Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT ANNONUCES ANTONIO VOTTA AS EXECUTIVE CHEF FOR NEW RESTAURANTS LOCALE AND GINGER NOODLE BAR

 

Votta brings more than 10 years of experience to Willows Hotel & Spa’s culinary destinations

East County News Service

January 24, 2018 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort has announced Antonio Votta as Executive Chef of Willows Hotel & Spa’s new restaurants, Locale and Ginger Noodle Bar. His focus in this new role will be highlighting the very best locally sourced bounties for the farm-to-table inspired menus.

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT TO OPEN A NEW LUXURY TOWER IN FEBRUARY 2018

 

The newly revealed 159 all-suite luxury tower features adult-only wellness retreat

East County News Service

December 26, 2017 (Alpine) — Viejas Casino & Resort, a Forbes Travel Guide 4 Star rated and AAA 4 Diamond rated establishment, will open a new luxury tower in February 2018 as the third phase of its latest development plans. The newly unveiled tower Willows Hotel & Spa is designed as a resort within a resort, where a holistic approach to the guest experience will be customized to promote wellness.

FULL MOON FISHING AND EXTENDED WINTER HOURS COMING TO LAKE JENNINGS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2017 (Lakeside) – It’s a great time of year to bring the kids out to enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, lake views, fresh air,  campfires and S’mores at Lake Jennings in Lakeside. This easily accessible lake with beautiful mountain views will be open daily during winter break from Friday, December 22 through Sunday, January 7th.  You may even spot a pair of bald eagles frequenting the lake this winter.  Camping options include traditional tent camping, recreational vehicle (RV) sites, and tipis. 

Also mark your calendars for fishing by the light of a full moon on Saturday, January 13th from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

LAKE JENNINGS TIPI CAMPING PROVIDES FUN GETAWAY

 

 

By Mike Allen

Photos by Cindy Growden

December 12, 2017 (Lakeside, CA) -- When we traveled to Utah last year, we checked out a resort that had tipis and got to thinking this might be something we’d like to try.

So, when we discovered that Lake Jennings offers them at its campground in Lakeside, we arranged to spend a night in one.

THE STARS HAVE LINED UP FOR PERFECT MOUNTAINTOP CAMPING CLOSE TO HOME IN SAN DIEGO

 

A “Staycation in East County”

By Jack Riordan

Photo, left: The Desert View Trail at the Burnt Rancheria Campground is a very easy and dog-friendly one mile scenic loop through the campground to a rewarding view of the desert floor below.  Photo by Jack Riordan.

November 1, 2017 (Mount Laguna) -- Nestled in the pines, beneath a blanket of starlight, you’ll find Burnt Rancheria.  As part of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in the Cleveland National Forest, this lush east county campground sits at 6000 feet above sea level, offering dream-like mountain scenery, as well as an easy escape from the day to day life in the city.

HIGH DESERT MOUNTAIN YOGA RETREAT OCT. 31-NOV. 3

 

A Weekend Getaway in San Diego's East County

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2017 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – You’re invited to soak and stretch your way to relaxation and Nirvana at the second High Mountain Desert Yoga Retreat, tucked among boulders high in the In-Ko-Pah and Jacumba mountains near the eastern San Diego County line.

This four-day healing event from October 31 to November 3 will include natural sulfur hot spring pools, healing sessions at the Desert View tower including Kundalini Tantra Yoga, Reiki healing, and crystal sound healing. Guests will also savor delicious vegan meals scenic hikes and some desert surprises, plus a three-day stay at the nearby Jacumba Hot Springs Resort.

SUNSET TO STARS: DINNER EXCURSIONS IN ANZA BORREGO DESERT AUG. 11 AND 16

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Dennis Mammana

July 26, 2017 (Borrego Springs) – California Overland Adventures invites you to a 5-hour sunset-to-stars excursion to experience the Anza-Borrego Desert on August 11 or August 16  from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. including an off-road adventure to rugged badlands, dinner and stargazing in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which USA Today has called a “stargazer’s paradise.”

Overnight camping options are also available on separate dates.

THE LOBSTER HOUSES OF PUERTO NUEVO

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

June 5, 2017 (Puerto Nuevo) -- Lobster dinners, Viagra coffee, ponchos and more are to be found in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, Mexico. 

The city, as legend has it, was named after a Newport cigarette billboard.  The legend goes there was a fishing village that offered cheap lobster dinners.  When people asked where to find this place, south of Rosarito Beach, the directions, before Google map, would instruct tourists to go to the Newport cigarette billboard and they would find this fishing village.  Puerto means “port” and Nuevo “new.”

WARNER SPRINGS RESORT REOPENS HISTORIC COTTAGES

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 29, 2017 (Warner Springs) – Ten historic cottages at Warner Springs Ranch Resort reopen this weekend, after the resort’s long closure for remodeling under new ownership.

“As they were in the past, Warner Springs Ranch Resort cottages are meant to provide a simple, rustic setting similar to that experienced in the old west…a place to create memories that last a lifetime,” an announcement from Warner Springs Resort reads. “You’ll find our cottages to be a comfortable environment to unwind after a great day on the golf course or on horseback.”

WEEKEND GETAWAY: HIKE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUPERBLOOM AT THE RANCH IN MALIBU

 

East County News Service

April 27, 2017 (Malibu) --With Southern California experiencing a “super bloom” after years of draught there is no better time to get out and enjoy the beautiful nature of the region.   But where to go, now that the Anza Borrego bloom is nearly over?

FLOWING FALLS AND FLOWERS: EARTH DAY IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2017 (Cuyamaca) –From flowing water falls to blooming wildflowers, nature put on a spectacular show in San Diego’s East County. On Saturday,  I headed out to the mountains, taking the Highway 79 exit north off I-8 to start with a visit to Green Valley Falls in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, followed by stops at Lake Cuyamaca  and picturesque Julian.

KIDS DISCOVER ADVENTURES AT SANTEE LAKES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 17, 2017 (Santee) – Santee Lakes is an idyllic place to let kids enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood.  On a sunny afternoon over spring break, kids at the lakes gleefully discovered their inner Tom Sawyer or Becky Thatcher. 

I spotted a group of kids piloting a pedal boat around one of several islands in the lake.   A large Canada Goose skidded to a water landing in front of another pedal boat, where a startled dad snapped photos while his kids looked on, pointing with delight.  

FLOAT YOUR BOAT AT RAIN-RESTORED LAKE MORENA

 

East County News Service

Boats, float tubes, canoes and kayaks are once again allowed after rains raised water levels

April 5, 2017 (Lake Morena) – For the first time in years, the boat launch at Lake Morena County Park is now open—and the county encourages you to gather up your fishing rods and bait for a day of fishing and fun.

BLOOMING IN JULIAN: LILAC FESTIVAL CONTINUES AT FORT CROSS OLD-TIMEY ADVENTURES

 

Also check out Julian Gold Rush Days at the Julian Mining Company just across the street

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – There’s still time to bring home a bouquet of fragrant lilacs as the Lilac Festival continues in its final day of the season at Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures today.  It’s all part of a revitalization of new activities reclaiming the region's  historical roots along Highway 78 just outside of Julian in San Diego's East County.

SYCUAN BREAKS GROUND ON CASINO EXPANSION INCLUDING NEW HOTEL AND EVENTS CENTER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 31, 2017 (El Cajon) –“This is truly our day. We’re here to celebrate,” Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez told a packed house during a groundbreaking on the Sycuan reservation for the tribe’s casino expansion.

The ambitious project will include a 12-story hotel resort with 300 rooms,  adult pool with swim-up bar, kids pool,  gardens including a 420-foot-long “lazy river,” new restaurants , spa,  60,000 in additional gaming space, and a spacious 11,401 square foot ballroom that can double as concert hall seating 1,200 or banquet room  with capacity for 700. The $226 million, 500,000 square foot project is slated to open in 2019.

HORSEBACK RIDING IS BACK AT WARNER SPRINGS RANCH RESORT

 

Latest phase in resort renovation follows renovated golf course

East County News Service

March 21, 2017 (Warner Springs)  – Warner Springs Ranch Resort (WSRR), the iconic San Diego County destination, has brought back horseback riding to its amenities available to the public.  The resort has partnered with Warner Valley Stables to provide guided rides at the Warner Springs Ranch Resort Equestrian Center through the miles of scenic trails surrounding Warner Springs.

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT NAMED FOUR-STAR HOTEL BY FORBES TRAVEL GUIDE

 

East County News Service

March 9, 2017 (Alpine) -- Forbes Travel Guide has  unveiled its annual Star Rating list, naming Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine as a new Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. Viejas Casino & Resort will be showcased with all of the Star Rating recipients on ForbesTravelGuide.com. Read the Forbes review herehttp://www.forbestravelguide.com/san-diego-california/hotels/viejas-casino-resort.

RAMONA’S WINEMAKING COMES OF AGE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Mark and Miriam Raftery

Photos, left:  Bill Schweitzer, Ramona Valley Vineyards Association cofounder and past president at Highland  Hills Winery; Pamo Valley Tasting Room on Holiday Wine Tour

January 8, 2017 (Ramona) –“2016 is going to be our greatest vintage so far. Everybody says it came in perfect,” says Bill Schweitzer, cofounder of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) in 2002,  and a driving force in attaining an American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation for Ramona back in 2006.  That’s due to the ideal combination of heat, rains and drought years—as well as years of efforts by local vintners now savoring the fruits of their labors.

Sipping wine on the sunny patio at Highland Valley Winery during the Holiday Wine Trail event in December, he reflected that back in 2001,  Ramona had just one winery (Schwaesdall) and 20 vineyards growing grapes.  Today, there are at least 29 wineries in Ramona, soon to be 35, and 150 vineyards.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS: TIPIS AT LAKE JENNINGS NOW AVAILABLE FOR CAMPING ADVENTURES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Robin Norris Kendall, Miriam Raftery, and Mike Uhrhammer

November 15, 2016 (Lakeside) – If you love camping but don’t want to lug around camping gear, now there’s a fun new camping experience at Lake Jennings in San Diego’s East County:  tipis!

They’re spacious – each measures 20 feet in diameter, made of canvas from Colorado and pine wood poles from Montana.  Tipi (also spelled tee-pee) is a Lakota Sioux Indian word meaning “living in.” The Native Americans used buffalo hides to make their tipis, which were toted on horseback from site to site across the Great Plains. 

HOLLYWOOD CASINO JAMUL–SAN DIEGO TO CELEBRATE PREMIER OPENING MONDAY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Byron Croft: top, Richard St. Jean and Penn National team; right, Final Cut steakhouse view.

 

October 9,2016 (Jamul) – “I’m like a proud parent,” Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego vice president and general manager Richard St. Jean said,  during a preview tour of the 200,000 square foot facility on Saturday.  This has been a long time coming.”

The casino will opening to the public on Monday at 2 p.m., after an 11 a.m.ribbon-cutting for Penn National Gaming executive team members and tribal members of the Jamul Indian Village of the Kumeyaay Nation.

SANTA CATALINA – THE ISLAND OF ROMANCE

 

By Leon Thompson

Photos by Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2016 (26 miles across the sea) – Catalina is the perfect romantic getaway.   The beautiful shores of Catalina Island “The Island of Romance” is an easy boat ride from San Pedro to a whole different world.  A world of Mediterranean charm where you can picnic, stroll the beach, watch whales the dolphins play and discover a secluded cove.  Put away your watch because you will be on “island time.” So how did this unique place come to be?

NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP JUNE 25-26 IN BORREGO SPRINGS



By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2016 (Borrego Springs) –In June, the Milky Way will be  a spectacular sight to behold in the night sky over Borrego Springs.   You can join world famous night sky photographer Dennis Mammana  to learn the fine art and science of capturing the Milky Way with your camera, along with many other remarkable celestial sights visible in the clear, dark desert sky at a night sky photography workshop June 25-26.

EARTH DAY PARTY AT THE TRIPLE H RANCH B&B IN LAKESIDE

 

 

East County News Service

April 21,2016 (Lakeside) – You’re invited to a fun and festive Earth Day celebration and birthday party for the new Triple H Ranch bed and breakfast, 12453 Yerba Valley Road in Lakeside from 1 to 8 p.m.

Activities for the whole family include tours of gardens and the bed and breakfast, a petting zoo, face painting, an open gallery, mosaic making, music, plant and seed exchange and gifts, poster and photo contests, and a pot luck luncheon.

ZIPOLITE - THE HIPPIE PARADISE ON THE OAXACAN RIVIERA

 

By Sam Warren

March 5, 2016 (Mexico) - How did I come to live over a thousand miles away in the sleepy Mexican beach town of Zipolite? I love San Diego. Unfortunately, as a writer who has never had a best seller, I didn't salt enough money into my Social Security to survive in a city with such a high cost of living such as San Diego. When a friend told me about this hippy beach town in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, I had to go check it out. So I flew down with a couple of friends to see the area and decided that this was where I wanted to retire. It isn't the end of the world and as they have WiFi, I can still communicate with friends with email and Skype. There are also a number of other writers living or visiting the area.

CROCS AND KINGS

 

By Sam Warren

February 4, 2016 (Zipolite, Mexico) -- Two friends of mine, Sophia and Carlos from San Diego, were visiting me at my bed and breakfast in Zipolite, Mexico, and I was showing them around the area.  We visited a nearby lagoon where the government had set up a crocodile reserve in a nearby lagoon named Ventanilla. It was named after the Spanish word for window as there was a nearby rock in the ocean with a square hole in it that looked like a window opening. We got into a boat with a young Mexican guide, another young Mexican who helped with the paddling, and the other passengers.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR AT LA CASA DEL ZORRO RESORT

 

 

East County News Service

February 4, 2016 (Borrego Springs)--From a romance-filled Valentine's Day special dinner to an exceptionally beautiful wildflower season just around the corner, there are plenty of reasons to fall in love with La Casa del Zorro Resort in Borrego Springs this month.

BAJA BLOG: VINTANGO AND QUINTO ELEMENTO IN GUADALUPE VALLEY

 

By Susan A Mahalick

Photos of Vintango provided by Jo Ann Martino

November 13, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--It was a fine fall day to visit one of my favorite winemakers, Jo Ann Knox Martino who owns Vintango. She has been making wine for six years now and this year she only put up Nebbiolo. In years previous she has done Zinfandel and a blend of  Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. She harvested 16 tons of grapes and put up 15 barrels of this wine. She still has 10 cases left of my favorite, the 2011 Zinfandel, which she poured for my friend, Rocky, and I. She is also experimenting with pomegranate wine since there are trees on the ranch. We were able to sample some of this as well and give feedback she appreciated.

DESERT JEWEL: LA CASA DEL ZORRO RESORT SHINES ANEW

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2015 (Borrego Springs) – Treasure hunters have long been drawn to the Anza-Borrego Desert, seeking gold and precious gemstones. But the real treasure to be found today is La Casa del Zorro Resort, restored to its former splendor with a hospitality that welcomes all—a sparkling oasis amid the desert sands.

Whether you’re heading out for this weekend’s 50th anniversary Borrego Days Desert Festival and parade, or seeking an off-season adventure in summer, spring or fall, La Casa del Zorro provides a delightful haven year-round.

CHILI COOKOFF FUND RAISER AT LA SALINA 2015

 

Article and photos by Susan A Mahalick

August 7, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--Another beautiful summer day for this now locally famous annual event dawned just like most this time of year, with a light marine layer and cool temperatures. The event would not start until 11 a.m., when people have to start cooking their entries on site to be ready for judging and tasting at 2:30 p.m. Booths were mostly set up the night before, with one couple who always has the best spot in the first place where most people start their tasting. Frank and Darlene, who live here, have entered since the first cook-off seven years ago. Two hundred and eighty to three hundred and twenty people were estimated to have attended the event.

BAJA BLOG: 5TH ANNUAL DAVE CLARK SAND GOLF TOURNAMENT AT LA SALINA

 

By Susan A Mahalick

Article and photos by the author

August 4, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--The day dawned as it usually does this time of year, with a marine layer clinging to the hills to the west of the beach. It is supposed to be 80 degrees later in the day, but for the game which is supposed to start at 11 a.m. this is perfect, especially in the shade. Thirty two people signed up for the fun event and played in teams of two or up to five. This is a usual amount I am told by Jesse, the cantina manager who has been here for many years.

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