Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Francisco: Stanford Court – Experience Google Glass

Google Glass (Explorer Edition)
The Stanford Court in San Francisco offers hotel guests the opportunity to experience Google Glass – the wearable computer that resembles eyewear. When guests book the Google Glass Explorer Package, they’ll receive a google glass device to use during their stay. They’re given the device upon check-in, along with a brief tutorial and an instruction guide for handy reference. As an incentive to share their experience, guests have the chance to win free appetizers when they take pictures of local landmarks with Google Glass and share them on social media using the hashtag #stanfordcourtsf.
When we last checked, rates for the Google Glass Explorer Package ranged from $197 to $539 per night, depending on day, week and month of travel. Rate includes, deluxe room, free breakfast for two at Aurea Cafe, two nightly beverages in Aurea Lounge, free Wi-Fi access and one Google Glass device to use. This is a limited time offer and ends December 31, 2014.
The Stanford Court is located atop Nob Hill at 905 California Street in San Francisco.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Santa Clarita: Walk of Western Stars – Legends of Old West

Walk of Western Stars honors John Wayne and others
Walk down Main Street in Old Town Newhall in Santa Clarita and you’ll be reminded of legends of the Old West. Embedded in the pavement of the sidewalks are plaques honoring members of the entertainment industry – specifically those in Western film, TV and radio. Known as the Walk of Western Stars, this stretch of sidewalk is a fitting testament to Santa Clarita’s deep-rooted Western heritage.
Walk of Western Stars on Main Street, Old Town Newhall
Santa Clarita has always had a love affair with the Hollywood Western movie. The wide open space, the diverse landscape, and close proximity to Los Angeles have attracted movie directors to the area for more than a hundred years. Singing cowboy Gene Autry and legendary actors Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Roy Rogers are among those that have filmed Old West movies here and have all been inducted into the Walk of Western Stars. Other notable inductees include Tex Ritter, Chuck Connors, and Dale Evans. The most recent honorees are Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen, whose plaques were revealed earlier this year at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.
Besides being a hub for movies, a variety of western-themed television shows have filmed in Santa Clarita, including Gunsmoke, Annie Oakley and The Wild, Wild West. Today, several movie ranches call Santa Clarita home and filming has extended past the Western genre to include movies such as action-packed Spider-Man and Fast & Furious as well as television shows such as NCIS.
A saddle is the centerpiece of each plaque
As you browse the sidewalk tributes, consider a stop at the William S. Hart Museum and Park on Newhall Avenue. Once the former home of William Surrey Hart, a silent screen actor who became one the first big stars of Western movies, it houses a collection of significant Western artwork, early Hollywood mementos, and furnishings and artifacts representing multiple Native American cultures.
Santa Clarita’s Walk of Western Stars is less than 60 minutes from most areas of Los Angeles. It can be accessed via Interstate 5 at Lyons Avenue or off Highway 14 at Newhall Avenue.

Monday, July 21, 2014

San Francisco: Free Dining Deals for the Work Week

Free-waffles-from-b.Street Waffles-in-San-Francisco. Chief-Waffle-Officer-Gerald-Luna.
Gerald Luna, Chief Waffle Officer at b.Street Waffles
Looking for dining deals in San Francisco? Need a pick-me-up during the Monday through Friday grind? Here are five tasty offers - one for each day of the work week. Best of all, they won’t cost you a dime because they’re free. Of course, gratuities are always appreciated. Choose your day(s), and then click on the links for more information. Offers may change without notice.
Monday: Free Bagels from Sour Flour (Mission District)
The folks at Sour Flour not only bake bread, but they teach you how to make it. Fee-based workshops are offered on sourdough bread-making as well as how to make bagels. Not interested in getting a culinary education? That’s okay – you can still stop by on Mondays for a free bagel. Where: La Victoria Bakery, 24th St. & Alabama Street, San Francisco. When: Every Monday starting at 8am, while supplies last.
Tuesday: Free Wine & A Movie at Top of the Mark (Nob Hill)
Sample some wine and enjoy a free screening of popular films each Tuesday night at this classic lounge atop the historic Mark Hopkins Hotel. Arrive early to soak in the spectacular 360-degree views of the city. Where: Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California Street, San Francisco. When: Tuesdays through August 26, 2014. Wine tasting at 5:30pm. Movie starts at 7:30pm.
July 22, 2014 – The Blind Side (2009)
July 29, 2014 – Pretty Woman (1990)
August 5, 2014 – Bull Durham (1988)
August 12, 2014 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
August 19, 2014 – Field of Dreams (1989)
August 26, 2014 – When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Wednesday: Free Belgian Waffle from b.Street Waffles (Financial District)
These aren’t waffles plucked from the frozen food aisle of the grocery store. No siree, Bob! These are freshly-made, gourmet, Belgian-style street waffles with sumptuous flavors baked right in. A different flavor is featured each month such as Apple-Cinnamon, Pumpkin, and Snickerdoodle. Where: Capital One 360 Café, 101 Post Street, San Francisco. When: First Wednesday of each month; 9am - 11am (or while supplies last).
Thursday: Doggy Yappy Hour at K9 Scrub Hub (Noe Valley)
Doesn’t your doggy deserve some chow, too? Grab your four-legged friend and head over to the K9 Scrub Hub’s weekly social hour. Indulge in free refreshments and treats – both the human and canine kind – and mingle with plenty of other dog-friendly folks. Where: 1734 Church Street, San Francisco. When: Every Thursday 6pm – 7pm.
Friday: Alisha's Home Cookin' Happy Hour at The Riptide (Sunset District)
Self-proclaimed as the “Bay Area's best little honky-tonk by the beach,” The Riptide has been around since 1941 and serves up potent drinks in a friendly, rustic atmosphere. Happy Hour occurs weeknights from 4-7pm and features drink specials and free eats. Stop by on Fridays to taste comfort food favorites like chicken pot pie, tater tot casserole and chili con carne – all free. Where: 3639 Taraval Street, San Francisco.: Every Friday 4pm – 7pm, or until it’s gone.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Los Angeles: Hello Kitty Con 2014 – A Purrfect Celebration

Hello Kitty, the adorable feline first introduced to the world in 1974, turns 40 this year. Its maker, Sanrio, is planning a major celebration to mark the occasion. It’s the first ever Hello Kitty Convention, aptly named Hello Kitty Con. It will be held in Los Angeles October 30 – November 2, 2014 and will include classes and workshops, lectures and panel discussions, and additional Hello Kitty themed activities. Vintage Hello Kitty products will be on display and shoppers will be able to purchase one-of-a-kind items exclusive to the convention. Fans will be able to meet and snap photos with Hello Kitty and enjoy refreshments from some of the trendiest food trucks in Los Angeles. Seems like a purrfect way to spend the day.
More Information: Hello Kitty Con 2014
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA
Date/Time: October 30 – November 2, 2014, 10am – 7pm daily
Tickets: Adults $30/day, Children (Age 6-12 years) $20/day. Children 5 years and under are free. (Limit 4 free children per paying adult). Note: All children under 13 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Coronado: Coastal Living Showhouse 2014 – Peek Inside

Coastal Living Showhouse 2014 in Coronado (Rendering by Dorian Lytle)
Just across the bridge from San Diego is the quaint island community of Coronado. Its pristine, white sand beaches have been voted the best in America and its tree-lined neighborhoods whisper of utopia. It’s no surprise, then, that Coastal Living Magazine has chosen Coronado to be the site of its 2014 Showhouse, a coastal home intended to spotlight the best in construction, design and décor.
Situated on Coronado’s Sunset Park, the 4,500 square-foot home features five bedrooms and has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The home was designed and built by Coronado-based Flagg Coastal Homes. The interior design was handled by Burnham Design of Los Angeles and the landscape architect is San Diego-based Topia Land. Two items worth noting: Of the nearly 30 previous homes Coastal Living has selected to showcase, this is the very first one on the West Coast. Additionally, whereas developers typically sell the showhouse after it’s been on display, this house will not go on the market. Instead, its owners, who’ve participated in design decisions, will take up residence in the multi-million dollar home.
This beautiful showhouse will be featured in the October issue of Coastal Living Magazine. The public is invited to tour the home starting July 16, 2014. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation (the Navy SEALS are based in Coronado).
More Information: Coastal Living Showhouse 2014
Location: 100 Ocean Blvd., Coronado, CA 92118
Dates: July 16 - September 28, 2014
Times: Wednesdays through Sundays, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Tickets: $25 per person

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baker: World’s Tallest Thermometer Heats up Again

World's Tallest Thermometer in 2005, Baker, CA (photo:M.Matchity)
If you’ve driven between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, undoubtedly you’ve spotted the enormous thermometer rising above a cluster of gas stations and fast-food outlets in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The iconic structure located in Baker, is, in fact, the World’s Tallest Thermometer. It’s been non-operational for a few years, but that all changes today. The thermometer will once again illuminate the triple-digit temperatures of summer, much to the delight of inquisitive travelers!
The 134-foot tall thermometer was the brainchild of Willis Heron, a local businessman. He wanted to commemorate a heat record set on July 10, 1913 when the temperature soared to 134 degrees in Death Valley. So in 1991, the 13-story structure was built, capable of displaying a maximum temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit, the same as the record. It was an instant tourist attraction for obvious reasons. Over the years the tower changed ownership, fell into disrepair and in 2012 the lights of the thermometer were permanently darkened due to high electric bills. In March 2014, members of the Heron family regained ownership of the structure and have been working feverously to restore it at to a tune of about $150,000.
The lights of the giant thermometer will be turned on this afternoon to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the hottest day on earth; however, an official “grand opening” is set later this year in October.
The World’s Tallest Thermometer is located at 72157 Baker Blvd. in Baker, California. It’s visible from Interstate 15 and can be reached via Exit 246. Visitors can purchase souvenirs from an adjacent gift shop.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park: RentMyTent Camping Ease

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Are you a first-time camper wanting to experience the outdoors but don’t want to buy camping gear until you’re certain you’ll like it? Or maybe you love camping, but dread hauling, setting up and taking down your own tent. Listen up, then. The new RentMyTent program at Lassen Volcanic National Park is just for you.  Starting today, visitors to the park can rent a clean 17’ x 9’ Coleman “Adventure” tent for four, set up and ready to be enjoyed upon arrival. No need to take it down when you leave – that will be done for you, too. The cost is $67 per night (plus the standard $18 per night campsite fee) and also includes two deluxe cots, two steel deck camper chairs, and a battery operated lantern. Just bring your own sleeping bags and cooking gear. You don’t want to lug those items either? You can rent them for an additional cost.
The RentMyTent program has a two-night minimum and reservations must be made at least four days prior to arrival. To start the process, reserve a tent site in Loops A or C of the Manzanita Lake Campground in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Once completed, call 530-335-7557 or email California Parks Co. to reserve your RentMyTent package.
Lassen Volcanic National Park covers 106,000 acres of spectacular scenery and has over 150 miles of hiking trails. It’s the only place in the world where you’ll find all four types of volcanoes in one place. The focal point of the park is Lassen Peak (10,457 feet), the largest plug dome volcano in the world.  Nearest major airports include Sacramento (165 miles away) and Reno, Nevada (180 miles away).
More Information: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mailing Address: PO Box 100, Mineral, CA 96063
Phone (Visitor Center): 530-595-4480, 9am-5pm daily
Park operates year-round, 24 hours per day

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Yosemite: Range of Light Film Festival

El Capitan and Merced River inYosemite Valley. Range of Light Film Festival Feb. 27 - Mar. 2, 2014
El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
One hundred and fifty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln recognized the beauty of the Yosemite Valley and vowed to keep it in its natural state, free from development. He signed the Yosemite Land Grant, ensuring that 39,000 acres of the Yosemite Valley and nearby Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias would be set aside for “public use, resort and recreation.” That act is believed to have given birth to the idea of the national park system.

To commemorate this milestone in the park’s history, Yosemite National Park is hosting the Range of Light Film Festival, a “mid-winter celebration of film, music, storytelling, conservation, art and adventure.” It takes place February 27 to March 2, 2014 at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center’s theater and auditorium. The theme of the event is "150 Years of Yosemite."

More than a dozen films, ranging from shorts to feature-length movies, will be screened, including “El Capitan,’” a digitally remastered, award-winning film from 1968 that’s recognized as one of the best climbing films of its kind. Also of note is a new documentary directed and narrated by Ken Burns called “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit,” about the Yosemite Land Grant signed by Lincoln. In addition to the screenings, there will also be artist and filmmaker panels, and live musical performances.
More Information: Range of Light Film Festival
Yosemite Valley Auditorium, 9035 Village Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Phone: 209-372-0200
Dates: February 27 – March 2, 2014
Tickets: $10 to $30**
Lodging Discounts: 10%-15% with promo code ROLFF. Call 801-559-5057.
**Thursday night's screening of 100 years of Yosemite on Film and Yosemite: Fate of Heaven is a free event, open to the public.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Anaheim: SoCal Residents Save at Disney Parks

Discounts for Southern California residents at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Disney offers discounts to SoCal Residents
Disney discount tickets are back for SoCal residents! After a year’s absence, Disney has brought back its popular multi-day discount ticket packages to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for folks living in the Southern California region. You must reside in ZIP codes 90000-93599 (or Northern Baja California ZIP codes 21000-22999) to take advantage of the savings; proof of residency is required for purchase and admission. Here’s a breakdown of the ticket packages:
$129: 2-day ticket with your choice of one park per day
$164: 2-day Park Hopper ticket
$159: 3-day ticket with your choice of one park per day
$194: 3-day Park Hopper ticket
Each of the 3-day ticket packages also includes one Magic Morning early admission to Disneyland.
Tickets must be purchased by May 30, 2014 and are valid through June 6, 2014 (blackout dates apply March 31 to April 20, 2014). You may purchase up to 5 tickets per person per day with valid ID. For additional information or to purchase SoCal Resident Tickets, visit the Disney Parks website.