Archive | June, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio – Oak Park, IL

23 Jun

You have got to go here…Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio!

For a few years I was traveling to Chicago regularly for business, but always took time out to do a little exploring.  On one particular trip I was joined by my husband and friend and thankfully we discovered a gem – thanks David for doing the leg work!

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is located in Oak Park, Il – a super quaint and beautiful suburb of Chicago.  To get there, hop on public transportation from wherever you are – we took the “L” from downtown Chicago and it dropped us off right in town.  Everything is in walking distance so no need to worry about paying for any more transportation.  Another great thing is that the town is very easy to manuever , so get lost for fun – you never know what you may discover!

Our first stop was BREAKFAST, we proceeded to The Original Pancake House, there are a lot of restaurants so pick something that fits your fancy!  After getting some grub we were ready to delight in architectural wonder and boy did we.  On our walk to the home and studio I was amazed, no I was mesmerized, by all the Frank Lloyd Wright homes (and one church) in such a small area.  To me, Wright was a genius and to see his work like this was phenomenal, I really can’t explain how cool it was!

One of the first pieces of work I stumbled on was actually a church – The Unity Temple.  Make sure to walk around the whole building as the details are amazing…when you are ready, proceed:)!

In my opinion there is really no wrong way to walk around this town to the Wright Home and Studio – any which way you go will lead you past many fine examples of his work.  Always keep your eyes open as you never know what kind of wonder you may see!

At some point during the day make sure that you do visit the home and studio as the inside is just as gorgeous as the outside.  I also personally enjoyed learning about the history of Wright.  Take your time and enjoy the sites as you may never see as many of his works all together like this again.

On a side note, the cost to enter the home and studio is $15 and well worth it.   There are also several other Wright buildings you can visit in the Chicago area – if you are interested, you can find more information here.  Also, don’t rush out-of-town when you are done, there are tons of unique little shops to visit – May I suggest The Irish Shop?  You will also regret it if you don’t stop by Petersen’s Ice Cream Parlour for a scoop of fresh local ice cream!

Happy Wrighting!

Crystal

Orange County Zoo

20 Jun


You have got to go here…Orange County Zoo!

Let me preface by saying – this is NOT the Santa Ana Zoo.  The Orange County Zoo is located inside Irvine Regional Park (I could write a whole other post about this awesome park!)  Also, if you don’t have kids you can still go here!  I am in my thirties, have no children but love to explore new places – yes, I often visit places that only kids are supposed to like.  I am here to erase that stigma, adults can do kids stuff too!

This zoo is very clean and the displays make it easy to see the animals, but the best part in my opinion is the petting zoo!  They have an assortment of animals that you can feed for as long as you want.  Food is $.25 a handful so bring plenty of quarters.




As you wander throughout the zoo you will find they have some pretty cool creatures – bald eagles, bears, mountain lions, bobcats and a variety of surprises!  One really neat thing about this zoo is that most of these animals are native to Southern California, so you just might see one on a hike – but be careful:)!

The zoo is not very big, so take your time, enjoy the scenery and learn about the animals.  There are also many programs that visitors can take part in, so check their website for all the current happenings.

On a side note, it is $3.00 (per carload) to the enter the park and $3.00 (per person) to enter the zoo.  There are limited refreshment stands in the park, so if you plan to stay a while  bring your own snacks, water or lunch!

Happy Animal Watching,

Crystal

Historic Greystone Mansion and Park

16 Jun

You have got to go here…Historic Greystone Mansion and Park!

Visits to the Greystone Mansion are a tradition for me.  Any time I am in L.A. I always stop by to say “Hi”.

My mom began bringing me to the mansion when I was young as a treat.  I will always remember the first time I laid eyes on this hidden gem.  It is grand and beautiful – a place where a child’s imagination can run wild and until this day mine still does.

This is a great place to bring kids, or a date, but my favorite time here is when I am all alone.

I always get excited when I drive off Sunset and on to Doheny as I know I am close (be careful when looking for the driveway as it easy to miss.)  The long and winding road leads you to ample parking and a great overlook of the grounds.

I usually head straight down the historic steps to the mansion.  Thoughts run through my mind – dreaming of whose footprints stood where I am in the heyday of the mansion or what kind of secret rendezvous took place at the pool.  No matter how many times I visit, I always write a new story.

At the mansion, be sure to look through the front door…I am sure you will recognize the black and white checkered pattern from a few movies and music videos.  Leisurely make your way around the house, stop and see the sun-bathing turtles, take a deep breath on the patio – enjoy the view!  Make sure to throughly look at the mansion, the architecture is amazing and awe inspiring…every time you go I can guarantee you will discover something new.

There are several gardens to visit, the stairs on either side of the house lead you to two separate locations.  Visit both as they are stunning and different in their own ways.  Also around the grounds are picnic areas – don’t forget your lunch as relaxing and enjoying the scenery is a must when visiting.

I can not tell you all the people who have lived in the L.A. area their whole life and never knew this treasure was here.  As much as I like to keep this serenity in the middle of all the chaos to myself, I can’t imagine not sharing it with others.

So this is my gift to you – The Greystone Mansion and Park!  Visit often, learn its history and let your imagination run wild!

The park is open daily and is free to all visitors.  There are several events that allow you to tour the inside of the mansion, please visit their calendar for more info.

Happy  Imagining,

Crystal

 

Cabrillo National Monument

13 Jun

You have got to go here…Cabrillo National Monument!

I have lived in California my whole life and had never been to the Cabrillo National Monument on the Point Loma Peninsula (near San Diego) until this year.  My husband and I are frequent travelers to San Diego, but wanted to do something we had never done – thankfully we discovered Cabrillo!

First, the drive there is very cool…looking at the houses in the quaint neighborhoods surrounding Cabrillo was an adventure on its own.  I suggest stopping at Charlie’s Best Bread Bakery  in Point Loma to grab a picnic lunch for the day.  After you get some yummy treats for the day proceed through Naval Base Point Loma (It is always very cool to be on an Armed Forces Base, there is so many neat things to see – keep your eyes open) to the national monument.

The entrance fee to the park is a mere $5.00 per car load.  Once inside your adventure can begin.  We started at the visitor’s center to get the lay of the land, learn about the history of the monument and get a smashed penny of course.  From there you can take a short walk and see the Cabrillo Statue – which also gives you an amazing view of Coronado Island, Old Point Loma Lighthouse (you can actually go in and get a feel for what it was like to live in an lighthouse – the spiral stair case to the third floor is AWESOME!), and the Military Exhibit.  If you want to be a little more adventurous, take a hike via the 2-mile Bayside Trail.

WAIT! You are not done yet, drive down to the Tidepools and discover amazing ocean creatures!

Cabrillo National Monument is a great place to spend an inexpensive day with the family or with a date.  The views are breath-taking and the discoveries are endless – grab some water and go exploring!

Happy Trailblazing,

Crystal

Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour

11 Jun

You have got to go here…Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour!

Of course you go to Bourbon Street when you are in New Orleans, but may I suggest something a little more adventurous?  Ever since I visited the Everglades I have been obsessed with alligators, so I knew that when I went to the Big Easy there would be a swamp tour involved.

You may say “Why would I want to spend an afternoon with big bugs, gators and mystery creatures?”  My answer is: because an afternoon with big bugs, gators and mystery creatures in the swamps of Louisiana is amazing and a once in a lifetime experience.

After doing research, I chose the Honey Island Swamp Tour by Cajun Encounters because it offered a AAA discount:)  Upon arrival at the dock, it was exactly how I had hoped and imagined – a true swamp (not something that was created for tourists like Disneyland) full of greenery, downed tress and water full of cool creatures!

The boats are nothing fancy, they are small and sleek as to maneuver the canals – our captain was awesome, he knew exactly where the gators were.  We also saw turtles, wild hogs and a variety of birds all living in harmony – I think :).  While the animal life was awesome, I discovered that the thrill of just being in the swamp was much more exciting.  Speeding down the main vein of the river was exhilirating…there were so many different routes to take, no two tours are ever the same!  AND there is a real Cajun Village on the tour…this area is only accessible by boat – it is truly something that you have probably never seen.

This is an adventure you don’t want to miss…so put down the Hurricane for a few hours and see the real Louisiana:)

Side notes: Bring sunscreen, bug spray and water!

Happy Gator Huntin’,

Crystal

 

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

11 Jun

You have got to go here…Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge!

As I was in yoga today thinking about how it challenges and pushes me I was reminded of a place I visited in North Vancouver – Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge – that did the same thing.  When planning our trip to Canada several people told me that we had to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge, but after doing some research I discovered that there was a bridge just as cool (and frightening – in a good way) and it was FREE!

The pictures of the bridge were beautiful, but to be honest they did not do the scenery justice.  The park is located in a quaint North Vancouver neighborhood, it is truly a hidden gem.

Upon arriving, I started to get butterflies in my stomach as I was doing something I had never done before…walking over a swinging bridge that sits 164 feet above a canyon.  When I arrived at the beginning of the bridge I almost chickened out, but I am so glad that I didn’t (although to be honest it took me several attempts to get across:).)  The bridge, which has been open since 1912, was in perfect condition.  The view of the canyon from the middle was amazing – everything was so lush and green.  The roaring of the river was so soothing, you almost forget that you are suspended in the air.

Had it not been for the school groups running back and forth over the bridge (get there early if you would like to avoid this in the summer) I could have stayed on the bridge soaking everything in much longer.

Don’t be afraid to hold on, AND don’t be afraid to make the trip across the bridge…you will be glad you did it!

On a side note, there are also many hiking trails – there is also a secret side gate (make it a game to find it) you can enter that leads to a trail…we were surprised to find wild blackberries along the way!

Side notes: There is ample parking, a gift store, a cafe…AND did I mention it is Free!  Bring a picnic if you would like:)

Happy Swinging,

Crystal

 

Happy Acres Family Farm

8 Jun

You have got to here…Happy Acres Family Farm!

On a recent camping trip I had been told about a goat farm in Templeton, CA that made the most amazing goat cheese.  Fresh goat cheese was all I and to hear; I was destined to find this place!

Happy Acres Farm is located on a picturesque tree-lined street.  You may miss the sign, but you can’t miss the goats.

Upon arrival I was torn as to where to head first–country store or cute goats.  As it almost always does, shopping won out!  The store was simple, clean and full of fresh goat milk products.  Of course there is goat cheese in a variety of flavors, but the family also makes lotion (I purchased some lotion and loved it), soap, bubble bath, and face wash all from their own goats milk and recipe.  If there isn’t someone there to take your money, no worries–leave it in the honor box.  Make sure you leave the right amount as the chickens are watching!

Next, I needed to give some love to the adorable goats.  There is a bucket of (FREE) peanuts right outside the store.  Grab a handful and head to the fence, by the time you get there a line of furry friends will be waiting for you.  There is no rush feeding the goats, take as much time, and peanuts, as you want enjoying the company.

When I was leaving I found out that if you book in advance you can take a tour of the farm, milk your own goat and make your own goat cheese for a fee.  

For a nice inexpensive family day or romantic date (bring a picnic lunch), I highly suggest visiting this wonderful farm.  The hospitality of the family and the hundreds of goats will warm your heart.

Happy Farming,

Crystal