Step Outside - California WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - California 144 144 Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:42:37 -0500 10 Best Ski Destinations for Families in California Skiing and surfing are practically rites of passage for kids growing up between the beaches and mountains of California. During the winter months, families head to ski destinations near and far to learn new tricks, improve on skills, and pass on the love of winter sports to new generations. Check out the best ski spots for families where small kids can take a lesson while mom and dad relax on or off the slopes! 

Mammoth Mountain is one of Southern California’s most famous resort areas. You’ll find lodges, lessons, hot tubs, skiing, snowboarding, and other snowy activities to keep the whole family occupied. Look for deals letting you ski at a number of resorts and start the kids early with lessons for tots, teens, and grown-ups.

The boys loving an empty bluebird day

A post shared by Mrs Diggins πŸ‘‹πŸΌ (@jenbals) on

Sometimes overlooked in favor of bigger ski areas, this smaller mountain has a local feel that families love. June can be a little more affordable and less overwhelming than its bigger counterparts. You’ll find lessons for kids and a variety of options for adults.

Who's your chairlift buddy?

A post shared by June Mountain (@junemountain) on

For many Southern Californians, Big Bear is their first taste of snowy weather. Smaller slopes and easier access make Big Bear a good spot for families that are new to skiing and winter sports. The town features a variety of friendly accommodations at various price points for large and small parties and you’ll also find lessons at many of the nearby ski spots.

Not far from Big Bear, Snow Valley is a lesser-known spot for families with small kids. It is less crowded and may offer more one-on-one time with instructors. Look for special rates and group deals when you’re looking for spots to teach the kids.

Cash me outside. . . . #πŸ‚ #πŸ—» #Burton #Ride #hematoma

A post shared by Chotipong Chamchalaem (@chootee) on

Mountain High is a short distance from LA compared to other ski resorts. It’s very family focused and offers ski and snowboard lessons for the little ones. Another benefit is that the resort is no frills and so offers a lot of different deals, from free birthdays to select age groups, to coupons, and other specials for first-time skiers. If everyone in the family meets the height requirements, trying tubing at the tube park.

For a ski getaway in Northern California, Northstar California has reputation for being family friendly. Northstar offers lodging, ski lessons, lift tickets, and more all in one convenient location—you won’t even need a car in the village. Sign up for lessons and then reward yourself with a gourmet snack. 

Heavenly Mountain is packed with family-friendly activities on and off the slopes. The resort caters to families of all ages and includes ski lessons for toddlers on up as well as fireworks during the holidays and other ways to have fun in the snow or indoors.

Kirkwood Resort has a reputation for being serious about skiing, thanks to major mountains. If your kids are a little older, then Kirkwood can be a beautiful place to help them improve their ski and snowboard skills while still having mountains that are challenging for the whole family to enjoy. 

Today was real fun thanks dooodesπŸ‘πŸ» @instagrahhamm @gofeickyourself

A post shared by Jess (@jesslimeburner) on

Squaw Valley once hosted the Winter Olympics, so you know the place is serious about winter sports. One of the country’s best ski resorts is a great place for families with kids to learn about skiing and snowboarding from true experts. Steeped in tradition, the resort is close to a village with activities and fun for off the slopes.

Tahoe Donner offers family-friendly competition with each year’s Winter Superstars Week. Held in February the annual event includes a variety of competitions from skiing and snowboarding to sledding. It’s not the only event to enjoy, the resort also offers deals and specials throughout ski season as well as family movie nights and other ways to enjoy time out of the cold. 

First time skiing I can't remember how many times I fell down Who cares .. time to learn !!

A post shared by Naruemon TeeFuey (@nanar24) on

]]> Fri, 01 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Apres Ski Activities in California After a long and fulfilling day on the slopes, it's time to explore all the other things the area has to offer. Relish the exhilaration of the day with a bite to eat, your favorite drink, or maybe even a trip to the spa. Next time you're in California for a ski trip, check out these great apres activities.

You’ll be off of your skis, but not quite off the mountain at this fun post-schussing hang out. At the base of the infamous Stump Alley run near Chair 2, this favorite spot is famous for their barbecue and smoked tri-tip sandwiches. Comfy lounge chairs make relaxing easy. Sit outside by the fire pits for some al fresco dining and drinking.

A large outdoor patio is just the right spot for people-watching after a day of fun on the mountain. Located at the base of Chair 2, it’s an easily accessible spot to kick off your skis and put your boots up. Known for its burgers, homemade pizzas, full bar, and great views—this is the place to be after getting off the slopes! Kick back, either inside or on the outdoor patio, relax, and enjoy the view.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bear Mtn (@bear_mountain) on

Give your downhill skiing legs a break and sit awhile as you slide down the lanes at this tubing park, the largest in Southern California. No special skills required to have a blast as you fly down the hill. Tubes are provided. Afterwards, take a break inside the lodge where a roaring fire and a cup of hot chocolate takes the chill off.

After a long day on the slopes at one of Lake Tahoe’s many mountains, the body will need a little help recovering. Soothe your sore muscles with the 80-minute Apres Ski Recovery: a "tension-relieving treatment which includes a take home soothing balm for joints and muscles." Services also include detox treatments, facials, beauty treatments, saunas, whirlpools, and more. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sarina Li (@sarinalisf) on

Don’t wear yourself out on the slopes, because the apres activities at the Tamarack Lodge are high-energy and sure to wow you. You’ll be impressed with the live performances, DJs spinning all night long, hand crafted drinks, the delicious menu that ranges from light snacks to hearty meals, and more. The party never stops here, but when you want to, a moonlit Gondola ride down the mountain will cap off the evening.

Soaking in therapeutic pool after a day full of skiing is a gift your body will thank you for. Not far from Kirkwood Ski Resort is this pool complex that has Hot Spring Pools open year-round. The pools are generally open every day, even when it’s raining or snowing. Your sore muscles will definitely feel relieved.

Regain your center and balance at this serene studio with a class that encourages taking a deep breath and relaxing the entire body through simple postures. The studio, in the village, has large windows that offer breathtaking views of the mountain. Classes include Vinyasa Flow, YinYasa, Apres Ski Restorative classes, amongst others. Teachers focus on creating a healthy mind, body and spirit.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Wanderlust Yoga Squaw Valley (@wanderluststudiosquaw) on

After a day of skiing at Tahoe Donner Ski Resort, spend a little time exploring this downtown area. The town came into being thanks to the railroad and the gold rush, but is perhaps most famous for its proximity to Donner Lake and the infamous Donner Party disaster. There’s plenty to see and do with a diverse selection of places to eat and drink, a vibrant nightlife, plus shopping, museums and historic landmarks to investigate.

Sharpen a different set of edges and lace up a pair of ice skates for a spin around this 9,000-square-foot rink. Or, sit an enjoy a hot toddy or hot mulled cider around the fire pits and watch as skaters perform their best toe loop or axel jump. S’mores kits, available for sale in the evenings, are a fun way to cap the day spent shredding at Northstar ( Free for all, skates available to rent.

Sit outside on the patio and catch the late afternoon sun while enjoying a flight of hand-crafted beer at this local brewery. Skiing June Mountain Ski Area is hard work, so recovery is all about relaxing and this is the place to do it. Nearly a dozen beers are available on tap. If you’re hungry, Ohanas 395 is a food truck right next door with Hawaiian soul food that will blow your mind. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by June Lake Brewing (@junelakebrewing) on

]]> Mon, 25 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0600
7 Best Winter Cabin Camping Spots in California National parks, mountain escapes, and even the beaches of California offer rustic and charming cabins in which to rest. Cabin camping provides the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness that surrounds you, but also escape to a comfortable bed and modern conveniences at the end of the day. However you envision your cozy cabin, you can find one in California. 

Tucked into the food of Ventura County’s highest mountain, Topa Topa, this beautiful KOA spans 76 acres and features several cabin camping accommodations perfect for a winter stay. Their Studio Pine Cabin is an excellent option and can sleep up to four people. The space features gorgeous views of nearby orchards, a comfortable loft, and a full bathroom. 

Outside of Yosemite, you’ll fall in love with Far Meadow. Pets are allowed and there are log cabins and A-frame cabins to choose from. Teepee tents are available for bigger parties and you can explore many of the region’s most majestic features that you don’t find staying in the bigger park.

Lake Arrowhead is a scenic woodland filled with trees and cabins. Pine Rose cabins are the perfect setting for a rustic chic wedding or other special event. There’s a pool for summer stays and hot tub open year-round as well as other modern amenities that bring the cozy cabins into the present.

If you want to camp out but don’t want the fuss of packing and pitching a tent, then check out the cabins at Avila/Pismo Beach KOA. Located across from a petting zoo and close to the area’s natural wonders, including a state beach and sand dunes. You’ll find conveniences like laundry facilities and wine country only a short drive away.

Not far from Lake Tahoe, Sorensen’s Resort is not far from skiing and lake activities as well as other ways to enjoy the scenic beauty of Tahoe. The cabin resort includes amenities like a full-service restaurant and a wood-fired sauna and more. Take a workshop or attend an event, there is always something to do, even in the rural surroundings.

The Rustic Cottages of Lake Tahoe offer a glimpse of history as the vacation resort dates back several decades. Outfitted with romantic iron bedframes, the cabin-style cottages offer spacious accommodations in a whimsical setting as well as access to the pool and beach.  

winter is here!!!!!! . . . #GoTinspired #throwback (28weeks Jachin inside 😍)

A post shared by βœŒοΈπŸŒŠβ˜€οΈπŸŒΊπŸ‘£πŸ’‰πŸ„ (@journeyjoyce) on

This KOA in Weldon, California, is open all year and features several cabin accommodations that the whole family will enjoy. The deluxe cabin features a beautiful shaded deck, a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, a living room, two separate bedrooms, and can sleep up to six people. Unwind with a warm fire after a long day in the great outdoors.  

]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Ski and Snowboard Stores in California California’s love of alternative sports means that however you want to get down a mountain, there’s a shop that can help you do it. From beach cities to mountain villages, these shops have everything you need to ski and snowboard through California’s fiercest mountains. Check out just a few of the top shops around to get you started or to stock up on gear and gadgets. 

Rip N’ Willies Ski & Snowboard Shop is a labor of love from a husband and wife team with roots in the ski life in Tahoe. Affordable rates and great service have made Rip N’ Willies Ski & Snowboard Shop a favorite with people that return to the area looking to experience snow sports without the hassle and investment of owning their own equipment. Check it out whether you need new gear or want to rent some for your time in town.

Another the mountain! #skiing #letsgo #Herbalife #line #smith

A post shared by Kris Zehren (@kzehren_24fit) on

Doc’s Ski and Sports has been a legend since first opening in the 1950s. Since then the shop has grown to include a variety of gear for both skis and snowboards as well as name brand apparel and other odds and ends necessary for hitting the slopes.

What one wears to pick out new skis

A post shared by Mimi Kent (@meemsterama) on

Phil’s offers rentals for kids as well as adults and also has a variety of equipment available for sale. You’ll find a variety of leasing options to make things easier for you and the shop also offers service and repairs as well as anything else you might need to enjoy time in the mountains.

Val Surf has grown to include several locations as well as its own brand across the state of California. The full-service shop offers both sales and rentals as well as other equipment, gear, clothing and things that are items when skiing or snowboarding. 

The Rock House structure dates to the 1930s and currently is home to the “friendliest” ski shop in town. The owner is a competitive skier and the shop is run with love and knowledge of the local area’s focus on snow sports.

Milo Snow is devoted to being a modern store. The knowledgeable staff offer advice as though sharing with friends. You’ll find a variety of services and products at this excellent source of snow gear. You’ll find a variety of snowboards from all the top-notch brands.   

Orange County’s biggest store of its kind, CBS board shop has aisles and aisles of ski and snowboard equipment. The shop also offers rentals, repairs, clothing and other gear for a one-stop experience that encompasses pretty much anything you could ever need under one roof.

This elite boutique is somewhat unexpected in its rural mountain town but the deals and unique items make it a good place to go. LeRoy’s has been around since 1949 but has since grown and expanded to include shops in several mountain villages. Top names and ongoing service from the original family makes LeRoy’s a perpetual favorite for skiers and snowboarders.

Carrying snow goods in all Le Roys locations. #burton #snowboarding #ride

A post shared by Leroy's Board Shops (@leroysboardshop) on

Stay warm on the slopes with warming packs, mittens, beanies, and more from Clark’s. Clark’s has everything you need to hit the slopes in style including the option to rent or buy equipment and other gear. Bags to stow your gear and friendly service are available in store and online.

Green Room has stuff for men, women, and children so it’s where to head when the family is spending time on the mountains. Get your gear tuned up or repaired or look for something new. You’ll find big brand boards as well as sunglasses and other accessories. 

]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Ice Skating Rinks in California California isn’t exactly known for freezing conditions but it does have a good amount of cold-weather activities, including several excellent ice skating rinks. From seasonal winter rinks that sparkle during the holidays to year-round arenas where professionals and amateurs hone their skills, California boasts an abundance of high-quality locations to lace up the skates. Here are the 10 best. 

The ice skating rink in Yosemite’s Half Dome Village is a seasonal tradition dating back to 1928. It is rumored to have started as flooded parking lot and since those early days has grown to be one of the most popular things to do in the national park. The family-friendly tradition also includes getting s’mores after a spin on the ice.

Orange County’s Aliso Viejo Ice Palace offers lessons, public skating hours, hockey leagues, and much more. You can have a birthday party on the ice or enjoy any number of ice-centric sports and events.

The Adventist Health Ice Center of Bakersfield is a newer ice skating rink in California and features a variety of ways to get kids on the ice from lessons to hockey leagues. There are also open hours for public skating as well as birthday party events! 

Pidwick Ice features an NHL-sized rink but there are plenty of smaller ways to enjoy the ice as well. Plan to spend a day and enjoy time in the lounge when you’re off the ice. There are also skating lessons, hockey programs, birthday parties, music skate sessions, and more—including a clever seal device that kids can ride on the ice to aid them in their skating. 

Center Ice Arena has been a prominent part of the Ontario community since 2001. The NHL-sized arena offers a variety of programs and activities and is easily located off the area’s major freeways. Rent skates and head out on the ice or sign the kids up for lessons and leagues.

The Oakland Ice Center has a vast variety of ice programs available for all ages and abilities. Public skating schedules are available, including an adults-only event that includes coffee and pastries. You can plan an event or sign the kids up for hockey or figure skating lessons.

Iceoplex has been a favorite spot for families in the Conejo Valley for years. Public skating access tends to be inexpensive enough for teens to drop by or families looking for something new. There are also lessons for all ages as well as leagues and other activities.

The Tahoe area has lots of ice rinks that open outdoors during the winter season, but Tahoe Arena remains the only year-round indoor option. Look for specials and deals on public skate sessions. Locals can participate in early-morning free skate sessions during the school year. Also find tons of other ice skating activities, events, classes, leagues, etc.

The notoriously hot San Fernando Valley isn’t exactly known for its ice skating but Iceland in Van Nuys is pretty much an institution. The no-frills retro rink has appeared in films and is an active part of community fundraising, special events, skating classes, and general good times—including birthday parties featuring bumper cars on ice.

Throughout Orange County, you can find several locations for the Rinks, a series of ice rinks in Southern California. At Yorba Linda Ice, you can enjoy public skating as well as skating lessons for all ages and hockey or figure skating. And there are birthday parties too. 

]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
7 Best Winter Hikes in California California is filled with diverse terrain. Whether you want to spend your winter hiking in the snow or soaking in the sun, you can find a beautiful winter hike in California. Be sure to check park websites for information about trail closures as well as instructions about safety and inclement weather conditions. Pack your sunscreen and prepare to head out to view some of the most beautiful spots for winter hikes in California! 

If you love wildlife, then head to Año Nuevo State Park. Many trails are closed during the winter to protect the wildlife, including elephant seals. Make a reservation ahead of time to gain access on a guided hike to see the elephant seals from a safe vantage point. Guided tours during the winter months are a highlight of the park’s natural beauty! 

Calling all the ladies

A post shared by Zoe (@mouthfulagold) on

Malibu’s beaches attract people from around the world but not many know that the coast is also a prime place for hiking. Locals head out on hikes here regularly, among some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere on earth. The area is famous for historical structures as well as filming, before becoming a state park.

Caswell Memorial State Park has many trails that follow the flowing Stanislaus River where you can float or fish. Stroll through ancient oak trees and enjoy a hike along a short trail or opt for a longer one. Either way, you’ll enjoy the breathtaking views of this park. 

View this post on Instagram

Just a 30 minute drive on the freeway and we ended up at Caswell Memorial State Park. #optoutside

A post shared by Micah Diele (@micahdiele) on

Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is the largest state park in Tahoe and offers miles and miles of trails. Open during the winter, you can trek with cross-country skis or snowshoes to enjoy an epic winter wonderland. Be sure to get a map of the trails before heading out for a “true Tahoe experience.”

One of wine country’s best-kept secrets is Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. You’ll find trails of varying skill levels as well as plenty of picnic spots for enjoying a bottle of the local specialty. The park is open year-round, and offers yurts for an overnight stay if you want to hike across multiple days.

Big Sur is famous for its wilderness, including ocean and mountain views. Andrew Molera State Park is named after an artichoke grower and has many historic points of interest. This location serves as a winter habitat for monarch butterflies.

Berry Creek Falls is one of the most ambitious hikes in Big Basin Redwood State Park. Lesser known than the shorter hikes through the majestic trees, Berry Creek Falls requires an over 10-mile loop but is especially worthwhile in the winter time when the falls are flowing at maximum capacity. 

]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
The Best Cross-Country Skiing Adventure in California California is what cross-country skiing dreams are made of. Trekking through the grandeur of Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon should be right at the top of your bucket list if you’re an avid outdoor adventurer. With its towering trees and breathtaking landscape, there isn’t anything in the world quite like it. Here’s how to enjoy a cross-country skiing adventure in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. 

The over 600-square-mile Sequoia National Park sits directly adjacent to the sprawling Kings Canyon National Park. Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this place is among the most beautiful to cross-country ski. Have you ever skied through magnificent sequoia groves? It’s truly a sight to see. Rentals can be found at the nearby Wuksachi Lodge.  

Wuksachi Lodge is the premier hotel and resort in the Sequoia National Park. The hotel includes a full-service restaurant, stunning views, and convenient access to nearby cross-country and snowshoe trails. Wireless internet is limited, who needs that when you should be spending your time outdoors!  

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bruno Louzada (@baroqueangel14) on

Grant Grove Market is where you’ll want to stop for supplies, including cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals. You can also buy snacks and camping gear, along with beer, tire chains, and you can even use the post office located inside the shop. Conveniently located near the John Muir Lodge and Kings Canyon Big Stump entrance, you can stock up on everything you need for your adventure.

You’ll want to stop at one of the visitor’s centers inside the park for maps as well as information about the region’s rich history and diverse ecosystem. Learn about the historic sequoia trees and the museum that once functioned as the region’s first store. During the winter, hours are limited to weekends and holidays.

Be sure to take time to visit General Sherman, the most gigantic tree in the Giant Sequoia Tree forest and the biggest tree on earth. Thousands of years old and nearly 300 feet-tall, General Sherman is an impressive sight not to be missed.

View this post on Instagram

{Yosemite/Death Valley/Sequoia/Kings Canyon} Road Trip Dec 26-29 2018: {Day 4: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks}: Due to road closures, we were not able to explore Kings Canyon NP. The fourth and final day of the trip did however give us a beautiful winter wonderland to explore in Sequoia National Park. Sitting at almost 7000 feet above sea level, General Sherman is the biggest tree in the world by volume. It is pictured here through my fisheye lens attachment on my iPhone 8+. It may not stack up with the Coastal Redwoods in terms of height, but it is a WIDE tree to say the least. This is the largest living organism on planet earth, past or present. I was humbled to even be in its presence. #sequoianationalpark #generalsherman #highsierras #nationalparkservice #findyourpark

A post shared by Arman Sabouri (@armansabouriphoto) on

There are several gift shops in the area where you can not only stock up on supplies but also bring home something from your adventures. In addition to the usual t-shirts and keychains, you can find Native American works as well as saplings of giant sequoias so that you can start your own forest.

There is a lot to see in Northern California and if you can experience some of the majesty in a car, take the opportunity. It might not be feasible during the winter—so be sure to have snow tires or chains, but some of the highways in the area offer stunning views close to popular trails.

So that you don’t miss any of the highlights, consider one of the full day or half day sightseeing tours offered by local tourism company, Sequoia Sightseeing Tours. Departing from Wuksachi Lodge, the tours ensure you don’t miss out on any of the breathtaking sights, including General Sherman, Moro Rock, and others, and also give a backstory about the region.

Ranger-led programs can be a great way to experience snowshoeing. Snowshoes are provided and walks are around a mile long. Snowshoeing is as easy as walking and you can also find walks provided by naturalists from the Sequoia Parks Conservancy. There are also evening programs and other ways to experience the majesty of the trees.

Wolverton Meadow is a popular snow play are in Sequoia National Park. In addition to trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, you can also enjoy sledding. Pick up snowshoes for the kids at the Wuksachi Lodge for even more fun.

Grant Grove Restaurant is a spacious new eco-friendly restaurant. Featuring dishes made with locally-grown ingredients, you can find everything from hearty breakfasts to small snacks to burgers and beer.

]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Point Reyes National Seashore This wild stretch of windswept land is a 70,000-acre nature preserve that showcases the great diversity of coastal California. When you think coastal California, you may be imagining summer, but it’s during the winter that this destination transforms into a true oasis. Take a step out onto its towering bluffs, soaking in the sights of the rolling waves for as far as the eye can see. For the ultimate serenity, pay Point Reyes a visit during the colder months. Here’s how to make the most of your winter weekend getaway. 

Stand on a bluff overlooking the blue enormity of the Pacific Ocean and the barren allure of deserted beaches and you’ll feel the spirit of the 100 square-miles of coastal wilderness at this protected seashore, the only one on the West Coast. Located about 30 miles north of San Francisco, this undeveloped area has 80 miles of shoreline, historic working ranches, 150 miles or trails that meander over beaches, through wetlands, forests and meadows and provide access to historic landmarks, as well as unspoiled habitat that boasts a staggering diversity of flora and fauna. Plus, there’s a historic lighthouse that clings to the edge of this rugged world. Keep in mind that it may be closed due to a big renovation. The lighthouse area will be closed until January 31.  

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sam Poole Jones VI (@sampoole) on

There are five backcountry hike-in or boat-in primitive campgrounds at Point Reyes—a vault toilet and water faucet are the only amenities. Not too far away, this campground provides a bit more comfort plus easy access to all the Seashore has to offer. There are tent and RV sites. Each has a fire ring and picnic table. Clean bathrooms and hot showers, a laundry area and kids playground make this a fun place to camp for a night or a week.

You could spend days exploring the 150 miles of trails here, but if you only have a day a hike along this remote trail through the Tule Elk Reserve provides a glimpse of wildlife, lush vegetation. It ends at a bluff overlooking spectacular views of Tomales and Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a moderate 10 mile round-trip (or less if you choose a closer turn-around point) filled with the sights and sounds of bugling tule elk, bellowing elephant seals on the beaches below and a cacophony of shrieking birds.

Fishing is closely regulated in all waters of the National Seashore. Permits are required, fees must be paid and there are limits on the size and number of fish taken. Given all of that, this four-acre site on Tomales Bay has everything you need for a successful fishing adventure. Fish for and catch striped bass, perch, rock fish, halibut, and even salmon. If getting out on the water isn’t for you, there’s a small pier nearby where you don’t even have to get your feet wet to catch something.

Dairy farms are found throughout the National Seashore. They are representative of the earliest days of industrial-scale dairying in the state and continue to thrive today. Some of the best local cheeses begin with milk from Point Reyes cows. The award-winning organic cheeses made by this creamery include cottage cheese, creme fraiche, fromage blanc and a variety of specialty blends. You can sample and buy some at Tomales Bay Foods in Point Reyes Station. Check out the Cowgirl Cantina too, a take-out deli with wines, sandwiches, salads and local breads. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cowgirl Creamery (@cowgirlcreamery) on

If you want to have a true taste of the area, eat some oysters. That’s been happening along this coastline for thousands of years. The earliest peoples knew what a treat they are. Now, oysters are locally farmed and show up in restaurants in a variety of ways from raw to barbecued to stuffed. Grad a seat at the oyster bar here and order a plate served on the half-shell, with a squeeze of lemon and a little dab or horseradish. They’re so fresh, you can taste the sea.

There’s a number of off-road biking trails that traverse the beauty of the National Seashore, so be sure to take along a bike when visiting. Of course, there are rules of the trail. Pick up a map at the Visitor Center before heading out. Any bike issues, stop by this small shop for a tune-up. Mechanics are working on bikes everyday but Monday. You can pick up extra tires, water bottles and even a Black Mountain jersey, a memento for a memorable ride.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by the Radavist (@theradavist) on

You can’t shoot anything in the park, except with a camera. You’ll see a lot through the viewfinder on a one of these safaris, guided by a certified California Naturalist. As you’re trekking, be on the lookout for bobcats, coyotes, badgers, grey fox, tule elk, elephant seals, raptors, owls, shorebirds and whales. Plus, the coastal landscape is just picture perfect. Safaris can be booked for half and full days for one to eight people. Lunch is included.

Winter at the Seashore brings with it the annual migration of the California gray whale. Each year, it begins its journey from the frigid, cold waters of Alaska, heading south to the warm lagoons of Baja California. The headlands of Point Reyes offer a prime viewing spot to see these beautiful behemoths cruise by. All you need to spot one is pair of binoculars. A shuttle bus system is in place to ferry visitors to the best vista points.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by unch_h (@unch_h) on

]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0600
SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve On the far reaches of Los Angeles sits Antelope Valley—a magnificent space often overlooked. With its annual explosion of beautiful poppies each year, this reserve is a sight that must be experienced. If you can’t make it in the spring, you’ll still find plenty to do and see both within the park and the surrounding area. From local museums that showcase area history to top-notch restaurants, here are the best things to do in and around Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. 

The Antelope Valley California Reserve is located in the high desert and relies on nature to create the amazing blooms that draw visitors from around the world each year to gaze in awe at the poppies and wildflowers that bloom. During the spring the area is filled with people taking a look at the fields or exploring single blossoms. The park is for day use and picnics, so you can bring a pack and explore the miles of trails that go through the blooms, but don’t veer off and risk crushing the flora. Nearby are other state parks, where you can find other types of flora and fauna to check out. Be sure to check in at the visitor center, which has a lot of information about the park as well as features artwork inspired by the flowers.

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History is a good way to learn about the original citizens of the valley as well as check out historical structures, local artists, and spend some time indoors. Lancaster’s weather tends to fluctuate between hot and cold so having a museum to step into can be a great relief. Museum hours vary depending on which building you check out so be sure to plan ahead.

Apollo Community Regional Park isn’t your typical neighborhood park. Fifty-four acres named after the Apollo 11 astronauts include three large stocked ponds for fishing. Walk around on the walking trails or enter one of the annual fishing derbies! 

The Antelope Valley Winery features wines from local vineyards as well as exotic meats. Sign up for a tour or try a tasting. You can also pick up a picnic to enjoy in the poppy fields or other park. Call in advance for details, especially if you’re planning a trip with a large group. 

Wine tasting 🍷

A post shared by Jennica RN πŸ’‰ (@jennica__) on

There is almost always something going on at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Bridal shows, food fairs, bingo parties, and more are frequently at the fairgrounds. There are often events for kids, including book fairs, petting zoos, and more, and all events are held throughout the year, not just during poppy season. Stop by to check it out.

The Antelope Valley Mall is a spacious spot to shop. The mall features many of the biggest chain stores as well as a few local retailers in addition to holding shopping and makeup events. The movie theater at the mall is also a good place to spend a few hours relaxing between seeing the sights! 

BeX Bar & Grill is a local gastropub with a casual vibe. Chill out with a beer from the selection on tap or indulge in weekend brunch before you head out to the poppy fields. Friendly service and a big selection helps ensure a good time and good grub. 

The Modern Tearoom is an unexpected retreat from the heat. You’ll find salads, sandwiches, and tea but with a more laid-back vibe than a traditional tea service. Locals enjoy snacking between shopping.

A great taste of Cajun country in the desert, Crab N Spice is a fun way to get messy and indulge in a seafood spread. Try it for lunch or dinner and choose your own spices and seafood! 

Gasoline & Coffee is a garage-themed coffee shop that is a perfect blend of swanky coffee and rough and tumble. Whether you like your coffee decaf or regular, you can find a basic cup of black alongside sweet treats and frozen blends.

]]> Fri, 02 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in California California isn’t all cities and towns. When you need to get out and off the beaten track, you can head to one of California’s numerous ATV off-roading trails. Family fun, buddy trips, and more can be planned around the state’s ATV adventures. Many offer campgrounds so that you can spend the night in an RV or tent after your ride. Here are five cool spots for ATV off-roading in the Golden State. 

Ocotillo Wells has over 85,000 acres to explore. You can camp but be sure to check the website for the rules and the supplies that you can and can’t bring into the area. While fans love the Wild West, comforts like clean bathrooms stocked with everything you need are also appreciated. Spend the day or night to enjoy the natural beauty. And be sure to be respectful so that Ocotillo Wells can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Just miles from the Mexican border, Heber Dunes is a favorite for ATV riders and other off-road vehicles. You can’t camp but you can play in the dunes from dawn until dusk. Winding trails and different types of sand dunes mean that you’ll have plenty of space to explore for a day. You can also find classes on safety and rules of the off-road. You’ll also find community events and other activities that come up during holiday weekends and other fun things to do at Heber Dunes.

Hollister Hills is filled with various ranches to take out your ATV.  Have a picnic or campout and enjoy panoramic views and amazing trails. The Upper Ranch sits on 800 acres and has about 24 miles of trails to explore. Watch out for wildlife and be cautious. The stunning views and few crowds make it a favorite spot to enjoy. Maps and clearly marked trails make it a place to experience nature safely.

As the third largest unit of California State Park’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, Hungry Valley is one of the more accessible SRVA spots for the city of Los Angles. Just a short ride north of the city off the I-5, Hungry Valley is an easy weekend getaway for when you need to get away but the kids are still in school. The vast variety of trails means that you can be a beginner or an experienced rider and find a trail or two to experience.

Located near Oroville, Clay Pit is a small but prime spot for riding motorcycles, ATVs and 4x4s. The pit is left over from the days of building the Oroville Dam. It’s a prime spot for beginners or teaching kids. There aren’t many jumps or different types of terrain, so it’s easier to get acclimated to the area.

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

Jacob Lund/ Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in California In the fall, the forests of California come to life with vibrant colors, painting a landscape of oranges, yellows, and reds. The very best way to view nature’s annual showing of magical colors is by embarking on a fall foliage hike. These five stunning hikes help you experience Mother Nature at her best. 

Are you seeking outdoor adventure? Do you love the season’s changing leaves and flowers with the cinnamon reds, fiery peaches, bright golden hues, and muddy browns? Bishop Creek Canyon has more than a dozen day trails that take you into autumn nirvana. The only limitation is your imagination and how far your feet will take you. Beautiful baby blue skies and fluffy white clouds are your ceiling as you travel through this magnificent wilderness area. You’ll see pristine lakes and rocky mountain majesties. Make sure you have plenty of water with you and stay on the marked trails. There’s no fee for day hiking, but if you plan to stay overnight, you’ll want to get an overnight pass at the White Mountain Ranger Station. 

Home to Native Americans originally, the Shasta Cascade region is in the northeast/north central part of California at the edge of Oregon and Nevada. There are seven national forests in the region, and well-known waterways, unspoiled lakes, and plunging waterfalls beckon a visit and a photograph or two. A favorite spot of John Muir’s, there is activity for everyone. Water recreation like canoeing, paddleboarding, a moonlight kayaking tour, or fishing, you name it, it’s here for the enjoyment. If you prefer a solitary hike where you can experience the peace and serenity of a crystal-clear lake or the pounding and rushing sound of water falling 138 feet, there’s that, too. Visit for day. Stay for a while. Remember forever. 

If you’re looking for a nice place to pitch your tent, tether your RV, or just spend the day hiking and fishing, Lundy Lake is the right place for you. This three-mile trail is not heavily traveled and is listed as difficult. The trail is dog-friendly as long as you remember to keep them under control. If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find plenty of great photo opportunities here with the birds and fall foliage, and it’s not a far hike to the waterfalls. Summer and fall are the best times to come, and the aspen groves and beaver ponds are added perks to the hike. 

Known as the “Father of the National Parks,” John Muir was also a naturalist, environmentalist, and advocate for protecting the wilderness areas in and around Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park in California. The 211-mile hiking trail named after Muir is good for hikers of all ages, and every mile holds amazing and picturesque views of the state. This trail has the sunniest climate for a mountain range in the world, but hiking the trail is best between July and September. The complete trail can be accomplished in three weeks if you follow a steady pace. A permit is needed, so make sure to obtain one, and bears are frequently seen, so bring along a food container if you plan to spend the night. 

Recovering from the damage caused by a wildfire in nearby Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in 2003, the area around Palomar Mountain State Park is coming back to life with the fire of autumn. With almost 2,000 acres of green coniferous forests in the park, there are still brilliant bursts of color as the cedar trees change from green to golden yellow to vibrant orange to earthy brown. Evenings are cool, but you can take any of the 11 miles of hiking trails to locations like historic Boulder Hill, where the view from the old fire tower is magnificent. Part of the Boucher Summit Trail is handicap accessible, and there is information available about the tower, originally built in 1921 and maintained by park volunteers. Some of the trail provides an easy, slow-paced walk, but others require a half-day to complete. Maps are available and remember to get a day pass, which includes your overnight camping fee if you’re spending the night. 

]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Johnson Valley OHV Area Although it feels fairly desolate with its desert terrain, Johnson Valley is close to nearby towns so that you can make a trip of your ATV off-roading adventure. The unincorporated community in San Bernardino County is bordered by mountains on one side and the high desert on the other, so you can explore both Big Bear and the Mojave. Check out how to spend a weekend off-roading in California’s Johnson Valley and the surrounding area. 

Before you start your day of adventure, you must stop to check out Calico Ghost Town. This town is one of the few remaining in California, and not far from the Johnson Valley area. It can be a nice spot to stretch out your legs and relax before you hit the trails. 

Before you hit the trails, fill your belly with a hearty meal at the Slash X Ranch Café. The Slash X Ranch is known for filling meals and also hosts events and fundraisers for off-roading enthusiasts. Open only on weekends for cold beer and hot food, Slash X is a decades-old family business known for their delicious chili cheese fries.

Johnson Valley is one of the best spots for off-roading in America and is local for much of Southern California. Johnson Valley hosts major off-roading events each year including the “King of the Hammer” competition. At the Johnson Valley community center, you can get maps of the off-roading area, which is very expansive and has welcomed families looking for off-roading adventures for years. You can camp at Johnson Valley, and millions of visitors do each year. Johnson Valley has a variety of terrain, from spots that resemble a rough lunar landscape and are rocky enough to rip metal off your vehicle, to canyons, washes, lakebeds and plenty of trails and offshoots.

After your day in the desert, head to the mountains. Big Bear isn’t far and is pretty easy to find after a day of exploring. Teddy Bear Restaurant is a home-style cash-only spot with a breakfast-all-day menu and a children’s menu. They’re open until 11 p.m. every day of the week. 

Johnson Valley offers plenty of rural campgrounds, but if you want something a little more contemporary, then head up to the Lodge at Big Bear Lake. The rustic cabin set up has all the modern amenities and a prime location right on the edge of town. There’s even a sauna to soothe aching muscles after a long day on the trails.  

]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Best Fishing Spots in California California’s bounty of waterways makes it among the best fishing destinations in the country. From rivers and lakes to the Pacific Ocean, you can catch a variety of fish including bass, salmon, trout, and other varieties. Some of the biggest bass have been reeled in in California. Whether you’re an experience fisherman or just looking to get started, you’ll find plenty of fishing spots to fit your skills. And be sure to have a fishing license, which is required at all fishing spots in the state, to make your catch legal. Here are the best fishing spots in the state. 

Clear Lake State Park has a long history in California as the site of historic Native American and early settlers. Clear Lake is a favorite spot for fishing and other water activities. You can find largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish in the lake and also explore hiking trails if you get tired of spending time on the water. Clear Lake has been named a favorite fishing spot by various publications.

Brannan Island is home to a variety of wildlife including waterfowl, otters, and a diverse array of fish. Fish species include striped bass, sturgeon, catfish, bluegill, perch, and bullhead. You can spend the day fishing or camp out on one of the available campgrounds. If you plan to camp out during the summer, then be sure to make a reservation because it’s a popular spot to camp and fish during the long days of summer.

Santa Monica Bay may seem like an unlikely fishing spot but it has a reputation for being a great spot to enjoy urban fishing. You can fish from select spots on the shore and there are even fishing classes available for beginners or those that want to learn more about fishing. It’s a perfect day spot so that you can lounge on the beach while you fish or rent a boat to take you around the bay and then stay in a swanky hotel in Santa Monica.

Shasta Lake offers fishing year-round, with different varieties filling the lake at different times of the year. You can rent a houseboat and fish day and night or take a small watercraft out on the water to try your luck. Be sure to buy a fishing license and you can rent gear at one of the helpful agencies that can provide you with everything you need to know about fishing in Lake Shasta.

A post shared by Mary Mary (@contrarymary1972) on

Sure, Echo Park Lake is probably familiar from its many appearances in movies and television shows, but did you know that you can also fish in the park? It’s one of Los Angeles’s best-kept secrets but many parks with lakes are stocked by the city’s fish and game department. Whatever isn’t caught is handily devoured by waterfowl. Try your luck in a paddleboat.

A post shared by @usaworldtravelpassion on

]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in California RV camping is a great way to bond with friends and family and enjoy the outdoors. RV camping gets you away from the stress of the everyday and can help you explore new places and meet new people without totally giving up all your creature comforts. Saving money, exploring new regions, and trying new things are all possibilities when you travel in an RV. Along the way, spend some time at some of the best RV campsites in California. 

Livermore Valley Wine Country is just moments away from picturesque De Valle Regional Park in the East Bay area of Northern California. Close to the major cities of San Francisco, it’s also not a far drive to the more famous wine regions of Napa and Sonoma. You’ll find plenty to do inside the park with swimming beaches, boating, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and more activities. There are accommodations for RVs and campers as well as tents. Be sure to make a reservation as the campground is popular with families during the summer months but can also get chilly during the winter. 

Big Basin Redwoods is the oldest state park in California and also home to some of the state’s largest attractions: historic coastal redwood trees. The park is a popular spot to camp so make reservations in plenty of time. During the dry summer months, campfires are not permitted to prevent forest fires, but you can cook in permitted areas. Due to storms, some trails are inaccessible but you can still enjoy the amazing trees, waterfalls, animals, and forest wonders.

Malibu Beach is the only RV park in the area and is close to beach city’s most famous attractions and celebrity hot spots. Campsites are available with both ocean and mountain views. The well-maintained RV park is a favorite with people looking to spend time in the world-renowned region. More expensive than many parks, the showers and bathrooms are said to be worth the higher price—as are the views and close proximity to beaches and events in Malibu.

Pismo Sands is run by a family that loves to RV camp. The award-winning RV park has cottages in addition to parking spots, a pool, paved sites, free but limited Wi-Fi and cable, activities, sports, and other amenities including showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. Just moments from the beach, the grounds are well maintained and it’s easy to see why Pismo Sands is one of California’s favorite RV parks. 

Yosemite Pines is just 30 miles outside of the national park. The campsite offers premium pull-through and back-in sites and can be a good option if you find that campsites inside the park are full. You can choose from a variety of hook-up sites that offer power and water in addition to bathroom and shower facilities, picnic tables, and campfire rings. You can take a shuttle into Yosemite National Park and also take the opportunity to explore the small towns around the area. On-site, there are many activities for families including a playground, sports and games, and a gold mine for kids and even a petting farm.

]]> Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in California Is your idea of camping roughing it and pitching your tent far away from the maddening crowd? Or do you prefer a little closer to civilization and paved roads? Do you like the idea of camp fires and the smell of the changing season but not sure you want to experience all that nature offers and give up the soft life? Whatever your taste in outdoor overnight lodging, these five perfect fall camping spots in California will help you find the ideal setting for your fall adventure! 

Beautiful reflecting lakes in this northern California campground will enhance your autumn adventure and provide excellent photo opportunities. There are several camping sites in the area with half accepting reservations. There’s a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and food storage container at each site, but no RV hookups. A new volcano adventure camp opened and gives kids a chance to learn about the volcanic activity that formed the area. Make sure to use the food storage containers as bears frequent the area and don’t always ask before taking food. 

Park of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest park in the state. Visitors will have the chance to see the kings of the forest, the giant redwood trees that can grow from the size of a tomato seed to a height of nearly 367 feet tall and an average circumference of 22 feet. There are more than 80 hiking and backpacking trails in the park, but check to see if any are closed before heading out on your adventure. Fall is a particularly great time to camp at Big Basin, and is the best time to escape the heat of the summer and accompanying storms. Autumn brings abundant color changes in wildflowers. The four waterfalls are a special delight and may provide opportunities to see some of the animals and birds that live there. Leashed dogs are permitted in the camping area, but not on the trails. Check at the ranger station to see if any fees apply on trails that lead to hiking or rock climbing areas. 

One of 19 national parks and nestled in the southern part of the state, Sequoia National Forest is part of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, and has over one million acres with the world’s largest number of sequoia trees. Over 850 miles of trails and 14 campgrounds in the two national parks found there, the views are unsurpassed for majesty and the raw beauty of nature. From the spring wildflowers to the blankets of snow, fall may be the best time to visit the park with the golden tones and cooler temperatures providing optimal opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and just enjoying nature. There are many recreational activities in the area including horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, and mountain biking as well. Passes or permits may be required, so check in with the local rangers’ station. This is a wilderness area, so use caution when traversing on trails and stay on the established paths. 

If the idea of pitching your tent on the ground and roughing it doesn’t appeal to you, El Capitan Canyon is just the place for you. With 108 comfortable cabins and all the amenities of home that will make you feel warm and cozy, there are 300 acres to roam and explore nature. Located on the Pacific Coast, an unusual perk of camping here is that it’s a great place to catch a wave or two, kayak, or climb a rock. There are beautiful hiking trails for those who want a little more adventure. Imagine spending the day in the sun and surf, then coming back to your cabin to enjoy a brisk fall evening around a cozy fire singing camp songs. There are special camp experience packages available for those who want to enhance their stay, such as s’more and barbecue kits, massage treatments with licensed therapists, and wine tasting events with other campers. 

With over 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas, and 110 miles of hiking trails that include 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrega Desert State Park is many things, but ordinary isn’t one of them. This state park inside the Colorado Desert in southern California gets its name from the bighorn sheep that live there. Many people choose to set up base camp at Borrego Springs and travel to one of the world’s oldest and most diverse areas where you can see badlands, canyons, and mountains. Any season brings a special color, but fall is one of the best times to visit. You’ll see desert plants and flowers not seen elsewhere, birds, reptiles, and other wildlife. This is also a Dark Sky Community, perfect for stargazing. The local Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Associate offers over 150 free programs that will give you more information about the area and enrich your visit. Check with local ranger stations for any applicable fees or passes needed while there. 

]]> Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500