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Sipping Your Way Through Napa Valley

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying a perfect weekend in Napa Valley, you’re missing out. 

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STAY AT A B&B OR DON’T STAY AT ALL

     A charming Bed & Breakfast will only amplify the quaintness of the whole experience. There are plenty of reasonably priced options available in the area. If you can sneak out on a Friday, it always makes for a better weekend if you can wake up at your B&B on Saturday morning.

ACTIVITIES GALORE!

     It’s hard to believe and potentially unnecessary, but there are plenty of great activities in Napa Valley that don’t involve wine tasting.

Oxbow Public Market: This lively market is perfectly nestled right against the Napa River. It’s full of plenty of vendors selling all sorts of fresh produce and also contains numerous restaurants. So this is a great place to grab a quick lunch.

The Silverado Trail: This beautiful trail just about runs the entire length of Napa Valley. It has amazing views and can be a perfect place to clear your head and get your calm on. And if you’re more of the active type, it’s great for biking!

Greenhaus Day Spa: What’s a weekend getaway without a trip to the spa? Greenhaus Day Spa in downtown Napa is widely considered the best spa in the area. Get the full treatment with a relaxing massage, a cleansing facial, and the all-important mani-pedi combo.

WINERIES ON WINERIES

     If we’re talking about Napa Valley, we’re talking about wine. There are plenty of amazing wineries and vineyards in Napa, but here are our personal favorites.

O’Brien Estate: This is one of the most popular wineries in all of Napa and actually requires booking your tasting in advance. Make sure you try the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pride Mountain Vineyards: This vineyard requires a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. The whole property covers about 235 acres and has gorgeous views in every direction. When it comes to wine, their claims to fame are their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot.

V. Sattui Winery: While the wine here is truly excellent, this spot is also great for a picnic lunch. You can grab everything you need in-house: the cheeses, the fresh bread, the antipasto spreads, and a nice bottle of wine and then grab one of the many picnic tables outside and take it all in.


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Destinations

This Is How to Find the Best Chinese Restaurant

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Did you know that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than there are McDonald’s franchises? That’s a testament to the popularity of this cuisine in the states.

Chinese food made its first appearance stateside way back in the mid-1800s. Both Americans and the Chinese rushed to the state’s west coast to capitalize on rumors of lucrative gold mining.

Nowadays, there’s plenty of Chinese places to choose from, but how can you find the most authentic flavor? Read our guide to finding the best Chinese restaurant and you’ll always have a great meal.

Location Matters

Just like in real estate, finding a great place to eat Chinese food comes down to location, location, location. Check out where the restaurant is located to get a good feel for what to expect.

If the restaurant is surrounded by big chains, it might be just another place serving American-style Chinese food. Look for areas near places with a local Chinese population.

Regional Specialties

Our next tip is still location-based but focusing on where the food is from. China is a diverse place and each region has their own local specialty.

Does your chosen restaurant have dishes from a specific area of China? If so, you’ve found a restaurant that cares about the quality of its food.

Family Style

In many Western restaurants, it’s typical for each person to have their own dish. You have to ask your dining companion if you can have a bite from their plate.

That isn’t the case with authentic Chinese cuisine. With Chinese food, family style is the usual way dishes are served, with everyone taking a bit from each plate.

Tea Tips

Take a look at how tea is served in the restaurant. That will give you a big hint as to how authentic the meal is.

Tea is usually served for free at authentic Chinese restaurants. It’s also poured out of metal pots instead of ceramic because they last longer and are easier to clean.

Other Tips and Tricks

There are other little hints, tips, and tricks to make sure you’ve found the best downtown restaurant for Chinese food. Here are a few more things to look out for:

  • They serve the entire fish, including the head
  • They advertise in local Chinese language publications
  • They have a Chinese-only menu
  • They have dim sum available
  • Their staff speaks Chinese

Don’t be afraid to look at what others are ordering and order it for yourself. Peek at other Chinese patrons’ plates or ask the staff what they would recommend.

Find the Best Chinese Restaurant

Don’t settle for less-than-authentic Chinese food any more. Use our guide to find the best Chinese restaurant in your town.

One of the best ways to learn about cultures different from your own is by trying their food. China has a rich and interesting history and each region has their own special dish so you’ll never run out of things to eat.

Once you’ve sampled the best regional fare from China, why not pay this amazing country a visit? Check out our travel guides and start planning your trip today!

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Destinations

Bed and Breakfast vs. Hotels

When choosing where to stay on vacation, you’ll notice bed and breakfasts popping up everywhere, so, what’s the deal? Bed and breakfasts are a great option in the increasingly overcrowded accommodations markets of tourist areas.   With the advent of popular shared economy websites like AirBnB and VRBO (Vacation rentals By Owner) bed and breakfasts are steadily increasing in popularity.

Personal preference comes into play when deciding which is the best selection for you. I’ll break down the differences into 6 main talking points and let you decide, where you stay: Bed & breakfasts (B&Bs) Versus Hotels.

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When choosing where to stay on vacation, you’ll notice bed and breakfasts popping up everywhere, so, what’s the deal? Bed and breakfasts are a great option in the increasingly overcrowded accommodations markets of tourist areas.   With the advent of popular shared economy websites like AirBnB and VRBO (Vacation rentals By Owner) bed and breakfasts are steadily increasing in popularity.

Personal preference comes into play when deciding which is the best selection for you. I’ll break down the differences into 6 main talking points and let you decide, where you stay: Bed & breakfasts (B&Bs) Versus Hotels.

 

Breakfast

Well, it’s in their name so bed and breakfasts should dominate this category. It’s often that B&Bs will provide delicious breakfast options that seem more personal. Many times hotels will just offer a continental breakfast, which you should never experience at a B&B. I can get my own stale muffin and cheap juice thank you, I’ll take the B&B breakfast any day. The advantage of a B&B is that they are often home cooked meals that are prepared with love and attention. These meals are included in your room rate and are great ways to start your day of site-seeing or adventure.

Advantage B&Bs

 

Options

Hotels usually offer more options than B&Bs because they are such larger entities overall. Hotel buffets can be massive and feed many more guests than the average B&B can even accommodate. Most B&Bs will usually just provide one or two choices for your meal because they deal in such low numbers.

Advantage Hotels

 

Privacy

Bed and breakfasts feel like you are literally staying in someone’s house, because often you are. People open up B&Bs to make an income or they just enjoy having guests, so many times your privacy is sacrificed for the intimate abodes. Hotels on the other hand offer tons of privacy and you can feel alone at times. If you are searching for privacy, than hotels are your choice.

Advantage Hotels

 

Local Feel

B&Bs give you a local experience and you get a better sense of the place you are visiting. The host usually lives on site so you can pick their brain about attractions and things to do. These are things you can get from a hotel’s concierge but that is such a formal interaction that you rarely feel anything but corporate from them.

Advantage B&Bs

 

Amenities

Hotels kill it when talking about amenities. B&Bs usually don’t offer too much other than a bed and breakfast, since they are pretty minimal. If you are looking for a pool, gym and other cool amenities, your best bet is a hotel.

Advantage Hotel

 

Socialization

Often times at a B&B you will eat with the other guests at a shared table type of experience. The decision on whether this is a pro or con is up to you. I enjoy meeting other travelers but I can totally understand if this kind of situation would make you uncomfortable. Hotels obviously don’t make you dine with other guests so if you like privacy, hotels are better. However, if you want a more personal experience and have the opportunity to make new friends, B&Bs are best.

You have to decide what is best for you so I can’t give an advantage to either.

 

Hopefully this little guide helps you decide which is best for you: Hotel or Bed and Breakfast.

 

Photos courtesy of B&Bs, breakfast, fredAdventures, W

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Food

Airlines With Food You Will Actually Want To Eat

The food on airplanes have always been less than appetizing, how good can a meal be made in the tiny kitchen area 36,000 feet in the sky. Tasteless, texture free foods served in plastic trays is what you expect to receive when your flight attendant…

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The food on airplanes have always been less than appetizing, how good can a meal be made in the tiny kitchen area 36,000 feet in the sky. Tasteless, texture free foods served in plastic trays is what you expect to receive when your flight attendant serves you. Well lower your tray tables and prepare to feast! If you book your next flight with one of these airlines you will be pleasantly surprised at the repast offered. While free food on flights are a thing of the past, many airlines are attempting to earn their customer’s loyalty with meals that are not only edible, but delicious. 

In 2014 Delta started offering regional craft brews on the in-flight beverage menu. Take a Delta One flight out of JKF airport and you will be served meals by culinary superstar Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, the food service behind NYC restaurants like Gramercy Tavern. Or fly Delta One from South America and you will enjoy a menu created by Michelle Bernstein, acclaimed for her Latin style fare. If you fly Delta in the economy class you will be served unlimited Starbucks coffee, and the only GMO-free snack box served on an American airline. 

JetBlue has partnered with chef Brad Farmerie to create a menu for their first class passengers, pursuing advanced technologies that deliver better moisture in aircraft ovens and a better understanding of taste and texture at higher altitudes. On domestic and international flights, JetBlue economy passengers are treated to an endless pantry of complimentary name brand snacks. 

Investing to become the airline of choice for international flyers, Emirates is working with chefs such as Jamie Bissonnette from Boston restaurant’s Toro and Coppa. Meals on Emirates flights will vary regionally, a flight to Japan will have meals served with authentic Japanese crockery, and on a flight to Italy meals served will include Italian favorites like ravioli and gnocchi. Economy passengers won’t enjoy the same meals as the more expensive seats, but the same attention is given to the meals designed for the menu served to the passengers in these seats. Between meals passengers can get slices of pizza, ice cream, chocolates and fruit. 

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