Visit San Diego Like a Tourist Part 2

Back again to share with you another day in San Diego and some fun ideas for your trip to the sunshine state. Today’s post is a day full of fun, experiencing Balboa Park which is definitely a tourist destination, and also includes a couple fun local favorites for food and drink. When visiting anywhere I love to not only see the normal tourist destinations but also check out some of the local’s favorite places. On my personal list always is 1) a local record store and 2) a speakeasy style bar.

A top spot on my list was Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is a 1200 urban cultural park with open space areas, museums, art museums, gardens, the Zoo, places to eat, theater and more! It truly is remarkable to look at it and really fun to walk around in. Historically it is also very incredible. Balboa was a spot for the 1915/16 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition. Named a protected park in 1835, Balboa is the oldest parks dedicated to public recreational use and is also on the register of historical places. If you get a chance to visit this place, take out a chunk of time to really walk around and explore.

Also, got to hang out with my best friend’s brother, who was an amazing tour guide and got me to ride my first scooter! I know, I live in DC with them everywhere and I’ve always been too afraid to try. It was a blast and I absolutely recommend it!

We had the chance to check out the Botanical Gardens that are located within Balboa Parks. And apparently it is one of the most photographed areas of the park. It was built for the 15-16 Exposition and is actually the largest of its type of structure, which apparently is called ‘lath’ which is the tiny slats like a trellis, that is usually hidden under plaster. You can see it in my pictures below.

The buildings themselves are also part of the art!

Visit the cool restaurant and bar inside the grounds as well. They make a mean old fashioned, and have really cool art within the green space inside as well. Balboa Park is a visual treat!

A must visit is Extraordinary Desserts located in the downtown area of San Diego. They have a more extensive menu at their Little Italy location versus the Bankers Hill location, but both has amazing and super fancy desserts. It was pure heaven!! Their Vietnamese coffee is also excellent as well.

A quick Lyft ride away is Record City. I love checking out record stores in general. They make me happy and its exciting to see what will be in them. This one was a gold mine and I found some great stuff and the prices were really reasonable. The store staff was great. I was a little bummed they didn’t have a listening station, but the place was really packed full. They will play a record on the store record player if you want to listen to something as well. They have a good mix of new records and old, and probably the most soundtracks I had ever seen.

This might be the perfect time to pick up some in and out if you’re hungry (although you might still not be hungry after your treat at Extraordinary Desserts). I always get as much In and Out as I can whenever I’m in California because I never know when I’ll be back. If In and Out isn’t you’re thing, maybe Poke is. So, you get in your car and head over to Good Time Poke. You walk in and instead of sitting to eat the friends you’re with keep walking and head towards the large freezer doors. You’re confused about what is happening but you roll with it because why not?! You open the freezer doors and walk through into the coolest Tiki Bar/Speakeasy that you can’t get into through any other way. You’ve made it to The Grass Skirt, where they mix Mezcal and Absinthe like its no big deal. They have a small outdoor (but secluded) and the inside has some surprises as well! Definitely super fun and something that should be on your list.

One place I never got to get to was the Gaslamp area! I heard they have some amazing speakeasy, weird and cool bars as well! But the Grass Skirt is super fun and their drinks are amazing!!

Do you have favorites in the Downtown Area or Pacific Beach? I’d love to hear them!

Check out my first Visit San Diego Post here!! And stay tuned; I have one more post about my time in California coming up!!

 

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Visit San Diego Like A Tourist: Part 1

Whenever I travel I have some goals and usually a plan or a list. Its my thing and most people think I’m crazy, but I like to go and see and do all of the things. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve gotten to do some traveling solo. You can read my article on Red Tricycle about why I feel EVERY mom should get the opportunity to solo travel. So, when I got the chance to visit San Diego solo I hit some of the best tourist spots, and a couple cool local spots and I wanted to share them with you.I’ll be sharing them in my Visit San Diego Like A Tourist series with some fun ideas for your days in San Diego!

Stop in the cute little North Park area of SD and visit the “Greetings from San Diego” mural, which strangely enough is in a gas station parking lot facing an alley. North Park is full of murals so have fun! After visiting the “Greetings” mural I learned a few really neat things about it. The mural is part of the Greetings Tour, started by artist Victor Ving and Photographer Lisa Beggs. They have been traveling since 2015 across the country painting vintage postcard-style murals, helping to revitalize communities and bring bright colors and happiness to cities across the country! They have completed 41 murals in 20 different states. The one in San Diego was the very first. There’s a few on this side of the country that I hope to track down soon.

There are some really cute neighborhoods all around San Diego. We chose to visit North Park, which you know is San Diego’s pre-imminent hipster town because there’s a restaurant called Son of a Toast, specializing in all things avocado toast. I mean, need I say more. Check out Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, home of quality beans that are roasted on site, Nitro on tap and homemade syrups, like vanilla bean. Perhaps my favorite thing in North Park was this book store. Stop for breakfast on the edge of North Park, at The Misson (you can see the North Park sign from the front porch seating). Their breakfast burrito and mexican mocha is yum! North Park embraces this very vintage California vibe, and everything about this books store says that. Finding a good used book store and local coffee is always on the top of my list when traveling anywhere, and North Park nailed it. I wish I had had more time to really walk the streets and eat all the food.

 

Head over to Coronado to get the classic San Diego Beach experience. The Hotel Del has been in music videos and was the place were EVERYONE who was anyone in vintage Hollywood went. Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Taft and Wilson were hosted by the hotel, and by the 1930s the Prohibition era really was its first hayday with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Mae West, Bette Davis and more making it their beach playground. Even up to present day it has been a spot for celebrities and politicians to visit including every President since John F. Kennedy. You can also find it in the movie Some Like It Hot.

Then end your night at when Goose and Maverick sang their heart outs and lost that lovin’ feeling, at Kansas City BBQ of course! Some of the best pulled pork and bbq sauce I’ve had! You’ll have fun taking in the movie memorabilia, and military challenge coins, patches and photos.

 

Then close out your day with a treat at the famous Yogurt Mill. Bring your cash (because that’s all they take) and your yogurt know how, because you want to order your yogurt “Child Size Dropped”. Don’t ask questions just do it!  Tip your scooper well – each window has a designated scooper with their own tip jar. It’s yum yum guys!

San Diego has so much to see, touristy and local favs! Everyone has places they love and want to recommend. I’m excited to share a few places with you in this little series.

 

 

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Ten Places to Eat and Drink in Sacramento, CA

Its my hometown, its where I lived the first twenty-one years of my life. Its not exactly a tourist destination, especially when you have Lake Tahoe and San Francisco so close. Growing up, and especially in High school and college I wouldn’t say there was a lot of places to hang out. Going downtown wasn’t the easiest thing to do and the nightlife in the burbs wasn’t great. There’s a lot of cool stuff downtown and it wasn’t as bad to go downtown as I remember.  So, on the off change you get to make the trek through the State Capital I put together a list of some of my favorite places to eat, drink and be merry in Sacramento {a little bit of the burbs and a little bit of the city!}. You just might learn to love this little slice of the Sunshine State, where the weather is mild almost 365 days a year, there’s not a ton of fog, you never really feel the earthquakes and you are two hours to the mountains or the beach!

Hook and Ladder ~ 1630 S St, Sacramento, CA 95811

The name Hook and Ladder pays homage to Sacramento’s history and the Hook and Ladder brigade that worked hard to same Sacramento during the 1850s, and a series of fires that almost destroyed the city. Combine that with Sac Town’s rough start when it came to flooding, she’s a tough city. H&L embraces the city with his historic building, and its menu full of local breweries, winery’s, ranches and farms. The outdoor patio is so nice to sit on, or you can opt for the twinkle lights and soft pinks inside. Ether one is a fantastic vibe. If you go you have to get the Chicken AND the drink for two, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Pineapple. Yummy! But H&L is more than a place to eat! They have a cocktail academy which a friend of mine says is pretty cool. So check that out on their website as well. Visiting Hook & Ladder is a wonderful window into the direction that Sacramento has taken with their dining options, focusing on a very local and farm to table vibe. You’ll find that, and more, here!

 

The Shady Lady Saloon ~1409 R St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Be advised that the tables are for those eating only, and it can get quite busy! But its a place to you should hit when visiting Sacramento. There’s a reason Esquire Magazine named it one of the top 25 bars in America. Its got a really cool vibe, full speakeasy feeling, but no need for special knocks or secret passwords. The ceiling was my favorite part of the decor, but I’m a sucker for a good tin ceiling. Also, the cocktail list is pretty cool. A plethora of uniquely titled drinks like the Galaxy’s Edge and The Flying Dutchman, with fresh ingredients that one has to try “for science”. Your dapperly dressed, or Victorian-inspired, bartenders can also whip up anything you want if you describe what you like (like my adorable mom who almost never drinks). It is in a great part of town, with cool murals and other bars to choose from, a perfect addition to a your night out list. You can also get brunch here, although with lunch and dinner, plus they have evenings with live music! It’s a unique little place.

 

Rick’s Dessert Diner ~ 2401 J St, Sacramento, CA 95816

Another on the list of “Must See Sacramento” is Rick’s Dessert Diner. Serving the best desserts in Sacramento since 1986, Rick’s Is THE place to go! All of the dessert are made fresh daily, and my mom and I fought over the last piece of lemon meringue. There WILL be a line and what you think you might want might be gone when you get up to the front, but you’ll have plenty of time to check out the case as you wait. My advice to you is ride the wave and please be kind to those behind the counter. I couldn’t believe how much grief and sassiness they were given. I thanked them and they were really appreciative. What do people expect with a place to busy? But think Seinfeld Soup Nazi. Don’t hold the line up with your indecisiveness…however at Rick’s they’ll serve it to you even if you can’t decide. Rick’s has indoor and outdoor seating and a great cup of diner coffee! I had one of the best Key Lime Pie slices I’ve ever had. You will definitely enjoy your visit.

If you love Rick’s that much and you happen to live locally, Rick’s also does specialty cakes and Wedding cakes!!

The Original Mel’s Diner {Home of American Graffiti}

From its origins in San Francisco in 1947, Mel’s is an American Classic. Mel’s is also a bit famous for having appeared in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and the tv show Alice, but most familiar is its feature in American Graffiti! You can now visit Mel’s in 22 locations in Northern California and Nevada.

While Mel’s isn’t something super fancy, it has its nostalgic and old Hollywood feel, a really good Cherry coke with the syrup in it and not flavoring, and a yummy loaded french fry. Their breakfast all day is top notch and Mel’s has been feeding me and my friends since high school. Many an after prom/dance was had at Mel’s and there are so many good memories. Bring the quarters for the juke box and enjoy the memorabilia and fun neon.

Carmelita’s ~ 4071 Howard St, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Nestled on the outskirts of Old Town Fair Oaks is Carmelita’s, a Sacramento area staple since 1962. The second location, the one in Old Fair Oaks, was opened in the late 1980s and they are still serving Mexican food right from Grandma Carmelita’s recipes. It’s yummy, authentic and with something for everyone. They have a great enchilada, and tostada, which is my favorite. And the bar makes a super yummy margarita. It’s always busy, and you may have to wait, but trust me its worth it! After you eat, or before, spend some time walking the streets of sweet old town Fair Oaks, my true hometown, that has a sweet place in my heart. Keep your eyes out for the chickens and roosters because there will be plenty. They’ve been living there for my whole life AND my dad’s! Yes, second generation Old Fair Oaks!!! Its in my blood.

In and Out

If you’ve never been to the West Coast – or Texas – then you’ve never had In N Out, but you’ve probably heard of it. You probably have heard the debates – Five Guys, In N Out, WhatAburger. Depending on where you’re from the debate can get pretty heated. I’ve had them all, and currently am living without my beloved In-N-Out, but whenever I go home, or travel anywhere near one you can be sure I’m paying SEVERAL visits. I like my fries extra crispy and my burger plain. You really can’t beat the price, the simplicity of the menu and the fact that you can taste the freshness in their never frozen products. Its good stuff, I love it, and you really can’t convince me otherwise. In 15 days I had it seven times! It’s been two years since I’ve had it and it will likely be a little while since I’ll have it again, but to you In N Out I’ll always be true, no matter what side of the US I’m living on.

Bar 101 – 101 Main St, Roseville, CA 95678

Local bar in the older part of Roseville. It has live music and tons of seating inside and out. We opted for the pool table, which there is only one. Great servers and the live cover band was stellar! Its a chill, everybody knows your name type of feel. And if Bar 101 isn’t your cup of tea don’t worry, you’ve actually arrived in some sort of positive Bermuda triangle, because every awesome bar in Roseville just happense to be on this one corner so have a good night bar hopping!

 

Punch Bowl Social

For a more one stop shop, younger group, check out Punch Bowl Social. We visited the one located in Downtown Sacramento near the newly renovated Capitol One Center, Punch Bowl Social is literally serving up Punch Bowl’s of drinks for you and your friends. Full bar, open seating, full menu. You can also venture off into some more quieter areas for eating that are separate from the louder bar AND you can go bowling on several mini-lanes and rent the pool table for an hour or two. They also have board games, a huge connect four and a scrabble you play with giant magnets on the wall. Its a really fun place for spending the evening relaxing with friends without having to change locations. We had a ton of fun. If you aren’t in Sacramento check out Punch Bowl’s website because they lots of locations in 13 states including several in Texas, California, Ohio and Wisconsin! See if there’s on near you!!

Other favorite bars – Player’s Club – if you love Billards check out player’s club. No frills, good drinks and tons of pool tables. Check the locations, because there two! The smaller one up on Fair Oaks Blvd (9729 Fair Oaks Blvd)has like 10 tables, plus darts and ski ball! Its alot of fun.

Sully’s Bar & Grill – 4451 Pacific St, Rocklin, CA 95677 – Located in an out of the way area of Rocklin is Sully’s. Another no-frills bar with great service, a handful of pool tables, darts, modern day juke box music and indoor/outdoor seating.

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11 {More} Things To Do in Houston, Texas

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park – 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

Built in 1983, the Hines Waterwall is a 64-foot-semi-circular fountain that re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute! Yup, you read that right – PER MINUTE! It is really cool and experiencing the rush of the water and just how loud it is is something you just have to check out for yourself. Until 2008 the wall was actually privately owned but it has become such a part of the Uptown community of Houston that the Mayor purchased it and the little over 2.5 acre park area surrounding it. There is a parking garage across the way where the public can park for a small fee.

Eleanor Tinsley Park – 18-3600 Allen Pkwy, Houston, TX 77019

I didn’t realize how large Eleanor Tinsley Park was until I was looking up how to get there. Someone had told me that this was the place to get one of the best skyline views of the city. They were so right and I enjoyed hanging out and getting a look at the city that I have grown to really love. The park is actually just a small section of the Buffalo Bayou Park and features a Volleyball court, a skate park, art installations, performance areas, the Houston Police Officer’s Memorial, a really well-used and love running trail – and is the host of the Art Car Parade and the 4th of July Celebration, “Freedom Over Texas”. Other than a section of Glenwood Cemetary (which I learned is actually a part of Eleanor Tinsely) This spot where I took this picture is one of the best views of the entire skyline.

McGovern Centennial Gardens (Hermann Park) – 1500 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004

The McGovern Centennial Gardens are a portion of Hermann Park in the Museum District of Houston. It houses a really cool Japanese garden, as well as a waterfall, which is quite the popular senior portarait place. They have a sculpture walk that includes the busts of many famous Texans and Houstonians, and they grow many native flowers and herbs here as well. There is lots of seating within the park and shady areas to eat lunch or take a break from the busy city bustle right outside of the gates.

Houston Love Mural

This mural is actually one of six murals that line the 1300 Block of McKinney Blvd, just down from Discovery Green. They are super fun and really colorful! Combine your love of Houston and a love a murals and take a picture with these babies while you’re downtown.

Discovery Green – 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010

I was so excited to meet up with my fellow Instagram, Houston-loving pal, Spacey Casey in Discovery Green! We got a behind-the-scenes personalized tour of the just over 11 1/2 acre park area outside of the Houston Convention Center. Originally a parking lot, when the area was left to the city the people of Houston were asked what they wanted here, and overwhelming the choice was to create some sort of outside space that could unify the city and bring together all of the best parts of Houston. This of course certainly included food and art. There are so many amazing art installations in the park, a small lake, which becomes an ice skating rink, and outdoor music venue and beautiful walking paths. There are playgrounds and splash pads, all designed with children in mind. They have done an outstanding job of creating a space where people can come an sit in the quiet, eat, play and be active, all right downtown.

Sig’s Lagoon (Record Store) – 3622 Main St ste e, Houston, TX 77002

Straying into the more unusual part of this list, I had to include Sig’s on this list only because it is a really cool spot in Houston. I had to restrain myself and only left with four records, leaving about ten more behind that I wanted. If you’re looking for something I’d be willing to be Sig’s has it. It is one of the neatest record stores I’ve been in and has quite the comprehensive collection. Prices are really on point as well. No gouging going on here as I’ve seen in other stores.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – 1150 Brand Ln, Stafford, TX 77477

This came across my Instagram feed one day and I knew that I had to add to my Houston Bucket List. It is really very neat and the carvings are intricate and gorgeous. It is a peaceful place to visit and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is a traditional Hindu temple built by a denomination of a branch of Hinduism. The gardens are peaceful and quiet, and it is really great place if you want a calming stroll and just listen to nature around you. It is open all year around to everyone, from all walks of life and faith, but it is a sacred place and visitors should adhere to the rules. For more information about visiting the Temple visit the website here.

The Orange Show/Smither’s Park

It’s not really a saying, but after visiting these two weird Houston spots the saying “Stay Weird Houston” could definitely be a thing. High on my list of things I just didn’t have time for the first time around is The Orange Show and Smither’s Park. The story of the Orange Show is just as strange as the Orange Show itself. It was created by a Houston mail carrier, dedicated to his favorite fruit, the Orange. For almost 30 years Mr. McKissack used recycled materials and every day building materials he came across to create this maze of a building. Its a trip for sure, but has become a beloved quirk of the city. After Mr. McKissack died a foundation was created to preserve the area, which included Houston’s own ZZ Top. The rest is history. The foundation also helps preserve the Beer Can House which I visited last time, as well as the park next door, Smither’s Park, which is equally as strange and cool as The Orange Show. While I visited I even got to see some of preservation and work that goes into maintaining these amazing mosaic art pieces. Check it out next time you’re in town, and especially with the kids!!

                                                     

Terminal Museum – 8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061

If its vintage in any way you can usually count me in, add a very 1940s, feel and you can absolutely count me in. The Houston Terminal Museum, while not expansive or super fancy, is still a really neat piece of Houston history. But its more than that, its a place to learn a lot about the history of airlines and air travel in general. I learned so much about the different companies and how they started, as well as several that I had never even heard of! And of course the stewardess fashion was top notch! The Terminal, which is located on the Houston Hobby Airport, is the first terminal built in Houston for leisure travel. It was used for flight until the late 50s, and was almost demolished in the 70s. Thankfull it was saved and we have the small, but pretty cool, Terminal Museum.

Terminal Museum 1

8th Wonder Brewery – 2202 Dallas St, Houston, TX 77003

Where can you go to get some good beer, hear some music and see all the things that you think of when you think of Houston Instagram? Why 8th Wonder Brewery! Check out the super cool Beatles statutes that are insanely tall, the We Love Houston sign, and Welcome to Brewston mural. From the name you know it is an actual Brewery and they have year-round brews, as well as special seasonal brews. Come and see what food trucks are on rotation and take a tour of the brewery, or distillery..yup, they also distill their own vodka and gin!

Rice University and Sky Space – Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, Houston, TX 77005

As a fan of architecture I had to make sure to stop by the beautiful Rice University while I was in town this time. Rice University is a private Research University that opened in 1912, and the beautiful architecture reflect that. It is really beautiful and feels like an old university.  If you go in the evening you can hop on over to the James Turrell Sky Space and view the light show. There is a LED light show, that that takes place and projects through an aperture in the ceiling. It somehow works with the sky’s natural light and occurs during sunrise and sunset. I’m going to be completely honest with you and say that I have absolutely no idea how it does what it does…..or really what exactly it is doing, but it is really neat. Take as seat and relax because it is a very calming time.

If you can believe it, I still haven’t crossed all the things off my Houston list. It’s a long one and I intend to eventually cross them all off. So stay tuned for that! But in the mean time, check out some other Houston posts!

Houston Coffee

Houston Eats

10 Things You Must Do

Visit Houston with CityPass

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Visit Houston – The Renzi, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

I was so excited to have the opportunity to visit the Renzi on my trip to Houston. The Renzi is a part of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston collection and is a house museum in the River Oaks neighborhood. The home was donated by Houston philanthropists Carroll and Harris Masterson and full of amazing 17th-19th art, furniture and dishes. It is an absolutely incredible home with incredible grounds as well. The home is kept very much as it was when the Masterson’s lived there, incorporating many items belonging to the Mastersons, with some items brought in that fit with the time periods. The entire house is just gorgeous and interesting, but some of my favorite parts were the library and the ballroom – yeah, you read that right…a ballroom. Complete with family crest inlaid into the floor. No big deal! The Mastersons also spent some time producing Broadway plays, because when you have a lot of money and time why not right?!

Visiting the Renzi is different than your typical museum. Due to the nature of the collection, it is done by reservation and docent-led tours only. There are six tours available Wednesday through Saturday, and four slots on Sundays. The gardens, however, are open for self-guided tours every day, and those are free. Renzi also provides a military discount and kids 12 and under are free! This puts it at a very affordable option in the Houston area.

But for locals, would really recommend looking for one of Renzi’s special events. There are several options throughout the year including Twilight Tours in May, Family Days, Opera and Symphony performances, sketching and art times and focused tours. After you check out the Renzi, make sure to look for the other house museum in Houston, Bayou Bend, which focuses on American Art.

 

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