<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Worth the Trip]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcsandiego.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego https://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usSun, 19 Nov 2017 20:35:45 -0800Sun, 19 Nov 2017 20:35:45 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[La Quinta Resort & Club: Vintage Holiday Package]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:31:29 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/ChristmastimeFrontlaquinta.jpg

RUNNING THROUGH THE STREETS... of La Quinta shouting "Merry Christmas, everyone"? That's up to you, if you're feeling that jubilant. But know that if you're reenacting the iconic scene that arrives near the end of 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life," the one that shows George Bailey realizing he's got a second chance, you won't have much snow to dash through. For La Quinta, which is just a short drive from Palm Springs, is a true desert burg through and through, one that enjoys vast blue skies and perfect palms and craggy dramatic hills and the occasional bighorn sheep sighting, too, but no flakes nor drifts nor snowmen. But Frank Capra's tender and timeless film does find festive play at La Quinta Resort & Club, the 91-year-old destination that was favored by Mr. Capra as a prime writing spot. The long-story-short bit? "Wonderful"-ness pervades the resort come the yuletide season, as does a bit of a wayback feel. If both elements appeal, consider booking...

A VERY VINTAGE HOLIDAY... package, which includes luxury accommodations for a night, a holiday cocktail when you arrive, a resort-themed ornament when you depart, and breakfast each day you're there, too. You can spend your days soaking in the sunbeams by the resort's 65-foot-tall Christmas tree on the Plaza or by one of the 41 pools dotting the expansive property or, let's be honest, both. As for the price the package starts at? It's $209. As for what's in the special seasonal sip? It's called the George Bailey, after the character so tenderly played by Jimmy Stewart, and it includes Bailey's Original Irish Creme, white Crème de Cacao, allspice liqueur, and a dash of gingerbread syrup, to lend the beverage a certain Bedford Falls-esque charm.

Photo Credit: La Quinta Resort & Club]]>
<![CDATA[Seaport Village: Santa's Boat Arrival Ahead]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:49:51 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/santaseaportdiego293823232323.jpg

TELLING RELATIVES ELSEWHERE... that you saw Santa Claus show up in a Dragon Boat? With a surfboard? On a nice, semi-balmy San Diego day at Seaport Village? They might advise you to pull the other leg, with a guffaw, and then proceed to lecture on how exactly the famously festive figure really arrives in town. The word "roof" will probably be involved, and "reindeer" and "chimney" and "snow" and the other details we've all memorized from the tales of old. And while we're certain Santa does probably see a few million — or is it billion? — snowy roofs as he journeys around the world on Christmas Eve, with his reindeer valiantly pulling his sleigh, Southern California is a tad different. Oh, absolutely, there are roofs and chimneys and even the occasional snowfall, up 'round Julian and Idyllwild and Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, too. But when Kris Kringle arrives at Seaport Village in San Diego on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it is all about the stylin' board shorts, the beautiful Dragon Boat, and the surfboard he has in tow. Want to see for yourself? He'll be riding the waves in on...

SATURDAY, NOV. 25, and he will kindly hang out for a bit 'round the village, all so elf-loving aficionados can snap a few Santa-fun selfies or pose-ready pics. He arrives at 1 that day, but stay around through the afternoon for the parade, which'll feature the legend in a red convertible (also quite photo-perfect for the out-of-state relatives). Shops and restaurants around Seaport Village'll be humming as the season gets underway, so doing lunch before your Santa snap or staying for dinner after waving at his convertible feels like a pretty high-five-able plan.

Photo Credit: Seaport Village]]>
<![CDATA[Sawdust Winter Fantasy Fa, La, Las in Laguna Beach]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:17:07 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/SawdustLagunaXmas2012.jpg

SUMMERTIME IN LAGUNA BEACH? You know there's probably going to be some sand in your shoes, if you're lucky. You know you'll probably grab a latte at some point, or a fish taco, and you'll settle in to enjoy a June Gloom morning (that's the latte part of the equation) or a sunset at 9 p.m. (hello, fish taco dinner). And you'll be in shorts, or a sundress, and maybe barefoot, and you'll be talking about going to watch people hold poses inside famous masterpieces or the Festival of Arts or the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, one of the stalwarts of the California summer craft-tacular calendar. It can trace its origins back to the late '60s, and its storybook village set-up feels as though it has roots in that aspirational era, too. But not long after the summer festivals started, something else magical arose, and it dovetailed well with the architecture of the festival: Sawdust Winter Fantasy. It's the holiday version of the summer fun time, though to merely call it that doesn't delve deeply enough into its individual charms. You can see those charms for yourself every weekend through...

SUNDAY, DEC. 17, 2017: That's when the Winter Fantasy flies off, in its enchanted sleigh, for another year. But before then? Browse the one-of-a-kind, too-funky-to-pass-up goods created by 175 artisans, and pick out the perfect piece of blown glass or beach photography for the person you want to delight the most this season. There's a good chance that the artist is in the booth, too, so you may be able to meet the artwork's creator. And as for the cooler-weather'd fest's aforementioned "individual charms"? Think entertainment with a fa, la, la flavor, Santa sightings, "thousands of holiday decorations," and lots of other warm-the-cockles, only-at-the-Sawdust sights.

Photo Credit: Sawdust Winter Fantasy]]>
<![CDATA[Holidays in Yountville: Just Ahead]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:54:19 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yountvillewhole_carriage.jpg

RETURNING TO NAPA VALLEY... before the year is out? Many travelers are vowing to stop by the restaurants, boutiques, wineries, and hotels they love, either over the holidays or to get some shopping done, to show support to the area and those who call it home following the fires of October 2017. One perennial happening that arrives each November wearing a whole kit of sleigh bells and holly is a multi-day event known for its carriage rides, its wine tours, and its numerous festive to-dos. It's Holidays in Yountville: The Brightest Town in Napa Valley, and it will once again shake its sleigh bells, and welcome visitors to the vivacious village, beginning on Monday, Nov. 20. Look for "thousands of twinkly lights" to stay on nightly for...

SIX WEEKS, which means you have from the Monday before Thanksgiving to New Year's Day to soak in the splendor. That splendor also includes the complimentary carriage rides around town, one of the hallmarks of a Yountville yuletide, and the gourmet food & wine tours (of course those'll be part of the celebratory calendar, given the location). Snapshots with Santa himself? Those will happen on select days throughout the run. Candy cane-sweet movies, live performances, and "The Nutcracker"? They'll all pop up, with cheer, music, and feel-good-a-tude, at the Lincoln Theater. And the other activities are as plentiful as cranberries on a string, from wreath-making workshops to a Cocktail-Making 101 Class at Domaine Chandon.

RELATIVES VISITING FOR THANKSGIVING? Or for much of December? Or all of December? Here's where you clip-clop for a full day of noshery, festive films, small-town sparkle, and those famous carriage rides. It's all in Yountville, beginning on the 20th day of November.

Photo Credit: Mars Lasar]]>
<![CDATA[The Holidays at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 17:26:28 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/parkaviara102923.jpg

GINGERBREAD STUDIES: As you wade through miles of ribbons and buckets of bows in the general direction of December, chances are very good that you'll see some gingerbread houses. You might come across the basic kits on store shelves or a fully realized house at the local community center or another spot where construction of the merry abodes is a common occurrence, like at a school or church. But actually picking up a few tips on how to put together a lovely candy-lined casa of gingerbreadian proportions? That chance doesn't come around all that often, unless you're at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa and you happen to have the hotel's "expert pastry team" guiding you through the cheerful basics, from gumdrop placement to frosting techniques. But the Gingerbread Class offered by the Carlsbad getaway isn't the only confection on the busy December 2017 calendar. There's also a...

TEDDY BEAR TEA AT PARK LOUNGE, which includes goodies and an appearance by the Peppermint Princess, who'll surely spin a few sweet stories during the happy happening. Also sweet? Kids attending the tea are "...asked to bring a teddy bear to be donated Rady's Children Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House." And if you're calling upon the luxe destination from Dec. 20 through 24, follow the aroma of roasting chestnuts, and stop for a few. If you're visiting earlier than those dates, note that toasty cider and cocoa will be available in the lobby from Nov. 27 through Dec. 27. And those gorgeous themed trees and wreaths adding whimsy to the lobby? There are several to admire, including one based on the ocean and another on Santa's Workshop. Visitors to the hotel lobby are invited to bid on the tree of their dreams, with the knowledge that money raised will go to showing support to local military families.

DO NOTE... that you'll want to reserve ahead of time for the Gingerbread Class, and the Teddy Bear Tea, too, and keep in mind that both happen on select dates, so consider lining up your Park Hyatt Aviara sojourn with the activity closest to your holiday-loving heart.

Photo Credit: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Old Sacramento's Theatre of Lights]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:00:18 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Theatre+of+Lights+2015123.jpg

IF YOU'VE EVER LINGERED... around K and Front Streets in Old Sacramento, and taken in the vintage buildings, the ones from a couple of centuries back, you likely said something like "if these places could talk." Or you thought it, at least, because the walls and doors and windows of the district really have seen the generations go by, not to mention plenty of famous characters from our state's early years. The tales, then, do flower around the river-close, museum-filled area, and finding them is as easy as jumping into an underground tour in the summertime or calling upon a local institution for a look at a train- or automobile- or Gold Rush-related exhibit. But right around Thanksgiving? The tale changes up for a few weeks, all to tip a hat to the coming yuletide and all of the cheer and merriment it delivers. That's when Macy's Theatre of Lights, a multi-night presentation from "...the Old Sacramento Department of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership in cooperation with Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF), with the City of Sacramento and Old Sacramento merchants" sweeps grandly into the neighborhood. 

IT'S FREE, and with large-scale illuminations, and complementary music and sound, it presents "A Visit from St. Nicholas," or, as many of us usually refer to it, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." But Clement C. Moore's iconic, know-every-word treat isn't the only part of the 20-minute performance; onlookers will also "(d)iscover how early pioneers experienced the calamities — and revelry — that befell the new city in the 1850s," with the exteriors of the surroundings "light(ing) up with color." The cost to see this unusual and historical and alfresco holiday presentation? It's free, as mentioned, but that's worth mentioning twice. Night #1 in 2017 is Thanksgiving Eve, the final evening is Christmas Eve, and while it won't run every evening, Theatre of Lights will glimmer on multiple November and December nights. Check out the schedule, then go Old Sac for a very 19th-century expression of the holiday, with some contemporary techno dazzle adding a hefty amount of wow.

Photo Credit: Sacramento Historic District]]>
<![CDATA[Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival: Registration Open]]> Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:17:44 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/morrobaywinterbird92323.jpg

GREEN HERON, SNOWY EGRET, American Bittern, Pied-billed Griebe, American Coot, Pink-footed Shearwater might be just a few of the birds included on your seen-around-the-shore master list, the one you keep on your phone or a piece of paper in your glove box or in a very special notebook, the one where you record all of your most excellent avian adventures. Even if you've seen all of those wing-gorgeous birds, though, and plenty more beyond, you know, deep in your bird-obsessed heart, that there are so many more fly-high wonders to spot, as well as those splashers that stick close to the water and waves. Where to go to find a caboodle of birds in one spot, or at least in a general area, one that is picturesque and Pacific-adjacent and known for its birdly visitors? 

MORRO BAY... seems an obvious answer, what with its primo coastal location on the Pacific Flyway. Hundreds of species further bolster this notion, for a keen-of-eye, binocs-raised bird buff might spy a dozen or two or more around the region over a single weekend. Look to the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, which flap-flap-flaps, then comes in for a landing, from Friday, Jan. 12 through Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. "Over 200 species are usually sighted during the Festival weekend," a statement on the web site reveals, promising a pleasurable time for those watching the sky and waves. The 2018 schedule brims with several workshops and outings, including Bird Sounds Workshop, an Owling Workshop, Birding Fiscalini Ranch, a Bay Birding Cruise, and The Basics of Bird Photography.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN, as of Saturday, Nov. 4, so sign up and make your Morro Bay lodging plans. It's a busy yet peaceful way to enter the new year, especially after a frenetic holiday season, and very most especially if you're a Morro maven who does dig nature observation, bracing days in the sunshine, and an elegant Egret or Plover in the distance. Details? Flap this way.

Photo Credit: Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Sweet: San Francisco SPCA Holiday Windows]]> Sun, 12 Nov 2017 08:48:18 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sfspca8.jpeg Calling upon Union Square this season? Say hi to the adoptable dogs and cats romping in the windows in front of Macy's.

Photo Credit: SFSPCA]]>
<![CDATA[Temecula + Your BFF: Oak Mountain Dog Day]]> Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:10:35 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oakmountainwinery123.jpg

RUFF, ER, ROUGH DAY? Your pup knows how you feel the moment you unlock the front door. Perhaps you get in your comfies, perhaps you take a bath, but the evening is likely going to end with you, a glass of wine, and your favorite tail-wagger draped across your lap. But our hounds are also perfect companions on the non-ruff, er, non-rough days, like those days when we're out doing something delightful, that appeals to our interests and speaks to our desire for sightseeing, adventure, and fresh air. Take wine tasting, for example, and the winery visits. Not every vineyard is open to pooches, but those that are? They go the dogly distance for their four-footed guests. And if you're thinking of taking your four-footed friend out for a winery day, and you're thinking of making it a Hump Day, because, yeah, it's kind of hump, then consider trotting for...

OAK MOUNTAIN WINERY... in Temecula Valley. It's a spot known for its canine affections, so much so that pups are permitted to enter the "Main Tasting Room, outdoor Pavilion area, Cave Terrace, and throughout the Vineyard." Making your Hump Day excursion with your pal all the more memorable? Your BFF will nab a Puppy Meal when you order an entreé in the Cafe Café, each and every Wednesday (aka Wag Your Tail Wednesday). If your little one isn't up for a whole meal, though, note that there are always dog treats in the Tasting Room. A place, by the by, where bottles of wine with dog labels are ready to be purchased. And any purchase of such a bottle means that some of the proceeds will help out animal groups in the area such as Animal Town Sanctuary and Cause for Paws. Woof woof? Oh yeah, woof woof: Hump Days and Temecula adventures and dog-fun outings just took a turn for the sweeter.

Photo Credit: Oak Mountain Winery]]>
<![CDATA[Support Napa Valley: Meritage Resort Offer]]> Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:11:27 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/meritagenapa028939232.jpg

HELPING NAPA VALLEY... after the fires that swept through part of wine country in October 2017? There are multiple ways to send money, give support, and show that you're firmly by the region's side. But one strong stance isn't very stance-y it all, if you think of "stance" as something that's still or immobile. The word is out that Napa Valley, and the rest of the county and Sonoma County and Mendocino County, would love to see you, and if that means a weekend at a hotel, a spa swing-by, a meal at a beloved lunch spot, or another outing around the area, terrific. Do it as soon as you can, after ringing or emailing to make sure the place you'd like to call upon is ready and eager to see you (stay positive). One Napa spot that is open, welcoming visitors, and contributing the the fire relief efforts is The Meritage Resort & Spa. The property is looking lovely, with fall's mellow hues tinging the leaves and yellow mustard, a Napa icon of the cooler months, making a show. To see all of this, and to contribute to the region's recovery, book the...

SUPPORT NAPA VALLEY... offer. It's priced at $160 per night — the usual price hovers around $200 — with "10% donation of your room rate" going to the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Moreover, if you're looking to buy some excellent cabernet during this highly cabernet-esque time of year, consider stopping by the property's Trinitas Cellars, where 30% will be donated to the foundation on purchases that include three or more bottles. More information, a peek at Meritage, and that give-back Napa spirit? Follow the colorful mustard and leaves and good vibes to the page with more information.

Photo Credit: The Meritage Resort and Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Ho, Ho, Ho: Opening Day at Santa's Village]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 21:51:15 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/skyparksantasvillage133433323232.jpg

ORNAMENTS AND BAUBLES... and nutcrackers and shiny ribbons and strings of lights and stockings and bows may be taking up a sizable chunk of our stores as early November gets going, but the thing to do is to ask yourself this: Can all of the ho, ho, ho-ing truly obtain lift-off before Santa's Village officially opens for the season? This isn't a controversial topic in the least, for consider this: Generations of Southern California kids knew the yuletide was getting closer when they saw Mr. and Mrs. Claus up at the Lake Arrowhead-close clutch of buildings. And once that happened? The festive season was off and running. That spirit is ready to start up again, with mountain-high charm and sweater-cozy cool, on Thursday, Nov. 9, which is...

OPENING DAY: Here's the first thing to know, though: Opening Day at Santa's Village sold out in a jiffy, which isn't really too surprising, since the vintage attraction did humming business in 2016, its big reopening year after remaining shuttered for almost two decades. But there are many more days to come throughout the 2017 holiday season, beyond opening day, so take happy heart. Know, though, that choosing what day you'll say hello to Kris Kringle ahead of time is probably a smart plan, reservation-wise, especially as the 25th of December draws close and the village sees a caboodle of bundled-up visitors. Will you also see some of the characters of the Northwoods, like Arrow, the Claus family dog, and other picture-ready denizens of the area? Ho, ho, ho, which is "yes" in Santa-speak. There's also a Breakfast with Santa, too — that's $30 per person — and Tea with Mrs. Claus, which is $15 a ticket.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, magic shows, and the chance to mail a missive to the North Pole are all part of the enchantment. Enchantment that is adjacent to an ice rink, the Polar Express Train Ride, Frostbite Tunnel, Santa's Workshop, and several other activity-themed, stretch-a-leg stops. Tickets, info, and more ho, ho, ho? Ho, ho, here.

Photo Credit: Skypark at Santa's Village]]>
<![CDATA[The Inn Above Tide: Complimentary Coloring Book]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:46:20 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Inn-Above-Tide-1588.jpg

A SURPRISE AMENITY AT CHECK-IN? Those didn't-expect-that hotel perks can truly can vary from property to property, but count on people always feeling a little frisson of delight when a fun welcome amenity suddenly appears. A guest might find themselves holding a voucher for a courtesy bike rental, or a complimentary glass of wine, or a candy bar that's made by a well-known confectioner in the area. But one whimsical, oh-so-rare perk is making a charming entrance at a Sausalito stay-over in late 2017, and it involves an activity that is nicely suited to a relaxing hotel overnight. It's a...

COMPLIMENTARY COLORING BOOK, and people arriving at The Inn Above Tide for a peaceful sojourn will receive one upon check-in, as well as a pack of colorful pencils to fill in all of those lines. And what do the lines within the book reveal? It gets local, and meta, and quite quaint quite fast: The coloring book depicts the luxury 31-room hotel giving out the coloring books as well as Sausalito, making the amenity about as specific and memorable a souvenir as souvenirs do come. The work of five area artists may be found in the pages of the book, with Lisa Congden, Christina Song, Bethanie Murguia, Abby VanMuijen, and Lindsey McCool Loegters all contributing lovely, fill-in-able illustrations to the offbeat amenity.

UNPLUG... on your Sausalito getaway and participate in an activity that's considered by many aficionados to be as de-stressy as creative pastimes come. So color those birds, bridges, and that pretty Pacific water as you hang out in your room, in the lobby, or on your outdoor patio, near the waves, the very waves depicted in the locally themed coloring book you received at check-in.

Photo Credit: The Inn Above Tide]]>
<![CDATA[#RedwoodsFriday Launches: Free Day-Use Passes]]> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 06:54:14 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PrairieCreekRedwoodscalstateparks.jpg

THANKSGIVING HAS ITS PLENTIFUL JOY MOMENTS, from the hugs shared by family members and friends, to the traditional dishes we only eat once a year, to the chance to hang out on a weekday while devouring pie at regular intervals. One of those holiday-specific pleasures, for many people, has to do with the snugness of Thanksgiving. That snug-a-tude may be expressed by crowding around a cozy table with treasured cousins or hanging out in a packed kitchen as you catch up on what's been happening with everyone. If you love to revel in the snug aspects of Thanksgiving, but always find that you awaken the next day needing some space, quiet, and whatever the opposite of that feeling is, just gaze outside, or even head outside, for a lung-filler of a breath, and some sky, and some air. The Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks have teamed up for the third year in a row. The goal? To make the day following Thanksgiving a little easier for many Californians, thanks to a limited-time offer of...

FREE DAY-USE PASSES... specifically created for visits happening on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. The magical places the #RedwoodsFriday pass encompass? "(M)ore than 40 redwood state parks," yessiree, and if you're hoping that Big Basin or Calaveras Big Trees is on the list, your hope shall be answered in the affirmative. The pass giveaway is definitely a "first come, first served" sort of deal, do note, so hop on it ASAP if you want to commune with some of the tallest trees on earth on that particular Friday. Where better to continue the flow of gratitude inspired by the holiday then in a glorious grove of gorgeous arboreal wonder? Best get all the info, and that most excellent free pass, before they're gone, gone like the briefest breeze that flits through the canopy of tippy-upper redwood limbs.

Photo Credit: California State Parks]]>
<![CDATA[Cali4nia Pass Deal: Save Now on Ski Fun]]> Sun, 05 Nov 2017 14:02:57 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTTC140813103204_1598.jpg

A WINTRY BLUSTER... is on the way for the peaks of the Sierra Nevada as November 2017 opens, just days ahead of Mammoth Mountain's big opening on Thursday, Nov. 9. If seeing reports from the mountains of snow, snow, and more snow has you thinking about securing a way to ski or snowboard often over the 2017-2018 season, take note: There's a deal on for the Cali4nia Pass. But there's a tick-tock afoot, too, meaning the special price will soon melt away, snowflake-style, for those who hem and haw. The headline with the deal? Prices on the pass, which opens up a quartet of Golden State resorts for "unlimited skiing and riding," will go up on Tuesday, Nov. 14. That's less than two weeks away, as November heats up, so best point your pole in the direction of the...

CALI4NIA PASS... online HQ. If you do decide to purchase ahead of the 14th, you'll save two hundred dollars on a 2017-2018 pass. That price? It's $849, which covers "...over 200 days of shredding this season." If you're reaching for your calculator, to see how many regularly priced days that price would cover if you paid for each visit, one by one, here's the word: Less than seven days in all, per the pass page. Will you hit the slopes more than seven days? Is that your commitment this coming winter? A gotta-get-out-more life goal? Then hook into a pass, pronto.

THE FOUR RESORTS... covered include Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Bear Mountain, and Snow Summit. As for some of the perks? "No blackout dates" seems like a good first thing to mention, as well as a heap of discounts and Bring-A-Friend offers. 

Photo Credit: Visit California/Carol Highsmith]]>
<![CDATA[Mountain Twinkle: Country Christmas in Julian]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 22:06:41 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Holidaylightsjulian-horz.jpg

SO YOU SAY THAT YOU PLOT OUT... every minute of Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Eve? From the exact second the parsnips leave the crisper to when the turkey enters the oven to when the pie gets its walnut-caramel topping? It can be a precise, minute-to-minute undertaking, the hosting of Thanksgiving, a calling that its pleasures and its obvious stresses, too. And as rewarding as it can be, and as ripe for the making of memories (and the occasional cooking story gone awry), a person often seeks a little downtime after the turkeyiest day of the year comes to a close. Whether this is binging a TV series, or finishing a novel, or taking a mountain drive to see some early Christmas lights is up to the person seeking some well-earned R&R. If a drive into the hills in search of sparkle appeals, and you'd love it to happen not on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving but on the Saturday, giving you a day of clean-up and napping, then look no further than...

FESTIVE JULIAN, which will once again stage its nostalgic and crisp-of-air Country Christmas in Julian on Saturday, Nov. 25. The centerpiece of the happening is the tree lighting, and it is a live tree, adding a nature-awesome texture to the to-do. It's all happening at Pioneer Park beginning at 2 p.m., but you can bet the shops in town'll be feeling that festiveness, too, so make time for a swing-through. And doesn't a traditional tree lighting go better with pie? Find your apple-y slice before sauntering over to Pioneer Park. After all, if you hosted Thanksgiving, then treating yourself, pie-style, is a very proper thing to do, as is savoring an easygoing day, up, up, up in Julian, during its oh-so-pretty Christmas kick-off.

Photo Credit: Country Christmas in Julian]]>
<![CDATA[Death Valley Encampment: Travel Back with the '49ers]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 16:58:15 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/encampment49ers1234.jpg

TALES OF THE GOLD FIELDS? Californians know them well, whether they learned about them in school, or on a documentary series, and while driving along Highway 49. We know the names of all the major figures of that boom-big era of our state's history and we know about its glittery-gold draw, the lure that drew thousands upon thousands of hopeful souls looking to make a memorable strike. Revisiting their travels, and how some got stuck, and how some turned back, and how others plugged on to the area in and around Sacramento and Placerville is a fascinating exercise, one that is made even more interesting when costumes and tales and a stunning setting is involved. And if that stunning setting is inside...

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK? We must be talking about the annual Death Valley '49ers Encampment, a week-long event that includes a multitude of happenings both for the '49ers and those visitors who want to dip into the historical activities for an hour or a day. The Encampment includes Historical Character Reenactments by Steven Hale, and educational talks, too, if you want to delve into how people headed for the gold fields fared along the way. But the week has other doings, like an art show, a fiddling & picking contest, gold panning, a pioneer costume contest, and more. It's all fiddling, picking, and panning around Furnace Creek from Sunday, Nov. 5 through Sunday, Nov. 12, making it one of the liveliest moments in Death Valley (true, a lively place in many beautiful ways, but a place that's generally more silent than not). 

READY TO TRAVEL BACK... to time around 1849, in a region that's not the western foothills of the Sierra? It's another slice of knowledge-filled fun for those students of the Gold Rush, but one with a definite desert vibe.

Photo Credit: a]]>
<![CDATA[A Very Solvang Halloween]]> Tue, 31 Oct 2017 08:00:48 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTTC09111717300715-horz123.jpg

THAT SOLVANG SPARKLE, the quintessential twinkle we often associate with one of the country's most Christmas-tastic towns, takes on a more atmospheric glow around the end of October. You might even describe it as the kind of glow that emits from a jack o'lantern, the flickering of a small candle inside a gourd. That's because the Danish village pauses each year to find its Halloween spirit, and it doesn't look far. That's because the Solvang Festival Theater regularly puts on a production that summons some of the spookiness of the occasion, while outside a Street Fest welcomes revelers in costume. The 2017 production is on for Monday, Oct. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 31 and its name? Beware...

"THE CURSE OF SKULL MOUNTAIN": Prepare to face "(t)wo terror-ific nights through abandoned gold and silvermines, a miner camp, the Old West town, and more." The production gets a bit kid-friendlier earlier on each evening, from 6 to 6:30, so keep that in mind if you have tots in tow. An adult ticket is $11, a ticket for a child ages 13 and under is $9, but do arrive with a bit of extra cash as food will be for sale at the Street Fest outside. If you do prefer Solvang's sparkle to that pumpkin-y glow, hang tight:

JULEFEST... is jingling this way, with its the popular tree lighting starting the celebrations off on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Photo Credit: Visit California/Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Indio Tamale Festival: Delicious December]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 21:09:10 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/75287822.jpg

THERE'S A LOT OF LUSCIOUS LORE... surrounding what we eat on the first day of the new year. Every dish — scratch that, every new ingredient — carries some importance or a story, and all the tidbits we devour during the day and night on the first of January are said to have some influence on our months to come. But what about starting off a month in the same way? Shouldn't each fresh page on the calendar come with a little cuisine-based magic? And, if so, isn't December the foodie-iest, most enchanting month of all? If you're nodding your head, or patting your belly, or pondering what plateful happening this is all leading to, consider this: the Indio International Tamale Festival is the perfect and savory and perfect starter to the most suppable stretch on the calendar. True, we said "perfect" twice, but we are talking about tamales, and some of the most magnificent tamale artists around. And they'll soon gather for...

TWO DAYS OF TAMALE YUM: This means, for those who attend, a whole bunch of tamales to try, from carnitas to calabacitas to straight-up sweet corn to those tamales that go best with tart salsa or a rich mole. A carnival, a beer garden, an interactive art area, a car show on Saturday, and an area for the kids to play? All part of the joy, as are the contests, which include a Best Tamale Contest and, you got it, a Tamale-Eating Contest, as well as a Best Tamale Flavored by Tabasco Contest. Is this how your delicious December should open in 2017? And in every year to come? Be in the Coachella Valley on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3 for a true cornucopia of corn-based bites.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mable's 6 Feet Under: Unique OC Haunt]]> Sat, 28 Oct 2017 11:26:45 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2016-11-03_0085+%281%29.jpg

AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN... If you're a maven of a classic Halloween maze, the sort of dark-hall'd scare house that has monsters of all furs and stripes leaping out as quivering knots of maze goers pass by at regular intervals, you likely can't wait to spread the wicked word to all of your friends. You've got tales to tell of your terrifying but awesome experience, in short. You want to inform each pal when to expect the biggest jump, what the grossest prop was, and where exactly the first freaky thing seen will be located. But there's a unique haunted experience in Anaheim that has its devotees staying fairly tight-of-lip, and with excellent reason: Mable's 6 Feet Under is a Halloweentime happening that benefits from remaining spoiler-free. And fans do adhere to that...

SPOILER-FREE-NESS, for what's inside the unusual walk-through space should be encountered with a fresh mind, one that's fully open to eeky moments, harrowing turns around low-lit corners, and finding one's way out in short or not-so-short time. The "Mable" in the maze's name will be seen — count on that — and she knows the eternal motel she lives in far better than you do. Nifty animatronics lend a certain whoa-ness to the experience, as does the fact that your sense of direction goes fully kittywampus moments after entering. What can be known? A ticket is $15, but you can nab two tickets for $22 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. It's open nightly through Saturday, Nov. 4. A personal introduction by the maze's inventive creator Carolyn Carpenter as you reach the doors lends a homey touch to the experience, but don't get too cozy or familiar: Screams await, as in screams that shall emit from you, as do dead ends that will flummox and bewitch. "Just when you think you have found your way, (Mable) will add another trick to turn you back," teases the haunt's online HQ, and it isn't pulling any legs.

READY FOR SOMETHING DASTARDLY DIFFERENT? A quirky addition to your annual Halloween outing schedule? Mable is expecting you, just off the 5 Freeway, just five minutes from Disneyland. Kids ages 12 and up are welcome, as this "chainsaw-free" maze "...is not gory or disturbing." But is it scary? Oh yes. Mable and her friends will make sure of that.

Photo Credit: Albert Lam/Mable's 6 Feet Under]]>
<![CDATA[Dapper Day: Fashionable Fall Fun at Disneyland]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 17:01:02 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PhotographyByStephenie.com-6700.jpg

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH? To count, one by one, all of its delightful details, and swirly touches, and bright hues, and eye-catching designs, would take months, if not years, if not an entire lifetime. For Disneyland Resort, that large-of-scale, huge-of-vision destination, has spent over six storied decades reveling in the art of fantasy, of presentation, and of nostalgic delight. But many people who call upon the Anaheim landmark want to weave into all of that design, and hue-brightness, and nostalgic style, too, and they do so with their outfits, their attitude, and their sheer joie de vivre. Of course, guests are welcome to get dressy any ol' day of the year at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, and spying a lady rocking a crinoline and old-school frock, or a gentleman in a boater hat, is not all that unusual. But the style really sings, like a group of ghosts or a band of happy animals, when...

DAPPER DAY... rolls back around. It's a twice-a-year thing at the Orange County destination, and it also happens at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando and at Disneyland, too. The fall gathering is up on Sunday, Nov. 5 in Anaheim, though festivities and fashion moments'll run throughout the weekend, with the Dapper Day Expo, Fall Edition spreading out over a good hunk of the Disneyland Hotel on both Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5. What are we insinuating by "good hunk"? Picture a marketplace crammed with vintage goodies of the wearble sort, and imagine it taking up some 30,000 feet. If you simply want to show to show off your awesome ensemble, whether it is from the 1940s, the '70s, or even today, you can, but note: You'll need to buy admission to enter the parks. Glam up, Disney devotees, in your hats, gloves, and pumps, and make for what's become one of the marquee vintage gatherings in all of the glammy Golden State.

Photo Credit: DapperDay.com]]>
<![CDATA[Family Fall Festival at San Diego Botanic Garden]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 16:12:52 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cobb_11_7151.JPG

WHILE AUTUMN WILL HUM ON... for a few weeks following Halloween, traditional fall festivals will begin to make their final bow in most places right around the close of October. The weather starts to grow cooler in November, and Thanksgiving and end-of-the-year celebrations begin to flower like so much ivy and holly. If you're a fan of a traditional fall fest, then you know that the final weekend of October is prime time for locating your pumpkin-based revelry, revelry that will be, fingers crossed, outdoors in a lovely, in-the-sunshine setting. Put aside eerier pursuits, then, for a moment — Halloween hasn't happened yet, as of this typing — and ride your hay wagon, if you have one, or the conveyance of your choosing to Encinitas, where the...

FAMILY FALL FESTIVAL... will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28. The San Diego Botanic Garden is the seasonally sweet spot, and while your admission gets you into the festival (a separate entrance ticket is not required), do note that a few crafts and activities may come with small fee. Another good thing to keep in mind? If you're a grown-up, you should forgo the costume, but the tots are invited to dress up as their favorite bug or superhero or monster. Pumpkin painting is one happening during the day — go silly or go scary, is always the question — and a petting zoo will bring the awwws. 

FOR MORE INFO... on the crafts, the midday hours, and what's to nosh around the 37-acre gardens, drive your hay wagon in the direction of all the good-to-know details regarding one of the final fall soirees on the 2017 calendar.

Photo Credit: Rachel Cobb]]>
<![CDATA[Polar Express at Railtown 1897: Tickets on Sale]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 10:18:47 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/RT+Polar+Express+2+Courtesy+Daniel+Ryan.jpg

HOW LONG MIGHT IT TAKE... to drive a sleigh from Jamestown, which is plunk in the middle of beautiful Gold Country, to the North Pole, which everyone knows is in a distant and frosty land, one that's magically decorated with icicles and snow angels? That's a tricky question. It depends on how many passengers are sharing the driving with you — if you've got eight reindeer that can take the reins for awhile, or ten lords a-leapin', that helps, time-wise — and how many bathroom and snack breaks you take along the road. Of course, you can always just make a date to visit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, where a decorated train will whisk passengers straight to that enchanted pole. (Yes, trains at the holiday "whisk" passengers away, for that's part of the magical storybook spell.) And tickets for the seasonal experience are now on sale, so book your passage if you want to toot-toot to Santa's wondrous realm beginning on...

SATURDAY, NOV. 25: The POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride will choo-choo on select dates from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through to Sunday, Dec. 17. The locomotive will be wearing its yuletide, sparkly best, and inside the cars? Prepare to sip cocoa and feast upon cookies. There are keepsake souvenir tickets, too, for those hoping to enhance the scrapbook/fridge. And do you want to snap a nifty photo in the historic Roundhouse, one of the notable sights of the park? You can, "complete with steam engine in the background," so have that camera handy. If you're wondering if the POLAR EXPRESS is also offered in Sacramento by the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation, wonder no longer: It is. But it is now sold out for 2017, making the Jamestown adventure a fun and fa, la, la-esque way to enjoy the fabled train.

Photo Credit: Daniel Ryan]]>
<![CDATA[Gorgeous Getaway: Ventana Big Sur Reopens]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:27:22 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ventanaSpaDeck.jpg The Alila Resort's extensive and elegant refresh stayed true to its rustic, ocean-view'd setting.

Photo Credit: Ventana Big Sur]]>
<![CDATA[Bodie Calendar Contest: Submit Your Snapshot]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 15:18:14 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carolhighsmithCTTC140813103204_2823.jpg

YOU, YOUR EYE, YOUR CAMERA, GO: Where exactly do you first train your lens when you first arrive at Bodie State Historic Park? Do you find a structure you've never really noticed before, the kind of decaying building that held a lot of liveliness, and human voices, and Old West camaraderie back in the 1800s? Do you point your camera at a far vista, pondering if the miners of Bodie ever attempted to find riches on some distant ridge, just beyond the burg's borders? Or do you simply take in that huge, huge sky, a blue bowl that typically yields a surplus of dramatic cloud formations? It's hard to choose, as any photographer, be they an amateur or professional, can tell you, for Bodie State Historic Park has so much to admire, ponder, watch, and record. But it all comes down to this, for some shutterbugs: What photographs might best serve a calendar devoted to what might be the planet's most famous ghost town? Best decide soon, for the...

BODIE CALENDAR CONTEST... is on now, and accepting image-amazing entries through Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. That gives you time to visit the Mono County treasure, which is a lovely drive north of Mono Lake, if you want some fresh perspectives and fresh framings. Or perhaps you'll need a few weeks to pore over the images you already have, the ones you've taken over your last few visits to the remote and dramatic location. There are some rules to consider, such as how many you may submit and in what format. Will you get a gratis calendar if one of your photos is chosen? For sure. Will you bring some attention to the Bodie Foundation, which helps to keep Bodie a visitable and visible gem, an authentic window to another century? You bet. To get started on choosing your snaps, turn your buggy in the direction of the calendar contest rules now.

Photo Credit: Visit California/Carol Highsmith]]>
<![CDATA[National Parks Free Entry: Veterans Day Weekend]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 05:55:09 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTTC110513135425_12.jpg

"HONORING AMERICA'S VETERANS": When you learn that there's a free weekend ahead, admission-wise, at our national parks, and you discover the dates are Saturday, Nov. 11 and Sunday, Nov. 12, you may ponder where you can go within the National Park Service to pay tribute to those who served. The NPS can help out with that, thanks to a detailed page devoted to the "...dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans." A number of those locations are in California, if you plan to stay within in the state over Veterans Day 2017, so consider calling upon Cabrillo National Monument, Rosie the Riveter WWI Home Front National Historic Park, Fort Point National Historic Site, or Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial over the second weekend in November.

OTHER PARKS... that typically charge a fee at the gate, such as Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree National Park, always have a number of happenings on their weekend schedules, including the popular ranger-led talks and walks. If finding some stillness among the trees, canyons, or paths of a favorite park feels like how you want to spend Veterans Day Weekend, take a look at all of the parks, monuments, and historic sites that are nearby (there are many). Do note that the Nov. 11 and 12 National Park Service Fee-Free Days are the final no-admission dates on the 2017 National Park Service calendar. For more information on finding a history-focused NPS site, click. And to learn more about the history of the NPS and the Vets on the River Program, start here.

Photo Credit: Visit California]]>
<![CDATA[Monarch Anticipation: Butterfly Beauty Ahead]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:39:10 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PGMonarchButterfly5+%281%29.jpg

"I'VE LANDED": Ever waited on a friend to arrive in town? You've likely received a text saying "I've landed" or a phone call asking for directions as your pal gets closer to the city limits. But some of our most flutteriest of friends don't bother to text, or call, or even email or post to social media when they finally land. They're too busy migrating, and clustering up along the branches of old eucalyptus trees, and warming their wings, and even pausing to text us would disrupt that ancient flow. It's the Monarch butterflies we're rhapsodizing about here, and they're due to return to the groves they gather at, each wintertime, around the beginning of November. In fact, Morro Bay is already seeing some early Monarch action, so peeking in on your favorite Monarch-rich spot earlier in October may just yield some gorgeous, butterfly-filled sights. 

THE PACIFIC GROVE MONARCH SANCTUARY... will begin releasing counts near the end of October, counts that detail what observers are seeing. It's the "... the largest public monarch overwintering site in Monterey County," and should you visit from November through February, from noon to 3 in the afternoon, you'll be able to chat with a docent. Also? Viewing scopes make the Monarch experience that much more amazing, so definitely take a turn with one. Why is that a prime time to visit the sanctuary? The butterflies are bound to be a bit flittier during "the warmest time of day," making for some primo observations. Keep in mind, though, that you can spy butterflies, as in the sweet kid-costumed kind, in Pacific Grove on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the long-running, community-fun Butterfly Parade & Bazaar.

Photo Credit: See Monterey]]>
<![CDATA[Yappy Halloween at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:20:25 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ritzyappy0392332.jpg

YOU'D NEVER FIB TO YOUR FIDO, never ever ever, nope, no way, no how. You'd never promise him a treat after his walk, only to fail to deliver on the chewy goodie. You'd never say that he could sleep in your lap, on the couch, and then not pat your knee as an invitation to jump up. And telling him that Halloween is actually on Oct. 26? Well, you wouldn't do that, because the two of you have an honest and straightforward understanding, a tight bond that based on trust. But you might mention to him that sometimes we humans like to start the whole Halloween merrymaking a little early, because all of the fun we want to enjoy has a way of being too much for a single day. That works, yes? So you're next step: Mention that...

THE RITZ-CARLTON, LAGUNA NIGUEL... is putting a pet-tastic twist on its Yappy Hour concept, with an evening devoted to the spooky season. It's called Yappy Halloween, and it is a kind fundraiser at heart. The evening's beneficiary? The Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence. On the roster? Well, a costume contest, of course, for those canines in attendance. The categories will include Best Individual, Best Themed Group, Best Duo, and Best in Show. It's an early starter on Thursday, Oct. 26 — 5 o'clock is when the costume contest kicks off — so have your hound in his ruffles and bowtie when the sun's still out. In fact, the whole festivity begins at 4, which is a perfect hour for a pup party, since dogs generally like to call it an early night (how wise they are).

COCKTAILS FOR THE PEOPLE... in the crowd, as well as Mutt Lynch Unleashed Chardonnay, Merlot Over and Play Dead, and Chateau d'Og Cabernet will be in the glasses. Reporter Wendy Burch of KTLA is the host, and the vittles for purchase? Barbecue. If you can't make this shebang, do note: A holiday-themed Yappy Howl-iday Celebration is ahead at the resort on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Photo Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel]]>
<![CDATA[Winchester Mystery House: Film Costume Display]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:38:12 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/winchestermoviecostumes123.jpg

SARTORIAL CINEMATIC: When you think of the Winchester Mystery House, a few images likely spring to mind. Staircases, for one, are a major visual hallmark of the San Jose attraction, both of the traditional sort, and those stairways that mysteriously lead to nowhere. Victorian-beautiful rooms, the sort seen in mansions from over a century ago, are another common Winchester sight. And the gardens and grounds? The outdoor spaces lend an airy loveliness to a location that's more known for its interior hauntings. But clothing? That doesn't necessarily seem like the first thing you might ponder when it comes to Sarah Winchester's massive home, a home built to house a coterie of restless phantoms. Yet clothing will be one of the main must-sees in the weeks ahead, as the costumes from "Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built" appear on display at the atmospheric abode. True, the movie, which stars Helen Mirren, hasn't yet been released, which makes the peek at some of its elegant Victorian wear all the more insider-y. The release date on the flick is...

FEB. 2, 2018, but you can eye the dresses and suits in the house's Venetian Dining Room now, as of mid-October. Which tour to join, though, to make sure you can visit the display? Here's hauntingly good news: "(A)ll three of our popular tours — Mansion Tour, Expore More Tour, and Hallowe'en Candlelight Tour" pass by the period costumes. Just can't wait for the film? Or perhaps you're a longtime Winchester regular and you're looking for a fresh dimension to your visit? They're on view now, as of October 2017, at a home that's said to be one of the most spirited in America.

AS FOR THOSE CANDLELIGHT TOURS? Due note they're a special seasonal happening, come the fall, so jump on one ASAP if you've wanted to see this fabled casa by night.

Photo Credit: Winchester Mystery House]]>
<![CDATA[Fall Favorite: Big Sur Food & Wine Festival]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:38:23 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/CTTC160609172745_079+%281%29.jpg

THE WINTER OF 2016-2017... was incredibly intense, to say the very, very least, along Highway 1 in and around Big Sur. Major slides, and the closure and rebuilding of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, gave much of the area an island-like character for the bulk of 2017, with businesses in the area vowing they'd love to see returning customers again as soon as possible. Annual events, too, became a question mark for a time, with those travelers who regularly call upon the beautiful area for a specific happening wondering if that happening would stay on the schedule for 2017. Wonder no longer, if you're a longtime supporter of the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, a burnished, bite-filled autumn gem: It is ready to welcome those who love eats, and the area, and vinos, and views over the first weekend in November 2017. That's...

THURSDAY, NOV. 2 THROUGH SUNDAY, NOV. 5, and alighting on a few outings and meals will be a tantalizing challenge, whether you've attended before or this is your first time. A Magical Mystery Tour is a popular part of the weekend, and if you've wanted to eye some of "Big Sur's most unique and spectacular properties," complete with a tasting component, this is for you. There's a Pinot Walkabout at Post Ranch Inn, some jazzy flows at the Henry Miller Library, and a Hiking with Stemware lunch at Rancho Rico. And back at the Henry Miller? Some 20 wineries will show, then pour, then chat, for Wine & Swine ("bring your dancing shoes," is the sparkly suggestion). Ready to love upon Big Sur again, at one of the signature events on its annual calendar? Dance your way in this direction, with all of those quintessentially Big Sur vibes flowing around you as you proceed. Oh, and beginning on Oct. 13? Those vibes'll flow over the nearly open Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. 

Photo Credit: Christian Heeb]]>
<![CDATA[Bow Wow Cruise: San Diego Sweet]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:50:11 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/HornblowerBowWowBrunch.jpg Head out on to the bay with Hornblower and a bevy of costumed canines.

Photo Credit: Bow Wow Brunch Cruise]]>
<![CDATA[Desert X 2019: Lauded Exhibition to Return]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:00:15 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/miragedesertxagp12345.jpg

IF IT IS HUMAN... to seek shared experiences that make us think, that move us, and that stick with us in a lasting way, then the installations seen around the Coachella Valley over some of the late winter and early spring of 2017 easily drew out our common human-share-ability. For Desert X, the spread-wide art exhibition, gave both locals and visitors to the area a chance to view often sizable and starkly displayed works for free. Those works included "The Circle of Land and Sky" from artist Phillip K. Smith, a circular and sandy outdoor space hemmed by a row of tall, thin mirrors, and "Mirage" by Doug Aitken.

"MIRAGE"... was also commonly called the "Mirror House" by the many people who headed up the Mt. San Jacinto foothills to patiently queue before stepping inside the artwork's funhouse-like interior. If seeing these pow-packing pieces provided you a passionate topic of discussion with others who were visiting the installations at the same time, or if a photo you posted on social media prompted questions and passionate conversation from your friends, then hooray: That was some of the power of the inaugural Desert X, which received wide acclaim. Now, in just under 18 months, a fresh exhibition will rise in the Palm Springs area, and it shall be dubbed...

DESERT X 2019: An opening date for the exhibition, which will again include an array of site-specific installations, was revealed on Monday, Oct. 9. So mark Feb. 9, 2019 on your calendar, with the knowledge that Desert X 2019 will shutter at the close of April that year, much like it did in 2017. Neville Wakefield will again serve as Artistic Director, with Amanda Hunt, Director of Education & Public Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and curator Matthew Schum serving as co-curators on the large-scale, large-of-vision project. And, yes: The exhibition will likely coincide with the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, like it did in 2017.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[12,000 Pounds of Pumpkins: Mission Inn October]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:50:48 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TheMissionInnPumpkinStroll.jpg

A BULB, the kind that is round and twinkly and colorful, is a common feature come the holidays, especially when it is seen alongside many other bulbs that are also twinkly and colorful and bright. There are only a few places a person can see not just thousands of twinkly lights but millions, but a certain castle-esque hotel in Riverside is one such storied spot. It's the Mission Inn, one of California's most nook-filled, tower-dotted historic structures, and its annual Festival of Lights regularly makes national lists come Christmas, the lists that detail the most sparkly locations to get into into the seasonal spirit. But there's a season of holiday fun just ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and while the bulbs don't shine and glow, there is another round sort of object that is as iconic to Halloween as a light is to the yuletide: the pumpkin. To honor this goodly gourd, and to add even further charm to the already charming and sizable structure, the Mission Inn has placed...

12,000 POUNDS OF PUMPKINS... along Duane's Walk, the pretty pathway in front of the hotel, the walkway that's nicely framed by that famous arch seen in so many postcards and photos. The pumpkins are on view through Tuesday, Oct. 31, but that isn't the only eeriely elegant happening around the hotel. There's a maple pumpkin bourbon pecan cheesecake on the menu, and, at Casey's Cupcakes, a pumpkin-y, ready-for-fall goodie is for sale. If you've posed for a photo under the Mission Inn arch at Christmas, with all of those tiny bulbs lit up, might it be time to add to your photo collection with a pumpkin picture, too? Stop by and see this seasonal sight, one that melds well with the fantasy towers and storybook touches of the historic hotel.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn]]>
<![CDATA[La Casa del Camino: Unique Surf Rooms]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 20:13:38 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/casacaminoHotelExterior.jpg

THE SPIRIT OF THE SURF: Ever spent a day at the beach, only to return home, or to a pal's pad, or to a hotel that was decidedly unsurfly? It's totally cool, and all that: Your place and your friend's abode and other spots to bed down are probably highly stylish, very comfortable, and full of notable design touches and sweet comforts. But once and while a traveler desires Full-On Beach-a-tude, as in sand in the daytime and surf-like sights later that night as they wind down. It turns out that hanging ten is a passion understood by some of California's ocean-town-y hotels, locations that have upped the surf style inside the structure. 

LA CASA DEL CAMINO... in Laguna Beach is one such spot. If you've been to the town in the last 88 years, you've likely seen this beautiful building, with its arched windows, traditional tiles, and flourishes that speak of another era. In fact, luminaries regularly flocked to the hotel, both during area film shoots and just to relax ("J. Paul Getty and Howard Hughes once played a game of backgammon in the lobby," reveals the site). But while the 1930s still give glamour to the location's lovely exterior, the rooms tell a more surf-oriented story. There are ten in all, and each is a...

"UNIQUELY DESIGNED"... room that pays homage to the Pacific, to boards, to big waves, and to the sandy-footed life. In fact, you just might see a favorite surf or skate brand in your room; each Surf Room incorporates the vibe of the designers and brands that make the clothing and gear often seen out on the waves. There are classic rooms, too, that align with the Spanish architecture, and the view-lovely Rooftop Lounge, which welcomes pups. Hangin' loose, hotel-style? It can be done, in one of the Golden State's beachiest burgs, inside a truly historic gem.

Photo Credit: La Casa del Camino]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween in a Ghost Town: Bodfish Phantoms]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:48:13 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/HalloweenSilverCity1.jpg

AROUND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD... on Halloween night? Ghosts may be flitting about, the kind of frolicsome phantoms that don't rattle chains all that much as they'd rather fill up on candy and various snacks and treats. Those ghosts sure are effortlessly charming, but we know, by the close of Oct. 31, they'll turn back into human beings again. Legend has it, though, that other spirits shimmer on the final day of October, and they aren't wearing costumes that were purchased solely for the candy-centric holiday. These spirits may be sensed indoors at a highly haunted location, like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose or the Queen Mary in Long Beach, but there's a place that has a strong outdoorsy element to it, too. It's Silver City Ghost Town, at Bodfish near Lake Isabella in Kern County, and the rootin', tootin', 1800s-esque buildings that form the easily walkable attraction is home to a number of shiver-inducing walk-arounds when fall arrives. Prepare to join a tour on...

TUESDAY, OCT. 31: The History/Mystery Lantern Tour & Live Paranormal Investigation is $15 and will be led by guide J. Paul Corlew. Other regular seekers of spirits will join some of the October tours, so keep your eyes/ears peeled as you walk among the rambling old buildings. Might you spy something weird flash by? A strange light in one corner? Will the tales of how Silver City Ghost Town came to be, and the characters that once inhabited the structure, provide all the chills you need? It's a different sort of ghost town experience, one that's "lively" and lantern-lit, and if you're seeking a different way to do Halloween night, this could be your path to a spooky, under-the-stars experience. 

Photo Credit: David Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Rush Creek Lodge: Stay, Help Yosemite Conservancy]]> Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:51:22 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/RushCreekPoolAreaSunsetKimCarroll.jpg

LITTLE THINGS? We're often told that they have a rather wonderful and predictable way of adding up, which is 100% accurate and unquibble-with. Throw enough pennies in a jar and soon you'll have money for a nice lunch out. See enough leaves on the ground and you'll finally know fall is here. And listen to a favorite song enough times? You'll be able to sing it, word-for-word, at the next office karaoke night. Likewise, staying at Rush Creek Lodge, and contributing to the Dollar-a-Night program, is a really solid path to helping Yosemite Conservancy, which in turn helps Yosemite National Park. One dollar, one night, on top of your fee to stay at the rustic, park-close getaway? It's a doable act, but one that ultimately helps bolster all of the fantastic programs that are a part of the conservancy's mission. "We inspire people to support projects and programs that preserve Yosemite and enrich the visitor experience," states the conservancy, and the enrichment is built on Yosemite mavens pitching in, an hour here, a dollar there, and all that they can for this slice of waterfall-filled, tree-packed, animal-awesome perfection.

RUSH CREEK LODGE... just joined the Yosemite Conservancy's Dollar-a-Night program, but there a number of other stately stay-over spots that are already on board. The National Hotel in Jamestown, The Redwoods of Yosemite, and nearby Evergreen Lodge are conservancy partners on the Dollar-a-Night fundraising effort, as are The Majestic Hotel and Half Dome Village. To learn more about this program, and how Yosemite Conservancy works on behalf of the national park, unhand your hiking stick, find a seat near the path, take a swig of water, and read all.

Photo Credit: Kim Carroll]]>
<![CDATA[Avalon Home Tour: Peek Inside Catalina Abodes]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:39:41 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/catalinaAvalon+Home+Tour.jpg Get to know six homes, including a converted boat, at the annual fundraiser for the Catalina Island Medical Center Foundation.

Photo Credit: Annual Avalon Home Tour]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrate the Craft at The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:10:05 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/torrey23243.jpg

IDYLL ON THE ARROYO TERRACE: Spy a snapshot of the outdoor area adjacent to The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and you just might slip into a reverie. After all, the ocean is just over in the near-ish distance, and a golf course, too, and the handsome trees that dot the area lend it an ethereal, cover-of-a-coffeetable-book quality. Add to all of this, though, the chance to eat, drink, and expand your knowledge of "California's bounty"? A bounty transformed by number of notable chefs into small bites of delight? That "idyll" atmosphere only further goes through the roof (though, of course, there's no roof over this particular outdoor area). That "bounty"-filled, bountiful day is ahead on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Celebrate the Craft. It's the...

15TH ANNIVERSARY... for the food, drink, hobnob, and sunshine celebration, and to mark the momentous moment, "...the lineup of featured chefs will mirror that of the inaugural 2002 festival." It won't only be about toque-wearing pros, however; excellent beverages, from Golden State wineries and breweries, will be in the glasses during the 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. gathering. "This is a celebration of San Diego's culinary and agricultural community, which has grown over the past 15 years," said Executive Chef Jeff Jackson of The Lodge at Torrey Pines. "We've developed a fraternity of chefs, winemakers, producers, and farmers who are passionate about the sources of our foodstuffs. This year the event will have an entirely new format, with chefs cooking in teams to demonstrate their collective creativity, rather than showing off their individual talents."

TEAMS OF THREE: The chefs'll work in trios, combining knowledge and ideas as they go, and each plate will feature "one key protein." Included on the 2017 participant roster? Michael Stebner of Sweetgreen, Gregory Chavez of Wine Vault & Bistro, and Kara Snyder of Tender Greens. A ticket to Celebrate the Craft is $135, and that covers your suppables, your sips, and your valet parking, too. Slow Food San Diego, as the affair's beneficiary, will receive a portion of each ticket sold. And is there a stay-over room package connected with the food-tastic event? You bet: CRAFT is the code you need, and you can find further details by phoning the hotel. Book at bit more time at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, with more chances to soak up the Arroyo Terrace, the ocean air, and the craftsman-lovely atmosphere of the luxury destination.

Photo Credit: The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]>
<![CDATA[Pomona Pumpkin Festival: 25th Year]]> Sat, 07 Oct 2017 07:22:24 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/229*120/pumpkins-halloween-generic-oct17.jpg

WERE YOU JUST IN POMONA? Were you on a Ferris wheel, or did you devour a doughnut, or did you admire a blue ribbon-winning home-baked pie, or did you toss a hoop around a bottle? Those are, of course, all things that happen to be round in shape, though the Los Angeles County Fair, which wrapped for 2017 on Sept. 24, has plenty of other orb-like attractions and edibles (perfectly circular pizza works here, as does any midway game where you have to throw a round ball through a hoop). But the general round-a-tude is still thriving 'round the pretty town, though the orbs are taking on a distinctive orange hue, and they've got stems, and they will make some excellent, candle-flickery jack o'lanterns in just a matter of weeks. That's right, it's time again for the Pumpkin Festival in Pomona, which is marking its 25th year at the AGRIscapes Agricultural Outreach Center at Cal Poly Pomona (and not the fairgrounds, do note, though Cal Poly Pomona is just a short drive away). Ready to roam the patch in search of your ideal squash? Be there on...

SATURDAY, OCT. 7 AND SUNDAY, OCT. 8... for the kick-off, and prepare to see "(s)everal new attractions" like a hay wagon ride and a mini kids' corn maze. And the kids' pumpkin patch and farm kids activity area have grown, so if you enjoyed the nostalgic games in the past, pay the section a visit. Admission to the festival is four dollars for adults, three dollars for kids ages 2 to 12. But keep in mind that the patch and activities will be open through Halloween, except for Mondays, when it is closed, and it will be free to visit beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 10. So how many magnificent gourds sprout in the celebrated patch? Prepare to be astonished: "Over 70,000" is the number, and they're all five bucks each, "regardless of size!" Want more info? You got it.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trick-or-Treat Tea at the Disneyland Hotel]]> Fri, 06 Oct 2017 15:31:11 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/disneylandteahalloween2017.jpg

AN ATMOSPHERIC AFTERNOON: If Jack Skellington invited you over to his pumpkin patch to enjoy afternoon tea, what sort of treats might you eat? Would the ghoulish goodies hail from Halloween Town's very finest restaurants? Would Jack himself have overseen the baking and decorating of the cookies? And would his faithful dog Zero try to snatch snacks from the table, given that he's usually airborne? Socializing with the Pumpkin King is a not-too-dastardly daydream of those who adore "Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas." And maybe one day you'll receive such an invitation from Mr. Skellington — we imagine the glittery card would arrive in your mailbox at midnight — but, for now, there is a sumptuous afternoon tea with spirited Skellington-esque overtones. It happens at, you guessed it, Disneyland Resort, though you won't need to enter either theme park to sit down for the seasonal nosh: It springs to life, throughout October, at Steakhouse 55. The swanky restaurant is found inside the Disneyland Hotel, and if you're now recalling that the eatery often does tea service throughout the year, you'd be correct. But during...

HALLOWEEN TIME AT DISNEYLAND RESORT, the sweets on the table pay homage to Jack Skellington's smiling face, and his striped suit, and the orange-y fall-fun hues of the holiday. The beverages, too, are sippably inspired by the hauntingest stretch on the calendar, with apple pie tea one perfectly timed choice. And it isn't all confections on your table, do note; sandwiches, too, like the classic cucumber and watercress, will fulfill the meal part of experience. A Special Halloween "Trick or Treat" Tea is burbling each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon, from noon to 3 p.m., right through to Sunday, Oct. 29. But you can bet Jack has some magic up his very long sleeve: The tea will also be open for reservations on Halloween afternoon, which is a Tuesday in 2017. 

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Eastern Sierra: 'Peak Fall' on Fast Approach]]> Fri, 06 Oct 2017 21:44:36 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/JeffSimpsonLobdellLakeRoadOct2.jpg

THERE ARE THOSE LEAF PEEPERS... who keep the car gassed up, and the snack bag fully snack'd, and the suitcase by the backdoor, packed and ready for the trunk. Then there are those lovers of autumn hues who kind of play it by ear, or, rather, by eye, just waiting to see how the annual roll-out of fall foliage goes. No suitcases are packed, the car might be nearing empty, gas-wise, and snacks can be procured along the way. If you're in this second group, no judgment: Life keeps a person's dance card pretty full, and something as lovely and as fleeting as the yearly fall show can be forgotten until the last minute. But, for Eastern Sierra regulars, that last minute is coming, at least for 2017, though worry not that you've missed it. Reports coming from the area, which is famed for its golden aspens and oaks and cottonwoods, among other beautiful trees, is that the leaves are really picking up steam. The suggestion? 

BE THERE... over the second weekend or third weekend in October, if you can, for the full, at-peak, it's-all-happening display. Lobdell Lake was looking might golden as October began, and the "...colors are really starting to blaze" around June Lake Loop, per Double Eagle Resort. Take a look at the California Fall Color blog at what the latest is around Mono County and Inyo County (several swaths are at full gamut in the first week of October 2017, meaning they're either just starting or about to wrap up peak color). In other words, best gas up, pack up, and de-snack the pantry ASAP should you want to catch this year's Eastern Sierra spectacle.

Photo Credit: Jeff Simpson]]>
<![CDATA[Carmel Valley Ranch: Wine Harvest Weekend]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 13:11:49 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CVR1Landscape_02.jpg

WHEN DOES HARVEST, as an idea, a season, and a passion, reach its ripest moment? That's difficult to pinpoint, and to call this a subjective topic is to probably be right on the money. For the fact is that harvest arrives, at least for some people, when the sunlight begins to change and feel fall-like, while for others it is that first grape stomp or crush experience that summons that harvest-like vibe. But some harvest fans wait on a special wine-themed experience to come along and captivate their seasonal senses. Such a happening is just ahead, and it will cover three days of tastings, agricultural exploration and learning, and the easy enjoyment of Carmel Valley Ranch, the hill-rolling, lavender-lovely destination where the annual Wine Harvest Weekend unfolds. The gathering is on from Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 22, and it all begins with a...

PINOT NOIR RELEASE DINNER PARTY: It's a celebration for the 2016 Swing Reserve, a libation straight from "the resort's very own four-acre vineyard." Executive Chef Tim Wood and Sommelier Mark Buzan are at the helm of the family-style dinner, one that will include a line-up of other memory-making vinos. And speaking of memory-making vinos, the Carmel Valley Wine Experience Grand Tasting unfolds on Saturday afternoon on the picturesque Vineyard Lawn. A dozen member wineries will be in attendance, and area eateries will be on hand to serve succulent small bites, the sort of sup-worthy eats that enhance the great wines. As for other...

ACTIVITIES AND MUST-DOS... around the swanky-rustic spread? A birding walk, with an expert at the lead, will speak to the avian aficionados on the property, while Chicken Chats at the property's Hen House, an archery session, and the resort's signature Bee Experience are among the other alluring outings. Participating in a fine wine tasting followed by bee-fun knowledge followed by a guided hike with a naturalist? It's a true communion with the enduring ideas of harvest time, and of nature and the pleasures of the autumn table, too.

Photo Credit: Doug Steakley]]>
<![CDATA[Haunted Aquarium: Sea Monster Mash]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 10:23:55 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SAM_2483-X2bethchee.jpg

THE OCEAN'S DENIZENS? They're not busy dreaming up a costume for Halloween night like we landlubbers might be currently doing, nor are they shopping for yard decorations (their yards are pretty dang wet) nor candy corn (they prefer mollusks, plankton, and the countless other cuisine types that aquatic creatures typically eat). And yet? There's some eerie stuff that goes down beneath the waves, or at least delightfully interesting to our human eyes. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is prepared to dive into the "spooky, slimy side of ocean science" on the evenings of Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21 via a two-night celebration called...

HAUNTED AQUARIUM: SEA MONSTER MASH: There's plenty to look at and do over the after-sundown party, but if offbeat organisms from a watery world float your particular boat, you'll definitely want to seek out the Scripps Oceanographic Collection and see the spectacles there. Meeting Scripps scientists is also another super-cool part of the weekend, as they know some of the weirder fishies and H2O-based phenomena, and they'll be happy to share their nifty knowledge. And a moment that's sure to be talked about on your car ride home, and, well, probably forever in your house? The dissection of a super-sized squid.

THE WEARING OF COSTUMES? Totally fine, and even encouraged, during the weekend, and if you go for an ocean theme, even better. There shall be craft making — what you make shall glow, so that rocks — and live music and "ghoulish treats" from The French Gourmet at Splash! Café. And a Plastic Pumpkin Patch, which focuses on pumpkins made from recycled plastic containers, will be on display, too, at the aquarium, rounding out the sheer Halloweeniness of the Sea Monster Mash weekend.

Photo Credit: Birch Aquarium]]>
<![CDATA[Mammoth Show: Autumn Hues Aplenty]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:53:57 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rockcreekjoshwray1.jpg

HOW MANY LEAVES... cover the trees that cover the mountains around Mammoth Lakes and the wider Eastern Sierra region? No one would dare task you with going out, with some sort of high-tech leaf-counting doodad, to discover the definitive answer to this admittedly absurd question. But ask a leaf-peeper visiting the areas along Highway 395, up around Mammoth, June Lake, and other Mono County towns, how many colorful, eye-popping leaves they saw and the answer will surely be "millions," if not "billions." That might be poetical license taken by someone who was recently blown away by natural beauty, it is true, but finding caboodles of colorful branch-tastic specimens around October is going to 100% happen in the area. Where they are, and the timing of it, is always the question mark, but the upper elevations of Mammoth were already beginning to pop earlier in September (yes, even ahead of that impressive snowfall on the final day of summer 2017). But where should you go, leaf lovers, now that October is nigh?

MONO COUNTY... recently updated its visitor-oriented Fall Color Guide & Map, so studying that is a smart move for anyone calling upon Mammoth and environs during the tenth month. Also? Regular updates on fall foliage are live on the Mono County site, with a few "go now" suggestions for the final day of September and very early October (Rock Creek, Sagehen Summit, and more). But so much foliage-tastic goodness is still to come in the area, though come quickly, it all will, and definitely in the window of October to early November, depending upon the elevation. So hem not, nor haw not, if you haven't seen the glorious fall display around Mammoth Lakes and the towns dotting Mono County. Fact: Autumn ends, and the snows will return. And opening day at Mammoth Mountain is just over a month away, on Nov. 9.

Photo Credit: Josh Wray]]>
<![CDATA[Palm Springs Tram: Snow Soothsayers Wanted]]> Sun, 01 Oct 2017 11:55:18 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/snowguesstrammtsj.jpg

IF IT'S THE START OF OCTOBER, you're probably engaged in a few activities, activities that may include but are not limited to the purchasing of tiny candy bars and plastic pumpkins, the decorating of front doors with various paper skeletons, and the designing of fall centerpieces, the kind that have plenty of squashes and colorful leaves. But if you're a winter fan, and you're already starting to glance past Halloween to the chillier months of November and December, then you likely know of a certain contest that happens each year at the beginning of October. It deals with snow, but snow as related to a town we don't normally associate with the frosty stuff: Palm Springs. No, snowfall isn't predicted for Swimming Pool Central this winter, but it will absolutely fall atop nearby Mt. San Jacinto, which is where the...

PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY... comes in. The historic tram, being a tram, rises several thousand feet on its airy journey, which means that, come the chillier time of year, it will eventually reach the snowline. And its final terminus up the huge hillside, Mountain Station? Snow will accumulate there, too, and sooner than might be believed. So your task, should you choose to join the contest, is this: Guess the 2017 date when "the first measurable inch of snow" falls at Mountain Station, which sits at 8,516 feet. We say "2017" because it will happen long before January; the 2016 first-inch-of-snow date was Nov. 21. But don't dawdle: Your entry will need to be among the first ten entries predicting the correct date to be chosen. And what do you win, if you pick the right date and you're one of the first ten entries in?

A RIDE ON THE TRAM, of course, for four, plus "a special Tram gift memento." The rules? You can't send in your postcard before Oct. 1, 2017, so hold your horses, tram fans. Your postcard — no email entries are allowed — should be postmarked after the first day of October. Good? Cool? Very cool, as in snow at Mountain Station? Read over everything at the tram's site, including the address where you'll need to send your postcard, and get to dreaming of scarf-wearing days near the tippy-top of majestic Mt. San Jacinto.

Photo Credit: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway]]>
<![CDATA[Monster Academy at Discovery Cube OC]]> Fri, 29 Sep 2017 16:20:14 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dscspookyoctober1.jpg

EVERY SCI-FI FILM YOU LOVE, and every eerie one, too, has science behind it: It's just a fact. And that nifty bug you saw on the sidewalk today, the one that seemed to have a million legs? That also rocks plenty of science cred, too, as do snakes and other critters. Some of the most spine-tingling, ultra-thrilling things in this world, in fact, are full of science-a-tude, which makes an annual meet-up of the macabre and the way-cool something that makes a ton of sense. And that annual meet-up happens at the Discovery Cube Orange County, an activity-packed destination that is ready to spend each day in October revealing the cooler science side of not-so-creepy experiments. Are you ready to join the...

MONSTER ACADEMY? It's part of the annual Spooky Science experience at the Santa Ana science destination, and it officially debuts in 2017 on Saturday, Sept. 30. Jump into "hair-raising science lessons from some of the world's most famous monsters," and enjoy activities that put the educational emphasis on STEM. And will you get to call upon Frankenstein's laboratory? You will, so keep your peepers peeled for the Van de Graff generator, and all of the electrostatic amazingness it produces. A talent show will give some of the best-known ghoulies in history the chance to shine in their special areas — with a focus on science, of course — and visitors will have an opportunity to create their very own, pull-it-apart, stretch-it-out slime. But when will the monsters call upon this idea-loving, experiment-neato destination?

ALL OCTOBER LONG, is the answer. And if you have a smaller tot, keep in mind that the Monster Academy also boasts a "day-scare" learning center, which was "...designed exclusively for teaching junior monsters what it takes for school success." That deserves a growl, or a roar, or a bleat, or the celebratory monster sound of your choice.

AND IF YOU'RE IN LOS ANGELES? Give one more growl 'n roar, for the Discovery Cube at 11800 Foothill Boulevard is also hosting its own Monster Academy in 2017.

Photo Credit: Discovery Cube Orange County]]>
<![CDATA[Opening: Big Horse Corn Maze]]> Fri, 29 Sep 2017 20:31:49 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/bighorsecornmaze939232.jpg

GETTING YOUR FALL ON? It doesn't have to be an arduous process. Really, the only two big steps to take involve A) finding a spot that's doing the whole harvest-y thing throughout the month of October and B) getting to that spot, which is often a bit outside of the city. And one of the best-known of the harvest-fun, get-your-fall-on destinations in Southern California is the Big Horse Corn Maze, a longtime Temecula tradition. You will find the fall fun at the historic Big Horse Feed & Mercantile, as the name suggests, and you will find it all beginning on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. The agricultural-awesome experience will be open nearly every day through Monday, Oct. 30, though do note that it will close over a few of the Mondays (Monday, Oct. 23 and Monday, Oct. 30 are open days). So what's at this seasonal extravaganza to do and see and buy and participate in? Well, that...

MONDO MAZE... is a huge draw, and we do mean "mondo" and "huge," as it covers over 11 acres (the 2017 theme pays tribute to our military). A pumpkin patch also attracts those needing some jack o'lantern inspiration, and should you seek a squash that's a different hue than orange, they've got some of those, too. Themed weekends also rule the Big Horse scene, with That Old Time Rock and Roll Weekend starting things off on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 (yep, a classic car show is part of the festival). A Salute to the Military Weekend, an All-American Weekend, an Old-Fashioned Farm Days Weekend (complete with butter churning), and an End of Harvest Weekend will roll out over the course of October. And if your tot wants to wear his costume to the patch and maze? Keep Oct. 29 in mind, a date that includes a pet costume contest, too.

Photo Credit: Big Horse Corn Maze]]>
<![CDATA[Lone Pine Film Festival: Giddy Up Cinema]]> Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:43:50 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/stagecoachexhibitlp.jpg

THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: A bounty of cinematic history lives in and around Los Angeles, with museums, movie studios, movie ranches, and a plethora of locations adding dimension and interest to moviemaking's rich and vast biography. But to truly expand the tale of moviemakery, and deepen the Western side of the cinematic family tree, one would need to drive about four or so hours north, to the Eastern Sierra and the lovely town of Lone Pine.

LONE PINE... has seen movie crew after movie crew come through over the decades, and with excellent reason: The area's epic environs, particularly Mt. Whitney in the background, the knobby, intergalactic-like Alabama Hills, and nearby Death Valley, regularly draw those filmmakers looking for a certain look that stands out and says "Old West" in a single shot. Hundreds of Westerns have been filmed in the region, and The Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine serves as a nexus for those who want to know more, and see more, which they can do thanks to an amazing line-up of props, costumes, and artifacts. And the biggest happening on the museum's calendar? It's the...

LONE PINE FILM FESTIVAL, which will once again gallop into frame in early October. The 2017 dates are Friday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 8, and "How Westerns Shaped the American Experience" is the focus. A panel devoted to director John Ford and actor John Wayne is on the schedule, and over 16 classic Westerns will be screened, too. A talk about what being a stunt person entails will also add exciting flavor, and a series of tours will take fans by some of those aforementioned landscapes, the ones that are so big-of-sky and big-of-spirit. Tickets, details, more? Lasso all you need to know here. As for the chance to toodle through the Alabama Hills on a fine fall day? You may feel like a movie star, thanks to the specialness of that particularly inspirational experience. See them, if you haven't, and if you love Westerns, make a date with Lone Pine soon.

Photo Credit: Lone Pine Film Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Taste of Carmel: Vivacious Village Bites]]> Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:01:56 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Taste-of-Carmel-2016-021.jpg

A CLASSIC CARMEL COTTAGE? The kind that looks as though some magical illustrator plucked it straight from a storybook, then added a few more frills and details before placing it on a beach-close street? They're pretty much the visual calling cards of a visually splendid city. So much so that they're practically cute enough to eat, and if you were to bake such a storybook house into a sweet treat, your friends would shower you in praise (after, of course, digging into the house-shaped cake). But while Carmel-by-the-Sea isn't edible — don't go waving your fork near any of those picturesque walls, which are actually brick and adobe and stone — it does happen to effuse oodles of culinary prestige. How, though, to put your fork into multiple dishes, or at least put your mouth around a whole plethora of interesting bites, during one single visit? You might only ever hit two or three Carmel eateries during a single overnight or weekend. And yet, there is the tempting and tantalizing...

TASTE OF CARMEL... to consider, a full-to-brimming sweep of the peninsula burg's edible offerings. Around 30 local restaurants and food-makers will be out on Thursday, Oct. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. (we know, the mere idea of strolling Carmel on a fall evening probably already has you sold, and to that we raise our hand in a high five). Sliders, munch-as-you-walk pies, all sorts of treats, hearty appetizers, and a host of wines (of course) are part of the night. Percy's Pies, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and The Grill on Ocean Avenue are all scheduled to be there. And know this: You'll be able to leave saying you have a bigger sense of what the village's food scene is all about. But will you leave, is the question? With all those sweet storybook structures, the buildings that look good enough to bake, bidding adieu to Carmel, and its awesome eat opportunities, is always so darned tricky. Fact.

Photo Credit: Michael Troutman/DMT Imaging]]>
<![CDATA[Palm Springs Modernism Tour: Roadside Icons]]> Mon, 25 Sep 2017 07:00:46 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TramwayGasStationGreggFelsen.jpg

THE THING ABOUT ROADSIDE ICONS, those remarkable structures that sit near our streets and boulevards and highways, is, well, they're roadside, which often means we're at the steering wheel, busily driving, as we pass them. And when we're busily driving? We're not admiring roof lines and window patterns and fanciful details of the buildings we're leaving in our rearview mirror. Thus the opportunity to have someone else drive as we toodle by these architectural gems is pretty darn sweet, and to do so in a city that happens to be famously rife with such gems? Even darn sweeter. The city we're about to reference here is Palm Springs, that glorious spread of spectacular mid-century buildings, and the tour you can hop on? It happens during the...

MODERNISM WEEK FALL PREVIEW, which is on from Thursday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Oct. 22. This is the shorter version of the mega mid-century extravaganza that happens in February, but you can count on those four fall days to be incredibly and vibrantly busy, schedule-wise. One of the marquee must-dos at both the October and February happenings is a Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour. You're up in the open air, enjoying a scenic and slow drive-by of spots like the Villa Paradiso Estate, Frey House II, the Twin Palms estate (the beloved desert getaway of Frank Sinatra), and the swoop-roof'd Tramway Gas Station. It's a lengthy, info-packed tour, and there are a number to choose from through the Modernism Week Fall Preview. But no surprise: They do fill up. If you'd love playing passenger for awhile, all while taking in the building-beautiful splendor of the desert resort, book your seat pronto.

Photo Credit: Gregg Felsen]]>
<![CDATA[Tanaka Farms + Hello Kitty: Irvine Sweet]]> Sat, 23 Sep 2017 07:04:17 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tanakasanrio93232.jpg

BEING OUT ON A FARM... can deliver some pretty adorable moments, from tots posing next to autumn pumpkins to families clowning for pictures to the tiniest little strawberries making their first springtime showing. But a famous agricultural spread in Irvine is about to deliver more adorableness than even the cutest farm can deliver, thanks to a partnership with Sanrio. Indeed, that's the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty and all of her smile-making friends, and the spread is Tanaka Farms, of Irvine, the started-in-1940 go-to for berries, pumpkins, and other produce staples of the table.

HELLO KITTY, and some of her very best pals, will serve as ambassadors for Tanaka Farms for a full year, an announcement on Sept. 20 revealed. But this new role isn't solely about the ultimate awww-a-tude the Sanrio favorites so easily deliver to fans. They'll also stand for a message of healthy eating, and quality educational activities, throughout their shared ambassadorship. So beside the iconic Hello Kitty, what other coo-worthy characters might you spy on the Tanaka Farms social media pages and possibly, at times, around the destination itself?

KEROPPI, CHOCOCAT, MY MELODY, AND POCHACCO... will all be along for the charming tractor ride. And the official start date for this message-sweet, all-important shared ambassador role begins soon, when the Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch debuts on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. If you've followed the numerous Sanrio sightings around Southern California in recent years, from the dessert-laden food truck to the sizable exhibition at the Japanese-American National Museum, you'll want to tap into all of the delights and healthy lessons this cute cadre of Sanrio ambassadors will soon impart.

Photo Credit: Sanrio]]>