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SHASTA CASCADE

Improvements at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
In an effort to preserve and bring the forest around Brandy Creek back to its original and natural beauty, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is undergoing a restoration project known as the Brandy Creek Forest Restoration. It’s important that these forests be restored in order for future generations to enjoy and learn from them, but also to ensure safe habitat for the federally threatened spotted owls. These magnificent old-growth forests are becoming rarer in the Pacific Northwest, so the National Park Service will be removing and thinning the thick understory and ladder story that currently dominate the landscape. One of the four breathtaking waterfalls found at the park is Crystal Creek Falls. The restoration project at Crystal Creek Falls involves local and native vegetation planting to give the feeling of a more natural environment. They are also paving the half-a-mile path to the falls to make it handicapped accessible. Contact: Karen Whitaker, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, (530) 365-7500, pr@shastacascade.org, www.shastacascade.com

Walk the Trail to Outdoor Adventure
The Redding area is proud to announce the completion of the Sacramento River Trail, a National Recreation Trail that connects the trail from the world famous Sundial Bridge to the Shasta Dam. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy 35 miles of walking, jogging, cycling or horseback riding on the trail, along with amazing views of the outlying area. There are 15 miles of paved trail on the west side, which passes through old railroad tunnels, and 20 miles of unpaved trail that cross old wooden bridges. Contact: Karen Whitaker, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, (530) 365-7500, pr@shastacascade.org, www.shastacascade.com.

Walk the Improved Trails at McArthur-Burney Falls
The McArthur-Burney Falls continue to be one of the most popular destinations within the California State Parks for visitors. In response to the wear and tear on the trails from hundreds of thousands of people each year, over the summer the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park has undergone restorations, including improvements made to the Burney Falls Loop Trail, Burney Creek Trail and the Falls Overlook area. Visitors will enjoy improvements made to the Falls Loop Trail, a ¾ mile moderate one-way hike on the west side of Burney Creek, and the Burney Creek Trail, a 1.5-mile gentle one-way hike from Lake Britton to the base of Burney Falls. Contact: Karen Whitaker, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, (530) 365-7500, pr@shastacascade.org, www.shastacascade.com.

NORTH COAST

Humboldt Natural History Museum Is Reborn
Humboldt State University’s Natural History Museum will re-open to the public in late 2010 with a broader educational mission. The museum, which closed last year due to state budget cuts, is expanding its mission to help children explore math and science. The revamped facility will be managed by the Humboldt Science and Mathematics Center/Redwood Science Project. Its exhibits, popular with young children, include fossils that illustrate the evolution of life from the early Earth to the present day. There are live local animal exhibits, including a northern alligator lizard, western toads, Pacific tree frogs, Northwestern salamanders, rough skinned newts and a wide variety of tidepool organisms. There is a fossil dig box, three interactive computer kiosks, fossil touch shelves and Discovery Boxes. Contact: Richard Stenger, Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (707) 444-6634, press@redwoods.info. www.redwoods.info.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

The San Francisco Zoo Offers Rainforest Adventure
Grab your pith helmet and head to the San Francisco Zoo for a tropical rainforest journey. The San Francisco Zoological Society celebrated the opening of its Rainforest Adventure Maze exhibit September 19, which runs through January 15, 2011. The new interactive exhibit is located in the zoo's historic South American Aviary, which has been closed for construction. The exciting Rainforest Maze engages visitors in the story of the rainforest, reveals its incredible yet fragile biodiversity, while instilling a conservation ethic. The journey begins in the treetops surrounded by images of migratory birds and radiant sunlight. In an effort to reach the forest floor, visitors answer questions about the rainforest. Incorrect answers lead to dead ends, while correct answers lead them into the four layers of the rainforest: emergent, canopy, understory and forest floor. Visitors will have the chance to swing like spider monkeys, go on a rainforest scavenger hunt and discover a beetle that can carry over 850 times its own weight. Contact: San Francisco Zoo, (415) 753-7201, marketing@sfzoo.org, www.sfzoo.org.

“Bill Nye’s Climate Lab” at the Chabot Space & Science Center
“It all comes down to Earth” is the main theme of “Bill Nye’s Climate Lab,” a new permanent exhibition at Chabot Space & Science Center. This hands-on exhibition features air, water and land galleries exploring how climate change affects Earth’s interconnected systems, and how to use the sun, wind, land and water to generate clean energy. Two Bill Nye laboratories will feature innovative technology and design in transportation and the built environment. Visitors will have radio frequency ID badges, which they’ll use to gain knowledge throughout the exhibition and score points to become high ranking “Climate Scouts.” The experience will begin in a Clean Energy Space Station with views of Earth’s changing atmosphere, as visitors are released through portals to carry out their mission objectives to lower CO2 emissions on Earth. In various stations of the exhibition, visitors will travel into three galleries: Air, Land and Water. They will learn techniques to save energy at home, through transportation design challenges and learning the chemistry of water systems and the carbon cycle. The exhibition is highly interactive and fun, using Bill Nye’s brand of humor to impart vital knowledge about our climate. Contact: Visitor Information, Chabot Space & Science Center, (510) 336-7491, info@chabotspace.org, www.chabotspace.org.

Firehouse Arts Center Opens in Downtown Pleasanton
The Firehouse Arts Center opened its doors in the fall and kicked off a full season of entertainment programming and gallery exhibits to last through the winter months. This new arts and entertainment venue brings an added appeal to the region and provides a caliber of entertainment traditionally only found in major metropolitan cities. It’s an added jewel to the historic downtown Pleasanton area that will no doubt attract shoppers to the boutiques and patrons to the restaurants. The calendar is full every week with award-winning entertainers, including several holiday-themed performances. The historic fire station in downtown Pleasanton was built in 1929 with bricks from a local brick foundry. This premier cultural center features a 227-seat flexible studio theater, 2,000 square feet of versatile gallery space, two large art classrooms, and a spacious grand lobby for receptions and events. As a multiple-use facility, the Firehouse Arts Center will provide a broad range of arts programming opportunities. From musical and theater performances to lectures, films, comedy, youth performances, workshops and demonstrations, the facility will serve as a vibrant center for the arts for all segments of the community. Contact: Jane Onojafe, Firehouse Arts Center, (925) 931-4848, jonojafe@ci.pleasanton.ca.us, www.firehousearts.org.


GOLD COUNTRY

Wine Bike Tours in Murphys
There’s no better way to tour the vineyards near the charming town of Murphys than from the seat of a bicycle. As guests pedal past the gently rolling hills and pastoral vineyards of Calaveras County, they enjoy a refreshing sensory experience that simply cannot be achieved from a car. The group is led by GetOnYourMARK owner and cycling coach Shelley Marenka and provides the chance to visit wineries you otherwise might miss, and talk directly with the owners and winemakers. Each tour group enjoys a catered gourmet picnic lunch, served overlooking the vineyards or on the wine tasting grounds. The pace of the bike tours is catered to recreational cyclists. With a casual pace and frequent stops, the emphasis is on enjoying the scenery and having a great time with friends. Wine tasting and a gourmet lunch in historic Murphys follows the vineyard cycling adventure. Contact: Shelley Marenka, GetOnYourMARK, (209) 890-6244, getonyourmark@gmail.com, www.getonyourmark.com.

CENTRAL VALLEY

Delta Cruises from Stockton Marina
Stockton Yacht Charters, a family-owned business, has expanded operations to include the City of Stockton. The newly acquired vessel, Island Girl, is a luxurious 149-passenger motor yacht and is now based out of the Stockton Marina. Public and private cruises include a delicious champagne brunch, scenic lunch and sunset dinner cruises. On board is a full bar with liquor, wine, beer, sodas and juices. Stockton Yacht Charters also offers many themed events aboard the Island Girl, including Caribbean nights with live music and Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre shows. For local baseball and hockey fans, there will be special Meet the Players cruises.  Stockton's many waterfront festivals will include historical and scenic cruises aboard the Island Girl. Contact: Lori Variny, Stockton Yacht Charters, 209-639-4808, lori@stocktonyachtcharters.com, www.stocktonyachtcharters.com.

Davis Is Cooking up Something New
The Davis Farmers Market has a new vendor cooking up gourmet pizzas from locally sourced suppliers. The new Artisan Baking on Wheels project is a wood-fired pizza oven on wheels that sells pizza as a fundraiser for the Davis Farm to School Connection. The bakers are professionally trained by the San Francisco Baking institute. Local market products will be used to make the pizzas, including fresh produce, herbs and local artisanal cheeses. Contact: Tiffany Dozier, Yolo County Visitors Bureau, (530) 297-1900, tiffany@yolocvb.org, www.yolocvb.org.

HIGH SIERRA

What’s New at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort
Beginning skiers and riders will be able to ride to the top of Broadway, Sierra Resort’s easiest slope, this winter on two new carpet conveyor lifts. The carpets, which are a total of 700 feet long, will make getting up the beginner hill a breeze, so skiers and riders can focus their energy on learning to come down the mountain. The carpets are part of Sierra Resort’s expanded beginner terrain, called Easy Street, consisting of 11 total acres of sculpted smart terrain that helps improve the learning curve for beginners. The gently banked turns and shaped features naturally guide skiers and snowboarders into turns and stops so that they are able to learn the fundamentals of skiing and riding more quickly. The increase in beginner terrain and the two new carpets will give students more time and more room on the snow with their instructor, and are evidence of Sierra Resort’s commitment to being a great place to learn to ski or ride in Lake Tahoe. Blizzard Mountain will offer families a way to have fun in the snow with a rope tow accessible tubing lane and an expanded snow play and sledding area, all suitable for young children just starting to explore the outdoors in wintertime. The tubing lane takes the downhill experience beyond a day of sledding in the backyard, while the sledding and snow play area allows the littlest ones to explore at their own pace, build a snowman, construct a fort and just generally have fun in the snow. Blizzard Mountain will also offer easy access to the 3 miles of marked snowshoe trails that gently wind through the forest out to a wide-open vista point that is perfect for snow picnics, making snow angels or a game of snowshoe football. Contact: Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, (530) 659-7453, info@sierraattahoe.com, www.sierraattahoe.com.

2011 Senior Winter Challenge & Festival at Dodge Ridge
New this season, Dodge Ridge will host the Senior Winter Challenge & Festival, benefiting the Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County, Inc. This event is replacing the California Senior Winter Games held at Dodge Ridge in 2010. The goal of the 2011 Senior Winter Challenge & Festival is to bring about continual growth of the individual and community through winter sports for the purpose of building camaraderie, healthy lifestyles and community support. Additionally, the vision of this event is to broaden the scope of the games with event festivities to increase participant opportunities for the whole family. It all takes place February 24-27, 2011, with both competitive and non-competitive Alpine and Nordic races, an All-Mountain Adventure Challenge, wine tasting, live music, fireworks, brewfest and kids’ activities. Media and public contact: Amber Jenquin, Dodge Ridge Wintersports Area, (209) 965-3474, events@dodgeridge.com, www.dodgeridge.com.

Eastern Sierra Institute for Collaborative Education (ESICE) Releases CD
The Roadside Heritage® Project and ESICE have produced an audio program showcasing the cultural, natural and scientific heritage of the eastern Sierra Nevada. The program includes interviews with historians, scientists and long-time residents. This most recent CD release is currently available for free at museums, chambers of commerce, and visitor centers in Inyo and Mono County. The website, www.roadsideheritage.org, complements these efforts by offering free downloads of all the audio stories, as well as interactive topo maps of the region; science videos about obsidian, mineralogy and volcanoes; along with stories by local Native Americans and podcasts made by local students. Contact: Jan Rhoades, Eastern Sierra Institute for Collaborative Education, (760) 873-9855, jan@esice.org, www.esice.org.

What’s New in South Lake Tahoe this Winter
Kirkwood Mountain Resort zips into the new season with the ZipTahoe Treetop Canopy Tour, featuring eight lines with speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Also new is the High Alpine Adventure Center where guests can add old‐fashioned, horse‐drawn sleigh rides, throttle‐twisting snowmobile tours and evening snow cat tours, to the list of outdoor adventure options available at the resort. On-mountain upgrades to chairlifts provide a facelift to the resort’s existing lifts, along with new menu items at restaurants, and the construction of a new power facility slated for completion in 2011, which will deliver cleaner, more reliable energy to the resort and surrounding Kirkwood community. The resort’s new Day Care Dilemma Lift Ticket will be transferrable between parents hoping to split their time on the slopes and in the base area. Contact: Jenny Boyd, Weidinger PR, (775) 588-2412, jennifer@weidingerpr.com, www.weidingerpr.com

CENTRAL COAST

Town Center Gallery Has New Location
Visitors wanting to take home a piece of original art commemorating their visit to the Central Coast may choose from an abundance of works at the Town Center Gallery’s new location in downtown Santa Maria. Vineyards, coastline, rolling hills and agriculture are just some of the local subjects depicted in a range of media by Central Coast artists, some of which are nationally renowned. This non-profit cooperative gallery also maintains a satellite location of rotating exhibits at the Santa Maria Public Airport. Here, visitors waiting for a flight can drink in scenes of the Central Coast and even purchase a work as a souvenir if they so choose. The Town Center Gallery first opened its doors in 1984 as The Visual Arts Gallery. Now, in a new location 27 years later, the gallery continues to provide a place where regional artists of varied backgrounds can exhibit their work for the enrichment of the entire community. The gallery also offers scholarships and art classes for all ages, and visitors enjoy personally meeting the artists, some of whom work during gallery hours Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact: Hattie Stoddard, The Town Center Gallery, (805) 349-7303, thetowncentergallery@gmail.com, www.thetowncentergallery.com.

Santa Barbara Tasty Cupcake & Wine Tour
Santa Barbara Adventure Company paired two favorite treats to create a new, mouth-watering adventure: the Tasty Cupcake & Wine Tour. Guests tour the Santa Ynez Valley tasting wine, learning the difference between a pinot blanc and a pinot gris, as on a typical wine tour. But the icing on the cake is a stop at Enjoy Cupcakes in Solvang, where guests sample six miniature wine-infused cupcakes with incredible flavors, such as Pomegranate Mango Chardonnay and Chocolate Blackberry Syrah. The Cupcake tour is available Thursday through Sunday and includes wine tasting at three locations, cupcake tasting, shuttle service, deli lunch and a knowledgeable guide. Contact: Santa Barbara Adventure Co., (805) 884-9283, letsgo@sbadventureco.com, www.sbadventureco.com.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Santa Monica Place Open
Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Hugo Boss, Burberry and Kitson have moved to the beach. These famous retailers and others have a new home at the brand new Santa Monica Place Mall, which opened this summer. Santa Monica Place is an outdoor shopping haven with a beachside setting and ocean breezes, unique meetings and event space, stellar ocean-view dining on a rooftop deck, and more. This is where SoHo meets South Beach. Santa Monica Place is the fifth shopping haven in the city, joining Third Street Promenade, Main Street, Montana Avenue and Pico Boulevard – all shopping and entertainment destinations offering an eclectic mix of boutique and brand name delights. Contact: Kim Baker, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1-800-544-5319, kbaker@santamonica.com, www.santamonica.com.


ORANGE COUNTY

Surf City SCVNGR Debuts in Huntington Beach
The Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau developed this fun new way to discover Surf City USA by using your smart phone. Surf City SCVNGR is all about going places, completing challenges and earning points to unlock special badges and features, in addition to monthly prizes offered by Huntington Beach merchants. For instance, to earn points for the “Board Short Challenge” on your smart phone’s SVNGR application, go into one of the local surf shops, try on a pair of their newest board shorts, strike your best surfer pose and snap a picture. Then upload your picture to that challenge’s page and score some points – it’s that simple! Challenges can also be played by those without smart phones, using SMS text and picture messages. New challenges and prizes are being added monthly, so guests will have the opportunity to play the games differently each time. Contact: Madison Fisher, Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau, (714) 969-3492, madison@surfcityusa.com, www.surfcityusa.com.

DESERTS

Palm Springs Follies Opens All-New 20th Edition
This season, The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies celebrates its extraordinary 20th anniversary with a show entitled “Follies Forever!,” playing through May 15, 2011. This all-new edition commemorates the Follies’ two decades with more than four decades of America’s favorite music and dance. From doo-wop to disco, the stage of The Historic Plaza Theatre truly will be the Land of a Thousand Dances. As always, lavish production numbers, a holiday spectacular (through December 31), and a star-spangled finale are all performed by a cast old enough to remember the way it really was! Joining the Follies Man and his Legendary Line of Long-Legged Lovelies and Dapper Dans are three world-renown guest stars and a remarkable variety act, all making their Follies debut. Contact: Reservations Office, Palm Springs Follies, (760) 327-0225, info@psfollies.com, www.psfollies.com.

INLAND EMPIRE

What’s New in Rancho Cucamonga
From professional, family-friendly theater productions to live concerts and comedy shows, the Lewis Family Playhouse offers something for everyone. The playhouse kicks off its fifth season with the hits of 80s rock group Loverboy. Great concerts continue throughout the season, including the lovely Latin sounds of the Mariachi Divas; country swing with Asleep at the Wheel; memorable Irish melodies by Michael Londra in Celtic Yuletide; the smooth, silky voices of M-Pact; and holiday favorites by the world-renowned Glenn Miller Orchestra. Plus, two of the industry’s top jazz/pop vocalists, Diane Schuur and Bobby Caldwell, will come to town for Sing ‘N Swing! Family audiences are in for a treat as the MainStreet Theatre Company once again brings three fantastic, family-friendly shows, beginning with that lovable school-bound mouse in “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” followed by the charming and eccentric cupboard characters of “The Gingerbread Man,” and a sharp and spunky, red-headed darling in “Anne of Green Gables.” Each show offers a memorable story for the whole family that’s full of fun, fantasy and friendship. Contact:
Rancho Cucamonga Redevelopment Agency, 1-877-572-6246, visitus@cityofrc.us, www.rcdestinations.com.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY

Exhibitions at San Diego Natural History Museum
“Lizards & Snakes: Alive!,” an engaging exhibition that features more than 60 live lizards and snakes from five continents, opened at the San Diego Natural History Museum on October 16 and is on view through April 3, 2011. The exhibition introduces visitors to a diversity of squamates—the group that includes legged and legless lizards, including snakes. “Lizards & Snakes” showcases live animals and their remarkable adaptations, including projectile tongues, deadly venom, amazing camouflage, and sometimes surprising modes of locomotion. The exhibition is included with general admission to the museum. An international juried competition, “Best of Nature Photography Show,” will be on view in the Ordover Gallery through January 30, 2011. Traditional and digital photographic works, which range from landscape and wildlife images to abstract/impressionistic nature-based images, are represented in the show. Contact: Elizabeth Sayles, San Diego Natural History Museum, (619) 255-0192, esayles@sdnhm.org, www.sdnhm.org.

 
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