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Holiday Light Extravaganzas in the South Bay

Fantasy of Lights

The holidays are coming fast and furious. While some stores have been decorated for months, last weekend was the official, albeit wet, kickoff for homes and neighborhoods around the Bay Area to flip the switch on their holiday spirit. I went hunting during my weekend trip to in the South Bay and found some standouts.

Top Five San Jose Holiday Happenings

The calendar’s turned to December and the countdown to the holidays is on. If you need a little help getting into that jolly state of mind, take a break from shopping, grab the kids and find your way to San Jose. There’s some holiday happenings going on even Scrooge would be impressed with.

A Family Visit to Danish-Influenced Solvang

downtown Solvang

In the 20-plus years I’ve called California home, I’ve heard Solvang thrown out there more than once, but had never been. My husband has entertaining memories of being dragged.. I mean taken.. antiquing with his parents when he was a kid. So when a family get-together looked to drop us in the center of the Danish tradition-based town, a family-friendly challenge was born.

Jump at a Weekend Getaway in Gold Country

Fall in Calaveras County

First it was gold that got everyone’s attention. Then Mark Twain wrote the “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and all bets were off. Gold Country made its mark on the map and California history. And though the days of striking it rich are over, there’s a mother lode of reasons to plan a weekend escape of your own.

Three Recently Revamped San Francisco Hotels

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

Take a glimpse at the San Francisco skyline and you won't notice anything out of the ordinary. Yet, walk into a few downtown San Francisco hotels and you might notice some stark differences. That's because local hotels have been getting major upgrades. Today, we feature three San Francisco hotels that have recently undergone significant renovations. 

Spend the Night on Alcatraz


It’s no secret that in San Francisco, we have some of the greatest parks at our disposal. Hiking, biking, running, swimming – you name it – we’ve got a place to do it. With so many choices, not knowing about, or even forgetting a good one is bound to happen every now and then. Perfect example? Alcatraz Island.

A Ghost Town Near Sacramento Contains Little Known California History


The Sacramento Delta is the equivalent of a water playground for many Bay Area folks. Water skiing, wakeboarding, fishing… and you can do it all less than two hours from San Francisco. But as the hot summer sun gives way to chilly fall days, staying dry can lead to hidden surprises.

San Francisco Area Hotels That Offer Free WiFi

Downtown San Francisco

This topic of WiFi is a touchy subject in the travel industry. While most bed and breakfasts and budget hotel brands have gotten the memo that travelers want complimentary Internet access, many luxury hotels continue to charge for it, often at a daily rate close to what you may be paying for a month of Internet access at home.

The Mojave Weekend Rock Star Escape

Mojave Desert

Palm Springs may be known for midcentury design, gay pride, and quality-of-life retirement, but a mere 30 miles away is a whole other kind of desert outpost. The High Desert communities bordering the northern end of Joshua Tree National Park, at 2700 feet above sea level, are smaller, cooler, and dustier. Towns like Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms are the last vestiges of civilization before the vast stretch of unpopulated Mojave wilderness to the east.

Hobnob with Artists, Celebrities, and the International Jet Set at Art Basel Miami

For a few days each winter, high-powered art dealers (Larry Gagosian), museum honchos (Jeffrey Deitch, director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art), celebrity collectors (P. Diddy and Catherine Zeta-Jones), Damien Hirst disciples, emerging-art enthusiasts, fans of cutting-edge design, and art-curious scenesters break from their hibernation and flock to sun-baked south Florida for the world-renowned contemporary art show Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB). The 11th annual to-do paints the town, so to speak, Dec. 6–9.

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