Tag Archives: destinations

Oregon Designates Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway in John Day River Territory

Oregon’s newest Scenic Bikeway traverses the strikingly scenic high desert canyon of north central Oregon, known as the River Canyon Country. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission formally approved the designation of the Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway during its June 14 meeting in Salem, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and Travel Oregon announced today.

This 33-mile loop winds along the Deschutes River en route to the Bikeway’s namesake, Sherar’s Falls, where the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs fish for salmon, as they have for thousands of years: from wooden scaffolds using traditional dipnets and setnets. Riders will follow a section of the White River and pass White River Falls State Park, one of Oregon’s secret hideaways, where a short walk leads to views of the river’s 90-foot plunge over a basalt shelf.

The small, vibrant town of Maupin, located on the banks of the Deschutes River, serves as the Bikeway’s start and finish. Maupin offers all the ideal pre- and post-ride amenities: a walkable downtown, friendly locals, restaurants, lodging and camping.

This ride is best enjoyed in spring and fall, and even on some winter days. In springtime, wildflowers dot the hillsides, including lupine’s purple sprays and arrowleaf balsamroot’s pops of yellow. Come winter, central Oregon can be a dry, temperate reprieve while the rest of the state shelters from rain and snow. Tucked in the protective rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, the region boasts 300 days of sunshine and less than six inches of rain per year.

The Oregon Scenic Bikeway program is a superb collection of cycling routes designed to inspire people to experience Oregon’s natural beauty and cultural heritage by bicycle, bringing economic and social benefits to the communities and residents along the routes.

Local bicyclists propose new bikeways and the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission designates routes based on scenic quality, road conditions and general riding enjoyment. Only the best routes meet the selective criteria developed by the State Scenic Bikeway Committee.

Once designated, OPRD pays to install directional signs along the route. OPRD and Travel Oregon post information online at RideOregonRide.com/SherarsFalls for riders to plan their trip, including printable ride maps, elevation profiles, gps data, services and points of interest including, Travel Oregon’s Bike Friendly Businesses recognition program.

The Oregon Scenic Bikeways program is the first and only of its kind in the United States. Launched in 2005, the program is a partnership between Cycle Oregon, Travel Oregon, Oregon Department of Transportation and OPRD.

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!

5 Essential Tips for Memorial Day Weekend Road Warriors

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and that means the unofficial start to summer! As Americans prepare for long-weekend getaways, trips to the beach and family picnics, they’ll also be faced with what’s predicted to be one of the busiest Memorial Day Weekends on record. Relatively low gas prices means the roads will be extra crowded.

Here’s our top 5 essential tips to consider if you’re planning a Memorial Day weekend road trip…

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!

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.”

Book Now! Find Your Perfect Hotel Room Near Big Sur!

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.

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!

Seattle’s Museum Month is a Bargain for I-5 Culture Seekers

The Emerald City has long been praised as an artsy and laid-back destination with abundant natural beauty. Some I-5 travelers may be kept at bay during winter – a side effect of the typical Pacific Northwest weather – but the off-season may actually be the hottest time of year to explore Seattle. In 2015, Visit Seattle and Seattle’s hotels and museums decided it was high time to embrace Seattle’s winter weather, so to speak, so Museum Month was born.

With February quickly approaching, it’s time to check seattlemuseummonth.com for a list of participating hotels and book a visit. With downtown Seattle accommodations lined up, pick some museums and attractions that everyone in your party can enjoy. If you don’t know where to start, here are just a few ways to stay and play.

For the epicurean:
Seattle is a foodie town. Get a taste of Seattle’s favorite foods and culinary history at Edible City: A Delicious Journey at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI). This immersive exhibit explores Seattle’s place in the culinary industry, featuring the harvest of local natural ingredients, preparation techniques made popular by the region’s celebrity chefs, and the art of pulling ingredients together for the final plated presentation.

For the artist:
Chihuly Garden and Glass celebrates its fifth year at Seattle Center and this year will feature more glass art education programming. Watch live glass-blowing demonstrations at the Community Hot Shop in the Glass Garden to see how these unique, colorful pieces come to life.

For a longer day trip, drive east to the Bellevue Art Museum, south to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, or take a ferry over to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

For the outdoorsy:
If you dream in landscape scenes, drop by the Seattle Art Museum for Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, on display beginning Feb. 16. The collection features 39 historically significant American and European landscape paintings from the past 400 years. The Seattle Art Museum also presents John Grade’s Middle Fork, a new installment of a reclaimed cedar sculpture to span the museum’s main entrance.

For some fresh air between museums, bundle up and take a walk through Volunteer Park and Olympic Sculpture Park. Bring along your camera and capture striking photos of Seattle’s scenery, featuring unobstructed views of The Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay.

For the culture seeker:
Formerly known as the EMP, the renamed and rebranded Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) at the Seattle Center is a goldmine for music paraphernalia – from classic rock to contemporary – as well as a hub for science fiction and pop culture enthusiasts. Through Museum Month, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds will be on display at MoPOP commemorating the famous sci-fi series’ 50th anniversary.

Dive into the Emerald City’s cultural diversity with a visit to the Tabaimo: Utsutsushi Utsushi exhibit at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Day in the Life of Bruce Lee: Do You Know Bruce: Part 3 at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, or Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts at the Northwest African American Museum. Cultural and historical exhibits can also be viewed at the Nordic Heritage Museum, Suquamish Tribal Museum, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and the Burke Museum.

For families:
Appreciate the circle of life by visiting the animals at Woodland Park Zoo. One adorable highlight this season is Yola, the baby gorilla. See Yola and a family of western lowland gorillas: mom Nadiri, silverback Leo and playmate Akenji. If the weather is damp, don’t miss the Zoomazium Indoor Nature Play Space, where kids can stretch out and play like their favorite zoo animals.

While many museums have a “do not touch” reputation, the Seattle Aquarium encourages hands-on interaction with sea life at the tide pools exhibit. Gently touch sea cucumbers, sea urchin, seastars and more. During Octopus Week – starring the giant Pacific octopus Feb. 18-26 – each day will feature hands-on activities, octopus feedings and talks.

For more hands-on action, drop by the Kids Discovery Museum for Messy Mondays. Docents help visitors explore visual arts through guided discovery every week.

For science and technology enthusiasts:
As one of the nation’s innovation hubs, many of Seattle’s exhibits reflect the history and progress of science and technology. Over 175 aircraft and spacecraft structures, as well as thousands of photographs and artifacts are displayed at the Museum of Flight, the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world.

Explore the elements of aviation at the Flying Heritage Collection – one of Museum Month’s new participants – or geek out over cars at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum and other curiosities at Living Computers: Museums + Labs.

Patrons must stay in one of the participating hotels to access Seattle Museum Month offers. For qualifying visitors, the discount will apply to all days participating museums are open in February, subject only to capacity. Some separate, specially ticketed exhibitions, programs and events at various participating museums are not included in Seattle Museum Month.

Guests must present an official Seattle Museum Month guest pass at participating museums to redeem the discounts; these discounts will be valid for all guests staying in the hotel room (not to exceed four people) during hotel stay dates.

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!

Knott’s Berry Farm Expands With New Rides, Attractions for 2017

There’s farm fresh fun for everyone coming to Knott’s Berry Farm in 2017 with a brand new thrill ride, an extended Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, the exciting return of Ghost Town Alive! next summer, and the expansion of Knott’s Soak City Waterpark.

Sol Spin will bring brand new hair-raising thrills to the Fiesta Village area of Knott’s Berry Farm next season. The new ride will send brave guests on a thrilling topsy-turvy adventure over 6 stories high as they rotate in all directions on one of six spinning arms. Sol Spin will be the newest addition to the theme park’s world-class line up of more than 40 rides and attractions when it opens in spring 2017.

But that’s not all! Knott’s Berry Farm is also expanding the park’s Seasons of Fun. For the first time ever, the mouthwatering Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, exclusively dedicated to celebrating Knott’s delicious roots, will be expanded to 23 days. Celebrate the historic berry with countless one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes, drinks and more, plus limited-time live entertainment the whole family will love!

Also, coming to Knott’s Berry Farm next summer, is the all new Boardwalk Barbecue restaurant located in the Boardwalk area of the park near Xcelerator. This new fast-casual dining location will offer various BBQ favorites including smoked pork ribs, tri-tip and rotisserie chicken along with a selection of sandwiches and side dishes. Boardwalk Barbecue will also be featuring a selection of local and well known craft beers. The restaurant will include a new covered seating area with a stage for live entertainment. The location will replace the existing Boardwalk Barbecue restaurant. Construction is set to begin this year.

Next year’s new enhancements also include an extensive expansion, renovations and new additions in store for Knott’s Soak City Waterpark, which were announced earlier this summer. Orange County’s largest water park will debut two water slide towers offering exhilarating attractions geared for families and thrill seekers. Shore Break will tower over seven stories and offer six different thrilling water slide experiences. Four of the slides on the tower will feature an Aqua-Launch chamber which will innovatively launch guests as the floor under their feet drops them into an almost vertical free fall through a series of flat loops and S-curves in a translucent flume. Shore Break will also feature dueling tube slides that will zip riders through an enchanting series of drops and turns. The height requirements for Shore Break slides are 48 inches. The Wedge slide tower will take the location of the current Pacific Spin and will be an open air family raft ride. Up to six guests at a time will descend down navigating twists and turns and unexpected drops.. Knott’s Berry Farm expansion project will also include updated shaded seating areas, cabanas and a remodeled Longboards’ Grill. Guests will be able to experience both water slide towers when Knott’s Soak City Waterpark opens for the summer season in May 2017.

Plan Your Next Trip. Book Your Perfect Room Near Knotrt’s Berry Farm Now!

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!


Top Hot Spots in Downtown Redding, California

Surrounded by mountains, hiking and biking trails, and national parks, and born out of the historic Gold Rush era, Redding is the epicenter of an outdoor paradise for young and old alike. This slice of paradise set at the northern end of the Sacramento River Valley also has a vibrant and friendly downtown center.

“Redding, the hub city of Shasta Cascade, is centrally located in the heart of Northern California’s great outdoors, but what many visitors find surprising is our exciting downtown,” explains Kallie Markle, Communications Coordinator at Visit Redding. “Redding is the largest California city north of Sacramento, so visitors enjoy a food scene featuring new and historic restaurants, wine bars, breweries, exceptional entertainment venues, cozy hotels and unique shops.”

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Downtown Hot Spots for Dining and Imbibing
In Redding, visitors are invited to dine like they mean it. Jack’s, a local hot spot for over 75 years, takes you back in time to enjoy a delicious meal of classic big steaks and perfect martinis. If you are looking for something more on trend, The Dip is one of the newest kids on the downtown Redding blog. Craft cocktails and an impressive craft beer bar are paired with live music, trivia, BINGO, and other fun nightly events. The Squire Room, a reinvention of a Redding classic, is a tasteful throwback to the 1960s, complete with red velvet and JFK photos on the walls. Visitors will enjoy tons of personality, without all the kitsch, and of course: great drinks. Wildcard Brewing Co.’s Tied House is a favorite craft brewery in downtown Redding. It’s BYOM – “bring your own meal” – and the kids can play board games while you enjoy a flight of beer, in the airy, laid back space.

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Downtown Night Life and Entertainment Hot Spots
Home to the Redding City Ballet and the North State Symphony, Redding has always been the cultural hub of far northern California. The Cascade Theatre is a historic Art Deco landmark that was beautifully restored as a performing arts venue. The year-round calendar hosts ballet, symphony, and live theater, as well as humorists, chart-toppers, and everything in-between. Downtown Redding is also home to Vintage Wine Bar, presenting live, touring entertainment on a regular basis. Redding’s newest nightlife hot spot is 1724 Downtown Bar & Grille located just across the street from the Cascade Theatre, making it a great option for pre- or post-show drinks. It features a super cool ice bar, cozy booths, and a fun atmosphere.

Redding Hotel Deals!

To discover all that Redding has to offer and additional information about the many things to do in Redding and Shasta Cascade, visit www.visitredding.com

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!

San Luis Obispo County Brightens the Holiday Season

The holidays usher in a magical time of year in San Luis Obispo County, — located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s ruggedly beautiful Central Coast — welcoming a variety of fun and memorable activities for the entire family. From ice skating to holiday parades, and festive tree lighting ceremonies to special shopping and dining experiences, San Luis Obispo County welcomes guests to take part in the celebration.

Explore the merry events below and for more information on all holiday happenings in San Luis Obispo County, visit: www.VisitSanLuisObispoCounty.com/events

Ice Skating Central California Style

Winter WonderSLO Jiffy Lube Ice SkatingSan Luis Obispo
December 18 – January 3 from 9am9pm every day
Don’t miss this Central Coast holiday tradition since 2011, Winter WonderSLO is a real ice rink providing a magical holiday experience for all, located at the iconic Madonna Inn in the heart of San Luis Obispo County.

Parades to Light Up the Holidays

Arroyo Grande Christmas Parade
November 29 at 3:30pm
Usher in the holiday season on the last weekend of November with a Christmas Concert and Parade, featuring a Christmas music choir at the Rotary Bandstand in Heritage Square Park at 3:30pm followed by the parade at 5pm. After the parade, all are invited to enjoy a tree lighting at the Harvest Church.

Paso’s Annual Christmas Light Parade
December 5 at 7pm
This 54th annual event invites onlookers to enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday spirit, with an illuminated parade featuring an array of light spectacles from local businesses.

Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade
December 5 at 6:30pm
Gather the family and travel to Morro Bay for a unique procession of skiffs, yachts, fishing boats, cutters, and sailboats along the waterfront, all beautifully decorated and lighted to celebrate the holidays.

South County Holiday Parade – Grover Beach
December 5 at 10am
Visit Grover Beach for the only daytime parade in South San Luis Obispo County. This 49th annual event is themed Hawaiian Holiday – a perfect occasion for entire family.

Los Osos/Baywood Park Christmas Parade
December 12 at 10am
Grab your cheetah print shirt and head to Los Osos/Baywood Park, where their parade theme is “Christmas SAFARI” with awards given to parade entrants in categories including Best of Theme, Best of Music, Best on Foot, Best on Wheels, Best of Animals and Judges’ Favorite.

Tree Lighting Ceremonies for all Ages

29th Annual Downtown Lighting CeremonyPaso Robles
November 27 at 5:30pm

Celebrate a long-time tradition as the Christmas and holiday lights illuminate the way to holiday festivities in downtown Paso Roblesincluding live music, candlelight caroling, free cookies, and hot chocolate.

Holiday Harmony & Tree Lighting CeremonyPismo Beach
December 4 from 5:30pm8pm
Take the kids to the coast to enjoy fresh snow just steps from the ocean for the 15th Annual Holiday Harmony celebration, a free fun-filled family event at the Pismo Beach Pier, packed with fresh snow, bounce houses, crafts, music, cookie decorating and pictures with Santa.

Holiday Lighting CeremonyAtascadero
December 4 at 6pm
Get in the holiday spirit at the Holiday Lighting Ceremony at the Sunken Gardens Park on the Atascadero City Hall Steps, featuring music by the Atascadero High School Show & Concert Choirs and the Atascadero Community Band.

8th Annual Christmas In Cayucos
December 12 from 5pm8pm
A tree lighting event that includes free horse drawn carriage rides, children’s activities, strolling carolers, a visit from Santa and merchant open houses with special offers, giveaways, refreshments and entertainment.

Festivities, Performances and Gatherings to Warm the Heart and Hearth

Hearst Castle  “Holiday Twilight Tours” San Simeon
December 19 – January 2, 2016
Experience Hearst Castle dressed in holiday splendor with special tours that take visitors through the Hearst Castle property, glittering with holiday cheer.  This spectacular tour happens only one time of year, so advance tour reservations are strongly recommended and can be made at www.HearstCastle.org

Cambria Christmas Market
November 27-29, December 2-6, 9-13 and 16-23
A festive ongoing gathering in the style of Germany’s Christmas Markets with nightly entertainment, the market’s many unique offerings include tempting local food and drink, with brats, fresh baked goods and treats, and Glühwein, a traditional German hot-spiced wine.

Tall Ships in the Harbor Morro Bay
December 2-7
Explore the Tall Ships in Morro Bay where guests can peruse and tour at their own pace. Crewmembers in 18th century-style costumes will entertain the crowd with stories and fun facts about the boats and their lives aboard ship.

Winter WonderlandAtascadero
December 11 from 5pm9pm
All ages will enjoy this Holiday Event on the Central Coast. Play in over 50 tons of snow, plus sledding on a giant snow slide! Santa & Mrs. Claus will be present, along with live entertainment, bounce houses, Elks Little Train and food & craft vendors!

Click here for lodging deals in San Luis Obispo County!

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Top 10 Reasons You Should Spend the Holidays in San Luis Obispo County on California’s Central Coast

The holidays are just around the corner and instead of thinking about hectic shopping, entertaining, or getting your work done with everyone in vacation mode, San Luis Obispo County invites you to sit back, relax and ponder over the alluring activities you can enjoy on the Central Coast.

Visit San Luis Obispo County – halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on California’s ruggedly beautiful Central Coast – offers these ten reasons why you should leave stress behind and celebrate the holidays in San Luis Obispo County (SLO County):

1. We’ll Get You to Slow Down: It’s no accident our acronym is SLO and why our communities often rank among the happiest in America; life here unfolds at a slower pace, and people truly live in the moment. We offer simple pleasures under the sun, from spectacular coastal and wine trails to surfing, horseback riding and agricultural experiences. Here, you can re-connect with your family – and yourself –off line and off the grid and return home truly transformed. www.visitsanluisobispocounty.com

2. One-of-a-Kind Experiences: Hearst Castle is an amazing experience on any given day, but during the holidays the wonder becomes a miracle. From Dec. 1-31 (except Dec. 25), the Castle decks the halls lavishly, giving guests the feeling they’ve stepped back in time and are celebrating the holidays with Hearst’s celebrity revelers. For 40 years locals have looked forward to The Great American Melodrama Presents The Holiday Extravaganza, taking place this year Nov. 30- Dec. 31. The evening features a unique holiday performance, including a heartwarming one-act version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a hilarious fractured fairy tale opera and a renowned Holiday Vaudeville Revue. Music aficionados can enjoy the annual Cal Poly Presents A Christmas Celebration taking place Dec. 12. This year the classical musical spectacle will include the premiere of Cal Poly Professor Antonio G. Barata’s new Spanish carol and an audience sing-a-long.

If New Year’s is more your holiday of choice, Robert Hall Winery offers a festive, themed mega-party. This holiday guests can experience “New Year’s Eve in New Orleans” with a wine reception in the cavern, and a traditional New Orleans Second Line procession to dinner – all paired with Robert Hall Wines, champagne and live music by the Hot Club of SLO. Want a one-of-a-kind holiday tree without all the work? Check out the Cambria Festival of Trees & Holiday B&B Tour on Dec. 6, which features stunningly decorated trees for charity auction, a delicious buffet with local wines and beers, B&B holiday tours and live jazz.

3. Big Time Holiday Classics in a Small Town Setting: Traditionalists yearning to see holiday classics in a more intimate, small town setting or vibe will love the various parades, Santa meet and greets, holiday lighting ceremonies and cultural performances in SLO County.

Performing Arts

The “Miracle on Monterey Street: A Holiday Celebration at the Apple Farm” offers a free, traditional Holiday Open House on Nov. 8, including selfies with Santa, local wine and beer tasting, cookie decorating and crafts. The festivities continue into December with their 25 Days of Christmas including their famous Diva Night sale, holiday crafts, movie nights and live holiday music. For more than three decades locals and visitors have delighted in the Civic Ballet’s Annual Nutcracker performance, taking place Dec. 13-14 at the San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center, featuring the Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra conducted by Brian Asher Alhadeff. Enjoy SLO Little Theatre’s “A Christmas Story”, Dec. 5-21. Based on the 1983 motion picture, the play chronicles the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get the perfect gift under the tree for Christmas.


Paso Robles’ 53rd Annual Christmas Light Parade takes place Dec. 6, 2014, celebrating downtown’s 125th anniversary and marks the arrival of Santa Claus. Downtown San Luis Obispo’s 39th Annual Holiday Parade on Dec. 5 invites revelers to have a “Hula Holiday” and enjoy nearly 100 decorative floats, jammin’ musical acts, dancers and much more. Morro Bay hosts the free Lighted Boat Parade Dec. 6, where onlookers can gaze out into the bay at decorated Christmas skiffs, yachts, fishing boats, cutters, sailboats, and kayaks.

Tree Lighting Ceremonies and Santa Meetups

Paso Robles’ 28th annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony takes place Nov. 28 and kicks off with Mrs. Santa and other costumed characters throwing the giant light switch to illuminate the town all at once. After, locals are invited to take a candle and songbook and get into the holiday spirit with caroling. Every child who takes a photo with St. Nick at Santa’s House in the historic Mission Plaza on Nov. 28 gets a free candy cane, toy and coloring book. All are invited to take in a traditional Holiday Lighting Ceremony in Atascadero on Dec 5, where families can sip on hot chocolate and listen to the tunes of live holiday music at the Sunken Gardens Park and City Hall steps. For those who prefer a more coastal Christmas, Pismo Beach is offering a “Holiday Harmony & Tree Lighting Ceremony” on Dec. 5, including fresh snow, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and bounce houses.

4. Old-Fashioned Holiday Fun: Paso Robles – named the 2013 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast – lets visitors step back in time with two old-fashioned holiday traditions. The Downtown Paso Robles’ 24th Annual Teddy Bear Tea on Dec. 20 invites children to bring their favorite teddy bear for tea, storytelling, gingerbread cookie decorating, crafts, and visits with the Snow Queen and King, Mrs. Claus, Santa Claus, adorable elves and Victorian friends. The free 28th Annual Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase on Dec. 13 lets guests visit the street’s many Victorian homes beautifully decorated and lit for the holidays, featuring entertainment such as choirs, The Grinch, bands, Scrooge, the Snow King and Queen (who grant your wishes) and Santa’s Elves. Enjoy a mountain of snow for sliding, visit to Santa Claus’ House, carolers and street vendors. Apple Farm’s 13th Annual Holiday Open House on Nov. 8 features refreshments, Santa, carriage rides, cookie decorating and live holiday music.

5. Quirky Yule Events: Here in SLO County, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we’ll make sure you don’t either. The perfect way to stay fit and have fun is the Reindeer Run 5K Run/Walk at Mitchell Park, a 5K route run/walk featuring humorous holiday costumes and pancakes with Santa. For an irreverent look at the holidays, check out David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries,” where he chronicles his true-life odd encounters with his fellow man while working as an “elf” in Macy’s Santaland display, Dec. 12-21 at SLO Little Theatre.

6. Ice Skate Under the Warm California Sun: What could be better than enjoying holiday ice-skating without the frigid limbs and stalled cars? Madonna Inn, an historic landmark hotel featuring wildly imaginative themed rooms, will offer its popular ice skating rink Dec. 19-Jan. 4. During the holidays, the inn also exhibits dazzling decorations and local holiday shopping. Enter a Winter Wonderland in Downtown Atascadero on Dec. 12, where not only can the family ice skate to their heart’s delight, but can play in over 50 tons of fresh snow, spread over five blocks!

Six Covered Bridges Anchor Cottage Grove, Oregon as a Travel Destination

A new campaign, Bridges and Beyond, invites tourists to make the historic town of Cottage Grove, Oregon their overnight travel destination as the hub for visiting the many attractions within just a few miles of the city’s center.

Six Covered Bridges, 21 murals, 16 miles of family-friendly bike path, 15 nearby wineries and four waterfalls are just some of the attractions being promoted by the Cottage Grove, Oregon Chamber of Commerce. Arrive by car – just off Interstate 5 – or by private aircraft, landing at the municipal airport, and enjoy a city of annual festivals and nearby recreation.

Oregon should be a state that comes to mind when thinking about Covered Bridges, as it boasts 56 of the unique bridges, with 20 of them located in Lane County. Cottage Grove is known as the “Covered Bridge Capitol of the West” because six of those bridges are located within or in proximity to the city. Whether you drive the Bridge tour or bike the Row River Bike Trail, the historical significance of each bridge will make it clear that this is a city that values its description of quaint, nostalgic and romantic.

The Cottage Grove Historic Downtown District is one of the elements that earned this city an “All-America” Designation. A block-by-block stroll reveals many fine restaurants and unusual shops found in buildings enhanced by huge murals depicting scenes from the area’s early days, including Buster Keaton’s movie, The General, filmed in the area, and the author, Opal Whiteley. The Bohemia Mining District Museum, located on Main Street, displays artifacts of the area’s gold mining history.

For recreation, visitors enjoy boating, swimming and camping at Dorena Lake, also accessible by the bike trail, hiking to the towering waterfalls, golf at the two courses, with Middlefield Golf Course highlighted as a campaign sponsor.

Travel in any direction from this city – just twenty minutes south of Eugene and less than an hour from Roseburg – and visitors will arrive at the vineyards and tasting rooms of the South Willamette Wineries and the North Umpqua Valley Wineries. Many have on-site concerts and other events throughout the year.

Another of the major sponsors of the campaign, The Village Green Resort and Gardens, offers rooms with private patio gardens that are a microcosm of the 14-acre on-site gardens, open to the public. And gardeners can also make the Territorial Seed Company (also a sponsor) retail store a stop on their itinerary.

Visitors often schedule their overnights in Cottage Grove to coordinate with one of the annual festivals. Bohemia Mining Days in July, the Oregon Covered Bridge Festival in September are the major ones, while the Wednesday evening Summer Concerts in the Park and the Last Friday Art Walks emphasize how important the arts are to the population of this city.

For more information, contact the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce at (541) 942-2411 or www.cgchamber.com.