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I lived in South Florida for years and spent a lot of time in Miami. My favorite time of year was August and September when all the tourists were gone, the ocean was warm and the afternoon rains would come. I recently spent a week in Miami Beach catching up on those old feelings and seeing what’s new.
You don’t have to be a member to stay at Soho Beach House and I highly recommend it as a retreat away from the craziness of South Beach a bit further down the road. Two fab pools, yummy food that can be served pool or beach side, and large beautiful rooms. Love a room that comes set up with a complete bar for entertaining and a shower the size of a small New York apartment.
The James and SLS hotels are newer on Collins Ave and are in the center of it all. Try The Raleigh or the Delano for South Beach old school style. I would often see Madonna here in the eighties hosting dinner at the long table in the Delano lobby or swimming in that famous Raleigh pool.
Tablecloths and fancy china aren’t of much interest to me these days as I prefer to keep it simple, delicious and always with a local flavor. Erela is a black bean connoisseur and gives a thumb’s up rating system for the best of the beach.
Puerto Sagua got two thumbs up for their black beans and rice and I love the very local crowd and diner feel of the place. Another winner is Havana 1957. On the bustling corner of Washington and Lincoln Road, this always busy Cuban eatery has indoor and outdoor relaxed seating and great garlic sautéed shrimp.
If it’s Italian you are craving, head to Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House where you can dine al fresco in a garden on the beach. If you have that convertible rental and want to venture across the causeway, absolutely try Mandolin in Miami’s oh-so-hot design district. My eagle eyes spotted this hip outdoor restaurant with delicious Greek eats while driving to another restaurant and we promptly made a U-turn. Good call.
I’m not interested in doing much more than sitting seaside with several great books lined up on my iPad and the occasional dip in the water. I could easily park myself on a chaise under an umbrella from dawn till dusk with the occasional early morning beach walk (before it gets too hot). If it’s a weekend trip to escape a brutal New York winter, then I’m not even renting a car and I’m using Miami Beach’s bike share program (Deco Bike) to get around.
Savor eternal summer with our Stephanie Johnson Miami Collection in Orange, Hot Pink and Lemon Yellow. A nod to the neon lights of South Beach: these transparent cases, while basic, are anything but boring!
Hey there – it’s Sarah, Stephanie’s P.R. girl and the editor of this blog, popping in for a guest post!
One of my best buddies calls Laguna Beach home so on a recent July weekend, I opted to beat the 100 degree heat of the San Fernando Valley and head south for the cooler clime of the Southern California coast. I’ve traveled all up and down the state of California in the 13 years I’ve lived here, and I think Laguna has one of the prettiest coastlines I’ve seen with steep cliffs down to the sea, robin’s egg blue skies, turquoise sparkling water, lush vegetation and pristine beaches. It’s a popular tourist destination and summer is peak season with art festivals bringing even more people into the coastal town. Even with packed streets, the sense of tranquil relaxation can’t help but pervade as soon as you hit PCH. Here are some highlights.
With seven miles of gorgeous coastline and approximately 20 public beaches, hitting the surf and sand is a must. To make beach-hopping even easier, the city offers a free trolley/bus service between downtown and South Laguna (ending at the Ritz Carlton) that operates during the summer months. Choose one of the open air trolleys and enjoy the breeze whipping through your hair as you cruise along Pacific Coast Highway. Ah, summer.
Walk. There are no shortage of carefully curated boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and breathtaking vantage points along PCH, not to mention insane people watching. South Laguna boasts the spectacular Montage Resort, with its gorgeous ocean views and acres upon acres of immaculately landscaped gardens. The perfect spot for a summer wedding, on any given weekend you can catch a glimpse of a bride and groom posing for photographs along the pretty garden pathways.
Get artsy. Laguna is an artist’s colony and in addition to the countless art galleries that populate downtown, summer also brings in the Sawdust Art Festival (celebrating local Laguna Beach artists) and the renowned Pageant of the Masters, which brings famous masterworks to life in a live stage show. Expect both to be crowded, and advance tickets are a must for the popular Pageant of the Masters.
If you’re going the luxury route, the Montage is a must-stay. Set on thirty acres of pristine oceanfront property, the stunning grounds and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean are impossible to beat. Even if you’re not a hotel guest, indulge in the laidback luxury that’s so quintessentially California with an outdoor meal at Mosaic Bar & Grille or an evening cocktail on the patio of the Lobby Lounge.
Situated halfway between the Montage and downtown, Casa Laguna is a romantic boutique hotel with historic Mission architecture and offering personal touches like an evening wine and cheese reception. With a maximum occupancy of two per room, Casa Laguna is uniquely designed for couples.
If it’s history you’re after, you’ll enjoy Laguna Beach’s oldest hotel, The Hotel Laguna, situated in the heart of downtown along the ‘California Riviera.’
Downtown offers a ton of mouth-watering restaurants and anything with an ocean view will be popular (and crowded). I like Asada on PCH for upscale Mexican food and a killer tequila bar. A few doors down from Asada is Nick’s, a trendy bistro with a welcoming atmosphere and lots of delish comfort food options. Try the fried deviled eggs, a Nick’s original. No-fuss California cuisine can be sampled at Zinc, while C’est La Vie is a French restaurant and bakery that specializes in delicious crepes. And I would be remiss without mentioning Taco Loco, a sidewalk taco bar south of downtown with a hippie surfer vibe that stays open late and offers plenty of good, cheap grub. The vegetarians in the bunch will appreciate the yummy blackened tofu mushroom burger.
If you’re craving luxury but can’t quite afford the price tag, consider signing up for a yoga class at Spa Montage. On off peak nights (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) $40.00 will get you a one-hour yoga session as well as access to their world class spa. Totally worth it.
No offense to Athens but when Marlien and I missed the connecting flight to New York and found out we were going to be stranded there for not one but two nights, we were anything but enthusiastic. The good news is we loved it!
Marlien and I have been stranded before in cities that were never on the itinerary so we knew just what to do. One collect call into Platinum American Express Travel Services and we were on our way to the King George Hotel. A complimentary upgrade to a junior suite was the perfect remedy for a travel mishap, as was the complementary lunch complete with a view of the Acropolis.
We intended to check out The New Hotel and see what all the hype is about but somehow we missed it. Where the King George is classical elegance with brocade and moldings, the New Hotel screams ‘it’ hotel and modern hipster with an artsy vibe.
Duh. Visit the ancient ruins that thankfully were walking distance from our hotel. Climb the ascent to the Acropolis and take in views of a very dense yet sprawling Athens. Make sure to pack your parasol to protect from the blistering sun!
We loved walking everywhere and generally getting lost. There are tons of shops and classical tavernas in the neighboring areas of Plaka and Monastiraki. The graffiti is mind blowing as it is absolutely everywhere, wrapping subway cars and any available surface. It brought back memories of Keith Haring and New York City in the early 1980′s – in short, I liked it.
Marlien and I both agreed that Athens brought the best meals of our trip (read more about it on Marlien’s blog, Le Catch). We loved Kuzina for dinner, feasting on zucchini balls in a spearmint sauce and crab cakes in a spicy aioli. A fresh take on classical Greek fare.
Prosopa is in a former glass factory and considering our cab driver couldn’t even find it, it’s a bit off the beaten path. We ate outdoors across the street from the actual restaurant and I suppose it’s good that the street is not a busy one, making all that server back and forth a bit safer! The menu had a contemporary Italian vibe (and a Damien Hirst style homage) and we ate the most delicious mushroom ravioli ever. Ever.
The best afternoon snack ever can be found at the fresh Greek yogurt shops that serve yogurt with toppings. We are not talking Pinkberry here. I’m talking full fat Greek Yogurt served with gorgeous nuts and dried fruit options. I savored mine simply with honey and will miss this most about our Greek getaway! Yum.