What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

The song lyrics say, "nobody walks in L.A," but everybody walks, bikes or skates in Redondo Beach. The following tour can be safely enjoyed by traveling on city streets or the South Bay Bicycle Trail and pedestrian walkway.

Redondo Beach Paddlers SMALLAnd some even paddle at Redondo Beach.

Sitting at the north end of Harbor Drive, the tour starts with the artist Wyland's famous mural depicting the California gray whale on the exterior wall of the AES powerplant building. The mural is one of the artist's largest and most extraordinary works. Don't forget to visit the S.E.A Laboratory and see local marine life close up. This highly regarded marine facility is free and open to the public.

Continuing south, walk, skate or bike to the Marinas in King Harbor. The four marinas may be accessed along Harbor Drive or through the main channel on the Pacific Ocean side. The marina area features a lively mix of ocean view restaurants, hotels, meeting facilities, and a variety of water sport attractions.

The tour continues with a stroll around the Redondo Beach Pier. The Pier became a popular tourist attraction in the early 20th century. Today, it is a popular fishing spot providing a splendid view of the Redondo Beach Harbor entrance. It is also host to many fine seafood and ethnic restaurants, a fresh fish market, gift shops and entertainment. And, just steps from the ocean is Veteran's Park, once the site of the glamorous Hotel Redondo, an architectural jewel of the 19th century. Today the park is a safe family destination with picnic facilities, play areas and ample parking. A colorful farmer's market is held on Thursday mornings.

South of the Pier to Vista del Mar is a broad walkway through a beautiful stretch of California state beach, with an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. Called "The Esplanade," it is frequented by all types of fitness fans and leads to the charming Riviera Village Shopping district. Located at the intersection of Avenue I and Catalina, extending to Palos Verdes Boulevard, the Riviera Village has the amenities and ambience of a Mediterranean beach resort. Visitors and residents gather each day at the outdoor cafes and browsing among the boutiques, antique shops and art galleries is invited. Heading north again, the South Bay Bicycle Trail originates at the South end of Redondo Beach and follows the scenic coastline of the Santa Monica Bay, 19 miles to Santa Monica.

There is easy access to rest stops along the way at neighboring beach cities and public restrooms are provided throughout the route. For more information about Redondo Beach go to www.visitredondo.com.

 

(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)

 

Editor's note: Links to the websites of hundreds of lodging and dining options in Los Angeles and Orange County are available at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

While known for the “summer camp” vibe of Guerneville and environs, Sonoma County has grown into agay guys picnic SMALL year-round gay and lesbian destination that mixes upscale wine country living with rural charm.

Less than 30 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County includes the rugged coast, the celebrated wine country, historic towns and quaint villages. Wine tasting is a top draw, as are spa getaways, sophisticated dining, world-class lodgings, golf and more.

Guerneville, along the Russian River, continues to be a hotspot for fun. The friendly town boasts gay and lesbian bars along its strip, as well as hotels, campgrounds and B&Bs.

Sonoma County offers great activities outside the Russian River area. Wine tasting at one of the more than 300 wineries is popular, as Sonoma County is known for its excellent wines and casual approach to enjoying them. Often the person offering you a taste of the wine is the winemaker herself.

 

Accommodations:

Just north of San Francisco, gay and gay-friendly accommodations abound. Luxury resorts like the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Doubletree Hotel Sonoma Wine Country, Applewood Inn, Gaige House Innand the Vintners Inn offer high-end amenities.

The Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa and Hilton Sonoma Wine Countryoffer centrally located convenience, and the Sheraton Sonoma County - Petaluma has its own marina. Bed & Breakfasts are found in scenic hamlets and the coast. In Guerneville, the Fern Grove Cottages, the Highlands Resort, the Woods Resort, and Russian River Resort are among the places to go. Monte Rio boasts gay-owned Village Inn and Rio Villa Beach Resort.

When hotels and resorts get full, cabin rentals are a good option. Accommodation information can be found at www.sonomacounty.com.

 

Activities

Wine Tasting: World-class wines that consistently garner awards sampled in a friendly, welcoming setting are common to the wine scene in Sonoma County.

 

Spas: Unique and luxurious spa experiences abound, with wine-country variations using locally grown products like wine, grapes, honey and more for facial and skin treatments.

 

Dining: Innovative cuisine meets a commitment to fine locally grown and produced products like cheeses, meats, wines, produce and more.

 

Coast: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed in Bodega Bay, but you don’t need to be a movie buff to enjoy fresh crab, great food and breathtaking scenery.

 

Redwoods: The Russian River is more than just gay bars and resorts, as towering redwoods offer quiet walks and cool relief from summer heat. Hiking, biking and kayaking are the order of the day.

 

Gay and Lesbian Events:

SFPride: One of the world’s largest pride parades and parties takes place less than 30 miles south of Sonoma County in San Francisco. Spend some time in Sonoma’s wineries, check out the Russian River resort area or just chill amongst the redwoods before and after Pride Weekend. www.sfpride.org. June.

 

Lazy Bear Weekend: For Bears and their fans, this week-long “weekend” celebration features nightly parties, campfires, river fun and more. Spread over multiple venues in the Russian River area. www.castrobear.com. August.

 

Russian River Food and Wine Fest: Celebrating the bounty of Sonoma County, the Food and Wine Fest is a seasonal highlight. Locally made artisan cheeses, chef demonstrations, cookbook signings and anything food related make this a must-see. www.russianriverfoodandwinefest.com. September.

 

Women’s Weekend: Hot pool parties, bumpin' night life, dancing, craft fair, dining, motorcycle run, auction, live music, camping, shows, contests, seminars. www.rrwomensweekend.com. May and September.

 

Air Connections

Direct flights to Wine Country from Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego (beginning June 5, 2012), and Seattle on Alaska Air. Nearby international airports are San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.

 

On the Web

www.sonomacounty.com is the official tourism website of the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau

http://inside-sonoma.com/glbt is Sonoma County's official gay travel blog.

www.gayrussianriver.com shows off everything gay in and around Guerneville and the Russian River

www.russianrivertravel.com is an excellent website for general Russian River travel information

www.gaysonoma.com is an online guide for news, events, personals, and local businesses

Follow @gaysonomacounty and @SonomaCoPride on Twitter for the most up-to-date event, activity and travel information.

 

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call (800) 576-6662.

 

(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)

 

Editor's note: Links to the websites of hundreds of lodging and dining options in Sonoma County and the rest of the North Coast can be found at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

 

Clay and Margarita Shannon have purchased High Valley Vineyard and will add that property and brand to their portfolio of Lake County wines. The eighty-acre vineyard lies adjacent to the Shannons’ home vineyard in the High Valley appellation of Lake County.

clay and margarita shannon SMALLMargarita and Clay Shannon“Margarita and I have admired this property for a long time,” says Clay Shannon. “The Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet are a great fit for our Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, and our flock of 1,000 sheep have always thought that the grass seemed just a little bit greener on the other side of that fence.” The vineyard will be renamed Betsy’s Vineyard, paying tribute to Clay Shannon’s mother, who passed away from cancer. “It’s nice to think that her memory will live on in this vineyard and wines,” Shannon says.

The High Valley Vineyard wines will be expanded into national distribution. “We really believe in Lake County and the quality that we can deliver in the bottle,” says Clay Shannon. “So purchasing this vineyard and these wines was just another way to confirm our commitment to the region.”

“As we take these wines into national distribution, we’ll dedicate a portion of the proceeds to fight cancer,” says Margarita Shannon. “That’s something very close to our hearts, and it has affected so many people. We want to do something to make a difference.” The Shannons also support Sponsoring Survivorship, a non-profit organization for women in Lake County struggling against breast cancer.

The portfolio of award-winning Shannon Ridge wines includes the Single Vineyard Collection and Ranch Collection, as well as affiliated brands Vigilance, Hillgate, Dos Brotos, Dalliance, Cross Springs, and now High Valley Vineyard. Shannon Ridge’s vineyards are certified sustainable, and are known for their woolly compost machines – a flock of 1,000 sheep, complete with shepherd and a team of highly trained sheepdogs. The sheep do an excellent job of canopy management and leaf removal, and pick the vineyard clean after harvest. They also manage the cover crop in the spring and work hard to reduce fire danger in the surrounding hills the remainder of the year.

About Shannon Ridge Family of WinesClay and Margarita Shannon are committed to preserving their land, not only for the great vineyard sites but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures which live there. Of the approximately 1,400 acres on the ranch, only about 35% have been converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for the wildlife which wanders through the property from the expansive wilderness area to the north and east. The vineyards were carefully planned out, leaving corridors open to migrating animals and protecting sensitive nesting areas.

 

Editor's note: Visitors to Lake County and other parts of the North Coast wine country will find links to the websites of wineries there, as well as hundreds of links to hundreds of lodging and dining options, at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

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