Redding, CA: Shape Up In Shasta Cascade

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

Long Beach CA: Hotel Maya

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

Murphys, CA: Murphys Haunted Hotel

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

San Diego, CA: The Keating Hotel

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

Arrowhead, CA: Mountain Swimming Hole

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hollywood, CA: Museum of Death

If you are already in Los Angeles on a cruise of MulhollandDrive, take a detour to Hollywood Blvd if you really want to feel alive. There, near the corner of Hollywood and Gower St, is the Museum of Death. It was established in June 1995 by J. D. Healy and Catherine Shultz with the museum's stated goal being "to make people happy to be alive". The Museum of Death is a self-guided tour, lasting approximately 45 minutes to an hour, but those who can stomach it stay as long as they like.

The Museum of Death houses the world's largest collection of serial murderer artwork, photos of the Charles Manson crime scenes, the guillotined severed head of the Blue Beard of Paris (Henri Landru), original crime scene and morgue photos from the grisly Black Dahlia murder, a body bag and coffin collection, replicas of full size execution devices, mortician and autopsy instruments, pet death taxidermy, and so much more!

For more information, visit their website

Monday, December 22, 2014

Los Angeles, CA: Mulholland Drive and The Rock Store

If you are looking for a cruise this weekend, take a trip into Los Angeles and ride Mulholland Drive.  This 21 mile, mostly two lane road runs through the east side of the Santa Monica Mountains. Just off the 405 Freeway, filled with beautiful California landscapes, it has stunning views with some turn offs to enjoy the  Los Angeles Basin, the San Fernando Valley, and the Hollywood Sign. And while you are on your way stop off halfway between Malibu and Calabasas, enjoy a brew at The Rock Store.

The Rock Store is one of the most famous motorcyclist and biker hangouts in the world.  It's the perfect place to come by bike or by car for breakfast or lunch and a drink on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. Among the attractions are the rustic settings, celebrity sightings, hundreds of bikes to look at and the food and drinks. The Rock Store is most popular for their hefty breakfasts, BBQ tri-tip sandwiches, teriyaki chicken sandwiches, homemade chili and more and don't forget those ice cold beverages.

For more information, visit The Rock Store online. Pictures courtesy of their website. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vacaville, Ca: The Vacaville Museum

In the rolling hills just west of Sacramento Valley is Vacaville. This town, nestled in the hills is off the 99 freeway, just an hour from San Francisco, and within minutes of the Napa and Sonoma wine countries.

If you want to soak in some of the local art, there are a few places you can go. The Vacaville Museum, a Center for Solano County History, has the current exhibit, Serigrafia, designs from California’s silkscreen master printmakers.  Only $3 for adults to tour the museum Tuesday through Friday. Vacaville is also becoming known for its Public Art, located throughout the community. Some of the best places to find public art in Vacaville are in the downtown, at City Hall, and at the Vacaville Cultural Center. And while you are downtown, pick up a brew at TJs Tavern.

If you are in the mood for something a little richer, visit the BackDoor Bistro. At BackDoor Bistro, they emphasize local and sustainable cuisine and offer a variety of wine selections. Balanced plates and local music create a great atmosphere for gathering after a nice ride. Join them for their Happy Hour from 5 to 7.

For more information about these places, visit their websites. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Boonville, CA: The Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Founded in 1987, the Anderson Valley Brewing Company brews some of the smoothest ales around in the small town of Boonville, CA, less than 150 miles north of San Francisco or west of Sacramento. It is a great ride either right up the 128 Anderson Valley Highway or the 101 freeway to the winding 253 Highway to get into town.

In 1996, the Anderson Valley Brewing company built their current 30-barrel facility at the corner of Highways 128 and 253, a mile from the center of Boonville. They give daily tours of the brewery and the three-story Bavarian-style brew house every afternoon. And don’t miss the Tap House open daily from 11am to 6pm (7pm on Fridays). In addition to the brewery grounds, which include picnic groves, horse pastures, and a famous disc golf course, the Tap Room is where Anderson Valley residents and friends of the brewery come to meet. The Tap Room has beers you won’t find outside of the brewery too.

If you want to stay the night, look up the Boonville Hotel. With fifteen unique rooms, from family suite to just-for-two, top floor of the hotel or set apart, there is something for everyone’s needs. Visit their family style restaurant, Table 128. They serve family style, prix fixe meals that delight and satisfy with menus inspired by whim and season. The wine bar has a number of unique and reasonable wines from abroad. The bar opens daily at 11am so stop by for a hot or cold drink, by the fire or in the garden.

For more information about Anderson Valley Brewing Company, their events and where to find their brew, visit their website. Also, to find more information a room at the Boonville Hotel, visit them online. Pictures courtesy of Anderson Valley Brewing Company. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Huntington Beach, CA: The Cruise of Lights

For those of you in the holiday spirit, take a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Huntington Harbour.  On December 13 and 14 they will have the 52 annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, themed “Music in Paradise” this year, kicking off the annual event, The Cruise of Lights.

From December 17 to the 23, take a ride on a boat through the harbor and see the entire glory.  Hundreds of boats, decks, docks and homes decorated in thousands of lights all through the holiday season.  A 45-minute narrated boat tour through the sparkling waterways of Huntington Harbourwill take you what is called one of the most remarkable holiday light shows on water and voted Top 10 by Coastal Magazine.

And while you are there, stop into the Red Table Gastrobar, with their edgy interpretation of comfort food. The menu is comfortably priced with interesting yet approachable items intended to share and savor. Craft beers and outstanding wines have been selected to compliment the distinctive menu items and enhance the dining experience.

The tours leave from the parking lot of the Huntington Harbour Mall. For more information visit the HuntingtonHarbour Boat Parade, The Cruise of Lights and Red Table on their websites. Pictures courtesy of The Cruise of Lights. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Indio, CA - Indio International Tamale Festival

Next weekend take a trip to the 23rd annual Indio International Tamale Festival on December 6-7, 2014. Right off of Highway 111, in Old Town Indio, this festival is a favorite for many. Food Network-TV has ranked it in the top 10 "All-American Food Festivals" in the nation. No matter your taste in entertainment, this festival is sure to please. And best of all it is free to the public!

Wind through the streets of Miles, Towne, Smurr and Requa to see the entire splendor. The festival begins with the Parade at 10 am on Saturday, featuring boxing champ Randy Caballero as Grand Marshall, riding with Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos and also see Santa on an antique fire truck at the end. Also view some of the show cars that will be featured during the 2nd annual Car Show that accompanies the festival. Take a trip down Requa st to view and judge for yourself in seven different categories. Sunday afternoon, trophies will be awarded to the winners.

If you have a bottomless stomach, sign up for the annual tamale eating contest. The reigning champ since 2009, Charles G. Bill, Jr, is looking for challengers. You can sign up for that at any one of the stages that will have entertainment. Live music, dancing, singing, juggling, and other diverse performances will be held on one of the five stages available. Stay and watch the Best Tamale Contest where last year’s champion, Texifornia Tamale Co., will again be vying for the title. A carnival will be open until 10pm each night too, providing rides and games to play. Original art work, including painting, photography, sculpture, and textiles from at least 25 artists will be on display and for sale.  Guests can enjoy wine tasting in the wine lounge, and beer from Coachella Valley Brewery will also be available in an adjoining beer garden.

For more information, visit the Indio International Tamale Festival website. Pictures courtesy of

Monday, November 24, 2014

Santa Monica, CA- Santa Monica Pier

With the winter months coming in, the beach cities see a decrease in foot traffic. But places like Santa Monica have so much more to offer than just its warm sandy beaches during the summer. Home of the real “Popeye”, Olaf C. Olsen, the Santa Monica Pier is rich in history. Constructed is 1909, it was an instant success as the first ever concrete pier; it has since collapsed and been rebuilt. In 1975, when council members threatened to demolish, Santa Monica voters declared the pier safe and voted in a proposition that saved the pier forever. A reconstruction commenced in the late 1980s and completed in the early 1990s.

Now here stands this great monument in the ocean, topped with a variety of retail, dining, and entertainment attractions, as well as a police substation and the world-class amusement park, Pacific Park. Enjoy a dozen rides, midway games, ocean front specialty food outlets and seaside shopping. Underneath the pier is the Santa Monica Aquarium. They have more than 100 species of marine animals and plants that can all be found in the Santa Monica Bay. With tons of hands on exhibits and so much to see, the aquarium is a great place to go for an afternoon.

If you want to pick up ale, a small walk around the corner is The Common Ale House. Every table has a Connect Four and Jenga to encourage socializing and free popcorn for customers. It is the perfect place to enjoy the nightlife of the pier after dark.

For more information, visit all of their websites. Picture courtesy of Pacific Park. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scotia, CA

Stop in Scotia and fall in love with the 19th century charm, the authentic architecture, the unsoiled beauty and sense of history, like a step back in time. Take a trip through the Scotia Logging Museum, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The museum has artifacts, videos and interactive technology, offering a personal tour of forestry management and the Town of Scotia over the years.

The Avenue of the Giants, located on State Route 254, is considered to be a scenic alternate to Highway 101 and winds its way through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This road was originally built as a stagecoach and wagon road in the 1880s. During this time the first Inn was put up in the town of Scotia. This stagecoach hub was constructed when the highway was the main road and burned down in the early 1900s. It was rebuilt in 1923. Now called the Scotia Inn, the building has 22 lovely rooms decorated with antique and modern furniture. On the main floor, enjoy a drink at the Irish Pub.

If you are looking to go out for the night, the nearby town of Fortuna has its own brewery, Eel River Brewing Company. Living by their motto, “Be Natural. Drink Naked.” they became the first certified organic brewery in the United States, and has won over 300 awards and medals. Their legendary beer is worth a taste.

For more information on Scotia, visit their website. Photos courtesy of Scotia Inn. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Morro Bay, CA

Take a ride up the Pacific Coast Highway and visit one of the nicest beach towns in central California. The seaside village of Morro Bay is a getaway for travelers seeking a gorgeous natural setting. Located along scenic Highway 1 midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Morro Bay is a beautiful ride and not far off the beaten
path. Once you experience the beauty and charm , not to mention the fun you’ll have just plain relaxing, you will have a hard time going home. Visit the beautiful Morro Bay Rock on the beach to take in the real splendor of this town.

Before you move on, be sure to stop into Fish Bonez, a new seafood restaurant in the middle of downtown Morro Bay. Fish Bonez specializes in fusion cuisine that pairs Italian, Asian and Mexican influences and merges them together with California's freshest seafood, steak, lamb, chicken as well as some of California’s best wines.

But if you are really looking for a good wine, check out the hottest new wine bar on the Central Coast, STAX Wine Bar and Bistro. Choose from over 100 local and international wines. Enjoy daily tastings, and wine by the glass, as well as panini sandwiches, gourmet meats and cheese plates. Be sure to stop in for the live entertainment that they have weekly.

For more information about Morro Bay, Fish Bonez or STAXWine Bar and Bistro, visit their websites.Picture courtesy of The City of Morro Bay.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ramona CA-Oktoberfest

Looking for a reason to get out for the weekend? Music, food, wine and of course, beer will be on tap for Ramona's third annual Oktoberfest on October 4th. Oktoberfest means "celebration of the harvest" and this year there will be plenty to celebrate. The event will feature traditional Bavarian accordion musicians, a beer garden, stocked by Stone Brewery of Escondido and a wine garden showcasing local Ramona wines. Traditional Bavarian food, such as brats and pretzels, will also be available.

Enjoy a long ride through the mountain pass on your way. There is plenty of fun for adults with horseshoes and more contests. And don’t miss the car show and more than 70 commercial and craft vendors that will be on there.

Military and children under 10 get in fir free and $10 admission for everyone else. For more information, visit their website at the Ramona Chamber.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Folsom CA- Folsom Historic DIstrict

If you are looking for a nice ride off the beat and path, take a trip to Folsom, CA. Johnny Cash once wrote of this town in his album "At Folsom Prison" to regain popularity in his career, but there is much more than a correctional facility there now. The Folsom Historic District has more than 80 businesses, including restaurants, art galleries, live theater, museums, antique stores and specialty shops. With at least one event happening every month, Historic Folsom is the place to visit for events and festivals! The diverse event schedule includes Live Entertainment, Art Walks, Car Shows, Antique Fairs, Craft Fairs and wonderful community events throughout the year!

For example there is the Folsom History Museum. The Museum is operated by the Folsom Historical Society, located in historic downtown Folsom. It is the home to a wonderful collection of artifacts and treasures that chronicle the settlement and development of the Folsom area. You'll see fascinating and educational exhibits throughout the year along with special events highlighting the Gold Rush era and Folsom. The History Museum focuses on exhibits about Folsom's native people, the discovery of gold and the formation of mining camps, ethnic groups who contributed to the area, the formation of the town, railroad, prison, powerhouse, and later efforts at gold mining.

You might also like the stay a night at the Folsom Hotel and Saloon. This hotel, previously named the New Western Hotel, was built by Charles Zimmerman. The hotel’s Completion was marked by the installation of the back bar mirror. Samuel Levits, the maker of the mirror, accompanied it on it’s journey to California. Eager to start his new life in the silver mines of Virginia City, he persuaded Zimmerman to give him the hotel keys so that he could work through the night to install the mirror. While cutting the mirror, Levits was cut severely and he died before dawn. Although dead, he still resides in the hotel. Many nights, Levits can still be heard in the bar kicking the keys toward the locked front door in an effort to get out and get help. Levits is not alone in the Folsom Hotel either. Camille, an aloof woman who once served Zimmerman as a maid and cook in payment for her son’s education, is still present. She continues to help the present owners tidy up in the early morning hours, spending most of her time in the dining room and kitchen.

Come enjoy entertainment, history and fun in Folsom. For more information about the Folsom Historic District, Folsom History Museum or the Folsom Hotel and Saloon, visit their websites.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

San Pedro, CA: The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival

From September 12th to the 14th, 2014, enjoy one of the world’s largest lobster festivals; The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival, winner of four Guinness World Records and the “2013 OUTSTANDING CORPORATE CITIZEN AWARD”.  It features fresh discount Maine lobster meals flown in fresh daily and cooked on the spot, and plenty of free entertainment. After feasting on the world famous lobster meals, guests enjoy dancing, street performers, a pirate camp, tall ships, shopping for arts and crafts, and musical performances by some of today’s best up-and-coming acts. Accompanied by a music festival all weekend, “Lobsterfest” is the place for you and your taste buds to be.
A one day pass for an adult is only $10 but don’t think you can’t bring the kids. Children under 12 are free.
If you want to splurge for the $41 First Class Tickets you will get weekend admission, one guaranteed Maine lobster meal, front line privileges for Meal line and Bar all weekend and one beverage. In the VIP Dining Area you will enjoy your delicious wild-caught Maine lobster, cole slaw, potatoes, rolls, buttery dipping sauce, and a wedge of watermelon.
Lobster lovers enjoy a scenic outdoor park along LA’s historic waterfront, and shops at Ports O’ Call Village at the intersection of 6th Street and Harbor Drive. We are easy to find at the end of the 110 Harbor Freeway in San Pedro, California, only 20 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles. There is plenty of free parking and buses will be shuttling guests from the free parking areas at no charge.
Come for the feast and stay for the fun. For more information about Lobsterfest, visit their website.

Friday, April 18, 2014

San Bernardino, CA-Hempcon

On Friday, April 18th and continuing on through the weekend, Hempcon is one of California’s biggest medical marijuana shows being held at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. They cater to those who may be benefited from the medical use of marijuana*. This will be one of the premiere events of the year with a huge amount of exhibits including medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, care givers, evaluation services, legal services, educational institutes, equipment, accessories, and much more.
Hempcon isn’t just for smokers though. It will be an educational event as well with a full weekend of seminars and presentations by industry leaders, advocates, and attorneys.  This convention is great for people wanting to learn more about the legal and medical side of marijuana. Doctors will be on hand to give evaluations and their opinions to weather medical marijuana is right for you or someone you know. Whether you are a patient or someone who wants to get educated more about medical marijuana, you have got to be there. Also you can come and enjoy some of the music entertainment provided by some well-known marijuana advocates. Tickets start at $20 at the door. For more information and a list of entertainers, visit the Hempcon website.

*All medical marijuana consumption is prohibited unless you provide proof of your medical recommendation from a doctor in accordance with PROPOSITION 215, the California Compassionate Use Act.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Los Angeles CA: MYTH Masquerade Ball

Have you ever wanted to attend a real decadent Faerie Tale Ball?

This is the MYTH Masque: an exquisite, transformational experience that fires the imagination and elevates the senses. High fashion meets high fantasy. In the spirit of MYTH, dismiss your mortal skin in favor of a truer form. The boundaries of reality are laughably defied as you become the impossible, through expression and costuming of the highest creative caliber. For one spectacular night, the chimerical energy you invoke is no fiction. This is make-believe, all grown up
. One might encounter a magnificent wolf, be beguiled by nymphs or ride an eight foot tall rocking unicorn.  MYTH Masque is a veritable feast for the senses that challenges its attendees to become 'A myth of their own making'.

The first two annual MYTH Masquerades debuted to enthusiastic crowds of award-winning costume designers, makeup-artists, avant-garde fashionistas and other wildly creative attendees. On May 24th, for its Third Annual Affair, MYTH spreads its wings at the spectacular Los Angeles Theatre, to present: ‘Thrice Upon a Dream’.  MYTH will transform the magnificent Film Palace into a playground for visionaries wishing to immerse themselves in a wonderland of inspiration.  Guests may escape into a night of dreams that offers an array of amazing visuals, music, dancing, live performances, drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and other tantalizing treats. 

Unique highlights of the Third Annual MYTH Masquerade Ball include 'Sanctuary of the Sirens,' wherein guests are invited to mingle with the Mermaids of MYTH. Music, artistry, dancers, and performance forge an elegant dreamscape of enchanted revelry where legend and inspiration come to play. These showcases of spectacles are able to weave themselves into the fabric of the fantasy. Masque guests can expect Electronica, 80s, Medieval and other styles of music that focus on instrumentation and expression. Energetic, well-known dance music will also fill the grand halls of the Los Angeles Theatre. Earlier in the evening, guests will enjoy a set of elegant Waltzes, as any formal ball should have. The dark-hearted denizens will dance to deliciously tenebrous tunes in the Chambre du Vampire, our exclusive vampire club, where guests can explore the darker, more seductive side of the ball, deep within the shadowy recesses of the Masquerade.

VIP Passport holders are escorted to the 'purple carpet' by Unicorn-drawn carriage, and formally heralded upon arrival in true regal fashion.  The VIP Reception also includes early evening entertainment, complimentary drinks from our Sponsors, a special champagne service by live Mermaids, as well as gourmet cupcakes and other enticing bites.  Our most esteemed guests will enjoy exclusive access to secluded VIP Lounges on each level of the Theatre.

Attendees will also discover imaginative and interactive photo-op areas throughout the Masquerade, in which to showcase their brilliant costumes and indulge their inner child. Formal portraits in the gorgeous Baroque Los Angeles Theatre are available, and enter your own impressive costume creations into a $500 First Place "Costumers' Challenge," with 2015 MYTH Masque tickets as additional prizes. Costumes (or black tie/formal attire with a mask) are required for this upscale affair.

Tickets are on sale online. Visit the site for a list of entertainers and more information. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales are donated to BUSTED FOUNDATION, an organization that supports breast cancer victims who are unable to cover the costs of treatment.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum -Simi Valley, CA

In a storied career that spanned more than five decades, Ronald Reagan inspired Americans to act and achieve even more than they imagined. His legacy thrives at The Reagan Library where events and exhibits rediscover his values, actions and spirit of determination.
The Reagan Library rests on a majestic hill overlooking the breath-taking topography of Southern California in the Simi Valley.  The 100-acre campus, with picturesque views reaching out to the Pacific Ocean, lush gardens, and a serene setting, pays tribute to one of the nation’s most beloved leaders.
While at the Reagan Library, enjoy the fresh air as you stroll through the Library’s replicas of the White House’s Rose Garden and White House South Lawn.  Or come in the early evening and witness the spectacular sunsets from the Library’s hilltop, and see for yourself why President Reagan felt so at home on the Library’s grounds. 
The renovated Museum experience integrates hundreds of artifacts, over 50% never before seen, and dozens of interactive displays.  These 18 galleries pay tribute to America’s 40th president and his accomplishments by capturing his patriotic spirit, his respect for individual liberty, his belief in global democracy and his support of economic opportunity.
When you visit the Reagan Library, you have to visit the Air Force One Pavilion. There you will step aboard this same Air Force One that flew President Reagan over 660,000 miles – to 26 foreign countries and 46 U.S.states – and you will learn how he changed the face of global diplomacy. But the Air Force One Pavilion is about more than just his plane. View one of his presidential limousines and secret service suburbans as part of an exhibit on presidential motorcades. Experience the actual Irish pub from Ballyporeen, Ireland he visited on a diplomatic trip in 1984 which now sits within the Pavilion and serves as the Library’s snack shop. Explore a 120’ mural which represents all 22 aircraft that has ever flown a U.S. president. Walk around an actual Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson
Another attraction at the Library is the Berlin Wall. On April 12, 1990, President Ronald Reagan stood next to a 6,338 pound, 9 ½ foot tall piece of the Berlin Wall that had just arrived for display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. With colorful graffiti featuring a large butterfly on its “West” side and the stark grey concrete showing on its “East” side, President Reagan remarked, “Let our children and grandchildren come here and see this wall and reflect on what it meant to history. Let them understand that only vigilance and strength will deter tyranny.”
Since receiving the Wall, President Reagan’s wish has come true – millions of visitors, including hundreds of thousands of school children, have visited the Wall at the Reagan Library and learned its lesson of freedom and democracy for all.
Following his passing on June 5, 2004, President Ronald Reag
an was laid to rest at the Reagan Library in a Memorial Site made of granite on June 11, 2004.
And starting on April 4th, 2014, just in time for the opening week of Major League Baseball, “Baseball! The Exhibition” opens at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Running through September 4, 2014, “Baseball” is a 12,000 square foot exhibition featuring over 700 artifacts, including some of the rarest, historic and iconic baseball memorabilia from the largest known private collector in the United States. The exhibit displays extraordinary artifacts from Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and scores of other historically important players and organizations. This exhibition will be fun for the entire family.
Come and see these and all our other great exhibits at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065 or visit our website at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Tickets are available online.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sonoma County, CA: Battle of the Brews

Saturday, March 29th at the Grace Pavilion in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds marks the 18th year of the Battle of the Brews fundraiser held by the Active 20-30 club of Santa Rosa. This event has raised nearly $1,000,000 dollars, the proceeds of which have been distributed by our Youth Benevolent Fund to help change the lives of needy children.

The Battle of the Brews includes the People's Choice Main Event along with the return of two phenomenal additions to the lineup -- The Craft Cup, a judged specialty craft brew competition featuring a variety of premier micro-breweries from around the country, and The 'Wich Hunt, highlighting the most delicious sandwiches from local chefs. Plus, all proceeds go directly to helping children in need in Sonoma County.

This year the Battle of the Brews will continue the tradition of the Craft Cup, Sonoma County's largest and newest craft brew competition. Modeled after great beer and microbrew competitions from around the world the Craft Cup is bringing in over dozens of renowned breweries and brewmasters to compete head to head in a juried competition. Industry leading judges will set out to name the true winner of the Battle of the Brews, the Craft Cup Best of Show, along category favorites and winners.
The third annual 'Wich Hunt at Battle of the Brews is an iron-fisted sandwich brawl in which local chefs compete to construct the ultimate carbohydrate-protein-carbohydrate creation. This ain't no pansy cook-off.

From Dagwoods to sliders, artisan BLT's, heroes, hoagies, banh mi, and beyond, the only constraint is being able to fit into the eager maws of our judges and fans. Oh, and taste incredible, because there will be no awards just for showing up. We're looking for off-the-charts, taste-bud exploding, meat-tastic (or alternative proteins), brain-bending creations that really showcase local talent.
During the tasting event, we will also have the inaugural Craft Cup Raffle, live music by Pat Jordan, brewing demonstrations and much more. This exclusive event is open only to sponsors and 500 ticket holders.

Tickets to the 'Wich Hunt event are included in the Craft Cup tasting, and guests will be able to meet the competing chefs and taste their creations for themselves. Tickets for the Craft Cup are $95 and includes the Main Event.

Kicking off at 4pm, the Main Event will host over 50 drafts and food vendors fighting for your vote, while Cover Me Badd takes the main stage. Now in its 18th year, the People's Choice beer competition has become a local favorite celebrating beer, food, and music, all while raising money for at risk children in Sonoma County.

 Main Event tickets are available for $40 online ( Check their websites for locations to also buy tickets.

Sonoma County Fairgrounds
Grace Pavillion
1350 Bennett Valley Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Saturday, February 8, 2014

San Diego, CA: Valentine's Day in South Park

Valentine's Day in San Diego. The day of love is almost upon us, on a Friday, no less, which is awesome, so you better make plans now if you want to reserve a table for two. I’ve been checking around at some of my favorite haunts, and so far I’ve been able to confirm that the following South Park restaurants are honoring Feb. 14 with special menus or heart-felt plans. If you know of a place that’s not listed here and has V-Day plans, do tell.

Brabant Bar & Café

Brabant Bar & Café is going to offer a four-course Valentine’s dinner beginning at 6pm Friday and throughout the weekend while supplies last. It’s $60 a person (that doesn’t count tax and gratuity). They will not be accepting reservations, because they want everyone to take their time and enjoy their time, according to owner Adam Parker. Brabant is on 30th just north of Juniper. Here are the details:

1st course: Croquette with roasted tomato, spinach and farmer’s cheese
2nd course: Salad with pickled greens, roasted beets, and creme fraische with brown ale and sherry vinaigrette
3rd course (main): You choice of the following:

Waterzooi, which is a traditional Belgian chicken stew
Smoked ruby trout fillet with bearnaise sauce
Grilled rabbit quarters in cherry Kriek sauce (Kriek is style of Belgian beer)
4th course (dessert): Belgian dark chocolate cherry cake OR duo of truffles and profiteroles (cream puffs)

They will also have a Valentine’s cocktail as well as beer specials and Belgian beer pairings available.

Buona Forchetta

Owner Matteo Cattaneo said Buona Forchetta will have its regular menu plus some specials for the ladies, as well as a Valentine’s Day dessert. The big news, however, is the restaurant will take reservations. You can call them at 619-381-4844. Buona Forchetta is on the corner of Beech and 30th. Also, Buona Forchetta celebrates its first anniversary this month, so congratulations!


Alchemy has a four-course meal planned. It’s $65 a person. You can make reservations by going to Open Table, visiting Alchemy online, or calling the restaurant at 619-255-0616. Alchemy is on the corner of Beech and 30th. Here’s the deal:

1st Course:

Sweet potato bisque with carrot caviar, candied potato skin, yogurt, charred red Fresno chili oil

2nd Course

One of the following:

Soba noodle salad (small)
Polpette, aka Italian meatballs (beef, mortadella, rapini, Parmesan)
Mixed grain salad
Fideos (angel hair pasta, tomato, piquillo pepper, little neck clams, chorizo seco, saffron)
3rd Course

One of the following:

Vegan steak and bone marrow (smoked portabello, roasted garlic mashed potato, roasted zucchini, vegetable demi)
Dover sole with lemon grass broth, baby yellow beets, baby bok choy, shrimp dumplings
Moroccan duck (seared breast, stewed chickpeas, olives, tomato, preserved kumquat, duck merguez sausage, currant and almond cous cous, tangerine lace, mint olive oil)
4th Course

One of the following:

Pithviers (vanilla pastry cream, hand- made puff pastry, blueberries, whipped cream)
Nutella panna cotta
Pomegranate sorbet

Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro

Eclipse has a four-course “Sweetheart Dinner” for $45 a person on Feb. 14 and 15. Seatings are 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Call 619-578-2984 for reservations. Eclipse is on the corner of Ivy and Fern. It’s also celebrating its first anniversary at its South Park location. Yay!

The meal includes the following:

A caramelized shallot and crème-filled, cocoa-butter buckwheat crepe with Burgandy mushroom
French onion soup with white-chocolate blood-orange olive oil croute and bruleed gruyere
Cocoa beef bourguignon or an heirloom root vegetable ratatouille, both served with orange peel vanilla bean hasselback potato and fried sage
Chile-burnt caramel apple tarte tartin with vanilla bean ice cream bombe.
There’s also an optional starter.

Go to the Eclipse web site to for more information.

The Rose Wine Pub

Sip on wine and play with glue sticks and glitter at their third annual Valentines’ Day Craft Party. How fun is that? You can probably make your honey a card right there at the bar. You’ll find The Rose at 2219 30th St.

If you know of other places in South Park with cool V-Day plans, please share!

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.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

For an amazing meal at the top of the Mount San Jacinto State Park take a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Enjoy spectacular views from the Mountain Station, catch a glimpse of animals of the State Park at the Natural History Museum rest your feet as you watch two documentaries on the Tramway and the State Park.

Spectacular views combined with delectable food provide the perfect dining experience. There are two dining options at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Peaks, a fine dining experience with a breathtaking view of the Coachella Valley and Pines Café, a cafeteria-style restaurant. Both restaurants are open for lunch and dinner.

The chefs have created a menu featuring a variety of fresh vegetables and greens from the Coachella Valley, dry aged meats and poultry along with fresh breads from local bakeries. Additional selections will include market fresh seafood and pastas. Children's menu available.
Reservations are always recommended so call (760) 325-4537 ahead of time.

For less formal dining visit the Pines Café. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers a special Ride ‘N’ Dinner combination ticket for the Pines Café. The Ride ‘n’ Dinner combination ticket is available for purchase from 4pm and dinner available from 4:30pm daily. To enjoy just a beverage, the Lookout Lounge is available as well.

Any time of year is a great time to ride the Tramway and visit the peaks. Activities include:

Winter Activities:
Winter Adventure Center
Cross-Country Skiing
Family Snow Fun
Snow Camping

Summer Activities:
Wilderness Permits
Guided Nature Walks

The temperature differential between the valley floor and the top of the Tram is usually about 30 degrees and the Tram Weather Station is a great way to help you decide whether or not you need that sweater. For more information visit Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to plan your visit.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262
General information recording please call (760) 325-1391
Monday-Friday first Tram up 10am
Last Tram up 8pm Last Tram down 9:45pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays first Tram up 8am

Monday, January 27, 2014

Solvang, CA: Taste of Solvang

The ideal place to refresh and relax, this Danish village offers a variety of things to do, see and eat. Satisfy every shopping desire in art galleries, clothing and shoe boutiques, gift and antique stores. Delight in delicious meals, from Danish specialties to gourmet wine-country cuisine, as well as international and classic American favorites, perfect for any palate.

Take the kids to pick apples, walnuts and berries direct from the branch, or learn about the area’s rich multi-cultural heritage at prominent museums and the 1804 Old Mission Santa Inés, a national historic landmark. When your feet are weary and your palate satisfied, check into one of the 30 inns, lodges or luxury resorts, whichever one meets your specific needs.

Taste of Solvang ~ March 12 - 16, 2014

Take a culinary journey through Solvang where the wine meets the food. In its 22nd year, The Taste of Solvang has become a top destination event for wine and food lovers alike. Featuring something for everyone from Rustic Italian, to New American, Japanese, Award-Winning Breweries, World Class Wineries, and Farm-to-Table Chefs; the Taste of Solvang offers a menu of events that is sure to please! Visit their website for more information and advanced tickets.

Photo Credit ~ Trip Advisor

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Irvine, CA: Irvine Restaurant Week

From international flair to American classic, Irvine Restaurant Week offers a variety of dining options for families, date nights, business occasions and more. Food lovers have an opportunity to experience the City's diverse dining January 10-16, 2014. The seven-day celebration features prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) at more than 30 participating restaurants.

Irvine Restaurant Week is being held in conjunction with California Restaurant Month. More than 30 destinations across the state, from the desert and coast to wine country and High Sierra, are participating in the month-long celebration of the state's culinary offerings. Now is your best chance to discover new restaurants and appreciate all of your favorites at a discounted price. From international flair to American classic, Irvine offers a variety of dining options for families, date nights, business occasions and more.

For more information visit Irvine Restaurant Week's website.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Highway One, CA: Eureka to San Diego

Experience an interactive journey of Highway One together with a couple of travelers. Seated in a '59 classic Cadillac Eldorado, you'll drive from the Redwood Highway in Northern California through Fort Bragg, San Francisco, Morro Bay and into Los Angeles and San Diego, stopping in a few places along the way.

Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this sea-hugging road winds its way down the USA’s western coastline. It’s a way to see the best of California and everything this state has to offer: not just golden beaches, but towering redwood forests, national parks, and glittering cities.

You can take your own virtual Highway One, which will start here.

1. Eureka
To get outdoors here, explore the rugged Lost Coast Trail for an easy, enjoyable hike which leads to some picturesque look-outs. Architecture buffs will love the 1880s Carson Mansion, and the Blur Ox Millworks offer an insight into the Victorian era of Eureka. Self-guided tours take you past tradespeople demonstrating the old-fashioned techniques of milling and carpentry.

2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
One of the most amazing attractions in the whole of the USA, you won’t easily forget a drive along the Avenue of the Giants. The park is famed for its coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), many of which grow to over 90m in height. Over 100 of the 137 known trees 110m tall live in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

3. San Francisco
Try and spend a few days here to take a break from your drive to really get a feel for this unique city. Wander around Union Square – the heart of the city – before exploring the alleys of Chinatown and stopping for lunch on North Beach. Don’t miss noisy Fisherman’s Wharf or pretty Telegraph Hill.

4. Malibu
For many, Malibu is quintessential California, bursting with surfer dudes and beach babes to rival the stars of Baywatch. Muscle Beach is the spot to see the locals pumping iron and Zuma Beach is typically Malibu. In Zuma, the hills meet the ocean and there are some great spots to eat freshly caught seafood. The Malibu Family Wines vineyard is open for tastings, yours and food for something a little different.

5. Morro Bay
The landmark Morro Rock sits astride the pretty bay here - a turban-shaped, extinct volcanic cone about 23 million years old and inhabited by rare peregrine falcons. The Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History is a top spot to visit for a few hours. Or wander around the bay, keeping your eyes peeled for great blue herons and monarch butterflies from October to March.

6. Point Lobos State Reserve
This 550-acre seaside park boasts an assortment of coves, headlands, meadows, tide pools, and the nation's first undersea ecological reserve. Well-marked trails lead past Monterey cypresses, hundreds of species of birds and mammals include black-tailed deer, gray foxes, sea otters, and sea lions. Migrating gray whales are often spotted from land from December through April as they migrate.

7. Big Sur
Big Sur extends 90 miles south to San Simeon. Redwoods soar up to the sky and mountains plunge into the sea. There are lots of great inns and restaurants to stop at with great character.

8. La Jolla
Meaning ‘the jewel’ in Spanish, this little town is one of California’s prettiest seaside retreats. There are lots of beaches to relax upon - La Jolla Shores is often said to be California's most beautiful - and there are lots of brilliant restaurants to cater for all the visitors.

9. Torrey Pines State Park
Lying between La Jolla and Del Mar, Torrey Pines makes for a scenic stop, with hills and cliffs overlooking the coast and trails leading down to the beach. Continuing north along the coast will take you through the lovely towns of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside, you'll drive right next to the coast and over a few lagoons connected to the ocean.

10. San Diego
San Diego offers many interesting attractions to the visitor in the neighborhoods away from the beach, such as Balboa Park, Downtown and Old Town. Check out Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma for some panoramic views of the coastline, encompassing San Diego, the Bay, and the ocean, and learn about some of the history of the area.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fort Bragg, CA: Mendocino Clinic's 15th Annual Crab & Wine Days & Beer Festival

Mendocino County’s rugged coastline has been home to generations of fishermen who harvest the bounties of our cold, clear Pacific Ocean—and this includes delicious Dungeness crab. And, every January, Mendocino County celebrates this delightful crustacean and locally grown and produced wines and beers with a Festival that delights foodies, oenophiles, and beer lovers alike!

The highlight of the crab season is Mendocino County’s 10-day Crab, Wine & Beer Festival. Enjoy gourmet, crab-themed dinners, family-style crab and cioppino feeds, crab fishing adventures, a Wine Competition showcasing local wines that pair well with crab, and the ever popular Crab Cake Cook-off featuring Mendocino County chefs. Events take place throughout the County, from the inland valleys to the coast.

Discover gourmet restaurants, unique inns, picturesque villages, friendly wineries, majestic redwoods, and rugged seaside. With dozens of events and activities, enjoy the countywide tradition of coming together as a community and indulging in delicious local seafood.

The signature event of the festival, Mendocino Clinic's 15th Annual Crab & Wine Days Cioppino Feed and Crab Cake Cook-off and Wine Competition, a fundraiser for Mendocino Coast Clinics, will be January 24 and 25, 2013. With Dungeness Crab, Mendocino Wines & Brews, online sales for both the Cioppino Dinner & the Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition will be acknowledged by email.

Tomatoes, onions, garlic & seasonings are blended during a long simmer. Hundreds of pounds of fresh Dungeness crab, caught off the North coast and donated by Noyo Harbor's Caito Fisheries fills the giant Crab pot! MCC Staff serves our Cioppino Dinner family-style with tossed salad, Cafe Beaujolais bread for dipping, dessert, locally roasted Thanksgiving Coffee, bibs and lots of napkins! North Coast Brewing Company beer & Mendocino County wines are available in the no-host Crabby Bar.

Cioppino Dinner
WHEN: Friday, January 24, 2014
SEATINGS: 4:30, 6:00 & 8:00 p.m.
VENUE: Historic Pentecost Hall ~ 822 Stewart Street, Fort Bragg
TICKETS: $35/adult; $15/kids 12-6; Under 6 - free

Thousands of succulent crab cakes and wines from America's greenest wine region are the focus of this one of a kind winning combination. Sample hand-crafted crab cakes prepared by Mendocino chefs while sipping Mendocino wines. Participants vie for the Professional Judges' Awards bestowed by a prestigious panel of media headed by Jimmy Im from acclaimed Conde Nast Traveler & Freda Moon from the New York Times. Vote your favorite for the coveted Peoples' Choice Awards and see how you match up.

Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition
WHEN: Saturday, January 25, 2014
TIME: Noon - 3:00 p.m.
VENUE: In the Big White Tent
at the Corner of Main & Spruce Streets, Fort Bragg
TICKETS: $85/adult - General Admission
$125/adult Circle of Claws Reserved Seating

For more information about the Mendocino County’s 10-day Crab, Wine & Beer Festival visit Visit Mendocino's website or by calling 1.866.466.3636. For more information on the Mendocino Clinic's 15th Annual Crab & Wine Days Cioppino Feed and Crab Cake Cook-off and Wine Competition, visit Mendocino Coast Clinics website events page.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Redway, CA: Avenue of the Giants

Drive beneath breathtaking pillars of enormous coast redwoods on this 31-mile-long route from Redway to Weott, CA. This world-famous scenic drive of old Highway 101, which parallels Freeway 101 with its 51,222 acres of redwood groves. It is by far the most outstanding display of these giant trees in the entire 500 mile redwood belt and is accessible to all with convenient services provided along the way. The Avenue of the Giants is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Take time to picnic, camp, hike, swim, fish, raft or bike ride in the cool hush of these ancient redwood forests.

One of the great drives in the world, Avenue of the Giants, which parallels U.S. 101 from just north of Garberville to Scotia, leads through an amazing stretch of incredible redwood forest. If you only have time to explore one piece of the spectacular 500-mile redwood belt stretching up California's northern half, then this celebrated route might be the place for you. Parklands protect the stands surrounding you as you twist slowly through this natural wonderland. If you have time, walk the pristine trails of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, protecting the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Don't miss Rockefeller Forest, laced with trails that lead to the 8th, 6th, 4th, and 2nd tallest trees in the world, as well as the ultimate “Champion Coast Redwood," towering some 370 feet overhead.

Inside tip: The route can get crowded in peak summer months. Aim for early morning or evening visits for fewer crowds--and beautiful soft light.

Avenue of the Giants
Weott, CA
Phone: (707) 946-2263

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

San Francisco, CA: Alcatraz Island

Touring the island prison of Alcatraz, you will of it's rich history as well as it's prime nesting habitat.

Civil War fortress, infamous federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement are a few of the stories of the Rock. In the early 1970's the National Park Service, Historic Preservation Division of the Denver Service Center, commissioned historian Erwin N. Thompson to write a Historic Resource Study of Alcatraz Island shortly after the island was transferred to Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

On January 4, 1895, the San Francisco Call published a story under the headline "A Batch of Apaches." The article stated, "Nineteen murderous-looking Apache Indians were landed at Alcatraz island yesterday morning." The article misidentified the 19 Hopi men who had been arrested at Orayvi the previous November. The article is filled with racial stereotypes of murderous and "crafty redskins" who refused to live according to the "civilized ways of the white men."

Part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s (and California’s) most famous landmarks. Rich in history, Alcatraz is home to the famous prison that once housed the likes of Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Alcatraz also features a lighthouse and a historic U.S. military fort, plus one of the best views in the Bay Area--if it's not foggy. Catch a ride on Alcatraz Cruises and learn all about the Rock’s famous residents. You'll also find rotating exhibits, including information on historic events such as the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz in the 1970s, fascinating military history, and stories about the island's challenging living conditions. Audio tours are excellent.

The island is also an incredible spot to view nesting seabirds, allowing visitors a chance to see these beautiful birds much closer than normal. Be sure to bring your binoculars and peer at cormorants, pigeon guillemots, snowy egrets, gulls, and black-crowned night herons.

National Park Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, CA 94123
Phone: (415) 556-0560