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genoa-lakes-golf-courseCarson Valley, Nevada is one of the few places where the night skies are lit up by stars; not neon lights!! The Magic of Carson Valley!

Make Carson Valley your next Rugged ∙ Relaxed ∙ Reachable retreat destination. With natural beauty, a laid back friendly atmosphere, historic exploration, authentic outdoor recreation, and a wide entertaining Nevada nightlife, Carson Valley will have you coming back for more.

MILES OF OPEN SPACE

Carson Valley rests at a crossroads of sorts. It sits at the transition between the Sierra Nevada range and the Great Basin, the West Coast and the Wild West, the high alpine and the high desert. The valley is guarded on the west by rugged 10,000-foot peaks, the same mountains that cradle Lake Tahoe. Northern Nevada’s most scenic valley is scattered with open space, golf courses, expansive farms and ranches, parks, shops and hotels. Your journey through the Carson Valley stretches from Genoa in the northwest through the towns of Gardnerville and Minden. The trip is paid off with the refreshing reward of Topaz Lake to the south.

GETTING AROUND

As you travel any of the three main roads into Carson Valley (U.S. Highway 395, State Route 88, or U.S. Highway 50), you will enjoy unspoiled views of the valley – surrounded on the east and west by mountains that are sometimes snow-capped year-round. The weather is pleasant and the area enjoys four distinct seasons, with temperatures commonly in the 80′s and 90′s during the summer and, typically, several inches of snow falling over the course of the winter. Topaz Lake, a 20-minute drive from Gardnerville and 30 minutes from Minden, is known for great fishing, boating, water-skiing, and wake-boarding. The lake (a reservoir) lies east of U.S. Highway 395 on the Nevada-California border. The scenic Pine Nut Mountains form a backdrop to the lake and nearby Topaz Lake Park. The south shore of Lake Tahoe, one of the world’s most famous alpine lakes, is just a 20-minute drive from Carson Valley.

HISTORY

John Reese settled Genoa, the oldest town in Nevada, in 1851. Within the main town square you’ll find Mormon Station State Historic Park, the Courthouse Museum of Genoa, and the Oldest Bar in Nevada. Within easy walking distance of any of the lodging establishments are boutique stores and shops, a general store, a winery, and restaurants, as well as an art gallery – all within the quiet, peaceful small town that is Genoa. Gardnerville got its start in 1879, when Lawrence Gilman purchased the Kent House and had it moved from its location south of Genoa to a seven-acre parcel of land on the east fork of the Carson River. There, near the site of what is today the J.T. Basque Bar and Dining Room, the building was converted to a hotel. A blacksmith shop and saloon were added. The hotel was the center of the hay- and grain-producing community that became Gardnerville, named for Gilman’s friend John Gardner.

H.F. Dangberg, Jr. established Minden in 1905 to fulfill his vision of a European-style planned community designed around a town square (Minden Park). Minden was named after a German town near the birthplace of Dangberg’s father, H.F. Dangberg, Sr., a pioneer in Carson Valley and founder of the Dangberg Land and Livestock Company. The V&T Railroad’s extension of a rail line to Carson Valley, with Minden as the terminus, was key to Dangberg’s plans for the town’s future. The railroad spurred the growth of Carson Valley into a hub of agriculture. Located in the heart of Douglas County, Nevada, Carson Valley has changed from a small farming community to one of the fastest-growing areas in Nevada.

familyAs for my itinerary, I experienced the JACOBS FAMILY Berry Farm, located on a 5 acre site in Gardnerville, Nevada, which is about 10 minutes from Carson City. Jack and Diana Jacobs, the owners, took us on an extensive tour of the property. This is a wonderful venue for weddings, dinner parties, large events, etc. There is a 4500 square foot

Four Seasons

How did four blue-collar kids become one of the greatest successes in pop music history? Find out at Broadway’s runaway smash-hit, Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2006 that takes you up the charts, across the country and behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. As Clive Barnes in the New York Post says, “It’s just too good to be true.” Discover the secret of a 40-year friendship: four blue-collar kids working their way from the streets of Newark to the heights of stardom. And experience electrifying performances of the golden greats that took these guys all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” “My Eyes Adored You,” and more. The New York Times says, “The crowd goes wild!” Vegas Magazine calls JERSEY BOYS  “The Must-See Show of the Year!”

Cast of Jersey Boys

The lights dim, the music starts, and right then and there you know you’re seeing a top-notch play with the layout of the stage and quality of the sound, as well as the costumes of the cast. There isn’t a bad seat at the beautiful Le Theatre Des Art, Paris Hotel.

I won’t spoil the show for you in case you haven’t seen it. But, it is the story of Frankie Valli and his rise to fame with his other members in the band.  What made Valli uncommon as a singer, especially while trying to carve a niche in those early days, was his stratospheric falsetto. Critics called Valli’s vocals everything from shrill to shrieking, but the falsetto remained his signature sound. His remarkable range allowed him to create expert harmonies, and the singer was amply able to hit high notes without his voice breaking. The cast, especially the actor/singer who played Frankie Valli, sounded so much like the original Frankie Valli, he was phenomenal. The play depicted almost every facet of Frankie Vallies life, from growing up as a young boy in Newark, New Jersey to his first band, then marriage, then stardom with the Four Seasons, and unfortunately tragedy. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sold over a 100 million records making them the most long lived and successful white doo wop group.
For information on tickets before they leave Las Vegas, go to click here or go to their website

IMG_5910The Hacienda Del Lago, Tahoe City, Ca.

We decided to check out the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, to see what it had to offer for dining. We went into the BoatWorks Mall at the Tahoe City Marina.  We came upon this wonderful restaurant, overlooking Lake Tahoe called, the ‘Hacienda Del Lago’ a mexican restaurant. We were greeted by one of the Partners, Eli Covell. Eli was very gracious and proud of his restaurant. The restaurant has been around for many years. The original owner is Joe Alanza, who’s been in the area for 40 years. He also owns, ‘Lanza’s italian restaurant‘ in Kings Beach.

To start off, my favorite was the margarita, ‘Eli’s margarita! made with chimayo, 100% IMG_5913agave tequilla with triple-sec, a splash of lime & a splash of sweet & sour. Or you might try the ‘Escalade‘ margarita, another favorite. We had a half order of the ‘guacamole‘ which was simply delicious. Then, we IMG_5916IMG_5919sampled an a la carte order of a ‘shrimp taco‘ and a ‘carnitas taco.’ I will tell you, that these are the most delicious and large, filling tacos you will ever have. For a main dish, I sampled the ‘El Grande’ dish, very reasonable in price, a combination dish of 3 items;  tacos,cheese enchilada, or chile rellenos. The guacamole and sauces are homemade. This is a very reasonably priced restaurant, considering it having views of the Lake, mountains and boats, you can’t go wrong with the Hacienda Del Lago. I could have stayed here all day as we sat near a window. Our waiter Josh was extremely good. By the way, Happy Hour is Monday – Friday from 4:30pm-6:00p.m.  You can make online reservations on their website at www. hacdellago.com. We will be back!!! IPA Magazine, highly recommends!

MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

mont-bleu-hotelAt the MontBleu Resort and Casino and Spa, you’re going to enjoy the best that civilization has to offer amidst the incomparable beauty of the surrounding Lake Tahoe area! Every comfort, luxury, and service awaits your pleasure here in this towering, magnificent resort.

Enjoy your pick from 437 luxurious hotel rooms; many of these rooms have a spectacular viewaccomm_sierra of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. Some of the larger suites are designed for entertaining and feature a living area with big screen TV, dining and wetbar. We found everything we could possibly need to enjoy Lake Tahoe at the MontBleu!

Now let’s talk about entertainment! The MontBleu has some of the biggest names in show business. My photographer and myself went to see ‘The Straits’, formerly the Dire Straits. What a fabulous showroom that took my breath away when I walked in. Escorted by the professional staff to my table, we were treated like Kings! Needless to say, the show that night, received a standing ovation. And, being a Recording Artist in my previous years, I appreciated the superb sound system and stage lighting that made the whole experience unforgettable! Other names that have appeared in this historical showroom are: America, Three Dog Night, Sinbad, Ray Charles, Richard Marx, Dean Martin, Cher, Tony Bennett, and at times, on the casino floor, you could have bumped into Michael Jordan, Randy Quade and Kenny Rogers.

IMG_5869The next night, we went to ‘Ciera Steak & Chophouse’, which is in the MontBleu and is LakeIMG_5870 Tahoe’s only Four Diamond Restaurant. It has won the 4 Diamond Award 2011-2014. When we entered the restaurant, the hostess took us to a private booth, all in red leather, that has drapes for you to close for your privacy! The service was impeccable. Our waiter Chris, has been with the restaurant since 1981. The Executive Chef, (shown here in the picture), has made all the difference in the cuisine. The food is exquisite in taste and will appeal to all of your taste buds. We started with a ‘lemon drop martini‘ and my photographer had a ‘pomegranate martini‘. For starters, we had ‘shrimp scampi‘, 4 large pieces of shrimp with a sauce that melts in your mouth. Also, a sample of the ‘lobster bisque’ soup, made with aged sherry, lobster medallion, and a touch of cognac. For dinner, we had the ‘Cowboy Rib-eye’ a 24oz. certified

IMG_5873IMG_5871angus beef, and the ‘New Zealand Rack of Lamb’, pistachio IMG_5872encrusted, served with pomegranate balsamic demi-glace sauce. The side dishes we sampled; creamed of fresh sauteed spinach, white truffle mac and cheese, and white cheddar scalloped potatoes, of which you could split the side orders. Then to top off this fabulous meal, we had a sample of their ‘Pina Colada Cheese cake’ and ‘Chocolate lava cake’, which was superb!

IMG_5863Don’t forget the amazing, Weekend Buffet at the MontBleu. On Fridays, it’s the ‘Seafood Buffet‘, all you can eat shrimp, fish, seafood of all kinds,crab for $19.99 and Saturday, ‘Prime Rib Buffet’ for the same price. It opens from 5p.m. – 9p.m.

We highly recommend staying at the MontBleu whether its Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall. You can’t go wrong with the MontBleu Resort, whether it’s fine dining, entertainment or just a suite with a gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe. For more information go to: www.montbleuresort.com.

FEATURED STORY – Summer vacation in Lake Tahoe, California; Where to play, stay and dine!

by Joseph Chandler

Some interesting history about Lake Tahoe…Lake Tahoe is the largest and most beautiful alpine lake in North America, as well as the second deepest lake in the U.S. The maximum depth is 1,645ft.

Lake Tahoe is a major tourist attraction for both Nevada and California. It’s home to numerous ski resorts, summer outdoor recreation, and is a major tourist attraction. The Nevada side also includes large casinos. Surrounding highways provide year-round access from Reno, Carson City, and Sacramento.

During the first half of the 20th century, development around the lake consisted of a few vacation homes. The post-World War II population and building boom, followed by construction of gambling casinos in the Nevada part of the basin during the mid-1950s, and completion of the interstate highway links for the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley, resulted in a dramatic increase in development within the basin. From 1960 to 1980, the permanent residential population increased from about 10,000 to greater than 50,000, and the summer population grew from about 10,000 to about 90,000.

WATER SPORTS

During late Spring to early Fall, the lake is popular for water sports and beach activities. The two cities most identified with the Lake Tahoe tourist area are South Lake Tahoe, California and the smaller Stateline; smaller centers on the northern shoreline include Tahoe City and Kings Beach.Boating is a primary activity in Tahoe in the summer. The lake is home to one of the most prestigious wooden boat shows in the country, the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, held every August. There are lake front restaurants all over the lake, most equipped with docks and buoys (See the restaurants section). There are all sorts of boating events, such as sailboat racing, firework shows over the lake, guided cruises, and more.

HIKING and BICYCLING

View from the Tahoe Rim Trail. There are hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails all around the lake. They range in length, difficulty and popularity. One of the most famous of Tahoe’s trails is the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile (270-km) trail that circumnavigates the lake. Directly to the west of the lake is the Granite Chief Wilderness, which provides great hiking and wilderness camping. Also, to the southwest is the very popular Desolation Wilderness. One of the most popular trailheads is the Eagle Lake Trailhead. The Flume Trail is one of Mountain Biking Magazine’s Top 10 Trails in the US. There are also several paved off-road bicycle path.

BEACON BAR and GRILL, at CAMP RICHARDSON

The Beacon Bar and Grill is a hot spot for all! It’s one of my favorite dining destinations at Camp Richardson located on the waters edge of South Lake Tahoe. Camp Richardson has an historic hotel, lakeside cabins, campsites and a large group home, The Richardson House.

There’s a marina, with inboard/outboard boat rentals, pontoon boats, sea doos and waverunners to entertain yourself and the family. At Beacon Grill, I had their famous drink, the ‘Rum-Runner’ made with select rums and a secret blend of passion fruit, pineapple & orange juice, so icy and refreshing it’s like an alcoholic slurpy and you just can’t stop at one!

Then, I had the ‘Deep fried calamari’ as starters. This is one of the BEST I’ve tasted in most restaurants. Super large strips that could easily feed 2 people. Then, we tried the ‘Philly cheese steak sandwich’~~take a look at this picture. Is that big enough for your tastes? I think so.

Don’t forget the chicken wings. The portions are really large, so you can easily share with someone or eat it all, whatever you so desire!

The Beacon has live entertainment on their deck during the summer months of July-August. This makes it one of the most sought after destinations on the lake! Locals are frequently seen docking their boats at the beach and heading into the restaurant for appetizers and a cocktail. What a way to live! Only at Lake Tahoe. Camp Richardson is a ‘must see’ in our opinion. You can visit the Beacon Bar and Grill at www.camprichardson.com

 

RUM-RUNNER CRUISE, Camp Richardson

20140619_154236-1Do you want something fun to do? This awesome Lake Tahoe boat cruise leaves every day during the summer months for a 1.5 hour cruise to Emerald Bay! Now when I say ‘Rum-Runner’ I need to explain something to you. This is a boat that holds up to 49 people, if you really want to pack it and you’re pampered with these icy, smooth drinks, that I thought are very affordable. Our captain, Neal Tlumac, who’s been doing this for years, cruises the boat in slow gear, over to Emerald Bay and takes you on a journey past Vikingsholm and then parked the yacht over an old sunken ship from the early 1900′s. Meanwhile, you find yourself conversing with others on the boat that are enjoying their vacation in Lake Tahoe. After a few rum-runner drinks, they share the reasons they come to Lake Tahoe every year. They all told me that Camp Richardson is their first destination, whether it’s dining or lodging or just listening to live music outside the Beacon Bar and Grill.

Enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, while sipping on the famous drink the ‘Rum-Runner’ or other alcoholic /non-alcoholic beverages that will surely make this a most memorable excursion! The ‘Rum-Runner’ begins and ends at the Camp Richardson Marina in beautiful Camp Richardson. Also, you can rent this yacht as a private charter and you can have catered items aboard the boat. You don’t even have to drive! Lots of fun! Call (530) 542-6570 to make your reservation or visit www.camprichardson.com for more info.20140619_154428

 

 

 

 

 

 

968 PARK SPA and RESORT

One of 16 hotels in North America certified ‘green’ by Ecorooms.com. A stylish andhotel room 968 Park Hotel modern hotel with a rustic feel.

Unique and one of a kind rooms! Some of the comforts include: keurig coffee makers in each room, sterling sleep system mattress, vessel sinks. There is an outdoor heated pool with cabana’s to relax with your coffee drink where you 968 Park Spa - Pub:lobbycan buy in the “Pub”located in the hotel lobby.Located just minutes away from Heavenly ski Village and from the Stateline Nevada Casinos! This is an affordable and sustainable hotel in a great location! A marina is within walking distance to rent boats, kayaks, etc. Visit them at www.968parkhotel.com or call (877) 544-0968 to make your hotel reservation.

 

LAKE TAHOE BEACH HOUSE RESTAURANT

On the California side of South Lake Tahoe, just minutes from the Casino’s off of Stateline Ave., I came across this cozy, outdoor restaurant that sits on the beach with a prime view of Lake Tahoe. The restaurant was renovated in June of 2012, per Brian Hunt, Manager. The food style is ‘Americana’. A very diverse menu; something for everyone! It is casual dining with some of the most memorable ‘SUNSET VIEWS’ that are spectacular!!

My photographer and I sampled a popular dish, ‘Garlic prawn skillet’ with a homemade chile sauce for starters. It had huge prawns and the sauce was outstanding! For the main course, I had the ‘Prosciutto and gruyere stuffed chicken breast’ with delicious grilled asparagus. My photographer totally enjoyed the ‘Salmon with a lime/coconut crust and coconut chile sauce’ with grilled vegetables on the side.

Check out these ‘desserts in a jar’! The entrée’s have very generous portions. I find the prices are reasonable for a restaurant that sits at the waters edge with spectacular views!! I love the atmosphere! Brian Hunt, Manager, is an excellent host. He strives to make your dining experience a memorable one. Brian has a passion for this restaurant and has helped create the menu items. Great job Brian! We will be back to the Lake Tahoe Beach House restaurant. You can visit them at www.beachhousetahoe.com . Brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 9-2p.m. Also, they hold wedding receptions and banquets from 40-125 people. Call for more information (530) 208-0182.

 

ANDERSON’S BIKE RENTAL, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

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The following day after the ‘Rum Runner Cruise’, we suggest you get over to Anderson’s Bike Rental and plan on a full day. Keeping in mind, you’ll be riding on a path, right past the ‘Beacon Bar and Grill’ restaurant. It’s a good halfway point to stop and have a nice lunch and/or a rum runner drink to ease your ride!! The Owners at Anderson’s Bike Rental were so kind and accommodating and also provided us with a map, much like our bicycle adventure in our previous article, ‘San Francisco to Fort Bragg.’ When you have the best bikes in town and are at the beginning of the forest bicycle trail, everyone wants to ride! Enjoy and take a tour of Tahoe’s most breath taking bike path through paved paths, through the national forest, down toward historical Camp Richardson and along the shores of the lake. We recommend you come and see why Anderson’s Bike Rental has been voted, ‘Best of Tahoe.’ Their bike paths will lead you and your family through the jewels of Lake Tahoe. Remember, Anderson’s Bike Rental was chosen by Tahoe’s Best as an Editor’s choice business in South Lake Tahoe!! For information on where to find them, visit their website at www.laketahoebikerental.com

 

SIERRA PIZZA COMPANY, South Lake Tahoe

l-8Everybody knows that when you stay in a hotel or motel, one of the first things that comes to mind is ordering a pizza whether it’s in your room for delivery or heading out to the nearest pizzeria to your location. So while in South Lake Tahoe, I stopped some people on the street and asked them their opinion of where I could find a good original homemade pizza. One of the best pizza places in South Lake Tahoe is ‘Sierra Pizza.’ I stopped in one night, not knowing what the experience would be like. First off, I spent some time with the owner who is about 29 years old, and a real entrepreneur! He took a lot of his time explaining the fresh ingredients they put into their specialty pizzas. I sampled ‘nutty chicken’ and ‘philly cheese‘ to name a few. These are original recipes created by the owner. One of a kind which you will not find these anywhere else in town!. The atmosphere is casual with a bar setting. A lot of locals flock in to get their favorite pizza and wings. The pizza is just that good!sierra-pizza

So, if you’ve spent most of your day hiking, biking, l-9boating, etc., don’t forget to stop by Sierra Pizza for a great pizza in the heart of South Lake Tahoe. Their website is: www.sierra-pizza.com/home and phone number (530) 541-0401. Be sure and watch their catchy you-tube’ video!! IPA Magazine highly recommends!

 NORTH SHORE LAKE TAHOE —dining and lodging destinations!

SUNNYSIDE RESTAURANT and LODGE

From the moment you enter Sunnyside, it gives you the feel of a beautiful country lodge!

I make it a point to go to Sunnyside when in Lake Tahoe. It was originally built in 1908 as a summer home to a wealthy Captain. Winston Churchill has stayed there, amongst other celebrities.It’s a one-of-a kind location on the pristine West Shore of Lake Tahoe combined with lakeside dining and warm, inviting guest rooms with full or partial views of the lake. It’s one of the few restaurants with a lodge on Lake Tahoe. If you’re looking for an active lodge with a family oriented environment, this lodge is for you! Sunnyside’s biggest attraction is their large deck for dining while enjoying some of the most spectacular views of the lake.

My photographer and I enjoyed sampling some of the ‘signature’ items on the menu. I recommend all of the below: For starters: French fried zucchini – a tradition since 1965. A huge portion and was so delicious! Main entrée: Northern Halibut – cooked to perfection! One of the best dishes on the menu.Kobe Burger – many of the guests enjoy this huge burger which will fill the bellies of anyone! Smoked Bacon Macaroni and cheese ~~ four cheeses, gemelli pasta, with a parmesan crust. For you macaroni and cheese lovers, this is awesome!! You can actually split this side dish.

Don, the manager, was kind and very accommodating. He greets all the guests and goes from table to table to make sure everything is perfect! Quite a few families come to Sunnyside each year to dine or stay at the lodge. You can visit Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge at www.sunnysidetahoe.com or call for more information on dining/lodging (530) 583-7200. We give Sunnyside a HUGE thumbs up!!!!

 

LANZA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, Kings Beach, Ca.

IMG_6148On my way to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, I stopped off at LANZA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT in IMG_6160Kings Beach, Ca. I had already experienced amazing mexican food at Joe Lanza’s other restaurant, ‘HACIENDA DEL LAGO’ in Tahoe City, so I couldn’t wait to try his original italian restaurant that’s been in his family for years!!!

This is a family style italian restaurant that reminds you of your youth, when the family would all be together and enjoy a wonderful italian meal with one another.

IMG_6159LANZA’S has huge portions, of which I saw most families absolutely taking carry out boxes. This restaurant is very busy all year round, so I’d recommend you getting there early. One of my favorites were the ‘stuffed shells‘ and the ‘ lasagna‘—- this tastes like it’s fresh from Italy!! As I write this article, I still remember smelling the food cooking as I pulled into the parking lot. It was one of those quiet moments; I just stood there and worked myself up before I walked in and actually started tasting what I was imagining. Let me tell you, I was in heaven!!! Please visit their website at: http://www.lanzastahoe.com

 

LOG CABIN CAFE, Kings Beach, Ca.

IMG_6165I could not believe this rare find. I had heard about this restaurant as being voted the BEST IMG_6175BREAKFAST establishment in North Lake Tahoe, so I had to try it. Not only that, this restaurant was featured on the ‘Rachel Ray’ show about 3 years ago!

Carmin and Joyce Bove have owned this restaurant since 1981. The exterior is a typical Lake Tahoe cabin and as you enter, it feels like home! It’s a knotty pine log cabin throughout and you can sit and wait in the upstairs waiting room with comfortable chairs. It is very charming. There was a waiting line a mile long. I was told from Emily, the IMG_6174manager, that you can actually call ahead and put your name on a waiting list. I experienced their ‘eggs benedict (cajun style)and the Arizona french toast. For those health minded people, this is an excellent choice as it’s made with awesome oats. Then, I had the ‘lemon poppy seed waffle’ with pure vermont maple syrup. It just doesn’t get much better than this folks!! They are open 7am – 2pm with breakfast as their specialty, however, you can also order lunch if you so desire! Please visit them on their website at: www.logcabinbreakfast.com or call at (530) 546-7109

SUN N’ SAND LODGE, Kings Beach,

shivani-phone-picturesI visited SUN N’ SAND LODGE in April, which was off season for Lake Tahoe. It isIMG_6137 under new management. I had the best room on the entire property. This room sits at the very end and is literally on the beach! Plus it has the most awesome window which you literally have a panoramic view of the beach which is right out your front door! There is a jacquizzi on site for those who want to relax and enjoy the ambiance! It is a smaller budget motel, that is very affordable and nice considering it is right on the beach! The room was furnished with a microwave, and small refrigerator. It is in a great location near grocery shopping, and you can connect with Hwy 267 to Truckee almost minutes away, which is one of my favorite destinations!!. Most of the rooms are all facing the beautiful Lake Tahoe with some type of view, so you can’t go wrong. Please contact them on their website at: http://www.sunandsandlodge.com for their Summer rates.

GRANLIBAKKEN TAHOE, Tahoe City, Ca.

In Norwegian, Granlibakken means “a hillside sheltered by fir trees.” This resort is truly a relaxing Lake Tahoe hideaway with a touch of European hospitality.

My photographer and I on assignment were warmly greeted by the Resort Manager, Kay Williams and the staff. We had a wonderful conversation with Kay on the history of Granlibakken and an overview of the resort. In 1947 the first ski-lift in the Lake Tahoe basin was called, ‘Olympic Hill’ and was at Granlibakken. In 1952, the Junior National Jumping races were held there and in 1960 the USA Olympic Ski Jumping team trained on Olympic Hill.

Today, it’s a grand resort. It’s known for its premier Conference Center which has dining, meeting rooms and exhibit space totaling over 16,000sqft., with conference rooms accommodating groups from 10 – 500 people. They host local Rotary meetings , weddings, to large international science seminars.

The setting is serenity and quiet nestled amongst the beautiful trees that grace the property. There is an Executive Lodge complex that holds up to 90 people. A retreat like setting with meeting space, accommodations and professional service.

So, what can you do at Granlibakken? Host a conference, stay in a cozy condo, townhouse or suite in the main lodge, enjoy a hot, all you can eat, breakfast buffet, have a wedding or family reunion, spa day, go sledding or swimming, soak in the hot tub, play tennis on their courts, take a hike or go for a bike ride.

A new addition to Granlibakken is the ‘Treetop Adventure Park’ that has zip lining with a challenging obstacle course. Fun for the whole family! It’s rated Lake Tahoe’s #1 adventure attraction.

Granlibakken is for everyone!! We will be back in the winter to enjoy the nearby skiing at Squaw Valley. For more information on lodging, visit www.granlibakken.com or call (877) 552-6325. You will love this charming place!!!!

 

 

HEAVENLY GONDOLA SIGHTSEEING TOUR

For those of you who like adventure, this is a ‘must do’!

The Gondola is located at Heavenly Village off Hwy 50 in South Lake Tahoe. Go 2.4 miles up the side of a mountain up to an elevation of 9,800ft. Along the way, enjoy stunning 360-degree views of Lake Tahoe, Nevada’s Carson Valley and Desolation Wilderness. Riders can hop off at an observation deck, located half way up, for even more spectacular sights. This is open June – September.Their contact number is (775) 586-7000.

Voted one of the top 3 things to do in Lake Tahoe on trip advisor…

 

ON OUR WAY TO VIRGINIA CITY IN NEVADA. ALL ABOARD THE V & T RAILROAD, VIRGINIA CITY!!

Looking for something fun and different to do with the whole family?

Only about 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe is the famous Wild West town of Virginia City. This is always one of my favorite destinations. There is so much history in just one street of this town!!

Take the V & T train ride across the valley, pass by 8 mines, and listen to a narrated historical tour. Various train tours are available.Visit their website at www.virginiatruckee.com

 

VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA – SOME HISTORY INFORMATION!

Once a vital settlement between Denver and San Francisco, Virginia City influenced the entire country. During its boomtime, Virginia City’s mining proceeds amounted to millions of dollars, equaling billions today. Every inch of this picturesque, Victorian-era town, celebrates this colorful history. Stroll our authentic board sidewalks to Old West saloons, shops, museums, and restaurants. Or visit historic churches, 19th century homes, public buildings, and quaint cemeteries. Maybe it’s a ride on a stagecoach, horse-drawn carriage, trolley, or the V&T Railroad steam engine train that crosses the high desert landscape dotted with old mines. Take your step back in time in Virginia City!

At its peak, Virginia City was a thriving, vibrant metropolis of 25,000 citizens. Silver and gold was buried deep beneath her streets and men and women traveled from around the world to live and work. Miners pulled millions of dollars from shafts and tunnels 3,000 feet beneath the city. The spirits of those Comstock “originals” still inhabit the places where they once worked, lived, worshiped, were educated, and died. Today, visitors to Virginia City can walk with these past residents in the shadow of Sun Mountain. Don’t forget to pack your passion and imagination for your step back in time.

 

THE VIRGINIA CITY JERKEY CO. VIRGINIA CITY

This BBQ place was a real find!! Met Bob, the owner and his daughter who were delightful! They have been there for 18 years. All the locals come there for the delicious BBQ and Bob’s special sauces!!! I had a tasting of their ‘tri-tip’ covered in mountain mahogany smoke. Then, had the ‘ribs’ made in apple/cherry wood BBQ. Unbelievable — so GOOD!!

 

All of Bob’sauces are shipped all over the country. I bought a bottle of BOB’S BEST ‘SMOKEY’ BBQ Sauce. I like this sauce so much I completely saturated my tri-tip and knew I’d have to take a bottle home with me! Call them for your order of world famous jerky also. (775) 847-7444. I will be back to visit for sure!

 

SAWDUST TRAILS, VIRGINIA CITY

Virginia City also has one of those old-fashioned ‘shooting galleries’~~~ this is BRAND NEW!!

 

Take yourself and your family for some ‘shooting’ gallery fun!!! Also, stroll through the store and look at the old collectibles and odds and ends. You could literally spend an hour in this store, just looking!!

 

 

 

THE VIRGINIA CITY HATMAKER

Looking to have your own, special hat made just like in the movies? Ever wanted Harrison Ford’s hat from ‘ Raider’s of the Lost Ark’? This is the place!! There was so much to learn from this sweet gal, I thoroughly enjoyed it! People from all over the world, even Australia have their special hats made here!!! Maybe you should too!!

 

Visit this shop at: 144 S C St, Virginia City, NV 89440 or call for your order at (775) 847-9214

 

 

 

 WINTER VACATION IN LAKE TAHOE ~~ Where to play, stay and dine!

IMG_5575

 

This article is a follow-up to my story entitled, ‘ Summer vacation in Lake Tahoe, Ca: where to play, stay and dine, which can be found in the ‘archives’ section of IPA Travels.

LAKE TAHOE is truly a winter playground to travelers from all over the world! Here is a small list of things to do: downhill skiing, snowboard, cross-country ski or snowshoe hikes, snowmobiling, ice skating, sledding or just sitting in your hotel with a warm cup of hot chocolate. For the nightlife, you may try the casinos and dining at the MontBleu, Harrah’s or Harvey’s hotel. Check out the entertainment venues which happen all year long.

This year on March 15, I was able to experience the homecoming parade of our (3) Olympic athletes, all from the small town of Meyers in South Lake Tahoe. Jamie Anderson, 23, won a gold medal in the women’s inaugural snowboard, slopestyle competition at Sochi, Russia. Maddie Bowman 20, won gold in the women’s freestyle skiing halfpipe competition and Hannah Teter, 27, was a 2006 gold medal and 2010 silver medal winner in snowboarding halfpipe. Hannah finished 4th at Sochi. Congratulations to our American athletes!

With all the activities, nightlife and venues for dining, I would think that no one should ever find themselves bored. Some of the ski resorts I visited while on location were of course, Heavenly Valley located in South Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley (located on the north shore of the lake) along with Northstar ski resort, located off of Hwy. 267 out of north Lake Tahoe towards Truckee. The new Ritz Carlton hotel, located in Truckee at the north end of the lake, backs up to the Northstar ski resort and you can literally ski right up to the lodge off the slopes (* this is termed a ‘ski-in and ski-out facility’). During the winter season, I highly recommend that you book your hotel or resort accommodations well in advance of your stay to be sure you can find a wonderful room at the hotels and resorts IPA Magazine recommends!! From the Reno, Nevada airport, in good conditions, it should only take you about 1 hour to get to the lake. If you find yourself renting a car, you should always carry chains or cables. Even though the temperature is typically around upper 30’s and 40’s during the day, it didn’t stop me from putting on my snowboots and going for a walk around the lake shore. One of the walks I recommend would be to start from the Beacon Bar and Grill ( that we mentioned inIMG_5566 IMG_5572our Summer review article found under ‘Archives’- I mention the Beacon again, because it’s a great place for dinner or their famous $5 Happy Hour;Mon-3-close, Tues-Fri 3:00p.m.-6:00p.m. and Sundays all day; even during the winter!!You can enjoy $5 Rum Runner drinks too!) I continued walking the shore West to Taylor Creek. This took us through the historical settlement of the Pope and Baldwin families with historical signs and landmarks to read along the way. They describe the early days of Lake Tahoe back to the 1800’s through the early 1900’s. There is still a foundation of the 1st casino built by the Baldwin family, called the ‘Tallac Casino’ that had 30 rooms.

The Ridge Resort, Stateline, Nevada

One of my first stops to relax for a few nights was the beautiful facility, the Ridge Resorts. I stayed at the ‘Ridge Tahoe’ in the Tower building, which is one of many buildings on the property. The Ridge Resorts includes: Ridge View, Ridge Crest and Ridge Pointe. Nestled on the Sierra Nevada Ridge above Lake Tahoe, with breathtaking views of the Carson Valley, this is a full-service resort offering year round luxury vacation rental accommodations for Vacation Club owners and the public as well. This is a wonderful facility for family vacations, or romantic getaways. There are deluxe hotel rooms and 1 or 2 bedroom condominium suites with full kitchens. I stayed in a 1 bedroom executive suite. This suite was quite spacious, with a large living room and dining room,and a beautiful kitchen with granite counter tops. It also had a very nice bedroom and lovely bath area. At the time, we got quite a bit of snow, so it was an extra special sight to see snow falling. A lot of skiers were there partaking in IMG_5832the new snowfall which was greatly desired for those ready to anxiously awaiting to hit the slopes!! They just put in the ‘Ridge Tahoe Skier Express’ which is a 2.5 minute ride, from start to finish. This takes you to the famous, “Heavenly Stagecoach skilift.” So, you walk out of the Lodge and jump on to the Skier Express~~~how great is that!! This facility is also open to the public to book your room reservation. In fact, there was a special on one of their rooms for $59.00/night at that time!! Some of the amenities you will experience are a Complimentary Health Club, Indoor Sports Complex, Outdoor/Indoor Swimming pools and Jacuzzis, Restaurant- ‘The Hungry Bear’, Deli, Market, Full-Service Spa. The Lake Tahoe casinos are within 5 miles of the resort and there is a Complimentary Shuttle service which takes you to the heart of the Lake Tahoe nightlife~~ no need to drive!! When I arrived, I was handed a pamphlet, that listed all of the activities for the week. Everything from the Spa, to movies for the kids, restaurants, indoor tennis activities, adult and teen activities, etc. You literally would never have to leave this resort! There is that much to do!! Visit them on their website at: www.ridgetahoeresort.com for information on reservations. This resort is open all year round, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

One of the activities that myself and my photographer thoroughly enjoyed was ‘An Evening With The Chef’ cooking class. This took place in the Clubhouse, upstairs at the ‘Hungry Bear’ restaurant at the Tahoe Ridge Resort. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Executive Chef, Stephan J. Moise, who conducted this class. He offered culinary tips and lessons, wine pairing, in-kitchen preparation of a 3-course meal and then we finished off with a ‘group’ dinner and wine prepared by Stephan. Executive Chef Stephan has quite an impressive resume. He was Executive Sous Chef at the famous, ‘Tavern on the Green’ in New York City, and worked for Tommy Hilfiger USA as a Corporate Executive Chef. He’s produced special winery dinners for up to 400 people in conjunction with Chalone Winery, Almaden Winery and Chateau Julien Winery. Need I say more! Stephan has a great way with people. As he professes that “food is my connection with people, my signature, a part of who I am. It comes from love, hard work and sacrifice. This is what I observed as a little boy; this is what I am as a man.” We were joined by a family of 4 from New York. They were lots of fun. Chef Stephan gave each one of us an apron and a special Lake Tahoe cooking cap to wear as we tasted, observed and laughed together!! The (3) courses were; 1) Thai chicken and Pineapple wraps, 2) Grilled River Trout with root vegetable hash and citrus butter, 3) Warm poached pear, with cinnamon ice cream, orange syrup, and macadamia nuts. Every item was cooked to perfection! If you think your Mom taught you everything you needed to know about cooking, think again! I learned so many tips that you will not hear from Mom or if you don’t have time to watch cooking classes on TV!! Chef Stephan prepared all (3) courses for us, as we were all seated at a table with a white tablecloth and roses at the end of the culinary class. This class is about 5 hours and includes the final sit down dinner. I highly recommend this class from IPA Magazine! You will NOT be disappointed. Salute!! Be sure to call for reservations. 775-588-3553. (The day, time and price may vary).

Beach Retreat and Lodge Tahoe/The Boathouse on the Pier, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

H_SunsetAs we entered our destination, ‘The Boathouse on the Pier“, a fine dining, very popular restaurant situated on the longest pier in Lake Tahoe, we were warmly greeted by Amanda Mason, Marketing & Events Manager. There is such a great atmosphere at this restaurant, as you sit at your table, you see the best sunsets on beautiful Lake Tahoe with a view of the entire lake. There is a small bar where you can take your drink and go outside for a lovely walk on the pier. Happy Hour is 7 days/week with drinks half off, as well as some food items. We had a delightful talk with Amanda as she discussed some of the new amenities and upgrades that will be taking place with the Beach Retreat and Lodge Tahoe (formerly Best Western).

IMG_5847I started off with a ‘lemon drop martini‘, an excellent blend of liqueurs, and served in a large glass, IIMG_5850 might add! I recommend for ‘starters’: crab cakes topped with mango salsa and drizzled with lemon aoli as well as the calamari. For your salad, I had the ‘roasted beet salad’, made with tri-color roasted beets, burrata cheese, charred green onion, fresh onions, drizzled with poppy seed vinaigrette. This salad was excellent! Then, for dinner, I sampled the ‘fish of the day’ which that night, was a potato crusted halibut, served over polenta, which was absolutely mouth watering. I also sampled the ‘pan seared jumbo scallops’ and chicken piccata’ which I highly recommend both of these entrees.

Just the week prior, Amanda told us of a ‘wedding’ ceremony on the Pier that she as the Events Manager planned. As soon as she said this, the newly married couple walked through the doors for dinner!! This is a very special venue for weddings, as the Beach Retreat and Lodge has over 262 rooms to house many guests. We at IPA Magazine, highly recommend this restaurant and lodging. Please contact them on their website at: www.tahoebeachretreat.com. For lodging, be sure to book your reservations at least 4 months in advance, especially with the upcoming ‘fireworks show’ July 4th!!! By the way, a new addition for you Summertime visitors, will be ‘Music on the Beach’ right near the Pier. Stay tuned!!

MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

mont-bleu-hotelAt the MontBleu Resort and Casino and Spa, you’re going to enjoy the best that civilization has to offer amidst the incomparable beauty of the surrounding Lake Tahoe area! Every comfort, luxury, and service awaits your pleasure here in this towering, magnificent resort.

Enjoy your pick from 437 luxurious hotel rooms; many of these rooms have a spectacular viewaccomm_sierra of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. Some of the larger suites are designed for entertaining and feature a living area with big screen TV, dining and wetbar. We found everything we could possibly need to enjoy Lake Tahoe at the MontBleu!

Now let’s talk about entertainment! The MontBleu has some of the biggest names in show business. My photographer and myself went to see ‘The Straits’, formerly the Dire Straits. What a fabulous showroom that took my breath away when I walked in. Escorted by the professional staff to my table, we were treated like Kings! Needless to say, the show that night, received a standing ovation. And, being a Recording Artist in my previous years, I appreciated the superb sound system and stage lighting that made the whole experience unforgettable! Other names that have appeared in this historical showroom are: America, Three Dog Night, Sinbad, Ray Charles, Richard Marx, Dean Martin, Cher, Tony Bennett, and at times, on the casino floor, you could have bumped into Michael Jordan, Randy Quade and Kenny Rogers.

IMG_5869The next night, we went to ‘Ciera Steak & Chophouse’, which is in the MontBleu and is LakeIMG_5870 Tahoe’s only Four Diamond Restaurant. It has won the 4 Diamond Award 2011-2014. When we entered the restaurant, the hostess took us to a private booth, all in red leather, that has drapes for you to close for your privacy! The service was impeccable. Our waiter Chris, has been with the restaurant since 1981. The Executive Chef, (shown here in the picture), has made all the difference in the cuisine. The food is exquisite in taste and will appeal to all of your taste buds. We started with a ‘lemon drop martini‘ and my photographer had a ‘pomegranate martini‘. For starters, we had ‘shrimp scampi‘, 4 large pieces of shrimp with a sauce that melts in your mouth. Also, a sample of the ‘lobster bisque’ soup, made with aged sherry, lobster medallion, and a touch of cognac. For dinner, we had the ‘Cowboy Rib-eye’ a 24oz. certified

IMG_5873IMG_5871angus beef, and the ‘New Zealand Rack of Lamb’, pistachio IMG_5872encrusted, served with pomegranate balsamic demi-glace sauce. The side dishes we sampled; creamed of fresh sauteed spinach, white truffle mac and cheese, and white cheddar scalloped potatoes, of which you could split the side orders. Then to top off this fabulous meal, we had a sample of their ‘Pina Colada Cheese cake’ and ‘Chocolate lava cake’, which was superb!

IMG_5863Don’t forget the amazing, Weekend Buffet at the MontBleu. On Fridays, it’s the ‘Seafood Buffet‘, all you can eat shrimp, fish, seafood of all kinds,crab for $19.99 and Saturday, ‘Prime Rib Buffet’ for the same price. It opens from 5p.m. – 9p.m.

We highly recommend staying at the MontBleu whether its Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall. You can’t go wrong with the MontBleu Resort, whether it’s fine dining, entertainment or just a suite with a gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe. For more information go to: www.montbleuresort.com.

 

IMG_5910The Hacienda Del Lago, Tahoe City, Ca.

We decided to check out the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, to see what it had to offer for dining. We went into the BoatWorks Mall at the Tahoe City Marina. We came upon this wonderful restaurant, overlooking Lake Tahoe called, the ‘Hacienda Del Lago’ a mexican restaurant. We were greeted by one of the Partners, Eli Covell. Eli was very gracious and proud of his restaurant. The restaurant has been around for many years and I can see why! The original owner is Joe Alanza, who’s been in the area for 40 years. He also owns, ‘Lanza’s italian restaurant‘ in Kings Beach. To start off, my favorite was the margarita, ‘Eli’s margarita! made with chimayo, 100% IMG_5913agave tequilla with triple-sec, a splash of lime & a splash of sweet & sour. Or you might try the ‘Escalade‘ margarita, another favorite. We had a half order of the ‘guacamole‘ which was simply delicious. Then, we IMG_5916IMG_5919sampled an a la carte order of a ‘shrimp taco‘ and a ‘carnitas taco.’ I will tell you, that these are the most delicious and large, filling tacos you will ever have. For a main dish, I sampled the ‘El Grande’ dish, very reasonable in price, a combination dish of 3 items; tacos,cheese enchilada and scrumptous chile rellenos. All of the guacamole and sauces are homemade. This is a very reasonably priced restaurant, considering it having views of the Lake, mountains and boats, you can’t go wrong with the Hacienda Del Lago. I could have stayed here all day as we sat at a window seat with a great view of the lake. Our waiter Josh was extremely good. By the way, Happy Hour is Monday – Friday from 4:30pm-6:00p.m. You can make online reservations on their website at www. hacdellago.com. We will be back!!! IPA Magazine, highly recommends!

Rubicon Pizza Bistro, Northstar Village, Truckee, Ca.

col3cRubicon Pizza Co. was established in 2007 and is the sister restaurant of Fireside Pizza Co.IMG_5638 in Squaw Valley, CA and Base Camp Pizza Co. in South Lake Tahoe, CA. They specialize in Californian styled pizza dishes but also brush the palette on a wide variety of pastas, salads, beers, wines, and desserts.

I met the manager, Stacey Alonzo who was very gracious. This is a great find! Rubicon Pizza is right near this ‘ice rink’, part of the Northstar Village in Truckee, Ca. Just like a winter wonderland you can watch kids through adults, ice skate, and drink hot chocolate!

We had samplings of the ‘beer battered parmesan garlic fries’, ‘lodge wings’, and check out IMG_5633

IMG_5635this ‘Rubicon’ pizza, made with pepperoni, italian sausage, roasted peppers, onions, portabella mushrooms. I sampled their ‘gouda mac and cheese with ham’ pasta and I can’t believe I could make room for dessert, but I’m glad I did. An out of the oven ‘chocolate chip cookie with ice cream.’ Everything here is so delicious. Many people have already discovered this awesome place. IPA Magazine highlyIMG_5636 recommends the ‘Rubicon Pizza Company’. I will be back!! Visit them on IMG_5639their website at: www.RubiconPizza.com. Take the ‘tram’ from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Truckee and it literally drops you off at the Village!!

 

 

Snowmobiling Tours

Snowmobiling at Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Cove Resort puts you on top of the world, with cruises over mountain meadows to peaks AramarkSnoMo-014_210x140nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. We have access to 45 miles of groomed trails where you can glide through towering pine and aspen, breathing in the fresh air and marvel at the amazing scenery. With our expertise and Lake Tahoe’s natural beauty, you’ll have an unforgettable tour, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned snowmobile enthusiast. Discover why Tahoe is the perfect place to ride with our fantastic Snowmobiling Tours.

You’ll tour in confidence with one of the largest snowmobile tour centers in the U.S., Zephyr Cove maintains a fleet of more than 90 current model Yamaha and Ski-Doo snowmobiles, to provide you with top-notch equipment. Every customer, single or double rider, rides a state-of-the-art touring machine offering superior performance and safety features.

Our expert guides, grooming equipment, and trail maintenance are second to none. Tours depart morning and afternoon, weather permitting, and include transportation, open-faced helmet, snowmobile and guide. Snowmobile clothing rental is also available. Visit this great facility on their website at: www.zephyrcove.com/snowmobiling.aspx.

themountain_ski1Lake Tahoe winter sports are one of the main reasons people visit the region between mid-November and April. Tahoe is one of the west coast’s most popular ski vacation areas. Snowfall in the surrounding mountains is the heaviest of any winter recreational area in the United States. Most winter visitors come for the downhill skiing and snowboarding, although cross country skiing and snowshoeing are growing in popularity. There are so many resorts nestled in the mountains around Lake Tahoe it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Lake Tahoe winter resorts can best be grouped by geography.

Heavenly Ski Resort is practically within the city limits of South Lake Tahoe, sits atop Monument Peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, and is the most conveniently located resort on the southern rim of the lake. There are vast numbers of hotels and lodging nearby. A gondola whisks visitors directly from town to peak. Kirkwood is about 35 miles south of South Lake Tahoe on Carson Pass, and Sierra-At-Tahoe in Twin Bridges is just 18 miles southwest of the city. Oh, and incidentally, in South Lake Tahoe, if you want a hotel, you should know that you can easily walk from the 3 Peaks Resort and Beach Club to the lake, the mountains (via the Heavenly Gondola), and the casinos.

heavenly_gondola_2Located one-half block west of California & Nevada Stateline, the gondola at Heavenly Mountain Resort is steps from family-friendly South Lake Tahoe hotels. The eight-passenger cabins take guests 2.4 miles up the mountain in 12 minutes while they enjoy views of Lake Tahoe. At the midway point of the gondola ride is The Deck – a 14,000 square foot mid-station observation platform which is located at 9,123 feet. This ride features views of the Carson Valley, Desolation Wilderness and shore-to-shore views of Lake Tahoe. During the Winter months, the gondola at Heavenly operates daily between 10:00am-4:00pm. Gondola Prices: Adults: $34; Teens: $26; Child: $20. Children under 4 are free. Ski, snowboard, zip line and tubing activities are available at an additional price. A Heavenly Gondola ride is a fun and scenic event for the whole family. Just a ‘heads up’…strollers aren’t allowed on the Heavenly Gondola. At the top of the gondola, enjoy lunch at the Adventure Peak Grill. If you’re heading up the mountain to ski or board, be sure to pick up a Daily Grooming Report to see which runs are groomed and ready for skiing and boarding.

Lake Tahoe snowshoeing is a great family activity that everyone from the youngest to the lt-snowshoeing02oldest can enjoy. Many of the winter resorts in the Lake Tahoe area have groomed trails, warming huts, and even cafes along the trails to refuel. Trails are often used by both snowshoers and cross-country skiers, so a certain amount of trail etiquette is necessary.

Modern snowshoes are fashioned from space age materials like polypropylene, are often solid (without the traditional lattice work), and have hinged heels called ascenders. Solid snowshoes? Yep! It turns out that in the real world of trekking across the snow the worry about snow covering, and weighting down, the snowshoe was groundless. It just doesn’t happen! Unlike skiers, snowshoers don’t wear ski boots (too heavy) but rather light hiking boots. Most snowshoers use poles similar to ski poles for balancing purposes.

If you’re staying at the 3 Peaks Resort and Beach Club, just steps away from the Heavenly Gondola, you’ll probably want to start out snowshoeing at the Heavenly Resort’s Adventure Peak where up to 4K of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails are available. There are even introductory class sessions for newbies. Sierra at Tahoe, located just 12 miles west of South Lake Tahoe, has a groomed three mile snowshoeing trail. Signs along the route describe local flora and wildlife.

Serious snowshoers, who want to cover a lot of territory, will find a tremendous number of trails throughout the Lake Tahoe region. Many of the hiking trails in the Tahoe National Forest are also open in the winter to cross-country skiers and snowshoers. On the South Shore the Echo Lakes Trail is fairly flat and an excellent starter trek for beginners. The Little Round Top trail takes snowshoers along a ridge providing almost continuous scenic views. The Mount Tallac climb is only recommended for those with considerable experience as the terrain rises 3,000 ft. in about 2.5 miles, a fairly steep slope requiring intimate familiarity with one’s snowshoes.

Comment from the Author:

“After thousands of comments and letters to the Editor, I’m sure it’s become obvious I’m calling Lake Tahoe, my second home and now am an official snowbird!! I find it’s just as easy to fly out of the Reno airport to cover our stories and articles as it is out of John Wayne airport in Orange County, Ca. I’ve been enjoying the clean air, the great hospitality of these people around the Lake and plan on future articles in the surrounding areas and wine country. Just in case you wanted to know!!!” .. Joseph Chandler

IMG_5869The next night, we went to ‘Ciera Steak & Chophouse’, which is in the MontBleu and is LakeIMG_5870 Tahoe’s only Four Diamond Restaurant. It has won the 4 Diamond Award  2011-2014. When we entered the restaurant, the hostess took us to a private booth, all in red leather, that has drapes for you to close for your privacy! The service was impeccable. Our waiter Chris, has been with the restaurant since 1981. The Executive Chef, (shown here in the picture), has made all the difference in the cuisine. The food is exquisite in taste and appeals to all of your taste levels. We started with a ‘lemon drop martini‘ and my photographer had a ‘pomegranate martini‘. For starters, we had ‘shrimp scampi‘, 4 large pieces of shrimp with a sauce that melts in your mouth. Also, a sample of the ‘lobster bisque’ soup, made with aged sherry, lobster medallion, and a touch of cognac. For dinner, we had the ‘Cowboy Rib-eye’ a 24oz. certified angus beef, and the ‘New Zealand Rack of Lamb’, pistachio IMG_5872IMG_5871IMG_5873encrusted, served with pomegranate balsamic demi-glace sauce. The side dishes we sampled; creamed of fresh sauteed spinach, white truffle mac and cheese, and white cheddar scalloped potatoes, of which you could split the side orders. Then to top off this fabulous meal, we had a sample of their ‘Pina Colada Cheese cake’ and ‘Chocolate lava cake’, which was superb!

IMG_5863Don’t forget the amazing, Weekend Buffet at the MontBleu. On Fridays, it’s the ‘Seafood Buffet‘, all you can eat shrimp, lobster, crab for $19.99 and Saturday, ‘Prime Rib Buffet’ for the same price. It opens at 5p.m. – 9p.m.

We highly recommend staying at the MontBleu whether its Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall. You can’t go wrong with the MontBleu Resort, whether it’s fine dining, entertainment or just a suite with a gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe. For more information go to:  www.montbleuresort.com.

 

Beach Retreat and Lodge Tahoe/The Boathouse, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

H_SunsetAs we entered our destination, ‘The Boathouse“, a fine dining, very popular restaurant situated on the longest pier in Lake Tahoe, we were warmly greeted by Amanda Mason, Marketing & Events Manager. There is such a great atmosphere at this restaurant, as you sit at your table, you see the best sunsets on beautiful Lake Tahoe with a view of the entire lake. There is a small bar where you can take your drink and go outside for a lovely walk on the pier. Happy Hour is 7 days/week with drinks half off, as well as some food items. We had a delightful talk with Amanda as she discussed some of the new amenities and upgrades that will be taking place with the Beach Retreat and Lodge Tahoe (formerly Best Western).

IMG_5847I started off with a ‘lemon drop martini‘, an excellent blend of liqueurs, and served in a large glass, IIMG_5850 might add! I recommend for ‘starters’: crab cakes topped with mango salsa and drizzled with lemon aoli as well as the calamari. For your salad, I had the ‘roasted beet salad’, made with tri-color roasted beets, burrata cheese, charred green onion, fresh onions, drizzled with poppy seed vinaigrette. This salad was excellent! Then, for dinner, I sampled the ‘fish of the day’ which that night, was a potato crusted halibut, served over polenta, which was absolutely mouth watering. I also sampled the ‘pan seared jumbo scallops’ and chicken piccata’ which I highly recommend both of these entrees.

Just the week prior, Amanda told us of  a ‘wedding’ ceremony on the Pier that she as the Events Manager planned. As soon as she said this, the newly married couple walked through the doors for dinner!! This is a very special venue for weddings, as the Beach Retreat and Lodge has over 262 rooms to house many guests. We at IPA Magazine, highly recommend this restaurant and lodging. Please contact them on their website at: www.tahoebeachretreat.com. Be sure to book your reservations at least 4 months in advance, especially with the upcoming ‘fireworks show’ July 4th!!! By the way, a new addition for you Summertime visitors, will be ‘Music on the Beach’ right near the Pier. Stay tuned!!

The cook, Nguyen and myself, debating over who’s the best cook!

The ‘onion volcano’ – Don’t try this at home!

Indulge in a feast for the senses at the world-famous Benihana in Las Vegas, the first name in exhibition-style, Japanese cuisine. An extravagant alternative to other Las Vegas restaurants, Benihana boasts hibachi tables, where a full-range of unique and traditional dishes are prepared to order nightly by masterful chefs. Enjoy appetizers such as fresh sushi, sashimi, and tekka-maki and exceptional entrées such as hibachi chicken, teriyaki steak, and filet mignon.

 

Nguyen cooking our meal

For starters, I had the ‘calamari tempura’. I ordered an entree from their ‘Specialties’ entrees. My entree was ‘Hibachi Supreme’ - 8.5 ounces of the finest center cut tenderloin, served with a cold water lobster tail sauteed with butter and lemon. All of the selections come with Benihana onion soup, Benihana salad, shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables, homemade dipping sauces & steamed rice, Japanese hot green tea and Haagen-Dazs ice cream or sorbet. My phtographer had the ‘Land ‘n Sea’ - tender filet mignon and sea scallops grilled in butter and lemon.

Everything was cooked to perfection. It was amazing how you could actually eat this much food and walk away feeling satisfied. I had the best time and Nguyen certainly made us smile with some of the ‘food entertainment’ he provided to all around the table!

inside Benihana

The LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Benihana surrounds guests with lush Japanese gardens, flowing ponds, exotic statuary, and an authentic Torri Arch. The fine restaurant also offers a variety of private dining rooms, which are appropriate for both family and corporate gatherings up to 100 guests!

I will be back to visit Benihana restaurant! Please go to their website www.benihana.com for a list of their locations.

 

GULLIVER’S RESTAURANT AT CHRISTMAS OR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR! Irvine, California

We were graciously greeted by Oded Mazor, the owner of Gulliver’s and were made to feel right at home as he does all of his customers. My first suggestion, if you’re going to order their world famous ‘prime rib’, would be to compliment it with a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon. It isn’t hard to find a restaurant serving prime rib and steak in Orange County, but how many can seat you at John Wayne’s favorite table? The charismatic screen legend was a frequent guest at Gulliver’s and it’s easy to see why. The portions are huge, the service is friendly, and most importantly, the beef is cooked to perfection.

Come to Gulliver’s and travel back in time to 18th century England. Escape from the stresses of the 21st century and enjoy a dining experience you’ll long remember.  Your English dining experience at Gulliver’s includes an experienced, gracious staff, a hearty meal and comfortable environment. Guests are surrounded by a veritable museum of leaded glass pieces, pewter and ceramic objects, and a collection of prints from Hogarth, Rowlandson and other Gulliver’s Travels illustrators.

Banquet room at Christmas

Dennis with Santa Claus

Then we asked Oded about the wonderful christmas decorations throughout the restaurant and bar area. He said their bartender, Dennis who has been with the restaurant for over 30 years, literally transforms the restaurant into a traditional ‘christmas village’ every year. Dennis has a real dedication and love for this restaurant, which is evident as he adorns Gulliver’s with the most fabulous authentic Christmas decor; including Old-fashioned Santa Clauses, extra large wreaths with beautiful red bows, Christmas villages under the tree. Per Dennis, it takes him almost 80 hours to perfect this amazing beauty which can not be found in any other restaurant in Orange County! This is a must see.

 

Prime Rib – Brobdingnagian cut

16oz. Prime New York Steak

The menu offers something for every taste, and lovers of Prime Rib will savor the choice cuts. Hand-selected beef (corn-belt) is slow roasted in a unique patented oven system to assure flavorful, tender and juicy Prime Rib dinners.  Three different cuts are offered:  Brobdingnagian, the biggest, best and bone in; Gulliver’s Prime Cut; and the thinly sliced Traditional English Cut. Other specialties include in-house aged Prime Steaks, Châteaubriand,  Salmon, Rack of Lamb, Baby Back Ribs and roasted Long Island Duck. Dinner accompaniments include hearty cream soups, freshly prepared salads, spinach souffle, Yorkshire pudding and Gulliver’s legendary creamed corn. I sampled the ‘prime rib’ which melted in my mouth. I was having a “heavenly dining moment”. ” It was done to perfection, and their horseradish sauce was perfect in every way.”

Filet mignon bruschetta, sauteed scallops, jumbo shrimp cocktail.

N.Y. style cheesecake

Lunch time regulars enjoy favorites like Shrimp and Crab Louie salad, Ahi Tuna salad and warm New York steak salad. The lunch menu also offers Fish and Chips, a variety of sandwiches, lunch cuts of Prime Rib and the Catch of the Day.  Daily lunch specials range from Roast Loin of Pork to Short Ribs and old fashioned Pot Roast. Whether you dine at Gulliver’s for lunch or dinner, be sure to leave room for one of the mouthwateringdesserts, freshly prepared in-house. The authentic English trifle is almost too beautiful to eat, filled with Devonshire cream, raspberries, layers of sponge cake, a sprinkle of rum and topped with whipped cream, strawberries and sherry. Equally tempting, the Baked Alaska, Bananas Foster, Raspberry Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Fantasy Cake will linger in your memory long after the last bite.

Gulliver’s lively Pub has long been a popular meeting place. Elbow up to the solid oak copper top bar for an ale on tap, or gather with friends on the new patio for appetizers and cocktails. Selections range from a Shrimp Martini Cocktail to Dungeness Crab Cakes and a Carpaccio Duet of Smoked Salmon, Tenderloin Beef and Capers served with horseradish and parmesan.

A wonderful place to dine for lunch and dinner. Please visit their website at www.gulliversrestaurant.com.

 

As we enter the Christmas season and holidays, some of the best places in Southern California to see, dine and/or experience are in this article; if you want the IPA Magazine opinion!

Glamour and music at the FASHION ISLAND CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING Newport Beach, California

This is just like being at Disneyland. The excitement level is rising; expectations are high as seen in the eyes of the beautiful little children, in their fashionable christmas outfits, who are standing up in their seats, patiently awaiting the big show! A 90 ft. tree adorns the plaza which has approximately 20,000 lights.Fashion Island has been a magical setting for the last 7 years, as a premiere venue for the annual Christmas Tree lighting which takes place in front of Bloomingdale’s, near Neiman Marcus. This year, Fashion Island officials expected 10,000 guests to attend the 2 nights of the tree lighting, Nov. 15 and 16th at 6 p.m.

Sam Rubin, KTLA Entertainment Reporter was the host of the evening festivities. Special appearances from Disneyland Ambassador, Megan Navarette, as well as, the famous Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the hosts of the Disney ceremonies. Did you know Mickey and Minnie are Disneyland’s ‘first couple’? Mickey and Minnie sang songs from Disneyland’s ‘Christmas Fantasy Parade’ which shows at the Disneyland Park in Anaheim. Then, ‘Goofy’ came on stage singing ‘Must Be Santa’. All of the children were in awe and clapping for their favorite Disney characters. Next, ‘Donald Duck’ did a medley of songs with the Disney singers/dancers, “Feliz Navidad”, “Dashing through the Snow’, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,”, among a few of the songs.

If you didn’t think this was over the top, the finale was a show stopper!! ‘Snow or bubbles’, came out the top of huge columns placed throughout the courtyard. Yes, instant snow and the feeling of Christmas beauty!!

Each year, there is a different theme and guest. A great start to the holiday season. Be sure to check the dates each year, as typically this is held 1-2 weeks prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. You don’t want to miss it!!A truly magical night. Many thanks to the Irvine Company who sponsored this event.

Go back in time to the good old days and visit JULIAN, California - great fun for the entire family!

The town of Historic Julian is always one of my favorite destinations. From Orange County, it takes a little over an hour driving, and from San Diego, it’s an hour east. Julian is an historic gold mining town. It’s the premier mountain retreat in the county and is unique in that it has 4 seasons. Also, it’s the B & B capital of Southern California, known for its romantic atmosphere, but it’s becoming a great destination for families, hikers, weddings and corporate retreats. Julian is famous for its apples and their ‘superb apple pie’, which when I was there, long lines were forming outside all of the pie houses, as people order their pies for the Holiday’s. Specialty shops line the streets. During Christmas, it’s truly a display of old fashioned christmas, reminiscent of years ago that you may have remembered. Walking the street, a horse drawn carriage goes by with a couple entranced with each other, enjoying the wonderful ambiance.

At the Julian Cider Mill, get yourself a warm fresh cup of homemade apple cider, piled high with whipped cream.The Cider Mill has been family owned and operated for over 30 years, with the Slaughter’s original ideals of low prices, family values, cleanliness, and excellent products still in practice today. The Mill is managed by Willis’s granddaughter, Sandra Moretti, and run by a friendly and knowledgable staff who are always ready to serve you. My favorite is the ‘Jalapeno Honey Mustard’, the garlic sesame strips and this year I tried the ‘Holiday Jam’, a blend of orange liqueur with a touch of pears and rasberries. This is a wonderful jam for all holiday parties.

It’s hard to decide what I like most about the JULIAN BREWING COMPANY & BAILEY’S BBQ!

JC,LC Adriana Rob with owner of Baileys BBQ JulianJust down the street, I noticed a line of people flowing out the door of this restaurant and out on to the sidewalk. So I went in to see what all the excitement was about. I squeezed my way up to the hostess and asked her “Is this place really that good”? She said “Absolutely.” When I mentioned I was with the magazine, she led me through the crowd of people back to the kitchen to meet the owner. This is where we went from completely hungry to seriously full!!

Vince Marsaglia, the Owner, was hospitable and proud of his restaurant. He showed us his BBQ brick wood pit where he stokes the fire to cook the meats above. Myself and associates were served a tasting tray of pulled pork, beef brisket, beef ribs and tri-tip but not before we tasted samples of 4 different kinds of beer. All of the meats are ‘mouth watering’ and so delicious. Then, we had sides of potato salad, cucumber salad, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese. Every item is freshly made each day. BBQ plates and sides have ample servings. Other menu items are: appetizers (nachos are awesome!), salads, sandwiches, kids meals and besides the BBQ, they have their own Brewing Company. Try the ‘Julian Brewing Co., Cedar Creek Honey beer’ – a nice blend of honey and lemon.

The prices are truly reasonable, especially for families. Service is excellent. It’s not gourmet, but it is comfort food, at it’s best. It could be considered a ‘gourmet BBQ’; at least many people I talked to were positive it was. Please visit them while in Julian or go to their website at: www.baileybbq.com. On certain nights and days they have live entertainment on their stage.

We could have stayed here all day, to tell you the truth, but we had to move on. I will be back whenever I visit Julian!

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Lots of comfort food and joy at MOM’S PIES JULIAN

For those of you apple pie lovers or that have a large sweet tooth, this is the place for you! Once again, drawn by the commotion of a line going out the door along the sidewalk ( note: I’m learning quick in this town, when there is a line out the door, there is something good to be had!) thank my lucky stars this time, I didn’t have to wait in this line and was ushered straight to the manager, Richard Bell. He told me to grab a table as quickly as possible. It took 15 minutes for one to come available. So, I suggest when you get here, if there’s more than one of you, split up and have one person wait to grab a table and the other person wait in line to put in your order.

I love their newest dessert, ‘Apple Dumpling’ – a whole apple is peeled and cored and mixed with nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, baked in a cream cheese and butter flakey crust on the outside. Simply delicious! As I was enjoying my dessert, I started to give the place a real good look and noticed in the kitchen, behind the counter were hundreds of pies packed in boxes ready to be shipped, sold or picked-up.

Everything we sampled; the apple boysenberry pie, apple pie, etc., are outstanding. For more information, go vist them or view their website at: www.momspiesjulian.com.

For more information on the wonderful town of Julian, please visit their website at www.julianca.com for the most updated information on upcoming events, tours, wineries, places to eat and lodging. This is a great place to come even for 1 day, especially during the Holiday season!!

One of the best restaurants is SUNDRIED TOMATO AMERICAN BISTROS & CATERING San Juan Capistrano, California

SUNDRIED TOMATO is one of the most popular cuisine’s in the historic downtown of San Juan Capistrano. It is known for its signature ‘Tomato Soup’. Per Ashley, the General Manager, besides the locals and surrounding cities, customers literally take the train from Los Angeles, arrive at the Train Depot, minutes to the restaurant, and specifically come for the ‘tomato soup’ or other entree’s. It is simply that delicious!

SUNDRIED TOMATO opened 20 years ago. Some of the ‘new’ changes to this location is a ‘patio.’ Happy hour is served both inside and outside the restaurant daily from 3-7pm. One of their biggest attractions is their Catering department. They have a large kitchen and staff to accommodate most events, including weddings, corporate events, or smaller parties. On Saturday night, they were doing 14 parties in one night, per Ashley.

Ashley, a very gracious host, started myself and associates with a sampling of the famous ‘tomato soup.’ This is so rich and creamy, I definitely understand why people come here just for the soup!! Then, following, were a sampling of starters, ‘crispy blackened chicken spring rolls with a honey-cilantro pesto sauce.’ The ‘honey-cilantro pesto sauce’ can be purchased in the restaurant. Absolutely delicious. We had a sampling of the mini ‘rustic jars’, roasted artichoke hummus, and sundried tomato, pesto and whipped goat cheese torte served with the most delicious flatbread. From the pasta section, we had samples of the ‘Blackened chicken over bowtie’ pasta. This dish has whole roasted garlic, red bell pepper, sundried tomato puree, gorgonzola, asiago, parmesan cheese. For you cheese lovers, this is the dish for you! This dish is a favorite of mine. Our evenings main dish was the ’6oz. prime filet Bacon-Wrapped Medallion’, made with blackberry sage brown butter. We were so full and satisfied, our stomachs would not even allow for dessert!!!! This is a very high quality, creative cuisine with exquisite menu items that will keep you coming back for more and more. SUNDRIED TOMATO has one other location in San Clemente in Talega. You must treat yourself and go to either the San Juan Capistrano or San Clemente location. Please visit their website at www.sundriedtomatocafe.com. During the Holiday season, receive 20% discount off of your dinner ticket if you attend a performance at the Camino Real Playhouse, located across the street.

Be sure to catch a Christmas play at CAMINO REAL PLAYHOUSE San Juan Capistrano, California

Since the early 1990s the Camino Real Playhouse has presented over 150 full scale theatrical productions including years of playwriting festivals, 30 shakespeare productions and the crowd pleasing old-west style Melodramas. Camino Real Playhouse has enhanced the lives of patrons and enriched the community with drama classes for both adults as well as children.

This years christmas season play was ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, a charming and captivating play. With all of the stage transitions done by the cast themselves in the dark, I felt this was done very well. Keeping in mind, that at some independent and small playhouses, you can often find yourself enduring a play that you wouldn’t have seen even for free. Not so here! For the last 3 years, I’ve made a point to swing by this playhouse at christmas and catch whatever play they’re showing. Last year, I saw, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ which had superb acting. You feel as though you are living that time period through the actors. The warm memories planted into your heart from each play, are well worth the minimal ticket price of $24.00. Wine can be purchased during intermission.

Also, if you attend a performance during the holiday season, there are participating restaurants that give a 20% discount if you show your ticket receipt. What a deal!! Visit their website at www.caminorealplayhouse.org for information on their 2013-2014 upcoming peformances and ticket information.

Treats and hot apple cider at the ST. REGIS MONARCH BEACH CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING Laguna Niguel, California

On Sunday night, December 1, the St. Regis Monarch Bay caroled in the holiday season with its annual Christmas tree lighting.This is a free event and open to the public. Festive treats, including cookies, fudge, brownies, hot cocoa and apple cider are free to the public and served at several stations around the grounds. The 2013 event featured Olympic gold medal volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, who served as MC for the night’s festivities.

Every year, the hotel is decorated throughout with wonderful christmas decorations, as well as the outside grounds. There is a different special guest each year. Be sure to get there early to find adequate parking. St. Regis Monarch is also noted for having a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration in one of their ballrooms with live music.This year, tickets can be purchased for just drinks and access to the party, or a dinner ticket allows you entrance and a full gourmet dinner. See their website at www.stregismb.com.

 

A magical Christmas at DISNEY RESORT AND DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK Anaheim, California

A must stop at Christmas, for you and the family and for those travelling to California, are both of the Disneyland Parks! Trust me, and do yourself a favor, get Park Hopper tickets so that you can enjoy both Parks, as they are equally enchanting. Each Park has their own unique shows and rides to experience. The above picture is from the newest show, ‘The World of Color’ which easily compares to the water fountain show at Bellgaio in Las Vegas. This can be seen nightly at the Disneyland California Adventure Park from Nov. 12 through Jan. 6, 2014 this year.

Explore 8 exciting lands that bring to life Disney and Pixar stories and characters through amazing attractions, entertainment and dining! The 2 most recent additions—Buena Vista Street and the awe-inspiring Cars Land—join the themed lands of Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier, Pacific Wharf, “a bug’s land” and Hollywood Land. With so much to do day and night, Disney California Adventure Park has something for every member of your family.

Buena Vista Street Unity Bell Ringers

Disneyland California Adventure Park – Santa Cruz pier and boardwalk.

the show ‘World of Color’ ferris wheel at night overlooking the fountain area.

Disneyland California Adventure Park christmas tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISNEYLAND PARK

Every yuletide holiday, Main Street, U.S.A.—Walt’s idyllic vision of the main thoroughfare of his childhood hometown—is transformed into an avenue aglow with seasonal splendor, and this year is no exception.

Festive garlands, cheerful wreaths and thousands of white and colored lights illuminate the night sky. A towering 60-foot Christmas tree, festooned with more than 70,000 lights and 2,000 custom-made ornaments, reaches for the sky while the smells of freshly made peanut brittle and fudge fill the air.

And what would the holidays at Disneyland Park be without music? Don’t miss the Main Street Carolers as they delight Guests with their tuneful renditions of classic Christmas carols accompanied by pealing handbells.

Then turn your attention toward Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle for the spellbinding Believe… In Holiday Magic fireworks spectacular, a fitting conclusion to a most magical evening.

Main Street, Disneyland christmas tree.

Prince and Princess in the Christmas Fantasy Parade

Disneyland’s ‘First Couple’, Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Disneyland ‘Castle’ lit for ‘Believe’ christmas show

 

 

 

 

 


Stroll on the boardwalk or view from a boat the Christmas lights at BALBOA ISLAND Newport Beach, California

As Newport Beach’s Christmas Card to the world, the boat parade will set the harbor ablaze for five consecutive nights, beginning Wednesday, December 18 and ending Sunday, December 22, 2013. The parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 pm and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00 pm each evening.

Beautiful multi-million dollar yachts, kayaks, canoes and other small boats will light up the harbor as a dazzling array of holiday lights and music fill the air at the Christmas Boat Parade. Many of the boats will be richly decorated with animated Christmas scenes accompanied by music and costumed carolers. Some boat owners in the past have spent over $50,000 to decorate their vessels for the event. The Christmas floats will wind their way some 14 miles around the harbor to give viewers in restaurants, yacht clubs, on public beaches, and in private homes an incredible sight that has delighted millions of people for a century.

The Christmas Boat Parade, which has been hailed as “one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation” by the New York Times, is truly a magical holiday tradition for all ages. The parade continues to be a premier event during the holiday season in Southern California that brings joy and happiness to all that view it.

RING OF LIGHTS, Newport Beach, California

Serving as the backdrop for the hundreds of lighted boats in the parade is the annual “Ring of Lights” contest, hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Beautifully decorated bayside homes and businesses surrounding the harbor go “all out” with their own holiday spirit, featuring everything from roof-top animated scenes to dancing Christmas trees. With its own judged categories and prizes awarded, the “Ring of Lights” has become as celebrated as the boat parade itself.

Award winning homes this year. The ‘Beary’ Christmas house on the left and look for the home with the ‘penguins’ on the right which had a fabulous light show. People walking with their hot cocoa in hand,stopping and gazing in amazement at these fantastically decorated homes. This reminds me of driving the neighborhoods with my parents several nights a week right before Christmas. After you’re done here, I would head over to Laguna Hills to a housing development called Nellie Gale and view their spectacular homes all decorated in lights.

Now, let’s get some BBQ over at Stoney’s place. His restaurant is called BBQ BALBOA at the Balboa Fun Zone, Newport Peninsula, California

This is my favorite spot to watch the Christmas boat parade go by and eat some amazing BBQ!! Prices are very reasonable with large portions! Every sample we had was ‘mouthwatering’….pulled pork, baby back ribs, southern brisket and the sides, BBQ beans ( best ever with a hint of brown sugar) and homemade potato salad (just like Mom used to make it). If you’re on Balboa Island, take the Ferry over to the Fun Zone. There is a ferris wheel, lots of boutique shops, and an Arcade. Fun for the whole family!

inside BARBIE-Q at the Balboa Fun Zone

Balboa Fun Zone

Ferry from Balboa Island to the Fun Zone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GULLIVER’S RESTAURANT AT CHRISTMAS OR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR! Irvine, California

We were graciously greeted by Oded Mazor, the owner of Gulliver’s and were made to feel right at home as he does all of his customers. My first suggestion, if you’re going to order their world famous ‘prime rib’, would be to compliment it with a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon. It isn’t hard to find a restaurant serving prime rib and steak in Orange County, but how many can seat you at John Wayne’s favorite table? The charismatic screen legend was a frequent guest at Gulliver’s and it’s easy to see why. The portions are huge, the service is friendly, and most importantly, the beef is cooked to perfection.

Come to Gulliver’s and travel back in time to 18th century England. Escape from the stresses of the 21st century and enjoy a dining experience you’ll long remember. Your English dining experience at Gulliver’s includes an experienced, gracious staff, a hearty meal and comfortable environment. Guests are surrounded by a veritable museum of leaded glass pieces, pewter and ceramic objects, and a collection of prints from Hogarth, Rowlandson and other Gulliver’s Travels illustrators.

Banquet room at Christmas

Dennis with Santa Claus

Then we asked Oded about the wonderful christmas decorations throughout the restaurant and bar area. He said their bartender, Dennis who has been with the restaurant for over 30 years, literally transforms the restaurant into a traditional ‘christmas village’ every year. Dennis has a real dedication and love for this restaurant, which is evident as he adorns Gulliver’s with the most fabulous authentic Christmas decor; including Old-fashioned Santa Clauses, extra large wreaths with beautiful red bows, Christmas villages under the tree. Per Dennis, it takes him almost 80 hours to perfect this amazing beauty which can not be found in any other restaurant in Orange County! This is a must see.

 

Prime Rib – Brobdingnagian cut

16oz. Prime New York Steak

The menu offers something for every taste, and lovers of Prime Rib will savor the choice cuts. Hand-selected beef (corn-belt) is slow roasted in a unique patented oven system to assure flavorful, tender and juicy Prime Rib dinners. Three different cuts are offered: Brobdingnagian, the biggest, best and bone in; Gulliver’s Prime Cut; and the thinly sliced Traditional English Cut. Other specialties include in-house aged Prime Steaks, Châteaubriand, Salmon, Rack of Lamb, Baby Back Ribs and roasted Long Island Duck. Dinner accompaniments include hearty cream soups, freshly prepared salads, spinach souffle, Yorkshire pudding and Gulliver’s legendary creamed corn. I sampled the ‘prime rib’ which melted in my mouth. I was having a “heavenly dining moment”. ” It was done to perfection, and their horseradish sauce was perfect in every way.”

Filet mignon bruschetta, sauteed scallops, jumbo shrimp cocktail.

N.Y. style cheesecake

Lunch time regulars enjoy favorites like Shrimp and Crab Louie salad, Ahi Tuna salad and warm New York steak salad. The lunch menu also offers Fish and Chips, a variety of sandwiches, lunch cuts of Prime Rib and the Catch of the Day. Daily lunch specials range from Roast Loin of Pork to Short Ribs and old fashioned Pot Roast. Whether you dine at Gulliver’s for lunch or dinner, be sure to leave room for one of the mouthwateringdesserts, freshly prepared in-house. The authentic English trifle is almost too beautiful to eat, filled with Devonshire cream, raspberries, layers of sponge cake, a sprinkle of rum and topped with whipped cream, strawberries and sherry. Equally tempting, the Baked Alaska, Bananas Foster, Raspberry Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Fantasy Cake will linger in your memory long after the last bite.

Gulliver’s lively Pub has long been a popular meeting place. Elbow up to the solid oak copper top bar for an ale on tap, or gather with friends on the new patio for appetizers and cocktails. Selections range from a Shrimp Martini Cocktail to Dungeness Crab Cakes and a Carpaccio Duet of Smoked Salmon, Tenderloin Beef and Capers served with horseradish and parmesan.

A wonderful place to dine for lunch and dinner. Please visit their website at www.gulliversrestaurant.com.

KNOTT’S BERRY FARM AT CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S EVE Buena Park, California

What I love about Knott’s Berry Farm, is that you can enjoy all of the Christmas festivities and decorations, while ushering in the New Year’s Eve with a warm wholesome environment for the whole family.

The countdown to the New Year is on at Knott’s Merry Farm! With special fireworks, live entertainment, and extended hours, plus Knott’s signature rides and attractions, Knott’s New Year’s Eve celebration is the place to ring in 2014.

Special one-night-only entertainment serves up family fun for a variety of ages and interests, including the Midnight Party on the Midway! Count down the New Year with music, stilt walkers, party hats, and noisemakers for everyone. And new this year, the Knott’s Sky Cabin, adorned with special lighting effects, will dramatically rise to the top of the “K” tower to count down the final moments of 2013. The cabin will reach the top at the stroke of midnight and the skies above Knott’s will be ablaze with colorful fireworks!There’s live entertainment everywhere you turn.

Adding to the line-up of can’t miss performers are:

  • Krazy Kirk & The Hillbillies! From the deep country hills of Anaheim, these boys will have toes tappin’ hands clappin’ and guts bustin’ during the best darn musical comedy show ever performed on the Wilderness Dance Hall stage.
  • The Reflexx, the ultimate 80’s party band, headlines the Calico Square Stage with a blast to the past of radical music from Depeche Mode, Flock of Seagulls, A-Ha, and more. And before The Reflexx take the stage, DJ REESSO spins popular high energy music in the Calico Square.
  • Comedy Magic of Dana Daniels will fill the Boardwalk Ballroom with uproarious laughter as he combines clean comedy, astounding magic, and a psychic parrot in his show.
  • Sharp Turn Ahead will headline the Camp Snoopy Theater with the up-and-coming teen duo’s fresh combination of energetic acoustic guitar and smooth keys, playing original tunes and covers of today’s pop hits.
  • Salsa Dancing with Louie Angon, DJ JC & Snoopy invite you to show off your dance moves at Fiesta Plaza and groove to the beat of this spicy music scene that’s Hot Hot Hot!
  • Party in the Dance Hall is home to boot scootin’ line dancing and two-stepping good times led by Dusty, the line dance caller on the Wilderness Dance Hall stage (between Krazy Kurk sets).
  • It’s Christmas, Snoopy will present encore performances into the evening. Join Snoopy and his pals as they skate their way through the joys of the Holiday season.
  • Snoopy’s Magical Nights of Lights features thousands of sparkling lights and holiday music throughout Camp Snoopy all night long, beginning at dusk.

 

My photographer and I headed over to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken restaurant. Even though there was a wait for this famous family chicken dinner meal, it was well worth it. When I looked at how much chicken was on the plate, I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to finish it. But after my first bite, I couldn’t stop. It was just that good. Served with delicious buttermilk bisquits, homemade style mashed potatoes and gravy, topped off with a slice of their boysenberry pie.
After more than 20 years, Knott’s Merry Farm’s Christmas Ice Show is now a holiday tradition in Southern California. This season’s offering, “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” features a cast of 11 professional skaters and is performed in the 2,100-seat Charles M. Schulz Theatre. The show is a feast for the eyes with dazzling sets and colorful costumes as Snoopy and his PEANUT friends take to the ice in search of the true meaning of Christmas! The thirty five minute show is filled with such traditional favorites as “White Christmas” as well as some pop favorites such as “I Want Candy.” The show also features clips from the animated feature “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” live doves and even “snow!”

New for 2013, the Ghost Town and Calico Railroad celebrates Christmas on Engine 41. Calico Steam Train is pulling out of the station and it’s time to gather your packages and experience a Calico Christmas! There’s a whole cast of characters ready to brighten your holidays with Christmas cheer and traveling adventures. Climb aboard a vintage railcar and meet an ever-changing group of Ghost Town residents eager to share their Christmas plans with you.

Knott’s Berry Farm was a great place to end the christmas season and to bring in the New Year! This was a fabulous fireworks show and it seemed to last forever.
To sum up this featured story about christmas season, I started the celebration on Nov. 15th with the tree lighting at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, and kept going and going to all of these events. I finally felt like I received my christmas season fulfillment without it racing by me and wondering where it went. Keep in mind that a lot of these events and times may change from year to year, but for the most part they are in place each year.