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.

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

San Diego, CA: Get a Room! (at The Uber Sexy 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. 

The Keating is the first born hotel of Pininfarina, the Italian design firm best known for their works of automotive art: the Ferrari and the Maserati. They have successfully transformed one of the oldest buildings in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp district into a hip 35-room boutique lifestyle hotel. Today sexiness oozes out of every black and vintage brick wall, the red carpeted and polished cement floors, and each sleek steel counter. 

The attention to detail at The Keating is seductive. If you listen closely, you might find yourself standing in a particular area with some intriguing acoustics. If you look carefully, you may catch a glimpse of a rearview mirror or a gear shift in places where you would not expect them. When you enter your room, the seduction is complete. With no interior walls (except around the toilet) and vaulted ceilings, you can see everything...

...a Lavazza espresso machine (with herbal tea for those who aren’t looking to buzz)
...Italian linens (by Frette) and goose down pillows
...stylish Dornbracht bathroom fixtures
...a remote controlled Bang & Olufsen entertainment system (that also works the lights)
...a handheld shower head (for the woman who just desires a rinse)
...even luxurious towelettes in la toilette (wow)

Although there is much to see and taste throughout the Gaslamp district, it’s entirely possible to satiate all your senses without ever straying outside of The Keating compound.

Inside the hotel is a mini fitness room, a business center and conference room, and a plush meeting lounge. There's even a resident pet...Smudge, the Boston terrier. (Yes, The Keating is pet-friendly.)

The menu at the main restaurant, the MerK Bistro, was recently restyled by Executive Chef Brian Rutherford and TV Chef Gordon Ramsay from Italian fare to American “farm to table” creations. Whether its breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll be a bit stumped as to which fresh seasonal dish to choose. As I sipped on a Keating Cosmo at dinner, I believe I may have moaned. I’m certain I did when the roasted beet and burrata salad, fried calamari, and carpaccio with mustard créme hit my tongue. So I was only a tad disappointed that I had just missed Club di Vino, which meets on first Thursday of the month to bestow multiple tastings from a featured boutique winery, food pairings, and a casual enology lesson upon guests. 

After listening to live jazz at Croce’s, descend underground to the swanky and passionately red Sway Lounge where you can store your wine in a private liquor locker next to the former bank vault and toast until 4 a.m.

On the weekend, be sure and sneak out before 3 a.m. to grab a slice of gourmet pizza at the New York City-style Krust Pizzeria. Might I suggest the delectable "Loaded Baker" followed by a chocolate chip cookie that rivals your mom’s? It's now time to return immediately to your room and mess up that bed! 

Oh, yes...I am speaking from absolutely exquisite experience when I urge you to grab your “other” and race to get a room at The Keating Hotel. Pronto!

The Keating Hotel
432 F Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Palm Desert, CA: McCallum Theatre

mccallum theatre
If you are looking for a little culture on your next trip to Palm Springs and the California desert resort cities, let me recommend a visit to the McCallum Theatre.

We've been visiting Palm Springs and its desert environment for many years. In fact, I believe the first time was in the mid-eighties when we bought our first vacation home here. Having said that, it wasn't until this year that we made a spectacular discovery when we attended the McCallum Theatre for the first time. It was only then that we realized what a world class theater it was and I began to look in to its programs and history.

Beginning in the early '70's a group of business men, cultural and education leaders began to discuss and plan for a world class venue the Coachella Valley. Their hope was to bring as much culture to the Desert as possible and in 1973 they formed a group known as the Friends of the Cultural Center.

At the time many celebrities from all kinds of performing genres had begun to move here and to have second homes in and around the greater Palm Springs area. Not the least of which was Fred Waring, known as the "Man who taught America to sing" and featured on The Fred Waring Show.

mccallum theatre
Finally, by 1988 the group, then known as "Friends of the Cultural Center" was ready to open what is now known as the McCallum Theatre. However, it wasn't a slam dunk. Fund raising began and became quite serious. Fred Waring performed for 13 sold-out performances on behalf of the project and started the wagon rolling. Contributions began to pour in.

Former President Gerald Ford joined the Board of Directors and convinced his close friend, Bob Hope, then also a resident of the desert, to help the project along and contribute money. The first million dollars came from a local property developer and once the Hopes and Fords were involved a second Million dollars rolled in. That same year the McCallum Foundation was formed and ground-breaking began in 1985.

In 1988 a group of near 100 local women formed a theater group called "The Muses". This included Dolores Hope, Betty Ford and Leonore Annenberg. This group has since grown to 325. The group, now known as "The Muses and Patroness Circle" devotes their time to the advancement of education and the arts.

The McCallum Theatre and its world class performances are a perfect evening and we intend to visit it each season that we visit Palm Springs and the California desert resort cities.

McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts
73000 Fred Waring Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Box Office
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
Phone: (760) 340-ARTS (2787)
Toll-Free: (866) 889-ARTS (2787)
Fax: (760) 779-9445

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

Los Angeles, CA: Melting Pot Food Tours

melting pot food tour
Melting Pot Food Tours launched in July 2008 at The Original LA Farmers Market in mid-city Los Angeles, along adjacent 3rd Street, offers tour guests samplings of Japan, India, Mexico, France, Brazil, and savory and sweet American fare.

Four year later, it's still hosting, and generously feeding, thousands of Los Angeles locals and visitors from all around the globe, on their highly-acclaimed walking culinary tours. Now with three tours, The Original Farmers Market and 3rd Street, Old Pasadena, and East LA Latin Flavors, guests are treated to stories of local color, introductions to merchants, and enjoy exotic tastings of world cuisine.

"Starting a LA-based food tour company just as the economy tanked in 2008 wasn't precisely our plan,” muses Lisa Scalia, who changed careers mid-life to start the business with her sister. “But we knew we had a winning concept, and our continuing success in a down economy has certainly proven our instincts to be right."

“We love that we were the first to do this in LA,” adds Diane Scalia, who is also a restaurant chef.

The sister team is supported by a vibrant group of friendly and enthusiastic tour leaders, all of whom share their passion for LA’s diverse neighborhoods, and the special international cuisine that helps define the City of Angels.

“Los Angeles is incredibly blessed that immigrants came here and brought their foods with them. They’re sharing a very important part of who they are,” gushes Diane, who considers herself a gourmet storyteller. “We’re so lucky to have amazing international cuisine around every corner. Foodies visiting LA really deserve to experience these special cafes and restaurants, some of which are hidden gems.”

melting pot foodie tour
Harriot Manley of Sunset Publishing/Time Incorporated heralded this tour as, “A great way to take a big bite of the Original Farmer's Market—especially for a first-timer like me. Lisa Scalia gave us intimate insights and a chance to enjoy it all in an efficient and enjoyable way.”

Jessica Gelt of the Los Angeles Times stated that this tour is, “Not just for tourists, but for Angelenos looking to learn more about the splendid flavors of the city they love.”
With straightforward applause, Simon Todd, publisher of Essentially America, the UK’s leading consumer magazine about travel to the US and Canada, positively cheered. “Great tour guides. Great food. Great fun! Highly recommended.”

The Old Pasadena Tasting Tour, offered on both evenings and weekends, was added in July 2009. Guests explore back alleys and secret throughways while filling up on delicious tastings from the Middle East, Mexico, France, Peru, Italy, and Asia. Visits to an artisan chocolatier, unique handmade soap kitchen, and a California olive oil boutique round out the itinerary.

la farmers market tour
Orange County’s Coast magazine writer Denise Adams thoroughly enjoyed this tour. "There is no better way to see the area than with Melting Pot Food Tours. The Old Pasadena food tasting and guided walking tour was the highlight of our stay."

LA’s Latin core district at the eastern end of downtown, including Boyle Heights, is the site of the East LA Latin Flavors Tour since winter 2010. Adventurous tour guests savor time-honored, traditional, and contemporary Central American and Mexican foods whilst learning all about their origins, including birria (goat stew) that dates back to a century-old recipe.

One fascinated tour guest hailed this Latin Flavors tour, "Although the food was great, this tour was about so much more than the food. We were totally inspired and enriched by this tour."

Guests typically come away from a Melting Pot Food Tour feeling both happily full, and like they’ve enjoyed first-class, VIP treatment. “Our warmth and hospitality are the hallmarks of what we do and how we do it,” asserts Lisa.

“Just because people are in a big, unfamiliar city doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to receive kind, old-world consideration,” Diane hastens to add, smiling. “That would be our job.”

Melting Pot Food Tours
(424) 247-9666

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Temecula, CA: Bel Vino Winery and Event Venue

Atop the highest hill in Temecula Valley sits Bel Vino Winery, and newly opened event space, the Bel Vino House. Formerly Stuart Cellars, new owners Mike and Debbie Janko, completely renovated this gorgeous 3,000 square foot house on the hill into a full service wedding and event venue available for complete or partial rental.

At their grand opening special event, Mike told the crowd, "The view from this house is so beautiful, I wanted to live here myself." Putting their own comfort aside, they instead built an elegant homestead open to the public and available for brides and guests to enjoy year round.

The house can be rented in it's entirety for parties, corporate events, and weddings, and comes complete with a full kitchen, bridal suite, groom's room, bedrooms, bathrooms, wet bar, and an amazing living area. Two patio areas stand adjacent to the home, and the ceremony lawn and reception gardens are also within steps of the establishment.

Immaculately decorated with elegance and refinement, every square inch feels like a high-class estate. The house is available to rent fully or in sections as well.

There are several locations surrounding the property where wedding ceremonies can take place, each with a breathtaking view. Their ceremony lawn (as seen above) overlooking the back vineyards is not actually a living lawn, but rather composed of vibrant faux grass so as to keep the brides dress bright white, prevent muddy disasters, and ensure no guest sinks her heels into a soggy situation.

The reception can be set on one of the three lush lawns or indoors in the barrel room of the winery. One garden setting includes a permanent stage structure and overhead lighting for your musical entertainment. No matter your decision, each provides a simply gorgeous backdrop for photo ops and ever so memorable events.

Their facility has the capacity to accommodate up to 250 seated guests and parking enough for 150 automobiles. The barrel room provides a more intimate environment and can seat 80 guests with enough room for dancing too.

Their house wine, still under the Stuart Cellars label, is some of the award winning "Best in California," according to Mike Janko. From house to cellar, Bel Vino is the perfect venue to host any special event with a guaranteed dazzling outcome.

Bel Vino
33515 Rancho California Road
Temecula, CA 92591

(951) 676-6414
Website: Bel Vino Winery
Look book: Bel Vino House

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Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Air Museum

maid in the shade airplane
History, nostalgia, and some fighter planes have always been a personal allure. So when I visited the Coachella Valley to enjoy some of the desert dry air and an abundance of sun, there was one place to scratch that itch - the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Located adjacent to the Palm Springs International Airport, this attraction which also provides activities, contains one of the world's largest collections of flying WWII airplanes, that include such aircraft as: Grumman F4F Wildcat, Russian Yakovlev YAK_11 Moose, Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet, the Lockheed P38 Lightning, or the Curtiss P40 Hawk.

Located on the north side of the airport, near the Desert Sun newspaper and the new Gene Autry Plaza that is filled with a number of different shops, the Palm Springs air Museum is housed in a magnificent new structure that includes two main display halls and hangers.

Walking through these enormous constructions, I saw how the flying aircraft that was kept in pristine condition was displayed in modern, well-lighted, air-conditioned and clean hangars. There was little dust and a cool breeze that provided adequate ventilation.

palm springs air museum
Along with the incredible displays was the Buddy Rogers theatre were I was able to view the daily documentaries about aviation in the military. There was also a gift shop, a ramp, and an airport access for when there were incredible flight demonstrations as well as visiting planes from around the world.

The museum also has a research library that allowed me to delve into the many books of history and stories that accompanied some of the sites to be seen. The library contained some 6300 volumes primarily related to aviation and American military history. There is also a simulator and educational center that gave me an excellent opportunity to feel what it was like to sit in the cockpit of a Bell P63 King Cobra.

As I enjoyed taking my time, moving through each exhibit, I was soon to learn that the Palm Springs Air Museum was dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and operation of America's legendary fighters, bombers, and trainers. It was constructed to give each visitor a welcome into the past and the experience of what it must have felt like to be in the air and in the middle of battle. What an experience to hear the pounding roar of high-powered piston engines or climbing into the cockpits of legendary fighting jets and bombers. It's a moment well worth the time spent in the valley.

Open seven days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., you can make a day of it when the desert heat becomes a little too much. A perfect stop on your next Palm Springs vacation.

Palm Springs Air Museum
745 N Gene Autry Trl
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 778-6262

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cathedral City, CA: Cello's American Bistro - Refreshing Limmoncello

limmoncello cellos bistro cathedral city
Recently opened in Cathedral City sits an award winning restaurant where the owners make some of the best limoncello I have ever tasted. If you are not already familiar with limoncello, it is an Italian lemon liquor that is produced in Southern Italy off the Amlafi coast.

What began as a small catering company is now one of the busiest restaurants in the California desert. The owner's come from Connecticut and recently made the desert their home. Tommy "Cello" as he is frequently referred to is the magician who makes fantastic lemon liquor, which is traditionally served as an after dinner drink or digestive as the culinary experts like to describe it.

The restaurant itself is located in an out-of-the way shopping center that has seen better days. But don't let that dissuade you, this tantalizing American Bistro that was selected as one of the ten best restaurants by Palm Springs Life Magazine. Located on Date Palm Drive and Gerald Ford Drive, Cello's invited me in with their warm, cozy and relaxing vibe that made me feel right at home. The soft lighting brings an elegance and sophistication that lacks the stuffiness that some would think. And with live Jazz providing a soothing ambience sound to the atmosphere, was just the right touch to move the night.

cellos american bistro
On the night that I was there with my wife, we were given the option to eat inside or outside on the patio, and with the cool breeze on a summer night, the patio worked just fine. After a brief conversation that included sharing a few laughs with the owners, we started off the evening with some wine and an Onion Soup Fondue that comes equipped with a deep-dark, richly flavored broth along with caramelized onions and three croutons to give it that right appeal.

When my main course arrived I can see why this place was the winner of the 2011 Restaurant of the Year award. My wife ordered the 'Pasta of the Day" and I the "Catch of the Day" which was a mussels and prawns dish that was prepared to perfection. My wife's Eggplant Cannelloni left little to be desired, stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served with a marinara sauce. Our friends ordered what is purported to be Cello's signature entrée, the Chicken Caprese. It is a flavorful choice that is groomed with yellow and red cherry tomatoes along with mini fresh mozzarella balls.

For desert we shared strawberries stuffed with marscarpone and dipped in rich chocolate and a tiramisu that gives cake an added dimension with the pudding filling.

Of course, we all finished with the limoncello, which is a little bit of Italy in glass.

Cello's is open 7 days a week, starting at 5:00pm.

Cello's American Bistro
35943 Date Palm Drive
Cathedral City, CA
(760) 328-5353

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

Cathedral City, CA: Boomers! Amusement Park Fun For Families

boomers cathedral city
For some fun in the sun and an opportunity to catch a breath of fresh desert air, there is no better place then Boomers activity park located near Palm Springs, just right off of Hwy 111. It's the perfect place for some family fun in a variety of ways that test your endurance, your skill level, your strength, and your smile meter.

On my recent trip to the desert, being at Boomers was lots fun with activities like go-carting, miniature golf, bumper boats, rock climbing, and a fully loaded arcade with the most up to date games available. With the go-carts, I was able to fulfill my Richard Petty fantasies as I slid thru banking curves, roared down paved straight a ways, and maneuvered hairpin turns as I raced to victory. Kids must be over 58" to drive solo and passengers must stand 40" or taller to take the ride. Prices range from $7 for adults to $2 for kids, all depending on the height.

After the racing fun came to an end, it was on to some relaxing miniature golf that can always have one pulling out what's left of their hair. There are two different courses for all ages equipped with lush greens, wild water features and wacky windmills were I had to take some quick steps so that I could catch were my ball was spit out at. The balls and a putter are all supplied for between $6-8. It was an excellent opportunity for me to take some time and work on my short putting game, and watch out for the out of bounds cause balls do tend to fly of the greens. Play it were it lands.

boomers palm springs
After golf, I was a little warm having been out in the hot desert sun and nothing looked better then the cool water that the bumper boats sat in. Each boat is equipped with squirt cannons to bombard the other with. And if the cannon doesn't get them, then the high speed bumper action will. Broadside collisions and twirling side swipes are a common occurrence and it usually calls for a wave water to follow. It costs between $2-6 and to have a passenger, you have to be 18 years or older.

After that, it was time for some exercise and the challenge sits in the rock climbing wall that is well supervised for all. Here I was able to pick a path and pull and step myself to the summit of a sheer cliff that I imagined was in the Alps with a cold wind blowing snow in my face as I stood at the top. For about $7 I got two climbs up a 32 foot wall that provides an excellent test of one's skill and strength. I had to find a good foothold, didn't look down and I learned the higher I climbed, the more difficult it became. And I didn't have to worry about taking a spill since the climb came with a harness to prevent any unwanted spills.

At the end of a very full day I decided to spend some time visiting the arcade arena to play one of the numbers of video games that pack the center. Whether it was air hockey, skeeter ball, shooting baskets, dancing to music or racing cars and motorcycles, the arcade had a variety of things to experience. It will definitely bring out the 14 year old boy or girl in you. In addition to games galore, my hunger and thirst was satisfied with a small snack bar equipped with fries, burgers, pizza and drinks.

Boomers is open Sunday thru Thursday Boomers 11am to 9pm, Friday 11am to 11pm, and Saturday 10am to 11pm. Boomers also provides group rates for large families and functions as well as all type of specials throughout the year. Boomers is the place to let your inner child run free and experience a day filled with laughter.

67-700 E. Palm Canyon Dr.
Cathedral City, CA 92234
(760) 770-7522

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

San Diego, CA: Lajollacooks4u Takes Guests on Two-Day Culinary Adventure

Lajollacooks4u provides private, hands-on cooking classes and dining experiences. Based in La Jolla, CA, Lajollacooks4u was the recent starting point for two guests from Pasadena who got to see and taste the flavors of Farmers’ Markets, bakeries and olive shops, in addition to cooking up a 5 course gourmet meal in the kitchen of Lajollacooks4u.

La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego, has long been a top destination for tourists with its idyllic Mediterranean climate, quaint shops and its beaches. Now the location getaway is also becoming a popular culinary getaway, thanks, in part, to Lajollacooks4u - the number one ranked tour destination on Trip Advisor.

Jodi Abel, founder of Lajollacooks4u, said her guests are looking for a complete cooking experience and that includes visiting local farmers’ markets,foodie tours and, of course, hands-on cooking classes. "Not only do we teach how to cook a delicious, nutritious meal, we create memories that will last a lifetime,” Abel said. Abel added that her guests want a unique experience." Our two-day Culinary Adventure gives our guests something very unique and special. We specialize in Californian Cuisine; a cuisine that generates its heritage from the abundant locally grown produce and infuses Latin and Asian flavors."

Lajollacooks4u offers guests the opportunity to customize their menu and recipe selection based on their palate preferences. The location provides a very intimate and beautiful setting, allowing guests to relax, sip wine, listen to music and have plenty sample tasting along the way.

Loretta Smith and her dear friend and business partner, Tillie Collins, recently visited Lajollacooks4u for a two- day culinary adventure that began with an evening gourmet cooking and dining experience. This was followed up with a unique foodie tour the following day, culminating with a farm-to-table Asian influenced cooking class and meal. Smith and Collins are both seasoned cooks and have been on several other culinary vacations. "The two days we spent with Jodi where so much fun and special; we learned a lot and we’re excited to try her recipes at home" Smith said.

Lajollacooks4u, founded in 2008, provides an ideal activity for couples, corporate team building, special occasion celebrations and any foodie looking for a cooking and culinary experience in an ideal setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Based in La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego, CA, Lajollacooks4u has enjoyed record growth since its inception and has been ranked the number one attraction in La Jolla on the world’s largest travel review site, Trip Advisor.

For more information, contact Jodi Abel at jodi(at)lajollacooks4u(dot)com or phone 1-858-752-4980.

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