Tagged tourism

Moonstone Beach, Cambria roadtrip travel

San Francisco Weekend Getaway to Cambria

Written by Meaghan Clark

Anyone who has visited a small coastal California city will likely feel an odd sense of nostalgia when visiting Cambria – narrow streets lined with locally owned antique shops, a sprinkling of ‘for lease’ signs, and a hodgepodge of restaurants offering up everything from Mexican to Italian.

Though bite-size, Cambria is the perfect counterpart to any hectic city lifestyle. Don’t worry about packing the latest fashion trends for your evening outing, making an endless stream of reservations, or book excursion after excursion. Cambria’s appeal is the anti-city where long afternoons spent watching 5,000-pound elephant seals or strolling along Moonstone Beach make you forget about “FOMO” (at least for the weekend).

El Colibri Boutique Hotel, Cambria
Image courtesy El Colibri Boutique Hotel

We escaped for a getaway that began at El Colibri Hotel, a contrast of sorts from the traditional beach motels or bed & breakfasts that line Main Street. Despite its youth (the hotel opened in 2010), El Colibri delivers comfort with in-room fireplaces, a luxurious spa complete with Jacuzzi tub, and educated staff that make it feel right at home in this rustic town.

WHERE TO EAT

Linn’s

Quintessentially small town appeal is the bread and butter at Linn’s, or rather the olallieberry at Linn’s. This mogul family owns much of the West Side in the shape of various restaurants, gift shops and packaged goods. Linn’s Easy as Pie, Linn’s Restaurant and Linn’s Fruit Bin are all equally comfortable in setting as they are hearty in country samplings. As cliché as it might seem, no one here will bat an eye – order up an olallieberry pie, warmed, or a breakfast pastry to savor the sweet local flavors of Cambria.

Indigo Moon, Cambria fine dining, best restaurant

Indigo Moon

For any San Franciscan, finding an outdoor space is an anomaly, In Cambria, Main Street is lined with patio after patio, but Indigo Moon isn’t just packed because of its tree-lined deck and star-filled views. The food or is equally as spectacular for both lunch and dinner (plus weekend brunch), with hearty portions and favorable pricing. Highlights from brunch included the eggs benedict, grilled chicken, brie and apple sandwich, and spice rubbed wild salmon salad.

Robin’s Restaurant

Robin’s is the Ritz Carlton of Cambria. Precocious (but not too pricey), Robin’s Restaurant offers unique cuisine in a fantastic setting. A landscaped deck offers prime outdoor seating for brunch, lunch, and dinner and the eclectic menu caters to every taste bud in your party. Don’t be concerned about sharing a pasta special, Thai noodles or a curry alongside artisan cheese plates or spring rolls – the flavor combinations are always on point.

WHAT TO DO

Upon arrival, kick off your shoes and take advantage of your proximity to Moonstone Beach Boardwalk where locals typically enjoy sunset. The rocky beach is breezy and warm, and the perfect welcome to your Cambria stay.

Image courtesy Hearst Castle
Image courtesy Hearst Castle

Cambria often gets overlooked. Its seaside neighbor, San Simeon, boasts one of the world’s largest estates in the States. Hearst Castle is a short drive away and well worth the visit. Book your tickets for a Sunday morning Grand Rooms Tour (extend your stay with a Cottages & Kitchen Tour) and forget the crowds or lines.

As your bus tour winds down the road back to ground level, keep an eye out for Piedras Blancas Light Station, your next destination. Reserve a tour and escape into history alongside the rocky shores.

While you’re in San Simeon, stop at the vistas to view the elephant seals where, depending on the season, hundreds or thousands of elephant seals bask in the warm sand and sunshine of W R Hearst Memorial State Beach.

Nitt Witt Ridge, Cambria tourist attractions

If you’re ready for an unusual encounter that’s been marked as a historical landmark, escape to the Nitt Witt Ridge a collectors obsessed-turned museum that offers daily tours. After your experience, sample the day’s tastings from local brewery Cambria Beer Co. (open daily).

WHERE TO SHOP

Cambria shopping, Garden Shed

Garden Shed is an oasis within walking distance of downtown, offering an eclectic collection from local artisans. With DIY in their blood, everything in the 6,000 sq. ft. indoor/outdoor space is appealing in their unique displays, friendly faces and original collections. Peruse for the afternoon, or if you’ve got a green thumb and ample outdoor space, find something for the garden.

Wineries are ingrained in any city dweller escape, and Cambria offers a great selection of local vineyards offering weekend tastings on State Route 46.

Stolo winery Cambria wine tasting

Local favorite is Stolo Family Vineyards, located just off the beaten path. The Stolo family lives on the property where their 94-point Syrah was created, as well as refreshing and ceremoniously scrumptious Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. The $8 tasting fee is a steal compared to any Napa getaway, and bottles ranging from $25 to $50 are a must, as they can’t be purchased anywhere else.

Thank you again to El Colibri Hotel for hosting us and Archer and Hound for setting up our destinations. Feel free to check out more things to do at Visit Cambria.  

Hello Betty Fish House Celebrates a Great Year of Amazing Food

By Andrea Verdin

I love birthday parties. There’s something great about celebrating achievements that have occurred throughout the year, and the Hello Betty Fish House celebrated all of its accomplishments at its birthday in style: Beats ~ Boards ~ Bites ~ Brews.

As a part of the beautiful Oceanside landscape, Hello Betty Fish House is more than just an adorable restaurant — some serious eats can be had here.

While the downstairs restaurant features more formal dining options, such as whole fried fish, Betty linguine, and a whole seafood boil, I was instantly drawn to the upstairs patio. This patio has a great view of the Oceanside Pier, and guests can sit back in the open air deck, grab a drink, eat some tacos, and watch the sun set.

Fabulous crab cake sliders
Fabulous crab cake sliders
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Shrimp skewers
Shrimp skewers
Chips and smoky salsa served in campechanas
Chips and smoky salsa served in campechanas
Caramel Panna Cotta
Caramel Panna Cotta
Mexican Brownie
Mexican Brownie
Chicarones
Chicarones
IMG_2787
Oyster shucking presentation
Oyster shucking presentation
The set is gorgeous
The set is gorgeous
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Oysters freshly shucked by Executive Chef Nick Schultz
Oysters freshly shucked by Executive Chef Nick Schultz
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The Open Air Deck of Hello Betty Fish House
The Open Air Deck of Hello Betty Fish House
Smoked Octopus
Smoked Octopus
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If you ever get a chance to head to Hello Betty Fish House after work, I highly recommend coming on an empty stomach and gorge on tacos. eat the calamari, eat avocados, and devour the mahi mahi.

For more information on Hello Betty Fish House, head to their website.

Zambia jeep safari with Wild Planet Adventures

Experience Extraordinary Zambia Safari Tours with Wild Planet Adventures

by Andrea Verdin

It’s time to plan your summer getaway, so the Wander team has begun to look at ways to get the most out of your vacation. We’ve been looking both at international and domestic travel, small weekend getaways and elaborate international excursions.

If you’re the type who loves diverse travel, looking for a chance to see exotic wildlife and stay in the middle of nature, then see Zambia – Africa’s Hidden Safari Gem – with Wild Planet Adventures.

zebras

The safari season in Zambia is year-round, but the best wildlife viewing is from July through October, so you want to make sure that you plan with this in mind. Because African safari travel is such a popular getaway, it may be hard to choose a travel company to plan a safari with. However, Zambia safari tours are a head and shoulders above all others for several reasons.

Wild Planet Adventures founder Josh Cohen explained that Zambia is one of Africa’s least visited countries, and since his company specializes in intimate encounters with exotic wildlife, this was a perfect option for his guests.

“Guests have the ability to see unusual animals and their behaviors that might not always be seen,” explained Cohen.

The reason Zambia safari tours are markedly different from other African safaris is the lack of tourism and jeep congestion.  With less than 860,000 annual visitors compared to South Africa’s 9.5 million, Zambia ranks among the least visited African countries.

canoe safari

“Unlike East African countries where it’s common to find up to 50 vehicles chasing a lion, Zambia boasts remote sectors where guests are unlikely to see other vehicles,” said Cohen, who explained that his Zambian tours do not require his guests to be in caged busses. “Safari-goers still enjoy 360 degree views from open jeeps instead of being crowded into nine-passenger mini-vans.”

Without numerous vehicles surrounding the same animals, there is no risk that animals will lose their ‘wild’ instincts.

“Wild Planet Adventures goes to great lengths to preserve the authentic safari experience by combining truly isolated and remote locations with master guides who exemplify tracking as an art form, so travelers see authentic ‘wild’ animal behavior while minimizing adaptation,” Cohen said.

lion at shumba camp

In addition, guests can choose to combine tours, so they can experience walking, jeep, and canoe safaris. This allows for a broader experience of animal exposure.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Cohen. “Once we saw a herd of elephants surround their matriarch while she gave birth. On our canoes, we enter watering holes where herds of elephants and hippos just walk across, right in front of us. When these factors come together, you get a superior experience.”

shumba camp

Of course, just because you are in the middle of the safari doesn’t mean that you have to stay in an uncomfortable tent on a lumpy cot.

“Zambia has the same high end camps that other African tour camps have,” said Cohen. “Overall, Africa has high standards for its guests.”
There are a lot of safari travel options for guests to choose from when planning Zambia Safari Tours, with options for every budget.
For detailed tour itineraries on all of Wild Planet Adventures wildlife eco-tours and safaris, call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, visit http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/ or contact trips@wildplanetadventures.com.

 

WPA Zambia from Wild Planet Adventures on Vimeo.

Volunteer Tourism

Volunteerism: For Those Looking to Travel and Give Back

As a luxury and travel website, Wander magazine wants to take a moment to remind readers that you can visit exotic parts of the world doing one of the greatest things in the world – giving back to those in need through volunteerism.

We are all for traveling on luxurious, fun trips, but volunteerism, a blend of overseas traveling and volunteering, has begun one of the most popular ways to give back. Essentially, you become the charity you donate to. You are the action, the change in the world. You get to see your time and money make an impact immediately, while working with others looking for the same adventure you are.

From Australia to South America, there are plenty of places for you to reach out and make a positive impact, while traveling to a beautiful, exotic part of the world that you might not have seen otherwise.

To help us get a better glimpse of volunteerism, the Wander team has reached out to some international volunteer programs that are looking for an adventurer with a heart to serve others.

International Student Volunteers: Two Week Volunteerism Trips

Ranked as one of the Top Ten Volunteer Organizations” by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, International Student Volunteers (ISV) offers two-week volunteer placements in teams in numerous countries around the world such as Costa Rica, Thailand, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Australia and New Zealand.

ISV courtesy photo
ISV courtesy photo

ISV has sent over 30,000 students around the world, even giving academic credit to students for their hard work.

This isn’t just a vacation that students take during their spring break. According to Narelle Webber, the ISV International Program Director, ISV partners with local non-profit, voluntary citizens’ groups in each host country to set up safe, meaningful, sustainable and life-changing volunteer projects with achievable goals that benefit the environment and local people.

ISV courtesy photo
ISV courtesy photo

Volunteers with ISV could very well be providing water and sanitation, building or maintaining community facilities, or helping teach children about health, environment, and English language.

For those who are more passionate about helping in an environmental aspect, ISV has environmental projects involving long-term scientific research in tropical rainforests and endangered species, animal care and sanctuary maintenance, and habitat restoration.

“Volunteers have done everything from monitoring dolphin behaviour, tagging and collecting data on sea turtles, to planting thousands of native trees in incredible locations,” said Webber. “Our mission is ‘to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.’”

ISV courtesy photo
ISV courtesy photo

While most participants are university students, ISV doesn’t require only students volunteer, nor do volunteers have to specifically trained in special fields. Volunteers can be as young as 15, and although ISV has a few projects that require students to be studying certain things like veterinary science or medicine/health, ISV provides all the training needed and ensures that tasks are appropriate for volunteer’s skill level.

The ISV adventure tours are jam-packed with cultural and eco-adventure activities, so that after two weeks of working hard, volunteers can explore their host country and experience its diversity in an ethically responsible way.

“ISV tour leaders challenge and motivate students to push outside their comfort zones while having fun,” explains Webber.

ISV programs operate between May and September, and November and February each year. Applications are open now for each upcoming season.  For more information, check out their website.

Projects Abroad – Spring Break Spent Preserving the Earth

If you’re looking to make an impact on the environment, Projects Abroad is playing an important role in contributing to the preservation of the earth. With ten Conservation & Environment projects on four continents, Projects Abroad is making great strides in conservation work and promoting environmental awareness in communities around the world, with the help of dedicated volunteers.

Founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study, students were originally sent to Romania to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad currently has projects in 29 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States. The benefit of volunteering with this non-profit is the fact that you can find nearly any type of service that you would enjoy.

Projects Abroad Courtesy Photo

For instance, animal and nature lovers can join Projects Abroad to protect the Amazon Rainforest by running the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in Peru, which has partnered with Projects Abroad since 2001. The reserve has an animal rescue shelter, which after six years, has seen birth of a howler money and the release of a rescued anteater into the reserve. The rescue center at Taricaya is leading the way in animal rescue in the Amazon and has been officially appointed the first Animal Release Center in this part of South America. Over 40 different species in all have already been released back into their natural habitats, including a jaguar, a puma, and two tapirs.

Those driven to teach can head to Costa Rica, where Projects Abroad is collaborating with three schools to demonstrate environmental awareness and teach sustainable development. Projects Abroad volunteers assist with education, training, and the building of ecological strategies that will aid the social development of these three communities in an innovative and sustainable way. For the next year, volunteers will be working on bio-gardens, recycling separation centers, recycling containers, and a butterfly/hummingbird garden for each school, plus educational resources to run environmental awareness projects.

For ultimate adventure lovers, Projects Abroad has a brand new program in Fiji: shark conservation. So far, over two-hundred volunteers have worked hard on scientific shark research, mangrove reforestation, recycling, and shark education initiatives. Last month, volunteers giving an educational talk at a multi-cultural school had the privilege to be joined by Ian Campbell, the Program Manager for the World Wildlife Foundation’s Global Shark Program. Campbell described the day as “inspiring” and also said that the project is “possibly the most important shark project in the world.”

Projects Abroad courtesy photo

According to Christian Clark, the US Deputy Director for Projects Abroad, volunteers aged 16 and over are welcome, but even 4-year-olds are welcome with parents who consider family volunteer options.

“We actually just had an 87 year old join us,” said Clark. “It is our philosophy that anyone willing to help out should be able to volunteer. We do have some programs for specific demographics as well, including our High School Specials for teens, Global Gap for gap years, Alternative Spring Break Trips for university students, and Projects for Professionals for skilled volunteers.

For more information about Conservation & Environment projects, please visit www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/conservation-and-environment.

Cross Cultural Solutions: An Open-Ended Opportunity to Serve

Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) boasts a hefty amount of places for you to volunteer. With programs around the world, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India (Dharamsala and New Delhi), Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania (Bagamoyo and Kilimanjaro), and Thailand, volunteers have nearly endless options on where to lend a helping hand.

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According to Danielle Key, CCS program specialist and three-time Brazil Volunteer, those interested in CCS can not only choose where they want to volunteer, but also get to choose the start date that works best with their schedule, along with how many weeks they would like to participate for.

“We offer start dates year round and our programs are generally available from 1 to 12 weeks in length with some longer term options to include gap year programs,” said Key. “Our volunteers work in partnership with local people on sustainable community initiatives within the areas of education, social services, and public health.”

CCS attracts those who are people-to-people oriented, and are looking for a strong emphasis on the opportunity for cultural exchange. Volunteers can do anything from teaching English, care-taking for elderly community members, improving the quality of care for individuals with disabilities, to supporting individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.

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As an added element for volunteers, CCS offers cultural and learning activities throughout their program such as in-depth orientation, discussions on social issues, insight into cultural norms, language assistance, guest speakers, and special events.

“These activities will help you to learn more about the culture in which you are working, so that you can immerse yourself more fully into the experience,” said Key. “Free time is also a component of the overall program design. Weekends and evenings are your personal time to absorb the program and/or possibly do some ‘adventure travel’ on the side, whether independently or with new friends.”
For more visual information on the CCS programs, check out CCS’s Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/crossculturalsolutions/.

For a greater idea of what it’s like to volunteer with CCS, check out this video.

Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk, NY opens for its third season

Writte by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Joe Termini

As a child of the west coast, I never got to experience summer or sleep-away camp. I remember watching movies or TV shows as a child and wondering why my parents never sent me away to spend weeks on a river or in a forest, sleeping in bug-ridden cabins, and having meals in a chow hall.

Inside the lobby at Ruschmeyer's
Inside the lobby at Ruschmeyer’s

Lucky for me, I can still experience a summer-camp atmosphere as an adult at the likes of Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk, NY. Entering into their third season, the summer cabin-inspired Ruschmeyer’s opened its doors on May 22nd, just in time for Memorial Day.

Ruschmeyers-GuestroomEach guestroom pays homage to summer camps found in the area and come equipped with a hammock in each room, wicker headboards, Moroccan rugs, flat screen TVs, rad lifestyle magazines and local reads, John Masters Organics bathroom amenities, vegan soaps, and Frette linens, among others. (If you’ve ever slept in Frette sheets, you know how vital this amenity truly is.)

If you are staying at Ruschmeyer’s with friends, go for the Lucky 13 suite features a full bedroom, adjoining full bathroom and living room with convertible daybed, and an outdoor charcoal grill.

Ruschmeyers-Montauk-Bikes
Take a ride on one of the Ruschmeyer’s beach cruisers
Play cowboys and Indians, or stargaze from the teepees in the garden at Ruschmeyer's
Play cowboys and Indians, or stargaze from the teepees in the Magic Garden at Ruschmeyer’s

Spanning three acres, the recently-renovated hotel features cabin-inspired guestrooms that encircle the central lawn known as The Magic Garden. There you’ll find ping-pong tables, BBQ grills, and teepees. (How cool is that?!) Need to get some energy out? Rent a bike, go paddleboarding, get your yoga on, or try your luck during Bingo Thursdays. (Seriously, sign me up already.) The hotel also features a rotating series of musicians, theater troupes and artists in residence.

Battle it out on Ruschmeyer's Ping-Pong tables
Battle it out on Ruschmeyer’s Ping-Pong tables

Need to sweat off those extra calories? Starting mid-June, Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Adam Rosante, will offer The People’s Bootcamp every Saturday morning. The 45-minute, high intensity workout is a great way to sweat, get some sun, and check out your fellow hotel goers in short shorts and tank tops. No ellipticals or free weights necessary; this workout only uses your body weight as resistance. Don’t forget to drop by the breakfast nook for a fresh-pressed juice or snack to finish out your morning.

Inside Ruschmeyer's Restaurant and Bar
Inside Ruschmeyer’s Restaurant and Bar

The hotel has just announced that they are teaming up with Matt Kliegman, Carlos Quirarte and Melia Marden of the The Smile in Manhattan to run Ruschmeyer’s on site restaurant with current Executive Chef, Brian Loiacono. The new menu will feature fresh and local seafood and produce, which will perfectly pair with the restaurant’s handcrafted cocktails and  comprehensive, sustainable and organic wine list. Grab a seat at the mid-century modern restaurant or belly up to the breakfast nook for a communal snack to start the day.

Ruschmeyer’s isn’t like your average summer destination hotel. Reggae Sundays is new this season and kicked off with a charity function on May 26th with Beastie Boys’ Mike D and Creative Director, Robert McKinley, to raise funds for Waves for Water and The Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck. Find yourself spending a Monday at Ruschmeyer’s? Starting June 17, guests can enjoy the evening in the Magic Garden with popcorn and a classic Montauk-centric film during Movie Mondays.

Need some comedic relief throughout the summer? A Night of Comedy with Seth Herzog will take place July 3rd, 17th, 31st and August 14th in the Electric Eel, the hotel’s must-see place for dancing and cocktails.

Ruschmeyer’s 19 guestrooms are filling up quickly and just like traditional summer camp for kids, the season closes out at the end of this August — make your reservation ASAP. For more information, check out their website here.