Archive for the ‘See America’ Category

The Barnes Hotel is Base to Discover San Francisco’s Hidden Gems

February 28, 2023

Discover San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood where hundreds of walls and fences are adorned with colorful and inspired works of art featuring themes ranging from cultural heritage to social-political statements © Karen Rubin/

San Francisco is loaded with hidden treasures, unknown gems, and unexpected attractions that only the locals know. The Barnes hotel at Union Square is an ideal base for exploring this vibrant city and discovering these treasures. The hotel has put together its tips to explore the city as only an insider could.

Tony Bennett crooned over this fog-cloaked city back in 1962, and more than 25 million visitors per year now leave their hearts in San Francisco too. While Pier 39, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz are some of San Francisco’s tried-and-true attractions, there are 49 square miles to explore, each with quirky nooks and colorful crannies. We can’t name them all (you’ll just have to return), but here are 10 secret spots that will have your heart flipping for the city by the bay. 

1.    Tin How Temple

Step back in time in the country’s oldest Chinatown where alleyways and streets are lined with dim sum joints, tea shops, and even a not-obvious Taoist temple, hidden on the third floor of a building at 125 Waverly Place. Dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu (known as Tin How in Cantonese), the temple’s wafts of burning incense hit you before you step inside the small but ornate red and gold room. This is a place of peace and contemplation, not a tourist attraction, so no pictures are allowed. But you can light incense, have your fortune read for a small donation, and relish the hidden-away serenity. 

2.    Mission Murals

Throughout the eclectic Mission neighborhood, hundreds of walls and fences are adorned with colorful and inspired works of art featuring themes ranging from cultural heritage to social-political statements. Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley, where, since 1992 more than 900 murals have been created, are good places to start. Go it alone or drop by Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, a community-based nonprofit striving to beautify urban environments. They offer guided informational tours of the murals. 

3.    Sutro Baths Ruins

At the convergence of Geary Boulevard and the Great Highway on the western edge of the city, vestiges of what was once the world’s largest indoor swimming facility remain. Built in 1894 by businessman Adolph Sutro, his eponymous bathhouse once housed seven pools that filled with 1.7 million gallons of Pacific Ocean water during high tide. With more than 500 dressing rooms, restaurants, and arcades enclosed by glass, Sutro Baths could hold more than 10,000 people. Sadly, it closed during the Great Depression, and eventually burned down in 1966. But the ruins still invite visitors to walk around and ponder the past while taking in gorgeous sea and sunset views.

4.    Musée Mécanique

Fun for every age is not a cliché at this museum that doubles as one of the world’s largest collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade artifacts. Housed in a warehouse behind Fisherman’s Wharf on Pier 45, more than 300-plus machines, from turn-of-the-century hand-cranked music boxes and antique slot machines to classic video games, are on display. Best of all, you can actually play with each of them. Before you leave, snap a selfie with iconic “Laffing Sal,” the admittedly nightmare-inducing animatronic doll, once a popular amusement park and carnival character. #creepy!

5.    Oracle Park 

It’s no secret San Francisco loves its sports teams, including the three-time World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, and their home field is a superb spot to take in a game or just walk around. Its position on the bay means home runs landing in the water are called “splash hits.” Bring your singing voice along and belt out “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” at the seventh inning stretch, Journey’s “Lights” in the eighth, and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” after the wins. No games on the schedule? No problem. Join a behind-the-scenes guided tour offered almost every day of the year, which makes several stops around the stadium, including the field, a luxury suite, and the dugout.

6.    Hopper’s Hands

A walk along Crissy Field to take that quintessential photo of the Golden Gate Bridge is a must. But don’t stop with just a picture. Keep walking toward the span until the trail ends. Hooked to the chain-link fence you’ll see a small sign with two big hands and the words, “Hoppers Hands.” Do as the locals do and high-five it before turning around. Ken Hopper was a retired ironworker who maintained the bridge fences, including the one at the adjacent, historic Fort Point. He noticed runners grabbing or touching it and came up with an idea for the welcoming sign. FYI: There is a set of paws, too.

7.    Colorful Stairways

San Francisco’s abundant hills are no secret, but how about its more than 600 stairways, some decorated with gorgeous mosaics? Up your daily step count by climbing a few, such as the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (Moraga Street, between 15th and 16th Avenues), a 163-stair kaleidoscope of sea, land, and sky. The 52 art deco-inspired Lincoln Park Steps (California Street and 33rd Avenue) are awash in hues of yellow, orange, rust, and green, while the Hidden Garden Stairs (16th Ave., between Kirkham and Lawton) have so many pretty flowers, butterflies, and leaves you’ll almost forget you’re climbing up 148 of them.

8.    The Wave Organ

With water on three sides of the city, celebrating the bay is part of life in San Francisco and this acoustic sculpture does just that. Located on a jetty in the boat harbor of the Marina district, the installation was created in 1986 by former Exploratorium artists-in-residence, Peter Richards and George Gonzalez. Twenty-five organ pipes made of PVC and concrete at various elevations let out eerie gurgles and burbles with every rise and fall of the tides as water is pushed and pulled through the tubes. The organ’s jetty was constructed with granite and marble from a demolished cemetery, which adds a spooky vibe to the otherworldly sounds. 

9.    Great Star Theater

For a one-of-a-kind night out, head to Chinatown’s last remaining theater, built in 1925, and completely renovated and reopened in 2021 by a local couple. Throughout the years, the 438-seat theater has hosted countless Chinese operas, including Lee Hoi-chuen, a Cantonese opera singer and the father of famed Bruce Lee, who spent time here as a kid watching his dad perform. These days the lineup of coming attractions is delightfully diverse and includes concerts, movies, dance troupes, magicians, cabaret, and more.  

10.  Sales Force Park

As far as urban parks go, San Francisco’s newest is an elevating experience, in more ways than one. Located on the roof of the Sales Force Transit Center, the 5.4-acre green space has become downtown’s favorite place to chill, thanks to a garden with 600 trees and 16,000 plants, benches, and 247 water jets that “dance” to the vibration made by the buses below. A half-mile loop trail curves around the permitter, and there’s even a children’s play area and amphitheater. The park is accessible via a free gondola cable car in Salesforce Plaza, on the corner of Mission and Fremont Streets.

11. Exploratorium

In April 2013, San Francisco’s popular Exploratorium packed up its 43-year history at the Palace of Fine Arts and moved to its modern new home on Pier 15, where young and old are invited to get touchy-feely with the more than 600 interactive exhibits spread over 330,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space. Whether you dance with your own shadow, touch a tornado, break light apart, capture a wave, or listen to a 27-foot-tall harp being strummed by the wind, curiosity for science, art, and human perception is never far from your fingertips. If you happen to be in town on a Thursday night, head over to Pier 15 for the adults-only (18+) Exploratorium After Dark, where you can still play with most of the exhibits, but with a drink in hand and a DJ vibe setting an only-in-SF scene. 

The historic San Francisco Union Square hotel, The Barnes is sophisticated and locally inspired Barnes was born of the spirit of San Francisco. It’s a place with charming global vibe and a local state of mind. A place where classic and contemporary meet, sleep and entertain in the heart of San Francisco culture. The Barnes, built inside a classic building at 225 Powell Street, is steps from the iconic San Francisco cable cars, nearby some of the city’s best shopping and surrounded by culinary excellence. Boasting a retro chic ambiance with an urban accent, The Barnes recently underwent room renovations to complement the hotel’s new name and vibe. Once inside, The Barnes Restaurant and Bar is a bustling social hub, where guests can enjoy a double espresso to kick start the day, meet over shareable appetizers, sip hand-crafted cocktails, or enjoy dinner with colleagues and friends. Menus feature local-artisanal ingredients and flavors unique to San Francisco. Locals are encouraged to make The Barnes Restaurant and Bar their go-to coffee and cocktail spot, social meeting location or post work happy hour bar. Rates start at $179. The Barnes is a pet friendly hotel. 

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Fall in Love With Central Coast California

February 28, 2023

Pinnacles National Park, on Central California Coast, is known for its rock climbing, stargazing, and hiking opportunities with over 30 miles of trails ranging from flat grasslands to uphill climbs through caves and to the iconic rocky spires.

There is so much to fall in love with along Central Coast California. Here are updates and specials:

Romantic Getaways

Couples can enjoy intimate getaways in California’s Central Coast wine region and its coastal towns. The Aphrodisiac Package at Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles offers a Tuscan-style experience, including a two-night stay, a vineyard tour and wine tasting, a couples massage, $500 food and beverage credit, and wine tastings at three wineries. Another option is a private fire pit experience at The Cliffs in Pismo Beach, complete with a dedicated server, bubbly, strawberries, and a S’mores Kit, all while taking in the views of the Pacific.                              

The Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara, California is offering a romantic getaway package that combines a mix of land, air, and sea experiences. The Mar Monte by Land, Air + Sea Package includes a private one-hour flight tour and three-hour wine tasting experience in downtown Santa Barbara in a luxurious limousine, complete with a cheese and charcuterie board and bottle of wine. During your stay, you’ll also enjoy three nights in a luxurious Deluxe Oceanview Suite, a romantic four-course dinner with wine pairings at the costa Kitchen & Bar, a private sunset charter on the Azure Seas Yacht, a private beach picnic with Santa Barbara Picnic Company & Café Lido, a dedicated concierge, a champagne welcome amenity, and daily breakfast by the pool at Café Lido.

The Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach in Oxnard, California, provides a romantic retreat for couples with their “You, Me and the Sea” package. Located just steps from the beach, the resort boasts a contemporary Spanish Hacienda-style design and offers all-suite accommodations, perfect for a romantic getaway. The package includes a bottle of Cava sparkling wine, house-made chocolate-covered strawberries, and a late checkout to ensure a relaxed stay. Enjoy dreamy sunsets, delicious food and drinks at Ox & Ocean, and immerse yourself in one of California’s most picturesque coastal destinations.

Milestones & Anniversaries

National Park Celebrations: 
  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Point Lobos State Marine Reserve are celebrating their 90th and 50th anniversaries respectively, marking their continued efforts to protect and preserve their diverse plant and animal species. The Natural Reserve joined the California State Parks system to preserve its over 300 plant species and more than 250 animal species, while the Marine Reserve’s Ecological Reserve designation protects its intertidal and subtidal flora and fauna. 
  • Pinnacles National Park, known for its rock climbing, stargazing, and hiking opportunities with over 30 miles of trails ranging from flat grasslands to uphill climbs through caves and to the iconic rocky spires celebrated its 10-year anniversary in June 2022.

New Experiences

The Auschwitz Exhibit is making its highly anticipated west coast debut in Simi Valley on March 24, 2023. This groundbreaking exhibition has been traveling the world since 2018 and Simi Valley is the only West Coast location for the entire year. The exhibit has received widespread recognition for its powerful and moving content, selling out at every location it has visited so far. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience this extraordinary exhibit, which brings the tragedy of Auschwitz to life in a deeply impactful way. Don’t miss your chance to see this moving tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

Big Sur Salts, the only sel gris harvester in the country, offers two ocean-side experiences for travelers. The Ocean to Table Experience takes visitors on a scenic drive down the coast of Big Sur to explore the formation of salt crystals. The Aqueous Yoga experience blends the serenity of the ocean with yoga, promoting well-being and skin rejuvenation through custom yoga pools filled with purified Big Sur salt water, set up either oceanside or in the scenic valley.

The Santa Ynez Valley is expanding its offerings to adventure-seekers with the new Highline Adventures. Situated on a sprawling 1,200-acre ranch near Buellton, California, Highline Adventures provides a special way to educate visitors on the local history, environment, and culture through a range of outdoor activities. Visitors can take part in the longest and fastest zipline in California, consisting of three tandem ziplines ranging from 1,300 to 3,360 feet long, soaring 1,000 feet above the stunning Santa Ynez Valley. In addition to the zipline, an aerial ropes course awaits with 85 challenging elements to climb, crawl, swing and hang from, surrounded by towering oak trees. Highline Adventures is the perfect addition to the already popular destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties, destination weddings and honeymoons.

Food & Beverage

A second location of Aabha Indian Monterey opened in December 2022. Located in the historic Duarte House, Aabha emphasizes classic Indian cuisine through a coastal California lens, and boasts over 100 hookah water pipes and 30 flavors.

A locally owned and family-run restaurant, Pismo Bites, opened its doors on February 1 in the heart of downtown Pismo Beach. This new establishment specializes in creative “beach grub,” serving dishes such as breakfast burritos with a twist, corn dogs with a special flair, and freshly squeezed lemonade. Although there is no website available, you can follow the restaurant on its Instagram page.

Taco lovers rejoice, as Oxnard introduces the updated Oxnard Taco Trail. Boasting a sizable Hispanic population, Oxnard is home to some of Southern California’s finest taquerias and taco trucks. Embark on a journey to find the ultimate taco and visit local restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and food trucks serving delicious street tacos, quesabirria tacos, seafood tacos, and more. With the free Oxnard Taco Trail mobile pass, you’ll receive exclusive discounts and the chance to win a “I Conquered the Oxnard Taco Trail” t-shirt!

Coming Soon: 

  • Ad Astra Bread Co. is set to open in the summer of 2023 in Monterey. This micro-bakery, specializing in natural leavened sourdough bread, is moving to a spacious 3,000 square-foot location with sidewalk tables for outdoor dining.
  • Heirloom Pizza Co. is set to open in March 2023 in Salinas. This restaurant specializes in both deep dish and thin crust pizzas and is located on the thriving Main Street. The Art Deco-designed building will also feature a live music venue, making it a go-to destination for pizza and entertainment.
  • Nicolás Cocina de Herencia, a new restaurant located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, is expected to open this winter. Chef and owner Susana Alvarez, who is known for her work at the popular Villa Azteca in Salinas, will bring her heritage to the table by serving specialty dishes from the Mexican state of Michoacán, incorporating recipes from three generations of her family. Get ready to indulge in a delicious culinary experience like no other!

New Hotels

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern – an Auberge Resort, one of California’s most highly anticipated hotel openings, has finally opened its doors to guests in early 2023 in Los Olivos. This historic property dates back to 1886, when it was a popular stagecoach stop, and has since gained a legendary reputation on the Central Coast. Today, the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern continues its rich history as the ultimate luxury destination in the Santa Ynez Valley, preserving its storied past and welcoming guests to experience a new chapter of timeless luxury and hospitality.

The Pacific Motel has a rich history, originally operating as one of Cayucos’ first inns. The property consists of 13 historic 1920s bungalows that underwent a complete renovation and rebranding in the fall of 2022. Despite the updates, the motel retains its classic motor lodge charm and continues to drive tourism to the iconic seaside city on the Central Coast. With its cozy atmosphere and convenient location just steps from the beach, guests can easily explore all that this beloved California beach town has to offer. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by blue-and-white-striped awnings and nostalgic amenities like Bluetooth-enabled Tivoli radios and fireplaces. Guests can enjoy the comfort of high-quality Parachute brand robes while snuggling up in front of the fire.

Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach, a new addition to the Curio Collection by Hilton, has recently opened in Oxnard after undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation. The resort is Southern California’s only all-suite oceanfront property and boasts a contemporary Spanish Hacienda style. With its prime location along the coast, Zachari Dunes offers guests the chance to experience one of California’s most quintessential destinations and indulge in luxurious all-suite accommodations. Guests can also enjoy stunning sunsets, delicious food and drinks at Ox & Ocean, the resort’s dining and cocktail destination.

Coming Soon:

  • Projected to open in early 2023, Hampton Inn & Suites (Marina) is perfect for the budget traveler. The 90-room hotel will offer a 1,200 sq. ft. meeting space, fitness room, guest laundry, a sundries shop, an indoor pool and an outdoor patio across 2 acres. 
  • The Home2 Suites by Hilton (Marina) is set to open in the late summer or early fall of 2023. This 93-room all-suite hotel, designed with families and pet-friendly guests in mind, offers the ideal accommodation for extended stays. Each room is equipped with a kitchenette, making it the perfect choice for travelers looking for a home away from home.

The Lompoc Valley Flower Festival is a hometown tradition that takes place over a magical, late-spring weekend from June 22nd to June 25th. Visitors can spend their time exploring the beautiful flower fields of Lompoc and enjoying three days of festivities, including a carnival, live music, food and vendor booths, a parade, and more. This festival celebrates the valley’s agricultural heritage and is the perfect way to spend an extended weekend with friends and family.

Pebble Beach makes history as it hosts the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in July 2023. From July 5th to 9th, the world’s best female golfers will compete for the highly coveted championship on Pebble Beach Golf Links.

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Greater Williamsburg, Virginia is Aglow With Holiday Experiences

November 16, 2021
From dazzling light events to festive concerts to seasonal celebrations of colonial history, Kingsmill Resort and Greater Williamsburg come alive during the holidays with the spirit of the season.

KINGSMILL RESORT, WILLIAMSBURG, VA, — From dazzling light events to festive concerts to seasonal celebrations of colonial history, Kingsmill Resort and Greater Williamsburg come alive during the holidays with the spirit of the season. The area is packed with special events. Here are holiday highlights:

So much festivity, so little time

Williamsburg’s only AAA Four Diamond Condominium Golf Resort, Kingsmill Resort, is offering guests a winter wonderland of activities during the month of December including Christmas eve and Christmas day horse and carriage rides, holiday mixology classes, breakfast and photos with Santa, glow golf, ugly sweater supper, gingerbread making competition, Christmas cookie decorating, wreath making, petting zoo, magic show, scavenger hunts, letters to Santa and lots more! The Christmas Tree lighting takes place December 1 at 6 p.m.

Have a Blast at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Be wowed by one of the largest Christmas light displays in North America with more than 8 million twinkling lights when Busch Gardens Christmas Town returns for select dates Nov. 12-Jan. 2. Pay a visit to Randolph and Santa, watch a holiday show, and enjoy festive food and drink to help you get into the spirit of the season.

Have a Christmas-Themed Walk

Need to walk into the Christmas season? Williamsburg Walking Tours offers its Christmas Past and Present Walking Tour Dec. 1-31. Stroll through the colonial streets of the historic area and learn how early Americans celebrated Christmas. Discover the sources of modern-day celebrations in Williamsburg and how a Christmas decoration sparked a battle on Duke of Gloucester Street between a rooster and a Dalmatian.

Enjoy a guided look at Colonial Williamsburg’s historic building exteriors and streets decked out in holiday splendor during the Dec. 1 Christmas Decorations Walking Tour. Learn about the materials and construction techniques of these traditional holiday decorations. 

Revel in the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting

Delight at the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 3, a tradition that began in 1945. The tree is a 20-foot artificial commercial Giant Everest Fir placed in Riverwalk Landing. Tap along to a performance by the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown at the Victory Monument, listen to festive music at Riverwalk Landing, follow the procession of lights through the historic village, and welcome the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Thrill to the Grand Illumination

Grab a blanket and pack a picnic basket or just a thermos, and head to Colonial Williamsburg for the Grand Illumination, the finest fireworks in Williamsburg. Special events take place over three weekends, Dec. 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19. On Friday evenings, join the new Procession of the Yule Log and enjoy holiday songs and stories on Market Square. Saturday evenings will include a dramatic presentation of an original holiday story, yuletide music, and a joyful appearance by Father Christmas, culminating in simultaneous Grand Illumination fireworks over the Governor’s Palace and Capitol building.

Enjoy Holiday Music

A seasonal tradition for the entire family, The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra presents its annual Holiday Pops Concert during the first Grand Illumination weekend, Dec. 4-5. Share in joyful holiday classics and beloved carols with family and friends at the Kimball Theatre.

Watch Lights Dancing on the River

Join in the 25th annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade on Dec. 4 at the Yorktown Waterfront. Start by caroling around the beach bonfire, listening to the Fifes & Drums of York Town, and sipping complimentary hot cider before the decorated motorboats, sailboats, and Chesapeake workboats begin their lighted parade on the York River as they compete for best in show.

March in a Parade

Bundle up to join the Williamsburg Christmas Parade on Dec. 4. For the first time, the parade, which kicks off the holiday season with themed floats, live performances, and of course Santa himself, will be held at night.

Munch Cookies with Santa

Bring the whole family to the Gallery at York Hall on Dec. 5 for Cookies with Santa — a complimentary event to make the season bright. After enjoying the refreshments, find unique Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers among the work of hundreds of local artists, including ornaments, paintings, quilts, pottery, and many other one-of-a-kind pieces.

Shop for Christmas Gifts

Looking for the perfect gift for a friend or family member? You’re sure to find it at the Christmas Market on Main Street, Dec. 4 and 5. This is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events every holiday season. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps to Christmas ornaments and wreaths. On Saturday, enjoy a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town, after which Santa Claus himself will greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day and an ice carver set up in front of York Hall on Sunday.

More Yorktown shopping opportunities await at Mistletoe Market on Dec. 11. Browse for chowders and soups; baked goods; jams, jellies, and honey; holiday wreaths; candles and soaps; and local seasonal art. March in the annual Toyland Parade and hop aboard the Riverwalk Landing Polar Express for a loop around the festivities. Marvel at a fascinating live demonstration by a professional ice carver set up in front of the Riverwalk Landing fountain.

Sing Carols of Yesteryear

Ring in the holidays on Dec. 16 with musicians Brian Forsman and Bill Weldon as they trace the roots of seasonal tunes and popular carols to the music that our ancestors sang and danced to in colonial times. During Now Christmas Comes!, sing along with carols from Christmases past before the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree on Market Square. 

Watch the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Tree Lighting

Gather in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 16 for the annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Listen to a special reading of The Night Before Christmas in front of the Courthouse steps and learn about the first Christmas tree in the United States. Sing along to classic Christmas carols and watch as the 40-foot spruce tree on Market Square is illuminated with 7,500 twinkling lights. 

Live an Authentic Colonial Christmas

Christmastide in Virginia returns Dec. 18-31 at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, offering a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through interpretative programs and demonstrations and period musical entertainment. At Jamestown Settlement, special programs will compare English Christmas customs of the time with how they were observed in the difficult early years of the first permanent English settlement. At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war. Observe open-hearth cooking and watch as period dishes are made in the farm kitchen. Interpreters will also demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast and decorating with greenery.

Immerse Yourself in Christmas Stories

Gather the entire family together for 12 Days and Night Before Christmas on Dec. 24 at the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg. Watch two classic Christmas stories come to life.

Participate in a 19th-Century Christmas

Spend an hour with the Colonial Singers for a re-creation of a 19th-Century Williamsburg Christmas in the “living room” of the famous Tucker family home in the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 26. Clad in beautiful 19th-century costumes, they share stories and songs centered around the Civil War, the college town of Williamsburg, circa 1850, and tales of Charles Dickens. Enjoy decorating the Tucker family Christmas tree.

Re-Live Four Centuries of Virginia Christmases

Enjoy early hymns, English songs of roast beef and revelry, Irish and Scots dance tunes, poetry, prose, and stories galore during Four Centuries of Virginia Christmases at the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 28. Sing, clap, toe-tap, and share the fun of beloved holiday traditions as veteran Williamsburg musicians Kelly Kennedy, David Gardner, Cliff Williams, and Doug Austin celebrate Christmases past in the Old Dominion. 

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Easing Back into the Big Easy And Reasons to Visit New Orleans this Summer

May 14, 2021
New Orleans French Quarter. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy New Orleans’ famed music outdoors (c) Karen Rubin/

There are many great reasons to plan a trip to New Orleans this summer or later. Here are some:

New hotels, including Four Seasons (opening mid-2021), Hotel Saint Vincent (opening ~June 1), Virgin Hotels New Orleans (opening late summer) as well as The Chloe (opened Oct. 2020) and Columns (opened Feb. 2021).

More ways to enjoy food and libations – safely – with friends, with breweries such as Miel and Zony Mash Beer Project offering ample outside seating with epic food trucks, pop-ups and live music. Many restaurants in the French Quarter offer courtyard dining for those looking to enjoy an elegant meal outdoors. Bonus: famed Galatoire’s Restaurant now takes reservations, meaning it’s easier than ever to snag a table and avoid long wait times.

New cultural attractions, including the Museum of Southern Jewish Experience opening May 27. Many favorites have reopened safely for visitors to enjoy with enhanced safety measures as a priority, such as Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Sazerac House, The National WWII Museum, New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. And the new Children’s Museum will reopen on May 29.

The return of beloved festivals including Hogs for the Cause (June 4-5), the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (June 9-13), Satchmo SummerFest (July 30-Aug. 1), Beignet Festival (Sept. 25), French Quarter Festival (Sept. 30-Oct. 3) and a once-in-a-lifetime fall Jazz Fest (Oct. 8-17).

Great, safe outdoor experiences, including picnicking in Audubon Park or City Park, biking, golfing, and plenty of opportunities to listen to live music, including Bacchanal (now taking reservations), Lounge Vue House and Gardens’ Twilight at Lounge Vue outdoor music series, The Soul Rebels at the Broadside Theater, Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruises, and much, much more.

More details and insights on what’s new, what’s open and what’s coming can be found on the New Orleans Insider’s Blog

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