October 13, 2013 |
Give any Arizona guidebook a glance, and a few dozen locales will be described as "a former copper mining town. " That's also true for Bisbee, nestled near the Mexican border in the state's southeast corner. But the similarities stop there. Bisbee boasts some of the best art galleries in the state, side by side with newly sprouted brewpubs and Zagat-rated restaurants offering Southwestern-influenced vegetarian food as well as gourmet pizza and pasta. Amid it all, Main Street's antique shops and galleries are surrounded with examples of Victorian architecture.
October 6, 2013 |
Although writer John Steinbeck died 45 years ago, we continue to visit Salinas, Calif. - his birthplace - and surrounding Monterey County in search of the characters and settings found in his classics "The Pastures of Heaven," "East of Eden," "Cannery Row" and "Tortilla Flat. " Although we can't find Doc, Junius Maltby or Lee Chong's grocery store, the essence of the Salinas Valley lingers in the blend of cultures, overcast skies, farming communities and locals who combine a passion for their work with a penchant for libations.
September 29, 2013 |
La Jolla is known for its cosmopolitan vibe, high-end shopping and fine dining. For a more down-to-earth, beach-centric experience, head to La Jolla Shores, a compact, laid-back neighborhood across the water from the village center. Popular with locals and families, the beach has fire pits, a park, a playground and sweeping views of La Jolla Cove. It's a busy launch point for water sports; summer and fall weekends draw groups of kayakers and snorkelers. Take the plunge: The area is full of shops where you can rent gear or take a lesson (snorkeling gear rental, $20; kayak tours start at $39)
September 1, 2013 |
When friends invited my husband, Tim, and me to their wedding in Occidental, Calif., I had to look up the place, even though I'm the author of a guidebook that covers much of Sonoma County. Occidental, I learned, is a postage stamp-sized hamlet (population 1,115) about 70 miles north of San Francisco and 10 miles east of the coast. As we drove in, I was surprised by its Old West flavor. In a region obsessed with all things French and Italian, Occidental is pretty darned American. It has saloons, checked-tablecloth restaurants and a white-steepled church built in 1876.
June 16, 2013 |
Many Napa Valley wineries are beginning to welcome visits from families, and they're making a serious effort to keep the kids engaged. Lest we forget, wineries are farms, and in many cases they have farm animals, game birds, fish ponds, picnic grounds and other kid magnets. Not all of wine country is kid-friendly, mind you, but you can find ample attractions to make this a satisfying destination for serious wine lovers … and grape juice lovers too. The tab: We spent about $647 for a family of four, including $315 for one night at the Villagio Inn, $260 on meals and $72 on a castle tour and wine tasting.
June 9, 2013 |
Way back in the 20th century when life was simple, my wife, Mary Frances, and I lived in Carpinteria, swooping in and out of Santa Barbara without a second thought. Nowadays, returning as Angelenos with a 9-year-old, we have second and third thoughts, as we consider cost, balance kid stuff and adult stuff, and consult the school calendar. But we managed a great visit a few months ago, thanks to a hotel that gave us creature comforts and walking access to great food, historic atmosphere and the beach.