Shop Morro Bay, California

Monday November 17, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Here in California we dutifully recycle our leaves, lawn clippings and tree trimmings, our newspapers and magazines and even our food scraps. However, many of us don’t think about recycling clothing or shoes. Antiques are fashionable to collect, but recycled vintage fashion? This holiday season I tasked myself with giving recycled holiday gifts. I selected Morro Bay as my shopping destination because the coastal beach town has a high concentration of antique and vintage thrift shops clustered together in two areas.


Threads, Morro Bay, California, thrift store

Threads photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Threads, shoes, Morro Bay, California

Recycled shoes. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown



Thrift store alley

My shopping spree started on Main Street and moved along to Morro Bay Blvd. The other area for antiques is located near Highway 41 and 2200 Main Street. I needed to purchase gifts for guys and gals, hard to please fashionistas, baby boomers and my 90 year old mother. Of course, I couldn’t help picking up a couple of items for myself. I’m pleased to say that I did find something for everyone and I kept under my $500 holiday shopping budget.

Castaway, Morro Bay, California

One person’s Castaways is another person’s treasure. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


“I like thrift store shopping because it’s about being conscious about where you are buying things and who you are giving your money to,” says Kaya Moody of Castaways.


At the Summer Cottage, the store is like a treasure trove for all occasions. Owner Kay Crocker says the name Summer Cottage came from the fact that Morro Bay always has perfect California weather. “It’s an older community that has come full circle,” notes Crocker. We’re a throw back to the 50’s and 60’s. There’s a retro feel to the whole town.”


Summer Cottage, Morro Bay, California

There’s a retro feel to Morro Bay. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Vinyl Isle is a perfect example of retro. The funky Morro Bay music store is home to hundreds of vinyl records and has rock and roll promotional posters tacked to the ceiling. I could easily see The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia walking into this green-colored cottage to check out the record selection if he were alive today.
Vinyl Isle, music store, record store

Music posters and vinyl records hang from the ceiling of Vinyl Isle. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

When I walked into Castaways thrift store, Bob Marley was playing on the radio and three fashionable young ladies were flipping through racks of clothes like line cooks slinging hash in the kitchen. They were quick, efficient and discerning in their intentions. As one held up an item of clothing for closer inspection, the two friends quickly weighed in with a yea or nay. It’s good to have girlfriends along on recycled shopping outings and these ladies were professional shoppers.
Revolve, recycled fashion, Morro Bay, California

Recycled fashions at Revolve. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

“I love this store!” said one of the girls with delight. “I always find something that is perfect for me.” And, indeed, she was rocking the sporty black leather and wool cap that she had plucked from a display table minutes earlier.
I was thrilled that I scored a brown leather jacket for my brother, a gorgeous pair of snake skin cowboy boots for my college student son and plenty of name brand work clothing items for my recently graduated daughter. The boots I brought home for my husband were claimed and on his feet before they made it under the Christmas tree and I couldn’t resist wearing my hand knit scarf on a recent trip cruising along the Danube River in Europe. No worries – I will be reclaiming and wrapping these presents (with recycled paper) and stashing them until the holidays.
Treasures Antique Mall, antiques, Morro Bay, California

Treasures Antique Mall. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

There are plenty of things to see and do in Morro Bay besides antique and thrift store shopping. But when it Rome, right?

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Morro Bay Tourism Bureau, while researching this travel story.

Québec City: Things to Do

Friday November 14, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 1 Comment

Are you visiting Québec City for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Québec, Canada.

"Tourney Fountain", "Quebec", Canada

When you come to Quebec City, get your picture takes at Tourney Fountain. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Place Royale, but I also take them to Ile d’Orléans – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the crowds and tourists, my favorite place to visit is Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Dufferin Terrace for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site.

"Panache" "Auberge Saint-Antoine", rabbit

Regional food of Quebec. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

"Café-boulangerie Paillard", baguettes

Café-boulangerie Paillard baguettes. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

"Marché du Vieux Port", Quebec, Canada

Marché du Vieux Port. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

Regional foods of Québec City

If you are looking for typical Québec cuisine, I recommend Toast! restaurant.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Café-boulangerie Paillard. They bake wonderful baguettes and have huge, flaky croissants.

Looking for the best inexpensive restaurants? Try Ashton or Buffet de l’Antiquaire. Also try Marché du Vieux Port on the Saint-André Quai, an indoor, year-round farmers’ market in Quebec City, Canada.

Ristorante Il Teatro is the spot for late night dining.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Le Saint-Amour, Chez Boulay or Panache at Auberge Saint-Antoine.

"St. John's Gate", Quebec, Canada

St. John’s Gate, Quebec City. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

Seeing a lot of bricks in Québec City? This Canadian city is best known for being a fortified  or walled city.

When you come to Québec City, get your picture taken by Fontaine Tourney and the Parliament building. Within walking distance is the Plains of Abraham.

In Québec City, outdoor lovers will want to walk, hike, bike, ski or snowshoe…it depends on the season. One of the best vantage points is taken by walking to the top of Montmorency Waterfalls. Insider Tip – these falls are higher than Niagara Falls, but not as wide.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along Dufferin Terrace, the walls of the city and if you’re fit, go up and down the many stairways that link Upper to Lower town.

After a day of adventure, Le Nordique Spa Stoneham is the best place to go for a spa treatment.

If you are a museum lover, Québec City’s  best museum is Musée de la civilisation.

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at Chez Maurice or L’Emprise in the Clarendon Hotel for live music.

Québec Scope Magazine will keep you posted on what’s happening in Québec City.

Québec City by season

You can tell a lot about Québec City from watching the seasonal events. In the spring you should go to a Maple Sugar Shack.

In the summer you might like Québec City Summer Festival.

Did you know that Québec City is known for Fall foliage: plan a visit to the back country in the fall. My favorite regions are Lanaudiere and Mauricie – the Nordic baths are a must do and I loved my time horseback riding through fall colors in St. Paulin.

"Bonhomme", "Quebec", Canada

Meet Bonhomme at Carnaval de Québec. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

Come to Québec City for Carnaval de Québec!

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Ferry across the St. Lawrence river.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that just outside of Québec City you can visit Island of Orléans and have lunch at one of the many vineyards or cider-making orchards.

Have you traveled to Québec? What are your favorite things to do in Québec City, Canada?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @tourismQuebec on Twitter.

If You Go:

Québec City

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Quebec Tourism. All opinions are my own.

Hotel Review: Fairmont Frontenac

Wednesday November 12, 2014 at 8:08 AM | 0 Comments

I had not yet set foot in historic Old Quebec, when I was warmly greeted by a Fairmont Hotel representative on Twitter, a social media platform. That’s the kind of customer service I have come to expect from Fairmont Hotels, and my stay at Château Frontenac was no exception. Bellmen welcomed me on a drizzly, gray night in early October. Texton, the tail-wagging Fairmont Ambassador had retired to his dog house and I was ready to dive into my bed, as well.

"Château Frontenac", Quebec, Canada

Hotel review: Château Frontenac. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Château Frontenac

This 611 room iconic castle has recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration and I was fortunate to stay in one of their renovated city view rooms. With nine miles of corridors running throughout the urban luxury hotel, replacing carpets and updating suites is no small task.
I like the way Château Frontenac blended the blue colors of the St. Lawrence River while hints of gold offered a historic European feel to the property.

"Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac", Quebec, Canada

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Lobby. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


"1608 Wine & Cheese Bar", Quebec, Canada

1608 Wine & Cheese Bar. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Centrally located within the walls of Old Quebec, guests will feel comfortable strolling this pedestrian-friendly city day or night. I was also quick to notice that Canadians felt very welcome at the hotel when accompanied with their dogs. This was also true of my stay in the Charlevoix region at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.

"Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac", pool

Indoor swimming pool on 6th floor. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

I didn’t have a chance to try the spa, with its seven treatment rooms, nor did I manage any laps in the indoor swimming pool, but parents traveling with children should expect to spend some quality time on the 6th floor of the resort.
My king city view room (#4129) rented for $319 Canadian dollars. You’ll want to check the hotel website for current pricing and specials. I loved the feather and down pillows on my bed, but I was not thrilled with the location of the coffee maker on the bottom of a pull out shelf by the television. The Fairmont offers one of my favorite teas in room, Organic Kea Lani Orange Pineapple from Hawaii – maybe your coffee maker will be in a better spot?


"Le Chateau Fairmont Frontenac", hotel, hotel room

King City View. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

While there are plenty of things to see and do in Quebec City, one doesn’t have to go far for a good meal or cocktail. 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar is the place to congregate for wines from around the world, and, of course, local cheeses. Champlain Restaurant offers a lovely breakfast buffet ($24.62 Canadian dollars during my visit) with views of the St. Lawrence River, but the dinner service will keep meat lovers happy. I ordered the Quebec beef, a signature dish of the hotel – no regrets.
" Le Champlain", restaurant, Quebec beef

Quebec beef Le Champlain. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
Whether you are a guest of Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac or simply enjoy history, you might enjoy the Historic Virtual Tour app available for download online. Like complimentary internet access and free local telephone calls? Don’t forget to enroll in the Fairmont President’s Club – it’s FREE!

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @Fairmontfronten on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac +1 418-692-3861 or (800) 257-7544
1 Rue des Carrières
Québec, QC G1R 4P5, Canada

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Tourism Quebec. All opinions are my own.