On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we met up with some friends at the Valley Rock Inn and Mountain Club. The name is reminiscent of a bygone era that saw the popularity of such leisure clubs for those seeking refuge from city life. A place where friends and family gather to share a common experience. As we approached, my mind conjured up images of the famed Kellerman's resort from the movie Dirty Dancing. As you pull into the parking lot, you may feel a bit disorientated because everything seems so ordinary. But if you just follow the signs, you will be greeted by two stone statues of deer to herald you into the entrance.
Ahead lies the entrance to the organic farm market which is bordered by the remnants of a building that has been reincarnated. Large stanchions flank the entrance which is guarded by a pair of stone stags. The garden tiles are hugged by new grass which create the welcome carpet as you are escorted through the entrance. I knew by this point that this is not going to be anything like a visit to Kellerman's.
The inn is located in the village of Sloatsburg, a region called the Seven Lakes. This sleepy village is being awoken by the Valley Rock Inn and Mountain Club. Nestled into the base of Ramapo mountains, the Valley Rock Inn and Mountain Club is buzzing with activity and progress. This resort is one man's dream. Michael Bruno was visionary in taking these once forgotten lands and turning it into a luxury experience. Housing the remains of the Waldron homes from the 1800's and affectionately referred to as "Waldron Row." With high ambitions, the property will boast larger hotel, fitness club, antiques shop, pool and restaurants.
Once inside the organic farm market, life slows down. The beauty of the produce and flowers beckon to be adored at a much slower pace. There is plenty here to create a picnic lunch for a hike at nearby Harriman State Park. The market includes a selection of baked goods that made my mouth water including gluten-free banana bread.
Meandering through the market there are items such as sweet candy grapes, organic berries and sweet corn. In another corner, a flower market selling giant globe peonies and white roses add a subtle fragrance to the air.
I loved the garden accents. Just look at the base of this table!
I left the market barn with a promise to return after lunch. Exiting into a large courtyard filled with classical string music, white pea gravel under my feet and the sun on my face. Reveling in the atmosphere of Mr. Bruno's inspiration, my mind wanders to Tuscany; I am transported on vacation.
At the far end of an esplanade, large sun-bleached doors beckon us to come look further. The sun is glaring off the tops of the white umbrellas and it just couldn't be a more perfect day.
My boys run off to play. They are in their element. All they need for fun is water, stones and grass.
Though I wanted to sit for a while in this garden courtyard, there was yet another set of sun-drenched doors at the far end of the courtyard that made me very curious.
The VR Bar & Grill restaurant lies beyond those big sun-drenched doors. Serving food alfresco with a very fine bar inside as well. Guests can also choose to eat in the nearby Rose Courtyard or the Shade Garden.
The trio of fire pits ready for evening bonfires.
Live oaks hold up the roof of the cabana where you can sit and have a cocktail.
Organic produce was delicious and fresh as it comes from the owners own gardens upstate. Each plate is adorn with edible flowers.
An example of their menu which changes depending on what is in season.
A guest waits for cocktails and you can see that incredible pool in the background.
The antique blue barn was once used for selling antiques!
One of the four guest houses available on the property. They are stunningly decorated. We highly recommend staying for a couple days so that you can visit the local area for antiquing, local farm food, and several iconic design centers.
WHO, WHAT, WHERE
VALLEY ROCK INN & MOUNTAIN CLUB
27 Mill Street, Sloatsburg, NY 10974
Check the website for the dining hours and for special events such as Farm Dinner evenings.
1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456
STORM KING ART CENTER
1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553
5006 US-9W, Newburgh, NY 12550
If you could chew ice cream, this would be the closest thing to it! It’s that thick and creamy. I kept wondering with each bite what is their secret ingredients. With their Greek heritage, my mind wandered to the thickness of Greek yogurts. Is their some method that they applied similar to how Greek yogurt is made to create that rich, creamy texture? We may never know but we will enjoy all the same.
They say you never know how many friends you have until you buy a beach house! Today's creative living profile comes to us from Jennifer Plotkin. We wanted to know more about beach life in Nosara, Costa Rica. We interviewed Jennifer Plotkin and her husband Gordon who have created a unique and exciting home for their family in Costa Rica. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your lifestyle Jennifer!
Photographer: Mark Saunders
Read full interview after the jump......
Photographer: Mark Saunders
How long have you had a home in Costa Rica?
We designed our home in Costa Rica while I was pregnant with our first daughter, about 5 years ago. It was built and finished when she was 6 months old, so we've owned it for a little over 4 years.
What do you love about Nosara?
We absolutely LOVE the essential purity of Nosara. There is still a feeling of being in an unspoiled natural environment. The landscape, the beaches, the wild animals, and the local people are so beautiful. Everything still seems to flow with the rhythms of nature and the ocean.
Photographer: Mark Saunders
How much yoga do you actually do when you are there?
Well, it depends on if you are asking before or after kids :) But, we have some beautiful yoga teachers there and its an incredible place to do yoga, amidst the sounds and smells of nature. Our daughters really love to join the classes too.
What are the essentials to bring to Nosara?
Flip flops, bathing suit, a comfortable dress, sun hat, sun glasses and sun block. If you surf, a surf board.
Photographer: Mark Saunders
Is there a secret beach you love?
There is an incredible beach about 45 minutes up the coast (up the dirt road) from Nosara called San Juanillo. Its a white sand beach, where the fishermen come in. The shells there are the most vibrant pink and purple colored shells I've ever found. Its like a treasure hunt and the water is beautiful. There is a very spiritual high vibe feeling there.
Photographer: Mark Saunders
What is your best tip on traveling internationally with kids?
Bring as much healthy food and snacks with you on the plane as you can (until you land and they make you get rid of it)! It really helps to keep everyone balanced and sane.
Photographer: Mark Saunders
What is your favorite restaurant in Nosara to go to with kids?
The kids LOVE the Harmony Hotel. The food is incredible and they love the Costa Rican casado. There is also a fantastic Turkish restaurant called La Casa, where they are happy to lay out rugs and pillows on the ground of the open air restaurant for the kids to fall asleep, while the parents enjoy dinner! We also love La Luna which has couches, pillows and tables leading to a gorgeous beach. You can watch the surfers at sunset and play in the sand while you wait for a delicious dinner!
Photographer: Mark Saunders
Do you have a favorite kid-friendly hotel recommendation?
We have stayed many times since they were babies at the Harmony Hotel. The staff (and people in general in Costa Rica) adore children. The children feel incredibly free to roam and wander the beautiful grounds there and search for monkeys, birds, butterflies, crabs, and all sorts of indigenous wild plants and animals.
When is the best time of year to go to Costa Rica?
Probably December through March. Others say July and August are best.
The Harmony Hotel-Guiones Beach, Nosara 5233, Costa Rica, www.harmonynosara.com
Restaurants-La Casa, Mango Street, North Playa Guiones, Nosara
La Luna-Playa Pelada, Nosara
Best Yoga-Nosara Wellness, Upper road to Playa Pelada, Nosara www.nosarawellness.com
Best Beach-Playa San Januillo, a small fishing village just north of Nosara. It is still a relatively undiscovered slice of Costa Rica.
How to get to Nosara:
The main airport is San Jose (Juan Santamaria International Airport, code – SJO) you will most likely find lower priced flights. However, Nosara is about a four-to-five hour drive from the San Jose Airport, depending on traffic!
If you fly into Liberia (Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, code – LIR) the flights are typically more expensive, but from Liberia you are closer to Nosara, roughly a two-hour drive.
If you are interested in experiencing Jennifer's Costa Rican lifestyle and home it is available for rent. You can view the video below.www.marksaundersphotography.com
As we are teetering on the edge of spring, dreaming of summer as the last flakes of snow sprinkle down outside. Our next vacation may still be a few weeks away but we have the memories of our favorite family vacation spots to keep us warm. I can smell the salty air now. I can feel my skin warmed by the sun. King Winter is fading.
Road to Stinson Beach, California Coastal Highway 1
One of the many that goes unmentioned when you have children is that your vacations will never, ever be the same. We don't want to give up our plush bedrooms for bunk bed rooms. We don't want to be sent to a far corner of the hotel in case our children were too loud or cried. We don't want to be sentenced to a life of chain hotels with free breakfast. We merely want to enjoy our family vacations in a way that allow us to show our children the world yet allow us a little luxury. So we are always in search of places that we can bring these two worlds together. We look for good food. We like to be near the ocean. We love to find a connection in some way to this beautiful earth and the people in it. The sun always helps but there have been rainy vacation days that we embraced, leaving us with fond memories.
Mini lifeguard wearing bud & june boys' bikini
We ventured to Stinson Beach simply for its geographic location just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Stinson Beach is the place you may have never heard of but it is destined to be one of your favorite beach spots! The road to get to Stinson Beach is Highway 1 which is a notoriously winding road with steep cliffs that are breathtaking. If you are the passenger, I would advise keeping your eyes on the ocean or the road ahead of you. If you are the driver, I would advise keeping your eyes only on the road ahead of you.The side of the roads are remarkably steep! Stinson Beach is nestled in between mountains that plummet to end at the ocean. Regardless of the fact that our backseat had two occupied carseats, it still felt incredibly romantic driving as we made our way to this remote beach area.
When you pull off the main road, the pace slows way down. The roads become gravel, there are flowers in bloom and buildings are tucked away behind lush vegetation. We stayed at the charming Sandpiper (sandpiperstinsonbeach.com). Sandpiper is named after the famous movie The Sandpiper (1965) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. A perfect movie to accompany the vacation! We rented a cottage with a fireplace that was decorated in a rustic beach decor. Just outside of our door was a lane that leads to a lovely garden. Just passed the garden is a sandy lane that takes you to the beach. We were delighted to have found such wonderful accommodations so close to the beach. They offer an assortment of children's beach toys that you may borrow to take to the beach.
Joyfully running in bud & june swim suit
The town of Stinson Beach is completely walkable. Once you arrive you probably will not step back into your car until you leave to head home. It is so enjoyable to not have to pack the car to go sightsee with children. It makes for much happier vacation days! The mornings are filled with fog so most people do not go to the beach until the late morning which leaves a perfectly empty beach to explore. The Siren Canteen (sirencanteen.com) is just steps from the ocean at the base of the lifeguard tower. You can find crêpes, burgers and tacos on the menu at this popular spot.
The Siren Canteen on a foggy morning
There are several other enjoyable restaurants, a surf shop, and a market. Stinson Beach has a wonderful laid-back atmosphere. The Breakers (stinsonbeachcafe.com) restaurant has adopted a "No Shoes, No Shirt: We’ll serve you!" motto. We love Parkside Cafe (parksidecafe.com) which is aptly named as it is situated across from the Village Green and playground. It consists of a string of eating options including a bakery, cafe, and snack bar. There is also an ice cream shop and coffee shop nearby.
There is always a dilemma at the end of the day when we want to go out for dinner but the kids are too tired. (Read we don't want to put other diners through a potentially harrowing meal!) Somehow eating outdoors always allows the kids the space they need to get through a dinner at the end of a busy day. Parkside Cafe gave us that bit of comfort with their romantic outdoor spaces. We ate dinner in the garden under the stars with the moon smiling down over us. A perfectly memorable ending to a beach day.
Moonlight dinner in the garden at Parkside Cafe.
The Village Green park and playground
The local market is Stinson Beach Market where you can find just about anything you may need. There is a nice selection of local food from nearby farms, beach gear, and a popular coffee filling station. You will see many locals filing in and out getting their morning coffee before starting their day.
We spent our days drifting back into town to eat or explore then returning to the beach for more fun. The stretch of the beach is quite long and there are many large rock formations that the kids loved to investigate. The lifeguards were not on duty so we took the opportunity to have fun on the lifeguard towers! Of course, our boys were honing their surf skills in bud & june swimsuits. A little wooden surf board they found kept them entertained for hours. There is a lovely community spirit at Stinson Beach. You will often see items left for others to use and each morning there is a group of volunteers that comes to clean the beach of any debris.
A little surfer wearing bud & june swimsuit
A tiny lifeguard in bud & june
In town, you will also find a well regarded surf shop called Live Water (livewatersurfshop.com) which borrows from the fact that the waters off the coast of Stinson Beach have been known have sharks in them. But don't let that deter you as the beach stays shallow enough for plenty of play! It is a big surf community so there is a lot of knowledge shared among the surfers at this favorite shop. They rent surf gear, sell surfboards and other accessories. A little history about this surf shop, they are the only surf shop that holds the copyright to the famous "no-shark" swag that was designed in 1978 by Kirby Ferris.
Sandpiper Inn 1 Marine Way, Stinson Beach Ph:(415) 969-9032
Red Haus Bed & Breakfast Belvedere & Highway 1, Stinson Beach Ph: (415) 868-1034
Parkside Cafe 43 Arenal Avenue, Stinson Beach
Sand Dollar 3458 Shoreline Highway, Stinson Beach for a lovely meal accompanied by live music
The Breakers 3465 Highway 1, Stinson Beach
Head to Point Reyes National Seashore-spend a day tide pooling at Duxbury Reef and the night around a bonfire on the beach.
Discover Muir Woods National Park by letting the kids become Junior Rangers for the day. Parking lots fill up early so plan to arrive before 10 am. Plan for no cell phone reception as well.
Get a little Zen at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center which offers an open house on Sundays that include lecture, meditation, tea and a lunch. First Sundays of the month are specially for kids.
I hope you enjoyed our trip to the beach! Our boys are more comfortable and more adventurous than ever in their bud & june swimsuits. If you're interested in shorter, more form-fitting suits for your boys that will literally make them jump up and down, you can view our full collection here (www.budandjune.com)."
Do share with us your photos or reviews if you go! Or maybe you have already been there? If you have some tidbits about Stinson Beach please add in the comments section.
Welcome to The Salt Life! Our notebook on all things that inspire and motivate us at bud & june. The ocean, beaches, love, family, children, travel, vacations and basically anything that makes this world so magical.
Look for our 'Behind The Scenes' feature to learn about the "village" it takes and the amazing individuals that make our collection proudly in the USA. We look forward to bringing you behind the scenes of our company. You will meet the people behind the brand such as our cutters, seamstresses and printers.
We didn't forget about our customers. You can submit a photo of you, your family and we especially love photos of your kids wearing their favorite bud & june bathing suit. We want to know your favorite family vacation spot, travel essentials, or funny travel stories. We know you have a great vacation story! See if your photo gets featured! Submit your story to us at email@example.com.
We will also be highlighting the mother and son relationship through photo journaling. It is a special bond between mother and son that we love to talk more about. Let us know if you have a special photo that was captured with your son. Tell us what it means to you.
We started this journey over one year ago. It was few weeks into the New Year 2014 when we knew this year was going to be a different kind of year. It was the year to start the business we had always dreamed of creating. There was an energy in the air, our hearts beat a little faster and we got to work. Now there would have been easier times in our life to start a clothing line. Plenty of times in fact. Yet we chose the craziest time in our life. We were knee-deep in baby diapers, navigating toddler emotions and sleep deprived. Yes, it was a perfect time to start a business.The idea for bud & june started at the beach, of course! Well, it started before we got to the beach. There was not one bathing suit that we wanted to put on our boys. We like to consider ourselves resourceful but struggled to find anything. We addressed our issues with the current offerings for boys.
- The styles were too long on their small frame.
- Too much fabric especially when wet they sagged even more exposing their bums.
- They all looked the same. The same short made in different "boy" colors.
The style of short most offered for boys is called a boardshort. It has its origins from the surf world in that the style is used when doing sports requiring a board such as a surfboard. It was important that the shorts were long in order for the surfers leg hair to not get stuck on the wax of the surfboard while sitting and waiting for waves. Now I don't know about your children but we don't have that problem with our boys. We love surfers. But our boys are still honing their surf skills at the shoreline. They mostly spend their time dumping sand on our beach blanket, digging for treasures or running from waves. ( And they do enjoy to eat their share of sand too!)
It made sense to us that the suits needed to be shorter and more form fitting. We started on our prototypes. We sewed the samples ourselves until we had what we envisioned. During this whole process, our boys have been on this journey with us. Their feedback by words or movements has guided us. The final test was that our boys loved them! They were excited to have free movement in their bathing suit. Literally, jumping up and down in them. They wore them all season, on vacations and even just out and about to playgrounds, grocery stores and play dates. They dry quick, they are comfortable and maybe just as important allows our children to express themselves by being different.