Category Archives: City Guides

Sacramento, California

Sacramento is not only the capital of the largest state in the Union, it is also a unique historical and cultural center. Sacramento’s history rested on a few pioneers and Indians for until gold was found nearby in the 1840’s. Within weeks, Sacramento and the entire area became the busiest and most bustling part of the entire nation as thousands came west to strike it rich in the great Gold Rush.

Sacramento has done a great deal to preserve the relics of that time.
This city has a pioneer feel, particularly in some of the museums and in its capitol building. Of special note, the old Sutter’s Mill and Fort have been preserved and rebuilt. It’s a fascinating place to visit, full of history and excitement of the Gold Rush years. Other museums and attractions allow visitors to participate in the Gold Rush culture, panning for gold in the river or seeing how the early forty-niners lived.

Children’s attractions abound in Sacramento, making it a wonderful destination for families. The Discovery Museum is a hands-on replica of Sacramento as it was in 1854. The state Indian Museum has a great deal to teach children about Sacramento’s earliest residents. Of course, children love the old Gold Rush exhibits and the stories they have to tell.

Sacramento is the capital of a state with 33 million residents, but it has retained an independent air. From Indian land to Gold Rush to the present, Sacramento has seen a wealth of changes, yet it has remained a beautiful destination celebrated for its wonderful scenery and blooming flowers. Sacramento is often overlooked during visits to California, but surely it would be a mistake to miss visiting such a historic and friendly city.

Portland, Oregon

Once known as America’s best kept secret, Portland is now one of the country’s hottest travel destinations. Money magazine recently ranked Portland #2 among Big Cities in which to live in the U.S., and its unique and thriving festivals, outdoors and dining scenes keep it consistently among the travel hotspots. Portland has the personality of a small community and the activities and vitality of a large city.

With moderate temperatures and varied and beautiful terrain, Portland is the quintessential outdoor city. The magnificent waterways overlook the Mount Hood glacier, a backdrop that sets the scene for a spectacular visit at any time of year. Forest Park offers 40 miles of wilderness trails, streams and woods within the city limits. Hiking, biking and exploring opportunities are always close at hand. Smith and Bybee Lakes display stunning wildlife and have great flatwater paddling in America’s largest protected wetland within a city. Just a short drive away, is magnificent Multnomah Falls, the nation’s second-highest year-round waterfall. For a mellower outdoors experience, visit one of the city’s stunning gardens: the Leach Botanical, Classical Chinese, Japanese, or Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens.

Chances are good that the city will be bustling with a festival when you arrive. Favorites include the Rose Festival in June, and The Bite of Oregon food and music fete in August.
The always popular Oregon Brewers Festival in July can be combined with a tour and sampling at one of the many excellent, local microbreweries. Tours of local vineyards and distilleries provide further tastings of family- produced, distinctive wines and brandies prepared by using the finest fruit and centuries-old methods.

Whether you travel around Portland by train, bike or on foot, a clear and unobstructed view is guaranteed. Building height restrictions prevent the beauty and majesty of Mount Hood from ever being blocked. Speaking of Mount Hood, with four ski resorts and North America’s longest ski season (including 90 summer days), this 11,235-foot peak is a mecca for skiers, ice climbers, snowboarders and hikers. The surrounding wilderness boasts spectacular trails for snowshoeing as well as cross-country skiing. All of this is just an hour’s drive from Portland’s city center. Long recognized as a fisherman’s haven, the Pacific Northwest is rich with steelhead, trout and sturgeon.

Portland’s history unfolds and the past comes alive as the carefully preserved landmark attractions are visited. Pittock Mansion reveals the day to day activities of the original Portlanders.

The Portland Art Museum showcases impressive touring exhibitions and permanent collections of American, European, Asian, Native American and contemporary art. View area history from an environmental point of view at the Hoyt Arboretum, where trees and plants are protected and nourished for the enjoyment of future generations. For families, there is also the Portland Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

For a change of pace, be sure to visit the numerous gourmet coffee shops, Powell’s City of Books with more than a million volumes, the Brew ‘N View Movie Theaters where comfortable couches, pizza, and beer accompany the movies, the local gardens and galleries: all of which made Portland famous.

Finally, don’t leave Portland without sampling some fine local fare. The region’s renowned seafood, berries, pears, cherries, hazelnuts, wild game and vegetables of all kinds inspired noted chef and Portland native, James Beard. This in turn laid the foundation for his lifelong dedication to fine cooking, simple menus and fresh ingredients. The tradition continues, and Portland is known for its superb cuisine and exceptional dining.

Culture and art; the Trailblazers and the Hawks; Mount Hood with its tempting menu of year round outdoor activities; fine wines, beers, and restaurants; farmers markets and excellent shopping: these are just a few of the many reasons to visit and enjoy Portland, Oregon.

San Diego, California

From its world-famous zoo and aquarium to its bountiful beaches, San Diego’s vibrant and exciting lifestyle has plenty to offer visitors and their whole families. It’s the kind of city where every day is a beach day, and where everyone is busy having as much fun as possible. A relaxed atmosphere pervades the city, probably one of the reasons that draw more than 30 million visitors a year to San Diego. Given the beautiful weather and outdoor activities abound, San Diego is probably one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in America. Families walk, skate, and bike their way to over 70 miles of beaches or any one of San Diego’s numerous attractions.

San Diego’s natural beauty is one of the city’s greatest attractions. An officially designated 52-mile long Scenic Drive brings visitors through the city and its many neighborhoods. From the Harbor Islands through Old Town and Balboa Park all the way to La Jolla, the Scenic Drive is a great way to see all of the city’s beautiful districts and neighborhoods.

Balboa Park itself is the 1,200 acre home to the world-famous Zoo and museums. This park is the cultural center of the city. The Rose Garden has more than 2,000 rosebushes, and the entire park is really one giant botanical garden full of beautiful flowers and trees. The Zoo, one of the best in the world, holds nearly 4,000 animals representing more than 800 species. The animal habitats are designed to replicate each animal’s original ecosystem as closely as possible, down to the type of grass used. Birds, gorillas, tigers, bears, hippos and other animals have helped make this one of the most admired zoos in the world. In addition to the zoo, Balboa Park is home to over a dozen museums dedicated to history, science, art, cars, railroads, mankind, and of course, San Diego itself.

Visitors who want to spend as much time as possible near the glittering Pacific Ocean will love the Mission Bay area and its greatest attraction: Sea World. The Mission Bay aquatic park covers 4,600 acres, and includes 27 miles of bay shore beaches and 17 miles of ocean front beaches. Admission to the beaches is free, and swimming, sunning, and windsurfing are the preferred activities. Playgrounds and picnic spots are found throughout the park, but the best place for kids has to be Sea World. Covering over 100 bay-front acres, this park features the world famous killer whale Shamu, as well as hundreds of other water animals, like penguins, fish, and sharks. Sea World is one of the most famous aquatic parks in the world, and kids and adults alike will love it.

San Diego has it all: sunny weather, great beaches, wonderful museums, zoos, and aquariums, and history too. Old Town is the historical heart of San Diego, and a great place to finish up a visit to the city. The Spanish and Mexican heritage of the city is celebrated here, amidst the famous Presidio fortress, the historical park, and the adobe houses with Spanish tile roofs. San Diego has evolved immeasurably since those early days as a Spanish settlement on the Pacific, and that evolution has produced one of the most beautiful and happy cities in the world. Visitors to San Diego are always sorry to leave behind what residents know is heaven on earth.