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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   GET OUT OF TOWN
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Standing at Newport Beach's Crystal Cove, I can't help but feel sorry for those poor souls who live in places that boast four real seasons. Summer is still months away, and while they're shoveling snow, I'm here with my toes in the sand.
be surprised at what you learn. Take Torrance for instance. I knew it was in the South Bay, just off the 405 Freeway.
OK ladies, listen up. As the holidays have just passed, you know it's more blessed to give than to receive. Or at least that's the theory. So with that in mind, I'm pulling a switcheroo with the annual Valentine's Day edition of Get Out of Town. This year, it's your turn to plan the festivities.
It's January again, so it must be time for resolutions.
So what's it going to be - the usual? Eat healthier. Work out more. Watch less TV.
Here's the real question - do you really want to do any of those things? Didn't think so.
Surprise them this year when the Thanksgiving dinner conversation turns to, "So what are you thankful for?" Your savvy traveler answer: "I'm thankful I don't live in Bodie." And here's why.
This year marks the 85th-anniversary of Hollywood's famed El Capitan Theatre. Opened in 1926, it was part of the trio of themed entertainment palaces that graced Hollywood Boulevard, including the Chinese and Egyptian theaters.
This year marks the 85th-anniversary of Hollywood's famed El Capitan Theatre. Opened in 1926, it was part of the trio of themed entertainment palaces that graced Hollywood Boulevard, including the Chinese and Egyptian theaters.
"It looked really scary, but it was really cool!" proclaimed my 5-year-old daughter Brooke. After splashing around in LEGOLAND Water Park's tamer attractions for awhile, she had summoned the courage to ride one of the larger slides. And then she was unstoppable.
Standing in our room after dinner, I glanced down at my iPhone and saw the best message of the day: No service. April and I had just checked into The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort outside Solvang looking for a distraction-free weekend of relaxation. And it was clear we were in the right place.
Hollywood stars don't always age gracefully, but the Griffith Observatory is an exception. Perched on a promontory offering sweeping views of Los Angeles, from the snowcapped peaks of the San Gabriels in the east, to the shores of Santa Monica on the west, the iconic landmark celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. And it still shines.
There's nothing more terrifying nighttime sound when you're camping.
It's worse than hearing a bear rifling through your food. Or someone saying, "The creek's starting to flood; you might want to move your tent." Or hard-partying neighbors telling fart jokes at 2 in the morning.
If you're a kid growing up in Southern California, there are a few things you can count on at school (besides budget cuts). Chances are you'll reconstruct a California mission with sugar cubes and red licorice. And you'll go on a whale-watching field trip.
Some people celebrate 40 with an "over the hill" party theme. Not my buddy Mike. He wanted to climb the hill, specifically 8,800-foot Half Dome in Yosemite. And take a dozen dudes with him. Yeah, it was an ambitious 40th-birthday plan, but that's Mike.
Dude, I hate to break it to you, but Cupid is calling you out again. Yes, Valentine's Day is right around the corner. But don't panic. This year, you are all over him. Like red velvet on a box of chocolate. You might think he's got your number, but read on, and you'll be the man with the V-Day plan.
Fat snowflakes blotted out the gray afternoon sky as we drove through Kings Beach on the north shore of Lake Tahoe in search of a Christmas tree lot. April looked out the window as they clumped on the green branches of towering pine trees, and quietly laid a carpet of white on the road in front of us.
There's so much to love about multi-day bicycle tours - the sights, the smells, the disbelief. People can't fathom the idea of riding a bike when they can drive a car. So, on our 195-mile, three-day ride from San Luis Obispo to Santa Clarita along Highway 1, we got some strange looks. And no, I wasn't wearing spandex shorts.
Each summer my dad and I take my two older kids to the Eastern Sierra to go "fishing." I use that term loosely because we have yet to catch a fish, and with each trip the fishing becomes less important.
"Daddy, pool!" exclaimed 2-year-old Amber as she stood on the balcony of our sixth-floor room and peered through the railing at the expansive body of water below. She could have been talking about the impressive panorama of the Pacific Ocean and the bluffs of Rancho Palos Verdes that spread out to the south. But no, she meant the swimming pool.
From the 101 freeway, Santa Maria certainly resembles our own hometown of Santa Clarita. Tile roofs, big-box shopping centers and neatly-manicured neighborhoods.

But get off the freeway and start exploring northern Santa Barbara County like we did on a recent weekend and you'll find a unique Central Coast destination with a vibrant wine country, hidden foodie gems and a glimpse of California's past.
The afternoon breeze rustled the palm trees overhead and carried the scent of the Pacific three blocks inland to where I sat at the corner of California and Santa Clara streets in Downtown Ventura.
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