Travel and outdoors product reviews and trips


CALIFORNIA

News
Anaheim
Bakersfield
Barstow
Bass Lake
Beverly Hills
Big Bear Lake
Big Sur Coast
Cambria
Carlsbad
Catalina Island
Claremont
Costa Mesa
Del Mar
El Capitan Canyon
Encinitas
Escondido
Eureka
Fort Brag
Fresno county
Guerneville
Healdsburg
Hollywood
Homewood
Huntingtong
Indian Wells
Irvine
Laguna
Lake Tahoe
La Quinta
Las Alamos
Lodi
Long Beach
Los Angeles
Malibu
Mammoth Lakes
Marina del Ray
Mendocino
Montecito
Monterey
Mt. Shasta
Napa Valley
Nevada
Newport Beach
Oakdale
Oxnard
Palm Springs
Paradise
Pasadena
Paso Robles
Point Loma
Rancho Cucamonga
Redding
Redway
Redwood City
Sacramento
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
San Luis Obispo
San Mateo
San Marino
San Miguel
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara
Santa Clarita
Santa Cruz
Santa Maria
Santa Monica
S
anta Rosa
Sebastopol
Shasta Lake
Solvang
Sonoma
Stockton
Temecula
Thousand Oaks
Tomales Bay
Walnut Creek
Westlake Village
Yountville
Visalia
West Hollywood
Yosemite

NEWS (Cities & Towns Follow the News)

Artisanal Wine Dinners At Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

The Only Snowcat Operation in the Tahoe Basin this Winter will be at
Homewood Mountain Resort

Los Angeles Museum Season is back!

Winter Means Fun Events in San Diego

The Discovery of King Tut Opened at the San Diego Natural History Museum

25 Free Winter and Holiday Activities in San Diego

Moshin Vineyards is Off the Grid in Healdsburg

Sunday Funday at Silverado Resort and Spa, 1600 Atlas Peak Road Napa, CA 94558

The Ahwahnee at Yosemite Has Announced the 30th Annual Chefsâ Holidays Lineup 

Homewood Mountain Resort offers Early 2014-15 Ski Season Passes

San Francisco Zen Center is thrilled to continue its distinguished spiritual engagement and community building with the public opening of this year's guest season (through September 14, 2014) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village Launches “Sustained Living” Menus

New Core Exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum Provides Overview of the Region's Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

Full Week Devoted to Pedal Power at Big Bear Lake

The Ahwahnee Hotel Announces its 33rd Annual Vintners‚ Holidays Lineup

Rustic Luxury Meets Culinary Artistry on California's Scenic North Coast -- Brewery Gulch Inn Offers Unique Travel Experience in a Serene, Natural Setting

Check Out the Great Activities and Exhibitions at the San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT)

Timberline Gallery & Gallery Yosemite “Rocks” the Yosemite Grant 150th Anniversary

Cinema in the Vineyards at the Mendocino Film Festival

Bass Pro Shops to open new Outdoor World store in Rocklin

New Tasting Rooms, Food Experiences and an Artistic Visionary for Music --- Rediscover Sonoma County in 2014

There's Plenty to See & Do at Laguna Beach Year-Round

Coronado Has Lots On Tap for 2014

Yosemite National Park's Curry Village Ice Rink Opened for the 2014 Season

Silverado Resort and Spa Cyber Monday - 25% Savings

Melting Pot Tours Are Both Yummy and Educational

Coronado Is Lovely & Offers Lots of Shopping Close to San Diego

101 Great Things to Do at Laguna Beach at Little Cost or Free!

Check out the happenings at West Hollywood

3 Terrific Ways to Experience Aerial Adventures in the Big, Blue Skies in and near Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

What's New in Los Angeles? Plenty.

Spend An Entire Day - Or Longer - at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens With Special Events

For Peace, Birding, Hiking & More, visit Batiquitos Lagoon

History in the Making--Tahoe City Lakeside Trail to Open Linking Trails, Connecting Our Communities

Port of Los Angeles Gets Crafty

Say Ahh! At Coronado's Spas

Portola Hotel & Spa Offers A Loyalty Program for Kids

Silverado Resort and Spa -- Sip, Cycle, Swing and Silverado Specials

Pamper Yourself at the Huntington Spa at The Langham Hotel

Huntington Beach Publishes new Dining Guidebook

Check Out Los Angeles for Lots of Exciting Events

Feel Free As A Bird During an Air Balloon Ride Over Temecula

Check out Huntington for fun at Don's

The New Luxurious Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Has Lots to offer.

Pasadena Is The Place To Be for Great Sites, Eats, Museums & More

Portola Hotel & Spa Offers High-Valued Golfer’s and Wine Lovers Packages Plus A Girlfriends Spa Getaway package

Moshin Vineyards Goes “Off the Grid”

Moshin Vineyards now uses its solar electricity generating system at the winery in Healdsburg. The system generates 48 kilowatts of electricity that allows the winery to be “off the grid” with the exception of a few peak production months. Energy efficiency has always been a high priority at Moshin Vineyards. The winery uses a four-tier gravity flow system for moving wine without the use of a pump, ultimately reducing the winery’s demand for energy. Also, the winery has in-house nitrogen production, which allows for fewer deliveries of heavy nitrogen tanks and also outputs oxygen (the by-product of nitrogen production). Tours of the gravity-flow winery are available by appointment.

For details contact Amber Moshshin, Moshshin Vineyards, (707) 433-5499,
amber@moshshinvineyards.com, www.moshshinvineyards.com.

ANAHEIM

Where to Stay

Lion Hotel Anaheim near Disneyland®

Featuring a contemporary, timeless design, vibrant décor, state-of-the-art facilities and genuine service, the beautifully renovated Red Lion Hotel Anaheim is a refreshing destination in the heart of the Anaheim Resort area (www.anaheimredlion.com). Walking distance from Disneyland® Resort, Anaheim Convention Center, and Anaheim GardenWalk, our fresh, innovative hotel is a convenient destination for vacationing families, corporate travelers and meeting groups. From the moment you enter the dramatic marble lobby, bathed in natural tones and rich leather seating, you feel welcome.

The Red Lion Hotel Anaheim has been completely transformed to help you stay comfortable with its brand philosophy -- the casually sleek design, warm color palette, inviting open spaces, and artistic finishes create an atmosphere of peace and playfulness where kids and grown-ups feel equally at home.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa--

leads the way with the expansion of 200 additional guest rooms and 50 Disney Vacation Club villas. This represents a 30 percent expansion of the 745-room property, giving it a total of 945 rooms and 50 villas.

WorldMark Anaheim

a new 14-story timeshare resort featuring 253 units and 12 new luxury presidential suites.

Sheraton Garden Grove-Anaheim South Hotel --

285 guest rooms; and Anaheim GardenWalk, a shopping and dining resort within walking distance from the Anaheim Convention Center.

Where to Eat

Anaheim White House Restaurant

Reputed to be Orange County's "Best Steak & Seafood Restaurant" and designated as a 1909 Historical Landmark, it has a distinct Italian decor. . . .quite opulent and formal . . . . but quite comfortable. Foreign language menus are available, and the garden is perfect for strolling, outdoor dining or smoking. The Sunday Champagne Brunch is sereved from 11 am to 3 pm and the menu has a wide choice to choose from, including Vegetarian Pasta Cavalli with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, garlic and Tuscan olive oil over fresh pasta; Ravioli Walter Nudo stuffed with a combination of Italian cheeses in Porcini mushroom sauce; Veal Armani - tender thin sliced veal rack sauteed in a sage & Porcini mushroom sauce; Sea Bass Versace baked in a parchment basket and presented in a saffron & seafood infuson, plus much more. Be sure to bring your camera; the outside of the building, resembling a place, is lit up at night and you'd swear you were in Europe!

Location: 887 South Anaheim Blvd. Anaheim, CA 92805. Reservations: 714-772-1381; e-mail: bruno@anaheimwhitehouse.com or go to web site www.aaheimwhitehouse.com

What to See & Do

The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk

Just steps from Disneyland, you can enjoy fine and informal dining and an array of shops, including Madison and Company for discounts on regular priced jewelry; Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for delicious fudge; O'Neill, for anything from sunglasses to surfboards and much more.

BAKERSFIELD

Where to Stay

Guesthouse International Inn & Suites

An artsy, intimate 50-room hotel property in downtown Bakersfield was recently renovated to become the first boutique-style accommodations in the city. With the commitment of local investors and partnership with a national brand, the Guesthouse International Inn & Suites is giving new life to an existing, retro-style hotel property and offering a unique lodging option for visitors. The inn can accommodate guests desiring either two double beds or a king size mattress at rates around $89 a night. There is also one poolside suite and two meeting rooms that can seat up to 40 people, as well as alternative accommodations across the street for long-term guests in a bungalow and four-plex apartment style building. The original building, located on Bakersfield’s main street, had a funky retro feel with a raised courtyard and pool in the center. The renovations have enhanced the artful look, with Harlequin-style flooring in shades of beige and chocolate brown, and classic black and white photos in the hallways and guestrooms. For travelers who require excellent service and economy-driven accommodations, centrally located just one mile from the Convention Center, the new Guesthouse International Inn and Suites will be the place to stay.

For more information contact Andrew Blanton, Guesthouse International Inn & Suites, (661) 327-7126, www.guesthouseintl.com.

BARSTOW

What to See & Do

Barstow Expands Shopping Oasis

Since its opening in 1995, the Tanger Outlet Center in Barstow has earned its reputation as a bargain hunter’s paradise in the southern California desert. Last year, more than 1.6 million visitors shopped and saved at Tanger in Barstow. This spring, Tanger embarked on a major expansion project that will ultimately add more than 65,000 square feet and bring several popular brand name and designer outlet stores to the shopping center. When completed in early 2008, it will feature such well known outlet brands as Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Aeropostale, Skechers, American Eagle Outfitters, Aldo, Icing and Sunglass Hut. In late August, the entire center will begin to take on a vibrant new look. Designed to complement the stunning colors found in the surrounding Mojave Desert, the Tanger Outlet Center will be updated with a new, deep terracotta color scheme with valley flower yellow and deep brown accents.

For more information contact (760) 253-4813, (800) 4-TANGER, www.tangeroutlet.com.

BASS LAKE

Where to Stay

New Resorts Have Opened on Bass Lake

There are some truly infallible signs of spring, you might say some for winter this year as well: wildflowers blooming, the return of some migratory birds (if they ever left), and The Forks Resort and Miller’s Landing have opened for the season on Bass Lake.

Located about 20 minutes from the southern gate to Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake is a popular destination for visitors looking for a great escape to the lake, as well as guests heading to the park.

Both The Forks Resort, located along the lake’s western shore, and Miller’s Landing, located at the southern end of the lake, offer a wide arrange of amenities for guests. Spacious cabins make them perfect spots for families looking to spend some quality time together on vacation, restaurants serving delicious meals, and they both have marinas with a diverse selection of watercraft to rent.

“Competition for the best hamburger in the mountains is fast approaching,” said Judi Hussain with the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. Bass Lake has everything someone needs for their trip at the water’s edge. Lodging, dining, shopping and more are all right there, so you never have to interrupt your vacation to go get supplies. You’re always at the lake, surrounded by some truly beautiful scenery.”

Lodging options at Bass Lake run the entire gamut, with camping, the cabins at The Forks and Miller’s Landing, numerous vacation rental homes and The Pines Resort, a full service property. Dining options are also versatile, with family friendly dining, a bar and grill and fine dining.

BERKELEY

Where to Stay

About The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

The Claremont, a member of the Pyramid Hotel Group, opened in 1915 and is located in California’s Berkeley Hills. The property features 279 uniquely designed rooms and suites, a variety of unique meeting and event spaces, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, an incomparable 32 treatment room spa, and an award-winning food & beverage program. The Meritage restaurant specializes in bringing the wine and food experience together with a menu of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. While Paragon Restaurant & Bar offers a menu of hand-shaken libations complementing a menu of relaxed American contemporary food. In addition to the culinary experiences to be found at the Claremont, guests can relax at Spa Claremont, play a game of tennis or spend the afternoon poolside enjoying this landmark’s spectacular views. For more information, please visit www.claremont-hotel.com or call (800) 551-7266.

About Pyramid Hotel Group

Pyramid Hotel Group is a privately held, Boston-based hotel company with 60 hotels and resorts under hotel management and asset management, comprising more than 22,000-plus rooms and approximately 8,900 employees. Pyramid Hotel Group, ranked among the largest U.S. hotel management company by independent sources, provides hotel management, asset management and project management services to a broad array of hotel assets ranging from a 90- room select-service hotel to world-class properties with more than 1,000 rooms. Pyramid Hotel Group is a franchisee of all major hotel brand companies and an operator of independent four- and five-star hotels and resorts. Additional information is available at www.pyramidhotelgroup.com.

What to See & Do

Lawrence Hall of Science Goes Global

New at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, perched high atop the Berkeley Hills with a panoramic, seagull’s eye view of San Francisco Bay, is “Science on a Sphere,” an interactive exhibit that creates stunning visual effects from real scientific data, and displays them on a 6-foot-diameter globe. Three-dimensional video projectors show visitors such effects as the expanding wave pattern of a devastating tsunami, massive storms forming and moving over Earth’s oceans and landmasses, and night lights around the globe that reveal our planet’s most densely populated areas. Additional exhibits include the wildly popular “Animal Grossology” and the outdoor science park, “Forces That Shape the Bay,” where visitors can divert a river, trigger an earthquake, move tectonic plates and learn about ocean creatures. And this summer, there will be more opportunity than ever to experience Lawrence Hall of Science via extended hours and a special admission price of $5 per person during evening hours.

For details contact www.lawrencehallofscience.org.

BEVERLY HILLS

What to See & Do

Melting Pot Tours

 I was on one of the Melting Pot tours and absolutly loved it. In fact, when I'm back in Beverly Hills, I'm looking forward to going on another one. It was great fun, great food and great places we walked to.

And, if there's anyone you're hunting for a special gift for - whether it's a birthday, anniversary, Easter or Christmas, etc. - you can purchase a gift certificate for one of the tours. It's available for purchase year-round, can be purchased online, or call 424-247-9666. Don't worry about an expiration date -- there isn't one!

Some favorite shopping sources:
Farm Boy at the Original Farmers Market prides itself on its gorgeous variety of apples, which are all carefully selected. Any variety will work here; my preferences for this recipe are Fuji, Pink Lady, and Golden Delicious.
Ha's Apple Farm, present at local LA Certified Farmers Markets, often pops up on Tuesdays in the Plaza at the Original Farmers Market! Their Fuji apples are truly some of the best in the land.
Magee's Nuts has walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and any other nut variety that you may like to substitute!
 
The newest event is a Thai Town tour with Chef Jet Tila.  

Remember, too, that the Melting Pot tours can be customized for private tours to fit your budget and time constraints with groups from 10 to 50.

Do you eat Kosher?

On a Melting Pot tour, you'll find out that 'kosher' can also be haute cuisine. Alain Cohen, who came from Tunisia by way of Paris is now the proud owner of Gotkosher Cafe and Gotkosher Catering in LA, and is inviting everyone to enjoy, on Sunday, April 7th, the following: 

• A tour of the kitchen/bakery, and tutorial about the exact meaning of "kosher", hosted by the man himself. 
• Lunch  of Alain's signature Tunisian Tuna sandwich, choice of side dish, beverage, and warm chocolate challah bread pudding for dessert.  
• 10% discount on purchased goodies-to-go.  
• 1 pound pretzel challah specially priced at just $1. 
Here are more details, and what to do now!
• This is an exclusive invitation for our subscribers and their guests!
• Event is Sunday, April 7th, from 3-5pm.
• Cost is only $39 per person for everyone, including children.
• Attendance is very limited; if there is overflow we will add a second date.
• The Melting Pot office will be taking reservations and handling advance payment.
• To register for event, call 424.247.9666. Lisa will book reservations in the order that they are received.

 About Melting Pot Food Tours

Melting Pot Food Tours is the premier food tour company in the Los Angeles area. Sisters and co-founders Lisa & Diane Scalia are L.A. natives and lifelong residents of Italian descent who truly 'live to eat'. Lisa, a caterer and private tour guide, and Diane, a professional chef, cookbook author, and food writer, together have over 30 years of combined experience in the food industry and the culinary arts.
 
Given their lifetimes of experience living and working in the Los Angeles area, the Scalia sisters are particularly well-qualified to select the most interesting and intriguing neighborhoods in the city and surrounding communities in which to conduct food tours. Their careful selection of locales for their tours ensure their guests an entertaining, fulfilling and memorable culinary experience.
 
Melting Pot Food Tours started in June 2008, the first tour company of its kind in southern California, and since that time has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, CBS-TV news, Los Angeles Magazine, CNN News Headlines local edition, AAA Westways magazine, AARP Magazine and AARP Online, Daily Candy, Tasting Table, AAA World magazine, the KTLA morning news with Gayle Anderson, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Pasadena Star News, Arroyo Monthly, KCAL-9 So Cal Now television, 830AM radio, and WHERE Los Angeles. It is also consistently rated as one of the top tours in Los Angeles on Trip Advisor.

For more information contact Melting Pot Food Tours at www.meltingpottours.com  or via e-mail at info@meltingpottours.com. Or call 1-424-247-9666. You can also write to Melting Pot Food Tours at 8484 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 220, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Maison 140 Launches "L'Heure Verte," A Nightly Adventure in Absinthe, AKA "The Green Fairy"

Cocktail hour has never been more mystifying than at Maison 140 Beverly Hills’ L'Heure Verte or "The Green Hour," a daily absinthe tasting experience recently introduced at the hotel’s intimate Bar Noir. Stylishly bringing absinthe to the Los Angeles crowd after a 96-year ban in the U.S., Maison 140’s French-inspired setting provides a perfect location from which to enjoy this much-celebrated aperitif.

Served nightly, at a price of $5 per glass, guests can celebrate the triumphant return of this formerly-banned liquor by observing one of alcohol's most inventive pours, demonstrated by the centuries-old French-serving ritual associated with this high-proof emerald elixir.

Concocting the “Green Fairy”

Arriving at a drinkable glass of absinthe requires short, but dramatic steps. A few ounces of “Le Tourment Vert” absinthe (100-proof, 50% alcohol content) are poured into a glass, which is then followed by equal parts of ice water chilled in a specially-designed absinthe fountain. The cocktail is finished with a flourish of cascading water over a sugar cube, which sits perched atop a special slotted-silver spoon, lying across the glass. With five parts water, one-part absinthe, the concoction, known as the Green Fairy, becomes a delicious aperitif.

Guests can also opt for a fierier spectacle, which includes the setting of the sugar cube ablaze before melting it into a snifter glass of absinthe, and cooling it down with ice cubes.

About Absinthe

The mysterious allure of absinthe is unparalleled in the annals of history—due in part to the myths and lore that surround it. Its most notorious and recently dismissed assignation identified absinthe as promoting drug-induced, psychotropic effects – side effects under which many claim to have seen the illusive “green fairy.” Derived from the flowers and leaves of the herb, Artemisia-absinthium (more commonly known as wormwood), absinthe’s popularity dates back to 19th Century France, where it was highly-revered by café society and by the bohemian sub-culture. Loyal devotees of the drink included Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde and numerous other historical figures.

“L'Heure Verte” Details:

Cost per drink is $5
Every evening from 5 to 7PM
Parking is complimentary.

For more information or to make a reservation call 310 407 7795 or email tastings@maison140beverlyhills.com. Maison 140 is located at 140 Lasky Drive in Beverly Hills.

About Maison 140

Old-world Asian influences meet contemporary Parisian delights at www.maison140beverlyhills.com Maison 140 Beverly Hills. This quaint boutique hotel’s striking décor transports guests to an old Left Bank inn, yet ceaselessly intrigues with inflections of Eastern mystique. The classic brick façade, complete with dormers, potted topiaries and signature red-lacquered doors, serves as a warm welcome from bustling Beverly Hills. Interior designer Kelly Wearstler has created a powerful blend of texture, color and pattern, mixing classic elements with Chinoiserie, 1920s styling and 1970s modernism. Each of the 43 guestrooms is a unique creation unto itself, with one-of-a-kind antiques, custom furniture and Italian linens. Thick, rich mohair throws drape the occasional Louis XVI chair for the regal feeling of a cozy home. Original artwork by Joshua Elias was commissioned for each room. The intimate Bar Noir is a stylish meeting spot for hotel guests and Beverly Hills locals alike, in a palette of black, white and crimson, custom-designed elements and Parisian antiques.

BIG BEAR LAKE

Full Week Devoted to Pedal Power

Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo and Tour de Big Bear Headlines Week-Long Cycling Festival to Celebrate all Disciplines of Cycling

Big Bear Cycling Association (BBCA) is pleased to announce the inaugural Big Bear Cycling Festival in Big Bear Lake from Saturday, July 26 through Sunday, August 3. The Big Bear Cycling Festival brings together both road and mountain bike enthusiasts for a week-long festival. The two main events of the festival are Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo, which includes The Grizzly 100 on Saturday, July 26 and the 5th Annual Tour de Big Bear, an organized and supported road cycling ride that anchors the festival Saturday, August 2. The festival is intended for all levels of riders including professionals, endurance athletes, weekend warriors, fitness enthusiasts and family-ride participants.

“This is a one-of-a-kind event in the United States,” said Craig Smith, president of BBCA. “There is no other festival or event that positions itself as celebrating all types of cyclists and provides nine days of events including competitive races, long-distance rides and family-oriented opportunities.”

Tour de Big Bear, an annual organized and supported road ride, has emerged as a premier cycling event in Southern California providing more than 2,000 cyclists the option to ride 25, 50, 70 or 100 mile distances in and around Big Bear Valley. A  King/Queen of the Mountain race will pit 70 and 100 mile riders against the clock on a challenging climb to the top of Onyx Summit (8,442’). Aid stations offer various foods to fuel rides including bacon, smoothies, “popcycles” and new menu surprises. Each rider receives a custom designed finisher’s medal and a high-quality technical shirt. There is also a two-day cycling expo near the start/finish line in Big Bear Village. For details about Tour de Big Bear visit www.tourdebigbear.com.   

Connor McCutcheon, a local Big Bear professional road cyclist and member of the D/3Devo Airgas Cycling Team participated in 2013 Tour de Big Bear. He called “The Grand Tour” 100 mile distance “one of the most challenging rides of the year and a real test for any serious cyclist.” 

The Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo is a first-time event that offers three distances to ride mountain bikes, which are 70k, 30k and a lift-served 20k recreational ride. Each ride is fully supported and takes place in the San Bernardino National Forest over a combination of US Forest Service roads and single track trails. In conjunction with the Gran Fondo event is The Grizzly 100, a sanctioned race that is part of the National Ultra Endurance Race Series. The Grizzly 100 course covers 100k (62 miles) and more than 10,000’ of climbing, which locals refer to as the “Terrible 10,000.”This race is the last opportunity for riders to prepare for Leadville Trail 100 MTB, the most iconic mountain bike endurance test in the USA. For details about Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo visit www.bigbeargranfondo.com.    

Sandwiched in between the headlining events, Big Bear MTB Grand Fondo and Tour de Big Bear, is a week-long celebration of cycling that embraces all disciplines of cycling including road, mountain and recreational. Free rides and activities designed for families, groups and individuals are offered daily during the week-long festival. There are altitude acclimation road rides of various distances for Tour de Big Bear participants to get “altitude adjusted” for the main ride on August 2. Mountain bike enthusiasts are in for a treat with plenty of fun-filled mountain bike rides, including an evening sunset ride and post party at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company. Other activities include recovery rides, time trials, a poker ride, an afternoon gathering at the Snow Summit Bike Park, and a valley-wide bike rally followed with dinner at Maggio’s Pizza. Participating families can take a break from the riding action to enjoy children’s activities and special discounts at the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. For a full schedule of Big Bear Cycling Festival events visit www.bigbearcyclingfestival.com.

Big Bear has grown quite a reputation as a great location for cycling for both road and mountain biking. Since the 1990s Big Bear has been on the cycling world’s radar when it was host to premiere mountain bike races including the NORBA Nationals and US Cup. Moreover, road cycling has firmly taken hold in the Big Bear region including the host city for AMGEN Tour of California stages in 2010 and 2012. Also, Big Bear is the current location for the Redlands Bicycle Classic time trails.

“Big Bear Lake is fast becoming known as Southern California’s cycling mecca,” added Smith. “While most of Southern California and surrounding states are baking in the hot summer sun, Big Bear provides crisp, cool mountain air, which is an attractive opportunity to vacation and ride.”

For more detail information about Big Bear Cycling Festival including a full schedule of events and directions, please go to www.bigbearcyclingfestival.com.  For all there is to see and do in Big Bear, to request a free Visitors Guide, or to book lodging reservations visit www.BigBear.com.

BIG SUR COAST

Plan A Retreat at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center near the Big Sur Coast

San Francisco Zen Center is thrilled to continue its distinguished spiritual engagement and community building with the public opening of this year's guest season (through September 14, 2014) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The gates to Tassajara open to Zen and meditation seekers, yoga lovers, artisan foodies, and people looking to unplug and experience a truly serene environment; 7 months of the year Tassajara is closed to the general public for private Zen practice.

Nestled in a mountain valley, inland from the Big Sur coast in a remote part of the Ventana Wilderness, Tassajara has been long known as a place for self-discovery, healing and an escape from the stresses of everyday life. In 1967, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (Founder of San Francisco Zen Center, Author of the seminal Buddhist book, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind) established Tassajara as the first Zen training monastery outside of Japan. Suzuki Roshi searched for a mountain temple similar to the monasteries in Japan and China, and was able to purchase Tassajara through the support of the Zen community, friends, and patrons. Today, Tassajara is internationally recognized as the most remote Zen center in the United States and beckons as a top destination for Buddhist practitioners and vacationers alike.

Only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles via a 14-mile dirt road, Tassajara is an eco-efficient paradise garnering 100% of its energy from solar panels and the local hot springs. The hot springs have proven to be a main attraction of the Monterey/Salinas area following the native Esselen people's discovery of the springs in the 1870's; generations of settlers and visitors have come ever since seeking renewal and tranquility.

For the forthcoming 2014 guest season, Tassajara utilizes its new eco-retreat center that was designed with the highest standards in green development, by architect Helen Degenhardt (JSW/D Architects; the retreat center was completed in 2012); all retreats will be held in the retreat center. The Tassajara Program Schedule 2014 offers disciplinary retreats in the following six specialty areas, all led by some of today's leading teachers: Body and Mind, Mindful Living, Creative Expression, Engaging Earth, Spiritual Practice, and Zen Study & Practice.

Tassajara offers a special opportunity for the general public to recharge, relax, and reconnect with themselves. Visitors soak in the hot springs, meander along the trails, savor Tassajara's celebrated vegetarian cuisine, stay in beautiful accommodations, participate in zazen (meditation), and enjoy the eclectic retreats offered by some of today's most celebrated teachers. Tassajara invites visitors to explore the variety of ways that Zen and other complementary practices can inform and enrich one's life.

Below is a list of the retreats scheduled for the upcoming 2014 Guest Season; additional detailed information can be viewed on www.sfzc.org/tassajara.

Body and Mind Retreats:

The Mind and Body of Practice in Zen and Yoga (September 11 - 14, 2014)
-Featuring Shokuchi Deirdre Carrigan (Professional Dance, Yoga Instructor; Conference Coordinator, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center) and Ingen Breen (Zen Buddhist Priest and Member, Soto Zen Buddhist Association of America)

CAMBRIA

Where to Stay

FogCatcher Inn in Cambria Completes Renovations

Pacifica Hotel Company (PHC), known for its collection of small boutique hotels along the California coast, recently renovated the FogCatcher Inn in Cambria, giving it a fresh, new look.

Inside, all 60 rooms have a bright, new look, with a French cottage theme. The Inn’s breakfast area and lobby were also remodeled. Located across from Cambria’s splendid Moonstone Beach, the FogCatcher Inn features fireplaces in every room, contemporary conveniences, views of the English gardens and flower-lined brick paths that lead to intimate seating areas. Guests can feel the ocean breeze through the whimsical delicate sheer curtains in their room and fall asleep to the soothing sound of ocean waves.

For more information contact (800) 425-4121, www.fogcatcherinn.com.

CARLSBAD

What to See & Do

Batiquitos Lagoon

About the Batquitos Lagoon Foundation

The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation was formed to oversee the conservation and enhancement of evironmental and aesthetic features of the Lagoon. It is a job of great mportance and considerable magnitude. This restoration project is the largest and most important project of its kind in the United States and, because of increased agricultural and community development nearby, a sizeable monitoring effort must be maintained to evaluate conditions of the restored Lagoon to ensure its success.

Enjoy the pleasures surrounding the Batiquitos Lagoon, walking along the trails, seeing the wild flowers, and the delicate balance of nature, including the plants, flowers and crawly creatures that provide ample food for all that dwell here.

This is one of Southern California's most treasured natural resources. Once feared lost as a natural habitat for endangered species such as the Snowy Plover, Least Tern, Belding's Savannah Sparrow and other shore and sea birds, the Lagoon is again flourishing, providing an environmentally balanced home for a myriad of birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, fish, plants and a variety of other wildlife. Thanks to a three-year, mammoth restoration project, the mouth of the Lagoon has been reopened, and the bottom has been re-contoured to allow a daily ocean tidal flushing action that's necessary to preserve life and stimulate growth throughout the Lagoon and for the restoration of native vegetation along its shores.

Try the various walking trails and viewing sites along the Lagoon; check out the information center on the North side of the Lagoon, and view the nesting islands for the Least Turn and the Snowy Plover. Once dying sea grasses and plants are vigorously re-establishing themselves, and there is peace and tranquility to enjoy.

Look for mallards, Northern shovelers, the Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon plus so many more ducks that frequent this area. The Black-necked Stilt is fun to watch throughout th year, and if you come during early morning or evening, you might catch a glimpse of a coyote or fox; maybe a bobcat, too.

You can reach Batquitos Lagoon by traveling north or south on Interstate Five exiting on Poinsettia Lane in Carlsbad. Travel inland and turn right onto Batiquitos Drive. Follow to Gabbiano Lane, turn right and follow it to the end.

For more information contact Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, P.O. Box 130491, Carlsbad, CA 92013; web site www.batiquitosfoundation.org.

Torrey Pines State Reserve and State Beach

In the middle of an urban area, its Torrey Pines State Reserve in a majestic wilderness. Its fragile environment of high, broken cliffs and deep ravines overlook the sea and is home of one of the world's rarest pine trees - Pinus torreyana. The Torrey pines are believed to be the remnants of ancient woodland that once flourished along the southern California coast, but now they grow naturally only on this small strip of San Diego coastline and on Santa Rosa Island.

Torrey Pines State Beach, adjacent to the reserve, stretches four and one-half miles from Del Mar past Los Penasquitos Lagoon to the base of the sandstone cliff at Torrey Pines Mesa. You can swim, surf, fish and picnick here. At low tide, when the red-tinged bluff is reflected in wet sand, is the best time to stroll the beach.

Park History --

The Kumeyaay that lived at Torrey Pines traveled in bands of extended families throughout the coast, mountains and desert foothills. They lived in small dwellings and shade ramadas which were made of willow, oak, manzanita, deerweed, tule, chamise and other local plants. They were seasonal hunters and gatherers, searching for roots, berries, nuts and seeds. Using fishhooks and nets, they caught a variety of sea animals and picked up grunion, shellfish and mollusks from the beach. They also hunted rabbits, quail and deer with bows and arrows. Today, their descendents still reside in many of the same areas

The Reserve --

the 2,000-acre reserve's setting today contains approximately 300 endangered and protected species of native plans, including coastal strand, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and Torrey woodlands. The habitats are home to sand verbena and beach primrose in the coastal strand areas, as well as California sagebrush, California buckwheat, black sage, and coastal barrel cacti in the coastal sage scrub community. The mesas and other high elevations are host to the chaparral community of plants, including chamise, manzanita, California scrub oak, toyon and mountain mahogany. The trees are fascinating to study, for they take on a variety of shapes as dictated by the elements --dwarfed and gnarled where most exposed to wind and salty air, or taller and more upright in sheltered areas.

Trails --

The 0.6-mile Guy Fleming Trail in the North Grove offers two scenic overlooks with panoramic views. This trail has the greatest variety of wildflowers, ferns, cacti and pine trees in the reserve.

The 0.4-mile Parry Grove Trail has dramatic ocean views. Steep stairs from the head of this trail.

0.1-mile High Point Trail offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the reserve and ocean.

0.7-mile Razor Point Trail meanders through coastal sage scrub, spectacular views of sculptured sandstone, gnarled trees and the surf 150 feet below. Yucca Point Overlook, accessed from both Razor Point and the beach trail, features dramatic yucca flower displays in spring and stunning examples of sandstone erosion.

0.75-mile Beach Trail is a rustic footpath through the upper reserve to the beach 300 feet below.

1.3-mile Broken Hill Trail offers a beautiful view of eroding sandstone and its north fork leads through Elfin Forest before connecting to the Beach Trail near Flat Rock.

1.5-mile Marsh Trail goes along the southern edge of Los Penasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve. The trailhead is on the east side of North Torrey Pines Road opposite the South Beach Parking Lot.

Don't forget to stop in at the Visitor Center for a look at exhibits on local wildlife, flowers and geology. You can alsopick up free trail maps here and see the native plant garden at the front of the center.

For more information call 714-858-755-2063

Carlsbad's Golf Course

The Crossings at Carlsbad, a 6,850-yard, championship 18-hole municipal golf course, opened recently in Carlsbad, located approximately 30 minutes from downtown San Diego. Designed by golf course architect Greg Nash, the course is accented by the natural features of the Carlsbad hills, adjacent to the city’s natural wildlife habitat and trail
systems. The new 400-acre public facility also features a 23,000-square-foot clubhouse, pro shop, banquet center and 310-yard night-lit driving range.

For more information check web site www.thecrossingatcarlsbad.com.

Where to Stay

LEGOLAND® Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort is Officially Open for Bed and Brickfest!

A knight riding in on a horse, an adventurer arriving in a sidecar motorcycle, a pirate repelling down the porte cochere next to a LEGO® smoke-breathing dragon, and a little girl who figured out how to put a larger-than-life room key together…that’s how the nation’s first LEGOLAND® Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort officially opened its doors to the public today in Carlsbad, California.  

Created to bring children’s imaginations to life, the 250-room, three-story LEGOLAND Hotel opened its doors after a ceremony showcased the three room themes based on the most popular LEGO toy lines inside the family theme park: Kingdom, Adventure and Pirate. Confetti blasts showered the dragon created out of 400,000 LEGO bricks and hundreds of guests and members of the media as they flowed into the Hotel where they were surrounded by an interactive LEGO world designed for children age two to 12 and their families.

The adventure began years ago when guest feedback showed it took more than one day to explore all the Resort has to offer. “Our guest feedback is extremely important to us,” said General Manager of LEGOLAND California Resort Peter Ronchetti. “After all, everything we do here is done to enhance the guest experience and help them create memories that will last a lifetime. Now they can extend their experience even further by staying and playing in an entire Hotel that builds on fun.” Construction began in October, 2011 and every detail was considered when creating the unique Hotel where each room is LEGO themed from the carpeting to the walls and bedding and contains at least eight LEGO models. There are more than 3,500 LEGO models throughout the Hotel using more than three million LEGO bricks. Five thousand minifigures line the wall behind the reception desk as a LEGO model of a bicycle riding surfer highlights the individual figures with his magnified wheels.

LEGOLAND Hotel offers themed and premium themed rooms along with junior and family suites. Premium themed rooms have additional LEGO models and décor such as themed wall paper. Suites include an extra TV and doors that adjoin to the next room. Children have their own sleeping area in every room complete with bunk beds, a trundle bed and their own TV. Special amenities in each room are designed with children in mind, such as the lowered peephole and toilet training seats that can be used with every toilet.

Interactive features include a Castle Play area, a talking and water spraying dragon on the patio, a LEGO play pit in the reception area and a treasure hunt inside the rooms where younger guests search for clues to open a locked safe filled with LEGO treasure! The Castle Play area is the hub for imagination and fun at LEGOLAND Hotel. Based on the LEGO Kingdom, Pirate and Adventure lines, the area features a pirate ship attempting to dock in a LEGO filled moat next to an interactive castle. Young guests can pull on a handle as they enter the castle causing the LEGO ogre above them to roar. Nightly entertainment takes place on the castle stage as a pirate, princess, knight or adventurer interact with young guests to get them ready for bedtime.  

A family of four LEGO dragons live within the Hotel: One smoke-breathing dragon at the entrance, a playful young dragon in the lobby sits on top of a handle and slowly spins it to make a LEGO river flow, a baby dragon peers over the ledge of the castle in the Castle Play area and an interactive bubble-blowing dragon named “Bubbles” is taking a bath on the patio as she playfully sprays water and “speaks” to young guests.

In keeping with the high standards of food served within LEGOLAND California Resort, the LEGOLAND Hotel features a variety of healthy and flavorful food options for the whole family. Bricks Family Restaurant serves a breakfast and dinner buffet with a station designed specifically for kids at a height they can reach. Mini’s Lounge is adjacent to the Castle Play area and provides guests an opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy some beverages and quick snacks. The Skyline Café features a LEGO city skyline with 35 fun scenes including a woman fighting a turkey that came out of her oven, a man swimming in his apartment being chased by a shark and a woman holding a banana to try to entice a monkey off her balcony.

The outdoor pool area, featuring a gradual incline 5-foot-deep swimming pool and a plethora of lounge chairs, gives guests a place to cool off after a day at the Park. Swim Up movies are shown at poolside Friday and Saturday nights during peak season. Surrounded by LEGO palm trees and views of the Hotel, even this pool area is a LEGO fans dream.

Located right at the main entrance of LEGOLAND California, Hotel guests will have exclusive early morning access to the theme park designed for families with children ages 2 – 12.

For more information and to book reservations, visit: www.LEGOLANDHotel.com. LEGOLAND® California Resort includes LEGOLAND California, SEA LIFE™ Aquarium, LEGOLAND Water Park and LEGOLAND Hotel opening April 5 all geared for families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. At LEGOLAND California, you’ll find more than 60 rides, shows and attractions including LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display, Pirate Reef and LEGO Legends of Chima 4-D movie. SEA LIFE incorporates LEGO® models into a child’s voyage to the depths of the ocean and features play zones, fun facts and quiz trails and the interactive Claws exhibit. For more information, visit www.LEGOLAND.com or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 94 attractions, eight hotels/two holiday villages in 21 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 50 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 20,000 employees. Among Merlin’s attractions are - SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The EDF Energy London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park, WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK, Siam Ocean World and Busan Aquarium. All brands which are distinctive, challenging and innovative – and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.

Merlin currently has seventeen attractions in the USA including LEGOLAND Florida theme park with its new Water Park; LEGOLAND California theme park with its exciting Water Park, and SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Hotel opening April 5; Madame Tussauds attractions in New York City, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood; LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Atlanta, Georgia; and SEA LIFE aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; the Mall of America in Minneapolis, underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator.

The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Opened in June 2010 at 7100 Aviara Resort Drive in Carlsbad, the resort is located on California's sun-drenched Pacific coast, in the seaside community of Carlsbad, on the north shore of Batiquitos Lagoon – a vast protected wildlife sanctuary and an enclave of natural beauty.  From atop the highest ridge, overlooking the ocean and the lagoon, the San Diego resort provides a respite from the ordinary.

Secluded amid 200 acres of verdant hillsides and rolling valleys, within the master-planned community of Aviara, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort provides an appealing setting for any function.  The resort’s Spanish colonial architecture welcomes with a sense of casual elegance.  Each of the 329 spacious guest rooms – including 44 suites – features a private balcony or landscaped terrace offering magnificent views.  Expansive facilities for meetings and special events are enhanced by complete resort amenities, from acclaimed dining at four on-site restaurants, to a full-service spa, swimming, tennis, a fitness center and an Arnold Palmer designed 18-hole championship golf course.

 The resort features 329 guest rooms and suites located in a low-rise building in Spanish colonial architectural design.  The rooms are generously sized, starting at a minimum of 540 square feet.  All guest rooms are luxuriously furnished with comfort and well-chosen Park Hyatt amenities. Each room is air-conditioned and offers a king-size bed or two double beds, a 42-inch flat screen television with Web-TV and a Sony PlayStation, and a private refrigerated bar with a coffee maker.  The seven-foot closet is spacious enough for any wardrobe and also contains a secure in-room safe.  High-speed wireless Internet is available in each guest room and all public areas.  Personal telecommunication needs are provided with two-line telephones outfitted with computer/fax connection capability. 

The spacious marble bathroom features a glass-enclosed shower and deep soaking tub, separate room with toilet and telephone, double vanities with illuminated make-up/shaving mirror, plush terry bathrobes, an ample supply of oversized towels, hair dryer and selection of toiletries. In addition to the regular guest rooms, there are 24 Park Suites (855 square feet), 15-one bedroom suites, three two-bedroom suites and a Presidential Suite, complete with a living room, dining room, two king-sized bedrooms and a double room. 

  Guests will enjoy a wide choice of menus that combine the freshest regional produce from California and fine foods from around the world.  Dining options include:

·      Vivace: The resort’s signature restaurant offering innovative, Italian cuisine in elegant yet contemporary surroundings.  Dinner is available nightly.

·      California Bistro: A comfortably sophisticated restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch daily; a Seafood Buffet on Friday evenings; and à la carte dinner on Saturday only.

·      Argyle Steakhouse: Located at the Aviara Golf Clubhouse, The Argyle Steakhouse is open Tuesday through Saturday evenings with panoramic views of the 18th green and lagoon.  Breakfast and lunch is served Wednesday through Sundays.  An à la carte Sunday Brunch is also available, featuring magnificent views of the surrounding nature preserve.

·      Ocean Pool Bar & Grill: Offers lunch and cocktails poolside.

·      Lobby Lounge: Provides a comfortable setting for Afternoon Tea, evening cocktails and a light-fare menu. 

In-room dining is available 24-hours a day. Children’s menus are offered in each of the restaurants and for room service.

MEETING/BANQUET The 12,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom combines renowned Park Hyatt service with ample space for major new product introductions and incentive programs.  The Grand Ballroom has 24-foot coved ceilings and large access doors to accommodate almost any exhibit, including automobile displays.

Aviara Salon, the resort’s 4,000 square-foot ballroom, is ideal for social occasions.  The 2,300 square-foot conference room and eight other meeting rooms are suitable for executive board meetings and breakout rooms.

All meeting rooms feature state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities for all types of presentations. On-site presentation support tools include: lecterns with light, overhead projectors, LCD color display panel, slide projectors, multi-image dissolve units, video cameras, microphones, CD players, personal computers and peripherals.

PSAV, the on-site AV provider, has professional technicians available to assist with virtually any equipment need.  Their office is located on the conference level to provide quick response to meeting planners’ needs.

BUSINESS CENTER & CONFERENCE SERVICES:    

  Business travelers and conference planners have 24-hour access to computer workstations and printers. During normal business hours, experienced Conference Concierges provide a full range of word processing, copying and fax services.

INTERNET CONNECTION:      Guest rooms, pool area, restaurants, golf clubhouse, and meeting spaces feature high-speed wireless Internet. 

FITNESS ACTIVITIES & SPA:      Park Hyatt Aviara Resort provides active guests with a wide array of sports and exercise facilities, including an Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole golf course, tennis center, two swimming pools, spa and fitness center and a recreational center featuring croquet, badminton, bocce ball, volleyball and basketball.

The six tennis courts (lighted for night play) include a center court for group tournaments. There are two clay- and four hard-surface courts. Lessons are available through the acclaimed tennis instructors of Peter Burwash International.

The 3,200 square-foot outdoor family swimming pool has underwater lighting and is ideal for family recreation. A shallow wading pool and water playground are also popular with the resort’s younger guests. A “Kiddy Café” provides pint-sized picnic tables for the resort’s smallest guests to enjoy a meal or snack.

The Resort’s “Tranquility Pool” offers panoramic views of the Batiquitos Lagoon and Pacific Ocean and is designated for quiet relaxation.

Adults will enjoy relaxing in the Resort’s two whirlpools. The large multi-level, landscaped deck features chaise lounges and private canvas cabanas, each with telephone jack and port to provide high-speed Internet access.

The 15,000 square-foot Spa features separate men’s and women’s sauna and steam rooms, whirlpools, cool-down lounges, locker and dressing rooms and solarium lounge.

The exercise room has cardio and weight training with private flat screen televisions.  Twenty treatment rooms are available for massages, scrubs, facials and wraps. The Private Spa Suite with fireplace, private whirlpool and intimate lounge area provide an ideal venue for those seeking privacy.

Located on the lobby level, the Ceron Salon specializes in professional image consultations, hair services, manicures/pedicures and make- up services.

BABIES TRAVEL LITE:      Park Hyatt Aviara offers Babies Travel Lite, a baby supplies service.  Guests can shop online at Babies Travel Lite and choose from over 1,000 name brand baby products including diapers, formula, food and more. 

CAMP HYATT:      The Camp Hyatt program makes a memorable and special vacation for children ages 4-12 years old, while giving parents’ time to take advantage of the many fabulous activities and amenities offered at the resort. 

Each day begins with check-in at 9:00 a.m. in the Camp Hyatt Playroom.  Kids are introduced to their new friends and counselors and review the day’s program which includes a variety of games, arts and crafts and even storytelling.

A 3.5 acre recreation lawn provides guests of all ages with a host of activities.  In addition to half-court basketball, a sand volleyball court and six tennis courts, the Resort has created professional croquet, bocce ball and badminton facilities.  During afternoon walks to the Batiquitos Lagoon, a wildlife preserve located on the Aviara property, kids learn about endangered species that make this lagoon their home.  Kite flying, soccer, kickball, Frisbee and scavenger hunts are all part of the fun.  At the end of each day, kids can proudly take their arts and crafts back to their guest room.

Camp Hyatt is offered daily June-August, weekends September-May and holidays and school breaks in March, April and December.  Facilities are open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

THE AVIARA GOLF CLUB:      Named by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine as one of the best resort golf courses in America, the Aviara Golf Club overlooks the protected Batiquitos Lagoon.

The only San Diego golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, Aviara features a memorable coastal layout: par 72 over 18 holes and 7,007 yards uniquely sculpted around rolling hillsides, native wildflowers, and plenty of bunker and water challenges. Hole after hole, Aviara golf stimulates the senses with colorful flowers and flora and then sneaks in an ocean view hole just to ensure you'll never forget this magnificent Park Hyatt golf experience.

The elegant two-story, 32,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial clubhouse features a bar, a large cozy lounge with fireplace, and the adjoining Argyle Steakhouse with indoor and outdoor balcony seating; showers, locker rooms; an upscale golf shop, driving range and an oversized practice putting green round out all the upscale Aviara golf amenities.

Kip Puterbaugh’s Aviara Golf Academy, located on-site at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, is the longest running golf school in the Western United States featuring one, two-and three-day golf schools.  Puterbaugh consistently ranks as a Top 100 golf instructor and Top 25 U.S. golf school by Golf Digest

Opened in 1987, each of the six instructors have a minimum of seven years of experience at the facility. Kip and his staff of professionals have combined to form a curriculum that gives students of all playing abilities a great opportunity to learn about all aspects of playing better golf.

The Aviara Golf Academy is also home to the U.S.'s first TaylorMade Performance Lab.  Previously available only to PGA Tour professionals, the two hour custom fitting experience is conducted in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and includes driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putter. It is beneficial to golfers of all ages and skill levels wishing to improve their game with custom-fit equipment.

Custom fitting in the broadest sense is building a club designed to match your individual swing characteristics so that you hit the ball longer and straighter with better control. TaylorMade Performance Lab is able to provide golfers with "Golf's Ultimate Fitting Experience" utilizing the same revolutionary advancements in motion capture technology seen in such films as Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Batman.

CONCIERGE SERVICES:      Park Hyatt Aviara Resort offers two great ways to experience the sun, sand and surf on San Diego – the Beach Butler and Surf Concierge. 

Guests wishing to spend an afternoon at the beach can simply call upon the Beach Butler to arrange their desired experience.  The complimentary service includes personalized transportation to Ponto Beach with all of the necessary amenities: chairs, umbrella, towels, blanket and all of the accoutrements for morning coffee, an afternoon picnic or a sunset snack.  Beach goers choose from a wide variety light fare, sandwiches or full-scale ocean-side entrees.

Located poolside in an authentic surf shack, the Surf Concierge has the latest wave conditions, water temperature and all the “411” in order to hit the beaches of San Diego.  Guests of all ages are welcome to join the professional, lifeguard-certified surf instructors as they deliver personalized instruction.  The two-hour surf lesion is $100 per person and includes wetsuit, surfboard and transportation to and from the beach.

Traditional concierge services are available 24-hours a day to answer questions regarding hotel facilities and area events, and to make sightseeing, travel, dinner and entertainment arrangements. 

RETAIL:                   A selection of four fine shops rival the best in La Jolla and San Diego.  The boutiques offer last-minute essentials, jewelry, clothing, antiques and exceptional gift items.

·      Roberto Coin: Best described as an elegance of femininity born from the desire of experimenting with lights, shapes and colors to create a unique collection of fine jewelry.

·      Lamonts: Stocks everyday essentials and a selection of logo items. 

·      Moonbeams: Enjoy a delightful array of fashionable women’s and children’s attire.

·      Peaches en Regalia: Features a distinctive collection of designer sportswear, eveningwear and accessories. 

STANDARD PARK HYATT SERVICES AND AMENITIES:           

·      Personal resort host

·      Babysitting services (24-hours minimum notice required)

·      Concierge

·      Multilingual Staff

·      Foreign exchange facilities

·      Business center

·      Chauffeured, air-conditioned cars for hire

·      On-call Doctor

·      24-hour Room Service

·      Laundry and dry-cleaning services

·      Safe-deposit facilities

·      Valet parking in covered parking garage    

For details:   

Phone: 760.448.1234

Fax:     760.603.6801

Toll-free reservation in the U.S.: 1.800.633.7313

Website: www.parkhyattaviara.com

     

CATALINA ISLAND

Where to Stay

Aurora Hotel on Catalina Island

The Aurora Hotel on Catalina Island features 16 guestrooms and three suites that feature modern furnishings, rich chocolate brown and turquoise hues, memory foam mattresses, hand-crafted bath amenities, luxurious linens, flat-screen television, DVD player, refrigerator, coffee makers and microwave oven. Public areas in the hotel include a sophisticated lobby and a roof-top deck with sweeping ocean, city and mountain views.

For more information contact the Aurora Hotel, (310) 510-0454 or (888) 510-0908, www.AuroraCatalina.com.

CLAREMONT

Where to Stay

HOTEL CASA 425 Opened

Hotel Casa 425, a stylish boutique hotel, opened in Claremont on September 20, 2007. Built in the style of historic California Mission architecture with refined contemporary styling, the hotel is located in the newly expanded downtown village, within steps of restaurants, cafes, shops, art galleries and a cinema, and only a short walk to the prestigious Claremont Colleges. Guests enjoy a variety of complimentary amenities, including wireless Internet access in all common areas and guest rooms; a European-style breakfast; fresh fruit and home-baked cookies; a fitness room; business center; a library of music CDs, DVDs, books, newspapers and games; concierge service; bicycles on which to explore the village; free covered parking; and a travel snack bag upon departure. The hotel is managed by the Four Sisters Inns, a full service hotel management company specializing in small, upscale properties.

For more information contact (909) 625-2272, (866) 450-0425, www.casa425.com.

CORONADO

What to See & Do

Coronado Shines with 2014 Special Events

Located a bridge away from downtown San Diego, Coronado offers an exciting array of annual and special events that make a visit to the "Crown City" as memorable as its postcard-perfect setting. From the nation's premier surf dog competition and a star-spangled Fourth of July celebration honoring the city's proud U.S. Navy heritage, to the largest tented flower show in the nation and sparkling Christmas festivities, there are numerous signature events for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

Following are Coronado event highlights

Free events coincide with the Coronado Flower Show weekend:

through Sept.
Coronado Ferry Landing Summer Concerts
Popular concerts take place every weekend, from 1-4 p.m., during the summer at the Coronado Ferry Landing, with performances from local bands and spectacular views of San Diego Bay.

For more information on 2014 events in Coronado and the entire San Diego region, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website, www.sandiego.org and www.sandiego.org/coronado, or call (619) 236-1212. 

Coronado Shopping: Everything Under The Sun

Located a bridge away from downtown San Diego, Coronado offers unique shopping opportunities throughout the island, from the bustling bayfront Coronado Ferry Landing with its colorful outdoor shopping complex to the oceanfront Hotel del Coronado with its fashionable boutiques and specialty shops. Shoppers can also delight in the "Crown City's" charming, mile-long Orange Avenue, lined with dozens of inviting stores, one-of-a-kind boutiques, art galleries and sidewalk cafes.

Following are a few of Coronado's most popular retail areas for shopping enthusiasts to explore, enjoy and find one-of-a kind mementos from their visit to the "Enchanted Island."

Coronado Ferry Landing

The Coronado Ferry Landing, located along picturesque San Diego Bay, is a lively outdoor retail and entertainment complex featuring waterfront dining and distinctive shops surrounded by tree-lined walkways, sparkling ponds and waterfalls, swaying palms and spectacular views of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge and the downtown San Diego skyline. Shoppers can stroll through more than 25 stores selling everything from novelty gifts and memorabilia to seashells, fine art, women's clothing and shoes, men's sportswear and more. Ample, off-street parking is available.

After a day of shopping, guests can grab a quick bite to eat at one of the Coronado Ferry Landing's casual eateries or enjoy a relaxing meal of fine dining along the waterfront at Peohe's (seafood), Candelas on the Bay (French/Mexican fusion) or Il Fornaio (Italian).

The Village

Coronado's historically preserved, downtown commercial district is called "The Village" by locals and offers a diverse collection of over 100 specialty shops and businesses, many independently- or family-owned. Shoppers can browse through the popular Bay Books bookstore, designer apparel boutiques, surf shops, home and garden/flower shops, gourmet food and wine shops, jewelry stores, candy and ice cream shops, dessert bistros like the new Weincakes and art galleries like the new Shorelines Gallery.

Orange Avenue

Orange Avenue, Coronado's charming main street, was recognized with the Great American Main Street award for its "vibrant, diverse…downtown" and originally named after the numerous orange trees that were once planted down its median. The avenue is especially appealing to shoppers with its wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, inviting patios and eye-catching storefront facades and window displays.

Located adjacent to the historic El Cordova Hotel on Orange Avenue is a unique collection of 12 boutique shops and four restaurants, including two serving festive Mexican fare. Situated in a charming Spanish village setting, the complex is reminiscent of Old Town San Diego with its beautiful tiled courtyards, gardens and splashing fountains.

Luxury Locales

At the landmark Hotel del Coronado's Shops at the Del, visitors can find an exquisite collection of over 15 shops and boutiques featuring upscale women's apparel, including Karen Kane and Trina Turk; men's apparel, including Tommy Bahama and Greg Norman; kid's apparel, including Roxy and Quicksilver; as well as fine jewelry, home accents, bath and spa products, toys, gourmet chocolate and candies and a wide selection of Del merchandise including apparel, books, gifts and collectibles.

Located a few miles south of The Village, the bayfront Loews Coronado Bay Resort features two unique boutique shops on property. Tide's Gift Shop & Sundries, the resort's newest boutique, offers specialty gifts from Two's Company and Mud Pies, as well as logo merchandise, books, toys and souvenirs. Market To Go offers grab-and-go dining as well as picnic baskets, travel mugs and a selection of gourmet snacks, sweets, wine and beverages.

For more information on activities and events in Coronado and the entire San Diego region, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website, www.sandiego.org and www.sandiego.org/coronado, or call (619) 236-1212.

COSTA MESA

Where to Stay

Wyndham Orange County Pampers Pets with Paws and Claws Package

The Wyndham Orange County hotel has introduced a package plan called Paws and Claws that welcomes guests traveling with their four-legged friends by providing special pet accommodations, rates, and services.

The Paws and Claws experience begins with the hotel reservation. Wyndham Orange County’s PetRequest Manager contacts guests who book the package to review a pre-arrival checklist designed to ensure that pets and their owners receive favorite treats and a directory of nearby dog parks and pet grooming, healthcare, day care and massage providers. The PetRequest Manager is available to assist owners and their pets throughout their visit.

The package also includes food bowl and water; use of a plush pet bed; nightly turn-down service for guests and their pets; a pet service directory; lint rollers; biodegradable pet waste bags; and optional ground-floor accommodations with direct access to the Pet Relaxation area, a four-acre lakeside tract where owners can walk their pets. While their pooches may enjoy a pet massage at the nearby PawSpa, Wyndham Orange County guests are welcome to pamper themselves at the Spa at South Coast Plaza, located across from the hotel. Hotel guests receive complimentary access to the spa’s world-class fitness facilities as well as a 10 percent discount on all spa services.

While guests enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner on the outdoor patio of the TerraNova restaurant overlooking the hotel’s beautiful lakes and gardens, their pets dine on special china. Restaurant specialties include a signature breakfast buffet, pasta bar for lunch and brasserie-style dinner menu featuring crispy coconut shrimp with mango dip; steamed Hawaiian-style mahi-mahi with ginger-soy glaze; and New York steak au poivre with herb fries and cognac reduction.

The Paws and Claws package starts at $139 per night on weekends and $169 per night on weekdays. Advance reservations are required.

The Wyndham Orange County also invites local residents and their pets to enjoy a Paws and Claws breakfast Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon. The Wyndham brand’s signature Fields & Sun breakfast features fresh fruits and produce, muffins and croissants baked daily and omelets cooked to order, among other choices.

In addition to pampering pets and their owners, the Wyndham Orange County hotel has pledged $5 per room night reserved under the Paws and Claws package and a portion of the price of the Paws and Claws breakfast to the Greyhound Pets of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding kind, loving homes for greyhounds that are retired from the Caliente Race Track in Tijuana, Mexico.

The 238-room Wyndham Orange County is located near Disneyland; Newport, Huntington and Laguna beaches; the new Orange County Performing Arts Center; South Coast Plaza Shopping Center; Spa at South Coast Plaza; and Costa Mesa Bark Park, a two-acre fenced park where pets may roam without leashes. For more information about the Wyndham Orange County hotel, call (714) 751-5100 or visit www.wyndhamorangecounty.com

Greyhound Pets of America/CA-Orange County and Greater Los Angeles is an all-volunteer, non-profit corporation dedicated to finding homes for racing greyhounds when their racing days are over. Greyhound Pets of America’s focus is on the greyhounds currently racing at Caliente Greyhound Park in Tijuana. New retirees are temporarily housed in foster homes where they stay until potential adopters successfully go through the organization’s application process.

For more information on the Greyhound Pets of America, please call (800) 298-5743 or visit www.fastfriends.org

DEL MAR

Where to Stay

About L’Auberge Del Mar

L'Auberge Del Mar is located in the heart of Southern California's most picturesque coastal village of Del Mar. The historic seaside resort, managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, will set a new standard in Southern California coastal hospitality as a result of a $25 million comprehensive property scheduled for completion in June 2008. The revitalized L’Auberge will introduce an upgraded resort that is reminiscent of a welcoming, private coastal estate, including a redesign of its 120 guest rooms and suites, lobby, pool deck and more. Upon reopening, the property will also feature a new restaurant with James Beard Chef Paul McCabe at the helm. For information or reservations, call (800)245-9757 or (858) 259-1515 or visit www.laubergedelmar.com

About Destination Hotels & Resorts
Destination Hotels & Resorts is a privately held lodging management company headquartered in suburban Denver, Colo. With more than 30 independent, luxury and upscale hotels, resorts and golf clubs, Destination is the fifth largest independent hospitality management company in the country. The company’s portfolio features more than 7,000 guest rooms, 10 golf courses and 11 full-service spas. Destination Hotels & Resorts properties are located in key metropolitan and resort markets including Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver, Dallas, San Diego, Aspen, Austin, Phoenix, Portland, Palm Springs, Maui and Lake Tahoe. For more information on the properties in the Destination Hotels & Resorts collection, please visit www.destinationhotels.com.

What to See & Do

Top 10 Reasons To Beat the Recession at Del Mar Racetrack

10. If the track was classy enough for Bing Crosby and his Hollywood cronies and hot enough for the guys from HBO’s Entourage, it’s quality enough for readers to know about.
9. San Diego tops the “best lists,” and the Del Mar Racetrack is a San Diego summer destination.
8. It’s a classic, not-to-be-missed summer event - think Kentucky Derby every day of the seven-week season. Celebrities and socialites alike will make their way out to Del Mar for the glamour and opportunity to win the big bucks.
6. The elite Turf Club is so popular that a member must invite another person (or die) to grant access.
5. The views are fantastic; it’s across the street from the Pacific Ocean.
4. It’s the 2nd best track in the nation, based on on-track attendance and handle (money wagered).
3. It’s a non-racing entertainment venue with free headlining concerts and festivals and a world-class horseracing venue, racing internationally renowned Thoroughbreds.
2. You can rent the Seaside Cabana for a private party close to the track’s rail or reserve a restaurant table with a photo-finish view and sip Del Martinis under the warm, San Diego sunshine.
1. The village of Del Mar offers hundreds of restaurants, bars and other activities to fill your readers’ time before or after the races.

EL CAPITAN CANYON

Camp Butlers at El Capitan Canyon

El Capitan Canyon, located 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, has a new dining option that rounds out the “pampered camping” experience. Guests can request a “Camp Butler” to prepare, grill and serve one of the Canyon Market’s signature barbecue dinner kits right in front of their own cabin. Relaxing by the fire and letting someone else roast the tri-tip and s’mores is the way to go after an invigorating day of exploring. Barbecue kits include firewood, plates and utensils, a choice of tri-tip, chicken, or hamburgers and hot dogs, side dishes, beverages and a s’mores kit. Guests can pick up and grill their own kits, order a kit to be delivered to their cabin, or request a “Camp Butler.” Prices vary.

For more information contact El Capitan Canyon, (866) 352-2729 or (805) 685-3887, info@elcapitancanyon.com, www.elcapitancanyon.com.

ENCINITAS

What to See & Do

Quail Botanical Gardens

Quail Botanical Gardens is always worth a half or full day. Here, among 30 acres of gardens in Encinitas you'll find unusual plant displays from all over the world and the Seeds of Wonder garden, specially designed for children. Here is also one of the world's most diverse and important plant collection, including California native plants, exotic tropicals, palms, bamboo, and other unusual plant collections among scenic walks and trails. And, if you are into gardening, the Botanical Library is available for research and study.

What to See here--

Desert, tropical, subtropical and mediterranean climate gardens, plus demonstration gardens. Here you'll also find ancient cycads, majestic palms, flowering trees and the largest bamboo collection in the United States.

The Victorian Garden -- With its beautiful large lawn framed by borders of lush flowering plants.

The Walled Garden -- An intimate location enclosed with an old-fashioned brick wall that is very reminiscent of an English Country Garden.

The Waterfall View Deck -- Overlooks a three-story waterfall surrounded by palm trees, orchids and other tropical plants.

and much much more. Also, daytime and sunset wedding ceremonies and receptions and catering service is available.

Quail Botanical Gardens was originally the private residence of Ruth Baird Larabee, an avid plant collector and naturalist. In 1957, the land was donated to the public as a plant and wildlife sanctuary, and is currently operated by the Quail Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. Classes, workshops and lectures on a variety of topics are available yearround for children and adults. Special events include the Summer Concert Series, Annual Plant Sales, Garden of Light, and Gala..

The price is $40 per person for an annual membership but day passes are available at reasonable prices. Quail Botanical Gardens are located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information go to web site www.qbgardens.org, or call760-436-3236.

ESCONDIDO

What to See & Do

Legoland is a definite adventure where you can be a kid again.

Experience the more than 50 rides, shows and attractions with a special VIP Tour with a personal guide, front-of-the-line privileges, and special front-row seating at all shows. The price is $200 per hour in addition to admission.

Escondido Children's Museum

Escondido Children's Museum is where you can explore, experiment, and learn with an annual membership to the Escondido Children's Museum. Choose from a grandparent, family or patron membership starting at $25.

Wild Animal Park

Plan on a sleepover and spend the night listening to a pack of snoring rhinoceroses or wake up surrounded by sharks. These unique accommodations, available at many of the area attractions such as the Wild Animal Park, SeaWorld and the Birch Aquarium, provide overnight programs for visitors looking for a different way to experience these popular points of interest. Prices are from $50 up.

At the Cheetah Run Safari at the Wild Animal Park, journey to a rustic camp where you can witness the cheetah's explosive sprint reach up to 60 miles per hour, while chasing a mechanical rabbit lure. Price is $69, plus admission.

Or, at the Wild Animal park, take the Photo Caravan Safari. This is an intimate adventure inside the park's field habitats in open-air trucks. Close-up photography opportunities are the norm when Indian rhinocerros lumber alongside vehicles and giraffes peer into the camera lens from inches away. Price is $90-$130, plus admission.

EUREKA

Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center

The new Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, an elegant and spacious boathouse on the waterfront in Eureka, opened to the publicSeptember 2007. The two-story complex, which also houses the Humboldt State University crew team boats and hosts small business conventions, rents out kayaks and boats, offering parents a chance to share an easygoing water adventure with the kids. Family flotillas that launch from the boathouse, located in Old Town near the Carson Mansion, can expect smooth sailing as they explore the waters along the historic waterfront, long stretches of natural bayfront, and nearby Woodley Island where seals, seabirds and boaters often rendezvous and relax.

For more information contact Richard Stenger, Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 707-444-6634, E-mail richard@redwoods.info, or web site www.redwoods.info.

FORT BRAGG

Living Light Inn Equals Living Eco-friendly

The Living Light Inn, eco-friendly lodging for the conscious traveler on the Mendocino Coast, conveniently located in the nicest neighborhood in historic Fort Bragg, opened this fall. The beautiful Living Light Inn (formerly The Colonial Inn) combines craftsman style architecture with modern amenities designed for the conscious traveler – organic bedding, a whole-house water filtration system; nontoxic, biodegradable and nonallergenic cleaning products; low-impact waste practices; and all-organic beverages. The inn has been refurnished and caters to the needs of conscious travelers interested in quality eco-friendly lodging, as well as students of the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute.

For more information contact Dan Ladermann, Living Light Inn, (707) 964-2420, ext. 31, www.livinglightinn.com.

FRESNO COUNTY

Culture and Heritage in Downtown Fresno

Visitors to Fresno County can now find three electronic brochures that highlight tours of Downtown Fresno’s greatest cultural and heritage treasures: Courthouse Park, the Fulton Mall and Ethnic Sacred Places, are now available to visitors on the Fresno County Office of Tourism web site. The Courthouse Park Walking Tour guides visitors down the shaded walks of this historic park that was created in 1874. The park is filled with landmarks and memorials paying tribute to the individuals and events that shaped Fresno County. On the Fulton Mall Walking Tour, visitors learn the story behind the amazing art and architecture that makes the mall so unique. Ethnic Sacred Places allows visitors to learn more about the heritage of five houses of worship located in Downtown Fresno. These Sacred Places range from Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church built in 1914, to the most recent Tam Bao Tu Temple completed in 1995. All of these downtown landmarks represent the culture and heritage of the Fresno region.

For more information contact Kristi Johnson, Fresno County Office of Tourism, (559) 262-4271, kgjohnson@co.fresno.ca.us, www.gofresnocounty.com.

GUERNEVILLE

Creekside Inn & Resort Opens Nature’s Cottages

The Creekside Inn and Resort in Guerneville, known as a family-friendly nature venue in the Russian River resort area of Sonoma County, has opened 12 new eco-friendly Nature’s Cottages. The cottages are located high in the redwood trees with views of the creek or pool yard. Double-panel, Low E brand windows and solar energy are just some of the eco-friendly details. Furnished to fit the environment with generously sized cedar log furniture, the cottages are light and airy with private decks and full kitchens. The new Nature’s Cottages add 12 rooms to the existing six inn rooms and 10 cottages.

The beauty of the area and the importance of sustaining it for future generations were the inspiration for the ecologically sustainable green practices considered throughout construction. Throughout the resort, only nontoxic cleaning and gardening products, renewable energy, and reusable and recyclable guest amenities are used. The resort also practices water conservation.

For more information contact The Creekside Inn and Resort, (707) 869-3623, (800) 776-6586, www.creeksideinn.com.

HERALDSBURG

What to See & Do

Moshin Vineyards is Off the Grid in Healdsburg

now uses its solar electricity generating system at the winery in Healdsburg. The system generates 48 kilowatts of electricity that allows the winery to be “off the grid” with the exception of a few peak production months. Energy efficiency has always been a high priority at Moshin Vineyards. The winery uses a four-tier gravity flow system for moving wine without the use of a pump, ultimately reducing the winery’s demand for energy. Also, the winery has in-house nitrogen production, which allows for fewer deliveries of heavy nitrogen tanks and also outputs oxygen (the by-product of nitrogen production). Tours of the gravity-flow winery are available by appointment.

For details contact Amber Moshshin, Moshshin Vineyards, (707) 433-5499,
amber@moshshinvineyards.com, www.moshshinvineyards.com.

Michel-Schlumberger Winery Green Tour

Michel-Schlumberger Winery in Healdsburg is now offering a “Green” Tour and Hillside Tasting program. The eco-friendly Estate tour teaches visitors about the winery’s organic garden, abundant wildlife, Wine Creek restoration project, sustainable winegrowing and more. Guests are guided to the top of Benchland Vineyards for a hillside tasting of award-winning Estate wines including the Deux Terres Cabernet. Panoramic views of Dry Creek Valley and the vineyard that produced the reserve’s grapes complement the tasting lesson. Tours are offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The cost is $25 per person.

For more information contact Michel-Schlumberger, (707) 433-7427 or (800) 447-3060, or go to web site www.michelschlumberger.com.

Where to Stay

Honor Mansion Completes Renovation

The Honor Mansion in Healdsburg completed a $1.2 million renovation project that includes a host of new amenities including: a six-hole regulation PGA putting green, basketball court, quarter-mile jogging track, Har-Tru tennis courts, competition-style bocce courts, competition-size croquet lawn, six fountains and multiple seating areas, two outdoor spa pavilions, herb garden used in gourmet food preparation and a classical garden with more than 100 types of roses and other flowers. Part of Unique Inns (www.uniqueinns.com), the 4-Diamond Honor Mansion also features 13 individually-decorated guestrooms and suites.

For more information contact Honor Mansion, 707-433-4277 or 800-554-4667, E-mail innkeeper@honormansion.com or web site www.honormansion.com.

HOLLYWOOD

What to See & Do

Marilyn: The Exhibit Returns to The Hollywood Museum Through August

August marks the 52nd anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's passing and her legendary image still lives on as a superstar and an ultimate icon of glamour and beauty. Marilyn: The Exhibit returns to the Hollywood Museum showcasing an intimate look at the fabled actress' life and legacy with an exclusive exhibit of authentic memorabilia. The annual retrospective spans Marilyn Monroe's early life as Norma Jeane to Hollywood megastar "Marilyn," showcasing her gorgeous gowns, personal wardrobe, jewelry, 1961 Fleetwood Cadillac limousine given as a gift from Darryl Zanuck, photograph collections, documents from her private files and many of Marilyn's personal artifacts.

The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building is located at 1660 N. Highland Ave. in the heart of Hollywood.

"Year after year fans never fail to honor Marilyn's life and memory," says Museum President and Founder Donelle Dadigan. "The Hollywood Museum is pleased to host this annual Marilyn retrospective in memoriam. This museum is considered the perfect home for this exhibit since it was here that Max Factor originally designed Marilyn's on-screen hair and coloring, transforming her into the sexy blonde we know and love," says Dadigan. "When you walk into the 'FOR BLONDES ONLY ROOM,' you feel Marilyn Monroe's presence."

Marilyn: The Exhibit houses the one and only million-dollar dress worn by Marilyn on her honeymoon with baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio. The dress was made famous when Marilyn went on a USO tour to entertain 10,000 troops in Korea. The exhibition also showcases items including Marilyn's pink Pucci top made of striking hot pink silk jersey, Springolator high heels, jewelry, an early cocktail dress she bought at the start of her career, a Playboy spread and bustier, as well as the Decadron vial found at Marilyn's bedside at the time of her death.

The exhibit also features exclusive photographs taken by famed photographers Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland.

The Hollywood Museum spotlights Hollywood legends with the most extensive collection of authentic memorabilia in the world including costumes, star cars, props, posters, photographs and memorabilia spanning over 100 years of Hollywood history. The museum features four floors of exhibits and is the home of more than 10,000 items, one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts and vintage collectibles from favorite movies and TV shows. In addition to Marilyn Monroe's spotlight, the museum includes costumes from Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Harlow, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and more; props from Gone With The Wind, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars and Jaws; and a star car collection including Marilyn Monroe's limousine. The Walk of Fame Exhibit is part of The Hollywood Museum's permanent collection.

Located in the heart of Hollywood near the corner of Hollywood & Highland, The Hollywood Museum is in the Historic Max Factor Building, home to Max Factor's world-famous makeup rooms where Marilyn Monroe received her famous blonde locks and Lucille Ball first donned her famous red hair. The Dungeon of Doom includes the authentic Hannibal Lecter's jail cell from The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and visitors can also see Boris Karloff's mummy, Vampira, Frankenstein and his bride, Elvira-Mistress of the Dark, Jason, Freddie, Chucky and other cult horror film favorites.The Hollywood Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

For more information contact the Hollywood Museum at 1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd), Hollywood, CA 90028 (323) 464-7776
Website: www.thehollywoodmuseum.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheHollywoodMuseum
Twitter: twitter.com/HollywoodMuseum
Instagram: instagram.com/hollywoodmuseum
Open to the public Wednesday - Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Private tours available by advance reservation.

“Creature from the Black Lagoon—A Raging Rockin’ Show” Comes to Universal Studios Hollywood

Drawn from Universal’s crypt of classic monsters and updated with spectacular Broadway production values and special effects, “Creature from the Black Lagoon—A Raging Rockin’ Show” is now on stage at Universal Studios Hollywood. The musical is staged as an attraction within the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. Admission will be included in the price of theme park tickets and annual passes.
For details contact Universal Studios Hollywood, 1-800-UNIVERSAL, www.universalstudioshshollywood.com.

HOMEWOOD

Homewood Mountain Resort offers Early 2014-15 Ski Season Passes

There is something special about Homewood Mountain Resort. Partly it’s the location of the ski resort – just steps from Lake Tahoe’s west shore – and the views that come with that proximity. Partly it’s the resort’s commitment to impeccable grooming and unique events. But any list of what makes Homewood special would be incomplete without including the laid-back family-friendly West Shore vibe that permeates the culture at the resort.

With the release of 2014-15 early-season pass pricing, Homewood is once again committed to offering Tahoe’s best value to its season pass holders. All 2014-15 Homewood season passes offer unlimited skiing and snowboarding, with no blackout dates whatsoever, making it easy to get the full value out of a season pass in just one ski holiday. In addition, Homewood pass holders will enjoy four complimentary ski days at Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village as well as five complimentary days at Whitefish and unlimited days at Red Lodge Mountain, both in Montana. Homewood pass holders will also receive summer discounts at Incline Village golf courses, and discounts on summer bicycle, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals at Homewood.

Homewood’s signature Family Pass starts at $949 through September 30, 2014, and includes two adult passes and two teen or child passes with no blackout dates all season long. And families with a true ski/snowboard legacy can take advantage of the Heritage 3 Generations Pass, which adds two grandparents to the family pass deal for just $1,259 total.

And all early-bird pass purchasers can take advantage of Homewood’s season pass down payment plan: Put $49 down now ($99 on Family and 3 Generations passes) and pay the balance on Oct. 1, 2014. Down payment plan can only be purchased online.
2014-15 Homewood season pass prices (valid through September 30, 2014):

· Adult (19-61): $419
o Local/Returning Adult (19-61): $369
· Teen (13-18): $339
o Local/Returning Teen (13-18): $289
· Child (5-12): $169
o Local/Returning Child (5-12): $139
· Senior (62-69): $249
o Local/Returning Seniors (62-69): $209
· Super Senior (70+): $239
o Local/Returning Super Senior (70+): $199
· Family Pass (2 adult, 2 teen/child): $949
o Local/Returning Family: $949
· Heritage 3 Generations Pass (2 adult, 2 teen/child, 2 senior/super-senior): $1,259
o Local/Returning Heritage 3 Generations: $1,259
· Season Pass down payment plan (all individual passes): $49
o Family & 3 Generations Pass down payment: $99

For full details on all of Homewood’s season pass options, visit SkiHomewood.com/Season Passes or call (530) 525-2992.

Homewood Teams offer affordable season-long children’s ski programs
Further bolstering Homewood’s commitment to skiing families, Homewood’s 2014-15 ski team programs will offer 43 days of training with some of the Tahoe area’s very best coaches. Homewood’s Development Team, starting at $1,219, will promote a safe and fun learning environment where participants improve their technical skiing skills while establishing responsible habits and building lifelong friendships. Kids in the program will ski with the same coaches all season, and will be exposed to many different types of terrain and introduced to racing. Homewood’s Developmental & Race Team, starting at $1,599, will feature an increased focus on gate training and racing technique and will include full coaching support for all local races. All Homewood Teams programs include an unrestricted season pass, and early-season pricing is available through September 30, 2014. Full details on Homewood’s teams programs can be found online at SkiHomewood.com/Teams.

About Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood Mountain Resort, founded in 1961, is one of California’s first winter recreation resorts. Winner of the 2013 National Ski Areas Association Golden Eagle award and the 2013 California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for environmental stewardship, Homewood continues to offer premier winter skiing and snowboarding with a focus on guest service and unique vacation packages. Homewood is accessible via Interstate 80 to California State Route 89, just 55 miles from Reno Tahoe International Airport. The resort’s parent company is San Francisco-based JMA Ventures, LLC. JMA is a full service real estate investment firm, serving as managing member of over $500 million in existing projects. See www.SkiHomewood.com for more information.

HUNTINGTON

What to See & Do

HUNTINGTON BEACH PUBLISHES NEW DINING GUIDEBOOK

Free 68-page Booklet Enhances Surf City Culinary Experience

Insider scoops on favorite diners and restaurants come from Huntington Beach locals in the “Meet the Locals” section, and from Surf City chefs (who even share some of their favorite recipes) in “Compliments of the Chefs.” Readers will get “Grab and Go” ideas for the perfect picnic, and find inspiration on - “Setting the Scene” for an Old School, Surfside, Cool & Contemporary, or Romantic experience.

With multiple new and trendy restaurants arriving on the dining landscape, Huntington Beach is on the fast track to dining acclaim. From high-end steak, seafood and martinis, to hidden gems popular for their burritos or sandwiches, Surf City dining satisfies discerning “foodie” palates.

The first ever Huntington Beach Dining Guide, including a list of over 275 Surf City USA restaurants, is available at the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitor Bureau office, the HB Visitor Information Center (located at the base of the Huntington Beach Pier), and at various restaurants and hotels throughout the city.  An online searchable page-turning version is also available at www.surfcityusa.com.

About the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau

The Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization of Huntington Beach, Surf City USA®. One of Southern California’s premier coastal destinations, Huntington Beach is the ideal location for a California family vacation, or relaxing weekend getaway.

With 10 miles of wide-open white sand California beaches, Huntington Beach is a destination of choice for vacationers and business travelers alike. To plan your Surf City USA® vacation, or to learn more about Huntington Beach, visit the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau website at www.SurfCityUSA.com or call 800-729-6232 for a free Visitors Guide.

Chinese Gardens Bloom at Huntington Library

Part of a new, $18-million, a 12-acre Chinese garden is now open at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Liu Fang Yuan, or Garden of Flowing Fragrance, will be one of the largest classical gardens outside of China and one of the largest of the Huntington’s world-renowned gardens. The enchanting landscape will include stone bridges, pavilions, a lake and plants native to China. While at the Huntington, be sure to view the masterpiece paintings and rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible.

For more information contact Lisa Blackburn, (626) 405-2140, lblackburn@huntington.org, www.huntington.org

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens  

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at www.huntington.org.

Visitor information
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Admission on weekdays: $20 adults, $15 seniors (65+), $12 students (ages 12ˆ18 or with full-time student I.D.), $8 youth (ages 5ˆ11), free for children under 5. Group rate, $11 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission on weekends: $23 adults, $18 seniors, $13 students, $8 youth, free for children under 5. Group rate, $14 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month with advance tickets. Information: 626-405-2100 or www.huntington.org.

Contemporary art in the Huntington mansion, the history of California wildflowers, and early American needlework highlight a lively year ahead   

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced today its slate of special exhibitions for the coming year. The previously announced pair of Civil War exhibitions presented this fall will be followed by seven new shows on topics ranging from contemporary art to early American needlework, from California wildflowers to 18th-century extra-illustrated books.

INDIAN WELLS

more soon

IRVINE

About Irvine…

Irvine is conveniently located in the heart of Orange County, California. Our central location is served by commercial and private aircraft at John Wayne, Orange County Airport which borders the city. Long Beach Airport and Los Angeles International Airport are also nearby and are easily reached via two interstate freeways, the 5 and the 405 which intersect in Irvine. These two highways also make it easy to reach Irvine from anywhere in southern California. The Irvine Transportation Center is another convenient option, which serves passengers arriving and departing via the Amtrak or Metrolink Rail Lines. Once in Irvine, getting around is easy due to the city's master planned street system that minimizes congestion. Irvine is home to 13 hotels which have rates to suit most budgets. When you stay in Irvine you'll want to enjoy all of the area's attractions like Orange County's famous beaches, theme parks and other destinations, all just minutes away.

LAGUNA

Where to Eat

The Ciff Restaurant & Bar

Dine right next to the beach with gorgeous 180 degree views of the water from the multi-level patio while enjoying a relaxing breakfast or lunch, or watch the sunset during dinner. Oceanfront, open-air dining and cocktails are available daily in the restaurant and bar, located in quaint Laguna Village which has a huge artist population. The choices of what to order are vast, ranging from chicken breast with apricot orange glaze, chicken marsala, roasted chicken breast & Champagne cream, to Maine lobster Tail, Salt and Pepper Sea Scallops, Roast Sirloin of Beef with Cognac Pepper Sauce and lots more.

Located at 577 South Coast Highway; 949-494-1956. For details check web site www.thecliffrestaurant.com

Restaurants Galore

There are numerous cafes, chains like Sundried Tomato, etc. Just stop and ask a native which is his/her favorite.

Where to Stay

more soon

What to See & Do

What is there to see & do at Laguna Beach? Plenty!!!! As follows . . .

1. With seven miles of coastline, Laguna Beach is home to more than 20 coves and beaches (all with public access), so come play in the water, build sandcastles or explore the pristine tidepools. This is a protected marine preserve, so no motorized boats are allowed in or out of Laguna's waters, which keeps the tidepools fresh and teeming with sealife you can observe at low tide.

2. Eco-Tours abound from observing dolphins and whales up close, sea kayaking above the colorful garibaldi, or taking a wildlife & beach tour to check out sea lions, seals and tidepool life. There is also a docent-led tour of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, the only marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center of its kind in Orange County, Calif.

3. Laguna Beach became a popular tourist destination in the late 1800s. Today, visitors can catch a glimpse of Laguna's past by strolling the downtown and stopping at local landmarks, many dating back to the early 20th century. Laguna was a rich artists' colony and a seaside retreat many Hollywood stars called home.

4. Twenty-thousand acres of wilderness attract hikers, bikers, bird watchers, backpackers and Plein Air painters, all of whom find beauty in the area’s hills, cliffs and marine sanctuaries. Hiking, biking and equestrian trails are located throughout the protected reserves.

5. Browse more than 100 art galleries and 72 pieces of public art. Pick up a self-guided tour map of the artworks at the Laguna Beach Visitors Center. The map delineates where public sculptures, art in public places and artist-designed benches are located throughout town, many of which were created by local artists. You can also tour working artists' studios in Laguna Canyon.

6. Be an artist for a day! Sign up for a Sawdust Studio Art Class where you'll create a unique art piece to wear or to share, in just one session. Offered every Friday and Saturday at 10am and 2pm, each two-hour workshop is led by a professional artist. Choose from jewelry, ceramics, pottery or fused glass. Or try an "Art of Tidepooling and Watercolor Journaling" class guided by an art instructor, where you'll explore tidepools and craft your own watercolor journal of the tiny creatures you observed.

7. Each summer, our renowned art festivals take place: Art-A-Fair, Festival of Arts and Sawdust Art Festival. Meet local artists, take in artist demonstrations and classes, and purchase unique works of art. The world-famous Pageant of the Masters uses volunteers, costumes and elaborate sets to create living pictures, and magically transforms cast members into famous works of art.

8. Laguna Beach is the perfect destination for your next family vacation. Build sandcastles on our wide stretches of beach; hunt for hermit crabs, limpets and sea anemones at low tide in our tidepools; boogie board or take a surf lesson; or stop in at the Nix Nature Center in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park for a weekend hands-on nature activity, then head out to explore the main easy hiking trails. You'll find burgers and fries, pizza, sandwiches and gelato all in walking distance from downtown's Main Beach.

9. Discover our walkable downtown village. Eclectic fashion boutiques, gourmet kitchen and home furnishing stores, art galleries and jewelry shops offer unique one-of-a-kind finds and gifts.

10. Take a cooking class at Laguna Culinary Arts. Located in Laguna Canyon, Home Chef Classes are held in the evenings; there's a weekend program of half- and full-day classes exploring specific techniques and culinary styles; and a three-day, mid-week class for beginners. It also features a gourmet Cheese and Wine Shop/Cafe and Tasting Room offering 350 different wine labels and 90 different cheeses from around the world, as well as olives, charcuterie, imported oils & vinegars, breads & crackers, cookbooks and cooking accessories.

Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts

This non-profit organization's mission is to promote, produce and sponsor events and activities that encourage the appreciation, study and performance of the arts. Throughout each year the Festival of Arts sponsors art education and provides art scholarships and grants. And, every summer it hosts California's premier oipen-air fine arts show and produces its most famous attraction, the Pageant of the Masters.

The Pageant of the Masters is the Festival of Arts; crowning jewel and one of the most unique productions in the entire world. Each evening, during the summer festival, attendees are amazed, as I was, by 90 minutes of living pictures, incredibly faithful recreations of classical and contemporary works of art, with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, incredible lighting, expert staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition for the Pageant of the Masters as the best presentation of its kind.

Ticket holders for the Pageant of the Masters can present their stub at the Festival of Arts front gate for free admission to the art show all summer long. For information call 949-494-1145 or visit web site www.LagunaFestivalofArts.org.

Location: 650 Laguna Canyon Roadf, Laguna Beach, California.

Create Your Own Art at Sawdust Studio

I was tempted to buy every piece of jewelry while watching it being made at Sawdust Studio. Here, in just two hours, students can create their own beautiful necklace, bracelet and more. Classes are available year-round Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. & 2 p.m., the classes are small so individual attention is given, and it's taught by professional artists.

For details and a class schedule check web site www.SawdustStudioArtClasses.com.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

For over 40 years, volunteers and staff at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center have given thousands of marine mammals a second chance at life by successfully rehabilitating and returning those now healthy and thriving back to their ocean home.

Here, visitors are allowed to see those mammals in healing tanks/pools and, for some, it's the first time they've ever seen a seal, sea lion or a Northern elephant seal. Depending on how many mammals are here at the time, it's worth a stop.

Location: 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach 92651; 949-494-3050; web site www.pacificmmc.org.

Hike & Bike

Laguna's coastal wilderness parks are perfect for mountain biking, hiking and backpacking. Or, try the coves of North Laguna that are exciting for underwater exploration, snorkeling, scuba diving or skin diving.

Check Out the Marine Reserve or Surf or Paddle

Motor boats aren't allowed so the ocean stays clean and is perfect for booking a sport-fishing charger or jet-ski excursion. Or, if you've always wanted to learn how to surf or go paddle boarding, rent a kayak or a catamaran, you might strike it rich and spot a whale!

Art-A-Fair Festival

For decades, this has been one of Southern California's most popular art attractions where you can view art created by over 100 renowned artists and master craftspeople from around the world as well as local artists.

Open mid-June to the end of August located between the Festival of Arts and Sawdust Festival. 777 Laguna Canyon Road; 949-494-4514.

Sawdust Art Festival

One of the country's top five festivals, it features over 200 talented Laguna Beach artisans. Open June 24-August 28.

935 Laguna Canyon Road; 949-494-3030. Web site www.sawdustartfestival.org.

First Thursdays Art Walk

Spend a great, cultural evening on the first Thursday of every month from 6-9 p.m. year-round. It's free and shuttle bus service is available from 6:15-8:45 p.m. to gallery locations. Over 40 galleries particpate offering artist receptions, demonstrations and live music.

www.firstthursdayartwalk.com; 949-683-6871.

Laguna Art Musuem

This American art museum's focus is on the art of California and promotes an undrstanding of art and artists in American culture through collection, exhibition, research and instruction.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. Admission is $12 for adults, and $10 for seniors and students; children under 12 and members are free. Located at 307 Cliff Dr. at North Coast Hwy; 949-494-8971. Web site www.lagunaartmuseum.org

For more information go to web site www.lagunabeachinfo.com/visitors

Want more things to see and do at Laguna Beach? Here are more suggestions,for little or no cost, compliments of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau:

1.     Take a Hike through Heisler Park – Located just north of Main Beach, Heisler Park offers spectacular views of the Laguna Beach coastline. Take a half-mile stroll along the paved path or enjoy a picnic on the grass or barbeque with friends.  Heisler Park is a must see for all!

 

2.     Take a Self-guided Public Art Tour – The City of Laguna Beach has more than 65 unique works of public art. These pieces were designed and created specifically for Laguna Beach and contribute to the life of the city. Explore the many murals, statues, benches and other pieces as you stroll through town. Maps can be picked up at the Visitors Center.

 

3.     Ride a Local Bus or an open air Summer Trolley and Explore the Town – During the summer months, the City of Laguna Beach provides free trolley and bus service throughout the town. In other months you can ride the local bus for just 75 cents. Hop on one of the three routes in Laguna Beach and catch a glimpse of much of the Laguna Beach lifestyle.

 

4.     Monthly Art Walk – Established in 1998, 1st Thursday’s Art Walk is a festive, cultural evening on the first Thursday of every month. The event is free and runs from 6:00-9:00pm. Free trolley service runs throughout the evening until 8:45 p.m. linking member gallery locations. Over 40 galleries participate, offering artist receptions, demonstrations, refreshments and live music. www.firstthursdaysartwalk.com

 

5.     Explore the Tidepools –Explore the amazing marine life hidden just below the waves.  Laguna Beach boasts impressive tidepooling opportunities, giving you an up-close look at marine life.  Drop in to the Visitors Center to view an Emmy-Award winning DVD on the tidepools of Laguna Beach.

 

6.     Wine Tasting in the Canyon – The Laguna Canyon Winery offers award-winning wines that have been specially handcrafted on-site.  Premium grapes are selected from small, low-yield vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, ensuring taste, quality and flavor. Tasting hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm. Tasting fees are waived with purchase. 2133 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 715-9463 www.lagunacanyonwinery.com

 

7.     Skimboard one of Laguna’s Coves - Skimboarding began in Laguna Beach during the early1920’s when Laguna Beach lifeguards used to skimboard on flat pieces of wood. Since then, the sport has only gotten bigger and bolder. Head to Victoria Beach to see where it all began. Equipment rentals are available from several surf retailers around town.

 

8.     Explore California’s Oldest Museum - The Laguna Art Museum focuses on the cultural heritage of California and the unique history of Laguna Beach. It is dedicated to promoting an understanding of art and artists in American culture through collection, exhibition, research and instruction. Open daily. Admission: $12 and open daily 11:00 am-5:00 pm. 307 Cliff Drive. (949) 494-8971 www.lagunaartmuseum.org

 

9.     International Art Show – Featuring over 125 international juried artists and master craftsmen, Art-A-Fair is a must for art lovers.  Art-A-Fair offers visitors a chance to browse through booths of original watercolors, oils, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass and more.  Meet the artists, get hands on demos and enjoy fine dining.  Open July through Labor Day.  777 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-4514 www.art-a-fair.com

 

10.  One-of-a-Kind Shops and Galleries – Laguna Beach is home to over 100 galleries and one-of-a-kind shops. The artists’ village offers the complete spectrum of fine art in a casual walking environment. Whether you’re in the mood to shop for home furnishings, jewelry, surf wear, gifts or just window shop.  There are many options including ready-to-wear art and unique designer accessories.

 

11.  Artists’ Open Studios – Visit over 20 professional artists in private working studios on Laguna Canyon Road.  Free parking and Trolley service provided at the Laguna College of Art and Design.  The self-guided tour takes place every first Saturday in October through March from 11:00am-4:00pm. See these masters in their element as you explore their working studios, and get a sneak peek at works of art as they come alive at the hands of the artists. For an overview be sure to visit  www.lagunabeachcity.net

            

12.  Treasure Island Park – Located on the grounds of the Montage Laguna Beach, this park overlooks Laguna’s beautiful coast. Enjoy an art lesson on the cliffs, a picnic on the grass, or just stroll and enjoy the sun as you watch the waves below.

 

13.  The Festival of Arts – This juried fine art show features original artwork by over 140 of California’s most accomplished artists. Find affordable and unique works of art, perfect for your home or business. Enjoy art workshops, tours, entertainment and a variety of special events for one low admission price. Open July and August.  650 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-1145 www.foapom.com

 

14.  Jazz Wednesdays – Enjoy an outdoor concert in the Hotel Laguna’s Rose Garden. Jazz concerts are held every other Wednesday from June to mid-September and feature world-class musicians.  425 South Coast Hwy. www.lagunabeachlive.org

 

15.  Laguna Craft Guild – From September to June, the Laguna Craft Guild sponsors bi-monthly Sunday shows in the downtown area on the Main Beach cobblestones.  This outdoor event features arts and crafts by local Laguna artists. www.lagunacraftguild.com

16.  Walk the Streets of Laguna on a Historic Bungalow Tour – Pick up a map from the Visitors Center and take a self-guided tour of Laguna’s historic homes. These bungalows and cottages date as far back as 1884 and contribute to Laguna Beach’s rich past and history.

17.  Hortense Miller Garden – Covering two and a half acres of the upper slopes of Boat Canyon, this beautiful garden demonstrates the range of plants which can be grown in Southern California’s coastal zones. Visit the garden and enjoy a tour from one of the volunteer docents. Reservations are required. (949) 497-0716 x3. www.hortensemillergarden.org

18.  Laughter Yoga – Everyday the Laughter Yoga Institute meets at the northernmost end of Main Beach and practices the art of laughter yoga. Participate in this joyful experience that uses the practice of laughter as a form of exercise. Free sessions are conducted by a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and are held Sunday-Friday at 8am, Saturday at 10am. (949) 376-1939. www.lyinstitute.org.

19.  Sawdust Art Festival – Selected “Best Art Festival” by OC Weekly Magazine, the Sawdust Art Festival features 200 local Laguna Beach artists. Browse paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photographs, sculptures, art glass and textiles native to the area. Demonstrations, workshops, entertainment and refreshments await you. The festival runs from the end of June thru August, with seasonal events held throughout the year.  935 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-3030 www.sawdustartfestival.org

20.  Fiori – Stop by this beautiful boutique, celebrating 20 years, for a look at some of the finest Italian and Greek Majolica. Their vast collection of hand-painted ceramics includes dinnerware, urns, clocks, decorative pieces and much more. Each piece is completely handmade and hand painted by the finest artisans using techniques handed down from the 15th century. 214 South Coast Highway. (949) 494-9954. www.italianceramics.com

21.  Whaling Wall – Marine life artist Wyland has created close to 100 Whaling Walls, large outdoor murals of whales and other sea life, throughout the world.  Visit his Whaling Wall and find his exciting gallery at 509 S. Coast Hwy. www.wyland.com

22.  Enjoy Free Chamber Music on the first Sunday of each month, October- May. Concerts are free and take place at Laguna College of Art + Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road from 4:00-4:30pm. www.lagunabeachlive.org

23.  Browse North Gallery Row – Within just a short walking distance from town, North Gallery row exhibits several fine and contemporary arts galleries. Heisler Park provides a picturesque backdrop while you browse.

24.  Hotel Laguna – Originally a wooden structure built in 1888, Hotel Laguna was reconstructed in 1930 in its current Mission Revival style. The hotel has an attractive rose garden with a gazebo. Walk through the lobby and view historical photographs or enjoy a beverage at Claes Ovation or Ocean View Bar & Grille. 425 South Coast Hwy. (949) 494-1151 www.hotellaguna.com

25.  Art at City Hall – Coordinated by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission, this free exhibition showcases art by local artists.  On exhibit Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Exhibitions rotate several times throughout the year.  City Hall is located at 505 Forest Ave.

26.  Kristalle – Located in a landmark Laguna cottage, Kristalle is considered the finest gallery of its kind in the world.  Thousands of specimens are on display, including fine minerals and gold.  Stop by and view some of these amazing gems. 875 North Coast Hwy. (949) 494-7695. www.kristalle.com

27.  Enjoy Live Music at one of our Unique Restaurants – Many of Laguna Beach’s restaurants offer live music in the evenings. Stop by the White House, Brussels Bistro, K’ya Bistro Bar, or French 75 for some great food and good music.

28.  Sculpture Garden – Visit the stunning sculpture garden at the Dawson Cole Fine Art Gallery.  View fine 21st century figurative sculptures by Richard MacDonald, as well as other works inside their gallery by artists such as Matisse, Chuck Close and Picasso. 326 Glenneyre St. (949) 497-4988. www.dawsoncolefineart.co 

29.  Need Visitor Information? - The Laguna Beach Visitors Center offers complimentary collateral on the Laguna Beach area, as well as surrounding areas, information on accommodations, dining, art events, city maps, bus schedules and outdoor activities in Laguna Beach.  The Visitors Center is open daily from 10:00am-5:00pm. 361 Forest Avenue (949) 497-9229. www.lagunabeachinfo.com

30.  Explore the “Museum of the First People” Len Wood’s Indian Territory Gallery features an extensive collection of antique American Indian art including 19th and 20th century Navajo blankets and rugs. There is pre-1930 Indian basketry from 75 tribes of the Western U.S., Pueblo pottery, Hopi Kachinas, Zuni Fetishes and Navajo and Pueblo “Old Pawn” and modern jewelry.  Open Tues-Sat, 10am-5pm. 305 North Coast Hwy. (949) 497-5747 www.indianterritory.com

31.  Visit the 2nd Smallest Church in the World – St. Francis by the Sea was once acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest church in the world. It is now the second smallest Catholic Church in the World. This 42-seat cathedral was built in 1933. 430 Park Ave.

32.  Sunset Serenades – Enjoy a free concert at Main Beach Park every Friday during the month of May. Listen to some great tunes as you watch the sun set over the Pacific. 

33.  Swim in our Marine Protected Waters – Laguna Beach’s seven miles of pristine coastline is a designated Marine Protected Area. Take a swim in our clean waters, observe the abundant sea life and enjoy this natural beauty for yourself.

34.  Local Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday morning, local farmers and purveyors set up shop downtown and sell their fresh goods. Purchase everything from locally grown vegetables, delicious fruits, beautiful flowers, freshly baked bread and much more.  Located at the Lumberyard Parking Lot near City Hall. Saturdays from 8am-12noon. www.cafarmersmarkets.com

35.  Play Volleyball & Basketball at Main Beach – Main Beach Park is located in the heart of downtown. Two half-court basketball courts and sand volleyball courts are available to the public. Put on some sunscreen and enjoy a pickup game!

36.  Explore Sea Life in Diver’s Cove –Located next to Picnic Beach, just North of Main Beach, Diver’s Cove is a great spot for scuba diving. Rent a snorkel, mask and fins or bring your own and jump in to see the creatures below.

37.  View a Sunset from Crescent Bay – Laguna’s northern-most stop, Crescent Bay is located where Cliff Drive and Viejo converge off North Coast Highway. Enjoy a day of skin diving, skimboarding, body surfing and tidepooling then relax as you watch the sunset over the blue waters.

38.  Check out Seal Rock – Located about 120 yards off the shore of Crescent Bay sits Seal Rock, named after the seals and sea lions that often congregate there. Check out the barking seals from the shore or kayak out for a closer look.

39.  MTV’s Laguna Beach – ‘The Real OC’ – Laguna Beach came into the spotlight when MTV produced the reality show based on our City. Check out the high school, restaurants, beaches and stores that LC, Kristen and Stephen once frequented. Stop by the Visitors Center for a handout on the featured places.

40.  Take a Photo with Laguna’s Own Greeter – Eiler Larsen was the Official Greeter of Laguna Beach. Many locals still recall their first time meeting this great man who did so much for the City of Laguna Beach. Today two statues of him can be found in town. One at 329 S. Coast Hwy and at 1200 S. Coast Hwy. Drop by and snap a photo with Eiler. If you’re a history buff, stop by the Visitors Center for information on Larsen.

41.  Take in Endless Views from Alta Laguna Park – Also known as Top of the World, this park is the perfect place to view Laguna Beach’s coastline. Set above the village area, Alta Laguna Park offers views of both the coast and the canyon. Enjoy a picnic or take a short hike 

42.  Explore the Outdoors of Laguna – In Laguna Beach access over 20,000 acres of wilderness. Hike or bike on your own or take a guided tour and enjoy Laguna Beach’s beautiful outdoors. Parking at the wilderness parks is $3 for the entire day. www.lagunacanyon.org

43.  Wine, Cheese & Interactive Art Affair – Pacific Edge Hotel partners with local caterers to offer selected wines and cheeses, and showcases Orange County's most talented chefs, while partnering with Laguna Outreach for the Community Arts (LOCA) to bring guests interactive art exhibits, where attendees can either watch the artist create the artwork, or actually participate in the creation of the art project. Admission is free and open to the public the first Tuesday of every month.

44.  Gather Around the Fire Pits at Aliso County Beach – The only beach that provides fire pits within Laguna, Aliso is a great spot for an evening bonfire. Bring your friends, something to throw on the grill and everyone’s favorite… s’mores, and enjoy a good time under the stars. 

45.  Nix Nature Center – Standing as the entryway to the 20,000-acre South Coast Regional Wilderness, Nix Nature Center is the headquarters of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and the center of five different trails.  Many activities are available including mountain biking, birding, fitness hikes, Junior Rangers and other children’s programs.  Open everyday 9am-4pm. (949) 923-2235.  Entrance is free, parking $3 per day.

46.  Barbara’s Lake – Located in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Barbara’s Lake is Orange County’s only natural lake.  Enjoy a scenic hike to Barbara’s Lake from the James Dilley Preserve or Nix Nature Center, located just north of the 73 Toll Road.

47.  Pacific Marine Mammal Center – The only marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center in Orange County, the nonprofit Pacific Marine Mammal Center specializes in rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals. Stop in to see the animals up close…you may even catch a feeding!  Free admission. Donations accepted. Open everyday from 10am-4pm. 20612 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-3050 www.pacificmmc.org

48.  Tower at Victoria Beach – A Laguna Beach landmark, this medieval-looking tower is located just north of Victoria Beach.  Built in 1926, it was designed as a private spiraling staircase for beach access from above.  Today the tower is closed but can still be viewed from the outside.

49.  Spring Fever Surfabout – The Spring Fever Surfabout is held over Memorial Day weekend at Thalia Street. This one-day surf contest is a great event for the whole family. Catch some sun as you watch surfers duke it out in the water

50.  Plein Air Painters Invitational – Each October, fifty of the best plein air painters in the country are invited to compete in the Plein Air Painting Invitational hosted by the Laguna Art Museum and the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Watch the creative process unfold in front of your eyes as you stroll along the bluffs or in the parks.  Later enjoy the opportunity to view or purchase works at the museum. www.lagunaartmuseum.or

51.  Watch a Professional Skimboard Contest – Held every summer at Aliso County Beach, the Victoria Skimboards World Championship of Skimboarding is the sport’s most prestigious event.  Watch the world’s best skimboarders catch big waves and pull tricks as they compete for the title.

52.  Thousand Steps Beach – Located between 9th and 10th streets on South Coast Highway, Thousand Steps Beach is an intimate cove featuring views of some of the area’s most magnificent private homes. It’s one of Laguna’s hot surf spots and is also known for sand volleyball. (Only 227 steps, it just ‘feels’ like a thousand steps!)

53.  Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy –  From mid-November to mid- December, the Sawdust Art Festival holds their annual Winter Fantasy festival. Check out this unique holiday event every weekend, featuring fine art and crafts from over one hundred exhibitors. Purchase unique holiday gifts for your loved ones. 935 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-3030 www.sawdustartfestival.org

54.  Reggae Night at Sandpiper – Thursday nights always bring out a crowd at the Sandpiper, or the Dirty Bird as locals call it. Here you will find people of all ages grooving to the beats of live reggae music. 1183 South Coast Highway. (949) 494-4694

55.  Drum Circle at Aliso Beach – If you’re lucky enough to be in Laguna Beach on a full moon, head down to Aliso Beach for a free community drum circle.  If you have a drum, great! If not, don’t worry.  Just bring yourself and enjoy the beats. Drumming from 7-10pm.  www.lavidalaguna.com/drumcircle 

56.  Coffee Cuppings – Stop by the Laguna Coffee Company on Saturdays for one of their Coffee Cupping Events. Similar to wine tasting (but with coffee!), these Coffee Cuppings allow customers to observe the coffee making process from start to finish. Learn about the differences in the coffee beans and how each blend is prepared. Participation is free. Enjoy a morning of jazz by The Swinging Quartet Laguna from 10:30am-12:30pm, followed by Open Mic. from 12:30-4:30 p.m. 1050 South Coast Highway. (949) 494-6901 www.lagunacoffeeco.co

57.  Bark Park – Let your dog off the leash to run free at Laguna Beach’s Dog Park. Over two acres of grassy area is tucked into the Laguna Canyon. Open every day (except Wednesdays) from dawn to dusk. 20672 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 910-9947 www.lbdogpark.org

58.  Sample Gourmet Cheeses and Delicious Wines – The Laguna Culinary Arts Gourmet Cheese & Wine Shop features a wide selection of cheese, delicacies, food-friendly wines and lunchtime fare.  Items from all over the world including oils and vinegars, breads, crackers and more. Come in for lunch or just a taste. Happy Hour: Monday-Thursday from 4-6:30pm. Friday Night Happy Hour starts at 5pm. Saturday Afternoon Wine Tasting is also available. 845 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-0745 www.lagunaculinaryarts.com

59.  Dolphin & Whale Spotting – Laguna Beach’s dolphin population exceeds that of Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean combined! If you happen to be in the right place at the right time and keep your eye on the ocean, you just might see a playful pod go by.

60.  Fete de la Musique – Enjoy this mid-June afternoon of free music throughout the downtown area, celebrating the sounds of the summer with Laguna Beach’s first Sister City, Menton, France.

61.  “Green” Your Trip! – For those individuals interested in resources, tips for travelers and sustainable practices, www.greenlagunabeach.com is a great resource for you. Find restaurants serving organic dishes, hotels that offer eco-friendly accommodations, green activities to enjoy during your stay and much more.

62.  Grab a Picnic Lunch – Pick up a fresh picnic lunch and enjoy it while you relax at one of Laguna’s 20 coves, beaches or parks. Try a delicious meal to-go or a tasty sandwich from a local deli.  There will be no need to dress up for this gourmet meal.

63.  Are you a History Buff? – Built in 1923, the Murphy-Smith Bungalow is one of the few original beach houses remaining in the downtown area of Laguna Beach. It is currently the home of the Laguna Beach Historical Society. Stop by to view a glimpse of Laguna’s past. Open Fri-Sun 1:00-4:00pm. 278 Ocean Blvd. (949) 939-7257 www.lagunahistory.org

64.  Snorkeling – Take a dip in Laguna’s beautiful waters and explore the sea life below. There are several great beaches for snorkeling, including Shaw’s Cove, Diver’s Cove and Treasure Island. Bring your own gear or rent from a local shop.

65.  Laguna Beach…A College Town – Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art + Design educates artists at all stages of their creative careers, offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Drawing and Painting, Graphic Design, Illustration, Game Art and Feature Animation, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting. 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. Drop in Mon-Fri, 9:00am-5:00pm; Sat 9:00am-4:00pm. www.lagunacollege.edu 

66.  Sea Lion Release – After rehabilitation at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, sea lions are released back into the Pacific Ocean. Watch as they are reunited with their natural environment. Contact the PMMC to find out when the next release will be held. (949) 494-3050 www.pacificmmc.org

67.  Visit Laguna’s Oldest House – This piece of Laguna history is located at 154 Pearl Street. The home was built in 1883 with wood floated in from boats, wood from shipwrecks, as well as driftwood.

68.  People-Watch at Main Beach – Laguna’s “Window to the Sea”, this beachfront park is located in the heart of downtown Laguna. There is always plenty to see and do here at Laguna’s most bustling scene.

69.  Bette Davis House – This English Tudor home, built in 1929, overlooks beautiful Wood’s Cove. See where Bette Davis lived during the early 40's. 1881 Ocean Way.

70.  Bird Watching – Laguna Beach is a bird sanctuary, home to several unique and endangered species. Learn more about how to spot them in their natural habitat by visiting the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 923-223 

71.  Lifeguard Tower – See a piece of Laguna’s surf lifesaving history. Located at Main Beach this was originally part of a gas station built across the street in 1929. When the station was demolished, the tower was moved to its present location and converted for lifeguard purposes. The current Lifeguard Headquarters is at the north end of Main Beach.

72.  Peppertree Lane – When passing through the arched brick entry of this Laguna Beach landmark, you can experience history in Laguna’s oldest shopping district. The shops enclosed offer fine dining, clothing, gifts, and much more. 448 South Coast Highway.

73.  Crystal Cove State Park – Immerse yourself in its three miles of coastline, wooded canyons, open bluffs, and offshore waters designed as an underwater park. Swim surf, scuba, fish, mountain bike, or hike – this park truly has something for everyone. Explore on your own, or take part in a public tour of the Historic District on the second Saturday of each month. www.crystalcovetstatepark.com

74.  Surf’s up! – Visit one of Laguna’s local surf shops. Costa Azul, Hobie, Laguna Surf & Sport, Second Reef, and Thalia Street Surf Shop offer all the expert equipment, advice, and local surf-style that will have you hanging-ten in no time.

75.  Jogger’s Paradise – Enjoy relaxing scenery, cool breezes, and wonderful look-outs to stop, stretch, and refuel. Laguna’s scattered hills, ramps to the sand, and beach stairs offer variety for those seeking a vigorous challenge.

76.  Walk with a Naturalist – Each Saturday a Naturalist from the Laguna Canyon Foundation meets at Willow Canyon to share Laguna’s unique flora, fauna, and natural habitat. Willow Canyon & Laguna Canyon Road intersection. 9:00 am departure. (949) 923-2235

77.  HIP District – This historic place is a thriving and exciting business district.  “HIP” for Historic Places and “HIP” because it is!  There are 26 art galleries, 17 restaurants, and several unique coffee shops, apparel stores, a bookstore, florists, a nursery and much more.  Pamper yourself with a day at one of the many spas or enjoy a day at the beach.

78.  Sweet tooth? – Get your fix and indulge yourself at Chocolate Soldier, La Rue du Chocolat, or Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. All stores feature local handmade chocolate and other specialty treats and gift items.

79.  Beverages on the Rooftop – Atop the historic Hotel La Casa del Camino, enjoy Laguna Beach’s only Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Wonderful for a meal or just a drink while enjoying a breathtaking sunset. All menu items are $10 or less. 1289 South Coast Hwy. (949) 497-2446 www.rooftoplagunabeach.com

80.  Make Your Own Bath Salts – Not only will you find one-of-a-kind bath products from around the world, you can also make your own bath salts and perfume. You decide which fragrance suits you best. 445 South Coast Highway. (949) 494-1417. www.bubblesoflaguna.com

81.  Experience a Taste of Italy Dolce Gelato creates delicious fresh Italian gelato handmade daily. Just one taste and you’ll imagine you are strolling through the sun-drenched, cobblestone streets in Europe.  Dolce Gelato: 247 Broadway. (949) 715-9249

82.  Late Night Happy Hour – At House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer, Avila’s El Ranchito, Rock’n Fish, Romeo Cucina, and Watermarc happy hour comes twice a day!  Call restaurant for time and days. 

83.  Kayaking – Kayak Southern California's most magnificent coastline and see Laguna Beach the way it was meant - from the Pacific, where nature performs daily. Explore hidden coves, rugged cliffs, reefs, beaches and playful sea lions. Take a guided tour or paddle out yourself.

84.  Pick up a Beach Read – Check out one of Laguna’s boutique book stores housing a wide variety of everything literary! Barnaby Rudge Booksellers or Laguna Beach Books are happy to help you find a perfect page-turner.

85.  Grazing Goats - Laguna’s own four-legged firefighters feast on native plants and effectively clear firebreaks, protecting homes and businesses. There are currently 600 on the force! Check in with the Laguna Beach Fire Department (non-emergency line) to obtain their current whereabouts for fantastic photo opportunities. (949) 407-0700

86.   Las Brisas Las Brisas has been a Southern California landmark since its inception in 1938 as the Victor Hugo Inn.  Centrally located and overlooking the Pacific, Las Brisas is the perfect stop for a spectacular coastline view.  361 Cliff Drive. (949) 497-5434

87.  Protect the Environment – Locals and visitors alike are invited to participate in First Saturday’s beach clean-ups. Volunteers gather to keep our beaches pristine. Get a “red army” T-shirt and your own trash “picker” from 10:00am-12:00noon.  www.Zerotrashlaguna.org

88.  Art Lovers Deal – Receive unlimited admission all summer long to three world-famous Laguna Beach art festivals: Festival of Arts, Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Art Festival, all for only $19! Each passport includes one-time free parking in the Act V parking lot on Laguna Canyon Road and free shuttle service. Buy your pass online: www.LagunaBeachPassport.com

89.  Shipwreck! – Two hundred yards offshore lies a shipwreck, the Foss 125 better known as “the Cleo Street Barge.”  This ship met its rocky resting place in 1958, and is now home to an abundance of underwater sea life. A perfect destination for experienced divers and snorkelers 

90.  Laguna Playhouse celebrates 90 years! Laguna’s oldest continually operating community theater offers an intimate atmosphere with five major theatrical productions a year as well as many community performing arts performances.  Visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com for Web site specials.  Discounts for hotel guests too.

91.  Go Veggie – Meat lovers and vegetarians alike can all agree on the delicious items from these restaurants and eateries. Nirvana Grille, The Stand and Goko Café all showcase gourmet meat-free cuisine to comply with any of your diet restrictions.

92.  Laguna Koi Ponds – Visit Laguna Koi Ponds to view the different bloodlines, body shape, luster, and color patterns. You can even pet the fish! See their fancy show quality Koi that sell for as much as $30,000! 20452 Laguna Canyon Road. (949) 494-5107 www.lagunakoi.com

93.  Late Night Loco Taco Loco, open until 2:00am on Friday and Saturday nights, is the perfect end to an evening of dancing and fun. Their affordable prices combined with fresh and eclectic Mexican cuisine are a winning combination. 640 South Coast Hwy. (949) 497-1635

94.  Karaoke - Bring out your inner rock star and come sing along to your favorite guilty pleasure. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, Hennessey’s Tavern offers Karaoke upstairs starting at 9 pm. Starting at 9:30 pm on Wednesday nights, sing a tune on a 120” HD Karaoke projector at Ocean Avenue Restaurant and Brewery. 

95.  Student Art Exhibition – View the Annual LCAD Summer Exhibition at Gallery 793 showcasing the exceptional works of both graduate and undergraduate students. Admission is free. 2222 Laguna Canyon Road.  For days and times visit www.lagunacollege.edu

96.  Fireworks! – The Laguna Beach Board of Realtors with support from Tommy Bahama’s presents 4th of July fireworks.  Viewing from most beaches and along Pacific Coast Hwy. 

97.  Beachfront Dance Class – In October of each year, CaDance offers a free, interactive dance class on Main Beach. Watch the waves while moving to the beat.  Details at www.lagunadancefestival.com

98.  Celebrate Heritage Month – May is Heritage Month, sponsored by the City of Laguna Beach and the Heritage Committee. This celebration features fun events, guided historic downtown walking tours, and several seminars on the unique history of our town. www.laguna-historical-society.smugmug.com

99.  Head South – South Laguna is a local’s favorite destination. Away from the hustle-and-bustle, this southernmost part of the city has a special vibe of its own. Relax in one of its parks, sunbathe in a serene cove, or stop for a margarita at a local hangout: Coyote Grill. Don’t forget your clubs - Aliso Creek Inn Golf Course has one of the most affordable rates in Orange County!

100. Build a Sandcastle Laguna’s beaches are family-friendly and feature wide stretches of sand,     perfect for building sandcastles. Buckets, shovels and all of your favorite beach supplies are available at several Laguna Beach shops.

101. Take in a Local Film - Laguna Beach Film Society offers a third Thursday’s film screening.  Tickets can be purchased by non-members at the South Coast Cinemas box office on Pacific Coast Hwy. on the evening of the event.  www.lagunabeachinfo.com 

LAKE TAHOE & SURROUNDING AREA

Resorts and Towns’ Update:

Resort at Squaw Creek --

was recently recognized in Condé Nast Traveler as one of the “Top 50 Ski Hotels” in North America, one of the “Top 150 Resorts: US Mainland,” and “Top 100 U.S. Resort Spas.”

For more information, call Resort at Squaw Creek at 800.401.9501, or visit www.visitsquawcreek.com.

About Resort at Squaw Creek Resort at Squaw Creek, a Destination Hotels & Resorts property, is situated at the base of Squaw Valley USA, home to the 1960 Winter Olympics. The mountainside North Lake Tahoe resort features 405 lavishly appointed residential-style guest rooms and suites; 33,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 14,750 square feet of outdoor space; an exclusive on-property chair lift accessing Squaw Valley USA’s world-class ski terrain; a recently renovated spa and full-service salon; a 25-meter heated pool and outdoor hot tubs; four distinct restaurants; exclusive boutique shopping; and Mountain Buddies, a fully-supervised children’s activity program. Resort at Squaw Creek is a perennial AAA Four-Diamond property, and is one of the “Top 50 Ski Resorts in North America,” as selected by Condé Nast Traveler.

The North Lake Tahoe Express daily airport shuttle service --

is available to and from North Lake Tahoe and the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The shuttle runs from 3:30 a.m. until midnight. Fees are $40 per person, one-way, and $75 round trip. Discounts are available for groups of two or more. Reservations are required and can be made four hours in advance.

North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, two hours from the Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from the San Francisco International Airport. For lodging reservations and event details, call North Lake Tahoe at 1-877-949-3286 or visit www.GoTahoeNorth.com. Visitor information centers are located at 380 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village.

Lake Tahoe Again Named No. 1 Winter Destination by Orbitz  

Surrounding North America's largest alpine lake, the seven resorts that make up Ski Lake Tahoe are Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort and Squaw Valley USA. Lake Tahoe boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year and the region has some of the highest annual snowfall totals in North America. The seven resorts, all offering unparalleled scenic vistas of panoramic mountain and lake views, are located less than an hour from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. For further information and to directly book travel, lodging and transportation for Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and its travel partners, visit www.skilaketahoe.com.

What to See & Do

North Lake Tahoe Recreation Update

The Only Snowcat Operation in the Tahoe Basin this Winter will be at
Homewood Mountain Resort

A new species of cat has recently been identified on the slopes of Lake Tahoe’s Homewood Mountain Resort – this one a Bombardier snowcat complete with a 12-person carrier, designed to ferry powderhounds and adventurous skiers and snowboarders to the top of Ellis Peak this winter.

Pending approval from the U.S. Forest Service, Homewood Snowcat Adventures will debut this winter on backcountry terrain on the flanks of Ellis Peak, above the resort’s traditional ski area boundary. Once transported to the summit, groups of up to 10 skiers and riders will enjoy guided access to a wide variety of terrain options – from perfectly-spaced tree runs to steeps, powder bowls and intermediate-level glades – all leading guests back to the in-bounds terrain at the resort.

“Backcountry skiers and our resort staff have long known that the terrain behind the resort off Ellis Peak offers truly amazing skiing and riding,” said Kevin Mitchell, general manager of Homewood Mountain Resort. “We are very excited to be able to offer our customers guided snowcat access to this new mountain playground during this upcoming winter.”

All-day packages with Homewood Snowcat Adventures will feature small group sizes (10 skiers/riders max) and a fully guided experience – with guides trained by the North American Ski Training Center – in the out-of-bounds terrain accessed by the snowcat.  Guests will enjoy laps from the 8,740-foot summit of Ellis Peak – where panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Desolation Wilderness await – to the bottom of the Old Homewood Express chairlift.

The new terrain accessed via the snowcat is in a portion of the Tahoe National Forest that has already been open to motorized vehicular use, and has long been used for both summer and winter recreation.

“Getting out into the backcountry has always been a rite of passage for powder-seeking Tahoe skiers and snowboarders,” Mitchell said. “We hope that our new guided snowcat operation will make that adventure more attainable for those who may not have the proper gear or training to explore the backcountry on their own.”
Homewood’s proposed snowcat operation will take place on both public and private lands. Part of the terrain falls within Homewood’s current property, and a portion falls on U.S. Forest Service-managed land above the resort boundaries.  Currently, the U.S. Forest service has accepted Homewood’s proposal for snowcat operations on the public lands in question, and the resort anticipates receiving a permit to operate on that property in time for the 2014-15 ski season.

Pricing and more information
In anticipation of approved permitting, reservations are currently being accepted for guided snowcat skiing/snowboarding packages on select days throughout the 2014-15 ski season. All-day packages with Homewood Snowcat Adventures will start at $399 per person per day for the snowcat and lift access. Homewood season pass holders will enjoy $100 off the price of all-day snowcat tours for themselves and any friends they choose to share the adventure with, when all members of the party are booked together.
Groups or companies wishing to enjoy a day of private guided snowcat touring are encouraged to call or email Homewood’s Group Sales department at (530) 584-6840 or sales@skihomewood.com for availability and group pricing options.

All participants must be advanced skiers or snowboarders during normal operations; however, private group tours for intermediate-level skiers/riders can be arranged with full buyout.

Homewood’s demo shop will also offer special snowcat package rates on its line of powder-specific demo skis to allow snowcat skiers to get the most out of the untracked terrain they will be exploring.

For more information or to book a snowcat adventure at Homewood this winter, please see SkiHomewood.com/Snowcat or call (530) 525-2992.

About Homewood Mountain Resort
Homewood Mountain Resort, founded in 1961, is one of Lake Tahoe’s premier recreation resorts. Winner of the 2013 National Ski Areas Association Golden Eagle award and the 2013 California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for environmental stewardship, Homewood continues to offer premier winter skiing and snowboarding, as well as summer recreational opportunities, with a focus on guest service and unique vacation packages. Homewood is accessible via Interstate 80 to California State Route 89, just 55 miles from Reno Tahoe International Airport. The resort’s parent company is San Francisco-based JMA Ventures, LLC. JMA is a full service real estate investment firm, serving as managing member of over $500 million in existing projects. See www.SkiHomewood.com for more information.

CHANGING FOLIAGE, FESTIVE EVENTS MARK FALL SEASON IN TAHOE

There is a distinct change in North Lake Tahoe come fall. With the summer crowds gone, the region loses its hustle and bustle and instead encourages visitors to enjoy the area at a more leisurely pace.

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in all things Tahoe fall is to get in the thick of it – literally. Hiking and mountain biking trails twist and turn through forests adorned with changing foliage that boasts the full spectrum of yellows from apens trees that make a striking contract against the reigon’s pines.

Visitors can embrace the fall solitude on several of Tahoe’s trails, but a favorite is the famed Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile trail that loops around Lake Tahoe, specifically the Mt. Rose’s Trail off Highway 267. This five to six-mile, roundtrip trail is rated medium in difficutly and has hikers climbing a sandy slope, meandering past a waterfall and wrapping up with picturesque views of the entire Tahoe Basin.

But the changing leaves is just one of many ways to celebrate autumn in North Lake Tahoe. Also gaining steam are a steady stream of festivals geared for all ages.

For more information about fall foliage trails, as well as autumnal events in North Lake Tahoe, as well as get connected via social media channels, click to the North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus’ website at www.GoTahoeNorth.com. The site’s Cool Deals tab is updated daily with deals and savings on lodging and activities.

North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from San Francisco International Airport. Visitor information centers are located at 100 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village. The North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus, the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association, work together to promote North Lake Tahoe as a premier, year-round destination.

 Resorts and Towns’ Update:

The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village has unveiled 18 hypo-allergenic rooms in their luxurious Stillwater Spa, especially suited for guests with asthma, allergies and other respiratory sensitivities. Powered by PURE Solutions NA, the rooms eliminate up to 98 percent of airborne viruses and bacteria, as well as pollen and other irritants.
  
Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore offers cross country and snowshoe trails on five color-coded trails, ranging from one to three miles in length. Trailheads are located on the campground side of the park and on the day-use side of the park.       

For further details, log on to www.skilaketahoe.com. The recently re-launched web site serves as an interactive portal for destination travelers planning a winter vacation to the Lake Tahoe region with travel booking engines, real-time snow reports, interactive maps, event calendars and live newsfeeds from all seven resorts and regional partners. Be sure to check out the "Lake Tahoe Chatter" page for the insider perspective on what's happening around the lake.

Alpine Meadows

Alpine Meadows continues its technological advancements for guests by becoming the first North American ski resort to offer a breakthrough children's chairlift safety system. Designed by Magnestick®, the new technology uses an electromagnetic seatback and magnetic vest worn by children riding a chair lift. This latest announcement continues the resort's technological offerings such as the flÇik™ GPS tracking system for children, radio frequency identification (RFID) chair lift gates, reloadable lift ticketing capabilities from home, and the all new Alpine Club Fast Trax program, which allows members to purchase a lift ticket simply by skiing through an RFID gate.

The resort will also unveil a newly expanded children's indoor center including interactive educational stations for kids and automated registration stations for parents; as well as a new outdoor snow play area including the addition of a new magic carpet surface lift, multiple tubing lanes and a mini terrain park. Alpine Meadows also plans to expand its groomed surfaces to new areas of the mountain. For more information, log onto www.skialpine.com.

Heavenly Mountain Resort

The resort has begun construction on its new 14,980-square-foot Tamarack Lodge located mid-mountain at the top of Heavenly's Gondola. Slated for completion in February of 2011, the lodge will offer 500 indoor seats along with 250 outdoor patio seats and completes Heavenly's Adventure Peak family recreation area, where guests can enjoy enjoying snowshoeing, ski biking, sledding and Heavenly's Super Tubing Hill. The Tamarack Lodge is the crown jewel of Heavenly's major revitalization over the past eight years which has included new and upgraded lifts, increased snowmaking and grooming, additional on-mountain amenities and improvements.

Heavenly Mountain Resort recently unveiled the new EpicMix technology, an online and mobile application which will allow guests to capture their ski and ride experience and digitally share it with friends and family. EpicMix will record the activity of guests using radio frequency (RF) scanners installed at each of the resort's chairlifts and automatically calculate vertical feet, number of days skied and other achievements by reading RF-enabled chips embedded in season passes and reloadable lift tickets. Guests can then log in to view and share results on social networks as well as post private messages and locate friends on the mountain, including a real-time locator for parents with children. Visit www.skiheavenly.com for complete details.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Kirkwood Mountain Resort's new ZipTahoe Treetop Canopy Tour seeks to offer new thrills high above the slopes this season through more than 10 zip lines, aerial spans, bridge networks and a final zip line that will whisk guests over skiers and snowboarders while descending over 1,100 feet. This new offering is one of a number of new family-focused attractions housed in the resort's new High Alpine Adventure Center including tubing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, dogsledding, evening snowcat tours, sleigh rides and snowmobile tours. The resort also offers a new "Daycare Dilemma" lift ticket allowing parents to split shifts on the slopes and a new "Intro to Snow" program that gives toddlers an active alternative to traditional daycare.

Improvements aimed at increasing resort capacity and elevating the guest experience include upgrades to the resort's food and beverage outlets, new parking lots and a facelift to the resort's chairlifts. Kirkwood will once again host the North American Freeskiing Championships and the North Face Masters of Snowboarding showcasing the best skiers and snowboarders in the world. New this season, Kirkwood will also be one of the stops on the new Banzai Series inspired by U.S. Olympian Daron Rahlves that blends skier/boarder cross with a traditional downhill race. Log on to www.kirkwood.com for further information.

Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe

Fresh off its first season of operations, the panoramic new Winters Creek Lodge will benefit from a new sustainability initiative including three "extreme energy windspires" along the lodge's walkway that will help offset energy costs to the new facility while contributing to a greener environment. Located only 25 minutes away from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe continues to partner with a number of resort casino properties to offer some of the most affordable stay-and-ski packages in the entire country starting as low as $79 per person. The resort is also in the process of launching a new application for smartphones that will feature an interactive trail map, current conditions and allow guests to save time and money purchasing products online. Visit www.mtrose.com for details.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort

This season will mark the first full year of operations for the recently completed Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe located mid-mountain at the resort with access to the Village at Northstar via the new Highlands Gondola. Improving upon this experience for the upcoming season, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort has announced a number of new stores and outlets as additions to the Village at Northstar including the expansion of its demo shop, and a hands-on pottery studio. The resort also upgraded its fleet of rental equipment with the latest offerings from leading manufacturers.

On the slopes, guests can experience a handful of new instructional programs designed for advanced skiers and snowboarders to explore the resort's Backside and Lookout Mountain. In addition, the resort plans to expand its women-specific snowboarding clinics to include successful techniques once taught exclusively as part of the Burton Snowboard Academy. Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort has also been chosen to host the spectator-friendly Nordic Super Tour in mid-March, the premiere cross-country race series in North America. For further details, please visit www.northstarattahoe.com.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort continues to improve upon the experience for beginners with the addition of two new surface lifts for the upcoming 2010-11 season. Totaling 700 feet, the two new carpet conveyor lifts will allow beginning skiers and snowboarders to access 11 acres of sculpted Smart Terrain™ that has shortens the learning curve for beginners. The resort has also announced the return of its popular $35 Learn to Ski or Ride package for adult beginners. Families looking to experience everything Sierra-at-Tahoe has to offer can take advantage of the resort's Kids Ski Free package.

Sierra-at-Tahoe's recently incorporated expert-only Huckleberry Canyon will continue to see complimentary guided tours on Fridays throughout the season, conditions permitting. Park and pipe enthusiasts continue to flock to the resort's cutting edge terrain parks and freestyle zones which recently received industry-wide recognition. Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort is the recipient of NSAA's Silver Eagle Award for Environmental Education for its efforts aimed at passionate youth and the resort will celebrate the achievement this season. Check out <http://www.sierraattahoe.com/>www.sierraattahoe.com for the entire lowdown.

Squaw Valley USA

Guests can celebrate with Squaw Valley USA's resident Olympic athletes on "Ski with Jonny Days" when Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley takes guests on complimentary tours of his favorite runs and with recently-crowned Olympic medalist, Julia Mancuso, who will host an unforgettable spring event. The resort will expand its night skiing and has also created a new mountaintop kids terrain park, complete with a snow fort, kid-friendly jumps, whoopty-doos and even a new kids-specific trail map.

Squaw Valley USA has significantly upgraded the mountain's dining facilities and base village. The legendary Olympic House base lodge has been brilliantly remodeled to include an upgraded bar and redesigned menu. The resort has also completed the final stage of its more than $3 million renovation to the Gold Coast Lodge located at the top terminal of the resort's Funitel. Other upgrades include an extensive remodel of the Olympic Village Lodge & Conference Center, renovations to the Squaw Kids Children's Center, and upgrades to the resort's snowmaking system. Squaw Valley USA will also welcome a host of new shops to its village including a new demo center and three new retail stores. For further information, log on to www.squaw.com.

About Ski Lake Tahoe

Surrounding North America's largest alpine lake, the seven resorts that make up Ski Lake Tahoe are Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort and Squaw Valley USA. Lake Tahoe boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, and the region has some of the highest annual snowfall amounts in North America. The seven resorts, all offering unparalleled scenic vistas of panoramic mountain and lake views, are located less than an hour from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. For further information and to directly book travel, lodging and transportation for Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and its travel partners, visit www.skilaketahoe.com.

World-Class Resort Properties Offer Incomparable Amenities & Incredible Savings

The Lake Tahoe area offers lodging properties to match just about every budget and every itinerary imaginable. From affordable casino resorts to luxurious lakeside properties, the region's lodging options cater to the destination guest with a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment. Most properties also offer shuttle services to nearby resorts. In an effort to attract the discriminating dollar of this season's budget-minded traveler, many of the high-end properties around the lake are offering VIP treatment at a fraction of the normal cost.

On the north side of the lake, The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa offers a "catch-all" stay and ski/ride package that includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary shuttle service and two adult lift tickets to a choice of Squaw Valley USA, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Alpine Meadows or Homewood. Package pricing is $319 Sunday through Thursday and $359 on Fridays and Saturdays. Located just steps from the slopes, the ski-in/ski-out Squaw Valley Lodge offers winter recreation and relaxation packages designed to maximize the adventure and romance while stretching your travel dollar. Stay and ski/ride packages begin as low as $160.50 midweek/$210.50 weekends. The Village at Squaw Valley offers the ultimate four-season mountain resort nestled slope side in Squaw Valley USA with luxurious condominium suites, a first class spa and spectacular dining and shopping. Take advantage of the "Ski 3 Free" package starting as low as $136.16 per person and save up to $237 on lift tickets.

For travelers headed to the south end of the lake, Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa offers a "Ski, Board and Play Package" which includes deluxe room accommodations and two lift tickets to Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, or Squaw Valley USA starting at $199. The Park Tahoe Inn is a perfect base camp for exploring the Lake Tahoe area and offers custom ski/ride packages to fit individual needs. Book four nights and get the fifth night free with packages starting at $300 per night. Both Harrah's Lake Tahoe and Harvey's Lake Tahoe offer "Stay and Play" packages with discounted lift tickets available for Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley USA and Sierra-at Tahoe Resort.

Nightlife & Off-Slope Activities: 24/7 Action Makes Tahoe America's Winter Party Capital

Once the lifts stop turning, the action truly begins at Lake Tahoe's casinos, nightclubs and music venues located within a short distance from the resorts around the lake area. For those looking to spend a day away from the slopes, the award-winning restaurants, shopping, art galleries and family entertainment options available in the newly renovated villages of Squaw Valley USA, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort offer an impressive variety of options all within walking distance. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the Lake Tahoe area offers an entire spectrum of unique winter activities such as tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowcat tours, zip lines and even an aqua shuttle that offers sunset après ski parties across the lake.

Lake Tahoe: Easy Access and Affordable Transportation

RTIA services destination travelers to the Lake Tahoe area located just half an hour away from the closest ski lifts. The airport provides 170 daily flights with non-stop service to 19 destinations and was named the fifth most efficient airport in North America by the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS) in 2008. Southwest Airlines provides the majority of air service into RTIA, setting the benchmark for affordable air travel that competing airlines have tried to match.

A multitude of regular shuttle services and transportation options make it easy to get around the lake region and in various communities around Lake Tahoe. The North Lake Tahoe Express services the majority of North Lake Tahoe, providing regional shuttle service to and from RTIA. In South Lake Tahoe, the BlueGo transit service offers a variety of inexpensive shuttle services around South Lake Tahoe 24/7.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort Adds Trails

This season, intermediate skiers and snowboarders at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in Truckee will find new terrain to explore. The resort is adding four trails to the Northwest Territory of the mountain, bringing the resort’s trail total to 83 and skiable acreage to 2,490. Northstar is also replacing the majority of its rental equipment inventory. All snowboards, 2/3 of the snowboard boots, 1/3 of all alpine ski equipment and all cross-country ski equipment will be replaced for the 2007/2008 winter season.

For more information contact Northstar-at-Tahoe, (530) 562-2267 or (800) GO-NORTH (800-466-6784), <www.northstarattahoe.com.

Tahoe Arts & Mountain Culture

Travelers to Lake Tahoe can now experience the mountain community’s authentic local culture during their next visit thanks to the new Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture (TAMC) travel planning web site, www.tahoeculture.com.

The site captures locals’ perspectives and celebrates the area’s individuals whose artistic expression is inspired by Tahoe, whether through visual or performing arts, special events and festivals or locally-made products. A “Made in Tahoe” page features products and original art produced by Tahoe-area locals. A lively “MyPlace” blog delves into locals’ knowledge and the reasons they call Tahoe home. TAMC includes a “Green Tahoe” section that honors green living and green building practices.  Other regular features include favorite hangouts, Tahoe’s art scene, resident artists, funky “don’t miss” events, culinary art and foodie hot spots, eco-friendly businesses, mountain health, outdoor recreation and Tahoe’s heritage. TAMC reaches eco-conscious travelers who want to experience Lake Tahoe’s true culture while supporting local artists and tourism businesses.

For more information contact Becky Bell, Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture, (530) 318-6454, editor@tahoeculture.com, www.tahoeculture.com.

Bridging the border between California and Nevada, the Tahoe region isn’t just a ski destination, it’s a winter paradise with more rideable acreage in close proximity than any other U.S. destination, more than 300 days of sunshine per year, easy access from anywhere in the country through the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and more dining and entertainment outlets to appease all interests from the young-and-beautiful to families and empty nesters.

LA QUINTA

La Quinta --

is nestled against the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs and offers incredible places to stay, play, live and work. As major events with nationwide appeal come to town every year, we have witnessed the interest and the population of our town grow.

LAS ALAMOS

More soon!

LODI

World of Wonders Science Museum Lodi

Learn about energy, electricity, magnetism, sight and more at the new World of Wonders (WOW) Science Museum in downtown Lodi, where hands-on exhibits stimulate discovery for all ages. The 9,000-sq.-ft. museum has a cooperative partnership with the San Francisco Exploratorium EXNet program and houses 30–35 world-class, hands-on exhibits directly from the Exploratorium. The WOW also provides field study trips for children during the week and birthday parties on weekends. The Museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment for groups.

LONG BEACH

The GuestHouse Long Beach Undergoes Renovation

The GuestHouse Hotel Long Beach is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation. Plans to “re-imagine” the charming property into a sophisticated boutique resort include sleek, modern new guestrooms featuring plush interiors, 42-inch flat-screen plasma televisions, spa quality amenities and Zen-like bathrooms. Renovation plans also include the 2,000-square-foot conference center, featuring beautiful golf course views; the expansion and restyling of the pool and deck area along with a chic lobby design; and the addition of an entertainment room.
For details contact Vicki Arreguin, The GuestHouse Long Beach, (562) 597-1341, varreguin@guesthouselb.com, www.guesthouselb.com.

LOS ANGELES & LOS ANGELES COUNTY

What to See & Do

What's New in Los Angeles?

Plenty!

L.A. Museum Season is back!

This fall, just prior to the start of the city’s famed red carpet Award Season, Los Angeles puts the spotlight on its cultural offerings with the return of “L.A. Museum Season.” Through Nov. 14, 2014 -- visitors who book two hotel nights or more for stays during this time period receive two free admissions and museum store discounts at more than 20 premier Los Angeles cultural institutions.

For more information visit web site www.discoverlosangeles.com/museumseason.

“As home to more museums than any other U.S. city, Los Angeles offers permanent and temporary exhibitions for every taste and temperament,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., President & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism). “From Picassos to pop hits, dinosaurs to diamonds, cowboys to classical sculpture, L.A.’s museum collections span the gamut.”

Institutions participating in the free admission offer include: Autry National Center; Craft & Folk Art Museum; GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE; Hollywood Museum; Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens; Kidspace Children's Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Latin American Art; Museum of Tolerance; Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; Norton Simon Museum; Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits; Paley Center for Media; Pasadena Museum of California Art; Skirball Cultural Center; and USS Battleship Iowa.

Additionally, the following institutions offer a discount off museum store purchases: Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight studios; California Science Center; Fowler Museum at UCLA; Getty Center; Getty Villa; Hammer Museum; USC Pacific Museum

A Sample of Museum Savings and Exhibition Highlights include:

Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (A savings of $40 on two or more regular adult admissions) - In commemoration of the start of World War I in the summer of 1914, a centennial Posters of the First World War exhibition in the Library’s West Hall through Nov. 3 illustrates how a global war was waged not just by soldiers on battlefields and politicians in offices, but by civilian populations of men, women, and children on the home fronts of combatant nations including Canada, England, France, and the United States.

LACMA (A savings of $30 on two regular adult admissions) - Big Quilts in Small Sizes: Children's Historical Bedcovers features diminutive quilts chosen from the museum's collection, all of them made for children and presenting strikingly beautiful decorative designs, reflecting the same meticulous stitching and geometric patterns that have been used to create full-size bedcovers in the United States for centuries.

(A savings of $30 on two regular adult admissions) – Be among the first to enjoy a new collection of sorcery acquisitions from the Harry Potter film franchise including original wands, Harry Potter’s robe, his ultimate broom, blueprints of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and more.

Grammy Museum (a savings of $25.90 on two regular adult admissions) – California Dreamin’: The Sounds of Laurel Canyon, 1965-1977, explores the story of the Los Angeles rock scene during this golden age of music, creativity and culture. See a broad array of items on display including Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) writing chair; Arthur Lee's (Love) 6 String Flying V guitar; Cass Elliot’s (The Mamas and the Papas) c.1960s, hand painted chair; and original scrapbooks, handbills, and posters.

ABOUT L.A. MUSEUM SEASON
L.A. Museum Season is a 6-week travel deal, showcasing premier arts and culture offerings in
Los Angeles and highlighting the diversity of museum experiences L.A. has to offer. L.A. Museum Season is presented by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

For more information on arts and culture or all of the endless entertainment options in Los Angeles, visit the official visitor information website of Los Angeles at www.discoverLosAngeles.com, and visit www.facebook.com/LosAngelesFan and Twitter @discoverLA.

Eagerly Awaited Civic Park Opens in Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles has a fresh, new green space for visitors and residents to enjoy. Civic Park opened Blocks 1 and 2 from Grand Avenue to Hill Street on July 28, 2012. When the whole 12- to-16-acre park is finished, it will unify the landmark institutions in Los Angeles' Civic Center area from Bunker Hill and the Music Center to the steps of City Hall. Continuing design plans will break the rectangular spaces into several mini-parks, retaining many existing mature trees. The $56-million project, designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, will be Downtown’s largest park. Plans are for Blocks 3 and 4 to open in the fall of 2012. Once complete, the space will also be used for concerts, farmers markets, outdoor readings and festivals. http://civicpark.lacounty.gov

LAX Hotels Go Green

Several Los Angeles International Airport area hotels officially get to boast that they are helping to care for the planet. Five major hotels are now participating in the LA Green Lodging Program, part of the Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program. In less than three years, the Gateway to L.A. business district hotels, including the Radisson; the Sheraton Gateway Hotel; the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel; the Crowne Plaza LAX; and, most recently, the 17-story Hilton Los Angeles Airport and Tower, earned their certificates. Each hotel had to undergo a rigorous process of transformation to earn the Green Seal. Compliance standards include waste minimization and reduction, recycling and energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality and buying products that will be environmentally sound. Accumulatively, these five properties have a total inventory of nearly 4,000 guestrooms. Here is one example of going green by using new green operational procedures. It is estimated 2.6 million soap bars are discarded every day by American hotels, which will end up in landfills. Green hotels can donate the discarded soap to those developing countries with limited access to hygienic products. www.gatewaytola.org

Hear the Celebration at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre

The newly rebranded Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre) in Hollywood is a live entertainment theater located in the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex on the famous corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The theater is best known as the permanent home of the annual Academy Awards®, which were first held there in March 2002. Since 2002, the 3,400-seat, 180,000-square-foot venue has also been the site for the Daytime Emmy Awards, the ESPY Awards, BET Awards, American Idol finals, Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and many more. Guided tours are offered 7 days a week where visitors can see an Oscar® statuette, visit the Dolby Lounge and other exclusive celebrity hot spots, and view images from previous Academy Awards® ceremonies.

The Dolby Theatre recently installed an immersive new sound format called Atmos. Created at the Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco, the system creates a lifelike sound experience by lining speakers along the theater's front, rear and side walls, as well as overhead. It can play up to 128 channels of sound at once. The world premiere of the animated movie "Brave" was held with Atmos at the theater on June 18, 2012.

And if you haven't been to a Cirque du Soleil performance, the Dolby Theatre is home to "IRIS, a Journey Through the World of Cinema." The large-scale production's theme is the art of cinema, with music, dance and acrobatic feats. The show runs nearly year-round. For more information, visit www.dolbytheatre.com.

Metro to Add ExpressLanes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to one of the country's best public transportation networks, including subways, light-rail, buses, and shuttles to just about every corner of the Greater Los Angeles area. Each year, Metro accommodates more than 400 million boardings with an operating budget of $3 billion, making it one of the largest public transit systems in the U.S. Now to help move traffic along on the freeways, Metro, Caltrans and several other Los Angeles transportation partners are working together to improve the traffic flow on certain freeways with the development of MetroExpressLanes. Metro ExpressLanes is a pilot, one-year program that is being developed to convert High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. All vehicles that choose to enter the Metro ExpressLanes will need to be equipped with a transponder. Vehicles with two or more occupants will be able to use the Metro ExpressLanes toll-free. Vehicles with one driver will now have the option to use Metro ExpressLanes, but will be charged a toll. Metro is working with Rental Car companies to offer transponders in rental cars so that visitors will be able to benefit from the Metro ExpressLanes as well. For more information visit www.metroexpresslanes.net.

Walk Through the New Physics Forest in Pasadena

Let the kids explore and touch the interactive exhibits to their hearts' content at the new Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest at Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena. The newest and largest expansion of the almost 4-acre museum had its grand opening on July 12, 2012. The new Physics Forest adds 30,000 square feet to the current museum located in Brookside Park in Pasadena, just south of the Rose Bowl Stadium. The outdoor site has 13 brand-new interactive exhibits. Each exhibit will display a fundamental principle of physics, providing visitors with the opportunity to interact with those principles in a way that is both educational and fun for kids 5 and up.

The exhibits were designed and constructed by exhibit designers Hands-On Interactive. Activities are designed to encourage a child's growth and development through exploration of the environment, investigation in science, and artistic expression. www.kidspacemuseum.org.

Los Angeles International Airport to Provide Passengers Free Wi-Fi Service

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will soon provide passengers with free Wi-Fi service. Passengers will be able to use Wi-Fi basic services for free for sessions lasting less than 45 minutes. Passengers also will be able to opt to pay for premium and uninterrupted Wi-Fi service for a 24-hour period. "A major focus of our customer service improvements is to create a cohesive, memorable and positive experience for travelers at LAX," said LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey. "Given passenger expectations and trends at major airports and other public facilities, our agreement with Advanced Wireless Group will allow us to meet the demands of today's travelers for free Wi-Fi service at LAX and to continue our commitment to excellent customer service." LAX is the sixth busiest airport in the world and third in the United States, offering more than 600 daily flights to 91 domestic cities and more than 1,000 weekly nonstop flights to 58 cities in 32 countries on nearly 75 air carriers. It ranks 13th in the world in air cargo tonnage processed. In 2011, LAX served more than 61 million passengers, processed over 1.8 million tons of air cargo valued at nearly $84.6 billion, and handled 603,912 aircraft operations (landings and takeoffs). For more information about LAX, please visit www.lawa.aero/lax.

Port of Los Angeles Gets Crafty

San Pedro will soon be home to the perfect place to find unique souvenirs only found in Los Angeles. Local artisans will fill nearly 140,000 square feet with handmade goods and artisan food at a new marketplace near the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. The first phase of Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles opened June 29, 2012, with full development of the complex by summer 2013. Within the space of two 1940s warehouses, visitors can buy handmade glass, felt hats, carved leather and locally made furniture. And after strolling the aisles, shoppers can taste gourmet treats from some of Los Angeles’ best chefs. The project is a team effort from Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica and the Port of Los Angeles. This new venture will be a large-scale permanent craft marketplace. www.craftedportla.com

USS Iowa

Looking for an ideal attraction for history buffs, maritime aficionados and student groups? Look no further than the legendary USS Iowa Battleship. It has been called the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship” due to its big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modernization that kept pace with technology for more than 50 years. Built in 1940 as the best of its class, it will become a permanent attraction at the Port of Los Angeles Berth 87 – the only such US battleship on the West Coast. Steeped in history, it saw action from WWII to the post Cold War. It is nicknamed the “Ship of Presidents,” having hosted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the end of WWII and Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. The 58,000-ton vessel is being transformed into an interactive educational museum and will be available for events. It is sure to become a crown jewel of the LA waterfront attractions. www.pacificbattleship.com

Technology and Art Unite at LAX with Groundbreaking Video Installation See Change

See Change, a groundbreaking video art installation located in the newly renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will be unveiled June 16. The permanent, multi-faceted installation features 17 site-specific media artworks and four hours of original programming. The installation includes two large-scale displays, thoughtfully designed to enhance the arrival area’s sophisticated new ambience: a 58-screen, 90-foot linear video filmstrip is suspended from the ceiling, and a 25-screen media wall that borders the terminal’s sleek dining area. LAX passengers will enjoy See Change, which is located in the terminal’s arrivals hall.
For more information about LAX, please visit www.lawa.aero/lax

The Arts in LA Go Outdoors

Summertime in Los Angeles means visitors can enjoy their art outdoors in the warm air. One of the first stops should be the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where the newest acquisition for summer 2012 is a rock. A 340-ton granite megalith was recently delivered for artist Michael Heizer’s new work “Levitated Mass.” Out on LACMA’s Resnick North Lawn will be a 456-foot-long slot sculpture, over which the stone will be placed. Heizer conceived of the artwork in 1968, but discovered an appropriate boulder only decades later, in Riverside County, Calif. The granite boulder is thought to be one of the largest megaliths moved since ancient times. “Levitated Mass” speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and feats of engineering. No tax dollars were used to move the megalith or build the artwork. www.lacma.org

In the Summer, LA's Nightlife Heats Up

Get out and enjoy the amazing weather and musical offerings of Los Angeles emanating from some of the nation's best concert venues like the legendary Greek Theatre, Gibson Amphitheatre, and the Hollywood Bowl—the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the United States www.hollywoodbowl.com.

Los Angeles abounds in outdoor spaces where visitors can hear evening concerts, dance under the stars or watch fireworks while lying in the grass. The Greek Theatre is an award-winning theater and one of the city’s most historic entertainment venues, and with 5,801seats, it offers an intimate concert setting. Scheduled for May will be Los Lobos and Sugarland. In June, a Summer Soul Jam concert is planned with a long list of artists. Al Green comes to the theater in July, and Neil Diamond will perform four times in August. Concerts continue through the end of October. www.greektheatrela.com

LAX Moves to the Hammers of LAneXt

The North Concourse of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal is scheduled to open in September 2012. It is only the first phase of Los Angeles International Airport’s giant “LAneXt” building project that will provide 18 gates, nine of which will be able to accommodate the mammoth A380 aircraft. The $1.7- billion building project also includes the construction of the Great Hall, which will offer dining, retail shopping and passenger amenities.

The dining options and cuisines are as diverse as the many millions of international travelers who will pass through the new terminal’s doors each year. Among the noted restaurants whose LA-only concepts will grace the Great Hall are Homegirl Café & Catering, Monsieur Marcel, Loteria Grill, Lemonade, Skewers, Ford’s Filling Station, Wolfgang Puck Express, B Grill by BOA Steakhouse, Seven Grand, The Counter, Corona Bar, Engine Co. 28, Carl’s Jr., and Marmalade Café.

Designated in an area dubbed the “LA Gourmet Street Truck” are celebrated local eateries Campanile, La Provence Patisserie & Café, Cole’s Originators of the French Dip, 8 Oz. Burger Bar, and Real Food Daily Organic Vegan Cuisine. Other restaurants founded in neighboring Southern California communities and opening in the new terminal, include Klatch, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, and Yogurtland. See’s Candy, which first opened in Los Angeles in 1921, has a factory close to LAX and will have a pair of confectionary shops within the Great Hall. Starbucks will also offer its menu of coffee concoctions along with convenient grab and go items.
Vroman’s Bookstore and celebrity-favorite Kitson, both founded in Los Angeles, will be part of the tenant mix along with Hudson News, Hollywood Style, Sunglass Hut, Hollywood Bling, Hudson Booksellers, Hugo Boss, Kids Corner, Papyrus, Entertainment Newsstand, That’s So LA, and Bartels’. Media giants NBC Universal, CNN and People News will also have a presence.

In addition to the Grand Hall’s plethora of shops and restaurants, passengers will also enjoy plush lounge space and optional spa services from XpresSpa! featuring a menu of massage therapy, hydrating facials, manicures and pedicures.

New passenger lounges, security screening areas, customs and immigration stations, and high-tech baggage claim facilities are also part of the biggest public works project in the history of the City of Los Angeles. Sections of Bradley West are due to open in December 2012. By 2014, an automated people mover will carry passengers around the terminal and also connect to the Metro Green Line trains. www.la-next.com

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's New Dinosaur Hall

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has an all-new, 14,000-sqaure-foot Dinosaur Hall. Twice the size of the Museum's previous dinosaur exhibits, the Dinosaur Hall features more than 300 fossils, 20 full-body specimens and a variety of interactive displays, which are designed to allow visitors to get close up to real fossils in a way that engages them. One of the highlights of the new hall, the Tyrannosaurus rex growth series,features extraordinary specimens of the youngest known baby, a rare juvenile, and a remarkably complete recently-discovered young adult (Thomas the T. rex). Other standout specimens include an imposing new Triceratops, a Stegosaurus topped by kite-shaped armor plates and giant marine reptiles that swam the oceans covering what is today California. Two-thirds of the full-body specimens have never before been displayed. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has amassed one of the world's most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history -- with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Museum (Newhall, California).
www.nhm.org

Starline Tours Introduces the TMZ Hollywood Tour

In mid-May, Starline Tours launched their new TMZ Hollywood Tour -- Secrets and Celebrity Hot Spots. The new tour -- conducted in custom-designed, 24-seat buses -- will fully immerse guests in the Hollywood experience, TMZ style. The tour will start at Grauman's Chinese Theater, and visit locations made famous by TMZ and Hollywood stars including the department store where Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting and the courthouse that served as home for Lindsay Lohan's trial. Tour guides will act as unofficial TMZ representatives, and are equipped and prepared to capture celebrity footage in the middle of the tour. Tour guests may even see the footage on TMZ.com before the end of the tour. Daily tours will be given at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., but tour routes will vary depending on celebrity sighting reports that day. Admission is $69 for adults and $59 for children ages 3-11. Advance tickets can be purchased at a discounted rate of $55 for adults and $45 for children.
www.starlinetours.com
www.tmz.com/tour

Endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly Thrives at LAX

After painstaking efforts to rehabilitate the natural habitat of the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly, officials at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) have found that the butterfly population count now stands at more than 111,000, reflecting a 30 percent increase over 2009 numbers. LAWA maintains the 200-acre Dunes Restoration Project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which focuses on reintroducing and protecting the coastal buckwheat plant, the butterfly's sole food source. LAWA began the LAX Dunes Restoration Project in 1986, after careful study and consultation with environmental experts. Today, the preserve is home again to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals and 43 acres of virtually undisturbed original native dunes habitat. The El Segundo Blue Butterfly became the first insect to be listed as a Federal Endangered Species in 1976, when fewer than 500 of the species existed.

Broad Contemporary Art Museum Opened

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has opened the first new museum built in L.A. since the Getty Center made its debut in 1997, with the premiere of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM). BCAM will feature works by such contemporary masters as Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra and others. The BCAM is the centerpiece of the $156-million LACMA transformation, which includes new gardens, an entry pavilion, expanded parking facilities and other visitor amenities.

For more information contact Barbara Pflaumer, bpflaumer@lacma.org, www.lacma.org

NOKIA Theatre Opens in Los Angeles

The 7,100-seat, 210,000-square-foot NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE is the premier mid-sized live performance, award show, special event and music venue in Los Angeles. The state-of-the-art facility has the capability of accommodating such major award shows as the EMMY®s, Latin GRAMMY®s, ESPYs, MTV Music Awards, BET Awards and others as well as live music concerts, comedy shows, family shows, short-run Broadway and community theater productions along with corporate conventions and seminars. NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE just opened in October 2007 as the initial development of the massive L.A. LIVE project that will promote a 24-hour L.A. experience.

For more information contact Michael Roth, (213) 742-71

Where to Eat

Restaurant Dining for Groups

When it comes to group dining -- Los Angeles' unparalleled diversity and focus on entertainment provides the perfect location -- be it a high-powered dinner for 20, a let-your-hair-down bash for 300 or a closing banquet for 1,200. For a Latin experience, Rivera Restaurant, near L.A. LIVE in Downtown, sizzles with Chef John Rivera Sedlar's passion for foods. He has three Latin-themed private areas for up to 60, 100 or 300 respectively, and a restaurant buy-out for up to 175. Panoramic views of LA's San Fernando Valley provide a wow factor at the Polynesian-themed Castaway Restaurant in the hills of Burbank. Its full-service events center has eight rooms to accommodate up to 800. Close-up views of planes landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and vintage aircraft as décor create an uplifting mood at the Proud Bird restaurant adjacent to LAX. Up to 1,200 can gather in the largest of its four event rooms. Steaks, mechanical bulls and rock 'n' roll make for down-home fun at the Wild West-themed Saddle Ranch Chop House at Universal CityWalk Hollywood. It welcomes groups of up to 300 in semi-private curtained areas that let groups share the fun - or pull the curtains. Old-style Hollywood glamour with plush booths and low lighting define Matteo's Italian Restaurant, a Westwood icon since 1963. Groups of up to 80 can dine in private upstairs and up to 20 in the main floor private room. Add Matteo's popular Murder Mystery dinner experience to liven the party. Cool and contemporary with live music nearly nightly make the Salt Creek Grille in El Segundo a trendy pick. It offers private dining for up to 20 in the dining area and up to 200 in the garden.

55, mroth@staplescenter.com, www.aegworldwide.com.

Leaf Cuisine Restaurants - Rod Rotondi, Founder and Executive Chef

Tireless traveler and culinary eclectic, Rod Rotondi has used his unique experience and perspective to translate world cuisine into delicious and affordable raw, organic and vegan offerings. His three Los Angeles area Leaf Cuisine restaurants, which are set for national franchising, are leaders in the raw food and green movement. Rod’s burgeoning wholesale business, offering an array of raw and organic entrees, wraps, desserts and drinks, is prominently featured in So Cal at such retailers as Mother’s Markets, Rainbow Acres, Erewhon and Whole Foods Markets. And seeking to enlighten the public at large, this socially conscious entrepreneur is also working on a series of “Raw” uncookbooks, a DVD series and a television show.

Changing the world one bite at a time has become Rod’s approach to social activism. “Everyone has control over what they put in their mouth and these choices make a huge difference for our shared environment- our biosphere, as well as our individual environments- our bodies! Choosing organic, vegan raw foods is not only supporting our individual bodies with optimally nutritious foods, but supporting the growth of the whole organic and vegan industry- basically, our health and the health of our planet.” His restaurants are also some of the greenest in the world, recycling and composting all materials, using biodiesel in the delivery vans and utilizing compostable to go containers.

Growing up in an Italian-American family where food was often the center of family and social gatherings, hospitality and food preparation were second nature to Rod. From hand rolling his grandmother’s “secret” gnocchi, to enjoying formal Italian cuisine in Rome at the residence of his grandfather, the American Ambassador, to cooking courses in Paris, Rod’s youth was cuisine centric.

After graduating with a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Rod’s life took a dramatic turn. Volunteer work in Morocco and Tunisia as a manager of grass roots development projects was followed by a 6 years in Jerusalem as a Program Management Officer for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) trying to develop the private sector of the Occupied Terretories. Six years and many harrowing stories later, Rod moved to Dahab, Egypt, a Bedouin village along the Sinai Peninsula, where he developed Club Red, a major resort offering scuba diving, desert safaris, a hotel, restaurant, and a wellness center. There he opened the first yoga center in Egypt and on the millennium held the largest party in the Sinai since Moses- over 2,000 people!

Into his eighth year in Duhab, Rod lost everything, his business, all of his possessions and almost his life. That same day, his friend Swami Brahmananda emailed him that he had received a transmission that Rod’s new name was Swami Rishimurti Saraswati of the Saraswati lineage of Swamis. Go figure.

It was clearly time for the world traveler to return home. Settling in Marblehead, MA, where his parents, who were suffering from health challenges resided, Rotondi opened up Rod’s Wrap & Juice Bar, a tiny organic, vegan and raw restaurant in the back of a vitamin store. Capitalizing on a lifetime of culinary lessons from around the globe, Rod developed the recipes and concept, which he later reincarnated as Leaf Cuisine. He won “Best of Show” and “Best Theme” awards in the prestigious Marblehead Culinary Arts Festival and helped his parents make some diet and lifestyle changes, greatly improving their health.

Relocating to California to pursue his dream, Rod was immediately recruited by raw foods chef and author James Brotman (Juliano) to set up, manage and chef at a new exclusive restaurant in Santa Monica.  However Rod’s dream was to create an inclusive eatery, one so affordable and delicious that people would eat there daily and make a positive change to their lives. Thus was born Leaf Cuisine, the first certified organic restaurant certified by QAI (Quality Assurance International). Opening on October 17, 2004 to lines extending out the front door, Leaf Cuisine offers, “truly clean, delicious and affordable food in a convenient and friendly format.”

Rod, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and baby daughter, takes part in many charity and sponsored events throughout Los Angeles including Save the Bay, The American Heart Association and the Breast Cancer Fund. He also speaks at schools and colleges and has catered the Grammy Awards and other entertainment industry functions.

Rod believes that “this is it”. Right here and now. There is a consequence for everything, which is why, “Leaf is Life.”

MALIBU

Where to Stay

Malibu Beach Inn

The celebrated Malibu Beach Inn has reopened after undergoing a multi-million dollar, head-to-toe remodel that will make it the only luxury hotel destination in Malibu.

The renovation, which began in October 2006, includes completely refinished interiors and exteriors, as well as the addition of a new dining room, expanded meeting space and a members-only beach club. The new Malibu Beach Inn is designed to complement its location on the sands of Malibu’s exclusive Carbon Beach by featuring clean-lined architecture and interiors, a beach-inspired color palette and natural materials. Rich woods, elegant stone, sleek glass and polished steel will be used throughout the hotel to create an organic indoor/outdoor experience that utilizes the setting’s unique marine assets.

At the heart of the renovation is a new guests-only 44-seat dining room, which will feature indoor and oceanfront terrace seating, both of which boast breathtaking views and the sound of the tumbling surf below. The hotel will offer a unique food and wine experience featuring an extensive list of hand-selected small-production wines from California’s premier wine regions paired with Mediterranean tapas and coastal California cuisine.

The hotel’s 47 guest rooms, including six suites, each with ocean views, balconies and fireplaces, will feature custom-made furnishings, luxurious fabrics and the latest communications and entertainment systems. In-room amenities will also include a mini-bar stocked with Dean & Deluca favorites, wine rack with hand-selected California vintages, and skin and hair care products from Molton Brown.

Plans for the hotel also feature an expanded lobby and 5,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting space with state of the art technology and full catering capabilities, as well as high-speed wireless and cable data connections throughout the hotel, making the Malibu Beach Inn a perfect destination for meetings and intimate corporate retreats.

Upon its opening, the Malibu Beach Inn will debut its Carbon Beach Club, an exclusive limited-membership experience that offers residents and non-hotel guests access to the hotel’s private beach with luxurious amenities and services.

About the Malibu Beach Inn

The privately owned Malibu Beach Inn is the only luxury oceanfront hotel destination between Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Located on famed “Billionaire’s Beach,” the 47-room hotel was built in 1989 and has become a beloved destination for both leisure and business travelers. After a complete contemporary makeover, the property will feature a guests-only dining room, private beach club and attentive European-trained staff. The Malibu Beach Inn Carbon Beach will offer guests the ultimate Malibu Experience.

For reservations or other inquiries about the Malibu Beach Inn and Carbon Beach Club, check web site www.malibubeachinn.com or call (800) 562-5428.

MAMMOTH LAKES

What to See and Do

Mammoth Lakes Opens New Ice Rink

Mammoth Lakes Ice Rink is open. At 85 feet by 200 feet, the rink is large enough to accommodate a full-sized hockey rink. The new rink will not host NHL teams, but it will be home to many Mammoth visitors skating beneath open skies.

For more information contact the Mono County Tourism Commission, (800) 845-7922, tourism@monocounty.org, www.monocounty.org

Mammoth Ski Museum Displays Ski Memorabilia

The largest private collection of ski memorabilia, fine art and literature is on display at the recently reopened Mammoth Ski Museum in Mammoth Lakes. New exhibits include the life and times of Mammoth Mountain founder Dave McCoy, with photos taken by McCoy throughout his development of the ski resort.

For more information contact the Mono County Tourism Commission, (800) 845-7922, tourism@monocounty.org, www.monocounty.org

Where to Stay

Mammoth Lakes New Private Residence Clubs

80/50 Mammoth is named for its elevation at 8,050 feet. This new private residence club in Mammoth Lakes lifts the concept of resort home ownership to luxurious heights. 80/50 Mammoth is situated steps from gourmet restaurants, boutiques and the Village Gondola. The first four units, contained within another private residence club called Talus, sit on the 10th fairway of the Sierra Star Golf Course in Mammoth Lakes with views toward Lincoln Mountain. Designer Eric Fishburn used fine quality materials to craft homes of high detail and workmanship. An additional 19 units are planned.

For more information contact the Mono County Tourism Commission, (800) 845-7922, tourism@monocounty.org, www.monocounty.org

Westin Monache Resort Opens at Mammoth Lakes

Westin Hotels and Intrawest luxury resort in Mammoth, a 230-condominium-hotel has opened its doors. The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth is the first full-service, luxury property in the region and the flagship property of The Village at Mammoth. The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth is located in The Village at Mammoth, adjacent to Mammoth Mountain’s 15-passenger express gondola. Among its many amenities, the hotel includes panoramic views of the mountains, a full-service restaurant, 24-hour room service, ski valet, a swimming pool and hot tubs, fitness facilities, underground parking and over 2,000 square feet of meeting space.

For more information contact the Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth, (760) 934-2526, www.westinmammoth.com. 

MARINA DEL RAY

Marina del Rey is fast becoming one of Southern California’s hottest destinations and with all the recent growth in the area, it’s easy to see why. The Marina’s building boom includes both commercial and residential developments such as hotel and retail plazas. Over the past three years, the Marina has welcomed a number of new restaurants, shops and hotel renovations. The community has improved its infrastructure as well, including improvements to parks and the addition of new brightly colored signage along its walkways and streets that tell visitors and locals alike exactly where they are and what each area offers.

Here’s an update on what’s hot and happening in Marina del Rey.

Marina Del Rey Named the #4 Destination to Live an Launch A Business in the U.S. by Fortune Small Business

Marina del Rey was recognized as the #4 destination of Fortune Small Business’ inaugural list of the “100 Best Places in America to Live and Launch a Small Business” in the April 2008 issue. The only California destination to be recognized in the top ten, Marina del Rey was one of eight California cities featured on the list. Waterfront location, growing business opportunities, a business-friendly tax structure, along with the area’s retail and tourism features, were all factors in determining the Marina’s high ranking.

Marina del Rey is Los Angeles’ premier waterfront destination lined with million-dollar yachts, sleek hotels and lounges, acclaimed waterfront dining and fine shopping boutiques. Known for its plethora of water activity, the Marina is also a 10-minute cab ride from LAX making the area a prime destination for business travelers. With the famed Venice Beach as its neighbor to the North, Marina del Rey is, indeed, a popular destination for locals, entrepreneurs and travelers alike.

For more information, please contact Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau at 310-306-9900 or visit www.visitmarina.com.

No Car Needed: On Foot, Bicycle or Boat Once in Marina del Rey, Your Getaway is Car-free

From the estuary where Ballona Creek meets the Marina Channel to the sands of Venice Beach, Marina del Rey features a bastion of locals that offer interesting water and land based activities, all in a compact 400-acre area located just 10 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport. Once you’ve reached the Marina and checked into one of its six harbor front accommodations, you’ll enjoy one of the few places in Los Angeles where you won’t need a car to enjoy an array of exciting activities that are all accessible on foot, by bike, public transportation or boat.

Getting Here and Where to Stay

The Marina is easily accessible by all forms of public transportation from LAX including three major municipal bus lines -- Los Angeles’ public Metro Bus Line, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, and the Culver City bus -- reach the area’s four major passages: Washington Boulevard, Via Marina, Lincoln Boulevard and Admiralty Way. (Visit mta.net, bigbluebus.com, and culvercity.org/bus for schedules and fare information.) You can also find airport shuttles, taxis, vans and private coaches at Los Angeles International Airport to reach all accommodations in the Marina.

All of the Marina’s six hotels surround the harbor as well, and offer accommodations at a range of price points, from the luxurious five-diamond The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey (4375 Admiralty Way, 310-823-1700, ritzcarlton.com) to the deluxe Marina del Rey Marriott (4100 AdmiraltyWay, 310-301-3000, marriott.com/laxmb); to the first-class Marina del Rey Hotel (13534 Bali Way, 800-882-4000, marinadelreyhotel.com), Marina International Hotel & Bungalows (4200 Admiralty Way, 800-529-2525, marinaintlhotel.com), Best Western Jamaica Bay Inn (4175 Admiralty Way, 888-823-5333, bestwestern-jamaicabay.com), and Foghorn Harbor Inn ( 4140 Via Marina, 800-423-4940, foghornhotel.com), which offers complimentary shuttles to and from LAX.

What to See & Do

On land, there are many ways to pack in a little fun in the sun in the Marina. Active Angelenos have long known the pleasures of exploring the beaches, bike paths and walkways that surround and intersect the Marina. Rent inline skates at Venice Beach Rentals (2500 Ocean Front Walk at the end of Washington Blvd., 310-864-3290) or bicycles at Daniel’s Bicycle Rentals & Sales at Fisherman’s Village (13737 Fiji Way, 310-980-4045), or simply experience the Marina on foot. On summer weekends, you can also experience the Marina via the WaterBus, a water shuttle which glides between six popular Marina locations including Burton W. Chace Park, Dolphin Marina, Fisherman’s Village, Marina Harbor, Mother’s Beach and Waterfront Walk. For just $1 per person each way, you’ll see the harbor’s major sites.

Another alternative is the Marina del Rey Beach Shuttle which provides free service throughout the Marina. Major stops include Playa Vista, Fisherman’s Village, Waterside Shopping Center, Admiralty Park, Via Marina & Panay Way, Venice Beach Pier, Marina Beach Shopping Center and Burton Chace Park. The Beach Shuttle operates in the summer on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and leaves 15 minutes after each hour. The Beach Shuttle also provides late evening service to the Marina’s free summer concerts in Burton Chace Park and at Concert Park in Playa Vista. Regular hours of operation are Friday/Saturday 10 am to midnight and Sundays and Holidays 10 am to 8 pm.

Visit marinadelrey.lacounty.gov or www.visitmarina.com for hours of operation and other information.

Admiralty Way and Waterfront Walk

One way to stretch your legs and get a close-up of the Marina’s yachts is a stroll down Waterfront Walk. Begin at gentle Mother’s Beach at the corner of Admiralty Way and Via Marina and walk past waterfront hotels, yacht clubs and slips of gleaming boats. Continue on the bike path going west on Fiji Way until you reach the Ballona Wetlands and the Ballona Creek as it stretches into the Marina’s South Jetty, where you’ll find a bird-watcher’s delight. Free Freshwater Marsh, Saltwater Marsh and Dunes Interpretive Tours operate year-round at the Marina-adjacent wetlands on select weekend days. Call 310-306-1507 or visit ballonafriends.org for more information.

The bulk of the Marina’s eclectic mix of dining, shopping and entertainment options is also located along Admiralty Way. Spend an afternoon picnicking in Burton W. Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way, 310-305-9595; lacounty.info) with its rolling green hills and harbor views. Or try a decadent breakfast or lunch at any one of the waterfront eateries along the thoroughfare. With outdoor patios, endless harbor views and great food, these dockside dining options are perfect places to unwind and enjoy a relaxing meal. For a casual bite with delightful views, stop at Tony P’s Dockside Grill (4445 Admiralty Way, 310-823-4534; tonyps.com). Jer-Ne Restaurant +Bar at The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey (4375 Admiralty Way, 310-574-4333; ritzcarlton.com) and Cafe del Rey( 4451 Admiralty Way, 310-823-6395; cafedelreymarina.com) are favorites for their fantastic brunches and water views.

At the Waterside Marina del Rey (shopwaterside.com), on Admiralty Way between Mindanao and Fiji Ways, you’ll find the perfect place to spend a few hours window shopping at a host of upscale retail outlets featuring baubles, bling and stylish clothing for men, women and children.

In the evening, a romantic stroll can end at Glow (4100 Admiralty Way, 310-578-4152; glow-bar.com) in the Marina del Rey Marriott a sexy outdoor lounge with warm amber lighting, comfortable couches, fire pits and a crushed glass waterfall. Or, wend the waterfront walk to Jer-Ne Lounge (4375 Admiralty Way, 310-574-4333; ritzcarlton.com) at The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey where low-key relaxation includes sipping cocktails fireside while listening to live jazz or DJ lounge and house music on Thursdays and Fridays. A stop at Casa Escobar (14160 Palawan Way, 310-822-2199; casaescobar.com) means high energy cocktails and dancing with live music and salsa dancing during the week, and DJ dancing on Fridays and Saturdays.

The North Jetty, Washington Boulevard and Abbot Kinney

The Marina’s bike path and walkways also lead visitors along the leafy, residential Via Marina as it curves to meet the channel. Bike, walk, or blade to the North Jetty on the Marina Peninsula and watch boats putter out to see, or observe nature at work along the channel, from preening herons to feeding pelicans. Stroll down the peninsula’s big canal and ogle the architectural houses along with protected flora and fauna.

Or, follow the Marina’s bicycle path to the place where the Marina meets Venice Beach at End of Washington Boulevard. Spend the afternoon people-watching, or catching the bay view from the Venice pier. When it’s time to stop for a bite along this part of Washington, sidewalk patio dining and large picture windows make people-watching as much a part of the experience as the food. Here, happy hour rules at venues like the Venice Whaler Bar & Grill (2-10 Washington Blvd, 310-821-8737; venicewhaler.com) which attracts singles, couples, groups and lots of locals for casual cuisine, live entertainment, and an extensive drink menu. Interesting options on this end of the Marina include eateries specializing in fare from the Caribbean to Asia and Mediterranean. Try the ropa vieja at the Cuban-inspired Mercedes Cuban Grille (14 Washington Blvd., 310-827-6209; mercedesgrille.com) and sushi from the adjacent sister restaurant Naked Sushi( 14 Washington Blvd., 310-827-6209; nakedsushi.com) Or get a healthy helping of Lebanese food and sidewalk views at Gaby’s (20 Washington Blvd., 310-821-9721) a few doors down.

Further east on Washington Boulevard is the intersection of Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. Less than two miles north of the Marina lies an area that’s become home to a hip array of eclectic furniture shops, antique stores, high-end clothing boutiques, art galleries and funky cafés. Most of the shops are squeezed in between Venice Boulevard and Main Street. Here you’ll find custom furniture shops, great gifts and knickknacks, the hottest designer clothes and galleries galore. Hungry? Look for the entrance of tea house and chocolate shop Jin Patisserie (1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd, 310-399-8801; jinpatisserie.com) , and enjoy an Asian-influenced high tea complete with finger sandwiches and scones in the Zen courtyard. Visit abbotkinney.org for more information.

Get Out on the Water

Set foot in the Marina and you’ll soon see that it’s a mecca for those who love to boat. Getting out on the water is a great way to spend the day, and here there’s plenty to experience -- from cruises, to fishing trips to small boat rentals that make for hours of fun you can’t experience anywhere else in L.A.

Hornblower Cruises & Events (13755 Fiji Way, 888-467-6256, Hornblower.com) offers Sunday brunches and weekend dinner and cocktail cruises for a unique dining experience right on the water. Thanks to Marina Boat Rentals (13719 Fiji Way, 310-574-2822; boats4rent.com) there are more ways than one to whet your appetite for being on the water. With a full range of small watercraft rentals, including electric, power, sail and kayaks, you can spend an hour, half a day or the whole day puttering or paddling around the channel and harbor. Pack a picnic and enjoy ocean breezes and the serenity of being on the water. Into fishing? Here’s a bonus for being on business: Marina del Rey Sport Fishing (13759 Fiji Way, 310-822-3625; marinadelreysportfishing.com) makes getting out on the water easy. This company specializes in public half-day and 3/4-day fishing excursions that are open to the public. Trips depart mornings and afternoons and they’ll supply licenses, poles and bait. Advanced reservations are recommended, so call ahead, hop aboard and catch that big one.

If a private day at sea is what you had in mind, a day sail or a sunset cruise is easy thanks to the Marina’s many charter companies. Couples and small groups of friends can rent a sail or power boat along with a skipper, pack a picnic, and head to Malibu for the day, taking in the coastline and miles of open cobalt ocean. Blue Pacific Boating (14000 Palawan Way # C, 310-398-8830; bluepacificboating.com), Blue Water Sailing (13505 Bali Way, 310-823-5545; bluewatersailing.com), and Marina Sailing (4633 Admiralty Way, 310-822-6617; marinasailing.com) all offer boats for daily hire.

Adjacent Exploration

Looking for something a little different than a “star tour” or walking down Hollywood Boulevard? It’s easy to make a side excursion to Catalina Island – another locale where you won’t need wheels -- thanks to the The Catalina – Marina del Rey Flyer (13737 Fiji Way, Suite C2, 310-577-9177; catalinaferries.com), a high-speed catamaran shuttle that makes getting to and from Catalina Island a breeze. Book a night or two at one of the island’s quaint bed and breakfasts or resort hotels and enjoy exploring the quaint town of Avalon. Visit catalinachamber.com for more information.

For those seeking the Hollywood experience, don’t fret, there are several different tour companies that will pick up star seekers in the Marina and escort them into the throes of Hollywood. Companies like Amazing LA Tours (310-587-2211, amazinglatours.com), VIP Tours (310-841-8114, viptoursandcharters.com) and Los Angeles Sightseeing (310-458-0257, lasightseeing.com) offer a variety of private, public, city, and theme park tours.

For more visitor information, contact the Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau at 310-305-9545. For group information and travel trade, call 310-306-9900. More information is also available on line at www.VisitMarina.com.

Hotel Happenings

Marina del Rey Marriott --

(4100 Admiralty Way, 310-301-3000, 800-228-9290; marriott.com/laxmb) has completed a top-to-bottom $10 million renovation that includes outdoor relaxation cabanas at the pool, renovated meeting spaces, new interior design, and the hot new outdoor lounge, “Glow,” with a two-story crushed glass water wall and fire pits. Playboy.com recently named “Glow” to its A-list by recognizing it as one of the top ten lounges in the U.S

Ritz-Carlton --

Marina del Rey (4375 Admiralty Way, 310-823-1700, 800-241-3333; ritzcarlton.com) has also undergone recent renovations, updating all 304 guest rooms, as well as its corridors and Club Lounge. The hotel has completed a $3.8 million expansion and transition of its Fitness & Massage Center into the luxurious Boutique Spa. The highly-anticipated spa features eight treatment rooms, manicure and pedicure services, steam room experiences, relaxing lounges, a spa retail shop and a new state-of-the-art cardio/weight studio furnished with high-tech equipment.

Marina del Rey Hotel --

(13534 Bali Way, 310-301-1000, 800-882-4000; marinadelreyhotel.com) and Marina International Hotel and Bungalows (4200 Admiralty Way, 310-301-2000, 800-529-2525; marinaintlhotel.com) changed ownership in 2006. Now owned by Santa Barbara-based Pacifica Hotel Company, elements of the hotels have been upgraded including new linens and CD-clock radios in all of the rooms, as well as updated lobby spaces with new furniture, carpets and wall hangings.

Foghorn Harbor Inn --

(4140 Via Marina, 310-823-4626, 800-423-4940; foghornhotel.com), located on the sands of serene Mother’s Beach, has added wall-mounted flat-screen televisions to all of its rooms, as well as free high-speed wireless Internet access.

Water Attractions

Hornblower Cruises & Events --

(Fisherman’s Village, 13755 Fiji Way, 866-548-9563; Hornblower.com), a full-service company that offers both public harbor cruises as well as large private yacht charters, introduced the streamlined luxury yacht Dream On, which holds 300 people and features a built-in dance floor. Additional public events include the Friday Blues Dinner Cruise where guests enjoy a live blues band and a dinner buffet while cruising the Marina waters.

Tiki Mermaid --

The Marina recently said aloha to the Tiki Mermaid (310-306-0020; tikimermaid.com), a casual “Trader Vic” style Polynesian-themed party boat that can carry up to 75 guests on two floors with two outdoor decks, a bar and a dance floor. Since it appeared on the scene, Tiki Mermaid has become popular for parties, corporate mixers and holiday events.

Blue Pacific Boating --

Last year, Seamist Skippers re-launched as Blue Pacific Boating (310-398-8830; sea-mistskippers.com). The company offers sailing instruction, skippered boat charters and bareboat charters aboard its fleet of sail and power boats at reasonable rates.

Shopping

Waterside Marina del Rey --

(shopwaterside.com) was revamped and re-opened to the public in November 2005. The center was completely rejuvenated with a beautiful new look and chic new tenants including designer clothing stores Theodore and Theodore Man, Jill Roberts and Brighton Collectibles. The plaza also added a Cold Stone Creamery and an upscale French bistro called Le Marmiton, which has outdoor patio seating near the center’s central fountain.

Marina Beach Shopping Center --

When this shopping center received its facelift, the new look included a pretty pocket park on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Via Marina, complete with benches and a lively fountain, making it a perfect spot to bring a sandwich from Noah’s Bagels or a slice from Johnnie’s New York Pizza and enjoy a sunny afternoon.

Cuisine & Nightlife

Jer-ne Restaurant + Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey --

(4375 Admiralty Way, 310-574-4333; ritzcarlton.com/hotels/marina_del_rey) welcomed Drew Sayes as executive chef in December 2006. Serving seasonal, local ingredients, Sayes’ menu features an unpretentious approach to California regional cuisine with global influences that keeps the restaurant’s cuisine fun, fresh and interesting. Recent menu items have included a fresh heirloom tomato and burrata caprese salad, Japanese squash soup and turbot with guanciale and hedgehog ragout.

Beechwood --

Deemed one of L.A.’s best new bars by Los Angeles Magazine, Beechwood, (822 Washington Blvd., 310-448-8884; beechwoodrestaurant.com), located on Washington Boulevard, right at the south end of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, features sleek, modern décor with leather couches in the large bar area, a patio with an outdoor fire pit, and a cozy dining room area. The creative comfort food menu from acclaimed chef Brooke Williamson, cool vibe, wine list and cocktail menu attract a broad clientele from Hollywood and business types to artsy surfers for dinner, drinks and late-night dining.

Cafe del Rey --

(4451 Admiralty Way, 310-823-6395) welcomes new Executive Chef Jason Niederkorn, who has worked at Red Pearl Kitchen and past restaurant Aubergine and Troquet in Orange County. Chef Niederkorn’s ambitious seasonal menus feature dishes like spotted skate wing with kalamata vinaigrette, truffle-topped thin crusted pizzas, a salad of frisée with banyuls vinegar topped with duck prosciutto and whimsical presentations of the day’s fresh catch.

Wharo--

(4029 Lincoln Blvd, 310-578-7114; wharo.com) brings the Korean barbecue craze to Marina del Rey with a menu of items marinated in traditional sauces, as well as a selection of fine wines and soju cocktails. Choose from kalbi (short rib), bulgogi (slices of flank steak), kobe beef, chicken, filet mignon or seafood and cook them to taste over the gas barbecue at each table. Don’t miss Korean specialties like scallion pancake and the sizzling, spicy rice-egg-veggie dish bibimbap.

Glow in the Marina del Rey Marriott --

(4100 Admiralty Way, 310-301-3000, 800-228-9290; marriott.com/laxmb) is one of the area’s newest nightspots. This lush outdoor lounge features sleek black rattan couches, warm amber lighting, fire pits, a crushed glass waterfall, sophisticated appetizers and hip cocktails and DJ downtempo music. Playboy.com recently named “Glow” to its A-list by recognizing it as one of the top ten lounges in the U.S

The Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau is an independent non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting Marina del Rey as a meeting and leisure destination. For more visitor information, including recommendations specific to your needs, please call 310-305-9545. For group information and travel trade, please call 310-306-9900. More information is also available on line at www.VisitMarina.com. The Marina del Rey Visitor Information Center is located at 4701 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292.

Renoir Landscapes -- Members See It Free!

Approximately 60 paintings by Renoir, drawn from public and private collections in the United States and abroad, offer a fresh approach to the French Impressionist’s art. This exhibition is the first to explore the inventiveness and importance of these landscapes during the first decades of Renoir’s career. Remarkable in their freshness and immediacy, these works of art reveal nature as a deep source of inspiration and demonstrate the artist’s fascination with the effects of outdoor light.

MENDOCINO

What to See & Do

Outrigger Canoe Adventure in Mendocino

Guests at Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino can now explore Big River Estuary, the only major undeveloped navigable estuary in Northern California, on custom-built outrigger redwood canoes. The boats are specially designed for use on Big River by a local craftsman. Redwood outriggers are available for single boaters and for parties of up to 12 paddlers. The canoes feature padded seats, exceptional stability and a foot-operated rudder for efficient steering. Rental rates vary depending on the size of the boat, ranging from a single hourly rate to a rate per person, per hour.

For more information contact Jeff or Joan Stanford, Stanford Inn by the Sea, (707) 937-5615 or (800) 331-8884, info@stanfordinn.com

The Philo Collective

The Philo Collective is an esteemed group of individuals located in the heart of Anderson Valley with the shared mission to showcase the best of the region through thoughtful events that stir the creative side in all realms of food, wine and the arts.

About The Madrones

Located in the Anderson Valley, The Madrones is the vision of designer and lifestyle entrepreneur Jim Roberts. The Mediterranean compound serves as a community outpost for local artisans; home to four vintners (Bink Wines, Drew Family Cellars, Knez Winery, and Signal Ridge), a rural lifestyle shop, a wood fired Pizzeria (Stone & Embers), several estate guest quarters, a culinary kitchen garden for local produce, serene courtyards and carefully manicured English gardens. The Madrones and its artisan partners have created the Anderson Valley definition of an Italian “Agriturismo”, a destination that offers a slice of localized country living with a focus on the region’s wine, food, arts and beauty. Located just outside of Philo, guests are welcome to visit the property and the four tasting rooms Thursday through Sunday from 10–5pm. Please visit the website for a list of seasonal events and classes held at the property or if you would like to make a reservation for one of Estate Guest Quarters.
Friend: TheMadrones  Follow: @themadrones www.themadrones.com, 707.895.2955

About Anderson Valley

Anderson Valley lies just north of the Russian River Valleys and is the vibrant heart of the County's renowned wine region. With a climate that is tempered by cool marine air, steep hills and mountains surround the picturesque valley floor.  The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, maintaining the community's authentic rural traditions.  World-class wines are produced in wineries scattered throughout the lush region.  Many people liken Anderson Valley to the Napa Valley of decades ago, when the crowds were thin, wine tastings were complimentary and winemakers were around to share the knowledge of their craft.
About the Mendocino Film Festival

Bringing the prestige of independent film to venues throughout Mendocino County while retaining the friendly small-town atmosphere that distinguishes it on the festival circuit, the Mendocino Film Festival offers international grandeur in an intimate setting, all with the dramatic natural beauty of the region’s unique terrain as a backdrop.  Now in its tenth year, the Mendocino Film Festival has been bringing independent film and international filmmakers to the coast since its inception; in recent years, the Festival has expanded to include venues throughout Mendocino County.  In 2014, the Mendocino Film Festival will present over 30 critically acclaimed feature-length films, two short film programs, and a Children’s Program, as well as discussion panels, special events, and filmmaker Q&As, from May 30th to June 1st.

Mendocino Village Named Preserve America Community

The town of Mendocino has been designated a Preserve America community, one of only 26 such communities in California. In an effort to earn this distinction, an application was put forth by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, the governing body of the unincorporated historic town. The application was coordinated by the Mendocino Study Club, as part of its ongoing “Service to the Community” for 100 years. During their 2008 Centennial, the Study Club helped to achieve this special Preserve America recognition with projects that celebrated local heritage, including a “Walking Historic Mendocino” map guide, linking the five House Museums of the Mendocino Coast. Preserve America is a White House initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.

For details contact Ruth Sparksks, Mendocino Study Club, (707) 616-5231, mendocinostudyclub@yahoo.com, www.mendocinocoast.com.

Where to Stay

Brewery Gulch Inn, located in Mendocino County

Perched high on a blufftop overlooking Smuggler’s Cove and the Pacific Ocean, the Brewery Gulch Inn is a one-of-a-kind bed-and-breakfast property that reigns cathedral-like over the dramatic Mendocino coast.

Constructed in 2001 from 150-year old redwood reclaimed from the nearby Big River, this architectural masterpiece is located on an historic piece of land that was once home to Mendocino’s first brewery. The “red gold” that defines the lodging property encircles the lobby in a kalidescope of blond, burgundy, and deep cinnamon panels patinaed by age and the elements. The salvaged wood can be found throughout the Inn, from the outside façade and numerous observations decks, to the soaring windows framing guests’ views of the Pacific Ocean. And anchoring the 15-foot cathedral ceiling in the Great Room is a stunning, four-sided glass-and-steel fireplace kept stoked and burning year-round.

“The Inn was designed to be a continuing surprise and revelation,” states owner Guy Pacurar. “As guests move from the intimate lobby into the Great Room, the ceiling height rises dramatically and two sets of 13-foot glass and redwood French doors provide guests access to our ocean-view redwood deck.”

With three extraordinary acres of mature pines and redwoods, wooded glens, wetland ponds, gardens, and a plethora of blooming rhododendrons, the property overwhelms your senses with the sights, smells and sounds of nature. Hummingbirds buzz and birds chatter outside your window. Deer, turkeys and other wildlife roam the meadow outside the Inn. In the distance, the mighty waves of the Pacific crash along the shore as you drift off to sleep.

The 10 romantic rooms– many with deep, two-person tubs and private decks – all look out over picture-perfect views of Smuggler’s Cove; while the Meadowview Suite, overlooking the meadow and woods behind the Inn, is the perfect accommodation for visiting families. Each of the rooms boasts soothing earth tones, feather beds cloaked in Sferra linens, state-of-the-art flat panel televisions, DVD players and iPod docks. And in the bath, Molton Brown and Asprey products, Himalayan bath salts and thick Abyss towels let residents know this is not your grandmother’s b&b.

While your body and mind are being cosseted by the Inn and its surroundings, the property’s full-time executive chef will tempt your taste buds with an extensive array of culinary offerings. Included with each stay is an order-off-the-menu, cooked-to-order breakfast, as well as an innovative dinner buffet, both of which focus on locally-sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible. Recent offerings on the seasonally-changing breakfast menu have included North Coast Eggs Benedict featuring housemade English muffins and an adobo hollandaise; a bacon, arugula, avocado and heirloom tomato breakfast salad over a slice of brioche, dressed with a lemon-basil vinaigrette; and an always-present side, the inn’s signature dish, Millionaire’s Bacon.

Recent evening entrees have featured Moroccan-spiced lamb; herb-marinated, grilled flank steak; vadouvan-rubbed, braised chicken; and hoisin-crisped Maple Leaf duck breast. Each evening’s offering is accompanied by four regional wines. Chef Peg Davis, a Michigan transplant who has practiced her craft in award-winning kitchens across the country, loves to showcase the bounty of Mendocino. Guests will frequently see regional favorites such as locally foraged mushrooms, Dungeness crab, and olallieberries featured on Chef Davis’ menu.

For those who aren’t quite comfortable with being completely off the grid, Wi-Fi access, satellite television and a 600+DVD collection of contemporary, classic, and foreign titles are all included with each stay. An on-site concierge service and a staff ready to assist each guest in whatever way possible makes a visit to Brewery Gulch Inn a truly memorable travel experience.

For more information, visit the Inn’s website at www.brewerygulchinn.com or call 800.578.4454.

Rustic Luxury Meets Culinary Artistry on California's Scenic North Coast -- Brewery Gulch Inn Offers Unique Travel Experience in a Serene, Natural Setting

Accolades

From the outset, Brewery Gulch Inn was conceived as an environmentally-conscious lodging property. In 2007, the Inn was recognized for their environmental efforts by their acceptance into the Green Hotels Association.

Additional recognitions include:

· AAA Four Diamonds Award (2003 – 2013)
· Bed and Breakfast Diamond Collection (2011-present)
· SFGate Best of the Bay – Best Wine Country Bed and Breakfast 2010
· TripAdvisor
o #1 of 25 Mendocino Inns (2009-present)
o Top 10 To-Die-For-Inns and B&Bs (2011)
o Certificate of Excellence Award (2012, 2013)

For more information, visit the Inn’s website at www.brewerygulchinn.com or call 800.578.4454

New Dog Trot Cottage in Mendocino County

Brand new to Mendocino County, Dog Trot cottage at Long Valley Ranch is an idyllic setting for the perfect retreat or secluded getaway—just two hours north of the Bay Area. Set on an 800-acre ranch only 10 minutes off Highway 101 near Ukiah, Long Valley Ranch offers three stunning houses that accommodate from two to eight persons plus canine companions. In addition to Dog Trot, Glass House and Haiku House are beautiful, dramatic modern properties, designed to bring the outdoors in with sweeping views and extensive windows. All properties are turnkey—including all linens, materials for building cozy fires, and full state-of-the-art kitchens with pots and pans. Dog Trot also has an outdoor soaking tub and fenced yard for pets.

For details contact Anne Bennett, (707) 895-3979, annepiney@yahoo.com, www.shsheepdung.com.

MacCullum House Restoration and Remodeling

MacCallum House is a collection of world-class properties all located in the historic and tranquil village of Mendocino. The Main Property, an 1882 Victorian, is a historic landmark. The dining room and cafe have been updated, maintaining the Victorian charm with its riverstone fireplaces but bringing a fresh, contemporary feel to the rooms. A recent acquisition is the historic Mendocino Village Inn, another stately 1882 mansion set on Main Street.

The first stage of an extensive remodel of the entire inn is nearing completion. Major restoration of three of the six accommodations in the barn on the Main Property has also recently been completed, providing elegant yet quintessential Mendocino lodging with views to the ocean and two acres of gardens. In addition, the vintage three-story water tower on the Main Property has been completely redone. Built in the late 1800s, the three-story tower has a working redwood tank on the very top and the original hand-dug well, 50 feet below, still produces water.

For more information contact Herman Seidell, MacCallum House Inn & Restaurant, (707) 937-0289, herman@maccallumhouse.com, www.maccallumhouse.com

MONTEREY COUNTY

Where to Stay

Portola Hotel & Spa Offers A Loyalty Program for Kids

Hotel loyalty programs are nothing new, but it's not often that a hotel offers a rewards program for kids. Portola Hotel & Spa is leading the way by launching a loyalty program for children—the Portola Pirates Program.

Portola Pirates is a complimentary program providing kids with a fun and educational experience. Children are greeted upon check-in with a pirate themed goodie bag that is complete with pirate-inspired toys and a scavenger hunt map to a hidden treasure. Portola Pirates was created to introduce children to Monterey's historically-rich culture and the program is inspired by Gaspar de Portola, the late 1700s Spanish explorer after which the hotel's surrounding area was named.

The Portola Pirates loyalty program offers additional rewards for returning guests. After children experience the Portola Pirates scavenger hunt during their first visit, families will receive complimentary tickets for two children to visit My Museum, a hands-on museum offering a variety of exhibits and activities for young children to explore. During a third visit, families receive a complimentary Portola Pirate t-shirt or sweatshirt. On a fourth visit, Portola Pirate sleeping bags are provided at check-in for children to use throughout their stay and bring home. After a fifth visit, the last leg of the adventure, children win the All-Nighter Pirate Party. Kids can invite up to 10 of their friends under the age of 12 to enjoy this "suite" sleepover (parent supervision required). This experience includes a pirate-themed kids snack buffet, Wii game and other fun amenities. Two connecting guest rooms are available for chaperones.

"We are very excited to offer the Portola Pirates Program to our guests," said Janine Chicourrat, general manager of Portola Hotel & Spa. "Our goal with this program is not only to enlighten children visiting with parents from out of town about Monterey's rich, cultural history, but local children from the Monterey area as well. We believe this program also serves as a great option for birthday parties and educational field trips for local kids, parents, schools, and organizations."

Portola’s Jacks Restaurant and Peter B's Brewpub offer an exciting Portola Pirates Kid's Menu with pirate-inspired items such as MacAAAARRRoni and Cheese, Captain Jack's Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Black Beard Pasta and Portola Barnacle Burger. All items are served with a choice of Scallywag Fries or a Jolly Roger Fruit Cup and a Landlubber Root Beer Float or Matey Scoop of Ice Cream. Each item on the Portola Pirates menu costs $4.99 and includes a beverage choice of lemonade, milk, juice, or soda.

Portola Pirates is offered year-round to any and all children up to age 12. For local parents, schools and educational organizations interested in the Portola Pirates children's program for birthday parties, educational groups, or field trips, please call (831) 649-4511 and ask for Sales.

Guests can book the last voyage - The All-Nighter Pirate Party - by calling reservations directly at (800) 342-4295.

Portola Hotel & Spa Offers High-Valued Golfer’s and Wine Lovers Packages

The Portola Hotel and Spa invites you to getaway with exclusive package deals to enjoy some of the world’s greatest golf courses and relax with a glass of wine. This hotel is offering special packages to golf and wine enthusiasts to indulge in what they enjoy most.

These travel deals include newly renovated guestrooms as well as several complimentary specials. The newly offered packages will be available through the end of the year. Guests have the options of two choices that will fulfill their time at this beautiful hotel.

Golfer’s Paradise Package:
The Monterey Peninsula is home to some of the world’s best golf! Whether you are an experienced player or just a beginner, the Portola Hotel & Spa invites you for a dream getaway. Present your receipt for playing nine or 18 holes from ANY local course and instantly receive $50 off your Portola Hotel & Spa stay. 

A favorite among golf enthusiasts, the Portola Hotel & Spa has ample space to securely store your clubs and our concierge will be more than happy to find the perfect course, book your tee times and make any necessary transportation arrangements. End the day at any one of our on-site venues to enjoy your favorite beverage, relax with friends, re-live your best shots of the day and prepare for the ones you’ll have tomorrow.

Package includes:

Newly renovated, elegantly appointed guest room
Warm homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival
Complimentary beer tasting flight, appetizer and souvenir growler from Peter B’s Brewpub
Outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas and Jacuzzi
Recently renovated fitness center
Two $75 coupons to play Del Monte Golf Course, the oldest course west of the Mississippi and owned by Pebble Beach Resorts.

Wine Lovers Package:

More grapes are grown in Monterey County that any other region in California, even Napa. Experience world-class wines grown and bottled right in Monterey County with the Wine Lovers Package

Start the day with breakfast at Jack’s Restaurant followed by an open-aired Wine Trolley that will tour some of the area’s finest local boutique wineries. The Wine Trolley will introduce you to five tasting rooms. Celebrate the end of the day on Portola’s outdoor heated patio at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge.

Package includes:

One night stay in a newly renovated, elegantly appointed guest room
A warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival
Wine Trolley tickets for two, a 5 hour tour & 5 tasting venues
Breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant
Complimentary corkage fee at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge
Access to the outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas and Jacuzzi
Access to the state of the art fitness center

About Portola Hotel & Spa:
Portola Hotel & Spa is Monterey's first and only Silver LEED® EB certified hotel and recently earned AAA Four Diamond Rating. The full-service hotel offers guests a rich, historical ambiance, with residential style and a dedicated staff to ensure an unparalleled guest experience. The hotel features 379 newly renovated guest rooms, including 10 suites, ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet.
Inspired by the Monterey Peninsula's surrounding landscape and nautical heritage, all guest rooms feature elegant wood furnishings, large bathrooms with separate vanity areas, white shuttered windows. Many guest rooms offer private balconies with ocean, garden terrace or pool views. In compliance with LEED requirements, all guest rooms are non-smoking.
Portola Hotel & Spa is home to Jacks Restaurant and Lounge and Peter B's BrewPub, the Monterey Peninsula's only craft brewery. In addition, overnight guests have access to the hotel's spa and fitness facilities, complete with steam room, sauna, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The newly renovated 6,000-square-foot Spa on the Plaza offers 10 treatment rooms and an extensive spa menu of signature treatments.
Portola Hotel & Spa offers 25 separate conference/banquet rooms, full-service event technology, catering and outdoor function space. With 50,000 square feet of flexible indoor and 60,000 square feet of outside meeting space, the Monterey Conference Center is the largest conference center on the central coast of California.

For more information, visit web site www.portolahotel.com

Portola Hotel & Spa Offers the Girlfriends Spa Getaway Package

Located on the Monterey Bay waterfront near Fisherman's Wharf, Portola Hotel & Spa is offering the Girlfriends Spa Getaway Package. This offer provides guests with an opportunity to relax in the serene surroundings of the Monterey Peninsula while enjoying newly renovated and elegantly appointed rooms and suites.

Portola Hotel & Spa, one of central California's premier coastal destinations for a rejuvenating and tranquil escape, just announced their Girlfriends Spa Getaway Package. For a limited time guests will take pleasure in an abundance of exclusive accommodations, eco-friendly amenities and services to enhance their hotel on the beautiful Monterey Bay.

Take advantage of coastal living at its best, while enjoying world-class spa treatments and a peaceful environment at our newly renovated Spa on the Plaza. Guests who book the Girlfriends Getaway Package will be greeted by spacious and attractively furnished newly renovated guest rooms featuring breathtaking views of the city, garden terrace or bay. After unwinding with your choice of two relaxing 50 minute symphony massages or two 50 minute designer facials, end this blissful spa-day by revitalizing your mind and body with a complimentary steam and sauna. To top it all off, treat yourself to a complimentary bottle of California Sparkling Wine delivered to your room upon check-in. Rise refreshed and enjoy a complimentary breakfast for two, delivered right to your door or you may choose to enjoy breakfast in the delightful atmosphere of Jacks Restaurant.

Indulge, rejuvenate and relax at the Portola Hotel & Spa. Discover the quaint and quiet views of Monterey Bay or feel free to explore the local area at your own pace. Located near the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey State Beaches, Monterey State Historic Park and more, Portola Hotel & Spa is perfectly situated for relaxing leisure travel. The unique location of Portola Hotel & Spa opens up a world of options: Monterey with its historic buildings and Spanish Adobes, Picturesque Pebble Beach, the 17-Mile Drive and more.

Book the Girlfriends Getaway Package and enjoy exclusive accommodations and added value at the Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay.


For more information, visit web site www.portolahotel.com

What to See & Do

Whale Watching        

Nutrient-rich and naturally wonderful, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the United States’ largest protected region and a prime viewing area for exotic species including blue, humpback, minke and orca whales. Winter delivers the magnificent California Gray Whales on their annual migration south from Alaska to Baja, California.

www.seemonterey.com/whale-watching; 831-375-4658, 831-372-7440, 831-372-2203

Whale Watching at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Weekends throughout January):
Don’t miss these California State Parks ranger-guided whale watching presentations. Celebrate the migration of the California gray whales off the Big Sur Coast. Meet at the vista point on Highway 1 at mile marker 37, just north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. www.seemonterey.com/julia-pfeiffer-burns-state-park; 831-667-2315

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

A feast for the eyes, hundreds – sometimes thousands – of beautiful Monarch butterflies flutter in this protected shelter of eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees. Docents are available to answer questions and point out the ‘hanging butterflies’ as they rest camouflaged in the trees. www.seemonterey.com/monarchgrovesanctuary; 831-648-5716

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

Before a visit to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary stop by this informative natural history museum to learn about the migration patterns of the wintering Monarchs, whales of Monterey Bay and other mammals, birds and wildlife of Monterey County.www.seemonterey.com/pacificgrovemuseum; 831-648-5716

Bald Eagles Retreat at Lake San Antonio

One of the largest winter habitats for bald eagles in Central California, Lake San Antonio is also home to deer, rabbit, quail, and a variety of other wildlife. The lake covers 5,000 acres and birders can explore 40 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails and 60 miles of shoreline. www.seemonterey.com/lake-san-antonio-recreation-area-california; 888-588-2267

Ventana Wildlife Society

High tail it to Big Sur or the Pinnacles National Monument for a glimpse of the majestic California Condors overhead. Both parks are successful designated release areas for the recovering native species. Or, visit the Ornithology Lab at Andrew Molera Park in Big Sur to watch bird banding activities. Winter banding is weather dependent, but normally takes place on Mondays and TuesdaysFor more information check ventanawildilfesociety or call 831-455-9514

Pt. Lobos State Reserve
Hike the scenic trails of the 554-acre state preserve, home to some of the region’s most dramatic seascapes and thousands of seabirds, seals, sea lions and migrating whales. Noted as “The crown jewel of the state park system,” Point Lobos is also home to the only two naturally growing strands of Monterey Cypress trees. See wandering deer, watch sea otters and sea lions frolic in the surf. Cypress groves, Bird Rock and Whaler’s Cove round out the adventure. www.seemonterey.com/point-lobos-state-natural-reserve-carmel-california; 831-624-4909

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Dive in for a day of play at the nation’s top-rated aquarium, home to 250,000+ animals and plants representing more than 550 species of invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and plants. Book a Morning Rounds: Behind-the-Scenes Tour for a rare opportunity to interact with the aquarium’s exhibit animals as an aquarist would with the daily sea otter feeding and training session, rare look at food preparation and chance to feed some of the animals in the aquarium’s Discovery Lab classrooms. www.seemonterey.com/monterey-bay-aquarium; 831-648-4888

Elkhorn Slough Safari
All aboard this thrilling pontoon ride scouting some 1,400 acres established as a Globally Important Bird Area. Reaching nearly seven miles inland from the coast, the slough’s freshwater wetlands and marshes are home to some 340+ types of birds, 400 plant species a full raft of otters and 80 species of fish. This is an excellent tour for birders. www.seemonterey.com/elkhorn-slough-natural-estuarine-reserve-moss-landing-california; 831-633-5555

Sea Kayaking, Surfing, Biking
Rock the boat aboard a guided sea kayak tour of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Adventurers after a true adrenalin rush can hit the surf solo or take to the two-person kayak for a little speed at sea program. Surf lessons stand up paddling and biking rental/tours along the popular waterfront Recreation Trail round out the offer. members.seemonterey.com/adventuresbythesea/; 831-372-1807

Sailing the Bay
Take the helm aboard a yacht and delve into the deep under the command of one of the region’s top captains. Abundant marine mammals and avians await the avid enthusiast. members.seemonterey.com/montereybaysailing/; 831-372-7245

Carmel Walks (Ongoing):
Discover the unique charms of Carmel on a two-hour guided walking tour through secret pathways, hidden courtyards, award-winning gardens and enchanting fairytale cottages...the homes, haunts, and history of famous artists, writers, and movie stars. members.seemonterey.com/carmelwalks/; 831-642-2700

VISITOR INFO

Monterey County is located 120 miles/192 km south of San Francisco and 345 miles/552 km north of Los Angeles along the classic California corridor. The region boasts 99 miles of prime Pacific Coastline, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, three historic missions, 40,000 acres of premium vineyards, 25 golf courses and nearly 200 lodging properties. Monterey County includes the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur, North County and the Salinas Valley. The Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY), just three miles from historic downtown Monterey and minutes from the area’s major attractions, is served by non-stop flights to and from Denver (DIA), Las Vegas (LAS), Long Beach (LGB), Ontario (ONT), Phoenix (PHX), Los Angeles (LAX and ONT), San Diego (SAN) and San Francisco (SFO). www.SeeMonterey.com.

For more information contact the Monterey County CVB, P.O. Box 1770, Monterey, CA 93942 United States

Seafood Watch Program

Seafood Watch is a program created by Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. Maui Ocean Center has partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to create Seafood Watch Sustainable Seafood Guide Hawaii 2008, a card which empowers consumers and businesses with the right information to make choices for healthy oceans. The card categorizes fish as a best choice, good alternative, or one to avoid altogether. More information about sustainable seafood and Seafood Watch are available on the website www.seafoodwatch.org.

Monterey County Youth Museum Has New Location and Look

Located at 425 Washington Street in Monterey, this 8,000-square-foot building includes the Museum’s signature exhibit, the ImagiTree, standing tall in the center of the building. This towering tree is home to many activities inside, outside and up in the branches. Visitors can also enjoy other exhibits including “Day at the Beach,” “Go-Fore Golf,” “Healthy Farm,” “Theater” and “Creation Station.” The expansion and move allows MY Museum to better serve the community and visitors. It is centrally located in downtown Monterey, near other family-friendly activities such as the Monterey City Sports Center, Dennis the Menace Park and much more. In addition to more exhibit space, the new Museum has two rooms for parties and programs. The museum is open Monday through Saturday 10–5 (closed on Wednesday) and 12–5 on Sunday.
For details contact MY Museum, (831) 649-6444, wwww.mymuseum.org.

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM OPENED SEAHORSE EXHIBITION

Explore the wonders of our ocean planet in nearly 200 galleries and exhibits at one of the world’s finest aquariums. Highlights include

a million-gallon indoor ocean with giant bluefin tuna,

ocean sunfish, sharks, mahi-mahi, stingrays and barracuda;

plus the largest jellyfish collection anywhere.

Other permanent exhibits include a two-story exhibit of playful sea otters,

a towering three-story kelp forest,

and the Ocean’s Edge galleries – a dramatic renovation of the aquarium’s original coastal exhibits that opened in 2005. Highlights of Ocean’s Edge include exhibits of large sharks and schooling fishes; a gallery devoted to the giant Pacific octopus; a walk-through wave crash tunnel; a naturalistic coastal wetlands gallery and shorebird aviary; and the award-winning Splash Zone family gallery with penguins, sea dragons and other engaging marine animals.

Visit www.montereybayaquarium.org for an exciting preview of aquarium exhibits and programs.

THE SECRET LIVES OF SEAHORSES” NEW SPECIAL EXHIBITION:

Just one look at seahorses and it’s easy to see why they fascinate people. With a head like a horse, a snout like an aardvark, a belly pouch like a kangaroo, a prehensile tail like a monkey and the ability to change colors like a chameleon, seahorses are not your average fishes. A new, multimedia special exhibition at the nation’s No. 1 family aquarium will share the intriguing stories about seahorses, seahorse relatives and their habitats, as well as the threats they face in the wild. Included with regular aquarium admission.

“SPLASH ZONE: OCEAN HOMES”:

The revitalized and expanded Splash Zone: Ocean Homes – which re-opened on March 17, 2008 – doubles the area families with children can play and learn about the ocean. Over 45 new and improved bilingual interactive exhibits, activities and games allow kids and families to dive deeper into the diverse habits of the kelp forest. Features new live animal exhibits, from weedy and leafy sea dragons to pharaoh cuttlefish and potbellied seahorses. Highlights in the “Coral Reef Kingdom,” “Rugged Rocky Shore” and “Enchanted Kelp Forest” galleries include a larger and more immersive touch pool, crawl-through coral and kelp forest exhibits, a walkthrough kelp forest tunnel and larger penguin exhibit.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

"AQUARIUM ADVENTURES” TAKE VISITORS DEEPER INTO THE WONDERS OF MONTEREY BAY

Behind-the-scenes tours, sailing, SCUBA offer in-depth ocean experiences

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, special activities offer great ways for adults, children and families to experience the wonders of the ocean. Visitors can go behind-the-scenes with aquarium experts, take part in a sailing excursion aboard a 65-foot research vessel, put their kids in SCUBA gear for a diver’s-eye view of marine life, feed an abalone or a sea urchin, scoop plankton from the bay using the same tools as scientists, and discover where “Doc” Ricketts set up his laboratory on Cannery Row.

All that and more are part of the many exciting “Aquarium Adventures” programs available. A full schedule of all Aquarium Adventures is available online at www.montereybayaquarium.org/adventures.

Behind-the-scenes tours, offered several times daily throughout the year, give visitors an inside look at the nation’s No. 1 aquarium. Each 50-minute tour is different, depending on what’s happening that day. All tours will show what it takes to care for animals and exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and will occasionally include an opportunity to feed the fish. Headsets provide additional information during the dynamic tour. Tour times vary daily and cost $12 for the general public, $10 for members, plus aquarium admission.

“Sailing Adventures” expeditions for some sailing aboard the eco-friendly Derek M. Baylis, a 65-foot research sailboat. Visitors can choose among three distinct Sailing Adventures. During “Day Sails” visitors work alongside aquarium naturalists gathering plankton, observe seafloor animals and learn about the intricate Monterey Bay ecosystem. Each participant will take a turn at the helm, steering the boat and learning about navigation and sailing, while fellow sailors keep an eye out for migrating whales, rafts of otters and pods of dolphins

On summer evenings, “Sunset Sails” participants will relax on the elegant ship while sipping wine, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and watching the bay come to life as evening approaches. Seals, sea lions, otters, dolphins and whales are common in Monterey Bay. Sunset Sails begin on May 9 and cost $45 for aquarium members and $55 for the general public.

For a custom adventure, visitors can charter the Derek M. Baylis and its captain for a three-hour sailing adventure with up to 20 friends. “Charter Sails” cost $1,180 and are by appointment only.

“Morning Rounds” behind-the-scenes feeding tours and “Fishing for History” Cannery Row walking tours happen on select days year round.

Regular aquarium admission is $29.95 adult; $27.95 senior (65+) and student (full-time college, with I.D.); and $17.95 children 3-12 and the disabled. Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Discounted tickets for members of the military and their families can be purchased in advance at many California and Nevada installations.
The aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in summer months and holidays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and extended hours until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays July 4 through September 6.

AQUARIUM ADVENTURES PROGRAMS

Morning Rounds: Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Most Thursdays and Sundays, all year round  

Time: 8:15 to 10:30 a.m.
Ages: 8 and older, under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult
Fee: $45 per member; $65 per general public, plus aquarium admission
Join us for a rare opportunity to interact with our exhibit animals as an aquarist would. The 2-hour morning tour includes a private viewing of a sea otter feeding and training session. Then you’ll go behind the scenes on “morning rounds” and help prepare food, feed animals and learn daily maintenance for exhibits.

Fishing for History: A Cannery Row Walking Tour
All year round: By appointment only, minimum group of 6
Time: By request
Ages: 10 and older; under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult Fee: $16 per member; $20 per general public, plus aquarium admission Past and present meet as we journey from the early days of Monterey’s native Rumsien/Ohlone people through the boom times that made Monterey the “Sardine Capital of the World.” Along the way we’ll share stories of the diverse communities and early marine scientists who contributed to the rich culture of Cannery Row. Our guided tour starts with the historic cannery exhibits at the aquarium then leads you on a walk along Cannery Row to the Maritime Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. The program is co-sponsored by the Monterey Maritime and History Museum.

Visit www.montereybayaquarium.org for more information.

AUDITORIUM PROGRAMS: Programs featuring high-definition video footage play daily in the aquarium’s 250-seat auditorium; included with admission. Topics include jellyfish, otters, the deep sea, sharks – including the story of the aquarium’s great white sharks – and other fascinating species and conservation issues.

ADMISSION: All exhibits and programs included with aquarium admission – $29.95 adult; $27.95 senior (over 65) and student (full-time college, with I.D.); $17.95 children and the disabled; under 3 free (admission prices subject to change).

Located at 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, California. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; summer and holiday hours 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; summer weekends, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information: (831) 648-4888. Advance tickets: online at www.montereybayaquarium.org or by phone, (800) 756-3737. Discounted tickets for members of the military and their families can be purchased in advance at many California and Nevada installations.

In the “Getting Together” gallery, visitors learn that birds are not the only animals that woo mates with fancy dancing. Seahorses, sea dragons, pipehorses and pipefish engage in elaborate courtship rituals before they mate – sometimes lasting for three days.
Each morning during the breeding season a seahorse pair greets and signals interest in each other by displaying bright colors, intertwining tails, twirling around and promenading side by side. If the pair finally decides to mate, they’ll join together and rise in the water column as the female deposits her eggs into the male’s brood pouch where they are fertilized. The “Getting Together” gallery also features an animated film of this courtship ritual.

Competition is fierce among one seahorse species found in this gallery; male potbelly seahorses are known to fight over mates. The third smallest seahorse species, the dwarf seahorse, along with California’s only seahorse species, the Pacific seahorse, and the vibrantly colored banded pipefish are other animals featured in the “Getting Together” gallery.

In this gallery, visitors can send an electronic postcard to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to support the creation of marine protected areas in southern California waters, which are home to the Pacific seahorse, as well as five pipefish species.
Perhaps what most distinguishes seahorses from the rest of the animal kingdom is their unique life history – the males become pregnant and give birth. Tiled murals in the “Giving Birth” gallery highlight three different parenting strategies used by seahorses and their relatives. While male sea dragons and pipefish carry their young on a specialized brood patch on the abdomen or the tail, only seahorses have a fully enclosed brood pouch. In this gallery, visitors can find the longsnout and shortsnout seahorse species, along with a mangrove community that’s home to yellow seahorses and alligator pipefish.

Toward the end of the exhibition, visitors can pick up an educational card that details the problems with the curio trade and presents alternatives to buying dried seahorses in souvenir shops. And to commemorate their visit, they can take a photo alongside a five-foot tall sculpture of a pregnant male longsnout seahorse.

To “walk the talk” about seahorse conservation, Monterey Bay Aquarium is either breeding seahorses for the exhibit onsite, or acquiring animals from accredited institutions or licensed dealers who adhere to best conservation practices.
Spanish-speaking visitors will find bilingual signage and video captions throughout “The Secret Lives of Seahorses.”

“The Secret Lives of Seahorses” is included with regular aquarium admission of $29.95 adult; $27.95 senior (65+) and student (full-time college, with I.D.); and $20.95 children 3-12 and the disabled. ( rates subject to change) Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Discounted tickets for members of the military and their families can be purchased in advance at many California and Nevada installations.

The aquarium is located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and in summer and major holiday periods from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Christmas Day). Summer hours include extended weekend hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. More information about “The Secret Lives of Seahorses” and the aquarium in general is available online www.montereybayaquarium.org or by calling (831) 648-4888. Advance tickets can be purchased online or by phone from the aquarium at 1-800-756-3737. Seasonal specials, details about special events and programs, family activities and live web cams can all be found online at www.montereybayaquarium.org.

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.

Fishing for History: A Cannery Row Walking Tour

First Sunday of each month
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Ages: 10 and older; under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult
Fee: $16 per member; $20 per general public, plus aquarium admission

Past and present meet as we journey from the days of Monterey’s native Rumsien/Ohlone people through the boom times that made Monterey the “Sardine Capital of the World.” Along the way we’ll share stories of the diverse communities and early marine scientists who contributed to the rich culture of Cannery Row. Our guided tour starts with the historic cannery exhibits at the aquarium then leads you on a gentle walk along Cannery Row to the Maritime Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. The program is co-sponsored by the Monterey Maritime and History Museum. 

NEW PERMANENT EXHIBIT : “Mission to the Deep: Exploring the Ocean with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute,” highlights the research and technology of the Aquarium’s sister institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI); features interactive displays that simulate the control room of an MBARI research ship at which visitors can pilot three types of underwater robots on one of three “missions” to explore extreme ocean depths.

NEW DAILY PROGRAMS: A new 15-minute live program occurs daily at 2 p.m. where visitors can meet the only Laysan albatross (an oceanic seabird) at any U.S. zoo or aquarium and learn about the threats facing seabirds and what individuals can do to ensure the survival of these beautiful birds.

BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: Visitors can purchase aquarium tickets online on the aquarium’s web site – www.montereybayaquarium.org – without waiting in line. There’s no additional charge to print the tickets at home or pick them up at the aquarium’s will-call box office, and only a small fee if the tickets are mailed.

AUDITORIUM PROGRAMS: Daily programs include “You Otter Know,” an auditorium program in a lively game-show format that introduces visitors to the lives and adaptations of sea otters and freshwater otters. Audience members participate as contestants in this 20-minute program. “The One Degree Factor,” a 15-minute program that looks at the effects climate change is having on the world and what individuals can do to make a difference. “Jellies,” a 15-minute question-and-answer presentation about these fascinating and delicate drifters; “Exploring Monterey Canyon,” a 15-minute program with live video of deep-sea explorations; and “Empty Oceans, Empty Nets,” which examines the destructive effects of overfishing. Ongoing; beginning at 11 a.m. daily. Included with aquarium admission; passes are distributed inside the aquarium.

Most Aquarium Adventures programs run through September; some are offered year-round. Costs vary per program; aquarium members receive a discount. Visit www.montereybayaquarium.org/adventures for program details, previews and tickets (a detailed list of Aquarium Adventures is included below). Advance registration is recommended; register by calling 866-963-9645 or stop by the Aquarium Adventures Desk or Member Desk in the main lobby of the aquarium.

Regular aquarium admission is $29.95 adult; $27.95 senior (65+) and student (full-time college, with I.D.); and $17.95 children 3-12 and the disabled. Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Discounted tickets for members of the military and their families can be purchased in advance at many California and Nevada installations.

The aquarium is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer months and extended hours until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through September 5.
In 2010 the Monterey Bay Aquarium celebrates more than 25 years of inspiring ocean conservation.

Fairmont Hotel Coming to Seaside

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Seaside Resort Development, LLC are pleasedto announce a new luxury mixed-use development in Seaside on the Monterey
Bay in Northern California. Fairmont will manage the resort, scheduled to open
in 2009. The hotel will feature 330 rooms and suites, of which 160 will be
situated in bungalows secluded amongst the trees, 24,000 square feet of
meeting space, a 14,000 square-foot Willow Stream spa, dining outlets, an
outdoor pool and the existing 36-hole championship Bayonet and Black Horse
golf course facility that the property will manage. In addition, a residential
component is planned with 170 condominiums and 125 single-family lots.

For more information, call 212-715-7098 or e-mail lori.holland@fairmont.com

Hyatt Regency Montery Renovation Planned

The Hyatt Regency Monterey recently commenced a $40 million renovation
project scheduled for completion in early 2008. Upon the property's
transformation, it will proudly become Hyatt Regency Monterey on Del Monte
Golf Course Resort and Spa. The new Hyatt Regency Monterey -- the only
hotel in the city of Monterey located adjacent to a golf course - will remain
the largest hotel between the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. It will
feature a stunning new full-service spa and world-class amenities for guests'
enjoyment. Highlights of the renovation also include luxurious guestrooms
outfitted with new elegant furnishings and modern amenities, a new signature
restaurant, and upgraded on-site activities.

For more linformation, call 831-647-2001 or e-mail tstatz@hyatt.com

MONTECITO

San Ysidro Ranch, The Kennedy Cottage at a Rosewood Resort Reclaims its Place as one of California's Most Exclusive Retreats

California’s treasured sanctuary of nature and tranquility tucked away in the lush Montecito foothills, San Ysidro Ranch, A Rosewood Resort, has announced the reopening of its most beloved and famous accommodation - the Kennedy Cottage. As part of the resort’s $150 million renovation and named for its most celebrated honeymooners, John and Jackie Kennedy, the Kennedy Cottage has been luxuriously restored to become one of the most exclusive and lavish retreats in California.

Beautifully decorated with a mix of casual American country and Asian accents, the two- bedroom, two-bathroom 1200 square-foot sanctuary is both elegant and private. Carefully selected antiques were handpicked from the world travels of the resort’s owner, Ty Warner. Other touches include flat screen TVs, three fireplaces throughout the cottage and a photograph of the Kennedys, taken during their honeymoon visit, which hangs in the living room. Luxury surfaces of the cottage exterior include copper rooftops and rain spouts while a 500 square-foot stone terrace boasts an outdoor rain shower and a six-person sunken spa – with both ocean and mountain views. A gated front entrance and private courtyard also provide an additional intimate setting for guests. French oak flooring covers the living room and bedrooms while the bathrooms have radiant heated ceramic tile floors. New details of the twin master suite baths also include dual pedestal sinks, polished-nickel fixtures, classic claw foot tubs and separate glass-door showers.

After a yearlong restoration, reservations for the cottage that once hosted American royalty, demonstrated by the guest register signed by John F. Kennedy, can be made at 800.368.6788 beginning at $2,990 a night.

With a rich history encompassing nostalgia, romance and tales of Old California, San Ysidro Ranch stands alone as a historical state landmark. Originally part of land titled in 1769 by the King of Spain, it later served as a way station for Franciscan monks in the late 1700s and then was used as a working citrus ranch in the 1800s. The 1800s saw a progression of development at the Ranch leading to the opening of its doors in 1893. Known for its idyllic setting, personalized service and guarding of guest privacy, the Ranch has attracted celebrities and luminaries from around the world including Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx to Winston Churchill, Somerset Maugham and Sinclair Lewis. Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were among those married at the Ranch. In addition, John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned there and John Huston completed the script for African Queen during a three-month stay.

San Ysidro Ranch is part of Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, LLC, which was founded by entrepreneur Ty Warner, the multi-billionaire who is committed to making the best hotels, resorts and golf courses in the world even better. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts joins a team of world-class architects, designers, and other visionaries helping Ty Warner Hotels set a new standard for luxury, making them the ultimate destinations for individuals who are as demanding as Ty Warner himself.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts manages properties worldwide including The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas, The Carlyle in New York, CordeValle in San Martin, California, Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, Las Ventanas al Paraíso in Los Cabos, Mexico, Hotel Seiyo Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, and a triumvirate of world-class Caribbean properties - Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, Caneel Bay on St. John and Jumby Bay on Antigua.

For more information on Rosewood Hotels & Resorts or to make a reservation, please call 888.ROSEWOOD or visit www.rosewoodhotels.com

MOUNT SHASTA

Mt. Shasta Ski Park Offers Visitors New Upgrades

Mt. Shasta Ski Park will introduce thousands of powder enthusiasts to four new ungroomed runs. The runs offer a cutback trail to the Douglas lift. Once you have made your way up the hill, you can take advantage of the brand new terrace deck Black Diamond Grill overlooking the park’s bustling activity. The deck is nestled between Black Fox and Red Tail runs and offers barbeque and beverages. Among routine maintenance and technological updates, the ski park has installed a computer drive in the Coyote lift and a new cable for the Marmot lift.

For more information contact Jason Young, Mt. Shasta Ski Park (530) 926-8665, www.mtshastaskipark.com.

NAPA VALLEY

What to See & Do

Sunday Funday at Silverado

The weekend isn't over yet!  Come join us for Sunday Funday and keep the fun going.  Arrive on a Sunday and enjoy the following:

• Overnight accommodations with arrival on Sunday
• Breakfast for two each morning in The Grill
• Free golf after 2pm on Sunday
• 20% off at the spa after 2pm on Sunday only
• Late check-out at 1pm (based on availability)

Frys.com Golf Packages
Guests will enjoy the convenience and exclusivity of staying in the heart of the action where the first men's PGA tournament of the season will take place outside your door.

Cabernet Season
We celebrate Cabernet Season, the time from late November through March when the pace is slower, and visitors enjoy easy access to the region's best wine, food, arts and wellness experiences. 

Fall Crush
Harvest time......Crush season is in full swing in September and there is no better way to experience this magical time in the Napa Valley than with our Fall Crush Package  

Silverado Social
Looking for all the latest scoop from our social channels then join the conversation and connect with The Silverado Resort and Spa.   Learn about upcoming special events, exclusive giveaways or see how other guests have fun at our resort. 

Upcoming Events

Flavor! Napa Valley
Journey through the flavors of Napa Valley during the FLAVOR! Napa Valley: A Celebration of Food, Wine and Fun Nov 19-23. Each package includes 25% savings off our Best Available Rate, $25 resort credit per night, Before you depart each morning, enjoy "Wine Tasting and Education" with our Certified Sommelier, and Certified Specialist of Wine, Two for one wine tastings at three Napa Valley Wineries and  Wine Journal to record your tasting experiences and the Food Lover's Guide to Napa Valley to ensure you leave no culinary stone unturned during your visit  

Napa Valley Film Festival
Indulge in the celebration of film, food and wine during the Napa Valley Film Festival. Add even more glamour to the experience by staying at the historic Silverado Resort and Spa. Enjoy 25% off our best rates, $25 daily resort credit and the iconic Bottle Shock DVD.    
Silverado Gift Cards
 
The next best thing to staying at the Silverado Resort and Spa is a gift card from Silverado Resort and Spa. From Spa goers and golfers to foodies and fashionistas, we have something for everyone.

For more information contact Silverado Resort and Spa, 1600 Atlas Peak Road Napa, CA 94558

HALL Wines Earns Distinctive Gold LEED® Certification
Officially First Winery in State of California to Reach Gold LEED® Certification Status

HALL Wines, the premier 21st century vineyard and winery, has announced that it has received the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification for its Napa Valley St. Helena winery, becoming the first winery in California to be distinguished as a Gold certified facility by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating System™.

The HALL St. Helena LEED® certified winery is one of most advanced wineries in California, with state-of-the-art facilities designed for ultra-premium wine production. LEED® is an internationally recognized certification system that measures a building or community’s performance across all environmental metrics including energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Owner and Vintner of HALL Wines, Kathryn Hall, and President Mike Reynolds, made it their long-term mission to become the leader in earth-friendly California winegrowing, resulting in the design of their new St. Helena facility in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system.

To meet the precise requirements to become Gold LEED® certified, HALL has included many sustainable design elements and practices including:

·         Radiant Floors Allowing for Precision Winemaking and Maximum Energy Efficiency – Radiant flooring allows HALL to control the facility’s temperature while conserving energy. This technology, accomplished by running cold or warm water through the floor slab, provides an energy efficient and stable storage and production environment.

·         Solar Energy – The sun provides more than 35 percent of the energy needed to power HALL St. Helena. Solar photovoltaic cells (solar panels) on the roof tops of the barrel cellar and fermentation building convert sunlight directly into electricity. Approximately 42,000 square feet of solar panels span the St. Helena winery roofs.

·         Local Building Materials – More than 10 percent of materials used to build the facility were extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured, within 500 miles of the project site.

·         Recycled Building Materials – More than 10 percent of the materials used were made with recycled content.

Water Conservation – Drought tolerant plants were selected for the winery landscaping which will reduce the demand for irrigation by more than 50 percent.  In conjunction with this, all of the landscaping and vineyards are irrigated with recycled water. A 40 percent reduction of building water has also been achieved through the use of low-flow water outlets without compromising performance.

HALL extends their environmental responsibilities to their general operations by recycling and using recycled materials whenever possible in their offices as well as shipping direct-to-consumer wine in recyclable packaging. Additionally the Hall’s own nearly 500 planted acres in Napa and Sonoma counties which are organically farmed and scheduled to be certified organic within the next year.

HALL wines are distributed in major markets throughout the U.S. The Halls have a second winemaking facility in Napa Valley, HALL Rutherford, which was completed in 2005. Additional information is available at www.hallwines.com/leed-media.

Where to Eat

Go Fish - Cindy's Pawlcyn’s West Coast Fish House - Offers New Outdoor Amenities and Entertainment

Cindy Pawlcyn, Sean Knight and Ken Tominaga, partners in Go Fish, Napa Valley’s only fish house located in St. Helena, announces new additions to the restaurant’s outdoor dining area and bar.

The outdoor experience will include weekly acoustic contemporary and blues music every Thursday night, a flat panel television set for the bar and a misting system to keep patrons cool.

From its start, Pawlcyn, the pioneering Napa Valley restaurateur who also owns the venerable Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, envisioned Go Fish as a classic West Coast fish house with a few twists, including a San Francisco-inspired raw bar, classic sushi bar and a comfortable yet elegant outdoor watering hole that lets locals and visitors alike drink and dine alfresco in true Wine Country style.

Famed Napa Valley architect Howard Backen of Backen Gillam Architects, helped Pawlcyn and partners realize this vision by enlarging the original patio, which now features seating for 100 and one of Napa Valley’s largest outdoor restaurant bars.

Shaded by two large canvas awnings and the leafy branches of four mature mulberry trees, the patio’s teak and marble-topped tables accommodate groups of all sizes, from cozy twosomes to parties of 10 or more. The patio’s focal points include a large stone fireplace and the six-seat Carrera marble bar, which features a stainless steel back-bar, subtle lighting and oversized mirrors.

The restaurant’s crisp light and dark blue color scheme is echoed throughout the patio’s décor, from the long dark blue pillow-backed banquette to the light blue awning stripe and matching placemats. The Go Fish team’s enthusiasm for seasonal, local, fresh-from-the-garden ingredients extends to the outdoor dining area as well, where pots and planters are filled with an eye-catching array of edible herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruit that guests are encouraged to explore.

Go Fish’s full menu is available at the bar and on the patio, including an array of artfully prepared sushi dishes and small plates like Salt-Crusted Gulf Prawns and Monterey Bay Calamari, as well as full, multi-course fish dinners featuring entrees like the restaurant’s signature “Fish Your Way,” which gives diners the option of the day’s fresh catch served wood-grilled or sautéed with a sauce of choice. Dining is available on the Go Fish patio seven days a week 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Call 707-963-0700 for reservations, or go to www.gofishrestaurant.net.

About Go Fish

Like the children’s card game it’s playfully named after, Go Fish, has become a classic since its inception in 2006. From its start, Cindy Pawlcyn, the pioneering Napa Valley restaurateur who also founded the legendary Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, envisioned Napa Valley’s first fish restaurant as a paean to all things seafood, including a San Francisco-inspired raw bar, authentic sushi and sake bar, and classic West Coast-style fish house. Created with partners Sean Knight and Ken Tominaga, and designed by famed Napa Valley architect Howard Backen, the 220-seat restaurant delivers it all with an expansive menu that utilizes only the freshest sustainable fish and seafood that’s flown in daily, as well as farm-fresh produce that’s sourced regionally and augmented with the bounty from the restaurant’s on-site 1 1/2-acre organic garden. The restaurant’s extensive wine list includes a selection of whites lauded as the best in the bay area by the San Francisco Chronicle. Go Fish is located at 641 Main Street in St. Helena and offers indoor and outdoor dining year-round in true Wine Country style seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Cindy's Supper Club Announces Upcoming Ports of Call -- A Passport to Culinary Adventure In Napa Valley

Acclaimed Chef Cindy Pawlcyn introduces Spring and Summer menus for her legendary Supper Club, held every Wednesday at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in downtown St. Helena. Inspired by the rich culinary traditions of various cultures both around the world and here at home, Pawlcyn creates a delicious feast each week that showcases her exuberant love for food and travel. Patrons should prepare for an unforgettable dining experience as they sample the edible delights of Peru, Northern Mexico's Pacific Coast, the Greek Isles, and a "Northern Lights" extravaganza featuring the delicacies of Denmark, Finland, and Norway. Drawing on her flawless culinary instincts, a 6,000-volume cookbook collection, and requests from fans, Pawlcyn takes diners along for the ride as she travels the globe on the backstreets of Napa Valley.

Pawlcyn brings three decades of experience to her kitchen. A pioneer of California wine country cooking, she has received the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence and has been nominated twice by The James Beard Foundation for Best Chef in California. She's also noted for her around-the-world culinary travels. Executive Chef Pablo Jacinto and his staff also bring their cultural heritage and travel experiences to the table, providing ideas for the weekly themes.

Some weeks Pawlcyn keeps it close to home, exploring the distinct regional cuisines of the United States. From the corn and chilies of the Southwest to the cioppino of San Francisco, patrons get a taste of America's culinary past and learn about the diverse cultural influences that form modern cuisine. Select wines are offered with all the menus.

Price is $40, including all courses and paired wines. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is located at 1327 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena, California 94574.

For reservations, please call 707-963-1200 or visit www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com

Wine Along Highway 29

Listen about wineries while you tour the Napa Valley with the launch of WineFlight’s new AudioTourGuide CD titled “Finding Wine on Highway 29.” Wine and the wine country can be intimidating, but with the audio guide, you will know as much or more than the person standing next to you at the tasting bar. The CD allows you to listen to minute-and-a-half segments on more than 50 wineries (both boutique and behemoth) and their respective appellations as you drive near them. The AudioTourGuide includes the CD, a map with icons noting each winery’s amenities (including picnic tables, gift shops, or magnificent gardens and views), and the TourFinder. As part of WineFlight’s community outreach, a portion of the proceeds resulting from sales will benefit the County of Napa Housing Authority, specifically farm workers. “Finding Wine on Highway 29” is available at www.wineon29.com and in various wine-related retail outlets, hotels and wineries in and around the Bay Area.

For more information contact Shaun Andrews, WineFlight Visionary, (707) 225-1807, wineflight@gmail.com, www.wineon29.com.

Where to Stay

Westin Opens Condominium-Hotel in Napa Valley

The whole-ownership condominium-hotel is the latest development to break ground in the emerging Oxbow District in the heart of America's wine capital. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.® (NYSE: HOT) and Intrawest ULC announce the ground-breaking of The Westin® Verasa Napa Residences, one of the largest private developments in the city's evolving riverfront community. The property is owned by Intrawest and will be managed by Intrawest Hospitality Management Division under a long-term management agreement.

A rare real estate opportunity such as The Westin Verasa Napa Residences is the fruition of countless hours of planning and collaboration by the City of Napa and two industry leaders - Intrawest, a world leader in developing resort destinations and Westin Hotels and Resorts®, with world-renowned service executed with effortless style and a gracious attitude. This exceptional partnership between Intrawest and Westin once again brings together the visionary innovators of successful hotels and residences throughout North America.

The Westin Verasa Napa will serve as a vital cornerstone for the development of an exciting new district in downtown Napa. The riverfront development will serve to enhance the rich diversity of Napa's surrounding wineries, growers and culinary culture. The Oxbow Public Market - located next to the development - broke ground on September 28th and is a testament to the emerging region. The 40,000 square foot marketplace, which includes a scenic outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River, will feature a diverse tenant mixture of local food vendors, artisan cafes and organic farm stands. Steve Carlin, founder and CEO of the Oxbow Public Market confirms the significance of the partnership, "We welcome The Westin as a wonderful new addition to the community. Their exciting project is further evidence of the Oxbow District's growing attraction as a destination for tourists and locals alike."

Construction on the hotel will begin this year, with a planned opening in 2008. The Westin Verasa Napa will be the first full-service property to come to Napa in nearly five years. The property will also add 5,320 square feet of conference space to the Napa Valley. A downtown Napa presentation center showcases architectural models and interior design samples.

For more information about The Westin Verasa Napa, check web site www.westinnaparesidences.com.

NEVADA

What to See & Do

Oakdale Cowboy Museum Opens New Historical Exhibit

The Oakdale Cowboy Museum opened its newest exhibit, “Stone Fences and Corrals in the South Central Nevada Foothills: A Living History. The exhibit brings to life the stone fences and corrals that are scattered throughout the Sierra Nevada foothills. These structures stand in the open range land as reminders of California’s hardworking past. Interviews and research collected for the exhibit explain the cowboy history of the region and how it is being carried forward into the present. The Oakdale Cowboy Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information contact Oakdale Cowboy Museum, (209) 847-5163, www.oakdalecowboymuseum.org.

NEWPORT BEACH

What to See & Do

Beatiful City Boasts Scenic Waterfront Locations to Get Fit

For most, exploring nature trails or biking along a scenic path in warm weather is unfortunately not an option anymore. The last autumn leaves are falling, winter clothes are unpacked and the first snow sightings are starting to emerge.

With the holidays right around the corner and with the pressure to look your best, why not retreat in the most beautiful recreation city in the fall? Offering the outdoor enthusiast a sunny playground to shape up on land and water, retreat to Newport Beach, CA this fall! You can have your pick of recreational paths or aquatic activities, while taking in the natural beauty of Newport Beach and relishing the sunny Mediterranean weather.

“As a local, I like take advantage of the active lifestyle in beautiful Newport Beach,” says senior vice president & chief marketing officer at Newport Beach & Company, “from hiking trails with panoramic ocean views to kayaking and stand up paddleboarding in the peaceful bay, there’s so much beauty in the destination, I never feel unmotivated to work out.”

Here are the top locations and activities to get fit on land and water.

Paths to Success:

Enjoy the many picturesque biking, running and walking trails throughout Newport Beach:


  Balboa Island: Quaint and charming Balboa Island offers a 2.6-mile walking path around the perimeter of the island. You can do your cardio while observing beautiful beach cottages and action-packed Newport Harbor.

Back Bay: The tranquil Back Bay offers a rustic trail around the 10.5-mile bike or run path. You will take in the authentic California foliage while sweating it out.

Balboa Peninsula: You can take the oceanfront boardwalk from the tip of the peninsula all the way north along the coastline to neighboring cities. If you want to stay in Newport Beach, bike, skateboard, or rollerblade along the 3-mile trail from start to finish.

Pier to Pier: Hit the sand for a 2-mile run from Newport pier to Balboa pier, located on Balboa Peninsula.

Corona del Mar: Run the stairs at petite family beach, Corona del Mar, where you can see boats of all size cruising in and out of Newport Harbor’s entrance while you feel the burn.

Crystal Cove State Park: Not only are there miles of trails several with ocean views, there is also a flat biking and walking path perched upon a bluff with an endless ocean view.

Workout on the Water:

Did you know that Newport Beach has the most outdoor water recreation space in all of Orange County? Here are options you can choose from:

 Beach: Recognized by the National Resource Defense Council and Heal the Bay, take advantage of one of the cleanest and safest beach in the country. Try yoga on the beach, swimming, surf lessons or body boarding in the waves.

Newport Harbor: There are a number of fun activities to do in Newport Harbor. And the best part is that you will forget you’re working out. Try outrigger canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, stand up paddle yoga or even a 10-person stand-up paddleboard.

Back Bay: Glide through the calm waters of the Back Bay via stand-up paddleboard, paddleboat, kayak, rowboat, or outrigger canoe.

Newport Beach is an extremely active community and invites visitors to join in on the fit fun. From biking trails and running paths and to surfing in the ocean and kayaking in the bay, Newport Beach is the ultimate outdoor aficionados’ playground. With holidays right around the corner, you’ll want to get fit in Newport Beach this fall.

Ride a Duffy

Duffy Electric Boats first opened its doors in Newport Beach in 1970, becoming the first modern U.S. company to build and manufacture electric powered boats on a large scale. Referred to as "the father of modern electric boats," Marshall "Duffy" Duffield actually launched the first electric boat. As a 16-year-old Southern Californian, Duffy entertained his dates on cruises in his father's gas-powered boat. Now there are 1,500 Duffys alone on Newport Harbor! Headquartered in Newport Beach , Duffy's business has extended around the globe and is recognized as one of the world's leading manufacturers of electric boats. The Duffy Boat is a signature attraction in Newport Harbor and a must do for summer!

Surf "The Wedge" or Just Be a Spectator!

The Wedge is a famous surf spot with large surf breaks close to shore. Every summer, swells that begin life off New Zealand, half a world away, finally slam home in North America at the tip of this famous breakwater. As the waves approach shore, they bounce off the jetty's boulders and, in the final seconds before landfall, merge and morph into a backbreaking and monstrous wave known as the Newport Wedge! The Wedge is an elusive wave that breaks only a few times a year-it peaks during the summer months-and because of its unpredictability, it's no place for a board. Because of this, it remains a site for wave riding in its purest form- bodysurfing. The Wedge breaks so hard, in such shallow water, that even highly skilled bodysurfers sometimes get seriously injured, proving that this is not a wave to be taken lightly. Unlike Oahu's Banzai Pipeline, Northern California's Maverick's, or any other world-class big break, the Newport Wedge has the unusual distinction of being entirely man-made.

Oxnard Welcomes New Art Center

Downtown Oxnard is becoming a center for visual arts with the opening of Studio Channel Islands Art Center West; an annex of the SCIART at Cal State univesity Channel Islands Campus, 519 S. "C" Street. The new gallery is open Wednesday through Saturdays from noon to 5 P.M. by appointment only.

For more information check web site www.studiochannelislands.org.

Oxnard Chosen As Designated Site for a California Welcome Station

Visitors travelling along the Central Coast will now be able to find out all they need to know about Oxnard, Ventura County, the Central Coast region and California as a whole -- because Oxnard now has a new California Welcome Center.

The Center is located at the Town Center Building at 1000 Town Center Drive, off Interstate highway 101 at Oxnard Boulevard, and this site will join 12 other similar agencies strategically positioned across California. The Oxnard Welcome Center offers a myriad of complimentary services and information about Oxnard, Ventura County and regional destinations, in addition to general information on California itself. Oxnard was awarded the designation by the California Travel & Tourism Commission after going through a lengthy bid process.

The new Center is open Monday through Thursdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm; Fridays from 8:30 am to 6 pm; Saturdays from 9 am to 6 pm, and on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm.

For more information on the Welcome Center, contact the Oxnard CVB at 805-385-7545, ext. 224.

2014 Official Newport Beach Visitors Guide Now Available!

Highlighting the best to see and do in Newport Beach, the new 2014 Official Visitors Guide is now available! New this year are enhanced neighborhood spotlights, themed itineraries, extended hotel, restaurant and attractions listings, including unique Newport Beach profiles on the people and places that make this seaside oasis so vibrant. Request a copy digital or printed copy!

OAKLAND

Where to Eat

Get a Taste of Temescal   

Temescal is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oakland, and also one of the tastiest. Edible Excursions tours offers "Temescal Tastes," a guided tour of some of the best eats in the area. Begin your journey at the Urban Village Farmer's Market, where you will sample tacos from Cholita Linda (who will also open up a brick and mortar shop in the area soon), fresh pastries from Starter Bakery, and more. Mosy through some of the other neighborhood favorites, including stops at the Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop, The CRO Cafe and Doughnut Dolly on Temescal Alley, and the new Juhu Beach Club. Tours are held Sundays from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Sign up for a tour today!

Top Chef Opens Indian Eatery in Oakland

Top Chef alumna Preeti Mistry brings Indian street food to the Temescal area with Juhu Beach Club. The restaurant opened on March 1 and will serve dinner only for the time being (lunch to come later). Some highlights on the menu include the Sassy Lassi, a mango and lime yogurt cooler, Pav sliders (pictured here), a Curryleaf Corriander Shrimp curry, and plenty of other delicious treats. Don't forget to bring the little ones -- an extensive kid's menu is included. For more on this newcomer to Oakland's Temescal neighborhood, visit JuhuBeachClub.com.

Grab Your Mac and Cheese for the Road

Can't wait to dine at the popular Homeroom restaurant in Oakland? Now you can grab your cheesy goods to go with the drive-thru service. Download the smart phone app for Homeroom and place your order online, then pull up to the designated parking space in front of the restaurant to have your order delivered to your car. But don't get too used to this luxury -- this program will be a trial basis for dinner only until proven successfull. For more, visit the Homeroom website. 

Fulfill Your Late-Night Ramen Craving

Feeling hungry after a night out on The Town? Hopscotch, who has just been recognized as one of Travel + Leisure's "America's Coolest New Diners," has created a late-night pop-up restaurant to satisfy your craving -- the Yonsei Ramen Shop. On Friday nights between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. only, head to the pop-up to enjoy a simple yet satisfying selection of traditional Japanese ramen, including appetizers such as kimchi and edamame, and a choice of two ramen bowls -- pork or vegetarian. Stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at Yonsei by following their Facebook feed.  

Beers and Brats on the Horizon

Gearing up to open this spring, The Hog's Apothecary will be an "American-style beer hall" offering a selection of 32 craft beers, four local wines, and more than 10 different house-made artisanal sausages. This casual spot near 40th and Broadway will also offer plenty of options to keep you entertained, including shuffleboards, dart boards, and three TV's so you can root for our Oakland sports teams. Keep an eye on the opening date by following their Facebook page and website. 

Mobile Food Trucks Make a Comeback 

This spring, get ready for the return of Bites Off Broadway and more mobile meals in Oakland. Celebrate the season opener on May 10 in front of Temescal's Studio One Art Center, the epicenter of the Bites Off Broadway food truck pods. Enjoy a rotation of over 15 food trucks, including Tina Tamale, Doc's of the Bay, Fist of Flour, and more. The event will be held every Friday night through October 11. Don't miss Off the Grid at the Oakland Museum of California, held every Friday night. Sample the street foods from the roaming trucks and make your way inside to see the latest exhibits at the Museum. For more on Off the Grid, visit their website at offthegridsf.com.

Cafes and bars.

New Arrivals
Camber (Uptown) - 1707 Telegraph Avenue 
Carriage House (Old Oakland) - 827 Washington Street
Duende (Uptown) - 468 19th Street
The Forge (Jack London Square) - 66 Franklin Street
Legionnaire Saloon (Uptown) - 2272 Telegraph Avenue
Lungomare (Jack London Square)
Loring Cafe (Uptown) - 37 Grand Avenue
Ramen Shop (Rockridge) - 5812 College Avenue
Rosamunde Sausage (Old Oakland) - 911 Washington Street
Tea Here Now (Chinatown) - 1721 Webster Street
The Trappist Provisions (Rockridge) - 6309 College Avenue

Coming Soon
Box and Bells (Rockridge) - 5912 College Avenue
Feezy (Uptown) - 1707 Telegraph Avenue
Next Door (TBD)
Old Depot (Jack London Square) - 464 3rd Street
The Red Whale (Grand Lake) - 3354 Grand Avenue
Township (Uptown) - 1545 Broadway
Tribune Tavern (Downtown) - 409 13th Street
 
 ONGOING:
Savor Oakland Food Tours - Jack London Square
Arctic Tours: Fenton's Creamery
Tuesdays: Free cuppings at 2 p.m. - Blue Bottle Coffee 
First Wednesday of the Month: Wine Wednesdays - JC Cellars
Fridays: Free tastings at Oakland Starbucks Coffee Company from 2 p.m. - close
Fridays: Old Oakland Farmers Market - Old Oakland
Fridays & Saturdays: Weekly Wine Tastings at Farmstead Cheeses & Wines 
Fridays & Saturdays: Dinner, a Movie and the Universe - Chabot Space & Science Center
First Saturday Tastings: Taste the latest releases at Stage Left Cellars 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturdays: Grand Lake Farmers Market - Grand and Lake Park Avenues
Sundays: Montclair Famers Market- La Salle at Moraga Avenues
Sundays: Temescal Farmers Market- 5300 Claremont
Sundays: Jack London Square Market - Broadway and Embarcadero

For more information Email at calendar@visitoakland.org or write to 463 11th St. Oakland, CA 94607; 510-839-9000; info@visitoakland.org or web site www.visitoakland.org

OJAI

Experience the magic of Ojai this holiday season! Ojai makes for a cozy wintry getaway and provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Ojai experiences some of its best weather during the holiday season, making it a perfect time to visit and take in all of its offerings -- hike Ojai's beautiful traverse mountain ranges or bike along its many wandering paths. Take a back country jeep tour, or see how olive oil is made at a local ranch. Kick start your day with some locally roasted coffee, then indulge in a luxurious spa treatment. Or do nothing at all, except cozy up to the fireplace one of Ojai's inns.

With one-of-a-kind, Œunchained‚ shops and boutiques (free of chained stores with its Œno chain store policy) Ojai also offers the perfect opportunity to turn getting through it to getting away, and the chance to collect those special holiday finds in a truly charming shopping village. Visitors can browse through the numerous specialty stores offering everything from upscale apparel to fine art to hand-crafted jewelry and home furnishings. One Ojai favorite -- a great place to find that only in Ojai gift -- is Made in Ojai, featuring locally-made specialties including teas, lotions, honey, olive oil, hand-made soaps, jewelry, artwork, books and more. Book browsers can get lost for hours in Barts Books, offering all types of rare and out-of-print first editions. Treasure hunters can go antiquing at Treasures of Ojai, or shop for unique finds at Human Arts or Kava Gifts.

Spending the night? Ojai Inns have some unique holiday packages & offerings:

The Oaks at Ojai

Don't forget about fitness this holiday season! The Oaks at Ojai has several packages running -- The Midweek Stress Break Package including five nights, gourmet spa cuisine meals, the complete daily fitness program and choice of a personal service. Rates start at $995.

Su Nido Inn

Relax and refresh at the artsy, Mission Revival Su Nido Inn in downtown Ojai. The spacious rooms coupled with fireplaces, kitchen areas, patios and heavenly featured beds create an oasis to escape to! Several packages are offered including hiking, golfing, olive oil tastings or simply create one!

An easy 90-minute drive north of Los Angeles and 50 minutes south of Santa Barbara, Ojai is a convenient destination for regional travelers as well as national and international visitors. The closest airports are in Santa Barbara (45 miles), Burbank (70 miles), and Los Angeles (85 miles). Ojai is just a 20-minute drive from U.S. 101 via California Highway 33. Free, ample parking is available throughout the city.

For more information on holiday offers and special events, contact the Ojai Visitors Bureau at www.ojaivisitors.com or 1-888-OJAI NOW.

OXNARD

Oxnard's Background

This city that began as a small farming community, has blossomed into the largest town in this county and celebrated its 100th year birthday on June 30, 2003. Among the treasures to be found here is the Fillmore & Western Railway, (located in the eastern end of Ventura County), having introduced its new Antique Treasure Train.

What to See & Do

 Murphy Auto Museum

You'll find displays of classic, milestone and special interest vehicles at the Murphy Auto Museum, but it now couples the collectible cars with vintage clothing from all decades. Mannequins are dressed in clothes within the particular era and are placed at the vehicles side with a historical description.

If you're ready to explore the waters deep below in Oxnard, check out Sunfish Diving. Operated by Michelle & Andy Volaski, it's available for open parties and full and half-day charters to both Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, as well as for coastal dives. The fee includes air fills, fresh hot water shower, private dressing areas, and a self-service galley.

Contact the Railway at 800-773-8724 for train information. For more information on the area, contact the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-269-6273, or web site www.oxnardtourism.com.

Contact the Murphy Auto Museum, located at 2230 Statham Boulevard, for hours and suggested donation, or call 805-487-4333.

For driving reservations, call Sunfish Diving at 805-644-1499.

Here Come the Whales!

       Grab a front row seat and get ready for an exciting opportunity to catch a glimpse of nature during Whale Watching Season taking place off the coast of Oxnard.

The season officially began the day after Christmas .  Island Packers, Inc., Channel Islands Sportfishing and Captain Hook’s Sportfishing offer daily excursions from Oxnard to view these magnificent mammals that grace the ocean as they migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel.

       Island Packers, Ventura County’s official concessionaire to the Channel Islands National Park, offers 3 1⁄2 hour non-landing narrated trips from through early April.  Two daily trips from Oxnard are offered with a morning departure from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and afternoon departure from 1:30 to 5 p.m.  The fare is $30 for adults, $26 for seniors ages 55 & up, and $21 per child, ages 12 and under.  Island Packers also offers regular full-day excursions to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, which include whale watching along the way. 

       Every year, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Pacific Gray Whales migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way to and from the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico.  The pregnant females lead the southern migration, passing by the Channel Islands in late December and early January.  The mature males and nonpregnant females follow the pregnant females.  The juvenile whales are last to head south, usually in February.

       The average length of a Gray Whale male is 11m (36 ft), maximum 15 m (50 ft).  Females are 12m (39 ft), maximum (50 ft).  Average weight for males is 26 metric tons, and females are 31 metric tons with the maximum for the species at 34 metric tons.  One of the few whales that lack a dorsal fin, the Gray Whale is a dark charcoal color at birth, but eventually turns a mottled gray due to the large number of barnacles and lice on their bodies.

       For more information on Whale Watching Season in Oxnard, call the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-269-6273.  Visit the website at www.visitoxnard.com.

Historic Heritage Square: Play Detective

Featuring some of the best Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in Ventura County, La Dolce Vita di Mare, located in the McGrath House in historic Heritage Square, is puttig a whole new spin on the term, "dinner and show." Joining forces with Whim Custom Adventures, La Dolce Vita offers "Heritage Haunts," consisting of a series of clue-laden dinners, in which guests can participate in after they dine. Patrons are given clues pertaining to Heritage Square and surrounding attractions including the Murphy Auto Museum, Herzog Wine Cellars, and GrandStay Residential Suites. The final clue directs the guest back to La Dolce Vita where they have an opportunity to win a grand prize consisting of an overnight stay at GrandStay Residential Suites, a wine basket from Herzog Wine Cellars, theater tickets to the Elite Theatre in Heritage Square, and dinner for two at La Dolce Vita. In addition to the mystery dining, La Dolce Vita also offers Cooking Classes the fourth Saturday of the month at 1 pm. Participants make four different types of food and enjoy their creations at the end of class. The cost is $40 per person.

For more information, call La Dolce Vita at 805-486-6878 or check web site www.ladolcevita.com.

Beyond Strawberries & Lemons . . . Oxnard’s Herzog Wine Cellars Joins Forces to Create New Wine Trail Map — 

With a unified goal of getting Ventura County “on the map,” so to speak, several local wineries have joined forces to produce the first-ever Ventura County Wine Trail Map, spearheaded by Oxnard’s own Herzog Wine Cellars. The map features seven local wineries clustered around a pictorial map of the area, as well as restaurants, hotels, shuttle companies and even wine-centric events.

Participating wineries include: Rancho Ventavo Cellars (Moorpark); Bella Victorian Vineyard & Winery (Camarillo); Cantara Cellars (Camarillo); Stafford Premium Wines & Camarillo Custom Crush (Camarillo); Herzog Wine Cellars (Oxnard); Old Creek Ranch Winery (Ojai Valley); and Casa Barranca Winery, also located in Ojai. The map was designed as a full-service tool for tourists, highlighting some of the best the county has to offer. Travelers can plan an entire trip in the area, complete with a shuttle-led wine tasting trip, hotel stay, and dining suggestions.

For more information, visit web site www.venturacountywinetrail.com.

Sail by Sunset —

Cruising on the water is fun and when it’s mixed with special events and sunset filled skies, it becomes an experience. The Scarlett Belle paddle wheeler located in picturesque Channel Islands Harbor offers open public cruises this fall. The cruises are $75 per person, which includes hors’ d’oeuvres music, dancing and entertainment.

For more information, call A & M Charters at 805-290-5371.

Marine Emporium Landing to Serve as a Center for Waterfront Fun, Channel Islands Hopping & Entertainment —

With a replica of the infamous Arch Rock on Anacapa Island displayed at the entrance, Marine Emporium Landing in Channel Islands Harbor is quickly developing into the water center of activity and entertainment in Oxnard. With two new buildings under construction and a third on the way, Marine Emporium Landing now offers all types of watersports and activities for visitors including segway scooters, electric boats, jet ski’s, plus kayak, scuba and snorkeling rentals. A new boat ramp displays a sign overhead, “Gateway to the Channel Islands” where visitors can depart for the Channel Islands National Park with Island Packers Boat Company. In addition to watersports, Marine Emporium Landing will soon boast new restaurants and fun eateries. Coming this fall are waterside dining, Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine, offering authentic Brazilian fare and the return of Sea Fresh, which will offer a fresh fish market, sushi bar and restaurant. Other eateries planned are a coffee shop, ice cream store and possibly a candy shop. Retail shops in addition to a day spa and salon are also in the works. Exterior enhancements include a new promenade along the waterfront, decorative lighting and a dockside grassy knoll providing the perfect spot for picnics and people watching. For those seeking the freshest ‘catch of the day,’ Captain Hook’s Sportfishing is expanding its operation and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA), will also move into a larger space, continuing to provide a wealth of information on the Channel Islands. Marine Emporium Landing also houses the Scarlett Belle paddle wheeler, providing themed dinner cruises and Sunfish Diving for scuba diving excursions along the coastal waters of Oxnard.

For more information, call 805-985-5828 or visit www.marineemporiumlanding.com.

Oxnard’s Herzog Wine Cellars Joins Forces to Create New Ventura County Wine Trail Map

With a long and rich history of agriculture and farming, Ventura County is perhaps best known for strawberries, citrus, and avocados. Few realize that its colorful history is also dotted with grapevines and winemaking. Grapes were among the many crops planted at the San Buenaventura Mission in 1782, as well as on land around Santa Paula and Ojai. Though few plantings of wine grapes remain in the area today, that has not prevented many vintners from producing and selling wine here in Ventura County.

With a unified goal of getting Ventura County ‘on the map’, so to speak, several local wineries have joined forces to produce the first ever Ventura County Wine Trail map, including Oxnard’s own Herzog Wine Cellars. A benefit for visitors and locals alike, the map features seven local wineries clustered around a pictorial map of the area, as well as local restaurants, hotels, shuttle companies, and even wine-centric events. “We’re extremely excited about the map,” says Monica Agyekum, Marketing and Public Relations Director for Herzog Wine Cellars. “We want to get the word out that people don’t need to travel further north to go wine tasting,” she continued. “They can visit several wineries right here in our own backyard that produce amazing wines,” she added. Participating wineries on the map include: Rancho Ventavo Cellars (Moorpark); Bella Victorian Vineyard & Winery (Camarillo); Cantara Cellars (Camarillo); Stafford Premium Wines & Camarillo Custom Crush (Camarillo); Herzog Wine Cellars (Oxnard); Old Creek Ranch Winery (Ojai Valley), and Casa Barranca Winery, also located in Ojai.

The map was designed as a full-service tool for tourists, highlighting some of the best the county has to offer. Travelers can plan an entire trip in the area, complete with a shuttle-led wine tasting trip, hotel stay, and dining suggestions. And, the Oxnard Convention and Visitors’ Bureau has also joined in on the project, offering visitors a more complete resource for information on what to do in the area.

For more information, contact Monica Agyekum, Herzog Wine Cellars, at 805-983-1560.  For general information and for vacation planning along the wine trail, call the Oxnard CVB at 1-800-269-6273.

Scarlett Belle – New Paddlewheel Riverboat Attraction Comes to Oxnard

A little bit of “Dixie” and a lot of California fun has come into Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, with the arrival of the new paddlewheel riverboat, the Scarlett Belle. Inspired by the legendary film, Gone with the Wind, the Scarlett Belle is a custom-built replica of the once-popular 19th century river boat designed for a stable and gliding cruise on the water.

The Scarlett Belle serves as a party boat for chartered cruises and is equipped with two enclosed and walk-around decks, which can be decorated, set up and themed different ways, allowing for individual creativity. Accommodating up to 149 people, the Scarlett Belle is 87’ long by 30’ wide and contains two bars on each level with a dance area and light show on the lower deck, allowing for fun on the water! The downstairs level is fully enclosed with arched French windows and a grand back window. The larger lower deck can also be set up for projections for corporate meetings or a family photomontage.

To complete the look of an old fashioned paddlewheel riverboat, two smoke stacks sit upright at the bow of the boat and a steam whistle announces her arrival. The grand stairway to the second level is a beautiful center point, perfect for wedding photographs. The Scarlett Belle is designed to accommodate weddings, receptions, reunions, private parties, corporate meetings, seminars and other functions that would benefit from a unique setting.

For more information, call the Oxnard CVB at 1-800-269-6273 or visit web site www.visitoxnard.com.

For more information, call 1-800-269-6273 or visit web site www.visitoxnard.com.

Oxnard Continues to Expand its Local Flavors —

Oxnard continues to add new eateries, each offering different personalities and unique cuisine. Nestled in downtown Oxnard, Barroco’s Restaurant is one of the new selections, which serves organic cuisine with a 100% organic bakery on the premises. It’s chic décor offers something for everyone and it’s wide range of choices include appetizers, salads, grains, pastas, legumes, soups, sandwiches and specialty Mexican dishes. Barroco’s is located at 529 S. “A” Street.

River Ridge Golf Club Expands

As golf becomes more popular, Oxnard readies itself now that the River Ridge Golf Club is quickly becoming a 36-hole course with the completion of the new Victoria Lakes Golf Project. Nine of the 18 holes were added to the Victoria Lakes golf course in 2004 and an additional nine opened in July 2008. The expanded course gives golfers many more options in terms of strategic and challenging play and offer incredible ocean views. River Ridge Golf Club is a public championship-rated golf course, which made its debut in 1986. The club is complete with a pro shop and meeting and banquet and barbecue facilities .

For more information, call River Ridge at 805-983-4653 or visit web site www.riverridge-golfclub.com.

Plaza Art Gallery Opens:

Featuring works by individuals as well as thematic shows, the Plaza Art Gallery has opened up in downtown Oxnard located on the historic plaza adjacent to the Carnegie Art Museum. Housed in an Art Deco buyilding at 329 North 5th Street, the new gallery presents works by both contemporary and modern artists, with an emphasis on Latino Art. Special exhibitions are offered on a rotating basis. Plaza Art Gallery is open Wednesdays thorugh Sundays from oon to 6 p.m.

For more information, call 805-486-6947 or visit web site www.plazaartgallery.com.

Five & Dime Store -- The Original - Is Preserved in Oxnard

Oxnard now houses what is said to be the world’s only Woolworth Museum, located in the original Woolworth Building in downtown Oxnard at 210 W. Fourth Street. The museum displays old products, menus, hundreds of historical items, photographs, books, lunch counter items and many other artifacts. There is also a section of working vending machines from the 1950s and electromechanical games that are still playable and at original prices. In addition, the Museum also contains an old 1965 jukebox, history wall showing Woolworth from 1858 to present, original Woolworth signs from the 1930s, original 1940s Woolworth take-your-own photo booth, working machines for pens, stamps, and postcards for 10 cents! The museum also has a lunch counter deli called the Exper-Mental Café, complete with an architectural style worthy of “The Jetsons.” The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For more information contact the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau, (805) 385-7545, info@visitoxnard.com, www.visitoxnard.com

Where to Eat

Fresh & Fabulous -- New Eatery -- Offers Tempting Selections in Historic Setting

The historic Woolworth building in downtown Oxnard has been transformed into a new bakery and cafe. Fresh & Fabulous offers classic bakery goods such as cookies, biscotti, bundt cake and muffins in addition to several Mediterranean inspired selections such as Baklava. The cafe portion of the restaurant features homemade soup, specialty salads, gourmet sandwiches, panini grilled sandwiches as well as a variety of quiche and homemade Mediterranean-style choices including hummus, bruschetta, baba ganoush, tabbouleh and more.

In addition, the new eatery offers ready-to-cook meal kits to easily preapre gourmet meals within 30 minutes. The decor plays off the art deco style of the historic Woolworth building that was built between 1949-1950.

For more information, call 805-486-4547 or visit web site www.myfreshandfabulous.com.

Casa Escobar Offers More Food Choices

Patterning itself after the original restaurant that once was 'the' place for stars of Hollywood's elite, Casa Escobar opened in Oxnard at 455 S. "A" Street, and is the latest in a string of family-owned Casa Escobars to follow the original. Descendents of founder Juan and Rosa Jay Escobar oversee the Oxnard restaurant, which offers a broader Latin menu than the original restaurant in an upscale atmosphere utilizing distinct favorites from Rosa Jay's recipe file.

Where to Stay

Grand Stay Residential Suites Opens:

The newest hotel in town is the GrandStay Residential Suites at 2211 East Gonzales Road. The 57-unit hotel offers all the comforts of home combined with the services of a grand hotel. Visitors are offered one and two-bedroom studio suites with full kitchens, each completely furnished to meet ones needs while traveling away from home. Besides offering comfortable accommodations, the GrandStay will be serving Afternoon Tea the first Sunday of the month, and will be offered to residents and visitors from 3-5 pm. The cost is $20 per person and will include a variety of tea, delicious scones, tea sandwiches, and an assortment of desserts.

For more information, call the GrandStay Residential Suites at 805-983-6808.

PALM SPRINGS

There is a place... a stunning desert oasis deep in the California desert. A vast fertile valley surrounded by a majestic alluvial plain - banked by steep ravines and lofty mountain peaks that soar over ten thousand feet above the valley floor. Within the valley itself, a cascade of visual grandeur - lush and ancient palm groves, hot springs bubbling up from the very core of the earth, an unexpected abundance of plants and wildlife. And at its
very heart — another treasure — the star- kissed village of Palm Springs. Feel the energy. Feel the excitement. Palm Springs, California. The place where your adventure begins. above the valley floor. Within the valley itself, a cascade of visual grandeur - lush and ancient palm groves, hot springs bubbling up from the very core of the earth, an unexpected abundance of plants and wildlife.

There's lots going on here, and lots of people visited - and stayed. Sonny Bono served Palm Springs as Mayor and as United States Congressman. He is also credited with revitalizing the City through the creation of events such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, created The Palm Springs Walk of Stars -- a fabulous tribute to the many Hollywood stars who have lived, loved, and played in Palm Springs, and includes stars for presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

Palm Springs is the home to the gua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; the living descendants of the ancient humans who discovered the area. Home to movie stars and world leaders who made it their secret get-away — a safe haven from the lights and distractions of Hollywood and the rest of the world. Home to a broad and diverse cultural melange — a place where architects, naturalists, artists, and naturists — all fi nd a home and a warm welcome. Every Thursday night Palm Canyon Drive is closed off to traffic and is transformed into a vibrant pedestrian street fair — VillageFest. Visitorsand residents alike visit VillageFest to shop, dine, enjoy the live entertainment, and people-watch. Historic Palm Canyon Drive is made for walking. Drive, and you miss the magic.

Here are more things to do and see in Palm Springs:

New Eco-Tour in Palm Springs

Desert Adventures, an award-winning eco-tour and outdoor adventure company, announces a new, exciting Energy Vortex Eco-Adventure. This naturalist-guided eco-tour via van or bus is offered to the public every Thursday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., includes breakfast and lunch, and is also available as a private or group tour. This adventure examines the lesser known positive energy vortex in Desert Hot Springs, which is created by the convergence of five earth energies: earthquake faults, geo-thermal energy, mountain peak alignments, wind energy and solar energy. Guests on this fascinating eco-adventure will learn about geology and earthquakes as they cross the infamous San Andreas Fault, the largest fracture in the earth’s crust in the Western Hemisphere. Then it’s on to Desert Hot Springs for a guided tour of the Cabot Old Indian Pueblo Museum. Surrounding Desert Hot Springs are the scenic peaks of the Little San Bernardino Mountains—the source of mountain energy. Wind energy is explored with a visit to the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm, where guests will learn how the desert harnesses the power of wind to generate electricity as a clean alternative energy source. The final sojourn on this action-packed journey is a guided nature walk through the Whitewater Nature Preserve, which is home to numerous species of birds as well as bear, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain lions. Solar power is featured at the Whitewater Nature Preserve, which uses ground-level solar panels to generate electricity for most of its operations.

For Palm Springs Visitor Information, please go to www.VisitPalmSprings.com or call 800) 347-7746

Palm Springs Air Museum Displays New Planes

New exhibits at the Palm Springs Air Museum include the “Interactive History Map of the Progression of the Allies” and “Axis Powers in Europe During World War II,” located in the European Hangar. The C-47 and PBY have been restored and will be available for interior tours. Helicopter rides will also be offered on site, which give visitors a 10-minute aerial view of the Palm Springs area. The helicopter can take up to four passengers and costs $39.95 per person. Regular admission price ranges from $5–$12. Children 5 and under and active military with ID are free. The Palm Springs Air Museum is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, educate and honor our veterans. Over 28 flyable planes and interactive exhibits are housed in 75,000 square feet of climate-controlled hangars.
Palm Springs Air Museum, (323) 363-8243, anngreer@earthlink.net.

For details contact Sharon Maguire, Palm Springs Air Museum, (760) 778-6262,
www.palmpringsairmuseum.org

Visual and Performing Arts in Palm Springs

Recently opened is 20th Century Photography: Selections from the A.G. Edwards & Sons Corporate Art Collection featuring vintage and contemporary American and European photography. The Palm Springs Air Museum features real planes, real heroes, and real excitement with flight demonstrations to complement the museum’s permanent collection of flyable warbirds.

Replace: For Palm Springs Visitor Information, please go to www.VisitPalmSprings.com or call 800) 347-7746

PARADISE

Chappelle de L'Artiste Bed and Breakfast Opens in Paradise

Paradise has a new Bed & Breakfast, the Chappelle de L’Artiste, featuring three luxurious rooms with in-suite bathrooms, two rooms with fireplaces. The Tudor style inn is surrounded by 20 acres of landscaping, including a huge catfish pond and waterfall, covered patio with grill and full kitchen, a chapel, a barn and pastures with three llamas and two donkeys, all providing a quiet, peaceful retreat in a pleasant environment.

For more information contact Chappelle de l’Artiste at 530-228-0941, E-mail ladymofparadise@hotmail.com; or check web site www.chapelledelartiste.com.

PASADENA

Nestled at the base of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains, just 9 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena is the city that feels like a village. From mountains caressed by the sun, through gardens radiant with roses, to extraordinary turn-of-the-century architecture, there is nowhere else quite like Pasadena. It's truly a pedestrian-friendly city. Visitors can stroll along beautiful tree-lined South Lake Avenue, known as Pasadena's premier shopping district. Old Pasadena, a 22-block historical area featuring 19th century structures and quaint alleyways, is one of Southern California's hottest main-street entertainment districts. With 200 specialty shops, antique havens, boutiques, bistros and entertainment venues, Old Pasadena offers something for everyone.

With a population of only 140,000, Pasadena offers visitors a friendly and safe enclave. The city's mild Mediterranean climate also makes for ideal sightseeing conditions. Year-round temperatures average 76 degrees F.

For more information, contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau; 626 795-9311
or check web site www.pasadenacal.com

What to See and Do

Norton Simon Museum --

My visit to this museum was fantastic, and one afternoon wasn't enough time to take in all the exhibits. I know I'll return in the near future. Known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled, over a thirty-year periuod, industrialist Norton Simon amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2000 years. Here you'll find Madonna and Child with Book, c. 1502-03 by Raphael; Portrait of a Boy, 1655-60, by Rembrandt van Rijn; Mulberry Tree, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh, and a collection of over 100 works by Degas and much more. Masterpieces from the 20th century include works by Picasso, Modigliani, and Brancusi. Highlights from the Asian collction include the bronze sculptures Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 550, India; Bihar, Gupta period, and Shiva as King of Dance, c. 1000, India.

Approximately 1000 works from the permanent collection of 12,000 objects are on view inside the Museum's galleries and sculpture garden throughout the year - so there's always something new to see - plus two temporary exhibition spaces. In addition, the Museum offers six to ten free public programs per month, including scholarly lectures and symposia, adult education courses, music and dance performances and hands-on activities for children. Private tours can be arranged by reservation.

Location: 411 West Colorado Blvd. Pasadena.

For more information call 626-449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org. The Museum is open every day except Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m., and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of each month from 6 - 8 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking is free.

The Pasadena Playhouse

Established in 1917, it is the State Theatre of California. In recent years, it's become instrumental in launching new works and landmark revivals for the American Theatre. In recent years, it has produced Tony and Pulitzer award-winning plays.

Located at 39 S. El Molino Avenue, 626-356-7529. Web site www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.Old Pasadena Food Tour

Melting Pot Food Tours

I took this delightful and educational food tour and found the foods and flavors unforgettable - and discovered places unknown to many tourists and even locals. The fascinating stories behind the foods, and this historic district that was once only a sunny place of orange groves, are guaranteed to entertain and delight. Colorful alleys and secret thru-ways spiced up the tour along with great ethnic eateries and sweets havens for tastings, including an authentic Mexican tortas cafe, a rare Nepalese-Tibetan restaurant and a wonderful chocolate shop. Also included was a sensory experience at a handmade soap kitchen.

During the 1.25 miles easy walk through part of this charming Old Pasadena, a National Register Historic District, I learned its history, folklore and architecture while our guide took us through its colorful alleys, hidden courtyards and secret thru-ways. I especially enjoyed the tastings at spectacular hidden ethnic eateries and sweets havens, and enjoyed fascinating stories behind the food with 8 generous food samples enjoyed in a grazing fashion. Tours are limited to 15 people per tour guide.

Conducted on Saturday & Sunday mornings and selected weeknight evenings year-round. For exact times, check web site www.meltingpottours.com. For more information and reservations call 800-979-3370 or 212-209-3370 (int'l) from 5 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Old Pasadena's Shopping

Bordered by Arroyo Parkway on the east and Pasadena Avenue on the west, Del Mar Blvd. on the south and Walnut St. on the north - the main thoroughfare is Colorado Blvd. This historic 22-block area, noted for its quaint alleyways and breathtaking architectural styles, is recoglnized as one of Southern California's hottest shopping and entertainment areas. The 200 buildings dating back to the 1880s and 1890s that line the streets of Old Pasadena now hold the treasures of trendy boutiques and the dining rooms of hip eateries. Dine in one of 80 restaurants, ranging from upscale bistros to cozy outdoor cafes, or browse through 120 retail stores, boutiques, antique stores, galleries and book stores. Entertainment options run the gamut from cinemas to theatre. At night, the area offers live entertainment from classical to blues, while billiards and dancing venues are available, too.

More information at web site www.oldpasdena.org

Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)

THE PMCA is dedicated to the exhibition of California art and design from 1850 to the present. Informed by the state's rich mixture of cultures and inspired by its impressive geography, California art has long been defined by a spirit of freedom and experimentation. HGere, exhibitions and educational programs explore the cultural dynamics and influences unique to California that have shaped and defined art in all media.

Since opening in 2002, the PMCA has produced exhibitions ranging from contemporary deisgn to historic photography to site-specific installations. Non-profit, the museum is located in a 30,000 SF three-story, miexed-use facility. The building, designed by Los Angeles architectural firm MDA Johnson Favaro Architecture and Urban Design, is one of the cultural centerpieces to the redevelopment of the historic Pasadena Playhouse District. An open-air staircase accentuated by ever-changing natural light from an oculus above creates a dramatic entrance into the museum. The stairs lead to the second-floor lobby, 8000 SF gallery spaces and a bookstore. The third floor includes a vast rooftop terrace that commands a breeathtaking vista of the 1927 City Hall dome and the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

The museum is oipen Wednesday through Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. A fee is charged; free to museum members and children under 12, and free the first Friday of the month. Access for people with disabilities is provided.

Location: 490 East Union Street, Pasadena. Parking is available on the ground floor of the museum.. For reservations and information call 626-568-3665 or check web site www.pmcaonline.org.

Kidspace Children's Museum

Opened in 1979, Kidspace truly impressed me, especially watching children engrossed in all kinds of unique play. By 1995, the museum gained its reputation as an innovative institution in the community -- not only with annual events, including the Rosebud parade (a child-sized Rose Parade), the "creatively creepy" Haunted Housse, Critter Expo and the Eco-Arts Festival, but by enriching chldrens' lives and their families. Here, they discover the excitement of learning while engaging in the creativity of play. Through the many exhibits, kids can unleash an earthquake, feed giant bugs, craft art through nature, climb raindrops 40 feet into the air, discover earth's rocks, bring in their discoveries from outside to be identified and so much more. I certainly enjoyed exploring Kidspace as much as the children did! The museum's logo is certainly true -- "Where play 7 Learning are one."

Kidspace Children's Museum is definitely a complete sensory experience -- touch, smell, hear, taste and see, through the eyes of a child - and enjoy yourself completely no matter how old you are.

Kidspace Children's Museum is located at 480 N. Arroyo Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91103; 626-449-9144.

School year ours are September-May; Tuesday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. Closed Mondays, except for select holidays and special events.

Summer hours are from Memorial Day-Labor Day, Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. If you have a membership the perks are free visits, special discounts at the store and cafe, sneak preview events and more.

Note: Kidspace has 14 gardens full of pollen, a real beeive and a cafe full of wheat, dairy products and nuts. If anyone has allergies, please be careful and alert the staff if you need assistance.

The cafe has fresh food offerings from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends. Plan on celebrating your child's special day with a memorable party here, or rent the museum for team building, baby showers, retirement parties and more. Above all, don't forget to visit the Busy Bee Learning Store where you'll find unique toys, books and educational materials.

For more information check web site www.kidspacemuseum.org.

The Gamble House

Designed by Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, the Gamble House is considered to be one of the finest examples of architecture from the early 20th century Arts and Crafts movement. The home was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble (Procter and Gamble soap and toothpaste fame).

Descended from Scottish and Irish ancestors, David Berry Gamble was a second-generation member of the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, and had retired from active work in 1895. With his wife, Mary Huggins Gamble, they began to spend winters in Pasadena, residing in the area’s resort hotels. By 1907, the couple had decided to build a permanent home in Pasadena. In June of that year, they bought a lot on the short, private street, Westmoreland Place, passing up the more fashionable addresses on Orange Grove, known at that time as “Millionaires’ Row.” The house remained in the Gamble family until 1966, when it was deeded to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California School of Architecture.

The house and tour is popular among residents and tourists. However, I found the woodwork on the walls and floors lovely, but the interior of the house was very dark and felt stifling. However, the architecture, surrounding lawn, shrubs and rear garden pond was lovely.

Latest Events at the Gamble House

Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series

Engaging, fun and eye-opening architectural presentations by and on local "California Originals" are slated for this year's Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series, sponsored by the Friends of the Gamble House (FoGH). This year's lectures and tours present an unique taste of architectural styles, inspirations and designs that could only be found in California. Series subscriptions are available to the public and members of FoGH.

Charles Phoenix: Charles Phoenix is a performer, humorist, chef and author. In his live shows, videos, media appearances and books, the self-proclaimed “retro daddy” explores America’s classic and kitschy pop cultural past and present, and predicts retro-inspired future trends. Fans enjoy his unique spin and genuine reverence for all things Americana, trust his guide to attractions from coast to coast.

The Hearst Ranch is the stunningly beautiful 82,000-acre cattle ranch surrounding William Randolph Hearst’s legendary Hearst Castle. Much of this spectacular landscape is still privately owned and has never been seen by the public. Through historical images from the vast Hearst archive, and full-color photography commissioned for her recent book, Victoria will show us the Hearst Ranch and its many century-old ranch buildings and residences designed by Julia Morgan, revealed for the first time. A favorite lecturer from past presentations, Victoria delivers engaging and insightful tales of the Hearst family, of the talented Morgan and her staff, of the many colorful ranch employees, and of the countless Hollywood movie stars who joined Hearst and Marion Davies as they went roughing it out on the ranch.

The Neighborhood Church
301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103

$30 Non-Members; $25 FoGH Members - Tickets available at http://www.zerve.com/GambleHouse/Kastner

Victoria Kastner: Victoria, Hearst Castle’s historian, has written and lectured about Hearst Castle and San Simeon’s land and buildings for nearly 30 years. She is the author of Abrams’ Hearst Castle and Hearst’s San Simeon.

The Hearst Ranch was named the Piedra Blanca Rancho in the 1850s, referring to the Mexican land grant

TICKETS/INFORMATION:  Lecture Series Discount Subscriptions available. To purchase a series discount please call 626-793-3334 x16. For more information, please visit www.gamblehouse.org/events 

Tours of the Gamble House
One-hour interpretive Docent Guided Tours are available Thursday through Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, with the last tour at 3pm. Advance tickets* are highly recommended as tours often sell out; advance purchase is the only way to guarantee your spot on a tour. Docent-guided tours are the only way to gain access to the interior of the house.

Mondays:  No general tours. Group and special tours by advance reservation only.
Tuesdays:  Brown-Bag Tuesday docent-led mini-tours at 12:15 p.m. and 12:45 p.m.
Wednesdays:  No general tours. Focus tours by advance reservation only:Behind the Velvet Ropes, Details & Joinery, and Fire & Light.
Thursdays/Fridays:  Guided tours every 30 minutes. On-site, walk-up ticket sales start at 10 a.m.
Saturdays:  Guided tours every 20 minutes. On-site, walk-up tickets sales start at 10 a.m.
Sundays:  Guided tours every 20 minutes. On-site, walk-up ticket sales start at 11:30 a.m.

Touring Fees
 General Admission Adults: $13.75 advance reservation*; $12.50 day-of, as available
 Students and Seniors: $11.00 advance reservation*; $10.00 day-of, as available
 Reserved Group Tours: $15.00* reservations made at least 1 month in advance
 Tuesday Brown-Bag Lunch Mini-Tours: $8.00 advance reservation*; $7.00 day-of, space permitting

*Additional service charges apply.
Children 12 and under and Gamble House Members, remain free of charge.

Advance Tour & Event Ticket Sales
Tour and event tickets may be purchased at The Gamble House Bookstore on the day of the tour, but it is highly recommended that tickets be purchased in advance from www.Zerve.com/GambleHouse, calling Zerve at (800) 979-3370, or through The Gamble House website at www.GambleHouse.org. Ordering tickets online in advance is slightly higher than the basic price of walk-in tickets, but guarantees your tour reservation, which might otherwise sell out.

- Book early as purchasing tickets in advance as this is the only way to guarantee your spot on a tour and avoid disappointment.
- A limited number of tickets are sold each tour day so please book tickets early.
- Flat shoes are required; slippers will be provided for those in heels.
- No interior photography allowed.
- Closed on major holidays: New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.

Upcoming Schedule of Exciting Lectures and Tours

Specialty Focus Tours
Behind the Velvet Ropes is a tour where guests are invited behind the scenes to visit parts of the House not available on the 1-hour tour. Guests walk inside the rooms and, with flashlight in hand, examine at close quarters exquisite craftsman details. The docent, wearing white gloves, will open doors and drawers to reveal gems that can only be see close up. This is an ideal tour for those who have the extra time to appreciate the ambiance of this National Historic Landmark, and enjoy some light refreshments in the gallery. Behind the Velvet Ropes 2 1/2 hour tours are conducted by docents with years of experience and a great deal of passion. 
- Saturday, Nov 9 at 9:00 a.m.
- Wednesdays, Nov 13 / Dec 11 / Jan 8 / Feb 12 / Mar 12 at 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m.
Admission is $45 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Details & Joinery: A Craftsman's Tour of The Gamble House gets into the 'nooks and crannies' of the team of gifted craftsmen who labored for 11 months to create The Gamble House. Inspired by the designs of Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, the craftsman contractors led by Scandinavian woodworkers John and Peter Hall cut , turned, joined, carved, and hand-rubbed 17 species of wood to create the house and furnishings that today are recognized as one of the greatest achievements in American architecture and craftsmanship. Jim Ipekjian is the tour guide, a contemporary woodworker who has studied the art and craft of the Greenes and the Halls for more than 20 years, and has an intimate knowledge of how their works were created. Mr. Ipekjian's Details & Joinery tour reveals from a craftsman's point of view how The Gamble House was crafted. He discusses why woods were chosen, explains joinery techniques, and explores the thinking and collaboration that led to the actual craftsmanship and examines details of the house and furniture, and reveals the intricacies of inlay, metal work and art glass created especially for the House. This is a 3-hour tour.
Admission is $80 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

The Gamble House Decorative Arts Conservation Project
The Gamble House is proud to announce the completion of its Decorative Arts Conservation Project! This two and a half year effort conserved all of the Greene & Greene objects in the collection, and many others, too. The result: an interior even more beautiful and authentic than before. This project was funded in part by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The Gamble House Speakers Bureau
Speakers are available for businesses, service clubs, community group meetings of 10 or more persons, for morning, lunch, or evening presentations by appointment, 25 miles or less from Pasadena, CA.
Half-hour slide presentation [includes 5 minutes for questions at end] covering this 1908 architectural masterpiece in Pasadena, CA, designed by Greene & Greene. 
- Donation requested, approx. $2 per person in attendance.
More information:  626-793-3334 x13, 10-4 p.m. weekdays, ask for Cindy.

A unique resource for travelers and lovers of 20th century houses is now online at iconichouses.org
The Iconic Houses website, with its handy map interface, identifies dozens of iconic modern houses around the world – most of them open to visitors and some even accommodating overnight guests.

The website is the initiative of Natascha Drabbe, architectural historian and owner and
curator of the Van Schijndel House in the Netherlands. Finding herself in charge of an
iconic home, she set out to find out about others. Her research led to the formation of
the Iconic Houses Network, a group of modern house museum curators dedicated to
preserving significant houses and sharing knowledge and expertise.

IconicHouses.org lists a hundred landmark houses from the 20th century by location,
together with background information on their creators and related news stories.

Become a Member - Friends of The Gamble House.

Site Rental - Looking for a unique setting for meetings, seminars, working retreats, luncheons, dinners or picnics for corporations, private or non-profit organizations and special interest groups? Consider The Gamble House for your unique venue.

For More Information on The Gamble House or on any of the programs listed please visit www.GambleHouse.org or call (626) 793-3334.

Location: The Gamble House is at 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, CA 91103

Pamper Yourself at The Huntington Spa

You deserve a break and this is THE place to take it. At 11,000-square feet, it's a haven of wellness presenting a selection of unique massage therapies, facials, and body treatments to revitalize and relax your senses. The spa features 13 private treatment rooms, including one couples' suite, and the Chuan Body + Soul corridor, which offers treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The stylish and elegant salon, offers makeup application, manicure, pedicure and hair services, as well as a sauna, steam room and whirlpool.

A variety of massages are offered, including The Huntington Signature Massage - a certified massage therapist uses an interpretation of Swedish massage techniques that incorporate local signature oils and lotions to relax and revitalize body and soul; a Deep Tissue Masage -- a combination of traditional Swedish movements and deep concentrated work targets muscle knots and painful tightening caused by excess stress; Hot Stone Therapy -- An ancient healing practice, stone therapy massage is a complex and highly synchronized experience utilizing hot stones that restore grounding and harmony to the body; Maternity Massage -- a light, gentle massage designed for mothers-to-be, foclusing on relieving lower back discomfort and fatigue, plus other massage types.

Located at The Langham, 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena 91106; 626-568-3900. For details go to web sites pasadena.langhamhotels.coml and thehuntingtonspa.com.

Paseo Colorado --

is Pasadena's three-block open-air urban village. With its Mediterranean architecture, lush pedestrian promenades, courtyards and terraces, it is anchored by Pacific Theatre's 14-screen cinema complex, Amadeus Spa and Salon, Macy's Department store, and Equinox Fitness Club. Its 65 distinct specialty retail shops and restaurants include Coach, BCBG Max Azria, J. Jill, Tommy Bahama, and the Yard House.

Drawing from its rich cultural heritage, Pasadena features numerous world-class museums and historical sites. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens offers an extensive collection of literary classics, 17th and 18th century British and French art, and 150 acres of lush gardens. Highlights include an original Gutenberg Bible, Ellesmere's manuscript of Canterbury Tales, the famous Pinkie and Blue Boy paintings, and an authentic Japanese garden.

Seven centuries of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century are on display at The Norton Simon Museum, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, Degas, Rembrandt, and Picasso. The Pacific Asia Museum is dedicated to the promotion and understanding of the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific, while the Pasadena Museum of California Art features California art, architecture and design from 1850 to the present. In contrast, the Gamble House, built in 1908 is an architectural masterpiece of the American Arts and Crafts era.

Pasadena's Rose Bowl is famous for championship events including five Super Bow football games, the 1999 Women's World Cup Soccer Championship, and the Rose Bowl Game. Today, the Rose Bowl is home to the UCLA Bruins football team.

After dark, the village takes on a whole new flavor. As the birthplace of Julia Child, it is home to some of Southern California's finest restaurants with over 500 to choose from, including Madre's, the chic Latin-style eatery owned by singer/actress Jennifer Lopez. Exciting nightlife ranges from hot jazz clubs and cool comedy at the Ice House to theater at the Pasadena Playhouse and musical performances at the renowned Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

A vast array of shops, restaurants and recreational opportunities lie within walking distance of Pasadena's hotels, with accommodations ranging from intimate inns to luxury resorts. Favorites include the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, the Westin Pasadena, Hilton Pasadena, Sheeraton Pasadena, and the Old Pasadena Courtyard by Marriott.

Where to Eat

Equator Restaurant & Bar

I was overwhelmed by the decor the first time I walked in to this restaurant -- especially by the huge golden Budda high up on the wall. Even while eating, I couldn't stop admiring the place, and the food didn't disappoint. Thankfully, I was with several friends so could taste a variety of the signature dishes, including Honey Glazed Shrimp with Sesame candied walnuts, Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai Noodles with bean sprouts, onions and crushed peanuts, Crab Pad Thair Noodles tofu with bean sprouts, onions and crushed peatnuts, and the House Special Chrispy Egg Noodles with shrimp, mussels, calamari in Lobster X.O. sauce. The soups - steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, Wateer chestnut and Wonton Soup, and the Sesame Caesar Salad with napa cabbage, parmesan and Wonton chips, and the Tandoori Chicken Salad with Mango, red onion and avocado, cilantro lime yogurt vinaigrette, was all delicous. The menu is filled with a variety of appetizers, sandwiches and much more, plus a Dim Sum Brunch is served every Saturday & Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM. The list of coffee and specialty drinks goes on and on, as does the smoothies and shakes, loose leaf teas, and others.

Located at 22 Mills Place, Pasadena, CA 91105; 626-564-8656. For more information and hours check web site equatorcafe.com.

Tortas Mexico

I ate breakfast here and loved the food served quickly and piping hot - the way it should be - on the semi-outdoor patio. The 'tortas' are authentic Mexican style grilled sandwiches, made with daily baked bread and the freshest ingredients I've tasted in ages at similar restaurants. They're filled with beans, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatos, onions, avocado and jalapeno peppers, according to whether you like chicken, pork, turkey, ham, weiner, egg or mexican sausage or beef inside. I also tried the 'tacos' served with onions and cilantro with beef - but you can have them with beef & cheese, spicy chicken, pork, tongue, Mexican sausage, vegetarian, or other ingredients. Burritos, Quyesadillas, Sopes Y Tostadas, Combination Plates, Kids Meals, Tamales, Salads, Nachos, or even Hamburgers are available. House specialties include Pollo Con Mole, Enchiladas De Mole, Caido De Pollo, Alambreas, Chimichanga, And much, much more. Besides serving fresh, tasty food, the prices are unbelievably low.

Located at 90 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103; 626-432-4887. Open daily from 8 AM - 10 PM for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information check web site www.TortasPasadena.com.

Cafe Santorini

Set in a historic brick building in Old Pasadena, this cafe is a locally owned restaurant that opened in 1993. I could see why it was jammed when I came for lunch -- everything my partner and I ordered was delicious and well worth the price. We sat on the charming rooftop patio overlooking a quaint courtyard while other patrons dined in the intimate indoor dining room. Specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, this cafe is a must to visit.

Be forewarned: What to order will take time because the menu is huge. My friends and I began with the Insalata di Casa which was delicious, and our main courses included Farfalle Con Pollo al Presto -- a bowtie pasta with cilantro pesto and grilled chicken breast; Grilled Beef Brochette for myself -- served with rice pilaf and roasted vegetables; and a grilled Vegetable Platter with assorted seasonal veggies, roasted potatoes with balsamic reduction and olive oil. We also tried the fantastic humus, and for dessert one of us ordered Santorini's Signature Tiramisu, another the flourless chocolate cake, and a medley of sorbets. Each was delicious and served beautifully.

Located at 64 W. Union Street, Pasadena; 626-564-4200.

Green Street Tavern

This elegant, intimate restaurant located in the heart of Old Pasadena, features excellent California comfort food with a European influence. Locally farm-grown beef, seafood and chicken combined with organic vegetables produce a variety of amazing appetizers and entrees. The well-balanced wine list and menu offers quality wine at reasonable prices.

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, it is at 69 W. Green Street, Pasadena; 626-229-9961 - www.greenstreettavern.net.

Maison Akira

Located in the Playhouse District, owner and chef Akira Hirose has created an interesting menu featuring French and Japanese cuisine. I ordered the Asian mixed green salad with Fuji apples and candied Hazelnuts as an appetizer, the Black Angus Rib Eye Steak in a Marchand du Vin sauce as the main course, and a delicious warm apple tart with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Each dish had the freshest ingredients and the pastries were great, too.

Located at 713 E. Green St. Pasadena; 626-796-9501 -- www.maisonakira.net

La Grande Orange Cafe

Housed in Pasadena's historical Del Mar train station, La Grande Orange Cafe is a testament to American cuisine. The menu is created with the freshest ingredients each day, and the cooking brings commonly loved classics to a new level with a modern point of view.

Located at 260 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, 626-356-4444 - www.lgostationcafe.com

Where to Stay

The Langham Huntington

I was very impressed with my stay here at this iconic landmark hotel located at the base of the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains just minutes from downtown Los Angeles in beautiful Pasadena. Covering 23 acres with grand historic ballrooms and gardens, the hotel is ideal for corporate meetings, executive retreats, leisure getaways and social events. It is also close to Pasadena's shopping area and many sightes of interest. It features award-winning dining, a luxurious spa offering treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and a number of recreational activities including tennis and a nearby Nicklaus-designed golf course. In addition, bicycle rentals are available, swimming at an outdoor pool and whirlpool with sundeck, a pool bar, a complimentary fitness center, complimentary morning coffee, and complimentary transport service to select Pasadena locations.

Several on-site restaurants are available:

The Royce, a fine dining experience featuring a modern interpretation of classic dishes, two wine rooms and a glass enclosed veranda offering sweeping views of the valley.

The Terrace Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and features modern California bistro fare and an award-winning Sunday Brunch.

The Tap Room serves classic and modern handmade cocktails, an eclectic wine selections, premium beers on tap from around the world and upscale, innovative bar food.

The Lobby Lounge offers The Langham Signature Afternoon Tea Thursday - Saturday and Chocolate Afternoon Tea on Sunday, with picturesque views of the Horseshoe Garden and San Marino.

Location: 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena, California 91106; 626-568-3900. For more information check web site pasadena.langhamhotels.com.

PASO ROBLES

Paso Robles Releases New Trail Map

This quick reference to trails within the city limits includes a map highlighting 12 trails with descriptions, locations and distance in miles. On the flip side of this guide is a complete listing of facilities and amenities in town that visitors to the area are welcome to use while they are vacationing in Paso Robles. The brochure highlights outdoor opportunities that exist within the city at numerous parks, tennis courts, trails, soccer and softball fields, and swimming pools. Visitors can download a copy at www.prcity.com/visit under “Hot Topics.”
For details contact Shonna Howenstine, City of Paso Robles, (805) 227-7236, tourism@prcity.com.

BEHIND THE VINES at the Pony Club, Hotel Cheval’s Wine Bar

Hotel Cheval (“cheval” is French for “horse”) is pleased to announce its Behind the Vines events. The Behind the Vines events take place every Thursday at Hotel Cheval’s Pony Club from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Pony Club is located at 1021 Pine Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 and for more information please call 866.522.6999 or visit www.hotelcheval.com.

Paso Robles winemakers will mingle with guests and discuss how their wines are made, their techniques for creating the perfect wine and share insights about their respective vineyards. Guests will be able to sample select wine flights while enjoying live music from a variety of Paso Robles based musicians and specialty priced small plates to pair the wine. The upcoming Behind the Vines schedule is as follows

About Hotel Cheval
Hotel Cheval is located in the charming downtown area of Paso Robles. The 16 rooms are thoughtfully and individually composed with a classic and stylish flair featuring a hint of contemporary design. Cozy window seats, fireplaces, outdoor patios, fountains and European artifacts are complimented by original artwork by Richard Tullis. Additional amenities include complimentary Continental Breakfast on the weekdays and complimentary Hot Breakfast on the weekends, flat screen televisions, complimentary Ethernet and wireless internet connections, DVD players, luxury linens and bathroom amenities by Temple Spa. Chester, Hotel Cheval’s Belgian draft horse, escorts weekend property guests on various trips throughout the downtown Paso Robles area.

Hotel Cheval Rendezvous À Deux Package

Hotel Cheval (“cheval” is French for “horse”) is pleased to announce its “Rendezvous À Deux” Package. Nestled in amongst the rolling hills of California's coastal mountain range and the surrounding wine country, Paso Robles and the luxurious Hotel Cheval are the perfect spot for a relaxing and rejuvenating rendezvous with that special someone.

The package allows couples to unwind is one of the spacious, stylish and thoughtfully designed guestrooms and savor a wine and cheese pairing in the Pony Club. Guests have the option of enjoying 18 holes of golf at the beautiful Hunter Ranch Golf Course, or relaxing with a 60-minute in-room couples massage, or a day of exploring the Central Coast wine region, which includes the memorable Hearst Castle.

After their selected option, guests can experience Chester, Hotel Cheval's Belgian Draft Horse and a vis à vis carriage for complimentary rides to and from any restaurant in "trotting" distance from the hotel (applies to Friday & Saturday evenings only).

The total package is $925 per couple for a Luxury Room, $845 per couple for a Deluxe Room and $765 for a classic room and is valid Friday & Saturday with a two-night minimum.

For reservations, access the property’s web site at www.hotelcheval.com or call (866) 522 – 6999. Hotel Cheval, which opened in April 2007, is located in the charming downtown area of Paso Robles, at 1021 Pine Street, Paso Robles, California, 93446.

Each of the Hotel Cheval’s 16 rooms is thoughtfully and individually composed with a classic and stylish flair featuring a hint of contemporary design. Cozy window seats, fireplaces, outdoor patios, fountains and European artifacts are complimented by original artwork by Richard Tullis. Additional amenities include complimentary Continental Breakfast on weekdays and complimentary Hot Breakfast on the weekends, flat screen televisions, complimentary in-room Ethernet and wireless internet connections, DVD players, luxury linens and bathroom amenities by Temple Spa.

About Hotel Cheval

The newest and only luxury accommodation in downtown Paso Robles, Hotel Cheval debuted in April 2007 in California’s up and coming food and wine region. Offering sixteen individually designed guest rooms, a library and its own horseshoe shaped bar named Pony Club, Hotel Cheval has been thoughtfully decorated with unique, original artwork and antiques from all over the world. Spend a night on a Friday or Saturday, and the hotel’s own Belgian draft horse, Chester, will escort you to dinner around the town square in a vis à vis carriage. www.hotelcheval.com

Paso Robles - the Luxury La Bellasera Hotel & Suites Opens

La Bellasera Hotel & Suites is the newest hotel to open its doors in the picturesque wine region of Paso Robles. The luxury boutique hotel features 60 oversized guestrooms and suites, spa services, hospitality and conference facilities, outdoor dining terrace, swimming pool and whirlpool, fireside cabana and a full-service restaurant and bar that serves breakfast and dinner. La Bellasera guestrooms feature a fireplace, whirlpool, wet bar, kitchenette, deluxe spa amenities, pillow-top bedding and exterior patios.

For more information contact La Bellasera Hotel & Suites, (805) 238-2834 or (800) STAY-NOW (800-782-9669), www.labellasera.com.

Hotel Cheval, New Stylish Boutique Inn

Paso Robles welcomes a new downtown luxury property with the opening of Hotel Cheval in April 2007. Influenced by the surrounding countryside and situated in America’s new prized food and wine region, Hotel Cheval will offer well-traveled guests an experience unlike any other in the Central Coast area featuring old-world hospitality and exceptional personalized service amidst thoughtfully designed and refined accommodations.

Proprietors Robert and Sherry Gilson spent two and a half years refining the concept and location of Hotel Cheval. With a passion for good design, more than 20 years of experience in real estate and an interest in the hospitality industry, the Gilson’s were inspired to open their first hotel in downtown Paso Robles. Robert’s background in business finance coupled with Sherry’s talent for style and design makes these new hoteliers a dynamic husband and wife team. From the original blueprint, to the décor and selection of the amenities, they have immersed themselves in its development to create a memorable destination for their guests.

Each of the property’s 16 rooms is thoughtfully and individually composed with a classic and stylish flair featuring a hint of contemporary design. Cozy windows seats, fireplaces, outdoor patios, fountains and European artifacts are complimented by original artwork by Richard Tullis. Additional amenities include complimentary continental breakfast, flat screen televisions, complimentary Ethernet and wireless internet connections, DVD players, luxury linens and bathroom amenities by Temple Spa.

In keeping with an equestrian theme - “cheval” is French for horse - the rooms are named after famous racehorses throughout history. Guests can unwind in front of the fireplaces in the courtyard, curl up with a book in the library or have an early evening glass of wine in the Pony Club – the Parisian inspired horseshoe shaped zinc bar. For a unique and unparalleled experience, guests can enjoy complimentary carriage rides to dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings with Chester, Hotel Cheval’s Belgian draft horse.

Hotel Cheval is a stylish and sophisticated 16 room luxury Inn located in the superior downtown location of Paso Robles.

For more information on Hotel Cheval, visit web site www.hotelcheval.com .

POINT LOMA

Pearl Hotel Opens in Point Loma

Just one block from San Diego Bay and five minutes from the San Diego International Airport, the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma opened in August 2007. It offers 23 vintage-modern rooms with custom floor-to-ceiling mosaic artwork, king- and queen-size platform beds, wall-hanging fishbowls with tropical fish, 32-inch LCD televisions, designer light fixtures, and vintage lamps. Visitors can also enjoy complimentary local calls, DVD movie rental, laptop computer rental and wireless Internet service. The Pearl’s saltwater swimming pool is surrounded by semi-private poolside cabanas, which can be reserved for outdoor dining and bottle service. The poolside lounge also features an outdoor theater area with a 10-foot projection screen used for “dive-in” movies or special event presentations.

For more information contact the Pearl Hotel, (619) 226-6100,  (877) 732-7573, www.thepearlsd.com.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA AREA

Islamorada Fish Company Offers a Taste and Feel of the Florida Keys

Local residents and visitors to the Rancho Cucamonga area will soon discover what it’s like to dine in an ocean-front restaurant in south Florida.

The Islamorada (eye-lah-muh-rah-duh) Fish Company, located inside the hugely popular Bass Pro Shops store on the east side of Victoria Gardens Regional Town Center adjacent to the I-15 Freeway, offers a unique dining experience not found anywhere else in California.

The name Islamorada was given by early inhabitants of the Florida Keys and means “Island Home.” Throughout the over 11,000 square-foot restaurant you will be amazed at the attention to detail. Upon entering the restaurant from the store there is an awesome vaulted ceiling 22 feet above with beautiful box beam trusses and ornate fish themed, custom, hand made chandeliers. A large hand painted mural is located above the massive 13,000 gallon saltwater aquarium which is raised 4’ above the store and visible from 360 degrees everywhere in the restaurant. The aquarium is home to scores of colorful, tropical fish. Trophy saltwater fish mounts hang from the walls, antiques and old pictures along with painted murals add to the relaxed dining mood.

In addition to the large dining room that will accommodate 180, there is a private dining room for 10 for more intimate gatherings. The bar lounge area is trimmed out with rich mahogany paneled wood wainscoting and will accommodate your informal gatherings for both food and drinks.

An outside dining patio seats 80 and features hand-placed inlaid seashells evoking the feeling of being at the beach. The large dining area features a superior mister system that will keep you comfortable while dining alfresco during any of the warmer summer months. The only thing missing is the sandy beach and ocean waves at your feet.

As you would expect, Islamorada Fish Company features shrimp, lobster, oysters, crab, clams, mussels, mahi mahi, grouper, calamari, tuna, trout, and even fried catfish. Wild game offerings will include buffalo and alligator. Traditional steaks, St. Louis style spareribs, rotisserie chicken dishes and sandwiches make this much more than a seafood restaurant.

You can enter the restaurant both from the outside as well as from the inside of the Bass Pro Shops store.

With a toll-free call at 1-800-258-2559 or a series of mouse clicks on www.fishcompany.com>www.fishcompany.com, you can also order Islamorada Fish Company’s fresh stone crabs, Key West shrimp, Florida lobster and several varieties of fish by the pound or by the piece and have it delivered anywhere in United States. All orders are shipped direct from the Florida Keys and guaranteed to arrive fresh and cold at your doorstep. They’ll even send you free recipes and other information on how to prepare your order.

About Islamorada Fish Company

Islamorada Fish Company began in 1948 as a marina snack bar in the Florida Keys offering the freshest fish possible, at a reasonable price, to individuals in the Keys. A full-service restaurant was added in 1994. Since then, IFC restaurants have opened in other Bass Pro Shops stores in 10 states across America with seven more states added by the end of this year.

For restaurant locations, to see a complete menu or for more information go to the www.fishcompany.com web site .

About Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops, an international catalog and internet retailer, is also America’s most popular outdoor store, offering shoppers the largest selection of quality outdoor gear, clothing and accessories from top industry names and at value prices. More than just hunting and fishing stores, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores are also part museum, part art gallery, part education, conservation and entertainment centers. They offer equipment for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, boating, outdoor cooking and more. A gift and nature center also serves up a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture. 

Award-winning in their concept and design, Bass Pro Shops retail stores are rated high as tourist-destination picks. They were recently selected by Sporting Goods Business Magazine as the #1 outdoor retailer in America. Some 85 million people visit the stores annually. Widely recognized for their efforts in conservation and outdoor education, Bass Pro Shops stores also offer Outdoor Skills Workshops for adults, kids and families. Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, Bass Pro Shops currently has 42 retail locations in 23 states and Canada. In addition, Bass Pro Shops, also provides products and services for thousands of independent dealers world wide through its subsidiary company, American Rod & Gun.

For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, visit www.basspro.com . To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO. 

REDDING

What to See & Do

Clear Creek Greenway Fish Viewing Platform and Trailhead

Anyone looking for a way to beat the heat in Redding this summer should pay a visit to Clear Creek, a favorite local hangout. Not only is Clear Creek a great place for a hike or swim, it is also the location of a recently completed overlook that gives visitors a great view of the surrounding area. In the cooler months, it’s a spectacular place to go and watch the salmon make their way up Clear Creek after starting their journey in the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the overlook, there are 12 miles of recently completed trails surrounding Clear Creek that provide opportunities for hikers, joggers, bikers or those out for a scenic stroll. This project was part of a collaborative effort between the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Fish and Game, and Shasta Resource Conservation District.

For details contact Bill Kuntz, Bureau of Land Management, (530) 224-2100, www.ca.blm.gov/redding.

Recently Finished Trail Links Two of Redding’s Landmarks

Outdoor enthusiasts had cause to rejoice when a 3-mile stretch of path tying the Sundial Bridge to Shasta Dam was finally completed. The trail now covers an approximate 15-mile distance between the two popular landmarks. The completion of the trail has opened up endless possibilities for people looking for the chance to get out and explore. There are more opportunities for hikers, bike riders, joggers and others to extend their normal routes and try something new. This new path provides countless opportunities for locals and visitors alike to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the Redding landscape.

For details contact Bill Kuntz, Bureau of Land Management, (530) 224-2100, wkuntz@ca.blm.gov.

Vintner’s Cellar in Redding Offers Custom Tastes

Vintner’s Cellar is a new, full-custom winery with a focus on not only great quality wine, but a memorable, cultural experience. It prides itself on receiving top-notch grape juice imported from California as well as other regions. Vintner’s Cellar offers wine tasting by the glass or by the bottle, as well as fruit, bread and cheese to complement the wine. Wine connoisseurs are also given an opportunity to customize their bottle with their own labeling. Open Tuesday through Saturday, Vintner’s Cellar hosts live, local bands every Friday and Saturday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

For more information contact Allan and Jana Leard, Vintner’s Cellar, (530) 222-WINE, info@222wine.com, www.222wine.com.

Redding Opens New Soccer Park

The Redding Soccer Park recently opened its gates. This $10.2 million dollar, 22-acre complex is a one-of-a-kind, "State-of-the-Sport" soccer facility boasting four, all-weather, synthetic-turf NCAA regulation sized, lighted fields. The complex has a full restaurant, with over 2,000 square feet of covered seating, a play area for the younger fans, with slides, climbing walls and other features to keep them busy during the games. In addition to the restaurant area there's an administration building with a pro-shop for last minute playing needs, and classroom for instruction and team meetings. Events held at the new park have a very positive impact on hotel occupancy. The opening weekend tournament brought over 700 visitors to Redding, and accounted for about 500 room nights in the Redding area hotels. The local economic impact from one tournament can be in excess of $100,000.

For more information contact Rich Pinnell, Redding Soccer Park, 530-221-1885, www.reddingsoccerpark.com.

Redding Air Service Offers Scenic Views Over Shasta Cascade Region 

Redding Air Service now offers scenic helicopter tours with breathtaking views of Northern California, Burney Falls, Shasta Lake just to name a few. Fly with Redding Air Service, with 50 years of an excellent safety record, extremely experienced pilots and conveniently located at Redding Municipal Airport.

For more information contact Redding Air Service, 530-221-2851, E-mail rascoptr@c-zone.net

Where to Stay

Bridgehouse Bed & Breakfast Opens in Redding

Bridgehouse Bed & Breakfast, Redding’s newest Bed and Breakfast, is located in Historic Downtown. With views of the Sacramento River, this 1930’s cottage style home is both comfortable and stylish. Wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Satisfy your taste buds with homemade specialties. Fulfill your morning workout regime on the river trail, or on the treadmill in a light filled workout room. With free wireless internet, cable TV and an ihome in each room for your ipod, you can be entertained inside as well as outside by the gorgeous Sacramento River with all of its wildlife and the many treasures Redding has to offer. The lavish and warm décor invites you in to relax and leave your busy day behind.

For more information contact Bridgehouse Bed & Breakfast by calling 530-247-7177 or check web site www.reddingbridgehouse.com.

REDWAY

Dean Creek Resort Adds Cabins

The Dean Creek Resort near the renowned Avenue of the Giants has six new cabins from which to launch family expeditions to the redwoods. Located in Redway along the banks of the Eel River in southern Humboldt County, the resort recently opened the cabins, each with porch, bathroom, stove, microwave, fridge and TV/DVD combo. The cozy wooden structures comfortably sleep four in a queen bed and queen sofa bed. Opened in 1937, the award-winning, family-operated resort offers 64 RV sites with hookups, picnic tables, barbecue grills and fire rings; motel accommodations; and plenty of nearby fishing, rock hunting and redwood adventures.

For more information contact Richard Stenger, Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (707) 444-6634, richard@redwoods.info, www.redwoods.info.

REDWOOD CITY

Savvy Cellar Wines

Here, you'll be seated at a comfortable wine bar where you can try wines by the glass before your wine shopping experience. There is a weekly tasting menu with daily wine specials, a daily European lunch plate with appetizers, cheeses and sweets, and live jazz every Saturday night. All the wines are rated 90 points or higher by the leading wine critics.

ROCKLIN

Bass Pro Shops to open new Outdoor World store in Rocklin, Calif.

Bass Pro Shops, an outdoor retailer specializing in hunting, fishing, camping and other related outdoor gear, is proud to announce plans for a new store in Rocklin. The 120,000 -square-foot store, which will feature an Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill, will be located at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Sierra College Boulevard. The store will be a primary anchor for the 500,000-square-foot, mixed-use Rocklin Crossings development. The store is scheduled to open in 2015.

This will be the company’s fourth store in California. Currently, Bass Pro Shops operates stores in Rancho Cucamonga and Manteca, Calif. They recently announced a new store locating in San Jose.

Rocklin, which is located in Placer County, is part of the Sacramento metropolitan area. It’s situated between the western base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the Sacramento Valley. The history of the area can be traced back to California’s gold rush days. The Bass Pro Shops at the Rocklin Crossings site will draw from an extended region along the I-80 corridor to accommodate the outlying suburban and rural customers in addition to those en route to the area’s many outdoor opportunities.

Nationally, Bass Pro Shops will host more than 116 million people visiting their 84 stores and marine centers across America and Canada this year. The average customer stays 2 1⁄2 hours and drives an average distance of 50+ miles. Bass Pro Shops was named by Advertising Age magazine as one of the Top 10 Hottest Brands in America along with name brands such as Old Spice, M&M’s, iPad and Droid. Also, Bass Pro Shops has been recognized numerous times for their conservation and outdoor education efforts, as well as being recognized by J.D. Powers & Associates for their customer service excellence.

Bass Pro Shops unique, award-winning, mega-sized outdoor stores are known for combining retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education. More than just a fishing and hunting store, the Bass Pro Shops store will also offer equipment and clothing for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, and other related outdoor gear. A gift and nature center features a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture. Expansive boat showrooms offer Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats built by Tracker Marine Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing boats.

Rocklin Store Will Feature Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill

The new Rocklin Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will feature the popular Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill. This nautical-themed center is located within the store and features a unique design geared for family fun and dining. There will be 12 lanes, offering customers the chance to feel like they are bowling under the ocean. Casual family dining will be available in the Grill where customers can dine on a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers.

Bass Pro Shops Dedication to Conservation
Bass Pro Shops lodge-like exteriors and outdoor-themed interiors make them popular with customers. The outdoors feel is brought indoors through massive log and rock work, large indoor aquariums and water features stocked with native fish species as well as an extensive collection of museum quality fish and wildlife mounts. Historic photos and exhibits will pay tribute to the region’s great outdoor heritage.

Since the beginning, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has been dedicated to inspiring people, especially youth and families, to love, enjoy and conserve the great outdoors. That commitment, demonstrated over the course of several decades, is a big reason why Bass Pro Shops is known as the outdoor industry’s corporate conservation leader. Bass Pro Shops’ has partnered with and supports the efforts of many organizations that work to conserve and manage the nation’s natural resources. The company’s key conservation initiatives include fish and wildlife habitat improvements, conservation and outdoor skills education, improving water quality and quality of our lakes and springs, and conservation advocacy.

About Bass Pro Shops®
Bass Pro Shops®, which specializes in outdoor fun, operates 84 retail stores and Tracker Marine Centers across America and Canada that are visited by more than 116 million people every year. Bass Pro Shops stores, many of which feature restaurants, offer outdoor gear while their catalogs and website serve shoppers throughout the world. The company’s Tracker Marine Group®, which has produced the number one selling brand of fishing boats for more than 35 years, manufactures and sells a variety of boats for fishing and cruising. Family fun is on tap at Bass Pro Shops resort Big Cedar Lodge®, voted number six by Travel + Leisure Magazine as World's Best Hotels for Families.

For more information, visit www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog, call 1-800-BASS PRO. Follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bassproshops.

SACRAMENTO

California State Railroad Museum

The California State Railroad Museum at Old Sacramento State Historic Park is upgrading its big-screen museum theaters to digital projection and adding captioning to the newly re-mastered award-winning orientation film "Evidence of a Dream." Theatre upgrades also include digital presentation capabilities. For Link, the steam railroad was a vital ingredient to the good life in America. It is this quality of life, not machinery, that he captures so tellingly in his photographs. While Link is best known for railroad photographs taken at night, he took pleasure in recording the life of the railroad, its people, and the folks who lived along the line, at all hours of the day. These photographs focus on the final years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last major railroad in America to operate exclusively with steam power. Link’s images are regarded as one of the most compelling expressions of this long-vanished type of locomotion.

For more information contact the California State Railroad Museum, (916) 445-7387, info@californiastaterailroadmuseum.org, www.californiastaterailroadmuseum.org.

Sacramento Day Spa Adds Lodging

The Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa in Sacramento opened a luxurious, five-room, Tuscan-style villa in April 2007. The rooms all feature fireplaces and most have a Jacuzzi tub for two. Room rates include breakfast, afternoon tea and access to the Health & Wellness Pavilion. Villa accommodations are priced from $359 per night, plus tax. Arden Hills is an award-winning day spa and frequent site for wedding receptions.

For more information contact the Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa, (916) 482-6111, www.ardenhills.net.

Sacramento Segway Tours Debut

There’s a fun, new way to explore. Sacramento. Hysterical Segway City Tour offers guided tours on personal Segway transporters that start in Old Sacramento and take visitors past city attractions and landmarks including the State Capitol, Leland Stanford Mansion, Chinatown and the historic Governor’s Mansion. Tours are approximately 2 1/2 hours and are offered daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The cost per person is $79.95.

For more information contact Hysterical Walks & Rides, (916) 441-2527, info@hystericalwalks.com, www.hystericalwalks.com.

Sacramento Regional Wine Tasting Guide

The Sacramento region is quickly gaining momentum as a popular wine tasting destination with more than 200 wineries/tasting rooms. Most wineries are within an hour’s drive of downtown Sacramento. The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau has produced a regional wine guide complete with maps and information on wineries in the following counties: Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo.

The guide is available by emailing the Visitors Bureau at wine@discovergold.org or by calling (916) 808-7777. For more information contact Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, (916) 808-7777 or (800) 292-2334, www.discovergold.org.  

Gold Rush Days

Each September, step back in time as living history characters re-enact the Gold Rush ere in Old Sacramento. Cash-in on savings with the free "Sacramento Gold Card," featuring discounts at attractions, restaurants, and retailers, using smart-card technology. Check out the vibrant arts scene, new restaurants by "The Next Food Network Star" winner, Guy Fieri, and the palpable buzz generated by the "Governator." Ideally located between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Sacre=amento is the perfect base to explore surrounding Gold Rush towns for antiques, taste "Big Reds" at Sierra Foothill wineries or whitewater raft near the original gold discovery site.

For more information, check web site www.discovergold.org.

Aerospace Museum of California

The Aerospace Museum of California is located at 3200 Freedom Park Drive, Sacramento, CA, 95652. For more information call (916) 643-3192 or visit their website at www.aerospacemuseumofcalifornia.org.

For more information on attractions and events in Sacramento, visit www.discovergold.org.

Transportation Gallery

The Bicycle: This is one of the many mysteries still surrounding Leonardo’s life and work. The drawing was found in one of Leonardo’s notebooks between two glued-in pages. Visitors are invited to take photos standing behind the bicycle.

Military Gallery

Scorpion: The Scorpion was designed to slash the sails of opposing ships. Its revolving platform would permit it to maneuver and drop the large scythe where it could do the most damage.

Transportation Gallery

Helicopter: In this concept, Leonardo envisioned a pilot standing upright in the airship. To control the machine during flight, the pilot was to use his hands, feet and head. Due to the size and weight of the device with a pilot aboard, Leonardo decided to utilize two crossing pairs of what we now think of as rotor blades.

Mechanical Gallery

Large Pulleys: Here Leonardo demonstrates the effect of pulleys on the movement of weighty objects. As a result, Leonardo could demonstrate the tradeoff between speed and effort. This display is a representation of the type of interactive displays families can participate in when visiting the exhibit.

SAN DIEGO

What to See and Do

Can't Miss San Diego Winter Events

From feeding reindeer at a ballpark to ice skating by the sea and watching Santa surf, winter in San Diego brings unexpected and delightful holiday experiences. Whether creating new memories or revisiting favorite occasions from the past, celebrating this season in San Diego will warm the hearts of visitors young and old.

Everyone Loves a Parade!

Parades in San Diego don't just happen on the streets: catch an aquatic pageant as decked-out lighted boats parade on Dec. 13 on Mission Bay followed by two stunning parades of maritime lights on San Diego Bay at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 21. On Dec. 14 at 3 p.m., view a pet holiday parade through the historic Gaslamp District , and enjoy a traditional Christmas parade through the seaside village of La Jolla at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. On Dec. 26, before the Holiday Bowl football game, marvel at the 3 p.m.

Festivities for Kids from One to 92

New this year, Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park downtown opens for 12 nights in December and includes magical lighting displays, Polar Express trains, Candyland, live reindeer, a 40-ft. Christmas tree and a visit from Santa. Cultural delights abound during the annual Balboa Park December Nights , held Dec. 5, 3-11 p.m., and Dec 6, noon-11 p.m. This popular holiday event is the largest free community festival in San Diego and includes free admission to the Park's museums from 5-9 p.m. plus delicious foods from around the world.

Yuletide Music, Theater & Dance

The San Diego Symphony presents Eileen Ivers: A Celtic Celebration as part of Holiday Pops, a seasonal music tradition from Dec. 19-21 at Copley Symphony Hall in downtown. America's favorite holiday fable, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, returns to the Tony Award®-winning Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park Nov. 15-Dec. 27 for the 17th year. The timeless holiday classic, The Nutcracker, will be presented by The California Ballet during Dec. 13-14 and 17-21 at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego.

San Diego Attractions Sparkle This Season

SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration returns this year Nov. 15-Jan. 4. Festivities include new Christmas-themed animal shows, festive décor throughout the park, Santa's Cottage, the 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights and SnowWorld, a winter wonderland with gentle hills for kids to sled down and a snowball target area. Dec. 14-Jan. 4 familiar holiday traditions take on a wild twist at the San Diego Zoo's seasonal celebration: Jungle Bells. The Zoo is alight with holiday cheer and decorated with activities to keep the whole family jolly from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except Dec. 24). New this year at LEGOLAND® California's Holiday Snow Days & Winter Nights, Nov. 22-Jan. 4, guests can ice skate in addition to tubing, building snowmen, enjoying the holiday lights and world's largest LEGO® Christmas tree, live entertainment and special treats.

Twinkling Lights and Surfing Santa

Hop aboard the Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley of San Diego nightly from Dec. 4-28 at 7 p.m. (excluding Dec. 5-6 and 24-25), and let the experts guide you on a tour of festive lights in Old Town, the Embarcadero, Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park and more. On Nov. 29, dressed in board shorts, flip flops and riding a watercraft, "Surfing Santa " arrives at Seaport Village, a bayfront shopping complex. Following his arrival, a lively parade takes place on the boardwalk from 1-5 p.m., along with festive live music and entertainment, stilt walkers, eco-friendly ornament making with Birch Aquarium at Scripps, a tree lighting ceremony and more. Guests can also take photos with Santa and enjoy holiday crafts.

Holidays on Ice

The landmark Hotel del Coronado located in the seaside community of Coronado offers a unique Southern California experience with Skating by the Sea, an outdoor ice-skating rink adjacent to Coronado Beach and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The resort's famous Windsor Lawn is transformed into a seaside skating rink offering three-hour skating sessions daily from Nov. 27- Jan. 4. Guests can glide gracefully across the ice surrounded by the bustle of downtown San Diego at Fantasy on Ice, located at Horton Plaza. Daily ice-skating sessions are offered 10 a.m.-10 p.m. from Nov. 20-Jan. 4. Viejas Outlet Center in San Diego's East County is proud to be the home of Southern California's largest outdoor ice-skating rink, open Oct 31-Jan. 4.

Culinary Celebrations

Home to more than 90 breweries, San Diego celebrates its love for beer during San Diego Beer Week, Nov. 7-16. The 10-day extravaganza kicks off with the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival Nov. 7-8, and hundreds of beer-centric events will take place throughout the county. During Nov. 16-23, the 11th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, the region's largest wine and culinary event, features 200 wine and spirit purveyors and 70 of San Diego's notable chefs. Approximately 180 of the region's top restaurants participate in San Diego Restaurant Week, Jan. 21-26 by offering prix-fixe, three-course dinner menus at just $25, $35 or $45 per person and two-course lunch menus for $10, $15 or $20 per person; visitors can sample the signature cuisine and sophisticated style that make San Diego's dining scene one of the region's top attractions.

Holiday Bowls and Golf Greats

Football fans can catch exciting post-season college games at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, including the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23, which matches a team from the Mountain West Conference against an at-large opponent, and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27, featuring a top team from the PAC 10 and Big 12. During Feb. 5-8, the annual Farmers Insurance Open PGA golf tournament takes place at the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.

Happiest of New Year's Eves

The 10th annual Big Night San Diego New Year's Eve gala is an extravagant 21-and-over celebration to ring in the New Year at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel in downtown San Diego. The all-inclusive party features 12 themed rooms, six dance floors, live bands, DJs and more. (9 p.m. -3 a.m.). LEGOLAND California offers Kids' New Year's Eve festivities that won't have the little ones missing bedtime. Kids' New Year's Eve features live music, entertainers and a countdown with a huge LEGO® brick drop followed by a spectacular fireworks display. The party goes from 2-7 p.m.

Happiness is calling in San Diego.  For more information on San Diego's offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212. For visitor information, please call 619.236.1212

The Discovery of King Tut Opened October 11, 2014 at the San Diego Natural History Museum

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) has announced The Discovery of King Tut opened to the public on Saturday, October 11 and remain on view through April 26, 2015. Making its West Coast debut, the breathtaking exhibition presents a recreation of the legendary boy king’s tomb and treasures exactly as they were discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

Seen by more than five million people in two dozen international host cities, Premier Exhibitions, Inc., a leading presenter of museum-quality exhibitions throughout the world, brings The Discovery of King Tut to North America in partnership with Semmel Concerts GmbH. Presenting the actual excavation itself, its story and its invaluable legacy, The Discovery of King Tut comes to San Diego as its second U.S. destination.
Featuring more than 1,000 scientifically-produced replicas hand-crafted by Egyptian artisans, The Discovery of King Tut gives visitors an unbelievable glimpse into the greatest archeological discovery of the 20th century: Tutankhamun’s tomb. The exhibition uniquely allows the public to enjoy the magnificent splendor of these priceless Egyptian treasures without ever harming the fragile, sensitive originals– many of which are no longer permitted to tour outside of Egypt.

“Through state-of-the-art multimedia technology, visitors will learn about the fascinating discovery of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber and take a multi-sensory journey through many other aspects of ancient Egyptian culture,” said Dr. Michael (Mick) Hager, president and CEO of theNAT. “As the first host in the western United States, we are excited to offer this unique exhibition and the transformative experience it provides.”

Visitors will see a large, open gilded outer shrine of the boy king’s burial treasure as Howard Carter first discovered it and the unique golden mask that covered the face of the bandaged mummy. Also featured in the exhibition are gorgeous recreations of Tutankhamun’s throne and chariot. Wider aspects of ancient Egypt’s culture are told through murals, figures of gods and the boy king, jewelry, and furniture. These painstakingly reproduced artifacts touch on ancient Egyptians' beliefs in the afterlife and their efforts to overcome their mortality and conquer death and transience.

“We are thrilled to bring this remarkable exhibit to the West Coast for the first time, and pleased to partner with theNAT, especially as Balboa Park gears up for its 2015 Centennial Celebration,” said Mark Lach, creative director at Premier Exhibitions, Inc. “We value our longstanding relationship with theNAT and have seen great success with previous exhibitions including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and Real Pirates.

We look forward to continuing that trend with The Discovery of King Tut and hopefully beyond.” Tickets are on sale to the general public at www.sdnat.org/kingtut.

Admission: $27 adults; $24 seniors (62+); $21 students and military (with ID); $17 youth (7-17). Children (3-6) and under are included with paid general admission ($11). Children 2 and under are free. Special rates are available for Museum members and groups of 10 or more. Admission prices include audio guides (available in English or Spanish for adults and children) which will give visitors a specialized tour of the exhibition. Visitors will also have access to all other exhibitions in the Museum, along with 2D and 3D films in the giant screen theater, including the Museum’s newest film Mummies 3D: Secrets of the Pharaohs.

The exhibition opens during Kids Free in October, a countywide program organized and sponsored by the San Diego Museum Council and Time Warner Cable. TheNAT will offer free general admission for kids 12 and under and a special rate of $10 for kids’ admission to The Discovery of King Tut.

The Discovery of King Tut and the Museum will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily (closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). Due to the expected popularity of the exhibition, purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended.

For additional information, please visit www.sdnat.org/kingtut or call 877.946.7797.
About the San Diego Natural History Museum:

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all people respect for the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101.

For more information, please call 619.232.3821 or visit www.sdnat.org. Follow theNAT on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on Facebook.

About Premier Exhibitions, Inc.:
Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRXI), located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a foremost presenter of museum quality exhibitions throughout the world. Premier is a recognized leader in developing and displaying unique exhibitions for education and entertainment including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, BODIES...The Exhibition, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, Real Pirates in partnership with National Geographic and Pompeii: The Exhibition. The success of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. lies in its ability to produce, manage, and market exhibitions. Additional information about Premier Exhibitions, Inc. is available at the Company's website: www.PremierExhibitions.com.

About Semmel Concerts GmbH:
Semmel Concerts GmbH, founded in 1991 by Dieter Semmelmann, is now one of the biggest promoters in Germany, presenting more than 1,000 events a year. Whether pop, folk or rock music, or a musical or a show, or else an international exhibition or a cabaret or comedy show, everything that is good and brings people pleasure has a place under the Semmel Concerts logo. A highly-qualified team of more than 100 employees look after the needs of artists and partners alike. In addition to its headquarters in Bayreuth, Semmel Concerts also has several branch offices, including one in Berlin. Since 2000, Semmel Concerts has been part of the listed ticketing service provider, CTS Eventim AG.

25 Free Winter and Holiday Activities in San Diego

From traditional holiday parades and festivals to the migration of California gray whales along the Pacific coast, a visit to San Diego during the winter offers a wealth of free, fun and festive experiences. Visitors to the region can escape overcast skies and the wintry cold for San Diego's brilliant sunshine and temperate climate and enjoy diverse wintertime experiences.

The following suggestions for free activities and events are sure to capture the imagination and lift the spirits of visitors to San Diego during the upcoming winter months.

1. Join the festivities during Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun on Dec. 5 (3-11 p.m.) and Dec. 6 (noon-11 p.m.). The numerous museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park, open their doors free of charge from 5-9 p.m. Festivities in the park include carolers, live music, holiday light displays, theater and dance performances and delicious foods from around the world. Also, be sure not to miss the "Whoville" decorations in the plaza in front of The Old Globe theater, which are on display Nov. 15 - Dec. 27 to coincide with the theater's annual holiday production of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

2. Witness a tradition that began as a gift to the children of San Diego in 1947 - the Annual Mother Goose Parade on Nov. 23 in the East County city of El Cajon. The largest parade in San Diego County, the event features floats, clowns, Santa Claus, marching bands, equestrian teams and celebrity appearances.

3.Whale watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma, as California gray whales migrate south to the warm water breeding grounds off the coast of Baja. Spectators can catch a spectacular show during December through April when these majestic mammals pass through the waters off San Diego's coastline.

4. Be part of a grand Holiday Celebration on Dec. 6 in Coronado with a festive parade along Orange Avenue, the lighting of a 75-foot Christmas tree, holiday music and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay.

5. Enjoy free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park beginning at 2 p.m. each Sunday in October and November and on Dec. 1. The Organ Pavilion features the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, where organists play holiday favorites, waltzes and show tunes from the organ's monstrous 32-foot lead alloy pipes.

6. See Old Town State Historic Park decked out for the holidays during Holiday in the Park on Saturday, Dec. 13 and enjoy holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers. On Dec. 14, watch the 63rd Anniversary Las Posadas, a centuries-old tradition in which actors reenact the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem.

7. Head over to Seaport Village for the festive Surfin' Santa at Seaport Village event on Nov. 29 from 1-5 p.m. Hang ten with San Diego's board short-wearing Santa and enjoy a lively parade down the Seaport Village boardwalk, along with music, kids' crafts and photo opportunities of family and friends with surfin' Santa.

8. Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival on Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m. in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian groups, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.

9. Visit the historic mountain village of ulian in San Diego's rural East County and get immersed into the holiday spirit. This gold mining town kicks off the holiday season on Nov. 29 with the Julian County Christmas & Tree Lighting from 1-5 p.m. at Pioneer Park. The town decorates the buildings along Main Street with twinkling white lights and garlands, and every Saturday until Christmas you can enjoy the sounds of wandering Christmas carolers and a living nativity. Don't forget to get a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious slice of Julian's legendary homemade apple pie.

10. Cheer on the participants of the 51st Annual North Park Toyland Parade on Dec. 6. Enjoy marching bands, floats, vintage cars, dance groups, beauty queens, city officials and Santa in this popular community celebration. The parade is followed by a holiday fair behind the historic North Park Theatre.

11. Let it snow at the Village Walk in Chula Vista as the center's Magical Snow falls accompanied by the sounds of carols every night in the courtyard by the koi pond from Dec. 1-24 at 6 and 7 p.m. On Dec. 13 from 12 to 3 p.m., visitors can enjoy snowfall during the day as Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by the Village Walk for a special event with music, train rides and crafts. Kids can take pictures with Santa and receive coloring books from Mrs. Claus.

12. Bring the family to the SoNo Park Chili Fest on Dec. 7 and celebrate the holidays with the residents and restaurants of South Park and North Park in a chili cook-off. Sample chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls, shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy free live music, kids' activities, gourmet food trucks and beer garden featuring local craft beers and wines.

13. Get a kick out of watching the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade on Dec.14 from 1 to 5 p.m. in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for up to nine costume categories, like best pet holiday costume and ugliest holiday sweater.

14. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla to enjoy the majestic 360 degree view of the city all spruced up in holiday decorations. Along the way, enjoy all the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive community.

15. Stop by the village of La Mesa from 5-10 p.m. on Dec. 12-13 for Christmas in the Village. Enjoy as the village transforms into a Victorian wonderland with a holiday parade, carolers, carriage rides, street performers, live music, entertainment for the whole family and a visit from Santa.

16. Escape the hustle of the city and head to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego's East County to marvel at wildlife and a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers. Anza-Borrego is located just two hours from San Diego via Highway 78 and Interstate 8.

17. Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the country's largest balloon parade, on Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. Floats, balloons and marching bands are just some of the offerings in this colorful holiday parade that takes place along San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego.

18. Admire the twinkling waters of San Diego Bay and the more than 80 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the Annual Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights on Dec. 14 and 21 at 5:30 p.m. This year's theme celebrates children's stories, and great views are available on land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado Ferry Landing.

19. Ring in the season in Chula Vista with Third Avenue's Holiday in the Village and the Starlight Parade on Saturday, Dec. 6. This family-friendly event in San Diego's South Bay showcases themed performances, children's activities, strolling carolers, marching bands and Santa Claus.

20. Dream of a white Christmas in San Diego after making the scenic, one-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna in San Diego's rustic East County. Sled down mountain slopes, build snowmen, make snow angels and have snowball fights (weather conditions permitting).

21. Delight in the festive gatherings of the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on Dec. 13. More than 100 brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

22. Experience a magical evening of holiday celebrations on Dec. 6 at the California Center for the Arts Escondido during the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland Festival. Enjoy seasonal music and Victorian carolers, a visit from Santa, free art activities and treats, a spectacular light show and real snow! Also on Dec. 13, enjoy the 64th Annual Escondido Jaycees Christmas Parade in the city of Escondido.

23. Celebrate holiday cheer on Dec. 13 during Christmas in the Park in North County's Old Poway Park. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visit from Santa, horse-drawn hayrides, live music, theatre performances, food, a petting zoo, crafts and more.

24. Explore San Diego's neighborhoods and marvel at the residential light displays found around the city. Notable neighborhoods include Chula Vista's Christmas Circle along Whitney Street and Mankato St., Christmas Card Lane in Rancho Penasquitos at Oviedo St., La Mesa's Jingle Bell Hill on Solomon Ave. and Pegeen Place, Garrison Street in Point Loma and Poway's Candy Cane Lane starting at Hickory St. and Saddlewood Dr.

25. Come out and cheer on the Encinitas Holiday Parade on Dec. 6 as it rolls along the historic 101 Coast Highway in San Diego's North County. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will include marching bands, children's groups and nearly 100 floats. A 5 p.m. tree lighting ceremony at the Lumberyard Shopping Center will precede the parade.

For more information on San Diego's offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212.

New Core Exhibtition at the San Diego Natural History Museum Provides Overview of the Region's Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) has announced Coast to Cactus in Southern California, a new immersive 8,000-square-foot, $9 million permanent exhibition, will open at the Museum on January 17, 2015. Made possible in part by a $7 million grant from the California Department of State Parks, the exhibition elegantly tells the story of southern California’s unique biodiverse habitats and ecosystems, serving as an informal visitor center that provides an overview of the greatest hits of our region. Located in the Museum’s Dennis and Carol Wilson Hall of Biodiversity, it is also designed to foster caring for and stewardship of the region and inspire an environmentally literate and passionate community.

San Diego is known for its incredibly diverse terrain, ranging from the beaches to the slopes. This terrain is what makes the region one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world, meaning areas that have the highest concentration of different species of any geographic area of similar size. Coast to Cactus illustrates that richness by taking visitors on a journey through southern California’s habitats, from coast to chaparral, mountain forests to deserts.

“The uniqueness of this region as it pertains to biodiversity is extremely important for the Museum to share with the public,” said Michael Wall, vice president of public programs and curator of entomology at the Museum. “Coast to Cactus is literally a physical manifestation of our mission, which is to promote a greater understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California. Plus, by displaying the work of our researchers, we’re able to inspire a newfound respect for nature and the environment. I can’t wait to open this exhibition to the public. It’s going to be extremely inspirational!”

Using specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections alongside immersive environments (hands-on interactive exhibits, live animals, and innovative media), Coast to Cactus will help visitors discover what it means to be a biodiversity hotspot: the story of why one region is home to so many species, why those species are so critically threatened at this moment in history, and why it matters. Some of the exhibition’s main attractions include:

An oversized replica of a segment of mud from a local tidal flat that young visitors can crawl inside, where they can discover what animals live in the mud and how they survive tough intertidal conditions. A recreation of a mid-century residential patio overlooking an urban San Diego canyon depicting how humans share space with nature and bringing to light the impact of introduced species on native plants and animals.

An immersive virtual storybook that tells the tale of the dynamic chaparral ecosystem and how periodic fires are a natural part of life in this signature California habitat.
A multimedia experience that includes an Airstream Bambi and transports visitors to the desert at nighttime, when the sun goes down, temperatures drop, and the seemingly barren landscape springs to life as animals come out to hunt.

Exhibits highlighting the work of people, past and present, whose efforts help us to better understand how the habitats of southern California have changed over time and what we can do to help sustain the plants and animals that live here.

Coast to Cactus is located on Level 2 of the Museum adjacent to its sister core exhibition Fossil Mysteries, which gives visitors a prehistoric look at the San Diego region. Together, the two exhibitions tell the story of southern California from the prehistoric era to present day.

As the newest core exhibition at the Museum, Coast to Cactus will be included with general admission and free for members. For more information, please visit www.sdnat.org/coasttocactus.

About the San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all people respect for the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101.

For more information, please call 619.232.3821 or visit www.sdnat.org. Follow theNAT on twitter.com/SDNHM and instagram.com/sdnhm>Instagram and join the discussion on www.facebook.com/SanDiegoNaturalHistoryMuseum.

2014 Whale Watching Season Begins in San Diego 

Whale watching season in San Diego traditionally occurs from December through April when California gray whales journey from the chilly Alaskan seas to the warm water lagoons of Baja California. 

Guests on a winter cruise can witness thousands of California gray whales come within a few miles of the San Diego coastline on their 5,000-mile southern voyage passage as these "peaceful giants of the sea" swim to warmer climates to birth and rear their young. Their journey is one of nature's most extraordinary events and is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis.

In the fall and summer months, whale watching excursions also tout the opportunity to see humpback, fin and minke whales, along with frequent year-round sightings of bottlenose, pacific white-sided and common dolphins. With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego makes an ideal location for viewing this impressive parade of marine life.

Blue whales, the largest mammal and possibly the largest animal to ever inhabit Earth, can be spotted swimming and feeding off the coast of California during the summer months.

Join the San Diego Natural History Museum Whalers on a breathtaking experience on the open ocean to see these magnificent creatures aboard a large, comfortable yacht from Hornblower Cruises and Events

The 4-hour tour includes live narration by experienced captains and the Museum Whalers, trained naturalists who accompany every cruise. You’ll stay cozy and comfortable with both indoor and outdoor seating, a snack bar featuring hot food, a full bar, and souvenirs. 

By purchasing your tickets through theNAT, you’ll receive up to $20 off retail prices while also supporting the Museum’s mission and programming. See chart below for dates, prices, and purchase options. Cruises start in July.
Three easy way to purchase ticket vouchers*:

At the SDNHM Admissions Desk
By phone: 877.946.7797
By email: customerservice@sdnhm.org

*Ticket vouchers purchased through the Museum require registration with Hornblower for the day and time you wish to go whale watching. Once voucher is purchased, please call 1.800.668.4322 to reserve your spot on a cruise. Photo I.D. required for all adults at the time of boarding.

Whale Watching for "Land-Lubbers"

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla celebrates the gray whale season with educational activities and whale exhibits. The aquarium's outdoor tide-pool plaza, overlooking La Jolla's shoreline and the Pacific Ocean, offers an excellent vantage point for viewing the gray whale's epic journey.

The 5th annual Big Bay Whale Days and Whale Festival in January offers family fun and entertainment along San Diego Bay's downtown waterfront Embarcadero. Throughout the month of January, guests can also celebrate with "Whale of a Deal" packages that provide discounts and coupons for whale watching excursions, restaurants and museums located along the Embarcadero.

Cabrillo National Monument overlooks the ocean and provides a spectacular coastline to discover marine life. Located on the panoramic Point Loma peninsula, the park offers a glass-enclosed observatory for whale watching; guests can also explore whale exhibits and listen to a taped narration describing characteristics of these popular animals. Cabrillo's 27th annual Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival occurs during January and features presentations, exhibits and films. Rangers are also on hand throughout the weekend to assist visitors in spotting whales in the ocean and explore the park's magnificent tide pools. Admission is $5 per private vehicle.

Whale Watching Day Excursions

For more information on other ways to view whales including kayak tours, private yacht charters and Navy SEAL Rigid Inflatable Boat (R.I.B) rides, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212.

San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT)

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT theNAT -- Fascinating lectures, an inspiring photography exhibition, and a new public program worth “celebrating”

Family Programs

Birthday Parties
TheNAT is now available to host birthday parties on Saturdays and Sundays. Does your child love dinosaurs and reptiles or bugs and butterflies? We can make your child’s love even richer and make their next birthday one they will never forget. Please visit www.sdnat.org/birthdayparties for more information.

Family Days
TheNAT hosts monthly Family Days celebrating new exhibitions and fascinating natural science themes. Hosted by our education department’s staff and instructors, participants will conduct experiments, make a craft to take home, and provide a variety of extra activities for a fun and educational family experience. Family Days are free with Museum admission and always run from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Upcoming Family Days include:

*Family Days will temporarily discontinue in July and August, but will restart in September.

Wacky Science Sundays with Ms. Frizzle™ and The Magic School Bus© 

Join us at the Museum every Sunday at 12:15 and 2:15 PM for live performances by Ms. Frizzle. Get ready to explore the wild and wacky worlds of mysterious creatures, fascinating habitats, and phenomenal hands-on science. Free with Museum admission.

Summer Camp at theNAT

Join theNAT for a summer of science, fun, and friendship. Discover dinosaurs, set sail with pirates, and explore nature’s wonders. Registration for Summer Camp is now open. So much is new at theNAT, and we’re thrilled to share it with you! We are offering half-day camps for pre-K and kindergarten and a full-day schedule for grades 1-8. To register, visit www.sdnat.org/summercamp, call 619.255.0210, 877.946.7797, or register in person at the Museum.

Nature & Me Storytime

Calling all budding naturalists! Come enjoy an imaginative journey into nature through dynamic readings and visits to exhibitions. Nature & Me Storytime is the second Thursday of every month at 10:15 AM. Open to all ages with a parent or guardian (recommended for ages 1–5). Free with Museum admission. Upcoming themes include:

For more information on theNAT family programs, please visit www.sdnat.org/familyprograms or call 877.946.7797 (M–F, 10 AM-5 PM).

Giant Screen Theater Films

2D Film Experience—Ocean Oasis (always on view)
Produced by theNAT, Summerhays Films, and PRONATURA A.C., Ocean Oasis takes viewers on a fascinating journey into two remarkably different but inextricably linked worlds—Mexico’s beautiful Sea of Cortés and the Baja California desert. Witness the beauty of life in Baja California’s rich waters and seemingly barren land. Ocean Oasis is the winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the International Wildscreen Film Festival.

Films in the giant screen theater are free with paid admission (except on Residents’ Free Tuesdays), Passports to Balboa Park, Go San Diego Cards, and for Museum members. For the film schedule and additional information, please visit www.sdnat.org/giantscreentheater.

Exhibitions

Ongoing Exhibition—Fossil Mysteries
From dinosaurs to mammoths, discover the rich fossil history of our region. In this major exhibition created by the Museum, visitors can play the role of paleontologist: ponder a mystery, examine the strong fossil evidence from the Museum’s collection, and use scientific tools to discover answers. Traveling through a 75-million-year timeline, from the age of dinosaurs to the Ice Ages, experience an unfolding of the prehistory of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico. Major funding provided by the California Cultural and Historic Endowment; National Science Foundation; Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation.

Ongoing Exhibition—SKULLS
This exhibition contains close to 200 skulls from theNAT’s research collections of animals from all over the world, from the tiny to the spectacular. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are all on display, showcasing an eye-popping array of horns, beaks, bills, teeth, and more. Have a question about a skull? Use the SKULLS chalkboard to ask or get creative and draw your own skull.

Ongoing Exhibition—Water: A California Story
Through photos, maps, video, and hands-on activities, learn about current, local issues on land and in the ocean. Examine the infrastructure of the regional water system, and discover how we import the majority of our water and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on our region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Natural history specimens and live animals will serve as reminders that the natural environment and its inhabitants are also legitimate users of water resources.

For more information on the current exhibitions, please visit www.sdnat.org/currentexhibitions.

Outdoor Activities

Canyoneer Hikes
Explore the diverse biomes and landscapes of San Diego County with Museum Canyoneers, volunteers trained by theNAT to teach appreciation of plans and animals in southern California. These programs occur every weekend and are interpretive nature walks, not endurance hikes. Canyoneers try to accommodate the desires and abilities of all participants.

Visit www.sdnat.org/canyoneerhikes for more information on how you can get involved.
Blue Whale-Watching Cruises (beginning in July)
Blue whales, the largest mammal and possibly the largest animal to ever inhabit Earth, can be spotted swimming and feeding off the San Diego coast during the summer months. As part of our mission, Hornblower Cruises and Events will once again partner with theNAT and its team of Museum Whalers to provide expert commentary on each cruise. Beginning mid-June, discount tickets will be available at the Museum’s admissions desks and on our website. Full price tickets are available on Hornblower’s website.

Visit www.sdnat.org/bluewhalewatching for more information.

About the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
The San Diego Natural History Museum is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all people respect for the environment. For more information, please visit www.sdnat.org, follow theNAT on Twitter, and join the discussion on www.facebook.com/SanDiegoNaturalHistoryMuseum

Where to Eat

Banker's Hill Bar + Restaurant opened at San Diego International Airport

This is part of the Airport's ibnitiative to bring gourmet food from local businesses to airport diners. The Terminal 2 Expansion at San Diego, known as the Green Build Project, began on August 13. As the largest improvement project in the airport's history, The Green Build will not only serve as an economic stimulus--providing nearly 1,000 jobs at peak construction season--but also help accommodate San Diego's current and future demands for travel. The $907 million project features new airport artwork, new gates, and the Sunset Cove building which contains many new restaurant options including local San Diego favorites like Phil's BBQ and Stone Brewery.

From gourmet to take-away, Banker's Hill Bar + Restaurant is one of several restaurants that will have a presence at the airport. Iconic local restauranteur Terryl Gavre and three-time James Beard nominee Chef Carl Schroeder have developed a gourmet menu for airport diners to enjoy, with signature dishes from Banker's Hill's highly acclaimed menu, in addition to pre-packaged items developed for diners to enjoy on-the go.

 Microbreweries & Brewpubs

Containing three of the top ten brewers in the world, according to the popular RateBeer.com website, San Diego North’s explosion of microbreweries has transformed the region into a hot spot for a cold one. Popular beer tasting tours are transforming visitors into beer connoisseurs as they sample award-winning products and learn the secrets behind making fine craft brews.

San Diego North’s microbreweries consistently win prestigious beer awards from various popular beer festivals and outlets including Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, BeerAdvocate.com, RateBeer.com and the Brewers Association World Beer Cup. With over 30 local breweries in the region, several beer events and various microbrew tours, here’s a sampling of some of San Diego North’s favorites for visitors to include during their microbrew vacation experience:

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Brewing more than 50,000 barrels of beer annually in its 55,000 square foot Escondido-based brewery, Stone is recognized as one of the nation’s best breweries by top beer enthusiast websites, RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com. The rich, sophisticated and expertly handcrafted microbrews at Stone Brewing reflect the company’s intricate, award-winning architecture and ambiance that create the world-renowned Stone Brewing brand. Stone’s one-of-a-kind Arrogant Bastard Ale is reminiscent of the company’s famous gargoyle mascot, boasting bold, strong and aggressive flavors. Accompanying its signature beers, the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens offers a fresh, organic menu and is host to several beer and food pairing events throughout the year. The Stone brewpub is also host to a variety of microbrew events and experiences, such as beer and chocolate pairings, behind-the-scenes tours and interactive classes that transform visitors into beer connoisseurs.

Port Brewing Company and The Lost Abbey

– Named one of the top ten brewers in the world by RateBeer.com and the World Beer Cup, Port Brewing Company and The Lost Abbey is Pizza Port’s new company-owned brewing distribution subdivision. The San Marcos-based brewing company has quickly gained momentum and recognition across the world, winning awards for its beers and brewery in various national beer competitions.

Green Flash Brewing Company

– Locally brewed and bottled, Green Flash Brewing Company is located in Vista. The brewery uses high-quality, all-natural ingredients in their handcrafted microbrews, which have received high accolades from beer enthusiast outlets, including a recent gold medal from the World Beer Cup. Green Flash brews their beers in small batches to ensure a high-quality, fresh and pure taste.

Oceanside Ale Works

– Besides being Oceanside’s first brewery, Oceanside Ale Works is also one of the few manual brew houses in the nation. The brewery features European inspired brewing techniques, using old world recipes, interpreted with Southern California flair, for their handcrafted brews. Staying true to its coastal roots, the microbrewery offers beers reminiscent of its Southern California location, such as Surfer Stout and Buccaneer Blonde.

Lightning Brewery

– Located in Poway, Lightning Brewery focuses its beer-making tactics around its company’s philosophy: “Better Beer Through Science.” Holding a Ph.D in biochemistry, the company’s president and head brewer, Jim Crute, strongly emphasizes the biology of yeast and the biochemistry and chemistry processes involved in creating craft beer, ensuring high-quality microbrews. Lightning Brewery is the only local brewery that has a separate decoction vessel for boiling the “mash” created by the unique San Diego “Step Mashing” brewing process, which further enhance the body and flavors of the beers.

Microbrew Experiences

Brew Hop

– The Brew Hop’s tours turn beer sampling into a luxurious experience as guests are transported in style to several local breweries. Packages include samples of microbrews and a behind-the-scenes tour of the breweries. Visitors can choose between a 5-hour “Beer Connoisseur” tour, stopping at four local microbreweries, and a 2 1/2-hour “Beer Tasters” tour, which includes two to three brewery stops.

Brewery Tours of San Diego

– The Brewery Tours of San Diego offers three unique packages, each stopping at three local breweries. All transportation to and from the breweries, beer tastings, behind-the-scenes tours and a souvenir tasting glass are included with each tour package.

Stone Brewing Company’s Annual Anniversary Beer Festival

– Featuring over 40 different breweries, the Stone Brewing Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival is held each year in August. The festival features a variety of great food and microbrews from across the region. Proceeds generated from the event are donated to various charitable organizations.

Pizza Port Carlsbad Annual Beer Festivals

– Pizza Port’s Carlsbad location is host to three popular San Diego North annual beer enthusiast festivals. Festival admission includes a complimentary commemorative glass in addition to beer tastings. The beer festivals at Pizza Port Carlsbad are the country’s oldest organized showcasing of beers from a single style.
·         12-Hour Belgian Beer Party (March)
·         San Diego Real Ale Festival (June)       
·         San Diego Strong Ale Festival (December)

San Diego Beer Festival

– With over 160 brews presented by 60 different breweries, the San Diego Beer Festival is the largest beer-tasting expo in San Diego. Thousands of patrons gather each year in September for great entertainment and samplings of award-winning beer. All event admission proceeds benefit San Diego organizations in the fight against cancer.

Contact Hilary Townsend at 760-745-4747, or Amber Connor at 760-745-4748 for more San Diego North microbrew information: beer and food pairing samples, beer recipes, interviews with Brewmasters, beer tasting tours, additional microbrew vacation ideas, high-resolution images or anything else you may need for a great microbrew destination feature.

About San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau

The San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau provides visitor information for the 2,000 square mile San Diego North region from La Jolla north to Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside to the inland, mountain and desert communities of Escondido, Julian and the Anza-Borrego Desert. For more information, visit www.sandiegonorth.com or call (800) 848-3336.

RESORT SPAS

The legendary Hotel del Coronado, located on the Pacific Ocean, was considered the premier vacation and health destination when it opened in 1888. Victorians were drawn to the therapeutic qualities of the sea-swept breezes and beautiful, soul-satisfying aesthetics of its spectacular setting, and The Del still has the power today to restore the mind, body and spirit.

The Spa at The Del, featuring a décor of calming tones with Victorian accents, was named "one of the top 20 hotel spas in the world" by Travel + Leisure Magazine (2008). This spacious sanctuary features 21 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, steam rooms and a spectacular private beachfront terrace with vanishing edge pool.

The spa’s signature line of ocean-inspired treatments includes the Shell Coronado Massage, Shell Coronado Facial, Island Sands Body Polish and Goddess of the Sea Body Wrap. New offerings include a "That’s S’more" package featuring a couples massage, followed by a private bonfire with s’mores and champagne on the beach; a "Get Lifted" facial using NuFace microcurrents to provide instant toning, and a "Celebration of Life" treatment, benefiting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, San Diego, which helps boost circulation and release toxins from the lymphatic system.

Also available are yoga and meditation classes on the beach, and the Salon at The Del offers the latest in hair, make-up and nail artistry. Located on San Diego Bay, the Sea Spa at Loews Coronado Bay Resort is an ocean-inspired retreat reflective of the resort’s picturesque waterfront setting. Fifteen luxurious treatment areas include a couple’s suite, four private outdoor rooms, a Vichy rain shower and authentic Watsu pool.

The Sea Spa offers a bounty of blissful services like seaweed wraps, sea-salt scrubs, massage therapy and specialized services for men, teens and couples. Signature treatments include the "Signature Sea Spa Massage," based on the traditions of Bali combined with motion of the waves; the "Voga Voyage" couple’s massage, performed aboard a Venetian gondola gliding through the canals of neighboring Coronado Cays and followed by champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, and the "Watsu Flotation," a shiatsu massage performed in water.

Additional spa amenities include a full-service Alfaparf beauty salon, exercise and art classes, sauna and steam rooms, fitness center, tranquil relaxation lounge, Jacuzzi and lush spa garden. www.loewshotels.com/coronadobay.

Spa Coronado at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa is a sanctuary of calm on San Diego Bay, featuring six elegantly appointed spa treatment rooms, a heated 75-foot lap pool, men’s and women’s dry saunas and fitness center.

Guests can reenergize and renew with a variety of pampering massages, facials, body scrubs and therapies. Signature treatments include a Hot Stone Therapy Massage, Sea Side Salt Scrub, Papaya Soufflé Body Wrap, Island Detox Mud Wrap and Saving Face Hydrating Facial, plus specialized services like an in-room couples massage and Gentlemen’s Facial.

Special spa packages include a "Day at the Beach," featuring a choice of body scrub or body wrap, Coronado Custom Massage, Coronado Custom Facial and Ultimate Pedicure, followed by lunch at the spa. The "Relaxation by the Bay" features a Coronado Custom Massage and Facial. www.coronadoresortmarriott.com

Coronado Bliss - An Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa, located at 930 Orange Ave., offers customized facials like the Elemental Nature Facial, Botanical Skin Resurfacing Facial and Green Science Skin Renewing Facial, and beauty treatments like manicures, pedicures, waxing and make-up application. www.coronadobliss.com

Coronado Beauty Salon & Spa, located at 1010 C St., offers reflexology and many varieties of massages like deep tissue and Swedish; seven specialized facials, including purifying, calming and one for teens, and beauty treatments like waxing and make-up application. www.coronadobeautysalon.com

Domani Salon of Beauty and Wellness, located at 1010 Park Pl., is the largest salon in Coronado and features skin and body care, manicures and pedicures. www.domanisaloncoronado.com

La Petite Comfort Day Spa, located at 1309 Ynez Pl., offers facials, massages and make-up application.

Coronado Hair Design & Spa, located at 1330 Orange Ave., Suite 240, offers facials, massages, skin treatments, chemical peels, waxing, laser skin rejuvenation, permanent cosmetics and more in a serene setting. www.coronadohairdesignandspa.com

Orchid Day Spa, located at 1033 B Ave., Suite 104, offers a variety of massages, including deep tissue, Swedish and shiatsu, along with oatmeal mask facials, orchid body scrubs and a foot reflexology spa. Its VIP Package includes a body massage, orchid body scrub, table shower and body shampoo. www.orchiddayspacoronado.com

Spa Nicos, located at 801 Orange Ave., Suite 206, offers a variety of spa services, including massage therapy, facials, diamond tip microdermabration and waxing. www.spanicos.com

Sanctuary Salon & Spa, located at 874 Orange Ave., offers massages and skin care.

Happiness is calling in Coronado. For more information on the "Crown City" and the entire San Diego region, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website, www.sandiego.org and www.sandiego.org/coronado, or call (619) 236-1212.

Exploring San Diego's Great Outdoors

With its year-round near-idyllic climate, varied terrain and abundance of outdoor activities, San Diego County offers recreationalists a vacation experience like no other. Along its 70 miles of coastline, water enthusiasts can surf, snorkel, scuba dive, sail, kayak or discover hidden and colorful tide pools. Appealing to the more rugged vacationer, the vast Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the rolling hills, canyons, lakes and mountains in the north and east of the city offer a completely different outdoor experience.   

In San Diego, nature lovers can camp under the stars, fish in sparkling, freshwater lakes, mountain bike and hike in the Cuyamaca Mountains or trek through the open desert in a four-wheel jeep. The region’s great outdoors beckons guests to explore and exercise year-round with a scope of sporting activities as varied as its topography. 

San Diego's Parks and Reserves

Visitors can bask in sunshine and take a breath of fresh air while exploring the various parks and reserves spread throughout San Diego County (www.co.san-diego.ca.us/parks). The following points of interest provide diverse opportunities for endless outdoor adventures like hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, birding, boating, fishing, rock climbing and camping.   

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park --

Surrounded by an oak woodland forest, pines trees, meadows and creeks, the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park offers a beautiful setting for relaxation. With over 100 miles of trails, visitors can spend the day hiking, biking or horseback riding high above ground with breathtaking views of the desert to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. www.parks.ca.gov

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park --

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California with over 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and numerous hiking trails. Amid 600,000 acres of untouched wilderness, guests encounter soothing warm desert breezes and a beautiful barren land teeming with wildlife like roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, iguanas and red diamond rattlesnakes. www.parks.ca.gov

Mission Valley, Mission Trails Regional --

Within minutes of downtown San Diego in Mission Valley, Mission Trails Regional—the largest contiguous urban preserve in the continental U.S.—provides outdoor enthusiasts with over 40 miles of trails, boating, camping, informative guided hikes and a state-of-the-art Visitor & Interpretive Center. Guests can explore nearly 5,800 acres of both natural and developed recreational land on rugged hills and valley by foot, bike or horseback. www.mtrp.org

Torrey Pines State Reserve --

Torrey Pines State Reserve spans 2,000 acres and preserves its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Among the eight miles of trails, guests can encounter native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. The reserve also includes a visitor center and hosts guided nature walks on weekends and holidays to view points overlooking Peñasquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean. www.torreypines.org

Palomar Mountain State Park --

Palomar Mountain State Park is the Sierra-Nevada of San Diego with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged mountains and 1,863 acres of Coniferous forest. Guest activities include camping, picnicking, hiking and trout fishing. www.parks.ca.gov

Wright's Field --

Twenty-five minutes from downtown San Diego lies Wright’s Field, a natural preserve with over 400 acres of crisscrossing trails and six overlapping ecosystems. Guests can hike, mountain bike or horseback ride through the diverse habitat, which is home to over 300 different plants and animal species. www.bclt.org/wrights.php

Trails

Runners, walkers, bikers and hikers can enjoy miles of scenic trails and pathways throughout San Diego County. Two of the most popular places are--

Balboa Park

www.balboapark.org, with 1,200 acres of beautiful gardens, walkways, biking and hiking trails, and the 4,600-acre

Mission Bay Park

www.sandiego.gov), with 19 miles of pathways winding through grassy recreation areas. 

Hiking & Biking

Following are a selection of lesser known hotspots for guests looking to hike or bike in the San Diego region:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

and the neighboring town of Borrego Springs, is an expansive playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, biking and horseback riding are relaxing ways to explore the terrain with routes that travel up rocky paths, along scenic streams and down steep hills. Three notable trails include Elephant Trees, a hike through desert flora and fauna and named after a rare type of tree covered with colorful flower blossoms; Ghost Mountain, a moderate uphill mountain hike ending at an abandoned stone house surrounded by breathtaking aerial views, and Pictograph Trail, a great family hike in which guests pass through an old Indian village to reach a 50-foot dry waterfall. www.parks.ca.gov

Cabrillo National Monument

Hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and San Diego Bay from the tranquil Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s only National Park. Hikers can escape the hustle and bustle of the city, feel the breeze and sunshine and listen to the barking of sea lions basking on the rocks below, as they wind through the 1.2-mile trail. www.nps.gov

San Diego's East County is a hiker's, biker’s and backpacker's paradise with rocky foothills, chaparral-covered canyons and tree-lined mountains to discover. Popular trailheads and hiking areas include Iron Mountain (Poway), San Pasqual Valley (Escondido), Elfin Forest (Escondido), San Dieguito River Park/Lake Hodges (Rancho Bernardo) and Volcan Mountain (Julian). On many of these trails, guests can reach the summit of one of San Diego's mountain peaks and look out on a clear day to the Pacific Ocean. www.visitsandiegoeast.com 

Mission Trails Regional Park

offers miles of hiking and biking trails that meander along the San Diego River. The park's Cowles Mountain (1591 ft.) offers an impressive hike to the top. www.mtrp.org

Torrey Pines State Reserve

spans eight miles of coastal hiking along four major beach trails. The four differing paths intertwine under forested ground displaying diverse scenery of trees, ocean, wildflowers and sandstone formations. During winter, guests can see California Gray Whales migrating south to Mexico in the distanced ocean view. Throughout the year, lucky sightings of bottle nose dolphins make these hikes a truly memorable experience. www.torreypine.org/index.html

Coastal Biking

San Diego’s varied terrain is a cyclist’s paradise, and East County’s desert trails and rocky mountain paths provide the perfect mix of challenging and leisurely rides. For rides along the region’s scenic waterfront, coastal bike paths also provide varied opportunities for cyclists of all skill levels.

Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, stretches up the San Diego coastline alongside the Pacific Ocean and passes through some of the area’s most beautiful beach towns like Del Mar, Leucadia and Encinitas. Cyclists can begin their journey at any location north of the Mexican border, but the most popular rides start in La Jolla or Del Mar, as cyclists travel north to Oceanside before turning around and heading south again. The route combines miles of flat surface along with challenging hills like the Torrey Pines grade, all with picturesque ocean views. www.sandiego.org

The 27 miles of winding, paved bike paths that circle Mission Bay are car-free and provide a favorable location for family bike rides, leisurely biking and sightseeing. Cyclists can pick a range of distances along the bay, or branch off on side trips to Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Ocean Beach. www.efgh.com/bike/rmbay.ht

The Bayshore Bikeway is a 25-mile ride along San Diego Bay. The majority of the ride runs along bike lanes or separated bike paths, and the scenery varies en route. Riders generally start at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego and head south through National City and Chula Vista, before looping around San Diego Bay into Imperial Beach, and then catching the Silver Strand into Coronado. At that point, riders have the option of turning around and following the trail back or hopping on the Coronado Ferry to cross over San Diego Bay back into downtown San Diego. www.sandag.org

The Silver Strand on the peninsula of Coronado offers an easy 10-mile ride between Coronado and Imperial Beach along a portion of the Bayshore Bikeway. Cyclists pedal parallel to the beach and San Diego Bay along this route, which is often referred to as the most beautiful and cyclist-friendly bike route in Southern California. www.sandiego.org

The hills surrounding Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma offer intermediate and advanced riders a taxing coastal ride. While cyclists power up the hill, early California history surrounds them, as does enticing views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego and Coronado to the east. www.sandiego.org

Climbing

San Diego’s year-round near-perfect climate and short rainy season make it an ideal place for rock climbing. With over 25-million boulders in the County, bouldering is a San Diego specialty, but climbers can also free climb, sport climb, multi-pitch climb or trad climb among hundreds of vertical rocky paths www.rockclimbing.com).

Mission Gorge Mountain is San Diego’s oldest and most popular climbing area for climbers of all skill level. Climbs average 30-70 feet with opportunities for guests to free climb along custom made paths. The mountain is divided into three parts: the Main Wall, a complex arrangement of short walls and large ledges; Limbo Area, the broad central region consisting of small isolated cliffs, and Middle Earth, made of small cliffs and canyons.

Sitting 3,000 feet above El Cajon and Lakeside in San Diego’s East County, El Cajon Mountain, nicknamed “El Cap,” promotes challenging and steep climbs with rewarding panoramic views of the ocean and valleys below. Varied rock formations of walls, ridges, slabs, dihedrals and quarries offer over 25 different routes that climbers can follow or improvise on their upward-bound journey.

Santee Boulders, a very popular field for climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, offers a full-day of challenging climbs. With thick faces and mantles, taxing cracks and steep slopes, the most skilled or novice climbers can enjoy a good climb with nothing more than a sturdy pair of shoes. Among the boulders guests can find over 30 different sections that break out into over 123 climbing routes. www.rockclimbing.com

Front Range Climbing San Diego offers visitors half- and full-day trips and classes in Mission Trails Regional Park, a 5,800-acre park of rugged hills, valleys and open areas, and Mount Woodson, located between Poway and Ramona, where hundreds of strewn granite boulders offer routes that rock climbers of all levels can enjoy. Courses include beginners and intermediate rock climbing classes, as well as a lead rock climbing course. www.frontrangeclimbing.com.

Cave Spelunking

Combining rock climbing, hiking and exploring into one fascinating adventure, cave spelunking is the latest trend in outdoor recreation. San Diego County is home to a number of caves whose locations are kept private for preservation purposes; the Anza-Borrego Desert’s caves are the region’s most treasured taverns filled with unique spelunking surprises.

The Arroyo Tapiado mud caves in the Anza-Borrego Desert are some of the most extensive mud formations worldwide. With 22 different caves to explore, guests can venture deep inside the unknown world of canyons and crevices. Caving enthusiasts have mapped out detailed trails that take visitors inside bat caves, dead ends, narrow corridors, winding paths and rooms with 80-foot ceilings.

Coastal Treasures

San Diego is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in the world for water sports and activities.

Surfing

Opportunities to "hang ten" are abundant up and down San Diego’s 33 public beaches, from Oceanside in the north to Imperial Beach in the south. Guests who want to learn to surf can contact a number of local surfing schools offering lessons and camps, including Mission Bay Sportcenter Ocean Experience, San Diego Surfing Academy, Surf Diva and WB Surfing .

The two-mile stretch along Mission Beach and Pacific Beach offers surf action year-round, from northwest and southwest swells to changing wave shapes with the shifting sandbars. A popular beach for those interested in surfing and sunbathing, a pedestrian boardwalk and the nearby Belmont Park keep both visitors and locals entertained year-round. Additional surf spots include the new Wave House with San Diego’s only FlowRide, a simulated surfing platform with a non-stop wave. Lifeguards are staffed year-round, 9 a.m. to dusk, at Mission Beach’s main lifeguard tower. www.sandiego.gov  

The popular surf spot Stone Steps Beach, located in the coastal community of Encinitas, offers scenery and surf for guests who make the trek down the long stairway from the cliffs above. Popular with swimmers and fisherman as well, Encinitas was designated one of the "10 Best Surf Towns in the U.S." by Surfer Magazine. www.encinitaschamber.com

Windansea Beach in La Jolla is known for its beautiful scenery and community surf culture dating back to the 1940s. Surfers enjoy hard surf breaks created by underwater reefs common in the area, and although the shoreline is rocky, sandstone rocks help to seclude the beach for sunbathers. Lifeguards staff the beach from 9 a.m. to dusk on weekends in the spring, daily in the summer and weekends in September. www.sandiego.gov

Shore Diving/Snorkeling

A popular place for underwater exploration is La Jolla, the stunning Mediterranean-like community just north of downtown San Diego. Guests can explore the area’s protected waters on solo adventures or guided shore tours with Sea Star Adventures www.seastaradventures.com and Hike Bike Kayak San Diego www.hikebikekayak.com).

Underwater explorers often refer to the 6,000-acre marine habitat of the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park as the "jewel of the sea." Located between La Jolla Cove and Torrey Pines State Reserve, the park was the first coastal underwater preserve on the U.S. West Coast and is home to a plethora or marine life. www.sandiego.gov

La Jolla Shores is the most popular dive and snorkel site in San Diego, and just offshore guests can find the La Jolla Submarine Canyon, one of the deepest places in the world. At around 40 ft., the ocean floor drops in a dramatic series of cliff-like ledges that range in height from 5-20 ft. Guests can follow these ledges north or south and explore underwater worlds as deep as 800 ft. The sandy ocean bottom is packed with rays, skates, squids and guitarfish, and the ledges are teeming with marine life ranging from octopus to lobster. www.sandiego.gov

Casa Cove, or the Children’s Pool, is a large man-made reef with convenient beach entry for divers and snorkelers of all skill level. Visibility is best during the summer when guests can catch exquisite displays of underwater sea creatures like leopard sharks, starfish and sea bass. As a year-round beaching location for seals, swimmers often find themselves in playful encounters with these sleek mammals. A short walk down the beach, guests can find South Casa Cove, a recommended site for advanced divers due to the difficulty of exiting and entering the water. www.hef.net

La Jolla Cove is a world-famous dive site located in the La Jolla Ecological Preserve where marine life flourishes and guests are guaranteed to see an array of colorful crustaceans and fish. An excellent place for adventure for divers of all skill levels, the Cove is used for both day and night diving. www.sandiego.gov

Boat Diving

Farther out than most people can comfortably swim, dive and snorkel companies offer boat trips to amazing locations where the distance from the shore increases visibility and marine activity. Divers can join Sea Star Adventures www.seastaradventures.com) for day, night and scooter dives, or OEX Dive & Kayak www.oeexpress.com) as they take visitors out to the following locations:

The Kelp Beds in Point Loma are the fastest growing organisms in the world, growing two feet a day in ideal conditions. Diving and snorkeling conditions vary drastically depending on the weather, but due to the large amount of “tasty” kelp, fish and other marine life are always seen in abundance. The depths of the kelp beds can vary anywhere from 35-70+ feet, and visibility ranges 10-20 feet.

Los Coronados Islands, located in Mexican waters approximately one hour away from San Diego, makes for an easy dive for beginners. Diving is done in safe locations protected from oncoming swells, offering a calmer and clearer experience that replicates diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean. The Islands are also home to sea lions and harbors seals that often join guests during their swim.

A short boat trip from Mission Beach, guests can find themselves in Wreck Alley, an area named for the sunken boat wrecks found below. Guests can see fascinating remains of ships such as the HCMS Yukon, a 366-foot Canadian destroyer ship located two miles off-shore. This spectacular 600-acre, world-class dive site also includes a sunken kelp cutter, Coast Guard cutter, barge and sports fishing boat. Military wrecks include a WWII P-38 bomber, more modern F-14 aircraft and two submarines. Advanced diving certification is recommended but not required. www.scubasandiego.com

Kayaking

Guests can kayak along San Diego’s tranquil waters alone or with many companies that offer instruction, such as Aqua Adventure Kayak Center www.aqua-adventures.com, Hike Bike Kayak San Diego www.hikebikekayak.com, La Jolla Kayak www.lajollakayak.com, Mission Bay Sportcenter www.missionbaysportcenter.com and OEX Dive & Kayak Centers www.oexcalifornia.com).

Just off the coast of La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove, kayakers routinely glide over the clear blue waters of the Pacific, paddling up to tidal caves and small inlets, as curious sea lions swim alongside and bright orange Garibaldi dart in and out of the kelp beds below. The San Diego La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve, protected since 1929, offers kayakers an up-close experience with the marine animals. www.sandiego.gov 

Kayaking and canoeing are also popular in the calm waters of Mission Bay. On the west end of the beach is a network of channels and islands, perfect for kayakers. www.sandiego.gov

SAILING

Sailing in San Diego Bay and the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean is another favorite local pastime. Inexperienced guests can sail with a guide on a rented boat or take lessons from a professional instructor, while more experienced sailors can charter their own boat or test their skills aboard an America’s Cup vessel.

Harbor Sailboats’ chartered tour provides guests a unique opportunity to learn about the history of San Diego from knowledgeable sailboat captains. Guests can choose to sit back and relax or help sail one of the company’s 40-yacht fleet, ranging in size from 27 to 47 feet. Sailing occurs on the flat protected waters of San Diego Bay or the passive Pacific Ocean. Sunset sailing and whale watching excursions are also available. www.harborsailboats.com

J World Sailing – The Performance School, located on Shelter Island along San Diego Bay, allows guests to sail among the big boats against downtown San Diego’s stunning skyline. J World provides lessons and instruction along with customized yacht and bareboat charters through its partnership with Sunsail, the largest yacht and bareboat charter company in the world. Three different sized boats are available for sailing by teens and adults. www.jworld-sailing.com

Inexperienced sailors can find a variety of sailboats to rent and inexpensive lessons to take at Mission Bay Sportcenter, located on Mission Bay. Its fleet of 25 sailboats, catamarans and sailboards can be rented by the hour or full-day, with private or group lessons available if needed. www.missionbaysportcenter.com

Stars & Stripes, the most widely-recognized name among American sailing vessels, is available for charter on San Diego Bay through Next Level Sailing. Located on the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, the company also offers 2-hour public sailing excursions aboard 80-foot International America's Cup Class (IACC) racing yachts. www.nextlevelsailing.com

Airborne

Soaring over the blue Pacific can be a truly exhilarating and often daring experience for many. For those thrill-seekers ready to experience the ultimate rush, the following paragliding and skydiving locations will have guests flying high.

Located just south of the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Torrey Pines Gliderport is a world-class flying site and one of the most successful paragliding schools in North America. Guests can experience tandem hang gliding, paragliding or a sailplane flight with a certified instructor seven days a week, year-round, weather permitting. A lesson includes 5-10 minutes of ground and safety school instruction and 20-30 minutes of motorless flight over the coastal cliffs of Torrey Pines and scenic Blacks Beach. www.flytorrey.com

For experienced paragliders and hang gliders, San Diego’s coastal location offers a variety of cliff side locations to keep every bold glider airborne.  Torrey Pines is a world-class flying site and offers seven different launch sites; Horse Canyon, located an hour east of San Diego, is a great destination for thermals and X-C flying conditions; Little Black Mountain, located just east of La Jolla and Del Mar, is a great place for practicing the basics; Otay Mesa’s launch sites offer a unique birds-eye-view overlooking the city of Tijuana; and Las Salinas in North Mexico provides coastal soaring at its best with a 750’ ridge, set two miles from the coast.

First-time free-fallers or seasoned skydivers can find a jump to fit their comfort zone at these three locations: Skydive San Diego www.skydivesandiego.com), Pacific Coast Skydiving www.pcskydiving.com) and San Diego Skydiving www.sandiegoskydiving.com). Single jumps, tandem jumps, certification and accelerated free falls are available.

Four-Wheel Drive Excursions

San Diego’s spacious desert terrain is the perfect location for fast paced adventure. Guests can speed through sand dunes and zip around cacti in large SUVs or individual ATVs. Visitors can experience the thrill of off-roading along the Anza-Borrego Desert and Baja California with the following companies:

California Overland takes guests deep into the Anza-Borrego Desert on open-air jeep tours. Day Excursions venture out to remote locations complete with ancient Indian village sites, lush canyon oasis and mysterious geologic formations. As day turns to night, guests can literally camp under the stars on the Overnight Excursions where constellations shine bright without any distraction from city lights; camping gear and meals are provided. www.californiaoverland.com

Western Adventures Driving School and Explorers Club takes guests on a journey of a lifetime. Guided tours range 1- 21 days and take riders along the Pacific coast into Mexico. Customized trips include whale watching, kayaking, exploring canyons and rugged terrain, mountain treks, ancient mission sightings and hot spring crossings. www.4westernadventures.com

ATVs, quads and dirt bikes await the bold and daring at California Motorsport Adventures. One-day tours and customized trips into Mexico take visitors into remote locations like secluded beaches and desert sand dunes on trails comfortable enough for beginners and challenging enough for daredevils. Trips can be arranged with meals, accommodations and transportation to and from San Diego. www.letsatv.com

Fishing

Inland freshwater fishing at one of San Diego County's many lakes www.sdfish.com) is another refreshing way to whistle away the day. Visitors can throw out their lines at popular "fishing holes," including Lake Murray, Lake Cuyamaca and El Capitan Lake, where guests can catch trout, catfish or bluegill.

El Capitan Reservoir, located on the San Diego River outside of Lakeside, is known for bass and crappie, which are regularly caught at the north end of the lake. The lake has Florida-strain largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, blue catfish, green sunfish and carp. The minimum size for bass is 15 inches and 10 inches for crappie. Fish limits are five bass, five catfish, 25 crappie and no limit on the others. Guests should plan to fish from onboard a boat; there is only approximately 4 miles of shoreline accessible without one. www.sandiego.gov

At an elevation of 4,600 feet, Lake Cuyamaca is an active freshwater and fly fishing lake, and the only San Diego lake able to stock trout year-round. Located within Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, 44,000 pounds of fish stock the lake, including Florida bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill and sturgeon. Guests can also take advantage of Lake Cuyamaca’s GPS fishing guide to find the best spots on the lake. www.lakecuyamaca.org 

Located within Mission Trails Regional Park, scenic Lake Murray’s fishing season runs December through September. Guests can hook a Florida-strain largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, black crappie or trout, which are stocked in the lake from November through May. The minimum size for bass is 12 inches; catch limits are five trout, bass and catfish, and 25 crappie. Motorized boats are allowed; float tubes are also allowed within 150 feet or less from the shore. www.sandiego.gov

Sportfishing

off the San Diego coast or in neighboring Baja California allows guests to experience the thrill of the catch. Leisurely boat excursions depart daily from Shelter Island and Harbor Island marinas, offering half-, full- and multi-day fishing trips.

Fisherman’s Landing’s fleet of 16 vessels, ranging in length from 57 to 124 ft., offers open party, chartered and long-range trips throughout the waters of San Diego and Mexico. Trips last 1 - 23 days, and guests fish for albacore, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and more. Fisherman’s Landing holds the all-tackle yellowfin tuna world record at 388 pounds. www.fishermanslanding.com

H&M Landing offers half- to multi-day trips aboard their seven-boat fleet. Boats depart daily year-round, on a regular schedule; chartered, long-range Baja trips and whale watching excursions are also available. Depending on the season, fishing trips target albacore, tuna and yellowtail in the waters of Southern California and Mexico. www.hmlanding.com

Point Loma Sportfishing welcomes beginners as well as experienced fisherman to their 17-vessel fleet. Boats range in length from 43 to 112 ft. and fish the local waters of San Diego and Baja Mexico. Half- to multi-day chartered or open party trips are available to fish for albacore, bluefin tuna and yellowtail. www.pointlomasportfishing.com

Camping

The great American enthusiasm for camping is alive and well in San Diego. From Mission Bay to the Anza-Borrego Desert, visitors can experience a change of pace from San Diego’s urban setting and enjoy the solitude and adventure of the great outdoors.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park --

one of the richest and seemingly boundless living museums in the country, offers a wealth of camping possibilities, from full-service campgrounds to find-your-own-spot settings. In fact, Anza-Borrego is one of the few places in San Diego County where camping is allowed outside designated campgrounds. Desert camping enthusiasts can enjoy auto touring on 4x4 routes, as well as biking, hiking, horseback riding and sightseeing. One of the most popular times to visit the park is during March and April when a kaleidoscope of colorful wildflowers splash bold colors across the desert dunes, creating a spectacular floral display. www.parks.ca.gov

Campland on the Bay --

located in Pacific Beach on the north side of Mission Bay, provides 650 tent and RV sites along with its own beach, water sport rentals, pool and Jacuzzi area. Other amenities include a laundry facility, market, boat launch, game room and the Hungry Wolf BBQ & Ice Cream Parlor. www.campland.com

Chula Vista RV Resort & Marina --

offers 237 RV sites with full hookups and boarder sites for privacy. The resort is nestled on picturesque San Diego Bay, surrounded by landscaped parks and adjacent to its own 552 slip marina. Other park amenities include a general store, picnic area with barbecues, swimming pool and spa, laundry facilities, full restrooms club rooms and two full-service restaurants with waterfront dining. www.chulavistarv.com

Mission Bay RV Resort --

located in De Anza Cove on the north side of Mission Bay, provides 260 full hook-up RV sites with free cable and wireless Internet access. The park offers a boat launch on-site and is within walking distance to a beach and 18-hole public golf course. Other amenities include a laundry site and full restrooms. Mission Bay RV Park accepts 1990 or newer model class A & C motor homes, travel trailers and 5th wheels. Older models may be accepted on an individual basis at the sole discretion of management; pop-up tent trailers and converted school and transit busses are not accepted. www.missionbayrvresort.com

Nature Walks

A nature walk in San Diego is another tranquil way to spend the day and gain inner peace. With spectacular botanical gardens that are tantalizing to the eye and soothing to the soul, and with a diversity of scenic settings form the ocean to the desert, San Diego offers numerous places where one can find sanctuary with the environment.

Balboa Park --

One of the most lushly planted parks in North America, Balboa Park includes 180 varieties of roses in the Inez Rose Garden, the ornate Spanish-inspired Alcazar Garden, a 2.5-acre Desert Garden featuring succulents and the Japanese Friendship Garden, complete with a soothing Zen rock garden and koi pond. The park also offers a variety of tours that offer insight to the park’s rich history, horticulture and botanical beauty. www.balboapark.org

San Diego Harbor --

one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, is part of San Diego Bay, a bustling waterway plied by ferryboats, cruise ships, sailboats, yachts, fishing vessels and the U.S. Navy’s armada of battleships and aircraft carriers. Surrounding the Bay are 16 public parks; their 250 bay-front acres and miles of landscaped promenades provide ideal vantage points to view the ever-changing seascape and gleaming San Diego skyline. Public art can be seen everywhere, with popular displays ranging from sculptures and murals to mosaics and pottery works. www.thebigbay.com

San Diego’s numerous beaches are where the sands of time stand still and the rhythm of the waves brings guests into a world of complete comfort and relaxation. Some of the nation’s finest beaches are located in San Diego County; for example, Coronado Beach is consistently rated among “America’s Top Ten Beaches” by the Travel Channel. Whether sauntering along the shoreline or exploring the amazing world of tide pools, guests are sure to find themselves at ease along San Diego’s beaches and waterfront. www.sandiego.gov

Quail Botanical Gardens --

in Encinitas has garnered international attention for its diverse collection of rare and endangered species and gardens dedicated to flora from Africa, Australia, California, Central America, the Mediterranean and Middle East, just to name a few. Docent-led tours are free with paid admission to the gardens every Saturday at 10 a.m. www.qbgardens.com 

Batiquitos Lagoon --

Walks along Batiquitos Lagoon, one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the Southern California coast, are easy to moderate with many stops along the way; group led tours point out interesting plants, birds, insects and geology en route. Public walks are offered during weekends and cover an array of topics like “Looking for Reptiles,” “Walk like an Indian,” “Feet and Feathers” and “What’s Bugging You?” www.batiquitosfoundation.org

For more information on San Diego, contact the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2215 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101, or call (619) 236-1212. In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center, located at the corner of W. Broadway and Harbor Drive in downtown, or the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla. Internet users can visit www.sandiego.org.

Blue Marble Spa Opens at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina

The Blue Marble Spa invites guests to restore, cultivate and connect in the all-natural, Eco-Friendly spa located at the newly transformed Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina in San Diego. Eleven treatment spaces and a private earth garden are available for Blue Marble guests to enjoy, including four individual treatment rooms, an oversized suite for couples with individual rain showers, a manicure and pedicure lounge, and five outdoor spa cabanas. The Blue Marble Spa sources as much as possible from other green companies, offers organic spa services, uses only recycled paper and eco-friendly cleaning products, offers its treatment menu in digital format, and provides eco-friendly literature for reading and further education.

For more information contact the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Blue Marble Spa, (619) 758-4900, www.missionbay.hyatt.com

Children’s Museum of San Diego Opens New Facility Downtown

The Children’s Museum/Museo de los Ninos San Diego has opened the Muse, its new state-of-the-art facility in downtown San Diego. The $25-million facility will include a dramatic three-story atrium, 17-foot concrete entrance bridge, six interior and two exterior galleries for hands-on art experimentation, two birthday party rooms, 250-seat-theater, and indoor/outdoor cafe. The Muse is considered to be downtown San Diego’s first public “green” project because of its environmentally friendly architecture and infrastructure practices, including the use of recycled building materials, water-saving devices and natural convection cooling. Located across from the Muse is a 1-acre park specifically designed for children with three shade-covered play spaces and an interactive cargo net climbing structure.

For more information contact (619) 233-8792, www.sdchildrensmuseum.org. 

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego opened in October in the city’s renowned Gaslamp Quarter. The 12-story, 315,000-square-foot property features 420 suites, including 17 Rock Star Suites; a hip lobby lounge (Sweetwater Saloon) and rooftop pool bar (Moonstone Lounge) created by Rande Gerber; Nobu restaurant, created by celebrated chef Nobu Matsuhisa; a fourth-floor urban garden overlooking the Gaslamp Quarter; 40,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space; Maryjane’s, a retro coffee shop; and a luxurious Rock Spa. Suites are styled with cantilevered furniture, halo-illuminated beds dressed in 300-thread-count cotton linens, green-room inspired refreshment centers and sensual bathrooms with ceiling-mounted rain showers. Technological amenities include integrated video and sound systems, including a home theater entertainment center with 42-inch LCD high-definition televisions and a jack pack for connecting electronic devices, WiFi Internet access and a laptop safe. Guests opting for an ultra-VIP experience can choose to stay in one of 17 custom-designed Rock Star Suites that take the chic urban loft idea to a new level with matte leather couches, vibrantly colored fur pillows, dark ebony floors and hand-woven custom rugs. One suite located on the top floor of the hotel features a fire pit and deck seating for 20, while another boasts 270-degree views of the San Diego Bay and an outdoor hot tub. One extraordinary Rock Star Suite is designed by the Grammy-award-winning Black Eyed Peas.

For more information contact the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, (619) 702-3000, (888) 593-6177, www.hardrockhotelsd.com.

San Diego Tour Company

San Diego’s newest tour company, San Diego Insider Tours, offers thematic group and private tours illuminating the many offerings that make San Diego exceptional. The Surf Culture Safari tour is a four-hour experience where guests get acquainted with four popular beach communities, visit the world’s first dedicated surfing park and largest artificial wave-generating machine, learn to read surf patterns, sample fish tacos, and shop for surf gear and beach culture memorabilia. During the Photographic Treasure Hunt, visitors start at the waterfront in downtown San Diego and venture to the botanical offerings of Balboa Park, where they visit a grove of redwoods and giant sequoias, a hidden butterfly garden, a tropical palm-filled canyon, and one of the top public rose collections in the world.  The Beads, Baubles and Jewelry Junket is a shopping-oriented excursion to the largest wholesaler of beads, gems, and jewelry in the United States. A 90-minute beginning beading class allows participants to create their own necklace and bracelet as a souvenir. A gourmet snack is included with all tours.

For more information contact the San Diego Insider Tours, (858) 488-7512, info@sandiegoinsidertours.com, www.sandiegoinsidertours.com.

American Indian Casino Opens in East San Diego County

La Posta Casino, located approximately 25 minutes past Alpine in San Diego’s East County, opened in January 2007. The 20,000-square-foot casino houses 349 slot machines and is planning to offer shuttle service from San Diego, Mexicali, Tijuana, Calexico and Tecate. The casino features an in-house International House of Pancakes with patio tables to enjoy panoramic mountaintop views.

For more information contact (619) 824-4121, info@LaPostaCasino.com, www.lapostacasino.com.

Santa Ysabel Casino Opens In San Diego County

The Santa Ysabel Casino, San Diego County’s 10th American Indian gaming venue, opened in April 2007 in San Diego’s East County by the Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueno Indians. The $30-million, 35,000-square-foot facility includes 349 slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, billiard tables, and arcade games. Designed as a mountain lodge, the casino boasts an enviable view of Lake Henshaw and the surrounding mountains, and also includes a 150-seat restaurant buffet, along with a brewery-themed bar and lounge.

For more information -- (760) 782-0909, www.santaysabelresortandcasino.com.

Grande Colonial Hotel (La Jolla)

The Grande Colonial Hotel has completed a $4-million-plus historical restoration project of the Little Hotel by the Sea and the Garden Terraces, adding 18 new suites to the hotel. Both the Little Hotel by the Sea and Garden Terraces buildings are located directly adjacent to the historic Grande Colonial. The restoration project began in September 2005 and was completed in the summer of 2007. The eight-suite Little Hotel by the Sea and the 10-suite Garden Terraces have both operated as residential apartment complexes for the past 30 years. They will maintain their individual names but will become part of the Grande Colonial Hotel, La Jolla’s oldest hotel, which opened in 1913. Guests will have full use of the amenities of the Grande Colonial to include swimming pool, room service, bell and valet service, meeting facilities, complimentary high-speed Internet access, and dining at the award-winning Nine-Ten Restaurant. Two significant elements of the Little Hotel by the Sea project included the restoration of the building’s rooftop “loft” and deck, and restoration of the 1929 Baker & Sons elevator. The Grande Colonial has been a landmark in the seaside village of La Jolla since 1913. After completing the renovation, the hotel now offers 93 European-style, air-conditioned guest rooms and suites.

For more information contact (858) 454-2181, www.thegrandecolonial.com.

Birch Aquariuim Opens at Scripps'

How will global warming impact your life? Discover the answers through interactive activities for all ages at Birch Aquarium at Scripps’ newest exhibit, “Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge.” Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, have been on the cutting edge of climate research for half a century. “Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge” is the first exhibit of its kind in San Diego County. Fast-forward to a television newsroom in 2050 and broadcast California’s weather report. View stunning images from around the planet that offer insight into staggering environmental changes under way. Magnify microscopic fossils to explore ways scientists track temperature across centuries. Test your knowledge of whether everyday activities contribute to climate change or help reduce its effects. Learn what critical role the oceans play in global temperature. Discover the latest ideas for reducing carbon emissions. “Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge” presents the science of global warming, highlight Scripps’ half-century commitment to studying climate change and educate visitors on current environmental changes and those projected for the future. Birch Aquarium at Scripps is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is $7.50-$11.

For more information contact; (858) 534-FISH, or web site www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/exhibits

Hornblower Cruises & Events -- The Best San Diego Holiday Parties Are Anchored By A Seasoned Crew  

Chocolate fountains are out, cupcakes are in. Widely known as the "it" dessert of 2006, the chocolate fountain is being replaced with the mini "must-have" desserts this holiday party season. But that doesn't mean that the chocolate won't be flowing this year as well.

With more than three decades of experience, the event planners at Hornblower Cruises & Events have seen a dramatic increase in number of companies seeking professional help to plan innovative and cost-effective solutions for holiday events. Why? Too busy executives are being tasked with planning a memorable event that will yield great attendance. In addition there is confusion with the sheer number of venue choices available. With the ability to accommodate small departments of 30 to entire companies of 1,000, Hornblower's fleet in San Diego includes classic wood cruisers and modern yachts, all elegantly furnished to create perfect venues for entertaining on San Diego Bay. In addition to eight luxury yachts, Hornblower also operates The Abbey, a beautiful historic building on the edge of Balboa Park.

The Hornblower crew takes pride in providing expertise during the entire planning and execution process. From casual cocktail cruises to seated gourmet dinners, anything is possible. Providing even more flexibility when it comes to creating the perfect holiday event, Hornblower offers unique venues both on and off the water, as well as various event packages that are offered as-is or customized for each particular group.


The holiday party has evolved from a punch bowl in the conference room to an exciting and memorable event for companies large and small. Whether your group is looking for an interactive dessert idea like giving guests the opportunity to decorate their own sugar cookie or cupcakes or flowing chocolate fountains, taking advantage of hot trends and seasoned traditions is easy. All it takes is a crew with past experience and an eye for innovation.

Hornblower Cruises show the best of their innovation and experience with their new holiday web site, www.hornbloweryachts.com/holiday07.

Say Ahh! At Coronado's Spas

Tracing its nurturing roots back to 1886 when visionary investors dreamed of a sumptuous seaside sanctuary that would be the "talk of the Western world," Coronado was created for rejuvenation and indulgence. Cradled between the calm waters of San Diego Bay and the refreshing seascape of the Pacific Ocean, this little slice of paradise is the perfect backdrop for rekindling the soul and pampering the body.

Today, the enchanted "island" of Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego, is home to three luxurious resort spas and several day spas, specializing in relaxing, invigorating and imaginative treatments.

Where to Stay

West Inn & Suites in Carlsbad

It was our lucky day when we discovered the West Inn & Suites -- for it was not only close to Legoland, other great attractions, and a free beach only about 5 minutes away. This Inn proved to be one of the most comfortable, friendliest places we've ever stayed at. Besides the efficient, courteous and friendly desk people and maids, all rooms feature King-sized beds, Aveda amenities, huge towels and lots of them, 30" High definition TVs and DVD player, a microwave and refrigerator, and complimentary parking - both outdoors and underground.

Awakening to a delicious and free full breakfast each morning started the day off right. One morning we had scrambled eggs and bacon; the next pancakes or French toast; but if you're watching your weight (which we weren't) there's a choice of cereals and lots more, in addition to an assortment of breads, fruit, milk, tea, hot chocolate and coffee. Equally enjoyable were the small shopping bags in the lobby next to cakes and coffee we could take up to our rooms or have later as a snack. There were lots of families the week we were here, but the children never were noisy because this fine Inn supplies lots of games to keep all ages busy for hours. And, each evening, we helped ourselves to free cookies, tea, coffee or hot chocolate. That's not all --- for Monday through Thursday guests are invited for a glass of wine or bottle of beer complete with nuts, chocolate covered raisins or cracker mix -- free of charge!

The Inn, 100% smoke-free, has a large heated outdoor pool and spa, a fitness center, and a casual and fine dining restaurant on the premises. Another plus is the free shuttle service within Carlsbad - a lovely town with fabulous shopping and quaint stores.

This is a place we'll definitely call our home away from home on our next visit to San Diego.

For more information on special packages, visit web site www.westinnandsuites.com or call 866-431-WEST. The Inn is located at 4970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA

Grand Del Mar Hotel 

The Grand Del Mar, San Diego’s newest luxury 249-room resort offers luxury accommodations, including 31 luxurious suites; an 18-hole, 400-acre Tom Fazio-designed golf course; two tennis courts; a Renaissance-inspired Spa; four sparkling pools; and regional dining, including the award-winning Addison restaurant. 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting space includes a 10,000-square-foot ornate ballroom and a private dining room in the resort's cellar. Located on the serene Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve, an on-site naturalist is available to lead nature walks, canyon expeditions and mountain bike tours throughout the reserve. Featuring an exotic mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan and Venetian elements, The Grand Del Mar pays tribute to the distinctive style of Addison Mizner, an architectural visionary whose design approach launched the “Florida Renaissance” in the 1920s. Amidst the fine art, antiques and beautifully handcrafted details of the landmark resort is a special, uncommon touch: a private chapel.

For more information contact (858) 314-2000, (888) 314-2030, www.thegranddelmar.com.

SAN FRANCISCO (Cities & Towns Follow After The News)

What to See & Do

City by the bay turns into gallery at night with temporary and permanent exhibitions

While artists have been utilizing light to illuminate art from the beginning of time, light art has been gaining awareness as its own art form where the main media of expression and focus is light.   As a center of innovation, San Francisco has attracted these installations like, well, moths to a flame.

While the city is already aglow for the holidays, San Francisco is also celebrating light as art with truly brilliant, eco-friendly light art exhibits. This convergence is being called Illuminate SF and consists of six temporary and/or permanent installations:

The Bay Lights, by Leo Villareal

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, north side of western span

The Bay Lights is the world’s largest LED light sculpture, 1.8 miles wide and 500 feet high. Inspired by the Bay Bridge’s 75th Anniversary, its 25,000 white LED lights are individually programmed by artist Leo Villareal to create a never-repeating, dazzling display across the Bay Bridge’s west span.  The Bay Lights is a monumental tour de force eight times the scale of the Eiffel Tower’s 100th Anniversary lighting. Views of this Bay Bridge light sculpture are best witnessed along the Embarcadero/Waterfront, particularly from the Ferry Building to Pier 33. See a Best Views interactive map, learn about the Path to Permanence campaign and view The Bay Lights streamed live nightly at thebaylights.org.

Currently temporary exhibit on view through March 2015 from dusk until dawn.

Firefly, by Ned Kahn

525 Golden Gate Ave. at Polk St.
Civic Center
*Civic Art Collection

Created by celebrated environmental artist Ned Kahn, Firefly is a nearly 12-story kinetic sculpture that was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) new state-of-the-art headquarters. Kahn’s Firefly is a lattice of tens of thousands of five-inch-square, clear-polycarbonate panels hinged to allow them to move freely in the wind. During the day, the ever-changing wind pressure profile on the building appears as undulating waves. At night, this movement is converted into light. As the wind presses the hinged panels inward a small embedded magnet connected to an electrical reed switch triggers the flickering of tiny LED lights. The lights are colored to mimic fireflies, which are a threatened species due to their dependence on riparian ecosystems. The entire sculpture requires less energy than a 75-Watt light bulb.

Permanent installation, viewable 24/7 on the exterior of the PUC headquarters, lighting up each evening upon nightfall.

Firefly, by Ned Kahn

Language of the Birds, Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn
Intersection of Broadway and Columbus Avenues, North Beach
*Civic Art Collection

Language of the Birds is a permanent site-specific sculpture by San Francisco artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, located at the intersection of Broadway and Columbus avenues. Commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission through the city’s two-percent-for-art program this piece is part of a new pedestrian plaza linking Chinatown and North Beach. Each book mimics a bird in motion with various wing positions created by the forms of the pages and bindings. At night LED lights embedded within the books create visual patterns; at different times one might see the flock subtly pulsing or giving off a spectacular zoetrope effect. It is the first solar power-offset public artwork in California, and artists Goggin and Keehn teamed up with scientist David Shearer and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore to provide solar power to the city’s grid, offsetting the energy used by the artwork. Passing under the flock, pedestrians will notice words and phrases embedded in the plaza floor, which appear to have fallen from the pages above. On closer inspection the fallen words are in English, Italian and Chinese and were selected from the neighborhood’s rich literary history.

Permanent installation viewable 24/7, lighting up each evening at nightfall.

Language of the Birds, Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn

*The Civic Art Collection encompasses more than 4,000 objects, including historic monuments, murals, paintings, sculptures, installations and other media. The San Francisco Arts Commission oversees this rich and diverse collection, which helps distinguishes the city as an important cultural destination. To learn more visit, www.sfartscommission.org.

Future’s Past, Kate Raudenbush                               

Patricia’s Green at Octavia and Hayes Streets, Hayes Valley

In close collaboration with the Hayes Valley Arts Coalition and Hayes Valley community members, the Black Rock Arts Foundation showcases an admired work of art crafted by Kate Raudenbush and temporarily installed in Hayes Valley’s Patricia’s Green. First exhibited at Burning Man 2010, Future’s Past is an intricate metal sculpture standing 24 feet tall. The quiet, contained space provokes, invites and nurtures introspection and examination of the relationship between nature, technology as well as culture and tells a story of civilization being reclaimed by nature. The 12-foot base of the piece harkens an ancient pyramid and springing from its top is an ornate 12-foot Bodhi tree, which is a symbol of freedom from earthly attachments. At night, eerie green light shines through the finely cut, circuit board-like patterns in the base’s walls. The mysterious, temple-like structure evokes an archeological account of another time, or even an alien culture.

Temporary installation, viewable 24/7, lighting up each evening at nightfall.

Three Gems, James Turrell
de Young Museum, Osher Sculpture Garden, Golden Gate Park

Best known for his visionary work with light, James Turrell’s Three Gems is a subterranean installation commissioned specifically for the de Young sculpture garden. It features a view of the sky altered by LED lighting effects highlighted by changing light and weather conditions outside.  Although Turrell has created other skyspaces, his project for the de Young was his first skyspace to adopt the stupa form. Experience Three Gems by walking through a short tunnel cut into the hill, and enter into a cylindrical space carved out of the hill. The retaining walls of this cylindrical space will be white concrete and the floor will be red stone. Once inside the stupa, sit on a stone bench lining the walls and view the sky through an oculus cut in the roof of the chamber. Viewers’ perceptions of the sky color will be subtly altered by an LED lighting system inside the chamber, and by changing light and weather conditions outside the chamber.

Permanent installation, during museum hours of operation, admission required.

NOTE: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points on 30 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 76 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit flysfo.com. Follow SFO on twitter.com/flysfo and facebook.com/flysfo.

Alcatraz Breaks Out!

Alcatraz, the world-famous former Federal penitentiary and International visitor destination in the center of San Francisco Bay, hasbenefited from a multi-million-dollar restoration and renovation that has dramatically transformed and improved the way visitors experience the iconic national park.   

A joint project of the National Park Service (NPS) and its non-profit partner, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (Parks Conservancy), the $3.5 million renovation marks the most ambitious and far-reaching program and improvement effort on Alcatraz since the Island opened to the public more than thirty years ago. In addition to dramatic new visitor enhancements, the project also ensures the ongoing preservation and protection of the Island’s rare historical, cultural and natural resources. 

Taking a holistic, experiential approach to the project, over the last two years NPS and Parks Conservancy staff have completely revamped how visitors experience The Rock—from their arrival in the historic Cellhouse, to a compelling new digital audio tour, to the new museum store featuring archival exhibits of authentic prison artifacts.  The ambitious project also has resulted in improved accessibility, and a vision to renovate and conserve the famed Alcatraz Gardens.

Highlights of the Alcatraz preservation and renovation project include: 

The new Alcatraz “Doing Time” Audio Tour has been produced by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in conjunction with Antenna Audio, a subsidiary of Discovery Travel Media. The original Alcatraz tour transformed the audio tour industry in 1987, and over the last twenty years more than 20 million people have taken it. The new all-digital version incorporates the best elements from the  original—including interviews with former Alcatraz inmates, correctional officers and family members—with new first-person dialogue, state-of-the-art sound effects, and new MP-5 players. The tour is included with every Alcatraz ticket, and is now available in eight languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. 

Archival museum collections spanning the history of Alcatraz through its notoriety as America’s most infamous Federal penitentiary are being publicly exhibited for the first time.  Highlights include restored cell furnishings, actual prisoner artifacts, and historic artwork and photographs depicting daily life on The Rock.

The vastly expanded Alcatraz Cellhouse Museum Store features exhibits of many of the historic artifacts from the federal penitentiary years (1934-1963). Items include the actual implements used by inmates during the 1962 break out made famous in the movie Escape from Alcatraz; authentic inmate handcuffs and shackles; and correctional officer badges and blackjacks.  Complementing the artifacts, the Parks Conservancy has released a series of replicas based on these historic items as part of the unique Alcatraz product line.

On any given day, the new Alcatraz Author Program features historians, former inmates, correctional officers, naturalists and other special guests who have written about Alcatraz on the Island and interacting with visitors.  A calendar of events is available at www.parksconservancy.org/alcatraz.

The National Park Service is dedicated to making Alcatraz accessible to all visitors, and working with the Parks Conservancy has implemented various improvements, including elevators to formerly inaccessible areas of the Cellhouse and more frequent tram service from the landing dock.

The 180-seat orientation theater brings a high-tech touch to the visual history of The Rock. A new film produced by Discovery Communications introduces visitors to the diversity of the Island through compelling historical footage and first-person narration.

New exterior exhibits have been installed across the Island, providing visitors with in-depth information on The Rock’s history, architecture, wildlife, and landscape as they take in world-class San Francisco views. 

In its commitment to protect the natural resources of the Island, staff and volunteers ensure ongoing restoration and conservation of the Island ecosystem, including habitat protection for the more than 20,000 sea birds viewed on the Island each season. 

Alcatraz Gardens

a striking historic landscape with some plants originally planted in the 1800s, are being lovingly restored after nearly 100 years of decline. The Alcatraz Historic Gardens Project, sponsored by the Parks Conservancy and the Garden Conservancy, aims to restore, preserve and maintain the gardens created by those who lived on the Island during its Federal prison and military eras. The project also interprets their history, horticulture and cultural significance for Alcatraz visitors.

“Thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service in partnership with the Parks Conservancy’s supporters, staff and volunteers, the many faces of Alcatraz are being preserved for future generations,” Moore said. “It’s a great time for everyone to take a new look at The Rock, which now, more than ever, delivers one of the world’s most memorable visitor experiences.”

Alcatraz is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets well in advance, especially during peak summer season.  For schedules, prices, and to purchase tickets, visit the Alcatraz Cruises web site at www.alcatrazcruises.com. Additional information on the Island itself is available through the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/alcatraz, or the Parks Conservancy at www.parksconservancy.org.

About the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy:  The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization that works in collaboration with the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust to improve park sites, enlist volunteers in restoration projects, provide services and education programs for visitors and local communities, and build a community dedicated to preserving the national parks at the Golden Gate. To learn more about Conservancy activities, visit www.parksconservancy.org.

Docent Tours of Historic Gardens of Alcatraz

New docent tours of the Historic Gardens of Alcatraz are revealing the “softer side of ‘The Rock’” to those who visit the popular national park site. Held each Friday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m., the docent tours leave from the island’s dock area, so those interested must take the 9 a.m. boat from Pier 33. There is no additional charge once visitors are on the island. For those who can’t fit a docent tour into their visit, a self-guided walking tour of the gardens is described in a new brochure, which is available for free at the dock on Alcatraz. During the docent tour, visitors explore five garden areas inspired by the work of many early gardeners on The Rock. When the prison was closed in 1963, the gardens were abandoned. Nonetheless, nearly 200 species of shrubs, succulents, bulbs and perennials continued to survive in rocky soil with no fertilizers or supplemental water. Vintage images and historical records of the Alcatraz gardens from the mid-1800s through 1963 were carefully reviewed for the “Historic Gardens of Alcatraz” preservation project, which was spearheaded by the Garden Conservancy in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

For details contact Maria Martinez, Garden Conservancy, (415) 441-4300, mmartinez@gardenconservancy.org, www.gardenconservancy.org.

Alcatraz Cruises Launches Nation’s First Hybrid Ferry Boat

Alcatraz Cruises has introduced the Hornblower Hybrid, a wind, solar and diesel powered hybrid vessel. In addition to solar panels and wind turbines, the Hornblower Hybrid also has Tier 2 marine diesel engines. These cleaner, fuel-efficient engines reduce the amount of diesel fuel used, emissions and overall carbon footprint. The vessel also contains a number of other environmentally friendly materials. The carpeting contains post consumer recycled materials, is recyclable and meets the U.S. Green Building Council LEED criteria for recycled content. A significant portion of the interior signage is printed on Plyboo, a composite material made from sustainable sources and containing no harmful chemicals. The countertops throughout the vessel are made by Vetrazzo from pieces of recycled vodka bottles. The lighting throughout the vessel is LED, which requires a fraction of the energy of standard bulbs and provides an equal or greater amount of illumination. The Hybrid is a multipurpose vessel within the Alcatraz Cruises fleet, ferrying visitors to Alcatraz Island and Angel Island, as well as taking school groups and other passengers on cruises around the Bay. The vessel is also available for private events.

Experience Life Aboard a 19th Century Sailing Ship at San Francisco's Maritime Park

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers daily guided tours of the historic sailing ship, Balclutha, berthed at Hyde Street Pier. Learn how sailors adapted to harsh conditions, dangerous storms, poor food and little pay. After the guided tour, descend below deck to experience the sights and sounds of "Cargo is King," a new exhibit that tells how the Balclutha, an 1886 square-rigged ship once known as the Star of Alaska, contributed to the social and economic development of the Bay Area, California and the world packing coal, lumber, wool, wheat, rice, Scotch whisky and the mineral nitrate. The program is included in the cost to board the historic ships at Hyde Street Pier; admission is $5 for adults, children under 16 free.

For more information, telephone 415-447-5000 or check web site www.nps.gov/safr. .

“Play it by Ear” at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Bay Area Discovery Museum, a nationally recognized, hands-on children’s museum dedicated to childhood creativity, located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, announced the encore installation of “Play it by Ear,” a traveling exhibition featuring whimsical creations from San Francisco Bay Area sound artists. Within the exhibition, families are able to tinker and play with original works of contemporary sound art, including a keyboard that activates dancing Slinkys, a giant music box that lets children create the melody, and a soundscape where children hear their movement. “Play it by Ear” engages families in the creative process by linking them with artists and inventors, as well as by providing an area to make their own sound art objects.

Angel Island U.S. Immigration Station Restored

After years and millions of dollars in renovation, the historic United States Immigration Station on Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay has been reopened for public visits. The center was the West coast equivalent to Ellis Island in New York harbor, processing immigrants arriving after journeying across the Pacific Ocean. Some 90 different nationalities entered the U.S. through Angel Island from 1910 to 1940, including Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, Punjabi and others. During World War II, the center housed prisoners of war. The structures at Angel Island were destined for destruction, when a state park ranger found Chinese calligraphy and other writings carved into barrack walls. The writing included poignant poetry of the immigrants’ experiences and illuminated a sad period in U.S. immigration. New interpretive placards and displays, as well as artifacts representing the clothing and personal effects of immigrants who passed through the station, tell the story.

PIER 39 Welcomes New San Francisco Carousel

PIER 39 is pleased to announce the arrival of its new San Francisco Carousel. The two-story carousel was custom-made in Sernaglia, Treviso in Italy. Artisans handcrafted the glittering merry-go-round to feature numerous unique marine animals, and hand-painted the double-decker ride with stylized depictions of famous San Francisco landmarks. The marine life-influenced carousel offers 32 animals to ride, including sea dragons, hippocampi sea lions, dolphins, pandas, and of course, horses. Among the intricately designed animals are two stationary chariots and, for the more adventurous riders, there are two spinning tubs. The carousel—the only one in the country featuring artistic renderings of its home city—is hand-painted with famous San Francisco landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Alcatraz and the popular California sea lions, who have made their home at PIER 39 for the past 20 years. The carousel is also energy efficient, with LED lighting throughout.

Artisanal Wine Dinners At Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is delighted to introduce exclusive wine dinners this fall showcasing two of Napa Valley’s premier vineyards, Swanson and Blackbird. Guests are also invited to continue the epicurean journey with a stay in a luxurious guestroom in the sky.

Swanson Wine Dinner
On October 24, 2014
the hotel will host a delightful artisanal wine dinner with Clarke and Elizabeth Swanson of Swanson Vineyards and winemaker Chris Phelps. To complement the unique wine selections, Brasserie S&P Executive Chef Adam Mali has created a five-course menu which features Pommes Gaufrettes (2012 Chardonnay), Roasted Sonoma Quail (2011 Merlot), Coriander Black Pepper Crusted Big Eye Tuna (2011 Zinfandel), Charred Fallon Hills Ranch Lamb Loin (2010 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon) and a “Pumpkin Pie” with persimmon (2008 Tardif Late Harvest Chardonnay).
The Swanson Wine Dinner begins at 7:00 pm with hand-passed canapés and Swanson Rosato, followed by an exclusive vertical tasting of Face Cabernet Sauvignon from 2008, 2009 and 2010.

For dinner guests looking to turn their evening in the city into a weekend stay, Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is offering a special rate of USD 415 plus tax per night for the evenings of October 24 and 25, 2014. For reservations, please email mosfo-reservations@mohg.com or call +1 (415) 276 9888 and mention Swanson Wine Dinner.

Blackbird Wine Dinner
On November 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm, the terroir-driven wines of Blackbird Vineyards will be paired with a farm-to-table four-course menu specially created by Chef Mali. The wine dinner will begin with the 2013 Maisonry Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Recuerdo Aliado Malbec as well as a selection of canapés.

The seasonal four-course menu includes Baked Dungeness Crab Gratin (2013 Blackbird Rosé), Confit of Liberty Duck Leg (2012 Blackbird Vineyards Arise), Slow Roasted Fallon Hills Ranch Lamb Shoulder (2012 Blackbird Vineyards Denary Cuvée and 2011 Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Red), and Local Artisanal Cheese with Poached Autumn Fruit (2006 Blackbird Vineyards Illustration Red).

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is delighted to offer wine dinner guests a special rate of USD 395 plus tax per night for the nights of November 7 and 8, 2014. For reservations, please email mosfo-reservations@mohg.com or call +1 (415) 276 9888 and mention Blackbird Wine Dinner.

The Swanson Wine Dinner is priced at USD 175 per person or USD 150 per person for Swanson Wine Club Members. The Blackbird Wine Dinner is priced at USD 150 per person. For reservations, please call +1 (415) 276 9784 or email adomizio@mohg.com.

ABOUT MANDARIN ORIENTAL, SAN FRANCISCO
The Forbes Five-Star awarded 158-room Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is located in the heart of the city and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the bay and beyond from the top 11 floors of San Francisco’s third tallest building, 345 California Center. Having recently completed an extensive refurbishment with the addition of Brasserie S&P restaurant and bar, and an 8,000 square foot Spa and Fitness Center, the hotel is consistently ranked among the world’s top hotels by leading authorities. The Spa is the only Forbes Five-Star awarded spa in Northern California. Features include Travel + Leisure ‘World’s Best Hotels’ Awards 2014, Wine Spectator Magazine ‘Best of Award of Excellence’ 2014; CondeNast Traveler Readers Poll ‘Best Business Travel Hotels’ 2013 ranked 7th in the U.S. For reservations or more information, please call +1 800 622 0404 or visit www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco

ABOUT MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL GROUP
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the most luxurious hotels, resorts and residences. Having grown from a well-respected Asian hotel company into a global brand, the Group now operates, or has under development, 45 hotels representing close to 11,000 rooms in 25 countries, with 20 hotels in Asia, ten in The Americas and 15 in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. In addition, the Group operates or has under development, 13 Residences at Mandarin Oriental connected to its properties.

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco AND Meadowood Napa Valley Announce ‘Town and Country’ TRAVEL package City Lights, Country Charm - An Ultimate Dining & Wine Getaway

San Francisco is one of the most exciting and scenic cities in America, with some of the world’s finest vineyards in the nearby countryside of Napa Valley. With the new “Town and Country” travel package from Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco and Meadowood Napa Valley, travelers can treat themselves to the best of both destinations, seamlessly blending the finest in accommodations, dining and wine tasting in one ultimate travel experience.

The five-day, four-night offering begins with a personal chauffeur to greet arriving guests inside the San Francisco Airport to drive them in comfort to Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco’s door. Two nights accommodation in a luxurious guest room featuring spectacular bird’s-eye views of the San Francisco Bay awaits; a special wine welcome amenity, chef’s prix fixe dinner for two paired with select wines in Silks restaurant, daily breakfast, in the privacy of your guest room or in Silks, are just a few of the indulgent activities and amenities offered.

After two energizing days in the City by the Bay, guests will journey to the wine country for two days of quiet relaxation including indulgent spa treatments at Meadowood. Settle into a guest room with tranquil views and warm fire and emerge just in time for a private one-hour fireside wine tasting, then continue on to dinner for a memorable four-course meal with wines expertly paired in The Restaurant at Meadowood. Enjoy a country breakfast each morning in the privacy of your guest room or in The Grill overlooking the fairways, croquet lawns and wooded hillsides.

The five-day, four-night “Town and Country” combined offering includes:

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Two nights accommodation in a luxurious guest room with superb San Francisco views
Round trip private car airport transfers
Full American breakfast for two daily in the privacy of your room or in Silks Restaurant
Welcome signature MO Bar Twist cocktail in MO Bar
A trio sampler of Napa Valley wines paired with local artisan cheeses and a selection of Calistoga waters welcome amenity
Chef’s prix fixe dinner for two paired with wines in Silks restaurant, awarded four stars by Mobil Guide and three and half stars by the San Francisco Chronicle
Valet parking daily
*Optional feature: Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco receives special pricing on luxury automobiles rentals and will happily arrange three days rental of a luxury car of your choice via National for an additional fee.

About Meadowood

Meadowood is nestled among 250 private acres in the heart of Napa Valley, America’s premiere wine growing region. The estate is a center for social, cultural, and viticultural life in the valley and is known for its beautiful, natural setting, gracious hospitality, classic architecture, and traditional pastimes including croquet, tennis, golf, swimming, hiking, bird-watching, fine dining, and the enjoyment of wine. Also a private club, Meadowood counts Napa Valley’s most prominent vintners among its membership. A Relais & Chateaux property, Meadowood is one mile east from downtown St. Helena and 18 miles north of Napa.

Where to Stay

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Lexus Hybrid Living Join Forces For Eco-Chic Suites

Eco-savvy travelers can now enjoy luxury, style and a commitment to sustainability when they visit two premier hotels. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Lexus are partnering to unveil two "Lexus Hybrid Living Suites" geared for eco-conscious visitors, with the first to launch at The Fairmont San Francisco, followed by The Fairmont Washington, D.C. in conjunction with Earth Day.

Guests can sleep, eat and drink sustainably in these unique suites, with every aspect of the room meticulously planned for the eco-minded traveler, incorporating ideas and products from Lexus Hybrid Living partners (lexus.com/hybridliving). Complimentary use of a Lexus LS 600h L awaits the Lexus Hybrid Living Suite visitor who wishes to explore the area in the comfort of a low-emission luxury car that spoils the driver, not the environment.

"Lexus has long been the leader in luxury hybrid vehicles, but we have extended our commitment to the sustainable lifestyle through Lexus Hybrid Living. It showcases people and products dedicated to minimizing their impact on the earth without sacrificing style and comfort," said Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. "Our partnership with Fairmont helps Lexus bring that thought process to life with amazing eco-luxury suites in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C."

Famed eco-designer Kelly LaPlante, of LA's Kelly LaPlante Organic Interior Design (kellylaplante.com), is responsible for the design. Organic materials and rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo, have been used in the creation of the suite. Highlights of the décor include furniture by Kelly LaPlante and the Kenneth Cobonpue collection, eco-friendly fabrics by Q Collection, an organic mattress system by Suite Sleep, bedding by Coyuchi Organic, organic towels and robes by Nandina, environmentally friendly paint provided by Benjamin Moore Aura, and pillows and comforters by Sleep & Beyond. Lexus has installed a custom coffee table, designed by LaPlante, utilizing pieces of leather recycled from Lexus vehicles. Additionally, the designer worked with local antique dealers to secure select pieces of furniture that are both unique and sustainable by nature of their re-use.

The Lexus Hybrid Living Suite at The Fairmont San Francisco features wrap around windows offering guests postcard-worthy views of the city including the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Chinatown. The windows of the corner suite have been designed to allow natural light to stream in, reducing the need for artificial lighting and marrying sumptuous eco-friendly quarters with the beauty of the outdoor environment. All fixtures in the room utilize compact fluorescent lights, also found throughout the hotel's 591 newly renovated guestrooms and suites.

Guests in San Francisco and Washington will enjoy a Green Guide, as well as an audio podcast, during their stay. The guides recommend environmentally friendly activities in the destination, including suggested highlights found on the Lexus Hybrid Living website. From eco-friendly bath amenities to mini-bars stocked with local biodynamic wines, organic farmstead cheeses and other delicious treats from each region, the Lexus Hybrid Living Suite will provide an unforgettable taste of the "green life."

For more information, visit www.fairmont.com. To book the Lexus Hybrid Living suite, call 415-772-5147.

LEXUS HYBRID LIVING

As the only luxury automotive company selling low-emission hybrid vehicles, Lexus is a leader in offering products that minimize the impact on the earth without sacrificing style and luxury. Lexus is bringing like-minded individuals and companies together through its Hybrid Living initiative, a series of events and a web portal that showcases luxury products made with sustainability top-of-mind. Lexus Hybrid Living helps to define and inspire a new eco-luxury lifestyle by featuring furniture, fashion, art, food, architectural structures and other products that are kinder to the environment. For more information, please visit www.Lexus.com/hybridliving.

FAIRMONT HOTELS & RESORTS

A leader in the global hospitality industry, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is an extraordinary collection of luxury hotels, which includes iconic landmarks like The Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Monte Carlo and New York's The Plaza. Fairmont hotels are one-of-a-kind properties where sophisticated travellers can discover culturally rich experiences that are authentic to the destination. Situated in some of the most exclusive and pristine areas in the world, Fairmont is committed to responsible tourism and is an industry leader in sustainable hotel management with its award-winning Green Partnership program. Fairmont's portfolio includes 55 distinctive hotels, with plans to develop over 20 new properties in the coming years in destinations as diverse as Beijing, Abu Dhabi and South Africa.

Fairmont is owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, a leading global hotel company with over 85 hotels worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. The company also owns Fairmont and Raffles branded Residences, Estates and luxury private residence club properties. For more information or reservations, please call 1-800-441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.

Spanish Language Guidebook Available for San Francisco Travel Planning

Portada has added a new visitors guide for the Spanish-speaking visitor: Descubre San Francisco en Español. The free monthly guide is available at more than 240 hotels in San Francisco, airports, select retail shopping centers and the Visitor Information Center of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. The guide is also available online. Maps, general information, neighborhood descriptions, transit tips and information on areas beyond San Francisco are covered in the guide. The magazine is distributed to outbound passengers at local airports by Mexicana Airlines; inbound passengers from Mexico (and soon Spain) receive the visitors guide. It is also distributed to travel trade professionals in Mexico.

For more information check web site www.descubresf.com.

Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel Unveils Dramatic Renovation

In a stark departure from the traditional waterfront area theme, the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf’s $33-million renovation debuts a sophisticated style that opens the hotel up to its surroundings with a bright, flowing design. The 529-room hotel is one of the largest hospitality complexes in San Francisco’s most popular tourism area. Its new design features renovated guestrooms and common areas, as well as a unique new ballroom and a landscaped outdoor courtyard for private parties. The renovated hotel also features an outdoor living room that is an extension of the lobby, with fire pits and seating areas. The main enhancement to the hotel’s meeting space is the addition of the 2,731-square-foot Embarcadero Room. This ballroom offers an outside foyer that also includes an outdoor living room and fire pits.

For more information contact Chris Ahlberg, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, (415) 362-5500, chris.ahlberg@ihrco.com, www.sheraton.com/fishermanswharf.

Intercontintal Hotel OpenedI

The 32-story, 550-room InterContinental San Francisco has opened at 888 Howard St., adjacent to Moscone West. The hotel includes a street-level restaurant and bar wrapping around the corner of Fifth and Howard streets in an L-shape; 46,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space; spa; swimming pool located on the sixth floor; and parking.

For more information contact the San Francisco Visitor Information Center, (415) 391-2000, vic1@sanfrancisco.travel, www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com. 

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco Announces Launch of Seasons Steak & Seafood     

Executive Chef Jeremy Emmerson and Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco announce the launch of Seasons Steak & Seafood, the newly reconcepted restaurant combining premier cuts of meat and the freshest seafood in a seasonally changing menu that innovates and refines the steakhouse concept. Emmerson and Restaurant Chef Amy Engberts combined the best of their culinary expertise to develop the new menu, which features lighter preparations of creative side dishes and a unique Surf N’ Turf tasting menu, while maintaining the integrity of the original Seasons dining experience and Four Seasons’ legendary, intuitive service.

Innovative Menu:

Coherent with Four Seasons’ reputation for offering the highest quality ingredients on the market, Seasons Steak and Seafood sources the best, prime steak and freshest seafood available, such as Korobuta pork chops and American Kobe flatiron steak from Snake River Farms and venison from New Zealand. Accompanied by roasted organic Fingerling potatoes, each steak and seafood from the grill menu is further customizable with a choice of sides – lighter, refined versions of steakhouse favorites which allow the fresh, locally sourced and organic produce to shine. Swiss Chard, Fennel and Mushroom Gratin and Baked Iaccopa Butter Beans are alternatives to traditional scalloped potatoes or creamed spinach.

Fresh Take on Surf N’ Turf:

In addition to these customizable accompaniments, the new menu offers a seasonally changing Surf N’ Turf tasting menu, unique in the San Francisco steak house genre. With the three-part tasting menu, each plate offers diners an opportunity to enjoy two, smaller portions of complementary dishes, all expertly paired with generous 3oz. pours of wine. Each course’s two-part combination is both traditional and unexpected: Tuna Tartare n’ Beef Tartare is followed by Maine Lobster n’ Milk Fed Veal Chop, and the menu is completed with Grayson Cheese n’ Profiteroles.

Premier Wine Program:

The wine program reflects the changes in the restaurant’s menu. The extensive, expertly paired wine list, emphasizing California’s boutique wineries, the majority from Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara, now includes a Surf N’ Turf section of specially selected wines to pair with menu items “From the Land” and “From the Sea,” complementing the steak and seafood preparations on the menu. The wine offerings will change often based on availability, seasonality and new additions to the menu.

Executive Chef Jeremy Emmerson:

A native of Surrey, England, Chef Emmerson spent more than a decade perfecting his culinary techniques with illustrious chefs in extraordinary kitchens before arriving at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, including positions at Four Seasons London; The Regent London, a Four Seasons Hotel; Four Seasons Palm Beach with the resort’s award winning Executive Chef Hubert Des Marais; Ritz Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel, with Executive Chef George Bumbaris and Dining Room Chef Sarah Stegner. Emmerson oversees the talented culinary team at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and Seasons Steak & Seafood, infusing the hotel’s connection with the local food scene with frequent trips to San Francisco Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market. Emmerson also oversees Globalchefs.com - an online culinary magazine that he launched in May 2000.

For more information on Seasons Steak & Seafood Restaurant or to make a reservation, please visit www.fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco or call (415) 633-3838.

Tours and Activities

Stroll San Francisco's Story-Tours Offer "The Whole San Francisco Shebang"
No San Francisco stone is left unturned in the self-guided, MP3/iPod-based Stroll San Francisco story-tours. Featuring professional actors portraying historical characters, San Franciscans telling their own stories, city historians bringing the past to life, music, sound effects and a lively narrator, Stroll San Francisco has 33 different tours of major San Francisco landmarks and neighborhoods. Tours can be purchased individually ($4.99-$9.99) or the "whole shebang" for $14.99.

For more information and to sample a tour, call 415-665-8911 or check web site www.strollsanfrancisco.com. .

Lisa Culinary Excursions Whet Appetites in San Francisco

Twice a week, Epicurean Concierge Lisa Rogovin leads tours of the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace and Farmer's Market. After a morning sampling olive oil varieties, chocolate confections, delicious cheeses and gathering goodies for home and garden, the culinary adventurers are then treated to a sumptuous lunch at a restaurant known for high quality food and the use of local and seasonal ingredients or can opt for a hands-on cooking class and sit-down lunch in a private home.

By reservation only; fees range from $125-$500. For more information, call 415-806-5970 or check web site www.inthekitchenwithlisa.com.

Museum News

Legacy of Life in Internment Camps Captured in Exhibits, New A.C.T. Drama

In 1942 following President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, some 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast were interned in detention camps for the balance of the war. The remembrances of those internees, the art they created and their reactions to returning to San Francisco after World War II form the basis for several new exhibitions and a new play produced by the American Conservatory Theatre.

SF Cameraworks Opens New Gallery on San Francisco's Mission Street

Mssion's Street's "museum row" in downtown San Francisco has gained another tenant: SF Cameraworks. Located just above the Cartoon Art Museum at 657 Mission St., it is the fifth museum to open in the 600 block of Mission Street, also home to the Museum of the African Diaspora, the California Historical Society and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. Just a few steps away are the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Zeum and the future homes of The Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Mexican Museum. SF Cameraworks, the Bay Area's only non-profit photography gallery focusing on emerging artists, was founded in 1974. In addition to a 3,000 sf gallery, the site is home to an education center and 3,000-volume library which includes many rare and out-of-print publications.

For more information, call 415-512-2020 or check web site www.sfcamerawork.org.

San Francisco Restaurant News

Bistro 1689,

1689 Church St., 415-550-8298, www.bistro1689.com, located in Noe Valley, debuted during the summer with its refined French/California cuisine emphasizing the rustic flavors of southwest France and cooked with produce from small farms, delivered daily from organic sources whenever possible. Bistro 1689, known for their Monday and Tuesday $39 three-course prix fixe menu which features "bottomless wine by the glass" (not available for wines sold by the bottle), is open for dinner nightly; closed Sunday.

Bushi-Tei,

1638 Bush St., 415-440-4959, www.bushi-tei.com, located in the heart of San Francisco's historic Japantown, combines wood paneling dating back to 1863 from Nagano, Japan with edgy modern touches. Launched in 2005 the restaurant's fusion cuisine got a coveted one star in the new Michelin San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country guide. Chef Seiji "Waka" Wakabayashi's three-course Omakase tasting menu with wine pairing for $50 is a favorite of patrons drawn to his melding of French, Californian and Japanese influences. Dinner nightly; closed Monday.

Pres a Vi Global Cuisine & Wine Bar,

One Letterman Drive, Building D, Suite 150, 415-409-3000, www.presavi.com, opened in November, 2006 at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco's Presidio. This casual restaurant and wine bar serves an eclectic array, some 20 to 30 choices, of international small plates. Chef Kelly Degala's commitment to global cuisine is reflected in dishes that reflect Spanish, Filipino, French, Italian and Latin American influences. To encourage wine and food pairings, the restaurant also offers guests the opportunity to sample single three-ounce tastes. Lunch and dinner daily.

Sam's Chowder House,

4210 North Cabrillo Hwy., Half Moon Bay, 650-712-0245, www.samschowderhouse.com, opened in October, 2006 -- a sister restaurant to Cetrella, quickly became a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Set on the magnificent California coastline in Half Moon Bay, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Sam's Chowder House offers a casual and authentic New England-style seafood experience. The menu will feature a daily selection of fresh fish - grilled, broiled or sautéed to perfection, an array of delicious seafood dishes, live lobsters and crabs, a raw bar, and a variety of local specialties, all priced to coincide with the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant. Lunch and dinner daily.

SAN JOSE

Hotel Valencia Santana Row Offers An Exciting Sea to Sky Package Tour - Perfect for the Summer

The boutique Silicon Valley hotel has created a stunning Sea to Sky tour for adventurous guests to enjoy while they explore the area in and around the Santa Cruz Mountains. This package for a group of 6 is a once-in-a-lifetime retreat for:

· A few couples that want to relax, be treated like royalty and enjoy the sights of Silicon Valley & beyond as they celebrate their friendship.
· A bachelorette party or sleep-over for a circle of best girlfriends.
· Longtime friends to reunite for a weekend of excitement.
· A company who wants to participate in a unique team-building experience.

No matter the occasion, this new package is an epic vacation for locals or faraway visitors.
Hotel Valencia Santana Row is the #1 hotel in San Jose on U.S. News and World Report's list, and also earned a top spot on the 2014 Conde Nast Gold Traveler's List and Reader's List.

The Hotel Valencia Santana Row Sea to Sky Tour package includes:
· A 2-night stay at Hotel Valencia Santana Row in three guest rooms: the Presidential Suite and 2 King suites.
. In room welcome goodies:
· Wine and cheese presentation featuring local products
· 1 bottle of Cristal champagne and special chocolate selection in each room
. Dinner hosted in Suite:
· Honorary guests of the hotel's Executive Chef
· Personalized 6-course menu created just for your group by Chef
· Custom wine-flight to accompany Chef's menu
· Live music in the Suite
. 2 drinks per person at Vbar
. Breakfast for the group served in Presidential Suite each morning
· A 2-hour Seahorse Equestrian Tour in Monterey on the beach
· A helicopter ride and winery tour featuring stunning Santa Cruz and famous Monterey Bay view
· A $1000 gift card for the group to Santana Row merchants with a personal shopper
· Personalized limousine service to and from all locations
·
Price: $15,000 (More guests can be added for an additional fee)

Hotel Valencia Santana Row is the only overnight establishment located on Santana Row - a European-inspired neighborhood known for its dynamic mix of upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. Just minutes away from dozens of mountain wineries and the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, it‚s the perfect place for a romantic fall wedding.

For more information and downloadable high-res images, visit www.hotelvalencia-santanarow.com.

SAN LUIS OBISPO

SLO County Passport is Free

Visitors to San Luis Obispo County can save hundreds of dollars on their travels through the Central Coast. The free SLO County Passport offers 50 percent discounts at participating hotels, restaurants, retail stores, day spas, golf course and wineries. The 2007 discount card is available online at www.coastalvisitor.com or by calling (805) 545-9777.

For more information contact SLO County Passport, (805) 545-9777, www.coastalvisitor.com.

Courtyard by Marriott Opens in San Luis Obispo

Visitors to San Luis Obispo can now stay at the new Courtyard by Marriott. Featuring mission-style architecture, Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo features 132 spacious guestrooms and seven suites furnished with a flat screen television, complimentary wireless Internet access, and a refrigerator and microwave. Hotel amenities include five meeting rooms, heated swimming pool and spa, fitness center and the Courtyard Café which serves breakfast and dinner. Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo is conveniently located near California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

For more information contact the Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo, (805) 786-4200 or (800) 321-2211, www.marriott.com.

SAN MARINO

What to See and Do

The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens

After visiting this fantastic place, I know you'll agree that one afternoon or one day isn't enough to take in all the charm, beauty, history or gardens.

ART

The art collections alone occupy two separate buildings, and a third structure - the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, offer changing exhibits. Completed in 1911, the Huntington Art Gallery was originally the Huntington's residence. Today it displays one of the finest collections of Europen art in the nation, as well as a look at the family's lifestyle. Highlights of the 18th-century British and French art include Gainsborough's Blue Boy, Lawrence's Pinkie, and Jean-Antoine Houdon's bronze Diana, the Huntress. The gallery is 55,000 square feet, displaying approximately 1,200 objects from the 15th-century Netherlandish and Italian works to British "Grand Manner" portraiture to objects from the 19th-century British Design Reform movement.

The Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art bring together American art from the colonial period through the miuddle of the 20th century. Among the painting in the 16,000-square-foot space are Mary Cassatt's Breakfast in Bed, Edward Hopper's The Long Leg, and Frederic Church's Chimborazo. Here you'll find sculpture besides paintings and decorative arts, plus a permanent exhibition devoted to the work of early-20th-century Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene.

Botanical Gardens

Here you'll find something new each time you come. More than a dozen gardens cover 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds. the Desert Gardens include a large outdoor grouping of mature cacti and other succulents; the Japanese Garden features a drum bridge and a furnished Japanese house; and the Rose Garden shows the history of the rose over 2,000 years. The exceptional Chinese Garden -- Liu Fang Yuan, or Garden of Flowing Fragrance -- features a lake, a complex of pavilions, a teahouse and tea shoip plus five stone bridges. Also on the grounds are the Subtropical, Herb, Jungle and Palm gardens. The Botanical Center features The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science, the Helen and Peter Bing Children's Garden, and the Associated Foundations Teaching Greenhouse -- and these all serve as hands-on discovery centers for children and families.

Library

The library contains an extraorldinary number of rate books and manuscripts in the fields of British and American hisotry and literature. The Huntington is one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States in its fields of specialization, plus manuscripts of Anglo-American civilization. Together, the library holds more than 6 million items.

The main exhibit hall displays a range of treasures, including the Ellesmeremanuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, the double-elephant folio edition of Audubon's Birds of America, and a world-class collection of the early editions of Shakespeare's works. The Dibner Hall of the History of Science showcases The Huntington's extensive holdings on the history of science, medicine and technology - from Ptolemy and Newton to Darwin and Einstein. The West Hall of the Library has changing exhibitions focosing on a variety of subjects, including photography, the Founding Fathers, and significant literary figures and movements. This Library is also among the nation's most important centers for the study of the American West, with an unsurpassed collection of materials that span the full range of American western settlement, including the overland pioneer experience, the Gold Rush, and lthe development of Southern California.

Located on the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington, the galleries of this research and cultural center feature 18th and 19th century British and French masterpieces including Pinkie and The Blue Boy. The botanical gardens feature 14,000 varieties of plants on over 150 acres. They include the new Chinese Garden (breathtaking), Rose Garden, varieties of plants on over 150 acres. Also, the Herb Garden, Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, Zen Garden, Australian Garden and others. The library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible and Canterbury Tales.

The Dibner Hall of the History of Science has a new permanent exhibition on the history of science and invites visitors to explore scientific ideas that changed the world in the fields of astronomy, natural history, medicine and light. The approximately 100 items on display range from Ptolemy to Hubble, from Darwin to Einstein.

The Chinese Garden is exceptional. the Garden of Flowing Fragrance - Liu Fang Yuan - is California's first public Chinese Garden. It covers 3.5 acres of a planned 12-acre site and features a lake, pavilions, bridges, and a tea house set against a wooded backdrop of mature oaks and pines. Many plants native to China complete the landscape. Phase two of the garden is now under development.

Conservatory for Botanical Science is an exciting new science education program geared toward students ages 9-12 and is housed in the 16,000-sq. ft. Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. Using interactive exhibits, children and families can use real plants and real tools to do real science. Exotic flora and hands-on learning stations invite active exploration of plant science, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Event Dates

Fall Exhibitions -- "A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning and Memory in the American Civil War," will be the first to draw from The Huntington's deep collection of visual material related to the Civil War, using more than 150 photographs to explore how images explained, reflected and shaped a national fixation on wartime losses.

Additional Exhibitions -- "Al Martinez: Bard of L.A.," celebrating the beloved longtime Los Angeles Times columnist's archive, and an exhibtion of works by American Regionalist painter Roger Medearis (1920-2001).

Location: 1151 Oxford Road, 626-405-2100. Web site www.huntington.org.

SAN MATEO COUNTY

About San Mateo County

San Mateo County/Silicon Valley is part of the San Francisco Bay Area with 60-miles (96.5-km) of unique coastline immediately south of San Francisco. It is bordered on the east by San Francisco Bay, on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the south through Palo Alto and Stanford University, encompassing 447 square miles (719 sq. km).

With over 170 hotels offering a combined total of approximately 17,000 guest rooms, and easy access by air, land and sea, San Mateo County has it all! Easy access via San Francisco International Airport ( SFO is located in San Mateo County) Complimentary roundtrip shuttle service to/from SFO from most airport hotels.

A safe, scenic setting just minutes away from down-town San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and the Pacific Coast! Convenient commuter rail service to downtown San Francisco & San Jose (approx. 20 minute ride: under $5 fare) Spectacular attractions from great shopping and dining to unique museums, historical attractions, and coastal towns!

CLIMATE: Sunshine and mild temperatures. Average annual temperature is a pleasant 68F/20C degrees (summer highs rarely over 78F/25C degrees and winter lows in the mid 50F/10C). Average rainfall is approximately 20in/50.8cm per year, occurring primarily from December to March.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Año Nuevo State Reserve, Filoli Center, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Sanchez Adobe, Pigeon Point and Montara Lighthouses, San Mateo County History Museum, Hiller Aviation Museum, Stanford University and more!

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: PIER 39, Blue & Gold Fleet, Red & White Fleet, Golden Gate Fields Racetrack, USS Hornet, Winchester Mystery House, San Francisco & Oakland Zoos, Teatro ZinZanni, San Francisco Wax Museum, California’s Great America, the Exploratorium, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Japanese Tea Garden

You're missing a lot if you haven't vacationed in San Mateo County. What's to do and see? Plenty! Start with the gardens. The Japanese Tea Garden (located in San Mateo Central) is reputed to be one of the finest tea gardens in California. Landscape architect Nagao Sakurai of the Imperial Palace of Tokyo designed this stunning retreat graced with a granite pagoda, a teahouse, lanterns, and bamboo groves. The garden, containing harmoniously arranged trees, waterfalls, Koi ponds, lotus flowers, different seasonal blooms and rare plants provides a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere in the busy downtown area.

Allied Arts Guild -

is an enchanting complex of shops, gardens, artists' studios, and a restaurant. The gardens were designed to resemble the famous Alhambra and Generalife gardens of Granada, Spain. The walkways feature beautiful flowers and foliage that change colors according to the season, and the shops and studios feature arts and crafts of artisans of San Mateo County.

Sunset Magazine's experimental gardens -

part of Sunset's laboratory for Western living where editors and staff test their ideas in an environment that reflects the history of California and the West. There are various climate zones to geographical areas of the United States for growing almost every plant available in the nursery trade.

James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve -

Here, you'll find a complex marine habitat where scientists have discovered 25 new marine invertebrae and plant species (several that live nowhere else but at the preserve), and it offers one of the most diverse tide pool systems in the state, including a variety of seaweed, crabs, sponges, sea anemones, mollusks, starfish and an assortment of other fish.

Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyard -

Like wine? Five wineries to whet your taste buds are located here. The Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyard has twenty-five acres of Burgundian-style varietals are planted on the 325-acre estate. The mountain top setting has sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay area, while the crushing, barrel aging and bottling are done on the premises. The tasting room offers tasting menus that include a souvenir glass.

La Nebbia Winery

at Half Moon Bay has been in business for over 25 years and features an award-winning wine list, gourmet food products, private events, custom wine labeling, a scenic picnic area, and Bocce Ball courts. Several times a year, the winery holds its "bottle and cork your own wine" events at which the general public is invited to bring their own bottles and move through the pouring, corking and labeling lines.

For more information on the above and additional attractions and events, contact the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 650-348-7600, or check web site www.visitsanmateocounty.com.

San Mateo County: As Fresh as it Gets 

Now that the word is out, “foodies” and gourmets of all kinds are heading to San Mateo County, San Francisco’s closest neighbor that offers two sides of a gorgeous peninsula – the Coastside and the Bayside.  Already known for its convenience (SFO is there), its sunshine, scenic beauty, 90 miles of beaches and proximity to San Francisco, the area is now touting the incredible fresh produce grown in the southernmost part of the county, the fish, crab and prawns caught off the Pacific side, and the locally produced wine and microbrews.   The county is making a name for itself as a world-class tourism destination.

San Mateo County offers dining at its best.  Locally grown produce and fresh seafood, multi-ethnic cuisine, and local wineries make dining on the Peninsula a truly fine culinary experience.  A new “San Mateo County: As Fresh as it Gets” awards program recognizes local restaurants, hotels and caterers that make an effort to buy and serve produce from local San Mateo County growers, seafood caught off San Mateo County’s coastline, and beer and wine made in the county.  The San Mateo County Convention & Visitors Bureau (SMCCVB) and San Mateo County Farm Bureau created the ongoing award program in cooperation with the San Mateo County Harbor District.

Chefs have been taken right onto the farms and docks to learn first-hand how to find the freshest products and how to serve them so that they are at their peak. Culinary teams have been trained to give diners little known facts, such as how a Dungeness crab develops and becomes so sweet.  Arrangements have even been made for groups to hear presentations by farmers, fishermen and/or winery owners as they enjoy a particular meal.   Group tours of a working goat dairy farm (milk the goats and see how gourmet goat cheese with edible flowers is made) is an option, along with behind-the-scenes farm and dock tours, meetings with growers, fishermen, and award-winning chefs, winery and brewery tours, and even self-bottling of wine.

Visitors and residents will also be informed of not only the venues that are participating in the program (a plaque in the establishment and a window sticker), but also which local products are used in the menu (special labels), the health-conscious aspect of certain dishes (heart stickers), how to take some of San Mateo County’s freshest products home (a guide of growers/fishermen who will ship their goods to visitors’ homes), and how to enjoy local wine and food pairing events and celebrations of special foods (San Mateo County: As Fresh as it Gets Calendar of Events).

The “San Mateo County:  Fresh as it Gets” program has enjoyed a tremendous welcome within both the local restaurant and agricultural communities.   The California Secretary of Food and Agriculture made a point of coming to present the very first “San Mateo County: As Fresh as it Gets Awards” at a reception in Half Moon Bay.  The campaign was also the featured cover story of the California Country magazine’s May/June issue.  The program continues to grow exponentially, with increasing numbers of restaurants now serving products picked or caught the same day. The San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud to be involved in a campaign that will clearly benefit the local lodging and dining establishments, the agricultural community in the county, the tourism industry in our area, and will promote economic growth and media recognition for San Mateo County. 

For more information, contact the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 111 Anza Blvd., Suite 410, Burlingame, CA 94010, 650-348-7600 x 111, or check web site www.visitsanmateocounty.com.

 Group Tour Suggestions for "As Fresh As It Gets"

*Tours of private farms with the farmers/growers themselves, to see the produce growing in the fields;

*Tour of goat dairy farm that makes gourmet goat cheeses covered in edible flowers (This private tour can include trying one's hand at milking a goat!)

*Tour of private wholesale nursery operation (our area is also a cut flower capital!)

*Tour of area wineries, which may also include self-bottling at one of them;

*Tour of local brewery

*Berry picking

*Private luncheons/dinners using the products seen that day--caught/picked that day;

*Appearances by farmers/fishermen at an event to describe the products

*Lunch/dinner on a farm or on winery grounds

*Chef's kitchen dinners

*Cooking classes using the local, fresh products

*Tour of fresh (Casa Sanchez) salsa operations

SAN MIGUEL

Vina Robles Winery Opens Hospitality Center

Vina Robles Winery in San Miguel, minutes from Paso Robles, opened a 14,000 square foot hospitality center in July 2007 that consists of three main areas: tasting room overlooking the Vina Robles demonstration vineyard; retail center featuring fine wines, a deli and gourmet food items from Dean & Deluca; and the Signature Room banquet facility. Outdoor event facilities include the Jardine Court and Petite Terrace, each equipped to accommodate private parties, weddings, corporate events and small conferences. The hospitality center’s architecture and design artfully combines modern European elegance with California mission characteristics inspired by nearby Mission San Miguel Arcangel and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

For more information contact the Vina Robles Winery, (805) 227-4812, www.vinarobles.com. 

SANTA BARBARA

What to See & Do

Santa Barbara Walking Tour

Travelers bound for the American Riviera can watch “Beyond the Rooftops: Santa Barbara’s Red Tile Walking Tour” to get a preview of historic adobes and more recently constructed buildings that embody the best of the seaside city’s Spanish-style architecture, with its wrought-iron details, white walls of adobe or smooth stucco, and memorable red tile roofs. Narrated by John O’Hurley, the 16-minute-long video podcast leads visitors on a relaxing amble through the oldest part of town – the original Santa Barbara pueblo. Encompassing 12 small, easily navigated blocks, the tour includes 17 stops and 22 historic adobes dating from the late 1700s through the 1800s, plus many of the structures built in the Spanish-revival and Moorish styles mandated by community leaders after the devastating earthquake of 1925. Download the podcast at www.santabarbaraca.com/podcasts.

For more information contact the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, (805) 966- 9222, tourism@santabarbaraca.com, www.santabarbaraca.com.

Where to Stay

What's New & Noteworthy at Belmond El Encanto for Summer 2014?

PLENTY! Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort, Belmond El Encanto, is once again poised to be the ultimate luxury summer destination, with remarkable offerings exclusive to this charming Belmond property. Featuring 92 bungalows on seven acres of lush gardens and boasting sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Belmond El Encanto has created seasonally-inspired culinary and spa offerings and bespoke amenities for guests looking to escape the ordinary and relax in style this summer.

Flavors of Summer

Joining Belmond El Encanto as Executive Chef, Leo Andres Ayala’s summer menu showcases both California Coastal Cuisine and seasonal favorites. From fresh local oysters and pan seared diver scallops, to wild mushroom risotto and roasted beet salad with burrata, this summer menu will entice even the most discerning palate. Chef Leo’s talent and skill in preparing the region’s finest seafood selections and local produce will be paired with stunning Santa Barbara views from The Dining Room and Terrace, offering the ultimate summer treat.

Sun’s Out, Shades On

There’s no place better to soak in Santa Barbara’s summer rays than lounging in luxury at Belmond El Encanto’s zero-edge swimming pool. Guests can enjoy bespoke poolside offerings including complimentary sunglass cleaning and Evian cooling mist while taking in sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Belmond El Encanto’s experienced staff will cater to every need, allowing guests to indulge in the quintessential Belmond experience.

Bellini Brunch

Inspired by its sister property Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy, where the Bellini was first created, Belmond El Encanto is offering its ‘Bellini Brunch’ each Sunday this summer. Featuring bottomless Bellinis and locally-sourced dishes from Chef Leo Andres Ayala, guests begin by enjoying an array of appetizers including Ahi Tuna Salad, Chilled Prawns, Smoked Duck and Charred Vegetable Salad. To continue the feast, diners can choose from delectable options including Brioche French Toast, Eggs Benedict, Steak and Eggs, Seared Rare Ahi Tuna Sandwich or a Classic Cobb. Complementing the meal, guests are invited to The Wine Room where a selection of house-made desserts from Pastry Chef Aaron Lesch await. The Bellini Brunch is $75 per adult and $35 per child (12 years and younger). To book the Bellini Brunch, call 1-805-770-3530.

Power Pedals

Belmond El Encanto offers guests an eco-friendly way to explore the surrounding neighborhood with custom-made electric bikes, complimentary for hotel guests. With downtown Santa Barbara’s popular shopping and dining district, State Street, just minutes away, guests can take a quick trip to town to explore the beachside community. Whether looking to enjoy the boardwalk or visit unique boutiques and galleries, Belmond El Encanto will provide guests with electric bikes that make it easy to get into town and back up the hill to the property. Upon request, Belmond El Encanto will prepare a picnic for guests, whether they decide to enjoy it in downtown Santa Barbara, a secluded leafy spot by the nearby historic mission or on one of Santa Barbara’s famous beaches. Picnic price available upon request, price varies.

Scent of Summer: Lemon Basil

The Spa at Belmond El Encanto encourages guests to unwind and indulge in a new special summer treatment: the Lemon Basil Body Scrub. Infusing local ingredients from the property’s lush gardens and Santa Barbara’s bountiful landscape, the Lemon Basil spa offer includes a luxurious body scrub, rejuvenating massage, and a hair and scalp oil treatment over the course of the 80 minute treatment. The full-service spa features seven treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, showers and steam rooms to create a soothing experience for every guest. To book the $240 Lemon Basil Body Scrub, call 1-805-845-5800 ext. 3545.

For those looking to book a summer getaway, Belmond El Encanto is currently offering their “Summer Shines in Santa Barbara” package, featuring luxury accommodations with guaranteed upgrade, one 80-minute seasonal Lemon Basil Body Scrub and two signature welcome Bellini cocktails. Package is valid now through August 31, 2014 with rates starting at $595 a night. For reservations, please call 1-800-393-5315 or visit www.belmond.com.

About Belmond

Owned and operated by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., Belmond is a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations. Established almost 40 years ago with the acquisition of Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, its unique and distinctive portfolio now embraces 45 hotel, rail and river cruise experiences in many of the world’s most celebrated destinations. From city landmarks to intimate resorts, the collection includes Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg; Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro; Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya; and Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara. Belmond also encompasses safaris, six luxury tourist trains, including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and three river cruises. Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. also operates ‘21’, one of New York’s most storied restaurants. Orient-Express is a trademark of SNCF. www.belmond.com

SANTA CLARA

Hyatt Regency Santa Clara Completes $12 Million Renovation

Hyatt Regency Santa Clara’s $12 million guestroom renovation has been completed. Guests at the Silicon Valley hotel will find that all 501 guestrooms, suites and corridors have been upgraded with new furnishings, including the signature Hyatt Grand Bed™, 32-inch LCD flat-panel television, expanded work stations with oversized desks, enhanced connectivity and T-Mobile® wireless Internet access, and the iHome™ clock radio with an iPod® docking station and seven time zone settings.  Guestroom walls are accented by original custom artwork and feature ingenious wall coverings inspired by the binary code and alphabet. Redesigned bathrooms include additional storage space, vessel sinks and a well-lit granite vanity. 

For more information contact the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, (408) 200-1234, www.santaclarahyatt.com.

SANTA CLARITA VALLEY

Courtyard by Marriott Opens in Santa Clarita

Courtyard by Marriott Santa Clarita is the latest hotel to open its doors in Santa Clarita. The full-service, entirely non-smoking hotel is minutes from Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia Town Center, Valencia Commerce Center and the Valley Industrial Center. Oversized guestrooms feature 32" flat screen TVs, 100 percent Egyptian cotton linens, refrigerator, microwave and complimentary wireless Internet access. The Courtyard Cafe serves an extensive breakfast with eggs cooked to order. Fresh and light California cuisine is served for lunch and dinner, and available for room service. A 24 hour market is stocked with fresh sandwiches, salads, and an assortment of beverages and sundries. Hotel amenities include the Courtyard Lounge, fitness center, outdoor pool and spa and library with computers and printers.

For more information contact Mariella Becerra, Courtyard by Marriott Santa Clarita, (661) 257-3220, mariella.becerra@marriott.com, www.marriott.com.

Santa Clarita Valley Background

This is a great destination for recreation, history, adventure - and more - for the entire family. Located just 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Santa Clarita Valley is home to two Southern California premier attractions - Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Magic Mountain delivers 15 world-class roller coaster rides, including Riddler’s Revenge, the world’s tallest and fastest stand-up roller coaster, while Hurricane Harbor contains a family water park with a tropical pirate theme, exciting water slides, and two of the tallest fully enclosed speed slides in Southern California.

History buffs will enjoy Santa Clarita Valley’s historical attractions, including the William S. Hart Park and Museum where you can tour the estate of legendary silent film star, William S. Hart, the first cowboy movie star from 1914 to 1925. Free guided tours are available from Wednesday through Sunday, including Hart’s personal effects and movie paraphernalia, along with Native American artifacts and Western American art. Hart Park also includes hiking and nature trails, a large picnic area, campground, and a wilderness area where bison roam. A barnyard in the park contains goats, horses, sheep, deer, ducks and geese. Adjacent to the park is the 19th century Saugus Railroad Station along with several historical buildings from old Newhall. Tours of the train station are available on weekends. Or, take a trip back in time with a stop at Mentryville with guided tours of this historic town that once welcomed young oil men and their families seeking a fresh strike.

There’s more to do -- Check out Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio and Museum (the Ranch still in operation once served as the stomping ground for many actors, including Gene Autry, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Elvis Presley); or enjoy the outdoors in and around the Valley. Beautiful lakes include Castaic Lake Recreation Area, and there’s golf, hiking, biking trails and horseback opportunities.

In nearby Agua Dulce sits the geological formations of the Vasquez Rocks, a place to hike, explore, enjoy nature, and down the road, you can wine taste at the Agua Dulce Vineyard, or be transformed into another world at the Casa Dulce Riding and Guest Ranch.

For more information or to receive a visitor packet, call the Santa Clarita Tourism Bureau at 1-800-718-TOUR or visit web site www.VisitSantaClarita.com.

SANTA CRUZ

What to See & Do

Windy Oaks Winery Opens new Tasting Room

Located on the Corralitos Wine Trail, an idyllic region in South Santa Cruz County, Windy Oaks Winery has opened a newly renovated tasting room. The 500-square foot tasting room features a curved tasting bar made from recycled redwood panels and Brazilian granite. Two sets of folding glass doors showcase the barrel room, and open out onto the 500 square foot patio overlooking the vineyard and redwood forests beyond. Parisian garden tables and chairs, shaded by market umbrellas, complete the restful scene. The soft natural colors of the tasting room, the terra cotta stamped concrete floor, and the contemporary lighting, all contribute to a feeling in the tasting room of bringing nature inside. Windy Oaks features 18 acres of pinot noir grapes and one acre of chardonnay grapes and is one of four family-owned wineries on the Corralitos Wine Trail, surrounded by redwood trees and apple orchards.

Two New Boutique Foodie Stores Open in Downtown Santa Cruz

Two new culinary stores have opened in Downtown Santa Cruz. These side by side stores both have the all-natural/organic theme in common, but have different and exciting options to offer the downtown dynamic. The True Olive Connection offers unique gourmet, fresh organic olive oil and basalmic tastings and offerings, brought to Santa Cruz from around the world. Nut Kreations opened in Summer 2011 by a local Santa Cruz couple looking to offer healthy all-natural treats and gifts. Striving to provide creations from local ingredients, Nut Kreations offers a custom nut bar with more than 120 varieties of nuts and dried fruits, along with packaged gifts and nut products.

O’NEILL CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF SURFING!

In 1952, Santa Cruz resident Jack O’Neill opened his first Surf shop starting his surfing empire from humble beginnings. Soon after, O’Neill experimented with a newly discovered product - neoprene - pieced together to keep himself warm in the cold waters of Northern California. “I just wanted to surf longer” Jack O’Neill said, launching the birth of the modern wetsuit. O’Neill’s company grew exponentially, going international in the 1980's and continuing to transform the surf realm worldwide. Boasting global watersports teams, sponsorship for major competitions, wetsuit innovations and outerwear, O’Neill has transformed the surfing landscape worldwide. 

OUTDOOR CAMPFIRE AREA AT BIG BASIN REDWOODS STATE PARK RESTORED

One of the most historic outdoor venues for interpretation and education has been restored to its original splendor. The campfire center at Big Basin Redwoods State Park was built in 1935 by Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and has been serving generations of campers and visitors to the park since then. The campfire center has suffered in recent years, but has finally been restored, thanks to the non-profit, Sempervirens Fund. The non-profit - named for the Latin word for redwoods - has been working to preserve these majestic trees since 1902. The Big Basin project began in 2007, but was just finished due to the restoration only able to take place during dry weather. The new area includes 139 new redwood benches for the over 1 million visitors to the park each year. 

MONTEREY BAY NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY CENTER OPENS  

A new 12,400-square foot Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, prominently located near the wharf and Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz is set to open in Summer 2012. The center will serve approximately 200,000 visitors a year and features an exploration theater, intertidal touch-pool, man-made Kelp Forest, submarine canyon and other dynamic, interactive multi-media exhibits designed for both children and adults. Additionally, visitors may choose to interact with English or Spanish for each exhibit. This $3 million center, a LEED-certified building is designed to give visitors a greater appreciation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the second-largest of its kind in the United States.

2012 Santa Cruz County Traveler's Guide Available

The Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council (CVC) announces that the new 2012 Official Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide will be available in January 2012. The magazine-style Traveler’s Guide contains sections on activities, events, a county-wide map, and dining and lodging grids highlighting the amenities offered by various restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, and other property choices. In addition, the CVC enables visitors to view the complete Guide on-line. Using NXTbook’s interactive technology, visitors to www.santacruz.org can view the full current Guide directly from the homepage. Completely interactive, the electronic guide enables visitors to click through to advertisers' Web sites for instant access to information. Would you like to order a hard copy or press kit? Email :cglynn@santacruz.orgor call 800.833.3494 for a free guide.

About the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council
A private, non-profit corporation, the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council (CVC) exists to enhance tourism and the economy by positioning Santa Cruz County as a visitor, conference and film destination. For more information, contact the CVC at 831-425-1234 or 800-833-3494. Or visit the CVC's web site at www.santacruz.org. Location is at 303 Water Street, Suite 100 | Santa Cruz, CA 95060 | 831.425.1234 | 800.833.3494

FOR THE LOVE OF GRAPES AND GLASS!

Annieglass is bringing love by the glass to their Watsonville warehouse! Following a successful “Summer of Love” wine tasting series that offered up local tastings and studio tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Annieglass has extended their tasting/studio tours to all weekends. Visitors can tour the studio on Riverside and Harvest Drive at 11:30 and 2:00 p.m., and wine tasting is also available from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Previous wineries showcased were Windy Oaks and Hunter Hill Vineyards, ushering in other local wines available for taste and purchase. Reservations and Walk-Ins Welcome.

Where to Stay

Fairfield Inn & Suites Now Open in Capitola

An 84-unit Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott has opened at 1255 41st Avenue in Capitola in July 2011. The open and bright lobby welcomes guests with a vibrant color palette of greens, blues and oranges and a stunning jellyfish chandelier by Johnson Art Studio. All rooms are suites with distinct living and sleeping areas. Each includes a microwave, mini-fridge, coffeemaker, free Internet connectivity, cordless VoIP phones and a vast HD channel lineup. The bright, spacious living room provides a well-lit work area, an ergonomic chair and an entertainment center with a second television. The hotel also offers upgraded suites with whirlpools, fireplaces and showers with dual heads. A complimentary continental breakfast is available each morning that can be enjoyed either indoors or next to a fireplace on the rooftop patio. Other hotel amenities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, whirlpool spa, exercise room, bocce court, valet laundry service and business center. The hotel also offers 1,766 square feet of meeting space. The property will be operated as a Marriott franchise, owned by Aspromonte Inns, LLC and managed by Aspromonte Hospitality, with over 50 years of lodging industry experience in Santa Cruz County and beyond.

Casablanca Inn & Bistro Re-Opens Following Renovations

The Casablanca Inn and Bistro in Santa Cruz is proudly boasting some new improvements. Located on Beach Street, near the Santa Cruz Wharf and Beach Boardwalk, Casablanca once served as a private mansion. Today, Casablanca offers luxury lodging, dining and a particular “Mediterranean” feel that allows reflects its surroundings. To better relay that feeling to visitors the dinner area, The Casablanca Room has been transformed to sunny and inviting with subtle beach tones and panoramic views. The Sea Level Room downstairs now opens to Beach Street and is a unique lunch spot that is gourmet in taste but still feels casual enough in style to step right from the beach.

Antique Carousel Organs Restored at the Boardwalk

History and music fans will appreciate the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s preservation of two antique band organs. The Boardwalk’s newly restored Ruth & Sohn band organ, built in Germany in 1894, is back at the historic seaside amusement park after a year-long restoration. The unusual instrument includes 342 pipes, a glockenspiel, percussion instruments and several animated figures that move with the music. The Ruth organ originally arrived at the Boardwalk in 1911 along with the Boardwalk’s oldest ride, the hand-carved Looff carousel, now a National Historic Landmark. The park’s antique organ collection also includes a rare Wurlitzer 165 Band Organ that once played at San Francisco’s famous Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park, dating back to 1918. The façade of that rare antique organ includes hand-painted scenes of San Francisco’s Cliff House and the California gold rush. A two-year improvement project inside the Carousel Building includes new protective glass enclosures for the antique organs and a fanciful new paint job.

Chaminade Resort & Spa Has Completed Its Comprehensive Renovation and Offers Benchmark Hospitality

Benchmark Hospitality International, which operates Chaminade Resort & Spa, has formally announced the completion of the comprehensive $15 million renovation of the historic property overlooking Monterey Bay in northern California. The renovation program included all public areas, the restaurant & lounge, guestrooms, as well as meeting and event spaces.

Perched high up on a vast hillside rising out of Monterey Bay and providing stunning views to the Pacific Ocean, Chaminade was originally a Catholic Boys School named after the French priest and educator, Father William Joseph Chaminade. The school opened in 1929 at a time when the area was a misty coastline, unexplored except by an occasional adventurous soul venturing into what were then the outreaches of northern California's hills. Today, Chaminade is reincarnated as a vibrant and award-winning resort destination, which celebrates its heritage and serene California coast setting while setting its sights firmly on providing exemplary 21st century hospitality to it guests. 

The interior designer for the new Chaminade, Andrea Dawson Sheehan of Dawson Design Associates - www.dawsondesignassociates.com - located in Seattle, Washington, incorporated this heritage into the resort's sophisticated and luxurious new interiors. To do so, she utilized a kaleidoscope of colors, borrowing pigments from the entire spectrum of the storied California sun, landscape and the resort's mission heritage, while folding in elements of the indigenous culture and that of Spain.

Fabrics, wall coverings, floor treatments, bed linens and the myriad of tasteful appointments placed throughout are of rich, elegant hews of chocolate brown, mustard, cherry, slate and tomato reds with splashes of azure, fuchsia and yellow providing dramatic accents. 

Natural materials such as walnut, cotton, wool and slate are interspersed with hand-made carpets, tiled floors, glass tile walls, brick, and finished metals. The mix has produced spaces that are visually alluring and yet soothing -- to borrow from Chaminade's heritage, inspiring and spiritual.

Outside, guests find magical, tree lined paths wrapping hillsides forested with groves of ancient oak and eucalyptus trees on the resort's 288 private acres. Groomed lawns creep up to the resort's terraces where they unite with bougainvillea and wisteria, which blanket the trellises.

About Chaminade Resort & Spa

Chaminade, a Full Service Conference Resort, offers world-class hospitality on the California Coast. Built high on a bluff, the mission-style luxury resort commands a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Chaminade's superior location offers a sense of peaceful seclusion only minutes from world-renowned golf, beaches and downtown Santa Cruz. The remarkable setting, combined with the renowned quality and personalized service of Benchmark Hospitality International, keeps guests coming back time and time again. At Chaminade, the goal is to exceed the expectations of guests during their stay at one of the finest conference resorts in the Bay Area. Benchmark Hospitality International operates Chaminade.

Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Hotels?. The privately held company, launched in 1980, is a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers. Benchmark is a worldwide organization operating over 30 properties representing major metropolitan and resort destinations. Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston, with regional offices in New Jersey and Connecticut. International offices are located in Tokyo and Santiago, Chile.

For locations of properties and additional information, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com.  

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Opens New Trail

A new wheelchair-accessible trail is now open to outdoor lovers at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The nearly quarter-mile level trail encompasses the popular Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, and is the only one of its kind in Santa Cruz County State Parks. The trail segment curves past a creek through a sunlit canopy of redwoods, and is constructed out of decomposed granite, base rock and native soils. The trail construction has been under way for nearly two years, and is part of a larger effort to respond to the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which says that parks need to make their majestic views of California more accessible. Other projects are under way, including upgrades on the Redwood Loop trail at Big Basin next summer and improved signage and parking at Sea Cliff State Beach in Aptos. California State Parks partnered with the California Conservation Corps to complete the project, with funding from a $96,000 grant from the Recreational Trails Program.

For more information contact Christina Glynn, Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council, (831) 425-1234, cglynn@santacruz.org, www.santacruz.org.

Historic Walking Tour Brochure for Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

A new Historic Walking Tour brochure is available to help guide visitors through the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s colorful past. The new brochure, available only at the Boardwalk, includes points of interest and fun facts and is coordinated with new interpretive signs located throughout the park. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is known as one of the last of the great seaside amusement parks remaining in the United States, and was recently recognized as the Best Seaside Amusement Park in the world by the amusement park industry. The 100-year-old seaside amusement park is home to two national historic landmarks: the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the 1911 Looff Carousel. The entire facility is a California historic landmark.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, (831) 426-7433, www.beachboardwalk.com.

SANTA MARIA

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum's New Interactive Exhibit

The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum unveiled its newest educational exhibit, Storm Water Santa Maria Style. The innovative display follows the path that water takes from the street in front of a Santa Maria neighborhood to Santa Maria area parks. This exhibit teaches children and adults that discharging old oil, cigarette butts or other litter into the gutter and down the drain can be harmful to the environment, local parks, wildlife and loved ones. Funded primarily by the City of Santa Maria Utilities Department, this exhibit includes an eight-minute video and the opportunity to follow water runoff from the curb to the park. The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is the only hands-on children’s museum in Santa Barbara County.

For more information contact the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau, (805) 925-2403 or (800) 331-3779, info@santamaria.com, www.santamaria.com.

Santa Maria Wine Country

The Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association is helping visitors navigate their way around the valley. While wine is one of Santa Maria Valley’s top attractions, visitors don’t always know how to find the wine trail. Enter nine new sign poles strategically placed near city hubs and bustling locations that point the way to wine country attractions left and right. The Association’s new web site, www.santamariavalleywinecountry.com, and a wine trail map point out local wineries, special events and experiences that the Santa Maria Valley has to offer.

For more information contact the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau, (805) 925-2403 or (800) 331-3779, info@santamaria.com, www.santamaria.com.

SANTA MONICA

Where to Stay

Hotel Shangri-la - Iconic Landmark - Now Open

Hotel Shangri-La is an architectural gem and iconic landmark on the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. It is a beacon of Art Deco beauty, Hollywood allure, and Los Angeles history, with expansive ocean views from every room. Built in 1939, Hotel Shangri-La is a quintessential example of Streamline Moderne architecture. For decades, the Hotel Shangri-La has been a popular hideaway for guests ranging from presidents and luminaries to movie stars, artists, tastemakers, insiders, urbanites, and world travelers.

Located in the heart of Santa Monica, Hotel Shangri-La is a luxury boutique retreat just steps from the sand. Walking distance to the Santa Monica Pier, premium shopping, and world-class restaurants, Hotel Shangri-La is only 20 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport, minutes from the Santa Monica Airport, and a short drive from some of Los Angeles' most coveted attractions, including Malibu Beach, the Getty Center & Villa, and Rodeo Drive.

In October 2008, Hotel Shangri-La reopened after a $30 million refurbishment- the first renovation in more than 20 years. The new look embodies key elements of the original design of the era while bringing it into the 21st Century with a contemporary twist. The full-service hotel includes 71 rooms & suites (an increase of 17 rooms), a lush courtyard with elevated pool and cabanas, social dining restaurant, lavish suites, and posh rooftop bar. Each room & suite has been restored and modernized to include high-speed Internet connections, premium sound systems and more. The ideal balance of past, present, and future, Hotel Shangri-La is the idyllic destination for the discerning traveler looking for something inviting, luxurious, experiential and enduring.

SANTA ROSA

The Flamingo Resort and Spa Completes Renovations

The Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa, Santa Rosa’s largest conference and meeting facility, has just completed renovations of more than $2 million to the hotel, spa and health club. The renovations were completed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of this famous Sonoma County landmark, which has a long history of hosting movie stars and socialites. A new front entranceway now graces the historic inn’s facade. All guest rooms have been updated with new bedding, pillows, duvet and mattresses. The full-service restaurant, the Terrace Grille, was redecorated with entirely new décor. The poolside dining area was expanded, and new Smith and Hawkins outdoor furniture was installed.

For more information contact Dan Brown, Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa, (707) 523-3003, danbrown@flamingoresort.com, www.flamingoresort.com.

SEBASTOPOL

Sebastopol New Events Venue

Sova Gardens is a charming, new private venue in Sebastopol for indoor and outdoor events and functions. The facility offers an indoor reception area, large outdoor deck with built-in seating, gardens and a tented dancing area. The indoor Tavern accommodates up to 150 guests, while the Gardens area is suitable for parties of up to 200 people. A historic farmhouse built in 1906 is also available for rent. Onsite parking space accommodates up to 50 vehicles. Sova Gardens is available year-round.

For more information contact Denise Looney, Sova Gardens, (707) 795-4747, information@sovagardens.com; www.sovagardens.com.

SHASTA LAKE

Silverthorn Resort Offers Houseboating

Silverthorn Resort, a premier resort located on beautiful Shasta Lake, has introduced a new concept in houseboating: 12 state-of-the-art houseboats are now available for year-round enjoyment. These triple-decker houseboats come equipped with central heating and air, a full kitchen, fireplace and satellite TV with surround sound. You can now troll the waters of Shasta Lake in luxury with a CD stereo, sun deck, wet bar, waterslide, spiral staircase and Master Penthouse Suite. Wi-Fi is offered for a small daily fee, and there is Internet access up to 1,000 feet from the marina.

For more infirmation contact Michael Hannan, Silverthorn Resort, Shasta Lake, (530) 275-1571, www.silverthornresort.com.

Camping Yurts Now Available on Shasta Lake

Three Yurts are now available in Lakeshore East Campground overlooking the Sacramento arm of Shasta Lake. Though generally classified as a tent, a yurt is a modern adaptation of an ancient shelter used by nomads for centuries. Each adorable yurt is furnished to sleep 5 with one futon bed and one twin over full bunk bed. Mattresses are provided, but please bring your own bedding. Each of these yurt sites will continue to provide tent pads and parking to accommodate RV's. What better way to spend the night outdoors while sleeping comfortably!

For more information contact Shasta Recreation Company at 530-275-8113, E-mail ShastaRec@ShastaLakeCamping.com, or web site www.shastalakecamping.com.

SOLVANG

Solvang's New Cooking School

Not only is Solvang the “Danish Capital of America,” with signature bakeries and authentic specialties, but it also has 14 wine-tasting rooms and dozens of restaurants featuring local Santa Ynez Valley wine country cuisine. Now, there is a new cafe, gourmet shop and cooking school in Solvang to really savor the variety of flavors. Cooking classes on Wednesday evenings at The Chef’s Touch are both educational and entertaining, as chef/owner Kurt Alldredge demonstrates cooking and food pairing techniques. All classes are conducted in The Chef’s Touch kitchen and are a hands-on experience. The price includes complimentary wine, food throughout the class and 10 percent off retail purchases. Each class is only $65 and class size is limited to 20 for intimacy and a great experience.

For more information contact Kurt Alldredge, The Chef’s Touch, (805) 686-1040, info@thechefstouch.com, www.thechefstouch.com/classes.html

SONOMA & SONOMA COUNTY

What to See & Do

Spring in Sonoma County means bud break in the vineyards, new tasting rooms, and a full bloom of arts activities and exhibits.

The county’s craft beer movement continues to gain momentum with the addition of new breweries. Of course, Sonoma County’s creative chefs and winemakers are also in on the act, creating new flavor experiences to help make your trip a memory that will linger in the mind, and on the palate.

New events, paired with tried-and-true festivals and events make spring the perfect time to plan your trip today at www.SonomaCouty.com.

WINERIES

New Sonoma House at Patz & Hall

For 25 years, winemakers at Patz & Hall have been making acclaimed wines from just two varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In January, the winery kicked of its 26th year in business by moving from Napa to Sonoma, where they now have a comfortable space to offer memorable tastings of their wines.

Located just north of the Eighth Street wineries, the Sonoma House at Patz & Hall is within biking distance of the Sonoma Square and the shops of downtown Sonoma. The salon is set in the middle of a vineyard and offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy several unique tasting options, and striking views of the Mayacamas Mountains to the east.

In the salon, Patz & Hall offers seated, private tastings that include six Chardonnay and Pinot Noir single-vineyard-designate wines, paired with locally sourced gourmet food pairings. The salon experience is $50 per person and lasts approximately 60 minutes, and can accommodate up to 10 guests per tasting. Appointments are required and available Wednesday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

A less formal experience is offered at the tasting bar, where guests enjoy a seated tasting of four Patz & Hall wines. Cost is $25 per person, and no reservations are required, but suggested.

Location: The Sonoma House at Patz & Hall
21200 Eighth Street East
Sonoma, CA
707-265-7700
info@patzhall.com
www.patzhall.com

Iron Horse Toasts Diversity with Rainbow Cuveé

Iron Horse Vineyards has just released a new, limited edition, vintage sparkling wine called Rainbow Cuvée. “It’s meant for everyone who believes in love, justice, and equality,” said Iron Horse CEO Joy Sterling. “And, nothing says marriage quite like a gorgeous bottle of bubbles.”

The wine is vintage 2009 Blanc de Blancs — 100 percent estate Chardonnay, aged three-plus years en tirage. The dosage, or finishing element, makes it unique. Only 250 cases were produced. Rainbow Cuveé is available at the Iron Horse Tasting Room and online for $58 per bottle.

Iron Horse is best known for its sparkling wines, which have been served at the White House for five consecutive presidential administrations, beginning with the historic Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meetings in 1985, ending the Cold War.

Location: Iron Horse Vineyards
9786 Ross Station Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-887-1507
www.ironhorsevineyards.com

First-Ever Dinner Parties on the Highest Hilltop at Jordan Estate

Jordan Vineyard & Winery will host its first-ever dinner parties at Vista Point, the highest hilltop on Jordan Estate. The winery’s first Sunset Supper scheduled for July 19 sold out within two days of an exclusive announcement to Jordan Estate Rewards members, and a second dinner has been added on Saturday, Aug. 16.

Guests will enjoy a reception at Jordan’s new Vista Point pavilion, followed by a seated, multi-course meal amongst the grapevines. The meal is paired with Jordan wines and panoramic views of Alexander Valley’s rolling hills and mountains during sunset.

This event is limited to 50 guests, and tickets are $200 per person and 10,000 Jordan Estate rewards points for two people, (rewards points are earned through making purchases at Jordan Winery). To book seats, visitors can go to www.jordanwinery.com/shop/category/Tickets.

More than three-quarters of the Jordan estate is dedicated to natural habitat — an oasis where craggy oak trees surround the vineyards, herons and geese swim the lakes, and rabbits and deer roam the rolling hills that define Sonoma County’s southern Alexander Valley.

The property includes 110 acres of grapevines, 18 acres of olives trees, gardens, lakes, pastures and woods. Under the direction of second-generation vintner John Jordan, Jordan Vineyard & Winery has evolved into a working ranch with chickens for eggs, cattle for beef, bees for honey, and even a cutting garden for floral arrangements.

Location: Jordan Vineyard & Winery
1474 Alexander Valley Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
www.jordanwinery.com/shop/category/Tickets

The Tasting Room on the Green: Mutt Lynch Winery, Deux Amis Winery join forces

Two of Sonoma’s most notable winemakers — Brenda Lynch and Phyllis Zouzounis — showcase their unique varietals in The Tasting Room on the Green, located in Windsor. The two women are featuring Primitivo and Charbono as well as more well-known Sonoma County varietals like Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc

Mutt Lynch Winery, as the name would suggest, is dog-friendly. All labels have dogs on them and pooches are invited to stroll into the tasting room with their human friends in tow, to enjoy free water, treats and plenty of canine-themed wine swag. The Windsor Town Green, just steps from the tasting room, allows a perfect spot for dogs to take a stroll before or after the tasting room experience.

Deux Amis Winery, French for “two friends,” started a partnership between two friends, Phyllis Zouzounis and Jim Penpraze. Specializing in outstanding Zinfandels, the varietal that comes with the stamp of Sonoma County firmly imprinted upon it. A small amount of Petite Sirah is blended into Deux Amis Zinfandel for added depth and complexity.

The tasting room joins other winery tasting rooms already established on the Windsor Town Green, Vino Valpredo and Dom Whitney.

Location: The Tasting Room on the Green
9050 Windsor River Road
Windsor, CA 95492
707-942-6180
www.muttlynchwinery.com

SPAS

New Ways to be Zen at Osmosis Day Spa

Located on five secluded, scenic acres, Osmosis is a Japanese-style retreat with beautiful bonsai and bamboo gardens. Close to the breathtaking Sonoma Coast, Wine Country and redwoods, it is the perfect place to relax and “get centered” this spring. They offer two new packages:

“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” Getaway Package
Stay overnight at Bodega Bay Lodge, indulge in a wine surf and cheese plate at Gourmet au Bay while enjoying the scenic view over the water, then warm your bones in a Japanese cedar enzyme bath for two at Osmosis Day Spa. This is a $475 value package offered for $279, Sunday through Thursday, through March 31, 2014.

“Fight the Flu” Special Package
Give your immune system a boost with two of the most popular experiences at Osmosis Day Spa. The relaxing, detoxifying and circulatory enhancement effects of the cedar enzyme bath are the ideal preparation for a customized Swedish massage. Release muscle tensions, relax the entire body, and increase oxygen to your blood.

This package is $239 (a $288 value) per person and is available for the month of March 2014.

Location: Osmosis Day Spa & Sanctuary
209 Bohemian Hwy
Freestone, CA 95472
www.osmosis.com/specials

TOURS

Vin de Luxe Tours

This new wine tour company is owned by Bruce MacKay, a knowledgeable wine educator and guide who used to work in the high-tech world. In 2013 Bruce became a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Sonoma County, and has crafted a series of tours to showcase Moon Mountain for its recent American Viticulture Area recognition. The tours have been created for couples, or two couples traveling together. Tours require a few days to confirm appointments, and picnic choice.

“Over The Moon”

This unique experience begins at the Sonoma Skypark where visitors take to the skies for a 30-minute open cockpit flight with Captain Bob in his 1926 Travelair Biplane. You will see the “quilt” of vineyards and wineries called Moon Mountain from above. Once your feet are on the ground, it’s off to tour two wineries and a gourmet picnic lunch. Cost is $850 per couple and includes air tour, personal driving, picnic lunch, and winery fees.

“Walk on the Moon”
A driver takes guests to Glen Oaks Vineyard on Moon Mountain, to meet the winemaker and walk in this historic vineyard. After wine tasting and a picnic lunch, it’s off to Naked Wines, a collective of aspiring winemakers. Finish the day with a visit to Figone Olive Oil to taste olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and chocolate tasting at Wine Country Chocolates. Cost is $395 per couple and includes personal driving, picnic lunch, and tasting fees.

“The Valley of the Moon”
Take a trip back in time, beginning with a tour of Old Hill Vineyard, which includes more than 30 varietals dating back 150 years. Next, a visit to Jack London State Park for a private tour of Jack London’s Beauty Ranch, the legacy of London’s passion for the land. Enjoy a picnic lunch accompanied by hearty Zinfandel made from grapes grown on the property. The day ends with a visit to Panglos Cellars, in Glen Ellen, for a wine flight paired with artisan cheese. Cost is $495 per couple, and includes personal driving, picnic lunch, and tasting fees.

MacKay is also available to help create a personalized tour in Sonoma County.

Location: Vin de Luxe Tours
www.vindeluxetours.com
707-799-4148

Wine Country Walking Tours Announces New 2014 Tours

Wine Country Walking Tours will add new itineraries to its guided fine wine and food adventures in Healdsburg and Geyserville. Designed for the gourmand who enjoys exploring on foot, Wine Country Walking Tours’ expanded menu now gives participants four different choices to suit their interests.

The new Sip, Savor & Stroll tour is a comprehensive, five-hour discovery of Healdsburg, featuring wines at three tasting rooms and stops at Costeaux French bakery, Dragon Fly Tea Company, Healdsburg Olive Oil, and Moustache Bakery or Shed. The group will have lunch at either Oakville Grocery Co. or The Wurst Restaurant. The finale is a chocolate sampling at the Healdsburg General Store.

The four-hour New Flavors of Healdsburg tour takes guests to some newer, must-try spots that even well-traveled gourmands might not know yet. Included are stops at The Parish Café, with its New Orleans-style beignets, Mateo’s Cocina Latina, and Rosenblum Cellars.

A Taste of Geyserville introduces guests to the wine and culinary attractions of this hideaway north of Healdsburg. The two-and-a-half-hour tour brings visitors to four winery tasting and provides samples at Diavola restaurant, known for its hand-crafted pizzas.

Wine Country Walking Tours is the original wine and food walking tour company in Healdsburg. Each of the company’s knowledgeable, friendly guides is a local resident and has completed Sonoma County’s Certified Tourism Ambassador program. All guides are well-versed in the region’s culinary scene and history. The company’s strong partnerships with area wineries and gourmet food artisans mean Wine Country Walking Tours show guests an insider’s view.

Reservations are accepted in advance, but same-day bookings are also welcome. For more information, visit the website at www.winecountrywalkingtours.org, or call 707-758-4725.

Location: Wine Country Walking Tours
1083 Vine Street, Suite 182
Healdsburg, CA 95448
www.winecountrywalkingtours.org

ARTS

New Children’s Museum

Sonoma County will soon have a place to inspire children’s creativity and stimulate their curiosity at the new Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. The museum, scheduled to open March 29, is adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and the Redwood Ice Arena.

The new museum will have an outdoor nature education area, where kids will be greeted by Mary the butterfly, their host during their stay in her garden. She’ll encourage children to explore her lifecycle by playing in a butterfly egg, climbing on and in caterpillars, and emerging from a chrysalis.

Kids will be able to roll down hills, explore paths, and dig for treasure in a gravel pit. A miniature Russian River runs for fishing and a mechanical water play area is a draw for all ages. A playful farmers market will welcome shoppers and gardeners, while the tractor and windmill attract curious hands and minds. In Ella’s Art Studio, children can explore with paint, chalk, fabrics, clay and more.

More attractions in the museum will be added later in the year. Look for an indoor Science and Imagination Gallery and a TOTtopia toddler room.

The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays Admission is $7 for adults and children. Babies under 12 months are free.

Location: Children’s Museum of Sonoma County
1835 West Steele Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
www.cmosc.org

New Discovered Artists Exhibit at Sonoma Valley Museum

The Sonoma Valley Museum is highlighting the work of four exceptionally talented artists who live and work in Sonoma County. The artists were chosen by a jury and their work shows that artists who live and work in Sonoma County are committed to their practice, involved with their community, and engaged with the present.

Each of the four artists in “Discovered” has a distinct, yet connected vision of the world today.

Maura Harrington juxtaposes scenes from her local, natural environment with the fluorescent, artificial world that surrounds us. This contrast presents a startling, eerie and familiar aura.

Miles Votek, is an interdisciplinary artist exploring utopian visions of California through contemporary video and ceramics. His romantic, apocalyptic worlds collide in his struggle to make sense of the failed dreams of Western idealism.

Erik Castro’s poignant photographs and videos allow us to step into the world of people we typically observe from a distance. Choosing subjects who we see and ignore every day, such as homeless children, he forces us to look at difficult subjects and confront our feelings of despair.

Stan Abercrombie, with his encyclopedic knowledge of art and architecture, assembles objects and images into two and three-dimensional combinations that inspire abundant curiosity and mystery.

Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children K–12 are admitted free, as are SVMA members. Additional information is available

Location: The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
551 Broadway
Sonoma, CA
707-939-7862
www.svma.org

New Location for Calabi Art Gallery

After four years in Petaluma, Calabi Art Gallery has moved to a new Santa Rosa location. The new space is a bit larger where more artwork can be displayed and owner and restoration artist, Dennis Calabi, has more storage.

Calabi is a conservator and restorer of paintings created by lesser-known and underappreciated artists in Sonoma County, the Bay Area, and beyond. Customers say it’s obvious when you walk in that Calabi is a man who loves the work and just wants his clients to love it too.

The gallery’s inventory ranges from 19th to 21st century, representational to abstract, including paintings, sculpture, graphics, photography, and mixed media. Prices range from $40 for photographs, to thousands for fine art work. The new gallery will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Calabi Gallery
456 Tenth Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
707-781-7070
calabigallery.com

Sonoma County ARTrails Reintroduced

This open art studio tour will be reinstated this fall with new sponsorship from the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. The two-weekend event is scheduled for Oct. 11-12, and Oct. 18-19. Art fans will have the opportunity to visit more than 160 artists in their studios and even purchase works.

For 28 years Sonoma County ARTrails, sponsored by the now-defunct Arts Council of Sonoma County, introduced artists directly to art fans. Now, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts has stepped in to sponsor the event. The center also hosts a popular, similar event — Art at the Source — which will take place May 31- June 1 and June 7-8, and will feature 150 artists in their studios, mostly in western Sonoma County.

Both events showcase the breadth and depth of the artists who live in Sonoma County.

Location: Sonoma County Art Trails
707-829-4797
www.artrails.org/
info@sonomacountyarttrails.org

Art Show & Sale to Benefit Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

The beautiful Sonoma Coast will offer even more reasons to stop and stare the weekend of May 2 through May 4. The first ever Sonoma Art on the Coast weekend will feature open artist studios, special events at local galleries, and the Art on the Coast Festival in the tiny hamlet of Jenner by the Sea.

Even local chefs are getting in on the event by preparing special menus inspired by art and showcasing Sonoma Coast art in their restaurants. The Jenner Inn will have lodging specials for the weekend and guests will be invited to special art related events.

The main event for the weekend is the Art on the Coast Festival on Sunday, May 4. This is a juried event and open to all artists. Attendees will get to enjoy the art, musical performances, local artisan foods, regional wines and micro brews. They’ll also get to witness a live art demonstration from graffiti artist, “80sixer.”

All events benefit the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a non-profit organization promoting education, preservation and restoration of the natural and cultural resources of Russian River area State Parks.

Location: Sonoma Art on the Coast weekend
707-592-4949
www.SonomaCoastArt.com

Wool Festival Celebrates Harvest

As you head toward the Sonoma Coast and drive through the tiny town of Valley Ford, you’ll see some of the happiest sheep in the country dotting the hillsides and munching on vegetation. Locals shear the sheep and make some of the best wool products found in the world, and now they’ve decided to make a celebration of their “farm to home” lifestyle.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 17 and 18, downtown Valley Ford guests will learn the steps that fiber growers and artists go through to create artisan crafted wool goods. They create everything from clothing, bedding, home accessories, blankets, rugs, handspun yarns, and more.

The first-ever wool festival will also feature live music and some of the best local foods, cheeses and wines coming from within a five-mile radius of Valley Ford.

Location: Wool Festival
14390 Highway 1
Valley Ford, CA 94972
office@valleyfordwoolmill.com

New Play at the Russian River’s Curtain Call Theatre

“The Importance of Being Earnest” just opened at this well-cared-for community theatre in the Russian River town of Monte Rio. The play will run each weekend through April 12, with a gala event fundraiser performance on closing night.

This event will feature a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, entrees, side dishes, desserts, Korbel Champagne and wines, and non-alcoholic beverages. The cost for the gala event is a tax-deductible donation of $40. Doors open at 7 p.m., curtain at 8p.m.

The other weekend performances start at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday matinees at 3p.m. Regular admission is $20, $15 for senior citizens. To make theater more affordable for everyone, the first three Fridays are “pay-what-you-can”.

Directed by Michael Tabib, the managing director of Curtain Call Theatre at the Russian River, the play features a seasoned cast of talented actors ready to give visitors an evening of fun, frolic, and joyous laughter. For reservations and further information call 707- 524-8739.

Location: The Importance of Being Earnest
Curtain Call Theatre at the Russian River
20347 Highway 116
Monte Rio, CA 95462
www.russianriverhall.com
707- 524-8739

LODGING

Improvements at Sonoma Creek Inn

Located a short drive from wineries, parks, and the downtown area of Sonoma, the Sonoma Creek Inn is an affordable and casual hotel that just completed updates to improve their guest experience.

Their 16 guest rooms now have new carpets and bed treatments. Each also received a new flat screen television and Keurig coffee maker. The inn has a brand-new air conditioning and heating system, and the check-in area has a beautiful new hardwood floor.

Rooms are decorated with original artwork, handcrafted accessories, art tiles, and are painted in warm, inviting colors. Many rooms have private outdoor patios or porches, a perfect spot for relaxing after a busy day exploring Sonoma County.

All rooms have individually controlled heat and air-conditioning, complimentary wireless Internet access, telephones with data ports, in-room refrigerators, hairdryers, ceiling fans, and cable TV. Free onsite parking is included with all reservations.

Location: Sonoma Creek Inn
239 Boyes Blvd.
Sonoma, CA 95476
888-712-1289
www.sonomacreekinn.com

Click to go Camping

Camping at Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville just got easier, and a lot more hip. For the first time, campers can secure camping spots through Hipcamp.com, instead of dealing with a first-come, first-served basis.

Hipcamp is a Bay Area start-up founded by software engineer Alyssa Ravasio, a 25-year-old area native who started the company out of the frustration of finding open campsites. Park officials confirm the old system of getting a camping spot at Austin Creek caused frustration for those who traveled to the reserve, to discover spots already taken. They hope the new system will encourage more people to camp.

The 5,700-acre reserve has 23 campsites, 15 of which can now be reserved through Hipcamp.com. An additional eight sites are set aside for walk-ups. Reserved campsites at Austin Creek cost $35 per night and walk-ups are $25. Sites can be reserved at www.hipcamp.com/ca/north-coast/austin-creek/bullfrog-pond-campground

Location: Austin Creek State Recreation Area
17000 Armstrong Woods Road
Guerneville, CA, 95446-9587
707-869-9177 ext. 3# (Monday - Friday)
707-869-2015 (Weekends)
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=452

New wedding elopement package at Sonoma Coast

Sea Ranch Lodge, a small, secluded property on Northern California’s rugged Sonoma Coast, is a serene destination that embraces the beauty and bounty of nature in myriad expressions. Now the romantic hotel is offering a special all-inclusive small wedding package. Perfect for weddings from two to 24 people, the package includes a romantic ceremony at Bihler Point, a secluded breathtaking point on the bluffs with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

The package includes:

• Romantic ceremony on Bihler Point
• Personalized non-denominational marriage ceremony by our resident officiant
• Wedding coordinator
• Photographer
• Three-course dinner with wine in Black Point Grill’s Private Dining Room
• Sparkling wine toast
• Bouquet and/or boutonniere
• Floral table centerpiece
• Wedding cake
• Commemorative champagne flutes for the wedding couple
• Ocean View Room for the wedding couple
• Full made to order breakfast the following morning

Prices range from $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the number of guests attending.

Location: Sea Ranch Lodge
60 Sea Walk Drive
The Sea Ranch, California 95497
707-785-2371
www.searanchlodge.com

BREWERIES

New Craft Brewery Tap Room Opens in Windsor
St. Florian’s Brewery has opened a new taproom in Windsor. The craft brewery, run by a husband-and-wife team, welcomes visitors to stop in and try their beer made on premises and see how the beer is made.

The Tap Room features St. Florian’s beers as well as lively games of dominoes or cards. Guests are invited to bring their own food, or take-out from nearby restaurants on the Windsor Town Green. Or customers may purchase from local food trucks that stop by.

Named for the patron saint of firefighters, St. Florian’s is run by Amy and Aron Levin. Aron, a fire captain for the local fire department, named his brewery to recognize the “hero in all of us” and they donate 5 percent of their profits to fire-related and community-based organizations.

St. Florian’s Brewery is open Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. They also announce additional hours and event on their Facebook page.

Location; St. Florian’s Brewery Tap Room
7704A Bell Road
Windsor, CA
707-838-BREW
info@stfloriansbrewery.com
www.stfloriansbrewery.com

Warped Brewing Company
This new brewery and tasting room just opened its doors in February at The Barlow in Sebastopol. It has a fun, funky vibe with a retro video game theme. Currently, Warped Brewing produces four beers including Pixelated Porter, a molasses porter; Orbital Outrage; California Common; and Crash of ’83, a very balanced IPA.

Owners Noah and Mirjam Bolmer also own Barley and Hops Tavern in Occidental. After tasting, guests may head west for dinner where their beers are paired with burgers, sandwiches like the Curry Fried Chicken Sandwich, or entrees, like their Guinness Cottage Pie made with ground beef, English peas, carrots, and onions in a Guinness gravy, topped with mashed potatoes and baked.

Location: Warped Brewing Company
6790 McKinley St. #190 (in The Barlow)
Sebastopol, CA
707- 829-2061
www.facebook.com/WarpedBrewing

Fogbelt Brewing Company
Long-time friends Paul Hawley and Remy Martin both grew up in Sonoma County. Hawley has been working at his family’s winery since 2005 and Martin studied brewing at UC Davis and local breweries.

From these experiences comes their newest venture: Fogbelt Brewing Company. Named for the unique area in coastal Sonoma County where the fog from the ocean meets the mountains of the redwoods, Fogbelt is located on Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa, in the same Wineyard mall as D’Argenzio Winery.

Befitting a brewery named for the weather conditions that produce California’s iconic redwoods trees, all of the beers on offer are named for famous redwood trees. Th beers ininclude Lost Monarch Wit Beer, Atlas Blonde, Del Norte IPA, Hyperion Red Ale and Armstrong Stout.

Fogbelt is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

Location: Fogbelt Brewing Company
1305 Cleveland Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA, 95401
707-978-3400
www.fogbeltbrewing.com

New Location for Taps Petaluma
In February, this beloved restaurant and tasting room moved down the street from its original location in Petaluma.

An aging ventilation system in the pub’s tiny kitchen gave way, preventing them from serving their popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and wings. Repairs were too expensive, so the business found a bigger location where they can prepare all of their customer’s favorites, and a few more. They also have room for more beers on tap.

Location: Taps Restaurant & Tasting Room
54 E. Washington Street
Petaluma, CA
707-763-6700
www.petalumataps.com

RESTAURANTS

Palooza Gastropub and Wine Bar: From Food Truck to Restaurant
Owner Jeff Tyler has made a name for himself in Sonoma County with Palooza Catering and sought-after food trucks that serve everything from hot dogs to sliders. Now he has a brand new brick-and-mortar restaurant in Kenwood, the Palooza Gastropub and Wine Bar.

The menu changes seasonally and offers small plates that range from $8 to $13. A recent menu featured kale salad, savory cannoli stuffed with mascarpone cheese and bacon, and roasted bone marrow with grilled toast and micro greens. Main dishes range from $15 to $19.50 and may include a veal meatloaf wrapped in bacon with brown butter mashed potatoes, fried monkfish drenched in Rogue Dead Guy beer batter, served with frites and hibiscus ketchup. Palooza is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Location: Palooza Gastropub and Wine Bar
8910 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA
707-833-4000
www.paloozafresh.com/

Central Market in Petaluma Reopens
Maybe it’s his New Orleans roots, but not even a little chimney fire could keep Chef Tony Najiola and his team down. Central Market, one of the county’s acclaimed farm-to-table restaurants reopened in December after being shut down by a fire that broke out Aug. 31.

Central Market is located in the historic Maclay Building, built in 1918 in the heart of downtown Petaluma. Thanks to a quick response from local firefighters, the flames damaged the restaurant, but did not destroy the building.

After months of hard work, Central Market is back and open daily for dinner. Their cuisine is rustic California-Mediterranean, with ingredients coming from Muleheart Farm, Central Market’s own dedicated farm.

Location: Central Market
42 Petaluma Boulevard North
Petaluma, CA
707-778-9900
www.centralmarketpetaluma.com

Topsy’s Kitchen Serves Southern Breakfasts
This new hot spot in Petaluma serves farmhouse cuisine with a focus on Southern comfort food. Breakfast are lunch served Tuesday through Sunday, and customers rave about the warm, fluffy New Orleans-style Beignets, egg scrambles, breakfast bowls, fried chicken and waffles, and fresh baked sticky cinnamon rolls.

Location: Topsy’s Kitchen
131 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, California 94952
707-773-4743 (773-4PIE)
www.facebook.com/pages/Topsys-Kitchen-Petaluma

New Location for Sift Cupcake + Dessert Bar
Sonoma County just got a little sweeter with the opening of a third Sift Cupcake + Dessert Bar in Petaluma. The company already has locations in Cotati, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco.

All three locations serve cupcakes in flavors such as Red Velvet, 24 Carrot, and Limonata. They also create delicious flavors of macaroons, party cakes, whoopie cookies, and ice cream sandwiches. Walk in customers are welcome, as well as orders for custom gifts, parties and weddings.

Location: Sift Cupcake + Dessert Bar
404 Mendocino Ave-Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
www.siftcupcakes.com

Healdsburg Bar & Grill Now Serving Breakfast
The beloved burger joint and “hang out” spot on the corner of the Healdsburg Plaza is now serving breakfast. The new menu follows the same focus as the lunch and dinner menu that has made the Healdsburg Bar & Grill so popular — good comfort food with a Southern accent. Look for house made cinnamon rolls, bagels, fried chicken and waffles, eggs served over-easy on pork hash, omelets and egg scrambles.

The restaurant, owned by Top Chef Master Doug Keane, is open daily now starting at 8 a.m., with breakfast served until 11 a.m.

Location: Healdsburg Bar & Grill
245 Healdsburg Ave
Healdsburg, California 95448
707- 433-3333
www.healdsburgbarandgrill.com

Fresh Mediterranean Dips Available from Taverna Sofia
Dip into authentic Mediterranean goodness while picnicking in Wine Country, or looking for a healthy snack.

Created by Chef Sofia Petridis-Lim, owner of Taverna Sofia Restaurant in Healdsburg, these flavorful dips are vegetarian, and most are gluten free. Available in specialty markets like Big John’s and Shelton’s Natural Foods in Healdsburg, Taverna Sofia dips add pizzazz to pita bread, chips, sandwiches, grilled meats, raw or roasted veggies, and more.

Choose from:
•Kopanisti – a spicy cheese dip. Feta blended with pickled peppers, mint, and spices
• Tzatziki – the iconic Greek sauce. Thick yogurt with a kick of dill, garlic, and cooling cucumber
• Baba Ghanoush – flavorful roasted eggplant blended with tahini, zesty chopped tomatoes, peppers and herbs
• Skordalia – a rich dip of garlic blended with almonds and potato (not gluten free)
• Hummus – creamy organic garbanzo beans, Greek olive oil and tahini
•Taramosalata – A bold salty dip made from imported carp roe with lemon juice and olive oil

Location: Taverna Sofia
244 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95449
707-431-1982
www.TavernaSofia.com

New Immersion-Brewed Coffee at Shed
At the cool, new modern-day grange, called Shed, in Healdsburg, visitors can follow their nose to the new Brew Bar. This is where they make “immersion-brewed” coffee by the cup. Immersion brewing combines the full-bodied richness of a French press with the clean taste of filter-dripped coffee. The drink is drip-activated but sits covered before pouring. It’s the best of both caffeinated worlds.

A 12-ounce cup is $3, and is made with single origin beans roasted for Shed by neighboring Flying Goat Coffee. They also sell the Immersion Dripper used to make the coffee, in case visitors decide they’d like to make it at home.

Location: Shed
25 North Street
Healdsburg CA 95448
707–431–7433
be@healdsburgshed.com

WINE SHIPPING

Ship Your Wine Home from Sonoma Valley
Bodega Shipping Co. Sonoma
specializes in wine shipping. Located in Sonoma Valley, it’s an ideal solution to ship wine from several wineries home.

Providing the same great service no matter the size of the order, Bodega Shipping has eliminated all hidden fees. Packaging costs are factored into the prices. The company will pick up any package for free within the city limits of Sonoma.

Electronic shipping forms are available on the website and can be accessed from any mobile device or computer. Here customers can make pickup and shipping request for wine they may have collected.

Most other shipping companies require a written description of all the wine to be shipped. Bodega has a “submit a picture” option, making it faster and easier for the customer.

Customers can submit payment on the form or at the time of pickup using mobile credit card readers. All orders receive a confirmation email after submission and tracking information once the order is shipped.

Currently, Bodega Shipping is offering a 10 percent discount. Just use the promo code “sonoma” in the payment section of the form.

Location: Bodega Shipping Co. Sonoma
www.bodegashippingco.com
750 West Napa St.
Sonoma CA
707-343-1656

CYCLING

Cycling Challenge Adds Local Food and Brews
While getting ready for its fourth event, the Sonoma County Backroad Challenge cycling event has new sponsors and activities this year. Less than two months away, registrations are pouring in so sign up now. This year, teams or 10 or more received 10 percent off registration fees. The event is limited to 1,750 cyclists.

The ride offers three routes: Century Ride (99.7 miles, 7,419 ft of elevation); Metric Century (71.6 miles, 4,262 ft of elevation); and the Half Metric (37.4 miles, 1,495 ft of elevation)

Vendors will be supplying food and drinks at rest stops: Wholefoods, Smari Organic Icelandic Yogurt, Artisana Foods, Clif, and GU. CamelBak will be giving out free gear at the post-ride festival to some lucky riders (must be present to win). Three Twins organic ice cream will be serving up dessert at the festival.

And then there is beer: Petaluma Hills, Henhouse, and Lagunitas will all be serving up their craft brew at the festival at Penngrove Park. Riders won't go away hungry or thirsty after the ride. Staying overnight? Petaluma Hotel is “cyclist friendly.” Ask for Jessica when booking.

Sonoma County Backroad Challenge Cycling Event
www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLcKAzTZWcc
www.backroadchallenge.com

Sonoma County, located 45 minutes north of San Francisco, provides a genuine, independent, and adventurous wine country experience, featuring more than 400 wineries, 100-plus organic farms, and over 50 miles of stunning Pacific coast.

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call + 1 707-522-5800.

New Tasting Rooms, Food Experiences and an Artistic Visionary for Music --- Rediscover Sonoma County in 2014

Discover new food tours, cooking classes, and ways to experience the abundance of Sonoma Wine Country. Several longtime Sonoma County restaurants have begun new eras with new owners, remodeled décor, and fresh new menus. Wineries focus not only on good wine, but good food, and sharing it with visitors. And tune in to the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, which has a new leader at the helm.

There is always something new to discover in Sonoma County. Plan your visit today at www.SonomaCounty.com.

Sonoma Mission Inn's Historic Roots Honored

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa --

has been awarded membership in the Historic Hotels of America organization. This organization was created in 1989 to preserve the authenticity of America's best destinations. It identifies quality hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa location was considered a sacred healing ground by Native Americans who discovered the hot mineral waters and built a sweat house that stood for generations. San Francisco physician T.M. Leavenworth was the first to commercially develop the hot springs in 1840. In 1895, the property was bought by Captain H.E. Boyes, who built the Boyes Hot Springs Hotel on the site.

A disastrous fire struck the hotel in 1923, but the current resort rose from the ashes just four years later, as an architecturally accurate replica of a California Mission. The resort was closed during the Great Depression, but was reopened in 1933 by hotelier Emily Long. During World War II, the hotel became an “R & R” site for sailors and marines.

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
100 Boyes Blvd.
Sonoma, CA 95476
1-866-540-4499
www.fairmont.com/sonoma/

Green Music Center --

Gets New Leader from New York Philharmonic Zarin Mehta, the former president and executive director of the New York Philharmonic, has been brought in to oversee artistic programming for the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. Mehta plans musical events for Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, the center's 1,400-seat concert hall, including appearances by the San Francisco and Santa Rosa symphonies and an array of international orchestras and musical soloists.

Mehta will also begin plans for two future venues at the center. One is the 250-seat Schroeder Hall, named for the character in Charles Schulz' Peanuts comic strip, and scheduled to open in August 2014. The MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion, a large, open-air venue, is expected to open in 2015.

Mehta ran the New York Philharmonic until 2012. He has also been the president and CEO of Chicago's Ravinia Festival, and was managing director of the Montreal Symphony. He is the brother of conductor Zubin Mehta.

The Green Music Center
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
866-955-6040
www.gmc.sonoma.edu

“Save the Gravenstein” Hard Cider at Devot Gardens

Devoto Orchards Cider has just released their 2013 “Save the Gravenstein” hard cider. The beverage is handcrafted from organic apples grown on the Devoto family farm in Sebastopol. The semi-dry, food friendly cider is crisp, with the tartness of a Gravenstein apple, and a dry finish. The cider pairs well with seafood, pork, and sharp cheeses.

Founders Jolie Devoto-Wade and Hunter Wade are second-generation apple farmers, who were inspired to start a hard cider company after laying down roots at their family farm. In August, when their Gravenstein apples are at peak ripeness, they pick them, press them, and pour their energy into every drop.

Two generations ago, back when apples were king, the Devotos planted 6,500 apple trees. Since then most of Sonoma County’s orchards have been replaced with vineyards, taking with them the centuries-old Gravenstein. But the Devotos still have more than 50 heirloom apple varieties on 26 organic acres.

Devoto Gardens
655 Gold Ridge Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-823-6650
707- 861-0595

WINERIES

New Event to Celebrate the Russian River Valley and Pinot Noir
The Russian River Valley Winegrowers have created an inaugural event to celebrate the Russian River American Viticultural Area (AVA), and to celebrate the wine this region has become world-famous for, Pinot Noir.

Russian River Valley Pinot Classic
May 25-25, 2014
www.pinotclassic.com

New Tasting Lounge for Rosenblum Cellars
Rosenblum Cellars welcomes visitors to their new urban-chic Tasting Lounge in Healdsburg. The bright and airy tasting room is located just off the Healdsburg Downtown Plaza near Relish Culinary Adventures and The Wurst eatery.

In addition to a tasting room, the new location includes an event and educational space, a lounge for locals and club members, and an outdoor patio. The Tasting Lounge provides wine flight tastings, wine-based cocktails, "Bites & Flights," Zinfandel ice cream, wines by the glass, and non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers.

A calendar of educational offerings will provide a forum for local growers, food and wine-pairing seminars, and seminars with local artists and artisanal food producers.

Rosenblum Cellars Tasting Lounge
18 Matheson Street
Healdsburg, CA
707-473-9267
www.rosenblumcellars.com/

Tricycle Wine Company Opens New Tasting Room
Tricycle Wine Partners opened their first and only tasting room at Cornerstone Sonoma just a few weeks ago. Their labels include Molnar Family, Kazmer & Blaise, and Obsidian Ridge. These are wines that have helped the company develop a reputation and style for producing single-vineyard, small-batch wines crushed from the grapes of their own vineyards throughout Northern California’s Wine Country.

Tricycle Wine Company’s new tasting room includes a tasting bar, a deck, and a bocce court. They are open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For a more intimate and extensive experience, join a Tricycle Wine Partners associate for a 90-minute, private, in-depth educational tasting experience. As you taste, enjoy a tour of the Cornerstone Gardens and adjacent vineyards. A winery associate will then lead you through a tasting of their rare, reserve level wines as well as special library and special selections. Advanced reservations for a private tasting and can be made at Tastingroom@tricyclewine.com or call 707-255-4929 ext. 1. Cost is $40 per person.

Tricycle Wine Co.
23568 Arnold Dr. (inside Cornerstone Gardens)
Sonoma, CA 94576
707-255-4929
www.tricyclewineco.com

St. Francis Winery Named a Best Restaurant in America
It’s not a typo. St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa has been named by OpenTable as one of America’s 10 Best Restaurants. Executive chef David Bush (formerly of the girl & the fig and The Carnelian Room in San Francisco) and his staff create a wine and food pairing experience at the winery that wins rave reviews. OpenTable based its list on 5 million reviews for more than 19,000 eateries across the U.S.

The 1 1⁄2-hour pairing features six courses that feature local ingredients and are paired with wines from St. Francis’ artisan collection. Seatings are scheduled for 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Two seatings are scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The price is $50 plus tax, although wine club members receive a 20 percent discount. Reservations are encouraged and can be made at <http://www.opentable.com/st-francis-winery-and-vineyards>OpenTable.com, or by calling 800-795-6674.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
100 Pythian Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
www.stfranciswinery.com

New Chef at J Vineyards & Winery
Erik Johnson has joined J Vineyards & Winery as their new executive chef and is sharing his knowledge in a new series of cooking classes at the winery. Previously, Johnson was the executive sous chef at Healdsburg’s Dry Creek kitchen and has taught classes at Relish Culinary School.

Now guests may get a taste of Johnson’s skills, and take a few home with them in cooking demonstration classes. Look for a new schedule of spring and Easter entertaining classes on J Winery’s website in the near future.

Johnson also creates the food-and-wine pairings in the winery’s Bubble Room, a full-service tasting salon, where guests enjoy a three-course meal made from locally sourced ingredients and paired with rare library and small-production wines.

Bubble Room tastings are offered Friday through Sunday with seatings at 11 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. Cost is $75 per person and reservations are strongly encouraged, by calling 707-431-5430.

J Vineyards & Winery
11447 Old Redwood Hwy
Healdsburg, CA 95448
888-594-6326
www.jwine.com

Where to Eat

Kenwood Restaurant Gets New Owners, New Menu

For 26 years, the Kenwood Restaurant on Highway 12 has been a staple in the area, attracting locals, tourists, and local winemakers who would often gather there after the kitchen had closed for the night. Owners Max and Susan Schacher have now passed the keys to Bill and Rebecca Foss, who also own Fish restaurant in Sausalito.

Chef Anthony Paone is in charge of the kitchen, and the menu reflects “Sonoma cuisine,” using fresh local ingredients, and in the case of proteins, using them from “tip to tail.” Look for dishes like duck and hominy soup with a poached duck egg, cioppino, pink trout with cornbread stuffing, and rabbit sausage. The menu changes frequently with prices ranging from $9 to $30.

The Kenwood Restaurant serves wine and beer and is open from noon to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Kenwood Restaurant
9900 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452
707- 833-6326

Seared Steak and Seafood Opens in Petaluma

A new era begins for a beloved restaurant spot formerly known as Graziano’s in Petaluma. For 31 years, customers have been served authentic Italian cuisine in the historic site. Now it has been remodeled and reopened as Seared Steak and Seafood.

Chef Joe O’Donnell and his staff shop farmer’s markets and local growers daily to put together a “roadmap” of flavors on their menu. Fresh, line-caught seafood, a great array of steaks, and some interesting side dishes with twists such as brussel sprouts with shallot, hazelnuts, dates, bacon, and Point Reyes blue cheese crumbles.

Seared is open for dinner every night except Monday, and they also have a great Happy Hour menu offered Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Seared Steak and Seafood
170 Petaluma Blvd. No.
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-762-5997
petalumaseared.com

Riccardo’s Restaurant and Bar Opens in Santa Rosa

In Santa Rosa’s Bennett Valley, a new neighborhood restaurant and bar breathes new life into a gathering spot that had become a stalwart in the area. What was once known for decades as J Barleycorn’s is now Riccardo’s Restaurant and Bar.

New owners have remodeled with a beautiful new bar, half-round booths in the dining room, and have filled the walls with hundreds of old family and local photographs that give you a sense of history about the area.

It’s a casual spot where customers can catch up with each other or catch the game. The menu features items like a French Dip, a brisket sandwich with coleslaw, a pear salad, and snacks such as potato croquets and zucchini sticks. The full bar features artisan cocktails as well as wine and beer.

Riccardo’s is open daily offering lunch, dinner and snacks. They host a daily Happy Hour from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Riccardo’s Restaurant and Bar
2700 Yulupa Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
707-545-7696
www.riccardossantarosa.com

Twisted 2

Twisted 2, a new intimate eatery, opened in December in downtown Petaluma. Some regular visitors may remember Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Café with great fondness.

Owners Dick and Julie Warner closed that business, except for the wine shop, and have now created Twisted 2 in a different and smaller space inside the Lan Mart building.

But don’t let the size fool you. There is a lot happening at the five tables in this 600-square foot space. Namely, great food and wine pairing.

A complete four-course prix fixe dinner costs $95 with wine pairings, and $60 without. Julie creates the food and the menu changes often. Choices may include pan-roasted Liberty duck breast or grilled lamb chops with a red quinoa tabouli and mint salsa.

Dick works his magic pairing wines with each dish. Diners may also enjoy “Happy Hour and a Half” from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a menu that features great wines and food and very affordable prices.

Twisted 2 is open Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 707- 789-9914.

Twisted 2
29 F Petaluma Blvd. North
Petaluma, CA 94952
Twisted2Info@gmail.com
707- 789-9914
www.Twisted2.net

Red’s Apple Roadhouse

Highway 116 meanders through Sonoma County’s west side, which is full of agricultural treasures, antiques, and some great food finds. This is one of the area’s newest, in a cheerful roadhouse right next to a beloved staple, Mom’s Apple Pie.

Red’s Apple Roadhouse opened its doors in November and is serving up homey comfort foods like fried chicken with mashed potatoes, and coleslaw, burgers and onion rings, pulled pork sandwiches, and chicken and dumplings.

On weekends co-owner and chef Berry Salinas creates hot donuts served with fresh coffee, along with other breakfast delights. Customers rave about her biscuits and gravy.

Red’s Apple Roadhouse is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. serving lunch and dinner, and weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner

Red’s Apple Roadhouse
4550 Gravenstein Highway North,
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707- 861-9338
www.redsappleroadhouse.com

New Greek Night at Taverna Sofia

Taverna Sofia is one of Healdsburg’s newest foodie gems, serving authentic Greek and Mediterranean dishes made with both local and Greek imported ingredients. Now the casual restaurant takes the Greek experience up a notch on the last Saturday of each month for Greek Night.

From 6:30 to 10 p.m. customers are treated to live Greek music on the scenic patio that features a mural of the island of Santorini. Greek dancing is encouraged by all, and belly dancers help shake up the mood as well.

Reservations for Greek Night are highly recommended and can be made by calling 707-431-1982.

Taverna Sofia
244 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
707-431-1982

Pop Up Dinners at Suite D

Just a couple of miles from her destination restaurant, the girl & the fig, Sondra Bernstein has opened a fun warehouse space called Suite D. It is connected to the company’s catering kitchen and decked out in large 30-foot murals, fun lighting fixtures and reclaimed wood. Everything in the space is mobile and able to accommodate pop up dinners and parties that range from casual ping pong parties, to fancy five-star fetes.

Suite D is available for parties and events, and there is also a full menu of pop up www.figsuited.com/#!events/c1cti>dinners scheduled throughout the year.

Suite D
21800 Schellville Road
Sonoma, CA 95476
707-933-3667
www.figsuited.com

Foodie Experiences

Savor Healdsburg Food Tours

Discover the culinary oasis of Healdsburg in a three-hour, fun tour led by a local, who happens to be a foodie herself. Tammy Gass and her staff give visitors an exploration of history, insider’s advice on must-dos in the area, and will lead you to some of the tastiest food and beverages in the area.

Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and cost $85 per person, which covers all food and drink tastings on the tour. Or, if you have a group of 6 or more, let Savor Healdsburg plan your own custom tour. This is a great option for wedding parties, company team-building outings, or convention goers.

Savor Healdsburg Food Tours
info@savorhealdsburg.com
800-979-3370
www.savorhealdsburgfoodtours.com/

Travel the World at the Savory Spice Shop

The Savory Spice Shop in Santa Rosa offers a new series of international cooking classes that will give locals and visitors a global taste of spices and cuisines. Students will learn about the foods of North, Central and Southern Chile on Feb. 9, with dishes ranging from Oven Baked Maduros (plantains) to Turrón de Vino (red wine mousse). And on Feb. 23, it’s a Carnavale! Celebrating with a Brazilian menu of Feijoada (pork and black bean stew) and Pao de Queijo (a delicious cheese bread).

Classes begin at 4:30 p.m. and cost $30, including recipes. To sign up, call 707-284-1310.

The Savory Spice Shop
317 D Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95494
707-284-1310
santarosa@savoryspiceshop.com

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call 800-576-6662.

Sonoma County -- Terrific Tours

Terrific Tours provides each guest with a fun-filled and hands-on approach to wine tasting in Sonoma County. Tour guides will show you the best wineries in the area, and give you pointers on how to taste wine, how it is made and why grapes grow so well in Sonoma County. This unique approach limits each wine tour to an intimate group of ten guests (special care is taken to place individuals in a harmonious group), and includes a fabulous gourmet lunch and most tasting fees for only $95. Terrific Tours can also accommodate requests for limousine service or larger private groups.

Tour guides are not just chauffeurs – they are industry professionals and provide one of the most comprehensive wine tours in Sonoma County. Terrific Tours ensures that every guest has the richest experience possible; the guide accompanies the group into each winery to be available to answer questions as they arise. Having locals drive ensures that tour guests arrive safely and efficiently get from one Sonoma County winery to the next. Terrific Tour Guides personally take guests behind the scenes to give them a first-hand look at how wine is made, and demonstrate how to love it more! Terrific Tours will leave people enlightened and rewarded with the perfect Sonoma wine experience!

For more information call (707) 658-2748, or check web site www.terrifictours.com

Sonoma County Bohemian Highway Corridor

The Bohemian Highway Corridor in Sonoma County winds its way for 8.8 miles through towering redwoods, quiet pastures, rocky ravines and three charming hamlets tucked off the beaten tourist path. Freestone, Occidental and Monte Rio, situated on the Bohemian Highway Corridor, are three of the first towns settled in the Sonoma County region. Visitors here will find mild year-round climate, beautifully restored Victorian homes, organic farms, eclectic boutiques, specialty nurseries and quaint B&Bs such as the Inn at Occidental. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of variety along the Bohemian Highway Corridor, including kayaking and fishing at the Russian River, and hiking at Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.

For more information contact Sherry Huss, Bohemian Connection, (707) 874-9407,

Horizon Air Adds Sonoma County

Horizon Air offers daily direct service from Sonoma County to Portland . The airline currently offers once-daily service from Sonoma County to Seattle and Los Angeles. Air service to Portland will be operated with Horizon Air’s fuel-efficient, 76-seat Q400 turboprop aircraft. With its near jet-like speed, the Q400 will take one hour and 50 minutes to travel between Sonoma County and Portland. Horizon Air serves wines and microbrews at no extra charge as part of its regular in-flight service to passengers 21 years or older on all of its flights from Sonoma County. In addition to the usual two pieces of baggage that can be checked at no charge, Horizon will accept a box of up to 12 bottles of wine per passenger at no extra charge from customers on flights departing Sonoma County. The wine must be packaged to courier standards for shipment.

For more information contact Horizon Air, 206-431-3647 or 800-547-9308, www.horizonair.com.

What's New in California's Sonoma Wine Country  

Bud break in the vineyards, and Sonoma County visitors are greeted with new and exciting great escapes. Here’s a look at what’s new:

Eco-Tourism

See sustainable vineyard practices up close and personal with Kunde Winery’s new Vineyard Tours. Free vineyard hikes will be offered from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. No reservations required. For a more in-depth Eco experience, join vintner Jeff Kunde for a four-mile hike through Kunde vineyards to view sustainable growing practices and learn about the habitats and ecosystems within the area. Picnic lunch and wine tasting included in the $75 registration fee.

For reservations, call Kunde Estate Hospitality Department in Kenwood, CA at 707-282-1534 or visit www.kunde.com.

With a varied terrain known for yielding quality winegrapes, Sonoma Wine Country’s vineyards also offer a variety of bird watching opportunities. With several locations voted “Globally Important Bird Areas” by the American Bird Conservancy. Sonoma County boasts a prime location along the west-coast migration route. The shores of Bodega Bay offer a year-round birding spot where more rare birds have been spotted than in any other area of Sonoma County. The San Pablo Bay wetlands create a natural habitat for watching and photographing large flocks of shorebirds and waterfowl.

For detailed bird watching areas visit www.audubon.sonoma.net/birding/birding.html.

Lodging

Melitta Station Inn Bed & Breakfast --

in Santa Rosa opens new guest facilities including a new King Suite with lounge and mini-kitchen, a guest spa with hot tub, on-site massage, wireless capabilities, exercise area and a 400 sq. ft. meeting facility. With these additions, the Melitta Station Inn will appeal to small meeting organizers who desire an alternative to a larger hotel. Owners Tim and Jackie Thresh have included an array of solar panels to their inn, which now runs on clean solar power. The Melitta Station Inn offers luxury English country cottage hospitality, gourmet breakfasts and access to a modern spa.

For more information contact 800-504-3099 or info@melittastationinn.com. The Melitta Station Inn is located at 5850 Melitta Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95409.

Big Yellow House

Looking for a rural chic getaway to Sonoma County’s Russian River? The Big Yellow House in Monte Rio is now available for vacation rentals. This grand Dutch Colonial riverfront home sleeps 16+ in five bedrooms. Complete with all modern amenities including high-end kitchen appliances, TV, DVD/VCR and musical instruments. Don’t miss another sunset along the river!

For more information contact Bonnie Spindler at 415-474-4445.

Wine Experiences

Ace in the Hole Pub

on the Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol, known for serving its signature hard ciders and world-class beers, releases their first vintage. The 2005 Geoffrey House Pinot Noir is made from Russian River grapes off a small local estate vineyard. The wine has been aged in French Oak for 12 months with very Burgundian characteristics and will be available for taste and purchase at the Ace-in-the-Hole Pub. Only 40 cases will be available.

For more information call 707-829-1101 or visit www.acecider.com.

Inn at the Willows

nestled along the Russian River in Guerneville, opened Isabelle’s Wine Lounge and Tasting. Isabelle’s features wines and micro brews from Russian River area producers. Isabelle’s features complimentary petit plates made mainly with locally grown and produced vegetables, fruits and chesses.

For more information call 800.291.1905 or visit www.innatthewillows.com.

Kokomo Wines

one of Dry Creek Valley’s hottest wineries, announces the grand opening of their tasting room, Kokomo Tasting Lounge, located in Historic Railroad Square, Santa Rosa. Kokomo Tasting Lounge is the first ever winery operated tasting room in the 100+ year history of Railroad Square. Located at 305 Davis St., the Lounge is a comfortable place to experience great wine and enjoy the convenience of downtown Santa Rosa shopping and dining. Kokomo Tasting Lounge, open seven days a week from 12 pm – 7 pm.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the winemaker, please call Rebeca Lidz at 707-523-3076 or email rebeca@kokomowines.com.

Peterson Winery

opens a new tasting room at their Timber Crest Farms outside of Healdsburg, CA in the Dry Creek Valley. Peterson Winery, known for their small production, zero-manipulation style wines ranging from Zinfandel to Petite Sirah and Muscat Blanc can be reached at

707-431-7568 or friends@petersonwinery.com.

Jacuzzi Winery

The Carneros region of Sonoma will soon welcome Jacuzzi Winery. The new 18,000-square-foot, rustic-Italian stone structure is inspired by the Jacuzzi family home in Udine, Italy. Due to open in the spring of 2007, the structure sits on 190 acres and honors the family Italian immigrants who came to America in the early 1900’s.

V-Twin Vineyards

While dreaming of a way to pay their bills and still ride motorcycles, the owners of V-Twin Vineyards created a motorcycle themed vintage deemed more leather than lace. The first release, 2004 V-Twin Zin, is bursting with berry aromas and flavors of raspberry and black cherry. V-Twin operates currently as a “virtual winery” at www.vtwinwines.com, but expects to have a clubhouse tasting room soon.

For more information, contact 707-573-8215.

CigarBQ Wine Tour

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of cigars, wine and food with the CigarBQ® wine tour! The tour begins at 10am with tours of cigar friendly wineries. Enjoy a stogie with several winemakers as you taste through their wines. Cocktail reception at Equus begins at 5:30. The $50 ticket price includes transportation, cigars, wine and food.

For more information visit www.cigarBQ.com.

Culinary

Olive Press

has relocated alongside the new Jacuzzi Winery. Created in 1995, The Olive Press is committed to making only the finest Award-Winning California Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The new tasting room, gift store and pressing facility are dedicated to “all things olive”. The new location will be at 24724 Arnold Drive/Highway 121 in Sonoma, CA.

For more information visit www.theolivepress.com or call 800-965-4839.

Geyserville Inn and Hoffman House Restaurant

now offers weekend dinner service. Housed in a beautiful restored building constructed by the Hoffman Family over 100 years ago, the Hoffman House restaurant specializes in gourmet lunches, fresh salads and hot breakfasts. For more information please call 877-857-4343 or stop by for dinner, 21714 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville, CA.

Red Rose Cafe

With an array of menu items ranging from hearty BBQ ribs and catfish to tofu scrambles and veggie sandwiches, the Red Rose Café is winning the hearts and tastebuds of locals. The rose-lit décor compliments the eclectic menu and their widescreen TV makes the Red Rose Café the perfect place to catch a game.

The Red Rose is located at 1770 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, 707-573-9741.

Charizma Wine Lounge & Deli

For California cuisine with a Swedish touch visit Charizma Wine Lounge & Deli in Guerneville. With a comfortable, colorful and charismatic atmosphere, Charizma serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and dinner Thursday – Tuesday. Enjoy their wine lounge with tasting flights and small plates of food and cheeses or a sunset on their patio serving BBQ food all summer long.

Visit www.charizmawinelounge.com or call 707-869-0909 for more information.

Nit's Thai Creations

Nit Bynum, a native of Thailand, has opened her award-winning restaurant Nit’s Thai Creations located on the Russian River between Rio Nido and Guerneville. This season guests can enjoy a wine bar with Thai tappas paired with local and imported wines and the deck overlooking a beautiful undeveloped stretch of the Russian River.

Contact Nit Bynum, 707-431-9549 for more information.

Tours

Flying Horse Tours

added a new 10 person horse-drawn wagonette with fringe top.
The carriage, drawn by elegant horses, travels leisurely along a scenic route through the award-winning vineyards of Alexander Valley. Our tour includes wine tasting at Alexander Valley's finest wineries as well as a complimentary gourmet picnic.

For more information visit www.flyinghorse.org or call 707-849-8989.

Rickshaw Rudy's

Hop on the area’s first pedicab service in Windsor and Santa Rosa, Rickshaw Rudy’s. Rudy’s will offer bike taxi service for special events, by the hour and on-call. Services will run throughout Downtown Windsor and Santa Rosa for special town events.

For a complete listing of where you can find Rickshaw Rudy’s visit www.rickshawrudys.com or call 707-483-7322.

Family Fun

Candy and Kites

in Bodega Bay offers “Friday night fun flys”, stunt kite flying lessons at Doran Beach Campground. Families are encouraged to bring their own kites, however there will be a large selection of kites to try. Kite flying runs from 6 pm – 7 pm on Friday evenings until the end of October. Candy and Kites specializes in being nice to you since 1983.

For more information about “fun flys” call 707-877-3777. To purchase a kite or some of the world’s best toffee, stop by 1415 Coast Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923.

Sonoma County, located 30 miles from San Francisco, is America’s premier wine, spa and coastal destination, featuring more than 250 wineries and 76 miles of stunning Pacific coast.

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call 800-576-6662.

STOCKTON

Delta River Cruises Return to Downtown Stockton

After a nearly two-decade hiatus, visitors can now cruise the San Joaquin Delta aboard Delta River Cruise’s 149 passenger catamaran, the “Princess of Whales,” which features two decks and a full galley with a tasty menu and a full bar. Cruises are offered year-round and include guided sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises, mystery cruises, day-long cruises to San Francisco and special event cruises. The ship is also available for special events, weddings and private meetings.

For more information contact the Delta River Cruises, (916) 399-9342, deltarivercruise@sbcglobal.net, www.deltarivercruise.com.

TAHOE CITY

History in the Making--Tahoe City Lakeside Trail Open Linking Trails, Connecting Our Communities

After 25 years of perseverance, dedication, partnership, and collaboration the remarkable Tahoe City Lakeside Trail was completed on June 21, 2012. The Trail is a parkway, winding through public and private properties to provide the “missing link” in the largest trail network at Lake Tahoe. The existing nineteen mile trail system was missing this key one mile segment through Tahoe City, forcing hundreds of thousands of trail users onto the State Highway through the town.

First envisioned in the 1980's, funding was secured in the 1990’s to begin design and permitting. Despite its short length, this missing link has been incredibly challenging to design and build because of its unique waterfront location. Much more than a "trail", the project has become a linear parkway with overlooks, plazas, picnic areas, seat walls, and environmental restoration. It connects the North Shore Trail, West Shore Trail, and the Truckee River Trail with a safe, and separate trail through Tahoe City.

A lakefront/riverfront connection was problematic from the start, wrought with environmental and property ownership concerns. After years of meetings with property owners, regulatory agencies, and funding partners, the "lakeside" alternative was ultimately approved. Due to property owner coordination issues and funding availability, the project required multiple phases of construction. The first phase was completed in 2001 and the final phase will be complete this June.

The spectacular trail runs along the water’s edge in Tahoe City and offers unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River. California State Parks, the United States Forest Service, the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Placer County, and many commercial property owners served as partners in the project by working with TCPUD to modify their property to ensure the construction of the trail.

For more information on the Lakeside Trail Festivities or to sponsor a section of trail for the human link please contact Kelli Twomey at the Tahoe City PUD at 530.583.3796, x21 or ktwomey@tcpud.org

TEMECULA

Where to Eat

Palumbo's Ristorante

My partner and I had an enjoyable meal here on the outdoor patio that's covered with pretty plants. Appetizers included Fried Calamari, Bruschetta al Prosciutto, Steamed Clams and other delectable dishes, while Organic Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula and other vegetables from local organic farms make for very tasty salads. Or, try the fresh Spinach, chopped Antipasto Salad, Salmon Salad, etc. For Pasta, among the choices are Fettuccine Alfredo, Penne with Broccoli, Tomato Basil Angel Hair, Spaghetti with Organic Spinach, Gnocchi, Penne with Sauage and Sun-dried Tomatos. The baked Manicotti Florentine and classic Lasagna were delicious and served piping hot, while the Steak Sinatra, Lamb Chops and Chicken were also yummy and tender. My partner tried the Jalapeno Shrimp Fettuccine, while I tried the Salmon Florentine - all excellently prepared.

Lunch specials are available at only $6.

Located at 41925 Fifth Street, Ste 101, Old Town Temecula, CA 92590; 951-699-7925. Open Tuesday-Sunday at 11 a.m. For more information check web site www.PalumbosRistorante.com or e-mail palumbosinoldtown@verizon.net.

Where to Stay

Quality Inn Southern California

I enjoyed a very comfortable stay at the Quality Inn Southern California Wine Country lodge which recently had been renovated. Clean accommodations and a friendly staff made this the perfect choice to rest up and use the pool after seeing all that the Temecula Valley has to offer. And, each time we passed through the lobby, we were happy to drink the fresh lemon water provided for all guests, free of charge. Accomodation prices were quite reasonable as well.

For more information contact the Quality Inn at 27338 Jefferson Avenue, Temecula; 951-296-3788 or for reservations worldwide call 800-4choice or go to choicehotels.com.

Palomar Inn

Built in 1927 during Prohibition, this historical landmark hotel is still active decades later and is the first 'modern' hotel in Temecula since being redone. The building once contained a drugstore, post office and switch board western saloon. Today, in addition to ten reasonably priced rooms, it is also home to the most complete selection of wines in Temecula Valley -- known as the Temecula House of Wine on the main floor.

For reservations call 951-676-6503 or go to web site palomarhotel@gmail.com. It is located at 28522 Old Town Front Street.

Uptown Temecula

North of Old Town Temecula adjacent Jefferson Avenue is Uptown Temecula. The popular corridor is home to “Temecula Hotel Row” where visitors find the sincere conveniences and consistencies of branded hotel properties including (from north to south): Quality Inn, La Quinta, Fairfield, Extended Stay America, Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, Springhill, and Hampton Inn.

Holiday Inn Express

Newly completed at Holiday Inn Express are a new lobby, fitness room, and meeting room. There is also a fresh, new breakfast-area where complimentary, hot breakfast is available to overnight guests each morning.

What to See & Do

Summerfest 2014 Top 10 Festivals and Special Events in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

VisitTemecula.org announces the Summerfest 2014 Top 10 Festivals and Special Events in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country including the Balloon & Wine Festival, Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Markets, Summer Concerts, 2014 Vintage Father’s Day, Street Painting Festival, Plein Air Art Festival, Premium Varietal 4th of July, Hot Summer Nights, Pechanga Pow Wow, Microbrew Festival, and Competitive Barbecue Festival. Welcoming 2 million visitors each year and located 60 minutes from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Springs; 90 minutes from Los Angeles and Hollywood, the picturesque valley celebrates casual, friendly, Summerfest fun daily and nightly from May 30 through Labor Day weekend.

TEMECULA VALLEY Southern California Wine Country

“Casual, friendly, Summerfest fun is celebrated daily and nightly from May 30 through Labor Day weekend in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. Linger through less-busy weekdays and wrap midweek getaways around the Balloon & Wine Festival, Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Markets, Summer Concerts, 2014 Vintage Father’s Day, Street Painting Festival, Plein Air Art Festival, Premium Varietal 4th of July, Hot Summer Nights, Pechanga Pow Wow, Microbrew Festival, and Competitive Barbecue Festival,“ encourages Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “More days equal more fun and Temecula Valley hotels and resorts’ Sunday-through-Thursday, better-than-weekend, nightly room rates are very appealing for enjoying outdoor adventures, seasonal restaurant menus and artisan foods, and wineries’ and wine tasting rooms’ new releases. Sunny, warm afternoons are cooled by gentle Pacific breezes; stars fill the night skies; and ocean fog and mist lightly drape early mornings.” Welcoming 2 million visitors each year, the picturesque Temecula Valley is located 60 minutes from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Springs; and 90 minutes from Los Angeles and Hollywood.

-Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Market

(July 12, 19, 26; and August 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2014).

A Friday night hotel-or-resort stay yields glorious 8 a.m. Saturday morning convenience to this festive, weekly open-air marketplace acclaimed as much for fresh, flavorful, local, California-grown, directly-from-the-farmer, tree- and vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, as for opportunities to talk with and learn from dozens of growers and specialty food artisans.

Stone fruit like cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines; summer’s wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant; and sweet white corn by Fourth of July are among the season’s bounty. Consider fresh-cut flowers for adorning a hotel room with good cheer, and ask for guidance in selecting avocadoes and citrus that may travel well. After the Farmers Market, stroll the streets of Old Town, dine in one of the independently owned cafés or bistros, and shop the boutiques and specialty stores.

-Summer Concerts and Signature Wine-and-Live-Music Events in Temecula Valley
(July, August, and Labor Day weekend, 2014).

Among Temecula Valley’s most popular culture and entertainment are intimate, summer afternoon and evening concerts featuring musical artists’ live performances. Celebrating its twenty-sixth summer is Thornton Winery Champagne Jazz, Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons May through October. At the French-style chateau that is the gateway to the graceful vineyards of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, the stellar lineup of artists has included talents like Michael McDonald, David Sanborn, Bob James, Kenny G, and Boz Scaggs.

Among Wilson Creek Winery’s summer concerts on the outdoor concert stage with views of the vineyards are American country music singer-songwriter Phil Vassar (July 27), and Jimmy Buffett tribute band, The Parrotheads (August 22). Additional summer concerts will be on Monte de Oro’s majestic outdoor winery patio; under the stars in the courtyard at South Coast Winery; and at Wiens Family Cellars’ outdoor winery stage.

Meanwhile, Pechanga Resort & Casino will also feature summer 2014 headliner entertainment as well as 11 different dining options. Among artists scheduled to perform in the popular, 1200-seat Pechanga Theater is country music’s Wynonna (July 12). At the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Spectacular (June 22) will feature Sir Webber’s greatest all-time hits performed live including selections from productions like Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, and Cats.

Throughout summer, gracious and friendly Temecula Valley wineries with an array of authentic wine country venues and fresh, seasonal, wine country cuisine host a variety of signature wine-and-live-music events, Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons and evenings, and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Winery venues include Carol’s Restaurant at Baily Winery; Meritage restaurant at Callaway; Bel Vino, Europa Village, Falkner, Lorimar, Miramonte, Ponte, Thornton, and Wilson Creek. Along the De Portola Wine Trail signature wine-and-live-music venues include Cougar, Danza del Sol, Keyways, Leoness, Oak Mountain, and Robert Renzoni.

Old Town Temecula’s wine tasting rooms also feature wine-and-live-music events – and Temecula Valley award-winning premium varietal and proprietary blended wines. Located in the pedestrian-friendly historic district along with a fun variety of independently owned restaurants are Curry Vineyards, Fazeli Cellars, and Lorimar Loft. Also in Old Town is the circa 1890, concert venue with tall brick walls and excellent acoustics known at The Merc. Featured within are live jazz (Thursday evenings), country music (Saturday nights), and classic chamber music (Sunday afternoons).



-Pechanga Pow Wow (July 12, and 13, 2014).

Experience a glimpse of the richness, depth, and diversity of authentic Native American culture at one of the largest Pow Wows in the western United States. Thousands from throughout the Americas celebrate and preserve their heritage with Native American dancing, drumming, and performances. Hundreds of vendors with crafts and food also make for a colorful, cultural display. Saturday night features a legendary fireworks display against the panoramic mountains. The three-day event is open to the public with no admission charge.

-Hot Summer Nights in Old Town Temecula
(July 18, and 25; August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2014).

Providing inspiration to experience the vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, Old Town Temecula, 12-block, historic, arts-entertainment-shopping-and-dining district, live bands play on patios and special stages for eight sequential Friday evenings. Each week is a new experience with blues, tribute bands, Cajun/Zydeco, Ska, beach, big band, alternative rock, and country concerts. The live music provides a fun and festive soundtrack for shopping the specialty boutiques, dining in the independently owned restaurants and bistros, and for tasting award-winning Temecula Valley premium varietals and proprietary blends in Old Town wine tasting rooms.

A Friday night hotel-or-resort stay provides the opportunity to experience the Saturday morning Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Market, take flight at dawn in a hot air balloon over Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, golf one of the fine courses of the Temecula Wine Country Golf Trail, or hike at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

-Pechanga Microbrew Festival & Chili Cook-off (July 19, 2014).

On a summer Southern California afternoon, the destination for beer enthusiasts to enjoy tastes of thirst-quenching craft brews is the Microbrew Festival in the grand ballroom at Pechanga Resort & Casino. Temecula Valley and regional microbreweries, and dozens of other widely popular breweries are showcased. The event also includes a chili cook-off competition among the highly regarded chefs of Pechanga’s premier restaurants. Attendees savor microbrews and sample chili to a background of live music and entertainment. Tickets include those for full-experience attendees as well as designated driver guests who choose not to drink.

For a complete, daily Temecula Valley Events Calendar, please see VisitTemecula.org.

ABOUT TEMECULA VALLEY AND THE TEMECULA VALLEY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

With natural gifts of climate and geography, bolstered by Pu’eska Mountain, the Rainbow Gap, and the Santa Margarita Gap, Temecula Valley is widely recognized for its scenic vineyards, award-winning wines, and gracious and friendly wineries as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. The popular boutique destination also includes Downtown Old Town Temecula, Pechanga Resort & Casino, and the Temecula Wine Country Golf Trail, and is home to three-time, award-winning California State Winery of the Year, South Coast Winery.

The Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (TVCVB), the region’s official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors, is online including a complete, daily Events Calendar at VisitTemecula.org; “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country” on Facebook; and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. The TVCVB also welcomes filmmakers, directors, writers, production companies, ad agencies, and location scouts online at FilmTemecula.com. The Temecula Valley Visitors Center is located in Downtown Old Town Temecula (Third Street and Mercedes) adjacent the free Old Town Temecula Parking Garage.

VisitTemecula.org Announces 17 Art and Culture Must See and Do in
Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

“Art and music in many forms celebrate Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, its multi-faceted culture, and rich history. The new “17 Art-and-Culture Must-See-and-Do,” is great inspiration for a creative and imaginative stay,” enthuses Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “Art and culture visits are especially meaningful when stays include midweek. Less-busy weekdays make it easier to linger and enjoy; and Sunday-through-Thursday (better-than-weekend) hotel-resort nightly room rates can be very appealing.” Located 1-hour from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Desert; and 11⁄2 hours from Los Angeles; the casual, boutique destination includes Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.

-Summer Concerts at Temecula Valley Wineries

In TVSCWC, the Summerfest season spans July, August, and Labor Day weekend. Throughout the Summerfest season, unique and welcoming, winery venues host great musical artists, concerts, and live entertainment. Monte de Oro, South Coast, and Wilson Creek host popular, summer concert series each year. Thornton Winery is legendary for its Champagne Jazz concert series; the 2013 schedule includes Hiroshima, George Benson, Jesse Cook, Marc Antoine, and Keiko Matsui. Weekly signature wine-and-live-music afternoons and nights are also features throughout Summerfest. Winery venues include Bel Vino, Callaway, Cougar, Europa Village, Falkner, Leoness, Lorimar, Miramonte, Mount Palomar, Oak Mountain, and Wilson Creek.

-Temecula Summer Art Day Camps

Visitors are welcome to pre-register their children and teens for a variety of fun and popular, Temecula Summer Art Day Camps. Held on four consecutive weekdays, all visual-art day camps are coordinated through the City of Temecula Community Services Department. Also offered is a “Yes, You Can Draw & Paint Camp” for kids and adults.

-Hot Summer Nights in Old Town Temecula

Celebrated as Hot Summer Nights, live bands perform on patios and special stages throughout Old Town Temecula on Summerfest Fridays. Genres – including blues, tribute bands, reggae, Cajun/zydeco, ska, beach, big band, alternative rock, and country – provide a fun and lively soundtrack throughout the 12-block, historic, Old Town dining-shopping-entertainment district. Music fans can enjoy exploring Old Town shops and boutiques; dining in Old Town restaurants and bistros; and tasting quality Temecula Valley wines in Old Town wine tasting rooms.

-Todd White Fine Art at Pechanga Resort & Casino

The Pechanga Collection By Todd White includes 11 original, vibrant oil-on-canvas paintings by the internationally recognized creator of the official 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards artwork. Described as “Rat Pack meets Picasso,” each painting tells a story and depicts a lively, colorful, gaming scene; everyone having a good time together. Among the art pieces at Pechanga Resort & Casino are: “Full House” (in the hotel lobby); “No More Bets” (in the casino as guests enter from the hotel lobby); and a collection of three originals (“Snap Shot,” “Push It,” and “Peep It”) hung together in the lighted alcoves across from Kelsey’s restaurant.

-Lorimar Galleries: Temecula Valley Wine Country & Old Town Temecula

The tagline of Lorimar Vineyards & Winery is “A Fusion of Wine, Art, and Music.” And so it is that the Art Gallery at Lorimar Winery features the works of talented local creatives including artist Jami Tobey; fine art photographer Robert Kaler; photographer Heather Van Gaale; and metal artist Eric Burnett. The Gallery at Lorimar in Old Town Temecula features monthly art exhibits like local photographer Bodhi Smith. Also at Lorimar in Temecula Valley Wine Country is live music (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays); fun and intriguing tours daily (some include music and art); and wine tasting daily. Lorimar in Old Town Temecula also offers wine tasting daily.

- Art with Grapeline Wine Tours

Wine tours out among the vineyards in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and customizing group excursions are among Grapeline's specialties. For groups by advance arrangement, Grapeline welcomes the opportunity to incorporate Temecula Valley fine art experiences with a day that includes winery touring, wine tasting, and dining with vineyard views.

-Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony is an internationally recognized haven providing secluded working retreats for professional, emerging, and aspiring visual artists, writers, composers, and musicians. Set on 340 acres along a ridge overlooking the Temecula Valley, Dorland occupies 10 acres with the remaining land existing in its rustic, natural beauty. For occasional Open Studio events, Dorland invites the public behind the gates to walk the grounds, and enjoy music, food and mingling with creative people.

-Luiseño Basket-Artistry inspired Fountain in Old Town Temecula

Located in Temecula Town Square Park at the base of the Mission-revival style Temecula Civic Center, the fountain inspired by Luiseño basket-artistryis a landmark in Old Town Temecula highly popular for photo opportunities. The 20-foot diameter bowl is covered in mosaic tile to resemble the exceedingly tight weave and renowned, beautiful textural design of a Luiseño grass-woven basket. Symbolizing the Temecula and Murrieta rivers combining, two granite walls flank the fountain with the water flowing into the bowl; the water feature is 60 feet end-to-end. The fountain was designed by local artist, Christopher Pardell who also designed the “Letters From Home” bronze sculpture at Temecula Duck Pond Park.

-Historical Old West Walking Tour of Old Town Temecula

The first travelers to Temecula along the Southern Emigrant Trail into California were trappers, hunters, and explorers, followed by gold prospectors. In 1858, Temecula became one of the stops along the Butterfield Stage Route. Then in 1882, the first railroad line was completed and a new town site was established; that site is the location of Old Town Temecula today. Some repurposed structures built during the railroad years still exist. A stop at the Temecula Valley Visitors Center in Old Town (Third Street and Mercedes; adjacent the Old Town free parking garage) secures visitors a ‘free’ self-guided Old Town Temecula Historic Walking Tour map/brochure.

Originally a storehouse and store, the circa 1890 Welty Building later became a hotel with a bar, pool tables, slot machines, and a boxing ring where American heavyweight boxing champions Jack Dempsey and Jack Sharkey reportedly sparred. Today, the structure is home to Temecula Olive Oil Company. Across the street, the historic 1891 Burham Store (later Temecula Mercantile) is now The MERC, a club-style performance space with a small art gallery. On the same block, the 1914 First National Bank of Temecula is now The Bank Mexican Restaurant. The historic walking-tour brochure includes additional historic properties.

-History of Temecula Mural in Old Town Temecula

Located in Old Town Temecula on Sixth Street between Old Town Front Street and Mercedes, the “History of Temecula” mural by local artist Robin Golden spans nearly the full length of the block. The hand-painted artwork chronicles Temecula Valley history including Temecula’s Butterfield stagecoach days; the era of the California Southern and Santa Fe Railroads; Temecula’s Old West Glory days of cattle drives from the back country; and today’s picturesque rolling hills of vineyards with colorful hot air balloons in flight. While the mural is available for viewing 24-7, on Saturday mornings it is the backdrop for the popular California-certified, Old Town Temecula Farmers Market where local chefs and slow food enthusiasts shop for fresh, local seasonal fruits and vegetables (including avocados and citrus year-round), artisan foods, and fresh-baked goods.

-Old Town Temecula Gateway Arches

At the Northern and Southern boundaries of the historic Old Town Temecula dining-shopping-entertainment district, granite columns support ironwork arches with designs depicting the history of Temecula. Designed and created by local ironwork artist Bob Morris, the arches stand as hallmarks to the establishment of the first U.S. Post Office in Temecula in 1859. The history depicted via intricate cutouts in the iron reflects Temecula Valley’s cattle ranching days (1800s until the 1960s) when Temecula’s Old West lifestyle flourished.

A short walk from the Old Town Northern Gateway Arch is the “They Passed This Way” monument. The locally quarried, 150-ton granite memorial is a tribute to brave explorers and pioneers who traveled through Temecula in the years as the American West was settled. Etched in the stone are dozens of names – like legendary scout Kit Carson and mountain-man Jedediah Smith.

Nearby, the Temecula Valley Museum honors key stories through exhibits spanning the Luiseño Native Americans 10,000 years in the valley to modern day. On occasional Saturdays and by advance reservation for groups of 10 people or more, the museum provides docent-guided, Old West walking tours. While walking Old Town, participants learn historical facts about Old Town’s oldest landmarks and most colorful characters.

-The Vault at The Bank Mexican Restaurant

The historic 1914 First National Bank of Temecula is now The Bank Mexican Restaurant popular for its authentic Mexican food and friendly, casual atmosphere. By advance reservation, guests may dine in the historic, walk-in Vault (up to 6 guests for lunch or dinner). The Vault features a life-size, 3-dimensional, hand-painted mural by local artist Jill Roberts. The artwork is 1914-inspired and includes items such as safe deposit boxes, ledgers, and an alarm. The Bank’s history includes the first bank robbery in the region in 1930. The local Temecula Gunfighters reenact the great robbery each year in May for the Old Town Temecula Western Days celebration (May 17-18, 2014).

-Old Town Temecula Community Theater

Central to the historic, 12-block, entertainment-dining-shopping district is the 361-seat, state-of-the-art Old Town Temecula Community Theater. The performance space offers excellent sightlines and exquisite sound from every seat. The Theater’s quality arts and entertainment include local theatrical productions (Grease, Anything Goes). Concerts feature a variety of genres (Hotel California Salute to the Eagles, Stony B Blues Band, Jimmy Dorsey Tribute Big Band). Dance productions span contemporary to classic, ballet companies. The Old Town Theater also presents excellent holiday performances like Tchaikovsky’s beautiful, beloved ballet The Nutcracker; and A Christmas Carol: The Musical telling the uplifting tale of Scrooge’s transformation and goodwill.

-The MERC and Gallery at The MERC

Adjacent to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, the historic 1891 Mercantile Building is now The MERC. The front room is Gallery at The MERC, hosting the works of talented, local artists. At the back is The MERC’s club-style performance space; its tall 19th century brick walls make for excellent acoustics. Sunday afternoons showcase classical chamber performances; Thursday evenings notable jazz artists take to the stage; first and third Saturdays of each month feature Country Music ala Temecula Opry style; and the last Sunday evening of each month, Broadway-style Cabaret acts entertain the intimate club’s 50 guests.

-Iron Art Sculptures East of Vail Lake

Highway 79 south is part of the scenic Palms to Vines highway that links Palm Desert with Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. East of Vail Lake are massive iron art sculptures. The attention-grabbing accents along the byway were torched and hammered by sculptor-designer Ricardo Breceda. Among the artworks is a large stagecoach and three giant horses galloping and jumping; the artistic detail extends to the horses’ flowing manes and tails created from thin strands of twisted metal. Also along the Palms to Vines route is Temecula Olive Oil Company’s Olive View Ranch. By advance reservation, visitors may tour the olive ranch and learn of the growing, harvesting, and pressing of olives to produce fresh, full-flavored, 100% extra-virgin Temecula Olive Oil.

*Information is believed accurate but may be subject to change.

ABOUT TEMECULA VALLEY AND THE TEMECULA VALLEY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

With natural gifts of climate and geography bolstered by Pu’eska Mountain, the Rainbow Gap, and the Santa Margarita Gap, Temecula Valley is most widely recognized for its quality wines and wineries as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. The popular boutique destination recently received TripAdvisors’ Travelers Choice “Best U.S. Wine Destination Top 10” award and includes a trio of main attractions: Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.

The Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, the region’s official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors is online at VisitTemecula.org; “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country” on Facebook; and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. The Temecula Valley Visitors Center in Downtown Old Town Temecula (Third Street and Mercedes, adjacent the free Old Town Temecula Parking Garage) is open 7 days. For visitor information and assistance, call 888/363-2852 or 951/491-6085.

3 Terrific Ways to Experience Aerial Adventures in the Big, Blue Skies in and near Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

“From floating serenely in a hot air balloon with spectacular views of rolling hills and vineyards, to the incredible thrill of tandem skydiving and the sensation of freefall in an indoor sky-diving wind tunnel. There are 3 terrific ways to experience aerial adventures in the big, blue skies and beautiful, year-round weather, in and near Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country,” explains Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “Celebrating a visit to Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country with an aerial point of view makes a stay-over a once-in-a-lifetime, exceptionally memorable experience. These aerial activities are especially great for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, wedding proposals, first dates, holidays (like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day), and for group-travel and business incentives. Enjoy special mid-week (better-than-weekend) hotel-motel-resort rates Sunday-through-Thursday and more fully experience the casual, picturesque valley’s Downtown, Old Town Temecula; Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country; and Pechanga Resort & Casino.” The popular destination is 1 hour from Orange County and Palm Desert; and 11⁄2 hours from Los Angeles.

1- A Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country Hot Air Balloon Flight

As much an adventure as it is a delightful discovery, a hot air balloon flight over Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country is the opportunity to experience some of Southern California’s remaining open, rural countryside. Floating serenely over open-country with a big, blue sky overhead provides a spectacular view of rolling hills, vineyards, farms, ranchlands, and citrus groves.

Throughout the year, hot air balloon flights highlight an ever-changing scene that puts one in touch with the seasons. Wisps of summer’s morning mist lingering above vineyards vast and lush. Chance-opportunities to witness grape harvest at dawn from overhead. The brisk cool of autumn as vines’ leaves turn golden and red. The crisp of morning in winter, dormant vines row-upon-row, and snow-capped mountains circle the valley. Then wildflowers in bloom after early spring rains.

The valley’s delightful, year-round climate makes it possible for hot air balloon companies like A Grape Escape, California Dreamin’, D&D Ballooning, and Magical Adventures to launch year-round, 7 days a week including holidays (weather permitting) – floating quietly, just above the vineyards and to 2,000 feet. With no definitive line of perspective, the nature of hot air balloon flights is generally enjoyable, passive, and surreal. Because hot air balloons fly in Southern California’s inversion zone, temperatures aloft are typically as mild and comfortable as on the ground.

In Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, hot air balloons launch at sunrise; flights are approximately 1-hour. Local hot air balloon companies accommodate as few as 2 passengers for a romantic flight, or up to 12 or 14 with families, friends, and coworkers. Fleets of multiple hot air balloons accommodate larger groups up to 40 passengers. Many hot air balloon companies offer special celebration packages, sparkling wine toasts, and certificates of flight.

2-A Tandem Skydive at Lake Elsinore

North of Temecula, Skydive Elsinore is located next to Southern California’s largest natural lake and the rustic Ortega foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Outfitted in a jumpsuit, goggles, altimeter, and harness that secures one to the jumpmaster, tandem skydiving here via a dual harness system is a way to experience the thrill of freefall – the wind rushing and the sense of speed – and flying, then pulling the student ripcord of a parachute made for two.

Before taking off and jumping from an altitude of about 12,500 feet, tandem skydivers receive specific training. From exiting the aircraft and arching one’s body in freefall, to familiarization with the workings of the tandem parachute, and how to pull the ripcord at the right altitude (if the jumper chooses not to, the instructor pulls it).

With tandem skydiving, freefall averages 120 miles-per-hour or 200 feet-per-second. Few jumpers feel anything but exhilaration after leaving the door of the aircraft. While breathing is possible, the excitement of the tandem skydive typically leaves jumpers breathless. Freefalls generally last about 60 seconds.

3-Indoor Skydiving at Perris Skyventure

A state-of-the-art, 96-foot-tall, vertical wind tunnel makes indoor skydiving and the sensation of freefall – without an airplane – possible. Geared up in a jumpsuit, helmet, and earplugs, participants generally become familiar with floating on the powerful column of air and with the art of indoor skydiving in a few minutes.

The skydiving wind tunnel is a pressurized room consisting of two compartments. The first is the antechamber, the waiting room; the other is the chamber where the wind flows. Typical flying sessions are between 1 and 2 minutes; a 4-minute session is recommended for a more thorough flight experience. The number of sessions typically depends on fitness and experience. Small groups generally share 30 to 60 minutes.

An instructor supervises each group as wind tunnel flying varies slightly from skydiving. The airflow is custom-adjusted to the flyer’s body size and experience. Through hand signals, the instructor is available at all times to help with proper flying techniques and proper form. Also available is a “Sensory Overload” package that includes 2 minutes of wind tunnel time and a tandem skydive in a single day.

The Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, the region’s official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors is online at VisitTemecula.org; on Facebook, “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country”; and on Twitter, @Visit_Temecula. The Temecula Valley Visitors Center is open 7 days in Old Town Temecula, Third Street and Mercedes, adjacent Temecula Civic Center. For visitor information and assistance, call 888/363-2852 or 951/491-6085.

25 Irresistible Reasons to Midweek, Summer Vacation in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country 

“Hotels, motels, and resorts are all generally ‘more affordable’ midweek (Sunday night through Thursday night) and recreation like wine country tours, hot air balloon flights, and golf generally is, too. That is one of 25 great reasons to midweek, summer vacation in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country,” explains Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “The advantages and opportunities are compelling from hip, historic, and fun Downtown Old Town Temecula; and relaxed, gracious, and friendly Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country; to upscale and exciting Pechanga Resort & Casino. Accommodations provide a satisfying experience while travelling; there is a wide variety of things to experience; and we’re just about 1 hour from Orange County and Palm Desert, and 11⁄2 hours from Los Angeles.”

1. More Affordable Midweek Hotel Accommodations and Recreation

Not only are lodging rates at Temecula’s 15 hotels, motels, and resorts typically lower midweek (versus weekends) but recreation costs like wine country tours, hot air balloon flights, and golf are generally, more affordable, too. For lodging reservations, go to VisitTemecula.org

2. Weekday Advantages in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

Weekdays naturally provide greater opportunities for appreciating approximately 40 award-winning Temecula Valley So Cal wineries’ individual styles at a more leisurely pace. Less-busy weekdays are especially wonderful for visiting extremely popular wineries like Callaway, Leoness, Mount Palomar, Ponte, South Coast, Thornton, Wiens, and Wilson Creek.

At all Temecula Valley wineries midweek, the greatest bonus is the potential for memorable conversations with winery family-members or winemakers. Most wineries are family-owned and open daily for impromptu, winery-to-winery wine-tasting 

3. Perfect Midway, Midweek Stay-Over: From Los Angeles or Orange County En Route to San Diego

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and all that Old Town Temecula and Pechanga Resort & Casino have to offer make for fun days and nights on a Southern California vacation. Schedule a midweek, ‘stay and play’ detour en route from Los Angeles or Orange County to San Diego.

4. Ringo Starr and Other Midweek, Summer Concerts at Pechanga Resort & Casino

Celebrate summer at Pechanga’s midweek concerts with respected musician and performer Gary V of the Phillippine recording scene; the living legend, beloved drummer of the Beatles, Ringo Starr; and uniquely contemporary, country music artist, Dierks Bentley.

5. More Romance Midweek

Less hustle, less bustle, means more romance midweek in the Old Town Temecula dining-shopping-entertainment district, in welcoming Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, and at intriguing Pechanga Resort & Casino.

6. Easier Weekday, Golf Tee-Time Availability

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s impressive golf courses often offer better tee-time availability weekdays. Extend your stay and celebrate the richness of the game on all seven, local courses: Journey at Pechanga, Temecula Creek Inn, Cross Creek, The Legends, Red Hawk, The Golf Club at Rancho California, and Pala Mesa.

7. New Bingo Matinees and Evenings – Midweek at Pechanga Resort & Casino

Pechanga Resort & Casino’s beautiful Grand Ballroom serves as bingo hall Monday through Thursday afternoons and evenings. Inquire about advance events, electronic buy-in, paper buy-in, booster upgrades, and add-ons.

8. More Midweek Attention Along Old Town Temecula’s Tasting Trail

Leisurely weekdays mean more attention in Old Town’s palate-pleasing artisan and specialty-food shops, and wine tasting rooms. Linger at Temecula Olive Oil Company, Temecula Valley Cheese Company, Old Town Spice Merchants, Old Town Root Beer Company, Old Town Sweet Shop, and the Lorimar Winery Old Town Tasting Room.

9. More Affordable Group Hotel Rates Midweek

Most Temecula hotels offer special midweek (better-than-weekend) group rates with reservations for 10 guestrooms or more. Organize an extended get-together with friends, rendezvous with coworkers (past or present), or reunion with family and share the Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country experience Sunday through Thursday. For group hotel rates, contact Visit Temecula sales at 951/491-6085 

10. The Natural Beauty of Overnight Packages at Temecula Creek Inn

Secluded and tranquil, Temecula Creek Inn offers an Unlimited Golf Package with play on TCIs highly rated courses, a Wine Country Romance Package, a Welcome to Wine Country Package, and Chauffeured Wine Country Getaway Package 

11. Intriguing Packages at Embassy Suites – Temecula Valley Wine Country

Embassy Suites offers an intriguing quartet of accommodations-and-activities packages. Experience Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country with the Jeep and Wine Country Tour Package. Escape to beautiful greens and fairways with the Red Hawk Golf Club Package. Know a sweet rendezvous with the Romance Package and relax your senses with the Spa Package.

12. Four Diamond Accommodations and an Exciting Variety of Packages at Pechanga Resort & Casino

Pechanga offers Four Diamond overnight comfort and luxury, and hotel packages like Journey to Golf with golfing at Journey at Pechanga – one of California’s finest courses; Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country Tour packages with Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle or Temecula Valley Trolley, or as an ultimately memorable Hot Air Balloon Tour; and Rest and Relax Massage and Couples-at-Spa-Pechanga Packages. Inquire also about Room and Show packages for specific summer concerts.

13. Trio of Fun Packages at Fairfield Inn & Suites Temecula

Stay at Temecula’s Fairfield and experience Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country three, fun ways: A Grape Escape Hot Air Balloon Flight Package, Grapeline Wine Country Tour Package, or Sunrider Jeep Tour Wine Country Package.

 14. Stay-and-Play Packages at Holiday Inn Express - Temecula

With contemporary accommodations and good value in uptown Temecula, Holiday Inn Express offers a Golf Package with golfing at the vacation-worthy Cross Creek or The Legends golf courses; a fun, Grapeline Wine Country Tour Package; and a Temecula Valley Hot Air Balloon Adventure Package with California Dreamin’.

15. Discounted Rates for Multi-Night Stays at Ramada Old Town Temecula

Stay just south of Old Town Temecula at the Ramada for 2 nights and enjoy a 15% discount, or stay 3 nights and save even more with a 20% discount 

16. Upgraded and Renovated Embassy Suites – Temecula Valley Wine Country

Extensive upgrades and renovations are complete at Embassy Suites – Temecula Valley Wine Country. Guest suites have new carpeting, bedding, and high-definition 37-inch flat-panel TVs. The expansive outdoor area now features enhanced landscaping and a newly converted salt-water swimming pool; and the hotel boasts a new restaurant and sports bar.

17. Remodeled and Refreshed Hampton Inn & Suites - Temecula

Now even more welcoming and traveler-friendly is uptown Temecula’s Hampton Inn & Suites. The lobby, breakfast room, and fitness center are remodeled and expanded.

18. Newly Renovated Extended Stay America – Temecula Valley Wine Country

Described as “incredibly comfortable” and featuring fully equipped kitchens and plenty of space, all of Extended Stay’s rooms are newly renovated. New flooring, fresh paint, upgraded bedding, and flat screen TVs make for a better stay in uptown Temecula.

19. Newly Remodeled and Refreshed Ramada Old Town Temecula

The newly remodeled Ramada has a fresh welcoming lobby and guest rooms are freshly painted and feature new bedding.

20. Upgrades in Progress at Best Western Country Inn

Uptown Temecula’s Best Western is upgrading its guest rooms and expanding the breakfast room. The country-style inn is conveniently located to Old Town, The Promenade, Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.

21. Family-Friendly Temecula Lodging

For families of all ages on summer vacation, a hotel swimming pool and complimentary morning breakfast are prime amenities. Enjoy them at Quality Inn Wine Country, La Quinta Inn & Suites Temecula, Fairfield Inn & Suites Temecula, Holiday Inn Express-Temecula, Best Western Country Inn Temecula, SpringHill Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country, Hampton Inn & Suites Temecula, Embassy Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country, Rodeway Inn, and Ramada Old Town Temecula. Another option with a swimming pool is Motel 6 next to Sam Hicks Monument Park and the Temecula Valley Museum. Helpful note: the Rodeway Inn, located on Old Town Front Street, is within walking distance to fun and educational, Pennypickle’s Workshop, Temecula Children’s Museum.

22. Pet-Friendly Temecula Lodging

Visitors with pets reserve and enjoy pet-friendly accommodations at Quality Inn Wine Country, La Quinta Inn & Suites Temecula, Extended Stay America – Temecula Wine Country, Motel 6 Temecula – Rancho California, and Temecula Creek Inn.

23. The Ease and Excellence of Hotels’ On-Site Restaurants

Temecula Creek Inn has the memorable Temet Grill restaurant featuring wine country cuisine. Embassy Suites – Temecula Valley Wine Country has the new Sweet Spot Sports Bar and Grille. Meanwhile Pechanga Resort & Casino hosts Bamboo, Blazing Noodles, The Great Oak fine dining steakhouse, Journey’s End in the golf course club house, Kelsey’s ale house, Paisano’s Italian, and the Seafood Grotto, plus Pechanga Café, The Pechanga Buffet, and Temptations Food Walk.

24. The Wonderful Indulgence of Room Service

Especially on weeknights (dinner in the room) and weekday mornings (breakfast in bed), hotel room service can be a welcome indulgence. Catering to guests’ culinary whims is in-room dining at Temecula Creek Inn, Embassy Suites – Temecula Valley Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.

25. Opportunity to Stay Historic at the Palomar Inn Hotel

Located in the heart of Old Town Temecula, the Palomar is a 10-room, historical landmark built in the late 1920s. From here, do a self-guided Old Town historic walking tour arch-to-arch; visit the They Passed This Way Monument; shop for antiques and collectibles; and dine alfresco at Old Town’s bistros like Front Street Bar & Grill, Palumbo’s Ristorante, and Soro’s Mediterranean Grill.

The Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (TVCVB), the regions’ official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors, is online at VisitTemecula.org; “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country” on Facebook; and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. The TVCVB Visitors Center is open 7 days in Old Town Temecula, Third Street and Mercedes next to Temecula Civic Center. For more information and assistance, visitors may call 888/363-2852 or 951/491-6085.

Early Summer's Best Places to Shop in Temecula Valley

“Among many great reasons to vacation in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, is the great variety of fun shopping adventures – from Downtown Old Town Temecula to Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, the Promenade Temecula, and Lake Elsinore Outlets, too,” shares Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “Get ready for Southern California’s longest season with an early summer stay and explore Temecula Valley’s best places to shop. From specialty artisan foods and the season’s top fashions, to perfect accents and favorite wines for summer entertaining and celebrations. For greater, individual attention – and special, mid-week hotel rates – plan your stay for Sunday through Thursday and more fully enjoy Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino.” The casual, picturesque valley is 1 hour from Orange County and Palm Desert; 11⁄2 hours from Los Angeles.

Old Town Temecula: Sensational for foodies and others, too.

Revel in early summer at the 60+ specialty stores of the hip and historic, 12-block, Old Town Temecula shopping-dining-entertainment district. Temecula Olive Oil Company is an excellent first stop. Taste and learn at the (complimentary daily) olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tasting bar – actually an intriguing and informative mini-class in food ideas. Then gather oils, vinegars, peppercorns, herbs, mustard, rubs, and sauces for simple and delicious, summer meals to make at home. Purchase also a fresh baguette and a bottle of ‘Just Dip It’ to enjoy back at the hotel.

At Old Town Spice Merchants, the shelves hold an amazing variety of spices, sea-salts, and teas. Sample the fresh-brewed tea-of-the-day. Summer sensations include strawberry-kiwi, a refreshing herbal detox tea, and cranberry bog black tea. Also consider the savory barbecue rubs like Old Town mesquite, Temecula steak rub, and coffee barbecue.

Old Town Sweet Shop is known for its fresh-made fudge (free samples daily), great chocolate-lovers’ selection of chocolates and truffles, and incredible assortment of nostalgic, novelty candy. Other treats include twenty rotating flavors of hand-scooped ice cream. Old Town Root Beer Company features over 300 varieties of sodas, root beers, and ginger ales. Look for novelty flavors like ‘bacon’ and ‘peanut butter and jelly,’ too.

Step into charming Temecula Lavender Company for locally grown, pure, small-batch, signature lavender products for bath, body, and home. Sample lavender lotions; especially nice for summer is the lavender-lemon salt scrub. Down Front Street, find Old California Lavender with locally grown and made lavender lotions and oils, and flea-repellent pet products.

One of Old Town’s favorite shopping destinations is The Farmer’s Wife; women love this store! Shop here for classic summer sandals and accessories; books and journals; home décor and garden accents. Just across the river from Old Town Temecula is Granny’s Attic. Discover collectibles, antiques, vintage clothing, and one-of-a-kind American furniture dating to the 1800s.

All that shopping surely inspires an appetite. Dine alfresco with award-winning Temecula Valley So Cal wines at Old Town restaurants and bistros. Front Street Bar & Grill has specialties like Irish nachos, legendary Reuben sandwich, gourmet bleu-cheese burger, and jambalaya. For salad Caprese, thin-crust Margherita pizza, and classic lasagna, experience Palumbo’s Ristorante; tabouleh, tzaziki, falafel, and kabobs – Soros’s Mediterranean Grill; and for savory barbecue, Sweet Lumpy’s. 

Save room for fresh-brewed coffee and classic, old-fashioned dessert made-from-scratch at Robin’s Nest. Temptations include treats like red velvet cake, German chocolate cake, carrot cake, lemon bars, and lemon meringue pie.

Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country: Sure palate pleasers and more.

Early summer visitors to gracious and friendly, Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country are easily enchanted by the quality, award-winning wines and unique merchandise at the valley’s approximately 40 wineries. Taste wines and purchase favorites for enjoying at home, for featuring when entertaining, and for sharing with friends.

For light, refreshing wines to enjoy with summertime picnics, consider the 2011 Pinot Grigio at Cougar Winery; and the newly released Mousseux muscat sparkling wine at Oak Mountain Winery. For sparkling wines to toast college graduations, anniversaries, and the 4th of July, consider the sparkling wine at Lorimar Winery and the brut champenoise at Briar Rose.

Luscious red wines for Father’s Day and summer barbecues with steaks or classic burgers, include the 2008 Zinfandel at Mount Palomar Winery; and the 2005 Meritage at Baily Vineyard & Winery. (Among wine country dining: Mount Palomar has Shorty’s Bistro; Baily, Carol’s Restaurant.) 

Vindemia Vineyard & Winery is a must stop. Wine tasting is from Friday to Sunday from 11 am-5 pm. You can also arrange for a hot air balloon flight, daily, from here at web site www.californiadreamin.com. Located at 33133 Vista del Monte Road, Temecula 92591; 951-699-0601

Much to the delight of enthusiastic shoppers, most of Temecula Valley So Cal wineries host gift areas or winery gift shops. At Ponte Family Estate Winery – the stately barn with the wrap-around porch – the Ponte Marketplace is especially popular for its unique dipping oils, wine accessories, and home accents. On-site is alfresco dining at The Restaurant at Ponte. 

The gift boutique at Tuscan-inspired South Coast Winery Resort & Spa features summer resort wear like dresses, jeans, and trendy tops; plus home décor and lighting, and rustic taper candles in wine-themed colors. On-site are indoor and outdoor dining at the Vineyard Rose.

Maurice Car’rie Winery is a charming, Victorian-style farmhouse. The gift shop features a great variety of wine accessories, wine-related and wine-themed items. Deli items are also available to enjoy in the picnic area.

At Callaway Vineyard & Winery, summer 2012 will include the debut of the new visitor center, gift shop, and tasting room. The Callaway gift shop has long been recognized for its beautifully displayed merchandise ranging from wine-related accessories to seasonal offerings like bright, summer tableware, garden décor, and fun jewelry. On-site is Meritage Restaurant with stunning vineyard views. 

Promenade Temecula: Stylish, cool, and looking good.

The Promenade Temecula is the perfect summertime destination for shoppers of all ages. With a distinctive indoor/outdoor lifestyle layout featuring some of today’s most sought-after stores and a wide variety of unique restaurants, the shopping center offers an unparalleled experience for visitors. 

With more than 170 specialty stores to choose from, guests may enjoy a variety of high-end shopping and family fun. Shoppers can stop by to pick up the latest summer trends at Macy’s, H&M or the Lemonchello Boutique; select a timeless piece at Coach; or check out the latest technology to capture those summer memories at the Apple store. Later guests are invited to relax and savor a delicious summer meal at one of Promenade Temecula’s outstanding selection of restaurants, including Lazy Dog Café, PF Chang’s China Bistro, and Yard House. 

Treat yourself, family, and friends to the newest summer blockbuster at Edwards 15 Cinemas, or enjoy the fine Southern California weather by spending time in the center’s unique open-air Main Street-style plaza. The outdoor shopping plaza features a full array of restaurants and specialty shops including Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Guests are also invited to visit the newly installed Wine Walk, an interactive wine country experience created especially for Promenade Temecula guests. This unique installation features six of the most well-respected Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country vineyards including Briar Rose Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Leoness Cellars, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, and Wilson Creek Winery. 

Promenade Temecula also hosts a wide variety of exciting events throughout the summer, including family-friendly gatherings and a summer-concert series.

Lake Elsinore Outlets: The delights of discounts.

At the northwest corner of the valley is Lake Elsinore Outlets with 50+ discounted and factory stores. Shop popular outlets like Bath & Body Works, Billabong, GAP, Guess, Levi’s, O’Neill, OshKosh, and Pacific Sunwear. For name-brand footwear, explore Bass, Nike, Reebok, SKEECHERS, and Vans.

Inquire in advance about the Lake Elsinore Outlets ‘Shop and Play’ package that includes special savings and souvenirs, and two tickets to a Storm baseball game. The minor league team is the Class A Advanced affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

The Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), the region’s official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors, is online at VisitTemecula.org; “Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country” on Facebook; and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. The Temecula Valley CVB Visitors Center is open 7 days in Old Town Temecula at Third Street and Mercedes, adjacent the Temecula Civic Center. For more information and assistance, visitors may also call 888/363-2852 or 951/491-6085.

Thornton Winery

Opened in 1988, and nestled in the heart of the Temecula Valley Wine Country, a visit to this charming winery that combines old world style with new world taste, is a must. Helre, award-winning and premium varietal wines have won numerous awards, and the Methode Champenoise process that is used has proven to be the best for producing fine quality Sparkling Wine/Champagne. Many of the award-winning varietals emulate classic wine styles of the Mediterranean and Rhone regions.

During our wine tasting tour, we found wines with great freshness and flavor produced using whole cluster pressing, extensive blending, barrel aging, and different vinification techniques -- all explained by an excellent tour guide.

From the outside, we were also impressed -- for the elegant French-style chateau overlooking vineyards of the Temecula Valley, is incredible beautiful and I couldn't stop taking photos of the Cafe Champagne, the breathtaking Fountain terrace, Herb Garden where the chef collects fresh herbs for his delicious meals, and the indoor Gift Shop and Champagne Lounge. The restaurant has won a Five Star Award for its "Contemporary Fusion Cuisine," and I can't wait to eat there again - and again, for the food was extraorldinary and served in beautiful dishes.

Come even if you don't drink wine -- for the Thornton Winery is the site for the popular Champagne Jazz concert series, scheduled from April through October -- performed on the beaugtiful Fountain Terrace, the winery's intimate outdoor setting. And, this is a great place for weddings, banquets and winery tours.

Location: 32575 Rancho California Road, Temecula 92591, PO Box 9008. Winery (951) 699-0099. E-mail: info@thorntonwine.com. www.thorntonwine.com

Additional Wineries in Old Town Temecula, established in 1859, include:

Longshadow Ranch Winery - 951-240-5177

Lorimar Wines & Tasting Room - 951-240-5177

Villa de Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co. - 951-695-4525

Granny's Attic & Old Town Antique Faire

If you love collecting antiques - or just looking at some real oldies - check out Granny's Attic where you'll fnd 30,000 square feet of collectibles, 200 shops filled with antipques; old time sodas and candies, and furniture and clock repair. At Old Town Antique Faire, check out the vintage collectibles, Victorian apparel and accessories, and one-of-a-kind collectors' items.

Granny's Attic is located at 28450 Felix Valdez, Temecula, CA 92590; 951-699-9449. Web site www.mygrannysattic.net.

Old Town Antique Faire is at 28601 Front Street, Temecula, CA 92590; 951-694-8786.

Kidspace Children's Museum

Kidspace is a unique children's museum that features exhibits, programs and activities over more than four acres of indoor and outdoor space. Although my children weren't along with us on this trip, I loved the place. It encourages a child's growth and development through explorations of the environment, investigations in science, and artistic forms of expression that captivate the inquisitive and grown minds of children ages 1-10. And, I have to add, that it enriched me, too, as I watched dozens of children enjoying themselves tremendously.

Kidspace is an interactive learning environment that is fun for everyone. With more than 20 exhibits to explore, activities of learning and discovery take place side by side with the creativity of play. Some of the exhibits include:

Raindrop Climber -- this enclosed glass climber soars 40 feet into the air, with climbing platforms sculpted into the form of raindrops.

The Dig -- Uncover plant and animal fossils native to the Pasadena Arroyo Seco

Trike Tracks - follow the marked routes on special Kidspace tricycles (I even spotted an adult trying to join in the fun)

Interpretive Arroyo -- a mini model of Pasadena's own Arroyo Seco with gentle, rolling water and native plant life for kids to explore and discover

Nature Exchange -- bring samples of rocks, plant life, soil, or other natural objects to trade at the Kidspace Nature Exchange. Kids can share their knowledge of the object to earn points on their Nature Exchange Membership Card to trade for new items or artifacts.

Bugsy's Diner - learn about the anatomy and feeding habits of insects

Bug Collection - get up close and personal with over 20 species of live exotic insects from spiders to hissing cockroaches to beetles and more

Harvest Corner -- Get your hands dirty in the vegetable garden as you learn how food grows.

Opening Summer 2012 is Newton's Physics Forest - an interactive world of physics and green space created to inspire and encourage young scientists. It is designed to complement the Museum's established and celebrated natural science program and is built outdoors in the beautiful natural setting of the Arroyo Seco. From ball drop launchers, giant levers and swiveling kaleidoscopes, there will be activities to touch, teach and ignite children's love of science.

Kidspace is also open for private events. Rental fees include tables, chairs, standard lighting and many creative decor packages are available. Also offered is specialized educational programming, such as 'learn n play team building," for your next forporate program focusing on leadership development, teamwork, or general ice-breaker activities and entertainment. On-site catering is also available.

Regularly scheduled programs take place. For details and the latest calender of events, check out web site www.kidspacemuseum.org.

Location: 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103. 626-449-9144; FAX 626-449-9985

Six Ways to Go Au Natural in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country

“Nothing recharges one’s spirit like exercise outdoors in the natural environment surrounded by thousands of acres of rolling hills, vineyards, and spectacular views. Midweek vacations in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country provide beautiful advantages and opportunities to get out, get back to nature, and experience fresh air, big skies, and inspiration. Enjoy six ways to go au natural, plus special mid-week hotel rates Sunday through Thursday,” shares Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. The casual, picturesque valley includes Downtown, Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino; and is 1 hour from Orange County and Palm Desert; and 11⁄2 hours from Los Angeles.

1. Explore the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Hikers and nature enthusiasts enjoy some of California’s rarest landscapes by exploring 40 miles of trails (for the novice, advanced, and even wheelchair-friendly) at the 8,300-acre Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. The 3,000-acre rolling grassland is widely regarded as one of California’s finest, remaining, native bunchgrass prairie. Coast live oak woodlands and the rare, ancient Engelmann oak savanna are home to acorn woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, and great horned owls. Meanwhile, patches of coastal sage scrub are home to distinguished, horned lizards. Throughout spring, look for mule deer, long-eared cousins to moose and elk.

Access to trails is daily throughout the year, from sunrise to sunset. Two adobe structures on the Reserve date back to 1846 and once served as bunkhouses for cowboys. Private, naturalist-led hikes are available by advance reservation for groups of 12 people or more.

2. Golf Journey at Pechanga

Widely recognized as one of the finest golf courses in California, the Arthur-Hills designed, Journey at Pechanga, snakes through native canyons and along the boulder-strewn mountain, rising and falling 300 feet in 18 holes. Design and construction of the course on nearly 300 acres of ancestral land, preserved almost all of the mature, native oak trees including the ancient Great Oak visible from the back nine. Estimated at 850-1,500 years-old, it is one of the oldest, coast live oak trees in the world. Journey’s signature hole 6 has a breathtaking 175-foot drop – the largest elevation drop on a California course.

 Journey’s amenities include a pro shop, driving range, locker rooms, pro lessons, tournaments, the 527-guestroom Pechanga Resort & Casino, golf packages, Journey’s End restaurant, Journey ala Carte snack bar, and Journey’s Lounge.

3. Saddle-up for a Horseback Ride through the Vineyards

A guided, horseback ride through the vineyards with Wine Country Trails by Horseback is an ideal way to experience Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s natural richness first-hand. Rolling hills of trellised vines comprise vast vineyard acreage making for a scenic, leisurely tour. Rides are on quality, well-seasoned horses in the early morning when dew is still fresh on the vines; in the afternoon with gentle ocean breezes; and in the evening with the setting sun as a backdrop.

Wine Country Trails by Horseback offers packages combining features such as horseback tour, wine tasting, and gourmet dinner.

4. Hike the High-water Lakeview Loop Trail

Hiking boots and plenty of water are requisites for hiking the High-water Lakeview Loop Trail at Southern California’s largest reservoir, 4,500-acre, Diamond Valley Lake. Located in what is known as the Valley of the Mastodons (for the fossils unearthed on-site during construction), the 21.8-mile trail loops around the lake over three dams and offers hikers incredible lake views and vistas. 

Nearby is the Western Science Center, home to the exciting artifacts and Ice Age fossils found in the Diamond Lake area. Mastodons and mammoths are hallmarks of the LEED-certified Center’s collection. 

5. Golf Temecula Creek Inn

Nestled against the Rainbow Gap – one of Temecula Valley’s most recognized geographic features – Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s original, prestigious course, features 27 holes of championship golf surrounded by 350 acres of rugged, natural beauty. With course designs by Ted Robinson Sr., and Dick Rosen; and a coveted 4-Star rating in Golf Digest’s Places to Play guide, each of Temecula Creek Inn’s distinctive nines offers a secluded layout where the fairways are lined with century-old oaks and towering sycamores. From the traditional adjoining fairways of the Creek Course, to the scenic beauty of the Oaks Course, to the dramatic elevation changes of the precision-demanding Stonehouse Course, each serves up challenge and reward. Well-marked trails wrap around the resort, leading hikers and joggers on morning and late afternoon jaunts; and birdwatchers revel in watching majestic, Red Tail Hawks soar high above.

Temecula Creek Inn’s amenities include a pro shop, driving range, pro lessons, tournaments, 130-guestroom Temecula Creek Inn, golf packages, and the Temet Grill restaurant and lounge.

6. Watch Solar Cup Boats on the Water

Just east of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and surrounded by rolling hills of chaparral, is 1400-acre Lake Skinner – home to the annual Solar Cup solar-powered boat race, the largest in the United States. Sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the event, (May 18, 19, and 20) features single-seat boats each with an official skipper and sunlight as the only power source; qualifying events, endurance races, and sprint races.

Lake Skinner is also home to the annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival each June.

VisitTemecula.org is the official website of the Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. The 501(c)6 non-profit organization stimulates tourism and economic activity, and is the region’s official resource for visitors.

Antique Shops Galore; Art & Collectible Shops; Craft & Gift Shops -- plus much more to see and do in Old Town Temecula.

Upcoming Events

With natural gifts of climate and geography, and bolstered by Pu’eska Mountain, the Rainbow Gap, and Margarita Gap, casual, picturesque Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country shares the richness of the valley with 2013 seasonal fests, festivals, and special events. Celebrated daily with the sunny, relaxed spirit that is synonymous with Southern California, each season has its distinctive splendor. Throughout the year, Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, and Pechanga Resort & Casino welcome visitors with a unique variety of events. For the most robust experiences, visitors arrive days before festivals and events begin and extend their stay after. Special, midweek (better-than-weekend) hotel-motel-resort guestroom rates (Sunday-through-Thursday) provide appealing savings that can become resources for additional activities (hot-air-balloon flights, winery tour-and-tastings, golf) and for purchases of Temecula Valley goodness and greatness (premium, varietal wines and proprietary blends; artisan foods). The popular, boutique destination is 1-hour from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Desert; 11⁄2-hours from Los Angeles.

Transportation

The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle

My partner and I had a fabulous day of visiting wineries and picturesque vineyards taking this shuttle. The operator described the countryside pluses, stopping many times to let us enjoy the fantastic views, and visited many excellent wineries along the way.

The Vineyard Picnic Tour includes wine tasting at four wineries, a gourmet picnic lunch and either an expert tasting presentation or a behind-the-scenes winery tour.

The Wine Shuttle, which we took, includes a flexible itinerary and generous winery discounts during the a-la-carte wine tasting adventure.

The Private Excursion customizes an itinerary that can include owner-hosted tastings, exclusive winemaker's dinners, and just about anything you can think of. Or, select one of the popular wine tasting packages and treat yourself to a carefree fun day.

All guests receive the Grapeline Value Passport - a bundle of exclusive offers from area wineries, restaurants and shops. The Shuttle also covers Paso Robles (805)239-4747; San Luis Obispo (805) 283-2765; Santa Barbara (888-894-6379 as well as Temecula (951-693-5755). For more information go to web site www.gogrape.com.

THOUSAND OAKS

More soon

TOMALES BAY

Nick’s Cove & Cottages Opens at Tomales Bay

Nick’s Cove, the beloved cabins and restaurant that delighted Highway One travelers with funky quarters, BBQ oysters, and the freshest seafood hauled in by local fishermen until 1999, has been lovingly brought back to life by Pat Kuleto, in partnership with acclaimed chef Mark Franz. Opened in summer 2007, the new Nick’s Cove & Cottages in Marshall feature luxury cottages located on or over the water, a 400-foot pier with docking for local fishermen, an artful array of antique boating memorabilia and the fully restored 130-seat, indoor/outdoor Nick’s Cove restaurant with its spectacular views of Tomales Bay, long celebrated as one of the California coast’s most pristine settings.

For more information call (415) 663-1033, (866) 63-NICKS, or go to web site www.nickscove.com.

VISALIA

More soon!

WALNUT CREEK

Walnut Creek Holiday Inn Express Opens with Distinctive Arts and Crafts-Inspired Décor

The new Holiday Inn Express in Walnut Creek was upgraded to fit the tastes and needs of today’s traveler. The interiors are influenced by the California Arts & Crafts movement, incorporating warm colors, comforting textures and natural-wood millwork. The hotel’s spacious public areas encourage socialization and relaxation. The Great Room features a conservatory with two-story windows, a library, leather sofas and an Internet kiosk with complimentary computer workstations. Guests can also enjoy the Breakfast Room, which is perfect for enjoying the hotel’s complimentary Express Start® breakfast bar. The hotel is minutes from downtown Walnut Creek, which offers upscale shopping and dining in a quaint village atmosphere. The 161-room hotel is near the Pleasant Hill BART station, where guests may board a train for a 37-minute trip to San Francisco.

WEST HOLLYWOOD

What to See & Do

West Hollywood has a Theme Song

West Hollywood is proud to unveil its new theme song, "Welcome Me Home (West Hollywood)." The song, by musician Kristy Hanson, won the Summer of Music original song contest after a judging process and public vote. "Welcome Me Home" was inspired by WeHo's warm and welcoming community and the freedom to be yourself and follow your dreams.

"Welcome Me Home (West Hollywood)" is available for free download on SoundCloud.

An L.A. girl by way of Ohio, Florida and Michigan, Hanson’s music has been featured on Clear Channel, XMU Radio, and radio stations across the country. She has performed at colleges and clubs around the US, including LA’s Hotel Café and New York’s Rockwood Music Hall. Before she hits the road again, Kristy is hard at work this fall on an EP with her indie rock side project, “East Paris,” and a solo EP of her new, loop-based pop songs.

Fashion's Night Out West Hollywood Recap

West Hollywood was once again the center of Fashion's Night Out in Southern California with prominent in-store events and a rockin' afterparty on The Sunset Strip at The Standard, Hollywood in West Hollywood.

Check out the West Hollywood Celebrates Fashion's Night Out video to get a glimpse of all the action. Or view pictures from visitwesthollywood.us4.list-manage.comafterparty at The Standard.

West Hollywood Marketing & Visitors Bureau · 8687 Melrose AVE STE M38 · West Hollywood, Ca 90069

Where to Eat

La Boheme Launched

Cafe La Boheme has undergone a complete transformation. The new restaurant will be more relaxed, informal, vibrant, unpretentious and, of course, tasty. The only returning elements are the gorgeous chandeliers of course. "They were just too amazing to discard, notes General Manager Brian O'Connor." "We looked around and realized that you could still have fun dining under a chandelier...that about wraps up our new vibe, " he notes.

With Executive Chef Christine Banta still guiding the kitchen, and famed restaurant designer Margaret O'Brien (recent winner of Angeleno's Best Restaurant Design for Republic) back to recreate the new restaurant, Cafe La Boheme will provide great food that can be enjoyed in a more casual environment. "The menu will be multi-faceted--lots of choices, from entrees to hot and cold appetizers and noodles and rice dishes," explains Banta. With a classical French background but coming from a Japanese/American family, Banta’s menu will reflect her many influences. “We’ve stripped things down this time around,” she explains. “The plating will be more rustic and less technical, but definitely still beautiful. Presentation is important, but food is definitely the focus.”

Stand-out dishes will range from an Octopus Salad featuring creamy sesame soy vinaigrette to Spicy Albacore soy wrap with lettuces, crispy shallots and shiso to a Warm Sliced Sirloin Salad with red onion, cilantro, cucumber and lime jalapeno vinaigrette. Other standouts to look forward to include Edamame Pesto Fettuccine, Catfish with black rice, roasted corn, baby zucchini and lemongrass amazu; Rocky Chicken Breast with whole grain mustard sauce, baby vegetables with garlic mashed potatoes; Miso-glazed Salmon with hon shimeji bamboo rice and spinach sauce; Roasted Beets with avocado, smoked trout and carrot ginger vinaigrette, and of course a 55-Day Dry-Aged Steak.

The original restaurant was a pioneer in restaurant design, and the new Cafe La Boheme will be equally as impressive and dynamic. So what is out? The tablecloths are gone. The tromp e'loile is gone. The velvet, jewel tones and mosaics are gone. And what is in? More private booths. Wicker. A lush lounge/bar. New paintings. New attitude. “We’ve taught the old dog a new trick,” explains O’Brien. “It is as wild and wonderful as before, but in a completely new light. The redesigned space is about action and color with formal structure rejected. The idea this time around was to make a change of costume in tune with today—the objective is to express!”

In addition to the menu and design changes, the bar has been completely re-done and expanded. “We want this to become a real neighborhood/after-work meeting place,” explains Brian O’Connor. “The whole idea this time around is to think of it as a real bar. It is its own experience. We will be serving a ‘snack menu’ which will feature smaller portions off the main menu and there is great seating and vibe overlooking the restaurant. It will definitely be a great place to hang-out early until late.”

Cafe La Boheme is located at: 8400 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. 323-848-2360. Restaurant Hours: Sunday through Thursday: 5pm – 10pm. Friday and Saturday: 5pm – 11pm.

Brick+Mortar, Smoke

is a steakhouse with California-inspired fine dining dishes, most of which utilize the restaurant's mesquite wood-burning grill. Located at 9010 Melrose Ave. Open nightly for dinner 5 p.m. - 2 a.m. Happy Hour is offered Mon - Fri 5 - 7 p.m. in the bar area. For reservations call (310) 385-2222.

An intimate charcuterie house and wine bar, Gorge offers a menu ranging from house-made sausages to fromage de tete to Red Snapper terrine. Located at 8917 Sunset Blvd. Open Mon - Sat 6 p.m. - midnight. For reservations call (310) 657-MEAT(6320).

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village Launches “Sustained Living” Menus

Director of Nutrition Paulette Lambert and Executive Chef Alex La Motte have created Sustained Living menus, featured in multiple dining outlets at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Sustained Living dishes were created to give guests balanced, delicious dining options to maintain a healthy lifestyle with ease.

Registered Dietician Paulette Lambert serves as Director of Nutrition at California Health and Longevity Institute (CHLI), Four Seasons’ on-property comprehensive health and wellness center. The new healthy and nutritious menus are based on California Health and Longevity Institute’s nutrition philosophy of plant-based meals with whole grain, high fiber carbohydrates and lean animal protein. Based on the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition and diet studies, this combination of foods aids in chronic disease prevention and improves overall health.

Sustained Living menu items range from 120 – 550 calories and are available on the breakfast and lunch menus in The Lobby Lounge, all-day menu in The Spa, and will eventually appear on the Hotel’s room service menus as well. Sustained Living breakfast options include Ancient Grain Porridge with barley, quinoa, steel cut oats, non-fat Greek yogurt, peaches and pecans (370 calories); and 9 Grain French Toast with wild blueberry compote and assorted berries (370 calories). Lunch dishes feature Mushroom and Kale Calzone with goat milk ricotta, kale pesto, eggplant, squash, whole grain crust, and a baby kale salad (520 calories); Quinoa and Heirloom Beans with Mohr Fry Calypso beans, garden beets, local peas, cotija cheese, and green harissa (465 calories); and Chilled Thai Coconut Curry Carrot Soup with a pine nut and citrus relish (120 calories).

For dining reservations please contact Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village at 818-575-3000 or visit the website at www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage.

About Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
As the world’s leading operator of luxury hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts currently manages 91 properties in 37 countries.  Open since 2006, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village provides a preferred address for both business and leisure travelers, and the highly personalized, anticipatory service that Four Seasons guests expect and value around the world.  The Los Angeles Valley hotel features 269 luxuriously appointed guest rooms, 40,000 square-foot award-winning spa, and state-of-the-art California Health and Longevity Institute on 20 acres of lush grounds. For more information on Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California, visit www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage.

YOSEMITE

What to See & Do

The Ahwahnee Announced the 30th Annual Chefsâ Holidays Lineup 

The Ahwahnee, a National Historic Landmark hotel located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, announces the lineup for the 30th Annual Chefs' Holidays event series. Celebrating the creativity and excellence of these culinary leaders in the world-renowned setting of Yosemite National Park, Chefsâ Holidays will be held over a series of eight sessions from January 11 - February 6, 2015. 
 
Since the inception of Chefsâ Holidays in 1985, this event series has allowed park visitors to explore the natural beauty of Yosemite in winter while enjoying an intimate food and wine event at what is considered the crown jewel of the national park lodges. Chefsâ Holidays allow the participating chefs to relax after their busy holiday season and unwind with their culinary colleagues and Yosemite visitors. Each Chefs' Holidays session includes a ãMeet the Chefsä reception, three cooking demonstrations and tastings in the hotel's Great Lounge moderated by culinary experts, a behind-the-scenes tour of The Ahwahneeâs 8,000 square foot kitchen and a gala dinner prepared by the sessionâs headliner chefs in The Ahwahnee Dining Room.

2015 Chefs' Holidays Schedule:

Session 1: January 11-14 (Sunday-Wednesday)
Moderator: Liam Mayclem
Headliner: Kent Rathbun, Abacus, Dallas, TX
Culinary Demonstrator: Angela Salvatore, Waterbar, San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans, LA

Session 2: January 14-16 (Wednesday-Friday)
Moderator: Liam Mayclem
Headliner: Sarah & Evan Rich, Rich Table, San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Brian Streeter, Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Marcy Smothers, Food Explorer & Author

Session 3: January 18-21 (Sunday-Wednesday)
Moderator: Janice Wald Henderson
Headliner: Peter Armellino, Plumed Horse, Saratoga, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Annie Somerville, Greens, San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Staffan Terje, Perbacco, San Francisco, CA

Session 4: January 21-23 (Wednesday-Friday) Collaborative Dinner*
Moderator: Janice Wald Henderson
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles,  CA
Nancy Silverton, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, CA
Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill, Santa Monica, CA

Session 5: January 25-28  (Sunday-Wednesday)
Moderator: Michael Harlan Turkel
Headliner: John Cox, Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Jesse Cool, Flea Street Cafe, Menlo Park, CA and Nell Newman, Newman's Own Organics
Culinary Demonstrator: Josey Baker, Josey Baker Bread/The Mill, San Francisco, CA

Session 6: January 28-30  (Wednesday-Friday)
Moderator: Michael Harlan Turkel
Headliner: Cal Stamenov, Marinus at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Peggy Smith & Sue Conley, Cowgirl Creamery, Petaluma & San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Hosea Rosenberg, Winner ãTop Chefä Season 5/Blackbelly Catering, Boulder, CO
 
Session 7: February 1-4 (Sunday-Wednesday)
Moderator: Carolyn Jung
Headliner: Ron Siegel, Michael Mina, San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Hoss Zare, Fly Trap, San Francisco, CA
Culinary Demonstrator: Kyle Itani, Hopscotch, Oakland, CA
 
Session 8: February 4-6 (Wednesday-Friday) Collaborative Dinner*
TV's Rockin' Women Chefs
Moderator: Carolyn Jung
Duskie Estes, ãNext Iron Chefä/Zazu, Santa Rosa, CA
Elizabeth Falkner, ãNext Iron Chefä/ Chef/Pastry Chef /Author/TV Personality
Ariane Duarte, ãTop Chefä/Arianeâs, Verona, NJ
 
*Indicates a collaborative dinner, one course by each chef plus one course by Ahwahnee Executive Chef Percy Whatley and Ahwahnee Executive Pastry Chef Paul Padua.

Special hotel packages for Chefsâ Holidays are available at either The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which includes lodging, culinary demonstrations and tastings, a ãMeet the Chefsä reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres, a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour and the five-course Chefsâ Holidays Gala Dinner paired with wine in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. The following rates are based on double occupancy, subject to change, and do not include room taxes.  Individual tickets for the Gala Dinner may be purchased at a price of $199 per person, including gratuity and excluding tax.

             Two-night Packages from:  THE AHWAHNEE $449 per person
Three-night Packages from:    $574 per person

YOSEMITE LODGE AT THE FALLS $319 per person
           $379 per person

 Free event-specific shuttle bus transportation is provided between Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and The Ahwahnee for the Chef's Holidays Gala Dinner. For more information on Chefsâ Holidays at The Ahwahnee or to make reservations, call 801-559-4949 or visit www.YosemitePark.com/Chefs.
 
ABOUT THE AHWAHNEE
The Ahwahnee, a AAA Four-Diamond hotel featuring rustic architecture with Native American, Middle Eastern and Art and Crafts design elements, is located in scenic Yosemite National Park, which is home to stunning natural beauty, year-round activities and historic charm. The Ahwahnee, a member of Historic Hotels of America, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and in 1987 it was listed as a National Historic Landmark. The Ahwahnee was recognized by Cond? Nast Traveler magazineâs ãReaderâs Choice Awardsä as one of the top 100 resorts in the United States. For more information, visit www.yosemitepark.com/ahwahnee.  
ABOUT DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES PARKS & RESORTS
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts provides Stewardship and Hospitality in Special Places SM with hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations at historic and scenic properties in North America and Australia. Delaware North Companies brings the extraordinary stories of a location's culture, history, landscapes and traditions to life in iconic locations such as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; national parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Sequoia, Shenandoah and Olympic; five luxury resorts in Australia: Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort, Wilson Island Resort, Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Homestead and Wilderness Park. Visit www.delawarenorth.com/parks-and-resorts-home.aspx for more information.

The Ahwahnee Hotel Announces its 33rd Annual Vintners‚ Holidays Lineup

The Ahwahnee, a AAA Four-Diamond hotel nestled in the heart of scenic Yosemite Valley,has announced the lineup for the 33rd Annual Vintners‚ Holidays event series showcasing some of California's best wineries. Vintners‚ Holidays runs over a series of seven sessions from November 4 to December 4, 2014 where attendees and vintners celebrate fall harvests with in-depth wine tastings and seminars, a reception to meet the vintners and a five-course gala dinner where each course is prepared by Executive Chef Percy Whatley and The Ahwahnee Culinary Team to complement the often rare or limited-release wines shared by  participating wineries.

'Vintners‚ Holidays offers guests the ultimate getaway to explore Yosemite's fall color and world-class hiking in addition to enjoying an intimate food and wine event,' said program director Kathy Langley. 'This year's stellar lineup of vintners includes returning favorites as well as some exciting new participants, which promises to be an exceptional program.'

Since its inception as a small gathering of vintners and hotel guests in the winter of 1982, Vintners‚ Holidays has become a premier California event for wine aficionados and winemakers alike. Vintners‚ Holidays allows the vintners to relax after their busy harvest season and share the fruits of their labor with Yosemite visitors.

The 2014 Vintners‚ Holidays schedule includes the following vintners and moderators:

Session 1: November 4-6 (Tuesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Peter Marks, Master of Wine & Vice President of Education, Constellation Academy of Wine
Steve Reeder, Simi Winery
Jeff Stewart, Hartford Family Winery
Chrissy Wittmann, Wild Horse Winery*
Bill Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Session 2: November 9-11 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Ellen Landis, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine & Owner, Landis Shores Inn
Mike Chelini, Stony Hill Vineyard
Ric Forman, Forman Vineyard*
Ross Halleck, Halleck Vineyard
Michael Martini, Louis M. Martini Winery

Session 3: November 12-13 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Ellen Landis, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine & Owner, Landis Shores Inn
Melissa Stackhouse, J Vineyard & Winery www.gloriaferrer.com
David Ramey, Ramey Wine Cellars *
Robb Talbott, Talbott Vineyards www.duttongoldfield.com
Daniel Baron and David Duncan, Silver Oak Cellars

Session 4: November 16-18 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Fred Dame, Master Sommelier
Sally Johnson, Pride Mountain Vineyard*
Ed Kurtzman, August West Wines
Bob Lindquist, Qupe
Mia Klein, Selene Wines

Session 5: November 19-20 (Wednesday-Thursday) "Goddesses of the Grape"
Moderator: Archie McLaren, Vintners Hall of Fame
Amelia Moran Ceja, Ceja Vineyards
Beth Nickel, Far Niente
Carrissa Chappellet, Chappellet Winery
Shauna Rosenblum, Rock Wall Wine Co.

Session 6: November 30-December 2 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Dan Berger, Wine Journalist & Judge
Violet Grgich, Grgich Hill Estate
Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield www.beckstoffervineyards.com
Chris Benziger, Benziger Family Winery www.augustwestwine.com
Matt Hatcher, Hatcher Wines

Session 7: December 3-4 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Dan Berger, Wine Journalist & Judge
Rob McNeill, Don & Sons
Lisa Bishop Forbes, Chalk Hill*
Scott Rich, Talisman
K.R. Rombauer, Rombauer Vineyards

*Indicates new participating winery or winemaker this year.

Special two- and three-night packages for Vintners‚ Holidays are available at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls or Curry Village, and include lodging, tickets to the Gala Vintners‚ Dinner, admission to the 'Meet the Vintners' reception and four wine tasting seminars. These special packages represent a significant value and guest savings off the regular rack rate for accommodations and services. Package pricing is per person and based on double occupancy. Individual tickets for the Gala Dinner may be purchased at $199 per person. All prices include gratuity, but exclude tax.

Two-night Packages from: THE AHWAHNEE $449
          Three-night Packages from: $574

YOSEMITE LODGE AT THE FALLS $337     $406
CURRY VILLAGE $319 $379

For more information on Yosemite‚s Vintners‚ Holidays at The Ahwahnee or to make reservations, call 801-559-4949 or visit www.YosemitePark.com/Vintners.

ABOUT THE AHWAHNEE
The Ahwahnee, a AAA Four-Diamond hotel featuring rustic architecture with Native American, Middle Eastern and Art and Crafts design elements, is located in scenic Yosemite National Park, which is home to stunning natural beauty, year-round activities and historic charm. The Ahwahnee was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and in 1987 it was listed as a National Historic Landmark. Condé Nast Traveler magazine recognized The Ahwahnee in the 2010  'Reader's Choice Awards' as one of the top 100 resorts in the United States.

For more information, visit www.YosemitePark.com/Ahwahnee.

ABOUT DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES PARKS & RESORTS
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts provides Stewardship and Hospitality in Special Places SM with hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations at historic and scenic properties in North America and Australia. Delaware North Companies brings the extraordinary stories of a location's culture, history, landscapes and traditions to life in iconic locations such as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; national parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Sequoia, Shenandoah and Olympic; five luxury resorts in Australia: Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort, Wilson Island Resort, Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Homestead and Wilderness Park. Visit www.delawarenorth.com/parks-and-resorts-home.aspx for more information.

Timberline Gallery & Gallery Yosemite “Rocks” the Yosemite Grant 150th Anniversary

Events of all kinds help to celebrate the occasion of the Yosemite Grant 150th Anniversary both inside Yosemite and in the surrounding gateway communities.

The southern gateway, known as California’s Gateway to Yosemite, is honoring the anniversary with many local events. Yosemite “Rocks” – an Artistic Learning Series is the first to kick off the New Year. Gallery Yosemite and Timberline Gallery will host this series on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 2 pm to 4 pm thru September. This is a free event at the galleries in Oakhurst.

“The story of the Yosemite Grant is a very exciting one” says De Karlen - a former National Park Service Ranger. “For the most part, it started around the campfire in Wawona. Now, 150 years later, we are the keepers of this information and need to pass it on!”

De is very passionate about the Park and preserving its history. She wants everyone to know the history as well as the icons. “The more we learn, the more we can share and get others excited about this national treasure” De continues, “especially during this monumental anniversary year.”

Events in the Yosemite “Rocks” series are:

August 9th – Art Treasures of Yosemite Museum presentation by Richard Pettier

September 13th – Yosemite Museum, Yosemite history presentation

For more event information go to the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau website at www.yosemitethisyear.com and for more information on the Yosemite Grant 150th Anniversary go to www.nps.gov/yose/anniversary.

Yosemite National Park's Curry Village Ice Rink Opened for the 2013-14 Season

The Curry Village Ice Rink is now open for the season through March 2, 2014. Located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, the Curry Village Ice Rink is a winter destination and holiday favorite for park visitors. Families enjoy this outdoor winter activity suitable for all ages in one of California‚s most spectacular winter landscapes.

The Curry Village Ice Rink was established in 1928 when the Yosemite Winter Club flooded a Camp Curry parking lot in Yosemite Valley, hosting hockey games, curling and speed skating competitions. Today, the outdoor rink is located at the Curry Village Recreation Center, nestled below Glacier Point with impressive views of Half Dome.  The recreation center is easily accessible via the park's shuttle system at stop #13A. Parking is also available for private vehicles. Ice skating is just one of many winter activities in Yosemite as the park also includes Badger Pass Ski Area, which is scheduled to open for the season on December 13, 2013.

In addition to ice skating, Curry Village Ice Rink features a large square fire pit with bench seating adjacent to the rink perfect for toasting s‚mores, watching skaters on the ice, sipping hot cocoa or just admiring the natural winter beauty of Yosemite. The rink is a favorite for park visitors of all ages and Fodor‚s Travel ranked it as one of the '15 Best Ice Skating Rinks in the U.S.' in 2013.

Daily skating sessions (subject to weather conditions) are offered from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. On weekends, the rink is open for additional morning and afternoon sessions from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m., and from 12:00 noon to 2:30 p.m., along with 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., and an evening session from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. The ice skating session fees are $10.00 per adult and $9.50 per child ages 12 and under. Rental ice skates are available for $4.00 per session. Helmets are available at no additional cost.

The Curry Village Ice Rink is operated by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, an authorized National Park Service concessionaire, operating lodging, dining, guest recreation and transportation in Yosemite. For more information on winter activities and lodging in Yosemite, visit www.YosemitePark.com or call 801-559-4949. For current ice rink conditions, call 209-372-8319. For road and weather conditions, call the automated National Park Service information line at 209-372-0200.

ABOUT DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES PARKS & RESORTS

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts provides Stewardship and Hospitality in Special Places SM with hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations at historic and scenic properties in North America and Australia. Delaware North Companies brings the extraordinary stories of a location's culture, history, landscapes and traditions to life in iconic locations such as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; national parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Sequoia, Shenandoah and Olympic; five luxury resorts in Australia: Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort, Wilson Island Resort, Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Homestead and Wilderness Park. Visit www.delawarenorth.com/parks-and-resorts-home.aspx for more information.

Evergreen Lodge Offers New Adventure Tour

Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite has introduced the Rim of the Valley Snowshoe Adventure, a unique guided Yosemite snowshoe trip. This new guided adventure, provides Yosemite visitors with an unforgettable day of absolutely stunning vistas. The Rim of the Valley Snowshoe Adventure follows one of the prettiest trails to one of the finest overlooks in all of Yosemite: Dewey Point. The route takes snowshoers up and down small forested ridges and through snow-covered meadows to the breathtaking Dewey Point. There, incomparable views of El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Three Brothers and other famous Yosemite landmarks await. Dewey Point also provides stunning vistas of the snow-covered peaks in the northern high country, including Mt. Conness and Mt. Hoffman, as well as the peaks of the Clark Range, which form the southern border of Yosemite. Throughout the day, naturalist guides share their intimate knowledge of the park and make sure trip-goers have a fun, inspiring and educational experience. Advance reservations required.

For more information contact Lesli Brown, Evergreen Lodge, (209) 379-2606 or (800) 93-LODGE, leslib@evergreenlodge.com, www.evergreenlodge.com.

Y Explore Yosemite Adventures

Y explore Yosemite Adventures is a family-run company offering a new way to experience Yosemite National Park. Y explore Yosemite Adventures specializes in professionally guided hiking tours and photography workshops in Yosemite National Park. Custom tours are available for individuals, groups, and families of all ages and experience levels. They operate year-round in Yosemite, and the tours deliver extraordinary experiences with excellent photo opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information contact Y explore Yosemite Adventures, (209) 532-7014, (800) 886-8009, http://yexplore.com

YOUNTVILLE

Mustards Grill Celebrates 25 Years In Napa Valley

Mustards Grill, Napa Valley’s landmark restaurant, pulled out all the stops in June to celebrate twenty-five years of extraordinary food. When award-winning Chef Pawlcyn first fired up the grill at this wine country roadhouse in 1983, she was at the forefront of the farm-to-table revolution, and set a precedent for culinary innovation and excellence that continues to be an inspiration today. A place where Mac trucks are as welcome as Mini-Coopers, Mustards enchants and surprises all who visit with creative twists on America’s favorite comfort foods.

Throughout the month of June, Pawlcyn paid tribute to her culinary past by rolling out Mustards’ greatest hits, including appetizers, entrées, and desserts from various years along the way. Chinese chicken salad, ripe garden tomatoes with basil, and warm goat cheese salad have all evolved into classics, becoming standard fare at diners and restaurants across the country. These and other iconic dishes are now part of America’s culinary heritage, and the public was able to experience the original creations firsthand.

Mustards Grill became an instant hit when it opened its doors in 1983. But just like a movie or song that keeps fans entranced for decades, this overnight sensation had staying power. More than just a neighborhood hangout, devoted fans have been meeting here for lunch every week for two decades. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that newcomers never feel out of place. Much like Cheers, which gained a foothold in America’s imagination that same year, Mustards is a place where everyone knows your name. The idea of a spot beyond the realms of home and work, where people can let down their guards and meet new friends, resonates just as strongly with today’s customers as it did then. This warmth, however, is just one part of the recipe.

With Northern California’s bountiful harvest at her fingertips, Pawlcyn draws inspiration from her extensive travels and vast cookbook collection (with upwards of 6000 volumes) to invent the cross-cultural combos that Mustards is famous for. From the very first menu it was clear that Pawlcyn had a unique approach: She combined grilled, locally made, house smoked ham with Jarlsberg cheese and tomato chutney for a new take on the classic ham and cheese sandwich. With Executive Chef Erasto Jacinto by her side, other scrumptious dishes followed: Sonoma duck with tomato salsa and black beans (1988), fried calamari with curried slaw (1994), and chile marinated lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and pumpkin seed pesto (2006).

Pawlcyn’s commitment to fresh, local, and hand-grown food goes beyond the norm. The tomatoes for the housemade ketchup, served as a condiment to Mustards’ famous onion rings (1983), come from her personal organic farms. Mongolian pork chops (1986), tea-smoked duck (1992), and baby back ribs (1990) all get their wood-smoked goodness from the house smoker, hand-built by a German bricklayer. Persimmons, apples and citrus grow on trees in Mustards’ garden, one of the first organic restaurant gardens in the country. Local blueberries, the size of marbles, show up in cobblers and crisps.

Pawlcyn went on to become a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, chef-owner of Go Fish and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, and co-creator of many renowned Bay Area restaurants, including Fog City Diner, Bix, Roti, Tra Vigne, and Buckeye Roadhouse—quite a journey from twenty-five years ago when Pawlcyn was in her 20s and had just realized her dream of opening Mustards.

Mustards Grill is located at 7399 St. Helena Highway in Yountville, California and offers lunch and dinner seven days a week. For reservations please call 707-944-2424 or visit www.mustardsgrill.com.



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