<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Worth the Trip]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usMon, 29 May 2017 03:03:00 -0700Mon, 29 May 2017 03:03:00 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Animals for Armed Forces Weekend]]> Sat, 27 May 2017 08:10:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/helenwoodwardanimalcentermemorialday.jpg

PAYING RESPECT... and honoring those who have served on Memorial Day Weekend may be done in numerous ways, from attending a parade to visiting a site rife with historical import to thanking a veteran. But sometimes organizations that aren't necessarily historic landmarks or associated with the observance want to find a way to also commemorate the occasion, and do so in a way with meaning, emotion, and a long glance at the future. The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe will be doing just that from Friday, May 26 through Monday, May 29 through a kind-of-heart promotion called Animals for Armed Forces Weekend.

"PATRIOTIC PAWS SALUTE THE U.S. MILITARY" is the theme behind the drive, which hopes to pair up "orphan animals with United States military heroes!" The Animals for Armed Forces Foundation is a partner with the Woodward on the four-day happening, a happening that will see adoption fees waived for "approved military families" hoping to welcome a new furry sweetheart into their lives. A message of gratitude is at the heart of the weekend, with the knowledge that the "...unconditional love of a pet provides years of comfort, laughter, joy, and devotion — crucial elements to assist military members and their families whose lives have been dedicated to dangerous careers and necessary bravery."

THE CENTER's... ongoing Pet Encounter Therapy program brings therapeutic animals into the lives of some 60 to 70 veterans a month. So even if you and your family choose not to adopt over Memorial Day Weekend, you can support the organization in its role of supporting those who serve in numerous, animal-sweet ways.

Photo Credit: Helen Woodward Animal Center]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Car-Free: All Aboard!]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 08:38:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SantaBarbaratrainstation123.jpg

WHEN WE TRAVEL TO A PLACE, we're often told to keep certain things handy, from a helpful app to a trusted guidebook to the phone number of a friend of a cousin of a co-worker. We want these items at the ready, in case we need to find a restaurant or a tour or a little local friendship, so we stow them in our phone or in our bag or in our noggin. But there's something a little special to keep close, in a pocket, perhaps, should you call upon the American Riviera before the final day in 2017. It's your Amtrak train ticket, for once you arrive in Santa Barbara via the train, you'll find that a number of deals will suddenly flower up, like so much bougainvillea up a red-tiled building, out of the seeming blue. But those deals aren't from nowhere: They're a part of the Santa Barbara Car Free 2017 program called "Take the Train," which gives travelers a host of perks when they show that "I arrived by the tracks" ticket. The ticket can be...

ON PAPER, A MOBILE DEVICE, OR AN E-TICKET, and the money-savers or sweet extras? Look to several hotels, from Beach House Inn to Cheshire Cat Inn, for "special offers," or the attractions and fun-dos around town, such as whale watching with the CONDOR Express and cycling wine-oriented tours with I Bike Santa Barbara. But will you hop onto the Coast Starlight to choo-choo into the stunner of a city or the Pacific Surfliner? That all depends upon the direction you're heading in from and the train you booked. Both bear romantic names, making an ultimate destination of Santa Barbara, one of our state's best-known romantic burgs, feel right. Even righter? Saving cash while you're there on some of the area's best, get-to-know-us stuff.

Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Car-Free]]>
<![CDATA[Cape Rey Carlsbad: Summer Adventures]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 11:21:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/capereysummeradventures123.jpg

SUMMERTIME'S MANY PLEASURES? We often name the foods that we associate with the season, from vine-sweet tomatoes to watermelon to various limeades and lemonades. Later, brighter nights are also a favorite, as are afternoons spent building castles on the beach. But the bare-shoulder-iest, freckle-nose-iest stretch of the year can also see a number of festive hotel packages, the kind of packages that cleave well to the spirit of longer days and flip-flops and cooling beverages. Cape Rey Carlsbad is one such place that is fully embracing the spirit of summer via a line-up of packages that include treats for guests traveling as a fun-seeking family unit as well as those duos looking to spend some wind-down time dining and relaxing. The 2017 summer packages include...

SUN, SAND & LEGOLAND!, which includes a pair of single-day passes to the nearby theme park, as well as roundtrip shuttle (it's gratis). Breakfast each day for two adults and two kids at Chandler's is also included. There's also the Stay, Play & Save 15% Off LEGOland package, which includes a cool $50 dining credit to Chandler's as well as 15% a host of area attractions. Are there new additions to Chandler's summer menu? There are. Might you book your own Beach Butler Service through the hotel, to maximize your time at Ponto Beach? You can. Should you check out the new Surf Ride Adventure Lounge at Cape Rey, where surfboards and bikes may be rented and lessons out on the waves lined up? Count on it connecting you with some of summer's most classic pursuits, cycling and hanging ten. Ready to connect with some of the pastimes that best represent the summer of our daydreams? Grab a board and sand-jog thisaway.

Photo Credit: Cape Rey Carlsbad]]>
<![CDATA[Double Eagle Resort: Free Alfresco Yoga]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 11:18:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/doubleeaglefreeyoga.jpg

YOGA FLOWS ON MANY LEVELS, inside, outside, and a few other sides as well, but a practitioner can be counted upon to find their own beautiful interior atmosphere, and spectacular setting, regardless of where the yogi happens to physically be located. Still, though, yoga devotees do seek out novel and gorgeous settings, such as beaches, places that inspire, calm, and further fill out the interior world of the one performing the poses. If you are hoping to commune with such a natural spot, arise from your mat and gaze upon The Switzerland of California, June Lake, and the Double Eagle Resort and Spa. True, much of June Lake, and the Double Eagle, has been under a good deal of snow over the one-for-the-books winter of 2016-2017. But balmier days are ahead, at least in terms of what "balmier" is in a higher-elevation setting, and the charming property is offering an attractive perk to yoga-loving guests. It's...

OUTDOOR YOGA, and it is free if you happen to be staying in one of the Double Eagle's not-too-rustic cabins, and it will all happen in view of those aforementioned, Switzerland-like peaks. In fact, if you've been to June Lake, you may have found yourself rather smitten with Carson Peak, one of the most dramatic formations in all of the Golden State. If sitting in Easy Pose within sight of this epic wonder, all on a great summer day, appeals, ask Double Eagle about their schedule of upcoming classes once temperatures begin to toast up. Can you close your eyes, focus your mind, and almost picture yourself at Carson's tippy-top point? It's a real communing-with-nature spot, June Lake, and a free yoga session will only further enhance that vibe.

Photo Credit: Double Eagle Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Cavallo Point Lodge: Summer of Love]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 07:05:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Michal_Venera_CAV.jpg

THE SUMMER OF LOVE... is a rhythm, a vibe, an outlook, and a full-on approach to art and living, but, above all, it was an actual, it-really-happened time. That time was indeed summer, in 1967, though many important events occurred before and after that amazingly short period, too. And while oodles of people embraces the rhythm and outlook that the hallowed '67 stretch symbolizes, those same people are seeking to connect with the monumental season of music, love, and change on a look-back, educational level, too. The opportunities to do so will be plentiful over the summer of 2017, the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love, and Cavallo Point Lodge, the storied spread of vintage buildings in Sausalito, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge, wants to help guests find more stories, characters, and messages from that multi-month course-changer of a moment. The property's new...

SUMMER OF LOVE PACKAGE... includes accommodations in either a Contemporary or Historic Room, and round-trip transportation to both the Haight (where a self-guided tour, voiced by none other than Peter Coyote, will lead you by some major sites o' '67) and the de Young Museum, which is featuring an exhibit called "The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll" through Aug. 20, 2017. Also provided for your trip into the city? A picnic lunch, to keep your energy up for all of that summery soaking-in. And if you're staying on a Sunday, Cavallo Point is providing a ride to Stern Grove, the sound-sweet staple now in its 80th year. The hotel also has a playlist to download full of hits of the era, including Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and more greats. For prices, details, asterisks, and all of the vibes you'll need to grok to before finding your path back to a summer in the past, start here, flower people and lovers of this journey of life.

Photo Credit: Michal Venera]]>
<![CDATA[Idyllwild Sweet: Paws for Rhythm and Blues]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 10:57:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_44420383.jpg

HEADING UP THE MOUNTAIN... as temperatures do that creeping up (or zooming up) thing, just ahead of summer, is a time-honored rite many Southern Californians eagerly await. The thought of being among the firs, and savoring a picnic, and tossing a ball, over and over, to your best four-footed pal tempts, especially when afternoons have gotten mighty tempting at lower elevations. One of the up-the-mountain go-to spots for many people living around the region happens to boast a name that is as nice as a day spent there: Idyllwild. The Mt. San Jacinto-lovely, Palm Springs-close getaway is known for its laid-back cool and take-it-easy approach, as well as its cooler temps, great August jazz weekend, and a multitude of mountaintop pleasures. One of those classic pleasures comes in the form of quality craft beers and solid supping, and both of those pursuits will be paired with a pet-themed fundraiser called...

PAWS FOR RHYTHM AND BLUES: The Saturday, June 3 event lands at the Idyllwild Nature Center, complete with the aforementioned brews, the flavorful vittles, and something sweet at heart: "All proceeds benefit the homeless dogs and cats of Idyllwild and surrounding mountain communities." Have a "well-mannered" pet that would also like to attend? They're so invited. Like live blues music, home-brewing demos, and more mountain-merry good-timing of a grown-up variety? That'll be there. Can't wait to get up to the pines before summer sets in? The first Saturday in June sounds like a fine and fundraising moment to do so.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Kinetic Grand Championship: Whimsy Machines]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 07:31:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kinetic2016tinak.JPG Outlandishly imagined vehicles will roll — and float — in Humboldt County.

Photo Credit: Tina Kerrigan Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Renaissance Indian Wells: Sunny Deals]]> Fri, 19 May 2017 07:44:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/renaissanceindianwells2017.jpg

WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO BREAK THIS TO YOU, but living full-time in a swimming pool just isn't possible, really, for anyone, unless you're a pool noodle or inflatable swan. We may wish we could remain, eternally, sitting on the steps of the shallow end, while we sip something refreshing and adjust our hat just so (so it doesn't dip into the water), but "eternally" never seems to be in the cards, when it comes to taking up residence in a pretty pool. But revisiting a cool body of blue-blue water when the weather warms up? That is, in fact, possible, and if you book a room near it, you can probably spend as much time as you like in the shallow end, beverage-sipping and hat-adjusting. And it just so happens that the desert resorts are lush with perfect poolage, and as the temperatures heat up, the money-spending in many places goes down, down, down. Making you and your reunion with the shallow end steps all the more probable. The...

RENAISSANCE INDIAN WELLS... just announced a few solid specials as we head into the middle of May and sunny (read: toasty) days. There's the Double Your Fun for an Extra $50, which gives resort guests an opportunity to book a second room for a cool fifty bucks (starting at $209 a night). The code? It's P51. A Summer Chill Package starts at $225 and includes a $50-minute spa treatment, as well as a night's stayover. And if you have tots under 12 with you, there's a Family Getaway — Kids Eat Free special afoot. Same code as earlier, P51, and the kid's menu is available at CAVA or at the pool café. Ah yes, the pool café, so close to where you'll lounge for a few hours in the shallow end. Are you feeling the wrinkly fingertips now? You'll have to leave the pool eventually, but, while you're relaxing there, you're free to pretend the shallow home is your new address.

Photo Credit: Renaissance Indian Wells]]>
<![CDATA[Lavender Love: The Purple Golden State]]> Thu, 18 May 2017 07:40:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lavGettyImages-89261459.jpg

LAVENDER IN THE AIR: What are the signs, as you amble through a new neighborhood, that there's a patch of lavender nearby? Maybe it is that singular fragrance, which can only be described as "lavender-like." Maybe you spy a bee, or three, buzzing by on their way to clocking in for the day at the nearest lavender bush. Or perhaps you spy a streak of purple, through some shrubs, and you know that while there are a host of purple-pretty flowers in this world, the purple of lavender is, well, to say it again, lavender-like and incredibly singular. But you don't need to wait for a chance lavender encounter on your next visit to a never-visited-before street; California ups its lavender game each May and June, with a full-on Ojai festival indulging in all things herb-a-licious. The 2017 festival is on...

SUNDAY, JUNE 24... at Ojai's Libbey Park, and it will boast "over 100 vendors" on the grounds. And if you're just betting that loads of those vendors'll be purveying in lavender soaps and bath oils and pot pourris and wearables and beverages, you're as right as a bee buzzing in sunshine. (Which is a pretty right thing, as right things go, all told.) The only course of action, if you're in love with lavender, is to pay the fest a visit, or make a plan to make a pilgrimage to a ranch or farm that is open to lavender-obsessed lookie-loos. One such spot, not far from Chico, in Biggs, is the aptly named Lavender Ranch. Look also to Keys Creek Lavender Farm, in Valley Center, Pageo Lavender Farm, in Turlock, and Clairmont Farms in Los Olivos for more purple majesty. One note before setting off on your lav daydream? Check dates and hours for the farm you're hoping to visit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week]]> Sun, 21 May 2017 11:18:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Riviera_Palm_Springs_203628_Cantala_Restaurant.jpg

WHATEVER YOU'RE UP TO IN THE DESERT, be it a morning on the golf course, a day spent splashing in a pool (or trying not to get splashed), or an afternoon on the tram, or an evening out at a concert, you're going to need to eventually find your sunny sustenance. Even if the sun has bid goodbye for the day, and all of those famous desert stars are out, you can still call the cuisine of the Greater Palm Springs area "sunny sustenance," because the warm clime, and beautiful environs, inspire many a chef to create a cuisine that's, well, upbeat in terms of flavors, presentation, and general pizzazz. There's never a heavy-handedness to P.S. fare, though, of course, many dishes can be rib-sticking and fill-the-tum traditional. Whether you go for rib-sticking or a classic salad or something with a nouveau spin, you surely like saving some cash, which is one of the themes of the annual...

GREATER PALM SPRINGS RESTAURANT WEEK: As it does each year, this deal-flush festivity will spread out over several days in early June. The 2017 dates are Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 11 and more than 100 eateries are on board. And by "on board" we mean doing the whole lunch special (two courses or more) and dinner special (three courses or more) thing. The menus for lunch have three price points ($15, $20, and $25), while dinner'll cost somewhere along the $29, $39, $49 nexus. What places jumping into all of this delicious revelry? Cantala at Riviera Palm Springs, Schnitzelhaus Palm Desert, Mr. Lyon's Steakhouse, 533 Viet Fusion, Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill at La Quinta, and oodles of other tempting spots. As for what's doing in the desert in late spring? Oh so much, but check it out: "Mirage," the now-famous mirror house from Desert X, remains open and visitable.

Photo Credit: Cantala Restaurant]]>
<![CDATA[National Trails Day: Find Your Path]]> Thu, 18 May 2017 09:37:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTTC170307094236_045maxwhittaker.jpg

MAYBE YOU HAVE BIG SUMMER PLANS, or, scratch that, start over, you have amazingly gargantuan goals, the kind of goals that entail you hiking a mile in each California-based national park or calling upon every state park that's within 20 miles of the beach. We can order our nature-fun goals in almost limitless ways, creating different combinations of where and when and why we go to a place, but, very often, every wilderness plan involves a hike of some sort. And if there's a hike, quite often there's a trail, a pathway that others before you have trod (meaning future trodders will one day take it, too). Finding a beloved trail, or a few dozen, is a joy if you're a regular hiker, or even if you don't get out and commune with the trees and canyons as often as you'd like. But there's a day that reminds us of all the fantastic, wending pathways out there, and it comes when the big hiking season is truly picking up steam. It's...

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY, and it will grab its walking stick, and favorite boots, and head out on Saturday, June 3. The American Hiking Society-helmed occasion boasts a number of meet-up events, so simply try to find a group close to where you want to explore. In California? Join Big Bear's National Trails Day at Aspen Glen, Lopez Lake Trail Work Day in Arroyo Grande, or another hike-ready happening. Even if you and your hiking bud simply want to hit an oldie/goodie on your own, without making it to an event, well, that's way cool, too. Let the date, the first Saturday in June, be the inspiration you need to quickly finalize your summer hiking goals list, and then get moving. Summer's short, and very sweet, and the trail? It's long, at least, in your heart, if you connect together all the trails you've loved.

Photo Credit: Max Whittaker]]>
<![CDATA[Dapper Day Fall 2017: Book Your Hotel]]> Tue, 16 May 2017 06:18:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dapperdayparasolslauriescavo12345.jpg

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE... to properly clean a crinoline that's come into contact with a sprinkling of churro sugar or a Dole Whip float? How much time will you put aside to properly fold your gloves, and your stockings, and to polish the bow-topped shoes you rocked at the spring 2017 Dapper Day at Disneyland Resort? Caring for our clothing, especially vintage togs that might need a little extra TLC, does take a few extra minutes, but those are minutes that many a Dapperist will gladly put in, the better to make sure their get-up shines the next time they wear it. And as long as we're on the topic of time, and how long it takes for things to happen, consider this slice of the calendar: The spring, sartorial-sweet outing just wrapped a few weeks back, but Dapper Day Fall 2017 is on the fall horizon, meaning that you won't be stowing that parasol or boater hat for too long. In fact, the organizers of the dress-up event, which is not affiliated with the theme park, just posted.

A HOTEL SPECIAL... for the resort properties in Anaheim, Florida, and Paris. If you're doing Dapper Day at any of those spots, and you'd like to stay close to the action, the better to keep your crinoline and gloves looking perfecto, best hook into what you need to do to score a great rate soon, as "(t)hese rates will sell out as always," advises a posting on Facebook. What's the date for Disneyland Resort? Why it is Sunday, Nov. 5, and the full Disneyland Hotel expo is on Nov. 4 and 5, which is, of course, but a few days after Halloween. Do note that Dapper Day is all about skirt-swirling, suit-snazzy style, and not costuming, so you'll need to pursue your Halloween outfit and your Dapper Day ensemble concurrently but separately. How soon will autumn be here? As fast as a cold draft of air from the Haunted Mansion, trust, so best unhand your crinoline and boater and book now.

Photo Credit: Laurie Scavo]]>
<![CDATA[The Flying Fish of Catalina Island]]> Tue, 16 May 2017 06:18:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flyingfishvisitcatalina.jpg

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE... the typical movements of the fin-sporting, gill-rocking denizens of the ocean? Would you say that our fish friends swim, or float in place, or drift? Does it depend on the species in question? Are there other words to describe the ways the piscine world travels, from wriggling to shimmy? You could probably summon a dozen terms, right now, from skimming to flitting, but we'll wager that you'd never, ever say that a fish can fly. Unless, of course, you hail from Catalina Island, or spend a good amount of time at Two Harbors or Avalon or in the inland canyons (if so, lucky). For Catalina does happen to be home to the famous Flying Fish, or, rather, the famous Flying Fish hang out in the nearby waters. Let's clear up two things pronto: The Flying Fish do not have wings, but rather pectoral fins that do seem an awful lot like bird wings, at least when seen from a distance. And two? The Flying Fish does appear to "fly" over the surface of the water for several feet, though it flaps not but rather glides.

WHEN CAN ONE SEE THIS WONDER? Nighttime is the right time for Flying Fish sightings, and summertime, too, is the season for the spectacle. Everything Flying Fish tends to get to gliding after Memorial Day Weekend, while the wrap up falls just ahead of the the beginning of autumn. Visit Catalina Island has the information on boats, times, and prices, so you'll likely want to line that up before your island idyll. And you may want to consider how you describe the movements of fishies down the road. They can swim, of course, and sometimes shimmy, and if you're in the right spot on the right summer night, they can even take flight.

Photo Credit: Visit Catalina]]>
<![CDATA[Sky Show: Death Valley After Sunset]]> Fri, 12 May 2017 11:27:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Racetrack-Playa-2-Dana-McMullen.jpg

THE DESERT REGION, and, in particular, Death Valley National Park, get a lot of attention from what's happening from sunrise to the moment the big ball o' fire dips behind the furthest mountain range. We describe arid areas as "sunny" and "super-duper sunny" and "so sunshiny you'd think you're standing on Mercury," the nearest planet to the sun. This is, in large part, what makes the desert the desert — beautiful, warm, often hot, golden days — but so much of the action in the area happens when the sun has ceded its stage to a host of other stars, that fabled blanket of night. Few places are starrier than Death Valley and our California deserts, thanks to their deep, low-illumination darkness, and to their wide-of-sky, vast-of-horizon feel. Okay, maybe a planetarium might sport more stars, but to see those gaseous, faraway superstars in their natural habitat, the desert truly is among the most desired locales. And coming up?

THERE ARE METEOR SHOWERS, like the famous Perseids in August, but there are sky shows ahead of that. The Eta Aquarids took place on May 6 and 7, but the Delta Aquarids are ahead with a 20-meteors-per-hour kind of extravaganza ("at its peak") in late July. And, yep, the Perseids shall grandly return on Aug. 12 and 13, 2017. Where to stay? Furnace Creek Resort is a fine in-the-national-park choice, and finding a dark-dark spot near the Inn or Ranch shouldn't be too hard (so bring your portable telescope, or simply your awe and wonder). No one's dissing the sun — it's a grand and glorious source of light, heat, and life, through and through — but loving the desert after-sunset, at its least sunshiny, is part of adoring la vida aridness, too.

Photo Credit: Dana McMullen/Furnace Creek Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Shark Search: New Dana Point Tour]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 07:35:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sharkboatdanapoint.jpg

IT'S A MEGA UNDERSTATEMENT... to say that more than a few critters call our ocean home. The big water fully teems and burbles with all kinds of life, from coral to crabs to the largest living creatures on this planet. Which means we could spend a lifetime, or several, attempting to see just a sliver of these beasties in their regular habitat. And while whale-watching outings are regular happening around the shores of Southern California, finding one that puts the focus on another mondo-of-size superstar can be a bit trickier. We speak of the shark, yes, and while there are places to see the fin-fantastic wonders, from the pettable sharks of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach to the recently debuted Shark Frenzy ride at the Santa Monica Pier, heading out onto the oceanic vastness to see what we can see is a rarer treat. But should you sign up with the new...

SHARK SEARCH SATURDAY... adventures, with Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, you just might get a glimpse of some gargantuan, gill-rocking shark. A number of young great whites have been seen in recent days around Long Beach, and guests aboard the OCean Adventures Catamaran may come across the famous shark as well as makos, threshers, hammerheads, and blues. You'll certainly see some beautiful sea birds, and maybe those barking cuties that hang close to the harbor (hello seals, hello sea lions). The first Shark Search? It's opened on Saturday, May 13. The price? It's $45, and the company limits the number of guests "for better viewing." Might you come across one of these epic, oh-so-prehistoric icons? It could happen: The ocean is colossal and deep with living treasure.

Photo Credit: Frank Brennan]]>
<![CDATA[World's Ugliest Dog: Enter Now]]> Wed, 10 May 2017 12:53:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/gettyuglydog74868994.jpg

EVERY PUP IS AN INDIVIDUAL, with a distinctive personality (pupsonality?), and a distinctive snout (be it flat or very long), and a tail that doesn't quite curl or curls so tightly the pooch has a charming resemblance to a lil' piglet. And this is, in large part, why we adore them so, for all of a Fido's particular attributes help fill out his character, spirit, and presence. The Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair celebrates the offbeat essence of those hounds who rock a truly marvelous mien, from an extra-extra long tail to a snaggle tooth or two to a set of lopsided ears. This isn't meant to mock the adorable mutties but rather to show what all lovers of Lassies and Laddies know: Every pup is a work of perfection, and an awesome snaggle tooth or weirdly curly tail only enhances that fact. And the contest, which is quite light-of-heart and benevolent, through and through, reminds potential dog adoptees everywhere to welcome all waggers, no matter how snaggly or tail-curly. The World's Ugliest Dog Contest will once again roll at the early-summer Petuluma party on...

FRIDAY, JUNE 23: The top prize is $1500, plus you'll net a shiny trophy, which, of course, you'll want to put right next to your dog's bed, so she can admire it whenever she pleases. Also? You'll be flown to the Big Apple to make a few media appearances. Also? If you choose to enter, and do so by May 15, 2017, your entry fee is nada, as in waived, as in free. But the sweetest part of the sweet celebration, surely? Meeting other pup parents on the day of and finding out the backstory of their baby. Maybe the pup was a rescue, or maybe the pup has been a loyal, loving, 15-year companion to their human. Every tail — er, tale — is touching, and each reminds us of the power of pup love, and how a snaggle tooth, or an extra-waggly walk, can easily and thoroughly win us over.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/David Paul Morris]]>
<![CDATA[Lompoc Flower Fields: Sweet Pea Time]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 22:03:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lompoc_Sweet_Peas_FlowerFields_creditExploreLompoc.com.JPG

IF YOU'RE A WILDFLOWER FAN, and you've been following the multi-month roll-out of wildflower sightings around the state, from the dry gullies of Anza-Borrego State Desert Park to the gentle hills of Carrizo Plain National Monument, you've likely heard some of the same blossom handles over and over again: California poppies, goldfields, sunflowers, lupines, and fiddlenecks. But there are other flowers in the Golden State that are of the carefully tended and cultivated variety, and they, too, our springtime superstars, from the ranunculus of The Flower Fields in Carlsbad to the many varieties springing up in fields around Lompoc. The Santa Barbara County burg's flower season revs up around April and can push into early fall, but you're sure to see some sweetness if you visit the mural-lovely town in May and June. We said "sweetness" on purpose there, for it looks as though the sweet peas, those fragrant and frilly beauties, are now breaking out, colorfully.

A PHOTO SHARED... on the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Bureau's Facebook page on May 4, 2017 reveals a field in lush bloom. Coming across a growing sweet pea, outside of a backyard pot or plot, isn't the easiest thing in the world, so spying a profusion of them is quite the treat for the sweetpea-ists of the Golden State. But other flowers are locally famous, too, around Lompoc, including marigold, larkspur, and stock. To see what's happening at the wine country-close fields, and to time your visit, best eye this helpful pdf guide to Lompoc's springtime show. 

Photo Credit: ExploreLompoc.com]]>
<![CDATA[California State Fair: Tickets on Sale]]> Mon, 08 May 2017 12:11:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carnival2castate.jpg

WHATEVER YOU HAVE IN YOUR FRIDGE... around the beginning of May is probably not too dissimilar to what was there at the beginning of April and the beginning of March, too. Where we're going with this is easy to grok: Our at-home eating patterns tend to stay fairly consistent, at least in terms of the tried, true, and tasty staples we turn to on a daily basis. But, along about summer, when the first Ferris wheels begin to turn and the first throw-a-ring game flicks on the lights, our at-home hankerings are often ruffled by some outside, highly seasonal temptations: fair food. And one of the titans on the midway-merry, quirky-cuisine schedule just happens to be the (very) longtime state hoop-di-doo for the Golden State, none other than the world-famous California State Fair. If you're already dreaming of summer-style snacking, from corn dogs to fried candy bars, you can...

PURCHASE YOUR DISCOUNT TICKET NOW: That's right, as of this typing, deals are available for those who want to snack at the Sactown staple (and ride rides and pet goats and eye beautifully made quilts and see concerts). A single-day adult admission to the July 14-30 everything-fest is ten bucks, but, as is the way with the state fair, there are passes and promotional days to consider. As for what you'll be chowing down on? Look to some of the highlights of recent years to get your appetite stoked: Deep-fried pastrami pizza, corn on the cob wrapped in bacon, and a peanut butter and jelly cheesecake that's been deep-fried and slathered in bubble gum frosting have made colorful, take-a-photo cameos in the past. What will you have to nosh upon, and later brag about, in 2017? The foods in our pantry may stay consistent, but when the California State Fair arrives, all bets are off (or, rather, all bites are on your plate).

Photo Credit: California State Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Capistrano Excitement: Nesting Swallows]]> Sun, 07 May 2017 21:32:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/missionsanjuancapistrano12345.jpg

IF YOU KNOW SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, YOU KNOW... it's gorgeous. Really gorgeous, and the perfect air and the sunlight should be bottled, and on that bottle the words "soft and breezy" should be printed. You also know that the train runs right through it, that the Los Rios Historic District is home to a bevy of structures from the 1800s, and the ZOOMARS petting zoo has some of the cutest, most-stroke-able sweeties around. What else is in your bank of Capistrano-related knowledge? You surely, 100%, and definitely know there happens to be, plunk in the middle of all the bustling action, one of the Golden State's famous missions, a treasure of an historical site, a location that is very much associated with the avian world. If you just excitedly said "swallows!" you're correct, for...

MISSION SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO... and the late-winter return of the swallows is as storied as California stories come. St. Joseph's Day, March 19, is the traditionally observed swallows-return date, and even if few swallows are seen on March 19, it is still an occasion held close to the heart of many a mission maven. And while there is a Fiesta de las Golondrinas each March in San Juan Capistrano, and a full-on Swallows' Day observation, finding swallows nowadays has been... trickier. A 90's-era restoration on the grounds of the mission meant the swallows' nesting areas were disrupted, leading to a drop in returning birds. But a host of means to invite the birds back in greater numbers, including faux nests made of plaster, have been employed in recent years. And the result?

A JOY-FILLED VIDEO, straight from the mission and posted on Wednesday, May 3, revealing an actual cliff swallows' nest nestled in a centuries-old wall. For a peek at the wee nest, which takes many mud pellets to build, and to hear more about the effort to bring the swallows back to Mission San Juan Capistrano, give a quick watch and learn more from the mission's executive director Mechelle Lawrence Adams and Megan Dukett, the education program manager.

Photo Credit: Mission San Juan Capistrano]]>
<![CDATA[Ocean Adventure: Scuba Show]]> Fri, 05 May 2017 11:42:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/scubashow2017.jpg

300 EXHIBITORS: Wherever you are on your diving journey, whether you've completed 500 dives in a variety of hidden cays and coves around the world or you're just starting to think about dipping a toe into the water, a scuba-smart expo can come in handy. Why? Well, when there are 300 exhibitors on the grounds of the expo representing all manner of equipment and gear and suits and travel opportunities, you get a wider view of what's out there, even if you've done it all, or feel as though you have. And if you haven't done it all, or even begun to do it, then this could be the tiny push you need in the direction you've been pondering. The Scuba Show, which is celebrating its 30th year in 2017, will once again paddle into the Long Beach Convention Center for two days of info-packed-a-tude, the kind of information-sharing both pros and newbies desire. The dates are...

SATURDAY, MAY 6 AND SUNDAY, MAY 7, and newcomers to the pursuit are invited to dip into the "try-diving pool," for free, "with the help of trained professionals." Themed photo areas will provide light-hearted costume-up opportunities, while a huge 19-foot video wall will beam in a live feed from the Catalina exhibit at the nearby Aquarium of the Pacific. As for products and such? A new product showcase will give seasoned scuba divers a look at what's just coming onto the market. Sustainable seafood cooking demos, helpful seminars, door prizes (including trips), and other happenings will swim through the weekend-long convention like a large school of fish. Need to commune with the ocean and all of its glub-glub-able glory? You'll need a ticket, so flip your flippers this way.

Photo Credit: Scuba Show]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Prom: Dressy Fido Fundraiser]]> Fri, 05 May 2017 18:51:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/puppypromhelenwoodward1234.jpg

***UPDATE: Due to the rainy weather expected on May 7, the Puppy Prom will now be held on Sunday, May 21.***

CINCO DE MAYO-THEMED FIESTA: Did your tail-wagger go to prom this spring? No? Did you miss snapping sweet photos on the porch, and fixing his boutonniere, and posting on all of your social media faves? There's still a chance for your furry charge to attend prom, and they don't even need a promposal or fancy engraved invitation or any other reason to go. Here's the main reason behind Puppy Prom, and it is as sweet as the smell of a pup straight from a soapy bath: The annual Helen Woodward Animal Center event, which invites all alumni pups to get gussied up and come back to prom it up, is a fundraiser for the sweet, beastie-assisting organization. The first thing to note, though, about the 5th annual Puppy Prom is it is not, repeat not, happening at the Rancho Santa Fe center. Rather, you'll want to head for Casa Sol y Mar at the Del Mar Highlands Center for the Sunday, May 21 hound-happy hubbub, and you'll want to dress up your dog if you're so inclined. And there's a theme for 2017: Cinco de Mayo.

"PROM COOKIES AND AGUA"... will be made available to the canine guests, while "free light Mexican appetizers" for the humans will be provided by Casa Sol y Mar (drinks will be available to buy). The prom is free for alumni of the center, so if you adopted your sweetie there, that's you and yours. To enter in the Best Dressed Prom Rey y Reina? That's a $10 donation, and, yes, that helps out the center. Other to-dos, from the making of corsages to the posing for photos, are on the morningtime roster. Oh yes, it's a late-morning kinda thing, so be at Casa Sol y Mar from 10 a.m. to noon on May 21. Happy proming, pups and pup-loving people!

Photo Credit: Helen Woodward Animal Center]]>
<![CDATA[Mammoth: Kids Ski Free Through Season]]> Sat, 06 May 2017 11:22:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mammothmountainkidsskifree1.jpg

THE FIRST OF MAY... may be focused on the making of flower crowns and petal-laden baskets, but, if you're some 11,000 feet up the side of a peak, it could very well be about snow, too. Mammoth Mountain schussed into May with some serious slope action, with few springtime buds to be seen (but many poles, skis, and goggles). The first of May is also when the bustling Sierra resort kicked off a deal that's sure to catch the eye of families hoping to put one more day in on the slopes (or a few). The headline? If your tot is 12 or under, and adores spending time geared-up for a frosty outing, they can ski for free for the remainder of the Mammoth season. And that's nothing to sniff at, thanks to the fact that the Mono County destination intends to stay open through the Fourth of July. But not only do the 12-and-unders ski for free, they...

RIDE FOR FREE... through Independence Day. One thing to note? The resort "(m)ay require proof for older children," so keep that in mind before you head up Highway 395. Another unrelated notion to chew on, although it is a bit related, given that it deals with the outdoors and under-the-sun pursuits? "Fishmas" kicked off in Mono and Inyo Counties on Saturday, April 29, if you and the fam want to make it a whirlwind cast-a-line, ski-a-slope kind of weekend. For all the details on the Kids Ski Free through the rest of the season scene, and what else is happening up the big mountain, point your poles over here.

Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Botanic Garden: Blue Star Opens]]> Tue, 02 May 2017 11:22:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sdbgcobb_16_03444.jpg

DELIGHTFUL DEALS... can flower in summertime like a garden full of flowers, but finding those flowers — er, deals — ahead of time can be as tricky as picking out the sweetest smelling blossom. But a summer-classic special is now flowering at San Diego Botanic Garden, and it is doing so a few weeks early. It's the Blue Star Museum program, which gives "active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve," complimentary admission to a host of cultural, historical, and natural institutions and destinations around the country. The began-in-2010 program has a traditional start on Memorial Day, and a traditional last day in early September (on Labor Day), but a certain lush, shrub-packed spread in Encinitas is ready to make the deals happen a bit faster. That's right, we are talking about the San Diego Botanic Garden, which just announced that it is observing the Blue Star Museum deal opened on...

MONDAY, MAY 1: Indeed, the beautiful spot is getting the Blue Star sweetness going "...more than 3 weeks ahead of other Blue Star Museum participants!" While there are a number of special events ahead, like the Chocolate Festival on Saturday, May 13 and a Fairy Festival later in June, you and your kin might simply long to stroll about the 37-acre property while admiring the "29 uniquely themed gardens." There's a pair of kid-fun gardens, too, if your young'uns want some play time. Picture the fresh air, the fragrant plants, the soft sunshine, and the gratis admission, which comes from a place of gratitude and respect for your service. Blue Star Museums is a wonderful program, truly, and that San Diego Botanic Garden is getting it going so early also is worthy of a high five. Details? Find them here.

Photo Credit: Rachel Cobb]]>
<![CDATA[Catalina Swanky: Avalon Ball]]> Mon, 01 May 2017 11:03:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DSC_4188-%28ZF-3481-94825-1-023%29+%281%29.jpg

"BY GUM"... is among the handiest of exclamations, in part because it means business. When you "by gum" something, you are not messing around, no siree, you are stating what's what. And if you've been to Catalina Island, and strolled the quaint streets of Avalon, and spied the glorious Casino Building in all of its '20s-era elegance, you probably, we're just predicting here, let out a pretty loud "by gum!," for all to hear. And your "by gum" meant this: One day, very soon, you'd dance in that very building, much like gussied-up revelers used to dance there, on the regular, back in the 1920s and '30s. 

OF COURSE, THE CASINO BUILDING... still sees parties aplenty nowadays, and there is that spectacular Art Deco-ized cinema within its round-y walls, too, but finding a vintage event, one that recalls the Casino's early heyday, is a bit trickier. This isn't tricky at all, though: The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles throws a swell soiree each year called the Avalon Ball, and attendees really do go for the pin curls and bow ties and spats and glittery lamé gowns, all to evoke a bygone time. That soiree is ready to swell again, on...

SATURDAY, MAY 20: Dean Mora & the Avalon Ball Dance Orchestra will croon while revelers swoon over the big band vibes, while, just beyond the dance floor, the beautiful harbor falls under the spell of nighttime. The ballroom is a true time travel machine, with its "arching, fifty-foot ceiling" and period details, so prepare to spend as much time agoging as you do dancing. And will you "by gum!" a couple of times, just because you're so thrilled to have finally fulfilled your promise to yourself, to dance at the Casino Building ballroom? Well, by gum, how could you not?

Photo Credit: Art Deco Society of Los Angeles]]>
<![CDATA[Badwater Salton Sea: Mega Desert Event]]> Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:32:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2016BWSSstart.jpg

BEAUTIFUL ANZA-BORREGO, that bighorn-sheep-tacular, ocotillo-amazing desert state park, has been much in the headlines in recent weeks, thanks to the doesn't-happen-every-year superbloom. Lookie-loos were out in flowery force, looking up and down for a colorful wildflower show, the kind of show that can't always be counted on in an arid place. For the most part, those wildflower seekers strolled, and even stopped a lot, the better to admire petals from close range. But strolling, and easy sauntering, will not be the rule of the road around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on Sunday, April 30 and Monday, May 1. That's when the famous, how-do-they-do-it?, major run the...

BADWATER SALTON SEA ULTRAMARATHON... trots on through. But to make the claim that a running event it taking on a bit a state park doesn't tell the whole story of the Badwater, which is among the planet's most intense ultramarathons. It all begins at the low-low Salton Sea, to the east of the Anza-Borrego, and it ends, 28 hours later, at the most... up on tall-tall Mount Palomar. That's a lot of miles covered — some 81 in all — and all in just over a day. Is it a relay? It is not, though teams of two runners or three will stick together. What's the elevation gain? Overall, over 9,000 feet, which is a mind-boggler, truly. If you know the...

"BADWATER"... event name from elsewhere, your memory is likely being jogged by the Death Valley to Mount Whitney summertime run, "The World's Toughest Foot Race." People do come out to lend support to the athletes, both at Salton Sea and in Death Valley. Even if you don't, keep in mind these mega warm-weather hauls the next time you're driving in the area, covering a mile a minute, and marvel at what goes into preparing and excelling at such a feat.

Photo Credit: Badwater Salton Sea]]>
<![CDATA[Cool Down Up High: Tram Summer Pass]]> Sun, 30 Apr 2017 12:48:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/pstramway1234.jpg

STARING AT FROZEN PEAS IN THE FREEZER... can offer a momentary, much-desired chill during a toasty spate of weather, as can picturing a sprinkler on a lawn or a snowy peak in the heart of wintertime. But one of the only methods to truly taking your temp down a notch or two, and finding some fresh air in the midst of summertime's scorchiest afternoons, is to go to a spot that's quite literally above it all. No, the heights of Mount San Jacinto State Park aren't so high that they, somehow, in a strange fold of space and time escape actually being in summer; the summer season happens there, too. But it turns out that it is much more moderate, temperature-wise, and not quite as sweat-inducing, as the summer we're experiencing at elevations lower than the Palm Springs-close mountain. How to get up there, though, among the firs and trails, on a hot-hot July day? Let the...

PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY... whisk you from hottest summer to... cooler summer. No, there won't be snow drifts like January, but there will be a pleasant feel in the air. And your wallet, too, for the historical tram's Summer Pass makes the saving of money as fine as a lovely breeze. It's on from May 1 through Aug. 31, which just about covers some of our hottest months around Southern California, and it costs $80 for adults and seniors, and $40 for kids. What's that get you? How's this: "unlimited Tram admissions" during that window, as well as a few discounts, here and there, like at the restaurants (and, yep, you'll get 10% additional tickets, if your heat-avoiding friends who are pass-less want to join you). Best start planning your cooler getaways now, before the temps rise and you forget that you remembered to buy a Summer Pass to that up, up, up attraction, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Photo Credit: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway]]>
<![CDATA[Monterey Bay Breathless: Breaching Humpbacks]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:40:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/montwhalesbreach.jpg

THERE'S NO PUNCH CARD... when it comes to the epic sights of nature, nor "collect all ten" sort of deal, nor bucket-list-y roster that demands we check everything off a rundown of amazing sights before we achieve the next nature-loving level. Wilderness-loving humans, and that's all of us, seek out our own ways to connect with animals and trees and the sky and the ocean, no punch card or "collect all ten" deal required. Still, though... Are there a few major nature experiences you'd love to witness, live, right there, just to stow in your heart forever? Yeah, probably, and that's a feeling shared by many. And many people are eager, at some point, to not only spy a whale but to see it breaching. This isn't to say that a fluke momentarily rising above the water line, or the powerful puff of a blowhole, aren't 100% epic, for they are. If you'd like some breach-tastic amazement, though, right here and now, check out the drone video from...

MONTEREY BAY WHALE WATCH, which features heart-thrilling humpback breaching from the middle of April 2017. Nancy Black, a marine biologist and owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, says that, at the moment, "...we estimate there are more than 60 humpback whales that just arrived in Monterey Bay for the start of feeding season. This is a relatively large number for this early in the season." What are these beautiful behemoths noshing on? Krill and "schooling fish... over the Monterey Bay submarine canyon." To see this breaching in action, the video is below, or make your way to the bay for a springtime whale-watching outing in person. May flukes, blowholes, and, fins crossed, a breach or two, be hallmarks of your trip.

Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Whale Watch]]>
<![CDATA[Phantom Evening: Silver City Ghost Town]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:39:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/silvercitykern19328232.jpg

SPIRITED SEARCHES... aren't confined to October, nor are they bound to a single season (with that season, of course, being autumn). We might associate an after-dark ghost hunt with twirling leaves on the ground and a brisk chill in the air, but such searches go on throughout the year, during every month, depending upon the destination. One of the best-known alfresco attractions in California is Silver City Ghost Town, in Kern County, and while you might step into an old-timey 1800s building, now and then, you'll be under the starry sky for much of your visit. It's a place that regularly holds ghost hunts, often with special visitors — think authors and TV crews — and, while it can get busy in the fall, it does welcome visitors for post-sundown searches in other seasons, too. One of those seasons is springtime, and the 2017 opening date is just ahead on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 29: Think of this opener as "Halfoween," which regularly falls on May 1 (being the halfway day to Halloween night). Or simply think of it as a spooky nighttime adventure complete with host J Paul Corlew and Tim Doyle of "UFO Seekers," the night's special guest. The full name of the supernatural-neato to-do? History/Mystery Lantern Light Night Tours & Live Paranormal Investigations. A ticket is twenty bucks and helps support the charmer of a vintage-everything museum, which is also open during the day, too, for non-ghosty looking around. If you brim with anticipation for October, and can't wait another four or five months for a fountain of phantom tours to burble all around Southern California, consider a trip to Silver City for this one-of-a-kind evening of looking and, quite possibly, maybe maybe, seeing? Certainly, the town is flush with phantom-like structures and stories, making for a remember-it outing.

Photo Credit: Silver City Ghost Town]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Time at Centennial Farm]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:08:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/goats1centennialoc.jpg

HERE'S A FURRY FACT... that few would attempt to quibble with: Baby animals have a way of growing up, and incredibly fast, too. One day a little lamb is just learning how its legs work — this hoof goes here, this hoof goes there — and then soon she is grown, fully woolly and as majestic and grown-up as can be. If you've ever watched a human sprout up, you know the days go quickly, and there seems to be a new growth milestone every hour, or seemingly so. Which is all to say this: Should you want to coo and/or awww and/or giggle and/or sigh over the newest arrivals at the Centennial Farm in Costa Mesa, the moment is nigh (and the moment, as of this typing, is the middle of April 2017). The OC Fair & Event Center is reporting a caboodle of kids, as in lil' goats, and chicks and piglets and lambs in recent weeks, all animals that'll be getting long-of-limb, big-of-beak, stout-of-snout before we know it.

SO WHO'S NEW? A litter of piglets born to "Miss Hammilton" on April 9 (coo here, if you will, over the notion that piglets weigh in at a pound or two at birth). Twin Alpine Sasaan goats made their debut on April 4, and a new calf also made an April entrance. There are teens, too, at the Orange County agricultural attraction, like some piggies who were born in February. Whatever the age of the animal you're admiring, springtime is smile time, in terms of seeing newborn barn critters at their littlest, whatever the littlest happens to be for that particular animal. Above all, Centennial Farm isn't just a county fair thing; you can go now. Details? Run like a little piglet or kid or lamb to the big red building.

Photo Credit: OC Fair & Event Center]]>
<![CDATA[Dana Point Whale Watching: Mother's Day Fun]]> Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:13:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DanaWharfwhalesightingabc123.jpg

A HOLIDAY OUTING... can come in many festive flavors. It might be on the dressy side, with a full brunch in a restaurant and a harp gently playing somewhere in the near distance. It might be an at-home kind of thing, with a tried-and-true dish and some hanging out in the backyard. Or is could involve an adventure, to a place full of sunshine and waves and birds and breezes and MOMosas. Okay, granted, sunshine and waves often appear together, as do birds and breezes, but MOMosas are a feature of a particular springtime holiday, one what merrily honors mothers and all of the infinitely amazing things they do. If you think your own mom might dig some sunshine and ocean breezes and a MOMosa, and, just maybe, a whale sighting, then circle Sunday, May 14 and make plans to be in Dana Point, where you and your kin will catch a ...

DANA WHARF WHALE WATCHING CRUISE: And it is a special cruise at that, for there's a glass of bubbly for Mom waiting, and pastries, and seasonal fruit, and juices, and, yes, MOMosas (or, if your party isn't in the mood for orange juice, just straight-up Champagne'll be on the pour, too). You'll take a two-hour spin on the 10 a.m. cruise, and if plenty of eyes on-board are scanning the ocean's surface, a whale's fluke or back or blowhole might soon be seen. The boat is the Ocean Adventures Catamaran, what will be spied that day will be up to the critters, both on the wing and below the surface, and the cost is $49 per adult and $29 per child. Brunch is cool, and at-home revelry, too, but having a bracing 'n briny outing on Mother's Day feels like one for the books. As for what's seen each day? Dana Wharf Whale Watching keeps an online log.

Photo Credit: Dana Wharf Whale Watching]]>
<![CDATA[Fishmas in Mono and Inyo Counties]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:11:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/monocountyPhotoCreditJoanneKavanaugh.jpg

HOLIDAYS HAPPEN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, but few are as anticipated, and prepared for, and talked about among people who adore the Sierras and casting a line as... Fishmas. That's right, Fishmas is a much-anticipated occasion around Inyo and Mono Counties, which comprise a large swath of the Eastern Sierra region. And when you think of those majestic peaks, with all of their many rivers running down into the lowlands below, and you picture Convict Lake and June Lake, you start grokking to the notion that the pursuit of the picture-perfect day spent fishing is a pretty darn big deal. And so it is: The official kick-off to fishing season, which flaps a fin for the first time on Saturday, April 29, is indeed hailed as Fishmas, one of the gladdest days on the calendar. If you're heading up or over to Mono and Inyo Counties with your tackle box and waders in tow, best look up the...

BRAND-NEW FISHING MAP... that was created to direct people to "top fishing destinations" around the two counties. A quartet of regional powerhouses are behind the map — Mono and Inyo Counties, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, and Mammoth Lakes Tourism — and interesting tidbits about various bodies of water are included (the pdf is here). And if you're anticipating some serious fishing action, thanks to all of that Sierra snow over the winter, you're feeling what others are feeling, too. "We are looking forward to the best opening day conditions since 2012, both in terms of the amount of fish being planted and the healthy water levels of our lakes," says Jeff Simpson, the economic development manager for Mono County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife "..has planned 660,000 pounds in fish stocking allotments in Mono County and Inyo County, currently scheduled for every other week along with holidays and local events" reveals James Erdman, an environmental scientist with the CDFW.

CONVICT LAKE, ROCK CREEK, Saddlebag Lake, and Little Virginia Lakes are just a few of the spots that are "regularly stocked throughout fishing season." Gear up, place your tackle box by the carport door, and plan your fish-fun weekend up in the Eastern Sierra, once Fishmas arrives.

Photo Credit: Joanne Kavanaugh]]>
<![CDATA[Big Sur Escape: Post Ranch Inn Reopens]]> Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:01:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KodiakGreenwoodPacificSuite.jpg

A BIG BIG SUR EVENT: If you've ever sat inside Sierra Mar, the window-lined restaurant at Post Ranch Inn, you may have kept your eyes, well, on your plate, since the eatery is known for beautifully crafted locally sourced eats. But, on occasion, you probably raised your face to the west, and the windows, to see if you could spy what is, unarguably, the most famous resident 'round Big Sur: the California condor. The major-of-wing-span birds can sometimes be seen soaring just beyond Sierra Mar's cliff-top perch, giving diners a bit of a thrilling, coastal-cool show. But the condor isn't the only sight in the bright blue expanse nowadays, thanks to a new Post Ranch Inn package called Escape Through the Skies. That's right...

POST RANCH INN... is now open again, as of April 20, after being shuttered for several weeks due to the Highway 1 havoc caused by a rash of intense winter storms. Because of the road closures, the luxe property is still unreachable by car, and Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge's much-anticipated completion is months away, but Post Ranch has crafted a memorable way for guests to reach the idyllic spot: by air. The package includes "...roundtrip helicopter transportation for two from Monterey," as well as dining at Sierra Mar and your accommodations. You'll need to stay for two nights, or more, and you'll need to do so in April or May. As far as how long the helicopter ride takes? It's twenty minutes, and you'll enjoy a glass of bubbly before lift-off. And, yes, if you're wondering, Post Ranch Inn's equally iconic down-the-road neighbor, Nepenthe, is also open again. For a singular adventure, to give some love to a favorite hotel, its restaurant, and nearby Nepenthe after this challenging winter, and to, just maybe, spy a condor riding a breeze while you're supping at Sierra Mar, start here.

Photo Credit: Kodiak Greenwood]]>
<![CDATA[Chocolate Festival at San Diego Botanic Garden]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:35:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDBG_chocfestlisareynolds.JPG

CHOCOLATE AFICIONADOS? They're plentiful in this world, but not everyone prefers to take their square of sweetness in the same way. In fact, not everyone likes a square, to be honest; some prefer an orb-shaped candy, one that can more fully hold a flavorful filling, while others prefer their cocoa to be of the liquid or melty or gooey sort (and gooey most definitely isn't square-shaped). It's a good thing, too, we're all so different in our dessert-based preferences, because when a lovely Chocolate Festival pulls into a lovely place, say, the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, there should be a vivacious variety of delectable choices, so everyone's tum/mouth is pleased. And that very festival is going to roll into that very spot, as is tradition, on...

MOTHER'S DAY SATURDAY: You know what that means, of course, but if we're being a tad vague, we'll illustrate further: Your mom gets her dessert first, ahead of the actual Mother's Day holiday, aaaand the notion of celebrating all weekend long is a reality. The date is Saturday, May 13, and "nearly a dozen chocolate artisans" will be out lining up the nuggets and nougats and squares and truffles. Demos detailing how to make delish chocolate goodies at home are also part of the festive day, as is the opportunity to stroll about the lush grounds with your family before or after you taste the star sweets. Tasting tickets are available "for a small fee," but the Chocolate Festival itself is free with your admission to the garden. Don't you need to start Mother's Day early, with chocolate and flowers, but not the kind of chocolate that arrives in a box? And the flowers are on trees and shrubs and blooming from the ground? Call it a twist on the time-honored tradition of Mother's Day.

Photo Credit: Lisa Reynolds]]>
<![CDATA[Monterey Beer Fest's Summer of Love]]> Tue, 02 May 2017 09:58:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/montereybeer2017123.jpg

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: If you were a participant in the Summer of Love, and you tied on a few kerchiefs, and wore a few fringe-y jackets, and sang a few love-laden songs in a few parks with a few of your closet friends, you're probably still feeling the festive reverberations of that hallowed time today. How could you not? The tenets that the warm weather months of 1967 stood upon were strong ones, with fellowship and harmony at the center of it all. It's the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love — insert a "can you believe it?" here — and you're bound to see the tie-dye homages and guitar-strummy staples popping up, here and there, in all of the places that the Summer of Love vibrated most vibrantly. Monterey was one such sunshine-of-the-heart spot, and its annual Beer Festival, set for the Saturday after Independence Day, will hold some of that Summer of Love magic close. Gaze, if you will, upon the...

ROCKING STAGE... of the Saturday, July 8 party, where Daze on the Green and The 60's Summer of Love Band will both be sending out the people-join-together tuneage. Attendees are invited to dress like they would have dressed, or actually did, back in July of '67, so best find that flowery smock and little round sunglasses to complete your look. As for the craft brews at the 16th annual Monterey Beer Festival? Past participants have included Anchor Brewing, Craft Artisan Ales, and Lost Coast Brewery. The Monterey County Fair Heritage Foundation is the beneficiary of the foamy-fun day, one that'll visit a half century back while truckin' right on into the beer-making, people-socializing, helping-out future.

Photo Credit: Monterey Beer Festival]]>
<![CDATA[D23 Expo: Mouse-tastic Details Arriving Now]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:13:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/d23mousequerade1.jpg

GRABBING A MAP... as you scoot through the turnstile at the entrance to Disneyland Park? Thousands do it each and every day. And, yes, even if you know exactly where Space Mountain is, and what time the Dole Whip stand opens near Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, you still might need a brush-up on what special events are on the roster, what time the latest parade will happen, and if there's anything new that's sprung up, with all the energy of Tigger, since your last visit to Anaheim. The same pretty much goes for D23 Expo, the every-two-years, super-mega-Mouse-mondo convention that celebrates all things Disney (and we do mean super-mega-Mouse-mondo). It's in Anaheim, of course, at the Disneyland Resort-adjacent Anaheim Convention Center, and, unlike years gone by, it'll be happening a skosh earlier in the summer in 2017, so don't look to your August calendar, look to July. That's the middle of July, to be specific, July 14 through 16, and the early tidbits and peeks are already rolling out.

SO GRAB A PROVERBIAL MAP, or at least, in your mind, begin to plot your course through the convention halls. What's new? The D23 Fan Lounge, "which will be located in the heart of the show floor," will pay homage, through the decor, to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of the most vintage and vivacious characters in the Walt Disney family. And "Nine New Disney Legends" will be honored over the course of the weekend, including Oprah Winfrey, Julie Taymor, Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. (Can you name the first person to receive the honor? You're exactly right, it was actor Fred MacMurray, of lovable "The Shaggy Dog" fame, among others, back in 1987.) As D23 Expo is only three months out, as of this typing, look for reveals aplenty in the coming weeks. Reveals, of course, that will help you fill out your own personal map to this ultimate Disney fan gathering.

Photo Credit: D23 Expo]]>
<![CDATA[Nick's Cove Pampered Pooch Package]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:13:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/nickscovedogs2017.jpg

IF YOU LIVE WITH A PUP, and you live to travel, chances are very high that you have, at some point, typed out the words "dog friendly hotel" or "dog friendly destination" in a search engine. And while oodles of California properties do throw open the front door to Fidos, every now and then a spot'll go above, beyond, and to the Lassie-loving limit for your own Spot. One such place is Nick's Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages, which sits snug against Tomales Bay, in Marshall. This would seem a natural draw for you and your water-obsessed dog (if, indeed, you and your pup like to hang out along shorelines), but here's what sweetens this trip: Nick's Cove is marking Pet Appreciation Month with a Pampered Pooch Add-On Package, which may "be added to any overnight stay in one of the property's luxurious pet-friendly cottages this April." There's still time to give a woof over this getaway, which includes...

"DIRTY PAWS TOWELS"... in your room, which'll help with that whole enjoying-the-shoreline thing that you and your dog love so well. And if you and your lil' guy also like to dress the same, look for matching human-hound bandannas to wear, which also come courtesy of the package. A bowl for H2O (the drinkable kind, not the playable kind), a food bowl, housemade biscuits, and more are on the dogly docket. Of course, there are some human-directed niceties, too, including a half-bottle of Nick's Cove cabernet as well as BBQ oysters. Going north with your constant companion in the next few weeks? This could be your oyster-sweet, bandanna-matching overnight, fer sure. Details and dog love may be found by contacting the cottage-tastic property.

Photo Credit: Nick's Cove]]>
<![CDATA[Temecula Spring: Blessing of the Vines]]> Sat, 15 Apr 2017 09:50:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/198*120/blessingofthevinestemecula1.jpg

WHEN BUDS BEGIN TO POP... and baby lambs begin to "baaa" and trees show their brand-new leaves and the sunlight pushes into evening, you can bet a bevy of springtime traditions will flower, like so many daffodils along a mountain pass. But like the cherished customs of the other seasons, the touchstones of March, April, May, and June don't arrive in one flavor or form. There's the searching for colorful eggs, yes, and the cheering at opening day at your favorite baseball diamond, and the hugging of moms and graduates. And, if you're at the right place, say, an award-winning winery in Temecula Valley, on the exact day, like Sunday, April 30, 2017, you'll witness another spring-sweet to-do that can be a tad rarer on the whole "spring traditions" line-up. It's the Blessing of the Vines, and South Coast Winery Resort & Spa will once again break out the celebratory stems (on glasses and vines) to honor this weather-warming rite.

THE AFTERNOON AFFAIR... swans from 4 to 7 o'clock on the final day of April, and general admission is $55. "Wine Country BBQ" is on the flavorful menu, as are fine wines and tunes from Guilty Conscience. The vines shall receive their hope-happy benediction during the party, which means, yes, all of the revelry will happen just steps away from where those succulent South Coast grapes grow. If you're infatuated with all things spring, from the sunshine to the lavender to the baby birds, and you also consider yourself a vino aficionado, here's your next seasonal tradition to gratefully and cheerfuly observe.

Photo Credit: South Coast Winery]]>
<![CDATA[Yosemite Bike Rentals: Now Open]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:28:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yosemitebikerentalsapril.jpg

HOW ADVENTURERS GAD ABOUT... Yosemite Valley is really a matter of personal preference, like just about everything in this lovely life. True, some modes of movement do tend to catch the eye, such as when you see climbers way, way, way up the side of El Capitan, or a group rafting along the Merced River. Some people prefer to trot in sight of Half Dome, in the saddle of a spectacular steed, while others like the old-school, always informative charms of the famous open-air tram. In fact, there are so many ways to ramble/ride/scale/roll around the beloved national park that it might be challenging to try them all, at least over the course of a short vacation. But if you're all about wheels, as in two wheels, as in the wheels that sit below a pair of shiny handlebars, you can find that freedom and whoosh-of-air in Yosemite as well, at the Bike Rental Stand, located at Yosemite Valley Lodge. It isn't open all year, not with inclement but gorgeous weather and such happening in the winter, but when the first full month of spring settles in, you can bet the stand'll open. As it did on...

TUESDAY, APRIL 11, just ahead of National Park Week. That's when Yosemite will waive its entrance fee over four, count 'em, four fabulous weekend days, on April 15, 16, 22, and 23. A standard bike rental is twelve bucks per hour, and you'll want to rent your helmet for an additional fiver, if you didn't bring your own. The bike-flavored page on the Travel Yosemite page has a suggested ride, as well as the all-important opening and closing hours. For sure, plan a pony ride, or a river run, or a tram tour, or even climb, if that's your joyful jam, but if bikes are where your bliss is at, and Yosemite is a happy place, then feel the fizz: You can now score a cycle, for an hour or two, in one of the world's most scenic cycling spots.

Photo Credit: Travel Yosemite]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 15th, The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]> Sun, 14 May 2017 14:06:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lodgeattorreypines15th.jpg

CRAFTSMAN DREAM SPOTS... can be found fabulously dotting the Golden State, with some lucky neighborhoods boasting more historical, woodsy-wonderful structures than others. But one of the best-known and most visited of the California Craftsmans does not sit among a clutch of other similarly designed houses that have been around for decades, nor can it claim a past rooted in the early 20th century (though it certainly looks like it). It is, rather a grand hotel, one that abuts the ocean, and a golf course, in a spot that's fabled for its flora: Torrey Pines, of La Jolla. Now you do know we really did mean "grand" when we broke it out before, because if you've called up on The Lodge at Torrey Pines, you'll recall it boasts a luxe look, but in a classic, tiles-and-trees sense (as opposed to glittery). A general aura of a gourmet, no-boxes-unchecked getaway reigns throughout. It is, in short, one of the premier places to dine, drink, and bed down for the night in the area — scratch that, the state — and it is set to celebrate its 15th anniversary.

THAT'S RIGHT, 15 YEARS: True, Lodge lovers may take one glance at the glorious Greene & Greene-style details, and the stained-glass doors leading into the wood-lovely lobby, and understandably assume that the hotel had been around during the heyday of Craftsman mania. But it debuted in 2002, making 2017 a notable birthday for the property. On tap for the 15th anniversary doings? The headliner has to be the $15,000 package created for eight people, or up to eight people, involving a two-night stay "...in a combination of four luxurious suites" as well as "...a private four-course dinner party with The Lodge's Chef cooking in the privacy of the Blacker or Gamble suite." An oodle of other perks are attached, so contact the hotel if this ultimate experience tantalizes. 

OTHER ANNIVERSARY SPARKLES... include a cocktail called The 15 — El Dorado 15-year-old Special Reserve Rum is the star — and a special deal offering 15% off The Lodge Celebration package at The Spa at Torrey Pines. As for the foodie side of the anniversary? A.R. Valentien is offering a tasting menu created in honor of the occasion. Happy 15, The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and cheers to your considerable Craftsman-based charms.

Photo Credit: The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]>
<![CDATA[Pet Day on the Bay: Hounds at Sea]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:23:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PetDayontheBaytwodogs.jpg

YOUR LANDLUBBER OF A LASSIE... may have never met an octopus, nor seen a faraway island, nor be able to discern the port from the starboard side of a ship (though, to be honest, most dogs are so intelligent that they likely know the answer to that age-old question). Even if your pooch has stayed on terra firma for his whole happy, ball-catching, afternoon-snoozing life, he surely would savor a few briny breezes and the general air of helping animals in need, even if he doesn't expressly know that's the situation. (Again, dogs, intelligent, picking up on signs, and so forth.) If your baby barker is the kind of adventurer who might dig a briny breeze and an hour on a Hornblower boat out on San Diego Bay, then best find her a tiny captain's hat, to fit her pug- or spaniel-sized noggin, and plan to go sailing with your BFF on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 29: It's the 17th annual Pet Day on the Bay — Towel & Blanket Drive, a popular fundraiser that lends some love to the Helen Woodward Animal Center of Rancho Santa Fe. It's so popular that "a fourth cruise has been added" in 2017, meaning you'll have a quartet of times to choose from (9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:45 p.m.). A human adult ticket is $25, but your canine boards for free. Chopper the Biker Dog will cameo, and there will be a snack bar with adult sips, snacks, and such. As for snapping photos... If your lil' one is dressed in her ocean-ready outfit, however you might interpret that, how will you not return home with a bevy of sweet snapshots? It's an offbeat and scenic place to capture your canine on film (and take a great photo together, with the water and skyline all around). Info? Doggie paddle over here for the whole scoop.

Photo Credit: Pet Day on the Bay]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Edie, The Claremont's 'Canine Ambassador']]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edieclaremont123.jpg

LET'S NOT GET ALL GUSHY... Hold up. Wait. Yes, let's get gushy, because the notion of striding into a stylish hotel and being greeted by a licky, lovable, treat-craving, scratch-my-ears "ambassador" would thoroughly melt anyone's business-like exterior. The fact is, though, that most hotels don't have such ambassadors, and entering the building, and checking in, is, for the most part, 100% devoid of any dog kisses. Sometimes something enchanted happens, though, especially when an historical property is the enchanted story's location. Which all leads to this: The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel has a brand-new four-footed staffer named Edie.

THIS IS THE VERY EDIE... that charmed Pittsburgh, and even made the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine, when she served as the canine ambassador at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel. She "retired" with a move to the West Coast, but she clearly craved her calling, which is greeting, charming, and loving upon hotel guests. Edie was "trained in the assistant dog program at Circle Tail, Inc. in Ohio" but she soon trotted her way to a career in hotels, and her current position, as an ambassador for the landmark Berkeley property. Does she sport a nametag? Yes. (Cue "awwws.") Does she have an email address and her own Instagram? Please. You know this superstar must have both, because her fans will want to see and know about her day-to-day, regularly.

MIGHT YOU COME ACROSS SWEET EDIE, upon your arrival at The Claremont, savoring a fancy treat or lounging in her bed, which is adjacent to the concierge desk? You definitely could. The short (tail) of it? A dog in a grand hotel lobby feels like a touching way to connect guests with a touch of home. That Edie is so adorable, and approachable, only ups that cuddlesome connection.

Photo Credit: c]]>
<![CDATA[May at Yosemite: Mondo Waterfall Wow]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:22:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yosemite22.jpg

WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING, wherever you are, whatever you're eating, whatever you're watching, whatever errand you're running, whatever phone call you're making, you can be assured of this: Something sweet and wonderful is currently on the move in Yosemite. It might be the rustling branches of a tall tree, moved by the wind, or it might be a little bird scurrying through the brush. Perhaps it is one of the national park's black bears — there, is in fact, a new site that tracks these furry fellows (and advises we humans on how to help keep them safe) — or perhaps the moving thing is a leaf floating along the Merced River. And if it is May, or June, the moving thing might be a water droplet falling over the side of a way-high ledge at Ribbon Fall. In fact, of all the moving things at the beloved, Sierra-based national park, drops of water in a waterfall might be the most plentiful, giving the mega amounts of H2O that plunge over the sides of mountains near Yosemite Valley. And those mega amounts get the most mega, if we might phrase it that way, when May happens. And, spoiler alert, as of this typing...

MAY WILL SOON HAPPEN, meaning waterfall fans will be heading to Ribbon Fall and Bridalveil Fall and Nevada Fall and, holler, Yosemite Falls to watch the powerful springtime show. A show that's certainly being enhanced in the spring of 2017, thanks to all of snowflakes that feel in the upper reaches of California over the winter. Which begs the question: Are there more snowflakes in the Sierra Nevada or drops of water in a Yosemite National Park? Discuss/bicker/ponder with your nature-loving BFF. When you're done pondering, study up on...

WHEN AND WHERE THE FALLS... will do their fierce, rainbows-in-the-spray stuff. Sentinel Falls sees a start around March, per the National Park Service page, while Bridalveil Fall keeps it rocking throughout the calendar (though May is "peak"). Horsetail Fall is, you guessed it, a wintertime favorite, with a cold-weather run that hits its zenith with that late-February "fire" show at sunset. But numerous other water-droppers around the valley will be waterfalling their collective hearts out as May approaches, and even beyond. Know your falls? We know you do, but you can brush up here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Bunch Palms: Coachella Deal]]> Sun, 09 Apr 2017 12:06:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/twobunchcoachella123.jpg

IF YOU'RE INTO THE FESTIVAL SCENE, you know that it can be, at times, on the hectic side. There is the socializing aspect, yes, and the seeing of friends and acquaintances, but there's also the need to reach the concert grounds, and the procuring of vittles and beverages, and the general rush-and-go that comes before your favorite band ever takes the stage. With this in mind, a number of hotels and inns around the desert resort cities are brewing up some stay-overs, including those places that keep it on the quiet, peaceful, bliss-out side of things. Few desert destinations can lay claim to those qualities like Two Bunch Palms, the Desert Hot Springs oasis that holds fast to a calm vibe. There are those famous mud baths, too, and the Grotto with its "two carved pool areas... one of the few mineral springs with no sulfurous odor, just a woodsy scent." It's an ideal destination to do the whole wind-down thing if you're headed to the...

COACHELLA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL: That's lively, hoo boy, so finding a retreat that's chill is a good move. And here's another good move: Two Bunch Palms is offering a Coachella special, one that's available from April 17 through April 24. Book and see 15% shaved off your stay, not to mention a credit worth $50 (that can be used at the spa; also, it's per room). Are you thinking of calling upon the beautiful desert during one of its most bustling moments? Find your Grotto, your quiet, some roadrunners and desert breezes, and a discount, too, at Two Bunch Palms.

Photo Credit: Two Bunch Palms]]>
<![CDATA[Coachella Chow Down: The Eats to Expect]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 10:31:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/outstandinginthefieldcoachella1.jpg

Desert Dining: You don't need to participate in too much reminiscing, or recalling of festivals of the past, to know that eating at a major concert has changed in recent years. Used to be you might grab a bag of chips at a stand outside of the venue, and maybe a soda, and that was basically your sustenance ahead of the show. That's no longer the case, very much so, now that some of California's biggest weekend-long tune extravaganzas put as much emphasis as who is doing the cooking, and cocktailing, as who is rocking the stage. The Coachella Music & Arts Festival is right up there in the tony pantheon of plate-based deliciousness, and the 2017 reveal of chefs, foodstuffs, and special dining events make the two-weekend Indio-based bash a big draw for discerning foodies. And while the stands and booths and grills will boast names and dishes many festival-goers recognize, one of the biggest food happenings isn't about a booth. It's the...

Outstanding in the Field... dinners, a nightly sit-down alfresco experience that will gather some 200 diners around an under-the-sky table for a sublime culinary experience. Different top toques'll helm the various nights, which kick off on April 14 and wrap on April 23 (like Coachella, there are six nights in all). A "(f)estival pass is required" to join, and you'll want to arrive promptly for that "welcoming cocktail." It's a swanky scene, one that elevates festival chow-down-ing to a truly gourmand level. But if you're looking for an artisan scoop of ice cream, a fancy hot dog, or a bevy of other also-stylish food choices, those will quite literally dot the festival, too (and you don't need an appointed time nor reservation to enjoy). Birdies, MatchaBar, Milk Box, and NoMad are but four of the many (many) food-excelling participants. Need to know about both Outstanding in the Field and the wider Eat & Drink scene at the April-famous festival? The info is out and piping hot.

Photo Credit: Outstanding in the Field]]>
<![CDATA[The Empress Hotel: Sleeping Dogs Package]]> Mon, 10 Apr 2017 21:38:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/EmpressHotelLaJolla-CA-Pet.jpg

ROVER ROAD TRIP: While many a pooch sports a modern moniker these days, there are some pups that keep to the old-school classics, like Fido, Spot, and Rover. If you've got a Rover of your own, either in name or spirit, then you know that he likely likes to, well, rove. Exploring the neighbors' yards, and the park, are of utmost importance to him, and having some daily adventure, too, whether that involves treats, snuggles, or both. But we people also have the love of roving, even if our names don't happen to be Rover (how cool that would be, though, if humans could rock dog names). And roving often takes us on weekend getaways, or quick overnights, to some of our state's prettiest communities, and very often with our own Rover at our side. But finding a hotel that will both accept Rover, and even do a bit of spoiling, can be as tricky as catching a ball, with your mouth, in mid-air. Except, of course, if you're...

THE EMPRESS HOTEL, which not only gives a warm hello to hounds but offers a Sleeping Dog Package. A pet bed will be provided for your little one to snooze upon during her stay, and "a baggie of milk bones" is also part of the deal, as is a "one-time reduced pet fee." As for walkies, and being out and about with your tail-wagger, check it out: The Empress is right in the village of La Jolla, a place known for loving upon pups. There are, in short, a number of streets filled with shops and stuff, and taking your furry one out for an afternoon of strolling, and other people cooing at him, should be part of your visit. But if you don't have a pup, The Empress has...

OTHER GOOD PACKAGES APLENTY... to explore, including a Romance Package and an Extended Stay deal, too. As for what's new at the Greystone property? A "top to bottom" renovation recently wrapped, with a fresh look that's "...evocative of La Jolla" (a look that includes new furnishings and other touches like art work and wallpaper). Photographer Aaron Goulding's pieces highlighting area beaches are displayed throughout the hotel, and the patio on the second floor? That also was renovated, and serves as a lovely breakfast spot. For a peek at the gussied-up property, or to get to know it a bit better, it's this way to the Fay Avenue destination.

Photo Credit: Auda & Coudayre Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Carlsbad Cute: Fashion, Flowers, and Fido]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 11:59:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IMG_7803carlsbad123.jpg

GLANCE OVER AT YOUR CALENDAR, the one hanging on the kitchen wall, or the box of notecards you just purchased, or your favorite sweatshirt, the one you keep draped over the closet door (for easy reach). Is there A) a dog on it or B) flowers on it or C) probably most likely let's be honest both? We'll bet C), for calendars and notecards and clothing and everything else that can rock a photograph or design quite often, and admirably, features those things that make us happy in life. And, for many of us, that includes our gardens and our BFFs, the snorty, furry, foldy, tail-wagging companions who can so often be found sunning in our gardens. But finding a furry pup in a famous garden is less likely, as those tend to be for human beings only. Except... when they're not. And when there is a good cause afoot, or, rather, apaw, you can count on one of the most famous flower destinations of all to open up for the evening. It's the...

FLOWER FIELDS... of Carlsbad we speak of, the scene for the 2017 Fashion, Fido, and Flowers night. There's a fashion show, yes, with looks from Carlsbad Premium Outlets, and there are pups to coo over, pups that are adoptable (Rancho Coastal Humane Society will be there). Will the hounds be on the catwalk? You bet, so prepare to awww. Can you invite your own "friendly, well-behaved" pooch to the happening? You can. Are tickets still available? Yes, and they're $40 (bites, beverages, and entry are included). The showy ranunculuses of The Flower Fields won't last forever — closing day for this year is just ahead, in fact, on May 14 — but finding a sweetie to adopt could bring you years and years of cuddles. Can any adorable calendar or t-shirt equal that feeling? No, but we keep displaying them, because flowers and Fidos remind us of life's lighter side.

Photo Credit: Fashion, Flowers, and Fido]]>
<![CDATA[Madonna Inn Peeptini: It's Back]]> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:28:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/madonnapeeptini17.jpg

IF THERE WAS A MAP, detailing all of the beautiful hues filling the Golden State, where would you find the color sandy beige? You might look first to Death Valley National Park, which boasts about a hundred different shades of the color sand. Up in the Sierra Nevada it truly is all about fir green, and over near Palm Springs? We'd have to go with swimming pool blue as its iconic, pleasing-to-the-eye entry. But if we're going to get into a certain spot just off the 101, in San Luis Obispo, a place known for displaying the full spectrum of the color wheel, we'd had say that pink, truly bright pink, reigns as the hue of choice. It is the...

MADONNA INN... we're quite obviously talking about, that landmark roadside motel that features rosy pink in several of its themed rooms, its famous Gold Rush Steak House, and, yes, its towering, frosting-thick Pink Champagne Cake. (You do remember correctly, that pink chocolate, the iconic chocolate that's long been a part of this particular cake, was briefly on vacation in 2016, but it is back, back, back.) Now, though, there's something else adding to the pink-o-sity that is the Madonna Inn, and it is the annual...

PEEPTINI: A pretty pink Peep is the centerpiece of this cocktail, one that includes "Ketel One Orange, Dr. McGillicuddy's Raw Vanilla, and orange juice." There is sugar on the rim, just to up the overall sweetness, and as for how long it'll peep-around the hotel? Just through Easter, of course, which is on April 16 in 2017. Is the Madonna Inn just about the pinkest place in the Golden State? Sip your Peeptini and discuss with your favorite California-loving, holiday drink-seeking co-adventurer.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Mission Inn: Hollywood Glamour Package]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 09:43:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/missioninn.jpg

HOTEL STAYS... can involve a whole kaleidoscope of goals. You may be looking for the classic rest 'n relaxation set-up during your away-from-home overnight. You may want to spend some time alongside a pool, or dining in a fine restaurant, or simply spending an hour in a lobby, a prime people-watching spot. Mostly you want to leave the workaday cares behind you for a day or two, all while feeling a tad special or extraordinary or beyond. Few places around California feel as "beyond" as the Mission Inn, that nook-nice, cranny-tastic castle of a hotel that's plunk in the middle of Riverside. It's been a celebrated star getaway for decades — Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned at the hotel — and today the Mission Inn honors its legendary past in a number of ways. One of the newest is the...

OLD HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR PACKAGE, which is very much focused upon, fabulously, a series of treatments at the on-site Kelly's Spa. The package includes a Little Luxury Massage (30 minutes), a Hollywood Oxygen Glow Facial (that's 50 minutes), a classic manicure, eyebrow sculpting, and green passion tea. Will you be red-carpet ready following all of this getaway-gorgeous primping? No worries if there isn't a red carpet nearby, for there is that long walkway through the Mission Inn's nicely appointed lobby. You can strut down that walkway a few times, feeling the after-spa glow, then settle into a chair, with a tea or cocktail, to get some people-watching, vacation-relaxing in before you go. Prices, details, and such? Follow your own red carpet in this direction.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn Hotel and Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Terranea: Sea Salt Conservatory Celebration]]> Sat, 01 Apr 2017 08:59:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/terraneaseasalt2212.jpg

SIZABLE RESORTS... can offer a whole plethora of unusual amenities and distinct on-property destinations, the kind of happenings and locations that set them apart in a guest's memory. But, quite often, something comes along to a hotel that is a stand-out, both in theme and what that something offers. Example A? When the Sea Salt Conservatory debuted at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes in the spring of 2015, people likely had to pause and consider if they'd ever seen such a thing on the grounds of a hotel before. Moreover, this isn't just any sea salt conservatory, but one that houses salt that originates in the waves just beyond the handsome bluff that's home to the resort. Houses and assists the evaporation process that helps salt on its journey to our plates. Call it local sea salt, with Pacific cred, and call the chance to attend a special happening at the greenhouse-like building a pretty nifty thing, if you're into interesting foodie gatherings, not to mention wine tastings, too. For on...

FRIDAY, APRIL 7, Terranea Resort will partner with ONEHOPE Wine to host a Sea Salt Conservatory Celebration, which will mark the second anniversary of the flavorful little building. It's a complimentary wine tasting, but consider purchasing a bottle of ONEHOPE while there, as the company supports several organizations and causes that aid the natural world. In fact, the company donates half of its proceeds to these causes, the better to make a true "social impact" on the world. If you've never sipped wine at sunset in a sea salt conservatory, your chance is on the near horizon. Oh, and speaking of horizons, you can see Catalina Island from Terranea Resort, a stunner of a view, as well as that wide, wide, salty, mysterious, did-we-say-wide? ocean, the resort's epic neighbor.

Photo Credit: Terranea Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Housekeeping Camp: 2017 Opening Date]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 07:24:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/housekeepingcampopens2016.jpg

CONVEY YOUR CAMPING LOVE: How do you possibly and adequately, via words and gestures and facial expressions and even some interpretative dance, explain your affection for Yosemite Valley in the springtime to a person who doesn't know you? There are, as some often say, truly no words, not if you feel an abiding, steadfast connection to the Place Where the Waterfalls Reign. Ah yes, springtime means lots of falling droplets, all over the national park's famous valley, and the desire to find a comfy rock and watch your favorite fall do its thing over several hours on a perfectly breezy April day is one shared by many. Perhaps you only need tell this inquiring stranger that your love for Yosemite in April is as tall as Bridalveil Fall and as solid as Half Dome. Accurate? Too poetic? Not poetic enough? Thought so. It sounds like you need some time in one of the best-loved spots on this planet, in an old-school, adored-by-many camp. We are, of course, talking about...

HOUSEKEEPING CAMP, which officially debuts on Friday, April 14, 2017, "weather permitting," just in time for all of that waterfall action (which can have a number of impressive weeks, let it be known). There are campfire rings for grilling at this camp, and views of Half Dome (sigh) and Yosemite Falls (sigh again) and a base that's but a short walk to the Merced River. As for where you'll sleep? Look for "concrete structures" complete with "canvas roofs and privacy curtains." There's a slew of to-knows, of course, and amenities, and tips, and all the good stuff you might need to know before your first trip to the camp, or just as a refresher, so get up on firewood 411, the pet policy, the camp store, and, yep, bears. Are the waterfalls calling? And the trees and river, too? How about every little twig and pine cone? Yep, it is time to once again say hello to outdoor, waterfall-awesome living, as Yosemite National Park yawns, stretches, and awakens for the spring.

Photo Credit: Aramark]]>