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    San Luis,

    California

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    San Luis Obispo (, Spanish: [san ˈlwis oˈβispo]) is a city in the U.S. state of California and San Luis Obispo County, 190 miles (310 km) north of Los Angeles and 230 miles (370 km) south of San Francisco on Southern California's Central Coast. The population was 45,119 at the 2010 census.Founded in 1772 by Spanish Franciscan Junípero Serra, San Luis Obispo is one of California's oldest European-founded communities. Serra's Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was named after the 13th-century saint and bishop Louis of Toulouse. The city, locally referred to as San Luis or SLO, is the county seat of San Luis Obispo County and is adjacent to California Polytechnic State University.
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    Deals

    25 great winter travel deals for 2022

    With Covid-19 vaccinations on the rise and people continuing to wear masks, practice social distancing and show proof of vaccination as needed, folks are venturing out again as safely as possible. A recent study by TripIt showed flight bookings are up 320% compared to last year, while the numbers increased by 404% for car rentals, 271% for lodging and 182% for vacation rentals. Whether you’re seeking seasonal winter sports, a sunny beach escape or a city staycation closer to home, there are plenty of wintertime deals to be had. Here’s a look at some of our favorite travel packages around the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, all available this winter for under $265 a night. Massachusetts Fresh mountain air and lakeside views await at this member-favorite B&B The Black Swan Inn in the Berkshires (Lee, MA). Budget Travel Members get nightly rates from $105. New Hampshire New Hampshire Escape - $179. When we say The Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson, NH is a member favorite, we're not kidding: 100% of members who stayed here loved their experience, citing the inn's outstanding service, great food and romantic setting. Now, you can nab a room for just $179 per night for dates into spring. New York Winter warriors who love cross-country and alpine skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and tobogganing should head to High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, about a 4.5-hour drive from New York City. The resort’s two-night Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe package, from $203 a night, offers breakfast, admission to the Cascade Ski Center and complimentary snowshoe rentals when you book and stay by March 31, 2022. Washington, DC in winter. Photo by tomwachs, iStock. Washington, D.C. Kimpton George Hotel’s packages include overnight accommodations at this chic Capitol Hill boutique, plus little extras like nightly valet parking or daily breakfast for two. Rates start at $263 a night. Nearby, Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s Park and Play package, available from $263 a night, throws in perks like complimentary overnight parking and a $25 daily dining credit to use at its onsite restaurant, Dirty Habit. North Carolina Skyline Lodge, a recently-renovated boutique property in Highlands, located about two hours from Asheville, is offering rates from $170 a night this winter. Escape the crowds at this mountaintop resort during the week and score a bottle of sparkling wine with the Wine Down Weekdays package, with rates from $207 a night. South Carolina Just 30 minutes from Charleston, Wild Dunes Resort, a Destination by Hyatt property in Isle of Palms, is a wonderful place to spend time with the family or your beloved on a romantic getaway by the beach. With rates from $161 all winter long, you’ll have access to a swanky spa, tennis courts and two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, as well as a variety of menu options from nine onsite restaurants and bars. Georgia Georgia Wine Country: 2-Night Retreat incl. Vino - $299. Waking up to sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Days spent hiking and sampling local vino. Kicking back fireside on a crisp night. All things in store for those who can nab 2 nights (or longer) at this charming North Georgia lodge with this deal for travel into spring. Miami Beach lifeguard station. Photo by JC Ruiz, iStock Florida Planning a Miami escape or staycation? Head to the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach, where the Park + Play package, from $146 a night, lets you spend the night in luxe accommodations and receive complimentary valet parking. Texas In Dallas, the Kimpton Pittman Hotel’s family package gives guests late 4 p.m. check-out, a create-your-own s’mores kit and directions for an epic mural scavenger hunt through the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Rates start at $203 a night. Illinois Save 30% when you book four or more nights at the Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown this winter and use promo code Save30. Rates start at $143 a night for four nights and you must book and stay by March 31, 2022. Colorado Now through March 2022, save on a luxurious stay at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, with rates from $259 a night as part of its Winter Spectacular package. Just 40 minutes from Denver, Hotel Boulderado’s Winter Wanderlust, lets you stay two nights and get one free, with rooms from $139 a night when you book three or more nights now through April 2022. If you’d rather stay in the heart of Downtown Denver, head to The Curtis, where several staycation deals are available. Park and stay packages start at $139 a night, while another deal gives you 15% off stays of at least three nights and 50% off parking, with rates from $109 a night. If your favorite fur baby is tagging along, the Shaggy & Scooby Doo Pet Package includes waived pet fees (saving you $25–$100 a night depending on pet type) and plenty of pet treats. California Save up to 15% on a stay at the Apple Farm Inn in San Luis Obispo when you book directly through the hotel’s website — nightly rates start at $101 all year long. Make the most of a winter getaway to sunny San Diego with a stay at this 4-star Westin, located less than a mile from The Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy and the waterfront. Lock in discounted rates and a daily credit and stay any day of the week through March. Portland in Winter. Credit: 321photography, iStock Oregon While Portland’s Hotel Zags is offering several deals, our favorite is the Escape Your In-laws package, which gives you a bucket of beers and a $10 credit to use at the onsite restaurant. Rates start at $99 a night now through March 31, 2022. The Bidwell Marriott Portland is offering a special Night on the Town package, which includes complimentary valet parking, two free drinks at High Horse and two MAX light rail passes to use to check out the city during your stay. Use promo code XYO to score rooms from $199 a night when you book and stay by March 31, 2022. Plan a romantic weekend getaway with the Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center’s Romance in the City of Roses package, available from $229 a night. You’ll get your choice of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir or locally sourced craft beer, as well as chocolates, Albina City nuts, romantic rose petals for your room and the chance to sleep in with 12 p.m. check-out. Washington Head outdoors this season and hit the hiking and biking trails at Suncadia Resort, located about 90 minutes from Seattle. Rates start at $225 a night in January for World of Hyatt loyalty program members (it’s free to sign up for an account). Mexico. Photo by Laura Brown, Budget Travel Mexico and the Caribbean If you’re planning to travel internationally, remember to stay on top of testing requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers returning to the U.S. Perched on Medano Beach (one of the area’s few swimmable beaches) and just minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, the 5-star Villa del Arco Beach Resort & Spa earns rave reviews for its spacious suites, exceptional service and superior food. For a limited time book a 3-night stay for $555. Rate gets a Deluxe Studio with a king or two queen beds, kitchenette and balcony overlooking the lush gardens. From now until January 17, 2022, you can save up to 64% at Karisma Hotels & Resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, including brands like Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, Azul Beach Resorts, Margaritaville Island Reserve Resorts and El Dorado Spa Resorts, among others. Rates for all-inclusive stays through January 4, 2023, start at $151 per person per night depending on your dates and desired resort. Save on a stay at the chic Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, where rates start at $159 a night and include breakfast for two and welcome cocktails. For a real treat, book the Rejuvenation package, which, for $235 a night, throws in dinner for two at onsite restaurant Rojo, two complimentary rum punch cocktails at Cabana and a 50% discount on one treatment at the Zen Spa. In the Bahamas, Atlantis Paradise Island is celebrating winter with an epic January sale now through January 24, 2022. Bookings made for stays by February 28, 2023, reflect savings up to 30% at The Coral, 25% at The Royal and 20% at The Reef. During the sale, guests can also score an extra $20 per $100 of purchased Experience Credits, while guests booking rooms at The Cove will receive a $100 daily resort credit to use toward dining and other attractions. Discounted nightly rates at Atlantis Paradise Island begin at $172.

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 amazing outdoor adventures near Los Angeles

    While the city of Los Angeles is a tourist destination in and of itself, it is sometimes necessary to leave the city and venture somewhere new. Especially when every part of you is itching to travel right now. Fortunately, L.A. is centrally-located to many cities that offer socially-distanced activities to suit any preference. <ost restaurants offer only outdoor dining or takeout service. Many of these cities are accessible by train within a couple of hours, as Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route runs up and down the coast from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Take a ferry to Catalina Island Board the Catalina Express and in about an hour you will be transported to the town of Avalon, what was once a playground for Hollywood’s glitterati. Fancy parasailing? Here you can enjoy the ultimate social distancing activity as you glide through the air, admiring the views below. Catalina is the home to about 150 wild buffalo, which are the descendants of a small herd that was left there by a film crew in the 1920s. During the two-hour Bison Expedition with Catalina Tours, you’ll hop into an off-road vehicle and venture into the precipitous Cape Canyon, where bison and other wildlife are often spotted. For a special treat, dine on the waterfront patio at Bluewater Grill, which offers a variety of sustainable seafood options. ©Mate Steindl/EyeEm/Getty Images Hike the trails at Joshua Tree Located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is a mystical place. Many say that these twisted trees with pointed spines belong in a Dr. Seuss book and they wouldn’t be wrong, although that is part of the appeal. Options to explore the park are endless, and depending on your skill level you can embark on nature treks or more challenging backcountry hikes. For more adventurous types, you can traverse over different rock formations by climbing or bouldering. If you plan to stay after dark, don’t miss the myriad of stargazing opportunities-- because of its remote location, you’ll be treated to an astronomical display of stars, planets, and the Milky Way. Ride the zip line in Santa Margarita Imagine tasting wine on an outdoor patio and then, aided by liquid courage, traveling by zip line over acres of Pinot Noir vines with not a care in the world. Riding tandem is your partner-in-crime, laughing giddily at the incomparable feeling of soaring through the pines. At Ancient Peaks Winery, which is located in the tiny town of Santa Margarita, you can do just that. Sample wine at their tasting room and then venture out to their 14,000 acre ranch, where guests can choose among six different zip line tours of the vineyard. On a recent tour by Margarita Adventures, participants spotted a variety of wildlife; including deer, turkeys, hawks, and even a bear. Laguna Beach. ©Ron and Patty Thomas/Getty Images Indulge your inner beachcomber in Laguna Beach The small enclave of Laguna Beach is well-known for its summer art festivals, which were an annual occurrence until COVID hit. For those dedicated to ocean exploits, there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel, paddleboard, or surf at one of the many beaches and coves that dot the coastline. Be sure to visit Victoria Beach at low tide, which is a beloved spot for skimboarders and also home of the Instagrammable “Pirate Tower,” a 60-foot stone turret. Another popular area along the coast is Crystal Cove, where tidepools abound. While you’re there, have lunch at The Beachcomber, which is located right on the sand. (Or, sidle up to the adjacent Bootlegger Bar at sunset.) Walk through a unique art installation in Paso Robles If you haven’t yet been to international artist Bruce Munro’s acclaimed art installation Field of Light at Sensorio, you are in for a treat as it has recently been extended through January 2021. Follow the pathway through an open field filled with thousands of tiny “flowers”-- solar-powered lights mounted on stems that are lit by fiber optics, their colors everchanging. Be sure to reserve tickets early, as they do sell out, and they are taking extra efforts to follow protocols related to COVID-19. While in Paso Robles visit Tin City, a small warehouse district that houses a variety of wine tasting rooms, breweries, a cidery, and even a distillery. Satisfy your appetite with one of the many food trucks lined up nearby. Explore Balboa Park in San Diego Balboa Park is a cultural treasure-- located in the center of the city, it has seventeen museums, several types of gardens, and is also the home of the San Diego Zoo. At over 1,200 acres, there is plenty of room to roam. Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden, the lily pond at the Botanical Building, or the artist studios at the Spanish Village, then find a spot in the sun and dive into a good book. Currently the San Diego Museum of Art has reopened with limited capacity and new safety measures, while other museums there remain closed. Dine next door at Panama 66, or venture a short distance outside of the park and ignite your palate with Mexican soul food at Barrio Star. Santa Barbara Coastline. ©Jon Bilous/Shutterstock Spend a day on Santa Barbara’s coastline Often referred to as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara’s stunning coastline and dedication to fine wine certainly lives up to its moniker. Stroll through the Funk Zone, the city’s arts district, and admire the colorful murals before stopping at one of the many tasting rooms in the area that make up the Urban Wine Trail. Enjoy al fresco dining at Hotel Californian’s Goat Tree, a gourmet cafe that serves creative Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The ocean also offers its pick of activities, such as fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can find your zen with “Soundwave Sessions”-- yoga on the beach with provided headphones, which allows you to listen to music and instruction simultaneously. (They also offer bilingual sessions en español.) Go fishing at Big Bear Lake Rent a pontoon boat and fish to your heart’s content on Big Bear Lake, or lounge and listen to your favorite tunes as the boat’s massive deck allows for plenty of room to relax. Or, you can opt to kayak or swim in the lake. Inhale the crisp alpine air and become one with nature as you hike Castle Rock Trail, a steep tree-lined path that winds around huge granite boulders and rewards you with sweeping panoramic views of the lake. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bald eagle. Venture out to Big Bear Village and take your pick of restaurants, depending on your appetite. Highly recommended is The Himalayan, which serves a variety of dishes from India and Nepal. Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway #1 at the US West Coast traveling south to Los Angeles, Big Sur Area. ©Michael Urmann/Shutterstock. Take the Highway 1 Discovery Route The Highway 1 Discovery Route extends for a hundred miles along California’s Central Coast, which stretches from Monterey Bay all the way down to Ventura. Between the months of October and February, monarch butterflies migrate to groves along the coast from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay. There are a variety of ways to visit these groves, and many can be viewed from golf courses that line the coast, such as Sea Pines, a resort and nine-hole executive golf course in Los Osos. The Highway 1 Discovery Route also encompasses the Santa Ynez Valley and San Luis Obispo region, a sweet spot for wine tasting. Spend some time sampling wine in the charming town of Los Olivos, which is surrounded by vineyards, lavender farms, ranches, and orchards. Visit California’s oldest neighborhood in San Juan Capistrano Well-known as the former home of migrating swallows every March, San Juan Capistrano is also where the state’s oldest neighborhood, the Los Rios Historic District, is located. Wander across the dusty tracks of the Capistrano train depot, where you’ll encounter a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as a petting zoo. Stop for coffee under the trees at Hidden House, or if you’re hungry, dine on the outdoor patio at Trevor’s at the Tracks or Rancho Capistrano Winery-- both offer delectable dishes that are often accompanied by live music. Then, walk a short distance to Mission San Juan Capistrano, which has a museum and chapel on the property. The close proximity to the Amtrak station makes this a convenient day trip from L.A.

    Inspiration

    These are fall's most popular US camping destinations, according to Campspot

    For insight into where travelers are heading as the leaves change colors, the platform Campspot consulted the booking data for its roster of family campgrounds, RV resorts, glamping sites, and more to determine the most in-demand destinations for autumn camping, based on the number of reservations from just after Labor Day through October. In no particular order, here are the top 10 places Campspot campers are flocking this fall.  Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Near Cape May, Big Timber Lake is an RV resort with plenty of amenities © Tyler D. Way/CampspotCape May, New Jersey Less than 20 miles from the family-friendly beaches, old-school boardwalks and historic painted Victorians of Cape May is Big Timber Lake RV Camping Resort, a sprawling site with basketball, volleyball, bocce, and shuffleboard courts, kayak rentals, mini golf, an arcade, and a 2,000 square-foot pool.  Holiday seekers can get into the spirit of the season in Santa Claus, Indiana @ Sun RV ResortsSanta Claus, Indiana It’s never too early for Christmas in southwestern Indiana’s Santa Claus, and its Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort has Christmas cabins and holiday cottages, not to mention Santa's Splashdown Waterpark, which has two big tube slides and a reindeer-themed water playground.  Camping in Quarryville offers a front-row seat for the fall-foliage action © CampspotLancaster County, Pennsylvania Southeastern Pennsylvania’s fall foliage rarely disappoints, and Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: Quarryville offers a front row seat for the action. It’s situated on 65 wooded acres abutting a 100-acre county park, but it’s more resort than camp, with two swimming pools, two hot tubs, a water zone, and a giant inflatable jumping pillow, plus laser tag and escape rooms for an extra charge.  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Myrtle Beach is a party town at the height of summer, and though it’s more low-key during the cooler months, there’s still plenty to do. Guests at Carolina Pines RV Resort may not want to leave the premises – there’s a bistro and a yoga studio on-site as well as a mini golf course and an arcade – but for those who prefer to get out and explore, the beaches and trails of Myrtle Beach State Park are just 20 minutes away.  The restorative scenery of Shenandoah National Park is less than two hours from the nation's capital © CampspotShenandoah National Park – Washington, DC An hour and a half west of DC, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is an easy day trip from the nation’s capital, but it feels a world away. The Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in nearby Luray, Virginia, provides the chain’s signature amenities, from mini golf and gem-mining to pools and water slides; accommodations include pet-friendly cottages, RV sites, and primitive tent camping.  Central Michigan The lakes of Michigan are a picture-perfect setting for a summer getaway, but they’re not too shabby in fall colors either. Central Michigan’s Cedar River plays host to Gladwin City Park and Campground, a back-to-basics set-up with rustic cabins and sites for tent and RV camping, while Beaverton’s Calhoun Campground has Ross Lake-facing rustic, electric, and full hookup sites.  Accommodations at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Western New York include this two-bedroom A-frame chalet with cable and WiFi @ Sun RV ResortsBuffalo, New York In a few months, only the hardy will be taking camping trips in upstate New York, but for now, the region that boasts natural beauties like Niagara Falls and Lake George is a solid option for leaf-peeping. About an hour outside of Buffalo, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: Western New York has chalets, cabins, wooded and open tent sites, and full-hookup RV sites, all pet-friendly with WiFi access. In Paso Robles, the Wine Country RV Resort has RV sites as well as chalets and cottages © Sun RV ResortsPaso Robles, California There’s nothing like winery-hopping on a brisk sunny day, and between the shopping, the golf, the wining, and the dining, San Luis Obispo County's Paso Robles region has more than a few options for oenophiles. Wine Country RV Resort is centrally located,  with pull-through and back-in RV sites as well as chalets and cottages.  Arches National Park – Moab, Utah The red sandstone of Arches National Park creates a stunning setting for one of nature’s biggest playgrounds, and nearby Moab serves as the gateway for outdoor adventures in the vicinity. Six miles south of the park gates (and less than 40 miles east of Canyonlands) is CanyonLands RV Resort & Campground, where the region’s signature red rocks overlook the swimming pool. Tent and RV sites are available, as are cabin rentals.  The Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Gardiner serves as a base of operations for exploring the Hudson Valley's Minnewaska State Park Preserve @ CampspotMinnewaska State Park Preserve – Kerhonkson, New York A 22,275-acre park in the Hudson Valley, Minnewaska draws outdoorsy types year-round for everything from rock climbing to snowshoeing. Six miles away, the sprawling Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Gardiner has rustic tent sites and premium cabins, as well as luxe lodges and full houses for rent. 

    Inspiration

    Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home with these amazing cocktail recipes

    Translated to the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican war in 1862. Also known as Battle of Puebla Day, it is just a minor holiday in Mexico, but here in the US, it has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture and community. Normally, there would be a network of national parties and celebrations, with the largest festivities in San Antonio, New York, Phoenix, Denver and San Diego. But, with social distancing as the new norm, we asked the experts how to make the most of the situation—and how to party like it’s the 5th of May in your very own home. At Mexico’s Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, the 1826 Tequila Bar offers over 120 different tequilas and 20 mezcals—and does tastings on their outdoor terrace. For a little sweeter cocktail, try its Lavender Margarita. Lavender Margarita 2 tablespoons of lavender syrup 1 oz tequila .5 oz lime juice .5 oz of Controy. Lavender Margarita.Sofia Partida, National Brand Ambassador of Mexico’s Partida Tequila, is organizing a face time “Cinco Salud” with friends and family in Northern California. She will also host a Cinco Happy Hour at home where they will be playing Loteria and watching a movie like Nacho Libre or Like Water for Chocolate. Decorations will include flowers, both paper and fresh, and the menu will include appetizers like Shrimp Aqua Chiles and mini Chicken Tostadas. Her cocktail of choice is the Ponche Cabellero. Ponche Cabellero 2 oz Reposado 1.5 oz tamarind nectar 1.5 oz pineapple juice .5 oz agave nectar .5 oz fresh lime juice 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. On the other end of the spectrum, Desolas is a brand new Mezcal crafted in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, wants to add a little spice to its Cinco de Mayo cocktail, which they suggest countering with chips and guacamole. They also suggest pairing their Spotify playlist with your at-home party. Desolas Sol 2 oz Desolas Mezcal 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 1 oz ginger beer garnished with a lime wheel. Desolas SolThe MGM Resorts Event Production Team suggests finding a special place in your home, either indoors or outdoors, to be the hub of the celebration. Decorations can be a colorful scarf to drape on the table or hang up on the wall and you might want to search up a streaming folklorico dance class or discover new music contributed by Mexican artists for ambiance and entertainment. Try a tequila tasting at home and allow each taster to rate and review their findings before the next public gathering. However, if it’s a cocktail you’re after, try the Dama Blanca from the Mama Rabbit Bar at the Park MGM Las Vegas. Dama Blance 2 ozs Ilegal Joven Mezcal, .5 oz Italicus Bergamot liqueur .5 oz orange cordial .5 oz simple syrup .5 oz lemon juice .5 oz lime juice an egg white. Shake, pour in a coupe glass and garnish with real flowers for a beautiful finish. Rosewood Hotels are used to celebrating Cinco de Mayo at many of their properties. At the Dallas-based Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, The Mansion Bar has been a steadfast icon since its opening in 1980 and it’s renowned Texas Margarita has been on the menu for four decades. Texas Margarita 2 oz tequila 1 oz fresh lime juice .75 oz Cointreau up to .75 oz jalapeno agave. Shake and pour straight up. For many of us, the word Tequila is synonymous with Patron. This iconic brand has been bringing us super sippable, premium expressions from that famous region for over 30 years. So, it only seems right to mix a Patron Classic Margarita. The only thing you’ll have to decide is: salt or no salt? Patron Classic Margarita 1.5 oz of Patron Reposada or Silver 1 oz Patron Citronge Orange .75 oz fresh lime juice .25 oz simple syrup Shake and pour into a glass (ice optional). Lastly, for those who want to add a little caffeine to their cocktail cause, Mr. Black Liqueur is a bittersweet blend of vodka and coffee. A simple way to enjoy it at home is part of this eye-opening, Paloma Negra. Paloma Negra 2 oz coffee liqueur .75 oz Mezcal 1.25 oz pink grapefruit juice Paloma Negra

    Inspiration

    Discover the New Frontier of California Wine Country in Paso Robles

    One of the most delicious and inspiring ways to spend a day on California’s Central Coast is to drop by one of the fine wineries that are charting the next frontier of California Wine Country. We recently caught up with Eric Jensen, owner and winemaker at Booker Vineyard, in Paso Robles (the up-and-coming wine region about midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles). Jensen shared some tips for first-time vineyard visitors, his top recommendations for wine and coastal fun, and some exciting news about Booker’s most recent bottlings. What are your top tips for novice wine tasters headed to California for the first time? Eric Jensen: Decide what’s most important before you book and this will help set your budget. Is it all about the wine? If so, look for lodging close enough to wineries that is bare bones but clean. If it’s about the area and enjoying the surroundings and you won’t be spending all your money on wine, then you can look for a hotel with amenities like nice pools, restaurants, areas around the property to bike and hike, etc. Don’t forget though, our Paso Robles region has incredible hiking, biking, and gorgeous beaches all within just 30 minutes. What are your tips for aspiring wine collectors who want to shop for wine in California? E.J.: Try it all! Find the varieties and styles you’re passionate about. For me, it was big Syrahs and bright red Grenaches, so I chose Paso Robles as this region just does Syrah and Grenache better. It took me trying lots of bottles though, because, like most, I thought there was only Cabernet and Chardonnay. After finding passions, trust your palate and don’t just drink wines that a sommelier or wine critic says is supposed to be great. I’ve found out I don’t like most of those wines. Also, it’s very important to find the salesperson who learns what you like and seems to always be right. This could be the person at the local wine shop, supermarket, or could be a wine critic. That individual becomes your personal sommelier/critic. Any advice for Budget Travelers who are seeking world-class wine bargains? E.J.: Paso Robles is a world-class bargain. You can stay in a hotel for a third the price of Napa, taste wine and purchase world-class wines with the highest of critical acclaim for $25-$75 that would be $75-$800 in Napa, and be on the beach with your partner, dog, and a glass of Champagne to watch the sunset! Paso also boasts a great food and cocktail scene at small-town prices, great boutiques, and one of America’s great small towns (San Luis Obispo) just 20 minutes away. What do you love about the Central Coast, and Paso Robles in particular. E.J.: I love that there’s no traffic, none of the pretension that sometimes comes with a wine country (think fancy watches and expensive cars), and that I can hike a ridge overlooking the ocean in the morning, eat lunch in the vines on a vineyard, do a bit of wine tasting, and then head to the beach for a relaxing sunset. Paso Robles is that friendly “Mayberry” town where everyone seems to go out of their way to treat you well regardless of the size of your wallet. Tell us about the varietals that you grow at Booker. E.J.: Booker started as a Rhône house, with predominately Syrah- and Grenache-based wines. We have added a world-class Cabernet that outscores every cab in its $79 price point with Robert Parker by a long shot. It has a 12-year history of around 97 points. We would love to hear about your latest offerings. E.J.: Our main wines are Oublié, which is a Grenache-based wine that also includes Mourvedre and a small amount of Syrah. Similar to the French wine Chateauneuf du Pape. Oublié was just Wine Spectator’s No. 10 wine in the Top 100 in the World. Fracture is our 100 percent Syrah and is one of the most coveted Syrahs in the world, selling out in a matter of hours on our list. My Favorite Neighbor is our version of the California Cult Cabernet, critically comparing to the rarest Bordeaux’s and Napa Cabs, but doing it for $79! Are there any Booker wines that might be categorized as “budget”? E.J.: We always make a diverse blend that is usually Grenache-based called RLF for $45 that sells like In-N-Out Burger at a crowded music festival. We have a new Cab-based blend coming out in June called Harvey and Harriet which is $50 and received a 96 point score in barrel, separating it from all the Cabs in its price category. To learn more, visit bookerwines.com.

    Budget Travel Lists

    Travel by Train: 7 Awesome Routes for Seeing the U.S.A.

    When you're not in a rush to get to your destination, there's no better way to travel than by the slow, steady pace of a train. Though often associated with a European vacation, there are plenty of scenic and adventurous rail routes that you can take right here in—and across—the United States. Train travel offers an up-close look at your very own backyard, whether you're chugging along through the mountains or unhurriedly making your way through the scenic Northeast—all for a price that's often lower than a flight. Ready to see the country by rail? Here are seven train trips that can’t be beat. 1. Adirondack: An International Journey, With Landscape Views Take the stress out of an international flight and climb aboard Amtrak’s Adirondack (amtrak.com/adirondack-train), which takes leaves from Manhattan’s Penn Station and arrives in Montreal less than 11 hours later. The train winds its way through the Hudson Valley’s wine country and the farms of Albany and the Adirondack Mountains. It’s an especially popular route for leaf peepers during the fall, as the already breathtaking scenery is painted in glorious shades of orange, red and brown. (For prime views, make your way up to the dome car.) And pro tip: Since this is an international route, be sure to pack your passport. One-way tickets start at $70. 2. Pacific Surfliner: California Dreaming Surf the coast by rail on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner (pacificsurfliner.com), which takes you through 351 miles of beautiful southern California. The golden coast journey starts in San Diego and ends in San Luis Obispo, stopping in SoCal hotspots like Anaheim, Los Angeles, Carpinteria, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Juan Capistrano. The train tracks hug the Pacific coast and riders can often spot dolphins, California sea lions, and even whales—right from the comfort of their seats. The Pacific Surfliner includes a café car—with plenty of wine options—as well as a bike rack, so you can easily take your wheels and hit the trails as soon as you hop off the train. One-way tickets start at $61.25. 3. Sunset Limited: Watch the Dynamic Southwest Change Before Your Eyes Amtrak’s southern-most route, Sunset Limited (amtrak.com/sunset-limited-train), takes riders on a 48-hour scenic journey of the American southwest, from New Orleans all the way to Los Angeles. From the bayou to the canyons of southwestern Texas to the California mountains, pass through scenery that’s largely inaccessible by car, so have your camera out and be ready to capture it from your seat. Though this route doesn’t take you to into the national parks, the train will stop at their doorsteps. As part of a partnership between the National Parks Service and Amtrak, a national parks guide will often be on board to explain the changing vistas and landscapes as you slowly make your way through, which is all part of a partnership between Amtrak and the National Parks Service. One-way tickets start at $314. 4. Grand Canyon Railway: An American Natural Wonder Awaits Avoid the traffic of Grand Canyon National Park and ride to the iconic destination in style on the Grand Canyon Railway (thetrain.com). The round-trip train route, which takes a little over two hours, begins in Williams, Arizona, and arrives inside Grand Canyon National Park, giving riders plenty of time to explore before heading back in the afternoon. On the journey, riders are lucky enough to get magnificent views of the Ponderosa Pine Forest in Williams, the wide-open prairies, and the San Francisco peaks, all while marveling at (and feeling) the change in elevation. Travelers can also often catch glimpses of wildlife such as elk, mountain lions, and bald eagle throughout the trip. Round-trip ticket prices from $70 to $226. 5. Napa Valley Wine Train: A Toast to the Vineyards of California Just when you think that being in Napa Valley couldn’t get more elegant, the Napa Valley Wine Train (winetrain.com)—a beautifully restored 100-year-old railcar—makes any visit to wine country even more indulgent. The train’s route is short—just 30 miles from downtown Napa to St. Helena—but it’s an unforgettable way to view the vineyards as you ride through California farmland, all while holding a glass of wine in your hand. You can choose between a three- or six-hour trip, depending on whether you want a tasting tour, or a gourmet, multi-course meal served on board during your journey. And of course, there is plenty of wine tasting to be had while you’re chugging along. Ticket packages start at around $200. 6. Vermonter: A Breathtaking Trip Along the Eastern Seaboard Watch the New England landscape shift from big cities to beautiful pastoral scenes on Amtrak’s Vemonter train (amtrak.com/vermonter-train), which runs daily service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, a small town in northern Vermont. The trip, which clocks in at just under 14 hours, winds through all the east coast highlights: the big metropolises of New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and the quaint countryside of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The Vermonter not only provides unbelievable views out your passenger window of skyscrapers, farmland, beautiful churches, and sweeping valleys, but it’s also a great source of transportation for skiers, as it provides easy access to resorts like Bolton Valley and Sugarbush. One-way tickets start at $74. 7. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: A Vintage Steam-Powered Journey Through Colorado Step back in time and experience Colorado’s beauty on the coal-fired, steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train (durangotrain.com), which offers service between the two mountain towns. The train trip, 3.5 hours each way, allows passengers to eat lunch and explore the former mining town for a couple of hours before heading back to Durango. Along the way, riders can glimpse canyons along the Animas River and the plentiful spruces of the San Juan National Forest as the train steadily chugs along through the changing elevation levels. Riders can also opt to be dropped off to fish and hike at secluded locations that are inaccessible by car. Round-trip tickest start at $89.

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