Rancho Los Encinos in Encino, California

Rancho Los Encinos in Encino, California

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Los Encinos State Historic Park 2017

“Los Encinos State Historic Park, just northeast of the intersection of Balboa and Ventura Boulevards in Encino, California, was the hub of Rancho El Encino. Located in the San Fernando Valley, this California rancho includes the original eight-room de la Ossa Adobe, the two-story limestone Garnier building, a blacksmith shop, a natural spring, and a pond.”

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Rancho Los Encinos 1949

“The natural spring provided a year-round source of water for the ancient, autonomous, village of Siutcanga.  The village was home to Chumash, Tongva, and Tataviam people, who later were called “Fernandeños” by the Spanish due to the enslavement of these three groups to the San Fernando Mission.  An excellent description of this village was recorded as part of the 1769 Portola Expedition. This Spanish expedition reached the San Fernando Valley and named it “El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos” (The Valley of St. Catherine of Bononia of the Oaks).”

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Rancho El Encino 1880s

September 4th, 1781 – El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles is founded!

“Located along a significant travel route between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the property passed through many hands between the 1840s and the early 20th century. Today, the park contains exhibits related to the agricultural enterprises of Rancho El Encino’s various owners, including Mission Indian, Mexican Californio, French, and French Basque families.”

National Register of Historic Places: NPS-71000142
and California Historical Landmark Number 689

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Dogs are allowed (on leash)

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California Department of Parks & Recreation – Los Encinos State Historical Park
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=619

Los Encinos Docent Association http://los-encinos.org

Read our Blog Post about the Lakeside Cafe in Encino, with a view of the park>
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/dinner-at-the-lakeside-cafe-in-encino/

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Los Encinos State Historic Park
16756 Moorpark St., Encino CA 91436-1068 (No Parking Lot – Street Parking Only!)
The Park is Open Wed – Sun 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Admission is FREE!
The Visitors’ Center in the Garnier Building is open during regular park hours.

 



 

MOVE BURNING MAN TO CALIFORNIA!

Move the Burning Man event to California and away from the BIA!

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Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed near Ridgecrest, California (not my pic)

There is a dry lakebed (Cuddeback Lake) near Ridgecrest, CA (BLM land) that could accomodate the Burning Man event. The economic impact of the event would be year round and millions of dollars for the county and state. The access and location would be much better than their current location and they wouldn’t have to deal with Nevada. I spoke with the CEO/President of the Chamber of Commerce and they would be interested in talking with Burning Man. Have a nice day.

UPDATE 10-22-18: So, yeah, it was a pretty dumb idea. But maybe someday….

NOTE: New Blog posts coming soon! Just gotta finish them….

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Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino

Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino, California

NOTE: This Blog is still under construction!
Once again wordpress is acting weird, so we published before the Blog was finished!

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Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino, California

It’s Thursday night and let’s go out to dinner!
Chinese? Japanese? Deli? Where do you want to go?
I don’t know, someplace different.
Okay, ….

How about the Lakeside Cafe in Encino?

We went there one time for dinner a long time ago, it was soon after they opened in the old El Torito building on Ventura Boulevard (just east of Balboa Blvd) adjacent to Los Encinos State Historic Park with a fantastic view of the lake.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

El Torito Mexican restaurant had been in the same space for years and was an Encino “constant”! After they closed, a couple of other restaurant/bar/club ventures tried to make a “go” of it and failed. And now the tenant is the Lakeside Cafe, a combination coffee house and bar-restaurant and now also a performance space with live jazz and other music.

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El Torito Mexican Restaurant

We went there just for dinner at about 6:30pm. They have Valet Parking for $3.00 in a lot off Ventura and there’s metered street parking that operates 8am-8pm everyday except Sunday. We found a spot on the street and entered through the Valet lot entrance (there’s also an entrance on Ventura).

 

The “Front-of-House” on Ventura is set up like a coffee house.

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Lakeside Cafe “Front-of-House” on Ventura Blvd – Coffee House

 

You can enter the restaurant from Ventura Blvd through the coffee house area and center room. There is additional inside table seating here away from the bar area.

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Lakeside Cafe Center Room, Host Desk Entrance from Valet Lot, Additional Indoor Tables and the Waiting Area as seen from Coffee House side

If you enter through the Valet lot you walk into the center room and arrive at the Host desk and the waiting area. There are couches, a coffee table and benches for additional seating against the wall.

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There is a side guest table as well. Would you care for some literature?

Sunday Brunch, Happy Hour 3pm-6pm, Live Jazz on Saturdays and the Catering Menu are featured on the promotional material available on the guest table, on your table and inside the menu. Quality marketing and promotion is good business (direct to customer inside the restaurant).

The Dining Room, the Bar and the Outdoor Deck Patio on the Lake

The restaurant’s dining room is open to the elements because of the outdoor seating and deck. It was a lovely evening, the doors were open, but as the sun set it got cooler, and then colder due to its location on the lake. We knew this was inevitable and we decided to sit inside the bar area dining room away from the doors when we arrived.

There was a good crowd, but it wasn’t too crowded when we arrived. They have it set up as a “cafe” with wood 4-top tables and nice chairs in the dining room. On our previous visit we sat at a bar table on tall stools and it was not comfortable. The dining areas are wide open, so it has a cafeteria vibe where you’re eating with everyone in the room. Also, there are only hard surfaces indoors (wood floor and glass windows), so it gets really loud inside even when it’s not crowded. I would not recommend trying to have a romantic dinner inside, although it might be nice place for a rendezvous outside during the afternoon or on a warm summer night.

There is a small covered outdoor deck patio, which is separate from the other outdoor seating by the lake. It would be nice for having a small private cocktail or dinner party.

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They have a very nice bar, unfortunately it takes up a lot of space in the Dining Room area, and makes the dining room part of the bar area, adding a lot of traffic and noise to the room.

NOTE: There is a DISCLAIMER NOTICE in the menu!

 

 

Outdoor Seating – Dining Al Fresco on the Lake!

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The Lake and the Dining Room Entrance from the Outdoor Seating Area

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There’s outdoor seating by the lake, which is a beautiful place to dine al fresco on a warm San Fernando Valley day or night. Be sure to read the Disclaimer in the menu though!

The Dinner Menu and Bar Offerings:

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Cocktails $12?
It’s a nice place, but they have “westside” prices in the heart of the valley!
The food was good, but their food items and drinks are expensive compared to many other neighborhood restaurants, which is probably the reason we haven’t been back since the first time we ate here. We most likely would have ordered drinks otherwise.

On The Menu: fried calamari, a Santa Fe salad, fettucine chicken alfredo and a coke

The calamari was excellent, lightly fried and crispy/chewy! The Santa Fe salad was good, but The Cheesecake Factory’s salad dressing is the standard to which all other Santa Fe salads are compared. This one “not as good”. And the fettucine chicken alfredo was tasty, but just a little bland. The thin sliced chicken and pasta was cooked perfectly, which is sometimes hard to accomplish with a pasta sauce. The service was only okay, it was a little scattered and could have and should have been better. Our entrees arrived pretty soon after the appetizer (while we were still eating the calamari), which is good for fast service, but bad in relation to “timing the meal”. Nothing to really be upset about though.

According to the literature, they have Sunday Brunch and Happy Hour at the bar 3pm-6pm. They have live music on Saturdays and they do catering too.

Here’s their Catering Menu:

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Lakeside Cafe Catering Menu

Lakeside Cafe16817 Ventura Blvd., Encino, California 91436
818-616-2430  www.lakesidecafe.com @LakesideEncino

Read our previous Blog Los Encinos Park

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Visit & Win at the Lakeside Cafe!

Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

So you’re probably wondering about the title….here’s the story:

We got invited to see and hear a blues band play in Pasadena on Saturday night at a place called Big Mama’s Rib Shack. I was not responsible for the planning or execution, once again I was a passenger along for the ride.

Someone may have told someone that the Rib Shack’s food wasn’t good, so the plan was to eat before the show and the decision was to go for Mexican food.

Two Tacos at La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant

Take the 101 freeway south to the 134 east past Glendale and into Pasadena. I wanted to take more pictures along the way, but “stupid” traffic had us running late to dinner. We finally arrived (only ten minutes late) at the restaurant and found a good parking spot on the street right out front.

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

The restaurant is a relatively small place, with simple Mexican decor, and it quickly filled up with people once we were seated. We ordered drinks and then perused the menu.

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

 

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

 

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La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

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It’s a standard Mexican restaurant menu with tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the usual appetizers and entrees. EXCEPT THE FOOD IS GREAT! IT’S REAL MEXICAN FOOD! 

On the Menu: 2 crispy tacos, one shredded beef and one chicken, two chicken enchiladas in mole sauce with rice & beans, chips & salsa and a margarita pre show!

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Margarita – with a lot of tequila!

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Two Crispy Tacos – One Chicken & One Beef with Chips & Salsa

Really good crispy tacos! Excellent Mole sauce! Gringo style Mexican food done right!

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Two Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce and Rice & Beans

I was told that we would be eating at the show later, so I didn’t try a burrito, a combo or the Fiesta platter of appetizers…and I would happily go back. They also have an “All you can eat” Taco special that I would like to try.

We finished eating and then motored across Pasadena to Big Mama’s Rib Shack.

Blues & BBQ at Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena, California

Go north up Lake Avenue, past The Hat (really good pastrami sandwiches) and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, and you’ll come to Big Mama’s BBQ Southern Country Rib Shack.

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena – Southern Country BBQ

The building’s not much to look at and the interior design is “whacked”. There are white vinyl booths on one side, tables in the middle with both plastic and wood chairs, and a beer & wine bar in the corner of the dining room. there was an area cleared as a stage (but no stage) next to the bar and a small area for the band’s merchandise as well. They have Saturday night performances, but it’s not real design as a performance space at all.

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena

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Heineken

Here’s the menu: pork, chicken, seafood or beef, beer, wine and soft drinks and a full list of classic BBQ sides. Tickets were $20 for the show and dinner was also required, so we ordered food, with the plan to take home a good portion for lunch on Sunday.

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What’s on the Menu at Big Mama’s Rib Shack?

On the Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs, mac’n’cheese, hush puppies, cornbread muffins, collared greens, yams & Heineken beer

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BBq dinner

There were only two servers and a bartender covering the crowd, so we ordered before the first set and the food came during the performance before the intermission. And contrary to what we had been told, the food was good (not great, but good) country BBQ.

8:00pm – SHOWTIME!  John Németh and his blues band from Memphis, Tennessee

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John Németh from Memphis, Tennessee

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He Brought His Many Harps! (Blues Harmonicas)

I checked out the merchandise and the band’s setup before the show. I had never seen or heard the band before, but when I saw the collection of harps I knew it was going to be a good show. And I was not disappointed, the music was great!

John Németh and his blues band played two rockin’ sets of Chicago and Texas inspired music. He really is a master of the harp (blues harmonica) and his backing band was tight! The guitar, bass and drums were well rehearsed from playing gigs all over the country. At one point in the second set a guest bassist ( a former band member) stepped in for a few songs. I periscoped three of the songs and links to the live performance videos are located below.

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Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

More Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

Even more Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

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John Németh’s Upcoming Gigs! Check them out if you can!

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La Fiesta Grande1107 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030 (I’m told the Colorado Blvd location is closed)

Big Mama’s Rib Shack1453 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104 http://www.bigmamaspasadena.com

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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A couple of my travel answers about South Lake Tahoe

A couple of travel answers about South Lake Tahoe:

Q: Nice hotels in South Lake Tahoe? I will be traveling to Reno/ Lake Tahoe in the beginning of December and I’m having a tough time figuring out where to stay. I would like to stay between 100-150.00 a night. Any suggestions? I have looked at the Hyatt and Harrahs but wanted to try something maybe a little less corporate. Not much of a skier so I’m trying to stay away from big ski lodges. ~Stacey B., Denver

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A: Aston Lakeland Village Resort in South Lake Tahoe is a pretty good value. The lodge rooms are nice (and some have full kitchenettes if you like to cook on your own to save money). The property is right on the lake so you can walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. There are tennis courts and 2 swimming pools, a jacuzzi spa, laundry room and free coffee too. The property is a 10-15 minute drive from state line and the casinos: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Harveys Lake Tahoe, MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa and the new Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe. It’s definitely not corporate and there are lots of walking paths and tall pine trees on site. For less expensive accommodation options try the motels along Hwy 50 Lake Tahoe Blvd. (Watch out for the Police and Don’t Speed!)

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Q: Best bars and restaurants in South Lake / near Heavenly? In a few weeks I’ll be spending a weekend snowboarding at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe (and will be staying at the new Hard Rock Hotel). What are some of best places to eat in the area? I’m specifically interested in good breakfast spots and must-visit places for dinner (from $-$$$$ I’m open to all suggestions). Also, if there are any great bars (especially those with a great beer selection) I’d love to know. Thanks! ~Trevor M., Los Angeles

A: The Forrest Buffet at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe is pretty good. It’s on the 18th floor and has a great view of the lake and mountains. If you time it right you can watch the sunset while you dine. “All You Can Eat”, there’s a lot of good stuff on the dinner and Saturday/Sunday brunch (sorry no breakfast or lunch) menus and it’s a pretty good value for the price in my opinion. (and you can usually find a coupon for a few dollars off per person)

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Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

12-13-14 New BLOG Posted!

13 December 2014 (posted Sunday 12-14-14)

12-13-14

The last sequential date this century, made up of four sequential digits: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

You may be wondering “What happened to Part 4 of the Roadtrip?” (see previous blog)

Well, it’s been weird around here lately. Once again I apologize to my loyal readers for being absent from my own Blog and leaving the story unfinished…

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I promise to continue the story of my trip to Ashland, Oregon very soon with tales of Lithia Park, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, antique shopping & fine dining in Ashland, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Reno, Lakeland Village, Harrah’s, Harvey’s, the Montbleu, and the road trip home on US 395 south (a beautiful 8 hour drive through central California).

So, it’s December again. Hooray for the winter holidays and holy days.

Happy Christmas! – Happy Hannukah! – Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Festivus! – and Happy New Year! (almost)

I wish you, my readers, a wonderful, safe and happy holiday season!

Ho! Ho! Ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Home for the holiday in Los Angeles and shared a wonderful feast with family and friends. (see previous Blog – just posted)

There were two big storms in the last week here in Southern California, and another one expected on Monday. We’ve gotten a lot of good rain, and as they say “We need the rain”. There was also a SMALL TORNADO hit south Los Angeles and someone got it on video!

Here’s the link to KTLA’s New Report: http://ktla.com/2014/12/12/tornado-strikes-south-l-a-neighborhood-rips-roof-off-building-residents/

And the full video with censored commentary from ABC: http://abc7news.com/434831/

We have a lot of fresh snow in the local mountains and all across the United States. Crazy conditions in the midwest and northeast! Winter is finally here. Stay warm and dry!

Talked about the weather and I’m not going to Blog about Politics, War and Racism today.

NOTE: Please read my previous Blog: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” Today there were massive rallies across the country to protest the POLICE STATE, VIOLENCE AND ABUSE OF POWER. I will update my previous blog very soon, and will title it “I Can’t Breathe!”

St. Louis County Police Stormtroopers in Ferguson, Missouri

St. Louis County Police Stormtroopers in Ferguson, Missouri

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Travel Answers: Yosemite!

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT YOSEMITE!

HOW MANY DAYS IN YOSEMITE VALLEY? 

It depends on how much of the park you want to explore or if you just want to see Yosemite Valley.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. There are great things to do and many day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience in and around the park.

WHAT ARE “MUST SEE” SIGHTS AND THINGS TO DO? 

In Yosemite Valley, ride the Shuttlebus, walk the valley paths and bridges, raft or inner tube down the river, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, hike to the top of any of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley or to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and see the Visitor Center and the Ansel Adams Gallery, shop at Curry Village and be sure to check out the Ahwahnee Hotel.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Groveand the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees, Wawona Point (and historic hotel), skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass in winter), Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

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 Merced River 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.

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

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

MOSQUITOES? 

Yes, there are mosquitoes in Yosemite National Park! They primarily feed at dusk and dawn, but you should be prepared and use repellent all day and night if you have reactions. From the http://www.nps.gov website:

  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, mainly during the summer. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants or consider staying indoors during these hours. Ticks cling to plants, waiting for a host (you) to walk by; walk down the middle of trails and avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use an effective insect repellent.
    Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection against mosquitoes, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET or permethrin to repel ticks.

WHERE TO STAY?

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.

In Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a luxury resort and the Yosemite Lodge at the Fallsis 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”.

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.

CAMPING?

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

NOTE: Check and see if Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Valley is still available! 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. 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. Soquel Campground and Crane Flat Campground are farther away.

COOKING IN YOSEMITE PARK?

INFO FOR WAWONA (AND OTHER) CAMPGROUNDS?

From the NPS.gov website: “Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker [33″(D)x45″(W)x18″(H)], and is near a bathroom with potable water and flushing toilets. You are required to store food properly in order to protect Yosemite’s bears.

In out-of-Valley campgrounds, fires are permitted at any time. Fires must always be attended and put out completely with water when not attended (do not let them smolder). Firewood collection (including pine cones and pine needles) is not permitted in Yosemite. We discourage visitors from bringing firewood from more than 50 miles away to prevent spread of forest pests. You can purchase firewood at stores near most campgrounds.

Camp wastewater must be disposed of in designated utility drains.”

The fire rings may have a grill, but you should plan on bringing EVERYTHING you want to have for cooking. There’s lots of information online about camping and camp cooking, so spend a little time researching “camp hacks” etc. so you’ll have some ideas.

Plan your meals, bring your ingredients and spices, if you’re car camping and you have room, bring the comforts you want. Keep it simple! Things you can cook in and with boiling water, things you can grill over a fire, things you can wrap in foil/cook in the fire, and things you don’t have to cook are best.

Remember to bring bottled WATER, cooking and eating utensils, can opener, corkscrew, trash bags and cleaning stuff that isn’t harmful to the environment!

HOW TO GET THERE?

If you’re flying in, you’re going to have to land in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Los Angeles. Each has it positives and negatives, so base your decision on the cost of airfare and then determine the best mode of transport from your destination city.

Rent a car (get unlimited mileage plus insurance) or take Amtrak (train and bus combo) from Los Angeles or San Francisco/Oakland. The bus will take you right into Yosemite National Park and drop you atYosemite Lodge at the Falls and it’s both less expensive and cleaner than driving! www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train

The drive from Los Angeles is about 6 hours, and you’ll travel the 5 freeway to interstate 99 through Bakersfield, Fresno and the Central Valley to interstate 41 into Yosemite.

The drive from the Bay Area is about 4 and 1/2 hours (could be longer with traffic) on highway 580 through San Leandro and Livermore to highway 205 through Manteca to interstate 120 into Yosemite.

NOTE: If you’re driving in the Sierra Mountains in the Fall, be prepared for rain and snow at higher elevations, some roads may require tire chains (sometimes a problem with a rental vehicle).

There are also tour companies that have chartered buses that will take you into the park, or backpack/bus adventure travel companies like Green Tortoise from San Francisco that include more than just transport: www.greentortoise.com/adventures/yosemite-national-park-tour-3d.php

NOTE: If you’re going to take a chartered bus, make sure the company is CA state licensed and check their safety and consumer record before buying a ticket!

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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)

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

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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