Stop whining, try wine tasting at Montage Laguna Beach

Sunday may be a day of rest, but it can also be a day of instructive wine tasting if you visit the Montage Laguna Beach.

The resort’s Bistro Loft offers an Artistry of Wine series from 2-4 p.m. through July.  The Loft presents a new insider wine tasting and
seminar for wine lovers, who get to taste different varietals and
vintages from wine regions around the world.

The seminars
and tastings are led by Montage sommeliers and focus on wine themes
ranging from “New Horizons” to “French Showcase.” The cost is only $35 per
person, but space is limited.

This Sunday’s seminar is on white wines from Burgundy,
North to South. March 7 is red wines from Burgundy. Then March 14 is
about blends, March 21 is zins and March 28 travels to the Rhone
Valley.

For more information visit www.montagelagunabeach.com.

San Francisco celebrates ties with Shanghai

The San Francisco Bay Area will celebrate its long-standing ties to Shanghai with many events in San
Francisco
, Berkeley and San Jose.
Shanghai has been a Sister City of San
Francisco since 1979, but ties between the two cities go back 140 years.

More than 30 cultural institutions and civic groups are participating in the California events that corresponds with the World Expo in Shanghai from May 1 to Oct. 31. Exhibitions, performances, film series, lectures, and a symposium have been scheduled.

The cornerstone of the celebration in San Francisco is Shanghai,” a major exhibition at the Asian Art Museum that opened on Feb. 12 and runs through Sept. 5. The exhibition includes 130 artworks including trade
oil paintings, Shanghai deco furniture and rugs, revolutionary
poster art, fashion, movie clips and contemporary art installations.

For information
visit
www.shanghaicelebration.com or
www.asianart.org or call 415-581-3500.

World’s unluckiest travelers could win $10,000

Travel Guard (http://www.travelguard.com/),
the nation’s leading provider of travel insurance, has announced its first monthly winner of the “World’s Unluckiest
Travelers” campaign, awarding traveler Robert W. with a Flip
MinoHD camcorder.   Robert is now in the running to win
the grand prize, a $10,000 dream vacation, which will be awarded in
December, 2010.   

Robert and his wife traveled to Las Vegas
for vacation and decided to tour the Grand Canyon by helicopter.  What
started as a breath-taking experience ended in a near calamity as the
pilot made an emergency landing of the helicopter on a small patch of
grass between the Colorado River and the wall of the
Canyon.

The helicopter’s engine failed completely, but all
six passengers and the pilot walked away without a scratch. Robert, his
wife and four other passengers were stranded on the floor of the
canyon, taking pictures and waiting to be rescued by another
helicopter! They were eventually brought back safely to Boulder City,
NV.

Throughout
2010, Travel Guard is continuing its search for the “World’s Unluckiest
Traveler” – the vacationer who has survived an
incredible travel mishap or outrageous adventure and has the story to
prove it. 

Each month, Travel Guard will give away two Flip MinoHD
camcorders – one to the entry that receives the most votes, and one to
a randomly selected person who votes for the winning entry.

At the end
of the year, each of the monthly winners will be posted for a final
round of voting and two $10,000 dream vacations will be given away -
one to the entry receiving the most votes, and one to a
random lucky voter who voted for the winning entry.

Travelers
can tell Travel Guard their stories by logging onto www.travelguard.com
and uploading a video – or a series of photos – in which the traveler
tells his or her travel tale.

Jeep rentals available in Death Valley National Park

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The Furnace
Creek Resort
in Death Valley National Park now offers self-drive Jeep rentals to its guests and visitors. The new Jeeps give visitors an opportunity to explore some of the park’s
rugged backcountry areas.

The service is provided by Farabee Jeeps, and the vehicles can be
rented for 24-hour periods for $175 for a two-door vehicle and $195 for a
four-door model. All of the Jeep Wranglers have been customized with
two-inch lifts and highly durable six-ply tires. The vehicles can be reserved
by calling toll-free 1-877-970-5337 or locally at 1-760-786-9872.

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the
continental United States, with more than 3.3 million acres. Only two
percent of the park is developed leaving huge areas open for exploration.
There are several hundred miles of unimproved roads that can best be
accessed by four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicles. Vehicles are not
permitted to drive off roads within park boundaries.

“Many of our guests arrive at Death Valley National Park in
rental vehicles with restrictions or in two-wheel-drive vehicles that are
not adequate to drive to some of the park’s backcountry attractions,
and I know these guests will appreciate having the option of renting a Jeep
for the day so they can explore the park’s rugged areas,” said
Rich Jones, regional general manager of Xanterra Parks & Resorts’
operations in Death Valley. “We expect the Jeep rental service also
to be popular with the many private pilots who arrive on our airstrip but
have no means to explore the park beyond the resort. Pilots are transported
from the air strip to the resort in courtesy shuttles.”

Jones noted several backcountry attractions that can only be accessed
by four-wheel-drive vehicles. They include the Racetrack, where rocks
mysteriously slide across the dry lake bed leaving behind long tracks;
Titus Canyon, featuring a ghost town, ancient petroglyphs, and deep,
winding narrows; Geologist’s Cabin, a remote stone cabin; and Barker
Ranch, a private ranch that was the last holdout of Charles Manson and his
followers before his 1969 capture.

In addition to the Jeep rentals, guests have a choice of many other
activities at the resort including hiking, golfing, cycling,
horseback-riding and relaxing by one of two spring-fed pools. Death Valley is also a favorite among photographers
and star-gazers.  The park’s famous wildflowers will begin
blooming soon, providing a colorful welcome to visitors. 

The Furnace Creek Resort has been welcoming guests since the 1930s.
Open from mid-October through mid-May, the Inn at Furnace Creek is an AAA
Four Diamond-rated property featuring 66 rooms and two suites with a full
array of amenities, fine dining, tennis courts and a spring-fed pool. Open
year-round is the Ranch at Furnace Creek. Situated adjacent to the golf
course, the Ranch features 224 rooms in a casual setting, general store,
spring-fed swimming pool, tennis courts, horseback riding and the Borax
Museum.

For more information about facilities in Death Valley National Park or
to make room reservations at Furnace Creek Resort, call toll free at
1-800-236-7916 or 1-303-297-2757 or go to www.furnacecreekresort.com.

Win a trip to north San Diego

The San Diego North
Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for San Diego North travel stories
from recent visitors to feature in the Bureau’s newly launched “Don’t
Be Left Without a Story – Write Yours in San Diego North

campaign.

Visitors can share their favorite San Diego North memories,
experiences and photos with other visitors on the Bureau’s website (www.SanDiegoNorth.com/Your-Story) for a chance to win a trip to
La Jolla, valued at over $1,700.  The trip includes a three-night stay at the
historic Grande Colonial hotel, surfing lessons at the world famous Surf Diva
Surf School and tickets to Birch Aquarium. 

The campaign runs through June 30
with the winner being selected at random in early July.  For those who
don’t yet have a San Diego North story to tell, the Bureau is also
offering a variety of special hotel deals and exclusive offers to entice
consumers to book a family, golf, adventure, spa or romantic-themed getaway.

Visitors can learn
more about these special deals and discover additional opportunities to win a
trip to San Diego North by following the Bureau on Twitter (
www.twitter.com/VisitSDNorth) or becoming a Facebook fan (www.facebook.com/SanDiegoNorth).

Spindrift Inn offers everlasting romance rate in Monterey

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Recently
TripAdvisor picked the Spindrift Inn in Monterey as the top spot on its 2010
Travelers’ Choice Awards as ‘Best for Romance in the U.S.’ 
Its romantic guest rooms include wood burning
fireplaces and many luxurious amenities. 


To celebrate, the oceanfront inn is offering its Everlasting Romance rate from Feb. 15 to March 14. From Sunday through Thursday, rooms overlooking Cannery Row are only $139 a night; while oceanfront rooms
are $209 per night.

On Friday and Saturday nights, rooms over Cannery Row rise to $179 per night; while oceanfront rooms are $249 a night.

A continental
breakfast is included every morning and served on a
silver tray. Reservations must be booked by Feb. 12.

Availability is limited and restrictions apply, so
book now or call 800-841-1879.

Love or money at Millenium Biltmore

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Looking for a romantic weekend escape
this Valentine’s Day? Check out this package at the Millenium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles. There’s even a love or money option!

With the “Love” option, couples get luxurious lodging in one of the historic hotel’s classic rooms, including chocolate truffles, a bottle of pink champagne,
and a late checkout. 

 

With the “Money” option, couples receive a
complimentary upgrade to your choice of a Junior Suite or the exclusive Club
Level. This level offers the Club Lounge – with free breakfast,
afternoon hors d’ouevres and beverages, evening turndown and comfortable bathrobes and slippers in-room. 

 Rates start at $179 per night. Offer is valid for travel
throughout the month of February.

To make reservations, please visit the
Millennium Hotels & Resorts website at www.millenniumhotels.com
or call directly at (213) 624-1011 and use the booking code LOVE! for “love” option, MONEY! for the “money” option

14 things to do for Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles

For those looking for new ideas, the Downtown Center Business Improvement
District has created “Valentine’s
Day in LA – 14 Things for the 14th.” 

Activities for all kinds and budgets abound in Downtown
Los Angeles.  For exclusive discounts and full details, please visit www.downtownla.com.

 

  1. Valentine’s Day
    dinner
    .  A classic, tried and true winner, you can’t go wrong with
    Downtown LA, which prominent food critics have recently touted as one of
    the hippest dining destinations in the city – all surrounded by the
    bright lights and big city of Downtown. 

        
Chaya Downtown: Three-course meal followed by
complimentary shuttle service to all theaters. 

        
Ciudad: Mention DowntownLA.com and get one
split of cava with dinner for two, a four-course menu of Spanish and
Mediterranean fare. 

        
Noe: Executive Chef Glen Ishii has
created a three- and six-course tasting menu featuring Neo Bistro cuisine.

        
Roys:
Enjoy a decadent, 4-course meal and receive a $20 bonus card per couple for
your next visit.

 

  1. Downtown
    hotels.
    Step it up a notch
    with a romantic stay.  Not feeling the love these days? Take advantage of
    President’s Day and plan a girls-only getaway weekend.

        
LA Athletic
Club:
1-night V-day package
with deluxe room, four-course dinner, champagne breakfast and discounted
parking.

        
The Standard: 2-night “Huge Love
Package” includes breakfast, champagne, parking, access to the rooftop
each evening, strolling cupids and other–ahem– creative amenities. 

        
Hilton Checkers: 1-night
stay, with four-course dinner, rooftop cocktails, an in-room bottle of
champagne, an in-room movie with fresh popcorn delivered to the door, breakfast
in bed. 

        
Wilshire
Grand:
Free 1-night stay (for
two in the newly remodeled Junior Suites) after spending $100 on dining in
either of its two restaurants. 

 

  1. Liquid courage. Need
    some help impressing a new date?

        
The Must:
A concept wine bar and gastropub featuring more than 50 local and global wines. 

        
The
Edison:
This bar offers
hand-crafted cocktails amid the majestic relics of a long-lost era of glamour.
Try the Rosebud Martini and fresh oysters.

        
The Conga
Room:
Sizzling sounds on the 14th
with the Latin jazz infusions of Poncho Sanchez, LA’s King of the
Congas. 

        
Play the field with your friends: Visit www.downtownla.com for dozens of bar options.

 

  1. Crave some drama on
    the 14th?  The Music Center will host two brilliant
    performances filled with enough emotion and excitement to last you until next
    Valentine’s.  “The Butterfly Lovers” -
    China’s Romeo and Juliet – will be playing at the Ahmanson Theatre
    at 2pm on February 14, while “The Subject was Roses,” with
    Martin Sheen, is playing at the Mark Taper Forum at 8 pm.  Tickets are
    available at www.musiccenter.org.

 

  1. Express your love
    through music
    at the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Ravel’s
    lushly scored ballet.  The afternoon performance with conductor Rafael
    Fruhbeck de Burgos begins at 2pm at the magnificent Walt Disney Concert
    Hall.  Tickets are available at www.laphil.com.

 

  1. Whether you are exploring
    the art of love or just love art
    , the MOCA’s
    First Thirty Years
    exhibition is an inspiring way to spend the 14th
    A two-part exhibition that includes the largest-ever installation of MOCA’s
    permanent collection features impressive works added since the
    museum’s founding.  They include Mondrian, Rothko, Rauschenberg,
    Pollock, Kline and others.  

 

  1. For something intriguing
    and exotic, La Bistecca Presents A
    Night in Morocco”
    at the Millennium Biltmore.  Enjoy a
    Moroccan menu featuring appetizer “mezze” courses, authentic
    entre choices and rich desserts. Lavishly decorated, the Rendezvous Court
    will feature colorful fabrics, romantic lighting, and private cabana
    tables, with live belly dancing performances at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. 

 

  1. Neihule, a
    sophisticated urban salon, offers plenty of V-day options, whether you
    want to start the romance early or just get ready.  Couples can enjoy the
    “Bed of Roses” package with a manicure and pedicure for two and
    champagne in a romantic setting.  If you want to get dolled up for your
    date or need a great gift for your Valentine, go to www.neihule.com
    for more specials.  Visitors who mention DowntownLA.com will receive a
    free lip balm.  

 

  1. The old adage that diamonds
    are a girl’s best friend
    still rings true, especially at
    Valentine’s Day.  For the most unique assortment of diamonds, gems
    and other jewelry, the St. Vincent Jewelry
    Center
    , the largest jewelry complex in the world, is a sure bet to
    find special sparkles for that special someone on any budget.  For
    last-minute gift givers, the Broadway side of the jewelry center will be
    open on February 14.

 

  1. For first dates,
    friendship, mom, anniversaries, or just because, flowers never fail
    The Los Angeles Flower District,
    the largest wholesale flower market in the U.S., features virtually every
    variety of cut flower, potted plant and exotic blossom that is
    commercially available, with many California grown.  A fresh, exquisite
    bouquet will brighten anyone’s Valentine. Valentine’s weekend
    hours: February 13-14, 6:00 am – 2:00 pm.

 

  1. All the single ladies
    (and gents)
    should definitely partake in a free singles mixer party on
    Saturday, February 13, from 8pm to 2am at Remedy Lounge, who is partnering
    with theLEK.com, an LA-based website for singles.  Come enjoy drink
    specials, games, entertainment, and, of course, the crowd. RSVP required
    at www.thelek.com/heartbeat.

                       

  1. Bowl the night away
    with friends at Lucky Strike, the perfect night out for those who would
    rather avoid the V-day hype.  More than just a bowling alley, Lucky Strike
    at L.A. LIVE is bowling blended into a sleek atmosphere with plush
    seating, cozy dining areas, DJs and places for private parties, including
    the four-lane Luxe suite.  Details at http://www.lalive.com/index.php.
    Bowlers who mention DowntownLA.com can enjoy 2-for1 appetizers and
    bowling.

 

  1. Can’t find a
    babysitter on the 14th? Take the whole family to STAPLES Center
    to see the Harlem Globetrotters.  An entertainment experience like
    nothing else, enjoy high-flying dunks, fan interaction and laughs by some
    of the world’s greatest athlete-entertainers. www.staplescenter.com.

 

  1. Your ever-loyal pet
    will always be your No. 1 Valentine.  Dog lovers can find a date for their
    pooch at the Bark Avenue Valentine’s Sweethearts Dance, a free
    “pawtry” and adoption event on February 13. Corsages and ties
    for pups will be provided, and the party will feature high school dance
    dcor, music, snacks and desserts (for people and pooches), plenty of wine
    and a crowning of the Valentine’s Day King and Queen.  Mention
    DowntownLA.com for a free Natural Balance treat bag. www.barkavela.com.  

Leave your heart in San Francisco this Valentine’s Day

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Leave your heart in San Francisco this Valentine’s Day.

The Red And White Fleet in San Francisco is offering two
romantically-inspired cruises, namely the Valentine’s Day and California Sunset
cruises.

On Valentine’s Day, Sunday, Feb. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. and again
from 5 to 7 p.m., romantics will enjoy the “Sweet Valentine Cruise”
featuring a lavish appetizer buffet by Boudin and Champagne toast as the cruise
sails under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.  The cost is $58 a person.

 

Visit Visit http://www.redandwhite.com/seasonal_valentines_cruise.asp for more information and
reservations.

 

The California
Sunset Cruise is a romantically-inspired journey that singles and families will
enjoy.  Beginning on April 1
through May 25 and then again from Sept. 7 to Oct. 24, the California
Sunset Cruise sails at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  From May 26 to
Sept. 6, the cruise will leave at 7 p.m., daily (with the exception of
July 4th.
).


On this relaxed 2-hour cruise, guests enjoy spectacular sunset views, live
guitar music and hearty appetizers that include a variety of sandwiches, salads,
fruit, and dessert. 


The tour
cruises past the island of Alcatraz, around Angel Island National Park, under
the majestic span of the Golden Gate and along the beautiful shorelines of
Tiburon and Sausalito, as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.


Advance booking
is recommended as this event often sells out.  The costs are $54 for adults (18+), $36 for youth
(5-17) and free for kids under 5 years of age.


Enjoy a virtual cruise at

http://www.redandwhite.com/video_csc.asp.