Wednesday, June 8, 2016

San Francisco: 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project

16th Ave Tiled Steps Project - 163 separate mosaic panels
16th Ave. Tiled Steps Project (photo: Rashimi G)

Head to San Francisco’s Sunset District where you’ll find an eye-catching staircase known as the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project. Situated in a quiet residential neighborhood about 15 minutes from Golden Gate Park, the stairway is decorated with 163 separate mosaic panels, one for each riser. Over 2,000 handmade tiles and 75,000 fragments of tile, stained glass and mirror were used on the project. Look closely, and you’ll notice a sea-to-sky theme, with fish and sea shells near the base of the steps and birds, leaves and stars rising to the top. 
Neighborhood residents participated in creating the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project in San Francisco
A portion of the 16th Ave. Tiled Steps Project in San Francisco
The mosaic stairway was conceived in 2003 and the project was completed two years later. More than 300 neighborhood residents participated in the creation of the panels and over 220 community members sponsored the handmade tiles imbedded in the colorful mosaic. With a sharp eye, you’ll see the names of the sponsors interlaced into the design.
Once you reach the top of the mosaic stairs, continue to Grandview Park
View of San Francisco from Grandview Park (photo: Yusaku K)
Once you’ve admired the artistic steps from afar, go ahead and climb them to the top, pausing occasionally to gaze at the magnificent Pacific Ocean view behind you. Want more views? For a spectacular 360-degree panorama of San Francisco and beyond, continue on to Grandview Park. To reach the park from the top of the mosaic steps, take the stairs on your right leading to the upper level of 15th Avenue. From here, continue on the old wooden steps on your right to Grandview Park. Tip: Wear comfy walking shoes (many, many stairs!) and a sweater or jacket for the breeze that welcomes you at the top of the park.
BE SMART:  Prowlers know that tourists frequent this neighborhood and car break-ins can occur, even in daylight. Don’t tempt them! Remove valuables and belongings from your car and lock your car doors before exploring the mosaic steps. Also, pay notice to the parking and street cleaning signs to avoid being ticketed or towed. 
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project is located on Moraga St. between 15th & 16th Ave. in San Francisco.

Monday, June 6, 2016

San Diego: The Barkyard at Petco Park – It’s A Dog’s Life

The Barkyard at Petco Park. Bring your dog and watch the San Diego Padres in box seats
Tail-wagging news! Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, becomes the first Major League Baseball venue to have a dedicated dog-friendly viewing area at every home game. Aptly called The Barkyard, the area allows fans and their four-legged friends to watch baseball together all season long. It consists of six sets of premium box seats in left-center field (previously occupied by a row of the Picnic Terrace group space). Each box accommodates up to four people and two dogs. Ticket prices vary by game, but start at $100 for each box and include four tickets.
Each box at The Barkyard at Petco Park accommodates up to four people and two dogs
A rendering of The Barkyard at Petco Park (
Each Barkyard viewing area will offer umbrellas for shade, heat resistant artificial turf, an in-seat menu offered by The Patio in Left Field concession stand and a complimentary treat for each dog in attendance. A swag bag featuring more treats, toys and other goodies are awarded to each person in The Barkyard, compliments of Petco.
Tickets for The Barkyard are available for purchase for Padres home games beginning June 13 through the end of the 2016 season. Fans wishing to attend must apply online and will need to submit information including vaccination records, license number and other details about their dog.
The Barkyard is accessible via a designated entrance from K Street in the Park at the Park. A Padres pet concierge will be on-hand to escort fans and their dogs to and from The Barkyard.
Petco Park opened in 2004 in San Diego’s downtown East Village and is the site of the 2016 MLB All Star Game. The park is located at 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101 and accessible by car via four major thoroughfares: Interstate 5, State Route 163, State Route 94/Martin Luther King Freeway and Pacific Highway.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mammoth Bike Park – Radical Terrain & Tons of Trails

Mammoth Bkie Park. 80 miles of single track. Awesome views.
Mammoth Bike Park (photo:

Grab your bicycle and riding gear; mountain bike season at Mammoth Bike Park is upon us. Summer trails open June 10 and if you hurry, you can score a discount on a Summer Bike Park pass if you purchase before June 5.
Mammoth Bike Park - biggest bike park in the west. Incredible views, 3,500 acres
Mammoth Bike Park (
Mammoth Bike Park is a leading pedal-pushing destination and the biggest bike park in the West. With 3,500 acres and over 80 miles of single track, its trails are second only to the spectacular scenery you’ll witness on your outing.
Mammoth Bike Park - fast downhills, dirt jumps, wooden ramps
Mammoth Bike Park (photo:
The variety of terrain draws cyclists of all skill levels to the bike park. Beginners can start out at the Discovery Zone, an area with short practice loops and smooth turns and surfaces that allow the novice to get used to their equipment and handling of the bike. Intermediate and advanced trails are as diverse as the mountain itself, with fast downhills, rocky switchbacks, dirt jumps, and wooden ramps. Experts and pros can push the limit with trails aptly named Bullet, Velocity and Recoil, where you’ll be challenged by steep trails, rough surfaces and fast, adrenalin-rush descents.
Mammoth Bike Park fun for all ages. Bike rentals available.
Mammoth Bike Park (photo:
Don’t be intimidated if you’re a first-timer to mountain biking. Mammoth Bike Park offers private and group lessons to ensure you get the most out of your cycling experience. As an added convenience, they have brand new Trek bikes available for rental (standard helmets are included). They even have special bikes built just for kids, so even the little ones can enjoy the awesome trails.
Mammoth Mountain is located in Mammoth Lakes, CA and accessible via US Hwy 395. It’s approximately 5 hours north (by car) of Los Angeles.

More Information: Mammoth Bike Park
Location: 1 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes California 93546
Phone: 1-800-626-6684

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

California Beer Festival 2016: Fun and Suds All Summer Long

california beer festival 2016 with stops in novato, aptos, san dimas, ventura
The ever popular California Beer Festival (CBF) kicks off in Novato in Marin County June 4-5, 2016. It’s the first of four stops in the Golden State for this lively, annual salute to the Craft Beer movement. Other stops include Aptos in Northern California and San Dimas and Ventura in Southern California.
At each of the four CBF venues, brew enthusiasts can sample dozens of craft beers from local and national breweries and talk suds with notable brewmasters. A selection of tasty bites from food artisans and food trucks will be available, as well as live entertainment. There will also be lively food and beer pairing competitions and plenty of opportunity to gain insight of all things craft.
Ticket prices for the CBF vary, depending on the venue, and range from $10 for single day tickets to $150 for multi-day VIP tickets. Click the links below for more information on each festival.
CBF Marin: June 4 & June 5
Stanford Lake Park, 3549 Novato Blvd., Novato, CA 94947
CBF Santa Cruz: August 12- August 14
Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos, CA 95003
CBF San Dimas: September 10 & September 11
Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, 250 Puddingstone Drive, San Dimas, CA 91773
CBF Ventura: September 16 – September 18
Mission Park, 36 Figueroa Street, Ventura, CA 93001

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.