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6 Things to Do On and Around Sanibel Island, Florida

By Jamie Beckman
January 27, 2022
Red shack next to small lush island
Jamie Beckman
Sunset-gazing and beach walks are only the beginning of the story on the 150-plus islands that make up southwest Florida’s coast.

Famous for vast wildlife preserves, leafy mangroves, world-class tarpon fishing, stellar seashells, and a laid-back way of life, Sanibel Island and its surrounding cays attract an array of vacationers, from regular beach-loving folks to high-profile visitors such as former FBI director Robert Mueller and the rapper Pitbull. The non-human residents are pretty spectacular, too: schools of dolphins leap above the shimmering waters, and friendly manatees have been known to brush up against moving kayaks out of playful curiosity.

1-OPTIONAL-MANATEE-SIGN-PHOTO-HERE-Caption-Manatee-sightings-are-common-at-South-Seas-Island-Resorts-marina.jpg?mtime=20180609213115#asset:102094(Jamie Beckman)

Sanibel is also a plum post-retirement destination for what locals call “PIPs” — previously important people (think: ex-CEOs) looking to pump the brakes after pressure-cooker careers. The area’s conservation-first mindset has a pleasant side effect for those who yearn to detox from technology and the daily grind: There are no stoplights on Sanibel Island, cell phone service isn’t exactly a guarantee, and no structure can be built higher than a palm tree.

Sound enticing? This exclusive island paradise is accessible at any budget, especially if you’re a road tripper willing to toss bicycles into a hatchback and strap kayaks to the roof. Here's our guide to the best the area has to offer.

1. Check In

Sundial-Beach-Resort-Spa.jpg?mtime=20180609214004#asset:102095South Seas Island Resort pool complex on Captiva Island. (Courtesy South Seas Island Resort)

Make your home base a standard villa with a full kitchen at a beach resort that has a slew of amenities, including golf courses, spas, restaurants, and marinas. Preparing your own meals and taking advantage of the free and cheap perks (more on that in a minute) are keys to planning a wallet-friendly trip. Pro grocery tips: To save big, hit the Publix Super Market at Sanibel Beach Place in Fort Myers before crossing the Sanibel Causeway Bridge onto Sanibel Island ($6 toll, free return trip). Or buy local at Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel Island, where you can shop in person or pick up an advance online order. Either way, you’ll save cash and not miss out on the area’s seafood, like seasonal stone crabs and mussels from Bailey’s and local pink shrimp, flounder, and grouper sold at Publix.

For an upscale, family-friendly, large-resort feel, splurge on a stay at the sprawling South Seas Island Resort (from $200 per night) on Captiva Island. Its two and a half miles of private beaches, along with beach chair and umbrella rentals, three pools with two waterslides, 11 tennis courts, and island trolley, are free to use. Rooms have full kitchens, and gas grills and picnic tables are available by the pools and marina for your own personal barbecues. To quickly stock up on food and drinks midway through your stay, there’s a grocery store/deli on the property.

On Sanibel Island proper, Sundial Beach Resort & Spa (from $219 per night) has beach-chic down pat, with bright-white furnishings, full kitchens, and island-themed decor. There are five heated swimming pools and lots of complimentary offerings, like kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes, as well as equipment for pickleball and volleyball. And there's no shortage of activities for kids. Locals have repeatedly voted Sundial “Best Staycation,” so you know it’s clutch.

Back on Captiva, Tween Waters Inn (from $108 per night) offers guestrooms with mini fridges, modern studios with mini kitchens, and suites with full kitchens. If you're feeling flush, book an entire historic pastel-painted seaside cottage. Once you’re settled in, choose your poolside vibe: the Play Pool, the Serenity Pool, or two hot whirlpools. A quick trip across the street takes you to the inn’s private beach, replete with a volleyball court and complimentary kayaks. Beach chairs and umbrellas are an extra charge.

2. Explore an Animal Kingdom

Bring your binoculars to J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, or ask for a free pair—you won’t want to miss the spectacle of ospreys, yellow-crowned night herons, and roseate spoonbills here in their natural state, especially at low tide, when the birds are most visible as they hunt for food. For bragging rights, try to spot the elusive mangrove cuckoo. It’s seen so rarely that if you do catch a glimpse, even the locals will be jealous. Hike or bike the refuge’s Indigo Trail boardwalks ($1 per person), or grab the gang and motor down the four-mile Wildlife Drive ($5 per vehicle, $1 per pedestrian or cyclist). The 100-acre Bailey Tract of interior wetland is free to enter and explore. Kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, and boating are allowed in some areas, as long as you follow the refuge’s rules.

dreamstime_xxl_93678008.jpg?mtime=20180609213029#asset:102093Searching for seashells on Sanibel Island. (Ian Fletcher/Dreamstime)

3. Eat Cheeseburgers in Paradise, in Paradise

Locals report that Jimmy Buffett wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise” after eating a particularly tasty one at Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant on Cabbage Key, in Pine Island Sound. Now’s your chance to do as Buffett did. Hop a water taxi with Island Girl Charters (from $29) to get there, then order a Cabbage Key Hamburger with cheese ($13.25) and a “cold draught beer,” even though the brews technically come in cans (from $4.69).

4. Go On A Shoreline Treasure Hunt

Shells in dazzling colors wash ashore every day thanks to the islands’ unique geographic position, making the area a collector’s paradise. Prepare for the best seashell-collecting experience of your life by investing in Sanibel & Captiva Shells and Beach Life ($8), an in-depth, waterproof, illustrated guide to the area’s shells and where to find them. Then start combing: Turner Beach, on Captiva Island, and Blind Pass Beach, on Sanibel Island, are two of the best public spots for shelling. Experts recommend venturing out the hour before and the hour after low tide, when the odds of nabbing good and rare shells are highest. Or opt for an after-dark excursion, a secret the pros swear by.

5. Learn from Locals (Even the Feathered Ones)

4-GIRL-HOLDING-LOLA-Caption-CROW-wildlife-rehabilitator-Katie-Mueller-holds-Lola-the-American-Kestrel-one-of-the-clinics-ambassador-animals.-Lola-has-an-irreparable-broken-wing-so-she-lives-at-the-clinic-rather-than-in-the-wild.-jpg.jpg?mtime=20180609213023#asset:102091CROW wildlife rehabilitator Katie Mueller holds Lola the American Kestrel, one of the clinic's ambassador animals. Lola has an irreparable broken wing, so she lives at the clinic rather than in the wild. (Jamie Beckman)

At Sanibel Island’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife ($7 for kids, $12 for adults), animal lovers can watch veterinarians and medical interns save creatures in dire straits, like owls who’ve been hit by cars, turtles with broken shells, or seabirds who’ve been accidentally hooked by a fishing line. Meanwhile, kids can hang out with the education center’s “animal ambassadors,” like Billy, a curious nine-banded armadillo who sometimes emerges to scamper freely indoors under the watchful eyes of his caretakers. You’ll need to register in advance to tour the hospital, so make sure you plan ahead.

Need a break from the kids? Drop them off for a few hours at Sanibel Sea School (from $55 per child), where they’ll learn to surf in shallow waves and get a thorough ocean education while they're at it. Family programs, including stand-up paddle boarding excursions and shell walks, are also available.

Wander through the ceiling-scraping stacks at Gene’s Books for best-sellers and obscure genre finds. The quaint, mystery-heavy indie store has beach reads galore at deep overstock discounts, many of the titles organized into ultra-specific categories like Scandinavian Mystery, Italian Mystery, and much more.

6. Soak Up the Setting Sun

One activity that’s not optional here: admiring the technicolor sunsets. If you’re staying at South Seas Island Resort, take in the free, family-friendly daily “sunset ritual” on Sunset Beach, featuring acoustic guitar music by Livingston Taylor, brother of James, who’s toured with Jimmy Buffett and the Beach Boys.

Or post up alfresco at Mucky Duck, a local favorite on Captiva Island, with a slice of icy homemade key lime pie ($7) and a CoronaRita (a margarita with a mini Corona bottle flipped upside down into it), and watch the big orange ball fade away.

No matter where you’re doing the viewing, look for the “green flash” at sundown – it’s an optical effect that happens right when the sun sinks below the horizon.

The Details

Sanibel Island isn't necessarily known for its bargains – resort fees can be particularly high – so it's worth taking the time to hunt for good deals on accommodations. Keep an eye out for promotions, and consider booking and paying in advance for the best rates. Summer is the least expensive time to visit the area’s islands; just be aware that temps can creep high in those months.

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Inspiration

Hotel We Love: Thunderbird Lodge, Redding, CA

Just a few hours north of Sacramento and a couple hours south of Oregon, tucked away among protected parkland, volcanoes, redwoods, and more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at, northeastern California’s Shasta Cascade region is a veritable haven for outdoor enthusiasts. But you don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the REI Co-Op to appreciate the area’s natural beauty—there’s a ton here for all skill levels to explore. With clean, freshly appointed rooms, reasonable rates, and a convenient central location, the Thunderbird Lodge in Redding, California, makes a great base of operations, especially if you’re planning to spend most of your time on the go.   THE STORY This classic roadside motel was originally part of the mid-century Thunderbird chain; today, there are only a few left in existence, and they’re all independently owned and operated. An immigrant couple from Zambia bought Redding’s Thunderbird Lodge nearly 20 years ago, and their sons and daughters-in-law took over operations in 2010. (Thankfully, the vintage sign remains the same.) THE QUARTERS The property was completely remodeled in 2015, and its 58 guest rooms now feature contemporary dark-wood furniture, white linens with pops of color via accent pillows, throws, and bed skirts, and flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, and microwaves, all in various configurations. Book a king, queen, or double-queen room for a short stay; if you’re planning on sticking around a bit longer, consider a kitchenette room, which comes equipped with proper cooking facilities. The ground-floor accommodations are perfectly fine, but if you can handle the stairs, book a room one flight up, where the vaulted ceilings and exposed beams offer an airier, much more spacious feel. THE NEIGHBORHOOD Located right in the middle of downtown Redding, the Thunderbird is walking distance to landmarks like the Cascade Theatre, a circa 1935 nonprofit venue that hosts concerts, dance performances, and free summer kids’ movies; there’s also an array of independently owned restaurants, breweries, and shops within a few-block radius. The motel isn’t far from the freeway either, so it’s easy to get out of town to explore the region’s outdoor attractions—it’s a quick drive from downtown to Lake Shasta Caverns, Whiskeytown Lake, the immense, 602-foot-high Shasta Dam, and waterfalls upon waterfalls upon waterfalls. THE FOOD There are a few vending machines on the property, and the motel offers a basic continental breakfast, but other than that, you’ll have to look elsewhere for sustenance. Luckily, there are some solid options nearby. For a no-frills, pre-hike diner meal, Corbett’s should do the trick—it’s right across the street and opens at 7:00 a.m., so you can fuel up and be on the trail nice and early. The motorcycle-themed Coffee Bar is a little further, but it’s worth the walk for the consciously sourced caffeine and tidy selection of pastries and small bites. (You’re in California, after all, so be sure to try the avocado toast.) Open only for lunch, Wilda’s Grill is infamous for its Buddha bowl, a heaping helping of beans, rice, and protein under a shower of avocado, cilantro, and shredded cabbage, a steal at $7.50. With a cheap lunch, you can treat yourself to a fancier dinner, and Moonstone Bistro serves pretty plates of seasonal, organic fare at the price point to match. Grab a table in the intimate, dimly lit dining room or take seat on the patio (the strip-mall view is terrible, but on a nice evening, the fresh air is worth the sacrifice), have a cocktail and a few appetizers, and don't pass on the bread plate. To keep things casual, beer-drinkers would do well to commandeer a spot at the bar at the family-owned Woody’s Brewing Co., order a round of tater tots—or, as my bartender more accurately described them, fried mashed-potato balls—loaded with blue cheese and bacon, and enjoy with a pint of microbrew. Final Draft Brewing Company is another local favorite within walking distance. Finally, awesomely, there’s a branch of Heavenly Donuts, a mini-chain with six locations in the western United States, just two doors down from the Thunderbird. The drive-thru window is open 24 hours, and they serve a ridiculously good strawberry-jelly donut. Consider yourself warned. ALL THE REST The Thunderbird is Fido-friendly, with a charge of $15 per pet per night. Parking is included with the room rate, but the space is tight and can be tough to navigate, especially on weekends. WiFi and continental breakfast are also free, and there’s a small pool on the premises that’s clean and well-maintained. RATES & DEETS Starting at $65. Thunderbird Lodge1350 Pine StreetRedding, CA530.243.5422thunderbirdlodgeredding.com

Inspiration

Locals Know Best: San Antonio, Texas

Before the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there was San Antonio. Established in 1718 by the Spanish, it celebrates its 300th anniversary this year (2018). And this Texas city, which clocks in as the seventh largest (still true in 2021) in the United States, has a whole lot to celebrate. Institutions along Broadway Cultural Corridor, a two-mile stretch north of downtown, have invested over $500 million in refurbishments and upgrades over the past five years. Among them is the Witte Museum, which encompasses ten acres along the river and focuses equally on nature, science and culture, all with a Texas slant. A multi-million refurbishment that transformed a total of 174,000 square feet was completed in 2017. It’s all happened under the watch of Marise McDermott, the Witte’s president and CEO for 17 years. A culture journalist from New York turned culture executive in the Lone Star State—“Once you marry a Texan, you live in Texas,” she notes—she’s called San Antonio her home since 1986, with a six-year break in the middle. She appreciates its “slower pace” and cherishes the eleven oak trees in her yard. We checked in with her to get the lowdown on the changing landscape of one of America’s oldest cities. A CULTURAL AND CULINARY MELTING POT The McNay Art Museum (Florin Seitan/Dreamstime) So, about those museums. The Broadway Cultural Corridor is a two-mile stretch just north of downtown on that runs along the San Antonio River. It includes the McNay Art Museum, a modern art hub; San Antonio Botanical Gardens; the San Antonio Museum of Art, which focuses on classical art dating back to the ancients; a 50-acre zoo; and the DoSeum, a children’s museum. It's also home to the Witte, which is devoted to telling the state’s history, from prehistoric times to recent decades. Under Marise’s watch, the Witte, which has been around since 1926, has taken great strides in elevating San Antonio’s cultural status on the international stage, bringing exhibits that hit other big cities to its galleries. A 10,000 square foot gallery that was opened as part of the $100 million transformation in 2017 as part of the $100 renovation debuted with “Whales: Giants of the Deep,” a show from New Zealand that featured a 58-foot whale sperm whale skeleton. (As an interesting footnote, Marise notes that there are 21 whale species on the Gulf Coast.) Where museums go, restaurants follow. As the institutions invested money, a culinary renaissance flourished. Longstanding restaurants upped their game and new ones opened. Marise is no stranger to the rustic, casual Smoke Shack, not least because it’s located across from the Witte. Also, their barbecue holds its own in a culture that values its grilled meats. One of the city’s standouts is located a few miles away from the Corridor in the Pearl, a revitalized old brewery that’s now a destination for its creative independent businesses.La Gloria specializes in Oaxacan street food. Its fun décor—a garage door entrance, metal furniture, and other industrial-chic touches—signals its lighthearted vibe. There’s a dog-friendly porch where you might find Marise hanging out with her two greyhounds and indulging in the fish tacos, one of chef-owner Johnnie Hernandez’s signatures. But the highlight isn’t the fillings, it’s the fixings. “The sauces are the most important part. They give you all sorts of different ones and they’re all freshly done with herbs.” And one other important thing: “No matter what time of day it is, get the sangria.” For something a bit more formal, she recommends Bliss, which is about two miles south of downtown. They offer a dependably excellent branzino dish, Marise says, and expertly paired wines. You’ll need a reservation because there aren’t many tables. MISSIONS: ACCOMPLISHED Missions Espada in San Antonio (Amanda McCadams) Back when the Spanish arrived in the 1700s, Franciscan priests built complexes known as missions to establish their rule on the frontier and convert Native Americans. Each mission contained all the necessities of daily life, from chapels to farms and granaries to workshops and acequias, their water distribution system. Today, the missions stand as an example of how craftsmen blended European and local design elements. They’re such a bedrock of regional history that the Mission Reach, which embodies five missions on nearly eight riverside miles, was established as a World Heritage Sites in 2015. Now, as Marise says, “visitors are finally finding them.” A trip to Mission Reach, however, is hardly a stroll through time-tested ruins. Many are still living places with vibrant cultures. Taquerias that have been run by the same family for generations are dotted along the riverfront park, which has seen investments of about $300 million in the past five years for public art, plantings, and chutes for kayaks. The money has also gone to upkeep of the area’s wetland space, so expect to spot all kinds of wildlife. When her teenage grandsons come to town, Marise will rent bikes from Swell Cycle (now called San Antonio Bike Share), the local bike share company, and hit as many missions as they can in a day. Along the way, they stop at roadside vendors for raspa, flavor-infused ice served by the scoop in paper cups, and paletas, Mexican ice pops made with traditional flavors like hibiscus flower or tamarind. TAKE IT OUTSIDE Texas is sprawling, to be sure, but you don’t have to go far for a change of scenery. For a heavy dose of the outdoors, head ten miles outside San Antonio to Government Canyon State Natural Area, which encompasses rugged bike trails, about 40 miles of easier walking trails, and camping sites on 12,244 expansive acres. To Marise, being there “feels like you’re in Hill Country, in the middle of nowhere.” Marise likes to share the story of the time the Witte’s paleontologist uncovered prehistoric footprints of an Acrocanthosaurus there. Museum staff thought there might be 20 tracks, but this one scientist uncovered 300 footprints and molded some of them you can find on display at the museum. Today, when wandering Government Canyon, the only beast you have to look out for is coyotes. SHOP AROUND The Broadway Cultural Corridor is, to hear Marise tell it, a retail corridor as well. "I shop at all the museum stores," she says, noting that she's purchased most of her jewelry at art institutions' shops, especially the McNay, the modern art museum. The San Antonio Museum leans more toward ancient-themed item, and the stores at the Botanical Gardens offer a wide selection of books and gifts for kids as well as unique outdoorsy things like hemp-fiber picnic blankets, suitable for, well, an afternoon at the botanical gardens, or any laid-back sunny spot. But that's not to say you can't get distinctly San Antonio items elsewhere. There are fantastic boutiques in the Pearl District. She calls out Dos Carolinas, a shop known for bespoke guayaberas made with natural fibers. This Caribbean and South American style of men's summer shirts is distinct for its pleated tailoring. "Good ones are hard to come by," she says. Until, that is, you get to San Antonio.For more information on San Antonio visit their website.

Inspiration

#BTReads: ‘Eating My Way Through Italy’

Say the word travel. If the first image that comes to mind is a table exquisitely set with heaping bowls of pasta, bottles of wine, and, ideally, a field of cornflowers in the distance, then Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eating My Way Through Italy: Heading Off the Main Roads to Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Italian Table may be the book you’ve been waiting for all your life. ENJOY AN ENTHRALLING FOOD MEMOIR - PLUS RECIPES! (Ermess/Dreamstime) Elizabeth Minchilli is perhaps the only food writer working today who could have pulled off this miraculous hybrid, a book that belongs in your carry-on the next time you fly to Italy, and on your kitchen shelf the next time you want to whip up an authentic taste of, say, Umbria (you must try the white bean soup recipe in the chapter on olive oil). Because Minchilli has spent decades studying, celebrating, and writing about the food cultures of the Italian peninsula, most recently in her masterful memoir-cookbook Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City, and on her website elizabethminchilli.com and bestselling app Eat Italy, she brings a depth of experience, wit, and contagious enthusiasm to each chapter. Open Eating My Way Through Italy to any page and dive into an anecdote, recipe, or travel suggestion and you know you are in the hands of a writer who starts with your best interest at heart, a writer who wants to educate you even as she enthralls you, and, in a media world increasingly dominated by food writers who seek to amass an audience before they actually have anything remotely interesting to say, a writer who knows her subject so deeply and brings such love to her work, you simply can’t stop reading. TRAVEL ACROSS ITALY IN 289 PAGES (Giuseppemasci/Dreamstime) I confess, I tend to read travel and food books (and hybrids like this one) with an eye toward my favorite destinations or foods, so I went straight to “A Crash Course in Parmigiano Reggiano,” in which Minchilli sorts out the rules under which the cheese is made, plus tips for how to buy the best and use it well. Spoiler alert: Never, ever, buy cheese labeled “parmesan.” For more, you’ll have to read the book. From Parmigiano, I moved right to “A Sense of Place and a Bowl of Farinata,” which not only delves deeply into the Tuscan polenta-beans-and-kale recipe but also divulges locals-only secrets of my favorite Italian city, Florence, from the point of view of a lifelong Roman (Minchilli lives in a rooftop apartment in Rome), which, frankly, is a little bit like a native New Yorker explaining how much they’ve genuinely come to appreciate Boston. (Toldiu74/Dreamstime) Basically, Eating My Way Through Italy allows you to drop in on Italy’s many culinary regions. We Americans often forget that what we think of as the country of “Italy” is a relatively new, 19th-century entity, and its centuries-old regions, from Emilia-Romagna in the north to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia, encompass a variety of flavors, terroir, dialects, architecture, and style that cannot possibly be reduced to a single adjective, no matter how alluring the word Italian may sound. With Eating Rome and Eating My Way Through Italy on our nightstands, kitchen counters, or in our carry-ons, Budget Travelers will always be just steps away from an authentic Italian feast. What a gift Elizabeth Minchilli has given us.

Inspiration

Hotel We Love: Jupiter Hotel, Portland, OR

Log cabins are to the Pacific Northwest what skyscrapers are to Manhattan and adobe houses are to Arizona, but if you think a hotel in the center of Portland, Oregon, is gonna offer classic log-cabin lodgings, think again. The city known for its creativity and eccentricity has accommodations that are true to form, and Jupiter Hotel is perhaps the most representative of Portland's originality and zany energy.  THE STORY Originally opened in 1964 as a motor lodge, the building was bought in 2004 and spruced up in a style that hints at a log cabin motif but also flies in the face of it, thanks to rooms appointed with creative, modern furniture. With all the rooms' entrances lined up along outdoor corridors, it has a distinctive retro charm, but that's where the vintage element ends. The sweeping, airy window-lined lobby doubles as a 24-hour gallery, with works by local artists changing every two months. If your visit falls on a first Friday of the month, partake in the neighborhood's art walk-around, when the hotel and many other nearby venues offer free wine and bites.   THE QUARTERS In standard Portland fashion, creativity reigns supreme. The rooms have an underlying Scandinavian minimalism about them, all clean lines and bright colors down to the turquoise remote control, but a Pop Art vibrancy ensures that a stay here is an engaging affair. For instance, giant chalkboards hang from the doors, with signs encouraging you scribble a masterpiece and post a shot of it on Instagram. Just don't forget to tag it: #jupiterhotel. Sleep options include one bed and two, and each of the 81 rooms is adorned with its own unique, colorful mural. And in a cute nod to Portland's all-inclusive attitude, there's a copy of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom, a treatise on creativity and happiness based on ancient wisdom, in the bedside nightstand's drawer.  THE NEIGHBORHOOD  The hotel is located in what's locally known as LoBu (shorthand for Lower Burnside) and more technically referred to as Central Eastside. It's something of a destination for foodie types, as it's home to the celebrated Le Pigeon, which offers French-minded fancy food in a decidedly informal setting. It's the flagship restaurant from two-time James Beard Award-winner Gabriel Rucker, who opened Canard, an equally French-inspired cafe-style eatery, right next door to Le Pigeon in April. The Jupiter's sister property, Jupiter NEXT, which opened in June, features Hey Love, a casual all-day/late-night restaurant/bar/lounge specializing in warm-weather-inspired food. And for quick convenience, Plaid Pantry is just three blocks away. Vintage shops and a handful of design-minded businesses also keep the neighborhood buzzing.  THE FOOD The hotel doesn't have its own eatery, but it sits adjacent to Doug Fir Lounge, a bar/restaurant/music-venue hybrid that's open from 7:00 a.m. until "late," with a 3:00 p.m. happy hour in between and live music every night in the downstairs performance space. (Concerts are ticketed.) The restaurant dishes out elevated pub fare made with seasonal ingredients as well as craft beer and cocktails. Call in an order for takeout and relax in your room, or stick around and mingle with locals, as it's a popular hangout with a lively patio scene. It's worth noting that there's a delightfully stylish, slightly kitschy log-cabin-meets-lounge look to the place. Expansive logs make up the bar-top, the walls and even some of the furniture.   ALL THE REST Of the hotel's 81 rooms situated in several sprawling buildings, 41 are located on the "chill side," out of earshot of Doug Fir's many patio revelers. Those rooms fetch a slightly higher rate than the bar-side rooms, so be sure to note your preference when making reservations. Also, to help you feel like a local during your stay, you can rent one of the hotel's bicycles and see the city on two wheels, alongside the many, many other urban bikers occupying the streets. Rates are $35 per day or $10 an hour.  RATES & DEETS Starting at $139 for the bar-side rooms and $149 for the chill-side rooms.  Jupiter Hotel500 E. Burnside Ave.Portland, OR 97214(503) 230-9200 / jupiterhotel.com

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