Seattle readies new cruise facility

24424-resized_aerial.jpg


Seattle’s new cruise facility, recently named Smith Cove Cruise Terminal,
will open April 24, 2009. The facility is located at Pier 91, 15 minutes from
Seattle’s downtown core.

The new terminal provides two, 1,200-foot berths,
both equipped with shore power facilities that eliminate the need for vessels
to run their diesel engines while docked. This will create savings in fuel costs
for the cruise lines and translate into an environmental benefit of no air admissions
while docked.

The new terminal will serve as homeport for Holland America Line,
Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. The existing Bell Street Cruise
Terminal at Pier 66 will continue to serve Celebrity Cruise and Norwegian Cruise
Line.

During the 2009 cruise season, 211 vessels will dock
in Seattle with a projected passenger volume of 413,000. Cruise lines leaving
from Seattle offer seven and 14-day Alaska trips, as well as three- and four-day
cruises to British Columbia.

For more information on Smith Cove Cruise Terminal,
visit www.portseattle.org/seaport/cruise/
.

Mendocino Whale Festival set March 7, 8

Wine tasting and whale
watching will be the featured attractions of the 27th Annual Mendocino Whale
Festival March 7 and 8 in Mendocino.

Many wineries will set up tasting stations in inns, galleries and shops
throughout Mendocino
Village
and Little River,
while the area’s top chefs produce their favorite seafood chowders in a
tasting event. A marine mammal art exhibit, plein-air (live outdoor painting
demonstrations) and docent-led walks are all part of the two-day festival.

With some 20,000 gray whales migrating north from birthing grounds in Mexico to their winter home in Alaska,
there will be plenty of whales to view from the Mendocino
Headlands State
Park
, which surrounds Mendocino Village.

Major events include:

Wine Tasting in
Mendocino’s shops-Saturday only noon-4 p.m., $30. Register at Welcome Centers:
Crown Hall-Main St,
the Ford House-Main St. Event brochures, t-shirts and totes available. 21 &
over only
 
Chowder Tasting in Crown Hall, Saturday from 11 a.m.-till
the chowder runs out, $10. Crown Hall located at 45285 Ukiah St., Mendocino. T-shirts and
totes available during event.
 
Wh
ale Watching walks on the headlands and Gray Whale
Exhibit at the Ford House Visitor’s Center, Saturday and Sunday. Call 937-5397
for more information and hours Ford
House Visitor
Center
located on ocean
side of Main Street,
Mendocino.
 
Many
California State Parks activities at MacKerricher State Park,
Point Cabrillo Light Station, and Mendocino
Headlands State
Park
.

Jughandle Creek Nature Center on-site naturalist will set up guided whale
watching walks by reservations and will provide spotting scopes and educational
materials. Contact: Helene Chalfin, 964-4630 or email: jughandle@creek.org

Lighthouse Activities, Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse exhibits and
children’s activities on Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Includes tide pool
exhibit, lighthouse history, bird walks from Audubon Society, whale watching,
and a Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito rescue demonstration. Docents &
naturalists on hand. Parking $3
 
Plein-air
Artists in the Village Weather permitting! See local artists painting on
the Mendocino Headlands, Saturday
 
4th Annual M
arine Wildlife Exhibit at the Mendocino Art Center,
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Little Lake St.,
Mendocino. Call 937-5818 features nationally and locally honored marine
wildlife artists including the late JD Mayhew, designer of Whale Festival logo

Whale Watching Cruises from Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg all day both Saturday
and Sunday, call Chamber of Commerce for charter boat referrals, 707-961-6300
between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 9-3 on Saturday

Whale Watching by Horseback, call Chamber of Commerce for referrals, 707-961-6300
between 9-5 on weekdays, 9-3 on Saturday.
 
Comedian Stu Stuar
t is set to perform March 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. in the
Sequoia Room at North Coast Brewing Co. Tickets are $15 each and available at
the brewery.

Mardi Gras parades in San Diego

Party Mardi Gras style in the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego. This Gaslamp-wide outdoor
celebration includes two spectacular parades on Fifth Avenue and a
fabulous b

lock party featuring several stages with musical a

cts.

Enjoy
tasty treats, cold beverages and beads, beads, beads. This event goes
on rain or shine. This is a ticketed event for people 21 and up only. Proceeds benefit the Gaslamp Quarter Association.

24380-January - mardi gras.jpg

Event Information

Time: 6 p.m. to Midnight
Parade Times: 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (last approximately one hour each)
Route: 5th & E Street along 5th Avenue to 5th and K Street
Tickets:
Day of Event – $20 per person. Purchase tickets at entry gates at 6 p.m.
Advance tickets – $15 per person. Purchase online at http://www.gaslamp.org.
Dinner Packages – $30 per person. Includes dinner at one of many dining locations in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Club VIP Tickets – $40 per person. Enjoy exclusive amenities at ten nightclubs. Complete list of nightclubs at http://www.gaslamp.org/articles/special_events/mardi_gras.html 

Drop Zones for Taxis and Personal Rides
East side of event: 8th Avenue between G Street and Market Street
West side of event: Market Street between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue 

San Francisco joins Greenopia

The
San Francisco Convention
& Visitors Bureau
has formed a new
partnership with Greenopia, a consumer guide to green living. Visitors may use Greenopia’s Green Leaf ratings to make decisions
that reduce their impact on the environment. These ratings will be available
soon on the bureau’s green Web site,
www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/green.   

 

Greenopia has developed a
unique Green Leaf award system, which highlights the level of organic and
sustainable products that a company uses or sells. Greenopia rates each business
with one to four Green Leaf icons to demonstrate its level of environmental
commitment.  Businesses are given
clear, practical and attainable steps to improve their green practices.  There is no charge to receive a Green
Leaf rating.

 

The partnership between
Greenopia and the SFCVB will help encourage both businesses and consumers create
a greener San
Francisco
‘s visitor industry by increasing the number of
businesses with Green Leaf ratings, and by providing consumers with the
resources to help them find local green products and services. Greenopia rates
all kinds of businesses, everything from organic restaurants and grocery stores,
to eco-friendly dry cleaners, interior designers, green builders and home
furnishing stores – more than 50 categories in all. 

 

“The SFCVB’s partnership
with Greenopia will benefit visitors by giving them information about local
businesses that are committed to the environment.  It will benefit SFCVB members by
providing the means and motivation to ‘green’ their businesses.  And it helps the strengthen San Francisco‘s leadership
as a green destination,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the
SFCVB.

 

Visitors will soon find
SFCVB members and their Green Leaf ratings on the SFCVB’s green Web site,
www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/green

Flowers popping at Anza-Borrego

23740-AnzaBorregoDesertSP_flowers_3.jpgEarly
blooms of sand verbena, popcorn flower, spectacle pod, brittlebush, chuparosa,
and even the spectacular desert lily are popping up in Anza-Borrego Desert
State Park
.

 ”We anticipate the peak blooming season to hit between the third
week of February and the second week of March, depending on the
weather,” reports Michael Rodriques, the manager of the Park’s Visitor Center.  “For those who enjoy
the thrill of the hunt and would like to beat the crowds, right now is the
perfect time to visit.  Little pockets of wildflowers are being found
along roadsides, in sandy washes, and along trails in the Park.”

 

When the bloom reaches its peak, the
massive fields of wildflowers are found at the northern edge of Borrego Springs
on Henderson Canyon Road and at the northern end of DiGiorgio Road, about
mile beyond the end of the pavement. A great variety of wildflowers are found
along washes or in the canyons of the Park. An off-road trip through the
badlands, a hike up Borrego Palm Canyon
or a trip to Plum
Canyon
may yield a startling
array of wildflowers.

 Lower elevation areas in the
southern end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
are currently seeing flower blooms in areas such as the Carrizo Badlands
overlook at Sweeney Pass, the Bow Willow Campground, and Indian Valley

 Call the Wildflower Hotline
(760-767-4684) to get regularly updated information about this year’s
bloom. You can also visit Anza-Borrego
Desert State
Park
‘s website (http://parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=638)
or Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute’s website (www.theABF.org)
for wildflower sightings and locations that are updated weekly.

 If you plan to see
the desert wildflowers with a large group this spring, schedule a guided tour
with a naturalist who can take you to the lesser known hot spots in the Park.
Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute’s Step-On
Naturalist
program tailors trips especially for those visiting on
tour buses and in groups of 20 or more.

Avoid the crowds by venturing out
early with an expert to explore, learn about, and enjoy the vast wilderness of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
At the cost of $10 per person, you will gain the expertise of a botanist
specializing in plants of the Anza-Borrego
Desert
region. 
Contact Kelley Jorgensen at (760)767-4961 or visit www.theABF.org for more
information about this unique opportunity.

 Tours focus on a variety of topics
including geology, general botany, and prehistoric animals of the Anza-Borrego Desert.  Park naturalists lead half
day or full day tours which can be catered to the needs of your group. 
Tours of the Park’s distinctive Visitor Center
are also available.  If you need 4WD transportation for your trip,
consider a licensed Park tour with California
Overland
, who will take you on a special wildflower route through varied terrain in
open-air jeeps and excursion
vehicles. Call (760) 767-1232 or visit www.californiaoverland.com for
more information.

 Anza-Borrego Desert
State Park is California‘s
largest state park and is the largest state park in the contiguous United States
with more than 600,000 acres. It extends into three counties: San
Diego
, Imperial and Riverside.
From just above sea level to more than 6,000 feet, the Park has unique and
diverse landscapes and environments, and provides habitat for many endangered
and rare species including Peninsular bighorn sheep, least Bell‘s vireo, Borrego bedstraw and
Arizona Carlowrightia. Anza-Borrego
Desert State
Park
is the first State Park to develop a sister
park relationship across the world. Anza-Borrego
Desert State
Park
and Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia were officially recognized
as sister parks in September of 2008.

 

Downtown LA’s top 10 activities

Looking for a special idea for your favorite valentine? Here are a top 10 list of activities in downtown Los Angeles.


1.  Art Lovers:
Art lovers who are members of the Museum
of Contemporary Art
are
invited to attend an advance viewing of “Dan Graham: Beyond,” the
first North American survey of one of the foremost figures in contemporary art. 
Members are also invited to an opening party, with cash bar and music, starting
at 7 pm.  Not a member of MOCA? 

Visit the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Design (FIDM) museum, and take
advantage of this exclusive Valentines deal: free admission to The 17th Annual
Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition: Celebrating Costumes for the
Outstanding Films of 2008.  Museum goers will also receive a surprise gift
from the FIDM Museum Store.  If you feel inspired, take a stroll down Gallery
Row and build your art collection.

 

2.  Traditional
Romantics
: For only $2, take a stroll and smell the roses at the
L.A. Flower Market, and buy a bouquet of the freshest flowers in the
area.  Afraid to come across as stingy?  Head to the Jewelry
District, one of the greatest concentrations of jewelry retailers and
manufacturers in the nation (with some of the best deals), to peruse and
purchase a something sparkly for your lover. 

 

Noe Restaurant and Bar at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel is
offering a six-course menu for couples in the mood for amour, “La Vie De
Bohem,” at $120 a person (includes tax and tip); wine pairing is
available for an additional $60 per person (includes tax and tip.)  Or go
to The Restaurant at The Standard for a three course prix fix menu for dinner,
specially created by chef Yuji Iwasa, including a Champagne Toast, for $60.00
per person. 

 

3.  Musically
Inclined
  Options abound in Downtown L.A. for music
lovers.  Start at the new Grammy
Museum
, where you can
take advantage of this exclusive V-Day 2-for-1 deal for couples
($15).   If you want to stay nearby, head to Club Nokia to see
Babyface or to the Nokia Theatre to see Mijares Y Manoella Torres’ La
Gira Del Amor.  If you favor more classical music, plan on seeing pianist
Jean-Yves Thibaudet play Gershwin, or, with tickets only $10 – $20, the
Penderecki String Quartet at the REDCAT Gallery.   

 

4.  Aspiring Hipsters
If you’re too cool for school, there are plenty of hipster hangouts in
Downtown.  Let the bright lights at the Museum of Neon Art
illuminate your heart – student tickets are $5 and adult tickets are
$7.  Skip the traditional, and head to Provecho for tequila tasting (80+
different tequilas) – or for the Chef’s Valentine’s Day
Aphrodisiac Tasting Menu. 

Older souls and traditionalists can go to the Irish-infused Seven Grand to
sample some of the 125 whiskeys at the hand-carved, black walnut bar. 
Continue your conversations about little-known bands at The Edison, an
intriguing lounge that celebrates the era of invention and imagination with
beautiful architecture and a fantastic drink menu, or revisit oldie-but-goodie
Golden Gopher.  And if you’re not ready to end your night (or
morning), go with a classic: The Pantry never closes.

 

5. Dancing Queens:  If you’re goal for V-day
is to further woo your significant other with your moves, fear not.  Put
on your dancing shoes and feel the beat at any of these venues: Get steamy at
The Mayan on Tropical Saturday.  Dine and dance at The Congo Room -
Start with dinner at Boca restaurant and slide into an easy salsa beat while
the orchestra and DJ play to move both your heart and feet into
excitement.  The Rooftop at The Standard will be hosting “2009
Sweethearts Party” featuring DJ Rockwell from the ’87 Sick Up Kids’ &
‘Swimming with Sharks’ fame.  Celebrate with heart shaped Jello, champagne
specials for one, two, or three, and the best DJs to serenade the cupid in you.
(21+. 1-7pm).

 

If you’re not in love, but love to dance, Elevate, a
stylish lounge that feels like a high-rise penthouse, will be hosting an
exclusive singles party from 7:30 – 9.  The club opens to the public
with Champagne specials for bottle service
tables starting at 9.

 

6.  Fun Lovers: The Center Theatre Group is offering three
musicals: “Pippin,” “Minsky’” and “Taking
Over,” with tickets starting at $20.  Feeling lucky?  Head to
L.A. Live and Lucky Strike Lanes, an upscale bowling lounge with billiards,
DJ’s and private party space. 

After eating dinner and bowling a perfect score, see if you’re equally as
talented in the vocal arena by going to Little Tokyo for late night karaoke and
sake.  Be prepared for a romantic duet with your significant other. 
Or head to Takami Sushi and Robata Restaurant, located 21 floors above the
Financial District, for unparalleled views of Los Angeles’ own
jewels.  In honor of the day of lovers, Takami will be offering their
regular a la carte menu, as well as complimentary red roses for all of the
ladies.      

 

7.  Sports Lovers
Do couples that sweat together, stay together?  Find out at Sexy
Couple’s Boot Camp at the New
Vista Hermosa
Park
, for $20 per
couple.  A picnic lunch, tailored to what the couple wants and served
after boot camp, can be added for extra.  The L.A. Kings are playing at
the STAPLES Center; continue the excitement
afterwards at the ESPN Zone. 

For $225, guests at the Los Angeles Athletic Club can enjoy a deluxe room for
one night, dinner for two at The Plunge to enjoy the Synchronized Swimming
Valentine Dinner, breakfast for two in the Grill Room, complimentary parking
and Valentines amenities.  

 

8.  Spa Goers
The Hilton Checkers is offering a discount for two on 60-minute couples Be Well
Massages, regularly $320 for two, discounted to $255 (gratuity not
included).  The package includes complimentary aromatherapy and Herbal
Foot Care Cream, as well as a 15-minute Fresh Face Massage for Her and
15-minute Thermal Fusion Hair and Scalp Revitalizer for Him.  At Neihule
Salon, couples can enjoy a “Bed of Roses” manicure and pedicure
with champagne for $45 each, a “Say I Love You” brazilian waxing
with design for $65, and a Valentine’s Day Blow-dry Style and Make-up
Touch-up for $65.     

 

9. History and Culture
Enthusiasts
:  Check out L.A.
from a tour bus. Luckily, StarLine Tours is offering an exclusive deal of
2-for-1 tickets ($30).  Likewise, the Los Angeles Conservancy is offering
2-for-1 admission ($10) for any regularly scheduled walking tour on Feb.
14.  (Reserve in advance, using discount code DCBID09). 

Discover Japanese history at the Japanese
American National
Museum, or explore “the birth
place of Los Angeles,”
Olvera Street
/ El Pueblo Historic Monument. If you just want to try something new, the
Millennium Biltmore is offering a Moroccan-themed dinner packages and live
belly dancers, starting at $120 per person for a regular table or $400 per
couple for a cabana table, bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne and open bar
during dinner.      

 

10. Pet Lovers
So you’ve found someone that loves you and
dogs?  Celebrate by planning an outing that includes your
pets.  Enjoy a long stroll at The Cornfield (http://www.notacornfield.com/) or at Vista Hermosa
Park
.  Or spend the
day pampering your pets at Bark
Avenue
: spa treatment for dogs and cats includes
grooming, mani/pedi and massage, and the first 15 appointments booked for Feb.
14 receive a 20% discount.  For a purr-fect Valentines Day gift,
commemorate your relationship with that special cat or dog with a commissioned
portrait session by Sonia Paulino for $150. 

Is it just you and your pet fur-ever?  Treat your pet to a V-day spa day
and lunch at the Pawbar at Pussy and Pooch.  All baths include a blueberry
facial, freshly prepared meal for your pet from the in-store pet caf,
champagne and cupcakes for people and pupcakes for dogs. 

 

Want to make an entire weekend out of it?  Check out
these hotels for great deals and Valentine’s Day Packages:  Hilton
Checkers, Kyoto Grand, Los Angeles Athletic Club, Los Angles Marriott Downtown,
Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown and the Standard Hotel.  For more
information, go to www.downtownla.com.

Wyland Waikiki offers $109 rooms

The Wyland Waikiki, Hawaii’s only art-design hotel
in the heart of Waikiki is
offering a variety of value packages in 2009.

Aloha Rates

A “no frills” $109 rate for a standard guest room. Guests enjoy the Chill Room
featuring iJoy massage chairs and Xbox entertainment system, free use of the
business center offering two iMac computers and printer, free use of in-room
safe, free self-serve coffee and tea in guest rooms, free daily local newspaper,
free high-speed Internet access and free telephone calls to the mainland U.S.
& Canada. These “hot rates” are valid through Dec. 21.

The Wyland Waikiki Free Night
Package

Book
a three-night minimum stay through Dec. 21, and receive the third
night free, plus a complimentary room upgrade upon check-in
(upon
availability)
,
and a free continental daily breakfast for two at KiMOBEAN Coffee Company.
Nightly rates start at $179 for a standard room. Offer per room per stay.
Blackout dates may apply. Not combinable with other promotions and a three-night
minimum stay is required.

Feel the Passion Romance
Package

Discover
your passion in the

heart of Waikiki at The Wyland Waikiki. The Passion Package, valid through
Jan. 4, 2010, includes a city view room with upgrade to a one-bedroom suite
upon availability. Enjoy a flower lei on arrival, plus an in-room Passion Pack
featuring chocolate-dipped fruits, chilled champagne, signature Wyland champagne
flutes, Passion Mango massage oil, and a silk blindfold. Package rates begin at
$189 per night for a city view room based on double occupancy. For an additional
$150, a roundtrip sedan limousine transfer from Honolulu International Airport
can be provided. Three-night minimum stay is
required.

 

For
reservations
or more information, call The Wyland Waikiki at 866-346-4679 or visit
WylandWaikiki.com.

Lance Armstrong joins Tour of California

Forget candlelight and roses – for a more thrilling
Valentine’s Day, couples and singles alike can catch Lance Armstrong’s first
ride in the U.S. as he returns to cycling in the Tour of California prologue in
Sacramento. On Feb. 14, race fans can try their hand at the race route during
the Community Ride, then grab a seat to catch the pros in action. After the
race, lovers (and those looking for love) can take advantage of hotel deals, a
burgeoning restaurant scene, thriving nightlife and much more.

For more information on Tour of California travel deals in
Sacramento, check out www.discovergold.org/amgen.