Seattle Christmas Guide

Free Events to Enjoy in Seattle This Holiday Season
Seattle is known for hosting dozens of free holiday events. If you’re in the city this winter, make sure to check all of these incredible community celebrations. From live music to interactive exhibits, downtown Seattle has something for every holiday aficionado. Take a look at what Seattle has in store for you this holiday season:

A gorgeous event that the entire family can enjoy, the Festival of Trees has become a time-honored tradition in downtown Seattle. The lobby of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel turns into a holiday-themed art exhibition space. The main attraction: a dozen flawlessly decorated Christmas trees. Every tree has its own theme and style. The event is hosted by members of the Dr. Forrest L. Flashman Guild, a local philanthropic organization dedicated to making medical care available to all children in the Seattle area. If you decide to buy a tree, all proceeds go to patients at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Of course, the event is free for anyone that wants to stop by the hotel to see the trees in person.

All of downtown is aglow around the holidays. Come to the Westlake Center Plaza for dozens of exciting attractions and celebratory events. The annul lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree takes place in late November, but you’ll still find plenty of fun things to do in the downtown area. Westlake Park is also nearby, featuring a holiday carousel that’s perfect for kids. The park also hosts the annual Holiday Market. It’s filled with local artisans and farmers, selling all kinds of homemade goods and gifts. You can come downtown to soak up the holiday cheer without spending a cent.

Where else are you going to find an indoor snow shower? Yes, the Pacific Palace Mall is famous for its annual indoor snow showers. Stop by to see thousands of snowflakes falling from the ceiling as you get some last minute shopping out of the way. Anxious shoppers, families, and tourists gather at the mall every year for some free holiday cheer. This indoor wonder is sure to put you in the mood for the holidays.

The Seattle Center is the place to be around the holidays. This public hangout turns into a full-blown holiday amusement park. You can go ice-skating at the Winterfest Ice Arena if you know your way around the rink. Kids will love the annual locomotive train set at the Armory. You can even drive a train yourself using one of the remote controls. It’s a massive exhibit that brings to life the joy of the holidays. You’ll also find dozens of ice sculptors, carolers, and the occasional imitation Santa Clause. Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, the Seattle Center has something for you.

This is another holiday event that’s designed to warm your heart. The lobby of The Westin Seattle turns into a family-friendly adventure. There’s live music that the kids can dance to and plenty of holiday-themed games and prizes. Santa is usually in the house in the morning and afternoon. You can snap a photo with the family or grab a bag of locally made snacks. The Seattle Children’s Museum is another reason to attend. Representatives of the museum read holiday stories to the kids and they put out a crafts table. You can design your own gingerbread house, make homemade Christmas cards, or create your own ornaments. The entire event is free to attend, but if you do spend some money, rest assured that all proceeds go to the Providence Senior and Community Services.

Big things are happening just outside of the Seattle Art Museum. Veteran performers gather in the sculpture park every year to put on a dazzling light show. The entire area burns bright with neon colors. The park also hosts live music, carolers singing all of your favorite holiday tunes, and dancing shadows that are sure to take your breath away. Kids can play with a series of glowing sculptures. They also have a craft tent at the Kid’s Play Station. The entire family can design their own gifts using exotic and unique materials. Everything is free courtesy of the Seattle Art Museum. You can register online to get your free tickets.

7 Free Things to Do in Austin This Fall

The end of summer 2017 is upon us. For most of the country, this signals the end of the summer fun. But not so much in Austin, where there are still tons of totally fun (and mostly free) places to explore and activities to enjoy all year long. Here are a few of our favorites:

Now that the autumn air has taken some of the sting out of the summer heat, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore nature. Austin has some incredible places to do just that! From Walnut Creek to River Place Nature Trail to McKinney Falls State Park, the greater Austin area is home to some seriously gorgeous trails. But if you’re looking for convenience, you might want to start with the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. Located just a few minutes from the heart of Austin and offering easy to vigorous hikes, Barton Creek Greenbelt is the perfect quick getaway for nature lovers of every experience level.

Austin is home to a truly first-rate craft beer scene, so brewery tours and tastings should be up there on your list of things to do when looking for inexpensive fun in ATX. Among the notables are Austin Beerworks, Hops & Grain, Jester King and Independence Brewing Co. But there are tons more! Check with brewery websites for tour times and pricing (Tours at Hops & Grain and Jester King are FREE!). If you have a few bucks to spend and don’t want to worry about driving—it is a brewery tour after all—then you can also book yourself a ticket on the Austin Brew Bus which offers a variety of all-inclusive multiple-brewery tour packages.

Every Wednesday night at 9:30, Austin’s New Movement Theater hosts a free comedy show by Good Fight—a hilarious improv group that has quickly become a huge name in Austin comedy circles. It’s a fast-paced and ridiculously fun show that’s always full of surprises. And it’s also BYOB, so you don’t have to worry about the usual comedy club two drink minimum. If you’re looking for an inexpensive laugh on a weeknight, this is definitely the place to be.

The city of Austin and the Art in Public Places program recently launched TEMPO, a public art program that allows artists to use public spaces throughout the city to explore a range of themes via (often largescale) temporary art instillations. Our favorite from last year: David Goujon’s “Las Piñatas,” which featured a small herd of enormous piñata donkeys gently grazing in Edward Rendon Sr. Park.

Every Friday, the local art collective SprATX hosts Free Art Friday, which invites local artists to create an original work of art and then hide it in an undisclosed location somewhere in the city. Locals can then search for the artwork by following clues on Instagram under the hashtag #atxfreeartfriday. It’s a great way to get out and explore the city—and maybe go home with your very own one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Every Sunday and Wednesday, the Kung Fu Saloon in downtown Austin offers free play on all of its retro arcade games. With all your favorites including Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, NBA Jam, Super Contra and so many more, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to, well, the late 80’s-early 90s. Video games not your thing? They also offer free play on foosball, skee-ball and a huge selection of classic board games!

No we’re not talking about visiting a certain sandwich chain that shall remain unnamed, we’re talking about the ripe, fragrant and juicy freshness of Austin’s award winning Cedar Park Farmers Market. Located in the parking lot at Lakeline Mall in North Austin, the Cedar Park Farmer’s market features a smorgasbord of over 70 vendors who specialize in fresh local produce, locally raised meats, locally crafted cheeses, fresh baked goods, and all sorts of tantalizing specialty foods. Open every Saturday from 9am – 1pm, the market also features hand-made jewelry, live local music, chef demonstrations and plenty of activities for the kids.

If none of the above activities suits your fancy, just remember: you’re in the live music capital of the world. From major festivals to local rock clubs and open mic nights, Austin offers an endless supply of year-round music for your listening pleasure.

Best Places to Eat in San Francisco This Summer

Cool Off This Summer at 5 of San Francisco’s Hottest Restaurants

San Francisco is the perfect place to unwind this summer. With its mild temperatures and vibrant local culture, the Bay Area will make you feel right at home. Spend your days hitting the beach, scoping out one of the city’s legendary museums or plan a trip to Golden Gate Park. No matter where you go, San Francisco will take your breath away. Stop off at one of these delicious Bay Area restaurants and experience the rich, eccentric flavors of one of the greatest cities in America.

Chinatown has never looked so good! Mister Jiu’s is determined to change the way San Francisco thinks about Chinese food. Owner and Executive Chef Brandon Jew has completely remade the city’s notorious Four Seas building into a bustling ultramodern restaurant. The menu features unique flavor combinations including some of China’s best-kept culinary secrets. Everything is local, organic and made fresh in house. Dinner is served banquet style with 3 courses per person. From pork and squid wontons to smoked hodo tofu, everything at Mister Jiu’s will stun and surprise you.

Part old-fashioned movie house and part upscale eatery, Foreign Cinema is reinventing the way we experience food. This gorgeous interior is designed to showcase some of the world’s best cinema with its drop down projector and intimate setting. Food wise, Foreign Cinema loves its seafood. They have an endless variety of oysters from all over the U.S., fresh shellfish, lobster and caviar. But the biggest attraction by far is their homemade organic “Pop-Tarts,” featuring a crispy crust with homemade frosting and delicious peach or blackberry filling. Foreign Cinema will turn your childhood favorite into a lifelong obsession.

Just a few blocks from the tip of Golden Gate Park, Zazie has become the number-one brunch spot in the city. If you’re willing to wait it out first thing in the morning, Zazie will not leave you disappointed. From their cream cheese coffee cake to the gingerbread pancakes, everything on the menu is truly to die for. They will top your eggs with just about anything you can think of including layers of fresh avocado, wilted spinach, wild mushrooms and thick cuts of farm fresh cheese. For your convenience, Zazie is also proud to be tip free. Leave your calculator at home.

Al’s Place was designed for those lazy summer afternoons. The open-air patio creates a peaceful, cozy atmosphere. Offering a range of light, vegetable-oriented snacks, Al’s has become the go-to place for healthy eaters in San Francisco. The menu features a refreshing mix of seasonal items including stone fruit curry, chilled green bean casserole, and brine pickled French fries with a side of smoked apple sauce. Somewhere between a community garden and a hip lunch spot, Al’s is not to be missed if you love the taste of freshly picked greens.

With a tagline that reads, “The World’s Best Tacos and Burritos in the Whole World,” this hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant has to be good. Everything on the menu is crafted with absolute authenticity. La Taqueria has even awarded the prestigious “Best Burrito” award. The dishes are the definition of affordable with dozens of individual tacos and cheese-loaded quesadillas. The Lemongrass Beef Pot Pie has been a crowd pleaser for years with its fresh blend of herbs and juicy cuts of meat. Bite into a 40-year-old legend and plan a trip to San Francisco’s signature taqueria.

San Francisco has no shortage of delicious bites and succulent drinks. If you’re lucky enough to spend your summer in the Bay Area this year, roll up your sleeves and dive into a world of flavor.

Must-Try Restaurants in Portland

As almost everyone in the nation knows, Portland, Oregon, is a mecca for the artisanal, creative, and avant-garde. If you’re visiting this lush, green, and very unique city, be sure to takes breaks in between thrift store hopping and strolling through the beautiful gardens to stop in at these local-approved eateries.

All of the fish they serve at Bamboo Sushi is sustainably sourced, so you won’t have to feel bad about potentially enjoying overfished species. Local tip: go an hour before it closes and sit at the sushi bar for omakase (chef’s choice). Amazingly, this eco-friendly and delicious sushi is in an accessible price range with omakase coming in at a slim $20, traditional rolls ranging from $4-14, and house specials from $8-15. It’s also been noted by many reviewers that Bamboo hosts an impressive happy hour menu, too!

This ice cream is worth. every. bite. Salt & Straw is so popular that they’ve got four locations in the city of Portland alone, and have now branched out to include two in Los Angeles! Every Portland local will have an opinion on which flavor is the best (just check the Yelp reviews or ask the natives), but honestly…all of their flavors are the best that you’ll find. Each one is very unique both in composition and flavor. This writer’s advice is…ask an employee to surprise you with something special.

If you speak to anyone from Portland, they will tell you with a complete air of resolution (and probably a roll of the eyes) that the famous Voodoo Doughnut is vastly overrated (sorry, Voodoo). Skip the line of tourists that gather outside of Voodoo and venture over to Blue Star Donuts. For $3 apiece, these doughnuts are a bit more expensive than your average 24-hour doughnut shop, but on-par with (if not less than) anything you’ll find at Voodoo. These little delicacies come in mature flavors like blueberry bourbon, passion fruit, and PB&J with blackberry jalapeño jam and come very highly recommended from locals and tourists with more sophisticated palettes.

Everyone MUST try this waffle cart! The waffles at Smaaken are packed with out-of-this-world flavor, and the lady who makes them can help you pick out the best waffle to suit your taste buds. This writer made the mistake of finding this cart on her last day and would have eaten here daily if she had found it sooner. If you can’t decide on one (because it’s an incredibly hard decision to make), ask for a split order of two or even three. You won’t regret one single bit. To quote one 5-star Yelp review (amongst many), “This truck should hand out tissues with its waffles, they will bring tears of joy.”

If you’ve got money to spend, this is the place to experiment. From house brewed ginger beer, classy whiskey cocktails to a dinner of duck breast topped with nectarine puree, Clyde Common is sure to leave your taste buds longing for more. House drinks come in between $8-12, and dinner plates between $24-45. For those on a smaller budget with a desire to try Clyde Common’s enticing selection, the restaurant hosts a happy hour daily from 3-6 p.m. with some reasonable prices.

Carte Blanche was a mainstay food cart in Portland, however, the food cart is now closed (cue crying). However, they have only closed in order to complete plans for a restaurant and truly deserve a spot on this list. To find out when the restaurant is open, you can sign up for their email list and trust me it’s worth the wait. To quote their website, “Ingredients are organic, seasonal, and local.” If you hate brussel sprouts, Carte Blanche will change your mind, guaranteed. Their food is veggie-packed and topped with wonderfully marinated meat options (although you can opt-out and go full-veggie), and inspiration for each dish comes from places around the world. One can only imagine what delicious surprises they’ll serve up at their new, permanent location!

For those of you who are exasperated with the amount of sweet options on this list, Harlow is your not-to-miss healthy option. This health-nut approved gem is Zagat rated and has a wider menu than most health-conscious joints. To make the deal even sweeter, their plates range in price from $2-10.50, and their incredible selection of beverages, both diet, kid friendly and alcoholic, come in at the same enticing range. With nearly 400 reviews and a median score of 4.5 stars, this restaurant will leave you full without the guilt.

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.


9 Free Things to Do Around Portland

Visiting Portland or Even Better, Living in Portland? Consider Yourself Lucky!

Portland is truly one of the best places to be in the country. In 2015, it was voted the most livable city in the U.S. by Monocle’s Quality-of-Life survey—the only U.S. city to make the list. Portland has a ton to offer, yet it remains one of the cheapest major cities on the West Coast. In fact, GoBankingRates.com rated Portland the best city in the country for saving money. PDX is also incredibly bike-friendly, has a great deal of natural beauty, and, perhaps most importantly, is a mecca for beer lovers, featuring around 85 breweries in the metro area. But wait, it gets even better. Many of the best things to do in Portland are free!

Leave the cash at home, and check out some of these places when you’re in town:

While Portland has many beautiful parks, Washington Park is generally thought of as the best. The park offers over 150 acres of gorgeous wooded hillsides, paved and unpaved paths, picnic tables, the popular Chiming Fountain, parks for kids, and more. There is also a zoo and Japanese garden but these attractions charge admission. Bring some food and have yourself a picnic, then explore some of the beautiful hiking trails.

Washington Park also features the International Rose Test Garden, rated as top attraction in Portland on TripAdvisor. The well-maintained garden contains many different kinds of roses, and of course the smells are divine. On clear days the garden offers fantastic views of the city and Mt. Hood. The best part? It’s free!

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is from Portland (yes, the city just got even cooler), and some of the show’s main characters—Flanders (Ned Flanders), Lovejoy (Reverend Lovejoy), and Quimby (Mayor Quimby)—among others, are named for streets in Portland. Find the streets between NW 2nd Street and NW 24the Street and between Burnside and Vaughn.

Portland Saturday Market is open on both Saturdays and Sundays from March through December. Here, you can find tons of vendors selling their original arts and crafts, which are unavailable anywhere else. There is also freshly cooked international food and free live music every market day. You can even enjoy the market on rainy days with the help of the Burnside Bridge and a glass-roofed structure!

Don’t leave Portland without checking out this iconic bookstore. Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the country; it is housed in a 5-story building that occupies an entire block. Need help navigating around the store? They offer free maps at the front desk, and rooms are color-coded. Powell’s sells both new and used books and even compete head-to-head with Amazon sales online. The coffee shop at Powell’s is also a great place to relax or catch up with a friend.

Forest Park is known for being the largest urban forest located within a city in the U.S. It contains over 5,000 acres filled with beautiful trees, rivers, waterfalls, and bridges. There are also 40 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. The park is located in the eastern part of the Northwest Hills, only 10 minutes from downtown Portland.

Go biking, blading, jogging, or just relax at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is also the site of many of Portland’s biggest festivals including the Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, and many of the events associated with the Rose Festival.

Portland Farmer’s Market is popular year-round! From March to October, it’s open on Saturdays from 8:30am to 2:00pm, and from November to February, it’s open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Visitors can browse over 140 stalls selling a range of produce and artisanal food. The market also offers chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, music performances, and more.

For a fun night involving art, music, and wine, check out First Thursdays in Portland. On the first Thursday of every month from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, several downtown art galleries open their doors and visitors can walk from gallery to gallery to view the art exhibits. The event also features live music, appetizers, and wine tastings. Common participants include the Lawrence Gallery, Gottlieb Gallery, and Attic Gallery. Every month the galleries and events change, so be sure to look up the information online first.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an art lover, a food lover, a book lover—or just a lover of not spending money—Portland has something for you. Now get out there and enjoy all that this beautiful city has to offer!

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.