Redding, CA: Shape Up In Shasta Cascade

The breathtaking Shasta Cascade region offers world-class rivers, lakes and trails making it the perfect location to shape up with a plethora of outdoor activities....

Long Beach CA: Hotel Maya

Paying homage to this mysterious culture stands the Hotel Maya along the harbor in Long Beach. Complete with the unique and spectacular architectural style of the stepped pyramids, Hotel Maya welcomes guests into their "village" of modern structures assembled to create this luxurious seaside resort.

Murphys, CA: Murphys Haunted Hotel

When you arrive in the authentic town of Murphys, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, the locals will ask about where you are staying. If your response is Murphys Historic Hotel, expect the response to be, Haunted! That hotel is haunted!

San Diego, CA: The Keating Hotel

Southern California. Italian design. Ferrari. Stainless steel. Maserati. Bang and Olufsen. Rain showerheads. Just one of these by itself is damn sexy. Put them all together, add a king-sized bed, and you have the uber sexy Keating Hotel.

Arrowhead, CA: Mountain Swimming Hole

Nothing beckons the old days of hiking up the mountains to a nearby waterfall and jumping into the water feet first. Local photographer Sam Katz brings us back to those old memories with a look back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Long Beach, CA: Hotel Maya

One of the grandest civilizations in the history of the world is that of the Mayans, the collapse of which is still shrouded in mystery. Beginning in 2000 BC and thriving until 1500 AD, The Mayan culture built awe-inspiring temples, pyramids and cities within their complex social and political order. While the growth of this society was well documented, lost are any details of the decline of their world, with only remnants left behind of this ancient civilization.
Paying homage to this mysterious culture stands the Hotel Maya along the harbor in Long Beach. Complete with the unique and spectacular architectural style of the stepped pyramids, Hotel Maya welcomes guests into their "village" of modern structures assembled to create this luxurious seaside resort. Spacious, well-appointed rooms greet guests with all of the amenities one would long for in a resort stay. Organic yet sumptuous decor and beautiful, comfortable bedding, combined with a stunning terrace view set the mood for a well deserved respite from reality.

Tucked away throughout the resort are hidden cabanas, with intimate seating and built in romance. Along the dramatic poolside, as well as hidden in Fuego Restaurant within the hotel, private love nests await affectionate couples. Perfect for lovers and families alike, Hotel Maya offers fire pits, volleyball, tennis courts, bicycle rental and beach front activities. Just a stone's throw away from the historic Queen Mary, and just moments from Downtown Long Beach, Hotel Maya provides a quiet refuge for vacationers.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sporting an active bar as well, Fuego Restaurant lies perched within the second floor of the Main Building, divided between indoors and out, boasting a dramatic terrace for seaside dining. Opulence abounds in the alfresco dining room, with a staff serving up more than delicious dishes and refreshing drinks, but also a "getaway" atmosphere. The warm surroundings set the tone for the fine dining choices, creating a truly authentic Latin American feel.

Specializing in mariscos dishes, a combination of fish and shellfish, Fuego Restaurant also features a sumptuous array of appetizers and entrées, including steak, carnitas and pasta. The house specialty is the Seafood Crepas, crepes filled with crab meat and rock shrimp, covered lightly with a roasted Poblano sauce. Flavorful, yet delicate, the Crepas are the perfect representation of the mariscos style. The Bone In Rib Eye is a generous portion of excellent beef, rubbed with New Mexico Chili and grilled, served with a tasty Roasted Tomato Pasilla Sauce and fresh roasted vegetables. Thick, juicy and deliciously tender, this rib eye will please the hungriest of men as well as the most discriminating palette.

Whether a guest is in town on business at the Long Beach Convention Center, or vacationing for a lengthy stay on the harbor, Hotel Maya will meet every expectation with a smile. Evident in their graciousness and warmth, the staff at Hotel Maya genuinely want to please each and every guest, on every visit.

Hotel Maya
A Doubletree by Hilton
700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802


Visit their website

Friday, September 21, 2012

Temecula, CA: Bel Vino Winery Annual Harvest Clam Bake

Bel Vino Winery will host their annual Harvest Clam Bake on Saturday, October 13 in Temecula, CA. Like years past, the Harvest Clam Bake promises celebrating fine wines paired with traditional clambake seafoods, served outdoors with breathtaking views of Temecula Valley Wine Country. The event will be held at Bel Vino’s outdoor concert venue, which allows event-goers to capture some of the most incredible views Southern California has to offer.
The Harvest Clam Bake will gather people outside for an evening of fun, wine and music. Shoot 4 Tuezday will provide live entertainment covering favorite songs by Led Zeppelin, No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others spanning from the 1960s to today.
Staying true to tradition, the clam bake will feature a hearty menu including salad, Traditional New England Clam Chowder, Market Fresh Clams and Mussels, Raw and Baked Oysters, Grilled Chicken, spicy sides, delicious dessert choices and much more.
Bel Vino’s Harvest Clam Bake will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 13. Tickets for wine club member are $65, non-members $75. Prices include four glasses of wine or beer. Additional Live Main Lobsters are available for purchase for $25. Reservations are required and tickets are non-refundable.

Bel Vino Winery
33515 Rancho California Road
Temecula, CA 92591

951) 676-6414

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

San Diego to Paso Robles

Driving from San Diego to Paso Robles, the sights of California. . .
Orange County traffic on a sunny day.

Good Year Blimps drops in for a visit in the O.C.

Weather is Picture Perfect in Burbank

Along the coast, approaching the lovely village of Seaside, CA

The landscape begins to change the further we head up the coast

Where the 101 leaves the Santa Barbara coastline, north of Gaviota

Miles of vineyards, as far as the eye can see

Rustic barns and ranches pop up along the horizon

A 2012 Fiat Abarth, a rarity for these parts

The historic bells hanging from a shepherd's hook line El Camino Real

Paso Robles, CA: Paso Robles Inn

El Paso de Robles, or "Pass of the Oaks," was originally part of a 25,000-acre Spanish land grant that was purchased by James and Daniel Blackburn in 1857, and was a rest stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail.

Known for its mineral hot springs, Franciscan priests from neighboring Mission San Miguel constructed the first mineral baths in the area. Pioneer settlers to the area would later establish cattle ranches, orchards, dairy farms, and vineyards.

The first Paso Robles Hot Springs Hotel was built in 1864 right next to the natural artesian hot springs well. In 1891, the old hotel was replaced with a magnificent new all-brick hotel. Taking more than one million bricks and two years to build, the new hotel became known worldwide as a health resort.

Situated in the heart of Paso Robles, among the quaint boutiques and antique storefronts, gourmet restaurants, wine tasting rooms, olive tasting rooms, wine bars, and art galleries, lies The Paso Robles Inn. Now home to 98 guest rooms, Traditional Guest Rooms, Queen Garden Fireplace Rooms, Deluxe Spa Rooms and Jesse James Two-Room Suites, The Inn has been named as one of the Historic Hotels of America. The popular Paso Robles Steakhouse, outdoor heated pool and spa, the lovely garden setting, perfect for a leisurely stroll, and spa indulgences from The Spa Central Coast, are among the amenities that keep guests returning.

Upon check in, guests will find the Deluxe Spa rooms and Jesse James Two-Room Suites as honest, genuine to the countrified setting, spacious and serene, cast with a rustic fireplace, and graced with a spa-like bathroom. To each guests delight, positioned on the terrace, is offered the soothing thermal waters of the Paso Robles mineral springs in your own private spa tub. Draw the terrace drapes and sink into the healing waters, in complete seclusion.

The Paso Robles Inn continues to be a cornerstone in the hub of Paso Robles, the perfectly idyllic destination for the busiest and most celebrated time of year, the 2012 Harvest Wine Weekend, October 19 - 21. Harvest in Paso Robles Wine Country is a time filled with the scent of ripened fruit, scenic drives through rolling hills of red and gold, and the culmination of a year of hard work; the anticipation of a new vintage.

Indulge in a wide array of individual events at area wineries in the vineyards, on the crush pad, and in the tasting rooms, including vineyard tours, special tastings, and winemaker dinners. Take part in a blending seminar, or jump feet first into a two-ton grape stomp. Explore more than 120 winery events, as Paso Robles bustles with excitement to welcome the new vintage.

Paso Robles Inn
1103 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Murphys, CA: Murphys Historic Hotel

murphys historic hotel

When you arrive in the authentic town of Murphys, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, the locals will ask about where you are staying. If your response is "Murphys Historic Hotel," expect the response to be, "Haunted! That hotel is haunted! Did you see Eleanor?"

Legend has it that a former chambermaid Eleanor waited 30 years for her new husband to return from the gold mining hills with their fortune until she died broken hearted at Murphys Historic Hotel. Certainly not the only ghost to haunt these halls, Eleanor has become the most notable of the cast of spiritual characters in permanent residence. Guests enjoy exchanging their encounters with one another and hotel staff, comparing thrilling notes of spiritual intrigue.

The hotel was built in 1856 and has been in service, never missing a day, to hotel guests since opening day. A former Wells Fargo Stage coach stop, Murphys is a registered National Historic Landmark having hosted such notable historic figures as Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Susan B. Anthony, JP Morgan, John Wayne, Sunny Ficus, and Charles Bolton, a.k.a. Black Bart the “Gentleman Bandit. Rich with history, legend, folklore and nostalgia, Murphys Hotel is a "must visit" for travelers with a thirst for yesteryear.

Divided in two sections, historic and modern rooms, travelers have options for their stay. Historic rooms are nearly perfectly authentic. Original hardwood floors, complete with the squeaks, grace each space. Elegant french doors, still fitted with the iron shutters that once saved the hotel from a town-devastating fire, lead to the second story veranda on street facing rooms. Period furnishings lend to the essence of the late 1800's still rich in the air. Equipped with a sink and electricity, these rooms utilize shared bathrooms. The 4 "water closets" are located at the end of a short hall, shared with 9 rooms, as well as 4 showers, all located in small, individual rooms. Lovely and sweet modern rooms come complete with all of the conveniences, for those who prefer to keep the "history" in the quaint town. Impeccably clean, intriguingly authentic and thoroughly enjoyable, even the mildest adventurer will relish their own step back in time.

The town of Murphys is filled with adorable shops and beautiful wine tasting rooms. With 16 tasting rooms within a short walking distance, Murphys Hotel is located in the prime spot for the wine lover. Nestled amongst the tasting rooms, cupcake shops, clothing boutiques, Indian curiosities, consignment stores, and antique dealers line Main Street for a exciting shopping experience. Our favorite find, and quietly deceiving by it's name, Murphys Motorcycle Company, evokes a sense of goods for the hardcore biker. Yet, surprisingly elegant clothing for ladies hangs within; high end, designer brands, beautifully made and so soft to the touch, women who've never touched a bike will find something she can't live without here. While the girls oooo and ahhh, the guys will enjoy the selection of awesome T-shirts and riding paraphernalia as well.

murphys hotel restaurant
Murphys Historic Hotel serves an array of dining options, from hometown breakfast to elegant dinner dining. The Famous Fried Chicken is "Andy Griffith Mmmmm mmmmm" good! Made by one of the hotel owner's himself, the chicken is amazingly tender and moist, with a perfectly spiced crust that is crispy and flavorful. Homestyle, country mashed potatoes, tender fresh vegetables, and heavenly chicken gravy complete the serving. A House Specialty, diners will long for the Old South with every bite.

Graced with the professional, kind and sincere staff, Murphys Historic Hotel meets every need for visitors, often before a request is made. Mention you're traveling around the state, and the front desk clerk offers a new National Geographic map. Ask a question in the restaurant about your food and the chef comes tableside to answer. Above and beyond expected service, the only disappointment guests will have will be leaving. Some hotels make one's stay lovely. Murphys Historic Hotel makes one want to just stay.

Murphys Historic Hotel
457 Main Street
Murphys, CA 95247

(209) 728-3444
(800) 532-7684

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pacifica, CA: Pacific Coast Fog Fest

Born in 1986 and now in its 27th year, The Pacific Coast Fog Fest was created to promote the City of Pacifica & to celebrate its marvelous coastal climate & community. This 2-day event brings in over 100 arts; crafts booths, a parade, a Fog Jog, a photo contest, a family fun area, a marching band competition, 3 stages of live music, tons of food and drink to satisfy any taste and has been known to attract up to 40,000 festival goers each day. Fog Fest has free admission and is always held the last weekend of September, along 8 blocks of Palmetto Ave, one block away from the ocean where the sun, sand and surf await.

This year Pacific Coast Fog Fest is proud to announce actor/comedian, Rob Schneider, as Saturday morning parade's Grand Marshall. Also, the Pacifica will be celebrating a historical milestone; 30 years of Family Fun Fest, which promises extra surprises!
The Family Fun Fest was developed 3 years prior to the creation of the Fog Fest. The two merged together, creating a long lasting partnership. The Family Fun Fest has also laid down the foundation for which many festivals and events today have modeled their family fun zones after.

The Fog Fest is proud to give back to its community organizations that participate and also to the, "Gift to Pacifica Fund." Fog Fest also strives to lessen our environmental footprint by moving towards zero waste. This year they will provide bike valet securing. So, locals are encouraged to ride a bike in, with family & friends and, the staff will take care of the rest! What's not to like? Visit their website or follow the Fog Fest on Facebook for details.

The Pacific Coast Fog Fest
September 29 - 30, 2012
City of Pacifica, Along Palmetto Ave.
Between Shell Street and Montecito Street

Monday, August 13, 2012

Long Beach, CA: The California Women's Conference

For nearly thirty years, women in California have enjoyed a conference that provided a forum for building successful businesses, strengthening careers, and positively influencing the world around them. The California Women’s Conference is continuing the tradition of empowering women and providing resources in every aspect of their lives, and embracing philanthropy by donating a portion of proceeds to charitable partners.

This year’s conference is scheduled for September 23rd and 24th, 2012 at the Long Beach Convention Center, and the theme is “The Women’s Economy Starts Here!” It will feature a vast marketplace of ideas, exhibits, and internationally known speakers. Included in the star-studded lineup are Donna Karan, Gloria Allred, Marcia Cross, Janet Evans, and many more top name speakers. For more information on the speaker line-up, please visit the website.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to purchase tickets to a phenomenal conference at a great price! Visit The California Women's Conference and use the discount code: CAROAD to get 10% off your ticket.

The California Women's Conference
September 23-24, 2012
(949) 218-0866

Long Beach Convention Center
300 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 436-3636

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Orick, CA: Watch Deer Mating From Your Redwoods Cabin

deer redwoods cabins
Each autumn, California’s most public display of violent sex occurs at Redwoods National Park and  Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, near Orick, where testosterone-charged male Roosevelt Elk challenge each other for breeding rights to herds of female elk.

The often-bloody mating rituals are most easily seen near the Elk Meadow Cabins, six remodeled cabins within the elks’ mating area, that offer elk viewing packages in October. On lawns and meadows surrounding the cabins, from mid-September through October, male Roosevelt Elk are seen posturing and rising dramatically to lock antlers as they push one another back and forth to exhaustion in order to assert their dominance.

Roosevelt Elk (cervus elaphus candadensis) are the largest specie of elk in North America, averaging 875 pounds (398 kg) and standing 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at their shoulder. Their antlers are thick with vertical points and a distinctive crown or three-point tip. Some antler racks have been measured as big as six feet (1.8 m) and weighing 40 pounds (18 kg). A big rack is what impresses the females, as when it comes to bull elks, size matters.

While male Roosevelt Elk put on a terrifying display, their fury is focused entirely on each other. They are otherwise inquisitive but standoffish to people, which adds to their appeal to wildlife viewers. Rutting behaviors can be watched easily, without disturbing the elk, though viewers are cautioned not to approach the elk.

Elk herds consist of females and their offspring, in groups of 20-30 individuals. During rutting season the cows feed quietly, seemingly uninterested in the bulls until one wins out. He will then herd and mate with the cows while keeping other bulls from the harem.

The rut occurs randomly at any time of day or night, sometimes resulting in guests of the cabins being awaken in the middle of the night as two bulls fight one another. Otherwise, the elk spend much of their day seeking, eating, and digesting food with main feeding times at dawn and dusk.

At Elk Meadow, guests can choose from two October packages. On the “Elk Rut Package,” guests who stay any two nights at the normal rate of $219 per night (each cabin sleeps six), can stay for additional nights at half off, and up to four guests per cabin get a free, naturalist-guided elk tour provided by Redwood Adventure Tours, a local ecotour provider.

Guests who stay any three nights (Monday - Friday) in an Elk Meadow Cabin ($219) during October and who request the “Indian Salmon Package” when making their reservations, get up to four Indian-styled, barbecue salmon dinners with their cabin rental (served Wednesday evenings only). The dinners include fresh salmon barbecued on redwood stakes set around a fire made of local madrone and alder, in the traditional style of northwest California’s native Americans. The salmon is served with fresh salad, fruit, beverages (lemonade, water, coffee) and a cobbler usually prepared from local berries.

The “Elk Rut” and “Indian Salmon” packages can only be obtained in advance by calling (866) 733-9637. Guests must pick one or the other offer, as the packages cannot be combined. More information about the Elk Meadow Cabins is found online at

Redwoods Parks Lodge Company
7 Valley Green Camp Road
Orick, California 95555

(866) 733-9637

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Napa, CA: Napa Winery Inn

napa winery inn
The 59-room Napa Winery Inn, Napa Valley’s newest boutique hotel, opened its doors on July 1, 2012. The hotel offers guests an affordable Napa getaway and is centrally located just minutes from Napa’s best restaurants, wineries and attractions.

The Napa Winery Inn is affiliated with Choice Hotels as a Quality Inn. The hotel is centrally located within the heart of Napa Valley, just minutes from Downtown Napa, nearby Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga.

The Napa Valley is home to some of the world’s leading cuisine, wine and experiential attractions. The Napa Winery Inn provides comfortable boutique hotel lodging, and a friendly staff provides services to enable guests to enjoy their Napa Valley experience at an affordable price.

“The Napa Winery Inn offers guests the whole Napa wine country experience, as it is close to downtown as well as other popular Napa Valley destinations,” said Rick Swig, the hotel’s principal owner. “The Napa Winery Inn is service-focused to ensure guests a rewarding visit to Napa at affordable room rates.”

The Napa Winery Inn is the convenient location for travelers with business in Napa, while it is the perfect destination for a weekend away, weddings, business meetings for up to 35 persons and other special events. For travelers wanting to experience America’s premier wine, food, arts and wellness capital, the reasonably priced Napa Winery Inn provides a comfortable stay within their budget. Breakfast is included with every overnight stay.

The Napa Winery Inn was acquired on May 1, 2012. Previously, the hotel operated as John Muir Inn. After an investment of nearly $1 million in improvements, the new boutique hotel now features a refreshed interior design with new beds and linens, furnishings, upgraded meeting space, artwork, flat-screen TVs and high-speed wireless technology, plus new landscaping around the swimming pool and the building’s exterior.

To make a reservation for an upcoming stay at the newest boutique hotel in Napa, call 1-800-522-8999 or visit the hotel’s web site at

Napa Winery Inn
1998 Trower Ave.
Napa, CA 94558


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sausalito, CA: Sausalito Artists at Work

Sausalito Artists Work Labor Day 2012
Visit more than thirty artists at work in their beautiful, loft style studios; all under one roof. Purchase art from the local, talented, award winning artists. Why is this particular event different? You will have the opportunity to observe each artists unique approach to the creative process as it happens.

Sausalito Artists is a large group of talented, local artists. All of the studios are located in the historic Industrial Center Building. Nestled close to the San Francisco Bay, toward the North end of Sausalito, The Industrial Center building is steeped in the area’s ship building roots, and rekindled by the creative juices of a vibrant community of artists.

The 60th Annual Sausalito Art Festival is held September 1,2 & 3, 2012 over Labor Day weekend.

Sausalito Artists @ Work
Labor Day Weekend 2012
The ICB Art Studios
480 Gate Five Road, Sausalito
Saturday, Sunday & Monday
September 1, 2 & 3
11am to 6pm

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Santa Barbara to Monterey by Car

bixby creek bridge
Northern Santa Barbara County, and the California coast beyond, offer tourist attractions worth spending a few days enjoying. There are a number of natural wonders and great tourist stops to be seen driving north from Santa Barbara. This trip is suitable for both couples and families.

The Route

Take the San Marcos Pass road as you leave the city of Santa Barbara. This is a breathtaking mountain drive that heads up the side of La Cumbra Peak on Highway 154. Along the way to the highest part of the highway, there are many scenic turnouts for a panoramic view of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands National Park and the many miles of coastline.

Once over the pass, you'll drive by Cachuma Lake. This is a state recreation resource for camping and fishing.

Santa Ynez, for which this valley and region are named, is an old California mission town. Here you will find a number of fine art galleries and the county's fine wineries. Notable celebrity homes here include President Reagan's ranch and the Neverland retreat of entertainer Michael Jackson.

The quaint community of Solvang is just a few miles west of Santa Ynez on Hwy. 246, just west of Hwy. 101. It is a remarkable replication of an old Danish village, complete with a giant windmill. The town boasts some of the best Danish bakeries and buffet smorgasbords in the country. Spend a few hours here for lunch, and to visit the Scandinavian craft and souvenir shops. You'll forget, for just a while, that you're in the heart of Southern California horse and wine country.

The beautiful state beach parks just a few miles north of the city are yet another group of attractions. Leaving town, travel north along the coast on Highway 101. The road today retraces the historic El Camino Real, or King's Highway. Check out El Capitan, Refugio or Gaviota state beach parks. They offer fishing, camping, and picnic sites on remarkable beaches.

Santa Maria is the next town up the highway. Santa Maria Tri-Tip barbecue is a local tradition. It's not like anything you'll find in Texas or other barbecue meccas. This is rubbed and marinated barbecued sirloin roast. It's sliced thin, and is usually served rare. Typically it is eaten with corn tortillas or on a sandwich bun, and along with Santa Maria's slow-baked Poquito beans. It's well worth the stop to try.

Less than half an hour north of Santa Maria is the picturesque seaside town of Pismo Beach. Most of the motels and restaurants are on the ocean side of the highway, set on the cliffs overlooking a view of miles of coastline. Pismo Beach claims to be the world's clam capital, owing to the unusually large, tasty and abundant Pismo clam. Several versions of clam recipes are available in a number of the local restaurants.

The nearby Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is a 1,500 acre sand dune state park for ATV and 4-wheel vehicles. There are camping and RV facilities available. This is one of the few places in California where driving on the beach is permitted. Bringing folding beach chairs is a good idea.

Continuing north from Pismo Beach, you can drive up the tiny coast road to the town of Morro Bay. It's a town with a distinctive New England coastal flavor. This is where the Pacific Coast Highway becomes part of the National Scenic Byways Program. Enjoy the road stretch from Morro Bay on the south, along the Big Sur coastline, up to Monterey at the north. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking roads anywhere in the world.

Exploring the central California coast is a great and affordable journey. There's no need to forgo travel plans because of today's high cost of living.

If you have room for portable beach chairs in the trunk, you will be set. Using small suitcases for travel snacks and coloring books will help amuse kids during the journey.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Top 3 Easy to Moderate Hikes in Santa Barbara County

santa barbara hikesSanta Barbara County is a coastal town region in Central California. Blessed with great weather all year around and located between the Pacific Ocean and the mountain, it has many outdoor opportunities.

The Santa Ynez mountain provides numerous hiking trails that usually reward hikers with an expansive view of the town and the ocean.

All the hikes mentioned below should be do-able by anyone in decent fitness and should take anywhere from 2 hour to half a day.

1. Gaviota Peak - 6 miles round trip

The hike up Gaviota Peak albeit can be quite a workout, will provide hikers with a 360-degree view of Santa Ynez Mountain, the Channel Islands, and the Gaviota coast.

The trailhead is located at the Gaviota State Park, a 30 minute drive on Highway 101 north of the city of Santa Barbara.

The trail is a wide and unpaved road starting at the end of the parking lot. At 0.4 mile there's a fork to the right that will take you to Gaviota Hot Springs.

Continuing onto the main trail and pass some switchbacks you will reach a metal gate before a junction. Take the right fork that will take you to the peak and the spectacular view that awaits you.

2. Aniso Trail (from El Capitan State Beach to Refugio State Beach) - 5 miles round trip

The Aniso trail is a paved trail connecting the two state parks. It follows the shore, passes sandstone bluffs and secluded coves, and provides constant view of the coastline.

From the day use parking lot in El Capitan State Beach, head to the general store. The trail starts on the side of the store.

3. Ellwood Bluffs - 3.5 miles round trip

The Ellwood Bluffs Trail follows along 80-foot cliffs by the ocean. It's located in Santa Barbara Shores County Park is one of the most popular trails in the park.

The County Park can be accessed by taking Highway 101 North and exiting Glen Annie in Goleta. Drive on Hollister Avenue until you see the parking lot on the left.

The trail is well marked. Cross the creek and follow the trail as it veers left heading towards the bluffs. Follow the trail to the left along the cliff's edge. Soon you'll see a junction with a beach access trail that you can take to get to the beach below.

Farther on, the path will head inland and curve back to the starting point.

All of the hiking trails above are exposed. So bring necessary protection from the sun.

There more hiking trails in Santa Barbara to explore. Find out everything that Santa Barbara has to offer during your visit to Santa Barbara.

5 Best Small Cities in California

santa barbara state street
What kind of imagery comes to people's mind when they think of California? Hollywood with its red carpet and movie stars? Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? These cities are famous for a reason - they're filled with unique things that make California what it is: great weather, beaches, great food, and a diverse community of residents.

Having said that, California is more than just Los Angeles and San Francisco. Don't miss out on these smaller cities that are filled with charm with beautiful sceneries to boot.

Santa Barbara

This coastal town between Los Angeles and San Francisco is worth visiting for its proximity to the ocean and the mountain. It's a renown playground for the rich and famous. Oprah is rumored to own a house in Montecito, a neighborhood of Santa Barbara. Just a short detour away off Highway 1 Santa Barbara makes a perfect stop for those doing a trip along the coast of California.


Also located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cayucos is a small beach resort town of 3000 residents. The name comes from the Chumash Indian's word for "kayak" or "canoe". Cayucos is a perfect base to explore the central coast of California including sights such as Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, as well as other small coastal towns such as Cambria and San Luis Obispo.


Want to have a taste of Denmark while in California? Solvang is where you need to be. This town, 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, is filled with Danish characters - there are charming windmills, European style houses, and Danish restaurants. Visit the Solvang Shoe Store to get a pair of your own painted wooden clogs. The town is so small we recommend renting a bike to do your own exploring.


World known for its collection of wineries surrounding the area, the city of Napa is worth visiting. It makes for a perfect base to visit the natural hot spring in Calistoga. It's also a pleasant town to sit back and enjoy the nature while sipping on a glass of local wine. In order to see the wineries, there are many tours offered by local businesses. You can visit the wineries by jeeps, bicycles, motorcycles, and even limousines.


Mendocino is a city in Mendocino county and is a popular vacation getaway for the residents of Northern California. Known for its resident population of artists, the town has a large concentration of art galleries as well as trendy restaurants and shops. On top of the art scene, visitors can also go whale watching and do other beach related activities. The most scenic way to get to here is by following Highway One all the way from San Francisco.

California offers so much more than their famous big cities. If you have time to spare when visiting the state, venture out to these small coastal towns. You won't regret it. These smaller towns along the coast are worthy of visit for their laid back charms and natural beauty.

A local, a traveller, and a writer - Caro Hill's lives on the coast of California. She loves finding out new things to add to her list of what to do in Santa Barbara.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Palm Springs, CA: Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

tahquitz creek golf resort
Shortly after I arrived in the Coachella Valley for a little golf action, I started looking for a place that could to be fully challenge my improving golf game.

The Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs was recommended to me by a number of the local residents and I made it my first stop on my golf vacation to the California desert. After playing not one but two rounds of golf, it is now a mandatory stop on my desert golf vacations.

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort is one of the premier public golf courses in the desert. It provides world-class golf facilities along with being located right near the Palm Springs International Airport. I was quick to learn that both courses were highly intelligent and bring their own obstacles to bear.

The first of the two courses Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort offered was The Legend Course that is traditional course that is a Palm Springs favorite. This course is distinguished by the 40 new bunkers that have been added, the tree lined fairways that have been recently renovated, and severely sloped greens from back to front.

The smaller of the two, it plays to 6,600 yards and is a par-72 course that is better set for a little fun which I was entertained to along with the spectacular views that surrounded me. All skill levels will enjoy playing on this course. This breathtaking and stimulating golf course is just a few steps away from such amenities as a driving range, putting area, a short game area, a golf shop, and Traditions Cafe.

The big boy of the two courses and the newer of the two - The Resort Course - is a Ted Robinson design that debuted in 1995. Fitted with rolling terrain that I welcomed, well placed bunkers, exciting waterscapes, and tremendous mountain views of the San Jacinto Mountains with four sets of trees bring life to the course. This desert linked golf course is a well known Ted Robinson course here in the Palm Springs Area. It is over 6,700 yards that call for a 72 to make par.

Golf Digest rated Tahquitz Creek Golf Course as "One of the Best Places to Play." And I recommend taking advantage of the variety of packages they have for Golf or vacation.

If you are a golfer and enjoy not only the scenery of the desert, but a fair and challenging golf experience the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort is the place for you.

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort
1885 Golf Club Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264

Phone: 760-328-1005

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Rancho Mirage, CA: Sunnylands, the Walter Annenberg Estate

sunnylands walter annenberg rancho mirage
If you are looking to take in historic estates, wonderful gardens and other fine works that express another time period, Sunnylands is the place for you.

Located in the heart of Rancho Mirage among a variety of sights, Sunnylands is the former estate of Ambassador Walter Annenberg, founder and publisher of such magazines as TV Guide, Seventeen and the Philadephia Inquirer.

At Sunnylands you can not only get a taste of history, but in addition there are activities to engage in as well as feed the tummy and quench the thirst. Equipped with tour shuttles to take you all over the grounds of this oasis in the desert, Sunnylands is a smoke free environment.

Boarding one of the tour shuttles, I took a seat and embarked on one of their guided 90 minute tours. I was quick to observe the diverse historic homes and grounds that exist in the area and the flavor each represents. The historic homes and the stories of their former residents, transported me back in time and allowed me to get feel for the way it was when this property was in its heyday. If you are brand new to the area and you want to get some background, this is a mandatory stop loaded with information on who was here and how they lived.

Sunnylands has been called one of the outstanding mid-size art museums and I can certainly see why. Its grounds and layout lived up to their billing. Sunnylands has on display collections and exhibits from when people like former president Ronald Reagan met Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. There are also mementos from when past presidents discussed foreign policy. There are also personal items of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, including an exhibit of when they conceived such programs as a $50 million donation to the United Negro College Fund.

Surrounded by all this history, I couldn't help but think about the debates that took place in the rooms and floors that I walked.

Sunnylands makes it relative easy to experience its wonders as it is free to the public and has free parking. The guided tours, however, must be made in advance and they cost $35 to $45 per person depending on the time of the year.

If you are interested in taking a trip back to the past and see how the captains of industry, president's and dignitaries lived a trip to Sunnylands is a must for your next vacation to Palm Spring and the surrounding desert cities.

37977 Bob Hope Drive
Rancho Mirage, California 92270

For discounts and deals on hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Palm Springs, CA, visit

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Santa Rosa, CA: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

charles m schulz museumFor many years, the Peanuts comic strips of Charles M. Schulz never had a proper home in Sonoma County, the place where Schulz called hom for almost 40 years.

Until now.

Opened in 2002, the mission of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is to preserve, display, and interpret the art of Charles M. Schulz. The 27,000+ square-foot museum offers 6,000 square feet of gallery space showcasing original comic strips and memorabilia.

Visitors can enjoy outdoor gardens and exhibits including the Snoopy Labyrinth and the famous, "Kite-Eating Tree". There is a 100-seat theater displaying animated specials and documentaries, and a hands-on activities center.

As the 50th anniversary of Peanuts drew closer, it seemed clear that a museum was needed to celebrate the life and work Schulz. The vision for the Museum fell on the shoulders of local cartoon historian, Mark Cohen, along with Schulz's wife Jeannie, and Schulz's longtime friend and attorney, Edwin Anderson.

Schulz's enthusiasm for the Museum increased in 1997 after seeing the inspired and playful creations by artist and designer Yoshiteru Otani for the Snoopy Town shops in Japan. Sparky and Jeannie agreed that Otani could bring an element of artistic whimsy to the new Museum that would balance and complement the comic artwork.

This was all the encouragement the three friends needed to move ahead. A newly-formed Board of Directors developed the Schulz Museum's Mission Statement, chose an architect and contractor, and selected a location, with Schulz's approval of the plans at each stage.

The Museum could have been located anywhere due to the worldwide popularity of the Peanuts comic strip. But the particular location on the corner of Hardies Lane, was chosen because the last 30 years of Schulz's life was centered here—around his art studio, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena (Snoopy's Home Ice), and this Santa Rosa neighborhood.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located 50 minutes north of San Francisco by car on Highway 101. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403.

Weekdays Monday thru Friday (except Tuesdays*) 11am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays*
*Open everyday throughout the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Free – Museum Members, Children 3 and under
$5.00 – Children 4-18, college students with valid I.D. card, and Seniors 62+
$10.00 – Adults

For more information consult the Museum web site:

Oakhurst, CA: Children's Museum of the Sierra

childrens museum of the sierra
Located in Oakhurst, California, 24 miles south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park, is the latest "fascination station." The 4,000 square foot museum is packed with a variety of activities to occupy the hands and minds of young people of all ages.

Open year round, the Children's Museum Of The Sierra offers young people (ages 2-12) and their families hands-on exhibits and programs designed to encourage visitors to learn by doing, imagining, creating and making choices.

With a draw of 1,000 visitors monthly, the museum serves local residents and tourists that visit Yosemite National Park.

The museum operates under the auspices of the Educational Enhancement Foundation, a private nonprofit organization (classified as a 501(c) 3 by the IRS.

Funds are generated by private contributions and earned income from membership, admission fees, grants, gift shop sales and special events. The museum development and exhibit design is provided by devoted and generous volunteers who have a passion for our museum and enhancing the lives of children.

Founded in 1995 by a group of parents and individuals interested in bringing specialized programs to young people of the mountain community, the museum teaches scientific principles allowing children to learn about the world around them through dramatic play and artistic expression.

As children interact with exhibit components, there is an opportunity to learn elementary occupational behaviors through imaginative play. This play builds an awareness of potential career opportunities.

Children's Museum of the Sierra
49269 Golden Oak Drive, Suite 104
Oakhurst, CA 93644

Telephone: (559) 658-5656

Hours of operation:

Winter Hours: ( Mid-Sept through Mid-June.)
Tuesday through Saturday
10 a.m.- 4p.m.
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Summer Hours: ( Mid- June through Mid-Sept.)
Tuesday through Saturday
10 a.m.- 5 p.m.


$4: Per person. Children under 2 admitted FREE.
$3: Seniors 60+
$1: Pre-arranged educational groups of ten children or more.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dana Point, CA: Blue Lantern Inn

One block south of Pacific Coast Highway, situated on a scenic bluff overlooking the Dana Point harbor stands the Blue Lantern Inn. Like a seaside cottage this Bed and Breakfast is every bit inviting and peacefully serene.

Combining modern day amenities with the personalized feel of a boutique hotel, the Dana Point Four Sister’s location, the Blue Lantern, is the perfect place to hideaway for a relaxing weekend away. From the moment you step foot inside you are instantly overtaken by the smell of fresh baked cookies and the warmth of a friendly welcome.

Upon check-in the concierge will see to it that your spa treatments are scheduled, and any dining reservations are taken care of too. Offering a fully stocked library of games, books, and complimentary DVD rentals, staying at the Blue Lantern is kind of like a weekend at your favorite friend’s house. Your every need is met and exceeded when you stay at a Four Sister’s property.

Evening wine, cheese, and a generous buffet of appetizers is available in the cozy dining area and can be enjoyed in one of the many inviting corners of the main floor, including along side a roaring stone fireplace. In the evening a turndown service adds a nice homey touch to your already luxurious bed, complete with goodnight chocolates on your goose-down pillow.

Each room at this three-floor Inn is elegantly decorated in a beachside theme that begs you to take a trip down to the water and sit with your toes in the sand. Should you wish to pedal your way around town, the Blue Lantern offers complimentary beach cruiser bicycle rentals.

In the morning an awakening continental breakfast awaits in the dining room. Including homemade muffins, bagels, and pastries, hot entrees, fresh fruit, coffee, juice, and tea you’ll soon be on your way to enjoying the beautiful day.

Blue Lantern Inn
34343 Street of the Blue Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629
(800) 950-1236
Website: Blue Lantern Inn

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Indio, CA: Indio International Tamale Festival

indio tamale festival
If you like spicy food, passionate dancing, and friendly people consider taking in the annual Indio International Tamale Festival on your next trip to Palm Springs and the California desert resort communities.

This past season when I was visiting the Coachella Valley I took my young bride for an evening of food and salsa dancing at the most recent version of the Tamale Festival. This is a fantastic enjoyable event that is held in December each year. Not only does the festival kick off the holiday season, it also brings an entire community together which include the 'snowbirds who come down to the desert to escape the bitter cold.

Started in 1992, the Tamale Festival is a celebration of the rich history and the spicy legacy of the tamale. It combines a host of activities that are presented to go along with a variety of food options centered around the tamale. The popularity of the Indio International Tamale Festival continues to rise year after year and has gained national attention. Just recently the Food Network-TV broadcasted to over 70 million viewers a daily picture of the festival. It even went so far as to rank Indio's International Tamale Festival in the Top 10 of "All American Food Festivals" in the nation. Other recognition includes setting two Guinness World Records - one for the World's largest Tamale and the other for the World's largest tamale festival with 120,000 in attendance back in 2000.

We arrived by car and found the grounds easy to get to as both parking and shuttle service are free, which provides a great help and excellent access to the festival. The gathering took place in downtown Indio, between Highway 111 and Indio Blvd and filled up the streets of Miles, Towne, Smurr & Requa. The weather hovered around the mid to high 70's in the day and then dropped into the 40's when the evening arrived. The festivities always take place in the first weekend of December and begin at 10 a.m. in the morning until 6 p.m.on both Saturday and Sunday.

indio international tamale festival
Along with a number of delicious tamale dishes, the festival also provides shopping at a large selection of vendors who display the Mexican heritage along with the modern items. If shopping wasn't your thing, then the activities are sure to be enjoyed as I did. There are carnival rides and games that allow for prizes to be won. There is a kid's petting zoo that can even bring the child out of the adult with a diverse number of animals to come in contact with. I got my exercise on the Rock Climbing and Inflatable Bounces exhibits that are sure to bring a smile as well as a few gasps.

When it came time to settle in and enjoy the sights, then it was time to take in the parade as well as the all too popular Tamale Eating Contest along with the famous Tamale Judging contest. Festival fans also have the option to relax and watch the diverse entertainment the festival provides that includes traditional Mexican Folklorico Dancing as well as live music on four different stages; the Fiesta Stage, The Amigo Stage, The Mariachi Stage, and the Community Stage.

All - in - all the Tamale Festival is a great way to spend some time on your next trip to Palm Springs and the California desert resort cities.

Indio Tamale Festival
Every December

City of Indio - Special Events Office
Phone: (760) 391-4175

For discounts and deals on hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Palm Springs, CA, visit

Friday, June 8, 2012

San Diego, CA: East Village's Unique Restaurants

When one thinks of San Diego's downtown, it's hard not to mention the rows of restaurants and cafes that line the famous Gas Lamp District or the old world cuisine of Little Italy.

However, the East Village community has gone through a massive redevelopment and now offers a wide array of fine dining, breweries, wine bars, and coffee shops. One of San Diego's largest communities, East Village stretches from the Gas Lamp District to the west to the I-5 Freeway to the east. It's home to Petco Park where the San Diego Padres play and is a short walk to the Convention Center, the waterfront, and Balboa Park.

Knotty Barrel

knotty barrel san diego
Knotty Barrel, East Village, San Diego
Knotty Barrel, one of East Village’s newest gastropubs, features fine, locally-sourced dining and the area's largest selection of craft beer, with twenty-two taps and nearly sixty in bottles.  Partnering with local farmers and vendors that deliver the freshest ingredients possible, some signature ingredients their Consulting Chef, Ted Witte, especially enjoys working with include fresh heirloom tomatoes, Duroc bacon, all natural chicken, and CAB beef.  Just a few blocks away from Petco Park, Knotty Barrel offers an eclectic respite for baseball fans before or after the game.

Evening hours at Knotty Barrel heats up with week long activities including Live Prize Trivia, oyster shooters, table shuffleboard, and live music on the weekends.  Along with seasonal "beer school", and the liveliest parties running past midnight, Knotty Barrel is East Village's favorite hangout to unwind.

Our Favorites: Knotty Wings with Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce, Bison Burger with Stilton bleu cheese, red onions, on egg bun, Chipotle Glazed Meatloaf with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes.

Knotty Barrel
844 Market Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Village 631

village 631 san diego
Village 631, East Village, San Diego
Folks who need their morning coffee and pastries will find a breath of fresh roast at Village 631.  Considered by East Village locals as the favorite hangout for java and exotic tea against the much homogenized franchise coffee shops, Village 631 places emphasis on fresh and homemade.

Pastries and croissants are baked on the premises each morning.  Nothing is purchased frozen, but sourced fresh from seasonable, sustainable, organic local growers.  Breakfast sandwiches, scrambled eggs, and green smoothies are enjoyed in the morning.  For lunch, customers select from fresh salads, hot sandwiches, and assorted pies and cupcakes.  In the evenings, sit at the bar over their selection of craft beers and fine wines.

Our Favorites: Brioche Sandwich (morning): Spinach, arugula almond pesto, Tomato, Mozzarella, Farm Fresh eggs.  BLTA Sandwich (lunch), Apple Smoked Bacon, house made tomato jam, house made garlic aioli, avocado, crisp romaine.

Village 631
631 9th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-9405

Cafe Chloe

cafe chloe san diego
Cafe Chloe, East Village, San Diego
Fine French dining can be found on the corner of 9th & G in the heart of East Village.  Coveted by nearby residents and San Diego's foodie fans, Cafe Chloe was founded by three partners, Tami Ratliffe, John Clute and Alison McGrath, who wanted to bring a little French culture to East Village with a passion for food, beer and wine.

French bistro tables accommodate lunch-hour customers with cups of tea and plates of cheese.  In the evening hours, regulars drop by for a bottle of their favorite French wine varietals and authentic Parisian-style cuisine.  Cafe Chloe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Our Favorites: Smoked trout salad with apple, fingerlings, almonds, & apple vinaigrette, Lamb cassoulet-house merguez sausage, braised lamb, pork belly confit, white beans, & suzie’s squashes.

Cafe Chloe
721 Ninth Ave #1
San Diego CA 92101

Bub's at the Ballpark

bubs at the ballpark san diego
Bub's at the Ballpark, East Village, San Diego
With the San Diego Padres calling East Village its home, it's hard not to find a sports bar nearby, and Bub's at the Ballpark holds the crown for hosting the liveliest sports venue in town. Bub's is a place where locals and visitors alike enjoy one-of-a-kind entertainment and food. Follow several games at once across their vast array of plasmas and projectors, take shots on their in-house basketball court, and enjoy table shuffleboard.

Known for their baskets of tater tots, Bub's has a fun and catchy menu that takes timeless pub fare standards and turns them into eclectic gastropub dishes that rival any five-star restaurant in San Diego. Every Saturday & Sunday locals come to Bub's for their famous Bloody Mary bar, offering the largest choices of mixes, spices, sauces, and garnishes, for a breakfast of champions in true East Village form.

Our Favorites: Mac & Cheese Scramble, where macaroni & cheese meets eggs & potatoes, Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich with chipotle aioli sauce, Bub's Downtown Pasta with Madiera cream sauce.

Bub's @ The Ballpark
715 J Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Cowboy Star

Cowboy Star, East Village, San Diego
Cowboy Star is the first restaurant in San Diego’s East Village to serve up a unique dining experience by combining contemporary American cuisine with a western flare. Winner of the 2008 Orchid Award for Interior Design, the restaurant features exposed beam ceilings‚ cowboy accents‚ and classic landscape photography giving Cowboy Star a welcoming atmosphere where locals gravitate.

A stunning display kitchen is the focal point of Cowboy Star, offering an insiders view of the action. The bar at Cowboy Star offers a stylish and cozy environment complete with large leather booths, a fireplace and hand-crafted cocktails. Working with a palette of the finest ingredients available, Executive Chef Victor Jimenez creates menu masterpieces which embody the spirit of the American West and utilize the season's freshest offerings.

Cowboy Star's steaks are hand cut in house, and are sourced from independent, family owned ranches. They select only “Natural” programs, no antibiotics and no growth hormones are used. Cowboy Star is also recognized by Humane Farm Animal Care for our support and dedication to the Certified Humane Raised and Handled program.

Our Favorites: 14 oz. Ribeye Steak, remarkably tender and flavorful, is PRIME Natural from Meyer Ranch in Nebraska and aged for 21 days. Pork Duo, a duo of Salmon Creek Farm pork plated with a
cauliflower puree, baby broccoli, grilled mushroom polenta and meyer lemon gremolatta.

Cowboy Star
640 Tenth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880