Glorious Eats: Lunch on the 18th Hole of Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach 18th Hole

Jack Nicklaus once said, “Augusta is my favorite place to go play golf. But Pebble Beach is my favorite course to go to.” It’s easy to see why. Pebble Beach is among the most beautiful courses in the world and the view of the shoreline from the 18th hole, with its single Cyprus tree in silhouette, is particularly stunning. Opened since 1919, The Lodge at Pebble Beach is famous in its own right, having hosted five US Open tournaments and bold faced golf enthusiasts from Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods.

Even if you’re not a golfer, Pebble Beach is worth seeing and their lineup of restaurants and bars, many of which have views of the 18th hole, should be on your list of places to dine if you’re in the Monterey area. We spent an afternoon at The Bench, the Lodge’s more casual restaurant with comfy outdoor seating position around fire pits, which keeps things cozy if wind comes off the water.  The menu focuses on wood-grilled fish, steak and chicken and fire-roasted veggies, all of which are delicious. But the must-order is a bottle of your favorite champagne or wine to sip as you watch golfers finish up what for many of them is a bucket-list game on one of the world’s top courses, and raise your glass as they pass by grinning ear-to-ear.

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Glorious Weekend in Upstate New York

Fish & Game Restaurant Hudson

I’ve put all those weekends spent driving around New York state to good use and created a weekend travel guide over on Jetsetter called “Upstate for Everyone”, with itineraries to fit all types of travelers. Here’s a shot of farm-to-table restaurant Fish & Game in Hudson, a perfect destination for antique hunters.

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Glorious Check-in: Sanctuary Beach Resort in Monterey

Sanctuary Beach Resort

Last year, we spent 72 hours driving down the coast of California along US 1. It’s an incredible trip full of jaw-dropping sites and some outstanding hotels, too. One of the best nights of the drive was spent at the Sanctuary Beach Resort, just outside of Monterey.

From the road, Sanctuary seems an unassuming place. Nestled in the dunes of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, all that’s visible from the distance are the peaks of a few roofs popping out over the hills of sand. A pretty but small lobby just off the parking lot (above) takes guests through the quick check-in process and then it’s onto the grounds where the real magic of the place kicks in.

Each guest room comes with its own golf cart, a necessity for getting around the resort’s 19-acres. We drove along the fenced path, winding its way through little groupings of guest rooms and eventually came around the corner to see this:

Sanctuary Beach Resort

Guest rooms come with a private patio overlooking the Pacific. Settling into the chairs, we felt like we were in our very own little beach house. Walk out your room’s door and you are steps from the dune cliff and a path that takes guests down to the water.

There’s a small spa and a heated pool on property, but I think the end of the day along the coast is when the resort is at its best. We walked along the beach as the sun started to sink into the ocean directly ahead of us. Sanctuary hosts a nightly bonfire on the dune, and several guests came to cozy up in an Adirondack chair with s’mores or a glass of wine.

Sleep came easy too, thanks to the cozy in-room fireplace, a comfy bed and the distant sound of the waves breaking on the shore.

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Festival Fridays: Keene Pumpkin Festival

Keene Pumpkin Festival

To know me is to know my slight obsession with the Keene Pumpkin Festival. It’s an annual event set in the storybook town of Keene, New Hampshire, with many of the typical, quaint New England fall festival activities like a Halloween costume parade, craft fair, storytelling at the local library and live music in the town’s gazebo.

But what sets this festival apart from the rest is Keene’s effort to hold down the world record for most jack-o-lanterns lit in one place, at one time every year. That’s right: the most glowing pumpkins on the whole planet are in this town’s square.

I love the small town drama behind the world record goal and the festival’s history, how in 2012 the town lost the record to Boston, but in 2013 rallied together and reclaimed the title with a whopping 30,581 jack-o-lanterns, the folks from Guinness on hand to make it official. It’s like an episode of Gilmore Girls come to life.

The owner of the event company that organizes the festival, Ruth Sterling, recapped the trials and tribulations of chasing the record again in a first-hand account of last year’s event. My favorite quote is about her prepping for the event: “In February, May, June, July (you get it) I would say to A-team participants, ‘OK, it’s 8pm Saturday, October 19. Mayor Lane just announced that we won. How did we get there? What could possibly stop us?’ Every day mother nature shared challenging weather like torrential rain, I would set the expectation: ‘How do we win in this? Because we will win and this can’t stop us.’ That focus was a key success factor.”

Amazing.

This year, the festivities take place on Saturday, October 18th from noon to 8:30pm, with a complete schedule of activities available here. The signature, towering inferno of jack-o-lanterns (above) will be on display again, too.

I’ll leave you with a few shots of previous years from photographer Mickey Pullen. Whether Keene succeeds in holding down the title remains to be seen, but either way the sight of tens of thousands of glowing jack-o-lanterns is something to behold.

Have a glorious weekend!

Keene Pumpkin Festival
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