<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Worth the Trip]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Tue, 03 Mar 2015 01:21:12 -0800 Tue, 03 Mar 2015 01:21:12 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[On Its Juicy Way: Tomatomania!]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:10:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/169*120/Tomatoes+Vine.jpg

SPRING'S TANGIEST SIGN: It isn't like one day a group of ladybugs will come a-knockin' at your door, with the sole purpose of informing you that springtime is here. (If they did, however, they might inform you that any group of ladybugs is sometimes referred to as a "loveliness" of ladybugs -- oh so poetic and spring-sweet.) Spring, in fact, can be hard to predict, apart from the date on the calendar that tells us when we can start thinking about our gardens in a serious way and our sunhats and our grass-ready clogs and our warm-weather pursuits, gardening and otherwise. Some February days (and March days and April days) seem to trumpet, with dew and sun, that the season has started, while others leave us damp and flat. But one predictor of the bloomiest season is a hard-stay on the calendar. It can't be felled by a sudden cold snap, nor can a loveliness of ladybugs move its schedule one way or another. It's Tomatomania!, an on-the-road celebration of heirloom tomatoes, and it sticks to a springtime series of dates that take it (and its tomato-loving organizers) to points around California. Are you ready to embrace this annual symbol of the season? And to start to grow some glorious globes, orbs that arrive in all sorts of heirloom-lovely shades (think yellow, orange, red, brown)? Then see when the show, which "(s)tarted in the early '90s" in Pasadena, is headed for your area.

FIRST UP IS CORONA DEL MAR... over the first full weekend in March, and the last Golden State stop is Geyserville on the last Saturday in April. Several other cities shall be called upon, where fans of the fruit will comb through over "300 heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties." Beyond the selling of seeds, however, there shall be "classes, sales events, tomato tastings, and impromptu social gatherings at popular nurseries and gardening hotspots from coast to coast." We're just glad that our coast is so beloved by the "Tomatomaniacs" and that so many California cities get a springtime visitor. Could you set spring's beginning to when Tomatomania! shows up in your town? Well, maybe not, but until a loveliness of ladybugs shows up at your front door, to tell you spring is here, Tomatomania is a very good (and delicious) predictor of warmer days. 

Photo Credit: Tomatoes]]>
<![CDATA[Indian Wells Idyll: Spring Break in the Desert]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 06:41:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/renaissanceindianwellspool1.jpg

YOU, A LOUNGE CHAIR, AND AN UMBRELLA: So many of us have the desire to purchase pencils and erasers and a lunchbox and a backpack each and every August, even if we're long past the pencil sharpener phase. (Though are we ever really truly past a really good pencil sharpener? No, is the answer.) And come March? We start hearing word of spring break destinations, and we imagine ourselves in a pool, or on a sandy shore, soaking in some rays and leaving our workaday world back where we left it. That we're all still on a semi-school schedule, in our brains, even if it has been awhile since we actually were in school, is a fact for many, but just because it is a quirk doesn't mean it won't work for us: We can go on a spring break, of sorts, if we just find the right balmy, sunny, pool-close spot.

THE RENAISSANCE INDIAN WELLS RESORT & SPA... is helping our spring-break-y longings with a special package made for spring-breakians and those who are just living spring break as a state of mind. It's called Spring Break in the Desert and, what luck, its dates extend far past the shorter window a typical spring break might follow. Which makes it easier to plan, and actually do, for those wanting to jump into a sunny spring getaway, at least for a couple of days.

MARCH 20 TO APRIL 9: Call it a nice, long, languorous stretch, as languorous as spring break should be. That's your window to book the package which starts at $299 per night and includes accommodations for the night, fifty bucks to spend around the resort, and "two ice cream treats" (score). As for where you'll likely be hanging out, spring-breakin' it up? Look for a trio of pools, a sandy beach, and waterfalls at what's billed as "the largest swimming pool complex in the region." Oh, and as for who may book? Nope, you don't to be be a true spring-breaker: Spring Break in the Desert is open to both grown-ups and families.

Photo Credit: Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa]]>
<![CDATA[SLO Sip Springtime: Roll Out the Barrels]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:05:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/BarrelPourCourtesySLOWineCountry.jpg

HOW TO CELEBRATE 25 YEARS? There's no book in the world that's going to tell you that a 25th anniversary isn't a big deal. It's one of the biggest of the big, an occasion met with special rituals and celebratory traditions galore (if you're a doubter, go to any party supply store and admire the sizable section devoted to 25th anniversary balloons, banners, and invites). But how does one celebrate if one isn't a couple, or isn't marking a work anniversary, and a lot of people will want to join the party? Well, you make that anniversary a full month, rather than a day, and you fill it with happenings of the jolliest order. Surely "jolliest" is a word that can be used when it comes to easygoing wine confabs, especially when they take place in that easiest of regions, the Central Coast.

MAKE THAT SAN LUIS OBISPO, to be exact, which is known for its area wineries and its relaxed approach to all things, including big anniversaries (it doesn't go by SLO just for kicks -- it is a local philosophy that's very much observed). Roll Out the Barrels is the doing marking its quarter-century birthday, and the people behind SLO Wine Country are blowing it out, SLO-style, with a month of merry gatherings. That month might just be the merriest of all, according to poets and weather forecasters and those who love the blooming of flowers and the coming of warmer days: April.

APRIL OUTINGS AROUND SLO: The wine-trying starts on April Fool's Day -- no fooling -- and wraps a couple of days into May. On the roster? A caboodle of "winery adventures and activities" including the largest of the larks, the Barrels on the Plaza party on April 30. Along the April way there shall be tours (Niner Wine Estates and a host of other vineyards have 'em going through the month) and oyster pairings at Ancient Peaks (that's on April 11) and a falconry demo at Autry Cellars on the 25th of April. (Beautiful birds and beautiful beverages so go together.) Want to find your ideal SLO weekend and wish a Barrels of a good time a happy 25th? The Cabernet-and-more calendar is this way, Central Coast sippers.

Photo Credit: SLO Wine Country]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Barbara's Lotusland]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:25:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/LotuslandMother.jpg

SUMMONING SPRINGTIME: The longing for the bloom-iest time of year typically begins around Valentine's Day, when roses and dahlias and lilies fill the floral sections of stores and our own shrubs and trees look as though they're considering undertaking the whole budding-early thing (especially when February temperatures have been warm). Poets would say that hearts are quickening or thumping or longing around this time, but those less poetical among us would simply say we like when it is lighter later and the natural world is going to town with bloomy beauty. One of the bellwethers of springtime, at least on the West Coast, is the re-opening of places that have been closed for the winter. Ganna Walska Lotusland, "a public garden in a private, residential neighborhood," is one such tree-filled spot. It takes a break in the wintertime from regular tours, shuttering from the middle of November to the middle of February. Which means the stroll-and-sniff-and-be-under-the-sky time is nigh for the Santa Barbara-based historic plot, which fills the former estate of early 20th-century singer Ganna Walska, to re-debut for the season. And so it did on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

TOURS, TALKS, MORE: While the fresh-air walk-arounds in the 37-acre garden are popular, there are talks on birds and plants and more throughout the warm-weather season. As to the foliage and flora strollers admire? There are thousands of different leafy, bud-pretty things at Lotusland, with an aloe garden, a cycad garden, a bevy of bromeliads, and a blue garden adding vibrant visuals (let us also swoon a bit over the topiary, the water garden, and the succulents). Tour reservations? You can make those. Special events? There's a calendar for that. Having that longing for springtime and blossoms and birds and soft sunshine finally fulfilled with a grand garden's re-opening? Oh so nice. When nature-filled outdoor places start to open the proverbial doors, that's almost a good a sign that spring is due as a new nest in the oak tree outside or camellias popping as they so nicely do come this time of year.

Photo Credit: Ganna Walska Lotusland]]>
<![CDATA[Capital Crafts: Sacramento Beer Week]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:08:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_032114_beer_gi.jpg

HOW TO TACKLE THAT FOAMY FLIGHT: Every beer buff under the hops-ripening sun has lofty, been-there advice on how to best approach a four- or eight-glass flight of tony brews. There's the time-honored tradition of going with the lighter flavors, wheatier hues first, rather than tackling the beers that are so heavy you'd think they're part cake batter. But some brew mavens would simply say "have it" -- if there's a certain hue of beer you favor, well, start with that one, and then work your way along the row towards those brews that are more of a mystery. Sacramento Beer Week, which is actually a bit more than a week, which makes sense given Sacramento's rise and rise as a beer-making town of towns, is very much about the good stuff, but letting people be relaxed as they approach it. No one is going to scold you for wanting to take a sip of a heavier IPA first in that flight, if that's your wish; the scholars and beerheads and foam fans who organize and oversee the week are very much about Good Times First.

AND, OH, THEY'RE PLENTIFUL: As mentioned, Beer Week is really about a week-and-a-halfer, so plan on all of the hopsy happenings going down from Thursday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 8. There's a full on IPA takeover at 36 Handles to kick the week off on Thursday, Feb. 26, with IPAs filling out "all 36 taps." The Sacramento Brewers' Showcase also starts things out on the 26th, at the California Auto Museum, but the beer-oriented learning and tasting head straight through the first week of March, wrapping with Capitol Beer Fest. A Beer as Food event at the Oak Park Brewing Company intrigues, as do the Craft Beer and Bacon Pairings at Auburn Alehouse.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR NORCAL BREWERS? A whole bouquet of them will pop up during the week-plus, and the Capitol Beer Fest'll be the place to catch up with what they've got on the horizon. Bike Dog Brewing Company of Sacramento, FoxCraft Hard Cider Co. of Mendocino, and Heretic Brewing Company of Fairfield will all be in the house.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Quirky Free: San Diego Spring Busker Fest]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:44:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sdbuskermusic2345.jpg

BE CLEVER, BE QUICK: A person can find connection with most every occupation and passion, even if that pursuit has never actually been something they've pursued or made a part of their day-to-day. Take buskering, that outlandish and lively artistic calling. It's street art, if you're trying to place where you've encountered buskering before, so if you're picturing mimes or a unicyclist or harlequins on stilts or someone juggling vases, you're in the right quirky corner. Even if you've never buskered, or performed anything ever, you have something in common with these talented bards of the boulevard, if you've ever had to put together a project or a plan and catch eyes quickly. We've all been there, in our working lives, at one time or another, which brings us closer, in spirit to the hard, hard work a busker does: They have to catch the attention of passerby, fast.

THOSE AMAZING BUSKERS... must then delight those pedestrians, and keep them laughing/wowing/scratching their heads, because pedestrians can stroll off at any moment. So we pause to applaud the buskers of the world, and the challenge they face beyond the challenges of their act: gaining notice quickly. If you're intrigued, and buskering is about the most intriguing of lickety-split, stop-and-watch art forms, be in San Diego's Seaport Village on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, where a whole bevy of buskers will be out in fantastical force at Spring Busker Fest.

IT'S FREE TO SEE... and boasts a wide range of acts. Past performers have included "Balloon Man" Skip Banks -- picture a guy climbing inside a giant balloon -- and unicycling juggler Bekah Smith. Who will juggle/unicycle/drum/balance/tumble their way into your street-art-loving heart in 2015? Best clear an afternoon for standing and smiling at some of the most difficult of creative callings. If we consider how hard we've worked in our own lives to catch an eye, ponder the performer who must do so, while juggling, atop a stack of teetering boxes. Let's doff our clown-cute top hats, a sartorial staple of buskering, to the buskers of the world.

Photo Credit: San Diego Spring Busker Fest]]>
<![CDATA[Beer Camp: Go to Suds School at Sierra Nevada]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:56:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sierranevadahops293213.jpg

HOP TO IT: If you've ever strolled through Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico on a tour, and you're something of a home brewer, you've likely gazed about with envious eyes. The employees are so knowledgeable about the 36-year-old brewery's history, character, and many iconic releases, the facility is so spacious and state-of-the-art, and the room where tour attendees get to stop and rub the hops in their hands, the better to enjoy the aroma... it's a slice of nose-pungent heaven, if you're into strong hoppy scents. Even if you can't get a dream job at the famous brewhouse, you can try for three dreamy days of learning all about libations of the beery sort. It's called Beer Camp, and Sierra Nevada hosts those selected entrants who make a winning video about why they should attend. Can you, dear craft brew lover, create an impassioned and clever plea as to why you need to spend June 17 through 19 in Chico, getting all of the know-how you need to rise, foam-like, in the world of beer-based artistry.

VIDEOS TO PERUSE: There are already some videos up on the site, so you can check out the vibe of what your co-entrants are doing, while you plot your own individual video. "We are looking for creativity!" says the Sierra Nevada site, so go the distance, imaginative people. The deadline for your video is the last day of March 2015, and there are some things to do and things to avoid. Check it all out, sudsy cineastes.

IF YOU WIN... there's a tour of the brewery (be sure to eye all of those rooftop solar panels helping the beer inside rise to its best) and there are visits with the "mad beer scientists" behind the Quality Assurance and Packaging Labs. Fun fun, but the fun continues when you "learn the science behind beer storage and chemistry." Will you win? Can you go the zingy distance, and get picked, meaning you'll get the opportunity to discover how to make your ales and IPAs the very best they can be? Time to make that video, over-21-ers, and maybe, foamy fingers crossed, spend a few days deep within the not-so-secret, totally-wicked-awesome backrooms of Sierra Nevada Brewery. 

Photo Credit: Sierra Nevada Brewery]]>
<![CDATA[Camp Indoors: South Lake Tahoe's Basecamp Hotel]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 06:42:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/greatindoorstahoe12.jpeg

TREES, TENT, BUT NO RAIN: Acting as though the world is divided into two types of people -- people who want to rough it under a canopy of rain-drippy treetops and people who will only order from room service if the meal is served alongside a linen napkin -- is to do a disservice to all travelers. We all possess some facets to our personality that respond to both kinds of getaways, be they indoor or outdoor. Do we adore the idea of adventure, of a tent, of trees, and sky? Many do. Would it be nice to have a bathroom right there, and maybe a comforter that isn't too damp, and soft carpeting rather than hard ground? That's pretty to find, too, when on vacation. But it can be a challenge to find a winning, and charming, combination of the two.

LOOK TO RUSTIC-QUIRKY DESTINATIONS... like South Lake Tahoe's Basecamp Hotel, an inside-meets-outside medley of lanterns and bear prints and, yes, a tent inside a room. Everything at Basecamp, which five minutes, on foot, to the lake and even less than that to the Heavenly Gondola, is under roof, but not under the rules of traditional hotel decor. Call it a campout, but without the piece of lumpy bark under your back all night long. The hotel's founder Christian Strobel wanted to bring the "spirit of exploration" to his property, which mirrors "the ideals of a base camp." It has been delivering that communal-nice feeling, but with the privacy of individual hotel rooms, since the summer of 2012.

LOOK, WE'RE NOT BAGGING ON THE BARK -- that's part of camping fun, feeling the earth under you as you snooze -- but staying in The Great Indoors, one of the hotel's theme-sweet suites, will give you that tent-specific taste, but with a bed. The tent is indeed over the bed, and across from it? A wall of trees, plus benches, plus a faux campfire. Stars that glow lend some night-sky cuteness to the accommodations, and camping chairs are for your chillaxing pleasure. There's wifi and a walk-in shower, to remind you you're actually in a hotel room and not near some remote stream. If you don't require a bed-inside-tent sitch, ponder booking an Explorers Club room, or the Mountain View Suite. Every room has a touch of the wilder world, but brought inside, stylishly. Thank goodness there's a middle place for lovers of outdoorsy adventure who have to have nice bedding and a walk-in shower, too.

Photo Credit: Basecamp Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[Rain Forest Weekends at Roaring Camp Railroads]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:08:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/rainforestweekends.jpg

SO MANY PLACES TO LOOK: If you asked a lover of vintage trains and a lover of forests and a lover of weekend outings and a lover of people-watching what most grasps their attention when everything great seems to be happening at once, you're apt to get an answer that goes along the lines of "all of it." You've been there, in a pleasant place, where much is going down: You're trying to soak it in, and memorize every last detail, which means that your eyes and ears are darting all over the dang place (if ears could be said to actually dart). But picking out one major element of an outing, for your full focus, is often the better route.

THE EXTRA CONCENTRATION... pays rewards later on, when you rhapsodize about what you admired via that singular focus. And deserving of our singular focus, as often as we can give it, are our coastal redwoods, those bark-laden behemoths that dot our state's water-close regions. The Roaring Camp Railroads wends by a number of redwoods along its Santa Cruz Mountains route, redwoods that can always be seen regardless of the theme of the trip (Halloween, the holidays, heritage happenings). But what if the sentinels that stand near the tracks, or not too far, at least, were given their own from-the-train spotlight of sorts? Then you'd have a...

RAIN FOREST WEEKEND... which is going on through March at Roaring Camp. The trains'll consider those giants and how "the forest flourishes in moderate temperatures and a year-round water supply provided by the Pacific systems and dense fog." Fascinating facts for all forest fans, and if you love trains as dearly as the woods they roam? This could be your double-the-delight ride. The Rain Forest Rides are happening every Saturday and Sunday through the end of March. Here's a question we'd ask from the rails: How much smaller were the trees when Roaring Camp was founded back in the mid-1800s? Probably not too much smaller, given a redwood's rather epic timeline. There are many trains in the world, but only a fortunate few visit some of the tallest living things on the planet.

Photo Credit: Roaring Camp Railroads]]>
<![CDATA[All-Zinfandel Paso Robles Weekend]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:13:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bottleshutterstock123456789.jpg

THE SPICIEST OF SIPS: While there are some truly palate-tickling wines out there, the zingiest of the zingy, no one wine can summon a description that includes "spicy" as often as zinfandel. Maybe it is because it has very strong ties to the Golden State, a pretty zingy, spicy, palate-strong region, or maybe it is because a sipper can expect more of a laid-back blush experience which isn't always what a zin delivers. Cabernets can be strong and chardonnays lighter but zinfandel isn't filling the gap between: It occupies its own powerful space, full of personality -- or wineality -- and presence. The flavor-packing grapes get their due at numerous wineries and happenings around their home turf, but few California wine weekends can rival the one that lands in Paso Robles at the start of springtime. It's a full-on zinfandel weekend, complete with a pair of grape-y gatherings under the single header of Zinposium.

SPICY SEMINARS: The Zinposium includes both the 100% Zinfandel Seminar and the Zinfandel Blends Seminar, both of which take place at the Paso Robles Inn. "Each seminar will feature a panel of six different winemakers that will guide you through the heritage grape of Paso Robles Wine Country." Joining the seminars are wine houses such as Tobin James Cellars and Chronic Cellars Winery. The weekend? All of that zingy libation liquid loveliness gets a-flowin' over March 20 through 22. And isn't zinfandel a nice winter-into-spring kind of wine? There's some hearty body there, for colder temps, but enough kapow and brightness to bring warmer days to mind.

PASO'S BEST BOTTLES: For all of the wine-focused to-dos on the Paso Robles Wine Country calendar -- and they do burble up come the spring and summer -- leave a wine charm on this page, so you'll remember to return.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[First Flower Report: Joshua Tree Wildflowers]]> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 09:32:04 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/205*120/ActonsBrittlebushEnceliaactoniRHannawacker.jpg

BUDS AMONG THE BOULDERS: It's not difficult to find delightful sights to capture your attention while inside Joshua Tree National Park. The boulders, for one, which seems to take on different hues and levels of softness and hardness during the day, depending on where the sun happens to be in the sky. (We won't rank them, but, truly, isn't that time that falls about an hour or two before sunset the most marvelous at all, for creamy golden boulder-beautiful hues?) Then there are all of those cholla cactus, and the overlook that allows you to take a peek at the San Andreas Fault, and the big sky, and the clouds, and, and, and... Well, the things to admire within the desert expanse are pretty numerous. But each springtime, if we floral fans are lucky, and if precipitation has been on our side, we get one more thing to admire, for a brief time, if it shows up and if we know where to look: wildflowers. California's most arid regions are not wildflower-less, as anyone who has made the trek to Death Valley or the Anza-Borrego around March knows (especially if they've been out following a rainy winter). It's a sight from a fairytale book, bright yellow petals against the backdrop of a hard-dirt ground, but one that is making its debut for 2015. For...

THE FIRST FLOWER REPORT... of Joshua Tree National Park was posted ahead of Valentine's Day on the park's Facebook page, and it is promising. "The chuparosa (Justicia californica) bushes are starting to show their best" as are "bladderpod bushes" and "desert globe mallow." And if you know Smoke Tree Wash, look for a bud-filled Bush Peppergrass. One charming note from the Feb. 13 report? That ocotillo blooms at Pinto Basin Road are being "guarded by hummingbirds." Certainly a hummingbird knows a good thing when a good thing is found.

FIND YOUR GOOD THING HERE... flower lovers, and keep a watch for weekly reports throughout the springtime.

Photo Credit: NPS/Robb Hannawacker]]>
<![CDATA[Savory Contest Sutter Home's Build a Better Burger]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:48:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SutterHomeBuildaBetterBurger2015FinalistApresSkiTripleGingerBaconBurger.jpg

FINALISTS REVEALED: Well, we don't even know where to begin with you, if you're the sort of person who attends a barbecue but retreats to the privacy of the kitchen to dress your burger. If you're the sort of eater who favors offbeat ingredients, or unusual combinations of toppings and condiments, then you've likely had a private moment with your plate while all of the ketchup-favorers and cheese-only people are in the backyard, munching away. You've dug through the host's refrigerator for marmalade, and blue cheese, and maybe yogurt, and maybe Sriracha. Maybe you diced up a hard-boiled egg, too, and grabbed a handful of arugula. And when you slipped back outside, to the barbecue, and your pals asked you why your burger was stacked so high, you could only shrug, smile, and nosh away. If this is you, you needn't feel the shame of slipping away to the kitchen for your offbeat burger any longer. You are a star, in the world of the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest.

THE ANNUAL CONTEST... culminates in a springtime cook-off at the winery's St. Helena headquarters, but home burger builders get to plotting their patty additions months of time (or even years). The 2014 finalists were just announced in mid-February, which gives potential 2015 finalists some inspiration in the whole recipe-making department. Among those chosen to push their burger to savory superstardom in May? Priscilla Yee's Chorizo Beef Burger, with orange piquillo relish and smoky tomato aioli and Jennifer Gentry's Apres Ski Triple Ginger Bacon Burger, with rosemary onion rings and brie. 

THINK YOU HAVE THE STUFF... to show off your stuff, and loaded beauty of a burger, at St. Helena down the road? And walk away with that oh-so-longed-for $25,000 grand prize? Study up on all things savory, Sutter Home-style, and what the finalists did that got them noticed. And then retreat to the corner of the kitchen while the others just go the usual condiment route.

Photo Credit: Sutter Home]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Cruz Quirky: Costume-Up, Run Into Ocean]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 15:48:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/polarplungesantacruz134.jpg

EVERYBODY PLUNGE: If we were a beach -- not a big one, and not an especially popular one, mind you, but just any ol' sandy shore along the ocean or a big lake -- we might get a mite jealous if humans did not organize an annual Polar Plunge at our waterfront, each and every year. What's the reason for our envy? Just that so many of our fellow beaches, from Huntington Beach all the way up to Humboldt Bay and over to Lake Tahoe, do the whole "everybody take most everything off and run into the chilly water to raise money for charity!" It's a good plan, a funny one, one that gets a lot of play on social media (meaning more money is raised, fingers crossed), and people bound to a workaday world like getting rather silly come Saturday. Nope, Polar Plunges aren't just for New Year's Day nowadays, though, worldwide, that's the date they're most often attached to, but they show up throughout the wintertime at various spots. The next spot to host one? Santa Cruz, right near the boardwalk, and this go-around is more about gussying-up (rather than showing some skin). Participants are invited to wear a costume as they dash into the not-too-chilly ocean.

OKAY, SATURDAY, FEB. 28... will be plenty cold in the Pacific, though given the fact that spring is on the horizon, the goosebumps should dissipate pretty darn quickly. The funds raised from the day "benefit the more than 19,960 Special Olympics athletes in Northern California & Nevada!" And you don't have to Plunge to raise funds -- even a toe dip is cool, or staying out all together (yep, you're designated a "Chicken," but you'll just have to run with that adorable label and wear some feathers as you stand on the beach). Even if you don't take part, it'll be a pretty memorable sight, full of costumes, if you like the color of the boardwalk and outlandish revelers and the ocean. And we all do.

IS HOT STEAMY LIQUID... more your thing? The boardwalks hosts its annual chowder showdown the Saturday before the Polar Plunge, on Feb. 21. Better chowder-up if you're going to do the sand-to-water dash the following week.

Photo Credit: Kelley L. Cox (KLC Photos)]]>
<![CDATA[Nevada City Charm: The Inn Town Campground]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 17:19:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/228*120/airstreamInnTownCampgroundKatAlvesPhotography.jpg

NEVADA CITY CHOICES: If you've ever hemmed and hawed and pondered and mulled over a Gold Country getaway -- and hemming and pondering and approaching the topic in a laidback fashion is oh-so-necessary, if you want to match the easy style of living to be found up in the Sierra foothills -- then you've found yourself facing some delightful dilemmas. One? Is this a trip about wine tasting, local history, the eating of good food, or the enjoying of nature? Well, that's the only true question, and there's only one true answer: D. (Doesn't "D" always stand in for "all of the above"?)

THE TOWNS OF THE RAMBLING REGION... are close enough to each other that you can do all four things, and maybe four more beyond those, without too much exertion, within a long weekend. But where to stay? That question is always a hard one, even in a place as compact as that charming Nevada City. You have a clutch of colorful motels, B&Bs, and 1800s-y hotels to choose from, but drive into the countryside and you can soon snooze under the pines, by a river. If only you could have both city and country for the place you stay.

YOU CAN: Nope, they haven't developed an open-ceiling motel yet, where you can stare at treetops, but you can daydream about the coming of Nevada City's Inn Town Campground, a vision of Erin and Dan Thiem of the Outside Inn (you know this place, the one with the quaint vegetable stand out front that implores passersby to take-one-leave-one, and all of those themed rooms). So is the Inn Town Campground, which has an opening date of 2016, actually in town?

PRACTICALLY: The Inn Town Campground's info-packed site, which includes a blog and lots of photos about the construction's progress, says the "future campground is located on an historic 15-acre site, just under two miles from downtown Nevada City." The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is just a hop/skip away, but if you stick close to camp you'll find a camp store, laundry, kitchen, and other help-you-out things. But you won't be out deep-deep in the forest -- if you want that fancy-plate-fancy-silverware dinner, you're not far from the great restaurants of Broad Street (and the great eateries near Broad Street, too). Want to follow the campground's coming-together, and start planning an away-from-it-all camping trip that's sorta kinda in a town? And a lively, funky, camper friendly town at that? Dream on here, tent-pitchers.

Photo Credit: Kat Alves Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Drink of the Desert: Date Shake]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 06:40:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/hadleysdate12345.JPG

SUNNY SUPPING: What are the go-to eats of desert dining? Some might say various foods served inside other, cooler foods (cooler meaning temperature, of course). Think a scoop of cottage cheese nestled inside a grapefruit half or shrimp salad looking perfectly pink against a backdrop of creamy avocado. Drink-wise, fans of a more arid resort region will cite the Arnold Palmer as a seen-everywhere beverage, though whether it needs more lemonade, or more iced tea, to reach that perfect flavor note, is up to the individual Arnold Palmer fan. Mimosas are popular, and anything iced, too (coffee, lattes, chais), but let us pause and doff our sunhat to that king of desert -- and dessert -- creaminess, an unlikely candidate in the legion of libations that kind of trumps all other comers in the popular drinks category.

IT'S THE DATE SHAKE, a decades-old treat that rose with the Palm Springs-to-the-Salton-Sea popularity of the fruit, and the roadside stands of the early 20th century. To some the notion that a thicker drink, that doesn't have a refreshing component, might have the most local cred seems unlikely, but you can't stop the sweet-plus-fruit train that is a classic, sipped-through-a-straw date shake. Springtime might just be its best time, too, at least where visitors are concerned. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is about to take early spring by stylish, sound-laden storm, meaning many a highway traveler will toodle by...

HADLEY FRUIT ORCHARDS: The Cabazon, freeway-close stand that trumpets "since 1931" on its sign, a sign that can be seen from waaaay down the 10. The date shake, and date banana shake, can be enjoyed neat or with a sprinkle of cinnamon (the shaker is generally on the counter). And the cost? The largest of the Hadley's treats goes for just under a fiver, plus tax. Other stands throughout the region, like Shields in Indio, also do a mighty fine date shake, so be on the lookout for milkshake opportunities (always good advice). We're guessing that with the springtime desert hugely attended spectacles coming up, a few people might sample one for the first time, ever. Lucky them. Now, which beverage deserves the desert's crown: the date shake or the Arnold Palmer? Discuss as you drive, 10 Freewayers.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Barrel-Tasting Sublime: Sonoma's Wine Road Celebrates]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:16:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2011JordanWinemakingBarrelsandTanksCreditDamonMattsonHR.jpg

WHEN A SIP HAS A SEQUEL: Multi-parters and cliffhangers and sequels -- and sequels of sequels -- are the stuff of Netflix binges and summertime cinema blockbusters. But the thrilling concept of what's down the road, dun dun dun, dramatic music, finds some fun purchase every late wintertime in Northern Sonoma. That's when the annual Barrel Tasting weekends roll out along the Wine Road, and that's when oenophiles take a chance on wine futures. If you've never gone the read-the-future-route, at least with a swanky wine tasting, here's the deal: You taste the wine now, before it has been bottled, straight from the proverbial barrel -- or nearly, in some cases -- and then you purchase your favorite sips. But you don't drive away with a box of what you tasted, no sirree. This has a sequel, as mentioned, meaning you'll return to the vineyard in a year, or perhaps 18 months, after all of that liquid goodness has been be-bottled, and you'll pick up what you bought. You see the future concept? The "stay tuned" fun of it? Of course you do, and you see the fun of trying different wines, with an eye of how they might be months from now, over two March weekends: Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8 and Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15.

WINE ROAD PARTICIPANTS: A whole barrel-packed caboodle of wineries have signed on for the 2015 try-'em-out, from Collier Falls Vineyards to Mounts Family Winery to Robert Young Estate Winery. Over 100 places are participating, though not all on the Fridays of each weekend and some are only in the swing of things over one weekend, not both (translation: check the list before heading out). Are you into predicting the future? Will the wine you swished in March 2015 be your favorite wine at Christmas 2016? Better peer into the future-telling device of your choice, and pick up your tickets, stat. The weekends are $43.50 each, plus a fee, and there's a designated driver ticket available, too. That the Barrel Tasting has been around for the better part of four decades says that the futures have been good for thousands of vino fans. Are you a futurist? Then you may be in luck.

Photo Credit: Damon Mattson]]>
<![CDATA[Merry Murphys: Celebrate Irish Day]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 08:41:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/murphysirishdays23456.JPG

GOLD COUNTRY GOES EIRE: So many spots around the Sierra Foothills have ties to heritages found further afield and even far across the oceans, thanks to the many globetrotters who arrived in the area, around the middle of the 19th century, in search of the shiny stuff. Murphys, which is tucked in along the road up the Sierra to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, has that storied, tale-tall Gold Rush history, thanks to the two brothers who founded it, Daniel and John Murphy. (The colorful reason why the town name lacks an apostrophe can be found at the town's internet HQ.) Remembering its past, and doing one of the things Murphys does best -- which is celebrate, as you'll know if you've ever gone wine-tasting along the main stretch -- all adds up to a very convivial St. Patrick's Day celebration. Which actually isn't called St. Patrick's Day, nor is it on St. Patrick's Day, at least in 2015. Rather, Irish Day unfurls, with a parade and bagpipes and cheer, on the Saturday following St. Patrick's Day.

THAT'S SATURDAY, MARCH 21... and the "Celebration of the Irish" is free to all. That means you get to enjoy the music-nice parade and the art-packed booths and the jugglers and the singers and such. You'll want to bring some cash for eating (there's a pancake breakfast) and all of those wine-tasting rooms the burg is known for. And will there be pony rides for the young merrymakers? Indeed. And other small-town sweetnesses that come with a Sierra-style laidback-a-tude, one that reflects Murphys ye olde Gold Rush-y roots? A big yes. And that laidback-a-tude is one of the reasons that the town remains a must-visit on Gold Country maps and drives.

SHOULD YOU ADD A CALAVERAS BIG TREES VISIT? Of course -- it really is not too far up the road, all told. Angels Camp is nearby, too, and Sonora isn't far. But being in Murphys on St. Patrick's Day, or, scratch that, a Saturday close to St. Patrick's Day is to summon that small-town spirit and match it with a bit of shamrock-y high jinks. 

Photo Credit: Murphys]]>
<![CDATA[Marin Show: Art of the Americas]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:05:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/196*120/artoftheamericas12m34.jpg

A RARE CHANCE: Many an artistic calling requires a meticulous hand and a careful eye and the ability to go deep into the design, carefully considering stitch after stitch or brushstroke after brushstroke, while always keeping the ultimate whole in sight. Basketweaving is such an elevated form, one that has an important utilitarian purpose that co-exists with its art-lovely look. To see a weaver at work is to understand that methodical commitment to both a basket's role as a vessel and its more esoteric but essential purpose to delight the viewer, tell a story, and reveal more about the artist and the story she or he wants to tell. One of the best places to see this discipline unfold is at the annual Marin Show: Art of the Americas, which celebrates its 31st year at the Marin Center in San Rafael from Friday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 22.

THE THEME... of the 2015 gathering is "Yesterday and Today," so look for history-filled works as well as modern entries aplenty. One of the special parts of the three-day extravaganza is the chance to observe "master weavers on site demonstrating the techniques and skill of the lost art." The Marin Show is billed as a "major traveling exhibition of California Indian basketry," so this is absolutely the spot to start learning more about the ancient art form, one that is still very much practiced nowadays. Other arts displayed will include jewelry, textiles, paintings, photography, and more.

ON THE SCHEDULE: Look for a comparison "over 150 historic -- and seldom displayed -- California Indian basket from the Collection of the California Academy of Sciences with 45 contemporary baskets created by CIBA master weavers." The California Indian Basketweavers Association is presenting the show in association with the Academy. Lectures, special events, and a hands-on basket activity for kids round out the weekend. It's a weekend devoted to a calling that is ever-present, always beautiful, and a rare treat to behold from up-close, with weavers at the ready to discuss technique and inspiration.

Photo Credit: Marin Show]]>
<![CDATA[Re-Opening April 1: The Wawona]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:25:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WawonaYosemite.jpg

SPRINGTIME DEBUT: So many marvelous things begin to bud and flower and get leafy and get green come the early days of April. Walk through any garden or along any nature path and you're bound to see stems pushing through soft earth, awakened by the season for awakening and, just perhaps, a few rain showers and promising weather events, too. But other non-leafy, non-flowery things zing into spring, too, and some of them happen to be made of wood and brick and carpeting. We speak of those businesses that take the wintertime off, or rather shutter for the colder months. Some venues still do this, following the more old-fashioned tradition of observing a season for being open. It's quaint, it charms, and it doesn't follow the path of this get-it-all-any-time world (and that's okay; we must ask if we need it all all the time in this day and age).

ONE OF THE MAIN DESTINATIONS... to keep to a warm-weather schedule is the landmark Wawona Hotel, of Yosemite National Park. Yes, you're right -- Theodore Roosevelt did stay there, back in the day, and a host of nature-minded luminaries. And, yes, you're right again -- Mariposa Grove, that stately expanse dotted with sequoias, is the Wawona's nearby neighbor. So do you desire some history and some looking up -- way, way up -- when the white, porch-lined, multi-building hotel re-debuts? Then mark your calendar for...

APRIL 1: No fooling -- that's the opening date, which we love, because vacations should be lighthearted, or at least often are. There are a few packages to eye, like the Wawona's Make History Package (you'll definitely hear tales of Teddy Roosevelt and more greats who've stayed), or you can simply make for the sequoias. Or, further afield, of course, Yosemite Valley, which is apiece up the road ("apiece"=about an hour). Note that restoration projects are going on around Mariposa Grove, which may close partially or fully later in 2015. Want to take a peek before that? Get there before July 2015.

Photo Credit: DNC Parks & Resorts]]>
<![CDATA[Whale Watch: Mendo Fetes the Big Mammals]]> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 09:33:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PointCabrillo12.jpg

PROGRESSIVE WHALE-WATCHING PARTY: Wintertime, at least late wintertime, is not the biggest time of year for progressive dinner parties. Surely you've been to one, or know someone who has: You start at the first host's apartment, for drinks, and then progressively visit other homes during the evening for salad, dinner, dessert, and so forth. It's a convivial concept, but one most often seen during the holidays (though summer block parties and neighborhood barbecues frequently run with the idea as well). But March? We're not sure if there is a dearth of to-dos focusing on the several-host event, but we're more likely to hear of St. Patrick's parades and spring break. Oh yes, and whales, at least if you live along the California coast. Those migrating mammals are late-winter favorites of those who own binoculars and those who stand atop bluffs hoping to catch quick sight of a fluke, binocs or not. But how to apply the progressive party notion to those giants who are just passing by our coastal towns? You go the Mendocino County route, of course, and you schedule three distinct whale-themed weekends in three ocean-snug burgs over a good chunk of the third month of the year. The whale-watcher of a wingding kicks off in Mendocino on...

MARCH 7 AND 8... and then moves onto Little River the next weekend and then Fort Bragg the weekend after that. It's truly a progressive party made for nature mavens, and there are plenty of courses to enjoy (including some that are actually food). Look for whale-watch walks led by docents, wildlife exhibits, pirate tales, local wine and appetizer tastings, chowder tastings, beer tastings, sea cave tours (by kayak, fun fun), boat tours, and lighthouse love. Each town puts their own spin on the whale festival theme, so look for distinct happenings in each. We mean, that's how a progressive dinner party goes, right? Each hostess wants to do something a little different. Same with Mendocino, Little River, and Fort Bragg. The world of whales is definitely broad enough that three full weekends in three different places can offer plenty for the whaleans among us. And we're all whaleans at heart, whether we keep watch atop bluffs or simply support our blowhole-y brethren, wherever they, and we, happen to be.

Photo Credit: Mendocino Whale Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Valentine's in the California State Parks]]> Sat, 14 Feb 2015 09:16:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*126/579823_10151562163505209_1750067275_n.jpg

PICTURE THIS: When you think of our national park system and the California State Parks, do you picture two tree-loving titans of nature-tastic majesty? Do you see twin engines encouraging people to get outside to a place where they might feel dappling sunbeams pouring down through a pine's gentle branches, light that falls gently upon their inside-too-often faces? It is a duo of mammoth proportions, so we, for one, would never suggest one or over the other. When we're in a national park we simultaneously wish we had a foot in a state park, and vice versa. Call it Wanting-to-Be-Everywhere-All-at-Once-itis, and all nature lovers have it, from time to time; you're at the beach and you desire mountains, you're in the desert and you want snow. So let us love upon both as we head into the mondo, three-day, Valentine's and Presidents Day and Mardi Gras Weekend 2015. The national parks will be fee-free, at least those that charge entrance fees, and California State Parks? Well, they've kindly recommended some good spots to go with your sweetheart, if you want to partake in the majesty of the wild world with someone who makes your heart go thumpity-thump. 

THUMPITY-THUMP... is also a reaction many people have in nature, and thank goodness: It excites. Take, for instance, the possible viewing of bald eagles during a free bald eagle barge tour at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, one of the California Parks recommendations for a Valentine's excursion. Or a bird walk at the Tijuana River Estuary Reserve, which happens on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month (another hearts-afire pick from the State Parks people). Or one of the suggestions State Park fans are leaving on the official Facebook page. Why can't Valentine's and the outdoors go hand-in-hand? It isn't a holiday just about dancing and low-lit dinners, two activities, we'd like to kindly point out, that can happen near a tree, a river, or in loads of outdoorsy spots. (We'd use a mini flashlight in place of a candle, but that's just us.) So, to go national or state during this long, play-in-a-park, holiday-filled three-day weekend? Oh, let's just do both. 

AND DON'T FORGET... these adorable Valentines that California State Parks posted last year. We'd send them to our honey as an invitation to hike.

Photo Credit: California State Parks]]>
<![CDATA[Arcata Offbeat: Polka-Dotted 16-Foot Pony on Wheels]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:55:04 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/207*120/6738Ppinkpony222.jpg

A PERSON WHO LOVES WHIMSY ON WHEELS... can be at a lost come the middle of wintertime. Everything is on sleds and skis, at least in advertising and colder climes, and strange vehicles with odd paint jobs or weird rudders or puffing smoke cannot be found.

OH, SURE... some of that turns up around Halloween, and Pasadena's annual Rose Parade is known for fantastical moving machines, too, but all one can do, come the start of the year, is turn a longing eye towards Memorial Day Weekend, when the Kinetic Grand Championship arrives in Humboldt County. The "Grand" isn't messing around, either: This is where the best-of-the-best, in terms of kinetic and outlandish and ingenious builds, come to play. But getting to May may be too much for the whimsical-wheel lover who calls Humboldt County home (or wish he or she did, like so many people outside of the county do). Thank goodness a sixteen-foot-tall pink polka-dotted pony, complete with a single peg leg, will be calling upon the H.C. on Valentine's Day 2015. 

LOOK FOR THIS CUTE CREATURE... in front of Holly Yashi Jewelry in Arcata. The artist behind the rolling beastie is Lush Newton, and the engineer? He's Mr. James Hildebrandt. (Shout-out to the frequent artist/engineer collaborations seen on kinetic and non-kinetic projects around the county.) The pony will show across from the jewelry store, which is known for pieces made with niobium, "weather permitting." And it can get a mite rainy there, so keep that in mind. Even if you miss this merry animal, let it cheer your innermost heart that sometimes Humboldt County is so dang Humboldt-y in all of the creative, quirky ways. And be cheered that the kinetic high jinks are just over a fourth of a year away. Dream of polka-dotted ponies as you wait out the wait.

Photo Credit: Malia Penhall/Redwoods.info]]>
<![CDATA[New: Historic Hotel Romance Super Site]]> Sun, 15 Feb 2015 10:44:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pasoroblesinnfront1.jpg

HISTORY WITH YOUR HONEY: It has was perceived, in the past, that outings involving a landmark building, a structure with stories from past decades or even centuries, should be of a serious and even somber nature. Many bygone tales and facts from forever ago are to be met with a steady gaze and a nod of the head, and other travel factors that play large elsewhere -- say, like romance -- are best saved for another location. This makes sense for many historical destinations, which do deserve our respect and attention, but what of the fabled, long-standing hotel? It is a place of history, for sure, but hotels are also known for weddings and honeymoons and places to spark a romance. It is a good reminder from the Historic Hotels of America, which is "the official program for the National Trust for Historic Preservation."

THE 260+ MEMBER HOTELS, which include La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Churchill in Washington, D.C., and Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado, of course have stories of historical and regional significance to tell, but they also have wedding-ready ballrooms, stay-over packages made for two, and a caboodle of couples-ready pleasures. So can the history and romance braid together at these properties? Oh so easily. Look to the new Romance site launched by Historic Hotels of America, and look for things like...

GARDEN STROLLS... That's the romantic, hand-in-hand suggestion for California's own Paso Robles Inn. The Romance site, which began just ahead of Valentine's Day 2015, also suggests rustic wedding locations among the Historic Hotels family, and The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco as a choice romantic getaway (the views get a particular shout-out, as they should, given that this grand dame of an inn perches atop Nob Hill). Are history and your honey two of your great loves? There's a way to appreciate both, and do so on a vacation. Find your story-rich romantic out-of-towner, now.

Photo Credit: Paso Robles Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Feeding Frenzy Tour at Monterey Bay Aquarium]]> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 09:32:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/feedingfrenzytourmba.jpg

THE STOMACH KNOWS ALL: It seems as though there are about 37 different aphorisms and wink-wink sayings that end with the words "through the stomach." As for the implication of each and every one of these tried-and-true, oft-repeated chestnuts? That to know a person, an animal, a being, through and through, you have to be schooled in what they prefer to sup upon. If you want to bargain with them, have their favorite food ready. If you want them to sit up and speak, keep their treats near. And if you want to know what keeps that being ticking, talking, swimming, squeaking, barking, or some combination of all of the above, get educated in their eats. Turns out that decades-old sayings do have some footing, now and then, or, if you prefer in this case, finning. (We imagine "finning" is to fishes what "footing" is to we humans.) The Monterey Bay Aquarium wants to give devotees of The Deep a closer view as to what is fed to the denizens of the world-famous Cannery Row institution. Not just what is fed -- you can probably guess mollusks and critters of the sea are on the menu for many residents -- but how often those beasties dine, the nutrition, the crunch (or non-crunch -- slimey, to our human eyes, seems to be one of the most-sought-after consistencies), the everything. Food and fish -- and non-fish, like otters -- is a fascinating topic, one that is delved into during the Feeding Frenzy tour.

IT'S A SPECIAL TOUR... with a special time: before the aquarium opens to the general public on "most" Thursdays and Sundays. This means you'll be on "morning rounds" with staffers, who will take guests ages 8 and older around the building, and outside, to for a "private viewing of a sea otter feeding and training session." You'll also see the food prep area, which "rivals any restaurant," says the aquarium. Last of all? You'll feed those breakfasters that boast fins (they will be so happy to see you, and whatever goodies the bucket next to you contains). Again, this is all before opening, so you and your party will feel mighty special indeed as you see later guests stream in. Telling them about what you've done may halt the flow of their aquarium day, but bet that you'll regale your foodie friends, and nature-loving friends, with stories of your food-themed visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a long time. Cost? It's sixty five dollars, plus admission.

Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium]]>
<![CDATA[Napa Valley-tine's: Chocolate, Wine, Trains, Love]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 22:23:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/192*120/grgichhillsvalentines1.jpg

EXPERIENCING NICE THINGS, SIDE BY SIDE: One of the loveliest parts about love, or so say love stories, is the staring into the eyes of your paramour, as she or he stares into yours, and murmuring "I love you" over and over (or the lovey-dovey words of your choice). But sociologists and experts and parents and friends would all say that while staring into a sweetheart's bottomless eye pools -- or however they're so romantically described, typically -- is wonderful, doing something together, in the world, is the better choice. Then you have a shared experience, to discuss and dissect, later on, when you're back home and doing the whole eye-staring, bottomless-pool-admiring thing. Napa Valley, you might have heard, is rather strong in the category of delightful shared experiences, and a number of destinations will be upping that strength for lovers, and those who simply love being out on a beautiful Saturday, come Feb. 14. Take a glance at your favorite winery to see what they have going, or make for...

GRGICH HILLS: The Rutherford-based estate is hosting a Wine & Chocolate Festival for Valentine's Weekend. If you think that fine, handcrafted hunks of cocoa-licious goodness will be paired with some silky vinos, you'd be correct. The tasting lasts about 45 minutes and is fifty dollars a person. And, please, chocolate and wine. This is sort of what you'd be eating over the weekend at some point, so why not have a guided experience? Valentine's Day just stepped up.

NAPA VALLEY WINE TRAIN: A trio of trains are running in honor of the Day o' Hearts, including one on Valentine's Eve, in case your Feb. 14 is plum full of plans. Delights like "old world charm" and "a glass of sparkling wine" await, and there are winery tours you can add onto your ride. When the soft-eyed daydream of Valentine's Day is made into a movie, this vintage rail-runner will have to make a quaint cameo, for sure.

PINE RIDGE VINEYARDS: The Sweethearts Ball gets gussied up on Friday, Feb. 13, and the setting shall match the occasion: You'll be dining in the Cabernet Caves of the Silverado Trail winemaker. Reservations are a must, and we weren't joshing about the gussy-up part; while Napa Valley observes casual chic most days, a certain February holiday calls for a little finery and fashion. Have evening gloves? A bow tie? Good and good.

Photo Credit: Grgich Hills]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Wonderlands Found: National Park Foundation Guide]]> Sat, 14 Feb 2015 09:15:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/winterwonderlands57060447.jpg

DEAR SNOW, WE MISS YOU: While many Golden Staters are experiencing frosty temperatures and flakes aplenty, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are rocking the tank top and shorts look, despite the calendar saying February. Mercury has crept skyward inside thermometers around Southern California, and beyond Southern California, too, but there are some truths. One? A heat wave during the second month of the year doesn't mean you should stow that parka, or parka-like jacket just yet, and two? Getting out to see some cold, white stuff in a gorgeous setting is a fine way to use a long weekend or some vacation days you've been meaning to use. Presidents Day Weekend is a free one around our national parks, which translates to you not paying the standard fee at the gate (at those parks that carry a fee). If you can go further afield, in Utah and Colorado, you can find national parks that are stand-outs come the coldest stretch of the year. The National Park Foundation is helping we snow-seeking park lovers out with a new guide to Winter Wonderlands. It's the sixth edition of the Owner's Guide series, and well, well, well, look at this: It's free. 

WHAT'S INSIDE: The guides consider what to do in "15 suggested destinations" during the bundle-up months, from "ice fishing and sledding, to stargazing and contra dancing." Get those ideas and destinations at the foundation's download center via this page. As for the National Park Foundation? You guessed right: It is indeed "the official charity of America's national parks." As for national parks with a little wintry goodness right here in the CA? Yosemite Falls has seen some frazil ice in recent days (an interesting event all winter buffs should bone up on). As for the aforementioned parka-like jackets? Unless a Californian resides in Truckee or Mammoth or Big Bear, our jackets are probably far more jacket-y than parka-esque. But that doesn't stop us from calling them "parkas" to feel a bit more into the swing of this winter thing. To really find snow + scenic vistas, though, best check out the Winter Wonderlands guide.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cinematic Sartorial: Movie Costumes on Display in LA]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 12:06:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fidmfeb2015alexjberliner.jpg

BIG-SCREEN TOGS BEFORE YOUR EYES: Many movie fans need a way to get closer to a favorite film. Maybe an aficionado will buy the screenplay or novelization when they're released, or perhaps the fan will pen a bit of fan fiction, or start a Tumblr blog that honors the characters and setting and themes. But one of the most immediate and visual ways a fan honors a film is to dress like its characters. We fans can't fly to Venus, should a film take place on another planet, and we can't return to 1519, because we lack time machines (or the writer of this post hasn't yet built one, at least), but we can don the jackets and dresses, or versions of them, that connect us more to characters we admire.

TRUTH TIME... Did you run out and buy a fedora after seeing Indiana Jones rock one in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"? Or a drop-waisted frock a la "The Great Gatsby"? Then you've been moved by movie fashion. And there's one place where emotion meets fandom meets fabric, style, buttons, and bows, and all for free: It's the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibit in downtown Los Angeles. A sartorial standard of awards season, the show rounds up over 100 costumes each and every year that all spring from films released in the previous year, with one exception: The film that won the Oscar for Best Costume Design the year before. 

"MALEFICENT" TO "THE FAULT IN OUR STARS": The just-opened show is on Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 25, and 20 films are covered, from "Inherent Vice" to "Into the Woods" to "Selma" to "Jersey Boys." Some of the most iconic outfits, including the dramatic "Maleficent" costume worn by Angelina Jolie and the fairytale blue gown Meryl Streep donned in "Into the Woods," are there for the looking. For sure, many people who design clothing for a living count this as a must-see, but so do film fans that long to know more about a film. And if you've taken fashion notes from the big screen before, for your own closet, we tip our hat to you (which we may have bought because we saw it in a movie). If Hollywood is indeed our collective dream factory, fashion can and does take note. What's in your closet now that you first saw at the cinema?

Photo Credit: FIDM/Alex J. Berliner]]>
<![CDATA[Sunny Supping: Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 21:24:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/foodandwinepalmdesert1234567.jpg

DINE IN THE DESERT: Eating in most environments is, well, consuming nutrients and liquids for health and enjoyment. Perhaps in the woods you might turn to easier-to-pack foods, and the beach might see more seafood-oriented meals. But desert dining is different, its own soft-evening, warm-air, al fresco foodie-tastic thing. It's toastier for much of the year, so dishes never feel heavy, only hearty, and an assortment of spices tend to be standard rather than special (though "standard" shouldn't rob them of their innate specialness, because spices rule). This vibe lends a desert-based gathering of food lovers, and those who make food and innovate the making of food, an extra-cool atmosphere. And "cool" is a fine word for the Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert happening, which is steaming and saucing and pouring and biting into its fifth outing over the final weekend in March.

OKAY... it might not exactly be "cool" around the El Paseo shopping district come that time of the year -- temps can and do flirt with the high 80s and up -- but the scene can be labeled as such, easily. Chefs like Cat Cora, Gale Gand, Lulu Powers, and Brooke Williamson will all be grabbing spatulas, or the cooking implements of their choice, as they lead fans through demos and talks. A Salute to Women luncheon opens things on Friday, March 27 -- it's a gourmet four-courser -- and a Grand Tasting goes big on Saturday, March 28 (look for "over 50 restaurants and 80 premium wineries and spirit purveyors" to both be chatting with attendees and feeding the attendees, too).

THE GRAND TASTING... continues on Sunday, to round the weekend out. Spatulas down, it is one of the desert's largest food happenings, a bigness that has been achieved in just a half decade. Perhaps that combo of lauded chefs and fine restaurants and fine sips and the chance to sup and socialize in the desert, one of the nicest places to dine, it may one day be proven, is the draw. Tickets? Better unhand your fan or mister and grab 'em soon.

Photo Credit: Food and Wine Palm Desert]]>
<![CDATA[Splashing Our Way: Yosemite Waterfall Season]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:14:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/yosemitewaterfallfb1234567.jpg

PETAL-FREE BUT FULL OF FLOW: The lover of nature, that person in constant need of outside connection, can plan much of her or his calendar by what is blooming or what is decaying. Those "whats" very often have petals and leaves, the items where we can observe the bloom or the fade, and we watch for signs and reports that foliage is nearing its peak color in the fall or that meadow blossoms are doing that full on, carpet-cool blossom thing. But there are many other natural superstars that tell the tale of the seasons, of course, and they do not arrive on the scene bearing either petal or leaf. Yep, the moon helps us here, and the sun, and the shadows and the lengths of day. Wind picks up in parts of the California desert come spring, and a number of named tidal events are notable for their annual appearance along our shores.

AND THEN THERE'S YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, which has all of the shadows and moonbeams and leaves and petals one could want, but one other major seasonal signifier, too: waterfalls. You don't need to go digging too deeply around Google, or the search engine of your choice, to figure out when the falls around Yosemite Valley start to look robust (well, fingers and weather reports crossed, of course). You can guess that springtime, following winter snows, is go time for the water-meets-gravity show. And you'd be right. And while snow has been rather hard to come by, in certain parts, this winter, the park reports that some recent rain has been a friend to the falls, in February no less, ahead of actual springtime. 

THREE INCHES OF RAIN: The park posted on Facebook that "three inches of rain" had given Yosemite Falls a boost over the first full weekend of February. You can watch this falling wonder on its webcam or keep an eye for more reports from waterfall season, which'll get cooking -- or bubbling, perhaps -- a little further into springtime. Who says only leaves and petals can tell the seasons? (Though, surely, great rushing water has seen its share of leaves and petals floating along, poetically.)

Photo Credit: Yosemite National Park]]>
<![CDATA[Taste of Solvang: The Whole Shebang Ticket]]> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:36:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tenleyfohlphotographydessertssolvang.JPG

THE FULL FOOD EXPERIENCE: Cuisine-oriented events have evolved over the decades. Once a three- or four-course dinner would give a food fan a full-picture view of a restaurant or group of restaurants, it's true, but the full-picture view has grown even fuller. Now eatsy happenings take up two or three days, long days, and the gourmet goings-on are plentiful, diverse, and a mite overwhelming, in the best, choice-nice sense. The short of it is this: If you're a foodie heading for a long weekend of food-trying, you'll likely land on one or two to-dos. But then you have Solvang, that windmill-laden land of pastry and puff-cream-jam delights, a place that piles the pretty cookies as high as the local windmills. So how does a devotee of All Things Spun Sugar approach Taste of Solvang, the Marchtime meal-marvelous festival spotlighting all of the town's treats and eats? You naturally sign on for...

THE WHOLE SHEBANG: There's really a ticket called that, for the March 20 through 22 affair, and it really is about as shebangy as you'd hope. You get into everything on the schedule, from the Sips & Sweets on Friday night, March 20 to the Grand Tasting on Saturday and Sunday to the Wine Walk to the Bubbles & Brunch on Sunday. There's no dithering over choices, because all the picks are yours to pick from. The cost? The Whole Shebang clocks in at $245, and tickets are "(e)xtremely limited." We can only fathom one reason: Foodies want it all, to snack upon everything offered, and the notion that one event'll be passed over is too frustrating to manage. So go The Whole Shebang and get your fill of craft beers, Danish bites, and a smorgaasbord of sup-worthy choices. 

WANT OTHER TICKET CHOICES? You can de-shebang Taste of Solvang, too, if need be, and only do one or two events. That's okay. That's cool. In the land of windmills and spun sugar, let us fret not when it comes to foodie fun.

Photo Credit: Tenley Fohl Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Spring Prognosticator: Meet Mojave Maxine]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:22:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/livingdesertmojavemaxine.jpg

WHEN FEBRUARY 2 ENDS: Movie lore has it that Groundhog Day doesn't ever end -- at least for Bill Murray, for a good long time -- but we know that here, in the non-cinema world, that the second day of the second month has a way of wrapping up rather predictably, in 24 hours, which is how days tend to wrap up. That means that as much as we adore Punxsutawney Phil, his plump, toothy cute-a-tude, and impressive aptitude for noticing shadows, that merry moment, one of winter's sweetest traditions, is going to come to an ending all too soon. So what do February 3 and 4 bring if we're not scanning the channels and the sites for a sight of a certain furry meteorologist? A bit of a letdown, really, if you like animals and you like weather predictions. But hang tight, Phil fans, for there's another soothsayer of the seasons, and she's right here in California. Her name is Mojave Maxine, and as her moniker might suggest, the 38-year-old desert tortoise is based in one of our arid climes. Maxine's home happens to be at the lauded Living Desert in Palm Desert, though the tortoise isn't at home to visitors at the moment. She's in her burrow, where she always is during the cooler days of the year.

BUT LIKE PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL ON FEB. 2... Mojave Maxine will make an appearance, eventually, when she's good and ready and spring, to Maxine's tortoise senses (which are just as awesome as Spidey senses), has sprung. So when will she poke her pretty face out of her burrow? That's anyone's guess, or, specifically, kindergarten through grade 12 students around Southern California. Our young scholars are invited to predict when the burrow's doors will open (well, to be poetic). The prize? A few nature-nice goodies, but, best of all, a visit from Mojave Maxine. She's a "spokestortoise" according to Joshua Tree National Park, an ambassador who regularly "travels around to teach others about her wild relatives, many of whom live in Joshua Tree." Sounds like busy Maxine's brumation -- which Joshua Tree explains is the tortoise take on hibernation -- is well-deserved. So, when will spring be here, weather buffs? Best keep eye on the sky, or, better yet, on a certain burrow Palm Desert.

Photo Credit: The Living Desert]]>
<![CDATA[Las Vegas Lavish: Lunar New Year]]> Sat, 07 Feb 2015 07:00:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/195*120/forumlunarnewyear123455.jpg

GRAND DISPLAYS: There are many ways to greet the Lunar New Year, and bevies of festivals and gatherings gearing up to celebrate, dance in, and embrace the Year of the Sheep. But few cities can top Las Vegas for grand, splashy, and glittery style when it comes to joyful displays and visual interpretations of the Lunar New Year. Bouquets and lanterns are common touches, and the animal that symbolizes the year on approach, too. And for very big, very picturesque, very free-to-see, and oh-so-beautiful representations of all that the year-to-come stands for, you'll want to slip off The Strip and into...

THE FORUM SHOPS AT CAESARS PALACE: A dragon symbolizing "power, strength, and good luck" can be found on the Fortuna Terrace. But this is no mere dragon: The "massive, 950-lb. dragon is covered in 30,000 red and amber LED lights, many of which flicker, giving the vibrant beast a vibrant look and dynamic feel." The majestic creature is 22 feet in length, six feet wide, and some 12 feet tall. There's a party in the dragon's honor, too, ahead: Students from a local school will "perform the traditional dragon parade throughout The Forum Shops" on Feb. 19 starting at 10 a.m.

BELLAGIO CONSERVATORY & BOTANICAL GARDENS: A 14-foot-tall "grassy mountain," incense diffusers, I-Ching coins, and some 22,000 flowers in shades of red and gold fill the glass-roofed nature space. The Year of the Yang is at the heart of the leafy, petal-filled display, which includes a traditional home complete with jade doorknobs, five animated goats, a 21-foot-tall lantern, and a pond full of Koi fish. While goats are the stars of the Bellagio display, look for rams to receive their Lunar New Year due "elsewhere around the resort."

Photo Credit: The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace]]>
<![CDATA[Humboldt Bay High Jinks: The Perilous Plunge]]> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:05:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/humboldtperilous1.jpg

IT'S TRUTH TIME... and we want to be fully and completely honest here. Now, if you know and love your Humboldt County, and you've attended an event or two over the years, perhaps the Kinetic Grand Championships in Ferndale or a Halloween party in Arcata or Eureka, then you know this: It doesn't take much to get a denizen of this marvelous, do-your-own-thing-and-do-it-loud county to dress up in wacky wear. People around these parts kind of stretch sartorial boundaries as a hobby, and they stretch 'em well. That's because not hiding your light, or waving your banner, or being 100% yourself, is at the heart of much of what makes Humboldt especially Humboldt-y. And it is what has given the NorCalian, Lost Coast-close, redwood-mysterious region its indomitable spirit of individuality, through and through. But here's a brain teaser for you: What if you were to ask a Humboldt County denizen to dress nuttily and jump in the bay, on the last day of February, which is very much still wintertime? Would they rise to the garishly fabulous, goosebump-inducing occasion?

OH PLEASE... You'd barely have to ask. Of course they would, and they'd love that it is for a good cause. Many a polar plunge, which this is -- the name is technically The Perilous Plunge, if you want to jot that down -- happens for a good cause, in the wintertime, but donning costumes is sometimes optional or not observed at all. (What tends to be observed: Stripping down to your barest skivvies, for maximum cold-water contact.) Feel like you want to put on your duck costume, the one with the tutu, and run into Humboldt Bay on Saturday, Feb. 28, and raise money for area kids and programs via The Discovery Museum? If you haven't done anything off-the-hook-y this year, and your resolved to liven up 2015, this is a plum chance. Plus you can let the good people of Humboldt County, those rare, true-to-themselves individual, give a colorful lesson in being an individual while coming together as a community. Well, coming together coldly, no doubt -- Humboldt Bay'll be a big brrrr. But won't you have fun, or at least great photos, and make some pals in the process.

Photo Credit: Perilous Plunge]]>
<![CDATA[Ode to Nuts: California's Crunchiest Festival]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:45:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nuts2.jpg

ON NUTELLA DAY... which happens to be Feb. 5, which we're quite sure everyone has marked on their calendars and circled on various documents, because Nutella is practically everyone's favorite eat-from-the-jar food, it does us good to pause and remember the place from which the spread sprung: the hazelnut. In fact, so many of our dips and spreads and butters and desserts and savory entrees have their foundation in nutdom that it can be difficult to completely catalog all the crunchy branches on this tasty tree. Perhaps it is because the nut, having great variety and handy smallness, can really cameo in just about any dish, be it sweet or not. (For the nut's impressive breadth look to "Best in Show" and Christopher Guest's famous nut speech.) So of course it deserves its own party, and of course it should be in California, which is often called "crunchy," a label we embrace in all the ways. And we also embrace that many, many good things grow here, including a cavalcade of nuts, from almonds to walnuts to pecans. Want to know more about this in-shell segment of the Golden State's bounty? Then be in Chico on Saturday, April 18 for...

THE CALIFORNIA NUT FESTIVAL: The place is the Patrick Ranch Museum, a ticket is $30 at the event, and the nut-a-tude? It is plentiful, like a barrel full of pistachios (another star nut of the day, in addition to the almond-walnut-pecan triad). Local wine will also be a star, because any enjoyer of vino knows that a glass of chardonnay and a bowl of salted almonds, when placed before a person, will both disappear at about the same speed. Several local food-growers and food-makers and confectioners will be selling their edible wares, too. So, what's the most royal of nuts? That's hard one, as hard as a walnut just off a tree, but one thing is certain: In a time when so many bites derive from nuts, dessert spreads and beyond, it is good to go back to the source, for a day, and spotlight the wee wonders that arrive inside their own shells.

Photo Credit: Nuts]]>
<![CDATA[SnowFest: North Lake Tahoe's Quirky Winter Fun]]> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:38:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/snowfesttahoe1234567.jpg

C'MON WINTER... you can do this. You got this. We just know, having seen it in past years, that you can deliver a whole skyful of flakes to North Tahoe ahead of Friday, Feb. 27, which is the official kick-off day for that wackily weirdly whimsicadoodle of a multi-day party, SnowFest. You know SnowFest, of course, dear winter -- you've made it quite chilly and cold and full of flakes in the years it has been around (it kicked off in '82, you'll remember). So while this season has seen its days of dearth in the whole frozen precipitation department, we're just betting you'll bring it. Because while many an outdoor-focused festival hopes for fine weather, well... SnowFest is not that festival. There are several doings that revolve around snow -- and several that don't -- and some really divine drifts for the week-plus bash would be amazing. Okay, winter, that's out of the way. Now, what will your faithful fans do once they're stationed in North Lake Tahoe, from Feb. 27 through March 8? They'll...

EAT CLAMS, BUILD SNOW SCULPTURES... join an Arctic Paddle, meet the Squaw Valley Avalanche Rescue Dogs, cheer on the Tahoe Donner Ididarun, and throw their woolly hat into the ring on a lot of different things. There are a few dozen to-dos during the week-plus SnowFest run, but many of them deal with a) food b) animals c) snow d) more cute animals e) cocktails f) entertainment and g) the enjoyment of brisk temperatures and active pursuits. If you're down with any or all of those categories, and you hold a deep Tahoe devotion (who doesn't, though?), and you have a phone line to winter and you can talk up the whole "make it snow a whole bunch" request on a lot of people's minds, SnowFest could be your bag. Think of it as the kind of small-town festival that usually takes place at the height of summer. Except it isn't summer, and the small town has a strong ski-and-water element, and it is North Lake Tahoe, one of the most delightful -- and daffiest, at least during SnowFest -- places around.

Photo Credit: SnowFest]]>
<![CDATA[Valentine's Day Among Our National Treasures]]> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 07:17:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/archesrobzabrowskishutterstock.jpg

NOT EVERY LOVEY-DOVEY DUO... walks the roses and bubbly and chocolate path. Some like to go far further than that, in the gourmet goodie department -- a room full of a sweetheart's favorite flower, for example -- while others prefer their flowers in a field. Or trees next to a meadow or grasses swaying by a brook. And they like to leave that natural beauty right where it is, untouched but not unadmired, and to share that moment with their One-and-Only. It's rather fortunate, then that our nearer-than-you-think national parks happen to be some of the most romantic places on the planet. Hike by a vista known for sunsets and you can just bet that a few hundred marriage proposals have gone down on that very spot. Stop in a timber-and-river-rock lodge for a pick-me-up and try to guess how many honeymoons have happened within the hotel's stout walls. (Answer: Very many.) And think of all the people who like flowers for Valentine's, but flowers that stay behind, growing on, when the day of hiking or picnicking is done.

THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION, the organization that "enriches America's national parks and programs through private support, safeguarding our heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts" is all about Valentine's fun in our parks, and they've got ideas. Not just ideas, but tempting incentive, too: Admission is free to every park in the system on Feb. 14, 2015.

PRESIDENTS DAY WEEKEND: It just so happens that the hearts-filled day is happening over the traditional admission-waived days that mark our presidential holidays, so people looking to honor both, and save cash getting into Yosemite, Joshua Tree, the Grand Canyon, or beyond, are in some lovely luck. If you go further afield on Valentine's Day, the Foundation has loads of ideas about how to celebrate (think sledding together at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Idaho and admiring migrating whales together from a vantage point in California's own Point Reyes National Seashore). Want Valentine's Day ideas? Click. Want to know more about the Free Entrance Days at all of our national parks? Click. Want to love our wild places forever, by visiting them, championing them, and showing you care? High fives all around.

Photo Credit: Rob Zabrowski/Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Modernism Week for Newbies]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 17:40:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/modernismweeknewbies.jpg

WHERE/HOW TO JUMP IN: If you've ever been to a friend's pad, or a posh hotel, and there's a pool on the grounds, and you're sent inside to change, and then you return to the pool's edge, there's the whole vital matter of figuring out where to slip into all of that beautiful blue water. Do you shimmy into the deep end? Go down the side ladder? Or, like many do, do you use the steps in the shallow end? Figuring out how to best enter a pretty pool is an apt comparison to make to Modernism Week in Palm Springs. Well, it is at least a thematic comparison: Pools of the mid-century sort are a common sight during the week-plus event, which takes in many of the desert region's most important and gorgeous homes and buildings (and their respective swimming pools, too, of course). So how do you take a dip, if not into the proverbial pool then the Feb. 12 through 22 mega-gathering of mid-century mavens?

THERE'S A PAGE FOR THAT: Modernism Week has posted a "For Newbies" guide to the many (many many) happenings going down around the P.S. and beyond during the middle-of-February confab. Shopping the Modernism Show & Sale at the convention center, taking a Premiere Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour, and calling upon the 2015 Show House are fine starters for the first-timer, per the Modernism Week people. Plus? The newbie site has the connection to the free happenings -- there are a few, yep yep -- and the films and the always-forever-retro-popular Vintage Trailer Show. Doing Modernism Week doesn't have to overwhelm, and you don't have to do it all -- even a long-timer can't manage that. And while the choices of events are plentiful, there are a few must-do-this-firsts. They're here, so take the plunge via this page. (And you should always enter every swimming pool via the shallow end stairs -- just a tip. Far safer, and you can enter as slowly as you like, movie god- or goddess-style.)

Photo Credit: Modernism Week]]>
<![CDATA[Glamping on Mount Diablo]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:57:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/glampingmtdiablo.jpg

SPRINGTIME SOJOURN: There's connecting with a place, and becoming one with nature, and that's all fairly easy to obtain, if one stows one's technology and outside worries and daily stresses and really enjoys the trees and the sky and the clouds and the experience. But an hour or two enjoying a walk or a picnic has a way of zipping by, like so much dandelion fluff on the wind. Going deeper into a destination, further in, has a real way of making that destination more understandable (and, yes, more complex, too -- funny how that happens). If you've been up Mount Diablo, either to admire its beacon or find its autumntime tarantulas or just to take in some grand vistas, you've known nature at some of its nicest. Now you can lift a few layers back on the Walnut Creek-close wild spot, and connect with it further, via a four-day glamping trip over the thirty-mile Diablo Trail.

YES, "GLAMPING"...  is the buzz word: You'll be "gently roughing it," say the organizers at Save Mount Diablo. This means that "staff hauls your gear and sets up your new camp while talented local chefs, from restaurants like Forbes Mill, Postino, and Sunrise Bistro create delectable meals on the spot." Just because your grass/dirt/insect/flower experience'll be a bit tonier than most doesn't mean you won't be fully invested in your walk over glen and vale; you will be, and you'll need to keep your eyes on the ready for wildflowers. Oh, did we mention this is wildflower time around Mount Diablo? It is. The dates are...

APRIL 29 THROUGH MAY 2: And many of the wildflowers will have a special story. They're fire followers, the buds that have burst through following the Morgan Fire of 2013. Your guides will tell you what to look for, and where, and provide a plethora of insights about the mountain's story, history, and character. If you've wanted to connect with this area, beyond an hour's hike, this glamping-foodie-wildflower excursion might be your way to delve into Diablo's delights.

Photo Credit: Mount Diablo]]>
<![CDATA[Valentine's Getaway: Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 10:21:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/harvestinncharliepalmer1.jpg

HEARTS AND THE HARVEST INN: When eat-icon Charlie Palmer acquired The Harvest Inn in St. Helena in late 2014, fans figured that food would be one of the central themes of the property. And so it shall be, down the road, when Harvest Table debuts. But festivities are also at the heart of the destination, which includes "heritage stone buildings and leafy cottage neighborhoods" and plenty of places to tuck in with a glass of wine. For while more is to come down the road in 2015, including the Palmer-perfect eatery, there are holidays, like Valentine's Day, and periods of time, like Cabernet Season, to celebrate. And if you jump into a late winter package, figure you can tell your fellow co-foodies that you got an early feel for the recently acquired property before that centerpiece restaurant flowers (and brings the diners out in droves).

CABERNET SEASON: A concierge will help you plan your outings among the vines if you book the Cabernet Season package, which indeed comes with its namesake sip (in the form of a gratis half-bottle). A "bountiful wine country" breakfast and other goodies are part of the package, which is a two-night-minimum dealie. Why not sip that rich libation while the weather is on the cool side? No one's saying that cabs can't be relished during the roastier days of August, but you'll wish you'd have cab'd-it-up back in February and March. (Package runs through March 31.)

VALENTINE'S DAY: Busy people who like a love-oriented getaway like to see Feb. 14 last all month long, but that isn't always possible, or available. The Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer is extending the roses-and-kisses celebration to the very end of the month with a Romance in February package that includes a bottle of sparkling wine, a box of locally made Woodhouse Chocolates, and more hearts afire festoonery.

Photo Credit: Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer]]>
<![CDATA[Disneyland at 60: The Magic Kingdom Celebrates]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 19:27:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dlat60disneyland.jpg

WHAT WERE YOU DOING... on July 17, 1955? You might have not been born yet, true, but if you had arrived on earth, and you happened to be Southern California, in the vicinity of Orange County, in the city of Anaheim, and you'd been anticipating a certain debut of a certain park for weeks and weeks and weeks (oh golly just open already), then you might have been one of the first kids to dash down Disneyland's Main Street. Even if you weren't there on that famously hot day, where the ladies had dresses and heels on and Ronald Reagan and Art Linklater wore suits, then you've seen the footage.

MANY DISNEYLAND DEVOTEES... have watched a clip of opening day, which is practically a rite of park passage. So ask yourself this: Can you describe the opening days of the other places you go? No? No memory of them? Never saw the film? Yep: Disneyland's 1955 bow was one for the books for many people, a day that's still celebrated with much fanfare every five to ten years around the resort. And if you've done the math, which we'll guess you have -- you've calculated wait times for Space Mountain in your head before, we're sure -- you've figured out that 2015 is Disneyland's 60th anniversary year, and the resort has a full 'n festive slate of celebratory happenings.

THE ANNIVERSARY LINE-UP... was rolled out over the last week in January, and includes handsome new "D" medallions for both Sleeping Beauty's Castle and Disney California Adventure's Carthay Circle Theatre (very large medallions, as you can imagine). World of Color, which is also in Disney California Adventure, gets an anniversary refresh, and the "entire resort will sparkle with Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration decor and festive banners in shades of Disneyland blue." Look also for the debuting "Paint the Night" parade and a new "Disneyland Forever" fireworks spectacular. So when does all of the newness launch? About two months ahead of its July 17 birthday: May 22 is the date when the Diamond to-dos begin. And what's this rumor of the beloved but long-gone Hatbox Ghost returning to the Haunted Mansion? Count on seeing a few surprises you may not expect. But will people be in dresses and suits much as they were on Opening Day back in 1955? Even if not, there's always Dapper Day.

Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Love at Carmel's Cypress Inn]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:48:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/puppylovecypressinn1.jpg

SPEAK, STAY, SIT, SLEEP: If you were asked at a front desk or a hotel's reception area to perform a trick for a possible upgrade, what would you do? Do you have something a little impressive up your talented sleeve? Maybe you'd juggle or do a handstand (something not typically seen in posh hotel lobbies) or you'd sing "Happy Birthday" backwards or you'd unleash a few impressions. But we're never asked to do a trick for an upgraded room, sad to say, though that's not the case with everyone. Canines checking into Carmel's historic Cypress Inn -- checking alongside their human, of course -- will be asked what tricks they know. If the hotel-visiting hound can roll over or sit up on his haunches or balance a treat on the bridge of his shiny little nose, and upgraded rooms are available, and the human visitor has booked the Puppy Love Package during February, bingo! The tricks-performed-at-the-front-desk deal will have paid off with a upgrade (and, very likely, a round of applause by all present). For while many a destination is dog-sweet, and welcomes your woofer as a co-visitor to the property, few can match Doris Day's legendary Lassie-loving inn, where tail-boasting tourists get a host of amenities and can, on occasion, speak and/or sit in order to nab a nice upgrade.

PUPPY LOVE PACKAGE: The package, which indeed includes "tricks for an upgrade," is on throughout February 2015. The "tricks" end of the deal is "based on availability," of course, but there are other goodies: A gratis collar tag with the Cypress Inn logo (very chic for the next time your furry one heads to her local dog park), dog treats, bowls, and beds, and a twenty-dollar credit for Yappy Hour. (Oh, that's good for Terry's Lounge + Restaurant, if you prefer). There are human-focused perks, too, like the deluxe accomos and breakfast. If you and your person-partner have been wanting to try a getaway with your small four-footer (or not-so-small four-footer -- the Inn loves beasties of every stature), the Cypress Inn is a solid place to start. The dog love here is real, as evidenced by the fact that if Fido can roll over, or speak on cue, at the front desk, the upgrade is yours. Where else does displaying a talent at check-in nab something nice? Woof.

Photo Credit: Cypress Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Rare Male Calico Up for Adoption in Sunnyvale]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:05:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/HumaneSocietySiliconValleyCALICOSHERMAN.jpg

FELINES FANTASTICAL: How many of our superstitions and lucky charms and rumors and tales spring from the world of cats? The answer: A lot. Our purring, bewhiskered, cuddlesome, frolicsome friends have provided people, throughout time, with a bevy of stories, some quite fantastical. (Really, a black cat crossing your path is a wonderful thing, because you've been lucky enough to see a cat out on your walk, so yay you.) But some of these yarns about our string-of-yarn-loving companions actually are true and amazing, such as this one: Male calicos are rare, quite rare, as in, if you ever meet one, it might be the only one you ever meet. VetStreet estimates that "(o)nly one out of every 3,000 calico cats is male," and, yep, it has to do with genetics, chromosomes, and how everything dovetails -- cattails? -- together. The Humane Society Silicon Valley reports that a male calico has made his way to their headquarters, and he's up for adoption, too.

MEET SHERMAN: Little Sherman, who is about four months old, will be receiving an adoring public and possible potential new parents at the Neighborhood Adoption Center in Sunnyvale on Saturday, Jan. 31. The young feline arrived at the Silicon Valley shelter from a sister shelter. HSSV "partners with local shelters in the area to help alleviate the strain on resources when shelters are too full, or if an animal needs a little extra help to get adopted," says Leanne Reis, a representative of the Humane Society Silicon Valley. Sherman is described as "personable and friendly" and a lover of people. And if you do adopt this male calico, you'll need to bone up on your rare little boy, and how he fits into the larger feline story.

HUMANE SOCIETY SILICON VALLEY, by the by, is the place that sheltered "Eddie the Terrible," a Chihuahua with quite the colorful story. The happy news? Eddie found a loving home just days after his sassy story went wide in the middle of December.

Photo Credit: Humane Society Silicon Valley]]>
<![CDATA[Birding Trip to Anacapa Island]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:41:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/anacapawideshot1234.JPG

FEATHERS AND BLOWHOLES: If you mention to a pal that you've got an Island Packers date coming down the pike, and you'll be out on the Santa Barbara Channel, on a boat, they're apt to think you'll be on the lookout for gray whales. They'll especially think that if you're taking your trip at the height of gray whale-watching season, which falls over the winter months. But the fleet of island-headed passenger-nice vessels, a fleet that is based both in Oxnard and Ventura, frequently carriers serious fans of the feather, too. There is much crossover, of course, between buffs of all things blowhole and people who want to see what birds are nesting where -- total and complete crossover, for the most part. (If we were to go out on a limb and say bird people and whale people are the very same nature-adoring people, we're fairly sure we'd get no quibble.) Best let your friend know, if you book a spot on the Saturday, Feb. 21 Birding Trip to Anacapa Island, that while you'll be on the watch for whales you'll also have the binocs out in hopes of catching sight of the Channel Islands's annual avian visitors. Which include...

BROWN AND BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES... and American Oystercatchers, too. The Feb. 21 will be on the lookout for all of these beauties and "a Scrub-Jay or two," too. Plus Brown Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants, and "possibly local pairs of Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles" as well. Plus? Other beautiful winged creatures who are calling upon Anacapa during the late winter season. "Close-up views" of Anacapa Arch are part of the voyage, as is a sail through the Anacapa Passage. And, as always, "(s)ightings are not guaranteed but are highly likely." Will you finally see the feathery superstar you've longed to lay eyes on your whole bird-loving life? This could be your chance. Tickets are $80 and the Island Packers boat departs from Oxnard's Channel Island Harbor. And if you happen to spy a whale or three along the way? Call it the cherry on top of this particular Pacific Ocean adventure.

Photo Credit: Anacapa Island]]>
<![CDATA[Dining Napa: Restaurant Month]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:09:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tarlameditgrill.jpg

DECIDING TO STAY IN TOWN... or head out, further afield, to dine at a winery, is always the supper-focused sticky wicket when in and around Napa Valley and specifically Downtown Napa. As sticky wickets go, it is quite wonderful; you're in a place where culinary offerings are plentiful and varied and staying closer to the hub of city life or finding a restaurant on a vineyard isn't an either/or proposition. They're both going to be good, chances are very good, and likely pretty great. That's the standard of the area, which is one of the few to present the plate-based challenge to visitors: Sup in town or sup in the country. 

DOWNTOWN NAPA... has a very convincing case to stay close to its streets, thanks to a strong food scene, a scene that gets an added feather in its cap come February with Restaurant Month. Yep, we meant "month" there, despite the fact that many a California city and county lassos only a week in which to show off its food-making prowess. So what are the deals and must-dos around the oh-so-walkable downtown?

THOSE MUST-DOS INCLUDE... "a Dinner and Wine Pairing with a special three-course menu available for $50 per person" at Grill 29 at Embassy Suites and lunch and dinner prix fixe specials at Tarla Mediterranean Grill (specials that are good all month long save the four days over Valentine's weekend). The Thomas Restaurant, C Casa an Innovative Taqueria, and 1313 Main at Lulu's Kitchen are all in the February-meets-foodie swing of things. 

IF YOU DO HEAD INTO THE BROADER VALLEY... as one does -- again, loving Downtown Napa and the N.V. is so not an either/or argument -- you can find nice specials in the middle of the week at Solbar at Solage Calistoga, a $7 glass of local Sauvignon Blanc added onto any order at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, and other goodies of the gourmet, deal-enjoying kind. Want the full rundown of city + country eats? Point your spoon in this direction, lovers of Napa (Valley and Downtown).

Photo Credit: Tarla Mediterranean Grill]]>
<![CDATA[Peek Inside Modernism Week's Trailer Fest]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:05:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/atrailerps13.jpg You can spy the interiors of these retro gems.

Photo Credit: Modernism Week]]>
<![CDATA[Wild Valentines in Walnut Creek]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:11:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/194*120/lindsaywildlife123456heart.jpg

FEBRUARY FUR-CUTE FUN: It used to be, back in the day -- "the day" here meaning a couple of decades ago, give or take -- that animal parks and beastie-focused institutions were a warm-weather activity, for many families. "A day out at the zoo" was about donning shorts and sundresses and taking in some rays in addition to waving at wildlife. But those who house and help animals regularly reach out to the public on a year-round schedule now via a host of interesting and educational events and happenings. One of the most interesting, and definitely well-attended or at least able to pique curiosity, occurs around Valentine's Day. It's the to-do that's designed for adults, and just adults, and it is all about animal mating and reproduction. And it is a good thing, too, for those thousands of people who thought they got all of the knowledge they needed back in Biology 101 or basic science and have gone on to learn a lot more. As in, a lot regarding animal amour. Zoos and preserves and animal-minded institutions across California will be hosting such happenings, and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a part of that info-delightful, only slightly blush-worthy scene. But the Walnut Creek gem is going a step further by offering a few Valentine's events, including some goings-on for the little ones, too.

THE GROWN-UP NIGHT OUT... is called Kiss and Tail -- An Evening of Wild Romance, and it broadens people's horizons on Thursday, Feb. 12 (bites and wine are part of the $30 ticket). As for the youngster's heart-nice, animal-cool happenings? Wild Valentines'll reign at the museum from Feb. 11 through 16 (think holiday-specific crafts and the petting of animals). And We Love Animals is a four-week every-Wednesday class that looks at "how animals raise their babies and live together in family groups." So important, so fascinating, and so timely to February. Who knew that we'd go back to school, in a sense, each wintertime, with our local animal museums, and their staffers, helping grow our knowledge? Knowing more about animal amour, and how they raise their critters, is treat for the mind as well as the (Valentine's) heart.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Wildlife Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Springtime Sipping Supreme: Savor Sonoma Valley]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:32:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/heartofsonomavalley1234567.jpg

THE CHOOSING IS CHOICE: When a mondo weekend packed with wine tasting opportunities arises -- and arise it does, in a grand and lofty way -- it can send even the loosest-goosiest oenophile into a spiral. Where to start? What wines should I try and taste? Do I go to tried-and-terrific wineries or fill out my dance card with places I've never been? These are not the hardest of questions, of course, and they do, in fact, err on the side of being rather pleasant. If you're up to a rather pleasant task of winery-choosing, and you want to do it over the rather pleasant first weekend of spring, make for Savor Sonoma Valley, a multi-vineyard, multi-multi-multi-wine weekend that'll spread over a wide swath of the S.V. on Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22.

RESERVE WINES, BARREL WINES... and a full spectrum of offerings will be on the counters (and in the glasses). It is year 25 for Savor Sonoma Valley and twenty wineries will take part in 2015. They include Benziger Family Winery, Imagery Estate Winery, Loxton Cellars, and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. Beyond visits to the barrels and special, pulled-out-of-secret-spots cabs and pinots, there shall be posh bites from local chefs, tours of the wine-making houses, walks among the vines, tune, and the other niceties that pop up when a whole caboodle of wineries throw their hats in the collective single-weekend ring.

THE PASSPORT? It is $65, and it nabs you that all-important souvenir glass. Now who has a glass from every Savor Sonoma Valley from the past quarter century? That must make quite the impressive shelf display (and serve as a reminder that a wine tasting weekend is, as we stated, rather pleasant, a statement that's pretty darn easy to make.

Photo Credit: Hearts of Sonoma Valley]]>
<![CDATA[Calistoga Cute: Olive My Valentine]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:55:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/200*120/oliveyounapa12345678.jpg

VALENTINE'S, WITH A SIDE OF SAVORY/SOUR: It's the quizzical look that dawns on somebody's face when the person they're speaking to reveals they're not into chocolate that is, perhaps, the most comical of looks. Certainly everybody adores chocolate? Needs it? Dreams of it? Certainly? But that isn't the case. We're not all into cocoa beans and sugar and caramel and such, though we'll gladly eat the sprinkling of sea salt that has become a savory staple in finer boxes of chocolates. But Valentine's Day isn't built around the person that would rather have something savory over something sweet -- or bubbly. Chocolates and a particular libation that's full of tiny air pockets tend to reign on February 14, as gifts, as surprises in hotel rooms, and as the visual shorthand for the holiday we see in many advertisements.

THE BRANNAN COTTAGE INN... in Calistoga is offering a bit of quirky -- and culinary-nice -- counterprogramming for Valentine's Day 2015, though, via its Olive My Valentine package. Yes, you get a cozy room at the constructed-in-1860 inn, and all of the charms of a historic (but "newly re-imagined") getaway, but here's the twist: Your local, in-room treat is a Calistoga Olive Oil Company EVOO and Balsamic gift set. Ohhh, no chocolate in sight! Interesting. Very interesting, indeed.

OH, AND NO BUBBLY, EITHER: There is a gratis beer tasting if you buy dinner for two at The Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery. So, olive oil and beer? Could this be the next big Valentine's duo? Well... chocolate and Champagne may be here to stay, though we do like seeing destinations walk a more offbeat path come the love holiday. 

AND YES, THIS IS CALISTOGA... so "side-by-side mud or mineral treatments" at the Baths at Roman Spa are available during the package's duration, Mondays through Thursdays (and you'll need to reserve those in advance). In fact, best look at the asterisks and available February dates and such while plotting what will likely be your first Valentine's getaway that is more about savory tastes and foamy brews than those traditional sweet nibbles and sips. Nicely (and quirkily) played, Brannan Cottage Inn.

Photo Credit: Olive You]]>
<![CDATA[Tunes, Eats, Wine: Yountville Live Festival]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:28:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/yountvilleoar123.jpg

GREEN THINGS AND GROOVES: If you opened practically any magazine singing the praises of home comforts back around 1972 or '73, you were apt to find articles about houseplants, and the care and feeding of. It was the Age of Houseplantery, the early '70s, and everyone wanted to know how to make that fern or philodendron grow. One offbeat but oft-heard suggestion: music. In short, you were to play your plants Mozart or The Beatles and watch them flower like mad. The sad fact of the matter is our modern houses aren't overgrown with funky ferns these days, and we don't tend to set up the boombox next to the begonias, but we still can get the experience of tunes-plus-plants on a wider scale, via music festivals that take place in nature, or near nature. For sure, Outside Lands qualifies -- do all of those Golden Gate Park grow stronger after the August sound fest wraps? -- and there's a new one for the docket: Yountville Live. The first-ever long-weekender of music and eats and drinks lands just at the beginning of spring in an area known for its leafy things. (Leafy things, in this case, definitely equals vines.)

MARCH 19 THROUGH 22: The festival is all about "the very best in music, wine, and food with the small-town lifestyle and sophisticated ambiance of Yountville." O.A.R. is one act set for the kick-off year, and Colbie Caillat, Blue October, and Matt Nathanson will all be doing the good-vibes-all-around thing. Special dinners, The Taste of Yountville, and wine-focused events complement all of the small-town-big-sound rocking out that'll go down at the Lincoln Theater and beyond. But the real question is this: Will all of those vines grow just a bit harder, and a bit bigger, with all of the music that's in the air over the first weekend of spring? We direct that question back to those home magazines of the 1970s, that said singing in the vicinity of ferns was a positive thing to do. Yountville Live, you'll clearly bring the entertainment to the people, but here's hoping the grapes pick up some of the grooves, too.

Photo Credit: O.A.R.]]>
<![CDATA[Valentine's Cute: Free Schulz Museum Entry for Red-Haired Guests]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:05:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/schulzpeanutsvalentines12345.jpg

THAT MYTHIC UNSEEN CHARACTER: Reams have been written about those characters who've only been seen off-screen, or away from the page, and yet... And yet. The main characters in a story speak of them with fondness and/or feeling, and the myth grows and grows and grows. For many years The Little Red-Haired Girl of Peanuts fame was just this sort of complicated-but-unknown-to-us figure. She wasn't unknown to Charlie Brown, however; the zig-zagged-shirted can't-get-aheader worried and fussed over his ginger-haired crush and whether he'd see her that day and if she'd seen him and the stomach knots would ensue (oftentimes for the reader of Charles Schulz's legendary comic strip as well as Charlie Brown). And while The Little Red-Haired Girl was eventually seen -- look for her in the "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown" TV special from 1977 -- her mythic status as a comic strip favorite remains strong, as does her cachet around a certain institution in Santa Rosa. For while Lucy and Linus and Sally and a certain beagle hold sway over the Charles M. Schulz Museum, The Little Red-Haired Girl does make cameos throughout the exhibits. And she'll be much on the minds of comic strip fans come Valentine's Day, when any visitor with red hair shall receive free entry into the museum.

A CONVENTION OF GINGERS: Will the institution, which considers both themes within the long-running, oh-so-philosophical strips as well as Mr. Schulz's life and work, be people solely by visitors sporting auburn locks on Saturday, Feb. 14? Well, maybe not, but if you've been wanting to see the exhibition celebrating "Alice in Wonderland" and juxtapositions in Peanuts, Valentine's Day will certainly be a lively day to do so. We're pondering if any of the red-haired visitors -- be they boys or girls or women or men -- shall dress in their Peanuts best that day. You know Peanuts style -- those shoes, the low-belted dresses, that iconic zig-zaggy shirt. It's a holiday, where a lot of people will get in free, so celebratory dress should be the order of the day. (But arriving with a football to pull away at the last second from other museum goers is probably not advisable, accurate to the subject matter though it is.)

Photo Credit: © 2015 Peanuts Worldwide LLC]]>