Tag Archives: Santa Monica

A Way to Experience Ultimate Summer Before it is Gone: Carefree and California.

I’m a summer girl through and through. So it pains me to realize we only have half of the best season ever left.

Had to maximize the summer fun this weekend and do quintessential So Cal summer stuff… the LA Times wrote a good article about the very same thing in Sunday’s Travel section. http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-socalcloseups-20110731,0,1394619.story A nice primer for out of town visitors.

First, my summer fling: my favorite thing to do along the beaches of Los Angeles: ride bikes on the 8 miles of trails along the sand from Temescal Canyon in Santa Monica to Venice Beach. The sun kissing your cheeks… and the sea breeze blowing your hair. Carefree and California.

Great for kids, or go with a friend. Park your car in one of the public lots along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)  in Santa Monica. Parking will cost you about $8.00.

If you park close to California St incline, there are bike rentals a short walk away on the beach-side bike path. Perry’s in Santa Monica carries everything from tandem bikes to the kiddy carts. I would recommend carts for any child under 7 – they get tired and If you head south, you are riding against the wind on the way back. Perry’s has eight locations along Santa Monica and Venice. www.perryscafe.com

Perry’s is also a cafe – music playing and a buzzy environment with a kids’ menu. TIP: It is cash only.

**TIP:f you stay in a hotel, get a map of Santa Monica because there are often bike rental coupons in the tourist map.

Once you are set with wheels and a meal, the adventure begins. The Ferris wheel of the Santa Monica pier is always in your view, (background of above photo) so chances are if you are with kids, they will beg you to stop there. Pacific Park Amusement Park has rides and arcade games. Personally, I find it crowded and trashy – especially in summer, so limit your time. But the kids like it and It is a pretty setting right on the pier.

Farther down the road you will come to Venice Beach – always an entertaining area. There’s never a shortage of people watching – from musicians to muscles to magicians – Venice Beach’s street performers attract many. Nearby Abbot Kinney Blvd is one of the only strolling streets in LA that isn’t inhabited by chain stores and still maintains it’s unique character.

The LA Times article briefly mentions the new Santa Monica Place… it is a three-story outdoor mall of sorts with a view of the ocean. The top floor has many restaurants – check which ones have kids menus.

The Market is an exciting new addition – 45,000 square feet with a French chocolatier, a wine shop, and a cooking school for starters. It is helping turn this local into a foodie destination.

True Food Kitchen, Santa Monica

True Food Kitchen has a nice kids menu, and for the total over the top healthy Cali meal, you can’t beat this. The kids’ pizza has a whole wheat crust, and I had an organic glass of chardonnay from Mendocino.

Movie theaters nearby and lots of fun shops makes this a bustling place to stroll.

Live from So Cal… The weather is beautiful and I wish you were here.

Stay in a presidential suite for the price of a budget hotel…

I recently was in New York for a television shoot. We stayed at the Palace in New York on Madison Ave. and spent much time in its exclusive penthouse suite…which felt more like an apartment. It had a piano…a penthouse balcony….a dining room…and wonderful high ceilings and windows with a view of the Apple. I’ve seen a lot of exclusive suites in my line of work, but this suite had its own elevator to the two other levels and a private concierge.

Here I am in the living room. (Notice the view.)

Here are CBS’s Peter Greenberg and I in the upstairs office…

Nice right? But when I heard the price, my first thought was – what a waste of money.

$27,000 a night.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being there, but I thought of all the good things that money could do instead of the over-indulgence.

The vistors who stay here obviously don’t dent their checkbooks by reserving a room. An oil magnate family from the Middle East stayed here recently to give you an idea of its former occupants.

BUT  – now the traveler who likes first class travel in four and five star hotels has a chance to stay in a room big enough to house a football team…for a three star price.

Offandaway.com  auctions off available suites at top notch hotels at a fraction of the normal rate.

The website advertises “a presidential suite for the price of a budget hotel room” – which I think might be a stretch…

For example, list price for two nights at the presidential suite in the NY’s Pierre Hotel: $40,ooo. Winning bidder price: $938.25.  (Not exactly budget hotel prices, but a great savings nonetheless…)

The website is a little confusing..needs to explain better…but the idea is this:

1) But a package of bids…… A small investment up front will deter non serious bidders they think.

2) Start bidding on what you want – the auction starts at “0” and can be increased by 25 cents.

3) The highest bidder at auction closing time wins!

An example of a suite coming up for bid:

2 nights at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, in the King View suite.

An example of a recent winning bid:

3 nights in a junior suite at Casa Dorada in Los Cabos normally prices at $1637 went for $87.

Check it out – and let me know if you get a great deal 🙂  www.offandaway.com