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Plan your next Northern California hotel stay through HotelsCombined.com to get the best price possible:
Here's a guest article from the popular Mom Maps app-er and online Kids Play Guide author, Jill Seman about iPhone apps.
Beaches can be very dangerous places. Learn some simple rules for beach safety for you and your family.
What will you do when you visit Napa California? Tour wineries? Wine taste? That's all well and good, but don't miss these additional Napa CA attractions!
Lake Tahoe Ski California - get the lowdown on ski resorts in California's Lake Tahoe area!
There were two ways to reach the goldfields during the California Gold Rush-one was to travel overland by covered wagon (prairie schooner) to Northern California.
Did you know there are actually two versions of San Francisco Chinatown - the Tourist version, and the Locals' version. Just how different are they?
Union Street is San Francisco's OTHER shopping area, not to be confused with Union Square. If you're a shopper, you won't want to miss this Cow Hollow treasure!
Looking for free things to do in Big Sur? We can help you with that!
Looking for some Whale Watching Tips to enhance your experience and make your whale watching trip more enjoyable? This is the place for you!
Why are we so fascinated with whales? Maybe it's because they seem as curious about us as we are about them. It's California whale watching season all year, so come along...
Whale Watching Tips When You're Aloft provides a Jonathan Livingston Seagull perspective!
Don a bit o' the green this weekend, grab your shamrocks and your pot o' gold, and celebrate with Irish music and dance, Irish food and drink, and an Irish parade at these Northern California locations:
Dublin seems a natural place to start - Dublin, California, that is! And you'd be right - they're putting on a whole festival, Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 with three stages of music and dance, an international food court, shopping, rides...
Across The Bay, San Francisco's long-standing Parade and Festival attracts over 100,000 people each year for parade fun, kilted bagpipers, dancing girls, Irish bands, food and drink, a kids area...
Then there's the O'Sacramento St. Patrick's Parade that presents hundreds of colorful marchers, historic re-enactors, Irish and Highland dancers, military regiments, police and fire people, live entertainment, river cruises...
Both of those are on Saturday only, March 14, 2015.
The art of storytelling is much more than reading a story from a book. It involves the storyteller's ability to convey the full emotional range of the story to the audience through words, tone, and body language alone - no costumes, no props (except possibly a guitar), no backdrops. And it's interactive. The audience is as much a part of the story as the storyteller is.
Don't miss the 28th annual Mariposa Storytelling Festival this weekend. Storytellers include Beth Horner, Tim Lowry, Michael Parent, Antonio Rocha, Anne Rutherford, and Sarah Saulter, all of whom will regale you with original and vintage stories that cover the full range of the human experience.
Take the opportunity to discover one of Mendo's Insider Secrets at the sixth annual Little River Whale Festival this weekend. Little River is a destination hamlet along the Mendocino Coast for those-in-the-know, and this weekend you can discover their special brand of hospitality and save money too!
Hotels, lodges, inns, and B&Bs are offering special prices and packages during the Whale Fest, so it's the perfect time to see and do all that Little River has to offer.
Festival events include:
This weekend brings the second annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest to the elegant-yet-kitchy village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Relais & Châteaux establishments from all over the world will be represented by grand chefs and winemakers presenting their best offerings during 18 fabulous events for gourmet palates to sample and enjoy.
Start with the Welcome Party at La Playa Carmel on Thursday and work your way through vineyard tours and lunches, lunches and cooking demonstrations, world cuisine and wine dinners, a wild mushroom hunt and lunch at the Santa Lucia Preserve, and more. This year's event promises to surpass whatever your expectations might have been!
Wondering what Relais & Châteaux is? So was I - here's what I found out. Relais & Châteaux is a 60 year-old association of individual luxury hotels and restaurants from around the world that are recognized for the exceptional quality of their wares.
For more about what there is to see and do throughout Northern California, visit: DiscoverNorthernCalifornia.com
Come snow or come shine, North Lake Tahoe SnowFest is ten "Snow-Much Fun" (that's the theme this year) days filled with crazy events (the Naughty Dawg Pull, Whacky Human Bowling), concerts, races and bar games, parades and parade parties, the annual Bridgetender Rib Fest, snow sculpturing, and way too much more to mention it all here!
Events take place on the mountain and off the mountain at North Lake Tahoe's resorts and neighborhoods, starting with the Kick-off to SnowFest Party tonight, February 26 at Gar Woods Grill & Pier.
For more about Tahoe, visit Discover Lake Tahoe.
I absolutely love festivals, especially food festivals! That's why I've gathered the fun food festivals of Northern California together in one place. Find the one(s) that you love best!
Why wait when you can attend a premier gymnastics event this weekend in Santa Clara. With Men's and Women's Artistic Gymnastic competitions for levels 3-Elite, multiple competition floors, top gymnast teams from around the world (1,000 athletes), national judges, special events and prizes, you'll enjoy a high energy, exciting competition at The Spirit of the Flame!
For more about the area, visit Discover Santa Clara County.
This year marks - not only the 30th year - of Berkeley's much celebrated Jewish Music Festival, but also the last year according to Ellie Shapiro. Ms Shapiro is stepping down as long-time director of the festival and has announced that it will be the final year for the festival-as-we've-known-it as well.
In the meantime, we can still enjoy almost a month of lively, exciting, and culturally historical Jewish music at venues throughout the Bay Area. From Yiddish theater musicals to Klezmer to Yiddish dancing workshops, Jewish music today mixes Jewish culture and progressive Judaism in the best possible way.
The idea for Guest Articles at Discover Northern California was conceived as a way of sharing great articles by other people with my readers. Please enjoy!
It runs for 13 days (through March 8th) and features "the finest discovery bastion of international film premieres, breakthrough technology, artists and innovatiors."
Highlighting the works of new filmmakers as well as established artists, this premier film festival has helped to discover over 2500 films and artists from over 100 countries throughout the world.
This year's event includes 229 films, features and shorts from 51 countries in 35 languages, in genres ranging from Action to Thriller - each project chosen for its contributions to the creative and technological innovation of the industry.
For more about the area, visit Discover Santa Clara County.
For more about what there is to see and do throughout Northern California, visit: DiscoverNorthernCalifornia.com
It's time for the 34th Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off & Festival this Saturday, February 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - come rain or come shine!
Join the fun and excitement as talented chefs from throughout Northern California compete for the glory of the BEST CLAM CHOWDER! It's more than just a foodie clash though, as everyone gets into the spirit with fun costumes representing King Neptune's domain - think scuba divers, mermaids, and Clam Fairies!
Now in its 34th year, the Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off is a popular rain-or-shine event, but there are no worries about rain this weekend.
There are four divisions of competition - Amateur Boston/Amateur Manhattan and Professional Boston/Professional Manhattan - with plaques, cash prizes, round-trip tickets, and bragging rights up for grabs.
This Guest Article by Creztor Tessel takes you on a tour of some of Northern California's best RV destinations.
You still have time to experience and participate in PIER 39's annual Tulipmania celebration! It started last weekend and continues through February 22, 2015.
Enjoy over 39,000 tulips in bloom along with many other seasonal favorites like the pretty little Johnny Jump-ups!
You're sure to be WOWed by the vivid colors and exotic arrangements spilling over throughout both levels of the pier!
Participate in guided landscape tours to learn how the displays are created, and bring your fanciest camera gear for optimal photo ops to enter in the #tulipmania contest on Instagram!
After the free tour, enjoy complimentary refreshments at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant.
Ever thought about camping in Big Sur, California? You're not alone - Big Sur camping offers some of the most spectacular scenery on the California coastline!
Thinking you'll probably have to postpone any big vacations this year? But you still get the travel itch, right? Have you given Day Trips a thought? Here are some of our favorites starting from Chico.
And it's time once again for the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival this weekend, February 19-22, 2015 - marking 53 years of festival celebrations!
With arts, crafts, and food booths, a fun-filled carnival, popular events like the parade and the fun run (listed in Running in the USA), it's the event of the year in Ripon!
For more about the Great Central Valley, visit Discover the Central Valley.
What's San Francisco California mean to you? Theater? GG Bridge? Dining? Alcatraz? Shopping? It's all that, but what about neighborhoods? Not your usual image? Come and see what you might have missed.
The sun is out, temps are rising, Springtime is in the air, and it's time for the annual Cloverdale Citrus Fair, February 13-16. The theme this year: Up, Up & Away with the Legends of Music - highlighted by the Cabaret in the Auditorium at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Citrus activities include Lily Lemon and Oran Orange, the Citrus Fair Queen program, Orange Surprise, Orange Juicing, and Lemon Delight contests.
Of course, there are all the other things you would expect from a great fair: Gourmet Chef Shows, poultry and animal judging, carnival rides, a Family Fun Zone, food tastings, wine tastings, musical entertainment, and carnival food booths.
Celebrate Valentine's Weekend with a special two-day wine tasting event in Madera: it's the 2015 Wine and Chocolate Weekend.
Visit wineries along the Madera Wine Trail to sample excellent locally produced wines. A very special treat for Valentine's Day weekend includes chocolates that pair with the wines, live musical entertainment, displays of local artists, and scrumptious food tidbits!
Be sure to take some wine home to share with loved ones and friends, too!
For more about the area, visit Discover California's Great Central Valley.
This weekend, VinOlivo wraps up Sonoma Valley's two-month long Olive Season festivities with a wide variety of activities.
Learn all about olive curing at An Olive Odyssey, which takes place at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Enjoy live musical entertainment, book an olive-related seminar, take an olive cooking class, browse artisan markets, and check out the olive infused spa treatments!
Start with the Grand Tasting on Friday night, move on to the Ticket to Sonoma Valley (over 40 Sonoma Valley wineries), and finish with an Olive Odyssey at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.
To find more January, February, & March Events and Festivals: January through March
Visit Butte County to explore natural wonders like Feather River Canyon, engineering feats like Oroville Dam, and charming small-town communities like Chico.
Starting with the Dance & Dine with your Valentine event in the Artisan Cellar belonging to Rodney Strong Vineyards on February 14th.
Lose yourself in an evening of barrel tasting, a dance lesson, and a romantic four-course dinner - all with beautiful music.
Historic and fascinating Mare Island is the scene for the 19th Annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival on Friday, February 13th through Monday, February 16th.
The Flyway Festival was founded in November 1996 by Myrna Hayes and Marc Holmes, while staffers of Save San Francisco Bay Association, as part of a project called the Partnership for San Pablo Baylands. Inspired by urging of Robin Leong, of the Napa-Solano Audubon Society, they crafted an event that would introduce the Bay Area public to the world of birding, the fastest growing outdoor recreation in America. Its roots are in a cause–to set one weekend aside each year to celebrate the migration of all sorts of birds and wildlife through San Pablo Bay - which is the largest bay in the San Francisco Bay Estuary - and to offer access to areas of San Francisco Bay’s north shore, not normally open to the public.
This year's event promises more guided hikes and outings, tours and workshops on Mare Island than every before. With over 60 events on the schedule, you'll have to watch closely to make sure you don't miss your favorite! You will find that one of the most unique aspects of this birding festival is the chance to soak up history on Mare Island and view an amazing array of birdlife all at the same time.
San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinese community in North America and the largest Chinese community outside of China, so it stands to reason they would be The Bomb when it comes to Chinese New Year celebrations!
In the Lunar Year of 4713, San Francisco has a month's worth of festival activities to usher in the Chinese New Year, starting with a mini-procession and ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, February 14 along Chinatown's Grant Avenue.
Festivities continue with the Flower Market Fair, Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant, basketball jamboree, and Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Coronation Ball, then culminate with the traditional Chinese New Year Parade and Community Street Fair on March 7th and 8th.
For more about San Francisco and Chinatown, visit Discover San Francisco, Chinatown, the Neighborhood, and Chinatown, the Tourist Attraction. For photos of San Francisco, check out our Facebook album, Random Photos.
Downtown Benicia is the place to be on Saturday, February 7th, for their Wine & Chocolate Walk - a tasting of fine wines and chocolate pairings throughout the downtown district.
Up to 20 different wines will be poured inside participating shops, providing an enjoyable outing before Valentine's Day. So come along and join in on the fun.
Stroll along First Street with your glass in your hand, tasting the finest pairings of wines and chocolates while you socialize with the shop-keepers and enjoy browsing the wares!
The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has announced the start of its 42nd concert season under the direction of Linda Burman-Hall.
Each year the Baroque Festival presents an assortment of concerts with music and instruments from the time before the American Revolution.
Concert I - Treasures from the Birth of the Baroque - features Marja Gaynor and Nina Treadwell performing exotic songs and dances.
Concert II - Treasures of the Irish Harp - presents Bill Coulter & Friends weaving an enchanting tapestry of sounds.
Concert III - Treasures from the Age of Shakespeare - showcases The Baltimore Consort with their heavenly harmony and earthly delights from the time of the bard... I'm sensing a theme here!
In Chico and Butte County, we've got the Snow Goose Festival in January, offering field trips and other fun stuff involving migratory birds.
In Galt - "Winter home of the regal, red-browed Sandhill Crane" - we have the 8th annual Winter Bird Festival on Saturday, February 7th, with birding tours, guest speakers, and free family fun involving more migratory birds!
Many migratory and resident birds call Galt their winter home. The Winter Bird Festival steering committee and volunteers hope that you will find this festival to be an exciting and educational opportunity to celebrate the Winter Birds and habitat we all call home.
If you're a budding nature photographer, you won't want to miss the Cosumnes River Preserve Photo Tour, sponsored by CANON!
The Anderson Valley in Mendocino County is well known for its Alsace-style whites like Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gerwurztraminer, and Muscat. And this weekend AV is holding its annual Alsace Varietals Festival.
Meet the winemakers, and drink Alsace style wines paired perfectly with tasty treats at the 10th annual International Alsace Varietals Festival Grand Tasting.
Or dine in the intimate Scharffenberger Cellars for the Winemakers Dinner.
Or spend a day touring the many wineries of the Anderson Valley during the Winery Open Houses.
If you're always looking for just the right wine to pair with your special dinners, I think you'll find what you're looking for at the International Alsace Varietals Festival!
February 7, 2015 marks the 17th year that the Sacramento Association of Museums has presented Sacramento Museum Day to the citizens of and visitors to California's state capitol city.
Many Sacramento area museums and local venues will be participating in this year's Museum Day activities, including the California State Railroad Museum, the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park, the California Automobile Museum, the Sacramento Children's Museum, the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, and even the Sacramento Zoo, and Fairytale Town in Land Park.
Designed to entice everyone in the community to enjoy the city's vast offerings of art, history, science, and wildlife, this special day of free and reduced-pricings offers a unique opportunity to experience all of the past, present, and future offerings that our capitol city provides. So plan to get out there on Saturday and take advantage!
For more about California's state capitol, visit Discover Sacramento California. To see photos of Sacramento, including Old Sacramento, the Fab 40s, William Land Park, and more, check out our Facebook albums, Old Sacramento, William Land Park, Sacramento Fab 40s, and Downtown and Midtown Victorians.
Who knew? Most of us think of Yellowstone National Park when we hear Old Faithful, but there are actually three (only) Old Faithfuls in the world, and one is in Northern California!
But don't be fooled by the close-up picture above - that's just the beginning of the show!
Calistoga's Old Faithful erupts about every 30 minutes, forecast by rising steam and boiling water, to shoot thousands of gallons of 350 degree water over 60 feet into the air. Head for Calistoga, spend the day, bring a picnic lunch, and visit the interestingly different animals (Tennessee Fainting Goats and Guard Llamas) in a petting-zoo-like atmosphere while you’re there.
(By the way – the 3rd Old Faithful is in New Zealand. Now there’s something for your Bucket List – visit all three Old Faithfuls before you die!)
A visit to Lake Shasta Caverns is a little bit different from visiting other caverns!
When you first arrive you'll think you've stumbled on a kid's park or a playland.
You're greeted by the Rock Box where the kidlettes can utilize the climbing wall, climbing tunnel, climbing rock, and tree house to their little hearts' content.
Or the whole family can take part in sluicing for gemstones and fossils - purchase a bag of mining rough and head for the sluice to sort it all out!
Once you enter the main store/ticket office you'll realize there's even more adventure ahead when you discover you'll have to take a catamaran ride across the McCloud Arm of Lake Shasta, then a bus ride up a scenic-but-skinny mountain road on the other side, just to get to the caverns.
The boat ride is relaxing, informative & fun, you'll enjoy the scenic bus trip up to the caverns from the boat landing, and the grand prize in the end is the caverns themselves, with stalagmites, stalactites, cave coral, and flow stone.
This adventure takes mobility and a bit of stamina, so it might be too much for a wee one or great-great-grampy!
For photos, visit our Photo Gallery, Lake Shasta Caverns.
It may be hard to believe, but it is the beginning of Spring in Northern California!
And Spring is the perfect time to visit one of the most beautiful attractions along the Northern California coastline: the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of Fort Bragg, California!
You’ll find colorful displays during every season of the year, with manicured formal gardens, a coastal pine forest, native plants, animals, and birds, and flower-filled coastal bluffs overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean.
But Spring is special for that's when you'll discover the early rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils, magnolias, cherries, and Pacific Coast iris in bloom.
The gardens are awash with pinks, lavenders, magentas, whites, yellows and oranges as these lovely plants and flowers come into their own.
For photos of Fort Bragg and more, visit our Facebook Photo Albums.
For more about the Fort Bragg area, visit our Discover Mendocino pages.
Visit Monterey this weekend for one of the largest gem, jewelry, and bead shows in the U.S.A.
With over 40 vendors, you'll find high-quality gems, beads, crystals, and minerals in all shapes and sizes to choose from - and at manufacturer prices! Offerings also include fine jewelry, costume jewelry, gemstones, beads, crystals, precious metals, plus tools, jewelry supplies and boxes all under one roof!
P.S. If you can't make it to Monterey this weekend, Gem Faire will be in Roseville at the Placer County Fairgrounds February 6 - 8, 2015 with the same fabulous merchandise and more hourly drawings!
Contra Costa County, California holds many surprises for the Northern California traveler, even for native Californians.
Founded in 1939 by Russian immigrants, the Russian Center of San Francisco brings the annual Russian Festival to the Bay Area for the 27th year.
The festival's purpose is to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Russian families living in the United States by showcasing the traditional food, art, music, and dance of Russian peoples everywhere.
The festival is held for three days each year (January 30 - February 1, 2015) and attracts thousands of people from all over the Bay Area.
For more about things to see and do in San Francisco, visit San Francisco Attractions. To see photos of things to see and do in San Francisco, check out our Facebook albums, California Academy of Sciences, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Forbes Island, and more.
For a few months each year, elephant seals come ashore and form colonies for the purposes of giving birth, breeding, and molting...
In late November, mature males start to arrive at Piedras Blancas beach in Big Sur and and begin the fighting rituals that determine dominance, which in turn determines who gets to breed.
The females start arriving in the middle of December and continue to arrive until the middle of February. The first births begin about Christmastime, but the peak of the birthing season occurs during the last two weeks of January, so now's a very good time to visit!
The pups are typically born within four or five days of the female's arrival, and they weigh around 60 pounds. The pups only nurse for about 26 days, but they are nursing on the richest milk in the mammal world, giving them the sustenance they need for the coming weeks of learning to survive on their own.
See it all at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery in the southern part of Big Sur near San Simeon!
Friends of the Elephant Seals provide volunteer docents at the viewpoint to answer questions and help visitors.