last weekend, b surprised me with an afternoon date at hakone garden. hakone garden is the oldest japanese garden in the western hemisphere. the original construction of the gardens began in 1917. isabel stine had just returned from a year long voyage in japan and had all the inspiration she needed to make a breathtaking and authentic japanese garden. hakone garden is 18 acres and can be seen within a hour.
i loved the peace and tranquility i felt immediately upon entering the garden. there were less than 15 people there when we arrived and all that could be heard was the crashing of the waterfall and birds chirping.
one of my favorite spots, besides the lake, was the bamboo garden. the bamboo garden at hakone garden is said to represent the close friendship with saratoga’s sister city, muko-shi, japan (a suburb southwest of kyoto). i love how much thought is put into the symbolism of each aspect of a japanese garden. every plant, stone, bridge is placed in a certain spot for a specific reason and not just to “look pretty”.
there was a wedding reception being set up as we were leaving the garden. the bride wore a beautiful traditional japanese kimono. all her family and bridesmaids were also in kimonos. it was stunning. makes me want to head to kyoto!
don’t forget to pick up some fish food at the hakone gift shop (also where you purchase entry tickets) so you are able to feed the koi and turtles! this was b’s favorite part.
b and i loving spending an afternoon in the park.
we try to go at least once a week. it is a great place to enjoy the weather and beauty that is all around us. i love reading, lounging, picnicking and flying kites in the park. we even hosted b’s birthday in the park a couple months ago where we set up a picnic and croquet court. when you don’t have a ton of room in your apartment, a park is the next best economical option to host any type of gathering.
emily and i decided to showcase our favorite parks for this #cityweekly. be sure to check out her blog for the best parks in the dc area. and do take advantage of these next couple months in the park because winter and cool temperatures could be here before you know it!
golden gate park(san francisco) – did you know golden gate park is actually larger than central park? i had no idea there were so many sub areas until b took me on a segway tour of the park. sure, we looked like complete nerds with our vests and helmets but, it was a great way to see the entire park and learn the history all within 3 hours. my favorite areas were shakespeare’s garden, stowe lake where you can rent boats or feed the ducks and hippie hill. golden gate park is so vast and diverse. whether you are looking to lounge in the sun with jazz music echoing through the tunnels, partake in traditional japanese tea , dine with a view of the bay or broaden your horizons by attending the de young museum or academy of sciences. there really is something for everyone. golden gate park can be a little overwhelming because there is no way you can truly get a feel of the whole park in one day but, that is part of the reason i love it. i love that we find something new or learn something new every time we visit. don’t forget to grab a soft-serve cone from twirl and dip while you are there!
willow street frank bramhall park (willow glen, san jose) – the trees in this park are unreal. i have never seen so many different types in one place. there are cork oak, cedar, redwoods and red maple to name a few. the trees paired with the rolling hills (that they make into an amphitheater for various festivals) make this park a stunner. willow street frank bramhall also provides tennis courts, basketball courts, a baseball diamond and onsite bathrooms. do note it is fairly busy and parking may be hard to come by on a sunny afternoon.
cooper park(mountain view): cooper park may be our favorite close to home park. it is located in a lovely neighborhood on the border of mountain view and los altos. cooper park is spacious and offers plenty of room to spread out, a playground, tennis courts, many trees and a baseball diamond. we especially love this park because it is quiet and tucked away. b and i stumbled upon the park accidentally when we saw some beautiful homes from the main road and wanted to further investigate the neighborhood. often times b and i will walk around a ritzy neighborhood and fawn over each house. we imagine what life might be like for the current residents. this activity usually leads us to amazing parks!
washington park(burlingame) – any park with a rose garden will be at the top of my list. washington park is a lovely space with easy to reserve picnic areas (i hate having to go through the city to reserve), two separate play grounds depending on age, a bocce ball court and large trees lining the perimeter. it is quite dreamy and only a couple blocks from the train station and downtown area. i only wish it were a little bit bigger.
cornelis bol park(palo alto) – this is another lush and beautiful park tucked away from the buzzing streets of el camino street in palo alto. i love this park for the walking trail around the perimeter. it is a great way to unwind and clear your thoughts. one thing that makes this park unique is there are donkeys to feed and pet near the fence. it’s like your own free petting zoo! don’t worry it is still very clean and fresh smelling;)
what do you think makes a great park? what are your favorite parks in your area?
check here and here for more silicon valley and dc gems!
I am normally not one to eat at chains. I mean granted there are some good ones out there (hello In-N-Out and Chipotle), but I usually prefer to find something local as to get a better “taste” of the city I am in.
If there is a handful of the same restaurant only available in the Bay Area is it really considered a chain? I don’t think so… at least I tell myself that because I couldn’t pass up on dining at Pacific Catch.
Pacific Catch is an island inspired restaurant with various locations throughout the Bay Area. B’s brother was in town a couple of weeks ago and I figured it was the perfect time to try this well established and highly rated restaurant. I have always been obsessed with Poke but don’t eat it very often on the main land so when I saw such a variety of poke it really sealed the deal!
I, of course, tried the poke trio plate. There are about eight different variations of the Hawaiian delicacy available at Pacific Catch. I chose to try the original, California style and Macadamia Nut. All were tasty and the fish so incredibly fresh. It is a lot of tuna at one time so I would probably opt to share this entree next time. California Style was by far my favorite because of the creamy sauce and addition of rock crab and avocado. I would have to say my least favorite would be ahi macadamia nut. It was still very fresh but the flavors were not as vibrant as the other two.
B and his brother, J , are not raw fish eaters so they opted for fish & chips and fish tacos. J said his fish & chips were the top 5 he had ever had! The fish was perfectly battered and fried to perfection. B loves tacos (especially chicken tacos) so he chose one fish and one chicken. But guess what? He preferred the fish taco! That is how you know the fish here is perfect. I did sneak a couple fries, which are seasoned and let me tell you they were seasoned just right! It seemed to have a bit of a spicy BBQ flavor. Whatever it was it really spiced up the once ordinary side dish!
You always have to save room for dessert! I chose to treat myself to the macadamia nut brownie a la mode and dusted with toasted coconut. Yummmmmm It was superb. I love love a macadamia nut and chocolate combo. I wish they would have subbed the vanilla ice cream with macadamia nut and then it would have been out of this world! Have you ever made a chocolate shake with macadamia nut ice cream? My mom makes them all the time when we are in Kauai and it is one of my favorite shakes of all time. The main land really needs to offer more macadamia nut ice cream options.
I also hear the fried dulce de leche spring rolls are one of their specialties! I will have to try the next time we come because there was no way I was passing up macadamia nut heaven.
It was so fun seeing J while he was in town for a couple days at a conference. It was fun to show him a little around our city and give him a taste of what the Bay Area has to offer. Pacific Catch is a great representation of that!