<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Worth the Trip]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sat, 30 Apr 2016 19:42:58 -0700 Sat, 30 Apr 2016 19:42:58 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Merry Fishmas, Eastern Sierra]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08:10:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mammotheasternfishmas.jpg

NO TINSEL-DISPLAYING IS REQUIRED... when Fishmas arrives in the Eastern Sierra, and donning an elf hat or outlandish snowman sweater is not necessary (though we suppose if you want to do so, well then, go for it). Fishmas is, in fact, a springtime holiday, one that's celebrated around the lakes and streams near Mammoth and Bishop and Independence. That fact, that it is a water-based party, as well as its name, can easily clue anyone into what it is about: fishing. Specifically trout fishing, which tends to be pretty darn top-notch in the areas that sit adjacent to Highway 395. And a very merry Fishmas arrives on time, each and every year, on the final Saturday in April. In 2016 that's...

APRIL 30, and the festive Fishmasing will be going down around several water-wonderful spots, from Convict Lake (where there's a cash derby in honor of Opening Weekend) to a cast-your-line derby at Crowley Lake, where the "(f)ishing will commence one hour before sunrise." The Sierra Nevada Resort was the setting for a Fishmas Eve dinner, while Tom's Place Resort will also be honoring the big kick-off weekend. 

EVEN IF YOU DON'T HEAD UP... for Fishmas, count on seeing anglers aplenty in the weeks ahead, dotting the Eastern Sierra's lush, mountain-fed burblers. The peak-topping snow was solid over the past winter, which means the waters are running well. Dig out those waders and make for the 395, fish fans.

Photo Credit: Visit Mammoth]]>
<![CDATA[Take It Outside California!]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:45:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/beeflowers.jpg

BACK WHEN WE WERE KIDS... we sometimes had to be cajoled when the topic of "getting outside" came into play. It was just that our comic book was so thrilling, or the sitcom in front of us so hilarious, and we couldn't possibly spare five minutes to play tag on the lawn. (Of course, once we made our way to the lawn we majorly loved it and were slow to return inside for supper.) Nowadays, though, most people jump at the chance of spending a day under the sun, the better to enjoy leafy trees and sprouty shrubs and a touch of exercise and oodles of deep-in-the-lung breathing.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE CALIFORNIA... is encouraging all Golden Staters on just this front, and earnestly so, via a pledge. And the pledge simply says this at the top: Yes! I pledge to take it outside with my famiy and friends the first weekend in May. It's a clear reminder of all the wilderness-y beauty, park-tastic loveliness, and beach-sandy stunning-a-tude that surrounds Californians. Want to join the day, which is presented by both the California State Parks Foundation and the California Council of Land Trusts? Then take the pledge, or simply round up the fam for an outing on...

APRIL 30 AND/OR MAY 1: Take It Outside California's online HQ lists a caboodle of interesting choices going down, from a Save the Trees/Save the Bees weekend in Cambria to a Native Seed Farm jaunt in Irvine. Yoga, zumba, hiking, birding, dog walks, habitat restoration, and urban gardening are all on the roster, so, truly, picking your pleasure should be something of a cinch (or adjacent to a cinch). Ready to "Take It Outside"? Indoor pursuits can be so very compelling, but so can a fragrant spring breeze on the first day of May.

Photo Credit: Flowers]]>
<![CDATA[Universal Studios Hollywood: New Hotel Program]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:04:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bghoteluniversal.jpg

HARRY'S IN THE HOUSE, or, rather, the theme park, and his robe-rocking, wand-wielding fans are making for Universal Studios Hollywood in happy droves. That's because The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a land brimming with enchanting shops, eats, and rides, debuted at the beginning of April 2016. And, as might be expected, wizards are broomsticking in from all manner of distant lands, which means they'll need a place to stow their Quidditch balls and Invisibility Cloaks for the night, as well as a spot with a comfy bed. In that sorcery-casting spirit, Universal Studios Hollywood has teamed up with over 20 hotels located around Los Angeles to create the Preferred Hotel program. 

AMENITIES AND EARLY HOURS: So what does it mean to be a Preferred Hotel with the theme park? You're an inn that's offering special amenities of some sort, whether it is a complimentary shuttle over to Universal Studios Hollywood or gratis parking at the hotel or something else as solid. Another big bonus? "When guests confirm their hotel package, which consists of hotel accomodations and tickets to the theme park, they will receive the added benefit of one hour early entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," reveals the site. Oh yeah; there's some magic at work there, for sure.

THE HOTELS... participating in the program can be booked through a new section of the theme park's site. Peruse them all and ponder, as you go, what specific amenities you're hoping for and where exactly you'd like to be (super-close to Universal City, or somewhere further afield, perhaps on the way to the beach). The Garland, Mondrian Los Angeles, Sportsmen Lodge Hotel, and a bevy of other stay-overs are part of the Preferred Hotel slate. Best don your favorite Hogwarts uniform, summon your owl, and read all the details, fine print, and extra must-knows.

Photo Credit: The Garland]]>
<![CDATA[Spring Break All Year: Omni Splash & Stay]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:44:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/splashomnicosta123.jpg

TO EVERYTHING, A WINDOW: We often bandy about the word "window" when we're not speaking of the glass square in the wall, the one that lets in light. We use the word in reference to time, and a set amount of time, specifically. "That window has passed" means the opportunity to seize a moment is done, or "I'll have the window for that next week" is saying "don't ask me to do anything right now." Occasions, too, have windows -- the Christmas window seems to open around October nowadays -- but there is one annual event that can occupy pretty much any window it chooses, despite having a season in its name. We speak of spring break, which typically falls around March or April, and is usually associated with students taking a vacation. But if you're not into typical things, and you still like the notion of spring break, even beyond spring, and you want to treat the family, well, your window is wide open: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa's Splash & Stay package is on through the very end of 2016.

IN THE DEAL: Your tots will get two hours per day of fun times at Kidtopia Kids Club (so if you want to check out the adult pool, that would be a solid window). A s'mores kit is also part of the package, as is a daily breakfast for the family at Bistro 65. And as for dinner? Count on a $100 resort credit to use towards meals on the property (that's a hundred bucks "per room, per night"). The Carlsbad getaway experiences several fine weather days a year, well beyond spring, so plan some afternoons at the various pools, including the one geared to grown-ups and the waterslide-bedecked Splash Landing Pool (there's also the Sandy Beach Family Pool, for smaller tots). Ready to throw your own spring break, whenever you want to open that particular window? You've got through Dec. 31, 2016 to enjoy a time of year that's far too fleeting.  

Photo Credit: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Pick-Your-Own-Blueberries Time in Somis]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:02:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/16814164.jpg

GO TO ANY HEALTH SITE, or a blog dealing with nutrition, and search for the word "blueberries." You're likely to get several links to past posts all about the fabulous fruit, a wee orb that brings a lot of big benefits. The blueberry regularly stars on superfood lists, and recipes recommend how we can all get our daily dose, from topping our morning oatmeal to throwing some frozen berries in the afternoon smoothie. But for most of us a trip to pick up blueberries typically involves either visiting the market's produce section or the freezer aisle. Where we don't go all that often is to a blueberry bush to pick blueberries. We might want to -- characters from our favorite childhood books could often be found outside gathering berries for that night's cobbler -- but finding such a pickable place is another matter entirely. Stress not, fans of juicy berrydom, for Underwood Family Farms offers an annual chance to pick blueberries, during a certain window, and that window is opening up now in...

SOMIS: True, the farm-sweet company has two destinations, but note that the blueberry picking can be found at Somis and not Moorpark (which has other fruit-focused pick-your-own opportunities). Blueberry season opened on Saturday, April 23, and runs for several weeks. They're priced at $3.99 per pound, if you're wondering how many you can cart away for a ten or twenty bucks (a lot, is the short answer). Have you and the family ever done the pick-your-own thing? Or "PYO," to use the lingo? If you're all blueberry buffs, and you'd love to have a lot on a hand, for a couple of old-school cobblers or pies, get to Somis before spring fully flowers into summer. Details? Bite down on all the juicy good stuff here.

Photo Credit: Blueberries]]>
<![CDATA[Summer Suds: California Beer Festival]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:15:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CaliforniaBeerFestival2010.jpg

THE VERY FIRST THING... to do, when you hear the large-scale California Beer Festival is gearing up for another summer season of visiting various Golden State towns with a whole caboodle of craft brewers in tow, is to find your stay for the night. That seems pretty straightforward, or, in lieu of finding a soft bed in the near vicinity, asking a bud to serve as a designated driver. Once those important tasks are done, you can get down to reviewing the wheres and the whos and the whats, as far as what top-notch brewhouses will be making the flavorful scene.

AS IS TRADITION, the festival will visit Marin County first in 2016, making a stop in Novato over the first weekend of June. Santa Cruz will follow, though not immediately -- Aug. 12 through 14 are the dates -- and San Dimas and Ventura are the September destinations. True, the organization behind the fest has expanded into the BBQ & Beer and Tequila & Taco realms, and those, too, have become well-known culinary gatherings. But the quartet of destinations has remained consistent for the CBF over the last several years, as have the fans in attendance, hundreds of brew buffs who line up their stays well in advance.

STAFFORD LAKE PARK... is the setting for the two-dayer in Novato, a happening which will give suds aficionados a chance to sample from the 85-plus craft brewers in attendance. There shall be food for purchase, and live tunes, and the second day -- "Sunday Funday" -- is new for the location in 2016. Just note that the beer sampling is solely a Saturday thing, though beer, along with the vittles, may be purchased on day #2. Ready to find your hotel and make your summer plans? If you can't do a brewery jaunt around California, this fest is a fine way to get acquainted with what our foam-focused masters are up to these days. Tickets, info, and more...

Photo Credit: California Beer Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Vintage Flair: Dapper Day at Disneyland]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:16:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/StephenieDapperDay2014nbc.jpg

SUSPENDERS, CORSAGE, BOATER, GO: It's not a secret that a particular desert-beautiful California destination is experiencing quite the fashionable happening over the second half of April 2016. No hints required: It's the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which has become the sunshiny spot to rock your trendiest togs, whether those togs involve denim, a sundress, a bathing suit, or all of the above. But the Fashion Time Machine -- that's probably really a thing, since fashion has a remarkable way of zipping around the decades with apparent ease -- will leave the future, and the clothing of tomorrow, and head back to the past, and only days after the mondo festival in Indio wraps for another year. The time machine will land next in Anaheim, a couple of hours to the west of the desert, and the era this time around? It won't be contemporary styles, for the most part, but rather the vintage looks of yore. It's Dapper Day at the Parks, the twice-a-year strut-and-socialize gathering that takes Anaheim, and Disneyland Resort, by sartorial storm. The spring outing is just ahead, on...

SUNDAY, MAY 1, and while '50s-era looks do tend to dominate, any stylish ensemble is welcome, whether it reaches 80 years into the past or it reaches to the 1980s. Small details, interesting accessories, lively hairdos, and other touches regularly complement what attendees wear. This isn't a Disneyland-organized event -- it is private -- and admission to the park will be required. A two-day expo will take place at the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall, on April 30 and May 1, and a launch party is set for Friday, April 29 at The Jazz Kitchen. Dapper Day has been around for five years now, with a 2011 start, which means that thousands of retro-dressy fans make the journey to The Happiest Place on Earth for the photo-ready gathering. Pin your corsage on your lapel, or place your boater upon your noggin, and prepare for one of the longest runways around. Dapper Day, after all, is for people to admire your vintage get-up, and for you to do the same as park goers swan past you, delightfully, while rocking their Sunday best.

Photo Credit: DapperDay.com]]>
<![CDATA[Magical Mystery Tours Along the Wine Road]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 08:23:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2010_Jordan_Vineyards_Fall_HR.jpg

FESTOONING A 40TH ANNIVERSARY... in all the ways it rightly should be festooned requires some thinking, some planning, and a few great events that make participants feel as something special is afoot. That's just what the Wine Road in Northern Sonoma County is doing throughout 2016, with a host of happenings. Many of those happenings involve the number 40 in some way, like The Art of Oak, which features 40 used barrels that have been transformed into something zingy, zazzy, and very art-lovely (transformed, of course, by 40 artists). There's also the Get in the Picture contest, which is on through the first of July. Look for selfie frames at 40 locations -- all Wine Road members -- and then snap away (and add to social media, too, for possible "prizes, tickets, and swag"). And as for the Ruby Affair Charity Auction, which will mark the big year in grand, giveback style? That's on Saturday, May 14, so find your fanciest frippery for a wine-themed night. Or just stay tuned for June 18, which is when the...

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS... will take to the Northern Sonoma County roads. If you sign up for the adventure, you will not, repeat not know all the places you and the luxury bus you're on are heading. You can know there shall be five wineries involved, with food and wine pairings at each, plus a goodie bag, plus "an entertaining tour captain" sweeping the whole thing along in wine-informative fashion. The cost? It's $100 a ticket, and that includes all of the to-dos just listed. One extra bonus of not knowing where you're headed, winery-wise, is you just may land at a new place, which can be a bit of a challenge for those wine country daytrippers who return, again and again, to their go-to vineyards. You can narrow it down, a bit, by deciding upon your chosen area: Dry Creek Valley, Anderson Valley, and other fertile nooks of NoSoCo are possibilities.

HOW WILL YOU... help the grape-glorious region mark its 40th? All of the various soirees are listed here.

Photo Credit: Jordon Vineyards]]>
<![CDATA[Trees of Mystery: Find Your Trail]]> Sat, 23 Apr 2016 06:36:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/treesofmysteryelephanttree.jpg

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, PAUL AND BABE: When you hear of the Trees of Mystery, the retro-sweet, history-filled, redwoods-amazing attraction of Klamath, California, you're apt to first hear tales of the gigantic figures who hold famous sway over the parking area. We speak of Paul Bunyon and his faithful sidekick Babe the Blue Ox, an over-sized duo that have served as icons of the roadside destination for decades. They're eye-catching, is why, but Paul also chats up arriving visitors, in real time, commenting on a person's hat or the current weather conditions, just so you know that the whole thing is live and not on a playback machine hidden deep in the nearby gift shop. The duo is so well-known that a host of hosts have come to pay their respects, including the beloved Huell Howser of public television and Ira Glass of "This American Life." But while it is almost impossible to not talk about Paul and Babe after a day spent at the Northern California landmark, with mention also made of the treetop-besting trams of the Skytrail, there is a quieter force to be found within: the trails. These are the tried-and-true paths of the Trees of Mystery, the routes that people have walked for well over a half century, walked in both quiet contemplation and gentle amusement. The amusement stems from some of the names given to the unusual trees, and the fact that the Elephant Tree really does seem to have an impressive, pachyderm-style trunk. It's worth remembering, as the end of the school year draws near, with all of the busy hubbub that this time brings, that there is a family-cool spot that has a peaceful heart just made for powering down (and tuning into nature). Want to find your way through these ancient trees and into a more silent space? Then pick a trail, any trail, like...

THE KINGDOM OF TREES TRAIL, "which is dedicated to the majesty of nature and the natural resiliency of the Redwood and other tree species." Lots of lore-filled specimens can be found along this path, including the multi-tree wonder known as the Cathedral Tree. Octopus-armed trees, and the Candelabra Tree, are all astounding, but even the redwoods without names are what could accurately be described as "sci-fi big." (Though this is not science fiction, of course, what you're seeing, but actual science). A bit further on is the Forest Experience Trail, with the Brotherhood Tree, and a massive tree struck by lightning in the '90s. If you're looking for "an actual hike" and not a more leisurely ramble, work the Wilderness Trail into your visit. And, of course, the Skytrail is a trail, by name, but it is not on terra firma (look up and find it). It's not hard to believe the Trees of Mystery will mark its centennial in just a decade and a half, as there's still an air of yesteryear about it, in the sweetest, slow-down-and-look-around sense. And, of course, if you really want to talk about an air of yesteryear, ponder the age of the redwoods, which have seen a summer season or two (or two thousand). Is your summer road trip just ahead? Find a quiet moment off the road, on one of the trails of the Trees of Mystery.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Garlic Contest: Submit Your Top Dish]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 12:32:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Garlic_edited-1.jpg

IT'S ALWAYS A DECISION, when peeling a head of garlic, if you'll take the time to de-paper the tiniest cloves, those little slivers that come in at about a tenth of the size of the most colossal cloves in the bunch. The smallest slivers can challenge even the deftest of peel-ready fingers, especially if the paper-like skin just won't give. But here's the truth of the matter, with any garlic-obsessed cook: The whole darn head is going to get peeled, mondo cloves and mini cloves alike. Because a garlicist would never waste a shred of hot garlicky flavor, not when there's chicken or pasta or dip to be made, and be made well. For here's the truth: These dedicated peelers of picayune cloves are some of the very people who enter their best recipes in Great Garlic Cook-Off, year after year. Is that you? Do you remove the skin from all the cloves, even the wee ones, before you cook? Then you are properly and admirably obsessed with this allium icon. Best find your favorite way to use it, and send your top-notch dish into the Gilroy Garlic Festival by...

MAY 1, 2016: That's the cut-off date for recipe consideration for the July festival. The big prize, as is tradition, is as eye-opening as biting down on a freshly peeled clove: It's five grand, as in $5,000, which'll buy wheelbarrows full of garlic (or anything else you please). The 2015 top dish was Shakshuka with Deep-Fried Garlic, by Jodi Taffel of Arizona. Mmm mmm, for sure, but don't "mmm mmm" for too long, if you want to throw your hat -- er, garlic head -- into the ring; you'll want to read the rules and perhaps eye other past winners, to get a feel for what home cooks are creating with the versatile bulb nowadays. You might even ponder doing a dessert, since garlic ice cream is one of the fest's headline treats.

NEED TO KNOW... about how the stages of the Great Garlic Cook-Off roll out, selection-wise, and how many finalists will be invited to show for the showdown on Saturday, July 30? Here's all the rule-based info (we've peeled away the papery skin so you can dig right in, right away).

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Solar Field Tour at Furnace Creek Ranch]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 22:10:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dvsolarfurnace.jpg

IT ISN'T ALL THAT OFTEN... that guests at a hotel get to peek at what goes on behind the scenes, in terms of how the property is run. Oh, a manager might let some visitors see the kitchen, or maybe a ballroom undergoing refurbishment, but as far as digging deeper in to a hotel's nuts-and-bolts-y side... Well, that just doesn't happen all that often. But it is about to, at Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park, and just in time for Earth Day, too. The planet-minded holiday lends the resort's special tour its general theme, for tour attendees will be getting an up-close look at the desert property's solar panels. As you might expect, Death Valley enjoys a notable amount of sunshine, and solar power is an important centerpiece to the stay-over destination. Ready to take a tour of the 1.2 megawatt facility, a spread that covers four acres? Then join the...

EARTH DAY CELEBRATION... at Furnace Creek. Beyond the solar panels, you'll peek at the gravity-fed water system, as well as the golf course that also doubles as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. A biodiesel demo is also in the works, if that's your jam. Sustainable eats are part of the party -- free tastes are on the schedule -- as is some live music and kidly activities. The Amargosa Conservancy, the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the National Park Service are all partners in the energy-minded party. Ready to go deeper into how a resort procures some of its power? April 23 is your day, and do note this: That falls within National Park Week, which means your entry into Death Valley is free.

Photo Credit: Furnace Creek Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Goodland Hotel: Lobby Record Store]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 08:41:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vnylgoodlandhotel.jpg

HOTEL LOBBY HALLMARKS: When you roll your luggage in the entrance, and look around for the concierge or front desk, what do you see in a hotel lobby? Perhaps a few couches or chairs, and a bouquet of flowers, and some tables, and the bell stand, and an area where brochures for area attractions may be easily browsed. What you don't see as much, if ever, is a record store, the kind with old-school vinyl and listening stations. That is, however, just what people arriving at The Goodland Hotel in Goleta are seeing when they take an initial spin around the inn's stylish lobby.

A BRAND-NEW RECORD STORE... called VNYL just debuted in early April 2016, and it lends the 158-room Kimpton property some visual, aural, and hipsual cachet. (True, "hipsual" isn't actual a word, but it applies to the ocean-boho building and its design-centered details.) So how does a record store in a hotel lobby work? Well, there are a couple of different routes to enjoying VNYL, once you've stowed your suitcase in your room and headed back to the lobby for a libation and a look-around. There are...

"DOZENS OF TITLES"... at the shop which "can be enjoyed during one's stay and purchased for the road." Or, of course, you can visit a listening station to find a heart-beautiful ballad or rocking anthem, maybe one that can serve as the theme to your road trip to Goleta. VNYL, by the by, is a "music discovery subscription service" based in Los Angeles. Adding to the offbeat experience? The shop'll keep a 'round-the-clock schedule, so swing by at 3 a.m. if you can't fall asleep.

OPENING PARTY: A tune-filled happening on May 19 will summon several artists for live performances as well as a "surprise guest." If you can't make the party, book the package, which kicks off at $199 and is on through the end of the year. Positive Spin nabs you a night's stay, two cocktails when you arrive, and, you betcha, whatever album catches your fancy. For more vibes, more flow, and a peek at this new way of thinking about a hotel lobby, check out the album-laden spot now.

Photo Credit: Goodland Hotel]]>
<![CDATA['Star Trek': Live Orchestra Spectacular]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 11:55:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/StarTrekGallery02.jpg

IN SPACE, at least where movies and television series are concerned, time is fluid. It might be 2016 in one corner of the galaxy, but a visit to a handy wormhole, or the nearest fold in the fabric of the universe, and bingo: You're 200,000 years in the future (or past). We don't live in such an elastic time realm as of this moment -- a year is still 365 days, and those days have a rather predictable way of rolling out according to the calendar -- but we do live in the time of "Star Trek," and thank goodness for that.

FOR FEW POP CULTURE PHENOMS... have played with time and space as deftly as the Gene Roddenberry-created favorite, a favorite that just happens to be marking its 50th anniversary in 2016. There's no folding of cosmic fabric or wormhole locating necessary as far as this timeline is concerned: It's the big 50th for "Star Trek," and a host of to-dos, like "Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage," will pay stirring tribute to the various on-screen properties that have filled out Mr. Roddenberry's early dream. Best board your ship and zoom for...

THE SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS... for a Monday, May 2 concert celebrating the original series, "Next Generation," the shows that beamed onto our screens in the '90s and after, and all of those dazzling films. There shall be a live orchestra, yes, and clips played on a 40-foot screen. Expect to see visuals from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and other tent poles of the massive, and massively famous, franchise. It's a music-focused journey of the mind and heart, one that's bound to light up fans' imaginations as they recall their favorite episodes and movie scenes. Are you headed to the huge convention in Las Vegas in August? Let the Costa Mesa concert on May 2 kick off your Klingon-cool, Borg-big, Spock-stellar summer season, in swelling, string-plucking fashion. Tickets? Your wormhole to the box office is right over here.

Photo Credit: Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage]]>
<![CDATA[Sierra Summit: Pink Moon Party]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 06:52:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pink-moon_headersierra.jpg

FULL MOONS... boast delightful names throughout the year, but one of the most floral, and liltiest, of all the monikers, has to be the one that arrives in April. That's the Pink Moon, a poetic handle that summons both music (Nick Drake's beloved "Pink Moon") and images of the flowering world below. The moon, of course, doesn't go a deep mauve come the fourth month of the year, but it does herald what's happening on our own planet, as in the arrival of the rosy-hued phlox. There are ways to mark this moon-marvelous moment -- sipping colorful tea, eating only pink foods, donning some chromatically appropriate clothing, or simply walking outside on the right night to admire it. Or, of course, you can go up a mountain, a very big mountain, in the Sierra Nevada, with the aim of joining a light-of-heart, get-closer-to-the-moon springtime soiree. Yes, we are talking about...

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, which has gained something of a reputation for sending its famous Panorama Gondola up, up, up to one of the Sierra's tippy-toppiest points for various evening parties. This one unfurls on Saturday, April 23 -- that's Pink Moon time, natch -- and best know it'll still be quite cold on the peak, which tops out at over 11,000 feet. And the Ezakimak Challenge's finish is part of the fun, so cheer on the competitors as you enjoy tunes spun by DJ Science, "a glow walk out at Dave's Run and Lake Basin Overlook," bites for sale, sips for sale, and stuff for the kids to take part in, too. Oh yes, and the shiny centerpiece to it all? The Pink Moonrise, as viewed from on top of the world (or at least nearly on top of California, with all due respect to the king of the hills, Mt. Whitney). It's a mountain party with a challenge-fun, moon-pretty theme, and music and eats to boot. Just don't forget your own boots, with the snow and all. The phlox may be blooming here and there, but high in the Sierra flakes are still keeping temps on the bundle-up side.

Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain]]>
<![CDATA[Sequoia Parks Conservancy Challenge]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 23:04:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Sequoia-Park-1175929.jpg

WILDERNESS CHALLENGE: If you've been pondering membership with the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, thanks in large part to the amount of time you spend up among the big trees, this could possibly be the best moment ever to take the leap. The organization has just released its Summer Member Challenge 2016 list, a roster that covers a bevy of check-'em-off activities to engage in over the months ahead. Some involve social media -- "Share your favorite trail memory with us on Facebook" is number 19 -- while others are of a more personal, commune-with-nature nature. "Walk to Sunset Rock and watch a sunset" is a much-loved park must-do, while "(t)ake a photo with the General Sherman tree" is something just about every visitor does (whether they get alllll of the enormous specimen in the frame is another matter). Various landmarks, hikes, and programs are included on the roster, which encompasses 30 suggestions in all.

BUT HERE'S SOMETHING TO CONSIDER, if there's just no way, time- or life- or interest-wise, you can get to all 30 by Sept. 1, 2016, which is the deadline to submit your completed challenges: You don't need to do them all. There are prizes for topping out at twenty, or even ten, so you could absolutely cover that many over a long weekend (or a blissful week among the giants, if you're so lucky). There is one grand prize to claim, but ponder this: Haven't you already won if you've spent a summery afternoon at Zumwalt Meadow or Little Baldy or along Congress Trail? The answer is "heck yeah," for even one or two checked-off activities mean that you've spent some quality time in one of California's most superb stretches of tree-packed splendor. To join the conservancy, give those sequoias all the love they deserve, and jump into the 2016 challenge, turn your binocs in this direction.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Location: Sunset Celebration Weekend]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 07:09:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/wine-seminars-sunset123.jpg

A TRADITION WITH A TWIST: Sunset, the venerable and vivacious magazine that's loved upon stylish Western living for over a century, has long been known for embracing the new. That can involve a new way of displaying your favorite succulents, or a different method for grilling artichokes, or perhaps an innovative approach to campfire s'mores, the kind made with a few tony ingredients like local honey or homemade graham crackers. The next new step the publication is about to take will happen during its annual Sunset Celebration Weekend, but that step doesn't involve a futuristic-modern patio chair or gourmet kitchen layout; rather, the two-day happening will be in a new location. This is due to Sunset's semi-recent move from its longtime Menlo Park home, yes, but don't look for mid-May party to happen at its Oakland headquarters. Instead prepare to make for Sonoma, and wine country, where the magazine's second outpost is located. That's where the large test gardens are, and the creatively designed outdoor spaces that have become part of the magazine's identity. Ready to join "editors, celebrity chefs, vintners, craft beer brewers, and renowned lifestyle experts..." on May 14 and May 15? Then pack your sunhat, your walking shoes, and your sense of lifestyle-enhancing adventurism and make for...

CORNERSTONE: That's where Ludo Lefebvre, Tanya Holland, Andy Ricker, and a host of in-the-know gourmands and brewers and horticulturists will be to chat with the magazine's many fans, demo tasty/pretty techniques, and lend the inspiration that's found within Sunset's pages each month. Other highlights to be found around the cover-worthy nine-acre property include an Airstream village, the Backyard Orchard, the Flower Room, and the dream-making Outdoor Kitchen, which shall serve as the center of much of the meal-based demo-cool hubbub. Will you find fresh ways to cedar-plank-up your salmon? Or to coax your peonies to new heights? Is this the year you finally plant that tangelo tree? So much newness awaits at this century-plus publication's springtime jamboree including, for many attendees, a look at the new Sonoma wine country digs.

Photo Credit: Kimberley Navabpour]]>
<![CDATA[Opening: Housekeeping Camp]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 07:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/housekeepingcampopens2016.jpg

LOVING NATURE... means loving all of the timely, not-so-coincidental coincidences that pop up, seemingly at random. Take Yosemite National Park, a place where several Really Good Things -- capitalization required -- all dovetail right around April. There's the seasonal start of the open-air Valley Floor Tours, those informative, gaze-up-at-El-Capitan gadabouts that are full of awesome, ranger-delivered factoids about the famous park. There's National Park Week, a celebration of our nature-amazing system of parks that falls right around the middle of April (and gives every visitor free access to their favorite park for several days in a row). And as for those springtime waterfalls? They push it into high gear come April, thanks to all of that drippy/melty winter snowpack (a snowpack that's "heavy" thanks to all of those 2015-2016 mountain storms). It's the ideal time for another Yosemite favorite to say its hello, which is exactly what Housekeeping Camp shall do on Friday, April 15. As of that day the...

RUSTIC STAY-OVER... is open for the season, but to call it "rustic" doesn't tell the whole story. The middle-of-the-Valley, Merced River-close locale is described on the Yosemite online HQ as "perfect for those who love camping outdoors but without the hassle of setting up a tent." Does this mean your space is enclosed? Well, yes, the "three-sided concrete structures" are not a traditional tent, but a roof made of canvas lends the camp's sleep spots the aforementioned rustic feel. As for the closing date? That's the third day of October, with a big ol' "weather permitting" asterisk to consider. As for cost? That starts at $68 a night. Want to get an eyeful of those famous springtime gushers pouring over the sides of the valley? Best look into booking soon.

Photo Credit: Housekeeping Camp]]>
<![CDATA[Sailing Woofers Help Home-Needing Pets]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:43:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/couplepetdayhb1.jpg

SALTY AIR, SALTY DOGS: No pet person needs to be informed that canines are all about a warm and sunny day, the kind of day best spent catching some rays. If you've loved a dog, you likely know the experience of coaxing them off the patio, or in from the yard, or into the car after an hour at the dog park. Flatly put, they're not so keen to return to normal life. They want to stretch out on the grass for a bit longer, or the tile, soaking up the warmth. You can treat them, though, to such an sunshiny experience, one that has sunshine in its very heart. It's Pet Day on the Bay, the annual enjoy-a-boat fundraiser from the Helen Woodward Animal Center of Rancho Santa Fe. The 16th outing is on Saturday, April 30, and pups and their people are invited to book a spot on a Hornblower Pet Day cruise, all to help the many need-a-forever-home hounds cared for by the center. 

THERE ARE THREE TIMES... to choose from -- 9:30 a.m. if your pooch is a morning dog, 11:15 for the midday crowd, and 1 o'clock to round it out -- and an adult ticket is twenty four dollars. Can your pup accompany you with that ticket? Indeed; each adult ticket includes a gratis dog admission, too. Will your lil' pumpkin need to remain on her or his leash? Definitely. Can you bring a "gently used blanket or towel" for donation? That would be most appreciated. Can you gussy up your tail-wagger in a sea-sweet theme? Say a mermaid or something "Gilligan's Island"-esque? Many past participants of the event have gone the thematic dress-up route, so go for it if the notion tickles you. How often do dog costume to-dos come with a single theme? So often there's an "anything goes" feel to the festival, but you'll want to find inspiration from marine life or aquatic adventures. Reservations? You'll want to make them. Telling your pup that she can soak up all the sunshine He likes over a one-hour tour of the bay, plus all of those pleasant salty breezes? He'll be as happy as when she hears you open a new bag of treats.

Photo Credit: Hornblower]]>
<![CDATA[Dinner at the Millennium Barn]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:53:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MillenniumBarnAtNightredbarn.jpg

THAT FAMOUS RED BARN: Many a county fair is beloved for its squealable piglets, and its fried treats on a stick, and its quilt competitions, and its blue-ribbon pies, but only a few spectaculars boast structures that are widely recognizable and even loved. The OC Fair is one of those events, for its Millennium Barn -- the large red barn at Centennial Farm, the very spot where the piglets and goats and horses keep house for the duration of the summer festival -- is a well-known, well-regarded symbol of the fair itself. To be able to visit the barn beyond the fair's run is a nice opportunity for its fans, but something a bit out-of-the-ordinary is up on the landmark's May calendar. It's a dinner, and a sumptuous one at that, "a farm to fork experience" that will involve multiple courses helmed by executive chef Cathy Pavlos. Chef Pavlos, who is known for her creative cuisine at both Lucca and Provenance, will be joined by the Orange County Wine Society for springtime supper of tasty, tony proportions. 

THE FOUR COURSES INCLUDE... a starter involving "locally grown clipped garden lettuces" and "spring peas" and more fresh goodies, with a second course that's centered around smoked Idaho trout and cured wild salmon. Course three? It's a porcetta feast, with several swanky trimmings, and the final course of the night has a shortcake + strawberries theme (plus balsamic reduction and Chantilly cream). A look at all of the top-notch ingredients and foodstuffs that shall go into the Saturday, May 14 affair is in order, so browse now. Cost? It's $150, which covers "dinner, wine, parking, tax, and gratuity." There'll be more dinners to come at the beautiful red barn, so stay tuned. And, of course, you can call upon it, just to say hello, when the OC Fair opens on July 15, 2016.

Photo Credit: OC Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Avocado Fest: Fallbrook's Creamy Dream]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/avocado4.jpg

WITH MANY FOODS, there is one standard, tried-and-true, everybody's-cool-with-it way of going about consuming it. The banana? You peel it from the top and eat until you reach the bottom of the peel. The strawberry? Grasp it by its greeny hair and start at the pointy bottom point. The avocado? Well, well, well. Here's where things start to get slightly controversial. There are a few ways to enjoy the alligator pear, and fresh methods are cropping up all the time. Guacamole has long held sway in the how-to-devour-it department, though people who like their green fruit neat would recommend pit-removable and a spoon, and nothing more. Those are two popular ways to eat an avocado, but recent years have given us not only a third, but a fourth. The rise (and rise and rise) of avocado toast at hip-casual restaurants has now broadened our avo-eating experiences, and the presence of the creamy fruit in smoothies has deepened it. Will there be even more standard ways of consuming the avocado in a decade or two? It clearly is a surprising fruit with a lot up its sleeve -- er, skin. It's worth exploring, and how better to do so than munching down on lots of guac-y good things at a full-on famous avocado festival. Yep, we're talking about...

FALLBROOK here, and its annual springtime celebration, the one that draws thousands of pit people. (Okay, yes, an avocado has a big ol' seed, not a pit, to be more accurate, so we'll own up to the correct terminology.) For sure, there are a variety of dip-delicious dishes to try, all with a guac-y theme, but other avo-awesomeness awaits. It isn't all about the cuisine, either; there's the Best Decorated Avocado Contest, too. Which makes sense when you think of the fruit's iconic shape and bumpily, beautiful skin and uniform hue. Is the avocado the perfect canvas to work with, at least where the produce aisle is concerned? Okay, pumpkins still may hold the crown here, but avocados seem pretty art-ready to us. Have to get your guac on? Then make for the 30th annual Fallbrook Avocado Festival on Sunday, April 17. And raise a smoothie, or a slab of toast, to all of the fine ways we enjoy this unusual, obsessed-over fruit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ojai Icon: It's Pixie Month]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 16:19:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pixiesmoira-tarmy-04+%282%29.jpg

STEP INTO ANY GROVE... in or around Ojai come the start of April and what you're sniffing is no April Fools' Day joke: The air is fragrant with blossoms, the kind that are symbolic, scent-wise, of the arts-and-nature enclave. Of course, other Golden State burgs can lay rightful claim to that same scent, seeing as how citrus-y spreads pop up all around California come the spring, but Ojai's singular association with the Pixie makes it a forerunner in the fragrant department. So much so that the Ventura County village pauses during the fourth month of the year to pay tribute to its tasty, sunshine-flavored, easily peelable symbol through a host of tangerine-tangy to-dos and deals. Are you proudly obsessed with tangerine juice, tangerine sweets, tangerine savory sauces, tangerine everything? And do you dig small, walkable towns with a strong gallery/winery vibe? Then you're probably already ensconced in Ojai, sipping something sweet, and enjoying all of the pleasures of a fruit-forward April celebration. Best put your citrus-peeling hands on deals like...

A PIXIE PASS, which gives the buyer a cool 20% off a pair of Ojai Music Concerts concerts when bought online with a special code. There are other happenings, like Pixie picking at Friends Ranch, a mixology demonstration (featuring Pixies, natch) at Azu, Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours that go above Ojai to admire the many groves in the area, and a Pixie Open House at Enhanced Day Spa (yep, Pixies play a part in some of the mini treatments). Cooking glasses, Pixie-perfect desserts, Pixie syrup, and Pixie mimosas -- hello there -- are also on the local-lovely menu. 

OF COURSE, you can't get far from the Pixie, regardless of the time of year, if you're calling upon Ojai. But April is the tangerine's moment on the throne, its star occasion, and lovers of the pocket-sized citrus go all out in admiring one of the Golden State's most celebrated sectional foodstuffs. Which inspires this question: Do you eat your Pixies by neat sections, juicy quarters, or mouth-messy-ing halves? (There's no wrong answer.)

Photo Credit: Moira Tarmy]]>
<![CDATA[Mountain Mmm: Taste of Julian]]> Sat, 09 Apr 2016 08:46:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tasteofjulian14.jpg

WHERE IS IT, give or take a mile or two, that the chanting of "apple pie, apple pie, apple pie" begins? Do you start saying the words over and over, like a magical incantation, when you and your crew first get in the car for a mountain road trip? Do you begin to speak the enchanted phrase, again and again, when you're less than an hour away? How about when you get really close to Julian, like when you're driving through Santa Ysabel, if that's your route in? (Well, you're probably chanting "bread, bread, bread" while passing by Santa Ysabel's Dudley's Famous Bakery.) But the truth of the matter is this: Visitors to Julian sing out the praises of apple pie, both verbally and in their hearts, during the whole drive up to the higher elevation village. And with good reason: The fruit, and the delightful pastries it so deliciously fills, are true hallmarks of the handsome Gold Rush burg. There are other meals to smack your lips over, though, around Main Street and just beyond, and Taste of Julian, the annual snack-and-try walk-around, introduces pie people to a host of other local eats. The springtime sup fest is coming up on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 9... and a host of Julian and Julian-adjacent favorites are involved. Granny's Kitchen is on the roster, and Buffalo Bill's, and Mr. Manita's Taco Bar & Fruteria, and Witch Creek Winery, too. You'll just need to stop by Julian Town Hall to purchase a ticket -- they're $30 a pop -- and then proceed to wile away the hours between 1 and 5 o'clock dining on all of the tastes the village has to offer, which include wines and burgers and salads and such. Oh, yes, and pies, lots of pies and apple-y good things. You can't truly drive up to Julian without doing a little "pie, pie, pie" chanting; why should you forgo a slice or two, even if a larger food-forward event is about savory dining, too? So, ready to take "A Rural Dining Adventure!" The trip starts here.

Photo Credit: Taste of Julian]]>
<![CDATA[Outside Lands: 2016 Line-up Announced]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 09:36:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/olGettyImages-150243019.jpg

THE ART OF MUSIC FESTIVAL ATTENDANCE... can be a bit of a high-wire act, of sorts, though an enjoyable one. You need to plan each step just so on the taut crossing, to make sure you reach your destination (or else face the net below). Likewise, planning is key at a mondo music extravaganza, one that spreads out over three doozy days and nights, with multiple acts performing. Have your tutu and tights on? And the harness around your waist? Then prepare to step out onto the wire -- or, in this case, gaze upon the the Outside Lands 2016 line-up, which was revealed on Tuesday, April 5.

RADIOHEAD... leads the sonic charge at the top of the just-released bill, as does LCD Soundsystem. Lionel Richie will croon, too, perhaps visiting "All Night Long" and "Hello" for his legions of fans (fingers crossed). Lana del Rey will bring her languid-lovely balladry to the Golden Gate Park shindig, and Duran Duran will prove that the scene of a famous music festival is no "Ordinary World." Hoping Zedd will be on stage, too, at some point, and Grimes, and Sufjan Stevens, and Ryan Adams, and Beach House? Your hope is well-founded; all of these artists are on the plump-to-bursting roster.

FRIDAY, AUG. 5 THROUGH SUNDAY, AUG. 7... are the big dates, dates that will require some pre-poring over before you and your pals decide who to see, and when, and so forth, and so on. But don't so forth/so on the food and drink scene, which is a major component of the eight-year-old San Francisco extravaganza; big-name chefs, and brewhouses, and wineries set up culinary camp, too. As do comedians and artists and a host of makers/performers/doers who sit outside the realm of music (though very much adjacent to its spirit). Are you ready to step onto the proverbial wire, with the goal of reaching the other side? Planning your Outside Lands weekend is the important first part. Step out, gingerly, right here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Left Coast Micro-Brew Fest]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:42:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_206456653.jpg

IT'S NOT QUITE SUMMERTIME... but to say that SoCalers aren't revving up their summer ways would not be true. The beaches saw plenty of spring break traffic, even on foggy mornings, and outdoor cinema festivals are getting an early start. Alongside all of the warm-weather staples come the brew bashes, those mega gatherings where regional craft brewing experts come together to talk with beer buffs and those just getting to know the ins/outs of why hops and barley lend a beverage its kick. One of the first out of the not-yet-summer gate is the Left Coast Brewing Micro-Brew Festival. It's a festival that attracts aficionados from San Diego, Los Angeles, and parts all over, as sippers want to get better acquainted with what some of Southern California's craftiest breweries are up to these days. There are 15 in all signed on for the festival's sixth outing, which will take place on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 23 in San Clemente. The afternoon-long to-do isn't just about the tastes, though those are definitely on the centerstage, but about seeing what a working brewery does. How to enjoy a tour of the brewery? Buy a VIP ticket. Other happenings, including food trucks and tunes are on the docket. And as for those area foam experts who'll be joining Left Coast for the libation-y lark? Ballast Point, Mission Brewery, Newport Beach Brewing Company, and several more sudsy stalwarts are on the rundown.

THE BENEFICIARY... of the festival? You'll help support and fund the "military welcome-home events" planned by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. For more info on that, and finding a place nearby to bed down for the night (best line up your transport, too), visit the Chamber's online HQ.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Nature by Night: Dark Sky Week]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 13:01:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/darkskiesGettyImages-483818682.jpg

STAR SHINE, STAR SPLENDOR: While Earth Hour typically arrives at the end of March, and close to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, and the national park celebrations of the nighttime sky fall around the summer, there is an April span to keep on the annual calendar: International Dark Sky Week. It's on through Sunday, April 10, and it serves as a starry reminder that half of our day -- or half-ish, depending on the time of year -- is lived in a nighttime world. That world can sometimes be rather bright, which makes connecting with Venus or Jupiter or our moon or the Milky Way a bit of a challenge, or it can be spectacularly unlit, giving the viewer a full sweep of the cosmos above and all around. There are many ways for evening aficionados to mark the week, including just enjoying the after-dark sky in a reverential fashion, but one can also travel to a Dark Sky Place, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association. There are two in California -- Borrego Springs and Death Valley National Park -- and several more throughout the Western U.S., including Natural Bridges National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historic Park. The association also offers many ways to get involved with their work, which is, at its heart, about cultivating a deep connection to our post-sunset world and all who occupy it, people and animals alike.

DARK SKY NATIONAL PARK: If you want to join a festival that gathers fans to appreciate our velvety heavens, look to some of the Golden State's national parks, which often hold stargazing weekends built around dark sky appreciation. A Dark Sky Festival in Sequoia and Kings Canyon will take place over the first weekend of August 2016 -- astronaut speakers, telescope peeks, and more are on the slate -- while the Lassen Dark Sky Festival follows in the middle of the month. Beautiful times in beautiful surroundings that make for a contemplative arena for considering the issues of our ever-receding evenings. Love low-light-a-tude and a story-filled night sky? Start here. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Harbors Getaway: Shipwreck Weekend]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 21:15:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/twoharborsAerial_2ccoc.jpg

SPRING BREAK ISN'T OVER: Not everything on Catalina Island is centered around Avalon, the beautiful hub that serves as the destination's largest town. True, many an event takes places in the historic Casino Building, or at the Descanso Beach Club, and those Wrigley Botanical Gardens regularly draw mainlanders looking for a bucolic hike through some island-style fauna. But Two Harbors, the smaller of Catalina's two walkable villages, also boasts a number of bashes on the calendar, with several of them centered around live music, good sips, good eats, and... outdoor-centered fests. Shipwreck Weekend, which is on the ocean-pretty horizon, is one such festival, and is pure spring break, but not simply for those students taking an actual week from school. It's geared for any adult looking for tunes, eats, a treasure hunt, and other to-dos. Also? A costume contest will stir the creative juices of attendees, well in advance of Halloween. It's all happening a couple of weeks after the traditional period of spring-breakery, in early April, so point your spyglass in the direction of Catalina and set sail on...

APRIL 8 THROUGH 10, 2016: The Friday-to-Sunday splasher will feature Everett Coast and the Red Not Chili Peppers on the stage, and several off-stage pursuits. There are a few different passes, but if you want to camp out nearby, there's a deal that includes two nights of camping (and, yep, your trip over on the boat, since Two Harbors, like all of Catalina Island, sits about 22 miles off of LA's lovely shores). Did you get a spring break this year? Do you dream of sort of an island-fun gathering that's full of (fingers crossed) sunshine and water? And while many an island town has a harbor, how many have you been to that have two, and in such spectacular, photo-ready fashion? For all the details on Shipwreck Weekend, and the full Two Harbors event calendar, point your oar over here. 

Photo Credit: Catalina Chamber of Commerce]]>
<![CDATA[Ghosts and Gravitas: The Groveland Hotel]]> Mon, 04 Apr 2016 11:11:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GrovelandHotel-04nighttime.jpg

LIKE TRYING OUT THE BED when you first saunter into your hotel room, and sniffing the complimentary bar of soap in the bathroom, and peeking out the window to admire your view, there are rules and traditions that arriving travelers abide by without even truly thinking them through. One of the most prevalent? To ponder all the guests who've stayed at the inn you're currently within, and, more specifically, your room. If a hotel has a few years on the books, you're probably looking at several hundred past guests, or maybe a thousand. But what to say of a fabled, national park-close structure that's been a regional landmark for over a century and a half? The stories to be told would literally test a whole wall of shelves, if they were in book form. And while you don't need to become personally acquainted with every past guest during a weekend getaway to The Groveland Hotel, you should at least know about Lyle, "The Permanent Lodger" who occupies Room 15.

THAT'S THE PROPERTY'S "MOST POPULAR" ROOM, as you can guess, for The Groveland is just about one of the Golden State's best-known spirit-famous structures (joining the likes of the Queen Mary and Hotel del Coronado and more). Whether you'll hear Lyle playing with the room's waterworks -- the sink suddenly coming on is one of Lyle's quintessential calling cards -- you can be assured that his long-ago stay lives on in the lore of the Gold Country-esque gem. Also part of the lore: Proprietor Peggy Mosley went to school with Elvis Presley, so best hum a few hound dog-type tunes as you ready for your day of exploring nearby Yosemite and the regional towns that put 1849 on the map (and vice versa).

17 GUEST ROOMS: The Groveland property isn't petite, but it is nicely cozy, which adds to its tuck-in allure, one that suits its foothill setting (those chillier winter and spring nights can send one indoors). Will you cuddle with one of the "four-legged innkeepers" in the lobby? (They're around, so give them a pat.) Have a whiskey and beer in the saloon, in ye Old West fashion? Or dig into a Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger and a glass of local vino in the restaurant? You can do all of the above, and you don't even need to check in with Lyle beforehand, for his go-ahead. He's seen a guest or two over the decades, from his perch in Room 15, those people who've come to The Groveland for an old-fashioned inn experience. So how you spend your Groveland sojourn is up to you, not the resident ghost, but know your visit will have some history, some Gold Rush-y glamour, a bit of supernatural spirit-a-tude, a cameo by a pup or two, and, yes, tales of a certain Mr. Presley.

Photo Credit: The Groveland Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[Memorial Day Closing for Mammoth]]> Sat, 02 Apr 2016 08:03:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2016-01-05_NEWsnowsarahsherman.jpg

TANK TOPS AND SKIS: Some of the most charming, and awesome, and head-scratching, and widely shared photographs to emerge from a ski resort, any ski resort, are those snapshots that depict skiers and boarders in summer-style clothing. Most people can't imagine heading up a high-elevation peak in what amounts to a bathing suit and shorts, but some skiers have tried the unlikely way of dressing over past years (as many resorts' Instagrams can attest). These snow fans aren't dressing this way in January, though, as a whole; it is when the slopes stay open into late springtime, and even summer, that the tank tops and short-sleeved shirts make their teeth-chattering debut. And those fashion choices may again be all the rage at Mammoth Mountain, which announced on March 30, 2016 that it'll schuss right through Memorial Day Weekend. Or...

"LIKELY LATER"... even, which means you could be hot-dogging your way right into June, a month, we probably don't need to point out, that sees the official start of summer. So what gives? Well, this is tradition at the Sierra-based resort -- it hasn't shuttered ahead of Memorial Day in 28 years -- and the past winter was very, very good. So good that Mammoth Mountain surpassed its snowfall total for the previous season on Jan. 20, with several more storms still ahead. Perhaps that's where the "likely later" comes from; that 200"-plus base at the summit is smokin'. (Or, strike that, not smokin', as that conveys heat, but you get our gist.) Will you go the tank top route on your skis? Or stick to the traditional jacket, gloves, and so forth? You may have a few chances to model a few looks, as a push right through to July 4 is not yet out of the cards for Mammoth. Best start thinking in terms of your red, white, and blue ski suits.

Photo Credit: Sarah Sherman]]>
<![CDATA[Now Open: Yosemite Tram Tours]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 11:11:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yosemite2168_TreyClark_20080611.jpg

VALLEY TRADITION: We don't need to take a poll, or send results to some think tank, or having users fill out a bunch of bubbles on a questionnaire to know the following statement is 100% fact: Everyone loves to look upon El Capitan. Call it outright staring, call it quiet communing, call it meeting the granite with a reverent gaze, if you like. But taking in that huge hunk-o-granite, with its climbers and myths and history and spectacular girth, is something pretty much all visitors to Yosemite National Park do at some point during their visit. While this communing/gazing is often done while on foot, it isn't unlikely for visitors to be in a vehicle while they get their El Capitan fill, too. If it is wintertime that vehicle is likely closed, with the heat on, but once the warmer days of spring arrive? El Capitan fans, and all fans of Yosemite Valley's stunning sights, often like some breeze to accompany their reverence, whether they're on a bike or in a tram. Oh, did we just name-drop the famous Yosemite Valley Floor Tour? Without a lot of subtlety? We did, because, like a robin in a tree or a crocus bud on a stem, the beloved tradition is back, back to weave into our spring and summertime Yosemite sojourns.

TWO HOURS: You'll have time to commune with El Capitan on the open-air tour, which is led by a knowledge-laden, question-answering ranger (so arrive with all of your Big Y queries, from "biggest waterfall" to "bear sightings"). The tour, in fact, often stops near Camp 4, to see if any climbers may be spied up the side of El Cap. ("Yes" is the usual answer, spoiler alert.) Other meadow-y, waterfall-tastic stops along the road are typically in store, so call it a fine overview to take in during the fine weather of March, April, May and beyond. You say you totally want to do this tour but can't before October? It still happens during the bundle-up months, but, yep, it is on a bus, the better to keep tour goers on the toasty side. For all the info, fees, times, and such, take a moment to stop thinking of El Capitan's grandeur (if such a thing is even possible) and call upon this helpful site.

Photo Credit: © Trey Clark]]>
<![CDATA[John Wayne's Boat: Birthday Cruise]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 21:31:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wildgoosesign123.jpg

MOVIE STAR YACHT: Daydreams and novels are often built around the idea of stepping onto a beautiful boat that belongs to a film star. We picture ourselves sipping wine, perhaps around sunset, as we wave at the mainland and feel more than a little bit fabulous. But outside of daydreams, and fiction, that real-life opportunity doesn't sail into view all that often. It will, however, over the second half of May 2016, when Hornblower Cruises & Events heads out from Newport Beach and onto the waves with the Wild Goose, the famous and beloved yacht of John Wayne.

THE ESTEEMED ACTOR, who passed away in 1979, spent about a decade and a half on the Goose, a three-decker that's as polished and wood-tastic as a boat buff would hope a historic vessel might be. How historic is it? Not only was it owned by the Western-headlining star, it served in World War II (much like its neighbor to the north, the Queen Mary of Long Beach) and was a sibling ship to Jacques Cousteau's Calypso. Did it host a bunch of celebrities in its heyday, from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Bob Hope? You bet. Can you go on a dining cruise, and enjoy a sunset, or some morning sunshine, much like Mr. Wayne did so often? You can, between Thursday, May 19 and Sunday, May 29. Indeed, that's the week of...

JOHN WAYNE'S BIRTHDAY, and surely those on the Goose on May 26 will offer up a toast. Adding more movie star mystique to the cruises, which are both of the sunset cocktails, dinner, and brunch varieties, will be the pass-by of the location of that was once home Mr. Wayne's Newport Beach estate. Beyond dining, and drinks, will you have time to explore the 136-foot craft, which is on the National U.S. Register of Historic Places? You will. Is Madame Tussaud's Hollywood loaning Hornblower the John Wayne wax figure for the duration of the birthday cruises? It is, so look for the figure on the boat. Will Bert Minshall, John Wayne's captain, be present during the cruises? He will be, and he'll be signing his book "On Board with Duke." Will a portion of all ticket sales go to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation? Absolutely. Tickets? Sail in this direction, Duke devotees.

Photo Credit: Hornblower Cruises & Events]]>
<![CDATA[Gush-Worthy: Whiskeytown Waterfalls]]> Sat, 02 Apr 2016 10:29:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/reddingfalls2016mcarthurburneyfalls.jpg

LIKE SHARK WEEK, Waterfall Week is kind of a major Thing, with a capital T, in those places where waterfalls congregate. There aren't too many more similarities between the two, beyond the shared element of H20 -- sharks need it, and waterfalls are made of it -- but it is a nice thing when a natural superstar gets a week-long spotlight. Sharks get their Shark Week on television, but waterfalls find their spotlights around the Golden State come springtime. Yosemite is highlighting a waterfall each day ahead of Easter Sunday (via Facebook, just so you know), while Whiskeytown, an area rich in waterfall-o-sity, puts the emphasis on its gushers in April. There are the inaugural Whiskeytown Waterfall Races, which offer "participants a chance to see as many of the falls as possible in one beautiful trail run." That sounds downright epic, if running is your bag, and spying sparkly falling agua is something you count as one of your favorite sights. But you can also make a spring date with the waterfalls, and do them at your own pace, depending on if you prefer your hikes easy, moderate, or more challenging. Yep, we used the word "gushers" before because it isn't hard to gush over these spectacular beauties. So plan your Redding-close trip and make a date to hoof it by...

CRYSTAL CREEK FALLS, which is on the "easy hike" list (you'll only need to cover about a third of a mile to reach it). It's described as "the only 'man-made' waterfall in the park," so that might scratch a quirky itch for you, if you like marking off the "onlys" on your adventures. Brandy Creek Falls Trail is classified as a moderate hike, at three miles round-trip (there are upper and lower falls here, if that's something you especially love seeing). And the James K. Carr Trail, which leads to Whiskeytown Falls, is a moderate to difficult trek. (Conditions can be both "misty" and "slippery.") April into May is some prime time to see these wonders, whether your run the course during Waterfall Week or make another week on the calendar your own personal Waterfall Week. Either way, you win, because gravity impacting water gushing over a ledge of some sort is flat-out neato, and it doesn't matter how many times you witness it. Neato and gush-worthy, too.

Photo Credit: Visit Redding]]>
<![CDATA[Just Ahead: Ninjago World at LEGOLAND]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:36:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ninjagolegolandapril.jpg

SPRING BREAK MAY BE WRAPPING... in several parts of California, but that only means one thing: Several big-deal attractions and lands and rides at various Golden State theme parks are readying their just-before-summer debuts. One of the buzziest 'round Carlsbad-way is the opening of Ninjago World at LEGOLAND, an experience that will incorporate several distinct areas made for awesome action. The ride that's at the forefront of the fresh LEGOLAND world is... 

NINJAGO THE RIDE: The Triotech, car-based zip-through is all about the interactivity and 3D-o-sity. Guests can "control the outcome of their adventure through the power of hand gestures," creating 
"animated fireballs, lightning, shockwaves, and ice as they travel the dojos to master their skills before heading into battle." Will riders collect points along the way as you train? You betcha. There are four people to a car, too, so you just might have your bestie at your side while you head into the high-tech arena. But the ride'll sail past the 3D wall, too, incorporating 4D effects like heat and wind and smoke.

OTHER ACTIVITIES... around the new land include a number of building stations piled high with colorful bricks -- as one would expect and hope at LEGOLAND -- as well as "a game to test reflexes" and "spinners to test balance." Shopping and eats that reflect the themes will also dot the world, which joins other LEGOLAND areas like Land of Adventure and Fun Town and other areas that provide visitors with immersive, LEGO-plentiful adventures. Opening date? Look for those adventures to begin their training in May 2016.

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND]]>
<![CDATA[Masai Giraffe Born in Santa Barbara]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2016 21:03:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SBZooGiraffeCalfBornMomAudrey.jpg

HELLO, SWEET NEW EARTHLING: To fling about the word "bounty" when it comes to Santa Barbara in the springtime is to reveal you know the city very well. For "bounty" is the theme in the American Riviera when the days get longer and the temps warm up and things begin to bloom, grow, and astound at an amazing rate.

LOOK TO... the sudden lushness of Ganna Walska Lotusland, with its blooms and glorious plants.
And look to festivals like Santa Barbara's Earth Day celebration, which summons those who want to honor our planet and do what they can to give it some needed love. It's almost as if Audrey, a Masai giraffe who calls the Santa Barbara Zoo home, knew that springtime in Santa Barbara is one of the most joyous, big-of-vision seasons. In that spirit, and with much work on Mom's behalf, a newborn giraffe arrived on the Saturday before Easter at the animal park (the first Saturday of springtime, which seems like quite the auspicious day, all told).

DETAILS: There's no name for the tall baby yet, nor is it know if the bambino is a girl or a boy (a medical exam, to take place within the first couple of days of the giraffe's arrival, will reveal all). The little -- er, not so little -- giraffe arrived on the evening of March 26 at the zoo's Giraffe Barn. And while neither Audrey nor her infant will say hello to the public yet, they will down the road, if cooing over squee-worthy, long-of-neck, leaf-loving superstars is your personal jam (it should be all of our personal jams, for seeing a baby giraffe is one of life's loveliest experiences).

GIRAFFE FOSTER FEEDERS: If giraffes go beyond your jam, and you count them as one of your passions, there's a way to support the amazing animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo: Become a Giraffe Foster Feeder. "A donation of $50 helps with the cost of feeding the growing giraffe family," says the zoo, and it is indeed growing. Betty Lou, another resident giraffe, will have her baby in July 2016. Interesting fact, which you surely already know, if you're all about giraffes: "Giraffe pregnancies last for nearly 15 months," which means Audrey may have well carried her baby within three distinct calendar years, if she became pregnant at the close of 2014. Fascinating food for thought.

Photo Credit: Sheri Horizny/Santa Barbara Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Wildlife Waystation: Easter Enrichment]]> Sun, 27 Mar 2016 08:01:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wwsTysonEaster.jpg The Sylmar animal sanctuary treats its beasties to fun toys and snacks.

Photo Credit: Wildlife Waystation]]>
<![CDATA[Inflatable Adventure at Newport Dunes]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 21:15:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/newportdunessummer2016.jpg

SPRING BREAK... is flowering across much of Southern California, and as families hit the road to see the sequoias, or the beach, or an amusement park, or all of the above, conversation naturally turns to the approach of summertime. It's a matter that's frequently raised by the person having the most fun in the group, though that can be hard to quantify, of course. But when you're out living it up over the spring holidays, you pretty much want the fun to continue, or at least be within sight. Best keep your sights on this, then, enjoyers of sunshiny good times and happy high jinks: The famous Moe B. Dunes Aquatic Park will open at Newport Dunes over Memorial Day Weekend. If the word "inflatables" just popped into your noggin, well, invite it to get cozy and stay, for this is the destination with all of those large-scale bouncy-house-y type diversions, the ones that sit just a bit off-shore. It's a fresh way to approach an inflatable slide or climb, knowing that, just below and very nearby, sits a whole bunch of Pacific-style H20.

BUT THE INFLATABLES... are only part of the party at this summertime favorite. Movies-on-the-Beach are returning, too, and that same weekend, so after you play all day on the "water playground," you can wrap yourself in your favorite cozy beach blanket and catch a flick from a spot on the sand. Both the aquatic inflatable action and the beach-bound films will run throughout the summer season, from Memorial Day Weekend through to Labor Day, so do note that. And note that Moe B.'s Radiant Ride is a fresh addition for 2016, if you dig "nighttime water-oriented fun and games" (it's a Friday and Saturday night event). 

THE FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS... will once again be a sparkly centerpiece at the spot, and those classic pedal boats and kayaks that are seen around the water near the 100-acre resort. It's all pretty darn postcard-y, but it isn't faraway, time-wise, if you're already missing spring break (before it is even over). Details? Don your vest and paddle over here. 

Photo Credit: Newport Dunes]]>
<![CDATA[Fab Autos: La Jolla Concours d'Elegance]]> Mon, 28 Mar 2016 21:20:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lajollaconcours2016_1.jpg

THE WOW OF THE ROAD: It isn't all that often we spy a gleaming-of-fender, swooped-of-line automobile out on the highway, the sort of car that trails history and design and luxury in its wake. But when we do we tend to spend a mile or two talking about it, or at least thinking about it, pondering its beginnings, and the owners who've tended to it over the decades, and what it might be like to handle a rare artwork that just happens to come with its own engine. Truly, the freeway becomes, briefly, a museum, for well-made, magnificently imagined automobiles are gems worthy of prominent placement in a prominent institution. If this pumps your gas a bit -- catching a '20s-era Rolls Royce or '50s-cool hot rod zoom by you, suddenly, out on a back road -- then consider the whooshy feeling you may gain from seeing 300-plus artworks all in a veritable row. You don't need to find that magical back road to enjoy this singular car-tastic experience; you only need to make for La Jolla's Ellen Browning Scripps Park on the second Sunday in April. That's...

SUNDAY, APRIL 10... and the happening is the 12th annual La Jolla Concours d'Elegance. "Celebrating French Curves" is a theme, so if fenders with French lineage are your obsession, be sure to eye all of the autos set to roll into their ocean-close spots. The mondo day of the three-day weekend is the Sunday, but there are car-nice gatherings on April 8 and 9, too, including a BMW Tour d'Elegance on Saturday. The big Sunday to-do will include a craft beer garden (and a wine garden, too), as well as vendors and other on-the-scene additions to enhance the auto-awesome experience. What's your favorite way to admire your favorite car? Seeing it in motion, briefly, on the freeway? Or getting the chance to linger next to it, for several minutes, as you eye the doors and dash and how it commandingly fills the space it occupies? We suspect, for many people, the answer is "both," but both opportunities come along pretty rarely. La Jolla on April 10, 2016 is one of the big ones, so rev your engines in advance of the weekend now.

Photo Credit: La Jolla Concours d'Elegance]]>
<![CDATA[Spring Sip: Madonna Inn's Peep Tini]]> Wed, 23 Mar 2016 12:18:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/peeptinimadonnainn.jpg

TO SAY A PLACE HAS FLAVOR... is to claim that a location's unique liveliness and look makes it a standout among destinations. Not every spot can make such a claim, but a hotel that's found near the 101, in San Luis Obispo, pretty much has the whole characterful, colorful thing locked up, and how. We speak of the Madonna Inn, a stayover icon that's been welcoming weary road-trippers with a host of themed rooms for well over half a century. Those themed rooms run the eye-popping gamut, from the much-written-about Caveman Room (with rock walls and all) to rooms themed to the Old West, carousels, golf, horseback riding, and the Alps. It fits, then, that the seasonal offerings in the hotel's Silver Bar would match these bed-filled marvels in spirit, in hue, and in panache. Look to a recent springtime favorite, the Peep Tini, which is back at the Madonna Inn for a third year. The Easter-themed adult beverage absolutely has a wee marshmallow bird floating in the middle, and a pink-rosy hue to complement the pink-everything Gold Rush Steakhouse, which is just steps away from the Silver Bar. That is pink sugar you see on the rim, because Madonna Inn Pink Sugar is an official foodstuff of the effervescent hotel, and also the spot-on sweet addition for the perfect spring cocktail. Want to know what goes into the Peep Tini, which boasts a fresh recipe for 2016?

HERE'S THE RECIPE, straight from the Madonna Inn. Take 3 parts Chambord Vodka, 1 part Limoncello, a half part lemon juice, and 1 part Chambord. You'll want to serve it in a martini glass, with a rim doused in a hefty amount of Madonna Inn Pink Sugar. The final touch? The floating Peep, of course. If you're wondering where one might procure Madonna Inn Pink Sugar, well... at the Madonna Inn, of course, or via its online store.

SO WHAT'S THE PINKEST ROOM... on the expansive property? The one to stay in, to match the Peep Tini you enjoyed in the bar? We'll vote Carin, or perhaps the Madonna Suite, two beautiful and over-the-top spaces that are truly colorful California classics.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Inn Town Campground: Reservations Open]]> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 08:58:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/InnTownCampground_ThiraGilbert_33.jpg Nevada City new: Pitch a tent or do a bit of glamping at a spread that's well-situated to the town's walkable pleasures.

Photo Credit: Thira Gilbert]]>
<![CDATA[Colony Palms: Carefree Summer Package]]> Mon, 21 Mar 2016 21:25:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Colony_Palms06bikes.jpg

SPRINGTIME IN THE DESERT... can be compared, in color and energy and excitement, to a big New Year's Eve balloon drop or old-school dancing fountains or a brass band suddenly marching through the quiet establishment where you're quietly dining. It's got a lot of moving, marvelous parts, from the nearly supernatural show of flowers popping up on the desert floor to the perfectly excellent weather to the cornucopia of major festivals and events that fill up the calendar. (Oh yes, there's Mojave Maxine, too, a celebrity tortoise who probably deserves her own springtime category.) But even if you're way into attending the Coachella Music & Arts Festival each year, or Stagecoach, or The Dinah, or one of the many golf or tennis tourneys, you can find yourself gazing in the direction of summer, when life grows a mite more relaxed around the desert resort cities. If summer in the extreme sunshine is your jam -- for with extreme sunshine comes extreme(ly relaxing) swimming -- then get on board with a warm-weather package. The Colony Palms Hotel is already offering one for the heat-up days of 2016, and it has a perfectly tempting name: The Carefree Summer Package. 

"CAREFREE," as a concept, doesn't enter our modern vernacular very much -- we do so love to tell everyone how busy we are, busy busy busy -- but a respite at this Spanish Colonial slice of Palm Springs history is flush with carefree-a-tude. There's the all-important pool, with dining and a nook-sized bar just steps away from the splash zone, and there are the funky bright prints, the textiles with global flair, to make you feel a tad chic-y (or as chic-y as you want to feel, we suppose). As for the "carefree" end of the deal? There's a 50-minute massage (so carefree) and "Special Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner menus for two at our on-site restaurant, The Purple Palm, featuring seasonal California cuisine (very carefree). And in addition to swimming, and pool-close relaxing, consider taking one of the hotel's loaner bikes for a spin, an activity you may not get to engage in all that often in your busy, busy, busy life at home. Details, prices, all that? You can line up your warm-weather getaway now: The Carefree Summer Package is good through the final day of August. So, yes, if you are festing this spring, this might be your go-to chill-out hotel.

Photo Credit: Colony Palms Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[30th Anniversary Deals at Indian Wells Resort]]> Sat, 19 Mar 2016 08:04:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/HyattRegencyIndianWells999.jpg

THIRTY HAS A LOT OF SPARKLE TO IT, as birthdays go. People do it up, much like a 16th or 21st or 50th, because a decade milestone only comes around every ten years (surely no spoiler alert is required for that revelation). But how does a location or a business or a destination approach the big marker of time, in terms of honoring it and throwing a celebration? By lining up a bunch of specials and making the number of the moment -- 30 -- come into play with each. That's just what the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa is doing to commemorate its 1986 beginnings, back when the property was the Grand Champions Resort. Time passed, the BNP Paribas Tennis Open found a home there for well over a decade, and a large-scale renovation in the early aughts brought it up to is new identity as a Hyatt Regency (a mantle it assumed in 2012). A swanky spa, well-appointed villas, golfing, tennis courts, and more fill out the sunshiny spread. A spread that'll mark its birthday in numerous ways in the days ahead. Look for...

DINING SPECIALS AT LANTANA RESTAURANT, like a special $30 bottle of wine from Sunday to Thursday at Agave Sunset, and a pair of Agave margaritas for thirty bucks (yep, you'll need two people to nab this one). Date night deals, a kid-friendly happy hour, and designated nights where the '80s tunes roll are also on the calendar. Are you staying at the hotel? Then check out...

OTHER "30"-THEMED DEALS... like $30 cabana rentals and $30 lunch special upgrades when you do rent a cabana. There are also a caboodle of throwback films from the 1980s (happening June through August) and rides in the new DesertPipe, which may zip you back to the watery ride fun you found as a youngster. For all the dates, deals, specifics, asterisks, and more, you'll only need to point your 1986-themed time machine in this direction. And keep your eye out for the "30" in its many permutations around the chill-out, pool-up desert resort.

Photo Credit: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa]]>
<![CDATA[National Park Week: Free Entry]]> Sun, 27 Mar 2016 08:00:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pinnaclesmachetenationalparkservice.jpg

MEMORIES, PHOTOS, ADVENTURE: The gifts of the national parks are many, from those that grow our knowledge to those that embolden our spirits. The knowledge growth side concerns those lessons that delve into the science side of what we're seeing in a park (the geology of the rocks, what makes tree bark rough, why squirrels hoard acorns) while the more intangible, but completely captivating, gifts we depart with are a bit harder to describe. We don't hold these gifts in our pocket -- leave only footprints, take only photographs being the guiding wisdom of every park visit -- but rather in our memories, our hearts, our heads, and, yes, our phones. Remembering a sweet breeze, or a perfect sunrise, or a frog you saw in the river, are all, ultimately free, and they're gifts to keep forever (you'll never toss them in the "to go" bin). It is quite fitting and lovely, then, to enjoy a park when it, too, is free. Oh, the majority of the parks and monuments and sites under the National Park Service umbrella are usually free, around the clock/calendar, but those 127 parks that do have an admission fee periodically kiss it goodbye, all to celebrate something major. And the most major of the free-day runs is just ahead, in the middle of April, when the fee-charging national parks waive the gate admission for a full...

NINE DAYS: That's a week-plus of no-money-spending at the entrance of your favorite national park, and it is all in honor of National Park Week. Take a look at all of the haps going down from Saturday, April 16 through Sunday, April 24, and find your go-to destination to connect with a waterfall or a grove of trees or the grand face of a granite mountain. If you noted that Earth Day falls within that date span, you'd be correct, and you'd also be correct if you guessed that several parks will host volunteer efforts on the day, the better to spiffy up nature. However you approach the week-plus of free days, keep in mind that this is indeed the longest run on the NPS calendar where gratis get-ins are concerned; most other national park-y free days solely fall on a single date. Also keep in mind that this is the service's big centennial year, so you're bound to see celebrations around the parks in honor of its happy 100th.

Photo Credit: NPS]]>
<![CDATA[Future Ski: Cali4nia Pass to Go on Sale]]> Mon, 21 Mar 2016 12:41:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/snow15mammoth_petermorningmmsa.jpg

WHAT A WINTER: It would be an understatement to say that the ski resorts of the Sierra, and those located nearer to Southern California, have had a good winter. Mammoth Mountain surpassed last year's seasonal snowfall total on Jan. 20, 2016, a date that was soon followed by a number of big storms. June Mountain, Bear Mountain, and Snow Summit all experienced some very impressive flakeage over the 2015-2016, even into March, when photos from several of our regional peaks showed various fences and car roofs sticking out of deep, deep drifts. Fans aren't done schussing just yet -- the snow scene is still happening, even as we slide into spring -- but mountain mavens are also looking ahead, to the next season, when things'll heat up (read: cool down) at the various ski resorts dotting the map. Four of those resorts, the quartet mentioned just a few sentences back, come together each year for the money-saving Cali4nia Pass. The pass is all about "season-long access to Mammoth Mountain, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, and June Mountain" for the upcoming season, with a timely twist: It can be used sooner than that, if you purchase soon. By "soon" we mean...

MARCH 21... when the pass goes on sale. It's $749 through April 5 -- yep, it goes up after that -- and the use-it-sooner part comes right away. Though it is a 2016-2017 pass, skiers and boarders can head down the hills at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit "immediately" and at Mammoth Mountain after April 11. Call it a frosty taste of things to come down the road.

OTHER BENEFITS: The benes on the Cali4nia Pass don't end at the use-it-early part of the deal; score "premium slopeside lodging of up to 20%" off as well as "discounts on retail, equipment rental, and lessons." There's more to know on the whole Bring-a-Friend end of things as well as a discount, on some mornings, for early bird skiers. The whole snowy shebang is this way, peak people. Don't try and claim you're not already daydreaming about next winter (you so are).

Photo Credit: Peter Morning/MMSA]]>
<![CDATA[New: Central Coast Cider Festival]]> Wed, 16 Mar 2016 10:01:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/189*120/centralcoastciderfest123.jpg

THAT AMBER, APPLE-Y BREW: The Golden State is rich in gold-libation'd gatherings that put the focus on foam, as in beer, as in the best quality brews that are staples of California's top-notch craft breweries. But another brew is on the rise-and-rise, a distinct but friendly cousin, if you will, to ale, but with whole fruit-forward profile. It's cider of which we speak, that apple-amazing, powerful-to-the-palate beverage that isn't just a deeper drink for autumn or winter. If beautiful core-centered, seed-sweet apples are about, it is time for cider, whether the calendar says it is fall or spring. A spring fling of the most flavorful sort is just ahead, in Atascadero. If the notion of hard cider plus the pretty Central Coast town make you think of Bristols Cider, well, you've raised the right glass: Neil Collins, the cider pro behind Bristols, wanted "to celebrate the local cider movement," on that continues to grow as wineries step beyond the grape and get to know the many sippable sides to the apple. Mr. Collins is also a vintner at Lone Madrone and Table Creek, so call the Central Coast Cider Festival, which will happen on Saturday, May 7, a treat for those gourmands of both vino and beverages that began with something sweet plucked from the branch of a tree. The pre-sale begins on...

MARCH 15, when tickets'll go for fifty bucks (the end date on that deal is April 1). After the first of April, tickets are available for sixty dollars. That ticket will put you front-and-center before about 15 to 20 regional cider makers, including Tin City Cider of Templeton, not to mention Scar of the Sea and See Canyon. The Atascadero Lake Pavilion is the place, and a traditional pig roast, with Chef Jeffrey Scott of Vineyard Events at the helm, will lend the day its centerpiece feast. Music, that Atascadero charm, and apple-y bevs that would do California's craft brews and fine wines proud will fill the first Saturday in May, a day that's quite far from fall (further proving that a stellar cider is a year-round sip).

Photo Credit: Central Coast Cider Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Flower Fields: 'An Early Bloom']]> Tue, 15 Mar 2016 12:50:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flowerfieldsmarch2016.jpg

MARCH SHOW: March has so many amazing and notable happenings, from the Easter holidays to the sun shining later at night (thank you, Daylight Saving Time) to the shiny shamrock decorations of St. Patrick's Day. But not everything is by the calendar when it comes to the third month of the year, especially the blooming of famous flowers. Wistaria might make its purply showing a week or two ahead of time, and lilacs a bit later, and trying to predict when oranges -- and those snifferous and spectacular orange blossoms -- begin to make fragrant fireworks can be an exercise in frustration. If you've ever tried to count on a rose opening at a particular time, or some violets, plant a row of buds with the hope that the open in time for a big adjacent event, like a wedding. (It will be stressful, awaiting the petals to mind your schedule.) This is all leading up to the well-known regional fact that the famous ranunculus of The Flower Fields, a garden-riffic attraction in Carlsbad, kind of do their own ranunculusian thing, year in and year out, depending upon the weather and several other horticultural factors. So booking a whole trip just to see them during their traditional open dates -- March 1 to Mother's Day -- requires a lot of hope in your heart, that you'll be there at the optimum moment. And it looks as if that...

OPTIMUM MOMENT... has arrived a bit on the soon-ish side. The Flower Fields report that an "early bloom" has made a strong showing, and the photos taken near the second weekend in March bear out that budly observation. "It's a beautiful season so far!" reads the attraction's Facebook page, so there are still stunning days to come. But if you're making for San Diego -- or heading north to LA and beyond -- and you've got an hour to stroll and snap pics, mid-March would be a fine time to do so. There's lots going on, too, around the destination, from tractor wagon rides to an organic demo garden to the sweet pea maze. It's like a funland for floral fans, with lots to do and buy and admire. But the admiring of those on-their-own-schedule ranunculus is heating up: Best go if you're gonna, for magic is happening in those fields.

Photo Credit: Flower Fields]]>
<![CDATA[Next Month in Santa Barbara]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2016 09:21:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sbvisitnewsite1.jpg

GETTING THE GETAWAY BUG... stuck in your craw can instantly lead you to the nearest screen, to research places to stay and things to do and that one restaurant your friend told you about, with the lemon risotto, the one that is escaping you, name-wise, at the moment. But not every destination's online HQ is set-up to handle those who've got the getaway bug, or at least handle in an easy-to-use manner. There's plenty to see on some famous sites, such as attractions and such, but getting to the meat -- er, lemon risotto, if you prefer -- of planning your two-nighter can involve a few wrong turns and mis-clicks. Thus it is always a pleasure to see beloved vacation spots play with the form and bubble up the attractive information -- beaches, bars, beds -- in such a way that the getaway bug is not only addressed, but met. Visit Santa Barbara has done just that, with an overhaul of their already usable site, meaning more American Riviera lovers can lay out all of their must-dos in faster fashion (fingers crossed). For when one gets that bug, the "let's leave Friday by 2 p.m." notion stuck in their craw, there's only one thing to do: Plan, with a capital P. You can start at the new site on the...

NEXT MONTH IN SANTA BARBARA... page. It's a nifty concept, one that takes the larger events calendar and shaves it down to a digestible four weeks. Top picks are listed in bold, with highlights given special play, too. There are fresh itineraries, in case you and your travel bud have no idea as to where to start on the planning front, and sb.Snapshots puts together a curtain of "I want to be there" photos, pics that include sailboats, oysters, surfers, bikes, views, and the red-tile-y stunners that are the building blocks of the burg. Haven't got the bug for a quick SB jaunt? A cruise around the site may goose you before you even go deep. Oh, dear Santa Barbara, you're always so getawayable, but with these new info paths into what you do best, that attribute has only increased.

Photo Credit: Visit Santa Barbara]]>
<![CDATA[Room Peek: V Palm Springs]]> Tue, 15 Mar 2016 15:37:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/vpalmspringsroom123.jpeg

THERE'S A LOT OF EMPHASIS... put on the fashion worn to particular desert happenings these days, from the relaxed awards look of the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January to the mid-century shifts and suits of February's Modernism Week to a certain Palm Springs-adjacent music festival, one known for flowing sundresses and worn boots and neon-rimmed sunglasses and all manner of hair wear. If this is something you give some mind to -- that you want your sartorial swagger to be en pointe for your desert getaway -- you're likely looking at hotels and inns that share some of that stylishness, too. One of the newest spots in the valley is debuting just in time for the Coachella Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach, too; it's V Palm Springs, which is located in the heart of the hubbub on Palm Canyon Drive.

PEEKS AT THE FRESH ROOMS... were just released, with the anticipation of a later-in-March opening. Yes, this is the former Curve Palm Springs Hotel & Resort, a property that just received a $15-million dollar makeover ahead of its new identity as V Palm Springs. There are 140 rooms in all, and each comes with that arid landscape-y look (think pools, snake-imagery here and there, sandstone-esque hues). "Set near the feet of the San Jacinto Mountains," the hotel is part of the up-and-up growth of South Palm Springs.

BUT WHAT WILL YOU WEAR BY THE POOLS? The sun hats and trunks never really go away during a Palm Springs winter, even as nighttime temps dip, but with a springtime debut, that whole resort wear roll-out comes on strong, even if you aren't attending a film or music festival. Best start plotting your outfits now, and eye the soon-to-open hotel as a possible place to strut your sunshine-ready sartorial stuff.

Photo Credit: V Palm Springs]]>
<![CDATA[A Blooming Special in Borrego Springs]]> Fri, 11 Mar 2016 11:05:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DESERTFLOWERS3514.jpg

URGENCY, AS A THEME, isn't always delightful, though it is something that most people come across more than a few times in their lives, in various arenas. But one arena that employs urgency in a low-level and lovely sense -- meaning do this nice thing quickly, but if you don't, there'll be more chances down the road -- are the wildflowers that spring up around our state's arid areas. Anyone following any nature feeds or park blogs can't help but feel that urgency at the end of February and into March, when photographers and writers and rangers and travelers all put out the single call: go now, go now, go now. Prod you and poke you and coax you they will, but it is up to you, dear flower fan, to find your way to the desert of your choice (and one that is said to be putting on a show). Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of those destinations, and as of early March 2016 the seasonal extravaganza is going to petal-y town, with lilies and other buds making a scattered, but always spectacular, showing. How to facilitate communing with these flowers? By booking a stay nearby, such as in Borrego Springs. Borrego Springs Resort & Spa has opened its annual Wildflower Package, one that includes a night at the hotel and some add-ons to make your search for the petals a fun one.

THOSE ADD-ONS INCLUDE... a box lunch for your road trip into the oases and canyons of the Anza-Borrego (note this includes one box lunch per person for a total of two people), plus a "hardbound" book and brochure about the region. There's also a map for the famous Ricardo Breceda sculptures, the ones that grandly dot much of the area just outside of town (think of that giant serpent and scorpion you may have seen in travel magazines). Starting price? It opens at $144 and change if you're there on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night. 

FINDING FLOWERS... around the largest state park in the contiguous U.S. requires a bit of adventuring, and perhaps going off various beaten paths, so know before you go. But knowing you'll have a resort to bed down at for the night -- there's a pool for stretching those hiker's muscles, too, later on -- makes the adventure half won. So as blogs and feeds prod you to go see the desert flowers, take into consideration packages that tie up some of the loose ends for you, pre-trip.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Four-Paw'd Fun: Pups + Palm Springs]]> Wed, 16 Mar 2016 10:02:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_2225163.jpg

THERE ARE A FEW TRIED-AND-TRUE WAYS... of connecting with other travelers on the road. You can see a stranger wearing a piece of apparel with the hometown team on it, an instant conversation-starter. You can get to talking about the weather where you are, which will inevitably lead to questions of how the weather is where they live. Or you can journey with your numero uno, your bestie, your main bud, which will draw dog devotees to you as fast as it takes to dive into the deep end of a swimming pool. Travelers who've invited their pooches along for the weekend know that this is the fastest way to connect with other travelers, whether those fellow on-the-road-ers are with pup or not. If your dog is back home, with a sitter, then you gravitate to those you see at your hotel. So the right and satisfying and fun thing to do, whether you're with your Fido or not, is to stay at a spot that welcomes Spot, and offers some fine amenities for your furry one, too. Few areas go the dog-nice distance like Palm Springs and the desert resort cities, from those inns welcoming animals to the treats and such they offer. The CVB recently compiled a roster of the places pooch people will want to consider, whether they're traveling with their canine or not. (The "or not" part simply means you're bound to meet/cuddle dogs at these places, should you need some dog time while away from your own sweet one.)

THE SAGUARO HOTEL... is one Lassie-lovin' location on the list. There's no fee for your snuggler to stay with you, and staffers "can arrange plenty of pet amenities like pet sitting, grooming, and even organic, locally met pet food!" Hiking trails nearby are also a possibility, especially if you're tail-wagger likes to stretch a leg (not all pups do, but those that do absolutely need a daily romp). Other sit-stay-sleep places on the CVB picks include La Quinta, Ace Hotel, Riviera Palm Springs, Chateau at Lake La Quinta, and Avalon Palm Springs. As for eateries? They're on the round-up, too (perhaps your pooch can sit close to those famous desert misters, if it is the warmer season). The P.S. does love its pups, as evidenced by the many dog water bowls found outside of shops throughout town, and all of those hotel amenities. Ready to roam with your lovebundle? Plot your poochy plan here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Airstream Atmosphere: Borrego Getaway]]> Thu, 10 Mar 2016 22:50:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/airstreampalmcanyon1.jpg

AIRSTREAM TRAILERS... have a way of reaching right to the very heart of retro-loving travel enthusiasts. The elongated silver hotels-on-wheels dominate our vintage dreams of what road trips were like back around the middle of the century, complete with built-in shelves and tables that fold out of walls and beds that don't waste a centimeter of space. But those same travel buffs don't always know how to reach their stay-in-an-Airstream dream, beyond buying a '60s-era gem and restoring it. (There are newer Airstreams, of course, but we speak to the mid-century adoration of the icon here.) So, where can one go back a few decades, at least the '70s and 1980s, and bed down in the silver superstar of the open road?

A FEW FUNKY SPOTS... around the Golden State cater to Airstreamists, with Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort serving as one of the main hot spots. True, the Borrego Springs property does include a hotel, as the name implies, but it is quite the quirky sight, thanks to its charming Old West theme. And there are RVs, too, people who come for a day or a month, and they, too, give Palm Canyon plenty of spunky, desert-getaway-esque cred. But the row of Airstreams and postcard-perfect "canned hams" will win over any mid-century enthusiasts making a foray into Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park for the weekend.

THERE ARE A TRIO... of nice Airstreams, complete with shaded outdoor sitting areas, to choose from, and all include a wee, Airstream-style bathroom (though there is a bath house just steps away, complete with showers and such). The smaller trailers and canned hams, with their colorful stripes and cozier interiors, start where the Airstreams end. Those do not have bathrooms, but you'll be snug in your bed or at the interior (or exterior) table. Whatever you choose, count on a dose of on-the-asphalt Americana, even if your Airstream or canned ham stays put for the night your there (which it will). It's just a gas, in the non-using-gas sense, to stay in such a famous mode of transport, one that symbolizes an older, quirkier side of road-trippery. Need a restaurant, bar, or some basics for the ridge? Palm Canyon has 'em, just off the lobby, but best visit the grocery store in Borrego Springs proper, to stock up on bites and beverages. You'll want to hang out at your canned ham all evening, watching the celebrated stars of the desert twinkle (and, if you're lucky, you'll hear a coyote or two, too, in the distance).

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Feastibal: Pebble Beach Food & Wine]]> Tue, 08 Mar 2016 15:50:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/OpeningNightReceptionphotocreditGinaSinotte.jpg

A LAUDED CHEF... making an appearance at food-themed event is pretty much always a big deal, and fine dining devotees would hardly say otherwise. But what to say of a four-day happening that includes not just one, not just ten, but over 100 top toques? Well, you could say this: We must be referring to Pebble Beach Food & Wine, which is regarded up, down, and all around as one of the planet's toniest/tastiest to-dos involving the pleasures of the plate and the good things of the glass. It can be difficult to fathom how so many nibbles, and demos, and sips, and bubbles, and forkfuls can fit within the long-weekend framework, but everything does. The key, of course, is to à la carte your way through the March 31-April 3 events, which will pop up at the resorts of the festival's namesake location. 

THE EDIBLE-DRIVEN EVENTS include "The New Napa Experience" with Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn (think "family-style cuisine" with a contemporary wine country take) as well as Boozes & Bites Lunch at the character-packed Restaurant 1833. There are beverage-centered doings, too, which shouldn't surprise anyone, as over 250 libation-smart pros'll be out and about during the four-day feastibal (which is like a festival, only more feasty). A Big Bottles Bubbles Seminar addresses why some vinos show up in vessels larger than the standard-sized wine bottle (surely a mystery to many), while Champagne Bollinger is the star at a retrospective tasting.

FOOD & WINE... is the host for all of this Pacific-close cuisine goodness, as the name reveals, and foodies from all corners, be those corners in restaurant kitchens, or at editorial desks, or in home kitchens, will be front-and-center at the events. Oh, and those events don't solely have to be à la carte, if you want to purchase a full-on, more-than-one happening package. But whatever road you take, keep in mind that A) lodging will go, go, go and B) so will spots at the brunches and lunches. "Sold out" is kind of the cri de coeur of this popular gathering, at least in the final days running up to the big event. Don't let the bubbles on attending this bash go flat (in other words, dilly-dally not).

Photo Credit: Gina Sinotte]]>