A Day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs

An outdoor spa not to be missed!

Glen Ivy Hot Springs located in Corona California, just south of Los Angeles is the spot for relaxation and fun. The grounds are positively beautiful. The soothing sound of running water from strategic fountains and a small constructed stream with waterfalls adds a natural soundtrack to your visit. There are plenty of options to pick from, saline pools, the natural hot springs, hot and cold pools to splash back and forth between, and the highlight of the visit, Club Mud! This was my first experience covering myself in red clay and I can not wait to do it again.

You want to set aside more than five hours for your visit and definitely consider being there the whole day. Summer hours are considerably longer of course so keep in mind that after Nov. 1 – Feb. 28 they close at five instead of nine. Glen Ivy offers more than just the spa experience, massages, skin treatments, and salon services are all available during your visit. If you are getting a service and having a leisurely meal this is an all day event.

A Visit to Catalina Island

It begins with a boat ride…

Located off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island is a vacation destination and adventure start to finish. From the beautiful vistas to the quaint town of Avalon, Catalina is worthy of its hundred plus years as a travelers’ oasis. To get to the island you have two options, boat or helicopter. Most of the islands visitors go by way of ocean travel which takes a little over an hour.

There are two major towns on the island but Avalon is by far the most popular and iconic. Much of the island is undeveloped and now home to herds of bison, wild foxes, and deer. You can even catch sight of a bald eagle if you head out on one of the nature tours of the island.

JazzTrax Festival. Hearing live music where Hollywood stars of the Golden Age partied is a thrill. Or you can catch a movie downstairs in the art deco theatre. Taking a Casino Tour to learn the building’s history is a great way to get a look at everything as well.

Another adventure on Catalina Island is the underwater activities. Swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling are a big draw.  One option to see the abundant sea life is to get in and get wet, but certain months of the year that is less enticing than others. If you want to get up close and personal while staying dry give the Glass Bottom Boat Tour a try. You can go out and give catching your dinner a try too. The island is known for its great fishing.

Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Day of the Dead LA style!

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated Oct. 31-Nov. 2nd to remember friends and family that have passed away. There are many traditions and cultural influences on the Day of the Dead which were all on display at this year’s event located in the Los Angeles Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The history of the festival has found the perfect setting in this historic memorial park and they have crafted a day to honor the dead that the whole family can enjoy.

Held this year on Oct.28th from noon till midnight the 18th annual Dia de los Muertos was a musical, colorful, and heart warming experience. Whether you are a local or visitor for the holiday taking the time to walk through the decorated lanes of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and watch the performances staged there is a must. The costumes by participants and enthusiasts of all ages crowd the grounds making a beautiful display of life and death at every stage.

Band: Pilgram performing at Dia De Los Muertos

Images of skeleton’s and faces painted as stylized representations may be familiar, but there are many more personal touches to this spiritual holiday. Graves become tributes, shrines to loved ones that have died. They are decorated with flowers, pictures, candles, and even the departed’s favorite food and drink. It is done in an effort to lure the souls where they can hear prayers offered and stories told in remembrance of their life. Some of the influences go even further back to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Aztec dancers in traditional garb put on displays and paraded through the grounds to pay tribute to their history.

Destination LA: McCabe’s Guitar Shop

Santa Monica California has sun, surf, and music…

One of this L.A.’s treasures is McCabe’s Guitar Shop where you can expect to find more than just stringed musical instruments and lessons on how to use them. People come to hear from those that have mastered their craft. Concerts at McCabe’s are an intimate small stage affair that feels like what it is, getting up close and personal with an artist. Whether you are a fan of the performer(s) or just looking for a destination to hear live music, this is the place to keep an eye on with a history of greats going back five decades.
For my experience I was lucky enough to catch an all time personal favorite, Langhorne Slim, in a pared down solo performance in the back room. Telling stories and singing from a single chair, which at times could barely contain his energy and need to move, Langhorne entranced fans and first timers alike with a mix of folk, rock, and country twang. How do I know? I’m a fan from back before his first album Electric Love Letter came out in 2004. The couple next to me had been tracking him for a few years, since they first encountered him as an opening act. The group behind me were new to the experience of seeing Langhorne Slim on stage just like my date, and by the end they were total converts.

Spa at the Oaks in Ojai

A Day at The Oaks Spa!

The Oaks at Ojai is a resort and getaway for a few nights stay or for those that just have the day drop in and enjoy their Spa. This is the spot for anyone looking to pamper themselves. The Oaks Spa offers every service you could want in a historic and comfortable setting. Right in the center of Ojai and in the renovated mission style hotel this spa gives off charm and invites you to spend time reaching complete relaxation.

The Oaks Spa covers all of your needs from body and skin care treatments, to the hair and nail salon all in one place. Leave with loose muscles after a full body salt stone massage with pink toes and trimmed hair if that is your ideal day. Or for facial enthusiasts there are a number of options to get your skin glowing!

Body Treatments – The Oaks Spa is a wonderful mix of the traditional Swedish Massage, Deep Pressure, and Aromatherapy with innovative techniques to target joints and the Hot Himalayan Salt Stone Massage. My favorite part is that for the indecisive like myself they have the Ultimate Massage Package that feature six of the massage styles in one 75 min. treatment.

Ziplines at Pacific Crest

Flying down the mountain!

Ziplines at Pacific Crest in the San Gabriel Mountains, north of Los Angeles California, is an adventure course through the treetops. Not for the faint of heart, these are some high speed rides over heights that equal a thirty story building and lines that go more than a quarter of a mile in length. This is a great way to spend the day out in nature and enjoying a view you can get no other way. If you feel the need for speed and enjoy a thrill this is the place to be.

They offer a couple of  options to enjoy the excitement at Ziplines at Pacific Crest with their Canopy or Mountain View Tours. These half day adventures will take you above the San Andres fault and into the heights of the California mountains. If you can’t make up your mind between the two consider the Ultimate Day Package which includes both options and a provided box lunch and drink.

Mountain View Zipline Tour – this package is made up of 6 ziplines, 2 free-fall rappels, and 3 hikes that take visitors through the countryside in a 2.5 hr. trip.

Canopy Tour – this 3.5 hr. course includes 9 ziplines that reach 306 ft in height and run as long as 1500 ft. Crossing 3 bridges, lowering yourself down 2 rappels, a sky stair, and 3 hikes round out this route.

Either choice or both will give visitors an adrenaline rush. Even the van up to the start point will get you going with a rumbling ride. From there it is a continued climb on foot to the first launch. After the guides run through the basics of braking and safety details you are ready to fly. I felt some butterflies with the anticipation of my first run and before some of the other elements that make up the course, like rappelling.

Brouwerij West at San Pedro, Ca

Beer Enthusiasts Stop Here!

Brouwerij West, pronounced Brewery West, is an amazing destination for visitors to Los Angeles and Long Beach in particular. They are more than just a brewery, with their tasting room, daily food trucks, pop-up restaurants, historical building, and proximity to other local attractions, they are a perfect stop. Kids and dogs (leashed of course) are welcome and the parking is free. Add the beer itself, which is excellent, and Brouwerij West is a great lunch break location or evening outing.

Visitors from further away can take advantage of the Brouwerji West special with the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Pedro, Beaches and Brews package. Then schedule a tour and tasting! The two-night travel package starts with two Brouwerij West beers when you arrive at the Hotel, transportation to a hosted tour of Brouwerij West; and a five beer tasting. Learn more about the process and how water, hops, barley, and other ingredients come together in the fine art and science of brewing.

Located in a converted U.S. Navy Port Warehouse that was built during World War II, the brewery gives the area a new life after the building sat abandoned. Visitors can come and get a look at soaring ceiling and brick walls initially intended to house ships, now home to beer barrels and brewing tanks. The tour was a real highlight of the visit for me as I knew very little about beer before.

Another aspect that deserves attention is that Brouwerij West is a green company running entirely off solar energy and 30% more efficient in their water usage than traditional breweries. This is possible with the use of a super fancy mash filter. Obviously when using terms like “super fancy” you can see I’m not an expert, so for true beer enthusiasts and home brewers here is an article from beerandbrewing.com about how the process really works. I did walk away from my tour far more knowledgable about the brewing process and ready to test some beers!

All-Inclusive Spa, The Oaks at Ojai, Ca.

Ready to take time for yourselves ladies?

Then the Oaks at Ojai is your destination.

When you think about Southern California beaches come to mind, but there is so much more to see just a short drive from other destinations like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. A highlight is Ojai and the destination, the all-inclusive resort the Oaks at Ojai.

Surrounded by picturesque mountains is an oasis of green housed in mission style architecture and the luxury of modern amenities. A retreat from the high speed and high pressure daily grind is hard to find. Even traveling carries the burden of planning and transporting yourself place to place for meals and activities.

The Oaks all inclusive resort is the answer to that. This is a place for women, though men are welcome. Leave the rest of the family at home and come with a friend or go alone. Either way you will have a great time relaxing poolside, enjoying exercise classes, and eating healthy, tasty, energizing meals and snacks. This isn’t a boot camp, though there are ample opportunities to get you up, out, and moving. Hikes, swimming, yoga, dance, and exercise classes engage all guests at the level of their choosing.

Take the morning walks as an example. They come in three “speeds”, Hikes, Walks, and Strolls. Hikes start at 6:30am and last 90+ minutes. I took the morning hike and adventured up into the hills of the San Pedro National Forest for a view of the valley well worth the early start time. If a later wake up call and slower pace is more your speed then definitely catch the Ojai walking tour that will point out the highlights of the town and fill you in on the historic points and current details that make this spot a great destination.
I took my first ever pool exercise class and loved the shade sail over the area. This allowed you to stay out of the sun or embrace it while working up an appetite and working out your muscles. I loved it for the variety of moves I learned that I now bring to my solo swims to get an extra burn and stretch. I also enjoyed sitting poolside and being close to nature under the flowering trees.

Outside the water there are activities that you can add on to your stay, or on week days some different adventures are offered like a kayaking trip. Private hikes are available or get together with some new friends and plan a small group outing. If you like to bike there is a great local trail that even takes you all the way down to the ocean. You can rent on your own or take the guided ride that comes with a lunch and car ride back up the road to save you from peddling miles uphill.