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On the Road with Nancy Brown: Spring Break—California Style

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown gives the scoop on what’s new in California this spring.

From Sonoma to San Diego, there are plenty of new things to see and do in the Golden State this spring break. Take your picture with R2D2 at Legoland California Resort, sip wine in Santa Barbara, or fly through the redwoods in Sonoma County on a zipline tour. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be exciting and in a place most-likely doused in sunshine this spring.

Ziplining in Sonoma

Photo by Serena RennerThere’s no need to go to Costa Rica when you can zipline through the ancient redwoods of Sonoma County. Originally created as a way to perform scientific research in remote jungles around the world, ziplines are now all the rage for the California adventure traveler and thrill-seeker.

At Sonoma Canopy Tours, 10 cables, 11 platforms, and a spiral staircase are spread across 160 acres of redwood forest. The highlight of the eco tour is an 800-foot zip into an old growth grove with some trees more than 700 years old. Test your fear of heights on the 175-foot-long sky bridge and say hi to “Walter,” the oldest tree in this Coastal Redwood forest.

Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Gets a Facelift

Now is the time to get misty at Bridal Veil Falls or hike Half Dome before the summer crowds descend on Yosemite National Park. Make a reservation, or at least stop in for a hot chocolate, at the grand Ahwahnee Hotel, which recently underwent its first major renovation since the 1940s. New York design agency Kollath-McCann updated guest rooms throughout the Ahwahnee with an English-Country look, complete with new carpet and fresh paint. Sixth floor suites have been completely upgraded to give the grand dame of national park lodges a fresh look.

Photo courtesy of Municipal WinemakersSanta Barbara Urban Wine Trail

What’s a wine lover to do with limited time and many wines to sample? Take the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, that's what, to taste some of the finest wines produced in Santa Barbara County, all within blocks of downtown and the beach.

Visit newcomers Municipal Winemakers and Kunin Wines, located between Channel Islands Surfboards and a scuba dive shop. The wineries share quarters in a former army barracks building. Two blocks away are Oreana Winery and Santa Barbara Winery. Oreana sits in a converted tire shop, while Santa Barbara Winery has earned the title of oldest winery in Santa Barbara. Looking for a little surf with your turf? Jaffurs not only produces great syrahs and viogniers, the winery is also industrial surfer chic, with surfboards decorating the walls.

Foodies Delight in Laguna Beach

How many quality restaurants can a nine-mile Southern California town support? Laguna Beach has so many that it needs a new foodie website to keep track of the more than seventy culinary treats in town. Renowned chefs from Café Zoolu, Eva's Caribbean Kitchen, Dizz's As Is, Mozambique, Tabu Grill, and Nirvana Grille, among others, even share recipes, cooking tips, and videos. The new website includes exclusive dining deals, a culinary events calendar, and a discussion boards for food fanatics.

Star Wars Meets Legoland

Do you know where Tattoine is located? Have you seen a Millennium Falcon? If you can answer yes to these questions, you should make The Millennium Falcon. Courtesy of Legoland California Resort.the trek to San Diego’s Legoland California Resort and blast off to Star Wars Miniland, starting March 31. Guests will experience scenes from the six science fiction movies, plus one from the animated series The Clone Wars. “You can take pictures with a life-sized Lego Darth Vader, Chubaka, or R2D2,” says Legoland’s Julie Estrada, “or take your picture with walkabout characters.” Whether you’re on the good side or the dark side, come down to the sunny side of California to visit Legoland this spring break.

To learn more about what’s happening in California this spring, check out the video below:


Where are you headed for spring break and why? Let us know in the comments below.


If You Go:

  • Legoland California Resort, legoland.com. For updates on the latest news at Legoland, follow the park at twitter.com/Legoland_CA. For more things to see and do in San Diego, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Buruea at sandiego.org.


A lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Nancy D. Brown grew up in Moraga. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Lafayette with her husband and teens. Nancy is the Uptake.com Travel Editor, writes the What a Trip blog and is a Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun columnist. Horse lovers will find her at writinghorseback.com. Follow Nancy on Twitter at twitter.com/Nancydbrown.