Union Street San Francisco

San Francisco is full of neighborhoods that I love to visit over and over again: Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Chinatown, to name a few. However, I also love to explore and discover new, less-touristed areas and neighborhoods. For that, Union Street in the Cow Hollow neighborhood definitely fits the bill.

Not to be mistaken for Union Square, Union Street – especially between Gough and Fillmore – is lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques, cafes, wine bars, and more, most of which are housed in beautifully restored, historic Victorian-style homes and buildings.

If you’re hungry, there are many restaurants on this street to choose from, including, The Italian Homemade Company, a local SF chain that makes their own pasta from scratch daily, right in the front window.

Spend an afternoon or evening popping in and out of the shops, stopping for a cup of coffee and pastry at one of the several cafes, and absorbing the mellow, unhurried atmosphere of this fun, funky shopping district.

2 Tips:

  • I love to walk in San Francisco; however, some of the hills can be daunting. If you come to one that looks especially insurmountable – just walk a block or two down and see if you can find an optional street that’s a bit more doable.
  • No matter what time of year you’re there, always bring a sweatshirt or light jacket; it can be chilly in the “City By the Bay” all year round, especially once the sun sets.

Where to Stay in Santiago

On a trip to Santiago, Chile to celebrate my husbands’s birthday, we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton in the upscale Las Condes neighborhood. While we often try to stay at smaller, local boutique properties when traveling, we had points to use up, and so chose this international chain. And we were very happy that we did! The room was quiet and comfortable (as you would expect from a Hilton property), and we had a fabulous view of the Andes mountains rising just behind the city. (If your room faces the other direction, you’d have a lovely view of the San Cristobal Hill)

The Las Condes neighborhood is great for walking with lots of shops and restaurants to discover, not to mention  (La Pastora), a paseo between Avenida Apoquindo and Isidora Goyenecha with ten outdoor sculptures made from stone, bronze and steel. There is also a metro stop just a few short blocks away, which makes it easy to get to other parts of the city that you want to explore.

The best thing about this hotel was definitely the warm, friendly staff. They made sure we felt welcome, gave us great information about the area, tips on restaurants and hints of places to visit. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels throughout my travels and I think the staff at this DoubleTree was among the best I’ve ever encountered. Kudos to the whole team and to the management for obviously providing great training!

Av Vitacura 2727, Las Condes, Región
Santiago, Chile

Thai One On

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is Dao Thai Restaurant and Noodle Palace conveniently located just east of Michigan Avenue on Ohio.

They have terrific food (my faves are pad Thai with extra tofu (fried) and peanuts and the crab rangoon wanton.) However, one of my favorite features of this restaurant is a row of low tables down the center aisle that just have pads as seats with an opening for your legs.

Dao Thai Restaurant and Noodle Palace
230 East Ohio Street
Chicago, Il 60611

Buona Caccia

Eataly is an indoor Italian market/restaurant/cooking school/wine shop/all around fun place to hang out. The original is located at 200 5th Avenue (at 23rd) in NYC and has become one of my new favorite places to spend time in Manhattan when I find myself with a bit of spare time on my travels there.

Last time I went, I entered through the small door on 23rd Street. The place was humming with 100’s of people perusing the markets filled with gorgeous,colorful fruits and veggies, mozzeralla cheese, pasta, rice and fresh baked breads,coffee. There were more folks sitting at tables or standing at long wooden counters after ordering from one of the dozen or so restaurants that are housed in this fantastic space.

According to its website, the goal of Eataly is to “challenge the idea that quality products are accessible only to a select few”–and I think they’ve achieved that objective.

It’s fun just to wander through and get caught up in the crowd of people and the buzz of the markets. If you can find a table or space at a counter and have time for a meal or a snack, it’s also fabulous for a casual bite.

There are now several Eataly markets throughout the US. including 2 in NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA and  Las Vegas. I’ve been to Eataly many times, in several citiesand every time I go, I find something else to love about it!

Take a Peek Into the Industrial Revolution

With the Miami Beach Convention Center  recently completing a $615-million state-of-the-art transformation, you can bet more business travelers will likely be heading down to South Beach (SoBe)for meetings and conferences. 

If you are one of the lucky ducks who has a conference in SoBe and you find yourself with a spare hour or so, think about heading over to the Wolfsonian- Florida International University Museum. It’s right in the heart of the city, just blocks from the Convention Center at Washington and 10th and its permanent and rotating exhibits dating from the Industrial Revolution through the end of the Second World War are fantastic.
The building itself, the Washington Storage Company, was expanded and renovated in 1992 by architect Mark Hampton in collaboration with architect William Kearns to convert it from a storage place for Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.’s large collection of rare books and objects on modern design, architecture and decorative arts into a museum and research center. The modernist lobby, museum café and shop are just a prelude to the exhibit space for permanent and temporary galleries dramatically arranged around light wells, 

The museum is open various hours every day except Wed. and it’s just $10 to get in (or free on Friday nights from 6-9 if you happen to be there then) So if you’re in Miami Beach for work and find that elusive bit of time that we business travelers sometimes get, head down to Washington and 10th and poke into the Wolfsonian-FIU and get lost in a whimsical “blast from the past” 
Wolfsonian- FIU
1001 Washington Avenue
(corner of Washington and 10th)
Miami Beach, FL 33139

MOMA For Free

If you’re ever in NYC over a Friday and you find yourself with some open time in the evening, you can head to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for UNIQLO Free Friday nights from 4:00pm – 8:00pm. You can’t buy tickets in advance so you have to go there and get in line – but I promise-even if it looks monstrous-the line moves pretty quickly once the doors open (or you can just get there a little later and miss the opening “rush”)

It’s terrific to be able to go and wander through the different galleries – Or you can just walk around inside the building and admire the architecture. You can even get a free headset (or download an app to your smartphone) if you’d like to hear excerpts about some of the pieces that you’re looking at. And because it’s all free,(usual cost is $25), you don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t have a lot of time to spare and just want a brief visit.

11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY

Note: There is another location in Queens

Tip: If you can’t get to the museum on Friday evening, you can go to the MOMA design/gift store directly across the street anytime for free (44 West 53rd Street) It’s a great place to browse and find jewelry, furniture, accessories and gifts that reflect pieces from the museum.

Zaytinya – A Taste Treat in DC

When I’m in DC for work, I always try to make my way over to Zaytinya – which means “olive oil” in Turkish – for lunch or dinner at least once. It’s an easy walk from the Convention Center if you’re there for a conference, or located directly across from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Red, Green and Yellow lines.

The inside of the restaurant is sleek and modern and it has a great outdoor patio for al fresco dining (weather permitting) However, as much as I love the atmosphere of Zaytinya it’s the food that keeps me coming back whenever I’m in town. World-traveling chef Jose Andres and his team have created a menu of fantastic small plates (mezze) inspired by the cuisine of Turkey, Greece and Lebanon (my mouth is watering as I write this just thinking about it!) Smaller portion plates are particularly great if dining alone or fun to share if you’re in town with your team or clients.

Head to Zaytinya if you want a break from the steak or seafood restaurants that are plentiful in DC – and have an order of delicious baba ghannouge for me!

701 9th Street NW
Washington DC 20001
Corner of 9th and G Streets

A Walk in the Park

If you’re in NYC staying somewhere above 56th for work and you happen to find yourself with that elusive 1/2 hour or hour before your next meeting or dinner, take a walk in the park. Central Park provides a haven away from the frantic bustle and noise of Manhattan and no matter where you enter, there is something wonderful to explore.

  • If you enter more toward the south end of the park you can wander to the carousel which has been a park attraction since 1861.
  • Toward the center of the park – you’ll find the Belvidere Castle with its two balconies, giving you a birds eye view of the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond and Delacorte Theater
  • The Imagine mosaic-honoring John Lenno- is located in Strawberry Fields near 72nd on the West side
  • if you’re way up in the Upper East side, you can roam the Conservatory Gardens.

There are hundreds of things to see in the park, but you don’t need to have an attraction in mind, just get out of the hotel, put on your walking shoes and enter the magic of Central Park. Wherever you roam, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from your hectic day and be prepared for the next meeting.

Get Outside in Vegas

Sometimes when I’m working at an event that takes place at one of the casino/event centers in Las Vegas, I almost feel like a prisoner. The event and conference space is connected to the hotel and colleagues and clients often just want to meet at restaurants or bars located on the property and there’s even shopping and entertainment to be had without ever having to step out the door. Trying to just get outside for the few minutes that I might find myself with is nearly impossible – I know I, (and probably you), don’t have time to wait in the cab line to try to get out somewhere and feel the sun on my face and it makes me crazy!

Finally, last time I was staying and working at Mandalay Bay, I found that if I made my way to the lower floor (pool level) I could get outside and there was a walkway that lead down a lovely path lined with palm trees all the way to the conference center. Prior to finding this piece of heaven, I would make the almost 1/2 mile hike inside the dark casino halls, over an indoor “bridge” which was lined (cruelly) with large windows that allowed me to see, but not experience,the beautiful, sunny skies. Finding the path that let me do that same walk outdoors felt like a great little secret way to start and end my long days otherwise spent in the sunless caverns of the event center and evenings at restaurants located in the hotel.

So, next time your event/meeting takes place inside the windowless depths of a Vegas casino,and you don’t have a lot of time to try to get outside, take a look and see if you can find your own “secret passage” that lets you get outside, get in a little walk and breath a little fresh air.

If you’ve found your own great little secret walks (indoor or out) at any of the casinos, please let me know!

A Taste of the “Mini-Apple”

Because I travel from Minneapolis to other cities, I forget that some of you might be traveling to Minneapolis and want to know of some fun, interesting things there are to do here. So if you’re business travels bring you to the “Mini – Apple”  Here are three things that you can do if you find yourself with an hour or two.

1) Walk the skyways – According to Wikipedia, “Minneapolis skyways connect various buildings in 69 full city blocks over 11 miles of downtown Minneapolis, enabling people to walk in climate controlled comfort year-round.”  (Great news – especially if you’re here in the winter!)
It’s not only just fun way to get from building to building, there are restaurants and shops throughout these passageways as well.

2) Wander down Nicollet Mall – Nicollet Mall is 11 blocks that run through the heart of downtown Minneapolis with shops and restaurants for every taste. Take in a few shops and then stop and head up to the “rooftop lawn” (weather permitting) at Brit’s Pub for a pint.

3) Walk along the Mississippi – Yep, “The Big Muddy” runs right through downtown Minneapolis (it’s why Minneapolis was know as the flour mill capital of the world and how it got its nickname “Mill City”) There’s a great walking path all along the Mississippi – and depending on where you go, you’ll see the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum, the Stone Arch Bridge, St Anthony Falls, and many other landmarks. If you get a nice day/evening and can get there, the Riverfront is a fantastic way to get out of the hotel for a stroll and some fresh air

Enjoy Minneapolis if you come!