First time in L.A.? Want the local experience?

First time in L.A.? Want the local experience?

San Fernando Valley #1 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley #1 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I’m going to run down the beautiful San Fernando Valley for you. Here are some attractions, Points of Interest, good restaurants, and fun things to do. This list is nowhere near complete and things are constantly changing!

Don’t say there’s nothing to do and nowhere good to eat in the San Fernando Valley! Also, you”ll probably find a celebrity sighting or three if you get lucky.

San Fernando Valley #2 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley #2 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Let’s start at Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal CityWalk with lots of places to eat/drink/shop on the hill, Firenze Osteria (Fabio from “Top Chef”) Italian restaurant,

Universal CityWalk (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Universal CityWalk (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Universal CityWalk Hollywood (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Universal CityWalk Hollywood (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

North Hollywood: Television Academy, NoHo Arts District and it’s many theatre companies, The Federal Bar, Circus Liquor and the giant clown sign on Cahuenga, Los Angeles Valley College, North Hollywood Park, Tiki No Bar, Joe Peep’s Pizza, Bar One: a craft beer bar, Krua Thai restaurant,

 

Atwater Village: Atwater Village Theatre, The Village Bakery & Cafe Proof Bakery, Canele Restaurant,

Burbank: Warner Brothers Studios, Disney Studios, Burbank Media Center, Bob’s Big Boy, Johnny Carson Park, Market City Caffe Italian restaurant, Smoke House Restaurant, Burbank equestriain center, Pickwick Bowl, Colony Theatre, Ribs USA, Arnie Morton’s The Steakhouse – Burbank,

Glendale: The Americana at Brand Shopping Center, Autry Museum, Griffith Park, Forest Lawn (there are two cemeteries, one near Griffith Park and one in Glendale), Jax Bar & Grill, Griffith Park and the Observatory, Griffith Park Travel Town, Los Angeles Zoo, Tam O’Shanter restaurant, Damon’s Steak House, Mori Teppan Grill, Billy’s Deli – Glendale, (continue east on the 134 freeway to Eagle Rock and Pasadena)

Sun Valley: Hansen Dam Park, Georgio’s Pizza and Sports Bar,

Studio City: CBS Studio Center, The Village restaurant, CA DEL SOLE restaurant, Black Market Liquor Bar, Spark Woodfire Grill, Vitello’s Italian Restaurant, Loteria Grill, Du-par’s Restaurant & Bakery, Fryman Canyon, The Six Restaurant, City Wok Chinese restaurant, Henry’s Tacos, Art’s Delicatessen & Restaurant, Firefly Studio City restaurant and bar,

Spark Italian Woodfire Grill in Studio City (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Spark Italian Woodfire Grill in Studio City (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks: Sherman Oaks Galleria, Sherman Oaks Castle Park, Casa Vega, Westfield Fashion Square, Smoke City Market bbq restaurant, Delmonico’s Steak and Lobster House, Café Bizou restaurant, Blu Jam Café, The Getty Center, Skirball Cultural Center, Bamboo Cuisine Chinese restaurant, Valley Inn restaurant,

Cafe Bizou in Sherman Oaks (copyright 2012 JoshWillTravel)

Cafe Bizou in Sherman Oaks (copyright 2012 JoshWillTravel)

Van Nuys: Van Nuys Courthouse and historic district, Lake Balboa Park, Puro Sabor Peruvian restaurant, Swiss Chef restaurant, Salsa And Beer Mexican restaurant (Papas &Beer), Sepulveda Recreation Center, Japanese Gardens, Woodley Avenue Park,

Lake Balboa Park - Los Angeles, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lake Balboa Park – Los Angeles, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Encino: Encino Commons, Okumura Sushi Restaurant, Sushi Hirosuke, Larsen’s Steakhouse, Versailles Cuban restaurant, Taj Mahal Indian restaurant, Balboa Sports Center, Los Encinos State Historic Park, Benihana Japanese restaurant, Yamato’s Japanese Restaurant, Aroma Bakery Cafe, Encino Velodrome,

Oh yeah, we're gonna have sushi. Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Oh yeah, we’re gonna have sushi.
Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tarzana/Reseda: Tarzana Village, Le Sanglier French Restaurant, Fabrocini’s Italian Kitchen, Sushi Ichiban Kan, Bea’s Bakery, Superwok Chinese restaurant, Las Fuentes Mexican restaurant, Sol y Luna Mexican restaurant,

Le Sanglier (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Le Sanglier (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Northridge: Northridge Fashion Center, California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC), Pacific Theatres Winnetka 21, A & W Seafood Chinese restaurant, Brent’s Deli, Mandarin Deli Restaurant (soup dumplings), (continue northwest on the 118 freeway to Simi Valley)

 

Woodland Hills: CA: Warner Center, Westfield Topanga Mall, Yang Chow Restaurant, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, Pierce College: Farm Center, Arnie Morton’s The Steakhouse, My Brother’s Bar-B-Q, (continue west on the 101 freeway to Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks)

Drive Topanga Canyon south over the Santa Monica Mountains to Topanga State Park, Saddle Peak Lodge, and down to the Pacific Coast Highway for access to Malibu Beach,

Drive Mulholland Drive from Cahuenga Blvd to the 405 freeway at Sepulveda or vice versa. Great views of the valley day or night!

San Fernando Valley Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

OTHER UNIQUE EATS (multiple locations):

In-N-Out Burger in North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, and Woodland Hills

Katsu-ya in Encino and Studio City

Cheesecake Factory in Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills

Cupid’s Hot Dogs in Northridge and Tarzana

Tommy’s Burgers in North Hollywood and Van Nuys

Solley’s Deli in Van Nuys and Woodland Hills, Jerry’s Deli in Studio City and Encino

Mulberry Street NY Pizzeria in Encino and Sherman Oaks

El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills

Zankou Chicken in Tarzana and Sherman Oaks

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito in Woodland Hills, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There are numerous public and private Golf Gourses, Tennis Courts and Country Clubs in and around the valley.

The Woodland Hills Country Club (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Woodland Hills Country Club (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are also numerous city parks, bike paths, small dog parks and urban garden areas. The rehabilitation of the L.A. River is an ongoing project.

 

 

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area http://www.nps.gov/samo has 500 miles of trails and spans 153,075 acres, the world’s largest urban national park!

Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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San Fernando Valley Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley at night (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley at night (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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Mother’s Day Matinee at the Colony Theatre and a Party at Bow & Truss Restaurant

Mother’s Day Matinee of “The Lion In Winter” with Mom at the Colony Theatre in Burbank

"The Lion in Winter" Matinee at the Colony Theatre in Burbank

“The Lion in Winter” Matinee at the Colony Theatre in Burbank

Colony Theatre in Burbank (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Colony Theatre in Burbank (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Just across from IKEA at the Media Center in Burbank is the Colony Theatre, enter the parking structure on 3rd Street. Parking on Sunday afternoon (and Mother’s Day) is always tight! Enter the theatre on Level 4. They have a lovely lobby with the box office window inside, a concession area (Coffee, water, soda, candy etc.) and a “gallery” with weird art for sale.

The play was “The Lion in Winter” starring Ian Buchannan and Marriette Hartley. Mariette is a friend of the family, and I worked with Ian a long time ago on David Lynch’s “On The Air” for Lynch/Frost Productions and ABC television.

A quick drive and then Party Time with Mom! On Magnolia Blvd between Lankershim and Vineland is Bow & Truss Restaurant in North Hollywood (aka NoHo for out-of-towners) – so right away you know there’s no parking…

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have valet parking on Magnolia (so I found a space down the street and around the corner on Lankershim). There’s a large patio yard exterior and a very cold industrial interior. Concrete floors, open floor plan, red brick walls and bow & truss ceilings (hence the name). There’s an open kitchen and prep area in one of the corners and a large square bar in the center of the dining room. IT’S LOUD! The kitchen and bar noise echoes off the brick and concrete, and as is too often typical they play “trendy” music throughout the space at a sound level that is more annoying than it is enjoyable. It was late afternoon on Mother’s Day and the place wasn’t very busy, so I can’t imagine how loud it must get with a full house and bar. The seats, stools and booths are hard wood, so it’s not very comfortable and there’s no intimate space so it’s not very romantic. There are “picnic” tables under a tented area and a lounge space with couches and small tables on the outside patio.

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Bar – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

On The Menu: Fig bread with blue cheese butter, shrimp and scallop ceviche on a fried avocado, lamb ribs, pork belly with kale and crackling, chop chop salad, filet tacos and a coke. Also sampled were the paella de la tierra and pork cheek tacos.

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Fig Bread – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Ceviche – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pork Belly – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lamb Ribs – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Chop Chop salad – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Filet Tacos – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Foodies and restaurant reviewers have been going “ape-sh*t” crazy for this place. So, there’s the menu, the food and the service left to talk about. As you can see, the menu is different and offers a variety of Spanish food (on small plates). I did not have a good experience with the food and for all the people that were working there, I thought the service could have been much better! (I counted three managers, two hostesses, two bartenders, five cooks and six servers for a half empty restaurant)

Everything sounds and looks good, but the taste part was my issue: the lamb, pork belly and steak on the tacos were all TOO FATTY. The fig bread was delicious, but it’s more like cake than bread…and it’s pricey. They liked the paella, the chop chop salad and the pork tacos, but after three dishes of disappointment I was done. I didn’t even stay for dessert.

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Patio – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Patio – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Patio – Bow & Truss Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Well, maybe it was just me, but it wasn’t a good dining experience. And that’s my story. Eat here before it’s something else…..

Bow & Truss – 11122 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood 91601 http://www.bowandtruss.com

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Dinner at El Torito in Woodland Hills

Mexican Food! El Torito (near Warner Center) in Woodland Hills has been at this location for many, many years. Casual dining, good Americanized Mexican food, and cocktails have been the foundation for this restaurant’s success.

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ON THE MENU: Chips and salsa, Caesar salad, Mex Fix Platter: chicken & avocado roll, steak nachos, buffalo wings, quesadilla, beef taquitos with sour cream, guacamole, ranch dressing, & sweet sauce. Here’s the “food porn”:

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito – Chips & Salsa (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito – Strawberry Margarita (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito – Mexican Caesar Salad (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at El Torito – Mex Fix Appetizer Platter (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

and Deep Fried Ice Cream for dessert! Sorry, no picture because it got “inhaled”….

El Torito Restaurant 6040 Canoga Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91367 http://www.eltorito.com

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I Posted This Travel Answer About Crater Lake!

Crater Lake is a volcanic caldera lake in southern Oregon. It’s the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and famous for its deep blue color, water clarity and elevation. The lake partly fills a nearly 4,000 feet deep caldera that was formed around 5,677 BC by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama.

Crater Lake, Oregon (photo from wikipedia.org)

Aerial View of Crater Lake, Oregon (photo from wikipedia.org)

Q: Place to stay at Crater Lake National Park? A: The best place to stay inside the park is the historic Crater Lake Lodge on the rim of the lake. Spend the extra money and get a room with a view if available! From the nps.gov website: http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/hours.htm Crater Lake Lodge has 71 rooms and is normally open mid May through mid October (2014 Operating Season is May 16 – October 12, 2013). Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made on-line or by calling (888) 774-2728 Cabins At Mazama has 40 units and is located in the Mazama Village complex. It is open late May through early October (2014 Operating Season is May 23 – October 5, 2014). Reservations are recommended. (888) 774-2728 RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED! Accommodations for spring and summer book early and sell out fast! Check the nps.gov website for info. There are additional places to stay (motels and cabins for rent) and activities (rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and more) available outside the park near Lost Creek Lake, Prospect, Fort Klamath, along the Rogue River and Highway 62 down the mountain. http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravelhttp://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

I Posted These Travel Answers About Las Vegas!

Las Vegas: Great food, not outrageous price, near Aria Casino?

Aria Resort - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Aria Resort – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: We will be traveling to Las Vegas this summer, looking for great places to eat within walking distance of the Aria Casino that are under $30 a plate. Looking for a tasty meal that doesn’t break the bank.

Late lunch spot for a couple, near the Wynn Hotel?

Q: My wife and I are landing in Vegas around 1:30 and want to stop for a late lunch on our way to the hotel. I normally would just go to Joe’s for some stone crab, but thought there might be a new place for us to try. We are staying at the Wynn, but any recommendations are welcome. We are fine (and might prefer) eating at the bar.

A: There are so many restaurants and places to eat, and they change constantly in Vegas.

Here are five options for great food at a reasonable price near (but not walking distance to) the Aria Resort and Wynn Hotel:

Grand Lux Cafe, Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Grand Lux Cafe, Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

A reasonably inexpensive meal can be found at the Grand Lux Café (inside the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts). I like the hand tossed, wood-fired pizzas and you can get them “to go” in a pizza box. (~$16.00 per pizza) http://www.grandluxcafe.com/locations.htm

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Pizza from Grand Lux Cafe –  Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Go off-strip to this “hole-in-the-wall” #1 in the USA rated Thai Restaurant, the Lotus of Siam. Not really a secret, because the the locals and most “foodies” know about this amazing restaurant! (~$9.00-21.00 per dish and they have lunch & dinner specials) http://www.saipinchutima.com

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill is at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Opened in 2004, the southwestern cuisine is truly fantastic (but it’s not inexpensive). From the Mesa Grill website: “Bobby developed his signature style of American cookery, marrying the flavors of southwest with his love of grilling at Mesa Grill. Bobby presents dishes like New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Chile Sauce, Sweet Potato Tamale, and Crushed Pecan Butter. In a nod to the West, he also includes a Chiptole Glazed Rib-Eye with Red and Green Chile Sauce. Las Vegas’ proximity to Mexico gives the restaurant access to some of that country’s highest-quality tequila and mezcal offerings, and the expansive wine list has a global reach yet maintains an emphasis on top American wines. The combination of Mesa Grill’s magnificent decor, the exciting vibe of the casino atmosphere and Bobby Flay’s stunning range of textures, flavors and colors incorporated into his menu continue to electrify diners year after year.”  http://www.mesagrill.com/las-vegas-restaurant/index.php

or have too much amazing Bavarian (German) food and beer at the Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas. Sausages, sauerkraut, spaetzel, pork shanks, and all kinds of other Bavarian specials. A lot of food, so bring friends! (Daily specials start at $9.99) http://www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com 

And of course, the Peppermill Restaurant is great anytime day or night (open 24/7 with a secret off-menu locals’ late night special Steak & Shrimp for cheap) and they have great cocktails too! http://www.peppermilllasvegas.com

NOTE: Do not eat at the MGM Buffet! (read my other blog)

Bon cha’nce! Bon appétit! Good luck & Good eating!

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Is it true if you eat at Tao Restaurant, you get into Tao Nightclub free and skip the line?

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Is it true if you eat at Tao Restaurant, you get into Tao Nightclub for free & skip the line?

A: TAO Asian Bistro, TAO Nightclub and Tao Beach inside the The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

From the Tao website: “Dinner and Nightlife Packages – As low as $82.50 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). Enjoy an evening at TAO Asian Bistro and Nightclub! Package Includes Three Course Dinner, Nightclub Admission and a VIP Table with One Bottle and Mixers. Available on dinner reservations before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm.”

http://taorestaurantlv.com/reservations/

The menu with this package and bottle service seems a to be a pretty good deal!

I’ve heard that admission was included if you have dinner at the restaurant, but I’m sure it depends on the night of the week and the event at the club. Contact the restaurant directly for reservations and questions.

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Bachelor party venues?

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: One of my best buddies is getting married next year and as a groomsman, I’ve been tasked being one of the organizers for his bachelor party. Here’s the thing: none of us groomsman are really party animals, so we really have no idea where to start, but we just know that we want our buddy to have a good time and that we want to go to Vegas, just for the experience. Any ideas on which venues to start looking at and/or bachelor party-type activities?

A: Bachelor Party in Las Vegas!

Do you want the full blown “Hangover, part 4” or just a good time?

First, how many people will be attending? Do you have hotel reservations? Do you want to have dinner, go clubbing, go drinking, go strip clubbing, hit an ultra-lounge or three, see a show, do some gambling, ride a roller coaster, or maybe shoot automatic weapons?

Or do you want to really get wild?

You can get a nice package deal with the hotels if you have a large group (sometimes, all you need is a block of five rooms). Hotel rooms, dinner, and entertainment can all be arranged, contact the group sales manager.

Rent a limo or party bus if you want to travel around, beyond walking distance. There are companies that can arrange the whole evening, just know that they are probably getting “kickbacks” from the party venues. NOTE: Be sure to shop around, negotiate for the best deal and extras, and always check safety and consumer reports before booking with any company!

You are on your own for strippers, escorts, hookers and “party favors”.

Good luck and be safe!

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MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Vegas Sunset Through a Green Metal Screen at the MGM Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Travel Answers about Yosemite: Best Camping Sites in Yosemite Valley?

Yosemite National Park: Best camping sites in the Yosemite Valley area?

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Hi, I am looking for a camping site around the valley area. We are going to visit in mid June for 2 nights and are looking for a good spot to camp. Thanks!

A: Do you have a reservation? Most of the campsites in Upper, Lower, and North Pines Campground for summer are “sold out” before May! If you don’t have reservations, you can try to get a campsite in the valley on the day you are there, or there’s “Backpacker’s Camp” (Camp 4) which is “first-come/first-served”.

From the National Park Service website:

“Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, of which up to seven are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.

Campground Reservations

Reservations are required from about March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley’s car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Campground reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 am Pacific time. Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am!”

Here is the link to the nps.gov site:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

If you can’t get camping in the valley, there are campgrounds in the park on the rim (about an hour from the valley) and just outside the park as well.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

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And a Follow Up Question:

Q: Hey Josh! Thanks so much for the super insightful answer. I found out that as you said, most campsites are fully booked. I found availability in the following: 1. Camp Wawona, 2. Silver Lake Campground, 3. Soquel Campground, 4. Crane Flat Campground. Do you know any of these ? Any thoughts? Thanks, Yaniv G. 

A: Check and see if Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Valley is still available!

Camp Wawona is on the rim near the Wawona Hotel, Yosemite’s Badger Pass, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point. Wawona is also close to Oakhurst which is a real town with markets, laundromats, restaurants, etc.

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree - Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree – Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Soquel Campground and Crane Flat Campground are farther away.

See my other Yosemite post for Hotels in the Valley.

 Half Dome - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Spring 1985 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from across the valley - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Fall 2011 (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

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Travel Answers About Maui, Hawaii!

Q: On a Honeymoon, where are Secluded beaches on Maui?

A: If you take the Road to Hana

Road to Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Road to Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

you’ll come to Waianapanapa State Park and it’s black sand beaches and amazing polished lava rock shore.

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/maui/waianapanapa.cfm

Have lunch at the beautiful Travaasa Hana Hotel (which once was the original Hana-Maui Hotel and Ranch)

Hana-Maui Ranch, Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Hana-Maui Ranch, Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Be sure to stop at Hasegawa’s General Store before you visit the Seven Sacred Pools.

Hana Bay - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Hana Bay – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

If you’re feeling adventurous there’s a great day hike to Waimoku Falls across dried river beds and through tropical and bamboo forests.

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Top: Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls Bottom: Road to Hana (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Top: Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls – Bottom: Stop on the Road to Hana (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Waimoku Falls - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Waimoku Falls – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Waimoku Falls - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Waimoku Falls – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Take the long road home on the Piilani highway around the southeast side of Maui and visit the Palapalo Ho’omau Church where Charles Lindbergh is buried before heading back to central or west Maui.

Magical Maui - Lahaina, Maui, HI

Magical Maui – Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

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Q: Reasonably priced, laid-back accommodations on Maui?

Lahaina Sunset - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Lahaina Sunset – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

A: I recommend the Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Wailea-Makena on Maui!

*****No resort fees! Free internet and parking!*****

From their website:

The Makena Beach & Golf Resort features over 330 sunshine filled days for uninterrupted fun in the sun! From kayaking and canoe paddling to beachfront yoga and ukulele lessons, Makena offers the best of Maui activities without ever having to leave the Wailea-Makena area.

Featuring: 2 pools and hot tub, 2,500 sq. ft. Fitness Center, Maluaka Beach offering a variety of water activities, six-court Makena Tennis Club, Outdoor Play Center featuring shuffle board, ping pong, miniature golf, croquet, bocce ball, badminton and volleyball!

Daily list of complimentary and discounted resort guest activities. Convenient to Maui Golf and Shopping. Full service Concierge desk offering a variety of Maui Activities.

*****

They have nice packages available! The Full Makena includes daily breakfast for two (and it’s a great breakfast) and the fifth night FREE. Airfare and rental car add ons available too.

BOOK DIRECT ONLINE: http://www.makenaresortmaui.com

As a travel agent, I booked clients there and they only had great things to say and wonderful pictures to share.

Hana Maui Sunrise - Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Hana Maui Sunrise – Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

(I posted this answer, all photos copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau

Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau

The Washington Monument is Open to the Public Again!

The Washington Monument, the most prominent structure in Washington, D.C., reopened to the public yesterday after being closed for repairs from damage caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake on August 23, 2011!

Washington Monument (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Washington Monument (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

The 555-foot, 5-1/8″ marble obelisk was built between 1848 and 1884 as a tribute to George Washington’s military leadership from 1775-1783 during the American Revolution. He led the Continental Army to victory, and then became the nation’s first president under the Constitution. Construction took place in two major phases, 1848-56, and 1876-84. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, and officially opened to the public on October 9, 1888. http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc72.htm

Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - Washington D.C. (copyright 2010 Joshua Weisel)

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial – Washington D.C. (copyright 2010 Joshua Weisel)

Washington Monument National Park Homepage: http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

National Mall - Washington D.C. (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

National Mall – Washington D.C. (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

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Travel Answers about Yosemite: How Many Days in Yosemite? Where to Stay?

Travel Answers about Yosemite: How Many Days in Yosemite? Where to Stay?

How many days in Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite Valley First snow of the season! (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley First snow of the season! (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Answer: It depends on how much of the park you want to explore. If you just want to see Yosemite Valley, you should allow at least three days. You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are because there are great things to do and day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience. Ride the Shuttlebus and walk the valley, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Yosemite Beach, hike to the top of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley, climb to the top of Half Dome or El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and the Ansel Adams Gallery and be sure to check out the The Ahwahnee Hotel.

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona Point (and historic Wawona Hotel), the Mariposa Grove and Tuolomne Meadows Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees:

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Try skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass (in winter), visit Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others just outside the park. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork of the Merced in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

View from the Visitor's Center - Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

View from the Visitor’s Center – Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website for more info.

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Good places to stay for families in the park?

Answer: In Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a luxury resort and the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is more of a family hotel/motel. Curry Village has tent cabins and some hotel/motel type rooms as well.

There are a few campgrounds with covered camp sites, tent sites and rv sites if you want the full experience of “roughing it”.

Wawona Hotel - Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Historic Wawona Hotel – Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

The historic Wawona Hotel and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge (tent cabins and campsites only) are both inside the park concessionaires on the rim of the valley. Near Wawona there is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees and skiing in winter at Yosemite’s Badger Pass and Toulomne Meadows and Tenaya Lake are worth the trip when the roads are open and there is a grove of Giant Sequoias there as well.

There are a number of hotels, condos for rent, cabins and campgrounds just outside the park too.

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It’s the Eiffel Tower’s Birthday!

The Eiffel Tower was dedicated and opened to the public on May 6, 1889.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

The tower is the tallest structure in Paris at 1063 ft tall (about the same height as an 81 story building) and the most-visited paid monument in the world. 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011 and the tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

Eiffel tower fireworks on July 14th Bastille Day

The Eiffel Tower – Fireworks on July 14th Bastille Day

The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 906 feet above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or elevator to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public.

The Eiffel Tower 1944

The Eiffel Tower 1944 – The French Flag Flies Again!

 

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