<![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-usSat, 23 Sep 2017 07:54:48 -0700Sat, 23 Sep 2017 07:54:48 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Anza-Borrego + Brews: Pints 4 the Park]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:09:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/beerborregofundraiser.jpg

GUSH, IF YOU WILL, over your favorite parts of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and do so at length. We added the "at length" recommendation because, as you surely know, the Anza-Borrego is California's largest state park, and rhasodizing over its many excellent qualities, sights, and features can take some time. But also time-taking? How deeply its devotees do love its desertscapes, and the many animals that occupy the hills, canyons, and open spaces. To be able to support this sublime spot, one that offers so much beauty and recreation and wonder and peace, is something many fans regularly seek to do, in numerous ways. But the sudsiest chance is going to bubble up on Saturday, Oct. 21 when Pints 4 the Park 2017 pops up in Borrego Springs. It's a fundraiser for the hardworking, desert-championing...

ANZA-BORREGO FOUNDATION, and it will line up the glasses "outside of Borrego Outfitters at The Mall in Borrego Springs. How it works? You'll spend fifteen bucks, dear Anza-Borrego buff, which is your purchase price for a stainless steel pint, then the Nickel Beer Co. of Julian will fill it up. Want a refill at the early-evening soiree? It's five bucks. Just find your designated driver, or a hotel near the happening, on that's walkable, and you're in the groove. Also in the groove? Borrego Days Desert Festival is happening that same weekend, which means a lot of extra merriment around town. Will you meet others who adore the Anza-Borrego like you do? Who want to talk about the bighorn sheep and Font's Point and Palm Canyon Oasis and, well, everything? The love of the desert, and its magic, does run deep.

Photo Credit: Beer/Visit California/Myles McGuinness]]>
<![CDATA[Big Bear Lake Village Scarecrow Fest]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:39:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bigbear1Opt_419A2357.jpg

DON'T HAVE A CORNFIELD... out the backdoor? Or any sort of leafy spread that grows food? And yet you kind of want to build a scarecrow, from scratch, complete with a hay-filled shirt and baggie breeches and a slightly askew hat? Here's the thing: You absolutely can. For scarecrows have left the fields that they're associated with and entered wider popular culture over the last several decades, showing up as porch decorations, children's costumes, and the sorts of seasonal symbols found on party plates and napkins. If you need inspiration, and you don't know if your nearest cornfield is sporting a scarecrow at the moment, all you need to do is make your way to Big Bear Lake Village after...

FRIDAY, SEPT. 15: That's the launch date of the 4th annual Big Bear Lake Village Scarecrow Festival, and area merchants will be placing all sorts of fall-ready figures outside of their shops and businesses. Some scarecrows will be traditional, some more modern, and all will be competing in one of six categories. Traditional, in fact, happens to be one of the categories, which also include spookiest, best use of recycled material, most humorous, most reflective of the business or organization, and best reflection of Big Bear. You have through Monday, Oct. 30 to cast your vote and the awards ceremony is on Halloween 2017. But the scarecrows will remain up around town through...

MONDAY, NOV. 6, so swing through on your next trip of the mountain and find your autumnal inspiration, for free, by just lookie-loo-ing around. Need a map? Try the Big Bear Visitors Center or a participating merchant.

Photo Credit: Big Bear Lake Village]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Reign at Fanciful Halloween Boutique]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:01:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rogersHalloween-2017.jpg

A CLASSIC HALLOWEEN SHOP? Those never arrive with just one flavor, vibe, or look. There are the costume shops, the make-up stores, the wig emporia, the places that sell yard props, and a host of other haunting, merchandise-laden destinations that cover all manner of macabre goods. But only a few shops are experiences unto themselves due to how fancifully, and thematically, they are realized. Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar has become a more-sweet (and less-scary) stroll-through over the last several autumns, with Halloween mavens making a date to check out the fresh items, as well as the general layout and design of the boutique. And that boutique is now open for 2017, so if you adore wizards, and magic, and pumpkins, and owls, and mysterious gewgaws, too, you'll want to make for...

"MAGIC & MAYHEM," which is the name of this year's atmospheric experience. The boutique is sizable, so much so that you'll come across particular themed areas as you wander through, like The Owl Post General Store, Wykeham's Wizarding Supplies, The Weezer's Joke Emporium, and Morgan & Murkes Apothecary. Each area is considered to be "a curated store," and spending several minutes in each, happily lost among the enchanted, for-sale goods, might leave you feeling as though you've been tapped by some powerful wand.

THE COST TO VISIT? It's a boutique, at an established gardens-and-more store, so it is free to see. If you're out around the area, and have a hankering for some Halloween-style sights, but of the gentler, jovial assortment, spend a quarter hour calling upon this established seasonal happening. And, yes, you might find a pretty goblet or skeleton decoration that you might want to buy, so, before you leave home, make sure to wave your own wand over your wallet and confirm a form of payment is within.

Photo Credit: Roger's Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[California Fall Color: Popular Site Revs Up]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:49:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/CTTC160609172745_051.jpg

FALL FOLIAGE? It isn't like there's an alert that a branch of leaves can send directly to your phone, a message that says that the color of a certain tree-filled region is nearly at its peak. Instead, foliage lovers look to people, to those fellow road trippers and hikers and adventurers, to send such alerts and updates. (No disrespect to the leaves, but they're too busy changing color, via the breaking down of chlorophyll, to send alerts to the phones of human fans.) So just where should a Golden Stater look for such alerts and updates, in terms of when the aspens and cottonwoods and sweet gums and oaks start to do their whole, spectacular, only-in-autumn show? That place is California Fall Color, a site overseen by foliage-loving writer and traveler John Poimiroo. Foliage fans regularly write into Mr. Poimiroo, to say where they've seen leaves changing, whether that's Plumas County, around June Lake in the Eastern Sierra, or the Los Angeles Arboretum. And those updates will now arrive at regular intervals, thanks to the...

START OF FALL... on Friday, Sept. 22. As anyone who has looked for foliage can guess, the higher elevations don their dazzling reds and golds first, while areas around Los Angeles and San Diego can prettily push the season out into December. Watching for peak, or near peak, is essential, if you want to see the tree-based hues at their most pronounced glory, and California Fall Color keeps tabs on the various levels of peakdom throughout the season. If you'd like to send in your own observations or stunning snapshots, in order to help your foliage-loving friends around California, you can; here's the information on the submission process. Or just take a few minutes to scroll through the posts from recent years to get a sense of when favorite areas or regions have peaked in the past. Thanks to our wet winter last year, and other weather factors, the peaks may not be the same this year, do note. But trust that, week-by-week, throughout all of autumn, California Fall Color has your foliage-fancying back.

Photo Credit: Christian Heeb]]>
<![CDATA[Mellow Fall: Dana Point Harbor Music Cruises]]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:58:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DanaWharfMusicCruises.jpg

EVENINGS DON'T ROLL UP THE AWNINGS... when fall arrives, nor do nighttimes put out the "closed" signs. This seems especially true around Southern California, where balmier temperatures, or at least warmer days, can stretch into October. It all feels right, then, that some summer-style happenings also stretch into the fall, especially those that involve music and the last glimmers of the sunset and the Pacific Ocean and a complimentary glass of Dana Point punch. Okay, that all got extremely specific, extremely fast, so here's where we're sailing this particular ship: Dana Wharf Whale Watching is offering an evening Live Music Cruise on the '95-foot Dana Pride every Saturday night through the end of October 2017. That's...

OCT. 28, and, with each on-the-water outing, a band shall play, with Cali Conscious, Bunch of Guys, Flock of 80's, and Sonic Gold all appearing on the rotating, still-to-come schedule. A ticket is $25, and that includes a yay-you're-here glass of Dana Point punch. But if punch isn't your go-to beverage, there's a full bar on board, too, where you can purchase a different sort of libation.

"PERFECT SUNSET VISTAS"? They're not just a hallmark of summer. When autumn arrives, and alfresco adventures settle into a sort of marvelous mellowness, finding an eveningtime outing can be a bit tricky. But not if you look to Dana Point, and Dana Wharf Whale Watching, which is keeping the live music cruise vibes going every Saturday night through the close of October.

Photo Credit: C. de la Fuente]]>
<![CDATA[Opening: Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch]]> Sat, 16 Sep 2017 07:59:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pumpkin-spice1.jpg

GIGANTRON GOURD: How'd your pumpkin patch do this past summer? Did you dutifully plant those seeds in a spot where they'd soak in just the right amount of sunshine? Did you water and fertilize and prune and sing to your growing gourds? And, one morning, right around Labor Day, did you peek out the window and think, "wowza, I might just have a winner out there, if I take it Irvine Park Railroad on Saturday, Sept. 23?" Then you, dear pumpkin person, deserve all of the mighty high fives. But high five you, we will not, for you likely have your arms full of super-sized pumpkin prettiness. If you did grow a biggin', all to enter it in the annual Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Orange County destination, awesome, but if you just want to swing by the park, during the run of its annual Pumpkin Patch, well, that's wonderful, too. For while some folks will show with the pumpkins they grew, for competition purposes, on Sept. 23, other fall fans will shop for pumpkins from...

SEPT. 16 THROUGH OCT. 31, 2017: The popular patch debuts for the season on the third Saturday in Saturday, and keeps chugga-chugging right through to Halloween. The "chugga-chugging" part is a clue that the train is a much beloved aspect of this happening, but there are other kid-cute to-dos, from hay rides to the pumpkin ring toss. Getting into the patch, money-wise? So very free, but definitely bring a little dough for any of the activities, some snacks, and, yes, purchasing that perfect, stem-sweet, show-it-off pumpkin. Will you be inspired to enter the gargantuan gourd showdown in 2018? Be at the patch on Sept. 23 to see what regional families have been up to, pumpkin-growing-wise, this past summer. It's astounding, impressive, and scale-tipping, all at once.

Photo Credit: Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pantai Inn La Jolla: Early Fall Savings]]> Sun, 17 Sep 2017 16:19:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pantai-Courtyard.jpg

SHOULDER SEASON? That's long been the nickname for those times of year that fell between especially busy travel stretches and quieter days. And of all the shoulder seasons commonly cited, fall happens to be a recurrent theme, at least in terms of not-too-bustling, deals-aplenty moments on the travel calendar. Autumn is just on the horizon, no spoiler alert needed, and a few hotels are basking in the cooler temperatures and slightly slower pace of September-into-November. But the temps aren't too cool, for this is Southern California, and you can still do a day at the beach without bundling up. Look to The Pantai Inn in La Jolla for your shoulder-season-y, sweet-deal'd needs if you're hoping for both some savings and some time spent on the sand. The hotel is but a short walk to the Pacific, so once you're parked, you only need to pack a bag and towel for your time near the surf. As for those savings? There's the...

LATE SUMMER SAVINGS... to ponder, a 25%-off deal that lasts well beyond summertime's final adieu. In fact, the final day of the promotion falls plunk in the middle of November — Nov. 16, 2017 — so read all. The biggest to-know? It's a Sunday-to-Thursday kind of deal, and it comes with a "deluxe breakfast each morning." If you didn't use any vacation days over the summer, well A) you know you probably should have, and that's said in the gentlest of fashions, and B) you still can, before the year is over, if you desire both beach time and saunter-around-La-Jolla time. Both of those options are available when staying at The Pantai Inn, so check out the details on this sweet autumn money-saver now.

Photo Credit: Pantai Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Skypark at Santa's Village: Holiday Passes Now Available]]> Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:30:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/skyparksanta019812321.jpg

SKYPARK AT SANTA'S VILLAGE... doesn't latch the shutters and turn off the icicle lights when Mr. Claus and his elves return to the toy-making workshop after Christmastime is over. Rather, the Lake Arrowhead-close attraction, a mid-century gem that returned in 2016 after several years off, keeps humming throughout the warmer months via a host of lively happenings. Those goings-on include concerts, summer holiday parties, roller skating nights, and outdoorsy to-dos, like cycling and taking on the rock-climbing wall. But many a Santa's Village maven keeps an eye on December, when the desire for a photo with Kris Kringle, and a little mountain-style merriment, begins to rise for a number of Southern Californians. And that rise of excitement has begun, as of early September, for...

HOLIDAY PASSES... are now available for the 2017 yuletide time. As for what you'll participate in, after you tell Santa and Mrs. Claus just what you'd like to see under the tree? There's Blitzen's Bungee, the Discovery Playscape, the Frozen Falls Climbing Tower, and a host of cute 'n cozy buildings and activities to see and join in. The park hours for the holidays? Nov. 9 through Jan. 7, 2018 is the window you'll want to watch. Enjoying a Breakfast with Santa Claus or Tea with Mrs. Claus? There are separate tickets for those jolly doings, too. There's no need to hang the mistletoe just yet, seeing as how Halloween and Thanksgiving are still ahead. But if you have designs on a Santa's Village day during the late fall or early winter, ponder driving your sleigh in the direction of the tickets page now.

Photo Credit: Skypark at Santa's Village]]>
<![CDATA[Catalina Island: Buccaneer's Weekend 2017]]> Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:32:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/twoharborsAerial_2ccoc.jpg

TELL A FRIEND... that you're headed to Catalina Island, and your friend may instantly assume that Avalon is your destination. True, you might be flying first for the Airport in the Sky, but Avalon is the fabled isle's bigger town, the busy burg that sees a lot of the daily boat action. (And, by "busy," we mean golf carts are humming and visitors are happily strolling, which is exactly the right kind of busy.) But there is another beautiful village, of course, called Two Harbors, and, like Avalon, it also faces the mainland, though from a different, more northerly direction. Unlike Avalon, Two Harbors takes a bit more planning to reach, but reachable, it definitely is, and the whole "bit more planning" part makes it all the more enticing to its many devoted fans. And a number of those fans keep fall in mind, each year, for that's when one of the town's most swashbuckling festivities leaps into sight: It's Buccaneer's Weekend, and the pirates shall wash ashore at Two Harbors from...

OCT. 5 THROUGH 8, 2017: It's a grown-up kind of party, with live bands, nightly DJs, camping packages, and "(m)ultiple bars" filling out the scene. Is there a costume contest? Oh yes, so best keep your tunic and boots, the outfit you plan to wear on Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is Sept. 19, near your suitcase. Are there treasure hunts, too? It would hardly seem like a pirate-themed festival without searching for some sort of hidden goodies. Will you enjoy the beauty that Two Harbors brims with, whether you don a tri-cornered hat and breeches or not? You will; the name springs from the fact that, yes, there are two harbors there, or a cove and a harbor, adding to the spot's sublime picturesque nature. (Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor are the watery features, but you surely already knew those names, loving Two Harbors as you do.) For all of your Buccaneer's Weekend needs, best grab the nearest chandelier and swing by the information pronto, before the searching for treasure begins.

Photo Credit: Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce]]>
<![CDATA[Post Ranch Inn: Hearst Castle Package]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:18:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/postranchSierra_Mar_Kodiak-Greenwood_MG-horz.jpg

NEARLY NEIGHBORS: When describing California towns, and the distances that separate some of our favorite destinations, do you typically use the word "neighbor," even when citing two cities that aren't really in the same neck of the woods? It's a matter of perspective, when it comes to bandying about the term "neighbor," but bandy it about we shall when it comes to San Simeon and Big Sur. The two ocean-close locations aren't next door to each other, but, traditionally, both serve as popular stops for adventurers wending along Highway 1's craggiest, wowiest bits. Some of those wowiest bits are currently under construction, due to the wallop of a winter (that would be the winter of 2016-2017, which brought slides and other major road issues, including the construction of a new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge). But a Big Sur legend, Post Ranch Inn, is connecting with a San Simeon legend, Hearst Castle, to give those guests eager to do both that chance, with a helicopter in the mix. 

TRUE, Post Ranch Inn launched a from-the-north helicopter package in the spring, with guests boarding a helicopter in Monterey. This newer southerly package, which is available through Saturday, Oct. 7, involves a tempting first to-do: Lunch and a wine tasting Sebastian's Café and General Store at Hearst Ranch Winery. A private tour of Hearst Castle follows, and following that? A ride in a Lexus Hybrid vehicle to the Hearst Castle Pergola, where a helicopter awaits. After lift-off, how long is the flight to Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur? Thirty minutes, allowing for plenty of look-around, soak-in-the-surf-below time. You'll want to book for two (or more) nights at Post Ranch Inn, and bone up on all the to-knows about the luxe, limited-time package. As for calling Hearst Castle and Post Ranch Inn neighbors? Let's say they truly are, for consider their connective qualities: Both San Simeon and Big Sur are eternally bound to the Pacific, and the soft spirit of natural beauty, which are very neighborly and nice traits for two places to share.

Photo Credit: Kodiak Greenwood/Visit California]]>
<![CDATA[Danish Days: Solvang's History-Laden Lark]]> Mon, 11 Sep 2017 22:31:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/danishdayssolvangIMG_0890.jpg

DANCING IN THE STREETS: Downing several æbleskivers in one sitting? No one says you must, but if that's your particular pleasure, you should find your way to a certain windmill-whimsical, clog-tastic, pastry-rich town near Santa Barbara. It's Solvang, of course, that we speak of — the windmill reference surely gave that away — and it's a town that pauses each year to celebrate Danish Days. Perhaps "pauses" is not the right word, for there is a parade, and people swinging other people in the streets, and some hearty souls who attempt to devour as many doughy yum balls (yes, æbleskivers) as they can in one dessert-y dash. And while the strollable town has a number of other notable festivities on the annual calendar, including the popular Taste of Solvang in March and Julefest in December, it is Danish Days that features the Viking Encampment, a Beer & Wine Garden, and æbleskiver breakfasts, where you may eat as slowly as you like, savoring each confection-perfect bite. But, of course, there are the...

EATING CONTESTS... centered around the superstar sweet, if you prefer to eat your pastry in fast fashion. Everything kicks off on Friday, Sept. 15 with a free concert in Solvang Park, and the schedule remains jam-packed through Sunday afternoon. ("Jam"-packed, of course, is an æbleskiver shout-out, which you know, since jam is the traditional accompaniment to the delicious balls of goodness.) Also on the roster? An organ concert, chainsaw carving, a torchlight parade, an Old World Artisans Marketplace, an appearance by Hans Christian Andersen, courtesy of Randel McGee, and several more small-town-y, oh-so-quaint doings. Keep in mind, too, that you'll be right smack in the Santa Ynez Valley wine country in the middle of September, an ideal place to be during an ideal time, if you do like wine. Prepare to frolic, to nosh upon pastries and other authentic Danish delicacies, and to cheer on chainsaw carving, in Solvang, from Sept. 15 through 17, 2017.

Photo Credit: Solvang Danish Days]]>
<![CDATA[Rolly Crump: Disney Legend Exhibit]]> Mon, 11 Sep 2017 21:38:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CrumpClock_772x406_1.jpg

DISNEYLAND PARK... didn't spring into glorious being, fully formed and ready for visitors, from thin air back in 1955. Nor has it ever stop evolving, changing, or adding new elements, attractions, and guest-delighting details. Both of those true statements — that people of great imagination built the famous theme park, and continue to shape and contribute to its charm and character — can be seen daily in Anaheim, but getting to know the work of an Imagineering icon, at length, is a rarer treat. For sure, to see a bit of Imagineer Rolly Crump's talent you can visit it's a small world, or Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, and soak in the colorful splendor that fill both Disneyland attractions. You can even watch "Peter Pan" or "Lady and the Tramp" to see Mr. Crump's early Disney contributions, back when he was an assistant animator. But to enjoy a singular, full-scale Rolly Crump experience, you'll want to ride your favorite boat or roller coaster or perhaps your car to the...

OCEANSIDE MUSEUM OF ART, where "Rolly Crump: It's Kind of a Cute Story" is on display through Feb. 18, 2018. The "good-natured contrarian" and "visual provocateur" has been behind so much of what we today think of as Disneyland's particular brand of magic-making, and each item in the exhibit conveys Mr. Crump's fabulous, big-vision'd outlook. Paintings, designs, models, and more treasures fill up a large slice of the art institution, making it a merry day out for Disney fans, Rolly Crump admirers, and anyone who wants to see what the spark looks like, that necessary spark that happens before a major theme park attraction is built. Could you do both the Oceanside Museum of Art and Disneyland Park in a single day? It would be a busy day, no doubt, but the two locations are just over an hour apart, if there's not too much traffic. And no, a boat from it's a small world won't whisk you between the exhibit and theme park, but one can dream of traveling the 5 Freeway in this whimsical manner.

Photo Credit: Rolly Crump]]>
<![CDATA[Julian Apple Days Festival: Pie It Up]]> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 21:21:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/applepie93828121.jpg

PIE-EATING PRACTICE: We all regularly commit to burnishing our skills in multiple areas in this life, but rarely do we put in a few hours of practice ahead of a showdown involving the quick, messy, cheek-sticky consumption of pastry. That's likely because we know we'll probably do a pretty good job, seeing as how we've devoured pastry products pretty handily, and speedily in the past. This is all to say that you won't need to take off a day of work to hone your pie-eating talents ahead of the 2017 Julian Apple Days Festival, but you might commit to some positive visualization, at the very least, to make sure your head is in the gooey game. Because once you sit down to a famous apple pie, the kind of goodie that's synonymous with the charming mountain town? Your former pastry-inhaling skills may be compromised by the deliciousness of it all. What won't be comprised on...

SATURDAY, SEPT. 23 AND SUNDAY, SEPT. 24... is the joy that apple aficionados, and lovers of the fall season, will find in Julian. Pie-eating contests are just the beginning, if that's where you choose to begin. But consider that gold-panning activities, kid-cute games, a beer & wine garden, the admiring of antique tractors, and other old-timey to-dos will flower around town (flower like so many buds on an apple tree). Admission is five bucks, children under the age of 5 are admitted for free, and, yes, you can buy apple pie and eat it slowly, if that's your pastry preference. Menghini Winery is the location, and if you're early, as in one of the first 250 paid-admission people "through the gate"? Oh yeah: You're going home with a gratis pie server. And no one should ever pretend that "pie at home" isn't a thing in their worlds, because having something apple-y to nosh on, during after-dinner TV time, is one of the true gifts of fall. Or any day of the year, really. Honesty is best.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Banana Festival at Port of Hueneme]]> Thu, 07 Sep 2017 12:55:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/FamilyonBoardtheSunfish+%281%29.jpg

JUST HOW DEEP... is a traditional banana split dish? It's got to be roomy enough to hold three generous scoops of ice cream, and a mountain of whipped cream, and a load of chopped nuts, and all of the hot fudge you crave (and let's not forget the essential cherry topper). How deep is the Port of Hueneme? Suffice it to say, it is rather deeper than your typical banana split dish, seeing as how it is "... the only deep water port between LA and San Francisco." We're not sure how many banana split dishes, or, for that matter, bananas, could be stacked, end-to-end, to measure the port's impressive depth, but figuring that number out isn't at the top of many lists. What is, though? The 6th annual Port of Hueneme Banana Festival, a September-ending celebration that both highlights the potassium-rich fruit bowl favorite and the busy port's role as "...one of the country's largest banana gateways." The 2017 date is...

SATURDAY, SEPT. 30, and the free festival offers attendees a lot to peel back. Vendors will be out selling a variety of banana-sweet and non-banana bites, though you'll want to keep an eye out for the banana beignets as well as, you guessed it, banana splits. There'll be other unusual or one-of-a-kind banana dishes to try, so save room for the sweetness, even if you dig into some empanada action or barbecue for lunch. There'll be live music, and margaritas, and activities for kids, but make time to hop on a free tour of the port (they're on land and on the water). You'll learn about the capacious amount of cargo that passes through the Port of Hueneme each year, and other interesting facts. One note? Make sure you have identification if you want to take a tour. For all of the banana-good, port-fascinating details, visit the festival's main HQ.

Photo Credit: Christopher Zsarnay/Z Studios]]>
<![CDATA[Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival: Sweet September]]> Wed, 06 Sep 2017 21:48:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GhirardelliChocolateFestivalImage3.jpg

SAUCE, WHIPPED CREAM, CHERRY: Approaching a Ghirardelli sundae? It's best done in a slow, ready-to-savor, no-rush manner. It matters not if you eat the cherry right away, or you save it for the final bite; you'll want to take your time, spoonful by spoonful, because dishes filled with the famous cold treat have a way of emptying far too quickly. But should you enter the Ghirardelli Chocolate Earthquake Ice Cream Eating Contest at the 22nd Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, you'll want gnash into the eight-scooped treat in front of you, over and over, in speedy fashion. For the as the name suggests, devouring the giant sundae before your fellow competitors finish is the aim, but there's a sticky-faced catch: You can't use a spoon, or any other implement, which means you'll be plowing mouth first into the gooey goodness. Tempted? Think you have what it takes to be a hands-free sundae-eating superstar? Then be at San Francisco's celebrated...

GHIRARDELLI SQUARE... on Saturday, Sept. 9 and Sunday, Sept. 10 for the confectionery festival, one that features the famous sundae contest as well as several other hot fudge-topped to-dos. Visit the Ghirardelli Chocolate Lounge for wine and beer tastings, as well as samples from "gourmet dessert vendors." The "From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar" Chocolate School gives interested students the background on how a chocolate bar is made. And chef demos? They'll be plentiful, so grab a seat to see how you can craft your own stylish sweets at home. Tickets to the 2017 festival run from $25 to $50, and the weekend's beneficiary? Project Open Hand, which "...provides meals with love to seniors and the critically ill."

Photo Credit: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Escape: Big Bear Scenic Sky Chair]]> Tue, 05 Sep 2017 09:19:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bigbearliftchair12345.jpg

LABOR DAY WEEKEND... around Southern California? No one is surprised when it turns out to be a real sizzler. That's a common forecast, when August meets September, and people suddenly find themselves seeking the nearest oscillating fan, the closest ice cream treat, or, if possible, a way to get to a higher, cooler elevation. If this last goal is part of your current Labor Day Weekend outlook, consider heading to Big Bear Mountain Resort, and then, once you're there, going even higher. How? On the Scenic Sky Chair. True, chairs scrolling up and down mountains are frequently associated with skiers and boarders and snow, but, in the hottest days of summertime, they can make for a pleasant outing, one that comes with a few cool-down breezes and several sweeping views. There's something else pretty nifty about the Big Bear attraction, though, and it is this: If you buy your ticket at least 72 hours in advance, you can save 20%, giving you more cash for ice cream treats. It's a...

"MILE-LONG ASCENT... through the San Bernardino National Forest," and if an elevation of 8,200 feet sounds like a sweet way to bid goodbye to the heat, this above-it-all ride could be your dream outing. But that's not the only possibility to pursue in the area over the holiday weekend. Check out the Glow Golf event on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 at Bear Mountain Golf Course. It's after-dark fun times on the green, with glowing balls to lead the way. Feeling the Big Bear Lake-style breezes already? Plan your Labor Day Weekend road trip to a place certain to be a least a smidgen, or make that several smidgens, cooler than much of Southern California.

Photo Credit: Big Bear Mountain Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Titanic Photographs: Queen Mary Exhibit]]> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:21:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TiPqueenmaryBackground.jpg

IT'S A COMMON QUESTION... for visitors to the Queen Mary to ask, and an understandable one, too: "Was the 1997 movie 'Titanic' filmed at the Long Beach ocean-liner?" It was not, though thinking that the Queen Mary looks quite similar to photographs of the Titanic is a plausible thought, given some of their shared features. But the fact remains that the Titanic sailed in 1912 and the Queen Mary, a much larger ship, has roots in the 1930s. Still, the two are forever paired in many minds, given that the Titanic remains the most legendary of passenger ships, with little quibble. If you consider yourself something of a scholar of the storied and tragic ship, which sank in the North Atlantic after meeting an iceberg in April 1912, further filling out your photographic knowledge of the time, and how the vessel appeared to those aboard and those on shore, is likely a pursuit you regularly seek out. Seek no more, or, rather, turn your sights upon the Queen Mary, where...

"ALMOST 100 PERIOD PHOTOGRAPHS... are displayed" in the recently debuted "Titanic in Photographs: The Exhibition." It's a "comprehensive, educational view of one of the most memorable moments in history," and exhibit visitors can take a peek at the Turkish Bath & Swimming Pool, the 1st Class Lounge, that famous sweeping staircase, and several other locations around the Titanic, many that aren't readily portrayed in the most commonly seen photos of the voyage. Who was behind the camera? Robert Welch, the professional photographer representing the shipbuilding outfit Harland & Wolff, as well as "period press photographers & passengers on board Titanic and the rescue ship, Carpathia." The photos are complemented by other Titanic-related items in the Queen Mary exhibit. A host of artifacts in display cases, including silver, light fixtures, and even some chairs, are found near the photographs of the ship.

Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>
<![CDATA[Oak Glen: Apple Season Opens]]> Sat, 02 Sep 2017 10:37:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/applesGettyImages-454467348.jpg

DO YOU REQUIRE PIE, the kind of pie that comes with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and cinnamon inside, and large hunks of soft, cooked-long, oh-so-toothsome apples drizzling out? Oak Glen understands. Do you need cider doughnuts, the sort of pastries that can be eating straight from a sugar-dusted bag, the kind of treat that makes you feel like everything is going to work out and your worries are for naught? Again, Oak Glen knows how you're feeling. And should you require apple butter, or apple cake, or other smile-inducing sweets made with the pretty pomme, can you turn to Oak Glen and find satisfaction? The town won't let you down. It's one of the apple-liest burgs in all of the Golden State, an orchard-nice village that not only welcomes visitors who want to pick apples, but who want to enjoy a drive out for a hearty lunch followed by apple pie a la mode. And Oak Glen's most apple-intensive stretch is here, with the start of...

APPLE SEASON: Rejoice, pie people, for Saturday, Sept. 2 is when it all gets especially gooey, and spicy, and nutmeggy, and nummy 'round the Yucaipa-close neck o' the woods. If picking your own apples, and heading for home with a bag is your bag, that's a possibility, as is pressing your own cider. Want to coo over animals? That's happening, as are other nostalgic pursuits and activities we often associate with autumn. True, it is still warm out (read: hot as blazes) as we head into September, but if you need some fall amazingness soon, best get to Oak Glen for some good-to-the-core cuteness. Apple Season in Oak Glen is on through Sunday, Nov. 26.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Desert Doughnuts: Holiday Weekend Fun]]> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:06:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/JWMarriottDesertSprings_AerialView-horz.jpg

HOLIDAY WEEKEND GETAWAY: The first few days in September? That's right around when Labor Day Weekend typically falls, and travelers begin to consider a quick getaway, a trip that will likely involve some heat, given the time of year. There's plenty of heat in Palm Desert, no spoiler alert required, and if you make for the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, you'll find high temps and crystalline pools, which have a way of keeping high temps tamed. But holiday weekends aren't simply about refreshing swims, and sunshine, and the whole getting-away-a-tude; fun and interesting eating is also on the dining docket. And the Palm Desert resort is going to make its holiday-style noshing pretty memorable on on Saturday, Sept. 2 (updated), when a...

40-POUND DOUGHNUT... is unveiled. It'll likely be round like the sun above the resort, and definitely not as hot, and definitely easier to eat, though you may want to save your appetite, for a Sugar High Happy Hour will follow the mega doughnut reveal, complete with a choose-your-own doughnut wall. There's also a DoNut Disturb package, starting at $219, which comes with a 10-pound doughnut (a doughnut that, wait for it, will show at your door, courtesy of the Donut Dispatcher). The fun part? This package will be available for several months to come. If the sticky, gooey pastries aren't your scene, there are a number of other goings-on around the expansive property, including Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf, Canvas Art Painting, and more. If you need some sunbeams, some splashing, some doughnut time, and a fast jaunt out of town over Labor Day Weekend, give the hotel a jingle, or check out the web site for more info on rates, happenings, and sunny such.

Photo Credit: Dan Ham/Doughnuts]]>
<![CDATA[Seasonal Stomp: South Coast Grape Festivity]]> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:20:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/198*120/blessingofthevinestemecula1.jpg

STEP ON A PIECE OF FRUIT... while walking around the kitchen in barefeet or socks and you're going to let out a "darn" or something stronger. For the truth of it? You didn't mean to squash that strawberry under your big toe, and that kiwi slice? It really didn't deserve your heel. Sometimes, though, fruit is stepped on with intent, and passion, and a few dramatics, too. That typically happens during a grape-stomping event, the sort of to-do that asks visitors to help turn tiny orbs of vine-vivacious goodness into the liquid that will eventually become wine. If you've longed to try just this, but find that you don't come across grape stomps in your day-to-day life (it's not you; they're not all that common), turn your grape-loving gaze upon Temecula Valley, and South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, where revelers will kick off their shoes, literally, to stomp some juice-brimming, fingertip-sized globes. The 2017 Grape Stomp Festival date is...

SUNDAY, SEPT. 17, and the late-afternoon affair includes the Blessing of the Wines, too (indeed, there's a Blessing of the Vines event in the springtime at South Coast). Will there be a Wine Country Buffet? There shall be, so prepare to fill your plate with vittles like South Coast Brined Pork Loin, Roasted Atlantic Salmon, or Marinated Garlic Herb Lemon Chicken, plus an assortment of sides. Live tunes, tractor rides, and, yes, opportunities to put the ball of your foot down on some grapes are all on deck. This is a few days ahead of fall, so call it the last summer fling, one that has autumnal overtones. And wine-nice overtones, too, should you want to stock up for fall and the holidays while you're there.

Photo Credit: South Coast Winery]]>
<![CDATA[Big Bear: Village Fall Wine Walk]]> Wed, 30 Aug 2017 09:10:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/winetasting.jpg

THAT CHANGE IN THE AIR: Summer has a way of arriving before, well, summer, and spring can make a brief cameo around Valentine's Day. Winter? It's definitely in the stores, in the form of snowflake ornaments and snowmen-covered clothing, before the late-December solstice, but of all the seasons, fall might have the most enchanting early entrance. We start to speak of a transformation in the air, early in the morning and just after sundown, in August, and then we talk of how the light is growing softer, or hailing from a different sky-down slant. And if we're sensing these changes in the lower elevations, you can imagine that the mountains are slightly to greatly accelerated in this regard. In fact, Big Bear's annual Village Fall Wine Walk is officially on a summer's day, but the last Saturday of summer 2017 will probably feel a lot like fall to many attendees. And that final Saturday is...

SEPT. 16, the date for the upcoming, get-to-know-the-village event. Some 28 businesses will participate, which means ticket holders can stop in for a wine tasting at a plethora of venues. You'll get a dozen wine tasting tickets in all, and a souvenir glass, for $35, should you purchase your entry ahead of Sept. 4 (it's $45 after that date). If you just want to nibble around? That's twenty dollars. Beers, too, will play a part, and shopping is part of the happening. The Wine Walk has a mid-afternoon start, with a 7 p.m. wrap time, meaning you can be back at your hotel room or cabin by the time that fall-style chill starts to set in. Will it be as cold as it got last winter in Big Bear, when a lot of snow fell? Not at all; late summer is mighty mellow up the mountain. But if you're looking for hints of autumn in the atmosphere, and some great sips and a great, out-and-about scene, ponder crossing the summer-fall bridge this year in Big Bear.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oxnard: Find Your Close-to-the-Beach Stay]]> Sun, 03 Sep 2017 09:41:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Aerial+Hi+Res+2.jpg

HOLDING TIGHTLY ONTO SUMMER? It's possible to make it all last, though the final days of August do seem to slide through the fingers with the ease of so many foamy ocean bubbles. One day it is springtime, and we're talking about all of the summer road trips we'd like to take, and then, we see it: Halloween candy filling the shelves at our local supermarket. But the beaches of Southern California have a pretty consistent and commendable way of sticking around throughout the calendar, whether it is summertime or not, and making your way to one is possible regardless of season. September and October, in fact, are fine months to beach it up, thanks to the continuing warm weather and the thinning of crowds (well, it is California, where places bustle all year, but, come fall, travel does wind down a touch). Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort happens to have a front row seat to some blissful beachery, and it is close to Channel Islands Harbor, too, in case you want to hop a boat out to Channel Islands National Park. There are...

"250 NEWLY RENOVATED ROOMS"... at the expansive property, a spread that includes an ample amount of ocean-front beauty (the resort sits on eight-and-a-half acres). As for the hotel's line-up of packages? There are deals designed for family trips, for getawayers looking for a long weekend, and a military family rate, too. As for finding your perfect area beach? Oxnard has a multitude, from ocean-y areas perfect for kayaking to places made for a soak-in-the-sun picnic. The summer of '17 isn't done, not at all, and balmy days will balmy-on for at least four or five more weeks, though maybe more. If you didn't get your beach time in over the last couple of months, make a night or weekend of it, at a property that's so sand-adjacent it is nearly sitting in the surf.

Photo Credit: Visit Ventura]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Ventura Art & Street Painting Festival]]> Mon, 28 Aug 2017 15:28:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ventura1IMG_2759.jpg

YOUR SUMMER MUST-BUY ITEMS LIST? It was probably on the lengthy side. Back in May, or even June, you might have picked up some sunblock at the store, or a beach towel, or a pool inflatable, or some bubbles made for blowing, and maybe some giant hats, too. And, if you have kids around, and we're including big kids, you might have thrown a pack of sidewalk chalk into the cart, the kind of large, brightly hued chalk perfect for pool decks and concrete driveways. For the urge to fill a large canvas, even if it is underfoot, is a real one, and the warmer days of summer mean we're outside more, looking for larks and capers and fun ways to while away a balmy day. Consider, too, that many of California's major street painting festivals also cluster around the summertime, with Santa Barbara, Pasadena, and San Rafael all serving as spectacular spots where annual drawings-on-the-ground events may be found. But summer isn't over yet, and Ventura is up next, with the...

VENTURA ART & STREET PAINTING FESTIVAL... filling out the penultimate weekend of the summer of 2017. The dates are Saturday, Sept. 9 and Sunday, Sept. 10, and 40-plus artists will be out and on the pavement around Ventura Harbor Village, with various tools of the trade in hand. Expect whimsical renderings of favorite characters — Willy Wonka made a showing in a festival gone by — and scenes of nature, too. And expect to see several acclaimed artists fashioning the pictures, stroke by chalk stroke, including accolade-garnering participants like Tracy Lee Stum and Rod Tryon, of Ventura and Santa Barbara, respectively. What will the create in 2017? The sky, or rather the ground, is the limit.

TROMPE L'OEIL... is often a gasp-inducing go-to for street painting artists, and the artworks that seem to be three-dimensional consistently summon a stream of admirers. (No, you can't step into the painting, though it looks as though you could.) Admission to the festival is free, though kids can get their own chalk and sidewalk square to work with for ten bucks. FOOD Share of Ventura County and Kids Arts Inc. are the weekend's beneficiaries.

Photo Credit: Ventura Art and Street Painting Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Catalina Film Festival: Cinematic Island Trip]]> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:11:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AvapmBayDusk_Xmas-horz.jpg

"HOLLYWOOD'S ISLAND": It's not too much of a stretch to say that, with time, gas money, and ample snacks, you and your film-loving pals could drive to most any film festival in North America. Sundance in Park City, Utah? That'll take you about 13 or 14 hours, thereabouts, depending on how many stops you make. Telluride? That'll run you a little longer, and if you're heading up to the Toronto Film Festival? Plan a few days for your mondo road trip. The film festival that sets up the red carpet in Avalon every autumn is much closer to Los Angeles, it's true, but road-tripping there will also involve ocean-tripping or sky-tripping. For the Catalina Film Festival happens to take place on Catalina Island, and the operative word is "island," which makes it all the more delightful as fans plan out their route by Pacific or air. "Come to Hollywood's Island!" is the clarion call of the festival, which is set to screen a line-up of stellar works from...

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 27 THROUGH SUNDAY, OCT. 1: The festival's stylish poster was just released on Aug. 20 — the Anthony Gonzales work pays homage to Marilyn Monroe and the Avalon Theatre at the Casino Building — and more movie information will spool out in the weeks ahead of the early-fall festival. Want to keep an eye out for trailers celebrating the movies set to show at the 2017 party? Best head to youtube and bookmark the festival's page for all of your trailer-based needs. But there's no hemming nor hawing with this festival: Islands are finite, land-wise, as you might have heard, and booking your overnight stay in Avalon should be done in advance of the cinematic spectacular. So plan now, buy your snacks, tell your friends, and map out your ocean route to this charmer of a movie bash.

Photo Credit: Catalina Chamber of Commerce/Popcorn]]>
<![CDATA[Sunnylands: Tour the Rancho Mirage Gem]]> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:05:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ABT-Sunnylands_938x653_kenhayden.jpg

LATE-SUMMER HELLO: We're all a bit used to hearing about cold-climate destinations that sometimes shutter when the frost gets to be a bit too much. Maybe the roads, too, are impassable, thanks to a preponderance of flakes, and perhaps a series of giant drifts are keeping winter visitors at bay. But sometimes celebrated spaces in some of our hotter desert regions choose to slow it down on the opposite end of the calendar. That's understandable, for sure, and certainly when the temperatures push upwards in dramatic fashion. One such place that takes the summer "off," at least in terms of tours if not in other ways, is Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage. The former Annenberg Estate has been open for tours for a half decade now, and people arrive in the fall, winter, and spring to see the succulent-filled gardens, the beautiful sculptures, and to enjoy the art exhibits. Good news: The re-opening date is nearly here, on...

THURSDAY, SEPT. 14, and tickets are now available for upcoming tours. Sunnylands, which also includes a gift shop and café, closed in early June to tours, but staffers have stayed busy over the summer, and photos on social media have told the tale. There's been set-up (and gallery painting) for the upcoming exhibit "Carved Narrative: Los Hermanos Chávez Morado," and care for the property's flora (and, yes, fauna, too — hello, sweet Great Horned Owl). It's nearly time for the estate's aficionados to return for tours, special movie events, and more. Find your way to one of the desert's most fabled and fabulous spreads by calling upon Sunnylands for a tour, a peek inside the center, lunch, or a garden bask in the autumn sun.

Photo Credit: Ken Hayden]]>
<![CDATA[Coaster Campout at Knott's Berry Farm]]> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 14:33:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/coastercampoutDSC_0244.jpg

FALLING ASLEEP NEAR RIDES, the kind of attractions and "wheeee"-ful things seen inside theme parks, is the sort of daydream that many of us had back when we were kids. The thought of a theme park overnight was akin to having a late-night adventure in the mall or library, solving mysteries like they do in books. In short? A slumber party inside a ride-packed wonderland seems straight out of fiction. Surely it could never happen beyond the page, or the screen... surely? Oh, but it can, and it shall, at a historic theme park located in Buena Park. You've heard of it — it's Knott's Berry Farm — and you know that the destination, like all theme parks, traditionally bids its guests goodnight when a certain hour on the clock arrives. But that hour will not arrive for guests of the Coaster Campout, a stay-the-night experience scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26. You won't need to sleep in the Ghost Town — that might be too eerie — nor atop a roller coaster. Rather,

FAMILIES ARE INVITED TO CAMP... at Park Pavilion. A campsite is $250, and up to four people may join. What's included, beyond the oh-so-cool chance to go night-night at Knott's? Park admission (to Soak City, too, as well as Knott's Berry Farm), and entertainment, and a wake-up call from Snoopy himself. You'll also be able to chow down on a continental breakfast on Aug. 27. The best part of the campout? All the proceeds will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America. There are a number of points to study up on, as far as when to arrive, parking (one free parking is included), and other good pointers. So before you pack those jammies, and wonder what a theme park's vibe is in the wee smalls of the morning, best read all of the information. We know, that whole Snoopy wake-up call can understandably catch your fancy, but there are other times and to-dos to get up on. Intrigued? Need one final summer family outing? Know your Knott's need-to-knows.

Photo Credit: Knott's Berry Farm]]>
<![CDATA[Yosemite Ski Fun: Early Bird Pass]]> Sat, 26 Aug 2017 14:48:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yosemiteC_TC_1796_20080211.jpg

EARLY BIRD SEASON PASS: Travelers may have flocked to Yosemite National Park in recent days all to look up, while wearing the appropriate solar filter glasses, in the general direction of our nearest star. A star, you may have heard, that had a "visitor" of sorts when the moon passed in front of it, at least from our terrestrial viewpoint. (No, the moon didn't actually visit the sun, though if someone would like to turn that into a kid's book, that would be mighty cute.) Fairly soon, though, Yosemite fans will be looking up to see something quite different in the destination, and something that's notably colder than the sun: snowflakes. The cold, frosty stuff does fall in the spectacular national park, which makes getting a little schussing in, and some rad boarding, a fine pursuit come the iciest stretch of the year. If you're hoping to spend some quality, wind-rushing, woohoo-ing time at Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, take note that the Early Bird Season Pass is on sale, oh yes siree. But the sale wraps on...

FRIDAY, SEPT. 1, 2017, so you won't want to wait on those first snowflakes to fall to purchase your Early Bird Season Pass. Now check out this astounding number: You'll "(s)ave over $350" if you act like the early bird and buy your pass now at $99. Regular price? It's $461. That deserves a mitten wave, or a ski twirl, or something as celebratory, because deals don't arrive much sweeter, regardless of their category. That $99 price, by the by, is good for all age groups, except for kids age 6 or under, who can join in for free (yes, they'll need to be with a paying adult). Details? Ski this way. Looking up at Yosemite? It doesn't only happen during eclipses. Snowflakes turn our chins skyward, too, and waterfalls, and Half Dome, and El Capitan...

Photo Credit: Yosemite Hospitality]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:20:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Solvangscarecrow12122.jpg

WHAT TAKES MORE TIME... and concentration and sheer wit? Planning a Halloween costume that will win the party's top prize? Or devising a scarecrow that is cute and strange and humorous and sweet? Both involve the elements of costuming and fantasy, and both take place during the autumn, too. But while humans are the ones to don elaborate outfits on the 31st of October, it is scarecrows, the non-humans among us, who wear their frightful and/or funny finery through much of the fall season, for weeks or months at a time. Several of our state's most celebrated scarecrows show up around the Santa Ynez Valley each October, and fans of fall fun — and wine country — regularly journey to the area to check out the cheeky, autumnal, grab-the-camera displays. Those displays may be viewed in Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, and Ballard from...

OCT. 1 THROUGH 31, 2017: But where to find these fantastical fall figures populating the Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest? They'll be standing in front of dozens upon dozens of local businesses, and each will have its own vibe. A scarecrow might pay homage to a movie character, or a local tradition (hello, food and wine and windmills and æbleskivers), or simply rock a classic scarecrow mien. Of course there's a hashtag for all of the happy-making scarecrow snapshots sure to show up on social media — #syvscarecrows — and of course you're free to try and see them all (there have been well over 100 in recent years). Even if you just swing through a town or two, or the burg where it all began, Solvang, you'll come away with that quaint fall feeling. So, is it harder to invent a costume or imagine the perfect scarecrow? Both are a charming challenge, both are so fall-like, but the scarecrows do rule the Santa Ynez Valley come October.

Photo Credit: Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest]]>
<![CDATA[Solvang Sweet: Æbleskiver-Eating Contest]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:38:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/arnesfamousaebleskiver.jpg

THAT LAST DELICIOUS DOUGH BALL: If you're eating a traditional serving of æbleskivers on your own, well, lucky you. They typically arrive with three to a plate, at least around the quaint cafés of Solvang, and a trio of æbleskivers takes a wonderfully long time to eat, if you slow down and refuse to gobble each delicious dough ball (this takes some practice). Plus? You have the jam to dole out, the gooey sweetness that sits on top of the treats or to the side, and that, too, needs a measured hand and patient mind. But if you're sharing an order of æbleskivers while visiting the Danish capital of America? Oh goodness: You and your pastry-loving pal will have to figure out how to divvy up that third one fairly, with each eater getting the exact same amount. Of course, all of this fussing is for naught when you and your friend and every other dessert devotee you know sign up for the...

ÆBLESKIVER-EATING CONTESTS... at the 2017 Danish Days festival. The just-before-fall celebration is very much about Solvang's heritage, and the small pastry balls are the festivity's foodie stars. The eating contest is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, Sept. 17, which'll send sweets mavens fork-to-fork in a sugary showdown. Of course, if you like to consume your confections at a slower pace, you can sign up for one of the weekend's æbleskiver breakfasts, which are different from the contests but no less delicious. Enjoying the classic treat is something visitors can do all year long in the Golden State's windmill-iest burg, but when Danish Days arrive, everyone has those little orbs of tummy-filling goodness on their mind. Whether your eat 'em fast, devour 'em slow, or split them with a friend, going halfsies on that third dough ball, Solvang's most famous foodstuff is a gotta-try-it must-have.

Photo Credit: Arne's Famous Aebleskiver/Jeremy Ball]]>
<![CDATA[Happy Birthday, National Park Service]]> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:40:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ChannelIslandsSantaCruzIslandCreditVisitVentura.jpg

If you dream of spending some time in a favorite national park, surrounded by trees, canyons, cliffs, and/or rivers, consider Friday -- the National Park Service's birthday is on Friday, Aug. 25. And that's...

A FREE DAY... at the 100+ fee-charging national parks around the nation. California is home to many parks that do not ask for an admission, but some do, like Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. Enter either of those on Aug. 25 and skip the get-in fee at the gate. The NPS includes over 400 parks in all, so finding a much-loved location, or a totally new-to-you place, shouldn't be too difficult. The only very small challenge? Waiting on the next free day, which is on Sept. 30, 2017 in honor of National Public Lands Day. For all the information on the National Public Service and its fee-free calendar, click.

Photo Credit: Visit Ventura]]>
<![CDATA[Knott's Scary Farm: 2017 Hotel Packages]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:33:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Knotts2011.jpg

SCARES AND SLEEP? It seems as if they're forever entwined, or at least tangentially connected, in many minds. We put off watching a spooky movie just before bedtime, lest the fright film fill our dreams with monsters and ghosts. And do we sometimes leave the closet light on just after finishing a spirit-filled story? Well, even the smallest glow seems to help ease our slumber. How, then, does the notion of a solid, REM-laden, eight-hours-or-more night o' sleep figure into the Halloween spectaculars at our region's theme parks? They are mighty macabre, and the famous mazes that dot each event can keep a person up long after they arrive home. There are, though, a few autumntime happenings that have special stay-over packages attached, and while there's no guarantee that your dreams won't be ghosty as you bed down in a hotel, you'll at least know that you'll be staying in the area of the event, and not having to make a long drive home. Peek, if you will, at...

KNOTT'S SCARY FARM, the eeky Buena Park scare-it-up that extends for several weeks each year. The 2017 event, which opens on Thursday, Sept. 21 and runs on select nights through Halloween, has something extra for those who want to sleep nearby-ish: Knott's Scary Farm Hotel Packages at the Knott's Berry Farm Hotel. There are a few levels, starting with the Barebones Hotel Package, and admission to Knott's Scary Farm is included (if you go up a couple of levels, you can score admission to Knott's Berry Farm, too). Give everything the eyeball, before booking, and decide which stay will fold into your phantom-y plans for visiting the famous monster-mayhem attraction. Will you be a pinch less scared knowing that you'll be sleeping near the park? Well, perhaps not: "Monsters will be roaming the Lobby on Scary Farm nights," reveals the hotel. Think of that as you go nighty-night upstairs, comfy on your pillow.

Photo Credit: Knott's Scary Farm]]>
<![CDATA[Volcan Valley Apple Farm: U Pick Opening]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:35:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Volcan-Valley-1.jpg

SEPTEMBER SEEMS LIKE THE START... of things, at least when it comes to autumn, and fall fans can find themselves feeling a mite impatient as the ninth month approaches. We can, of course, begin our autumnal affairs before September, but August still seems like it has both feet in summer, and sipping cider, and making caramel treats, isn't at the top of many lists. But take good heart, and find much cheer, autumnists, for that center of fall festivities, Julian, has sent out an early message of seasonal fun: Volcan Valley Apple Farm will be opening its gate to those who want their pomme perfection straight from the trees on...

FRIDAY, AUG. 25: That's a full week ahead of September's start, so, yes, autumn shall be off and running. You'll want to head just north of Julian to find the farm, which is located at 1284 Julian Orchards Drive. What should you expect? Loads of luscious appledom. There are seven varieties to choose from, including Gravenstein, Gala, Jonathans, Empire, Fuji, Pippin, and Golden Delicious. Can any of those work into the next pie you bake? Can they all work into your future fall pastry treats? The harvest'll run about 7 to 8 weeks, note, and note that admission is a buck (that's if you're over the age of 5). A U-Pick bag? It's $12 and can hold around 6 or 7 pounds. 

MORE GOOD NEWS? "The trees are yielding perfectly succulent, juicy, sweet, crisp apples this season," revealed Emily Dreiling, the manager of the orchard. Ms. Dreiling also reveals that guests should looking forward to improved parking and "...new passageways between long rows for easier access." Oh yeah. This is tempting, apple aficionados, and it means the crispest season is just making its grand entrance. Need some fall happiness? No need to wait for September: It starts at Volcan Valley on Aug. 25, 2017.

Photo Credit: a]]>
<![CDATA[The Kimpton Everly: Dapper New Hollywood Stay]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:59:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/HollywoodHillsViewRoomBlueRug.jpg

HOLLYWOOD, as an oft-portrayed concept, frequently comes with a pair of searchlights in tow, and a red carpet, and a line-up of sequined gowns and tony tuxedos, and the camera-wielding paparazzi, those photographers that gather along the red carpet's edge. But Tinseltown's many iconic attributes extend beyond its famous boulevard, and splashy premieres, to its hills and canyons, too. Those are also hallowed Hollywood hallmarks, and to know the Beachwood Canyon area, one of the city's most storied (and earliest) neighborhoods, and to be able to mediate upon those much-photographed Hollywood Hills, all while staying close to the flashbulb-lit hubbub, is a rarer treat. And a new treat has arrived in Tinseltown as of early August 2017, and its name is...

THE KIMPTON EVERLY: It's Kimpton's third hotel in the Hollywood neck o' the woods, and it boasts not only that close-to-Beachwood cachet but 360-degree views, giving guests a chance to not only commune with the hills but the structures and streets that make up the bustling district, too. The Capitol Records building? Vivacious Vine Avenue? Both very close at hand. But you may want to keep near the hotel, too, thanks to its airy, relax-a-little lobby — those ceilings are 28 feet high — as well as Jane Q and the Ever Bar, the nosh-in, sip-in choices at The Everly (think "modern California fare" for Jane Q and mondo windows for the stay-awhile Ever Bar). Yoga on the rooftop terrace, a 24-hour gym, a series of suites that boast hill-y, city-skyline-sweet views, and complimentary perks (think in-room yoga mats, a wine hour in the evening, and a warm welcome for pets) fill out The Everly's reasons-to-keep-close dance card. Call the...

216-ROOM HOTEL, which calls Argyle Avenue home, is both a part of the Hollywood swirl, and adjacent to it, too. Is that a contradiction of the most charming sort? Here's the upshot: The Everly remains slightly removed from the extreme excitement, but by just a few streets, giving guests a chance to dip into Tinseltown's nearby pleasures, the heart of the boulevard and its busy restaurants and happening scene, while also connecting with the vintage vibe of Beachwood Canyon, too. And those calming hills? They're as classic a Hollywood sight as any pair of red carpet searchlights. 

Photo Credit: Kimpton Everly]]>
<![CDATA[Elvis Presley Festival: Garden Grove Gathering]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:03:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/OCDeepFriedElvisFood.jpg

WE SING "LOVE ME TENDER," you sing "love me true." You sing "we're caught in a trap" and we sing "I can't walk out." And we both sing "you ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time." The fact is it is nearly impossible to hear the first few words of any iconic Elvis Presley ditty and not immediately hum or vocalize the following line, or, let's be honest, the next several lines, and possibly the whole song. Thank the King's enduring legacy and talent for our knowledge of the Elvis catalog, thank the fact that radio still has Elvis in impressive rotation, thank the legend's movie roles, and thank the modern-day events that bring out the gifted tribute artists who encourage people out in the crowd to sing along. Mr. Presley remains a timeless artist, a man who delivered ditties that just about everyone could and would sing, and an annual August party in Orange County regularly pays homage to the boy from Tupelo, and how he changed music, and wider pop culture, forever. That party is the...

18TH ANNUAL ELVIS FESTIVAL, and it will "thank you, thank you very much"-it-up on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove on Sunday, Aug. 27. Will a host of Elvises be out, singing, posing for photographs, and bringing sunglass-sporting, pompadour-perfect joy to the fans? You can count on it. The King of Cadillacs show will add a vintage vehicle dimension to the day, and as for the eating? Several Main Street restaurants will offer dishes that recall Mr. Presley's movie roles or songs (Louie's on Main is the place for Chicken "Love Me" Tenders, just in case you need to start planning your thematic supping now). The gathering will pay homage to the memory of the King, and the 40th anniversary of his death on Aug. 16, 1977. If you'd like to be among other mavens of the superstar, and hear some croon-worthy tunes, too, get to Garden Grove on the final Sunday in August. Admission to the festival is free.

Photo Credit: Elvis Presley Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Mono County: Gorgeous Hiking Trails]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:42:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IMG_2332monohikes.jpg

APRIL SHOWERS... may bring May flowers, but what does an especially snow-laden winter season deliver? In a word, wildflowers, and in another word, waterfalls, and in other words, a scintillating summer season of outdoors, get-into-the-woods pleasures. Maybe that lengthy sum-up isn't quite as catchy as the old-school rhyme we all know, the one about spring, but the whole winter's-heavy-snows, summer's-picturesque-waterfalls theme is accurate. This has made for some excellent trail hiking around the Eastern Sierra, even though some of the higher elevation hiking spots became "more challenging" due to the lingering snowpack. Lower down, though? Hikers have and continue to encounter a visual symphony of meadows and lakes and a landscape that looks as though it recently enjoyed a long and refreshing drink of water. But where to go, though, before autumn arrives and the areas off Highway 395 begin to attract leaf-peepers? The people behind Mono County tourism have some capital hiking ideas, like...

CONVICT LAKE, home to a "mile-long easy hike" that goes around the lake. It's a walk that includes aspens, a creek, and "...an option to continue up into Convict Canyon for more adventurous hikers." Wildflowers have been making a showy stand near June Lake and Fern and Yost Lakes, too, and the lakes are all "free of snow." And if you're near Tom's Place, there's the Lower Creek Rock Trail, which is frequented by mountain bikers and is reported to be in "great condition." Skiing at Mammoth Mountain just shuttered in early August, which means summer is fully and officially on around the area. But fall is on the near horizon, so get those higher elevation hikes in while the sun is still high and the waters are still burbling.

Photo Credit: Mono County]]>
<![CDATA[Palm Springs Tram: Solar Eclipse Viewing]]> Sun, 13 Aug 2017 10:44:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pspatio19329.jpg

AN ATTRACTION'S ELEVATION SIGNS? They tend not to change all that much, if they're posted at all. You might hike up a hill and ascend 100 feet, or dip into a canyon that's 300 feet down, but that's really the extent of the up-and-down-a-tude you'll encounter at any single destination. There are exceptions, of course, and a major one is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which boasts an elevation change of nearly 6,000 feet. That's right: Valley Station, where visitors first board the tram, sits at 2,643 feet, while Mountain Station, way up above, is located at 8,516 feet. So for those romantics who say they want to get closer to the moon and stars, well, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one route to making that dream happen. But if you simply like being high above everything, especially when something cool is developing out beyond our planet's outer bounds, and you want to brag to your pals that you were "closer" to the action, by choosing a spot at an upper elevation, consider watching the...

GREAT AMERICAN SOLAR ECLIPSE... from the viewing deck at the tram's Mountain Station. A special program is on the schedule for the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, with Allison Barnes, State Park Interpreter for Mount San Jacinto Park, at the lead. If you're among the first 50 people to show at Mountain Station, you'll be handed solar viewing glasses (approved by NASA), but you might also want to queue for the telescope that's been outfitted with a solar filter. And if you made your own nifty, straight-from-school pinhole camera? You'll want to have that in your bag before you board the tram. The eclipse is set to begin at 9 in the morning, but the first car'll go up, up, up at 8, so you'll have time to find your eclipse-cheering spot up the mountain. "What better location to watch the solar eclipse than from the place closest to the Sun... the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway!" is the charming suggestion shared by the mid-century landmark. The sun is still millions (and millions) of miles away, of course, but, at least here on earth, you'll be a pinch closer to the sky.

Photo Credit: Marc Glassman/Palm Springs Aerial Tramway]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Festival of Arts Birthday Bash]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:35:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0813_BirthdayBash+%281%29.jpg

SUMMER IN LAGUNA BEACH? You can bet some sand between the tootsies will be involved, and a bit of seafood, and a couple of fruit-laden drinks, and a languid stroll down Ocean Avenue, and some gallery pop-bys, but! A few of the majors do grab a few headlines around the area, with the Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters serving as long-running, must-see seasonal treats. Another jewel in that crown? Why it's the BFF to the hold-a-pose Pageant, the painting-and-sculpture-and-everything-filled Festival of Arts. The works-packed festival has earned its "one of the majors" crown over the last 85 years, along with the respected acknowledgement that this is one of the biggies, and that's in Laguna Beach, in Orange County, and in all of California, too. And the eye-feast, mind-growing happening will soon pay tribute to its 85th birthday, but visitors are truly the people who get the gift. And that gift is...

FREE ADMISSION... to the art show on Sunday, Aug. 13. Also? If you want to participate in an art activity, that, too, will be fee-free for the day. Make time to check out the grounds — they were recently renovated — and take a moment to chat with an artist or two. Live entertainment is promised, and as are spots for great snapshots. If you want to attend the Pageant of the Masters, which is just steps away from Festival of Arts, that's cool, but keep in mind that remains ticketed. For all the info, including the final 2017 date for the festival — spoiler alert, it's Thursday, Aug. 31 — start here.

Photo Credit: Festival of Arts]]>
<![CDATA[Big Band in the Botanic Garden]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 16:55:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/bigbandcobb_8-16_04790.jpg

AN ALOE... has never swung to "Sing Sing Sing," nor has a lantana bush danced to "Sentimental Journey" or "Pennsylvania 6-5000." As for the hits of the past that hydrangea flowers prefer? That will forever remain a mystery, one suspects, and asking a yucca or verbena to sing along to "Moonlight Serenade" is not an errand that one needs to attempt. But the plants and shrubs and blossoms and trees dotting the exquisite grounds of the San Diego Botanic Garden? Surely they lend the right setting and atmosphere, a setting that's both beautiful and alluring, to a live music presentation, one that takes the audience back several decades to some of the biggest jazz sounds of the Big Band days. The Encinitas spread, which fills out 37 handsome acres, isn't normally a place to hear concerts, unless that concert involves a breeze blowing through a plant that boasts movement that's especially musical. But shows involving instruments and talented musicians? Rather rarer, unless the date happens to be...

SUNDAY, AUG. 13, and the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame Orchestra is in the house, and by "house" we mean in the lovely outdoor setting of the garden. The band'll take on several jazzy favorites from the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and other legends of the style, and audience members will listen in as they enjoy the softening of the afternoon, and coming of evening. That's a slightly more poetical way of saying the Summer Jazz Concert happens from 5 to 7 o'clock, a nice time to be in the garden. Price? It's $25 if you're an adult and not a member, but $15 if you are (kids are a bit less). A cart serving "(l)ight (f)are" and beverages will be nearby, should you need a snack. But needing to see one of the native plants in the garden moving to the brassy sounds? Not going to happen, but they will flutter with any wind, and look lovely, and that, in itself, helps to make this Big Band show a stand-out.

Photo Credit: San Diego Botanic Garden]]>
<![CDATA[Rosie Rally 2017: Richmond Record-Breaker Ahead]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:46:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rosieriveterworldrecord.jpg

ROSIE THE RIVETER... was a beacon of strength, and hope, during World War II, but confining the iconic image's reach solely to the time period doesn't tell the full story behind the powerful poster. Generations born long after the 1940s continue to look to the thousands of real women who went to work in the factories and on the assembly lines during the war for inspiration, and to the illustration itself, which will forever represent bravery, fortitude, and can-do-a-tude, too. That illustration, though, isn't confined to posters and t-shirts and the many other places it still memorably appears; thousands of Rosie fans turn out each summer in Richmond to dress as their idol, to meet and bond, and to uphold the ideals of what Rosie the Riveter so winningly represents. And we do mean "thousands," no embellishment or exaggeration required. For the...

HOMEFRONT FESTIVAL AND ROSIE RALLY... at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park is the setting for an annual Guinness World Record attempt. It's when Rosie tributers gather for "The Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Rosie the Riveter," and the Saturday, Aug. 12 event is going to be gargantuan, as is tradition. Well, it has to be if it is to break the 2016 record (and, yes, "defend" it, too) of 2,229 Rosies appearing in one place. Own a red polka-dotted kerchief? Some denim? Are you ready to flex some muscle? Here's the information you need, Rosies. The heart-gladdening day isn't solely about the historic snapshot, though; the Homefront Festival includes the appearance of Franklin D. Roosevelt's yacht the Potomac, as well as plentiful exhibits, kidly activities, vintage vehicles like a '40s-era bus, and "an air craft cockpit display from the USS Hornet." Food truck vittles and live sounds fill out the jubilant come-together, one that honors the mighty icon and all that Rosie still so dynamically represents.

Photo Credit: Rosie the Riveter Trust]]>
<![CDATA[Flicker: Winchester Mystery House by Candlelight]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:40:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Candlelight-focus.jpg

ANY HAUNTED HOUSE MOVIE... worth its creaky staircase and loooong hallways and foreboding family portraits will have, at some point, a moment where a character carries a candle. It could be a movie set in the 1800s, or a film that takes place in modern times, but you can bet someone will place flame against wick, the better to lend flickery atmosphere to the shivery tale. But touring real-world historic homes by candlelight isn't something that's seen often nowadays, unless it is autumn, and unless what is just about the world's most famous said-to-be-ghosty abode is involved. No peeking around corners, trying to suss out which structure we're alluding to here: It's the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, that 160-room wonder of myth, legend, fact, and fancy. You say you've done the popular Flashlight Tour before? If you're craving a different way to commune with Sarah Winchester's sprawling home, consider the...

HALLOWE'EEN CANDLELIGHT TOURS, which open on Friday, Sept. 29 in 2017. The in-house walk-around, which has a guide at the lead, is all about the shadow-producing flicker. In fact, "...candlelight provides the only illumination through the bewildering maze of rooms, frozen in a state of arrested decay or still resplendent in Victorian grandeur." Eep. You won't have to "eep" all night, if the mere thought starts a quaking in your knees, for the tour will last a good-of-size, but-not-overwhelming 65 minutes. How many chances will you have, though, to sign up for such a... spirited excursion? There are 20 nights in all, stretching from the dead last days of September right through to the most ghostly night of the year, All Hallows Eve. Best be on it as fast as a flame dances in a totally lights-out room.

AS FOR THE FLASHLIGHT TOURS? They'll return next year to celebrate a pair of Friday the 13ths: Friday, April 13 and Friday, July 13, 2018.

Photo Credit: Candlelight]]>
<![CDATA[Ventana Big Sur: Fall 2017 Reopening]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 11:06:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/VentanaBigSurRoomInterior1.jpg

THERE WAS A DRAMATIC TIME, earlier in 2017, when it seemed as though "Closed" signs were being hung up and down the coast of Big Sur in a matter of days, if not hours. The reasons behind this were understandable and without quibble: Several parts of Highway 1 had been damaged by the thrummeling winter storms, making access not only challenging, but impossible, at least when it came to a handful of visitor-popular destinations. Those beyond Big Sur understood, too, how the businesses on the "island" were also dealing with this surprising and difficult development, and the locals, of course, who call the area home. Now? The under-construction Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is humming along, and, as quickly as they went up, or seemingly, the "Open" signs are going up along the fabled bit of Big Sur road. One local gem that spent several months exploring a "Re-Imagination" of its 59-rooms, its public spaces, its swanky amenities, and its beyond-the-typical programs is Ventana Big Sur. The resort, which is now under the ownership of Alila Hotels & Resorts, just announced that an autumn re-debut is ahead, and while fans will have to wait a touch longer for an official "welcome again" date, a few reveals have been made as to what guests can expect.

"REFRESHED SANCTUARIES": The property's villas, suites, and rooms have been part of the "Re-Imagination" process, and guests can decide if they'd like a private balcony or patio when they book (a lantern and walking stick is provided, should you want to roam the picturesque redwoods just beyond your space). The Social House, is the "connect and socialize" heart of the resort, so head there to relax in the Library & Music Room, or for a beverage at the Bar Room, or to play a game. The Sur House Restaurant, calling upon seafood (from the very nearby Pacific) and locally sourced meats, has Executive Chef Paul Corsentino at the top, while Spa Alila and Pools includes a pair of cabanas with redwood forest views. As for the new glamping element? Think 15 "safari-style, canvas tents spanning a 20-acre canyon," tents that boast a "plush glamping mattress" and numerous details that recall more of a luxe cabin experience than a traditional camp-out. The "Open" sign is nearly up at the famous spot, a spot that took the months of closure and made them about burnishing a beloved stay-over in multiple ways.

Photo Credit: Ventana Big Sur]]>
<![CDATA[Ye Olde Cool Fest: Big Bear Renaissance Fair]]> Sat, 05 Aug 2017 09:20:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jousting+getty.jpg

THOSE BIG BEAR BREEZES: Honestly? A proper Renaissance-era gown doesn't require heavy velvet, or several layers of crinoline, nor a ruff of the stiffest lace to look especially fancy. Nor would a proper gentleman's vest from the era, and knickers, need to be woolen or thick. But those modern revelers looking to travel back to a wayback era for a few hours often choose a course of sartorial authenticity, and their clothing reflects their commitment to realism. This is all to say that the Big Bear Rennaisance Fair, which will frolic over every weekend in August 2017, should be a mite cooler than the lands below, which are distinctly not located high atop mountains. Thus pack your velvet dress, and your wool vest, with the understanding that while Big Bear isn't experiencing anything fall- or winterlike at the moment, you may find the temperatures a bit kinder to your costuming.

HUZZAH? Huzzah to that! And further huzzahing ahead: Every weekend, starting on Saturday, Aug. 5 and Sunday, Aug. 6, boasts a theme at the Fawnskin-based festival. Fairy Frolic is up first, followed by Pirate Take Over, Royal Purple Weekend (yes, best break out your best lavender- or grape-hued get-up), and Steampunk Weekend, which draws the festivities to a close on Aug. 26 and 27. A daily adult ticket is $25, and there are weekend and season passes, too. Prepare for rollicking and such, from acts like Imperial Knights, Joust Kidding, Gallows Humor, and several other troupes. Guilds? They'll be on the grounds. Vendors? They'll be purveying in corsets, oils, wearables, and more. Best ride your steed, if he's feeling a little hot these days, too, up, up, up the mountain for this four-weekend affair from another era, one that'll feel a touch cooler than the roasty afternoons down below.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Comic Con Palm Springs: Zombie Takeover]]> Sat, 05 Aug 2017 17:30:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/zombiegetty029349239332.jpg

FOGGY HILLSIDES, and foggy dells, and fog-filled valleys, and fog-laden estates, the kind of scary spreads anchored by creaky old haunted houses? These are the fog-tastic sorts of locations, at least according to popular culture, where the unsuspecting living can expect to receive a startling visitation from those who are no longer among the living. Movies almost never show a shambling undeader at the beach, on a blissfully balmy day, under the full rays of the sun. (Side conversation topic: Do the undead sweat?)

FOR IT IS ALWAYS FOG, FOG, FOG, and more fog, when it comes to tales of not-living souls, making the upcoming zombieful, highly groany gathering at Comic Con Palm Springs something of a spooky stand-out. Because fog and Palm Springs? Almost completely generally never happening, ever, but you can expect a powerful amount of intense sunshine near the end of any given August. That's when the three-day movies, cosplay, and everything pop convention is set to take place in 2017, right when the heat is at its most heated. The upcoming dates run from... 

FRIDAY, AUG. 25 THROUGH SUNDAY, AUG. 27, in fact, and while all sorts of entertainment-related doings will go down, fans of zombiedom should know that the weekend will rock a beyond-the-veil vibe. A Zombie Walk through Palm Springs kicks it all off — or shambles it all off, rather — on Friday, Aug. 25, and while there's no cost to participate, you'll want to pre-register. An after-party at the Hard Rock Hotel will be mighty zombie-licious, as will Zombie Maze Room at the Renaissance Hotel. And a Zombie Café at the Renaissance Hotel will keep your belly full and your moaning/groaning abilities in tip-top shape, as sustenance is important when you're out undeading around. But how will you zombie without the all-important fog to envelop you as you lurch about the gorgeous desert resort city? Consider your Palm Springs shamble-thon a (literally) bright new chapter in your undead-related pursuits.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Borrego Days Desert Festival: Roaring This Way]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:45:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Paradeborrego1212.jpg

THE SAME STARS OVER BORREGO SPRINGS... are the same stars found twinkling above other towns and cities in the region, but golly: They just seem to up the wattage when you're in the small, art-happy, big-sky'd burg. It is, after all, an official International Dark Sky Community, and finding astronomy fans outside after sundown, some with telescopes, some with binoculars, all with a hefty dose of wonder, isn't uncommon. But the daytime action in Borrego Springs is notable, too. Consider the Borrego Days Desert Festival, which happens each year in autumn, and puts a lot of what's so cool about the warm-of-temperature, warm-of-heart town on full and funky display. The free festival, which celebrates its 52nd year in 2017, will roll on Saturday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 22, and you can count on a parade brimming with some 70 groups and/or highlights, including equestrian teams, vintage automobiles, flashy new cars, music-fun bands, and, you betcha,

OH-SO-CLASSIC PARADE FLOATS: You're feeling this old-time, clap-as-groups-go-by vibe, yes? It rocks. Also rocking, though, the long-running fest this year: A birthday for Christmas Circle, the central roundabout that everyone who visits Borrego Springs is likely to drive around once (or, let's be honest, multiple times). Dozens of artist and vendors will have set up their wares and booths post-parade, so make time to swing by the circle to shop, visit, and see it all. As for those pre-parade planes? You can bet there'll be an excitement-building flyover, with 20 vintage air crafts expected to participate. It's still warm in Borrego Springs, even just ahead of Halloween, but those nights are cooling down. Pack for both, because, as mentioned, you'll be outside in the day for the festival fun, but, come sundown? It's time to commune with the stars, which seem closer to this city than just about any other city around.

Photo Credit: Borrego Days Desert Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Wind Garden: New Tree + Breeze Symphony]]> Sun, 06 Aug 2017 17:05:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TheWindGarden_Erik_Jepsen4.jpg

RUSTLE, CLICK, WHOOSH: A walk in nature isn't just about the dappled sunshine or the woodsy crunch underfoot or the scurrying critters you might encounter along your path. You're also sensing the breeze, both as it blows by you, and as it causes the things in your periphery, and up ahead, to move, too. Very often those moving objects are trees, and the branches and twigs and leaves will create a quiet forest symphony of rustle, click, whoosh. Composer John Luther Adams is someone who has connected with the arboreal mysteries of wind and sound, and he's created a fresh space, in a long-standing eucalyptus grove, that's dedicated to the music of breeze and branch. It's The Wind Garden, the 19th public art addition to the Stuart Collection at the University of California San Diego, and it will enjoy its opening public reception on...

MONDAY, AUG. 7... from 1 to 3 in the afternoon. Visitors to the pretty natural space, which is located at the La Jolla-based campus, can expect "... a leafed choir (that) sings in response to subtle shifts in light, winds, and seasons." So toasty August? It will be different from the start of February, when days grow damper and visits to The Wind Garden may produce a sparer, more haunting feel. It's a feel that's helped by the motion and light sensors installed in the trees above visitors' heads, sensors that "...translate varying forces of wind and changing light patterns into sound instantaneously by sophisticated software." Helping to gently but stirringly broadcast what the sensors are reading? Speakers above, in the trees' canopy, and sub-woofers closer to the earth. Of interesting note? "No sounds are pre-recorded," meaning you'll be savoring the full-on live feed. It's a...

A BEAUTIFUL AND GENTLE CALL... to awareness, and mindfulness, as well as treeness and wind-a-tude. However you define "treeness" and "wind-a-tude," whether you define those terms as getting close to nature and staying aware, or simply understanding how breeze and tree can make music, best do your contemplating while standing within the new Wind Garden. How to best breeze on into the university's spectacular Stuart Collection? Start here.

Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications]]>
<![CDATA[Huge Harvest Festival: 2017 Dates]]> Tue, 01 Aug 2017 09:45:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/HarvestFestival123.jpg

AUTUMN'S COZY COMPLEMENTS? They can spice up a room, literally, and add a certain domestic-sweet touch to any home. From apple-y scents to sweet pumpkin candles to all manner of baked breads, the traditional season of simple pursuits, from reading while burrito'd in a soft blanket to sitting down to an hour of crafting, appeals. And while craft-oriented, art-fun fairs thrive throughout the year, there's nothing that's quite the equivalent of the major, traveling-here-and-there Harvest Festival. This isn't a harvest festival, as in a place to buy a real, patch-grown pumpkin, but rather a crafts, arts, foods, and more affair that travels throughout California and into Las Vegas, too. A lot of the event is about helping attendees prepare for the holidays, whether that involves the buying of gifts or purchasing a host of snacky edibles to have around the house for drop-in visitors. But much of the Harvest Festival, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2017, is all about autumnal details and delights.

THE 2017 SCHEDULE IS UP, with Las Vegas serving as the first stop (from Sept. 8 through 10) and Pomona rounding it out from Dec. 1 through 3. Ventura, Del Mar, Pleasanton, San Mateo, Sacramento, and San Jose are the other cities that will host the festival, which includes "over 24,000 handmade American arts and crafts." Clothing, jewelry, toys, and other goods lovingly made are on display and for sale, and the chance to chat with the person who created the earrings or painting you love is pretty high (they're quite often in the booth). If you're feeling fall, even before its arrival, know that one of the biggest craft-cool bashes on this coast is on the way, to, fingers crossed, a spot pretty close to you.

Photo Credit: Harvest Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Highway 1 Discovery Route: Beach Bliss]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:11:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cayucos_Daane_Family_7193.jpg

IF YOU DID A LOT OF STATION-WAGONING, with your parents, back when you were just a tot, you probably engaged in Car Bingo and Name the Tree and Sing a Song Backwards and other games that kept you actively gazing out the window. But the grown-ups in the wagon had other matters on their mind, specifically delivering everyone in the car to their destination in a safe and timely manner. Still, other important issues mattered to the adult at the wheel, like places to stretch a leg and let off a little energy. Eyes were kept peeled in the front seat, and if a beautiful beach came along, you can bet that everyone was shooed out of the backseat in a jiffy. Flash forward to our own adulthoods, and modern-day car trips, and the need to burn off some energy and walk around a bit. We don't pull over nearly as often as we should on a road trip, but there are particularly amazing ribbons of asphalt that make the act of pull-over-ing a piece of cake. Think of the...

HIGHWAY 1 DISCOVERY ROUTE, which wends along and keeps mighty close to the Pacific Ocean. Anyone doing Hearst Castle, or Piedras Blancas to admire the elephant seals, knows the value of stopping and soaking in some sun on the sand. But you can stay longer, of course, then a few minutes at a quintet of terrific beachy spots along the route, from Ragged Point to the north, to San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, and Los Osos/Baywood Park all filling out the beachy-blissful destinations. Each has their own delightful draw — Ragged Point Beach boasts a "black sandy beach" while recently refurbished Cayuco Pier has that historic vibe — so prepare to love upon each beach's own quirks, pluses, and all-out delights. Do note the Highway 1 construction, due the slide at Mud Creek, a little north of Ragged Point, and check with Caltrans before setting off (always a solid idea). Are you road-tripping along some of Highway 1 Discovery Route this summer? Find your pull-over beach spots, and, yes, your stay-a-good-while spots, too.

Photo Credit: Highway One Discovery Route]]>
<![CDATA[Big Bear Cycling Festival: Mountain Zoom]]> Sat, 29 Jul 2017 07:16:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/196*120/bicycles_generic_cycle.jpg

PINES, LAKE, SUN, FRESH AIR: When you're participating in a ride, you want everything to happily hum, from your well-aired wheels to your pedals to your gears to how the seat feels to the thousand other small, but ultimately not so tiny, details that fit like puzzle pieces into the ideal spin. But you're also hoping, as you roll at high velocity, that some of the stuff you're positively whizzing by will add to the experience. True, your eyes are ahead, but it is fair to say that a cyclist knows when he's pedaling by a skyscraper vs. rolling by a grove of fir trees. If tall trees invigorate your ride, and sparkly lake water, and charming mountain towns, best check your gears and find your lucky helmet, for the...

BIG BEAR CYCLING FESTIVAL... will be on the roads and feeling the wind over the first week in August 2017. There's a Community Road Ride and a Community Mountain Bike Ride, if you get to the San Bernardino Mountains hamlet early, as in the last weekend of July. On Monday? A pair of Tour de Big Bear "Altitude Acclimation Rides" will go down, er, up, rather, and all around, while Tuesday, Aug. 1 and Wednesday, Aug. 2 bring a variety of spoke-tastic happenings, including Cyclefest, an event for kids. A concert, a cycling expo, a poker ride, and lots more goings-on follow, including a ride clinic, while Tour de Big Bear takes to the pretty roads of the area on Saturday, Aug. 5. And on the 6th? It's the Recovery Ride, of course, to wind it all down.

EYE EVERYTHING... on the schedule before heading up to the village to get your bikely bearings, and decide what you'd like to join and what you'd like to cheer on. And, of course, prepare to soak in some of that high-elevation-y summer beauty, something Big Bear embraces so easily when July shakes the hand of August.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Omni La Costa: Limited-Time Deal]]> Sun, 30 Jul 2017 09:26:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Omni-Sunrise2-07-12-15.jpg

DREAMING OF A SPLASHY SUMMER WEEKEND... spent at a pool-pretty, spa-super, golf-ready resort? Such daydreams are something of a classic winter-to-springtime tradition, if you've planned your trip months in advance and are counting the days before you can finally pack your suitcase. But travelers are permitted to enjoy daydreams in the warmest season, too, about fall hotels, and dips in the pool on sunshiny autumn afternoons, and getaways that happen after summer leaves but before the holidays fully rev up. In short? Fall hotel specials flower quite frequently, too, and there's no between-season-ing about them, though the discounts and deals of fall can have an attractive air of between-season-ing for those guests hoping to have fun but still save ahead of the holidays. 

OMNI LA COSTA RESORT & SPA... understands the traveler's longing to A) daydream in summer about fall weekends away and B) find a deal to make that getaway a possibility. So, for a limited time, there is a chance to book a room between Aug. 31, 2017 and the very last day of the year — hello, New Year's Eve — and save 30% on the cost. Is this a select-date kind of thing? It is, as the big window of savings might imply, so check and see if your dream dates are covered. There are eight pools at the Omni La Costa, and fire pits to unwind by, and golfing opportunities, and spa-relaxing opportunities, and restaurants like Bob's Steak & Chop House and Bistro 65 should you want your resort days to be full (though, of course, not too full).

THE MOST IMPORTANT DATE... at the moment, though? Your book-it-quick deadline. That's Tuesday, Aug. 15, so pull out your calendar, consult your co-adventurer, and jumpstart your autumn daydreams at once.

Photo Credit: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Oxnard Beaches: Picnics, Surfing, Kayaks]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 17:35:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oxCA371.jpg

WHICH IS THE GREATER NUMBER? The number of grains of sand on the beaches of California or the number of times you think to yourself, on an especially thermal-tastic, can't-get-cool July day, "well, can it get any hotter?" This isn't a trick question: It's the sand, though you may feel as if you think that particularly can't-stop-sweating thought about a trillion times over the course of a heat-wave-y afternoon. There are de-swelter solutions, from finding a city pool, or a movie theater, or a friend's cool garden, to making for all of those aforementioned grains of sand (well, not all of them, of course, but a goodly amount). And while many an ocean-close stretch can claim come quintessential beach-style action, Oxnard, for a lot of SoCalers, and Central Coasters, too, isn't all that far. The Oxnard-area beaches also offer an array of de-stress to-dos, from simply plunking down under a large hat, with a juicy novel, to finding some kayak and surfing opportunities. If you'll be Oxnarding it over the coming weeks, which may, if August and September traditions hold fast, be even fiercer in the heat department, best find your sandy bit of bliss soon. There's...

SILVER STRAND BEACH, which rocks some fishing action, as well as kayaking, while Hollywood Beach, with its Tinseltown-history cred (stars regularly visited this hideaway decades ago) has a whole "huge, sandy expanse" vibe (and an "uncrowded" vibe, too). Ormond Beach is known among bird buffs, especially those hoping to catch a sighting of the Western Snowy Plover, while Oxnard Beach Park boasts pathways and picnic tables. To find your match, eye all of the foam-churny spots along this part of the coast, and plot your course to A) cooling down and B) participating in that classic California hot-day'd delight, a day at the beach.

Photo Credit: Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau]]>