their very own co-op garden outside.

Try Bunna for fresh and delicious Ethiopian food.We love this story. Friends threw a launch party in June 2011 to celebrate the launch of their new project – Bunna Café. Having only met months earlier, they both shared a desire to promote Ethiopian food, coffee and culture. After hosting a series of popups, dinner parties, appearing at street fairs, fundraisers, music fests, flea markets, and so on…they then raised funds on Indiegogo to open their first permanent location, here on Flushing Ave in Bushwick. These guys feel that Ethiopia has so much to offer the rest of the world, and hope to change the common perception that it is a country in need. Amazing good and really lovely vibes. Check it out for sure.

Brunch at Northeast Kingdom: we love brunch here. The husband-wife team behind Northeast Kingdom offer a contemporary-American menu emphasizing the seasonality of the Northeast. They have their own farm in Ghent NY, and grow vegetables, raise hens and bees, press apples and make beer. A great little spot.

PROSPECT HEIGHTS

Franny’s: a Brooklyn institution, Franny’s has been churning out some of the best pizza and locally-sourced food in Brooklyn for almost 10 years. Having recently moved to a new (and bigger) location – just five-minutes walk from the previous one – you will queue. And queue. And queue. But it’s worth it. Like Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in San Francisco, Franny’s was one of the early adopters when it came to introducing sustainable and seasonable food to the New York food scene. And it still remains the flagship.

Weather Up: chilled vibes, good tunes, friendly service. Come here for a drink. If you are hungry, grab dinner across the street at The Vanderbilt. Tribeca (and Austin TX) location as well.

CARROLL HILL

Pok Pok: this Portland-favorite headed East, and people here in BK are going just as crazy for it.  Fresh takes on Thai classics. Try their yummy Thai-inspired cocktails as well.

OTHER BK RANDOM…

Make your way to Lefferts Gardens in Prospect Park to witness “Drummer’s Grove”. Established in 1968, these Congo Square Drummers come here every Sunday from April to October from 2pm to dusk. Grab a drum and get involved, or just watch and hang out.

Big Sur

big sur.

[spotlight series. josh gold]

[our big sur soundtrack.]

there is a pleasure in the pathless woods; there is a rapture on the lonely shore; there is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar: i love not man less, but nature more.*

The isolated beauty of Big Sur is breathtaking. Nestled into the steep curves of the Santa Lucia Mountains, surrounded by remarkable redwoods and rocky beaches, there is magic in the air here. A long and windy journey north of Los Angeles, or south from San Francisco, the scenery along the Pacific Ocean is totally awe-inspiring. We were wowed by a pod of gray whales, on their migration north back to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. These amazingly humble and beautiful creatures, perhaps ten of them, entertained us for what seemed like hours. Seals, dolphins, birds as well, as if on queue, on stage, showing off in their stunning surrounds. The air is clear, the nature wild and free, and the energy intoxicating…and as Henry Miller said, there is at once, an “eloquent silence” here. Just wait to be swept away by the magical energy.

1. To sleep…

Sleeping options are somewhat limited…but there are definitely a couple of choices for every budget. If you are craving a little bit of luxe, and don’t mind spenny, then I would definitely recommend Post Ranch Inn orVentana (where the “rustic charm of Ventana’s weathered cedar buildings belie the luxury within”). For something a little more affordable, try Deetjen’s: a charming bed and breakfast nestled into a lush and windy part of the coastal drive; or Glen Oaks: an updated 1950s motor lodge/turned cabins (I hear good things about their River View cabins. Or lastly, save your pennies altogether, and pitch a tent. There are countless campgrounds to choose from. Be one with nature - so many magical spots. We loved the look of the Andrew Molera State Park Trail Camp, perfectly located within walking distance of the Big Sur Rivermouth. Bordered on one side by the Big Sur River, this campground is in a grassy meadow dotted with large trees, and is just a short walk to the beach. None more perfect a place to set up camp.

2. To eat…

Eat at the Big Sur Bakery: breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner - or all of the above! A Big Sur staple. We love starting the day here, and then ending it here as well. Take home a copy of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: filled with Big Sur history, Big Sur personalities, and some seriously delicious recipes.

Deetjen’s: for the best eggs benedict in town (according to my beloved Big Sur aficionado – Skye Byrne). A charming, rustic and woody atmosphere, on the edge of the redwood forest in Big Sur.

2. To drink…

Our favorite place for a sunset drink is the Cliffside restaurant and bar at the Post Ranch Inn. We couldn't quite afford the $1500+ price-tag to stay the night, but figured a bottle of rose, watching the sun go down from the outside bar, was just as good. Clear skies, so many stars, pure magic.

Nepenthe: a great place to grab a drink or bite at sunset. Killer views over the Pacific as the sun goes down. If you have already eaten, or have dinner plans later, just pop in for a drink…and cosy up by the fire if it’s chilly outside.

Night cap at the Big Sur Village Pub: we had a very fun night at this quaint little pub, just meters down the hill from the Big Sur Bakery. Friendly service, live music [ryan dishen was playing the night we were there: so good, we took home a copy of his album, new windows. the kid can sing], and good brews. A perfect way to end the most perfect of days.

3. To do…

Hike: to the McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – a picturesque waterfall, which drops over jagged cliffs into the Pacific Ocean, just a short walk from Highway 1. Sadly, you can’t get down close to the waterfall, but this is a main feature of the park and definitely worth checking out. Just go early, as the crowds start to roll up pretty soon after breakfast.

Visit: the Big Sur River Mouth, through the Andrew Molera State Park - a lovely beach you can access by walking through a stunning meadow. We had the beach completely to ourselves when we visited shortly after sunrise.

Surf: exploring the rugged Big Sur coastline on a surfboard is an experience not to be missed. Jaw-dropping coastal scenery, empty lineups, and enough wilderness to get truly lost in! The ocean here demands respect. The Big Sur Rivermouth, for example, can sometimes have good waves, but beware of fast currents that can close out the waves, and the shallow sandbar.

Get nude: at the Esalen Institute’s Public Night Hot Springs (1am-3am). A spectacular setting – natural hot springs, which hug the cliff-side of the Pacific Ocean. Reservations essential. Relax, unwind and get naked. The famed (and famously private) Esalen Institute opens to the public for 2 hours each evening. A maximum of 20 visitors are allowed each night. The hot springs can reach temperatures of 115 °F (46 °C), but are cooled significantly by the coastal air. Total darkness keeps this sanctuary shrouded in secrecy.

Hikes: so many wonderful options, for all different levels. You can’t go wrong.

Whale Watching: watch these stunning creatures – gray whales – pass Big Sur in December and January, on their migration south to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific.

A MUST: if you are very lucky, and you time it right, catch a live show at the Henry Miller Library. An unbelievably magical and hidden experience – a little stage tucked deep in the forest, among the big Reds, secluded and only for an audience of 300. Grizzly Bear, Beach House and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs all played in this mystical place last summer. Doesn’t get more radical than that.

Austin

[spotlight series. will martinbrittney nicole costello,scott cook]

[austin soundtrack. ho hey]

Now this is a city that knows how to have fun.

Texas’ capital is laid-back and progressive, with a strong emphasis on music, outdoor brews and good food…and where BBQ is a religion!!

The stereotype is true. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Texas. From pedicab cyclists to food cart vendors to skateboarders to shop owners and boot-scooters; locals here are warm, sweet and welcoming.

A full-of-fun, honky-tonking town on any occasion, our favorite time to visit is in March for South by South West (SXSW): the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival, where 70,000 of the world’s movers and shakers take over the town. October is another perfect time (for the Austin City Limits (ACL) festival), where Zilker Park explodes with a sweet line-up of bands.

At any time of year though, Austin will impress.

On our first ever visit here, our taxi driver took great pleasure in educating us on “Stevie” Ray Vaughan, as we drove past his memorial statue in Austin’s Auditorium Shores Park. Vaughan was an American guitarist/singer-songwriter/record producer who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 1990 and was then posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. We sat there listening to the legend’s tunes belt out of our cab driver’s stereo. A fitting introduction to what would be the beginning of an Austin love affair for all things music, and more.

Aside from the recos below, grab a copy of ‘Rather Austin’. A cute little city guide that became our go-to – focusing exclusively on locally owned restaurants and stores. The perfect companion for navigating your way through Austin’s streets.

1. To caffeinate…

The espresso-based coffee scene is starting to take off in Austin. Perhaps not to the same extent as our favorite coffee town, Portland, but if you love good coffee as much as we do, there are definitely a few options...

Houndstooth: a handsome space with friendly service. You can even order a flat white.

Flat Track Coffee: a few locations, but their flagship store is a cute, tiny space with just six bar stools and an inviting bench out the front.

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew: we love this concept – equal parts coffee shop and classic bar, you will find specialty coffee and craft beer in a comfy setting.

Cafe Medici: good brews and snacks. You will find theBearded Brothers’ bars here. We are obsessed. Raw, vegan, gluten and soy free, organic goodness (made in Austin)! We have also found them at Jo’s Coffee at Hotel San Jose.

Vintage Heart Coffee: located on the East side. Fair trade coffee brews from local roasting company, Third Coast.

Frank: the purveyor of artisan sausage! Despite their moniker being all around hot dogs and cold beer, these guys serve up delicious Handsome Coffee. As passionate about their sausage as they are about their coffee!

Patika: great coffee from a little food truck in the Warehouse District. A good place to stop on the way to Franklins BBQ.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to be in Austin for SXSW this year – make sure you pop by SouthBites – the gourmet foodtruck area curated by celebrity chef, Paul Qui. Perfectly located on Driskill Street, at the top of bar-crazy Rainey Street, you will find our very ownHOUSE OF CARD pop-up coffee house. Our little cardboard house will be pumping out good quality Aussie-style coffee, including   flat whites, lamingtons and Tim Tam slams!

2. To eat…

Elizabeth Street Café: if you only eat in one spot (which you wont...but this is how much we love it!!) make sure it is here. A hybrid of Vietnamese and French deliciousness, this bright and aesthetically stunning café is by the same folk behind our seafood favorite, Perla’s. We love everything about this place – the minty color scheme, amazing food, friendly service, the waitresses in their cute 50s style smocks, the Stumptown coffee, and the stunning outdoor terrace shaded by oak trees. We find it hard to pass up the luscious banh mi sandwiches served on house-baked baguettes, and the big bowls of bun (order the shrimp!) that come with vermicelli noodles and fresh seasonal vegetables. No bookings, so get there early. Any wait, however long, is well and truly worth it. We promise.

Perla’s: for any meal – but we love the brunch here. Grab a seat out on the oak-shaded patio, with its little white lights and great views of the action on South Congress. If you’re brunching, order the lobster frittata.

Brunch at Hillside Farmacy: with vintage pharmacy charm, we love this cute east-side spot. With antique wooden display cases, tin ceiling and hex-tiled floor all intact, the pharmaceutical theme is played well here. Great farm-to-table food options. Finish off brunch with one of their seriously good ice cream sandwiches.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple: a cute spot for coffee and breakfast. This lovingly restored historic West 6th Street building now houses Walton’s bakery, café and sandwich bar, as well as a florist and interiors store.

Dinner at Uchiko: a sleek and contemporary Japanese, offering pretty extraordinary sushi. Uchi is also theirs (in another location)…but Uchiko is definitely the “Prince Harry of the pair”…the younger, hipper version.

Check out Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon: for drive through organic, charcoal chicken (by the same people behind Perla’s and Elizabeth Street)!

Justine’s Brasserie: cute upscale French bistro on the east-side, with a lovely outdoor terrace. Always busy. Consistently good food.

Pizza from Home Slice: when you want something quick and easy. Home Slice pizza is a great option. Thin base, great toppings. We love it here, especially late night (after the Continental Club).

Guero’s Taco Bar: for margaritas and tacos. Fun during festival times. Not the best Mexican you will ever eat, but definitely fun.

Franklin BBQ: for your first Texan BBQ experience, come here – but get in quick (by 2pm we hear), and join the queue outside this turquoise cinderblock building on a nondescript street corner. This place has such a good reputation that the whole restaurant will often sell out, and fast. During SXSW we have even heard of people paying $15 per hour for people to stand in line for them! Gotta love anyone so passionate about their brisket!

East Side King: located in East Austin – this was Paul Qui’s (Top Chef winner) first restaurant – come here for Asian fusion, with a second location having recently opened on South Lamar Blvd. Famous for their Thai Chicken Karaage and Beet Home Fries. Also try the Poor Qui Buns (steamed roasted pork belly buns) and Brussel Sprouts salad.

La Condesa: the perfect stop if you are craving some modern Mexican.

Josephine House: this bungalow-turned-lazy-lunching-destination has only 30 seats. A cute spot to kick back with a few afternoon cocktails.

Food Carts: Austin loves a Food Cart…trailer, cart, truck, Airstream, wagon…any way they come, they love them all…and they seem to be growing by the day. Set up in parking lots, on sidewalks, parked in groups, or set up solo, they really are everywhere.

3. To drink…

Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden: at the quiet end of Sixth Street, this “very Austin” hipster hangout has a bakery on street level, and a downstairs, tree-shaded patio and beer garden scattered with ping-pong and picnic tables. We love this spot.

East Side Showroom: industrial-ish, prohibition-style drinking den serving flawless cocktails.

Rainey Street: cruise down Rainey Street for a real nightlife block party. A whole row of bars and restaurants operated out of cute, historic weatherboard homes. We like Lustre Pearl.

Stubbs: come here for live music and BBQ. On Red River Street, this huge bbq joint with a dusty stage out back is an Austin institution. Regularly snagging massive headliners – Lady Gaga will be on a pop-up stage here at SXSW this year.

Boot scoot at the Continental Club on South Congress: an Austin staple, especially on a Sunday night. This is the Granddaddy of all local music venues. Awesome live rockabilly tunes. Be sure to check out Dale Watson: a local and legendary honky tonk and country singer.

The White Horse: another Eastside favorite. This hipster / honky tonk hybrid bar draws a crows of tattoo-covered rockabillies, two-steppin’ retirees, as well as hipsters. Showcasing some of Austin’s finest new country talent, the energy here is fun and debaucherous, and is best mid-week.

Contigo: created as an extension of Contigo Ranch, the beautiful elm-tree covered deck here is so popular that you better be willing to wait (sometimes two hours on weekends). A beautiful spot for a drink.

Midnight Cowboy: this secretish speakeasy spot is located downtown. With no sign, just find the door, ring the buzzer (titled “Harry Craddock”) and you will be let into this former brothel-turned-bar.

Péché in the Warehouse District: another hidden treasure serving up pre-prohibition style cocktails, specializing in absinthe.

Whisler’s in East Austin: a relative newcomer to 6th Street, lots of outdoor seating if you are looking for somewhere on a sunny day. 

The GatsbyScott Cook can be found behind the bar at this little 1920s speakeasy bar, with a pretty back patio. Great cocktails. Pop in after dinner at East Tiger.

Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon in North Central: this institution is worth a visit…especially on a Sunday, to catch a live show by Austin legend, Dale Watson. Stay for Chicken Sh*t Bingo (and free chilli dogs)!

5. To shop…

By George: for great vintage…check out our favorite store on South Congress. Think Isabel Marant, Helmut Lang and others, plus local artisans as well.

JM Dry Goods: If you really want to embrace the Texan spirit jmdrygoods.com : an eclectic, Mexican-influenced boutique, for your very own pair of vintage cowboy boots.

Another favorite is the Spartan Shop on South Lamar…”a carefully edited collection of beautiful, practical objects, influenced by the changing seasons without staying far from our core inventory of reliable, classic items”. We could literally buy every single thing in this stunning store!

Uncommon Objects: our favorite antique store. A huge space, choc-a-block full of fascinating things hanging from walls and the ceiling.

Waterloo Records: on North Lamar, this is the ultimate record store. An Austin institution.

6. To sleep…

Hotel San Jose: this is undeniable one of our favorite hotels in the USA. The epitome of understated cool. Polished concrete floors, music posters adorning the walls, an urban oasis. Ideally located on South Congress, this legendary Austin boutique hotel has a cute bar, pool, and lounge, and their very own coffee shop – Jo’s Coffee – next door.

Saint Cecilia: for something a little more fancy, check out the San Jose’s sister property - the Saint Cecilia.  A stunning, secluded estate just around the corner– tucked off the main drag, on manicured lawns, with a large swimming pool and gorgeous bar. Perfect for a big group or wedding party. You might find a piano in your suite, or a turntable, perhaps a real backyard.

7. To do…

Visit Barton Springs: a set of four natural hot water springs close to the city. Come here to seek respite from the often-scorching Texas heat. Cool off in the pool, or chill out under the trees. A great spot to cruise around on bikes.

Head to old-school bowling alley/karaoke bar/dance hall Highball for a nightcap and late-night round at the lanes (especially during their extended hours for SXSW).

Visit the original Wholefoods!! It might not be at the top of everyone’s list, but it certainly was for us! This is the Wholefoods mecca. The original. The best. Wine bar, vegan food bar, you name it – they have it. Our kind of heaven.

Out of town...

Roadtrip to Driftwood, Texas: home to the original and well-renowned Salt Lick BBQ – a BBQ fanatic’s paradise. This sprawling campus of BBQ has been smoking, searing and slow cooking meat over coals for years. Since 1967, in fact. A short, scenic drive from Austin, come here to experience a big, honking plate of some of the best of Texan bbq amongst rolling hills, beautiful oak trees and native flowers. It might take an hour to nab one of the picnic tables, but kick back and enjoy the live music and atmosphere with other BBQ enthusiasts. There is even an onsite vineyard producing some decent wines under the Salt Lick Cellars label. Given they attract 600,000 customers each year, we figure they must be doing something right.

Marfa: if you have time, hire a car and drive six hours west into the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas, to Marfa. An unlikely art oasis in a dusty desert town. If you can, wait until July so to catch some of the Marfa Film Festival action.

Stay here at El Cosmico: an awesome part vintage trailer, safari tent and teepee hotel and campground – come hang out under the stars with hippies, hipsters and artists – surrounded by high desert, art installations, an amphitheater and greenhouse. This place is something special.

Oakland

oakland [california].

[spotlight series. lauren geremia]

[oakland soundtrack. sara]

What Brooklyn is to New York City, Oakland is to San Francisco. Still gritty in parts, but rich in culture, diversity and history. Cheaper living and constant growth has made it appealing to many finding it hard to cope with crazy rents in the city. We only had a day to explore this side of the bridge, but we loved what we saw (thanks to some awesome local lowdown from friends in SF) and we found lots of fun things to share. There were also a bunch of other recos that we didnt manage to get to, but we decided to include them below in case you might have more time. We know we will back there soon. The Oakland seed has been planted, and we want to see it grow.

To caffeinate.

Blue Bottle: our favorite of all the Blue Bottles we have found so far. Housed in the old WC Morse building, there are more beautiful big windows here than you could possibly imagine. A light, bright and happy space - the coffee, as is always the case with Blue Bottle - will not disappoint.

Bicycle Coffee: there is nowhere to sit or hang out, but the coffee is good (in the less pretty/more industrial part of town).

To eat.

Bakesale Bettys: an Oakland institution. You come here for a fried chicken sandwich, and you come here bang on 11am (because they are only open from 11am-2pm, and they sell out everyday). Founded by a fellow Australian - Alison Barakat - these sandwiches mean business. A must when in Oakland.

Curbside Creamery: for ice cream in the Temescal Alley. Quality, artisanal scoops - both dairy and (amazing) cashew-based vegan.

Ramen shop: a purveyor of artistic, organic, and sustainable ramen. A must.

To shop.

Temescal Alley: a cute little alleyway filled with bright boutiques and friendly faces. A barbershop, a florist, clothing, jewelery, ice cream, and more. We especially like:

Ali Golden: beautiful airy dresses, and other goodies, all handmade locally. 

Crimson Hort: the most gorgeous plant store, for all things hoticultural.

Neigbor: a gorgeous home and garden shop with artisan and vintage pieces for home decor, gifts and interior design.

Cruise along Piedmont Avenue, check out these:

Good stock: for gifts and accessories.

Mercy vintage now: for awesome vintage and consignment. 

To do.

Book a tour of St George Spirits, a Gin Distillery - their bottles are stunning. Im obsessed.

AND MORE…

We ran out of time to check out these awesome recos (shout out to Timmy Crosland, Lauren Geremia, Ali Hall) - so if you go, let us know what you think! Need to get back there, stat…

Eat.

Pizzaiolo. For pizza, obviously. Awesome wood-fired pizza. A neighborhood favorite. Get there early.

Chez Panisse, Berkeley. Enough said. If you are lucky enough to get a table, that is.

Ippuku: Japanese Izakaya style dining bar.

Penrose: for dinner.

Boot and shoe service: busy pizzeria.

Brunch outside at the colorful, Doña Tomás.

Kronnerburger: seriously recommended.

Real Miss Ollies: for Caribbean soul food.

Donut dolly: the daughter of chez panisse pastry chef, Hannah Hoffman now applies the same Alice Water’s simple, thoughtful cooking policy to her doughnuts. Amazingly interesting flavors. 

Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar: for toast and coffee: great after a hike in Berkeley Hills.

Camino: a rustic Californian eatery, very photo-worthy (we hear).

Drink.

Starline Social: a very new and eclectic restaurant, bar, and performance space on the edge of Uptown Oakland. Opened in April 2015.

Prizefighter: cocktails and patio.

Cafe van Cleef: for craft cocktails.

Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon: a super old, circa-1883 bar featuring cocktails & draft brews. And patio.

Shop.

Erica Tanov (Berkeley): for soft, beautiful, clean and pure women’s wear and home wear collections.

Tokyo Fish Market (Berkeley): Japanese grocery store, also carrying many household items.

Atelier Dion: for small scale, custom ceramics.