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Apr 21st
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Staycation

Blogs - Staycation

The Vagabond's House Inn

The Vagabond's House Inn

Carmel Haven Wins Points For Perfect Locale and Cozy Setting

Some of Carmel's larger hotels get—and deserve—a lot of attention, but lately, I've discovered that it's the smaller, more quaint establishments that deserve some real kudos. Enter The Vagabod's House Inn. Conveniently perched just blocks from Downtown Carmel, you get a lot for your buck here— charm, solitude and an idyllic setting.

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Blogs - Staycation

Hofsas House Hotel

Hofsas House Hotel

Bavarian charm and ideal locale create the perfect Carmel getaway

You wouldn’t know it from looking at it from street level, but Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel happens to have one of the most striking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and portions of Carmel Beach than any other vacation portal in all of Carmel.

That’s just one of the many things about Hofsas that stand out. The other notables revolve around the hotel’s history—family-owned and prospering now for 60 years—and its Bavarian-inspired theme. (It really is like stepping into a European fairy tale.

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Blogs - Staycation

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Five Reasons To Visit (Again)

There’s no shortage of eye candy when you live on the Central Coast. From the scenic hikes and dynamic surfs in Santa Cruz to the breathtaking landscapes of Pebble Beach, Carmel and Big Sur, it’s hard to find yourself bored here.  When the economy began mood swinging back in 2008, locals who were hoping to be more financially responsible began turning to “staycationing” rather than, say, taking longer trips across the country. Naturally, this gave people more of an opportunity to appreciate the scenic gems found in their own backyard.

Hearst Castle in San Simeon is, perhaps, the most breathtaking jewel among the bunch and it will certainly always be worthy of some attention—no matter what the economic conditions.

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Blogs - Staycation

Hotel Paradox

Hotel Paradox

Style with a dash of whimsy at the new Hotel Paradox  

Is Hotel Paradox actually paradoxical, as its name would suggest? It does contain some notable contradictions: for one, it butts up to bustling Downtown Santa Cruz and is situated on busy Ocean Street, but feels peaceful and private from within the fenced-in, tree-lined grounds. It is also a nice hotel in the heart of Santa Cruz, and some may say that that, itself, is a contradiction, although one that’s (hopefully) becoming passé.

But the moniker mostly speaks to the fact that the new 170-room hotel is intriguing. It's slick, hip and classy, with a good dose of quirk. The latter is embodied by the hotel's pervasive forest theme, which is executed with décor aimed at bringing the woods inside. Trees, with their beautiful bark and greenery, spruce up the sleek, modern, mostly white space and drive home a uniquely Santa Cruz vibe. “We have this white, contemporary box, boutique hotel with an organic feel,” explains General Manager Tony Eichers.

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Blogs - Staycation

A Gardener’s Getaway

A Gardener’s Getaway

Flowers, fresh food and respite await at Cambria Pines Lodge

Because your front yard gardens bloom so graciously all year round, I am going to let you in on a secret staycation that may as well have been designed just for you, Santa Cruzans.

About an hour south of Big Sur (where I strongly suggest camping for a night or two on the way down), a short walk from Downtown Cambria, Calif., and a stones' throw away from one of the most serene beaches on the planet (Moonstone Beach), resides the Cambria Pines Lodge and its exquisite collection of gardens.

The lodge’s 152 rooms offer a variety of accommodations, from Disney-esque stand-alone cottages, like the one I enjoyed, to 19-room hotel-style clusters.

“It’s so quiet here that even when the property is fully booked you can feel almost like you’re alone,” says Becky Evans, the director of sales and marketing who has worked at Cambria Pines for 22 years.

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Blogs - Staycation

The Little Basin That Could

The Little Basin That Could

Try Little Basin Campground for a local camping getaway

Local state parks make for the perfect summer staycation: they are nearby, affordable, beauteous, and, in Santa Cruz’s case, there are several to choose from. And now we can add one more valuable state park campground to our local trove—Little Basin Campground.

Formerly a retreat center for Hewlett Packard employees, the year-round campground is now part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek. Its 524-acre lot is a medley of grassy meadows and majestic coastal redwoods, checkered with 38 tent sites, 12 tent cabins, and RV sites.

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Blogs - Staycation

Taking Refuge

Taking Refuge

A day at Carmel’s best day spa is just what the doctor ordered

Just a short drive south from Santa Cruz, tucked behind the remote Carmel Valley Athletic Club, is the small oasis of relaxation known simply as Refuge. It’s a day spa, but exists on a realm above most other establishments of the sort. Visitors enter through lavish locker rooms, plush white robe and towel in tow, and, from there, step into the equivalent of a very fancy, very large backyard. The spacious patio-like area is fenced in and lined with pleasant landscaping. Small pools of varying temperatures—cold, cool, warm, and hot—create a checkerboard of water across the co-ed space, where bathing suits are mandatory and the atmosphere is one of quiet relaxation. Spa goers sit meditatively around several fire pits, despite the warm day.

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Blogs - Staycation

Sampling Sacramento

Sampling Sacramento

The state capital turns a skeptic into a satisfied visitor

The Citizen Hotel in Downtown Sacramento is an oasis of charm and style in an otherwise shabby neighborhood. The park directly across the street is, apparently, the most popular place for homeless to sleep, and an entire block to one side of the hotel is boarded up and vacant. Aided by the fact that I visited on a weekend, when the masses of legislators and their staffs are gone, the empty storefronts and sparsely populated streets gave off an eerie, downtrodden vibe.

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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?