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Ebony Escapes Year in review

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 4/25/2012, 6:33 p.m.

It's hard to believe that the first quarter of 2012 is quickly coming to a close, but there's still plenty of time to plan your wanderlust sojourns--whether far afield or in your own backyard. For me, I've got numerous new destinations, exciting adventures, gastronomic explorations, melodious music events and other things to check out coming up, but like last year, before I get all wrapped up in the details for this year, I wanted to take a quick glance back to 2011 to revisit some of the wonderful adventures and experiences I shared with you all.

FRISCO, TEXAS

Located 20 minutes north of downtown Dallas, Frisco, Texas--home to approximately 116,000 people--has its own unique flavor and flair. In the 1800s, it was known as Lebanon and served as an important stop for settlers leading massive cattle drives along the Shawnee Trail. Like many settlements across the country, particularly in the western states, the founding and expansion of the railroad played an integral role in its development.

Some of the city's notable culinary delights are:

  • TruFire Kitchen & Bar, offering Mediterranean fare with a few interesting twists like the Philly bruschetta, fire-roasted mussels, sweet fries, a Texas pecan and fig (outstanding!) and naked avocado salads with shrimp, salmon or tuna if desired, chicken and shrimp diablo pizzas, pastas and specialty dishes including the short rib pie. (214) 872-3830, trufirerestaurants.com
  • Named after Highway 121, which runs through the area, One2One Restaurant and Bar offers beautifully plated "American classics with some twists," with honorable mentions going out to the ginger filet spring rolls, Beau Nash smoked chicken and corn soup and the cedar-wrapped salmon served with buttered asparagus, saffron basmati rice and preserved lemon butter. (214) 618-2221, www.one2onerestaurant.com
  • Cantina Laredo serves up authentic and unique Mexican fare like mango chicken salad with jicama, seasoned pumpkin seeds, grapes, mint and queso fresco with a honey vinaigrette, slow-roasted brisket tacos served in soft corn tortillas and asada enchiladas--grilled steak with marinated onions and chimichurri sauce paired with a cheese enchilada. (214) 618-9860, www.cantinalaredo.com
  • At Josephine's Italian Bistro, everything on the menu is homemade, from the lobster ravioli with a basil pesto porcini sauce with onion straws resting on top (oh, my, God!), to the Portabella Fritti, breaded and fried portabella mushrooms; risotto and gorgonzola balls; sauteed Branzino (Italian sea bass) filet with fresh rosemary and Italian string beans over orzo; and the Rigatoni alla Meatball, homemade pork and beef meatballs in a tomato sauce. (972) 731-8300, www.josephinesitalianbistro.com
  • Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau: (877) 463-7472, www.visitfrisco.com

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY (SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS)

Nestled atop one of San Antonio's highest points in the northwest part of the city approximately 15 miles from downtown, the Westin La Cantera Resort is an extraordinary experience. Built in 1999, the resort, which completed a $12 million renovation two years ago, possesses 508 luxurious guest rooms, including more than 25 spacious suites in the main building, and an exclusive Casita Village. (210) 558-6500, (800) WESTIN1, www.westinlacantera.com

Visitors here really enjoy:

  • The 2,300-square-foot secluded adult pool, complete with lap pool, sports pool and two hot tubs, tranquil waterfall, oodles of comfortable seating with bamboo shades or expansive umbrellas and its own Jacuzzi, all nestled in the hillside near the beginning of the nature trail.
  • The Castle Rock Health Club and Spa, its own luxurious slice of heaven with inviting relaxation rooms, Jacuzzis, oversized lounging furniture, plush robes and a wide array of spa services. They also offer a tasty variety of teas and wines to sip before, in between or after your spa treatments. westinlacantera.com/spa.html
  • The La Cantera Nature Experience winds around a portion of the resort and is designed to highlight, yet not disturb, the natural landscape. The 1.5-mile trail features a variety of plant habitats, rock formations, wildlife and pathways, with trailhead markers and descriptive signage along the way.
  • With a ranking as one of the "Top 50 Golf Resorts in the U.S." by Conde Nast Traveler and among the "Top 75 Golf Resorts in America" according to Golf Digest, it's no wonder that golf is one of the resort's biggest draws. Avid golfers here will find two exceptional courses: The Resort Course at La Cantera and the Palmer Course at La Cantera, the latter designed by golf legend and award-winning course designer Arnold Palmer and the Arnold Palmer Design Company. (210) 558-4653, lacanteragolfclub.com
  • For the kid in all of us, from family fun, to "adult time-out" activities to the Kids' Club there is a wealth of options from which to choose from sun up to well after sundown. The Kids' Club, for ages 4 to 12, described as "a parent-free session filled with discovery and adventure," has wonderful activities for every age, including those hard-to-please tweens and teens.