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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Plate Shop, Sausalito, CA, Locally Grown Dining

the plate shop sausalito
Focusing on affordable food and using locally grown ingredients, Plate Shop is an organic restaurant in Sausalito that specializes in authentic California cuisine. Having opened their doors last year, Plate Shop features an ever-changing menu based on the freshest ingredients that are available on a given day, unique local wines, a fully-stocked bar and more.

Plate Shop is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and bar service. Each visit is unique, and diners will surely be surprised and delighted every time they visit Plate Shop.

As a testament to its passion for farm-to-table offerings, Plate Shop passed its one-year anniversary this past February. The first anniversary solidified Plate Shop’s status as a top organic restaurant, one which wants to keep people healthy and happy.

“All of our produce is organic, and the meat is from local small farms, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free,” Kent Liggett of Plate Shop said. “We have a backyard garden that does supplement the kitchen, as well as chickens for eggs.”

As part of a year-long celebration, the organic restaurant will be offering a happy hour on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with $2 off all specialty cocktails available at the bar. Plate Shop offers an amazing selection of red and white wines and different specialty cocktails, including Pacific Rims, Bayside Flings, Shipyard Mules and Cable Cars.

“This Sausalito organic restaurant has plenty to offer for everyone,” Liggett said. “Enjoy soup, salad, seafood, pork, beef, game and desserts when you visit our restaurant.”

Plate Shop Restaurant
39 Caledonia Street
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 887-9047


Tuesday thru Thursday & Sunday: Doors open at 5pm kitchen opens at 5:30pm and closes at 9:00pm. Friday and Saturday doors open at 5pm, kitchen opens at 5:30pm and kitchen closes at 10pm.
Happy hour from 5:30-7pm Sunday through Thursday

Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Celebration, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend in San Francisco will coincide with the 75th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge. Under the theme “Bridging Us All,” the weekend long festival harkens back to the spirit of the Golden Gate Fiesta when the Bridge opened on May 27, 1937.

Highlights of the 2012 celebration include an historic watercraft parade, multiple music and dance stages, art installations, history and educational presentations, display of cars from 1937 to the present, and Bridge-related activities on Crissy Field and the Marina Green. These activities will be complemented by Bridge-themed events and performances at waterfront venues including Fort Mason Center, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39, among others.

On Sunday evening, May 27th at approximately 9:30 pm, the weekend celebration will conclude with a spectacular 75th anniversary fireworks display and grand finale.

In addition to The Golden Gate Festival, the year-long 75th anniversary features:

  • 75 Tributes to the Bridge, a series of public programs being presented throughout the year by Bay Area museums, cultural centers, universities, arts organizations, children’s groups, and others.
  • Construction of a new 3,500-square-foot Bridge Pavilion to serve as a welcome and interpretive center and to provide a museum store featuring a wide range of commemorative and interpretive Bridge merchandise;
  • Renovation of the historic Round House into a program staging and visitor education center;
  • Upgrades to the Bridge Café, including a new menu with locally sourced and sustainable items;
  • A “green screen” photo area where visitors can picture themselves in dramatic and publically inaccessible Bridge locations, such as the top of the tower;
  • New personally guided Bridge tours, including the first-ever night tours, utilizing the latest in audio technology; and
  • Enhancements to the Bridge Plaza and the adjacent national parklands, trails and overlooks within Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).
A full schedule of events can be found at:

Elevation Travel is ready to help you book your stay in San Francisco for this unique event:

Elevation Travel
(877) 294-3918

Saturday, April 28, 2012

San Francisco's "Lands End" Unveils New Visitor Center

The National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, today unveiled the Lands End Lookout, the newest visitor center within the Golden Gate National Parks. Located along San Francisco’s rugged Pacific coast, the new 4,150-square-foot “green” visitor center sits directly above the former Sutro Baths at the northwest edge of the City, and features a museum store, café, and educational and interpretive exhibits highlighting the natural landscape and cultural history of this remarkable site.

Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, the new Lookout presents visitors with stunning 30-mile views of the California coast, and provides the opportunity to explore the natural and cultural history of this beloved park site. The new Lands End visitor experience includes:

Interactive Displays and Panels: Visitors will learn about the coast’s geology, the original inhabitants of Lands End, the Yelamu (Ohlone) tribe, Adolph Sutro’s role in developing this part of the City in the 1880s, and the archeological remnants of an early amusement park. Educational displays also reveal the many animals and plants that call the area home, and why native plants and habitat restoration are key to the endurance of wildlife.

Interpretative Items and the Lookout Café: Visitors can take a peek into the future thanks to a fortune-telling machine from the Musée Mécanique, an old fashioned “arcade” at the nearby Cliff House, and choose from a selection of unique interpretative items for purchase. The new Lookout café features a selection of fresh, locally-sourced grab-and-go fare, including the It’s It, which was originally developed by George Whitney for sale at Playland At the Beach.

Sustainability and Design: Designed with the surrounding natural landscape in mind, architectural components of the new Lookout include reclaimed Redwood siding, natural ventilation and lighting, low-flow fixtures, native-plant landscaping and photovoltaic systems, and windows that showcase the panoramic view of Sutro Baths and the California coastline. The structure also offers storage space for the ongoing volunteer-driven stewardship efforts that will help sustain the maintenance and preservation of Lands End as well as the nearby California Coastal Trail.

Long before Europeans arrived in North America, Lands End was a seasonal home to the Yelamu Ohlone tribe. In the late 1800s, Adolph Sutro, a San Francisco entrepreneur, supported the building of the Cliff House Railroad to bring the general public to his ocean-side amusements—the Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Gardens. In 1887, at Sutro's urging, Seal Rocks became a designated marine preserve—one of the nation's first. In its many reincarnations, the site has served as the Playland amusement park and a 1960s ice rink, but these early visitor amenities were destroyed by fire in 1966. In the 1980s, the land was purchased by the National Park Service and the recent improvements are the latest in a long line of innovative and sustainable projects made possible through their partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Work began on the visitor center in 2011, through a generous lead gift from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, with major support from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and additional funding from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. The Lands End improvement project also received lead support from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund for upgrades to the USS San Francisco Memorial overlook and parking area, a new wheel-chair accessible trailhead and overlook at Merrie Way, renovations and extension of the Coastal Trail, expanded bicycle and vehicle parking, and restoration of coastal views and natural habitat largely driven by Parks Conservancy and NPS volunteers. Additional funding came from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

San Francisco Marriott Union Square Wins "Hotel of the Year" Award

san Francisco marriott union square
San Francisico Marriott Union Square earlier this month won several awards at Marriott International’s Global Full Service General Managers Conference last month. The hotel was recognized as Hotel of the Year, which honors the best hotel in the Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand across the Americas, and won the inaugural BLT (Breakthrough Leadership Training) Excellence award, recognizing leadership and accountability, as well as financial excellence and operational excellence awards.

FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated, which owns the distinguished hotel located in downtown San Francisco, made the announcement.

“We could not be more pleased with the performance of the hotel since we completed its redevelopment. We are very proud of Oscar Rodriguez, the hotel’s General Manager, and his team, for this tremendous accomplishment. Their tireless efforts have made all the difference at this property”

The San Francisco Marriott Union Square is situated among San Francisco’s vibrant cultural offerings, legendary restaurants and world-class shopping. This distinctive upscale property is located at the corner of Sutter and Powell Streets in downtown San Francisco, within walking distance to the Financial District and Moscone Convention Center and directly on the historic Powell Street Cable Car line. The property opened in 2009 following an extensive redevelopment and rebranding.

“We could not be more pleased with the performance of the hotel since we completed its redevelopment. We are very proud of Oscar Rodriguez, the hotel’s General Manager, and his team, for this tremendous accomplishment. Their tireless efforts have made all the difference at this property,” said Troy A. Pentecost, FelCor’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

FelCor, a real estate investment trust, owns 76 primarily upper-upscale, full-service hotels that are located in major and resort markets throughout 22 states. FelCor partners with leading hotel companies to operate its diversified portfolio of hotels, which are flagged under globally recognized names such as, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites®, Fairmont®, Hilton®, Marriott®, Renaissance®, Sheraton®, Westin® and Holiday Inn®, and premier independent hotels in New York. Additional information can be found on the Company's Web site at

San Francisco Marriott Union Square
480 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-8900

Hotel Indigo Opens in the Heart of Del Mar, CA

Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG), upscale boutique brand, announced today the grand opening of the Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar. Following a multimillion-dollar renovation and rebranding, the 94-room hotel in downtown Del Mar offers guests sophisticated lodging with modern furnishings and a contemporary style, exuding the charm of the Del Mar community.

“Not only does the hotel’s new design incorporate community staples like the beach and the racetrack, but the friendly service makes guests feel welcomed in a neighborly setting.”

Located at 710 Camino Del Mar, the property boasts a full-service day-spa, two pools, hot tub, sauna and bistro-style restaurant with a full bar, among other amenities. Upgraded guest rooms feature a fresh look with new furniture, luxurious linens, warm colors, tiled bathrooms, granite countertops and spa showers. Guests will feel in harmony with the Del Mar surroundings as each room features indigenous murals depicting elements from the Del Mar Racetrack and local beaches. Additionally, two ocean-view terraces, created by local design firm Design Line Interiors, allow guests to enjoy the temperate Southern California weather, with fire pits available for cooler evenings.

“The Hotel Indigo brand is a perfect fit for this location,” said Mary Dogan, director, Brand Management, Hotel Indigo, the Americas, IHG. “Del Mar is community-driven with charming and sophisticated offerings for visitors and residents alike, and the Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar seamlessly complements the local surroundings.”

The Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar was the site of the original Stratford Inn, built in 1910. The upgraded décor reflects the Del Mar neighborhood—from the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, to the breathtakingly beautiful beaches. The Del Mar Plaza, a shopping center with more than 30 shops and boutiques, offers the best of the area’s apparel, collectibles, fine jewelry, artwork and home décor. Other nearby attractions include Legoland, SeaWorld, Birch Aquarium, San Diego Botanic Garden, San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. At the surrounding beaches, guests can enjoy recreational activities, including surfing, boating, swimming and jet skiing.

Room amenities include high-definition flat screen TVs, iHome stations and Aveda products. The hotel also offers 24-hour access to the business center, complimentary Wi-Fi in public spaces, high-speed Internet connections in each room and a fitness room.

Each Hotel Indigo property is uniquely designed to reflect the culture, character and history of the surrounding neighborhood. No two hotels are the same. Brand standards don’t dictate the number or size of rooms, making it ideally suited to conversion properties or independent boutique hotels.

“Aligning with Hotel Indigo was a natural fit,” said Susan Knapp, General Manager. “Not only does the hotel’s new design incorporate community staples like the beach and the racetrack, but the friendly service makes guests feel welcomed in a neighborly setting.”

Pacifica Host Hotels owns and manages the Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar, under a license agreement with a company in the InterContinental Hotels Group. For reservations, contact Hotel Indigo Del Mar at 858-755-1501 or 1-877-8-INDIGO.

Hotel Indigo properties participate in IHG's guest loyalty program, Priority Club® Rewards, the industry's first and largest guest loyalty program with 63 million members. Priority Club Rewards membership is free and guests can enroll by logging on at, by calling 1-888-211-9874 or by inquiring at the front desk of this hotel or any of IHG's more than 4,400 hotels worldwide.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Claremont, CA Culinary Scene Is a Foodie's Delight

Claremont's unique and wide selection of restaurants has long been "on the map" for many in Southern California and for the frequent international guests to the Claremont Colleges. With several hip, new restaurants and dozens of locally famous eateries keeping the food scene fresh, foodies and vacationers are discovering this Los Angeles-area hamlet as a delicious dining destination.

"A famous college town with international visitors demands a high level of fine dining experiences," said Andrew Behnke of Discover Claremont, the Claremont tourism board. "We know tourists come to Claremont for the shows, museums, trips into the mountains, festivals, regional events or when visiting the colleges. Now is a great time to come Discover Claremont for its dining as the city is emerging as a culinary center for eastern Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire."

With half of the city's 80 restaurants located within the walkable downtown area comprised of the Claremont Village, Village Square and Claremont Packing House, visitors can choose to enjoy the city's free parking and literally stroll to wherever their appetites lead them.

claremont, ca

Many of the city's notable eateries are within the famous Claremont Village, an idyllic collection of boutiques among peaceful tree-lined streets. In the village, epicureans encounter white linens inside wood-paneled restaurants, bustling outdoor cafes and gourmet bakeries. Popular Italian choices include Aruffo's Italian Cuisine, La Piccoletta, and the award-winning Tutti Mangia, with "best of the Inland Empire" Chef Jose Ruiz. Diners will find French cuisine at Harvard Square Cafe, tapas at Viva Madrid, Afghan dishes at Walter's, and new American at Union on Yale.

In both the nearby Village Square and Packing House, diners will find rare wines, microbrews and fine American whiskeys at restaurants that include The Back Abbey, Eureka Burger, and the Packing House Wine Merchants. The Hotel Casa 425 lounge and outdoor living room is known for its signature margarita and offers a small plates menu by its outdoor fire pits. Other favorites here include La Parolaccia and Casa Moreno.

Local choices that combine entertainment with fine food include Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue in the Packing House; belly dancing at Casablanca Bar and Grill, also in the Packing House; and The Press restaurant in the Village. Fine dining meets Broadway at Ben D. Bollinger's Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre just a few blocks north of the village; and the lively PianoPiano dueling piano show right next door at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont serves American bar fare to accompany their Las Vegas seasoned performers.

A weekend stay in Claremont means visitors can enjoy a leisurely Sunday morning stroll through the region's largest farmers and artisans market in downtown Claremont, and enjoy coffee and freshly baked pastries at places like Some Crust Bakery and Last Drop Cafe.

A complete listing of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, events and more can be found at

Land & Sea Farmers Market, Half Moon Bay, CA

100 year (and 4 Month) old Italian American Coastside Farmer Rina Pacini cut the ribbon at 10:00 A.M Sunday Morning, April 25, 2012, to officially launch The Land & Sea Farmers Market at Harbor Village in Half Moon Bay, CA. The event brought out 1000's of people from all over California throughout the day.

The Sunday event led to the highest levels of foot traffic ever experienced inside the mall development, marking a period of over 5 years since the one-time controversial small town commercial real estate project broke ground in early 2008. It led to record sales levels for the majority of the small business merchants who have sacrificed their entire livelihoods to surviving and finally seeing the day in which one of the most beautifully designed boutique malls in California would be flooded with consistent levels of foot traffic.

Katelyn Mullins, Owner of Aqua Beauty Lounge, said "Sundays at Harbor Village will never be the same".

The Year Round Land and Sea Farmers Market will feature an Outside Certified Farmers Market, Mobile Petting Zoo, Indoor Artisan Fair, Educational Activities, Music, Entertainment, Monthly Cooking Classes and Demonstrations, Exhibits, and other Seasonal themes.

While millions of people flock to pillar point harbor every year strongly driven by seafood tourism, the Indoor Mall portion of the Harbor Village development located across from the busy Marina still has remaining spaces that have never been leased out, despite current lease rates offered at $1.00 PSF for class-A retail waterfront space. For a Mall development project which was 110% leased out with an original pro-forma of $3.00+ PSF prior to the breakdown of global finance markets in 2008, the delays with the nearly 30-year $440 Million Dollar Highway Tunnel project (finally expected to open in the next year) have not helped much either.

However, the Land and Sea Farmers Market taking place every Sunday from now until infinity provided a foreshadow into the future of what California's most undiscovered Marinas may look like over the years to come.

In terms of long-term potential the Farmers Market and Harbor Village mixed-use development (Oceano Hotel and Spa, Crab Landing Restaurant, Mezza Luna Cafe, Harbor Village Event Center and The Shops at Harbor Village) combination was described by many seasoned vendors selling at the event Sunday as having the potential to offer a truly unique and boutique version of the Ferry Building farmers markets experience that is offered in San Francisco.

However, with Harbor Village offering Free Parking and being walking distance to the world famous Mavericks Surf Spot, Coastal trail, Top Rated Dining and Fresh Seafood, and other close by Eco-Tourism options, the Land and Sea Farmers Market at Harbor Village is destined to rival the Ferry Building Farmers Market on many other levels. Harbor Village Property Manager Dave Seaton Said "I have been to over 50+ farmers markets over the past 6 months in California analyzing the success factors of each market. If the Ferry building is defined as Northern California's most successful farmers market, then Harbor Village is Northern California's 2nd best farmer's market location sites".

As U.S consumers continue to be defined by eco-conscious and hyper-local buying trends the Pop-Up Shop Style Events taking place every Sunday at Harbor Village provide Bay Area consumers access to local Farmers, Artisans and other Bay Area Entrepreneurs whom would otherwise be difficult to access or unreachable all together.

The Land and Sea Farmers Market at Harbor Village is put on by the Non-Profit Harbor Village Merchant Association (HVMA), a group made up of the small businesses inside the Harbor Village Mall and around the Harbor Village development. Based on the turnout of people showing up to the inaugural event the group proved the power of what can be accomplished with limited financial resources.

Other than the administrative costs required to organize the farmers market, a small marketing budget used at Vistaprint.Com and the costs for their logo which was completed with the help of hundreds of designers around the world at, the group had very few financial resources to launch the inaugural event. They used Facebook and other social media platforms, along with Hand Made Signs and 100's of Free postings in a variety of different sections seeking to obtain vendors and market the event to the public.

Mike Seaton, President of the Harbor Village Merchant Association and owner of HMB Taffy, said "We conceived it, we believed in it, and on Sunday we were able to achieve a huge goal".

The Land & Sea Farmers Market
270 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Hours: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Hilton Garden Inn Rolls Out the Red Carpet for New Property in Los Angeles

Hilton Garden Inn today announced the grand opening of the newest addition to the brand's portfolio, the Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood. The 160-room property, which officially opened for business on March 6, 2012, replaced the historic Hollywood Heights Hotel and is conveniently located just minutes away from some of the city's top attractions.

The addition represents the brand's growing portfolio of more than 540 hotels worldwide.

The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood is owned by RLJ III – HGN Hollywood Lessee, L.P. and is managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts. "We're thrilled to have the Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood join our portfolio," said Ted Knighton, Interstate's chief operating officer. "Between the history of the property, the location and all of the amenities that the hotel has to offer, we are looking forward to achieving great success with the property."

"The repositioning of the historic Hollywood Heights Hotel to a Hilton Garden Inn is such a great addition to our brand portfolio," said Adrian Kurre, Global Head, Hilton Garden Inn. "HGI's Pavilion lobby, combined with comfortable guestrooms and convenient guest services, make the hotel an ideal choice for travelers visiting the Los Angeles area. The property provides the amenities to ensure guests sleep deep, stay fit, eat well, work smart and treat themselves while on the road. Whether traveling for business or leisure, we can ensure guests have everything they need to be successful."

The hotel features the Hilton Garden Inn Serta Perfect Sleeper as well as both wired and WiFi Internet access in guestrooms and public spaces. The hotel also features an ergonomic Mirra desk chair by Herman Miller; a spacious and clutter-free work desk; and two speaker telephones equipped with data ports and voice mail. Guests will also benefit from the complimentary 24-hour business center, featuring Print Spots remote printing which allows wireless printing from any laptop or PDA.

Guests can start off their day with a full-cooked-to-order breakfast featuring omelets, fruit, breads and the brand's signature waffle in the Great American Grill® restaurant. The restaurant also serves cocktails and dinner, as well as evening room service. The Pavilion Pantry is open 24 hours and features a complete selection of salty snacks, sweet treats, cold beverages as well as freshly prepared, frozen and microwaveable packaged items.

Other hotel amenities include: a glass-enclosed Pavilion lobby featuring a comfortable lounge area with a television and fireplace; an easy-to-set alarm clock that allows guests to play their portable CD or MP3 player; 32" LCD HDTVs in every room; an in-room "hospitality center" with a mini fridge, microwave oven and coffee maker; a sitting area with an easy chair and ottoman; a hairdryer; and an iron and ironing board. The hotel's recreational facilities consist of a fitness center with state-of-the-art cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as a swimming pool and whirlpool. The hotel also features one meeting room offering 546 square feet of flexible space and an on-site guest laundry facility.

In addition, the brand is proud to announce the Hilton Garden Inn Promise. This confirmation to guests ensures that Hilton Garden Inn will do everything possible to make sure that they are satisfied with their stay, or they don't have to pay.

Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles participates in Hilton HHonors, the only hotel rewards program that offers Points & Miles® and No Blackout Dates.

The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles is located at 2005 N. Highland Avenue in Los Angeles and is currently accepting reservations.

Enter the "California Milestone Moments" Photo Contest

The first 'wow' moment when you saw the Half Dome. The first photo you snapped out the window as you crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. Your first hug with a giant Sequoia, or your dog catching his first Frisbee on a California beach.

These are the kinds of "California Milestone Moments" that people can share -- and win prizes for -- during a new photo contest launching today by Visit California, the state's official tourism agency.

The easy-to-enter contest aims to collect images of those incredible first-time experiences that could only happen in California. To enter, participants should go to Visit California's Facebook page ( Next, they can upload a photo and brief description capturing a personal "California Milestone Moment." Once the image is uploaded, Visit California's Facebook fans can "like" their favorite photos and stories.

At the end of the three-week contest, the ten entries with the most likes will win special prizes – including a branded eco-friendly water bottle and an iPhone 4/4s case – from Visit California. "California Milestones" runs April 26 – May 16, 2012.

Visit California (formerly known as the California Travel & Tourism Commission) is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state's travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, travel and tourism expenditures total $102.3 billion annually in California (19.1 percent of which is international), support jobs for 893,000 Californians and generate $6.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor's Guide, go to

Nojoqui Falls County Park

nojoqui falls
Nestled just a few miles south of Solvang, CA is a hidden gem for travelers who love a short hike in the morning to get the blood pumping before breakfast.

Nojoqui Falls County Park is home to a spectacular water fall reminiscent of those found in the tropical forests of Hawaii. Dropping nearly 100ft over a rock cliff, the water spray provides a cool, misty shower that perks up hikers under a canopy of trees and canyon walls.

From the trailhead, the hike is a short 1/4 mile to the falls, with an easy elevation gain. The trail follows the creek and at one point crosses over via footbridge.

Dogs are welcome, provided that you keep them leashed and pick up after them.

nojoqui falls trail
Moss and maidenhair fern covers the waterfall, creating a scene that reminds you of paintings of water nymphs, elves, and other creatures from the middle ages. If you're quiet enough, you might even hear the pan flute of a centaur.

Parking is free, but camping will cost you.

Hours: 8:00 AM to Sunset
Camping Reservations: (805) 934-6211

Disney's Grand California Resort & Spa

disney grand california resortThe adventure begins in the lobby, and one can instantly understand why AAA granted this hotel with the Four Diamond Award. With warm, earthy tones and accents of stone and wood, the American Craftsman design of Disney’s Grand California Resort & Spa is instantly appealing. Giant overstuffed chairs are abundant throughout, and ample seating surrounds the vast stone hearth - especially inviting during the nightly storyteller hour.

And storyteller hour is just the beginning. The resort has many special experiences (both free and fee-based) to please the whole family: outdoor Pilates (seasonal), an early morning power walk, hotel scavenger hunt, and special Build-A-Bear sessions are just a few of the unique activities available. Architectural design and/or California history buffs will want to make time to enjoy the free ‘Art of the Craft’ Tour.

Tip: Visit the Guest Services desk upon check-in. They can give you a schedule of all the special activities happening on-site during your stay.

disney grand california resortMore traditional luxuries are also abound: adults can relax and rejuvenate at Mandara Spa.  A waterslide, multiple pools and private cabana rentals can help everyone work on an awesome Southern California tan. Need a break from the kids? Children ages 5 - 12 can be entertained at Pinocchio’s Workshop, the on-site daycare center licensed and maintained by the State of California.  With all that free time, you can enjoy an elegant meal at the Napa Rose restaurant and lounge.

Tip: The Napa Rose at Grand Californian currently ranks #8 of all 272 restaurants in Anaheim, according to TripAdvisor.

Perhaps the best perk is a special entrance into the Disney California Adventure theme park. Beat the lines and escape the crowds as you enter just beyond Grizzly Rapids. Have a resort-issued FastPass? You can use it to get special seating at the World of Color light show!

Tip: Make a night of it! World of Color offers an array of dining packages, and even have a special viewing patio for guests to watch and dine.

disney grand california resortAfter all that fun, guests will find standard rooms that are comfortably-sized for a maximum of 5 people. Kids and parents will love that every room has a DVD player, and a collection of movies available for checkout at the front desk. For guests who prefer a little more space - or a lot more luxury - Artisan Suites and Club-Level (concierge) rooms are available. Concierge guests have access to the Craftsman’s Club Lounge, where they enjoy amenities such as daily continental breakfast, hosted wine/cheese/dessert receptions nightly, and a special viewing area for the fireworks show (on select nights).

Tip: All guests have the option of adding Club Level service to their reservation.

From stunning architectural design to intricate artistic details, unique activities for guests young and old, and (of course) hidden Mickeys, Disney’s Grand California Resort and Spa makes sure that everyone experiences a bit of the Disney magic. To book your next vacation or for more information, contact your local travel agent or visit the Disneyland website.

Disney's Grand California Resort & Spa
1600 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

Everyone experiences a bit of Disney magic!

Disney's Paradise Pier

Screening Room
Though Disney considers the Paradise Pier its value property, someone failed to alert the designers. Campy, beach-themed accents are around every turn, represented in creative ways that are definitively Disney. Though there are many accents that adults will find appealing, this hotel was created with the kids in mind. An arcade resides in between the parking lot and the registration desk. A kid-sized screening room plays Disney movies and TV shows. And Surf's Up! Breakfast at the PCH Grille is the only character experience in all the park where guests are guaranteed to see Mickey.

TIP: Make sure to bring an autograph book (available for purchase in any of the resort/park gift shops); Mickey and the gang will gladly sign them for you!

Guess who's coming to breakfast?
Adults can enjoy full bar service in a relaxed atmosphere at the Surfside Lounge, while the whole family can spend quality time at the hotel's rooftop pool with roller-coaster-themed waterslide.

Tip: Guests can view the fireworks show from the pool deck (check with Guest Services for time/availability).

Standard Room with 2 Queen Beds and Daybed Sofa
Disney's functional-whimsy carries into the guestrooms, too. Standard rooms range from 420 - 425 sqft, and can comfortably sleep up to 5 people. Pack-and-Play playards are also included in each room. For larger parties, or families wanting more space, there are Family and Signature Suites that can sleep up to 12 people. Want upgraded amenities and service? Club-level rooms are available. In addition to a spectacular view of either the Disney California Adventure theme park or the pool area, included is access to the Club Lounge for daily continental breakfast, hosted wine/cheese and dessert receptions nightly, snacks and beverages available all day, and family movies.

Tip: For an additional fee, guests in any room category can add Club-level service onto their reservation.

Nice view from Standard Room
Double Tip: Some standard rooms have a view of the new Cars Land. Young racers will love catching a peek of Radiator Springs!

Close-up of Cars Land, Opening June 15, 2012
Guests of all ages will enjoy staying at a Disney hotel while visiting the theme parks. By choosing the Paradise Pier Hotel, savvy guests can save money without sacrificing comfort or style. A value property, indeed.

To book your next stay or for more information, contact your local travel agent or visit the Disneyland website.

Disney Paradise Pier Hotel
1717 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

Savvy guests can save money without sacrificing comfort or style!

Disneyland Hotel

disneyland hotel
Happy hosts greet you at the entrance
From the very moment the valet opens the door, you know that this is going to be something special. Bronze statues of Mickey and Minnie greet you at the entrance. Giant teacups outfitted with plush cushions beckon you to take a load off while you wait for your turn to check in. And the front desk staff welcomes you with a warm smile and quick processing of documents. Let the Disney vacation begin!

Situated at the apex of the Disneyland Resort (which encompasses 2 theme parks, 3 hotels - one with timeshare villas, and a shopping district), the newly remodeled Disneyland Hotel offers convenient pedestrian access to all that the resort has to offer.  We were extremely pleased with its close proximity to the monorail entrance into the Disneyland theme park - especially my toddler, who enjoyed the monorail trip as much as any ride in the park.

disneyland hotel
Plush pillows with a touch of whimsy
Disney is known for infusing elegant design with whimsical flair, and the newly remodeled Disneyland Hotel does not disappoint. Rooms are spacious: a standard room sleeps up to 5 guests comfortably, courtesy of 2 queen beds and a sofa sleeper. At 425 - 450 sq ft, it is the largest standard room of all 3 hotels at the resort. Beds are plush and cozy, with more than enough pillows to satisfy the whole gang.  For the youngest visitors, a Pack-and-play is included in each room (but bring your own bedding). Night owls will love the pen-sized nightlights attached to each bedside (especially helpful while writing this post!), while guests young and old will enjoy being lulled to sleep by the fantastic headboard. And in true Disney style, hidden Mickeys are abound!

Tip: For family fun, see how many hidden Mickeys you can find throughout the hotel!

For even more upscale luxury, the hotel offers a Concierge floor with lounge access. Lounge perks include continental breakfast, a hosted wine, cheese & dessert reception nightly and fruit/juice/bottled water available all day. And while you're doing all that snacking, the Concierge lounge provides a fantastic view of Downtown Disney, and is a great place to watch the fireworks show.

Tip: You can add lounge access to any room; just inquire with your travel agent at time of booking, or upgrade upon arrival.

The hotel boasts many dining options, including fine dining at Steakhouse 55 and character dining at Goofy’s Kitchen. See full list here.

disneyland hotel
The HippopotoMai-Tai is not to be missed!
For outdoor dining and cocktails with a Hawaiian flair, head over to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Conveniently located just steps from the pool and the Frontier Tower, this interactive lounge offers tasty casual food, nice music and outdoor heaters for those chilly SoCal evenings. Live music nightly on the patio, and though closing time is 2am, kids are welcome at Trader Sam’s until 8pm.

Tip: The HippopotoMai-Tai is not to be missed! (Don’t balk at the $15 price tag; I promise it is worth every penny!)

What is a Southern California vacation without enjoying the great weather?  The hotel offers 3 pools, 2 waterslides and 2 hot tubs at which to lounge in sun-worship or water play. Cabana rentals are available, as is food/drink service during specific hours.

Tip: Left your floaties at home? Don't worry. With life jackets available poolside, Disney has you covered!

disneyland hotel
Monorail Pool/View from Frontier Tower Room
With comfort, style and special accents to please visitors of all ages, the happiest place on earth just got a little bit happier. Contact your local travel agent for current promotions or visit the Disneyland website.

Disneyland Hotel
1150 Magic Way
Anaheim, CA 92802

The happiest place on Earth just got a little bit happier.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla

la jollaLa Jolla, California is a peaceful beach city nestled off the Pacific Coast near San Diego. Known for it’s laid-back lifestyle and high-end boutiques, this little town is the ideal retreat to rest and relaxation.

Upon outward appearance The Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla is exactly everything you would imagine a beachside B & B to be. Deemed a beach boutique hotel this little fifteen room Inn offers thoughtful amenities and old fashioned charm that has ceased to exist most place else.

As you enter through their vintage front door the friendliest face will greet you with a warm hello before promptly showing you to your corner of their romantic hideaway. Each room is decorated in a distinctively commemorative fashion that feels cozy and unique.

Nestled among lush trees in a garden like setting, both the views from your room, and the actual outdoors are beautiful to take in while enjoying your stay.

la jollaThe late afternoon offers an impressive complimentary spread of wine and fine cheeses to send you on your way to dinner down town. If you so wish, your hosts will recommend a dining destination within walking distance to suit your particular taste buds.

After returning from a night out enjoying La Jolla, your comfortable room awaits to lull you into a peaceful sleep. Armed with plush robes and all the necessary amenities, each room is fully ready to make your stay as comfortable as is possible.

A hidden place to stay that exudes charm and appeal.

In the morning, before you embark on your day, settle in for a three course breakfast served on fine china in the original formal dining room. Each plate is cooked with love and care and set before you to enjoy at your leisure.

What most modern chains lack in every arena, The Bed and Breakfast Inn offers ten fold. Should you find yourself looking for a hidden place to stay in La Jolla that exudes charm and appeal then you shall look no further than one block off the water at this little Inn.

la jolla

The Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla
7753 Draper Avenue
San Diego, California 92037

Local: (858) 456-2066
Toll Free: (888) 988-8481
Website: Inn La Jolla

Cody's of La Jolla

After a morning in La Jolla amongst bustling beach goers and impatient tourists, the afternoon begs for a quiet lunch on a sunny patio. Of which Cody's is more than happy to deliver both.

Tucked several blocks away from the busy beach, but still within view of the crashing waves, Cody's is the perfect place to relax in peace and enjoy a delicious meal.

cody's la jolla
Their ambiance combines modern rustic decor with welcoming pop-bright accents. Potted succulents sit upon reclaimed wood tabletops while paisley pillows nestled in bright green patio chairs tempt weary travelers to sit and rest for a while.

The menu offers fresh seafood favorites in classic preparations, or a delightful brunch, should you arrive in time.

Cody's fish and chips is a restaurant favorite at the genuine recommendation of anyone who has tried it. Lightly battered Pacific Cod is served atop a slightly salty handful of fresh cut french fries, topped with the world's best onion rings, and finished with a side duo of homemade sauces for dipping.

cody's la jolla
Their Grilled Crab Cakes, served with a tomato basil tartar, receives similar 5-star reviews of "yummy" and "amazing."

5-star reviews of yummy and amazing!

While Cody's is only open for breakfast and lunch this sunny spot is well worth squeezing into any (and every) trip to or through La Jolla, California.

Cody's la jolla

Cody's La Jolla
8030 Girard Avenue
San Diego, CA 92307

Website: Cody's La Jolla