Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Los Angeles: 4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations

4rh of July fireworks - Americafest at the Rose Bowl

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and haven’t yet decided where to celebrate the 4th of July, here are five Independence Day parties to consider for 2015.
Americafest at the Rose Bowl
See the largest fireworks show in Southern California at the 89th Annual Americafest at the Rose Bowl. It features food, games, inflatable rides for kids, motorcycle stunts and a special performance from the Grammy nominated Beatles Tribute Band, Liverpool Legends. At the conclusion of the fireworks show, there will be a viewing of movie, Despicable Me 2.
Where: The Rose Bowl Stadium, 1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena, CA, 91103
Time: Stadium parking opens at 9am; festival starts at 2pm; fireworks start at 9pm.
Cost: $13 General Admission (5yrs & under free); $25 Reserved Seating.
Parking: $25 per car
More Info: 626-577-3100
4th of July Extravaganza at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Bring your blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a fireworks extravaganza at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Viewing is from Christmas Tree Lane on the South Lawn of Exposition Park. There will be food, rides, games, sponsor exhibits and musical performances.
Where: Exposition Park, 700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90037
Time: 12pm - 10pm. Fireworks at dusk (around 9pm).
Cost: Free
Parking: $10 per car in Exposition Park
More Info: Peter Bellas 310-914-0015
Palisades Americanism Parade
The Palisades Americanism Parade is one of the top Independence Day parades in the U.S.A. and has been around for 67 years. This year’s parade Grand Marshal is KFI AM 640 radio host Bill Handel. Following the parade, head to Palisades Charter High School for a family-friendly concert, followed by spectacular fireworks. Additional activities include a kid’s fun zone and gourmet food trucks.
Where: Parade is on Sunset Blvd. between de la Paz and Drummond St. in Pacific Palisades. Entertainment and fireworks at Palisades Charter High School located at 15777 Bowdoin Street, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
Time: Skydivers 1:50pm, parade 2pm, entertainment 6:30pm, fireworks 9pm.
Cost: Parade is free. Concert and fireworks tickets are $10. (12yrs and under free).
Parking: Limited free parking available at the Palisades Charter High School lot.
More Info: Keith Turner 310-454-6190 or Rob Weber 310-595-3009.
4th of July Block Party at Grand Park
Grand Park in LA’s Civic Center will be the epicenter of a multi-block, alcohol-free Block Party. Musical acts perform on two main stages; additional entertainment is provided by mobile DJ’s. Bring your own picnic or purchase food from a variety of vendors, then watch an incredible rooftop fireworks display high above the civic center skyline.
Where: Grand Park, 200 North Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Time: 3pm – 9:30pm. Fireworks at 9pm.
Cost: Free
Parking: Parking garage rates vary. Public transportation is recommended.
More Info: 213-972-8080
July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza at Warner Park
Head to Warner Park in the San Fernando Valley for a free concert followed by an electrifying fireworks show set to live music. Over 15 local restaurants will be on hand along with arts and crafts vendors and local businesses. Children will have a special play area to explore.
Where: Warner Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Time: 6pm – 9:30pm
Cost: Free
Parking: $20 in any of the Warner Center structures between Topanga and Canoga or Califa and Oxnard.
More Info: 818-704-1358

Thursday, June 25, 2015

San Francisco: Alice 97.3 Summerthing 2015 Free Concert

(Clockwise) Kelly Clarkson, Mat Kearney, Rachel Platten and Elle King perform at Alice's Summerthing
San Francisco’s popular AC radio station, Alice 97.3, presents its annual Summerthing concert on Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Offered free to the public, this year’s musical guests include Kelly Clarkson, Mat Kearney, Rachel Platten and Elle King. Doors open at 10:30am and the concert winds down around 4pm. Besides music, there will be interactive booths, fun activities, gourmet food trucks and more.
Public transportation is encouraged due to limited parking. Parking is available at St. Mary’s Hospital (off Fell St.) and UCSF (Irving & Arguello), three blocks from Sharon Meadow.
Approximate Set Times
Elle King 12:35pm
Rachel Platten 1:20pm
Mat Kearney 2:15pm
Kelly Clarkson 3:30pm
Alice 97.3 sponsors two other concerts each year; the “Now and Zen Fest” in September and “Alice in Winterland” in December.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

San Francisco: Fillmore Jazz Festival 2015

Fillmore Jazz Festival in San Francisco, the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast
Fillmore Jazz Festival 2015 (poster: Craig Frazier)
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the 31st Annual Fillmore Jazz Festival in San Francisco July 4 & 5. Touted as the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, it spans 12 blocks of historic Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Visitors will enjoy stellar performances on multiple stages – from contemporary jazz, to funk and soul, to reggae and traditional blues. Great music is just part of the fun. Street side merchants will offer a range of goods for sale and there will be plenty of tasty food and beverage choices. This year’s festival celebrates the discovery of new jazz musicians and the rediscovery of old friends and past festival experiences. Hours: 10am to 6pm both days. Here’s the line-up:
Saturday, July 4
California Street Stage
10:15 a.m.: California Jazz Conservatory Ensemble led by Luis Salcedo
12:15 p.m.: Caili O'Doherty - "Padme" CD Release
2:15 p.m.: Contemporary Jazz Orchestra
4:15 p.m.: Kim Nalley

Eddy Street Stage  
10:30 a.m.: Tiffany Austin
12:30 p.m.: Valerie Troutt Quartet
2:30 p.m.: Native Elements
4:30 p.m.: Martin Luther

Sutter Street Stage
10:30 a.m.: Blue Grazz featuring Jenna Mammina
12:30 p.m.: Jungle Biskit
2:30 p.m.: Jonah Smith
4:30 p.m.: Sugar Pie DeSanto

Sunday, July 5
California Street Stage
10:30 a.m.: California Jazz Conservatory Ensemble led by Dillon Vado
12:30 p.m.: Tammy Hall Quintet
2:30 p.m.: Manny Moka and the Band on Fire
4:30 p.m.: Kim Nalley

Eddy Street Stage  
10:30 a.m.: Jackie Gage Group
12:30 p.m.: Lilan Kane
2:30 p.m.: Bobby Webb
4:30 p.m.: Manicato

Sutter Street Stage
10:15 a.m.: Americano Social Club
12:15 p.m.: Grace Kelly
2:15 p.m.: Mingus Amungus
4:15 p.m.: Shayna Steele

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lake Tahoe: Stargazing at Ritz-Carlton with Tahoe Star Tours

Starry starry nights with Tahoe Star Tours at Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Star Tours at Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe (photo: @Ritz-Carlton)
This summer enjoy a unique astronomy experience with Tahoe Star Tours at its newest mountainside viewing venue, Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. On Friday evenings June 19 through September 4, award winning amateur astronomer Tony Berendsen, owner of Tahoe Star Tours and president of the Northern Nevada Science Coalition, will lead guests on an informative exploration of the night sky. The event begins with a greeting and orientation, followed by stargazing using high-powered Celestron telescopes and binoculars. There will be plenty of comfortable seating, outdoor heaters and blankets and continuous cocktails served by the impeccable Ritz-Carlton staff.  An optional barbeque buffet can be purchased for an additional charge. Early reservations are encouraged; tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.
There is no self-parking at the Ritz-Carlton; only valet parking. Guests can park in the Northstar Village Parking Lot and take the Highlands Gondola from the Village to the resort where they will be greeted, checked in for the tour, and led to the function.
2015 Schedule
Friday 6/19, 6/26: Saturn and Jupiter Split the Sky
Friday 7/3, 7/10, 7/17, 7/24, 7/31: Dolphin in the Cosmic Ocean
Friday 8/7, 8/14, 8/21, 8/28: Dwarf Planets in the Microscope
Friday 9/4: Tribute to Carl Sagan
More Information: Tahoe Star Tours at Ritz-Carlton
Location: Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, 13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court, Truckee, CA
Phone: 1-800-GO-NORTH
Time: 8:15pm to 10:30pm
Cost: Adults - $35.00; Children 12 & Under - $20.00

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Aptos: Mushroom Dome Cabin – Off the Beaten Path

Escape to the great outdoors. The Mushroom Dome Cabin is off the beaten path.
Mushroom Dome Cabin in Aptos
Looking for a secluded cabin in the woods; something a little out of the ordinary? The Mushroom Dome Cabin in Aptos might be the getaway you’re after. This tiny bubble of a house sits quietly among a canopy of trees, blending in with the tranquil surroundings. Although you’ll feel like you’re off the beaten path, you’re just 10 minutes from the beach, 10 minutes from the quaint shops and restaurants of Aptos Village and less than 20 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz.
Upstairs loft at Mushroom Dome Cabin has a double bed
Mushroom Dome Cabin - upstairs
The simple cabin has a loft bedroom upstairs. Windows in the geodesic dome ceiling make it the perfect spot for star gazing. Downstairs you’ll find a sitting area, a bathroom with a shower, and a kitchenette equipped with all the essentials. A large outdoor deck faces the redwoods and houses a barbeque grill. 
Downstairs at the Mushroom Dome Cabin is a kitchen, sitting area and bathroom.
Mushroom Dome Cabin - downstairs
Rates for the Mushroom Dome Cabin start at $110 per night and include breakfast and snacks. A two-day minimum stay is required on the weekends. Security deposit, cleaning fee and tax are additional. Reservations can be made through Airbnb – it’s currently the # 1 rental at the booking site.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Solvang: Quicksilver Ranch - See Miniature Horses

Miniature Horse at Quicksilver Ranch in Solvang, California
Miniature Horse at Quicksilver Ranch (photo: Scott B.)
Part of the fun of a driving vacation is an unexpected roadside attraction. Quicksilver Ranch near the village of Solvang (30 miles north of Santa Barbara) is just that. This family-owned ranch has been around for over three decades and breeds and sells miniature horses – about 20 to 30 foals a year. Visitors can wander the grounds, free of charge, and admire these adorable little creatures. Open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm, it’s the perfect place to stop for a stretch and soak in some cuteness.
See adorable miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch in Solvang, California
Quicksilver Ranch (photo Scott B.)
Solvang is located in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley on the central California coast. The Valley is recognized as one of the most important horse locations in America. Besides high-quality horses (over 50 different privately owned breeds), it’s known for its prominent clinicians, veterinarians, showmen and judges. Many Kentucky Derby winners and contenders have trained and lived in the Valley.
Quicksilver Ranch is located at 1555 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA, 93463. Phone: (805) 686-4002.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yosemite: YARTS Bus Service from Fresno Up and Running

YARTS begins bus service between Fresno and Yosemite
YARTS bus service to Yosemite

Just in time for summer, YARTS  (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) has added a new route to its schedule: Fresno to Yosemite Valley via Highway 41.
Buses make five round-trips daily, picking-up passengers at the Greyhound and Amtrak stations, the Fresno Airport, CSU Fresno, and the Highway 145 Park and Ride. Stops are made at the Coarsegold Historic Village, the Oakhurst Best Western, and Fish Camp’s Tenaya Lodge on the way to Yosemite Valley.
Tickets can be purchased on the bus with cash, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. Or pre-purchase your tickets at various local outlets. One way tickets from Fresno to Yosemite Valley are $15 or $30 round trip. Reduced fares are available for seniors (62+), children (12 and under without an adult paid fare), and persons with disabilities. Your YARTS ticket includes admission to the park, as well as one free child ride (12 and under) per adult ticket purchased.
YARTS also has bus service to Yosemite Valley from Merced, Mammoth Lakes and Sonora. For a complete list of schedules and fares, visit the YARTS website.

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.