Tag: California Travel

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Travel Movie Tuesday: 'Sideways'

June 3, 2014 at 11:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

From Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck falling in love in Rome to Julia Roberts circling the globe to find herself, film has played an important role in shaping both the golden years and current day of travel. Thus, we present our newest series, Travel Movie Tuesday, where we detail the most inspiring travel films.

A movie about two middle-aged men traveling through California's wine country might not sound like much fun if you're not a huge oenophile, but we'd say the 2004 hit film, "Sideways", is more than just a mid-life crisis story. It stars Paul Giamatti as Miles Raymons, an unsuccessful writer and wine afficianato, and Thomas Haden Church as Jack Cole, Miles' actor-friend planning to get married the next week. The two plan an elaborate trip into Santa Ynez Valley to relax and sip some perfect Pinot noir, not Merlot.

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Lesser Known Islands of the USA: Catalina Island, CA

May 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

According to the calendar we’re just days away from the start of the summer season, and that means it’s time to turn our attention towards some great warm weather destinations. So get out on the water, wave goodbye to the mainland, and set you watch to island time.

What’s Catalina Island?

You’ve been to Southern California and visited its tourist attractions, must-sees, and hidden gems; however, we would have to guess that you have not made you way out to Santa Catalina Island. Known just as Catalina Island or Catalina to its friends, the spot does its thing as part of Los Angeles County roughly 22 miles off the coast from Los Angeles itself. It belongs to a larger chain of islands, and they’re all part of one big happy family—the Channel Islands. Some estimates put visitors at close to a million per year, so it’s probably one of the more well known of our lesser known islands.

How To Get There

Paddling a kayak isn’t going to be an option here, and the car is going to need to stay back on the mainland. Ferry service is available from a couple spots along the California coast, but it seems like the major route heads back and forth between Avalon—on the island—and San Pedro. Catalina Express is responsible here, and they also have options from Long Beach and Dana Point. Rates start at around $80 per adult including some mandatory wharf charges, but plan to add a few more bucks if bringing your bike or surfboard.

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San Fran's Crooked Lombard Street to Close Certain Weekends This Summer

Where: Lombard Street [map], San Francisco, California, United States
May 21, 2014 at 1:13 PM | by | Comments (0)

Bad news for those with plans to visit San Francisco this summer: The city announced yesterday that it will close Lombard Street, perhaps the most famous crooked road in the world, on certain weekends this summer.

According to reports, the local board received many complaints from residents about tourism on the street, citing traffic congestion and overcrowding that disrupts daily life. Tourists line up to drive and walk down the street, which gains its popularity from its steep grade, tight turns, expensive real estate, and beautiful views.

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Breaking: San Diego Wildfires Force Evacuation of Legoland California

May 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM | by | Comments (0)

Around mid-day today, Legoland California evacuated guests and shut down rides due to operational disruptions caused by the three wildfires raging in the vicinity of San Diego.

The official word:

LEGOLAND California was affected by several power outages today caused by fires nearby. All the rides have been evacuated to ensure the comfort and safety of Park guests. The LEGOLAND California Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium are now closed but the LEGOLAND Hotel is still open.

Updates are being posted on their Facebook page, and guests planning visits to the part should monitor this and the wildfire situation in southern California over the next few days.

[Photo: Jaunted]

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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Enjoy a San Francisco Treat

April 30, 2014 at 11:51 AM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

Starship sang about it, Armistead Maupin wrote about it, Alfred Hitchcock often filmed it, and Rice-a-Roni fills our belly with it. We're talking about the golden child of the west coast, San Francisco, a city that offers up more than hilly thoroughfares, foggy afternoons, and an island prison.

Although it sits at number 14 on the list of largest cities in the U.S., 'Frisco' sits just behind New York City for population density, but don't let that deter you from exploring the 'City by the Bay.' With its unique architecture, healthy lifestyle, and the proximity to world-class vineyards, anybody flying into or out of SFO won't be disappointed.

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Santa Barbara Creates Its Own Pandora Radio Station: Should Other Destinations Do the Same?

April 22, 2014 at 9:45 AM | by | Comments (0)

Earlier this month, we were in a Santa Barbara state of mind ourselves, showing off a few photos of the "American Riviera" as we made our way down the central coast of California to Los Angeles. We discovered one of the town's best kept secrets, and compared its urban wine trail with the nearby Santa Ynez Valley wine country.

If you need any more motivation than that, or are simply looking for a new avenue to daydream at work, Santa Barbara announced this week that it has launched its own Pandora radio station. To create it, Visit Santa Barbara used social media to find out which artists and songs people thought best represented its vibe, culture, and energy. Think Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, and the Beach Boys as the main seeders for the station.

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Strip Off the Winter Coat for a Frolick in These California Flower Fields

April 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM | by | Comments (0)

Just the other day we shared a great place to tiptoe through the tulips, and now we’ve got another recommendation on where to check out all the glory that is the spring season. Pack your favorite allergy medicine—we’d recommend at least a Claritin or two—and head to Carlsbad, California, as The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are now in the business of blooming until May 11.

Not too far north from San Diego sit over fifty acres of blossoms, as Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers take over the rolling hills and fields. The Fields are open to the public each and every day of the week and, judging from the picture, it’s well worth the cost of admission. It’ll set you back $12 for the adults in your group, and the kids will be just $6—with those under two scooting in for free. If you like what you see, opt for a season pass that'll set you back $25.

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Urban Wine Trails Are Cool, But There’s No Substitute for Wine Country

April 14, 2014 at 5:48 PM | by | Comments (0)

In celebration of the most needed happy hour of the week, this column, called “Monday, Five Thirty,” takes a look at all things booze from around the world. Last week, it was a potent after-dinner drink made of "gum drops." This week, we head to California wine country.

If the hand-holding haven of Lotusland is Santa Barbara's best kept secret, then its proximity to the Santa Ynez wine country is a close second. From downtown, a scenic drive up Highway 154 will take you up "into the valley," past Lake Cachuma and through the towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, and Buellton. Northern California gets most of the attention when it comes to wine on a national level, yet the Santa Ynez Valley was put on the map when it was featured in the book turned movie, Sideways.

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Snapshots from Santa Barbara, America's Own Riviera

April 14, 2014 at 12:38 PM | by | Comments (0)

They don't call it the "American Riviera" for nothing. Santa Barbara's beauty is everything but subtle, which really makes our job easy. It's a total point-and-shoot kind of town, each corner revealing another wonderful vantage point that delightfully combines the ocean, mountains, and the mission-style architecture and colors.

The aerial views you see below were taken from the tower on top of the Courthouse, which is free to access and a good place to get a full bird's eye view. The others are from the beaches along Cabrillo Boulevard, the final sunrise coming from our hotel room at the soon-to-be Hotel Milo.

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The Mother of All Gardens Remains Santa Barbara's Best Kept Secret

April 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Santa Barbara distracts many with its beaches, wine country, and ocean-hugging mountains, but amongst the protective landscaping that hides the estates of neighboring Montecito sits the area's best kept secret: Lotusland, a 37-acre outdoor garden containing 3,000 plant species from all over the world.

Originally designed to be a retreat for Tibetan monks, the property features about two dozen unique garden plots that allow you to immerse yourself in different ecosystems. One minute you're strolling through an arid, hardy cactus garden, and the next you've entered a peaceful, Japanese-themed plot of land, an aloe garden, or are walking under tropical trees. One of the crown jewels of Lotusland is its Cycad Garden, a species that dates back nearly 300 million years.

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Three Food Festivals Laying the Table in April

April 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM | by | Comments (0)

After a long winter it’s finally time to come out of hibernation, and there’s no better way to celebrate the season and warmer weather than with a little food and a little wine. April is packed with food festivals for the next few weekends, so now’s the time to cancel those plans with the family and head out on your own getaway. Here’s three spots worth checking out.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine – April 10 – 13

If you’re not already in California you have until tomorrow to get there, as the events surrounding Pebble Beach Food & Wine kick off tomorrow and run throughout the weekend. Expect celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations, plenty of sips and samples, and of course event after event tailored to your food favorites. Most of the cooking demonstrations start at around $100, and things go up from there.

Plenty of tickets are still available on what they call an “a la carte”—ha—basis, but you can also go all in an order a package of events. Things start off at around $1,000 for their magnum set of events, and things get pricier as you select from the jeroboam or imperial options.

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The Three Best US Lakes for Summer Swims This Year

April 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

People who live in proximity to the coasts have their summers planned out with visits to the Atlantic or Pacific, but those caught in the middle might find a trip to a local lake to be more accessible and more affordable. From Nevada to New York, there are hundreds of lakes to choose from, so be sure to investigate what lies within a few-hour drive of wherever you call home. Below, we feature three that we can recommend as great weekend getaways:

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