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Hotel reviews and travel tips

Happy 2014: Time to Plan for Spring and Summer Trips

HomeMar14-1.jpgNow as we are into 2014, we need a perk to shake off the winter doldrums. On a recent trip to Filoli Center in Woodside, I was amazed to see a riot of blooms that were making their debut early due to the California drought. If you have not been there this season, head over there now! My little nephew Tyler gloried himself in the color phenomenon that has made Filoli one of the most beloved flower gardens this side of the Mississippi.

Things are new, new, new as we dive into this year. One of the newest adventures I want to point out is my review of the Ford Fusion Energi Titanium . It is an excellent hybrid that gives you 43 miles per gallon on gas and 100 mpg when combined with the electric motor. Great for two people on a weekend, I spun down to Ojai near Santa Barbara, and it handled excellently.

foodie-Mar14-4.jpgAnd while I was driving to Ojai, our busy contributor Donna Corwin was flying to Italy to check out the scene for families. The travel scene, she stresses, is great, so please read her observatiosn in Florence for Families  in this issue.  And just as Donna found Florence an exciting place for food, we also have an amazing food scene here in the Bay Area. Do visit our review of La Condesa Mexican restaurant  in St. Helena in this issue. The sliders you see in this photo are a sampling of what's on the delicious kids' menu.

We love local finds, and in this issue, we give you the Secrets of Pacifica , a city south of San Francisco.  Check out this town for a quick day trip with the kids or a weekend getaway where you can hike, ride bikes, or simply enjoy the beach. A kite in one hand and a lemonade in the other describes a perfect day, don't you agree?  

And while the Bay Area is abundant with tech innovation, food innovation is just as prolific. See our coverage of the recent West Coast Fancy Food Show, and you'll be introduced to scads of new organic and gluten free and healthy snack products. We cleared the way to show you what's hot for travel snacks in 2014! See our New Products  section to get in on the backstage secrets! 

And this is why travel memories are important to create. Whether it is making a southern California visit to see Mickey or flying around the world to Cappadocia in Turkey  (see our columnist Joyce Kiefer's latest article), travels are always worth the time and money.  In due time, you and your kids will be able to look back on interesting food discoveries, funny people, astounding views, and super trails that you encountered together.

Speaking of trails, I would like to share with you my first hike on the famed Appalachian Trail where I hiked McAfee's Knob in Roanoke,Virginia. Folks, there is definitely a reason why they call this area the home of the Blue Ridge VirginiaNov13-5.jpgMountains. The layers of mountains are a surreal blue as far as the eye can see.  Check out this article, and maybe you will want to hoof the A.T. as well.

And while I was in Virginia, writer Peter Meade literally hit the trail via horseback in Arizona. There, he visited the family-run dude ranch of Tanque Verde, which offers an all-inclusive package. Read his review of his stay in Tanque Verde Ranch: Where History & Horses Meet Education & Eating.

ElSalvadorNov13-1.jpgMy friend Lin Low is never to be outdone when it comes to travel. This year she flew to El Salvador to find out the latest places to go in this country in Central America.  Read her point of view regarding El Salvador: The Hidden Adventure Gem.

For those of us on Bay Area soil, we are starting to get chilly.  What better way to find an escape from the cold than to visit a spa? In our latest Parent Getaways column, I review the Immersion Spa , a hybrid American/Korean spa with authentic Korean treatments and practices in Palo Alto.  You will want to visit, and you will love it, I promise.  

If you want to get away, however, look up our Deals  section where we highlight several properties guaranteed to make you smile with great prices and great locations. We also cover the remodeled Napa Valley Inn in a review in Parent Getaways. This an affordable choice for a weekend blitz during the holidays. And we also reviewed the new Wydown Hotel  based in St. Helena. You will love it!

While the rest of the Bay Area is settling into the new year, look now into booking trips for the winter shoulder season where you can find excellent deals on plane fares and hotels and resorts. Be smart and read us often.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope to hear of your wonderful travels in 2014!

Kathy Chin Leong.
Executive Editor


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