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, December 30, 2013

Los Angeles, CA: dineLA Restaurant Week

Diners can now prepare to eat their hearts out at some of Los Angeles’ most coveted dining destinations, as reservations are now being accepted for dineLA’s Restaurant Week. The widely-popular, twice-yearly program returns January 20-31, 2014 featuring delicious newcomers Herringbone LA, Mud Hen Tavern, and Allumette alongside returning favorites such as Crossroads, FIG Restaurant Santa Monica, and Petrossian Paris Restaurant & Boutique. To book a reservation, simply visit dineLA's website and choose from over 300 restaurants offering a selection of specially-priced $15, $20 and $25 lunch menus and $25, $35 and $45 dinner menus.

For the first time in its six year history, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has added $85 experiential tasting menus to dineLA's Restaurant Week, as part of a new pilot program. Designed for those looking to elevate their dining experience, the multi-course tastings are available at some of the city’s most sought-after restaurants. The full list of restaurants participating in the $85 tasting menu program will be released in early January 2014.

dineLA, the official authority on all things culinary in Los Angeles, presents Restaurant Week to invite both Angelenos and travelers to experience the variety of globally-influenced culinary offerings throughout the greater LA area. From Venice to Hollywood, Downtown L.A. to Beverly Hills, both casual diners and foodies are invited to enjoy meals at a great value from acclaimed chefs including Sang Yoon, Ricardo Zarate, Susan Feniger and Jimmy Shaw.

For a chance to savor Los Angeles’ cuisine all year long, diners can enter to win “dineLA for a Year.” Food lovers who sign up for the dineLA newsletter are automatically entered to win the ultimate prize—a restaurant gift certificate every week for one year. The 52-week prize-pack is valued at an appetizing $2,600.

About dineLA’s Restaurant Week:

dineLA’s Restaurant Week is a 12 consecutive-day, non-ticketed dining event, showcasing Los Angeles as a premier dining destination and highlighting the diversity of culinary experiences LA has to offer. Presented by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and in partnership with American Express®, dineLA’s Restaurant Week is designed to stimulate business and introduce new customers to restaurants located in the many neighborhoods throughout LA County. For more information, visit their website or visit them on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

San Diego, CA: Beerology and Craft Beers

In San Diego craft beer is a prevalent part of the dining culture. Nothing represents this better than the Beerology exhibit at The Museum of Man in Balboa Park which is running through the Summer of 2014. This is evidenced by the booming number of local craft breweries in the area pumping out beers from special blends and labeled with enticing names. On any night of the week local beer drinkers can enjoy Double Bastard, Pearl Necklace, Belching Beaver, Satanic Chimp, Red Headed Hop Child, or Old Viscosity.

Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, and other cultures are represented in this exhibit and their strange, albeit clever brewing arts. The headhunters from the Amazon, chewed poisonous cassava root to create their unique beer (although the exhibit points out they rarely go headhunting any longer). Women of one tribe chews roots and spits them back into a bowl, which is then fermented and brewed to create the special "craft" brew.

The history of beer is quite fascinating dating back to the beginning of recorded history. The production of beer is credited with the creation of mathematics, property ownership, record keeping, and medicine. From Mesopotamia to San Diego, California, beer has been a healing and convivial part of our culture for over 10,000 years.

After enjoying the exhibit, one can travel to a number of local breweries to imbibe. Monkey Paw Brewery, Mission Brewery, Stone Brewery, Green Flash, Alesmith, Acoustic Ales and Ballast Point, all have tasting rooms within a short drive of Balboa Park. Most serve only beer, no other drinks or food, and are designed for the taste buds of the true beer connoisseur. But to enjoy a variety of beers in one location, and perhaps some delicious cuisine that compliments the local frothy broths, plenty of restaurants keep a good reserve on hand.

57 Degrees carries a nice variety of beer as well as being a wine retail store, wine bar, wine storage facility, and restaurant. Scrumptious selections of food, wine and of course, beer are available in this contemporary and lively venue. Serving also as an event facility, there is no shortage of vibrant and stimulating energy among the patrons and staff. To enjoy the perfect beverage while taking in the perfect sunset, overlooking San Diego Bay, 57 Degrees is the best location for a laid back vibe to end the day.

Another fantastic brewery that has it all, delectable food, a variety of drinks and of course, some of the finest craft beer, is Hillcrest Brewing Company. Touted as "The World’s First Out and Proud LGBT Brewery", HBC is located next door to the iconic Hillcrest Pride Flag and serves some of the best pizza one can find in San Diego. Hillcrest is known for it's wide variety of open-minded lifestyles and HBC seems to be a central location for locals and visitors alike to let their hair down and be real. The raucous laughter of the beer and pizza consumers is consistent from open to close here.

For more information on the Beerology exhibit visit their website.

San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2001

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Palm Springs, CA: A Holiday Art Affair at Gallery 446

Gallery 446 will present a collection of original artwork created by Desert Arc clients at “A Holiday Art Affair” on Sunday, December 15, 2013, from 12:00pm to 7:00pm, through the efforts of art curator and Modernism Week board member, Laurie Weitz. All Desert Arc art that is displayed will be on sale. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Desert Arc, which provides services to clients that enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.

The mission of Desert Arc is to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for adult clients with disabilities, 18 and over. Desert Arc serves people with developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other medical conditions. Many have multiple disabilities and nearly all are low income. Currently Desert Arc has 900 clients enrolled in all programs.

Other attractions on display December 15 will include a boutique style atmosphere featuring:

· Original designs by Shari Belafonte
· Vintage clothing for women and men by Déjà Vu vintage finery by William Miller
· Celebrity makeup artist Maryam of Beverly Hills
· Original paper sculpture greeting cards by artist Chad Stephens
· Wearable art by “Chatoyance by Martine Suhl”
· Book signing by Grace Robbins
· Celebrity Chef Andre Carthen

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or item for a child or teen for the Gallery’s “Cocoa and Candy Canes Toy Drive” benefiting the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” program.

For more information about Gallery 446 visit their website or call 760-459-3142. For more information on the event, please visit Desert Arc website or call 760-346-1611 or email

Gallery 446
SOIN Studios
446 S Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

San Simeon, CA: Hearst Castle Tours

Hearst Castle has long been since regarded as a miraculous place along the exquisite California coastline. A private country estate containing some 165 rooms and situated on 86,000 breathtakingly beautiful acres in San Simeon, California, La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) is truly a sight to behold. Conceived by W.R. Hearst and constructed by architect Julia Morgan, Hearst Castle was a playground for the privileged and the few. Members of Hollywood’s A-list, politicians, heads of state and successful businessmen all graced the halls at “the ranch” as Hearst himself referred to this glamorous country house.

Housed within the Castle are countless works of art and antiquity, passionately collected by W.R. Hearst. Spanish ceilings, architectural fragments, medieval tapestries, Renaissance furniture, 19th century sculpture and other decorative arts, such as ceramics, metalwork and textiles all made the long journey from Europe and the Mid-East to the Castle.

These treasures remain on display just as they were during the heyday and splendor of the Castle, now to be enjoyed by everyone who has an interest in beauty, art, architecture and history.

Despite its grandeur, W.R. Hearst welcomed the rich, the famous, the influential and guests from every walk of life to the Castle where he enjoyed hosting parties, screening movies and relaxing by the Neptune Pool. Gifted to the State of California by the Hearst Family, Hearst Castle is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is operated by California State Parks.

A few of the historic locations of the castle are:

Two pools can be found at Hearst Castle: the Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. Each one is truly a sight to behold, and set the stage for lively parties and social gatherings.

Filled with the finest wine money could buy, the Wine Cellar was constructed during the Prohibition Era, and featured gates to protect Hearst’s collection.

Although no longer in operation, Hearst Castle was once the site for the world’s largest private zoo, holding exotic animals from every continent.

Discover the lush, serene gardens that were planned and developed as carefully as other parts of the Castle were by Hearst and Morgan.

Reserve tickets online up to 56 days in advance to take a tour of Hearst Castle, a true sight to behold. Find the tours that interest you most, by learning more about the daily Hearst Castle tours open to the public. Hearst Castle offers a 10% discount on the second and third daytime tours booked for the same day, when one tour is booked at full price. Please allow at least one hour between tours when scheduling multiple tours. Visitors may remain on the hilltop between and following the daytime tours to enjoy the gardens and visit the Neptune and Roman Pools at their leisure.

Hearst Castle‎
750 Hearst Castle Rd
San Simeon, CA 93452
(800) 444-4445‎

View Larger Map

Monday, December 9, 2013

Indian Wells, CA: New York New Year's Eve

At least 150 people are expected to continue what is now a desert tradition, by dressing up and ringing in 2014 the way New Yorkers do. The 2nd annual “New York New Year’s Eve” celebration will be held Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at the Miramonte Resort in Indian Wells, California.

Guests will start their evening off with cocktails at 6:00pm followed by an elegant buffet dinner, raffle prize giveaways, music, dancing, and a live, televised “ball drop” from Times Square in New York at 9:00pm accompanied by a champagne toast and party favors. Dancing and dessert will continue until 10:30pm, giving attendees the option to head home and put on their PJ’s or continue on to their next party.

This year’s Chair is Loretta Ferraro, well known event planner and wife of Desert Arc CEO Richard Balocco. All proceeds benefit Desert Arc. The mission of Desert Arc is to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for adult clients with disabilities, 18 and over. Desert Arc serves people with developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation and other medical conditions. Many have multiple disabilities and nearly all are low income. Currently Desert Arc has 900 clients enrolled in all programs.

Ticket prices are $100 per person (dinner and champagne toast), $125 per person (VIP preferred seating, dinner, champagne toast, and two drinks), and $525 for two (Platinum VIP package includes preferred seating, dinner, champagne toast, two drinks, and overnight stay at the Miramonte Resort on New Year’s Eve.)

To make reservations and purchase tickets, please call Desert Arc at 760-346-1611, by December 27, 2013, or email Alison Elsner at

Mitch Blumberg, Deputy Director of Desert Arc, said, “We have so many people attend our party from throughout southern California because it has something for everyone. Not only will there be outstanding gourmet buffet stations, top notch entertainment, and a spirited, warm atmosphere with instant friends, but also we will be raising funds to directly impact the lives of Desert Arc clients by providing meals, transportation, and job training to developmentally disabled adults who are finally given the chance to live independently and contribute to society.

The beautiful Miramonte Resort and Spa, nestled into the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is located at 45-000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, CA. 92210.

For more information, please visit the Desert Arc website or call 760-346-1611 or email

New York New Year's Eve
Miramonte Resort & Spa
45000 Indian Wells Lane
Indian Wells, CA 92210

View Larger Map

Friday, December 6, 2013

Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara's Surf Culture

Surf culture is synonymous with the laid-back, carefree California lifestyle. Most Californians appreciate the spiritual connection between man and the sea, and many share a fascination with watching surfers in action. Matt Warshaw, surfer and author of The Encyclopedia of Surfing, rightly observes, “Surfing, alone among sports…turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.” Surfing is an integral part of the Santa Barbara lifestyle, which attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience life on “The American Riviera®” firsthand.

Santa Barbara has always played an understated but influential role in the international surf scene. Pro surfers Tom Curren, Bobby Martinez, Kim Mearig, Kelly Slater and Shaun Thomson, and major brands Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax and Al Merrick’s Channel Islands Surfboards all call Santa Barbara home. Legendary surf spots, such as Rincon, the Ranch and Jalama, and living legends George Greenough, Bruce Brown and Renny Yater have also helped put Santa Barbara on the surfing map.

With museums dedicated to surfing, plentiful opportunities for surf instruction, and breaks that attract surfers from all over the world, Santa Barbara offers an accessible cultural immersion for the budding surfer and surf-curious. And shoppers will be stoked about the surf niche retail scene. From the flagship Channel Islands Surfboards shop to custom board boutiques, Santa Barbara offers an array of contemporary surf fashion and equipment.

Santa Barbara’s rich surf history is now preserved and the story told via the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s permanent Marilyn S. Tennity Surfing Exhibit: Surf’s Up! Santa Barbara. Surf’s Up! includes artifacts, photos, classic surfboards and other memorabilia, along with oral histories of famous local surfers, surf spots, board shapers and others who made Santa Barbara a leader in the sport. Video clips include Gates Foss, who first surfed Rincon back in the 1930’s, and interviews with Renny Yater, Al Merrick, Tom Curren, Davey Smith, Kim Mearig and Bobby Martinez. In keeping with the museum’s interactive theme, a nine-foot high, twelve-foot long wave with sound and video allows visitors to get a sense of what it feels like to ride a wave. And a surfboard framed by a wave is perfect for photo ops—and figuring out whether you are goofy or regular footed. (The museum is closed Wednesdays.)

Upstairs from the Maritime Museum, the Endless Summer Bar-Café has filmmaker Bruce Brown’s official endorsement and is decorated with memorabilia from the film Endless Summer (1964), a world-famous surfing film that helped define the genre and mirrored the surf culture which has become such a part of the California lifestyle. The restaurant’s collection of surfboards includes one of the first boards made by Renny Yater in 1953 and an abalone inlay board made by Renny and installed in honor of Bruce’s 70th birthday, celebrated at the restaurant. The casual restaurant has great harbor and mountain views, a lively, inviting atmosphere—and you might just spot Bruce himself savoring fish and chips.

For more surf culture, head to the Funk Zone (near Stearn’s Wharf) to visit the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum. Not your average museum, the impressive collection curated by photographer and founder James O’Mahoney includes collectible surfboards, skateboards, skimboards; surf music, books, art and movies; and vintage clothing and antiques. The museum is open Sunday afternoons from noon to 5pm or by appointment, and admission is free.

Round out your surf education with a visit to Sullivan Goss Gallery to see iconic paintings of surfboards and beach scenes by local artist (and surfer) Hank Pitcher. And stop by Jaffurs Wine Cellars in downtown Santa Barbara, near the waterfront, to taste the wines of surfer-winemaker Craig Jaffurs. The tasting room/production facility is decorated with rare, vintage surfboards, and Jaffurs collaborated on a limited edition wine with label artwork by Hank Pitcher.

Over the years, surfers “discovered” breaks once known only to locals. The most notable, Rincon, is considered the “Queen of the Coast” set on the Santa Barbara-Ventura county line. Waves peel flawlessly for up to half a mile, and it has long been a testing ground for surfboard technology and design by Santa Barbara’s most famous surfers and shapers. Leadbetter, Santa Barbara’s downtown surf spot, provides small breakers perfect for those learning to surf, located just west of the Harbor, across the street from Santa Barbara City College. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, the aptly named Campus Point also has a great break for novices. Although a relatively mellow surf spot, winter swells can produce classic top to bottom barrels (perfect waves) off this shale-layered point. Sandspit, at the Santa Barbara Harbor, is best in winter and is not for novices! The waves break with heavy backwash and long-spinning tubes and are often crowded with surf-stoked locals.

El Capitán State Beach, one of the best cobblestone point breaks in California, is fifteen miles northwest of the Santa Barbara Harbor. El Capitán produces hollow waves (tube rides) when a good-sized west swell reaches around the Channel Islands. There are a myriad of “secret” surf spots in and around the Channel Islands. Exposed breaks, swift currents, and rocky reefs make surfing there very dangerous. Jalama Beach Park, north of Point Conception and quite a bit off the beaten path, is often exposed to high wind conditions. Jalama features both beach and reef breaks, and the dramatic conditions require experience and higher skill levels.

A variety of surf schools, seasonal camps and instruction options are available for beginners of all ages and group sizes: Santa Barbara Adventure Company, Surf Happens, Santa Barbara Surf School, Santa Barbara Seals Surf School and Ocean Adventures/A-Frame Surf Shop. Rentals are available at A-Frame, Channel Islands Surfboards and Surf N’ Wear’s Beach House surf shops. And, for a different approach to surfing, try Stand Up Paddle Surfing with the help of Channel Islands Outfitters. Note: Novices are strongly encouraged to learn the etiquette—unofficial “rules” that surfers follow to create order and foster safety in the water—before heading out to ride the waves.

Santa Barbara offers a number of locally-owned and operated surf retail shops that have managed to survive the competition from major chains. While Channel Islands Surfboards might have gone big time (now owned by Burton), the brand has distinctly local roots and the flagship Santa Barbara retail store, located in the Funk Zone, boasts the largest number of boards shaped by Merrick.

A-Frame Surf Shop (3785 Santa Claus Lane, Carpinteria): Run by brothers Sam and Rob Holcombe, A-Frame is right on the beach at Santa Claus Lane and carries apparel, wetsuits, sunglasses and boards. Rentals available for visitors.

Blueline Stand Up Paddle Surf (24 East Mason Street, Santa Barbara): Blueline has one of the largest inventories of Stand Up Paddle Surf equipment in the nation, and offers a retail shop in the Funk Zone.

Channel Islands Surfboards (36 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara): CIS was started in Santa Barbara by legendary shaper Al Merrick in 1969, and has sponsored some of the best surfers in the world including Tim Curran, Tom Curren, Taylor Knox, Rob Machado, Yadin Nicol, Dane Reynolds, Kalani Robb, Kelly Slater, Lisa Anderson, Rochelle Ballard, Bethany Hamilton and Sofia Mulanovich. The flagship retail shop is the only place in the world where Santa Barbara branded CIS apparel is available for purchase.

J. Seven Surf Designs (24 East Mason Street, Santa Barbara): At the Funk Zone storefront, J7 offers custom boards hand-shaped by co-owner Jason Feist, as well as stylish clothing and accessories with a more fashion-forward bent than typically found in a surf shop.
Rincon Designs (659 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria): Carp local Matt Moore shapes custom boards and carries apparel by the usual suspects including Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Hurley.
Surf Country (109B South Fairview Ave., Goleta): Locally-owned by Goleta born and bred surfer Doug Yartz, this shop receives praise for the staff’s positive, open attitude. New and used boards are for sale including designs by Yartz himself, and the apparel includes local lines like Low Tide Rising.

Surf N’ Wear’s Beach House (10 State Street, Santa Barbara): Open since 1962, The Beach House is a massive retail store, jam-packed with boards, wetsuits, apparel, shoes and accessories. They carry vintage boards as well as Renny Yater’s designs. Rentals are available for visitors.

Visit Santa Barbara-The American Riviera for visitor information and Hot Deals.

View Larger Map

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beverly Hills, CA: Winter Solstice Vampire Wine Tasting for MYTH Masque

Certainly you don't want to miss opportunity for Californians and California visitors to welcome Winter with Vampiric style.

On the evening of December 21, 2013 The Winter Solstice Vampire Wine Tasting is being held at the Vampire Lounge and Tasting Room in Beverly Hills. Held in the legendary Fang Club, known as the Vampyre Elisium of the original purveyors of Decadence, this event is being held in collaboration with MYTH Masque's own Chambre du Vampire. Guests are invited to an elegant wine tasting experience at the Vampire Lounge, which is rumored to be owned by a circle of vampires, with this cool seductive tasting room is the first of its kind.


Guests will enjoy limitless pours from an extensive wine menu, tantalizing food pairings, music, and lush vampiric ambiance. Upscale white, red or black attire encouraged! Two tasting tiers, with two very limited seating options now available for booking.

Roam with the rogues of the night, sipping the blood of juicy grapes, and dancing with abandon. What vampire would ever decline a night of such tasty bites?

For more information visit the Chambre du Vampire website or the Facebook event.

Tasting Vampire Lounge and Tasting Room
9865 S. Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

View Larger Map

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Carlsbad, CA: Wine, Beer, and Cheese classes for La Costa Wine Company

la costa wine company
Flummoxed with marrying your beer with the milky goodstuff? Not sure how to pair that bottle of shimmering wine? Up for some new tasting tricks, or just ready to drink to the dickens?

Then mix and match your delicious way to success with my 2014 class schedule, now available online!

These courses are a brilliant way to brush up on, or expand your curd, cork, and cerveza know how. They'll also make for much-coveted and droolworthy gifts this hustley-bustley holiday season.

Cheese & Wine (1/18, 2/9) $49
Cheese & Beer (1/15, 2/5, 3/9) $39
Wine 101 (2/8, 3/12, 4/13) $39

Give the gift of all three classes for $115, or better yet, gift yourself for making it through another gaggle of stressors this wintertide! Visit La Costa Wine Company online to find more information.

La Costa Wine Co.
6986 El Camino Real #2
Carlsbad, CA 92009

View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

San Diego, CA: South Park Luminaria

Crowds of people filled Grape Street Square to watch South Park’s first holiday tree sculpture light up the night. But this wasn’t your typical green Christmas tree, because South Park is not your typical urban setting.

Todd Williams, the artist who designed the sculpture, has tree cred. He was involved in the San Diego Port District’s Urban Trees public art project, and he also created the unusual metal tree sculpture at Alchemy restaurant.

The idea behind South Park’s tree sculpture was to 1) celebrate the holidays without killing a tree, and 2) use recycled, reused materials to reflect an urban setting. That lovely tree was once a wood fence, if you can believe it. You can also see how it’s constructed with nuts and bolts, those “individual elements coming together” that make a community, Williams said.

You could witness those different elements as local business owners, families, renters and homeowners, school kids, the elderly, gay and straight celebrated what was called First Light, the official kickoff of Luminaria, South Park’s first month-long celebration of light. We’re not a cookie-cutter neighborhood, because we’re not cookie-cutter people. We come from different backgrounds, yet what binds us together is love and appreciation for our little town.

The PA system at First Light made it tough to hear the speeches and presentations, but if you missed it, you should know that the South Park Business Group that organized the Luminaria named the winners of the home decorating contest. The winning homes were 1707 Fern St. for best overall design; 1920 Fern St. for most original; and 1738 30th St. for best door. Be sure to drive by these locations to experience what our creative neighbors have done to add sparkle to South Park. You can also see the winners on Facebook.

KUSI News and ABC News came to First Light, as well as special guests interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, and Santa, of course.

Don’t forget — the Luminaria Walkabout is Saturday, Dec. 7, 6-10 p.m. More info on

Photos and article courtesy of Bonnie Nicholls, the South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego! Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer and blogger based in South Park, San Diego. She specializes in business success stories and web content. You can find her on Twitter.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sausalito, CA: December Open Art Studios

On Saturday and Sunday, Dec 7 & 8, is the annual December Open Art Studio in Sausalito. There will be 80 studios open from 11am to 6pm for the public to view the work of local artists over the weekend.

"This year has been very productive and I will have more paintings available
than ever before," said Sue Averell, owner of Sausalito Artists @ Work located on the 2nd floor in Studio 235. Studio 235 is only one of the many studios open for the weekend.

The ICB Art Studios are home to almost 100 artists and offer visitors the opportunity to see inside the working studios of some of the Bay Area's most talented artists. Nestled close to the San Francisco Bay, toward the North end of Sausalito, is this landmark historic building, steeped in the area's ship building roots, and rekindled by the creative juices of a vibrant community of artists.

"I'm so pleased to be showing a large selection of Urban Landscape and Botanicals, two Seascapes, two pieces from my NEW Underwater Series and two from my NEW Inside Out Series," said Sue.

ICB Art Studios are located on the corner of Harbor Drive and Gate Five Road. There is plenty of free parking anywhere in the lot.

ICB Art Studios
480 Gate Five Road
Studio 235
Sausalito, CA
(415) 706 5051

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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. Covering an area roughly the size of the state of Ohio, the Shasta Cascade has a vast, unspoiled, landscape of stunning vistas, towering volcanoes, alpine ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, whitewater, lush forests and pristine lakes and rivers, creating the perfect backdrop for a workout no matter your fitness level. California's Shasta Cascade contains seven national forests, eight national and state parks, the Trinity Alps, the northern Sierra Nevada and the California Cascade range.

The Sacramento River
California's Sacramento River is a major player for all of today's popular paddle sports. There are other rivers and lakes in the area where paddle enthusiasts can get their fix while burning calories. A few hours spent paddling down a river or around a lake can do wonders for your health:

Paddleboarding burns an average of 600 calories per hour
Kayaking burns between 360-950 calories an hour
Canoeing comes in at approximately 400 calories per hour
River Rafting burns at least 230 calories per hour
Explore Shasta Cascade's National Forests
The eight National Forests and numerous wilderness areas in the Shasta Cascade Region offer brilliant settings perfect for getting fit. The amount of calories burned hiking depends on how much you weigh:

130 pound person will burn 413 calories per hour
155 pound person will burn 493 calories per hour
180 pound person will burn 572 calories per hour
205 pound person will burn 651 calories per hour
The sport of Mountain Biking is also popular in this part of the planet. The varied terrain of the National Forests offers endless opportunities for mountain bikers. The trail from Shasta Dam to Sundial Bridge inRedding, called the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail, is 17.4 miles and has been recognized as the 7th best trail in California by Rails to Trails magazine. Even walking in this majestic location can burn calories.

For more information visit and

View Larger Map

Friday, November 22, 2013

San Diego, CA: Beer and Cheese Pairings in North Park

If your idea of cheese and beer is Cheetos and Bud at a football game, think again.

Such a pairing of carefully curdled delicacies and hops has gotten much more sophisticated, as I learned at Thorn Street Brewery in North Park, which recently put on an event with Venissimo Cheese.

I was skeptical because, as I’ve admitted before, I’m not a fan of brews (yes, strike me dead for liking Corona with lime). Couldn’t I just eat the cheese? But I was intrigued, and heck, I had to wash down the cheese with something.

Turns out, I came away pleasantly surprised, because when the flavors worked together, I found beer more palatable than ever before.

We tried five Thorn Street beers: a hefeweizen, a Belgian blond ale, an extra special bitter, an IPA, and an imperial Russian stout. The cheeses, on the other hand, came from all over the world and offered their own complexity – both in texture and taste.

We savored a silky soft Brunet goat cheese from Italy (a nice match with the hef), a super stinky French Munster, a Vermont cheddar, a Minnesota ghouda, a Delice de Bourgogne triple cream from France (a hit with the IPA), a Blue cheese from New York, and an aged ghouda from the Netherlands.

Beer and Cheese??

For each pairing, Rob Graff from Venissimo offered us a slice of a different cheese, sometimes two different cheeses. Our initial impulse, before listening to instruction, was to pop the whole chunk in our mouths, because when you’re offered a delicious cheese, why put on the brakes?

Because, like a first date, a good date, anyway, it’s better to take it slow. So we followed Rob’s direction: first taste the cheese (swallow), next sip the beer (swallow), then taste the cheese again, and while it is still dancing on your tongue and flirting with your taste buds, chase it with beer.

Did I really like that extra special bitter? Me? Yes, the cheese made it palatable. Who knew?

To finish off the evening, Rob served us a dessert cheese – a sweet, droopy mango-ginger stilton from England. That we ate on its own, without beer.

I would love to see such an event in South Park. Where do you think it might work? Hamilton’s? Alchemy? Eclipse?

Photos and article courtesy of Bonnie Nicholls, the South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego!

Thorn Street Brewery
3176 Thorn Street
San Diego, CA 92104

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arrowhead, CA: Swimming Hole

California Scenes courtesy of Sam Katz Photography

Monday, November 18, 2013

San Diego, CA: Food Truck Tuesdays in South Park

Every Tuesday evening you’ll find a mini food fair in South Park. Food trucks roll up to the Gala Foods parking lot at the corner of Grape and Fern Streets and offer all types of cuisine. You'll find a vast array of menu options such as grilled cheese sandwiches, ravioli, fish tacos, crepes, sliders, vegan meals, even patty melts from Corvette Diner. So is the food any good? Depends on what you order.

Possible options are the “Hi-So” slider from The Slider House. This little 2-ounce beef burger comes topped with prosciutto, arugula, gruyere cheese and garlic-lime aioli. Yum! It is about $4, which seems reasonable. The Green Truck, specializes in organic, sustainable food and one of it's offerings is pumpkin tacos, made with Suzie’s Farm heirloom pumpkin, caramelized onion, garlic crema, cherry tomato and onion sprouts. The cashier described them as “Christmas in your mouth,” and that’s accurate, because they tasted like pumpkin pie. Possibly too sweet for dinner, obviously depending upon your taste. Those two tacos cost about $8.

Another possibility is Italian food from Mangia Mangia Mobile: the catch of the day fish sandwich, the mushroom ravioli in a white sauce, and garlic fries. Reviews by attendees are mixed: fish sandwich wasn’t that flavorful, ravioli stuffing was good, but the white sauce was too dense, and the fries were OK. Price for that meal: $27. You can't beat the festive atmosphere, however. Frank Sinatra songs from Mangia Mangia’s speakers glided through the air as people mill about, looking at menus, and chatting with each other as they eat at the little tables. You can even shop for clothes from a mobile clothing boutique.

Other trucks that were there included: Grilled Cheese Gastrotruck, Ms. Patty Melt Food Truck, French
Crepes, and Mariscos Nine Seas (which is parked at Gala every day). Apparently the selection of food trucks changes weekly. Come to South Park and see what tickles your palette--every Tuesday from 5:30 to 8:30, Gala Foods parking lot, corner of Grape and Fern Streets.

Photos and article courtesy of South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego!

Gala Foods
3030 Grape Street
(between 31st St & Fern St)
San Diego, CA 92102

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

22nd Annual International Indio Tamale Festival, Indio, CA, Dec. 6, 7 & 8

The 22nd annual Indio International Tamale Festival will once again overtake Old Town Indio to kick off the holiday season in the Coachella Valley. Admission into the Festival is FREE, and family-friendly activities, arts and crafts booths, and live entertainment are geared for all ages and community interests. The Festival has been ranked as one of the top ten "All-American Food Festivals" in the nation by Food Network-TV. Guinness World Records awarded the Festival as having The World's Largest Tamale--over 1 foot in diameter and 40 feet in length, Dec. 4, 1999, and The World's Largest Tamale Festival--with 120,000 in attendance, Dec. 2-3, 2000. The traditional competition for best tamale recipe will be held, and there will also be a tamale eating contest. At least 125,000 people are expected to attend the two day celebration this year which begins with a parade on Saturday morning. Performances will be featured on four stages.

Indio Mayor Elaine Holmes said, “As a business owner, resident, and Mayor of the City of Indio, I’m always very excited to attend our Annual Tamale Festival. It’s an event where visitors from around the world can enjoy a one of a kind cultural experience only Indio can offer. This is a tradition we’re very proud of, where families, foodies, and anyone wanting to taste one of the many adventures Indio has to offer can come together for great food and fun. Admission is free, so join us for some of the best tamales you ever had, in traditional and new ways you never imagined.”

 New attractions this year include an Inaugural Car Show, an Art and Wine Garden, and Food Truck Alley. And, as always, in addition to the parade and live entertainment, there will be the Best Tamale Contest, a Tamale Eating Contest, Kiddieland, and Carnival Rides. Recipes from all over the southwest feature pumpkin with Jamaican rum tamale, bourbon pork tamale, chocolate cherry tamale, and hundreds more.

Complete information for the Tamale Festival can be found here.
Friday, December 6, 2013 -- 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Carnival only this day)
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – 10:00am – 6:00pm (Carnival open until 10:00pm)
Sunday, December 8, 2013 -- 10:00am – 6:00pm (Carnival open until 10:00pm)

The Festival is located at Old Town Indio between Highway 111 and Indio Boulevard; it occupies the streets of Miles, Towne, Smurr and Requa.

 Free parking is available at Riverside County’s Administration Building at the Larson Justice Center on the corner of Highway 111 and Oasis Street. Public parking is also available on various streets around downtown Indio. Free shuttle services are provided by Lin Lines to all festival visitors from the Larson Justice Center. SunLine Transit bus routes include stops close to the Festival grounds. For more parking or bus route information can be found here.

The Festival is produced by KevaWorks, Inc., in partnership with the City of Indio. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will serve as the official presenting sponsor, as they have since 1999.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

San Diego, CA: Dishcrawl East Village Nov 5

Dine your way through the entertaining city streets of Downtown San Diego into the neighborhood of East Village. The foodie scene in San Diego is emerging into this amazing culinary art, a change for the best that you will want experience. Put on your best outfit and join in on the fun that you will venture into Downtown San Diego. With so many amazing eats, get ready to give your palate tastes to remember. Dishcrawl – similar to a pubcrawl - but with food, offers a social culinary experience like no other. Unite with fellow foodies on this unique experience that includes a tour of 4 very distinct restaurants and a meet-and-greet with the chefs and owners to explore the inspiration behind each delectable dish. Come take part in the food adventure on Tuesday, November 5th at 7pm, tickets to the event are $45 and are available on the Dishcrawl website.

“The great thing about Dishcrawl is that one of the managers and owners will come out and briefly talk about what makes their restaurant special. Some will talk about the origin of a dish, their restaurant concept, the history of the chefs, and what makes them unique. You get the story, ask questions and are able to sample some of their dishes, you may have not otherwise ordered. I recommend that everyone experiences a Dishcrawl. If you like food, people and good atmosphere you will not be disappointed!” - Jennifer Boyd of San Diego Secrets and Treasurer of San Diego Social Media Club.

At Dishcrawl’s events, our ticket-holders visit four restaurants in one night, sampling each restaurant's specialties and meeting the chefs or owners. It's not your typical "tour" company, rather, it is a local neighborhood event and ultimate dining experience.

Participating restaurants are kept secret until two days before the event, at which time the first location is revealed to ticket holders.

For more information about Little Italy’s upcoming Dishcrawl visit check out our facebook or follow @DishcrawlSD.

About Dishcrawl
Dishcrawl creates dining experiences and events to satisfy anyone’s craving. Our mission is to show food lovers the best dishes in local restaurants. You can find your local Dishcrawl Ambassador leading you through progressive dinners, prix fixe dinners, and other fun food events! Dishcrawlers can enjoy dining experiences in San Francisco, New York, Montreal, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto, Philadelphia, DC, and more. Visit for a local dining experience.

View Larger Map

Friday, October 18, 2013

San Diego, CA Resurrecciòn III, Day of the Dead, Art and Music Event, October 26

Arte Fresca and Konstant Be are back at it again for the 3rd annual Dìa de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Art & Music event! This year over 20 amazing local artists will be creating on hand-crafted wooden crosses--this art is not to be missed. And when you purchase the art you will be saving lives. Additionally there will be live art, Day of the Dead make-up artists for face painting, live bands, DJ's, raffle prizes and more.

This year this spectacular event is being held at The Merrow (formerly The Ruby Room) 1271 University. It starts at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 26th and closes at 2:00 a.m., Sunday morning, October 27th. There is a $7.00 cover charge, but if you're in costume, the price drops to only $5.00!

Face painting will be offered by Elizabeth Pina and Noemi Salvador. Live artists will include Linda Halsey, Danny Peralta, Val Yazon, Hill Young, and Arek Art.

Sounds will be provided by Melaza Underground, and if you want to follow your favorite musicians, here's the schedule:
  • 9:30 - 10:00 p.m:  Lillian LeFranc
  • 10:30 - 11:00 p.m.: Viva Apollo
  • 11:30 p.m. - 12:15 a.m.:  Restoration One

The Merrow (formerly The Ruby Room)
1271 University
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-7372

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

San Diego, CA: Hostel Takeover Art Show October 20

A growing art event, Hostel Takeover, at Hostelling International Downtown San Diego has been helping downtown San Diego become more inviting to local artists. Hostel Takeover has succeeded in not only bringing fresh local art to that area of town that had never represented San Diego’s local culture, but has also been bringing in more and more local artists of all mediums. Held every few months, this event has also been attracting as many as 400 attendees from all parts of the country as well as some international guests. The next Hostel Takeover will be held Sunday, October 20, 2013 from 6:00 to 11:00 pm.

Not only will visitors be treated to an amazing array of artistic endeavors but there will also be delicious food and live music for your enjoyment. If you would like to participate, please send an email to There is a suggested donation of $3.00 to attend.

Hosteling International
521 Market Street
San Diego, CA 92101

View Larger Map

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pacific Coast Fog Fest: Pacifica, CA

Now in its 28th year, The Pacific Coast Fog Fest was created to promote the City of Pacifica and to celebrate its marvelous coastal climate and community. This 2-day event brings in over 150 arts and crafts booths, a parade, a Fog Jog, a photo contest, a family fun fest, a marching band competition, 3 stages of live music and plenty of food and drink to satisfy any taste. Fog Fest 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 it will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 28th and 29th, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days.

There will be five celebrity grand marshals for the Saturday morning parade,“Surf’s Up!” The parade will feature surf professionals of the magnificent waves of Mavericks and the movie “Chasing Mavericks.” Floats, marching bands, Nestle’s Nesquik Bunny are just a few things to also expect. This year Macy’s is our proud sponsor of the parade. Who better to have but the parade experts themselves?

Other highlights will include, a sand castle contest where spectators can watch as the sculptures come alive and even vote on their favorite; live painting of surfboards at our new Artist Café which will be raffled off; and don’t forget to try the signature drink, the Fog Cutter, always a crowd pleaser.

The Fog Fest is proud to give back to the community organizations that participate and also to the, "Gift to Pacifica Fund." Fog Fest strives to lessen its environmental footprint by moving toward zero waste. In addition, free secured bicycle parking is available. Locals are encouraged to ride a bike in with family and 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 28 - 29, 2013
City of Pacifica, Along Palmetto Ave.
Between Shell Street and Montecito Street

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hollister, CA: Northern California Renaissance Faire

Every year, in the Hollister, CA fall there is the loud bustling at the Casa de Fruta, of the Northern California Renaissance Faire

Our little village of Willingtown comes to life as our annual Market Faire welcomes talented and exotic performers from throughout the globe to our streets and stages.

The Entertainment is non stop all day. The streets and stages boast music and dance from traditional Morris and English Country, to Celtic and Gypsy Tribal. Swashbuckling sword fighters render women defenseless with their charm and skill. Come celebrate the harvest with us as the streets and pathways of our village come to life!

Our marketplace of master artisans offer the latest designs and finest hand work in blown glass, keen blades, armor and chain mail, romantic clothing, leather-work, woodwork, hand wrought jewelry, sculpture and much, much more. Stop to play a game of darts, sip an ale or sink your teeth into delicious fare while perusing the fine crafts displayed throughout the shire. Then, sit, relax and watch a show on one of our beautiful stages located throughout the marketplace or interact with some of the locals before heading on. 

For those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the complete faire experience we recommend wearing a costume. If you don't have one of your own, you can rent one just inside our gates. Come join us for our themed weekends. Fairies, Masquerades and pirates are great costumes for adults and children.

 Come join us on the weekends, from September 14 thru October 13, 2013. Email for any questions or visit our site for more information.

View Larger Map

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sacramento, CA: Sacramento Comedy Festival’s Host Hotel, Vagabond Inn Executive

This September, Sacramento travelers and locals alike will celebrate comedic genius at the 3rd annual Sacramento Comedy Festival with 8-days of laughs at the Sacramento Comedy Spot. The festival features a mix of national stand-up comedians, improv groups, sketch comedy shows, live podcast recordings and a stand-up comedy competition.

The Sacramento Comedy Festival starts Friday Sept. 13 and continues through Saturday Sept. 21. The festival was created in 2011 by Brian Crall, comedian and owner of The Sacramento Comedy Spot, and has grown from a 4-day event to a full 8-day festival in just three years. This year, the stand-up competition has been added to give comics from all over the US the chance to compete for a $1000 grand prize.

For this year’s festival, Vagabond Inn Executive Sacramento-Old Town will serve as the host hotel and is offering special rates with mention of “Sacramento Comedy Festival” while making a reservation. The 108-room hotel, located just off I-5 and a half a black from Old Town Sacramento, is a 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner.

At the Vagabond Inn Executive, guests receive a free daily breakfast, free WiFi, a heated pool, spa, fitness room and comfortable, updated rooms. Also, for added convenience, there is a restaurant on the premises and a complimentary shuttle to Sacramento International Airport, train and bus stations and free parking for all guests.

View Larger Map

Vagabond Inn Executive Sacramento-Old Town
909 Third St.
Sacramento CA, 95814
Vagabond Inn
(916) 446-1481.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sausalito, CA: Sausalito Artists at Work

Labor Day Weekend meet more than 20 artists as they work in their San Francisco bay side studios at the free Sausalito Artists @ Work event. While many artists around the country open their doors to the public, this event is different, as you will have the opportunity to see art being made. Observing art as it happens builds a connection between the viewer, the artist, and art object; offering the viewer insight into the motivations for the work.

Explore inside the ICB Art Studios August 31st, September 1st and 2nd from 11am to 6pm for this yearly event. Visitors will have the opportunity to observe each artist's unique approach to the creative process. Visitors will discover artists working in a variety of media including; painting, sculpture, stained glass and digital arts.

"A growing number of my collectors purchase pieces they have observed in process. I think many
people like to meet the artist in person before making their purchase", says Sausalito Artist @ Work, Sue Averell. Most of the Sausalito Artists welcome visitors throughout the year by appointment. If your Labor Day Weekend plans are full, contact the studios to schedule a studio visit with your favorite artists.

For the 6th year in a row Sausalito Artists @ Work open their studios Labor Day Weekend. The ICB Art Studios are a 10 minute walk from the Sausalito Art Festival and a 15 minute drive from San Francisco. Stroll the halls of the ICB Art Studios and discover artists creating new and fascinating works of art.

The ICB Art Studios are home to almost 100 artists and offer visitors the opportunity to see inside the working studios of some of the Bay Area's most talented artists. Nestled close to the San Francisco Bay, toward the North end of Sausalito, is this landmark historic building, steeped in the area's ship building roots, and rekindled by the creative juices of a vibrant community of artists.

View Larger Map

Sausalito Artists @ Work
Labor Day Weekend 2013
The ICB Art Studios
480 Gate Five Road, Sausalito
Saturday, Sunday & Monday
August 31, September 1, 2
11am to 6pm

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Long Beach, CA: The Queen Mary Delicious Chili & Brewfest 9.1

1st Year Culinary and Craft Beer Festival Added to the Ship’s Labor Day Weekend Event Lineup

The Queen Mary is pleased to announce the inaugural Delicious Chili & Brewfest will be joining the exciting list of events planned on the ship and surrounding grounds over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The first-year festival will take place on Sunday, Sept. 1 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Queen Mary’s beautiful Waterfront Events Park and celebrate the best in culinary and local breweries.

Delicious Chili & Brewfest will present various local food and craft beer vendors and an extreme chili cook-off featuring some of the best Southern California chefs. Chefs interested in participating in the chili cook-off can obtain more information and submit to compete in the event online here. Delicious will also offer live entertainment and a family friendly Kid’s Country where the little ones can keep busy with obstacle courses, a bounce house, games, face painting and much more.

General admission tickets for Delicious Chili & Brewfest start at just $10. VIP experiences are available beginning at $39 and include early VIP admission, a souvenir mug, five tasting tickets and access to a VIP lounge.

Delicious Chili & Brewfest is just one of the many special events planned at the Queen Mary over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The festivities begin with the Art Deco Festival, celebrating the opulence of “The Great Gatsby” era, Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. Shoreline Jam music festival follows with Pepper, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds and more artists performing on Saturday, Aug. 31. The Delicious Chili & Brewfest will then premier on Sun., Sept. 1. More information and tickets to all of the holiday events and activities at the Queen Mary can be found by visiting The Queen Mary online.

View Larger Map

The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
Information: (877) 342-0738
Hotel Reservations: (877) 342-0742

Saturday, July 20, 2013

San Diego, CA: 5th San Diego Spirits Festival August 24-25

San Diego Spirits Festival and San Diego Cocktail Week highlight the cocktail and culinary community and the talented bartenders and chefs who are shaking up San Diego’s vibrant scene. Its all about Cocktails, Culinary and Culture set on San Diego Bay! San Diego Spirits Festival is all about Lifestyle, make San Diego your Lifestyle Destination and Join for Year 5!

SHAKE it UP at the end of summer in San Diego, August 24-25, with a fresh and booming cocktail and culinary scene at the San Diego Spirits Festival! The preeminent West Coast COCKTAIL CULINARY and CULTURAL event where the world of CRAFT spirits, high profile liquors and fine cuisine unite overlooking a sun-drenched San Diego Bay and make a huge splash! You know it's bound to be a party when MÖTLEY CRÜE front man VINCE NEIL showcases his Tatuado Vodka at the San Diego Spirits Festival with a spectacular launch.

This one of a kind weekend, held at the spacious Port Pavilion, brings together hundreds of distinct liquors and gourmet morsels in a festive and fun loving environment. Sample any of the spirits you come across, whetting your whistle with tasty tequilas, raucous rums, magnetic moonshines, vivacious vodkas, genteel gins, wild whiskeys, marvelous mezcals, and more.

Need to fill up a bit? Delicious cuisine is on hand for your culinary needs as well. During the day, witness cocktail battles, pitting expert bartenders against one another, along with chef/bartender battles, burlesque shows, samba dancers and even a craft beer section.

For information or to get your all Inclusive tickets with UNLIMITED TASTINGS visit San Diego Spirits Festival.

View Larger Map

San Diego Spirits Festival
Contact Liz Edwards
5580 La Jolla Blvd, #436 La Jolla CA 92037
Venue - San Diego Spirits Festival
Port Pavilion On Broadway Pier
1000 N. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101