Best things to See and Do in Pacifica, California

Friday September 30, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 6 Comments

"sunset in Pacifica"

Stroll the many beaches of Pacifica in Northern California at sunset.

Are you visiting Pacifica for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in this Northern California oceanfront oasis.

Visitors from out of town will be blown away by the natural beauty of this area.  Pacifica offers surfing at Linda Mar Beach, hiking along Mori’s Point or exploring the many parks that are protected by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the world’s largest urban parks,  providing unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean.

For more ocean views, check out San Pedro Valley Park. Located in Park Pacifica, this ethereal, vista-packed trail brings wonderful solitude and views of the ocean. If the fog factor sends you indoors, Ocean Yoga offers daily classes for yoga enthusiasts of all levels.

Walk to the top of Sweeney Ridge, the discovery site of the San Francisco Bay Area. Not looking for exercise? Milagra Ridge offers spectacular views, without the uphill climb.

Too bad Gaspar de Portola didn’t have an iPhone  back in 1769 when he came upon the famous peak at Sweeney Ridge. Bring your camera here, as this is the discovery site of the Bay Area by de Portola.  If you are not feeling adventurous for a serious hike, you can stroll the many beaches at sunset.  The town has oceanfront lodging if you decide to to stay for the evening and listen to the lullaby of the ocean waves.

"Pacific oceanfront hiking trail"

Hiking along an oceanfront trail in Pacifica, California

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in Pacifica

If you are looking for great local cuisine, I recommend watching the sunset over dinner at Nicks Restaurant in Rockaway Beach. Gorilla BBQ in Vallemar is famous for its Pork Ribs and a stint on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Tam’s Chinese Honey and Walnut Prawns are not to be missed.

The best item on the menu at Granuccis is the Sea Bass.  The place for the best hamburger is Rockin’ Robs, voted by Rand McNally as one of the best stops for a burger and milkshake.

Looking for cheap food in Pacifica? Go to the oceanfront Taco Bell in Linda Mar Beach which was rated #9 on The Travel Channel’s World Best Fast Food Stops.

Go to Café Pacifica a great coffee and fresh pastries. Or Salada Beach Café and High Tides for a delicious breakfast.

High Tides or La Playa are the places for expensive meals that are worth the price.

Enjoy a night out on the town? Try A Grape in the Fog for wine.

The Frontierland Park offers a great place to take your family for a picnic and enjoy the annual Fourth of July Festival fireworks display.  Or, take the kids to Pacifica Skate Park – a free and safe skateboarding mecca located behind the Pacifica Community Center.

"Pacifica Pier"

Watch pelicans and dolphins from Pacifica’s Pier

In Pacifica,  try your hand at fishing or watch the dolphins and pelicans cruise by from the Pacifica Pier.

Looking for a little exercise?  Walk along Mori Point or the many beaches, or take a surfing lesson at Linda Mar Beach.  Sharp Park Golf Course is an ocean side jewel, designed by Alistar MacKenzie who was also responsible for the Augusta National Gold Course in Georgia, where the Masters Tournament is played.

"Sam's Castle"

Have you visited Sam’s Castle in Pacifica, California – what a trip

Have you heard about Sam’s Castle? Run by the Pacifica Historical Society, the castle was built in 1908 by Henry Harrison McClosky. Thanks to the Sam Mazza Foundation you can visit this former brothel, speakeasy, and party palace. Watch out for the ghosts. I’ve heard the castle is haunted. If you are a museum or theater lover, Pacifica’s best museum is the Sanchez Art Center.   The best theater performances are performed by the Pacifica Spindrift Players.

Plenty to See and Do in Pacific, California

In the springtime foodies should attend Taste of Pacifica, held at Nick’s Restaurant in Rockaway. This annual event showcases a lot of  Pacifica’s wonderful restaurants.

In the fall, make plans to attend Fandango Dinner and Dance at the Sanchez Adobe benefiting the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce.  This is the kick-off to Fog Fest (details below) and is a festive, Spanish themed dinner dance.

September- Annual Pacific Coast Fog Festival on Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica.  The festival was created in 1986 to promote Pacifica’s coastal climate, and includes a parade, sand castle contest and marching band competition.  Arts and crafts booths, food, and the famous FogCutter cocktail define this street fair extravaganza.

October The Golf Tournament at Sharp Park Golf Course includes 18 holes of golf (best ball), lunch and dinner at the course, along with awards and prizes.

Pacifiica also has the Coastside Farmer’s Market at Rockaway Beach, held from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday.

"Northern California Surfers"

Take a surfing lesson at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California

Celebrate Fog in Pacifica at Pacific Coast Fog Fest

Did you know that Pacifica is known for its annual celebration of Northern California coastal living? Plan a visit to Pacific Coast Fog Fest in the fall. The Festival includes the Discover Pacifica Parade, a sand castle contest and a marching band competition.

Come for bowling at Sea Bowl during the winter or have a glass of wine at Grape in the Fog.  The wine bar has events most Wednesday and Sunday nights.

Insider Tip: Check out the Sanchez Adobe, an historic site built in the 1840’s.  The Adobe is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.  Admission is free for children under 6.  A $1.00 donation is requested of all other visitors.  Take your kids to Rancho Days at the Sanchez Adobe.

Did you know that San Francisco is located just 15 minutes north of  Pacifica, in Northern California? You’ll want to discover Pacifica for yourself on foot.  Hike the many trails and stroll the beaches.

Don’t miss Frontierland Park or an overnight stay by the ocean in Rockaway Beach if you have kids traveling with you.  The skatepark and the Segway tour along the ocean bluffs are great family friendly activities.

Have you been to Pacifica? What are your favorite things to do in Pacifica, California? To learn more about Pacifica, Visit Pacifica’s website.

Related Post:

Insider Tips for Things to Do in San Francisco, California

Thanks to Pacifica Visitor’s Center for assistance with this post and photos.

Things to See and Do in Las Vegas, Nevada

Friday September 23, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

Visiting Las Vegas, Nevada? Take a trip down the strip.

Planning a trip to LAS VEGAS? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Sin City.

A must-do in Vegas, especially for the first time visitor, is to see all of the hotels and casinos on the strip.  Each one is an attraction of its own, with its own theme. The shows in Las Vegas are also really like nowhere else in the world. One show I always take visitors to is Mesmerized- a hypnosis show. I’ve seen it several times and still am amazed every time at the things the hypnotist makes the audience do.

If you are looking for typical Vegas cuisine, I recommend the buffet at the Wynn. Las Vegas is the city of gluttony and this place is the ultimate in great food in exorbitant amounts. The buffet has just about every kind of food you can imagine – from Kobe beef burgers to pizza to sushi- and it’s all exceptionally well done.

Looking to get away from the bright lights of the city? Take a day trip to the Grand Canyon. No place can make you feel as small as this massive canyon in the middle of the desert.

"Grand Canyon" "Nancy D. Brown"

Feel like escaping the Las Vegas strip? Take a side trip to the Grand Canyon.

Las Vegas casinos

When you come to Las Vegas, take your picture in front of every casino on the strip. 

Seeing a lot of gambling? Las Vegas is best known for its casinos. However, Las Vegas has plenty of other entertainment like the amazing shows for you to enjoy while you’re in town. Las Vegas is also host to plenty of trade shows during the year such as Luxury Travel Expo.

"Mandalay Bay" las vegas strip, travel

MIX lounge at the top of Mandalay Bay offers an amazing view of the Las Vegas Strip at night

Views of the Las Vegas strip at night

The observatory on top of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, the Eiffel tower at the Paris Hotel & Casino and the MIX lounge at the top of the Mandalay Bay offer an amazing view of the Strip at night.

If you feel like escaping the big city, there are plenty of activities and parks to see around Las Vegas. Just to name a few: Mount Charleston, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Area 51 and the  Grand Canyon.

"Cosmopolitan Bamboo Pool Las Vegas"

Have a daytime pool party atThe Cosmopolitan’s Bamboo Pool.

The casinos on the strip are so huge you will do quite a lot of walking in Las Vegas, make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. In case you are wondering, walking is definitely the best way to explore the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Museums
Las Vegas has a few interesting museums you might want to consider checking out while in town. The most popular ones are: Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, The Neon Museum and the Madame Tussaud’s Museum.

Enjoy a night out on the town? There are plenty of options to choose from and your dancing doesn’t only have to happen at night. There are some great daytime pool parties during the warmer months from April through October like Encore Beach at the Encore, Rehab at MGM Grand, and many others. At night, some of the most popular dance clubs are Tao at The Palazzo, Lavo, and XS.

"TAO" nightclub "Palazzo" "Las Vegas"

One of the popular nightclub’s on the Las Vegas strip is TAO at Palazzo

If you have some extra time you should go downtown and check out Fremont Street for a somewhat more local feeling of Las Vegas. View the Fremont Street Experience and other street performances.

Traveling with kids in Las Vegas

If you are traveling with kids, you might want to take them to the Adventuredome Theme Park at Circus Circus Hotel. If you are able to afford a big splurge, I think a better spend would be on one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows. I went to “O” at the Bellagio and it was fantastic!

What are your favorite things to do in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Thanks to Eran Ackerman, founder of for assistance with this post. Grand Canyon photo courtesy of Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.

Sage Springs Spa at Sunriver, Oregon

Friday September 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 0 Comments

Sage Springs Spa

Massage Therapy in Sunriver, Oregon at Sage Springs Spa

Truth be told, I’ve never met a massage I didn’t like. The Sage Springs Spa in Sunriver Resort is no exception. Walking into the Central Oregon club and day spa, guests and members are immediately embraced in the spirit of the high desert region with its massive stone fireplace in the lobby, high beamed ceilings and rock pillars by the reception area.  Once ushered into the Sage Springs Spa, the smell of indigenous, natural and organic products fill your senses, while water features and subtle music play in the background. Open year round, the two story building includes the first floor day spa, as well as an indoor fitness center,  featuring three tennis courts, state-of-the art conditioning center and three lane lap pool.

Make sure to arrive early to your spa treatment to fully enjoy the steam room and hot tub, as they are especially inviting for relaxing sore muscles after a day of horseback riding, river rafting, skiing or outdoor adventure in Central Oregon.

Sage Springs Spa lobby

The lobby of Sage Springs Spa at Sunriver Resort in Central Oregon

Sage Springs Spa Facilities

Once inside Sage Springs Spa, your nose will guide you to the day spa with its aromatherapy scents. Spa guests are shown to the locker room and provided with a private locker,  plush robe and spa slippers. From here guest may relax in the steam room, hydrotherapy spa or chill in the lounge with a hot cup of tea or lemon water.

Sage Springs Spa Treatments

From sun up to sun down, there is a Sage Springs Experience for everything your heart desires. Wake up tired skin with a scrub, try a Sunriver body wrap, hot stone massage or Sage Springs pedicure.

My 50-minute Gemstone Energy Massage rocked. My therapist, Debbie Simmons, introduced me to three ISUN gemstone massage oils to choose from. While the Rose Quartz Crystal energy supposedly opens the heart and elevates the spirit, the Amethyst Quartz Crystal is said to have calming and purifying benefits. I opted for the garnet gemstone, noted for giving strength to the body and grounding the nervous system. Personally, I liked the garnet smell and who am I to pass up on extra strength for my body?

Sage Springs hydrotherapy spa

Relax under the stars in Sage Springs hydrotherapy spa

According to Sage Springs Spa Esthetician Debbie Simmons, Isun skincare founder Bunnie Gulick, “adds the best ingredients, with gemstone infused in small batches to absorb the energy of the crystal.” While I didn’t walk away from the Gemstone Energy Massage channeling my inner Superman; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was definitely relaxed and feeling grounded. Sage Springs Spa: I’ll be back!

What are your favorite things to do in Sunriver, Oregon? Follow Sunriver Resort on Twitter and follow Travel Writer and Spa Reviewer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter for insider tips to travel destinations.


If You Go:

Sage Springs Spa

(541) 593-7891

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Things to Do in Sunriver, Oregon

Sage Springs Spa review and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, who visited August 2011.

As is typical in the travel industry, the author received a complimentary spa treatment during her visit.