The 6 Best Hiking Spots in San Francisco

San Francisco has become famous for its progressive, technology-obsessed urban landscape; it’s a city’s city, lush with silicon, steel, and high property value. San Francisco’s tech is so sought after that some may forget, at times, that ancient forests, unique ecosystems, and historic landmarks surround the city. These are six of the best hikes to showcase all that the Bay Area has to offer:

For those who have always lamented that science has not yet created a time-traveling machine, the Muir Woods is the National Parks Service’s remedy. The redwoods that tower reverently over the quiet wood create a canopy that will make any hiker feel as though they are in a secluded, mystical realm. The Woods are one of the only old-growth forests left in the Bay Area, which makes them the best natural time capsule for the region. Most of the redwoods in the Muir Woods are between 500-800 years old, forcing visitors to ponder progress, conservation, and the role humans play in the environment. The Muir Woods host several trails, each varying in difficulty and length, so there will always be an adventure waiting there for anyone looking to step back in time.

For those looking for more time-traveling adventures, the Sweeney Ridge Trail is next in line. The trail is located in Pacifica, which is approximately 25 minutes south of San Francisco proper, and features a 1,200 foot-high summit. Along the way hikers will find abandoned greenhouses from the 1950s that were used to grow world-renown orchid hybrids, as well as the nursery that currently occupies the grounds. The most historical point of the Ridge, waits at the conjunction of several trail options. Where the vantage point is clearest and farthest, hikers will find the exact spot where, in 1769, the explorer Gaspar de Portola stood at the moment he discovered, for European explorers, the San Francisco Bay.

The Presidio is expansive, with more than 24 miles of hiking trails and spectacular views, and can cater to the interests of several types of guests. For cyclists, there are 14 miles of paved pathway; for history buffs, there are historic U.S. military buildings; for hikers, The Presidio occupies a section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The Bay Area Ridge Trail section of The Presidio is a breathtaking 2.7 mile hike that showcases the best views in the Bay Area. On a clear day, one can see Land’s End, the Point Bonita lighthouse, and the Farallon Islands. The Presidio is one of the only hikes in the area that provides hikers with a nearly uninterrupted view of the ocean the entire way through. The hike holds additional appeal thanks to the close proximity and looming beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, which will also remain visible throughout.

Bernal Hill, located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, is the perfect, quick escape for those who don’t have the time to drive out of the city but who still want to take a breath of fresh air. The hike to the summit is short but steep, and the panoramic views of San Francisco make the short struggle worthwhile. In the summertime, Bernal Hill is covered mostly by dried grass but, after the spring and winter rains, the Hill is suddenly and brightly adorned with a magnificent array of wildflowers. Those who live in the city love hiking Bernal Hill not only because of its natural beauty and ease of access, but also because it is just a short walk back to the amenities of the city, allowing hikers to attend lunch at a local diner shortly after they descend.

Marin County is home to many beautiful falls, but the Cataract Falls seem to attract the most attention. The falls can be reached either by a loop-hike along Cataract Trail, which follows Cataract Creek and is approximately 6-miles round trip. However, most prefer the shorter 2.6-mile out and back hike that starts at the Fairfax-Bolinas Road pullout and at West Ridgecrest Road. When the region sees sufficient rainfall, the hike along Cataract Creek is lush and green, surrounding hikers with the likes of ferns, redwood, Douglas firs, nutmeg and hazelnut, and huckleberry. The hike is generally very tranquil and shaded, although the volume of the creek does depend on rainfall, and can often feel mystical, thanks to the large colonies of moss that adorn the rocks and trees along the creek.

Built in 1855, the Point Bonita Lighthouse was just the third lighthouse built on the West Coast. The lighthouse is still active today and is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The hike to the lighthouse is only half a mile, but don’t be fooled, as the trail becomes very steep at times. Parking at the trailhead is very limited, but visitors can take a shuttle to the trailhead during operating hours. The hike involves passing through a tunnel built by Chinese laborers in 1876, as well as passing over the water via suspension bridge. Nearby the trailhead is the historic Battery Wallace, an abandoned U.S. Military post, which also boasts gorgeous views and picnic tables.

You can turn your time in San Francisco into an unforgettable adventure. Shop our selection of upscale corporate rentals in San Francisco, CA and spend a few months getting to know this world-class city. It has something for everyone.

The 8 Best Places to Visit in Austin, TX

If You’re Traveling to or Moving to Austin, Consider Yourself Lucky.

This Texas City has become quite popular, and for good reason—it has a lot to offer! In January 2014, Forbes named Austin the fastest-growing city in the country for the second year in a row. As Texas’ state capital, Austin boasts some great historical attractions. While the city offers fantastic parks and outdoor recreation, foodies and music fans will also be very happy here with the culture and cuisine. Plus, there are plenty of arts, music, and cultural events. Austin is a large city yet it somehow retains its small-town feel, offering the best of both worlds.

Head over to the Texas State Capitol to learn more about Texas history and the legislature. This is the oldest state office structure in the country, opening in 1888. The architecture of the building itself is beautiful; it’s made of pink granite and is actually 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. A great deal of the building including the large rotunda, the Hall of Representatives, and the governor’s receiving room still look the same as they did when the building opened. The capitol building is open and free to visitors. Free tours are also available daily.

Formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed, Hamilton Pool is a beautiful natural grotto carved out of limestone. It is now a natural swimming pool surrounded by a 50-foot ring of waterfalls. Hamilton Pool offers best of both worlds with a small beach you can hang out on, and the pool to swim in!
Admission costs $15 per vehicle and on hot summer days, the park is usually full by 10am, so try to arrive early. You may want to call before you go there because the reserve often closes due to high bacteria levels, which can often occur after a rainstorm.

Austin is home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. In fact, it is the largest urban bat community in North America. The bats are in town from spring to early fall, and every evening they emerge from their hideout underneath the Congress Bridge to scavenge for dinner. And these critters have big appetites—they eat 10,000 to 20,000 pounds (yes, pounds) of insects per night! To see the bats, you can stand on the bridge, rent a private boat, take a bat-watching tour on a cruise or sit on the hills around the bridge and take in the scene.

Experience the artsy side of Austin at the Baylor Street Art Wall. The site started out as the beginnings of a condo project, but later on failed to become complete. Now the foundation has become a studio of sorts for local graffiti artists. It is constantly changing, so it may be worth a second visit if you have already been there. You can also get a great view of the city from the top of the wall.

Lady Bird Lake is a great place to appreciate the natural beauty and essence of Austin. There are trails to go hiking, biking and running around the river. The reservoir is fit for everyone from adults to children and even pets! Visitors can also enjoy water sports and go kayaking, paddle boarding or canoeing in the lake or Colorado River. If you stay until the evening, you can enjoy fireworks over the lake or from a small boat!

Zilker Park is a 358-acre park is located in the heart of Austin. It is dog friendly and hosts events such as South By Southwest and the Austin City Limits, two celebrated music festivals, as well as the Zilker Kite Festival and more. Visitors can also go jogging, hiking, biking, kayaking, and paddle boarding here.

Located at Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a great place to cool off when the Austin temperatures heat up. Stretching across three acres, this spring-fed natural pool is a good option for families as there is something for everyone to do! Be warned though, the water is a chilly 68 degrees! Still not sold on Barton Springs Pool? Robert Redford learned to swim here when he was five years old!

Just across the bridge from downtown is this part of South Congress. Here you will find dozens of restaurants, clubs, boutiques, vintage shops and artisan booths. There are also a lot of food trailers—a very popular concept in Austin. Craving barbecue? Sushi? What about pizza or Tex-Mex? You can find trailers serving up all of these foods and more. Do some shopping during the day and stay for dinner, then catch a live show or hit one of the clubs.

You can turn your time in Austin into an unforgettable adventure. Shop our selection of upscale corporate rentals in Austin, TX and spend a few months getting to know this world-class city. It has something for everyone.

How to Turn Your Temporary Housing Into a Home

If you’re relocating to a new city for work, you might find yourself living in temporary housing. These apartments and temporary living spaces usually come fully furnished and ready-to-go. Initially, you might find yourself missing the comforts of your regular home; but, before you give up on maintaining your sense of comfort, there are plenty of ways to make yourself feel at home in your temporary living space. With these tips, you can turn your temporary housing into a place you can happily call home.

You probably don’t have room for a lot of extras if you’re flying to your new temporary home. Instead, you can focus on the essentials. Make room in your suitcase for a few personal items to decorate your new home with—whether it’s a few family photos, a small piece of art, or a favorite pillow. A couple of essentials will go a long way toward making you feel right at home.

Plants can dramatically improve the look and feel of your new living space. Head over to your local plant nursery or farmer’s market to grab a few ferns or potted plants. Cactuses and succulents are a great choice if you’re looking for something a little more independent. A little bit of greenery will keep your spirits high and make the space feel more alive.

You don’t have to cram everything you own into a suitcase when you’re relocating to a new city. Right before you hit the road, stop by your local post office and mail yourself a care package. You can fit personal keepsakes such as picture frames, knick-knacks, and other tokens from your regular home into a shipping box. After a few days in a new city, you’ll have a special package delivered right to your door.

There’s nothing like making a delicious meal at home! While it’s fun to explore a new area and try unique restaurants, don’t forget that you can still cook at home. Even if you’re living in a smaller apartment, you can still make relatively simple meals on your own. The smell of your grandmother’s favorite recipe or a homemade treat will instantly remind you of home. Making use of your temporary kitchen will also help you feel more connected to your new space.

You can turn your time in temporary housing an unforgettable adventure. Shop our selection of upscale corporate rentals and spend a few months getting to know a world-class city. There’s something for everyone.

8 Things You Should Know About Portland

Thinking about moving to Portland, but not sure what to expect? Well, there’s a lot more to Rose City than rain and hipsters—but there are plenty of those things too! Here are a few fun facts that will help you get a feel for what makes Portland such a cool/fun/quirky place to call home:

Oregon is known for having a relatively high income tax rate, but they try to balance that with a sales tax rate of 0%. That’s right, when it comes to shopping in Portland, what you see on the price tag is exactly what you pay.

If you want to blend in with the locals, keep your hands off that gas pump. Oregon is one of the only two remaining states that still prohibits people from pumping their own gas (the other is New Jersey, FYI). While this might take some getting used to at first, after a while you start to wonder how everyone in those other, underprivileged 48 states can possibly live without this luxury (unless you’re in a huge hurry and the gas station is crowded and you’re last in line for service). Also, word to the wise, while some Oregonians opt to tip the gas station attendant, it is not required, or even expected—although we’re sure it’s very much appreciated.

The TV show Portlandia got the whole nation laughing about Portland’s obsession with “bicycle rights!” But in the real Portland, cycling is no joke. With one of the highest percentages of commuter cyclists in the country, and 17 miles of dedicated bikeways, cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes, it’s no wonder that Portland consistently ranks among the top 5 most bike-friendly cities in the country. So when you move to Portland, try to be extra cautious of your two-wheeled road-mates while driving—or better yet, join them!

Before Portland was Portland, it was known as Stumptown, or The Clearing, due to the many trees that had to be cut down to make way for the burgeoning town. But when Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove bought the settlement in the 1840s, both wanted to name the site after their respective hometowns (Lovejoy was from Boston, and Pettygrove from Portland, Maine). The dispute was settled the same way all great disagreements are decided: with a coin flip. The deciding coin, now known as the “Portland Penny,” is still on display at the Oregon Historical Society.

OK, before you get all incredulous, let’s be clear: I am not saying it doesn’t rain a lot in Portland. It certainly does. But I’ve found that a lot of visitors and newcomers tend to think of Portland’s climate as a nonstop monsoon on steroids. In reality, Portland doesn’t even crack the top 15 when it comes to annual rainfall. Portland gets an estimated 37-43 inches per year on average compared to 49 inches in New York City and 62 inches in New Orleans. That being said, if you move here, especially in fall or winter, you should still prepare to get wet.

Regardless of how you feel about all the “hipster” clichés that crop up every time you mention Portland—thanks again Portlandia—there’s at least one that nobody can complain about: The Beer scene. Sure, you can roll your eyes at the guy with the twisty mustache, suspenders and sleeve garters telling you about the ‘subtle notes of hibiscus’ that give your beer it’s ‘vivacious floral finish.’ But once you actually taste the delicious offerings from Portland’s multitude of local craft breweries, you’ll be hooked. Before you know it, you might even find yourself growing some vintage facial hair of your own.

Seattle might get all the glory when it comes to those “Top Ten Coffee Cities” lists, but they can keep their Starbucks as far as we’re concerned. Boasting the now nationally famous Stumptown Roasters—whose cafes you can find all over Portland, Seattle, LA, New York and New Orleans — as well over 40 other local coffee roasters and three national coffee magazines (Fresh Cup, Barista, and Roast), there is a real argument for Portland as the true coffee capital of the United States.

No, not that kind of football—Portland doesn’t have an NFL team after all—we mean the kind of football that you play with your feet. That’s right, Portland is one of the few American cities where soccer is king. In fact, the local MLS (Major League Soccer) club, the Portland Timbers, inspire such local passion that their fans, known as the “Timbers Army,” have become famous around the league for their enthusiastic displays of support for their team. So if you want to really blend in with the locals, grab yourself a Timbers scarf and go jump/chant/sing your heart out with your fellow Portlanders at Providence Park. Word to the wise: the local rivalry games against Seattle are a not-to-be-missed spectacle unlike any other in American sports.

You can turn your time in Portland into an unforgettable adventure. Shop our selection of upscale corporate rentals in Portland, OR and spend a few months getting to know this world-class city. It has something for everyone.

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the middle of a move…

Keeping Your Valentine’s Day Intact While Moving

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and, unfortunately, you’re in the middle of a move. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, we all know how stressful and time-consuming moving can be. When you’re in a rush, holidays like Valentine’s Day can feel like more of a nuisance than a reason to celebrate. But you don’t have to scrap your romantic plans all together just because you have some added responsibilities on your plate. Use these tips to have a lovely Valentine’s Day together as a couple, even if you’re driving across the country or held up in an empty house.

If you’re accustomed to holding your partner to high expectations when special holidays come around, be prepared to be disappointed. Get a head start by scaling back your expectations. Moving is often one of the most stressful chores in life. If your relationship can survive a move, you’re already in good shape. Try to relax and be spontaneous this Valentine’s Day. If you end up eating ramen on the floor, remember that life could be worse.

Regardless of where you end up on Valentine’s Day, it’s probably smart to let someone else do the cooking. Chances are that all of your cooking gear is already packed up. If you’ve just arrived at your new house, explore the neighborhood by finding a local restaurant. Getting take-out is also an easy way to celebrate if you’re trapped in an empty house. If you’re on the road, schedule some time to stop at a nice restaurant that’s close to the highway. Remember to call ahead to make sure that you can get a table on one of the busiest nights of the year.

If all of your stuff is packed up, try to find something that you can use to stay comfortable in your new house. Leave a few pillows, an air mattress, or a sleeping bag lying around to forge a place to sleep. You can use a folding table or a few boxes to string together a makeshift table and chairs. Living on the floor can actually be pretty cozy.

Moving can turn your life into a nonstop frenzy. You might think that you have to drive 18 hours straight or unpack everything right away, but sometimes we force ourselves to trudge forward when it’s not entirely necessary. Try to relax on Valentine’s Day, even if it’s just for a few hours. If you’re driving long distances, cut yourself a break and pull over for the night at a hotel. If you’re rushing to unpack, find some time to procrastinate. You’ll be glad you did. All of those boxes will still be there in the morning.

Celebrating the holidays during a move is all about perspective. If you’re expecting the worst, you probably won’t enjoy yourself this year. Try to focus on the positive. Enjoying Valentine’s Day is about being together. Love is really the only thing that matters.

Iconic Seattle…

Space Needle – Located 520 feet above the grounds of the Seattle Center, the observation deck of this iconic landmark affords spectacular 360 degree views. From the top of the needle, you can view the Seattle skyline, as well as the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainer, Mount Baker and Elliott Bay. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it is one of the tallest structures west of the Mississippi. Be sure to dine at the revolving SkyCity restaurant and enjoy breathtaking views while enjoying Pacific Northwest cuisine.9skxoLFDf3YoCP9FSZx5uZv1

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Top 5 Things To Do In Silicon Valley/San Francisco

5 Ways to Enjoy the Tech Capital of the Country

From tech conglomerates to mountainous views, Silicon Valley has earned its reputation as a hub of new age thinkers and powerful innovations. Companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google all have a home in this historical landmark. If you ever have the pleasure of being in the Silicon Valley area just south of San Francisco, be sure to check out these high-profile attractions and see where the dot-com revolution got its start.

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Saint Patrick’s Day lore…


Good luck is said to be bestowed on those who possess a four-leaf clover.


Officially commemorates Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.




Go with friends and enjoy the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and celebration.


Remember to wear your green or you might feel a pinch.


Embark on a journey to the seven places in the U.S. named after the shamrock.


Enjoy a dish of traditional Irish American corned beef and cabbage.


Never fall for the trickery of a leprechaun.