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, 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 InĂ©s, 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