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March 9, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Millennial Travelers in 2014: Some Travel Apps to Enrich your Trip Experience

Travel Apps for the ‘Always Connected’ Voyager

By Camino Inn and Suites
Young Millennial Traveler playing with his smartphone
Millennial travelers use travel apps to make it easier when they are away from home. Even if you could find an old-fashioned paper map to find your way to your hotel, why go through all of the trouble? Just pick up your smartphone and you can get turn-by-turn directions to any destination of your choice. Many of the best travel apps are free and others have a small charge. If you are traveling in 2014, you may find it very helpful to download some of these handy apps to your smartphone.

Getting connected

Don’t worry about finding a wireless connection when you want or need to get on the Internet. Free WiFi connections are widely available in most urban areas and using an app can make it very easy to find a WiFi hot spot. Instead of leaving it up to luck, you can find a nearby public place to access the Internet by either accessing a directory or using a WiFi scanner to find a café, library or other spot that offers free WiFi.

WiFi Finder by JiWire and Free Zone by Movile International, are two good choices.

Once you have established a WiFi connection, you may want to send texts, pictures or videos to your friends. As long as you add your friends to your contact list, you can share your travel experience for free, anywhere in the world, with the WhatsApp Messenger.

Finding your way around town

Google Maps is an excellent app to use to find the location of local restaurants and attractions. Connect to the Internet, put in your location, and get a street map showing you how to get to your destination.

Roadtrippers is an easy-to-use app that provides an abundance of useful information for the traveler. Whether you are visiting a specific city or taking a two-week sight-seeing vacation from San Francisco to San Diego, you will enjoy this power-packed app. Plot your course and plan your days by finding all of the attractions along the way.

Booking a hotel room

Part of the fun of traveling is having the freedom to act spontaneously and not have to stick to a strict travel itinerary. If you want to wake up at noon and spend the day shopping for antiques, you can do it. If you want to go on a wine-tasting tour, you can do that. For many young travelers in their twenties and thirties, that spirit of adventure means getting in the car and driving along the open road.

A fun travel app that is rapidly growing in popularity is Hotel Tonight. With this same-day hotel booking app, you can book a room on the same day that you want to stay in the room. If the idea of spending the day hiking in the mountains hits you at 9:00 am in the morning, you can book a hotel room that will be ready for check-in at 3:00 pm in the afternoon. Using the Snapchat feature, users can share hotel photos with others. Hotel Tonight is available in 17 countries and has more than 5,000 hotel partners in its growing network.

CheckMate is an app that helps you avoid any delays when you check-in to a hotel. You can use your smartphone to check-in before you actually arrive. The app tells the hotel manager how far you are from the hotel and allows time to prepare your room and take care of all the paperwork before you get to the property. Once you walk-in the front door, all you have to do is get the key from the front desk and head up to your room.

Finding a good place to eat

Your vacation or business trip will always be more memorable if you can include a few special places to eat. Instead of eating at the chain restaurants you can find near home, why not try some local restaurants that come highly recommended by your fellow diners.

LocalEats helps you find the best local restaurants across the USA and in some international cities as well. You won’t find any chain restaurants, but you will find local restaurants organized by price, neighborhood and the type of cuisine served. All restaurants are reviewed by the Local Eats staff and restaurants do not pay, and can not influence, the reviews.

Another very comprehensive restaurant app that will help you find a great place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, is Urbanspoon. With more than 800,000 restaurants to choose from, you will have no problem finding a restaurant in your price range that serves the kind of food you crave. Part of the fun of this app is that you can create a “My Urbanspoon” profile and share pictures and reviews with your friends for each of the restaurants you visit.

Other useful travel apps 

If you are not fluent in the native language that is spoken wherever your travels may take you, it is helpful to have an app that can act as your own personal interpreter. Google Translate can translate text or the spoken word into dozens of foreign languages. Another highly recommended translation app is called iHandy Translator. This free app has voice recognition capabilities, works fast and translates into 52 different foreign languages.

How much should you tip when you are in a foreign country? Tipping Bird takes the guesswork out of the equation so you do not over or under-tip for service.

Another problem that is easily solved with a convenient little app is currency exchange issues. When you are traveling abroad, you can convert your currency to the native currency. Xe is simple to use and converts all of the popular currencies, including Bitcoin into dollars, or your native currency.

When traveling in the United States or abroad, having your smartphone by your side is practically standard procedure. Enrich your travel experience and save valuable time by downloading the best travel apps before you leave on your next business or pleasure trip.

Copyright ©2014 - All Rights Reserved 


February 27, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Innovative Travel Ideas for Silicon Valley

Traveling is common in Silicon Valley, so in order to get ahead it is important to be thoroughly prepared for your journey with a plan and smart packing.

Travel Ideas - Dreams photos

Between tourism and business, people from all over the world are drawn to Silicon Valley. There are world class attractions, and some of the most vibrant businesses are based in the area. Because of this, Silicon Valley is teeming with life and innovation.

While everyone knows how much there is to do in this Northern California hot spot, not enough people know how to travel effectively in the area. With so much energy and focus, travel throughout the valley should be more efficient than anywhere else in California. In order to fully enjoy your time in Silicon Valley, it is important to be thoroughly prepared for the trip.

If you have a trip to Silicon Valley in the future, consider the following travel tips to make your experience fast, convenient and safe.

Making a Plan for 2014

The best way to streamline your travel in Silicon Valley is to plan carefully. Every traveler should book their flight and arrange their accommodations before they leave in order to avoid as many delays and complications as possible. However, the way you plan your trip can have a big impact on how efficient the overall experience is.

Modern travelers do much of their planning online, which is a great way to expedite the process. There are many websites and apps that can facilitate such arrangements. However, it is not just a question of booking your travel plans online. You should also organize your travel details online. All travel information should be centralized for easier access. Too many people have their flight information in one app and their accommodations in an email. Trying to pull these disparate pieces together on the go is easier said than done. Instead, use a comprehensive travel app that takes the necessary information and streamlines it into a single plan. This way, all travel details are in one place, which can easily be accessed on the go.

Getting Packed in 2014

Any time you are away from home, luggage is inevitable. However, too many travelers take far more than they need to survive. The fact is that traveling in Silicon Valley does not require all the comforts of home, and one of the best ways to save time and hassles is to pack smart.

There is a difference between packing light and packing smart. Packing light simply reduces the amount of things in your luggage. Packing smart, on the other hand, is about picking the right things to make a real difference in your travel experience. When possible, it is best to minimize your luggage to a carry-on, which means space is of the essence. To accomplish this, travelers should consider versatile clothing that is both wrinkle-free and fast drying. This way, it is possible to reuse the same clothing while traveling, which can minimize how much is needed. Taking lightweight, affordable technology is another good method, and try not to take redundant items. If you can use your phone for the Internet, do not bring your tablet as well.

Selecting the right luggage can also make a difference. Lightweight and versatile pieces are best, and many Silicon Valley frequent fliers like backpacks with rollers.

Arriving at the Airport

Knowing how to cut corners is essential for efficient travel. However, your airport arrival time is never the place for that. In the modern security climate, there is no way to arrive at the airport last minute without complications. Instead, go early to the airport. This is the best way to avoid cumbersome lines and to minimize your stress on the go. This way, a delay at security is not that big of deal, and there is no risk of missing your flight. Although airports may not be your first choices for places to hang out, they are perfectly adequate for reading a good book or getting some extra work done.

If you can, avoid parking fees at the airport by renting a car to and from the airport. While taxis are available, there are also new zipcar services that are popular in Silicon Valley.

These simple measures can have a sizable impact on your travel experience in Silicon Valley.

Copyright ©2014 - All Rights Reserved 


February 27, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Three Great Events, One Great Destination.

With so much to do at the Santa Clara Convention Center this spring, be sure to book your room at the Camino Inn and Suites in Mountain View.

Auditorium Santa Clara, California

Auditorium Santa Clara, California

Silicon Valley is always bustling with activity. In fact, the coming months are particularly busy, especially at the Santa Clara Convention Center. With a wide range of meeting spaces available, the Santa Clara Convention Center is a great destination. Located in downtown Santa Clara, there are plenty of options for recreation and accommodation surrounding the center, making a trip especially easy to plan.

Just consider the three following events this spring.

1. Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Show.
This yearly event gathers some of the most notable collectors along the West Coast. With almost 80 dealers on hand, avid collectors and novices are all sure to find something to pique their interest. Guests can peruse the booths, looking at collectible American coins and rare currencies from around the world. Stamps and other collectibles will also be available, and guests can both buy and sell during their time at the show. To facilitate sales, appraisals will be available. This year’s show will start on April 25 and run through April 27. Early bird access will be available on April 24 for an additional fee.

2. The Son-Rise Program. The Son-Rise Program is an exciting three-day event, designed to empower those who work with kids on the Autism spectrum. For years, the Son-Rise Program has utilized hands-on approaches that are based on the best psychological understanding of Autism disorders. With this knowledge, people who attend the Son-Rise Program will learn how to better interact with kids on the Autism spectrum, getting tips and encouragement to take development to the next level. The Son-Rise Program is sponsored by Move Autism, Inc. Although Son-Rise Programs take place in various locations, the San Francisco Bay Area will hold their next program on April 25. Registration is still open, and anyone who knows or works with a child on the Autism spectrum is encouraged to attend. This year’s event will feature one of the first children who participated in the program, Raun Kaufman.

3. Ethernet Technology Summit. As technology continues to evolve, it is important to stay connected to the latest developments. This is why the Ethernet Technology Summit is such an important event for those in the technology industry. For three days, the industry experts will be in attendance, giving everyone a chance to see the latest technologies, connect with other industry leaders and buy or sell as needed. Two of the days will include informational seminars about Software-Defined Networking and OpenFlow. Attendees can also participate in full-day forums about 40/100/400 GbE and convergence. Other educational opportunities include a VC Forum, a session on market research and a tutorial about shortest path bridging. Whether you are interested in buying, selling or just learning all you can about the latest advancements, the Ethernet Technology Summit is the place to be. The 2014 event will start on April 29 and last until May 2.

From the latest technologies to the human touch of Autism to the old fashion art of coin collecting, there is an event for everyone this April at the Santa Clara Convention Center. If you are considering a trip, be sure to book your hotel now. Fortunately, there are still rooms available at the Camino Inn and Suites. Located in Mountain View, California, the Camino Inn and Suites is mere minutes from the convention center. Better still, it has some of the best room rates in all of Silicon Valley.

Therefore, make your travel arrangements and book a room at the Camino Inn and Suites today.

Copyright ©2014 - All Rights Reserved 


February 9, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Best Restaurants Near Stanford For Budget-Conscious Students & Visitors

restaurants-Stanford-oldchart1979Before they began their careers and gained fame and fortune, people like Sandra Day O’Connor, John Elway, Phil Knight and Sigourney Weaver, were students at Stanford University. Like almost all undergraduates, they ate at the campus dining halls and at inexpensive restaurants near Stanford. While the Supreme Court Justice, Super Bowl winning quarterback, founder of Nike, and Oscar-winning actress may never have been penniless college students, they were not multimillionaires either. Like their classmates, they ate at sandwich shops, hamburger joints, pizza parlors, and other neighborhood eateries.

While the names and owners of many of the restaurants around Stanford have changed over the years, the need for inexpensive dining options for budget-conscious students and visitors has not. If you are visiting Silicon Valley and are near Stanford, you have many great choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can always find the national chain restaurants, but it is more fun to be a little adventurous and try some of the locally owned eateries. Following are some of the best places to eat near Stanford.


Coupa Cafe – 571 Escondido Mall
Located by the Green Library, breakfast is reasonably priced and available all day. Outdoor seating allows you to people watch as you start your day off with a large cup of steaming hot coffee. A favorite breakfast beverage at Coupa Cafe is the Spicy Maya mocha, a delicious hot chocolate drink. Espresso, organic teas, fruit smoothies and a good old glass of fresh orange juice are some of your other drink options. You can’t go wrong with the fresh-baked pastries. Try a chocolate croissant or maybe order a sweet and savory breakfast crepe. How about some waffles or pancakes with fresh strawberries and bananas?
The menu is extensive and you can get a satisfying breakfast for well under $10. Eat outside or place an order to go.

Tootsie’s at the Stanford Barn – 700 Welch Road
Breakfast is prepared Italian style and it is delicious! You can choose to eat inside the red brick building or, on a nice California day, enjoy your breakfast under an umbrella at one of the outdoor tables. You can always tell a good restaurant by their bread. Taste the real butter flavor as you bite into a freshly baked, still warm, croissant. The breakfast panino is a menu favorite and includes spinach, cheese and a fried egg on a ciabatta roll. Tootsie’s makes homemade scones and granola and fantastic ricotta pancakes. You can get traditional coffee, espresso, hot chocolate or tea to go along with your meal and you won’t find a better cup of cappuccino anywhere else in the Silicon Valley.


Fambrini’s Terrace Cafe – 2600 El Camino Real
While you do have to walk up a flight of stairs to order your lunch, the fabulous sandwiches, salads and stews would be worth the climb even if Fambrini’s was on the fifth floor. They always have a daily special and every sandwich is packed with flavor. The portions are very generous and if you are not starving, you can share a sandwich with a friend. Favorite sandwiches include the signature Fab sandwich, the tri-tip pastrami on Dutch crumb bread, and the mango chicken. If you don’t feel like a sandwich, you can select the Hungarian stew or the Cobb salad. Enjoy your lunch outdoors on the spacious terrace!

Cheese Steak Shop – 2305-B El Camino Real
If you are craving a mouth-watering cheese steak sandwich and are 2,500 miles west of Philadelphia, you can’t go wrong at the Cheese Steak Shop. Choose a 7, 10 or 15 inch version of California’s version of the Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich. Sink your teeth into the perfect combination of steak, onions, sweet green peppers, and gooey provolone cheese on a fresh sub roll. Add some curly fries or onion rings and a drink of your choice. It is not a fancy place, but the food will make you happy!

Jeffrey’s Hamburgers – 888 El Camino Real
If you feel like a hamburger, Jeffrey’s serves juicy and delicious Angus beef burgers made just the way you like. While just a little more expensive than the big hamburger chains, you will notice the difference in taste. How about a burger with your favorite toppings, an order of sweet potato fries and a root beer float?

Patxi’s Pizza – 441 Emerson Street
Chicago-style deep dish pizza is their specialty and they do it right. Pies have just the right kind of crust- not too thin and not too thick. If you are in the mood for a good pizza, come on down o Paxti’s and order a pie. You can eat-in, pick-up or call for delivery.


China Delight – 461 Emerson Street
It is hard to find a decent place where you can get dinner for two in Palo Alto for about $20, but it is possible at China Delight. Table service is excellent and you have a wide variety of entrees and appetizers from which to choose. Start with a bowl of wonton soup and maybe order a pepper steak dinner. Try the sweet and sour chicken. The combination fried rice and spring rolls are delicious.

Palo Alto Sol – 408 S. California Avenue
One of the best places for authentic Mexican cuisine, you might have to wait in line for a few minutes before you can be seated for dinner. Family owned and operated, Palo Alto Sol serves the best enchiladas in town. Try the steak fajitas, tacos, salads and other menu items. Whether you like mild, spicy, or something in-between, you have your choice of three different salsas. The restaurant includes a full bar and is suitable for both couples and families alike. Great food and great atmosphere!

Lyfe Kitchen – 167 Hamilton Avenue
Founded by a former top executive of McDonald’s, the Lyfe Kitchen brings a new concept to the fast-food or quick service restaurant. The mission is to provide healthy and fresh dining choices to Vegans, Vegetarians and those that also include meat, poultry and fish in their diet. Patrons can order their food at the counter and seat themselves in the restaurant. Menus are coded so items are easily identified for Vegans and Vegetarians or for those who are on a gluten-free diet. Produce is locally sourced, organic fruits and vegetables are used as much as possible, and the chicken and beef are all free-range. You can choose soups, salads, tofu, chicken and salmon, all prepared with your health in mind. The menu has been prepared by leading chefs and flavor is never sacrificed. You will be surprised not only by the delicious tasting entrees, but also by the surprisingly low prices.

These are just a few of the many affordable places where you can enjoy a nice meal. Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, but less than five miles away is the city of Mountain View. If you are coming to visit Stanford, be sure to visit Mountain View. Some of the best and most affordable restaurants are just a 5 or 10 minute drive, straight down El Camino Real.

If you are planning to stay for a few days, the most affordable places to stay in the area are in Mountain View. The El Camino Inn and Suites, located at 1984 W. El Camino Real in Mountain View, is a family-friendly place where you can get real value for your money. Close to everything, this property offers a free continental breakfast, microwaves, mini-refrigerators, hair dryers and other amenities for nightly rates that are usually well below $100. While Silicon Valley has many millionaires, most people still have to watch their budget. If you know where to look, you can eat well and stay at a nice hotel when you visit Stanford and the Silicon Valley.

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Copyright ©2014 - All Rights Reserved Camino Inn and Suites


December 4, 2013 / HMG Hotels

Fun Things to Do at Stanford University in 2014 – Guide for Visiting Students

rodiFun Things to Do at Stanford University in 2014 - Guide for Visiting StudentsStanford University has the distinction of being one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the entire United States. U.S. News & World Reports ranks Stanford number 5 of all national universities, placing it in the elite company of Princeton, Harvard and Yale.

Stanford University also has the distinction of having the largest campus. Located about 30 miles from San Francisco, the 8,180 acre campus is so large that it spans six jurisdictions including Palo Alto, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Woodside and Portola Valley.

Set in the Silicon Valley, surrounded by foothills, small mountains and the East Bay, the beautiful campus features Romanesque and Mission architecture. Students and visitors alike can drive along the 46 miles of roads, cycle along the extensive network of bike paths or just walk amongst the lush foliage are more than 43,000 trees.

Area residents from San Francisco and Santa Clara to Mountain View and Menlo Park, often find their way to the campus to spend a few hours or even the entire day. You do not have to be a student or a professor to find fun things to do at Stanford University. If you are visiting Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area, you owe it to yourself to make the short trip to the University. Following are some of the many fun things you can do at Stanford University.

Hoover Tower

A great place to begin your visit is from the top of the tallest structure on campus. Once the elevator doors open to the observation deck, you will be able to see for miles in every direction. The panoramic views are breathtaking. You will get an idea of the vast size of the campus as you look down over the structures and out to the foothills off in the distance. To get an even more fulfilling experience, take advantage of the free student-guided tours at Hoover Tower.

Your guide will show and tell you about the sights you can see and some of the most popular points of interest. Named after our 31st President, Herbert Hoover, a former student at the university, the Tower is a landmark in Palo Alto. It is part of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. A carillon of 48 bells that were cast in Belgium and installed in 1941, helps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stanford University. The largest of the bells bears the inscription “For Peace Alone Do I Ring.”

Stanford Memorial Church

Of all the structures standing on the grounds of the university, none is more beautiful than the Stanford Memorial Church. Located in the heart of the campus, the church was built back in 1903 in honor of the founder, Leland Stanford. The beautiful Romanesque architecture includes a mosaic of scenes from the Bible as well as impressive stained glass work. The church still holds regular services and welcomes visitors to come and explore the art and architecture. Guided tours are offered each Friday as well as on the last Sunday of the month.

Cantor Arts CenterCantor Arts Center

As one of the most impressive university museums in the country, the Cantor Arts Center is always bristling with visitors. The museum boasts a permanent art collection of more than 32,000 works and has a number of exhibits that are displayed throughout the year. The 24 galleries feature works from the permanent collection as well as a number of temporary exhibitions.

Running now through January 5, 2014, is the work of a nationally recognized contemporary artist and photographer.Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of photography and Video. encapsulates the American Experience on issues such as race, gender and class. This thought-provoking retrospective is a must see. From Stanford, the national tour continues with a showing at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Flesh and Metal: Body and Machine in Early 20th Century Art features 74 works from major European and American artists including Salvador Dali, Margaret Bourke-White and Piet Mondrian. On loan from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, this exhibit will make you think about creative artists who developed their own unique style in the art community.

Family Sundays are scheduled throughout the entire 2014 calendar year. You and your children will have fun taking a family tour and getting to experience art hands-on. Enjoy a Sunday of art filled with story telling, book readings and movie screenings.

You can not go to the Cantor Arts Center without taking a walk through the Rodin Sculpture Garden and Galleries. The outdoor Garden includes 20 impressive bronze sculptures by the Master and there are three indoor galleries that display more of Rodin’s work.

Enjoy a fabulous day of culture both inside and outside of the museum. Admission is free at the Cantor Art Center.

Hanna House

Built in the 1930’s as the home of Jean and Paul Hanna, the Hanna-Honeycomb House is a fine example of the design of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Self-guided tours are available, but, due to the great interest in seeing the house, you do need to submit a tour registration form at least six weeks in advance of your visit.

Stanford Sports

Collegiate sports are a large part of the University’s overall appeal. Football is always a popular spectator event and, depending upon the time of the year, you can enjoy baseball, basketball, track and field gymnastics and a host of other sporting competitions.

A day on the Stanford University campus is always fun no matter what you do. It is a treasured part of the Silicon Valley that welcomes visitors from near and far. You can walk around the grounds on a nice cool day in January or stay inside at the Cantor Art Center on a rainy day in early May. Have lunch, ride a bike, say hello to some of the students.

You may be well beyond your school years to apply for admission as a student, but you are never too old to enjoy the many fun and free things offered to everyone who visits the campus.

*Photos Courtesy (

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November 5, 2013 / HMG Hotels

Top 8 Things to Do in Silicon Valley with Children During the Holidays – From Zoo to Farm Family Events

Things to Do in Silicon Valley with Children During the Holidays

Explore the natural habitat in and around Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area in ways you have never seen it before. A diverse calendar of animal and nature-oriented events this winter season provides family fun and education for all ages. Inspire your kids to learn and explore with a wide variety of adventurous events and learning opportunities from the multiple education and research centers located around the Silicon Valley.

1) Lindsay Wildlife Museum – Meet An Animal Keeper - Holidays

Inspire your children’s love of animals and encourage their dreams with Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s special Meet An Animal Keeper event. This fascinating live animal presentation begins at 3:15 on December 29, allowing your kids to get up close and personal with the Museum’s Animal Ambassadors, while also letting them ask questions about the animals and enquiries regarding their care. This special presentation lets your kids learn firsthand from Museum experts about what it is like to provide the comfort and care that the unique Animal Ambassadors require, and it offers an inspiring behind the scenes peek into the Wildlife Museum.

2) Crab Cove Visitor Center – Free Holiday Open House - During Christmas 

Crab Cove Visitor Center

With a memorable free event that is both educational and entertaining, the Crab Cove Visitor Center opens its doors on December 26, from 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM for a holiday Open House that shows kids and adults the beauty and importance of the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. This special open house event includes crafts, games, and gifts. Planned activities include fish feeding, low tide exploration, and a chance to meet a snake and a turtle native to this diverse habitat. The 800-gallon aquarium system at the Visitor Center offers a spectacular up close view of the marine life present in the bay, and the educational exhibits emphasize the importance of preserving the delicate food chains and ecosystems that these amazing creatures depend upon to survive. The preservation efforts at Crab Cove allow for a natural and unspoiled environment that you and your kids will not find anywhere else.

Oakland Zoo - Yule Day at the Zoo3) Oakland Zoo – Yule Day at the Zoo - Best for kids

Join the holiday celebration on December 7th at the Oakland Zoo with a special musical presentation performed by California Revels, a Silicon Valley live theater group established in 1986. Starting at 1:00 PM, this interactive and community-building live theater event brings multiple cultures and traditions together in a unique participatory holiday celebration for all ages. Inspire your kids’ sense of wonder and enjoy this magical revel free of charge with regular Zoo admission rates for a memorable and musical day out.

4) Oakland Zoo – ZooCamp Daytime Workshop for the whole family vacation

Starting November 25 and running through the 27th, the Oakland Zoo’s ZooCamp Daytime Workshop offers three wild days full of adventure and exploration for children K-5. This action-packed day camp at the Zoo lets kids learn about animals and the natural world in fun, silly and immersive ways, for an unforgettable educational experience. Each day is different, ensuring a fascinating new adventure every day. Fees are $55 a day for members and $60 for non-members, and registration is required.

Marine Mammal Center - Free Art Exhibit5) Marine Mammal Center – Free Art Exhibit “Ghost Below” – Kids free

Open on November 24, The Marine Mammal Center’s stunning free art exhibit, The Ghost Below, illustrates in shocking detail the effect that trash and ocean refuse can have on marine wildlife. Artists Judith and Richard Lang present a visual demonstration of the ocean’s beauty and fragility that was an entire year in the making. Inspired by and partially built from 450 pounds of fishing net garbage found in the stomach of one unfortunate dead sperm whale, this eye-opening art installation includes interactive exhibits to show the delicate balance of the ocean ecosystem surrounding the Silicon Valley, and ultimately bears a message of hope for a future where trash is reduced, reused and recycled for a cleaner and safer ocean environment.

San Francisco Zoo - Big Bugs 20146) San Francisco Zoo – Big Bugs: Outside the Box

Experience the fascinating and enigmatic world of insects like never before with the unique Big Bugs exhibit, open to the public at the San Francisco Zoo. This creative and interactive exhibit allows you and your kids to view normally tiny insects as larger than life sculptures that highlight the intricate and often beautiful details of different species of insects that go unnoticed all around us. Examine the scales of a giant butterfly wing, the compound eye of a dragonfly magnified 400 times, and many other small miracles at this unique and educational exhibit.

Slide Ranch - Give Thanks to Food Family Farm Day7) Slide Ranch – Give Thanks to Food Family Farm Day at Christmas

Celebrate food and farming traditions with Slide Ranch’s Family Farm days. On November 23rd from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, help celebrate the Give Thanks To Food event and learn where bread comes from and how it is made, from seeds to flour to fresh baked loaves with Slide Ranch’s homemade butter. Children can see the working ranch and learn about food culture and traditions around the world. This family fun event is $30 per person, with a family rate of $95 for families of 4 or more, and kids 2 and under can participate for free!

8) Ravenswood Open Space Preserve – Free Explorer Hike: Go Where Few Have Gone Before

Nature hikes are a great way to spend time with your children and encourage their love of the great outdoors. On November 20 from 10:30 to 1:30, docents Dennis Smith, Laura Levin, and Lynn Jackson provide an expert guided tour of the historical recovering northern section of the Preserve, offering a unique perspective on preservation efforts of this natural habitat. This leisurely two-mile hike is perfect for older and active kids, and it provides a great learning experience about the importance of environmental restoration.
Ravenswood Open Space Preserve - Free Explorer Hike

The Silicon Valley and surrounding areas offer many unique opportunities for experiencing and learning about the natural flora and fauna in the environment we share. The wide array of family events available this season makes it easy to create lasting and educational memories with children of all ages, while inspiring and fostering a lifelong love of animals and learning.

Scott Seymore Author-Google+
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October 11, 2013 / HMG Hotels

Is Mexican Food Healthy for Everyone

Who doesn’t like Mexican food? It’s spicy, fatty and dripping with cheese! Who doesn’t want tortilla chips smothered with queso sauce or a fried chimicanga covered with guacamole? Who doesn’t want a rich chorizo sausage burrito or a deep friend chile relleno? Oh, by even reading these words, our taste buds want to get out a sombrero and dance to mariachi music. If we’re watching what we’re eating, or if we’re counting calories or if, sadly, we’re on doctor’s order to shed a few pounds, we may have to say adios to a few of our favorite Mexican dishes. Or do we?
Is it possible to have healthy substitutes for some of our favorite Mexican dishes? Can you keep authenticity and still enjoy the rich tastes while cutting back on the fat and starch?

Si! It is possible!

Go easy on the chips and salsa. The salsa is fine! Most salsas, picante and pico de gallo sauces are perfect for the calorie conscious. These appetizers are mostly chopped tomatoes, chiles, bell peppers, cilantro, onions, lemon juice and spices. Theoretically, you could eat a gallon of this deliciousness and still be healthy. Unfortunately, it’s awfully hard to eat your salsa without chips. Tortilla chips are usually not good for the waistline. If your favorite Mexican restaurant serves complimentary chips and salsa before the meal. Make an effort to only eat a few — a cup of chips can have approximately 300 calories and 10 grams of fat.

Be skeptical of salads. Many times your favorite taco salad is a fried tortilla bowl with lettuce, meat, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other South of the Border goodies in it. Often it’s an easy choice because it’s a salad — it’s supposed to be healthy, right? Nope. A taco salad, in the shell, could be over 500 calories and have over 26 grams of fat. Despite the name, a traditional taco salad is not a healthy choice.

Say no to sour cream. A cup of this gooey goodness is 445 calories and has 45 grams of fat! If you choose sour cream chicken enchiladas, dripping in that amazing sauce, that is one fatty, unhealthy dish. Your heart will love you more if you choose the fajitas instead — grilled meat and vegetables with only a dollop or two of sour cream on top (and lots and lots of salsa!)

Pass on the queso. Ask for shredded cheese if you must have cheese at all. Cheese may be one of the harder temptations to resist. Think of your health! Perhaps a small side dish of queso for those chips instead of a large plate of nachos would be a healthier choice.

Go grilled or baked and avoid fried. Chimichangas, quesadillas, chile rellenos and some other dishes are fried and as a result, their calorie count goes way up. But a baked burrito and grilled fajitas are not. It is possible to have a delicious, hearty Mexican meal, combining all your favorite tastes, while avoiding the problem of fried foods.

Be skeptical of beans. Refried beans often contain lard! While this does add to their rich texture and traditional flavor, ordinary cooked beans would be a better choice. Ask your server at your restaurant if there is a substitute for refried beans.

Pick restaurants that provide nutritional information. The more you know about what in your favorite dishes, the wiser your choice can be. Call and ask. Do an internet search. Make a plan ahead of time what you will and will not eat and then stick to your plan.

Or, make your own! Mexican food is not difficult to make. If you can fry an egg, you can sauté chicken in a touch of oil with onions and peppers. If you can chop an onion, then you can chop cilantro, onions and garlic to mix with diced tomatoes to make a delicious salsa. Plain yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. Warm canned pinto beans to substitute refried beans. Buy brown rice and mix in a bit of salsa for a flavorful and healthy substitute. Buy baked chips or cut tortillas into wedges and bake them for a few minutes in the oven. The money you save by making your own Mexican foods can go toward your new wardrobe.

Mexican food has many rich flavors. The garlic, cumin and chiles can raise our metabolism. The beans and rice combine to make complex proteins. Fresh, well-made salsa has few calories and is full of antioxidants. Lovers of Mexican cuisine who need to make healthy choice need not avoid it altogether. With a bit of knowledge and skill, their heart healthy and waistline-friendly Mexican fiesta can be just as delicious as what they’re used to.

Scott Seymore Author-Google+
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Wendy Lee Property Manager
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