Archives for category: California

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San Diego may be the eighth largest city in the country, but walkable pockets like Little Italy make it feel cozy and manageable. My mood guides my appetite, and most times I’m in the mood for strong coffee and sweet and savory foods prepared with no-fuss and quality ingredients. I’m also into the sort of places where you can linger as long as you like, and Little Italy is bursting with these establishments.

In the years that I’ve either worked and/or played Downtown, here’s my most-frequented eat and drink list in Little Italy:

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The advantage of living in southern California is that a weekend escape feels like somewhere completely different. From San Diego, I could be in the mountains to the East, in Mexico’s buzzy Valle de Guadalupe sipping on wine, or eating my way through Los Angeles to the North in a few hours more or less.

At Joshua Tree National Park, two hours from Los Angeles or San Diego by car, desert vibes are in reach too.

To get there, head East on I-8 toward Palm Springs and take CA-62 toward the high desert.

There are several entrances to the park, which requires an entrance pass for purchase at any of the visitor centers.

Accommodations vary, from your standard Holiday Inn, to camping in the park and a spectrum of basic to desert chic Airbnbs. We stayed two nights in a charming red casita (an Airbnb – rent it here) near one of the park’s three entrances, meaning we were conveniently located less than 20 minutes from the park.

We traveled to Joshua Tree in June, or the beginning of the area’s off-season. Though, with an estimated 3 million visitors predicted for the area this year, Joshua Tree is on track to becoming a year-round destination–despite the heat that hammers down on you by 9am.

Due to rising summer temps, the park ranger at the visitor center counseled against the four-mile hike I bookmarked. Instead, he recommended a number of shorter nature walks to complete before the afternoon became too brutal. Had we visited in the fall or winter, I’d be inclined to book at least three nights in Joshua Tree to complete longer hikes, or to even camp one night (max, because I’m high maintenance like that) in the park.

Below are some photos from the weekend:

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(Cholla Cactus Garden, late afternoon)

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(Part of our Airbnb in Joshua Tree)

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(Sunrise breakfast at our Airbnb in Joshua Tree)

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(Corned beef and hash brunch at Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree)

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Waikiki beach from an ocean-front room at The Modern Honolulu

Back in San Diego from: Honolulu

I’m recently back from Honolulu where I did a lot of observing and listening to locals in preparation for an upcoming story. Growing up on Kaua’i, Honolulu meant the land of Ala Moana (shopping mecca), stopping in at Liliha Bakery for Coco Puffs or Bubbie’s for mochi ice cream and whirling through an array of high school gymnasiums and musical performance venues as part of my high school extracurriculars.

Now, viewing the city as an adult and through the lens of a visitor looking to participate in local culture beyond Waikiki, and thanks to this recent writing assignment, I have concluded that Honolulu is one of the most interesting, dynamic and multi-cultural American cities right now.

For example, the food–to locals, food has always been a central component of Hawaii’s social fabric, but these days it seems the shift to strengthen the farmer/chef relationship and a growing demand for local, organic produce is reviving and reshaping palates and providing economic opportunity.

I noticed this type of collaboration across industries, from the entertainment scene to the fashion world. I’m really excited for this piece to publish because I think many will come away from the article with a completely different notion of what Hawaii is about, and how cool Honolulu can really be, if you only took the time to do your research. In researching this article, I certainly did.

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Golden Hour in Waikiki from Azure restaurant at The Royal Hawaiian

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Kalua pork everything please, like these Spring Rolls at Hideout on Kuhio Ave.

REI photoshoot

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