Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

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Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

“America ….. is the land of the richness of life, of the fullness of every hour in the day, the country which gives you the sense of carrying out a huge amount of activity, even though in fact you achieve very little, the country where solitude is impossible.” Italo Calvino

America is big and there is so much to see in the land of the free and home of the brave. The geography, climate, wildlife and people are extremely diverse. We have a brief history compared to Europe and the UK but it is interesting. Here are ten places in no particular order that I love to visit.

Washington DC is the capital of the country and our political center. That might not sound like the place to be be right now but it’s beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms in bloom, and in the fall with the leaves changing color. DC is a walkable city if you stay downtown.You have to do the basics. First there are the monuments – Lincoln, Washington, Martin Luther King, Jefferson and WWll. You can see them at night as well. Get your Capitol and White House Tour tickets before you come. It’s fun to just walk down the National Mall and see all the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums all over the city. I also like Newseum, the Holocaust Museum, National Portrait Gallery and my favorite the National Gallery Of Art. Union Market has an amazing food scene and the food in DC is eclectic and delicious. If you have kids, the FBI and the Mint are fun to see.

People from Los Angeles love San Francisco. Their rich people are techies not Hollywood types. It is geographically tiny and you can walk everywhere.  Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is cool.  Riding the cable car is an excellent way to see the city.  Taking the ferry to Alcatraz Island is interesting.  You can walk along Fisherman’s Wharf which is really touristy. I dont recommend eating there.  Swan Oyster Depot is better for seafood. San Francisco is a foodie city so there are many  great restaurants. Go to the largest Chinatown in the US for dim sum and Japantown for sushi. The Ferry Building which has been converted to a market and food court is a great place for lunch. I love the newly renovated San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art. There are many interesting neighborhoods with walking tours. Bring a jacket- even in summer.

Amelia Island is a quiet barrier island, located in the Northernmost portion of Florida, not too far from the Georgia border. The island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of coastal barrier islands stretching from Northeast Florida to South Carolina. It is great place to relax with southern hospitality. Amelia Island offers 13 miles of quiet, secluded beaches. The setting is quaint and beautiful, with many historical inns, beautiful seaside homes, hiking trails and a few resorts.The weather is mild year-round with an average winter temperature in the 60’s. You will find that the area is not overdeveloped, but rather reminiscent of the old days in Florida.

Chicago, Illinois has the the hospitality of a midwestern city with the  famous architecture and multiculturalism of New York. The food in Chicago is first class and the Art Institute is one of my favorite museums. The elevated Bloomingdale Trail and the Lake Michigan bike paths are fun when the weather is nice. I also liked the Architecture Cruise given by the Architectural Foundation which is a fun way to see the famous buildings. Chicago is home to the comedy club Second City (think SNL) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (think Broadway). The best time to visit is spring and fall. 

The Big Island is also called Hawaii. I love the Kona side with its volcanic landscape and black sand beaches. The Hilo side has a lush tropical landscape and is definitely a day trip. Yes Hawaii is expensive because it is an island and everything has to be shipped in. If you have never seen an active volcano, go to Hawaii Volcano National Park. Stay after dark to see the glow from the Caldera. I usually never leave the black sand beach.

 As an ex New Yorker, when I visit New York City, I want to see and do it all. It’s a frantic schedule even for a New Yorker. It’s impossible to see it in one visit and you have to resign yourself to see and do what you can. The lines for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building are long so get there early. If you are interested in the World Trade Memorial, get your tickets before you go.Times Square is always crowded with tourists. Get tickets for you shows in advance or go to TKTS booth in Times Square for discount tickets to day of shows. See a concert or ballet at Lincoln Center. There are walking tours in every neighborhood so pick neighborhoods that interest you. I grew up in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and recommend both as a way to relax in the city. The HIghline is an urban walking park which runs from 34th Street to the Meatpacking District, built on old elevated train tracks, is lovely on a nice day. NY is filled with excellent museums so budget some time for those. The Met is one of the biggest museums in the world and  has something for everyone so I recommend that. I love the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Food is a whole blog. NYC is filled with amazing restaurants and many different immigrant cultures who bring along great food. When I return, I must have pizza and egg rolls from any family run place, cannoli from Venero’s, bagels from Ess A Bagel and a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya . NYC was my last plane trip in the old world so I am particularly nostalgic. 

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Plan to be amazed by the intense color of the red rocks and the night skies filled with stars. There is a magical , spiritual quality to Sedona, Arizona . Sedona has a moderate climate and though it is hotter in summer and snowy in winter, you can really visit anytime. The natural beauty and energy vortexes make hiking, dining, spa and  personal growth experiences even better.

Boston, Massachusetts is one of the most historic cities in the United States. I have been there many times and love the food, museums and the fact that is a slower paced city than New York.The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walk through historic Boston. It takes you through all the major sites and monuments relating to the city’s founding and the Revolutionary War. The trail passes through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall so plan to stop for lunch.There are beautiful neighborhoods with their own vibe and history to walk through. I love the North End which is the heart of Boston’s Italian community. It involves waiting on a line for cannoli at MIke’s Pastry. You might also want to see a Red Sox game or visit Harvard. Museums in Boston are free to students which is another thing I love about the city.

A new England summer vacation had never occurred to me until my daughter went to camp in Maine. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is not actually a place to lie out on the beach for eight hours with a drink in hand.The weather can be iffy. There are great restaurants especially if you are a fan of lobster and sea food. The Vineyard is divided into six towns each with their personal vibe, so explore them all, by foot, bike or if it’s raining –  car. If you bring a car, make sure to have a car reservation for the ferry in advance or purchased from a resident. 

I love skiing in Park City, Utah. Growing up as an East Coast skier, the incredible Utah powder is so wonderful. Whatever your level of skiing, you will find runs in Park City. I love Deer Valley. The resort is consistently ranked at the top when it comes to grooming, service, access, on-mountain food, lodging, dining, and kid friendliness. Park City was founded in 1884 after the silver boom of the 1860s, and its mining heritage plays a strong role in defining the Western flavor of the charming little downtown scene. There is an abundance of restaurants and bars to choose from. It is also the host of the world famous Sundance Film Festival which takes place in January every year. 

Sty safe,

JAZ

Best Things To Do In San Francisco,California With A Little Help From My Friends

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  Best Things To Do In San Francisco With A Little Help From My Friends

“One day if I do go to heaven~I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.” Herb Caen

My  favorite day in San Francisco involves Kabuki Hot Springs – shiatsu massage, hot and cold pools, and fresh crab salad at Swan Oyster Depot. In the afternoon, I head to City Lights Bookstore and eat a cannoli in Little Italy at Stella’s, Mara’s or the first bakery I see.   JZ

 I like Union Square. I know it’s touristy, but when I go there, I always find unique things in their shops – candles, teas, flavored chocolates, cards, household items – things that I don’t see anywhere else.  The shops are really fun. DGB

I never miss the exhibits at the Museum Of Modern Art And The Asian Art Museum. Both gift shops are irresistible. BE

 If you’re ever craving a bit of rustic fine dining (grass fed burger, perfect fries, best pork chop in the city, blue bottle martini) late at night  go to NOPA. San Francisco’s food options shut down fairly early, but NOPA is open late and where chefs go to eat after work. If you like Korean food, go to Toyose. It’s a bit of an adventure in that it’s in a garage…but it’s truly a great and authentic experience. People go there to eat Korean bar food (kimchi fried rice, fried chicken, pancakes etc.) and to drink Soju.  If you’re bar hopping in the mission late at night, go get a burrito at 2am at El Farolito right next to the 24th Street Bart Station.  You’ll see a line of drunk folk going out the door.  Take a walk at sunset on Baker Beach and admire the bridge and all the naked people. When I think of it, San Francisco can be boiled down to burritos and beaches…haha.  NH

Go see the Giants at Oracle Stadium… maybe the best of the new “old school” ballparks, and McCovey Cove is so cool (the Bay is just over the right field wall, and fans chase “splash homers” in kayaks).   CW

I loved  being able to walk everywhere. San Francisco is all hills and some of the views of the city are spectacular. CL

My favorite restaurants are Acquerello for Italian food, upscale, elegant, very skilled chef, attentive wait staff, an evening to remember;  House of Nan King for Chinese food – no reservations, lines out the door at rush hour – worth the wait Tarantinos Seafood –  wharf area, standard traditional fare, very fresh, best location.  Macys Mens Store is an  entire building –  5 floors . The stock shows very different taste – more upscale and better quality than L.A.   BH

I love to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge  and have lunch in Chinatown. It is the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia and the deeper into it you walk, the more authentic it is. BB

I love our mini-neighborhood of Hyde Street between Union and Green on Russian Hill.  Within a block we have Elephant Sushi, Za Pizza,  two Mediterranean restaurants (Frascati and Abrazo), two wine bars and the original Swensen’s ice cream shop. Jayne’s mother (my favorite aunt) once asked ‘Doesn’t anyone in San Francisco ever cook?  LM

One of my favorite spots in the City is the waterfront along the Ferry Building (and the Ferry Building itself). On any day, rain or shine, you can’t get a better view of the water than you do by walking along the Embarcadero, which brings you so close to the water itself. Gulls scream and the boats’ horns blast in the distance. The shops inside the Building include Heath Ceramics–a little curated outpost of the larger stores you can only find in San Francisco and Los Angeles. TFN

Fly safe,

JAZ

Beyond The Streets

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 Beyond The Streets 

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Banksy 

The “Beyond The Streets” art exhibition in DTLA is my idea of what heaven will look like.  https://www.beyondthestreets.com.  It is 40,000 square feet of industrial space filled with street art. Roger Gastman has followed  his 2011 show at the MOCA in Los Angeles, Art in the Streets, which was the U.S.’ first-ever graffiti and street art retrospective with this one. It was extended till August 26. Artists include Banksy, Invader, DABSMYLA, Dennis DTLAHopper, FUTURA 2000, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy,  Keith Haring, FAILE, Kenny Scharf, VHILS,  Guerilla Girls, Shepard Fairey, Takashi Murakami, and many more.  Yes, I’m going again.

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summer 18 (479 of 484)

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things To Do In Sydney, Australia With A Little Help From My Friends

Things To Do In Sydney, Australia With A Little Help From My Friends

‘Their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water. They have a society that is prosperous, well-ordered, and instinctively egalitarian. The food is excellent. The beer is cold. The sun nearly always shines. There is coffee on every corner. Life doesn’t get much better than this.” Bill Bryson

Hang out at the beach. My favorite is to take the ferry to Manly Beach, The beaches are wide and beautiful there – great options for food too. Sydney is famous for world-class surfing.  There is a beach for everyone. NM

Stroll along the busy wharfs of Circular Quay, listen to the Aboriginal street artists and enjoy the views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Walk further until you reach the Opera House.  I recommend booking a tour in advance of this amazing building. If not, just continue around the Opera House for some surprising and spectacular views of this marvelous piece of architecture. My favorite thing is to sit in the cafe outside and have some Australian coffee (flat white) and enjoy the view.JZ

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I love having brekkie (breakfast) at the  Carriage Works Farmers Market on the weekend in Everleigh. This weekend market is known for its range of seasonal produce, including organic and biodynamic foods from farmers and producers from across New South Wales. Some standouts are Billy Kwongs, Bourke Street Bakery,Ritual Coffee and Bird Cow Fish. TO

The beautiful walk from Bondi to Coogee Coastal winds its way along 6 km of beguiling coastal views, offering plenty of things to do along the way. The leisurely walk spans for about 1-2 hours overlooking the spectacular beaches. SR

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Watson’s Bay is definitely a favorite place for me to visit in Sydney. One of the city’s hidden gems is in the eastern suburbs. You can order some of the famous fish and chips from Sydney institution, Doyle’s on the Beach which first opened in 1885 or grab some take away from their wharf kiosk and set up a picnic in the park or along the waterfront. But what I love to do most is go for a walk around the bay to the stunningly private beach at Camp Cove. BT

As the quintessential ‘must do’ experience in Sydney, Harbor Bridge Climb should be top on your list of things to book well in advance of your stay. As Sydney’s most popular experience, be sure to secure your day climb prior to your arrival to avoid disappointment.WW

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Chinatown in Sydney is where you will find just about every Asian cuisine you can imagine: Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese. Not only that, the dishes are cheap and tasty. Friday nights on Dixon Street are crowded with locals and tourists. If you are there in October, the night noodle markets have every Asian food and entertainment. JG

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There are cool art galleries in Surrey Hills – Bret Whitely Studio and First Draft  gallery are my favorite. Also I love to run into the Museum of Contemporary Art on Circular Quay and the Art Gallery of New South Wales TM

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Whether it be AFL, rugby union or league, soccer or cricket, everyone  in  Australia has a team and everyone has a rival. Ahead of your trip, take the time to look up which games are being played while you’re in town and grab a ticket to see the action live. The heritage-listed Sydney Cricket Ground is one of liveliest arenas to watch sport in the summer. SK

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” Russell Baker

I love reading these lists about countries I am visiting and hope you will find this one helpful.

Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney

Venice of America” was created as a beach resort in 1905. The first grounds came complete with an aquarium, bath houses, and an amusement park. Developers dug several canals to drain the marshes. As the infrastructure and buildings crumbled in the 1950’s, the odd characters and artists found their way in. That mentality continued to the present, making Venice a melting pot of cultures, art and attitudes. The path and boardwalk along the beach with is vendors, restaurants, street performers, weightlifters, artists, tattoo artists, skaters, bikers and graffiti art make it great for people watching.

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Abbot Kinney is one of the trendiest streets in LA right now. The downside is the overabundance of hipsters and horrible parking. It’s great to hang out, eat and shop. My favorite Abbot Kinney restaurants are Gjelina (http://www.gjelina.com) and The Tasting Kitchen (http://www.thetastingkitchen.com)

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LACMA and La Brea.

Since they redid LACMA, (LA County Museum of Art http://www.lacma.org) several years ago, it is a cool, interesting space to spend a Sunday. Catch the latest exhibit, collection, film, or do a family activity with the kids. Sit in the courtyard and have a drink or coffee and plan your visit. I like to have brunch at one of the La Brea restaurants, Republique (http://republiquela.com) or The Sycamore Kitchen (http://thesycamorekitchen.com). If you are a mall person The Grove (http://www.thegrovela.com) is nearby as well.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market In Pasadena

The super gigantic Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place rain or shine on the second Sunday of each month at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. There is a plethora of vintage items and vendors. It is great for people watching – the hip, the beautiful, the cool and the very strange are all shopping for that perfect find. I think the days of finding something really valuable are probably over but it is definitely the place where LA hipsters go to furnish their living spaces. It’s funny to see people grabbing things you grew up with and wondering if you shouldn’t have given them away back then. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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Ride Your Bike From Santa Monica To Manhattan Beach .

The bike path runs along the Pacific Ocean from Pacific Palisades to Torrance. It is 22 miles (35 kilometers) long. It’s good to pick it up in Santa Monica and ride through Venice, Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. Manhattan Beach is the quintessential LA beach town.  It is what you expect a California beach community to look like when you move from the East Coast. The Beach Boys hung out here when they were young and it is credited to be the birthplace of beach volleyball ( now an Olympic sport). They have some really good restaurants. I like to go to MB Post (http://eatmbpost.com) and Fishing With Dynamite (http://www.eatfwd.com).

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LA Dodger Game.

Baseball has always been a metaphor for America. The LA Dodgers (http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=la) have been a symbol of Los Angeles since they moved from Brooklyn. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. It was built on the controversial Chavez Ravine, overlooking the city making it one of the most beautiful settings for a baseball stadium. It is a really fun Sunday thing to do – watching a game and eating Dodger dogs.   The “Dodger dog” is a 10” frankfurter sold at Dodger Stadium during the games. It is probably not the best hot dog you will ever eat but it feels like it is when you are there.

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The Annenberg Space For Photography

Photography is my newest obsession and I just love this place. They have interesting exhibits and great lectures. It is located in Century City and admission is free. I often drop by for an hour and usually see the exhibits more than once. (http://annenbergphotospace.org)

It located near Century City Mall and you can run in and do some shopping and get some food. My new favorite Chinese restaurant is located here. It is called Meizhou Dongpo and is the first American outpost of a very successful chain restaurant in China which started in Beijing. They became famous because they catered the food in the Olympic village in 2008. Everything I have had there is delicious. I always look forward to eating there.

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Malibu

Malibu is very relaxed on a Sunday. Walk on the beach. Watch the surfers and birds at the lagoon. Have brunch at the Malibu Beach Inn (http://www.malibubeachinn.com), Malibu Farm (http://www.malibu-farm.com) or Nobu (http://www.noburestaurants.com/malibu/experience/). (Nobu)

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Walk around the shopping centers with their new stores. Maybe you will run into Caitlyn Jenner. I love the Malibu Farmer’s Market on Sunday as well. They have some great locally grown items. Sometimes I get fresh bread and cheese and make that a meal with all the samples they give you. Other times, I have one of the meals that they are cooking. As with all farmers markets, the best produce is in the morning and the best deals are at the end of the day.

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Music Center

Growing up in NY, I love theatre and ballet. I’m a regular at the Music Center downtown (http://www.musiccenter.org) . Traffic in LA has gotten so awful that I usually go on a Sunday. I have brunch at a new downtown restaurant or go back to one of my favorites. Anything from chef Joseph Centeno – Baco Mercat, Orsa and Winston, Bar Ama or Ledlow always works for me (http://bacomercat.com). (Disney Hall)

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The Music Center is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the US. It includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the newest building Walt Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry. The center is home to ongoing community events, arts festivals, outdoor concerts, participatory arts activities and workshops, and educational programs. When I don’t stop for lunch I grab Tina’s Tacos and sit outside and watch people run in and out of the fountain. (Dorothy Chandler)

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MOCA and The Geffen Contemporary

The Museum of Contemporary Art (http://moca.org) is right down the street from the Music Center. It’s fun to come down and see an exhibit after having dim sum in Chinatown. The best things in Chinatown are the art galleries where young LA artists show their stuff. You can still buy cheap made in China gifts and check out the herb stores with their dried mushrooms, tea leaves and goji berries. Every displaced New Yorker gets a favorite Chinatown restaurant when they move out here like they had in New York. You will hear a lot of New York accents on Sunday nights. Mine closed.

The Geffen Contemporary, which is MOCA”s very large exhibition space, always has interesting exhibits and is in Little Tokyo. I like to have sushi there and walk around the malls. It feels like Japan. I like Sushi Gen but I don’t like the lines. They open at 1115 if you get there early you can avoid the queue. (http://sushigen.org) Café Dulce in Japanese Village Plaza is the place for donuts afterward.

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Early movie and dinner

No matter where I have lived, my favorite thing to do on Sunday is always an early movie and dinner at a local restaurant. My usual movie theatres are in Westwood which means Lebanese food at Sunnin (http://sunnin.com), Italian food at Palmeri in Brentwood (http://www.palmeriristorantespa.com)  or the new Ingo Diner in Santa Monica (http://www.ingostastydiner.com).

Fly safe,

JAZ