Category Archive: California

5 Fun Facts for Friday: Irvine, California

Irvine, California, is located in the center of Orange County, just 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego. The center of the city is only seven miles from the . While its main activities were once missions, cattle grazing, and agriculture, today it’s the 8th largest city in the U.S. and is one of the nation’s largest planned urban communities. In 2017, Irvine has been named the 10th  “Best City to Live in America.” (Niche) and #3 on the list of  “10 Happiest Cities in the United States” (WalletHub). Yet, many travelers have still not heard of it directly, instead confusing it with neighboring Anaheim or lumping it together under the label of Orange County. John Wayne Airport (SNA) is located less than five minutes from the majority of Irvine’s hotels and is served by both […]

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Getaway to Universal Studios Hollywood

Heading to Universal Studios Hollywood during summer vacation was a frightening idea. The crowds, the lines, the mass of humanity crowded together pushing and shoving! But summer was the only time I could schedule a getaway to celebrate the 13th birthday for a family member. I set out to find a way to make it work both for the new teenager and for me. Here’s what I did as well as tips and recommendations for your own trip. Note:  This article was written in collaboration with Expedia.com who asked me to share my personal getaway guide to Universal Studios.  Choosing Your Dates Summer is vacation time, so there are a lot more people at Universal, and my top recommendation for timing is to go off-season, during the week while kids are in school, and to avoid weekends and holiday seasons. That […]

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Wine, Wineries and Vineyards On California’s Central Coast

California is the nation’s largest wine producer and California’s Central Coast offers some of the best wine and most breathtaking scenery in the state. Many wineries are small, family-owned operations so travelers have the opportunity to meet with the actual winemaker or proprietor to learn about the history and culture of this area. From Ventura up to Monterey, the cities of California’s Central Coast are home to tasting rooms and artisanal wineries while the valleys are home to picturesque vineyards and wine estates. As always with travel on California’s Central Coast, the best way to explore is a California road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Ventura Region Commonly known as the gateway to California’s wine region, Ventura County boasts its own world-class wine experience with numerous boutique wineries crafted from California’s best grapes. The best way to experience these […]

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10 Extraordinary Gardens in California

As the breadbasket of the country, California is known for its bountiful harvests of everything from avocados to grapes. But the Golden State is also home to a wealth of Eden-like gardens that thrive thanks to California’s mild weather and variety of microclimates. Here are 10 standouts, in no particular order, all with public access. Some are former estates, while others are public spaces set aside by cities for everyone’s enjoyment. Whatever their origin, all today represent a legacy of beauty and tranquility available to locals and visitors alike. 1. Park Gardens – San Diego San Diego is rightly celebrated for its sparkling water and lively Gas Lamp Quarter, but another treasure can be found in the heart of the city at the 1,400-acre Balboa Park. This magnificent urban greenspace includes a Botanical Building which holds more than 2,100 plants including […]

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Hogwart’s is Coming to Universal Hollywood

The official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be Thursday, April 7th, 2016. After visiting both Harry Potter attractions at Universal Orlando earlier this year, I’m excited about having something a little closer to home. Potter fans have been eagerly anticipating this arrival to the West Coast, more than five years in the making. Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is being masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood.  The land will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which will serve as its iconic focal point. From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the […]

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60 Years of Innovation at Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration

Walt Disney observed that Disneyland will never be complete so long as there is imagination left in the world, and since Opening Day, July 17, 1955, the Disneyland Resort tradition of innovation has continued, inspiring classic theme park attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Soarin’ Over California, Toy Story Midway Mania and Radiator Springs Racers. The Diamond Celebration continues this tradition with three fantastic new shows that expand the boundaries of after-dark entertainment – Disney’s signature “kiss goodnight.” New Shows Nighttime will glitter as never before with three, sensational shows that expand the 60-year tradition of innovative and immersive storytelling: the brilliant, high-energy “Paint the Night” parade and “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular at Disneyland Park, and the all-new “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” at Disney California Adventure Park. In […]

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Postcard: Cypress of Big Sur

Along the Pacific Coast, south of Monterey and north of Carmel, you’ll find these iconic Cypress trees on a point near the Pebble Beach Golf Course and Resort. Make time for this gorgeous scenic drive.

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A Month of Sonoma Winery Visits

Any time is a good time for a visit to country. While many people first think of Napa Valley wineries, don’t forget to think of the other side of the bay, and the wonderful wineries in Sonoma County. Wine related travel is a popular part of a visit to Sonoma County.  With 13 American Viticultural areas, each with distinctive characteristics, the Pacific coastline, redwood forests, fertile valleys, and mountains,  all add to a success mix that creates outstanding wines.  It’s a beautiful spot for a weekend of wine tasting or an easy day trip from Oakland, San Francisco, or Sacramento. Everyone has their personal wine preferences, and with over 250 Sonoma-area wineries to choose from, coming in all sizes and flavors, the task of choosing where to visit and what to taste can be overwhelming. To simplify the process, I’ve […]

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Postcard from Carlsbad: Pacific Ocean

A few weeks ago, I head to Carlsbad, California, for a weekend retreat with the staffs of TBEX and NMX. We stayed in a beach house along the Pacific Ocean coast which offered a wonderful view to stir up lots of creativity.  I love quiet mornings looking out at the ocean.

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Hollywood Bowl Concerts: Amphitheater Beneath the Stars

An evening of music under the stars doesn’t get much better than when you’re sitting in one of the most legendary natural amphitheaters — the Hollywood Bowl.  And if your California holidays permit, scheduling in a concert or visit to this venue is a wonderful summer treat. The Hollywood Bowl was originally built in 1922 and it first consisted of simple wooden benches set against the natural hillside of Bolton Canyon.  That same year the first Hollywood Bowl concerts were scheduled when the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra began its first season of “music under the stars,” a tradition that continues today as the Bowl serves as the summer home of the orchestra. Fast forward to today:  With seating of about 18,000, the Hollywood Bowl is the largest natural amphitheater in the United States.  It is still the summer home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and […]

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