When I was invited on a combination staycation and quick getaway by Kimpton Hotels I quickly said yes. These boutique properties are among my favorite places to stay, especially since they welcome dogs of all sizes and breeds. That meant my golden retriever Carlos could come with me.
The Hotel Wilshire in Los Angeles' midcity district is just a few blocks from my home, so I walked down there for lunch at The Roof. This is one of LA's hidden gems. The views are spectacular, as is the food by Chef Eric Greenspan, an Iron Chef America champion. He elevated the grilled cheese; gruyere with date marmalade served on chewy sourdough bread.
That evening Carlos and I checked into the Hotel Palomar in Westwood. Our suite was spacious and well appointed, including doggie bowls and biscuits for a very appreciative pup. While Carlos enjoyed his treats, I went down to Blvd 16 for a farm-to-table dinner prepared by Chef Richard Hodge. On my to-do list: replicating his cauliflower salad with crispy garbanzo beans.
The next morning Kathy A. McDonald, a frequent contributor to the magazine, joined me for the drive to Santa Barbara's gorgeous Canary Hotel. While I strolled into town for some shopping, Kathy took advantage of the Canary's Urban Wine Trail, a self-guided bicycle tour. Here's Kathy's account of that adventure:
The Urban Wine Trail by Bike
Perched right out front is the Canary Hotel’s fleet of bright yellow, beach cruiser-style bikes available for group rides. Head towards the ocean via a dedicated bike lane on State Street (the main thoroughfare); it’s an easy ride for most levels and provides a charming street-side view of downtown Santa Barbara. Within an approximately two mile radius of the hotel is the city’s Urban Wine Trail and 23 wine tasting rooms that present a taste of Santa Barbara’s famed wine country right in town.
Close to the beach, the Funk Zone was is a natural first stop: the industrial area is in the midst of a makeover as more tasting rooms and restaurants, like newly popular The Lark, which opened in August, transform former industrial spaces into eateries, art galleries and both a distillery and brewery. At Kunin Wines, one of the first tasting rooms to open in the area, our group of nine tasted through the spring releases. Pours are small so the visits are more about learning about wines and styles available, which ultimately facilitated a lively conversation amongst the group.
Several tasting rooms (such as Municipal Winemakers) have private rooms for group tastings and Conway Family Wines Deep Sea tasting room (on the Stearns Wharf with arguably one of the best views of the coastline) welcomes group events. Although the ride back is slightly uphill to the hotel, it is not strenuous and after several winery stops, pleasant and painless.