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The Shasta Cascades: An Affordable, Non-Tourist-Infested Getaway

Time: 3 hours
What You Get: Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes galore

Get Your Relaxation On In Sierraville

High up in Gold Country, about a half hour from Truckee, lies the little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Sierraville. There’s no grocery store, only one sub-par Mexican joint and another café that’s sometimes open, other times not--and a whole lot of cows.

Escape the Fog and Hide Out at Farmhouse

Summertime, and the living’s foggy. And cold. Or, as one of my SF-born friends likes to say in July, “It’s another beautiful day here in Warsaw.” Raincoats and scarves are fine for work days spent in an office, but the month ahead is the very time of year when the weekend escape becomes crucial to your peace of mind. There is just something primordially wrong with this kind of weather in midsummer, and your middle brain knows it, so before it starts to play all kinds of cruel tricks on you—inexorably forcing you to that fourth margarita, for instance, or urging you into Nordstrom for your third pair of shoes in a week—gas up the car and drive straight up 101 to Forestville.

Full Moon Deals in Monterey

The moon has received no shortage of press in recent weeks. Now, she's even inspiring hotel deals. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, which took place yesterday, the newly opened Hotel Abrego has rolled out a monthly "Moon Over Monterey" special through the end of the year.

Get Your Craft On

More than 200 artists from all nooks and crannies of the country will convene at Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion this weekend for the second annual Renegade Craft Fair to showcase and sell their goods.

Ceramic pottery, linens, clothing, jewelry, homemade bath goods, vintage posters, high-end stationary--the Renegade Craft Fair has it all. There will even be DIY tutorials on tasks like how to fashion old toys into bangles and earrings, and Mozilla Firefox will be on hand to help you create your own custom Web persona.

Plus, there will be a Magnolia Photo Booth on site, and who doesn't love a little posing and picture-taking fun with friends?

Weekend Getaway: The Endless Summer That is Huntington Beach

You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to feel like you've landed there. Huntington Beach—only a little over an hour flight from SFO straight into the ridiculously quaint Long Beach airport (Virgin flies direct)—drops you straight into the OC, which feels about as far away from SF as Siberia. (It’s just that Siberia is farther—and a lot colder.)

Waking Up in Vegas

There was never any time like the present to vacate San Francisco for a weekend and make the hop, skip and jump over to Sin City for sinful deals. With Vegas' tourism down as much as 40 percent in 2009, hotels and airlines are slashing prices left and right. Sexy airline Virgin America offers one-way fares for as little as $69, while you can catch a Southwest flight for just $75. So my question to you is: Why not go to Vegas, and now at that?

Penguin Scandal and Intrigue at the SF Zoo

Some juicy gossip straight from the SF Zoo: same-sex penguin couple, Pepper and Harry, have called it quits. And the reason is Linda, a recently widowed penguin of questionable reputation. Sources close to Linda say she can't be alone.  But we just think she's kind of a slut. And so, apparently, does the zookeeper, David Brown. “To be completely anthropomorphizing, Linda seems conniving," Brown told the Examiner.  "She’s got her plan. I don’t think she was wanting to be a single girl for too long.”  Snap.

Legit Naked Beaches

The SF Bay Guardian just put out its annual Nude Beach Guide, which is highly recommended reading if you're trying to get naked legally in public (or if you're trying to avoid people who are trying to get naked legally in public).  In terms of nude-friendliness, they gave all the beaches in SF County an "A," except for Fort Funston Beach, which was demoted to a "C" because of "dogs" and "gliders." Also noteworthy are the legal statuses of each of these beaches.  Basically, they're pretty much all legit naked spots "as long as no one complains and you don't touch anyone." Check it out.

Four Grab-Your-Stuff-And-Go Day Trips

Summer's in full-swing and everyone's abuzz with their fabulous vacation plans. Have you failed on that organizational front?  Are you murderously jealous of everyone's fabulous vacation plans? Don't be. There are tons of quick grab-your-stuff-and-go day escapes within an hour of the city.  Here are four we love.

Half Moon Bay

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