A Sunny Southern Cali Kind of Stay

A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.
A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.

Make your winter months as sunny as possible and head to southern California to explore the area. Daytime temperatures tend to hover around 68 degrees and the sun is out more than it’s not! There are places to make a home base while you visit the known and lesser known attractions in the Golden State.

Los Angeles: First, book a stay in a cozy cabin at Soledad Canyon and then get ready to check out the area that draws more than 48 million visitors each year.

Of course, many people flock to LA to see the stars of the human variety rather than the celestial kind. You may want to combine a hike in Runyon Canyon with your star-search efforts as this a is favorite spot for the exercise-minded celebrity. Another spot to see stars in their everyday life is The Grove, an LA shopping mecca and the adjacent Original Farmers Market. Whether you see the stars or not, these are all worthy expeditions while in Tinseltown.

Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.
Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.

Other LA attractions include the Griffith Observatory for celestial stargazing, the Santa Monica Pier, and Huntingon Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. And, if you want to feel like it’s winter in all the sunshine, visit Pershing Square’s Holiday Ice Rink, located in the Financial District of the city. The Square will also host a Winter Holiday Festival on December 7, complete with LA’s version of snow!

San Diego: Start by making a reservation to stay in a cabin or cottage at Pio Pico, which is a perfect location thanks to its proximity to San Diego proper. San Diego has beaches, the Pacific Ocean, museums, galleries, a world-class zoo, lots of history, and a boatload of outdoor fun to be had.

The San Diego Zoo consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in the world. With more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals, including gorillas, polar bears, and koala bears, this is definitely not your basic zoo. Visitors can enjoy a guided bus tour through the zoo or see it from above on the zoo’s Skyfari Aerial Tram.

Make a stop at the zoo as part of your San Diego Hop-on Hop-off Trolley tour which also makes stops at Old Town State Historic Park, which is considered the Jamestown of the Pacific; the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park.

Santa Barbara: Choose from a cozy cabin, teepee, or covered wagon at Rancho Oso and then head out to explore this charming California town known for its architecture and history.

A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.
A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.

One of the neat things about Santa Barbara is its proximity to the Channel Islands National Park, an archipelago of five islands. A great way to explore the Park and the islands is through the Santa Barbara Adventure Company (www.sbadventureco.com). There are all kinds of adventures waiting on the Channel Islands including snorkeling, sea cave exploration, hiking and whale watching.

A great way to get to see the beautiful architecture of the city is to take one of the weekend walking tours, offered Saturday and Sunday, through the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (afsb.org) Tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately two hours.

And again, if you want to experience a bit more of a winter feeling in this sunny climate, don’t miss the “snow” events at the town’s Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping center where “snow” fills the evening skies through December 31. There is also holiday entertainment including carolers, choirs, and Santa himself!

National Selfie Day

National Selfie Day

June 21 is National Selfie Day. Established in 2014, this day, according to NationalCalendar.com, was designed to “encourage people to take creative (appropriate) selfies and share them on social media.” Of course, this may be something you do on a daily basis, so maybe on National Selfie Day you should go all out and make sure your post is amazing! One way to do that is to make sure wherever you’re snapping the perfect pic of yourself offers outstanding scenery.  We’ve listed a few of the more iconic locations to provide the perfect selfie backdrop. Also, if you choose to participate, you should post your pic on social media with the tag #NationalSelfieDay.  For more information, visit www.nationalselfieday.net.

  1. The Hollywood Sign: Located in Los Angeles (and just an hour from Soledad Canyon), this American landmark is 352 feet long and spells out the word HOLLYWOOD in 45-foot tall letters. A star is born, for sure!

    Soledad Canyon • Acton, CA

  2. The Washington Monument: While the monument itself is closed for repairs until August, you can still stand in the forefront and get a great shot with this 555-obelisk built to commemorate George Washington. Conveniently, Harbor View is about 65 miles from Washington D.C.
  3. The Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco’s iconic suspension bridge is a great backdrop for a selfie. Hike up Hawk Hill, located in the Golden Gate Recreation Area, for a perfect shot.
  4. Disneyworld: A perfect selfie would include Cinderella’s Castle in the background as you smile broadly with Mickey and/or Minnie to complete the shot. The colorful cottages at Tropical Palms are just 10 miles away from the Magic Kingdom.

    Tropical Palms Resort • Kissimmee, FL

  5. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign: A Vegas landmark since 1959, this 25-foot tall neon masterpiece marks the entry to the famous Las Vegas strip. Stay in a cabin at Las Vegas to prep for the perfect pic.
  6. The Bean: Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as The Bean, is a popular selfie backdrop. Located in the city’s Millennium Park, selfie snappers have been known to get very creative when taking pics with this mirrored landmark.
  7. Cheers Bar: Go where everybody knows your name, or at least your social media handle after you post a pic of yourself with the famous Cheers sign in the background. Head to Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood to find this iconic sign. It is located across from Boston’s Public Garden, which provides some great selfie shots, too!  The Tuxbury Tiny House Village is located just an hour from downtown Boston.
  8. Hersheypark: Visit Hersheypark and keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity to take a pic with life-sized candy characters, including a Hershey Kiss, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or a Hershey Bar. The cabins at Hershey are less than 30 miles from Hersheypark. These are guaranteed to be some sweet shots.
  9. The Parthenon: You don’t have to travel all the way to Greece to get this shot. Instead, head to Centennial Park in Nashville and snap a shot in front of this full scale replica of the original in Athens. The adorably themed cabins at Natchez Trace are about an hour from downtown Nashville.

    Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN

  10.  Chief Passamaquoddy: Take a picture with a 40-foot Indian chief in the background. To do so, head to Freeport, Maine (which is about 60 miles from Moody Beach) and you’ll find him standing tall along Route 1. He is also known as the Big F Indian.