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Blue Whale Watching Getaways


That’s a typical “Sightings Report” from the Princess Monterey Whale Watching company. Each year from May through November, whales and dolphins are routinely spotted off the California coast, and so far this is one of the best years for sighting orcas, the big blues, and playful humpbacks in recent memory.

The only caveat is that they tend to feed far offshore, so you’ll need to hop on a whale watching boat to see them. So here are my picks on the best humpback and blue whale watching tour companies in Northern California.
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Top 5 Secret Adventures to Marin County


Spend some time in Marin County, at the “other” end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that the redwood-shaded, coastal hill country north of San Francisco has a ridiculous number of things to do. Miles of coastal wilderness and redwood forests to explore by foot or by bike, farm-to-table restaurants and artisan food-makers, charming towns, theaters and clubs where locals like Robin Williams, Carlos Santana, and George Lucas might be on stage or in the crowd—what’s not to love about Marin?

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3 Perfect Days in San Luis Obispo

3 Perfect Days in SLO

We always enjoy sharing a local’s perspective on California getaways. As seasoned travelers well know, a local’s insight is always the best. This one, written by our Guest Guru and longtime San Luis Obispo resident Kathleen Forster, is sure to inspire a visit to this Central Coast gem.

By Guest Guru Kathleen Forster
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West Hollywood & The Sunset Strip

West Hollywood

Donald Fagan had it right when he sang, “Drive west on Sunset to the sea…” in the famous Steely Dan tune Babylon Sisters. But only if a stay in West Hollywood is part of the journey. Officially founded in 1984 as the 84th city in Los Angeles County, West Hollywood is a young, vibrant community with a colorful and entertaining past. In WeHo, as the locals call it, you’ll find art, shopping, museums, music, dining and people watching at its absolute best.

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Matt’s Top Tips to Yosemite National Park

It always amazes me to meet people who’ve lived in California for years and have never been to Yosemite National Park. This national treasure is a wonderland of record-setting statistics: three of the world’s tallest waterfalls (Upper Yosemite Fall, Ribbon Fall, and Sentinel Fall); the tallest granite monolith in the world (El Capitan); and the world’s most recognizable mountain (Half Dome).

But trying to explain the majesty of Yosemite Valley in words is impossible; you simply must experience it firsthand, and early spring—when the wildflowers are going nuts—is the best time to visit. Here’s what you need to know…

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Your 3-Day Dream Getaway to Catalina Island

Mention to any Californian that you’re heading over to Catalina Island, and invariably you’ll get this response: “Ooh, I’ve always wanted to go to Catalina! It looks amazing!” Well, if you never been to Catalina (or it’s been ages since your last visit), now is definitely the best time to visit.

There’s so much to see and do, in such a beautiful and idyllic setting, that you’ll find yourself wondering what kept you away so long. Here’s everything you need to know for your 3-Day Dream Getaway to Catalina Island.

By Guest Guru Kim Sudhalter

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Two Perfect Days in Pacifica

pacifica-header California LocalGetaways.com

If you haven’t been to Pacifica in a while, you haven’t been to Pacifica. It’s changed. What was once the place you drove through to get somewhere else is now the place you want to visit. Over the past few years, Pacifica—a mere 15-minute drive south of San Francisco—has experienced an influx of seriously talented chefs, musicians, artists, and educators who have traded the hectic city life for the far more tranquil surroundings of this seaside community.

I recently spent a weekend here with some local friends who gave me the inside scoop on what to see and do, and I ended up being blown away by all the things Pacifica has to offer its visitors. Keep reading and you’ll see why Pacifica has become one of California’s newest (and most affordable) vacation destinations for families, lovers, foodies, adventurers, or anyone just looking for a relaxing seaside getaway. 

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Death Valley National Park

They call it Death Valley for a reason. Utterly inhuman, this scorching region of tortured rock, shifting dunes and fetid lakes is one of the hottest and most inhospitable regions in the world, an unnatural phenomenon so eerie it would make Hieronymous Bosch cringe with envy.

Which, of course, is all the more reason to come and see it for yourself, simply because there is no other place like it on the planet: a haunting, primordial enigma that is both fascinating to behold and troubling to the soul—a geologic car wreck if you may. But describing the surreal beauty of a desert is like talking dirty on the phone; you get the picture, but it’s never as good as the real thing. For that, you must come.

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Top 10 Travel Tips

I recently read a fantastic article in the Travel section of The New York Times on tips for travelers called “How the Tough Get Going” by Stephanie Rosenbloom. She interviewed a cadre of Bay Area travel gurus (criminally, not me) to glean their top tips for ameliorating many of the common inconveniences of traveling. So whether you’re a blue moon traveler or TripIt junky, there’s a tip here that’s going to make you mumble, “Doh! Why didn’t I think of that.” Tip: I recommend reading this next to your laptop—most everything mentioned below can be downloaded or purchased online.

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Bodie: California’s Most Authentic Ghost Town

“Good-bye God, I’m going to Bodie,” wrote a little girl whose family was moving to the most infamous Gold Rush boomtown in California. And if you think that’s creepy, what until you see what’s left of Bodie, one of the most authentic ghost towns in the entire West. Located about 20 miles northeast of Yosemite National Park, a road trip to see the legendary Bodie Ghost Town is the perfect excuse for taking a weekend getaway to the Eastern Sierra, which is ablaze with fall colors right now.

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