Tag Archives: attractions

Countdown to Hollywood’s Biggest New Year’s Party

Universal Studios Hollywood rings in 2018 with Hollywood’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration, EVE, on Sunday, December 31, 2017, with extended theme park hours to 1:00 a.m.

The New Year’s Eve event, the first ever for Universal Studios Hollywood, is included in the price of theme park admission and invites guests to spend the day and night enjoying its many popular rides and attractions with a special park-wide countdown party featuring multiple entertainment hubs with DJs and live music, starting at 9:00 p.m.

Universal Plaza, Simpsons Plaza located adjacent to “The Simpsons Ride” and an area near “Jurassic Park—The Ride” will transform into three uniquely-themed electrifying party hubs that will culminate simultaneously at midnight with a traditional New Year countdown and a spectacular fireworks display.


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Food and beverages, including specialty desserts, champagne, beer and wine, as well as 2018 memorabilia will be available for purchase.

With its festive environment, guests can toast the New Year with the spirit of the holidays already resonating throughout Universal Studios Hollywood. “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM” introduces “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts TM Castle.” Several times each night, guests can enjoy amazing images inspires by the Harry Potter films as they come to life in breathtaking digital light projection on the backdrop of Hogwarts castle. And with extended hours on December 31, guests can celebrate the final day of “Grinchmas™” with The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Who-ville Whos.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.


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Explore The Wild Side Of Winter In Monterey County

While much of the country slumbers beneath blankets of winter snow, sunny Monterey County is awake and alive with winter wildlife. Whether it’s the delicate, migratory monarchs, the gentle giants of the sea or abundant birdlife, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau invites visitors to come and explore the incredible biodiversity of our coastal region.

WINTER MONARCH MECCA
Witness fluttering clouds of orange and black descend upon charming Pacific Grove, also known as Butterfly Town, U.S.A. California’s central coast is the only place in America where monarch butterflies migrate to in the winter. They begin arriving in October and stay through February, creating spectacular effects as they flit and float through the air and hang in clusters from eucalyptus, pine and cypress trees in Pacific Grove’s Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary. Because monarch butterflies have a lifespan of less than one year, their migration remains a mystery. They arrive each year, never having been to this destination before. Visit in the early afternoon, the warmest time of day, to see these delightful creatures when they’re most active.

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Pixar Fest Opens at Disneyland Resort in April 2018

Pixar Fest, the biggest Pixar celebration ever to come to Disney Parks, brings guests together to celebrate friendship and beyond beginning April 13, 2018, at the Disneyland Resort.

During this limited time event, some of the beloved stories from Pixar Animation Studios will come to life in new ways at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks, with characters and experiences from films such as Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up.” Guests will join the fun as they experience a new fireworks spectacular, the return of two favorite parades with fresh new Pixar surprises, new décor, atmosphere entertainment, creatively themed food and beverage and exclusive event merchandise.

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WinterFest At California’s Great America Opens November 24

The Bay Area’s newest and most immersive holiday tradition, WinterFest, opens at California’s Great America on Friday, November 24 and will entertain guests on select dates through December 30. During WinterFest, Great America will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland where guests can experience unique new features, as well as fan favorites such as skating in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admiring magnificent displays of lights and décor, viewing spectacular live holiday shows, experiencing 25 rides and attractions, seeing Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and enjoying scrumptious holiday fare at numerous dining locations.

This unmatched event will feature more than 7 million LED lights, creating such a vibrant experience that it will be visible from the International Space Station, more than 270 miles away. The winter scene will be dominated by one of the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas trees adorned with thousands of twinkling lights accompanied by giant toy soldiers greeting guests. The six-week WinterFest celebration will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with daily operations December 19-23 and 26-30 from 5pm-10pm (November 26 and December 17 from 6:30pm-10:30pm)

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The Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017

Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site, has just named the Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017 – naming the best parks in the U.S., and sharing the year’s newest attractions and highlights for every age group.

“Amusement parks are one of the most quintessential summertime activities for families,” explains Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. “But for those traveling with family members of various ages – including kids-at-heart – finding a park that caters to thrill-seekers and the younger set isn’t always so easy. This list includes parks that successfully cater to both, and those that also have exciting new features for the 2017 season.”

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Celebrate This Summer Along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route

Celebrate a healthy and vibrant lifestyle at music, food, wine, and outdoor events this summer along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route. Featuring 10 artisan towns within 101 miles of famous Highway 1 in Coastal San Luis Obispo County, the Highway 1 Discovery Route offers everything you need to have a memorable summer vacation especially if you like community events, spectacular sunsets or just plain relaxing. We are happy to report the Big Sur mudslide did not affect this breathtaking stretch of Highway 1 and we are open for business all along Highway 1 from Ragged Point and San Simeon to Oceano and Nipomo.

While you’re thinking about events along the Central Coast, don’t forget about the annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration that takes place during the winter months and the on-going Stewardship Activities offered all year long where you can make a difference while on vacation. Whatever it is you’re looking for, we think you’ll find plenty of it along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, especially this summer. Here’s a sample:

Arroyo Grande Valley:

Ragged Point

Edna Valley:

Avila Beach:

Los Osos/Baywood Park:

Cambria:

Cayucos:

Nipomo:

Oceano:

Arroyo Grande Valley:

 


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Road Trip: The Best of California’s Highway 1

Find nearly 2,000 acres of vineyards in Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande wine regions located on the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, along with old historic California townsites, outdoor adventure, and well, great wine! Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys offer the perfect growing climate for delicate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – warm sunny days that turn into cool coastal nights. Weather that is also perfect for wine tasting adventures and outdoor play!

Edna Valley where cool ocean breezes and rich soil create ideal conditions for growing world-class grapes is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) located just a dozen miles from Arroyo Grande Valley in San Luis Obispo County. Surrounded by Tuscan-style countryside, guests can sample award-winning wines in more than 27 tasting rooms and attend annual wine tasting events like the Chardonnay Symposium and Harvest on the Coast.


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Take a tour of the historic Old Edna Townsite as part of the Highway 1 Discovery Route Stewardship Travel Program. Founded in the 1840s, Old Edna was once a bustling center for farming and ranching families and today is host to a wine tasting room and gourmet deli nestled within 100 year-old historic buildings. Get inspired for your visit by watching this video.

The Arroyo Grande Valley is the perfect climate to take long bike rides and enjoy wine tasting among rolling hills. Just a short distance away is the Village of Arroyo Grande full of shopping, great places to eat, and CA’s only swinging bridge.


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The Lopez Lake Recreation Area is minutes from the tasting rooms of this region and offers a watery playground with 22 miles of shoreline ideal for boating, fishing, sailing, hiking and mountain biking. This episode of On the Road with Jo highlights the region and will inspire you to visit the magnificent Arroyo Grande Valley.

Click HERE for information on all the must-see spots and must-do activities in Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley and be sure to check the Arroyo Grande Valley Visitor Guide and Edna Valley Visitor Guide.


On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are mobile-friendly! Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!

It’s the Summer of Love – Redux! June 10 – 18 San Mateo County Fair

50 years ago, the “Summer of Love” hit the Bay Area. A half century later, San Mateo is still feeling groovy with one of the largest and most family-friendly events on the West Coast, The San Mateo County Fair (www.sanmateocountyfair.com). Over nine days of diverse entertainment, June 10 – 18, “Tradition Meets Innovation” in the uniquely California experience that matches the enthusiastic diversity of the region. Now through June 1, Pre-Sale Discounted All-Season-Passes are available online: $22 adult; $ 18 junior and senior. The purchase a season pass includes all nine days of the Fair and all concerts, exhibits and attractions.

“We were hip before there were hippies,” quipped Dana Stoehr, CEO of the San Mateo County Events Center and Fair, “Every year is the summer of love at the San Mateo County Fair and there’s something to love for everyone. Whether you’re looking for traditional food, fun and entertainment, or the hottest musical acts around, we’ve got a little something for everyone, and every generation.”

As always, the San Mateo County Fair delivers a rocking week of musical quality and diversity: War (June 10); Summer of Love – Live! (June 11); The Family Stone & the Oakland Symphony (June 12); Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular (June 13); Tower of Power (June 14 & 15); The Ohio Players (June 16); Smash Mouth (June 17); and, of course, the traditional closing-out-of-the Fair Latin Music focused Día De La Feria (June 18).

However, it’s not only celebrity musicians who will come out to shine at the San Mateo County Fair.


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“Have you ever dreamed of performing live on stage? This 2017 Fair could be your big break and a great way to get involved in your community,” notes Kaitlyn Bailey-Findley, whose efforts last year socializing the Fair led to a marked increase in attention from young fairgoers. “Join our community stage and become a local celebrity. All singers, musicians, dancers, or performing arts enthusiasts are encouraged to register online to participate. And once you’re onstage, use that hashtag to build your personal fan base: #SMCF2017.”

In addition to the previously mentioned Free Concerts, there will be plenty — traditional and innovative — about which to tweet, including but not limited to the following:

  • New this year is the Rainforest Exhibit in Sequoia Hall recreating a tropical paradise to walk through and at which to marvel. The Rainforest Adventure exhibit will feature mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates totaling more than 35 species including a spider monkey, sloth, binturong, forest hawk, pythons, huge tarantulas, and exotic frogs. Exhibit will also have two shows daily.
  • Returning favorites include Butterfly Adventures, where kids can feed butterflies, Captain Jack Spareribs, a fun filled pirate adventure, and of course, Dennis Forel at the Voice of the Fair.
    Fair Food – Alligator on a Stick, Fried Kool Aid, and The Healthy Food Fare – Our Healthy Food Fare initiative is back with healthy choices being provided by many Fair vendors. But don’t worry: your Fair favorites will still be available from barbeque to funnel cake.
  • Science, Technology, DIY Science Exhibits are back – Young people get hands on experience with innovative new concepts and devices such as 3-D printers. See how much fun a Do-It-Yourself environment can be for kids! In addition, livestock shows, painting, fine art, literary arts, cooking and healthy eating are just part of the fun.
  • Free Grounds Acts – Fairgoers will see traditional pony rides, costumed “Hippy and Summer of Love” characters strolling throughout the grounds, and much more. After a popular debut last year, hypnotist Kellie Karl-Hypnotist returns joined by Celebrity Chef David George Gordon, the Great American Petting Zoo and AgVenture, San Francisco street performers and The Great American Pig Race.
  • Carnival Rides including The Freak Out is Back! The Fair introduced this new carnival ride in 2014. It flies passengers 40 feet into the air. The Freak Out joins Fair favorites like the Ferris Wheel, Zillerator and roller coasters

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The San Mateo County Fair — “Where Tradition Meets Innovation” — is The Peninsula’s premier, community event for family fun and entertainment: June 10 – 18, 2017. Visit sanmateocountyfair.com often for regular updates, contest rules, schedules, promotions, and information.


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Big Sur Village Welcomes Visitors

As you cruise down Highway One from California’s Monterey Peninsula, you can’t help but feel the excitement building up inside you. Those photos you have seen of the magnificent beauty of Big Sur are suddenly coming to life, appearing even better in person. The dramatic Santa Lucia Mountains to the left are sprinkled with yellow, white and magenta wildflowers. To the right, powerful waves crash onto the rocky coastline as cows graze with their calves in the lush green pasture. It truly is what poet Robinson Jeffers has described as the “greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”

“From hiking along the breathtaking coast and wildflowers at Garrapata State Park to driving across the iconic Bixby Bridge to staying in a cabin amongst the giant redwood trees, Big Sur is such a special place where visitors can unplug, relax and enjoy nature’s magnificent handiwork,” says Tammy Blount, President and CEO of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB).

Despite a challenging winter that has temporarily taken a Highway One bridge out of service, the Big Sur experience is still available and as incredible as ever. Visitors are able to access Big Sur and the coastline all the way down Highway One to Big Sur Ranger Station. Iconic attractions, hotels, restaurants and shops north of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge closure including Big Sur Village are open.

“The community is delighted to welcome people back and share the place we love and call home,” says Rick Aldinger, General Manager of the Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant. “Our doors are open, and we invite visitors to travel down the 26 miles of beautiful coastline from the Monterey Peninsula and experience Big Sur.”


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Visitors are invited to come and walk amongst the giant calla lilies at Garrapata, dip their toes in the Big Sur River while enjoying a cold beverage and sleep under the stars in an adventure tent. To help travelers plan their Big Sur escape, the MCCVB offers ideas on places to visit and stay in beautiful Big Sur:

  • Bixby Bridge: Bixby Bridge is one of the most iconic spots on Highway One. The bridge has made appearances on television shows such as the most recent HBO series “Big Little Lies” as well as on the big screen. Visitors can park in the pullout area and snap photos of the world famous Bixby Bridge and awe-inspiring landscape.
  • Garrapata State Park: From spring through early summer, the picturesque coastline of Garrapata State Park comes alive with colorful blooms of wildflowers. Explore the western coastal trail that can be accessed at gates 18 or 19 off of Highway One to Doud Creek where you will find yourself immersed in a canyon of calla lilies.
  • Point Sur Lightstation: The Point Sur Lightstation is a California State Historic Park on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse sits on a volcanic rock 361 feet above the Pacific Ocean, and the light has stayed in continuous operation since it opened 1889. Walking tours are available on Wednesdays and weekends.
  • Glen Oaks Big Sur: Rustic and elegant, Glen Oaks Big Sur offers guests a cozy and comfortable retreat in the redwoods and along the Big Sur River. Visitors can stay in a Fireside Lodge, the Oak Tree Cottage or a cabin in the Redwood Grove. The dreamy Big Sur Cabin has two fire pits plus a pair of outdoor clawfoot soaking tubs.
  • Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant: The historic Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant has been a staple in the heart of Big Sur Village since 1932. Surrounded by the towering redwoods and along the Big Sur River, the inn provides the perfect escape and opportunity to unwind along the river while listening to the peaceful sounds of nature.
  • Big Sur Lodge: Nestled deep in the redwood forest of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur Lodge has long been a haven for writers, artists, seekers of beauty and travelers in search of the peace and majesty that the ancient redwoods bestow on the body and soul. Guests can enjoy a cozy stay here in one of the 62 cottage-style rooms.
  • Fernwood Resort: From the forest and meadow view cabins to camping near the Big Sur River, Fernwood Resort is a privately owned facility and campground located in Big Sur Village. For those who want to be close to nature while still sleeping in a warm bed, the property also offers glamping in the Adventure Tents.
  • Ripplewood Resort: One of Big Sur’s oldest resorts and a favorite among families, Ripplewood Resort features 17 rustic cabins, a general store and café. Some of the cabins have private decks that are perched over the Big Sur River, so you can be lulled to sleep by the tranquil sounds of the flowing water.
  • The Village Shops: For many artists, Big Sur is not only a haven, but also a source of inspiration. Next door to the Big Sur River Inn is The Village Shops where visitors can purchase locally made art and gifts at Local Color, visit Dale Diesel’s Darn Glad to be Here Gallery and grab a drink and bite at the Maiden Publick House. There is also Studio One, which serves as a painting studio, gallery and workshop center.

There are additional tent and RV camping sites as well as cottage and cabin options along the river at Big Sur Campground & Cabins and Riverside Campground & Cabins. The winter rains have also affected a temporary closing of some state parks in Big Sur, but they are currently being repaired and are expected to open in the coming weeks. This spring, the MCCVB invites travelers to experience firsthand what Jeffers and other literary figures and artists have captured – the magic and beauty of Big Sur. For more information, please visit SeeMonterey.com.


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New Patriot Floorless Coaster To Open at California’s Great America Saturday, April 1

California’s Great America opens its 2017 season on March 25 and will introduce an array of new attractions, entertainment and dining experiences. Patriot, the first floorless coaster in the park’s history, will make its official park debut on Saturday, April 1.

Patriot will take riders to a nine-story height before plummeting them into a 360-degree loop and a series of hairpin turns. The floorless ride will include state-of-the-art blue and white floorless trains positioning guests with their feet dangling inches above the track.

To celebrate Patriot, all current and past military service members will be provided free admission from March 25-May 29 (with valid ID), along with special $30 tickets for up to 6 guests (available at the Front Gate).

“Patriot will be an outstanding addition to our family of roller coasters,” said California’s Great America Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg. “We’re honored to provide active and past military service members free admission through Memorial Day weekend. They do so much for our country, and we’re happy to provide them fun family entertainment.”

One of the most notable changes for 2017 comes at the iconic Maggie Brown’s restaurant. Renamed Maggie’s Smokehouse & Fried Chicken, in addition to the legendary fried chicken, the restaurant will also delight guests with smoked tri tip, pulled pork and rotisserie chicken. Seasonally, Maggie’s will also serve beef and pork ribs in the completely refurbished interior.

Food Festival will also feature new dining options, including crab sandwiches and lobster rolls for seafood lovers, burritos and tacos, clam chowder bread bowls and highly popular Boba tea drinks.

Season Passholders can take advantage of the All Season Dining Plan that, for as low as $84, provides two meals per visit (4 hour interval between meals) and pays for itself in just three visits. This year the on property Panda Express and Subway are included in the plan.

The brand new Red, White & Brews festival will debut Memorial Day weekend and run five total days (May 27-29, June 3-4). Red, White & Brews will be located in Hometown Square, adjacent to Patriot, and features locally crafted beers, great barbeque and live music, all wrapped in a fun family atmosphere. The Taste of Orleans festival with Cajun cuisine, bayou music, themed fireworks and Mardi Gras atmosphere returns for two weekends (July 22-23, 29-30).

Other seasonal entertainment events include Opening Day (March 25), Fiesta Hispana (Aug. 13), The Great Pumpkin Fest (weekends Sept. 30-Oct. 29), Halloween Haunt (Friday-Sunday, Sept. 22-Oct. 29) and WinterFest (select nights Nov. 24-Dec. 29). Halloween Haunt will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and the highly decorated WinterFest will be back for a second season of holiday fun beginning November 24.

New live entertainment in 2017 features Vertical Impact in Great America Theater, a high-flying acrobatic display with trampoline artists and amazing choreography, along with The Great American Game Show in Theatre Royale.

Also new in 2017 is FunPix, the ultimate way to capture and share unlimited Great America digital photos on social media. FunPix is available for as low as $19.99 for a day-long pass or $39.99 for a season-long package. With FunPix, guests can digitally capture their favorite memories, whether it’s the classic family shot in front of the carousel, thrilling on-ride moments aboard Great America’s roller coasters or fun character shots with Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Great America will open daily beginning May 25, and Boomerang Bay water park will open daily beginning May 27.

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On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are mobile-friendly! Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!