March 21, 2014 |
The village of San Simeon, just across Highway 1 from the sprawling 80,000-acre Hearst Ranch and the entrance to Hearst Castle, is an overlooked gem on California's Central Coast. Whether you stop for a wine tasting or spend the day sightseeing, kayaking, windsurfing or hiking, this sleepy hamlet offers plenty to do. The tab: $330, including meals and one night at the Pelican Inn & Suites in nearby Cambria. The bed I snagged a last-minute booking at the Pelican Inn & Suites for $159 (6316 Moonstone Beach Drive; 
March 14, 2014 |
Welcome to Borrego Springs, Calif., population 3,400, in the middle of nowhere (actually, about 150 miles southeast of L.A.). Throw away the smartphone; this is a place to unplug. This designated Dark Sky Community offers breathtaking views of the stars at night. The days aren't too shabby either, as my husband and I learned on a late February getaway. Be sure to stop at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center (200 Palm Canyon Drive;  767-4205, http://www.parks.ca.gov/?
March 7, 2014 |
My wife and I were in need of a bit of tranquillity in October, so we headed to the Mendocino Coast in Northern California for a weekend of standup paddle boarding. The coast's rugged beauty, flat-water rivers and scenic headlands honeycombed with sea caves and archways make it ideal for paddling on your own or on a guided tour with Standup Paddle Mendocino (Van Damme Beach State Park, Little River, Calif.;  937-0700, http://www.standuppaddlemendocino.com . Guided tours $60 to $75)
February 21, 2014 |
With a population of about 1,500, the 2-square-mile town of Summerland, Calif., epitomizes the cliché "Blink and you'll miss it. " Do your best not to blink as you drive through because this sleepy beach community six miles from Santa Barbara is home to an array of mom-and-pop antiques shops, a handful of local eateries and the sorts of views that make you want to do the good kind of nothing all day. The tab: a king bed at the Inn on Summer Hill begins...
February 14, 2014 |
Really, River's End is a bit of heaven, where the beautiful Russian River meets the sea and the Sonoma coast in big rocks and crashing waves. A gourmet restaurant with drop-dead views is perched above the placid estuary of the river, separated by a sandy bar from the wild ocean beyond. After dinner, I had to walk only a few steps downhill to a knotty-wood cabin with a soft bed and a picture window instead of a TV. I stayed just one night, which cost me about $250 for dinner ($85) and the cabin ($162)
February 7, 2014 |
If you're 25 or younger, you'll enjoy downtown Flagstaff, Ariz., walking distance to Northern Arizona University. The area is populated with people your age, an independent bookstore, an independent record store, restaurants and plenty of watering holes with cheap drinks. If you're older than 25, you'll enjoy downtown Flagstaff as a fun, inexpensive reminder of what it feels like to be a college student. Either way, you'll have a good time. The tab: Rooms at the Weatherford start at $75 and top out at about $139.