San Francisco's Japantown is a unique cultural opportunity. It's one of only a few Japantowns in the continental United States, along with those in Los Angeles and San Jose. It's small enough to make a fun little getaway and you'll find a couple of fun, Japanese-themed hotels to stay in, too. Plan your trip using the Japantown Getaway Planner.
Photo by dsletter_2000 at Flickr Under Attribution-NonCommercial License
A while back, we asked readers what they want to do most on their San Francisco vacation. These were the top responses
- Drive on the Coast Highway
- Side Trip to Monterey and Carmel
- Side Trip to Napa
If you want to know more, check all the results
By the end of May, the summer travel season will be in full swing, kicking off over Memorial Day weekend. These are some things I'm looking forward to before then:
- It's a sweet and bittersweet occasion, getting in one last stay at the Inn on Mt. Ada on Catalina Island, before they close for good this coming November.
- Yosemite's Tioga Pass often opens in May, which means I can get across the mountains to check out a few more of those great natural hot springs around Mammoth and Bridgeport. You can find this year's actual opening info at the Yosemite website.
- I am not looking forward to the onset of May Gray and June Gloom, a California weather pattern that brings cloudy, overcast skies and cool temperatures, caused by low altitude clouds pushed inland by the wind. On the positive side, it makes those sunny days all the more welcome.
If you plan to travel in California during the next year, you might be surprised by how early you need to make reservations for some campgrounds and by how fast some of the popular annual events sell out. To help you get ahead of the things you need to plan for, we've put together a monthly list. It's not the things can do this month, but the ones you need to make plans for now, even though they may not happen for months.
To find the things you should plan ahead for in April, see the California Travel Planning Guide.
Santa Cruz sits at the north end of the Monterey Bay and is home to the largest surviving oceanfront amusement park in California. It's a cozy town with a lively music scene, extraordinary natural beauty and a laid-back ambiance that makes it easy to relax. On summer weekends, Highway 17 going toward Santa Cruz is choked with cars heading for the beach, but the rest of the year, it's less crowded and more fun.
Plan your trip using the Santa Cruz Getaway Guide.
In case you missed them, these were the most popular things we posted in March:
Architect Julia Morgan is the first ever female American Institute of Architecture Gold Medalist. "Never mind that she died in 1956," says About.com's architecture expert Jackie Craven.
I think one of California's most interesting Morgan structures is William Randolph Hearst's Hacienda west of King City. That's it in the photo. Built before the castle, it's less ornate, but unlike that big place on the coast, it's a hotel where you can stay overnight. It's a big part of the Valley of the Oaks getaway.
Map maker Kelly Norton defines "pleasant" weather this way: Average temp 55° F to 75° F, lows above 45° F, and highs less than 85° F, with no significant precipitation or snow.
He analyzed 23 years' of data and made a list ranked by the number of days per year that a place met those criteria. Californians will be unsurprised at the top five: LA, San Diego, Oxnard, Simi Valley and San Francisco. Take a look at the averages for yourself:
See the rest of his list at Gizmodo.com
It's been a long time since I've posted any new photos of Alcatraz, but hopefully, these new ones will make up for the wait. To see what's new, click on over to the Alcatraz Image Gallery.
Last month, UCLA's Hammer Museum eliminated its admission fee - permanently, thanks to its longtime benefactors Erika J. Glazer and Brenda R. Potter. The museum features hundreds of lectures and - and it hosts cutting edge exhibitions like Made in L.A. and Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris 1880 to 1914.
Of course, it's not the only thing you can do for free in LA. and adding it makes it an even 10 Things To Do in Los Angeles for Free .