The Weekender

A Fall Wellness Weekend in Northern California's Tri-Valley

 Photo Credit: @VisitTriValley

Photo Credit: @VisitTriValley

The perfect weekend away for me means hassle-free city access, garden-to-table dining and gorgeous scenery fit for a proper unplug. According to the Wine Spectator and local, anonymous wine loving philanthropists, the next great Northern California wine destination is the East Bay's Tri-Valley area. The trip takes about an hour from SF and most area airports: 45 miles east of San Francisco, 35 miles from OAK, 54 miles from SFO and 100 miles from SMF. For visiting New Yorkers sans driver's license and anyone else preferring not to get behind the wheel, it’s the only wine region accessible by public transit - take BART to the Pleasanton/Dublin stop and Lyft or Uber from there.

Tri-Valley’s main wine hub, Livermore, has been growing wine since the 1840s but it wasn't until recently that notable restauranteurs started moving, turning it into a favorite weekend destination for the urban wine set. With a kind invitation from the Tri-Valley tourist board, I packed up a bottle of green juice and a coffee for the 50 minute ‘road trip’ to learn how to turn a wine getaway into a wellness weekend.

Settling In

As adventurous wine drinkers are discovering the region’s tasting rooms, the Tri-Valley area is planning to open its first branded full service hotels in the next few years. At the moment, the area’s best charming and independently owned properties include The Rose in Pleasanton and the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore. If staying close to the wineries in modern home or rustic coolcabin digs are more your style, check out local listings on Airbnb. Once you drop your bags, head into one of the Trivalley’s towns for a welcome glass of the area’s finest.

Clean Eating

Pop into Double Barrel in Livermore, Coco Cabana wine bar in Dublin, or the Vine in Danville for a glass of local goodness to get into the weekend state of mind. Healthy dining in the area is plentiful, from white tablecloth dinner on a winery at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards to hip expat city chefs doing their wine country thing at Sabio in Pleasanton. The best way to find plant-based, gluten-free fare is at one of the local eateries specializing in local produce - they are more often than not happy to whip something up. I dined at The Restaurant at Wente and they prepared a wonderful vegan, gluten-free meal. Daytime eats are easy to find - for Livermore’s best espresso check out the new Rosetta Espresso. For quick, healthy lunchtime bits try Ofelia’s in Livermore and local favorite vegan dining spot Blossom.

Getting Up, Working Out

You want your tush whooped by a creatively sequenced flow class? Dragonfly Yoga in downtown Livermore offers a range of class styles and levels. Owners Stacy and Suzannah both teach wonderful classes for a full mind/body recharge from sweaty vinyasa with inversions to restorative yin classes. Crossfit classes abound in the Tri-Valley area, and local boxes include Crossfit LivermoreSchubox in Pleasanton and I Will Crossfit in Dublin. Barre is picking up popularity, and the newly opened Pure Barre in Pleasanton teaches their signature method mostly to local young, fit professionals. Other studios worth checking out include Absolute Barre at The Quad and Livermore’s Mindful Movements Pilates studio that just started teaching a barre class a few times a week.

If SUP, hiking, kayaking, or anything on a lake with 360 views of the surrounding nature is more your speed, check out the Del Valle Regional Park - a 15 minute drive up the mountain.

Hitting the Spa

Check out Elegant Alchemist at the Three Palm co-op space to see Leah for amazing bodywork and facial treatments. The space is a gorgeous pre-war home owned by a hair stylist who wanted to create a space for herself and her over 15 colleagues to be able to offer spa and salon services to the area. Other spa spots include Lavandu and Drift in Pleasanton, and Blush! in Dublin.

Yoga in the Vineyard

My favorite healthy activity that Livermore offers that its wine country neighbors to the north do not is a regularly scheduled yoga on the vineyard. Throughout the spring and summer season, Dragonfly Yoga partners with a local winery - last year Wente, this year Concannon - and teaches a sunset, mixed level class followed by wine and bites. Each class is $25, BYO mat. 

Small Production Wines

Most of the wineries in the area are family owned, and many of these are being run by fourth and fifth generation. During my stay, I loved the wines and tasting room at Steven Kent. In addition to their tasting room they have a reserve room for members, in which they offer vertical tastings of their famed Lineage and Premier labels as well as small group seminars with their winemaker and other top wine personalities in the Tri-Valley. Other must-do Livermore wineries include Nottingham Cellars3 StevesLas Positas Vineyards and McGrail Vineyards.

Shopping

The largest outlet mall in California is located a stone’s throw from downtown Livermore, San Francisco Premium Outlets. There are few lines you can’t find here. On the activewear end - they have an Under Armour, Nike and New Balance. And as for post-gym: there’s a Bloomingdales, Saks Off 5th, Prada, Bally, Rag and Bone, Jimmy Choo, Theory, Maxmara, Bruno Cucinelli. It’s endless - pack plenty of water and snacks.

Checking Out

Pack up your wine, your local olive oils and any local spa goodies you may have purchased and head to Rosetta for an espresso for the road.

What to Pack

Don’t bring too much if you’re planning on hitting the outlets. You can find a season’s worth of essentials here. Days are warm, nights are chillier. As with any wine country, bring layers! And extra bags for shopping and wine to bring home as gifts.

Join us this Saturday for a Mother's Day Pre-Game

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It's a sweaty, self-care Saturday for anyone (from moms to those who just want a good sweat and spa day before Sunday's family time) produced by us and hosted by our partners at Hotel Zetta in San Francisco. The morning will start with a Pilates Bootcamp taught by MNTSTUDIO founder (and boss mom) Elaine Hayes, followed by Burke Williams manicures and our favorite new rose by Domaine de Cala

For details and to grab your ticket, visit Eventbrite. Be sure to use promo code WAblog for $10 off of admission! 

Northern California's New Retreat Center has the BEST Teacher Lineup and Awesome Food

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Northern California's most ambitious new wellness destination—aimed at solving everything from vitamin D deficiency to jiggly tush to addictions to sugar and screen—quietly opened this past May just 60 miles south of San Francisco.

On 75 acres in the redwoods outside Santa Cruz in Scott's Valley, 1440 Multiversity is bringing a dose of modern mindfulness to a former bible college with a higher-education-meets-retreat-style model of classes, workshops, healthy eats, and overnight stay options to fit all budgets. Beyond the old school and every day retreat programming like Qigong and Tai Chi, the magic is in class sizes that feel almost private, and a calendar full of more contemporary offerings features a faculty that reads like a Coachella lineup for yoga and meditation enthusiasts. After a weekend yoga workshop, I left feeling like 1440 is one of the best domestic havens for the 21st century.

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As someone who plans family vacations around wellness retreats (it's for their own good!), I got a serious case of FOMO when I first saw the property's massive catalog. This season 1440 will host leading meditation instructors Sharon Salzberg and Davidji; Hollywood favorite yogi Steve Ross and SF's own Wanderlust headliner Jason Crandell. I elected to try Crandell's Optimizing Your Vinyasa weekend yoga retreat—because to this health nut, nothing sounds more luxurious than a weekend full of lunges and anatomy jokes with one of our city's best.

When I checked in for my 36-hour stay, I popped into a general welcome session in the property's stunning, converted mid-century chapel, and then to dinner, where I ate enough tofu and cassoulet to feed a health-conscious army. After dinner, on a very full stomach (I didn't know our first session started that night until a new friend mentioned changing for class over chocolate cookies), I joined about about 25 students for our first two-hour yoga session with Crandell. We dove into the weekend's coursework of opening and strengthening all of the muscles and joints used during traditional Vinyasas (downward dog, chaturanga, lunges, etc). The following morning, midday and afternoon sessions followed a similar pattern of lecture on the day's topic followed by an active yoga session to put into practice what was just discussed. Most of the class plunked down around $700 to stay on campus for an all-inclusive weekend, while a few others were Airbnb-ing or taking advantage of a locals-only day pass. I loved staying on-campus, but also appreciate that they are so flexible in how people want to mold their own stay.

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1440's hotel rooms—a mix of converted dorms with rustic shared bathrooms and former public spaces now with private bathrooms and balconies overlooking the surrounding redwoods—might be as close as the Bay Area gets to a five-star wellness resort. But at the end of each day of hours-long yoga practice, all that really mattered was having solid A/C, comfy linens and a view to distract me from my exhaustion as I applied an entire tin of Tiger Balm. Soon there will be an infinity pool and a full spa geared toward soothing those sore muscles (will report back on that one soon); for now, you can try walking it off on the handful of short hiking trails that crisscross the property, or meditate in the redwood "cathedral."

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If you prefer to eat your pain—and happen to be vegan, gluten-free or both —you will have come to the right place: 1440 serves thrice daily buffets of health-conscious omnivorous eats that tread the line between corporate offsite and eco-stylish. While not totally plant-based (I wish they were, but I'm assuming this was a business decision to not scare off the South Bay's big tech company meeting planners), high brow takes on traditional retreat fare is served at each meal, which plenty of vegan options. During my visit, I dug into vegan pastries and locally made coconut yogurt each morning; there was also customizable vegan pad Thai and vegan pot de creme. Nearly everything offered is gluten- and sugar-free.

During my last meal, while stuffing my bag with 1440's vegan, gluten-free banana bread, I was already bookmarking pages in the property's catalog for a future visit - to Sadie Nardini's long weekend - COME! As happy as I was as a solo traveler making a yogic pilgrimage, the creature comforts and heavily staffed event production team seem fit to attract big companies—and there is plenty of room and course options to keep us all happy.

Weekend and weekday workshops can be booked with a room and board package, or a la carte. For locals or those who don't require accommodations, a $95 day pass is available for dining and grounds access. Single rooms start at $175 per night.

// 1440 Multiversity, 800 Bethany Dr. (Scott's Valley), 1440.org

Iconic California Dude Ranch Alisal Adds a Touch of Wellness

 Source: Alisal

Source: Alisal

The one time my family of native Angelenos tried to go camping together, it turned out like Troop Beverly Hills or The Parent Trap—an embarrassing comedy of errors. After trying to take one for the team, my city slicker dad got overwhelmed by outdoor noises, lack of heated toilet and low sleeping bag thread count. He checked us into a hotel after he patted himself on the back for making it through two DIY campfire meals. Instead of trying that again the following year, we checked into The Alisal, the classic guest ranch in Solvang, where turndown service, nearby wine tasting, and 10,000 acres of trails to hike and ride got us hooked; a trip to The Alisal became an annual family escape during my childhood years.

It's been nearly 20 years since I last visited The Alisal as a kid on a family trip, so when I heard there had been a large renovation to the spa and a healthy menu upgrade, I grabbed my mom and headed to the ranch resort, located 40 miles north of Santa Barbara. The footprint is the same as it was on my last visit, and just as it was in 1949 when Clark Gable was married on the property; just as it was when the Jackson family opened the property to guests in 1946. A long driveway lined by sycamore trees ends at the barn and a row of cottage-chic guest rooms. At first glance, the only thing that had really changed was the itch that the ranch would scratch for my modern adult self: With nary a bar of network coverage, this trip obliterated any resistance I had for a total digital detox.

There's no major signage or dramatic foyer with sophisticated floral arrangements to receive you upon arrival, just a low-key front desk and a couple of college-age staff to hand over keys and a map of the grounds. The historic ranch, which has hosted the likes of Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck, has been wooing people with simple creature comforts and a five-star ranch experience for generations.

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Of the many ranch-appropriate activities offered daily, including archery and air-rifle target practice, morning and sunset horseback trail rides remain the biggest draw. Offered three times per week, a classic Alisal breakfast ride is an hourlong trek across the ranch's stunning acreage.

The wranglers are experts on everything Alisal, from its history to the way they track local animals such as bears, owls and two resident bald eagles. Wranglers will point out things that might otherwise go unnoticed—bald eagle nests and their feathers on the trail. The breakfast that takes place halfway through the ride is a traditional continental affair, featuring pancakes, cereals, fruit and other usual suspects. While a slam dunk for those who prize hearty and classic over healthy and organic, they do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions and the ride itself is so rewarding that breakfast is really just fuel for the way back. 

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Opened in 2016, the ranch's 6,000-square-foot spa has been designed to feel like a zen-style barn, with exposed beams and cozy Pendleton blankets in the central lounge, in addition to a fitness center and treatment rooms. Go-to services for the saddle weary include the Trail Blazer, a scrub/massage combo, and a deep muscle massage that gets right down to business post-afternoon activities—there's tennis, hiking, swimming and one-on-one yoga and Pilates classes. The nearly endless options help ameliorate the urge to open your Instagram app. If non-hotel yoga is what you're after, nearby Bloom yoga offers creative and challenging flow classes (and cell service!) - a real delight during my visit.

Alisal's bar and dining rooms are classic California ranch-style: stonework and fireplaces and horse bridles and repurposed barn gear. The nightly live music and bottomless chips and guac make it easy to forget about inboxes and Netflix queues. New chef Anthony Endy is refreshing the food and beverage program with more plant-based fare. Vegan and vegetarian options will be offered nightly in late 2017, with a full refresh appearing in spring of 2018. Until then, the staff are happy to prepare something delicious off-menu to accommodate dietary preferences.

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After a traditional ranch-style dinner featuring beautiful seasonal produce from the Santa Ynez valley—a memorable heirloom tomato salad was inhaled in about three seconds, and hearty dishes included fried samosas and luscious risotto. There are no late-night dessert bars or DJs or anything to disrupt the perfect quiet here—just open space and the best excuse to stay in: cozy cottages (35 of the 73 have been recently redone) with cowboy-cool furnishings, Pendleton coverlets, wood-burning fireplaces and gorgeous views from every one. // Studios start at $550/night; The Alisal, 1054 Alisal Rd (Solvang), alisal.com

Take Your Down Dog Outside, Clean Up Your Makeup Routine and Party Like a Healer this Week in SF

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Yoga on the Plaza with Bay Club

It’s a gorgeous week for taking your workout al fresco, and this Thursday the Bay Club is hosting a free yoga class at The Plaza in FiDi. Led by Bay Club instructor Jennifer Kelly, this is the last class in a weekly series celebrating national yoga month. After a 60-minute flow, post-class refreshments will be served - because what’s better than day drinking outside in yoga pants? The class itself is an all-levels Vinyasa flow class set to music broadcasted through attendees’ individual, wireless headsets. Donations will be accepted onsite to support Team G Childhood Cancer Foundation.  
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5:30pm check-in, Bay Club Financial District, 555 California St. RSVP at Eventbrite.

 

The Center SF Turns Two

Home to breathing workshops, monthly moon circles and esoteric wellness modalities from EFT Tapping to Reiki, The Center SF is having itself a birthday party on Thursday, September 28. Festivities will include tarot readings, astrology, live music, healthy snacks, beverages and plenty of dancing.  
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7p.m. - 11p.m., Tickets are available for a requested donation of $10. The Center, 548 Fillmore St (Lower Pac Heights). www.thecentersf.com/

 

Work Hard, Sleep Hard

Mattress Firm and OrangeTheory Fitness are hosting a ‘Work Hard, Sleep Hard’ pop-up event on Saturday, September 30. Through 12 p.m., Mattress Firm will be onsite showing off their latest offerings and sharing advice on how to up your slumber game for enhanced athletic performance. Mattresses will be in-studio for testing, or post-workout napping, after the a.m. sweat sesh, and Revive Kombucha will be serving beverages. First class is free at OrangeTheory for new students.  -
OrangeTheory Fitness, 343 Sansome Street #125, 8:30a.m - 12:30p.m. www.san-francisco.orangetheoryfitness.com/

 

Your Best Face Forward

FaceWest is now open in the Marina. Get your makeup done with cruelty-free, vegan, clean beauty products curated by Bay Area native owners Pavla and Petra Langer. Makeup artists can put a look together for you for anything from opening night to ‘natural makeup 101’. Pro tip: if you’re running from makeup to an event with zero time for hair, they have blowdryers and styling tools on-hand for quickie hair styling, too.  
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FaceWest, 3236 Scott St. (Marina). www.faceweststudio.com/

 

Laughing Lotus Class @ Athleta Sutter

Home of the signature lighthearted and soulful Vinyasa yoga style, Laughing Lotus is the studio of the month at Athleta Sutter. This Saturday, BYO mat for an hour of all-levels yoga flow with a Laughing Lotus instructor. After class, yogis have the run of the store before it’s open to the public, as well as a chance to win an Athleta gift card and complimentary refreshments.  
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 Athleta Sutter Street, 255 Sutter St (Union Square). Free, 8:30a.m. - 9:30 a.m. stores.athleta.net/store-4146/

Sweat Your A** Off This Weekend with Tone It Up and FitFest

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This Saturday Brings a Fitness Double-Header

This weekend, two of the season’s biggest fitness events are going head-to-head on opposite sides of the city. In one corner, San Francisco’s homegrown, inaugural FitFest is taking place at Crissy Field from 10am-4pm. In the other, founder Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott of Los Angeles’ fitness empire Tone It Up are taking over Civic Center Plaza for the SF stop of their national tour from 12pm - 5pm.

How do you choose?? I’ve been seriously considering carbing up Friday night in order to jet back and forth all day to lunge with K+K (as the Tone It Up community refers to founders Karena and Katrina) in SoMa then Sweat and Flow with Shauna Harrison in the Marina, then back to Civic Center for push-ups and HIIT with Jillian Michaels. But if you are trying to fit anything else into your day, like a meal or any other non-workout activity, you may need to narrow down Saturday’s ambitious plans. To help you in what is bound to be a choice harder than K+K’s abs, here are the breakdowns of what’s happening at each event.

Tone it Up Tour

On their inaugural cross-country tour, K+K and BFF Jillian Michaels are leading nearly two hours of HIIT-based strength workouts and a dash of yoga.

Doors to the SF tour at Civic Center Plaza open at 3:00pm, with a 30 minute Core Power yoga session kicking off the afternoon in a back-to-back series of three workouts. From there celeb trainer Jillian Michaels will lead a second 30-minute workout, and to wrap up the workout, K+K will lead a 45-minute session in the style of their famous Booty Calls posted daily on ToneitUp.com. After the workout, VIP ticket holders are welcome to meet and greet with the Tone it Up crew between 6:00-8:00pm in the Rose garden. Perks include free massages courtesy of Zeel and post-workout rose.

FitFest

Founded by Bay Area local and super fit festival producer Nate Mezmer, FitFest is also in its inaugural year with a lineup of national and local fitness bosses leading classes on a main stage, as well as smaller sessions peppered throughout Crissy Field.

Gates open at 10am, and a 50 minute, deejay-accompanied Vinyasa session led by The Pad’s Nicole Cronin starts at 1030a on the main stage to get the morning going. Shauna Harrison’s Muscle and Flow and Janet Stone’s Beyonce yoga classes follow on the main stage for some serious hometown heat. Visiting instructors include Kerri Verna of @BeachYogaGirl and Kaisa Keranen of @KaisaFit, both teaching in the afternoon. All day long, SF’s fit crew like Nate Chambers of Roark Gyms and Kokoda Fitness will be teaching short sessions on strength and mobility. Mindfulness sessions will include a journaling session with Julie Aiello of Outdoor Yoga and a panel discussion on the mindful hustle for healthy entrepreneurs.

I’ll be doing my best cross-town shuffle to pack in as many sweat seshes as possible, before crossing the finish line with K+K and rewarding myself with rose and massages.  

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Tone It Up Tour tickets are $110 per person, $220 for VIP with Jillian Michael, $260 for VIP with K+K, Civic Center Plaza. FitFest tickets are $80 per person, Crissy Field.


 

Healthy City Guide to Washington DC

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We here on the easy breezy west coast often mistakenly associate DC more with House of Cards and heated CNN debates than yoga and highbrow vegan brunch. But the capital is a wellness hotbed that’s only growing hotter, and with its annual VegFest coming up on September 2, we realized our Google Doc of ‘DC must-visits’ needed some expert attention, stat.

We turned to Well + Away friend and founder of Grassfed Media in DC Sacha Cohen for her pro advice. As someone who exclusively represents conscious clients and supports organizations including the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Humane Rescue Alliance, Sacha has become our go-to for navigating where to sweat and what to eat in the capital city. Here are her favorite conscious spots around town to get fit, fed, zen-ed and sunned.

Flow

For a yogic experience that ranges from super chill to 90-minutes of sweaty inversion practice, I turn to Tranquil Space in Arlington or Dupont Circle for the 60-minute mindfulness meditation sessions or the 90-minute Flow and Fly class that focuses on training arm balances. For something a bit more scene-y, try Rocket Vinyasa with Jonathan Ewing or Jivamukti with Cory Bryant at Flow Yoga Studio in vibrant Logan Circle. When I need to mix up my practice with something different, I’ll pop into an aerial yoga class with Susan at Spark Yoga in Arlington and Fairfax, or wind down with candlelight yoga on Monday nights at the Arlington Spark Studio, taught by Lika Elwood.

Fuel

Book ahead for a table at Equinox Restaurant, the city’s most delicious vegan brunch, helmed by husband-and-wife co-owners Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff. A signature brunch buffet serves up fresh seasonal dishes including a crispy cauliflower tempura, yellow tomato and pineapple gazpacho, as well as a made-to-order tofu scramble bar and vegan sweets like chocolate pot au creme. Mocktails and cocktails including an American Vegano and, naturally, a signature Equinox Bloody Mary are made from fresh juices and purees.

Get Out

Get outdoors to hike it off throughout 32 miles of trails in DC’s beautiful Rock Creek Park, sprawling across 1700 acres and bisecting DC’s northwest quadrant. If you’d rather try your SoulCycle skills in the great outdoors, all roads and paved trails in Rock Creek Park are open to bicyclists. A popular paved path begins just north of Peirce Mill and follows the creek all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

Get Cultured

Many of DC’s art and culture institutions are free because they are part of the publicly and institutionally endowed Smithsonian Institution. A few of my favorites for contemporary and modern art include The Hirshhorn Museum, The East Building of the National Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery and The Phillips Collection. If you want to museum hop, the epicenter for access to most of DC’s free museums is the National Mall. Each of these museums has renowned permanent collections as well as rotating exhibitions such as the recent much buzzed about Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirrshhorn.

Indulge

The adorable, always packed Baked and Wired is tucked into a pretty cobblestone street in Georgetown, one of DC’s most popular shopping areas for the well-heeled. B+W’s Soccer Mom bar with a graham cracker crust, chocolate and butterscotch chips, coconut and pecans is a decadent indulgence, or a Chocolate Oreo Cakecup is an ever-so-slightly lighter plant-based treat. Grab one of the bistro tables outside to watch the world go by or settle into the cozy back room with your sweet treat.

Self-Care

Nusta Spa is a relaxing oasis in the heart of bustling Farrugut North in downtown DC and the first LEED-certified spa in the world. Skincare and bodycare treatments include traditional massages, facials, scrubs, wraps, hydrotherapy and mani/pedis. A personal favorite is the matcha brightening decollete facial to soothe summer skin or a massage using  handcrafted essential oils by BodyBliss.

Shop

Opened in August, Take Care is the place to find small batch, synthetic-free and handmade apothecary goods from indie makers around the U.S. Some of my favorites include the cacao antioxidant face mask from Josh Rosebrook, “Ritual” from Smoke Perfume, and the goodness lipstick from vegan lipstick company Axiology. You’ll also find a beautiful collection of handmade lifestyle goods that focus on simple, natural designs and ingredients such as the pure essential oil and a soy cure-all candle from Essential Apothecary Alchemist. With a focus on self-care and taking time out for oneself, Take Care also offers a variety of workshops and events including an upcoming Superfood Latte Workshop.

Drinks

I’m a little reluctant to mention Bar A Vin because it’s still somewhat under-the-radar. This sexy little spot will make you feel like you’ve just landed in Paris, complete with a stunning copper bar, 30-40 old world wines by the glass, and sophisticated bar bites including marinated olives, pickled vegetables and assorted dairy-free cheeses. On a promising date? Settle into the "living room" just off the main entrance and get better acquainted by the roaring fire.

Dinner

It’s a bit of a trek from DC, but for amazing organic vegan fare Great Sage Vegan restaurant is  a must. This comfort food-inspired restaurant features plant based entrees ranging from light to lightly battered. The avocado kale hash and gobi Manchurian--battered cauliflower florets with chiles, cumin and ginger, served with stewed black lentils and green pea-coconut jasmine rice-- are perfect for cooler nights.

 

 

The Best Digital LA City Guides

We've pushed out the timeline a bit on our LA VitalGuide, so in the interim, to get a fix of healthy LA - here are some of our favorite digital LA city guides.

Goop's LA Wellness Weekend Itinerary covers all of our favorites in a long weekend format. Clean vegan eats, massage, surf lessons, old school gym time and a healing tonic or two.

Skinny Confidential's LA Mini Delites is a mini guide focused on food that mentions the best after-dinner activity in LA, the Magic Castle.

And who better to recommend city-wide vegan eats than Chef Tal Ronnen of West Hollywood's Crossroads?

The Most Vegan-Friendly Hotels On Maui

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My memories of Maui are with my grandparents, on our annual end of year trip. I would spend a solid eight hours in the pool, then get tucked away early so my grandparents could go out and probably drink Mai Tais and look for cute island cats to snuggle (or they went on benders at local bars, I'll never know!). The only thing even resembling a challenge each day was finding vegetarian food at the massive, decadent Wailea breakfast buffets. I vaguely remember eating some combination of pancakes, fruit rollups and lots of pineapple. Which is why I hadn't revisted the island until a friend's wedding sent me out there.

What I learned was that a slew of Wailea's best-and-brightest resorts and even more the up-country boutiques had added plant-based options to their menus. And also that Maui is magical and that I am a fool to have ever thought they would still be serving fruit roll-ups for breakfast after 1996.
 
Wailea
Home to all of the major Maui hotels, Wailea beckons mainlanders seeking oceanfront luxury with any and every resort amenity. The family friendly, 787-room Grand Wailea offers no shortage of activities and dining options. Breakfast includes an array of local produce, including a regular fruit of the month. Beachside Whale’s Tale is a short walk down the beach for a more casual juice and coffee. Lunch options are also what I like to call beach-hearty with a Life Veggie Burger topped with mango barbecue sauce, roasted red pepper, grilled pineapple and sprouts on a gluten-free bun; or the lighter Edamame Hummus. Dinner at onsite Humuhumunukunukuapua’s might very well be seafood focused, but secret, off-menu vegan entrées include a Tofu Stir-Fry and Tofu with Baby Bok Choy and Orange Lychee Sauce. Meanwhile, nearby LEED® Silver-certified Andaz Maui is a slightly smaller, newer property featuring 300 rooms, fifteen acres of paradise, the chicest pool scene in Wailea, a 14,000 square foot spa and a well-considered vegan tasting menu at onsite Ka’ana Kitchen. The farm-to-table, six-course vegan tasting includes savory dishes such as a Waipoli greens with Poha mustard, cucumber and local radish, and a brownie served with coconut sorbet and macadamia nuts for dessert. Dinner is $150 per person for dinner, and $250 per person including wine pairings.
 
Paia
If Wailea is polished and visitor-focused, Paia is island-casual and a more diverse local favorite. Home to a number of vegan and vegan-friendly eateries and grocery shops (Maka by Mana Foods, The Flatbread Company, and Mana Foods), Paia is accessible to visitors on a budget and those wanting a rustic-luxe, up-country wellness retreat. The boutique Lumeria resort regularly hosts visiting superstar yoga and meditation instructors visiting from the mainland. The manicured grounds don’t feel overly so, with a calm swimming pool, meditation labyrinth, and a culinary garden growing more than 200 species of plants. Rooms are Hawaiian luxury with a side of crystal-chic with fine linens and Aveda products. Breakfast, daily yoga, meditation, and wellness classes are all included in the daily resort fee of $50, while holistic spa treatments are provided for an additional charge in cabanas overlooking the island and surrounding water. Vegan items are offered at each meal, but the set dinner menu at onside Wooden Crate is served at just one seating per evening. Budget accommodations in Paia are also easy to find, from the charming Aloha Surf Hostel that offers complimentary tours daily, to the romantic Paia Inn located in town (and within easy walking distance both to the beach and to the glorious Mana Foods grocery).
 
Hana
At the end of the infamous, 52-mile “Road to,” Hana (the island’s eastern-most destination) is the Maui of your Lost fantasies. The one hotel on this part of the island, plantation-style Travaasa Hana, has just 70 rooms and is pure far-flung luxury. Opened originally in 1946 as the Ka-‘uiki Inn, and just renovated in its newest incarnation as the Traavasa Hana, the property’s isolated beauty has attracted historic figures (from Charles Lindburgh to Ernest Hemingway) looking for solitude with a view. Current offerings begin at $400 per night, and include access to daily experiences including stand-up paddleboarding, guided meditation, and ukulele lessons. Vegan dining includes a variety of local fruits and fruit smoothies at breakfast, a tofu tempura for lunch, and Macadamia Nut Roasted Hana Root Vegetables and Lentil Eggplant Bolognese for dinner. For those interested in learning more about Hana’s native fruits, an ONO Organic Farms Fruit Tasting Tour includes a guided forest stroll through papaya, passion fruit, and others trees with nibbling encouraged along the way.

Trying Cryotherapy for the First Time

Last week, we lost our Cryotherapy Vcard. At the only full-body cryochamber in North America (not even our eyeballs were spared). Here’s how it went:

As part of a BC adventure, I stayed at the spa-centric Sparkling Hill Resort. About 45 minutes north of Kelowna in Vernon, even the non-cryochamber temp at the resort is approximately one million times colder than the W+A HQ in San Francisco. The inside of the main cold chamber is actually the coldest place on earth, at -190 Fahrenheit. Of my 24 hours on-property, this was my favorite/strangest/most challenging wellness experience.

If you’ve never tried cryo, it’s cold. Colder than you think. If you are used to cold winters (in Antarctica), maybe it won’t be as much of a shock to the system, but for me it was such a swing from anything I’m used to that it was almost out of body. My limbs lost feeling in about 15 seconds, I became a little disoriented around the 1.5 minute mark, and was ready to jump out around 2 minutes. The whole process takes three minutes and the only reason I remained in for the final minute was because my cryo spirit guide and Sparkling Hill staffer Jeanette (who does the treatment twice a day with no headband or double bagged gloves - BALLER) was so nonplussed about the whole and I didn’t want her thinking this Californian wellness ‘expert’ couldn’t handle the chill.

After the three minutes were up and I thawed out, I felt amazing. Alive, vibrant, not cold, generally stoked. My defrosting high was real. The most interesting part of the process, for me, was what happened to a new and pesky lower back pain that I developed after a multi-week SoulCycle binge. Bike settings must not have been right. The day after cryo, it felt worse - magnified and tweaky at every twist and stair. The day after that, though, it disappeared. In every workout since then, from lifting to barre to dance cardio) I haven’t noticed it AT ALL. Weird, possibly coincidence, but also totally possibly due to cryotherapy.

How it all works:

According to Sparkling Hill, ‘the blood vessels build a protection zone to maintain core body temperature. The effect is that during and after the cold treatment the nervous and circulatory systems are given a boost. The chamber is dry cold which makes it less uncomfortable than the equivalent in Antarctica -  which never gets this cold. In the fully-monitored chamber wearing light clothing, socks and shoes, a protective head band, face mask and gloves, the skin temperature drops to 5°C.’ The first treatment is $45, and a 10-pack is $300 CAD.

Its benefits are not exactly proven but people from professional athletes to crossfitters and those looking to keep deeper wrinkles at bay espouse its benefits. All I know is that my back is feeling great and I normally start layering parkas at sub 50F, so it’s a big win for me!

Irish Road Tripping: Seaweed Baths, Rural Perfumeries and Vegan Castle Dinners

A drive across the Emerald Isle, shacking up at off-the-beaten-path castle resorts and dining at sweet vegan eateries in between spa appointments, is now one of our all-time favorite glam-casual adventures. Starting and ending in Dublin, with at least one pint of Guinness (it’s going vegan in 2017!) and a lot of drop-in yoga along the way, we winded through Sligo, Donegal and Galway on a wellness-themed trek.

Getting there

Ireland’s Aer Lingus started three new non-stop flights from the US in 2016: from Los Angeles, Hartford and Newark. It’s also launching a direct flight from Miami later in 2017. When returning home, a handy pre-clearance in Dublin and Shannon airports mean no customs lines at your home airport when you’re schlepping Duty Free goodies while sleepwalking.

Dublin

Set up camp at historic, glamorous Shelbourne or boutique and charming Brooks Hotel for centrally located digs. The Shelbourne is steps from Stephen’s Green park and massive (pedestrian-only) shopping thoroughfare Grafton Street, as well as vegan-friendly wine bar Peploe’s. Brooks is located on indie shop-lined Drury Street, as well as a five minute walk from vegetarian Cornucopia restaurant and 15 minutes from the Guinness Storehouse.

And speaking of the Storehouse, The Guinness Storehouse tour may have been around for ages, but is still wildly popular with visitors and a fair amount of locals. A post-tour pint at the top of the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city below is the ultimate touristy indulgence.

Vegan dining in Dublin is easy peasy: Cornucopia is cute for casual lunch for dine-in or to go before hitting the road. If a slightly dressier three-course dinner is more your speed, Fallon & Byrne grocery has an upstairs bistro that serves a vegan menu (in addition to non-veg version) with items including a celeriac and apple salad and roasted cauliflower. After dinner, a night with the famed Literary Bar Crawl is a necessity. Over the course of three hours (and up to four Guinnesses if you have on at each stop) you can get what feels like an entire semester’s worth of Dublin history performed, often in first-person and from the perspective of historic figures like Oscar Wilde, by two locals who live and breathe Irish history.

Donegal

After a day or two of city living, hit the road three hours north to country castle Lough Eske (pronounced Lock Esk) for grounds and interiors so stunning you best swap out your American athleisure for something more befitting a 17th century castle. Lough Eske does a pan-European tasting menu with risotto, falafel and seasonal salads in their Cedar’s Grill restaurant, but the real star are the forest estate’s 43 acres of manicured gardens, walking paths and fireside nooks.

Sligo

A visit to Voya’s seaside spa for seaweed-based treatments is a necessary Irish wellness experience. The location alone, on the Atlantic coast and just over an hour from Lough Eske, is ridiculously romantic - stunning on a sunny day and so brooding and lush on a more likely rainy day.

Voya uses a number of different seaweeds, all hand-harvested, throughout their various spa treatments. The signature is their seaweed bath, during which you hop into a steamy claw-footed tub filled with local seaweeds that fill the bath with the weeds’ gel-like goo. Amazing for the skin, detoxifying and so relaxing, the seaweed baths leave you feeling as jelly-like the goo itself. More relaxed than is probably safe, stumble about 200 yards to the Drafthouse Gastro Pub, where they offer a number of vegan options for dinner and dessert that change each evening. On the way out of town, hitting the health-focused vegan and gluten-free eatery Sweet Beat Cafe in the center of Sligo town makes for a quick, nutrient-rich breakfast. This eatery has won national awards for its raw and cooked cuisine, so be sure to stock up a vegan version of the Full Irish (a traditional breakfast often featuring bacon, eggs, and sausage), bean and avocado spelt toasts.

Galway

Two hours south of Sligo, Galway is one of Ireland’s older cities and a key stop for some of the country’s coziest pubs. The best meal of our trip was here, at the non-vegan Kai restaurant. Don’t let the regular menu fool you - the vegan tasting menu is out.of.this.world. Just give them a 24 hour heads up to have it ready. It is way too much food, and yet we finished every bite. Everything is local and perfectly prepared and so creative.

Dromoland Castle

Dromoland is about an hour’s drive south, with a very (very) worthy pitstop being the Burren perfumery and tea shop. The Burren is a crazy section of Ireland that we can’t even begin to describe other than that it feels like you’re on the moon and we hope you’ve gotten used to driving on the other side of the road, because the unpaved ones leading here are not for novices.

Once you arrive, Dromoland Castle is even Castle-ier than Lough Eske. If Lough Eske is your Irish country castle escape for hiking, dressing up and late night drinks by the fire, Dromoland is your ‘which century am I in and I can’t believe this is a real place’ labyrinthine castle for old-school styled fine dining, great spa treatments and a maybe some late night ‘The Crown’ binge-watching with Guinness delivered in-room. Rooms vary greatly, and the corner suites that look out to the grounds on two sides are the ones to nab.

 

Last Minute, Vegan Valentine's Day Tasting Menus!

Last Minute Valentine's Day Inspo, from Casual to All-out

It's not a birthday or anniversary, or one of those holidays we all get the day off for, so waiting until the last minute to book dinner for a semi-faux holiday happens. So pull it together, read on, then head over to Opentable.com and get ready pony up for the good bottle of bubbles and embrace the cheesiness of VDay tasting menus!

From low-mai to high, here are four slam dunk last minute VDay dinner destination ideas we shared with our friends at VegNews.com

Mexico

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

This Valentine’s Day, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is offering a tasting menu inspired by meals Frida Kahlo prepared for her lover Diego Rivera. Dishes include a raw coconut ceviche, corn sopes with black beans, Mayan Pibil with marinated wild mushrooms, and a Colima lemon cheesecake with agave honey and freeze dried fruits. The tasting menu is included in the nightly rate, which start at $393 per person.

San Francisco

Tamarind Hall, Thai Street Food & Bar

Authentic Thai comfort food, inspired by street vendors in Thailand, are offered this V-day at this part cocktail bar, part Thai restaurant. For $25 per person, a tasting menu includes fresh rice paper rolls, a Curry-osity curry sampler, a basil eggplant stir fry, and a sticky rice with mango dessert.


Vancouver

The Acorn Restaurant

The award-winning, vegetable-forward Acorn restaurant is vegan and gluten-free. This Valentine’s Day, a three-course prix fixe is $50 per person, with optional wine pairing at an additional $25, and will include long-standing favorites like the kale salad with tempeh and creamy vegan Caesar. Check out the Acorn site for the final V-day menu.

Miami

Sushi Garage

Executive Chef Sunny Oh’s Sushi Garage restaurant in Sunset Harbour works just as well for a group of friends celebrating Galentines Day over shared vegan sushi, or romantic partners going big with bubbles and custom rolls. Valentine’s specials include a Chef’s Choice vegan sushi mix for $32, as well as pink drinks such as a bottle of Moet Chandon Imperial Rose for $120 or a Strawberry Crush cocktail for $12.

Vegan Road Trip Must-Haves

As Californian cold-pressed juice fiends may already know, Juicero has changed the game for at-home juicing in our fine state. But could the Juicero Press go from well + home to well + away?  Last week on a NorCal road trip from SF to South Tahoe's new Coachman Hotel we put it to the test by packing a Juicero Press along with hiking gear and our favorite car-friendly snacks for a plant-powered road trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe.  

Here are our favorite road trip essentials, from hydration (hello, altitude change) to veggie-friendly protein bars (because you never know when you’ll see your next tempeh burger).

Pre-packed Veggies

Pre-packed veggies like organic baby carrots, broccoli florets or kale chips are hydrating, nutrient-rich and great for dipping into your road trip dip of choice. Trader Joe’s is a pre-road trip go-to to stock up on veggies that have all the crunch of a chip, without the preservatives or crumbs!

DIY Hummus

Prepping your own takes less than 10 minutes and the taste is beyond anything you can buy. When making your own, use your cold-pressed oil of choice, steering clear of the often over-processed canola oils used in supermarket brands. Just give the following ingredients a whirl in your blender and your fellow road-trippers will thank you: chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic, lemon and a pinch of salt.

ZICO coconut water

Hydration is key at higher altitudes, especially when trekking between Tahoe's lakes and peaks. Keeping water bottles filled with H20 is the most important, but stashing some coconut water in the trunk keeps you hydrated and loaded up on potassium and electrolytes. It's also handy for mixing with juice and a splash of booze for a conscious happy hour. We're loving ZICO's new not-from-concentrate bottles, especially for this Indian summer.

Aloha protein bars

Aloha makes some of the cleanest bars around, clocking in at 18 grams of pumpkin seed and pea proteins. Sweetened with tapioca syrup and monk fruit extract and made creamy with cashew butter, they satisfy a sweet tooth as well as they fill you up. Our top pick is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor.

Flourless, Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies

Packing hearty snacks to grab while sitting in traffic, running out the door or before hitting the trail can save a morning on the road. The night before leaving, prep Angela Liddon’s Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies, made from mainly oats, flax and banana, for the easiest carb-up ever. Top them with a dollop of jam or peanut butter to turn them into a sweet treat.

Philosophie Coconut Butter

Continental breakfasts can be tough for our plant-based friends when the only veg options are plain toast and dry cereal. This is why we always pack a jar of Philosophie Coconut Dream, preferably in Green Dream flavor. Made of coconut butter, maple syrup and Philosophie’s Green Dream superfood powder, we spread it all over our toast, mix it into our coffee for a twist on Bulletproof Coffee, or eat it by the spoonful on the road.

Juicero + Your Fave Produce Packs

Nothing is more luxurious than waking up surrounded by the great outdoors and getting to make your own cold-pressed juice while still half asleep. This was our first road trip with a Juicero in the trunk of our car, and it was SO worth the extra five minutes of packing and unpacking. The Coachman Inn had space and outlets aplenty to plug in our Juicero Press, so we made our own fresh-pressed juice in the morning, took some Beta Glow out for a hike in a mason jar, had a Sweet Greens happy hour and shared with some with new friends. Traveling with our Press is now a long weekend must!

This story originally appeared on the Juicero blog. Let us know about your favorite healthy road trip essentials in the comments below.

 

The BEST Spring Sunday with W+A and the COMPANY

Very Vital Sunday Invite.001.jpeg

Sleep in, brunch up and get yourself over to the Presidio on Sunday, April 24 for Very Vital Sunday! This daytime dance party slash wellness afternoon with Well + Away and new dance-cardio studio the COMPANY will be the most healthy fun you've had on a Sunday afternoon. Sunday's festivities will include a signature COMPANY class, VitalGuides for all, beverages from KeVita, protein bars by Perfect Bar, a trunk show by fashion-forward local activewear company Akrovita and a few healthy surprises. Tickets are $30.

7x7 agrees with us and shared Very Vital Sunday in their weekender roundup of best ways to get your sweat on. Come join us for an afternoon workout, light bites, kombucha and mingling with new healthy friends. 

Grab a gal pal and snag your spot now!