5 inches: Average rainfall in Portland in February. 40 degrees: Average temp in Portland last February. (That’s 45 excellent reasons for you to get out of town.)
Whether you’re a rooftop-restaurant kind of sun worshipper or a toes-in-the-sand traveler, we’ve put together can’t-miss itineraries for 10 hot spots sure to soothe even the most weather-wearied Portlander. Pick your dose of vitamin D!
An Idyllic Coastal City
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Housed within the country’s largest urban cultural center (Balboa Park), the San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres—nearly twice the size of the Oregon Zoo—and is one of the only places in the world where you can see a giant panda. TIP: Go early in the day when the zoo’s 4,000 animals are most active.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Trace the shoreline of San Diego’s ritziest northern neighborhood on a kayak tour of La Jolla. If the cliff-clinging mansions don’t leave you gape-mouthed, the sea caves and aquamarine waters filled with sea lions, dolphins, and schools of colorful fish certainly will.
ZEN MOMENT Spying the telltale spouts of migrating gray whales from your vantage atop Point Loma’s Sunset Cliffs. And with 18 acres of oceanfront bluff to choose from, you’re sure to commune with nature all on your own.
REST YOUR HEAD Kimpton Hotels—owners of Portland’s Vintage Plaza and Hotel Monaco—recently renovated the artsy Gaslamp Quarter’s Hotel Palomar into a den of modernism complete with plush pillow-top beds, a new gastro-lounge (Saltbox), and a sleek rooftop pool and bar. From $139
FOR LOVERS Once a location for Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot, the lavish 121-year-old Hotel del Coronado and its two miles of pristine shoreline across from downtown San Diego all but guarantee a steamy weekend. From $299
LA’s Hottest Beach Town
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL With its charming combination of beach-town grit and childlike wonderment, the Santa Monica Pier’s classic rides, carny games, and permit-free fishing make it well worth the visit. TIP: The towering, solar-powered Ferris wheel guarantees the best sunset views in town.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Sample the Golden Coast’s classic beaches on the 22-mile South Bay Bicycle Trail, a paved path that stretches from Pacific Palisades to Torrance. Be sure to catch your breath at Santa Monica State Beach, the perfect spot for sunbathing and bodysurfing—and maybe a little beach volleyball if your quads are still up for it.
FOR LOVERS The moment you walk into Mélisse, Santa Monica’s intimate bastion of fine French cooking, you’ll be treated like a dauphine. And as you tuck into the rich truffle mousses, delicate duck breasts, or even the vegetarian tasting menu, you’ll feel pretty damn regal yourself.
ZEN MOMENT Getting your hair blown back by 150-foot Escondido Falls’ powerful tumult. It’s more than two miles through Escondido Canyon to the deep pool at the falls’ base, so don’t forget your camera in the car.
RETAIL THERAPY Neither as touristy as the Third Street Promenade nor as funky as Venice, Main Street’s tree-lined sidewalks and quirky Victorian architecture evoke a quaint, small-town vibe—just two blocks from the ocean. Leave room in your suitcase for finds from shops like Deyermond Art & Books and Hip’tique boutique, where you’ll find everything from designer dresses to pillows telling you to “Be Nice Or Leave.”
EAT THIS Grab a seat on the newly opened Sonoma Wine Garden’s Pacific-peeping deck or its glowing patio. Then sample its Austrian pancake soufflé and eclectic wines like the Greek Assyrtiko Sigalas Santonni. Now try to leave.
REST YOUR HEAD A seashell’s throw from the Santa Monica Pier, Hotel Casa del Mar serves up some of the best views in town, along with some serious beach-club Hollywood glamour: floor-to-ceiling windows, a beachfront veranda, and a sprawling lounge with live music await. From $395
A Desert Oasis in More Ways Than One
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Climb up the Stratosphere tower, Vegas’s highest viewpoint, after dark, and behold the metropolis built on bets twinkling against the lightless desert. TIP: While you’re there, hop on the Insanity ride, a roller coaster that dangles off the side of the 1,149-foot tower.
FOR LOVERS In a city where romance can often mean plastic champagne glasses and Elvis chapels, the new Cosmopolitan Hotel, which stretches a quarter-mile off the Strip, has just what you need for a romantic getaway. Hide out in one of its beautiful, modern terrace suites, which has a full kitchen, a soaking tub, and even a two-person love seat on the spacious balcony overlooking the Strip. From $150
EAT THIS The Paris Hotel may have the Eiffel Tower, but for Vegas’s best French cuisine head to Joël Robuchon in the MGM Grand. Executive chef Claude Le Tohic prepares a rich six-course meal that will fill even the most ravenous Francophile, with signature dishes like le boeuf, a sublime and simple beef rib eye with rock salt and vegetable fricassee.
RETAIL THERAPY Even voracious shoppers may be overwhelmed at the Crystals at CityCenter, a 500,000-square-foot megachurch of consumerism completed in 2009 that houses upscale stores like Prada, Gucci, and Tiffany, as well as numerous art galleries.
REST YOUR HEAD The strip’s fanciest hotel just got swankier. With a recent $70 million overhaul under its well-heeled belt, and, of course, its iconic fountains, nowhere screams “decadent winter getaway” quite like the Bellagio Resort & Casino. From $159
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME The Neon Museum Boneyard showcases Vegas’s classier days. Wandering among its 150 signs salvaged from old, forgotten hotels, businesses, and casinos—some dating back as far as 1930—will make you long for the days when black ties and wingtips outnumbered T-shirts and sandals. By appointment only
ZEN MOMENT Breathe in the scent of yucca and Joshua trees on the 2.4-mile Arnight trail, which cuts through Red Rock Canyon. Just west of Vegas, this geological gem boasts over 50 miles of hiking trails along its sun-drenched auburn walls.Even Las Vegans will jump in front of developers’ bulldozers to protect it.
Hawaii’s Isle of Romance
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Snorkeling shots from Honolua Bay front many a Facebook photo album. Dedicated as a conservation district where no fishing is allowed, this large bay just north of Lahaina offers the best of Maui aquatic life. TIP: Go early to avoid crowds, and keep to the right (north) side of the bay, where fish flock to the coral.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Kihei’s Keawakapu Beach holds all the beauty of South Maui’s plentiful beaches—pillowy sand, gentle currents, cerulean water—but less of the crowds. No resorts sprawl along this half-mile stretch of shoreline, leaving the waterfront property to locals and visitors in the know.
ZEN MOMENT Watching the sun peek through a blanket of cotton-candy clouds and turn the sky into a watercolor canvas from 10,000 feet on Haleakalá. Catching a Hawaiian sunset is easy, but rousing at 3 a.m. to see the rays’ morning display takes dedication (and sleep deprivation). It’s worth every lost z.
EAT THIS Mama’s Fish House has been serving fresh fish (the menu details not just where supper came from but who caught it that day) from a secluded beach on Maui’s north shore since 1973. Planted among coconut trees, Polynesian-themed Mama’s is reminiscent of a Trader Vic’s … minus some of the kitsch.
REST YOUR HEAD Opened in 2009, the Honua Kai Resort and Spa, is the newest lodging option in idyllic Kaanapali. Elegantly appointed suites range from 600 to 2,650 square feet with glass paneled walls framing the turquoise Pacific just outside. Can’t bear to leave? You can buy one of your very own (for a mere $725,000). From $250
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME The 50 narrow, winding miles that lead from Kahalui to the remote village of Hána abound with waterfalls, black sand beaches, and breathtaking ocean views. Once there, dissolve lingering road weariness in Travaasa H?na’s steam room, hot tub, and cold plunge—free to guests.
Gateway to Wine Country
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL It’s a little spendy, but a meal at John Ash and Co is one you won’t forget. As one of the first restaurants to pair local and seasonal ingredients with the region’s world-famous wines, the quaint 32-year-old eatery is credited as “the father of wine country cuisine.”
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Santa Rosa’s scenery—and excellent wines—are best enjoyed from the comfort of a gel-padded saddle. Getaway Adventures leads Sip ’N Cycle bike tours, outfitting you with wheels and helmet. The leisurely five-hour tour takes you along country lanes to a few wineries—with a picnic lunch in between.
FOR LOVERS The Italianate villa is enchanting, and the impressive variety of wines is certainly tasty, but the real draw at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery is following the meandering footpaths through five acres of spectacular gardens, glass in hand.
RETAIL THERAPY Satisfy your antiques urge at Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square, where treasure hunters regularly score rustic finds at Whistlestop Antiques or rare Japanese collectibles at Green Fish Trading.
EAT THIS Zazu Restaurant & Farm feels like a little piece of Portland tucked away in wine country: Roadhouse vibe? Check. Menu sourced from the garden? Yup. Infatuation with all things pork-related? Obviously. zazurestaurant.com
REST YOUR HEAD Within walking distance of many restaurants and tasting rooms, the historic brick Hotel La Rose promises a cozy base of operations for oeno-explorations. From $109
ZEN MOMENT Quelling the butterflies at 1,000 feet, as you float in a hot air balloon above the lush vineyards, low green hills, and tiny farmhouses of Sonoma County. Up & Away Hot Air Ballooning offers scenic, hourlong flights that include a champagne brunch at a Kendall-Jackson Winery. Private flights for two are also available, so you won’t even have to share the airspace with strangers.
Surfing Mecca with Small-Town Charm
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Santa Cruz’s 98-year-old wooden pier juts a half-mile into the big blue ocean, but the wharf may as well be the center of town. Post up at the railing and drop a fishing line, or just revel in the grace of the myriad wave riders. TIP: This month, head three blocks east of the pier to sample the entries at the town’s 31st annual Clam Chowder cook-off.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE A two-mile multiuse path beginning near the wharf, West Cliff Drive takes you along some postcard-worthy views of the Pacific Ocean and local marine life. If the sea breeze, tide pools, and sun-soaked cliffs don’t make you forget about the Oregon rain, nothing will.
ZEN MOMENT After dipping your toes in the chilly Pacific, settle in at Chaminade, a luxury eco-spa nestled high on a forested bluff, where the waters are gentler and warmer. Soak in the steam room and heated outdoor pool, or revel in the signature warm bamboo massage.
EAT THIS Aquarius’s bright, elegant seaside kitchen emphasizes simplicity and freshness, like a ceviche made with local halibut, cilantro, and lime. And because all of the seafood is sustainably caught, you can savor your supper guilt-free.
REST YOUR HEAD Nothing beats waking up with the sun in your face, except also hearing the pounding of the surf. Take advantage of the off-season rates—and claim your own private beach—at Pajaro Dunes, a cluster of fully furnished vacation rental homes southeast of Santa Cruz, on a quiet stretch of sandy shoreline. From $687 for two nights (two-night minimum required)
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME Brave the “surfing capital of the world’s” pristine waves at Richard Schmidt Surf School, which has been giving private lessons year-round since 1978.
Conservation Meets Luxury off the Coast of LA
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL On the four-hour Land and Sea Tour, you’ll explore Catalina’s life aquatic and terrestrial, spotting eagles, bison, leopard sharks, and dolphins as you traverse the island. TIP: Upgrade your tour to include a stint in an open-air jeep with one of Catalina Island Conservancy’s naturalists.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Given the island’s deep history of conservation, one of the best places to soak up the sun (and take in the views) here is in the 38 acres of plant-laden grounds of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Gardens, where the temperate marine climate allows native plants like Catalina ironwood and St. Catherine’s lace to thrive.
RETAIL THERAPY New Orleans may be a far piece from Catalina, but you wouldn’t know it amid the charming Metropole Market Place, a French Quarter–inspired cobblestone district lined with boutiques, galleries, souvenir shops, and an arcade.
EAT THIS Sink your teeth into the juicy buffalo burger topped with smoked cheddar cheese, tomato aioli, and arugula at the Avalon Grille, a two-year-old beachside eatery where cushy wicker chairs just might inspire a postmeal nap. 310-510-7494
REST YOUR HEAD Hotel Vista Del Mar’s immaculate rooms and Jacuzzi tubs would feel indulgent anywhere, but with balconies looking out over Avalon’s clear-blue, boat-dotted harbor, you’ll feel positively spoiled rotten. From $116
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME One of the island’s best-kept secrets is Two Harbors. This isolated inlet has some of the best snorkeling and kayaking on Catalina. Rough it at a walk-in campground or cozy up at the Banning House Lodge, a Craftsman-style B&B.
FOR LOVERS Built in 1929 and restored in 2011, the Catalina Casino is a haven of Italian-inspired art deco style. Time-warp with a stroll down the brick boardwalk to catch a first-run move in the Casino’s ornate theater. 310-510-7400
Desert Decadence with a Splash of Hollywood Glamour
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Climb near 6,000 feet in 10 minutes aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Any vertigo will be assuaged by the jaw-dropping panorama at the top: the palm- and cactus-flecked Coachella Valley carving its way through the rocky San Bernardino and Santa Rosa Mountains. TIP: At the top, let the kids scratch a Jeffrey pine tree and breathe in the sweet smell of butterscotch.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE The stunning landscape—emerald-green fairways and perfectly pruned palms backdropped by the San Jacinto Mountains—along local favorite Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort’s two sunny courses is sure to keep your spirits soaring (even if your short game isn’t).
FOR LOVERS We dare you to not fall deeper in love at Korakia Pensione, a Moroccan-inspired oasis complete with firepit-lined pools, exquisite stone fireplaces, and—of course—white canvas curtains blowing in the desert breeze. From $189
EAT THIS At the newest entry in Palm Springs’ dining scene, downtown Lulu’s generous helpings of California cuisine, from quinoa stuffed acorn squash to sautéed tilapia, are guaranteed to keep you fueled up for your desert adventures.
REST YOUR HEAD Fashionable Portlanders will feel right at home in the affordable, 180-room Ace Hotel & Swim Club, an ode to midcentury chic. You won’t have Stumptown and Kenny and Zuke’s next door, but this Palm Springs cousin has something even better: two bustling outdoor pools and lounges. From $129
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME Take a tour of the town’s abundant midcentury modern architecture in style. Scoot Palm Springs rents scooters by the half day and provides tour maps to some of the city’s coolest residential wonders, such as renowned architect Richard Neutra’s seminal Kaufmann House.
A Classic Hawaiian Escape
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL A Hawaiian sunset on the beach is a must—whether you enjoy it at the popular Duke’s Bar, the historic Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar, or aboard one of the many catamarans dotting Waikiki Beach. TIP: Park yourself on the sand across the street from the Honolulu Zoo, and once the sun has taken its final bow, enjoy a free outdoor movie on a 30-foot screen (weekends only).
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE If Waikiki Beach is the tropical equivalent of Las Vegas’s strip, consider The Kahala Hotel & Resort its quieter, off-strip cousin. The luxe resort features 800 feet of secluded beach, free surfing and stand-up paddleboard lessons, plus its very own private dolphin lagoon. Jackpot. From $425
FOR LOVERS In case the surfers taming the monstrous waves at the North Shore’s Waimea Bay—the birthplace of big-wave surfing—don’t get your pulse racing, a romantic sunset cocktail at the stylish new Surfer bar at Turtle Bay Resort just up the road surely will.
EAT THIS Lauded chef Mark Noguchi (formerly of Honolulu’s Town and Chef Mavro restaurants) recently debuted Hèeia Kea Pier General Store & Deli in Kaneohe. The casual farm-to-table lunch spot’s menu features everything from fern salads to pork katsu and deep fried moi (all locally raised, of course). 808-235-2192
REST YOUR HEAD Open less than a year, the ultra-hip Modern Honolulu—just two blocks from Waikiki Beach—is the definition of lavish surfer cool. A Herbie Fletcher sculpture made from surfboards greets guests in the lobby, where a bookshelf rotates to reveal a swanky lounge at happy hour. Mix in ocean views, poolside chaises and an Iron Chef–led restaurant, and you could almost never leave. Almost. From $239
WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME See the other side of Diamond Head. The signature volcanic tuff dominates the southern view from Waikiki Beach, but few visitors make the near mile-long trek that rises from the floor of this 600,000-year-old crater.
Adventure Abounds on Hawaii’s Biggest Island
FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL Thirty miles from Hilo, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park holds two of the most active volcanoes in the world. After standing at the edge of Kilauea’s yawning crater, 194-degree steam rising steadily over dark, otherworldly lava fields, you’ll never see Mount St. Helens the same way. TIP: Splurge on a helicopter tour to get a better view of an island continually being born.
MAXIMUM EXPOSURE The Kohala coast brims with dozens of resort-backed beautiful beaches, but for a more intimate interlude with the ocean, head for Makalawena. A 20-minute hike across lava fields from Mahaiula beach in Kekaha Kai State Park, Makalawena’s mile-long stretch of bright sand sparkles against an azure sea.
ZEN MOMENT Staring out at the great blue beyond from the windswept cliffs at South Point (Ka Lae), the southernmost point of the US. Swirling currents coalesce at this spot, where Polynesians are thought to have first arrived in Hawaii—and where some dare-devils are still crazy enough to cliff-dive.
EAT THIS In 2010, former Fairmont Resort chef David Abrahams transformed Waimea’s once rowdy Fuji Mama’s into a culinary adventure. Set amid the fertile landscape of cattle-rich Waimea—a kind of high-altitude Willamette Valley—Red Water Café uses locally grown produce and meat in a fusion of Asian and country classics: from simple petite filets to sushi rolls made with fresh catches of the day.
REST YOUR HEAD Kona’s popular, centrally located King Kamehameha Hotel boasts the only sandy beach in downtown Kona. Last March’s Japan tsunami damaged the historic hotel, which was built on the site of King Kamehameha’s royal residence, but recently completed renovations have restored its 452 elegant, island-themed rooms. From $229
RETAIL THERAPY The Big Island is home to more than 200 varieties of tropical fruits. And you can find many of them—from custardy cherimoya to pretty, prickly, juicy dragon fruits—at the Kona Farmers Market.