Stay: Shack Tamarack

Glen Arbor, Michigan
09.05.2014 | by: Meghan

Last summer, we stayed in this modernist number by the renowned late Chicago architect Harry Weese. This summer, we moved next door to the more rustic log cabin, Shack Tamarack, that Weese designed for his family when he was 18 years old. Yes, 18 years old. It’s a beautiful example of vernacular Michigan lakefront architecture, and you can make out the formative signature details — master of space, cleverly situated bedrooms, modular hidden doors and compartments — tucked inside a traditional log cabin wrapper, made with cedar timbers from a nearby bog. Every detail is purposeful.

Some places were built for making memories, and when it comes to the quintessential family cabin, Harry Weese pretty much nailed it. Weese’s family still owns the house and has filled it regularly with friends and family for the past 82 years. Harry’s sister lives in the third house all summer long, and I love hearing stories that have played across generations of guests.

Here’s the thing: Yes, I am a sucker for smart, storied, well-designed spaces, and yes, I can be expected to properly rhapsodize about Shack Tamarack’s beautiful handmade textiles hanging from walls and slung over benches, antique rocking chairs, old wooden shelves lined with even older stoneware, and the giant stone fireplace built by hand. But I also understand what makes a place special, and it has more to do with how it makes you feel — relaxed and inspired, humbled even — than what it looks like. It’s about how spaces that truly capture a sense of place can transport you.

You know how you can read 100 picture books out loud to your kids on the same tufted L-shaped living room sofa, and they all sort of run together, like one big memory unit, each story folding into the next? Yet reading One Morning in Maine while actually in Maine, piling five deep in a queen bed looking out a giant picture window at the evergreen tree-lined coast — the same pointed evergreen trees and craggy coast in the book’s pages — is something you’ll never forget? Like you can still taste the salt in the air when you think about it? Or how you can grill fish 100 times in your own backyard, but somehow that freshly caught whitefish covered in herbs you picked from the garden next to the farmhouse you were staying in Northern Michigan will remain forever epic in deliciousness and culinary bravado. Therein lies the power of pulling yourself out of your everyday life and allowing even the littlest experiences — like, at Shack Tamarack, reading Mathilda by Roald Dahl on the porch swing and laughing until your side hurts, watching a wicked storm roll in from the pier, and cannonball contests off the dock — to live large in your memory as some of the most seminal of the trip.

I know I won’t remember all the details of how everything looked at Harry Weese’s family cabin (well, maybe the set of deer hooves that cradle a couple fishing rods over the dining room table), but I will never forget what we did there and who we were at that moment in time. Rent it at



Check In: Serenbe

Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
06.05.2014 | by: Meghan

For spring break, we took a road trip south with stops in Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. Our end destination was a farmhouse inn in the Chattahoochee Hills called Serenbe, which I found the week before our trip and booked based on a slim handful of pretty photos online. And while it was every bit as pretty in person, it’s also the kind of place I’d only recommend to families of young-ish kids. If I was traveling without kids, I’d be grumbling about guest services, attention to detail, our botched reservation. But for little ones, who are blissfully unaware of such petty grievances, this place is magic. Let’s start with the pool: surrounded by flowers and trees, no other swimmers, and next to a covered porch with wicker furniture and a giant cushioned porch swing, where we read books and played cards for hours. A mini basketball court is tucked behind two wooden swings that dangle from an arbor covered in wisteria. A treehouse. A rock labyrinth. Goats, horses, pigs and bunnies. Trails, trampoline, a croquet lawn! My boys met the farmer every morning for a tractor ride to feed the farm animals. As parents, the best part was how much freedom they had to wander the grounds, exploring and getting lost in the kind of creative play that only comes from long, unplanned days and wide-open spaces. My oldest son made pals with the gardener, who was so sweet and let him help her in the garden, picking radishes for the restaurant, planting new seeds, watering — and explaining everything in the just-right way for a seven-year-old to understand and get excited about. He loves to draw, so she even dug out her original garden sketches to show him how she designed the beautiful circular beds and arbors.

For more persnickety adults, know that the sprawling farm is part of a newer residential and commercial development they call “the community” (to preserve my fantasy, I tried not to leave the farm, and sent my husband into “town” to pick up provisions. When the suburban sprawl came crawling, the owners decided to take matters into their own hands. The result has a Pleasantville vibe, but again, the kids didn’t seem to notice. They were too busy having fun.

Check Out: Kid & Coe

01.30.2014 | by: Meghan

With a new baby in the house–bringing the total up to three littles–planning our next family vacation feels a bit daunting. There, I said it. First step is admitting there is a problem, right? The next step is poring over the new family-focused vacation rental site, Kid & Coe. The whip-smart ladies behind this genius site (including my friend Vanessa Boz, who’s contributing and deserves mega big props for taking a hiatus from her job to travel around the world with her family a few years ago) all have children and love to travel. So they understand the nuanced intricacies of what makes a trip less stressful and more fun — for kiddos and parents. In each description, they include dream trip-in-the-making details like proximity to parks and playgrounds; recommended spots for picnicking (in a garden under a giant oak tree); forest hikes and loaner wellies; toys and bikes to borrow; and whether there’s a ping pong table or petting farm on the property. And beyond being truly useful and easy to use, it should be noted that Kid & Coe is absolutely gorgeous. Here, just a few (of many) places that caught my fancy.

^^At this rustic cottage in Andalusia, there’s a pool, bikes, boules, outdoor chess table and ping pong, plus you can hire a donkey for a guided trek!

^^The ultimate kid-friendly apartment in Fort Greene has heaps of toys, a playroom, a piano and views of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. What more could a kid want in Brooklyn?

^^Part of an estate, this former hayloft in Umbria is a dream for kids. Acres and acres of grounds and flower gardens to explore, a paddock with a herd of alpacas, a pool, a hang-out room with games and kids books, and a chocolate factory and family-friendly truffle hunting nearby.

Check In: Mast Farm Inn

Banner Elk, North Carolina
01.09.2013 | by: Meghan

The week before Christmas we had to go to a wedding in Florida. Not great timing, but we loaded up the car and made the most of it with a road trip through the Smoky Mountains (we flew back). One of the most outstanding highlights was the historic Mast Farm Inn. A restored farm inn that dates back to the early 1800s, the place was decorated with antiques, quilts, old farm tools and a countrified array of awesome folk art and crafts. The Loom House, named for Aunt Josie Mast who turned it into a loom house for her coverlets and rugs (some of which are in the Smithsonian), is the oldest log cabin in North Carolina.

We stayed in the old post-and-beam Woodwork Shop with its tin roof, Vermont casting stove and rock terrace. This place is amazing for families. Farm animals, a sprawling organic garden that feeds the restaurant, and impeccable service. Our littlest guy became very sick during our stay, and the staff could not have been more accommodating and doting. They brought dinner (farm-fresh roast chicken, heritage farms pork chop and shaved brussels sprouts) to our room, and made special dishes for our picky eater at breakfast the next morning (what child does not like french toast made with potato and raisin-cinnamon bread with caramelized fruit, egg custard and heavy cream… topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar?). Custom designed with our names dropped into each dish’s description, the menu was such a fun treat for our six-year-old to read. It was pouring rain when we were there, but we can’t wait to make it back during better weather–and health–to take advantage of the beautiful property and all the nearby hiking trails.

Check In: Shaker Village Inn

Harrodsburg, Kentucky
11.21.2012 | by: Meghan

It’s common knowledge that the Shakers had a  dedication to craft and commitment to quality, but while visiting the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, where you can bed down and spend a day or two wandering the pastoral landscape and absorbing their agrarian, communal lifestyle,  something occurred to me: the Shakers were like the original hipsters (without booze and sex, of course). Despite the whole celibacy thing, the Shakers are a pretty hip lot by modern standards. They dry herbs, jam, can, craft, carry worn leather bags of their own design, and even make their own shoes!

Anyone interested in simple Shaker architecture and traditional handcraft methods will flip to explore these beautiful grounds, where the Shaker devotion to the marriage of form and function is a natural extension of their honest, hardworking ideals. Messy with the business of creating–fabric scraps, worn leather, spools of colorful thread, baskets spilling wool–the workshops are perhaps the best testament to their credo, “Beauty is in utility.” I’m still in awe. The East Family Sisters Shop, with walls covered in tapestry, cross stitch and fabric, is dedicated to preparing wool, spinning yarn and working on some of the earliest American looms, while the men’s workshop turns out handmade brooms of endless variety: large brooms, buddy brooms, whisk brooms, pot scrubbers, tailor’s brushes, and cake testers. To this day, they’re still one of the largest producers of handmade brooms in the country; you can buy them at the shop. At the Cooper’s shop, the woodworker makes handsome-looking wooden vessels, including buckets, barrels and butter churners. And in the three-storied Centre Family House, the village’s impressive living museum where herb sacks hang on beds to protect the straw mattresses from insects, basketmaking and tanning/cobbling workshops are set up for demonstration, and to admire the old, beautiful tools and original (aesthetically pleasing) results of their labor. I’d know plenty of people who’d buy those leather uppers today.

It’s a good thing there’s an inn with 70 rooms spread across the grounds–above the restaurant and in old washhouses and sex-separated dormitories–because it would be a mad rush to to take it all in during an afternoon viewing. I was so disappointed when the inn was booked solid in October, but the unintentional silver lining: it was all but deserted at the end of November. We had the place to ourselves, and fall lasts longer in the Bluegrass State, so there were still brightly colored leaves in trees and a 10-degree bump in the weather. My six-year-old and I spent two days obsessing over the giant old wooden looms, carding wool, riding in horse-drawn carriages, petting the animals, feeding the ducks, smelling herbs in the medicinal garden, and touring some of the most beautiful old buildings I have ever seen. And because we stayed the night, our pace was slow and unhurried, leaving time to climb atop old farm equipment, linger in the sun-dappled lanes crisscrossing the rolling property, hop up on the wooden swing overlooking a pasture with two white horses, and take a short walk out to the crumbling cemetery at the edge of the village. We ate meals in the Treasury Building restaurant, and at night, after the last bit of sunlight dropped beneath the hills, we read books and played board games in our no-frills Shaker-style room, its white walls marked only by painted trim and peg rails. I think we did the Shakers proud (full disclosure: I may or may not have donned a woven bonnet on occasion).

Stay: Ballyportry (and other castles)

Co. Clare, Ireland
11.01.2012 | by: Meghan

After staying in a masseria this summer in Puglia, I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to stay in a castle in Scotland or Ireland. The ultimate living fantasy, for anyone, like me, with two boys in serious long-running knight phases. Here’s the thing though: you can’t stay in a castle alone. That’s creepy, right? In all their turreted glory with proper keeps, lookout towers and torture chambers, they were built to protect royal types and their entire staff/community, as well as show off their wealth and power. Some of the smaller ones, relatively speaking, are at least–at least!–10 bedrooms gigantic and sleep 25-plus people. If you don’t want to travel with 20 of your closest friends, there’s the quainter version of a full-blown castle, a tower house– a single tower built for smaller land-owning lordships with five or six floors and similar architectural details and defense systems.

A 15th-century Gaelic tower house that has been exquisitely renovated, Ballyportry Castle seems like the optimal size for two families or an extended family. It spans six floors and six bedrooms, with beds dressed in Irish linens and wool blankets, pottery made on the way into town, and furniture that reflects the time of late medieval Ireland–“a time of hospitality, song and poetry.” Located in watchtower-viewing distance from the Burren, the five-acre property offers plenty of its own natural beauty. Thick with moss and lichen, the trees provide plenty of hiding spots for retreating knights, who might want to steal a few minutes from battle to admire the red barked cricket willow or try to spy a pine marten, swan or donkey known to pass by.

Here, a few more castles also on my radar:

>>This stone Scottish castle is as tasteful as they come. The exact right parts medieval, rustic, plaid and Scottish eccentricity.
>>Exquisite. And there’s an ivy-covered manor house next door.
>>Frillier than most, the super-grand Castle of Lisheen. This sucker sleeps 16 and has the most beautiful Trompe L’oeil-style vaulted ceiling in the drawing room.

The sponsor of this post, HomeAway, offers the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals, which provide you more room to relax and added privacy (often for less than traditional hotel accommodations!). Make memories where you stay, not just where you go. — stay together.

Stay: Villa Pizzorusso

Mesagne, Puglia, Italy
09.10.2012 | by: Meghan

In Puglia, the flat, silty landscape is dotted with crumbling, abandoned masserias–fortified farmhouse estates (that look more like castles than farmhouses, but there’s not a perfect translation in English), built by landowners more than 500 years ago to protect their farms from pillaging Greeks and Normans and countless other warring factions. Off country roads and highways, you can see the massive, regal-looking structures lording over the olive groves, fruit trees and grapevines. Once they were guarded, fortified with looming towers and giant stone walls, now lopsided and crumbling into disrepair. I imagine they were pretty expensive to keep up, after enemy warfare and  looting bandits were no longer a concern.

A few of them have been saved by the lucky, brave soul who takes on a daunting renovation, converting the old stone structures into agriturismo b&bs or vacation rentals. Villa Pizzorusso is one such example–a jaw-dropping, absolutely flawless example–that a San Francisco-based couple (one part Puglian native) bought six years ago and spent three years rehabbing. Parts of which date back to the 1500s, the main level, all stone arches, ancient rough-hewn stone floors and star-vaulted ceilings, retains a rustic simplicity despite being filled with pristine, modern furnishings like ivory horse-hair chairs and an extra-long dining room table made with a beautiful slab of buried teak wood from Bali. Ancient ceramics abound, stone-carved stairs have been worn away in the center from use, and most charmingly, an old olive press that was found in the living room when they bought it hangs above the fireplace. Upstairs, an owner’s wing was added in the early 1800s (the noble quarters), and the Moorish and neoclassical architectural details are far more extravagant: smooth colorful tiled floors, the faded remains of pastel frescos across ceilings, ornate wood-carved chandeliers, and beautiful antiques in every room to match. There’s a turret at each corner; once watchtowers, they’ve been turned into closets (and in one case, a shower), and views from every single window are unfathomably beautiful. Red soil, pink light and silvery green leaves, the agricultural landscape unfolds with vineyards, fields of grain and secolari, those magnificent, gnarled hundreds-of-years-old olive trees, planted in perfect pin-straight lines as far as the eye can see.

The place is over-the-top stunning inside and out, but we were happiest outside, and spent 90 percent of our waking hours in the courtyard, cooking in the 500-year-old outdoor oven, eating figs we picked right off the trees, swimming in the extra-long pool running along the fortress wall that flanks the citrus grove. There’s a dining table under a pergola, a hammock under the fig tree, lounge chairs around the pool, an outdoor living room with cushy furniture, and smaller tables with chairs scattered about. For anyone with kids, there cannot be  a more perfect spot in all of Italy (the photos don’t begin to do the scale or beauty of the place justice). They never tired of exploring, catching geckos or swimming in that long, rectangular pool (yes, even under the stars). One evening we took them out into the olive groves at dusk, and it felt like some kind of enchanted fairytale, where they could climb trees, scale old walls, create makeshift forts, and duck in and out of old, empty outbuildings once used for storing fruit and olives, a blacksmith shop and additional sleeping quarters for farm workers. Although we fell pretty hard for Puglia, which is garnering a well-deserved reputation as a beautiful, more real/authentic (we didn’t see a single other American traveler) and reasonably priced alternative to Tuscany, it was difficult to leave Villa Pizzorusso to explore. I guess that’s the magic though–you really don’t need to.

The Details
Sleeps up to 14  across six bedrooms. Prices start at $5,135 during low season and $10,250/week during the high. Also included: two bikes, cleaning service and a wonderful welcome basket full of local specialties–wine, cheese, and taralli. Rent it at or by emailing

Check In: Jolli Lodge

Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan
09.26.2011 | by: Meghan

We just got back from a five-day weekend in Northern Michigan, and while most of the time was spent at our friends’ beautiful bluff-side cottage in Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula, we decided to check out the Jolli Lodge for a night. Families have been coming to this rustic lakeside compound since it opened in the ’50s, and two generations later, it’s still attracting many of the same folks–like our friend Brian, who spent his childhood vacations running around the forested grounds.

The third-generation owner, Greg, tries to adhere to his grandma’s wise adage: “If the kids are happy, the parents are happy.” We concur! With a tree house in the woods, a giant beach, an old-school playground overlooking the lake, shuffleboard courts, kayaks, an outdoor ping-pong table and tether-ball pole, the place is a dream for kids. It doesn’t matter that the interiors haven’t been fussed with in decades; in fact, that’s part of the charm. Time stands still at this cluster of classic white cottages with green clapboard shutters.

While You’re There
It’s easy to get sucked into the ease of lodge living, but make sure to venture out. The Leelanau Peninsula is one of our favorite places to take our kids. Just driving around, past orchards and far-as-the-eye-can-see farmland, is a thrill. Must stops: Leelanau State Park for hiking (one of the easy trails ends at a small cluster of quiet beach dunes); The Covered Wagon for doughnuts; Windy Knob sheep farm; Fishtown for watching the fisherman come in (and picking up fresh whitefish and smoked trout at Carleson’s), and Tandem Ciders, where we all line up at the small tasting bar (hard cider samples for mom and dad and the sweet variety for the little ones).

Round-Up: Farm Cottages

09.23.2011 | by: Meghan


About this time every year, when the leaves are just starting to turn, I get a clockwork urge to spend a weekend on a farm. I’m not too picky about the particulars–chickens or cows, a sprawling apple orchard or tidy rows of vegetables–as long as there’s the possibility of a farm chore or two and plenty of pretty acreage to explore, leaves crunching underfoot. We stayed at Folsom Inn (#2 below) in the spring, and loved watching the sheep amble across our bedroom window.

From the top:
1. Mast Farm Inn/Banner Elk, North Carolina 2. Folsom Inn/Marion, Alabama 3. Farmhouse Inn at Robinson Farm/Woodstock, Vermont 4. Century Farms/Suttons Bay, Michigan 5. Little Sugar River Farm/Albany, Wisconsin

Stay: Red Welly

Ty Coch, Wales
08.17.2011 | by: Meghan

This trifecta of rehabbed stone cottages in Wales was conceived by owners Miles and Julie Falkingham out of a desire to shelter three families or their own extended family in a place “with lots of outdoor space and a dining room that will seat everyone and a few drop-in guests.” After just returning from a long weekend with a handful of other families between six little yellow cottages, it’s a concept I wholeheartedly appreciate. Miles, who’s an architect, and his wife Julie renovated the old buildings, formerly a cottage, dairy and barn, then designed the interiors themselves, building furniture and creating custom lovespoon and jellyfish/polyp wallpaper for a few of the rooms. Outside, there are nine beautiful acres for lawn games, picnics and exploring, plus a pond and a little grassy lane that leads to a private, craggy beach (with seals!).

The Details
Sleeps up to 14 between the three cottages, which must be rented together, plus free camping for kiddos. Prices start around $2,000 for a week. Within walking distance to the village shop and pub. Red Welly is also dedicated to sustainable development, using local materials in construction and renewable energy sources, and they’re committed to preserving the land. Rent it at

Check In: Designtripper at the 21c!

Louisville, Kentucky
04.20.2011 | by: Meghan

After spending a few rollicking hours at the kid-geared UnMuseum in Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center, we loaded the kiddos (who may have been kicking and screaming) back in the car for a two-hour drive to Louisville, Kentucky, where we’re staying at the super-famed 21c Hotel. I cannot stress enough: This place is worth every single dribble of high praise. It is mind-blowingly cool. Take the repeat video of a sleeping couple in twisted sheets projected onto the floor in front of the reception desk. Or the interactive installation–Text Rain–in the elevator bank that drops little words of a poem around your shadow reflection. My toddler played with both for hours. But guess what? The staff totally encourages it. That’s right–no “please do not touch” signs or fussy  attendants following you around with the stink eye.

The story behind the hotel is pretty incredible, too. The owners Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown started the hotel not just because they have a vast personal collection that they wanted to share (much of the art on display is theirs), but they also wanted to help rescusitate the downtown. The couple, who lives on a 1,000-acre farm 25 miles down the river (they raise bison!), believe people can help save farmland through urban revitalization. Make things more interesting downtown, and folks will want to be there again. And so far, their plan seems to be working. In the past five years since the 21c opened, the people are flocking–tourists and locals–and there’s a renewed interest in the downtown scene.

The exhibits change pretty regularly, with major shows two to three times a year. Right now, the exhibit taking up most of the space is Cuba Now–a whopping collection of amazing contemporary art by Cuban artists (inspired by a trip Steve and Laura Lee took to Cuba in 2003; they’ve been collecting Cuban art ever since). The hotel is open to art viewers 24 hours a day–a fact I find pretty extraordinary. I like knowing that if I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep, I could go downstairs and watch all the videos I can’t get through with a toddler tugging at my skirt. But even better: the cold milk and warm cookies the staff brought, unsolicited, to our room before bed.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you everything we’ve done and seen in Louisville–which is such a beautiful, lush city of trees, historic cast-iron architecture and derby fever (even though it’s a couple weeks away).

For more photos from the road, go to the Lincoln-Designtripper site!

[Disclaimer: Ford Motor Company is the paying sponsor of designtripper’s road trip to New Orleans, which also included a Lincoln MKX for the duration of the trip.]

Stay: Parkamoor

Nibthwaite, Cumbria, UK
03.09.2011 | by: Meghan

By now, it’s probably no secret: I have a thing for old houses. I have relationships with them, I build entire trips around them, I study their crevices and crown moldings and broken floor tiles, making up stories about the people who spent lifetimes living and dreaming in the rooms. And when I find one like this 16th-century farmhouse, which is totally isolated, accessible only by foot (or a rambling old pick-up truck that will pick you up in a nearby town), I’m so happy I have people to share it with. Go forth!

The contemporary arts organization Grizedale Arts collaborated with the National Trust to fix up, furnish and decorate the space (but not too much), turning the historical stone house into the most amazingly simple and pared-down retreat–for artists and writers, yes, but also anyone else who appreciates scaling back, and you know, channeling their inner Laura Ingalls Wilder (is that just me?). Inside, there’s a library with a wood-burning stove, kitchen with wood-burning oven, well-worn, spartan furniture and a collection of paraffin lamps. Outside, rolling hills, forrest and a compostable outhouse. This means no electricity, running water or phone reception–a boon for those who agree that the ultimate luxury these days is peace, solitude and a dreamy old house on a big swath of pretty land.

The Details:
$650 a week. Sleeps six people in three bedrooms. Rent it at Welcome Beyond. All within walking distance: birdwatching, fishing and pub- and shop-filled old villages. Also, Lawson Park–historic Cumbrian hill farm and now the Grizedale Arts headquarters–is a 40 minute walk through the forest. You can visit the historic house and collections, farm gardens and wildflower meadow.

Stay: Casa Ninamu at TeiTiare

Sayulita, Mexico
02.24.2011 | by: Meghan

While I was in Sayulita, the property manager at the house where I was staying, Nick, introduced me to the talented Vogue and Travel + Leisure photographer Anne Menke. I had the chance to hang out with Anne and her incredibly nice and welcoming husband Johann, who insisted on picking me up in town, then proceeded to give me a top-to-bottom, Pacifico-in-hand tour of their breathtaking spread on the beach. As an interiors editor/writer I get to see some pretty remarkable homes, but this place has an unusual magical quality–a thatched-roof ode to Mexican Pacific architecture at the edge of the lush tropical jungle with majestic ocean views from almost everywhere. And with details like a swing in the bedroom, a bed hanging from ropes, the theater, an infinity pool at the edge of their open-air living room and pillows made of beautiful Mexican textiles tossed in every direction, it’s every bit a playful, comfortable family home as it is architectural stunner.

It’s no wonder they moved their family from New York City a couple years ago, making TeiTiare their full-time address (they also helped start the first green school in Mexico, the The Costa Verde International School, where their three boys attend). Before building the new dream home, Casa O’Te Miti, they lived in a more modest (but still gorgeous)  casita down the beach called Casa Ninamu. Painted cobalt blue, the original stucco house has two bedrooms, a surfboard hanging over the dining room table and a rooftop terrace. And now that they’re not living there, it’s regularly filled with guests–some they know, others they don’t. While I was there, Anne and Johann invited the current vacation renters over for a cocktail and were organizing a pizza dinner down on the beach for them. Even though she can see it from her current house or walk over anytime, Anne still gets a  little nostalgic talking about it. “I  miss it,” she says. “Sometimes I just want to go over and sleep there. We have so many family memories there.” I think that’s what makes it feel so special: They’re both emotionally invested in making sure everyone who stays there has the kind of meaningful experience that made them fall so in love with this place.

The Details
Casa Ninamu starts at $400 a night. They’re happy to accommodate weddings–which they have done, rather successfully. And in certain situations, they’re often willing to rent rooms from the tower of additional guest rooms a wooden bridge away from their own home.

Stay: San Francisco

San Francisco, California
12.15.2010 | by: Kelly

The best way to tackle the city of 46 hills by foot in a week… with a one-year-old: Split the trip between two apartments in two different neighborhoods.

Sprawling, wide-open studio in the Mission
Owned and operated by The Blackwell Files (a “real people” casting agency that scouts regular folks for commercial purposes), the studio is steps away from the Mission’s cafes and restaurants–more than you can comfortably sample in four days. The hand-drawn kid’s menu at Foreign Cinema and the thoughtful service at Delfina (“Would you like mashed potatoes for your daughter?” as soon as we sat down), not to mention getting Tartine bread without waiting in a line that stretches down the block,  make them fast neighborhood favorites for anyone traveling with a little one. The coffee and farm eggs from Stable–the little, way more accessible sister of the much ballyhoo-ed, tasting menu-driven Saison–were a morning staple.

Cozy-eclectic in Lower Haight
Leaving the post-grit, vibrant Mission for the more quintessential, postcard-y San Francisco vibe of the Duboce Triangle/Lower Haight gave us the opportunity to walk to and explore nearby Alamo Square, Buena Vista Park, Hayes Valley, the Castro and Dolores park. It was so nice to return to the art-filled apartment, tucked into the second floor of an Edwardian home, which doubles as a gallery when no one’s renting it. Our favorite seat in the house: a custom-built, pillow-covered window bench with a perfect view of the quiet, tree-lined street below.

The Details:
The Mission studio sleeps 4 and rents for $150 per night. Rent it at The Duboce Triangle/Lower Haight apartment sleeps 4 and rents for $130 per night. Rent it at