San Francisco mayor and US senator James Duval Phelan built the Villa Montalvo in 1912 as a bastion of art, hosting such writers as Jack London and Edwin Markham in conversation-filled luncheons and creativity-fueling vacations. After his death, Phelan bequeathed the house and grounds to the public, asking that they continue its role as an incubator of inspiration. Today, the center hosts artist residencies, gallery exhibitions, and educational opportunities for visitors. Surrounding the wealth of culture, the 175-acre grounds include miles of hiking trails through woodlands densely populated with muses, a meticulously manicured Italianate garden, and a picnic-ready Great Lawn.
Jill Dailey McIntosh has always been intrigued by the human body and how it moves—so much so that she graduated in 1991 with a kinesiology degree and soon thereafter decided to open her own Pilates teaching studio. But it wasn't until years later that this curiosity would manifest itself in a single question: "How can one aggressively transform the shape of their body while still maintaining proper alignment of the spine?" Eventually Jill began to examine her diverse fitness background, pulling low-impact movements from ballet, Pilates, and even orthopedic-exercise routines to create the basis for her fitness style, The Dailey Method.
Now, more than a decade later, Dailey's fitness routine has ballooned into studios sprawled across more than 10 states and gained praise from Self, Allure, FitPregnancy, and InStyle magazines. Regardless of the location, instructors remain true to Jill's mission of offering a diverse series of exercises that focus on toning and lengthening the body while lengthening the spine and building strong core muscles.
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean/Greek
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25?50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Lamb
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Tucked between the Saratoga Mountains to the west and San Jose to the north east, Santorini Wine & Beer Garden exposes diners from the surrounding city to the wines of the vineyards that dot the area's foothills. The wine list highlights the array of microclimates that lend the area's varietals their distinctive flavors along with the families who have tended the wineries for generations. Wine tastings unfold out in the restaurant's impossibly charming wine garden, where a duo of acoustic guitarists, a central fire pit, and booths covered with trellises lend to the quaint and cozy ambiance.
To soak up the libations, the bistro also serves a selection of Greek tapas, including feta marinated in olive oil and grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, tomatoes, onions, and red peppers?a gluten-free option. Larger entree helpings take the form of grass-fed lamb shank imported from Santorini and chicken souvlaki.
The wine enthusiasts at Signaturewines.com—a group of professionals from various industries—foster a community for other wine and food lovers to connect and share their oenophile experiences. They regularly notify their members of tours, tastings, and wine-related events at more than 20 Northern California wineries. They also orchestrate special deals that immerse visitors in settings such as the opulent gilded decor of Domenico Winery, the rustic wooden architecture of Guglielmo Winery, and the verdant vineyards and 200-horse stables of Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards.
Keeping abreast of local and national food events,SignatureWines.com also introduces members to regional wine bars, wineries, and restaurants, and provides an online community where members can read reviews and share wine experiences. VIP cards let customers take part in complimentary tastings and avoid standard hassles such as corkage fees and general-admission mosh pits. Proceeds for such events often go to charities involved in various initiatives.
The instructors at California Survival School impart decades of wilderness-survival know-how during outdoor, hands-on courses. Participants prepare themselves to live self sufficiently off the land using both modern and primitive techniques, which can come in handy when lost in the woods or the year 1412. During the Core Survival Skills Adventure Clinic, up to 30 students spend five hours learning to create fire using only sticks, build shelters with natural materials, purify water, and feed themselves off the land. The Ancient Artisans Workshop teaches novices how to fashion crude implements from scratch with materials found in nature, and how to use them while out in the wilderness. California Survival School also offers team-building workshops and private events.
Saratoga Wine & Beer Garden's menu offers 28 bottled beers, three rotating taps, 21 wines, and an array of mixed drinks and small plates. To go with this ample selection, the kitchen's staff plates colorful assemblies of charcuterie meats, cheeses, olives, and more, though the flavors to be had provide only half of the venue's sensory appeal. The rest comes from the garden. Covered archways over tables combine with intermingling tree branches above to create shady retreats. A fire pit spouts flames that ward off evening chills. Vases on each table display elegantly simple floral arrangements of two or three flowers. Even the pathway to the garden offers natural, shady splendor, curving around the building and wending between hedges, the overhead awning fending off ultraviolet rays and the eyes of the one crow who follows you everywhere, gazing at you knowingly, just waiting.