<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Worth the Trip]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usMon, 24 Apr 2017 14:12:08 -0700Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:12:08 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dark Sky Week: Gaze Up Post-Sundown]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:23:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/darkskyGettyImages-141674769.jpg

NOT A MOVIE: It can happen to even the most devoted follower of the after-sundown sky show. One day, you're sitting in a cinema, watching a film set in the deepest pockets of space, and you begin to marvel at all of the stars on screen, and ponder the special effect wizardry that went into the making of the movie. You might even pause, sigh a little, and wish such scenes were true, and then you remember: The universe is rich in stars and nebulae and cosmic wonders, and it is real life, and not simply something we only get to experience via the silver screen. But making a connection with that sort of vast starfield-y expanse that special effects teams excel at creating? It's a bit harder than simply strolling into a movie theater. You'll likely need to find a low-lit spot, away from illumination, to spy the Milky Way in all of its milky-magnificent glory. A good start for seekers is...

INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY WEEK, which is on through Friday, April 28. The week is a time devoted to "...celebration, learning and action!" and it serves to encourage people to head outdoors, in the evening, and look up. You can head to an official Dark Sky Community — there's one in California, in Borrego Springs — or you may find that velvety, nature-by-night spot you love, the one in a state or national park or another stretch of wilderness, in which to mark the week and enjoy the post-sunset sky. There are other ways to get involved, too, with the International Dark Sky Association, if preserving those eternal, low-lit, universe-wise experiences is dear to your heart. Whatever you do, glance up, once or twice, during the week, if only to find a favorite star, and to recall that while the cosmos are definitely dazzling in the movies, they're even more dazzling IRL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Monterey Bay Breathless: Breaching Humpbacks]]> Sun, 23 Apr 2017 11:26:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/montwhalesbreach.jpg

THERE'S NO PUNCH CARD... when it comes to the epic sights of nature, nor "collect all ten" sort of deal, nor bucket-list-y roster that demands we check everything off a rundown of amazing sights before we achieve the next nature-loving level. Wilderness-loving humans, and that's all of us, seek out our own ways to connect with animals and trees and the sky and the ocean, no punch card or "collect all ten" deal required. Still, though... Are there a few major nature experiences you'd love to witness, live, right there, just to stow in your heart forever? Yeah, probably, and that's a feeling shared by many. And many people are eager, at some point, to not only spy a whale but to see it breaching. This isn't to say that a fluke momentarily rising above the water line, or the powerful puff of a blowhole, aren't 100% epic, for they are. If you'd like some breach-tastic amazement, though, right here and now, check out the drone video from...

MONTEREY BAY WHALE WATCH, which features heart-thrilling humpback breaching from the middle of April 2017. Nancy Black, a marine biologist and owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, says that, at the moment, "...we estimate there are more than 60 humpback whales that just arrived in Monterey Bay for the start of feeding season. This is a relatively large number for this early in the season." What are these beautiful behemoths noshing on? Krill and "schooling fish... over the Monterey Bay submarine canyon." To see this breaching in action, the video is below, or make your way to the bay for a springtime whale-watching outing in person. May flukes, blowholes, and, fins crossed, a breach or two, be hallmarks of your trip.

Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Whale Watch]]>
<![CDATA[Carmel Soiree: Monterey Winemakers' Celebration]]> Sat, 22 Apr 2017 08:53:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/carmelwinemonterey123.jpg

VINO MEET-UPS... can happen in all sorts of settings, from conference rooms at hotels to beach-facing bluffs. But few spots are as singular, and identifiable, and all-out charming as where the Monterey Winemakers' Celebration will land on the first Sunday in May. Perhaps you've heard of this place, dream of this place, are downright obsessed with this place, and long to get back: Carmel-by-the-Sea. That's right, this is a wine to-do that takes places right in the heart of the cottages-and-secret-alleys village, at Dolores & 7th Streets. And, that's right again, you don't have to stick to where you're standing as you sip your Blair Estate or Joyce Vineyards wine; you're welcome to saunter about on the lanes and byways that have been closed for the event, participating in that time-honored Carmel tradition of lookie-loo-ing. (Oh yes, and breathing in that soft beachy air that the village is known for, yet another tradition that can go in the time-honored category.) It's...

YEAR 25... for the long-runner of a wine party, and a caboodle of Monterey County's top libations will be out for the trying (the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association is the organizer behind the event). A chance to try the "Best Pinot Noirs in California" is also on the roster, as is the brand-new Monterey Wine Camp, where you can delve into a host of "fun and informal activities" like discerning between oaked or unoaked chardonnay. A bevy of cuisine-making spots'll join the vintners, so stoke your appetite then enjoy a nosh from Il Fornaio or Poke Lab. Tickets start at $35, and end at $125, and the impressive list of regional beverage and bite pros is up and ready to be perused. And, as far as perusing goes, the village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is tops, no argument there. To do so with a glass of wine in hand, or a slice of something dessert-y, on a spring Sunday afternoon? A pure, undiluted pleasure, surely.

Photo Credit: Carmel-by-the-Sea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fishmas in Mono and Inyo Counties]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:11:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/monocountyPhotoCreditJoanneKavanaugh.jpg

HOLIDAYS HAPPEN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, but few are as anticipated, and prepared for, and talked about among people who adore the Sierras and casting a line as... Fishmas. That's right, Fishmas is a much-anticipated occasion around Inyo and Mono Counties, which comprise a large swath of the Eastern Sierra region. And when you think of those majestic peaks, with all of their many rivers running down into the lowlands below, and you picture Convict Lake and June Lake, you start grokking to the notion that the pursuit of the picture-perfect day spent fishing is a pretty darn big deal. And so it is: The official kick-off to fishing season, which flaps a fin for the first time on Saturday, April 29, is indeed hailed as Fishmas, one of the gladdest days on the calendar. If you're heading up or over to Mono and Inyo Counties with your tackle box and waders in tow, best look up the...

BRAND-NEW FISHING MAP... that was created to direct people to "top fishing destinations" around the two counties. A quartet of regional powerhouses are behind the map — Mono and Inyo Counties, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, and Mammoth Lakes Tourism — and interesting tidbits about various bodies of water are included (the pdf is here). And if you're anticipating some serious fishing action, thanks to all of that Sierra snow over the winter, you're feeling what others are feeling, too. "We are looking forward to the best opening day conditions since 2012, both in terms of the amount of fish being planted and the healthy water levels of our lakes," says Jeff Simpson, the economic development manager for Mono County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife "..has planned 660,000 pounds in fish stocking allotments in Mono County and Inyo County, currently scheduled for every other week along with holidays and local events" reveals James Erdman, an environmental scientist with the CDFW.

CONVICT LAKE, ROCK CREEK, Saddlebag Lake, and Little Virginia Lakes are just a few of the spots that are "regularly stocked throughout fishing season." Gear up, place your tackle box by the carport door, and plan your fish-fun weekend up in the Eastern Sierra, once Fishmas arrives.

Photo Credit: Joanne Kavanaugh]]>
<![CDATA[Big Sur Escape: Post Ranch Inn Reopens]]> Sun, 23 Apr 2017 10:57:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KodiakGreenwoodPacificSuite.jpg

A BIG BIG SUR EVENT: If you've ever sat inside Sierra Mar, the window-lined restaurant at Post Ranch Inn, you may have kept your eyes, well, on your plate, since the eatery is known for beautifully crafted locally sourced eats. But, on occasion, you probably raised your face to the west, and the windows, to see if you could spy what is, unarguably, the most famous resident 'round Big Sur: the California condor. The major-of-wing-span birds can sometimes be seen soaring just beyond Sierra Mar's cliff-top perch, giving diners a bit of a thrilling, coastal-cool show. But the condor isn't the only sight in the bright blue expanse nowadays, thanks to a new Post Ranch Inn package called Escape Through the Skies. That's right...

POST RANCH INN... is now open again, as of April 20, after being shuttered for several weeks due to the Highway 1 havoc caused by a rash of intense winter storms. Because of the road closures, the luxe property is still unreachable by car, and Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge's much-anticipated completion is months away, but Post Ranch has crafted a memorable way for guests to reach the idyllic spot: by air. The package includes "...roundtrip helicopter transportation for two from Monterey," as well as dining at Sierra Mar and your accommodations. You'll need to stay for two nights, or more, and you'll need to do so in April or May. As far as how long the helicopter ride takes? It's twenty minutes, and you'll enjoy a glass of bubbly before lift-off. And, yes, if you're wondering, Post Ranch Inn's equally iconic down-the-road neighbor, Nepenthe, is also open again. For a singular adventure, to give some love to a favorite hotel, its restaurant, and nearby Nepenthe after this challenging winter, and to, just maybe, spy a condor riding a breeze while you're supping at Sierra Mar, start here.

Photo Credit: Kodiak Greenwood]]>
<![CDATA[Themed Slope Weekends at Squaw-Alpine]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:13:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/20160419_TCSVAMSubmissions_3153+%281%29.jpg

IF YOU'RE SKIING IN JANUARY, just after an intense cold front has wailed on through the area, bringing with it several inches of flakery as well as a particular briskness that is out-brisking the briskness that existed just a day or so before, you're not going to be thinking about costuming up before hitting the hills. You're going to have on your coziest thermals, and moisture-deterring super-gloves, and a few waffle-knit layers to keep out the aforementioned brisk-a-tude. But April, and May, are not January, you might have heard. And while the first month of the year typically brings a certain sartorial look to the slopes, one that's focused on warmth, so does skiing in the springtime. It's a different vibe altogether, and many skiers eschew longer sleeves on those balmier May days. So how to have the most fashionable fun with this fact, now that the temps will soon be creeping up, up, up even as the slopes remain open in many spots? Visit...

"THE SPRING SKIING CAPITAL," Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, for a chance to schuss during one of the destination's photo-ready themed weekends. They're on now, and there are more to go, with "Neon" rounding out the end of April, "Denim" landing the weekend of May 19-21, and "Super Heroes" flying in just ahead of the start of summertime. Live tunes and a convivial atmosphere shall reign each weekend, as will the opportunities to pose in your lively look, poles and all, for a snapshot or two or 20. Springtime slope high jinks are different from the ski scene at the heart of brrr-ful winter, and we're seeing that now, near Lake Tahoe, as the shorter sleeves and wackier wear make a slope-centered showing. 

Photo Credit: Trevor Clark]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Earth Day Weekend: It's Big]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:30:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mattperkosbearth.jpg

APPRECIATING YOUR HOME PLANET, and all of its gifts and wonders and plenitude, and how it keeps just the right atmospheric stew to keep we earthlings going, day-to-day, is beyond easy to do. We're grateful to be here, and for this orb's astounding features, from big trees to tiny crabs to vast oceans to deep canyons. And, of course, to people, too, who are working hard to bring the issues of Earth Day to the forefront, in April, in August, on every day of the year. Earth Day, however, is very much about the fourth month of the year — yep, that's Earth Month — and few cities enthusiastically embrace the occasion like Santa Barbara. There's no mystery as to the beautiful, Pacific-close town's Earth Day ties: An oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast "galvanized California into action" at the close of the 1960s, making the place an important player in the annual observation's beginnings. It's a mantle the city wears proudly, and with thought, as can be seen at the yearly...

SANTA BARBARA EARTH DAY FESTIVAL: This weekend-long festivity at Alameda Park will bloom on April 22 and 23, 2017, and, as is tradition, the eco-cool, kid-fun, oh-so-useful to-dos are plentiful. A Green Car Show, a festival zone devoted to locally grown vittles, a Public Square devoted to non-profits and give-back organizations, an educational play place called Kids Corner, and other areas brim with Earth Day vibes. As does the stage, where the good tunes'll be on the flow. If you want to go to one of the centers of the Earth Day movement, and see what the Community Environmental Council is working on, and enjoy the sunshine, and life on this watery wonder, in one of our great coastal destinations, click here, planetary dwellers.

Photo Credit: Matt Perko]]>
<![CDATA[Happy Whiskeytown Waterfall Week]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:37:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/300dpi_4x6_whiskeytownfallscrystal.jpg

WHO WOULD DARE PIT... the ethereal, powerful, rainbow-lovely waterfalls of the Shasta Cascade against those of Yosemite Valley? The answer: No one would, for each mondo falling H2O show comes bearing its own particular charms and character. In fact, one has to believe that if Bridalveil Fall in the national park ever had a chance to have a coffee and a doughnut, or whatever snacks waterfalls prefer, with Whiskeytown Falls, up in the Shasta Cascade, the droplet-filled duo would have a lot in common. Which is all to say this: Nature seekers and devoted hikers and H20-happy fall fans can find watery wonder in several points around the state, including in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, a spot rich in waterfall treasures. To honor all of this burbling, bubbling beauty, and to celebrate National Park Week, which wraps on Sunday, April 23, the National Park Service "invites visitors to 'Find Your Waterfall' by taking the Whiskeytown Waterfall Challenge...," a soggy-fun showdown that's on now.

WHAT'S THE CHALLENGE ALL ABOUT? You just need to stop by the visitor center for a Waterfall Challenge Passport, then call upon a quartet of falls in the Whiskeytown region: Brandy Creek, Boulder Creek, Whiskeytown Falls, and Crystal Creek. The trail register "located at the base of each waterfall" has what you need to create "a colored impression" on your passport, to show you made it to the fall. You'll get an all-important, brag-about-it completion stamp and, if they're still available, a gift. But, of course, the waterfalls don't switch to "off" once National Park Week says adieu and the challenge wraps. Even if you can't make it during stamp-fun showdown, you can put Whiskeytown on your immediate itinerary. For you've heard about May and waterfall action? Yeah, it's something else. Wouldn't that be something for Whiskeytown Falls and Bridalveil Falls to discuss over doughnuts? The marvelous month of waterfall-amazing May around California? Wherever you look, H20 falling over a ledge is apt to impress as springtime moves closer to summer.

Photo Credit: Whiskeytown National Recreation Area]]>
<![CDATA[Earth Day Tours at Safari West]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:36:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/safariwestearthday2017.jpg

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO FAR... to find an earthling who is making this planetary journey at the same time you are. You can walk into a store, and, bingo: earthlings, here, now, in a parallel path to your own. You can stroll into your yard, and spy a nest in a tree, or some pups out for a constitutional, and bingo again: more earthlings. They're all around, living their lives alongside us, or at least adjacent to our vicinity, which, really, is about as neato as it gets, and even a touch sci-fi, if you start to ponder this planet's vast and diverse community of beings. But reaching out, and stretching further, and going to those earthlings you might not encounter in your front yard, or at the store or the car wash or school, can take some effort, but happy effort, if you know you'll be spending Earth Day with them. Safari West, in Santa Rosa, will be open on that important day, offering a created-for-the-occasion lunch as well as some other get-to-know-the-world doings. Earth Day is on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 22, and the "Special Earth Day Lunch" is on from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30. (it's local organic grass-fed burgers, with the trimmings, but there's a bean burger option, too). You can arrive earlier though, for the Nairobi Trek Loop opens at 10, and happens "every 45 minutes." What will you see? Well, helloooo, beautiful Southern White Rhinos and other majestic animalia. If the smaller mammals are your personal jam, indulge that particular interest by eyeing the Earth Day displays devoted to the critters (as well as our feathery friends). Where to go? The Amari Oasis and its big aviary. Eager to commune, or at least wave at and admire, some earthlings outside of your day-to-day sphere? Go Safari West, lunch it up, and see what how our earthly co-travelers spend their time. But best make your reservations first.

Photo Credit: Safari West]]>
<![CDATA[Summer of Love: 50th Anniversary Celebrations]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:24:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1967TomGundelfingerONeal.jpg Exhibits, concerts, photos, and tours will fill out the festive summer calendar.

Photo Credit: Tom Gundelfinger O'Neal]]>
<![CDATA[Bike Bliss: Sea Otter Classic]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:00:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/seaotter20727-1.jpg

IF DAZZLING WHEELS STARTED SPINNING... in your dreams when winter nights were at their very darkest, and spokes punctuated your waking reveries, and handlebar visions made you happy in periods of boredom or the blues, you're likely the sort of person who has counted the days — make that hours — to springtime. For spring is when all of the cycling festivals and cycling tours and cycling weekends start up in exerciseful earnest, with fans lining roads to admire expert riding and the cyclists who make it all look easy. But long before summer arrives, and even a month, or nearly, before the AMGEN Tour of California spins into towns down the Golden State, there is the Sea Otter Classic. You know this mondo Monterey affair, surely, as it is billed as the "World's Premier Cycling Festival!" How you spends your days in and around the area, whether you're watching the Gran Fondo Carmel Valley or the Gravel Grinder Tour, is up to you and your wheel-based fancies. The dates? 

APRIL 20 THROUGH 23, and there are loads of events to choose from, so picking one or two (or more) before you pull into the peninsula should make things a bit more smooth. Also? Vendors aplenty will be out, catering to all sorts of cycling, healthful needs, from The Pickle Juice Company to Hi-Power Cycles Revolution M e-bikes to Dude Girl apparel (so, yes, the stuff to look at and learn about absolutely runs the cycle-centered gamut). It's wheels-to-the-road time for the huge bike bashes of April, May, June, and onward, starting with the celebrated Sea Otter.

Photo Credit: Sea Otter Classic]]>
<![CDATA[Fresh Air + Fun: Rush Ranch Open House]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 22:16:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RushRanchOpenHouse2015YumiWilson.jpg

OPEN HOUSES... can occur on any day of the year, for most any festive-minded, get-to-know-us reason. But the concept of throwing the proverbial doors wide and welcoming people in seems to cleave especially well to all of the ideas that immediately symbolize spring, starting with the whole "throwing the proverbial doors wide" thing. It's that moment of the year when we're fully yawning and stretching and extending a hand, now that our hibernation periods have been completed (or, if not hibernation, then cocooning inside while binge-watching television series). As for an open house in the open air? That's even more springy, in spirit, and Rush Ranch is about to spread its spring-ready wings. The "...2,070 acres of marsh and rolling grassland" near Fairfield has been the scene of an annual open house for 27 years now, and its next activity-packed go-around is up on...

SATURDAY, APRIL 29: That's when the "celebration of nature" will flower, full of to-dos both vintage and nature-minded. The roster shall include "...guided marsh discovery hikes, live music, local artisans and craftspeople, blacksmithing, bats, birds of prey, farm animals, art show and sale, and fundraising raffle." There shall be chuckwagon vittles for sale during the 10 a.m. to 3 o'clock under-the-sun shebang, so bring cash for that or crafts. But admission? That's free. It's a fundraising day for the Rush Ranch Educational Council programs, which are overseen by the Solano Land Trust. Are you in an open-house-y headspace, now that winter is in our rearview mirror? Get your festive fill of the doors-wide concept at Rush Ranch.

Photo Credit: Yumi Wilson]]>
<![CDATA[Monterey Beer Fest's Summer of Love]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:42:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/montereybeer2017123.jpg

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: If you were a participant in the Summer of Love, and you tied on a few kerchiefs, and wore a few fringe-y jackets, and sang a few love-laden songs in a few parks with a few of your closet friends, you're probably still feeling the festive reverberations of that hallowed time today. How could you not? The tenets that the warm weather months of 1967 stood upon were strong ones, with fellowship and harmony at the center of it all. It's the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love — insert a "can you believe it?" here — and you're bound to see the tie-dye homages and guitar-strummy staples popping up, here and there, in all of the places that the Summer of Love vibrated most vibrantly. Monterey was one such sunshine-of-the-heart spot, and its annual Beer Festival, set for the Saturday after Independence Day, will hold some of that Summer of Love magic close. Gaze, if you will, upon the...

ROCKING STAGE... of the Saturday, July 8 party, where Daze on the Green and The 60's Summer of Love Band will both be sending out the people-join-together tuneage. Attendees are invited to dress like they would have dressed, or actually did, back in July of '67, so best find that flowery smock and little round sunglasses to complete your look. As for the craft brews at the 16th annual Monterey Beer Festival? Past participants have included Anchor Brewing, Craft Artisan Ales, and Lost Coast Brewery. The Monterey County Fair Heritage Foundation is the beneficiary of the foamy-fun day, one that'll visit a half century back while truckin' right on into the beer-making, people-socializing, helping-out future.

Photo Credit: Monterey Beer Festival]]>
<![CDATA[D23 Expo: Mouse-tastic Details Arriving Now]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:13:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/d23mousequerade1.jpg

GRABBING A MAP... as you scoot through the turnstile at the entrance to Disneyland Park? Thousands do it each and every day. And, yes, even if you know exactly where Space Mountain is, and what time the Dole Whip stand opens near Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, you still might need a brush-up on what special events are on the roster, what time the latest parade will happen, and if there's anything new that's sprung up, with all the energy of Tigger, since your last visit to Anaheim. The same pretty much goes for D23 Expo, the every-two-years, super-mega-Mouse-mondo convention that celebrates all things Disney (and we do mean super-mega-Mouse-mondo). It's in Anaheim, of course, at the Disneyland Resort-adjacent Anaheim Convention Center, and, unlike years gone by, it'll be happening a skosh earlier in the summer in 2017, so don't look to your August calendar, look to July. That's the middle of July, to be specific, July 14 through 16, and the early tidbits and peeks are already rolling out.

SO GRAB A PROVERBIAL MAP, or at least, in your mind, begin to plot your course through the convention halls. What's new? The D23 Fan Lounge, "which will be located in the heart of the show floor," will pay homage, through the decor, to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of the most vintage and vivacious characters in the Walt Disney family. And "Nine New Disney Legends" will be honored over the course of the weekend, including Oprah Winfrey, Julie Taymor, Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. (Can you name the first person to receive the honor? You're exactly right, it was actor Fred MacMurray, of lovable "The Shaggy Dog" fame, among others, back in 1987.) As D23 Expo is only three months out, as of this typing, look for reveals aplenty in the coming weeks. Reveals, of course, that will help you fill out your own personal map to this ultimate Disney fan gathering.

Photo Credit: D23 Expo]]>
<![CDATA[Nick's Cove Pampered Pooch Package]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:13:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nickscovedogs2017.jpg

IF YOU LIVE WITH A PUP, and you live to travel, chances are very high that you have, at some point, typed out the words "dog friendly hotel" or "dog friendly destination" in a search engine. And while oodles of California properties do throw open the front door to Fidos, every now and then a spot'll go above, beyond, and to the Lassie-loving limit for your own Spot. One such place is Nick's Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages, which sits snug against Tomales Bay, in Marshall. This would seem a natural draw for you and your water-obsessed dog (if, indeed, you and your pup like to hang out along shorelines), but here's what sweetens this trip: Nick's Cove is marking Pet Appreciation Month with a Pampered Pooch Add-On Package, which may "be added to any overnight stay in one of the property's luxurious pet-friendly cottages this April." There's still time to give a woof over this getaway, which includes...

"DIRTY PAWS TOWELS"... in your room, which'll help with that whole enjoying-the-shoreline thing that you and your dog love so well. And if you and your lil' guy also like to dress the same, look for matching human-hound bandannas to wear, which also come courtesy of the package. A bowl for H2O (the drinkable kind, not the playable kind), a food bowl, housemade biscuits, and more are on the dogly docket. Of course, there are some human-directed niceties, too, including a half-bottle of Nick's Cove cabernet as well as BBQ oysters. Going north with your constant companion in the next few weeks? This could be your oyster-sweet, bandanna-matching overnight, fer sure. Details and dog love may be found by contacting the cottage-tastic property.

Photo Credit: Nick's Cove]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 15th, The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]> Fri, 14 Apr 2017 20:34:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lodgeattorreypines15th.jpg

CRAFTSMAN DREAM SPOTS... can be found fabulously dotting the Golden State, with some lucky neighborhoods boasting more historical, woodsy-wonderful structures than others. But one of the best-known and most visited of the California Craftsmans does not sit among a clutch of other similarly designed houses that have been around for decades, nor can it claim a past rooted in the early 20th century (though it certainly looks like it). It is, rather a grand hotel, one that abuts the ocean, and a golf course, in a spot that's fabled for its flora: Torrey Pines, of La Jolla. Now you do know we really did mean "grand" when we broke it out before, because if you've called up on The Lodge at Torrey Pines, you'll recall it boasts a luxe look, but in a classic, tiles-and-trees sense (as opposed to glittery). A general aura of a gourmet, no-boxes-unchecked getaway reigns throughout. It is, in short, one of the premier places to dine, drink, and bed down for the night in the area — scratch that, the state — and it is set to celebrate its 15th anniversary.

THAT'S RIGHT, 15 YEARS: True, Lodge lovers may take one glance at the glorious Greene & Greene-style details, and the stained-glass doors leading into the wood-lovely lobby, and understandably assume that the hotel had been around during the heyday of Craftsman mania. But it debuted in 2002, making 2017 a notable birthday for the property. On tap for the 15th anniversary doings? The headliner has to be the $15,000 package created for eight people, or up to eight people, involving a two-night stay "...in a combination of four luxurious suites" as well as "...a private four-course dinner party with The Lodge's Chef cooking in the privacy of the Blacker or Gamble suite." An oodle of other perks are attached, so contact the hotel if this ultimate experience tantalizes. 

OTHER ANNIVERSARY SPARKLES... include a cocktail called The 15 — El Dorado 15-year-old Special Reserve Rum is the star — and a special deal offering 15% off The Lodge Celebration package at The Spa at Torrey Pines. As for the foodie side of the anniversary? A.R. Valentien is offering a tasting menu created in honor of the occasion. Happy 15, The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and cheers to your considerable Craftsman-based charms.

Photo Credit: The Lodge at Torrey Pines]]>
<![CDATA[Pebble Beach Food and Wine 2017]]> Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:20:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PBFW2016_BoozeandBites_Restaurant1833-45.jpg

GIVE ANYTHING A DECADE... and it will fully round out into whatever it will be, be it an ongoing film or book series, or an annual holiday event, or a haute food spectacular that lands, each spring, in one of California's most postcard-worthy communities. You don't have to flip through at atlas, pondering which burg that might be: It's Pebble Beach, home to Pebble Beach Food & Wine, which is rolling into its big tenth year celebrations with all the fluffiness and tastiness of a bready appetizer being rolled in some delicious shredded cheese and spices. You know that's exactly where your mind roams first when you ponder all of the eating goodness that is Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Tray after table after plate of small, mouth-perfect noshables that have been cooked and assembled with a host of complementary, high-end, and toothsome ingredients. But the impressive cavalcade of bites is only one end of this four-day foodie festival. Consider the top flight of...

CHEFS AND BEVERAGE PROS... who'll make the scene, lending advice, giving tips, and chitchatting with fans. Thomas Keller, Curtis Stone, Ming Tsai, and Nancy Silverton are four of the top-tier names associated with the 2017 spetacular, which will spread out at the Pebble Beach Resorts from Thursday, April 20 through Sunday, April 23. Still thinking about bready, cheese-lovely appetizers and all of the edibles to sample? Lunches and dinners include the Lexus Chef's Table, Sunday Gravy, and the Grand Finale Dinner, while wine seminars put the focus on rieslings, Guigal Rhones, and Burgers & Wine. The Lexus Grand Tastings on April 22 and 23 will also be bustling, too, and do expect a cameo from Drew Barrymore, who'll be there to talk Barrymore Wines. It's a decade-delightful to-do, with several majors coming in for demos, dinners, and more. Are you in? Find your anticipation-filled way to pretty Pebble Beach.

Photo Credit: Pebble Beach Food and Wine]]>
<![CDATA[Safari Park: Baby Bighorn Sheep]]> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 22:03:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BigHorn_002_sd.jpg

WILDFLOWERS AND WILDLIFE: If you had a chance to journey to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in February or March, along with the oodles of other adventurers looking for wildflowers, then you likely kept an eye out for one of the beloved residents of the area: the bighorn sheep. Finding one in the ocotillo-lovely, scrubby-spectacular landscape isn't always a walk in the park, as you walk in the Desert State Park, but it is a true thrill for those hikers who spy a hoof-sporting celebrity up in the crags of a canyon. If your bighorn-based longings weren't fulfilled during your Anza-Borrego getaway, and you'd love to see a few, and even add a couple of new cuties to the experience, as in babies who recently arrived, then you only need to look to...

SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK, which is home to a flock of desert bighorn wonders. As for the littlest bighorns? A pair of female lambs may be seen in the park's Condor Ridge habitat. They aren't sisters, though perhaps in spirit, and they were born about a week apart, with baby #1 arriving on March 19 and baby #1 saying hello on March 25. That means they're still on the itty-bitty side, at least as far as an animal with "big" in its very name, and they're already winning online fans. Need video before you make for the wild-wonderful park, just to fill your bighorn-loving heart? Oh yeah.

Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park]]>
<![CDATA[Marin Rose Society Annual Show]]> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 15:08:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bonairbloomsmay.jpg

MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND? It's abloom in the expected but extraordinary sense, with flowers, but also abloom with lively and lovely things to do, the kind of things that don't always show up on the calendar. Many of those things focus on the blooming aspect of the occasion, and time of year, with botanical gardens and nature-cool parks holding special events. If you and your mom make your way to Bon Air Greenbrae, on Mother's Day Eve, you'll also encounter several flowers, but all of one type: The eternally famous, poem-inspiring, lore-amazing rose. That day,

SATURDAY, MAY 13, is The Marin Rose Society's 43rd Annual Rose Show and Third Annual Photography Show. It's open to the public, hoorah, but there's another major hoorah to come: It's free to attend. The afternoon-long affair — it flowers from 12:30 to 4 o'clock — will feature "...more than 41 categories of expertly grown roses," as well as 200 photos featuring picturesque landscapes and, you got it, roses.

IT'S A FAMILY-NICE DAY, and one that includes a bouquet creation table for the young'uns, in case they want to put together a gratis grouping of flowers for mommy. The judging of the blossoms is at 4 p.m., and then, immediately following, the roses'll be for sale for a dollar a stem. The beneficiary of the full fundraising from the day? The Center for Domestic Peace. 

Photo Credit: Marin Rose Society]]>
<![CDATA[Central Coast Cider Festival]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:33:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-500405144.jpg

A GOOD APPLE: You may have more good apples than bad in your life. Fingers crossed you have only good apples, while, only on the rarest of occasions, coming across an apple that you yourself would have left up on the tree branch. But "good apples" and "bad apples" don't just apply to those dear souls in our lives, the people we love and the people we vow to work harder with, in the bridge-building department. There can be good and bad apples in terms of to-dos, the kind of weekend gatherings we anticipate for days and days. It's generally hoped that such gatherings deliver, but let's just state, here and now, that cider festivals traditionally do, putting them very firmly in the "good apple" camp. Maybe it is because good apples are central to much of what the brewmakers do, as are other fruits and flavors and foams. And, no, it isn't just an autumn sip, hard cider; some of the biggest parties on the California calendar arrive in springtime. Including the one located in charming Atascadero, the...

CENTRAL COAST CIDER FESTIVAL: It's all bubbling up on Mother's Day Saturday at Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake. That's May 13, a grand day to be lakeside trying the offerings of places like Red Branch Cider Company of Sunnyvale, Hemly Cider out of Courtland, and Pismo Beach's Meraki Cider. Tickets range from $55 to $65, and dinner, "a traditional English pig roast," is included (as are the live tunes). Have you been getting into ciders, be their pear or apple or beyond? Be a pal and round up your own good apples for a day trip to the Central Coast for a springtime cider reverie.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Love for Bodie: Benefit Concert]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:51:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BodieEricDraper15.jpg

WHEN YOU THINK OF BODIE, you just might picture a glorious August day, where the blue-as-the-sea sky seems to take up more than its fair share of space, and the pictures you're snapping of the 1800s ghost town are as clear as a bell, the sort of bell you might see on an old church. That's when many visitors call upon Bodie State Historic Park, in the finer months of summertime, but surely those visitors have seen the snowy snapshots coming out of the Mono County landmark in recent months. Oh, and we do mean some serious snow: The drifts have piled up to roof lines, or nearly, in many photographs, photos in which the whole ghost town has taken on an especially ghostly aura. The prodigious amount of snowfall wasn't the only news coming out of the remote destination over the winter of 2016-2017; a string of earthquakes near the close of 2016 sent the quiet burg a-rattlin'. What needs to be done following those quakes is being addressed, but fans of the atmospheric park can also help Bodie get back on its feet, via the...

BODIE BENEFIT CONCERT: The Saturday, June 10 show will take place at the Bridgeport Ranch Barn & Terrace in Bridgeport. Forty bucks nabs you a ticket, and the knowledge that you're assisting the Bodie Foundation in "...the preservation of historic Bodie." On the stage? Look for performers Dave Stamey and Jon & Betsy Elliott. Hobnobbing with other Bodie buffs at the concert? That's assured. For more on the foundation, the benefit, and what's going one with one of the planet's most perfectly preserved ghost towns after its eventful winter, check out the Bodie Foundation's online headquarters.

Photo Credit: Eric Draper]]>
<![CDATA[Yosemite Bike Rentals: Now Open]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:28:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/yosemitebikerentalsapril.jpg

HOW ADVENTURERS GAD ABOUT... Yosemite Valley is really a matter of personal preference, like just about everything in this lovely life. True, some modes of movement do tend to catch the eye, such as when you see climbers way, way, way up the side of El Capitan, or a group rafting along the Merced River. Some people prefer to trot in sight of Half Dome, in the saddle of a spectacular steed, while others like the old-school, always informative charms of the famous open-air tram. In fact, there are so many ways to ramble/ride/scale/roll around the beloved national park that it might be challenging to try them all, at least over the course of a short vacation. But if you're all about wheels, as in two wheels, as in the wheels that sit below a pair of shiny handlebars, you can find that freedom and whoosh-of-air in Yosemite as well, at the Bike Rental Stand, located at Yosemite Valley Lodge. It isn't open all year, not with inclement but gorgeous weather and such happening in the winter, but when the first full month of spring settles in, you can bet the stand'll open. As it did on...

TUESDAY, APRIL 11, just ahead of National Park Week. That's when Yosemite will waive its entrance fee over four, count 'em, four fabulous weekend days, on April 15, 16, 22, and 23. A standard bike rental is twelve bucks per hour, and you'll want to rent your helmet for an additional fiver, if you didn't bring your own. The bike-flavored page on the Travel Yosemite page has a suggested ride, as well as the all-important opening and closing hours. For sure, plan a pony ride, or a river run, or a tram tour, or even climb, if that's your joyful jam, but if bikes are where your bliss is at, and Yosemite is a happy place, then feel the fizz: You can now score a cycle, for an hour or two, in one of the world's most scenic cycling spots.

Photo Credit: Travel Yosemite]]>
<![CDATA[Godwit Days: Arcata Adventure]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 10:14:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/perchedowl122.jpg

EARTH DAY... can be observed in numerous ways, from pitching in at a park clean-up to joining a bike ride to going to where lots of nature flocks and loving upon it. If communing with our co-earthlings where they live is generally how you like to spend the third week in April, there are a bouquet of ways to to do around California, including what might be the most bird-tastic of the lot, Godwit Days. It alights in tree-packed Humboldt County, so you know the nature-filled possibilities will be rich, and, yes, "alights" was a clue to the festival's theme (as is "godwit,' which should tip off bird buffs). If the notion of making for amazing Arcata for an avian gathering, one that celebrates a host of flying wonders (and not just the lovely marbled godwit) appeals, then flap your own wings and head north from...

APRIL 19 THROUGH APRIL 25: That is a Wednesday to a Tuesday, yes, meaning the 22nd annual Godwit Days is no shortie, be-quick bird bash. You'll have to time to dig into "over 90 tours" including a kayak adventure on Stone Lagoon at Humboldt Lagoons State Park. Called "an important estuary for migrating birds," the "enclosed body of brackish water" is on the area go-to spots for major beak-beautiful action. A bonus? Redwood National Park, which is close to the lagoon, is free over the April 22 and 23 weekend. There are a full caboodle of outings, though, so scrolling through and finding the feathers you hope to see is paramount. Is this how you want to observe Earth Day this year? With those who call the sky home? It's poetic but down-to-earth, all at once, and it is so very Humboldt County. Getting a chance to say hi to the redwoods of the area is a pretty plus, too.

Photo Credit: Godwit Days]]>
<![CDATA[Dry Creek Valley: Passport Weekend]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:27:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AtSeghesioFamilyVineyardscharliegessell.jpg

FAREWELL, LOVELY APRIL: How does one properly, and with joyful respect, bid goodbye to what is widely considered to be the sweetest of months? It does end on a Sunday in 2017, but it wouldn't do to spend the day running errands, or cleaning out the spare room, or organizing a closet. Making for the outdoors, to places known for leafy tendrils, and great growing things, and great tasting things, all while soaking in some rays, seems an appropriate action to take. Especially, of course, if you're wild for wine, and you enjoy getting to know the people who make the bottles you love best. It just so happens that the final two days of April 2017 will be gloriously given over to a passport event, one involving 45 wineries, in picturesque Dry Creek Valley. If this sounds far better than reordering your hangers — they'll still be there in May, promise — then purchase the $135 two-day passport, or $80 Sunday passport, find your designated driver pal (their ticket is $55), and head out to...

QUIVIRA VINEYARDS, where "...guests will have the chance to blend their own custom herb salts from biodynamically-grown estate herbs" or another winery, where you're bound to find special weekend-long doings, from a Beatles cover band to special themes (Prohibition shall be one, and, yes, "Caddyshack" another). A caboodle of accoladed chefs, too, will be in the valley, so plan to say hi to Charlie Palmer and a host of other fabulous food visionaries. And shall there be tours of various vineyards, the better to soak up those aforementioned rays? It would be a shame to spend the final hours of April strictly indoors. For all the Dry Creek goodness, and what the wineries will be up to during this 28th go-around, wend your way, with sunshine in your soul, to more news of this late-April affair.

Photo Credit: Charlie Gessell]]>
<![CDATA[Mammoth Mountain: This Is April]]> Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:05:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/407mammoth19212321.jpg

WELP! There's lots more snow up in one of the snowiest spots around, and this is no April Fool's joke, as April Fool's Day happened a week ago as of this typing, and the fourth month of the year is slowly moving toward May. And the snow arriving at Mammoth Mountain just ahead of the second weekend of April wasn't of the "five minutes of flurries and done" assortment, no sirree. Some 20 to 26 inches of flakeage fell in and around the ski resort overnight on April 6 and 7, and sky watchers are predicting up to five feet "at the top of the mountain" courtesy of this particular storm. Which means the whole Memorial Day Weekend ski scene, and into the Independence Day runs, look to be more and more merry. As for the base? The Main Lodge is at 165", the Summit stands at 320", and some 562 inches have fallen this season at the Main Lodge. That number starts with a "5" we should repeat, which is about as jaw-dropping as snowy stats get. But if you're already dreaming of next season, then ponder the...

CALI4NIA PASS, which is A) on sale at its "early-bird rate" and B) may be used "immediately" at Mammoth Mountain (not to mention June Mountain and Big Bear). So if you want to get some spring skiing in, which, let's be frank, is a lot like heart-of-winter skiing as of early April, you can buy your 2017-2018 pass and use it right now. Aaaand, then, have for when everything revs up, in November, for another (fingers/poles/mittens crossed) big season. Tempted? Want to go? Want to see all of that snow for yourself? Summer's coming, but, up the mountain, it still has that mid-January, bundle-up, ski-fun vibe.

Photo Credit: Peter Morning]]>
<![CDATA[The Empress Hotel: Sleeping Dogs Package]]> Mon, 10 Apr 2017 21:38:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/EmpressHotelLaJolla-CA-Pet.jpg

ROVER ROAD TRIP: While many a pooch sports a modern moniker these days, there are some pups that keep to the old-school classics, like Fido, Spot, and Rover. If you've got a Rover of your own, either in name or spirit, then you know that he likely likes to, well, rove. Exploring the neighbors' yards, and the park, are of utmost importance to him, and having some daily adventure, too, whether that involves treats, snuggles, or both. But we people also have the love of roving, even if our names don't happen to be Rover (how cool that would be, though, if humans could rock dog names). And roving often takes us on weekend getaways, or quick overnights, to some of our state's prettiest communities, and very often with our own Rover at our side. But finding a hotel that will both accept Rover, and even do a bit of spoiling, can be as tricky as catching a ball, with your mouth, in mid-air. Except, of course, if you're...

THE EMPRESS HOTEL, which not only gives a warm hello to hounds but offers a Sleeping Dog Package. A pet bed will be provided for your little one to snooze upon during her stay, and "a baggie of milk bones" is also part of the deal, as is a "one-time reduced pet fee." As for walkies, and being out and about with your tail-wagger, check it out: The Empress is right in the village of La Jolla, a place known for loving upon pups. There are, in short, a number of streets filled with shops and stuff, and taking your furry one out for an afternoon of strolling, and other people cooing at him, should be part of your visit. But if you don't have a pup, The Empress has...

OTHER GOOD PACKAGES APLENTY... to explore, including a Romance Package and an Extended Stay deal, too. As for what's new at the Greystone property? A "top to bottom" renovation recently wrapped, with a fresh look that's "...evocative of La Jolla" (a look that includes new furnishings and other touches like art work and wallpaper). Photographer Aaron Goulding's pieces highlighting area beaches are displayed throughout the hotel, and the patio on the second floor? That also was renovated, and serves as a lovely breakfast spot. For a peek at the gussied-up property, or to get to know it a bit better, it's this way to the Fay Avenue destination.

Photo Credit: Auda & Coudayre Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Edie, The Claremont's 'Canine Ambassador']]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edieclaremont123.jpg

LET'S NOT GET ALL GUSHY... Hold up. Wait. Yes, let's get gushy, because the notion of striding into a stylish hotel and being greeted by a licky, lovable, treat-craving, scratch-my-ears "ambassador" would thoroughly melt anyone's business-like exterior. The fact is, though, that most hotels don't have such ambassadors, and entering the building, and checking in, is, for the most part, 100% devoid of any dog kisses. Sometimes something enchanted happens, though, especially when an historical property is the enchanted story's location. Which all leads to this: The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel has a brand-new four-footed staffer named Edie.

THIS IS THE VERY EDIE... that charmed Pittsburgh, and even made the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine, when she served as the canine ambassador at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel. She "retired" with a move to the West Coast, but she clearly craved her calling, which is greeting, charming, and loving upon hotel guests. Edie was "trained in the assistant dog program at Circle Tail, Inc. in Ohio" but she soon trotted her way to a career in hotels, and her current position, as an ambassador for the landmark Berkeley property. Does she sport a nametag? Yes. (Cue "awwws.") Does she have an email address and her own Instagram? Please. You know this superstar must have both, because her fans will want to see and know about her day-to-day, regularly.

MIGHT YOU COME ACROSS SWEET EDIE, upon your arrival at The Claremont, savoring a fancy treat or lounging in her bed, which is adjacent to the concierge desk? You definitely could. The short (tail) of it? A dog in a grand hotel lobby feels like a touching way to connect guests with a touch of home. That Edie is so adorable, and approachable, only ups that cuddlesome connection.

Photo Credit: c]]>
<![CDATA[Two Bunch Palms: Coachella Deal]]> Sun, 09 Apr 2017 12:06:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twobunchcoachella123.jpg

IF YOU'RE INTO THE FESTIVAL SCENE, you know that it can be, at times, on the hectic side. There is the socializing aspect, yes, and the seeing of friends and acquaintances, but there's also the need to reach the concert grounds, and the procuring of vittles and beverages, and the general rush-and-go that comes before your favorite band ever takes the stage. With this in mind, a number of hotels and inns around the desert resort cities are brewing up some stay-overs, including those places that keep it on the quiet, peaceful, bliss-out side of things. Few desert destinations can lay claim to those qualities like Two Bunch Palms, the Desert Hot Springs oasis that holds fast to a calm vibe. There are those famous mud baths, too, and the Grotto with its "two carved pool areas... one of the few mineral springs with no sulfurous odor, just a woodsy scent." It's an ideal destination to do the whole wind-down thing if you're headed to the...

COACHELLA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL: That's lively, hoo boy, so finding a retreat that's chill is a good move. And here's another good move: Two Bunch Palms is offering a Coachella special, one that's available from April 17 through April 24. Book and see 15% shaved off your stay, not to mention a credit worth $50 (that can be used at the spa; also, it's per room). Are you thinking of calling upon the beautiful desert during one of its most bustling moments? Find your Grotto, your quiet, some roadrunners and desert breezes, and a discount, too, at Two Bunch Palms.

Photo Credit: Two Bunch Palms]]>
<![CDATA[Henry Miller Memorial Library Goes Carmel]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 09:51:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hmmlcarmel.jpeg

BIG SUR DISTINCTIVE: When it comes to places that are especially Big Sur, in character, in vibe, in look, in everything, well... You can likely name at least a dozen. And that's a good thing, as we do live in a world where homogeneity, and sameness, can too often reign. We want those destinations we adore to be distinctively themselves, and few spots are as utterly distinctive, and delightful, as Big Sur, and the businesses and attractions that call it home. But Big Sur, as it now widely known, is still very much dealing with the winter of 2016-2107, and the wild havoc wreaked upon Highway 1. Yep,

PFEIFFER CANYON BRIDGE, at least in its former incarnation, no longer exists at this typing, and a new bridge is, well, down the road, literally and spiritually. So how can we help those businesses impacted by a dearth of traffic, as in almost no traffic, face the months to come? Big Sur buffs are surely planning their visits the moment their favorite businesses are again accessible. But here's something that can be done right now, if you're a maven of the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a Big Sur institution that's rife with charm, words, sounds, and nature: Donate at the library's GoFundMe page.

WHAT'S AFOOT FOR THE HENRY MILLER? It's going to open a satellite library in Carmel-by-the-Sea near the end of May 2017, as a way to both reach out to fans and staunch the loss of income it is facing. Henry Miller Library in the Barnyard "will bring Big Sur to town," says the page, and offer all of the elements fans love about the oh-so-funky, deeply centered place: books, conversation, art, ideas, and an approach to loving/living life that is quintessentially Big Sur. If you want to help this temporary move, and assist the library in "bridging the gap" while Highway 1 is mended, you can. 

THE LIBRARY'S CHEEKY BUMPER STICKER, which reflects the humorous but high-minded philosophy of the library, has long touted the Henry Miller as a place "Where Nothing Happens." But something is happening with the Henry Miller Memorial Library, right now, and it will help its future fitness, as well as those fans who miss visiting the Big Sur bastion of bookful bliss.

Photo Credit: Henry Miller Memorial Library]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Festivals: Summer '17 Scene]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:47:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bottlerock2015onsale.jpg From music to family fun, the region is all about getting outdoors and savoring sunshine, art, and tunes in the coming months.

Photo Credit: BottleRock Napa Valley]]>
<![CDATA[May at Yosemite: Mondo Waterfall Wow]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:22:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/yosemite22.jpg

WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING, wherever you are, whatever you're eating, whatever you're watching, whatever errand you're running, whatever phone call you're making, you can be assured of this: Something sweet and wonderful is currently on the move in Yosemite. It might be the rustling branches of a tall tree, moved by the wind, or it might be a little bird scurrying through the brush. Perhaps it is one of the national park's black bears — there, is in fact, a new site that tracks these furry fellows (and advises we humans on how to help keep them safe) — or perhaps the moving thing is a leaf floating along the Merced River. And if it is May, or June, the moving thing might be a water droplet falling over the side of a way-high ledge at Ribbon Fall. In fact, of all the moving things at the beloved, Sierra-based national park, drops of water in a waterfall might be the most plentiful, giving the mega amounts of H2O that plunge over the sides of mountains near Yosemite Valley. And those mega amounts get the most mega, if we might phrase it that way, when May happens. And, spoiler alert, as of this typing...

MAY WILL SOON HAPPEN, meaning waterfall fans will be heading to Ribbon Fall and Bridalveil Fall and Nevada Fall and, holler, Yosemite Falls to watch the powerful springtime show. A show that's certainly being enhanced in the spring of 2017, thanks to all of snowflakes that feel in the upper reaches of California over the winter. Which begs the question: Are there more snowflakes in the Sierra Nevada or drops of water in a Yosemite National Park? Discuss/bicker/ponder with your nature-loving BFF. When you're done pondering, study up on...

WHEN AND WHERE THE FALLS... will do their fierce, rainbows-in-the-spray stuff. Sentinel Falls sees a start around March, per the National Park Service page, while Bridalveil Fall keeps it rocking throughout the calendar (though May is "peak"). Horsetail Fall is, you guessed it, a wintertime favorite, with a cold-weather run that hits its zenith with that late-February "fire" show at sunset. But numerous other water-droppers around the valley will be waterfalling their collective hearts out as May approaches, and even beyond. Know your falls? We know you do, but you can brush up here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mardi Gras for Mushrooms at Morgan Hill]]> Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:26:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mushgetty203232.jpg

FLIP THROUGH ANY FOODIE MAG... and you're bound, at some point, to come across stacks and groupings and slivers of a certain edible. It's an edible that can appear in the gooey cheese oozing out of a fancy sandwich, or atop a pizza, or tossed with some fusilli and parsley, or between two hamburger bun slices. We speak, with mystery and admiration, of the mushroom, a tasty bit of earthy magic that is often called into enhance other eats while secretly serving as the star of the show. And why shouldn't this frequent star, a pungent, filling, deeply flavorful staple, get its own stage now and then? It doesn't always have to be lifting pasta or pizza or omelets to a new level. Mushrooms have their own song to sing, and sing, they do, and have, for decades, in Morgan Hill. It's the...

MORGAN HILL MUSHROOM MARDI GRAS, and it returns on Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28. As with many fest-fun starters to the summer season, the Mushroom Mardi Gras will have an arts & crafts area as well as a stretch devoted to fine arts. Music, street buskery, and other delights for ear and eye await, as do a whole caboodle of portobella-tastic to-dos. Think cooking demos, and a mushroom-related educational exhibit, and a variety of ways to try the snackable celebrity, from deep-fried to soup-based yum. If you're not strictly a portabella person, crimini and white mushrooms of the "just-picked" variety will also make the festival scene. It's a festival, by the by, which will soon turn 40. That's because fungus has staying power, in our sandwiches, on our pizzas, and in our dish-bettering, pasta-wowing hearts. Mushroom your jam? Here's your plan for the last weekend of May 2017.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Coachella Chow Down: The Eats to Expect]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 10:31:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/outstandinginthefieldcoachella1.jpg

Desert Dining: You don't need to participate in too much reminiscing, or recalling of festivals of the past, to know that eating at a major concert has changed in recent years. Used to be you might grab a bag of chips at a stand outside of the venue, and maybe a soda, and that was basically your sustenance ahead of the show. That's no longer the case, very much so, now that some of California's biggest weekend-long tune extravaganzas put as much emphasis as who is doing the cooking, and cocktailing, as who is rocking the stage. The Coachella Music & Arts Festival is right up there in the tony pantheon of plate-based deliciousness, and the 2017 reveal of chefs, foodstuffs, and special dining events make the two-weekend Indio-based bash a big draw for discerning foodies. And while the stands and booths and grills will boast names and dishes many festival-goers recognize, one of the biggest food happenings isn't about a booth. It's the...

Outstanding in the Field... dinners, a nightly sit-down alfresco experience that will gather some 200 diners around an under-the-sky table for a sublime culinary experience. Different top toques'll helm the various nights, which kick off on April 14 and wrap on April 23 (like Coachella, there are six nights in all). A "(f)estival pass is required" to join, and you'll want to arrive promptly for that "welcoming cocktail." It's a swanky scene, one that elevates festival chow-down-ing to a truly gourmand level. But if you're looking for an artisan scoop of ice cream, a fancy hot dog, or a bevy of other also-stylish food choices, those will quite literally dot the festival, too (and you don't need an appointed time nor reservation to enjoy). Birdies, MatchaBar, Milk Box, and NoMad are but four of the many (many) food-excelling participants. Need to know about both Outstanding in the Field and the wider Eat & Drink scene at the April-famous festival? The info is out and piping hot.

Photo Credit: Outstanding in the Field]]>
<![CDATA[Lovely Lompoc: That Wildflower Moment]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:28:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ExploreLompoc_Yellow_Wildflowers_Spring.jpg

THAT NEW BLOOM: Juuuust when a wildflower aficionado thinks that things have begun to wrap up for the season, a fresh spread of buds and blossoms is sighted, and springtime continues along its mirthful, marvelous path. There were the February sightings of cactus flowers around the California deserts (regions that are still seeing some impressive action, even into April), and then the poppies and brass buttons and goldfields of March, as well as the other flowers found in less arid expanses of the state. The fourth month is delivering, too, both at Carrizo Plain National Monument and around Lompoc, a town known for its impressive flower fields. But the flowers springing up around the mural-cool destination as April revs up aren't in cultivated plots but rather can be found upon hillsides, and along roads, and in other areas that are ready 'n ripe for some spectacular wildflower action. Legging it to Lompoc for a day? Make for...

LA PURISMA MISSION STATE PARK, where morning glory, prickly phlox, and other flowers are making a stunning stand, or Highway 1 "just past the Gaviota Pass" for a look at lupine (oh, and those classic California icons, poppies). Jalama Road is known for its mustard-y sights, as well as poppies, and Santa Rosa Road and Drum Canyon Road are favorite wildflower (and wine) destinations, too. A best bet? Check in with Explore Lompoc, to gauge the flower scene and get the very latest reports, before making for the Santa Barbara County burg. Or await the arrival of the Flower Fields, which are, of course, not wild, but still offer petal people quite a visual show.

Photo Credit: Lompoc]]>
<![CDATA[McEvoy Ranch: Alfresco Olive Oil Tastings]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 13:09:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ahp_mcevoyranch_wine+tasting_IMG_9722.jpg

WHAT IS IT ABOUT SPRINGTIME... that makes us long to go outdoors and dine near trees and hills? We could craft a poem about this particular desire, or we could cut to the chase and state it plainly: The weather is growing warmer and it is lovely to be out in the fresh air. Still, though, basking in all of that sunshine and balminess, while sitting in the vicinity of trees and plants and glorious vistas, can be enhanced in a number of pleasing ways, with "wine tasting" and "olive oil tasting" at a "picturesque destination" pretty much topping that particular roster. It's a good thing that California has a few places to savor all of these elements — sunny skies, billowy clouds, nice vistas, olive oil, and vino — though finding your go-to spot, and the right date, is a must.

MCEVOY RANCH, the 550-acre spread just a pinch outside of Petaluma's heart, offers occasional public tours, walk-arounds that give olive oil aficionados a peek inside "one of the largest U.S. producers of estate-grown, certified organic extra virgin olive oil," with a tasting serving as the visit's crowning, taste bud-pleasing event. May 19, 2017 will be devoted to the theme of "Growing and Appreciating Great Olive Oil: From Orchard to Table," while "walkabout" tours focus on the sights and history of the ranch, rather than tastings. 

EITHER WAY... you'll get some behind-the-scenes-y glances into a major olive oil destination, one that is set in a pretty stretch of serene, hilly country. Springtime tells us to go outside, and explore, and you can do that, either with a walk-around or an olive oil-devoted day, at the Marin County-based ranch. Want to see more to-dos at McEvoy? Lace up your hiking boots and tromp in this direction.

Photo Credit: McEvoy Ranch]]>
<![CDATA[Madonna Inn Peeptini: It's Back]]> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:28:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/madonnapeeptini17.jpg

IF THERE WAS A MAP, detailing all of the beautiful hues filling the Golden State, where would you find the color sandy beige? You might look first to Death Valley National Park, which boasts about a hundred different shades of the color sand. Up in the Sierra Nevada it truly is all about fir green, and over near Palm Springs? We'd have to go with swimming pool blue as its iconic, pleasing-to-the-eye entry. But if we're going to get into a certain spot just off the 101, in San Luis Obispo, a place known for displaying the full spectrum of the color wheel, we'd had say that pink, truly bright pink, reigns as the hue of choice. It is the...

MADONNA INN... we're quite obviously talking about, that landmark roadside motel that features rosy pink in several of its themed rooms, its famous Gold Rush Steak House, and, yes, its towering, frosting-thick Pink Champagne Cake. (You do remember correctly, that pink chocolate, the iconic chocolate that's long been a part of this particular cake, was briefly on vacation in 2016, but it is back, back, back.) Now, though, there's something else adding to the pink-o-sity that is the Madonna Inn, and it is the annual...

PEEPTINI: A pretty pink Peep is the centerpiece of this cocktail, one that includes "Ketel One Orange, Dr. McGillicuddy's Raw Vanilla, and orange juice." There is sugar on the rim, just to up the overall sweetness, and as for how long it'll peep-around the hotel? Just through Easter, of course, which is on April 16 in 2017. Is the Madonna Inn just about the pinkest place in the Golden State? Sip your Peeptini and discuss with your favorite California-loving, holiday drink-seeking co-adventurer.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Monterey Tides 'Light My Fire' Package]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:25:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Monterey+Tides_Beach_Bonfire+copy.jpg

WHEN DAYDREAMING... about an ocean-awesome getaways, your wandering mind likely alights upon a few different in-the-future features. You'll want a large sun hat, and some flip-flops, and a juicy book, most probably. You'll long to see some sea birds, and a memorable sunset, and perhaps a sand castle or two (even a castle that's partially washed away by the surf, which makes it all the more romantic). And could there be a beach bonfire? Well... that can be rather trickier than finding a pair of flip-flops that fit, for bonfires on the sand require a few steps, and they have to be in an okay'd spot, and you may not have the wood... You get it. There's some effort that goes into finding your crackling, surf-close spot, but a package at the Monterey Tides Hotel does away with the "effort" end of things and puts you and your paramour right there, on the sand, near the Pacific, as the flames do their salty-air'd dance. It's all part of the...

LIGHT MY FIRE PACKAGE, and your stay at the Monterey Bay getaway includes both a bonfire kit and the all-important s'mores kits, for everyone knows that when a bonfire is present, melty marshmallow sticky dessert fun must be present, too. The package also includes a $100 credit at the hotel (it's for eats and drinks, specifically) and a bottle of sparkling wine. Where's the Joie de Vivre inn located? It's a short drive to Fisherman's Wharf and the aquarium, in case you need a break from the sand scene. A short break, of course, for once you've settled in a few feet from the waves, "settling out" can be a bit of challenge. Better stick close to your bonfire and have another s'more.

Photo Credit: a]]>
<![CDATA[National Parks Week: Free Entry]]> Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:37:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/joshuaGettyImages-281026.jpg

NATIONAL PARK LOVE: How much do you moon over those tree-laden, cliff-tastic, waterfall-fabulous, cactus-colorful, trail-terrific, beach-beautiful bastions of wilderness, history, and grandeur? If you can't spread your arms wide enough, in a classic "this much" move, there are other ways to show your devotion to our national parks. The most obvious way is to go to them, and walk gently and reverently among their pines and rivers and boulders, taking all you brought in with you when you leave. Another way is to join a clean-up effort, like the annual Yosemite Facelift. And you can observe National Park Week each April, which spotlights our gorgeous go-tos, the issues they face, the people who work there, and the future of the system. Making this observance all the more easy for everyone is that there are four — count 'em, four — free-entrance days during National Park Week, which makes April the "mostest" month when it comes to pay-nothing days at our parks. A few must-knows about...

NATIONAL PARK WEEK... include the dates, so let's start there. The week is on from April 15 through 23, 2017, and that does indeed coincide with Earth Day, should you want to honor that holiday with a communion with nature. The free days, though? They fall on the weekends of National Park Week, do note, so you're looking at April 15 and 16 and April 22 and 23. That's right, the whole week isn't free, but the weekends are. And, true, not every national park charges a get-in fee, but some do, like Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park. There are several doings happening during the week, from ranger talks to tours, so plan now, then get to packing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mike Powell AllSport]]>
<![CDATA[Morro Bay: Otters Seen in 'Record Numbers']]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 13:35:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MorroBaySeaOttersfromColemansBeach.jpg

OTTERS BEYOND THE AQUARIUM: If you've ever lingered before a large window, or above a briny pool, while watching an otter twist and dive and roll and snack and be utterly, 100% adorable, you know there's only one word to describe how you're feeling: transfixed. Yes, there's probably a crowd at the window, because, spoiler alert, otters are way, way popular, and otters aren't always being super-cute, meriting your state of transfix-a-tude. (Wait, yes they are.) It's an enchanting, oh-so-California-y experience, admiring otter antics in an aquarium, but then... There's seeing the furry fellows out in the Big Water, hanging out, tending to their grooming needs, seeking dinner, and whoa: That is a thrill, one that zooms up transfixed scale, for sure. But where to possibly, fingers-crossed, whiskers-crossed, everything-crossed come across an otter, or several, out in the waves? Look to...

MORRO BAY, which has been seeing "record numbers" of otters recently, per Discover Morro Bay. "A survey taken last May of the Morro Bay harbor documented 36 adult sea otters and nine pups, a significantly higher number than the typical five or fewer otters frequenting the harbor in the early 2000s." Prepare to sigh: "Mommas and babies are everywhere eating and grooming each other as if no one is watching." Sweet stuff, but you can have a peek yourself, right now, at the Morro Bay otter scene, via a video taken in March 2017. Where should you go, once you're in view of the big rock? Make for Morro Bay Harbor Walk or Coleman Beach near the intersection of Coleman Drive and the Embarcadero.

Photo Credit: Maryann Stansfield]]>
<![CDATA[California Wines: Down to Earth Month]]> Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:38:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/219*120/wine+country.jpg

APRIL IS A MONTH... that's flush with nature-found gifts, from flowering fruit trees to sunshiny afternoons to beachside mornings that aren't too cool (but aren't yet too warm). It's also when we celebrate Earth Day by hosting a caboodle of festivals focused on eco-minded topics and creative ways to conserve energy. Many Golden State wineries also mark the day by honoring planetary causes over the entire fourth month in a host of ways, under the banner of Down to Earth Month. Down to Earth Month launches on April 1, when "California wineries will be offering dozens of sustainability-focused events and activities (including) Earth Day Wine Festivals, farm-to-glass tours, and walks with the winemaker to vineyard hikes, VIP eco-tours, and more." Finding out if your favorite vineyard is up to something is as easy as...

CHECKING THE SCHEDULE: Even if your go-to grape place isn't participating, you can bet another label you like will be on the roster, or one you've perhaps wanted to get to know. Look to to-dos like the Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley happening, on April 23, which will feature several wineries showing off their lovely libations at Iron Horse Vineyards. And the wineries around the Santa Cruz Mountains will host a Passport Day on Saturday, April 15, and visitors are encouraged, while there, to check out the Organic Wine Trail. It's all about great wines and new introductions, for sure, but also about spreading the word on the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance's Sustainable Winegrowing Program. If you want to know more, if you want to delve into April's sweetnesses, or if you want to find a new-to-you winery that folds in sustainable steps in its daily doings, begin your Earth Month adventure here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Healdsburg Ambrosial: Rose Garden Time]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 20:54:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GardenKazanlikFieldsandAlleeMK.jpg

PEEK OVER THE HEDGE... that runs alongside your neighbor's garden, or glance into a courtyard at your workplace or university, and you're bound to see one of the marvelous sights of late March and early April: Roses unfolding in all of their fragrant, showy, fancy-fabulous glory. Of course, when a particular bud'll do the opening-up thing depends on many factors, including place, soil, weather, and such, but you can count on April to be fairly astounding when it comes to this, the most famous of flowers. (An opinion, true, but we're taking all of those sonnets and poems and book covers into consideration.) But if peeking over hedges into gardens and passing through courtyards next to your office aren't quite delivering that rosy thrill you seek, well, seek a spot in Healdsburg, one that comes into its perfume-perfect prime when month #4 opens its doors. It's the...

RUSSIAN RIVER ROSE COMPANY, which shall welcome rose-adoring aficionados on every Saturday and Sunday in April and May. As is tradition at the colorful, bucolic plot, each weekend has its own zingy thing, from an iris focus on April 8 and 9 to a Mother's Day Weekend on May 13 and 14. The popular Perfume Rose Harvest Tours will soon start up, and the company will keep the frolicsome 'n flowery spirit aloft all the way through the warmer months and into the fall, where the schedule shortens a bit. The nursery marked its 25th anniversary a couple of years back, meaning a lot of happy noses have gently sniffed in the vicinity of thousands of exquisite, tenderly grown roses. If rose water, rose hues, and rose everything makes your own spirit bloom, spending an hour among the blossoms, rather than just peeking over hedges, is clearly in order this spring.

Photo Credit: Russian River Valley Roses]]>
<![CDATA[Napa Valley: Arts in April]]> Thu, 30 Mar 2017 21:03:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CTTC140813103204_2185.jpg

WINE COUNTRY TRUE FACT: A traveler with an open schedule almost never "spends" time strolling around a pretty Napa Valley village; rather, one whiles away their afternoon in a delicious, let's-look-around fashion. For Napa Valley is one of the most while-away-rich regions in the state, an area that not only offers wineries and restaurants aplenty but places to see things, too. Those places often fall under the "gallery" header, but they also might include sculpture-filled courtyards and gardens. The upshot here? Art and N.V. are a longtime dream team, regardless of what the calendar might say. But should the calendar say "April" then you know that the stretch of towns along Highway 29, and beyond the road, too, will being staging a host of art-focused, painting-beautiful, come-and-enjoy events. For that's...

ARTS IN APRIL TIME, and the month-long happening is again ready to stretch its wings, and line up the wine glasses, and spotlight the sculptures, over four weeks. There's a plethora of parties and events to comb through, with 40 goings-on ahead, but consider putting Arts in the Streets in St. Helena on your must-do roster — that's on Saturday, April 15 — or FLOW: Arts at the River in Napa, which rounds out the whole caboodle of creative soirees on the final day of the month. But maybe the way to go is to check out all of the Arts in April events to see if one piques your personal interest and coincides with a valley visit you have planned. Are you ready to do some whiling away, Napa Valley-style? There probably is no month finer than the fourth 'n fabulous month of the year.

Photo Credit: Visit California/Carol Highsmith]]>
<![CDATA[Animal Awwws: America's Family Pet Expo]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 07:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TLMD-perro-labrador-st-shutterstock-st.jpg

FIRST THINGS FURST, we mean "first," of course (though fur and feathers and scales and paws and whiskers are at the forefront of our mind): When attending the mondo America's Family Pet Expo, which spreads out at the OC Fair & Event Center each spring, you'll want to be on your own. Or, to clarify, your little bundle of lickable, scratchy-of-ear joy should stay home, or with grandma, or her favorite sitter, for although "pet" is in the very name of this oh-so-big, three-day animal convention, it isn't a thing that animals can attend. Now, that's been cleared up, here's what will happen should you make your way to Costa Mesa for the long weekend of wonderful beastly doings: You'll get alllll sorts of information, and ideas, and notions, about how to better care for and love upon and exercise with and tend to your #1 bestie. And it matters not if that bestie is a Pomeranian, or a tortoise, or a goldfish: All sorts of critters are covered at...

"THE WORLD'S LARGEST PET & PRODUCTS EXPO": Yep, that's some billing, but when you glance down the list of to-dos and have-to-sees at the April 28-30 convention, you do wonder how you'll fold it all into a day or two. The exhibitor list? Huge, and that's not just the excitement talking. You'll scroll, scroll, scroll. Donegal Donkey Sanctuary, Handfed with Love, and Nature's Pet Cuisine will be in the house, as will hundreds of other organizations and businesses. As for watch-this things, look for JUMP! The Ultimate Dog Show, a Tortoise Petting Zoo, Backyard Chicken Fun!, and several other demonstrations and get-close opportunities. It's an animal love-in, a celebration of those wing-rocking, shell-splendid, paw-cute cuties we live with, and if you're really reallllly into your critters, this could be a fine spot to bone-up on what's new, what's cool, and what's adorable. Info? Bark bark (which is, of course, "click here" in dog speak).

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Terranea: Sea Salt Conservatory Celebration]]> Sat, 01 Apr 2017 08:59:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/terraneaseasalt2212.jpg

SIZABLE RESORTS... can offer a whole plethora of unusual amenities and distinct on-property destinations, the kind of happenings and locations that set them apart in a guest's memory. But, quite often, something comes along to a hotel that is a stand-out, both in theme and what that something offers. Example A? When the Sea Salt Conservatory debuted at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes in the spring of 2015, people likely had to pause and consider if they'd ever seen such a thing on the grounds of a hotel before. Moreover, this isn't just any sea salt conservatory, but one that houses salt that originates in the waves just beyond the handsome bluff that's home to the resort. Houses and assists the evaporation process that helps salt on its journey to our plates. Call it local sea salt, with Pacific cred, and call the chance to attend a special happening at the greenhouse-like building a pretty nifty thing, if you're into interesting foodie gatherings, not to mention wine tastings, too. For on...

FRIDAY, APRIL 7, Terranea Resort will partner with ONEHOPE Wine to host a Sea Salt Conservatory Celebration, which will mark the second anniversary of the flavorful little building. It's a complimentary wine tasting, but consider purchasing a bottle of ONEHOPE while there, as the company supports several organizations and causes that aid the natural world. In fact, the company donates half of its proceeds to these causes, the better to make a true "social impact" on the world. If you've never sipped wine at sunset in a sea salt conservatory, your chance is on the near horizon. Oh, and speaking of horizons, you can see Catalina Island from Terranea Resort, a stunner of a view, as well as that wide, wide, salty, mysterious, did-we-say-wide? ocean, the resort's epic neighbor.

Photo Credit: Terranea Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Mission Inn: Hollywood Glamour Package]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 09:43:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/183*120/missioninn.jpg

HOTEL STAYS... can involve a whole kaleidoscope of goals. You may be looking for the classic rest 'n relaxation set-up during your away-from-home overnight. You may want to spend some time alongside a pool, or dining in a fine restaurant, or simply spending an hour in a lobby, a prime people-watching spot. Mostly you want to leave the workaday cares behind you for a day or two, all while feeling a tad special or extraordinary or beyond. Few places around California feel as "beyond" as the Mission Inn, that nook-nice, cranny-tastic castle of a hotel that's plunk in the middle of Riverside. It's been a celebrated star getaway for decades — Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned at the hotel — and today the Mission Inn honors its legendary past in a number of ways. One of the newest is the...

OLD HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR PACKAGE, which is very much focused upon, fabulously, a series of treatments at the on-site Kelly's Spa. The package includes a Little Luxury Massage (30 minutes), a Hollywood Oxygen Glow Facial (that's 50 minutes), a classic manicure, eyebrow sculpting, and green passion tea. Will you be red-carpet ready following all of this getaway-gorgeous primping? No worries if there isn't a red carpet nearby, for there is that long walkway through the Mission Inn's nicely appointed lobby. You can strut down that walkway a few times, feeling the after-spa glow, then settle into a chair, with a tea or cocktail, to get some people-watching, vacation-relaxing in before you go. Prices, details, and such? Follow your own red carpet in this direction.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn Hotel and Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Outside Lands: Eager Beaver Passes]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:13:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/olstageGettyImages-150243017.jpg

"GETTING A JUMP"... on something frequently means, at least in terms of our ever-on-the-go, stay-always-forever-busy worlds, wrapping up everyday to-dos and this-and-that business. In short? We gotta wrap our errands, boy, and book that appointment, and clean the kitchen before the party this weekend, and, and... Well, yeah. All necessary, no quibbles, and definitely clean your kitchen, as that's where 90% of your guests'll be hanging out, for sure. But "getting a jump" can also apply to our sweet and fancy-free revelries, too, the non-everyday stuff that adds the fragrance and fun-time-ing to our worlds. For instance, if there was a huge, three-day music-and-food festival, the kind of mega weekend-big bash that taps all of your happy spots, wouldn't you also want to get the jump on that, if such a jump were to be made possible? You likely would, yes. Now get your leaping sneakers on, for...

OUTSIDE LANDS 2017... is about to start selling a bunch of Eager Beaver Tickets to the Aug. 11 through 13 music festival. Prepare to see "...ALL 3-day tickets" become available for purchase on Thursday, March 30, yep yep, so we're talking general admission, VIP, and shuttle and parking passes, too. If it is your true and faithful intention to attend the Golden Gate Park party as much as you possibly can, as in all three days, as in all the hours it is on, obviously a 3-dayer pass is the wise way to go. So how 'bout it, Eager Beavers? Can getting a jump on stuff also include the stuff that makes life extra sweet? You don't need to nibble away at that question, like a log, for the answer: "Getting a jump" also meanings jumping into the joyful things, too. (Now time to clean the kitchen, or at least wipe down the counters.)

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tea at Hakone: Spring 2017 Opening]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:13:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hakonesprin17tea.jpg

"GOING TO TEA"... can mean a number of things, depending upon the time of day and the place and the in-the-moment preference of the person making the statement. Perhaps the person is a boba buff, and simply needs some tapioca-based enjoyment while on the run. Perhaps the tea fan adores crustless sandwiches, the kind with watercress and eggs, and desires an hour or two a British-style experience. But if a person longs for a truly historical spot where some delicious, warm brew is woven with tradition, history, and loads of garden-glorious beauty, they should turn their tea-seeking gaze upon Saratoga, where an annual warm-weather affair will soon begin again. It's the...

PUBLIC TEA CEREMONY... at 100-year-old Hakone Estate and Gardens, "one of the oldest Japanese Gardens in the western United States." It's an hourlong demonstration that puts the emphasis on authenticity, and guests will depart having a solid sense as to how the established steps of the centuries-old ceremony unfolds. And other informative aspects, too, including dress, as the ceremony's Japanese Tea Master will be donned in time-honored clothing while leading the Omotesenke-style tea service. It's $7 to join, in addition to the admission fee to the gardens, and everything unfolds, with splendor and story, at the Cultural Events Center. But do note that this special happening is only on the third Sunday of every month, and it wraps again in November 2017. Even though the window is a bit tight, do not that there are three seatings every third Sunday, all around midday and early afternoon. The very first 2017 date? It's Sunday, April 16, which is also Easter Sunday.

Photo Credit: Hakone Estate and Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[Housekeeping Camp: 2017 Opening Date]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 07:24:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/housekeepingcampopens2016.jpg

CONVEY YOUR CAMPING LOVE: How do you possibly and adequately, via words and gestures and facial expressions and even some interpretative dance, explain your affection for Yosemite Valley in the springtime to a person who doesn't know you? There are, as some often say, truly no words, not if you feel an abiding, steadfast connection to the Place Where the Waterfalls Reign. Ah yes, springtime means lots of falling droplets, all over the national park's famous valley, and the desire to find a comfy rock and watch your favorite fall do its thing over several hours on a perfectly breezy April day is one shared by many. Perhaps you only need tell this inquiring stranger that your love for Yosemite in April is as tall as Bridalveil Fall and as solid as Half Dome. Accurate? Too poetic? Not poetic enough? Thought so. It sounds like you need some time in one of the best-loved spots on this planet, in an old-school, adored-by-many camp. We are, of course, talking about...

HOUSEKEEPING CAMP, which officially debuts on Friday, April 14, 2017, "weather permitting," just in time for all of that waterfall action (which can have a number of impressive weeks, let it be known). There are campfire rings for grilling at this camp, and views of Half Dome (sigh) and Yosemite Falls (sigh again) and a base that's but a short walk to the Merced River. As for where you'll sleep? Look for "concrete structures" complete with "canvas roofs and privacy curtains." There's a slew of to-knows, of course, and amenities, and tips, and all the good stuff you might need to know before your first trip to the camp, or just as a refresher, so get up on firewood 411, the pet policy, the camp store, and, yep, bears. Are the waterfalls calling? And the trees and river, too? How about every little twig and pine cone? Yep, it is time to once again say hello to outdoor, waterfall-awesome living, as Yosemite National Park yawns, stretches, and awakens for the spring.

Photo Credit: Aramark]]>
<![CDATA[Carpinteria Abloom: Field to Vase Dinner]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:48:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Carpinteriafieldtovase.jpg

BE TOTALLY HONEST: When you hear about extraordinary flowers, the kind of blooms that are speckled and fragrant and colossal and noteworthy, you probably think, more often than not, that they hail from California. Absolutely, other places produce exquisite petals of their own, but we do rock some Golden State pride when it comes to the beautiful blossoms that seem to so readily spring up 'round these parts. Which all means, with understandable reason, that a traveling dinner tour, one that makes flower-close dining a key component, will probably include California on the itinerary. And the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour 2017 has done just that, only, no surprise here, not once but twice. There's a dinner just ahead, in Carpinteria, at Gallup & Stribling Orchids on Thursday, March 30, and another in Carlsbad, at the famous Flower Fields, on Thursday, April 20. So what's this unique floral + food experience all about? Picture a...

"MULTI-COURSE MEAL"... that's served steps away from a bevy of buds. If you enjoy dining with an elaborate bouquet on the table, well, multiply that bouquet by a bunch, for the flowers will surround you as you eat and sip and socialize. Rincon Catering is behind the Carpinteria supper, a farm-to-table "artisan meal" enhanced by some of the most striking orchids around. Informative, flower-focused tours and meeting the growers who've made orchids or ranunculus blooms their calling are also part of the parties. Eager to know the gorgeous blooms beyond California, too? There are more Field to Vase events ahead for 2017, including evenings in Homer, Alaska and Waterford, Virginia.

Photo Credit: American Grown]]>
<![CDATA[Guac Delish: Fallbrook Avocado Festival]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 07:03:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/222*120/guacamole+dip+3434.jpg

WHEN IT COMES TO GUACAMOLE, the question isn't whether one should use a squeeze of lemon or lime, or extra cilantro, or scallions instead of onions. It's all about whether the bowl of creamy, tomato-dotted, piquant-perfect dip will make it allll the way to the refrigerator or not before being fully and totally devoured. And, if it does make it to the fridge, the follow-up question is this: How long will it remain there? An hour? Part of an hour? Will the light inside the refrigerator not even have a chance to go off before the bowl is retrieved? So many questions. But there's no question that some of the best guac-gifted innovators around make for Fallbrook each April, where the large-of-scale Avocado Festival takes place. It's a one-day to-do, and one of the headlining happenings is the Guacamole Contest. So if you have the perfect mixture of sour cream, a hint of hot sauce, some garlic shavings, and a few other additions you don't want to reveal at this time, then...

READ THE RULES... and fill out the form. "Best Tasting" and "Best Presentation" are two of the categories, and there are two prizes in each, for first place and second. As for the chips? Leave the bag at home; those are "provided," meaning your hands and arms are free to haul in the bowl of your carefully crafted concoction. A concoction, of course, that starts with the bumpy-of-skin, green-amazing fruit that is at the heart of every classic and non-traditional guacamole. Which route are you taking? You have a little time to ponder that, but not too long: The 2017 Fallbrook Avocado Festival is on Sunday, April 23.

Photo Credit: Guacamole]]>