<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Worth the Trip]]>Copyright 2016http://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-usTue, 27 Sep 2016 20:32:33 -0700Tue, 27 Sep 2016 20:32:33 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bright Bites: Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:16:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/3043_NBWFF_D1A_2187crpencilboxphotodotcom.jpg

THE OL' TROPE... involving "two kinds of people in this world" will never in any shape, form, or flavor apply to the world of foodiedom, for those who approach artwork edibles do so in countless individual ways. There's the person who has to research the menu online before visiting a new restaurant, while another adventurer might choose to wing it upon arrival (or always pick the first dish on the list, just to stay consistent). And while some food lovers vow to visit eateries touted in top publications over time, others like to complete their cuisine-based education in one fell, weekend-long swoop. Such a swoop is headed for Newport Beach over the close of September and beginning of October, when the chef-packed, bites-packed, demo-packed Wine and Food Festival returns to offer tantalizing tastes to snack-arounders who are ready to get down to the business of eating very well. The 2016 dates are just ahead, so make for the breezy ocean-adjacent burg from...

THURSDAY, SEPT. 29-SUNDAY, OCT. 2: Prepare for several gourmet grand happenings, days full of "living cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, book signings, master sommelier panels..." and a host of other built-around-the-plate (-and-glass) goings-on. Rick Bayless, Nancy Silverton, Rick Moonen, and a caboodle of toque-wearing artists'll be chatting up fans, talking trends, making meals, and doing all the things foodies travel to festivals to see. For while we can visit an eatery wherever we live on any day of the week, having the spotlight cast upon top cuisine over several days in several ways is a rarer thing, but an occasion that does pop up, poshly, now and then. Newport Beach is next up, and cuisinaires'll be there to enjoy, and we don't even need to trot out the stale "two kinds of people" chestnut. Food fans like seeing chefs in person and eating beautifully made bites, and there's no further trite categorizing that needs to be done.

Photo Credit: Pencil Box Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Craft Celebration at The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:19:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/torreycraft19382932.jpg

WHILE THE HOLIDAYS... tend to have definite dates, from Thanksgiving landing upon the fourth Thursday in November to the mid-February showing of Valentine's Day, the start of the holidays are a little looser, in general. Easter festivities might kick off around the time the first flower buds pop up, while the end-of-the-year observances have a way of entering just as Halloween ends. But there's a way, just ahead of the holiday kick-off, to enjoy an array of elegant edibles that aren't about the traditional recipes of the close of the year, but rather local and sustainable foodstuffs. It's...

CELEBRATE THE CRAFT, and it happens mere hours before the final two months of the year move to high gear, a time when every food event seemingly has a connection to the season at hand. But the La Jolla event, which is at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, spotlights excellent local chefs, thoughtful preparation, and the mission of the Slow Food Movement, a movement all food mavens might keep in mind during the hectic holidays to come.

SUNDAY, OCT. 30... is the 14th outing for this culinary adventure, and, once again, the pretty, ocean-close Arroyo Terrace of the historic hotel will set the scene. Slow Food Urban San Diego is the beneficiary (a portion of the proceeds will go to the group) and attendees are the sated winners of the day, thanks to the plentiful "food tastings, wine, craft beer, and complimentary valet parking." A ticket to the daytime to-do? It's $135, and tax and tip are included. If you want to stay over at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, there's a package kicking off at $449. The holidays, and all of those over-the-top eating opportunities, are just ahead, so ponder pausing for a moment for a Slow Food moment, one that spotlights not the bigness of eating but rather the curated localness of the pursuit. 

Photo Credit: The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]>
<![CDATA[Scenic Bash: Catalina Film Festival]]> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:47:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PurpleHarborSunrisecatalina2983282432-horz.jpg

OCEAN + MOTION PICTURES: No one needs to be told that filmmakers are rather fond of the great bodies of water, specifically oceans, specifically the sorts of oceans that make for amazing opening and/or closing shots (the kind of shots where the audience feels as though they're zooming just over the waves, like a gull might). But actually viewing a film on an island is something that happens far less than seeing an island or the ocean on screen, and getting to do so at a starry and celebrated film festival is even rarer. That all changes every autumn, however, when actors and directors and fans hop a boat or copter and make for Avalon, the hub of the annual Catalina Film Festival. Running for five film-lush days, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, the festival will hail bright lights, dig into documentaries, throw a few parties, host a few talks, and enjoy a bouquet of features. Some of those features will unspool in one of the Golden State's grandest cinemas, the Art-Deco'd delight that is the...

AVALON THEATRE: "Beneficiary" will have its world premiere there, while other spots around Avalon, from Metropole Hall to Lancer Auditorium, will also host cineawesome doings. Eye all the 2016 picks, from shorts to animation, and plan your movie-watching, ocean-viewing getaway accordingly. And since you can't quite decide one afternoon to drive over to the local theater to join the festival fun, you'll need to plan in advance, especially if you want to bed down in an Avalon inn. For all the films, including "Sheep and Wolves" and "Desert," click. As always, the Catalina Film Institute will pay tribute to the memory of a longtime festival friend Wes Craven through a series of scary flicks.

Photo Credit: Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce/Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Big Bear Bevs: Fall Village Wine Walk]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:02:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/winetasting7.jpg

THE SOUNDS OF AUTUMN... are fairly memorable, especially near the beginning of the season when our ears are on the lookout, or rather hearout, for signs of fall. The biggest, perhaps, is the rustling of leaves, either up in a cottonwood or aspen tree (two of the "clickiest" of specimens, sound-wise) followed by tiny candy bars plunking into the bottom of a plastic pumpkin (and, truly, that only happens on one particular night of the fall). Let us add, though, to the aural autumn pleasures the particular pop of a cork and the clink-clink of glasses raised in celebration. The enjoyment of wine isn't solely an autumnal pursuit, but vinos can backseat it to brews and tropical cocktails during the summer. Winter has its toddies, but the chill of autumn's air means cabernets, merlots, and, yes, chardonnays, too. Enjoy those, plus the first Saturday of the season, at one of the most convivial to-dos on the Big Bear Lake calendar. It's... 

THE VILLAGE FALL WINE WALK, and it will spread out, in relaxed fashion, from the mid-afternoon to early evening on Saturday, Sept. 24. Be up the mountain, then, from 3:30 to 7 p.m., to savor "fine wines from around the world." You'll visit different business for your beverages, all the while raising funds for local education and regional community to-dos. Your ticket is $35 through Sept. 12, and then $45. Should you find a place to stay up the big hill? Definitely. Think how crisp those mountain mornings are in late September, when the merest rustle of a few aspen leaves can set you in a seasonally sweet state of mind.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Festival of Lights: Early Bird Package]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:17:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/missioninnspecial2015.jpg

THE FA, LA, LAS... aren't yet filling the air — we're still waiting on spooky spine-tingling sound effects — and the tinsel isn't shining from the store aisles (that's reserved for plastic pumpkins and bats, at the moment). But many a holiday-loving vacationer is turning at least partial attention to the close of the year, when the biggest spectacles and extravaganzas unfurl at some of California's best-known spots. One is that castle-stout structure, the one standing tall in the middle of Riverside, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, a place that has a lot of pomp throughout the year but really does it up, pomp-wise, when the Friday after Thanksgiving arrives. That's when the...

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS... opens, and if you're trying to remember if that's where like a zillion lights cover a single hotel, well, you're almost entirely correct. True, it isn't a "zillion" but the number of bulbs twinkling around The Mission Inn is impressively massive: "over 4 million dazzling holiday lights" is the count given by the historic destination. This means a lot of people want to see them, and a lot of people want to stay over, the better to enjoy the illumination later in the evening. If this is just your plan, best ponder booking soon, for the Festival of Lights...

EARLY BIRD PACKAGE... is now available. You'll need to plan your visit on a Sunday through Thursday during the lights run, which lasts from Nov. 27, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017, and you'll need to reserve by Sept. 30. It all starts at $278 for your deluxe room and breakfast for two. Eager to see if you can count every bulb, up to 4,000,000? Best get early-birding now, yuletiders.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Ocean-Close Yoga at Terranea Resort]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:05:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TerraneaResortSeasideYogaGathering.jpg

NATIONAL YOGA MONTH... has a number of different levels and prisms to it, much like the practice itself. A longtime devotee may vow to perfect a new pose, or at least give it another go, while someone who is new to downward dog may be inclined to try it out for the very first time, thanks to specials popping up at various studios come September. But the month isn't simply about one's own relationship with yoga (though of course that's central). It's about connecting with others who love it, in places that can inspire and bring quiet, reflective repose. Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes is such a place, with its expansive ocean views, and it pauses each year to host a yoga event that attracts around 300 practitioners, people looking for some satisfying stretches, some perfect Pacific breezes, and a way to bid the bustling world adieu for a few hours. It's...

THE SEASIDE YOGA GATHERING, and it takes place upon the 16,000-foot Palos Verdes Meadow (so everyone has a bit of elbow room). There's a Wellness Fair ahead of the Sunday, Oct. 2 to-do, and a chance to savor some "light bites and refreshments." Then at 4:30 p.m., just as the sun starts to say its farewells and deliver that ocean-y afternoon glow, the complimentary class will take its first pose. Ah yes, the class is gratis, so let that wash over you like a straight-off-the-waves breeze. 

TERRANEA RESORT... also has a different Sunday-focused happening afoot, one that expands beyond the first Sunday in October. It's Sunday Funday, and it includes "(f)ood and beverage vouchers to redeem throughout the resort's participating restaurants." (Think a "sunset cocktail" and "poolside snack" and such.) This summery offering is going well beyond the summer season, and heading straight past the middle of December. Details? Get your Sunday Funday information here, end-of-the-weekend-loving revelers.

Photo Credit: Terranea Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Howl-O-Ween at Great Wolf Lodge]]> Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:43:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/howloween-greatwolf.jpg

WHILE HOTELS STAY OPEN... on Halloween, it isn't too likely you'll find much evidence of the haunted holiday within their walls. You mind find a candy bucket sitting on the front desk, or a pumpkin near the elevators, but, overall, the inn isn't going to go all out on the bats-and-cats decorating front. But, of course, Great Wolf Lodge doesn't offer up the standard hotel experience. The family-oriented, Wisconsin-started stay-over spots are all about out-sized child-fun experiences, from the huge waterparks that are synonymous with the company to the around-the-hotel activities catering to the kids on the property. This celebratory spirit naturally extends to the spookiest stretch of the year, and California's only Great Wolf Lodge, in Orange County, will go all out on the frightfully delightful front. "Go all out" means that Halloween is actually and technically known as...

HOWL-O-WEEN... 'round Great Wolf Lodge, and unlike the holiday itself, which is restricted to Oct. 31, Howl-O-Ween will last throughout the month. That means if you're at the Garden Grove hotel from Oct. 1 through 31, 2016, you may see a costume parade in the Grand Lobby (happening each and every night during October) or hear a Spooktacular tale during the evening Story Time event. A Trick-or-Treat Trail is also part of the proceedings, as are the Monster Bash Dance Parties, a weekend feature of the festivities. Nothing is too ghoulish or intense, meaning that if you have lil' Halloween buffs, this'll be more in line with what they love about the holiday. To make sure you land at the lodge during the events you and your family have an eye on, visit the main Howl-O-Ween page or call the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove for all the details.

Photo Credit: Great Wolf Lodge]]>
<![CDATA[Kokanee Salmon Festival at South Lake Tahoe]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2016 08:20:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KokaneeSalmon2.jpg

THE SYMBOLS OF AUTUMN... are as plentiful as leaves on an oak tree. You have your pumpkins, and their carved-cool cousins, the jack o'lanterns, and you have a variety of bats and cats and spiders, too. You have the candy corn, and a golden leaf, and pencils, which remind us that school has just begun. And, right around Lake Tahoe, specifically at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, you have the Kokanee salmon. The silvery red fish is a local sight come early October, and it shows up in great profusion as the finned wonders make their annual run. "Great profusion" are truly the keywords here, for Taylor Creek is wall-to-wall, or rather bank-to-bank, with salmon, a sight that's solely tied to autumn, and specifically October. You can try and time your visit to when the salmon'll be at their spawn-centered busiest — a call to the center might give you some general dates, though early October is a fine bet — or you can simply put the Fall Fish Fest on your annual calendar. The 2016 festival is timed to the salmon run, as is tradition, and the upcoming dates are...

SATURDAY, OCT. 1 AND SUNDAY, OCT. 2: Beyond the show seen in the lake-connecting creek, get ready for a caboodle of nature-sweet happening at the festival, from kidly activities (including the walk-through inflatable fish) to tacos and ice cream. There are some pretty trail runs happening, too, if participating in an invigorating trot is one of your must-dos near the big lake. Above all, admiring this yearly migration is what it is all about, and learning how the Kokanee first arrived at Lake Tahoe, and all of the to-knows about this beautiful aquatic lake dweller. Ready to see a sight not many people experience? It's bucket-list-y, for sure. Watch the mondo fish run, and enjoy a weekend-long salmon-tacular, just a pop north of South Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credit: South Tahoe]]>
<![CDATA[Bernardus Lodge: 14 New Villas & Suites]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2016 06:50:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bernardusRoom65.jpg

SOMETHING SPECIAL: Treating your nearest/dearest to a surprise weekend away for an anniversary or birthday or a just-because-ery takes some crafty planning, the ability to not spill the beans at inopportune moments, and a sparkly sense of the splurge. If you're going to do it up, you want to do it up on the fancy side, but if your flavor of fancy is more about a rustic setting, rather than city lights, look to a batch of new villas and suites in Carmel Valley.

THE 14 FRESH ADDITIONS... to Bernardus Lodge & Spa were unofficially unveiled in the early part of August 2016, following a renovation of the hotel's rooms and public spaces in 2015. This is property that rambles over 28 acres, acres that encompass wine-nice vines, fragrant lavender, and the sort tawny, hill-rolling loveliness the region is famous for. So to walk your sweetheart up to a "ranch-chic" suite in this singular setting could be accurately considered highly birthday-worthy.

THE OUT-IN-THE-CALIFORNIA-COUNTRY FEEL... of the roomy spaces include "alfresco fire pits" and "master baths featuring hammered copper free-standing soaking tubs" and heated floors, as well as views of the Santa Lucia Mountains (mountains that are often lit by the quintessential golden light that seems to belong solely to this particular valley). And while those design and detail touches qualify in anyone's book as tony, there are some truly tony touches on top of the room's stylish appointments. Those extra-mile details include...

BUTLER SERVICES... during your villa or suite stay, as well as use of a Mercedes Benz convertible (that's gratis, with no fee on top). Is there a private rain shower outside, the better to soak up some of that soft Carmel-y sunshine while you bath? There shall be. If you need anything for your room, or suggestions on sightseeing, or a dinner reservation, will that be difficult to obtain? The staff-to-guest ratio is an impressive 3-to-1. To get started on your sweetheart's surprise weekend, and to snag a peek at these pretty new spots dotting the property, begin here, luxe-minded road-trippers.

Photo Credit: Bernardus Lodge]]>
<![CDATA[Oktoberfest at the Madonna Inn]]> Fri, 16 Sep 2016 06:57:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mioktoberfest1.jpg

WHILE A NUMBER OF PLACES... can hang bunting and flowers and posters that summon the spirit of Oktoberfest, only a few spots in California can claim an Oktoberfest-y feel all year long. Lake Arrowhead has such a vibe, and several spots in Lake Tahoe, and Old World in Huntington Beach keeps the oompah spirit regardless of the season. And while the Madonna Inn doesn't boast a strictly Bavarian design theme, it does possess carved wooden details and outlandishly festooned public spaces. In short? The San Luis Obispo hotel always feels as though singing might start up, or dancing, or the sipping of celebratory beverages, at any moment. With all of this in mind, it might not surprise any mavens of the Madonna Inn that the 101-close landmark pauses each autumn to raise a stein in the direction of Oktoberfest, and it does so with the help of a regional brew. That would be...

FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING COMPANY: The Paso Robles-headquartered brew house powerhouse will serve as the suds of the season-festive soiree, a soiree that will take place in the Madonna Inn Expo Center on Saturday, Oct. 1. Best be 21 or over if you wish to attend, and purchase a ticket sooner than later, if you wish (as this tends to get mighty sold-out as the day draws near). Awaiting you is "a unique German-style meal," "a commemorative Oktoberfest stein," two Firestone brews, music, and more. And, of course, all of those themed hotel rooms are right there, so best consider bedding down for the night after an evening spent rocking the lederhosen (you'll need to book your room separately). Will you choose to eat breakfast at the darling Copper Café the following morning? The restaurant's woodsy nooks and quaint crannies feel Oktoberfestian all year long, so ponder some eggs Benedict before bidding SLO auf wiedersehen.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Hollywood Dine Around: Tasty Tinseltown Package]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 06:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0797_Cleo_GroupUnderStairs.jpg

TINSELTOWN, it might be accurately and obviously stated, can prove a mite overwhelming, especially when it comes to the highly effervescent nightlife scene. A friend recommends one tony tavern, while another friend loves this other eatery, the one with the queue out front, that one café popping up in friends' photos over and over again. How, though, to take in a swath of the scene over the course of a single evening, the better to soak up some of the glitter and goings-on while getting a sense of what's au courant? Look to the Hollywood Dine Around, a September-long package that is built around an evening of trying out a few top-tier destinations, much like a progressive dinner, with, wait for it, both the gratuity and tax included (a rare thing, for sure). It's the...

HOLLYWOOD DINE AROUND, and it includes pop-bys at Katsuya Hollywood, Cleo, and possibly The Library (the very spots you're seeing in your friends' photos, perhaps). The night starts at Katsuya Hollywood, for appetizers, then makes its way over to Cleo for a lovely supper and a sweet to follow. There shall be a libation at The Library, the better to conclude the night, a night that should fall on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (all grand evenings to spend in Hollywood, which can definitely bustle hard come the weekend). Cost? It's $79 dollars. And as for the "Cleo, and possibly The Library" bit mentioned before? Your final visit of the night, for your cocktail, will be at one or the other, adding some scintillating suspense to the posh proceedings. It's a not-too-pricey way to brush up on Hollywood's evening-fun spots, and the deal is on through the close of September 2016. Details? Over here, Tinsel-on-the-towners.

Photo Credit: Hollywood Dine Around]]>
<![CDATA[Big Bear Autumn: Flashlight Safaris]]> Wed, 14 Sep 2016 19:40:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+flashlight+generic+shutterstock_12868789.jpg

STEP OUTSIDE... your Big Bear cabin on an October evening and you might experience a few things from the get-go. You'll likely detect a certain crispness in the air, and whether that inspires you to pull your scarf closer or not depends on just how cool it feels. You'll likely see some amazing stars, the kind that can't be detected in the brighter cities down the mountain. And you may, in the distance, beyond those Ponderosa pines over there, hear a critter or two scurrying off. The San Bernardino Mountains are home to a host of fascinating beasties, from black bears to grey foxes to hedgehogs and owls. Many of these furry, hooting, big-of-beak, rustling-among-the-leaves mountain residents also call the Big Bear Alpine Zoo home. And while the higher elevation animal park, which puts a focus on regional beasties, is open throughout the year, something rather special happens during the first full month of fall: nighttime tours. They're called...

FLASHLIGHT SAFARIS... and they happen each Friday and Saturday evening throughout October. Arrive with your light in tow and prepare to see the nocturnal doings of several of the zoo's animals as you get to know "the more active side of our animals during twilight and dusk." True, some zoos do host after-sundown events, but those can include bands or a dinner. The Flashlight Safaris are very much built around the nocturnal doings of the local critters. They're popular — the safaris and the critters alike — so consider choosing your date ahead of time. And ponder how the next time you step outside at night, in the mountains, and hear a hoot-hoot, you'll possess a deeper understanding of how mountain beasties comport themselves by the glow of the moon. 

Photo Credit: Murat Baysan, Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Queen Mary's Haunted Encounters]]> Sun, 18 Sep 2016 13:44:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hauntedencountersqm12345.jpg

ASK A HALLOWEEN BUFF... how he is feeling just after Labor Day Weekend and you may be on the receiving end of a plaintive sigh. On the one hand all of the spooky stuff is juuuust about to rev up, from theme park mazes to neighborhood haunted houses to costume parties. And yet? Everything is still a week or more away, with October really jumpstarting the startle-based bashes. There's a way, though, in LA to find your gentle frights, or at least your ghosty go-outs at any time of the year, regardless of whether candy corn and plastic pumpkin buckets are lining the store shelves or not. It's at...

THE QUEEN MARY, one of California's phantomiest destinations, a place way, way up on oodles of "said to be haunted" lists. This translates into tours, both of the daytime assortment and the wraith-seeking after-sundown strolls. History of the labyrinth-like ship is discussed, and possible sightings, too, and choosing which to go with all depends upon how you like to take your goosebump-inducing ghost tours.

THE DAYTIME OFFERING, Haunted Encounters, is an atmospheric, eerie-but-not-too place to start. It happens four times each day, with the last tour starting at 6:30 p.m. (one of the prettiest times on the stack-topped landmark, what with twilight settling in and all). Will you discuss the rumored portal to another dimension near the First Class Swimming Pool? The spirit said to frequent the boiler area? The guests who never left their wood-lined sumptuous suites? The Queen Mary, with its 1001 Atlantic crossings and its role in World War II, has more than a few stories to tell. There are different ways to connect with the ship in this capacity, however, including nighttime treats like the Paranormal Spirit Walk and other spine-chilling happenings.

TO GET A JUMP... on the spookiest season, or to simply call upon the ship's eternal occupants at any time of the year, board the famous ocean-liner's Haunted Encounters experience, if you dare. (We're assuming you do.) (A wise choice, if ghost walks and famous destinations are two of your favorite things.) (No more parentheticals: Buy your passage here.)

Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>
<![CDATA[Hollywood Roosevelt: Movie-Cool Cocktails]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2016 13:46:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/publicrooseveltoldhollywoodcocktail.jpg

LIBATIONS AND LORE: While there may or may not be a portal to the Hollywood of the 1940s somewhere near the Hollywood Sign, and you may or may not need to locate it on a moonlit night, you can always make contact with the Tinseltown of the past at a certain inn located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard. It's an auspicious and notable address, in a town that does love its luck — see the "7" — and it's where the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel stands, and has stood, for nearly a century. This was the first home of the Academy Awards, and so many stars from the movie industry's Golden Age called it home, sometimes for months on end, that their names could nearly fill a sidewalk full of stars. In short? This is the portal to pure Hollywoodism, in style, cachet, and the occasional sip. Look to Public Kitchen & Bar, one of the property's on-site restaurants, and look to the recently debuted cocktail menu, which includes some drinks that pay homage to the twinkly titans of yore. Like...

THE LUMIÈRE, which recalls the visionary duo who coaxed the art of film into being at its very dawn. That sip includes Plymouth gin, green Chartreuse, Carpano Antica, and a dash of Regan's Bitters. If you know your comedy you know everything Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz have made, and you likely know that they once called the Hollywood Roosevelt their address for a bit. The Desi is a minty cocktail that boasts Cazadores Reposado, Crème de Cassis, cucumbers, lime, and simply syrup. As for the Pearamount Pictures? You got it, a pear liqueur is at its fruit-forward heart, along with Grey Goose La Poire and other tasty ingredients. For the full menu roster, get your most fabulous, Hollywood-esque togs on and make for the bar off Hollywood Boulevard. (And, truly, you can take a rest on looking for that time travel portal near the Hollywood Sign, for the hotel at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard is as portal-y as places come.)

Photo Credit: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[Haunted Mansion 2016 Gingerbread House]]> Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:23:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DLHMgingerbread123.jpg

WHILE HALLOWEEN TIME... at Disneyland Resort offers as many different sights and surprises as a plastic pumpkin holds pieces of candy, there's one particular thing that many visitors look forward to every year: the gingerbread house at the center of the Haunted Mansion. Indeed, the eerie New Orleans Square attraction, which turned 47 in August, takes on a full-scale re-theming built around "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" every September, and the theme lasts into the early part of the new year. And it is just this theme that inspires the towering treat found atop the big table in the Haunted Mansion's ballroom scene.

"NIGHTMARE" NEW: For while you can find your favorite touches year after year in the same places — Zero the dog floating down a long hallway is one charming example — the gingerbread house in the ballroom goes through a transformation. So what did the Imagineers dream up for the 2016 go-around? There's still time to look away, to hum "What's This?" or another favorite "Nightmare" ditty, or to walk from the room before the theme is revealed. If you can't wait to see it in person, then read on below.

THE 2016 GINGERBREAD HOUSE... is themed to Sally, the kind-of-heart, brave-of-disposition heroine of the tale. Stitches, which are a Sally staple, and the hues of her dress figure prominently in the seen-from-above sweet, an edible wonder that includes 200 pounds of gingerbread, four gallons of egg whites, and more ingredients than you can probably pack into a Doom Buggy. If you long to see an illustration, you can click here, or you can make for the Anaheim theme park now. Halloween Time is on at Disneyland through Oct. 31, though Haunted Mansion Holiday will fa, la, la into the beginning of 2017, complete with its Sally-inspired gingerbread house.

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrated Song Returns to Mission Inn]]> Fri, 09 Sep 2016 06:25:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/missioninnhistory1234.jpg

GRAND OLD HOTELS... have long been the source of creative inspiration. Some writers and musicians made permanent homes on the upper floors of their favorite inns, the better to experience the excitement of a building where the neighbors change each day. Some visionaries and artists have called upon a delightful destination for a week or more, the better to de-cobweb the ol' noggin and invite a few fresh ideas inside. And some people who wouldn't count themselves as creative types have found the bustle and beauty of a well-appointed building to be invigorating, and so photos are snapped of the lobby and a poem or two is jotted down on the hotel stationery.

CARRIE JACOBS-BOND, singer and penner of tenderly tempo'd songs, famously found much in this artistic realm at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside's castle-iest structure (and, let's be honest, one of the castle-liest structures in California and the entire country). She came up with the lyrics to "A Perfect Day" during a 1909 stay at the hotel, and if you remember the sweet song, you may recall it from 1940's "Remember the Night" (none other than Barbara Stanwyck plays it on the piano). Or perhaps you remember The Mission Inn's bell-sweet carillon playing it for many years, an ode to a song born within the hotel's walls long ago.

THE SONG IS BACK AT THE HOTEL, twice nightly, if you want to experience this heart-sweet Mission Inn tradition. Keep an ear out for it at 8 p.m. in the Presidential Lounge and an hour later at Duane's (at 54 Degrees). Will you have just experienced your own perfect day at your getaway? Hum along then and ponder how this vintage tune was written in the very place you're staying. Artistic inspiration and hotels, a truly timeless pairing.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Big Corn Horse Maze: Just Ahead]]> Sun, 25 Sep 2016 10:37:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/corn-maze-2015123.jpg

THE CORN IS HIGH, or nearly, and the time to get a little lost, all in the name of adventure, is nearly here at one of California's best-known maze-and-more destinations. It's the Big Horse Corn Maze, a staple of the Temecula Valley autumn, and it will expand, with so many twists, and turns, and dead ends, every weekend from Oct. 1 through 30, 2016. But it isn't just about maze-ing around at the Temecula Parkway attraction. You'll want to take note of the...

THEME WEEKENDS, like the rock-and-roll-y weekend that kicks it all off (complete with a car show). There's also a costume contest a pinch before Halloween, for the young-uns and pets, too, and a chance to participate in some old-timey pursuits on Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23. Ever tried a potato sack race? Or bobbing for apples? Or putting your pie-loving skills to the test via a full-on pie-eating contest? There shall be all of that, lovers of autumn-style to-dos of yore.

THE MAZE... is nine bucks to enter, plus a few bucks more if you want to jump into any of the on-site activities. Parking is five dollars, and if you want to go pumpkin shopping while you're there, post-maze, the better to find your ideal Halloween jack o'lantern, carve some time to browse the gourd-filled patch. (Yes, we said "carve" there.)

ALMOST TIME: Can autumn already be here? Well, not quite, but when the corn is growing, the time for maze merriment is definitely on its way.

Photo Credit: Big Horse Corn Maze]]>
<![CDATA[Autumn Tradition: Ojai Studio Artists Tour]]> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 10:45:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Richardamendojaitour.jpg

PAINTERS' PADS (AND MORE): So many burgs up and down the coast, and inland, too, can be called "art towns" that choosing some of California's most prominent is a difficult task (though a fun one). One town sure to make a lot of lists is the place that has a painterly moment famously built into the end of every day. It's Ojai, and that painterly moment, of course, is the Pink Moment, that instant around sundown when the mountains, and very air, seem to assume a rosy cloak. There's art in the town's very surroundings, its hills and environs, and there's absolutely a lot of art-making in the studios and homes of Ojai. That can be seen, in fabulous fullness, each autumn, when dozens of artists welcome visitors seeking to have a more personal encounter with how the creative community works, expresses its ideas, lives, and plays. It's the Ojai Studio Artsts Tour, and it will again take place over the second weekend of October. In 2016 that's...

FRIDAY, OCT. 8 THROUGH MONDAY, OCT. 10, and, yes, this is the first year that the long-running event has lasted for three days (it's the 33rd annual, in case you were trying to add up the times you've been). Some 50 artist studios will be on the map, and a dessert reception on Saturday is also included with your ticket. It won't be lookie-loo-ing, however, as demonstrations (think pot throwing, weaving, and such) will also pop up around town. As for the separately ticketed Saturday evening reception? No surprise about the name: It's The Pink Moment Gala, and there shall be prizes, and nibbles, and such. If you just want to stick to the tour, a ticket is thirty bucks in advance, and indeed covers all three days. You might just get to every studio you want to see in this, one of the Golden's States most art-forward, art-happy, and Pink-Moment-iest places.

Photo Credit: Ojai Studio Artists Tour]]>
<![CDATA[Pop-Up Traveller Bar at Loews Hollywood]]> Tue, 06 Sep 2016 14:13:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/travelerbarsm.jpg

WHILE BAR THEMES... can run the gamut, and new cocktails make cameos, and fresh looks are incorporated into a space, and specials rotate through the menu, this much is true: A bar has a way of staying put. Visit any hotel with a bar one year, and you can pretty much expect to find the bar in the same spot, just off the lobby, even if a few of the martinis has changed. But every so often something rather whimsical weaves through a hotel company, and The Traveller Bar at various Loews properties is just that out-of-the-ordinary occurrence. The destination's name isn't about catering to traveling guests, though of course it does that. Rather, this is a bar that travels — italics quite necessary — and it is currently passing through Southern California. After a sojourn at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel it is making for the Loews Hollywood Hotel from Sept. 7 through Oct. 4, 2016. So, how can a bar, a substantial walk-in space, go places? It's...

A VINTAGE ELEVATOR CAR, one that can be moved (with, of course, considerable effort). The stylish space offers a quartet of old-school stools, a zinc-topped bar, and a register from way back, the kind with the push-down buttons and window-encased numbers. There are eight drinks to choose from, and they spring, with some modern inspiration, from books that go way, wayyy back. Libations include a Gin Fix, a Daiquiri, a Revolving Door, and a few other fancy-pants sips from a century ago, give or take. Where will it go next? The Traveller Bar has a date at Loews properties in San Francisco and San Diego, followed by a stay in the Southwest. 

Photo Credit: Loews]]>
<![CDATA[Ponte Winery Party: Grape Stomp Time]]> Mon, 05 Sep 2016 12:25:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/grapestompseasonponte.jpg

THAT DECIDING MOMENT: Every positive first experience in our life arrives not on its own but accompanied by a "hmmm" moment that precedes it. We pause to decide if we're going to dance alone at the center of the circle at the wedding, and we take a few seconds before slurping our first oyster. Call it the "going for it" moment, or put whatever name to it you wish, but it absolutely occurs before your first-ever grape stomp.

THERE YOU ARE, without your shoes, ready to step into a barrel full of squishable and plump grapes, and you're deciding if you're really going to do this (which you've sworn to yourself you've wanted to try for years). Then, you're in the barrel, and laughing, and squish, squish, squishing away as your pal stands before the barrel, ready to fill a bottle with the resulting juice. If you're familiar with the fun of trying new things, and you don't mind de-shoe-ing for a few minutes to participate in the venerable act of wine-makery, put Ponte Winery on your fall schedule. For the Temecula Valley mainstay is once again hosting a...

GRAPE STOMP: The afternoon affair is on Sunday, Sept. 25, and there are other to-dos outside of the stomp, like a "gourmet dinner" and, of course, the sipping of excellent vinos. You can chill out, Sunday-style, to some jazz tunes, or you can feel a bit of adrenaline as you choose to go the grape-stomping route. The "option to stomp is included with ticket purchase," emphasis on "option," so join in or sit back and watch the lively show. Tickets? They're $89 to $99 for this autumn classic, so best decide soon if this is something your ready to cross off the bucket list. Squish, squish...

Photo Credit: Ponte Winery]]>
<![CDATA[Magical Mojave: A Full Moon Tour]]> Sat, 03 Sep 2016 07:40:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CadizDunesWildernessArea.jpg

THE DESERT, is might be accurately stated, is lush with pure mystery and magic. One minute we're rambling along a clutch of creosote bushes, lost in reverie, when a darting catches our eye (a small bird, perhaps, or a lizard). Its wonders are plentiful and surprising, but we mostly experience them by the light of our planet's nearest star. To see someplace epic, like the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness Area, by the light of our lunar satellite is something pretty darn special, and if it is a full moon? Well, right there you have a walk to remember, even if you don't spy any lizards or birds along the way. A trio of magnificent Mojave Desert spots were named national monuments in the early part of 2016, including Mojave Trails, the home to the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness Area. Like all national monuments the Mojave Trails, and Cadiz Dunes, will host fascinating, fun, and fact-filled public events, and the very first one is up on Saturday, Sept. 17. It's a...

DUNE DISCOVERY TOUR, and it will take place under a full moon, but the sun'll play a part, too. Everything starts up at 4 in the afternoon, with a wrap time of 11 o'clock, with the Mojave Desert Land Trust on-hand to oversee the event. Participants are invited to show with picnics and snacks, the better to keep fortified for all the adventures and learning ahead. Prepare to get some background on "nighttime creatures and plants of the dunes ecosystem," meaning you may leave fully brushed up on your kit fox and bats-based info. There are a few things to know, such as the fact that this is a "remote location requiring 4WD high clearance" (there are opportunities for a ride in from the Mojave Desert Land Trust's Joshua Tree headquarters, so ask questions when you RSVP). Also? This is the land of "soft sand," with terrain that might prove challenging, so ponder this before RSVPing. Whether or not you can make this full moon gathering, stay excited that the Desert Monuments have a host of happenings ahead, all to honor their official protected designations. To keep up on the Cadiz Dunes, start here, or for all things Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails, and Castle Mountains, bone up here.

Photo Credit: Monica Mahoney]]>
<![CDATA[Hearst Castle: Tours Resume]]> Sat, 03 Sep 2016 07:40:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hearstcastlesunset1.jpg

WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST'S ESTATE... may sit high above San Simeon, with views that are so sweeping the home could practically trademark the word "sweeping," but it is not so remote as we sometimes think it to be. The recent Chimney Fire grew quite close to the landmark, prompting staff to cancel tours and shutter the popular destination over a number of days. But as of Aug. 30 evacuation orders in nearby communities began to lift and the majority of the fire reached containment, thanks to the supreme efforts of the responders battling the blazes. And for the first time in a number of days, Hearst Castle opened, again, welcoming late-summer visitors ahead of the busy Labor Day Weekend. Yes, as of...

MONDAY, AUG. 29... "The Enchanted Hill" is again welcoming people eager to eye the publishing magnate's tapestries, statues, and paintings, as well as those two amazing pools (big props to the nearly supernaturally beautiful Neptune and Roman Pools). Of course, the estate's long Hollywood history also comes into play during the tours, and guests often inquire as to whether the likes of Charlie Chaplin or Gary Cooper came to call (the answer is yes). Architect Julia Morgan was the visionary behind the grand, ocean-viewing, everywhere-viewing spot, a place that will soon celebrate its first 100 years. Many fans, those devoted people who enjoy returning again and again, are ready to say hello to Hearst Castle, especially following along on social media as the National Historic Landmark (and California Historic Landmark) shuttered for an "unprecedented" nine days in the face of the sizable wildfire. Want to find your next tour? Your San Simeon idyll awaits.

Photo Credit: Hearst Castle]]>
<![CDATA[September Soiree: Temecula Valley Crush]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:29:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TemeculaValleyCreditLeighCastelliPhotography.jpg

HELLO SEPTEMBER, that most harvest-happy of month. Hello again, late summer, and the beginning of fall, and all of the leafy, grape-nice, picnicky pleasures you bring. And hello to you, dear wine countries of California, places that are encountering one of the busiest, and most celebrated, periods of the vino-making year. It's a time that can't pass without a party or two, and once again Temecula Valley will do it up with a host of local vineyards in tow. The name of the celebration is one known to any oenophile who follows the almost-fall doings of grape-growing regions — it's called CRUSH — and it is scheduled for the final Saturday of summer, during that lovely meld-into-autumn time that suits wine country so very well. That's... 

SATURDAY, SEPT. 17... and Wiens Family Cellars is the place to be. The Temecula Valley Winegrowers is the outfit behind the extravaganza, one that fully spotlights over 30 members of the organization (Falkner Winery, Callaway Winery, and many more are on the convivial list). CRUSH is also about the cuisine, too, and a host of gourmands'll be at the party's HQ, doing up the cheese-yummy, oil-lush, fruits-and-veges snackables that only ever enhance a wine's inner character. Should you be at least 21? You should be, yes, to get your CRUSH on. Will you get to chat up a few of the people who make the eats and libations? They'll be there, so arrive with any queries you have (such as how a grape's juiciness or skin-thickness adds to the general flavor, or when they know that a grape is ready to be picked, or how vines weather the winter). September is here, lovers of beauteous beverages, and Temecula Valley's wineries are putting out the welcome sign, for wines and lovers of wines alike.

Photo Credit: Leigh Castelli Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Lompoc Lark: Mural in a Weekend]]> Wed, 31 Aug 2016 12:11:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/FeedingTime_MuralArtAlley_JasonReynolds.jpg

ANY TOWN WITH A MURAL... should be rightly chuffed, for having a large-scale piece of outdoor art, art that very often reflects the town's history, nature, or locals, is a nice thing, indeed. But there are a few special places around California where multiple murals dot the downtown area, lending flavor and back story in a different way (different as compared to how other places tell visitors the tale of the town). Lompoc, that flowery, not-too-far-from-the-ocean city in Santa Barbara County, is one of the Golden State's best-known mural-laden burgs, so much so that people regularly make it a point to tour the murals when visiting the area's famous flower fields.

TO SEE A HUGE ARTWORK... go up along a building wall is a treat that doesn't come around every day, as murals, by their nature, are rather limited in their canvas choices. But the public will see just that over the second weekend in October when Master Artist Art Mortimer puts brushes to bricks and creates a "Mural in a Weekend" at 100 So. H Street. That a whole mural'll come together in two days is thrilling, but the arty excitement doesn't end there. 

THE PUBLIC CAN JOIN IN, helping Mr. Mortimer "paint for an hour, a few hours, all day, or both days!" Those days are Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9, and you'll want to pre-register, so the organizers know the sort of supplies needed. A few things to note? This'll be a big celebration for Lompoc, with a mural tour, a fall art show, history-themed open houses, and more happening concurrently to the mural going up. Also? This is Lompoc's first mural to "wrap around the corner of a building," so that's pretty nifty. If you're a mural maven, this could be the quirky getaway you've longed for, and a chance to contribute to something you can revisit, in Lompoc, for years to come, with pride. Details, registering, and such? Make for the Mural in a Weekend HQ.

Photo Credit: Jason Reynolds]]>
<![CDATA[The Return of Madonna Inn Pink Chocolate]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:06:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MadonnaInnPinkChampagneCake.jpg

A DESSERT OF DISTINCTION: We wouldn't really be going out on any limbs here if we were to say that when one orders a treat called the Pink Champagne Cake, well, one anticipates that the dessert will be pink, at least in part. And that's the way it has been at the Madonna Inn for decades, the San Luis Obispo hotel famous for its themed rooms, its over-the-top restaurant decor, and its Pink Champagne Cake. The themed rooms are still quirky favorites, and the Gold Rush Steak House continues to shimmer with gold and red details, but the pink in the Pink Champagne Cake took some time off in the spring of 2016.

THIS WAS NO SMALL MATTER, as fans headed to social media to ask the 101-close stay-over what in the world might be up, and when to expect the return of the distinctive dessert. While fabled confectionary Guittard, the longtime maker of the Madonna Inn's signature pink chocolate worked on "an all-natural food coloring," the property's restaurants continued to serve the gateau in question, but without its rosy hue. Which leads us breathlessly, in our sweet-flavored saga, to the close of August 2016, and...

THE RETURN OF THE PINK CHAMPAGNE CAKE: Yes, the whimsical landmark sent out the good word that that most Madonna-Inn-y of colorful cakes is back after "a long summer vacation." Those becurled flakes of Guittard-created pink chocolate goodness, the pleasing row of pink cakes in the case, the pink of dessert that matches the pink decor found throughout the hotel... all have returned. Want to celebrate with a towering slice? Find the treat at the Copper Cafe or the Gold Rush Steak House, the two eateries inside the historic Madonna Inn.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Ojai Illumination: A Tree-tastic Artwork]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:54:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IllumeByPaulFerrante2.jpg

THAT ARBOREAL GLOW: Trees and lights have been a beautiful twosome since the dawn of electricity, and, of course, long before electric bulbs were invented (hello, candles). But finding pretty, light-up-the-night branches that go beyond the traditional glow of small string-based bulbs can be a little trickier. You may come across the occasional larger lantern gracing a tree in a yard, or, if you're at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa during the fall of 2016, you'll see a number of art-lovely light fixtures complementing the property's best-known oak tree. Those lanterns are the creations of artist Paul Ferrante, and the title of the work holds the mystery and allure of the piece itself: "Illume."

AUG. 26, 2016... was the launch date for the lantern-bedecked tree, and while no firm end date is currently on the hotel's schedule, count on the mood-enhancing lights to remain up "through the holidays." They'll be on each night, if you're curious, but Fridays will be something a bit special in the area of the 200-year-old oak: a pop-up lounge, complete with gratis glasses Veuve Clicquot. What will you chat about as you sip? The individual details on each of the 28 lanterns dotting the tree's lengthy branches? How some are hexagons and some are globes and all reflect the Spanish Revival feel of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, which will celebrate its centennial in just a few years? Or perhaps the enchantment of the moment will call for silent reverie and peaceful enjoyment of the incandescent scene.

MAKING A DATE... with the Ojai Valley landmark? Start here, and decide if a Friday night, or any night, is going to be part of your lantern-communing getaway.

Photo Credit: Paul Ferrante]]>
<![CDATA[Julefest Wine Walk: Tickets on Sale]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 07:24:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SolvangHolidayWineAbout.jpg

DECEMBER DOINGS: While we're not quite ready to see the end-of-the-year holidays hit the store shelves or airwaves, we also realize, even near the last days of summer, that booking our spots at popular seasonal soirees is something that should be planned well in advance. And it is just about August, and September, when many December doings begin to sound the call that tickets are available. Julefest, Solvang's annual multi-day feast- and shop- and dance- and eat-a-ganza, spreads out grandly over the beginning and middle of the final month of the year (spreads out like jam on a pastry, if you prefer to picture the dates in Solvangian terms). There's a lot to alight upon, party-wise, but if you're over 21, and you're a maven of the Santa Ynez Valley's plentiful wines and brews, then booking your spot at the Julefest Holiday Wine and Beer Walk seems like the right course of vacation-planning action, even if it is still summer. The 2016 taste-around-town is on...

SATURDAY, DEC. 10 AND SUNDAY, DEC. 11: You'll pocket a passport, a passport that'll lead you to 13 Solvang tasting rooms. For sure, you'll get a souvenir wine glass, and, you got it, the passport covers both days. The price? It's $45. The local knowledge gained? You'll talk tannins and microclimates with a host of staffers who have the 411 on the area's viticulture. Best decide on your hotel, though, as soon as you book your ticket, as Julefest keeps the region humming (humming with carols, yes, and with bustle-y busyness, too). It's true, the holidays are trotting down the highway, in this direction, at a clip, and while we don't need to hang the Christmas lights just yet, we can begin to decide what getaway-flavored delights our December will hold.

Photo Credit: Julefest]]>
<![CDATA[Labor Day Splash at The Beverly Hilton]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:33:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CurvesectionofbhPool.jpg

WHILE LABOR DAY WEEKEND... signals the end of the traditional summer season (even if that end officially arrives with the autumn equinox), it is also a beginning, of sorts, for the cinema-making industry. The big film festivals begin to rev up around the summer-into-fall stretch, from Telluride to Toronto, and studios and indie filmmakers alike begin to cast an eye on the coming awards season. One of the biggest of the industry accolades is, of course, the Golden Globe, and there's only one place that pops into mind when the Golden Globes are mentioned: The Beverly Hilton, the ceremony's longtime home. Thus it isn't too much of a screenplay-worthy stretch to say that Labor Day Weekend and the Sunday in January when the statuettes are handed out are connected in spirit, at least in local lore. If you've always wanted to stay at the lore-laden landmark, and haven't found a room come awards season, there's a deal available to HHonors guests over the final three-day holiday weekend of the summer.

20% OFF... your accommodations for the night is the specifics of the deal, meaning a room will start at $231 for the evening (there are bigger savings through the HHonors program's Big World Sale, if that appeals and you'd like to sign up). The dates that are part of the special? Friday, Sept. 2 through Monday, Sept. 5, and, for sure, you can take a dip in the Aqua Star Pool (the shimmery centerpiece of many a Golden Globes after-party). It's still warm and the first full month of winter is a ways off, but the season of awards-based hopefulness starts in early September. Toast it with a Trader Vic's mai tai, or a martini from CIRCA 55, and save some cash on your room, too, at one of the starriest of swanky SoCal stays.

Photo Credit: The Beverly Hilton]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Days: Julian's Juiciest Jamboree]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2016 06:51:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/applepie93828121.jpg

COUNTING ON THE THINGS WE LOVE... in life is of great comfort, no matter what time of year it happens to be. If you dig sourdough, you're going to find a great loaf at a San Francisco bakery (and it doesn't even have to be National Bread Day). If you like fish tacos, make for a stand near the sand in Encinitas or Huntington Beach or Ventura. And if apple pie rings your particular bell, you know that a slow drive up, up, up to Julian is going to be your crust-flaky, cinnamon-scented reward, even at the height of summer (or winter or spring). Of course, autumn and apple pies are woven together like two tightly braided things, and the town takes note of that each September with a weekend-long lark devoted to its famous fruit. And whether you like that fruit cider-ized, or on a stick, or folded into a oven-browned layer of pastry, you'll want to be at Menghini Winery in the Cuyamaca Mountains-based burg over the last weekend in September. That's...

SATURDAY, SEPT. 24 AND SUNDAY, SEPT. 25... in 2016, better known as Julian Apple Days Festival. So many fest-y things'll be afoot, from dancing to music to a beer garden to wine sipping, but you may want to head for the apple pie first. (Truly, Julian is one of the only places where pie as a starter is completely acceptable and expected.) A ticket is five bucks for adults, and kids ages 12 and under enter for free. Will you be one of the first 100 people there, in your quest for early-autumn pie-flavored joy? You'll be awarded a gratis pie server, an implement that's welcome in every dessert-loving kitchen. Fall and one of its best-loved, most-obsessed treats is nearly here, so get excited.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Laguna Art-A-Fair: Customer Appreciation Weekend]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:22:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lagunaartaffairlateaug27.jpg

BITTERSWEET BYE-BYE: Bidding lovely things farewell is never an easy task, no matter what date the calendar reads. But there's something a bit more tender about letting go at the end of summertime, that season of longer, gadabout days. We know autumn is on the way — the morning light and brisker breezes tell us this is so — so we must wrap up all of those lovely outdoorsy festivals that are synonymous with the sunniest of stretches. One of the coast's best-known art-filled extravaganzas also is heeding the close of August, and the start of fall, and thus is saying "so long" for another year. It's Laguna Art-A-Fair, the famous fine art festival which just marked its first half century as an ultimate showcase for paintings, photography, sculpture, and more. So how is such an esteemed to-do sending another grand season off? By waiving admission for not one day, but a full Saturday and Sunday. It's...

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION WEEKEND, and it will lend liveliness to the Laguna Canyon Road location like so many brushstrokes on a canvas. (One has to be a bit florid when speaking of such a creatively minded spectacular.) Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28 are the dates, so block out a few hours to enjoy the final run of this eminent festival while checking out the whimsical and sophisticated wares of some 125 artists. Are you ready to say goodbye to summer and California's major alfresco art happenings? The time has come, so enjoy them now, or what is still open and welcoming friends. That's Laguna Art-A-Fair, through Aug. 28, 2016.

Photo Credit: Laguna Art-A-Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Ready for Foliage: California Fall Color Blog]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:24:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LundyFallAlicia+Vennos_Mono+County+Tourism.jpg

THE LIQUIDAMBAR... in your backyard may still be a bright green, and your oaks and maples look as though it could be the middle of June, appearance-wise. But the third week of August has a way of changing up some of the trees of the Golden State, at least in the subtlest of fashions and at the highest of elevations. And while the autumn equinox may officially be a month away, the go-to foliage-watching blog of our state, California Fall Color, is up and posting for 2016.

TRUE, there isn't much to report in the eighth month of the year, but the first few posts are showing a few small shifts, with the high elevations of the Eastern Sierra telegraphing that cooler nights are impacting deciduous trees up along the slopes and canyons. This doesn't mean that the whole leaf-peeping scene is ready for launch — that happens in late September and much of October around the lower parts of the Eastern Sierra and up into the Lake County and Plumas County regions — but it does say that those wishing for a weekend of road-tripping to see some picture-ready golds and reds should start to block off a few weekend dates.

GO NOW! That's the urgent call that the California Fall Color blog typically sounds, and it means that leaf-peeping in a particular region is at its 75-100% peak. That can be hard to predict, but if you keep an eye on the helpful foliage map, and what fans of the blog are submitting, photo-wise, you might be able to get a solid idea as to when your favorite spot will stage its annual autumn show. A show that isn't too far in the future, as of August, so keep an eye on the blog and keep your road-trip snacks and suitcase handy.

Photo Credit: Alicia Vennos]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Sunset Idea House Opens]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 09:52:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sunsetexteriorrender.jpg Eye "a celebration of local design" over six style-filled weekends.

Photo Credit: Sunset]]>
<![CDATA[NPS Centennial: Yosemite Celebrates]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:19:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yosemitenpsdamonjoycefalls.jpg

IF YOU RECEIVE AN INVITATION... to an anniversary party, the address is usually printed somewhere on an envelope or the web site. But what should a ready-to-celebrate partier do when the anniversary in question encompasses thousands upon thousands of square miles in several places around the nation? Perhaps the best answer is to find the nearest national park and swing by during the National Park Service Birthday Weekend. Oh, by golly, we went and said what we were merely hinting at a few sentences earlier. It is the National Park Service that is having a big anniversary — a centennial, in fact — meaning there is no one address on the invitation to attend. But many parks and locations are doing it up from Thursday, Aug. 25 through Sunday, Aug. 28, including Yosemite National Park. How will the place known for waterfalls, Tuolumne Meadow, and Half Dome (among about a billion other wonders) "do it up" in honor of the 100th anniversary of the NPS? Let's start with the...

FREE DAYS... from Aug. 25 through 28. Granted, those are system-wide, but if you want to call upon Yosemite National Park over the final weekend of August 2016, you won't pay at the gate to do so. A caboodle of ranger walks and talks, all centered around the centennial in some fashion, fill the Thursday, Aug. 25 calendar, but look Aug. 23 through 27 for other special happenings (science, architecture, and more will all take on a birthday-ish bent for the run of Centennial Week). You probably certainly can't visit every park during the long weekend celebration, but you can say hello to those parks near you or the park you love the best. Happy 100th, NPS, and yay Yosemite, for "doing it up" in grand anniversary style.

Photo Credit: NPS/Damon Joyce]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Days Are Ahead, Autumnists]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 11:04:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/appletreegetty123456789.jpg

WHEN IT IS HOT OUT, as in don't touch anything that's metal hot, as in find the nearest ice tray and hug it hot, as in "the thermometer says what?!" hot, a person may be forgiven for doing a bit of daydreaming. Maybe they're picturing a glacier, or a polar bear, or a walk-in refrigerator, or some combination of all three. But daydreaming about devouring a steaming apple pie, or warm-to-the-touch cider doughnuts, probably does not score high on the warm-weather fantasy scale. Unless, of course, you are an autumn person, through and through, and the heat wave you're weathering happens in August, just about the time you can aaaaalmost spy fall on the horizon. You want to be wearing a cardigan and chowing down on some sort of apple-packed turnover and thinking about fall foliage and wreaths. If this is what you ponder during a heat wave — sorry glaciers and walk-in refrigerators — then get excited, for Oak Glen's Apple Season is on juicy, tangy approach.

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER... are the traditional months for the Yucaipa-close burg's autumn-tinged to-do, a to-do that is all about pies, and craft booths, and U-Pick Apples, and U-Press Apples, and the sipping of cider, and aforementioned doughnuts (find 'em at Snow-Line Orchard). You can get the full rundown on local eateries and what they serve here, and decide if you want to make your day trip about apple butter, or apple baked goods, or apple art, or all of the above. Do keep an eye on the main Oak Glen site for U-Pick info, as you'll want to arrive at a prime time for visiting the orchards. Can you make it through this heat, autumnists? Hang tight — your pie-perfect, cardigan-rocking days are just ahead.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Monarch Beach Resort: End-of-Summer Fun]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:41:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Green-Little-Mermaid-at-Beach-Medium-Web.jpg

SUMMER'S FINAL HURRAH: Bidding summer an exceedingly fond farewell doesn't actually have to happen before the autumnal equinox in the third week of September. But many people choose to do so over Labor Day Weekend, for summer's final three-day event is all about longing for one more dip in the pool and one more easy-breezy road trip. Finding such a spot isn't too hard around California, but a property that's brimming with special holiday weekend to-dos, the kind of to-dos that are summery through and through, is another matter. One getaway, in Dana Point, not only is on the other side of a renovation (one that just wrapped not too long ago), but it happens to be flush with fun family good-timing come the final three-dayer of summer. It's Monarch Beach Resort, and its roster of Labor Day Weekend happenings is as colorful as the swish of a mermaid's tail.

MERMAIDS IN THE HOUSE: You can see such tails at the resort, thanks to the Monarch Mermaid Spectacular, one of the special events over the holiday weekend. There's a mermaid Q&A, too, and mermaid photos, and a chance to take to the water with the mystic visitors, too. Other summer staples include a Kids Night Out pajama party, Family Cardio Drumming, a jazzy brunch on at AVEO Table + Bar, games on the Pacific Lawn, a movie at the Main Pool, and plenty more. You'll want to make sure your must-do events are happening on the days you're there — the jazz brunch is on Sunday, for example — so check in with the hotel on the full schedule. And plan on bidding goodbye to summer in splashy, cinematic, game-fun fashion, especially if you and your kin haven't had a chance to truly enjoy the season yet. There's still time, and Labor Day Weekend is still very much a part of the summery scene, least 'round Monarch Beach Resort.

Photo Credit: Sheroes Entertainment]]>
<![CDATA[Harvest Fest Goes on the Road]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 11:21:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/harvfest2016.jpg

TRYING TO GET YOUR FALL ON... can be a mite challenging when the hot weather refuses to budge. That's the case for a lot of California in September, a month which doesn't bring as many fall leaves as it delivers toasty days and afternoons that are more about iced tea than hot cider. There are ways, though, to tap into the spirit of the cool-off season, and it doesn't involve finding a large oscillating fan to stand near. The 44th season of the Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show is about to open, and there's a good chance that the famous on-the-road maker show will alight in a city that's not all that far from you. There are, in fact...

NINE CITIES... on the 2016 roster, with Las Vegas the first out of the gate over the second weekend in September, with Pleasanton and Ventura also landing in the ninth month. Following in October, November, and early December? Look for dates in Ontario, Del Mar, San Mateo, Sacramento, San Jose, and Pomona. Hundreds of artisans appear at each, presenting an array of handmade goods from wood-inlay bottle stops to carefully tooled leather bags to wooden toys to felted wool scarves. Food's a centerpiece, too, and a lot of it comes with a fall-y feel, from the jars of pumpkin jam to breads laden with nuts, seeds, and other tasties.

CAN YOU FIND HOLIDAY GIFTS... at the Harvest Festival? Indeed, and you can tell your giftee how you personally met the artist. Can you simply go to get into the craft-fairian spirit, the one that revs up in the autumn? It definitely has that, too, in an out-sized fashion. Plan to spend a few hours looking, chatting, snacking, and reveling in a leafier, wreathier, more cinnamon-sweet time of year.

Photo Credit: Harvest Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Disneyland Diamond Celebration Wrapping Up]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 12:11:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PTNP379581diamondcelebration.jpg

ANNIVERSARY FAREWELL: A commonly voiced notion around one's birthday is how it is rather nice to see the whole celebratory shebang last beyond a single day. Perhaps your birthday festivities stretch out into a week, with a few lunches in the mix, and maybe you even go for a full month, if your friends are intent on keeping the cake-y goings-on alive. But what to do when you're a famous theme park — the world's most famous theme park, and the happiest place on earth, to boot — and you're marking your big 60th anniversary? That occasion isn't just a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year, no sirree. In fact, the Disneyland Diamond Celebration revved up at the end of May 2015, with an end date of early September 2016. That time is on the near horizon, which means that a few of the features and events that became hallmarks of the Diamond Celebration will soon wave their goodbyes and bid park goers farewell. That includes the diamond-cute decorations seen around the park, yes, and the special character clothing, and it also means...

PAINT THE NIGHT... will take its final brightly lit turn through Disneyland on Monday, Sept. 5 (yep, that's Labor Day). The popular procession, with its oodles of glowing bulbs and "When Can We Do This Again"-y soundtrack (a catchy ditty, indeed), is ending with the 60th anniversary observance, as is the special fireworks show. And over at Disney California Adventure? The World of Color Celebrate extravaganza will also say its early-September goodbyes (Fantasy in the Sky and the classic World of Color show "will return this fall," says the resort). And keep an eye on this: It was announced in July 2016 that the park's famous trains will again run on the Disneyland Railroad, and the boats on the Rivers of America, starting in the summer of 2017.

Photo Credit: Paul hiffmeyer]]>
<![CDATA[Summer in the Desert: Miramonte Deal]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 09:29:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/miramontemtssunset.jpg

AUGUST CAN BE HARD TO PIN DOWN, in the most delightful of ways. There are some hotter afternoons, for sure, but then the evenings do arrive earlier, and we savor the occasional breeze that says a different time of year is not only on its way, but its train is pulling into the station very soon. We're not revving up for summer sunny good times but beginning to bid them farewell, not with a bittersweet note but by doing those things that signify the warmest time of year. Swimming, or sitting under an umbrella near a pool, or taking a hike after sunrise are as June-July-August-ian as all get-out, but, come the final month of that stretch, the desire to pursue such relax-a-fiers intensifies a bit. Is your summer ever so slightly slipping away?

MIRAMONTE RESORT & SPA... has a solution for that, and a money-saving one, too. The Destination Hotel, which is based in Indian Wells, is offering a Labor Day Getaway deal through Labor Day. That's Monday, Sept. 5, so you have time to put in for a day or two, time you well know you'll spend wading in the shallow end of one of the resorts...

THREE POOLS: There's also the on-site spa and its bevy of chill-down treatments, a number of evening's-coming fire pits, borrowable resort bikes, wellness classes, and a bocce ball court. As for that deal price? Rates start at under a hundred bucks. Ninety seven dollars, to be precise, which is 25% off the standard Miramonte rate, and your package includes a $25 spa credit and twenty five dollars to use on dining (one-time uses, do note). Do you feel that fall-like breeze in the air, the one telling you that summer is about to pack its bags? Don't let the season leave before resort-ing it up, poolside, via a dive-in deal in the desert.

Photo Credit: Miramonte Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Creative Autumn: Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrows]]> Sat, 13 Aug 2016 07:50:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tenleyfohlscarecrowsyv12345.jpg

SPYING A SINGLE SCARECROW... keeping watch over a field is something of a fall-sweet treat, the kind of sight that evokes cooler days and cider-scented beverages and October-y daydreams. Seeing 200 scarecrows dotting a pretty region, though, is a different story, and one that the Santa Ynez Valley tells each year come the autumn. In fact, the wine country's annual Scarecrow Fest is now such a thing around the valley that a host of businesses and groups and individuals participate in the month-long happening. That month in 2016 kicks off on Oct. 7, and wraps on Nov. 7, so you'll have a good amount of time to stroll around Buellton, and Solvang, and Los Olivos, and Ballard, and Los Alamos, and Santa Ynez to decide for yourself which figure is the most fall-like, the most fabulous, the most creative or witty. Procure a ballot, pick your favorite, and then go in search of a local glass of wine while feeling chuffed that you weighed in on a local fall tradition. Maybe the business you vote for will nab the 2016 Harvest Cup: Best in the Valley for their impressive scarecrow-building skills.

AND THOSE SCARECROWS... do run the gamut, design-wise. Some pay homage to the area's vineyard-related pursuits, some are Danish (hello, Solvang), some are pretty Halloween-oriented, and some are just as whimsical as all get-out. They add a colorful complement to the many doings of the season, including the Santa Barbara Vintners' Celebration of Wine Weekend and the Halloween street fairs and haunted houses that have become beloved go-tos for local ghost fans. Hundreds of scarecrows up the autumn-o-sity, in short, and we daytrippers to the area are invited to give our two cents on what makes a marvelous hay-filled, hat-wearing icon of fall.

Photo Credit: Tenley Fohl Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Swanky Scene: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance]]> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:13:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kimbelpebbleconcours23.jpg

FABULOUS YOU: There are some spectacular stretches of road that make you feel fully fabulous while you sit behind the steering wheel. You may only be in a tee and jeans, but toodle down 17 Mile Drive on a perfectly sunny Sunday afternoon and suddenly you're Cary Grant or Grace Kelly in "To Catch a Thief," at least in your own mind (it's a free fantasy, and a nice one, too). That cinematic spirit of sheer coolness paired with beautiful autos paired with an extraordinary location comes to life in Pebble Beach each August, when the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance visits the surf-close stretch. Bevies of rare autos'll make the coastal drive on Thursday, Aug. 18, lending an even more movie-esque quality to the famously picturesque area. But the cars won't bid their goodbyes after their 17 Mile Drive idyll. It's a week of vivacious vehicledom in Pebble Beach and beyond, and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the swanky capper to it all. Make for The Lodge at Pebble Beach on...

SUNDAY, AUG. 21... for the showiest show of automobile fanciness. "The Concours is not a contest of speed, but elegance," says the event's HQ, and you you'll see that elegance aflow in categories covering Delahaye, Two-Man Indianapolis Race Cars 1930-1937, the BMW Centennial, and more. You got it, auto buffs: Best expect to see "200 of the most prized collector cars in the world" near the 18th hole at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. If soaking that all up, from the woodsy dashes to the silver-shiny hubcaps, isn't enough, there's plenty more to do in Pebble Beach and beyond over the third week of August. Eye hard-to-find collectibles at RetroAuto, jump into an auction, or find your car-fun go-out in Carmel or Monterey. Where's that engine of helpful information revving? Right over here, so vroom vroom.

Photo Credit: Kimball Studios]]>
<![CDATA[Sylmar Olive Festival]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 21:45:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/56908420.jpg

PEEK AND SEE: If you favor libations that arrive with a couple of olives on a colorful cocktail pick, do you pause, even before the first sip, to peek at what the stuffing of the olives might be? You might just see a red pimento inside the hollow orb, or a bit of blue cheese, or a lemon rind, or, with larger olives, a combo stuffing situation. It's a testament to the tastiness of this ancient and eternally loved edible, that regardless of what it is paired with drink-wise, or stuffed with cheese/fruit-wise, it has a lot of presence. Perhaps that's one reason that people adore it so, and sprinkle it liberally on just about everything, from salads to enchiladas to pizzas (and yes, in potent beverages, too). It's no surprise that California boasts a few olive-themed festivals, but they don't all flower at once come the spring and the summertime. Sylmar's olive-themed festival kicks off autumn with flavor and fun and an array of foodstuffs, landing on the last weekend of September. That's...

SEPT. 24 AND 25TH, and a host of makers and purveyors'll be out with soaps and oils and jars of gourmet bites that are both zesty and tangy (two requirements of an ideal olive). Kid to-dos, live music, and wine and beer on the pour also give the El Cariso Park party verve, and food for sale ups the fair-style eating choices (think tacos, kettle corn, funnel cake, and such). Best clear a spot on the cupboard shelf, though, before you go, so you can return with a few new finds, briny bites that'll up your next salad's game or add oomph to your calzones. And as for finding your next cocktail olive stuffed with something offbeat? That's the trend, and has been for awhile now, so count on the olive forever pair well with a host of interesting edibles, from goat cheese to jalapeños to oranges. The sky, or rather the olive shelf, is truly the limit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Borrego Days: A Desert Festival]]> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 21:45:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/gallettaborrego123.jpg

OCTOBER'S ETHEREAL PLACE: The first full month of fall has gained a rep for boasting some mysterious qualities, thanks in large part to A) the days growing shorter and B) a certain spooky holiday on the final day of the month. But not every place immediately takes on a more mysterious mantle when October kicks in; in fact, plenty of cities and towns keep to business as usual, without any added ethereal-o-sity. But the desert always delivers on this front come the tenth month of the year. Those earlier nights, and longer shadows, and cooler afternoons are downright delicious, and it feels like the arid areas are reaching some sort of zenith for the year.

IT'S AN IDEAL TIME... to throw a party in the desert, and one of the California desert's most ideal spots is the one that's home to a spray of gorgeous ocotillos, and the noble big horn sheep, and the quirky legend of Peg Leg Smith, and a host of local artists and creators. It's Borrego Springs we not-so-slyly reference, of course, and its annual Borrego Days Desert Festival will bloom as pretty as an ocotillo blossom from...

OCT. 21 THROUGH 23: Oh yeah, it'll be a mite cooler for the Christmas Circle-based bash around that time, which is nice. Also nice? The parade, music, a flyover, beautiful horses, and more (think artist displays, wines to sip, and a car show). The 2016 theme is "Resort to Nature," which the area definitely does throughout the year, so hooray that.

READY FOR A... waterfall-seeking hike? An exploration of the famous Galleta Meadows sculptures? A visit to the nearby badlands? Listening for the howls of the local coyotes come sunrise? Or just soaking in a cool desert art fest, with parade, during its 51st annual outing? October in the desert is full of ethereal, adventurous charms.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Historic Honor for Mission Inn]]> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 11:15:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/missioninn.jpg

FINDING STORIES... at a spot you're staying for the night can sometimes be a tad frustrating. You'd love to hear about some of the luminaries who've called upon the hotel over the decades, and maybe a tale or two of how the building came into being. But not every hotel has such history, and even if a place has some deeper background, it doesn't always put it out into the public sphere in a robust way. Then there's the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, which has so many notable nooks and crannies that figuring out where to start is really the hard part. A new designation from USA Today's 10Best.com, though, should help history buffs get jazzed for taking on the Riverside landmark's many facets in one fell, info-laden swoop. The honor? The Mission Inn was just recognized as the country's Best Historic Hotel by 10Best.com readers. There are numerous reasons behind the property's top-of-the-list status, including all of the...

PRESIDENTS WHO'VE STAYED... at the castle-like inn. Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned at the Mission Inn, and President Taft's chair is the most famous piece of furniture in the large-of-scale structure. It isn't the only vintage piece of note in the hotel; the Rayas Altar hails from the mid-1700s, and its 18-karat gold leaf still shines brightly in the modern age. Tiffany windows can also be spied at the Mission Inn, as well as as paintings, statues, and artworks from another age. The best way to see why the Mission Inn was named a 10Best.com Historic Hotel is to hop on a tour led by a docent. They're free, they happen every day, and go behind the nooks and crannies of one of California's, and the country's, nooksiest and crannyiest properties. Sometimes literally behind, too; expect to see fresh areas of the hotel you haven't peeked at before, even if you've overnighted there on multiple occasions.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn Hotel and Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Firs & Foams: Lake Arrowhead Brewfest]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 14:50:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Craft+beer.PNG

IF YOU'VE EVER HAD A BREW... while visiting one of the mountain towns of Southern California, there's a chance you participated in a "hold the stein" contest or danced the chicken dance prior to quaffing your drink. For Oktoberfests and the higher altitude towns of SoCal are a classic duo, and many a denizen of LA and San Diego and the surrounding cities looks forward to the falltime foam fun up the big hill. But you don't need to wait for late September or early October to sip something splashy and sudsy in Lake Arrowhead, for the water-close burg is hosting its seventh annual Brewfest plunk in the middle of August. So best mark...

SATURDAY, AUG. 13... on your craft beer calendar, then look into finding a place to bed down near the action. That action is going down in the Blue Jay Village Parking Lot, and local charities supported by the Chamber of Commerce are the festival's beneficiaries. Actor Andy Divoff is the event's Celebrity Guest Brewer, making the whole suds-sweet scene a bit more cinematic (you've seen him as Djinn in "Wishmaster" and many, many other TV shows and films). His Djinn's Hellabrew will "raise money for scholarships for Rim of the World students."

OTHER BREWHOUSES... pouring will include Mountain Brew of Big Bear Lake, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery out of Redlands, and Ballast Point. Will Jensen's be on hand, too? Of course, seeing as how the store is an area favorite, but look for other local touches aplenty. 

Photo Credit: Craft Beer]]>
<![CDATA[Gold Rush Days]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2016 12:10:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GoldRushDaysFireBrigade.jpg

CALIFORNIANS, it may be said with sunny confidence, can stow a lot of spectacular and unusual must-dos in their bucket lists, all must-dos that can be found within the Golden State. And if you look to the "gold" part of that moniker, then you know that many a bucket list brims with Gold Country sightseeing. A history buff may dream of toodling down Highway 49, with stops in some of the towns that boomed in the middle of the 19th century, or visiting a museum that tells the tale of how the discovery at Sutter's Mill quickly changed history. But finding characters from the Gold Rush, and the portraits of the era embued with life, or at least the spirit of a modern retelling, is a bit harder to locate. The time of picks and pans and shiny bits of glittery river-found rock come to life, however, each September, in one of the places most associated with the days of the '49ers. It's...

OLD SACRAMENTO... we speak of, and each Labor Day Weekend the whole district puts on its rootin, tootin'-est garb for four days of Gold Rush-style celebrating. Is there a Tent City, which delves into "daily life during the Gold Rush"? It's one of the staples of the holiday weekend event, so you can count on it. Will there be old-timey dramatics, the kind that might have been staged by a traveling troupe in a mining camp? That's a whole thing, for sure. And will the Gold Rush Fire Brigade be out in bells-a-ringin' force? It's part of the plan. Eats, dancing, stories, costumes, cannon firings, wagon rides, and a bunch of other from-way-back-when haps fill out the multi-block area, one that still carries its postcard-worthy architectural cred (the buildings recall the time when the area served as a terminus of the Pony Express). Need dates for all of your Gold Rush-themed festivities? This sepia-toned slice of Sactown is doing it up from Friday, Sept. 2 through Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.

Photo Credit: Gold Rush Days]]>
<![CDATA[Hotel Perk: Pajama Delivery]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 10:24:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/bedheadinroomorlando.jpg

THE PACKING PROCESS... is an individual one, through and through. Not everyone folds things in a particular order — and besides that, not everyone folds things (there's a large contingent of travelers who swear by rolling, not folding, when it comes to filling a suitcase). And whether your toothbrush goes in first, or last, or at all, is another matter. For some it is the most important item of the trip, while others vow to pick a fresh one up at an area store. It's all part of going somewhere, the packing for an overnight or two, but one part that is sometimes skipped over, especially when departing in a rush, is the...

PAJAMAS... portion of the packing. Perhaps you wore your only clean pair the night before your trip, perhaps you clean forgot to dig them out of the drawer. The Orlando Hotel on West Third Street in Los Angeles can help, along with its neighbor BedHead Pajamas. If you're a guest at the hotel, which is located near LA's bustling, shop-y, eatery-y Mid-City West area (and close to Beverly Hills), you can simply browse through an available BedHead catalog, pick the cute pair you like, order and pay and bingo: The PJs'll be delivered to your room. "In-room pajama deliveries" isn't a perk that's often seen on hotel rosters, but The Orlando and BedHead go one better: If you want to see the togs in person, you can ring for a selection to be delivered to your hotel room, the better to check out sizes and designs (which the LA company is known for).

NO NEED TO SWEAT... the packing before a trip, not when the chance to have prospective pajamas whisked to your room awaits. Just remember that toothbrush, and toothpaste, even if you forgo the PJs in the luggage. Squeaky chompers are essential, even if you wait to buy your pajamas when you get to your hotel.

Photo Credit: Bedhead Pajamas]]>
<![CDATA[New: Winchester Mystery House by Candlelight]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:07:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Candlelight-focus.jpg

CANDLELIGHT IS CENTRAL... to many celebrations, but Halloween has a lock on the illumination. Look to the jack o'lanterns that sit on our front porches, the ones lit from within by small flames. And look to our party tables, the ones full of freaky finger foods, and how we often make a candelabra the dramatic centerpiece. Candles, as a rule, though, aren't a part of haunted tours, tours that either rely on the lamps and sources of light within the structure or, more spine-tinglingly, flashlights. The Winchester Mystery House has gone the flashlight tour route for a number of years, and the after-dark delight has become a go-to for many a ghoul-loving guest. Those tours are returning, as they do each autumn and every Friday the 13th (regardless of season), but there's a fresh twist at the 132-year-old San Jose landmark: Halloween Candlelight Tours. It's a form of illumination that's much associated with...

THE LATE 19TH CENTURY, just before the widespread usage of electric lights. Thus it fits the rambling, 160-room manse, a home that's often said to be as ghostly as ghostly abodes come (thanks to the stories of Sarah Winchester and her medium-guided construction, construction undertaken to appease possibly restless souls). Rooms "frozen in a state of arrested decay" will be visited during the candlelight tour, a "touches of festive Halloween abound." But fear not if you already have fearsome plans for Halloween night: The tours by candlelight are scheduled for a number of October eves. True, the Winchester Mystery House is kitted-out for electricity, and was long ago, but figure how a wee flame, and its flicker, can change up how you view stairways to nowhere and doors that open to brick walls. Chilling stuff, just as long as that flame doesn't... go... out.

Photo Credit: Candlelight]]>
<![CDATA[Laguna Lovely: Recycled Fashion Show]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2016 21:06:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/08_13_FashionShow_01.jpg

DRESSING A BIT DASHINGLY... to attend the Pageant of the Masters or stroll through the Festival of Arts is a sartorial summertime thing. After all, a guest wants to rise to the creative occasion with their own look, and a fluttery hemmed dress or colorful pair of trousers can help the attendee complement the art (and vice versa). But the long-running Laguna Beach festival really revs into cool clothing gear come the middle of August, when one of the most offbeat events on the Festival of Arts calendar arrives. It's the Festival Runway Fashion event, a daytime fashion show that's full of fun and memorable togs. But those outfits worn by the models aren't simply off-the-rack creations, ones you can find in stores. They're made from...

"RECLAIMED, REUSED, AND RECYCLED MATERIALS": You just might see a shirt comprised of old CDs, or a top made from dry-cleaning bags, or wire hangers, or another object you'd never imagine seeing as part of an ensemble clothing piece. The fashion show, while fun, is also a potent visual reminder about not immediately chucking the stuff in our life, but perhaps finding a fresh role for it. And it is a tribute to the inventive designers who take part each year. The date for 2016? It's Saturday, Aug. 13, in the afternoon, with actor Joely Fisher hosting and model Kim Alexis serving as a celebrity judge. As for catching the Festival Art Show, or Pageant of the Masters, while calling upon the lovely beach-close burg? Both warm-weather classics wrap up on the final day in August.

Photo Credit: Festival of Art]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Tradition: Old Spanish Days]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 20:44:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oldspanishdays90th.jpg

SANTA BARBARA... is truly a city of celebrating, from its weekend-long Earth Day Festival to its colorful, costume-filled Summer Solstice Parade. But one of its most venerable and esteemed multi-day doings is very much about the start of August, a time of year when the parades and mercados and dance presentations flower like so many many roses outside Mission Santa Barbara. It's Old Spanish Days, and it is heading into its 92nd annual outing on Wednesday, Aug. 3. Old Spanish Days is indeed a...

FIVE-DAY FIESTA, one that boasts a brimful list of must-sees and will-enjoys each day. La Fiesta Pequeña is the opening night welcome at mission, one that includes "traditional songs and dance from Californios, Flamenco, Spanish classical, and Mexican folklorico" (Santa Barbara will also stop by the proceedings, too). The Nights of Gaiety, or Las Noches de Ronda, is a free dance-and-more favorite at the courthouse's Sunken Gardens, while the merry mercados dot nearby locations. There's rodeo, a stock horse show, and the Children's Parade, and Casa Cantina, a go-to for beverages and eats. Docent tours of both the mission and the courthouse lend further historical dimension to one of the Golden State's most past-present parties.

WANT TO ATTEND... a fiesta so fabled and long-running it will soon mark its 100th before we know it? The schedule really is as pretty and full as a mission garden in bloom, so plan before catching your train to Santa Barbara.

Photo Credit: Old Spanish Days]]>
<![CDATA[Catalina Wine Mixer: Oh Yeah, It's Back]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 15:15:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DescansoBeachCub_Overview_Jan2015_1.jpg

THERE ARE SCENES... that you and your friends regularly act out, line for line, should somebody in your party say a particular word or reference a certain location. For many comedy fans, a mention of "Catalina Island" often brings to mind 2008's "Step Brothers," starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. You know just the pivotal scene that the island played a memorable part in: The Catalina Wine Mixer. It's a moment that's moved into movie legend for a lot of fans, who've regularly incorporated the reference in their film lingo, or even ventured to host their own Catalina Wine Mixer at home (less the helicopter, we'll assume). If your dream, though, has been to actually go to Catalina Island and enjoy an actual wine mixer named the Catalina Wine Mixer, you're in luck. The fresh flick-inspired tradition kicked off, rousingly, in 2015, and it'll be back for more music, more vino, more fancy foodstuffs, and more argyle-wearing in September of 2016. The exact dates for the brotherly love are...

FRIDAY, SEPT. 23 THROUGH SUNDAY, SEPT. 25: As with the first year, the stars of the film are not expected to show, but revelers will be much in the spirit of the comedy. The Dan Band is the headliner, an outfit you surely know from films like "The Hangover" and "Old School." It's a long weekend of supreme relaxing at the Descanso Beach Club, but if you need a little more authentic movie magic in the mix, check it out: You can book a flight on an Island Express helicopter. But how are your drumming skills? And do you know all the lyrics to "Por Ti Volare"? Best start practicing now, as you go digging for your favorite sweater vest.

Photo Credit: Descanso Beach Club]]>