Season's Greetings Freebirds!
We are sure many of you know about this great city situated in the Pacific Northwest. A gorgeous place that embraces greenery with a terrific café and restaurant culture, lovely public spaces and awesome views of Mount Hood. Portland is a world capital of design, home to hubs of design, great museums, music, and markets - you will be kept busy at a relaxed pace. With just over 600,000 inhabitants, the city has a comfortable feel to it. The Freebird Club are honoured to have four superb hosts here: June, Glenna, Debi and Matthew. Visit Portland this Christmas and New Year and see the light show at the zoo, ride either the polar express on the Mount Hood Railway or the Holiday Express, a beautiful vintage steam locomotive carrying Jolly Ole Saint Nick spreading Holiday Cheer! Oh, and did you know there is tax-free shopping?? Ho ho ho - gotta go, go, go!!
San Francisco, California
San Fran - the name alone evokes a spirit of adventure. This exciting but steady paced city dates back to the late 1700s. San Francisco is famous for technology, architecture, beautiful vistas of city hills, and of course the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Take a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf, and a boat to Alcatraz. But don’t worry, you won’t have to sleep there, because our hosts Jane, Dianne and Quinn Martin are waiting to welcome you. Visit SoMa, a hip neighborhood famous for art, and loft apartments; you’ll feel very cool here! A great museum is the SF MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), followed by a great sandwich for lunch (ask your host to tell you the best place). Christmas here is magical; the air is crisp and fresh, but mild enough to explore its gorgeous streetscapes comfortably. Jump aboard the Hornblower Cruiser and have a filling Christmas meal with new friends around you. In the evening, visit San Francisco’s famous ballet and see the Nutcracker. You can’t get much more festive than that!
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is always a fabulous place to visit, whatever the time of year. You almost feel like you’re in a movie! Gaili, Debra and Michelle are our hosts in the area. LA is a sprawling metropolis made up of 80 neighborhoods that together constitute a unique urban landscape. A centre for fashion, media, sport, technology, science, and research, Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States, so it clearly has that magnetic draw. With beautiful beaches and coastal drives, you would be wise to explore the wider area. Visit Culver City, a super artistic part of LA not to be missed. A trip to Carmel is also a must. Oh, and the Griffith Observatory too. Such fantastic views of the city. L.A has some wonderfully unusual Christmas traditions. There is a Surfing Santa contest at Dana Point in Orange County, guaranteed good fun whether you participate or spectate. On the other end of the spectrum is the fabulous Bob Baker Marionette Theatre which runs all season long.
Fitting for us Freebirds, those who flock to Scottsdale during the winter months are known as “snowbirds” - flying south for some warmth. Close to Phoenix, Scottsdale has been compared to South Beach in Miami, and you can understand why. It has a wonderful atmosphere and our host Diane will be only delighted to give you tips for the best places to spend your days. Scottsdale has a wide range of things to enjoy, from a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright Scottsdale Spire to Taliesin West, where the celebrated architect spent his winters. The home is now the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and a must if you’re a snowbird! For nature lovers, Camelback Mountain is a fantastic hike, a great way to spend the morning as the sun rises over Scottsdale and Phoenix and appreciate the desert colours; it’s truly gorgeous. Christmas in Scottsdale is a special one because of its lovely easy-going atmosphere. Feel like a local at the Fiesta Bowl Artwalk in late December and soak up the music and art the city has to share, then enjoy the après-ski atmosphere in the evening; all without even going near the slopes!
Austin is a very special city noted for many reasons. Not only is it known to be one of the safest cities in the United States, but also the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ as per the city slogan! California has Silicon Valley, and Austin has Silicon Hills, so it’s without a doubt an energetic buzzing city, with headquarters to lots of big tech companies. Austin is home to the highest number of bloggers in the whole country! With an abundance of art, music, and creativity, we promise you it’s hard not to be charmed by this wonderfully quirky place. Austin is home to South by Southwest, a mega festival/conference embracing everything from music to journalism, food, and film. Our hosts Linda or Leslie will, of course, be happy to give you a comfortable bed and show you around this marvelous city and maybe bring you to see the 'bridge bats' if you’re visiting in the season (March to November). A beautifully planned place, the city goes all out for the Holiday season, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you visit. Zilker Park has a mile-long Christmas light walk, so you can justify that hot cocoa! For shoppers there is the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar - music, dancing, and crafts; what a treat. If you can’t get to stay with a Freebird for a European Christmas Market, go to the German Market in Austin. The city is a real diamond, go and enjoy the sparkle!
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is nestled amongst the Wasatch Mountain range, just West of the Rocky Mountains, so you’re guaranteed beautiful views throughout the year. Either of our local Utah hosts Colleenanne or Jason can tell you the best spots. During the warmer months, you can experience breathtaking hiking trails, and if the snow is of interest, winter and spring offer superb skiing, which generally ends in mid to late April. There’s even a Snowbird Resort! Visit Temple Square where the infamous Salt Lake Temple stands today, taking 40 years to complete. The city was known as the ‘Crossroads of the West’, being a central hub for the steel industry. Modern industry has a strong presence nowadays and contributes very much to the welcoming community. If you love reading, the Salt Lake City Public Library is a goldmine. It’s a temple to literature! You can learn a lot about the city here, as well as the many museums which call the city home. Salt Lake City is a beautiful city, especially at Christmas, with snow-capped mountains and lots of festive events on over the holidays. We suggest the horse-drawn carriage ride around the city, and a visit to the Festival of Trees - a charitable event offering fun, food and an all-around cordial atmosphere. If you want to exercise your vocal chords, head to the Messiah Sing-In; a magical event!
Be free as a bird!
The Freebird Club Team
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