Best Museums in San Diego, California (II)

Tag: California

Best Museums in San Diego, California (II)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: La Casa de Estudillo – Historic landmark / free museum


Captain Jose Maria de Estudillo, the commander of the San Diego presidio, built this adobe home for his family in 1827. When he died in 1830, the house passed to his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, who served as revenue collector, treasurer, alcalde, and judge under Mexican rule and later treasurer and assessor of San Diego County under American rule. He died in 1852, but his family lived here until 1887, when the home steadily fell to near ruin. 


Restored in 1910, the U-shaped Spanish Colonial style adobe has 13 rooms connected only by an external covered walkway, surrounding a courtyard garden. The casa is topped with a cupola from which the family could watch bullfights and festivals in the adjacent plaza. 


The National Society of Colonial Dames of America helped furnish the casa’s rooms as they would have appeared in Estudillo’s day. On Wednesdays, members of the Old Town Historic Quilt Guild dress in period costumes for a sewing circle overlooking the courtyard.


The home as a spot on the National Register of Historic Places – and a good number of fans believe it's haunted.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Liberty Station – Former Naval Training Center


In 1923, San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated. Over the years, it turned nearly 2 million boys into men — sailors who made San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. 


When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood. While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress.


More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants – including Con Pane, Fig Tree Café, Corvette Diner and Stone Brewing World Bistro. The neighborhood also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels (Homewood Suites and Courtyard by Marriott), and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay. The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered. 


One of the best ways to experience Liberty Station is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619-342-8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key. 


Another great option: Attend Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5 PM on the first Friday of each month. It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in their studios.


There’s plenty of free parking throughout the area.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (I)

Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Air & Space Museum


Aviation buffs will find everything from human-propelled planes salvaged from the dawn of aviation to the command module from the Apollo 9 Space flight in this cavernous museum. Among aircraft displayed are a Trimotor 5-AT produced by the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s and a number of meticulously restored military aircraft, including the folding-wing Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat from World War II. 


The museum commemorates the men and women who forged aviation history, including Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. (The bright red Lockheed Vega 5-B used in the 2009 movie “Amelia” is now part of the museum’s collection.) 


There’s a 3D / 4D theater that features action-themed films and a kids-only “Aviation Hangar” with interactive activities for preschoolers and older kids who might get a charge out of testing their skills at a flight simulator.



Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Children's Museum


The New Children's Museum, which opened in Spring 2008, is a 50,000-square-foot three-level contemporary showpiece designed by San Diego architect Rob Quigley — the third incarnation of a museum that started in La Jolla in 1983. 


There's really something for kids of all ages here — from a padded romper room for crawlers to messy hands-on art-making projects for older kids. There’s stuff to ride, climb, run around and splash in. Kids have fun building, painting, sculpting, experimenting, and playing while they learn. You'll hear no complaints from parents, sitting and chatting, grabbing a bite at the museum cafe — or joining a family dance jam. 


Visit on the second Sunday of each month and admission is free for all, thanks to Target, with extended hours from 10 AM until 4 PM.



Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Hall of Champions


The San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation’s largest multi-sport museum. It spans nearly 70,000 square feet on three levels of the Federal Building constructed for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.


The museum honors athletes from or made famous in San Diego; more than 40 sports are represented. See exhibits depicting local sports heroes including baseball great Ted Williams, America’s Cup sailor Dennis Conner, golfer Billy Casper, swimmer Florence Chadwick, skateboarder Tony Hawk, boxer Ken Norton and basketball’s Bill Walton. 


There’s a state-of-the-art theater, where visitors can relive great moments in sports history. An interactive media center allows visitors to become play-by-play sports commentators. Grab a deli sandwich or salad at the museum's Home Plate Bar & Grill.


Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (I)

Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California

1. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Peet's Coffee – Alfred Peet’s percolating legacy


Peet's Coffee and Tea, in the Gourmet Ghetto at 2124 Vine Street, is a place of worship not only for a fine cup of coffee but for paying homage to a patron saint of the modern American food movement, Alfred Peet. This man devoted his life to improving the taste of coffee in America.


The revolution has come full circle with Peet's beans now available at your corner Safeway and a bevy of boutique Peet's shops around the country.


You have to love the website because it identifies a special group of people, Peetniks, those true believers who hover around the aura of the founder. The Peetniks are serviced by a brisk mail order business for those who want their product from the original source. Arrangements can be made to have Peet's coffee shipped fresh to you regularly, bean or ground, so that you will never risk running out. This solves forever one of life's many anxieties. 


The aura of Alfred Peet can be felt at the 2124 Vine Street store, especially in a side room with some classic photos of this Dutch immigrant, who got focused on coffee in Berkeley in 1966. Peet passed away in 2007.



2. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Cafe Rouge – Mediterranean fare on Fourth Street


Cafe Rouge offers a mix of culinary presentations on Fourth Street. One aspect is country Mediterranean fare. There are also some American favorites. 


The restaurant specializes in fresh meats and its in-house charcuterie. Try the rabbit pate. In fact, there is even a meat shop, emphasizing its sources for organic lamb, pork, and beef. All the chicken served is hormone free.


The restaurant was founded in 1996 by Marsha McBride, who was energized by the thought of promoting food based on environmentally correct animal husbandry.


Vegetables presented in the restaurant are all organically grown. Care in sourcing is the watchword. Adjacent is a further elaborate market with pasta, cheese, and other culinary delights.


3. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Caffe Venezia – An Italian Piazza


Caffe Venezia presents both the food and decor of Italy. Many visitors enjoy the decor approximation of an Italian piazza with floor to ceiling murals, a fountain and courtyard, and even laundry strung on lines between the windows. 


The food and value get high marks. Italian-food enthusiast Cindy Deetz runs the place. Try the fried calamari with lemon and fennel, followed by the house made ravioli with ricotta and goat cheese.


Weeknight prix fixe dinners at $20 for three courses offer good value.

Best Hotels in Los Angeles (II)

Tourists have an amazing range of hotel options when visiting in Los Angeles. Although The City of Angels is often associated with luxury and glamour, there are also numerous hotels throughout the city for budget-savvy travelers. No matter what type of accommodation you’re looking for, our series of the best hotels in Los Angeles can help you decide where to spend your night.


5. Days Inn Hollywood – Keep some coin

This hotel is not super fancy, but it’s easy on the budget. Days Inn Hollywood features lots of value-added amenities, like a swimming pool, complimentary Wi-Fi, microwave in your room and free parking, which make it one of the best hotels in Los Angeles. The hotel’s a short stroll from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The 70 guestrooms come in four categories: Queen Room, King Room, Two Queens Room, and Jacuzzi Suite.


6. Georgian Hotel – Old school class, new school comfort

The Georgian is without a doubt a crowd pleaser, catering to both young and old with its mix of vintage stateliness and newer amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and in-room video games. With a beautiful view overlooking the ocean and just a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier, the Georgian has been around since the twenties, and its basement was one of the most infamous speakeasies in Los Angeles, where high class criminals such as Bugsy Siegel and doomed actor Fatty Arbuckle would lay low and sip on illegal hooch. Now, you can enjoy a perfectly legal martini on the patio, watching the sun go down on Santa Monica Beach at one of the best hotels in Los Angeles.


7. Grafton on Sunset – Hollywood tradition meets hip amenities

The Grafton on Sunset blends South Beach with Hollywood, intimacy with excellence and tradition with style. The Grafton on Sunset has the largest outdoor salt water pool on the Strip, giving guests a little bit of South Beach chill in Cali.

The 108 guest rooms have iPod docking stations, Wi-Fi and 24 / 7 concierge service. You should definitely check out Boa Restaurant & Lounge, especially if you’re hankering for a steak. A nice touch is the hotel’s complimentary PT Cruiser car service within a three-mile radius.


8. Hotel Casa del Mar – Bed down by the sea

The 129-room Hotel Casa del Mar flourished in the Roaring Twenties as the place to stay on Santa Monica Bay and it’s now one of the best hotels in Los Angeles. The beach club and hotel still have a gloss of European glamor. Rooms have either ocean or hillside views and sport sateen draperies, four poster beds and 42” plasma TVs.

Order up a cocktail in the hotel’s sophisticated lounge, The Verandah. When you stay at the Hotel Casa del Mar, you’ll be within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier.

Best Hotels in Los Angeles (I)

Are you looking for a luxurious hotel in Los Angeles where you could into a Hollywood star, singer or celebrity? Cheap Travel Hunter brings you the best hotels in Los Angeles:


1. Avalon Beverly Hills – Turn the other chic

The Avalon’s hourglass-shaped pool dates from 1949, and is the central piece in the property’s embrace of the patio lifestyle during California’s 1950s. Services and amenities at Avalon Beverly Hills are quite modern, so this hotel isn’t exactly retro, although classic furnishings from designers like Isamu Noguchi and Charles Eames set a wonderful scene.

The hotel’s Oliviero restaurant offers Italian cuisine in a chic, al fresco Beverly Hills setting. You will love the bamboo trees and Italian columns.

Avalon Beverly Hills is one of the best hotels in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills. The price per night is: $250 / adult.


2. Beverly Wilshire – Rolling into Rodeo, large

Even though this landmark hotel has been around for 70 years, attending to well-heeled guests, it still gets an “Aha” moment from being recognized as the setting for Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s hit movie, Pretty Woman.

Convenient to Rodeo Drive shopping, the hotel has a spa, pool, Silver Spur Rolls and the acclaimed The Blvd restaurant. 

Beverly Wildshire is one of the best hotels in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills. The price per night is: $250 / adult.


3. Chamberlain West Hollywood – Condo vide with top-flight service

Settle in at the Chamberlain West Hollywood’s rooftop pool and imagine Turtle from Entourage trying not to slosh his martini as he checks out the players. When you stay at the 112-room Chamberlain you’ll feel like you’re at your own West Hollywood condo.

Nice touches in the rooms are a gas-log fireplace and private balcony. One-Bedroom Suites have separate bedrooms and big living areas with queen-size convertible sofa beds. If you’re looking for optimum natural light, request a room facing Westmount Drive at the front of the hotel.

The hotel’s American Bistro Restaurant has a great selection. If you ask nice, the chef might let you accompany him on one of his morning shopping trips to the Farmer’s Market.

Chamberlain West Hollywood is one of the best hotels in Los Angeles, West Hollywood. The price per night is: $159 / adult


4. Chateau Marmont – Hide in plain sight

Chateau Marmont is a legend of the 1920s, which hosted a cavalcade of Hollywood stars, from Robert Mitchum to Natalie Wood, but maybe its stickiest memory is laying claim to being the place where John Belushi overdosed.

The castle-like hotel was originally built as an imitation of the Chateau Amboise on the Loire in France. The hotel has sixty-three rooms, cottages and bungalows that put a premium on privacy. The heated outdoor pool is surrounded by gardens and a large sunny patio. The hotel’s Bar Marmont is a low-key favorite serving stick-to-your ribs European fare.

Harry “King” Cohn, the founder of Columbia Pictures, advised, "If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont."

Chateau Marmont is one of the best hotels in Los Angeles, West Hollywood. The price per night is: $375 / adult.