6 Must-See Wineries in the US

The travels forged by a common passion, or in this case by a common taste, often shape the best experiences. All across the United States, travelers have the opportunity to sip on award winning wines as they meander down vineyard-lined highways. If you are in need of a bit of travel inspiration to plan your next vacation, consider plotting your adventures around stops at these standout U.S. wineries.

Becker Vineyards - Stonewall, Texas

The Hill Country of Texas is quickly growing into one of the top wine producing regions in the country. One of the area’s most esteemed wineries is Becker Vineyards. Just outside of the town of Fredericksburg, Becker Vineyards sets up in a 10,000 square foot reproduction of a late 19th century German stone barn. Known for their award-winning winemaking, it is worth the stop to sip on Becker’s Cabernet-Syrah or the Provençal Rosé. The Hill Country sits in close range of both Austin and San Antonio.

Pacific Star Winery - Fort Bragg, California

In terms of must-see wineries, Pacific Star Winery could win a beauty contest both inside and out. The winery in Mendocino County in California features a redwood and stone bar nestled into a Cliffside. Due to its unique location, the winery claims the seaside perch makes for dense wines. The waves crash into the sea caves under the wine cellar, lending a natural filtering process to the wine from its sediment. Pacific Star Winery is also the nation’s westernmost winery.

Woodward Canyon - Lowden, Washington

Located in the town of Lowden, around 13 miles west of Walla Walla, Washington, Woodward Canyon occupies a tasting room made up of a restored 1870s farmhouse. Looks aren’t everything at this Washington winery. The owners, Rick and Darcey Small take pride in keeping operations intimate by only producing around 15,000 cases each year. Perched in the country’s second largest wine producing area, Woodward Canyon has made a name for its premium cellar-worthy cabernet sauvignons, merlots and chardonnays.

Paumanok Vineyards - Aquebogue, New York

If you are staying at an Extended Stay America up in New York, there are plenty of must-see wineries in the area. Long Island in particular is quickly building up a reputation for fine wines. The tip of the East End, the North and South Forks, are home to many different wineries including Paumanok Vineyards. The winery produces only small batches, fewer than 9,000 cases, to keep quality high. The 103 acre estate places an emphasis on traditional dense planting of the vineyards in order to create the best wines.

Beaulieu Vineyard - Rutherford, California

You can’t tour the country in search of the best wineries without a stop in Napa Valley. One of the area’s oldest producers of fine wine is Beaulieu Vineyard. This 1885 old-timer offers spectacular tours of its original winery. Beaulieu Vineyard is known for crafting California wines considered among the world’s finest. The philosophy behind one hundred-year-old-plus success marries technology with craftsmanship.

Barboursville Vineyards - Barboursville, Virginia

Set around two hours from Washington D.C. and just 30 minutes from Charlottesville, Barboursville Vineyards is certainly one of America’s veterans in the wine industry. The area known for being the place of the first vines in the country is home to the 18th century historic landmark manor and winery. Barboursville Vineyards boasts a Tuscan Tasting Room where you can sip on the broadest range of current vintages along with the Library 1821, home to older vintages from the vineyards. Thought of as perhaps the best winery in the area, Barboursville Vineyards has the age and fame, with Thomas Jefferson connections, to prove its worth.

 

They say don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, but for wine aficionados near and far, maybe a better saying would be don’t forget to stop and sip the wine. And of course, designate a driver or plan for transportation! 

February 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Best Offices Every Business Leader Should Tour

Too often, the word offices conjures up images of drab, boring spaces with bad lighting, beige walls and a sea of monotonous cubicles. These spaces do little to inspire and spark creativity. But if you’re a business leader or you run your own company, your office space should be a direct reflection of your brand image - it should be a space that is unique and cultivates a well-rounded, motivated employee. If you’re seeking inspiration to jazz up your office spaces, here are a few high-powered companies that have created offices worthy of being emulated.

 Epic Systems Corporation

 Located in Verona, Wisconsin, Epic Systems Corporation is a tech company that produces electronic medical records. By definition, the business might sound humdrum and boring, but Epic has lived up to its name in terms of its office space. You can take a guided tour of its facilities which include, among many other themes, highlights like an Indiana Jones inspired tunnel, a hallway masked to look like the New York City subway and even a dry cleaning shop made to look like the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, Epic boasts various style conference rooms including a tree house space and futuristic designed rooms. The company’s boardroom even resembles a log cabin. And after you’ve toured this fabulous work environment, you can stay just outside of Madison, where you can rest up at Extended Stay America while in town. Chalk full of amenities, suites make anyone feel like a CEO of a high-powered company for a day.

Facebook

If you can score a tour of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, you can experience a mini-community of creativity. Not only does Facebook boast loads of unusual wall art throughout its workspaces, but the company also appropriately outfits its employees. Employees can dine at the restaurants on site for free, take advantage of a video arcade or even go get their car fixed if they need a tune up.

Google Headquarters

Google Headquarters might not open up for tours, but if you know an employee, you are in for a treat. The site often referred to as Googleplex in Mountain View, California loads up the space with plenty of amenities for its employees. Volleyball courts, free campus bikes, gardens, tennis courts, soccer fields, a Frisbee golf course, nap pods, a bowling alley, slides and massage rooms put Google at the top of the list for being one of the best offices to work at across the country. Google Headquarters also has campus restaurants where employees can feast on breakfast, lunch and dinner without forking over a dime.

Microsoft

Microsoft has made its own small town in Redmond, Washington. Employees have the chance to use an onsite shopping mall, food courts, soccer fields and plenty of restaurants and eateries including a mini Pike Place, making it one of the best companies to be employed by in terms of work amenities. If you can’t score a tour of the offices, you can take a tour of the Microsoft Visitor Center. The visitor center boasts exhibits detailing the vision, products, culture and history of Microsoft. You can expect to see the latest Microsoft Research innovations along with the first personal computer. The Microsoft Visitor Center sits right on the Microsoft Campus.

These companies have hit the nail on the head, so to speak, when it comes to innovation and encouraging motivated, productive employees. So whether you’re a business owner or looking for a place to get your creative juices flowing, these companies are well worth taking a look at for inspiration.

 

February 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

3 Events Worth Traveling to in 2015

Each year brings resolution lists filled with must-have experiences to be checked off during the coming 365 days, before the clock strikes midnight again on yet another year. For the eternal road warrior, included are destinations that are often centered on monumental events, the kind of gatherings that every traveler wants to experience before the year runs out. If you’re searching for events and festivals to take the whole family to in 2015, ones that will live up to grand bucket list dreams, here are four gatherings that are worth the plane, train, car and bus rides to get there.

Mardi Gras

Of all the once-in-a-lifetime, must-attend events in the U.S., it doesn’t get much more iconic than Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The Big Easy is easily the place to be for Fat Tuesday. In 2015, the city hosts parades beginning on February 6th with the main event falling on February 17th. While the Carnival season in New Orleans tends to have a reputation from outsiders for not being family friendly, the city actually caters to families traveling to the event with floats, joyous music and plenty of king cake to be had. A good base for families looking to experience Mardi Gras is in Uptown New Orleans.

Taste of Chicago

If you happen to visit Chicago in the middle of July and you’re hungry, you’ll be in luck. Travelers can attend not only the city’s largest food festival but this soirée happens to be the world’s largest. Taste of Chicago has been a tradition since 1980, and it quickly became a premier outdoor food festival. The event features food and drink from local restaurants, eateries and bakeries. Set up in Grant Park on the city’s covetous lakefront, Taste of Chicago also features music and plenty of activities for the entire family. This year’s Taste of Chicago runs from July 8-12. Extended Stay America suites in Chicago make it possible to create a home away from home and enjoy all five days of the festival.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

At first you may not think you’ll find Cincinnati topping the best travel destinations list every year. However, the city comes alive each September for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. What began in 1976 to honor the city’s German heritage is now the largest Oktoberfest in North America. Around a half a million people come to town each year to partake in German food staples, polka music and even a little dancing. The event frequently breaks records with its large Chicken Dance. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati plays around across 7 stages and features 30 food vendors in the area.

Regardless of what destinations you put on your list for 2015, the true road warrior will have travel planned for the entire year - and what better time to start your list than before the clock strikes midnight! Cheers to exploration and safe travels!

February 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

3 Places to Visit on your Business Trip to LA

Los Angeles has long been a mecca for businesses every year to convene for meetings at its financial centers and high tech companies. This prime spot for business travelers brings in a plethora of suits and briefcases to the City of Angels, though the trips are usually brief and busy. But just because you don’t have a lot of time to explore Los Angeles on your business trip, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the city has to offer, and trust us, it has a lot. What you do need is a clear-cut guide of must-see places. In a city the size of Los Angeles, it can be a difficult task finding little excursions that will fit into the brief moments you have in between meetings. For business travelers in Los Angeles, try to make the time for these hit LA staples - ones that won’t cost you much money or time to see but will in turn provide a top notch view of the city outside of the boardroom.

The Getty Center

When you are on a business trip to LA, you don’t always have the time to take in all of the must-see museums or galleries. However, the Getty Center makes it easy with its one-stop shop for art, architecture, gardens and views. Overlooking downtown Los Angeles, the coastline and the surrounding mountains, the Getty Center features a permanent collection of European paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. When you are stuck inside all day at business meetings, you’re sure to appreciate an escape to the Getty Center’s Central Garden for a little greenery. The Central Garden boasts tree-lined walkways and more than 500 plant varieties along with several sub-gardens and fountains. The building itself, the phenomenal work of architect Richard Meier, is something to marvel at.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

For business travelers, there isn’t always time to soak up the local culture. However, a quick 30-minute trip west to the Venice Beach Boardwalk provides a window into LA’s hippie side. Also referred to as Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk, the boardwalk is an essential component to LA’s seaside experience. Loaded with street performers, jugglers, acrobats and mimes, the space makes for a good place to people watch after those business meetings have concluded. In addition to street performers, the boardwalk also features funky shops, restaurants and uniquely designed residences. It is easily one of the most popular destinations to visit on your LA trip.

The Original Farmers Market

Located at Third and Fairfax, the Original Farmers Market has been a Los Angeles tradition since 1934. Originally just a dozen farmers and merchants began selling their produce and wares at the spot, but idea that quickly morphed into Los Angeles’ daily open-air party, an essential component to a trip to LA. With a certain quirky and funky edge, the market hosts some of the city’s finest butchers, fishmongers and produce. If you are staying at an Extended Stay America in Los Angeles, you can pick up tasty items to prepare a home cooked meal in your private kitchen. The Original Farmers Market is free to enter and runs Monday through Friday from 9AM to 9PM, Saturday from 9AM to 8PM and Sunday from 10AM to 7AM. 

Next time you’re on that business trip to LA, be sure to carve out a few minutes for some downtime and sight seeing. You’ll be glad you did!

February 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Top 10 Sunny Vacation Destinations to Escape Winter

While pegged as the most wonderful time of year, the winter months can lead to cold weather blues. With each falling snowflake, swimsuit weather seems like a far off dream. In some parts of the country, snow is a curiosity that seldom, if ever, occurs. The temperatures stay mild and warm throughout the winter months, making for prime winter destinations. To beat the cold, try to escape to these idyllic and sunny vacation destinations in the winter.

Los Angeles, CA

If you’ve been to the Golden Coast in winter, then you know that a coat in Los Angeles is really more of a light sweater. If you want to flee below zero temperatures at home, Los Angeles makes for an easy warm weather escape. There are plenty of beaches to roam and nearby seaside communities to explore. If you are traveling with the whole family, Los Angeles has plenty of museums and theme parks to keep everyone happy.

Atlanta, GA

There is a reason why birds fly south for the winter. Balmy temperatures in America’s south translate to sunny vacation destinations to beat the cold. Atlanta in particular doesn’t disappoint. It might not be your traditional sunny getaway with sandy beaches and turquoise waters, but the city yields parks aplenty to enjoy the great outdoors, like Stone Mountain. Families will also appreciate its legendary museums and attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and the Coca Cola Museum.

Orlando, FL

Situated in central Florida, Orlando is the perfect southern getaway for the holiday season. Post-hurricane season, which ends in September, the dry and cool winter months can prove to be a calm, mid-70s temperate retreat where you can hang your hat for a long weekend or extended vacation. Home to the famed Walt Disney World, its nickname of “The Theme Park Capital of the World” is well-earned.

Maui, HI

To truly feel like you are nowhere near snow and ice, Maui, Hawaii is the epitome of the tropics. Littered with cute towns, organic cuisines, sparkling beaches and out of this world sunsets, Maui is an easy choice for a warm weather getaway in the dead of winter.

San Diego, CA

It has only snowed a handful of times in San Diego over the last 150 years. For travelers seeking sun, that’s a pretty good statistic. Pockets of the city and neighboring communities such as La Jolla and Coronado present once-in-a lifetime experiences, like spotting whale migrations, during the winter months. There are also over a dozen museums to visit in Balboa Park alone.

Miami, FL

When most of the country is blanketed in snow, Miami is almost laughing out loud at your weather report. Down the Florida coast, this metropolis is enjoying perfectly warm temperatures and sandy beaches. From peddling along the oceanfront by bike to taking in Miami’s Art Deco architecture, the city lends an idyllic sunny escape.

Scottsdale, AZ

In terms of tropical vacations, Scottsdale, Arizona probably isn’t on the list. It might not be tropical, but the area known as the Valley of the Sun doesn’t get its nickname for nothing. If you are in need of a winter thawing, Scottsdale answers with its desert-like conditions. When you aren’t hanging by a pool or playing 18 holes, you can visit a wealth of cultural attractions such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and the Musical Instrument Museum.

Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf Shores won’t rival the likes of Miami and Los Angeles in size, but it’s generally balmy in the winter months. The small community sits on the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama with its powder soft sandy beaches. Bird watching, state parks, golf courses and even swimming are all possible in Gulf Shores.

Palm Springs, CA

When you are in search of warm weather vacations, the beach frequently comes to mind. However, Palm Springs, California should be on your list simply for its pleasant temperatures. This desert town experiences a very mild winter, making it possible to dine outdoors while feasting on the city’s rich food scene. You can also make the climb up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or, of course, you can always just sip a beverage and lounge by the pool.

Charleston, SC

A visit to Charleston, South Carolina in the winter can offer a touch of warmth and a dash of old world charm. The city infects with a rich history, seen through its architecture and attractions. Being by the water also allows you to dip your toes in for a taste of what summer once felt like before all of the parkas, ice and snow banks.

From the shores of Florida to the California coast, Extended Stay America hotels are conveniently located in all of your favorite warm weather destinations. You can take a dip in the hotel pool, relax with some premium television channels or simply enjoy the extra space each suite has. 

January 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Reasons Why You Need AAA For Your Next Road Trip

Flat tires, dead batteries, expensive hotels, even running out of gas can all plague the road-tripper. While road trips can be appealing for their cost savings, they can also be met with several bumps in that proverbial road. Founded in 1902, AAA, also known as the American Automobile Association, set out to help travelers with those bumps. The company provides different memberships that, for an annual fee, give travelers the peace of mind knowing they have someone to call when their safety and security on the road is called into question. Providing members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive services, many road trippers carry a AAA membership every time they hit the pavement for the benefits they receive. If you aren’t a member, here are a few reasons why you might want to join before your next road trip.

 

1. Expansive Coverage

If you’re taking a cross-country road trip, the last place you want to be is stranded due to car trouble. One of the benefits for travelers who do have a AAA membership is that they don’t have to worry about trying to get help in places they aren’t familiar. AAA membership covers you across the U.S. and Canada. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the territory, there is a constant reassurance in knowing you can call for help no matter where you are.

 

2. Hotel Discounts

Having a AAA membership goes beyond the uses for your vehicle. You can also often score hotel deals when you book reservations using your AAA card. Many hotel chains like Extended Stay America offer discounts on hotel rates to AAA members. Having a AAA card may allow you to enjoy saving here and there on your hotel nights.

 

3. Roadside Assistance

While of you hope your family road trip won’t be filled with any unexpected breakdowns, car trouble frequently throws a vacation into a tailspin. Having a AAA membership lends members nationwide road service, 24 hours a day. Many common problems on a road trip such as a flat tire or a dead battery can be solved in an instant if you are a member. If you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, it’s nice to know that someone can come help you get on your way again.

 

4. Towing

Depending on your AAA membership level, you may be entitled to towing services. For business travel, this can be essential when you need to get on your way quickly. Waiting for a tow can be the most maddening (and time consuming) part of unexpected roadside troubles. AAA memberships offer towing services, generally a set number per member and to a set distance. You can always pay extra if your tow exceeds the mileage limit.

 

5. More Travel Deals

In addition to hotel discounts, AAA memberships also produce discounts on restaurants, entertainment and even car rentals. Road warriors often find the journey can still be an expensive vacation once you account for gas, eating out and accommodations. By having a membership, travelers going by car can save throughout most areas of their road trip spending.


 

January 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)