Blog Archives

You’ll Never Want to Leave: Hilton Union Square, San Francisco

It seems like everyone thinks about romance in February, but once Valentine’s Day passes, romance gets short shrift. One way to celebrate romantic memories all year long is to re-visit places that have a special meaning for you, that have played a starring role in your life together, and that makes you smile when you think about past visits. For us, that destination is San Francisco, California. San Francisco was the first place we vacationed in when we were dating. We spent some time there on our honeymoon. We’ve flown there for baseball games, conferences, getaway weekends, and other special events. We “get” San Francisco because San Francisco “gets” us. For a celebratory getaway, we wanted to stay downtown in the Union Square area – it’s the area of the city where we stayed on our first visit – and […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Pantai Inn, La Jolla

For much of the northern hemisphere, January is winter and with it, the cold – often brutally cold – rain, snow, and ice. January is also the time when, no matter where you live, people make plans for the new year. Whether it’s finding enough motivation to stick to resolutions, making a commitment to new habits, or re-setting your business or personal goals, January is a great time to burrow in. That’s what we did at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California, and we didn’t want to leave. This is the first of a year of monthly themed features talking about places we’ve stayed and never wanted to leave. This post, and the ones to follow each month, may contain affiliate links, sponsored travel, or paid product placement. We’ve hand-picked these destinations and products because we like them and we […]

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Weekend Guide: Getaway to Langley, Washington

This weekend guide for your getaway to Langley, Washington, will help you plan your getaway, complete with where to stay, what to eat and drink, and what to do. Located on the south end of Whidbey Island overlooking the Saratoga Passage, Langley’s community of just over 1,000 people entice visitors with small town hospitality. With charming inns and cottages, seven wineries in the area, and a stunning natural environment, Langley is a perfect getaway destination for wine tasting, great food, and outdoor activity. This weekend guide to a getaway to Langley was written with the assistance and sponsorship of Whidbey Camano Tourism (their website is here) and its members. This guide contains affiliate links; clicking through for more information or to make a purchase may result in a small fee coming my way to help support the site. Getting There […]

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Tips for Planning Your Universal Orlando Vacation

I thought I was a pro when it came to visiting Universal Orlando. After all, I’d been to Halloween Horror Night last year and had been to Universal Hollywood just a few months ago. But with the ever-evolving attractions, hotels and restaurants, and now a waterpark, it sometimes feels like I’m at a brand new destination every time I go. That means my strategies and tips for visiting Universal Orlando Resort are evolving, too. Here are my tips for maximizing the fun, while minimizing vacation stress, when planning your Universal Orlando vacation. Select Your Dates to Visit Universal Orlando I’m a big fan of shoulder and off-season travel as it often means fewer people and better prices. Mid-September through October is probably my favorite time to visit – the weather is warm but not stifling and the crowds are manageable. If you’re […]

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Getaway to Nara, Japan

Nara, located in the Kansai region of Japan, was formerly known as Heijo and in 710 was established as Japan’s first permanent capital. The capital was moved in 784, in large part due to the growing power and ambition of the many Buddhist monasteries located there. The historical treasures of the area remain, however, including some of the oldest and largest temples in Japan. Like most other cities in Japan, there is folklore around the name of Nara. A variety of theories exist, but the most widely accepted one says that the name came from words and phrases that meant “flat land” or “gentle slope” which described the area’s topography. Today Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture and is an active center of both government and commerce. Like Awaji, It makes an easy getaway destination from Kyoto and […]

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Fall Travel Getaway Guide: Providence, Rhode Island

Fall is a wonderful time to plan a getaway. It’s shoulder, or value season, in many destination, and that usually means fewer people, better availability, and lower prices, while the weather is still reasonably good. Another day exploring Providence. A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on May 4, 2016 at 7:04am PDT It’s easy to think of Providence, Rhode Island, as just part of the massive Boston area, but it deserves consideration in its own right. This capital city is one of the oldest in the United States, and its own special flavors and culture. With a population of under 200,000, it is a big (not huge) city, yet still keeps a small town heart. Here’s my guide to a fall getaway in Providence. While some of these recommendations are good all year round, some are quintessentially fall. […]

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Getaway to Universal Studios Hollywood

Heading to Universal Studios Hollywood during summer vacation was a frightening idea. The crowds, the lines, the mass of humanity crowded together pushing and shoving! But summer was the only time I could schedule a getaway to celebrate the 13th birthday for a family member. I set out to find a way to make it work both for the new teenager and for me. Here’s what I did as well as tips and recommendations for your own trip. Note:  This article was written in collaboration with Expedia.com who asked me to share my personal getaway guide to Universal Studios.  Choosing Your Dates Summer is vacation time, so there are a lot more people at Universal, and my top recommendation for timing is to go off-season, during the week while kids are in school, and to avoid weekends and holiday seasons. That […]

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Weekend Getaway: Gig Harbor, Washington

The Pacific Northwest town of Gig Harbor, Washington, is located across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma and is about a 45-minute drive from Sea-Tac Airport. The town has taken its rich history of commercial fishing and boat building and turned its downtown area into a historic waterfront community that attracts visitors with its galleries, parks, public and private docks and marinas, shopping, and dining. It is also one of the many small towns that promote itself as the gateway to Olympic Peninsula. It’s easy to think of Gig Harbor as a summer destination, and it is a great one, but don’t overlook the value that can be found in the shoulder or offseason. Fall is a beautiful time in the area, sunny and crisp days, but the rainy season means fewer people and lower prices. Things to Do Enjoy a […]

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Getaway to Awaji Island

Whether Japan’s Kansai region is your primary destination, or an add-on while visiting the rest of the country, planning for a getaway to Awaji Island rates high on my recommendation list. Folklore says that Awaji Island is the birthplace of Japan, created when the gods Izanagi and Izanami mixed up the sea with a spear. When they lifted the spear, a small drop of brine fell off the blade, hardening on top of the waves. That hardened drop became Awaji Island. Things to Do Take a boat trip through the Naruta Whirlpools – The Inland Seto Sea meets the Kii Channel  in the Naruta Straits, creating dramatic whirlpools the likes of which are seen in only a couple of other places in the world (Sicily and Vancouver, British Columbia). The whirlpools can reach a diameter of 65 feet. You can […]

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