Timeshare travel ~ The Westin Ocean Resort Villas

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The Westin Ocean Resort Villas, Kauai

2013 Timeshare Facts

There are 29 percent more resorts planned for 2014

1,540 timeshare resorts in the United States, representing about 192,420 units

Average resort size is 125 units

Beach resorts are the most common type of resort

Urban resorts have the highest occupancy

Florida has the most resorts — 23% of the national total

Nevada has the largest average resort size — 283 units on average

Hawaii has the highest average sales price — $27,712 and occupancy rate 85.2%

Lobby

Lobby

Spacious balcony

Spacious balcony

Vacation is something to look forward to, a much-needed break, time for R&R, but when traveling with a family, kids or grandchildren ~ a hotel room can prove to be challenging. With only two beds, a tv and a bathroom, the space turns into kids jumping from bed to bed or teens fighting in a confined area. Now, the idea of vacation has just completely taken a nose dive. This post is not to promote the purchase of timeshare, but merely to outline the benefits of timeshare vacationing whether you purchase or simply book a night.

We absolutely LOVE to stay in timeshare units for several reasons. Most timeshare units are extremely spacious, including multiple rooms, washer & dryer in unit, fully stalked kitchens, towels, BBQ utensils, and ice chests. The convenience of more than one TV in the unit is nice. This allows the parents to watch one show while the kids watch a movie in the living room. You never know when the weather may turn and you find yourselves indoors watching movies all day. Timeshare properties are in constant competition with other timeshare properties; therefore, the amenities just keep getting better!!! Expect spacious balconies, which is the perfect spot to eat breakfast, watch birds, have a glass of wine or, at the Westin Ocean Resort Villas, watch golfers play on the Makai Golf Course or simply view the ocean waves roll in.

Ping Pong

Ping Pong

The Westin Ocean Resorts Villas are located in Princeville on Kauai’s north shore.

Pool tables

Pool tables

The units at the Westin set up high on the north shore, overlooking the ocean; however, there is not an accessible beach from the resort itself. Gorgeous Hanalei Bay is just 3.8 miles up the road. The Westin has multiple pools, bbq’s overlooking the ocean, pool tables, state-of-the-art gym, on-site market, poolside bar, pool wait staff, ocean front massage cabanas, restaurant, multiple hot tubs, ping-pong tables and much more. It is the perfect place to stay and not have to leave for any reason. If you already live near a beach and you just want to get away without having to leave once you get there, this is the place!

The ping-pong and pool tables are a great way to enjoy family time. We took turns, teaming up with boys against girls and adults verses kids. It gives families a chance to have healthy, competitive fun. Stay active- get moving! The gym at the Westin is a state-of-the-art fitness facility which includes Life Fitness equipment. The fitness center is glass, allowing each guest an ocean view while exercising away. The fitness center has complimentary, chilled water and towels for an  after workout shower.

IMG_1498Since vacation is all about relaxation, let’s talk about the pools. The Ocean Resort Villas have 4 pools. The Main Pool (pictured above) is a multilevel pool surrounded by lounge chairs with straw covered bungalows. Little ones will love to splash around in the Keiki (children’s) pool which has a small slide and two turtles to climb on. There are two other plunge pools located around the resort. The resort is quite spread out, so it is nice to have pools located throughout.

Keiki Pool

Keiki Pool

Nanea

Nanea

 

Wailele Bar

Wailele Bar

Nanea is the main restaurant on property, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with a brunch on Sundays.  Enjoy dining in the open-aired dining room or outside on the terrace. Gluten-free and vegan options are available on the menu. Nanea Restaurant and Bar offers a 5 course tasting menu with wine pairing.

When lounging poolside, order lunch from the Wailele (waterfall) Bar and have it brought to your chair. While eating lunch or sipping on a tropical cocktail, there are views of three waterfalls atop surrounding mountain peaks.

BBQ with a view

BBQ with a view

IMG_1577Our favorite amenity at the Westin Ocean Resort Villas are the bbq’s!!! It doesn’t really feel like cooking when you can enjoy an ocean view while lounging poolside. Relax in the whirlpools while your food is grilling away. When the food is ready, sit outside and eat as a family, sip wine and play games. Some of the outdoor eating areas are covered for the occasional passing shower. We spent every evening outside grilling different foods. Be creative, make something different and fun since it is vacation! Go for shish kabob, marinated vegetables or lobster. Adults can enjoy long dinners with conversation while the kids splash away in the pool.

BBQ’s are located throughout the property. Availability of tables was never an issue. One evening we shared a large table with another family on vacation. The property is very family friendly and has a lively atmosphere with music playing in the evenings.

Covered tables

Covered tables

Now for the villas~

Living room

Living room

There are studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units available, decorated in Hawaiian furnishings. The studio does not have  a dining room or a dining room table. It is perfect for two people but very cramped for 4. The 1 bedroom villa is perfect for 4 people, as the couch makes into a bed. The 1 bedroom comes with a full kitchen, with the exception of an oven. There is a convection microwave which makes most things. We were able to make pizza one day. The 1 bedroom includes a spacious lanai (balcony) which is accessible from the living and bedroom. Our unit was up high with fantastic views of the golf course, trees and ocean. The lanai was a favorite spot in the evenings when the ocean breezes kicked up.

For those of you who are not familiar with Westin brand, you are missing out on the Heavenly Bed!!!! In fact, you can order a Heavenly bed and have it delivered to your house. People were so in love with the Westin beds, that they finally became available for purchase. The best way to describe the experience of a Heavenly bed, is sinking into clouds. So if you want to sink into a cloud of relaxation, I suggest booking a room at Westin to try it out for yourself.

Heavenly Bed

Heavenly Bed

Koi feeding

Koi feeding

Our second favorite thing about timeshare- the daily calendar of events!

Design a tote bag

Design a tote bag

There is something going on daily. The day started out with a Fish Feeding Frenzy at the Koi pond. The kids were given fish food to throw into the pond while they were educated about the Koi fish.

Next we were off to arts and crafts where the kids designed a tote bag. Get the puffy paints out, choose a tote and start designing. The best part is, everything takes place outside near the pool. Kids will love the henna tattoos, tissue paper flowers, and coconut postcards.

 

The Makai Golf Course

The Makai Golf Course

Money Savings Tips~ Compare room prices by searching all hotel search engines such as hotels.com, expedia.com, priceline.com and orbiz.com. You don’t have to be a timeshare owner to enjoy the benefits of a timeshare property. Many owners give their weeks up for points or trade out for other properties and then the property sells the units fpr a nightly rate. Stop off at Costco (near the airport) prior to heading up north to the Westin. Grab enough groceries for your stay and keep bbq’n in mind. Costco is a one hour drive each way from the property, so it’s best to only go there once during your stay. The Westin is a great place to enjoy grilling poolside while the kids play.

 

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Duane’s Ono Char Burger

Blue Cheese Burger

Blue Cheese Burger

Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.

~ Matthew McConaughey
photo 3 (3)We rarely eat burgers, but we when have that craving- we don’t mess around!!Whether your preference is beef, fish, chicken or Boca (soy) burger, there is something for everyone at Duane’s. If burgers aren’t your thing, than try the fish and chips, grilled cheese, Tuna & avocado sandwich or grilled chicken sandwich. Duane’s Ono Char Burger is a burger shack located off the side of the road in Anahola, Kauai at 4-4350 Kuhio Hwy. You will pass it on your drive to the North Shore. There is always a ton of smoke billowing out of the red shack which smells amazing as you drive by!!!! Duane’s Ono Char is famous for cooking up smokey-charred burgers on their seasoned, old grill! Choose your burger with Duane’s secret teriyaki sauce or blue cheese.Don’t expect fancy!!!! If you want fancy, there are plenty of nice, touristy restaurants on island which

Seating at Duane's Ono Char Burger

Seating at Duane’s Ono Char Burger

serve burgers. Duane’s Ono Char is a shack, literally. Plan on eating outside among chickens roaming about, IF you can find a seat. Pick up your food in a red, plastic basket at the window. It’s a burger joint, so don’t expect more than that. At Duane’s you can order a burger almost any way. Choose from teriyaki sauce, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, blue cheese, swiss cheese, avocado, pineapple, barbecue sauce, grilled onions, sprouts, or bacon. Local favorites include the broiled fish sandwich and the marionberry ice-cream shake.

A Little About Boca Burgers~

Boca Burger is a veggie burger made of soy protein and wheat gluten. Soy-based meat alternatives are becoming more and more common at hamburger joints. Originating from Boca Raton, Florida, in 1979, Boca Burgers were known as the “Sun Burger”. The organic Boca Burger was created in 2001. They are available in grocery stores, club stores, natural foods stores and at restaurants nationally.

Duane's Ono Char Burger stand

Duane’s Ono Char Burger stand

Give me Caviar Kaspia and give me a hamburger. I love the two extremes.

~ Michael Kors
Menu

Menu

Duane’s Ono Char Burger is a family friendly burger shack complete with a kids menu! Kids will be happy to have their own options which include: Keiki (kids) Burger, Keiki Fish or 2 piece Chicken Strips. The french fries and onion rings are a must! Try shaking some Kauai sea salt on top of the french fries. Yummy!!!! The shaker is located on the counter where you pick up the food.
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SUP in paradise

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Kalapaki Bay, Kauai

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.

~ John F. Kennedy

 What is SUP? SUP is stand up paddle boarding, also known as Hoe he’e nalu due to originating in Hawaii. There you have it! Hawaii is the birthplace of the popular sport known as SUP. Exercising, especially while on vacation, needs to be fun and enjoyable.  If it isn’t, odds are you won’t do it at all or not more than once.

In 2013, SUP was rated the #1 new activity for beginners in the U.S. Our family are not surfers, so we cannot compare it to surfing. However, for non-surfers, we found it to be fairly simple and fun. You don’t have to live near the ocean to SUP. It’s a sport which has gained popularity and is popping up everywhere. SUP can be spotted on lakes, large rivers, canals, and bays. When going on vacation or out of town for a weekend, rent a SUP board. If your friend has a board- ask to try it out! It feels as though you’re walking on water.

Don’t confuse SUP with traditional paddle boarding, which is done by kneeling on a board and paddling with your hands. Although, SUP is often referred to as “paddle boarding” for short.

How did SUP come about? In researching SUP, its is unclear as to exactly when it all began. 2005 seems to be the year that it really took off. Some research states that SUP began in the 1960’s as the “Beach Boys of Waikiki” paddled on long boards.  Others credit Laird Hamilton (American Big-wave/tow-in surfer) for setting the SUP trend in the late 1990s. Some say that Duke Kahanamoku (five-time Hawaiian Olympic medalist in swimming & known for spreading the surfing trend) was the first to “surf ski” in 1939. Surf Ski looks similar to SUP. One thing about SUP that is very clear,  is where it all began – Hawaii.

Stand Up Paddle Surfing is surfing waves with a paddle on a paddle board. Rick Thomas was the first present-day surfer to bring stand up paddle surfing to the Mainland from Hawaii. Stand up paddle surfing is said to offer the surfer a better view of the incoming waves.

On September 13 & 14, 2012 the first SUP world champion races were held at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu. The title of first SUP world champion was won by Kai Lenny.

Why SUP~

It’s all about burning calories while having fun! SUP allows you to have fun in the sun without noticing how hard you’re working. Paddle away!!! Glide around effortlessly, on a non-windy day or use those arms muscles to paddle against the current on a windy day. SUP works all the muscles in your body, concentrating on the core. Paddling is a great way to work the upper body. Most beginners feel it in their arms after the first day. On average men burn 800-1000 calories in one hour of  SUP, while women burn 500-700 calories per hour. I find SUP to be extremely relaxing. Paddling around by yourself, while taking in the beauty. It is also fun to paddle next to a friend and chat away. Our kids have been quite creative finding things to do while they SUP such as looking around for sea turtles and tropical fish, then swimming back out to the area to snorkel.

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Kalapaki Bay, Kauai

SUP Tips~

Our family found SUP to be rather easy on a flat day. SUP is all about balance and for some people, that may be a challenge. We have taken many first-time SUP on our board. We tend to prefer the bay on calm day as pictured above. It is rather difficult to learn on a choppy day. On Kauai, the water tends to be calmer in the mornings, as the wind kicks up in the afternoon. Here are some tips: know how to swim. If you cannot swim than you do not belong on a SUP board without a life jacket. When SUP on a lake/ocean always attach the leash. It doesn’t matter how good you may think you are, anyone can fall or get knocked off and you don’t want to lose the board. One of our guests, flew up in the air and landed on the board thinking he may have cracked a rib. While this is rare, you wouldn’t want to be in the water/waves with a broken rib and nothing to hang on to. If you have to choose between your board or paddle, leave your paddle. The paddle will float and someone can go back for it later. Observe the water currents and start off going against the current. It takes a lot more energy to go against the current and you don’t want to paddle way out with ease and then not be able to get back. Experts advise against using the leash in a river due to snags. Use the paddle for balance when needed by pushing the blade forward to back until you feel stable.

How to SUP~

We are not instructors by any means, but tend to take a lot of first timers out to SUP when they come to Kauai. For beginners, it is all about getting comfortable with the board. Start off sitting on your knees. It is a great way to get a feel for the board. You want to know what your first wave will feel like and how the board will move. Paddle around on your knees and then stand when you feel comfortable. The first time we went out, we spent time on our knees for a good 10 minutes getting familiar with turning and use of the paddle prior to standing up. Most importantly, stand in the middle of the board and bend your knees a little. If your feet are too far forward , the nose of the board will start to go under the water. If they are too far back then the tail will drag.

Surfer’s will ride the SUP board in their typical surfer’s stance (one foot forward) which is best for tackling waves. If you panic at a large wave coming your direction or see something move underneath the board, just sit down on your knees. If all else fails, sit and gain your composure. We SUP in the ocean and often times we will see large eels or sea turtles passing under the board. Sometimes it may cause you to lose balance when you’re looking around to see where it went.

How to Use the Paddle~

The paddle can be awkward if not using properly. They are usually adjustable. Be sure the paddle isn’t way too long for you or vice versa. We have a short paddle for our kids and a longer one for the adults. First off, place your dominant hand on the handle at the top of the paddle to gain control. Do not attempt to hold the paddle in the middle or near the top. Place your other hand about waist high on the paddle. Reach forward as you paddle with the blade angled forward. Don’t lean forward because it will throw off your balance, just simply stroke forward and then stroke back. If you are leaning forward or hunched over, you will feel it in your lower back.

Kalapaki Bay. Kauai

Kalapaki Bay. Kauai

Robbie totally focussed

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SUP can be done at any age. Our son first started SUP at age 7 and stood up the first time. Safety First!! We set rules with the kids prior to going out. Here are some of our rules: don’t paddle out past the break, keep the leash on at all times, don’t panic, get back on the board if you fall, stay out-of-the-way of surfers, watch the waves, know where you started from and wave the paddle in the air if you need help.

Below is a list of the Travelchannel.com  World’s Best Stand Up Paddleboarding Spots

Hawaii

Santa Barbara, CA

Bahamas

Whistler, Canada

Costa Rica

Key west

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Redondo Beach, CA

Seattle, WA

Black Canyon, NV

Lake Tahoe, CA

Antarctic Peninsula

When visiting Kauai rent a board!!! Our favorite spot is Kalapaki Bay (East Side) and boards are available for rent at Kama’aina Surf and Sport located at 3486 Rice St. It’s a convenient stop located near the entrance to Kalapaki Bay. If you don’t have a truck, just carry the board to the beach. Another great place to SUP on Kauai is at Hanalei Bay (North Shore). Boards are available to rent at Hawaiian Surfing Adventures as you come into the town of Hanalei, located on the right side of the road at 5-5134 Kuhio Highway. They also offer private or group lessons for surfing, SUP, and SUP yoga.

 

Rob & Robbie shaka

The latest trend in stand up paddle board is SUP yoga. Yes, this means doing yoga while on a SUP board on the water (river). I can’t imagine doing it successfully, but more power to the yoga peeps!!!

Money Saving Tips: Most of the SUP rental shops located right on the beach/lake tend to be much more expensive than renting a SUP board off site. The two rental places named in this post are located off-site. Compare prices, especially if you notice several shops within walking distance of each other. Weekly rentals will be your best bet if you have a place to store it and a vehicle to transport.

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Hike Kuilau Ridge Trail, Kauai

Kuilau Ridge Trail

Kuilau 3Often times, travel means eating out more than usual or consuming more calories than you would at home. The mindset of we are on vacation, it won’t hurt sets in. Then, a week or two goes by and your body starts to feel irritated and draggy. I have incorporated a Travel Fit section into this blog where you can find healthy food options such as local farmer’s markets and take part in activities with the entire family while on vacation. If healthy travel interest you, click on “travel fit” listed under topics on the right hand column of the blog.

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is an ideal trail for families of all ages and perfect for the novice hiker. Best of all- it is free! Kuilau Ridge Trail offers breathtaking, Kuilau 4panoramic views of the Makaleha Mountains!!!! As you can see from the picture above, the views are  multidimensional and are almost too much to take in. If visiting the island of Kauai, the trail would be a great place to snap a family photo. We had professional photographers visiting  the island and decided to take them on this trail due to the scenery. Revel in the beauty of the mountain range, explore the island and appreciate the inland views. When tourists come to Kauai, they always want that ocean view! The bright green, sweeping mountains is equally gorgeous and will leave you in awe. There is a reason that so many movies are filmed on Kauai.

The Kuilau Ridge Trail offers large trees which provide shade on the majority of the path. The trail is fun for kids, as they can pick up a walking stick along the way awhile observing the Ohia tree forest and birds. Kuilau Ridge Trail has a gradual incline as you make your way to the flat, open area at the top. Pack a picnic lunch for the family or wine & cheese for a romantic sunset hike. There are two picnic tables located one mile up the path,  for the perfect rest stop. If hiking a mile up and back isn’t for you, than turn around and make your way back at any time.

Picnic

Picnic

 

How to get there~

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is located in Wailua. Hikers must drive to the trail head which will take you through the rural neighborhoods of Wailua and up into the forested park area of Keahua. The trail begins just before the park area on the right. There is a small parking area on the right hand side of the road (about 3 cars) or continue to drive a little further, where the stream crosses the road and park there.

Take Hwy 56 towards Wailua, turn right on Kuuamoo Road and continue approximately 6.9 miles until you see the trail head. A small sign will indicate the beginning of the trail.

Views of Mount Waialeale (translates to rippling water/overflowing water), the wettest place on Earth, can be seen from the picnic area on a clear day from the top of the trail. Rising to 5,148 feet, Mount Waialeale receives approximately 452 inches of rain per year.

For those of you who prefer to continue on past the one mile picnic area, the Kuilau Trail connects to the Moalepe Trail for a total distance of 3.5 miles. Hikers can make a complete day of the trails or go up for lunch and come back down in approximately 2 hours.

Kuilau 6

Views from Kuilau Ridge Trail

 

Hiking tips: Wear comfortable shoes, socks and a hat. Don’t attempt to hike in flip flops, sandals or water shoes, as the trail can be muddy depending on weather. Carry a small backpack and be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, small blanket for the grass and insect repellent if the bugs love you.  Kauai rains a lot and the weather is unpredictable, so bring a light rain coat or sweatshirt for the kids just in case. The large, open area at the top is a great place to lay down and watch the clouds or play family board games /cards. The cell range is intermittent on the path. The trail does not have facilities, please use the restroom before you hike.

 5wheelsto5star is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine

Papalani Gelato ~ Italian-style on Kauai

Papalani Gelato

Lava Flow, Strawberry & Sprinkles

IMG_1813Our family likes to consider themselves “gelato connoisseurs” after sampling gelato throughout the Mediterranean. In fact, this blog has a section dedicated specifically to gelato- listed under “topics” on the right hand side.

We are pleased to recommend a local spot, Papalani Gelato, right in our home town of Kauai. We have traveled half way around the world to eat some of the best gelato in Italy , sampling our way through Rome, Sorrento, Capri, Tuscany, and Florence. Spain has amazing gelato as well! Now, we can have it right here on Kauai. On that next hot, humid, day (that’s every day)~ grab a gelato!

If you have not read our other post titled, For the Love of Gelato!, here is a brief background as to why gelato differs from ice cream. Gelato refers to varieties of ice cream made in a traditional Italian-style which is made with milk, cream, various sugars, and flavoring such as fresh fruit and nut purees. Just remember this equation:

Gelato= less fat + no air added = richer taste

Papalani specializes in handmade Hawaiian-style gelato. What exactly is Hawaiian-style gelato? Handmade each day in small batches, with unique Hawaiian flavors inspired by local fruits, nuts mixed with traditional gelato flavors. You will notice some of the flavors are named after local towns or popular spots on the island. The owner’s fell in love with gelato upon spending time in Italy. Their first gelato shop, Salt Spring Gelato, began on Salt Spring Island, Canada in 2003. Five years later, the first Papalani Gelato opened in the little, touristy town of Poipu on Kauai.

As you can see in the picture above, Papalani also offers locally made muffins, scones, cookies, and gluten-free coffee cakes. The pastries are made with organic, local ingredients and fruits.

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Peanut Butter Gelato

Gluten free & Sugar Free Options~

Papalani offers all types of dietary options such as: dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. After a long bike ride, an island run or just a day of surfing, look for the “Fit Freezes”, which are drinks that have  20g protein or more, 130 calories, and 2 grams of sugar or less.

Hawaii Flavors offered: Papalani Pie, Coconut MacNut Fudge, Chocolate Banana, Banana, Banana Split, Belgian Chocolate, Bubble Gum, Caramel MacNut, Cheesecake, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Coconut, Kalaheo Cookies, Oreoes and Cream, Cafe Espresso, Green Tea, Hazelnut, Honu Chocolate, Kauai Crunch, Pina Colada, Lava Flow, Macadamia Nut Butter, Milk Chocolate, Mint Chip, Pistachio, Stracciatella, Tiger Butter, Tiramisu, Madagascar Vanilla Bean, White Chocolate Raspberry, Mango Coconut and Salt Ponds.

Sugar Free Flavors include~ Chocolate, Hazelnut, Pistachio & Macadamia Nut Butter

My favorite flavor is the Kauai Crunch made with caramel, macnuts, chocolate cookie sauce, and coconut. Of course it is not gluten-free or sugar-free. My second favorite is the Honu (turtle) Chocolate made with dark chocolate gelato, caramel, and macnuts. Great part, it is gluten-free!

Papalani has gift cards available. This is actually how we discovered their existence! Our kids were given gift cards for Easter and off we went!!!

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Anchor Cove, Lihue, Kauai

Kauai Locations~

Anchor Cove Shopping Center
3366 Waapa Rd, Lihue, Kauai

Poipu Shopping Village
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Road, Poipu, Kauai

Florida Locations~

Telecom Park Shopping Center
13312 Telecom Drive, Temple Terrace, Florida

Brandon Mall
459 Brandon Town Center Dr, Brandon, Florida

Learn more about the history of gelato and view pictures of various types of gelato that we sampled throughout the Mediterranean on our post For the Love of Gelato!

 5wheelsto5star is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Fork, Loyal to Local

Fork

Fork

photo 2It was my first time in Boise and now I can finally add another state to this blog. I highly recommend visiting in June, due to the pleasant weather around mid 80’s each day. Warning- the weather changes rapidly, as one day we were wearing shorts and froze.  During my short stay there, Boise seemed to be a rather small, quaint, laid back town. People were friendly and it felt very safe! I loved downtown Boise, with building after building made of red, brick with flower boxes hanging out of the windows from above and at street level. Downtown Boise is historic while modern at the same time, with bistros, cafes and cute shops. Family friendly, walking paths and just a vibe that felt good. Without time to research restaurants, we took to the streets of downtown in search of a place to eat. It is very simple to find your way away around, albeit there are a lot of one way streets. Parking garages are everywhere, many offering the first hour free. Parking fees are relative, but I thought it was extremely cheap – around $2.50 for 2 hours ($12 max per day).

While walking around downtown looking for a place to eat lunch, we stumbled upon cafe after cafe.

Cheese Quesadilla

Cheese Quesadilla

Having a difficult time choosing a place for lunch, we peeked in some of the cafes and kept on walking until we saw Fork. The building, one of  Boise’s oldest downtown landmarks and formally Boise City National Bank, is made of tan brick on the outside with vibrant red umbrellas, lattice siding and hanging plants on the patio. Located at 199 N. 8th Street, just steps from Idaho’s Capital Building and Capital City Market. We smelled the restaurant before we saw it. We stopped and read the menu and instantly noticed gluten-free and vegetarian options displayed. We also had a stroller in our party and needed to have a spacious area to sit while dining. I am a “foodie” and appreciate sidewalk cafes and the farm-to-table concept. Fork has developed a “Loyal to Local” theme with a commitment to using local produce and cheeses for their main ingredients.

If you love local beers, you will be pleased to know that 75% of the beer is from the great Northwest region. I ordered a draft, light beer which was quite refreshing. Notice the sawed off, recycled wine bottles which are used for water glasses .  The tables are also made of recycled materials and they have a vault located on the bottom floor.

 

Pacific Coast Fish Tacos

Pacific Coast Fish Tacos

Let’s Talk Food~

First off, the Urban Burger & Fried Asparagus looked amazing! The Urban Burger seems to be the fan favorite at just $8.95 made of brisket & ground sirloin and topped with Fork’s special burger sauce. Add-ons include spiced maple bacon, Tillamook Cheddar or onion ring.

Dark Roast Coffee

Dark Roast Coffee

Unfortunately, we did not order either of them, but turned heads each time the server walked past our table carrying these dishes. If you are in the mood for coffee, they have a great dark roast, served in a mug with a metal cream mini carton. Gotta love the presentation. At $3, you are allowed one refill, a pretty good deal. Other lunch items offered are the Grilled Wild Salmon Fillet, Roast BBQ Chicken (free-range), BAM Sammy (bacon, avocado, mozzarella, tomato, basil), Prime Rib French Dip, and the Snake River Farms Kurobuta Pork Cuban.

We ordered the Pacific Coast Fish Tacos (pictured above). They were made with catfish, which can taste like dirt if not prepared properly. The catfish was flavorful, using a blackened seasoning and not fishy tasting at all. Light and crisp, served on a white, corn tortilla with shredded cabbage and a lime wedge.

 

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato Basil Bisque

The Grown Up Grilled Cheese sandwich hit the spot for me. I really can’t say enough about it! The yummy, grilled sourdough bread, thick ham slices, balsamic-braised onions, with Ballard Farms Cheddar and tomato jam! It was the first time I had every had tomato jam, much less heard of tomato jam. It was really sweet and tangy. What more could you ask for? The ultimate comfort food. Here’s what you could ask for- tomato soup for dipping! Order the tomato soup if you order the Grown Up Grilled Cheese, just saying. You can’t have a grilled cheese, no matter how fancy it is, without a bowl of tomato soup. Just bring the kid in you back out while dining at Fork. Why not? The best part- it’s only $7.95! The chili lime potato chips are made in house.

For dinner the entrees include Apple-Barrel’ Chicken , Cast Iron Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Cheddar Waffle (another fan favorite), Wild Mushroom & Local Herb Pesto Ravioli, Idaho Rainbow Trout (Hagerman Farms trout), Alaskan Sockeye Pan-Seared Salmon, Napoleon Vegan Plate, Local Ale-Braised Short Ribs (Northwest beef), Braised Snake River Farms Kurobuta Pork Shank, Filet 7oz, Grilled Northwest Flat Iron Steak 8oz,Herbed Rack of Lamb, and Prime Rib 14oz.

For dessert~ You must try Fork’s Signature Warm Butter Cake, topped with vanilla ice cream and Oregon berry coulis for just $9.95. It is large enough to share with friends.

On Sundays enjoy brunch from 10:00am-2pm

Experience Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar on Saturdays & Sundays  from 10:00am-3:00pm.

Downtown Boise

Downtown Boise

Where to Park~

The first hour is free, $2.50 per hour following with a daily max of $12. Weekends are even more affordable! Daily rate max of $5 per day. The nearby garages include:

Eastman Garage – 9th & Main
Capitol Terrace Garage – Main & Capitol Blvd
Boulevard Garage – under the Grove Hotel
Myrtle Street Garage – the Hampton Inn Hotel
City Centre Garage – 9th & Front Streets
Grove Street Garage – beside Hotel 43

 5wheelsto5star is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine

 

Tege Tege Shave Ice

Tege Tege Shave Ice

Tege Tege Shave Ice

Strawberry

Strawberry

Eitaro, owner of Tege Tege Shave Ice, moved to Kauai from Amami, a southern island in Japan.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

When he moved to Kauai and realized mango, passion fruit and pineapple were available, he decided to make shave ice.  Look for the little, light blue food truck in Kilauea on the corner of Hookui Rd & Kolo Road. The counter shelf has a holes drilled in it to hold a flower pots. It’s so cute! The food truck itself was made from an old mail delivery truck.

Everyone loves shave ice on a hot, humid day after the beach but the sugary syrup leaves you with a massive sugar high. Not too mention, parents aren’t big fans of loading our kids up with sugary, unhealthy treats. Tege Tege Shave Ice is a Japanese-style shave ice which is 100% organic. The word Tege Tege translated to “just right” and that’s exactly what it is- just right. Not too sweet, not dull as all of the flavors used are made with 100% real fruit, herbs, flowers, Azuki beans and teas. Organic evaporated cane juice is used as a sweetener in some of the shave ice.

Tege Tege is open daily from 11:30 am-4:30 pm, although they only commit to 100 servings per day. Be aware that if they reach 100 shave ice prior to 4:30 p.m. than you are outta luck! My advise, go early. We visited about 3 p.m. and the owner just shouted out to the line from his little window, “4 more and we are closing”. The people in line turned away and left.

Be prepared to wait!!! Due to the process of making this deliciously, healthy shave ice, plan to wait about 5-10 minutes per shave ice. Eitaro uses a hand crank called an Hatsuyuki (first snow) to shave the ice. We waited close to an hour to receive our shave ice and you can’t gauge the wait time by the line, as customers were ordering 4-5 shave ice each!!! Patience, patience, patience. My expectations were extremely high after an hour-long wait. I was pleasantly surprised, not only the refreshing, intense burst of natural flavor, but the intricate process to make each shave ice.

Lemon Honey

Lemon Honey

The menu changes based on fruits in season.

Blueberry

Blueberry

Flavors include hibiscus, lemon-honey, lime, coconut, raspberry, strawberry, mango, mango-honey, passion fruit, passion fruit-honey, blackberry, blueberry, Jamaican lilikoi, pineapple, brown sugar, and Japanese green tea with azuki bean. Most of the shave ice are served with a fresh, mint leaf on top. I highly recommend the coconut as there are shaved pieces of coconut layered into the shave ice. I watched Eitaro as he made each shave ice. First he shaves a little ice, then adds flavor, then shaved coconut pieces, over and over again. He shaves about an inch of ice, then stops to add flavoring. This is why it takes so long to make each shave ice. It is definitely a process and there is only one person there. Be sure to drop a tip in the tip jar on the little counter. The price is just $6.00!!! Now- go get yours.

One Happy Boy!

One Happy Boy!

 5wheelsto5star is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine