Travels in and around Sacramento, California

California tourists know big city names like Sacramento, but a visit to Northern California offers more than one opportunity to enjoy the area. A great place for a classic road trip, Camino, Coloma, Columbia, Jamestown, Placerville, Sonora, and  Tuolumne County are full of attractions just around the next bend in the road.

Sacramento

Sacramento is one of California’s largest cities and full of family friendly attractions. Museums dedicated to such topics as transportation, art, and history can all be found here along with shops, restaurants, and “Old Sacramento, a registered national landmark and state historic park”. With the diverse offerings there is something that will appeal to every family member.

visit california

Trains, cars, or both? Sacramento is home to the California State Railroad Museum and California Auto Museum. Transportation and the area’s history are closely tied as the city was part of the transcontinental railroad and Pony Express. The Railroad Museum not only displays restored locomotives and train cars, they also feature “40 one-of-a kind exhibits”. Here you can learn about railroad history from 1850 to the trains we ride today. A mile down the road the Auto Museum is full of examples of more modern four wheeled transport. The collection features cars from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, originals and restorations.

california railroad

Art? The Crocker Art Museum is a perfect stop. Opening in 1885 the museum is a part of history too, the “first public art museum in the Western United States”.  Enjoy more than the art when visiting, there are also live events, tours, and classes for kids, adults, or the whole family. When planning your trip be sure to check out their Events Calendar on the site.

History? Old Town Sacramento Historic District is a living piece of the past. Shops once supplied miners in search of gold, now those historic buildings house shops and eateries that appeal to new visitors in the area. The Sacramento History Museum is there to expand your local knowledge or if you want to go back before the city was founded try the California State Indian Museum.

travel in california

California Gold Rush

Gold brought the original settlers to the region and now you can learn about the history and recapture the experience at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma Ca. James Marshall triggered the “largest migration in history” when he discovered gold in 1848. With a museum, gold panning, candle and rope making you can spend the afternoon living history.
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Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach Ca.

Living Art in California

The Pageant of the Masters in the artistically inclined Laguna Beach California is an oasis by the sea for art, music, and food. Running from July 5th through September 1st this Festival of the Arts stands out from any other you may have experienced before. This is more than art you stroll up to like a gallery or art walk. This is art that fills a whole stage! Accompanied by live music and narration, works of art are brought to life for crowds filling the outdoor theatre. If that was not on a grand enough scale there is the fact that parts of the painting are played by live models!

Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach California sign.

How? Well the models too are painted, their clothes, every detail to match the style of the piece they are a part of. Part of the fun is picking out the real from the painted two dimensional portions. The scale of this event is huge, from the stage filling backdrops, the painted models, the costumes that blend in seamlessly. Even the lighting that adds so much to each scene. This year’s theme is “Under the Sun”, Impressionists from the early 20th century. These artists spent their time under that sun while creating works that are still appreciated today and you couldn’t pick a lovelier place to do the same than The Pageant of the Masters.
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CloudMover Day Spa Huntington Beach

CloudMover Day Spa Huntington Beach CaliforniaThe Beach and a Spa, What Better Day…

Huntington Beach California is a vacation destination, or if you are lucky might be right outside your backdoor. Sunshine and relaxation are only enhanced by a day at the spa and the one to hit is CloudMover Day Spa. Voted #1 seven years in a row by the OC Hotlist you want to go where the locals go to get the best service in massages, facials, body treatments, and more. My experience was eye opening.

I am going to start with the facial, because I never knew the process could be this good. I have had facials before, but just a few and I never got very excited about them. Often after my skin was irritated and I never felt it looked any better for going through the discomfort and occasionally painful burn of the peels. CloudMover Spa completely changed my mind with their HydroMicrodermabrasion facial. Their staff is amazing.

Basically in the past spas had been using treatments that were too harsh for my skin type and I didn’t know better than to ask for what others recommended, I am not experienced with the beauty treatments out there. So I ended up irritating my skin and not getting good results. The HydroMicrodermabrasion method was amazing because it is gentle enough for all skin types and effective enough to really get results even with the toughest jobs. I went in with my Italian skinned gentleman friend who spends every day in the sun, pool, and slathering on sunscreen, clogged pore city. His skin looked amazing afterwards and the effects have lasted for weeks. My face has never looked so good and all of my skin issues were cleared up without any tenderness.
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LA Travel & Adventure Show

Where in the world do you want to travel to next?

LA Travel & Adventure Show

Whether you are planning a trip or just a travel enthusiast the Travel and Adventure Show is a must. Meet wonderful representatives from destinations near and far while getting travel tips from experts, and experiencing some of the culture. Camel rides, live music, and costumes make this a colorful event enhanced by the fascinating information at the different booths.

Travel and Adventure Show Camel Ride

Want an adventure close to home? The Travel and Adventure Show is a perfect place to get a taste of all the destinations nearby too. There are shows all over the country, this one was in Los Angeles and I was impressed by all of the local travel opportunities. There are so many fun trips within driving distance it was eye opening. It was also a geography lesson finding out about all the nearby counties and their attractions. Mammoth Lake, San Bernardino County, the town of Buellton all caught my attention.
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Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival and Highland Games

Kilts, Kilts, Kilts, Lads and Ladies!

Travel is a great way to get a feel for other cultures, but there are options closer to home, like the Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival & International Highland Games. For one weekend a year Long Beach California becomes home to a boisterous celebration of Scottish food, dance, and athletics.

Queen Mary's Scotsfestival Dance CompetitionFashion, history, and accents are just the start of all the fun to be had. There were so many competitions to watch it was hard to know where to go next. The Queen Mary is a destination not to be missed on any visit to Southern California, being inside this magnificent ship to watch dancing competitions with live bagpipe accompaniment is epic. Outside in the sunshine men and women put themselves to the test in the Highland Games and I was equally captivated. These Scots have developed some sports you likely have never heard of, but man are they fun to watch!Highland games at the Queen Mary

Yes, the competitors are wearing kilts while they take part in nine feats of strength in these different events. Nine! Talk about endurance. They throw a number of different heavy items at varied weights, a stone, a Scottish hammer, a caber (the caber is a timber like a telephone pole at 15 to 23 feet long and weighing in at somewhere between 70 and 130 pounds), a sheaf toss (straw in a burlap sack tossed over a high bar with a pitchfork), and weights tossed for height and distance. They are wild to watch as men and women take their turns at each contest.
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ScotsFestival at the Queen Mary Giveaway!

Kilts are not required, but are encouraged… Comment and Enter Below

The 25th ScotsFestival is taking place at the Queen Mary in Long Beach California this February 17-18 from 9am-6pm and we are giving away 4 General Admission Passes for opening day! Food, fun, and family activities are all on the agenda with live music, dancers, and the Scottish Highland Games. If your only connection to Scotland is Braveheart than this is the perfect opportunity to get an authentic feel for the culture and the history.

So what are the Scottish Highland Games? They consist of some activities you might be familiar with and others that might sound strange. Putting the Shot is similar to what we do in track and field today, but then the Scotts start throwing the interesting stuff. The Caber Toss – a large pole, The Hammer Throw – an actual sledgehammer, The Sheaf Toss – throwing a burlap bag of straw with a pitchfork. Who doesn’t want to check that out?

After watching the athletics you might want to put yourself to the test. ScotsFestival comes complete with a sixty-foot obstacle course FEAT OF STRENGTH. No joke. You can see where you stand after competing against your peers and rising to the challenge. I am for sure going to give it a try! For the little ones there is a whole section of kids activities to enjoy so everyone can get involved in the games.
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Ski Mountain High in California

Just outside LA you can hit the slopes!


A short drive from the major cities in Southern California, Mountain High Ski Resort is a must visit this winter. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder, or looking to go down the hill by sled this is the place. My visit was a pleasure from start to finish. The drive is pleasant, the food is tasty, and the winter sports are where it’s at.

Me in my Mountain High Yeti mask!

If you didn’t know January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. So I figured I would take on the challenge at Mountain High. Skiing is totally new to me and I could not have picked a better destination to get started. Everyone raved about their ski instructors and I agree. Mountain High has a top notch ski school, their instructors are certified PSIA and AASI, use the latest equipment, and boast some of the highest success rates in the country with lessons for all skill levels.

If you are an expert already there is plenty to keep you busy. Mountain High is broken into three resorts, East, West, and North. Each is packed full of great runs and when the weather gifts SoCal with snow we are ready to rock. There are 290 acres of skiable terrain, The trail breakdown is 25% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 35% Advanced to keep everyone racing along. With a maximum elevation of 8,200 feet keep hydrated and don’t be surprised if you get winded more easily. Hydration is key.
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Chill at the Queen Mary, Long Beach Ca.

A Winter Wonderland in Southern California!

Chill at the Queen Mary is the United States’ first-ever Ice Adventure Park and it is a great way to enjoy the Holiday Season. With the beautiful Queen Mary ship lit for the Holidays in the background Chill is a lovely destination of lights and activities. There are any number of adventures to enjoy, from the sweet, to the bumpy, to the high flying, they have options for the whole family. Why not also enjoy some seasonal specialties of both food and drink to add to the experience.

The most obvious activity for an Ice Park is skating of course and that is the center piece of Chill. Included in the price of admission this will keep you busy as you skate from section to section. Skate through a giant igloo dome showing the Northern Lights, enjoy the live shows on the different stages along the path. You can hop off at the Swiss Chalet for a snack, or to take a break. A large portion of the park is accessably by foot or skate.

The next Winter classic that comes to mind is sledding. My favorite to enjoy is Chill’s tubing hill where you can race down next to your friends and family. If something milder or for the very little ones is more your speed check out a ride on the Worlds Largest Rocking Horse! If you get the Ultimate Expedition there are some more rides included or for an additional fee you can ride the bumper boats, take a turn around the speedway on a tricycle, or zipline in the park. Feeling creative? Try your hand at decorating a stocking or a gingerbread house. You can also take a break for the 4D Rudolph video on the actual ship theatre and get a look inside the Queen Mary.
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