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Punch Scoops
Our Favorite Discoveries

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Cinequest, our nationally acclaimed Bay Area film festival, promises an exhilarating lineup this year with 253 films.  After kicking off August 15th with a buzz-worthy red-carpet screening of Fresh Kills  (accompanied with an enlightening discussion with writer-director Jennifer Esposito), the festival will continue with two weeks of screenings, celebrity Q&As, and glamorous after parties. Don’t miss out on a second red carpet event on the 24th at Mountain View’s state-of-the-art ICON Theatre for a screening of Sometimes I Think About Dying starring Star Wars’ actress Daisy Ridley. Finally, support local stories and storytellers by checking out 7000 Miles, Brothers Broken, Call Me Mule, East Bay, The Secret Song, and Daddy. —Johanna Harlow

san jose jazz summer fest



From August 11-13, get ready for the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, where a heady number of performances around San Jose will grace nine stages over its three-day span.  Sensational talent ranges from Grace Kelly to Marcus Miller, Chickenbone Slim & The Biscuits to The Soul Rebels, Sunny War to Cimafunk. Whether you prefer modern jazz, big band, blues, Latin, funk, New Orleans, or hip-hop, there’s guaranteed to be a performance that gets you groovin’. —Johanna Harlow

lafayette park hotel & spa



As avid fans of staycations, we were intrigued by the prospect of a “French country escape” in the East Bay. Sure enough, the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa (reminiscent of a French chateau surrounded by rolling hills and expanses of oak trees) turned out to be an idyllic setting for a birthday overnight/getaway. Highlights included much-needed downtime in our luxurious suite, poolside reading and relaxation as well as a completely indulgent Nano Renewal Facial at the spa. We especially enjoyed our celebratory dinner at The Park Bistro & Bar (with extra raves to the pan-seared scallops and squid ink spaghetti and chocolate citrus bread pudding). Adding to the fun: exploring Walnut Creek’s charming shops (with a stop at Tellus Coffee), hiking at nearby Lafayette Reservoir (what a gem!) and afternoon IPAs at the Headlands Brewing Company beer garden. A terrific reminder that you don’t have to drive far to get away!  —Sheri Baer

san jose broadway



Looking for a standout show? Reserve your tickets for San Jose Broadway’s latest season. We attended Pretty Woman: The Musical, which made sure to pay tribute to the film that paved it’s way by revisiting Julia Robert’s iconic outfits, performing Roy Orbison’s memorable song of the same title and honoring all the little moments you fell in love with during the 1990 rom-com. That said, the production also brought its own fresh take with catchy songs and breathed new life into the supporting characters (both the lovable Hollywood Boulevard rabble and the charming hotel staff). Though this musical only showed for a week, the upcoming season promises to introduce you to plenty more colorful characters by bringing 1776, Les Miserables, Beetlejuice, Hadestown, Mama Mia and other shows to the commanding stage of the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. —Johanna Harlow

the stanford park hotel



Stanford Park Hotel’s “Welcome home!” mantra isn’t some cute throwaway line. Expect an enthusiastic welcome from everyone on staff–from the woman at the reception desk to your waiter at  Menlo Tavern, the hotel’s upscale in-house restaurant. Within its sophisticated rooms, a soothing beige interior is boldly accented with dark green and artwork celebrates the area’s agricultural past as the Valley of Heart’s Delight. For additional ambiance, make sure to secure a courtyard room which offers garden views of maple trees and a plethora of thriving plants. During the summer months, you’ll hear the intoxicating strain of music through the windows of these rooms as musicians perform in the courtyard from 6 to 9PM nightly. Also on the premises, you’ll find cozy fires absolutely everywhere—so spend some time curled in the zebra print armchairs by the lobby hearth, then bring a s’mores kit to the outdoor firepits. One more perk is this locale’s walk-ability. Palo Alto’s University Avenue is just 15 minutes away and a refreshing morning stroll to Verve Coffee Roasters will get your day started on the right foot. —Johanna Harlow

TETRA Hotel and Adrestia



Scoping out your next staycation? Sunnyvale’s TETRA Hotel is a sleek modern beauty with neutral colors, clean lines and a clear intentionality to its light fixtures—all grounded by natural accents (like the lovely wooden slats that run along the lobby’s partitions and ceiling). Expect fun modern art in the rooms and a striking mobile of green paper leaves next to check-in (swaying realistically in the breeze every time someone steps through the entryway). After taking a dip in the heated pool on the 3rd-floor deck, visit the hotel’s restaurant Adrestia for melt-in-your-mouth carpaccio, skillet corn bread served with decadent miso and honey butters, and steak with a zesty chimchuri sauce. Stay for dessert (the custardy chai panna cotta with cardamom streusel is a must) or drift on over to the hotel’s Japanese whisky bar Nokori for a little night cap. —Johanna Harlow

mavericks beach


There’s nothing quite like watching the waves roll in at Mavericks Beach in Half Moon Bay. Significantly less popular than Half Moon Bay State Beach, Mavericks is the perfect place to avoid the crowds. For more of a hike, start your journey at the Pillar Point Bluff Parking Lot and it’s an easy 30-minute hike to the beach with gorgeous views. Don’t forget to bring a couple of layers, it can get chilly! — Sinead Chang

filoli historic house and garden


When you’re tired of wandering through your own backyard, look no further than Filoli. While the house is currently closed to visitors, my personal favorite spot has always been the garden. Painted arrows on the ground guide your visit, allowing for social distancing. It’s the perfect place for a walk with a loved one (I took my mom) or to snap a few graduation photos. During your visit, keep an eye out for the ever-changing art on display. Kristine May’s wire sculptures can be seen until November. Tickets must be reserved online in advance (even for members) and don’t forget to bring a mask. — Sinead Chang

the patio


Ahi tuna tostados, 21 flat-screen televisions and the city’s longest bar certify The Patio as one of the Peninsula’s premier sports bars. Replicate the intensity of Chase Arena with a packed room of hooligans or catch a more subdued afternoon soccer match from teams abroad. Stanford’s sports have never felt more at home than at The Patio. —Silas Valentino

alviso marina county park

1195 HOPE ST

This 20.6-acre bayside park, a gateway to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, runs along the slough adjacent the salt ponds of the South Bay. Ideal for walkers, bikers, birders and kayakers alike, the Alviso Marina County Park is replete with wildlife and views. —SV

hotel citrine/shoreline date (over)night


In theory, catching a favorite band live at Shoreline Amphitheatre has the makings of an epic date night but the hassle of getting in and out of the venue can put a damper on the evening. Just opened in 2021, Palo Alto’s Hotel Citrine caught our eye as a way to turn a Shoreline show into a memorable staycation or way to celebrate a milestone event. After booking a one-bedroom suite with its own private patio, we were met with glasses of complimentary champagne at check-in. We enjoyed delicious nibbles from the hotel’s Wild Onion restaurant by a fire pit poolside before making the quick (1.5 mile) mile jaunt to Shoreline, where we opted for the VIP deck and seating. The easy return to the hotel followed by a yummy brunch the next morning confirmed this is a winning combination.
—Sheri Baer

edgewood park


Edgewood park makes you feel on top of the world. There are several routes to get to the top of the hill that stands in the center of the preserve, but my favorite is straight up the front. It’s more exciting. I go here to watch the fog roll in from Half Moon Bay and see the sun setting on the Peninsula. Admittedly, there’s not much to do here. However, if you need a spot to simply be alone or a place to go with your chill friends— Edgewood is my sole recommendation. —Gabby Occhipinti

stulsaft park


During a rainy, chilly winter day there is no park I enjoy more than Stulsaft, since few other people are there and even fewer dogs. You can rustle through the leaves and hear the creek running and feel as though you a world away from Silicon Valley. There’s enough room and off-trails that you can meander around and let nature take ahold of your senses. Bring a Thermos of hot coffee and stay awhile. —Sloane Citron



Capitola is quite possibly the cutest town in Santa Cruz. With several colorfully decorated homes and a simple-life vibe, Capitola has been a sanctuary of sorts for me since high school. The town has some pretty adorable shops and restaurants. Get some fries to go at Zelda’s or a bigger-than-your-face slice of pizza at Pizza My Heart and take it to the beach right next door. Pro tip 1: go to Panache to create your own heavenly lotion. Pro tip 2: go to Surf N Shack for classic Santa Cruz beachwear and the cutest pomeranian store-dog. —Gabby Occhipinti

the church of nativity


I’m not a Catholic but if I were, this is where I would come to pray. This sweet, mostly overlooked church built in the late 1800’s rests in its lush surroundings in an agreeably idyllic way, with fountains running and the reverend’s stately home gracing the grounds. The church’s highlight is its towering steeple that wistfully reaches out into the sky. There’s even a kindly wooden bench to sit in while contemplating the world. —Sloane Citron

butano state park


The secret to the best day ever is to go to Butano State Park. I have a hard time letting this secret go public, but I digress. Head over to Pescadero in Half Moon Bay and get some take out at Taqueria De Amigos inside the gas station. I know what you’re thinking— trust me on this one. Otherwise, walk across the street to Duarte’s Tavern and feel like you just stepped into a 1970’s diner. After you’ve fueled up, head east on Pescadero Creek Road until you see signs for Butano State Park. Hiking in Butano has a way of getting all the problems out of you. I’ve never left the park with unresolved internal conflict. It works like magic. —Gabby Occhipinti

bike ride to breakfast



Biking through the hills of Woodside up and over towards Skyline can be slightly strenuous. However, right before the road gets too narrow to share, you’ll come across the cutest cabin you ever did see—Alice’s Restaurant. Alice’s parking lot is packed with motorcyclists in leather vests and groups of young families being adventurous and precious. If you live in the area and want to be a part of the fun, I’d recommend heading up on a Sunday (bike or bikeless) to feast in the forest… just 15 minutes from home. —Gabby Occhipinti