Five things to See and Do in Leeds, UK

Friday January 28, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

Harewood House, Leeds, England, UK, travel, Nancy D. Brown

Harewood House in Leeds, England is a must visit

My home city of Leeds is only a 2.5 hour train journey from London Kings Cross. It is the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, where you will find the most breathtaking scenery in the country and is a short journey to other great northern cities like York.

Here are my five favourite places in Leeds.

Harewood House

I will start off by mentioning my favourite Leeds attraction for 2011. It is a must visit, especially if you have children. Harewood House is a stately home, has magnificent gardens and a huge estate to let the kids run free.

For kids, there’s a play area and bird garden – make sure you watch the penguins being fed. You will find flamingos and birds from around the world. Walk around the estate, over the river, through the gardens and try and spot the local wildlife.

Millennium Square, Leeds, England, UK, travel, Nancy D. Brown

Millennium Square is home to many good restaurants in Leeds

Millennium Square

Millennium Square is home to a number of really good restaurants including Spice Quarter and Casa Mia. You will also find drinking venues including Revolution, and Cuthbert Broderick pub. The square is on the doorstep of the Leeds City Museum, which has free entrance and is great fun for kids and adults, alike.

You could also treat the family to a production at the Carriageworks Theatre.  Leeds Civic Hall sits on Millennium Square, with its golden owls. Mandela Gardens, at the bottom of the square, is a nice place to go and read a book and relax.

Roundhay Park, Leeds, England, UK, Nancy D. Brown, travel

Enjoy a picnic next to the lake at Roundhay Park in Leeds

Roundhay Park

This is my favourite park and very popular with families and walkers because of its vast area of open parkland.  There’s nothing better than relaxing in the sunshine (yes, we do get sunshine in Leeds!) and enjoying a picnic next to the lake. The park has plenty of walking routes and bandstands where local brass and classical bands play in the summer months.

Walk around Canal gardens, and then spend some time at Tropical World which is home to meerkats, tropical birds and fish. Have a bite to eat and a drink at the lakeside cafe, or sit and have a drink in the beer garden of the Roundhay Fox pub.

Leeds city art gallery, art, England, travel, Nancy D. Brown

Leeds city art gallery has some of the best 20th century British art outside of London

Leeds Town Hall

Leeds Town Hall was built between 1853 and 1858 by Cuthbert Brodrick after a competition to build it was held in 1852.  Through-out the year various events take place including concerts, craft fairs and the Leeds film festival.  It is an impressive Grade 1 listed building and its lion sculptures look over the city.

Next door you will find the Leeds city art gallery, home to the best collections of 20th century British art outside London.  Make sure you look up at the ceiling before you sit down to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the impressive Tiled Hall café.

Leeds waterfront, England, UK, travel, Nancy D. Brown

Visit the Leeds Waterfront Festival in July

Leeds Waterfront

The Leeds waterfront is split up into three main areas, Clarence Dock, Brewery Wharf and Granary Wharf. You will find a plethora of bars, restaurants, local independent markets and walks along the Leeds & Liverpool canal.

If you visit the city in July, the Leeds waterfront festival will be in full flow (pardon the pun!) with dragon boat racing and live music. It is amazing how many people visit Leeds and do not realize that we have a canal and a river running through the city centre.

What are your favorite things to do in Leeds, England?

Darren Cronian is the founder and editor of My Life in Leeds, a guide written by local people for locals and tourists. You will find guides like this on attractions in Leeds to help you plan your visit and discover Leeds.

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San Francisco Neighborhoods – Pacific Heights

Friday January 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments


Zinc, San Francisco, Pacific Heights, travel, shop

Welcome to the Neighborhood: A Series About San Francisco Neighborhoods


Pacific Heights, San Francisco, neighborhood, travel, Nancy D. Brown


As we said in our inaugural post in this “Welcome to the Neighborhood” series, to really get to know San Francisco and to feel like a traveler and not just a tourist, visitors to the city should venture beyond the famous landmarks and get out into the neighborhoods. San Francisco’s neighborhoods are as diverse and interesting as the people who live here – it is so much fun to find the neighborhood that has your name all over it so that you can return time and time again to experience the delights of the city as locals would.

The first post in this series explored the Divisadero Corridor. Next up: Pacific Heights, only a short distance from DivCo, but a vastly different neighborhood. Whereas DivCo is a “new” neighborhood, Pac Heights is one of the most established in the city.

Most people have an idea of the character of Pacific Heights: upscale shops, mansions (the real kind, not the McMansion kind), socialites, private schools and knockout views of the bay. Well, it is all that, but there is something for everyone to enjoy, even if you’re not swinging the latest Chanel handbag. Some of our favorite destinations in the neighborhood don’t require a fat wallet. In fact, we think some of the best things to do in Pacific Heights are free!


Pacific Heights, San Francisco, neighborhood, mansion, gold coast, travel


The sights and views in the residential areas of Pacific Heights will leave you breathless (or maybe it’s traversing all of those hills that does so!).

Homes of Pacific Heights. Lace up your walking shoes and head to Broadway Street between Divisadero and Lyon. On this stretch, you will find some of the most spectacular homes in the city in full view. This is where San Francisco’s bold-faced names live; in homes that start at $10 million and go way up from there. No wonder this area is called “Gold Coast.”

Lyon Street Stairs. Once you reach Lyon Street, head down the Lyon Street stairs – all 269 of them. And yes, back up them too. You will be rewarded with beautiful landscaping, views of the bay, peek-a-boo looks into the homes that line the staircase, and even one of San Francisco’s famous hearts. If you go in the springtime, the blossom trees are like little pink clouds that will follow you up and down the stairs.

Alta Plaza Park. This green spot is located in the four square block area bordered by Steiner and Scott and Jackson and Clay. Start at the corner of Steiner and Jackson to scope out your spot for the perfect snapshot view of the Bay. Also a dog park, you’ll see the local animal life at play.


Nest, shop, Pacific Heights, San Francisco neighborhood, travel, Nancy D. Brown


Almost all of the shopping in Pacific Heights is located on Fillmore street, the retail and business hub of the neighborhood.

Nest.Named one of the top 50 interior shops in the world, this store mixes Parisian elegance with rustic country elements. It’s a small shop but with so much to take in – look up, look under, look around. You don’t want to miss anything!

Zinc Details. ZD brings modernism to the Bay Area, featuring best of Scandinavian and Japanese design together with local designers. We love Vasilio, the uber-charming owner of this the ZD empire. There are two stores, one on California at Fillmore which features furnishings, and one on Fillmore at Bush which carries small household items, books and unique San Francisco souvenirs.

Jurlique. Natural skin care products from this Australian brand are cult favorites. The Rose Hand Cream is one of our favorites. Plus, we love the calm atmosphere in this store.

Cielo. Modern, cutting-edge, high-end European designers, in a serene location. The super lovely staff will help you spend your money on pieces that you’ll wear forever.

Crossroads Trading Co. On the other end of the spectrum is this clothing resale shop, which bills its inventory as ‘”Recycled Fashion”. With the emphasis on fashion - the staff here is known for their great eye (read: picky, picky picky), so you’ll find super fashionable pieces in great shape at well under $30



Bird Heart, art, San Francisco, Pacific Heights, California, travel


Over the past several years, some great dining destinations have opened in Pacific Heights. Here’s a sampling of our favorite new and established restaurants:

OTD. Little sister of Slanted door, OTD serves Vietnamese cuisine with a contemporary twist.  Like Chicken Porridge with rau ram, crispy shallots and black pepper.  Green papaya salad with tofu and pickled carrots.  And our personal favorite, the steamed bun.  Where traditional steamed buns are big on the bun and small on the filling, OTD’s filling-to-bun ratio is just right.  Choose from chicken, bbq pork or vegetable. And of course, you need a glass of “free flow” wine to go with that bun. Sit a the communal table table and enjoy your well-earned snack!

La Mediterranee. This cozy restaurant serves inexpensive homemade mediterranean specialties. We’ve been going to “La Med” for 20 years (it’s been open for 30!), always returning for the Middle Eastern Plate which is comprised of a bit of each of the greatest hits.

Florio. As with many spots in San Francisco, this one feels like you could be in Paris. This little slice of Paris offers bistro classics – seriously hard to pass up the steak frites here.



San Francisco, neighborhoods, Pacific Heights, California, Nancy D. Brown, travel


Elite Cafe. There is never a question about where we’re going to have a little glass of something when we’re on Fillmore Street. The Elite Cafe is located in an original Art Deco building, and the beautiful mahogany bar with its hig-backed, comfy bar stools is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of champagne during happy hour from 4-6pm.

What is your favorite neighborhood in San Francisco? What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?

Related Posts:

San Francisco Neighborhoods – Divisadero Corridor

Things to Do in San Francisco

Fancy Food Show Trends 2011, San Francisco, CA

Friday January 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 5 Comments

San Francisco, Fancy Food Show, ham, specialty food, Nancy D. Brown

Specialty foods such as this ham will be on display at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show

San Francisco, California is a food-lovers paradise. This city by the bay launches and closes restaurants faster than a chicken lays eggs. In fact, it is commonly accepted in the food business that a new restaurant is more likely to fail than succeed.

What keeps foodies coming back to San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show

So what keeps foodies coming back to San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show like moths to the flame?  It’s all about what’s new and what’s next in the gourmet food industry.  What are the latest  food trends in the business?

As a travel writer who enjoys dining out and writing restaurant reviews, I can tell you that the San Francisco restaurant scene is exploding with food carts and trucks. How can foodies track down these food trucks? Often times you’ll be able to follow street food vendors using Twitter.

Specialty food trends

What are some other top specialty food trends from 2010 according to the editors of Foodspring? Rumor has it that San Francisco-based Chronicle Books will publish a High Times Cannabis Cookbook in the near future.

Happy Goat Caramel, Fancy Food Show, San Francisco, California, Nancy D. Brown

Michael Winnike introduced his Happy Goat Caramels at the 2010 Winter Fancy Food Show

A-List chefs give back
• Food trucks 2.0
• D-List celebrities pitch pistachios, including Snooki and Rod Blagojevich
• Sea buckthorn berries
• iPad menu apps
• Mandatory calorie listings on menus
• Food deserts
• Eataly
• Death of Oldways founder K. Dun Gifford
• Umami in a paste
• Hyperlocal food production
• Solar-powered food trucks
• 97 Orchard Street: An Edible History
• High Times Cannabis Cookbook
• Child Nutrition Act

Fancy Food Show Facts

This trade-only event is where buyers from the top names in specialty food retailing come looking for next year’s hot product and trends. Now in its 36th year, the Winter Fancy Food Show is the largest marketplace for specialty food on the West Coast. 80,000 products are slated for display by 1,300 exhibitors from 35 countries. Sorry, the Fancy Food Show is for members of the specialty food trade and media only.

Additionally, Food Fete takes place on Monday, January 17 in the evening.  Again, my apologies, this is an invitation-only press event that connects gourmet food and beverage products with food and lifestyle journalists and bloggers.

What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?

If You Go:

San Francisco Fancy Food Show, January 16-18, 2011

George Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, CA

Social media enthusiasts may follow Fancy Food Foodspring on Twitter.  You may also follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter for the latest travel news.

Related Posts:

Things to Do in San Francisco

San Francisco Fancy Food Show 2010

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown