If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for an undiscovered destination. Unearthing a gem that’s yet to be plastered all over my Instagram feed brings back that real sense of discovery that made me fall in love with travel in the first place.
Yes, everyone loves Palm Springs (guilty as charged!), but I have to admit sometimes it feels a little bit like a small desert enclave of L.A. rather than a getaway. I feel like I always run into someone I know — let’s just say the caftan curation has to be on fleek! — and that doesn’t really allow me to unwind.
When I first visited Scottsdale, I found all those dreamy desert vibes and quirky style I seek out in PS, plus an added bonus of a truly Southwestern twist. And, a place where I can just relax.
So when I was invited out by the folks at the tourism board to take a ditch day, revisiting some of my favorite spots and exploring some new ones, I jumped at the chance. What I’ll tell you is this: Scottsdale deserves so much more than a single day! I definitely recommend tacking on a day off in addition to your traditional weekend, giving yourself some time to truly enjoy the Sonoran style.
One thing you should know about me is that I’m a HUGE fan of the staycation. Much as I love exploring around the globe, there’s something wonderful about looking at your own city with the eyes of a traveler. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when some place as beautiful as Santa Monica is right in your backyard.
This beach city, which is just a hop skip and a jump away from LAX airport, has always been a favorite. Having grown up in L.A., I have fond memories of driving over to Ray’s for biscuits and gravy with my family, then heading over to the beach for a day of boogie boarding and soaking up the sunshine. (Remember the times where you could do load up on junk food and then jump into a bikini and not even think twice about it. Oh, to be a kid again!)
I got to tap into that same childlike sense of fun and wonder when I partnered up withSkyscanner this month to showcase some of my favorite parts of Santa Monica with my lovely friend (and fabulous travel writer!) Lacy Yamaoka, aka The Expate. We had such a blast wandering around SaMo that it’d be selfish NOT to share some of my top reasons to visit the city right now.
Santa Monica has it on lock when it comes to accommodation. One of my favorite places to stay is the Viceroy. You’re literally within earshot of the beach, which you can ride to on their complimentary stylish Linus beach cruisers. If you want a little bit of R&R, their poolside cabanas are the perfect spot to kick back, read a book, and enjoy a cocktail. It’s truly the best of all worlds.
You didn’t think I’d write about this and not mention the eats, did you? Santa Monica has heaps of incredible restaurants, and there’s truly something for everyone. One our Periscope adventure, Lacy and I had some incredible food, from craft beer and burgers at the darling Ashland Hill to oysters and rose at BP Oysterette. (Don’t worry, we threw a smoothie in there too. We went toKreation to start our day out on the right foot and then let the mayhem ensue from there.)
If you’re an outdoor junkie, the’s no place more ideal to stay than some SaMo. The second you set foot on Ocean Avenue, you’ll realize the entire city is basically one giant wellness center. People gather for hiking, walking, yoga, personal training, slack lining, and more, and down on the beach you can watch the folks on the rings try their hand at being circus performers. You can easily rent a Breeze Bike to enjoy by the minute to see the city, or just walk around and breathe in the fresh sea air. There’s nothing more invigorating.
Leave it to Santa Monica to build one of the most darling outdoor malls in the world. At Santa Monica Place, they even have a concierge that will send your bags to your hotel so that you can keep wandering or riding your bike around without schlepping your haul. How cool is that?
Tapping Into Your Inner Child
Lacy and I had such a blast going down to the historic Santa Monica Pier and riding the ferris wheel. I have to admit, as a local I sometimes poo poo touristy attractions, but the view from the top was absolutely spectacular, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone, locals or visitors alike.
You can check out a little video recap of our day on Periscope here.
Hope to see you in Santa Monica soon, and happy travels!
You guys! I’m so stoked. Uproxx just named me one of thetop travelers to follow on Snapchat. I’ve been totally loving using this medium as a way to share all my culinary adventures around the globe, from farmers market tours to behind-the-scenes looks at some of the world’s hottest hotel properties.
Thanks so much for giving me a follow! And be sure to let me know on Snap what you want to see more of.
Costa Rica is well known for its lush rainforests, epic surf spots, and three-toed sloths, but its food scene is also worthy of attention. Its rich culinary culture is strongly influenced by the dizzying array of fruits and veggies made possible by the same biodiversity and microclimates that make it a destination for nature lovers. The food scene there is definitely worth checking out — from epic farmers markets to high elevation coffee plantations and great street food.
You can check out my article at Travel + Leisure that goes along with the video here, which details all the dishes I recommend you try out when in Costa Rica.
Each month I write the Departures Magazine Dining Agenda, giving you the scoop on what’s shaking in food and beverage around the world. I’m talking everything from festivals to openings and chef shifts — all so you can stay in the know on what’s going on around the globe. Here’s what’s happening this December.
Turducken ramen is a thing, a very very delicious thing. It’s the ideal solution for Thanksgiving leftovers, or to make for a Friendsgiving feast. Check out the recipe that I developed in tandem with Justin Cucci and Mashable here.
Remember way back when I started that Dishlist column — you know, the handy dandy one that gave the rundown on the absolutely essential dishes you have to try in a given region, city, or country? Well, it’s baaaaaack! And now, in Travel + Leisure magazine!
I first started this series because as a food-focused traveler, I’m always looking for a list of must-trys before hitting the road, how to say the dishes’ names like a native, and where to find the best.
I started my first installation for T + L with none other than Tokyo, a city I fell in love with a few months ago on my first trip to Japan.
Characterized by an unrelenting attention to detail and the persistent pursuit of excellence, the megalopolis of Tokyo is known as one of the world’s best eating cities.
Last month I had the pleasure of traveling to Anguilla, a teensy Caribbean island located about 20 minutes north of St. Martin by boat. I flew down for the Festival Del Mar, a local celebration of everything the sea has to offer, from traditional Anguillan sailboat racing to bountiful seafood.
I tried everything from massive lobster and crayfish to cowfish, which looks a lot like puffer fish, but isn’t nearly as poisonous as fugu.
What were my favorite bites? Take a look to find out!
A while back I wrote about an old Indian health drink called shilajit that is regarded by Ayurvedic healers for its restorative properties. This resin pitch is made of humic substance, and it’s very rich in fulvic acid, which is created by the decomposition of plant material. Translation: you’re drinking really old, hardened compost. When the weather warms, the stuff oozes out of the ground — mainly in Himalayan mountains between India and Nepal — to be collected by its believers.
Which is all well and good, but let me tell you, the stuff tastes gnarly.
At The Springs, an adorable multipurpose restaurant, workspace and wellness spa in DTLA, they dilute a brand of shilajit called PurBlack with water and sell it in a 1 oz shot form with a lemon wedge chaser for $4. I couldn’t resist a taste when I heard the crazy story from one of the bartenders, and ended up writing about my experience sipping on the stuff for a story headlined “L.A’s Latest Bizarre Health Drink Tastes A Lot Like Bong Water.”
Apparently the ridiculous recounting grabbed the attention of NYT writer Brooks Barnes, who did a bang-up job of making me chuckle in his story about The Springs, which you can check out here.I can’t blame him for poking fun of L.A. in this story. I mean, much as I am obsessed with the design of The Springs, the place offers everything a caricature of a health crazed Angeleno would need: yoga, food, juice, music, and colonics, all under one roof.
So, tell me, have you tried shilajit? What’s the strangest thing you’ve done for the sake of health?
Holy mole, you guys! How the heck did it get to be April already? This is insane. As I sit here there are April showers pouring down outside my window, but from the looks of things, there are plenty of flowers on the horizon. And by flowers I mean a bevy of blossoming new restaurants and exciting food events.
I rounded up the world’s biggest food news for Departures in my monthly Dining Agenda column, which you can check out here.Some of my most anticipated openings are the super rad new magic show Upstairs at The Nomad called The Magician starring Dan White, and the stunning new SoHo House Istanbul, which includes two rooftop pools overlooking The Bosphorus. I’ll be heading to the show Upstairs later this month, and fingers crossed on trip to Turkey — still one of my bucket list destinations! (Do you blame me? Those markets tho!)