Tag: California Travel

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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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Small Town Travel: The Energy Vortex and Citrus Orchards of Ojai, California

April 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

As far as the central coast of California goes, the small town of Ojai often gets lost in the shadows of destinations such as Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Big Sur. It’s a bit understandable given the reputations of those latter towns, but a look at Ojai reveals its value as a weekend getaway for those living within driving distance and as a stopoff for travelers driving Highway 1.

Though not on the coast, the “Valley of the Moon” is considered by many to be an energy vortex, similar to Sedona in that people find its aura to be powerful and even healing. This is one reason why the town is known as a rejuvenation and relaxation destination with many spa and retreat facilities. Its position in a valley adds to that charm, comforting visitors into a rural California nest of citrus farms.

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Three Scenic, Beginner-Friendly Mountain Bike Adventures to Try this Spring

March 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe

Getting out into the wilderness is a must for many adventure travelers, but long, grueling mountain bike rides are not everyone's idea of a vacation. Luckily, some of the country's most beautiful and historic routes have been tastefully commercialized, offering shuttle services that allow you to tackle only part of the trail, mainly the downhill and beginner-friendly sections. Below, we list a few that we've personally experienced, and we encourage you to look for similar opportunities on your next trip to the mountains, wherever it may be.

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These Tahoe Ski Resorts Offer Ridiculous Lake Views From the Slopes

March 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you've never been, it'd be easy to take Lake Tahoe for granted as a skier, especially the past two years where the winter has been mild and significant snow dumps have eluded the region. We understand why that would make one hesitant in terms of booking a trip, but as we learned earlier this month, a lack of snow can't cover up the sheer beauty of North America's largest alpine lake.

There are over a dozen ski areas in Tahoe, and many of them offer views of the lake. Squaw Valley and Kirkwood get a lot of attention, yet some of the best vantage points are found from the hills that hover closer to the shoreline. We recommend visiting several mountains next year to check out the different terrain, but be sure to hit at least one of these to experience the full effect of the lake:

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One of the Biggest Living Things on Earth Calls Yosemite Home

March 20, 2014 at 1:37 PM | by | Comments (0)

Our Assistant Editor Will McGough hiked amongst the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Below, he describes his experience.

As I was walking through Mariposa Grove and seeing the sequoia trees for the first time up close and personal, I was having trouble envisioning any amount of words that would do them justice and describe them appropriately. It split me down the middle. For a traveler, it's a hell of a feeling. For a writer, it's just hell.

Along with its cousin, the more slender and usually taller Coast Redwood, the giant sequoia tree is one of the largest living things on earth with a height up to 250 feet and a 25-foot diameter. About 500 of them call Mariposa Grove home, one of only 75 groves in which they are found today (all of them are in California). The oldest trees are approaching 3,000 years old, meaning they were saplings well before the fall of the Roman empire in the late fifth century and seedlings at a time when the world's population was only 50 million in 1000 BC. That's incredible.

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Yosemite's 'Firefall' Waterfall is Incredibly Cool, But Extremely Rare

March 19, 2014 at 10:42 AM | by | Comments (0)

Travelers wishing to see the waterfalls of Yosemite National Park at their best should schedule their trip during the spring months, when the winter snow melts and plunges down towards the valley floor in full force. The summer months, by contrast, are extremely dry and the waterfalls tend to turn off.

Those visiting Yosemite during the colder months should be warned of the chance of snow closures and reduced accessibility, but those within weekend or day-trip distance of the park might be interested to know that winter does offer visitors the chance to see a pretty cool phenomenon that happens only during a certain window of time in February, when the setting sun shines in a unique way on Horsetail Fall and creates a "Firefall."

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