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225 26th St #51, Santa Monica, CA 90402, USA
A small storefront in the charming Brentwood Country Mart is lit up late after the rest of the village has gone to sleep. Here at Sweet Rose Creamery, organic milk, eggs, cream, and sugar are transformed daily into the purest-tasting ice cream,...
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442 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
Despite its tongue-in-cheek name, this sweets shop and cafe located in the gritty Tenderloin district is one of my favorite finds in San Francisco. The salted caramels here melt in your mouth. They also have a good variety of coffees from...
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6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, USA
Oh, Bouchon! Don't let the long line out the door discourage you—these delicious pastries are well worth the wait and the outdoor café tables make for a lovely spot to dig in once you're handed your treats.
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
It's hard to believe that I had lived in Marin for 13 years before learning about the Tourist Club on Mt. Tam. This past weekend my friends and I hiked from downtown Mill Valley, starting on the Dipsea Trail and following it to the Sun Trail,...
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7850 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
From fancy to funky to sometimes downright fugly, Melrose Ave. is a shopping mecca for all tastes and budgets. While tourists flock to this famous strip to browse the shops, locals know to show up on Sundays for the landmark Melrose Trading...
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47080 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Retro furniture, bright textiles, and in-room yoga mats characterize the Glen Oaks motel. Guests who book the Big Sur Cabin can stargaze from an outdoor clawfoot tub. From $225. (831) 667-2105. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
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One, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
This is one of my favorite activities in all of San Francisco! The owner of Hiking Yoga, Eric, combines his love of hiking and yoga with his passion for leading tours. While you're hiking the butt-burning hills of SF, expect a little history...
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39171 Tassajara Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for...
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16th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project in the Inner Sunset is a reflection of the city’s creative spirit. Artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher led the initiative to cover a stairway in mosaics inspired by the Santa Teresa Steps in Rio de...
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71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature...
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24505 Chianti Rd, Cloverdale, CA 95425, USA
When I asked the Alexander Valley tourism office for recommendations for wineries that practice sustainable farming and had nice views, they had one answer: J Rickards. As I drove up to the winery, I knew this would be a homey winery...
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47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Described by devotees as the most luxurious, one-of-a-kind lodging experience in all of California, the Post Ranch Inn was purpose-built to blend in with the Santa Lucia Mountains. Opened in 1992, and designed by famed Big Sur architect Mickey...
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3901 Packer Lake Rd, Sierra City, CA 96125, USA

My wife, Robin, and I have been camping, fishing, and hiking in the Lakes Basin area, near Sierra City, since we met. These days, our usual home base is a tiny log cabin at the edge of Packer Lake, pictured here. From trailheads around Packer you...

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1301 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA
Hotel bars, pools and restaurants are central to the fabulous life in LA. The boutique 1930s Shangri-La Hotel has the only rooftop bar in Santa Monica with ocean views and their poolside patio is a relaxing escape away from the crowds of the pier...
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Mt Pinos, California 93225, USA
Star gazing is one of life's simplest but deepest pleasures, but city living can often hamper this by the sheer enormity of artificial light it gives off. At the top of Mt. Frazier, astronomers and star enthusiasts find a measure of peace and...
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Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA
Located 3,200 feet above Half Dome Village, Glacier Point offers some of the best views in the park to the high country beyond. The View Terrace looks out to Half Dome, Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall as well as Liberty Cap to the east, while the...
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2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
Sitting near Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has a vantage point that allows visitors great views of the HOLLYWOOD sign during the day, and even more fantastic views of the stars at night. The space has plenty...
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Borrego Springs, CA 92004, USA
Borrego Springs is a nationally designated "dark sky" community. Because there is hardly any light pollution, this is one of the best places in the country for star gazing. The sunset and sunrise colors here are gorgeous- this image was taken at...
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Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
When they say Big Sur, the "big" cannot be underscored enough. The Big Sur coastline area of California might be among my favorite places on earth. It doesn't matter what time of day, season of the year, or type of weather--it always has some...
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California, USA
We love going to the high desert in California, usually out to Joshua Tree National Park. We rented a house in Yucca Valley, not far from the Park entrance, through VRBO.com in late December so we could make home-cooked meals in the evenings. In...
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Clarion Alley, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Walk down this narrow alley connecting Valencia and Mission Streets and you’ll be surrounded by dozens of colorful murals by local artists depicting environmental and social justice, artistic freedom, and community collaboration. Funded by the...
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Arts District, Los Angeles, CA, USA
If you head just a bit farther east out of downtown LA, you will stumble upon an outdoor street art museum all over walls, garage doors, light poles, and pretty much any surface that will hold paint. Old industrial warehouses near the LA River and...
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W 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA
Los Angeles is a creative center and nothing illustrates it better than the graffiti, murals and outdoor art around the city.
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Street art is always cool, but cooler if its right outside your home. The graffiti artist Bansky has captured the iconic Grateful Dead members right on the pavement outside 710 Ashbury Street, where the Grateful Dead lived, in a quirkly purple...
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8447, 2499 Melru Ln, Escondido, CA 92026, USA
Deer Park Monastery is tucked away in the hills of Escondido and is based on the Buddhist traditions of the famous Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a sister monastery to Plum Village in France, where Thich Nhat Hanh resides....
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448 La Rue Rd, Davis, CA 95616, USA
When I want to experience nature and get away from the city, I head to Davis, just 20 minutes from Sacramento. Davis is home to University of California at Davis and the university's 100-acre arboretum. I love walking the winding paths of the...
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Livermore, CA, USA
Livermore is a small city that lies at the eastern end of Livermore Valley, a quiet area in the hills east of San Francisco. Once we got off the busy highway that connects the cities of Livermore Valley, we drove into what felt like small town...
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3005 Mines Rd, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
Murrieta's Well sits on a small road outside the town of Livermore, an unassuming wine country about 40 miles east of San Francisco. Grape vines cover the hills surrounding the tasting room, an old barn that has been renovated, bringing a rustic...
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35265 Willow Ave, Clarksburg, CA 95612, USA
When people visit me here in Sacramento, I take them wine tasting, but we don't need to go all the way to Napa Valley to experience Northern California's wine culture. About 10 minutes south of Sacramento in the Delta is a wine country few people...
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800 N St, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA
While San Francisco and L.A. often steal the limelight from Sacramento, I often remind myself that Sacramento has long been the center of much of California's history. The Leland Stanford Mansion is one place where that history is reflected. The...
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2831 S St, Sacramento, CA 95816, USA
Here in Northern California, where wine is a deep part of the culture, there are a lot of wineries, so many that they may seem to blend into one another. Revolution Wines, however, stands out as the only winery in Sacramento. In fact, it's right...
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6 W Pine St, Lodi, CA 95240, USA
Lodi, California is a small town in the valley of North-Central California, just south of Sacramento and east of the Bay Area. Not many people realize what a fantastic wine producing area it is. I didn't; in fact, I had heard about the wines of...
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Lover's Ln, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
If you are looking for a great walk in San Francisco, try the Presidio National Park. Lover's Lane is a nice one to start with. If you drive, just after entering the southeastern gate (Presidio Blvd. Gate), you can make a left and park your car in...
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21047 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441, USA
Catelli's Restaurant sits on the 2-block main drag of the tiny town of Geyserville in Northern California. This town is part of the wine country that runs north-south through the Alexander Valley. Even though the town and its run-down structures...
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200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
I had heard that the botanical garden at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California, was worth visiting, but I didn't expect it to be so beautiful. Set among the hills that rise above the city, the botanical garden seems to go on and on, one beautiful...
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1321 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
From chocolate cabernet sauce on ice cream to freshly made brittles and exquisite chocolates, Anette's Chocolate and Ice Cream shop in Downtown Napa is the place to indulge in Napa when you want a little break from wine. The shop is reminiscent of...
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The Monterey Bay area on California's central coast is possibly my favorite part of California--it is that beautiful. On a recent cold January morning, I took my dogs to Asilomar State Beach at one end of the town of Pacific Grove. As the clouds...
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23570 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
Cornerstone Sonoma is a collection of shops, galleries, and gardens that offers an unusual experience in the Sonoma wine country. The series of walk-through gardens showcase the work of some of the world's best landscape architects and designers....
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3926 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA
You wouldn’t know there was a store there unless you lived in the neighborhood, but the owner, Chris, has an amazing list of cheeses. I love his shop because he sells what he likes, not what people tell him is good. He’s also got an...
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3400-3416 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Bernal Heights is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco. It's a little off the beaten path, but on a clear day the park at the top of the hill offers an amazing view of the city and the bay. On a foggy day, the park feels like the...
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California 95043, USA
On a whim driving from Los Angeles back to San Francisco, we decided to take a detour & check out Pinnacles National Monument. What a great decision. We exited I-5 at Coalinga, then took 198 to 25. The drive alone was well worth the detour. We...
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55000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
I was putting my bags in my car, getting ready to leave, when a man came up to me and said, “Is it really time to go?” I smiled and answered, “No.” There was mutual understanding that nobody is ever ready to leave this place, where a feeling of...
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Santa Cruz Beach, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
On the ground and in the sky, technicolor delights on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. You can catch the sky tram from one end to the other or walk through the psychedelic amusement park.
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400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Old school pinball, beer, air hockey and museum: the perfect combination of amusements come together on the mezzanine overlooking Neptune’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Neptune’s Kingdom is a pirate-themed miniature golf course in...
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510 Leibrandt Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
This moment was one of bare feet, paper tickets and cotton candy with a dash of homesickness for childhood.
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913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
There’s nothing like a cold creamy treat on a warm day, and one ice cream shop in the cozy California beach town of Santa Cruz is doing it so, so right. Penny Ice Creamery isn’t your average ice cream joint; you won’t find Ben & Jerry’s-style...
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701 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is located in a historic lighthouse overlooking the sea on the city’s favorite strolling street with a view, West Cliff Drive. Museum exhibits interpret surfing culture through the decades with photos, surfboards,...
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861 41st Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA
The ocean is the heart of the Pleasure Point neighborhood in Santa Cruz, but surfers and sun worshippers need to shop and eat to. The shops, cafés and restaurants on 41st Avenue, near Portola Drive, two blocks from the ocean, cater to the unique...
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100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
On a 10-day road-trip starting in Los Angeles driving along the coast, ending in San Francisco, we stopped in Santa Cruz to check out the Marine Discovery Center near Natural Bridges - totally AWESOME for those of you who love learning about...
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4415, 1124 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Built in 1936 and dripping with colorful deco style inside and out, the Del Mar Theatre, on Santa Cruz’s main drag, Pacific Avenue is the best place in town to see films. The beloved movie house was renovated in 2002, when programming switched...
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175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
When a writing assignment sent me to Santa Cruz in search of "couple-friendly" activities, visions of relaxing on a massage table danced in my head. My mate, on the other hand, had always dreamed of learning to ride waves, so I stepped outside my...
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125 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
I was standing in front of the ice cream case at The Picnic Basket deciding what flavor to have. Do I do burnt caramel or the coffee flavor? I needed some sort of pick me up and saw the espresso machine...but still the ice cream... My indecision...
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101 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA
Every Sunday from 10am until dusk, about 200 local Santa Barbara artisans line E. Cabrillo Blvd to sell their arts and crafts. These artists line up over a half mile right next to the beach, so not only can you shop- but you can stroll along the...
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856 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
There is always time for a cheese plate, especially at Say Cheese. Sample away at cheeses with ingredients like "triple cream" and "made with the finest goat's milk in France." Say Cheese has a cheese cooler packed with all shades of cheese—they...
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490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Cotogna is dangerously close to the AFAR Media offices. This rustic sister restaurant to Quince opened last year, and the roomy bar is a cozy place to sit mid-day with a double espresso served neat in a Heath Ceramics cup. The pastas are all...
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3901 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
The owners wanted a neighborhood pizza joint like they had growing up in Boston. The Dimitri is a pie they named after the guy who runs Noriega Produce up the road. It has every crazy thing on it: sausage, pepperoni,mushrooms, garlic. The bar...
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1170 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
Casey's Pizza serves New York-style, locally-sourced, and mostly organic pizzas from a truck. The owner, a East Coaster, spent a lot of time trying to replicate the pizza of his youth and has added the West Coast mandates of local and organic...
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3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
There's nothing more San Fransisco (or hipster) than buying a margharita (with pepperoni) and taking it to Dolores Park for some prime people watching. It may be easier than getting a seat in the restaurant. Don't forget the chilli flakes! How I...
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4615 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116, USA
If you're looking for a chill place to enjoy a glass of wine and a gourmet pizza, the Park Blvd Wine & Pizza bar is the perfect stop! My husband and I enjoy coming here after a long hike. Pictured here is a glass of pinot with an organic apple,...
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400 Gate 5 Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Today it is one of the most lasting examples of midcentury American design. Heath is famous for its tableware collections, as well as its tile. The colors are amazing, and their bud vases make for...
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863 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005, USA
Palsaik Samgyupsal, which means, "Eight Colors of Pork," is a divine discovery for a bacon lover like myself. Seriously, what can be better than a restaurant that specializes in flavored bacon? You can't help but salivate as marinated slices of...
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414 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020, USA
Southern California has a plethora of wonderful ethnic restaurants and this one happens to be my favorite in Los Angeles. Located in Korea Town, Feng Mao serves the most luscious cumin-scented lamb kebabs grilled over charcoal. Seriously good...
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Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Our neighbors Peter Bahlawanian and his wife, Bronwen Tawse, import exotic ingredients and the freshest spices I’ve ever tasted: paprika, flavored salts, and black limes. They have an amazing store, and I see top chefs shopping here. We get...
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20 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County is a wonderful day trip from San Francisco. Pack a picnic and reserve a raft from SOAR Inflatables, and spend a summer day moseying down the river. Go early or late in the season to avoid crowds and have...
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3308 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, USA
Boot and Shoe Service is the spinoff restaurant to Pizzaiolo, which has been my favorite spot in Oakland since it opened in 2006. Boot and Shoe, its slightly more casual little sister, serves the same pizza--a blistery and crisp crust topped with...
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47540 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The view from the Big Sur Bakery is right on par with the food. In the morning, fuel up on breakfast scones and strong coffee. After a day exploring the Henry Miller Library and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, return at dusk for baby lettuces,...
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Weott, CA 95571, USA
A popular stop along the Avenue of the Giants, the Dyerville Giant rendered me speechless today. This ancient tree, which stood for 1,600 years and grew to be 362 feet tall, fell to the ground in 1991. Its sheer size--the tree was taller than...
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19225 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I've been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super...