Monday, October 20, 2014

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

On our quick overnight in Ithaca last year we stayed at Argos Inn, which remains one of my all-time favorite hotels.

The building itself has been a number of things over the years, including the mayor's mansion and an old Duncan Hines headquarters, before owner Avi Smith took it over and meticulously restored its wood, stone and glass details to create a LEED-certified inn. Avi was born and raised in the area, worked in tech on the West Coast, and then returned to Ithaca to develop a couple of local projects.

He hand-picked every piece you see at Argos Inn, from the doorknobs and sink fixtures to the decorative typewriters and color-coded antique books. Working with all local craftsmen and vendors, he breathed new life into flea market furniture, creating an aesthetic that somehow perfectly balances out old timey accents with modern hues and patterns. I love, love, love Argos Inn. Everything here - the vibe, the design - feels intentional, but not forced. A lot of thought and love went into the inn's development and it really shows!

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

There are 10 guest rooms, each unique in design but fitting into a handful of themes, as well as a bar and lounge that's open to the public. We visited a couple of weeks before Argos' big grand opening fete, so the bar was still in its final planning stages but it seems as though Avi and crew have beautifully carried out their plans for a local, craft cocktail-focused hangout.

We stayed in the King Slate Room, which I loved (of course) for its sunny closed-in porch with the writer's desk. I'm not one to typically gush about things like bathroom design, but my husband and I still talk about the shower in this room as the prototype to our dream, "someday" home. Every room at Argos has some kind of "wow factor," but two of my other favorites are the Glass Porch Room for its floor-to-ceiling windows and the White Peacock Room because THAT WALLPAPER! (Photo below is of the Grey Peacock Room.)

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Where to Stay in Ithaca: Argos Inn - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

You get free continental breakfast in the sun-drenched dining room with your stay and Argos Inn is also within walking distance of Ithaca's main drag, which is full of great bars and restaurants. (It's a college town, of course, with Ithaca College and Cornell University close by.) We took a short drive to Buttermilk Falls for a glorious fall foliage hike, but you can also visit the famous Cascadilla Gorge if you have a little more time.

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Argos Inn
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

I'm the kind of person who thinks it's completely rational to visit multiple U-pick pumpkin patches in a single day.

What, you didn't get enough golden gourds at farm #5? 

Nope.


A table can never have too many miniature squashes, in my opinion.

The drive from Owego to Ithaca has plenty of visitor-friendly farms and we checked out two that I thought were particularly worth a stop: Stoughton Farm for raspberries, peppers, fall mums and a corn maze if you're into that sort of thing. (Grab a bag of homemade kettle corn before you venture in!) Then, Iron Kettle Farm to check out the quirky pumpkin displays and Grandma's Barn gift shop. If you have kids, you'll also love the games and rides...scooters, tractors, a train, "pumpkin sling shot" and more.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

Photo Tour: Farm Fun in Tioga County, N.Y.

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Visit Tioga County

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y.

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

The first stop on our fall Finger Lakes tour brought us to Owego, a small town on the Susquehanna River that makes a great "gateway" to New York's Finger Lakes region when you're driving in from the city. Owego's downtown is small but charming and full of the kind of shops you'd hope to find in a place like this...

For example, Hand of Man. It looks fairly unassuming from the front window but inside is a cavernous collection of Halloween, Christmas and other holiday trinkets. I live for these kind of places, but I know at least a handful of my friends who would cringe at the thought of such a massive compilation of kitsch.

BUT! I have to say, the store is extremely well organized and easy to navigate...it makes roaming and getting lost in the season fun. Plus, they really do stock things you'll actually want to buy - from high end and fancy to understated, minimalist gems. Altogether, during the Christmas season, Hand of Man stocks 10,000+ ornaments and 100 decorated trees. They also have a cafe that overlooks the river, but we didn't get a chance to check it out. Looks great, though, and had a good crowd!

I really, really loved it! One of my favorite finds on this trip.

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Across the street is Riverow Bookshop, another store that turned "I'll just take a quick peek" into an hour-long visit. You can pick up a cup of tea or glass of wine and browse three stories of new and old books. I spent a lot of time in the local section and then left with a handful of antique postcards that I'll...do something with, someday, when I don't live in a shoebox.

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Before heading off to some of Owego's surrounding farms, we stopped in for brunch at The Cellar Restaurant, which has great views of the river and really delicious seafood crepes. It's owned by a husband and wife, and everything the restaurant serves is made from scratch, so it's especially a great pick if you have any dietary restrictions. I don't, so I went to town on the aforementioned crepes smothered in lobster sauce. Yum.

They're also known for their homemade danishes, salad dressings and other desserts, which you can pick up to-go. Oh, and, Nerd Alert! The bar pictured below was reclaimed from an old 1900s speakeasy. Really cool.

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Downtown Owego, N.Y. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Finger Lakes Travel NY

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Like many women, I am unabashed about my love for the fall season. Now that I live on the East Coast, my obsession over the months of October and November has only grown to fresh, more ridiculous levels. Later this month we're off to Virginia for some fall hiking and nerdy history tours (and to check out the weddings and honeymoon scene in Richmond and Charlottesville), but this time last year we were exploring the Finger Lakes region of New York.

We hopped in a rented Volkswagen Beetle, which the husband was more than slightly embarrassed by and I embraced with typical abandon, for a tour of Owego, Ithaca, Geneva and Aurora. Like most of my work-related trips, it was a fast and jam-packed itinerary but we managed to sneak in plenty of QT at the region's family-owned farms. There was pumpkin-picking, apple orchard-frolicking (me, mostly) and an all-around eye-opening lesson on just how many independent farms and producers there are in New York.

More details on fall activities in the Finger Lakes to come. In the meantime, PUMPKINS!

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Photo Tour: Fall in the Finger Lakes - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Finger Lakes Travel NY

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Photo Tour: Biking Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail


Now that I live in New York City and don't have easy access to the "great outdoors," I'm a total sucker for a good biking trail when traveling. In Greenville, we rented bikes (cute ones, at that!) from Reedy Rides and hit the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The 17.5-mile path runs along the Reedy River and it's an easy, enjoyable ride.

We shared the road with other tourists but mostly the path was full of locals on their morning exercise route. The husband and I rode to Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery for an organic fruit smoothie (him) and coffee (me) and then made our way back through downtown Greenville. The Swamp Rabbit Trail also connects to Falls Park on the Reedy.

Definitely one of my favorite memories from this trip!





PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic and Me!
MORE INFO: Yeah, That Greenville

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C.

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

I mentioned in an earlier post that Greenville's food scene is what first attracted me to the city. It's been covered by the likes of Esquire magazine and is a regular in regional pubs like Garden & Gun. But beyond these third-party reviews, I knew little about Greenville's local flavor. So, I decided to head down and get a taste for myself. And...it was delicious.

You'd expect a city like Greenville to have plenty of tasty takes on Southern cuisine (and you'll definitely find it here), but because the area is home to headquarters for global companies like BMW, there's also plenty of international influence. So far most of Greenville's tourism is a result of the meetings and conventions crowd, but that's quickly changing thanks to its great restaurants and lively Main Street.

I have to start by saying that my favorite meal, hands down, came from Soby's. Unfortunately, we had a major delay in our flight and ended up spending 12+ hours at LaGuardia here in New York City (YAY!), so we missed our reservations at the restaurant and I subsequently have no pictures to show. But I'd heard such great things about Chef Shaun Garcia's food that we decided to order takeout.

Even delivery at midnight, the food was amazing.

Chef Shaun was born and raised in the area and his Soby's menu mixes old Southern staples with contemporary and international techniques. I can't even begin to describe the joy that is Chef Shaun's homemade spicy pimento cheese. It comes with baguette chips and pickled okra, and eating it was a downright religious experience for me. Other highlights included watermelon salad with local feta cheese, crab cakes with sweet corn and a chocolate peanut butter layer cake (with caramel popcorn!). Unreal.

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Recent changes to alcohol legislation have made it easier for microbreweries and distilleries to operate in South Carolina, and Greenville has plenty to offer by way of booze. We made a stop at The Greenville Growler Station to taste local and regional beers. I could have stayed and talked with "Big Jon" all day long. He's just a really cool guy and a great host.

The station is set up like a coffee shop up front so you can kick back with your tastings and there's also a row of refrigerated craft brews as well as taps for filling up growlers. Big Jon also leads Greenville Brew Tours, which we didn't have time to try but I'd definitely spend a few hours with him!

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Our last full day in Greenville was rainy and chilly. So, lunch at Nose Dive was the perfect comfort-food meal. We did a round of grit "tots" topped with pulled pork and chili jam for an appetizer and then I moved on to the massive, delicious Mason-Dixon sandwich - New England lobster salad with fried scallops in a dill vinaigrette. (Pictured at the top.)

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Afterward, I walked off the sandwich and its accompanying sweet potato fries all the way down the street to Dark Corner Distillery, where I proceeded to taste and buy homemade moonshine and whiskey. It's owned by a husband-wife team and is a great place to pick up some souvenirs that you'll actually want to take home. (If you're able to hold on to the bottles that long.)

We topped the week off at American Grocery, which is more of a fine dining experience. Like all of the restaurants we visited in Greenville, American Grocery uses local fruits, veggies and cheeses as well as goods from artisan producers around the country. The menu changes frequently, but my favorites were steamed mussels in a smoked paprika cream and a Caesar salad with Parmesan croutons that tasted like a giant, freshly baked Cheez-It...but even better.

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Eating & Drinking in Greenville, S.C. - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Of course one of my personal highlights of the entire trip was taking a cooking class with Mark Pollard at Charleston Cooks. And other spots I'd definitely recommend are Roost for breakfast and Blues Boulevard Jazz for live music and drinks.

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Yeah, That Greenville