• Pamela Froman

Spring Getaways

Spring break isn't just for college students anymore. These days there are unique getaways for everyone from families who want bonding time to adventurous singletons to couples who wish for a little spring-flavored romance.

Here in California, there are some destinations that especially pleasant to visit during spring.

You can experience what life was like as a guest of W. R. Hearst at the world-famous Hearst Castle. Encounter the majesty and beauty of this historical treasure first-hand with a guided tour. Offered every spring, the Evening Tour allows visitors to travel back in time and view the historic California mansion in the twilight and evening hours. Guests and staff dress in 1930s period attire and meander about the Castle as part of the Living History Program.

Yosemite is stunning in spring. The waterfalls put on their best show, the dogwood trees are on display, and plants sprout gorgeous green leaves. Bridalveil Fall is one of the most spectacular, with a spray that reaches half of its 620-foot height. You'll also find wildflowers blooming everywhere.

Meteor showers are Mother Nature's fireworks. The Lyrids meteor shower occurs in mid-April as a burst that usually lasts for less than a day, so you'll need to check the exact dates for this year. The brighter the moon is, the fewer of the meteors you'll be able to view. Some of the best places to check out these bright lights are Death Valley, Big Sur, Mendocino, and Scenic Highway 395.

As the weather warms and the flowers begin to bloom there are some amazing and unique spots all over the world to unwind, relax, and just have a great time.

Austin, Texas is an eccentric city with hidden gems. Awake your curiosity at the quirky Cathedral of Junk. This huge and extraordinary structure is composed of over 60 tons of trash. Owner and creator, Vince Hannemann, began building it in 1988. It's a wonderful way to celebrate waste!

Explore the world of the dinosaurs at the Zilker Botanical Garden in downtown Austin. It recreates these huge lizards' natural habitat, with sculptures that look frozen in time. As well, there's a stunning waterfall and Hamilton Pool, an emerald swimming hole surrounded by rocky canyons and a collapsed grotto. Enjoy a swim or go for a peaceful hike.

You can have an exotic spring break getaway by visiting The Bay Island of Utila in Honduras. It's a perfect destination. Chill out on a white sand beach as the sun reflects on the crystal blue water. Also, the island offers amazing diving with the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Get up close and personal with creatures like moray eels, eagle rays, sea turtles, and whale sharks.

Madrid, Spain is an awesome spring-time destination. The city is known for its history, food, and culture. View Madrid's gorgeous cherry blossoms at the Quinta de Los Molinos park, or make the most of the sunny weather by exploring the city by bike – there are bike stations everywhere. Springtime is also a lovely time to enjoy the city's outdoor drinking culture, whether on a lovely plaza or a cool rooftop bar.

Getting away to a tropical paradise in beautiful Jamaica is the perfect spring escape. If you're staying near Montego Bay, Runaway Bay or Ocho Rios, you have to check out the waterfalls. Dunn's River Falls is the most well known, but Konoko Gardens and Falls is amazing too. Make sure you don't miss swimming at the Blue Hole or floating down the White River on a river raft. And make sure you try the ackee and saltfish – it's the national dish!

Are you ready to shake your moneymaker? The island of Pag in Croatia is party central. Pag is crawling with tourists ready to meet up, celebrate, and dance the night away – especially on Zrce Beach. Hosting music festivals and 24-hour parties, Zrce is one of Europe's most popular destinations and one of the most photographed beaches in the world. You can also work out on the beach, play in the water, bungee jump, or chill on a boat.

Cozumel is a great spring-time destination that is the perfect combination of fun and culture. Have a drink at the famous Senor Frogs, or explore the Mayan Ruins in Tulum. Cozumel also offers many all-inclusive beach resort hotels. You can swim with dolphins or snorkel right off the beach.

Explore all types of terrain and weather at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. There are stunning yellow and black sand beaches, the cosmic desert around the volcano, deep green forests of Anaga, and lovely Spanish towns with loads of interesting spots. You can take a sunbath on the beach or hike the snowy peak of Teide Volcano all in one day.

New Orleans is always a blast. On Mardi Gras parades and parties transform the already lively city into one giant celebration. New Orleans is also known for its music. Jazz Fest takes place at the end of April and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The music ranges from superstars to local acts. You can also chow down on some of the best food out there.

One of the best destinations during spring is Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana offers stunning white sand and gorgeous blue water, plus the temperature is perfect. Even in spring, it feels like a summer getaway.

South Beach, Miami is amazing and super fun. There are cool nightclubs, hip day bars, DJs playing pool parties on the strip, and of course delicious cocktails. South Beach offers all the ingredients for a perfect spring getaway.

For a spring break experience with culture and plenty to do visit Cartagena, Colombia. You can rent a private boat and explore the Rosario Islands or spend the day walking through the historic walled section of the city. After you've explored, head over to the Getsemani neighborhood for cafes and street art. There are endless places to grab dinner and drinks.

You can head to Tamarindo, Costa Rica which is a tropical surf town. Catch some amazing waves, create friendships and relax on the beach at Witch's Rock Surf Camp, a week-long family surfing camp. When you're not on the water, enjoy yoga, go hiking, or go on a horseback ride through the jungle.

Want to go camping? Look to Wildland Trekking, which organizes guided hiking vacations. Destinations range from Colorado to Ecuador to Iceland, including four-day family spring break tours in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and Havasu Falls in Arizona.

Cycling is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and explore. Trek Travel features a four-day guided bike tour of Zion National Park in Utah, where you cycle up to 21 miles per day, as well as hike and just enjoy the sunset over the canyon. As well, tour operators, like VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, allow electric pedal-assist bikes available to riders, which makes climbing elevations a breeze.

A guest ranch is a perfect place to hone your wild west side. Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona offers naturalist-guided hikes, mountain biking tours, horseback trail rides, and fishing. At Mayan Dude Ranch in Texas, you start your day with a Cowboy Breakfast cookout and then enjoy horseback trail rides, country music, and of course, real live cowboys.

All aboard! You'll begin your journey in Chicago aboard an Amtrak train to the Grand Canyon. This six-day tour with Vacations by Rail offers incredible views of the changing landscape before arriving at Williams Junction in Arizona. A second rail trip that's a great fit is the four-day Coast Starlight Experience that takes you between Seattle and Los Angeles.

Get ready to take your next spring adventure!

St. Patrick's Day

It's time to go green. Here are some fun places to celebrate the luck of the Irish!

Ireland's 32 in Van Nuys is the perfect place to party like you're a leprechaun. The pub was named for the 32 counties of the green isle. Expect live music, Irish beers and whiskeys, and delicious dishes like bangers and mash or shepherd's pie.

JJ Sullivan's Irish Pub in Woodland Hills will party down with an endless array of Irish bands, bagpipers, Irish dancers — and of course, green beer.

The Tipsy Goat in Thousand Oaks celebrates all things Irish this St. Patty's Day with big crowds to prove it. Food options include Tipsy Tacos, Taters, Toast, Melt, and even a Tipsy Cheeseburger. There's also Irish delicacies like Irish pilour, corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie and fish 'n' chips.

Oh Grady's in Granada Hills is an Irish bar full of shamrock fun. There are live bands and green beer. What more do you need? (818) 368-8424

Paul Brown is back at Bogie's in Westlake Village with an all-star band, including legendary drummer Tony Braunagel, bassist Bob Glaub (Jackson Browne ), sax man Greg Vail and pianist Marco Basci. And the man with the incredible voice and compelling songs, Joee Corso gives a sneak preview of his upcoming cd. It's going to be a big St Patricks Day Party so bring your green and get ready for a great night of entertainment!

The 32nd Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade takes place on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at 10 a.m. on Main St. in downtown Ventura. This year's theme is Memories of the Past.

St. Patrick's Day Celebration and Shamrock Shuffle 5K and Fun Run features live music, entertainment, food, activities, contests, games, and drawings for several prizes. Face painting, rock climbing, inflatable rides, photo booth. March 14, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. AHCCC, 27040 Malibu Hills Road, Calabasas. or

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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