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Oh the West Coast. These highlights make me reminisce about the region where I grew up.
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Napa Valley, CA, USA
I love Napa Valley during the Winter time. The air is crisp and cool and there is a calm in the air that parallels the hibernating vines. As Spring approaches, flourishes of bright yellow mustard flowers grow between the rows of vines in vineyards...
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Island of Hawai'i, Hawaii, USA
If you have the time next time you're in Hawaii, instead of just hanging on the beach or catching point breaks, charter a sailboat for a few days. Tons of boats will take you out of the Big Island or out of Lahaina on Maui—not too expensive if you...
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San Diego, CA, USA
Just a short drive north from downtown San Diego, the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers an idea of what Southern California looked like before its coastlines were developed. Experience the area by taking a short walk from the...
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Carlsbad, CA, USA
S. Ponto Beach is a big favorite with local residents. (The annual surf clinic for the blind and sight-impaired (with nearly 100 surfer-assistant volunteers from the Swami’s Surfing Association and San Diego Surf Academy) is held mid-Sept every...
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Batiquitos Lagoon, California, USA
One of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the southern California coast, Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad is full of hiking trails and a beautiful lagoon. Bird watchers will love trying to spot the 185 bird species, which naturalists can take in...
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Goleta, CA 93117, USA
Looking out over the Pacific Ocean from Nacimiento Road, near the intersection with Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway).
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60 Fishermans Wharf #1, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
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We found dozens of Sea Lions lounging on the beach soaking up the warmth. The dark ones just swam ashore and were climbing over the sleeping beach bums to find their own cozy. That is until this guy decided he didn't want to be walked...
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1225 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
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Having lived in France and worked in Switzerland I can tell you I have had my fair share of croissants. The best one I have had is *outside* France! A tiny little bakery in Pacific Grove, CA, Patisserie Bechler beats everything I have had hands...
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Tomales Bay, California, USA
Tomales is a town nestled into a narrow, less accessible stip of highway 1 north of Nick's Cove. I came upon this church bordering the edge of town and a wind swept peninsula.
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Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA 93442, USA
Maybe birds are your passion, maybe not. Me, I like watching them do their collective thing - but prefer to do so in comfort, with a hot coffee, and after having slept in past 8am. Wherever you are on the scale of bird-lover, from 'meh' to...
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800 Asilomar Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
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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3550 Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos, CA 93402, USA
The Montana De Oro state park is located in San Louis Obispo county on the central coast of California. There are many hikes in Montana De Oro state park and this was the longest one we've done yet in this beautiful state park. This was the 7.9...
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Cayucos, CA 93430, USA
We never intended to spend our afternoon walking the length of Cayucos State Beach (then Morro Strand State Beach), picking our way over rocks and around tidals washes, chasing shorebirds and hunting for tiny unbroken shells. But there we were in...
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U.S. 101, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
The Hog Island Oyster Farm website says it's open rain or shine, and they're not kidding. Lucky for us, we arrived at this funky roadside shack on the shores of Tomales Bay minutes before the skies opened up, giving us just enough time to devour...
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California, USA
“We wanted to go to Yosemite, but didn’t have time.” I’ve heard this refrain from several San Francisco visitors and they all have said it with regret. Yes, the reverent national park is outside of a short-drive comfort...
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Salinas, CA, CA, USA

Because of mud slides on Hwy 1, we were forced to take a detour. From the 101 north, (coming from LA), we exited Co Rd G18 and traveled west until we got to the 1 Hwy again. We felt like we discovered a hidden CA treasure on this small back road!...

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19225 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
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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...
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1 Ahwahnee Drive, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389, USA
Although a very popular hike in the Yosemite Valley, the hike past Vernal Falls up the mist trail to Nevada Falls is magical in the Springtime. Personally, I think this is the best spot to stop and have lunch. However, Be sure to check the signs...
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Mt. Whitney, California, USA
This was the view out of my tent opening as I went to bed early to prepare for my Summit bid on the Mountaineers Trail on Mount Whitney. Without another team in sight, and with Iceberg Lake all to ourselves, this was a great way to end the day.
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This Ranch Preserve has several miles of trails that run along the edge of the coastline and up sloping hills into pine forests. I've hiked here several times with my husband and we've seen squirrels, red-tail hawks, kites, egrets, deer, whales,...
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California, USA
I started to rock climb outside this year. Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne meadows can be climbed in 5 pitches. This is the view from the top.
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304 C N, Pueblo St Rd, Taos, NM 87571, USA
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"Red or green?" In New Mexico, you'll be asked that question often--it's literally the "official state question," decreed by the legislature: do you want smoky red chile, or fruity-but-hot green chile sauce? If you can't decide, say "Christmas,"...
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125 Washington Ave Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
While sitting among treetops on a second-floor deck overlooking the colonial streets of Santa Fe, this menu description captivated me: "Made in the traditional style of Chimayó [a village in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, about a...
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Rolling Ridge, Chino Hills, CA 91709, USA
Inland southern California may lack the glam of the Pacific Coast, but its culinary reality is no less 'Pacific Rim.' No need to venture into urban Los Angeles for a taste of Chinatown or Koreatown--East Asian restaurants full of East Asian...
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18501 Philo Greenwood Rd, Philo, CA 95466, USA
by Annie Gowan Stone At the Apple Farm, sleep in wooden cottages surrounded by one of the valley’s last major orchards. Sally and Don Schmitt, founders of the French Laundry, the legendary restaurant in Yountville, California, run the farm with...
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4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA 94559, USA
This refined 28-acre resort set in the rolling hills between downtown Sonoma and downtown Napa makes guests feel relaxed the moment they check in. The vistas are unobstructed from the resort’s pool areas, and many of the property’s 94...
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23240 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
Since I’m still relatively new to San Francisco, I’m still discovering all of the amazing places just outside of the city. Every weekend I try to hop in a car and explore. My latest discovery is Nick’s Cove, a restaurant and cottages located in a...
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972 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol, CA 95472, USA
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True to its name, this Sebastopol Hole in the Wall cafe was hidden and delicious! The Dutch baby is a deep German pancake made in a skillet with tons of sugar and apples. The chef brought it out to us sizzling hot! What a breakfast.
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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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Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
It might sound like an unlikely combination, but go with it. Envision: a big yeasty roll, slightly sweet, browned just to perfection, soft and filled with Chinese barbeque pork -- that's hum bao. Get some at Mee Sum Pastry in Seattle's Pike Place...
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1201 Alaskan Way ste 100, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
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On a pier that's over a century old, Elliott's Oyster House has been one of Seattle's best places for seafood for over three decades. All of the iconic tastes of the Pacific Northwest are here—Dungeness crab, wild salmon, and, of course, oysters....
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Junction, Seattle, WA, USA
If you say "Ma'ono" to a Seattle local, you might get a blank look — but try "the fried chicken place that used to be Spring Hill," and you'll get a nod of recognition. Back when it was Spring Hill, their weekly fried-chicken nights were so...
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4000 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
When visiting Seattle, make sure to stop by the University of Washington—one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States. Cherry trees, lakeshore, and views of glaciated Mt. Rainier surround a cluster of Neo-Gothic buildings....
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3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199, USA
Seattle's largest public park sits on a sea bluff that's high enough to pierce the city's infamous fog, revealing gorgeous views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Wander its 11 miles (18 km) of paths through forest groves, meadows...
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1909 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606, USA
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Packed into this Vietnamese sandwich, or bánh mì (bAHn-me), are spiced, crushed pork meatballs and a runny fried egg that gushes at first bite. A slather of pâté and mayonnaise melts into the fresh-toasted french loaf...and to top this classic...
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1245 Spring St, St Helena, CA 94574, USA
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In St. Helena, what was once Martini House is now a fun new restaurant called Goose & Gander. Go on a warm Friday night, ask for a table outside under the big oak tree, and order this Coastal Pimm's Cup cocktail, made with St. George Terroir...
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4500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Mollusk is a neighborhood surf shop that sells clothing and great boards. They carry my surfboards and handplanes [for body surfing]. They occasionally host art shows and live music. The shop is sort of like the cornerstone of the Sunset. 4500...
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San Francisco, CA, USA
There is no better adrenaline rush than surfing Ocean Beach in San Francisco at low tide. The sun and the sets marching in will keep you buzzing long after your ripping' rides! Even if you don't surf, the four mile strip of beach will keep you...
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101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
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Most dim sum places in the San Francisco Bay Area are pretty typical of what you can find in Asia, culture and all. And while I love authentic as much as the next person, there is a place that has elevated the art of the dumpling. I am not alone...
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610 1st St #22, Napa, CA 94559, USA
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Napa Valley has so much to offer that as a local, sometimes you find hidden gems within your own backyard. On our way out of the valley and into SF last night we decided to stop by the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa until traffic subsided. We were...
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3731 India St B, San Diego, CA 92103, USA
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Saffron Noodles and Sate is located on the edge of Little Italy and Mission Hills in San Diego. Owned by Su-Mei Yu, a woman from Thailand who wanted to recreate the types of foods that she grew up with sold by street vendors in Thailand. The food...
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Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, CA 92107, USA
Hearing the waves while trying to find the ocean through the cut mountains and shady overgrowth of the trail and finally...find a view of crystal waters and colorful cliffs in Point Loma, San Diego. Suddenly I feel like I'm in some other country,...
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510 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
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The Railroad Station turned Coffee House makes for a great eclectic place to wind down with a latte and some friends.They work hard at making delicious fresh pies/cakes, breakfast pastries, keish, and of course drinks. If that alone does'nt make...
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700 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
I spent Sunday at the O’Neill Coldwater Classic surfing competition, happening this week at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz’s most famous surf spot. I walked through the tan, mostly blonde, athletic, surf casual crowd I heard Australian accents and...
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Lower State, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA
Was experimenting with Instagram
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Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454, USA
Bask in the beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley, Foxen Canyon Road is not as well-known as Napa & Sonoma; however, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Also, the surrounding area offers a great selection of restaurants and wineries, and my favorite...
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2400 CA-46, Paso Robles, CA 93446, USA
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Driving thru the wine fields of central California wasn’t technically on ‘the list’ of things to see or do while we were out exploring, but wow was it pretty awesome! If I remember right this was right outside Paso Pobles, and the best part about...
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46800 California 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Most people drive Highway 1 through Big Sur, but each April, a few thousand crazy people like myself decide to run 26.2 miles from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Carmel. The course has plenty of grueling stretches, such as the two windy miles of...
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48510 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
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Though I had read a lot about Nepenthe, as it is a "must-see" if you are in the Big Sur area, I still wasn't prepared for just how beautiful the views were. We were planning on setting up camp and then coming back the few miles to eat dinner at...

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52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best...
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62 California 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I've been all over the California coast and Point Lobos is my favorite place to hike. We have hiked every trail in this reserve and never tire of this magical place. You can see many animals, such as sea otters, seals, elephant seals,sea lions,...
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2218 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
My mom had a garden tour book of Carmel. It sounded kind of silly, but Carmel has some very interesting gardens and fairytale/storybook houses, as well as other interesting architecture and the houses of other famous people such as Charlie...
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Pacific Grove, CA, USA
Creatures from another world are here at the aquarium, giving you a feeling of awe and amazement.
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Del Monte Forest, CA, USA
The beaches along Scenic Drive, Pebble Beach, and 17 Mile Drive are pristine with lovely soft white sand and beautiful emerald or teal colored water - thanks to the granite geology that keeps the water clear.
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Dana Point, CA, USA
Nature provides the ultimate canvas and expression. And sometimes you just have to be aware close to home, not just when traveling afar. This was taken at the end of my street as a rare southern Californian storm developed early one April morning....
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30806 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
One of the benefits of having a rocky coastline (like the one in Laguna Beach) is that you get some amazing tide pool formations which offer the opportunity to view sea anemones and starfish (and various other saltwater critters) up close. The...
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26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, USA
As part of our two week trek across California, we stopped off at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano just south of Los Angeles. We got there at around 4:30 which left us only 30 minutes to see everything. Although not a huge...
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San Diego, CA 92129, USA
Covering more than 2,300 acres, Black Mountain Open Space Park features some 20 miles of trails just 45 minutes from downtown. Take the 2.5-mile hike up to the peak for spectacular views of downtown San Diego, Point Loma, Torrey Pines, and even...
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7250 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
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I had been to the almost-too-cute village Carmel by the Sea a few times but never to the neighboring Carmel Valley. On my last trip to the area, I decided to take a drive through Carmel Valley and just explore. As I drove through the hills and...
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Monterey, CA, USA
My mom and I went out on a whale watching charter boat early in the morning and saw so many whales! It wasn't very much money either. The water wasn't too choppy, so we had really good luck and saw a dozen whales. I was lucky enough to capture...
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Carmel Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
The beaches and coastline of central California is not what one might imagine when hearing "California." They are rugged, rocky, and often cold or even foggy. Carmel Beach, at the end of the super-cute town of Carmel, is a bit of an exception....
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Point Lobos, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
This state natural reserve is a perfect highlight of Northern California's coast. Trails meander through trees, along the craggy coastline and down to tide pools. With California poppy's blooming, cypress trees clinging to rocks and aquamarine...
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Twin Lakes, CA, USA
Santa Cruz farms produce an embarrassment of riches – on display at local farmers’ markets, happening nearly every day of the week around town. The Live Oak Farmers Market, held at East Cliff Village on Sundays 9am-1pm is a great way to spend your...
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3600 CA-1, Davenport, CA 95017, USA
Rancho del Oso recently opened a nature and history center, part of Big Basin California State Park, located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz (past Davenport) at Wadell Creek. The ranch got its name from the Grizzly Bears that once frequented the...
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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is an easy drive from Santa Cruz’s downtown and beaches. The accessible Redwood Grove Loop Trail brings you quickly into the world of the big trees and bright yellow banana slugs. If you have more time, you can...
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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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701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
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If you care to support local organic farmers and sustainable fisheries- while eating delicious food- then Passionfish is your place. The menu changes quite a bit, but they usually seem to have the asparagus fries, which aren't greasy at all. You...
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1108 Garden St #210, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
San Luis Obispo is a quaint college town with cobblestone sidewalks and an interesting history. Just some of the interesting things about San Luis can be found at the eclectic Madonna Inn - http://www.madonnainn.com/ and the famous bubble gum...
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San Diego, CA, USA
San Diego has become one of California's craft beer destinations. With around 85 craft beer companies, you can say that San Diegans love their brews! Sign up for one of the dozens of beer tours, or visit Bottlecraft in either North Park or Little...
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554 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
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This is my favorite pub in San Diego. The owner confided in me once that he never thought of this type of business, but one day took an impromptu trip sponsored by Guinness to Ireland to learn about owning a bar. He enjoyed it so much that when he...
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California, USA
Its a long haul from San Francisco, but so magical when you arrive you almost forget how long you've been in the car.
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Mono Lake, California 93541, USA
The colors and incredible rocks at Mono Lake draw you in. It is like no place I have ever visited. The rock formations are called Tufa towers which form in a variety of ways at Mono Lake. The most visible formations are the towers on the lake’s...